On cooking

Baking is science, but cooking is like sex.

What worked one time might not get you where you want it the next time. You use your experience to adjust, tweak & finesse. When you get it right you just know.

Sometimes you need things to be hot, hard and fast, sometimes you need it gentle and slow and easy.

It takes a lot of passion, and dedication, and patience.

When people like what you do, they tend to moan, and say "oh my god" a lot, and their eyes roll back in their heads. (that’s the best!)

All the comments in this thread are golden.

Via Things you have to explain to people who haven't worked in kitchens : KitchenConfidential.

What Can Men Do?

If you’re reading this, there’s about an 80% chance that you’re a man. So after you give me the secret man club handshake, let’s talk about what we men can do, right now, today, to make programming a more welcoming profession for women.


Also applies to the service industry, particularly in the kitchen. I’m not the only one who thinks this way (there are too many places you can find that. If you work in the service industry, you’ll know where to look.)


I need some. At least a few days off all my jobs. Somehow I ended up with four of them.

I want to sleep now because I don’t know if I’ll be able to once I’m dead.

Brings to mind Carlos Hank, doesn’t it?

Willimon paused in the retelling, intrigued all over again by the complexity of the situation. “That decision” — how to respond to a moment of public embarrassment and media distortion, how to counter, and outflank, the people who are trying to define, and defeat, you — “is the sort of thing Francis Underwood is thinking about all the time.”

via The Post-Hope Politics of ‘House of Cards’ – NYTimes.com.

Technological skill vs. Ego

The Phone Dragnet That Caught the World’s Top Drug Lord – Slashdot.
Anatomy of an Apprehension: The Three Keys to Catching El Chapo Guzman.

The first thing that popped into my mind was that most people purporting to be narcos will always use top of the line phones, usually iPhones. As cool as these things are, they are remarkably easy to poke full of holes if you’ve got the right toolset, just like governments do. That’s even before the arrest of a narco leads to government having physical possession of the device, and as we all know once someone has that, all bets are off.

It is specifically mentioned they were using satellite phones, all the more to avoid monitoring by Mexican carriers who deny any kind of monitoring takes place, but is widely rumored to be happening on a national scope. These phones are made for durability and reliability, not security, so the extraction of data was probably even easier.

The narco adoration of bling (their version of it) with expensive electronics (phones, computers, televisions, cars) is proving to be costing them victories, specially because most of the time they simply don’t know how how to use them.

Most of these people did not get any form of higher education. If they did, they did not learn how to use the technologies available to them properly. If they do know how to use it, they will usually stick to the most basic form of usage, as they do not care to learn more. Advanced functions like encryption would simply be done away with due to usage complexity.

Any sort of advanced usage would necessarily lead to the need of having a proper IT support staff, even if it’s just the one guy who fixes cartel computers. Having precisely such a thing would be completely out of the question, as then someone would have far more knowledge about a cartel’s operations than even the top boss does.

Another, more important factor, is ego. These people see themselves as guys who get stuff done, who want to be where the action is. To be left behind in a support role on a permanent basis is, put simply, inconceivable to them. Internal cartel divisions have started precisely because of this.

Hopefully now that el Chapo is back in custody, things will calm down… although it is very unlikely. One can only hope for the best.



It wasn’t until now that I looked. I realized it had been a while since I heard anything from you.

Far too little, far too late. I should’ve thought… but I had thought you had made it. I’m sorry.

Thank you.


No matter how much I try to get to sleep early, I just never can.

No matter how much effort I put into pursuing some… Relationship, it never pans out.

No matter. It will always be better as long as I keep my head down and put in the effort.

Plenty of people tell me I can sleep when I’m dead.

Do coke? You’re a little nazi sympathizer

But you can eat sustainably every day of your life and give to charity every year, and it all gets wiped out with one line of coke. Who cares if you were a nice guy if in your spare time you burned witches?

via Cocaine trafficking horrors: Users are complicit in the atrocities of the drug trade..

I know many, many people who think “what’s the harm in a little fun”, preferring marijuana, cocaine, or meth to alcohol or cigarrettes.

The difference lies not in the legality of any of the drugs. It lies in the suffering. People making alcohol usually love their jobs, lovingly making a product that people can rave about.

The others get made by poor people suffering under the yoke of violence and poverty, with the exception being the legal trade in recreational marijuana in some states.

Debian and google-talkplugin

A few months ago I lost the capability of making phone calls through Gmail on my Debian laptop or through Google Voice. While it was a bit of an annoyance, I never minded it much because I always had my phone or my Windows 8 laptop available and I could use them instead.

A few days ago I tried using Google Hangouts out of curiosity because it keeps getting props as a good service to make video calls with and since Skype keeps getting worse and worse all the time.

Okay, so Hangouts only works on Chrome. Fine, I’ve got Chromium installed. Fire it up, install the extension… then nothing. Hangouts couldn’t connect to the AV hardware. Logged in to Gmail, tried making a phone call… same thing.

Now I had two separate browsers have the same issue on the same system. A bit of searching drove me to a few blog posts here and there, but nothing in detail. Then I struck gold with this post buried in the Google Products forum:

This worked for me:

This turned out to be a libudev problem. It seems I had two versions installed for some reason. Removing libudev0 solved the problem. My version of chrome depended on that version, so I had to reinstall that as well.

$ dpkg --get-selections | grep -i libudev
libudev0:amd64 install
libudev0:i386 deinstall
libudev1:amd64 install
libudev1:i386 install
$ apt-get remove google-chrome-beta
$ apt-get remove libudev0
$ dpkg -i ./google-chrome-beta_current_amd64.deb

First I checked what libudev libs were installed, finding out both libudev0 and libudev1 were installed just like in the forum post, so the fix was pretty straightforward:

# aptitude remove chromium libudev0 iceweasel
# aptitude install chromium iceweasel

That was pretty much it. After this, I tried placing a call through Gmail on Iceweasel and had no problems. Firing up Chromium and trying to initiate a video call reported no issues either.

Everything is as it should be. Now if Google published a version of Picasa native to Linux…

Fixing a seemingly dead HP DV7 4060us

The Symptoms:
System is a laptop, namely a HP Pavilion dv7-4060us Entertainment Notebook PC. Upon pressing the power button, CPU fan spins up, then spins down to nominal speeds, caps lock light blinks once per second, WLAN light is a solid yellow/amber, and the LCD screen does not power on at all (as opposed to powering up but being blank) so there is no indication of POST.

This points right away to some sort of hardware failure, since the computer is by this point an eight pound paperweight.

The Diagnosis
Removed battery, HDD, RAM, CMOS battery for 15 minutes.
Reinstalled CMOS battery, RAM, battery. Connected AC adapter, same symptoms occur.

Checking HP’s support site for the DV7 gave no indication of HP even acknowledging the issue even exists.

A quick Google search gives various articles but the first two are the most relevant. This is from the first forum post:

“I’m on my sister’s laptop right now because when I went downstairs earlier my own computer decided to ‘check-out.’ Came back, black screen, flashing caps lock, tried to reboot, tried the hard reboot, nothing.

“Found a forum where some whack job with the same problem wrapped theirs in a sweater for 30 minutes and it fixed the problem. Click to the next page, tons of people swearing it works. Apparently, the intentional overheating causes it to power down appropriately then reboots. We’ll see if that works.”

While the second post appears to shed a little more light on the problem:

So I take it home, try usb bios reflash, no go. Capslock light blinks, no other lights, sounds, nothing.

Ok. So I open it, get my harborfreight heating gun and heat up both the video chips. The AMD one and the ATi one. As shown in picture below.

As soon as I put it all together and plug it in, it starts working and has been, constantly since two weeks ago. This laptop has not been turned off, standby nothing. Works perfectly. Sound, video, HDMI port all alive. Still switches video cards when you unplug the power adapter.

Hope this helps.

Also, this same solution worked for a Compaq Presario CQ60. That laptop didnt pickup the bios reflash either no matter what I tried. Turned on immediately after heating the video chip.

This reminded me of the Xbox 36′s Red Ring of Death (There’s even a wikipedia article for all the issues it had!) and the first solution people found for it: The towel method. iFixit later came up with a more elaborate method that, like the post on Notebook Review, targets the culprit component: the video chipset.

The Fix

The DV7 was turned on, wrapped in a blanket, and left alone for half an hour. When the time was up, the laptop was turned off and let cool down for fifteen minutes. Powering it gave the symptoms. Laptop was turned on again, wrapped in a blanket, and then in another blanket, and left alone for two hours. When time was up again, laptop had powered off by itself. Unwrapped it, let it cool down for fifteen minutes. Power on gave POST, along with a helpful error message from the BIOS complaining about there being no hard drive installed in the system.

Hard drive was reinstalled. Powering on gave POST, then Windows boot. Windows didn’t seem to have any problems apart from having the wrong datetime, but that was expected since the CMOS battery was taken out. Device Manager reported no hardware issues

Since the hardware is now suspect, I told the owner of the laptop to better start saving for a replacement. At least now the whole thing turned from an unexpected monetary outlay into an expected expense. What gives me pause is that the DV7, like the Xbox 360, also has an AMD Radeon video chipset, so it could indicate an issue with AMD’s fabrication processes and that other laptops that have come out with the same chipset or components from the same AMD manufacturing lines will have the issue as well.

This should be on the books

There was really no threat of invasion though. While the final battle between the Mexica and the Native/Spanish forces is often lumped together as the "Siege of Tenochtitlan" there were skirmishes and battles happening around the Lake Texcoco basin.

via 400-Rabbits comments on What were the fortifications of Tenochtitlan before Cortés' conquest?.

I had always imagined that the Siege was mostly an overland affair, never really taking into account the fact that the whole city was on an island. Yeah, sure, the fact Cortes had ships built is mentioned, but you can’t have a clear idea of how they were used with two or three paragraphs in a school history textbook.

It shows the influence of modern geography on the perception of events that happened centuries ago.

Wallowing in it, in a bad way

My work has taken me on visits to a lot of classes. The thing that I have noticed is that a poor person will have zero idea what to do with a 401K should they get one. A rich person will have no idea how to cash a check if they don’t have a bank account. It’s a completely different skillset with disparate goals and values and norms. It is definitely a different culture.

For example: You need to score some illicit drugs. How do you do that? Rich answer: Ask your assistant. Middle-class answer: Ask your teenager. Poor answer: Walk outside.

Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts.

I’ve been there. I can consider myself fortunate that I’ve been able to let go of most vices, most wants, and am able to go for long stretches of time without actual employment.

But a big part of that is thanks to the middle-class trappings of my lower-class life. I live in a house with a full kitchen, laundry room, all utilities; all for a ridiculously low price. Were I renting an apartment by myself, I’d be working two jobs just to be able to pay rent, nevermind having the time to cook at home and go to the movies every so often.

I am fortunate to know how people of all social walks have lived, having been exposed to all of them at least briefly throughout my life. I know how to deal with rich people without having them try to own me. I know how to interact with middle class people in a fair manner. I know how to hustle with the poor like one of them — I know I’m poor but I try to afford myself the luxury of not feeling poor. Feeling poor saps your body of energy, robs your mind of steel and your spirit of joy.

But I can attest to the knowledge that it is hard to look at the stars while your back is bent toward the ground.

On The Meaning of Meals and their future

Subtitled “the invention of the American meal,” Three Squares is an engaging and eye-opening look at the economic and cultural forces that have shaped the country’s shifting formats of consumption over time — and, in turn, the changing meanings and value judgments that Americans have attached to those eating patterns.

The Meaning of Meals.

As a child of two countries, I can attest to the differences in food culture even when both of those countries are neighbors, but derive from completely different source cultures.

In Mexico, born of Spain and the old Mexica empire it, the food schedule is something like this:

  • Breakfast varies by family and, when heading out on your own as an adult, by person. Some eat heavy breakfasts, others keep it extremely light.
  • Lunch again varies by family and individual, mostly depending on work/school schedules. Usually kept to a single protein-based entree.
  • Dinner is in the late afternoon. It’s the one time the whole family sits down and interacts, usually over two or three courses (soup, entree, dessert).
  • Supper (usually known as the cena is usually kept light, owing to the fact it is usually eaten one or two hours before bedtime. Usually sweet bread and milk.

In my experience in both countries, it has been lunch that has been influenced the most by Mexico’s imitation of the cultural mores of the United States. For children and teenagers, lunch is usually had during recess at school. For adults, it varies wildly depending on the job and the availability for time, like breakfast.

Now, in the US, it usually goes like this:

  • Breakfast is usually two courses (fruit, protein) accompanied by juice and/or coffee.
  • Lunch again varies by family and individual depending on school/work schedules Schools try to have two courses on a single tray, while most adults go for a single entree.
  • Dinner is late in the evening, with three courses always called for (soup or salad, entree, dessert).
  • Supper is mostly a snack.

Mind you, these is what I remember from my own family experience. Being of Mexican origin, my elders tried to keep the schedule mostly the same but things had to change by necessity and adaptation of the social mores of our new adopted home.

A quick read on the art of the siege

It’s easy to speculate that the Greeks avoided sieges for as long as they could because they had the sense to realise how nasty things could get. The ancient and medieval world was under no illusions about the misery of sieges. The Mongols made that common knowledge into a military tool. When they wanted a city, they offered it three chances to surrender; three refusals, and the city would be razed to the ground and the inhabitants massacred.

via On Sieges by K. J. Parker — Subterranean Press.

Meanwhile, modern warmakers don’t have the sense to stop when they should, lacking a sense of how nasty things get before they get worse.