Month: November 2010

Another day in Boston

This time around just Keyron and I. Had to hit the Haymarket because I’ve been charged with making the Thanksgiving lasagna this year. And I want the sauce to be good so I’ve got 9lbs of plum tomatoes, a whole mess of basil, and that peeled garlic again.

I think when all is processed out I’ll get about 8 to 10 cups which is PLENTY of tomato sauce to make a lasagna. To put it into perspective it’s more than a half gallon of sauce. It’s so easy to do too though this time I’m going to have to do it in two batches.

I usually start by chopping up the tomatoes into little chunks. Then I chiffonade the basil. Mix it all together in my big 6qt. stainless steel bowl with a few tablespoons of olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon of salt per pound of tomatoes, pepper to taste, and even a little garlic powder.

Mix it all up and then lay it out on a baking sheet pan. Into a 350F oven for at least an hour, if not more. What you’re looking for here is that the tomatoes have exuded their juice and the juices are starting to condense. It’ll look similar to that below. You have to watch this one. Here’s what it looks like prior to being placed in the oven:

Before the Oven
Before the Oven

When you remove it from the oven it should look a bit like this:

Roasted
Roasted

When it reaches the stage shown above it’ ready to process. Plum tomatoes don’t seem to have a lot of seeds so I just run it all through the food processor using the chopper blade. You’ll end up with something like this:

The Finished Sauce
The Finished Sauce

Enjoy! And you have to admit, doesn’t this look better than the stuff you buy in a jar?

And yes I’ve posted these pix before but they’re total food porn and deserve to be shared again.

Fuck you Brian Brown

I mean it, fuck you and your little dog Christopher Plante too. Saying that economic issues trump civil rights issues, really???

You can listen to Brown and Plante wax on about the children, and about how our rights aren’t an issue. I seem to recall hearing the same from openly gay Speaker of the House in RI, Gordon Fox that civil rights were trumped by the states economic crisis.

Civil rights should NEVER be put to a vote. Ever. If in fact we could we’d see things against gay people, immigrants etc.

I am tired of the shit put forth by NOM and other groups like the AFA and FRC. I want us to raise enough money so that we can shout down these bigots. I’d love for a group to have the money to dog NOM’s little bigot bus with own buses that put forth true equality.

As to changing RI’s constitution, good fucking luck! It’s a very elaborate process that makes it deliberately difficult to get a ballot measure up let alone a vote to repeal our rights.

As to the African American community overwhelmingly against gay marriage is bullshit. How do I know? Because my SO is black. His family accepts me as one of their own. Imagine that. In their eyes we are already married.

It’s the African American pastors like that idiot Bishop Harry Jackson in DC spouting on about it. To him I’d say don’t you have anything better to rail against when there is still rampant discrimination against people of color in this country.

And Chris Plante – if you didn’t use fear tactics in your campaigns against the LGBT community maybe your measures wouldn’t have so easily passed. And the margins with which you got your agenda forward, well lets just say it’s statistically very interesting.

Consider the confusion on Prop 8 in California. Same in Maine. It makes me so happy that putting up a ballot issue is incredibly difficult here in RI.

And another note, the callers in support of the NOM position were interesting. You could tell which side they were on when they opened their mouth for the first time. It’s amazing how easy it is to spot the bigots.

And while I’m on a tear, the name of the group NOM expands to the National Organization FOR Marriage. But yet they’re against giving the right of marriage to LGBT people. Completely oxymoronic.

NOM doesn’t have a valid argument

So it seems Brian S. Brown and Christopher Plante (Both from NOM) went on former mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci’s radio show on WPRO.

The callers John, Midge and Mark made some VERY good points in our defense of full marriage equality.

You can listen to the show here.

What astounds me is that Brian Brown keeps banging his head on the “It’s all about the children” bit.

It is and it isn’t about the children Brian. Sure, some kids might just find out that there are in fact gay people out there and that we are really no different from everyone else. And yes, some of those kids may challenge the religious beliefs held by their parents. It isn’t called evolution for nothing!

Then of course there are the children of gay couples. They deserve every right and privilege that their cohort deserves from their straight parents. But according to Brown, there will be consequences!

But we also have the move by Brown and NOM to put marriage equality on the ballot in Rhode Island. Absolutely NOT! Every time our rights have been put to a PUBLIC referendum we’ve had our rights stripped away from us.

At least in Rhode Island getting the question on the ballot pretty much takes an act of the legislature. So like they say in the program, call and write your representatives. Tell them that gay people deserve the full and same measure of rights that straight people take for granted.

If you’d like to find out who your representatives are visit the RI Secretary Of State’s Voter Information Center. Then go to the Legislature web site and find your Representatives and Senators. They have contact information on their Constituent Services links.

Tell them we want equality. Nothing else will do.

New Hybrid Buses are Running the Streets in Providence

Saw this on my way to work this morning.

RIPTA Hybrid Bus
RIPTA Hybrid Bus

It doesn’t look like the Gillig hybrid, is RIPTA buying Nova Buses again? Interesting. They ride better than the Gillig’s that’s for damned sure.

Notice the hump. That is a battery pack. Allegedly these babies can get double the mileage of a standard bus. But get this, she runs on pure electric. For the first several miles it runs off the battery pack then uses a smaller engine to top off the pack and supply power to the drive system. In other words what trains have been doing for at least forty years now.

Allegedly the new trolleys are hybrids too. Gotta ride one and see how quiet they’ll be because the engine is smaller and less noisy.

If it wasn’t obvious, I’m also an electronics geek

I’m also a bit of an electronics geek besides being a computer software engineer too.

It’s why I’m always thinking of ways to apply certain technologies to every day problems.

So I found this very interesting open source set of books on various topics in electricity and electronics called “Lessons in Electric Circuits”

I’m reading the book on direct current or DC right now. I’m 25 pages into a 560 page document and so far we’ve covered static electricity, basic nuclear physics, voltage, current, voltage drop, and resistance. I cannot wait to read the other 535 pages!

What is more fascinating about these books is this:

This book is published under the terms and conditions of the Design Science License. These
terms and conditions allow for free copying, distribution, and/or modification of this document
by the general public.
The full Design Science License text is included in the last chapter.
As an open and collaboratively developed text, this book is distributed in the hope that
it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the Design Science
License for more details.
Available in its entirety as part of the Open Book Project collection at:
www.ibiblio.org/obp/electricCircuits

The bold section says it all. “These
terms and conditions allow for free copying, distribution, and/or modification of this document by the general public”

There are a series of SIX books in the series covering AC Circuits, Semiconductors, Digital Circuits, Reference material, and a lab or experiments manual. I have to say, pretty comprehensive stuff. And the book covers are interesting too. For example the straight road for DC, the curving road for AC, and the partially blocked road for semiconductors, and the multi-path for logic circuits.

I’m happy to see publications like the ones above. It encourages people to both learn and to actively contribute. This is where copyright falls flat on its face.

And think about it, electronics is simply the method of using the flow of current to do work of some sort. Whether it’s to light up an LED, or scroll information across an LCD screen, it’s all based on the principles of controlling current.

And I like how the books are organized. The two volumes for DC and AC will give you enough basic knowledge to start building oscillators, then radio receivers and who knows, radio transmitters. Or if you’re so inclined in the 5V world, you can used the Digital guide to understand Boolean logic and how to implement those via electronic circuits.

Enough geeking out for now. But check it out if you’re even remotely interested in how electronics gear works.

My Annual UPS Rant

So I read several food blogs. What can I say, one of my favorite things to do is baking. Breads, cookies, pastries, cakes, I know how to bake.

But I’m interested in other dishes too. I’ve done Japanese, Italian, and French. So when I saw this recipe for Savory Stuffed Pumpkin on the Soup Addict’s Blog and where it came from I had to have the cookbook.

It’s by Dorie Greenspan and called “Around My French Table”. First of all the photography is top notch. My kudos to photographer Alan Richardson for a job very well done.

Anyhow I elected to pay the $11 and get 2 day shipping on the book. The book itself was $25.00 when I bought it (It’s up to $26.40 now).

Tuesday rolls around, and there’s the familiar UPS InfoNotice on the door. Funny, someone was home ALL day but UPS obviously didn’t ring the doorbell.

So Tuesday night I sign the InfoNotice and stick it on the door. Wednesday afternoon I check and no package but the InfoNotice is gone. Weird.

By this point I’m calling UPS and ripping them a new one. My co-worker tells me I’m quite effective at pointing out the failings of the service. Anyhow this gets nowhere so I call Amazon.

Amazon cannot explain to me why they shipped a $25 item with signature required. I’d say that is a failing in Amazon’s shipping system. But at this point there’s nothing they’re willing to do but contact UPS and try to get it delivered.

So now I had to get creative:

UPS Notices
UPS Notices

By Thursday I login to the UPS web site and see delivery attempt number 3 had been made and that the shipment was now in exception mode.

Anyhow the driver if he/she had actually climbed the six steps would have most DEFINITELY seen the above.

The two day shipping I PAID for is now out to 4 days of what I call Tag and Run.

So I did what I always have to do with UPS, call them up and tell them I TAPED the InfoNotice to the door and the package was NEVER delivered. The folks at UPS then tell me that the driver is still nearby and they’ll have him deliver it.

I get home and there’s my package. I called Amazon and again asked why a $25 book was shipped with signature required. The Amazon representative could not explain it but offered to refund the shipping. Absolutley! Thank you! And I checked the account and they did refund the $11 and change.

If you really want it to be delivered with no hassle and no bullshit, deliver it via the United States Postal Service. Seriously, their Priority Mail package for a little under $8 is a great deal.

But unfortunately Amazon has a deal with UPS. So now I know, I’ll have to EXPLICITLY state in the ship notes NOT to ship it signature required.

But UPS is still shit. Notice they backed away from their “What can Brown do for you?” campaign because they realized people equated the color with shit, and the best description I’ve ever heard of UPS is “UPS is shit wrapped in chiffon”.

Ok, kudos for RIPTA now

So today I left the office about 7 minutes early. Got downtown just in time to get my connection.

Today was a record. I was home by 5:20PM. Not bad RIPTA. Of course now I know the trick.

If you do get in early you head north from the stop, not south into the plaza. Because then you can catch the connecting bus on Exchange Terrace.

Pretty much all the buses headed through the city go over Exchange Terrace.