Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Viewing the U.S. as roads
This pages shows a map of the U.S. consisting solely of simple lines for all of the roads. It's really interesting to try to pick out geographical features by analyzing the surrounding roads. The checkerboard of preserved farmland in the midwest is also very striking. It turns out Ben Fry (the creator artist artist who created this piece) is a specialist in visualizing data and just had a book published with that title. Check out his web site when you have some time to burn--he's done lots of cool stuff and has links to similarly cool stuff.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Antithesis of orange juice

Some things have opposites.
Some things don't.

Drinking orange juice after brushing one's teeth, has an opposite, which is
Drinking hot chocolate after brushing one's teeth.

What's that you say? Those things are too similar to be opposites? I have two replies:
1) Opposites typically have more commonalities than differences. Boy and girl are opposites, but they are both human, both young. Black and white are both colors.
2) Try it.

(Brushing your teeth makes orange juice taste bad because the foaming agent in toothpaste, sodium laur-something sulfate, blocks the sugar receptors on taste buds.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mangosteen in the U.S.!

I discovered last week that imported mangosteen are indeed available in the U.S.!
I was doing my ~bimonthly Asian food shopping at the Viet Wah supermarket in Seattle's Chinatown, and was surprised to find some bagged mangosteen sitting with the other fruit.
What is a mangosteen? The best fruit ever. Seriously. The price was ~$9/lb, which works out to ~$1.60 per fruit. Extravagant? Perhaps. Worth it? Definitely.
According to Wikipedia, importation of irradiated mangosteen has been allowed since since last year, but I only found this out after my discovery last week. A month ago, Michelle and I drove to Vancouver, with the primary purpose being to buy mangosteen.


Pretzels are made by first boiling the shaped dough in a brine of sodium hydroxide (lye), sodium carbonate (washing soda or soda ash), or sodium bicarbonate solution (or possibly by just dipping it in the brine), and then baking. The boiling process is what gives them the shiny coating. Bagels are prepared using a similar method.

I tried making pretzels with some leftover scone dough. They almost tasted like pretzels, but the consistency of the dough wasn't right. I'll try using a real pretzel recipe this weekend.