Archive for January 2009

All-Purpose Meat Sauce

Published on January 31, 2009

This meat sauce recipe makes for an excellent spaghetti sauce, sloppy joe filling, or “meat pie” filling.

  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 small bell pepper (optional)
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 or 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper
  • Ketchup
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Mince both the onion and bell pepper. In a skillet, combine the olive oil, minced onion, bell pepper, and meat, and brown over medium-high heat. Once the meat is fully browned, reduce the heat to simmer. Add the can of tomato soup and, using the same can, 1/2 a can of water (don’t add the water if you want a thicker sauce). Add the Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and a good squeeze (or dollop) of ketchup. Mix the ingredients together well. Now add the spices: basil, oregano, dried parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, about 1/2 tsp salt, and ground pepper. Shake Parmesan cheese over the top of the sauce, and mix everything together well. Taste the sauce; more salt and pepper may be desired.

RIP Train Sim 2

Published on January 28, 2009

As a part of its recent layoffs, Microsoft closed Aces Studio, the team behind Microsoft’s stalwart Flight Simulator line of games, and the upcoming Train Simulator 2. According to the report, Train Simulator 2 is officially dead, and will not be revived. The Flight Simulator counterpart may be brought back at some point, but even its fate is undetermined at the moment.

I know I’m one of the only people on the planet who cares about it, but I was looking forward to Train Sim 2. The graphics looked great, and I was really looking forward to the migration to the Flight-Sim game engine. But, alas, it’s not to be.

Onward and upward, I suppose.

The Ultimate Apple Ad

Published on January 22, 2009

Twenty five years ago today, the oh-so-epic 1984 ad from Apple debuted during the super bowl. This ad is as powerful today as it was back then. If there’s one thing Apple can certainly do well, it’s marketing. They have perfected the art of making their products cooler than the rest, something lots of other companies would love to learn how to do. If Microsoft had learned how to market as well as Apple, perhaps there would be no Apple at all. But alas, that was not to be (and we’re all the better for it).

Here’s to one of the best advertisements in the history of advertising!

Avatar Finale

Published on January 20, 2009

I just completed the final season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and all I can say is wow. This show is, without any doubt in my mind, one of the top 5 television shows I’ve ever seen. It ranks up there with The Simpsons and Pushing Daisies, in my opinion, and that’s saying something (seeing as how big a Simpsons nut I am).

The series finale takes place across four episodes, each more epic than the one before it (and the episodes leading up to this finale are just as good). There are some excellent surprises throughout each episode, with the vast majority of the lingering mysteries finally being resolved. A surprising twist occurs in the finale’s climax, and it’s safe to say I was thoroughly surprised. The ending was fulfilling beyond anything I imagined.

If you haven’t checked out this series, I cannot recommend it highly enough. I will definitely be purchasing the entire series on DVD (Season 1, Season 2, and Season 3).

There are only two things that could have made the series better. First, I was disappointed that we didn’t learn more about the air bender society. If Aang is the only one left, what becomes of their heritage? Has this nation therefore truly become extinct? Second, there were still a few strings left dangling at the series end. I won’t list them here so as to avoid spoilers, but I’d love to know what becomes of these threads. Another episode (or two … or three) would have been really appreciated to see where everyone ends up. Perhaps the creators of the show will come back in the future to wrap up these threads.

All in all, I had an enjoyable time with this series. Even though I’m a little sad to say goodbye to it, I’m oh-so-glad I took the journey. I now have other shows to catch up on, both old and new, and that’s what I’m off to do next. So long, Aang and company. It’s been a wonderful ride.

Inaugural Day Snow

Published on January 20, 2009

Our area got a nice snowfall last night, so I went out and snapped a few photos. This small album is the result. I recorded a total of 4.5 inches of snow, much more than I had anticipated.

Circuit City Closing

Published on January 16, 2009

It seems that Circuit City is closing for good. Deep down, does anyone care? Part of me does, and part of me doesn’t. I’ve been to Circuit City probably twice in my life; both times were to pick up games that Best Buy didn’t have at the time. Since that time, I’ve come to hate stores like that (hence the part of me that doesn’t care). At the same time, with Circuit City exiting the market, the market for certain things becomes that much smaller. That bothers me, especially since the competition is so lame. What do you think? Will you miss Circuit City?

Windows 7 is Shaping Up

Published on January 15, 2009

I never thought I’d get around to saying this (especially so early in its lifetime), but Windows 7 is really starting to appeal to me. Over the past few days, both Gizmodo and Lifehacker have been showcasing some of the cool new features. Several have caught my eye:

The New Taskbar
The new taskbar inside of Windows 7 looks great. Gone is the separation between the quick-launch menu and the standard list of task buttons. Instead, the two have been merged into one entity; very clever! However, I wonder what it’s like with a large number of icons. I’m a huge quick-launch user and couldn’t live without it. For instance, here on my laptop, I’ve got 28 icons at my disposal, with another 7 squirreled away in a sub-menu. The screenshots at the Gizmodo story only show the large icons in use. At those sizes, my taskbar would clearly take up a lot of screen real estate. Hopefully, the icon sizes are either settable via a preference or scale down on the fly.
20 New Themes
Windows 7 ships with a total of 20 themes, all of which look fantastic. This will be a welcome change from the 3 ugly themes in XP.
Problem Steps Recorder
Being able to create a web-based slideshow of a problem recreation scenario is awesome. My only fear is that, if it’s like any other web-based stuff Microsoft has done, the resulting HTML is bloated, ugly, inaccessible, and devoid of validation.
Improved File in Use Messages
Knowing exactly why a file is in use is totally rad. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

Improved performance looks like it will be making its way to Windows 7, another great reason to look forward to the new OS. The sound virtualization introduced in Vista is a great feature, and one I wish existed in XP.

With all of these great new features, there are still a few things I’m apprehensive about. The graphical intensity of it all still seems ridiculous, especially the ‘Aero Peek’ feature, which feels like a cheap gimmick. I’m not a fan of the ribbon interfaces, simply because it’s an entirely new paradigm (I can work with menus just fine, thanks). And what of the new user security model introduced in Vista? Are the problems solved?

If Microsoft continues to head in their current direction, I’ll seriously consider upgrading once the OS is released. That’s a far cry from my opinions in the early Vista days.

Contact Form Fixed

Published on January 14, 2009

The contact form here at this website has been fixed. I did some debugging after my recent breadcrumbs issue, and managed to forget to restore things back to their original state. Many thanks to Archaeopteryx for finding and reporting the issue.

I’m really on a roll for bugs this month, huh? 😳

Buttermilk Pancakes

Published on January 10, 2009

Dry Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

In a bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. In a suitable measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk. Add the egg and vegetable oil to the measuring cup, and mix together well (beating the egg in the process). Pour the wet ingredient mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring until blended, but slightly lumpy. Add additional buttermilk to thin the batter as needed (not too thick, and not too thin). Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto a lightly oiled (e.g. PAM cooking spray), 325 degree griddle. Cook until the pancakes are golden brown on the bottom, turning them over when the surface shows bubbles and the sides are slightly dry. Makes around 10 large pancakes.

Where to Buy a Wii?

Published on January 4, 2009

It’s incredible to me that over 2 years after the debut of the Nintendo Wii, you still can’t buy one. Several of the “in stock finders” online indicate that everyone is out of stock. I’d like to get one, but I can’t find them anywhere. Does anyone know of a place that might actually have one in stock at some point?

Wanted: PDA for Shopping

Published on January 1, 2009

I was in the grocery store last night cursing the paper shopping list I had written out. The list had grown messy from scratching out stuff I had already picked up, and items weren’t organized in any fashion, resulting in my backtracking across the store three or four times. So I got thinking about how this is a perfect solution for a PDA. I want a PDA that:

  • Can handle customized shopping lists, saving entered items for future use (perfect for groceries)
  • Can organize said list into categories
  • Has a user-friendly interface
  • Is not an iPhone

Does anyone have any suggestions on what might fit the bill? I’m not terribly interested in using it to do any networking; I mainly want something that can handle data input and the like. Ideally, the device would be affordable, but I’m willing to explore most avenues. Any and all suggestions would be appreciated.

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