Salt Shaker

A Salt Shaker

After much experimentation I've done it. I made a salt shaker! It's my entry for the edible book festival that 826 Seattle is putting on. I'm doing Salt: A World History.

It was actually much harder to do this than I thought it would be. I thought I could just wet some salt a little bit, shove it in the mold (Rakka already published pictures of the mold making), and it would dry solid. Wrong. It stayed mushy.

So I tried some white glue. Yeah, not very edible, but kids eat paste. Anyway, it didn't work. The salt solidified it in to little balls, instantly. Weird. So I tried gelatin, at Rakka's suggestion, but it prevented the gelatin from setting. Ugh, that one was gross to clean up.

Time to drop a little bit of Science. Salt does weird things to water. I'm not a chemist, so I don't know all the details. But I'm pretty sure that's why the glue and the gelatin failed so horribly. What I needed was a binder with no actual water in it. My next attempt was with corn syrup.

hot hot sugar

Corn syrup is in everything these days anyway, why not salt sculptures? You can get it at any old grocery store; Karo is the brand we get around here. It's pretty viscous at room temperature, but I didn't want to cook the sugar. So I heated it in a double boiler setup.

talk about salty-sweet

This worked well. The salt didn't do anything weird with the sugar at all. It just got sticky. It got very grainy, almost fluffy.

getting fluffy. fluffy salt? weird.


But it compressed well. I just shoved it in the mold as hard as I could. Then tied up the mold so it didn't move around. A couple hours in the freezer and it was as hard as a rock, though a bit skewed. I squared it up a little bit with a small cheese grater.

it's still crystally

The best part is the salt crystals are still visible. It's exactly what I was looking for.

full text search in 13 minutes

It took 13 minutes to get ferret and acts_as_ferret installed and running. Now my project (bookton) has full text search, with relevance ranking, on every table that needs it.

13 minutes. And that's with distractions.

This is why I love ruby on rails.

Catching Up

The last 3 days have been, to coin a phrase, hella busy.

Rakka and I went to Oregon for a Goonies tour, as she mentioned. It took us through Astoria to Cannon Beach, OR. While we were at it we went to see the Tillamook Cheese Factory, an octopus tree, and a bunch of light houses. I drove 327 miles on Tuesday. Probably as much on Monday. I haven't even finished posting all the pictures yet; they'll keep showing up here over time.

Today we celebrated our return to civilization by having lunch at the Olympic Sculpture park. It's very good there, is lunch, as we found out.

And then I put in some work on Bookton. Making some good progress, there. Should have something to show by the end of the week. It's exciting.

In the midst of it all, I took the time to become addicted to not one, but two DS games. Lost in Blue and Trace Memory (by the Hotel Dusk people).

I'll probably revisit all of these things one at a time in the next few days. I'll need to make up for the fact that I'll be being boring (I'll be hunkered down over some RoR code).


It's official! I get next week off. I am so excited. I haven't had this much time off in forever. Or it feels like forever. Which is probably a good sign that it's time for a vacation.

I don't have it all planned out, but I know Rakka and I our going to Astoria and Cannon Beach, Oregon for at least a day or two. We've got the hotel, the car and the cat sitter.

Oh, having that much time is great. If we don't find all the Goonies places right away we can just extend the hotel and keep looking.

a whole week!

Oh noes!!! I'm a bad blogger!

just look how upset I am

So, lesse, what have I been doing? I developed an unhealthy obsession, went on a factory tour, went to the beach, finished something I started a long time ago, and did got ready to start something else.

The unhealthy obsession was for, you guessed it, a video game. I got hold of Tony Hawk's american sk8land for the DS. It's basically just like the one for the ps2, but smaller. It plays better though, easier than the 'big console' TH games. Somehow that prevented me from being able to put it down. I wanted to. It wasn't even that fun. I ended up playing it all the way through. That got it out of my system.

Your main dammie in THAS-ds

Rakka found out that Theo Chocolate in Freemont gives factory tours. So we went on friday. It was well, well, very much worth the five bucks. I wrote up a big long thing on the food blog.

puget sound
Golden Gardens is nice, even when it's cold.

And speaking of video games, I finally finished Hotel Dusk. Now that one I really liked. I'm still amazed a how much I know the characters. They're well rounded for any game characters, and these guys are on a hand-held! I shouldn't be surprised, because it's a character driven game. But it's so rarely done well.

Lastly, I got ready to start the next big project for Bookton (see the blog). I'm ready to start working on the magic 'pull data from the internet' tool. It's going to be fun.

I find ways to make email amusing

I was a busy little bee last week. This week I decided to be boring. I didn't start any new blogs or anything.

I did happen to notice this little tidbit at the bottom of rakka's contact page in my gmail.

It is showing item's one to twenty of of thousands. We talk a lot. Gmail includes chats in here, so it's maybe not that impressive. I've just never seen "thousands" show up.

And from the funny spam department, Enlarger I. Homestretch is the name I will use to label my luggage from now on.

It is the kind of name that gets stuck in my head, like a song. I will have to watch myself or I'll say it at really inappropriate times.
store clerk: What kind of bag? paper or plastic?
me: Enlarger I. Homestretch
That would not be good.

The Beconing Lady

I love early Campion novels. They're filled with gansters, international cartels, secret societies of rich art thieves, etc. Albert Campion seems to know about all of them. He knows all about their secret communications, hidden identities, and peculiar morals. He gets in to their business and fixes them, all while standing around looking vacant and silly. What's not to like.

The Beckoning Lady is a late Campion novel. It is not as good. There are hints about some big important business that old Albert has going on. But only hints. And only two of them.

What we have instead is some friends of the family that are having a party, and a body shows up near their property. Did they do it? They might have. That would kinda suck because they're nice people. Let us spend some time with them to see how great they are. One might be the murderer. Or maybe not. Who knows?

You get the idea.

All the characters speak in slang and innuendo. The slang is largely unique; I think Allingham might have just made it all up. Everyone speaks of everyone and everything with pet names and references. The result is very realistic dialog, especially in the sense that it's nearly incomprehensible to the uninitiated. Unless you grew up in Pontisbright with these fictional characters, you might have a bit of trouble.

I enjoyed it because I know the characters, but I missed the excitement of the earlier ones. This is more like a reunion. It's good to see everyone, but you're just reminiscing about the good times, not having them.

I have no great-wii

Fezzik, tear his arms off.

No no! I still don't have a wii!

This policy of store information desks to refuse information as to the possible arrival of nintendo products is driving me mad. I called around saturday night and got the old "I'm not allowed to know that, but other customers have called in and said we're getting them tomorrow, and that's a good sign." Other customers? The information desk gets it's intel from the people asking for info? It's a world gone topsy-turvy!

This is one of the few times in the last year that not having a car has really put the kibosh on the old PoA. It's just about impossible to take the bus to the likely stores early enough to get in the queue.

Oh well. It leaves me plenty of time to work on Bookton, which I did this weekend. There's some details about the weekend's non-wii activities here and here.

universal binary this, punk!

From Wikipedia:
A universal binary is, in Apple parlance, an application bundle that runs natively on either PowerPC- or x86 (Intel)-based Macintosh computers.
This is what happens when you try to install the Universal Binary for flash 9 on a powerPC mac. The Access denied error seems to say that I need to be an admin, which I am. But what it actually means is "By Universal we mean Intel. Go download the other one." Thanks for that.

imdb looks nice

They totally redesigned it. It looks so nice I don't know what to do with myself. Maybe I'll go back to where I was. Unemployed. In Greenland.

(anybody wanna peanut?)