Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lawrence to become first city in Kansas to get smart electricity meters

Never thought I'd see the day. Maybe I can get some of that Google PowerMeter action now.

Lawrence to become first city in Kansas to get smart electricity meters: "Thanks to a $19 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence will be the first city in Kansas hooked into the smart grid."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Back to Blogger

This switching between Google Sites and Blogger has got to stop. Anyhow, Blogger has totally redone their template engine as you can see. I am a fan of templates so here we are, back at Blogger.

Google Buzz

Of course me being all things Google you'd expect that I would be up and running in Google Buzz. So here is a link to my profile. You may follow at will, commander.

Oven Tips

More great information from Lifehacker

Did you know that baked goods do better on the 'lower middle' oven rack, while meats should be roasted on the 'upper middle'? Or that pies turn out best on bottom racks? Neither did we, until watching Christopher Kimball's video.

The Cook's Illustrated editor explains the three kinds of heat in your oven (paging Jack Donaghy), and how those kinds of heat dynamically affect what you're cooking or baking. Getting cookies with one edge slightly burnt and the other soft? Rotate them 180 degrees halfway through cooking. Broiler food coming out charred or undercooked? Bust out the measuring stick and measure out exactly four inches. Unsure when to use the convection fans on your fancy-dancy model? Watch the clip, as Christopher explains it all:

Book: Rules for My Unborn Son

I'll have to start remembering to use these...

The Lamond's rules are good advice for sons, as well as anyone else,
really. I wish my wife would remember the rule, 'Never under any
circumstances ask a woman if she is pregnant,' which she has broken
several times with embarrassing consequences.

More of Lamond's rules:

After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.

Stand up to bullies. You'll only have to do it once.

If you trip in public, don't blame the sidewalk. Pick yourself up and pretend nothing happened.

Your best chance of being a rockstar is learning the bass.

Thank the bus driver

Don't gloat. A good friend will do it for you.

Don't spit

A few of the rules on his blog I don't recommend (e.g., 'All drinking
challenges must be accepted') but most of his rules offer specific tips
for living a life of kindness, politeness, and preparedness.

Rules for My Unborn Son

Really Dumb Inventions

Some of these are really great. Personally I like the Baby Cage.

Hookay. So, you think that this M3 sub-machine gun—with a shoot-first-and-ask-later curved barrel—is a really stupid, really dumb invention, right? I don't blame you. But, trust me, you don't know what really stupid, really dumb inventions are. Yet.

I just saw a selection of 30 dumb inventions in Life, and I couldn't resist picking my favorite ten. These things are so damn stupid they became obsolete before even becoming real products. It was hard to choose. After all, how could I leave out scientology nutcase L. Ron Hubbard and his Hubbard Electrometer, which in 1968 made him reach the conclusion that tomatoes 'scream when sliced'? See? Really hard.

Then I thought that these all looked weirdly familiar. I searched in Gizmodo, and instantly found their modern counterparts. Some of them make sense now, with current technology. Others, as you will see in the gallery, seem equally goofy. All of them, however, we can live without. Enjoy:

Clearly, humans are the only animals that trip twice over the same stone.

Container Homes

When we had land in the country I always thought this would be a fun project. I wanted to bury one (they aren't that attractive on the outside) but, I suppose there is a certain appeal to this as well.

How much do we love shipping container houses? They're built inside recycled structures, encourage people to live with less and let's face it: they look cool.

Here's a new prototype from Buenos Aires, built for the interior design exhibition ...Read the full story on TreeHugger

Pumpkin Spice Latte

DIY Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Latte (Just Like Starbucks!): Many
fans of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte eagerly wait for it to show up
on menus again in the Fall. It made its annual re-appearance last week.
However, for those of us on a budget, those little cups of goodness can
add up. Making your own at home will not only save you money, but you
can also enjoy them year-round. In addition, you have more control over
the ingredients, so you can tweak the recipe to your liking.

Pasta Dishes to Make

When it comes to weeknight cooking, pasta rules in our household. A hot dish of pasta, cooked up quickly, with a sprinkling of fresh cheese and herbs or a quick sausage sauce — it has all the fullness of a truly homecooked meal, with the ease of takeout. Here are twenty-two (yes, twenty-two!) pasta dishes from our archives that are fast, fresh, and just right for now.

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Lotus Root

I wonder if Tom can round any of this up for me?


When most of us think 'lotus,' we may think of the beautiful aquatic flower or the yoga position. But did you know that the rhizome of the lotus plant is edible? On the outside it looks like a long cylindrical brown tuber, but slice one crosswise, and you'll be rewarded with beautiful, lace-like slices of a crunchy and delicious vegetable.

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Cooking with Magnets

Induction stoves may be making their way into restaurant kitchens, but for home cooks their still a mystery. Fortunately, Wired product editor (and food geek) Mark McClusky volunteered to enlighten us:

It took me nearly an entire evening in the the kitchen at Alinea before I realized what was weird about it. Sure, there's the stunning intensity of the chefs as they prepare Grant Achatz' intricate dishes, and the nearly-operating room level of cleanliness. But that's not what struck me one night at the end of service. What struck me is that I didn't know where the stove was.

You see, in most restaurant kitchens—like most home kitchens—the stove is the focal point of the room, the place that all the action revolves around. If you're running the sauté station in most big restaurants, you're the man, the line cook who's banging out the most food in the hottest, most extreme environment. You're the alpha cook.

Not so at Alinea. Of course there's a stove, but it's much smaller than you'd expect for a kitchen that puts out a couple of thousand plates a night, just four burners and a flat top. Instead, the chefs at Alinea do the vast majority of their cooking using induction burners, portable ones from CookTek.

Induction is just plain cool. Instead of using a flame like gas, or radiant heat like standard electric burners, induction burners use a magnetic field. The field creates heat through the property outlined in Joule's first law—you do remember your thermodynamics, right?—in which current passing through conductive material generates heat.

So what? Well, a couple of things. First, induction is super-efficient. Induction burners convert about 85% of the energy you pour into them into heat, compared to about 70% for electric burners and 40% for gas. That means you'll spend less to cook on induction.

And since the burner itself doesn't create heat, it stays cool to the touch—take the pan off, and you can put your palm on it. That also means that they don't throw off ambient heat like gas or electric, so the kitchen stays much cooler.

Then, there's the responsiveness of induction. Like gas, when you turn it off, there's no residual heat from the burner, just the pan. Plus, there's the flexibility of portable burners like Alinea uses. Frying something smelly? Got an outdoor power outlet? Set up a portable burner, and you can keep the stink out of your house. Want to keep soup warm at a party? Throw a burner on the buffet, and you're good to go.

The one thing to keep in mind is that your pans do have to be magnetic. That might be a pain in the ass, especially if you're hip deep in anodized aluminum pots. But the good news is that some of the cheapest (and most fun to use) cookware around—cast iron—works amazingly on induction burners, as will all your fancy pots as long as they've got some stainless steel kicking around in them. If in doubt, grab a magnet from your fridge door to check.

As far as specific models to check out, Circulon makes a nice burner, and Spanish appliance giant Fagor has one. For the best combo of power and price, check out the Max Burton 6000, which puts out 1800 watts for just $125 retail.