Welcome to my home page. I became blind at birth. I started programming computers at a young age. I also earned my general class amateur radio license, KA3TTT, a hobby to which I have returned with great joy. I practice Qigong and consider myself a Taoist. I use Linux as my desktop and Android as my mobile OS. I eat gluten-free vegan meals. For the rest you'll have to read my blog.

Remembering my friend Ben King

June 28, 2009

Every year at this time I remember my friend Ben King. We met via my bulletinboard, since I had written a popular game called Barneysplat!. I introduced him to Discordianism, and to Esperanto. We went to an Esperanto course in 1995 and 1996. In 1996, he bought surprise tickets to a Weird Al concert. While driving back from the concert, we got into a car accident, and he died.

I remember us making comics for La Bulteno, the newsletter of the course. Our favorite one showed an older woman walking down the street in San Fransisco, where the course resided. “Chu vi havas kanabon?” asks a yyoung guy. “Jes, du gefiloj.” she responds. “Mi amas San Fransiskon, la popoloj estas tre amikaj!” she remarks. Hilarious! I have so many memories, and share more every year. Check out the archive of this year’s memorial.

High Weirdness at the Toll House

June 19, 2009

After last night’s wonderful experience and article about Toll House Cookies, it seemed very odd that today I should see this article. Nestle just recalled 300,000 cases of Toll House cookie dough in various forms. Of course, people should not eat raw dough because of raw eggs, but they should also not use the dough at all, since raw bacteria can contaminate their hands and surfaces. It just seems very strange to me that after I should write such a specific article, this should appear. Poor Toll House!

How to Achieve Immortality with Chocolate Chip Cookies

June 19, 2009

While looking through the Emacs directory, I saw a file named etc/COOKIES. Curiously, I browsed it, and found a bunch of cookie recipes. No doubt everyone has heard the urban legend of the woman who writes to a company for their cookie recipe, and ends up spending $250.00 instead of $2.50, so distributes it. At the end, it had an easy recipe for Toll House Cookies.

Previously, I had purchased Nestles Toll House cookie mix, the kind you break apart and put on sheets. It tasted okay, but nothing beats home-made cookies. I always liked the name. It called to mind a friendly toll house with its happily ringing bell, and a quaint inn overlooking it. Actually, Kenneth and Ruth Wakefield purchased an old toll house in 1930, and remade it into an inn.

According to Nestle, the invention of the first Toll House cookie occurred accidently. That page has a link to an official recipe, which differs slightly from the one in Emacs, which follows:

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Glamorous, crunchy, rich with chocolate bits & nuts.

Also known as "Toll House" Cookies ... from Kenneth and Ruth Wakefield's
charming New England Toll House on the outskirts of Whitman, Massachusetts.
These cookies were first introduced to American homemakers in 1939 through
our series of radio talks on "Famous Foods From Famous Eating Places."

Mix Thoroughly :
        2/3 cup soft shortening ( part butter )
        1/2 cup granulated sugar
        1/2 cup brown sugar ( packed )
        1 egg
        1 tsp vanilla

Sift together and stir in :
        1-1/2 cups sifted flour (*)
        1/2 tsp soda
        1/2 tsp salt

Stir in :
        1/2 cup cut-up nuts
        6 oz package of semi-sweet chocolate pieces ( about 1-1/4 cups )

(*) for a softer, more rounded cookie, use 1-3/4 cups sifted flour.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls about 2" apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake until
delicately browned ... cookies should still be soft. Cool slightly before you
remove them from the baking sheet.

Temperature:            375 F. ( modern oven )
Time:                   bake 8 - 10 minutes
Amount:                 4 - 5 dozen 2" cookies


Personal comments :

I find it tastes better with a mixture of shortening and butter, as they say.

You don't need << all >> of that sugar, and it can be whatever color you want.

The nuts are optional. Feel free to play with the recipe. I put oatmeal in it,
reducing flour accordingly, and sometimes cinnamon.

I also find it useful to grease the cookie sheets.

I think I'm going to go bake some now ...

-- richard

I figured that any editor that comes with a file of cookie recipes has a strong spirit, and it inspired me to try the recipe above. It came out well enough, as I still learn the fine art of baking. It got me thinking about achieving immortality in the more classic sense of the word, living on through one’s works.

In exchange for printing the recipe, Ruth Wakefield received a lifetime supply of chocolate. She died in 1977. The Toll House Inn burned down on New Year’s Eve of 1984. Yet, the inn, Ruth Wakefield, and the original colonial toll house live on through a simple cookie.

The Editor Wars Continue WIthin

June 12, 2009

I know I have considered myself a born-again Vim user, and I love Vim, but I have recently begun investigating Emacs. It definitely has some interesting potential, including an audio desktop environment, which I have yet to even get into, my initial reason for doing this, so I could use my Artic Transport external speech synthesizer with Orca and Gnome. I’ll keep you up to date on this startling development, since many people either take one or the other. Apparently, Emacs and even read email and rss feeds, and perhaps browse web pages? I don’t know! I will have to keep reading, plus I took a LisP course in college, so can make use of that knowledge. Interestingly, nowadays both editors have begun becoming more like the other, and today’s modern systems make both load rapidly. I enjoy knowing both. I have always dreamed of a consistent environment for doing everything and one which uses Mayan dates. Emacs might have this ability.

Back in Slack!

May 02, 2009

I write this from a barely configured system. I sincerely hope I don’t need to reinstall it, but we shall see. I wanted to document what happened, in case some other poor hacker had the same problem.

I wanted to install Slackware 12.2 on this newly rebuilt dual-core system. I hoped all would go well, but every machine has its own challenges. I got to the configuration part well enough, but it stopped displaying anything after it told me that it had to run fc-cache to update my fonts. This happened in the FONTCONFIG dialog. I thought, “Great, something I don’t even care about, and it locked up.” I started poking around, and actually discovered that the fc-cache ran fine, and it had proceeded to the boot disk part of the installation. This took hunting around in the

/usr/lib/setup and /mnt/var/log/setup directories and in the processes, but I found it! Let me digress by saying that I love vim! Anyways, I discovered that for some reason, running `rescan-scsi-bus -l` locked it up. I still don’t know why. I ran

# chmod -x /mnt/var/log/setup/setup.80.make-bootdisk

and this fixed the problem. Actually, it didn’t fix the problem, it just skipped that part of the installation. I figure as long as I have the dvd I have a boot disk. Good enough. I just wanted to get this down. I hope it benefits someone. I’ll have more later. I need meditation and rest.

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