Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How to Hack a Cupcake

One of my many quirks is the way I like to eat a slice of apple pie. I eat the filling first -- I use the fork to dig out the filling while leaving the crust shell intact. Once all the filling is gone, I then go back and eat the crust. The residual liquid from the filling is enough flavor for the pie shell. Dianne always gives me a look when I eat apple pie that way. Is that odd?

So I laughed when I read Matt's post at the A Whole Lotta Nothing blog that talks about tackling and solving his cupcake eating problem by pointing to a set of Flickr photos that "hack" a cupcake in order to get good cake and frosting distribution in each bite. I don't have that problem, but I can relate. The hack is a little messy and it kinda spoils the presentation, but it solves the equal distribution issue.

It's comforting to know I'm not the only one with eating quirks.

Monday, January 28, 2008


One of my everyday humor blog reads is the Indexed site. Each post is a graph or Venn diagram that is a humorous illustration of a common observation. I get a lot of chuckles from the site. I thought last Wednesday's post was particularly funny. I guess I'm in the target audience for that one. Incidentally, she has a "best of" book coming out in February.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


FossilsThis week the theme for the Macro Mondays group in Flickr was "primitive." I thought this was a tough topic. I wasn't sure what to do and thought I'd pass. However, Dianne the creative idea person suggested a rock. That jogged my memory about some rocks we picked up many months ago at Caesar's Creek State Park. I know nothing about geology or paleontology. When we visited the Natural History museum in Washington, DC, we saw a fossil exhibit where many of the specimens came from Ohio. Here is another page about fossils from southwest Ohio.

These macros show some of the fossil pieces embedded in shale. The largest bits are about the size of a dime. The bit in the last image is a little smaller.


Fossil on the Edge

Essencha Tea House

Today Dianne and I went to the Essencha Tea House in the Oakley part of the greater Cincinnati area. I had read a lot of good reviews of the place in the paper and on-line in the Foodie Report. A friend gave me an Essencha gift card as a Christmas gift. We decided to stop in and check out the place.

It's a very nice store with a relatively small, modern style seating area. It has a more modern look than Churchill's downtown. A good place to relax, try some tea, and chat. As you can see on their website, Essencha has many loose leaf teas and tea paraphernalia as well as lunch and fancy dessert items. Dianne tried the bubble tea and I had a cup of Assam while there. I also bought some Lapsang Souchong (or stinky tea as Dianne calls it) and Darjeeling loose leaf tea. The loose leaf tea comes in very solid, well sealed metal containers.

I was impressed with the store. It's a convenient location for us. If you've been there, I'm curious what you thought or how it compares to your favorite tea spot. We'll be stopping there again when we're in the area.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Typing Test

Saw this little typing test on My Crazy Life...in Pictures. Angie has a great blog -- probably because she is a faster typist :^)

62 words

Touch Typing online

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Cold Bell Curve

When I left work yesterday, the sun was setting and it was pretty chilly for Cincinnati. It had cooled off during the day and it was clear. Without the sun the temperature was dropping fast. I was all bundled up with my winter jacket, hat, and gloves so it wasn’t too bad.

As I put my stuff in the car, I turned around and saw a co-worker about 30 yards behind me wearing a thin leather jacket, no gloves, and no hat. The guy had a shaved head too. I couldn’t believe my eyes. His ears had to be cold – I’m surprised they didn’t turn to ice and crack off his head. As I pulled out of the parking lot I noticed the outside air temp was 18. With the breeze, that’s officially cold. How could that guy stand it? Am I just a cold baby?

It was a cook-it-yourself night, so I stopped to get some dinner on the way to my guitar lesson. I was looking down, reading the news on my phone while waiting in line. I glanced away from the phone as the line moved and noticed the girl in front of me was wearing flip-flop slippers. Was she nuts!?! She had on a thin sweater and a light down vest, and no hat or gloves. Slippers when it’s 18 degrees! How does she deal with the heat and humidity here in August?

Is this a classic example of the tail ends of a normal distribution describing cold tolerance? Clearly I’m in the tail of low tolerance while Mr. Shaved Head No Hat and Ms. Flip Flop Shoes are in the opposite end of the distribution. Where do you fall in the distribution? How do you dress for the cold?

Monday, January 21, 2008

What a Difference a Word Makes

I saw this article the other day in the Wall Street Journal. It's about a mix-up between two drugs with similar names: edetate disodium and edetate calcium disodium. Whether or not the word "calcium" is on the label is pretty important to a patient.

It reminded me of a lab my students did last quarter where they were running multiple reactions with different chemicals and making observations to characterize the reactivity of various compounds. There were a lot of reagents set out for the lab. One person mixed up the label on two acids, added the wrong acid to a reaction, and ended up producing hydrogen sulfide gas that really stunk -- even though he was using an individual fume hood. I caught it quickly, even with my poor nose. Not much harm, so it was a good lesson about being confident with chemical names and looking carefully at the label before using something.

If I'm ever sick and in a hospital, I may panic if I see a former student working as a nurse or a pharmacist. I'll be going through my mental rolodex trying to remember what grade they received and how good they were at chemical nomenclature.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sugar Photos

CrystalsThis week the theme for the Macro Mondays group in Flickr is sugar. My first thought was to recrystallize some sugar -- make rock candy. I'm still working on that. It's harder to recrystallize sugar than I thought. That should have been easy for a chemist!

So I went a different route. Dianne and I made a trip to Fresh Market to get some items to illustrate the sugar theme. The photo at the right is a macro of the colored sugar crystal sprinkles on the frosting of a cupcake. Thanks to Dianne's suggestion, I made a triptych of the cupcake that had the sprinkles. That is the photo below. I also got a nice shot of some gummi worms, a sugar cookie, and other stuff that you can see in the set here.

Cupcake Triptych

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Rollergirl on the News

Sk8 Crime Helping Candy KICKassDianne and I saw a story on the channel 12 (WKRC) news tonight about a choir that performed at the Drop Inn Center today. The center is a homeless shelter in the Over-the-Rhine area. The cameraperson showed a close-up of some of the choir and there was Sk8 Crime. Well...not in her roller derby persona (at least I didn't see a squirt gun) -- simply as Emily. She did the national anthem for a couple of the Cincinnati Rollergirl bouts. She has a very good voice and is obviously still putting it to good use. Yet another way to give something back to the community.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

CRG 2008 Season

I'm getting caught up on my blog reading after vacation. I noticed that Miss Print had a blog post last week talking about the 2008 season for the Cincinnati Rollergirls. There is also a blurb on the Cincinnati Rollergirl site and I'm sure there will be ticket information as the events get closer. Save these dates:
April 12
May 17
June 7
June 28
July 19

The other bit of news in Miss Print's post is that the bouts will all be inter-league competitions. That'll be great. There was a lot of discussion on her blog last season about the CRG only bouts not being exciting. Personally, I didn't buy it, but the move to only inter-league bouts should satisfy all the fans. It's possible now that there are several teams established in cities that are relatively close. It should be an exciting season. The CRG group is also looking for volunteers. Check out their site for contact information.

If you haven't been to a match, you have to check them out this season. Get your taxes done early and celebrate by going to the April 12th match. The CRG group is also looking for volunteers. Check out their site for contact information.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Taylor's Soccer Game

Today Milton took us to our niece's soccer game. She's a co-captain of one of the Punahou junior high/middle school teams and this was a playoff game for them. Here are a few photos from the game. The first two are of Taylor. The third is a non-Taylor shot that I thought was interesting. The last one is of Milton and Dianne talking at half time. I was experimenting with a new camera -- still a lot of settings to learn. I put these photos and a few more in a Flickr set. Click here to see all the photos.

Taylor 1

Taylor 2

Focused on the Ball

Di and Milton

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Oahu's North Shore

Also on New Year's day we drove up to the North Shore to see the waves. It was a pretty nice day on the south shore, but fairly cloudy with a little passing drizzly on the north shore. Even so, I still think it's fun to check out. The waves were only about 6 feet high, but they break pretty close to shore. It's a beautiful site and a great place to watch the surfers. One surfer was doing repeated jumps and flips off the waves. When I went closer to get some photos, I saw a photographer near the water taking pictures of only that surfer. The photographer had a HUGE telephoto lens, so I'm sure he got some good shots of those stunts. The set of three photos below shows one of his jumps. I put a few other photos below. You can see the salt spray coming off the crashing waves in the second photo. The third photo shows the sun coming through a break in the clouds. The last one is a surfer picking a spot to enter the surf and get to the action.

Click here to go to Flickr to see other photos from New Year's Day. When there, click on any thumbnail to see a larger version of the photo.

Flipping Over The Wave



Looking to Enter

New Year's Day Activities

Blessing LineWe started out the New Year by visiting a Shinto temple (Daijingyu Temple) just north of the Honolulu area to participate in a traditional New Year's blessing. The temple provides blessings for the new year starting at the stroke of midnight and going until the afternoon of the first. We went in the morning to avoid the huge crowd at midnight, and it was still busy. Parking was non-existent, but fortunately Dianne knew the area well since she lived pretty close when in grade school. We parked away from the traffic and walked a couple blocks to the temple. The first photo here shows part of the line leading to the entrance of the temple.

Fortunes Left BehindIt's a long standing Japanese tradition in Hawaii. You can read more about the temple and the tradition here. There are also some better pictures of the temple in the article -- I didn't want to take pictures of the blessing. Incidentally, I got an excellent fortune and we bought a few blessed items for traffic and personal safety in the coming year. If you didn't like your fortune you could tie it to a tree outside the temple and get another. In the photo here you can see the bits of paper tied to the tree (as usual, click on it to see a larger version in Flickr). The fortunes are quite long and elaborate.

There is a park next to the temple that had several large trees including a large banyon tree. You see them all over Oahu, but they are usually surrounded by buildings or wires. This one has such a nice setting I had to get a shot -- even though it was towards the sun. It's hard to appreciate how big it is, so Dianne volunteered to stand next to it for scale. That little blue spec by the trunk is her.

Bambucha Banyon

Di Ready To SailAfter getting our blessing, we stopped at the Aloha Tower Marketplace near downtown Honolulu for lunch. Right next to the marketplace is the Maritime Museum. The museum was closed, but we stopped to look at the ships docked on the pier outside the museum. The photo shows Dianne standing on a huge brass propeller in the park next to the pier. In the background is one of the older sailing ships.

The water at the pier was crystal clear and very deep. Dianne looked into the water and saw all sorts of fish. Some of them were pretty big -- at least a couple feet long. There are fish food dispensers on the pier, so we bought some food to feed them. It was quite a frenzy. Click here to see a photo of the fish.

We looked around a bit at the marketplace. Around the facility they have several statues of hula girls. I really like this photo of Dianne joining in the hula dance with one of the statues. So cute!

Joining the Hula Dancer

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou

Happy New Year!

This marks the end of the third year for Earl World. Thanks to all those who drop by -- especially the regulars and those leaving comments.

Hibiscus 2