Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rick Stein: Survivorman

The wife just finished watching an episode of Survivorman, a reality TV show in which Les Stroud gets dropped somewhere with virtually no equipment and supplies, plus a bunch of cameras, and has to survive for seven days while simultaneously being his own camera crew.

Then she switched to an episode of Rick Stein's Food Heroes, a foodie show from the BBC in which Rick Stein wanders around England to find people making good authentic English food, and occasionally does recipes from the stuff he finds. Rick is a bit pompous at times as he rails about the virtues of good old-fashioned food, but he certainly believes in what he's doing.

The idea of a trading places scenario came immediately to mind. I imagined Rick Stein left trapped in a modern American shopping mall for a week, and forced to find ways to survive. He certainly wouldn't deign to look at anything he could get at the food courts, so I imagined him scavenging for ways to swipe what few fresh ingredients those mini-restaurants get, supplementing them with forage from the potted plants. I pictured him buying a camp cookstove at a sporting goods store and trying to cook up a traditional steak and kidney pie, all the while moaning contemptuously about how hard it is to get proper ingredients in this desolate wasteland. All the while, busy shoppers bustling around him, casting odd glances at him now and then.

Meanwhile, what do you suppose Les Stroud cooks at home after a trip to the farmer's market? Probably very little by way of raw slugs and dried moss, but one can't help imagine him buying the worst produce at the farmer's market, cutting away the good parts, and then explaining patiently to the camera how you can make a surprisingly nutritious casserole out of the moldy bits from the potatoes, as he stands next to his unused Dacor stovetop and Subzero freezer, cutting up vegetables with a multitool and cooking them in an old coffee can held over a crude parabolic reflector fashioned from a discarded piece of a shipwrecked boat.

I would so love to watch those two shows.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Notice of public record

Notice is hereby given.

The world is permitted 1,000 more "there are a lot of Starbucks" jokes, and then that's it. Please make an effort to make the best of them.

Thank you. That is all.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Over and out

If walkie-talkies were invented today, and someone proposed they be called "walkie-talkies", they'd be laughed out of town. It's like a baby's name for something! How does that leverage any synergy?

Instead, we'd end up with some terrible acronym like PZIMCD (Personal Zero-Infrastructure Mobile Communications Device), or some almost-meaningless, "how does it make you feel" marketing "funky" name like Yuni (it's a commYUNIcation device, get it?). Ick.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Trial of Telemachus

One bad thing about having a floor-cleaning robot for garages (and other rugged floors) is that when you run this robot in the garage, you need to be very sure to remember to pick it up afterwards, because there's cars going in and out; and yet, it's very easy to forget, because you're not in the room with it while it's running, and can't hear the beep when it's done.

Sure enough, I left Telemachus running one evening, forgot about him, and went to bed. The next day we got ready to go shopping and started to back out of the garage and... crunch. Poor Telemachus looked broken, with his whole front bumper/handle assembly canted at about a thirty degree angle, and I doubted he could be saved.

Last night I did some fiddling about with screwdrivers and tools and managed to get the bumper back into its usual position. Charged his battery up overnight and let him go this morning, and he's been cleaning the garage ever since. He moves like he's had a very slight stroke, and gone through enough physical therapy to get most of his mobility back. He gets around fine and does the job, but he twitches a little oddly now and then, tends to move too quickly, and drives in an uneven arc on the straight stretches. You can't help feel sorry for him, and impressed at his pluckiness. (Silly anthropomorphizing.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Mi corazon

Today's challenge: find a bit of Spanish-language popular music that doesn't include the word "corazon" in the lyrics.

By Spanish-language I mean a song originally written in Spanish. By "popular music" I mean any category of popular music, not just pop. Rock, dance, rap, country... I'm just looking to exclude things like opera, medieval chants, etc.

This is probably not impossible. It's probably not even that hard for fans of Latin music. But it's harder than you'd think. You'll go through dozens of songs at least before you find one.

I'm sure English-language songs use "heart" a lot (and a few other words like "love") but I don't think there's a single word (discounting things like "the") that appears in the majority of songs, let alone the vast majority. I wonder why it's so different in Spanish-language songs.