Macaroni and Cheese proportions

I’ve been making Macaroni and Cheese to roughly the same recipe of my mom’s since high school, and the result have been inconsistent. I tried making a creamier and less caserole-y version for Nadia compared to my usual-of-late proportions, and I thought I’d record it here.

I realized I had recorded one set of proportions here in the past and it looks like the proportions are almost exactly doubled:

  • 3 1/2 cups shredded cheese, plus extra for crust for baked portion (mixing some in and then crust) – inexact as was using the ends of multiple pregrated sharp cheddar; about a cup was jack
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, preheat to hot in the microwave
  • Roux: 4 tbsp each butter and flour; mix together over low heat until a paste forms
  • Add black pepper (one turn of pepper grinder) and MSG (1/2 tsp) to taste
  • Add milk slowly, no faster than will mix in thoroughly with a flat-bottom whisk; this seems to be the main trick, as adding too much milk at once will lead to the roux clumping together
  • When all of the milk is added, add 1tsp sodium citrate (optional, but makes for a smoother texture) and stir in evenly
  • Add cheese slowly stirring, until thoroughly melted
  • Cook pasta. This was 3 heaping cups of cellentani (ridged, corkscrew macaroni which ends up a bit less dense), a bit more than 3/4 of a box. I think for shells or smaller elbows 3 cups might be a bit much
  • Drain pasta, put in a 8×8 or 9×9 glass baking tray
  • mix in some extra cheese, cover top loosely with extra cheese
  • Bake at 375f (coincidental; we’d had a take-and-bake bread in while the pasta was cooking), checking after 20 minutes, until cheese on top just starts to brown.

Spelunking my own blog

One of the odd things about having kept this up for ~15 years is that there is plenty of old stuff I don’t remember it all, like:

For the record.

I do not now, and I have never owned an iPod or Zune.

I’ve owned three MP3 players:
I keep hoping that battery life on my PDA/phones will improve to the point where it will not be necessary to have a separate MP3 player. Sadly, I see little improvement there, and my present phone (a new HTC Touch Pro) is something of a step backwards for music player use as they went from a semi-proprietary small headset plug to an entirely proprietary USB+sound+etc plug.

(Lest the basic reference not make sense)
For the receord, I do not now, and have never owned any Apple iDevices, nor any Intel Macs, nor any Microsoft portable consumer electronics (although I’ve had and have had a few keyboards, mice, and 3 generations of XBox.)

For that worth, it basically be be about another ~2 years before I got a phone that could “just work” as an MP3 player with adequate battery life. The HTC Touch Pro got replaced with a “Sprint Epic” (a 1st-gen Galaxy S with a slider keyboard) which also brought back proper headphone jacks.

(I’ve yet to succumb to a headphone-jack-less phone in the return of such things, but it seems close to inevitable… 🙁 )

Oh, and the dead WSJ link there seems to refer to this:–is-obama-an-ipresident-or-not-.html

Exposure to Python

Python is a language that does not show up on my resume, because my last professional exposure to it (at Panta, in 2004-5) was very negative, and I’ve found if you have something on your resume — no matter how obscure/brief the mention is — someone is going to try to hire you for it. That said, I’ve been doing a modest bit of it lately for a project at my present employer and between support for it in IntelliJ and and ~13 years of improvement, I can tolerate it.

On a second round of use, I’ve found I really appreciate its expressive power, and I can … just barely… tolerate the dynamic typing.

On the down side, I have strongly confirmed my initial impression that it has some of the most unpleasant aesthetic syntax choices of any modern programming language — possibly the worst I’ve come across, barring esolangs, and surviving pre-C languages. It literally manages to make Perl seem like a pleasant alternative.

Java vs. C, a totally unscientific microbenchmark

Java vs. C — inspired by an interview question, I wrote a little bit of sample code to create an array of a billion random integers, and either (A) take the sums as I go, or (B) go back over and sum it on a second pass.

In C (cygwin, gcc 6.4.0 64-bit):
– summing as I go, about 3.7 seconds on my laptop, -O3 doesn’t make much difference
– two passes, about 6.5 seconds unoptimized, about 4.1 seconds with -O3
– time to malloc(sizeof(int) * 1000000000) < 1ms

In Java (jdk 10):
– summing as I go, about 12.1 seconds
– two passes, about 13.4 seconds
– time to new int[1_000_000_000] about 1.7 seconds

So Java sucks, right?

Replaced random integer with consecutive integers, all in two passes:
Java : 2.7s
Unoptimized C: 6.1s
C at -O3: 2.1s

Given how much of that time is the equivalent of malloc in Java zeroing the memory, that’s pretty impressively fast.

So the real issue seems to be that is WAYYYY slower than rand()?

Some presidential age trivia.

Last year, I posted this on my feed on Facebook; since that’s friends-only, I thought I’d repost it here on the anniversary of this rather regrettable milestone.

As most folks know, Trump is the oldest President at his inauguration, beating out Reagan by about 8 months (Reagan was not quite 70, Trump almost 71).

What others may not have realized is he’s also an exceptional President in other ways:
* He’s the first time a third President has been born in the same year (with Clinton and Bush Jr, all three born in 1946)
* He’s the oldest jump from his predecessor both at age at his inauguration, but also in age inauguration-to-inauguration.

More presidential age trivia
Continue reading “Some presidential age trivia.”

JVM performance over time

Out of curiosity, I decided to run some quick (and non-repeated, largely unscientific) benchmarks of a Gentoo (-march=native,etc etc) OpenJDK/IcedTea build vs. actual Sun/Oracle JVM builds. Interestingly, the Gentoo builds are slower. Unsurprisingly, the JVM gets noticeably faster across versions from 1.6->1.7->1.8

Continue reading “JVM performance over time”

Another brief bit of fiction

OK, so I ran into my old web page from 1995. BOY was I callow as a 19 year old, although I suppose it’s a tautology to say so. Still, I ran into a few cool things I wrote when even younger than that… which I’ll be sharing here. First up, written in 9th grade, for a class project, I give you:

Little Red Riding Hood, as told by Holden Caufield
(actual text below the break; warning for those bothered by it, some mild profanity.)
Continue reading “Another brief bit of fiction”

A new animal to be afraid of? When sea lions attack…

Interesting article in The Guardian:

Experience: I was nearly drowned by a sea lion

What Trish hadn’t seen was that at the moment she said “Smile!” a sea lion had leapt about 7ft out of the water to get the fish, and grabbed my left hand in the process. Sea lions have canine teeth, just like a dog. It dragged me headfirst into the water. I’d actually seen it out of the corner of my eye a split second before I felt the pain. It was big and had such strength. It pulled me straight down to the bottom of the bay, about 25-30ft.
< ...>
Sea lions are so agile. I don’t buy the idea that it accidentally got my hand; I think it was angry and territorial. The supply of fish here is dwindling and their numbers are increasing – there’s not enough food for them all.

Quite a bit more there. Go read it, amazing survival and interesting incident for an animal many of us think of as “cute.”

Pity Colbert isn’t back on the air yet. I’d love to see his take on it.

Inside baseball, Linux edition

I love the title of this article: “
¿Por qué SystemD es una mierda?

Too tired tonight to read the whole thing in Spanish — I’ll feel dumb if the implications of the title aren’t their point — but wanted to share somewhere. Disabling the FB/Twitter publicize for this one for obvious reasons if you can follow the literal translation.

Saw this, and thought of Robot Chicken

“Real” Life:
Mitt Romney expects to be ‘beaten but unbowed’ after Evander Holyfield bout

Mitt Romney and Evander Holyfield weighed in for their charity boxing match on Thursday night, with the former Massachusetts governor predicting a similar outcome to that of the 2012 presidential election, which he lost to Barack Obama.

Robot Chicken: The World’s Most One-Sided Fistfights

[Flashback] Star Wars, the Matrix, and a FB rant good enough to save

This guy is dead wrong… ran into this article a year ago, and posted the following comments on FB:
How ‘Star Wars’ ruined sci-fi

The six “Star Wars” films have been enormous successes: they have grossed over $2 billion domestically at the box office, spawned scores of books, comic books and merchandise (how many kids have their own light saber?) and made household names of characters like Darth Vader, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.

They’ve also been the worst thing ever for the science fiction genre.
Instead, I’ll queue up “The Matrix,” and enjoy the most original sci-fi movie of the past 25 years. I recommend “Star Wars” fans do the same. They need to be reminded what real creativity is all about.

Star Wars is, like a great many other SF films before it, a pretty generic adventure story with an SF setting.

Not too different from Forbidden Planet (though cribbed from Kurosawa rather than Shakespeare) just as the Day the Earth Stood Still was a mild thriller with SF elements (and arguably cribbed from Christianity) as well as myriad less well remembered options. Star Wars’ only fault is its enduring success.

Meanwhile, he loses all credibility when he calls The Matrix the most original SF film of the past 25 years… it’s a VISUALLY stunning film, one of the high points of the late 1990s but it makes little sense and has a setting/premise that is a pastiche of William Gibson and the Terminator series. Meanwhile, he ignores a whole lot of really well done recent SF films; given his otherwise apparent highbrow bias, I’d think this guy would have LOVED Gattaca, and more recently while flawed Looper, Source Code, and In Time all had more depth and originality to their plots than the Matrix (let alone the tepid and nonsensical sequels) although none can match the visual spectacle of The Matrix ( or Star Wars. )

Found this via the FB memories feature, which is pretty cool.

A fascinating article on evolution.

On the PLOS blog (found via Medium) there was a really interesting post discussing the intersection of environmental conditions and genetics, and their impact on human evolution. The title may be either off-putting or funny to some, but it’s worth a read both on general interest or to those who have a particular interest in either human evolution or environmental science. Other than using the clinical term for the male genitalia, totally safe for work:

Plastics, tiny penises, and human evolution

An Italian study in 2012 found that men’s penises were growing smaller over time — two centimetres lost from grandfather to grandson in the twentieth century. Conservative radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh knew who to blame: ‘feminazis, the chickification, and everything else’ linked to feminism. Other commentators, a bit more scientific, pointed the finger at endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as pesticides and hormones fed to cattle, as likely culprits.
To anticipate how xenoestrogens or any other synthetic chemical that influences fertility might affect human evolution, it helps to consider niche construction theory.

It goes on from there. Go read it.