29 November 2008

Mumbai Attacks

In a change of pace from my typical bloggish ramblings, I'd just like to say that the attacks in Mumbai frighten me in a way that the 9/11 attacks never did. Part of that is because my wife was good friends with one of the people killed in the attack on the Cafe Leopold. Another part is just the different nature of the attacks. On 9/11, I watched (on TV) the second plane hit the towers, and even watched the towers fall. However, as indiscriminate and horrifying as those attacks were, the attacks in Mumbai were more akin to a full invasion by a small strike force. The invading army seized specific points of interest and held them as long as possible, in this case, for three days. This is a markedly different kind of attack from previous terror attacks (particularly in India) which were mostly bombings, including 9/11. I find it amazing that less than a hundred trained soldiers can take and hold what amounts to, essentially, an entire city for three days, even when fighting against the collective army and navy of one of the world's newest major players.

I suggest that my (precious few) readers please find a good charity to donate to. However, keep in mind that most of those affected by the attacks in Mumbai were the elite of India -- the business and political leaders -- as well as tourists. Not to belittle their tragedy, but the poor of India could use support as well. There are hundreds of charities operating in India, such as AID India, which could use your support as well.

Edit (30 Nov): Urmi asked me to point out that the person killed was engaged to her wingmate at school, who was one of the people interviewed in the Times of India article. Also, it appears that the entire attack was carried out by only ten people, which makes it all the more scary. I had originally thought it was closer to fifty.

Thanksgiving done right (and mostly vegetarian)

Urmi and I always go overboard for Thanksgiving, which is bizarre given that I can't even eat Turkey, and Urmi isn't a big fan. This year, we decided to cook no less than eleven dishes, ranging from a Tofurkey roast to both pumpkin and pecan pies. To immortalize our efforts, I decided to write about our oversized meal on the blog.
The Tofurkey - Contrary to popular belief, a Tofurkey is not a Turkey made from tofu. Rather, it's a blend of tofu and wheat gluten -- both vegetarian sources of protein -- to produce something with vaguely the same texture as a turkey. Look for more of this in the future. I thought this was a win, but Urmi hated it.
Our Pies - The pumpkin pie was obviously edible, but the pecan pie was the undisputed winner of the contest. I discovered that using dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup is the secret to making an awesome pecan pie.
The Feast - Urmi with the full feast: Beans, Asparagus, apple cider, tofurkey, salmon, garlic mashed potatoes, vegetarian gravy, and, my personal favorite, mashed sweet potatoes.
Anyways, probably going to post recipes for some of our dishes shortly. Most of these originated elsewhere, but we've modified them extensively enough that I think they're our recipes now. Until then, enjoy the photos and try not to drool on your keyboard.

18 November 2008

Wedding website updated

... to include pictures from Austria. The website is here.

11 November 2008

Yard sign marketing

... aka Charles Stross reads better web sites than I do. He recently posted a link to an absolutely fascinating expose on a guerrilla marketing company that specializes in online dating websites. Using nothing more than a combination of yard signs as advertising and highly targeted domain names, this company has eight figures of income and over 500 employees at 80-some offices. More fascinating than the company is the process which the author (Robert J. Moore) went through to uncover the background behind this behemoth of online dating. The expose is available here.

10 November 2008

First Pets, the presidential kind...

I know that I promised fewer political posts, but I'm afraid that I stumbled upon something that is just too bizarre not to share... President Bush has a portion of his website dedicated to his family's pets -- two scottish terriers and a black cat. One of the dogs, Barney, recently became famous for biting a reporter... Something which would've sentenced a normal dog to death, but, when it's the president's pet, is apparently completely kosher. The Bush family's other dog, however, is the bizarre one. She goes by the name Miss Beazley, a.k.a. Beazley Weazley. The name would be cute if it were owned by, say, an eight year old, but it's instead owned by the most powerful family in the US. A family powerful enough and with enough money/time to burn that they can put together a webpage detailing their dog's favorite hobbies, which apparently include tap dancing, watching Duck Tales, and learning to read by the third grade. I've included the whole transcript below:

Miss Beazley Bush
  • Nickname: Beazley Weazley
  • Breed: Scottish Terrier
  • Birthday: October 28, 2004
  • Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
  • Owners: President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush
  • Parents:
    • Mother: Bethz of Black Watch Elizabeth
    • Father: Clinton of Champion Motherwell Alberta Clipper
  • Favorites:
    • Treat: Cheeseburger
    • Playmate: Willie the cat
    • Pastime: Tap dancing
    • Part of the White House: The Oval Office
    • Cartoon: DuckTales
    • Books: Junie B. Jonesseries by Barbara Park and Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald
  • Goals: Miss Beazley wants to learn to read by the third grade.

Original page is here. I'm all for treating pets like they're part of the family, but, come on, they are not children.

08 November 2008

Interest application improvements

So I've decided to clean up my interest application a bit more... A few improvements that I added are as follows:
  • Algorithmic Improvements
    Everything is still binary search, but the program is now capable of searching a much wider array of possibilities.
  • Radio Buttons

    The radio buttons on the right side of the screen allow the user to control which item is being searched for. For example, if the user has 'Number' selected, then hits compute, then the Number is searched for even if it is not blank. This allows you to search different cases much more quickly. GnuCash (the inspiration for the original program) did not have this feature, but I think it works much better.
  • About Screen

    Pretty simple, but important nonetheless.
I'm quite pleased with how the overall is looking. Of course, there's no real reason to improve it any more. I think I'll play with it a bit more and then probably release it, possibly under a Creative Commons license. It'll take some time to figure the whole licensing thing out -- I'm using a Qt opensource edition to write this, so I have additional legal restrictions placed on me -- but, once I figure it out, I'll post here again.

Back to Normal...

I would like to announce a return to our regularly scheduled programming, i.e. nothing in particular... My blog has come perilously close to one of the many news-y blogs out there, and that's not entirely what I had in mind for it in the first place. Expect to hear more about books, gadgets, programming, etc. in the future, rather than further rambling on our president elect. There are many other places for information on politics. At this point, Obama would have to start eating small children or something to get me to continue paying as much attention to him as a political blog would require.

P.S. That picture below still brings tears to my eyes. It's just so perfect.

05 November 2008

Washington Post on Dick Cheney

After reading a rant about the merest chance of Sarah Palin becoming the vice president, I decided to read up on the changes that Cheney has wrought on the office. Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia is a bit vague and doesn't have enough detail. However, they do link to an absolutely fascinating series of articles by the Washington Post, available here. Amazing. I'll need to go back through these someday when I get the chance.

04 November 2008

Tears in my eyes

(Source: Yahoo!)
This picture just brings tears to my eyes. I never thought that I would live to see a black man become president, and yet it now appears certain that I was wrong. Thank you, United States, for showing me that there is hope yet that my birthplace can overcome our faults. Even as I type, I'm hearing fireworks in either Arlington or DC, shouting outside and horns blaring. People are excited about politics again, and I'm thrilled. Now Obama just needs to be one tenth the president he promised.