Two New Nerd-Tech Discoveries

I have of late been unhappy with the tools available to access Internet radio on the ol’ Treo. Windows Media Player Mobile does not access all file types and requires entering long URIs with a stylus and/or those teeny keybord buttons. Pocket Player (huh-huh, huh) is not too much better for that, neither. I was about ready to give in and buy one of those iThings because radio is about 97 percent what I use my gizmo for.

See, here’s my situation. I’m a webmonkey by trade. Now, when they named me thus at my organization, I tried to negotiate for a better title: Master of Time, Space, and Dimension (MTSD). I figured at least with that title, I’d have a better shot at getting an office with a window. No avail. So there’s no radio waves, satellite or analog, getting into my office. Now, they’ve lifted the restriction of streaming, but I still like to lean on my own unlimited data plan, for one because I don’t think the Web guy should set that kind of example, and for two because if I use my own radio all day, it gets me better versed on what my own hardware can do. So.

Enter…WunderRadio.

If you’re a radio bug with a Treo, Android phone or, iPhone, you’re going to want this thing. It flawlessly tunes in radio stations from all over the place. It can search for specific call letters. It can browse by genre and by individual program. And it tunes in without a furrowed brow or a “god-damnit.”

This thing lets me tune in just about anything I’d like aside from Howard Stern and Radio B.O.N.K., but I have other apps for those. I can get my moonbat radio programs, C-SPAN Radio AND all the SPANs as well, WTOP, WKSU, and just about anything. And it’s not a subscription service. You just plunk down a few bucks for the software. I don’t know how they can afford to do that…I’d pay for a subscription to this thing.

Of course, the standard warning applies: Have an unlimited data plan, or your radio obsession will put you into the poorhouse. But, tell you whut, I’ll be paying for this app. It is simple, it does only one thing and does it well, and it works. Can’t ask for more than that.

Next: FxIF.

This is a Firefox extension that extinguishes a frequent frustration in my professional life.

I often need to know how big an Internet graphic is. But most browsers do not give up this info in the Properties check by default. So, the old-fashioned way to find out this information was to save it to my hard disc, open it in Photoshoppe, then Image-Size; or to screenshot it and paste it into Photoshoppe and then Image-Size.

Which is just a little bit easier.

(I didn’t link to it because I don’t want to pick a bad Web site and lead anyone to a booby-trap. Probably best to get there with a search on “FxIF” from your “Add-Ons” menu.)

Things I Witnessed Today On My Commute

I saw a man being led up the escalator stairs at Ballston in handcuffs by two of Metro’s finest.

I saw a woman having an asthma attack on the platform.

I saw a woman trying to hail regular automobiles in traffic as if they were taxi cabs.

Is this the kind of stuff you’re supposed to use Twitter for?

More Macaroni and Cheese Notes

I made another batch tonight, and I have a few notes for myself. Hey, practice makes perfect. And it was damned close. Goodness.

First, this time, I shredded the cheese. I figured shredded you’d get as close to a Cup of the stuff as you could. But I think it was better cubed. The sauce didn’t take on the same viscocity as when I’d cubed it. My theory here is that the cubed cheese takes longer to melt, giving the mess more time to cook. The shredded cheese melted into the sauce nearly immediately, so I had to move on before it had time to set properly, is my theory. It didn’t seem to affect the quality of the final dish, but still…

I wonder if there’s a stinkier cheese than sharp cheddar that would be good for this. You need a strong cheese because the stuff is so dilluted. Sharp cheddar works very well, but I do wonder if I might try something more pronounced.

I used an old hot dog bun for the bread. It got me 1.5 cups. I think I’d suggest going for two cups. And I think the right bread to use for this recipe is not an old hot dog bun and not Stove Top. The answer you’re looking for is “sourdough.” That might lend a bit of tang to it.

Do not skimp on the green onion, unless you’re preparing this for Mama Bonk, of course, then just skip it entirely. I used three for this batch. I could have gone to five. It really adds a zest to the recipe. Plus, technically, you’re eating a vegetable—in fact, you’re eating a really good vegetable.

Do I need to create a “macaroni and cheese” category? I know I may seem obsessed. But this is a dish I’ve wanted to learn for a long time. Only way to do that is to get in the kitchen and do it.

That is all.

Hints From Abelard

Hint number one: Don’t mess with Heloise. Seriously.

Hint number two: How to clean a cheese grater after grating cheese—grate a carrot.

You’re welcome.

Subtle Social Cues in the Heartland of America

Yorktown man arrested on exposure charge
By NICK WERNER | March 11, 2009

YORKTOWN — A man arrested for allegedly masturbating at his mailbox Tuesday afternoon told police he was showing his neighbors “who was boss,” according to police reports.

Daniel T. Doster Jr., 42, 8501 W. Pleasant Road, faces preliminary charges of vicarious sexual gratification, a class D felony carrying a maximum three-year prison term.

According to witness accounts, Doster’s behavior took place while a 19-month old neighbor boy was playing in his yard with his mother.

Tuesday was Doster’s second arrest since Jan. 20 on allegations that he was masturbating by his mailbox. Doter is facing a charge of public indecency in Muncie City Court in connection with the Jan. 20 arrest.

Yorktown officer Mike Daugherty arrested Doster around 4:30 p.m.

“Once I read him his rights, Daniel admitted to me that he was standing at the mailbox masturbating to show his neighbors who was boss,” Daugherty wrote in the probable cause affdavit.

By the way, if there are any bands out there looking for a really cool name, may I suggest “Vicarious Sexual Gratification?”

David Shuster Says 'Baba Booey'

This made me so happy that I won’t even edit out MSNBC’s annoying plug after the embed.

A Method For Perfect Hamburgers

Making hamburgers at home is a complicated deal. You wouldn’t think so. But it is. You need the correct mixture, the correct spice, and the correct shape and width. That’s hard to do unless you work for MacDaniels.

Unless you own a KitchenAid and a couple of saucers, like you put under a coffee cup. Then it’s easy.

First, chop up a couple of onion pencils with the scissors and throw them into the KitchenAid bowl with the egg. Throw in three quarters cup bread crumbs or stove top or something. Three teaspoons of evaporated milk. Half teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper, preferably fresh ground. A dash of horseradish or some other acerbic tango you can stand. Goosh it up with the awesome power of the KitchenAid. You’ll start on speed one but will eventually have to resort to speed three as you throw in the two pounds or so of ground forkfull by forkfull.

Then, get a bunch of saucers and pull some of the meat mix out with a fork and beat and shape it into the saucer. Use less meat than you think you need. Spread it thin and beat on the edges. Don’t be afraid to mash it deeply into the plate. I’ve tried this before only to struggle to slip the mess into the skillet. It won’t come loose with a spatula. But you’re not worried about that. Just pack it tight and thin as possible.

Then flip it upside-down onto a hot skillet, saucer and all.

Within five minutes, the meat will cook enough that it will fall off of the plate of its own accord. And you will have a patty that is thin enough and of the absolutely perfect shape.

What if you’re doing this for the grill? I figure you can pre-cook the meat to very rare this way and then drag them out to the fire.No to metnion, this is a practical way to prepare patties at 2 p.m. that are meant to be consumed at 5 p.m. That would leave less guesswork to the barbecue chef and fewer burgers under or over cooked.

As I said. Learning is yummy.

Let It Be Known

Tonight, I have added to the expansive knowledge base known as Wikipedia.

I had looked up the classic blues song by Robert Johnson called “Dust My Broom.” I noticed that it was missing the 2009 cover by sixth-season third-place American Idol finalist Melinda Doolittle on the album Coming Back to You.

You’re welcome.

Macaroni and Cheese: The Secret Revealed

A chronic obsession with this blog is my effort to create the perfect dish of macaroni and cheese. Sorry. Yet another entry regarding this comfort food.

Because this evening, we have made serious headway.

Let me explain. A few years ago, I was at Rocklands here in Arlington (before it moved out of the Carpool). I ordered the mac and cheese. It was sublime. It wasn’t just a buncha elbows slathered in sauce. It was textured and moist. Only once since until tonight have I encountered macaroni and cheese that was of that quality, and that was at Wolfgang Puck’s in Vegas.

Every one I’ve made since taking up this quest was good, but it still missed the boat. But I have accidentally come upon the secret.

First the noodles. THEN the eggs.

Duh.

Here is the recipe I used this evening. It is a keeper.

One Cup of Canned Milk
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of finely diced sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 T butter
1 1/2 soft bread slices, cubed (actually, I used a cup of Stove Top)
2-3 finely sliced onion pencil
1/2 t. salt
dash pepper (fresh-ground)
2 beaten eggs
2 C. of macarooni cooked (meaning I measured 2 Cups DRY and then cooked it.)
And, I had a pack of Smokies, so in they went.

In a saucepan, combine milk, water, cheese, butter, bring to a boil stirring constanly. When cheese melts, remove from heat. Stir in bread cubes, onion, salt, pepper. Fold in the macarooni. Fold in the eggs. Stir the whole mess until it’s goosh. Spoon into a greased baking dish, bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

As I was mixing, it occurred to me that the way I had done it before hadn’t made any sense; I had folded the eggs first. But all that does is let it mix with the sauce. The purpose of the egg is to bind the whole mess together and to create that textured quality I’m having trouble describing, and it won’t do that if it’s just part of the rest of the liquid when you add the noodles.

Learning is delicious.

A few notes to self for next time.

  • You might use two 4×8 Pyrex dishes next instead of one big dish. Gives you some flexibility if you throw in meat and have too much as I did this time.
  • Another dish suggestion…some creme brulee dishes might be useful for this. That’s how Wolfgang Puck’s served it; individual servings.
  • I did accidentally use more salt than called for…double, to be exact, which might account for my raves here.