In this section:
Thu, 14 Nov 2019
Katara and I are in a virtuous cycle where she thinks of some food she wants to eat and then asks me to cook it, I scratch my head and say "Well, I never did, but I could try", and then I do, and she tells me it was really good. This time she suggested I should make soondubu jjigae (순두부찌개), which is a Korean stew that features very soft tofu. (“Dubu” (두부) is tofu, and “soon dubu” is soft tofu.)
I did it and it came out good, everyone was happy and told me how great I am. Cooking for my family makes me feel like a good dad and husband. Hey, look, I am doing my job! I love when I do my job.
I thought maybe soondubu would be one of those things where you can make it at home with endless toil but in the end you have a product that is almost as good as the $6.95 version you could get from the place downstairs. But it was actually pretty easy. Korean cuisine is often very straightforward and this was one of those times. I approximately followed this recipe but with several changes. (One of these days I'll write a blog article about how so many people stress out about the details of recipes.) The overall method is:
The recipe on that page called for beef but I used chicken meat in cubes because that was what Katara asked for. All the soondubu recipes I found call for kochugaru (red pepper flakes) instead of kochujang (red pepper soybean paste) but I didn't have any handy and so what?
Somewhere in the world there is some food snob who will sneer and say that Real Soondubu is always made with kochugaru, and using kochujang is totally inauthentic. But somewhere else there is someone who will say “well, my grandmother always liked to use kojujang instead”, and Grandma outranks the food snob. Also I decided this year that the whole idea of “authentic” recipes is bullshit and I am going to forget about it.
I used chicken broth out of a box. The recipe called for scallions but I think I didn't have any handy that time. The recipe called for anchovy paste but I left them out because Lorrie doesn't like the way they taste. But I put did in some thin slices of zucchini. We do have a nice Korean-style glazed earthenware pot which I cooked in and then transported directly to the table.
Everyone in my family likes soondubu and it made me really happy that they considered my first one successful.
Mon, 11 Nov 2019
All programming languages are equally crappy, but some are more equally crappy than others.
Wed, 06 Nov 2019
Regarding the phrase “why didn't you just…”, Mike Hoye has something to say that I've heard expressed similarly by several other people:
(Specifically, that you think they must be a blockhead for not thinking of this solution immediately.)
I think this was first pointed out to me by Andy Lester.
I think the problem here may be different than it seems. When someone says “Why don't you just (whatever)” there are at least two things they might intend:
Certainly the tech world is full of response 1. But I wonder how many people were trying to communicate response 2 and had it received as response 1 anyway? And I wonder how many times I was trying to communicate response 2 and had it received as response 1?
Mike Hoye doesn't provide any alternative phrasings, which suggests to me that he assumes that all uses of “why didn't you just” are response 1, and are meant to imply contempt. I assure you, Gentle Reader, that that is not the case.
Pondering this over the years, I have realized I honestly don't know how to express my question to make clear that I mean #2, without including a ridiculously long and pleading disclaimer before what should be a short question. Someone insecure enough to read contempt into my question will have no trouble reading it into a great many different phrasings of the question, or perhaps into any question at all. (Or so I imagine; maybe this is my own insecurities speaking.)
Can we agree that the problem is not simply with the word “just”, and that merely leaving it out does not solve the basic problem? I am not asking a rhetorical question here; can we agree? To me,
seems to suffer from all the same objections as the “just”ful version and to be subject to all the same angry responses. Is it possible the whole issue is only over a difference in the connotations of “just” in different regional variations of English? I don't think it is and I'll continue with the article assuming that it isn't and that the solution isn't as simple as removing “just”.
Let me try to ask the question in a better better way:
I think the sort of person who is going to be insulted by the original version of my question will have no trouble being insulted by any of those versions, maybe interpreting them as:
The more self-effacing I make it, the more I try to put in that I think the trouble is only in my own understanding, the more mocking and sarcastic it seems to me and the more likely I think it is to be misinterpreted. Our inner voices can be cruel. Mockery and contempt we receive once can echo again and again in our minds. It is very sad.
So folks, please help me out here. This is a real problem in my life. Every week it happens that someone is telling me what they are working on. I think of what seems like a straightforward way to proceed. I assume there must be some aspect I do not appreciate, because the person I am talking to has thought about it a lot more than I have. Aha, I have an opportunity! Sometimes it's hard to identify what it is that I don't understand, but here the gap in my understanding is clear and glaring, ready to be filled.
I want to ask them about it and gain the benefit of their expertise,
just because I am interested and curious, and perhaps even because the
knowledge might come in useful. But then I run into trouble. I want
to ask “Why didn't you just use
I want to ask the question in a way that will make them smile, hold up
their index finger, and say “Aha! You might think that
What if I were to say
Would that be safer? How about:
but again I think that suggests sarcasm. A colleague suggests:
What to do? I'm in despair. Andy, any thoughts?
Tue, 05 Nov 2019
A while back a YouTube video was going around titled Octopus Intelligence Experiment Takes an Unexpected Turn. Someone put food in a baby bottle with a screw cap and a rubber nipple. There was a hole drilled in the bottle so that the octopus could reach in to taste the food, but it was not large enough for the food to come out or for the octopus to go in. The idea, I suppose, was that the octopus would figure out how to unscrew the cap.
The “unpexected turn” was that instead of unscrewing the cap, the octopus just ripped the entire nipple out of the bottle.
I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating: this outcome should not have been an unexpected turn:
(Martin Wells, Octopus: Physiology and Behaviour of an Advanced Invertebrate (Springer, 1978), page 241.)
Mon, 04 Nov 2019
We have had two of these plastic thingies cluttering up our dish drainer for years. We didn't know what they were but we didn't want to throw them away because what if they are important?
I got tired of them this weekend, and examined one more closely.
There wasn't any indication of what it had been part of, or what it
was for, but it did have the marking
And the result was instantaneous and unequivocal: it belongs to my refrigerator. Specifically, it goes in the back of the freezer compartment to keep food from falling down into the back and blocking the drainage path.
Truly, we live in an age of marvels.
I suddenly wondered: was Andy Warhol ever a TV show guest star? So I asked the Goog, and the answer was better than I could have imagined: in October 1985, Andy Warhol was a guest star on The Love Boat.
According to Wikipedia, one of the subpots of the episode was “a woman avoids Warhol, wanting to forget the time she was in one of his movies.” That is a lot more plausible than many Love Boat plots!
Also starring in that episode were Milton Berle, Tom Bosley and Marion Ross, Andy Griffith, and Cloris Leachman. TV Guide named it one of the hundred greatest episodes of any TV show ever.