Kevin's Compendium of Useless Fantasia
1 March 2003
Welcome to the eighth issue of Kevin's Compendium of Useless Fantasia.
This is my attempt at a monthly publication of some of my creative
endeavors. Too many blizzards and frigid temperatures this February. I'm
really ready for spring.
Let's take a look at what I did in February:
That's it for this eighth issue of Kevin's Compendium of Useless Fantasia.
Watch for Issue 09 coming out 1 April 2003.
- A friend posed the following problem: What pair of synonyms are a Rot-13 of each other? I wrote a Perl
program to solve this. I went for the longer words first, but it ended up
being two three-letter words: vex and irk. It was
interesting to see how many words were Rot-13 of each other. The longest
Rot-13 pair I found was abjurer and nowhere. I didn't find
anything longer, and I checked up through sixteen-letter words.
- I made orange chocolate mousse for dinner with a friend one night. I
added grated orange peel in near the end of the process. It tasted a bit
too strongly of orange for my tastes, but my dinner companion liked the
level of the orange. I definitely like flavored mousses, but I've only
ever made raspberry and orange. I'd like to experiment with some others.
- I used XML::RSS
to make an RSS feed for the
NPR Weekend Edition
Sunday Puzzle. I set it up so that it updates the feed every Sunday
night at 11, in case they are late getting it up on the Web site.
- I'd been tossing around the idea of a grapefruit meringue pie for
quite a while. I'd even had two sets of grapefruits go bad sitting around
waiting for me to make the pie. Well, I finally made it. I just took a
lemon meringue pie recipe and substituted grapefruit juice for lemon
juice and grapefruit zest for lemon zest. It turned out nicely. If you
didn't know it wasn't lemon, you probably wouldn't have noticed. I also
made a French silk pie that same night. That's nothing new for me, but I
once again learned that making two pies at once can be quite a workout.
- I went back and rewrote some of the testing code for the Jotto AIs. It's much nicer now,
and it will be much easier and faster to run. I did a test run with the
dumb AI, but I have yet to rewrite the smart AI and test that. I've gotten
involved in other programming projects, so I'm not sure when I'll get back
- I did my first bit of Perl consulting. A friend had some data in an
Excel spreadsheet about how many days it took for his call center to close
calls. He had the starting date and ending date, but it just computed the
number of days, not taking weekends into account. So I used Spreadsheet::ParseExcel
to write a Perl program to read the spreadsheet and calculate the average
time to close certain categories of calls. I even put in functionality to
take holidays into account, once I find out what the holidays for his
business are. This is something he has to run every month, so I think it
will be fairly useful.
- I wrote a haiku. It happened
after a painful incident that occurred while folding laundry. Damned
dryness and static electricity.
- Having recently made a meringue pie, I thought I'd make some meringue
cookies. I don't really like them, but other people do. Plus, I thought it
would be interesting to try. I followed a recipe to which I added a bit of
cocoa powder. The recipe had the cookies bake at 275 for 20 minutes and
then stay in the turned-off oven for an hour. They turned out to be
exploding cookies. Very light and fragile. People seemed to like them,
though. I confirmed that I didn't really care for them. If I'm going to be
eating a cookie, I want a real cookie.
- I made a Web page
to act as a front end for LiveJournal's export feature. The one
offered by them only lets you download one month of your journal at a
time. My front end lets you specify a range of months and downloads the
whole thing. The next LiveJournal-related programming I want to do is make
something that will allow you to download your whole journal, comments
- I made dinner (and leftovers for lunch) for myself. I made up white
rice in one pot. In a skillet, I put a little bit of canola oil, chick
peas, lemon juice, cinnamon, chili powder, and black pepper. After that
had cooked for a while, I added some red wine. I put the beans on top of
the rice. It was a very different taste, but it was yummy.
- I made some mango-pepper jam. I decided to use some pectin I got for
Christmas. Instead of being activated by sugar, this pectin is activated
by calcium. Instead of the 6 cups of sugar I might normally use for a
batch, I only used 1 cup. I didn't add enough liquid near the end, though,
so I only got 2 pints out of it, and it's really thick. Still, it actually
tastes like mangoes and peppers instead of just tasting like
mango-flavored sweetness. I put some on a peanut-butter sandwich, and it
was really good. I am definitely pleased with this, so I think I will
continue to use this pectin.
- I wrote a Perl program to help me solve the NPR Weekend Edition Sunday
Puzzle from 23 February 2003. "Think of a five-letter word, with the
consecutive letters AL. Change the AL to an O, and the result is a
four-letter word that means the opposite of the first one. What words are
these?" The answer: valid and void.
- I joined a community on LiveJournal where a photo contest is
held each week on a different theme. This has me taking more pictures. I
have so far entered contests on the themes of reflections and sunsets. I
enjoy taking pictures. Someday, I'll put up a gallery of some of my
Issue 01 | Issue 02 |
Issue 03 | Issue 04 |
Issue 05 | Issue 06 |
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Last modified: 01 March 2003