Kevin's Compendium of Useless Fantasia
1 July 2003
Welcome to the eleventh issue of Kevin's Compendium of Useless Fantasia.
This is my attempt at a monthly publication of some of my creative
endeavors. If you're reading this, you may have noticed that there wasn't
a Compendium last month. Basically, I didn't feel like doing it when May
changed over to June, and then I just couldn't make myself do it in the
days that followed. So I'm making July a special double issue. Yes, that's
right, a limited edition hand-lettered and numbered collector's bonus
issue! And if you act now, you'll get this lovely spatula.
Let's take a look at what I did in May and June:
That's it for this eleventh issue of Kevin's Compendium of Useless
Watch for Issue 12 coming out 1 August 2003.
- I made chicken thighs in onions, lemon juice, red curry paste, tamari,
and honey. Yum.
- I made a Perl program to solve the NPR Weekend Edition Sunday
Puzzle for 27 April 2003:
Take the word ELONGATED. You can rearrange the letters into
three 3-letter words: LAD, EGO, TEN. If you set these one under the other,
you'll have what's called a double-word square, with LET, AGE, DON reading
vertically. Now, take the 16 letters of THE CONVERSATIONS, the title of a
book by Michael Ondaatje, who also wrote "The English Patient." Rearrange
them into a 4 X 4 double-word square, using only common
uncapitalized English words.
My first attempts at solving this were turning up way too many false
positives, some using uncommon words and some not following the rules. So
I used a pared-down word list and spent some time thinking about the
algorithm. I came up with a very nice recursive algorithm the program
found the answer:
- I started the Jotto Puzzle of
the Day Web site. Every day for almost two months now I've been
putting up a Jotto puzzle generated by a Perl program that I wrote a while
ago. In the beginning, I was trying to provide an annotated solution to
each puzzle. However, that's pretty time consuming, and I haven't added
any solutions in a while. I may start that up again.
- A friend was over the limit on her Yahoo! Mail account but didn't want to
individually download thousands of messages. So I made a Perl script with
the help of WWW::Mechanize
to download all of her email. It appears to work just fine, and she has
now been able to get below her limit by deleting a bunch of email that she
now has a saved copy of.
- At the request of a friend, I made a program to automatically change
the security level of old LiveJournal entries, something you
can't do with the standard client without going back and editing every
single entry. The first version I made I put up as a form on a Web site
and posted about it. It got massively swamped and just about killed the
server I was on. So I shut it down and retooled it and released it as
command-line script. I've had quite a few people request it, but I haven't
heard back from anyone who has used the script.
- I made pizza. Whole wheat dough. Olive oil, 2 minced habaneros,
granulated garlic, onion powder, mozzerella-flavored veggie shred (cheese
substitute). It was pretty decent. I should make that again.
- I made pizza with avocado, salt, a little paprika, lemon juice, garlic
powder, and onion powder. I put the avocado stuff on the pizza (over olive
oil), then put vegan cheese (cheddar flavor) on. Unlike the veggie shred,
I found out that the vegan cheese is not meant to be melted. In fact, it
didn't melt; it just burned. It was pretty inedible. Lesson definitely
- I held my second annual Boggle tournament. I made a T-shirt with a
printed iron-on transfer for last year's winner. The front said that it
was a Boggle champion's shirt with the date and location of the
tournament, all in a little circle on the breast. On the back were two
pictures from the rules of the original Boggle, showing RIGHT and WRONG
ways to find words on a Boggle board. I also made up the iron-on transfers
to make a shirt for this year's winner. I haven't actually made the shirt,
yet, since I ended up winning it myself.
- Also for the Boggle tournament, I made a program to generate
tournament seating. Last year, I just randomized it with a deck of cards
every round. This had some fairly skewed results (as should have been
expected), with some people playing each other several times and some
people playing each other not at all. I made a program that would randomly
generate a bunch of seatings, but then would choose the best one based on
how evenly people played each other. It turned out fairly well, I think,
and it also was nice to have the seatings already determined in
- I made boneless skinless chicken breats with soy sauce, red wine,
ginger powder, and dried lemongrass. I put this over white rice cooked
- I was a bit upset and so wrote a fairly intense poem on the subject of
nad kicking. I read it at a friend's story reading event. I got a couple
of weird looks and a couple of compliments on it, so I consider it a
success. I really should write more poetry. I really should write more,
- I made German chocolate cake for a friend's birthday. I followed the
Betty Crocker recipe, except I cooked the frosting a bit too long, but no
one was able to tell, and I think it might have added a richer flavor to
it, anyway. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it, even people who don't
normally like cake. And the birthday boy said it was perfect, exactly what
German chocolate cake should be.
- I made dinner for a friend. Blackened tilapia, salad, and corn on the
cob. For dessert, my friend pitted cherries, and I improvised a cobbler,
somewhat referring to a blueberry cobbler recipe from Betty Crocker (I
really love that book). Followed the book for the topping. For the fruit,
I put the cherries, sugar, a little water, vanilla, cornstarch, and
cinnamon in a saucepan and cooked and stirred until it thickened and
boiled. Then I put that in an 8-inch baking dish, put the topping on, then
baked at 400 for 25 minutes. Let it cool a bit and yum. It would have been
even better with some good vanilla ice cream.
- I made lime Bavarian (guess where the recipe comes from?) with Hip
Whip, a vegan, natural-ingredient whipped topping. The flavor was good,
but the texture was not as good as with real whipping cream. It was
pleasantly tart, though. I think I'll cave and make it with real whipping
cream next time.
Issue 01 | Issue 02 |
Issue 03 | Issue 04 |
Issue 05 | Issue 06 |
Issue 07 | Issue 08 |
Issue 09 | Issue 10
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Last modified: 01 July 2003