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Archive: February 7, 2006

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Texas chili cookoff

Tuesday,  02/07/06  08:18 PM

(From my colleague Martin Stuart)

Notes from an Inexperienced Chili Taster, named FRANK, who was visiting Texas from the East Coast...


Recently I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off.  The original person called in sick at the last moment, and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking directions to the beer wagon when the call came.  I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted.

Here are the scorecards from the event:

Chili # 1: Mike's Maniac Mobster Monster Chili.

JUDGE ONE: A little too heavy on tomato. Amusing kick.

JUDGE TWO: Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

FRANK: Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff?  You could remove dried paint from your driveway.  Took me two beers to put the flames out.  I hope that's the worst one.  These Texans are crazy.

Chili # 2: Arthur's Afterburner Chili

JUDGE ONE: Smoky, with a hint of pork.  Slight Jalapeno tang.

JUDGE TWO: Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

FRANK: Keep this out of reach of children!  I'm not sure what I am supposed to taste besides pain.  I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver.  They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.

Chili # 3: Fred's Famous Burn Down the Barn Chili

JUDGE ONE: Excellent firehouse chili!  Great kick.  Needs more beans.

JUDGE TWO: A beanless chili, a bit salty, good use of red peppers.

FRANK: Call the EPA, I've located a uranium spill.  My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano.  Everyone knows the routine by now, get me more beer before I ignite.  Barmaid pounded me on the back; now my backbone is in the front part of my chest.  I'm getting shit-faced from all the beer.

Chili # 4: Bubba's Black Magic

JUDGE ONE: Black bean chili with almost no spice.  Disappointing.

JUDGE TWO: Hint of lime in the black beans.  Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

FRANK: I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it, is it possible to burn-out taste buds?  Sally, the bar maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills; that ugly bitch is starting to look HOT, just like this nuclear-waste I'm eating.  Is chili an aphrodisiac?

Chili # 5: Linda's Legal Lip Remover

JUDGE ONE: Meaty, strong chili.  Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick.  Very impressive.

JUDGE TWO: Chili using shredded beef; could use more tomato.  Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

FRANK: My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes.  I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics.  The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage.  Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from a pitcher.  I wonder if I'm burning my lips off?  It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming.  Screw those rednecks!

Chili # 6: Vera's Very Vegetarian Variety

JUDGE ONE: Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili.  Good balance of spice and peppers.

JUDGE TWO: The best yet.  Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic.  Superb.

FRANK: My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames.  I shit myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair.  No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that slut Sally, she must be kinkier than I thought.  Can't feel my lips anymore.  I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone!

Chili # 7: Susan's Screaming Sensation Chili

JUDGE ONE: A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

JUDGE TWO: Ho Hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment.  I should note that I am worried about Judge Number 3.  He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.

FRANK: You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a damn thing.  I've lost the sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water.  My shirt is covered with chili which slid unnoticed out of my mouth.  My pants are full of lava-like shit to match my damn shirt.  At least during the autopsy they'll know what killed me.  I've decided to stop breathing, it's too painful.  Screw it, I'm not getting any oxygen anyway.  If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4 inch hole in my stomach.

Chili # 8: Helen's Mount Saint Chili

JUDGE ONE: A perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili, safe for all, not too bold but spicy enough to declare its existence.

JUDGE TWO: This final entry is a good, balanced chili, neither mild nor hot.  Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge Number 3 passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself.  Not sure if he's going to make it.  Poor Yank, wonder how he'd have reacted to a really hot chili?

FRANK: --(editor's note: Judge #3 was unable to report)



Tuesday,  02/07/06  08:54 PM

Here's some wonderful sarcasm: The Jewish Street Explodes.  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]

I've been conducting an unintended stress test on Aperio's image server.  Recently I posted high resolution photos from NASA of Virtual Earth and the Galactic center.  These high res images are located on one of Aperio's servers, and are being served by Aperio's ImageServer software.  A Flash-based thin client displays the image incrementally, enabling rapid panning and zooming throughout the entire image.  Anyway, I've been getting more and more links to these images, and in the past day the traffic has really built up.  As people are panning and zooming, the ImageServer is serving.  So far, so good.  In the last 24 hours the steady state has been 4200 requests per hour, for 800MB of data.  Respond time hasn't suffered despite a large number of concurrent users.  So thanks everyone for helping us test :)

VisitorvilleNow I need Visitorville, "an application that takes a website's traffic information and renders it as a Sim-City-like world, where each page in a site is a building, and visitors appear as human avatars that travel to and fro..."  Now that would be cool.  Useless, too.

Spirit rovesThis sounds excellent: One Giant Leap to IMAX.  "After gliding 100 million miles and plopping on the red planet's surface inside a giant puffball, the robot Spirit unfolds, then basks in sunlight like an origami bird.  Back on Earth, a NASA control room is jammed with scientists.  They alternately cringe, calculate and cheer while Spirit and its younger sibling, Opportunity, meander on Mars and snap photos like bug-eyed robot tourists.  And that's just the first 20 minutes.  An eye-popping documentary about NASA's Mars Rovers is about to hit IMAX screens."  That's so excellent!

If you're a regular reader, you know I like Titan.  (In fact, I plan to visit Titan :)  Now BBC reports Titan moon occupies 'sweet spot'.  "Earth and Saturn's moon Titan show striking similarities because both occupy 'sweet spots' in our Solar System, researchers have said.  Many processes that occur on Earth also take place on this moon, say scientists participating in the US-European Cassini-Huygens mission.  'Titan is perhaps the most Earth-like place in the Solar System other than Earth, in terms of the balance of processes,' says Jonathan Lunine, of the University of Arizona, US, who is an interdisciplinary scientist for Cassini-Huygens."  [ via Slashdot ]

There is even some conjecture that there could be life on Titan.  "People talk about Titan and astrobiology all the time, but it tends to be Titan as the laboratory for the pre-biotic Earth.  It's got nitrogen, it's got organic chemistry.  We've known that for a long time, and that was a large part of the motivation for sending these missions, Cassini and Huygens, to examine the pre-biotic chemistry...  But people haven't talked much about the idea that something might be living on Titan today.  I think mostly because it's so cold there, and chemical reactions just proceed too slowly.  But Titan turns out to be an exceedingly active planet."  Wow, now that would be cool.  Pun intended :)

I know you had your calendar marked for the SpaceX launch tomorrow, right?  Well, it has been delayed a little bit more, with a test Thursday and the actual launch on Friday.  Third time's a charm!

[ Later: Kimbal Musk is posting from Kwajalein again!  The best way to follow the launch, blow by blow... ]

The IT CrowdCory Doctorow noted a new sitcom called The IT Crowd.  I downloaded the first two episodes with Bittorrent, and man, is it funny.  I mean Office Space funny.  I don't know if it will have wide enough appeal to succeed - somehow I don't think Shirley would think it is funny, or my Mom - but it definitely has the Geek Vote.

Apparently Google is talking to Dell about distribution.  I don't really understand this, unless, as Jakob Nielson notes, it has to do with the power of defaults.  Anyone can use Google, and anyone can install the Google toolbar.  So why would Google pay Dell to do it for them?  Not clear.  Seems like old school thinking to me.

OTOH remember when the Netscape home page was the most visited page on the web?

Ottmar Liebert considers David Byrne's regarding Self and Brain.  "From observation it seems to me that the brain craves order.  The brain will do anything to achieve order, including believing in something - just to be done with it.  The brain thinks that believing something is efficient since a problem is solved - or rather filed away."  I think that's right, it certainly describes my brain...



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