Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop




Anticipating Oliveto

Posted 30 September, 2007 at 4:42pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Dining) 1 comment

So, I'm getting ready to drive up to Berkeley/Oakland to dine at Oliveto Cafe and Restaurant. I've dined there once before and the food is remarkable — it's one of those places where you know the entire staff cares about food. One of things that stands out about Oliveto in my memory is not just the delicious food, attentive wait staff, and exquisite preparation of Italian cuisine - but also the menu. Tonight's menu should be posted around 5pm (about an hour before my dinner reservation) at http://www.oliveto.com/dinnermenu.pdf. (They always post the dinner menu at around 5pm and it changes every day.) I'll try to remember to download it tonight and post it here so it's more permanent. Anyway, the menu is always an adventure… I've been doing food writing for the last three and a half years (and been decently successful at my style of writing) and the menu confounds me. It truly is a culinary adventure just deciphering it. So, go and print it out and scribble notes over it and figure out what each menu item means. If you figure out one menu item, then post in the comments - I'll be doing the same. The early bird gets the easy entries…

Here's one from the Sept. 29 that I just couldn't figure out:
Chitarra nera alla colatura di alici - black guitar that filters anchovies?
My best guess is that it's a black pasta (either guitar strings like capellini or cut by a chitarra as in linguini shaped…) with a sauce made of anchovies…

Intel SpeedStep, Windows XP, and confusing Power Profiles

Posted 29 September, 2007 at 8:25pm by Michael Chu

This information is elsewhere on the net, but not necessarily easy to find, so I'm "re-documenting" it here while I still remember it from my work in this area back in 2002-2005. These states are mapped for Windows XP terminology only, but a great deal of IT machines are still out there that use XP so it's probably still relevant for another year or so. The impetus to write this down was due to my wife's work laptop "being loud all the time". I took a look and discovered that it was her fan that she was complaining about. Since it had the Centrino Mobile Technology sticker, I knew the processor had to be Pentium M or later, fully supporting Intel Enhanced SpeedStep Technology, so I changed the power profile to allow the CPU to enter a low power state while the laptop was plugged in (which is almost all the time). About ten minutes later, everything was perfectly quiet (the fan having stopped running for the first time).
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Intel SpeedStep, Windows XP, and confusing Power Profiles

The Next Iron Chef

Posted 28 September, 2007 at 5:55pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food) No comments

The Next Iron Chef, a new 6-part series premiering Oct. 7 on Food Network, went to the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park Campus) to film this summer. Check out http://www2.ciachef.edu/nic/ for more info as well as a video about the CIA (and why they think the Food Network chose to use them for this show).


Posted 25 September, 2007 at 10:59am by Michael Chu

Nikolas, a reader of Cooking For Engineers, sent in this photo in response to the Bacon Cooking Tests (Part I and Part II). Now that's a lot of bacon!


A most complete pizza recipe

Posted 23 September, 2007 at 12:28pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food) No comments

Cooking For Engineers reader Margaret sent me this incredible website documenting the exact way Jeff Varasano makes pizza. His instructions are insanely detailed, informative, and helpful. I definitely encourage everyone interested in pizzas (eating and baking) to read this page.

Dining Apathy

Posted 22 September, 2007 at 7:13pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food) 2 comments

You know how writers get writer's block? I just realized that every so often (maybe two to three times a year) I get into a food funk. Every time I get hungry (which is about three or four times a day) I don't know what I want to eat and I don't particularly care. I'm just generally apathetic. Nothing excites me when I go over the list of foods that I could prepare for myself. Looking at the list of restaurants nearby results in a general reaction of "eh". How do I get out of this? I have no idea - at some point it just passes. I'll try to pay attention to see what gets me out of the funk.

Movies This Week (9/14)

Posted 17 September, 2007 at 11:17pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Movies) No comments

I wasn't able to write up most of the movies that I watched in the last three weeks, but I managed to get these down. I watched Superbad (4.5/5), Balls of Fury (3.25/5), Jawbreaker (2/5), High School Musical (1.75/5), and Stardust (4.25/5).
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Movies This Week (9/14)

"Why aren't you smarter? [drumstick!]"

Posted 16 September, 2007 at 10:22pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Rant) 5 comments

So, I've got the TV on while I'm working on my computer and Blade: Trinity comes on TNT (a basic cable station). The opening sequence involves a lot of violence and action where Blade (Wesley Snipes) kills a bunch of vampires and then stakes a human (non-vampire). He asks, "I staked you with silver, why aren't you dead?" and the guy gasps, "Why aren't you smarter?" and then in a COMPLETELY different voice, "Drumstick!". Obviously, TNT felt it necessary to dub over whatever obscenity was originally there, but who came up with the idea to say "Drumstick"?!? Of all the words they could have chosen to fill that spot, "drumstick"?

Airsoft in the San Francisco Bay Area

Posted 15 September, 2007 at 11:16am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Airsoft) 40 comments

I suppose we have it pretty good in the Bay Area when it comes to Airsoft. Compared to many other places in the United States (where the sport is just not as popular - everyone plays Paintball instead), there are a lot more choices and options here. Unfortunately, it's still not easy to find a public field to play on and to get in a game on a private field you have to know people and pack your own gear - not an easy way to introduce new people to the sport.

Currently Open
Roundhouse Productions at Ford Ord (Marina, CA) - Based on the old army base near Monterey, California, this was one of the best places to play large group public games (sometimes over 200 participants). There were going to close after September 2007 and look for a new location, but they've managed to keep having games at Fort Ord. Looks like they're managing to keep alive - which is excellent news. No rentals.
Sequoia Airsoft [Combat Enterprises] (somewhere 45 min. south of San Jose, California) - Runs games every 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. It is (apparently) the last public airsoft field in the immediate Bay Area. They do not take walk-ons - you must register at least a day in advance to be provided instructions to the field and be allowed on. They ask all their participants to wear appropriate clothing (BDU's - Battle Dress Uniform/Camouflage) but I've read accounts of people bringing guests in black shirts and jeans. Face mask rentals only.
Modesto Airsoft [Combat Enterprises] (Modesto, California) - Games every 2nd Sunday of the month. No walk-ons - all participants must pre-register. Face mask rentals are available.
CQBCITY (Stockton, California) - The airsoft facility with the most annoying website. It's supposed to be the world's largest indoor airsoft arena. Being that it's all the way out there in Stockton, I've not been.
Mike Force Airsoft (Moss Landing, California) - This airsoft club runs games in a field halfway between Santa Cruz and Monterey. Public games are held every 2nd Sunday of each month. They do provide weapons rentals, but BDU's are required.
Sacramento Airsoft (throughout the Sacramento area) - This is more of a loose network of people who play airsoft in the Sacramento area. It doesn't look like there is a central facility or group of people that make everything happen, but individuals and teams will post their game dates, locations, and rules for others to participate.
Recently closed:
Eagle Force Airsoft (San Jose, CA) - Games every Saturday starting at 6am. No BDU's (battle dress uniform - camouflage) necessary. Must be 16 or over.
Orchid Bay (South San Jose, CA) - Closed multiple times due to vandalism and fires. Closed for good now because of a huge after hours fire that destroyed just about everything the proprietor had to his name. When they were open, offered weapons rentals and face masks and was a good place to introduce new people to the sport.
FortOrd [Combat Enterprises] (Marina, CA) - Closed.
Operation Paintball (Hayward, CA) - I believe they offered weapon rentals when they were open. Rumor is that the facility was bought by a Laser Tag company and shutdown to be eventually reopened with Laser Tag. (Part of me is sad that a paintball company moving towards airsoft [right direction!] was bought and pulled back to Laser Tag [wrong direction!]) In any case, this was my least favorite environment since it was a pretty cramped indoor arena (arena is the right word - it does NOT feel like CQB) where everyone just rushed around and shot everything. Tactics and strategy had no real place in this environment.
Shadow Tactical (Santa Rosa, California) - A 9,000 sq. ft. indoor cubicle based airsoft CQB (close quarters battle) simulation. Pistol and face mask rentals available.

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Airsoft in the San Francisco Bay Area

Being ignored

Posted 11 September, 2007 at 11:42pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Dining, Rant) 8 comments

One thing that I really hate is when I'm left alone WAY too long at a restaurant. When a waiter doesn't come by for a while after we've been seated, it's really frustrating. This evening, I kept trying to catch the eye of the waitress that was serving all the tables around us, but she was VERY adept at not looking in our direction. Finally, our waiter arrived (it wasn't the waitress that was serving all the other tables in our vicinity) took our orders and disappeared. Apparently, we were in the boondocks of this guy's waiting area and stuck in the middle of a different waitress's realm. They we realized that we were starting to get really cold (near an air conditioning vent). We kept looking around for our waiter but he didn't come back. Then a server (not our waiter) arrived with our food and we asked if it was possible to move. She said she'd find our waiter and disappeared. By the time the waiter returned, we had practically finished eating. Unfortunately, I didn't immediately ask for a to-go box so we once again had to wait and wait. I eventually stood up and walked around to look for our waiter. After returning to our booth, I stood there long enough for a passing waitress to ask if I needed anything. I asked for our check and she went off in search of our waiter. He returned shortly with our bill. I feel that restaurants, even casual ones, should do a better job with dividing up tables so they are accessible to their wait staff.