Operation “Churros”: FAIL

If you took Spanish in school as a foreign language, you should be familiar with churros.


Mmm…fried dough coated in sugar!

I live in Florida, so it’s hard to take a foreign language other than Spanish. My innate hipster tendency really wanted to take Latin but Middle Schools just don’t offer it (or at least mine didn’t).

So, at the age of 12, I found myself in need of a project to take to school for Spanish class. My innate over-achiever tendency wanted to take something AMAZING. Something DELICIOUS. Like CHURROS.

That same evening, I found myself temporarily in the house alone and, being resourceful, I decided I could absolutely make churros myself. NOT A PROBLEM.

I got this!

My Mom was a bit of a health-nut. We weren’t allowed to have Trix or Cocoa Puffs or any of the GOOD cereals. The closest we could get was Frosted Flakes if we were really lucky. Therefore, we didn’t do much frying of food in our house. I knew the basic idea though, so grabbed a pan and some vegetable oil, poured one into the other and set it on the stove to heat.

Now, in my mind, I associated frying with that crackling, popping sound. And according to twelve-year-old logic, that sound was what I was waiting on before I threw the refrigerated biscuit dough into the oil to create all the goodness.

So I waited. And waited. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand waited.


This is the closest image I could find to the horror I created.

Eventually, the pan full of heated oil started smoking and I started to worry. This was NOT what I expected and things were not exactly going according to plan. When the kitchen started to fill with smoke, I decided to pull the plug.

I picked up the pan and walked out the kitchen door onto our back deck, planning to pour the oil onto a patch of sand (at least I was bright enough to know better than to pour it onto anything potentially flammable) and be done with it. However, that plan was blown completely to bits when the pan of oil IGNITED INTO FLAMES while I was holding it.

column of fire

It looked a little like this. But scarier.

Twelve-year-old logic is pretty hit or miss as far as reliability. I instinctively knew the fire needed to be put out and the first thing that came to mind that I needed was water. However, the closest (and first) water source twelve-year-old logic thought of was the sink BACK INSIDE THE HOUSE.

I ran back into the kitchen, holding the flaming pan of oil, being careful not to spill it. I looked at the kitchen sink. It was full of dishes. No good. So my mind went to the next logical water source – the bathroom sink.

I panic-walked into the bathroom (which thankfully was adjacent to the kitchen), threw the pan full of fire and terror super-heated vegetable oil into the sink and turned the water on FULL BLAST.

Now, some of you who are fire safety experts are probably WAAAAAY ahead of me at this point. But for those who aren’t, the absolute LAST thing you want to put on a grease/oil fire is water. It splashes the oil everywhere and can be VERY DANGEROUS. However, twelve-year-old logic had no knowledge of this and could only scream “PUT IT OUT! PUT IT OOOOOOOUT!!!”

When the water hit the pan, it basically exploded upward in a huge FOOOOOOOOM! The flames ran up the corner of the bathroom wall, hit the ceiling and (thankfully) went out. It singed my eyelashes and my hairline, somehow missing my eyebrows entirely (still can’t quite explain that). It also left black soot marks all the way up the laminate wall around the bathroom mirror.


Just like this.

As I stood in the bathroom, the kitchen filled with smoke, in complete shock that I hadn’t burned the ENTIRE house down, the smoke alarm started going off. And approximately 10 seconds later, my Dad walked into the house from next door.

“WHAT THE…??!”

There I stood, singed, reeking of smoke and sobbing, in the midst of complete failure and narrowly-averted disaster. After hearing what happened, Dad helped me clean up before Mom got home and flipped her lid. I think I finally re-earned the privilege of using the stove unsupervised when I was 16.

I don’t even remember what I ended up taking to school for my Spanish project.

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Look into my eyes… the Optical Illusion is a Lie!

THIS may have been a real optical illusion at one point somewhere in the past, but in the retelling (and JPEG/PNG recopying) it ain’t no mo’.

The blue and green swirls “illusion” is misleading and the implication that there isn’t any blue in the picture is just plain out wrong.  Yes, the center of each stripe is the same light green color: RGB( 0, 255, 150).

The reason the blue swirls look like blue swirls is not only because there is some psychological trick of the brain.  IT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE BORDERED BY ACTUAL BLUE PIXELS.   The reason the green one looks green is BECAUSE IT’S BORDERED BY DARKER GREEN PIXELS.  Here’s an extreme closeup of the ORIGINAL graphic illusion.

And here’s a closeup of the center of the image originally posted on G+ where (because it was re-sized before the post), the blue and green borders have gotten extremely exaggerated).

I mean… for the smaller part of the swirl, the pixels are almost completely blue or completely dark green!  Are you kidding me?!  Come on Internet!  You can do better than this!

Despite this, the original concept is sound.  With straight lines, the real optical illusion effect seems to hold up or at least be unsullied by pixelation.  You can see a more accurate example of the illusion here.  Why no one is sharing this version around the interwebs, I can’t say.

The constant repeatingreblogging and resizing to pass on this “WONDER OF SCIENCE” (waves hands appropriately) has turned it into something that smacks of inaccuracy rather than the really cool optical illusion it should be.  The dude who originally made this famouser was the guy from Bad Astronomy. The second example on his post is MUCH more accurate pixel-wise than the original swirl. However, even if you resize the more accurate second image, it pixelates and your monitor will actually add blue pixels to the image. (Try hitting your Control and minus/hyphen key and see!)

::throws hands up::

So, to conclude, this color illusion does work! However, the “green swirl” image being shared around really does have blue in it.

If you’re interested in more color illusions, this is a good site that explains how they’re created.

TGNP: Campaigning for Internet Accuracy

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Insert TARDIS Noise Here

Wednesday night, I got to take photos with the TARDIS!


Note my “You Are Here” galaxy t-shirt and Van Gogh Starry Night socks! And Converse, of course.

My buddy Alan Smith and I both saw a post on Facebook saying there was going to be a full-size TARDIS at the Jacksonville ArtWalk this past Wednesday night and Alan offered to bring his photography gear to take some photos!


I’m ready to travel!

Abby Waldhauer of Jacksonville, FL built her very own TARDIS for a high school project and sets it up at events around Jacksonville. Her friends dress up as characters from Doctor Who (including the 10th Doctor, Rose and Mickey) and have a bunch of props including psychic paper, sonic screwdrivers, the Fake Doctor’s “sonic” screwdriver, etc. They let people take photos with the TARDIS and/or the teens in costume and only ask for donations to Abby’s college fund.


“Umm…where/when are we?”


Alan playing Time Lord


TWO sonic screwdrivers?


Wait…that doesn’t look very “sonic”!

It was a lot of fun to see people gawking at Alan’s setup. He brought a light umbrella, stand, tripod…the works! As if the TARDIS itself weren’t attracting TONS of attention, you really couldn’t miss the photo-shoot setup.

One of my favorite moments was when a couple walked up with their kid and the Dad just stared open-mouthed at the life-size TARDIS. His wife was giggling at him as he managed to stutter “Umm…you…you have a TARDIS!” The best part was he just happened to be wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt.


These are three of Abby’s friends who dressed up as the 10th Doctor, Rose Tyler and Mickey Smith (L to R). PSYCHIC PAPER!

If you’re interested in finding out how to get the TARDIS to show up at your place, check out the Facebook page for details!


Light test shot!

All photos by Alan W. Smith http://alanwsmith.com/

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There are few things as satisfying as popping bubble wrap.

bubble wrap

“Oh yeah. That’s the stuff!”

Sometimes you just need to sit for a few hours minutes and pop tiny plastic bubbles between your fingers. Other times you need to take a whole sheet and twist it REALLY HARD so hundreds of bubbles all pop in succession, like a rapid fire pellet gun.


That’s fine. Everyone has their preference. My preferred method is to pop them one at a time, between my fingers, bobbing and weaving between each bubble. There’s a very good reason for this, that just occurred to me. It’s the same reason that bubble wrap simulators are nice but don’t really satisfy that popping desire.

It’s because not every bubble is poppable.

[I tried to find an image of a person with a sad face holding some bubble wrap but THERE AREN’T ANY!]

Sometimes you come across a bad one. A dud. It’s already popped somehow before you got to it. Maybe the edge didn’t seal completely at the bubble wrap manufacturing facility. Maybe it got snagged on something during packing. Maybe the delivery driver sat on your package before you received it. Who knows? But that small variable of uncertainty, that chance that the next bubble you encounter could be flat, makes the poppable bubbles so much more satisfying.

So as I sit here glancing longingly at the piece of bubble wrap I had to lay down long enough to write out this post, I encourage you to find your own piece of bubble wrap and pop EVERY SINGLE BUBBLE. Apply deeper meaning to each bubble if you want. Pretend the bubbles represent all your cares, worries, stresses and disappointments. Or you could pretend each bubble contains a tiny bit of “happy” that needs to be set free.

Or just pretend each bubble is your boss/family member/ex-girlfriend’s face.




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Shirt of the Now – Friday 7/13/2012

Unicorn Tetherball


Today’s Shirt of the Now is brought to you by Dave Stone, who bought it for me for my birthday. Thanks Dave!

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The Profile Pic Experiment

I love Google+.

I love the open forum, the ability to circle people and not be overly concerned if they don’t circle me back. However, that dynamic lends itself to some annoyances. Namely: The Comment Troll.

I’ve always thought it would be interesting to be bilingual and thanks to the internet, I’m learning to speak fluent “Internet Troll”.

“heres your super cute kisses.”

“helo u r lips calling me show u feet pls rply ok?”


The leading theory is that these trolls are attracted to profile pictures of women (since men don’t get nearly as many of these types of comments). Therefore, I’ve devised an experiment.

I’m going to change my profile picture on Google+ to a photo that, in theory, won’t attract as many creepy flirt comments as a picture of my woman-face. I’ve chosen this one.

Mah Nose

My actual nose.

I’m going to leave all my current photos in my albums. The experiment is to see if the horribly misspelled flirty comments quit. Then again, I may attract a niche nose-fetish group that could be potentially worse.

We shall see!

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I may never shut up about this.

Who has two thumbs and the site with the #1 Google search result for “Powershell AuthorizationManager check failed” and “AuthorizationManager check failed”?



Whose website is not only #1 in Google search results for those searches but also comes in ahead of social.technet.microsoft.com in the results??



I also rank #6 in Bing’s search results for Powershell AuthorizationManager check failed, still ahead of technet.


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Shirt of the Now – Friday, 6/15/2012

Doctor's Eleven

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Why I Don’t Mind the New Geek Pop-Culture Phenomenon

Joe Peacock is a friend of mine, fellow geek, writer and internetter. I suppose you could call it a “friendship”, though it mostly involves the two of us hurling comedic insults at each other via GChat and Facebook. (Jerkface!)

Today I was linked to a post he wrote for the GeekOut Blog on CNN. His take on the current popular geek culture really struck a chord with me and brought me out of the non-writing funk I’ve been mired in lately.

It seems as if there’s a lot of grumbling and bitterness online over the mainstream acceptance of all the fun awesome things that were once considered “geeky” in the derogatory sense. I’m only 30 and even I had to mentally work to get over the notion that comics, D&D, role playing, video games, etc were “not cool”. Many of the “real geeks” who put up with bullying, teasing (or worse) turn up their noses at the “cool people” wearing Green Lantern t-shirts or the “gamer girls” who have been coming out of the woodwork the last few years.

I’m what I would call a “late bloomer geek”. I’ve always had the tendency to be instantly passionate about things that caught my interest. My initial internal reaction to things that really catch my attention is to “SQUEEEEEEEEEE”, jump up and down, talk a mile a minute and want to devour EVERY IOTA of information about whatever it is that I’ve immediately fallen in love with. However, I learned early on that my overwhelming enthusiasm, no matter what it was for, was usually met with that all-too-familiar expression of “…really?”. You know, the expression where one eyebrow dips low while the rest of the face remains stoic? It’s the reaction that says “Wow, umm settle down. Seriously?”



The problem with that is things CAN be that great. I LOVE RPG video games, fantasy novels, D&D, dragons, unicorns, magic, science, astronomy, technology and hundreds of other things. But being a shy, insecure person up until about 10 years ago, I was conditioned very early on to not appear too excited about things because it was “weird”. I internalized a lot of my enthusiasm and would only indulge in it privately. I would look longingly at comic book stores and gaming shops but never go in. It was like some bizarre purgatory where I WANTED to get excited, ask questions and learn everything I could about geeky stuff, but was afraid of being picked on, teased, or (worse) condescended to by the geeks themselves because I didn’t already know.

Comic Book Store

"We don't sell pom-poms here."

I didn’t have the personality to be able to be weird like I wanted to because I was terrified of being criticized, teased and not being accepted, even by people who weren’t being accepted themselves!

When I moved out on my own at 19, I met a group of friends who got me into D&D. I was probably the most enthusiastic player they’d had in years. I wanted to know everything. I borrowed Player’s Handbooks so I could study up and make sure I didn’t say anything stupid. I remember being taken to a hole-in-the-wall gaming shop and buying my first set of dice. (They were crystal red.) I had a Half-Elf Monk once that eventually got such ridiculous stats she had to retire to a monastery. (Best. Character. EVAR!)

This was the same time I started working for AOL and really got online. The internet allowed me to research things and take subjects as far as my brain desired. Suddenly, I could research any topic I wanted and not have to worry about asking someone who might roll their eyes at me and burst my bubble. (My bubbles burst easier than they should. I’m working on it.)

For me, the current popular acceptance of all these geeky things and the shift of the term “geek” from derogatory to complimentary have both given me the opportunity (and the overwhelming amounts of available awesome stuff) to finally indulge my natural enthusiasm for subjects, whatever they may be. I’ve geeked out over Synesthesia and Meyer’s Briggs Personality Types most recently. I love Dr. Who, even though most of my IRL friends don’t watch it. And I have people around me who don’t mind my enthusiasm for things, and who even enjoy listening to me to go on and on about whatever subject has currently caught my interest.

This current popularity will wane eventually and some new sub-culture will be the next “in” thing. But right now, it’s a good time to be a geek.

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Shirt of the Now – Friday 5/25/2012

Frat Guevara

Frat Guevara T-Shirt!

Available here or here!

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