Monday, December 21, 2009

Sesame Chipotle Salmon

Inspired by Jamie Oliver, I've been baking vegetables and fish this way for the past few years. It takes about 5 minutes of prep, is the antithesis of fussy, and the results are always delicious. Huzzah!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ludie's Pecan Pie

I think my favorite pie is a pecan pie.

When I was a kid there was pecan pie tree in the backyard and we could simply walk outside on a crisp Fall day and pick pecan pies right up off the ground. Most every place I've lived since then has had a tree in the yard. When I moved to Mississippi I bought a pecan pie tree. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a house and a yard came with my tree.

It is about 35 feet high and provides a lot shade in the Summer. I have lived next to my tree for about 6 years, but it has not given me one pecan pie. I am nonplussed. There is such potential - they start out green but then the squirrels chew them up, and they spit them out. Across the street there is a funny little church with about seven acres of pecan pie trees. I am exaggerating, but I would bet you two doughnut holes to a dollar beer prize that there is at least an acre (about 0.4 hectares) of pecan pie trees across the street.

Both of my grandmothers made a terrific pecan pie. Sometimes they would pick them right off the ground and serve them with ice cream (and sometimes with beer when we were older). I like pecan pies served as I like my cheesecakes served; even though cheesecakes do not grow on trees I like them both served plain. If they are naturally warm then I like them like that, but I would probably not put one of them in a microwave, or both of them if there were two plates of pie, or cake, or a combination thereof. If you have a pecan pie tree then you probably know what I mean.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Economic Impact Analysis

Economic impact analysis measures the cumulative effects of how the economy responds to an initial impact, such as a capital-intensive project or a natural disaster. Economic impact analysis is also useful for identifying the contributions of existing economic sectors, such as healthcare or agriculture, to the rest of the economy. Impacts are measured in terms of gross spending, employment and income for a study area, such as an individual county, or a group of counties, or the entire state. Public policy analysts, elected-officials, and regional decision makers often use this information to assess the priority of new projects, to measure the extent of adverse natural and human-induced impacts, and to identify the direction and level of public funding.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

King's Inn Tartar Sauce

I'm not a big fan of tartar sauce. When it comes to seafood, especially fried shrimp, I just prefer a quick squeeze of lemon or lime. A few days ago, my dad sent me this recipe and I started thinking about tartar sauce, which is really just a mixture of mayonnaise with herbs and spices, vegetables, and what-have-you.

This recipe is supposedly from from King's Inn, a restaurant that opened in 1945 on Baffin Bay south of Kingville. It is seriously out of the way, and it's a bit of a South Texas icon now.

Online sources suggest that, "King’s Inn invented [a] really good tartar sauce and Mr. Ware is the only one who knows the recipe." I'm not sure who Mr. Ware is - I guess the owner, and if this is really his recipe, well then the secret is out!

But the recipe is actually pretty vague, which can be a good thing - there is plenty of room for innovation. For example: what kind of salad dressing; what kind of crackers? For a really quality hand-made tartar sauce I'd probably make my own mayo for this too:

King's Inn Tartar Sauce

1-1/2 cups salad dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Minced jalepeƱo, minced to taste.
4 boiled eggs, shredded
Some pimentos
1/4 of 1 stack of crackers, crushed
2 ounces bell pepper, shredded
2 stalks celery, shredded
2 ounces garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Mix all ingredients and chill. Great with fried fish or shrimp. A South Texas favorite.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Boeing 787 and the iPhone 3GS

The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is a superefficient airplane with new passenger-pleasing features. It will bring the economics of large jet transports to the middle of the market, using 20 percent less fuel than any other airplane of its size. The specs for the lower deck of the 787 suggest a capacity of 4400 cubic feet. The iPhone 3GS has a volume of 5.184 cubic inches and a weight of 4.8 ounces (i.e., 27.778 iPhones/cubic foot), thus it is possible for the 787 to carry as many as 122,000 iPhones. Interestingly, the iPhone is less dense than freshly fallen snow, which weighs in at 10 lbs per cubic foot.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tour de France - Predictions After the First Rest Day

General Classification
1st - Alberto Contador
2nd - Lance Armstrong
3rd - Andy Schleck

King of the Mountains
1st - Egoi Martinez
2nd - Franco Pellizotti
3rd - David Moncoutie

Points Classification
1st - Thor Hushovd
2nd - Mark Cavendish
3rd - Oscar Friere

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Evacuation Patterns - Hurricane Katrina

I'm helping colleagues on a project that surveyed residents about their evacuation plans in the face of another large hurricane. Using a combination of PHP and Google Maps, I was able to plot the locations of survey respondents and one of the hypothetical tracks used in the survey. The underlying data is being used to analyze factors that might affect evacuation patterns. One of those factors is a distance-based measure: the distance from landfall, and the distance from the track itself. Preliminary analysis suggests that distance to landfall is a significant factor, yet distance to track is not.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ten Commandments of the Paceline

Riding in a group is a lot of fun, and working together any group can ride consistently faster than a single rider on their own simply because it is more efficient. But only if the riders stays together - and that is why it is called a group ride. IT IS NOT A RACE. Riding in a group as if it were a race is NOT SAFE.

Because of the mixed abilities of riders it is not always possible to keep a group together. Yet, it is a simple courtesy to re-group at appropriate points during the ride, and for stronger riders to pull off and drop back to help gapped riders bridge up on long stretches.

There are many rules of the road that will take time for new riders (whether strong or not) to learn, but the following "10 Commandments of the Paceline" are generally agreed as the basics for proper paceline etiquette:



Thou shalt MAKE NO SUDDEN MOVES, neither by SURGING AHEAD, nor by BRAKING, yea neither left nor right.

Thou shalt LEAD with STEADY TEMPO, neither slowing before nor whilst pulling off, nor ever soft pedaling downhill.

Thou shalt EVER HAVE an ESCAPE route.

Thou shalt WATCH MORE than the wheel in front of thou.


Thou shalt PULL THROUGH, if second wheel.


Thou shalt CONTROL thy EGO.

Thou shalt strive to PULL OFF INTO THE WIND and DRIFT BACK TO THE END of the line.

Thou shalt strive to keep thy followers out of the gutter.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wonderful Rub for Aches & Pains

Someone on my father's side of the family wrote this down. It is a recipe for a home remedy for "aches and pains", most likely for rheumatism, since almost any list of home remedies for rheumatism contains alcohol mixed with mint oils, chloroform, etc. I don't know if this works, but whoever wrote this thought it was a "wonderful rub", and so it must have been:

1 pint of rubbing alcohol
4 ounces wintergreen mint oil
30 Bayer aspirin

Friday, June 19, 2009

There's Not Enough iPhones to Circle the Earth

Piper Jaffray's senior analyst Gene Munster thinks it's going to be a good weekend for Apple as companies in 8 countries roll out the iPhone 3G S today. Yet will it be good enough?

Analysts expect half a million units will be sold today. That's a fine mess of finger-sliding real estate (actually about half an acre of touch screen mess-ness), but hardly enough to have any kind of global impact - at least not in a strictly geospatial sense. How many iPhones has Apple sold? How many iPhones would it take to circle the earth? Clearly these are VERY IMPORTANT questions! Well not really...but wouldn't you like to know?

The first iPhones were sold on June 29, 2007, and 3G sales started a year later on July 11, 2008. Today you can buy a 3G S. According to Aayush Arya (, 03/24/2009), Apple sold 13.7 million units in 2008, for a total of 17 million iPhones. Using data from Wikipedia by March 30, 2009 Apple had sold 21.17 million iPhones.

The iPhone measures 4.5 inches in height by 2.4 inches in width and by 0.48 inches thick, so 21.17 million iPhones, laid end-to-end would measure about 95 million inches, which works out to be 1503 miles. This figure depicts the range, or how far out from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California you could go by laying all these iPhones end-to-end. It's a long way, but it won't reach around the world.

The trend for iPhone sales is positive, so using the data I wanted to find out when there would be enough iPhones to reach all the way around the world. With ZunZun, an online curve fitting resource, I was able to fit this data with a second order polynomial with good results (the model estimated that Apple would have sold a total of 2.7 million iPhones by March 30, compared to 2.2 million that were actually sold). Here's what the fitted curve looks like:

Along the X-axis are the number of days since the the iPhone was launched, and the Y-axis represents the total number of iPhones sold. Here are the estimated parameters for the 2nd order polynomial trend line:

With this information you can work out the estimated total number of iPhones sold at any given time. For example, by June 30, 2009 (the 732nd day since the iPhone launched) the model estimates that Apple will have sold a total of 2.76 million units. My guess is the number will be a little higher because of the hype associated with the 3G-S. Even so, consider that the Earth has a circumference of about 24,902 miles. So we're going to need 350,620,160 iPhones laid end-on-end just to get close. That's a lot of iPhones, right?

The model predicts that by the end of 2019 Apple will have sold more than 342 million iPhones, and the big day comes just a few weeks later. On January 16th, 2019, on the day that Ernest Shackleton discovered the magnetic South Pole, Apple will have sold enough iPhones to circumscribe the globe. In the meantime we'll just have to cool our jets, playing flightcontrol and waiting for the next update.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Visualizing with Wordle

I was playing around with Wordle this evening. "Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes."

What I like about the web site is that one doesn't have to register to add content to the public gallery. Just type in your username when you submit a wordle.

I did five projects right away. The first was Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. This was followd by the abdication speech of King Edward VIII, Richard Nixon's resignation speech, and then two Hello World projects, one for ANSI-C and one in Assembler. By the way, I also created a wordle using the text of this blog post. Nifty, huh?

Monday, June 1, 2009

How many beans are in a pound of coffee

I'm intent on finding out. What got me interested in this was a recent TWIT podcast that highlighted Wolfram Alpha, which aims to "make all systematic knowledge immediately computable...", yet a search for How many coffee beans are in pound of coffee turned up nothing. So does anyone have any idea? My last "pound" of coffee (they sell 12 oz "pounds" at Starbucks) was pre-ground, so I'm going to have to wait until I have beans before I can start my research. I'm guessing that moisture content is important.

In the's some anecdotal evidence from ground coffee to get things started: I measured a coffee scoop (2 TBS) of ground Starbucks Kenya and it weighed 9.5 grams - enough to make two cups of coffee. Now 9.5 grams is 0.335 ounces, and since there are 16 ounces in a pound (yes there are - don't interrupt me, SBUX), then there are 47.761 scoops in one pound. But we're talking Starbucks that would be 35.8 scoops of coffee in a Starbucks "pound" - enough to make almost nine 8-cup pots of coffee.

Friday, May 22, 2009

St. Joseph Peninsula Beach - Winner of 2009 Best Restored Beach

One of the winners of ASBPA's 2009 Best Restored Beaches is St. Joseph Peninsula Beach. This 7.5 mile beach has also been designated one of the pet friendliest beaches in the nation, and the St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, located on Cape San Blas ranked first in America's Top Beaches 2002.

"The St. Joseph Peninsula Beach Restoration Project is located along the western portion of Gulf County, Fla. Over 250,000 people visit St. Joseph Peninsula each year and provide substantial economic benefits to the local economy. A key component of the project’s success was the support of the local community, who donated time and resources to make this project a reality. The project included beach restoration along 7.5 miles of coastline, including areas with critically eroded beaches. The project’s success is based on excellent sand quality and design, resulting in an enhanced recreational beach, increased storm protection and an extended habitat for marine life."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Top Designer

Di Anna Borders is one of my favorite designers because of her versatility. Previously a lead designer at a Fortune 500 company, she coordinated pattern and colors for wall coverings in most of the swankest hotels and resorts, from Texas to Dubai. In fact the background for this page is one of her own design. She is now a freelance artist and modern photo-savant and her photography and print work can be viewed at selected art festivals.

And her photography! Well, let's just say that it embraces the serenity of postmodern naturalism viewed from the perspective of a curious outsider looking ever outward: light and shadows - beauty, tempered with nuanced incomprehensibility. Through this vision she abstracts nature into a new contextualization of light and image.

Click here to visit DiAnna Borders Designs

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Regional Bike Trails in the Deep South

Natchez Trace Parkway (20 miles west of Starkville, MS) is prime cycling for weekend metrics, and loaded touring. Amazingly, the entire length of the Parkway is designated as a bicycle tour route, and although there are no bike lanes, it doesn't really matter - most of the time you have the entire roadway to yourself. When there is traffic it's non-commercial only and 50 MPH. Natchez Trace Parkway

Longleaf Trace (196 miles southeast of Starkville, MS) is a 41 mile paved trail, and the longest rails-to-trails project in the South Central US. It runs from Prentiss to the University of Southern Mississippi campus in Hattiesburg. Longleaf Trace

Chief Ladiga (203 miles east of Starkville, MS) is a 33 mile (22 miles continuous paved) trail that extends from the north side of Anniston, Alabama to the Georgia State Line. There are plans to join it to the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia. The Talladega Mountains form a backdrop for any riding in this area. Chief Ladiga

Silver Comet (282 miles east of Starkville, MS) is a 60 mile (40 miles continuous paved) trail that runs from Smyrna, GA to just northwest of Atlanta. Highlights include crossing the Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle, a 750 foot long, 126 foot high bridge, and passing through the 800 foot Brushy Mountain tunnel. Silver Comet Trail

Tammany Trace (312 miles south of Starkville, MS) is a 31 mile paved trail just north of New Orleans. The highlight of the ride is Abita Springs Brew Pub: handcrafted beer and good southeast Louisiana seafood. Tammany Trace

Thursday, March 5, 2009

2009 Jeff Busby Time Trial - Spring Edition

Jeff Busby Time Trial with Di Anna and Joel. Beautiful weather.

Old Trace: 18:50.16
Little Mountain: 42:43.78
Hwy 415: 53:05.59
Little Mountain: 1:05:04.34
Little Mountain: 1:12:25.46

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 Happy New Rear Ride

2009 Happy New Rear Ride with Mike and Uncle Jimmy. Strong headwinds outbound and functional rest stops. Uncle Jimmy breaks away and turns correctly, leaving Mike and I to complete the longer route. Wonderful tailwinds, then very strong crosswinds for last 9 miles.