Calvinball vs Clintonball

In a race where Clinton has no chance of winning according to the pre-determined rules of the game (the candidate with the most delegates wins), the only way to win is by changing the rules and turning the game into Clintonball.


Calvinball Clintonball
Any player may declare a new rule at any point in the game. The player may do this audibly or silently depending on what zone the player is in. Any player (Clinton or her surrogates) may declare a new rule or change the rules at any point in the game. The player does this quite vocally to anyone within earshot.
A player may use the Calvinball in any way the player see fit, from causal injury to self-reward. A player may use results and statistics in any way the player sees fit, without regard for logic or common sense.
Any penalty legislation may be in the form of pain, embarassment, or any other abasement the rulee deems fit to impose on his opponent. “Kitchen sink rules,” without regard for collateral to her opponent or the party.
The Calvinball Field should consist of areas, or zones, which are governed by a set of rules declared spontaneously and inconsistently by players. Zones may be appear and disappear as often and wherever the player decides. The Clintonball Field should consiste of states, regions, or zones which are governed by a set of rules declared spontaneously and inconsistently, for example “only big states count” or “delegates don’t count, only popular vote” or when that doesn’t work only some vague “electability” counts. Other rules include “primaries count but caucuses don’t,” “only the right states count” (whatever those are), “small towns count, not big cities” (since those are elitist), “states with more electoral votes count” (despite the fact that any Democrat would win them).
Flags shall be named by players who shall also assign the power and rules which shall govern that flag for particular moment in that particular game. Different rules apply to different states, so states neighboring a candidate’s state don’t count. Also states don’t count if they’re too white or too black.
Flags shall be named by players whom shall also assign the power and rules which shall govern that flag for particular moment in that particular game. Players who haven’t shot a gun since they were 8, and who have lobbied all their lives for gun control, can pretend they’re all for guns and hunting. Beer drinking and bar shots are also encouraged if the camera is rolling.
Score may be kept or disregarded. In the event that score is kept, it shall have no bearing on the game nor shall it have any logical consistency to it. Rules agreed on in advance may be disregarded or even challenged in mid-game if they’re not favorable to the player (see “Florida,” “Michigan” and “delegate count”).
Any rule above that is carried out during the course of the game may never be used again in the event that it causes the same result as a previous game. Calvinball games may never be played the same way twice. Any rule above that is carried out during the course of the game may never be used again in the event that it advantages the opponent. Clintonball games may never be played the same way twice.


Back in January I brewed another batch of Chimay-clone Belgian with the help of Tim. As the brewing progressed, however, it turned out I was brewing something completely different.

The first clue was while Tim was reading the ingredients out loud. When he said “one ounce black patent malt” my head jerked up as I distinctly remembered carefully measuring out one pound of the stuff while I chatted with Matt at Vermont Homebrew Supply. Normally an ounce of the stuff helps give the Belgian it’s distinctive golden color, but a whole pound is enough to make it stout-black, and give it an astringent bite. Sure enough, the liquid that came out of the grains was completely opaque, and looked very much like a stout.

The second clue was when I was starting the boil, and getting the hops together so it could be added add the right times. I remembered picking Hallertau and Goldings out of VHS’s cooler, but instead of those hops I found I had a bunch of Czech Saaz. This truly was becoming a Franken-ale. After doing a little research it turns out the Saaz isn’t too far off from the other hops, and is even used in some Belgian ales.

So now it’s 2-1/2 months later, and it’s time to start thinking about bottling my little Franken-brew. Since the keg was free I decided to use it, and a half hour later it had enough CO2 in it to taste-test. It poured out dark, like a stout. I closed my eyes to taste it, fearing the worst. It was surprisingly drinkable, the lightness and mouth feel of a Belgian, but dark as night. I’m thinking that it’s enough of a Belgian to improve with age, and even an hour later my second glass has lost most of the back of the tongue bite that was in the first tentative sips.

The label, of course, pretty much made itself:

"Yes We Can" music video

Inspired by Obama’s speech in New Hampshire, (of the Black Eyed Peas) put together this amazing song and video: “”:

“We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”

Powerful stuff. Check it out.

The Amazing Tortilla Press

We had a great time with Julie’s friend Captain Danny when he came to visit us at Thanksgiving. He was only here a few days, but we shared stories and jokes over many a pint of homebrew, and he even fixed Julie’s broken iBook. I also made a few batches of tortillas, using the wooden tortilla press Kate borrowed from Roque’s, and every time I used it I complained that I’d have to give it back soon, as they were asking for it back. Dan assured me it would be easy to make one of my own, I just needed to get the wood and some bits of hardware to hold it all together. I added it to my “someday/maybe” list, where it joined so many other unfinished projects, and a couple weeks ago Kate brought the press back to Roque’s.

A few days ago we got an unexpected package from Danny, and inside we found a beautiful tortilla press he had made, fashioned of dark wood and polished brass, routed details on the sides and big brass hinges and fasteners. It truly is a work of art and craftsmanship, and looks like it would be right at home on a 19th century sailing ship. I can only imagine how many hours went into this beauty!

It makes perfect tortillas, of course, and is truly a pleasure to use. I look forward to making many, many tortillas with it.

Thanks so much, Captain Danny, and please come back to see us soon, and enjoy homemade tortillas in huevos rancheros and enchilada suizas!

  • tortilla press
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  • tortilla press

Getting Back Into Brewing

A month ago I brewed a batch of Belgian ale, a clone of Chimay Tripel. I agree with Tim, who says that the Chimay is one of the best beers ever, and since I hadn’t made a Belgian in a couple years it was time. I only bottled it last week, and even tho Belgians need 3-6 months to age I was curious and popped open a bottle today. It has a gorgeous light amber color with a nice head, and a wonderful sweet taste that’s light on the tongue. It’s still young, and the sweetness has a candy-like character since it hasn’t had much chance to develop any complexity. This is gonna be a good one in a few months! This batch was brewed to be Christmas presents, hope folks enjoy it.

There are only a few more pints of the American Amber left in the keg, but luckily I’ve got another batch that should be ready to keg on Monday. Since discovering “Switchback”:, a locally brewed amber that’s to die for, I’ve been on a quest to make my own version of that fine ale and now that I’ve gotten used to having it around that means I need to brew another batch every few weeks. It’s a burden I happily bear 😉

*UPDATE 12/20*
The Belgian is now officially labelled as _Ninja Dave’s Nunchuk Belgian_, using a fine photo Julie took of me in ninja headgear (aka black sweatshirt, from a video found on YouTube). This is a limited run of six 24oz bottles, so getting one is a rare treat indeed. Luckily there are another six half-gallon growlers of the Belgian (unlabelled), plus that keg of Amber, so there’s no shortage of beer to go around.

Mac OS 10.5: Leopard

I’m really liking the new Mac OS after using it for three days now. Improvements include: the transparent menu bar, the Finder’s Quick Look and Cover Flow, Safari’s improvements, enhanced Spotlight, Spaces, and even the moving backgrounds in iChat and Photo Booth. It’s not noticeably faster or slower than the previous OS (10.4/Tiger).

With a file selected, hitting the space bar now opens up a Quick Look window that displays a preview of that file. Many file types are supported, including text files, JPEG and GIF images, PDF documents, and of course Apple’s Numbers and Pages documents. Since Quick Look opens instantly, this is far faster than opening a document in the application. The Finder’s new Cover Flow view, like its iTunes equivalent, makes it easy to flip thru a folder of files and locate a particular file “by look”. This is amazingly like opening a real life folder and looking for a page by look. Cover Flow is very fast, and altho you can get a little ahead of it when viewing a folder with hundreds of files it only takes a second for it to catch up with you.

Apple’s system-wide search tool is noticeably faster now, and includes some handy additions. The biggest new feature for me is the inclusion of recent web pages in the search. So many times in the past I’ve needed to go back to a web page I had seen a few days earlier. After a bit of googling (sometimes a lot) I’ve usually found the page again, altho not always. Spotlight now indexes all the words on the web pages you view, so they conveniently show up in its search results. Very nice. Spotlight also knows math now, so you can type 468/9 in its search box, and the top result shows “Calculator: 468/9 = 52” (you can even click on that line to open the Calculator).

They say that time is Nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. In a similar way, virtual desktops are a geeky way of keeping all your open windows and applications from being open on the same screen. So on my “main” desktop I have Safari and TextMate open, while on another desktop I have a couple Terminal windows open along with my FTP program. Switching between them is as simple as hitting control/right-arrow and control/left-arrow. I’ve been using different virtual desktop programs for the past few years, most recently the wonderful VirtueDesktop, and have gotten pretty -addicted- dependent on them. Leopard includes a built-in virtual desktop, called Spaces, which is pretty well done. I like how F8 now brings up an Exposé-like screen that shows all my virtual desktops, er, spaces, and that I can drag windows from space to another or even drag spaces around to swap them. I do miss being able to name my spaces (they used to be called Here, There, Everywhere, GTD and XP), and how those names would appear in the bottom right corner of the desktop so I could always tell where I was. Spaces numbers its desktops, and displays that number in the menu bar so you know where you are, but it’s not the same. There’s also a quirk with auxiliary windows like the Find dialog, which can pop up on the wrong space if you’ve moved windows around (this is a quirk that other virtual desktop programs didn’t have). I’m hoping Apple addresses that bug in a 10.5.1 update before too long.

*Other Stuff*
Safari tabs can now be dragged around to rearrange them, or even dragged out to become a new window. Searching on a page is so much easier now, and matches jump out (literally). You can turn a section of any web page into a widget that self-updates, so it’s easy to make your own weather widget, or keep an eye on the latest Digg headline. Downloads now go into their own folder instead of cluttering up the Desktop, and it’s easy to get to them using the new Downloads folder in the Dock. iChat and Photo Booth are improved and now support effects and animated backgrounds so it looks like you’re at Yosemite, or on a beach or a roller coaster. People have already started creating their own effects, yesterday I downloaded one from Mac Rumors that makes you appear as a ghost (do a Google search for _hologit_ to find it). PHP5, Ruby and Rails are installed by default, making web development that much easier.

As with any upgrade to the operating system, not all software is compatible, at least not immediately. Altho most of my programs are working just fine on Leopard, a few key programs are not, and I miss them. iKey -isn’t working- works just fine, it just needed to be reinstalled!_ And the Saft enhancement for Safari -no longer works- has now been updated to work under Leopard, and I can once again use shortcuts like _be_ to edit my blog entries, and _wiki leopard_ to lookup “leopard” on wikipedia or even _mu saft_ to search for “saft” on My remaining incompatibilities are minor (SlimBatteryMonitor, for instance).

*Perl and MySQL*
From a web developer’s point of view, it’s strange that Apple installs PHP5 but not MySQL. And their support of Perl is pretty lacking, altho they do include version 5.8.8. I’ve installed MySQL and got it working with PHP, but I still haven’t gotten it working with Perl so web development for most of my sites is severely hampered at the moment. Still, I’m hoping some alphageek figures out how to get DBD::mysql installed and working, and I’ll be a happy camper.

*_Update 10:25am_*
Aha! The trick to getting perl talking to MySQL is to install older modules rather than the latest. The magic modules are DBI::Mysql 1.47 and DBD::Mysql 2.9006. Woohoo! 🙂

Fall Bike Ride

The foliage has been spectacular for the past week, and it’s been pretty warm as well. Today it’s a little cooler, in the high 50s, and perfect weather to bike to the reservoir and back. Kate and Matt are off watching the Patriots game downtown, Calvin’s off to Doogie’s for a band practice, and Rob’s off taking fall foliage shots (to be posted, stay tuned). The ride was slow in spots, but I made it there without having to stop, but not to say without a fair bit of huffing and puffing in spots. A lot of other people decided to go to the reservoir as well, but I saw only one other person who had biked there. Woot!

Found where Robin had parked her car and sat underneath a small apple tree closeby, taking a well deserved break and just chilling out for a while. She came back just as I was getting ready to leave, but we took time for a long leisurely hug before we heading back home, she on her steed, me on mine.

Schooner Stephen Taber

Robin and I just got back from a four day wine tasting cruise on the Stephen Taber, an 18th century schooner out of Rockland, Maine. It was great being back on the Taber again with Captain Noah and his top-notch crew; last fall I sailed on the Taber with Julie and loved it so much I vowed then and there to come back with Robin for their wine cruise.

The evening before we headed out we got to spend a little time with Julie in the galley of the J&E Riggin where she works as galley hand and deck hand. It was great to see Jules in her element, and only wish we could have had more time together. We’ll just have to go back to see her soon 😉

Each day on the Taber started with hot coffee on deck, with breakfast served at 8:30. Hannah treated us to hearty breakfasts of French Toast, eggs and sausage, grits, and even some delicious scones.

After breakfast, we would raise sails and anchor, and Captain Noah would take us to someplace new. Since there are 4,000 islands or so off the Rockland coast, there is no shortage of destinations! One day we sailed to Deer Isle where we walked around in the town of Stonington (famous for its granite quarries) and shopped for gifts. Another day we explored the lighthouse at Owl’s Head, a small town south of Rockland. There were lots of sights and sounds, from beautiful island homes to various lighthouses, islands (inhabited and not), other schooners, seals sunning themselves on warm rocks, and even a few porpoises!

Every evening we dropped anchor in a different harbor, and Jane led the wine tasting. Each night she introduced us to different selection of wines, starting with some that were light and sparkling, followed by some tasty whites (my favorite), and finishing with to some delicious, mouth-filling reds. One night she ended with a port and a madeira to round things out.

Noah and Jane compare notes during the wine tasting

After the wine tasting Hannah served up dinner on deck. On the night Jane served wines from Italy we had osso buco; another night we had a classic Maine lobster bake.

Thee food on the Taber is first rate. Cook Hannah, assisted by Cara and Sarah, all worked tirelessly in the galley preparing one tasty meal after another. Amazingly enough, all cooking is done on an old fashioned wood stove.

The weather was exceptionally fine, adding to the perfect sail. First Mate Phil let me help out with the jibs when the ship came about, and showed us how to do a “long splice,” where he seamlessly joined two shorter lines into longer one. Deck hands Super Dave and the sprite-like Sarah had brass-polishing competitions in between hoisting sails and anchors and keeping things running smoothly. The amazing Cara (a dear friend of Julie’s) helped Hannah in the galley, where they churned out one delicious meal after another. These kids did an amazing job, and it was inspiring to watch them and learn from them.

Our fellow passengers were delightful, a fun-loving bunch that enjoyed wine, fine food, and sailing just as much as we did. We bonded over stories and laughter, food and wine, and the incredible shared experience of sailing on the beautiful ship that is the Taber.

Each evening, after the wine tasting and dinner, the captain and crew brought out their instruments and entertained us with a wide variety of music, from the captain’s blues and Phil’s touching rendition of the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” to Cara and Sarah’s “Amazing Grace” duet, and Cara’s playing Swedish and Norwegian folk songs on her fiddle. The perfect ending to each perfect day.

The hospitality of the captain and crew really made us feel welcome and pampered, and their skill and professionalism made us feel safe and at home.

Staying on top of Changes with Mercurial

If there’s one constant in software development, it’s change. Little changes here and there, and the occasional big change happen all the time.

Web development is the same, and arguably even more so. Freed from the need to package everything up and ship it in a numbered release, it’s all to easy to fix a single small bug and immediately make it live on the site. Or change a single word on one page, and make that live.

If you have more than one person working on a project (web or otherwise), keeping everyone’s changes in sync can be a chore. Back in the day when Jared and I were working on Redux together it was a simple matter for one of us to “claim” a chunk of the source code for an hour (or a day), telling the other to keep their hands off it.

Nowadays there is an entire genre of Source Code Management programs that keep track of everyone’s changes with a minimum of fuss. In addition they document changes, keep track of different revisions, know what files were changed when and by who (and why). They eliminate the possibility of one person stepping on another’s code (and wiping out their changes), and should a change go completely astray, they even let you revert to any earlier (working) version.

After looking at a few different SCM programs, I settled on Mercurial, which seemed the best fit for my working style. It’s lightweight, and installs easily on Mac OSX as well as the various Unix servers that host my web sites. You control Mercurial from the command line, using the new hg command it installs (from the chemical symbol for mercury: Hg).

After installing Mercurial, the first step was to pick one of my websites and tell Mercurial which files I want to keep track of for the site. I then made a snapshot of those files, or as Mercurial refers to it, a “changeset”. It asked me to include a brief comment with the changeset to describe it; for the first changeset a comment like “added key site files” worked just fine.

Now I make changes as usual, and Mercurial keeps track of what changed. I frequently commit a set of changes to a new changeset, along with a brief note describing the change. At any point if I don’t remember what I’ve changed a simple hg diff command will tell me not only which files changed, but which lines in those files changed (both old and current versions).

What’s very cool is that I can keep a local copy of the website on my MacBook, make changes locally and testing them, and when I’m satisfied that the changes are ready to go live I can send those changes to the website with a simple command: hg push.

Once the changes have been pushed to the site, I can make them live at my leisure; a simple hg update command instantly makes the changes live. No more fussing with uploading changes with ftp, messing with renaming files or worrying about copying files to the wrong directory.

Mercurial is easy to install, easy to learn, and easy to use. It makes it easy to keep track of changes, and to migrate those changes to different developers (or different locations, like live web sites). I’ve only scratched the surface of what it can do, but even after just a few days it’s already made my life easier.