Saturday, March 06, 2010

Two-Letter Words

I’ve been playing a lot of Words With Friends lately. It’s addictive.

One of the essential elements of getting good at Scrabble (or Words With Friends) is knowing your two-letter words. They may not be worth much on their own, but they enable you to make parallel words, which can really rack up the score. Much has been said about the strategy of Scrabble, so I won’t repeat it all here.

What I do have to offer is a nerdy way of visualizing the two-letter words. Most two-letter word lists just list the words. I was curious about the spatial distribution within the alphabet, including all of the vacancies where two letter words do not exist.  So I made this grid. 

Two-Letter Words in Words With Friends 

If you want to find me in Words With Friends, my username is sagek.

The words FE KI and OI are in the OSPD4 but not acceptable in Words with Friends. 

This table was made in Microsoft Office Excel. Special thanks to the CONCATENATE formula and Conditional Formatting.

My sources were this post about Words With Friends on OSXReality and this page on 2-letter Words by Steve Trussel.

A Line at the Men’s Room

Yesterday, I encountered a line at the men’s restroom. Role reversal. I am under the impression that no one is really surprised when there is a line at the women’s room. Frustrated, yes, but not surprised. As observant people we can notice the patterns that lead to bathroom lines. 

I was in a conference center for an event that has an attendance of about 85% men. If you look historically at attendance of conferences in this building, which is on the campus of a high-tech corporation, I bet you would find a consistently unbalanced male/female ratio. So we have a fact-of-life and a non-optimized resource distribution. Was this avoidable?

Our former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld once stated, "As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."

So should you build infrastructure for the demographics you have, or the demographics you might want or wish to have at a later time? And to what extent should you accept inefficiency when the alternative could be considered discrimination?  

In a related note, did you know that the pentagon was built with twice as many bathrooms as was really necessary?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home Made Star Crunch

Home Made Star CrunchLittle Debbie Star Crunch are quite possibly my favorite junk food from childhood. 

Last week, I went for home made.  I found two recipes online, both of which looked close, but not quite right in the soft-but-chewy caramel department.

Here’s my recipe.  Yield 12-16, depending on size.

  • 1/2 bag caramels, unwrapped
  • 1/2 bag marshmallows (about 12)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Milk or water, as needed
  • Rice Krispies (enough, maybe 1/4 box)
  1. Melt camels and 1 tablespoon butter in a double boiler until you can stir them with a spatula.  Add vanilla and salt.
  2. Add marshmallows to caramel mixture, and allow to melt.  Fold gently with spatula to maintain fluffiness.
  3. Fold in as many Rice Krispies as the caramel-marshmallow mixture can adequately coat.  Remove from heat.
  4. Spray your hands with Pam and prepare yourself to ignore the pain of handling something hot.  Working quickly, form the mixture into little pucks, and place on wax paper to set. 
  5. Melt the chocolate chips and remaining butter in the double boiler until it is thin enough to coat a spoon.  Add milk (or water if you happen to be out of milk, like I was) one or two teaspoons at a time if the chocolate is too think.
  6. Using chopsticks, dip the carmel-krispie centers into the chocolate one-at-a-time.  Set on wax paper elevated on a cooling rack.  Cool until chocolate is firm.

I like to eat them slightly cooler than room temperature, kind of like if they spent the morning in your lunch box next to an ice pack.  This effect can be simulated by refrigerating the Star Crunch, then pulling them out 20-30 minutes before you want to eat one.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Northwest Passage

My home improvement project today was to create a passageway from my living room to my office, through which audio/video cables can span the two rooms.

The vast majority of my music and movies live on my computer.  Hulu, streaming Netflix, Zune, even my record player – the signal begins in my office, and can be played back on through the receiver and speakers in either room.

Before, the wires had to go ‘round the cape.  This was messy.

Rounding the Cape    Floorplan - Before

The new route goes straight west through the wall.Clean and Neat   

Total project cost was $3.52 for two GFCI faceplates, four wood screws, and one square of flexible cork.  Yellow paint was leftover

Cables   Cork Flap

Thanks to John at my neighborhood hardware store, Pacific Supply for listening to my plan and offering advice on the construction.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Physics Poems

Today I proposed an assignment to a friend who is a physics teacher: "For extra credit, write a poem or song about your favorite linear motion constant, vector or equation, and present it to the class."
My entries...
"80 in a 60" 
Last night the officer gave to me
A ticket for velocity
Despite my lame apology
Too much dx over dt

"How high?" 
My momma told me "just say no"
But I gots to get me high to flow
How high it goes, y'aIl gots to know
Get yo' VV up on tha double g, yo