Uncut Jewel

Once a year, I take a month off from Caffeine and Alcohol (sometimes I'll throw in something else like high fructose corn syrup). It was fairly arbitrary for a number of years but now, having learned it's kind of a thing, I tend to take my temperance in January. This time around, I've moved things up a few months and am abstaining in October.

Giving up booze, even temporarily, doesn't mean that I want to give up cocktails. Turns out, however, it's really hard to make something without alcohol that doesn't end up tasting like juice or flavored water. Seedlip is meant for this purpose and helps some but tends to fall pretty easily into the juice or flavored water trap.

Through a mix of experimenting, Seedlip recipe ideas, Aviary Cocktail Book inspiration, staring at my liquor shelf, and starting at my fridge, I've had a modicum of success. I seem to have hit on a formula that works well stirred with ice and served Up:

A Non-Alcoholic Up formula

  • 1 oz Seedlip (Spice 94 or Garden 108)
  • 1/2 oz Verjus Blanc (Fusion Napa Valley)
  • 1/2 oz Verjus Rouge (Fusion Napa Valley)
  • 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 oz Syrup (Simple, Demerara, etc.)
  • 1-2 dash(es) bitters

Gomme Syrup and Garden 108 seem to work well together but I think the best that I've hit on so far is what I'm calling an Uncut Jewel:

Uncut Jewel and its ingredients

Uncut Jewel recipe

  • 1 oz Seedlip Spice 94
  • 1/2 oz Verjus Blanc (Fusion Napa Valley)
  • 1/2 oz Verjus Rouge (Fusion Napa Valley)
  • 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 oz Maple Syrup (Grade A Amber Color, Rich Taste)
  • 1 dash Salted Cacao Bitters (Workhorse Rye + Dandelion Chocolate)

Stir with ice, serve up, and garnish with a Maraschino cherry.


The drink leads with a note of allspice before taking on dominant notes of fruit and nuts and finally closes with a hint of cocoa. Overall, it's well balanced, sippable, and fairly complex, without assaulting the palette.

An Arbitrary map from SQL with Go

I've been writing a lot of Go lately and finding it a pleasant balance of simplicity, power, functionality, and ecosystem support. In a lot of cases, I am finding the guarantees afforded by type safety to be really nice but, occasionally, the strict requirements can make some easy things much harder than I want them to be.

Recently, I found myself wanting to test the behavior of some code the hit a SQL database. Specifically, I wanted to check the results of a handful of queries with varied columns and column types. With Python, I'd approach this with SQLAlchemy, and turn the result into a list of dicts.

def rows_to_dicts(rows):
    """Covert a SQLAlchemy RowProxy into a list of dicts."""
    return [dict(r) for r in rows]

From here, it's pretty straightforward to assert the result matches expectations. If you're using pytest, you'll also get really clear details on where the results aren't what you expect. If you don't have the expected columns or column types spot on, you're assertion will be off but you won't hit any underlying errors at this point of your testing.

Go, on the other hand doesn't have quite as easy an option. The crux of the problem is that the only way to get a result row out of a sql query is via (*Rows) Scan, which demands you know something about the structure of the result before you query. Luckily Scan is happy to read anything into a *string as long as you're asking for the right number of values so we can write an equivalent function to the python list comprehension.

import (

func RowsToMaps(rows *sql.Rows) ([]map[string]string, error) {
    columns, err := rows.Columns()
    if err != nil {
        return nil, err
    columnCount := len(columns)

    cursor := make([]interface{}, columnCount)
    for i := 0; i < columnCount; i++ {
        var columnValue string
        cursor[i] = &columnValue

    var resultMaps []map[string]string
    for rows.Next() {
        err := rows.Scan(cursor...)
        if err != nil {
            return resultMaps, err
        rowMap := make(map[string]string, columnCount)
        for i, columnPtr := range cursor {
            key := columns[i]
            var columnStr string
            if columnStrPtr := columnPtr.(*string); columnStrPtr != nil {
                columnStr = *columnStrPtr
            rowMap[key] = columnStr
        resultMaps = append(resultMaps, rowMap)
    if err := rows.Err(); err != nil {
        return resultMaps, err
    return resultMaps, nil

This, much like the Python above, gives us a list of maps of column name to column value, with the minor caveats that all values are strings and NULL values become empty strings. I found it a useful chunk of code, so I thought I'd throw it up.

Sure, it's more verbose but sometimes that's the price we pay for dealing with dynamic results in a staticly typed language. There are other prices paid in the other direction.

Not all rules live forever

At some point in high school, while gallivanting around New England on inexpensive gasoline and end of the day donuts some random guy at Dunkin' Donuts gave us on the cheap, I developed my first set of canonical rules to live by:

  1. When you're chucking a danish, everything's a cop car.
  2. When in doubt, go left.
  3. When in doubt, buy double.

These were born empirically from the demands of the time. A few years later, an addition was made:

  1. Even floors do not exist.

This rule was born from spite and soon after another rule was introduced to provide a loophole:

  1. Apathy is the lazy man's whatever.

Spite and loopholes aren't really good ways to build a morality or worldview so I am retiring rules #4 and #5.

Dredging the past and updating the present

A few months ago, while digging around my gargage, I found an old server of mine. I was looking for a particular bit of old data that I couldn't find on my current computer and thought it might be on this one. It didn't have what I was looking for but it did have a bunch of content from my old blog, going back to 2004.

It was a really old computer that wasn't cared for after I moved stuff to the cloud and the hard drives started failing reads almost as soon as I looked at the thing. However, with some running dd and a lot of finger-crossing, I was able to pull out a backup of the old blog. The backup, annoyingly, was a MySQL dump of a Wordpress page. After trying a handful of text based approaches and a couple of automated approaches, I figured I might as well install MySQL, load the dump into the database and hack together some one-off code to rip things out in a format that I liked.

The data extraction code isn't pretty but it gets the job done:

Read more…

Fortune Cookie: 2018-09-04

Adventure is
worthwhile in itself.
Lucky Numbers 25, 55, 8, 17, 54, 1

Commentary: Many things have intrinsic value; adventure included. Many things have extrinsic value; aphorisms included.


In my ongoing quest to make delicious alcoholic beverages, I have increasingly found myself digging into my ingredients. Syrups, as a class of ingredient, have received a decent amount of my attention. As an aside, if you're buying simple syrup, you are doing a lot of things wrong. In my experience, it is decidedly tricky to find decent grenadine, where decent is defined as being made with real pomegranate and without high fructose corn syrup or food coloring. So, I've started to make my own:


A pomegranate syrup that adds a sweet tartness to drinks and a distinctive red color. Notable in small quantities in a great many drinks and also as the second ingredient in a Shirley Temple, a drink the actress was apparently never fond of.


  • 1 cup fresh Pomegranate Juice (~2 large pomegranates)
  • 1 oz Pomegranate Molasses
  • 1 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1/16 tsp Xanthan Gum (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Orange Blossom Water
  • 1 oz over-proof grain neutral spirit (Everclear or vodka)

Read more…

Bash history synchronization

Bash is my go to shell. I've tried fish; I've heard about zsh; but Bash is my go to.

I really like command history (pressing up arrow or Ctrl+R) and there are a few specific behaviors that I want in my history:

  1. If I have multiple terminals open, I want history shared across them.
  2. If I run the same command multiple times, it should be in my history once.
  3. My history should stick around forever.
  4. The last command, I entered should be the first thing I see when I press up arrow.
  5. Race conditions of long-running commands shouldn't erase history entries.

Turns out all of this is a little tricky with bash, but I've mostly managed it:

Read more…

Slowcooker Yogurt

Some jars of homemade yogurt

I have a 14 month old daughter, a wife that likes yogurt with granola, and I kind of like the stuff too. Needless to say, we go through a lot of yogurt in my house. Specifically, we go through a lot of plain, whole milk, Greek yogurt.

We were recently visiting my wife's aunt and uncle (my daughter's graunt and gruncle), and we had yogurt most mornings. They use an EasiYo to make their yogurt, which piqued my curiosity.

Fancy yogurt is pretty expensive at the store, upwards of $7 or $8 per 32oz container. Yogurt is just fermented milk and I've fermented plenty of things before. I should be able to make yogurt, right?

So, how about EasiYo? Turns out it's not that much cheaper.

We can do better, let's ask the Internet.

Turns out it's pretty straightforward; I just finished our second batch yesterday. It also turns out to be really good, and it's less than $2 per 32oz (milk choice depending).

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Let's Encrypt on App Engine

UPDATE: As of September, 2017, Google App Engine will manage SSL certificates for you.

Let's Encrypt is a fantastically convenient way to get SSL certificates for your website without paying a bunch of money or resorting to a self-signed certificate. It's also pretty easy to set up.

Easy as it is to set up, the instructions don't really explain much about setup for App Engine. It turns out to be pretty straightforward.

Read more…

Internet Time Now script

On account of being mentioned by Reply All, I've been listening to back episodes of [TLDR]. Listening to #15 - Internet Time caught my attention and made me aware of Swatch Internet Time. It's kind of impractical but also kind of fun, especially as I've been a little annoyed at recording times across timezones for something meant to persist, like this blog.

For fun, I whipped up a quick python implementation:

import datetime
import decimal

def decimal_time(ts):
    mus_ts = (ts.hour * 3600 + ts.minute * 60 + ts.second) * 1000000 + ts.microsecond
    mus_day = 24 * 3600 * 1000000
    dec_time = decimal.Decimal(mus_ts) / decimal.Decimal(mus_day)
    return dec_time * 1000

def internet_time_now(precision=0):
    precision = int(max(0, min(25, precision)))
    precision = 0 if precision < 1 else int(precision)
    format_len = 3 if precision < 1 else 4 + precision
    format_str = '@{{:0{l:d}.0{p:d}f}}'.format(l=format_len, p=precision)
    it_utc_p1 = datetime.datetime.utcnow() + datetime.timedelta(hours=1)
    return format_str.format(decimal_time(it_utc_p1))

Or, if you don't care about precision:

import datetime

def decimal_time(ts):
    s_ts = ts.hour * 3600 + ts.minute * 60 + ts.second
    s_day = 24 * 3600
    return int(1000 * s_ts / s_day)

def internet_time_now():
    it_utc_p1 = datetime.datetime.utcnow() + datetime.timedelta(hours=1)
    return '@{:03d}'.format(decimal_time(it_utc_p1))