Birthday: Not So Great

Well, today was my birthday; I'm 22 now, and I've been sick since sometime last week. I was originally planning on setting up some sort of dinner thing for last Friday but somehow I became completely incapable of sending e-mail to the people I wanted to send e-mail to, which turned out to be for the best because I was getting too sick by Friday evening to have done anything with anyone. I spent the weekend running a moderate fever and lying in bed. The Liz came over and force fed me water and Tylenol while we watched movies and TV shows on my computer. In the end, I spent most of my birthday in bed, watching the BBC show Coupling, dehydrated and with poor body temperature control.

Whatever, I'm 22 now and I've got a bottle full of penicillin, so hopefully I'll be ok in a little while.

Meal fit for Kings (or not)

I have reached a new culinary extreme (new low or new high) with my dinner tonight. Tonight's meal is a can of refried beans (heated) with shredded cheese and a Barq's root beer. One might think it easy to call this a lowly meal but it took me 3 minutes to make, cost less than $2, gave me my RDA of fiber, gave me about 30g of protein and tasted pretty decent.

Ok, I guess a can of refried beans is not a culinary anything, it's more of a hobo food. However, on my continued bachelor chow search, it's a pretty decent component option.

Inorganic Polymers

I've been looking into inorganic polymers a little and intend to write about them for my Polymer Physics final paper. They turn out to be rather interesting and have all sort of interesting backbones like silicon, germanium, tin (a metal), phosphorous-nitrogen, and others.

The Si and Sn backboned polymers are the most interesting to me, having interesting conductive and physical properties. As an example, polydimethylsilane (silicon backone with two methyl groups off each silicon) is a crystalline polymer that is insoluble in everything and does not melt (but does decompose at 250°C). All in all, very curious materials that I will be looking into.

Not Actually Value Meals

I went to McDonald's with Max earlier today and we made a very interesting observation: Value Meals are not the most cost efficient way to get food. Purchasing a double cheeseburger with large fries and large drink was $0.89 cheaper than purchasing a regular Big and Tasty meal (the cheapest of the value meals). I could have purchased a second double cheeseburger and still had it be much cheaper than any large value meal. I am also reminded of my recent meal at the Ashland, NH Burger King where Sam got three Rodeo Burgers, fries and a drink for less than my double bacon cheeseburger meal.

Henceforth, I shall no longer assume that a value meal is the cheapest way for me to get what I want. It's kind of sad because I can remember when value meals actually were a good value.

Having returned, exhaustion sets in

Our camping trip ended up being two days long instead of three and while parts of me are disappointed, other parts are sore and glad to have woken up in a real bed. All in all, it doesn't really matter too much to me whether we went for one night or two, it just matters that we went; I was glad to have some time roughing it and hanging out with some good friends.

The trip went pretty much like this: We left Sunday morning at around 8:30a from MIT's Random Hall. Taking I-93N to Ashland where we got onto US-3, which took us to NH-113, which in turn led to NH-113A, which led to Whiteface Intervale Road, off of which we found trailhead parking. Incidentally, the frost heaves on NH-113A are atrocious (go too fast and you will likely kill your car). From trailhead, we took Flat Mountain Pond Trail up and into the Sandwich Range Wilderness. Hiking in was moderate at first with a packed trail but as the trail split, with one fork heading to Mount Whiteface and the other heading to Flat Mountain Pond, we were left with untouched snow. Snowshoeing on the unpacked snow is not bad at all but the trail started to gain in inclination and was moderately steep for a long while. At the end of day one, we were exhausted and camped a few hundred feet from the trail, near the northeastern shore of Flat Mountain Pond. After a night that got colder each of the three times I woke up, I found myself to be the first one awake after sunrise. Being the first one awake, I decided to go about making a fire, which was fun and I managed with one match. Smalltime was the second person awake and he helped me gather some firewood. Eventually, everyone woke up, we gathered our stuff and set out. We were planning to continue along the Flat Mountain Pond Trail until what point as we felt like stopping, camp and finish the next day but we ended up making it all the way back down on the second day. Making it down, we hopped in our vehicles and headed back, stopping at the Burger King in Ashland, NH as is traditional for these trips (and anytime I do any hiking in northern New Hampshire). Such was how the third annual spring break camping trip went.

Now for the rest of spring break, I will spend a few days at home and then some time working on my thesis.

Misogynistic Camping Trip III

This spring break will mark the Third Annual Misogynistic Camping Trip. Sam, Max, Hippo, Ian and I are going up to New Hampshire to be cold and "be men". We will leave late Saturday, spend the night at Sam's grandparents' place in North Conway and begin our hike early Sunday morning. We will be in the mountains through late Tuesday and should be back in Massachusetts before Wednesday.

The rest of y'all can plan your lives (or vacations) around that (or not).

Osmium: Densest of the Transition Metals

For those of you that don't already know, Osmium is my favorite element. I found some people on eBay selling Osmium buttons for $31/g and it made me wish that I had a bunch of money to spend. If you were to ask me how much I want to have a 30g ball of Osmium, the answer would be "so very much". Sadly, a 30g ball would cost just shy of $1000 and I don't have that kind of money to spend on precious metals right now. If I had the money to spare, you could be sure that I'd have a 5cm diameter button of Osmium in my posession within the week. This of course means that I need to wait until I have more money and then start buying Osmium buttons.

Apparently Oliver Sacks (the writer and neurologist) collected Iridium (second densest element, behind Osmium) buttons and eventually got them cast into an ingot. Hmm, perhaps I should collect Osmium buttons with the intention of casting an ingot someday.

Conspiracies and Magic abound

I have just finished reading The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson and have enjoyed every moment of it (a surprising detail considering my reading habits and its 805 page size). Many thanks are in order for my good friend Rob Malchow who recommended the book to me this past summer.

The book is a present day (as of the writing 30 years ago) science fiction about interwoven conspiracies, poltics, myteries, mysticisms and occultism. The tone ranges from thoroughly lucid to completely absurd and jumps around too fast, too slow and at the right pace all at once. You will think that you know what's going on when you do not and vice versa. The references, real and fake, will amuse you to no end. In the end, you won't know what's real anymore and you'll have a greater appreciation for the word "No".

Hail Eris
All hail Discordia

And remember, you are a Pope

Death by Hot Chocolate

In continuing with my recent trend to cook stuff, I have come across a recipe for the best hot chocolate ever. I was drinking some earlier this evening and thinking that I could understand the concept of death by chocolate. Without further ado, here's what you'll need:

  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 8-10 oz. Dark/Bittersweet Chocolate (if you're a philistine, like me, this is one and a half of those large bars of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate)
  • Some Milk (preferably Whole Milk)

Now, here's what you do. Break the chocolate into lots of little pieces. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, bring the cream to a rolling boil. Once the cream begins to boil, turn off the heat and stir in the chocolate; keep stirring until the mixture is homogenous. This cream and chocolate mixture can be kept in tupperware in the fridge for later. This mixture is your concentrate from which to actually make hot chocolate.

To prepare your hot chocolate, mix the concentrate with milk in a one to one ratio and heat in a medium saucepan over medium heat. It's so decadent and delicious.

If I get around to not being cheap, I might go over to the Godiva in the mall and get some really good chocolate, but that's a later thing. Also, you can add a little bit of Kahlua for taste or fun.

Domesticity and the Kin of the King of the Grains

Having a kitchen lets me cook things and being able to cook things lets me be all domestic and stuff. Yesterday, I baked a cake from scratch; it was a bunch of fun and I've had cake to eat for the past day. Now I need to figure out other fun stuff to cook and eat.

Speaking of cooking things, I have had a real hankering for wild rice of late. In order to satiate myself, I obtained wild rice and am cooking some right now. For those that don't know, wild rice is a distant relative of traditional rice and is native to the Great Lakes region of North America. Rice is, of course, the King of the Grains.

Wild rice is great and now I have some; also, cake.