mon, 28-may-2007, 13:03



This weekend we spend a lot of time getting our vegetable garden ready for planting. The first plant date here in Fairbanks is June first, so we’ve got until Friday to get everything set up and ready to go. We spent most of the day on Saturday removing the top layer of dirt from the garden, and replacing it with a pickup truckload of soil we got from Great Northwest on College Road. They support the Dog Mushers, so we support them. We replaced five wheelbarrow loads on the upper bed, eight loads on the lower bed.

Sunday we rented a rototiller and rototilled both beds. We did three passes on each bed, and only had the tiller out for a couple hours. In the past I’ve always turned over the soil by hand, and I can say without reservation that using a rototiller is a much easier way to go. I think it churns the soil up better too, so hopefully we’ll have fewer problems with clay this year.

We got plants from the Farmer’s Market, Alaska Feed, and some from Calypso Farms. We’re growing Russet potatoes, basil, and several varieties of cabbage, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, and salad greens. I had hoped to grow beets, but we didn’t see any starts for that, which may mean we need to start them from seed directly in the garden. Andrea also got some flowers that should help keep pests away from the crops, as well as improve the soil.

tags: food  garden  me  vegetables 
mon, 21-may-2007, 17:20

Delta Meat Company Logo

Delta Meat & Sausage Company

Last week we ordered a side of beef from the Delta Meat & Sausage Company in Delta Junction, Alaska. They’re about two hours south of Fairbanks and raise their own beef without antibiotics or growth hormones. I’m not sure what percentage of their diet comes from grass, but since the farm doesn’t use antibiotics, corn must not be a very large part of their diet (cows aren’t designed to eat corn, so corn-fed beef require loads of antibiotics to keep their guts functional). Relatively speaking, it’s a local business, so significantly less petroleum was consumed getting our meat to us that would be required for the meat trucked up from the lower 48 to service our local megajumbomarket. It's a good thing.

Delta Meat butchers the meat into a “supermarket” cut, which means the labels conform to what you’d expect to see at the meat counter. Before our steer was cut up, we talked to the butcher about what what we wanted done with it. We found that we used the ground meat more quickly than anything else on the moose I shot a few years ago so we geared our cuts toward producing more hamburger meat.

We picked up the side at the Sears parking lot. Five boxes.

Here’s what she wrote on the receipt regarding the cuts and whether we wanted them or not:

  • Arm—No (I'm not sure what this is)
  • Chuck roast—Yes
  • Chuck steak—Yes
  • Short ribs—Yes
  • Stew meat—No
  • Rib steak—Yes
  • Round steak—No
  • London broil—Yes
  • Bottom round roast—Yes
  • Rump roast—Yes
  • Tip roast—No
  • Cube steaks—No
  • Brisket—Yes

Anything listed as “No” was turned into hamburger meat. Keeping the brisket whole was the only thing we asked for that unusual enough that they didn't have a sticker for it on the package. We're going to turn some of the brisket into corned beef, and Andrea will cook the rest using a family recipe.

The “standing side weight” was 291.5 pounds, and the cost is based on that weight. We paid $2.65 / pound, or $772.48 for the whole thing.

Here’s what we got:

CutNumberTotal weight
2 pound packages59118.0
London broil35.6
Rump roast28.6
Chuck roast415.4
Boneless sirloin steak67.8
Porterhouse steak612.1
T-bone steak59.3
Chuck steak47.6
Tenderloin steak21.9
Rib steak35.0
Short ribs515.6

In total, that's 212.5 pounds of meat, for an average cost of $3.64 / pound. Cheap, and I believe it is much better quality meat than we can buy, and is better for the cows, the environment, and for us (grass-fed beef is better for you, with better omega fatty acid ratios than corn-fed, feedlot beef).

tags: Delta Meat  food 
sat, 12-may-2007, 08:27

baked redpoll

baked redpoll

Last night we had hamburgers for dinner because Fred Meyer didn’t have any good looking fish. I’ve been wanting to start a “Friday Night Fish Night” tradition to get more fish into our diet, but it’s hard when the local megamarket doesn’t have anything worth eating on Friday afternoon. We just bought a side of beef from a local meat company, and have some older frozen hamburgers in the freezer to eat before our all-natural Alaska meat shows up next week.

I use a chimney starter to get the coals going (it’s the silver tube sitting in the little Weber in the photo), and it must have been throwing off enough heat to warm up the redpoll in the photo. He’s in the lower left. He laid there for at least five minutes warming himself by the heat from the coals. Redpolls don’t appear to be all that smart (they’re called “pigpolls” by bird feeders around here), but this one really knew what he was doing. Click on the photo for a larger, and still fairly grainy image.

tags: birds  deck  redpoll 
thu, 10-may-2007, 04:59


foreign spam
image by f_mafra

I maintain our departmental mail servers, and spend a fair amount of effort trying to reduce unsolicited email. One of the ways I do that is by collecting my spam and training our spam filter with it so our users won't see it more than once.

Today I got a hilarious email that must have been written in another language and then translated into English. It's first paragraph mentions a “most exciting lose flesh product available.” Sounds good! Better yet is this supposed testimonial from a guy in New York: “And you see me, the bed became cool also!” To quote Temperance Brennan: “I don't know what that means.”

I also don't know how I mange to “decline the preposition” and resist this exciting new product that “attacks unnecessary kilos.”

tags: spam  sysadmin 
wed, 02-may-2007, 14:31

locker combination

image by 500cpm, blurred by me

Apparently one of the encryption keys for the high definition DVD (HD-DVD) format has been discovered, and is now appearing and disappearing all over the Internets. The organization in charge of “administering” the encryption scheme has started sending out Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices to Internet Service Providers and corporations whenever they find the key on a website. Here’s one such notice sent to Google. The incredibly stupid part about this document is that it contains the key they’re trying to hide in the letter, officially putting it in the public record.

The whole thing is ridiculous. If I buy an HD-DVD disc, I’m not allowed to make a copy of it in case my copy gets scratched or broken because doing so would require “breaking” the encryption which is a violation of the DMCA. The key is part of this process, so the content corporations are trying with all their might (and their lawyers in concert with the DMCA) to keep the key a secret so that people can’t make backups of the items they have purchased.

But you can’t take back a secret once it’s out. And even if you could, it’s ridiculous that it’s possible to shut down a web site because it contains a simple string of letters and numbers that by themselves mean absolutely nothing. Or a photograph of something that happens to contain the string (click on the image for a whole set of these from Flickr). The string isn’t copyrighted, and it’s not a trademark. It seems like free speech means I ought to be able to print this string of letters and numbers.

[Update: There's a great legal discussion of the issues at the Electronic Freedom Foundation's web site. The link is 09 f9: A Legal Primer. The gist is that putting the key on the Internet serves no other purpose than to aid in circumventing protected content, and thus, posters can be sued for “trafficking.”]

Here’s the secret key, which I’ve converted to bits and then encrypted: 00010011 11110010 00100010 00000101 00111010 11101001 11000110 10110111 10110000 10000010 10101101 10001010 11000110 10101101 00010001 10000000. Is this a violation of the DMCA? It’s not actually the key and thus is useless to someone who wants to exercise their right to make a backup of something they’ve purchased because I’ve “encrypted” it (does x << 1 mean anything to you?). Because I’ve encrypted it, does that give me protection under the DMCA? If I get a takedown notice, that implies that the laywer sending the letter has circumvented the access controls to my copyrighted data (because this post is Copyrighted, and so the bitstring is too).

When will this insanity end?

tags: DMCA  encryption  society 

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