Fri, 04 Mar 2005

I've never eaten clam fritters

I was going to make Clam Fritters (from the Joy of Cooking recipe) for my honey, shortly after we moved in together. Everything was going fine. I'd just separated out the egg whites when the whole universe exploded. Well, okay, just our part of it. Fortunately, we were both standing next to the kitchen counter, because the kitchen cabinets fell off the wall, and would have taken a dive for the floor except for our combined presence.

You might speculate that there was no ledger board underneath the cabinets. You would be right. The only things holding them up were a few flimsy screws. When we'd loaded it up with two people's worth of dishes and food, they pulled further and further out until BLAMMO the entire cabinet fell down. Right into the egg whites and bag of flour, knocking the former into the latter, effectively gluing it to the counter. No clam fritters for us; we ate pizza that night.

After the dust had settled, we stuffed soup cans under the cabinets to prevent further movement, and checked each other for bruises. Fine. Checked the brand-new speakers still sitting on the tops of their boxes. Fine. Checked the dishes in the cabinets. Fine. Checked the contents of the dish drainer, which was full of glassware, including my class year graduation glass. Tragedy struck! My precious Burger King Star Wars glass had shattered. Much pretend wailing and gnashing of teeth followed, once we realize that that was the only victim. Seemingly.

The next day the landlord's son came to put all right. He was a klutz, but at least he was prompt about fixing things he'd installed improperly, like the the hot-water tank which drew its hot water from the bottom, the front door which "latched" but could be sprung with a hip check, the interior walls which leaked conversation from one apartment to another, and the ground-fault interrupter circuit breaker which triggered when you turned anything on but didn't stop the flow of electricity. He re-hung the cabinet, this time with a ledger board.

We got ourselves breakfast, but when Heather poured her orange juice, it started pouring onto her feet. She did a double-take, and yes, she was pouring it INTO the glass. Turns out that that glass had been a victim of the dish drainer of destruction. It had two small puncture holes in the bottom, which didn't disturb the integrity of the glass other than its ability to hold fluids.

We've never eaten clam fritters.

Posted [23:27] [Filed in: food] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]

The China Syndrome

The China Syndrome, of course, is the name of a movie about a nuclear plant meltdown falling all the way through the earth to China. Of course that could never happen. What with friction and all, even if it went straight down so as to take the shortest path, it would disappear and never reach the surface of the world again.

No, I'm talking about the modern-day China syndrome, where open source projects disappear and never reach the rest of the world again. The Chinese are great consumers of open source code. Remember the great fuss made about Red Flag Linux, the Chinese national Linux distribution? It's still going strong, but you don't hear of it because of the large black hole which is China.

Why is this a problem? Well, strictly speaking, it isn't a problem. Open Source is about freedom -- the freedom to do what you want with code. So if the Chinese just take, add their improvements and never contribute them back, that's fine. Only ... it isn't, really. First, because the rest of the world misses out on the Chinese contributions. We lose. Second, because they are forking the code unnecessarily. When we make improvements, the Chinese have two choices: ignore them, or incorporate the code into their modified version. Either choice, the Chinese lose.

Open source is best when everybody cooperates with everybody else. Anybody who decides to go it alone creates inefficiency for them and everyone else. In time, the Chinese will figure this out. If you know any Chinese hackers who speak English, you can help by pointing them to this article.

Posted [15:18] [Filed in: opensource] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]