Book Binge

>> 31 January 2009

This Christmas, I asked for books. I like reading and I also enjoy getting books, especially books that the giver likes, because that makes the gift a little bit more memorable. Anyway, between these books that I've received as gifts, some Barnes & Noble gift cards, and a few stops to Nice Price (Used Book Store) I am not the proud owner of more books than I know what to do with! In the past month the following novels have been added to my personal library:

  • The Emperor's Children by, Claire Messud
  • Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund
  • Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by, Dee Brown
  • The Savage Detectives by, Roberto Bolano
  • Beloved by, Toni Morrison
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union by, Michael Chabon
  • Portnoy's Complaint by, Philip Roth
  • Underworld by, Don Delillo
I am currently reading Beloved, but once I'm done with this one, I'm afraid I'll be at something of a standstill. So, my question for you, loyal e-friends, is: which one should I read next? If you've read any of these books and can recommend (or warn against) them, that would be helpful, but if you haven't read any of them and just want to recommend a book based on whim or some other improvised criterion, be my guest in the comments section.


Review: The Flying Biscuit Cafe

>> 28 January 2009

It is my new secret ambition to be a food critic. Actually, it's no longer a secret ambition: my new ambition is to be a food critic. When you think about it, there are very few better jobs. Job description:

  • Go to fancy restaurants; eat for free
  • Decide if you liked the food or not
  • Write it down
That's it! Perfect job. You basically just eat and write! Also, I believe that I have a fairly discerning palette. This doesn't mean that I only like expensive restaurants, but I have very little tolerance for middle-of-the-road culinary fakery. For instance, I avoid places like The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang's, etc. at all costs because: one, the food isn't great, two, if I'm going to get mediocre food, I'd rather do it at Quizno's and not feel like I'm getting ripped off. So, those are my credentials. Here is my review.


Basically, The Flying Biscuit Cafe is a breakfast-all-day place. The original restaurant was in Atlanta, but it has expanded to multiple locations, including the one here in Cameron Village. I trust in your Google proficiency and will therefore eschew any further introduction of the restaurant. Let's talk about the food.

Rochelle ordered the fried green tomato BLT, with a side order of "moon dust" potatoes (I am not making that unfortunate name up). I had the Egg-ceptional - two eggs (I had mine over-medium) served over two black bean cakes and garnished with feta cheese, a tomatillo sauce, and sour cream, with grits and the famous flying biscuit as sides.

The BLT was good. If you've never had a fried green tomato, it is tangier than a normal tomato, but this tanginess was complimented by the pecan-jalapeno garnish and was, overall, a simple, tasty take on the BLT. Her potatoes, on the other hand, were fairly disappointing. The "moon dust" potatoes had a lot of potential. Who doesn't like roasted potato cubes? The seasoning was fine - about what you'd expect, salty with some rosemary - but the cubes were too small. Am I being picky? No. See, a larger cube can withstand more cooking, allowing the inside to stay moist while the outside becomes crisp and toasted. These cubes were stranded between roasted potatoes and home-fries and just ended up being limp on the exterior and dry in the middle.

My meal, on the other had was quite good. Anyone who is familiar with Mexican cuisine (if the restaurant has combos 1-25 listed on the menu, it's probably not authentic Mexican cuisine) will be familiar with my meal. Fried eggs, beans, cream, and tomatillo sauce - classic and tasty. The primary difference between my meal and the Mexican dish is that this one wasn't spicy at all. The grits turned out to be the highlight of the meal for me. They were nicely textured, creamy, and perfectly seasoned. The biscuit, I was surprised, wasn't exceptional. It was one of the better biscuits I've had in a restaurant, but it was a little denser than I would have liked. My ideal biscuit is light and flaky with a slight buttery flavor, and this biscuit, while good, was not quite there.

It was reasonably priced. Prices on the breakfast-all-day menu ranged from $5 -$10. Some of the dinner-style entrees were a bit more, but I would say that $10 per person is a reasonable estimate of what you'll pay.

  • Can't Miss
  • **Good Bet**
  • I'll Pass
  • Don't Go There
Reasonably priced and tasty, I would go back, although next time, I think I'll try the french toast.

Been to The Flying Biscuit Cafe? Have an opinion? Think you'll try it? Leave your comments below.


Brain Puzzle Follow Up

>> 26 January 2009

A follow up question from our Brain Puzzle.

Imagine that you are on the island, where everyone is either a knight or a knave. Knights always tell the truth, and Knaves always lie. As it turns out, all the Knights live in the same town, Knightville. Likewise, all the Knaves live in the same town, Knaveboro. You are trying to get to Knightville. You come to a fork in the road; one way leads to Knightville, the other road leads to Knaveboro, however, there are no signs. A traveler approaches you. What question shoud you ask him to learn the way to Knightville?

Only one question! Post your response in the comments section.



>> 23 January 2009

I am a terrible internet user. I didn't know about Pandora radio until this month.

For those of you who don't know (my fellow internet know-nothings) , is internet radio where you create your own station. It's basically awesome!

Here's how it might work. Say your favorite musician is Celine Dion (who is finished with her Vegas gig and is coming to the RBC Center in Raleigh soon) and you wanted to listen to Celine Dion and "artists" with similar sounds. You would just go to the website, type in CELINE DION, and the music starts!

At first, it'll pick some duds, but you can vote thumbs up or thumbs down for each song, so that the station gradually learns what music you like (scary thought: computers can learn!). You can also create an account and customize a station so that it is exactly to your liking.

Anyway, if you are not familiar with, stop being an internet amateur and go listen!


Brain Puzzle Results

>> 22 January 2009


By popular vote, the answer to the riddle is:
Amanda = Knight
Boris = Can't be determined.

As it turns out, the readers of this e-blog are very astute and clever and the voters got it RIGHT!  The correct solution to the riddle is that Amanda is a Knight and Boris could be either a Knight or a Knave.  There are some very good explanations in the comments section of the original post.  John's is the easiest to understand, Wor's is the one most likely to be understood by a computer, and Phillip's has the best links.

Here is the basic reasoning behind the answers to this brain puzzle.  Let's consider the four possible outcomes:
  1. Amanda = Knight; Boris = Knight
  2. Amanda = Knight; Boris = Knave
  3. Amanda = Knave; Boris = Knight
  4. Amanda = Knave; Boris = Knave
I think we can agree that there is no other possible outcome.  Amanda must be either a knight or a knave and Boris must be either a knight or a knave.  Now, let's see in which of these possible outcomes Boris' statement, "Amanda would say that I am a Knight" is true.
  1. If Amanda = Knight and Boris = Knight, then the statement is true.  Why?  Because in this case, Boris actually is a knight.  Amanda, being a knight herself, would say that Boris is a Knight.  And Boris, a knight, is telling the truth when he says, "Amanda would say that I am a Knight."  Conclusion: YES!
  2. If Amanda = Knight and Boris = Knave, then the statement is still true.  Why?  Because in this case Boris is a knave, so Amanda, a knight who always tells the truth, would not say "Boris is a Knight".  But Boris, a lying knave, would not report truthfully about this.  He would lie and say "Amanda would say that I am a Knight."  So, even though Boris' statement is false, it is still consistent with Boris' being a knave.  Conclusion: YES!
  3. If Amanda = Knave and Boris = Knight, then Amanda would not say "Boris is a knight".  He is a knight, but as a knave, Amanda would not say so.  This would make Boris' statment, "Amanda would say that I am a knight" false, which is not consistent with Boris being a knight.  Conclusion: NO!
  4. If Amanda = Knave and Boris = Knave, then Amanda would lie about Boris and say that he is a knight.  Boris, however, being a knave, would then lie about Amanda's lie, and so he would not say "Amanda would say that I am a knight."  Conclusion: NO!
Summary:  In the first two possible outcomes, Boris' statement, "Amanda would say that I am a Knight" is consistent with the premises.  In the second two, it is not.  In both of the consistent outcomes (the first two) Amanda is a Knight.  We can therefore conclude that Amanda must be a knight.  Boris, on the other hand, may be either a knight or a knave because there is a consistent outcome in which he is a knight and a consistent answer in which he is a knave.


I'm On And I Don't Know What To Do!

>> 20 January 2009

I just joined  If you're not familiar with Twitter, allow me to explain: Twitter is a tiny e-blog.  In other words, it's an e-blog for the lazy.

The posts are limited to 140 characters and you're just supposed to say little things.  While I like the idea of Twitter, I must admit that I've had a hard time writing anything.  In theory Twitter posts are supposed to just answer the question: what are you doing?  This seems sort of silly though because if I were to answer this question truthfully, my posts would always say: I am posting on Twitter.

Anyway, if anyone who reads this e-blog uses twitter and wishes to befriend me, my twitter name is JoeldMikk.

Also, if anyone here has any experience with Twitter and wants to give me advice about how to succeed on, please let me know!



>> 13 January 2009

Do you have powers of logic? Test yourself with this little puzzle:

You are visiting a certain island, all of whose inhabitants can be divided into two groups: the knights and the knaves. Anything a knight says is true and anything a knave says is false. You meet two inhabitants of this island, Boris and Amanda. You don't know to which group either Boris or Amanda belongs, but you ask Boris what Amanda would say if she were to say whether Boris was a knight or a knave. Boris replies, "Amanda would say that I am a knight." Based on just this information, can you tell whether Amanda is a knight or a knave? What about Boris?

Cast your votes below and explain your reasoning in the comments section.


A Concession of Sorts

>> 06 January 2009

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in an argument
William G. McAdoo
A good basic rule of thumb is to never admit to a mistake and never concede defeat. No matter how overwhelming the evidence, the only way to ever truly lose is to admit that you've lost. Some examples:

Situation: I interview for a job which I don't get.
Losing Reaction: I didn't get the job.
Winning Reaction: I did get the job and I will show up to work on Monday.

Situation: Soccer game where my team scores one goal and the other team scores two.
Losing Reaction: They scored more goals than us, so they won.
Winning Reaction: The scoreboard is defective...WE WON!!!

Situation: I do not get accepted into graduate school.
Losing Reaction: My application wasn't good enough.
Winning Reaction: I did not apply to graduate school.

It doesn't really matter how irrational the justification might turn out. In fact, the more irrational the reasoning, the harder it is for anyone to prove you wrong. Case in point: e-blog war. So, consider this my concession speech:
I was never in an e-blog contest. There are no such thing as e-blogs. I don't believe in the internet. E-blog contests are like golf; the lowest score wins. There is no such thing as golf. I have never lost anything ever. The end.

Just win Mary


CLARIFICATION!: December 31st, First Day of the Year

>> 01 January 2009

So, as many of the faithful readers of this e-blog know, I have been involved in a blogging competition with Mary. The competition was simple - a race to have the most posts by the end of the year. Now, Mary, in her blog has claimed a victory in this competition, but as far as I'm concerned, the issue is still not settled.

On December 31st, Mary posted SIX TIMES, to bring the final score to 114 posts for me, and 118 for Mary. It seems like she won, doesn't it? Don't be so sure; it depends on whether or not you count New Years Eve as part of 2008 or 2009.

There is a lively and vigorous debate going on between researchers in the field of calendar-science about whether or not New Years Eve is the first day of the year, or the last. The arguments are technical and fairly difficult, but I'll try to simplify for the sake of clarity.

Imagine that you are looking at a digital clock with the following readouts:

11:58 PM
11:59 PM
12:00 AM (SAY WHAT?!)
Why did this clock jump so abruptly from PM to AM? Wouldn't it have made more sense for it to go like this?:
11:58 PM
11:59 PM
12:00 Pm
12:59 PM
1:00 AM
Of course that would make more sense. Why would you begin counting with twelve? It's insane!
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12. Not 12,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11. THIS IS AMERICA, PEOPLE! WE START COUNTING FROM ONE, NOT TWELVE! So, at midnight on December 31st, we weren't actually celebrating the New Year, we were celebrating the end of the first day of the New Year, which began at 1:00 AM on December 31st.

I know the response I'm going to get...but Joel, I see that you are right about the clock thing, but that doesn't change anything. Jan. 1 is still the first day of the year. If that's the case, then why did the celebration happen at midnight, an hour before the supposed first day of the year began at 1:00 AM? I'll tell you why? We celebrate New Years Day on December 31st because it is the TRUE first day of the year. Therefore, all posts made by Mary after 1:00 AM on December 31st, cannot be considered for this blogging contest, since they were made after the deadline of 12:59 PM on the night of December 30th. Clearly, in this light, I had the higher number of posts, although, being a gentleman and a magnanimous competitor, I would be willing to accept the result of a tie, with the $1,000,000 prize money being shared equally between participants.

So, what do you think? Vote and leave your comments below:


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