Peppers: A Story Of Hot Pursuits

Title: Peppers: A Story Of Hot Pursuits
Author: Amal Naj
Published: 1992 by Alfred A Knopf, Inc.
ISBN: 0-394-57077-4

Last summer we grew a whole bunch of peppers in our garden. The plan was to make some salsa out of them, and to that end it was a success. We made three batches of salsa and each was delicious. The jalapeños were the best pepper we had. Compared to the poblanos and green peppers, they were more abundant. The habeñeros barely started budding by the time it froze.

With that success under my belt I'm preparing to expand my pepper cultivation next year. I picked up this book hoping to further that goal. It turns out not to be so much about growing peppers like The Great Tomato Book was about tomatoes. But it was an interesting read nonetheless.

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Alton Brown's Gear For Your Kitchen

Title: Alton Brown's Gear For Your Kitchen
Author: Alton Brown
Published: 2003 by Stewart, Tabori & Chang
ISBN: 1-58479-296-5

If you're a fan of Good Eats, you'll dig this book. But be careful. It's not a cookbook, so if that's what you're looking for you'll be disappointed. Instead, it's a book full of what A.B. recommends for your kitchen. Quite a bit of it you could guess at from his show. Some of it is straight out of the show, actually. I guess he can only have so many opinions.

I was quite intrigued by his recommendation for how to get rid of extra hardware. First step is to move everything to a single spot. As you use things, put them away. Eventually you find what you use and what you don't. Well, it's a little more involved (read the book!) but that's the gist. I just can't see myself doing that, though. I did suggest it to my wife, but she was not interested. How could we get ride of the ice cream maker we've only used once in the 6 years we've been married?

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1200 Baud

Today I've been setting up a Cisco router as a terminal server. One piece is to attach a modem so that we can dial into the router in case the network goes all haywire. In testing out the modem, I called myself with it. When I answered the phone, I figured I should be polite and talk back. Surprisingly, I communicated with the modem.

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Visa Check Cards

In the mail the other day, I got a letter from Wells Fargo which is where I have my checking account. That's not unusual. They try to sell me stuff pretty frequently. This one seemed pretty good on the surface, prizes just for using my check card, even up to $250,000. Wow!

Then there's the fine print. "PIN-based purchases are not eligible", it says. Think about that for a second. When you use your PIN, the transaction is handled just like with an ATM. The card issuer doesn't take a cut. But when you use the Visa network (or its peers), the merchant (the person who sells you goods) pays a percentage for the privilege of working with Visa, usually about 3% of the total cost.

So it makes complete sense that Visa and card issuers like Wells Fargo would want you to make more Visa transactions. It make them more money. But considering the low probability of me winning one of these awards, I'd rather use my PIN and save a couple bucks for my local vendor.

Apples: History, Folklore, Horticulture, and Gastronomy

Title: Apples: History, Folklore, Horticulture, and Gastronomy
Author: Peter Wynne
Published: 1975 by Hawthorn Books
ISBN: 0-8015-0340-X

I've been considering planting a fruit tree somewhere on my property, probably in the front yard. Apples seem like a good choice. For one, they grow pretty well around here. With the cold winters we get, that's a pretty important feature. Plus there's a lot you can do with them. Pies, sauces, cobbles, juices, canning, even baby food. Oh, and I guess you can eat them plain too. So I picked up this book at the library to learn a little about apple trees and see if that's really what I want.

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The Great Tomato Book

Title: The Great Tomato Book
Author: Gary Ibsen
Published: 1999 by Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 1-58008-048-0

This year was the first that I've had my own garden. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I would have planted tomatoes, I would have laughed in your face. But my wife has convinced me of their virtues over the years, so we decided to plant 12 tomato plants. The harvest wasn't quite as large as I had expected, so I turned to the library for assistance.

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Save tcpdump to file and print to stdout

Today I found myself needing to save packets from tcpdump to a file but also view them on screen. I've wanted to do that in the past, but today it became more important. It was suggested to me to use two instances of tcpdump, but I thought there had to be a better way. Luckily there is.

# tcpdump -U -s 1500 -w - <bpf> |tee <file> | tcpdump -lnr -

Tomato and Onion Risotto

A few weeks ago I went to Jackson, WY to do a router upgrade. It had to be done late at night so I stayed at a hotel. You know what that means: Food TV! We don't have cable, dish, etc. at home (and prefer it that way), but I do miss Food Network some times. That night I saw somebody make risotto. It didn't really look that hard, so I determined to try it after I got home.

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Asterisk: The Future of Telephony

Title: Asterisk: The Future of Telephony
Author: Jim Van Meggelen, Jared Smith & Leif Madsen
Published: 2005 by O'Reilly
ISBN: 0-596-00962-3

I've been playing with Asterisk for about a year, and I've been interested in it for twice that, pretty much since I started working with proprietary PBX systems. First was a Nortel, and now a Vodavi and an NEC. I can't understate the symplicity of having a computer-controlled (especially a Linux-based one) phone system.

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