Sunday, August 29, 2010


The starting shot has been fired, and school has taken off at a gallop. I'm really grateful that I took the time to do some review before the class began. I was at least able to understand what the teacher was talking about during the first day of class. The first session was a "review" of what I'm supposed to remember from my undergrad years, but it went well beyond everything I reviewed or remembered. It basically summed up an entire semester of differential equations in 3.5 pages of notes.

After about 10 hours of studying on Friday and Saturday, I feel like I can do most of what I need to do, but I still get stuck because of basics that I have forgotten or never learned. My biggest achilles heel is integration. I can do the easier integrals, but anything beyond the basic techniques throws me off.

Almost all engineering courses, at their core, are pretty much just applied math. I am hoping to use this math class to reset myself. If I can really learn this stuff, the other 9 classes I'll be taking will be much easier.

Tomorrow's class is going to be more "review", going into second order differential equations. On Wednesday, the "real" material will begin.

I'm thinking that maybe my cooking interests should shift to the finer points of coffee for a while...

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I've always felt that some tomatoes were better than others, but, a new realization has dawned on me that there is a drastic tomato conspiracy going on. It all started with this... our first home grown tomato. 
We ate it with some good salt and olive oil, and it was pure heaven... like the essence of summer had been packed into every delicious bite, and I thought, "man, this is one tasty tomato!" I went on with my life, though, not really giving it another thought... until my aunt came to visit. 

It just so happened that we had a ripe tomato on the vine, and some heirloom tomatoes we had bought from the grocery store. When my aunt pulled out a bag of cherry tomatoes she had just picked up from a farmer's market, it was clear that a taste test would be required. We cut the tomatoes up and got out the olive oil with some finishing salts...
The home grown tomato is on the left, the heirloom from the store is on the right, and the cherries are in the back. The differences were shocking, and the decisions were easy... 

The cherry tomatoes were the best plain eating tomatoes. They had just the right amount of sweetness, but still had that distinct tomato"ness." Salt and oil were just a distraction on these, and actually made them taste worse. They're winners for needing nothing but themselves to be perfect.

The home grown was my favorite, but only with olive oil and salt on it... Don't get me wrong, it was great by itself, but not much of a match for the cherries. With the oil and salt, though, it was a whole different story. I really can't think of much else that would taste better, short of having two.

The store bought tomato was just sad. It was watery, and had no tomato soul. It was hardly a tomato at all... it was clearly a tomahto, and it made me scared for the fate of tomatoes as a whole. The farmers and grocery stores that sell these phonies should be ashamed, and should be required to label their fruits as tomahtoes to avoid any confusion.

This whole taste testing experience really got me thinking, and has opened my eyes to the underground world of real tomatoes. I am very interested in this all these tomatoes that I have been missing, and am looking forward to exploring all the new varieties that I can get my hands on...

Friday, August 13, 2010


I graduated from college with my Bachelor's degree over 5 years ago, and really haven't used most of the math and science that I learned. Since I'm jumping back into school with a math class, I decided I should brush up on all my old classes so that I at least have something to start with when I walk through that classroom door. That's why I bought these:

At this point, I've gotten through the beginning Calculus book. I took the corresponding course over 8 years ago, but I was suprised at how quickly it all came back.... It was actually kinda fun! I'm really enjoying learning things because I want to, and not because I need to learn them for a class.

The biggest thing I took away from my beginning Calculus review was that Calculus has everything to do with rates of change. It's actually really cool... The classic example for calculus is a ladder. If the bottom is moving away from a wall at a certain rate, calculus and some trigonometry will let you figure out how far the top of the ladder is moving down the wall.... You can also use calculus to find volumes of things, which is also really cool... it is where many of the equations for volumes of odd shapes actually come from, and it is really interesting to see how people came up with a lot of the equations I use all the time....

Next up is the advanced calculus book... I'm hoping to at least get through that before I start school a week from Monday... wish me luck!

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Ever since my wife and I had our baby, I've turned to cooking for entertainment. I am usually not happy if I'm not creating something that is a challenge to me, and I've found just what I have needed to satisfy my restlessness in barbecue and charcuterie. These things are great because they let me hang out with my family and give me some elaborate little challenges to conquer at the same time. Unfortunately, cooking fatty meats is not the healthiest of hobbies, and so, I often feel guilty about pursuing my passions.

I think things will be balancing out a bit more in the next few weeks. I'm going back to school for my Master's in mechanical engineering, with a focus on robotics, and am going to be very, very busy trying to learn new things. I think this is going to be good for me... It will give me some serious challenges that will keep me occupied without the use of food, while still allowing me to spend a lot of time with my family (quietly).

I've talked before about how this blog is interesting to me, because it gives me a timeline of my hobbies and interests... In three weeks, that timeline is likely going to have a big kink in it. I'm sure I'll still tackle some exciting meat projects from time to time, but, I am also interested in attempting to use my blog to help me retain the things that I am learning in school. I'm trying extremely hard to approach school with a new attitude... one where I study and learn because I am interested in the subject, rather than just trying to pass the classes.

I plan to use my blog to help me record my revelations and thoughts, or maybe even explain some things to myself that I have a hard time understanding. In short, it is probably going to get real mathy and nerdy around here, real fast...