April 28, 2006

Fondness for puzzles

I am so ready to watch movie. I just finished reading the book, and I must say The Da Vinci Code is a page-turner. Whatever controversy surrounds it, on whether it's fiction or not, it doesn't matter. The story is well told, and the author really takes you there. The action and intrigue holds a candle to plots weaved in TV series like 24 and Alias.

If you want to learn something new, or at the very least read about some radical thought (remember, the book is touted as fiction), pick up the Da Vinci Code. Even for just the story. I loved it for the riddles, puzzles, and codes (actually figured out a few).

Info and links pertinent to the movie, the author, the book's references, etc. are compiled on Wikipedia (heed warning on spoilers).

If you're like me, who grew up collecting puzzles (talk about solved jigsaw puzzles piled under the bed because there's no more space to hang them on the walls), you'll try the Da Vinci Code Quest on Google. I'm on the Day 7 puzzle (and kinda stuck! Haha!).

Did you know that the Mona Lisa is both male and female?

April 20, 2006

Cabbage shoot - Part 2

I talked about how I discovered that a cabbage had grown in my refrigerator crisper.

Well, I didn't want to throw the thing away, so I shoved it back in one of the crisper drawers. I didn't put it in a plastic bag anymore. This morning, something yellow caught my eye... in the crisper drawer where I left the cabbage. Look what I found!

How totally fascinating is that?! The shoot had grown tall (trying to reach for light) and remained light yellow (should I have opened the fridge door more often?). The wedge continued to wither as it fed the shoot.

And look at this close-up!

Wonders never cease.

April 19, 2006

Musty AC

Big Problem: Our apartment's air conditioning unit is giving off a musty smell.

Bigger Problem: The apartment maintenance guy came to clean the coils but did a piss-poor job; musty smell is still there.

Biggest Problem: My roommate is allergic to molds.

I took a look at the AC coils (the tubes containing freon that cools the attached fins that cools the air that flows through). OHMYGAWD! Many of the fins were sqwooshed flat (most likely from the last maintenance job, obviously long before we moved in), not to mention the mold and mildew growing all over the thing! I don't want to imagine what's cultivating behind the flattened fins! No wonder the apartment smells like a rain forest everytime the AC comes on!

Here's where my OCD kicked in. I had to straighten out all the fins and clean out all the mold! [I need to do this. And I need to do it now!]

My first challenge was what tool to use to un-flatten the flattened fins. [Tool - yes! I love tools!] Checked my tool cabinet and there was this putty knife. Tried that but it felt awkward -- not ergonomic.

Maybe I'll find a better tool in the... uhm... kitchen drawer. Found a plastic knife... that should work.

After a few un-flattened fins, I felt the upper edge of the knife was too wide -- some fins didn't straighten out nicely.

Back to the kitchen drawer. AHA! The orange peeler! Excellent. That worked.

When I finally straightened out all the fins, the next task was to clean out the gunk. Bought two implements to make this happen: a coil cleaner (foaming detergent in a spray can), and a water pump.

I sprayed the coils with the cleaner and used the water pump to flush out the loosened dirt.

I poked with the orange peeler and brushed with a bristle brush (some of the resident fungi were pretty well-anchored!), and flushed with water for almost two hours. Okay, more than three hours. I was surprised my ADD hadn't pulled me away sooner.

When it felt like I had fished out about a pound of moss and seaweed, I sprayed foam cleaner one last time, flushed with water one final round, and let my ADD take over. [I need to check my emails!] (Sometimes it's tough to have OCD and ADD at the same time.)

The coils don't look brand new (some stains are permanent), but I think I did a pretty good job -- certainly a lot better than that maintenance guy. Now to see if the roommate's histamine agrees with me.

April 11, 2006


The date on the label says "Jan 26-28 1996." It's a VHS tape of our trek up Mt. Pulag, back when I was an avid backpacker/trekker.

Ten years. That long. Once-in-a-lifetime memories held together in a strip of decade-old magnetic tape. How long do these things last? The tape, I mean. A friend gave me this time capsule a few months after we got back from the trek, and I've seen it only twice -- the day I received it and about four years ago. I'm surprised it's still working. I'm surprised I still have a working VHS player.

Memories are supposed to last forever. But they don't do they? I can't even remember with whom I climbed that time. I can't remember what I wore, what we ate. All I remember is I have sounds and images of a very important climb in this strip of decade-old magnetic tape. How long so these things last anyway?

So, I did myself a favor. I watched the tape again and tried to remember everything (I still can't remember the names of some of the guys I trusted with my life up that mountain!). It's stunning to realize that since that climb, two of my fellow-climbers had died. Some have migrated to other parts of the world. A few have gotten married... to each other.

I knew that if I wanted to keep these memories with me, I would have to watch the tape every so often. Some of these friends will be hard to find now, and a number will most likely continue to exist for me only in this roll. Maybe in one of my viewing sessions everyone's names will come back to me.

So, before I lose everything as this VHS tape deteriorates, this VHS player fades into oblivion, and this aging mind slips into retirement, I copied the tape onto a DVD to preserve the stories, the smiles and laughter, and the unforgettable faces of friends who trekked with me through some of the most exciting days of my life.

How long do these DVDs last anyway?

Here's what I gathered from the old reliable Internet:

Pressed DVD (movies) - 50-300 years
DVD-R - 20-250 years
DVD-RW - 25-100 years
Magnetic tape - 10-100 years
Archival Microfilm - 300+ years

Fine print: Computer storage media and equipment become obsolete in 20-30 years.

Finer print: all of these lifespan estimates are based on highest quality materials and manufacturer standards. Poor materials, equipment, and storage conditions reduce lifespans considerably. Some experts recommend archive backup on at least three different media, and constant upgrades as new technologies emerge.

Finest print: nothing lasts forever.

April 3, 2006

Cabbage shoot

Every now and then I discover a science project in my refrigerator.

Some would be familiar, like a kaleidoscope of molds on old cheese, or a cucumber that has disintegrated into a soft mush in its original grocery produce plastic bag.

Some would be just plain black -- an unknown substance that had evolved from a leftover long forgotten in its airtight plastic container pushed back deep into the lowest shelf of the fridge also known as the FBH or Fridge Black Hole.

Some would be a wonderful surprise. Like this one:

This is a cabbage wedge that I had forgotten I still had. It was in a plastic bag in my vegetable crisper. When I pulled it out a couple of days ago (of course, while muttering the usual, "What the heck is this?!), it had this beautiful shoot coming out of the center part. Oooh, wow!

I've had other vegetables grow in my crisper by accident, like potatoes, onions, garlic, even carrots. But this is the first time with cabbage. I wonder what else I can grow in there.

As for this little wonder of FBH, I obviously will not use the withering wedge anymore (I bought a new head of cabbage yesterday). But will I let the baby cabbage shoot grow bigger so that I can use it in my next cole slaw? We shall see.


I got this message from a friend today:

"On Wednesday of next week, at two minutes and three seconds after
1:00 in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06. That won't ever happen again."

Kinda like my birthday.

April 1, 2006

With lemon, please!

According to an herbs-for-health book I read, lemons help digestion. Of course, that’s aside from the fruit's Vitamin C benefits. Another expert suggested adding a slice of lemon to every glass of water you drink. Hmm... I can follow that advice. Better yet, I can also add lemon to every glass of soda I drink.

So, do I cut off a slice each time I feel like a drink? I tried that for a while but it’s too much of a bother to get the lemon from the refrigerator, put it on a board, pick up a knife, cut off a slice, then return the lemon to the fridge, and wash the knife and board, every time I feel like a drink with lemon. Nah... too much work.

So, do I pre-cut the lemon, put the slices in the refrigerator, and pick up a piece every time I have a glass of soda or water? I tried that but the slices deteriorate faster than I can consume them.

So, do I freeze the slices so they don’t deteriorate? Tried that, too, but the slices stick to each other as they freeze, making it impossible to pick up just a slice.

After thinking it over real hard… I figured out a way. And I will share this little secret with you!

***NOTE: The tips and photos have been migrated to: How to Freeze Lemon Slices

Here's to everyone's digestion!