Monthly Archives: May 2012

Semolina Pudding

(originally posted January 26, 2003 )


1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
4 cups water
grated peel of 1 lemon (pref. organic)
1 cup semolina flour
raspberries or other berries

Mix sugar, milk, water and lemon peel in a pot or big saucepan. Heat until just about to boil, then gradually sprinkle in semolina flour, whisking the whole time to prevent lumps from forming. Allow mixture to thicken considerably. Remove from heat and pour into bowl, mold, or cupcake pan. Refrigerate for at least two hours. Pudding should be somewhat firmer than chocolate pudding, but less firm than jello.

When ready to serve, unmold pudding or leave in bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon. Top with raspberries or other fruit. Sugared raspberries are particularly nice when a little bit of sauce is formed and can be poured over the pudding.

The pudding has a texture that is somehow both agreeably grainy and smooth and is very cooling in the summertime. You can vary the milk:water ratio in the recipe, even to the point of omitting one or the other entirely.

(thanks to puddingmeister Deb for the recipe)



distributed systems, and systems failure in general


"A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unusable." Leslie Lamport, 1987; though the same observation would be true for cloud computing today.


Noted recently on this Google Plus thread; I don't think I'll quote the whole thing, but by referencing it here I'll find it again at least for a while.

The Horse Flies, “Roadkill (Eat What You Kill)”

There's a great song by The Horse Flies, called "Roadkill", with the memorable line "eat what you kill". This is from their live show at the Grassroots Festival, 1993:

You'll find more Horseflies tunes on the Internet Archive from their live shows. Look for their other seasonally appropriate tune "I live where it's gray". I haven't yet heard their latest album Until The Ocean. (Amazon link).

“The business model is hamsters generating less money with each turn of the wheel.”

The phrase is from Dave Winer, noting the path of Web 2.0 company growth and the difference between what the systems are worth to the owners vs. what they are worth to the early adopters:

The APIs are corporate APIs, the CMSes are silos, the business model is hamsters generating less money with each turn of the wheel.  permalink

I can't say this is wrong, but it brings some regret for the time spent being the early hamster on the wheel and seeing whatever value I added to the likes of brand new systems being captured completely by those systems. It makes me want to start something brand new of my own – but then – you end up being captured by all of the tools you have to learn to bring it online.

Perhaps the best thing to think through this is that all new shiny online services have a lifespan. Some of them grow quickly and then die (remember Pownce? I thought not), some of them grow slowly and still live on somehow (remember Plurk?), others never get off the ground (a dozen tiny spam-overrun Twitter clones), and a tiny handful make it to Twitter size. You generally don't know when you're starting to talk to people through some new online system whether you are going to treat it as a long-term commitment to learning a complex system, or just some hands-on experimentation in something to be ignored and forgotten in a few weeks.

So you are a hamster, and you see a wheel. Do you get on to try it out, give yourself some exercise, or do you go to your workshop and build a better wheel?

Related articles

Twitter API changes cause obvious problems for developers
Hamsters Are Watching You

forking the cookbook

The github style of software development has, unusually, embraced the "fork" as a way of encouraging software use and reuse. Rather than being tied to a single repository owned by a single maintainer who accepts or rejects patches at their whims, you can easily fork an entire project in github and then work on it on your own. Notably this is not seen as treasonous even if it means that plans diverge.

Github is mostly about software, but there are lots of other things that lend themselves to incremental parallel development – development that doesn't have to follow the wiki model of last one in gets to edit. If you think of github (the hosting service) combined with some shared recipe archive (a la grouprecipes, the Usenet Cookbook, or whatever your favorite recipe starting place is) you're thinking about what I'm thinking.

Lots of people cook the way you'd expect, starting off from a given recipe and then branching out to accomodate the seasons, ingredients on hand, their own tastes and the tastes (picky) of their family. If I'm doing a cookbook, I want to acknowledge that someone else's mac and cheese recipe was the starter of my own but I don't want to actually edit their cookbook in writing mine.

Besides, "fork" is such an obvious name for a cookbook tool.

Duck Lake Fire, north of Newberry MI

Some sources for information on the Duck Lake Fire, which started on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 and is burning rapidly in Luce County, north of Newberry, MI. The fire is dangerous and has caused evacuations; if you are reading this and you are in the area, seek authoritative and current information from official sources.

The fire brings to mind the 2007 Sleeper Lake Fire which burned over 18,000 acres in Luce County. 

8:00 pm Wednesday, May 30 map (PDF). I'll have the image up shortly.

 At this point, the Duck Lake Fire area is 55 percent contained.

The latest estimate on structure loss is that there are 138 properties within the perimeter of the fire; 115 sites have been inspected to this point, with 23 sites remaining. Inspections are ongoing, and it is anticipated that they will be completed today. A total of 115 structures have been lost.


8:00 pm Tuesday, May 29 map. From the DNR:

The Duck Lake Fire team really needs to hear from people who have property located within the fire area (especially those property owners that may be out of state). U.P. residents call 211; all others call 800-338-1119. Please give your name, fire number and road, and contact info so we can provide updates as damage assessments are completed. (Folks who've already called and provided fire number and road name do NOT need to call again.) 


11:00 pm Sunday map: Duck Lake fire map from Sunday at 2040 (8:40 pm). Note the new dozer line at the south end of the fire, some expansion to the east, and a better detail on the western edge of the fire. The inset map now shows the fire in context relative to Newberry.


5:00 pm Sunday map: Duck Lake fire map from late Saturday night. DNR summary:

New GPS data show that the fire is now estimated to cover 20,255 acres. Forty-eight percent of the fire area is contained.

The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds. The fire is long and narrow and stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior. There are currently 40 miles of fire line. Of that fire line, 6 miles is Lake Superior shoreline, 13 miles is completed line (includes County Road 500), and 21 miles is uncontained fire line. Access is very difficult with few roads.


4:00 pm Saturday map: Duck Lake fire map from Saturday a.m. Afternoon DNR summary:

The fire is now 21,114 acres in size, having grown slightly overnight. The south end of the fire is 14 miles north of Newberry and 7 miles west from Tahquamenon Falls State Park campgrounds. The fire is long and narrow and stretches 11 miles to the north to Lake Superior. The fire area includes 6 miles of Lake Superior shoreline and 29.5 miles of uncontained fire line. Access is very difficult with few roads.


11:00 pm Friday update: new fire map, marked 5-25-2012 1200. Compared to the one below from 0530, this shows expansion of the fire along the northeast and eastern edge and a new acreage estimate of 17935 acres burned. Courtesy Michigan DNR.


National Weather Service, Marquette, MI Duck Lake Fire Decision Support Hazard page. Weather and fire maps, radar and aerial imagery, and forecasts. This is a false color MODIS image from Friday, May 25, showing the burn scar and the plume of smoke heading towards the Soo. Facebook: US NWS Marquette.

image from

Michigan DNR. Web: Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Facebook: Michigan DNR. Posted Friday, May 25:

As of 7 a.m. Friday, May 25, the Duck Lake Fire in Luce County continues to grow and is approximately 17,000 acres. Air crews are working the fire and an incident management team is on the ground. Multiple structures have been lost and others are threatened. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been notified. Updates will be posted as information becomes available.

This fire map shows the situation as of Friday a.m.

20120525_Duck_Lake_PIO_386983_7The Weather Underground's Wundermap has a fire layer for the Newberry, MI area. This clip of the map taken at 8:00 pm Friday, May 25, 2012 shows a dense smoke plume over Tahquamenon Falls. 

Picture 30
FAA NOTAM 2/4255: Flights are restricted from the surface up to 8000 feet MSL in an area near Newberry in order to "provide a safe environement for fire fighting".

image from

Local news sources:

WNBY, AM 1450 in Newberry, MI is a good source of local news if you are in the area. The 1450 WNBY Facebook page is a rallying point for community news and information.


You can Depend on Newberry's Information Leader. We're going to get an update from the 4pm DNR briefing and will have the latest on the air on 1450 WNBY and here online . Very helpful that the DNR Office is across the road from Newberry's Radio Station. If you have pictures, updates or infomation you can call us at 906-293-3221 or email Travis in our News Center at .


Soo Evening News, "Fire burns toward Chippewa Co."

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said the blaze it’s calling the Duck Lake Fire was in an area north of Newberry that includes Lake Superior State Forest land and approached Lake Superior. It was detected Wednesday after a lightning strike and intensified Thursday — burning along the tops of jack pine trees in the forest.

WLUC-TVExtremely dangerous conditions as wildfire expands to 17,000 acres

Winds shifted early Friday morning, causing 50 mile an hour wind gusts to hit the fire and change directions of the blaze.  Gary Willis, Public Information Officer for the DNR, says the east end of the fire is now the head of the fire and that there was zero containment as of Friday morning.  Officials also say that flame heights reached 200 feet in some places.


WXYZ-TV Detroit / AP, Parts of Tahquamenon Falls park closed due to fire

The DNR says if the fire continues on its current path, it will get to within one mile of the Upper Falls viewing area by Friday night. Officials urged visitors to avoid the Tahquamenon Falls area during the Memorial Day weekend.

TV 9 and 10 News, Duck Lake Fire Update live blog:

Friday 6:00 pm update: Governor Snyder declares state of disaster in Luce and Schoolcraft counties. All state resources available to support response efforts. Snyder also issued Executive Order 2012-8 activating the National Guard to provide assistance. A hotline has been established for the public to check for status updates, call 855-440-6424 for the latest information.

 Fox 11, Wildfire in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Aerial photography, credited to the Michigan DNR, of the fire scenes.

image from