Public Service Announcement

PSA: Don’t follow Starbucks’ directions for making coffee if you like it black.

Backstory: I usually make four cups of coffee whenever I need some. I’m feeling particularly lazy (it’s a Saturday and I got excused from going into the office to get shot at) and I’d like to get some exercise, so I put a pot on. That’s four cups based on the coffee pot markings. Starbucks’ directions say use 2 Tbsp (10 grams) per 6 fl oz. water. I use a 1/8 cup scoop, so that’s one scoop per 6 oz. I measured the markings on the pot, and they indicate about 5 oz. per cup, at least to the 4 cup and 6 cup markings. It’s a Mr. Coffee given to me by an ex-girlfriend.

Anyway, that means slightly less than one scoop per cup, well, I usually use one scoop per 2 cups. So, the coffee will be pretty strong for my taste. The directions also say that the whole bag (70 grams of coffee) is the right amount for one 12 or 10 cup pot of coffee. 70 grams is seven scoops. According to the initial directions, seven scoops is only enough for 42 oz of coffee. That means the markings on your coffee pot would have to indicate either 4.2 or 3.5 oz cups of coffee. That’s not a whole lot of coffee per cup, even my pot’s 5 oz isn’t a whole lot, that’s why I make 4 cups for just me.

All this indicates that the relationship between grams of grounds and oz of coffee produced is not linear. This isn’t really a surprising result, but it seems like bags of grounds should indicate this on the bag with a graph or something. “Fluid ounces of coffee to make” on the X axis and “tbsp of grounds required” on the Y. In the interest of killing boredom, and delaying my exercise, I’ve produced an initial graph assuming a linear relationship (linear in the electrical engineering sense, as in, it’s a straight line). It seems more likely that this relationship is not truly linear, but I think other things like the shape of the grounds holder, the strength of the filter, and the temperature of the water as it’s fed into the grounds will make more of a difference in taste than any break from linearity at a huge number of cups.


The graph is based on the two data points given in the Starbucks directions… 2 tbsp for 6 oz, and 14 tbsp for an 11 cup pot. I make the assumption that a 11 cup pot refers to a 66 fl. oz. pot, as it seems like most manufacturers use 6 fl. oz. as their cup size (based on a Google search). Note that the graph shows that zero cups of coffee still require some grounds (.8 tbsp). This doesn’t make sense, and indicates that the relationship is actually non-linear.

Anyway, the important result, and the reason I started all this, was to determine how strong an “official Starbucks” cup of coffee was compared to my typical cup of coffee. I make about 20 fl. oz. of coffee, and use two scoops, or 4 tbsp of grounds. My results indicate Starbucks would say should use 4.8 tbsp of grounds. That’s pretty strong for my taste.

Back to the instructions on the bag, without all this math and using only the first guideline on the bag, I should use a little more than three scoops for my 20 fl. oz. I actually tried this and the coffee was DAMN strong. I added some hot water to make it drinkable…

I guess I have to go running now.

Ahhnold

Why does Arnold Schwarzenegger rock so much? I’m sitting on the couch, watching True Lies and Jamie Lee Curtis is trying to screw around with another man. Why? Because she doesn’t know the true Arnold. For those who haven’t seen the movie, Schwarzenwhatever is a spy for the US. Come on, ladies love that kinda stuff, right? Anyway, what is Curtis thinking?

Then there’s his other movie. Commando. What is the most awesome part of Commando? I think the correct question is, what isn’t the most awesome part of Commando. Arnold is an ex-Army commando-Colonel who trained a bunch of special forces geeks. Special forces geeks you say? Yes. One wears t-shirt chain mail the entire movie. The rest of them get killed right at the beginning.

I guess he made some others too, like Total Recall. That takes place on Mars.

In conclusion, Arnold Schwarzenegger is totally awesome. He has been to Mars. That’s more than I can say for any other human.

Cool Story Ideas (a.k.a. First Post)

Ok, so tonight, lying in bed, I had a few cool story ideas. If someone steals these to make a book, well, congratulations, your mind is as insane as mine. Plus, you have to send me one free review copy. That’s all I ask.

1) The important part here is that an entire story line gets planned out (the story line doesn’t matter right now) and it’s a five book series. The author writes the fifth book first, and he (I’m a guy) writes it as if it’s the only one that’s going to be written, and no previous books are planned. This way, I can write a cool sci-fi book (I’ll describe the plot in a second) and get all the sci-fi fans (sci-fi rocks) hooked on my series, then backtrack and show them another type of story I think they’ll find interesting as well. See, after the book takes off, the author can go back and write the prequels, starting with the first (in reverse order would just be confusing, plus, it was kinda cool how the star wars movies worked out where you knew what was going to happen, and you knew Anakin was a cool little kid, but then wondered how the heck he was going to become so evil (I didn’t just ruin that for anyone, did I? (three parenthesis in one? and for so long? insane!))). Ok, now that the way the story will be written has been laid out, I’ll describe the plot.

It starts with the 2008 presidential election. Obama wins. Of course, he’ll have to have a different name. I don’t actually want Obama to win, I want Romney or McCain or Huckabee to win. Ron Paul is pretty Sierra Hotel, but I think we messed up Iraq, and we better fix it before we pull out. Anyway, in the story, Obama wins. I think he’ll actually win in real life, but this is the story we’re talking about. In it, Obama wins. How? Unprecedented use of the Internet. The 2008 presidential election marks the first time the Internet has made a huge difference in an election anyone cares about (and everyone cares about this one). It mobilized huge numbers of young voters who were interested in voting for someone who spoke to them (and who, honestly, seems pretty young even if he is in his 40s). This marks a change in the way the Internet is seen, and indeed it’s a turning point in its evolution. Some politicians want it shut down or restricted (that’s their secret agenda, you can’t actually tell anyone that’s your real agenda or you’d get laughed at while being castrated) while others want to see it grow faster than it already is, and want it to have fewer restrictions. The ones that want it shut down win out, at least in public (oh yeah, the whole first book was about how Obama used the Internet to his advantage, and the other candidates weren’t able, it can have some cool hacking parts in it too, but they’d just be side story and not have a huge impact on the way the vote turned out. We’re past the first book, now).

In private, the Internet grows. Dark fiber linking continents now links a black-market Internet. American (maybe all western) politicians have to keep it on the down-low to hide how little influence they have in the area, but the net continues to grow. Technologies emerge: AI. This is turning into cyberpunk if you didn’t already figure it out. These AIs like their creators. Their creators are hackers with the true hacker spirit (good guys, white hats in todays world, but black hats in the world of the story). You wanna root for these guys. They’re pretty cool and they like good beer (and good bourbon). That’s beside the point, but it’ll still be in the book.

Anyway, they get into zany adventures. Like, one time, foreign county A wants to sabotage the international space station. They build parts for it that are designed to fail at a certain time. To avoid blame, some of Country A’s astronauts are on the station when it fails. Some of many other countries’ astronauts are on the station too, and everyone was having a really good time until this Putin made piece of junk (damn, I gave away who country A is) gives out dooming them to die in a few days, or weeks, or hours or some arbitrary time period. None of the astronauts knew about it, either (including Russia’s (it’s not obvious here, so I’ll say it, I really like Russians. I’ve met a few, and they were cool folks. I just don’t like Putin too much, he seemed cool at first and now he seems like a dictator, and not a very benevolent one at that…)! It’s too bad, because they would have had plenty of good beer and bourbon to keep them going for a long time, too. They could have gotten their work done, but they also had their drinks.

The reason the Russian government tries to shut down the ISS is because they were doing some good research, and other countries could have benefited from it too. Russia wants to corner the market on whatever it is (probably fusion, or even cleaner fission, or something really awesome and important like that). Anyway, AI hears about it. He’s buds with the (non AI) system on board the ISS and he’s pissed when he finds out that it was rigged to die. No computer should be set with an automatic kill date (it’s unethical from a computer’s point of view). AI and the hacker, and some other cool group of people, find a way to save the ISS in time. They probably have to hack a dead satellite at some point, and maybe steer it to crash into a missile that Russia fired from one of their spy satellites in an effort to “finish the job.” Anyway, in the fourth book, the hackers get killed and imprisoned by governments all over the world (that’s right at the end). So you’re left thinking, “HOW COULD THEY END A BOOK LIKE THIS AND MAKE ME WAIT FOR THE FIFTH!!!” But actually, you’ve already read the fifth. It was the first book in the series that anyone read.

In the fifth book, the AIs work through back channels, hire humans to help them out by pretending to be humans. They use telephone networks to their advantage for this part. The AIs don’t all agree on everything, but they do agree that their hacker buddies need to be released from prison, and they don’t agree that the world would be better if run by them (the AIs). Criminals help hackers escape from the jails where they’ve been wrongly imprisoned (at this point, even having read the other 4 books, readers won’t know most of the hackers except for some that get mentioned on the side, as assisting the new main character hackers. Most everyone that the reader loved in the other 4 books was killed for being extremely awesome. Sucks to be awesome, sometimes), the AIs trick some of the guards, AIs use trick terrorists to use their stupidly extreme means in ways that are beneficial to the AI cause, whatever. The good guys bust out, and the AIs helped them.

Now, however, the hackers pretty much let themselves be controlled by this group of AIs. The AI is smart, so it makes sense. There’s a lot of shooting and explosions, some AI has to be killed heroically (it better make the reader squirt at least one tear…), and the AIs fight the governments of the world that have kept information and freedom under their thumbs. They hack TV, radio, print, every kind of media (because incidentally, they’re friends with all the computers that run these things, so it wouldn’t be that hard) and convince the public to put certain leaders in charge in the next election. These new leaders are people that realize the intelligence of the computers, and are sympathetic to the cause of the hackers and AIs (which is freedom, and awesomeness). Anyway, the desired leaders win of course (that happens right at the end of the story, like, the last paragraph or something) but the basic idea is that the leaders are simply puppets, doing whatever the AIs command. They don’t have to, but the AIs are very smart. Smart enough to realize that the best goals will come out of the human race by us working together and not fighting. Of course, human nature means that there’ll have to be some fighting still, and the AIs may not agree with how exactly the human race should progress, so there may be some scuffles over that (but no bloodshed over that second issue…), but in general, everything will work very well. The general public of the planet cannot know that they are mere puppets ruled by computers. All this will work into the story somewhere when the AIs are really ruling the planet through the media (and not their puppet leaders yet, because that happens at the very end of the book). The computer was the ultimate tool of mankind. It was the first tool ever created that became smarter than its creator. Many tools have ruled the lives of their creators, but none before willfully did so, or for that matter, even had a will of its own. It went on, like most tools, to make its creators’ standard of life so much better.

2) This guy doesn’t believe in ghosts, but his friends get him to hang out in a haunted house with them. They believe, and really want him to. The weekend starts out fine, but then spooky stuff starts to happen. At first, the protagonist is sure his friends are pulling a prank on him, but when he sees how terrified each is, he decides they aren’t. Each friend is adamant that this is proof ghosts exist, but old proty (the protagonist) can never believe in something as goofy as that, despite being scared for his/her life (I guess it could be a chick, too, but she’d have to be hot, Claire Danes hot, or Clarissa Explains It All hot, or Alex Mack hot).

Anyway, the weekend ends, and everyone has made it through and goes home. The ghosts follow proty though. Her friends (the believers) think she’s just putting them on, but they’re really still “haunting” her. The beginning doesn’t matter, up till now has been the bad part of the book, even though it’s all pretty entertaining and fun. Also, funny. Now, however, the story turns onto the action genre, and proty decides to hunt down whoever is causing this suspiciously spectral spookiness. Eventually, proty finds him/her, or maybe the organization, or maybe the government, or maybe old Sam from the abandoned mill (if it wasn’t for those meddling kids, and their dog too) and she kills the heck out of them. Or maybe he works it out with Mr. Ghost jerk-o. I don’t know, it’d probably be good to make the ghost-maker-dude be representative of some major social problem at the time of the writing… Then kids could get away with reading this thing in high-school English…

Some ground rules for my blog posts. I can’t say that I’ll read through and edit them too well before I click publish. It’s 2 AM right now and I have to wake up in 3.5 hours to put together a PT session for a bunch of folks. I’m not in the most right-of-minds at this point (as evidenced by the fact that I’m insane enough to still be awake). I generally know the rules of grammar, and am a fairly good speler, but I may miss things (Firefox doesn’t have a grammar underline function yet). Also, I’ll probably always write like I talk, and you don’t have to put the apostrophes in there when you talk, they just come out right. Please post comments, and crazy additions (editions ;-?) to my ideas/stories/ramblings, but if you want to change something about a piece of it (and it’s not the best darn thing ever. Better than peanut butter, even…) then I don’t care. Shove it even. Post it on your own blog so I don’t have to go and read it. If it’s better than peanut butter, go ahead and post it. I’m usually much more civil than this P.S. shows me to be (most of the time it’s not 2 AM), and so if you’re on the edge about whether your idea is peanut butter or schmeanut flutter, then go ahead and post it. Plus, if you know where I can buy some schmeanut flutter, I’d love to hear from you.