Salmon, Avocado, and Cucumber Makizushi (Sushi Roll)

Finally did it. I’ve had this on my list of annual things to do since 2008: learn how to make sushi. Toughest part was finding a bamboo mat! For our sushi roll, we looked at (classic roll recipe) and used our own desired filling (salmon, avocado, and cucumber). Rather than rewrite all the instructions, I’ll provide some of our own hints:

  • Drink sake. It’s really really good. We had ours chilled.
  • Let the sticky rice cool before rubbing it on the nori.
  • Using the bamboo mat, roll it really tight while making sure the filling doesn’t fly out the ends.
  • Wipe (with paper towel) and wet (with hot water) your knife after every cut (or every few cuts).
  • Be creative with the filling. We started with a simple combo but after two rolls, realized we were pros and graduated to a philly spiced roll (added cream cheese and chili powder).
  • Make some extra and take it to work. That was a really good lunch on Monday…

That’s about it. It was pretty damn easy looking back, so give it a go!

All About The Number 100

In celebration of my 100th post coming earlier this week, I figured I would discuss the number 100!!! I know, what a way to celebrate…


The number of yards in a football field.
The minimum number of yards for a par 3 hole in golf.
The number of years in a century.
The number of cents in a dollar (or pence in a pound sterling)
The boiling temperature of water at sea level, in Celsius.
The atomic number of fermium which is made by blasting plutonium with neutrons (named after the great nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi).
The number of senators in the United States Senate.
The number of tiles in a standard Scrabble set.
The basis for percentages (100% represents wholeness, purity, and perfection).
In China, tradition holds that the naming of a newborn panda must wait until the cub is 100 years old.
Pythagoreans considered 100 as divinely divine because it is the square (10^2) of the divine decad (10).
Nostradamus’ work titled “Centuries” contains 10 chapters of 100 verses each.
There are 100 squares in the 10×10 Euler (Latin or Graeco-Roman) Square. A Latin square consists of sets of the numbers 0 to 9 arranged in such a way that no orthogonal (row or column) contains the same number twice. See the image above for an example of a colorful Gaeco-Roman Square for n=10 (the capability for which was discovered by E.T. Parker of Remington Rand in 1959, disproving earlier Eulerian conjectures that a 10×10 square was impossible).

In Language

“Cem” – Portuguese
“Cent” – French
“Cento” – Italian
“Cien” – Spanish
“Honderd” – Dutch
“Hundert” – German
“Hundra” – Swedish
“Hundre” – Norwegian
“Hundred” – English
“Hundrede” – Danish
“Hyaku” – Japanese
“Miyya” – Arabic
“Sad” – Farsi
“Sada” – Estonian
“Sata” – Finnish
“Sto” – Croatian, Czech, Polish
“Száz” – Hungarian
“Yibai” – Chinese
“Yüz” – Turkish

Note: “Cent” is the largest number in the French language that is in alphabetical order. And funny enough, when you spell out 2*5*10=100 in French, it’s all in alphabetical order too! (deux*cinq*dix=cent)

A Mathematical Investigation

100 = 2^2 * 5^2 (factorization of 100)
100 = (1 + 2 + 3 + 4)^2
100 = 1^3 + 2^3 + 3^3 + 4^3 = 1 + 8 + 27 + 64
100 = The sum of the first nine prime numbers (2+3+5+7+11+13+17+19+23)
100 = The sum of four pairs of prime numbers (47+53, 17+83, 3+97, 41+59)
100 = The sum of the first ten odd numbers (1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 + 11 + 13 + 15 + 17 + 19)
100 = 2^6 + 6^2 making it a Leyland Number.
100 can be expressed as a sum of some of its divisors making it a semi-perfect number.
100 is divisible by the number of primes below it (25) making it a polygonal number.
100 is divisible by the sum of its digits (in both base 10 and base 4) making it a Harshad Number.
100 is the 854th to 856th digits of pi.
100 is the 3036th to 3038th digits of phi.

In numerology, 100 equals “I LOVE WISDOM TRUTH BEAUTY”
(9) + (3 + 6 + 4 + 5) + (2 + 5 + 1 + 3 + 2 + 7) + (5 + 9 + 1 + 4 + 6 + 4)

Sources / Links

a simple estimation of height

Geometry is useful for more than just passing the sixth grade.

In October, I posted on estimation as an essential analytical tool to have today (and more importantly, tomorrow). It’s useful for scheduling, planning, purchasing, and other decision-making circumstances. Well here’s a quick and easy geometric technique for estimating the height of very large things. All you need is an intermediate height of reference (perhaps a friend) and your eyes.

For this example, I will use a friend as my intermediate point of reference and a large building as the object for which I wish to estimate the height.

Line up your friend between you and the building. Your friend should be positioned so that when your eyes (A) are as close as possible to the ground, the top of your friend’s head (C) lines up with the top of the building (E). You’re essentially creating the hypotenuse of a large triangle!

Now, let’s label and identify the other parts of our picture.

Here are our labels.

Given this picture, geometry tells us that certain relationships exist.

Therefore, three easy estimations must be made in order to get the estimated height of the building (y):

       w = the distance between you and your friend
       x = the distance between you and the building
       z =  the height of your friend 

NOTE: Be sure to use the same units in your estimations (feet or yards, perhaps) or else your calculation will not work. 

Once you have those three values, just leave the rest to geometry. You have basically created one right triangle inside another right triangle, assuming the building and your friend are both standing up straight. Therefore they have equal angles and therefore equal ratios of their legs, allowing us to make this simple calculation. The result:

Math is fun, right? 🙂

a couple of great commercials

Two great commercials for two different reasons.

In a time when 99.99% of all commercials are excessively loud, irrelevant, and annoying, it’s nice to find two that are creatively fun (and productive). Some businesses should take a lesson.

American Express: Simple, creative, and soft.

State Farm: Quick, funny, and catchy.

perfects, primes, and planets

a simple poem with a significant end
get the result, and perhaps you’re a friend
so riddle me this, riddle me that,
use pen and paper and your best thinking cap…

let’s start you off, here’s one for the money
in chinese it’s death, unlucky but funny

the seventh fibonacci should be easy to see
but if that’s too hard then take two to the three

now keep the dwarf in the orbital loop,
give me a count of our planetary group

a champion of numbers, a winner of sort,
when one has won and they’re top of their sport

then something to fathom, the star is divine
or give me a width of a vitruvian kind

now how bout a gimme, a favorite of mine
this one’s the one only even prime

and last but not least, i hope you’re awake
the first perfect is this keplerian snowflake

now put them together, from bottom to top
a day in my life – big thanks, mom and pop!

make your own ringtone

Make a ringtone from any mp3 file in iTunes in under a minute.

Personal Note: I say keep it on vibrate most of the time out of politeness for the general public, but use the ringtones for your morning alarm!

1. In iTunes, find the song from which you want to make a ringtone. Write down the interval of time you wish to capture (e.g. the chorus from 1:13 to 1:27).

2. Right-click on the mp3 file and select ‘Get Info’.

3. Go to the tab for ‘Options’, check the boxes for ‘Start Time’ and ‘End Time’, and input the interval you wish to capture in your ringtone. Hit ‘OK’.

4. With that mp3 file still highlighted, go up top to the ‘Advanced’ menu and select ‘Create AAC Version’. This will automatically create a new file in your library (and it should have a length equal to the interval you set previously).

5. Drag and drop this new AAC file to your desktop. It should have a .m4a extension.

6. Change the extension of this file from “.m4a” to “.m4r”.

7. Drag this file from your desktop back into iTunes. It should now be available in your ‘Ringtones’ library on the left. If you don’t see this library, got to Preferences and make sure you have checked the box to show this library in your iTunes.

8. Lastly, you can delete the file on your desktop, and can delete the AAC version of the song in your iTunes music library. Also, remember to change the original mp3 file back to the normal start and end times (just unclick the boxes).

9. Sync your iPhone/ringtones and you’re good to go.

Reference: eHow

official st. calzone’s day 2010 announcement

And here we are, only five months away from another spectacular spring celebration of friends, food, and fun! I would now like to officially announce the date for the Seventh Annual St. Calzone’s Day celebration:

Saturday, March 20th, 2010
The venue is TBD, although, due to the great success of last year, there is currently a high probability that it will take place in Arlington, Virginia once again. The menu is by no means set, but I can promise there will be food and it will be good. I don’t think we’ll make another 15 pans of food, but will probably get some catered dishes supplemented by some homemade St. Calzone’s Day favorites: Spider Potatoes, Sausage, Peppers, and Onions, Beef Cutlets, Stuffed Shells,…
Anyways, mark your calendars for 3/20/2010 and I hope to see everyone for another great celebration!
With Sauce and Cheese,

ranking cereals

I just bought my first box of cereal in a while. At the grocery store, an entire side of an aisle was completely filled with cold cereal – every brand and flavor and shape and color you could imagine. Very nice variety for a common breakfast food and afternoon snack – a lot more than I remember.

I really wish I could see some data on which cereals do best for which age groups, during which months of the year, and purchased at what time of day. It’d be interesting to compare marketing campaigns too. Does anyone buy the big box of Kelloggs Smacks cereal? I didn’t think so.

Anyways, all this got me thinking… what are the qualities of a good cereal? Would the output of a cereal ranking algorithm be similar to my instinctive ranking of cereals? Let’s find out.

Here are the parameters by which I scored a list of 26 different cereals, including 3 hot cereals:
Healthiness – Sugary cereals, chocolate cereals, etc. If they leave the milk tasting like melted ice cream, chances are it’s not too healthy. (1=Healthy, 2=Intermediate healthiness, 3=Not healthy)
Texture – Everyone loves a crunch. I’m not talking the texture that hurts your gums when you eat it dry, but the texture where pieces clump nicely in the spoon and are accepting to a big chomp. (1=Great texture, 2=Okay texture, 3=Boring texture)
Fun Factor – The box, the games, the toys, the colors, the shapes, the mascots, the commercials, etc. (1=Very fun cereal, 2=Intermediate fun, 3=Not very fun)
Good w/ Fruit – For me, this is key. I enjoy adding banana, strawberries, and/or blueberries to my cereal. (1=Good with fruit, 2=Not good with fruit)
Needs Sugar – Despite it’s probable inherent healthiness, if it’s bland, it stinks. If you have to add sugar to make it hit the spot, we have to drop its ranking. (1=Does not need sugar, 2=Needs sugar)

Scores were summed up across all parameters. The cereals were then sorted from lowest score to highest score to retrieve the final ranking of cereals. As a note, the ‘Good w/ Fruit’ and ‘Needs Sugar’ fields were weighted slightly lower than the other three by simply giving them a lower maximum score of 2 versus a 3. You’ll also notice no column for ‘Flavor’. It’s too hard for me to score based on flavor as that is pretty mood-dependent, and hopefully that information is covered by the other columns anyways.

Note: Lower score is better.

6 – Crispix
7 – Honey Bunches of Oats
8 – Cinnamon Toast Crunch
8 – Frosted Flakes
8 – Life / Cinnamon Life
9 – Captain Crunch
9 – Froot Loops
9 – Fruity/Cocoa Pebbles
9 – Lucky Charms
9 – Trix
9 – Rice/Cocoa Krispies
9 – Cheerios (all types)
10 – Cocoa Puffs
10 – Oatmeal (non-instant)
10 – Cream of Rice
10 – Cream of Wheat
10 – Raisin Bran
10 – Special K
11 – Apple Jacks
11 – Corn Pops
11 – Golden Grahams
11 – Kix / Berry Berry Kix
11 – Cookie Crisp
11 – Honeycomb
11 – Frosted Mini-Wheats
11 – Wheaties

Full Data


The results are interesting, but still expected. You’ll notice that the fun and texture of the fruity cereals clusters them in the middle, dragged down by their lack of healthiness. Only a few cereals really get to the top of the list, and I’m delighted to see Crispix and Honey Bunches of Oats up there (and next to Cinnamon Toast Crunch which is probably the best flavor). With some cut banana and/or berries, those first two are the most satisfying cereals, down to drinking the last drop of milk. Finally, we see the hot cereals in the middle of the pack as well, high on health but low on fun and texture.

I acknowledge that this list is not comprehensive. For example, it has been pointed out to me that I am missing Raisin Bran Crunch which is a pretty popular cereal of choice these days. I also forgot Clusters / Honey Nut Clusters which I was huge on for a while as a kid. Whoops!

I also acknowledge there is some bias built into this scoring, as what I believe is “fun” or “good texture” is different from what you will think is “fun” or “good texture”. However, it’s a quick algorithm that you could apply to anything to help understand not only the elements being measured but also about the person doing the measuring.

Oh, and if you were wondering, I bought Honey Bunches of Oats.

skipping stones with souls

i did not think i would make it that far.
3 years, 7 months, and 12 days exact
i slugged the sea you where mindlessly bathe
and trudged the land you so carelessly step.

my voyage enduring, but mind at ease,
i longed for new life – something different? perhaps.
with shell in high gear i trekked the slopes,
when stuck to a rock i never lost hope.

but here you come, you stupid beast of man
thinking i’m small and a crumb of your earth,
a pebble perhaps? i’ll skip him to sea!
wave me goodbye with no thought for my soul.

just a snail i am? well, yes i may be,
but i’m coming back, in three years you’ll see!

bogeys and birdies

Sports are great because they are all so unique. The rules, methods, people, challenges, results, rewards, feelings, and takeaways are all different depending on what you’re playing, who you’re playing with, and the level at which you are playing it.

Although I don’t play it nearly as much as I wish I could, I find golf to be one of the most intriguing and rewarding experiences. Here’s why:

The Pace – Slow and relaxing, there’s plenty of time to think about each shot and take in the surroundings.
The Science – Angles, calculations, rolls, spins, trajectories, and slopes all make it a mind game as much as it is a physical one.

The Atmosphere – With the aura around the clubhouse, concentration on each individual shot, and the interaction with nature, it’s always refreshing and relaxing.
The Landscape – The surroundings are always different with so many possibilities with weather, time, and season. Even on some cheaper public courses, the hills, trees, and sand always make an invigorating, lively piece of art and nature.
The Anticipation – Every shot might be the best shot. I sometimes freeze myself up before hitting a 8 or 9 iron because I begin to think I’m lined up so perfectly that I’m going to sink it. Then I’m already thinking about my reaction if I sink it. Then I can’t shoot at all and need to re-think my shot all over again. It’s a fun cycle of anticipation and anxiety.
The Goosebumps – Phil jumping after sinking his putt on 18 at the 2004 Masters. Tiger’s chip-in on 16 at the 2005 Masters. Goosebumps every time.

The Party – You can’t beat golfing with good friends… having good conversation, a good opportunity to meet new people, a good opportunity to build relationships, and a good opportunity to enjoy some beers, dogs, seeds, and cigars.
The Luck – I’m convinced that it’s not a purely mechanical game. There are some things you cannot calculate, such as the wind 75 yards away and 100 feet up or the surface moisture or dead spot 10 yards from the green. Therefore the rest of the game is filled in by luck – good bounces, rolls, gusts, and magical forces.
The Rules – It’s a game of honor, patience, and etiquette, and therefore helps guide life lessons. Noonan

The Unattainable – One always can improve. There is always more to learn, and every game is different. It never gets old and tomorrow is a new day. No one has ever hit an ace or eagle on every hole and that should make you strive to keep playing and improving. Most people have never hit an ace, and that alone gets me out there with excitement each time.

I’ll end with the best advice on golf I’ve received, from my cousin Kenny… Go through the same routine before and during every shot. Same steps, thoughts, swings, pauses, breaths, and time. With consistency comes improvement (and more manageable mistakes).
The Zen philosopher Basho once wrote, “A flute with no holes is not a flute. A donut with no hole is a danish.”
Photo 1: My whacked out swing at Rock Creek Golf Course, great photography from Benny T.
Photo 2: East Potomac (Blue) Golf Course on 5/30/2009, with my favorite tree in the world in world in front (Japanese Red Maple) and a nice Weeping Willow in the back left.