Day 65: Plums and a Guitar Pick

There’s a very old plum tree in our yard, which produces excellent and tasty golden plums. Last year, the tree produced so many plums that we made 80 jars of jam before we decided to stop.

This year it looks like there are almost twice as many. That’s just trouble.


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Next weekend is Plum Day! We’re going to invite nieces and nephews over and out them to work.

Today my muse and I are doing a private mini plum-day, just making a few jars from some plums which are ready. Picking the plums is easy. The tree throws them at you, ripe and ready for eating.

It takes about five plums to make a jar of jam. You cut them up, weigh them…


…add pectin, boil and stir, add sugar, boil and stir…

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…and then the boiling jam gets poured into jars, and there’s a lid-sealing-inversion process, and you’re done.

Here are the first six jars from this year’s batch! These will keep for years, unless they all get eaten, which is the plan. Everyone at Plum Day will take home some jam.


There are so many plums that we start to get creative. My muse makes a great tart, but this year she’s trying something new as well.

When Joshua’s mom visited from Singapore last year, she brought us some terrific star anise, along with a ton of other tasty spices. My muse is using the star anise to make some big jars of spiced plums. She’s got a secret recipe for everything.

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I think they’re beautiful, and they’re going to be ultra-tasty for sure.

After we’re done, my muse heads out to tea with Alyssa (who just moved back from Hawaii) and Manisha (who’s just moved to India) for some girl-time.

Random assertion: The world..

> Wait wait not so fast! What about the concert?

Oh right, Secret Plan 162.

It didn’t go at all as I expected. The robot might have worked, but as I was sitting there testing it, something came up just at that moment on the ticket site. Two seats, front row, and the price is good, but they’re waaaaaay over on the side. Still, not bad, so I got them.

At least it’s near the emergency exit.

But wait… what’s this? The Mountain Winery (if you haven’t seen a concert here, I’d recommend it) rebuilt their whole concert area just a week ago, and the seating plan has changed. …so it turns out those seat numbers are actually here, in the new layout:

Holy moley, she’s going to freak.

And the show is tonight.

So there we are. I didn’t even tell her about our seats until we sat in them.

She did get to meet him, and it turns out he’s a really nice guy. Heck, after meeting him in person, I can see why she likes him so much. Friendly and high class. And even I can tell he’s hot.

She also swiped his guitar pick, and got him to sign her tank top (watch those hands mister).

If he wants that guitar pick back, he’s going to have to come ask her for it.

Cleverness: 5%
Luck: 168,000%
…but I still get the credit and the thank-you kiss. That worked.

Secret Plan 162 is complete, and a success.

Random assertion: The world is physically shaped by the questions we ask. To test this, ask a lot of questions and see what happens.

Steganographic data: 1840/3.5

Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 10:57 am  Comments (3)  
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Day 64: The Raven and the Shape of Luck

Note: The author would like to apologize in advance for any brain damage caused by this blog entry.

Today’s filled with things I’m not at liberty to photograph or discuss. So… time to uncover another Secret Plan!

That’s strange. None of the secret plans call for a giant raven, but he’s here anyway. Better find out what he wants.

Secret Plan 162: A really big surprise for my muse

Of course she has a boyfriend. Like most girls, she has a lot of them. This one’s a famous musician, and he’s coming to San Francisco on tour.

(They haven’t actually met, so it’s not clear that he knows about the relationship.)

So, SP162 (which was started a few months ago) is this: Attempt to use cleverness and luck to obtain front-row seats for a Chris Isaak concert.

I also considered using persistence, but persistence and forgetfulness don’t work well together.

Polarized sunglasses, on the other hand, will come in handy.

Stage Left: Cleverness

Of the people who have the front-row seats already, there are likely to be three types:

  • Type L: “Chris is my love, and if you go anywhere near my front-row tickets you’ll wake up in traction.”

I know better than to interfere with this person.
Besides, I’ve been in traction already.

  • Type X: “Chris who? I’m here for money. My heart is blackened by evil, my childhood is forgotten, and I’m going to use your emotions like a crowbar to betray everything your wallet believes in.”

My wallet believes it’s not fat enough to please this person.

  • Type R: “Shoot, I was really looking forward to this show, but now I can’t go. I don’t want them to go unused, so I’d better charge less than the scalpers, to make sure they sell. I’m basically a happy person, and I hope whoever gets them has a good time and makes lots of points with his muse.”

This is the person I’m looking to make contact with. Is that too optimistic?

Right. This plan is so full of holes I almost didn’t bother giving it a number.

So you can see the biggest problem already:

  • Assuming a Type R even exists (pretty optimistic already), the moment they post the tickets, they’re going to get taken by an L or an X immediately. Either way, I’ll never get them.

I could camp out in front of the computer all day and hit the “refresh” button on my browser a lot, but that doesn’t make for an interesting vacation. Besides, after the first hour it feels creepy.

What a dumb idea. Who made up this plan?

Maybe that part can be automated. You know those human challenge tests ticket sellers use to foil plans like this?

It turns out that some of the online ticket sites don’t use them while you’re just browsing. So hypothetically, if someone were to create a robot which just browses, and doesn’t try to buy, it could hypothetically browse all day and send that hypothetical person a text message if it finds anything interesting.

Yikes, maybe not a text message. What if it malfunctioned? (Bzzz)

Stage Right: Luck

There are three shows, and about a dozen front-row seats. So say 36 people, three categories… it’ll never work.

Good thing I’m not relying on cleverness.

Wild Tangent: Here’s what polarized sunglasses have to do with luck.

(Warning: I learned to rocket off on wild tangents from you-know-who. They’re the masters.)
(Warning: This is not science. It’s interpretation and philosophy. If you do the experiment, and see that I’m right, then it’s science.)

If you send randomly-polarized photons (sunlight, for example) one at a time through a polarizer, then you can hold the polarizer at any angle you like, and each photon has a 50/50 shot at getting through.

The polarization filter is really just a yes/no question. “Is that photon polarized at exactly this angle?”

Here’s the odd part: If the photon makes it through, then the answer is “yes” and its polarization matches exactly the direction of the filter, and as far as anyone can tell, it was already at that angle before it hit the filter.

…which could be interpreted in this way:

  • The world is physically shaped by the questions you ask. By asking the right yes/no question now, you can change the angle at which the light was emitted, even if that was before you asked.

It’s just a different way of looking at the same data.

The polarization of a photon is a really small question. Does the same idea hold for bigger questions, like the availability of concert tickets? Asking that at a physicist’s cocktail party is bound to start a fight.

So I came up with a good question. Nice and direct. Anyway, all of the dice were cast a few weeks ago.

> So? What happened? Did it work or not?

Well, it didn’t go anything like I expected, that’s for sure. More details tomorrow.

Random assertion: From the photon’s point of view, the beginning and end of the journey are the same event.

Steganographic data: 1858/1.8

Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 1:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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