Books for Christmas: The Roasted Vegetable

My mom gave us this book over the holidays, and it's incredible.  We're part of both the Poughkeepsie Farm Project and the Winter Sun CSA.  This means that right now we've got lots of bags of root vegetables and squash.  Beets, Potatoes, Rutabagas, Turnips, Sweet Potatoes, Acorn Squash, Butternut Squash, Hubbard Squash.  Last winter we never quite got into the groove on the winter vegetables, so a lot of them went to waste.

But not this year.  In the 5 days since we've had this book Susan's made 2 recipes: a beet, turnip, squash, an onion roast mixed with goat cheese and pasta; sweet potato wedges.  Both were great.  As we flipped through this book nearly every page has something that you are just dying to try.  My mom didn't let the book out of her sight in Vermont until she managed to copy out a few recipes for herself.

So, if you are trying to figure out how to use vegetables in some new and tasty ways, especially ones you don't normally cook, I can highly suggest this book.

Who knew that timezone history could be so compelling

I finally decided to find the base zoneinfo files that all timezone data in computing is computed from.  It turns out that the uncompiled files have an incredible amount of history embedded in them, including a number of really interesting stories.  Here are some exceprts:

# From Paul Eggert (2001-05-30):
# Howse writes that Alaska switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar,
# and from east-of-GMT to west-of-GMT days, when the US bought it from Russia.
# This was on 1867-10-18, a Friday; the previous day was 1867-10-06 Julian,
# also a Friday.  Include only the time zone part of this transition,
# ignoring the switch from Julian to Gregorian, since we can't represent
# the Julian calendar.


# Since 1970, most of Indiana has been like America/Indiana/Indianapolis,
# with the following exceptions:
# - Gibson, Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, Porter, Posey, Spencer,
#   Vandenburgh, and Warrick counties have been like America/Chicago.
# - Dearborn and Ohio counties have been like America/New_York.
# - Clark, Floyd, and Harrison counties have been like
#   America/Kentucky/Louisville.
# - Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Knox, Martin, Perry, Pike, Pulaski, Starke,
#   and Switzerland counties have their own time zone histories as noted below.
# Shanks partitioned Indiana into 345 regions, each with its own time history,
# and wrote Even newspaper reports present contradictory information.''
# Those Hoosiers!  Such a flighty and changeable people!
# Fortunately, most of the complexity occurred before our cutoff date of 1970.
# Other than Indianapolis, the Indiana place names are so nondescript
# that they would be ambiguous if we left them at the America' level.
# So we reluctantly put them all in a subdirectory


# Shanks writes that Michigan started using standard time on 1885-09-18,
# but Howse writes (pp 124-125, referring to Popular Astronomy, 1901-01)
# that Detroit kept
#    local time until 1900 when the City Council decreed that clocks should
#    be put back twenty-eight minutes to Central Standard Time.  Half the
#    city obeyed, half refused.  After considerable debate, the decision
#    was rescinded and the city reverted to Sun time.  A derisive offer to
#    erect a sundial in front of the city hall was referred to the
#    Committee on Sewers.  Then, in 1905, Central time was adopted
#    by city vote.
# This story is too entertaining to be false, so go with Howse over Shanks.

What's also kind of interesting is the time offsets prior to standardization

# Zone    NAME        GMTOFF    RULES    FORMAT    [UNTIL]
Zone America/New_York    -4:56:02 -    LMT    1883 Nov 18 12:03:58
Zone America/Chicago    -5:50:36 -    LMT    1883 Nov 18 12:09:24
Zone America/Los_Angeles -7:52:58 -    LMT    1883 Nov 18 12:07:02

This has now inspired me to request Seize the Daylight from our local library.

In praise of github

A few years ago I became sold on distributed source control.  Being able to do offline work, try out new ideas cheaply, and throw them away, all were great things.  I started with mercurial, but over the summer started using git.  A couple of things pushed me over the edge.

  • git appeared more modular, at the end of the day this wasn't really true.  The lack of a libgit was actually very disappointing (especially after I had sworn there was one), as I've got a number of interesting ideas stalled behind that one.
  • the git-svn pluggin, which provides really good 2 way integration between svn and git trees.  I've stopped making anon svn clones, I now do a git-svn clone.  If I want to fix something locally, I can now version that fix.
  • github - free social hosting of git trees

Github helps you over the hump in publicly hosting git trees.  Honestly, the hump isn't very high, but the documentation out there could be a bit more straight forward.  I'd been chugging along using github for all my random open source projects, some that are active, some which are stalled.  But the source code is out there for others to take a look at.  Github provides nice instructions for people to clone the work, and run with it.  It's definitely a prettier interface.

Github really started to shine for me this past weekend though.  I was looking for ical generation code for ruby to replace an email tool that I wrote in perl for our MHVLUG monthly meeting emails.  There exists 2 ruby ical projects, vpim and icalendar, neither of which support timezones in the ical generation, and both with pretty inactive mailing lists.  Once it became clear that the problem was not solved, I decided to dig in and see if I could come up with something workable.

But once you go social, github really shines

There had been a post on the icalendar devel list a few months back that said he had fixed a couple of timezone issues and provided a github url.  I cloned that project, and realized that while it got closer to what I needed, it still didn't quite do what I needed.  So I clicked the fork button.

I was now given my own fork of the icalendar source.  But more importantly, it also showed me all the other forks on github, which there were 5 others.  I made my fixes, pushed them back public, and then proceeded to start to accumulate up some of the other changes out there.  There is even a fork queue which shows all the outstanding changes in other forks out there, as well as odds on whether or not the patches will apply.

While you could figure all this out on your own with the command line, that kind of discovery and view is really a help and a timesaver.

And it's even better if you are doing ruby

Github is written in ruby, though I'm not sure on the framework behind it.  As an added bonus to people hosting ruby code on the site, the team created a gem build service into github.  You add a specially formatted gem spec file to your github tree, and you'll get a gem built on each checkin.  My 2 ruby libraries that are there now are configured to build gems, easy for all to install.

If you haven't checked out git, or github, you should.  While I found the learning curve on git to be higher than I really wanted to deal with, the community is very active, and the number of things that support git now is quite high.  Rails generators even support git now, automatically source managing via git or svn if you ask them to.  Github popped out of no where in 2008, and I can't wait to see where they are going to go in 2009.

I never thought that one of the skills I'd need to have as a farmer is PHP

Favorite thing heard at the Winter Sun CSA pickup yesterday:

We'll send out an email once the website goes live.  We were hoping it would be up by now, but we've been having problems.  I never thought that one of the skills I'd need to have as a farmer is PHP.

This out of a conversation with the Hudson Valley Seed Library project. I'll post a link to their website once it's live.