"Quantum Processor" result hits the press

News of our latest result is starting to appear in the media. Engadget has the funniest version so far. For a more serious article, you can view the Nature news story.

I fail at waffles


I feel like I have mastered the art of making many Sunday brunch meals. I make buttermilk pancakes, french toast, creamy scrambled eggs, etc. Waffles, on the other hand, mystify me. Every time I attempt to make waffles, the first waffle sticks to the iron and it takes ~5 minutes to scrape it off. Later attempts don't stick quite so badly, but they are always soggy. I am trying to achieve light and crisp. I've tried three different waffle recipes from Mark Bittmann's How to Cook Everything, I have tried using different oils and cooking sprays. Nothing seems to work. There is always the possibility that my waffle iron is just broken/horrible/difficult to use properly. (Oh favorite thing about the waffle iron, is it has a temperature dial on the front with the following markings: dot dot dot dot dot "warm waffle" dot dot dot 1 2 3 4 5. Does that make sense to you? 'Cause it certainly doesn't make sense to me).

This morning's droopy attempt is pictured above. Anyone have any waffle making advice?

UPDATE: After a visit from a friend with more waffle-making success than I, and some searching on the internet, I found some things which help a lot. First of all, in all previous attempts I was skipping the oil/butter in the batter. Fat is optional in pancake batter, so I assumed that the same held for waffles, but it turns out that with sufficient fat in the batter, the waffles don't stick to the iron. It even seems unnecessary to spray the iron with oil!

The other thing which seems to make a difference is putting the waffles in a warm oven for a few minutes after they are done. This preserves the crispness of the waffles a little longer than going straight to table. It also allows you to prepare more than one waffle at a time, which is great for making waffles for a group.

First Indian Wedding

I experienced my first Indian wedding last weekend in Houston, TX when my friend Sunil got married. I had a ridiculously good time. It was, of course, quite different from a Western, Christian wedding. In particular, there was more dancing. And many more older people got involved in the dance. I got a real laugh when several gentlemen told me that I needed to buy Phyllis a necklace to go with her sari (basically, more bling = better). Happily I will get to experience another Indian wedding very soon when Sunil's brother, Rahul, gets married in August.

Photos from the weekend can be viewed on my flickr set.

Terry Eagleton adds his voice to the science and religion dialog

Stanley Fish reviews his book for the NYTimes.

Chuck Season (Series?) Finale and No-Knead Bread


Monday was a very exciting day in the Johnson apartment. We watched the season finales of Chuck and Heroes, and I made my first attempt at making Mark Bittmann's faster no-knead bread.

First of all, I should say that Chuck has basically become my favorite show on TV. It has the right mix of humor, action, and cultural references (that I actually understand) to be supremely entertaining. I am sure my enjoyment of the show has something to do with having worked for about a year in a CompUSA. While the antics that go on in the "Buy More" go far beyond anything I witnessed, some of the character types seem extremely familiar. I also interviewed to work for the Geek Squad (before they merged with Best Buy and became a mere shadow of their former selves), so I am connected to the setting of the show on multiple levels.

The season finale was spectacular. Ellie's wedding provided a perfect excuse to bring the entire cast together, creating excellent humor (Jeffster singing Mr. Roboto) while Casey was tearing the room apart next door. Chuck's "upgrade" at the end was a singular moment of triumph, causing the audience in my living room to cry out in celebration.

So, it is with a heavy dose of disappointment that I heard that NBC has not yet decided whether or not to continue Chuck for another season. Certainly, in order to continue, the show needs to prove that it can move in new directions while maintaining the humor which makes the show work. But, I think the writers have plenty of room for at least one more good season.

The other thing which made Monday fantastic was homemade bread. I followed Mark Bittmann's recipe to the letter. I had my doubts because it was much more gooey than other doughs I have made in the past. However, the end result worked fantastically well. Phyllis and I nearly ate the entire loaf of bread in one evening. Suffice it to say, I will be making this again (but not too often for obvious reasons!).

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