Saturday, December 27, 2014

Understanding sleep sort: for everyone!

This is an experiment, and I invite everyone to participate, no matter whether you are a programmer or think computers are only useful for reading email. This article is about sorting. In computer science, sorting is not really all that different from every day life. You get some collection of things and you want to put them in order. There must be a way of comparing any two things and understanding what order they belong in. So, if you want to sort grapefruits by size, you can compare any two grapefruits and determine that one is bigger, smaller or the same size as another. Everything else falls out of this, and every time a computer sorts your mail or the messages on Facebook or anything else, it's comparing two items at a time.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dear Father, a response regarding Freemasonry and the Catholic Church

In a recent article on The St. Louis Review, Msgr. Matthew Mitas wrote a "Dear Father" column that responded to a question about Freemasonry for Catholics. While I certainly grant that it is his and his Church's right to view Freemasonry however they like, and to set the rules for their membership, I do feel that some of the article is just absurdly wrong about Freemasonry, and needs to be challenged on that basis.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Easy and fast mac & cheese from scratch!

Just the mention of a roux can send some amateur cooks into a fit, and I have to admit that mine often aren't perfect, so I tend to shy away from them. But a roux is at the heart of mac & cheese. For those who aren't aware, a roux is a blend of fat and starch that forms a pasty or saucy mixture that doesn't separate. This can be very useful for making gravies and sauces. Mac & cheese is just pasta in a cheese sauce, so it's usually a roux of butter or other oil, cheese and either corn starch or flour.

Below, I'll go into the recipe for a basic mac & cheese using this technique and then a few ways you can "dress it up" with other ingredients. But I have to stress that mac & cheese is a basic canvas. Get creative and try whatever you want! If you're trying to keep carbs in line, don't have this more than once a week, and consider one of the high-fiber, high-protein pastas that have a lower glycemic index.

Basic version:

  • 2 tbsp canola or peanut oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups pasta (more if it's a large shell or the like)
  • 1 cup cheddar or other flavorful cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese cut into small cubes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cryptocurrencies: The future of Bitcoin and its peers

The Bitcoin logo
Bitcoin is a name that most people have heard of. You might not have heard the term "cryptocurrency" or the names of other examples such as Litecoin, Peercoin or Dogecoin. Cryptocurrency refers to any currency type that uses cryptography to ensure the verifiability and in most cases, anonymity of all transactions. Bitcoin was the first modern cryptocurrency, but there have been many others. In fact, creating a new cryptocurrency is so easy that the proliferation of them is getting a bit out of control. A new currency introduced this month, for example, only has 42 possible coins that can be mined--an homage to Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy comedy / science fiction series of novels. These vanity and joke currencies began after an Internet meme was turned into the only semi-serious cryptocurrency, "Dogecoin," which refers to the misspelling of "dog" often used on Web sites such as

So, is this just a silly and short-lived flurry of activity? Will Bitcoin and all it's silly ilk die off?