Bedtime Stories: Bermuda Triangle

The Bermuda Triangle by Aaron M. Rudolph.

My son has become an early embracer of conspiracy theories and other mysteries of the unknown. Channel surfing a few weeks back, we came across a documentary about the Bermuda Triangle. It is indeed an enticing sort of mystery: ships and planes and people seeming to vanish into thin air. Reports of crazy wormhole-like activity! So I headed to the 001 section of the children’s nonfiction at the local library. For those unfamiliar with the Dewey Decimal Classification, 001 is where you will find all the books about aliens, cryptids, and mysteries like the Bermuda Triangle. For the record, I grabbed a UFO Files book and a Loch Ness Monster book as well.

Filled with color pictures, simple text, and a nice mix of fact and speculation, this book is a big hit. I for one never realized how difficult it would be for my son to say “BERMUDA”. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue! But this book has opened him up to the concept of ghost ships, and Atlantic geography, and all the wonderful Mysteries of the Unknown. I must admit I’ve always been a sucker for this kind of stuff and I’m more than delighted that he takes such an interest in it too! Next up: government cover-ups of alien encounters? Sasquatches? The world of pseudoscience is all at our fingertips!

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Things We Like: Floor Plans Made Easy

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

Whether you’re redecorating your bedroom or are considering more extensive home improvement projects, a floor plan is an essential tool to help get you started. An accurate floor plan can help you arrange furniture (the easy way: on paper), estimate costs by calculating square footage, and better understand what’s possible should you decide to expand or enlarge your room. The only downside of using a floor plan is that you have to make one. That is, until now.

Roomscan is a new app for the iPhone that allows you to draw a floor plan by simply walking around the perimeter of your room and tap your phone against each wall. The app automatically draws the floor plan based on your taps and is accurate with measurements to one-half foot! Once you have the floor plan drawn out, which you can edit the measurements of the walls to correct for any inaccuracies, you can export the image via email. You can also visit their website here to learn more about the app and how it works.

I was skeptical about how well it would work, so I gave it a try for myself and have to say that I am impressed. The one drawback, however, is that the app is pretty sensitive to the speed in which you tap each wall. I noticed that in certain rooms of my apartment, it was difficult to tap across sofas, and over the bed and tables as quickly as the app would like. Then again, running a tape measure across the bed isn’t exactly the easiest thing either.

While I won’t be using this app to measure cuts on my baseboard trim project, I can see it coming in handy for several other projects that don’t require as much precision. Best of all, it’s free!

On a final note, this is my last post here on the Charles Rogers Blog. It’s been a great past couple years writing here, and I hope that everyone reading my articles has enjoyed them or at least learned something new/useful.  Thank you all!

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Breakfast in Bed: Prosciutto Egg Cups

Post by Alison Hein.

Here’s a great idea from my friend and Pilates instructor Michele – crispy baked prosciutto slices wrapped around warm, gooey baked eggs. A little tweaking to this simple preparation produces lots of varieties. You can add a little parmesan cheese, or float some sautéed onions or mushrooms on top. Eggs can be beaten first and mixed with herbs and vegetables, similar to the Baked Breakfast Egg Cups (http://www.charlesprogers.com/blogs/archives/4411) I’ve shared with you in the past. But I like Michele’s version for its ease and simplicity. The salty Italian cured ham minimizes spicing needs so a touch of freshly ground black pepper before baking finishes nicely.

The Prosciutto Egg Cups make a neat and elegant dish for entertaining. Put them on your brunch table, along with an assortment of toast, fresh fruit, hash browns and mimosas, and you’ll have trouble getting rid of you friends and family on lazy Sunday afternoons.

Or, keep them for yourself, served with a plain, crusted bread like Irish Wheaten Bread (https://www.charlesprogers.com/blogs/archives/7766) for an easy, simple (and delicious) breakfast in bed.

Ingredients
Cooking spray
2 pieces prosciutto
2 eggs
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (for as many prosciutto eggs as you plan to make). Arrange a piece of prosciutto in each muffin cup, wrapping around the sides and covering the bottom to form a closed bowl.

Crack eggs one at a time into a small bowl (to make sure yolks are intact), then pour into prosciutto-lined muffin cups. Grind some fresh black peppercorns onto the top of the raw egg. Place in oven and bake for around 15 minutes for a cooked egg white and soft yolk. Cool slightly before removing from tin. Carefully scoop out eggs with a large spoon. Serve with crusty, whole grain bread, if you like.

Makes 2 servings.

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Bedtime Stories: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane.

I’ve been reading a disproportionate number of grown-up books these day. That’s not a bad thing; I’m just so accustomed to picture books and young adult literature! I’d been told of this book a couple years ago, but I’m pretty slow on the draw. I’d say this book is worth a read. Clay Jannon was a silicon valley graphic designer who was among the many victims of the Great Recession. After a lengthy unemployment, he happens across a San Francisco bookstore that is hiring for the night shift. It is immediately apparent that Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is not your typical bookstore. For one thing, most of the selection is a series of mysterious books which Jannon is forbidden to even look at. They take up a huge, 3-story shelf. The customers who request these books are eccentric, often disheveled, and frantic for the next edition. Jannon is required to record every detail of his encounters in the old leather-bound log books. When coaxed by a friend, he takes a look at one of the books and discovers it’s an entire volume written in code. As his curiosity deepens, he begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding this strange bookstore and its mysterious owner.

It’s a very interesting read, though the dialogues about technology versus old knowledge are a little overdone; one would almost think that Google paid a sum to have their products featured so prominently. Also, despite being somewhat ordinary in his skill set, the narrator has only incredible people in his life: the Google programmer; the skilled sculptor who works at ILM; the millionaire digital rendering master. It’s all just a little too convenient. The other half of the story, however, addresses the life of Aldus Manutius, an influential 16th-century printer and publisher, whose legacy surrounds the mysteries of the bookstore. That bit was a lot of fun. Overall it’s an intriguing story about old and new and an inquiry into if and how modern technology and the much-loved print medium might coexist.

Also: the cover glows in the dark! You can’t discover THAT in a digital format!

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Movies in Bed: The Italian Job

Post by Mark T. Locker

Oh, those heist movies. I just love them. The best part about being bed-ridden with sick is the excuse to fire up a bunch of movies in the middle of a Wednesday. As a dad who hardly ever stays up past 10:30, I watch very few movies. So imagine my delight and overwhelmedness when I was well enough to know what was going on, but not enough to move.

I started with a good one. “The Italian Job” is one of those heist movies where the thieves, for some reason, are the good guys. I guess they’re stealing from mobsters or something? Well, they are of course very good at what they do and this, the Italian Job, is to be Donald Sutherland’s one last gig before retiring. Which means, of course, it’s going to go wrong. Betrayed by one of their own, Donald is killed and the others left for dead. Fast forward a few years. The others lived! And they’re quite upset and plan to recover their ill-gotten goods from the badder bad guy.

Full of all the stuff that makes these movies fun: awesome hacker guy, safe cracker, explosives expert, incredible driving skills, and lots of really careful timing and execution, this is a great movie for watching in a fevered stupor. You know what? It would be pretty fun to watch with full capacity of the senses too.

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