Currently Reading: 50 Foods

The premise is intriguing: just 50 foods. Why those 50, specifically? Are these the best of all foods? And what’s a food, anyway? Just something you can pick or kill? That would eliminate anything processed, like bread or wine or cheese.

Whatever criteria Edward Behr used for deciding what foods to include in this 400-page celebration of foods, their varieties, selection, preparation, storage, and enjoyment, he has produced a tantalizing and satisfying read. And part of the fun of reading the book is deciding where you agree with his selections and what foods you would add or delete.

One proof that this is an idiosyncratic selection is that, out of 50 foods, Behr has seen fit to include six different cheeses. Over ten percent of the foods here are cheeses. I’m not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with that.

Behr is the founder of the food magazine The Art of Eating.

A Perl Classic — for $0.00

Modern Perl 4th Edition by chromatic is out now, and the price of the digital version is $0.00.

I must disclose that I was the editor for this edition. Actually, I’m bragging about it. I’m proud to be involved with this classic reference on the classic Swiss Army knife language. And “classic” in the case of this language doesn’t mean over the hill. As chromatic points out, modern Perl may well be the best tool for the job you have to get done. And at this price, what is there to keep you from finding out?

If you already know and appreciate Perl and Modern Perl, you might want to get the print edition. It isn’t free, but it’s worth the price, and chromatic isn’t going to make a lot on royalties from $0.00.

Open Source Car Software?

Open Source car software? I’m all for it. Well, with some caveats. I don’t think current car software should be open-sourced, since it’s probably full of security holes. Future car software should be, I think. But only if for the first year it is tested by the executives of the car companies in their own cars. If they survive attempts of black hats to take control of their cars and drive them into trees and off bridges, they can sell cars with the code in them. If they don’t, karma.

If I have a heritage, it’s this

“In Inisfail the fair there lies a land, the land of holy Michan. There rises a watchtower beheld by men afar. There sleep the mighty dead as in life they slept, warriors and princes of high renown. A pleasant land it is in sooth of murmuring waters, fishful streams where sport the gunnard, the plaice, the roach, the halibut, the gibbed haddock, the grilse, the dab, the brill, the flounder, the mixed coarse fish generally and other denizens of the aqueous kingdom too numerous to be enumerated.”

“Fishful.” Lovely.
“Too numerous to be enumerated.” Talking my language.
Then there’s the Melville-ish catalog of fishes.
Especially “the mixed coarse fish generally.”
And more subtly the sentence structure and rhythm around “streams where sport.”

You must taste this kind of writing, letting the alliteration of “In Iniasfail the fair there lies a land, the land…” tease the tip of your tongue: ananafathafathalasa lanthala…

Here’s an essentially dead language, Gaelic, thrusting its bones through the threads of ostensibly English prose. Rich and ripe.

Tame Your OBD-II

This is not a product review. It is, however, an appreciation of a company that has produced what seems to be a fine, highly useful product that can save you money, with a support team really dedicated to addressing user problems and expanding the product’s reach.

We purchased an Automatic device a while ago and found that it didn’t support our platform. The device is an OBD-II reader, a tiny tool that plugs into the port on your vehicle that only mechanics are supposed to know about and reads and reports on the error messages that cause your engine light to go on. Your platform is your car.

My mental deconstruction of the underlying technology may be wrong but I think this is what’s afoot: Your vehicle has a kajillion sensors that detect anomalies in everything from fuel-level sensors to seat-belt tension and send a beep to the OBD computer when their particular issue comes up. The OBD communicates with you in an absolutely minimal one-bit interface: it turns on the engine light. You need to see your mechanic.

The mechanic plugs a reader into the OBD port on your car and OBD suddenly gets loquacious — sort of. She spits out one code. P0yaddayadda. Your mechanic looks up P0yaddayadda and tells your that your splunge fladger is twerked. You either say, golly, fix it, or you say, I just had my splunge fladger detwerked, and your mechanic says, let me check again. Your mechanic then clears the P0yaddayadda message and a new error code comes up. Oh well, your mechanic says, what it really is is that your cam dibbler has fallen off. It’s a wonder you made it into the shop. That has to be fixed immediately.

The Automatic device plugs into that secret mechanic port, reads those cryptic codes, and sends an interpretation to your phone. Back seat right side seat belt is reporting cookie crumbs in its slot? Maybe we can risk it and continue on to Safeway.

At $99 for the device, one saved trip to the mechanic and it’s paid for itself.

The Automatic device does a lot more. It creates reports on your trips, reporting your gas mileage, fuel cost, stops along the way, excessive accelerations, and other data, advises you on how to improve your fuel efficiency, keep track of which trips are business-related and expensable, and with a little Internet of Things connectivity, will turn on your porch light as you pull in the driveway.

As I say, Automatic didn’t initially support our vehicle. This is not surprising. The vehicle in question is a 2007 Leisure Travel Freedom II Serenity motorhome with a Mercedes engine that burns diesel.

But the Automatic folks worked with me and now we’re happy Automatic users. So why is this not a review?

The engine light hasn’t come on yet. When it does, I’ll give you an update.