Saturday night we went out to the Redondo Beach pier just in time to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. One thing that I found a bit odd was that it appeared to be setting behind a line of distant mountains. While the coast does curve westward at Santa Monica, I was pretty sure that due west of us was nothing but sea, though I figured it could have been the Channel Islands, or a very sharply-defined cloud bank.

So I did what any geek would do: looked up the angle at which the sun had set that evening.

I found two tools: The NOAA solar position calculator let me figure out, given latitude, longitude and time, the sun’s declination. Then I found another tool that let me enter the latitude, longitude, and compass bearing and see a line drawn on a map.

It turned out that the sun was setting roughly 21° north of due west, putting it roughly in line with the coast from Malibu toward Ventura…on the seaward side. The line finally connected with land out toward Point Conception, roughly 120 miles away. That’s probably too far away to be visible from near sea level, depending on how high the mountains are out there, but if the angle was off just a little bit (I did estimate the time), it could easily have be the Santa Monica mountains above Malibu (more like 20 miles).

So yes, I did watch the sun set over the ocean and over land at the same time!

Remember the Battlestar Galactica cake? For last night’s LOST finale, Katie made an authentic DHARMA Initiative chocolate cake, and pizzas with the Swan and Orchid logos.

The cake is chocolate, with homemade buttercream icing (vanilla for the background, chocolate for the design). The pizzas have an outer ring of sausage, with bell pepper strips for the I Ching. The Swan logo is cut from a bell pepper. The Orchid is cut from a tomato, and placed on the pizza after baking.

For more views, including in-progress pictures, close-ups, and making-of commentary, check out the LOST finale food photos on Flickr.

So, you’re a nerd (or a geek, if you prefer). You spend your life sitting in front of your computer, your TV, or your latest book. You don’t play sports, you don’t go running, hiking or cycling, and the word gym conjures up painful memories from middle school.

And you’ve put on a bit more padding than you’d like.

The problem is, you can’t stand exercise, you don’t want to spend the next 2 months eating cardboard food, and you don’t want to record your every caloric intake with a spreadsheet (though if that idea appeals to you, go for it). What’s a geek to do?

Well, here are some tweaks you can make to your lifestyle that, with a minimum of effort, will help. They won’t take the weight off quickly, but they’ll lower it over time. And you might be able to keep it off better than someone who goes on a crash diet, because you’re changing your habits, not just making a short-term change. Continue reading

I’ve been meaning to post this for a while, now: the Geek Rivalries Meme

Star Trek or Babylon 5? Babylon 5
Windows or Linux? Linux
Windows or Macintosh? Mac
Farscape or Stargate? Farscape
Linux or BSD? Linux
Intel or AMD? AMD
Star Trek or Star Wars? Star Wars
Firefox or Internet Explorer? Firefox
Firefox or Opera? Firefox
WordPress or Movable Type? WordPress
Marvel or DC? DC
Neanderthal or Neandertal? Neanderthal (with the TH sound)
Slashdot or Digg? Slashdot
Anime: Dub or Sub? Subtitled
Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew? Dr. Pepper

The rules: You must choose one. If you like both, decide which one you like better. If you don’t like either of them, figure out which you dislike less.