Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Sulfur usually connotes negatives feelings... The whiff of decay, the stench of brimstone, or the lingering presence of a nasty bout of flatulence. But it's one of the important building blocks of life.

All life depends for the most part on a handful of elements, easily remembered as CHONPS: Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur. Various sulfur compounds--sulfur dioxide and potassium metabisulfite, among others--are used in the winemaking industry to prevent spoilage, a tradition that goes back centuries. (In fact, most wines intended for any sort of storage beyond a few months will include the phrase "INCLUDES SULFITES" somewhere on the label.) Why was I thinking about the element with the atomic number 16*? Because it was late at night and I wanted me some eggs.

I split and toasted a bagel while preparing a couple of eggs over easy. I'll eat eggs just about any way they can be fixed; I really don't have a preference, though when cooking for myself I either do over easy or a "rough scramble". The latter is something I got used to in Scouts, which was sort of a compromise betwen fried and scrambled eggs that didn't require dirtying up a bowl. Basically you break the eggs in a skillet and then chop them up with the spatula. The end result isn't as fluffy as properly scrambled eggs, but you get bits of pure yolk and bits of pure white combined with bits of scrambled eggs.

But my over easy duo turned out beautifully, and I was quite happy. The final bite was almost all runny yolk, and it was that brief rush of sulfur that inspired this weird post.

And since I'm throwing out various discombobulated pieces of trivia, let me point out that the neatest thing about eating eggs is that you're only consuming one cell at a time. (Bonus points if you eat an ostrich egg, perhaps the largest single egg to ever exist on this pale blue dot.) Though it's chock full of protein and other neat organic compounds, the egg is woefully short on cellular complexity unless you've got a multiple yolk egg. (Or if you're eating the horror that is balut, a Filipino delicacy. Balut is a duck's egg that has been partially developed and then boiled, so you're eating a runny duck fetus. Blecch!)

*Some say this gives it a certain importance when you look at the formation of the solar system... Look at the elements that rise by powers of two, smashed together by the simplest form of fusion: hydrogen (1), helium (2), beryllium (4), oxygen (8), sulfur (16), germanium (32), gadolinium (64)... OK, well only hydrogen, helium, oxygen and sulfur are really important, but it's a neat idea.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Wineblogging: Oregon Pinot Noir
I started to blog this last night while drinking the wine, but decided to wait until morning. The bottle was a 2000 Benton Lane Pinot Noir. (Admittedly, I was taken in by the label design--basically the outline from the famous 1918 inverted Jenny stamp.) I was surprised at the price and date, but an older pinot noir can be a bit of a gamble. When it's good it's amazing, and when it's bad...

This one didn't taste right at first. It was almost fizzy. No actual carbonation, but it had that taste like sparkling mineral water. I let it breathe for a hour, and it was a bit better, but it really didn't settle down until a few hours later. I wouldn't reccommend this, but would like to try one of their younger wines. The winery also practices "Salmon Safe" and sustainable agriculture, which means it might be a good gift for an environmentally conscious friend. Plus the bottle is solid enough for whacking hippies on the head.
Loving Firefox
I installed Firefox at home on the Mac to try out a couple of site-specific plugins, which were kind of fun. Though Safari's still my main axe at the house, I'm using Firefox for a few sites that are amplified with the plugins.

Using Firefox on a Windows machine, though... Wow. Huge difference over Internet Explorer. Some have complained about the speed, but I don't see it, especially when you don't have to deal with popups, annoying flash ads, and the assorted adware/spyware/malware/etc. Plus, TABBED BROWSING! WOOT! That's one of the things I love most about Safari. Firefox does it a little differently, but it's easy enough to switch between the two.

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