Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

Freaky Economics.


I enjoy economics, particularly behavioral economics; the study of human motivation. Interesting little insights into human behavior are common on the Freakonomics blog. Here are few items I found interesting:

Love Buns.


Cupcakes with white frosting and butterfly sprinkles Last month, I made Nigella Lawson's "Love Buns". Note that I used butterfly sprinkles with Halloween paper wrappers. I need to get a larger variety of cupcake papers.

The cake was a bit dense and tasted a little boring. But it would definitely make a good sturdy base for strong flavors; perhaps orange with a fudge frosting and candied orange peel for sprinkles.

The frosting took a lot of whipping; I was glad for my hand mixer. It came out with a consistency near that of marshmallows, but it was very good at holding on to those sprinkles.

Favorite PAX Moments.


Here are a few of my favorite moments from PAX 2009:

It's Only PST Sometimes.


Some of you already know this, but surprising portion of you need a reminder. To whit: it's only P.S.T. sometimes. (The same for E.S.T, C.S.T and M.S.T of course.) P.S.T. stands for Pacific Standard Time, and it is only in effect from Nov through Apr.

It's P.D.T. (Pacific Daylight Time) the rest of the year - such as now. Therefore, you can't go throwing around P.S.T. all year. If you must specify a time zone, play it safe and simply say Pacific Time.

Adventures in Apache - mod_speling.


Last year, I worked with Apache's rewrite and speling modules. My goal was to make all URLs case-insensitive on a website. (The original site coders had created the files and URLS with camel-casing, which is quite troublesome for a case-sensitive web server, and completely useless for search engine optimization.) I had quite a lot of trouble with these modules; I felt a bit like I was losing a boxing match.

The consensus from the resources I looked at was that mod_speling was the mod for the job. With CheckCaseOnly on, it did correct letter case for directories, but not for files? Unfortunately, that was only half the job. What I really need is a method to make both directories and file names case-insensitive for websites. Has anyone heard of such a thing?

FYI, here's the syntax I used.

##  Enables mod_speling, but only the case-insensitivity.  
CheckSpelling On
CheckCaseOnly On

A Haiku From the Bus.


I rode. Desperate
for karma, to go faster.
Old man, won't you sit?

U-Haul is the Suck.


We did a lot of moving a couple years back, and we've also helped friends move a fair number of times. We moved ourselves from a house in Beaverton to an apartment in Seattle. Nine months later, we moved from the apartment to a townhouse, with the help of Nice Moves. Next time we move, we will use the same great movers, but we won't use U-Haul.

Every time we've moved, we've used U-Haul. Every time we've picked up the truck or trailer, the U-Haul office was incredibly busy, and it took forever to get out of there and on with the move. (Because U-Haul is the first place EVERYONE thinks of for moving.) The last time we picked up a truck, the U-Haul employees were downright cranky.

We had U-Haul install a trailer hitch onto our Forester so that we could tow a trailer; but the hitch's electrical connection never seemed to work quite right. U-Haul's equipment always seems quite beat up. Also, our movers felt that U-Haul's trucks were lacking in features, and implied that better overall experiences could be had elsewhere.

Fortunately, there are options! I have found the price differences between U-Haul and its competitors to be negligible. I refuse to let U-Haul rest on the laurels of their greater brand recognition. I shall exercise my right - nay, my responsibility as a thoughtful consumer - and chose a company that works just a little harder for my business.

Animal Crossing - Fruit from Villagers.


In Animal Crossing, if you send letters with presents to the animals in town, then will respond with presents, and every once in while they will send fruit back as a present. This is a great way to get a non-native piece of fruit so that you can plant it in your town for big bells. The trick is in sending a letter that's just right to get fruit in return, instead of furniture or clothes.

In Animal Crossing: City Folk, this in a letter (with a piece of fruit attached as a present) has resulted in a pretty high rate of fruit return for me:

Got any fruit?

It might work in other versions of Animal Crossing. Of course, you could just visit my town instead. I've got several of each kind of tree growing.

PAX '09.


Me and the Prince Of All Cosmos at PAX 2009 This weekend I went to PAX - a gaming exposition in Seattle put on by the folks at Penny Arcade. It was a ton of fun.

I participated in the brilliantly conceived Distributed Tournament System (DTS) - wherein every expo attendee can participate in a tournament. Every attendee gets two DTS buttons, and can challenge other button-wearing attendees to any game; the winner takes a button. The top 20 ranked button owners earned fabulous prizes. I won two buttons playing Tetris DS, but then lost 2 in Tetris and 1 in New Super Mario Bros. The husband lost one button in a Thumb War. We weren't contenders, but at least we came away with a souvenir button.

I enjoyed the various card / tabletop games that we played. After we'd had a Fluxx game going for about 5 minutes, we got some interested looking people to join. We learned how to play Munchkins in the official Steve Jackson gaming nook. And we were invited to play a pick-up game of Catan that included quite a few laughs.

The Saturday night concerts (with opening band Freezepop, Headliners Paul and Storm, and Closing Act Jonathan Coulton) were excellent. That the concerts lasted until 2 am was a little extreme.

On the day after PAX, I discovered I had come home with a little unanticipated swag. Remember folks, I'm staying in my pajamas all day for your safety.



I love cupcakes in ice cream cones. There's the added cute factor, and it seems very appropriate to use edible material instead of cupcake papers. When I was a child, my mom made some delightful ice cream cone cupcakes that were decorated to look like clowns.

These cupcakes in ice cream cones appear to be barfing. Unfortunately, my ice cream cone cupcakes have never worked out well. This chocolate batter didn't finish baking in the expected 20 minutes, so I left them in for about 35 minutes. By that point, some batter had erupted out of the cones and over the side. The cupcake that remained protected in the cones tasted OK, but the cake encrusted on the outside of the cones tasted pretty burnt.

As you can see here, I frosted (dipped, really) and decorated them anyway. They look a little wrecky, but I think they're also a bit charming.

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