Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A crazy house, and some Google-stalking

A friend of mine was looking around on Redfin for "crazy" Seattle houses, and found this one: *

At just under $35 millions dollars, it's quite the estate. Over 22000 square feet, and 2 acres of shorefront proprty on Mercer Island. (Why on earth does the house have 9 bathrooms for 5 bedrooms though? And only 4 garages? What insanely rich person has only 4 cars?)

Anyway, since the address is not disclosed, my curiosity was piqued. From the listing agent's description the property is on the NW shore of Mercer Island. And the exterior pictures show a fairly unique quarter-circle roof near an outside pool. A little time on Google maps and you can find house in aerial shots. Some more digging and you can find the street address. In fact you come across a property listing with the full address.

Who owns this house?

A quick search on the address finds some political campaign donation records in the name of Charles and Karen Lytle. (Thanks to Huffington Post's Fundrace 2008!) The 2007 and 2008 records show that Charles Lytle is CEO of Lytle Enterprises (as does a search on his name).
Their company develops retirement and assisted living communities.

Kind of interesting how easy it is to find stuff on the 'net sometimes. (And how bored I am :P)

I somehow don't think they'll be selling this house any time soon though. (It's been on the market for over a year already... And things haven't gotten any better in the past few months!)

* Updated on 1/14/09 to include current Redfin link. The cumulative time this house has been on the market is now 1628 days (almost 4.5 years).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kabocha squash time!

Fall means it's time for winter squash - great in soups, baked as a side dish, or of course in the form of pumpkin pie. One of my favourites is the Japanese kabocha squash, and our local farmer's market has had some recently.

I experimented last weekend with a new soup recipe - a Thai-style coconut milk soup made with baked squash. The recipe I used as a starting point is here, but this one from Annie Sommerville's website is very similar and has the added benefit of giving you a nice recipe for making your own veggie stock.

I had to make a few changes to the recipes, but I think it turned out really well, so I'll jot them down here as a reminder to myself and in case other people want to try:
  • I didn't have any lemongrass or kaffir lime, so I used the zest of a lime near the end of the recipe (when I added the coconut milk).
  • I used light coconut milk :)
  • I used about a teaspoon of Thai green curry paste - this gave the soup a nice kick which complemented the natural sweetness...
  • I didn't add any sugar (which the one recipe calls for)
  • I blended the soup in the pot using a "magic wand" (immersion blender). If you don't have one of these and like making soups or sauces, I really recommend getting one! Bamix are the Rolls-Royce models, but a cheaper Cuisinart or Braun model will work fine unless you use it a LOT.

Amazon links: Bamix Mono Hand Blender, Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender

Friday, October 03, 2008

From Scrabble to Electronic Voting Machines

From Slashdot today :
"A New Jersey Superior Court Judge has prohibited the release of an analysis conducted on the Sequoia AVC Advantage voting system. This report arose out of a lawsuit challenging on constitutional grounds the use of these systems. The study was conducted by Andrew Appel on behalf of the plaintiffs, after the judge in the case ordered the company to permit it. That same judge has now withheld it indefinitely from the public record on a verbal order."

The name Andrew Appel looked familiar to me, and sure enough looking at his past publications I see that he is one of the authors of the paper on computer Scrabble that guided my own Scrabble game's development many years ago. (See my previous posts here). This more recent paper looks like it would be interesting to read..

I wonder how one moves from computer Scrabble to looking into the security of voting machines? Probably the Scrabble paper was the result of supervising a student's research...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

AntiVirus XP vendor sued

Fake AV warning
Yay! From ZDNet's ZeroDay blog today:

"The software purveyor behind AntiVirus XP, a fake anti-virus package, has been sued and will hopefully be put out of business."

This is great news - even better would be if they are forced to remove their badware from all the machines they've infected. It was sad to see the public Internet machine in our hotel in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, infected with this crap. (See the screenshot I took.) I was tempted to try removing it, but doing tech support on vacation is not my idea of fun.

Update: 10/02/2008

I didn't realize that Microsoft and the Washington State Attorney-General are the ones suing over this. Kudos to both! Brian Krebs (Washington Post) and Bruce Schneier also wrote about this. (The comments are pretty sad - I had no idea how prevalent this stuff is...)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New Gito Baloi album!

"Death is not the end" :)

I got a message on Facebook today announcing a new Gito Baloi album, called Beyond, produced posthumously using recording made before he died in 2004. (See my previous post about Gito Baloi here).

Folks in the USA can buy the album from CDBaby here (you can also listen to the tracks online), or you can order from Kalahari in South Africa (see below).

Here's the full message*, from the album's producer Dave Reynolds:

There's a brand new Gito Baloi album out called Beyond.

Using bass and vocal recordings which Gito did before he died in 2004, the music was developed in studio by some of the musicians that had worked closely with him on various different projects in his life: Steve Newman, Paul Hanmer, Ian Herman, Dave Reynolds, McCoy Mrubata, Moses Khumalo, Pedro Pinto Da Silver (of 340ml), Tlale Makhene, Tony Cox, Frank Paco, Nibs Van Der Spuy, Deepak Ram, Rui Soeiro (of 340ml), Bernice Boikanyo, Paulo Chibanga (of 340ml), Thuli Mdlalose, Eliot Short, Vusi Maseko and Graeme Sacks.

Here is a write-up by Daniel Brown from Radio France International - there's also a 20 min audio interview which I did - also features some words by Gito.

The album is available from Kalahari . 100% of the proceeds of sales go to the Gito Baloi Memorial Trust (since all costs have been covered by donations).

The Radio France International interview also touches on a collaboration project called Grassroots which features Gito as well as Louis Mhlanga, Concord Nkabinde, Jeff Maluleke, Chris Tokalon, Siya Makuzeni and others. It was nominated for three South African Music Awards and had hit songs on Kaya FM and Munghana Lonene FM [South African radio stations].

The Grassroots album African Moods is also available from Kalahari, and check out the Facebook group called "friends of gito baloi" which will also be the name of the collective of musicians who will be performing tracks from Beyond.

Look out for this - Oppikoppi etc.and funky video coming soon on YouTube too. So get down and pass this on (for Gito and his family, and because it's a great album to have in your collection) ....

* With some slight tweaks and added links by me.