The iPhone Crowd

For the technophiles who understand the grunting undertones of the UK’s hit television series “The IT Crowd” and who also happen to understand the grunting undertones of the Tim Allenisms when it comes to modern technology (and who happen to be fortunate enough to own an iPhone) we have a special treat for you today!

The IT Crowd Ringtone.
It’s the free remix track offered by Painting By Numbers trimmed down to fit and converted to be read as an iPhone ringtone. Certainly it would have been nice to keep the full 47 second hum-dinger, but Apple forces some limits on this no matter what the file size.

Originally, I wanted to make a ringtone that would loop nicely – and did, but it didn’t start off where I wanted it to. Besides, who lets their phone ring for more than 30 seconds?

So I opted to just trim out the middle – you get the start and the finish. It’s like a bologna sandwich without the bologna!

The IT Crowd (remix for ringtones).m4r

For those who can play regular mp3s as ringtones, we’ve got you covered:
The IT Crowd remix ringtone.mp3

Jelly-making in the Rockies

High altitude is great for crisp dry air, beautiful winter snow and alpine flowers. It is not good for baking, candy making or jelly making. I nearly fumbled the jelly this year by trying to follow the recipe. I don’t see any high-altitude directions, so assumed there weren’t any major differences. How wrong I was!

Trying to get the pectin, fruit juice and sugar to set at 220 Fahrenheit is next to impossible. Why? Water at this altitude boils at 200 degrees, not 212. By the time you reach 220 degrees you’ve well over burned your jelly or candy. That means the jelly-set temperature is closer to 207 degrees, adjusted for percentage – not geometric difference. For those higher in altitude than the mile-high city, I suggest you start testing your jelly around 206 degrees on a frozen saucer(freeze a few saucers for multiple tests).

Barometric pressure also plays a factor. It changes widely and quickly in the mountains and can really mess up your candies and jellies if not watched after.

A candy maker told me that in this area you have to watch the weather for a solid clear sky and check for storm patterns when making your candies or they won’t come out.

Chocolate and fudge is a little more forgiving. Still, I’ve even had some crystallized fudge from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory before so even well seasoned candy makers can have their off-days.

So how did the black raspberry — red currant jelly come out? Much of the water boiled out leaving a very thick, very hard set, very strong jelly. Not burned, thank goodness, but it almost did.

It’s as black and dense as midnight though clear as a jewel and spreads on a deep, rich, royal purple. It would probably do better spooned out and diluted to be served as a syrup because of its intense raspberry flavor, but still goes well with the hearty flavor of hearty-grained or strong buttermilk breads. It probably wouldn’t do well on water crackers.

I had another interesting and fun basic geometric math problem to solve while making the jelly. The recipe calls for 2.25 cups of sugar for every 2.5 cups of juice after straining. All the juice had been strained in the pot it would be made in and I didn’t want to make a mess of the dark juice. I remembered that you could convert metric volume into liters – that, after all, is the definition of a liter. Liters could be converted into cups, which could then be multiplied by the ratio of sugar to juice for the correct amount of sugar without ever needing to pour the juice out of the pot.

The diameter of the pot is 24cm. The depth of the juice was 2.6cm. ( pi*(24/2)^2 ) * 2.6 is roughly 1176.212 milliliters or 1.176212 liters. There are 4.22675282 cups in a liter. That ends up being roughly 5 cups of juice, which means 4.5 cups of sugar was needed. It was a perfect example of my math teacher saying “You may want to do this someday…” becoming true.

Fantastic jelly, geeky math fun, and a story to tell. What more could you want to do with your evening … other than sharing a piece of jelly emblazoned toast with your inspiring wife?

Freebie Friday

Freebies and the way of the internet have changed over time. For example, back in the mid 1990’s you could get free packages of JellyBelly just for filling out your mailing address (no email was harvested to be sold to spammers). JellyBelly doesn’t do that anymore, but that gesture still rings loudly for large family penny-pinching dads.

Most results when searching for freebies online take you to participation businesses. You sign up for 9 credit cards (along with your soul) and they (just might) give you an iPod. I’ve been instructed to be wary of such ventures.

Fortunately, there is a site which tracks down the old fashioned freebie forms, though most forms require eMail these days. Absurdly Cool Freebie Finder provides a list of sites where you generally enter in a short form and wait for the goods to roll in. Just like the good ol’ days.

It’s even cheaper than the $39 Experiment since you don’t spend money on postage, though Tom Locke gets double-snaps for his humor and creativity. Someday I’ll do the same with my children to teach them the value of humor and not being afraid to ask.

What makes Absurdly Cool Freebie Finder really stand apart is that it has a mixture of free Christian resources side by side with fizzy bath tablets, McGruff (the Crime Dog) Trading Cards and a Monkey Brains (oatmeal) goodies bag. Fun stuff for kids, useful stuff for families.

Read the instructions on each site for privacy policies and restrictions. For example, there’s a limit of one Monkey Brains Goody bag per household, but each child’s name may be submitted for the McGruff trading cards.

Have Fun!