Teeth

Mosasaur teeth

Mosasaur teeth

Setting the Vista Taskbar to Autohide from Delphi 2009

Banged my head against this for quite some time. What I really wanted was a fullscreen app that appeared over the taskbar. While it appears that this is simple in XP, in Vista not so much. However, setting the form’s FormStyle to fsStayOnTop and WindowState to wsMaximized in combination with the code below to turn the Taskbar’s auto hide flag on achieves what I needed, and a bit more pleasantly as well (the Taskbar animates nicely out of the way).

Here’s the code from the FormShow event handler (you’ll need ShellAPI in your ‘uses’ statement):

procedure TMainForm.FormShow(Sender: TObject);
var
  AppBarData: TAppBarData;
  AutoHideOn: boolean;
begin
  //check if autohide on already
  AppBarData.cbSize := SizeOf(AppBarData) ;
  AutoHideOn :=(SHAppBarMessage(ABM_GETSTATE, AppBarData) 
       and ABS_AUTOHIDE) > 0;

  OrigTaskBarParam := -1;

  //if it isn't, then we will turn it on temporarily
  if not AutoHideOn then
  begin
    AppBarData.hWnd := FindWindow('SHELL_TRAYWND', nil);
    //we'll also save the user's taskbar settings and 
    //restore them to the way they had them when we close
    OrigTaskBarParam := SHAppBarMessage(ABM_GETSTATE, AppBarData);
    //now we'll set it the way we want it
    AppBarData.lParam := LParam(ABS_ALWAYSONTOP or ABS_AUTOHIDE);
    SHAppBarMessage(ABM_SETSTATE, AppBarData);
  end;
end;

Now, to be nice we’re saving the user’s original taskbar settings (before we fucked around with them) in a private field (OrigTaskBarParam) of our form. We’ll use this again in the form’s destroy handler:

procedure TMainForm.FormDestroy(Sender: TObject);
var
  AppBarData: TAppBarData;
begin
  //if we modified this we'll set it back to the original state
  if OrigTaskBarParam <> -1 then
  begin
    AppBarData.cbSize := SizeOf(AppBarData) ;
    AppBarData.lParam := OrigTaskBarParam;
    AppBarData.hWnd := FindWindow('SHELL_TRAYWND', nil);
    SHAppBarMessage(ABM_SETSTATE, AppBarData);
  end;
end;

Head

Head in the Snow

Head in the Snow

Flower

Orchid

Orchid

Obama’s Feb. 24th Address to the Nation

Conservative Andrew Sullivan gives us one of the best live blogs of tonight’s address and he ends with the best summary of the speech and what is to come:

“But look: the politics and rhetoric are superb, but all that matters is whether he can pull this off. The results are all that matter now. He has this moment; it could make him and the rest of us. It could destroy him or us. It’s our job in this crisis to support him and to criticize him constructively. We need to rise to the occasion he is rising to. And maybe most of us will.”

Hopefully we will.

The New Deal (no, not that one) and the Sazerac

Generally, when I get interested in a topic, I get really fucking interested in a topic. My wife would say pathologically obsessive. Being a geek this obsessiveness usually involves a lot of books, magazines, websites and old-fashioned experimentation.

So the targets of my obsessive focus lately have been drinks.

Wow. I had no idea.

For years I’ve been quietly sipping scotch (my older brothers had started me on this) and yet had never really had bourbon. I’d had the occasional screw-driver and had made my wife a few Cosmopolitans (I think she even bought me the cocktail shaker for just that purpose). And yet I had never tried a martini or a gimlet (or gin for that matter). Needless to say, I have now rectified this situation.

So following months of digging, playing (and, uh, drinking) a few beverages stand out from the crowd for me. These have become my defaults when nothing else comes to mind.

The New Deal

The New Deal

The latest of these (and apt for the times) is the New Deal. One thing the New Deal shares in common with the other drinks in my frequently drunk club is simplicity. My recipe for it is based on David Embury’s in his classic book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” (available at Amazon).

  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz. Torani Amer
  • splash of symple syrup
  • ice
  • twist of orange peel (dropped in)

The original calls for Amer Picon but this is nearly impossible to acquire in the USA so Torani Amer is my substitute (you can read more on the Amers at Robert Hess’ The Spirit World). You can get Torani Ameri at WineGlobe if they don’t have it near you. If you do happen to have Amer Picon, you can get away with using a bit less (1/2 oz maybe) as it has a stronger taste then the Torani.

New Deal ingredients

New Deal ingredients

The New Deal is simple but full in flavor, the Amer brings a slight orange spice taste and aroma to the bourbon without being too citrus. You do have to be careful with the syrup though, there is a fine line between just enough to open up the sweetness of the other ingredients and way too much. I use just a small splash of it. Put it all in a rocks glass, stir, twist the orange peel over it and drink. Very comforting.

The Sazerac

The Sazerac

The other staple that’s likely to be in my hand on a given evening is the Sazerac. Now there’s a lot of lore out there about this drink and a lot of hand-waving about the one true and proper way of making it. Of course it was originally made none of these ways in New Orleans (the original was made with brandy not rye). Searching online will bring up several histories of and recipes for this classic. One of the best is here. So my version is my version not because I claim it to be better, more authentic or any such snobbishness, it’s just the way I like it.

  • 2 oz. Rye
  • splash of absinthe
  • splash of symple syrup
  • a few of dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
  • optionally a drop or two of Angostora (or better yet Fee Bros. Whiskey barrel aged bitters)
  • ice
  • twist of lemon peel (I like it dropped in, but others contend this is bad)

Now there is a method to this drink. Again lotsa hand-waving around this online. I keep it simple, mainly because I’m lazy. First pour the splash of absinthe in a decent heavy chilled glass. You want there to be enough to swirl around a bit to coat the sides. When swirled, pour out the excess (or drink it if it’s your glass). I tend to leave just a small amount still in the glass (not too much though). Next, pour in the splash of simple syrup and the bitters. Add a couple of cubes of ice, pour rye over it and then do the twist.

I am committing sacrilege with the ice by the way. Also apparently with the peel. So it goes. See Jeffrey Morgenthaler for more do’s and don’ts of Sazeracs. My favorite is this:

“Do not shake your Sazerac. Remember, shaking a clear drink is like shaking a baby: first there’s going to be a lot of foam, and then you’ll be staring death in the face.”

Alternately (and, yes, more correctly and authentically), stir the rye, bitters and syrup in a separate glass with ice until well-chilled, then strain into the chilled absinthe coated glass. This is a bit more work, more authentic and all, but I tend to go quick and easy on this one and do it all in one glass. Advantage to the two glass method is that the ice cubes don’t go into the final glass so no excessive dilution if it takes you awhile to drink it.

It’s important to use rye whiskey for this drink. It doesn’t work well with bourbon or other whiskeys. I prefer the Sazerac 6 year old rye from the Sazerac Company though I intend to try others (have some Rittenhouse on order). Unfortunately, the Sazerac (and any other rye but Jim Beam) can be hard to find around my parts.

Back

Pond at Umstead

Pond at Umstead

Yes, it has been a long time. Lot of reasons for that but mostly just had other stuff to do. This coming year is going to be another busy one. 2008, though successful, was in many ways dismal to me. Too much of work was documents, contracts and selling. Now that most of that is done, 2009 I hope to be the year of much coding (and much photography to keep me sane)…

So besides the two large projects I need to get coded and released in the next 8 months, the other goal (in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions) is to get some more photographs out there. Don’t know how or what yet but it’s time.

I’ve voted for Barack Obama

Video via Jon Taplin

I’m not voting tomorrow, November 4th, because I, like millions of others in my home state of North Carolina, have already turned in my ballot. Instead I will be out doing what I can to bring others to the poll to cast their votes for Barack Obama. We may not win in NC but it will be close and I am hopeful that we will win across enough of the rest of the country to make a difference.

Several months ago, I wrote before the Democratic primary in NC of the things that I had never done before but now have done for Obama. I’d never made a donation to a campaign, put a candidate’s bumper sticker on my car or put a sign in my yard. Today, I did another thing that I never thought my quiet introverted self would be doing – knocking on doors for a candidate. I loved it. What I’ve done today and will do tomorrow is nothing compared to what other committed volunteers out there have accomplished, but this is what Obama’s campaign has been built on. Obama has brought in people who have never been part of the process before, not just the disenfranchised but also the previously ambivalent. People have been giving him a day or two or just a few hours and these have been people who have never in their lives felt the need to do this for anyone or anything. These are not Democratic party stalwarts, these are people like me, spending a day or few hours off doing what they think is right. This is what I hope makes the difference tomorrow.

And that is one other thing Barack Obama has made me do that I had not done in a very long time… Hope.

Fucking love this

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan

Some hope…

This gives me some hope in our country:

Via The Huffington Post and the Amercan News Project