Monday, August 29, 2011


I’m a big seafood fan, and lobster is one of my favorites. Today I’d like to share a few tips on selecting and eating lobsters. I won’t say much about actually cooking them as I only do that rarely when guests are very interested. Otherwise, I get my lobsters cooked by my local seafood market, or I eat lobster at a good seafood restaurant. 

As part of researching and fact checking, I came across a web site called Lobster Help and really liked it.  Give it a look!

Types of Lobsters

There are two primary kinds of lobsters that make it to our tables – Maine and Spiny. Maine lobsters are cold water lobsters with big “boxing glove” claws, while Spiny lobsters live in warmer water and don’t have the very large claws.  Spiny lobsters are sold primarily for their tails. For the rest of the way, I’ll be talking only about Maine lobster as that’s the type I’ve eaten more often.

Culls are lobsters who have lost one of their two large claws in a fight.  The damage makes them worth less in the market and of less interest on the restaurant plate, so many restaurants will offer “twin culls.”  For a discount price, they’ll cook and serve you two 1 lb or 1-1/4 lb cull lobsters and so you’ll get two tails plus two claws. This can be a really good way to go if you are a big fan of the lobster tail (and who isn’t?).

Selecting lobsters

Some people swear by smaller “chicken” lobsters, in the 1lb to 1-1/4lb range since they claim that their meat is sweeter. I don’t agree. I’ve eaten lobsters up to 3 lbs and always found the meat to be great.  In fact in the 2 and 3 lb range, the small walking legs and tail flippers have some meat, which is a great bonus. I think the perfect size for most adult appetites is 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lb. But sharing a 3 lb lobster can be really fun.

If you are selecting a live lobster from a tank in a restaurant or seafood market, pick a lively one. It’s a sign that it hasn’t been in the tank as long and is likely healthier. Other considerations:
  • Tail - A female lobster will have a slightly wider tail, which means more tail meat.
  • Claws - Look at the size of the claws.  Large claws will tend to hold larger amounts of claw meat.
  • Shell - “Hard shell” lobsters have had their shells for longer and so the meat inside fills the shell a little more. Softer “new shell” lobsters have recently molted and are growing into their shells. Some people think new shell lobster meat is sweeter, but I’m a fan of the fuller hard shell.


Lobsters are generally boiled or steamed. They turn a bright red when fully cooked.  A good restaurant will crack the shells in all the right places to make it easy to get at the meat, and to drain the water before plating it for you. Lobsters can also be steamed and then stuffed with crab and breadcrumbs and then baked.


The greenish “tomalley” found inside the main body cavity of the lobster is the liver. Eating it is your option.  I am not a big fan of tomalley. The roe (eggs) of a female lobster is sometimes also found in the main body cavity. The row is a long and thin piece of meat and an orange or reddish color when cooked. Eating it is your option.  I find it to be delicious.

Ready to eat!

When the bright red cooked lobster is on your plate, cracked and ready, and your lobster bib is tied on, you are ready to dig in. I suggest having a cold lager with your lobster, but I know others who prefer a glass of white wine. Add an ear of fresh crisp summer corn (boiled or roasted and not overdone) and a little clarified butter for dipping the lobster meat.  

Enjoy one of life's great dining experiences, and please let us know in the comments if you have a favorite way to pick or eat a lobster that wasn't mentioned here.


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

RapidGroove ReRun: A Hand Possessed

During my summer vacation I'm running a few re-runs in my blog.  
This one was originally published on MONDAY, July 11, 2011 at this URL: 

What if you could strap a simple looking belt around your upper forearm, and instantly have the skills of a concert pianist, a virtuoso harpist, or a skilled surgeon?

Well you can’t – at least not quite yet. But you might be surprised to hear that there’s work being done at University of Tokyo that is leading in that direction. It's called PossessedHand (really) and they are well beyond the theory phase. They have working prototypes that reliably allow electrical signals to muscles to prompt very specific finger movements. In the lab, they’ve had a set of people use the technique to help learn to play songs on a Japanese harp called a koto, with good results.

A belt (which isn’t so simple looking at this point) is strapped around a forearm and electrodes allow stimulation to reach the proper muscles to allow for specific movements.  This allows for control of 16 different joint movements.

While learning to play musical instruments seems like an interesting possibility, life-saving skills like surgery seem a little far off. Other applications might include physical or occupational therapies, prompting muscle movements that can help people on the road to recovery from injuries.

Under the right circumstances, I think I’d give it a try.  Would you let your hand be “possessed?” 

Please leave your comments here.


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Friday, August 19, 2011

RapidGroove ReRun: And U and I?

During my summer vacation I'm running a few re-runs in my blog.  
This one was originally published on MONDAY, APRIL 11, 2011 at this URL:

I’m no linguist, but I know that language evolves. The way English is spoken and written today is clearly different from the ways in which it existed hundreds of years ago. The same is true for other languages. New words are sometimes introduced, while some words fall out of common use. 

What makes any particular change in language acceptable? I don’t think it’s up to the dictionary. Not exactly. I think the use of a word or phrase reaches a tipping point.

There are already some words, phrases, and acronyms/abbreviations that have come into common use because of mobile phone text messaging. Not all of them seem like winners to me, but there’s one in particular I think I can defend.

If the word I use for myself is “I” – one single letter that is as clear as can be – why is it somehow wrong for the word I use for you to be, well, “U”. I know that a sea of the best literature, as well as letters, newspapers and magazines have been filled with the word “you” for as long as anyone alive today can remember. And for a lot longer than that. But so what?  What if this is the moment in time where “you” transforms to “u” for all uses, and does so in a way in which it is just as acceptable in High School English class as it is in the text message my teenager sends to me?

You becomes U. Your becomes Ur. I suppose You’re becomes U’re. Maybe even U’r.

U mean the world to me.   
I love u.  
U are the sunshine of my life.

I think I’m already getting used to it.  How about u?

Please post your comments and thoughts.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

RapidGroove ReRun: TV Without The TV

During my summer vacation I'm running a few re-runs in my blog.  
This one was originally published on May 20th 2011

Watching TV Without The TV:
When Does One-Way, Big Appliance TV Go Extinct

Some people are wondering whether TV sales are now at a tipping point, stalled in growth and maybe even on a decline that is likely to continue.  Is this the beginning of the end of television as we know it?  Is television, like the landline home phone, a dedicated appliance that increasingly seems out of step with the way we live?

The theory is that younger people are spending more of their “screen” time on the Internet on their laptops, iPads, and smartphones.  Some of that time is spent doing non-TV things like playing Angry Birds, web surfing, using Skype and FaceTime, and of course listening to music.  But some of that time is spent watching TV or similar content. 

Similar content? What are people watching on computers and mobile devices?  What do they want to watch?  What’s the mix of traditional 30-60 minute programming versus short clips popular on YouTube and similar video services?  And what about content that splits the difference, sometimes called “webisodes?”  One example is the Internet series The Guild that pokes fun at online gamers in a 5-minute sitcom format, but which is distributed on the web.  Similar in length and access, hip informational video podcasts like and inspiring talks from the TED conferences are drawing an audience.

Are people moving away from the lean-back 30-60 minute content of their father's generation and moving towards the lean-forward YouTube and webisode content?  Do enough people want 30-minute sitcoms on their computer to make it a worthwhile business?  Hulu thinks they might.  Does anyone want The Guild on their 50” television? Roku and Boxee are betting they do.

So today’s question is how is TV changing for you and the people around you?  Are you part of the “dropped my landline phone, never buying a TV again” set?  Were you never a television watcher?  Are you an avid TV watcher waiting to buy an 80” 4D Hyper HDTV when they drop below $10,000?

Tell us about your “view” of the changing television landscape.  Please post your comments here.


If you enjoy this blog, please +1 it below, share it on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, or suggest it to your friends.  More readers will drive more discussion. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

RapidGroove ReRun: Web As Echo Chamber

During my summer vacation I'm running a few re-runs in my blog.  
This one was originally published on May 13th 2011


The Web As Echo Chamber:
When Algorithms Rob You Of the Unexpected

My web experience isn’t the same as yours.  In fact every day, my web experience is more and more my own (and less and less like yours).  Google gives me search results it thinks I want based on all it now knows about me.  Amazon shows me products it thinks I may want to buy.  The ads I see on Facebook or on news sites are for things I may have searched for lately.  A really pronounced example was when I was car shopping this past March and advertising for the models I was researching were everywhere I looked.

I think it’s reasonable to wonder whether this is always really a good thing. 

The idea that Facebook and Google can tailor their services to meet my needs seems very customer friendly.  And I certainly understand that some services are almost entirely funded by advertising, so I should expect to see targeted ads based on my shopping and searching habits.  

But am I slowly being shielded from opposing views, new music and literature, and seeing only what some algorithms think I want?  If so, we may all be at risk of creating our own little echo chambers, where the ideas, people, products and services we encounter are so customized that we are at risk of being cut off from the best experiences of the Internet – being exposed to new ideas and new things.

Try this experiment.  Really try it.  Sit down side by side with someone who is demographically and politically different from you.  Both go to Google.  Try a few searches.  Do you always get the same results?  Do you ever? Go to Amazon.  Does Amazon show you the same recommendations?

I admit, I don’t want my custom experience to go away.  I just want a little more transparency, maybe a little more control.  I think I may want to turn off the customization from time to time to see if I might have a few unexpected experiences.

What about you?

Leave a comment here, and please share my blog with friends if you find it interesting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Blogging About My Blog

4 months, 50 posts, and 3000 pageviews later

Almost exactly 4 months ago I kicked off a blog not knowing quite what to expect. I wanted another creative outlet, and I felt pretty confident that there were lots of topics on which I held opinions. I happen across plenty of items of interest in my daily reading on Information Technology, and I have hobbies I like to talk about, such as fishing and cooking. So I launched RapidGroove and started posting entries 2 or 3 times a week.

Topics have come fairly easily.  I kept an informal list of possible topics on my computer, adding items as I came across news items or ideas of interest to me.  Sometimes people contact me and suggest topics. At any given time there were five or more items on that list. Once on the list, my brain worked on them a bit in the background. A few times a week, usually in the evening, I'd decide which were ripe and I'd sit down and write a draft. The next morning when I woke up, I'd re-read and edit and then post.

It's hard to know how to measure "success."  The process itself is therapeutic, so I think I've already succeeded.  But I also think that a part of me wants to measure success in size and engagement of audience, so I'll admit it - I look at pageview stats every week, and I wish for some more readers who'd give me a "+1" after reading a post (in the little area following the post). I also wish I'd see more comments.  But I know that this kind of active engagement is a level of participation that has to be earned over time, and that the better my topics and my writing, the more I'll see it.

Here are a few things I've learned from reviewing statistics:
  • Anytime I write about Google or Apple, I get more pageviews.  Which is great, because I'm really very interested in Google and Apple.
  • Information Security topics aren't popular with my readers. Which is a shame because I like Information Security topics.
  • Facebook still drives more traffic to me than Twitter or Google+.
  • Surprisingly to me, my cooking and fishing entries are really quite popular. That tells me that lots of my readers are my friends and co-workers, and for them a blog entry on my hobbies is sort of a longer social network post.
  • Readers like gadgets more than abstract ideas.  I myself like both.

Here are a few things I've learned from speaking with friends:
  • Those not in the tech industry say they appreciate my taking tech news items and rolling them up and putting some context around them.
  • Those in the tech industry like reading one of my posts and then engaging privately with me, to agree or disagree.  It's a conversation starter.
  • Friends I haven't spoken with in years contact me when one of my blog entries is of interest to them. I love this.

Here are some topics I may write about soon. Do any of them look interesting to you? Leave a comment and I'll write on those with most interest first.
  • New Apple iPhone coming this fall
  • Selecting, Cooking, and Eating Lobster
  • Ayn Rand and 21st Century Capitalism
  • Digital Reputation Management
  • Cord-cutting...  Dropping Phone and CableTV, keeping Internet only? 
  • Google and Commerce
  • Paying By Smartphone
  • Renewable Energy: Solar
  • LED Light Transmission of Data
  • The EFF
  • Net Neutrality
  • Free online services: our data and their business model

Finally, I'm taking a vacation for the next few weeks from work and from blogging.  I'll return to this blog in September with a post on upcoming Apple iPhones, unless Apple releases something in August (which I don't expect).  During the rest of August I plan to run a few blog entry "re-runs", perhaps once a week.

Have a great August and thanks for reading RapidGroove!

If you enjoy this blog, please +1 it below, share it on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, or suggest it to your friends.  More readers will drive more discussion. Thanks!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Small-ball Fishing

Getting simple can be fun

My little Boston Whaler
Friends and frequent blog readers know that I have two boats. Freedom, my larger boat, is a 26’ Sailfish center console sport fishing boat great for longer trips and larger groups. My smaller boat, which is unnamed so far, is a 15’ Boston Whaler that’s low to the water and great for getting into “skinny” water (shallows). It works really well for one or two people to get to nearby fishing spots.

This past weekend I had been thinking the weather, wind and tides would be right and I’d take my big boat out for some ocean fishing, but some mechanical problems kept Freedom at the dock. I was alone, so I decided to change plans and prep the little boat for some nearby fishing.

Nice fluke, about to be released
As I prepped the little boat, I saw three of my friends getting their larger boats ready for some ocean fishing.  I thought briefly about asking to join them, but all three appeared to have young family members along, so I decided to let them have a family day and stick to my plans.

Watch out for teeth!
Prepping Freedom for a day of fishing takes me about 30 minutes. The little whaler was ready to go in less than 10. That’s because I took so much less gear.  While I might often take 2 or 3 rods per person, rigged for different kinds of fish, on this day I took just one rod. I selected a medium-weight spinning rod that I could use for fluke fishing, but that could quickly be changed over to top water casting if I saw bluefish. On Freedom I might take two tackle boxes in addition to the 4 on-board tackle trays, and I might stow 4 kinds of bait in the bait well, but here I took one small tackle box with a minimal mix of rigs and lures, and just one kind of bait.

Sea Robin
Off I went. I didn’t need to stick to the channels because the little Whaler draws less than a foot of water. So I zipped around the bay and took short paths to fishing spots. Over the course of the day I heard some of my friends on open VHF radio channel 68, talking about ocean conditions and fish.  But mostly, I caught one fish after another. All the fluke I caught were “short” – fluke have to be 20.5” in NY to be keepers and these fish were all 17-18” so not even close.  But I really enjoyed catching them, and all were released healthy back into the water to be caught when they grew up a bit more. A few Sea Robins were mixed in, but then on a catch and release day, even these junk fish are fun.

By the end of the day I had landed 20 fish. I was back to the dock quickly, and clean-up was fast and easy with no fish to filet and minimal gear to wash and put away.

A day out on a larger, well-equipped boat like Freedom, with a chance to catch larger ocean fish is a pleasure. But so is a simple skinny-water adventure, and I was glad to be reminded of that fact this past weekend.  Sometimes simple can be great!

(and a P.S. to my friends fishing Shinnecock Bay: there are a lot of fluke these days at Rampasture Point just west of bouy 15. Go get 'em!)

If you enjoy this blog, please +1 it below, share it on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, or suggest it to your friends.  More readers will drive more discussion. Thanks!