April 30, 2008

After 21?

Filed under: literature — origamifreak @ 8:45 pm
Tags: ,

Since last August I have been listening to Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin books in the car, on planes, in buses, and probably on trains somewhere, too. The only place I haven’t listened to them is on boats, oddly enough.

Sadly, today I heard the last, unfinished sentence of the last, unfinished book. It will be a hard series to replace. My little Civic will be strangely lonely and empty, without the benefit of an entire ship’s company in there with me. I’ve gotten very used to sharing the quarterdeck with the officers, and how on earth will we manage any broadsides, let alone three in five minutes?

Fortunately, I may have found a timely solution, via bookofjoe. Using the Literature-Map, I have a suggestion to look into historical writer Dorothy Dunnett.

Using gnooks at the same site and entering MFK Fisher, Patrick O’Brian, and Mary Renault, I’ve gotten the following additional suggestions:

* I assume they mean Robert D Kaplan?

I’ll let you know.


April 26, 2008

Tiny Bubbles

Filed under: food — origamifreak @ 11:02 am
Tags: ,

Well, I tried again. This time the rise was 5 hours, and I measured the salt so there was more, which slowed things down considerably.

There’s more sour than before, but next time I think I want to try an 8-12 hour rise – that might even fit better with a weekday schedule, anyway:

  • Evening: Mix up starter, leave overnight
  • Morning: Knead and shape into loaves, rise all day
  • Evening: Bake, leave on cooling racks
  • Morning: Put loaves away

And talking about convenience, check out these suggestions

I forgot to save back some starter before adding the oil and salt and so have been nursing a tiny bit back with gradually increasing amounts of flour and water (and at the beginning, a tiny bit of sugar). Looks like he’s recovered, though – there are lots of little bubbles.

Also, Lisa sent me a copy of her current favorite baking book, Dough. It comes with a DVD so you can watch how he kneads and handles the dough. He spends his effort on incorporating lots of air into it. I bet those loaves would rise in the oven, even without yeast, they’re so bubbly. Lisa says she isn’t going to try that experiment, but I think I might, just to see.

April 25, 2008

Hurty GERDy

Filed under: health — origamifreak @ 8:06 pm

Ugh. Wednesday night I ate too close to bedtime and woke up with reflux.

I’ve had this problem ever since my mid-20’s when I used to chain-eat ibuprofen for my cramps. In those days ibuprofen was uncoated, and I’d take it even without fluids, let alone milk. Eventually the ibuprofen burned a hole into the lining of my esophagus, and aspirin was suddenly off-limits, as well.

It used to happen only when I took aspirin or ibuprofen, and the doctors prescribed Carafate, which stopped the pain very well. As the decades advanced, I started having problems if I ate too much, or if I ate oily food, or certain spices, or sometimes, even just popcorn. About 5 years ago a friend turned me on to Pepcid AC, which also stops the pain well, and doesn’t require a prescription.

So yesterday morning I had it because I’d eaten and then gone to bed. Last night I did not make this mistake, but unfortunately woke up with it this morning anyway, and even worse. The first two Pepcid AC taken at 6:30am did not help. I took numerous hot showers to distract me from the pain.

At 8am I took one more pill, and by 8:45am the pain finally started to subside. I was exhausted from the pain and did not go to work – I was afraid it might come back, and I need to be well enough to travel Saturday-Tuesday. So I stayed home and laid low all day.

I think it’s time to consult the doctor about this – according to the internet, I might have H. pylori, and GERD can lead to nastier things like cancer.

April 20, 2008

Not Sour Enough

Filed under: food — origamifreak @ 3:48 pm

Well, the loaves I baked today rose just fine,

I also had fun with seeds and slashes,

and the crumb is good.

But the flavor just isn’t tangy enough. In fact, it’s hardly sour at all! Next time I’m going to let it sit in the fridge overnight before raising. Or just punch-down and re-raise, as my mom used to do.

BTW, the second picture is especially for Lisa, and she knows why. Hehe.

April 19, 2008

Controlled Rotting

Filed under: food — origamifreak @ 9:11 am

It’s interesting how foods that rot on their own seem disgusting, but the ones which result from humain-aided fermentation are often delicacies: wine, cheese, bread.

Having grown up in the SF Bay Area, I suppose it was inevitable that I would develop a taste for sourdough bread. It helped that my mom made it weekly, baking it in round coffee cans, the tops rising up and over like enormous mushroom caps. Later, when the public were informed that the soldered lead seams on the cans could be toxic, she unfortunately switched to standard bread pans. I still have them.

In college one summer I lived in a co-op house where there were seven of us, mostly graduate students. Six nights a week one person would plan and cook dinner. The seventh person was in charge of baking bread for the house. I was this person.

My favorite and familiar source is the Tassajara Bread Book, written in the early 1970s, cataloging the breads made at the oldest Zen monastery in the US.

A few weeks ago a colleague brought in a loaf of “Amish friendship bread,” which very much resembled a quick bread. He is also from California, and the conversation turned to sourdough, which also typically involves shared leavening culture. This made me start craving sourdough again, so I sent off for some free starter, and it arrived this week.

Following the instructions for how to wake it up, I have been nurturing what started as a teaspoon of the dried culture. The rest of the dried culture is living in two ziploc bags in the freezer, in case I need to restart it. You begin with very small amounts of flour and water. It took about a day for the yeasties to start growing and making bubbles. Gradually I added in more flour and water. This morning I was able to add a whole cup of each, and I anticipate by this evening that there will be enough to start a batch for baking.

If you want to try this too, I highly recommend the book. If you just want the basic sourdough recipe, there’s a version here.

April 18, 2008

For Stephen

Filed under: technology — origamifreak @ 9:39 pm

I promised my friend’s son that I would look up hydrogen cell technology and figure out how they get the hydrogen in there, and how the hydrogen is used to make a car go.

We speculated together that electricity can be used to generate the hydrogen, and this is true. It is more efficient to do it in other ways though (chemical, biological, heat, etc.) You can start with hydrocarbons like oil and gas, or you can start from water.

In turn, the fuel cell uses the hydrogen plus oxygen and produces electricity, which drives a motor, which makes the car go.

You unfortunately can’t make a perpetual-motion car using hydrogen cells, because it takes 2 1/2 times as much energy to make a hydrogen fuel cell than is obtained from it. (It’s that pesky 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, rearing its ugly head, as it so often does!)

April 17, 2008

Local Words

Filed under: literature — origamifreak @ 8:31 pm

Last year I took a Tai Chi class held on site after work. There were a number of advanced students in there, and I used to come early and watch them before my (beginner) class.

This year the Tai Chi did not resume, so I enrolled in water aerobics at the local Chiropractic College, which is 30 min away. In the weeks between sessions our water instructor lets us join her during the free swim time. We often go out and eat as a group afterwards.

Tonight she said she had to eat fast because she was due at a friend’s poetry reading at the local library, and invited us along. I thought, “what the heck,” and came. The woman doing the reading looked strangely familiar, but I just could not place her. A club of some kind? An outdoors thing? Finally when I got home, I realized she had been in those Tai Chi classes I observed. This really is a small community.

The poet is named Patricia Roth Schwartz, and I did very much enjoy the reading and the poems. She is animated when she reads – in contrast to her Tai Chi style – and before each poem explained the context, especially when there were references to historical items. There was a mixture of material, some about her family and about growing up in West Virginia, some about aspects of Auburn prison history, from the perspective of the prisoners. She had books for sale. I bought one of each for her to autograph and for me to read.

April 16, 2008


Filed under: cats,photography — origamifreak @ 7:09 pm

I have so much fun with my SD750,

I’m thinking about other things I could do.

Look at these examples

The problem with the current toy camera is that it only does 1 or 2 second intervals. (Besides the fact that it also can’t do shutter dragging, and I can’t change lenses, or put a neutral-density filter on easily.)

So maybe it would be fun to get an intervalometor and convert it to work with my digital Rebel.

There’s a very nice tutorial on lapses, here.

I don’t think I’d bother with the Quicktime, though – Photolapse is free and it sounds like it works just fine.

And I’ll leave you with this, which is one of my favorites.

April 15, 2008


Filed under: cats,quizzes — origamifreak @ 8:51 pm

Chris sent me this quiz today. I got 17 out of the 25 right.

Also, today Sunny turned 1. It’s kind-of strange to think that my spider-chomping little pest is exactly the same number of years younger than Miaumoto as I am to my closest sister Rose. We were both born when the older one was 15.

Somehow the age gap seems bigger between humans than between cats. Perhaps because the size and mentality are closer for cats? Perhaps because I’m a human, so I know exactly what it feels like, while I’ve never been a cat (not that I recall, anyway), so I don’t identify with their experience as closely?

April 12, 2008


Filed under: technology — origamifreak @ 11:01 pm
Tags: ,

Looks like I’m one of the last few rats leaving – most went in mid-2005:

Better late than never, I suppose!

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