July 4th, 2014

American Flag

Virtual Friday

No work on the 4th, so today was like Friday, except that boss is on vacation for 2 weeks so no sense in doing my weekly report.

Got almost nothing done today. Tried to get the video room working, but Loud Guy never showed up to help.

Lunch at Sizzler. They have greatly reduced the salad bar choices. No more garbanzos, for instance.

Stayed late watching some of the engineers playing pool, wondering why they were hanging around late on a day most people would leave early.

Took the non-freeway route to San Jose after looking at the map. Only 2 minutes difference in normal traffic, and freeway is never normal.

Got a good parking spot half a block from SJ Stage, which used to be SJ Rep, I think. Had time to waste so I walked around the block slowly, City Lights marquee said they will be doing Spamalot on the 24th. That's about the 12th Bay Area production this year. Always happens when the community theater rights are released.

Saw Bonnie and Clyde, the musical. It got mixed reviews, but I mostly went to see the guy playing Clyde because I enjoyed working with him 7 years ago on Jekyll & Hyde, and saw him in concert a couple of times after that with the woman he killed in J&K. They were An Item™ for a couple of years but he isn't local, and now she's serious about someone else who does not impress me nearly as much.

I didn't recognize him. Even after 2 hours I didn't recognize him. 80% of that is he is just that good an actor but 20% is he has changed a lot. He is more buff, beardless for the part, and his voice is way more powerful.

I'll do a real review of the show tomorrow.

Home, litterbox cartridges I ordered yesterday were on my porch. iPod touch was in the mailbox. When I took it out of the box & wrapping, it was powered on with more than half a charge, and that's all the way from Minnesota, June 30. Ebay seller did not erase it, usually I would have snooped but this time I just wiped it and synced it with my iTunes. I'll try it in the car tomorrow.

The community is all bunting and flags along the road to the Center, and there is an all-day celebration with stuff from 11-5, but I'm not really interested, will probably go see a movie, and or stay at home and enjoy my air conditioning.

Plans for tomorrow also include filling the car's gas tank and washing off some bird poop.

Two Things Before I get Showered and Dressed on this day off

Sourdough starter.
About 3 weeks ago I had a jones to make sourdough bread, triggered by a friend asking around for sourdough starter. Looked online and found a very simple recipe for making the starter. Simple but it took a week. I was in no rush, so I started with the small amount of white flour I had on hand, and a ceramic bowl. The recipe is simple: 4 oz of flour to 4 oz of water, by weight. Which is why I was looking for my kitchen scale, and why I bought one online.

Instead of something that looked like yeast activity, after the prescribed 5 days there was almost 2 quarts of poisonous orange-tinted sludge. It took me a week to admit defeat and pour that down the drain.

My last trip to The Milk Pail, they had rye flour in bulk. Not much was in the bin, so I only bought about 2 lbs. My favorite sourdough bread is rye, so I put 2 and 2 together here. The reason I had not used rye to begin with is (a) the white flour recipe made it sound like white is the most reliable and (b) I didn't have any other flour on hand.

Tangentially, this started me on a search for caraway seeds, which in my youth were always a part of sourdough rye. Safeway doesn't carry them. Neither does Trader Joe's. Lucky's does.

And I found a recipe for rye starter. It explained what I had done wrong. Looking at the original recipe, I saw that I had the proportions of flour to water all wrong, and I did not follow the command to toss half the batch out every day before adding another round of flour and water. The new recipe explained, where the original didn't, that each day you're removing half the batch and feeding it. The theory being that the yeast has already devoured what it can from yesterday's feeding, and Bad Stuff builds up in the container which will kill off the yeast if it is not cut back.

I'm at Day 3 now, and last night the rye starter was already doubled in bulk, and it is deliciously sour, so this looks like a WIN. If I really wanted to I could have put the half into another container and fed it, doubled down, but I don't have that much rye flour or that many containers of counter space to do that every day for 4 days.

I forgot what the other thing was.

The other thing

Was triggered by Loncon3's announcement that rates are going up soon.

In my Hugo nomination readings, I was so looking forward to one entry co-authored by a favorite person/YA author, Ellen Klages. Best Novella prospect by her and Andy Duncan is called Wakulla Springs, and after a few pages I realize I had read this before. And as I re-read it, I think it is misplaced and does not belong in a science fiction/fantasy competition. I'll wait until I am finished, because the teaser makes it sound like it is about the mysterious creatures in and around the springs, but so far, after a lot of reading, what we have here is a young adult work of historical fiction set in the Jim Crow south. And I'm not finding it as well-written as other Klages works. One more novella to go after this, Equoid, by Charles Stross, another Tor publishing work.

Edit add: Finished Wakulla Springs, and was flabbergasted that the next chapter is very short and skips 20 years. It inserts one of those "was it real or a sleep deprivation-induced hallucination" events. Next chapter, also short, skips a generation and ends with a paragraph which would qualify the story as science fiction had the rest of the story truly led up to it. In the interest of no spoilers, that last paragraph was about the same as ending a historical fiction about Joan of Arc with a soldier looking up at the sky and seeing a UFO. FAIL.