Sunday, January 28, 2007

My first roast coffee

Air Popcorn Popper Method
I first learned of this method from that dearly departed font of useful knowledge, the Whole Earth Review. Lately, I've been focusing attention on sensuality, mostly of food, but also other sensate experiences. I've never been a big coffee drinker, and I HATE bad coffee, but lately I've been intrigued with it's possibilities as a beverage.

To make a long story short, I've geared up for roasting and brewing REALLY good coffee.

My first roast, I think I over-roasted it - achieving more like Full City+ than the desired City+. But the Guatemalan Quiche La Perla that I got from Sweet Marias apparently is tolerant of a dark roast:

"It's a gentle coffee. I guess that's why I like the heavier roast on this a bit more; a hearty, thicker and sharper flavor profile emerges. There is a really nice nut/dark cocoa aspect coming on at FC-to-FC+ roast."

We'll see tomorrow when I grind and French Press a cup of it.

Roasting notes: Hamilton Beach Popcorn Pumper, about 5 tablespoons of green beans, First Crack (I think) was at about 6 minutes, started hearing what I thought was Second Crack at 9 minutes so I stopped.

Compare to the advice from Sweet Marias:
"Total time for a lighter roast should be around 4 minutes, full city roast around 5, and darker roasts closer to 6.5 minutes."

I wonder if the "fluidized bed" of the air popper actually runs cooler the less material you have in it, as the airflow is higher. More experimentation is in order.

The whole house smells like roast coffee :)


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Humdinger of a Nightmare

I sleep a pretty un-troubled sleep, but sometimes.....

The scenario: I'm in a theatre, watching a really, really bad 1950's vintage horror movie, and people are starting to walk out of the theatre. But the people walking out are the people who were in the movie. I start talking to them. One of them is Soupy Sales. I ask the man how he got to be in such a stinker, and he tells me, hey, it's a living. The main character though was Frank Sinatra, but I couldn't get to him to give him the business. Somehow, the atmosphere started getting darker and more menacing. By this time, I'm back in my own bedroom, and I'm really freaked. There is a dark presence in my room, and I'm petrified. And I'm not sure whether I'm dreaming or not. I'm fighting to scream, as the dark presence gets closer. It has a head, of sorts, but it's a ghostly thing, greyish white, sometimes looking like Frank from the movie, sometimes like Fran Hatch, one of my fraternity brothers who died at 20. I'm trying to scream "Who ARE You!", but the sound coming from my throat is like that of someone with Cerebral Palsy, deep, thoaty, and essentially un-intelligible. I can pass my hand clear through this presence. I wake at the same time I'm finally able to scream.

My son, in the room next door, slept through the whole thing, my moaning, screaming, etc.

None of the normal dream interpretations I can think of make any sense of this farrago of images. I checked my sleeping angel, peed, went back to bed, and slept for another 5-1/2 hours.

Go figure...


Monday, October 30, 2006

No Time Like the Present

There is nothing like a fire in your oven to induce you to clean it.

I should not be allowed to toast walnuts under the broiler, particularly when I'm trying to pull a meal together. I get preoccupied. Even though girlfriend could smell something burning from outside, the first thing I notice was when the carbon-y soot, produced by a fire that had sucked all to oxygen out of the oven, caught fire once it hit the flame and oxygen on the stovetop with all four burners flying.

I elected to open the broiler (gas oven) and drag the flaming mess outside, but I wonder if this was the best fire plan. Maybe I should have let it burn out in the oven, the flames from the walnuts were rather spectacular. Leaving it in the oven would have gotten the house even smokier than it was, it was interesting seeing a thick black cloud about a foot and a half thick cling to the ceiling.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

E-Bay Ain't Necessarily Cheaper - Alternative Ways to Shop While Buck Naked

You may recall my futzing about with a small air compressor. Well, just when I finished the enclosure for it, to cut down the sound, I turned it on, and it leaked air out of the controller. A long,boring, and horrible disassembly resulted in the determination that it was un-salvageable. The enclosure was SOOOOO tight, no other compressor would fit in it, and I didn't want to throw it out, after the time and money I'd invested in it.

I bought the original compressor on E-Bay, so I went looking there. Vendors still offered it, although not the one I bought mine from. But I never managed to win one at what I thought it was worth. Plus, shipping for something as heavy as this is high.

I have a Kragen Auto Parts (used to be Grand Auto, a locally based regional change, but they went belly up...). I'd noticed they carried air compressors, although the shop I'd checked (in person) hadn't had any like what I needed. But online, they did! And I could pick it up locally, so FREE SHIPPING.

The unit I got from them is actually higher in quality than my original version, for what amounted to less money.

One of the things I like about shopping on the Internet, whether E-Bay or otherwise, is that I can do it late in the evening when I don't have the energy to do anything else - on my project or otherwise. But the shipping eats away at any savings, and E-Bay auctions are anymore not such a bargain. I've been trying to catch a good deal on a backpacking stove, and most of the auctions, especially after shipping, have been coming in at my local retail price or MORE.

So for me, this Online Shopping/Local Delivery works well. I don't have to drive to someplace, usually on a weekend, when places like auto parts stores are a zoo, only to find that what I want is not in stock. I can order, and be SURE I can pick it up within 1-2 business days - faster than shipping, at no charge. Sears has a similar deal. Come to think of it, when Sears had a big catalog operation, back when I was a kid in the 1960's and '70's, my mom used to order from the catalog for delivery to a special catalog outlet that was closer to our home in a developing suburb than any Sears retail store and I think shipping was free then too. Recreation Equipment Inc. has this option as well.

So give it a shot.

Anyway, I got the compressor into it's enclosure, piped up the way I want it, and I used it to drive my rivet gun for the first time tonight. Pictures by the weekend.

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Monday, August 28, 2006


I'm a pretty sound sleeper, and consequently, don't often remember my dreams. Getting knocked out of REM sleep into full wakefullness is the best way to remember your dreams, and, blessed with the Sleep Of The Dead, that rarely happens - particularly since I sleep alone almost always, even when Girlfriend joins me for Adult Play Time - she sleeps very fitfully, and hates to disturb me.


Last night, perhaps due to to much stimulation (7 hours of driving) and too much caffeine (a cup of coffee and two diet Cokes - I'm not a coffee or cola person by habit), I had, and remembered several vivid dreams.

Searching for Mongo

I'm scrounging around for some small pieces of aluminum for use in my airplane project, and find pieces just the right size. But they are the wrong alloy, and will be weak once welded to a larger assembly. No Matter, my Dream self reasons, they are just shims anyway, and don't carry any real load.

Life is Short

A group of my fraternity brothers (people, white as chalk, I haven't socialized with much in the 20 years since I got sober), my brother in law (who looks like a shorter version of the Black comic Sinbad) and I are all professional golfers in a big tournament. J., who was well liked, but not exactly "General of the Boys" in real life, wins. P. who WAS a "General Of The Boys" is narrating what a wonderful thing it is that J. has won, when word comes to us that J., who was running home to tell his wife, at one of the two houses he owned nearby, has died of a heart attack at his own doorstep.


I don't see any action as necessary from the first dream, but you can be sure I e-mailed the central PoC for the Usual Suspects (my frat brothers) to get J.'s contact information, so I can see him, his wife, and family, RIGHT DAMN NOW.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

More progress on the Hacker's Diet

I'm below 190 now, having lost about 19 pounds since the start. Weekends are harder than weekdays, but if I'm busy enough (in the shop), I forget to eat, so it's not so bad ;-). Vacations are hard, particularly family obligations to the mid-West, where meals are the big highlights of each day ;-( But I've got a routine going during the work week; I know what and how much I can eat, and I'm making good progress.

I've gone from "Obese" into mere "Overweight" - I've being mulling where to stop. I definitely want to get below 180. I was thinking 170 is where I wanted to get to, but a friend of mine from work was recently very ill, and lost a ton of weight. The typical BMI calculation doesn't take age into account, and pushing 50, I'm more vulnerable to a major illness than I was at 18, so having a little cushion seems to make some sense. Still, 180 puts me right at the top of "normal" weight, and 170 is not particularly light for my height.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Pizza is the Enemy

I've been stalled for most of week on my dieting efforts. Pizza is the enemy. It's one of the only foods my son will reliably eat (mac and cheese being the other), and it's easy, with a little forethought, to make fresh in a hurry when you get home late, and have homework, shower, book, bedtime prayers to attend to, all before 8:30.

But it's pretty high in calories, even a basic slice of cheese pizza, and I can eat more than one slice at a time . The cupcakes at the Birthday Party were no help either.

Going back to a REALLY restricted day seems to have jumpstarted things again.

That day looked like this:

Breakfast: one hard boiled egg, a grapefruit
Lunch: About a 2 cups popped of popcorn, about 2 cups of Trader Joes Carrot Ginger soup, tea
Aftenoon snack: a cup each of coconut rice at my sisters house and a similar amount of ginger garlic asian coleslaw.
Dinner: A can of Progresso Minestrone with Chicken.

The key seems to be Volume - lots of bulk, with relatively low calories.

I had a hammering headache in the late afternoon, but I think that was a comgination of too much sun, some allergic involvement, AND low blood sugar.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Progress on the Hackers Diet

I'm about 10 pounds down so far, and sort of at a plateau I fear. It's HARD!!! I do pretty well during the day, but often come home and pig out.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

The Hacker's Diet

The Hacker's Diet
My weight has been an irritation to me for some time. I've been meaning to lose some for quite a while. I read Covert Bailey's Fit or Fat long before he became a late night shill for a torture machine, and thought that was the Way. Indeed, I lost a fair amount of weight using that regime several times, 20 years ago, 15 years ago, but could never get below about 180 or so.

Times change. Marriage, a kid, and injuiries that kept me from exercising, and somehow my weight had pressed above 200. Compared to my peers, I felt svelte, because most of them were fatter still, but I knew I was verging on Obese on those weight charts at the doctor's office. But it wasn't until I stepped on the scale at a restaurant in Seattle on a work trip that the awful truth became clear - 220. I didn't need to lose 20 pounds, I needed to lose 40 pounds.

I made changes, but it wasn't until I read John Walker's The Hackers Diet that I started making progress. What I've learned thusfar:
* Feedback is important - standing on the scale every day, and charting the trends is a powerful motivator.
* Make No Small Plans - a fairly severe cut in calories works for me. I'm not sure less would have worked AT ALL.
* Don't expect to be happy about it - my blood sugar is pretty close to the edge all the time, and I can be positively pre-menstrual in my emotional responses.

I've lost about 5 lbs in 2 weeks, and that seems sustainable. Good thing, because I aim to get to about 175, if not lower, in the next 6-8 months.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Picking up some loose ends

I found a peanut free hazelnut spread at Trader Joe's that the Bairn will tolerate.

The bike with the nice generator setup on it got stolen, so I tried to put a similar setup on my teeny front wheel Bike-E, which worked for a little while, then failed, for reasons unknown. I still like generator lights, and my NEW commuting bike has a Union setup.

I'm still with the Girlfriend I'm Not Supposed To Blog About.

I don't blog very often, it's true. I'm not sure why. I post comments pretty frequently on the blog of an acquaintance, and I still love to read, think, ponder, etc. But putting my thoughts down seems rather a chore.

The airplane project is sitting un-touched for the last 7 months or so, since I moved it to my backyard shop from it's tomb-like former home in an Oakland warehouse.

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

Still working on homemade, peanut-free Nutella

In a previous post I described my struggle to mimic Nutella without the allergenic peanuts which are banned at our elementary school. I'm trying a new plan, having stumbled across a full jar of Hersey's syrup in the the refrigerator of our office as we were moving out. Roughly equal portions of hazelnut paste and chocolate syrup, add evaporated milk (about 10% by volume of the existing goo), and instant cocoa to thicken it up. Heating it up a bit to dissolve the sugar in the cocoa mix helps.

To my palate, part of the problem is that the hazelnut paste doesn't taste intense enough - it's a bit oily. I haven't got any hazelnut extract, which I think is preferable to Frangelico or other hazelnut liquers. It's not there yet, but I seem to be getting more acceptance from my son. My girlfriend, on the other hand - oops, I'm not supposed to blog about her! But she ate all of my last version...

I keep wondering if I've just reinvented Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge in the guise of a luncheon food...

The wee bairn said "What did you add in here, plain Nutella?!", and "This is actually pretty good". High praise indeed, considering the source. We seem to have a winner.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Nutella Cookies

The little punk that claims to be my son bugs me from time to time. He loves Nutella, but the school he goes to banned peanuts, and the stuff is full of peanut oil. So, I've been trying to make a peanut-free version. My latest version is paralytically yummy, but my Wee Bairn won't eat it 'cause it don't taste like the stuff in the jar. Don't get me started on Mac 'n Cheese that doesn't come in a box....

Anyway, I won't eat the stuff 'cause I'm too fat for comfort already, and Girlfriend isn't over often enough to make a significant dent in the supply, so - COOKIES! Nutella is pretty much pure fat, flavored with chocolate and hazelnuts.

I improvised heavily off the recipe in the link, and while they are not as heartrendingly tasty as I had hoped, I've already eaten 3 of them.

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Monday, January 17, 2005

Silicone Lubes

Wet Platinum Premium Body Glide is really great stuff for semi-permanently lubricating Zefal Mini Double Shot telescoping bicycle pumps. I like it for other things too, but those who don't like to take petrochemicals into their bodies may object to it.

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