Why I may make a summer pilgrimage to Calgary

Art, Canada, News, People No Comments

KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!.

Strawberry season! Eee!

Food, Recipes 4 Comments

I love strawberries. I love all berries really, but local perfectly-ripe strawberries (the smaller the better) are just about the best thing ever. The only drawback of strawberry season is that it spells the sad and inevitable end of asparagus season. Woe!

I picked up a pint of local strawberries and a half dozen beautifully ripe apricots today (I think the apricots are from California). After I accidentally ate half the strawberries standing in front of the fridge (which will be a frequent occurrence whilst strawberry season continues) I made a simple fruit salad with yogurt sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 apricot, pitted and cut into 16 pieces (8 wedges, halved)
  • 16 small strawberries, hulled (take the green bit off)
  • 1/4 c plain yogurt (I used 2.5% fat)
  • 1 tsp white sugar (or less if you prefer)
  • Seeds from 1″ piece of vanilla bean (cut an inch of seed, split it open, the scrape out the goopy paste in the middle — that goop is the seeds and is awesome)

Method

  1. Mix yogurt, vanilla seeds, and sugar together in a small bowl. Stick in the fridge for 10 mins or so, then stir again.
  2. Put apricot cubes and strawberries in a bowl, top with vanilla yogurt. Eat!

Pretty tasty. This was dessert after a dinner of tilapia (a ridiculously boring fish), sweet potato, and asparagus. Yum.

Reclaiming my fragmented attention-stream

Internet, Productivity, Technology, Web, Work 9 Comments

I love the Internet. It is a fundamental part of my daily life — my work, my hobbies, my interests, my news, my entertainment, and my communication streams all involve computers, the Internet, and/or the Web in some way. Recently there has been an explosion in the number of applications I use to get information and to communicate with people online: email (Google, Zimbra), IRC, IM (jabber, AIM, ichat), Twitter, web feeds (back up to over 350 now), a host of forums, an even larger host of websites (both social and non), and so forth.

Unfortunately, the result is that my attention is utterly fractured. If it’s not a conversation in one of my dozen IRC channels it’s an IM message; if not an IM message then it’s a Twitter update, or an email, or my feed reader has new items, or I’m flipping through my dozens of browser tabs, or my calendar is reminding me of one or another meetings or other appointments. I am becoming overwhelmed by this firehose of information, and it’s destroying my ability to focus, to read and think deeply, and, fundamentally, to get work done.

It needs to stop. At very least, it needs to be reduced to a trickle. Thus, I am going on an information diet. The changes I will be working towards are outlined below. “Working towards” means that while I doubt I will stick strictly to this regimen, it is the disciplined ideal towards which I strive.

1) During the work day I will only be checking personal email twice — once at the beginning of the day, and once at lunch (“lunch” can range from 11am to 2pm Eastern Time). After hours, I’ll check when I happen to think of it.

2) During the non-work day I will only be checking work mail once — sometime between dinner and bed. No guarantees what time that will be or whether I’ll be doing anything more than flagging items of interest to deal with the next work day.

3) Over the weekend I will be checking both personal and work mail only twice per day — once in the morning and once before bed.

4) Scheduled meetings are sacred. If I’m scheduled and expected to attend a meeting, I will. If it’s an optional meeting, I will make the decision whether or not to attend when my iCal reminder pops up. If there’s an optional meeting you think I should definitely attend, let me know. I don’t mind meetings, I just want to keep them to a useful minimum.

5) Twitter, while entertaining, has not yet proven to be useful. It will be getting shut off during work hours from here on out. Bummer because it’s invariably good for a laugh, but it’s just too distracting.

6) I will be reducing my IRC channels to the bare minimum during work days. Outside of work hours, all bets are off. If you need to contact me try instant message first, calling my work extension second, or calling my cell third. If I respond to none of these, please email me at my work address if it’s work-related or my personal address if it’s not-work-related.

7) I’ve organized my web feeds into two major groups: “Work” and “Everything Else”. I am reducing the update frequency from every 15 mins to every 2 hours. I will only be checking the “Everything Else” group outside of work hours. Oh lolcats, I will miss you so.

8) When I’m in a phone meeting I will be minimizing all windows except those directly involved with the meeting (agenda, notes, backchannel). Harsh, but necessary. I sat through two phone meetings today and realized that I didn’t hear a single word because I was too busy yammering away in unrelated IRC channels and scanning my web feeds. This is both rude and a complete waste of time, and I apologize for it.

9) I will be unplugging for at least one work hour per day. This means I will simply go offline. During that time I will either be reading, thinking, or working on proposals/documentation/etc. If it turns out that I’m getting solid work done, I reserve the right to extend my unplugged time indefinitely. Turns out a lot of my job is thinking, reading, and writing. If I appear to be offline and you need to contact me, call my extension or my cell.

10) Kinhin. Ok, not technically kinhin, but a very distant personal approximation thereof. Kinhin is a walking form of Zen meditation. Real Zen practitioners do kinhin between periods of zazen (sitting meditation), and it is a very rigorous, formal practice. For me it just means “walking for an hour every day and trying to get my mojo back”.

Sweet potato and chickpea curry

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes 2 Comments

Sort of made this one up as I went, using what I had on hand. Turned out really, really well.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 med red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 med clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes, do not drain these – you want the juice
  • 2 med sweet potatoes, cut into half-inch dice
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 19oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt (whatever fat content you prefer, I used 2.5%)

Method
Heat peanut oil in a medium-sized sauce pan (with lid) over medium heat. Saute onions in oil for 5-7 minutes or so. Toss in grated ginger and garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cook for another 4-5 minutes or so — the curry powder will stick to the bottom of the pot but don’t worry about it, it’ll all work out in the end.

Dump in the diced tomatoes, including all the juices. Stir and heat until simmering — at this point the curry powder will stop sticking to the pot. Simmer the tomato mixture for a few minutes then add the cubed potatoes. Add water, stir, and cover. Turn down the heat to med-low, and simmer until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart, 20-25 mins.

Add drained chickpeas, stir, and continue to simmer at med-low heat until the potatoes are as soft as you like. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 mins or so, then stir in the yogurt. You should end up with a nice rich slightly saucy curry.

Serve over rice.

Curry Powder

Food, Recipes No Comments

Made a yummy curry tonight, using the last of my homemade curry powder. Definitely need to make more. This stuff is fantastic (and is stolen shamelessly from A New Way to Cook).

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method
In a small heavy skillet, combine the coriander, cumin, and peppercorns and toast over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining spices.

When cool, put into a spice grinder (a cheap bladed coffee grinder does the trick) and grind for at least a minute until you have a fine powder.

Store in a small airtight container.

Note: This is not spicy-hot at all. If you want heat, add cayenne pepper — start with 1/4 tsp cayenne per tablespoon of curry powder and adjust from there.

Do you have a copy of this book?

Books, Work No Comments

The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900.

If you do, I would be very interested in either borrowing or buying it from you. I’ll pay shipping and maybe send you a nice present. Leave a comment or email me at deb-at-dria-dot-org ! Thank you!

(Amazon lies about shipping estimates. Lies lies lies.)

It is not the state — it is the people

Books, General No Comments

Bradbury still has a lot to say, especially about how people do not understand his most literary work, Fahrenheit 451 , published in 1953.

Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

Link.

“two decades have brought zero advance in productivity”

Computers, Software, Technology No Comments

From an article with an interesting, if arguable, perspective:

“User Experience” has not changed much in two decades. Due to bloated code that has to incorporate hundreds of functions that average users don’t even know exist, let alone ever utilize, the software companies have weighed down our PCs to effectively neutralize their vast speed advantages. When we compare strictly common, everyday, basic user tasks between the Mac Plus and the AMD we find remarkable similarities in overall speed, thus it can be stated that for the majority of simple office uses, the massive advances in technology in the past two decades have brought zero advance in productivity.

And that’s just plain crazy.

Read the full article here: 86 Mac Plus Vs. 07 AMD DualCore.

Daily bookmark linkage posts…

bookmark autoposts, General No Comments

…are going away again. That’s so close to being a useful feature but it’s still just generally annoying. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now: I really wish I could just autopost links that carry a specific tag. That way I wouldn’t spam all my feed subscribers with my unending stream of recipes :)

Anyhow. If you’re interested in my link stream, I’m back to using delicious for now (although currently evaluating magnolia as a possible alternative), and the page is over here.

links for 2007-06-01

bookmark autoposts No Comments
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