## Monday, August 31, 2009

### First attempt at sourdough

I ordered a sourdough crock and a sourdough starter this month from King Arthur Flour ([waves at PJ]) (my favourite place to order breadmaking supplies despite the fact that their flour is much more expensive than everyone else's) (and I'm still buying their flour).
Anyway, this weekend, having fed, nourished, divided and multiplied the starter, I made my first batches of bread with it. Being somewhat intimidated by the LaBrea bakery book (especially the baking schedules) and having fewer days to bake at this time of year than others, I went with the KA Baking recipe for Pain Levain. I made two batches, one made basically as suggested, the other with the addition of a little yeast at the appropriate time.
Not easy to distinguish between the two batches: both tasted good, both showed my inexperience at crumb-issues for sourdough, and both could have been better.

But by and large, fun to make, fun to bake, fun to eat. I'll keep the starter going and bake from it (when I have the time) for a little while yet.

Yours, reasonably happy,
N.

## Sunday, August 30, 2009

### Mathematicians in mysteries

And yet again, the mathematician dunnit.
Actually, in this evening's Lewis, the major criminal was the poetry professor: the mathematician was merely an accomplice. And the mathematics student was innocent. I guess that that could be called an improvement.
But still, if there's a mathematician in a mystery, odds are he or she is guilty.

Yours, refusing to play to type,
N.

### My apologies

For my outburst in the last post. I have now taken lots of medications to return you to my normal, sane, boring behaviour.....

Yours, hoping that the courts regard the topic of the previous post as a slam-dunk let's-show-we-care-about-women-breastfeeding-rights-etc and slap that boss down.

Yours, still outraged beyond belief,
N.

### HOLY OMFGShit!!!

If this is true,.... Absolutely DISGUSTING.

We need laws in this country. We need laws in this country which allow a woman to lactate and not fear the wrath of her supervisor.

Yours, completely, and utterly, f. disgusted.
N.

## Saturday, August 29, 2009

### A day with children, an evening with friends

LOML drove to the coast today --- friends of ours have been there for medium-term medical care, and when we heard that they were worried about how to get all their stuff back up here this week, we immediately volunteered that one of us would drive down to bring back enough that they could fit the rest in their car.
So I stayed with the children: we made bread this morning, and tomorrow we will get to try to make sourdough for the first time: I've fed a starter enough to use it for a batch of bread, and am looking forward (with just a little trepidation!) to see what it will be like.

This evening we went to a pot-luck at some friends: delicious food, very pleasant company, and new people to meet. And one of those moments --- "I've met that person somewhere" --- reciprocated, yet --- and yet cannot figure out where. Ah well....

Yours, enjoying the thought of making bread three days running,
N.

## Friday, August 28, 2009

For various reasons, mostly involving health care reform, I explored Twitter this afternoon.

And, old, old, old as I may be, I'm not old enough that I can't do it.

Understand it immediately, of course, is another thing entirely.
I get the fluidity of conversations, the amazing voyeuristic "I'm watching all these people" aspect of it.
But there are lots of things about the mechanics of it that aren't immediately obvious --- and the site has one of the poorest "let us explain it so that great great grandparents can understand it" intros around.

I've hardly tweeted, of course. That may or may not come --- if not soon, then perhaps not at all --- we shall see.

Yours, only slightly atwitter so far...
N.

## Thursday, August 27, 2009

### Name the public option, not the bill

What many others are saying, I will echo.
Name the public option after Senator Kennedy: just as Roth IRAs, Pell grants, Fulbright fellowships and Goldwater scholarships are named after individuals, let's not name the bill after Teddy: let's name the public option insurance plan after him instead.
The risk is obvious: we name the bill after him, blue dogs and the right get out their stilettos and their machetes and slice and dice and we are left with a piece of dogs dinner, which has the right name and is harder to oppose, even though it is a piece of shoe-leather-sticking-to-cat-poop.
So let's not name the bill after him: let's fight like those cats and dogs for the right bill, and let's name the aspect of the bill which will make it work, given the political constraints we are under, let's name the public option after him.

Yours, in agreement with the vast left wing conspiracy on this one,
N.

## Wednesday, August 26, 2009

### TedStrong

Let's build a new cause: getting health insurance reform passed, the right way.
TedStrong is our watchword.

Yours, in a call, not to arms, but to voices, and feet, and dialling fingers,
N.

### Respect

I'm listening right now to coverage of Teddy Kennedy's death, and to people remembering his life. And I'm struck by the difference between the coverage of a couple of other big funerals over the past few months: yes, there has been ample mention of the bridge, the accident, the death: but more so, there has been a huge amount of telling of individual stories of how he touched someone's life here, how his legislation saved a life there, how he made this or that or another incredibly worthwhile bill happen, made it plausible that a few opponents could change their mind, made it possible for Hatch or Enzi or others to vote with a reviled (in fundraising letters) foe.
And the more stories I hear, the more I feel he will be missed.

Yours, not in mourning, but in missing, and in celebration of a life well lived,
N.

### Goodbye, Teddy

A heartfelt thank you for all the hard work.
Goodnight, Senator.

N.

## Tuesday, August 25, 2009

### Reporters need to go back to school

and take some calculus classes.

Over the years we've had deficit projections and mis-projections given over and over again: a couple of hundred billion here, four hundred billion there, and even, for the past few years of the Clinton administration, some moderate surpluses here and there.
And we're clearly in the middle of a fiscal, corporate and governmental mess right now. This year, the deficit (finally being accounted for rather more fully than over the past few years --- for example, including current spending on wars in the budget) is on the order of one trillion dollars: numbers that sound large even to a fan of Austin Powers.
But I was surprised over the past day or two to hear that there were worrying projections of deficits of between seven and ten trillion dollars by 2019. Very distressing sounding. Until I actually went and looked at the Office of Management and Budget report in question, and discovered that the figure of nine trillion dollars is {\em cumulative} over a ten year period. Basically it reflects an expectation that things will get a bit worse for the next year or two, and then get a bit better, but probably not toooooo much better. Generally, OMB budgets seem to be this way (things might get a little worse in the short term and then will get better in the medium term -- always better in the medium term, it seems!) so this is really not so surprising.

But for goodness sake, couldn't they report it as "deficits over the next decade will total almost ten trillion" instead of "by 2019 there will be a ten trillion dollar deficit"??? Or better yet, "By 2019, projections show debt rising by another ten trillion dollars".

And as Krugman points out, there are clues in the document for how to avoid such large deficits: one obvious one is to get employment back up, so that people are paying taxes on income, hence increasing the income side of the ledger: and it might be worth trying to do that now at a little greater expense in the short term.

Yours, in praise of an understanding of units,
N.

## Monday, August 24, 2009

After many visits to the beach, and many batches of bread, this trip we finally decided to become scientists, and test our hypothesis.
Our hypothesis was that the reason that beach bread was better is due to the (non-potable) water we use: so this trip we brought back a couple of gallon jugs filled with the undrinkable elixir.
I made bread this weekend --- I started with a sponge, thrown together on Saturday morning, and made the dough Sunday morning, and baked in the afternoon.
And the bread? Was wonderful! Better than usual, and I think that if the remaining batches made with beach water turn out the same way, we may be getting friends to import jugs back every trip they take down there!

N.

## Saturday, August 22, 2009

### The beach, part 7

Rainy days and Fridays never get me down. Even when it's the last full day at the beach.

We went down to the beach early Friday morning, to enjoy the waves at low-to-mid tide. A little happy splashing, and much happy sandcastle-making before the clouds started to look more thunder-some and threatening. Back to the house, where we decided we'd go to one of the better gift shops so that Boo and Skibo could buy presents for their friends.
Of course, as any mother or father knows instinctively, this is a good thing to do, to generate a sense of giving in ones children (even if it means spending out of the grownups' bank accounts!) It is also, as we always forget but are always instantly reminded, dangerous.
Fortunately, we escaped fairly well: not only did they choose relatively nice, small, and inexpensive gifts for their friends, they also chose relatively nice, small, and inexpensive gifts for themselves (this is the truly dangerous part!)

From there, with the weather looking immoderate, it was off to lunch (same place, third meal in a row, fifth time there in four days), then a nap, and a last afternoon at the beach. Again, lots of waves, losing sunglasses in the water (which LOML cleverly found by stepping on them, gently enough to detect but not to damage them), and as is to be expected at the end of the week, the children becoming completely fearless of the waves. One of these years, they'll be fearless upon arrival, and that will be truly scary!

As evening rolled around, it got late: despite this we made the decision to go out for dinner one last time instead of cooking: we ended up getting our food well after 8 and not getting back to the house until about 9:30, if I remember right. I'd have been happy to cook for everyone, and in retrospect it might have been a better decision, but what's done is done.

It had been a good week, and this was really the end. Packing up, one last visit to the beach, and then the drive home is all that was left.

Yours, missing the beach,
N.

## Friday, August 21, 2009

### The beach, part 6

Thursday was particularly memorable for a couple of reasons: first, we had our annual pirate treasure hunt: LOML and L had apparently heard rumours of a pirate treasure being buried on the beach, and B and Boo and Skibo immediately searched for maps, fortunately finding three pieces, one each (looking suspiciously like parchment on which bread might have been baked a day earlier): and so we all followed the maps to the beach.

And when I say all, we had two extra friends in tow: K&B had spent the summer at a nearby cancer facility, where he was undergoing radiation, chemo and other therapies: and we thought it would be good for both of them to get away: I think that they loved the treasure hunt, and also the fact that they ran into friends they hadn't seen in ages as soon as they got to the beach.

Later on K&B took us out to dinner, and so we enjoyed our third meal in two days at the same restaurant. And a good meal it was too.

N.

### Why do we have an ineffective political system?

I've wondered for a while why the system is the way it is: an have never seen a good reason: so here is a question: why did the founders design congress to be re-elected every two years rather than over a longer period? Was there some different political dynamic which meant that things could happen faster then than they do now?
Other countries had much longer political terms: presumably the short house term was a deliberate choice. But in the context of getting unpleasant things done, the sort of "hold your nose and vote for it because it is the right thing to do" bill, it might be much better for the country if ones elected officials were less concerned about the vote a few months from now.

Of course, this is all exacerbated by the constant news cycle and the need to be continually begging for money.

Yours, intrigued,
N

## Thursday, August 20, 2009

### The beach, part 5

On Wednesday, we made our annual trip to the Snake and Alligator zoo --- it is a small, but really rather wonderful facility. They have a 40 minute presentation on snakes two or three times a day, which we've seen several times now, and every time it is different, and every time I learn something new: the woman who gives it is amazing: and she manages to convey the excitement of the serpents every time. Then we wander over to the Alligator area, where there is a feeding, this year accompanied by a script read by one of the least interesting voices I've ever heard. If I hadn't been trying to get video of the alligators, I'm sure I would have fallen asleep.
But boring alligator presentation aside, it is a wonderful facility, and a great time. We'll be back there again next summer:-)

I'd been trying to connect to the internet for a few days by this point: my machine showed a wireless signal, and claimed to connect to it, but then was unable to connect to any web sites. So I finally took the machine over to the bookstore, which claims an internet cafe (sans cafe). As I was encountering the same problem, I decided to reboot --- only to find that my computer would hang at the end of the boot process every time. And having no access to the net, no rescue disks, no way to try to fix it, I had no choice other than to accept it or get incredibly frustrated.

Of course, I chose incredibly frustrated. I tried, probably unsuccessfully, to not let it get in the way of everyone else enjoying the rest of the vacation, but...
One of the most frustrating aspects of it all was that I had cleaned out my bag to make it easier to trek it along to the beach, taking out rescue disks, live cd's, other computer, etc etc etc. Oh well. I finally managed to get the computer working again the Monday after we returned, and today it is close to being back to normal. A bunch of things to tweak again, but it is at least basically usable again.

Oh. Food, you ask? (Oh? You didn't? Well you should have!) Wednesday was also the day that we did our annual low country boil a la me: potatoes, corn, kielbasa, andouille, shrimp, beer, seasoning, all in a big pot, in another order, cooked until somebody says "Damn, that smells good, can we eat it yet?"
Oh, and served with the first batch of beach bread of the year. Good.

Yours, snaking from beach to bookstore to bread, broken down,
N.

## Wednesday, August 19, 2009

### The beach, part 4

Tuesday was Skibo's 5th birthday: although we'd celebrated with a party the previous week, we of course celebrated as well on his actual birthday: at his request we ordered pizza in from the lone pizza place on the island, and again, at his request, I put together my standard dessert pizza (thanks, Joke!) of brioche topped with raspberry coulis and white chocolate. This time I bought block chocolate and grated it onto the pizza before it went into the oven for the second bake -- and other than the fact that I put too little on the pie, it's clearly the way to go, rather than melting and drizzling as I had done before.

The other thing that we did for his birthday, to help make it special for him, was to go kayaking in the estuary. We went with the same guides as last year, who much to our surprise and delight remembered us: her little girl, just a little older than Boo, was there again, and the three children really hit it off, diving and swimming off the dock long after the kayaking was done.

An absolutely delightful day, both for the birthday, and for the opportunity to meet someone a second time and cement a previous, tenuous, friendship!

N.

Pizza and pizza for dinner
Kayaking!

### Skype

I'm a linux user by choice. And so I have no-one to blame but myself that I don't have access to the latest and greatest software. (Actually, typically I do have access to a lot of really exciting and great software, but sometimes cross-platform developers tend to neglect the smaller user-base).
Two examples come to mind: the first is google's chrome, which was announced almost a year ago and only released a linux client (pre-beta-ish at that) a few weeks ago (and has yet to package it for fedora, one of the larger linux distributions). Chrome at least is open source, so it is possible for people to try to contribute code (not me --- trust me, they wouldn't want my contributions!)

The other example is Skype. To great fanfare in December 2007 they released a version of Skype with support for video: this was a feature I'd been waiting for for years. Unfortunately, in the intervening time they have released precisely zero updates to the software, and for the past year it has been almost unusable.

This month, there was an update: with the trademarked "real soon now" attached to the "we don't estimate release dates". Mind you, they promised the same thing back in January, so I'm not holding my breath. Just as I am still waiting for GNU's hurd, which back in 1992 was to be expected, if I recall correctly, "in the fullness of time". And is still not to be seen.

Yours, pausing for breath, again,
N.

## Tuesday, August 18, 2009

### The beach, part 8

We usually pay the fee to have the rental agency clean the house: and when there are two families sharing a house, and the fee is $60 per family, this is a reasonable proposition. But we didn't get the cleaning request in by the deadline, and so it would have been$170, and since we were just one family in the house, this became untenable.

So I took the children down to the beach, while LOML swept, cleaned, scrubbed and got the house ready. Admittedly, I got much the better end of that deal....

Boo and Skibo went into the water, but only as far as the edge -- and when Boo saw a dead jellyfish swept up onto the beach, that was the end of them going into the water this year. And so they decided to build a swimming pool, digging a hole about four feet across, with the waves lapping and threatening to first fill and then wash aaway the pool.

They also drew pictures in the sand using shells as nibs --- boats, fish and dolphins. All washed away before we left, but beautiful in their temporary way.

Thence to the car, goodbyes said to our friends, and to the house, and to the beach. And five hours later, we were pulling into our driveway, ready to be home.

Yours, so glad I can occasionally get a vacation,
N.

### The beach, part 3

On Monday, after a long morning on the Sound side, LOML, Boo and Skibo and I decided to try out another restaurant. We'd been there in the evening a few years ago, and it was rather unpleasantly smoky, but we decided to try it again for lunch: unfortunately, as we discovered when we drove up, it was closed for lunch (both Sunday and Monday) and so we had to proceed elsewhere. At our second choice, we were surprised to discover friends from home already dining there!

Full of food from lunch, nobody felt like eating that evening, even after another afternoon tossing in the waves. C'est la vie.

Yours, serendipitously,
N.

### The beach, part 2

Sunday we got up early-ish and headed to the Sound side of the island (where the waves are much gentler, and the tides more gradual) since it was high tide, and the ocean beach was a little fierce for our first full day. We spent a very pleasant few hours there, swimming, sunning, sandcastling, swimming, sunning, etc before eating lunch right there on the beach.
That afternoon, LOML had arranged to meet with an old friend who lives a few miles from there --- so I ran to the store while they got together: a very pleasant visit, I gather.
After the visit, we all went down to the beach (ocean side) and had some fun playing in the big waves. Finally we threw together a quick dinner of brats and hot dogs, corn, carrots and chips. Beach food.
All in all, a gentle day at the beach, filled with fun and friends and food. Just the way a vacation should be.

Yours, reminiscing,
N.

## Monday, August 17, 2009

### Drop health care reform this year

Let's drop health care reform this year. Or even better, let's vote it down, with democrats voting against the bill which comes out without a public option.

And then we can go back to the drawing board. And we can start with single payer as the goal, and then drop back to a compromise which includes a public option. And we can do it starting in September, and pass it before next summer, and do something serious.

And if the Republicans don't want to assist, if the just want to oppose, let's just let them.

Yours, seriously pissed off that a country as rich as this one rations care by whether or not you have insurance, and even if you have insurance, by how good your coverage is.
N.

### Margaret and Helen are brilliant

If you haven't checked out this pair of somethingogenarians, you should. They are droll, witty, and drier than a martini without vermouth.
I love the line, in particular, about living wills, pie and single malt scotch.

Yours, recommending my olders and betters,
N.

### The beach, part 1

We had hoped to meet up with some friends on Saturday who live near the beach, but they were busy, so we postponed them until Sunday. Instead, we made plans originally to visit the snake museum, and then modified our plans on the fly to visit a mini-golf course en route, and meet up with our friends who were going to stay next door to us.
Lots of fun to see the three children running around the greens putting away happily.
We then drove on to the island, checked in, and went to the house.

Somewhat dismayed, we resolved to make the best of it. We've been spoiled in the past, and the house this year just didn't live up to our expectations. In particular, there was no dishwasher --- but at least LOML managed to talk them into giving us a discount, since the web had advertised a dishwasher. Still, spartan as it might have been, it was only a base for us to stay, not a home from home, for a week.

Later Saturday we went to the beach for a while, threw together a stir fry with fresh shrimp and lovely big scallops, and then to bed.

Yours, remembering,
N.

### Computer "fixed"

Well, my computer is working again, although I still need to set up a bunch of supplementary programs to get it to where it was a few days ago -- easy enough in most cases (yum install program_name), and I'm comfortable that it's usable for now.

So now I can focus on important things.

Yours, no longer distracted,
N.

## Sunday, August 16, 2009

### Computers, again

I promise, when I get my laptop fixed, I'll cease talking tooooo much about computers.
But I'm working on my tablet this evening, and it is slow. Like molasses, slow. But I've heard that firefox, which is one of the things I'm running, is slow on windows, so I try out google chrome. Much snappier, I must say, and what I'm trying to do (simple stuff) works.
Until it stops. But that's because the network just dies on me. I reboot, and it works. For at least twenty minutes: then it dies on me.
I try a log out and log in: nope: it takes a reboot.
Then a window pops up informing me that the tablet driver isn't working.
And this is the machine I'm supposed to use in a classroom environment as of this week.

Yours, imagining "sorry, let me just reboot again and see if I can get that slide back",
N.

### Ginger and tonic

I'm planning to post more in the next day or so --- as soon as my main computer is back up and running --- about the beach and the vacation etc: but for now, let me just say that Ginger, one of our two cats, is sitting atop a closed laptop, wondering whether to lap up a drink which to the untrained cats-eye looks like water. I offer it to him to see if he wants to take a sip: he sniffs, sniffs again -- and while I am worrying that I'll create an alcoholicat out of him he turns away uninterested.
So the title is, in fact, incorrect.

Yours, refreshed, while Ginger is not,
N.

## Saturday, August 15, 2009

### Computers....

are bears. I'm hunting a way to fix some wounded bear.

Yours, wishing I didn't have to do this....
N.

### Home again, home again, jiggety jog

And so to home.

Yours: ready or not, here we come,
N.

## Friday, August 14, 2009

### Last full day

Anything left to do that we haven't done yet?

Yours, not ready for reality yet,
N.

## Thursday, August 13, 2009

### Two days till we go home

Time to fill the remaining two days!

Yours, filling, not killing, time,
N.

## Wednesday, August 12, 2009

### This post put in place ahead of time

Just in case I don't get to blog, I'd hate to have a blank spot that day...

N.

## Tuesday, August 11, 2009

### Happy Birthday, Skibo!

Happy 5th Birthday, my lovely little boy!

On Friday, I made a brioche to use in a dessert pizza today: the dough had an oddly gritty texture which I couldn't explain. I rather hope that it either goes away or makes the dessert pizza even better. We shall see.

Yours, celebrating Skibo,
N.

## Monday, August 10, 2009

### A day without plans

And having no plans, the plan is to have a day. A great day!
Weather permitting, I suspect it will go: breakfast, beach and or sound, lunch,play/nap, sound or beach, dinner, play, bed.

Yours, definitely not overplanning this one,
N.

## Sunday, August 9, 2009

### Old friends

This afternoon we have old friends coming over to the beach house for a little while: we knew them up where we live, before they moved down south a couple of years ago. They actually live just a few miles from the beach, although we haven't had a chance to meet up with them the past couple of times we have gone down.
Now they have new baby -- or rather, now a slightly used baby, who we still haven't met. So, our plan today is to meet with them.

Yours, enjoying the idea of reconnecting,
N.

## Saturday, August 8, 2009

### Leaving today

We leave this morning: with luck the drive will be easy early in the day: our plan is to get there early afternoon and go to the Serpentarium to fill the time before we check in.
But if plans change, this is an easy travel day, so we can change.

Yours, flexibly,
N.

## Friday, August 7, 2009

### One more day to go

Less than that, in fact: tomorrow we leave early-ish in the morning. Tomorrow, the beach!

Yours, in anticipation,
N.

## Thursday, August 6, 2009

### Two days, and we're gone

Two more days, and we'll be at the beach.

In the meantime, happy birthday, Dad! 80! How wonderful!
And happy birthday party, Skibo! (who turns five on Tuesday) Hope that you had a good time!

Yours, planning the relaxing time,
N.

## Wednesday, August 5, 2009

### Health care

It appears that there is a generational disparity here: those of us under 50 (however close some of us might be) are in favour of Obama's plans, while those older are not.
Now, folks over 65 are typically covered by Medicare. And a bunch of people (mostly men) not too much older than I am served in Vietnam, and are covered by Veterans Administration health benefits. And presumably, these are all folks who are being scared by the prospect that if health care is expanded to cover everyone, then it will lead to an averaging of benefits (those who have, lose, those who don't, gain).
Such a shame that the debate can't be framed in such a way as to persuade these people that this is not going to happen. And, of course, to make sure that it doesn't.
And it would be really nice if those folks who like their current government run plan and are afraid of the averaging would let the public know how well a single-payer plan can work....

Yours, insured, but dissatisfied with the plan,
N.

## Tuesday, August 4, 2009

### Seventeen hours

Seventeen hours, and I'm essentially done for the summer. At work, that is.
And when I say "for the summer", I mean that I'll be back in mid August starting over --- but that is the Fall Semester (i.e. autumn, Michaelmas term, etc) which is a different thing entirely.

Tomorrow we have a seven hour marathon presentation session for the students in the summer program: we'll get pizzas shipped in halfway through, and go from 8 to 3. So far we've not made any of them cry --- at least, not in front of us --- and not that I want to, but...

Yours, playing bad cop for one last time,
N.

## Monday, August 3, 2009

### Sixteen miles per gallon, to twentyfive

For every driver who's replaced a car getting 16 miles per gallon with one getting 25 miles per gallon there's a saving. As Paul Krugman noted a month or three ago, it's much better to deal with the inverse quantity, so let's do this: let's compute gallons per hundred miles: the more efficient car uses about 4 gallons versus 6 plus change for the clunker.
Now, I don't drive very much in my car, but let's use my mileage as a guideline: I put between 5,000 and 10,000 miles on my car in a year. Let's call it 8,000. So in a year, a driver switching cars would use about 160 fewer gallons of gas,
Now, the original "Cash for clunkers" program was about $1 billion: this means that about 250,000 cars have been replaced. Assuming that drivers drive about the same distance, that means around 40 million few gallons of gas will be used in the next 12 months. I suspect that I've probably underestimated the mileage of the average participant --- there's a bigger extra incentive for someone who drives a good deal more than me to switch than there is for someone with my mileage. If the extra$2 billion program goes through, and if I'm off by a factor, say, of 2.5 on the miles, we could be talking about 300 million gallons of gas saved: a drop in the bucket in terms of total gas consumption, it's true, but still not to be sneezed at. It should be pointed out too, that this represents an additional savings to those who participate of a little less than \$1 billion -- the cost of the first third of the program.

Yours, getting some mileage from this one,
N.

### Only a few more days

In five days time, we'll be at the beach: sleeping, perhaps; more likely still up with the excitement of the beach, of seeing our friends again for the first time in many months, of being on vacation.

In the mean time I've two more days of teaching (actually, listening to oral presentations of their final assignments), Skibo's birthday party (as always, a couple of days before we leave so that he can have his friends from here present: we'll have a small celebration at the beach too --- replete with dessert pizza if I get around to the brioche dough tomorrow) and a bunch of meetings. I'm not looking forward to the latter. But such is life.

Yours, ready for the term to be terminated,
N.

### Happy Birthday, LOML!

Happy Birthday, LOML!

Yours, with love,
N.

## Sunday, August 2, 2009

### Tomorrow is LOML's birthday

but for the sake of time and simplicity, we're celebrating this afternoon and evening. Consequently, Boo and Skibo and I have been busy in the kitchen, making the food of choice (pizza topped with tomato sauce, onions and cheese), and I've been putting together a cherry bombe (cherries simmered in sugar, water, lemon juice, a little brandy, thickened with a little cornstarch, folded into whipped cream, frozen in a bowl, then covered in chocolate ganache and chilled) for dessert.
Along the way, I made a discovery --- I've had problems in the past extracting the frozen cherry and cream mixture from a bowl: I've typically lined the bowl with plastic wrap, and the wrap has frozen to the glass bowl, and I have to tug and thaw and curse volubly to get it out. This time I lined the bowl first with aluminium foil, then plastic wrap, then poured the mixture in. And the foil-wrapped frozen dessert just popped out. I haven't yet removed the foil and plastic wrap, but certainly this part was easier! Hope that the tip helps if you make it sometime. And now the tip is here, I've got it for next time:-)

Yours, off to coat the bombe with chocolate,
N.

## Saturday, August 1, 2009

### Off to the theatre

Second time this year we've taken the children to see a play at the theatre two blocks from us.

Yours, acting up,
N.