Saturday, March 29, 2008

Winter will loose, but she hasn't given up yet...

I feel like Winter is saying, “To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee”

Herman Melville, btw

Cooking for Free in the Winter

In the last week there have been lots of blog and news activity around the subject of compact fluorescent lights. (Lawmakers are debating whether they should ban conventional bulbs--I am against the ban, but think CFLs should be encouraged) This is a subject I do not want to re-hash here, but there was one aspect which was interesting:

Some commentators wrote that they wouldn't save any energy because they heat their house with electric and so the waste heat from incandescent bulbs saves their furnace from working that little extra-bit. I think they are absolutely correct, but very few homes are heated that way because electricity is much more expensive than gas or oil on a btu basis. Electric heaters cost a lot less to install than furnaces and the associated plumbing or duct-work, so even though inefficient, plenty were built. In fact, our house in Vermont originally had a wood stove and electric heat as a back-up. The owners before us must have found the effort to heat with wood tiresome and the cost of electricity burdensome, because they installed an oil furnace. In the four years we were there, we heated almost totally with wood.

Getting to the point: Lots of houses and most new construction are made to heat with natural gas, as is our current home. We also cook with a gas stove. In the winter, any heat given off by the cooking stove will save the gas furnace that amount. So in the Winter cooking is for free. The summer is another matter: Got to pay for the gas to cook with and then pay again for the electric energy to pump that heat outside.

In Vermont, we used the inverse calculation: If the wood stove was running, we would use it for cooking and save some electricity.

Surenna's Morbid Poetry--So Sad

Our daughter, on the way to school, spies a paramedic van rushing by and writes the following poem.

The paramedics were probably on the way to a house where an old lady fell-down and couldn't get up, but to an 11 year old girl the world if filled only with other 11 year old girls. I think.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Her Essential Dog-ness

I noticed today, after Meenah chewed on a bone for an hour: We have bred dogs in every shape and size. There are greyhounds and toy poodles, yet they all like to chew on a bone. Whatever their appearance, they are all the same in their doggish ways.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Real Sign of Spring

This is Crocus vernus, not the kind which saffron is made from. I find that the styles and stigmas from this plant are also tasty--in a very saffron way.

School LOCK-DOWN Dun-Da-Dunnnn

Just got an automated voice mail from the middle school. They had a lock-down, which by the way, whenever I hear about these things I think about prison movies. Until fairly recently, prison was the only context for the expression.

The cause of this "lock-down" you ask? Ah, someone found an EMPTY firearm cartridge in the hallway. Now I suppose it could be harmful if a student happened to have: A bullet, powder, a primer, a reloading press, the correct reloading dies, and oh yes--a gun!

Okay, I know; I am being a little playful here. When you fire any kind of automatic weapon, it spits-out the used shell. So, if you see a shell on the floor, maybe there has been gun-play. Of course when guns go off, they often make a certain very loud noise, technically called a bang!

Maybe there was someone there with a gun, and he dropped the empty. Yes, that is very reasonable. I know that if I want to go to the range and do some shooting, I am sure to bring lots of empty shells along.

This is way out there, but just stick with me on this. Maybe some kid picked-up an empty shell from home, or found it on the ground and brought it in to show around or just forgot that it was in his pocket? I know this seems very unlikely. It probably really was the night time janitors doing target practice in the hallways and they forgot to pick-up one of the shells and who knows? Maybe they left their rifles laying around too. Or a gunman came to the school to shoot-up the place, but somehow just brought empty shells with him.

I would be willing to bet it was a parade shell: In our 4th of July parade there are always troops (mostly re-enacters) who fire volleys and kids pick-up the empty brass blanks left in the street. I know Dahlia did this and then her sisters weren't happy till they found shells too. You can tell these shells from regular ones because the blanks are crimped at the top. This keeps the powder from spilling out, since there is no bullet to block the end.

UPDATE: My daughter is home now and added this detail: They had to gather together in one corner of the classroom for around an hour. So the school blew some 600 student-hours of learning, all for no reason.

UPDATE 2: Coincidence edition: Dahlia, who goes to the grade school, came home from school and presented me with a rock that she thinks looks like a bullet...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Agenda For Thursday

My day-off this week is tomorrow, what shall I do?

1. Keep tabs on Meenah

2. Go for a long run

3. Roast some coffee

Quite frankly, I will be happy if I accomplish task 1.

A cute little hand-full...

UPDATE; Coffee roasted. Kenyan AA and Mexican Turquesa, had the African coffee with breakfast. Meenah, still alive...developing.

UPDATE 2: Got in a long run. Un-timed due to not being able to find running watch--probably left it at work. Good that it was un-timed since I had no enthusiasm today and was very slow.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cooking tip #2 Old Potato Baking

It is common knowledge that potatoes should be pierced prior to baking--otherwise they may explode.

Vast experience has shown this to be true. Today I learned a corollary to that bit of truth: Oldish potatoes might still explode if poked in the normal way.

Today I baked 5 potatoes and they were fine, no sprouts or anything like that. They were a little old though and had that slightly dessicated, shrunken look and feel to them. I poked each of them 4 times with a fork and baked at 375F for an hour. At the end of the hour, two had burst so I got out a knife to poke the other three. The first one I poked blew-up real good. The other two I was more gentle with and they gasped out a puff of steam, but held.

Next time: Good deep piercings with a knife before baking. Now to clean the oven.

maggots in medicine

Monday, March 24, 2008

Just keeping my run going...

I started out in March posting every day and sort-of eased into the idea of seeing if I could post every day this month.

A favorite blogger posted some provocative pictures which inspired me to write an (uninspiring) Haiku.

Gone to tilted green

by a crooked shadow-path

Or the straight sidewalk

A lot of her commenters are very clever and I was hoping to get the ball rolling poetry-wise. It didn't work, the comments section found its own path...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Finally broke 76 minutes for this run

That makes 8 minutes per mile.

This is odd.

I can't get to any blogger blog, but am able to get to the compose page.

If a blogger posts, but nobody can see it, does the post exist?

Happy Easter

The children have all found their Easter baskets and are just tracking down the last of the hidden eggs.

In the last week or so I have been complaining that Spring doesn't seem to want to come here to New England. Well, yesterday I saw the first sprout of Spring.

This is the rhubarb coming back to life.