Saturday, January 08, 2011

Baking Pasta

We just finished this box of pasta, having owned it for around 20 years. It is not that we don't eat lots of linguine, spaghetti & so forth--Italians will instantly recognize the name of this blog as being from their country after all.

Here is what happened. My wife & I were students living in Pullman Washington and we must have somehow used-up too much of this box to leave enough for another meal. If it had been spaghetti, there would have been no problem--it would have just been combined with the next box of spaghetti. But we didn't often use linguine and I don't like to combine different shapes because then some of it is either over or under done.

We baked a lot then and ever since, and so the box became our source for done-ness testing probes--you stick a toothpick or spaghetti noodle into a baking cake and see if it comes-out dry.

This box made a meal in Washington and provided probes for baking in two homes in Vermont and one here in Massachusetts. Now it is all gone. The end of an era and probably the only foodstuff we still (until about a week ago)owned from our first year of marriage.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Yesterday I noted on Facebook that a hawk swooped down and took a gray squirrel from our next-door neighbor's yard. I've seen hawks flying around from time to time and would have guessed that they dine primarily on squirrel flesh, but it is still shocking to see it actually happen.

The same thing happened today!

Or would have: A hawk had a squirrel pinned down in our yard and the dog got all excited by the four of us jabbering and pointing. Naturally, she wanted out. My wife was afraid for the dog's safety as the hawk was really big and our dog is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (A breed of small, weak and fairly unintelligent dogs). I let her out anyway and she dashed toward the raptor with either no fear, or more likely--no sense.

The hawk, which had its back to the onrushing dog, was startled and flew away without its lunch. The squirrel was still alive and had wit enough to run up a nearby tree. The dog kept its record of never killing a mammal (she is an insect mass-murderer) though not from lack of trying. As it was, she was very excited and ran around the yard for some time after the incident.

The bird did not go far. It alighted in a tree about 100 feet away and stared at the dog in a menacing way. I am not sure that carnivorous birds can stare in a non-menacing way, so perhaps I shouldn't take too much from this. I imagine though, that the hawk was sizing up our little dog as potential prey.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Running plan

Last year I kept track of my running via a utility on Facebook and the totals came out as follows:

(8:09.45 per mile) 1386.46mi

I really think that I should be doing 8:00 (or less) per mile since most weeks are at least slightly under that. The problem was that November and December of 2009 I was injured and then I really didn't start running again until we got back from India in the middle of January 2010. I had to do long runs, which are always a bit slow, because the Boston Marathon is in April and so distance training cannot be put-off forever. The problem was that on days when I did short runs, I either couldn't go under 8:00 or it would be only slightly under that. By the end of April, I was up around an average of 8:35/mile and so I worked it down to 8:09 over the course of the year.

Boston is again approaching but 1. I am not injured. 2. I am in better shape since I have been running. So my plan is to do a long run, such as today's 14 miler in 8:35/mile and then not do another long run until I have beaten the average back to 8:00 via short fast runs. I may have to abandon this if I am getting too close to marathon time and not getting in enough long runs, but it is the plan--for now.

December (7:50.1 per mile) 92.69mi

November (7:51.26 per mile) 122.88mi

October (8:02.19 per mile) 147.63mi

September (8:07.75 per mile) 115.69mi

August (7:49.95 per mile) 93.73mi

July (7:52.12 per mile) 93.05mi

June (8:00.28 per mile) 121.95mi

May (7:59.09 per mile) 99.17mi

April (8:27.99 per mile) 98.38mi

March (8:26.77 per mile) 173.98mi

February (8:38.14 per mile) 158.76mi

January (8:31.17 per mile) 68.55mi

Two calls: One close, One not.

Two instances today where cars cut me off and there would have been a crash had I not braked.

In the first one, I was going to the middle school to drop-off Dahlia's bass. The visitor parking is toward the end of a circular drive way and on the left--the same side as the school. As I approached the parking spot, I noticed a car parked illegally just before the visitor parking. The lady nonchalantly and without looking, pulled in front of me. I was going slowly, so it was easy to brake and avoid crashing into her. Since I didn't honk my horn, I feel confident that she remains blissfully unaware of the close-call. If we both had our heads in the clouds, then we would have blown the rest of today dealing with towing, insurance and police.

Later, I was driving through a busy part of town and a woman made a left-hand turn to come across oncoming traffic and into my lane just ahead of me. I had to slam-on my brakes and it was still a very close call. It looks like she had pulled into the oncoming lane, thus blocking it, just prior to her stunt. I can only conclude that she is dangerously stupid.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

3rd Car

I have participated in the purchase of 6 new cars over my lifetime, but only three of them were primarily for me. Two were essentially cars for my wife and one was an SUV that we both use, but only when we need its special capabilities.

Here are the three:

1983 Toyota Tercel, seen here in the yard of our house in Vermont.

1997BMW 318ti. On a ferry crossing Lake Champlain.

2011 Subaru Impreza at Alewife Station parking garage.

There is a kind of progression here: The first was front wheel drive, the second was rear wheel drive and the latest is all wheel drive. The Tercel had a displacement of 1.5 liters, the BMW 2.0 liters and the Subaru has 2.5 liters. Lots of continuity too: All are blue, four cylinder hatchbacks with manual transmissions.