Blog: December 2018

Most of these posts were originally posted somewhere else and link to the originals. While this blog is not set up for comments, the original locations generally are, and I welcome comments there. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Today I learned (veterinary edition)

Orlando saw an ophthalmologist today because his pupils barely contract and my vet wanted a consultation. He's been somewhat like that since I adopted him six years ago (I've never seen pupil slits), but it's become more pronounced recently. Google had told me that this can be an age thing and it can indicate hypertension. We checked his blood pressure recently to evaluate the latter and got ambiguous results; my vet also says that measuring feline blood pressure is kind of dicey. (They took three readings in one visit, and one of them was not like the other two.)

Things I learned today:

  • Orlando is almost certainly older than we thought he was. We thought 10ish and are now bumping that up to 12ish.

  • Iris atrophy is a thing that happens in older cats where the relevant muscles just don't work as well any more. I wonder if that happens in humans too -- never heard of it before. (The ophthalmologist didn't find anything else wrong, though didn't rule out hypertension and suggested rechecking blood pressure, so this is the working theory. His optic nerve and retinas look fine.)

  • They use the same numbing drops on cats that they do on people, complete with orange dye -- which apparently makes (something) easier to see, but I've failed to retain what the (something) is.

  • Orlando's ocular pressure is the same as mine was at my ophthalmologist visit on Friday. But mine's the result of glaucoma drugs and his comes naturally. So, no worries there.

  • He has a tiny cataract forming in one eye -- something to check back on later, but nothing to do now. I giggled at the mental image of Orlando wearing glasses.

Pretty radishes

The watermelon radish is as advertised:

photo of salad

With shaved carrots and pickled daikon radish on a bed of lettuce, it makes a lovely combination of colors. (The photo was pre-dressing, which was vinaigrette.) Tasted good, too. :-)

Winter CSA, week 3

Today's haul (a week early because of holidays; next one in three weeks):

  • barese (a member of the Swiss chard family? described as similar to bok choy and good in stir-fry)
  • six Crimsom Crisp apples
  • 2 bulbs garlic (the other pile of garlic in front is delayed from last week)
  • shallots (a couple large and a few small)
  • five carrots (three large), counting the "Siamese carrots" there as two
  • one watermelon radish, named for its distinctive coloring when you cut it open, which I haven't done yet
  • six beets
  • six golden potatoes
  • one butternut squash (smaller than last week's giant)
  • 8oz maple syrup
  • 2 pounds spelt flour (they recommend brownies and chocolate-chip cookies)

I'll use some barese, shallots, garlic, and maybe shaved carrots in a stir-fry. Some of the barese might go into a tofu hot & sour soup (I have a crock-pot recipe to try). I'll make the recommended brownies and maybe cookies. They included a recipe for a salad of roasted beets and apples that I'll try. I'm not sure whether to eat the radish raw (in a salad) or do something else with it.

In followups from last week: the celeriac with peas was tasty; the celeriac mash (with potatoes and horseradish) was ok (under-horseradished); I used a little of the daikon radish in a salad and pickled the rest (yum). And the butternut squash I roasted. We had some of the goat cheese with dinner tonight.

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Winter CSA, week 2

Good haul today. I'm glad I brought two cloth bags; it was easier to distribute the load that way than it would have been to carry the box.

  • dozen free-range eggs (I assume it's the chickens that are actually free-range, not that the eggs are ambulatory)
  • head hydroponic lettuce (same type as last time)
  • one large butternut squash (estimate 4 pounds)
  • one Celebration squash
  • six Rome apples
  • two pieces celeriac root
  • four medium red onions
  • six small purple potatoes ("Magic Molly")
  • two daikon radishes (I think; they said we'd get either daikon or "green meat" radishes and these look more like the pictures of the former)
  • 8oz chive and onion chevre (with hechsher!)
  • 17oz jar apple butter
  • expected but not present: garlic

I sent email asking about the garlic, wondering if it had been delayed, and they wrote back right away and said the farm hadn't sent them quite enough so some boxes didn't get it, but they'd have a bag with my name on it at next week's pickup. (It's a biweekly CSA, except that they moved the pickups in the week of Dec. 25 a week earlier, so next week.)

My choir has a pot-luck dinner next week, so I'll do something with the butternut squash for that (not sure what yet, but presumably it'll involve roasting). I plan to pickle at least one of the two radishes; I love pickled daikon and have never made it before (have never actually bought fresh daikon). Celeriac was new to me; I used one tonight to make this dish with celeriac and peas and it was tasty. I'm planning to use the other to make this mash with potatoes and horseradish. Not with the purple potatoes, though; that would look weird. Those I'll roast, probably, maybe with rosemary.

I sometimes bake acorn squash filled with apples; on the other hand, squash is nice with savory herbs too. I don't need to decide right away. One way or another, I know what to do with all of this.

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Japanese milk rolls (second try)

My first CSA box came with local flour (with a milling date! never seen that before), and one of their recipe suggestions was Japanese milk rolls. My first try did not go well; it seems I did not knead it long enough, and so I got dense blobs where fluffy rolls were supposed to be. (Still edible, but clearly not the intended results.) The second time, today, I said hey, I have tools for this, and used the bread machine to do the kneading. (I've never used it to make dough before, always finished bread.)

At the end of the kneading the dough formed a nice ball; after the rise it was bigger (not doubled) and more of a blob. That is, it didn't make a bigger ball. I don't know if it's supposed to. The next step was to separate it, make eight balls, and put them in a pan to rise again for 45-50 minutes. The dough was very sticky and that made it hard to shape; I sprinkled a little flour onto it while working with it so it didn't all stick to my hands. I don't know if that's so standard with bread that it goes without saying (this beginner didn't know, if so), or if that's not supposed to be necessary and I did something wrong.

The proto-rolls did expand in this second rise (I failed to take a "before" picture). The final product is definitely better than try #1, though they're still less fluffy than I expected from reading the recipe. I wouldn't be embarrassed to serve them to guests, but I will probably stick with less-fussy breads in the future. (This one involves making a "starter" (tangzhong) that's sort of like a roux. That, too, is new to me for bread.)


Rude comments on Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow did a study of comments, finding that 95%+ were rated as "fine" by human reviewers and then asking if we still need to focus on being seen as "unwelcoming". I answered:

I was once at a festival with some friends. Somebody camping across the road from us was being a disruptive jerk, and I commented negatively about it to a friend. The friend said to me: "there are 10,000 people here. If only 1% of the population is jerks, that's still 100 people."

Perspective is everything.

We don't tend to notice the vast majority of innocuous, even friendly interactions. We notice right away when somebody is being a jerk. How often does that happen? Not very. Does it make more of an impact when it does? You bet!

If 5% of comments are problematic in some way, that's one in twenty. How many SE comments does somebody typically encounter in a day? There are currently 15 on this page alone. So maybe a casual visitor won't always see a problem comment, but if it happens every second or third visit, is that something to be concerned about? Because it doesn't take many bad comments to get there.

Now, I disagree with how SE has handled some of these problems (sometimes quite strongly), and I do think some people go looking for opportunities to be offended, but I also know, from direct experience, that some of our sites do have problems with comments. What we should (and shouldn't) do about that is far from clear, but to speak to the question you ask: yes, I think 5% bad is enough to pay attention to.