Blog: May 2019

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.

Spring CSA, week 8

This is the last week of the spring share.

  • small bunch spinach
  • large bunch curly kale
  • large head Cherokee lettuce
  • bunch arugula
  • bag salanova lettuce
  • bunch of mint (mountain or apple; I don't know which)
  • large bunch red radishes with greens
  • bunch large green onions (these are much larger than the ones we got last week; I didn't know a week made that big a difference)
  • basil seedling

(Small share omitted the radishes, green onions, spinach, and mint, and got butter chard.)

The kale will go into that red curry that I made with the last batch of kale. I'm not sure how I'll use the mint -- in iced tea? Sekanjabin syrup? What are good non-beverage applications? I know what to do with the rest of this, though we're struggling a little to keep up with the greens. (Tonight we had a risotto with spinach, the last of last week's greens.)

The basil plant is cute and smells wonderful. I love basil; I really hope I can keep this little guy alive. When it's strong enough I'll transplant it into a pot, which has the benefit that I can move it if I need to adjust how much sunlight it's getting. Plus, this way I won't have to worry that the lawn-moving folks will do something unfortunate with one lone herb plant in the back yard. Plus, rabbits (do rabbits eat basil?) probably won't climb to the ledge on my porch.

Next year we will get either the small share or a biweekly share (if the latter is an option; don't remember) for the spring share. I knew there'd be greens, of course, but not this many. I assumed there'd be a few more other things to balance them out -- more radishes, onions, potatoes, herbs (oregano, rosemary, etc), maybe some carrots. We've made good use of everything we've gotten, but there's a little too much for us. And our pickup location now supports supplementary orders, which it didn't for the winter share, so getting a smaller or less-frequent box and buying the occasional bag of radishes or bunch of spinach or whatever is feasible if I'm quick. (This week there were strawberries, but only for the first hour or two after they sent the email. Better luck next time.)

Judging from this year's boxes, biweekly would probably be better than small. For the most part, the stuff I've most wanted has not been in the small share. This week, for example, that included radishes and scallions.

The summer share starts next week, biweekly for us.

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Words that exclude

At work, one of my teams uses a web page, a "dashboard", to coordinate activities for each release. When we start to work on a new release, a (specific) member of the group creates a new dashboard for that release. This dashboard is mostly populated by tables of features, bugs, and other tasks. Each table has several relevant columns, like title, priority, who it's assigned to, and status.

We've been doing this for a while and the dashboards keep growing, so before doing the current one we had a conversation about what we do and don't want. We identified some sections we could get rid of, and I also brought up that the two-column format we were using does not play well with font zoom (which is also obvious in meetings) and could we make it one column? No one objected to that, and the dashboard person published the new one.

A week later he quietly switched it to two columns. Not only that, but the tables were wider and in both columns now so it even more did not fit for me. I said words to the effect of "hey, what happened to the single column we had?", and he said he didn't agree to that and he prefers two columns. When I reminded him that this is an accessibility issue and not a mere preference for me, he said something that's far too common: "oh, you can just..." -- in this case, "oh, you can just make your own copy with one column". He dismissed my need with a "solution" that let him keep his preference without having to make any changes himself.

Yeah. That is not a solution. Read more…

Spring CSA, week 7

  • bunch red radishes
  • 2 large pieces green garlic
  • bunch scallions
  • bag salanova mix (1/3 pound)
  • head red lettuce
  • bag butter chard (1/3 pound)
  • bunch collard greens
  • small bunch spinach (1/4 pound)
  • 2lb spelt flour

(Small share omitted the butter chard, collard greens, spinach, and green garlic, and got kale.)

I used the salanova and some radish in a salad tonight with carrots, cucumber, and tofu (marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic and then pan-fried) -- this was from a recipe in the print (!) Jewish Chronicle last week, but I can't find that article online. (Basically, you mix the salad veggies, cook the tofu and marinade, and dump the latter into the former, then combine.)

One of last week's kale suggestions was braising, "like collards", so now that I have collards (new to me) I'll do that. I know what to do with most of the rest of this.

For the spelt flour they suggest brownies and chocolate chip cookies. I wondered about bread and found this recipe, which I'll try.

I sauteed last week's radish greens with onion and garlic, but it wasn't as satisfying as that treatment usually is. I can't quite characterize the problem; I don't think bitter is the right word for the greens, but I don't have a better one. As you can see, I have more radish greens this week -- any suggestions?

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Kale works in curry

I asked what to do with kale and some of you suggested braising for a while. I haven't done that yet, but I used some of it in this recipe for Thai red curry and that worked well. And I remembered to snap a picture before we'd eaten too much of it! Read more…

I don't think that's how consciousness works

I recently read Corey Doctorow's novel Walkaway. It's set in a post-scarcity world where the super-rich (zota rich, or just zotas) hold their power by stomping everyone else down. There's enough to go around, but people have to work (at crap jobs for crap wages) anyway, while the zotas sit back. Some people hate this and decide to opt out by walking away and forming their own communities off the grid. The book follows some of these walkaways, as they're called. (And no, the zotas are not cool with this.)

Another theme of the book is conquering death -- that's how the characters view it. More specifically, their goal is to be able to back up a human's essence, at which point if you get killed you can be restored from backup (initially as a digital simulation, eventually into a new body). This is an attractive idea in SF and this book is hardly the first to explore it, but I always get tripped up by the same issue, including in this book.

That issue is: sure, it'd be nice if I could back up my brain so that "Monica" would never have to cease to exist, but that doesn't mean that backup is me. It would think so, of course; it would have all my memories. But from my perspective, my body dies -- I die. If I'm dead, do I really care if there's a simulation of me running out there somewhere?

This is not conquering death. At best it's mitigating it. Which makes it hard for me to relate to stories where people say "great, ditch the meat body and come back digitally or in a robot or a perfect body or whatever". Would people really do that? I find that hard to swallow.

Despite this point, I mostly enjoyed the book. There's one place where there's a jump in time that I found rather abrupt, and the story is far more dialogue-heavy than I'm used to, with a lot of philosophy in that dialogue. (In other words, large blocks of philosophy-dialogue or exposition-dialogue, as opposed to short, interactive dialogue.) But many of the characters are engaging and walkaway-land sounds like a cool place to live, when the zotas aren't trying to quash it.

Added in a comment:

And then there are the problems of forking (this comes up in Walkaway) and restoring to older versions to erase part of your life (which comes up in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which Walkaway is a prequel for and which I have now read). I'm me, but is each of the dozen independent sims of me also me? And how much of a "restore" is me if there's been selective editing? Can you cherry-pick commits too?

Spring CSA, week 6

The theme for the week is: green!

  • 2 large green garlic
  • large bunch of red radishes, with lots of greens (at least a pound, probably more) (manifest said radishes or green onions)
  • 6 spears asparagus
  • 7 white potatoes (2 pounds), though some of the skins look more reddish?
  • bag of mixed arugula and mizuna
  • head of butterhead lettuce
  • head (bunch?) of romaine lettuce
  • bunch of kale (half pound)

Small share omitted half the potatoes, radishes, asparagus?, and arugula/mizuna, and got bok choy.

The asparagus was a substitution; they weren't sure if it would be ready in time, so they listed salsa instead but gave a heads-up that we might get "a very special spring vegetable" instead. The small box didn't list salsa so I assume they didn't get asparagus, but I don't know.

Anyway... I'm delighted to have more radishes and the first asparagus of the season, and the two types of lettuce are staples. (Which is funny: I rarely bought lettuce before the farm share and used spinach as a base for salads. But this lettuce is good! Unlike a lot of the stuff in the store.)

Stir-fry works for the arugula/mizuna, but do those greens work well in a soup, I wonder? I'm thinking vegetable broth with ginger, parsnips or sweet potatoes, and the greens. I've done that with spinach and chard but never these greens. Opinions?

There are lots of greens on those radishes. I assume I can do something with them. Google is pointing to sauteing.

We're not big fans of raw kale (like in salads), but maybe cooking with it will work out better. Suggestions welcome!

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Spring CSA, week 5

  • 8 white potatoes (2 pounds)
  • "2" blue potatoes (probably 1 pound)
  • bunch (5 pieces) green garlic (like scallions, but garlicky and bigger)
  • bunch chives
  • lettuce (this one is an elongated bunch rather than the usual round head, but otherwise it looks similar to what we've had before)
  • bag mizuna and arugula (1/3 pound according to the manifest, though it felt like more (maybe someday I will get a kitchen scale))
  • bunch barese
  • jar rhubarb preserves

(Small shares omitted the chives, blue potatoes, half the white potatoes, and preserves, and got black locust honey.)

I used the mizuna/arugula mix, some of the barese, and some of the green garlic tonight in a tofu stir-fry I've made before. (Argh, someday I will remember to take a picture.) The recipe calls for green onions and (regular) garlic; I used green garlic and a (regular) onion instead. (Parity, plus I didn't have any green onions on hand.)

They sent a link to a bunch of recipes using chives. Oh good. :-) I mean, I like chives, but I've never bought and directly used them before. Apparently they go well with potatoes, which is handy.

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Security vulnerability: pharmacy edition

While waiting to pick up a prescription, I noticed that the person in line ahead of me picked up prescriptions for both himself and his wife. Oh, good idea, I said to myself -- I should authorize Dani to pick up mine, just for flexibility.

When it was my turn I asked how to add my husband as someone who can pick up my prescriptions. Oh, the person manning the desk said cheerily, you don't have to do anything -- he just has to know your birthdate.


When picking up a prescription the only challenge I ever have to answer verbally (besides my name) is my birthdate. I do not, for example, have to say what medicine I'm here to pick up, or even how many prescriptions. The usual interaction is:

Me: (name)
Clerk: two prescriptions?
Me: Yup.
Clerk: birthdate?
Me: (answer)
Clerk: Any questions?
Me: Nope.
Clerk: Loyalty card? (swipe) Sign here. That'll be $X.

I don't have to show ID, but I assumed they were reading that out of my loyalty card. But no, anybody who knows an easily-compromised piece of information (how many data breaches have included this by now??), shows up in person, and has reason to believe that I have some prescription waiting can (a) collect it (denying it to me) and (b) find out what I'm taking. Hell, if the attempt comes up empty -- no prescriptions currently waiting -- the person can probably say "oh, I was expecting my doctor to have called in, um, I can't remember the name now" and be prompted for options.

Granted, this is a physical attack so it can't be done by just anybody on the Internet. But it's still a security vulnerability, especially when targeting older customers (good odds of being on something) or people known to need expensive medicines (either because of street value or to troll the victim). We worry about other physical attack vectors, like credit-card skimming.

I asked if I could attach a password to my record for pickups, but their software doesn't support that. I didn't ask if I could change my birthdate of record, because if I do that I'm just asking to have to prove it at some point in the future. (My bank, in contrast, has never asked me to prove that my mother's maiden name contains numbers and punctuation and, well, not a recognizable name.)

Is this the norm for pharmacies, or might looking for a different one be productive?

Spring CSA, week 4

  • 2 pounds cornmeal
  • 2 large blue potatoes
  • 5 medium (on average) white potatoes
  • 3 green meat radishes
  • head lettuce
  • bag tatsoi according to the manifest, but it looks different from the last tatsoi we got
  • bag salanova (mixed greens)
  • 8oz black locust honey

(The small share omitted honey and radishes, and got kale instead of salanova.)

The manifest said "cornmeal or polenta" and I was hoping for the latter to see what the difference is, but cornmeal is good too. (I know what Google says the difference is, but I've never done a direct comparison.) The cornmeal we got in the winter share made nice cornbread and this will too.

The honey is described as "delicate, sweet, fruity, with a hint of vanilla". Sounds yummy.

Blue potatoes, I have determined, are fantastic when cut thin, tossed with olive oil, fresh rosemary, and sea salt, and then roasted. The other day I worked from home and made those for (part of) lunch, intending to have half that day and save half for the next day. That...didn't work out as planned. :-)

Last night I roasted a large radish, a small sweet potato, and a couple parsnips, all cut small, and then tossed the cooked veggies with some lettuce (the kind that's shown in a head here, not the more delicate mixed greens) and a little balsamic vinaigrette, making a roast-veggie salad to go with dinner. That was very nice, and used lettuce in a different way for variety.

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