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January 30, 2010

Government in defiance of math

In the parking lot of our apartment building there is a car bearing a mark declaring it a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle.”

I did some minimal research to figure out just what that meant, because, as you may have figured out, I’m a bit of a crank about some things, and it seems to me that a “partial” zero emissions vehicle is, in fact, not a zero emissions vehicle at all. It turns out, of course, that it’s a government designation born of the need to have something in between a Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (I am not making this up) and a true Zero Emissions Vehicle. I think the idea behind the designation is that parts of the vehicle are zero emissions: it’s a partial (zero emissions vehicle), not a (partial zero) (emissions vehicle).

But it did have me wondering what a partial zero would look like.

Posted by pjm at 5:49 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2010


My latest experiments have been in bread. I’ve had breadmakers for years and often feel guilty with store-bought loaves, but recently I decided I wanted more traditionally-shaped loaves. My breadmaker has a rectangular pan, but the loaves are still pretty tall; I wanted to try bread in a regular loaf pan.

I haven’t gone cold turkey on the machine, though; what I do is take a recipe that looks promising, run it through the dough cycle of the machine (which essentially just shuts off the cycle without baking it). Then I shift the resulting dough out of the machine and into the pan, let it rise a bit there, and bake in the oven.

My first loaf tasted great, but I mis-timed the rising and forgot to pre-heat the oven. While the oven warmed, the dough ballooned, and the resulting loaf was a bit fluffier than we like. It was supposed to be sandwich bread, but today I used the last two slices to make the first and last sandwich with it. It made great toast, but ultimately

Tonight, I am trying pumpernickel for the first time, and so far it smells fantastic. (The fact that pumpernickel involves using coffee instead of water was something which had been hidden from me until today. Astounding.) I didn’t give it a whole lot of rising time, but it has risen nicely in the oven. In fact, I told A after I pulled it out, it’s probably going to taste horrible because it’s the best looking loaf of bread I’ve ever made.

In other kitchen tinkering, my ever-evolving granola formula has expanded to accommodate barley flakes. I tried rye flakes, but they were too hard. I have to imagine the miller grinding rye flour put some serious weight on that stone.

Posted by pjm at 8:34 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2010

Twice as annoying as political robo-calls

Because I still have my cell phone with its 413 area code, I am now getting robo-calls trying to influence my vote for the special election to fill the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Ted Kennedy died.

In other words, I’m getting robo-called about an election I can’t vote in. (I’m registered in New York now.)

Posted by pjm at 6:43 PM | Comments (0)

January 7, 2010

Sidewalk pavers

Like most, the parts of my current running scope which have sidewalks* tend to have ordinary concrete slabs. This makes me a bit more aware of the different ones. Today I noticed a few sections in North Troy and Lansingburgh with what appear to be slate sidewalks. (I haven’t done a full minerology work-up so I’m guessing.)

But the absolute best, in my mind, is a very small section of an obscure little street in Watervliet which has four or five sections of what appear to be marble sidewalks.

* In discussion today with another runner and resident of my town, he told me that the official town attitude towards sidewalks is, “You live here in the country. If you want sidewalks, you should live in the city.” I guess that explains our atrocious walkability scores.

ETA, 19 January: The Times Union on sidewalks in our area. Siena’s recommendations would all be great for running.

Posted by pjm at 9:47 AM | Comments (0)