ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
This week's Modern Love just reminded me about the Application to Date Me () list that [livejournal.com profile] nolrak and Jay and I came up with on IRC one night in 2001. I'm reading it 18+ years later and oh my god, the me of Way Back When had so much to learn (and, uh, I was kind of a classist asshole, I hope I'm at least a little better now). Oh, what I prioritized in my early 20s! ROFL.

(I miss IRC.)


Working my way through this SQL(ite) tutorial has been a good refresher on the parts of SQL I find confusing, but what I like about it most is that the dataset it teaches on is information about Texas death row inmates that have been executed since 1976. To quote:

"On one level, the data is simply a part of a mundane programming book. On another, each row represents immense suffering, lives lost, and in some cases amazing redemption and acceptance."

In an age where constant concerns include "why did the algorithm make that decision" and "do people understand these are probabilistic results and not definitive answers," I'm glad a simple practical coding tutorial builds in this level of understanding with the code it's teaching.


I definitely did not have the desired reaction Rep Tommy Vitolo wanted me to have when he whipped out a can of Arizona iced tea at a meeting about raising MBTA fares and said, "[Arizona iced tea]’s cost 99 cents for 18 years. What the good people of Arizona iced tea figured out is if you don’t improve the quality of the T, you don’t raise the prices." Number one, inflation means that my dollar went a heck of a lot further in 2001 - per the CPI in USD, you'd need $1.42 here in 2019 to buy what $0.99 bought in 2001. From the other side, if you have $0.99 today, you only needed $0.69 back in 2001 to have the same general buying power. Number two, if you haven't raised the price in 18 years, I'm wondering just how much of that is due to "scaling" - acquiring price efficiencies for the same ingredients that you can actually pass onto the customer when you make and sell more - and how much of that is because you started using cheaper or worse ingredients overall. Or because you're treating it as a "loss leader" to get people to buy more of something else you *are* making a higher profit on. Sigh.

So apply that to the T. In 2001, I was paying something like $74/month for my pass that covered subway and bus. In 2019, that same pass costs ... $84. But per the CPI, if my transit pass cost had risen with inflation, it should cost $103. The proposed raise would bring the cost of my T pass up to $90.

Don't get me wrong, I want better transit, and I do think driving solo isn't sufficiently disincentivized for environmental and congestion reasons alike, and that making transit more dependable requires inconveniencing solo drivers. But a key way we can make transit work better, especially buses, is by speeding up the boarding process, and eliminating waiting to pay at boarding (as suggested by Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu) would make boarding a hell of a lot faster. And congestion pricing for driving into Downtown Boston? Count me a fan.


Also, a similar-to-this pic of the Pevensies as the Four Hogwarts Founders has been making the rounds again recently, but all I can think of is how that would set up for Avatar. Peter::Zuko (heh). Susan::Katara (okay, I can see that). Edmund::Toph (LOLOLOL). Lucy::Aang? Fascinating.
ursamajor: the Swedish Chef, juggling (bork bork bork!)
S: "With 36 hours to go, our %#@% oven is still broken."
Me: "What do you need us to bring to the party?"
S: "... baked goods?"

This is how [personal profile] hyounpark and I walk into a party: arms laden with all of our large baking dishes and tupperware, stuffed with two kinds of egg rolls, cheesy garlic bread, everybody's favorite chocolate toffee cookies, and two experimental sweet bakes: spicy pineapple hazelnut thumbprints and gooey tangy lemon squares. Oh, and the container for the egg roll dipping sauce stuffed into my purse. Tetris for food transportation!

C: "I had the feeling we'd need extra room on the dining table when S was that non-specific in his reply to you about what to bring."
Me: "In fairness, I did miss Jewmas baking again this year!"

And I did! Pretty much every December 24 since 2003, with few exceptions, I've rolled up my sleeves and pulled together three to five different types of cookies, cakes, and other baked goods to bring to the big annual party of friends; this particular party was a good excuse to go overboard on what I'd missed - and test a few new recipes in the process :)

Spicy Pineapple Hazelnut Thumbprints )

Gooey Tangy Lemon Squares )
ursamajor: the Swedish Chef, juggling (bork bork bork!)
What sparked this post was that I was talking to [personal profile] crschmidt about his new learning-to-cook hobby (see [syndicated profile] chrisplaysgourmet_feed). As he puts it:

"When I say I need to learn to cook, what I mean is that I need to learn to integrate cooking into my life. I need to learn how to make the time to cook. I need to build up the set of skills you need to make cooking take less time. I need to learn how to plan ahead, so I can buy groceries on a weekend, and use them sometime before they turn into a goopy mush at the bottom of my vegetable drawer… again."

So more the project management aspects of cooking! For me, one book that's really helped with that has been Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs' A New Way to Dinner. * The way they set up the process really worked for the level of detail I needed to understand how multiple dishes worked together to make a week's worth of non-repetitive meals. When I started with ANWTD, I was great at making individual meals! And also decent at cooking things in bulk, like, a 5 lb pork butt that turned into 5 lbs of pork which meant ... barbecue-flavored pork for eternity. Sure, [personal profile] hyounpark was fine with that (as one of his probable desert island dishes), but I got bored of it. So I rarely did that.

how I'm getting better at the project management of cooking )

Now that I’ve written out my process in such detail, it seems a bit overwhelming, heh. It doesn’t feel nearly as intimidating as it used to, though; when I started, I just made the plans straight up (though I still nixed anything I didn’t find interesting) and dealt with an occasional excess of leftovers.

I’m still working on being able to generate these kind of meal families, though - things that go together but can be swapped around for variety. Like, this week, it’s really easy to see that most meals have a protein and a starch, with either a produce side or some kind of produce incorporated into one dish. Another example below the cut )With the exception of one dinner on that second menu, every night has an obvious protein component, a starch component, and a produce component. So given we prefer to have a chicken dish and a fish dish every week, I think my next steps are to start thinking along those lines, and coming up with combinations that pair well.

Working my way through A New Way to Dinner was an incredibly useful way for me to leap the chasm in my mind between “making individual meals several nights a week” and “making a cohesive meal plan for the week,” or at least “the weeknights.” It’s also helped me better understand how much food we actually *need* to have around, especially freshies, so that we let less of it go to waste.

* Accessibility etiquette question: are we making links automatically open in new tabs or windows now, as seems to be prevalent throughout the internet for "external" links to "third-party websites"? Or has Dreamwidth culture resisted that tide? I know I hated it for a long while, because *I* wanted to control whether I opened links in another window, and my recollection is that there were accessibility reasons both for and against, but I don't remember the details, or know if those accessibility reasons have shifted in the meantime based on advances in technology
ursamajor: the Swedish Chef, juggling (bork bork bork!)
... my Swedish Chef icon was based on a US stamp back when letter stamps cost $0.37, and this weekend they went up to $0.55, so hi, I'm old, how are you.

At some point, my Instagram crossposts failed, which was basically how I felt like being on the internet for a long while - pictures as a signal flare of "I'm still alive, here's a good thing I want to remember." In the interim couple of years, I've spent most holidays in LA soaking up warmth and fruit and Pacific Ocean zen to fortify myself through yet another New England winter (starting to get real tired of the latter part of that cycle); went to Hawaii for a milestone birthday; managed to fly red-eyes in both directions for a Las Vegas work trip (again with that New England winter crap); went to Nashville for the first time (and recognized a LOT of LA and NYC brands setting up shop, they're in for iiinteresting times there, I used public transit for most of my getting around and had conversations about density and sudden growth and just how was everyone going to be getting around based on the population increasing by X but the roads only having so far to widen, which meant I got to evangelize about induced demand and transit to some very bemused locals); popped down to NYC on various day trips; spent pretty much every other scrap of free time at the farmers' market or the bookstore; failed to Kondo my stuff except in dribs and drabs. So, you know, me being me.

I still don't know if I have much to talk about on an ongoing basis, but it's nice to remember that this place exists. Catch up with people. Hello.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
The Baked Alaska, vanished.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Oh, Siri. Who knew "polenta" was such a hard word to understand repeated six times in a row. #damnyouautocorrect
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Yes, the other sock said "awesome." #boston #socks #latergram
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Apparently I managed to find and bring the San Francisco summer back to New England. 84F in Boston on October 19; cherishing the likely-last bare-legged day of the year.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Now you see it, now you don't. Hide and seek with the Sutro Tower and @karlthefog.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
#Twilight under the dome.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Crowds gather in King Bhumibol Adulyadej Square in #Cambridge to pay tribute to the King of #Thailand, who died earlier today. Adulyadej was born just down the street at Mount Auburn Hospital while his dad attended Harvard Med.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Autumn, illuminated. 🍂
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
In the 90 seconds I just waited to cross the street here, over two dozen cars clipped the unprotected bike lane and an @mbta bus driver honked at bikers waiting for their turn in the appropriate designated spot. A cyclist died here less than a week ago, and they are far from the first, because our transportation policies and infrastructure promote this insanity to the tune of 35,000 lives per year. #VisionZero is not happening fast enough. #bikebos
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Sunset, moonrise, gradient, sharp lines. 🌅 🌙
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Raindrops on roses.
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Zinnias, alyssum, hydrangeas, and a sunflower for @stretchherwings. Glad today went well!
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Tonight's #sunset over the Longfellow. #cambridge #boston #aftertherain
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Best receipt-holder ever, along with excellent food. Plausible @silentbookclub #cambridge venue?
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Wait, WHAT?! The Baby-Sitters Club author wrote a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle sequel?!
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
Crepuscular rays. #sunset


ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)
she of the remarkable biochemical capabilities!

March 2019



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