Cuppycake gumdrop

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:03 am

Try to imagine the most sugary-sweet lyrics you can. It won’t come close to these:

You’re my Honeybunch, Sugarplum

Pumpy-umpy-umpkin, You’re my Sweetie Pie

You’re my Cuppycake, Gumdrop

Snoogums-Boogums, You’re the Apple of my Eye

And I love you so and I want you to know

That I’ll always be right here

And I love to sing sweet songs to you

Because you are so dear!

Now try to imagine the most amazingly cute three year old girl voice singing, and you won’t come close to matching the sound clips found at Cuppycake.com. If you’d prefer a different path to cuteness, try cuppycake’s official MP3 site. There, you can hear the same song in its original format: a country arrangement complete with three part harmonies.


Cottage Cheese

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:35 am

It rained most of the weekend, so I wasn’t able to do much garden work like I wanted. I’ve got peas in the ground, but there should already be lettuces and a few others there as well. The current forecast for the rest of the week, including next weekend, calls for rain too. I should be glad, since we really need it, but I hate sitting in an office while it’s nice out (sunny and in the 70’s yesterday and today) and have it rain during the only chance I have to be outside.

But I digress. Instead of gardening, I finished the chicken coop. Thanks to my experience designing and building theater sets, I was able to take pictures from my head, translate them into pictures on paper, and translate that into a real physical object. And all with a minimum of fuss. I’ve decided that’s a very handy skill to have, and I’ll work on refining it further. I also made another half-gallon of yoghurt, replacing what I ate last week. Last week it was mixed with various berries. So far this week, I’ve been enjoying it with a bit of pure maple syrup mixed in. Mighty tasty. I also made a few pounds of cottage cheese, and it was by far my best ever.

Let me explain how to make cottage cheese. It’s very easy, and if you like store-bought, you’ll go crazy for your own. I started with two gallons of milk, store-bought, one whole and the other two percent. I heated it up to 85 degrees F in a stainless steel pan submerged in a larger pan filled with water. This double-boiler prevents the milk from scorching on the stove. When it reached temp, I added a mesophillic bacteria culture. The bacteria, obtainable from a cheesemaking supply company, eats away at the lactose in the milk, turning it to lactic acid. This, along with a few other minor chemical processes, “ripens” the milk, changing its taste and thickens it a bit. I let it ripen for about an hour, which was longer than I had before. I kept the temperature constant by wrapping both pans with towels and turning the heat on when necessary. Then, I added rennet. Rennet was originally an enzyme found in the stomach of a young calf, but today vegetable rennet is readily available. You can certainly get it from the same place you get your bacteria, but I got mine at a local natural foods store. Let the rennet work for about an hour, again keeping the temperature steady. This will solidify the milk into a single curd. It will look like the milk has gelled. I like large curd cottage cheese, so I sliced the curd into half-inch cubes with a long knife. You could make smaller cubes if you want to. The cubes will be very soft, but they’ll hold their shape. As you cut, the curd will start to release whey, a greenish-yellow liquid. At this step, we could really be making just about any hard cheese — cheddar, swiss, colby, etc. — but to make cottage cheese we’ll slowly cook the curds in their own whey. Raise the temperature to 115 degrees very slowly, taking at least an hour to go from 85 to 115. Then, keep the temperature more or less steady until the curd gets to the texture you desire, about a half hour. These higher temperatures will draw the proteins in the curd closer together, expelling more whey and toughening the curd. They will shrink as they do this. When done, ladle out, drain (cheesecloth, naturally, is perfect for this), and refrigerate. And enjoy. I got into cheesemaking for the fresh mozzarella, but I’m staying for the cottage cheese. It is incredible.


Filed under:General — eric @ 3:05 am

Things at work are beyond busy right now. I finally released the new version of our software today (six weeks late, but that wasn’t my doing… and as it turns out, it is better for it). Released it to the first lucky customer. There will be another one tomorrow, and one major upgrade Friday. And more to follow, lickety split. It’s a complicated affair, a major upgrade that is much more than uploading new files. And, at a time when the competition was just showing signs of catching up to us, it puts us a generation ahead, again. It’s a good place to be.



Filed under:General — eric @ 12:20 pm

What? What!? You’ve never seen someone buy a few cases of girl scout cookies before? Sheesh!

(By the by, you can freeze the Thin Mints. Throw a few in a blender with milk and fine ice cream, and you’ve got a heck of a milkshake. They’re so good, in fact, that I buy enough for the whole year. I just ran out of last year’s, right on schedule.)


Malachai Ironshaft

Filed under:General — eric @ 2:22 am

My life has been threatened, more than once lately, so I have decided it is necessary to log my daily activities. In the event of my untimely death, I want others to be aware of what I was doing in the hopes that they will continue to try to restore balance in my homeland.

Malachai Ironshaft is a seventy-five year old gnome from the Gnarley Forest. Evil has taken over the forest, and Malachai is doing what he can to set things right. Along the way, he’s keeping an on-line journal.


New Yorker

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:57 am

The New Yorker magazine has finally started posting online content. I was frustrated with them last year when I was looking for material to use in conjunction with my production of The Man Who Came to Dinner. I used a New Yorker theme to tie the poster and program to the show, using the same fonts and licensing a cartoon from their cartoon bank. Their (at the time) lack of online content made my work harder than it had to be. Anyway, besides the works from the current issues, they’re posting some of their older content too, such as this excellent short story about a schoolgirl’s crush on her English teacher, The Smoker.

Urban Legends

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:13 am

Is Ananova reporting urban legends now? Zoo keeper mauled to death ‘after defecating on tiger’


Billions of Earths

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:01 pm

According to one new novel approach to detecting planets around stars (looking for extra iro in the star itself, which would have come from iron-rich ateroids crashing into it, sent there by close encounters with Earth and Mars-sized planets), there are “billions of Earths” in this galaxy alone. Let’s go and get ‘em!

Peaple are weak

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:10 am

British microbiology professor Johnjoe McFadden writes in the Guardian that we must turn to human genetic engineering to insure the survival of the species. He argues that due to successful treatment of many diseases (such as diabetes), people are passing genes on that years ago would have died with the bearer before child-bearing age. As a result, he says, our gene pool is weaker and evolution is being thwarted.


They’re here!

Filed under:General — eric @ 11:19 am

A small box of chirping chickens was just brought to my desk.


Filed under:General — eric @ 5:33 am

I’m off to a class on making Sushi at home. I never thought I’d be a sushi fan, but it only took one try a couple years ago to get me hooked. Maybe that’s a bad phrase…

The Chicks

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:30 am

28 chickens were in the box (I’d ordered 25). Two didn’t make the journey from Iowa to Georgia, and a third likely won’t. Undoubtably, another one or two will be lost as well. Baby chicks are fragile things. I split the order with someone else, so there’re now 14 (including the hurt one) peeping in my kitchen. The four cats show gleeful apprehension.



Filed under:General — eric @ 4:04 am

Pseudonovibos spiralis is a species of southeast asian mountain goatish mammal. It made the news about ten years ago when it was discovered by scientists and immediately put on the endangered species lists. The scientists found horns from the animal for sale at local markets, and the native inhabitants described the animal to the researchers. No living specimens were found. It seems the animal was a jackalope.

Moon Landing Debunking

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:17 am

Apparently FOX-TV recently aired a program pushing the old “the moon landing was a hoax” line. Enough people have watched it that NASA has had to defend itself right on its main web page, and CNN reports the story. Meanwhile, for a more interesting debunking, visit Richard Hoagland (the “face on Mars” fellow) as he explains that the whole landing fake idea is nonsense, because NASA did land on the moon and saw ruined cities while they were there.

Farming Weekend

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:43 am

It was a busy weekend at the farm. (Now that I’m a farmer, I can call my house the farm.) The chickens come this week, so Chris and I built a brooder box for the little peepers to live in inside the house. We also borrowed a really nice miter circular saw and began construction of the chicken coop. It’s a big one, over 100 square feet, made of lumber and chicken wire. Well, a new plastic chicken wire. It was so much easier to work woth than the traditional kind! We’ll see how it holds up to chickens and rodents. The coop’s almost done, and will be complete tonight or tomorrow. I’ll post pictures and plans later. I also made a half gallon of yogurt and a half gallon of kefir. Yogurt you’ve certainly heard of, and homemade is both thinner and tangier than what’s commonly available in the store. I jut had some for lunch, with diced strawberries mixed in. Kefir is very similar, but thinner still to the point of being drinkable. It’s cultured like yogurt, but has a slightly different blend of bacteria. It’s related to the (alcoholic) fermented milk drink from Mongolia. Tart and tangy, it’s an aquired taste. I had to work up to it over the last couple years.


Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin

Filed under:General — eric @ 11:20 am

The Georgia Department of Agriculture has a wonderful online version of its Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin. You’ll find everything from the latest prices of livestock to growing a small garden to cooking with fresh, locally grown meat and produce. It has been suggested to me that I use the classified ad section to buy me a mule.


Filed under:General — eric @ 10:48 am

Sunday Chris and I hosted a little cast party. I bought most of the supplies, including sliced cheese for the grilled things. Four packs, in case people were hungry. I was in a hurry and didn’t really read the labels like I usually do. I saw “blah blah grams blah blah milk blah in every slice”, and into the cart in went.

It turns out that there’s a small amount of a certain milk protein in evey slice, with the remainder made up of soybeans and various other items. The result is slices of yellow stuff that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike cheese. And I still have two whole packs left over. Let this be a lesson for you.


Filed under:General — eric @ 10:30 am

I made a soup last night of things from the garden. Mainly parsnips. I planted a bunch of them last year, but I’ve been eating them very slowly. They’ve been in the ground almost a full year now, and they keep getting better and better. The winter seems to have made them sweet, like a carrot naturally infused with honey. Since they’re so old, they’ve mighty large, and they’ve got a woody core running down them. I had to cut that out before slicing them into the pot. Along with the parsnips were some winter onions and chopped collard greens, all from the garden. Supplemented with mushrooms from the fridge and old peas and corn from the freezer, wetted with milk and cream, the soup was very tasty. It was a large pot, so there’s plenty of leftovers.

The first jonquil has bloomed in the yard. The grass is greening up, and it’s at that stage where there’s as many shades of green as you can imagine. All the plants are vying for control of the dirt. There’s the wildflowers, the grasses (many varieties), the weeds, and the mosses. Each has its own patch, and the patches together make the yard a carpet of greens, blues, and blueish-greens. It’ll be soon time to fire up the sourdough pancake powered lawnmower — it keeps the grass short enough to allow the flowers to poke through.

The peas went in as planned. I ran out of peas before I ran out of dirt, so I’ll need to get more. If all goes well, there will be many, many peas in a couple of months. Want some?

On a completely unrelated note, this weblog was declared to be the 500th site to be powered with Greysoft. I’ve only just begun to explore its potential, but I’m very, very impressed. Noah Grey has done a magnificent job with it.


Filed under:General — eric @ 4:59 am

I realized recently that I haven’t been drinking near enough water. At work, when I was thirsty, I’d head for the coffee pot. My body’s been craving water, but I didn’t listen to it. Well, I finally got a water bottle at work that I’ll empty twice a day. It’s a 1.5L bottle, and I just finished the second fill. My nose is running, so I guess I’ve had enough.


Remembering Storms

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:09 am

A year ago, I was woken from a rather pleasant dream by a storm that shook my (then) new house. It was one of the first nights I’d slept there, and the ferocity of the storm and the unfamiliarity of my surroundings had me a little frightened. The storms came with tornados, and while none struck close to me, they did kill 20 Georgians. Georgia remembers.

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