“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World

Such a prophetic statement.  We cling to Internet echo chambers rather than crystals and horoscopes, but otherwise, this is exactly what America is like in 2016.


Fun With Spices

Got a couple of nice pieces of chuck eye roast this morning at Wegmans’. When looking up suggestions on how to prepare this unfamiliar cut of meat, one recipe recommended seasoning the meat with sumac and rosemary. We have a Penzeys spice merchant not far away, and they sell a middle eastern spice blend called Zatar (also spelled Za’atar), of which I happened to have a small jar in my spice cupboard. It contains sumac, which is dark red in color and sort of lemony, thyme, white sesame seeds, and salt. I figured okay, close enough, let’s try it. I’ve got the meat browning in a skillet before I put it in the oven, and it smells amazing. If it tastes half as good as it smells, I think this is going to be my new favorite treatment for beef chuck.

Posted via blogwith

Blogging the Scientific Method

I’ve been percolating an idea for a while now. One of the most irritating tropes of right wing politics in the US is the demonization, mischaracterization, mistrust, and general dismissal of science. I quite agree with Ethan Siegel’s excellent piece on the responsibilities of a science educator (formal or informal). While it is of paramount importance to (correctly) teach people about what science says and what our current knowledge is, I think it is equally important to teach people how we get there. Scientists don’t consult arcane oracles or rely on dusty, ancient grimoires for their knowledge. Neither do most of us get our talking points from the political heavyweight du jour. There’s a process to the acquisition and development of what we call “science,” and it’s really just a slightly more careful version of what everybody does when they’re trying something new. I want people to understand that, and I want people to become conscious of how they do science all the time so that it’s less of a scary black box that is misused politically to either frighten people unnecessarily or lull them into a false sense of righteous security when they should legitimately be alarmed. I’m going to call this lark “Blogging the Scientific Method,” and I’m searching for the right platform for it.

Nifty new service

There is a new service coming online that allows users to compose posts in Evernote, tag them appropriately, and then publish to WordPress blogs. If you’re an Evernote user, it’s worth testing. It’s still pretty bare bones, but the core functionality is there, and it looks like they’re adding more features, like Markdown support. If it remains stable, well-developed, and low on bugs, I might well spring for the premium version to give the developers some support. Check out blogwith.co!

Announcement: Blog has moved again!

Well, I’m back.  After using Postach.io as my Evernote-integrated blogging platform for awhile, they opted to put the entire service behind a pay wall.  And while I am absolutely not opposed to paying for a service from which I get good use, the features the Postach.io team wanted me to pay for centered largely around collaboration (5 authors! 10 sites!).  Not being a collaborative blogger, this seemed like a poor value for me.  Additionally, they got rid of Dropbox and Pocket integration, which I really enjoyed.  The fee is about the same as the premium package on wordpress.com, and frankly I don’t think Postach.io, with its slimmed-down integrations and dodgy syncing/parsing, is worth that yet.  So here I am at WordPress again.  Over the next several days, I’ll be back-filling posts that went up on my Postach.io blog, and it’ll be (almost) like I never left!

I own a Lazyboy recliner and have for over a decade. It’s the one “good” piece of furniture I splurged on as a single, cash-strapped graduate student. It’s still in very good shape and currently resides in our family room. I’m so glad I bought this chair; it is quite literally the only thing in which I’ve been able to tolerate sitting over the past few days as I’ve been recovering from a surgical procedure.

So. Moral of the story: a high-quality, comfortable chair is a worthwhile investment. Take good care of it, and it will take good care of you.

Columbus Day Morning

Holiday morning lazing about in bed, reading

Hubby (also lazing): “I think I’ll paint over some spots in the bathroom that need touching up.”
Me: blink “But we don’t have bathroom paint.”
Hubby: “I’ll just use the bedroom paint. It’ll be close enough.”
Me: thinking about how the bedroom is mauve and the bathroom is pastel purple “Um, I really don’t think…”
Hubby: “It’ll be fine!” bounds off to gather painting supplies
Me: “But…!” decides this is not the hill she wants to die on

sounds of painting happening, followed by the washing machine starting up

Hubby: “Done! Don’t use the shower until it’s dry, okay?”
Me: “Sure.”
Hubby: “Also, your towel is in the wash, so you’ll have to wait for it to be done.”
Me: suspicious “Did you get paint on my towel?”
Hubby: “No! No, I most definitely did not get paint on your towel.”
Hubby: “I got paint on my towel. So I put yours in the wash with it. Y’know, so you wouldn’t be able to use the shower until the paint is dry.”
Me: ….. does not comment on the fact that other towels do in fact exist in this house.
Hubby: “Also, we really need to get the right color paint. The bedroom paint looks pretty awful.”
Me: sigh

I do so love this time of year. The air is a bit bracing, the angle of the light is getting lower in the sky, and I can smell woodsmoke and drying leaves in the air. The leaves are starting to turn, and I’m already hoarding the visual experience of driving or walking down wooded roads. I want to do everything at once – shop for a new jacket (I’ve out-shrunk my barn coat), visit the local farmers markets for apples and squash, raid the crafts stores for DIY Fall decor, crochet myself a nice cuddly wrap….

The road out to a local University Field Station on my walk today 

I wish Fall lasted much longer than it does, with its warm colors and cool temperatures and cozy turn towards the comforts of home and hearth while still propelling us outdoors to appreciate the whirlwind of changes from summer to winter. I guess one of the beautiful things about Autumn, though, is its transience. It makes us appreciate it by its very brevity, clinging to those perfect days before it all dissolves into rain and chill and grey and brown on its way to the still, brittle white of winter. We’re off to a lovely and early start to my favorite season here in New England. Here’s hoping that it carries on for glorious weeks yet.

On days when the weather is good, neither too hot nor too cold nor too wet, I try to get out for a brisk walk over my lunch hour.  I typically go 2-2.5 miles, which takes me about half an hour if I really hoof it.  My employer’s facility is in an industrial park that houses other technology and defense-related businesses and labs, and you can get a good walk in without stepping out onto busy roads.  Today, my walk looked like this:

Bridge Over a Very Small Gully

Absolutely gorgeous day today; brilliant sunshine, temperatures in the low 70s (F), fair weather clouds in the sky, and a very mild breeze.  I’ll take a hundred just like today, please and thank you.  I hope the weather continues cooler and more comfortable beyond the end of this week.  It felt great to get out and have a brisk walk after so many days spent avoiding the stifling heat that’s been parked over Boston.