Google+ Followers

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bouncing into Tuesday-cum-Monday

Tuesday is pretending to be Monday this morning, but didn't bother to don the full costume. The effect is confused, with an overall Monday flavor while bits of Tuesday poke through. Post-holiday start-of-the-shortened-work-week Tuesdays often feel that way.

The commute (top down, very high light cloud cover doing as ineffective a job of hiding blue skies as Tuesday is doing of presenting Monday) was very light. No doubt many are confused about the day and simply forgot to get up and drive into work this morning. More likely a lot of folks have this week off so they can get a full week of vacation for the price of four days leave.

As it happens, I did drive into campus yesterday (which only adds to the gap in Tuesday's costume) but not until late morning and only to catch up on email (having taken three days off last week) and to deliver pizza to the nearly thirty staff members who gave up a portion if their holiday to come in and test a major state-wide system software migration that took place over the weekend. I had the easy task, no question about that!

Still, much to do today. I'm cheating a few minutes out of my usual morning routine by taking my yerba mate canned (Guayaki Enlighten Mint, to be specific) but a catch-up Tuesday-cum-Monday will likely require a pot or gourd of additional mate as well.

This morning's playlist kicked off with the last half of a swinging Pink Martini tune (what's not to like about that?) and wrapped up with the silky smooth trumpet work of Terence Blanchard. Even as I whip out this short blog entry Blanchard is still bouncing along and causing me, subconsciously, to type in rhythm with the music. Say it with me: good stuff!

The full playlist:

- Pink Martini: Ohayoo Ohio
- Train: Blind
- Charlie Hayden & Pat Metheny: The Precious Jewel
- Terence Blanchard: Footprints

- Posted via Hermes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time

Wednesday woke slowly, since I didn't have to get up as early as usual today. A high altitude overcast creates inscrutable weather, it might rain it might burn off. The forecast calls for overcast and rain, with the latter kicking in shortly after noon. Time to enjoy a lazy start to the day is a rare treat, at least for me.

This is actually my second blog entry for today. The first one was a doozy: long, opinionated, and frustrated. I think it may have included words like frigtard. Maybe a bit worse, actually. Consequently, I'll keep it offline. While I do occasionally riff on such topics, this isn't a blog for such matters and in my professional capacity some circumspection is required.

You see, the legislature has finally announced what today's reconciled state budget is going to look like and I have strong feelings about what we're doing and not doing as a state and what they are requiring of the now drastically underfunded college system in the state. The only thing worse than unmitigated cuts to a system as poorly funded as ours currently is, is unmitigated cuts combined with ignorant legislative micromanaging. I'll leave it at that for this space.

So having perma-parked that looooong post, I fried up a couple of brown eggs and toasted a mate bagel to cover with fresh cashew butter. Ahh, that feels more like a morning off!

Now, with a couple of loaves of whole-grain mate bread (just substitute strong brewed mate for most of the water in the linked recipe) waiting through it's first rising, a cup of warm mate beside me, and some good nostalgia music in my headphones, the transition to down time is getting closer with each passing minute.

Speaking of the music, a while back I went looking for an older piece of early "Jesus rock" from my musical past. Consummate guitarist/songwriter Phil Keaggy once recorded, with A Band Called David as part of a live concert recording, an extended version of his piece Time. Regardless of your beliefs (this is song with a religious message in the lyrics), this has to be one of the best bits of guitar/band jamming recorded in the last thirty years. In fact, Phil's section of the recorded concert is full of some really amazing music. Given this is a musician frequently referenced by Guitar Player Magazine readers' polls as one of the world's top-3 "fingerstyle" as well as "fingerpicking" guitarists, that shouldn't really be surprising. For example, the instrumental section of this live 16+ minute recording of the song Rejoice is so rich and varied I could sit and listen to it over and over and over. I will, in fact, today.

Time, down-time, good stuff.

- Posted via Hermes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The influence of the gourd

Tuesday (my Friday this week), top down, but skies threatening all the way in. The forecast only gives an 11% probability of 0.01 inch, so I was probably safe despite appearances.

This morning I wanted my mate in the gourd. I don't usually use a gourd in the office, because I don't have a good place to wash it out later. A commercial bathroom sink doesn't really like the small spent leaves and stems that have to be rinsed out of the gourd. Despite that hassle, there is something warm and inviting about a gourd of yerba mate (especially when combined with good music and the smiling faces of my grandkids):





There is also the unique by-the-gourd taste. Strong and intense at first, increasingly mellow as I top off the water over and over until the mate has given up it's flavor. No other method of enjoying mate gives that full-range experience.

Another great soundtrack this morning. Not one I would ever have thought to assemble, but the mix was quite good. Starting off with contemporary Latin hip hop from Mexico-by-way-of-Wisconsin and wrapping up with some excellent Dandy Warhols.

The full playlist:

- Kinto Sol: José el Azteca
- Adiemus: Cantus - Song Of Tears
- Big Head Todd & The Monsters: All The Love You Need
- The Dandy Warhols: Talk Radio

The post-commute mix has continued just as tastily, with Dr. Dog, Jan Garbarek, Bela Fleck, and some dark minor-key rock from the Брат-2 (Russian mafia movie soundtrack) soundtrack. Maybe it's the influence of the gourd.

- Posted via Hermes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Naked as the hanged man's secrets

Monday, top down, and bluish skies. Depending on the forecast you follow, it looks like there may be some light showers late morning, then clearing again through tomorrow.

We finally got the garden in this past weekend. For us, that means large containers arranged to fill the lower deck with just enough room to walk between the plants when they are full grown, It is a sun-baked space, with the added benefit of additional radiant heat off the Western side of the house. This year we have seven different tomato plants, three rows of green bush beans, snap peas, a lettuce bowl, basil, parsley, three rhubarb plants, thyme, and rosemary.

After the passing of the much-heralded and much-lampooned scheduled rapture this weekend, I kept thinking of two Bruce Cockburn tunes. The first was Wondering Where The Lions Are:

Suns up, uh huh, looks ok,
The world survives into another day
And I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me

I had another dream about lions at the door
They weren't half as frightening as they were before
But I'm thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold of me


The second was You Don't Have To Play The Horses:

So we wait beside the dessert
Nothing left to give away
Naked as the Hanged Man's secrets
Nothing left to do but pray

You don't have to play the horses
Life's a gamble all the same
It don't take much to make you lose sight
Of the object of the game


Or as Bede so wisely said, "So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant."

What follows here, and what came before this post, was a very good playlist accompanying me in this morning:

- Midlake: Fortune
- Joni Mitchell: Number One
- Valley: Death Star Gunner
- P.T. Walkley: Sunshine
- Wilco: You Are My Face


- Posted via Hermes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blue skies, brown eyes, and taking five

Thursday, so often just a pretender of Friday, can't possibly pull that off today. We all know that, even though today is scheduled to be another beautiful sun-filled day, Friday is forecast to be our warmest yet. So everyone has their internal expectation-calendars calibrated for Friday. Thursday, then, is just another beautiful day, which is quite sufficient.

Top down drive in again this morning. I have an off-campus meeting that will afford another top-down drive later this morning, too. There is something brain-cleansing about having your head flapping in the breeze. Maybe in a previous life I was a dog that got to take long car trips, and I'm simply channeling my past love of having my head out the window, tongue hanging out, nose working in overdrive.

The music was beautifully mixed this morning. This is exactly the kind of shuffle-created random jumble of music that inspired this daily blog in the first place. Take Five is one of those tunes that could get anyone in a good mood almost anytime it comes on. Written by sax player Paul Desmond and recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet on the one-of-the-best-selling-of-all-time album, Time Out, the tune has been deservedly recorded over and over. Desmond left the royalties for performances of the song, upon his death in 1977, to the Red Cross. Apparently, they get over $100k/year from those royalties.

Today's full most-excellent playlist:

- Dave Brubeck: Take Five
- Gaudi with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Jab Teri Duhm Main Raha Karte They
- Nick Drake: Which Will
- The Guggenheim Grotto: Wisdom

For what it's worth, Van Morrison is currently crooning Brown Eyed Girl as I type this entry, sipping my morning mate. Another foot-tappingly good tune that always me think of the brown-eyed love of my life. The tune is currently in it's fifth or sixth repeat. Some things simply get better with time, just like my own brown-eyed girl.

- Posted via Hermes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blue-skies happy with iced mate

Mr. Malleable (AKA Wednesday) popped out in glorious blue-skies-everywhere sunshine! No ifs, ands, or buts, and decidedly not malleable. Sunshine! If you live elsewhere, you may not be able to relate to how intensely happy we get around these parts when a day begins with undiluted sunshine, with no descriptive weather modifiers needed. A friend said, just last week, that this was now officially the longest November on record. That about sums up our spring so far this year. So color me blue-skies happy.

As a result, the drive in featured the sunlit Cascade mountains in my rear-view mirror and the sunlit Olympics in my forward view. It really doesn't get a whole lot better than that for a commuting view. Top down, crisp air whirling around the top of my head, bird song louder than the music, and a tall iced cup of Yerba mate in the center console cup-holder getting in my way and forcing me to use the paddle shifters.

If you've ever stumbled over this blog before, you probably know I am a big fan of Guayaki Yerba Mate. Hot, iced, or room temperature, by the glass, the gourd, the mug, or can, it's good stuff. I like the cans of prepared mate, slightly sweetened, and with added flavors, especially the Enlighten Mint. I also like to brew my own mate concentrate and use that for my morning bring-it-with-me, day-starting iced mate. And I've come up with my own recipe for making a delicious sort-of-similar-to-Enlighten-Mint mate concentrate:

For a 10-cup coffee maker, add four tablespoons of loose leaf mate (I like Guayaki's Barbaqua blend) and dump the contents of one teabag of Celestial Seasoning's Tension Tamer herbal tea plus the contents of one tea bag of Stash Tea's Licorice Spice. Pour the brewed concentrate into a refrigeratable container after dissolving two tablespoons of raw sugar into it. I use about three parts of this concentrate with one part water, plus ice, for a delicious iced mate.

As for the music that accompanied me on the drive in today, it was quite varied and quite ok, but not stellar. Michael Occhipinit's interpretations of Bruce Cockburn's music makes for a very very good album, but the quiet intensity of the tunes make them less suited for top-down listening. The set closed with an early (and presciently titled?) John Mayer song, just starting as I pulled onto campus.

The full playlist:

- Michael Occhipinti: Lovers In A Dangerous Time
- Electric Owls: Halloween Mask
- Kenny Werner: Press Enter
- John Mayer: My stupid mouth


- Posted via Hermes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A three-tune commute with descending arpeggio

Tuesday wore an invisibility cloak. Deep fog, of the sort that wipes out everything further forward than half a block, made a slower-paced and visually surreal commute. The forecast calls for (I'm almost afraid to say this out loud!) sunshine the rest of this week. Highs of 70° F (21° C) are even whispered for later in the week. We simply won't know how to act. We'll be staggering around like a bunch of sun-struck penguins with silly grins on our faces, no doubt. I'll take it!

I am always surprised by the number of cars that drive with no lights in fog like this. They suddenly whip past out of the swirling white, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings. Maybe that's just a small-car observation, though. I run with my lights on at all times, for added visibility. I'm used to being aware of my own degree of visibility and knowing I am likely going to have to compensate for other's poor sight lines and massive blind spots. It was, after all, only very large vehicles that I saw with no lights on this morning. Very large vehicles often create a false sense of invincibility, which can easily translate into a reduced sense of responsibility to what is around them. I remember a comedian (though not which one) doing a characterization of a Brooklyn man walking through a sidewalk crowd. With a sniff and a gesture that made it look like he was pushing himself up from his navel, he shouted, "Hey! I'm walkin' here!" Same kind of thing.

A three tune commute again today, this time kicked off by a wonderfully rich 8+ minute jazz number. Not sure where the title (Teen's Romance) comes into play, but there are a couple of sections where the percussion takes on a very clock-like rhythm, so maybe that has something to do with sleeping through the day?

Gaelic Storm offered a shallow tune about a love-lorn human asking God for a pair of wings for the day so he could cross the Atlantic and steal back his lost love, which he apparently lost to another because of his own boorish behavior. Very hummable, though.

Finally, Michele Camilo served up one of the most beautiful solo piano pieces in my collection. Titled The Resolution it affords more gentle-but-rapid-fire finger work than a Chopin minuet. There is one particularly beautiful descending arpeggio that always causes me to hit the replay button, just to listen to this tune a second time. Today, that second listen had to be in the office while I typed up this post, since the song finished up just as I pulled into a parking spot on campus.

Today's playlist:

- Edward Simon: Teen's Romance
- Gaelic Storm: Human to a God
- Michel Camilo: The Resolution


- Posted via Hermes.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Appropriately grey and Simple Math

Monday is appropriately attired in overcast grey. After a record-breaking wet weekend even Monday, who regularly taunts us in the Pacific Northwet with bright warm clothing, seems to sense that coming in wearing withheld-sunshine would have been crossing the line today. Not that Saturday didn't fake us out and prove to be mostly nice most of the day. Many of us, having heard the forecast, were out early getting the lawn mowed and other outdoor tasks accomplished before the promised downpour descended. Turns out we could have mowed nearly all day and enjoyed some cloudy sunshine in the process. The skies didn't open up until around 5:00 PM and then they poured the rest of the weekend.

Last week was an every-other-day posting affair. Friday, like Wednesday, kicked off early with a 7:00 AM meeting off campus, so there was no opportunity to post post-commute. I did a make-up post this weekend, though. I had tweeted about having completed a fresh batch of bagels made with Yerba Mate and the good folks over at Guayaki (who's mate I buy) asked for the recipe. So I posted it to my blog to share out. A bit of a departure from the general thrust of this commute-music blog, but since mate figures regularly here, that's ok. In fact, without exception, every one of these morning posts is made over a mug, glass, or gourd of yerbe mate.

Now back to the music. This morning's soundtrack was limited to one album, no shuffling. This weekend I picked up a new album from a group I wasn't familiar with, which I try to do regularly to keep my musical horizons dynamic, and so I wanted to spend the commute getting to know this album better. The band is Manchester Orchestra, from Georgia, and the album is Simple Math. It's categorized in the "Alternative" genre, and, for once, that genre title may be applicable. It is certainly contemporary rock, in a Wilco-meets-Rocco-DeLuca-in-Appalachia sort of way. With a 12 string orchestra and children's choir tossed in here and there for good measure. There are a lot of very fine complex stitches in this tapestry. There is also a very Southern-nasal tenor that floats above the sweeping music, much like that of Jim James in My Morning Jacket (and this is not a bad thing!). The combined effect is unique and yet vaguely familiar. The album shifts around unpredictably (which is something I like), sort of like 2009's highly acclaimed album Oh My God, Charlie Darwin by The Low Anthem. If you like bands in the "alternative" genre puddle, I recommend giving this one a listen. Good stuff.

Albums songs listened to on the way in today:

- Leaky Breaks
- Simple Math
- Pensacola


- Posted via Hermes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yerba Mate New York-Style Bagels

Because a few have asked, here is my recipe for Yerba Mate bagels.

Yerba Mate New York-Style Bagels

Ingredients:

For the dough:
1 1/2 cup warm brewed Yerba Mate (I like the smokey flavor of Guayaki's Barbacua loose leaf mate)
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2+ cups unbleached bread flour

For the boiling pot:
water (enough to mostly fill a large pot)
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Stir together mate, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes to proof.

Pour into mixer bowl with bread hook attached. With motor running on medium-low (Kitchenaid setting #2), add in the oil and one cup of the flour. Add salt, then enough of remaining flour to make a stiff dough.

Continue to knead in mixer at same speed for 10 to 12 minutes. Cover with a dish towel and allow dough to rest for about 15 minutes.

Turn dough out onto very lightly floured surface and Divide dough into 8 sections and form each section into 10-inch long strips. Roll the ends together to seal and make a ring. Place on a lightly floured surface, cover, and let bagels rest 15 to 20 minutes, rising about halfway and becoming slightly puffy.

Meanwhile, fill a large cooking pot or Dutch oven three quarters full with water. Add the baking soda and salt.

Bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with baking parchment and. Set aside.

Lay out a kitchen towel, set near your stove. Reduce boiling water to a simmer and cook 2 bagels at a time (do not crowd the pot). Simmer bagels for about 45 seconds on one side, then turn and cook other side for another 45 seconds and then drain bagels on the towel.

Carefully place bagels on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake bagels plain or sprinkle with a topping of your choice (I like a light dusting of kosher salt). Place in the hot oven, and bake about 15 - 20 minutes. When almost baked, turn bagels over (a pair of tongs do the job easily). Transfer bagels to wire rack to cool.

Credit where it is due:
This is a modification of the CD Kitchen's Authentic New York Style Homemade Bagels recipe; the original recipe can be found at: http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/270/Authentic_New_YorkStyle_Homemade_Bagels48232.shtml



- Posted via Hermes.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sunlight is really a Borg toy

Thursday is pretending to be Friday again, but I know he really brings a longer-than-typical day with a Board meeting this evening. He does bring sunshine, at least for this morning. The skies currently portend a better day than the forecast prescribes. Golden sunlight slips brightly down through the cedar branches outside my office window as I type this. Good stuff!

I have a love/hate relationship with the auto-correction feature on my iPad. Mostly, it fixes the occasional fat-finger error just fine, and knows to throw apostrophes into contractions for me, and otherwise speeds up my typing. But just often enough it also gets weird on me. I fat-fingers one of the letters in the word brightly above and it converted it into Borg toy. Really? Was that your best guess, iPad? Does it really seem reasonable that I meant to suggest the sunlight was a Borg toy? Do I usually reference Star Trek in my morning blog entries? Other times it leaves a totally incorrect word lie like a cold turd in the middle of a sentence. When I type vey instead of very, it leaves it unflagged or edited. Is vey a word in some dictionary I don't know about? Sometimes it edits a nearly-right word into a series of two and three letter nonsense: Sec il op. Is that what Borgs say, these days?

This kind of thing happens just often enough that I am tempted to turn the feature off altogether, and yet I am addicted to some of the I'll-type-this-for-you aspects the feature also brings. So much so that when I type on the laptop I get frustrated when it doesn't automatically place a period at the end of a sentence and capitalize the next word when I hit the space bar twice.

I missed a second day posting this week. Yesterday's meeting schedule started off especially early, so there was no time to pause and reflect before diving into the day's email and preparations. To compensate, today's post contains extra detritus.

I've mentioned once or twice before that I frequently see a young man (late teens to early twenties?) walking wearing bright harlequin-pattern pants. At a driving-by glance they look sort of like pajama bottoms in style. The past couple of weeks I have passed him walking along the same patch of road more mornings than not, and each time he is wearing a similar type of leg wear. Always boldly patterned, each day a different pattern, and I have never seen him wear anything else. Fashion statement, uniform, or...? Curious minds want to know.

Because my route and time of day is the same each morning, there are regulars. I see many of the same vehicles, same folks walking to, or waiting at, particular bus stops, walking dogs, or just out walking. A couple of my neighbors leave at about the same time as me, and it isn't unusual for us to follow each other part of the way in, until they veer off toward one freeway or another. Mine is very much a neighborhoods commute, for which I am thankful.

My iPod served up an unusually delicious mix of tunes on my drive home last night; it's too bad I'm not blogging the homeward-bound trip. There would have been much to say. This morning's playlist was also quite good, and crates a very complimentary blend. Is playlist could live side by side on a single-format radio station:

- Traveling Wilburys: Maxine
- Sting: Ghost Story
- My Morning Jacket: Knot Come Loose (Live)
- Bruce Cockburn: Lord of the Starfields


- Posted via Hermes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Scotty! Can you bring them back?

Tuesday creeps in quietly, with a high haze of evenly distributed overcast and hues of soft steel blue filtered light. I kept the top down for the drive in this morning, but had to toss the lid up and over me shortly before I got to campus as a very light mist was starting to condense out of the air around me. The forecast is inscrutable, showing a 9% probability of 0.00 inches of rain, and the infamously PNW sun-with-clouds icon. So, as the weatherman said, we'll see.

Fellow iPadians, take a lesson, take a note: If you use the BlogPress app to write your blog posts (I do), always save your posts locally
before
you post. Any network burp at the moment of posting will otherwise eradicate your work. It won't be saved locally, it won't be posted. It will simply disappear in an invisible shower of binary digits.

I was lazy yesterday morning, forgot this hard-learned lesson, and had to relearn it. Thus, no post for yesterday. Oh, it was duly written and submitted, but like a bad transporter malfunction, nothing beamed down to planet Blogger and nothing came back to the mother-ship. There was a fleeting moment when I wanted to shout: "Scotty! Can you bring them back?" But I knew, just as quickly, that it was already too late. My very-finite written thoughts has joined the infinite cloud of all possible unwritten words. I'm sure glad I submitted an extra-credit post on Mother's day!

A nicely stirred pot of tunes this morning, with a variety of genres floating to the surface of the boil. Alternative (whatever the hell that genre category is supposed to mean), rock, straight-up classic jazz, and Irish/classical/choral.

Cockburn sings (My Beat about his commute, on bike, through his new hometown (Montreal, in 2001), in a wonderfully poetic mix of the seen and the felt:

Past the derelict mattress
and the overgrown pavement
over the tracks
and through the hole in the fence
Past graffiti-bright buildings
and the junkyard alarm bell
and the screaming police cars
and it's all present tense

It's my beat
In my new town

Past the drunk woman reeling
with her bag of provisions
Down through the tunnel
with the stink-fuming bus
On to the bike path
where it's something like freedom
and the wind in my earring whispers
Trust what you must

It's my beat
In my new town

Ancient and always
The wheel's ever whirling
Today I'm riding
Tomorrow I walk
Step through forever
into this very moment
The heart is pumping
and the heart rocks

It's my beat
In my new town


A good commuting tune. Here is the rest of today's playlist:

- The Killers: Forget About What I Said
- Oscar Peterson Trio: Waltz For Debby
- Bruce Cockburn: My Beat
- Patrick Cassidy: Welcome The Cavalcade Of Steeds


- Posted via Hermes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day whole-grain cinnamon rolls

Mother's Day at our house means, among other things, baking cinnamon rolls. M. loves these rolls, and usually asks this of me as her Mother's Day treat. Since I love making bread products, and love sharing in the eating of these rolls, this is an easy acquiescence.

While these are (mostly) whole grain cinnamon rolls, let's not kid ourselves, these are also full of all sorts of sweet and gooey goodness. That is what defines a truly good cinnamon roll. A basic whole wheat bread dough wraps around a richly thick serving of butter, sugars, nuts, and dried cranberries and cherries. Trader Joe's sells wonderful dried orange-infused cranberries and dried cherries that add a tart counterpoint to the rest of the sweet in the filling.

Zoom (name is a link to product Web site) is a regionally available whole wheat hot cereal, similar to oatmeal except made from wheat grains. I like the added grain texture it adds to bread when included. Anything similar would substitute, of course, and you can leave it out altogether. You could also stick to white flour for the dough, but that would rob this recipe of the hearty bread flavor that helps carry off the gooey middle.

I usually make my bread doughs in a Kitchenaid, but any mixer, large food processor, or mixing and kneading the dough by hand would work just as well.

Here is what the finished product looks like:




And, for those who are interested, here is the recipe:

Kevin's (Mostly) Whole Grain Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:
3/4 Tablespoon yeast
1/4 Cup melted butter
1/2 Cup warm water
2/3 Cup warm milk
1 1/2 Cups bread flour
2 Cup whole wheat flour
2 heaping Tablespoons gluten flour
1/3 Cup Zoom cereal
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 Teaspoons salt

Filling:
1 Cup melted butter
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1 Cup chopped nuts
1 Cup soaked/drained craisins and/or dried cherries
2 Tablespoons cinnamon

Pour melted butter into bottom of mixer bowl with dough hook installed. Warm buttermilk and dissolve sugar, salt, and active dry yeast into it, then pour into mixer. Break eggs into mixer bowl, ensuring yolks are broken. Turn mixer on setting #2 and turn a timer on for 7 minutes. Add dry ingredients one by one and allow to mix and knead until timer expires. Add flour or water if needed to ensure a kneadable dough consistency. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes.

Turn out dough onto floured board and roll out into a large thin rectangle (roughly 22" x 14"). Spread filling across dough. Roll, starting from the long edge, jellyroll fashion. Seal ends, slice into 10-20 rolls. Place cut side down into buttered glass baking dish. Cover and let rise in a warm place, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.



- Posted via Hermes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ca-ching at the pump

Friday, wet and grey, but Friday nonetheless for that. The Miata's low-fuel warning light came on during the drive home last night, so I stopped and gave it a drink on the way in. Premium was at $4.30 this morning. The penalty for driving is ratcheting up, and heaven help you if you've decided the only way to get around it to wrap yourself in a couple tons of oversized automotive monstrosity, because the penalty for dragging all that weight with you everywhere is now as large as your vehicle. If it costs me over $40 to fill the Miata... Just like a couple years ago when gas rose to over $4/gallon, used car lots are once again full of big trucks and SUVs. This is known as a tipping point.

It's Building Community Day at the college. Once a year, the college uses a non-instruction day (no classes) as an internal employee training and celebration day. Oh, we are open for business, but most employees can participate in workshops, special events, or other actives off and on throughout the day, even if they have to take it in shifts. Some employees really look forward to this annual event, others (mostly those who are far too cool to be caught dead showing interest in anything that isn't deadly serious) eschew it. With workshops on technologies, assessment, homegrown food, degree audit, emergency preparedness, dance, an employee recognition luncheon, and much more, there are options for pretty much all employees. So while today is by no means a Friday off, it is a Friday with a difference.

The music this morning was mostly, meh. Too many overly-earnest, breathy singers trying to sound significant. Even Carole King was starting to repeat herself into preachiness. The high point was the Low Anthem.

The full playlist:

- The Jazz Networks: Someday My Prince Will Come
- Carole King: Peace in the valley
- The Weepies: They're In Love, Where Am I?
- Logh: The Invitation
- The Low Anthem: To Ohio (Reprise)


- Posted via Hermes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Event Density Gravitational Time Warp

Another week is flying past, and Thursday is already upon us. It does seem that the more tightly packed one's calendar the faster the week moves. Quite possibly there is a physical force at work in this. Maybe a tightly packed schedule is physically denser than one which has more open time in it. As such, it might generate a stronger gravitational force, pulling time past with greater speed. An Event Density Gravitational Time Warp. It's a working theory.

The rain is back. Yesterday was a glorious burst of warm and blue-sky sunshine that felt like it would finally go on forever. Today is grey and pissing clouds. Edna St. Vincent Millay says of April, in her poem Spring, "April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers." This year, so does May, if babbling is as-in-brook here, rather than chatter.

This morning's soundtrack was another winner. A really nicely blended set of very different tunes:

- Pink Martini: Una Notte a Napoli
- Gary Louris & Mark Olson: Cotton Dress
- The Weepies: Not Your Year
- The Connells: Waiting My Turn


- Posted via Hermes.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunshine and the eye of God

It may not be Friday, but when a morning bursts out this sunny right out of the gate, sandwiched into what has been a record cold and very wet early spring, it brings with it all the optimism of that popular dude. It's not supposed to last longer than today, so we must enjoy as much of it while we can.

I skipped yesterday (posting) because I had an early morning meeting followed by back to back meetings the rest of the day, so I needed every one of the few minutes I could scrape out of the early morning hours, just to be prepared for the day's events.

Today's soundtrack was quite good, and quite varied. It started with a recent acoustic live recording of Bruce Cockburn doing How I Spent My Fall Vacation. A long time favorite, I love the imagery in the lyrics and the way the last verse inverts the first:
Sun went down looking like the eye of God
Behind icy mist and stark bare trees
Inside the dim empty cinema two guys in leather jackets
Glance at each other and shiver
"They never built these places with winter in mind"
Out the window down the gray road
You can see old walled monastery
Now become a barracks for the paramilitary police

I saw an old lady's face once on a Japanese train
Half lit, rich with soft luminosity
She was dozing straight upright head bobbing almost imperceptibly
Wheels were playing fast in 9/8 time
Her husband's friendly face suddenly folded up in a sneeze
Across the straight a volcano flew a white smoke flag of surrender

In a Roman street on a full moon night
I was sick and there was a young cop in a circle of yellow light
As we drew near he snapped the safety off his machine pistol
And slid a trembling finger to the trigger
I wanted to say something calming but couldn't catch his eye
He didn't want contact -- he was trained to see movement
"Well don't shoot me, man, I'm a graceful slow dancer
I'm just a dream to you not real at all"

I wonder if I'll end up like Bernie in his dream
A displaced person in some foreign border town
Waiting for a train part hope part myth
While the station changes hands
Or just sitting at home growing tenser with the times
Or like that guy in "The Seventh Seal"
Watching the newly dead dance across the hills
Or wearing this leather jacket shivering with a friend
While the eye of God blazes at us like the sun...

Good stuff. The full playlist:

- Bruce Cockburn: How I Spent My Fall Vacation
- The Fray: Absolute
- Dave Grusin: Cuba Libretto ("Se Fue")
- John Denver: Take Me Home, Country Roads

- Posted via Hermes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dancing on the heads of our enemies

It hardly seems like a week has passed since the last Monday, but here we are at the start of another workweek cycle. I could read all sorts of things into this morning's first randomly shuffled-up song, when Monday fires up with the group Twenty Mondays doing a song titled, Lost Another Day. I refuse to believe, however, that shuffled songs can be read like tea leaves. Or, more precisely, I believe they foretell in about the same way that tea leaves do. They don't.

The top was still down (from this sunny weekend) on the Miata so I left it that way for the drive in. The skies were threatening rain, so I fully expected I would have to yard it back over me someplace between home and campus, but never had to. There were two drops on my windshield as I parked.

It's morning like this that I am so glad I have something other then radio to listen to. I would guess the airwaves and "interwebs" will be full of the life, crimes, and death of Osama Bin Ladin.

If I'm honest, I don't really know how to feel about this news. Oh, he had blood on his hands and certainly brought about his own death with his own actions. He deserved to be brought to some form of justice (though as Cockburn reminds us, "...everybody loves to see see justice done, to somebody else."), and a death sentence would no doubt have been the result of any trial (after a good long stint of torture, I'm sure). His death is one inevitably-required piece of closure for 9-11 and countless other acts of terrorism.

But to actually celebrate the death of any individual carries things a bit too far for me. Whether it's jubilantly dragging burnt corpses through the street or dancing in front of the White House and lighting off fireworks, this need to dance on the heads of our victims doesn't spring from our better natures. Maybe the defeat of that which we greatly fear, however symbolic, needs this sort of primal release?

I haven't walk in the bare feet of someone whose village has been destroyed, whose family has been killed, and who has managed to bring down the one(s) responsible, or any other equivalent. Maybe that is what it takes to truly understand this kind of emotion.

We know so little about ourselves and the world around us, moments like this reveals. That is why I don't trust those who have all the answers. Constant discovery and a willingness to live with some uncertainty is the only honest answer.

I said, earlier, that I don't believe the shuffled playlist foretells, but there are days when it seems strangely prescient. Today's playlist wrapped up with Bring The Boys Back Home.


- Twenty Mondays: Lost Another Day
- Jónsi: Boy Lilikoi
- Ralf Illenberger: Big Change
- Pink Floyd: Bring The Boys Back Home

- Posted via Hermes.