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Posts Tagged ‘#365Ways’

Good Morning!

Photo by Will Mu on Pexels.com

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

— The United States Constitution 

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An interactive, customizable blackout poetry site? Yes, please!

Blackout Poetry Maker

Click the words you want to keep, then “black out.”

Have fun!

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I used to be a terrible procrastinator. Now I’d say I’m about average. Work deadlines? No problem. The birthday card I need to send out? Yeah, that’s definitely going to be late (sorry!). And don’t get me started on my writing for the past year. It was much easier to put it off to doomscroll pandemic and political news. Not better, by any means, but easier.

I had to put that to a stop. But what to do instead? How to stop putting things off and get more done?

The good news is that useful research has been done on how to get past procrastination. Here’s an article with a handy rundown:
‘Why Do I Spend Weeks Avoiding Tasks That Will Take Me 10 Minutes to Do?’

This is an excellent question.

There’s something about the task itself—and the way you feel about it—tripping you up.

As I’ve mentioned, I like the “procrastinate productively” strategy. It can still be hard to get everything done, especially when “everything” includes projects with no external accountability (like writing, if you aren’t a pro). But I find there’s always something little I can do, at the very least. Also? Be kind.

Don’t expect you’re going to get rid of the tendency to procrastinate in the 10 minutes it took to read these tips, and try not to be so hard on yourself. 

For writers who find themselves stuck, I like this book:

On Writer’s Block by Victoria Nelson

“As a rule, young children don’t complain of wanting to fingerpaint but finding themselves mysteriously unable to do so.” 

She’s got a point. So have fun and get things done:)

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Cuddly Cozy Pew Pew!

Today seems like a cat sort of a day. We finally got a quality snowfall this weekend and have spent a decent amount of time inside by the fire. The cat approves. I’d include a picture if I could find her, but here’s a comic from xkcd for you instead.

Better hide the laser pointer;)

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Everyone likes a catchy tune. You do, I do, and drunken sailors do too. I don’t TikTok but apparently I do sea shanty.

I ran across an article on how sea shanties are trending right now (I found it while looking for perkier Viking songs than those in Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, personally, but this trend is wide and deep). 

The tunes are earworms extraordinaire but what really caught my attention was the life of the songs. Sea shanties are old, but (thank you, internet!) it took hardly any time at all for people to morph the original into something new and collaborative. Where it started:

Where we are (no doubt this is still in progress!):

Cool, right?* And good luck getting that out of your head;)

For more on the history of this song and others like it, check out this piece from The Guardian, The true story behind the viral TikTok sea shanty hit, including this insightful bit on why a centuries-old singing tradition is striking a chord now:

“My guess is that the Covid lockdowns have put millions of young [people] into a similar situation that young whalers were in 200 years ago: confined for the foreseeable future, often far from home, running out of necessities, always in risk of sudden death, and spending long hours with no communal activities to cheer them up.”

Should you wish to dive deeper (ha!), here’s a collection of other sea shanties:

* * *

* And how about a shoutout to the unacknowledged hero of this song, the whale! 😉

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Sammich Bread

I post recipes for your entertainment and edification, but also so that when I lose my scribbled-on bits of paper I’m not left digging through piles of scrap-paper notes while muttering “I just saw it here somewhere!” For example, today’s recipe is my current favorite sourdough bread recipe. Here’s what it looks like when it’s at home:

Mr. Man liked my initial attempts at sourdough (I’ll have to post that recipe later) but wanted a soft, sandwich-friendly loaf that had good flavor and stored well but wasn’t as tangy as a classic sourdough loaf. This recipe works perfectly.

The recipe is a hybrid, with both starter and instant yeast. If you don’t have yeast, it’s possible to make it work with levain only, using a little more starter and longer rise times (check out comments at the recipe link below; search for “yeast” to see what other bakers have done).

The original is from King Arthur, an employee-owned company established in 1790, and known for its flour but also its recipes, videos, and helpful staff. We can’t get their flour up here, and so have to make do with alternatives. I use unbleached organic all-purpose flour because that’s what I’ve got, and I’ve tweaked the recipe to work without dry milk, which I never have.

I’ve used this recipe to make two standard loaves or (same bake time) one 9 x 13 pan of pull-apart rolls, great for sliders or with soup, chili, etc. Hasn’t failed me yet!

* * *

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

modified from Sourdough Sandwich Bread | King Arthur Baking

Ingredients

Levain*

• 1 C + 1 Tbs (128g) flour

• 1/2 C + 1 Tbs (128g) water (60° to 70°F)

• 3 Tbs (44g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter

* The flavor won’t be as developed, but if you forget, this can be done the morning of.

Dough

• 5 1/4 C (631g) flour

• 1/4 C (50g) sugar • 2 1/2 tsp (15g) salt

• 2 tsp (5.6g) instant yeast

• 4 Tbs (57g) butter, room temperature

• 1 5/8 C (382g) milk (70° to 80°F, I microwave for 35 seconds)

• all of the ripe levain

Instructions

• Make the levain (~8pm): Mix the levain ingredients together and place in a covered container with room for the levain to grow. It will almost double in size, and will take about 12 hours to ripen at room temperature (70°F). This is a good time to take the butter out of the fridge.

• Make the dough (~8am): Mix and then knead together all of the dough ingredients, including the levain, to make a smooth, supple, and not overly sticky dough. Your mileage may vary, but kneading takes me 10-12 minutes by machine or hand.

• Place the kneaded dough in a lightly-buttered bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.

• Divide the dough in half, and shape each into 8″ logs. Place the logs in two buttered bread pans. Cover the pans and let the loaves rise until they’ve crowned about 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 1 to 2 hours. Don’t score.

• Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

• Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. (Internal target temperature is 195-200F.) For me, this is 35 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven and turn them out onto a rack. Let cool completely before slicing.

* * *

nom!

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I woke this morning with a story start in my head, and it’s using up most of my mental bandwidth at the moment. So instead of something new, here’s something old, from a trip journal I took to Latin America in 2000. I’m laughing at the memory now.

April 26
Wednesday
San Jose

I’m late writing again today because we got up at 6:30 a.m. for a rainforest canopy tour and just got back. It was a lot of fun. I was a little worried that I’d need strength, you know like hand-over-hand on a wire, but then the guides started talking about how they’d had an 80-year-old man on tour a while back who was fine. It was a lot of fun (again!).

We drove north 45 minutes or so into the woods, a bit of protected land that’s part of a larger park containing 6% of Costa Rica’s land. We were the only ones on the tour and had a total of four guides. We parked at the “Canopy Adventures” headquarters and were outfitted with harnesses, caribiners (climbing rings), and gloves. We got back in the car with our gear and drove another kilometer or two up a very rocky and steep road. It wound up into the mountains, through a farm and past pastures. After parking at a little turnabout in the trees we proceeded on foot.

The hike was only 20 minutes or so but through the forest and steep. In some parts we walked along a road paved 60 years ago by farmers who needed to get their milk to market despite heavy winter rains. The rocks they used were hauled from a far-off river bed, then set carefully enough that the road is still useable today. The rest of the walk was over a path paved by tree rings, given added traction with metal mesh embedded into their tops. Along the way our guide pointed out different flowers and plants native to the rainforest. I remember the bromeliads (a relative of the pineapple that grows on trees and air), plants to eat if you get lost in the mountains, and plants used to weave coffee-gathering baskets.

Suddenly we were at the base of Platform 1 and the real start of our adventure. Our first task was to climb a wooden ladder up into a tropical oak tree, then out onto the first platform high up in the tree. Each of us carried our gloves and pulley attached to the climbing harness we’d been wearing since HQ. At this point, we were hooked onto a cable with one caribiner, then told what how to move along the wire and land safely. I felt a little like a side of beef, hanging from the wire by my belt and hoping my tippie-toes were enough to keep me on the platform.

We were to travel from one platform to the next along these wires through the trees. At each platform a guide would stand facing us as we held the cable running between platforms. Pulling the cable down in a modified pull-up, the guide held the pulley on top of the cable while connecting our second caribiner to it, just below the cable. Once this clamp was secure the guide unhooked the first caribiner from the cable and clamped it to the pulley, in the opposite direction as the first. Now there was nothing keeping me on the platform but the guide’s hand in front of the pulley. Upon hearing an answering cry of “¡Listo!” from the team at the receiving platform, that hand too was removed. Feet up, head back, one hand on the caribiners and one on the cable behind to brake, and I was off.

There were nine platforms, all fun, with the longest and steepest drop being the best as far as I was concerned. At each I was unhooked from the pulleys, then secured to the tree, which I climbed up or around or through to reach the next jumping-off point. The trees were huge, and seemed to carry the weight of the wooden platforms with ease.

After one or two jumps I noticed that a light touch on the caribiners attached to the pulley would keep me facing forward as I shot through the overgrowth. I also got quite good at braking and had lots of fun zooming at full speed just to the platform’s edge, then stopping right in front of the startled guide. Very fun. They got me back at Platform 9 though. Rather than climbing down from our final jump we rappelled, although the guides controlled the descent. No problema, I thought, I’ve done this before, and I’d be happy to go first. Rope between my legs, hands gripping the locked caribiners, I sat into the harness and eased slowly past the platform’s edge. Humph, I thought, this isn’t too baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaadddddddddddddddd!!!!!!!!! And almost swallowed my tongue as I was playfully dropped half the distance to the forest floor. The guides thought it was funny as hell, especially when all I could say after that heart-thumping, stomach-inspiring drop was “Jesus Christ!” Total free fall, unexpected, scary, and yes, funny as hell. I was still laughing five minutes later.

* * *

Not me but it gives you the idea; I was too busy to take photos for most of this trip.
Photo by Mam NC on Pexels.com

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Space & Sound

Dear Fellow Science / Sci-Fi / Creative / Authorial / Curious Types,

Yesterday’s Vivaldi link got me thinking about music and sound. Have you ever wondered what you’d sound like on other planets? I know I have, and apparently Popular Science has too. Here’s your answer:

What your voice would sound like on other planets and moons

Barry White’s got nothing on a Martian’s croon.

Here’s a more detailed take on the question from Harvard:

You Asked: If you were able to talk on another planet, how would you sound?

In space, no one would hear you scream.
But make a quick detour down to the surface of Venus, and all bets are off. 

And this piece is more involved, but includes links to more work and audio clips with examples like this one from Discovery:

The sounds of voices and waterfalls on other planets | Engineering | University of Southampton

Sure, there’s that whole no breathable atmosphere issue but! I like the way this helps me think about science in an up-close-and-personal kind of way.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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Write fiction, or want to? Care about what’s happening with the climate, and how it will change life on Planet Earth? This new contest may be for you!

Introducing Imagine 2200: Our new cli-fi contest

Contest guidelines
• Entry is free!
• Submissions close April 12, 11:59 p.m. U.S. Pacific Standard Time.
• Authors must be 18 years or older at the time of submission.
• No previously published, multiple, or simultaneous submissions accepted.
• Submissions must be 3,000–5,000 words.
• If you need accessibility accommodations, please email us at imaginefiction@grist.org.

As always, keep an eye out for any fine print, particularly in the publishing rights arena, but it looks good from what I can see.

And for those who are interested in the ways in which a changing climate might impact us beyond the obvious (like ticks and wild pigs moving North, so fun*), check out this article on the interface of climate and one classic musical piece:

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, remade for a post-climate change world

* * *

* Not fun at all, but at least it’s given us the humorous-sounding portmanteau wordpigloo.” So there’s that.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

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You Were Right

So, you were right yesterday when you read my piece and thought to yourself, “No way is she getting all that done in an hour.”

My response:

1: You were right. I’m saying it again to give you the opportunity to revel in it. Who doesn’t like being right?

2: I roasted the mushrooms and minced the stems, but did not make stock. We watched an episode of Star Trek: Discovery instead (Michelle Yeoh forever!) and then I made a gallon of mushroom soup.

3: The extra time gave me a chance to switch gears. Today I decided to switch from making stock to duxelles, because the mushrooms were so fresh that even the typically-woody shiitake stems were soft and delicious. I’m sautéing that now and will (predictably) freeze them in cubes for later.

4: Even though the whole process took longer than expected, I’m glad I did it because yay, ready-to-eat mushrooms are great, but also because the optimistic time frame helped me get started in the first place. Yesterday was the kind of day where I woke up and wished I had another couple of hours to sleep in. Thinking about several hours of mushroom-related kitchen work might have meant me saying, “Hmm, thanks, but no thanks.” This way, I got started, made good progress, and finished several things I might not have thought I had the energy for yesterday.

It reminds me that getting started is often my biggest hurdle. That’s helpful for both the kitchen and writing.

* * *

So I didn’t get everything done as fast as I’d hoped. I still managed to tackle those three huge boxes of mushrooms before they went bad and also made soup, which we’ll have tonight for dinner with the bread I made this morning. So yay.

And really, that was a lot of mushrooms.

* * *

not sure what happened to that one roll in the back, but whatever, it’s fine

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