Monday, November 01, 2004

Weekend

Bah! I hate the time change. As I was saying to Shawn, I'd be happy if they just picked daylight savings or standard time and stick with it. One or the other. As a morning person, my sleep pattern is disrupted for about a week after the shift in the fall. This morning, I was up at 2AM. The Seattle Times reported yesterday that there's another good reason not to shift, other than my feeling that it's just plain idiotic.

Well, we had an interesting weekend. On Saturday, Shawn had classmates over who are working with her on their group project. The class is on how information is gathered by people. It's pretty interesting stuff to consider, from my database and archiving background. We don't tend to think about how we come by the knowledge that we gain and share. A lot of people in this area use the internet, of course, but there are many other methods - from interacting with other people to reading books, magazines, to hearing broadcasts, and on and on. All of which meshes well with my hobbies of thinking about artificial intelligence, memory, and our innate ability/desire to make associations between things in the world.

In any case, the group met here on Saturday to record audio for their Powerpoint lecture and to work on the slides. They have to present their work to their classmates. Under normal circumstances, they would offer presentations in front of the class, but under the distance program, they are forced to use tools for presenting their research on the web for download by their classmates and the instructor. Talk about your information sharing scenario! Now, they've had practice watching their instructors' attempts over the past year at using the same tools. I'm interested in seeing how they have applied that knowledge and experience to refining their own presentation, assuming that they have. (The hall of mirrors grows: taking an information course on how information is gathered and presenting a lecture on research into how information is gathered in the "new educational medium" of the internet and trying to avoid the mistakes made by instructors who have previously used these tools to present information in information gathering). It will also be interesting to see how the other groups manage the same issues. Shawn's group is one of the first ones up.

Before the arrival of the group members, I cleaned up the office. It's a project Shawn has been trying to get me to do since around this time last year when I got 2 file cabinets from the UW surplus store (2 medical file cabinets built to survive most disasters for $10 a piece). I sorted through several boxes of papers and filed them away dutifully. A lot of stuff was tossed out, so I'll be disposing of that in the recycling bin over the next couple of weeks. The plus side is that the job is done and the room is ready for our Thanksgiving weekend guests.

Shawn had to pick up Carl at a bus stop in Woodinville. While she was away, I wrapped up cleaning the house. Two members of the group arrived. Shawn came home about 5 minutes later with some croissants and a veggie tray in hand. That was much appreciated by me since I had not eaten breakfast. Having gotten caught up in cleaning, breakfast had slipped my mind completely. Shortly, the group set down to working on their project. While they were upstairs, I decided to make some bread. Last weekend I made 2 loaves of bread using mostly whole wheat, but adding some unbleached white and some rye flours as well. I used honey as the sweetener. The reason for the mix of flours was primarily that I didn't have enough whole wheat flour.

This week, I used only whole wheat flour plus I used molasses as the sweetener. The flavor was nuttier. The texture was lighter. I'm happier with the results. My goal is to make 2 loaves per week until I can do this without looking at the recipe. It takes about 4 hours to make the bread from start to finish, but it is well worth the time. Besides, there are a lot of things one can do while the bread is rising.

The meeting went on well past dinner time. The group came downstairs periodically to stretch their legs and munch on the veggies. The bread baking was probably a nasty tease, though I offered some to people and no one took the opportunity. I did get comments on how the loaves looked. For dinner, I had some smoked tomato sauce to use up, so I added some capers to it and tossed it and some cheese onto gnocchi. Salad and, of course, bread accompanied the dinner.

It was around 8:30 when the meeting broke up and everyone raced out the door. Shawn had to get Carl to the bus stop. The other 2 group members had to get back home in Bellingham. While Shawn was out, I fell asleep on the sofa. When she came in the door she was loud. It turns out that she was rushing on adrenalin from the excitement of the working on the project. I told her what to find for dinner, then I went to bed. She followed me up and kissed me goodnight, then went to the bathroom to wash up for the evening. When she left the bedroom, she slammed the door. She proceeded to make a lot of noise downstairs. Uh, oh, I thought, what did I do wrong? As it turned out, I did nothing wrong. Shawn was just rushing from the adrenalin. But, because of the racket and my guilt monitor, I found myself awake, drinking water, and listening to Shawn describe the day. I got back to bed about an hour later.

Sunday, I was groggy. I woke early and, due to the time change, it was earlier than I expected. Eventually I got my act together and did the dishes from the night before as well as made breakfast. Rather than our canned ginger peaches, I got a jar of our canned cinnamon-basil nectarines from the pantry. This was an experiment this year and I was anxious to see how they turned out and whether Shawn would like them. They were quite good and Shawn suggested that I use the same recipe for some of the peaches next year.

After breakfast, I was knackered. Shawn needed to work on stitching the wave files together for the presentation, then synching them with the Powerpoint slides. I went upstairs, read, took a nap, and read some more. I finished Orhan Pamuk's The New Life. It's a great read - one of those pieces of literature that ties together much of the book in the last 70 pages. I liked My Name Is Red better, but this was still heads and tails above most writers. Hi latest book, Snow, is next on my list, then I'll probably go back and read a couple of his earlier books. One thing that I really enjoy about his work are the layers of detail that he adds to the novels. They work on many different levels and leave me thinking about the work for weeks. I might even have to go back and re-read The New Life one day, which is a true statement, but is also somewhat of a joke, given the story line.

We didn't hand out candy this year to trick or treaters. Unfortunately, with Shawn's project due on Tuesday, I didn't feel it was right to have kids ringing the doorbell while she was trying to concentrate. As it was, this was the right decision for another reason. Her group is a bit short on the time limit, so Shawn re-recorded her bit again and slowed it down a little. Of course, some kids still rang our bell. I suspect this is because we handed out so much candy last year. Still, did they not notice that our porch light was off? In fact, my whole section of the hood had it's lights off - about 5 houses. Damn shame. Hopefully next year will be different.

Instead, I made a stir fry and listened to some music: Tuatara's Cinematique and Alison Moyet's Voice. The latter is really growing on me. Moyet's voice has been a favorite of mine since I heard the first Yazoo releases. The new album of cover tunes ranges from the work of Elvis Costello to Gershwin to Jaques Brel. The arrangments, by Anne Dudley (a Grammy winner in her own right and a former member of the Art of Noise) are restrained and beautful, framing Moyet's vocals perfectly for each tune. The Tuatara album is a favorite of mine for the last couple of years. It features the work of several prominent Seattle musicians. This album is like an imagined film soundtrack. It mixes elements of jazz and exotika in an other worldly album that stands up quite well on it's own without a film.

The evening ended with my annual viewing of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on DVD. I also watched the election Charlie Brown episode on the same disc. I meant to watch something else in the Halloween realm like "Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas", "Army of Darkness", "Hellraiser", or even "Harold and Maude", but I was too tired by the time 9:30 came around.

Oh, I did catch the first story on 60 Minutes last night about our troops in Iraq not being fully equipped. It's not just body armor or armor for their vehicles, folks. They also are getting walkie talkies, computers, and more on their own and using them as needed in the field. John McCain called it disgraceful during his interview and blamed it in part on pork barrel spending (yep, some of it by those high minded, security conscientious Republicans as well as the Democrats). Apparently the Pentagon wasn't prepared for an insurgency, despite the Bush Administration's claims that this was what they wanted - to fight terrorists in their own backyard rather than in America.

1 comment:

Kris said...

Hey B.D., could you throw your bread recipe my way? I've been looking for a nice simple wheat bread to try out my newest kitchen accessory on - my Kitchenaid stand mixer in Colbalt Blue! Whoo!

Now where did I put those loaf pans...