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Oct. 18th, 2009 05:50 pm
topaz: (grinnybike)
Dear Tim:

 Congratulations on successfully completing the League Cycling Instructor Seminar in Cambridge MA and becoming an Instructor-in-Training.  I hope you are as proud of your accomplishment as the League is to have you as an LCI. Your LCI# is 2667 and your certification date is 10/18/2009.

Ironically, I never even put this on my Project Forty list, and all this time I assumed I had.  Now I feel like I should go back and add it, since that was always the intent anyway.
topaz: (glare)
Just sent off my completed evaluation exam for the LCI seminar the weekend after next.  It wasn't long -- 50 multiple choice, 25 true/false, and 10 short answer -- but cripes, some of them were hard.  At least one question ("what is the most reliable guide for monitoring your level of power output when bicycling on level ground in still air?") appeared to have no prior art anywhere in our class literature -- or, as far as I can tell, on Da Intarwebz.  Moreover, I am convinced that the question about how to change a flat tire has no correct answer, and was planted strictly to guarantee that no one can achieve a perfect score on this test.

Anyway.  Now I have to start practicing parking-lot drills.  They're also going to assign me something to present in class, in order to evaluate my teaching ability.

Public presentation.  Now that's something that reaches down and invokes cold, clammy fear in my lizard brain.  But hey, that's what this is all about, right?  Right?
topaz: (hands)
More first responder training tonight.  We finally got our books!  That will be awesome -- I have been taking copious notes, and when questions come up, Mike has provided good and clear answers, but I'm certain I've been missing some stuff.  Tonight's class was all about vital signs, recognizing different classes of shock, and how to treat different classes of wounds.

But here's the snag: we can't administer an Epi-Pen.

First responders are trained to provide a very specific level of emergency aid.  We can dress wounds, splint fractures, administer CPR, that sort of thing.  We cannot go beyond our scope of training.  That makes sense -- they don't want a bunch of kids who have gotten 30 hours of classroom instruction to go swaggering out in the world thinking they can perform emergency tracheotomies.

Among the things first responders are not allowed to do is administer medication.  Which includes the Epi-Pen.

Now, our neighbors include one young boy with a very severe peanut allergy.  We all got instruction from them on how to use the Epi-Pen, in case he were to go into shock when his parents aren't around.  My spouse has an allergy to bee stings severe enough to keep an Epi-Pen in her purse.

As a regular joe, I would be covered under the Good Samaritan law if I were to administer the Epi-Pen to someone in good faith.  But for trained first responders, the Good Samaritan law only covers you as long as you stay within your scope of training.

My reading of this is that, until I get my first responder certification, I can legally use the Epi-Pen on someone who's going into shock.  After that, doing so could expose me to liability if anything were to go wrong.

It all reminds me of Michael Pollan's discovery of the bizarre legal rabbit-hole around the poppy: that if you wish to grow opium poppies, you can do so provided you do not know what they are -- that once you realize that fact, you can be held liable for drug trafficking.  It's kinda loopy.  But there we are.
topaz: (HTH)
1. Take a photography class.

I'm trying, I'm trying real hard, I really am.

[livejournal.com profile] mzrowan announced that she'd signed up for a photography class this fall.  I was so surprised that the class actually fit into my schedule these two months that before I knew it, I had signed up for it too.  Bonus!

I was even more surprised when she discovered, almost by accident, that we have homework before the class even begins.  Wow.  Okay.  Well, glad she noticed so that we could be prepared!

Then we got email from the instructor yesterday.  He just discovered that he has a scheduling conflict on Thursdays and cannot teach on that day after all.  We should all write to him in the next 24 hours and let him know which days we cannot make class, so he can find one that works for the most people.

Not so cool, but okay.  Mistakes happen, right?  I email him my limitations.

Voicemail this morning.  Apparently he didn't get my email.  Class has been rescheduled for Tuesdays, starting on the 22nd.  I am committed on Tuesday, September 22nd for First Responder training.

Now, I think I could actually safely miss this first responder class -- there's a make-up session scheduled in October, and so far classes have really been kind of information-light anyway.  But I'm already so cranky that I really don't want to bend on principle.

Other warning signs: his mail with directions to the class session say, please don't arrive too early, because the studio is too small for "hanging-out" space, and also that he expects to start the first class precisely on time, so please be punctual.  Dude!  It's a little much to ask people to be punctual but also not to arrive too early!

Here's the topper, for me.  We're supposed to get our books before the first class starts, and (I think) even have completed the first reading assignment.  But the course syllabus doesn't even appear to list the titles of the books we're supposed to have!

I have sent him email that I think is reasonably polite but firm: is there a possibility of a make-up session for the September 22 class?  And can you please clarify which books we are supposed to get and what we should have completed before the first session?

I really don't want to give up on this, and there's a part of me that's hoping that his apparently total logistical flakiness is because he's a really brilliant guy and a fantastic instructor.  But the rest of me keeps asking, "Say WHAT now?"
topaz: (hands)
27. Get CPR certified.

I started First Responder training last week.  "CPR training" has been on my to-do list for a long time anyway.  This is a lot more intensive than that, so of course I jumped at the chance when I learned they had classes in our area.

The instructor is a gregarious and rambly local EMT and firefighter.  He's a nice guy but it remains to be seen how effective the instruction is -- several times the class has gone off on a long digression to cover another hysterical story about a greenstick fracture or meth overdose he covered once.  Which I don't mind hearing about, as long as I feel like it prepares me to take care of a terrified car wreck victim some day, which I'm not sure it will.  But hey, we'll see.

Possibly the most disturbing thing I've learned tonight is that paramedics consider rotten.com a great source of photographs for teaching aids.  (Not entirely surprising, but disturbing nonetheless.  And I'm deliberately not giving you a link there -- if you don't know what it is, then you probably don't want to see it.)


Jul. 1st, 2009 03:13 am
topaz: (camera)


six more (worksafe) )

More at Flickr.
topaz: (froggy)
The Commonwealth Museum exhibit that's supposed to have my work in it, "The Massachusetts Experiment in Democracy", is apparently now open.  Anyone interested in playing hooky with me this week and seeing if I'm really there?

They are unfortunately rather inconveniently located for most of you, at 220 Morrissey Boulevard.  And their hours are M-F 9-5, so this really does mean playing a little hooky.

Either Tuesday or Friday this week would work for me, maybe as a long lunch. Whaddya say?
topaz: (Mosaic)

closing, originally uploaded by qwrrty.

It's official: we're poor again.

We started this process six years ago, when Q was an infant and Morgan was not yet in school. Many of our friends have been at it longer. None of us really thought it would take this long.

We have been tumbling through this long dark tunnel for so long, bouncing against the walls and trying desperately to keep our bearings, I got used to the idea that this wasn't actually going to happen. It became normal to think of cohousing as this lovely, distant fantasy -- something that might happen, someday, in the remote future, but certainly not any time soon.

That became so deeply rooted in my thinking that I didn't quite notice when, suddenly, everything was actually happening. All of a sudden, houses were being completed, we were applying for mortgages, and people were moving in.

It's been a rollercoaster of a transition. You mean that after all this planning and anticipation, we're not just going to be talking about it any more? We're actually going to be living side by side with these nutcases? What the hell am I doing? Have I lost my senses? Can we actually do this?

We will. I have. And we can. We're poor again, but in the most important sense, we are very, very wealthy. Happy tax day, everyone.

topaz: (strawberry)
20. Make aioli from scratch (no cheating with Hellman's).

It works, bitches:

aioli, goddamnit

It did not turn out to be painless.  I followed the recipe in the Silver Palate cookbook, which calls for two egg yolks and 1½ cups of oil.  I dutifully poured the oil into the running food processor in a hair-thin stream.  Right up until the very end it was unbelievably perfect.  After pouring the last of the oil and admiring my emulsified darling as it whipped around the bowl, I turned away for a moment to attend to the asparagus.  When I turned back, it had fallen apart and collapsed into a curdly, soupy slop.

Julia Child insists that a turned mayonnaise can be fixed by whipping an egg yolk and emulsifying the failed stuff back into it.  I did that, but about halfway through I could tell it wasn't going to finish, and in a few seconds there was nothing left.

Then I read that ¾ cup is the maximum amount of oil you can use per egg yolk.  If you have never made a mayonnaise before, Julia confides, it is best to start with ½ cup.  Oh.  Well, then.

So I threw it out and started from scratch with three egg yolks instead of two, and gosh if it didn't, like, work.  Damn.

The most amusing part is that it isn't even that good.  After the first failed batch I got thinking that maybe I put in too much lemon juice, or mustard, or something that just made it a little too hard to hold together.  So the second time I cut way back on all of those ingredients -- which of course are the things that actually make the aioli taste like something.

So what I ended up with is a sauce that tastes like .... 1½ cups of extra-virgin olive oil.  And a little raw garlic.  Yeah.  Even I can't get enthusiastic about that.

But really, I barely even care.  Because now I can make my own aioli.  My new emulsifying technique is UNSTOPPABLE!

As a bonus, I even made pain l'ancienne out of The Bread Baker's Apprentice:


And yes, it tasted as good as it looks. Oh yes. Victory is mine, and it is hot and crusty.
topaz: (garfield minus)
8/100: Butternut squash soup. Came out better than I expected, maybe due to sitting in the fridge overnight.  It's lovely but very delicate, which made it an odd companion at a table full of aggressively macho side dishes.  It will hold up well at the leftovers brunch tomorrow.  Some time I will make it again with [livejournal.com profile] fengshui's advice in mind.

9/100: Roast turkey. The book recommends brining for 4 hours and letting it air-dry for 8 hours.  Due to timing restrictions (didn't get started till midnight Wednesday) I brined it for about 8 hours and let it dry for 4.  Still it came out well.  I overcooked it a bit but it was not completely dry when it arrived at the table.  The roasted vegetables in the pan were, sadly, totally carbonized.  Notes for next time: if the bird is under 14 pounds, don't be afraid to check it early and often.

10/100: Giblet pan gravy.  Very tasty. [livejournal.com profile] keyne pointed out that this recipe is awfully cumbersome and not a huge improvement over making it from pan drippings.  She's right.  On the other hand, due to the aforementioned overcooked bird, we didn't actually have any useful pan drippings, so it's just as well I did this.

Other dishes at our table, not blessed by America's Test Kitchen:

Key lime pie, from the recipe on the key lime juice bottle: perfect.  And dead easy, too.  You can't get any more rock-stupid than this: egg yolks, lime juice, condensed milk, beat well, slosh into pie crust and throw in oven at 350.  Nice.

Pumpkin pie: every year we lose our recipe for lactose-free pumpkin pie and go hunting for another one.  This time I gave up and just substituted 10 oz Lactaid milk with 2 tsp. cornstarch for 12 oz condensed milk.  Texture was good but it wasn't quite as sweet or rich as I'd like.

Creamed spinach: from a randomly chosen recipe found on the net.  Not bad.  I used 2% milk and Greek yogurt in place of whole milk and sour cream.  Whole milk would have rounded it out better.  Maybe even a little half-and-half.

Mashed potatoes: made from potatoes.  Smart.

Dressing: from a bag, but what you gonna do?

Honey-wheat banana rolls: from an old DAK bread machine recipe book.  At the last minute I dumped them into mini-loaf pans instead of forming them into rolls.  I liked the result -- very Outbacky.

We used at least a pound and a half of butter.

[livejournal.com profile] thomasyan and brother brought a very nice bottle of Australian tokay (!) which we had with dessert.  Also some homemade pork dumplings (!!) which we completely forgot about in our madness.  We had homemade pork dumplings in our house and didn't even serve them.  I can't believe it.  They were both lovely dinner guests and extraordinarily tolerant of the circus acts which are our children.

After coffee and tea and pie and wine, we gave in to the kids' pleas and settled in to watch some Pink Panther from Netflix.  As the food coma started to descend, the brothers Yan took their leave of us for the drive back in to the city and we got the boys to bed.  Not bad.
topaz: (strawberry)
I have seriously not been keeping up with Project Forty.  Gotta get back in the game.

#19: Cook at least 100 recipes from The New Best Recipe.  Recent additions include:

6/100: Pancakes.  Nothing special.  They're fine, but no particular improvement on Joy that I can tell.  It was nice to see them explicitly recommend the lemon-and-whole-milk substitute for buttermilk that I've been improvising for the last couple of years.

7/100: Lemon-parmesan brown rice pilaf.  I love brown rice.  My family does not.  So I try to sneak it into our meals at every possible opportunity. [livejournal.com profile] keyne is very polite and patient but consistently avoids it.

This, she told me, was probably the best brown rice dish I'd ever made.  Brown rice cooked slowly in broth in the oven, then tossed with lemon juice, lemon zest, and parmesan.  She went back for seconds.  It was a home run.

8/100: Butternut squash soup.  I made this tonight for T-day tomorrow, so the jury is not entirely in, but I'm not sure I did right by it.  I ended up with a lot more liquid than they said I would (about 4 cups rather than 2½-3) and it didn't blend very smoothly.  I'll try it another time when I have a proper vegetable steamer and see if it works out better.

Tomorrow: brined turkey, at last!
topaz: (tiger!)
I want to take pictures of you.

When's good for you?  Let me know.

one down

Jun. 25th, 2008 04:56 pm
topaz: (Mosaic)
11. Sell our house.
topaz: (snow)
We did not actually have to move a body, but we have so much heavy junk there might as well have been a body in there somewhere. And you people turned out in droves. I was reminded of something I forget every single time we have to move: moving sucks, but if you bring a friend or three in, it can actually be a lot of fun. I had a lot of fun on Saturday, and I am filled with wonder and awe at the amazing people I know.

[livejournal.com profile] zsquirrelboy and [livejournal.com profile] ectophylla joined us not once, not twice, but three days to help us pack and load and move our crud. [livejournal.com profile] dr_agonfly and family came to help both last weekend and this one. [livejournal.com profile] catya  and [livejournal.com profile] shayde lent us their van for three whole weeks to move stuff into storage. All four of them, plus [livejournal.com profile] rintrahroars and [livejournal.com profile] moominmolly and [livejournal.com profile] dilettante and [livejournal.com profile] ghislaine and the whole [livejournal.com profile] pulito family joined us at the last minute for the great furniture shove. And [livejournal.com profile] randysmith squeezed in some time today to help move some of the last of our boxes and our bed (and if you have any idea how much a king-size Tempur-Pedic mattress weighs, you know how meaningful that is).

Above all, [livejournal.com profile] jacflash and [livejournal.com profile] dbang and family have provided so much support and so many hours of help that it is hard for me to express our gratitude in words.  You guys are f'in' brilliant.

It is 11:45 and I just stopped moving a little while ago.  The closing is in fifty hours and we are almost done.  Talk to you soon.


May. 23rd, 2008 11:23 pm
topaz: (Mosaic)
topaz: (Mosaic)
The house window kind, this time.

We have Andersen casement windows.  The window operator has a little plastic housing over it.  On some of these windows, the plastic housing has popped off.  When I have replaced the operator with new hardware, the act of cranking the window shut causes the handle to pull against the plastic housing and pop it out again.

Does anyone know how to fix this problem?  I have already left a comment on one article about fixing casement window cranks, the only one on the Web I can find that mentions this problem at all.

I might not be so desperate if we had not already fixed the cranks (or so I thought) only to find the day before a scheduled home inspection that several of them are still malfunctioning.

April 2012


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