Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Incredible Edibles

Here are some photos I snapped at Alaska Feed's Giant Vegetable Contest. I'm not sure why, but giant vegetables make me laugh.

Giant turnips:

Giant fractal broccoli:

Giant kohlrabi:


Giant rhubarb:

Giant squash:

169-pound pumpkin:

Giant cabbage (of course!):

Giant sunflower:

78-inch -long squash:

My all-local salad:

A snapshot of my commute this morning:

(Don't mind the giant mosquito I squished on the windshield. I leave them there to serve as a Warning to Others.)

It's a bad day for traffic since I'm behind another car. :) What a beautiful time of year this is! The trees are just starting to turn golden, and patches of fog hang in discrete pockets among the low hills.

Monday, August 30, 2010

On finding your like-minded peers

My heating oil tank is a cylinder, and it lies on its side, so finding out the volume of oil I have left is not straight-forward. But a specially labeled stick (specific to your oil tank size and dimensions) is about $20, so was my Chinese arse going to pay for that? Nope. I've taken six years of advanced math. I could do this.

Turns out that while the calculation is conceptually trivial, it does require skills from the first full year of calculus. It has a trigonometric substitution under an integral, and the end result is not pretty. It has about half a dozen terms, and an arcsin. Here is a photo of the meat of it:

Because it's not straightforward enough to do on the fly, I made a spreadsheet in 2-inch increments and will post it on my wall for when I dip the tank. Here is a screenshot:

Also, because I really am hopelessly nerdy, I wrote a matlab script. Oh dear. I really, truly am hopeless. Email me if you'd like to have it! I love it. It's such a beautiful example of the practical applications of higher math. People tend to think that higher math is only for theoretical constructs or at least only for people in the field, such as scientists and engineers. But here is an application of calculus that is completely, unarguably practical.

The best part of this nerdy story is that I confessed to a friend what I had done, and he told me he'd done the exact same thing! And we then compared our respective matlab scripts! HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fall is touching down

Nights are getting dark, stars are coming out, rain alternates with golden sun and sapphire sky. I feel like the colors of the landscape are more vivid in the Fall. Something about the angle of the sun and how the periodic rain showers keep everything from getting dusty. The same visual phenomenon occurs in the Bay Area, as well, only there it's a few months later.

It was foggy Saturday morning when we went for a walk along one of the many Ester Dome trails:

On the way home, I stopped by Ann's Greenhouses to buy some Winter squash for storage, and to photograph her giant pumpkin. Sadly, she told me that this year, it had died. :( Here is a snapshot I took of one of her prior year's. But she had artichokes! Artichokes in Fairbanks! Whoda thunk?

Another rainbow. This time of year is truly magical. For the rest of my life, I'll probably always associate rainbows with fractal broccoli.

Cranberries are ripe. I've been told that they are sweeter after the first frost. That makes sense to me, like how frozen grapes can yield sweet dessert wines. But I always add so much sugar to cranberries that I can't tell the difference. Cranberries are always tart; I can't see how waiting a few weeks will make a difference!

Picking cranberries is not as pleasant a task as picking blueberries. For one thing, they are ready later in the year, when the weather is not as pleasant to be out and about. Secondly, my friends and I all have our own cranberries growing in abundance in our own yards, so we tend to pick our own instead of gathering together and picking together while swapping stories and having picnics. And thirdly, while blueberries grow on bushes on dry, sunny slopes, cranberries grow in Nasty-wasty bogs. (That's a scientific term: N. wasty.) So I'm down at the bottom of my property (my cabin sits on the one sunny knoll), in rubber boots and talking and singing to the dogs because the woods are tall and spooky down there (black spruces hung with mistletoe and other creepy mosses), and I don't want to take any meese by surprise. The upside is that it's quick work. Cranberries are sturdy, and you can rip them off by the handful and throw them into your bucket. After just 45 minutes of picking, and after belting out several moving renditions of various Tahitian fishing songs I learned as a child, I had a quart and half of berries.

Unlike blueberries, they all need to be rinsed and allowed to dry before freezing. They grow so low to the ground that they have lots of twigs and leaves (and possibly cobwebs and traces of moose pee) in them.

From our morning walk today:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Things I Learned from my Road Service Area Meeting

1) It's easier to get potholes fixed if you call them "reworks" instead of "repairs".

2) Not everyone wants potholes fixed since they reduce people's driving speed.

3) Having exactly two participants have the following dialogue:

"I present a motion to blahblah."

I second the motion.

"All in favor?"

Both in unison: "Aye" Aye

is sufficient to have something decided.

My polar bear club certificate arrived yesterday, so I had my colleague down the hall take a photo for y'all:

Oh, oh, also...
My Alma Mater was ranked the second best university in the world, right behind Harvard, by the Center for World-Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, an organization of which I'd never heard. Their criteria are on their "about" page on their website:

ARWU uses six objective indicators to rank world universities, including the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific, number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index - Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index, and per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution. More than 1000 universities are actually ranked by ARWU every year and the best 500 are published on the web.

I like that it's weighted toward science. :) But these criteria are clearly based on research productivity and success, and not on teaching ability or quality of education. To be ranked "nth best university in the world" is not terribly specific. They should have said "nth best university for research in the world".

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Local Honey

Our local honey is delicious.

And that is all I have to say today.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The weekly challenge

Rosie Creek Farm is starting to intimidate me with their plethora of beautiful veggies. The CSA is supposed to be enough for four people, but I figured I eat way more veggies than most, not to mention that I just eat more, in general, than most, so it ought to be enough for two of me. And then approximately once a week I'll have friends over or go to a friend's house and bring something, and there are more than one of said friends, so I figured the vegetable quantity would all work out. But lately, I've been losing. AHH! Eat more! Eat more!

Inspired by BT's salad post, I decided to post this photo from a while ago that I had originally rejected due to poor image quality:

A good use of a veggie bounty! Lettuce, roasted beets, homemade mozz, homemade pesto, grilled zucchinis, etc, etc--use it all up! Throw it all in there! The nasturtium caught Mike's eye, and he said, "Wow! A garnish!" I (who as a rule eschew all forms of pretension) was quite embarrassed and felt the need to point out that the nasturtium was IN the salad mix when it was GIVEN to me, and furthermore, that it was EDIBLE, dangit, so it was NOT a frou-frou GARNISH! :D

Here is my haul for this week:

That is, like, a lot of stuff. My favorite is the fractal broccoli:

How long is the coast of Britain?

I got another bunch of these lovely, fragrant herbs:

What, precisely, are they, and what should I do with them? The only thing I can positively identify is the rosemary.

So last night I got busy. I will not let the CSA beat me this week! Especially after throwing in the towel last week and distributing (uncooked) vegetables to friends. (My completely nonsensical rule in the game is, having friends over for dinner or bringing a dish to a friend's house is okay, but giving away raw vegetables means I lose!) First, I cut up the fractal broccoli, sauteed it with garlic, and ate it ALL! Muwahahahahaha!!!

Then I grated up the last item from last week's pickup--a zucchini--and made bread:

Then, being Chinese and unwilling to waste oven heat on Just One Item, I baked up the spaghetti squash at the same time, then scraped out its flesh, mixed it with a sliced roasted onion from last week, some random herbs from the bunch about whose identities I haven't the faintest clue, salt, and pepper, then covered it with grated cheese and bread crumbs for a squash casserole:

So when I get home tonight, all I need to do is put that guy in the oven.

At the same time, I also roasted the beets, then peeled and sliced them for salad later this week:

Now the only item left in that pile that's something of a challenge is that mondo-celery. A friend is having a cookout this Friday. I think I'm going to bring... something celery-related! Any ideas? Anyone? Celery salad? Celery soup? I've never used large quantities of celery in anything; just in tuna salad and as a vehicle for peanut butter.

Edited to add: The sun is waking up!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We like tha MOON!

We like tha MOOOOOOON!

Warm cuddly fuzzies:

Miss Millie B. Doofus, Superagent of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and Supreme Ruler of the People's Independent Republic of Bunnistan:

The beginnings of a great sammich:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Welcoming the nip of cooler weather

White bean soup with bacon and bitter greens:

Beans, beans, the musical fruit!
The more you eat, the more you toot!
The more you toot, the better you feel!
So eat beans at every meal!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


First of all... WATERMELON SHARK!

That was awesome!

This is Chewie, my Fourth Most Favorite Dog in the World:

The moon as I was driving home last night from my friends' house.

You know what else I saw this week that I hadn't seen in a long time? A star! Or maybe it was Venus. My already tenuous sense of direction is even worse 'round here near the North Pole.

I have tomatoes that actually ripened! (They are orange.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Green beans sauteed with BACON!! I had two dinners last night because I had to... do something in the yard of which my mother disapproves because it's UnBecoming for a Delicate Flower such as myself. So you can think that I spent my evening pressing flowers and making pies, but at the end, I got bacon!

Mudder: Look! I'm in a dress here (just please ignore the bear) and have (decorative, non-hippie) flowers in my hair! And here I am in a pink shirt!

Other Readers: While the above may be silly, it does originate from a mother's love. Also, I have bacon.

Breakfast this morning, in a sunbeam:

A walk along the Chena today:

Okay I took this just now for all you panicking well-wishers who did not see the humor of yesterday's post. Keep in mind, this horrible gash occurred two days ago now, so extrapolate yourself to figure out the healing rate:


Yes, I do heal very quickly. Thank you, good nutrition and genetic lottery. :)