Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Space Cowboy

I've been meaning to post this for a while. A while ago I made the most awesome peach cobbler from semi-ripe, uninspiring peaches. Imagine how much better it is now, with ripe, in-season peaches. The recipe is adapted from one in the most awesome cooking magazine in the world. Without further ado, here is my version of their recipe.

Peach Cobbler

3 1/2 lb ripe but firm peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced (about 6 1/2 c)
1/3 c granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp corn starch
3-5 teaspoons lemon juice
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon
pinch cloves

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/3 c brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 c Quaker Oats
1/2 - 1 c nuts, or to taste (Cook's Illustrated suggests almonds; I used pecans)

1--Pour 1/3 c granulated sugar over sliced peaches in a bowl and gently toss. Let sit, allowing peaches to macerate, for 30 minutes. Drain peaches in colander over a large bowl. Combine 1/4 c of the drained peach juice, corn starch, lemon juice, and spices. Toss peaches with juice mixture and pour into 8 inch square baking dish (or 9 inch pie pan).

2--While peaches are macerating, combine butter, flour, and sugars in a food processor or mixer. Combine mixture, drizzling vanilla over the top as it is mixing. Add oats and nuts and mix until crumbly, but not sandy. Pour mixture onto baking sheet (lining with parchment will reduce clean-up and ease later transfer) and spread into 1/2 inch chunks. Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm.

3--Slide topping over peaches and spread into even layer (parchment paper makes this process much easier). Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sugar, if desired. Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes, or until topping is well-browned and fruit is bubbling. Cool at least 15 minutes and serve. Would be excellent with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lush 3-1

My phone has this intermittent "not working" quality to it. The Sunday I got back into Indiana, my phone wouldn't make calls out--it wasn't registering as a verizon phone. I called verizon, spent an hour troubleshooting the phone, and by the end still didn't have a phone. Kind of obnoxious, since I hadn't called anyone to tell them I made it in safely. The next day the phone was fixed, supposedly by changing something in their system. Then, a few days later, I couldn't receive calls. The solution this time, after troubleshooting the phone again, was to replace the phone. I had two options--either wait for verizon to send me a new phone by mail, which would take a couple of days; or go to a local verizon dealer and they'd replace the phone. Reasoning that it would be faster for me to simply go to a local verizon dealer, Derrick said I didn't need a phone shipped to me.

Remember that scene in Ghostbusters where Winston says, "Ray, when someone asks if you're a *God*, you say 'YES!'" Yeah, when someone offers to ship you a new phone, you say 'YES!'

First of all, I don't have time right now to run across town to the verizon store. I didn't make time to get over there until yesterday, which is when the phone would have arrived had one been shipped to me. So, no time savings there (yes, potentially there might have been had I made it out to the mall on Saturday, when the problem occurred, but I was kinda busy working up data).

I tried Best Buy first, and the guy who helped me there waffled and hedged, and told me, "Your phone is more than a year old" (it isn't, which I told him) "so we don't carry that phone anymore. Even if we had that phone you'd have to pay for a new one because you haven't had your contract for two years" (this problem is covered under warranty, so I shouldn't have to pay for it) "and I don't know how we'd deal with an exchange--if you'd have to pay for a new phone and then have the exchange credited to your phone bill or something." Or something. So, I left and went to the verizon store in the mall. The guy there was at least familiar with my problem, but they wouldn't do over the counter exchanges, so to exchange with them I'd have to pay $20 for express shipping, and still have to wait two days. I said, thanks, but no thanks.

This morning, intent on getting this cleared up, I called verizon. The woman who "helped" me said that since my phone was currently working, they couldn't do anything for me. AARGH! I thought, it's an intermittent problem. I'm basically assured to have this problem again, potentially at a supremely inconvenient moment. I didn't get a cell phone so I could *occasionally* use it.

So, Derrick called them back. They're shipping me a phone. The guy he talked to said no problem, the record of the intermittent problem was in my file and they'd be happy to ship a new phone to me. You know, the way customer service is supposed to work.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Take it back

I haven't read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet it's becoming quite the distraction precisely because I haven't read it. Instead, I'm reading blog posts and discussions of the book, not bothering to avoid spoilers. So now I know yes, Harry does die, but he comes back from the dead. I really need to go and borrow/buy the book and get it over with--I'd probably spend less time reading the book than I've spent reading about it so far. The thing is, I have this talk thing coming up in, oh, a week and a half, for which I still need to collect my data, and I keep thinking, even as I read, I should probably wait to read this until after my talk, or at least until after I've generated the data I need for my talk.

As if that strategy ever works for me (yes, Jorge Cham, I do live in your comic-verse)

Although occasionally I can use the carrot on a stick approach with myself for motivation, usually I just end up feeling resentful of the task keeping me from the desired reward and do a sucky job on it until I just give in, do the thing I really want to do, feel guilty and/or panic because of the "waste of time in face of impending deadline", and, finally motivated by panic, work really hard and finish less desirable task. Mostly, this strategy works, though I suspect I'll live a shorter life thanks to the resultant stress. This time, I'm not so sure. I have this sinking suspicion I may already be so far under the wire the best I can really hope for at this point is a vaguely acceptable first talk experience. And that only if, by some miracle everything works right the first time. Could the cosmos be so generous?


The janitors have informed me they are polishing the floors outside my lab, forcing me to remain here for at least the next hour. I'm either in for a long night of work, or some intense flicking.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Prego amor

I want a digital camera so badly.

Derrick and I played host to his parents and his grandma Weaver while I was on vacation. Grandma Weaver brought out a digital camera she'd borrowed from one of her daughters and let me, with my itchy little trigger finger, take pictures for her. I took more than 700 photos with that thing. It was awesome. The camera wasn't great (I had a hard time telling when things were in focus, and I never did figure out how to get the white balance right), but it was really quite fun to take basically no-consequence pictures. I wish I'd had one for my Mom's wedding--while she was happy with the pictures I took, I think I would have taken more, and probably ended up with a larger number of truly good photos, if only I'd had a digital.


Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here are a few of my favorites, many with explanation, others solo.

That's Derrick attempting to throw me over the cliff into the Rio Grande River during our drive from Santa Fe to Amargosa.

We took Grandma Weaver on the Alpine loop. She was a little worried about the 4WD road, but this is early enough she's still smiling. Then she saw this:

She wasn't smiling anymore (but I didn't take a picture of that).

Alpine sunflowers at the top of Engineer Pass.

Surprisingly enough, Grandma didn't want to come with the rest of us to Yankee Boy Basin after the alpine loop, even though we bought her a T-shirt to commemorate her survival. It's really too bad, too, because the flowers in Yankee Boy were spectacular. Here's a picture of Derrick's Mom with Columbine:

Shockingly, it's her favorite flower. (or not. Maybe Derrick's love of the flower is hereditary.)

See what I mean about white balance?

Everything from the Aspens on is in Utah. This aspen picture was taken in the La Sal's in Southern Utah.

We didn't take Grandma Weaver (or Derrick's Parent's new Lexus SUV) on this talus slope masquerading as a road:

I'm not sure Derrick would have survived if he'd suggested it.

Utah state flower, the Sego Lily (or Mariposa Lily)

We didn't take them on the Schaffer trail either.

Instead, we went to Mesa Arch, which you should see before it falls.

Derrick hanging out over the abyss to take a picture. His Mom could hardly watch. He really knows how to make them nervous.

Proof that Grandma DID climb on a rock.

Of course, Derrick had to climb to the top, especially since his Mom told him not to.

Then we went to Upheaval Dome.

Derrick's Mom hiding from the sun. Yes, it was that hot. We left shortly after that as all of us were hot, tired, and ready for a good long nap. A couple of days later, when everyone was feeling up to another adventure, we all trekked up to the Albion Basin,

where we saw different columbine (among other beautiful flowers), Derrick told us all about contact metamorphism, and then, to the disbelief of Mom and Grandma (pictured below), took us on yet another dirt road, this one over Guardsman's Pass to Park City,

where the adults in the group were silly enough to leave Derrick and me alone with a camera.