Archive for the 'Old Site' Category


The bar here is out numbered 4:1 by coffee shops.

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Boy in the shadows

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Dark Skies

Looking up into a dark sky, 28mm lens

I just love it that the skies out here are dark enough to see the stars. There are enough of them that I find it hard to pick out the constellations, since I’ve lived in light pollution for most of my life.

Looking back at the house, with a keychain flashlight filling in just a bit

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Useless Bay Coffee Company

There’s a new (ish) coffee shop in town, and oh, am I glad they arrived. Their store was under construction for a while as we moved in, waiting for their antique coffee roaster, then waiting for it to get hooked up. It was worth the wait.


I’ve had quite a few lattes and selections of the beans for the morning hit of french press. The lattes have ranged from very good to excellent, but not quite to trancendent yet. (to be fair, I’ve only had the transcendant stuff from the Fremont Coffee Company and the Vivache stand on Broadway, and even there, not all that often.) At it’s best, the espresso is not bitter, over roasted, or over extracted. The milk is foamy and thick, done just right almost all the time. Their steamed milk also passes the toddler test.


The beans are good as well. I know I’ve liked the El Salvador and Mexican beans and there’s a Dark Papua New Guniea that I’d like to try. They are all a little different, and all fresh.

The biggest drawback is their hours — Not open on Sunday, and not late enough for me to pick up beans after work. I know the owner needs his life, but please, it’s interrupting my caffiene fix. k? thx. ;>

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Voting Technology

There was a lightly contested primary election in Washington, with a grand total of one contested race for the Democrats and only a couple for the Republicans. Since I’ve moved since the last election, I was curious to see what the voting technology looks like in my small Island County precinct.

The old system in King County was Diebold scanners for paper ballots. So while I never really trusted the scanners, at least there was a paper ballot that was the official record of my vote.

Island County is a little different. My precinct had paper ballots and a sealed box for submission. Very low tech, but effective and crash proof. Then again, this is a precinct where most of the voters vote absentee, so there was not exactly a line at the polls. In fact, didn’t actually see another voter while I was there.

There was one electronic machine that was designated for people who needed assistance, but in practice anyone who wanted to use it could. It was not a Diebold, but I wasn’t able to see what it was. I did learn that there is a voter verifiable paper trail associated with it. Prior to submitting your vote, the voter verifies that the votes on a paper roll behind a window are correct. When confirmed, the votes are entered on the machine and the paper is scrolled out of view. I’m relatively confident that while the machine may have its faults, there is a permanent record of the votes that are made with the machine.

Here’s one county that’s getting the electronic portion right.

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Well, the MacBook is back. This time it’s had a new heat sink and main logic board, so I’m hoping that whatever was ailing it has been fixed. So far, so good.

Oddly though, it was shipped out on the 15th, for delivery on the 18th (according to fedex). On the 15th, the Apple site reported that repair was completed on the 16th, and return shipment was pending. 1 hour before it was delivered, the link went up with a fedex tracking number.

For those of you keeping score at home, it shipped out on 8/29, for just shy of three full weeks away.

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Langley’s Soup Box Derby

Some of the entries would look right at home in the Fremont parade, while some were apparently designed to go fast enough to win. A couple entries showed that effective brakes were somewhat optional, since there were spectators and hay bales at the end of the course.

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Apple after the rain

Apple after the rain

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Precious Summerly Fluids

Grain alcohol and blackberries, no rainwater required.

Following this rough guide, we started the blackberry liqueur in 4 pint mason jars, then added 4 more the next day once we had the quantities aorted out. Each one was loosely packed with berries. A 750ML bottle of strong spirits was enough to cover 4 berry jars. This should work out to roughly 3/8 vodka and 5/8 berries. This batch is using 105 proof grain spirits, so I’m expecting that the raw proof number should be in the realm of 35 or so. That of course will vary by how much gets lost in the much that will get strained out, evaporated, or otherwise messed with.

Blackberries, high Proof

In a month or so, I should do the straining process, then temper with sugar (simple syrup with a touch of honey) and let it mellow till about new years or so. At some point, I’ll need to bottle this into something that’s a little more airtight than the mason jars, but I’m not sure of that timing. I’ll have to see if I can find some 1/2 or 1/4 sized wine bottles and appropriate corks by then.

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Pretty sure that I’ve documented this before, but Google’s letting me down. Where last weekend was berry centered, this weekend was a having dinner with friends type of thing. This pizza iteration turned out really well. It’s somewhere on the spectrum of what I’ve been making for a while, but it all came together and worked well in the new (to me) oven.

No offense to Chicago types, but my ultimate pizza is a thin crust, with a nice bready rim that could be artisan bread. The center can’t be cracker like, but should be stiff enough that the toppings don’t end up in your lap if there’s an unsupported inch or two. Pagliacci’s is the closest I’ve come on the West coast to that ideal, and they tend to do it a little better than I do. (I’d welcome a recipe should they wish to share.)


4+ hour lead time or so. Makes three squarish crusts that are about 15×11″ (the rough size of parchment paper and the stone). Rule of thumb, 1 pizza is about 90% of the mess that 3 are, and about 1/3 as good.

  • 5 1/2 c Flour total, 1 whole wheat pastry, 1.5 bread, the rest all purpose.
  • 1 meduim potato, cubed, boiled, and mashed with enough water to make a moist cup or so of mashed potato
  • 2 tsp yeast, proofed in 1c warm water + dash sugar
  • Total of just less than 2 c water, including proofing liquid
  • 1/4 cup oil or so, unmeasured

Add flour, potato, and oil in the kitchenaid mixer, while running slowly drizzle in proofed yeast and water till it’s a moist dough that’s making wet sounds. Keep it kneading in the mixer for a few minutes, it tightened up a bit to a nice smooth dough that was a little sticky. Inside of the bowl was clean, all the ingredients were in the ball of dough, which was kneading as well as I’ve seen it knead before.

After 5 minutes or so, pull it out and knead by hand for a few minutes. then pop back in the mixer and mix in 1 tsp salt, then form into a ball and let rise in a covered, greased bowl for a while. Make sure to oil/grease the surface of the dough so it doesn’t dry out. Spary canola oil is good.

Let it rise in a warmish place for an hour or so, then turn it and let it rise again. Divide into three balls, knead a couple times then form into small thick rectangles. Place in three oiled bowls (I used the mixer bowl here as one, so they don’t need to be wide) and oil the surface again.

An hour or so ahead, take one rack out of the oven, other on the second slot from the bottom with a pizza stone. Heat the oven to 475*. This needs to be done ahead of time to make the stone nice and hot. Feel free to make apple pies or whatever in the time before this. The oven is going to be hot for a while.

*This doesn’t need to be precise, but does need to be really hot. I’ve done it anywhere between 450 and 550, but this is where things were on this oven this time. I’ve also done it hot, then lowered the temp 50 degrees on adding the pizza so that the stone was hotter than the rest of the oven. I’m not sure how much it helped, and it’s hard to do reliably when doing more than one pizza.

When ready to make one pizza, have a piece of parchment paper ready and get one dough rectangle onto a floured surface. Gently stretch the dough to shape, making a thin topping area and a thicker crust. Lift and transfer onto the parchment paper. This is far easier if it’s done quickly and smoothly, without letting the dough get the idea that it can foul things up by not behaving. It’s much better if you don’t have to resort to balling it back up and rolling it out.

Parchment is key here. It’s easy to slide onto the peel and off onto the stone, and it keeps the soft dough from sticking to anything. It’s also easy to cleanup and doesn’t get in the way of the heat conduction.

Add toppings, being careful to control the water content. Seed tomatoes, drain artichoke hearts well, that sort of thing. Don’t overload with cheese, for this size pie, 3/4 lb cheese is overdoing it.

Slide onto the stone using a pizza peel, leaving the parchment paper underneath. It will keep the pizza from sticking even if there is a leak in the crust. Cook until the crust is golden and the cheeze is starting to show brown bits. I set the timer for 12 minutes, but I check before that and normally let it run a minute or so longer. There’s a cooking speed balance here between crust and cheese, the hot stone cooks by conduction far faster than you could cook if you had an air gap. This timing will not work if you don’t have a stone, the stone is cooler, or use a pan or pizza grate.

When it’s done, take it out, cut it, and let it cool for a few minutes to avoid scarring your mouth and tongue.


Rule #1, No tomato sauce. It’s just not necessary.
Rule #2, Don’t skimp.
Rule #3, Do what makes you happy, this is what works for me.

Pizza #1

  • Mushrooms, crimini, sliced, in two layers, one under the mozerella, one over.
  • Mozerella
  • Goat Cheese, 4-5 oz. Crumbled over the mozerella
  • Chipotle powder. To taste.

This is my favorite. It needs wall to wall mushrooms, some of them protected from drying by cheese, some dried a bit by the heat. And the smoky heat and goat cheese. mmmm.

Pizza #2

  • 1 Pear, thinly sliced. On the bottom of the stack.
  • Gorgonzola. Crumbled, don’t skimp.
  • Most of 2 Caramelized onions. (one red, one yellow this time)
  • Walnuts
  • Mozerella over everything.

This was everyone else’s favorite. Salty sweet and crunchy.

Pizza #3

  • 2 tomatoes, desedded and diced.
  • Fresh basil, 10 leaves or so, finely chopped.
  • Mozerella
  • Garlic, slowly (1hr+) cooked in olive oil till soft and brown. Whole cloves.

This wasn’t anyone’s favorite, but was still good. Probably better than what you can get at any of the island pizzerias. Perhaps it’s better to lead with this one so that I get more of the one with the mushrooms.

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