Now, 11 November, 2017

Thinking about
Recruiting, training, and how to propagate a good company culture across locations so you get siblings instead of clones. I would like to see offices that incorporate the best of the local area and the home office culture.

Stimuli and input
Chewed through “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley to get a fiction fix. I stopped listening to Robin Dreeke’s “The Code of Trust” because the superlatives about his code didn’t feel justified and I felt like the book was getting arrogant in its delivery. Finally finished Seneca’s “Letters from a Stoic” in paper, it is on my re-read list.

Craft and unnecessary creating
I am a weaver! Got a 20in Ashford Knitter’s loom with a 7.5 dent heddle and I’m experimenting with different gauges of yarn in the warp and weft. Christmas knitting is completed.

Exercise and health
This year I have gone from not being able to do proper pushups, to doing 20 of them, now I’m working on pushups from my fists with knees on the ground. That feels like progress. I’m also ten pounds lighter than on August 2nd when I started experimenting with a mostly Paleo diet.

Norfolk Rusks

Back in the distant past in Britain, there was the Yorkshire Television company, who had a show called Farmhouse Kitchen. I went to university with two volumes of recipes from that show in books that were copyrighted in 1975. This is an adaptation of one of those recipes to be more Paleo-friendly.

Ingredients

Makes about 13 rounds

  • 10oz almond flour (might need a bit more if dough is very wet)
  • 0.5 tsp salt plus a “good pinch”
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2.5 oz butter
  • a beaten egg

Mix the dry ingredients, then rub in the butter until you have a breadcrumb-like mixture. Add the beaten egg and fork the dough around until it is one lump. Roll out the dough to about 10mm thick and cut into rounds. The dough will be sticky and resist rolling, I put some all-purpose flour on the work surface and that helped.

Put the rounds on parchment paper on a baking tray. Put the baking tray in the freezer for 10 minutes to chill the dough. Set the oven to 400F.

Bake the rounds for 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bottom.

These turn out as pleasant, buttery, slightly crumbly, savoury cookies. You could add herbs (rosemary, or Herbes de Provence) to add flavour. I was craving cookies and these are a gluten-free version.

Eclipse 2017

Using a tree as a pinhole camera, these were taken a bit before the eclipse and fifteen minutes before totality.

Traffic stopped, everyone was out and looking at the sky. Even though the sun was down to a tiny sliver, it was still almost full daylight. Then the light dimmed and it looked like dusk right after sunset. It wasn’t pitch dark but the lights at the gas station across the street suddenly looked a lot brighter.

We got a minute and a half of totality, then a line of sun was visible and we were back to almost full daylight.

Now, 12 August, 2017

Thinking about
Public speaking, I have stuff to say! Co-presented a talk at the company internal conference, ‘Free cookies and usability for all,’ and baked nine dozen cookies for it. I never want to smell cinnamon and brown sugar again. Solo speaker on a lightening talk, ‘Agile for better mental health,’ which is a subject I care a lot about. Both were well received.

Submitted two talks to Dev Up, a local tech conference in October. I’m terrified they will accept one, or both. This is the first time I have submitted talks to a conference. Two years ago I would never have done that.

Stimuli and input
Finished ‘Incognito, the secret lives of the brain,’ by David Eagleman, and I have lost all confidence in memory, vision, and decision-making. It’s a fascinating book, only the second one on Audible I’ve got through. The next book on Audible is Eric Barker’s ‘Barking up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong.’ Liking it a lot so far.

Still working through ‘Letters from a Stoic’ by Seneca, and ‘Difficult Conversations’ by Stone, Patton, and Heen. Both are good, and I’m taking my time.

Craft and unnecessary creating
Christmas knitting. That is all. And some sourdough scones. And a ridiculous amount of cookies for the ‘Free cookies and usability’ talk.

Exercise and health
I think it has been over a year since I have sparred with a non-black-belt at karate. I feel like I am fighting better, I’ve picked up a bunch of new moves and tweaked old ones to nail the technique.

Experimenting with a Paleo diet, with sad results: I’ve lost weight and I really miss cheese, dairy, and bread.

If you want to kill off a sugar craving, bake six batches of the same cinnamon sugar cookies and give them all away at a conference talk. By batch five, you will be craving salt, celery, veggies, and meat. And bacon. All the bacon!

Sourdough Scones

I’ve been tweaking a recipe for sourdough scones, and it feels sufficiently different from the original to put it here. I found this recipe on Sourdough Surprises, who credits Sourdough Diva (no longer online)

Before you can make these, you need to get enough sourdough starter to play with. You can do this first thing in the morning or overnight, but you’ll need to leave this stuff alone for at least 6 hours to do its thing.

Take a half cup of goo from your sourdough stash and put it in a big bowl with three cups of water. Add one cup of all purpose flour, and two cups of whole wheat pastry flour, mix well. You can use all the same kind of flour, I like the mix because the all-purpose seems to get processed faster than the wheat.

Replenish the stash with a half cup of all purpose flour and a half cup of water, stir well, and stick it back in the fridge.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of sourdough starter
  • 1 cup of bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of wheat pastry flour or Paleo flour
  • (Optional) 2tbsp of Trader Joe’s coffee flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Penzey’s Cake Spice
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons of cold butter
  • 1/2 cup of currants
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts
  • Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top

Heat the oven to 400f.

Mix the flours, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda, sugar, and cake spice in a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it in to the mix until you have a breadcrumb texture. Mix in the currants and walnuts.

Add a cup of the sourdough starter and mix well with a fork. Add a second cup of starter, knead the dough in the bowl for a minute so it knows who’s boss. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to 3/4in thick. Cut out rounds (do NOT twist the cutter, that seals the edges) and put them on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Brush the tops with milk (cow or almond, makes no difference) and sprinkle cinnamon sugar over them. Bake at 400f for 20 minutes.

You can substitute a lot of different things into this recipe. I have used dried cherries, diced orange peel, pumpkin seeds, raisins, cranberries, roasted hazelnuts, 1/4 cup of roasted cacao nibs (also from Trader Joe’s), dried blueberries, whatever you like.

Do not under any circumstances use more than 2tbsp of coffee flour, because it will drown out all the other flavours.

Now, 2 July, 2017

Thinking about
Still noodling on distraction and focus, also considering the system one and system two thinking that Arthur Doler laid out in a useful and informative Lunch and Learn at work.

Picked up a copy of Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work,” it seems to tie in well with what I’m thinking about now.

Stimuli and input
Seneca’s “Letters from a Stoic” is the main book I’m reading, adding in “Difficult Conversations” by Stone, Patton, and Heen for the QA book club at work. I made a list of all the books I’ve read because of the Farnam Street blog, there are ten titles so far. I used to live on Farnham Street, so the name gives me a little trouble.

Also need to learn some Angular.js and Protractor.js for testing it.

Craft and unnecessary creating
I’ve been a lifelong English scone baker, but I discovered a recipe for sourdough scones and I thinkĀ it is better than my original one. The scones come out lighter and fluffier, with more structural integrity. Experimenting with adding in coffee flour (made from the fruit of the coffee berry), and unusual flours (sprouted wheat, oat flour, cornmeal).

Exercise and health
My karate instructor has been working me back through the coloured-belt techniques (orange, purple, blue, and green for Tracy’s Karate). It’s surprising how vicious they are!