Gas station without pumps

2021 March 1

Forty-eighth weight progress report and 2020 year-end report

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This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one, part of a long series since I started in January 2015.

I’ve poked into the “overweight” territory for the first time in my life—it is not where I want to be.

There is a clear pattern of New Year’s resolutions over the past few years, but this year there was not a big dip.

My exercise has been very limited, but I don’t know how limited, as my bicycle computer failed—even replacing the battery did not revive it.  I’m going to have to buy a new bike computer, I guess.

I got my lawn mowed today—well, almost.  The lawn mower failed just before I finished.  It’s different from the failures I’ve reported on before (and here and here) in that this time it tripped the circuit breaker every time I tried to restart it.  So I’ll have to take the mower apart to find the short circuit.

2021 February 13

Mixer-bowl bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:51
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On Friday, I made a variant of the mixing-bowl bread of a few weeks ago.

I started the bread on Wednesday, but baked it Friday afternoon.  I did not measure all the ingredients, so the numbers here are approximate:

1½ cup sourdough starter
1 cup bread flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yogurt
2 teaspoons vinegar (with mother of vinegar—vigorously shaken before measuring)

The yogurt and vinegar were added to re-inoculate the starter with their bacteria—the focaccia last week did not seem to have enough old-dough flavor.  Use the dough hook of the mixer to mix the ingredients (they are too liquid to make a dough). Let the sponge rise for several hours, then take out a cup of it to save as the next starter.   The sponge did not seem very active, so I let it rise more overnight.

Thursday morning I added

1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar.

While mixing with the dough hook, gradually add

4 cups whole-wheat flour

The goal is to get a dough that is elastic but still slightly sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a counter floured with whole-wheat flour and knead by hand for a couple of minutes, keeping the dough lightly floured to keep it from sticking.  This used another

¼ cup whole-wheat flour

and resulted in a soft and elastic dough that was not too sticky.  Put it in a mixing bowl (not the one from the mixer) with a little olive oil and turn it to coat the ball of dough with oil.  Let it rise for a day with a damp cloth covering the bowl.

Friday morning, I greased the bowl of hte KitchenAid mixer with

cocoanut oil

and turned the dough into the mixer bowl. The dough deflated a little on being transferred from one bowl to the other. Let it rise in the new bowl for 4 hours. Bake at 400–450°F for about an hour and 20 minutes (until the center of the load is around 195°F). I turned the loaf out of the bowl then to bake another ten minutes on terra cotta tiles, but that may not be necessary.

The loaf is quite tall, with cute dimple in the middle from the corresponding bump in the bottom of the mixer’s bowl.

The bread was very similar to the previous mixing-bowl loaf, but with a slightly better crust.  The crumb was good and the bread had a good whole-wheat, sourdough flavor.  This is probably the tallest loaf of sourdough I’ve ever baked—about 13cm high (5″) at the tallest part.

2021 February 9

First dose!

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My wife and I have both gotten our first doses of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2.

I got the Moderna vaccine last Friday through my employer (UCSC), who have started inoculating staff and faculty who are 65 years old or older (after first inoculating all the health-care workers and first responders).  My shoulder was a little sore for a couple of days, but it was less uncomfortable than the old-folks’ flu shot I got last September.  (Speaking of which, I wonder how they are going to choose strains for next year’s flu shots—flu is so suppressed this year that they don’t have clear dominant strains to predict from.)

My wife, who is younger than me, was thinking it would be weeks before she would be eligible, but she got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine from the county today, because she is teaching an in-person kindergarten class—they had a one-day clinic just for Pre-K and K teachers.  Because she got the Pfizer vaccine, which has a 21-day interval, while I got the Moderna vaccine, which has a 28-day interval, she’ll be getting her second dose before I get mine.

Both of us should be as protected as a vaccine can make us by the end of exam week Winter quarter.  But my Spring course will still be online, as not enough students will have gotten even the first dose by then to make in-person labs reasonable from a public health standpoint.  In any case, I plan to continue social distancing and wearing a mask outside the house for the next 6 months, or until it becomes clear that herd immunity has been achieved (which might take a really long time if we get a lot of crazy anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers).

We are the first in our extended family to get vaccinated, I believe, except for my aunt in England, who has had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine—being over 90 in England was a very high risk category!

 

On another note: last Friday I hosted a virtual bread-and-tea event again, baking the sourdough focaccia again. I made this one with all bread flour and had it rise longer, but it did not come out with quite as much of the “old-dough” flavor, though it rose more impressively than the earlier batches.  I think that my sourdough starter may be growing mainly yeast now, with little of the bacteria that give the sourdough flavor.  I may reinoculate it with some mother of vinegar and some live yogurt the next time I feed it.

2021 January 22

Santa Cruz County Covid stats

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:11
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Santa Cruz County Health have recently improved their web site to report more details about deaths from COVID-19. I looked at the current data (“data entered into CalREDIE as of 1/20/2021, 17:00”) to see what I could learn.

Our county is a bit unusual in how high a percentage of the deaths are in nursing homes (79/120=66%, compared to 33% statewide).  Four outbreaks make up most of these deaths: 20 in Santa Cruz Post Acute, 16 in Watsonville Post Acute, 14 in Pacific Coast Manor, and 7 in Hearts and Hands.  The other nursing homes have 1–3 deaths each.

Like other places, most of our positive tests are in young adults, but most of the deaths are in older adults—the case fatality rate starts going up somewhere in the 60s and really soars in the 80s and 90s:

age range cases deaths case fatality rate
0–19 2391 0 0%
20–29 2666 0 0%
30–39 2160 3 0.14%
40–49 1855 2 0.11%
50–59 1520 1 0.07%
60–69 1031 13 1.26%
70–79 478 22 4.60%
80–89 257 36 14.01%
90+ 163 43 26.38%

If we aggregate the ages below 60, we get 5535 cases for 30–59, 8201 cases for 20–59, or 10,592 cases for 0–59, giving case fatality rates of 0.11%, 0.07%, and 0.06% respectively.   I don’t know how many cases there were in the nursing homes (only the deaths are reported), so I don’t know what the difference in case fatality rate is for old people in nursing homes and old people not in nursing homes. Given the very high fraction of the total deaths for people in nursing homes, I suspect that the case fatality rate in nursing homes is much higher than the overall death rate for those age groups: possibly getting close to 100%.

Although the case rate indicates that more Latinx people are getting infected than their share of the population (55.36% of the cases are Latinx vs. 33.49% of the population),  the death rates match the population statistics (31.67% of the deaths are of Latinx people).  Most of the old people in the county are white, and age is a much stronger predictor of who will die than race is.

According to the state page tracking ICU beds, Santa Cruz County currently has 9 patients in ICU beds, with no ICU beds available.  The number of ICU beds in the county has varied a lot (on July 17 we had 2 ICU beds in use and 37 ICU beds available), probably based more on staffing available than on beds and equipment. We have had two days so far (Nov 4 and Jan 8) with 20 patients in ICU beds.  The number currently hospitalized is 72, down from 84 on Jan 16 and 17 or 86 on Jan 4.  The downward trend in hospitalization seems to be a statewide trend, and I hope it continues.  The vaccine should start helping in about a month, if they can get their act together for delivering it.

2021 January 16

Mixing-bowl bread

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:40
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Yesterday I had a small bread-and-tea event (only 2 people besides me)—the events really don’t work as well on Zoom as on-campus, where the smell of the freshly baked bread fills the hallways. On Zoom, I can’t share the bread I bake.

The bread I made yesterday was not a particularly special recipe, but I tried baking it differently.  Instead of using a loaf pan or shaping the loaf on baking parchment, I just left it in the mixing bowl that it had been rising in, and baked it there.

I started the bread on Thursday, but baked it Friday afternoon.  I did not measure all the ingredients, so the numbers here are approximate:

1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups bread flour
2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar

Use the dough hook of the mixer to mix the ingredients (they are too liquid to make a dough). Let the sponge rise for a couple of hours, then take out a cup of it to save as the next starter.   To the rest add

2 teaspoons salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil

While mixing with the dough hook, gradually add

2½ cups whole-wheat flour

The goal is to get a dough that is elastic but still slightly sticky.  Turn the dough out onto a counter floured with whole-wheat flour and knead by hand for a couple of minutes, keeping the dough lightly floured to keep it from sticking.  This used another

½ cup whole-wheat flour

and resulted in a soft and elastic dough that was not too sticky.  Put it in a mixing bowl with a little olive oil and turn it to coat the ball of dough with oil.  Let it rise overnight with a damp cloth covering the bowl.  After a couple of hours the dough had doubled in size, but shaking the bowl a little deflated it, without needing to punch it down.

In the morning, grease a different stainless-steel mixing bowl with

cocoanut oil (or butter)

and turn the dough into the new bowl. The dough again deflated on being transferred from one bowl to the other. Let it rise in the new bowl for 4 hours. Bake at 375°F for about an hour (until the center of the load is around 195°F). I turned the loaf out of the bowl then to bake another ten minutes on terra cotta tiles, but that may not be necessary.

Here is the baked bread still in the mixing bowl it was baked in.

Turning the bread out onto the tiles was very easy. I could have just cooled the bread at that point, but I decided to bake it a little longer to make the crust a little crisper.

The bread cooling on the rack shows the nice color and shape from the unusual loaf pan.

The bread had a slightly softer crust than some of my sourdoughs (as expected from using a pan), but the crumb was excellent—the somewhat soft dough and gentler handling of the bread before the final rising probably helped.

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