Gas station without pumps

2022 August 7

Secret Walks: Corpse flower

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:12
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I did not really do a walk in the “secret walks” series this week, but I did go for a stroll in the UCSC Arboretum on Tuesday 2 August 2022, because UCSC’s corpse flower had bloomed and was on display. I went with a friend, who parked at the Hay Barn and we walked up Ranch View Road, past the faculty housing—a road I’ve never walked before.

I rather like this old gate closing off the fire road.

I could not get very close to the corpse flower, as there were a lot of spectators, but it seemed to be a fine specimen. I was not close enough to smell the flower through my mask, but my friend said it had an unpleasant, but not very strong odor.

They had cut away part of the flower in order to either pollinate or access the pollen (I didn’t hear whether this was a male or female corpse flower).

After viewing the corpse flower, we strolled around the arboretum. Not much is in bloom this time of year, but the red-flowering gum was very attractive to the bees.

My friend was fond of the fan aloes, so I took a picture of them. I understand that they are now classified in a different genus: Kumara plicatilis, rather than Aloe plicatilis.

2022 August 4

Fixing my dishwasher

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:16
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I posted in 2016 about installing a Bosch Ascenta 2434 Tall Tub BuiltIn Dishwasher White, model SHE3AR72UC. Earlier this week, the dishwasher failed (with error E25), and the first fix suggested on the Bosch website (checking whether the drain pump cover was loose) did not do anything.  So today I finally got around to the second check—removing the drain pump and checking it.

The drain pump is more or less accessible from the front by removing the kick plate, but I pulled the entire dishwasher out from under the counter so that I could check the drain hose first.  The drain hose proved to be clear, but removing it from the dishwasher to check it left a lot of water on the floor.

I had to watch two videos to figure out how to remove the drain pump, as the clip that holds it in place is well hidden behind the pump, and the first video showed a different model that had a much more visible clip.

Once I removed the drain pump, the problem was obvious—a rubber band had made it past the filters and had wound itself around the impeller shaft.  It took me a few minutes with a pair of needle-nose pliers to get all the rubber band off, but once I did, the impeller turned freely again. I did check the pump with a multimeter before trying to reinstall it—the pump had low impedance between each pair of terminals (there are 3), so the coils were not burned out.

I reinstalled the pump (easier than getting it out) and put the kickplate back on.  I realized as I put the kickplate back on why it had never seemed quite right—it is clearly from a different model of the dishwasher, being about half an inch too wide.  I could only put a screw in on one side (and I had to provide the screw as there were none there).  I don’t know whether the wrong kickplate was a factory error or an error by Best Buy—both seem quite likely.

I checked out drain pump by doing a few minutes of a wash cycle with the dishwasher empty (the drain pump is used near the beginning of the cycle) and cancelling the wash cycle (which sets up a 1-minute drain cycle).  The drain pump seems to work fine now.

The whole fix took me about 40 minutes, and it would have been much faster if I’d known what I was doing (and hadn’t had to look for a second video to find the clip that releases the drain pump).  I’m sure that the local appliance service people would have charged at least $200 for a service call, so I feel pretty good about having fixed it myself.  Maybe I can go another 6.6 years before I have to repair it again.

2022 July 31

Secret Walks: Moore Creek encore

This week was a bit of an odd one in the “secret walks” series.  On Thursday (28 July 2022), I did part of the Moore Creek Reserve walk with a friend, but took very few pictures:

We saw a fairly large lizard on a log, which I managed to get an OK picture of, though the lighting was not ideal.

One difference from the walk I did with my wife is that we walked up the east fork from the Terrace Loop Trail to the swing at the edge of the ravine, then back to the Terrace Loop. We also did not do the Prairie Loop Trail, because my friend was feeling a little tired. There were no cattle on the meadows at this time of year—but the cow patties were not completely dried out yet, so I suspect that they were only moved out in the past month.

We saw a few raptors high up (probably turkey vultures), but they were not photographable (by me anyway). All I got a photo of were these turkeys, who stayed conveniently on the ground (though I could not get very close to them, as they ran away as we approached).

On Friday, my wife and I walked downtown for dinner in Abbott Square (grilled cheese sandwiches from Central Coast Creamery) then over to Broadway Playhouse for the first public performance by WEST Performing Arts in a couple of years.  They were doing Puffs, a very funny play that satirizes Harry Potter.  Since Harry-Potter-based plays are a staple at WEST, this play was a good one to come back with.  The kids were all pretty good (though I had trouble with some of the quieter, higher-pitched voices, even with my hearing aids), and the play is quite funny.  My wife and I kept feeling like we ought to recognize the actors, even though our son’s last performance with WEST was in 2016, and even the youngest actors he performed with are now mostly out of college (some of them working as staff for WEST).  Several of the actors looked familiar, though none of the names in the program rang any bells.

On Sunday, my wife and I walked to the Colligan Theater to see Jewel Theatre’s final performance of Deathtrap, a very funny thriller-comedy.  We almost didn’t get in, though we had bought season tickets, because they had supposedly emailed a request for people to confirm their tickets. I checked when I got home, and I had no record in my email of any such request.  Luckily there had been a cancellation, so we were still able to get in (in seats as good as the ones we had reserved). The play was worth seeing, though it was clear that the set designer had had the most fun of anyone.

So I got in a moderate amount of walking this week, but not one very productive of photographs (it was still a bit weird going to a WEST play without taking a video or hundreds of photos, but I’m getting used to it now). I had taken about a hundred photos on July 16 of our son in a small role in Fortinbras produce by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, so I’m maintaining the tradition. I put a few of the photos I took on a web page for my son.

2022 July 24

Pain de Campange encore

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:40
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I’m trying the pain de campagne recipe again (last time was posted as Pain de Campange), but using “poolish” (the wetter pre-ferment) rather than a “biga”.  I’m also using whole-wheat flour instead of rye for the flavoring (and increasing the amount of non-white flour), increasing the salt, and kneading for much longer.


2½ cups bread flour (319g)
½ teaspoon instant yeast (1.5g)
1½ cup water (340g)

Mix and let rise for about 6 hours (longer than the book suggests, but I wanted more flavor).  Refrigerate overnight.

To the poolish add

1 cup bread flour (130g)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (130g)
1 teaspoon yeast (3g)
2 teaspoon salt (14g) 
⅓ cup water (76g)

Mix for 2–3 minutes with dough hook on low speed. Dough should gather into ball, but be soft and pliable.  Increase mixer speed and knead for 10 minutes. (Lowering the bowl occasionally helps clear the dough off the hook.)

Knead by hand for about 5 minutes, adding bread flour as needed.  

Return to oiled bowl and cover again with plastic.

Let rise for 30 minutes, then stretch and fold to incorporate air.

Let rise for another 30 minutes, then stretch and fold to incorporate air.

Let rise for another 2 hours or until dough doubles in size.

Split dough in half and shape the bread into two boules (without degassing it, if possible) on baking parchment, oil lightly, cover with plastic, and let it rise for another hour until it rises to about 1.5 times as big.

Preheat oven to 500°F with a pan at the bottom of the oven to pour water into to make steam.

When the bread is put in the oven, pour a cup of water into the steam pan.  Repeat the steaming (with smaller quantities of water) every 30 seconds for about 2 minutes, then turn down the oven to 450°F and bake about 25–30 minutes (depending on the shape).  Loaves should be be 200°F–205°F in the center and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

The bread came out looking good with a very crunchy crust, but even with the longer kneading, I’m still not getting the very open texture I was hoping for. The flavor was ok, but not as rich as a bread with more whole-wheat flour or sourdough.


2022 July 17

No secret walk in Santa Cruz this week

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:22
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My wife and I did not do a “secret walk” in Santa Cruz this week, but I did get in a fair amount of walking this week:

  • On Wednesday, my wife and walked down to the downtown Farmer’s Market.
  • On Thursday, a friend and I did the Lighthouse-Whale Museum walk. I did not take any photos on this walk (so see the old post if you want pictures), but we had lunch together at Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe, which was pleasant.
  • On Saturday, my wife and I went up to El Cerrito, to see a play our son was in: Fortinbras, put on by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley.  We took the Capitol Corridor from San Jose to Richmond, then BART back to El Cerrito Plaza, because we were worried about delays on BART between Sanjose and El Cerrito (both from the bus bridge between Union City and South Hayward and BART alerts about other delays further north).  The Capitol Corridor is much more expensive, but we thought it would be a little more likely to run on time this weekend.
    My watch recorded about 23.5k steps on Saturday (so about 10 miles).  A little of that was walking to the bus station in Santa Cruz, but the strenuous part was from El Cerrito Plaza BART to our AirBnB, then from there up through Sunset View Cemetery and up Sunset Drive and Arlington to the Kensington Community Center, where the play took place.  We got a lift to the Kensington Circus Pub with some friends, where our family had dinner, then walked to our son’s house from there (about 3 miles).  Finally, we took a bus back to El Cerrito Plaza BART and walked back to our AirBnB.
  • On Sunday, my wife and I walked over to the Kensington Farmers’ Market for breakfast, then to our son’s house in Richmond.  We took bus/BART/bus bridge/BART/bus/bus/walk home from our son’s house—taking about 4 hours and 40 minutes.  Our walking on Sunday came to about 18k steps (~8 miles).

So, although my wife and I didn’t do a “secret walk in Santa Cruz” this week, we did get in a fair amount of walking—some of it fairly strenuous, as the climb from El Cerrito up to the Kensington Community center has 600′ of climb with an average slope of almost 7%.

The play Fortinbras was very funny and quite well acted—especially for theater that charges nothing for tickets (you can get a reserved seat for $20, but there is no real need—other than to support the under-funded theater group—we both got reserved seats). They’ve got one more weekend to go (July 23 and 24), and I strongly urge any of my blog readers who happen to be in the East Bay next weekend to take a couple of hours (3–5 p.m.) Saturday or Sunday to see the play. You won’t regret it!  (But if you don’t have a car, expect a long walk or use a ride-sharing service—Kensington has no bus service on weekends.)

The play starts with the final scene of Hamlet, in which all the major characters are dead and Fortinbras of Norway comes in to take over.  The characters in the play are almost all characters from Hamlet—either minor characters that weren’t killed or the ghosts of major characters.  The play is funnier if you are familiar with Hamlet, but they provide a brief pantomime summary of Hamlet at the beginning, which is all you really need to follow the farce.

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