Gas station without pumps

2020 May 31

Forty-fourth weight progress report

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:59
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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.

My weight has stabilized a bit lately, but at about 6 pounds more than a year ago. All my losses during Winter quarter have been regained.

I’m back to my “Christmas weight”—what I usually acquire at the height of the holiday season after 6 months of not commuting.

I  averaged only 0.75 miles/day of bicycling in April and May—way below my long-term average of 3.5–4 miles/day.  My walking is also down: my Verily study watch from Project Baseline reports about 2600 steps/day for April and May, well below the 3900/day for March, 6600/day for February, and 7700/day for January.

I said in my last report, 2 months ago, “I’m also going to have to come up with some way to motivate myself to exercise more—not just for this cower-in-place period, but longer term, so that I can continue even after retirement.”  Obviously I have not succeeded in doing that.  I have been doing some gardening once or twice a week (mowing the lawn every 2 weeks and clearing blackberries and ivy from the back patio), but that is clearly not sufficient.

2020 May 29

Misleading by UC’s President

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:46
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It is clear in Janet Napolitano’s latest e-mail to the faculty that she is first and foremost a politician and not an academic leader.  It is a good thing that she is retiring, though I have no faith that the recruitment process for her successor will find anyone better.  In her email, she says:

Changing the standardized testing requirement for undergraduates

Earlier this month, the UC Board of Regents unanimously approved my recommendation that UC suspend the standardized test requirement (ACT/SAT) for all California freshman applicants until fall 2024.

This is the culmination of an intense, two-year, research-based effort to evaluate the value and use of standardized tests in admissions, beginning in 2018 when I asked the Academic Senate to evaluate the issue. I am grateful for the dedicated and diligent efforts of the members of the Standardized Testing Task Force, and all involved in this effort.

What she doesn’t say is that her recommendation was the exact opposite  of what the task force recommended.  She completely ignored the “research-based effort” and went with her gut.  One would almost think she was a Republican.

The task force studied the data carefully and found that the way the SAT was being used for UC admissions resulted in it being a useful predictor of retention and college completion, that it was more predictive for under-represented minorities, and that it helped under-represented minorities gain admission.  Essentially all the arguments against using the SAT turned out not to be supported by the data. (Disclaimer: I’ve only read summaries of the report, not the report itself, so I may have gotten a distorted view of it.)

But Janet Napolitano ignored the task force report and went for a purely political gesture—one that makes the UC admissions process more opaque and more subject to manipulation by admissions officers to admit students based on their prejudices and whims.  If the elimination of the SAT is not rescinded by the next UC president, we are likely to see even more selection for white students than currently, as most of the alternatives to the SAT (like extracurricular activities and essay evaluation) are even more correlated with socio-economic status than the SAT is.

2020 May 28

Whole wheat sourdough

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:20
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I saved a little of the starter from last week’s Rye bread rolls (diluted with white flour and water, with a little raw vinegar added to inoculate with vinegar-forming bacteria).  I let it sit out for a day, then refrigerated it for the rest of the week.  This afternoon I added a ¼ cup all-purpose flour and ¼ cup warm water, to see if the starter was still alive.  It is, and it is bubbling vigorously after only a couple of hours.  That’s not really too surprising, as the rye sour had started with commercial yeast, so I’m not relying on wild yeast.  The starter does smell of sourdough, not just yeast, but it is a much more pleasant smell than the rye sour I used last week (no dairy products added this time).

I’ll make up a dough tonight, and let it rise overnight, then knead it again tomorrow.  The recipe is a cross between my usual bread-machine bread and “Mrs. Smith’s Zesty Whole Wheat Sourdough French Bread” from The Garden Way Bread Book. Their recipe calls for the starter and about half the other ingredients to be mixed a day before and grown overnight, and uses dried yeast the day of baking.  I’ll try making the full dough tonight and letting it all rise overnight.  I’m also omitting their wheat germ.

¾ cup sourdough starter (the amount I had after feeding it this afternoon)
2 cups all-purpose white flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1½ cup water
2 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons salt

Mix everything together in large bowl, kneading with dough hook.  Knead further by hand, to get a smooth dough.  Save about half a cup of the dough, mixed with another half a cup of water, as a sourdough starter for later recipes.

Put the dough back in the mixer bowl, cover with damp towel, and let rise overnight.

Punch down and knead until smooth and elastic.  Let rise second time in greased bowl until doubled.

Punch down and knead until smooth and elastic.  Let rise third time in greased bowl until doubled.

Punch down and divide into two parts. Roll each part into a rectangle, then roll up rectangle into long cylinder, pinching the ends tight to seal.  Place on baking parchment for fourth rise (seam-side down) and brush tops with melted butter.

Preheat oven to 400°F with shallow pan of boiling water on bottom of oven (high humidity in oven makes for crisper crust).

Slash tops in long diagonals.  Brush loaves with cold water and place in oven.

Bake 5 minutes, and brush again with cold water.

Bake another 5 minutes, and brush again with cold water.

Remove pan of water from oven and bake another 15–20 minutes.  The bottoms of the loaves should sound hollow when tapped.

Update 2020 May 30:  The bread was quite tasty, but needed more time in the oven than the recipe called for.  This has been an ongoing pattern—I should get an oven thermometer and see if my oven is cooler than it claims.  The crumb of the sourdough was not the airy crumb of a traditional San Francisco sourdough—the whole-wheat flour makes for a denser loaf.  I probably should have shaped the loaf earlier (combining the third and fourth rising) so that there would have been more bubbles in the final loaf.

The larger loaf was baked 10 minutes longer than the smaller loaf and came out with a slightly better crust. The last 10 minutes were directly on the terra cotta tiles in the oven, without the baking parchment.

This view of the loaves shows how the bread did not fully integrate after being rolled into cylinders, opening up a bit of a spiral internally. This is probably from the oil on the outside of the dough in the penultimate rising.

2020 May 25

Eighth video for electronics book

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:14
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I’ve just published my eighth video for my Applied Analog Electronics book.  This video is for part of §29.2—the definition of the nonlinear impedance used for modeling loudspeakers.

I filmed the video using OBS (Open Broadcaster Software), and this is the unedited first take.

2020 May 21

Seventh video for electronics book

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:55
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I’ve just published my seventh video for my Applied Analog Electronics book.  This video is for §29.1 on how loudspeakers work.

I filmed the video using OBS (Open Broadcaster Software), and this is the unedited first take. I’m hoping I can do more videos in one take, as I’m way behind schedule (not that I had really worked out a schedule) on getting videos done.

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