Gas station without pumps

2020 September 3

Shakespeare cookies (whole wheat)

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:27
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I last baked Shakespeare cookies 11 months ago (for the Santa Cruz Shakespeare trip to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival), using version 7 of the cookie cutters I designed:

Version 7 of the Shakespeare cookie cutter uses a simple outline for the cutter and a separate stamp for adding the facial features.

I’m going to make some more today using a similar recipe (using whole-wheat pastry flour rather than white pastry flour is the only change, other than shrinking the size of the batch):

½ cup butter
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
¼ cup powdered sugar

Sift the flour and sugar together.  Soften butter slightly in microwave, beat into flour-sugar mixture with a fork, and shape the dough into a smooth ball by hand. I refrigerated the dough for a few hours to reharden the butter, but this turned out to be a mistake—I had to warm the dough with my hands to make it soft enough to roll out.

On a silicone baking sheet, roll out dough to 6mm thick (using cookie sticks to set the thickness).  Cut the cookie outlines and remove dough between cookies.  Stamp the facial features. Put silicone sheet on an aluminum baking sheet. Bake at 300°F for about 60 minutes.

I made 9 cookies with this recipe (plus a little bit left over to make a small rectangular cookie).

Here are the best 3 of the 9 whole-wheat shortbread cookies. They taste a bit like the digestive biscuits we used to be sent from England.

2020 September 2

Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s Richard III

Santa Cruz Shakespeare is ending their season with a free Zoom reading of Richard III (after 9 weeks of doing Henry VI Parts 1, 2, and 3) Wed 2020 September 9, 6:30–9p.m.  They spent a lot getting a Zoom license for 1000 viewers, and they’ve been running around 500 viewers for the Henry VI plays, so they’d like to double that for the more popular Richard III.This is also the only one of the plays that they are doing as a single installment—the others were broken up into three evenings, with scholarly discussion after each third of each play.

To get the Zoom link for the play, register for the free webinar at

I’ve been watching the Henry VI readings, and they have been doing a good job of using the limited capabilities of Zoom to present these rarely performed plays.

Last weekend I saw a rather different use of Zoom (and OBS and Youtube) by SFShakes to do a full live performance of King Lear.  That was technically much more ambitious, with each actor having their own camera and green screen and one person with a lot of monitor space busy compositing them live onto the appropriate backgrounds. Much of their rehearsal time went into blocking and marking positions and sightlines, as the actors could not see each other when performing.  There is a good “behind-the-scenes blog post at behind-the-scenes blog post at, the performances were all in one weekend, so there was no way to get out word of mouth advertising for the performance after seeing it. King Lear continues (I don’t know for how long) as live performances on Sat at 7pm, Sun at 4pm, Mon at 4pm.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare went for a broader sweep (4 tightly coupled history plays), but more modest production (seated actors doing a reading directly on Zoom).  Their rehearsal time seems to have been spent more on understanding the lines and verbal delivery, with minimal props and costuming.

Later this week I’ll be seeing UCSB’s Naked Shakes performance of Immortal Longings (a combination of Julius Ceasar with Antony and Cleopatra). Free tickets from

Last to-do note in book cleared

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:01
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I finally cleared the last of the to-do notes from the draft of Applied Analog Electronics, only a couple of days behind my self-imposed deadline.  I still have to spell-check the whole book again, check for any missing cross-references, and check for overfull boxes.

I’m not going to check that the 211 URLs are all still ok (each one was ok at the time I added it).  I’ll have to rely on readers pointing out newly broken ones to me.  I wasted a couple of hours looking for tools that would to the job for me automatically, but all the ones I tried failed in various ways (outdated Python code that wouldn’t compile, misparsing URLs that worked just fine from clicking on the links on the pdf file, …).  If anyone knows of a cheap (preferably free) URL checker for PDF files that actually works, please let me know!

I expect to release a new version of the book within a week, at which time I’ll probably end my Covid-19 sale price.  People who buy before the new version comes out can get the current price and still get the new version when it is released.  One nice thing about selling through Leanpub is that purchasers get all future editions published through Leanpub as part of the price—the company is trying to encourage authors to publish book drafts through them, rather than waiting until the book is completely polished.

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