Gas station without pumps

2020 December 31

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

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 been putting on weight since my big diet of 2015, with occasional attempts to correct course.

This year has been a particularly bad one, with my weight reaching the highest value ever—touching the “overweight” range. I was doing ok in the first quarter—gradually dropping towards my desired weight, but once the pandemic started and I was staying home snacking instead of bike commuting up the hill to my office, I packed on the pounds at an alarming rate.

It probably did not help that I spent a good chunk of the summer and fall experimenting with bread recipes. A few of the experiments are recorded on this blog, but a lot of the more recent baking has not involved any recipes to post to the blog (making whole-wheat sourdough using minor variants of the bread-machine recipe), and I’ve been too lazy to photograph.

My exercise has been very limited—I averaged only 0.85 miles a day of bicycling in November and December and probably not much more in walking (about 80–87k steps per month—way down from 230k in January). Because bike commuting was my main source of exercise, I remain concerned about how I’m going to get fit again—exercising at home does not seem to happen, even when I promise myself that I’ll do some today.

I did get in some recreational bicycling today—bicycling up Empire Grade to see the dozer line at the top of campus (not really very visible any more, as the grass has sprouted) and even higher up to see the edges of the CZU burn.  I’m out of shape enough that I turned around after only 7 miles and 1150 feet of climbing.  There was not much to see—if I want to see the burned areas, I’ll either have to go further up Empire Grade or choose a different part of the burn to look at—perhaps taking a flatter, but longer, route up Highway 1.

Other milestones for the year: I got all the videos done and the closed captions edited for BME 51B, and I’m almost finished with the videos for BME 51A for Winter (only 10–12 more to go, or about 3 hours worth of videos), though the caption editing has barely started.  The videos are available on YouTube as two playlists: Part A (for BME 51A, 108 videos totalling 24 hours so far) and Part B (for BME 51B, 49 videos totalling almost 12 hours). I did get a new release of the textbook out on December 28th, in time for the new class that starts on Jan 4.  The book is available (as always) from, and anyone who has bought it in the past (even with a free coupon) can get the latest edition free by logging in with their LeanPub account.

I’ve also managed to keep my backyard mowed this summer (it used to always be a jungle of head-high weeds). I’ve almost finished clearing the ivy and blackberries from the area behind the garage—I’ve only got about 25 square feet left to clear—about one more week’s greenwaste can, though the rain may bring back a lot of the blackberries, as I can’t remove the roots from under the concrete. In March, I didn’t think I’d be able to get this far. 

My son and I acted together for the first time, doing a short promo video for Santa Cruz Shakespeare.  I’ll post a link to it when they finish adding the title and donation info at either end.

When compared to my to-do list from September 2019, my accomplishments for 2020 don’t seem so great—a lot of the stuff on that list is still not done.  Oh, well—something to do after I retire in June.

2020 December 11

Caught up on grading

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:41

It has been almost a month since I last posted on the blog.  I’ve been spending a lot of my time grading (and, as my wife says, complaining about grading). I’ve also spent a lot of time on Zoom, helping students in the at-home labs, helping students in office hours, in faculty meetings, in Academic Senate committee meetings, meeting with the chair and the grad director about our curriculum & leave plans for the next two years, … .

I caught up on all my grading yesterday, so I finally will have a weekend off this quarter, with no more grading until the last set of design reports come in on Tuesday!

Of course, I still have a lot of other things to do—like edit video transcripts for my Winter course, make more videos (I still have 16–20 to do for next quarter’s course),  rewrite the syllabus for the course (to reflect the changes that have to happen for the at-home labs), order T-shirts for the 2020 class, edit the book for a release in the next 2 weeks (13 to-do notes), read a senior-thesis proposal, schedule and hold senior-exit interviews, emergency meeting for the Committee on Courses of Instruction, department faculty meeting, … .

I did take an hour off this afternoon to mow my back yard, as I have not had time to do that for a couple of months, and rain is predicted for this weekend.  I did get the back yard mowed, though it started drizzling while I was mowing (and stopped as soon as I finished mowing).  The front yard needs mowing also, but it was in better shape than the back yard, as I mowed it more recently (beginning of November?).

I’m baking bread now for my last bread-and-tea of the quarter.  This one is a half whole-wheat sourdough, made without a recipe.  Here is roughly what I did:

  • Add 2 cups each of bread flour and water to the starter, ferment overnight.
  • Set aside a cup and a half of the sponge (one cup for the fridge, the other half I mailed to my son).
  • Add salt, brown sugar, and olive oil to the sponge (about 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 Tablespoons of the sugar and oil).
  • Stir in whole-wheat flour until the dough is no longer sticky, but still very slack. Knead in the mixing bowl.
  • Oil the bowl and let rise the dough for a day in an oiled bowl.
  • Shape the loaf on baking parchment on a peel.  The dough is slack enough to spread a bit, but not flow too much.  Let rise for about 6 hours.
  • Slash the top and bake at 375°F for about 50 minutes (until center is about 210°F, which may be a bit too high).

This recipe is similar to the successful white sourdough I made last week, which had a similar recipe, but using only bread flour.  Last week’s dough was even slacker and could not be shaped on the baking parchment, but had to be almost poured into buttered bread pans.  I did not photograph last week’s loaves (no time), but they had a good sourdough flavor and a better crumb than I’ve previously managed with sourdough.

The half whole-wheat sourdough loaf came out looking pretty good, if a bit flatter than I like (the slack dough could not support a thicker loaf). It’s about half an hour before bread-and-tea time, when I’ll get to cut the loaf, check the crust and crumb, and taste it.

%d bloggers like this: