And never take the bus again!

Perhaps I merely want to justify my large purchase, but this year I am attempting to keep my bike running throughout the cold Wisconsin winter.  This isn’t all that difficult if you are dressed properly, but snow and ice makes running with slicks a bit perilous.  Luckily, while I was rummaging around in my parents’ basement over thanksgiving, I came across a set of mountain bike tires with sizable knobs.  The great thing about the Surly ‘Long Haul Trucker’ (my bike) is that it has smaller diameter tires (26″) than a typical road bike (the same size as a standard mountain bike) and , as it says on my bike’s chain stay, ‘fatties fit fine’, meaning that you can put tires on it that are far wider than standard road bike tires.  So, those knobs are keeping me quite safe through the winter.  You can’t do that with a Trek!

bike with knobs

Some bread

I have been trying to write a continuation of some of my thoughts I presented about ethics in a previous post.  But, I don’t want to throw anything online until the post doesn’t suck.  However, life goes on and we must eat, so maybe I’ll just share a really good wheat bread recipe that I found.  Yes, everyone is capable of making fresh bread!

The link is here, but I’ll just repeat it below:

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2/3 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons honey
  • 1-2/3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup and 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted
  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons honey. Add 1-2/3 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
  2. Mix in 1 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon and 2-1/4 teaspoons honey, and salt. Stir in 1 cup and 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 1 cup of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
  3. Punch down, and form into loaf. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaf with 2 teaspoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

The ingredient amounts are a little odd because the original recipe calls for 3 loaves, and the version above will give you 1.  Also you can substitute maple syrup for the honey.  Anyway, it was super easy and delicious!

I didn’t roll mine into a log completely so it had a bit of a ridge…..

dinosaur bread

I guess you could call it dinosaur bread…but it tasted great!  I think I’ll make another loaf tomorrow, and I’ll make sure not to deform that one.  This also brings to light the fact that I’ve acquired the use of a digital cameras during Christmas; so, maybe I’ll put more pictures on this blog when I get around to it.

Now go and learn how to make your own food; it is a far better skill than philosophizing!

Fun with R

I have been playing around with R the last few days.  This is an open source mathematics software that comes with Linux systems.  It is a bit esoteric; it is a command prompt program (meaning that there is no graphical user interface) and the syntax is a bit odd, so it is nowhere near intuitive to use.  However, I find the process of figuring out such systems quite satisfying.  I have similar feelings toward psychological research; there is certainly a feeling of empowerment that develops from discovering real patterns in experimental data.  Philosophy is far less concrete; you can run in circles all day without discovering anything.  However, when you find effects from empirical studies, there is no doubt (as long as there were proper controls) that the results reflect some sort of real difference between the conditions.  Though, of course, the proper interpretation of that data can be far less clear.  And it is also quite nice to figure out how to use technology to model empirical data.  Too bad I’m not all that talented at it…

A couple days of geek

I’m trying it again. A couple years ago I experienced that slight naiveté of the intermediate windows user; I thought I could throw aside the windows that seem so confining. I tried to give them up entirely and instead use Linux. Ubuntu seemed to be an opportunity for just such a freedom; it beckoned as only open source can to someone who hates commercialism.

However, it was not meant to be.

I tried to dual boot it with XP on my main desktop, which had the side effect of making boot times longer. There were problems; I tried out the 64bit version of Ubuntu (may as well use those extra bits!) but flash didn’t work in 64bit Firefox (and it still doesn’t!) so I had to get help from a computer savvy friend in order to get flash videos to work. I don’t want to list all the problems, but they were there, and to top it off, OpenOffice 2 wasn’t quite as good as my copy of Office XP. Sometimes freedom is quite frightening, after all. Mistakes were made, and I eventually found myself not logging into Ubuntu as often as I had planned. Finally, when I got a new desktop I only installed XP.

But perhaps things will now be different.

I’ve formatted my laptop’s hard drive (a Dell Inspiron 600m from 2004 that is still going strong) and Ubuntu 8.10 is now its only operating system. So far, I am quite impressed. Installation was a snap, the open source drivers seem to work quite well, and OpenOffice 3 has improved enough so that I don’t even miss that copy of Office XP that now only exists on a CD. Though, I don’t think Ubuntu has changed all that much; mostly I think I’m making a more realistic choice of how I’m going to use it. My laptop is primarily for ‘work’ (words and data) and isn’t my primary computer. I’ll still be able to use all those unsupported (and sort-of supported) devices on my XP desktop; and, of course, the desktop will be able to play video games. I’m also a bit excited about learning more about R, the free statistical software, as SPSS is such a farce.

I’m sure glad all those programmers spent time making me free software!