Oh, hey, hi.

Happy Dog in the kitchen 1, originally uploaded by shoshonasnow.

I sort of forgot I had this thing. It’s been over a year since I last posted, and it’s been a very…interesting year, full of changes, some good and some not-so-good. The most obvious change is that I no longer live in Albuquerque. I moved to Denver two weeks ago to finish my dissertation work (I could say moved back, but I haven’t lived in the city since 1998, and it feels like a very different place now), and hopefully accomplish some other things. One of my goals is to begin writing more again, which may work out well for those of you out there (all two of you) still occasionally checking back to see if anything new has happened in this here space. We’ll see, though — I don’t think I am in the space to promise anything these days….

Also, I want a kitchen that’s this color and a Boston Terrier.

New camera.

camera 1

camera 2

camera 3

My dad gave me a new camera for Christmas, a Nikon D60 DSLR. This is something that I’ve been wanting for some time, and I was thrilled to get it as a gift. It’s a bit larger than my usual camera, so I’m not quite sure how to best integrate it into my usual photo-taking habits (which require me to have the camera with me at all times, lest an interesting sign or graffito pass me by). However, here are some of my early experiments with it, starring an old camera I found at a yard sale last year.

Enter your best lamb.

enter your best lamb

I was really busy last week, a state which continues through now, with a projected end of Wednesday at 11 p.m. All of the detritus of the semester has built up and is clogging the drains: grading, emails, getting necessary documents sent in the right formats to the proper place. I fear I am not up to it: yesterday, I spent FOUR HOURS writing a 500-word proposal for a conference, based on work I’ve already done. This should not have taken this long. Today, I am revising a good, well-argued paper I wrote a few years ago, turning it into a half-assed conference paper — my fingers are magic that way. Anyway, in the interest of continually providing content, I offer you the above photo.

This is a flyer that I acquired when I worked at the Denver Post, a decade ago. One of my jobs there was to edit the calendar section that appeared on Fridays, in the “weekend” section — this involved opening a lot of mail and coming up with interesting and new things to say about the indistinguishable parade of craft shows, community theater productions, seminars on wealth creation, and other items of interest going on the Denver metropolitan area each week. The worst, though, were county fairs — they’re all essentially the same. Some might have America performing for the crowds; others dig up the zombie remains of the Oak Ridge Boys to bring in the folks. But, other than that, all county fairs consist of the familiar tropes of mutton bustin’, cattle ropin’, giant vegetables, photography contests, funnel cakes and edible things on sticks. So making each and every county fair on the Front Range sound different! and exciting! took all of my powers of describing things in less than 100 words. But then, I got this flyer in the mail — how could you not be excited about a Lamb Carcass Contest?

Now, with the help of the internet, I know a bit more about such competitions. From the University of Nebraska:

Lamb carcass contests provide youth and their families with information that can enhance breeding programs and the overall educational experience of a 4-H sheep project. Carcass contests help create an awareness of current lamb carcass qualities that are considered desirable by the lamb industry and by consumers. Carcass contests identify those carcasses that excel in the qualities of meat yield and meat quality. Ideally, market animals that excel in live animal characteristics also will excel in carcass characteristics. However, carcass contests seldom account for live animal characteristics such as rate of gain or structural soundness. Thus, animals that excel in carcass contests may or may not be the most desirable animals overall. Selection, breeding, nutrition and management practices can affect both carcass and live animal characteristics. The practices that result in superior live animals and that produce superior carcasses can only be identified when carcass information is available and can be easily interpreted.

Congratulations, dead animal! You have excelled in the areas of meat yield and meat quality!

At the time, though, I had many questions, some of which still persist. If the entry deadline is in July, but the fair isn’t until August, what do they do with the carcasses? Are the lambs entered alive and then magically rendered dead for the competition? What sort of trophy do you get for this — is it one of those really tall ones that cheerleaders win? Why are the clip-art sheep smiling? Don’t they know what’s about to happen? Wouldn’t the Boulder County Fair be more likely to feature contests such as Outstanding Goat Cheese or Best Vegan Pie Crust?

My most persistent question, though, stems from the flyer’s design: who decided to combine Dom Casual and Chicago, two of the ugliest typefaces ever kerned and leaded, into one uglier flyer?

Anyway, I found this flyer in my personal archives not too long ago, and decided to put it on my office door. No one really notices it, unfortunately, or they’re too horrified to say anything.

Posting is still strong at the other site. Its format fits in well with my crow-like tendencies to collect shiny things, as well as my 30-second attention span. It’s a lot easier than real blogging, let me tell you.

A marginalia archipelago.

hallway still life

Most of my actual Internet activity consists of piling up links, pictures, and other flotsam. Some of that makes its way here, in the form of links.

However, most of it is interesting, but not quite worth a post of its own, at least not here. So I’ve set up a new timewaster — my own tumblr site, with photos (not my own photos, though), links, things I want to buy and more. It’s mainly designed so I can keep track of things, but you might enjoy it, as well.

(The above photo is of the strangely empty bulletin board outside my office. I did not make the face with the pushpins.)

Studies in texture.


Last episode’s yogurt bout turned out well. I ended up with six containers of passable plain yogurt — not the best I’ve ever had, but definitely edible. The results were more tangy than the plain yogurt I usually buy, since I didn’t add any sugar to the yogurt mixture (many of the recipes for homemade yogurt suggest that you might want to sweeten it to get results “similar to the yogurt familiar to many Americans”). This was fine, however, the texture of the yogurt I made was the downer here — the results skewed closer to Dannon than the Fage-like thickness I was seeking.

So, for this weekend’s batch, I’m leaving the yogurt in the cooker for a few hours longer — 13 hours instead of the 10 specified in the manual. I checked it before I left the house today (at 11 hours) and it was already less gloopy than the yaourt that came into the world last Monday. This week’s flavor is lemon herb — I made a simple syrup while the milk was cooling (1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 water, zest from one lemon, and a teaspoon of dried herbs de Provence, bring to a boil, cook 10 minutes or so until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally) that I added to the yogurt before putting it into the jars. A quick taste of the emerging yogurt revealed that it had a nice lemon flavor without being sickeningly sweet.

bubbling dough

Continuing on in the hippie/survivalist/DIY food theme, I’m also making bread this weekend, using the now-ubiquitous no-knead bread (albeit with some high-altitude adjustments) that swept through the Internet some years ago. I like bread, but I’ve never been that good at making it. I went through a bread-making stage about five years ago, inspired by a thrift-store purchase of the Tassajara Bread Book. I made some extremely dense loaves of dark-brown bread; bread so dense that it had its own gravitational pull, causing stray crumbs and grains of salt to slowly inch towards it. My dad and I grimly endured slices of that bread, which didn’t seem to work for anything that bread is good for. It sucked up liquid and fat like a Shop-Vac — if I dunked a piece of the bread in a bowl of soup, the result would be a soggy, heavy chunk of dough with a few solid pieces of vegetables left in the bowl. I left part of a loaf out on the deck for the birds once, and there it stayed; eschewed by the local starlings and magpies for the more-tempting crabapples and pieces of Dog Chow to be savored instead. Perhaps I just didn’t do it right — Brown’s book hints strongly that you can only successfully make bread if you have a special spiritual stoneware bowl, made by gentle spirits in Vermont or Marin County, and if you think special gentle thoughts toward your yeast as you work the dough (instead of the I hate you stupid fucking dough I will smack you around if you stick to my fingers again that I tended toward). This bread recipe, however, calls for five minutes of stirring and 20 hours of more-or-less leaving it alone, which I think I can handle.

(I wrote this on Sunday, but didn’t post it until a day later. The bread turned out fine, although it had an underwhelming second rise. I split the dough in two, since I was concerned that my 4-quart pot would be too small to cook all of it (I froze the other half). But the dough that I cooked successfully turned into edible bread. The yogurt was pretty good, too.)

This is one of the best Flickr sets I’ve ever seen — a collection of Polaroids of various bits of vernacular typography. Somewhat related: the new Center for Vernacular Typography, which also has its own Flickr group (although I’m not sure that all of the photos therein fit into the Center’s definition of what “vernacular” means). A confession: I registered the vernaculartypography.com domain for myself earlier this year, but, as you can see, I haven’t done anything with it yet. It happened in a post-comprehensive-exams haze of purposefulness, when I briefly thought, hey, think about all the things you have time to accomplish now!

Hey, look, I bought new shoes. They are extremely comfortable — I taught three classes the first day I wore them, and my feet didn’t hurt afterward, which is the best endorsement I can give a pair of shoes.

This post, in its draft form, originally contained a long, dull section about my dissatisfaction with school and my research right now (multiplied X number of times by my discouragement over The Election), but reading over it depressed even me, so I’ll just say that lately, running something like the coffee bike for a living sounds like a very appealing career choice.

The top photo is of one of the windows in the UNM education building.