Saturday, June 26, 2004

Continuing to move in to the new house. All my stuff is here, it's the unpacking that takes a while. Well, for me, anyway. My wife is happily unpacking stuff everyday, all day.

My yogurt making continues. One thing that I have discovered that no one mentions anywhere on the web is that sealed glass vessels work best for yogurt fermentation. I've got a inexpensive Salton yogurt maker that I got for Father's day. It comes with a plastic fermentation vessel, with an annoying indentation for a spoon that I never use, and whose lid just fits on top, and doesn't seal. I preferred to store the yogurt in containers that actually seal. First, I would decant into such a container. Then, I would skip that part, and just ferment in the container that does seal. I got about equivalent results from reusing a 2 lb. yogurt container as I did with the container that came with the yogurt maker. It was definitely yogurt, but of a liquidy consistency, rather like "drinkable" yogurt. I also used an old glass jar, and sealed the screw-top for fermentation. That yogurt comes out much thicker, about the same consistency as store bought yogurt, and not quite so tart as the yogurt fermented in plastic. Since I've been going through about a quart of yogurt every couple of days, it is an experiment I've repeated a couple of times, with consistent results. The way I figure it, the commercial producers seal the containers after introducing the yogurt culture.

Other odd yogurt experiment: I've got some L. Acidophilus pills, never mind why. Just to try, I crushed one of those, and used that to inoculate some pasteurized milk. Still came out yogurt, albeit with yellow spots from the turmeric used to color the pills. Why did I try this? Well, I had thought about picking up some dry cultures, but I didn't feel like making a special trip to a health-food store. I figured, WTF, let me try one of these.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


I've been rebounding now for a couple of weeks. I find that I still can't keep up for the whole workout video, so I do what I can. My weight has been stable lately, but I have been snacking a bit much, lately. One positive note is that when I went running this morning, I did feel stronger, once I warmed up a bit.

I've also been continuing to make my own yogurt. I'm saving about 3/4 of the cost this way. I'm still experimenting with the various available parameters. I've got a few variables, including how far I cool the milk after repasteurizing, and plastic versus glass.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

On the etiquette of instant messaging at work:

Here's a typical interaction:

Coworker: Hi?

Lorenzo: Yes?

1 minute wait

Coworker: quick question

another two minute wait

and so on. So, I've got the worst of both worlds. I'm supposed to drop everything, and wait while the slow-fingered formulates the question. And it's usually a question that isn't particularly urgent, and could have been handled fine by email.

It's really annoying. So, here's my set of guidelines for instant messaging with coworkers:

  1. Make sure, before you send an instant message, that you actually need such instant response.

  2. In the first message you send, include the topic of the conversation.

  3. Please don't say "quick question" unless you are looking for a yes or no answer, or something as straightforward. I've had "quick questions" suck me into hour long debugging sessions.

It's not that I am not willing to work with people. It's a question of how much respect do you show other people. If you IM me the way as in the example above, for something not at all pressing, you are telling me that my time is of no value to you. It may very well be the case, but telling me so this way is not a way to get me to happily help you. Showing a lack of consideration for my time in the ways I am complaining about will have the following possible effects:

  • I may be inclined to ignore instant messages from such a person.

  • I will have a negative attitude towards anything such a person wants from me, and I might be inclined to throw up all the red tape I am supposed to.

  • I may add that person to the list of people that cannot see if I am on-line.

It's all about respect, people.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Diet and Health

So, last Friday I got it really hammered home the importance of hydration, that is, drinking lots of water. My wife sometimes would get dizzy spells on quickly sitting up or standing up. She has fairly low blood pressure. As it turns out, the main thing for her is just keeping the fluid volume up. With that bit of info, I could have been saved a couple of big scares. I always took it for granted that running a couple of quarts low on fluid, while not ideal, is not really a problem. I tended to take in most of my fluids in the form of caffeinated beverages.

Of my own problems, I have the annoyance known as IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome. I read
this article a couple of months ago, about intentionally ingesting weakened intestinal parasites as way to treat IBS symptoms. Well, that seemed a bit drastic to me. I took a more benign approach. I am eating yogurt with live cultures most days. It has had a very positive effect. Unlike the pig whipworms, though, I find I really do have to eat it every day to maintain the effect. Plain yogurt is a bit sour for me, though, so I sweeten it with a non-nutritive sweetener like stevia, and I'm good. Flavored yogurts are basically a sweet dessert food, looking at the labels.

I'm not a TV watcher (haven't had cable or satellite since about 1994), so it took Slashdot to point me to Alton Brown's website. On his blog, he foreswears high fructose corn syrup and (partially-)hydrogenated vegetable oils. I'm down on that. I have a fondness for what's usually called fruit nectars. I had always assumed they were pretty much fruit juice and pulp. Oh, not so, when I finally looked at the label a few years back. "WTF is high fructose corn syrup? And why is it the second ingredient? Isn't the fruit already sweet enough?" I just had a bad feeling about it then. As to transmogrified vegetable oils, doing a low-carb diet for a while got me back onto natural fats. I was not avoiding them out of any aversion per se, I just found cooking with natural fats tasted better. It's only later that the newsmedia told me how terrible transfatty acids are for me. Heck, I just know short crust tastes a lot better made with lard or butter than with shortening.