On twitter yesterday, I saw a tweet from the Red Panda Network, a conservation group.
Huffquack? What does “huffquack” mean? A bit of poking around the Red Panda network’s site, and it’s how they describe a red panda vocalization. You can hear it in this video (around the 0:29 mark).
It somewhat reminds me of a fishing cat vocalization (around 0:20).
Huffquack! pretty cute. Not only are red pandas among the cutest looking animals out there, they are among the cutest sounding ones!
The first Friday in November is Interational Fountain Pen day. This year, it’s today, November 7. This year will mark my twentieth anniversary as a fountain pen collector and user. I like to think of all my pens as users, whether they are brand new, or over a century old.
Fountain pens offer an elegance to writing, and a bit of ritual. Given modern companies that produce a rainbow of inks and the ability to choose your nib, letters on the page are infinitely customizable. I find the writing to be smoother, and my handwriting simply looks better.
Never try a fountain pen? Might I suggest Pilot Varsity Or, if you want to get the full experience, I would recommend a Lamy Safari. This is a great pen that can take cartridges, or, with a convertor, fill from a bottle. I’m almost certain you will fall in love with fountain pens.
Some great shops:
- My favorite store is Appointments, here in Cincinnati.
- JetPens has a lot of pens at a variety of price points and styles.
- Want something vintage? Go to Pendemonium
My wife has an open invitation to make requests for things for me to make. It might be a general request (“you should make more pasta”), or a specific request (“make cookies like these”). Recently, she made two requests, the first of which was a hybrid. She tried some multi-grain bread from a small bakery at a farmer’s market, and asked for me to try to find a recipe. I dug around, found one and played with it.
The recipe calls for a multi-grain cereal. Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Cereal was recommended, but I couldn’t find it. I found a seven-grain cereal in bulk at a new market in town, which is just as well. When trying a new recipe with special ingredients, I don’t like to invest in too much. In both cases, it looked like “pinhead” oatmeal. You definitely feel it when eating a piece.
It was a pain to make. The dough is very sticky from the get-go, and, after the first rise, an additional half-cup of honey only made it stickier. I never feel like I got it off my fingers until well after I made it. My dough blade was used repeatedly to move it on the counter as I did some of the kneading by hand. I swore I would never make this bread again!
Then we had some.
It is an incredible bread. We definitely liked it, though I was still not sure it was worth the hassle.
Then I had some with peanut butter. I would find myself craving it mid-morning, as I entered that time that was too late for breakfast, but too early for lunch. It became a go-to snack when driving to a cyclocross race.
My wife and I have started calling it “crack bread,” to suggest our addiction. Describing food as “crack” is a phrasing that has been criticized, but it is part of the contemporary vernacular. Embracing the slang, it’s weird how much stuff is like crack. It really has become an addition, making it worth the effort to make.
My wife bought some of the bread that inspired my making this, and called out that it was different. She then did a side-by-side comparison with a bit we had left. Even though my loaf was nearly two weeks old, she declared it the winner.
- ½ cup multi-grain cereal (seven grains or more)
- ½ cup cool water
- ½ cup warm water water
- ½teaspoon yeast
- 1 cup wheat flour
- 1½ cup white flour (plus a little extra)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 medium eggs
- ¼ cup olive or vegetable oil
- ½ cup honey (170g, as I find it easier to use a kitchen scale for this)
- In a small bowl, let the cereal soak in about ½ cup cool water for 30 minutes. In another bowl, dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water and let it sit until it starts to foam (about 10-15 minutes.)
- In a large mixing bowl, put flour, sugar, and salt and mix well. Make a small well in the center of this mixture, and dd the yeast, eggs, oil, and cereal to the well, and stir together. At this point, flour your hands and start to knead the dough inside of the bowl (or use the hook of your stand mixer). The mixture will be very sticky, so add a extra flour as needed, until it is no longer sticky. Continue kneading for 10-20 minutes.
- Put a tablespoon of oil in a bowl and rub it around the entire bowl. Place the dough ball into the bowl, and flip a few times to coat in oil. Cover and let rise about 45 minutes in a warm place, or until doubled in size. I like to use the work bowl of the mixer.
- Once dough has doubled, punch the dough down until most of the air bubbles are out. Pour honey on top. The dough will be extremely sticky. Knead it for about five minutes, until the honey has been incorporated. Shape into round ball again. Cover and let rise until doubled for about 45 minutes.
- Once dough has doubled in size, divide in to two loaves. Form the dough into desired shape. Cover and let rise another 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 while dough is rising. Cook for about 25-35 minutes, or until the crust starts to brown.
| Saturated Fat
| Monounsaturated Fat
| Polyunsaturated Fat
| Dietary Fiber
|The Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
If you have the I Can Has Cheezburger page-a-day calendar may recognize a familiar face. A picture of Eddy made it in! He's quite proud.
The sad time of year when indoor cycling becomes more common. Gotta do it to stay fit.
Beso still loves the Cat Crib!
Why do I love cyclocross? It doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Where’s our gelato?!?
I got my Snow Leopard Trust newsletter last week. There were several photos taken by camera traps of wild snow leopards. I stood in my kitchen staring at these photos. Here are these cats standing on a mountain. There are no bars to protect them, and no keepers to bring them their meal. They hunt on these rocky slopes, fearing nothing. Only one thought went through my head: our world is so very blessed to have these amazing creatures.
I had a similar experience watching a documentary about snow leopards. Researchers saw that a mother snow leopard went to hunt, leaving her two cubs in their den. Wait! I thought. They are so rare and tiny! What if something happens to them? But that’s life in the wild.
Today is International Snow Leopard Day, a day to call attention to the Ghost of the Mountain. We are left with between 4,000 and 6,500 wild snow leopards. This number is shrinking due to habitat loss and conflict with man. There are simple ways to protect these cats. For instance, the Snow Leopard Trust works with the people who share the snow leopard’s habitat. Where the people might do a “revenge killing” after one of their goats is taken by a snow leopard, now they are more likely to shoot pictures with a cell phone. Studies of snow leopard behavior also help reduce this conflict, giving a better idea to the impact they are having.
Snow leopards are my second favorite species of cat, and I hope they are around for future generations to be amazed by.
My wife and daughter do storytime. Since Luna moved in nearly three years ago, she has joined them. Presently, they’re working their way through Harry Potter. She lays there, listens, and occasionally purrs.
She skips some days. Other days, she’ll realize she missed it, and run in and chirp. Once in a while, another chapter is read, just for Luna.
My wife related to me today that Luna enlisted Beso in trying to get out the current book. He’s bigger, and better able to help. I wonder what she would do once they got it out–I’m not sure she can read herself.
Gathering around the watering hole.
I hear the one on the right has a bad motivator.
Explaining to my daughter how line-of-site works, and bouncing signals off the Moon.
Luna is a very patient cat.
Great capture by Rick Jordon at the Ceaser’s Ford CX of me working hard and having fun.
About a month after I started my effort to lose weight, I was contacted on Facebook by Scott, an old friend from the Vox days (whose current personal blog I can’t find). He was acting as mechanic for a team at the Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival. Would I want to come out and say “hi?”
I did, as I also wanted to check out the festival. Cyclocross is an off-road cycling discipline that actually predates mountain biking. The bikes started as modified road bike, and are raced on a relatively short course (2-3 miles), typically grass and gravel–not as rocky and rough as what a mountain bike might take on. The courses twist and turn, and, at various points, there are barriers the riders must dismount and carry their bikes over. Over the last several years, it has become the fastest growing segment of cycling, with the Cincinnati area being one of the hotbeds.
As I watched the racers take this on, I leaned over to my wife. “When I hit my target weight, can I get a cyclocross bike?” She agreed, not knowing the madness that would ensue..
In August, I hit that weight, and got a Fuji Cyclocross 4.0. It was just in time for a series of cyclocross time trials put on by the Cincinnati Cyclocross group, to raise money for a junior development team. After a few sessions getting pointers from other riders, I took to the start line. Ultimately, I did five out of the six in the series (missing one to see the Piano Guys).
Sports Illustrated posted an article called “Grueling Yet Addictive, Cyclocross Pushes Boundaries of Physical Limits,” which is a great overview of the sport. “Grueling yet addictive” is an apt description. After every time trial, I was anxious for my next one. I got a license to race from USA Cycling, cycling’s governing body in the United States, and joined a cycling team, 7 Hills Racing. I’ve worn jerseys from pro teams before, but that was much like wearing a Cincinnati Reds’ jersey–just being a fan. Wearing the kit of my team is special.
As the Sports Illustrated article mentions, it is a very grueling sport. You are pushing at 100% for the entire race, which, for a category 5 (entry level) racer, is typically thirty minutes.
As I mentioned, there are barriers you have to dismount for. This can be short boards to jump over.
Steps, which require shouldering the bike.
Or sand, which better men and women than I can ride through.
It is a race, so, when getting on and off the bike, you don’t exactly “stop,” but jump on and off as you move forward.
In addition to the time trial series (which was more intermural practice), I’ve competed in three mass-start races for USA Cycling points. I’ve been finishing in the middle of the pack. For a middle-aged guy starting in the sport, I regard these results as “credible.” Each race I can tell I’m going a bit faster, executing smarter tactics, and my skills with the barriers are improving.
During my first ride in team kit, I realized that this was a dream come true. I used to want to race bicycles, starting in college. I realized, even then, the Tour de France was out of the question, but for a local club was a reasonable ambition. I was always too heavy or too slow to really be credible. However, between losing the weight and the time on the bike that helped achieve that (and was inspired by that), it became a reality. While the bicycle may have been the material prize, this was my true reward.