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I've had passion fruit sorbet, and other things passion-fruit flavored, before. But until this evening I'd never actually had a passion fruit.

Thus, when I saw that Milk Pail Market had some in the exotic fruit section, I bought a couple. They're round smooth drab dark-purple-gray fruits, a bit smaller than a tennis ball, and these had a few small dents in them that looked sort of like dry spots or something. They seemed firm, about the texture of an apple, although not quite as dense.

When I was about to eat one this evening, I thought about doing a quick net-search to see what they were like and how one was supposed to eat them, but then I thought that would spoil the surprise. I'm glad I did.

If you haven't seen what a passion fruit is like before, and you like tasty surprises, go find a passion fruit and eat it before reading this! It's well worth it. )

It tasted amazing, like the passion-fruit flavor I was expecting but incredibly intense and delicious. Yum!
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There are a couple of young men (from a local plumbing company) in my front yard digging a ditch -- or approximately so; it might be more accurately described as an enlongated hole to access a sewer pipe that needs replacing.

They've been at it for a couple of hours, and have made vastly more progress than I was able to make in quite a few hours of manual digging. Part of this is that they've got a small electric jackhammer, but it's clear that a fair bit of this is simply that they're better at it than I was.

Which just goes to show that "unskilled labor" involves skills too.
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For those of you who haven't heard of it, David Steffen has been doing an annual collection of short stories, novelettes, and novellas called The Long List Anthology, collecting stories from the Hugo "Long List" -- the stories that were nominated for the Hugo but didn't get quite enough nominations to make it into the small list that goes on the voting ballot.

There are lots of good SF stories being written these days, printed in a wide range of places, and the first two editions of this collection have been full of really good ones.

I mention this now because the Kickstarter for the third edition has just opened. You can get e-books of the first two editions there as well as ebook and print copies of the third edition.
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[personal profile] mrissa, the 4H shows and all that made me think of you, and of this story. ("Blue Ribbon," reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine. The rest of you should go read it, if you haven't already.)

But the thing I particularly have to share is that, tomorrow, on the Livestock Lawn between races by the All-Alaskan Racing Pigs, they are having a "kids pedal-tractor pull".

This sounds kind of amazing.
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[personal profile] tiger_spot showed me a short clip of a man laughing maniacally and shooting his own socks off by shooting a bazooka into the air with the projectile tied to a string tied to the ends of his socks, with the caption saying something about how chaotic neutrals often do things not for good or evil ends, but just because they can.

I looked at the picture and said, "Ah, yes. Colin Furze."

[personal profile] tiger_spot said, with some concern, "You know this person?"

I don't actually know him, but I do recognize him from his YouTube channel. And so I had to show her this video, which I think pretty much perfectly captures the essence of being Colin Furze:

And so now I share it with you.
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The bad: The hot water heater (a tankless unit on the side of the garage) had an error code again (per Amazon reviews, this is a thing this model does. A lot.) and I had to go tiptoeing barefoot out into the backyard to reset it when I expected to be starting my shower this morning.

The good: I discovered that the squirrels have not denuded our backyard fig tree of figs this year, and so it has quite a few very ripe ones, and they are oh so good.
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I just looked at the Schlock Mercenary comic for tomorrow, and the sound effect for firing the Very Large Gun that was introduced a storyline or two ago is making my vibrate and clap my hands with utter glee.

It works well as a standalone strip even if you're not familiar with the comic, too, so I'm going to make you click through to see it rather than spoiling it.
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A Dittmer's Wursthaus today, I discovered a thing they call a Hannover wurst.

Hannover wurst appears to be what happens is when you have the question of whether to have sausage or bacon with your breakfast, and you make the obvious-in-retrospect choice of "Both! At the same time!" and make sausage in part out of bacon.

Needless to say, it is delicious.
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This wasn't really planned; it was just a "what have I got in the fridge?" day that happened to come out exceptionally well.

Sweet Potatoes

These were simple. Three small white sweet potatoes, sliced into quarter-inch slices, put into a glass bowl with a chunk of butter on top of the potatoes and a plate on top of the bowl to hold the steam in. Microwaved for 5 minutes, until potatoes are soft, and tossed with the butter. And that's all.

Red Chard

I had a bunch of chard that had been forgotten from the farmshare that shares pickup space with our community-supported-fishing share, which needed to be cooked. Also we had some red onions, so I chopped up a couple of small ones of those and sauteed them while prepping the chard. Then I put in the chard stems, also chopped, and cooked those for a while.

One of the things that I find less than ideal about the chard I've been cooking (especially red chard) is that it has a little bit of bitter flavor that needs something to offset it, and using vinegar seems too sour. So, I tried experimenting with sweet, and put in a tablespoon or so of dried currants. I also put in a third of a cup or so of red wine, and cooked that down.

The other thing that I find often happens with chard, and with other greens that I saute with onions, is that they don't end up mixing very well. This time, I chopped the green parts of the chard a little smaller than usual, and then I tried the same trick I use to make roux-based sauces not go lumpy: I put in a small handful of the greens, mixed them in well, added some more, mixed, and repeated -- so that I wasn't trying to mix it all at once.

Both experiments turned out to work beautifully: The dish was quite evenly mixed, and the sweetness was exactly what it needed.

Ridgeback Shrimp

These were this week's delivery from the fish share, and like the chard, were needing to be cooked very soon. A ridgeback shrimp is notably reddish -- they color the rinse water and dry-towels red, though it's just on the surface, not in the meat -- and also notably sweet. These were also relatively large -- 2 inches or so. And in the shells; most of the prep time for all of dinner was de-shelling the shrimp.

To cook these, I melted some butter in a pan, and put in the shrimp once it was all melted and bubbling. When the shrimp were done, I took them out, put a third of a cup of white wine and juice of half a lime in the pan, and cooked it down to a reduced sauce to spoon over the shrimp. It came out just as tasty as I was hoping it would.
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Resharing from my dear friend Elena Rose (aka "Little Light"), on Facebook (
My loves, life is full of losing, and the price of caring is grief, eventually, always. And all of it is worth it.

I know a lot of us have been feeling this year like the decks are getting cleared of people we admired and looked up to, friends, family, cultural icons, just in such a time of trial when we need inspiration and hope and beauty more than ever.

I have been telling myself this: the world is declaring to us just how much it needs us to be new sources of inspiration and hope and beauty. Nobody is going to do the job for us. Nobody is going to shine so bright that we don't have to learn to shine too. Nobody is going to be excellent for us. It's time for all of us to carry our corner of the sky. It's time for us all to light the lantern. It's time for all of us to find our footing and our grip and the place to put our weight.

When I got ordained in May, one of the strongest feelings I had was the overwhelming certainty that there was no more time for childish things. I found my place in the world of adults and vowed to be the person I was waiting for, with no more excuses. I declared myself grown and declared a direction to keep growing in and people to keep growing toward. I made a commitment to no more backwards, no more hiding, no more being small--to being consequential. It has been challenging, brutal, laced through with a fresh education in grief and endurance beyond any limits I thought I had. It has also been worth every moment, fulfilling and gorgeous and blazing with warmth, and in this cold season I have found myself more than once in tears of gratitude that I am able to help, that I know what I am for and have the chance to fulfill that purpose.

Each of us needs to be someone in the world. I found who that someone was for me and went all in. The world needs you, too, your particular self, awake and alive and in it. It needs what you know, what you make, what you do, what you nurture, what you care about. We would not have come together this way, all our stories, all our particularities and peculiarities, if it wasn't going to matter.

I insist that there will be generations to follow us. They will need heroes to look up to, too. Let's give them everything we've got.

Take heart, friends. Everything ends; nothing is over yet.
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It is a very small thing, but I am feeling very happy with our kitchen things right now.

The stove in our new house has a burner labeled "turbo boil flex", and I had fairly quickly discovered what the "turbo boil" part was. When turned on high, it produces quite a little inferno that does, indeed, boil water quite quickly. Combined with the "turbo pot" that I got a while back -- which is basically the result of a bay-area-tech-company electrical engineer noticing that flat-bottomed pots aren't particularly great for picking up heat from flames, and also noting that the tech industry has a solution for this, and thus quitting his job and starting a little company selling pots with finned heat exchangers on the bottom -- and it boils water quite quickly indeed.

Yesterday, though, I happened to turn the burner down to "low" and discovered what the "flex" part of the name meant. When turned down to low, the outer burner ring turns off, and there's only a flame from a little "button" in the middle of the burner that's barely bigger than a candle flame. It turns out that's exactly enough to keep 4 inches of water in the large turbo pot bubbling gently in the middle, which is exactly what I want for simmering bone broth overnight.

This makes me very happy.
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For want of a nail, the horseshoe was lost.
For want of a horseshoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the wagon was lost.
For want of a wagon, the supplies were lost.
For want of supplies, the outpost was lost.
For want of an outpost, the expedition was lost.

This is usually read as a parable about the importance of horseshoe nails.

This is incorrect. This is a parable about the importance of safety factors at all levels of one's supply chain.
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"Wow, look at those goalposts go! Zoom, zoom!"
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I'd like to write up session summaries of the 13th Age game I've started playing in (and, given that I'm playing a bard, it seems appropriate), but I get home from the games about 11:00, so I'm not sure whether that's likely to ever happen regularly. Anyway, this was the 4th session that I've been to, I think -- and, rather than trying to start at the beginning and catch up, here are some highlights from today's session. Because today we learned that my character is kind of a badass when he wants to be.

Cut tag for gaming neepery )
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One of the things about home construction projects is that there are quite a number of thingummies that one knows the existence of (or, often, doesn't know the existence of, until one discovers them and realizes that they are exactly what one needed), but one doesn't know what they are called.

Sometimes these names are rather ... evocative.

Today I learned that the thingummy that I was looking for is called a "cable gland".
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The benefits of keeping up the volunteer tomato plants that show up in one's garden (or front flowerbed!) from the homemade compost are that many of them are cheerful and hardy and they take very little effort other than staking them up.

This has, however, led to the observation that while standard bulk-handling-resilient grocery-store Roma tomatoes are passably tasty, they don't actually taste much better when homegrown than they do from the store.
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[ profile] siderea posted a question earlier this morning asking how her readers got into "geeky stuff", and my answer had a lot about my father, so given the day I thought I'd repost it here.

I don't really remember a lot from that young, but I know that when I was eight or so, in 1984, my father brought home a tiny "pocket computer" from a yard sale and we had fun programming it, and that seemed entirely normal to me. He was an engineering professor, and so I spent a fair bit of time when I was small visiting him in his office and playing with his box of turbine blades and with the toy tractor that one of the admins had. And then in 1985, when I was nine, he brought home an IBM PC and I started learning to write BASIC programs -- and, a bit later, helped him write programs that would do simple engineering computations and in a couple of cases would create numerical-milling-machine programs to make parts for his experiments.

Also my brother and I had vast amounts of LEGO bricks, and we already had a significant number of them when I was seven or so. That probably also contributed to the habits of making things. Once we got to an age of doing things with the Technic bricks, which would have started around 10 or 11, I was doing things like figuring out how to build a front-wheel-drive mechanism. (With the parts available at the time, it wasn't particularly satisfying and was a bit fragile, but it worked.)

I figure a lot of the influence was from my dad, partly just visibly doing engineer things at home and sharing what he was doing. I remember him, when I was young, sitting at the kitchen table tracing the connections on an 80-channel slip ring with a multimeter and labeling all the wires. When the engineering department had a rubber-band-powered dragster contest, we built an entry together (using, among other things, wheels from my Capsela set -- I remember that we had trouble with the wheels slipping and spinning when it started, so the night before the race he coated them in a bit of maple syrup so they would be sticky). And then, when I was ten, we built a new house -- which he and my mom designed, and I helped by helping building small cardboard models of the interior spaces and the outside and coloring them with my colored pencils. A bit later, when I was fourteen or so, the three of us (him and my brother and me) entered a contest to make a small water turbine that would lift a weight using water from an overhead tank -- he did most of the design, but showed us how to do the calculations for it and we helped in designing it.
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I just sent my insurance agent an email, and got a reply back, and was struck by the difference in writing tone between the two. I think I'm incapable of not lapsing into formal tone when I write that sort of thing. And then when people write back with an informal-friendly tone, I feel awkward about it.

Not sure what to do about that, but I notice it.
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