Of Cakes, Muffins, and Scones

There s a mini-conversation going on down in " Scones? Phooey. " By "mini" I mean that there are exactly four (4) comments by two people, Nancy and Roberta . The real nature of scones verses muffins verses cupcakes is being contemplated.

All three are very different even if we use the same ingredients. It all comes down to prep and cooking method.

The bastard scone and its kin are technically biscuits (as, believe it or not, is a pie crust). A biscuit is built by coating flour with solid fat (lard, butter, et al). The end result is something with a texture finer than muffins but coarser than cakes.

Which brings me to muffins: Muffins are under-mixed, under-sweetened cakes. By under-mixing, no air bubbles are built into the structure (leaving only the leavening process to produce haphazard bubbles that are varied in size the hallmark of a muffin); by under-sweetening (less sugar), muffins aren t as tender as cakes.

Cakes: Cakes (and cookies) are made by creaming . In order to make a cake one must " cream butter (or shortening) with sugar." It s this creaming that gives cakes their soft, moist qualities. By creaming we mean to whip the sugar into the butter creating lots and lots of even, fine air pockets. This gives cakes their fine texture.

In the baking world, that leaves us with only breads, meringues and soufflés, and custards left to cover. I guess we could add funnel cakes, but you have to cook those at a carnival and how many of us have carnivals in our kitchens?

28 February, 2006 posted in Miscellany | Comments (1)


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Toad, Todd, Glen

Funny how the days go by invisibly
And faster than I realize the things I think about
Strange to find the calendar my enemy
And scared that when I die so will the things
I think about

Todd Nichols, formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket, sings that song. Above is the lyrics. Todd usually just plays guitar and sings background vocals, but he was given the lead in the song quoted, I Think About.

It s a good song and has been reworked by Todd and his new cronies (some same as the old cronies) and has an mp3 of the reworked song on his website. It s good. Get it while you can. There s that song and a bunch of others here: Lapdog Music . Go get em. Go! I ll wait here.

Jim hums the melody to another Toad song, Walk on the Ocean , while waiting.

Toad the Wet Sprocket is one of the bands I like to listen to. They broke up in 1998 (or so). Rumors are that they may re-unite for a tour this summer.

Glen Phillips was Toad the Wet Sprocket s lead singer. He s still making music. A lot of his music sounds like much of the Toad songs you know, without Todd Nichols guitar bits. Still, the songs are good.

You used to be able to download some Glen solo stuff on his website. But he s reworking it and there s nothing in the music section but a notice saying that music is Coming Soon. But if you want to hear some of his music you can go over to his, ahem, myspace site. He s got four songs for you to wet (whet?)* your whistle on there: Glen Phillips .

*It seems to me that you would wet your whistle but whet your appetite. There is a chance though that you could whet your whistle afterall, whet means to stimulate.

Chances are that I m just mixing metaphors.

26 February, 2006 posted in Miscellany | Comments (3)


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In Lieu of Real Content

All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

23 February, 2006 posted in Jim Shorts | Comments (1)


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Scones? Phooey.

Scones are just muffins bastard stepchild.

Muffins are cakes gone bad.

20 February, 2006 posted in My Philospophy (more or less) | Comments (4)


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Words and Actions, Redux

A little over a week ago I published a bit comparing the Olympic Creed with what actually happens in the Olympics. This is the Olympic Creed:

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

And then we have today s news:

Drugs Found in Olympics Raid Italian prosecutors found more than 100 syringes and 30 packs of drugs, including asthma drugs and antidepressants, in a raid on Austrian Winter Olympics bases, an Italian prosecutor told Austrian television.

They also seized devices for blood testing and blood transfusions in the raid on Saturday on the country s biathlon and cross-country teams, Austrian state television ORF said on its Web site on Monday, quoting Turin prosecutor Raffaele Guariniello.

ORF also quoted another Turin prosecutor, Marcello Maddalena, as saying the raids were coordinated closely with the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Maddalena said officials tried to avoid disturbing the athletes too much.

But a raid is a raid, ORF quoted Maddalena as saying. You cannot announce it in advance, nor can you put on your velvet gloves.

Ain t that dandy?

20 February, 2006 posted in In the News | Comments (1)


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Behind the Curtain

This weekend I wanted to write a bit that I ve tentatively titled One More Way to Skin a Cat or The Edge of Society, but I wound up getting entangled in creating two new sections of this website.

If you look to the sidebar you ll see two new links: Links and such and Email Me .

Email Me is just as it seems. If you want to send me a note, now you can. But even the Email Me form has a story:

Me to Ray :

Umm while you re still titty-deep in JimFormation, how difficult would it be to install your mail form (including the male form pun) on JimFo? If it s a pain in the ass, I can do it (or ask Ronnie to do it, as it were).

Ray to Me:

It s Ronnie s script! I ll do it. Won t take long at all. The Male Form thing is mine all mine, baby.

Ronnie is the Wife-beast s brother. His web home is here .

I stole his Male Form bit anyway. Let him try and get a Cease and Desist .

Now you can send me a note . Try to be the first one!

Links and such is a little bit more than just links.

There is a Links section these are personal websites that I visit frequently that have some meaning to me. I call this section A Loose Affiliation*, as these are some of the places and people that I, overtime, have developed just that: A Loose Affiliation. There are many more websites that I visit, but didn t make this list. Sorry.

The term A Loose Affiliation is lifted from Paul Simon s Boy in the Bubble Song. Lyrics partially reprinted below (without Mr. Simon s permission):

And I believe These are the days of
Staccato signals of constant information
A loose affiliation of millionaires
And billionaires and baby
These are the days of miracle and wonder

Somehow appropriate, I thought.

The and such section is the section that may be of real interest to you. It s my bookmarks section powered by the good folks at ma.gnolia.com . From my links introduction:

As I write this, my plan is to put all my bookmarks here and really give this tool a whirl. You see, I use no less than four computers daily and may realistically use seven. Bookmarks on one computer no longer help me. I m hoping this will, and I don t mind sharing my discoveries and research with you.

So it s my ongoing bookmarks. You can see the things that I find worth saving. Maybe you ll like it, but probably you ll just think, He s an idiot for bookmarking that.

Oh. I ll write One More Way to Skin a Cat later this week. I hope.

20 February, 2006 posted in About Me | Comments (0)


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Don t Bugger It Up

Remember, Jim, don t bugger it up. Just stick to writing.

This is the welcome message on the MovableType main menu of JimFormation. It was put there by Raymond van der Woning to remind me what my role on the web is.

Raymond van der Woning. Does that name mean anything to you? If you re a fan of JimFormation it should. You see, there would be no JimFo without Ray.

The problem is that I easily get frustrated by the ephemeral 1s and 0s that reside on and in the machines, programs, and templates that serve weblogs to browsers. When things don t go quite right for me, I put my hands up and say, It s not worth it. During those times Ray somehow gets the message and enthusiastically says, Give it to me. I ll take care of it. You keep writing.

You keep writing.

Ray has been taking care of the technical complexities of JimFormation for a while now and I have to keep up my end of the bargain. I have to keep writing. He is very much a partner in this website.

Ray has fixed a MovableType install, reinstalled it at least once, and just this week he packed up everything that is JimFormation and placed it on a new server. His and his brother s server (Hi Randy) If your looking for a place to host a website I recommend LiquidWeb .

The code that lays out my website has been tweaked and re-tweaked by Ray. He s made some wholesale design decisions the design and implementation of the comments sections are all Ray.

I could keep kissing his ass, but I ll stop here. Just know that if it wasn t for the kindness of Ray, I d have packed up this shop long ago.

Ray is an able html/css coder with a good design sense, accomplished photographer, and easily read writer

CausticSense is in cold storage.
It will remain so for the forseeable future.

Thanks, Ray.

18 February, 2006 posted in About Me | Comments (4)


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Oh. Lord.

Brother Jeffrey is making sense , as usual

16 February, 2006 posted in Internet Stuff | Comments (2)


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Sayeth the Doctor

Can I put my foot down, Doc?

He put his eyebrows, shoulders, and hands up as if to say, Go ahead. What s the difference?

The bone spur that intruded my ankle is gone. He ground it down and shaved it off a week ago. That is no longer my problem.

When he went into my ankle last week he found that the articular surface of my talus was F.U.B.A.R. (Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition). Some of the cartilage on the talus (ankle bone) had pulled away. He cut that portion out.

Under the cartilage is bone. Well, there s supposed to be bone anyway. What I have is no longer bone. I guess it s some soft gooey stuff. Technically, it s a cyst. Technically, it s ex-bone.

So what do you do about that, Jim?

I dunno. The Doc suggests surgery ASAP. Take out the bad bone and replace it with bone and cartilage from my femur or from a dead guy.

Or I can wait and play Russian roulette (his words) do nothing and see what happens. There s a small chance that everything would go honky-dory with my ankle for the rest of my life.

What s worst case scenario, I asked.

In five years, the articular surface on the ankle breaks down and you come back to me and I have to fuse the ankle.

But I need that ankle.

15 February, 2006 posted in Health and Medicine | Comments (5)


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Canine Mules

Not long ago I told a friend that drug smugglers should smuggle dope in dogs. That way when the drug-sniffing dog sniffed the drug-smuggling dog s ass, the handler would say, Quit sniffing that dog s ass. We have work to do.

We thought I was a genius and said that I should be expecting a delivery of cash shortly.

The Smoking Gun reports:

But today in New York, the DEA released the below photos of the latest Colombian drug mules puppies who were implanted with packets of liquid heroin. According to the DEA, the six cute and furry couriers all pure-bred had the heroin packets surgically placed inside them.

I thought I was a genius and I m expecting a visit from the DEA shortly.

13 February, 2006 posted in In the News | Comments (0)


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Words and Actions

I believe that, when participating in any sport, the beauty and poetry is in the doing and not in the winning. Though winning is fun. My sporting motto could easily be summed up thusly:

Winning isn t everything. Always play to win.

The 2006 winter Olympics have started. And today I reviewed the Olympic Creed which was introduced at the first of the modern Olympic Games in 1896:

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

Nice words.

But they still give out medals.

The Olympic Oath has been recited by every Olympian since the 1920 games. Quoted thusly:

In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams.

Nice words.

But every year some athletes are disqualified for cheating taking performance enhancing drugs, blood doping, etcetera. And judges are accused of playing favorites or being incompetent. Coaches and athletes are labelled poor sports.

Enjoy the Olympics, folks.

Oh. And I ve joined the Bode Miller bandwagon.

11 February, 2006 posted in My Philospophy (more or less) | Comments (1)


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Two Friends

Oddly, two friends are writing for the internet again.

Nigel Campbell :

I forget, do you open with an apology or a joke?

So why the blog?

Well a couple of reasons actually. Firstly because I wanted to plug in again, share my thoughts and also link to some cool stuff on the web, and to use this feature to comment on a few of my images. And secondly because I still get emails from people out there in interweb world who read my old sites and keep asking if I’m going to add writing to the new site.

He s posting his photographs at NigelCampbell.net .

Elsewhere, the full-bearded Ryan W. of GoateeSyle.com revamped his website and commented:

Hopefully my loyal readers have been enjoying the longer entries I ve been writing lately. These days, I want to have a little more substance to my posts. None of that single-sentence filler fluff.

Ryan s trying to post a photograph every day on a separate part of his site: Photolog .

nuff said.

08 February, 2006 posted in Internet Stuff | Comments (0)


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I Was Just Thinkin

if you marry a woman (or a man) who had plastic surgery, there s a chance that you ll wind up with really ugly kids that don t look like either one of you.

08 February, 2006 posted in Miscellany | Comments (0)


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The Ongoing Saga of My Right Ankle

If you are a Constant Reader of this site, you know I broke my right ankle last June. Badly. Snapped my leg in half. Burst my fibula. Surgery. Plate and seven screws and all that. Blah, blah, blah.

You may also remember that I said that I may need more surgery. Yesterday, I had that surgery and I sit here now talking to you with my right leg elevated and a pair of crutches at my side.

The surgery I had removed a bone spur that developed on the distal end of my tibia (shin bone). The spur would catch, stop my ankle from bending, and zing a painful hell deep in the joint.

The spur is gone, but my problems aren t.

Without going into the complex anatomy of the ankle joint, there is a bone that sits in the middle of the ankle. It s in between the leg bones and the foot bones. It s called the talus.

The talus, though seldom mentioned, is a very important bone. It s the bone that hinges the ankle and is very important in stability and balance. It bears all the weight of your body when you stand. When you walk or run, the forces on the talus are up to five times your body weight.

The top ( dome ) of my talus has an osteochondral lesion a cyst right below where it meets the aforementioned tibia. My orthopedic surgeon believes that this, not the spur, is the source of my pain, and as I read what little literature there is on the web, I m starting to think he s right.

He went into my ankle yesterday prepared to drill into the lesion, suck out the bad juices, and replace it with some bone glue ( bone in a bottle ). The lesion, he told the Wife-beast after the surgery, was so bad that it couldn t be done. Instead I m going to need another, more invasive, more intensive surgery.

He s going to have to cut a bone window out of the talus, scoop out the bad goo, and replace it with fresh bone most likely harvested from my tibia (if I read the literature correctly). I ll know more Monday when I have my follow-up appointment.

The doc says that if it were him, he d have the surgery right away. I m not looking forward to this one because I won t be able to put any weight on it for eight weeks afterward online literature recommends that I d have to keep my ankle above the level of (my) heart for a week.

But maybe I m getting ahead of myself

07 February, 2006 posted in About Me | Comments (5)


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The Masai Necklace

Masai Necklace

One of my employees, Kokonia, is a native of western Kenya. He s been in the United States for 15 years or so. The last time he was in Kenya was ten years ago.

When he went home ten years ago I asked him to bring me back a beaded necklace from a Masai Warrior. I don t want the necklace he s selling. I want the necklace from around his neck, I told him.

Kokonia said he would try.

He returned with a gift for me. A Masai necklace. Are these from the Masai s neck, I asked.

No. It is very difficult to get such things from a Masai. They will not give them up, and they are fierce. Besides he wanted way too much money for his necklace, he said.

When I asked how expensive. He quickly computated from Kenya Shillings to US dollars and said, About $10 US.

Kokonia! I would have paid double that!

He returned to Kenya this winter. I gave him the same directive: Kokonia, please bring me back beads from a Masai Warrior. Not the beads he is selling, but the beads from his neck. I will pay any price.

He returned this week and handed me my necklace.

Kokonia, are these from the Masai s neck, I asked.

He held the necklace up and told me how it was made. The animals on this necklace were handcarved by a Masai. This one is a lion. This a leopard. An elephant. Zebra. A rhino and a giraffe. Beautiful work. And, I assure you, made only by the Masai, he said proudly.

Was the Masai wearing it?


Why not?

Jim. The Masai are fierce. They don t want to give up their necklaces, but they will gladly sell you others that they have made, he explained.

Did you ask if you could buy his necklace?

No. The Masai have spears. If I had asked, he would surely have chased me.

05 February, 2006 posted in Tell Me a Story | Comments (1)


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Today s Human Resources Question

It can be considered sexual harassment if you repeatedly ask about an employee s sexual practices, preferences, or experiences.

But what if, while investigating an observed but unreported case of possible sexual harassment, an employer persistently asks if an employee has recently experienced sexual harassment? Is that harassment?

Welcome to my world.

04 February, 2006 posted in Miscellany | Comments (0)


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