The Justin Case file

Aug. 17th, 2014 10:07 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

(This bit of nonfiction is being written in response to recent events; it also seems to fit the "communication" part of the theme, "Community & Communication", of this month's Crowdfunding Creative Jam)

Someone died recently and left his widow with a problem: his computer's hard drive is encrypted, and he didn't leave the recovery key or his password anywhere that she can find.


This is not unlike losing track of the key to the safe deposit box, forgetting the combination to the safe, or neglecting to make out a will. "But I have all that in a file on my computer!" I hear you cry.

Oh, right.

You need a JustIn Case file, someplace where it's safe but reasonably easy to find if anything happens to you. (I'm talking to myself here, too, by the way.) The bare minimum is whatever it takes to get into your computer (a FileVault recovery key, BitLocker PIN, or alternate admin password) and possibly into your password file, browser keychain, or whatever. *That* information needs to be in a couple of different places known to your family! At least one place should be outside your house, e.g. with a trusted relative, your lawyer, your safe deposit box, or the like. The other place should be in your house, e.g. in a locked filing cabinet (they're pretty easy to break into if necessary). Lable the file "Justin Case".

Even if almost everything is on your hard drive, there's a minimum set of things that have to be written down on hardcopy:

  • Your master password, recovery key, or whatever it takes to get into your data. Or at least all of your data that you don't want effectively burned when you're gone. (Keep that separate.)
  • The location of your will, safe deposit box, offsite backups, retirement and bank accounts, life insurance policies, and so on.
  • The name of your executor/executrix.
  • Any important information that your family is likely to need

My plan is to add an SD card with my most important files on it -- I checked, and the directory with all my passwords, tax information, receipts, and so on is only about 200MB. Perfect use for an old 500MB card or thumb drive that's too small to be useful for anything else.

Don't forget to update it if you change your password! That, after all, is the main point of this little exercise.

Done this week (20140810 Su - 16 Sa)

Aug. 17th, 2014 10:40 am
mdlbear: (flamethrower)
[personal profile] mdlbear

We got a little rain this last week -- nice. I also Got Stuff Done, for certain values of stuff -- put up some 1x2 battens to hold up the bamboo screen around the deck, and paid some long-overdue bills. And made dinner on Monday. But as usual not nearly enough.

We have an(other) offer on the Starport; we'll see whether this one sticks.

On the down side, Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall died. The former set off the predictable post-celebrity-suicide followup; both good and bad. Mostly good, as in advice for both the survivors (no, it's not selfish) and the depressed (see particularly Boggle-the-owl's post, I don't like the phrase "a cry for help"...). Here, have a stick.

The Shooting of Michael Brown by a cop last Saturday also had the predictable fallout, and triggered an acute case of deja vu. I've seen it before, in the '60s (civil rights protests) and '70s (Vietnam War protests). Back then we called them "Police riots". I am not feeling very optimistic right now.

Links in the notes.

raw notes, with links )

Sourdough pancakes

Aug. 17th, 2014 09:40 am
skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

I make these pancakes whenever I have guests, and sometimes when I don’t. They’re made from the same starter/sponge as my sourdough bread, and I quite often make them the day before I bake my bread, while the starter is bubbling at room temperature.

pancakes served with banana and maple syrup

These are American style fluffy pancakes, based on various “Yukon gold rush” recipes I found online, where miners supposedly kept their sourdough starter inside their shirts to keep it alive and bubbling in the cold climate. I prefer this style to the thinner crepe-like pancakes that are common in Australia, and I think you will too. They’re easier to flip, for one thing.

The recipe is incredibly simple:

  • 1 cup bubbling sourdough starter or sponge (fed and raised at room temperature, not from the fridge)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tblsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt

Whisk everything together into a sloppy batter. Add a touch more milk if it’s not thin enough to pour from a ladle.

Feed your starter again with 1/2 cup strong baker’s flour and 1/2 cup
filtered water.

Lightly oil a frying pan and heat to medium-hot. You’ll get to know the right temperature on your own stove with a bit of practice.

Pour the batter into the about 1/2 cup at a time to make medium sized pancakes. For me, my soup ladle holds about 3/4 cup so I use that but don’t fill it.

Cook until bubbles rise to the top and form holes that don’t disappear, then flip with a spatula and cook a little longer on the other side.

As they are cooked, put them on a plate, and keep warm in a low oven with a sheet of foil over them. Or serve them as they come out of the pan, of course.

This makes enough to feed about three people normally, or for two to stuff themselves. Serve with whatever you like on top. I’ve got a banana and maple habit lately.

Leftover pancakes keep okay for a couple of days on the fridge, and can be reheated by warming quickly on each side in a hot pan. They’re not as good as fresh, but they’re not bad either, and make for a quick hot breakfast. One batch of pancakes serves me for three days this way, and makes it workable for just me living alone. (Please don’t ask about the time I tried to eat a whole batch in one morning. My stomach still aches at the memory.)

Schedules for making these pancakes

Some people told me they found the schedules in my original bread post useful, so here’s how my schedule looks for bread+pancakes, in winter (i.e. with a coolish house, around 10C most of the time). The trick is to just keep the sponge a little warmer and livelier, and to take out a cupful of sponge and refeed it in the middle of the sponge stage.

Evening, day 1: make sponge, feed starter and put it back in the fridge. Put the sponge somewhere relatively warm, like the living room, to get it bubbling more vigorously.

Morning, day 2: take out a cup of sponge and make pancakes. Top up the sponge with 1/2 cup strong baker’s flour and 1/2 cup water, and continue to keep it somewhere relatively warm.

Evening, day 2: make dough and form loaf. Rise overnight in a cold/unheated room.

Morning, day 3: bake bread.

Or of course there’s the alternate version, aka “I forgot I was meant to be making bread and now I’m almost ready for bed and can’t be bothered” on the evening of day 2. This happens to me more often than I’d like to admit.

Evening, day 1: as above.

Evening, day 2: instead of making the dough, just feed the starter again with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water and go to bed.

Morning, day 3: make pancakes.

Evening, day 3: make dough and form loaf.

Morning, day 4: bake bread.

skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
This is a crosspost from Infotropism. You can comment here or there.

Simplest sourdough bread instructions

Aug. 16th, 2014 07:34 pm
skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

I wanted to post a short, simple version of my sourdough bread instructions — no fancy stuff or options, unlike the earlier rather confusing post that I made — so that I can point people at it when I give them some of my starter.

So here goes. How to make a standard sourdough loaf the way I do.

Basic sourdough starter feeding

  1. When you get the sourdough home, put it in a large jar with lid or covering that will let it breath. I like using one of those flip-top jars and removing the rubber ring so it’s not airtight.
  2. Feed it 1/2 cup of strong white bakers flour and 1/2 cup of filtered water. Give it a stir. It should have the approximate consistency of cake batter.
  3. You have two options now, depending on your schedule and how much bread you consume:
    • Leave it 12-24 hours at room temperature, or
    • Leave it for longer (up to a couple of weeks, easily) in the fridge

Making the sponge

  1. Start the following steps about 36 hours before you want your loaf of bread.
  2. Take the starter and pour most of it out of the jar into a large bowl. Don’t scrape the jar or make too much effort to pour everything out — you want some left to keep the starter going.
  3. Add 1/2 cup strong baker’s flour and 1/2 cup filtered water back to the jar, stir, and put it aside until you want to make another loaf (as above – it’s fine on the benchtop for a day, or in the fridge for a week or more).
  4. In the bowl, you should have about 1 cup of starter. It’s not exact, so don’t sweat the details.
  5. Add 1 cup strong baker’s flour and 1 cup filtered water and give it a good stir to incorporate. You’re looking for approximately cake batter consistency. This is the sponge.
  6. Leave the sponge at room temperature for 24 hours, covered with a cloth (I use a clean tea towel).
  7. At the end of this period, it should be bubbly and smell yeasty.

Making the dough and forming the loaf

  1. The next day, make the dough. First add about a teaspoon of salt. Then add strong baker’s flour, starting with about a cup and adding a bit more at a time, mixing with each addition, until you get to the “shaggy dough” stage, which is when it sort of breaks into stringy clumps.
  2. Put some flour on your counter or work surface. I use a generous handful.
  3. While you’re at it, grease and flour a loaf tin. I do this now so I can dump the excess flour out onto the counter with the rest.
  4. Turn the dough out of the bowl, scraping the sides, and make a heap on the counter. Sprinkle a little more flour on top.
  5. Fold and knead for just a few minutes. I usually start by folding and gently shaping it a few times until it forms a cohesive lump, and then gently pushing/kneading it until the dough is nice and smooth and stretchy. It doesn’t need long or energetic kneading like traditional yeast bread does.
  6. Add more flour if it’s sticking to the counter, but try not to let it get too dry.
  7. Form into a loaf shape. I do this by pulling the dough into a rectangle about the size of a sheet of A4 or letter paper, and then folding it in thirds, like how you’d fold a letter to put in an envelope.
  8. Turn this upside down so the join is underneath, and dump it into your loaf pan.
  9. Sprinkle flour on top to make a non-stick surface. I just use a small handful lightly dusted over it.
  10. Cover again with a cloth (I use the same tea towel) and leave for 6-12 hours, depending on room temperature. In warmer weather, you’ll want to leave it a shorter period. You want it to approximately double in size.


  1. Bake at 220C for 30 minutes.
  2. Turn out of the tin and tap the bottom. If it doesn’t sound hollow, stick it back in the oven for another 5
  3. Cool on a rack. Leave for at least 15 mins before slicing.
a plain loaf of sourdough cooling on a rack

My first sourdough loaf, made with this process just over a year ago.

The hardest thing, early on, is finding your rhythm or schedule. So here are a couple of schedules that work for me.

My winter schedule (~10 hour rise):

Evening, day 1: make sponge, feed starter and put it back in the fridge.

Evening, day 2: make dough and form loaf. Rise overnight in an unheated room, which in my climate means down around 10 degrees C or even lower.

Morning, day 3: bake, and appreciate how it warms up the kitchen and you get a nice hot breakfast.

My summer schedule (~6 hour rise, ):

Morning, day 1: make sponge, feed starter and put it back in the fridge.

Morning, day 2: make dough and form loaf. Rise during the day, keeping an eye on it after 4 hours or so as it can go quite quickly in warm weather.

Afternoon/evening, day 2: bake.

In my climate, I keep an eye on the weather forecast and aim to bake on cooler days (in the 20s celsius) when it’s not torture to run the oven. If it’s hotter than that, I’m more likely to make flatbread or just eat something else.

Some people suggest letting it rise in the fridge overnight if the weather is hot. I’ve tried it and don’t much like it, but you might find it works for you.

skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
This is a crosspost from Infotropism. You can comment here or there.

A secular Lent

Aug. 15th, 2014 06:52 pm
skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
This is a crosspost from Chez Skud. You can comment here or there.

I’m going through a bit of a cash-starved phase at the moment so I’m looking at what I can cook from my pantry, freezer and garden without shopping for groceries.

I thought I’d take a few minutes to write up what’s currently scrawled in green marker across the whiteboard in my kitchen, as I’m quite pleased with how much I think I can manage with what I already have.


  • brown rice gratin with sausage, squash and silverbeet
  • mujaddara served with spicy chutney and yoghurt
  • lentil and sorrel risotto
  • pasta with tuna, tomato, olives, and parsley
  • slow cooked bbq pork with rice

Brunch/lunch/snack/light meals:

  • sauted red beans, sausage, and kale (to eat with with toast)
  • tabbouleh-esque salad with chickpeas
  • hummus
  • potato-and-greens frittata
  • soba noodles with broccoli and peanuts
  • miso soup with shiitakes and greens over black rice

The distinction between dinner vs brunch/lunch/light meal is pretty arbitrary, but this is just how I’d choose to eat those dishes at this time of year. In summer, a substantial salad might be a dinner, but not at the tail end of winter when the nights are still cold.

I figure I’m good for 2 weeks at least, and maybe more, based on cooking something every day or so and having leftovers for the meals in between.

My shopping list, to get me through this menu, reads:

  • celery (to go into home made veg stock from scraps in a bag in my freezer, and also into the lentil risotto, and then to snack on whatever’s left)
  • onions (I have a few but will probably need more)

Everything else is already in the house or garden. I’ve also got a couple of frozen containers of soup and leftovers, and some snackable bits and pieces, in case I don’t feel like cooking. It’ll be interesting to see how tough it is to resist shopping, though. I’m pretty sure I’ll start wishing for more eggs and dairy quite soon, though I don’t strictly need them.

You’ll note there’s a few meat meals listed there. I’m using up the last two packets of pork from my Jonai Farms ethical meat CSA membership, which ended a little while ago. There’s a packet of spicy chorizo sausages which I cooked yesterday and have been chopping up into various dishes, and a chunk of pork shoulder that will be great slow-cooked and served with some leftover chipotle BBQ sauce from my birthday rib extravaganza, that I have frozen in containers.

By the time I’m done with this exercise, I suspect my pantry will be getting close to bare. It’s interesting doing this right now, in late winter/early spring in the southern hemisphere. This time of year, in the northern hemisphere, is Lent, a traditional period of fasting in the Christian calendar. How convenient that Lent just happens to be the time of year when people’s supplies are low, the chickens aren’t laying yet, the livestock were either killed off before the weather got too cold or else are pregnant and not producing milk right now, and basically all you have to live on are greens and root veg from the garden and whatever’s in your pantry.

I’m not abstaining from animal products over these next weeks but I’m certainly going to be using them sparingly. It’s a kind of secular Lent for me, as well as a bit of a pre-emptive spring clean for my pantry, finishing off a lot of half-jars and tail ends of this and that. It actually feels kind of appropriate to the season.

Wish me luck!

Thankful Thursday

Aug. 14th, 2014 10:00 pm
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

Hmm. Rough month this week. I'm thankful for

  • Surviving.
  • Friends. Including the cats. And Colleen, my best friend, who is also a Cheshire cat. Also goats and bears.
  • Being able to help sometimes, a little.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Writers.
  • Singly-linked lists.

(no subject)

Aug. 12th, 2014 12:20 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
Some people are reporting having trouble reaching the site, especially from the UK/EU. Unfortunately, after looking into it, it seems to be an internet routing problem and not something we can fix on our end. Hang tight; our hosting service is pretty good at working around those sorts of problems pretty quickly.
mdlbear: (hp-c)
[personal profile] mdlbear

I'm available. I don't promise to be coherent after 11pm, but you can call any time. 408 - 896 - 6133.

(Inspired by ysabetwordsmith | Moment of Silence: Robin Williams. His death has, understandably, shaken up a lot of people.) (The userpic? Citalopram.)

The Pathway to Inclusion

Aug. 12th, 2014 10:42 am
skud: (Default)
[personal profile] skud
This is a crosspost from Infotropism. You can comment here or there.

Lately I’ve been working on how to make groups, events, and projects more inclusive. This goes beyond diversity — having a demographic mix of participants — and gets to the heart of how and why people get involved, or don’t get involved, with things.

As I see it, there are six steps everyone needs to pass through, to get from never having heard of a thing to being deeply involved in it.

pathway to inclusion - see below for transcript and more details

These six steps happen in chronological order, starting from someone who knows nothing about your thing.


“I’ve heard of this thing.” Perhaps I’ve seen mention of it on social media, or heard a friend talking about it. This is the first step to becoming involved: I have to be aware of your thing to move on to the following stages.


“I understand what this is about.” The next step is for me to understand what your thing is, and what it might be like for me to be involved. Here’s where you get to be descriptive. Anything from your thing’s name, to the information on the website, to the language and visuals you use in your promotional materials can help me understand.


“I can see myself doing this.” Once I understand what your thing is, I’ll make a decision about whether or not it’s for me. If you want to be inclusive, your job here is to make sure that I can imagine myself as part of your group/event/project, by showing how I could use or benefit from what it offers, or by showing me other people like me who are already involved.


“I can physically, logistically, and financially do this.” Here we’re looking at where and when your thing occurs, how much it costs, how much advance notice is given, physical accessibility (for people with disabilities or other such needs), childcare, transportation, how I would actually sign up for the thing, and how all of these interact with my own needs, schedule, finances, and so on.


“I feel like I fit in here.” Assuming I get to this stage and join your thing, will I feel like I belong and am part of it? This is distinct from “identification” because identification is about imagining the future, while belonging is about my experience of the present. Are the organisers and other participants welcoming? Is the space safe? Are activities and facilities designed to support all participants? Am I feeling comfortable and having a good time?


“I care enough to take responsibility for this.” If I belong, and have been involved for a while, I may begin to take ownership or responsibility. For instance, I might volunteer my time or skills, serve on the leadership team, or offer to run an activity. People in ownership roles are well placed to make sure that others make it through the inclusion pathway, to belonging and ownership.

If you’re interested in participating in an inclusivity workshop or would like to hire me to help your group, project, or event be more inclusive, get in touch.

(no subject)

Aug. 10th, 2014 11:53 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We'll be starting the code push relatively soon; there may be a few blips here and there as we work. I'll update this post when it's all finished!

EDIT: Code has been pushed. Let us know if you encounter any problems! A list of the (many) bugfixes included in this push will be forthcoming.

Done this week (20140803 Su - 09 Sa)

Aug. 10th, 2014 09:51 am
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

A lot of pain this week -- left foot, mostly, and some lower-back pain. Which I blame on my recent weight spike, which I blame on my recent increased dosage of antidepressant. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

We got some time with Colleen's sister of choice Bev, but not as much as we wanted. *sigh*

Yesterday Colleen and I went to the Amazon company picnic. Mainly aimed at much younger people, with kids. OTOH it was a free lunch. OTGH I gained some weight and probably stood up too much. Nice drive afterwards.

Aside from that, not much is going on. The Starport is still for sale. There are links.

raw notes, with links )

Thankful Thursday

Aug. 7th, 2014 08:24 pm
mdlbear: (rose)
[personal profile] mdlbear

A little different this time. This week I'm thankful for

  • Time
  • Healing
  • and Amethyst Rose

Our daughter Ame would have been 24 years old on Monday. I'm thankful that the pain has faded to the point that it was pretty much a day like any other. Though she did have to reassure me a couple of times.

request for recs

Aug. 7th, 2014 08:22 am
brainwane: several colorful scribbles in the vague shape of a jellyfish (jellyfish)
[personal profile] brainwane
What are Deep Space Nine fanvids you like, especially ones focusing on Kira Nerys?

Code push this weekend

Aug. 6th, 2014 02:21 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We will be doing a code push this weekend: 9PM PDT Sunday 10 Aug/midnight EDT/5AM GMT Monday 11 Aug/noon PHT. (See in your time zone.)

This push will almost entirely consist of a (very large!) number of fixes for the mobile-friendly styles project, and should fix most of the remaining outstanding issues people have reported.
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