Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Neighbor

I was attempting to demonstrate to Jamey and Arthur how you can detect animals in the bushes at night by shining a flashlight into the brush and watching for the telltale reflection of night-eyes. Jamey said that sounded scary & I vaguely agreed with him.

That's about the time I happened to notice a decent-sized eye-glow coming from the brush on our eastern border. Being only one glow, I immediately supposed I was seeing only one side of a deer, but then I thought it might be a coyote with only one eye, or worse...a one-eyed bear! It's well known that Zimmerman's are able to discern one-eyed bears better than most.

Nevertheless, with Jamey and Arthur there, I didn't want to look nervous and impart upon them some irrational sense of fear of wild animals at night, so I suggested we investigate.

Arthur immediately scrambled up the hill, presumably to let Heidi know she should prepare the first-aid kit to treat the gory lacerations we would have, if we even made it back.

Meanwhile Jamey and Snowbear agreed to accompany me in taking a closer look at the one-eyed beast in the bushes.

As we got closer it suddenly happened that the one big eye resolved into two smaller eyes that were very close together. We stopped, suddenly feeling that we didn't want to scare this creature off as much as before.

After Jamey saw the two eyes and we both "Awwww"-ed at the cuteness of it. We tiptoed on. Based on it's elevation, we could presume it was a bird, though it wasn't all that far from the ground.

We were able to approach close enough to see dimly the size, shape and some of the coloration of the whole bird. It was an owl perched on the lowest branch (barely more than a twig) of a cascara tree.

Once she finally flew off, she tolerated our presence far more than most wild creatures, we came back to the house and looked her up in the bird book. The book affirmed the apparent "tame-ness" and said these owls have been known, due to their defensive "hiding" technique, to get bundled up by accident inside Christmas trees branches when the trees are cut and wrapped for shipping.

I wasn't able to get a picture because it was too dark & I didn't have my camera. But I found a blog with some very nice pictures of our new neighbor:

And for a sample of her song:

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Turkey Turned Out Well

The slow-roast method was a success. The meat was moist and stringy, like pulled pork.

There was a brief moment of concern when I discovered the oven was off, but it couldn't have been more than about an hour, so I turned it back on and all was well.

The meat was so loose, there was no way to carve a slice. Instead I just dragged it off the bones with a fork.

My first foray into gravy also turned out just fine, even though I kind of winged it a bit.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

My friend Dwayne gave me a tip on cooking turkey. The keen observer will note that this one is "breast-side down", which keeps the white meat submerged in the drippings.
The other main component to his tip that I'm trying this year is the slow-roasting technique. This one has been in the oven since about 8:30 PM last night and after an initial searing at 400 degrees F, has been roasting at 200.

Overall this 24 pound bird will have roasted for over 18 hours by the time dinner is served.

The outcome will undoubtedly be recorded here tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!
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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Lithium Battery Woes

Tip of the Day: Don't drop a LiPo battery

That's what I did.

LiPo batteries have the rigidity of Play-Doh (tm) and are damaged by small indentations.
Once I dropped mine, the 3rd (of three) cell was no longer able to take a charge. This rendered my battery "unchargeable", meaning I couldn't drive Dulcinea to work in the dark.

$65 later, I have an upgraded battery with almost twice the total capacity. My lights are once again bright as the moon at midnight & I can drive confidently knowing I'm easily seen. Furthermore, I have the capacity to run on one charge for about a week!

Here's a picture of how I've wrapped my new battery to protect it from a repeat of my earlier mishap. Three layers of "ShamWow" felt and the original box it came in.

No Sugar - Month 2 Wrapup

During September and October this year I have avoided almost all sucrose and fructose. I certainly haven't had any candy or desserts, but sugar is found in the most amazing places these days and so through oversight and willing lack of rigor I have allowed some to slip in. Very little though, especially compared with my former self.

I don't mean to say that I was ever a rampaging sugar-holic, but looking back I find that I consumed sugar in nearly every meal I've had for years. Whether it is the after-lunch mint, the sweet-and-sour pork, the spoonful of honey in my oatmeal...whatever, sugar was a constant presence.

Now, two months in to my "sugar-avoidance-diet", eating as much food as I want, whenever I want, provided it contains no sucrose or fructose, I've lost approximately 16 pounds.

I only have about another 16 pounds between me and my "known healthy weight" of 190 lbs. This is the weight I was when I was 19 years old, playing basketball 4 hours per day and lifting weights. I have no overriding ambition to achieve that weight. I would consider it completely OK to be that weight again. If I were to go below that weight by more than 10 lbs, I would begin to worry.

Now that I think of it, I was once (also at 19 yo) 175 lbs...after 9 days of hiking in the mountains, living on rations of dehydrated and flavorless food, while hiking 8 miles per day with a heavy pack. At that time, my bones were jutting angularly in a way that brings to mind victims of famine or anorexia. That is the absolute "weight-floor" for me. If I were to get that light, I'm fairly sure it would be due to some form of disease & would certainly avail myself of medical attention.

However, at this point, that is all very tangential...I feel good. I rarely crave candy or dessert. This may be due to the fact I've come to consider sugar to be poison & my desire not to be poisoned turns my appetite away from those "treats". It also may be because I don't let myself get hungry. I'm filling up on foods with fiber, protein and glucose.

I should also give some credit to Heidi, whose Channa Masala, Moroccan Stew and other delights make it enjoyable to eat healthfully.