February 27, 2015

Wnter? What winter?


That's my back yard this afternoon. The bugs have started to come out, and I've been seeing songbirds, and the yard guys have come to mow the lawn twice so far this year, and I think we're going to get an early spring.

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February 02, 2015

Bachelor Chef -- Pepper Cream Cheese

Alouette makes my favorite Garlic-and-Herb cream cheese. They used to make cream cheese flavored with black pepper, which was wonderful, but they don't any more. A couple of days ago it occurred to me that I could make it for myself, so today I tried it.



It's easy to underestimate the amount of cheese and overestimate the amount of pepper, I found. I ended up adding pepper several times, ultimately about six times this much.


After giving it a thorough mixing, put it in a plastic container and refrigerate for several hours. The flavor components that make fresh-ground black pepper taste so good are mostly oil-soluble, so it takes a while for them to leech out into the cheese. Over the course of several hours I mixed it up about three times, and the last time I added a bunch more pepper because it just didn't taste like enough.


Serve on Ritz Crackers (the bachelor chef's best friend). And how did it taste? Excellent. The pepper flavor was distinct but didn't overpower the cheese flavor, and it left a nice mild burn in my mouth without making me scream in pain. This was ridiculously easy and the result was very tasty.

If I can do it, you can do it.

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December 18, 2014

Well, this should be fun...

US Weather Bureau is predicting 2-5 inches of rain for here Saturday night. That should be fun. (Also 5-8 inches in the Coast range.)

Where that won't be fun is if the Willamette goes out of its banks. It won't affect us here, but the creek ought to get pretty lively!

UPDATE: I wonder if this will be as bad as the Chrismas Flood? Probably not, but it may come close.

UPDATE: I was only 10 when the Christmas Flood happened, but it's got special meaning to me. It was the second part of a 1-2 punch to hit the Northwest, coming just about a year after what we call the Columbus Day Storm.

About 1961, my parents bought a lot in SW Portland, moved a trailer house onto it, and began building their dream house. Now when a lot of people say "We're building a house" they mean they hired a construction company. That's not what we did. My dad actually designed the place and drew all the blueprints, and worked on it evenings and weekends and vacations. My grandfather, who was a carpenter, came up to help as much as he could, and friends of my dad would sometimes come over and help. My brother, who was 12-13 years old at the time, did a lot of work and me, 8-9, I did as much as I could. We had the foundation poured and the basement covered by the main floor, and managed to put up all the outer walls and got the roof over it, and covered the whole roof with plywood. But there weren't yet any internal partitions by October, 1962.

And then we got the storm of the century, and it blew the house down. I was in the bathroom when it happened so I didn't see it go. But shortly thereafter my folks began to worry that the trailer might roll over in the wind, and so we walked to our neighbor's house and asked them to put us up for the night.

We spent a week living at my uncle's house in NE Portland because his electricity didn't go out. It took us several months to tear everything apart and restack all the lumber, and then to put the walls and roof back up again.

We were a lot further along by a year later when the second punch of the 1-2 whammy happened. It was bad for the state, but it didn't actually affect us at all. (Our lot was on the edge of the Tryon Creek Valley, so the water just ran off and we never saw anything.

But I remember in 1964 people beginning to wonder if we'd get slammed again. (We didn't.) By then we were living in the house and had sold the trailer.

UPDATE: Oh, boy; they've updated the forecast:


That last is me.

And if those estimates are even close to accurate, every river in the western third of this state is going to flood.

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November 23, 2014


We just had a thunderstorm, and the creek has gone from a trickle to a flood.


The part the beavers built, on the far right, is standing up to the challenge. The part left over from the now-failed culvert on the near left isn't doing so well; I'm expecting a failure there. It's just soil, with only grass roots for structure, and I expect it eventually to wash away.

The water flow in this creek varies enormously with the weather. Not as much so as some of the dry washes in Arizona, which can be bone-dry for years and then suddenly fill completely with water in just a few minutes, but still rather amazing.

Our creek isn't alive, of course, but watching it is like watching a living being.

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November 11, 2014

One of my neighbors is crazy

So I just opened my deck door because I wanted to take a clean picture of the creek:


And it's forty-brrr degrees out. And one of my neighbors has a charcoal grill going and is grilling some meat. I could definitely smell it.

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October 28, 2014

Into the den of the beast

My Oregon ID card was due to expire on my birthday (Thursday) so today my brother took me to DMV to get it renewed. (Acquisition of the wheelchair and slippers was part of the preparation for this mission.)

Actually, he took me there twice. The first time we found out that the rules had changed and I had to produce another piece of ID, so we had to return to my apartment to get my birth certificate.

It wasn't very crowded, and the woman who was managing the line recognized us as having been there earlier, and moved me to the front of the line -- which was nice of her. And it all went briskly. From start to finish, an hour and a quarter. (That's timed from when I left my apartment the first time to when I returned to it, so it includes two round trips in his car.) The actual time in DMV was less than 15 minutes.

Who says all government bureaucracies are terrible?

UPDATE: But when they took my photo they asked me to take off my glasses. So it doesn't look like me, because I always wear glasses. I can't see without them.

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October 27, 2014

Happy Birthday to me!

My brother came over today and took me on a shopping mission. It's the first time I've been out of this apartment since last Spring. My problem was that my feet have swelled up, and my shoes didn't fit any more, so I was stuck here.

We went to Beaverton Pharmacy, and I bought a wheel chair:


We also went to a shoe store and I bought a pair of slippers which were big enough to fit my feet.

Coincidentally, it's my birthday this week, and this is a really good gift. To me it represents freedom. I can now get out of this place, at least once in a while, and go further than the corner of the parking lot (which is about as far as I can walk anymore). I can go to restaurants. I can go to the transit mall and catch the train to my doctor's office. I can make it across Canyon to the Fred Meyer pharmacy for my prescriptions.

He also let me get a treat:


At my request we went through the drive-through lane at McDonalds. I've been dreaming about the taste of a Big Mac for a long time, and just now I got to taste it again, for real. It was just as good as I remembered. (It's the first time in about three years that I've had one.)

So today has been a good day.

UPDATE: No advice, please.

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October 22, 2014

Something or high water


It's been raining pretty hard today, and now the runoff is overtopping the entire culvert.

It's not supposed to be like this; there are two big concrete pipes under the culvert which are supposed to carry the water, but they've been completely clogged up for years. Unfortunately, fixing them would either require scuba gear or a back hoe.

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October 17, 2014

Phone Phollies

The main function of my phone (HTC Droid DNA) is to solve the "I've fallen and I can't get up!" problem. (And the "I've had another stroke" problem.) I'm proud to say that since my stroke I haven't lost my balance enough to fall, not even once. But I've come close a couple of times, and it's a genuine fear, especially as I'm gradually losing control over my left leg. So I keep my phone with me as I move around the apartment, to make sure that when something bad happens, then if I'm seriously hurt I can call for help. It's always within arm's reach. (Even in bed -- my stroke happened while I was asleep and another one could do the same.)

The only apps on the phone I use are the timer app (when I'm cooking) and Accuweather, neither of which are particularly power hungry. Accuweather is only supposed to phone home when I invoke it, for instance, and when it does it doesn't actually say much. The phone has a healthy battery, and I'm used to having it go from 100% charged to about 90% in one day.

Starting a couple of weeks ago, it began to drop a lot more than that. The phone is nearly two years old and maybe the battery is losing the ability to hold a charge? Well, that wouldn't change so radically so fast. So I looked at the power consumption tracking info frames, and it showed my wifi being a big power consumer, and wifi running when the phone was off. Oh, dear; have I become infected with an Android virus? Am I now part of a botnet?

Yesterday I found out the real answer: the phone popped up and said, "I've downloaded a patch; wanna install it?" I let it, so now I'm up to date, and now the power consumption is back to what I'm used to.

This is the fourth patch since I got the phone, and the other three times it asked permission before downloading, which happened immediately and only took about 20 minutes. (Then it asked permission to install, which took maybe ten more minutes.) I'm not sure why it did the download surreptitiously this time.

So now I'm running Android 4.4.2 and the latest HTC stuff, maybe. I'm grateful that Verizon is still putting out patches for my phone because I read somewhere that Verizon doesn't sell HTC phones any more. Kind of a shame.

UPDATE: I just looked at Verizon's web page, and I'm wrong. They are still selling HTC phones. What I read was that all "Droid" phones are now Motorola, and I overinterpreted that. (And anyway, Motorola Mobility, the phone group, now belongs to Google.)

So what distinguishes a "Droid" from any other kind of phone?

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October 15, 2014



This is Safeway's house brand of mozarella sticks. They're really good, too; 7 minutes in a 450 degree oven, and they're great!

But I like the name. Not too many house brands (or any other product, really) are willing to pun like this.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Daily Life at 07:27 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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