April 17, 2009

  • Bye bye xanga!

    I’ve moved. The “suddenly trying to post to Facebook and acting like a huge error occured” was the final straw, but the click-jacking attempts to get me to post ads and the “new, improved” homepage were getting on my nerves before that.  (oh, and the way tab-complete is all screwy on tags is just irritating.)

April 10, 2009

  • Homemade granola bars

    The internet is a magical place. Someone on Twitter, who I met through LibraryThing, gave me this fantastic recipe for homemade granola bars. They weren’t as sweet as I feared, but I didn’t do the chocolate chips because I already had raisins and craisins. They’re not chewy, but they’re not super super hard either. Thanks Laurie!

April 3, 2009

  • garden prep

    We prepped two beds in the sad, dead expanse of our backyard.

    We added garden soil and turned the dirt – removing massive amounts of weird, scary roots from the far bed. Covered in mulch to help retain moisture. I plan to put herbs and other “we need only one” plants in the cinder blocks and the tiny fence is so far convincing the dogs that these are no-poo zones.

    We’ve had snow twice since we did the prepping, and they’re predicting another 4-6 inches this weekend. So, the only things planted out there now are onions and garlic.

    The onions seem to have survived the blizzard:

    (there really is a speck of green in that photo!)

    While we were buying all the supplies, we found berries that will hopefully grow here. Right now they are sitting on the kitchen counter, striving for the sunlight:

    (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry)

    These are going to go in little bush nooks right against the deck where they should get full sun, but be easy to drape a net over the deck edge to keep birds from eating all the berries.

    I just checked, and the mint, oregano, and basil have not decided it’s time to come back yet. The mint and oregano came back last year, so I’m hopeful that the basil will join them.

March 27, 2009

  • spring break blizzard!

    We got over a foot of snow yesterday. It was great! N came home from work around noon – and I got enough of the driveway uncovered so that he could get to the garage. Then we had a lovely lazy half day of movies and cookie making. It’s stopped coming down and our street got plowed so he’s at work now, and my exercise for the day will be shoveling. Lots and lots of shoveling.

    This week is my spring break. I did nothing at all for school from Friday to Tuesday, but now I’m settling back into the groove. Due to some schedule weirdness, my half semester course in Public Choice ended a week before spring break, so I met with the instructor for my Monetary Policy independent study last week and have some deep reading to do for that. (Macro was a loooooong time ago.) The only silver lining I have seen so far for this economy is that it’s a really exciting time to be studying Monetary Policy.

    Functional analysis is still awesome. Now that we’re in the nitty gritty of things, I’m really appreciating my previous teachers who taught things correctly and made few assumptions because now I know what they were going on about.

    Bayes is HARD. Partly it’s hard to do a readings class on my own (between this and Monetary Policy, I should be learning some great lessons about self-directed studying) and partly I’m not clicking with the book. Chapter 1 was nice and friendly, but that dropped off into a land of not defining terms and exercises seemingly unrelated to the text. I think I get the big idea of why you would want to use Bayesian techniques, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to get through how they work at a level deeper than “plug into this awful buggy windows program” before the end of the semester.

    Now that comps are over, I have to face the fact that I do have to do research! I’m kind of excited about the problem, and I think I even got past my last point of stuck right before comps completely took over my life. I set myself up with a deadline by promising to present my baseline findings at ASA spring meeting – so… I’ve got about a month to get something presentable together.

    While I was avoiding thinking about school, I modified this Apple Banana Cupcake recipe to make

    Extra Healthy Apple Banana Muffins
    375 degrees, 20 minutes, yields 18 muffins
    2 mashed bananas
    2/3 c oil
    2/3 c brown sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/4 c milk (or water to make vegan)
    1 c all purpose flour
    1 c whole wheat flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    2 apples, chopped

    Once the snow goes away again, I’ll tell you about our garden that we spent all last weekend prepping.

March 15, 2009

  • Our Daily Bread

    Last August, I got the Bread Bible from the library. The Basic Soft White Sandwich Loaf was the best bread I’ve ever made. For a few weeks, I made it every weekend for our sandwiches, but I eventually decided that it was too rich for every day. (You can taste the lovely lovely butter.) I successfully modified it to use oil instead, and that’s been our regular bread ever since.

    In the finest food blog style, here’s my recipe:

    1 1/4 c + 1 1/2 Tblsp whole wheat flour
    1 c all purpose flour
    3/4 tsp yeast
    2 Tblsp  + 1 tsp honey
    1 3/4 c water

    In a large mixing bowl that has a lid,
    whisk until smooth, should be a thick batter. Scrape down the sides. RLB calls this the “sponge.”

    In a separate bowl, mix together:

    2 c all purpose flour
    1/2 c dry milk
    3/4 tsp yeast

    Spread over the batter:

    Put the lid on and stick it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

    The next morning, pull it out and let it come to room temperature.

    the sponge will have broken through the cover.

    1/2 c vegetable oil
    2 1/4 tsp salt
    Stir until dough-like

    dump onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Don’t be afraid to keep adding flour to keep it from being too sticky.
    Cover the dough with the upturned bowl and let rest for 20 minutes.
    Knead for 5 more minutes.
    Rise 1: Grease the bowl, put the dough back in and cover. Allow to double in size.
    Rise 2: Dump out the dough, give it a few folds to knock around the biggest air bubbles. Stick back in the bowl, recover, and again let double in size.
    Shaping: Grease two loaf pans. Divide the dough into two pieces. I’ve started weighing them because you never know which half has all the air bubbles.
    Pull the dough into a rough rectangle and then poke it down with your fingers to break up airbubbles. RLB’s term for this is “dimpling.”

    Fold one side to the center, then bring the other side to meet it.

    starting from the top, roll tightly towards yourself, trying to squash the air bubbles.

    Hopefully, at this point it will be about the length of a loaf pan. Otherwise, roll and tug out to the full length to avoid short ends of the baked loaf.

    Rise 3: Spray oil the tops and cover with cling wrap. Let rise until tops are 1 inch above tops of loaf pans.

    Bake: 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Cover with foil and then bake for 20 more minutes.

    Allow to cool completely. I suggest freezing the loaf you’re not going to eat immediately.

    the recipe all in one place:

    1 1/4 c + 1 1/2 Tblsp whole wheat flour
    1 c all purpose flour
    3/4 tsp yeast
    2 Tblsp + 1 tsp honey
    1 3/4 c water
    2 c all purpose flour
    1/2 c dry milk
    3/4 tsp yeast
    Final step:
    1/2 c vegetable oil
    2 1/4 tsp salt

March 13, 2009

February 28, 2009

  • finally heard from my advisor

    orals march 13. Mostly it should be doing any problems I missed (and it’s on me to figure out which ones those are. I did get a hint that it’s more than the two I thought it was.) but apparently I should be ready for them to throw anything else on the syllabus out there.
    It should be a new different horrible than a 6 hour written exam. They should tell me that day – they’ll deliberate right then. If I’m getting kicked out of the program, I’ll know by 1pm.

    Most people do have to take the oral makeup. It’s not a huge terrible thing. But I would still rather not have had to. And being allowed hope for a week was no fun.

    Public Choice final March 12. Public Choice paper due March 13. Functional Analysis take home test one due March 19. I should probably do something for Bayesian sometime this semester.

February 20, 2009

  • Back when other people would try to scare me about comps, I looked at them with disdain and said, “How bad can it be? You’re being tested over the stuff you’re actually interested in! This has got to be better than prelims.”

    I hope I was right.

February 6, 2009

  • comps in 14 days

    yes, other things are happening as well, but none of them are nearly as important. Comps in 14 days. I had some scary moments getting my committee together to schedule a date and make sure that the test would magically appear on that date, so just getting the dang thing scheduled is a load off my mind.

    It’s a 6 hour written exam. If I don’t pass, (and don’t totally and completely bomb it) I may have to have a 2 hour-ish oral exam as a makeup two weeks later. Since the two oral exams I’ve had in my entire life consisted of my two attempts to get my judo yellow belt (note: I failed the first one) I would really rather not, thanks.

    I have been actively studying for this test since last June. (Originally I had planned to take it in December – but there is so much material to cover!)

    If I pass this, I WILL get a Phd. I know I can write a dissertation. (It may be a slow, painful process – but I believe it can be done. )

    I’m kind of glad it’s this early in the semester. I’m kind of giving myself permission to blow off my classes in prep for this. (and am taking at least one day off work that week) So, it’s good that I’ll have to rest of the semester to recover.