Saturday, May 31, 2008


I'm a big fan of fermentation. Yeast eat sugar and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Here is a photo of some whole wheat seven grain bread that I made a few weeks ago:

Here is a photo of the 23 or so litres of beer that I made in my kitchen. This photo is of the beer in the glass carboy for secondary fermentation. I bottled the beer a few weeks ago. It's not bad; I'm having some right now.

I've also made yogurt, which is much easier to do than either bread or beer. No photo, though. The way I make yogurt is:


  • Glass mason jar
  • Candy thermometer
  • Small cooler
  • Two sauce pans
  • Small container of commercial yogurt which has Active Bacterial Cultures
  • Milk


  • Slowly bring one mason jar's worth of milk to a boil
  • At the same time, bring a quantity of water up to around 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When the milk just reaches a boil, take it off the heat and let it cool down to around 122 degrees Fahrenheit. For a 950mL mason jar this should take around 25 minutes
  • Put 3 or 4 tablespoons of yogurt into the mason jar
  • When the milk reaches 122 (or so) degrees, pour some of it into the mason jar. Put the lid on the mason jar and shake it. Now put the rest of the milk in and shake the jar again. Be careful not to drop the jar.
  • Put the lid on the mason jar and put the jar into the cooler
  • Pour the heated water into the cooler; enough water to cover the jar.
  • Close the cooler and let it sit for around twelve hours. A few hours longer won't hurt it, though.
  • Take the jar out of the cooler and dump the water out.
  • Open the jar and give the yogurt a stir. Yes, all of the milk has turned into yogurt. It amazes me every time.
  • Put the jar in the fridge. This will set the yogurt and make it a less runny. If you like warm runny yogurt you can skip this step.
I've never gone to any great effort to sanitize the mason jars that I use to make yogurt. I think that 12 hours of fermentation is not long enough for anything bad to develop. Also, the resulting yogurt is generally eaten within a week.

Contrast that with beer brewing. The beer is in primary fermentation for around a week, followed by two weeks of secondary fermentation, followed by three weeks of carbonation/conditioning in bottles. Only then is the beer even marginally ready to be consumed. And those bottles can stay in storage for months. You have to be pretty careful about sanitation when making beer. I use diversol, and I still worry.

My bread recipe is both easy and foolproof. If you follow it, it's totally impossible to avoid making incredible bread. But this rambling post is already too long so I'll leave the bread recipe for another day.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

Speed Limits

I think the City of Vancouver's proposal to lower speed limits to 40km/h on side streets is a great idea. It's not really that complicated, either:
The new limit would apply to most local side streets while most major streets would keep their current speeds. As a general rule, if the street has a yellow line down the middle, it would stay at 50 km/h. If it doesn't have a yellow line, it would likely become 40 km/h. Those areas that are currently 30 km/h, such as playground and school zones, would remain at 30km/h.
Actually, that is probably too complicated for your average Vancouver driver to figure out.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Closer... closer... wait, too close.

I was riding to work today, along 45th avenue. I could hear a car approaching from behind. I was riding just out of the door-zone.

Just as the car was about to pass me, I put my hand out at what turned out to be mirror-level. So My hand was at most one foot from my body. My hand was smacked by the car's mirror.

Question: Did the car pass me too closely?

This is why I often ride around with a set of keys in my left hand.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Work-Life Balance

What does it mean when you really look forward to your dentist's appointment because means you will not be spending the afternoon at work?

While riding to the dentist I nearly hit a squirrel; it waited until I was right there, then made a mad dash for the other side of the path. I squeezed my brakes, and at the same time (fortunately) the squirrel came to a screeching halt and turned around and darted back into the bushes.

On the way back from the dentist, I made this video:

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Internet Comic Link Round-Up Extravaganza

Friday, May 16, 2008

Score one for the cyclist


I play this little game while riding to and from work where I memorize the license plate of a passing car. When the next car drives by I memorize that one, and so on and so on. If there is an altercation, I've trained myself to look at the license plates first. So rather than use my middle finger to tell somebody how I feel, I can find out where they live based on that license plate and send them a letter of gratitude.

Read the rest of this story at: surlyblog.

I must admit that I usually use my middle finger. Or do a particular motion with my hand that indicates that I think the driver is a jerk off. Not very creative.

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Olympic Legacy

From The Tyee: Vancouver's Bedbug Plague
In January of 2007, British bedbug exterminator David Cane told the BBC that the 2000 Sydney Olympics was the single event most responsible for the global bedbug blight currently plaguing urban centres across Europe and North America.

The explosion of the [global bedbug] population began around the time of the Sydney Games... by the end of the games, about 98 per cent of the hotels in Sydney had at least one infected room, and because it wasn't detected early enough, it spread to other rooms in the hotels, and people transmitted them from location to location.

Whenever I read an article about bedbugs I'm always curious to see if the author has included my favourite bedbug fact:
All bedbugs mate via a process termed traumatic insemination. Instead of inserting their genitalia into the female's reproductive tract as is typical in copulation, males instead pierce females with hypodermic genitalia and ejaculate into the body cavity.
This Tyee article does not mention traumatic insemination or hypodermic genetalia, though.

Anyway, it's good to know that there will be at least one long lasting legacy from the 2010 Olympics that will affect the lives of all Vancouverites.

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More Professional Drivers

A heart-warming tale from Los Angeles, California, USA: Hollywood Bus Driver Attacks Cyclist, LAPD Handcuff Cyclist (and Wife!)

Ing-Spray III

We're right in the middle of Spring and Bike to Work Week is almost upon us (prediction: that URL will be broken by July).

That means that the fair weather cyclists are appearing on the streets. I have nothing against fair weather cyclists -- riding in the rain, in the dark, the wind, and the (relative) cold of a Vancouver winter isn't for everyone. In fact it makes a lot of sense to not do it. It's a bit masochistic -- commuting by bicycle in the winter is one of the three (possibly four, depending on precise definitions) masochistic facets of my personality, in fact.

One annoying thing about these eminently reasonable people who choose to start riding their bicycles to work after the vernal equinox is that many of them think that it is some kind of race. This race mentality manifests itself in many annoying behaviours that violate the Code of Bicycle Commuting. Now, this Code only exists in my head as far as I know. I'm planning to write it up and post it on this blog soon.

What it boils down to for the purposes of this post is: do not pass someone and then immediately slow your pace. For example, passing someone going down a hill and then switching into your granny gear on the up-hill that immediately follows.

Also, don't do crazy stuff like riding on the sidewalk at full speed to pass someone, or passing fellow cyclists by blowing by them as they slow at a four-way stop. Just relax. Take it easy. We're all going to catch up to you at Knight street, anyway.

We're racing to work here, people. Does the person who gets there first really win?

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So-called Professional Drivers

At least once each week I am almost side-swiped by a school bus while riding on 45th Avenue (a designated bicycle route, in case you were wondering). Invariably a school bus driver will pass me, and then, because of approaching traffic from the other direction, will be forced to swing back to the right immediately after passing me. This brings the back of the (short) school bus within two feet of me and my bicycle. This happens with Translink buses as well.

For various reasons today was the day that I decided it was time to confront the f*cking idiot driving the bus that almost killed me. Usually I just let it go but today I caught up to the bus and forced it to stop. This was done easily and quickly because immediately after passing me the bus turned left at a traffic calming circle. I'll say it again: the driver of this bus is a f*cking idiot. Does it make sense to pass me dangerously when you're about to turn left anyway?

I went around the circle the wrong way and stopped in front of the bus, yelling (I think) What the f*ck was that?. The driver opened the door and made some stupid remark that I didn't hear clearly. I said You almost hit me back there!.

The driver then said Oh, sorry, the windows are fogged up and I didn't see you.

That's just about the stupidest bullsh*t excuse I've ever heard. This bus approached me from behind and saw me well enough to move to the left to pass me. I guess after passing me the bus driver just totally forgot that I was there? And then cut hard to the right. And then put on the brakes to prepare to turn left around the traffic calming circle.

I'll say it again: the driver of this bus (bus number 2075) is a f*cking idiot.

Normally I would not post something like this but today (not sure why) I think that it's not too much to ask that I be able to ride my bike on a bike street and not be nearly killed. To celebrate I'm declaring the rest of the week Take The Lane Week. I'm going to ride right in the middle of the lane at all times, and if I hear a vehicle approaching from behind I'm going to move to the left. If you want to pass me, go fully into the other lane, b*tches.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Two ways to make automobiles stop

I've discovered two things that a cyclist can do to make a motorist stop their car and sit there motionless:

  • Make a right turn signal (you know, left arm out and bent at the elbow, hand pointing up). This confuses the hell out of the vast majority of Vancouver drivers. If I'm planning to turn right and a driver is stopped at a stop sign to my right, making the right-turn signal will freeze the driver. They will not go across the intersection until I turn right, even though in the reality-based universe our paths do not intersect each other.
  • Stop and put one foot down at a four-way stop. It seems that the way to convince a driver that you are about to dash into the intersection is to remove your foot from the pedal and make it impossible to propel yourself forward. This happened to me this morning. I came up to a four-way stop and a car approaching from my left got there first. I hovered for a second, but the driver would not go. So to convince him/her that I was really stopping, I put my right foot down. Then we stared at each other for about seven more seconds.

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