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Butterscotch Cake: a most wonderful accident.

I've become picky about cake. Part of it comes from attending weddings. Some of it was working on a cake-based fundraiser called "Let Them Eat Cake" where contestants had to submit two identical cakes. One to sample, one to auction off. Between that, various boxed cake mixes, and a burning desire to have small amounts of really good cake whenever I want...I turned to made-from-scratch recipes.[1] While there are some good box mixes -- if you don't follow the directions exactly -- I do not want to bake a 9x13 or double layer cake for just myself. I don't like cake that much. A bonus feature of scratch cakes is the fact that you can make a half (or quarter or third or whatever fraction gets you down to one egg) of a cake. And then bake it in something other than cupcake pans. An 8x8 pan or 9 inch cake pan, or (my recent favorite) ramekins will do.

I finally found a recipe that meets all my criteria: few ingredients, reduces down to a 1/4 batch easily, doesn't get all gross when I want to play with flavors. It's called "Golden Milk Cake".

I'll get around to posting the full, original Golden Milk Cake recipe eventually. Right now, I want to blog about my latest experiment. I wanted to see if I could make a carmel flavored cake, but what I ended up with was more like butterscotch. Warm from the oven it was pure heaven.

So here's the actual (half-batch) recipe.

Butterscotch Cake
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup, packed, brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup sifted flour (don't have a sifter, stir the flour with a whisk before measuring)

Preheat oven to 350F. prepare your baking vessel[2]. Cream together butter and sugar, add vanilla and eggs, beat until smoothh. Dissolve the baking powder in the milk, stir in the sugar mix until smooth, Add flour then mix until just combined. Pour into baking vessel. 1/4 cup for cupcakes, 1/2 cup for ramekins, the whole bowl of batter. Bake until the top is dry but springy or a toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the center. Time wise that's:
cupcakes--15 to 20 minutes
Ramekins--30 to 35 minutes
pans--50 minutes

Makes 12 cupcakes or one 8x8 pan, or one 9inch round cake pan or 4 ramekins

[1] I also believe that good cake doesn't need frosting. Really good cake says "Frost me if you MUST, sugar addict, but you're missing the point."

[2] line the cupake pan with cupcake sleeves. butter and flour the square or round pans. The ramekins will easily take giant muffin liners (you'll just have very frilly sides) or you can butter and flour them.)
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Star Trek Beyond -- The Pithy Review

What I Expected:
A rehashed, re-done reboot of some old episode or movie from Star Trek (The Original Series) full of sexist BS involving James T. Kirk having sex with a striking alien in between things blowing up and people running, screaming and fighting. I figured I'd wait until it was streamable to watch it, but I kept hearing trusted sources say it was unexpectedly good. So I ponied up for a matinee.

What I Got:
A brand new, never before seen plot! No overt sexism! Geeky bonding! Actual displays of real friendship! Some very pretty cinematography! A surprising low level of WTF-ness!

The franchise's triumvirate of Kirk/Spock/McCoy actually came off feeling as though they were real friends in a real-ish world as opposed to actors portraying friends in a movie. In The Reboot Movie, I had a hard time buying that this friendship between three very different people could gel that fast based on the acting that I saw. The second movie, The Wrath of Khan Sans Khan--Nope, Just Kidding--It's really Khan, didn't have time to focus on the friendships outside of the general stereotyping and rampant white washing.

The crew/cast as a whole seem more family-like and comfortable with each other, too. There was less manufacured interpersonal drama so the actors were able to act like people, not set pieces.

While the plot was standard and fairly predictable, I did enjoy the nods and the little twists to my cultural-based expectations. I liked the fact that Uhura did a lot more than "answer the phone" and repeat other people's words in her duty as a linguist/translator. I appreciated that a female engineer out-Scottied Scotty. I could go on about the little touches, but let's just say, "I got the warm fuzzies over the kind and quality of ass kicking" and leave it at that.

The CGI was stunning. And fun. I didn't expect the fun part. I also suspect that this movie wouldn't suck in 3D. (I have very strong feelings about 3D movie cinematography.> It has to do with things like "Depth of Field" and "Dimensionality vs Layering" and "Please don't throw things AT me.")

Most of my WTFness came with the world building and command structures of the Federation. It wasn't central to the plot, although it was held up as an obstacle to happiness. Whose happiness I can't/won't say. However, it felt like a halting call back to the original movie franchise. All I can say is... if the writers/producer/director are/is going to keep referring to HQ and the Higher Command Structure, go watch a bunch of Star Trek the Next Generation episodes involving members of the Federation's high command.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
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Japanese Tea Ceremony: In Media Res

For the second week in a row, I’ve had to resort to an alcoholic beverage after my Thursday-night class.

It’s not that I dislike teaching watercolor or my student, who also happens to be my instructor in the Urasenke School of Tea Ceremony, it’s because I’m sensitive to caffeine. I’ve learned the hard way that caffeine affects me for nine hours. Unless I ingest some sort of chemical depressant, I’ll be up until at least 3--probably 4--am. I have to go to work tomorrow and be moderately functional. That’s hard to do on 2 hours (or so) of sleep.

Why am I drinking matcha (very strong green tea made from powdered green tea leaves--strong as in 1 cup of matcha equals 5 normal cups of brewed tea) so long after my self-imposed 3pm caffeine cutoff? Because my teacher/sensei is also sensitive to caffeine and she won’t drink the tea I’ve made. (It’s also a way to teach/walk me through the role of the guest in the ceremony. Two birds, one cup of tea. Well, two cups. We do two practices each class.) Luckily, hopefully, her other students will return from their breaks soon. Being wound up (you have to consume sweets with the tea, so I’m well on my way to being the live-action version of the Tazmanian Devil as seen in the Buggs Bunny cartoons) and soused makes for some weird sleep.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging about how I got to be in this buzz-fest. Hopefully, with the addition of her other student’s I’ll be able to restrict my intake to just one cup -- if that. In the meantime, three cheers for alcohol!

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Movie Reviewers: Readers’ Bias, Genres and Sales [*]

It's actually viewers’ bias[0], in this particular case, but it amounts to the same thing. Go listen to the first 18 minutes of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour (PCHH) from June 24. They're talking about Pixar's “Finding Dory”. They're good at being non-spoilery, so it's safe. The PCHH crew only address the stuff you see in the trailers. I know this because, as I write this, I’ve only seen the three trailers. I’m not going to watch the movie until after I have posted this to my blog. Veracity in action reporting? Whatever the reason, it felt like cheating to post this after seeing “Finding Dory”.

Done listening?

I kept getting hung up on something Linda Holmes[1], Daisy Rosario, Glen Weldon, and Stephen Thompson kept saying so much that I had to stop the stream and blog about it. I have strong opinions on the topic of audience perception vs narrative intent vs reviewer bias. The cage protecting that hot button was accidentally loosened last week.

The biggest complaint the PCHH crew had was that "Finding Dory" was not directed at them, the specific adult viewers that made up the PCHH podcast that episode. Neither did it carry forward the lessons learned in "Finding Nemo" in a "this is the next step of growing up for adults/kids" as illustrated by the Toy Story trilogy. Yes, PCHH compared the "Finding Nemo/Dory" series to the Toy Story movies despite the obvious lack of cross pollination in the narratives. The PCHH reviewers were so turned off by the lack them-focused emotional therapy that they forgot to do their usual thoughtful review and expressed amazement at how well it was doing at the box office[2]. My favorite[3] bit in the review session was "This movie does not meet the Pixar standard" said in condemning tones more than once as if Pixar is its own genre separate from “animated films directed at children and the young at heart”.[5]

Which brings me to something I figured out back in college when I was taking writing workshops. Reader/viewer/listener bias is important when contemplating stories in any media. In fact, I find myself reviewing the reviewers because of this. There are many reviewers I trust who love what I hate and hate what I love. I just go see the movies they dislike. That’s the fun part of a good workshop. You learn what about your work appeals to others and why. It’s also good training for identifying bias in others.

The PCHH review session disconnect between message and meaning is not limited to me or “Finding Dory”[0.1]. It's been addressed elsewhere by Nebula and Hugo award winning fantasy/science fiction author Lois McMaster Bujold who does a lot of cross-genre writing and likes to play with tropes. After you read her Denvention08 speech, go out to Amazon and peruse the reader reviews of her fantasy novel "The Sharing Knife: Beguilement".

Don't feel like it wading through all that? Let me summarize Bujold’s speech: Writing the story is only half of the work that needs to be done for storytelling. Readers(views) bring their life experiences to your work and change the very nature of the story by the simple act of reading (or watching) it. It’s not wrong that this happens, but it does need to be considered when writing because, all in all, it’s just a part of the writer/reader collaboration called storytelling.

The summaries of the Amazon reader reviews for Bujold’s fantasy series’ first book were filled with military-science fiction genre fans split pretty evenly between "She made me read about Girl Cooties(tm)! This book sucks! Give me Miles and splody spaceshipy adventures!" and "Man, she's such a good writer, I actually liked reading a Girl Cooties(tm) book. Who knew that was possible? I didn't." (Girl Cooties = Romance Novels)

Almost all of the breakout/best selling/game changing movies and books have one thing in common. The author wrote the book they wanted to read, but couldn’t find in the market as it existed before they came along. Ditto for pop culture movies like Star Wars, TV shows like Star Trek, and so on. Some producer/show runner/etc. decided to film a movie/show they wanted to watch, but couldn’t find. Pixar did the same thing. In the “Finding Nemo/Dory” duology, the Pixar group made a set of movies they wanted to see about a topic no one talks about much -- being handicapped and fighting for independence.

And that’s why a “sub-par Pixar movie’ is making money. There is an audience out there for a disabled hero/heroine who “just keep[s] swimming” despite past experiences and outside advice. It’s obvious from the trailers that “Finding Dory” is retconning why a disabled, damaged individual is the Campbellian gatekeeper/wisdom giver in “Finding Nemo.” Even though I have only seen the trailers, I can say for certain that “Finding Dory is a typically Pixar film and a cohesive, thoughtful Pixar duology. It’s just focused on coping with disabilities and physical/mental limitations. Unlike the Toy Story trilogy, which is a linear narrative about growing up/old, Finding Nemo/Dory is a conversation between/by/for people inhabiting a limit-filled world whether they’re aware of it or not. [6]

Dear PCHH, I respectfully submit that neither "Finding Nemo" nor "Finding Dory" were directed at you and your point of view/life experiences. I ask that you re-watch both movies and try to put yourself in the role of a child who has disabilities, either physical or mental, then re-podcast. Now, please excuse me while I go watch the movie. I’ll have to see how much I agree/disagree about the rest of your collective review.
[*] I meant to post this a week ago, but “Life is what happens when you have other plans” hit me hard. Also, the first round of this post was one of the crankiest rants I’ve ever written. Time has allowed my inner-English Major to take control.

[0] Or in the case of “Frozen” read/watch series at Tor.com, it’s reader/viewer bias.

[0.1] I agreed with all of the movie reviews except the last one. All I have to say to that is “Go read the Dysfunctional Family Day threads on the Making Light blog.” Pre-DFD, I would probably have gone along with it. Post-DFD not so much. Plus some experiences of my own made me go, “Yes, that actually happens IRL”. Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense. Truth doesn’t care what you think is believable.

[1] She is the nicest devil's advocate I’ve ever listened to—some people take the "devil" part to heart. Linda doesn’t. However, it was painfully obvious that she agreed with her fellow podcasters. Her defense of the film was not believable at all.

[2] “It sucks, and it’s making money? How can this be?” is the most clueless thing I’ve heard the PCHH group say about a movie. They’re usually so much more culturally savvy about things like this.

[3] By "favorite" I mean "most eye-rolling". I love you Glen, I adore your snarkiness, I take endless joys in your pithy rants. but really? Your narrative desires (nor mine) are not Pixar’s standards. Stephen/Daisy, the type of water they were swimming in/through was your only problem with the film? I’ve only seen the trailers and I had issues with an octopus breathing air as though it had lungs and lifting a water-filled coffee pot like it had bones in its tentacles. However, I can’t say that your willing suspension of disbelief’s breaking point is no less valid than mine. It’s just different.

[4] My google-fu has failed me. I can’t find the picture of the hand-written list of “Things we hate about Disney films that Pixar will not do.” (I suspect it was cleansed from easy-to-find searches during Disney’s acquisition of Pixar.) Still, what I found is a good list, and should be included/considered, even if it’s not the one I wanted.

[5] Hentai counts as animated film, but not for children or the young at heart. Now if I could just find that bottle of brain bleach...

[6] Which is why the movie was not set in the open ocean. It’s a metaphor that supports the overall theme.
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On Being Heard

I follow Ursula Vernon's twitter feed and found myself agreeing with her recent rant about people who get upset about not being heard in elections and in other places about things near and dear to them. The general gist was,"get over it. No one is listened to all the time, or even all that often. Deal with it, or not, but know this is a fact of life you can't avoid."

I have to add that not being heard is also a reality of life even when they ask you to air your opinion. It could be they just want you to shut up so they pretend to listen while zoning you out. It might be because they're too busy thinking about how to respond to what you have not yet said. It's possible they are listening, but not understanding because they lack knowledge or context or whatever. Not being heard is the norm, not the exception. I had a lot of that this week. The least annoying example I'm willing to share is me asking my sister, Twosie, "Have you talked to Hroback recently? How's he doing?"

Her reply was "The organization is falling apart."

I wanted to know about her friend who used to do her taxes for the cost of her donating dog food to the local animal shelter. The same guy who announced "Buick U" on his lawn because the neighbor's kid took Roundup and wrote "Fuck U" there, and Hroback didn't want the insult on his property so he bought some Roundup and edited the insult out of existence. The last I had heard, he was having health issues. Instead, I got a brusk business report for a place she worked at six years before. As that was the third, "I'm not listening to you" conversation of the day, I gave up talking, and we finished the two hour drive in silence.

And then today happened. I had lunch with Cheryl, a friend from college. The first thing she did, after greetings were done, was to relay a question from her husband, Steve. "Is C.J. Cherryh a good follow up to Bujold? He read all of her books in nine months and now wants something else."

I was confused. I thought Steve was a much faster reader than that, but their lives had been busy recently. I'm behind on my reading, too, for the same reason,

"You don't understand" Cheryl told me with some urgency, because good friends of long standing can read you like a book. If there hadn't been a table between us, I think she might have grabbed my shirt and shook me to get her level of urgency across. "Steve doesn't read fiction! You got him to read Bujold, and now he wants to read something else that's not about computers! He even bought a Kindle Fire so he could read all the books that were out of print!"

Knowing how important this was, I answered thoughtfully in the affirmative. I also added a couple of other authors for Steve to try if he didn't go for Cherryh's brand of GrimDark and UberPolitics. New readers must be encouraged at all costs. Primary need satisfied, we ordered lunch and started catching up on a year's worth of news.

On the drive home, I tried to figure out just what I'd said and when to get Steve to pick up the first Bujold book. I think it was during the time we were hanging out in his man cave, watching woodworking shows -- an interest we both share -- while Cheryl was in her home office, dealing with a work issue. All I can remember is the commmentary we traded back and forth. "That's a pretty piece... he just ruined that piece of wood... The stain looks nice, but I prefer natural... Why in God's name use screws when a motise and tenon..." and so on. Books (and other topics) must have come up, because that's one of my babble buttons. I just don't remember babbling about Bujold.

The specifics don't really matter though. What I have to add to Ursula's rant is this: not being listened to is frustrating, if you let it be. What's truly scary is when people do listen and come back at you with it later, long after you've forgotten what you said. Most of the time its not something nice like a book recommendation -- especially when politics and hard feelings are concerned.
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Got some bad-ish news... yesterday, since it's now after midnight. It wasn't unexpected, just unwanted, and not definitive. It's the no clear answer (or plan) that drives me nuts.

So poetry happened. I haven't vented my feelings in free verse for some time. It felt good -- getting back some of the old me.

There's also a picture, a sucky one, as it happens, of a harvest moon. Maybe I can catch the feel better with watercolors. These are part of the new me - whom I also like. I'm really glad the old and the new mes are copacetic.
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Father's Day: Under A Harvest Moon

This road used to be straight
back when the wheels kicked up dust
behind a big, yellow bus
and I stared out the window
looking for cattle in the pasture
that was, much later, torn up into row crops,
(it's milo, this year -- corn would be taller by now).
There were always trees on the east side
ash, mostly, some elm, with wild plum and Queen Anne's lace
filling the understory--
all of them scrawny little saplings
protectected by a barbed wire fence strung to keep the cattle in.

The cows are gone, mostly, dairying
isn't profitable for one-man operations,
and feeder cattle now eat the hay, grass and grain stalks.
The west side of the road, down slope, is now fence-less post harrowing.
(Dad wanted no hiderance to his tractors
and fences are always in want of repair.)
The ditches are mere sugestions where they exist at all.

Now the little draws that feed the stream
(that feeds Bowman Creek which feeds Mill Creek,
that, somewhere, feeds another creek,
and that another and so on, until the creeks become rivers
that feed other rivers, each one bigger than the last,
until the waters empty into the Gulf of Mexico,
Mother Nature and the Army Corp of Engineers willing)
steal soil from the road,
one raindrop at a time,

It's easier for the drivers to swerve a little right,
or left if you're heading south,
not pruning the trees as much as discouraging them from growing
into the lovely new soil filling the ditch
from the upslope side.
(The ghosts of the surveyors who laid the course of this road weep
as time and human fallibilty alter their rule-straight lines.)

What hasn't changed is the next,
or previous if you're driving north,
half mile where crops grew in orderly rows
as far back as I can remember.
Only then it was Dad needing the ride
back to the field
after cutting wheat,
just a sample really,
impatient to reap
the newly made gold
and not the brother who farms for Mom
and knows I'm good for a ride from farm yard to field
no matter what I might otherwise be doing
because it's always nice to take an evening drive
with someone I love as the heat drains from the day.

I didn't know, back then, that there was a harvest moon in summer,
or in late spring as it turns hot just before the solstice.
The combines, gravity wagons, grain trucks and semis rolled then,
as they roll now, no more than five days on either side
of the fully grown moon.

When I get back to the farm, I find that moon is up and
fading from amber to silver in a sky painted in periwinkle and haze.
I know this slow fade from twilight
through dusk and into dark. I grew up with it.
So will others after me.

My old memories of summer moons remain unchanged and untarnished
despite not learning the Dad-im from Dad.
My brother's a father, and willing to share
with anyone who shows interest.

Not all roads are straight. They don't have to be.
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Spice Blends: The Blackened Rub Edition

If rain doesn't cancel Fire Pit Friday again, we're making Blackened Chicken Wings. The only problem lies in the fact that I don't have a blackened spice rub thingy or chicken wings. Both could be fixed at the nearest medium- to large-sized* grocery store. Rather than buying two different special items**, I decided to research make my own rub/blend. It's not as though I don't have a well stocked spice cupboard on hand.

The best way to find a good basic recipe, be it for spice blends, cakes, cookies, "ethnic" food, or anything I've heard about and want to try, but haven't had/don't have access to, is to open up my friendly neighborhood search engine.^ and plug in "_____ recipe". I then click on the top 10 items, making sure to not go to the same place twice. This is not hard. However, I have found instances of outright plagiarism.^^ I tend to add an 11th option when that happens.

I then make a list of the ingredients (spices in this case) each recipe calls for. Each mention gets one tick of a hash mark.*^ upon addition to/mention on the list. While I don't write down the quantities, I do read them. (Which is how I spot the plagiarism - No two spice blends are exactly the same due to regional and personal taste variations.) At the end, I put everything that has five or more mentions into my personal blend. Having cooked enough, I know what proportions taste good to me - spice wise. Any non-spice blend recipe gets the common components averaged together - but that's another post for another time.

Here are the most common components in the most visited recipes:
Paprika (also Paprika, smoked; Paprika, sweet; Paprika, hot; either solo or combined with "Paprika, just")
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Black Pepper (white pepper was sometimes combined with this)
And that's it.

Other additions include (either solely or in combination):
Coconut Sugar
Chipotle Pepper
New Mexico Chili
Chili Powder
Mustard Powder

* Small grocery stores tend to stock only what sells on a regular basis. I'm not in the part of the world where "Blackened _______" is a regular thing.

** Pinch Cook's Guide to the Basics thinking here. I'm trying to figure out what spices are "basic" for the kitchen.

^ Yahoo!, Google, Bing, etc., all use different algorithms (aka: math thingies for ranking and identifying and behavior tracking) so If I want to be truly thorough, I plug the same search term into each engine.

^^ It's hard-ish to plagarize a recipe, but it can be done with a simple copy/paste function. Most people are honest, so I only have to look at 11 instances on rare occasions.

*^ that's the four upright lines crossed by a fifth one that angles from top left to bottom right across the "box" made by the four upright marks.
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I Got A Radar In My Pocket

While I hung onto my "does nothing but make calls" dumb phone for as long as I could, I have to say there are times that a smart phone is very nice to have. Take yesterday. I was on the road, driving for about six hours in an L-shaped round trip done in legs like a relay. However I was the only "runner" and my passenger, the "baton", only rode shotgun for half of it. The actual distance was a mile or three short/long of 300*, but where I live, "Distance In Time Elapsed" is a thing everyone understands and uses. Plus the six hours of driving time stretched into nine due to mandated rest periods where I waited on medical procedures, my sister's needs and/or the weather. It was six hours of active driving though. I have driven that route in five, but the road conditions on the way back didn't allow that. **

I don't mind driving long distances in the mid-west. In fact I quite enjoy it. (East and West coasters can stop looking at me like that. My eyes are more educated than yours. There is a lot of stuff to see out here.) I put an audio book on, set the cruise control, and let the high-speed tourism commence. On most drives, I spend the time gawking at crops, geology and bits of history. Drives like yesterday meant watching the sky more than the roadside attractions thanks to thunderstorms and tornadoes. You see, I grew up on a farm, and we watched the sky and weather forecasts religiously. Plus every so often, Dad would make a forecasting comment that helped me clue in to how he knew things like "snow by morning" even if there were no clouds in the sky at the time he made his prediction. A lifetime of watching and paying attention to cause/effect or precursor/event pairings in the sky has made me into a tolerable weather forecaster.

And that brings me to why I'm happy to have a smart phone. The second thing^ I did after buying it was install weather apps. Specifically MyRadar and Weather. Because of that, I was able to assure the patient in the chair next to my sister's, with a long drive ahead of her/her husband, that it was possible to avoid heavy rain and/or potential tornadoes if they waited an hour to 90 minutes before hitting the road. (The treatment center had the weather on.) However, the weather alerts broadcast on TV use static images of state/county lines, colored in and overlaid with trapezoids showing potential storm tracks. These are trapezoids that cover a minimum of five counties. These static maps are good for installing fear/caution, but bad for people having to accomplish things like driving. Having live radar in my pocket (literally) allowed me to drive around all the storm cells/heavy thunder storms/etc. that ran through the state/counties like a series of runaway freight trains.

Between my on-the-ground observations, knowing basic meteorological cause/effect/visual cues, and being able to read weather on a radar loop (thank you, NOAA.GOV for the lovely, lovely feeds), I knew I could out run one severe thunderstorm, dodge behind another and come in on the mostly-done-and-just-dripping-light-rain heels of a third that had spawned tornadoes in my destination town.

So with apologies to whichever anonymous poet wrote "A Rocket in My Pocket"... I've got a radar/in my car door^^;/ I'm on the road today./Away I go,/watching winds blow./A very busy day.

* I did not "map my ride." When adding up City,State to City, State mapquest.com distances it came to 297 miles. I did not include "in town driving" when figuring mileage or engage the "tripometer" on my car's odometer. The normal "distance" for this trip is five hours.

** Hydroplaning, bad. Going slow(er) so you're not water-skiing your car on 1/4 of a inch of standing water, good. (That tiny little bump you feel when driving on to/off of water is your car's tire treads transitioning from "traction. and. control." to "Wheeeeeeee! I'm sailin' on water like you slide on the ice!" and back.)

^ The first thing I did was to systematically go through and delete or disable every app, bell and whistle I neither wanted nor saw a need for. It took me over four hours to do that. Four. Plus. Hours. I was appaled. My early tech adopter friend, Dopple, was impressed. I'd gotten it as close to phone-only as I could and still be able to say "smart phone, with functioning apps". I think she has four, possibly five, screens worth of app icons. I have one. For the record, there is no way to go "just phone" on a smart phone and still have it make a call. Reader, I tried, and failed, to make my smart phone dumb. It has to do with battery life. (Some paranoia, but mostly battery life.) Dumb phones live magnitudes longer on one battery charge.

^^ Yes, yes. The radar was in my pocket the whole time. Slant rhyming is allowed with the thoughtful use of artistic licence.
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Amish Friendship Bread Followup

The bread turned out great. The normal recipe makes two loaves so I split the batter before I put the pudding in. One half-batch became butterscotch. The other became lemon poppyseed. I removed about half a cup of the starter to make carrot cake with it. (My google-fu occasionally takes me down a rabbit hole or three.) All of my experiments were very very tasty. The carrot cake was exceptional. I'm making that one again.

I'll also be making the butterscotch one again, and soaking it in s'moretini booze. (A mix of chocolate liquer and vodka.) This was a Firepit Friday thing. One of the attendees, Dopple, always brings new and interesting cocktails and/or alcohol for us to try. The s'moretini, her first offering, is veeeerrrrryyyy slowly disappearing one marshmallow fluff covered graham cracker at a time (I prefer pouring a shot of the mix and using it like a dipping sauce rather than drinking it straight out of a fluff and crumb rimmed glass. It's strong stuff.) Because I had all that cake/bread and all that booze, I thought "Why not see how butterscotch and chocolate taste together. It can't be that much different than rum cake."

I liked it. Second opinions are also welcomed. I offered a sample to Dopple. She takes a bite, thinks for a bit, checks her watch, and says. "I don't have to drive anywhere for another two hours. Make me a slice, too." A couple of days later, I try spiced rum (another Dopple contribution to Firepit Friday) with the lemon poppyseed. It was wonderful.

I also figured out why the word "Friendship" is in the recipe title. If you don't want to founder on quickbread, it's best to give one of the baked loaves away along with the containers of sourdough starter. Which brings me to my next mad scientist move. I'm pretty sure it's possible to do a fraction of a batch which would make "Amish Friendship Bread" into "Introvert's Antisocial Bread*." It would have all of the same flavors and processes, but it wouldn't make nearly as much.

I've already started on the experiement, too. Instead of giving away the starters, I froze them. A couple of days ago, I pulled one out of the freezer (they don't freeze solid, BTW) and let it thaw the day before yesterday. Sunday, I'll be playing in the kitchen again. Mwaaaahaaaahaaaahaaaa!

* AKA: Herman Doesn't Like You, AKA: Siegfried's Being Snooty. Another name for "Amish Friendship Bread is Herman bread. Watermelon Woman and I named my starter "Siegfried Schmedley". Because whimsy.