• I went looking for recipes online and followed a link to the web site for America’s Test Kitchen.  It turned out that the recipe was behind a paywall, covered by a pop-up explaining that at least a trial membership was required to access the full version of the page.  But in my experience that isn’t always true.  Often switching to text-only mode is all that’s needed to get to the content.  So I did that.  Here’s what the text version of the page said:

    Cupcake ipsum dolor sit amet chocolate bar halvah carrot cake donut.  Caramels chocolate bar donut cookie.  Halvah apple pie apple pie brownie donut cheesecake.  Powder sugar plum liquorice.  Jelly jelly beans candy.  Brownie muffin pastry cupcake cake dessert chocolate cake.  I love cake indeed.

  • Tracking a package:

    FEB 19 9:24 AM: Package left San Pablo, CA
    FEB 19 11:14 AM: Package arrived at Lathrop, CA
    FEB 20 2:03 AM: Package left Lathrop, CA
    FEB 20 3:25 AM: Package arrived at San Pablo, CA

    Well, at least now I know why the arrow in the UPS slogan goes around in a loop.

  • It is 2023.  Why am I still getting mail for the people who lived here in 2008?  Seriously, Evan, Phoebe⁠—you gotta fill out that change of address form.  It’s well past time.

  • Ellie and I had a “Berry Smash” soda at Bamboo Sushi that was extremely delicious but also extremely expensive, so I thought I’d try making it at home.  Cook down blackberries, raspberries, and sugar into a syrup, add some soda water, and squeeze in some fresh lime juice, right?  But it just wasn’t working: the soda was bitter unless I added a ton of syrup, and when I did that, the concoction was so syrup-heavy that it killed the bubbles.  But adding even a tiny splash of soda water turned it back into what was basically bitter, unflavored seltzer.  I thought that maybe I should use an already sweet lime soda as a base.  I did a search to see what lime sodas out there were recommended.  Here are the top three picks from findthisbest.com:

    • #3: Jarritos Soda, Lime: “a package of 24 bottles of soda with a lime flavor. Each unit count is 1.0 and the package weight is 18.298 kilograms. It is categorized as sodas.”

    • #2: BEEQ Stewart’s Key Lime Soda: “a cold-brewed draft soda made with sugar. It is a soda fountain favorite that comes in a pack of 12 glass bottles, each containing 12 fl oz.”

    • #1: Jorvet Soda Lime 3 Lb Bag: “a high-grade granular product that effectively absorbs carbon dioxide. It comes in a 3 lb bag and has a minimal dust level. The saturation indicator changes color from white to violet when it is time to replace the product. This soda lime is ideal for use in medical or veterinary settings where carbon dioxide absorption is needed.”

    This article is attributed to one Ashley Abels: “a former restaurant executive and has worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years. She is also a gourmet who loves tasting different cuisines and trying out all kinds of cooking methods. The food she writes about will make you want to try it!”  She certainly made me want to try the Jorvet Soda Lime 3 Lb Bag! Apparently the dust level is minimal!

  • Youtube started recommending that I watch videos about people playing Intellivision games.  When I was playing Intellivision games back in the early ’80s I had no real way to judge how good I was.  Apparently I was very good!  At least compared to these people.  Watching Bump ’N’ Jump was excruciating.  “Bump that car! Agh, you didn’t even try! Okay, hit that truck before you jump⁠—no, too late! Well, at least try to land on that van⁠—what are you doing? Why are you steering away from the van??”  Back in the day I would usually hit something like 50, 55 cars per level, and these guys in the videos were hitting, like, three.  Or Vectron⁠—everyone complained that it was impossible to get past about level two.  I got to level ten pretty regularly!  And I think I still have the muscle memory to get similar scores⁠—like, as I watched these videos, I could feel that my fingers knew what to do.  Make me play with arrow keys and I’m pretty meh, but give me a controller (with the joystick attachment I used back in the day) and I bet I could wreak some havoc.

  • I cannot stop myself from looking both ways before crossing one-way streets.  Like, it’s not absent-mindedness.  I con­sciously think, “There is no need to look to the left. Traffic can only come from the right.”  But my feet will not move until I look to the left.  Just in case.

  • We’ve had a number of “atmospheric river” events this winter, and my street keeps losing power.  Not the street one block west, not the street one block east, not even the same street one block north⁠—just my block of my street.  Usually the lights come back on after a couple of hours.  But on the afternoon of March 21 major swaths of the East Bay lost power, and we didn’t get our electricity back for a couple of days.  My laptop’s battery was dead, so in order to be able to say good night to Ellie and explain why I had been offline all evening, I needed to find a place with both wifi and a work­ing electrical outlet that was open at 11:30 p.m.  Eventually I found a spot: the bathroom of a Safeway that hadn’t lost power.  Apparently the Safeway bathroom is very popular at 11:30 p.m.!  I could only stay for a few minutes because people kept pounding on the door.  In the morning, I reloca­ted to the in-store Starbucks at a Target that still had power and recharged the rest of the way, but I couldn’t teach my online classes from there and I had one scheduled for 1 p.m.  I went cruising for businesses that had free wifi accessible from parking spots out front so I could teach from my car, and I found one: a Citibank.  Great, so I had a plan with over an hour to spare!  My car was low on gas, in part because I’d had to occasionally drive around for a bit during the night in order to warm up: my apartment had no heat and even with lots of blankets I was freezing.  I decided to gas up to kill some time.  So I did that.  On my way out, I had to squeeze past a car that had stopped directly in front of me, and I didn’t see how close I was to the curb in front of the gas station’s mini-mart.  My tire blew, and on the flat I couldn’t go very far⁠—back to my house was all I could manage.  But I know how to change a tire, so I looked in my trunk.  There I found a note from Honda saying that my car was not equipped with a spare tire, but they had supplied some sealant.  I found the box of sealant.  The sealant inside had leaked out, sealing the box to the tool kit.  So my car was officially out of commission.  I started walking.

    And that is how I wound up teaching a 90-minute class while sitting on the sidewalk in front of a Citibank halfway across town.

  • After the power came back on, I went back to that Safeway (which was in walking distance, unlike my beloved Berkeley Bowl) to replace some of the food that had spoiled while the power was out.  I guess a lot of people were in the same fix, because the line was extremely long.  Eventually I finally made it near the front.  The only person in front of me was an old man with a big white beard sticking out from under his mask.  He bought his items.  The cashier gave him a receipt.  The register was near the end of the roll, because the receipt had a red stripe running down the middle.  “This is hard to read,” the old man complained.

    The cashier responded by unloading the remaining register tape and installing a new roll.  She printed him up a new receipt.  “I don’t think you scanned all my coupons,” the old man complained.  Together they went over his receipt, line by line.  It took about ten minutes.  Eventually the Safeway manager finally did open a couple of additional checkout stations, but the people far behind me in line rushed to them, and I was still stuck behind the old man.  At long last, the discrepancy was identified, and the cashier keyed in a chargeback for… three dollars.

    The old man took his three dollars and immediately went over to the machine that dispensed lottery tickets.

    He did not win.

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