December 15th, 2002

Mountains

Listen, Kid...

Things I'm really gonna do today:
  • mail some cards.
  • make some cookies.
  • stop chasing this computer-generated-terrain bugaboo for the next 24 hours


I've decided to limit myself to as little as 4 batches of cookies this season. I might not make them all today, in fact probably not. But I'll get started on them, and that will be good. The recipies that came out on top this year were: Chocolate Crinkles, Snickerdoodles, Sugar Cookies, and (of course) Brune Kaker. I have no idea how widespread the Brune Kaker recipe is; I've only ever seen them made in my family. But they're a vanilla cookie (although perhaps not in in both senses of the term described here). And the recipe calls for golden syrup and Vanillin Sucker, both of which I have this year.

During that process, I'll get the cards out of the way, and then perhaps let my mind return to 'fractal forgeries of brownian landscapes'. I've once again picked up Mandelbrot's book, "The Fractal Geometry of Nature", and it's got pretty pictures and a lot of math in it. I find myself wanting to flip through the book, stop when I see a pretty picture, and then read the nearby pages, but the math builds on itself (in that way that math does) to an extent that to really comprehend what Mandelbrot is saying about the creaseless generation of terrain features, I need to back up pretty much to the beginning of the book to learn the language that he's using.

But! The good news is that I believe that I'm pretty close to a scheme that I'm happy with for a first pass of the generation of terrain on spheres (or, if I wanted to, donuts, or candycanes...). Erosion comes after that, and I just this morning had an insight that much of the process of eroion is influenced by temperature (e.g. both 'thermal erosion', which involves breaking bits off of rocks to simulate what happens when bits of rock are heated and cooled, as well as that other kind of erosion, which is where water picks up bits of rock and holds it in solution or suspension as the water goes down the mountain). And temperature partially correlates to altitude. And that, my friend, is one piece of explaining why lowland valleys are smooth and mountaintops are pointy.

One last thought. I had a dream last night. I was taking a tour of Penn (of Penn & Teller) Gillette's house. Just me and the big guy, walking around. And in my dream, it was even more ridiculously huge than it actually is. (Not that I've been on a tour, but TiVo keeps recording entertainment specials where somebody who's never seen a P&T show visits Penn's house and gets creeped out.) Anyway, I ask Penn for a job, cause hey, he's a geek and might be an interesting boss. I was seriously thinking of sending Penn a resume at a much earlier point in my life. Penn shoots me down, and gave me a few thoughts, one of which was essentially: "When the goat falls in the squid tank, you don't worry about the squid."
  • Current Mood
    inspired
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(no subject)

Made 4 batches of cookie dough, baked 3 batches of cookies, leaving one batch of dough in the fridge to firm up to be cut into festive Christmas shapes, like bones, cars, and dinosaurs.

Does anybody else out there use golden syrup in any recipes? Can I switch it for, perhaps, Karo syrup? I ask because my favorite cookie recipe calls for this, and it's not always easy to find. I think that the next time I'm feeling like baking and I'm feeling experimental, I'll try Karo syrup.

One issue with baking infrequently is that you make stupid mistakes now and then. One benign one was that I had undercalculated the amount of butter I needed to buy (one cup of butter = 2 sticks, whoops), so I had to go back to the store. And heck, while I was going into town anyway, I stopped and watched the Star Trek movie. I think that it was about right, but that's all I'll say.

The other baking slipup that I had was that as I was mixing up my third batch of dough, I must have read "baking powder" and put in baking soda. I only noticed this as I was finishing up my fourth batch of dough and I still hadn't opened the baking powder. The cookies still taste like cookies. They may end up inedible by tomorrow, which will mean that I bring them in to work without fanfare, hopefully anybody that breaks a tooth won't trace the offending cookie back to me.

Time to slouch on the couch and see if I can get these cards going.
  • Current Music
    Fanfare for the Common Man, by Emerson, Lake and Palmer
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Random cooking stuff that I've discovered makes me happy

  • Measuring flour by weight - once I figured out that 4 cups of flour should be around 14 1/4 oz, the act of pouring flour into a big bowl on a digital scale gave me indescribable glee.
  • My apron and dishtowel - some will not be surprised to know that I have a cow-print apron. Or that I still have the apron. Happen to be wearing it right now, cause I'm lazy that way. You can put a dishtowel in the pocket and have the convenience of wiping your hands on your pants without subjecting your friends to pantsborne disease.
  • My mixer - it's big and red and shiny. It handles cold butter well. There's something magical about taking a clean mixing bowl out of the dishwasher.
  • Ramekins - I might be misspelling that, and I'm nearly sure that the thing that I really dig that I put sugar in to roll the cookies around in is in fact, not a ramekin, but just a small bowl. But the word's such a fun one to say. Try it yourself.


I'm sure I could think of more, but at this point, I'm just procrastinating those darned holiday cards.