Posts tagged ‘pie’


Woot woot!

Graphs from NaNoWriMo, showing a steadish 2,000 words per day from the 1st to the 25th of November.

Kept the ol’ 2,000 words per day pretty constant during NaNoWriMo, except for a couple of days off that I made up for on the next weekend, so I made the goal of 50,000, and not by coincidence the end of the story, right there on the 25th (which was, let’s see, yeah, yesterday!). A nice feeling.

I think I like this year’s rather a lot. The little Midjourney pictures at the start of each Fling (where “Flings” really turned out to be Chapters) was fun, but I think not ultimately transformative; not a big deal. A few plot elements, some important, (the libraries, the plants, the fast sharp ships) came from the images, but without the images something else would I expect have sprung to mind and perhaps carried the same basic ideas, about meaning, and communication, identity and the symbol-grounding problem.

As a reminder; the whole thing can be read in order by clicking on the cover page here, and then clicking the bold link at the bottom of each Fling. I may be going through and fixing a few errors between now and the end of the month (although the relative inconvenience of doing that in WordPress may limit how much I do).

In other news, I’ve been on Twitter less, and on Mastodon / Fediverse more, prompted by the gross antics of the billionaire narcissist, but continuing just because it’s a more interesting place, with (so far?) more interesting and less upsetting communication going on. (It could be argued that given the State of Things, one ought to be upset; but so far I think the argument is flawed.)

I’ve been making tons and tons of images on Midjourney still (getting up near 20,000, the system tells me!) and they are still constantly improving the engine(s), which is very cool. I’ve been posting some of them on PixelFed (roughly, PixelFed is to Instagram as Mastodon is to Twitter), and also still on Twitter (the same ones, mostly). I have enough pictures that I love to fill many, many weblog posts, and I’m sure such posts will appear.

Here’s just one image for now that’s a total favorite; it’s called “Accord”:

A woman with a very long neck in foreground just left of center, looking to our right. Her hair extends fractally into infinity upper left. An infinite line of smaller women in dark clothes, all looking in the same direction, extends from her shoulder to the right, where a tower is dimly present through fog and insects. Two more of the smaller women stand behind her, eyes closed.

Is that amazing, or what? He said modestly.

In the legal domain, there is talk of a class-action suit against Microsoft / GitHub / OpenAI / Copilot, on something like the claim that training an AI on a piece of code requires the appropriate license from the owner of that code (or equivalent, as for public domain code or code you wrote yourself). The possibility of implications for AI art tools like Midjourney, and AI text generators like NovelAI, is clear, although there may also be significant differences. For instance, there seem to be various examples of exact plagiarism by Copilot, whereas as far as I’m aware no such thing exists for say Midjourney or NovelAI.

(There was at least one person persistently spamming Twitter and Reddit with a copy-pasted claim that GPT-3 plagiarizes, pointing at various things on the web that did not actually show, or generally even claim, that. I can’t find them today; perhaps OpenAI’s lawyers sent them a letter. Similarly I’ve been told by one person on Twitter (and at least one other who agreed with them) that for “[a]lmost all pieces I’ve seen thus far, I can point at and name the elements that came from individual artists, and often individual paintings or works”, but when I expressed interest and asked for a concrete example, they said roughly “I’ll get back to you tonight” and then went silent.)

It will be interesting to see what happens with this lawsuit. Somewhat sadly, I think that:

  • The most likely outcome is that they’ll just lose, because Microsoft is rich and individual Open Source contributors, even as a class, aren’t rich,
  • Second most likely, Microsoft will give some symbolic amount of money to something that will benefit some Open Source contributors a little and some lawyers a lot, and there will be no precedent-setting court decision,
  • Less likely, after some long wrangling process, something like the Private Copying Levy might be worked out, which is sort of like that last bullet, but more codified and involving more money, and possibly a precedent that there is a copyright violation at least potentially involved,
  • Even less likely, there would be some kind of opt-out process whereby a creator could indicate they didn’t want their stuff used to train AIs, and makers of AI engines would have to like re-generate their neural nets annually without the opted-art works,
  • And at the bottom, perhaps fairest in some sense but also least likely, a straightforward finding that AI Engine makers, at least ones that make money, really do need the right to copy and/or prepare derivative works of the things they train their engines on. So we’d get engines trained on just public domain works, things out of copyright, things posted under sufficiently permissive licenses, things they explicitly license, and so on. I would be fine with this, myself, but I wouldn’t bet on it happening.

We’ll see!

What else? That’s the main things I can think of. Oh, yeah, Thanksgiving was very nice; the four of us and the little daughter’s SO. We were (I was) especially lazy this year; beyond the HelloFresh pre-planned ingredients that we’ve used the last couple of years, this year we got the pre-planned pre-cooked just-needs-warming version from FreshDirect (ETOOMUCHFRESH). It wasn’t bad! And certainly easy. :) We also bought pre-made apple and pumpkin pies. I resist feeling guilty!!

Also my Windows laptop is broken (I’m not sure why or how; it behaves like a bad storage device, but both the HDD and the SSD seem perfectly readable when stuck into external USB things). Whatever’s wrong with it inside, it’s also vaguely falling apart, with cracked and broken keys, a non-functional direct Ethernet connection (on all connectors somehow), and some other stuff.

So I have an exciting new Framework laptop coming as an early Solstice present! (It’s supposedly in Alaska right now, on the way here in under a week or so.) Inspired, like so many other people, by Cory Doctorow’s glowing review. We’ll see if I am frustrated by the Intel graphics chipset. I’m pretty optimistic, as what I want to run isn’t like the latest AAA game; more like WoW and SecondLife and the GIMP and No Man’s Sky and Satisfactory. I might have to turn the resolution down some at worst I expect.

(In the meantime I’ve been using my phone and this tiny cheap Samsung Chromebook and just not using any of those programs; turns out my life doesn’t depend on any of them! The thing I’m most eager to do is get the GIMP going to work on Part 3 of Klara; in theory I could enable Linux on the Chromebook here and run the GIMP in that, but I rather doubt its CPU is up to it. Just typing this into the WordPress editor is lagging significantly just because I’m also watching YouTube and have a few dozen Chrome tabs open including like Discord and Mastodon and…)

There! :) Thanks for coming, and enjoy.


Mushroom, Apple, and Cherry Pie

So on Christmas itself (which was I think just yesterday) we had all the traditional stuffs, including presents and a nice and relatively simple ham dinner. On a whim I got a Sweet Potato Pie from the grocery, and that was good (and less work). And experimentally I prepared the partly-computer-generated Mushroom Pie from All Reality.

The thing that delighted me most, perhaps, was that I grabbed the wrong bottle at first, and ended up cooking a cup of mushrooms in brown sugar, corn starch, and Ricard anise pastis, which apparently smelled rather memorable. The little daughter noticed I’d grabbed the wrong bottle, and so I did it again with rum per the recipe (see below), but ending up with a cup of mushrooms cooked in licorice liqueur on the side was definitely a highlight. As I pointed out on the Twitters, if one had just paid say $32 for them at a fancy restaurant, one would say “oh, these are exquisite”.

For those who somehow haven’t memorized the recipe, or even somehow haven’t read the book (I’m kidding here; probably no one has read the book), here it is:

Farmer McDowell’s recipe for her famous Midpoint Mushroom, Apple, and Sour Cherry Pie

1 pie shell, to bakea pie
1/3 cup brown or molasses sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup rum
1 cup morel or similar mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Qualification sour cherries
2 Midpoint green apples, sliced thinly
1 hen’s egg, beaten
1/2 cup nuts or as you will

Heat the oven to 375°F or Mark 5.

While the pie shell is baking, heat together the brown sugar, cornstarch, and rum in a small saucepan. Cook until they are smooth and bubbling. Add the morels and cook until they’re tender. Let it cool slightly.

When the oven is up to temperature, remove the pie shell, and fill with the brown sugar rum morel mixture. Top with the cherries, apples, egg, and any nuts. Bake for another 30 minutes, until the egg is set and the top is golden.

As I’ve mentioned somewhere or other else recently, I don’t remember how much of this was me and how much was GPT-3 the AI. I think I gave it the title, it produced a version of the ingredients and instructions, and I adjusted the language but not the underlying recipe (i.e. the same amounts and basic ingredients and steps).

Half-baking the pie shell first was a bit odd; the edges folded in on themselves a bit. That may have been my own lack of experience in baking an empty pie shell though.

If you cook the mushrooms in the rum and cornstarch for long enough, it rather suddenly stops having any liquid in it, and becomes rather tender mushrooms coated with a thick sweet rum glaze, which is interesting. Stopping a bit before that might have resulted in there being more moisture for the apples especially to participate in later on.

I didn’t have morels, which might have produced a (what?) smokier flavor, but the baby Portabellas that I lazily got pre-sliced from the grocers worked fine. I didn’t have Qualification Sour Cherries, as they are fictional, or any sour cherries for that matter, but random red cherries also worked fine. Similarly about 1.75 Granny Smith apples worked in place of the Midpoint Greens. I didn’t add any nuts.

The result is interesting, somewhere between a pie and a tart, with a novel layer on the bottom, and then cherries and slightly dried-out apple slices with random bits of them coated with cooked egg on top. It might have worked better to mix the cherries and apple slices and egg all together for a more even coating, or even to mix everything with the rum and mushroom mixture before putting into the crust.

As it was, the cherries and apples were good, but I thought rather in a “one might just as well have eaten the ingredients separately” sort of way. Although they did go well with the rum and mushroom part, flavor-wise. The little daughter, who has standards and does not mince words, said that she thought it was pretty good, so that’s basically a triumph.


Christmas Eve, 2020

Continuing the tradition of recent years, of doing various New Year things at Christmas time instead, we made 158 dumplings today. This compares plausibly to the mere 113 in late 2019, the 161 in early 2018, and so on, back to say the 140 in 2007 and so on back into the Time of Mists.

some Chinese-style dumplings on trays waiting to be boiled(We also gathered a new statistic, and determined that between the four of us, now all nominally adults for some years, we ate just about 107 of them for dinner. We are rather full. Probably any dessert will have to wait.)

Yesterday we made the Christmas Cookies, using a recipe card from Sherbrooke Village in Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia, that has inter alia a hand-written note at the bottom saying to save a certain reindeer-shaped cookie for Christmas Day, in 1996.

Which was like ten years ago, right?

Tomorrow we’ll be Opening Presents, making a nice modest ham dinner, eating (store-bought, woot!) Sweet Potato Pie, and being amused by my attempt to bake Farmer McDowell’s Famous Midpoint Mushroom, Apple, and Sour Cherry Pie, from a computer-generated recipe in my 2020 NaNoWriMo novel. We don’t have any sour cherries (is that even a thing?) but I have the feeling that that’s not going to be the main snag. :)

A small Christmas tree on a tableWe have the pretty little artisanal tree up on a table this year, where it looks rather nice, and the usual Christmas playlists are playing on the stereo from various Apple and Android devices. The stockings, also, are hung by the chimney with care!

We’re very lucky to have all four of us together, having been able to take sufficient precautions and exercise sufficient waiting periods to be comfortable being together in the house without regard to distance. Kind and underpaid people bring various things and put them on the front porch, and we tip generously, if not sufficiently.

I am on vacation for quite awhile, because I booked it before I realized that the new employer (new as in a mere seven or so years now) doesn’t do anything special to vacation days at the end of a year. So I needn’t have, but it’s nice.

The world is strange. I have been paying altogether too much attention to the vile acts of the outgoing President, and to the various crackpot theories of those of his remaining followers who either believe or just loudly declare that he will continue to be President after January 20th. Fortunately this seems unlikely, but it will be a great relief when he is finally and thoroughly out of power. I could write quite a bit about all of that, but at the moment I don’t think it would be healthy.

It has been such a year, for so many people. I’ve suffered comparatively little, as I undeservedly tend to; many other people have suffered undeservedly much more. There are so many hopeful signs at the moment that I almost dare to be optimistic. But I’m going to try to resist that until say February, and just Hang In There and tip well in the meantime.

I miss Manhattan! As I may have mentioned before, I have snuck in for a day on my own just wandering around (and avoiding Indoor Dining) a couple of times during this Very Long Month of March, but at the moment it doesn’t look like a terrific idea this month. We went in the other day to pick up the little daughter, the boy and I did, but didn’t even get out of the car to speak of.

Get those vaccines distributing! I want to ride a crowded subway train, sit crammed into a corner table listening to live jazz, drop into a familiar bagel store for the first time and get an onion bagel with whitefish (not toasted).

I may go for a long drive in the suburban countryside sometime in the next several days, just to see things I haven’t seen recently, and get a feeling of movement.

And I should meditate! This is almost always true. :) Meditation and sleep have in common that they are easy to do, and I love doing both of them, and also tend to put off both for as long as possible. The main difference being that sleep is much more insistent.

Blessed Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Holidays, and Bonus Novus Annus to all!

Here’s to a very different 2021. <3


Jingle Bells!

Wow it has been forever since I posted content (“content”) here! And it seems like I say that every time I post content! And probably I say that every time I post content as well! Tradition.

So this year we made a mere 113 dumplings. They were on average larger than usual, is our impression, perhaps due to the little boy having taken over the skin-rolling duties from his mother this year. Larger dumplings should mean comparatively more use of filling (see square-cube law), but regardless of that “should” we also had considerable filling left over (so probably we just didn’t make as much dough). There is now a small container of filling in the refrigerator, offering the prospect of “burgers!” as the little daughter put it.

The 113 dumplings are fewer than the 161 at the beginning of 2018; shockingly, there seems to be no record of the number we made at the beginning of 2019. Scientists baffled and all.

We are doing Christmas Things a day early, and sort of folding in some New Years Things too, because due to adulthood and things one or more of the children have to leave tomorrow (the 25th) and won’t necessarily be here for the 1st. We’ve done dumplings (yesterday) and present-opening (today) and currently we are playing with presents and I am baking pies (not that anyone asked for pies, but I wanted to make some so there).

I got a lovely little note from a long-time reader saying that my solstice letter from eight years ago is part of their family tradition; that made me feel warm and validated!

We were talking about the experience of remembering some entire significant thing from earlier in one’s life that one had until then entirely forgotten about (because it sort of figures in the 2019 NaNoWriMo novel, of which perhaps more below), and the little daughter said that that can happen with books or movies or games that one experienced a long time ago, because they are both significantly large pieces of experience, and also things that it’s not hard to accidentally forget.

And in that vein she suggested a game that at least some of us had obsessed over significantly years ago involving these little like animals or monkeys or something that you had to take care of, and after blanking on it for a bit it suddenly came back to me in a perfect example of the phenomenon we were talking about, where you suddenly remember an entire piece of, basically, yourself that had once been important but you hadn’t thought about in years.

It turns out the game was called “Creatures” and the little animals or monkeys or whatever are called “Norns”, and I was quite obsessed with their behavior and learning and genetics and things (which were represented quite explicitly in the game, which is what made it so obsessable-about). I looked around online and found that there is an actual page about me in an ancient wiki about the game, which points into the Creatures pages that I used to maintain on the AOL (hahaha) user web pages, but which are now gone.

I looked around on various hard drives (“hard drives”) in the house here for nested “from the old computer” directories that might go back to 1997 or so (before the original weblog started!), but didn’t find anything (I think there’s at least one laptop lying around gathering dust that’s still nominally waiting for me to copy all of the content off of it to a more recent machine; I should use The Cloud!).

Well after turning off the lights last night, though, I thought of One More Thing To Try, and lo and behold here is a copy of those pages in the amazing Internet Archive (I gave them money; you should too!). It turns out that I was indeed quite into all that stuff, down to file formats and long amusing stories about my Norns and their genetic mutations and all.

I should figure out how to restore a tree of pages from the Archive back to disk, and put them onto the Modern Web somewhere.

Because no information should ever be lost! Even though that’s impossible!

I did finish a novel this November! I’m even pretty happy with it. For complicated reasons not worth going into here I’m not going to post a link to it immediately, but it’s done and it’s over 50,000 words, and that’s pretty cool. It starts out with something on the radio reminding Our Hero of the time he first moved into the house outside Pittsburgh that he lived in for awhile, but on the other hand he’s never lived in a house outside Pittsburgh, so that’s odd.

This connected to the whole idea of suddenly remembering things that did in fact happen, but you’d just forgotten, and onward to the ancient Norns.

The world continues otherwise pretty much unchanged. I commute into the city about four days a week, and work happily for a company that I am at the moment a bit worried about (I mean, wth?), on an island that is pretty much the center of the universe by all completely objective measures. The kids are adulting to various extents, living not here but at least in other places in the State of New York so we see them pretty often.

I am working on getting the Legion Class Mount on my Prot Paladin, which is made easier by the fact that he’s level 120 and the Legion content is intended for level 110 characters (and pally tanks are way OP anyway). I already have the Class Mounts for Rogue, Hunter, Demon Hunter, Death Knight and ummm maybe that’s it I forget. (Oh, wait, and Monk. And Priest.)

I don’t go into Second Life much these days except to feed the cats (yes, I seem to possess a small finite number of virtual cats which require virtual food which costs virtual money which is acquired mostly with real money, which is a brilliant setup by the creators of said cats and food). Sometimes I think I should cut back on my land and things in SL, which also cost real money, but even though I don’t go in very often, it still feels like a part of me somehow, so I don’t.

  • I got an espresso maker for Christmas (Solstice), so now I can make espresso!
  • I got also various other things, no less appreciated for not being listed explicitly here!

I am rather constantly on Twitter; it’s quite an addictive thing in the potentially dangerous “lots of little squirts of validation at somewhat unpredictable intervals” way. But I’m finding it also a good way to get news without having to actually consume much media directly, which involves the risk of accidentally seeing Donald Trump speak or something.

(I think one of the reasons I haven’t weblogged much is that it seems like talking about anything but the current threats to the world from various powerful evil people (Trump, McConnell, Johnson, Putin, etc, etc) is beside the point, given the importance of the things that they are threats to; but I have convinced myself that at least for this one day Solstice-Season day I can do that.)

I’ve also bought for myself a little Zafu (a Zen meditation cushion; the label says “Yoga meditation pillow”, but I think it will still work) and a Zabuton (well, a little blanket) to put under it, which I am hoping and assuming will lead me to actually meditate more (I am getting so much more comfortable with the word “meditate! I think that is good!) rather than having a sitting practice that consists primarily of not sitting.

Picture of a small artisanal Christmas tree with lights and presents underneath, and to the left is a Zafu sitting on a folded blanket for a Zabuton.

Here (somewhere around here) is a picture of the little artisanal Christmas tree and some presents under it, and then to the left my Zafu and Zabuton, so far only briefly test-driven and not used for actual Sitting, in the sense that “actual Sitting” is a thing.

(Ooops, the timer went off, so I have to go check the pumpkin pie; I will put up the picture after I check it. Although you will see it before that. Or, really, after that. You know.)

(The pie needs probably five more minutes. On the other hand by the time I figure out how to get WordPress to flow text around an image, it’s going to be done. Ha, apparently you just “Align Right”; simpler than I expected with all of these “blocks” and “groups and things lurking about. I’d like to get rid of the top padding or whatever that is and have the top of the image align with the top of the text on the first paragraph of text to the left, but, as they say, whatever. Or maybe that’s just an edit-mode thing, and it will look how I want once it’s published. Or!)

We are somewhat startled to discover that this pumpkin pie recipe is twenty years old. Good Heavens? On the other hand, what’s twenty years, really? Next we will work on the chocolate silk pie, which we have already made the crust for (and wow is it nothing like the even round uniform crust on that web page there). And perhaps Christmas Cookies later on.

So I will probably go off and do that soon. What else shall I leave you, devoted reader, with? I’ve been reviewing books that I finish now and then; see for instance me on GoodReads and I guess me on Amazon (I have the vague impression that GoodReads and Amazon share book reviews, unless they don’t, except sometimes).

Happy Solstice and Other Winter Holiday of Your Choice, and Happy New Year! May we all be blessed, and realize that we are. Maybe I will write again here some day!


Happy Christmas to All!

A Happy Christmas and greetings of the Season to all of my good Readers! The Queen’s Message has just finished, and we are sitting by the Tree, listening to Traditional Carols being played upon the stereo-phonic system, with a pie crust heating in the oven for Chocolate Silk Pie in the French mode later on, with the Ham Dinner.

This year I have received Gifts that spring from the Profligate Bosom of Technology! M has given me a bound copy of Robert Hooke’s “Micrographia”, as published by the Royal Society in September to General Acclaim. It is quite an astonishing volume; I admit I have been “looking at the pictures” primarily, rather than reading the text, but it is clear just how revolutionary a piece of work this is, opening whole new worlds to human examination, and whole new channels in the human psyche.

From the Little Daughter, a selection of knit “sweaters”, including two open ones in the style of the Earl of Cardigan, that she assures me are popular with the “hipsters” in her set. I am wearing one now, and if I say so myself it is both agreeable to the eye, and significantly Warming.

In my “Christmas stocking”, I also found an Eight Gigabyte USB Key, in the style of Swiss Army Knives (from Victorinox, the Original Makers). This offers enough “memory”, I should think, to contain a detailed narrative of my own Life, and for that matter most of the History of the Universe. Quite an amazing bauble for one’s key-ring!

And less Technologicially, I also have a new Messenger Bag for carrying things in, and a Quantity of Chocolate, as is traditional. :)

As it says in Clement Moore’s verse, which also in accord with Tradition I read aloud to the family last night (notwithstanding the eye rolls of the teen-agers): Happy Christmas to all!

(And to all, after Dinner, a Good Night!)


And here I am…

… composing a really tiny weblog post, from the iPad, using the special wordpress iPad app (“app”), rather than the web page via Safari.

It works better! Which isn’t surprising, but… shouldn’t safari have worked right in the first place?

Back in the old days of (wow what was it even called?) the special quasi-HTML just for cellphones, I opined that it would be short-lived, because cellphones would just get smart enough to do normal HTML; and I was pretty much right.

It’s more complex for “apps” of course, they aren’t just about being lighter weight, but also about being friendlier, better-behaved. But still, why not just have the website work?

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