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I have a new job, and I'm moving to CA

As of today, I'm now working full-time for Barnes & Noble in their Palo Alto offices as a Program Manager for nook.

The plan:
1. Find a 2br apartment somewhere between Palo Alto and San Jose in the next 7 days.
2. During the first week of Feb., hire a moving company and ship my stuff to California.
3. Over the first weekend of Feb, drive my car down to CA.
4. Buy new furniture/unpack.
5. Fly back to Seattle and perform maintenance on my townhouse until it is ready to rent.
6. Post a for-rent for the townhouse
7. Get a tenant.
8. Done.
After only three hours of struggling, I managed to get my xbox connected to the internet!  Really, it wasn't meant to connect to hotel-style wifi where you need to log into a browser and accept the terms/conditions before being granted access.

The basic instructions are here: http://sacramentocomputerhelp.com/xbox360answers.html#troubleshooting.  At first, I seemed to have to reshare my wifi connection every time I turned on my xbox, but that seemed to disappear later on.  I'll have to see if that's really the case.  I was able to get general connectivity fairly easily, but it only gave me three tabs, and didn't give me any of the cool stuff like marketplace or netflix.  This was due to error 80072ee2, which basically indicates that it doesn't have access to all the ports it requires.  A handy post from Microsofot told me what ports Xbox required.  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/908874/

I tried opening the ports through internet connection sharing, but that didn't seem to be the problem.  I then tried a port scanner and found that several of the ports were blocked by what I thought was Wayport (the wifi internet provider at the apartments I'm staying at).  I looked around a bit and found a list of ports that they claimed to be blocking and I should have been fine.  I then remembered that (duh!) my computer has a firewall.  So I opened the ports in the firewall, but no luck there either.

Finally I did the unthinkable and just turned off the firewall.  Yep, that worked.  So I sat down and watched an hour of netflix while (theoretically) zillions of hackers compromised my system.  

I'll have to play with it a bit more tonight to see if I can put the firewall back up and still have everything working. 

Heading down to Palo Alto on Monday

Work is sending me to the Bay Area for the next two weeks (8/17 - 8/28 to be exact).  I'll be staying in Mountain View.  Anyone want to meet up at some point?

Food allergy safe baking

Puffin is on a diet to see if she has any food allergies. That set me on a quest for a wheat free, egg free, dairy free, soy free, corn free, potato free, sugar free Bread. Because, you know, I like challenges.

The details...Collapse )

Fun with eye exams

I had my eye exam today.  Nothing terribly new.  A bit of astigmatism in my left eye, otherwise everything is the same as it was 3 years ago.

Except for the technology. 

Three years ago they would use a little machine that 'puffed' into your eye to test glaucoma.  Now they use a machine that actually touches your eyeball to measure the pressure inside your eye.  It's non-contact tonometry vs. contact tonometry.  And with contact tonometry, you get special drops that contain an anesthetic to numb your eyeball so you don't feel it when the machine touches your eyeball.

Anyway, either the machine, or one of the components of the drops (Flourescein, a fluourescent dye, and Proparacaine, an anesthetic) resulted in some side effects.

After the exam, I spent about 30 minutes picking out frames for glasses.  Then I drove to work.  While driving to work, I started feeling a little nauseous.  I thought it was just my stomach, so I decided to stop and a grocery store and get some bland food to settle it.  It got worse once I got into the store.  I eventually got to work and figured out that a) light was really bothering me (duh, my eyes were dilated), and b) whenever I focused on something new, I would get nauseous.  Well, in the car I was mostly focusing on the car in front of me, so it was sort of mild.  Once I got to the store, I was focusing on this or that, looking around, etc, so it got worse.

I called the doctor, but got put through to his voicemail.  I then drove home, which wasn't too bad.  When I finally got onto my couch (after getting a sleeping mask to keep the light out) I started feeling a little better, until a big wave of dizziness hit.  It eventually went away.

Finally the doctor called (after about 2.5 hours) and he said sometimes people react to Flourescein/Proparicaine drops.  Usually it's in the form of fainting, though, but nausea is one of the ways it can manifest.  I'm glad nothing else happened to make it worse when I was driving home.

So, um, yeah, fun with eye exams today.  First time I've ever had a reaction like that. 

A burst of activity and the dentist.

In a surprising burst of activity, yesterday I got the ball rolling on a mortgage refinance (courtesy of Mr. Obama's "Making Homes Affordable" initiative), scheduled a dental appointment (it's been 3 years, basically since I bought my new house and haven't gotten around to finding a new dentist), and scheduled an eye exam (um, same reason as dental).  Part of that was brought about because we've had a lot of layoffs at work and I just want to get some of these things out of the way before I lose my insurance.  Not sure what inspired the loan refinance, other than I've wanted to do it for close to a year now.

Today was the dental cleaning.  They have some new technology that I hadn't seen before:  ultrasonic scaling (to remove tartar buildup) and digital x-rays.  I got to see my xrays displayed on a monitor on one of those dental arms that comes out of the ceiling.  Judging from those, most of the teeth in my mouth are made up of > 50% amalgam. 

I go back tomorrow for a scaling/root cleaning to help prevent periodontal disease.  And after that, they want me to replace several teeth (five, I think) with crowns.  Of those five, one had a continued cavity growth underneath an existing filling, and there was less than 30% of the original tooth left (or so the chart says).  A second is next to a 'food trap' (I always get chicken stuck in there... gross!) so when they make the crown, they can try to eliminate the food trap.  The other three seemed to not be for a particular reason, but all were noted that less than 30% of original tooth remained.  It was noted that this was long-term treatment plan, like maybe over the next three years. I guess if there were something seriously wrong, they'd insist on fixing it right away, yeah?

I'm fine with the scaling/root cleaning, but I now feel like maybe the dentist is having me do unnecessary procedures with all of these crowns.  Or maybe they are necessary... at some point..  Sigh...  I sort of feel like I might want to get a second opinion on that. 
M&M's eldest son, m, has an egg allergy. I'm always up for a baking challenge, so I decided to try baking some good egg-free chocolate chip cookies.

I searched around to find a variety of different egg replacements. I settled on five, of which I tested four.

A. 1 egg = 1/4 C whole milk, + 1 t vegetable oil, + 1 t baking powder
B. 1 egg = 1/4 C no-sugar added apple sauce
C. 1 egg = 1/4C scalded whole milk (according to Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking", this alters milk serum protiens that would otherwise interact with flour proteins to produce a slack dough)
D. 1 egg = 1/4C water + 1/2t Xanthan gum
E. 1 egg = 1T vinegar + 1t baking soda

I tried A, B, C and D, and then fed them Swami, Puffin, and M&M. The results were:

A. Most visually pleasing. Cookies spread further than normal, but had a normal "melted" appearance. Taste was pretty good. Overall, the cookie was softer/moister than normal, almost as if it wanted to be cooked a bit more. Still this was the preferred cookie. (Incidently, both M&M thought that "A" was the apple sauce). This was Swami and M's favorite

B. Visually, the cookie did not spread, or melt very well. It had peaks visible from the shape of the dropped cookie dough. The appearence hinted that the cookie would be dry, but it was nicely moist. I thought the cookie tasted vaguely like it had fruit in it. Almost like a fig newton or something.

C. Like B, this cookie also did not spread or melt very well. it also had visible peaks. Cookie was also moist. This was my favorite taste wise, although I definitely was turned off by the visual appearance.

D. Similar to B and C in appearance. Mouth feel was very spongelike. Taste was bland. I actually spit mine out into the garbage.

So I'm curious whether it was the oil or the baking powder in A that made that particular cookie more visually pleasing. I'm tempted to say the baking powder. One of my more common failure scenarios in cookies is forgetting to add baking soda, which frequently results in a dry cookie with visual peaks. For this experiment, I was extremely careful to include all ingredients, so that wasn't the problem.
Anyone free for dinner and/or games?

Mmmmm... bread.....

Okay, I've made this recipe twice and both times turned out great!  I tweaked it a bit by adding:
1T powdered milk
1t molasses
2t honey
1T flour

Tastes like the bread from Cheesecake factory.  They add caramel color, so it doesn't look the same, but boy does it taste great!

:)  Enjoy!


I really like this game.  I've played it once with M&M and Swami, and once with those three plus Puffin (yeah, we know it's only a four player game, but we're still learning).  I've also played two solitaire four-player games so that I could try to figure out a strategy. 

So far, my record is 1-3.  The one game that I won was a solitaire game without the Medic.  The first game was a loss due to running out of player cards.  The other two losses were for exceeding the outbreak limit.

Any strategy tips?