Archive for June, 2017

Yogurt making is so simple that it should become part of a weekly routine. All that is required is to heat a pot of milk until it steams, let it cool down a bit, and stir in some yogurt to act as a starter. Then leave the pot in a warm place to ferment.

That’s it.

During fermentation, the milk thickens into something delectably custardy and satiny smooth, with a clean, fresh, tangy flavor that is even better than the fancy artisanal stuff — a pretty big payoff for what ends up being about 10 minutes of active work.

Here are a few little tricks to make the process go seamlessly.

The first is to rub an ice cube over the inside bottom of the pot before adding the milk. This keeps it from scorching as it heats.

Next is that where the pot of milk ferments doesn’t really matter as long as it’s warm. Try placing it in a turned-off oven with the oven light on, in a corner swathed in a heating pad, on the countertop wrapped in a big towel, and tucked on the top of the fridge. They all work, though the warmer the spot, the more quickly the milk will ferment.

Once the yogurt thickens and you think it may be ready, taste it before you stick it into the refrigerator. If it seems too mild, let it sit out for another couple of hours to increase the tanginess. You can leave it for up to 24 hours at room temperature if need be without worrying about spoiling.

To make Greek yogurt, the finished yogurt is left to drain in a colander lined with cheesecloth.

1l whole milk, the fresher the better
3 to 4 tbsp plain yogurt with live and active cultures

Rub an ice cube over the inside bottom of a heavy pot to prevent scorching (or rinse the inside of the pot with cold water). Add milk and bring to a bare simmer, until bubbles form around the edges, ~90C degrees. Stir the milk occasionally as it heats.

Remove pot from heat and let cool until it feels pleasantly warm when you stick your pinkie in the milk for 10 seconds, 40C-45C. Transfer 1/2 cup of warm milk to a small bowl and whisk in yogurt until smooth. Stir yogurt-milk mixture back into remaining pot of warm milk.

Transfer to a 1L mason jar. Wrap jar (without lid) in 2 clean kitchen towels, completely covering sides and top. Let stand undisturbed in a warm place until yogurt has the consistency of custard, 4 to 12 hours. The longer it sits, the thicker and tangier it will become.

Refrigerate uncovered jar; when it’s cool to the touch, about 30m-1h, screw on a tight-fitting lid.

To make moka yogurt:

1/3 cup strong brewed coffee
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp sugar, or to taste (note: maple syrup is a great substitute! try 2-4 Tbsp)

Mix together and combine well, then mix in to 2 cups of yogurt.

You read through the code. You read it again to make sure you understand what it’s doing. Your left eye starts twitching. You read the code a third time.

“WTF was wrong with the person who wrote this?”

I hate how often I react this way. It’s a quick default that’s hard to reset — immediate annoyance as if the developer or engineer responsible for writing whatever I’ve come across was scattering landmines. It’s easy to shit on the people who came before you. They’re usually not around to defend themselves or provide context. It’s much harder to calm down, and think things through. An initial reaction of “WTF?!” is entirely valid (You’re gonna feel what you’re gonna feel.), but getting stuck on the frustration and not going further is unfair to your predecessors and causes you to miss out on learning.

“How” a problem was solved/band-aided/kicked-down-the-road is usually the root of those frustrations, but the next step is thinking through the “Why” of the solution, which is often the source of useful information.

The code might be stupid, but there’s usually a reason. Maybe:

  • Something stupid upstream brought its stupid with it. Alternatively, something stupid downstream needed more stupid.
  • The dev/engineer was told to do it that way.
  • The dev/engineer was getting pulled in 1000 different directions and needed to make a fast band-aid.
  • The dev/engineer was doing the best they knew how.
  • It’s actually not stupid. You just think you know more than you do.

That doesn’t rule out laziness or malice, but they’re much rarer and shouldn’t be the default assumption. When we run across goofy looking code and configs, we need to respect the constraints and context the person who wrote them faced. Note: That the person might actually be an idiot is a real, intractable constraint. How would you have fixed that?

Thinking through and learning the “whys” that caused the stupid will help you understand the context of the problem you’re currently facing. You’ll learn about not only technical pitfalls, but cultural ones as well. A lot of the stupid that shows up in code has nothing to do with the technical competence of the person who wrote it and everything to do with their manager or the company at large.

How many times has the past version of you done something stupid that harmed future you? How many times have you looked at something you made a year ago and thought “What was I thinking?” Like any skill, if you’re not embarrassed by some of the code and configs you’ve written in the past you’re 1.) an egotistical monster, and 2.) not getting better. Knowing that, allow some grace for yourself and the people who came before you.

I can’t say I’ve mastered this skill yet. Sometimes, in moments of frustration, I flat out suck at it. But I’m trying and that’s kind of the crux to all this. Everyone is trying, no one has arrived, and the more we empathize with the unknown constraints of those who came before us, the better off we’ll be.

Adapted from original link

Sleeping is hard in the summer because blankets are too warm,
but without blankets I’m vulnerable to monsters.

While the Institute was being reorganized after the departure of Ed, until things got caught up in the HR system, our group was 3 levels below the Chairman of the Board…

That moment when you go to the loo and forget your phone…

This wasn’t a re-enactment. I remembered the phone next time I had to go.

It’s the last calm weekend before summer madness begins so we had a quiet but really nice day today. We had lunch at Toriko, which Bean enjoyed. When we came back, we joined our upstairs Canadian neighbours who were having a little farewell apero. They’re moving to Basel for work (Roche). We spent a couple of hours drinking Aperol and chatting then Bean went to spend a couple of hours playing with Lam. 

Now, apple pie and ice cream. 

Katy has the unfortunate habit of kissing things with the car bumper. Most times, it’s not a big deal. Last time, with a cement column…less so. It took about 15 minutes of cursing, but I managed to get all the brackets realigned and the bumper back on. It wasn’t that big of a job, but it made me think of my dad. I don’t have anywhere close to his mechanical skills, but I’m also not afraid to get my hands dirty. And I got that from him, as well as the importance of a decent set of tools. So, thanks pop.

It’s so hot the cats are even more lazy in power-saving mode than usual.