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Archive for November, 2010

A rather strange chain of events has just occurred, which I thought was interesting enough to share. After getting to work, I sat down at my desk and started leafing through the new edition of Library Journal. In the section devoted to audiobooks, I saw a blurb about The Broom of the System, a novel by David Foster Wallace that I just read a few months ago. I didn’t love the book, but that’s beside the point. The blurb points out that the main character has a “Wittgenstein-obsessed grandmother,” referring to Ludwig Wittgenstein, an Austrian philosopher. At the time I read the book, I had no knowledge of Wittgenstein or his philosophical theories, and pretty much glazed over those parts of the book, which I deemed esoteric and boring. Anyway.

I continued skimming through the magazine until I came upon a picture of another book. This one is called Philosophy Bites, and I have most definitely not read it. However, the cover struck me because I recognized the image from a picture book that I’ve been seeing pretty regularly at my last two jobs.

The name of the picture book is Duck! Rabbit!, and I can’t say I’ve read that one either, but I definitely recognized the cover. I concluded that the duckrabbit image must have some ties to philosophy, so I dug a little deeper. The duckrabbit is cited in a lot of places, namely a book called Philosophical Investigations, written by none other than LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN. Weird, right? I won’t pretend to have understood most of what I read during my cursory research of the duckrabbit and the theories behind it, but here’s a quick paragraph from Wikipedia that sort of scratches the surface of his ideas.

Wittgenstein discussed figures which can be seen and understood in two different ways. Often one can see something in a straightforward way—seeing that it is a rabbit, perhaps. But, at other times, one notices a particular aspect—seeing it as something. An example Wittgenstein uses is the “duckrabbit,” a picture that can be seen as either a duck or a rabbit. When one looks at the duckrabbit and sees a rabbit, one is not interpreting the picture as a rabbit, but rather reporting what one sees. One just sees the picture as a rabbit. But what occurs when one sees it first as a duck, then as a rabbit? As the gnomic remarks in the Investigations indicate, Wittgenstein isn’t sure. However, he is sure that it could not be the case that the external world stays the same while an ‘internal’ cognitive change takes place.

Anyway, Wittgenstein aside, I am left pondering the links that led me to read about him and contemplating the interconnectedness of all things. I think I may need to watch I Heart Huckabees again.

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I know, I know–I can scarcely believe it myself. But here it is, yet another bread blog. I must confess, however, that I made this bread months ago and haven’t blogged it until now. I guess this new post about an old bread is supposed to mask the fact that I haven’t been baking at all lately. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been baking, just not bread. Below you will also find a granola bar recipe that I’ve been tinkering with for the past couple of weeks. But anyway, bread.

Pugliese is bread #29 and is pretty similar to ciabatta and focaccia. I have to admit, though, that I totally phoned in this bread and it definitely did not come out as desired. After mixing the dough, I used the “stretch and fold” method (see Focaccia post) while it rose on the kitchen table. After the third round of stretching and folding, I transferred it to a bowl for the final rise. I did get a pretty sweet bubble.

I then divided the dough and formed two boules, and after sitting for another hour or so, they were ready to bake.

Here is the finished product.

The result was another decent white Italian loaf, but the dough was way more dense than it should have been. The inside should have been light, airy, and filled with holes, but it was, well, not. Oh well, it still made for some decent toast.

In other news, I eat store brand Nutri-Grain bars pretty much every day. However, they contain high fructose corn syrup and other various chemicals that I’m trying to cut out of my diet as much as possible. So, I’ve begun experimenting with homemade chewy granola bars instead. I got a recipe from Allrecipes.com and altered it here and there. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Ingredients
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies (for an added crunch!)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter
4 oz. cup applesauce (I added this after decreasing the original amount of butter)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
Below are the additional fixins I chose, but there are limitless possibilities!
Dried cranberries (almost a whole bag of Craisins)
Ghirardelli 60% cacao baking chips (eyeballed it)
Raisins (eyeballed it)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease one 9×13 inch pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter, applesauce, honey, and brown sugar. Stir in the chocolate chips, cranberries, raisins, rice krispies.
3. Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. After about 10 minutes, use a spoon or other kitchen utensil to pack down the mixture again, to ensure that the bars stay cohesive, and then continue to bake.
4. Let cool, then cut into bars.

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I don’t want to leave anybody hanging when it comes to the Bad Neighbor Saga, so I’ll give you a quick recap of the last major event that’s occurred since the infamous Trash Dump of 2010. A day or so after I wrote that last blog, Michael went over and knocked on their door after work. Their lights were on and their car was in the driveway, but no one came to the door when he knocked. Lame! He went over again the next night—I would have gone with him, but I was working late that night. When I got home, he gave me a summary of what went down. I actually asked him to write a guest blog post so that you wouldn’t be getting second-hand information, but he’s been busy at work. Perhaps in the coming days he’ll be able to supplement this post with some choice quotations or his own personal take on things.

This is the long and short of it: he started out by asking about the box of trash and telling them that we were offended by the note. They instantly began backpedaling and saying that it was really meant for Hugh, which is a load of poo. If it was for Hugh, why was the note addressed to “Everyone”? Please. Then I think Michael told them that the only reason he was bringing up the trash incident was because it was at the top of a very long list of other offenses. They were, of course, incredulous, and were like, “What are you talking about?”, which then gave Michael the ability to start rattling off the items on our list: the pile of shoes in the hallway, the dog peeing everywhere, their theft of our shoveled parking spots. Then James did what he always does—he started talking loudly AT Michael. No more chance for a controlled conversation. I think he yelled for a while and then said to Michael, “Okay, it’s time to go,” at which point Michael was asked to leave.

Since then, things have been okay, by which I mean I have seen James zero times. I saw Andrea once in the hallway—I said a quick hello and kept on walking. The box of trash is still sitting on the floor in the foyer.

In other neighbor news, Hugh called me on Saturday afternoon to ask me if he could use our dryer because his was broken. I told him that it was fine and I appreciated the fact that he asked first (I believe I mentioned in a previous blog that Andrea used our dryer without asking, and I only found out because I caught her in the act!). So, Hugh is now back in my good graces, even though he remains a suspect in the “Who Smoked a Cigarette in My Car” mystery. But that’s old news at this point, and I’m pretty much over it.

Anyway.

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More Neighborly Antics

Upon returning home from work yesterday evening, Michael and I were greeted with this box of trash sitting atop the mail in the foyer of our house.

It’s creased and dented because Michael kicked it.

The note is undoubtedly from Andrea, the wife half of the married couple that lives across the hall from us. I have no idea where this sudden burst of passive aggression came from, but let me tell you, it is absolutely ridiculous. Michael and I are very responsible when it comes to throwing our trash away. In fact, more often than not, I will go outside to throw out a trash bag, only to find that most (if not all) of the trash cans (ours included) are already filled with big pieces of cardboard, which most definitely did not come from us. I don’t know where she gathered up that stuff, but it’s not like we ever randomly throw trash all over the ground—and I certainly resent the implication that we do. If anything, maybe the wind knocked over the can. Maybe an animal pulled stuff out. REGARDLESS, I cannot understand why she would go to the trouble to gather it all up and leave it inside the house, where I GUARANTEE you it will now remain indefinitely, because I sure as hell am not moving it, and something tells me that she won’t either.

Moreover, this note is even more out of line considering the laundry list of shit that the two of them have pulled over the last year. I’ll just list a few examples:

1. They don’t clean up after their dog after it pees in the hallway.
2. They let their dog run into our apartment if it happens to be there when we open the door (even though we have expressly informed them that this was not okay). Most times, it subsequently pees on our kitchen floor.
3. They leave all kinds of crap outside the door to their apartment, in a common hallway, including: shoes, empty pizza boxes, and any other crap that is being disposed of but hasn’t made it to the outside trash cans yet.
4. James piles his bikes and bike equipment on top of Michael’s beer equipment in the basement, when there is plenty of space for it elsewhere.
5. When their dryer broke, they used ours without asking us.
6. They abandoned their snow-covered parking spots and parked in the spots that Michael and I dug out (see previous blog entry).

They are a couple of phonies who pretend to be considerate but really only care about themselves, and from this point on I will not stand for it.

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