Saturday, July 16th, 2011
9:52 pm - Summer Vacation  
So, I am in scenic Burlington, MA, enjoying my annual summer vacation weekend, aka, Readercon. Been fun so far. I'll talk about panels attended next time.

The weather has been about as good as one could expect given the time of year. Friday was warm and a little humid, but there were some largish clouds for shade and a breeze, so it was really quite pleasant outside. Today was quite hot, but not especially humid, which made things bearable. Slept in this morning*, then headed over to Bedford to ride the Minuteman bike path, aka, Rt. 128 for bicycles. Actually, that's probably a slur against Rt.128. I ride the path every year when I'm up here for Readercon, but I don't recall it being quite so bumpy as it was this morning. The problem is roots that have been frost-heaved up through the pavement, creating multitudes of sudden and, because you occasionally have to look away from the constantly shifting pavement to see if there are pedestrians plodding along ahead so you avoid mowing them down**, often unexpected speed bumps.

* By which I mean I got up at 6 AM instead of my usual 5:10. We're doing summer hours at work this year, which means that I work 6:30 to 5 Monday through Thursday, and have Fridays off. Very handy, except that I seem to be spending a good part of Friday napping to catch up.

** In Rhody, pedestrians on bike paths are told to walk on the left, facing oncoming traffic, just as if they were walking along a road. In Massachusetts, pedestrians are told to walk on the right with their backs to the oncoming traffic. This seems inherently unsafe to me.

I usually turn around at Arlington Center because there is a not very well thought out gap in the path before it resumes towards Alewife on the other side of the green. The gap requires riding along Mass Avenue for a block in the space between traffic and parked cars, always a thrilling experience. Worse, the return trip requires that you either ride on a sidewalk (not recommended or legal), or on the wrong side of the street, i.e., facing oncoming traffic (spectacularly unsafe and also illegal), to get from one piece of the path to the other. There has to be a better way. Still, I have negotiated it before, and there was way less traffic early on a Saturday morning than the last time I did it (noonish on a weekday), so I took the plunge. It's really not worth the terror. It's only another mile or so to Alewife, and although you do go by Spy Pond, the rest of the mile ain't all that scenic. In future I think that if I want to extend my ride by a couple of miles, I'll explore some of the other trails at the Bedford end of the path***.

*** Three bike path/trails start within spitting distance of each other and the Bedford bicycle shop. It's almost like a wormhole junction. The Minuteman you know about. Last year I explored part of the Narrow Gauge trail, one that starts out paved then transitions to gravel. There is also the Reformatory Branch trail, which apparently runs through a heavily wooded conservation area towards Concord. I drove by the entrance this morning, and it looked very narrow, and very overgrown. I may need to bring the Univega with it's fatter tires next year**** to better negotiate that trail.

**** Which is what I said last year...

I made truffles for the Tiptree bake sale. It's the first time I've tried making them when it wasn't the dead of winter. Dipping chocolate when it's 80° with 80% humidity turns out to be a very different experience from doing it when it's 68 and the humidity is more like 20%. I had a hard time getting the chocolate to stick to the centers. Next time I need to let the centers equilibrate to room temperature and then blot off any condensation before dipping. Or maybe do them in a dessicated glove box.

I also made some of Cook's Illustrated "best" chocolate chip cookies, which were quite good. I love Cook's Illustrated, but they often make some very optimistic assumptions about the equipment inventories of their readers' kitchen. The recipe calls for a #24 cookie scoop. This is apparently a largish one, which they say holds about 3 tbsps of dough. The cookie scoop I bought for one of their other recipes only holds about 1 tbsp. Bother. I did have an unmarked ice cream scoop, and when I spooned 3 tbsps of water into it they all fit, so I used that. It made for some humongous cookies. I wound up with 13 cookies. The recipe quotes the yield as 16, so the ice cream scoop wasn't all that far off. Anyhow, now I know what to get the next time Bed, Bath & Beyond sends me a coupon. Come to think of it, that's what I did for the last time I bought a cookie scoop.