Percentage & Conversion

Several cookbooks for home bakers refer to baker percentage (B%), a mathematical method of managing the production of bread. For instance Peter Reinhardt devotes pages 40-45 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice to this topic.

It is a tool taught to professional bakers, and addressed in culinary texts such as Daniel T. DiMuzio’s Bread Baking; An Artisan’s Perspective. For the baker-manager, it is a calculation to scale inputs up or down to  create 2, 10, 100 or 1,000 consistent loaves of bread. The assumptions are consistency of ingredients, equipment, energy, working space, and time.  For managing production, every ingredient is put into the formula.  The formula can be use to build dashboard indicator of the use of a bakery.  It is as precise as it needs to be, for how it is used. Bakers tinker with the applications of the method. B% is explained:

Total flour weight is determined.  Flour does not include all dry ingredients. It is flour which has plant proteins and starch that form dough and ferment when mixed, hydrated and stretch and folded. It includes the ground product of grains, including flour and meal. All flour is counted even when flours differ in density and protein content. It is conventional to express the relative amounts of flour as a percentage of the total flour weight (e.g. 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat; or 90% bread flour and 10% rye flour). 

The weight of every other ingredient is expressed as a percentage of the weight of the flour.

Fluid is weighed – the main fluid that yields water.  Milk is nearly all water and almost the same density as water.  Oils don’t count.  The fluid percentage is called the hydration rate, a scale of how wet, sticky and messy the dough is.  Eggs, honey and other ingredients that contain water are not counted but may be noted to see if a dough has a higher hydration rate than the fluid percentage accounts for.

The ingredient that mean a product is bread is yeast. Yeast means, normally, one of the strains of yeast commercially grown and distributed as a leaving agent. Salt is a chemical control on yeast, and vital to a stable process. It weighs what it weighs.  Granularity matters in baking,  but not for B%.

Bread recipes for the home baker usually list ingredients measured by volume: cups, tablespoons etc.  The measurement of ingredients introduces discrepancies. Recipes can be misinterpreted.  A cup may mean the amount that fits in the cup used by the recipe writer and tester, rather than a standard measuring cup.  A US cup is .87 of a an Imperial (U.K., many other English speaking countries) cup.  An Imperial cup is 1.2 US cups.  A metric cup is a quarter liter (250 millilitres) which is .88 Imperial cups or 1.06 US cups. The amount of flour in a cup by volume depends on how the cup is scooped or filled.   

A recipe for a 1 lb. loaf of bread typically requires 2 cups of white bread flour or whole wheat flour.  For 1-3 cups of flour,  2% salt and 1% yeast means fractions of a gram of salt and yeast.

Measuring by weight is more exact – but converting volume to weight is fuzzy. The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook suggests 1 cup of bread flour or whole wheat flour converts at 5 oz.  Panasonic suggests, in its bread machine recipes, measuring bread flour and whole wheat flour by weight at the conversion rate of 1 cup = 4.9 oz.  Reinhart (The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and other books) say 4.5 oz.; he measures differently.  4 and 7/8 oz. (4.875) or 4.9 reconciles to recipes in BLBMC and other recipes that use flour as scooped into a measuring cup.  Scales in ounces go down to 1/8 oz, but not necessarily to decimal fractions.  Metric kitchen scales go to the nearest gram; there are some scales that go down to the nearest .1 gram  Conversions of 1 cup for white bread flour and whole wheat flour:

  • 4.875 (4 and 7/8) oz. = 138 g.
  • 4.9 oz. = 139 g.
  • 5 oz. = 141 g.

The volume to mass conversion for other flours varies. Millers have conversions for their products – e.g.  King Arthur. There are generic conversion calculators and tables but these have to used with care.

A US cup of water reliably converts to 236.6 grams.  (An Imperial cup of water reliably converts to 284 grams. A Canadian cup is 224 grams. A metric cup of water is 250 grams.)  Engineers deal with variation of the density of water with temperature in some applications.  Bakers are not as precise.

A US cup of milk converts to 245 grams.

Table salt 1 tsp = 5.7; but some table salts are fine-grained and more dense

Instant dry yeast 1 tsp = 2.8 g. 

Bread

Bread is high in sodium, as an effect of the baking process.  The master formula for bread is to grind dried grain into a paste or flour, add water and yeast, let the stuff ferment and throw it on a hot surface until it dries out and stops fermenting.

Salt controls yeast which affects fermentation. Fermentation affects flavour but it also affects rise, which affects the size of the loaf and the production line; it also has a chemical effect on the taste buds (Lallamand Baking Update, Volume 2, No. 6). A few bread styles, such as Tuscan bread, are made without salt.  Salt is part of the process for most bread sold by grocery stores and bakeries large and small.

Archeologists have found evidence that the Nafufians, hunter gatherers in Jordan were making bread with wild cereal (grain) 12,500 BCE.   Baking uses the products of many technologies. Flour is the product of grinding and milling cereal.  Flour mixed with water makes dough which is baked.  Dough can be fermented or leavened. Yeast consumes starches in the flour – it ferments, creating gas, which is trapped in gluten in the dough, which makes the bread rise. Bakerpedia explains:

When yeasted dough ferments rises and increases in volume, and flavor is developed.  Yeast converts starch  in flour into sugar, carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol. CO2  gas  is trapped by gluten proteins in the flour which causes dough to rise. Fermentation results in a light and airy crumb.

The yeast propogates.  Propogation and fermentation accelerate until the living yeast cells run out of starch, or are killed off by high temperature. If gas production goes on too long, the air cells in the dough rupture. An overproofed loaf is a lump of wet flour.  In oven baking, the dough rises in 2 or 3 stages: bulk fermentation, and intermediate and final proof. Dough is knocked or “punched” down to release gas at the end of the bulk fermentation and again when the loaf is shaped. The dough rises again in the baking pan and springs when yeast warm up the pan goes in the hot oven – before the heat kills the yeast.

Gluten “is a composite of storage proteins … found in wheat, barley, rye, oats, related species and hybrids …  Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture.”  When flour and water are mixed (kneading is a continuation of mixing) the water interacts with proteins in the flour to form strands of gluten that make the dough sticky and stretchy.  Gluten relaxes in time which lets the dough flow and rise. As we read at Bakerpedia:

Consisting of mainly gliadin and glutenin, wheat gluten is unique among cereal proteins based on its ability to form a cohesive and viscoelastic mass. This rheological property makes it a dynamic material that is able to grow and keep the gasses within the dough during extended fermentation periods. The viscoelastic nature also provides the oven spring (increase in height due to the expansion of gasses) that we see in the oven.

Wheat flour has the necessary proteins to form gluten.  Added gluten is wheat flour processed to contain this proteins, used as a dough enhancer. (Wheat gluten also is the main ingredient of the vegan food Seitan).    Commercial bakers know, referring again to Bakerpedia:

Excessive use of wheat gluten would result in drier doughs that have a hard time with pan flow, and a higher than normal oven spring.

Mark Kurlansky’s excellent book Salt: a World History (2002) tells of the use of salt to bake bread in Egypt (3,000 BCE),  The production of salt may have started about 8,000 years ago.

Salt is a standard and necessary ingredient in most formulas and recipes. The right ratio of flour to salt and yeast means a loaf that will rise on time, and not overproof or balloon.

Professional bakers and some home bakers express ingredient lists or recipes as formulas expressed in baker’s percentage (B%). Bakers use consistent processes to manufacture a consistent product. A formula with salt needs more yeast to ferment and rise properly.  Reducing salt changes the process. Professional bakers may use 2 pounds of salt and .77 pound of instant dry yeast per 100 pounds of flour.  The B% for salt is 2%; instant yeast is .77%. This works out to .3 ounces = 8.5 grams = 8,500 mg. salt per 3 cups (15 ounces) of flour.  A normal loaf of bread has 3,400 milligrams of sodium per loaf – several hundred milligams per slice or serving.

Salt can be reduced , with a reduction in the amount of yeast. A few books and some internet pages unwisely suggest eliminating salt and but list the same amount of yeast that would be used if there was salt in the recipe!  Every reduction in salt in a bread formula has to be balanced with a reduction of yeast.  The accepted method is reducing yeast by the same percentage as salt. Please Don’t Pass the Salt has recipes for yeasted breads and a note on the general adjustment for yeasted bread recipes.

Artisan bread baking writers suggest that adjusting the salt in formulas leads to unsatifactory results  – e.g. Peter Reinhart, Artisan Bread Every Day (Ten Speed Press, 2009) at p. 15 suggests not reducing by more than 10%.  This approach warns the aspiring baker that salt is important to baking what consumers and food critics regard as good bread. This approach does not help much for someone avoiding sodium.  It is easy to get to 50%. It is possible to go further if final proofing can be extended to let the dough ferment and rise longer. Conversely, working in the kitchen, a baker may detect and arrest an active fermentation by knocking down the dough or getting the loaf in the oven.

Home bakers work with small amounts of salt and yeast. Measurement by weight is desireable, in theory.  Few home bakers have scales precise enough. And what is the conversion?

For table salt: 1 tsp = 5.7 grams (round to 6 grams) or .20 oz.  There is some confusing information in some modern culinary publications.

  • America’s Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated The Science of Good Cooking (2012) lists several brands of kosher salt and sea salt and compares them to table salt, suggesting that Morton’s brand is the standard for table salt at 1 tsp = 7.15 g.
  • Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (Ten Speed Press, 2001) says on p. 28 that 1 tsp of table salt = .25 oz which converts to 7 grams. 

Some fine crystal table salt on the market in the US weighs 7 grams per teaspoon.  A recipe or bread formula ought to read as referring to conventional table salt. The size of the salt crystals affects solubility, which can affect the distribution of salt in the dough, and effect of salt on yeast.   Density, as such, doesn’t matter when adding salt by weight.  Home bakers can normally read a recipe in terms of level teaspoons of table salt, and should adjust when using coarser (eg. kosher salt, some sea salt), or finely ground salt measured by volume. 

Most sources say for instant dry yeast: 1 tsp  = 2.8 grams = .10 oz. .   Peter Reinhart, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (Ten Speed Press, 2001) says on p. 28 that 1 tsp instant dry yeast = .11 oz which converts to 3.1 grams.

Commercial bakers use chemical leaveners for some bread.  Home bakers use baking powder and baking soda for corn bread, soda bread, cakes and other baking.  Baking powder is baking soda mixed with cream of tartar. Kraft Foods Magic Baking Powder does not provide Food Facts on the labels of small jars in Canada.  The published information is that 1 tsp has 300 mg. of sodium.  Substitutions for baking powder involve 1/4 tsp of baking soda plus some acid (e.g. vinegar, cream of tartar) for each tsp baking powder.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  It has 1,259 mg. of sodium per teaspoon, which explains the food facts for baking powder.

The science of substitution for baking soda and baking powder is to use potassium bicarbonate, or to use natural bubbles, if possible e.g. whipped egg whites. Potassium bicarbonate is the key ingredient of Featheweight, but is not a grocery product.  It is available as a supplement but has a list of side effects and do not use if taking medication warnings.

There is a no sodium baking powder on the market, called Featherweight. Please Don’t Pass the Salt has recipes for quick breads, and suggestions on low sodium “baking mixes”

Cookbooks

Dietary and culinary theories abounded – and still persist, that salt is adds flavour and should be used in cooking nutritious and tasty food. Salt has been added to food as necessary preservative e.g. ham, sausage, olives, cheese, soy and other sauces. It has become a normal practice to put some salt into any dish, or the water to prepare boiled ingredients.

Some culinary books say that consumers can avoid the wrong processed ingredients and avoid processed foods. That’s true, but that advice may be accompanied by advising home cooks to use salt, as suggested in a recipe, in preparing meals.  Also to brine certain foods to make them cook better. The writers, presenters, and publishers of the  Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen family are an example. This sends contradictory messages about processed food, prepared food, home cooking and eating to satisfy taste and psychological needs:

  • It supports home cooking and food preparation with less reliance on processed ingredients
  • It appears to encourage safe and wise use of salt
  • It is a rationale for trying a salted item for one’s own pleasure or as  comfort food, which is also a rationale for departing from a program.

Recipes from some sources include nutrition facts.  General recipe books generally do not provide this kind of information.   General recipes may involve processed ingredients; these are worthless in a low-sodium diet unless a no sodium alternative can be substituted.

Some culinary books recommend measuring salt by weight, because it is more precise and because of the variations in the densities of salt (oarse, kosher, table, sea salt etc).  Table salt is not uniform.  Recipes assume table salt, at 6 grams per teaspoon. Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen published the weight of a specific brand of iodized table salt (Morton Iodized Salt) in The Science of Good Cooking (2012) at p. 113 as over 7 grams. The extra gram of salt is 400 mg. of sodium.

Continue reading ‘Cookbooks’ »

Salt

Salt (sodium chloride) is a chemical agent used to cook or process food. Saltiness is regarded as one of 5 main tastes. (Scientists have not, as of 2018, identified a distinctive taste receptor for salt.)  Sodium is an essential nutrient, but consuming more sodium than the minimum has no health benefits. Excessive sodium is a health risk. The upper limits for sodium intake, in milligrams, per day:

These numbers are not stated in ranges for body type, or weight.  The limits are stated as a single high number and a second lower number for persons diagnosed with hypertension, or defined by age or other statistical risks. The 2,300 milligram figure is the sodium in about a teaspoon (the unit of volume) of salt. Exceeding the upper limit is risky and harmful.

Food products high in sodium:

  • Bread;
  • Sandwich spreads, condiments and salad dressings;
  • Processed meat, cold cuts, charcuterie;
  • Cheese;
  • crackers,
  • pickles, olives,.
  • Processed (flaked/puffed or shaped and toasted) breakfast cereal;
  • Tomato juice, vegetable juice and tomato-clam (some very high);
  • Processed spaghetti sauces and tomato sauces (very high);
  • Pizza – bread topped with tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever else (most very high);
  • Canned soups (monstrously high);
  • Soy sauce, hoisin sauce and fish sauce (monstrously high);
Continue reading ‘Salt’ »

Email 2018

I used Outlook 2010 and Outlook  2013 as my desktop email client because they were nearly free. Employees of my employer got the Office Suites for a nominal charge. (my employer rolled back to Word 2010, and Outlook 2010 connected to its MS Exchange server). The programs did what I needed. I had a server account at my ISP. Outlook connected with the server using POP3, a version of Post Office Protocol.  I began to consider letting go of my ISP after giving up the cable box and cable TV. This may mean I give up email account and address when I give up the Cable ISP service, and go with a new service. This meant thinking about a new email address on a webmail service, and a new email client.

Outlook was a message user agent (client) for Microsoft Exchange Server using proprietary MAPI protocols. It still is. In the enterprize enviroment a client connects to the enterprize email server which stores messages and connects to the Internet.  Outlook has the capability to manage local copies of messages in a PST file (a dedicated database), which lets it function as a standalone internet email client. Outlook 2013 did not easily support, contrary to MS Outlook 2013 Support articles and publicity about Hotmail Connector and Exchange Active Sync, connecting to an Outlook.com account. This is ironic after MS “improved” Outlook, creating a lock-in effect for its Hotmail/Outlook.com services and more of a walled garden or closed platform approach to services.

Outlook 2013 does not easily support IMAP. The capability may be there. For instance, there are resources that explain making an IMAP connection in Outlook, which may work or may have been outdated by changes in Windows and the Office Suite. Searching for ways to adapt Outlook 2013 is frustrating and time consuming. This makes using Outlook with webmail platforms other than Hotmail/Outlook difficult.

Outlook 2013 has already started  its spiral into obsolesence.  Newer versions have been web/cloud based (software as a service), which leaves MS with a stream of income as long as consumers will stay with MS as rentier. Staying with Outlook as client means subscribing, which will not be cheap, and being locked in.

There are desktop email clients that support IMAP, and downloading and local storage of messages.  IMAP is a robust standard, even if Microsoft deprecates it. It works with webmail, although it is a conceptual leap from POP, and requires some management. Time to move on.

2017 Rides

This was 2017:

DateMe + WhoBikeKm.Trip
1864.22017 Year to Date
17-12-03FX21.8Beacon Hill, Richardson, Monterey, Upper Terrace, Cordova Bay, Foul Bay, Moss, Beacon Hill, Niagars. Cloudy 5 or 6 degrees, wind.
17-11-05FX32.6Beacon Hill, Richardson, Richmond, Oak Bay, Musgrave, Upper Terrace, UVic, Finnerty, San Juan, Lochside to downtown. Sunny, 5 C, cold wind.
17-10-30FX42.9Dallas, Moss, Richmond, Oak Bay, Musgrave, Uplands, UVic, San Juan, Lochside to Cordova Bay, and back to Blue Bridge. Sunny afternoon, shorts weather until the afternoon shadows grew.
17-10-220No ride. Weather varied
17-10-15FX52.3Goose, Interurban Road & Trail, Wallace, Mt. Newton X Road, Lochside; Sunshine, 12 C. Shorts, but a jacket. Michell's farm was busy - the u-pick pumpkin event.
17-10-09MikeFX40.2Dallas, Fairfield, Richmond, McNeill/Richardsons, Newport, Monterey/St. Ann, Musgrave, Upper Terrace, Cedar Hill X Rd, Gordon, Head, San Juan, Lochside. Cool day, clear fall day.
17-09-24FX49.5Goose, Interurban Road & Trail, Wallace, Stelly's X Road, E. Saanich Road, Island View, Lochside; mainly sunny in the AM. An event at the Leg.: traffic diverted and snarled.
17-09-10No ride; on holiday
17-09-03JoeBor.9.2Portage La Prairie MB Crescent Lake trail Meighen to Kelly K.
17-08-27FX67.0Goose, Lochside, Royal Oak, Elk Lake, trail, Oldfield, E. SaanichRoad, east part of Airport trail, Beacon, Lochside. Sunny, clear, hot (but UV only 5), moderate breezes. ,
17-08-20FX65.7Goose, Interurban, Wallace. E. Saanich Road, east part of Airport trail, Beacon, Lochside. Sunny, warm, moderate breezes. The Tour de Victoria was on. I saw traffic control and some riders on Interurban Road. The Dragon Boat fesitval was on in the inner Harbour. Belleville was closed and traffic on Gov't and Superior was congested
17-08-13FX58.3The first rain in 2 months fell overnight. Windy until noon, and after 2 pm. I went out by side streets in James Bay, Cook Street Village and Oak Bay to Foul Bay and up Cadboro Bay to Cedar Hill X, Gordon Head, San Juan, Lochside. Dooley/Welch, Martindale to Michell mini-Airport on Lochside. Back into Victoria by Lochside. Many bikes stopped to pick blackberries. The Blue Bridge was closed for paving on Store and Pandora. First deke to backtrack and cross the Gorge on the Bay Street Bridge and down Gov't to Chinatown, deking down alleys to get onto Store past the paving.
17-08-07FX59.7Blue Bridge, Goose, Interurban, Wallace, E. Saanich, McTavish, Lochside. Clear day. Smoke haze at high level made it dark, almost overcast
17-07-30FX59.2Goose to crossing/ intersection Happy Valley, East Sooke & Kangaroo. Sunny day. The trail is shaded from Jenkins out. Trail was dry but not too dusty. The blackberries are ripe. Some people stopped for that.
17-07-230No ride. In Duncan, camping at Islands Folk Festival
17-07-16FX52.3Dallas , Moss, Richardson, Foul Bay, Cadboro Bay, Cedar Hill X, Gordon Head, San Juan, Lochside to Island View; back by Goose, downtown. Overcast, steady breeze, cool in the AM.
17-07-09FX69.4Blue Bridge, Goose, Interurban, Wallace, E. Saanich (new segment) Leal-Emard-Moxon Amity, Lochside, San Juan, (new segment) San Pedro, Longview, Feltham (oops: to Shelburne and back up), Gordon Head, U Vic, Cedar Hill X, Cadboro Bay Rd., Fort, Richmond, Richardson, Moss, Dallas, Niagara
17-07-02MikeFX70.7Blue Bridge, E&N, Goose, Interurban, Wallace, Mt. Newton X, Lochside, San Juan Greenway, Gordon Head, U Vic, Foul Bay, Richmond, Moss, Dallas
17-06-30MikeFX34.4Dallas, Beach, Cadboro Bay, Arbutus, San Juan, Lochside
17-06-25MikeFX56.5Lochside from Mann's Excavating to Swing Bridge, Goose to Interurban, Interurban Route to Saanichton; E. Saanich to Willingdon, around airport, Sidney, Lochside
17-06-23MikeFX31.5Blue Bridge, Lockside to junction at Don Mann, parkway to Gordon Head; UVic, Cedar Hill, Cadboro Bay, Beach, McNeill, Moss, Dallas
17-06-17MikeFX53.1Blue Bridge, Goose, Interurban route to Saanichton, Mt. Newton x Road, Lochside
17-06-11FX58.1Blue Bridge, Goose, Interurban Road, Interurban Trail, Wallace, Lochside
17-06-04MikeFX41.7Blue Bridge, E&N, Goose to Sooke Road at Firehall.
17-05-28MikeFX40.0Lochside from Monkey's Paw, Royal Oak to Elk Lake, Oldfield & Seacrest, E. Saanich, Wallace, Amity to Lochside
17-05-21MikeFX53.3Lochside from Monkey's Paw to Sidney, Flight Path around YYJ, and back. Warm and sunny.
17-05-19MikeFX29.5Blue Bridge, E&N, Goose to Wales Road, return.
15-05-14MikeFX45.1Goose from Juan de Fuca rec complex to Roche Cove
17-05-07MikeFX39.8Lochside from Monkey's Paw (McKenzie & Borden) to Royal Oak, Elk Lake trail, Oldfield, Wallace-Panorama, Lochside. Sunday AM, sunny, light breezes
17-05-06MikeFX24.5Goose to Old Island, E&N to Blue Bridge
17-04-30MikeFX48.6Lochside from Monkey's Paw (Borden & McKenzie) to McTavish, Flight Path trail around airport, back from Sidney
17-04-28MikeFX42.0Goose to Sooke Road
17-04-21MikeFX38.4Goose to Veterans Memorial. Friday PM Sunny day before a cool wet weekend.
17-04-16MikeFX35Lochside from Monkey's Paw (McKenzie & Borden). Royal Oak, Elk Lake, Oldfield, E. Saanich, Mount Newton X Road, Lochside.
17-04-14MikeFX31.5Dallas,Beach, Arbutus, Finnerty, UVic. Sunny spring day - breezes, not too brisk. Shorts
17-04-09MikeFX32.9Goose to E&N - Atkins to Langford police station; back by E&N thru Esquimault
17-04-02MikeFX47.0Lochside from Monkey's Paw (McKenzie & Borden) to Tsehum Harbour in Sidney. Sunday AM, sunny, windy
17-03-30MikeFX24.4Blue Bridge, Goose to Old Island; E & N
07-03-25MikeFX42.5Lochside to Saanich Museum
17-03-19MikeFX29.5Blue Bridge, E&N, Goose to Wales Road, return. Sunny, nice - much nicer than forecast
17-03-18MikeFX29.6Dallas, Fairfield, Richmond, Cadboro Bay, U Vic. Sunny, windy.
17-03-05MikeFX29.1Dallas, Fairfield, Richmond, Cadboro Bay, U Vic. Cool, unstable weather: cloudy, showers, even snow and slush
17-02-25MikeFX42.7Lochside, Hunt Valley, Island View (Michell' Farm). Cool day, Sunny with cloud in AM, windy.
17-02-12MikeFX29.3Dallas, Fairfield, McNeill, Beach, Cordova Bay to U Vic and return
17-01-28MikeFX41.3Lochside to Island View (Michell's Farm)
17-01-21MikeFX33.2Galloping Goose to Old Island Highway at Royal Roads
17-01-14MikeFX28.9Dallas/Beach, Richmond (group ride started at Richmond at Fairfield), McNeill, East Oak Bay ramble, Cedar Hill X, U Vic Ring, Henderson/Foul Bay, Fort, Quadra, Beacon Hill Loop, Niagara. Sunny +2 C at 11 am; got to 5 C later

American Nations

Tyler Cowen mentioned American nations : a history of the eleven rival regional cultures of North America in his Marginal Revolutions blog as a partial explanation for support for the candidacy of Donald Trump among American working class and middle class voters in the 2016 American elections. I found a copy in the Oak Bay Branch of Greater Victoria Public Library.  It was catalogued as children’s nonfiction.  If it is a children’s book, the children in Oak Bay must be precocious.    Garrison Keilor said in his NPR broadcasts and books. “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average”.

Colin Woodard is a journalist and writer of explanatory nonfiction. American Nations presents a condensed introduction to a theory of American history: tracking regional culture back to the European settlement of different parts of North America by distinctive groups. Woodard accepts that the cultures of different parts of America evolved from the cultures of the first European settlers.  Consider this review and summary (Scott Alexander) of Albion’s Seed by David Fischer. Woodard summarized American Nations in a 2013 article in Tufts Magazine. (Map in the Tufts Magazine piece).

Continue reading ‘American Nations’ »

2016 Rides

This was 2016:

2016

DateWhoBikeKmTrip
1355.12016 Year to date
16-09-18FX58.3Downtown, Lochside to Royal Oak, Beaver & Elk Lake trail, Oldfield/Seabrook to East Saanich Road into Saanichton, Wallace and Amity and across the Pat Bay; Lochside Trail and back from there by the Trail. Mixed Cloud, mainly sunny but a few scattered showers; Windy
16-09-11FX56.9Downtown. Goose to Interurban, Interurban Route to Lochside, Lochside back to downtown. Sunny after 10 AM, moderate breeze, 18 degrees C.
16-09-05FX53.7Downtown, Lochside to Royal Oak, Beaver & Elk Lake trail, Oldfield/Seabrook to East Saanich Road, Mount Newton X-Road to Lochside Trail and back from there by the Trail. Cloudy, cool, a few spritzes of rain.
16-08-210Camping, Salmon Arm
16-08-07FX42.9Blue Bridge, E & N to Goose, Goose to Swing Bridge, Lochside to Cordova Bay (Matticks). Overcast, a couiple of short misty showers.
16-08-07KA0Check old Cat Eye Velo 2; replace battery and reset to zero
16-07-31FX57.6Blue Bridge, Goose to Atkins, E & N to Jacklin to Jenkins to Glen Lake Road to Happy Valley Road to Metchosin Road to Old Island Highway to Juan de Fuca Rec Center; E & N & through downtown. Cloudy at first, then sunny with brisk winds.
16-07-240Camping in Duncan
16-07-17FX60.4Blue Bridge, E & N to Jacklin, Jacklin to Goose, Goose to Lombard. Sunny. some cloud. Light Wind
16-07-160Replace battery in Cat Eye. Reset
16-07-10FX79.2Estimated distance. Reset odometer after glitch during first 10 K. Johnson Street Bridge, E & N to Goose, Goose to Interurban, Interurban to Lochside Through Sidney to Resthaven Park; back by Lochside. Cloudy at first. Mixed sun and cloud. Moderate breeze - headwind and quartering adverse on return. Ouchy in my own driveway on arriving home.
16-07-03FX54.9Sunny and windy. Lochside to Lochside Park, Dooley to Martindale, Lochside to Island View (Michell's Farm); Lochside to downtown, Fort to Vancouver, Richardson & McNeill to Windsor Park; McNeill, Richardson & Cook to Dallas.
16-06-26FX72.2Goose to Interurban; Interurban Route to Lochside; Through Sidney to Resthaven Park; back by Lochside. Sunny and hot.
16-06-19FX67.2Lochside to Royal Oak; Royal Oak to Park; BeaveLake to W. Saanich, back to Park; Lakeside trail to Oldfield; Oldfield-Seabrook-E. Saanich Rd-Wallace-Pat NBay Overpass. Back to Lochside; Tulista Park (Sidney). Then home. Mixed sun and cloud, windy.
16-06-16FX26.3Lochside, across Royal Oak, past McMinn Park.
16-06-12FX71.2Lochside to Royal Oak; Royal Oak to West Saanich Road. West Saanich to Wallace. Held up at two points for cycling leg of Victoria Triathalon (See Route). Wallace to Lochside (near Cy Hampson). Sidney, back by Lochside. Held up by street festival on Harbour Road. Mainly cloudy, around 16-18 C. Windy.
16-06-07FX31.2Lochside to Cordova Bay (Mattick's).
16-06-05FX65.8Lochside to Royal Oak; Royal Oak to Park; Lakeside trail to Oldfield; Oldfield-Seabrook-E. Saanich Rd-Mt. Newton X Rd. (First time on Oldfield for years). Back to Lochside; Tulista Park (Sidney) and return by trail. Hot. Traffic hold ups where the road was closed for Russ Hayes races around the legislative grounds (See: Race Web site).
16-05-31FX32.1E & N to Admirals Way, back to Tyee. Lochside trail to Royal Oak. Clear warm day. Windy. Short sleeves day
16-05-29FX65.4E & N, Atkins to Jacklin, E & N and Goose to Swing Bridge, Lochside to Royal Oak, Royal Oak to Elk Lake. Around Lake, return by Lochside.
16-05-24FX23.1New ride. E & N to Highway 1. Sunny evening after a cloudy day.
16-05-22FX60.7Goose to Rocky Point Rd. , Lombard; Metchosin. Sunny, with clouds. Windy
16-05-17FX24.3Lochside to Royal Oak. Windy, cool. The counter was at >2,400 at 7:20 pm.
16-05-15FX41.9Lochside to Island View (Michell's). Cloudy, cool. Counter at 885 at 2:45 PM.
16-05-10FX31.1Lochside to Cordova Bay (Mattick's). Counter was 2600 + at 7:20.
16-05-08FX53.9Lochside to Cy Hampson, North Saanich. It started cloudy and changed to sunny and windy. Wind from the south - i.e. headwind on the return leg. The counter was at 650 at 1:40.
16-05-05FX24.4Lochside to Royal Oak. The counter was at 2,220 at 6:30 pm.
16-04-30FX45.8Goose to Luxton Fairground
16-04-25FX24.6Lochside to Royal Oak, at cycle commuter rush hour. The counter at the end of Harbour Road was at 1400 for the day when I was outbound, over 2000 on the return.
16-04-23FX41.7Lochside to Island View (Michell's)
16-04-20FX24.2Lochside to Royal Oak. Starting at 6 is too late - sun at low angle. Insects at eye level. I need new sunglasses that can adjust to low light.
16-04-17FX31.4Lochside to Cordova Bay (Mattick's)
16-04-10FX32.7Lochside to Lochside Park (Mattick's +)
16-04-03FXRe-calibrate Cat Eye. No ride. I had to get to the airport to fly to Abbotsford (and drive to Chilliwack) (work).

Camping Gear 2016

Last year, I had noticed that the adhesive seam tape used by the manufacturerto seal the seams of my tent’s fly was degrading and flaking off. I resealed the seams with a product that smells like plastic model cement and sticks to skin like crazy glue.

I have used a Therm-a-Rest “Original” or Classic mattress since the 1980’s. For front country camping I have also used it with a second mattress a closed cell pad – an old blue Airolite by “World Famous” sold by United Army Surplus in Winnipeg.  Like a yoga mat but thicker. This kind of mattress is still on market.  I tried a Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest (the model that MEC was carrying last year), and found it to be thin and uncomfortable – an slippery to that I was sliding downhill when my tent was pitched on uneven ground.

The inflatable air mattress is back with products including Therm-a-Rest’s BaseCampAF and NeoAir Camper and others, Eureka, Big Agnes and house brands.  An electric pump that runs off automobile current is good for front country camping (a battery powered electric is an option for backcountry but that gadget may not be worth its weight requirements). Inflating a mattress to the point that it is bouncy is not necessary.  A mattress should be firm enough to keep objects under the tent from being noticeable, but soft enough to settle in. So, a new mattress was in order.

I have a Primus Omnifuel, a pressurize burner stove that burns white gas (“coleman” fuel) and special mixed gases  in pressure cans.  It is light, but needs to be managed carefully.  The Wikipedia on portable stoves goes into the history of the gadget.  The original Primus was a burner attached to fuel source.  In the US, Coleman made stove like that too. The military version was the G.I. Pocket Stove.  It was a standard design, before MSR and others introduced pressured burner stoves with the fuel bottle separate from the burner. There are modern pressurized cartridge stoves made up of a burner that screws directly on the pressurized cannister.

The standard camp stove for front country camping was the two burner Coleman that used white gas.  There are still several white gas lanterns and stoves on the market.  The 1 pound stubby Coleman propane cylinder has become common as a power source for lanterns and stoves by Coleman and others.  The cylinders are two heavy for back packing but can be used if there is space and a way of transporting them – such as a car for front country camping.  The small cylinders are not refillable and should not thrown into garbage or left laying around. I find that they are not stable.  I had a Coleman product made up of base ring to held a propane cylinder, and a burner that screwed directly on the propane cylinder.    The gas cylinders have a dimpled metal base and plastic rings glued to the dimples.  Shoving that into the stove base does not create a safe connection.  The cylinder would not line up, or the glue bond would fail. Putting a pot or kettle on a heavy metal burner on top of the cylinder puts the center of mass high.  And the burner had no wind screen. I decided to get a two burner – flat, stable, with a lid that tips up and create a wind screen.

The Holy or the Broken

Episode 7 in Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcast in July 27, 2016 was about his ideas about creativity, contrasting artists who revise and refine with artists who appear to produce their work whole. He illustrated his big idea with references to Elvis Costello’s revisions to The Deportee’s Club and the development of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah by Cohen, by John Cale, by Jeff Buckley before it became a pop standard and a secular hymn. Gladwell cites his sources on the Episode Web page, usually including books available from one of his sponsors. One of his sources was Alan Light’s 2012 The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”, which is also the a principal source for the Wikipedia entry (below). As the title implies, Light explores the tension between the religious exclamation and the biblical allusions, and the vivid, graphic memories of love experienced in sex acts.  Light comes close to saying that Cohen followed the Quebecois pattern of using the name of sacred objects as  obscenities.

The Wikipedia entry Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen song) agrees
Hallelujah was an obscure song from 1984 until 2001, when it became popular in recordings and performances:

  • the Buckley cover on MTV and in television,
  • the Cale cover in the movie Shrek,
  • the Rufus Wainright cover (for the Shrek soundtrack recording),
  • the k.d. Lang cover and her 2010 Winter Olympic Concert, and
  • television performances in singing contest shows The Voice and X Factor. 

Addenda: if you can get through the paywall, David Remnick’s October 2016 biographical article in the New Yorker on Cohen at 82 is worthwhile. The Cohen tribute concert in Montreal (filmed and curated) was good.