Food: Retuning cheese making

From the beginning, my desire to make cheese was rooted more in a desire to find a way to preserve milk I might actually have in excess at my farm than any other thing. That is, I never set out to make true Cheddar or Ricotta. Instead, I want to make Innisfree cheese using time-tested methods.

So far, my effort has been a mixed bag, partly because I’m not listening to what the milk is telling me. On the other hand, I have learned a lot from the mistakes I’ve made and have a much better idea of how to proceed.

For me, moving forward means going back to what started me down this path, and that means rereading Sandor Katz‘s excelled writing on the subject. His approach is fundamentally what I am trying to do, and I’m working to reapply his simplicity to what I am doing.

If you are interested, I highly recommend his book Wild Fermentation (affiliate link). It is simple, straight-forward, and an excellent primer for anyone looking to make a variety of fermented foods, including cheese.

DLH

Read more at my Food weblog...

Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Seeing the world in bricks: Distant Tower pico/sub scale modular build

2016-01-04 22.25.48 2016-01-04 22.26.00 2016-01-04 22.26.13
Yeah, yeah, I need to work on my photos…

DLH

Read more at my Seeing the world in bricks weblog...

Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Writing: Dear scientists: please stop ruining science fiction

There is an aspect to science fiction some members of the scientific world seem to have forgotten about: most often, science fiction is speculative fiction. That is, it is not always a story about what is, or even what we imagine could be, but rather a story about what might happen if something was.

I know that last idea is hard for some because science fiction, unfortunately, came to have science in the name. Depending on who you ask, that name came about because its writers wanted to define their fiction as describing a universe bounded by physical laws and to differentiate it from fantasy. Certainly all along, the lines between sci-fi and fantasy have blurred, but I’m not even really talking about those works. Yes, there is even hard science fiction wherein authors chose to constrain themselves within the boundaries of what we believe to be true, and that’s fine.

However, the fact remains that the great body of what comes to be called science fiction isn’t really about science at all. Instead, it’s about imagining a world similar to our own where different rules now apply because we’ve discovered new ones. It’s possible that those rules may be implausible based on our current understanding of science, but that fact does not represent a detraction from the ideas being explored in the work.

Moreover, the demand that science fiction adhere to our current understanding of science undermines one of science fiction’s most powerful benefits: its ability to fire the imagination to see beyond the constraints of what be believe to be the rules to discover rules we did not understand existed before that moment.

To me, the benefit of science fiction’s ability to speculate isn’t to engender a, “That’s not possible,” response so much as it is to bring out, “But what if it is?”

I understand, for scientists who trade in the currency of what we believe to be true now, that kind of speculation can seem counter productive. But for society as a whole, it’s part of the fuel that drives the engine of imagination, innovation, and advancement. Let’s stop putting a limit on what might be possible in works of fiction so that we can find out if those ideas might be possible in fact.

DLH

Read more at my Writing weblog...

Posted in Ideas, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Random thoughts from a wandering mind: The scale of talent to skill

Most of us find ourselves in awe of those videos of a little kid, maybe just five years old, who can sit down at a piano and pound out a Mozart sonata like he was born with the instrument in his hands. We marvel at such raw talent, and some of us might even feel a little jealous we don’t have it.

And sure, while most of us weren’t playing Mozart when we were five, the fact remains that most of us, given enough desire, determination, and practice, could learn to play that sonata at some point. While we may not have the talent, we do have the capacity to learn the skill.

I pick the musical example on purpose because it represents a category of endeavor where so many of us marvel at the notion of natural talent while ignoring the possibility of finely crafted skill. We tend to see undertakings like music and art and many skilled crafts as the purview of talented artisans even when we are otherwise interested in them.

While talent can give someone a head start in such endeavors, I posit that it is the development of skill that gives anyone, talented or otherwise, the tools to succeed. To me, talent is a starting point on a line defined by skill. Talented people start with natural skill.

Why is that important? Because, I believe, anything can be learned by anyone, as I mentioned earlier, given enough desire, determination, and practice. Yes, those three things may be lacking, and as a result, a skill may not be successfully honed, but that does not mean it cannot be.

So, the next time you marvel and someone else’s talent and wonder if you could ever do that, try. Find out. If you really want to, you might surprise yourself.

DLH

Read more at my Random thoughts from a wandering mind weblog...

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Philosophy: Send in the clones…

I had a far ranging debate last night that, among its several features, touched on clones. They weren’t what that debate was really about, and this post isn’t really what that debate was about. But, it got me thinking about how we think about clones.

I suspect, if pressed to give an off-the-cuff answer, most of us would describe a clone as a copy. And, because we think of them as a copy, we tend to think of them as being some kind of facsimile of the original. As such, we imagine them having many of the same characteristics of the original, even going so far as imaging them to have the same personality or even memories.

The reality of clones are far more complex. For clones gestated from contributed biological material, the similarity to the original may only be as much as that biology allows, which can often be far less than we imagine. Even with exact biological similarity, time, nature, and experience will mold the clone into something ultimately independent of the original beyond the constraints biology creates. Even if, somehow, the clone is an exact biological and experiential replica of the original, the moment it becomes independent, it becomes individual.

I think our preconceptions about things like clones speak to our preconceptions about a lot of life. It’s useful to sometimes take a step back and examine those preconceptions because, sometimes, we discover what we thought isn’t what’s true at all.

DLH

Read more at my Philosophy weblog...

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment