Crockpot Chicken Tinga

I found some important info about adobo sauce, which I think has helped. Also, this is the crockpot-adapted version, no other cooking vessel got dirtied. We’ll see. Of course I neglected to make notes of the intermediate experiment which worked so well; we’ll see how this crockpot-specific version goes.

Ingredients:

  • 2T olive oil
  • 4 yellow onions, minced
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 pounds chicken (frozen in big chunks)
  • 2T powdered ancho chile
  • 1t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2T cumin seeds
  • 1/8t ground cloves
  • 2T apple cider vinegar
  • 4T oregano
  • Couple of good pinches of salt
  • 4 cups chicken stock (bouillon)

Directions:

Place onions and garlic at bottom of crockpot. Add all seasonings, and layer the chicken pieces on top of that. Pour boiling water over this to cover.

Cover the crockpot and set on high.

When done, shred chicken with forks. Probably add flour or masa to thicken.

Angry at Fedex

I was worried that the package coming today was marked “signature required” by the sender. I put a note on the door, and made a point of sitting in first-floor space near the front door, so I could hear anybody (usually I can hear car doors closing out on the street; though delivery trucks often don’t ever close the doors so that doesn’t always make noise).

I was right to be worried. I discovered, when the tracking site updated, that they had been here in stealth mode. To add insult to injury they put the “door tag” under my note. At least I’m not in doubt as to whether they saw the note!

No risk they missed my note!

Guy on the phone says there’s nothing he can do (was very apologetic, but completely useless). Using the website I redirected delivery to one of their in-store sites, where they probably can’t make excuses for not delivering. The guy, and the website, couldn’t tell me anything about how to enter a complaint about this situation, so I’m going to be spending some energy today and probably tomorrow on finding ways to do that; way more energy than I wanted to expend on getting a package delivered, but Fedex has gone above and beyond here so I need to also.

Somewhat Snarky Observations About Post-Processing

Now and then I see people claiming it as a virtue that they don’t “do anything” to their photos after they come out of the camera.

Like most religious wars, neither side is totally lacking in value.

Ansel Adams said “Yes, in the sense that the negative is like the composer’s score. Then, using that musical analogy, the print is the performance.” (Sheff, David (1 May 1983), Playboy Interview: Ansel Adams, p. 226) With film, the negative doesn’t look anything like the final image (true enough in black and white, far more true in color), and everybody understood there were decisions required to get from there to a print. Everybody knew it was very important who did your printing (and many people did their own printing in the darkroom, at least until they got successful enough to hire a first-rate printer to work for them).

The actual data recorded by a digital sensor is even less like an image that could mean anything to a human—the Bayer filter array records each pixel in one color, and those are then combined with complicated algorithms to make a color image of the result. But software to do that is built into our cameras, so it’s possible for people who are ignorant of that (or just haven’t thought about it much) to have the idea that the JPEG that comes out of their camera is what the sensor actually captured and any change from that is a distortion.

Okay, it’s time to strip off a couple of important but unusual branches of photography explicitly. In scientific, forensic, and probably some other specialized branches of photography one is basically recording data rather than making images. The photographer needs to be prepared to argue (or formally testify) that the image accurately represents reality in the specific ways that matter (and may wildly distort other aspects of the imaging if necessary to make the thing they’re illustrating more clearly visible in the images). These are extremely valuable, important, areas of photography, but they don’t participate in stupid arguments about “altering” photos; they have clear formal standards and principles, and they’ve had them for many decades.  This argument isn’t relevant to them.

The experience of actually being in a place, seeing it with your own eyes, is complex and largely synthetic (built up in your brain).  We see full resolution with only a small portion of the retina, but the way the eyes move around and the brain treats the results makes us feel like we perceive precisely everywhere.  Our eyes can see detail in a vastly greater brightness range than cameras can, and that also enters into our perception.  It’s usually desirable to print camera images so they resemble what we think we see, rather than what we actually see at any one point in the scene.

One of the most obvious areas is white balance. Leaving the camera on “auto” white balance somewhat masks the issue (letting the camera make what is essentially a post-processing decision in digital), but it’s quite common to want to make the color captured outdoors in open shade look much more like the color captured indoors under incandescent light than it actually is. This can be done more accurately in post-processing generally than by relying on “auto”.

Every single scene you stand in front of doesn’t look best cropped to 4:3 (or 3:2 or 6:7 or 16:9 or 8:10). Making a fetish of “not cropping” (by which people mean cropping only in the camera and hence always using that exact aspect ratio) will make your work less good. (With miniature cameras, especially 35mm and smaller, and early digital captures, cropping too much could highlight technical issues (grain, etc.), and it was good practice to try to frame tightly to minimize cropping later, yes. But that’s “try” and “minimize”, not make a fetish of completely avoiding.) Mind you, the look of prints with a natural black border from an oversize negative carrier really is rather nice.

When photographing a static scene with a long span in time, it’s useful to make precisely-exposed images that capture the scene as well as possible. This saves some time later, and results in better technical quality (often just very slightly better, but sometimes vastly better). And old slide photographers who projected their original slides (that is, amateurs) were very aware that there was no option for them to adjust exposure later, or cropping either.  However, those of us who photograph dynamic scenes, perhaps with changing lighting as well, and us moving through them constantly would frequently miss our best shots if we took the time to get perfect exposures each time. Yes, as we get better we judge the exposure better by eye, and just work faster, and that has technical benefits to the work that are not to be despised; but the ability to shoot quickly is very often the difference between a brilliant picture and a useless picture in dynamic situations, and using post-processing to make that brilliant but technically somewhat under-exposed picture look excellent is IMHO entirely appropriate.

Making exhibition-grade images often involves a lot of local brightness adjustment—”dodging” and “burning”, deliberate “vignetting” (or correcting corner falloff in your lenses; the opposite of vignetting), gradient filters (and people used split neutral density filters on their lenses when taking film photographs sometimes, especially slides, because of the narrow brightness range they could capture), and so forth. Darkening areas to suppress distracting detail, creating brightness patterns to lead the eye, emphasizing the important features.  Pablo Inirio was the master printer of Magnum Photos for decades, and Magnum has released a few of his annotated workprints for printing important photos.

Pancakes

I make a run at pancakes every now and then for the last few decades. This latest one has come up with a version that meets my requirements (which aren’t entirely mainstream), is so simple I do it from memory, and reheats well.

I don’t like “fluffy” pancakes; this recipe came from increasing the egg and milk and decreasing the baking powder in a standard recipe. It’s not much like French crepes, but it’s less fluffy, thinner, a bit chewier than basic American pancakes.

A single recipe is plenty for one person plus some leftovers, or two people who aren’t big eaters (or who are having the pancakes as part of a bigger breakfast).  And it multiplies easily; a double recipe is two big breakfasts plus some leftovers. By the way, in addition to the microwave, the leftovers can also be heated in a toaster.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup milk (I use 2%)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs. butter (melted)

Method

Dump all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a whisk. Don’t beat to complete smoothness.

Doesn’t hurt to let sit a short while before baking (on a griddle). I use about ¼ cup per pancake, but any of a wide range of sizes work fine.

I cook these on a non-stick aluminum griddle across two stovetop burners. I set the burners at about 4 and 3 on a scale of 10, whatever that means. Between the non-stick  griddle and all the butter in the recipe, I don’t use any oil on the griddle.

So, the usual pancake thing; wait for bubbles to get quite common, some open, then flip the pancake.  Cook a little less time on the second side, and don’t expect it to look the same when done.

Variations

Leaving the sugar out has no effect that I can see. Leaving the butter out has essentially no effect that I can see.  Leaving both the butter and sugar out causes them not to brown much (and that’s why I leave the sugar in the recipe).

The quantity of butter is highly variable; I’ve doubled the recipe and not doubled the butter, and I see little effect. I’ve omitted the butter by mistake and had the pancakes come out tasting fine (though not browned; I didn’t have sugar in that batch either). In double batches I rarely put in 6 entire tablespoons of butter, it just feels excessive.

I haven’t experimented this time around, but I would be nearly certain that substituting oil for the melted butter would work fine.

Progress Scanning Minneapa

For a lot of the Minnesota Science Fiction Society members, including me, Minneapa was an important part of what kept the club going.

(An “APA” or Amateur Press Association can maybe best be described today as an early, dead-tree type of social media.  Each member submitted the required number of copies of their “zine” for each issue, which were then collated together, stapled into one or more sections, and sent to all the members. Our zines contained whatever we wanted, which was often our nattering / essays / rants on things important to us, plus comments on the other zines in the last issue. A new issue was collated every 3 or 4 weeks. The membership ran interestingly beyond just people from Minneapolis, and included quite a number of heavy-hitters from the SF community.)

Minneapa ran for 400 issues (not all with me involved), from 1972 to 2003. Some of these issues ran up to 400 pages (in 3 sections).

So, I’ve been working on scanning these for the Minn-StF archives.  (They aren’t going to be published to the web; privacy and copyright issues don’t seem to allow that. They’ll probably be available on some terms to former members, though, and with luck will eventually be transferred to an institutional archive.) A couple of scanning sessions at Minn-StF meetings, plus a few more with the (borrowed) scanner at home, has produced this:

Scanned Minneapas

Today I got done with the boxes I had organized previously, and dug into the next three boxes.  Here they are sorted by issue number decade:

Four more boxes of Minneapa sorted for scanning; Issues 9x through 2xx

Issues 5x through 8x

 

 

 

There is some duplication; this is my and Pamela’s old copies, and I joined before she did (may have dropped out sooner, not sure about that).  And after this I have almost another 200 on the high end that neither of us was a member for (Dean Gahlon and Beth Friedman have agreed to provide those for scanning), and a bit of fill-in on the low end (about 1-55) (Martin Schafer has agreed to provide these for scanning).

A very rough estimate places this somewhere around 50,000 pages (a worst-case estimate gives 160,000 pages, but not all 400 issues were 400 pages). And especially in the early days, few of those pages were photocopied or offset printed; some were mimeographed, but most were dittoed, often using multiple master colors and on paper other than white.  Purple on blue is one of my least favorites to try to OCR. Not all the printing was particularly good, either.  Then there are the hand-written zines.

I keep fussing with ways of adjusting the scans to make them more legible (and to OCR better), and that’s an infinite task (rather like the Augean Stables in fact). But I may be improving the results somewhat (and I’m aiming for methods that can then be applied easily to groups of pages in later issues).