Monthly Archives: March 2012

So Busy I Forgot To Jack Off.

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Keeping a blog is like jacking off with the window open. You’re not necessarily ensuring that anyone will watch, but you’re not certain you’re not alone, either; clearly you are rather hoping someone will watch, else you’d have shut the window. All blogging is self-indulgent, hence Self-Absorbed Twat. I like to think that being honest about blogging’s masturbatory nature makes it somehow less narcissistic — but even I know that’s bullshit. It’s just jacking off next to an open window.

There. I daresay we’ve taken that particular metaphor quite far enough.

Anyway, my jacking-off time of late has been considerably inhibited by the spectre of gainful employment, which will one day suck the last of the life from me but which remains necessary if I desire luxuries like auto insurance, bread pudding and telephone service. Which is a pity, but it doesn’t mean I’m not geeking out in my little windows of spare time. Tony assures me that my little obsessions are fascinating only to me, but for those as Poindexter as I, and in the interest of a quick topic, my current pursuits include:

Bitchin’ Sourdough Starter. I’ve gotten into yeast breads lately, which is an offshoot of the soft pretzel project. I baked up some farmer’s white bread and was unhappy with the texture; the Mafia could have used that loaf to put wiseguys to sleep with the fishes. I turned it into bread pudding and resolved to find something better. I adore sourdough bread — love it more than pie, so of course it became incumbent upon me to learn how to make it. Sourdough starter is one of those mystical baker’s things which is meant to be passed on; the recommended method of obtaining one is from a “known” starter, one which has been nurtured and also used with proven success. But of course I don’t know a soul, much less a baker dedicated enough to keep a sourdough starter!

So I am starting a couple of starters, and it’s ever so interesting. Basically what you are doing is mixing whole grain flour with water and allowing it to ferment in a sealed container. I’ve got one started with whole wheat (Gold Medal, sadly, so it probably sucks and won’t work) and one started with cornmeal just to be a wiseass. The really cool thing about sourdough starter is that you have to feed it. Yes, just like a little organic Tamagotchi, it will grow ill and die if you don’t keep it fed. Meanwhile it is meant to bubble and sprout odd patches of liquid and develop that distinctive San Francisco smell. It’s like a science project in my kitchen! I’m in dork heaven.

The Reproductive Cycle of the Malaysian Trumpet Snail; Aquatic Genetics. Recently a snail appeared as if from nowhere in my aquarium. He is small and has a pointed shell, like an ecru ice cream cone with golden brown dapples. I wondered and wondered about him — he was very hard to spot visually at first, as Malaysian trumpets like to burrow into the gravel, and by the time I spotted him for the second time I was firmly convinced I’d hallucinated him the first time. It took me a bit to get the search right, but Google finally led me to his identity and how the fuck he got into my aquarium: he’s the Malaysian trumpet snail, and he probably came in when only a couple of millimeters long on a live plant or in some gravel or water from new tank residents. Now that a few weeks have gone by, Boolie and I have recently spotted a tiny Malaysian trumpet in addition to the original. Come to find out they reproduce asexually! I got to thinking I have no idea how that goes down; my apple snails have been multiplying, but they’re egg-layers who fuck the old-fashioned way. (See Facebook for several photos of apple snail penis. It’s fascinating.) So it’s off to read up the reproductive process in the Malaysian trumpet snail. I want to find out the physical process, and how the heck they’re built. How is it that I’ve reached the age of 51 and can’t even tell you how asexual reproduction works in logistical terms?

While I’m at it, the guppies have been breeding as well, and I’ve been studying the colors of the juvenile guppies and apple snails, because they are of known parentage and their parents are of contrasting colors. Apparently no one has really studied the genetics of apple snail shell color; I’m certain in guppies it’s been studied half to death. The whole genetics thing is sort of at a standstill unless I’m prepared to start extracting snail DNA, but it makes for lots of entertaining observation time.

Buddy Holly. I’m so ass backwards about music: I didn’t even discover Elvis Costello until 1991. Buddy Holly’s music was burned into my brain, as it is into the brains of all baby boomers, but I had never really sat down and listened to the guy until after the night The Buddy Holly Story happened to pop up on cable. As a movie it was nothing to write home about, but suddenly the music knocked my feet out from under me. The guy is, after all, the source of absolutely everything in rock, a musician’s musician if ever there was one. And you knew that, and I knew that, except that suddenly in 2012 I am listening to Buddy Holly, everything he ever did. Amazing. And the recordings are so charming — one day I heard a noise I couldn’t quite place, and suddenly realized That’s tape hiss! And I love the sound of tape hiss.

Next Time: Of Dumbo rats and El Niño probabilities.