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April 30th, 2006


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04:06 pm - Football, Electricity, Cookies
Hello, LiveJournal. I have had some good ideas for posts, but am finding it difficult to turn good ideas for posts into posts that I am actually happy making. daweaver pointed out this really good article on friendship, blogging and obligation, which would still be really good even if it didn't have gorgeous pictures. Perhaps part of the reason ducks are cute is that the shape of their beak makes them look as if they're smiling all the time.

I am a fourth-generation fan of Sunderland football club. (Dad supports them, so did his Dad, so did his Dad. The first generation of Dickson Sunderland fans were blatantly glory hunters because the team was one of the best in the country at the end of the 19th century.) However, it's delightful to get caught up in the current hoo-ha regarding Middlesbrough football club having reached the final of the pan-European football UEFA Cup. Trying to explain the significance of this accurately to US folk is tricky; the closest comparison I can concoct is a college basketball team reaching the final of the NIT post-season event, but a lot better - for instance, suppose the NCAA college basketball tournament only took 16 teams instead of 64, so there was the potential for a team who weren't in the NCAA's 16 to be really, really worthy of respect.

My woes with trying to pay for the electricity I use at this flat continue to develop. Finally I have a bill for my first 3½ months' electricity, but it is for £483.47, which I believe to be wrong. I think they are billing me for a lot of electricity used before I moved in; I have a meter reading from when I moved in, which isn't what they used for the bill. Unfortunately it wasn't explained to me that the electricity meter has a reading for normal-tarriff electricity and a reading for cheap-tarriff electricity, so I feel a lot less confident about claiming that their numbers are incorrect when I only have one of the two readings I need to suggest what the numbers should have been. I'm fairly confident that my electricity bill going forward should be of the order of £45 per month, which is simultaneously a lot (I may well move supplier if there is a better alternative) and just about believable considering it's an electricity-only apartment and the amount of heating needed in summer and winter varies. I have a nasty suspicion that the accurate figure for the cost of the electricity I've consumed to date may well not be £483.47 but could well be somewhere around £300; I had my £2-per-day-even-on-half-speed fan heater running a lot of the time this winter.

On a happier note, I followed the recipe Meg showed me to make some chocolate chip cookies last night and they broadly turned out rather well. Towards the end I added sultanas, lemon juice and lime juice and the results turned out really to my taste. However, the edges of the cookies were browning and even burning before the middle of the cookies were properly cooking through. Would turning the temperature of the oven in which they were cooked down from the recipe's recommendation, but cooking them for a longer time, help? Is there a better technique than simply spooning misshapen blobs of dough onto a flat baking tray to ensure relative evenness of cookie thickness throughout the biscuit and so even out cooking times? Would using a muffin (or small Yorkshire Pudding, etc.) tin instead help?

In general, I am a bit fed up, not least because there are far too many people I care about to whom inexplicably, unfairly out-of-their-control bad things are happening. RAR!
Current Mood: restlessrestless :-/
Current Music: "The Key, The Secret" - Urban Cookie Collective

(34 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:brigbother
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC)
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YThat does sound like rather a lot, given thatb our house fo five only use about £40 of lectricity a month.

Sorry, drynk.
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From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC)
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I would say "man, you got started early tonight", but I've just realised it's 5:18pm. It would help if I weren't still in PJs and dressing gown. Shower soon.

Have a good night!
[User Picture]
From:lambertman
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)
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That does seem rather high. My last two electricity bills were $135 and $115, and much of that is due to someone having the heat running at the apartment almost 24/7 in a colder-than-usual winter. Plus two TiVos and one computer always on, natch. But NOT an internet fridge.

Generalizing, I wouldn't imagine your flat is much bigger than my place.
[User Picture]
From:lambertman
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
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rather
flat

Do I always use more British words when talking to you? And is it annoying? :)
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC)
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Probably and definitely not. Meg's vocabulary changes as much as her accent when she's talking in different contexts. All of her vocabularies and accents are delightful.
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:April 30th, 2006 08:56 pm (UTC)
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*preens*
From:2ndavemusic
Date:April 30th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
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Meg's originally from the South, no? (Georgia?) And then spent significant time in Bahston. And now is engaged to your Fineself.

Oh, my. A dialectician would have a field day! Me, I just want to hear her voice one of these days.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)
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You would run an Internet fridge 24/7 if you had one, though, wouldn't you?

At what rate is electricity charged in the US? npower currently are charging me 11.8 pence per unit (kilowatt-hour) during the day and 4.02 pence per unit (kilowatt-hour) during the night. There are no standing charges, but there's a surcharge on the first 728 kilowatt-hours per year which acts as (effectively) a standing charge of about £81 per year.

That said, npower will be paying something like 2-4 pence per unit (kilowatt-hour) to generate that electricity, on average. (I stress the on average - there will have been points this winter when their gas-fired and oil-fired station would have been very expensive to run simply because of the high gas and oil prices - and while I don't know, I would really be surprised if the coal price hadn't gone up nearly as much in its own way.) Now the cost of generating the electricity is only a small component of the cost of supplying it to the consumer, but that's a pretty good sort of mark-up in my view. I wonder if there is a gap in the market for some branch of the Co-Operative movement, or some other not-as-egregiously-for-profit organisation, to get into domestic energy supply?
[User Picture]
From:lambertman
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:45 pm (UTC)
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oddly, i appear to have been charged different rates every month - 6.9 cents during March versus 6.4 in Feb and 5.7 cents in Jan.

I don't get that at all.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 30th, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
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A service where you were charged a flat rate for servicing plus the actual cost of electricity generation would be, at least conceptually, very cool indeed - though hard to budget.

Damn, I need an electricity industry icon as well as all the icons I need.
[User Picture]
From:meggitymeg
Date:April 30th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
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I told Chris I wanted an internet fridge for my birthday, but I don't think he was listening....
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From:ringbark
Date:May 4th, 2006 06:57 am (UTC)
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What *is* an internet fridge? Is it something that guarantees that teh internets will always be cool?
(Deleted comment)
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From:missingdonut
Date:April 30th, 2006 05:09 pm (UTC)
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That's a good point about the type of oven -- convection ovens have to be turned down by 10-15 degrees Centigrade as compared to gas or standard electrics. But those types of ovens aren't very prevalent on my side of the pond; is it different over there?
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 30th, 2006 05:29 pm (UTC)
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Being truthful but embarrassingly ignorant, I'm not sure. Certainly there are no obvious fans, but there is definitely more of a fan noise when the oven is in operation than for our gas oven at home which I am fairly sure has no fan. That may well be the key - or, at least, sufficient reason to keep experimenting by turning down further.

The cookie dough was really quite stiff and prone to sticking to the whisk; far stiffer than when Meg made it. Accordingly, getting it onto the tray in any sort of useful state alone was quite a challenge, and using a spatula would seem most unlikely without the dough sticking to it. (I have a vague suspicion that rinsing the spatula off in hot water between cookies would do the trick.) I am idly wondering whether piping it onto the baking tray through an icing bag with a really thick nozzle might work. The tray wasn't greased, either, and that too may be worth a shot. (What would you use? Butter?)

Thanks for all the tips - much appreciated! I rather enjoyed making these cookies and may well make some more. A charity bake might even be in the offing, more likely targeted at work, but believe it when you see it.

I downloaded "The Key, The Secret" last night, having been reminded of it by a load of '90s music on the radio. Not quite as good as I remember - but whenever are these things in practice? - but still a pretty dreamy track.
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From:zorac
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)
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That does sound a lot. My Nov-Jan bill came out at around £120 - call it £180 if we pretend that the storage heaters used standard rate rather than discounted electricity.

As for cookies, I think that longer at a lower heat is the way to go, but then I like them to still be gooey in the middle...
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 30th, 2006 05:37 pm (UTC)
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Me too, broadly, but these were not completely solid to the point of collapse. Well, three of them were - the rest were OK. Not sure how many I made in the end, but probably either 64 or 72. Most of them were a shade bigger than standard chocolate digestives, too.
[User Picture]
From:lathany
Date:April 30th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC)
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daweaver pointed out this really good article on friendship, blogging and obligation

I found that very interesting for two different reasons.

1. The sort of service that a blog supplies.
There was a rather good feature on mono (so I have been told) where the readers of a blog were recorded (all users had to be logged on to post). Therefore no-one had to rely on comments to believe that other people read their journal, they could just look at the list of hits. I think that this is one feature LJ is really missing. So many people (myself included) use LJ as a form of communication first and foremost (rather than as a diary, etc.) and so it's nice to know who's read/enjoyed/been interested in a journal entry.

2. The comments on friendship.
"The only right we have is to feel friendship, express it, but we can’t demand a thing in return. We may think we’ve given a precious gift, and as such the other owes us something in return. They don’t owe us a damn thing, and that makes life interesting, challenging, and sometimes, disappointing."

I thought that this was spot on. I used to belong to a community where, on the one hand, there would be complaints about what one was "owed" by one's friends and, on the other hand, complaints about people who dared to walk away from friendships (or, more often, complaints about people walking away before spelling out any or all of the issues).

My answer to the first, in common with this writer, is that it's hard to argue that you're owed 'a damn thing' (although I've certainly felt otherwise on more than one occasion!). If you don't like a friendship then you can choose to offer comments and criticisms in the hope of improving it, but they don't have to change for you, or even hear you out! On the flip side, the choice to make those comments and criticisms - usually a difficult and/or painful task - is yours (and not theirs), because the effort is. In essence, you can try and negotiate within a friendship, but neither side has any obligation to.

Ultimately, and also in answer to the second, the final options are to stay or to walk away. In particular, everyone has to have the right to walk away from a friendship; just as they have the right to walk away from any other relationship which isn't working for them.

Towards the end I added sultanas, lemon juice and lime juice and the results turned out really to my taste.

Sounds like an excellent modification!
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 30th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)
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1) What an interesting concept! I wonder if it could be easily codified into the framework of the LJ codebase, let alone whether LJ's current operators would consider it a beneficial feature to permit?

2) *salutes*

The cookies turned out well, but I ate too many of them last night. Eating one per batch for tasting is a decent enough concept, but impractical if you only bake eight at a time. A bigger baking tray would doubtless help.

I need a cookie icon.
[User Picture]
From:imc
Date:April 30th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
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1. I doubt it. However, if you own a web server (or use a hosting service that gives you the access logs) then you can track readers by adding web bugs to your entries. It doesn't always tell you who is reading, but usually the fact that it's referred from someone's friends page is a dead giveaway.
[User Picture]
From:ringbark
Date:May 4th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC)

LJ Toys

(Link)
This feature is available from ljtoys.org.uk
[User Picture]
From:undyingking
Date:May 1st, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC)
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They would probably be concerned about the extra load it would place on their databases / servers -- that seems to be their response to most suggestions for cool added features!
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:April 30th, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC)
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Wow, that is a high electricity bill! Then again, I've been pretty steady on $45 a month so I'm spoiled.

For the cookies, flatten the dough ball out and then make a small indentation in the center of the top of the cookie (biscuit? crazy brits). It won't burn on the outside and the center of the cookie should still puff up a bit in the middle.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:April 30th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC)
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See above comments about stickiness of dough and difficulty of handling upon the baking tray. If I can get a less stiff dough next time then patting, pricking and marking with B are definitely on the agenda.

I was debating with myself whether these are cookies or biscuits. It would be excessively poncy to pretend that I decieded against biscuit because these are, after all, not twice cooked. Lamely, if I hadn't been taught the recipe by Meg who referred to them as cookies then these would have been far more likely to be biscuits and less likely to be cookies. Our kids will be so Mid-Atlantic.

Just for you, hoping that this doesn't reveal "a bit of television magic", this.
[User Picture]
From:missingdonut
Date:April 30th, 2006 06:16 pm (UTC)
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It looks like you're trying to murder the bottle of Diet Coke in that picture :^)

Even sticky dough can be successfully patted into a nice shape, it just requires care and a willingness on the part of the cook. Then again, I'm quite hands-on, and I pat my meat loaf into shape with my bare hands, too. I think the name is the least important part, and perhaps you should call them "biscuies."
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From:hermorrine
Date:April 30th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
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Hmm. Cookie baking is an odd art form that requires the most magical of devices - an oven that bloody works properly. Having lived in about 5 zillion places now, I can tell you I've not found this elusive item yet. Should you discover said beast, please do document its existence because it's certain to run off in the night as soon as it's been found.

...what?
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 9th, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC)
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I am sure there must be a slovenly coven of ovens in Eindhoven.
From:2ndavemusic
Date:April 30th, 2006 09:39 pm (UTC)
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Have you an oven thermometer? It's possible that the oven is running hotter than you think, which would account for the browning difference. I want to think that the citrus juice would have something to do with it, too. (In fact, I think I will. There. I have thought it, and expressed the thought to you.)

Also, any technique other than plopping misshapen blobs of dough is better than that. Our Guru recommends a small ice cream scoop.

I don't know the square footage (meterage?) of your place, but will say that our townhouse is all-electric, and the utility bill is seldom under $100/month.
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 9th, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC)
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No oven thermometer, but it's by no means a bad idea - not least because thermometers are fun.

The issue with scoops of all sorts is that of detaching the dough from the scoop. I'm considering piping it through an icing bag with a wide nozzle, as the actress said to the bishop.
From:2ndavemusic
Date:May 10th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC)
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This is the sort of thing I had in mind.

And you keep your actresses and your hierarchs out of this discussion!
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 9th, 2006 06:33 pm (UTC)
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I don't know the square footage (meterage?)

What you need is a metremeter, commonly known as a "measuring tape".
From:2ndavemusic
Date:May 10th, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)
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No, smarty, you need the metremeter. If I'm going to take the measurements, I also need a plane ticket.

I know the area of my place. Had to measure it for home-office deduction use.
[User Picture]
From:canadianpuzzler
Date:April 30th, 2006 11:12 pm (UTC)
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A good tip in general for helping ensure done-ness (one that is almost a necessity with my chocolate chip cookie recipe of choice) is to leave the cookies on the pan for five minutes after they come out of the oven.

With my recipe of choice, if I take the cookies out when the edges turn brown, the inside of the cookie is not quite done but bakes nicely on the pan as it radiates the heat out that it absorbed in the oven.
[User Picture]
From:undyingking
Date:May 1st, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC)

£483.47

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swine! -- can't you tell them where you work and threaten to cut off their supply?
[User Picture]
From:jiggery_pokery
Date:May 9th, 2006 06:06 pm (UTC)

Re: £483.47

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In a similar vein, sometimes we joke - joke - about taking a dodgy suitcase full of electricity home from work.

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