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µBITx

The µBITx, pronounced Micro -Bit -X  is an amatuer radio transceiver.  It works from 3 – 30 Megahertz.  It is a kit, sort of, and is very inexpensive.  Mine was $109 with a $10 dollar extra charge for REALLY fast shipping from India. It was accepted for shipment 65 hours before delivery in South Texas.

There are many cool things about this radio. 3- 30 Megahertz is a very big swath of radio frequency. It sends and receives morse code and single side band voice. AM radio waves are made by combining a radio frequency signal, a plain sin wave at a fixed frequency with an audio wave. What comes out of the radio is the fixed frequency wave called the carrier and two side bands that are the carrier plus and minus the frequency of the audio. The carrier , although it is called a carrier carries no information other than what the fixed frequency is. The two side bands duplicate the audio information. What single side band does is eliminate the carrier and one of the side bands early in the process and amplifies the remaining sideband. Having to only amplify one part of the signal allows it, using the same amount of power, to be stronger. All of the juice goes into the one side band making it louder, stronger.  It also creates a much less wide signal allowing more conversations to go on at the same time. Please do not consider me an expert on any of this. My knowlege is really limited and people with more abound.

So, how does this radio work?  Old radios produced the carrier with a combination of components. The easiest way  to make an oscillator is with a coil and a capacitor. The coil holds a charge in magnetic field, and a capacitor holds one in an electric field. These two devices when set up properly send energy back and forth between each other at a certain frequency determined by how they are constucted, how “big” they are. The problem with these simple oscillators is that they change frequency with temperature, and the heat up with use.
Skipping all of the other intermediate steps in oscillator development, at least in part because I really know little about all of this brings us to the µBITx.

The µBITx creates its base frequency with chip that has a circuit designed to create the frequency of your choice. You program in what you want and the frequency comes out. The chip accepts commands using a language called I2C. THis language goes over a pair of wires.  The computer that sends this is a small computer I am a bit familiar with called an Arduino.

ส้มตำมะละกอSom Tum Malakoh

  • 3-4 cups papaya Julienned fineมะละกอดิบสับขิ้นฝอยๆ
  • 1/2 cup ground dried shrimp (coarse)ก้งแห้งป่น
  • 8-10 cloves garlicกลีบกระเทียม
  • 4-5 small chillies pequinsพริกขี้หนูสด
  • 4-5 black peppercorns or green if availableผริกไทย
  • 1-2 dried chilliพริกแห้ง
  • 2T Fish sauce, jaggery lime juice and tamarind pod water if available.น้ำตาลปีบ น้ำปลา น้ำมะขามเปียก
  • 1t Shrimp pasteกะปิ
  • 2T fresh roasted peanutsถั่วลิสงเผา
  • 2-6 cherry tomatosมะเขือเทศเล็กเล็ก

This recipe is about balance. If something is too powerful add something else.
Julienne the peeled papaya with a sharp knife and a coarse vegetable peeler.
In a Danwkean Mortar pound the peppers garlic, shrimp paste  adding the peanuts last and pound the peanuts  lightly. You can also use mortars from Ubon and Nongkhai.
Add papaya and pound each small batch until partially translucent.

StudioBalletDualismTheErumpancyScale

Often my memories seem tied to ideas. I remember the ideas and  then the facts flex to fit the thesis or concept. So I remember Victor Babu with his feet together slightly on his tiptoes hands open and arms outstretched above his head saying, “blossoming” in reference to a pot form. My memory is that despite his huge shoulders and small hips this dance, this pose had a grace, perhaps equivalent to the suggested grace in the  to the phrase of  Cardew, “The Majesty of Form”.
He, Victor, a fantastic human, was describing a condition of a pot, a kind of breath. This word, breath, is not one I hear defined directly in “A potter’s Workbook” but Clary Illian talks the concept. She talks about the interaction between the surface or wall of a pot and the column or volume of air on the inside. I describe a relation between the skin, the absolute-skin-surface of a pot and the volume – the air inside is surely a better description for some. Breath, as a word, is tied to Buddhist ideals but these ideals or ideas, are not really that removed from the fullness, balance, and active stillness (active or anticipatory stasis) suggested by the breath in pots. Back then while I was in school either we did not use this word “breath” or my ears had a special filter to keep it out.
Patty Driscol, Gail Busch and I were sitting around one  evening (Kathy Ervin) could have been over, looking through the dictionary for some reason and thinking of this dance of Victor, his word, “blossoming”, or at least the idea of it and I came across the word erumpant.  Erumpant is ready to burst, ready to pop. A pregnant woman, a ripe fruit, and as I have a certain taste for the tasteless, a zit ready to pop. I think we had been playing scrabble.
There is really only one sort of ripeness, one fullness, described by “erumpent” but I think it is one sort with stages. It is a useful word but rather one dimensional. We really have many different varieties of fullness in the field of ceramics. Having thought about it for years I now have more categories, a bud, a blossom opening, opened, even wilting, there is growth like a shoot of bamboo, thickening of the trunk like a tree or a kapok tree, the beer belly, as well as the various perceptions of erumpancy. There is  beginning to bulge, quickly beginning, a hint of readiness or ripeness, ready to burst, actually bursting , burst and a sort of flacid loss of muscle or skin tone. Each have their place, and grace, and all can have breath if done well. Some are harder to pull off than others.
The words themselves have little meaning when it comes to pots until we categorize ideas, visual ideas and assign them to the words. Some words collect these ideas better than others. These words contain action, emotion, and layers of expectations. If they do not have these layers of meaning then using them adds nothing to the already obvious characteristics of the pot as in,”that is a smooth pot”. So it is not really the use of words, but what we put into them. ya ya  ya.

Recently I went to a ceramics conference in Kansas City. I got to see Victor for a few short minutes. I don’t think that I can  trydescribe talking with Victor in any way that truly captures it. There were scores of people waiting to talk ad I had only a few minutes. It was delightful.

Shape, a separate essay but attached to the original version will appear in a different post.

แกงป่า Jungle Curry

Working on  Jungle Curry แกงป่า

  • http://www.food.com/recipe/jungle-curry-81294
  • deleted recipe nestle food who I refuse to have anything to do with.
  • http://www.mummyicancook.com/2011/07/ultimate-guide-to-thai-curries-and-i.html
  • http://www.hairybikers.com/recipes/view/thai-jungle-curry#j007oqgt0r1YgLoH.97

Tom Yum Kung ต้มยำกุ้ง

This is the Thai national dish. When you say something is Tom Yum Kung, you are saying that it is authentically Thai.  Its like saying that something is “as American as apple pie”. The Asian Monetary Crisis of 1997 which seemed to start in Thailand is often referred to as “Tom Yum Kung”.

This is the start of a post on a recipe for Tom Yum Kung. My sources are memory, Jennifer Brennan’s (Hot Pink) Original Thai Cookbook and Hot Thai Kitchens youtube video http://hot-thai-kitchen.com/tom-yum-goong/ and Thai Food Master http://www.thaifoodmaster.com/thai_food_recipes/thai_soup_recipes/320
My memories are scattered but as always include Umdang Ceramics and a certain little whole in the wall place in Korat that kept upping the peppers every time we went there.

This page says to add 4 shallots http://www.thaifoodmaster.com/thai_food_recipes/thai_soup_recipes/320 This page also says to fry prawn brains in oil until golden. They add them late in the process to the soup and it adds an orange color. I will probably get headless shrimp so no prawn brains.
I have had shallots in Tom Yum but have never included them in my recipe. I am gonna try some this time.
I really like the oil that has had shrimp shells fried in it so  I am going to use that part of the Hot Pink cook book.

2T vege oil I like the way it looks if it goes red.
8 cups quality chicken stock using skin and feet if possible
1.5t salt
1″ of galangal fresh from my garden sliced in rounds.
3 stalks lemon grass 1″ length. from my garden, bruise before cutting.
Kaffir Lime leaf 4 slivered from my garden
1 t kaffir zest but other limes OK from my garden, maybe fresh
2 green chili, serrano, or one polano slivered (bruise first). I will  throw in a few pequins.
4 shallots
2 pounds shrimp peel de-vein and reserve the shells.
1 slivered red chili slivered (bruise first)
2 limes juiced.
1T Fish Sauce. Louis uses a tad of shrimp paste.
2 T coriander leaves chopped coarse
3 green onions chopped coarse from my garden
mushrooms, I am going shitake this time I think.
a small amount of vegetable matter but this soup traditionally has little to none. I am not sure what, but maybe a few bits of slivered root veges.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXaaZiMgvgI Hot Thai Kitchen says maybe to add some Nam Prik Phao it adds some nice color. I may put in some powdered dry  ancho chili early with the shrimp shells.

Fry shells in oil , add stock, galangal, leaf and rind of kaffir.  green chilli shallots. simmer the stock.
Bring to a boil add veges, mushrooms first, then shrimp. Slightly undercook the shrimp. Remove from heat add lime juice fish sauce sugar coriander and green onion. Check for salt, sugar, pepper, fish sauce.  serve. Guests that are late get it cold. Do not bring this back to a boil.

 

น้ำบูดูและข้าวยำปักษ์ใต้ Nam Bu Du and Kao Yam (Rice Salad and Southern Fish Sauce)

I am working on making KaoYam with Nam Bu Du น้ำบูดู a dish from the south of Thailand, really from Malaysia. I am going to at least start with the recipe on this page.
She Simmers Thai Cooking KaoYam
I have been told by an old friend HS9DEK with a glorious voice and welcoming warm personality that I should use Thai Bu Du sauce. I have not spoken with him for most of a year. Catching him online was great.
A friend gave me a small amount of homemade Bu Du….

Descrete Tea

In most aspects of my life I rebel at the idea of analogue or digital values; the idea that things are good or bad, that blue is distinct from green or red; I rebel against the idea  that any delineation has reality.

So, sitting in the bath, I find it odd that it seems I have discrete areas of acceptable teaware, that I have an integer scale of acceptable attitudes in the sense of teaware. That there is somehow some set of emotive or apparent intent that is acceptable, good, powerful and that the in-between pots fall flat. Rather than in-between two ideas, they seen to have mixed messages. Beyond surprise there is a level of revulsion I seem to have attached to the acceptance of dualist or descreteist values. It is not just putting things in a box or on a scale but giving them near numeric symbols. They violate ideas I hold dear. The ideas are of course self denying. They too are dualistic, digital, on/off, idealistic.

Tomorrow I will start trying to figure out if these values exist at desecrate levels or if this is like all others an analogue scale. Tonight it looks like integers. I know that ideas like this grow legs so I am putting them to paper unfinished unrefined raw and probably embarrassing.

There is the Victor Babu tightness of pots,,so clean that the wind going by does not feel them, they are aerodynamic, effortless to move.

There is a looseness that is not yet loose, it imbibes power and security, a fullness that comes from energy and surety. Maybe Cardew is the modern potter that carries this idea. The forms are clean but not fretted over. Folk pots thrown again and again often get this power.

There is the looseness that comes from acceptance, not like jazz or improvisation, not from over-rehearsal, but from treating every performance like something new, knowing that to tie it down too tight is to deny the ability to take advantage of the emotion of the moment. It is not the attainment of perfection that is the product but the looking for it.

There is the looseness that comes from knowing that the real art may lie in the viewing, that the shelf does not spin, that we really do not think in three dimensions well and that perhaps the mild undulation adds interest, expresses humility (as only G-d can be perfect) that the attempt at perfection is vain.

Then there is the first big step, where even the casual viewer will see the asymmetry, where they may view a coarse, rough hewn, perhaps unfinished seeming, appearance. None of the attributes must look contrived, they must appear as if they just happen and were accepted. The acceptance must be apparent, acceptance like other parts of an object must have intendedness.

The next step is hard to understand. Even the lack of contrivedness looks attempted, it is clear that there was intent, yet every aspect of the pot has this appearance. It wants to be seen as if it just happened but the hand is apparent, It requires skill, clearness of mind and intent to show the failed attempt to hide this. It is hard to explain. To me it seems to be Goro Suzuki’s gift. There needs to be a wildness to the attempt. It is the clear intent to fail at making it look uncontrived that makes it succeed.

There are a few other works or qualities of them that seem not quite to sit on the scale. One, perhaps the most important, is the visual manifestation of intuition rather than planning. All great pots of this type at least look connected to intuition, not plodding analytic processes.

Another is energy. It is perhaps manifest in the intuitive, but is also manifest in surety in the lack of self doubt. It is the trust in intuition that allowed Voulkos the ability to punch holes and tear away sections of his pieces….. trust, a security in the process more than fearlessness.

Cello

I walk to work frequently. I talk with local and Thai friends over ham radio on the walk into work. On the walk home I usually try to talk with my brother.

A few years ago, “Michael, you’ll never guess what I just found.” It was a cello in a soft case, about as fragile as a baby in a onesie. I checked the case for ID, there was none. I picked it up and started carrying it in to work. You cannot just leave a cello on the side of the road.

I work in the same building as the music department and I figure they would be able to figure out whose it was. By the time I got to campus my brain had started to work and I wondered if carrying what might be stolen property to work was dumbest thing I ever did. I stopped at the guard booth on the way into campus.” Can I use your phone to call the police?”. They said “no”. “O.K. , says I, “can you call em for me?”. Shirt stuffing says, “no”. Louis, a bit miffed says, “What kind of guard booth is this? Do you just stand there and get paid for it?”. He says, “OK you can use the phone.” I call the campus cops, and they send some one over. “We can’t take possession of it, it was not found on campus”. I say, “OK, I am just letting you know I have it so you don’t think I stole it. I am going to take it to the music department to try and find out whose it is.” Just as I finish this I hear my ham radio call letters on my handi talkie. Its a local ham who is also a police lieutenant. He heard my earlier conversation. “Louis we found the owner of the cello. It was stolen this morning. Can I send my officer over to pick it up?” The officer and I missed each other and the pickup took way too much time. I saw the lieutenant the next month and apologized for wasting the officer’s time. The lieutenant said, “Anytime we can return stolen property with half a day from when it was stolen, don’t quibble about wasting a few minutes”.

Steel cut

A friend posts something about how to cook and freeze portions of steel cut oats so that cooking them would not be a chore. I answered with this:
“OK, I’ll admit it. When you look at me a lot of what you see is oatmeal. I have been eating it once to twice a day since 1980 or so. I have never eaten it three times in a day. After 34 years of this I am a little tired of it but I keep eating it anyways. It lasts the whole morning and all throught the night. I have cooked steel cut oats a few times but as many of you know, I am just an old fashioned flake.”