F 1 D 0 -- 02 07 31 at 01 00

The Xanthan Report.

Oh, I know how very much you all love Xanthan Gum.

Since my last writing, you've been asking Wal-Mart,
Kroger's, Meijer's, Shop'n'Stop, and Stah Mahket to
keep lots of these cooking gums available for purchase.

Well, today I experimented with Xanthan Gum during my
burger making. I found the stuff useless for baking, so
I wanted to see if it would make the burgers juicier.

Oh, WAAAY juicier. Too juicy. Don't go using it. I'd better

I was working with 6 lbs of semi frozen Lean Ground Beef.
I'd use my finger tips to rip off about two pounds of it,
in bits, into a big bowl. I added an egg, two slices of
12 grain bread (in small bits). I squirted an ounce of
salty (not low salt) soy sauce and two oz of louisiana
style hot sauce into the bread. I dusted that liberally
with garlic granules. 

THIS was what I mashed with my fingers until the frozen
stuff was defrosted, and the stuff had the right texture.

So after making a few batches on the grill, I decide
to see if the Xanthan Gum will improve it. I added a
level scant teaspoon of it. I dusted it over the garlic.

Wow. Instantly the goods all mixed. THAT was so eerie.

It defrosted after only two or three mushes with my hands.

I figured ok, the stuff works, and walked it to the barbecue.

Not knowing if the stuff would taste different I made the
burgers oblong.

I let them cook, as I did the others: I ignore them for
ten minutes, then go turn them.

I go visit, and found a few of them had oozed between the
grills. Not serious, I would just rescue them with a fork.

Nope: these burgers were DETERMINED not to be rescued with
a fork. Not with a spoon. Not with a spatula. Not with a 

Plan B. I would use the equipment to take whatever was
on my side of the grill and get it off. This was effective,
I suppose. I got 2/3 of each one of them back. 

I turned off the grill, and rescued the rest by hand. This
required actually removing the grill. Argh.

The 2/3 mentioned above? Even though partially cooked, it
quickly formed a raw looking mountain of meat again. 

So, dear reader, what is this stuff useful for? Add a pinch
when making Taco filling. I can now promise it won't bind. 
You will only be able to serve it with a spoon, a kind of 
solid liquid. 

In the end, after finishing the cooking in a non stick frypan,
I stirred it into some rice I made yesterday. It mixed without
a fight.

I know you are all rushing to buy this miracle powder.

I've still got a lot of it. I'm going to add it next to
pancake batter, in the hopes it will make thin french/finnish
crepes. You'll find out when I do.


I met with the leader of the fitness department
at the Canada Games Complex. That's my gym!

I had a minor incident on Friday. I had to endure
a lecture from one of the women who works there.

You'd think I didn't ask permission. I had to ask
(and receive) such permission each time. I used their
sound system in the multi purpose room to practice my
step class (and the cue-shouting which accompanies it).

You may think that I'm so eager to just break rules, this
kind of thing should be part of my daily existance, yes?

Well, I'm thinking it was something else which happens to 
me a lot: I rub certain people the wrong way on my first
meeting. This woman shouted me out of her class when we
first met. Lie: she TRIED to do that. I was persistent.

So I met her boss. She is very professional, very nice.
And it went a lot like a job interview. I have to
meet her again next week, before we go away. 

I was asking her if my body type would be a problem. It
was a problem in Toronto. Local clubs there only wanted 
people who were working as models or in film to lead classes.

She said, "Well, our population here prefer a good mix. They're
not of perfect build, and feel encouraged when they see someone
they can relate to leading their class. It makes them think that
they could do this too."

I was asked about whether I had studied any of the Canadian
or Ontario certifications for fitness testing. That is something
which The Complex does for income. I was wondering about who pays
for such things. Firemen. Police. Ambulance. Hospital. Physio
therapy. Lots more too. 

Fitness testing provides a specific reading about a person's
condition at the time of the test. How strong is their aerobic
system? This is measured in VO2 (Volume of Oxygen). But they
don't usually connect a hose to your face, to actually measure
that. Instead, they have some statistics about blood pressure
and heart rate. By doing a test with steps, a standard tape, 
with the music running at an increasing tempo, you can figure
out someone's VO2 with the addition of measuring heart rate and
blood pressure. You look it up in the book, and Poof!, you get
a number.

The other tests are easier to fathom. Flexibility. Endurance.
Arm Strength. Leg Strength. Percent body fat. Hip to Waist
ratio. Let's say you do this test today. A year from now, 
you do the entire test again. Now we can see you're getting
stronger, but losing flexibility. Or whatever. See?

I hope I get this assignment. It looks good so far. No other
men work in leading classes. And I like the perq of free membership
at The Complex.

Writing this made me think of a similar situation.

I'm eager to complete my undergraduate degree. So maybe
I should work full time at the university so I can take
classes there gratis. Any program I take I'd have to work
at making money too. 

Ann suggested I approach the community college here as well.
I could probably be a teacher there right now. I'm skilled
at that. When I taught at Seneca College, they would NOT let
me even audit for free. Gawd, were they ever cheap about nice

I took two exercise classes today. 

The first was a boxing class. Yeah, right. Boxing. It doesn't
look nor feel like a *real* boxing anything. But it hurt my
biceps. If you imagine for even a few minutes that you're trying
to hit someone's face, and try to conjure up the angry strength
required, the force comes. It did. Oh, and I was so sore all
after that. 

The next class was their advanced step class. These participants
were all pros. The leader, Kim, must have used the same routine
for a while, so all of the women here were together. The choreography
was hard. But it was good. 

I was very tired after the cardio portion of the class, and I 
managed to also stress some connecting fibres in my knee. So
I just rested from 630-650pm with ice on it. I went for a swim,
and found my way home.

But not for long. Today was Tuesday, when the Bluegrass people
meet. Not many in the summer, but there was enough.

Last week I taught them Indian Point. I didn't know the
name last week; I did it by ear. When I got home, I became
obsessed with finding the music on Chris Ricker's ABC
music archive site. 

It was DOWN. Disconnected. No longer answering my calls.

Now I was a man with a mission. I wanted to find all of the
ABC music I could, before other sources just vanished.

ABC music format hasn't really been discussed by me. Just
shown by example. 


This guy wrote the book on ABC format. Literally.

Imagine being able to describe a song easily, even on a
website such as mine.

C2D2E2C2 | C2D2E2C2 | E2F2G4 | E2F2G4 | 

That's the first few bars of Frere Jacque in C, starting
on middle C. After the note is a length. I've decided that
a length of 1 is an eighth, so a C2 is a quarter note on
middle C.

I really like ABC format. It is great for describing
traditional melodies and the associated guitar chords too.

But it has been improved. People have written programs
which play the ABC as you've written it. Other programs
print it out professionally. And I've just downloaded
M2G, a program which adds the guitar tablature.

So I've found lots of music, and now I have it stored on
the hard drive. It is not all of the ABC music on the web,
but is easily more than half of it. 

The good news: only about 100 meg altogether. This is very 
compact, compared to pictures or audio, or even compressed
MP3 files. 

I've also started collecting MIDI files. I have a program
which came with my sound card: Cakewalk Express. This lets
me open a MIDI file, and print it out. Wow!  Instant music
from canned web stuff. This is cool. Suddenly even MIDI files
become source for music. 

For those of you who like the quality of recorded music: don't
ditch that for MIDIs or ABCs. While you get to hear the music
as written, it won't have any of the things which make a performance
human. But if you seek to learn a piece, and want to know how it
goes so you can learn it better, by ear and by reading at once,
you should get ABC and MIDI systems for music.

MIDI is first a playback system for music, but happens to be
printable. ABC is first a printing system for music, but happens
to be playable. Yay.

Oh, I was telling you about Indian Point. I started downloading
all of this music so I could do a hard drive search for the song.
I knew it off by heart, so I figured I'd be able to hunt for the
melody using some kind of tool. 

Well, my local tools didn't find it well.

But I found a couple of web sites which permitted me to type
the melody (in ABC) into a screen, and it hunted an extensive
library. That was how my Unknown Jig became Indian Point.

Dan, one of the guys who has recently started coming out to
this Bluegrass thing, has been a teacher to me. Most guitarists
in our group don't get the information they need from me to 
follow conveniently, but also don't know what to ask of me.
Dan just asks, "Is that D chord a D Seventh?" Nope, just a
regular D major. "What about the A chord?" Then I have to
just play it through to see what it is. I could read it off
the music, but since I typed that in myself, I know it could
really be wrong.

So. What now for you? For me, I'm having to endure a place
which gets strangely hot at night. During the day, it is temperate,
but at bed time, it has been sticky here. It is 211am now, and
I'm alert because of the heat. 

For now.

That's all you know.