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 explain. 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 flipper. 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. Today. 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 perqs. 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. http://www.gre.ac.uk/~c.walshaw/ 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.