Prop 37: All the votes?

Today I saw a call to action on Facebook regarding Proposition 37 in the recent California General Election. It directed you to an online petition urging the Secretary of State of California “to require ALL votes cast in the November 6 election be counted immediately.” This piqued my interest. Why wouldn’t all votes be counted before deciding the outcome of a ballot measure? Was it close enough to matter? In what scenario can Prop 37 win from uncounted votes? So I decided to take a look and here’s what I found.

As of this writing, 10,437,645 votes have been counted towards Proposition 37. Of those votes, 4,929,582 were for, and 5,508,063 were against, Proposition 37. That gives us a difference 578,481 votes to overcome by the Yes On 37 camp[1]. An estimated 2,304,250 ballots have not been counted yet[2].

If you assume the uncounted ballots will work out the same per county (percentage wise) as the ones already counted, you’ll end up with a bigger difference by 95,480 votes so that doesn’t get us anything interesting. Let’s try something else. We need 60% of the uncounted votes to be Yes on 37 to make up the ~575k vote difference. For reference, 5 of the 58 counties (Alpine, Humboldt, Marin, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz) were 60% or more in favor of Proposition 37. An additional 12 were above 50%. The rest of the counties were against Proposition 37. All of the uncounted ballots would have to vote like one of those five counties in order for Proposition 37 to pass. However, only 9.7% of the uncounted votes are from those counties.

What if mail-in and provisional voters are skewed in favor of Proposition 37? It would take a 14.6% mail-in/provisional ballot skew in favor of Proposition 37 in all counties to close the gap. Is that reasonable? I have no idea. I wonder if that breakdown is available online somewhere.

Do I think all ballots should be counted? Absolutely. But I don’t think it will change the results.

  1. Proposition 37 By County: http://vote.sos.ca.gov/returns/maps/ballot-measures/prop/37/
  2. Estimated Unprocessed Ballots http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/2012-elections/nov-general/pdf/unprocessed-ballots-report.pdf
  3. My calculations: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ahkm8h8SYEyQdFViLXlwTVdUU2NuLTFnWmtUUHZvM2c
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My work place has a snack wall

Our Boss maintains a wall of candy and snacks by his office. Apparently to keep us happy, but I think it’s ostensibly to keep him happy. It is said that everyone who joins our lab gains a bit of weight in their first year because of that wall. Awhile back, out of curiousity about our actual consumption, I made people in the lab initial a sheet with columns for the available snacks by the snack wall each time they went to get something.

Biases: Not everyone participated, and not everyone signed the sheet each time they took something. They know who they are :) It was mainly one person. Other biases: each visit does not measure the quantity eaten at one go. I caught one of our lab mates (aka my former undergrad and now former technician, off to bigger and better things) hugging the pub mix container and eating handfuls from it.

 

candy wall

Clearly the salty pub mix is the winner- it outstripped all the other sweet choices by quite a bit. Perhaps if there were more salty choices, pub mix wouldn’t be so heavily favored :D

Now back to my regularly scheduled work related analyses.

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Some things from my grandpa

I’ll make a longer post on trip highlights a bit later, as I apparently took over 1300 pictures during the course of our trip to Hong Kong. In the mean time, I wanted make a little post about some ceramic ware that my grandpa gave me.

My grandpa has always loved to collect ceramic and metal figurines and vessels- both his toronto home and hong kong home have curio cabinets bursting with objects acquired over the years. I would say this tendency does run in my family [eta: I should clarify that this tendency happens in my mother's side of the family. My dad's side of the family doesn't seem to have this tendency. While my paternal grandma squirrels away all sorts of things (brand new 50 year old crock pots, for one), she doesn't really collect anything for the purposes of a matching set or hobby]. Just about all my maternal aunts and uncles collect items- if it isn’t swarovski figures (Oldest Uncle and Young Uncle and Aunt), it’s teapots (mom) and coins (mom and Oldest Uncle) and monchichis etc (Oldest Aunt- she has the most extensive collection of figures I have ever seen). Young Uncle and Aunt are currently squirreling away collector’s edition model buses, adding four 1/76th scale HK (Route #182, E42, 81 and 63x) buses to their collection in the week that we were visiting.

In any case, my grandpa asked if I wanted anything from the HK curio cabinets. He wanted to distribute stuff to those who wanted it, and he wasn’t sure how much longer he’d be doing his annual trips abroad. Being 88, plane travel is getting pretty risky.

Shuffling slowly over to the cabinets, he opened the doors for me to get a better look. When I pointed out a little vase that I liked, he got pretty excited and started pulling out more and more things he thought I might enjoy. It made me smile to see him perusing his collection. I ended up coming home with a few items that I liked a lot.
My grandpa likes to collect interesting liquor containers. His friends knew this, so sometime around the 70s, one of them saved this partially unglazed liquor bottle after he had finished it off (my grandpa informed me that he did not get to partake in the liquor- it arrived empty). The vase in the middle is just a little vase that I liked the painting on, some qing dynasty replica or some such, and the last vessel is a miniature of a type of vessel (pardon the tape remnants I haven’t scrubbed off), according to my grandpa, that his grandma kept by her bedside, filled with candies. :) He offered me another miniature pair of vessels, and when I asked what they were for, he said they big ones were used as spittoons.

bottles

Hehe… I just called them since it is around 11 over there, and they were off to dim sum. As usual for my family. If they are not collecting trinkets, they are eating.
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How to wash a sleeping bag

sleepingbag
Down sleeping bags will last quite a long time with proper care, and don’t really need to be washed very often. We’ve had Mike’s Marmot Pinnacle for around 8 years, and it’s still kicking. That being said, Mike’s sleeping bag has been looking noticeably less puffy and emanating that I’ve-been-camping-for-a-week-with-no-shower-plus-wet-dog smell all by itself, even when unoccupied. While Mike didn’t mind, I was the person who was sleeping next to this smelly article, so it was time to wash the bag.

We only have top loading washers in my apartment, so I washed the bag in our tub after scrubbing the tub clean and rinsing so to ensure no scum was around to muck up the sleeping bag.

I messed up on my first try because I was too haphazard with the way I was trying to get all the water out of the sleeping bag, resulting in knotty balls of down clumped unevenly across the bag. This was compounded by my attempt to use the dryer when the bag still had too much water (did not use extractor the first time), which rolled and twisted the bag around (aka, rolled and twisted the down clusters around). It was a lumpy, knotted mess. I was worried that I had killed Mike’s bag when I was only trying to be nice and wash it for him. After attempting to gently work them apart, I gave up, and decided to start the process over at the rinse step with some modifications. This turned out much better, and the knotty lumps detangled themselves in the water with some gently prodding. It took about a week to air dry the bag, with twice daily flipping and fluffing.

10+4 steps to a fantastic, fresh smelling bag:

1. + 150 ml Nikwax down wash in warm water (the tub was about 1/3 full)
2. Submerge sleeping bag fully by pressing down gently, letting the air expel through the seams.
3. After the sleeping bag fills with soapy water, swish and massage each baffle of the sleeping bag, making sure that the down is distributed across the baffles. Let soak for 30 minutes, alternately swishing and and pressing straight down on the sleeping bag so the water continues exchanging.
4. Drain the tub
5. Press straight down on the sleeping bag to expel as much water as possible. Don’t wring your bag, or else you’ll end up tangling and balling up your down clusters. Be careful not to push down with sudden force and blow out a baffle. This will take awhile.
6. Fill tub with fresh water. Swish and press sleeping bag again. Drain, press out water.
7. Repeat this rinsing 2 more times.
8. Fill tub enough to just submerge sleeping bag, +0.5 oz mirazyme (enzymatic odor destroyer found in the kayak section of REI. It is amazing and concentrated. The recommended usage is 0.5 oz per 22 gallons. I just estimated) Swish and soak for 30 minutes. Do not rinse out!
9. After a final soak, press as much water out as possible. The sleeping bag will still be relatively heavy with water. Carefully fold the sleeping bag in quarters lengthwise, supporting the weight so that you don’t tear any baffles. Transfer to a large rubbermaid container so that you can carry it to the washing machine to use the extractor setting.

[After wiping down the washer to remove as much regular detergent as possible, I ran it through a cold water cycle, and timed it so that the washer on our floor would be at the extraction step by the time I finished pressing out the water. That's how I roll.]

10. Place sleeping bag carefully in machine, making sure that the sleeping bag isn’t twisted when you load it in. Extract away!
11. Now the bag should be a lot drier. Lay it flat. The down will likely be in long flat mats in your sleeping bag. I draped it across several mesh camping chairs on our balcony since it was warm and windy out, securing it to the chairs with some carabiners and rope. At this point, the sleeping bag resembled a sad pancake.
12. Routine for the next week: Every morning and night, flip the splayed out bag over and the foot area inside out, gently massaging apart any hard clumps of down. There were only a few that needed attention at the foot of the bag. Leave all the softer down mats alone at this point. As the bag gets drier and starts fluffing a bit at the edges of the mats, fluff and redistribute the down so that it is even across the entire baffle. This will also allow it to dry faster. If you have any blown baffles and can feel where the hole in the mesh is, you can work dry fluffy down through to fill it from your neighboring, overstuffed baffle, or else you’ll have spots with no/less insulation that it should!
13. After a week of this constant fluffpuffing, it is pretty dry. For good measure, I throw it in the dryer and dry on the lowest heat setting for an hour. Take it out, and check over each baffle again for fluffiness, and evenness.
14. Put it away in a large fluffy cotton storage back!

It’s quite a process. Good thing it’s only once a year (^_^)/ (I smell like roses and sunshine, so my bags only get washed once every four years or so :p YMMV :o Supposedly the powers that be recommend that you wash your bag every 25 bag nights or so)

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Mike + Teddy Bear = Adorable

So Mike has a teddy bear from when he was a little boy. His bear was recently freed from captivity in a rubbermaid container this weekend. While working from home today, I noticed that it had migrated from the top of a stack of papers (Mike’s childhood paintings and the like transported from the parental abode) to the corner of the couch, where the bear had a nice view of the back of Mike’s head. I moved the bear to the crook of Mike’s arm for a better photoshoot.

teddy bearaww

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New Shoes

It’s been a while since I’ve bought new shoes. Every pair I own serves a purpose.

  1. hiking boots – hiking
  2. soccer cleats – soccer
  3. sandals – sandaling

I had two pairs of shoes that I would alternate for walking to work; a classic pair of Adidas Samba’s and a pair of generic black shoes rockports. The soles of both pairs were worn through and the laces on the black shoes were literally hanging by a thread. So on a recent trip to sales-tax-free Oregon, I picked up a new pair of Teva Riva Leather eVent shoes. Really my only criteria was for them to be water proof for when the rain finally comes. These will supposedly get the job done in that category.

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2011 Camping Roundup

Jules and I went on ten camping trips in 2011 and I only posted about the first two! Here’s a roundup of all the trips we took last year and what I remember from them.

Ventana Wilderness

In January we took our first trip to Ventana Wilderness. We camped at Pat Spring on a cold and windy ridge just past where I’m standing in the above photo. There was one other backpacker in the area that chatted with us for a while by our fire before the sun went down.

Henry Coe State Park

In February we headed to Henry Coe State Park. The campsites in the Western Zone of Henry Coe are reserved at the visitor center on a first come, first serve basis. We needed to be back home by noon the following day so we knew we’d have to get a spot that wasn’t a far trek. That spot, China Hole, is probably the most popular site in the area. Since we had to arrive early to snag the spot, and the spot is only four miles from the entrance, we had plenty of time to lounge around the creek, relax, and read. China Hole is close enough to the entrance that there is a lot of foot traffic through the area.

Owens Peak Wilderness

Jules and I were invited on this trip to Owens Peak Wilderness in March. There’s a good off-road section to get to the trailhead that doesn’t necessarily require high clearance, but it was fun to drive the jeep through anyway. The idea was the camp on the mountain somewhere, but it was so steep and rocky that we couldn’t find a place to set up. We ended up hiking all the way up and down with our packs on and camping near the base.

Henry Coe State Park

Another quick venture to Henry Coe in May. You can see from the picture how different the vegetation is after the rains have come. This isn’t China Hole, but it’s the same creek. We had more time for this trip so we went farther inland to a more desolated area at the eastern edge of the Western Zone.

Ventana Wilderness

In June we we brought two more with us to Ventana Wilderness for a three night adventure. Most of the campsites were being used this time around with a half-dozen backpacking groups and a few solo adventurers milling about. The flowers were amazing.

Yosemite National Park

Against better judgement, for the July 4th weekend we took a group to Yosemite Valley. None of the three people we brought had been before so I thought it would be a good idea to drive the valley loop as soon as we arrived for impact. Of course we got stuck in traffic for three hours. I suppose it made a different kind of impact.

Desolation Wilderness

In August Jules and I finally went on our honeymoon to Desolation Wilderness. It was probably the most beautiful place I’ve gone backpacking, and by far the most populous. Lake Aloha was crowded enough that we had to hike half way up a rocky hill to find a spot. It ended up being a really nice spot though. We had our permits checked by rangers for the first time ever. Half Moon Lake, pictured above, had the fewest campers. Lake Aloha had the most, along with the most flys. Gilmore Lake had the most abundant and voracious mosquitos I have ever seen.

Point Reyes National Seashore

My brother invited us on a backpacking weekend in Point Reyes in September. We got stuck in traffic on the way over after work and ended up hiking in under a starry sky. Luckily the trails are well maintained, the signs are good, and most importantly, we knew the way to our first campsite. We also borrowed a super light tent from a friend (pictured above).

Henry Coe State Park

After a camping hiatus Jules and I went on an impromptu trip to Henry Coe in December. This time we entered from the South and camped outside of the Western Zone which meant we could set up anywhere. The only people we saw on the trail were a pair of horseback riders, one of which was a ranger.

Harris Beach State Park

After Christmas we drove up 101 along the Pacific Coast and stayed a night at Harris Beach State Park. We were the only ones in a tent that night. Everyone else was in an RV or yurt. It wasn’t particularly cold but it was damp enough that we couldn’t get a good fire going even after three hours of effort. So we headed into the tent with our two kindles (Jules got a second kindle for Christmas) and read for the rest of the evening.

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Remembering

rosemary

Often times, after a visit with Mike’s parents, my mother-in-law would send us home with bunches of fresh herbs from her garden. Thyme, parsley, and always rosemary. Her bush was thriving and robust, and had been there for a very long time. Most of the time, I would make rosemary roasted potatoes– adding copious amounts of chopped fresh rosemary to olive oil dressed potatoes, and a good shake of sea salt and a grind of black pepper.

About a year ago, I was sent home with some rosemary cuttings. Most of them were stripped and used to make roasted potatoes, but i took one of the cuttings and rooted it. I remember doing this a little before our annual trip up north to visit my parents for a week. I wasn’t sure if it would survive, but it did, growing from a spindly little thing to a robust plant after I transferred it to a planter on my balcony, where it thrives next some unidentified sprouting bulbs that my mother-in-law gave me once upon a time. Where they tulip bulbs? I honestly don’t recall, but I’m glad to see them so happy and green. I think Ellen would be happy about it too.

sprouts

Posted in Family, Nature, Personal | 1 Comment

A recipe for pear ice cream

Photograph by fellow grad student Nhu:
Pear Ice Cream 2011

Recently I tinkered around with making a pear ice cream for the annual lab pear contest among several third floor labs. It ended being closer to a sorbet due to how much I cut down on butterfat addition so that the pear flavors would shine through. I made some blackberry-pear sauce, pecan buttercrunch, and sticks of baked waffle cone batter to go along with it. This ice cream freezes a little harder than normal ice cream, so it needs a bit of extra time at room temp to reach a nice scoopable consistency.

Recipe for 1 quart of Pear Ice Cream ala Jules

My measurements switch from metric to american depending if I am weighing things or measuring them out in my american cups. This is just how I did it.

Mix the following:
• 800g pear puree

  • roast ~ 10 pears packed in kosher salt
  • 375F, 50 min
  • cool, core and peel
  • blend with 100g sugar + ~ 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • strain from a mesh sieve to reduce grittiness. This should yield around 1000g of puree

• 1 tsp vanilla extract (5 ml)
• 200g caramelized sugar

  • I cooked this sugar with a little of the pear puree until it melted and caramelized a little, then mixed it back into the rest of the puree

• ¼ tsp salt (I used kosher salt)
• 60g nonfat dry milk
• 1 ½ cups whole milk (~350 ml)

Cover with saran wrap, and let everything meld overnight (mainly for the nonfat dry milk)

Churn in ice cream maker, or the old fashioned way.

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Amex: Extended Warranty Coverage

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

My Ipod Nano broke after nearly 2 years. No powering up, nada. Just a silent blank screen. Where is my music???! More importantly, I had no way to play the awesome podcasts produced by NPR’s This American Life. Impossible! So I went out and bought a new shuffle. I wonder how long this one will last? No screen = one less thing to break, right?

But this post isn’t about my sound playing devices and their modest durability. It’s actually about the extended warranty program with my credit card company, American Express. I have had my Amex Costco card for the past 6 years, and one of the benefits of using this card to make purchases is the extended warranty coverage you automatically receive. For purchases with warranties between 1 to 5 years, you get an additional year under warranty by Amex. For purchases with less than a year warranty, you get a warranty extension equivalent to the purchase warranty length. I only became aware of it a few days ago.

I was nearly a year out of my warranty with Apple, so I called up Amex on friday and asked if their program would cover my broken ipod. They had me tell them what was wrong with it, the serial number of my product, date and location of purchase, purchase price and state tax rate. Good thing Apple emails me my receipts. A quick email search and I found it. I asked them if they needed me to send any receipt documentation or the failed product itself, and they said they didn’t need any for now, but would call me up if they required additional documentation.

This monday (aka 1 business day after I initially called), I get an emailed document from amex saying that my claim was approved, and the money would be credited to my account. Woohoo… pretty awesome!

One more reason to use my amex card to purchase items instead of my debit card.

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