Free-For-All May 2013

First of all, here is why it is impossible to correctly hard boil an egg. Do a search on “perfect hard-boiled eggs” and you will find several (mostly similar) approaches. What they all have in common is knowing when the water boils. To know when the water boils, you have to watch it. But a watched pot never boils. Thus the eggs will never cook. QED.

Also, I want to say that I have a very passive-aggressive and stupid dog.  See, a good dog will let you know when he needs to go out.  A bad dog pees on the floor.  My dog will never hint that he needs to go out, but when I finally do let him out, he pees for about half an hour, looking reproachfully at me all the while.  Stupid and passive aggressive.

Chapter 13 of Hawk is done in draft form, now onto 14 and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the story working out.  We’ll see.

Also, for fans of the Hubble telescope, check this out.  Full screen, sound on.

The new site,, is a thing of beauty.  It makes me very happy.  144 days till the book comes out.

Meanwhile, this is a space for talking about anything that comes to mind.


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35 thoughts on “Free-For-All May 2013”

  1. What do you think of the weather?
    I can’t recall an april in md that ended as cool as this or the
    may snow storm nearer you that just looks unreal, any thoughts on that?

  2. I am in sight of the Harpers Ferry Gap, in Md. We have had just awesome blue skies and cool upper 60s lower 70s. My lawn has never looked so green.
    I fear the crazy weather will cause flooding and other unpleasantness.
    If I could ship some of this your way I would.
    Listening to Tisassa (audible books), very enjoyable.
    Thanks for that,

  3. No, the problem is that an egg that is perfectly hard boiled has not actually gone hard yet. You need to let them rest, like steak. Unlike steak, you can’t tell when they’re *nearly* done, so you have to cook them until you think they could be almost ready, and then let them rest just long enough at the right temperature until they are actually done.

    And then you can open them, and find out that they are eggs from Hungarian chickens, so you should have done all your calculations in metric and assuming you were at least 78 meters above sea level, and they are still runny inside.

  4. I got in a lot of trouble once with my uncle for improperly boiling his eggs. He said three minute eggs. So I cooked the eggs for three minutes. If he wanted three eggs cooked for one minute, he should have specified.

    And at least your dog pees outside. After about a week of being in the house my dog refuses to go out. Even if we pick him up and put him outside he refuses to go. He just stares at us as if it were the height of animal cruelty to subject him to peeing out of doors. He’ll then try his best to pee in our shoes when we let him inside again.

  5. Boiling eggs is really easy….you don’t have to know *exactly* when the water boils, but being near enough to the pot to hear the bubbling start is advisable.

    I assume the similar techniques you read about were variations on eggs in water/heat to boiling/cover, remove from heat, wait 20 minutes and then drain hot water and put eggs in ice water for 10+ minutes?

    If not, that technique is pretty fail safe, and fairly forgiving…it’s OK to wait more than 20 minutes, it’s OK if you let the eggs boil a short while until you cover and remove from the heat….I never get the runny eggs that Jeff speaks of, and I usually don’t get the green edges around the yolks either..

    And as for weather, I’m spoiled. We’ve been having high 80’s for a bit now. Loving it. :)

  6. > …you don’t have to know *exactly* when the water boils,
    > but being near enough to the pot to hear the bubbling start is advisable.

    This smacks of impiety.

  7. Well, if you aren’t *watching* the pot, it *can* boil….or maybe I’m just an egg heretic?

    At least I can have all the perfectly hard cooked eggs I want. hehe

  8. If the pot boils when you’re not watching it, how do you know it boiled?

    If the egg is perfectly cooked, how can you eat it?

    Perfection can not be achieved, merely sought. Because Hegel.

    Perfect barbecue, on the other hand, merely requires a Texan.

  9. Frying eggs on a barbecue with the lid on forms part of a complete Sunday breakfast.

  10. I like how these comments are mainly about eggs.

    Sometime a few decades ago, someone won a prize for working out how to cook a hard-boiled egg while using the least amount of energy. You put the eggs into slightly salted water, wait for the water to bubble, then turn off the heat and wait for one minute, then take the eggs out of the water and wait one minute, then eat them. I tend to use this method just because it is easy to remember, and cooks the eggs okay. I guess if you want them less or more hard you can change the amount of salt in the water.

  11. My method of cooking is very imprecise.

    Hard-boiled eggs? You put them in the pot, cover with water and boil them until they’re almost done and remove from heat. I couldn’t possibly tell you how long because I just remove them “when they’re almost done”.

    Baking bread? I make the dough, I rarely use measuring cups and let it rise until its ready then shale it let it rise again and pop it in th oven until its done.

    I could go on and on, basically I was taught to improvise*,to know what I was aiming for and to cook things ” until they are a done”.

    Everyone loves my cooking. The problem is I am often asked for recipes but as I rarely make things the same way twice I’m at a loss. Cookbooks are wonderful, but for me the recipes are guidelines, meant to be a jumping off point.

    All of this makes my scientist husband crazy. He treats recipes as if they were handed down from Mt. Sinai. He approaches baking as though it were a science. He is also an excellent cook, but is horrified when I throw things together and a complex meal with fresh baked bread and a pie hit the table despite my imprecise methods.

    This is my only super power, the ability to see that things will fit together. Useful for cooking and also for buying furniture or appliances without measuring the spaces they will go because I can always tell if they will fit. Oh, and parallel parking, if the fate of the universe ever depends on parallel parking I totally have us covered.

    *the first recipe I called home for many,many years ago was for a favorite chicken dish my mom makes. Here is her response: Buy some chicken, whatever parts you like, and mix whatever you have around the place to make a nice sauce then put them in the pan, cover with the sauce and cook them in a hot enough oven until they’re done.

  12. “Chapter 13 of Hawk is done in draft form, now onto 14 and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the story working out. We’ll see.”

    Hot damn! Just four more chapters to go….

  13. I’ve looked at such sites – which ignored the fact that water boils at different temperatures at different altitudes.

  14. When I tried to think of something to say anything, I could not think of anything….always happens that way!

  15. Howard – That’s exactly why one has to factor in the minimum altitude of the point of origin of the chickens. And in the proper measurement scale.

    Because otherwise, terrorism and runny eggs. With side of hegelian hash.

  16. It’s wonderful your sister’s health scare turned out to be, if not nothing, at least not what everyone was afraid of. Modern medicine is amazing, isn’t it?

    Cats are superior in all points of pethood to dogs. When they want to be aggressive, there is nothing passive about it.

    I just saw your Lincoln quote from his 1861 msg. to Congress. Doesn’t he go on to sing the praises of the petite bourgoise, saying the prudent beginner’s purpose in laboring is to establish his own business and hire another penniless beginner? “No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty…let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens on upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost.” That doesn’t seem a good fit with the Marx quotes.

    I have a friend who wants to write morality tales for 9-14 year olds, “like Aesop but not so heavy-handed”. I’m going to lend him some short stories I think are good examples and wonder if there are any you could recommend for such a person?

    The Incrementalist website won’t display in Firefox or Mozilla, but I’ll keep an eye out for the book.

  17. I haven’t said a single thing about eggs in this thread. Neither did Steve, in his initial post.

  18. Another aspect on eggs, we have Cirque du Soleil performing the Ovo show down by the foreshore at the moment.

  19. Oh no! My previous comment is still awaiting moderation after three days?
    I guess I shouldn’t have said “Hot damn!” about Hawk being approximately 3/4 of the way done…..

  20. ” What they all have in common is knowing when the water boils.”
    Incorrect, they have in common knowing the water is boiling not when it began boiling.
    Interval observations will do.

  21. L. Raymond: I’m pretty sure it works on Mazilla and Firefox under normal circumstances; on the other hand, it’s also clear that something isn’t right. I’ll pass that on to Adam. Thanks.

  22. At home I use Firefox 5 from 2008 and an even older version of Mozilla, but since I was at a public library last week I also looked at it with their versions of IE, which displayed the site properly, and Firefox, which didn’t (the text was overlaying itself so it looked jumbled and clicking links made the screen jerk around without displaying anything). Those would both have been the newest versions of the browsers, though I don’t know which releases they were.

  23. I listen to the pot. Actually, I don’t even need to listen actively. My ear picks up the sound of the water as it starts to bubble, and I can hear when it’s boiling.

    My daughter wondered about that. I suspect it’s related to my language/music bump.

  24. Hard boiled eggs can be made via the simple method not boiling anything.

    Take some eggs.

    Put them in a microwave.

    When they blow up they are perfectly done.

    I am not claiming you would want to eat them. Just that they are perfectly done.

  25. Related subject, there’s a YouTube video on how to cook scrambled eggs whilst still in the shell. Basically, the eggs are twirled at high speed inside the arm of a long sleeved shirt, then boiled. Curiosity running amok, going to have to try.

  26. Supposedly they are best when not boiled at all but put in water that has just come off the boil for ten minutes. But I wouldn’t know; I don’t like eggs. However, I’m writing a novel set in 1917, and the RFC dawn patrol breakfast was a hard-boiled egg, so I had to look it up.

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