Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Survey booklets and Popeye pancakes.

So I spent a few hours today formatting, editing and re-formatting the survey. Turns out that you can format a document in word as a booklet, and then print it double-sided, which does in fact turn it into a true booklet. 8 bucks later at Kinkos (our printer is ancient and can't do double-sided), I have five draft copies to give to folks for comment.

That said, I still haven't really narrowed down the research questions for the survey section of the dissertation, and am not sure that I will be able to any time soon. I keep going in circles with them. Some of it is ridiculously basic: asking people what they want to do now that they have a voucher. I.e., do you plan on moving somewhere? If so, where? Then it gets tricky -- why do people want to stay put even though they can supposedly move elsewhere? Is it because they really like where they already live (these are really poor people, usually in really poor neighborhoods), because they don't have the means to move, or because they see the moving/mobility process as too difficult to even try? Once I ask them about all of these things, how do I test the realtionship between their answers, their own characteristics, and their outcomes? Lost? Me too. I think a big part of the problem is that I have lost patience with the process of fleshing it out, and just want to move on and figure it out as I go -- but clearly can't yet.

After a few hours of trying to rewrite research questions and feeling really annoyed with the whole thing, Jake came home, I went to the gym, and then assessed the food situation.

We had salad greens, cheese and a butternut squash. So I made salad and roasted the squash -- and then made "Popeye pancakes." A few weeks ago, Jake remembered that his grandmother used to make them -- basically a puffy, eggy, pancake that you bake in butter. Called German pancakes if you google it. It puffs up weirdly and browns so that it kind of looks like a lunar landscape.

It's really easy, and the stuff you need is almost always on hand: flour, eggs, milk and butter.

This makes enough for the two of us, although more would get eaten, for sure:

.5 cup flour
3 eggs
.5 cup milk
pinch of salt

Whisk it all together, then melt some butter in an pan with a 2 or three inch rim, making sure the butter coats the bottom and sides. The smaller the pan, the thicker the pancake. I say "some" because I am still figuring out how little I can get away with -- tonight I used 3 tablespoons, and probably could go a bit less.

Pour the batter in the pan and bake it at 425 for about 15 minutes then 375 for another 10 or 15 minutes. Until it is nice and brown and lunar-looking. The picture is from someone else's blog, and really doesn't look all that great -- but it is. Next post, I'll use my own pictures.

The recipe calculator tells me that 1/4 of the finished pancake has about 300 calories, which isn't great but I guess could be worse.

Ok, time to walk the dog and get to bed. Tomorrow I have to go to Olympia at the crack of dawn to go to a hearing on the results of a study comparing housing voucher and capital project costs. Vouchers are cheaper than bricks and mortar development -- but the goals are different, too. Hopefully the study is worth the trip out there.

Tomorrow is a big day all around. I have a free intro session at a new gym that uses kettlebells and gymnastic equipment and general silliness, as far as I can tell. And then a new (f0r me) book club. We're reading On Being Certain, a book about how people manage to "feel" right about things, even when they have clear evidence that proves them wrong. Basically how the brain can allow people to accept really irrational inconsistencies and contradictions. Likr convincing yourself that you are writing a dissertation, when signs point to the opposite?! Hmmmm .....

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