Boing Boing on GOOD

Digital Synesthesia

Want to see with your tongue? Boing Boing's David Pescovitz looks at technology that blurs the boundaries between our five senses. What if you...

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Deception, Inc.

A host of shady online services is making it easy to lie and cheat. Are you sick of lying, cheating, and stealing the old-fashioned way? Of...

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Better Living Through Homemade Yogurt

Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin explains how fast people can still enjoy slow food. When the economy took a nosedive, I did the same thing a lot of...

Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin explains how fast people can still enjoy slow food.

When the economy took a nosedive, I did the same thing a lot of other Americans did: I looked at my household expenses and my lifestyle with newly frugal eyes, and began thinking about costs and personal priorities in new ways. That included food.Rethinking what I cook and eat post-econopocalypse meant simpler, slower food; a more local and traditional diet which, in fact, makes good sense in any economic weather. But I live an urban life. I spend a lot of time online or working in short attention bursts. I don't have a lot of time to cook or prepare food, and my city apartment doesn't afford room to raise goats or grow tomatoes. Despite this, I've gradually eased into a number of new rituals and good habits that reduced my grocery bill and make me feel happier and healthier. One of them is making yogurt each week.It takes maybe 20 minutes of actual work and attention, zero equipment beyond stuff I already had in my kitchen, and yields a yummier, healthier, and yes, "probiotic" product that costs five to 10 times less than the store-bought stuff.Here are the basics of rolling your own yogurt the lazy Xeni way. First, choose your starter culture. You can order this online, get it from a fellow slow foodie obsessive, or just do it slacker-style, like me: Buy a small single-serving container of plain yogurt at the corner bodega. Any brand with live Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus cultures will work ($.99 worth of the ubiquitous Dannon does just fine). The instructions that follow are for homemade yogurt with other yogurt as a starter.Next, pick your milk. I use organic 2 percent, but whole milk is even richer. I don't like the more acidic taste or runny texture of yogurt made with lower-fat milks (though you can add dry milk powder to these to compensate). Full-fat soy milk will work if you're vegan, but it forms a more gelatinous "set" than cow or goat milk.Next, heat your fresh milk to 180–190 degrees Fahrenheit, which is right about when it starts to steam and form little bubbles. Heating to this point changes the structure of whey proteins within the milk, and helps ensure a nice consistency. I improvised a double boiler for heating milk like this: Half-fill a large, wide metal pot with water, and set a metal bowl filled with milk in the middle of that pot. Boil the water, and stir the milk in the bowl that floats in that water.When you've scalded the milk, let it cool off to about 110–120 degrees. If you have a thermometer in your kitchen, use it. If you don't (and I still don't), do the "baby bottle" test: dribble a few drops on the inside of your wrist. If it feels really warm but doesn't burn your skin there, it's just right.When you've cooled the milk to this temperature, whisk in (or stir with a spoon-whatever!) two tablespoons of yogurt. This can be the store-bought yogurt, or the last two spoons from your last batch of homemade stuff. I like to thin it down with a bit of the warm milk before I stir it in, to make sure it's evenly distributed.

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The Quantified Self: You Are Your Data

Boing Boing's David Pescovitz on better living through extensive self-measurement Since 1955, Jerry Davidson has obsessively written down...

Boing Boing's David Pescovitz on better living through extensive self-measurement

Since 1955, Jerry Davidson has obsessively written down everything he does during the day: visits to the store, telephone calls, meals, sex. Davidson has an impenetrable code, involving abbreviations and multiple colors of inks. A star on the top of a page means Jerry had a good day. Davidson never writes in the first person though, always in the third. He takes himself out of his experiences. His life is raw data.When I first heard Jerry's story, on a 1998 episode of This American Life, I thought he was just another interesting eccentric, like so many people featured on that radio program. Hearing the same program a few weeks ago though made me realize that Jerry Davidson is a pioneer. If Jerry lived in Silicon Valley and ran in the right nerd circles, he'd realize he isn't alone in his unique habit of self-measurement. Indeed, he's just another "quantified self," a person who embraces the technology at hand-in his case scraps of paper and colored markers-for deep self surveillance and analysis. A growing number of individuals are using new sensors, social networks, online data repositories, open-access science journals, and sheer discipline to view their bodies, minds, and spirits through the lens of data.

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Boing Boing's Joel Johnson on why we should change the channel already

The televisions in 6.5 million American households will stop working when stations are forced to switch to the digital format-and I don't care.Although it's been pushed back time and again (yesterday the Senate voted to postpone the transition deadline once more, from February 17th to June 12th), the switch from analog to digital television will happen eventually. When it does, valuable radio spectrum will be freed up for new uses, like "white space" wireless networking. (Think Super Wi-Fi.)The Obama administration was behind the latest delay. It asked Congress to postpone the transition again, fearing that the 5.7 percent of American households without the proper digital-to-analog conversion boxes-boxes that can be had for free simply by requesting a voucher from the FCC-would wake up on the 17th, find themselves greeted by only static, and march in the streets.Okay, no one is really afraid of that. At best, the switchover will cause those last few million people to get off their asses and go get a converter box. (They've had several years to do so, but who could blame them for getting distracted? Television has been pretty awesome over the last few years.) At worst, they'll quit watching television-at least on their television.

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