Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bike Lanes

Here in Philadelphia, they've painted new E/W bike lanes on Pine and Spruce Streets. I was pretty excited about it and took Spruce Street to over to Penn tonight. Now, Spruce and Pine aren't terribly great in terms of potholes and the like. It's a pretty bumpy ride with or without the lanes.

But still, pretty great to have a lane designated just for cycles. Until I got to 16th street, where for the next four blocks, there was a line of parked cars in the lane. Now, I would assume that the point of the lanes would be for cyclists's safety, to keep us out of the way of cars and so cars couldn't crowd us off the street. But, if for four blocks the lane is obstructed, then there's really no point.

Now, I know the cars are parked there because there is some special dispensation for people attending services at the church located on Spruce. I'm not really sure why that is. I mean, you don't get a special parking allowance when you attend a play or concert on Broad St, why give people special treatment because they are going to church? Plus, this is a city, there are many ways to get to church without driving, even if you live out of town. I think that if you want to attend that church or synagogue, you should have to take into account that you may have to park in a garage or find regular on-street parking.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

English Muffin Challenge (Part 1)


I have three different recipes for English Muffins, so I've issued myself this "challenge" (I use scare quotes because it probably isn't a real challenge): I'm going to make each one and determine which is the best of the three and then that one will be my "go to" recipe for English Muffins.

Hm, I didn't know you were such a fan of English Muffins, you might say. Well, I'm not really. The ones you get in the store are pretty nasty. I bought some a while back because they were on sale and really wish I hadn't once I read the ingredients. They were extra fiber ones, so that meant they had crap added to them, not whole grains, but stuff such as polydextrose and other kinda fakey things. And also, it had sucralose in it but wasn't boldly labeled as containing it. I know they have to boldly label stuff with nutrasweet because people might have conditions, but I think they should do the same for sucralose, because really, I'd rather not eat any artificial sweetener at all.

Enough of that. In sum: store bought English muffins kinda suck hard.

The first recipe I tried is from the new(ish) Vegan Brunch cookbook (which I will be reviewing shortly, just maybe not here). I have to say, that muffins were pretty tasty. I didn't have any margarine on hand, so I subbed canola oil, and they turned out all right. They seem a bit less nook-y than I would have hoped, so minus points for that. Also, minus points for being a bit flat in the taste department.

Next recipe up: Mark Bittman's from How to Cook Everything. But probably not for a while because I have to work through the vegan ones first.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Content Writing

I've started doing some "freelance" content writing for several websites. I'd recommend it to anyone who 1. isn't obsessed with making a gazillion dollars but would still like some extra money to, I dunno, buy a salad spinner or books, and 2. is a halfway decent writer who has some areas of expertise and general knowledge about a myriad other topics.

As you may have seen, I've written several articles for the site Suite101.com. I'll say off the bat that this site has not been a cash cow. It's a revenue sharing site, meaning that I get money based on google adsense clicks. So, I've only made. . .well, less than $3 so far, and it's been almost two months. But I'm supposed to think of it as well, in ten years, I'll still be earning money for these articles, instead of just a one time fee. I'm not sure about that yet, though, but I do enjoy the freedom of being able to write what I want and have an audience for it.

The other two sites pay either per word or per article. I started with textbroker, which will probably not make me rich because its pay per word is pretty low. But then again, there is a bit of joy found in being able to craft together 300-500 words on a topic you're not terribly familiar with and still make it sound credible and it's nice to make a few dollars when you'd otherwise just be sitting around watching tv or something. I've since found demandstudios, which pays much better but still not enough to make a capitalist's heart sing. It pays $15 for about 500 words, though they don't seem to care too much about word counts. I figure, my temp job pays $15 an hour and it typically takes me less than that to write an article for demand studios.

So, I'm not quite ready to leap full time in the wonderful world of freelance work. But I'm kinda happy with all this for now. I'd recommend textbroker and demand studios to anyone wanting to stick their toe into freelancing. Suite101, I'd maybe recommend more for folks who are knowledgeable about stuff that people go online to read. And to people who are more patient.