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8 Easy Pressure Cooker Recipes

We’ve had a pressure cooker in the home for years and I’m always surprised to hear someone say that they just got a pressure cooker but they don’t know how to use it. Don’t know how to use it?? Turn it on! OK I know it’s not that easy but it is a go-to tool in my kitchen several times every week. Like crockpot recipes? Do you like tender meat? Take some time to explore these recipes and then Google some more and I think you’ll find that dinner prep time just got way shorter! Seriously, our Instant Pot changed the way we cook (faster and easier).

#1 RICE!

If there’s a theme to this post, and a theme to cooking with pressure cookers in general, it’s E-A-S-Y. I won’t burden you with a recipe here. At my house it’s 4 cups of rice and 5 cups of water, lid, push the RICE button. If you’re feeling fancy then throw in some chicken bullion. Done. We do this several times a week. It’s why we have two Instant Pots. 🙂

#2 Salsa Chicken

You’ll see some variations on chicken dishes in this list, but what makes this one come in at number two is that it’s a favorite for our kids. Maybe it’s the brown sugar? We usually serve the salsa chicken over rice and then have a veggie or salad on the side.

#3 Pot Roast

As I learned to cook, the pot roast gave me some apprehension. It’s the classic mom’s-been-cooking-something-amazing mountaintop that I was never sure I wanted to climb. Well forget all that. We’re just talking about an easy way to eat tender, fall-apart meat with some potatoes, carrots, onions and the like. Soooo many ways to do this one!

#4 Cafe Rio Pulled Pork

There are a lot of copy-cat recipes for pulled pork, but we learn towards yummy and easy. The basic idea here is tender and sweet. This works well over rice, but is best with the full-fledged, rice-and-beans, tortilla-bottomed super salad! With the pressure cooker you will spend more time on the creamy tomatillo dressing than the pork. We’ve also done put this on open-faced ciabatta rolls, broiled with a slice of provolone cheese.

#5 Teriyaki Chicken

Another chicken recipe. Another one that’s good over rice or with a stir-fry as part of an Asian-style meal, but we’ve also put it in tacos! Teriyaki chicken has a mild, sweet, and savory flavor that works well in concert with other foods.

#6 Shredded Chicken

OK so you’re getting the idea that you can basically do a lot of different chicken recipes! We use this one, or something like it, for sandwiches, salads, over rice and in tacos. What you’re looking for in good shredded chicken is soft, flavorful meat that can be added to something else that will give the dish the kick and flair you want.

#7 Ribs

The pinnacle of my cooking journey will be excellent ribs. I’ve smoked, baked, and pressure cooked them. I think I did all three on one batch! I really enjoy trying a new recipe and having to eat them myself in the end because “they weren’t good enough” for the rest of the family. I’m a team player!

#8 Taco Soup

A family favorite in my house, we have a few versions of taco soup: soupy for bread bowls, thick for a hearty chili. Cheese, sour cream and Fritos are great mix-ins with breads and harvest veggies on the side.

Why are you still here? Go buy yourself a pressure cooker already!


Opportunity Knocks?

Sears: now hiring!

I snapped this photo the other night while walking from my parked car. After a good chuckle, the nuances of why hiring at this outlet right now started to come into focus. I don’t know that anyone would expect to apply for a new career at Sears today… but… what if…

As Eddie Lampert angles to try to make something good (for him) happen from the crashing of this iconic brand, the rabble of unpaid creditors grow restless. What if he can pull something out of this?! Will the Kenmore and DieHard brands live on? Even in this dark uncertainty created by the failed effort to boost sales through overextending credit there is opportunity. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know if it’s good, and I’ll guess it’s just not for me, but it is very likely that there are many opportunities for someone. And that’s my point for sharing this picture: I don’t think opportunity knocks or texts. It’s hidden. If it was easy and obvious then it would be for everyone! Opportunity is a narrow circumstance for possibility, so don’t knock it.

Operant Conditioning

We’ve all used operant conditioning. Just admit it. You know, when you take someone into a plain white room and hook them up to electrodes and then start–wait, what??!?!

No, not that.

As it applies to UX, operant conditioning is when an application attempts to change the frequency of specific user behaviors. Things like confirmation modals, success and zero states, some kinds of error messages, form validation, etc. It comes in several varieties but I want to quickly hit on three common ones:

Positive Reinforcement

Rewards, payouts, praise, humor and value are all forms of positive reinforcement that encourage users to continue to do whatever-they-just-did to get more. It’s the addition (positive) of something wanted.

Negative Reinforcement

Contrary to the colloquial understanding, negative reinforcement is not punishment. Silencing the alarm, hiding the error state, removing the danger, and opening the path are all forms of negative reinforcement that encourage users to continue to do whatever-they-just-did. It’s the removal (negative) of something unwanted. 

Punishment = Bad

Not going to say a lot here because computers should not be used for punishment. Like the first law of robotics, applications should not harm humans. Don’t do this or… or… you’ll be punished? But to be clear, punishment is the addition something bad or the removal of something good as a consequence for specific behaviors. Remember that punishment can only be marginally effective at stopping behavior, it can’t encourage behavior. As you know from your horrible experience with your second grade teacher, you never forget punishment. Not only is it a damaging method for changing behavior, once the punishment is removed, that behavior often returns! 

So What is Proper Reinforcement?

So the studies have been done. You can read more here, here and here and much of it applies to humans as well as lab rats. Everybody likes good things and hates bad things and there’s some morality here too: if you’re hoping to induce improper behavior in others, or worse, behavior that is good for you and bad for them? Stop reading now. 

But in software applications there are “good” behaviors and “bad” behaviors. Or more accurately, user actions that will get them the value they need and actions that will ultimately frustrate them. Incentivizing proper behavior is a smart thing and will actually contribute positively to the tenuous relationship humans often have with software.  And there is a real science to optimizing the change in behavior with proper reinforcement. While you might think that rewarding every “good” behavior is the best, it’s not. Users will actually have a higher response rate to reinforcement (e.g. start doing it sooner) and will have a slower extinction rate (e.g. will keep doing it) if the reinforcement is variable, both in time and frequency. In short, this means that we shouldn’t reward our users every time, but closer to about 50% of the time.

Key Takeaways

  1. Help users find their value by reinforcing supporting actions (e.g. the animation of a lock icon turning unlocked)
  2. Never punish
  3. Mix up the reinforcement (e.g. don’t toast “Good job!” every time)

Loving Your Fate

I was reminded this morning of the tragic burning of Edison’s labs and his aloof response, “Go get your mother and all her friends. They’ll never see a fire like this again … We’ve just got rid of a lot of rubbish.” I’d heard the story before but what I didn’t know was that Thomas carried a coin carrying the latin phrase “amor fati” or love of fate. Clearly he had learned to embrace the machinations of the world that were outside of his control. Completely independent, I was struck yesterday by the haunting duet Come What May from the movie Moulin Rouge. From the lyrical word choice alone, it is clear that these two lovers face their fate daunted but determined.

There are so many things that we cannot control, and perhaps the greater portion of those we sometimes believe that we can. I am reminded today that not only should I NOT waste effort, but recede and embrace the reality that is happening before me. Although driven for greater realms, embrace the present, there is so much to do here.

Keeping your port clean

Now don’t be grossed out, but this is part of what I found in my iPhone 6 lightening port last night. My charging cord wasn’t fitting securely and I was worried that I might have a loose connection in the phone. After confirming a suspicion with a flashlight that lint-crap was causing the connection problem, I fished this out with some tweezers. It’s not a lot, but enough to keep it from charging.

 

 

 

Keep your ports clean.

Of Watts and Volume

There is an equation for watts to decibels, given a sensitivity of x decibels, (1w/1m)!  Wattage must double for each increase of 3db.  See here and here for more info.  So that sensitivity (SPL) score is a pretty crucial starting point for a speaker.  Not that adding more amplifier watts is not impossible, just moderately costly.  But then again, in the case of an amplified PA speaker with 700 watts peak (and 350 RMS) then you’ve a lot of power.  By my calculations, taking a 98db SPL woofer up north of 122db, and a 110db SPL tweeter up past 134db – past the threshold of pain!  Also, I’ve read that perceptively, humans believe +10db makes one sound twice as loud as another.

BUT distance from the speaker matters!  On a ratio of 1/d^2, the sound gets softer the further away you are!  If pumping 350 watts through that woofer gets us 122db, standing 52 feet away from it, it will sound just like it we only pumped in 1 watt at 1 meter = 98db.  That’s still plenty loud.

It makes sense to me now why stage monitors are always like 100-150 watts.  Even with all the noise on stage, you’re pretty close which means they’re pretty loud.

Here’s what that speaker system sounds like as the watts are increased:

Watts Woofer Tweeter
1 98 110
2 101 113
4 104 116
8 107 119
16 110 122
32 113 125
64 116 128
128 119 131
256 122 134
512 125 137
1024 128 140
2048 131 143

 

Contrast that with another system with a higher SPL:

Meters Woofer Tweeter
1 122 134
2 116 128
4 110 122
8 104 116
16 98 110
32 92 104

 

For reference, here is a reference table for decibels:

Source Intensity Level (db)
Threshold of Hearing (TOH) 0
Rustling Leaves 10
Whisper 20
 Quiet bedroom at night 30
 Quiet library 40
 Average home 50
Normal Conversation 60
Busy Street Traffic 70
Vacuum Cleaner 70
Busy road 80
 Diesel truck, 10 m away 90
Large Orchestra 98
Walkman at Maximum Level 100
Front Rows of Rock Concert 110
 Chainsaw, 1 m distance 110
 Threshold of discomfort 120
 Threshold of pain 130
Jet aircraft, 50 m away 140
Instant Perforation of Eardrum 160

Technical Leads in Scrum

I just read a great article on Effective Technical Leadership that outlines with a fair amount detail, the role of a great development technical lead. Since then, for the last few minutes I’ve been trying to figure out how a technical lead would fit into the scrum variant that we run, as we currently don’t have tech leads.

Simon Jones Leaps high at Lineout - Westcliff RFC

# How does this fit with scrum masters, off-team architects and team managers?
# Would you need a tech lead for each functional development team (UI, services tier, back-end), or one tech lead for each scrum team?
# Does an off-team architect become a technical lead if you assign him to a team?
# Do scrum masters have the time and technical chops to be a tech lead?

I realize that team titles past PO, scrum master and team member are no less than subversive to scrum, as the whole team needs to own the process and the results, but it is clear that there is room within the team for these responsibilities. Additionally, several of these positions are, in a healthy way, at odds with each other. Simply merging two scrum master and tech lead would result in only one individual responsible for both the results and the approach, which is a lot of weight to not be spread around the team. Perhaps technical leadership lies outside of scrum, but within agile’s self-organization principle, to be cultivated by the organization’s managers.

I’m going to stew on this for a few weeks. I was inspired by the content of the article, but I don’t know how to formalize it in my organization.