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I got an unexpected birthday present yesterday: a phone call to tell me there'd been a cancellation in a class I wanted to take.

There are few things I like more than learning new things. It's why I love to write code and books.

This course is a hands-on baking class on German rye breads.

A hands-on class is where you get to experience what the dough should feel like at different stages.

"Oh, this could use a little more water."

"This hasn't developed enough strength, I need to give it another fold."

Many people are great natural bakers without classes or books. I do pretty well in the kitchen but I'm fairly recipe bound.

Professional bakers don't use recipes, they use formulas. The formulas scale up or down easily. A formula might be nothing more than some weights listed next to ingredients on a spread sheet. Getting to spend some time watching a professional baker now and then is a lot of fun.

Sure, the class feels indulgent. I wasn't going to say yes.

Thank goodness for Kim. The real birthday present yesterday was her urging to go ahead and take the class.

I'm not ever going to become a professional baker. I'm too old.

That's not false self-deprecation. Professional bakers work incredibly hard. They stand all day and lift and bend and lift some more. I loved to help out in kitchens when I was younger. I don't think I could have done it full time then and I certainly couldn't do it now. I'd still love to help out and maybe next year I'll find time to do that.

Around each birthday I think about Julia Child.

Child's was the first of the great television cooking shows.


Child cooked and taught and ate with gusto. She taught us a love of food and a love of technique.

Even though we think of her as the iconic host of many series of cooking shows, she didn't find this career until she was fifty.

I find that inspirational and comforting.

A couple of days ago @pbachner (Paul Bachner) tweeted, "If Michelangelo could not sculpt, he would still have expressed his art."

So true.

We find different media at different times to express what grows within us.

Bachner was tweeting to other programmers. Programmers are expressing who they are through the code they write. He continued his tweet, "If you could not program, what would you express?"

If you couldn't do what you're doing, what else would you do?