Adventures in Productivity

Early Sunday morning, I awoke with the idea that I wanted to make a loaf of sourdough bread. I received a breadmaker from my son as a Christmas gift. I have enjoyed making bread “the old fashioned way” for many years, and entertained the idea of a breadmaker because, well, I like bread, and sometimes there is not enough time to mix ingredients, let it rise, divide the dough, let it rise again, and cook it. I will do it that way for holiday bread, but it is time consuming.

Scrounging around the kitchen at 7 AM, I realized that I did not have enough all-purpose flour to complete the recipe. What I did have was whole wheat flour. I have never heard of whole wheat sourdough bread…so I went to my computer to google search.

My internet connect was dead.

We have a funky wireless connection at our house. It drops out my wife’s laptop most of the time, but rarely does my computer lose the signal. I rebooted the modem…nothing. I rebooted my computer….still nothing.

The definition of insanity is, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I rebooted everything again…just in case. No luck.

Then I took an ethernet cable and hooked my computer directly to the modem…good,

then to my wireless router…bad.

tangled wires

I am fortunate to have purchased a spare router^, so I powered everything down, replaced the router, plugged everything in, powered it up and …..BAM….

working internet.


A little searching for bread recipes and I found the following:

A hearty whole wheat yeast bread with the tangy flavor of sourdough. This recipe was written for use with bread machines.

Sourdough Whole Wheat BreadFor 1 1/2 Pound Loaf:
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup sourdough starter (room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 cups whole wheat bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

I loaded the ingredients in the breadmaker, plugged it in and pressed start.

Three and a half hours later, we enjoyed a warm loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread with lunch. It did not have an extra heel, but we were joyful nonetheless.


Why does this matter?

I have been reading Steven Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. It is one of the five or six books (paper and electronic) that I have cracked open at the moment^^. He discusses the coral reef as a model for technology development – filling the needs required by those in the environment so they don’t have to reinvent something from scratch to fill their need.

Adaptation to the situation via the adjacent possible.

To make a loaf a bread required not only the ingredients (whether I could use whole wheat flour or not), the knowledge of how to mix them and cook the loaf, the technology of a bread machine, how to troubleshoot an internet connection, performing a search of information out in cyberspace…you see where this is going right?

Steven Johnson’s point is that we don’t have to know how all of these things work, but simply how to use them. That opens up the adjacent possible…If I use it there, maybe I can use it here.

That is how new ideas are born.

Trying the bread with a little margarine and apple butter is my next big idea.


^We purchased a certain provider’s bundled internet and phone package a few years ago, only to find out recently, when our phone connection went out, they no longer support the equipment…so we have to do that on our own. I found what we needed and we purchased a few of them.

^^Yes, I can’t seem to finish a book without starting another. I won’t apologize for that any longer.

2 thoughts on “Adventures in Productivity

  1. redmitten

    well now i am inspired, thank you. i like the bit about coral coming into the mix of breadmaking and internet troubleshooting. of course you must have five or six books cracked open at any time. it is what makes you so interesting.


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