Saturday, December 04, 2010

Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night, BlogDog. But if you do take along clean underwear. ;-)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

In Extremis
Ave atque vale. I've had a good time. A lot of posts, several years and more blog friends than I could count without having to take my shoes off twice. But the BlogDog component of Pugs of War is going dark. As I said before, leaving the keys on the dashboard but waking away from the car.
I leave both Paul and the Enigmatic Misanthrope with door keys, though both of those gentlemen seem to have found their niches in what Billy Beck both amusingly and accurately calls the "Hello Kitty of blogging," Facebook. I have deactivated my Facebook account and currently have doubts that I'll reactivate it. But that possibility remains.

In mid November I had a breakdown in health of epic proportions. What started as a pressure sore on my right shin turned into a raging, infected open wound that was growing and, in a word I heard a nurse use and immediately recognized as the mote juste, purulent. This was complicated by what I thought was a contact dermatitis as I was chair bound with a very difficult wound. I saw my doctor who gave me an antibiotic scrip (which turned out not to have any effect on what was raging through me) and I had an appointment with a wound treatment center nearby. But I promised myself that the night before I was to go in for that appointment I would assess myself and see if I could get myself thereto. If not, I would dial 911.

Sunday night I was taken to Inova Loudoun Hospital where I spent the next two days in the ICU and the rest of a full week in care of a collection of the most wonderful nurses and assistants it has ever been my experience to be tended by.
I can't say that I was particularly near death but in reality, it could well have happened. My stay has resulted in findings of several health problems that I was previously unaware of and was happier not knowing (the ER EKG showed an atrial flutter that has me now on Coumadin). Now, I'm less likely to die or stroke out than I was just a week ago. I'm home, still trying to shake off the vestiges of the over-all rash, on a thrice daily IV antibiotic drip and with a fistful of doctor's appointments upcoming. And soon to be having a double fistful of bills.
I still feel like a small version of hell but not too long ago I felt like the full on, Satan on my chest, demons scampering through my veins thing. Looks like I will live through this since I have been given a rather explicit demonstration of the caring of friends who have made both my hospital stay and my transition to home just hugely easier. David, Michael, Ed, may you have the blessings of God for now and ever for saving my life. And an outpouring of affection from friends more distant. It was, I can say without fear of contradiction, the worst Thanksgiving I can ever recall yet I am left with the crystal-clear assurance that I have so much to be thankful for that I can not adequately express my thanks. It's a life lesson as long as life is not lost.

So why is this my valedictory? Because I have to change. I have to be a different person than I've been for something on the order of the last two decades. As hard as it is to make incremental changes, I'm a fan of ripping the bandage off quickly. And my Pugs of War is one of the casualties of life. The title has long been superannuated and I have lost the momentum of interesting posting. I look at Joe Sherlock's excellent "View Through the Windshield" and see how it's done: interesting aggregation with intelligent comments done with regularity. I've dropped those irons in the fire for quite a while now and they're too hot to pick up again. It's possible I may undertake a new blogging adventure but it will be entirely personal and I may just keep it as a journal. But the healer of wounds, Time the Avenger, will have much to dictate in that regard.
I will miss the friends I've made. The (at symbol) Gmail dot thingie address will still be alive for those who want to get in touch. I wish nothing but good fortune and sunny skies with just enough rain to keep the crops going to all of you. But as of now, I am no longer here.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Keys Are On The Dashboard
The engine is no longer idling. There's gas in the tank and the driver has stepped away from the vehicle. Final thoughts probably tomorrow.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

There Will Be No Blogging
For a while. It's getting into the ramp-up to Thanksgiving and I've got a pretty serious health problem that will probably be taking up a lot of time as well. Though it will be interesting to learn about the exciting field of wound closure. Something new. To me.
UPDATE: The wheels of medicine grind exceedingly slow. I have an appointment at the Wound Healing Center on Monday next. Today I have to get out and get my scrip filled.
UPDATE: Running on Keflex and water. I have made my lower leg the honorary eighth dwarf: Weepy. Yeah, gross. Sorry. Just sucks to be me right now. This, however, a condition I would gladly wish on my worst enemy. INTRADAY UPDATE: A very good friend came over to help get some sustenance and, despite my revulsion at consuming anything, I drank a glass of milk and ate a Lean Cuisine meal. Also had some diet Dr Pepper which was like nectar. It's easier to hydrate with a fluid that goes down like silk. And apart from all the leg rot, I'm feeling better. The prickly rash I'm developing (contact dermatitis, but to what?) is not helping.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

That Old Shakespearean Rag
Yes, autumn is well and truly upon us. Yesterday I worked with my nice next door neighbor who raked leaves from both our tiny yards into a pile on my driveway where I was able to suck them up the leaf vac and bag the shreds. I have mulch!

Friday, November 05, 2010

It Was A Wonderful Night
Thursday night I finally got to see a singer whose work I have long been enamored of and even posted about just below: Basia Trzetrzelewska (link goes to WikiPedia for a detailed look at her). I can't recall how many years ago by brother Michael gave me her "Basia On Broadway" double live CD but I was about three songs into it when I was gobsmacked by her talent. Obviously, I'm a slow learner. Compounded by the fact that I'd never even heard of her before. But I assiduously set about to collect her entire self-titled oeuvre.Which I have done. I would also like to take this moment to point out that she has done a lot of work with the superb guitarist Peter White. It really doesn't hurt to have just some of the best musicians in the genre to provide the sound behind the singer.
Which also leads to a couple of notes about the show on Thursday. The stage was pretty full: drummer, guitarist (Peter White had an obligation elsewhere so a very talented fill in was there), Danny White (Peter's brother) on keyboards, a flautist/saxophonist/percussion player, the chick singers and Basia herself. And what a polyglot crowd it was on stage. Danny White and the drummer (who really did a fabulous job - great rhythms and never overwhelmed the music) are Brits. Basia is, of course, Polish. The guitarist was Corsican and the twins who sang backup (and some lead) were Mauritian! From the town of Quatre Bornes in fact, not too terribly far from the town of Vacoas in which the residence of the US ambassador is located. Very lovely ladies who were rather surprised when I asked where in Mauritius they were from. It is a wonderful world wherein a group of people from those
scattered corners of the world can come together on a stage and make beautiful music. I won't say "it doesn't get any better than this" because what if I won the lottery and hired these folks to play a concert for me and my friends. That would be better. But it was awfully damned good.
I can't reproduce the set list although she opened with her wonderful ballad "Yearning." And she sang every song I really wanted to hear. Her take on Tom Jobim's classic "Waters of March," "Miles Away" and "A Gift" from her latest release. Bottom line is that it was a great, great show. To my untrained ear, she has not lost a note in a voice with exceptional range, power and control. This was really driven home to me as I watched some of the "Electric Proms" from the BBC on TV the other day. It was one show of The Who and another of Sir Paul Mac. Roger Daltrey's voice, God bless him for what he sang for so long, is just devastated, as has been noted on PoW in the past. As much as I'd like to see and hear the Remains of The Who, he should retire his pies. And McCartney's voice, while not as ravaged as Roger's is no longer the sweet sound it was in the past. He really should retire from the stage as well. Sorry guys. Don't lead us into regret.
I apologize for the digression but it is by way of illustration that Basia's voice is everything it ever was. Maybe it's a function of her singing smooth jazz but she sings it with such power that I venture to say that it's more a measure of her using her voice well. And her hiatus from performing. OK. That does make a difference. But still, she must be given credit for getting on stage and delivering everything she gave her songs since first she sang them.
She is also so absolutely gorgeous that I told her I thought there might be some album art in her attic that's aging because she surely wasn't. "Ah Dorian Gray" she said and hugged me! It was not gratuitous. I fully meant it. If you look at the cover art for "It's That Girl Again," you'll see what I mean. And what a magic cataract of beautiful brunette tresses! As sweeping and glossy as a raven's wing. Yeah, getting a hug from her was an unexpected blessing. I also mentioned how much I enjoyed hearing "Miles Away" which seemed to make her happy as well. Not an often requested song perhaps.
How did I manage meeting her? Well, at The Birchmere, artists often will meet and greet after the show but it's never to be expected and Basia didn't do so. However I was lucky enough to have parked by the stage door (by the chance of it being as close as I could get for arriving late) and thus was able to hang around despite the cold and spitting rain to get my CD jewel box inserts signed. (extended happy dance) I really dig having autographed media. And thus, my friends, I was able this wonderful lady to my "seen live" list.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I was going to head up to Delaware for the day but this morning my lower back talked me into taking it easy. It was a good thing and, I'm wondering, perhaps a bit of an omen. After I ate a late breakfast my GI tract has gone on the offensive against me. I need to hook a firehose to one end of me and right now I'm not decided which end would be best. I'm going to try to make myself a pot of rice and see if it might provide some grain-y bulk to either settle me down or flush the system.
Either way, this sucks. It's not as bad as the flu but it has definite flu-ish aspects.

Sorry for the lack of posting but I've been dealing with this GI ugliness on and off fer the last few days. It's the Michael Corleone of sickness: Every time I think I'm out, it drags me back in. Dang. Luckily I have some DVDs, plenty to read. I have to be well enough to see Basia tomorrow night.

Friday, October 29, 2010

An oldie but a goodie brought up to date. The Kinks are much unappreciated in this country (USA).

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Shake Out The Cobwebs
I have tried to maintain a commitment to live music but I've not been very diligent about it. But every now and then, a necessity arises and this week, it was buying a ticket to see the wonderful jazz singer Basia who's coming to The Birchmere in early November. Inasmuch as I have all of her recorded music, absent her collaboration in Matt Bianco, I felt I had to see her live at long last.

I have to tip the lid to my old college buddy Michael for connecting me to her music. Very samba, bossa nova influenced jazz. I believe I have gone on about this lovely lady at length in the past. So I'll just embed a viddy to close this post out.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How Nice It Is To See Old Friends
Last night I had dinner with friends of some 30-years duration with whom I haven't shared space actual for probably three years. And it was great. I had my "Tao of the Bao" Chinese dumpling making dinner in which everyone builds the dumplings and eats to the point of stuffed-ness. Then leftovers go home with the guests since the amount of dumpling filling is eNORmous. I even have some of the leftovers myself but I hope to pass them along this afternoon to some more local friends.
I make some tasty, tasty dumplings I tell you whut.
UPDATE: Yes, I definitely should have taken pics of the dumplings progress. Net time I do this maybe I'll make a record of the progress and post it here. I may have to dragoon someone photogenic into a video record of the dumpling process. I only have movie star looks if you consider that "The Blob" was the star of the movie and not Steve McQueen.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

(If you don't get the joke, look at the name of the jpg file.)
A Qualified Success
Last evening I made the delicious Japanese sweet treat yokan. It's actually not difficult but it is laborious. I'm happy with the result but I have to go through a few more iterations before I'm completely satisfied. My main objection to the block I have in my fridge is that there are adzuki beans that survived the process whole. I used the immersion blender on the bean pot but was hesitant to blend the bejabbers out of them. Next time, no mercy.
UPDATE: Decided to listen to Basia this morning. Good choice.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The season is well and truly here. This morning broke overcast, rainy, cool. As much as I love the fall, this weather is like a reverse IV, kinda sucks the life out of ya. 500cc's of coffee! Stat!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Woo Hoo!
It's been a while but I won the caption contest over at Wizbang! this week.
Yay me!

Monday, October 11, 2010

And Now, A Message From The Head Of The Democratic National Committee

Friday, October 08, 2010

Very Exciting
I just ordered the DVD of the Met's Production of "Carmen" featuring the enchanting
Elīna Garanča whose "Habanera" I linked in a post below. Wonderful music, terrific staging, superb singing and diva eye candy like total madness. Is there a drawback here? Well, it is about $30 from the 'Zon but my DVD collection needs a little more culcha.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

If The News Is To Be Believed
I heard it reported that the CDMA iPhone for Verizon is coming early next year. While I have no great complaints about the AT&T service, I think the availability of the iPhone on Verizon will be dispositive. At least for me. I will probably opt for achange of carrier and a new iteration Apple's charming little device when that happens. Absent the change, I'll just keep chugging along with my already two-iterations-back unit.
There is something about a new cellie, isn't there?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Magpies Crush Saints In Grand Final Tie-Breaking Followup
Collingwood wins! Collingwood wins! Collingwood wins!
This is even better than the brutal smackdown Collingwood laid on Geelong to get to the Grand Final. I think I need to gt a T shirt or sumfink.
UPDATE: Got dammit! The station I rely on to broadcast footy obviously thinks last week's broadcast of the Grnd Final match that resulted in a tie was the end of the footy season. No game last night! I will not get to see the pummeling of St. Kilda I so richly deserve to see. Oh bother.

Friday, October 01, 2010

"Urban Intellectual Fodder"
Just read it. We'll talk more about this later.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why No New Posts?
Neal Stephenson and Stieg Larsson.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Join The Club, Bitch
Michelle Obama finds life with Barack in the White House "hell."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Should Make Targeting Easier

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When It's Not A Mitzvah
I have often posted about those moments in everyday life that can be taken as bestowals of small blessings. To put a Tom Lehrer-ish gloss on it, I'll quote him: "Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it." As Onslow would say, "Oh, noice!" I try to find the nugget of grace in the passages of time but some times, there's really just not a nugget in there, which is not to say that there's evil "afoot." But little annoyances crop up and being able to just sigh and not get bent out of shape may be as much as we can ask of ourselves.
Of course I have a case in point that brings this moment of reverie on. To wit: a bathroom rug. I've had a nice, fluffy, long bathroom rug in front of the dual sink in the master bath for ... oh heck, a long time. But, in the way of the world, it did need to be washed. I tossed it in with a few items of clothing and ran the wash in my usual way. Bzzzt! Wrong. The agitator must have thought it was a Volsican because there was great hurt and mischief. Un hunh, all torn up. To quote another icon of literature: Oh bother!
First, one load of clothes was all fuzzed up with the pieces of rug that had been torn loose. But it wasn't too bad. I let the dryer take care of the majority of that and just hand plucked any remaining pieces when I brought the clothes up. And second, I did need another rug. I first looked at the web site of "Bed, Bath & Beyond" so I could just shop locally and I didn't see what I wanted, as best as I could tell. So I went to The 'Zon. Well, it was a bit of risk since I couldn't bring all the tactile senses to bear but I saw a rug that looked right, had good if not overwhelming reviews and was on the order of half the price of the one I was looking at on the BB&B page. Click.
So, I now have the rug down and it's good. Really quite good. My previous rug was "non-slip" in a very real sense - I practically had to roll it up and re-lay it to move it. And it had an overlap of its corner with the corner of the rug in front of the shower. I was never thrilled about that little foot-catching lump. The new rug is not as long, it will move a bit but it can be pushed into position yet has sufficient mass so that it doesn't (I'm quoting everyone today) slip slide away.
I kind of like the new rug better but I can't say there's any blessing when I have to drop a few sawbucks that I shouldn't have had to, had I known the way the old rug would 'respond' to the washer. Bastiat in action. And a lesson learned. I will wash the new rug one pf these days but it will be in a load by itself and done only on gentle cycle. And my fingers will be crossed.
In other news, I decided to try the electric shaving experience after looking at some of the new "nanotech" shavers and my first shave with my new Panasonic wet/dry shaver feels incredibly promising. To shave without using hot water and while attending to other (ahem!) "chores" simultaneously? Seems like a good thing. I will keep the five knife razor for occasional intense face ripping shaves but with the new electric, I just may have a lifetime supply of blades from my last foray at Costco.
UPDATE: On first impression, I'd have to say that the electric shaver is remarkably good. The old "tongue on the upper lip" test yields full marks for smoothness and hair removal. It'll take me some time to get used to the nuances (I'm still a little shaky with getting the sideburns right) but it looks like I'll be an electric boy from now on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Today's Weather News

Sunday, September 05, 2010

This link is to a sample of the Metropolitan Opera's HD player. It's not, unfortunately, embeddable or I'd do so but please follow the link. It is Elīna Garanča singing the "Habanera" from "Carmen" and it is magnificent. Expand it to full screen to watch. The video is absolutely crisp and stunningly clear and you get to hear the superb Ms. Garanča singing one of the most famous, justly so, songs in opera.
Once again I call your attention to her acting. The stage business with the washed garment, the "washing" of the legs. And look at her eyes when she bites through the stem of the flower - there is a flash of fire that shows the bewitching gypsy for all she is.
The Met offers a free trial week of its HD player and when I have the chance to watch a lot, I'm going to take them up on it. They want a little too much cash for access to the player generally but look at that lush HD video and tell me that it's not at least worth considering. But watch the free clip please.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Way To Tie It Down 'Zon Boys
I recently made an order from my favorite place online, But there was some difficulty in the supply chain which meant I got the following e-mail (snipped, emphasis added and redacted for publication):
We're writing about the order you placed on August 27 2010 (Order# redacted). Unfortunately, we are unable to ship the item(s) as soon as we expected and need to provide you with a new estimate of when the item(s) may be delivered:

"That thing you wanted to buy from us"
Estimated arrival date: October 20 2010 - May 04 2011

If you still want us to ship the delayed items when they do become available (though they may arrive later than expected) please visit this address to approve the delay...
Now I hasten back into the story to say that the delivery is on the truck to be deposited on my doorstep today so I'm getting "That thing you wanted to buy from us" in, actually, very good time. But that estimated arrival date made me laugh out loud. "Dear customer, your order is expected to be delivered to you sometime during your remaining lifespan. We appreciate you business." Talk about lowering expectations and then exceeding them! It's a strange combination of very smart and just weird. Which is not a bad description for the range of experience in shopping the 'Zon. Smoked octopus anyone?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Today's Weather News

W > O
That is all.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Joe Sherlock Saves Us $1.6 Billion
That's with a "b." I'm going to vote for Joe as Secretary of Energy. If I could. He's got more energy than I do and that's not even before the savings of the billions. In his own words:
A Government Accountability Office report released last week shows that the Department of Energy has spent more than $1.9 billion in stimulus funds to create 10,018 jobs through May, an average of $194,213 spent per full-time job created.
I believe I can create 10,018 jobs for $26,000 each ... or a total $260,468,000. Even if I need an extra 25% to administer the program, I'll still save taxpayers over $1.57 billion dollars.
Joe the Saver. Makes Joe the Plumber look like a piker.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Appear To Be Leaking Ocular Fluid

I bought the song from Amazon. Hat tip on this to Don Surber.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Quest Continues!
I have been seeking salt rising (or 'salt risen') bread ever since Lycurgus reminded me of it in comments. I believe I am nearing the acquisition of same. My favorite baker tells me that her first assay at the starter did not work out to her liking but she is going to continue to work on it for me. Woo hoo! She is indeed a sweetheart. I'm looking forward to that tomato sammich I tell ya whut.
I've also put in for a particular cake. But more on that as it develops.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Free Wine Day
Now there's one that doesn't come around too often. But let's start from the beginning rather than in medias res. I ordered a half case of wine from the Wall Street Journal "wine of the month club" which, so far has delivered rather exceptionally for me. I wanted to try a nice looking 2009 Malbec and an intriguing Muscat so I ordered a half case, split between the two. I was probably more interested in the Muscat than the Malbec but I did want to try both. Said half case was delivered today by the smiling FedEx guy (who has a great lilting accent that may be Caribbean) yet, when it was opened actually contained the Malbec and three bottles of a 2009 Bordeaux. I called customer service and was first connected with a CSR who immediately launched into excuses. Strangely, that conversation was suddenly terminated (not at my end) before I could explain that substituting a Bordeaux for a Muscat was not a "like" swap had they run out of the Muscat.
Being charitable and cautious, I called back. This time I connected with a CSR who actually listened to me, checked to be sure the Muscat was indeed in stock and promised to send me the three bottles I had ordered. So, what becomes of the three bottles I didn't order? Well, just as with wines the customer doesn't like, if there are less than six bottles, customer keeps the bottles. I don't think it's economic to arrange and pay the return shipping. Woot!
This makes a total of six bottles I've not paid for as three bottles of a blush pinot grigio I did order were just ... nothing. Like Gertrude Stein's Oakland. Not just forgettable but not even notable when on one's palate. So they refunded my purchase price of those. That is the mark of real customer service as far I'm concerned. Oh, I must also say that I bought a case of this Limonetto and it's purely delightful. As refreshing and bright as any summer deck/pool wine could ever hope to be. Adult lemonade of the best kind.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Having Received The Art Book
In my long post below I mentioned the art book of my late friend. Well, it arrived in the mail today and it's fascinating to see the works I'd never seen before. But what's most intriguing to me are the self portraits at the end of the book. They are so severe. Is this really how she saw herself? I recall that face smiling more than anything else but I did see her in social settings conducive to conviviality so perhaps my perception is skewed.
I am, though, immeasurably delighted to have this as I now have a tangible, physical connection to her. I can recall her quick, cat-like eyes as I look at her self portrait. I can recall the smile even as I see the picture of lips pulled straight. And in one picture, I can see her mother in her more than I ever realized. My delight has the taste of bittersweet. I have a little something to keep her in memory but I'm left without her in a vastly deeper way. I will probably miss her all the more for having this wonderful show catalog.
Oh, and she was the only human being I've ever known who could tie a bowline with her feet.
Even A Blind Pig
Time magazine may be an infestation of leftoid bedbugs in the American household but they had the wit and sense to put a pug on their cover. We endorse that here at Pugs of War. (Hat tip to XMBD NMSE.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

I Make So Many Spelling Mistakes
I think I have typo blood.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Time Passages
Many years ago in the Gothic Bookstore at Duke I attended a reading by Reynolds Price of a passage from his then new book, "Surface of the Earth." I couldn't, if my life were on the balance, tell you what it was that he read. But I carry the memory of at least one moment in the discussion afterward with me. The editor of the Duke poetry magazine (full disclosure: I managed to get one poem therein, a nasty bit of business) got into the concept of "place" and Prof. Price made sure the undergrad got a full dose of the importance of that concept to the Southerner. I am a Southerner. By heritage and "a Virginian by the grace of God" as the saying goes. So "place" is practically built into my DNA. One particularly marvelous thing about the world today (and here the praise of modernity by a traditionalist, as all true Virginians are, is to leap forth) is that Google Maps and Google Earth allow us to see distant or remembered places in startling detail. I won't even go into the utilitarian advantage of "street view," I just mean the zooming in and seeing one bit of the world as it has been captured at the moment the image was taken.
Recently I wanted to take a look at an overview (literally) of the Great Falls Park (Virginia side) wherein I spent many a youthful hour clambering over rocks, riding the now-gone Merry-Go-Round and generally having a ripping good time. After checking the park out for a few minutes I began zooming out and took a look at what used to be the house of a good family friend. He has passed several years now and he, as nominally one of my parent's friends, was not in my direct ambit but I am much diminished by his loss. He was a scientist who retired from government service to become an artist. However, what I found in the place of the old familiar house was a huge new construction of a house on the property, with only the angle of the road off the park access road and a tennis court identifying what I intended to see. So, obviously, the house has been taken down, the garage/workshop, the separate "art studio," the horse barn. All gone. As is the way of life and sadness is allowed at such, as long as it is not dwelled upon.
What strikes through the reminiscence is particular things, particular memories. The house had a huge windowed living room - dinning room area and on the dinning room side there was a marvelous stained glass window that was done in setions representing the four seasons. I wish I'd taken a picture of it but one doesn't think of that in the moment. Then there were particular pieces of "small art" inside: a lead "tree" that was made by pouring molten metal into an ant hill - absolutely fascinating even if a visually dull grey thing. A two stick-figure sculpture of fencers. A lump of raw metal ore set beside a metal model of a nosecone. And a clay work-in-progress model of a horse, a horse named Ichabod ("Icky") particularly, that the artist never, to my knowledge, finished because it was never "right." Ross loved that horse, and horses generally I suppose but he and Icky were tight.
Art seems to have been in the family's genetic heritage as the two daughters were artists and the son decided he preferred to farm, I'll admit there is a certain artistry to that as well. I knew that the elder daughter passed away some years ago from non-Hodgkins lymphoma (if memory serves) and the younger daughter turns out to be a photographic artist living in New York and spending some time on a farm in Northern Virginia. I e-mailed her recently to catch up, having had my memory jolted by my Google map excursion as mentioned above. I don't know that we'll ever see each other but it's rather nice to touch base with someone who shares a history, albeit tangentially. And, of course, I got to thinking about her sister who was one of the few people who visited me (on a trip with her grandfather) while I was teaching in Japan. It was a wonderful couple of days and I will always regret that I did not keep up with her more. But I thought I'd search her name just in case.
And now I have, on its way to me, an art book of hers that was put out in 2000 even though she passed away in 1997. 1997. 13 years. It doesn't seem that long ago. She was beautiful, smart, talented and strong-willed. I should have known her better but I do have one small piece of her art, a little geometric paperboard construction in black and red that I couldn't lay a hand on right now to save my soul. But I also know I absolutely saved it. And I will find it. And I will have her book. It seems the least I could do to keep her in memory.
These are the lessons in life that start with a visit to Google Maps.

Monday, August 09, 2010

What's Wrong With This Picture?

OK, I've already marked it as to what's wrong. Click to embiggen.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

One Thing I Admire About Gay Men
Is their willing to think outside the box.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

An Auspicious Day Indeed
Today is blog friend and otherwise friend in many ways Joe Sherlock's birthday! We here at Pugs of War take great delight in wishing Joe a very happy day and many more to come. It would be a lesser world without him.

Monday, August 02, 2010

I Can Honestly Say
That maple macadamia nut ice cream is fantastic. I will have to make more. In fact, I may need to get a larger ice cream maker....
OK, not really. But the flavor is killer.
UPDATE: After having the ice cream in the freezer for a couple of days I have to say that my opinion of it has dialed down a bit. It's damn good but the flavor is mild. I'm going to make it again but use the full cup of maple syrup. My house guest says that it tastes like eggnog to him. Which is understandable as there are six egg yolks in the recipe. But more maple is in the future.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back In The Saddle
For the last two days I've been internet-compromised. My Verizon FiOS service was done in by the big Sunday storm in the NoVa. I'm not complaining I must say as my power never went out and power in the hot weather is the thang iffn yew know whut ah mean. But I was two days without television service (apart from one tv on the broadcast service ), phone service and the inarwebz. But my iPhone actually stood in the breach and did a fully adequate job. I'd hate to have to live off that level of 'net accessibility but for a brief time, it was OK.
My main regret is that I picked up the phone when the storm came pounding to give Lycurgus a call from the heart of big weather (we both dig big weather) and I was confronted with that eerie lack of dial tone where one's phone turns into a tin can that echoes into the ear what the microphone picks up. (cue ominous music ... kill ominous music)
That being as it may, the Verizon tech came today and in about 20 minutes had me up and firing on all cylinders. I'm glad to be back. Now, if I can get the Subaru dealership to get my radio functioning properly and all the info in the new stereo set properly (day, date, time, that sort of thing), I'll be a happy camper. And I'm getting macadamia nuts from The 'Zon tomorrow. What if I made maple ice cream with macadamia nuts?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Always 'Sperimentin'
Just ordered some adzuki beans and agar agar from Amazon. These are the crucial aspects of making the traditional Japanese sweet treat yokan. It's one of Lycurgus's favorite things. If I can follow the recipe, I may be able to make this delicious stuff myself and not be tied to the yokan cartel that tries to control our lives. Freedom!

(I'll try to take pics and post as I work at the making.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Steps - Forward And Backward
The first is an update on the Mitzvah Canister I posted about below. It's ... OK. It's physically smaller than I thought it would be, shorter actually. And the stainless steel is thin. It looks as though it will hold an 8 oz. bag of coffee but I can see that someone who buys coffee in larger sized bags would be disappointed to have one. Secondly, the nice, heavy gauge stainless steel measuring spoon I've been using simply doesn't fit so I've retreated to using the shorty plastic measuring spoon i had in the cabinet. Not a problem but I'll miss the heft of that nice Gevalia spoon every morning.
On the plus side, the gasket seems pretty secure without needing to be tacked down. The top is see-through which I kinda like. The hollow dome of the previous canister was inelegant design to me. The good part of the size is that it's compact. That's the nice way to say small but "compact" is accurate as long as it holds my requisite package full. And the shorty spoon fits so, all told, with the steps forward and back, I think I'm ahead.
Now, about my Friday.... The backstory is that I have long been looking for really good, solid iPod integration into the car stereo landscape. I've tried a couple of different versions of the "RoadTrip" (by Griffin) microradio connections and have had success that ultimately is undermined by poor connectivity or radio stations that intrude on frequencies that are open in my 'hood. So I Wooted an Alpine unit that looked pretty sweet (link goes to Amazon for clarity) and today I had it installed. I probably should have bought the Woot install offer but I actually like my local Subaru dealer and thought I'd go ahead and give them the business. Whew. Gave me the business today. It was supposed to take about two hours and ended up taking five.
The step forward is that the iPod integration is amazing. Incredible. Superb. Best ever. But the step back is that the radio is for shite. It acts almost like there's no antenna connection. The radio that came out was very good. I'm going to dig into the manual info and all that this weekend but I may be having to go back to the dealer to see what the hell is up with the lack of receiving. I think that this step forward and back has left me where I was before. But if I get the radio up and all soundy, I'm out in front all over again. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

In The BlogDog Kitchen
Prof. Reynolds today posts a link to Amazon's AlDente blog on one of the great grilling questions to plague mankind: to sauce or not. I'm going to remain hors de combat on that one. But it did call to mind something that I don't believe I've blogged yet. To wit: ginger steak.
If anyone doesn't accept that gingered beef is one of the finest flavors in the history of creation, don't even imagine you're sane. So how to get a whole steak all gingery and deliciously flavored on the grill? My take, which worked (ahem) rather well, was to get jar of sushi ginger and wrap pieces of the pickled ginger around the raw steak. Wrap that in plastic wrap for at least a few hours and overnight if possible. Then put the steak with the sushi ginger still on it on the grill. Let the grill char off the ginger and cook to your desired state. You will lose a little of the crusty char (MMMmmm!) on the steak but the flavor of the ginger will be absolutely suffused into the meat. I had one guest proclaim one of these steaks possibly the best steak he'd had. Overstatement perhaps but nice for a cook to hear to be sure.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On The Small Annoyances In Life
I just ordered a canister for my coffee from Amazon. This one. For years I've been using a Gevalia canister I got from them as a promotion to sign up for their 'coffee of the month' club. It's done yeoman duty for those years yet today as I'm flipping it open, the bail that holds the lid down comes off. Right into the pan of sausages as it turns out but I cook those low and slow so it wasn't like I deep fried the thing. The fault, as I examined it, lay in the pin that holds the bail to the ring around the body of the canister. It looks like a long rivet that has lost the flange on one end.
I put it back together but it's now compromised and fatally flawed. Add in that the square base of the canister has never bee my favorite design (coffee gets trapped in the corners) and it became time to acquire a new one. Since I'm all about the stainless steel in the kitchen (wantwantwant a nice stainless fridge but not about to drop the ready on that when the current model is functioning perfectly), I figured that one from Amazon seemed a reasonable bet. From the customer comments I can see that I'll probably have to tack the gasket down and hope the thing holds enough which, since I usually get 8 oz bags from Boca Java, it probably will.
So why the post title? Well, something like buying a new canister is so monumentally inconsequential that my spending the maybe five minutes it took to buy it seemed, afterward, like a waste of time. Compound that with the fact that I didn't really need to buy it, I could have soldiered on with the old one or even kludged a fix, and I'm left wondering about all the staggering inconsequentialities that mount up to form the bulk of days. It's a metaphor for the human condition is my conclusion. It's disgusting to have to go to the bathroom but think what would happen if you didn't. Your life is made better by a process of elimination.
Sometimes a sawbuck for a kitchen gewgaw is a crack in the sidewalk that trips you as you pass. But that stumble may give you a moment to reflect and give you a grip on your basic human condition. It's a mitzvah if you make it so.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Continuing Distraction
Another blast from the neo past with the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones bringing their talent to a revival, of sorts, of ska back in the late 90's. I only have one of their discs but it's almost perfect which makes acquiring another
risky (see Fratellis, second album). That being as it may, I hereby post "The Impression That I Get" for your listening and dancing pleasure. Yeah - I'd bop to this 'un in a stone second, infectious and driving with immaculate horn charts, what's not to like?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Brief Distraction
Just because. Ladies and gentlemen, The Brian Setzer Orchestra!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Noted In Passing
One of the truly great things available in your local grocery store or supermarket, breakfast meat category, is Jimmy Dean Sage sausage, patty style. I have yet to find the best way to slice them to a thinness I prefer (probably freezing the tube for half an hour and doing all the slicing would work) but the flavor is just exactly, precisely the way I want my breffix sausage to taste. I think McDonald's sausage is based on this as it's almost exactly the same flavor. And McDonald's sausage absolutely kills.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just A Thought
Is it possible that Obama thought "trouble in the Gulf" was "trouble in the golf" so he's "not going to rest" until he brings his handicap down?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Something Is Very, Very Wrong With Me
A couple of years ago, you would not have been able to get me to voluntarily buy or eat a tomato for any reason short of impending apocalypse. As my Brit friend and fellow English teacher in Japan used to say, there was a level of hungry that was 'tomato hungry" which was how famished he'd have to be before he'd eat a piece of tomato. I've long felt pretty much the same way. On my honeymoon as the waitress cleared our dishes one lunch, she observed that no tomatoes had been consumed on both my bride's and my salads. This resulted in the immortal phrase, "Neither one of yeez likes damadahs then." (This was in St. John, NB though you may want to place the accent more Joisey-like.)
The past, though, is always prologue. A couple of days ago, I sat at the kitchen table having a lively time with my visitor who had acquired a nice block of mozzarella for snacking purposes. I had also acquired a nice little Costco pack of Roma tomatoes (on the vine) for use in a dish I'll make in a day or so. I also had, in the kitchen, as I hadn't gotten to point of potting them, several young basil plants. You see where this is going, don't you? You'd be right.
I sliced the tomato to about mousepad thickness (probably should have done this on the bias but didn't think of it at the time), ground some smoked sea salt on the rounds, laid a hunk of the mozzarell' on each slice and a basil leaf atop that. Just amazingly delicious. Which is something you probably already know and is no surprise. But brother Lycurgus is reading this with his jaw dropped at least two notches. It's possible we may be in an alternate universe as what I described above would never have happened in the not-too-distant past on Normal Earth. Strange Earth has good tomatoes!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

After great heat we have rain. The sky is crying for me having to say goodbye to my house guest who has been just the peak of house guesty perfection. No trouble, enthusiastic, appreciative of the opportunities I have to chauffeur and perfectly capable of going off solo when I wasn't able to provide personal guide services.
Anyone who leaves my place happy and leaves me eager for more visits is just the best!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Sweet Blistering Jeebus!
It's hot here. Jungle hot. Tarzan couldn't take this kind of hot. And I had lunch at the Bob Evans restaurant this afternoon. Shockingly, it was not bad. Much better than the last dinner I had a Chili's (which I used to like). Sweet potato fries (cut a little thinner than I prefer), coleslaw (not bad - not nearly as good as mine), and a pot roast sandwich. Reasonably priced, good tasting food. Nothing to make the foodie go out of his or her way but absolutely acceptable. I'd eat there again. Our waiter said the wrap sandwiches are the best deal. I'll probably try one of those.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

And For The Main Course
I'll have the Gulf Shrimp in a Light Sweet Crude Sauce.
UPDATE: Phillymon's comment deserves elevation to main page status:
Have the available side of Lame Duck on Toast - they're trying to sell off the excess, since they'll be WAY overstocked in November...

True dat!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Song For The Holiday
Ladies and gentlemen, the Pat Metheny Group with "(Cross the) Heartland" from the great "American Garage" album. This is one of the top 10 instrumentals of all time in my estimation. And check out that big honkin' Gibson jazz box he's playing (a Gibby ES-175 if Wikipedia is to be believed). I'm no fan of the trapeze tailpiece but he makes that thing sing. Plus the opening piano riff is a classic. Enough blather - American electric jazz for the Fourth of July!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Soon To Be Sorbet Time
I'm thinking of making a special sorbet for our dear President. It will be peach, flavored with mint. As for its name, you figure it out.
UPDATE: Amusingly enough, I get the e-mail from the good fellow who runs the orchard that peaches as well as produce are going to be on tap this weekend. A trip to the country is in order.

Monday, June 28, 2010

As Craig Ferguson Says
It's a great day for America everybody!

And it's a great day for coffee lovers. Here is a deal from Gevalia (really excellent coffees) for 3 boxes for 3 bucks and free shipping. I used to be a member of the Gevalia automatic coffee delivery system until I decided to spend less on coffee. But this is too good a deal to miss. Please note! This deal signs you into the regular delivery system but there's no obligation to continue. So get three cheap coffees and cancel. Or keep getting them. It is very good coffee.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The BlogDog Movie Brief
I had a credit with the 'Zon for, essentially, a free video on demand (having bought a collection of Marx Bros. divids). So I just watched "The Book of Eli." I like it. Not a perfect movie by any means but very good at what it did. I'd say it's a very good $2.00 movie, a decent $3.00 movie and just acceptable at $4.00. Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kitchen Brief
I recently ordered a quartet of sea salts each in its own grinder from Wine Woot. Tonight I wanted just a bite of dinner and whipped up a couple of eggs in a bit of bacon grease (the second best thing in which to cook eggs trailing butter only by a bit). I opened the alderwood smoked salt and let me tell you: it smells great even before I let a salty morsel pass my lips. But, as you've already figured out, I ground some onto the eggs and hoe lee cow! If you use salt, get yourself some of this. The smoky flavor is delicious and intense and it seems, as much as I can't justify this, somehow saltier than regular table salt. I'm hooked. I hope the other salts are as good.
Breaking News
Obama "drive to succeed" hampered by loss of traction due to excessive number of squishy bodies under the wheels of the Bus of State.
What're You Lookin' At?
I'm peeved and dyspeptic. Just move along, move along. Any trouble from you today and I'll go Vincent and Jules on your monkey ass. Seriously. Come back in a couple of days. This mood is bound to pass. The weather is not helping one single little bit.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Why Did Barack Obama Take Up Golf?
Because he heard it was a sport where you could improve your lie.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Am A Person Of Color
It's a delightful pink.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Comment Would Be Superfluous
Except that people are starting to notice.

(I did not do the original image. I stole it from here. My compliments to the artist on a nicely done morph.)
The Whole Gay Thing Aside
I watched some intarwebz replays of the disallowed US goal against Slovenia and it was dead solid perfect. That call should disqualify the lousy bastard who made it from ever officiating a football match again. (Is it less gay if it goes by "football" instead of "soccer?" Maybe. It's worth a try anyway.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Is It About Mornings
I used to like sunrises. Of late, I find them to be awful. Sourceless light begins to fill the edges of the sky and it ranges through the spectrum and intensity until there is enough light to see the world and the world is not attractive in the morning light. The world at daybreak is that hot actress who looks like hell before she puts her makeup on. The world is that bleary-eyed, greenish skinned, rumple-headed person who looks back from the morning mirror under the wrong lighting.
Awful. Sunsets are better.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Whole Polymath Thing
I know everything there is to know about one-eyed organisms. I am an encyclopsedia.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Got Nothin'
Teh Wilmington Boyz are in town and helping my like madness its own self so I don't have any fresh produce for you today. But I must direct you over to Joe Sherlock's place for a dose of worthwhile reading. But really, aren't you checking Joe out every other weekday? There's a reason he's over there on the blogroll y'know.
UPDATE: These guys are the best! My raised bed has been planted. Most of the Deck Farm™ is up and running. So much gets done when I have capable and enthusiastic folks around who enjoy getting their hands dirty on the stuff i dig. Dig. As in garden. It's a play on words.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Knew It!

Soccer Officially Announces It Is Gay

Monday, June 14, 2010

Once Again This Makes No Sense
Right now I would do serious harm to anyone who stood between me and a slice of lemon cake. I have no idea why but my tastebuds are just screaming "Lemon cake, you sunuvabitch! Lemon cake!"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ziggy Feels Tha Luuuv
Guitar Player magazine makes the PRS 305 an Editors' Pick (that would make it a guitar pick, right?) (shut up -Ed.) The article refers to the physical beauty of the burst stained model they picture while Ziggy is a painted solid alder body but here's a little on the important thing with the git-box, the tone:
Sonically, the 305 delivers much of what you expect from a guitar with a trio of single-coils: crisp highs, tight bottom, and those slightly phaseoidal textures in the neck/middle and middle/bridge combinations. The tones here are served up with an extra measure of warmth, however, which makes playing the 305 a lot of fun, as you get the airiness and ring that single-coils bring, but with plenty of meatiness behind the notes.
Phaseoidal textures? Ummm. OK. Meaty. I like meaty. Can I dry age my guitar? And tight bottoms? Everyone likes a tight bottom. Obviously, I'm too noob to understand all the axe-y terminology (though I do know what a divebomb is) so I'll just leave you with this final note from the reviewer:
KUDOS Excellent build quality. Gorgeous playability. Great blend of warmth and ringing, single-coil clarity.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Riddle Me This
If hydrocarbons are "made of dinosaurs" (to simplify the argument), how, then could those dinosaurs have gotten stuck in the tar pits where we find all those preserved skeletons?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

On The Grill
Yes, friends, the dry aged steaks hit the grill this afternoon (early afternoon - I had a friend over to lunch which was steak, attempted coconut rice, grilled asparagus and bell pepper). Holy cow! As in actual apotheosis of a shard of bovine. I butterflied the steaks and it was interesting to see the color change of the interior versus the exterior. Here are a couple of shots of the halved steaks.

You'll note the dramatic difference of the red and the brown. One side effect of this is that the steaks are a lot easier to handle. They don't goo up your hands down as you deal with, say, cutting them in half.
The exterior is (you're not going to believe this!) dry. So it doesn't take being marked by the grill terribly well but I think that's a minor problem. It may mean that it's better not to butterfly the steak and let the melting marbling wet up the surface of the steak. I will try that and report thereon.
But the center ring of this circus of beef is the flavor. And it is incredible. It is more (please forgive the redundant nature of this) beefy, more meaty than an unaged steak. It's like the difference between a mouthful of cream and a mouthful of milk. I can't in good conscience suggest that you spend the kind of money restaurants charge for such steaks but I strongly suggest you try the home version. Strongly.

Bottom line on this, at the moment, is that I have to try a couple more permutations. Grilling a full thickness steak for example. Even absent full experimentation, I am going to do my utmost to cook only dry aged steaks from here on. They are that damn good.
The New iPhone
Helluva thing. The redesign is sleek and elegant. The feature set is decidedly improved. I'd love to have one. But I'm no where the end of my contract on the one I have. So: no. Maybe later.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Adding The Market Ticker To The Blogroll
It's become a daily read and today's post there is no exception. In fact, it's worth a RTWT. I'll be adding that momentarily but first a snip from the post linked in the first sentence:
That of course isn't the point of the complaint. The complaint rests (properly, in my opinion) on the premise that the so-called "boom" in many parts of Europe was financed with German capital, which was effectively appropriated under false pretenses.

Gee, where have we seen this before? Banksters lying and cheating (cough-liar loans-cough!) and trading in derivatives without any money behind them (cough-AIG-cough!) and when the smoke clears suddenly the national governments are told "hand over hundreds of billions right now or the puppy dies!"

Uh huh.

G20 governments are increasingly coming to the realization that "borrow and spend" doesn't - and can't - work in the intermediate and longer term. Despite the bleating of Geithner at the G20 meeting he got nowhere trying to jawbone people into more Keynesian-style games.

We blew $4 trillion in the United States over the last two years and change and got nothing for it, and as a consequence we are stuck with the debt and haven't solved the problem. $4 trillion, of course, is about 30% of GDP, and this "support" has amounted to roughly 11% of GDP over the last three years.
Denninger gets right to the heart of the matter. I was at first disinclined to blame the "banksters" because of the massive culpability of the government in pushing fraudulent mortgages but I've come to realize that the current state of affairs is the very embodiment of moral hazard: profits are retained and when the inevitable losses begin to mount, they are passed on to the taxpayers. It's the essence of what really angers me about President Obamabi. He speechifies and acts like he's going to go all hard-ass on wall Street but all he's done is pump taxpayer money into those exact institutions he pretends to be against. And this new "financial reform" legislation does nothing but institutionalize bailouts with a $50B fund for precisely that purpose. That's taxpayer money he's putting up for his faux capitalist crony "bankster" friends. And they know it.
Even more unfortunately, the mainstream media either doesn't understand it or, as is more likely, doesn't tell the truth about it. Political power for the left is more important for the MSM than eternal verities like truth telling. I've worked in both banking and journalism. Neither profession can be relied upon. One has your money. One has your flow of information. Or, more accurately now, "had" as the rise of the Internet has seriously disintermediated the left wing journalist info guards. The Market Ticker is precisely one of those reasons the web is killing print news. We get more truth from knowledgeable people who are both directly involved and providing direct information for people who seek it out.
I hope you make the site at least a frequent stop. It may have a little more technical information than the average blog reader is conversant with but by sticking to the reading it will become progressively easier to grok.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

This Is Dallas Ft. Worth Tower,
Yasmine Villasana You Are Now Cleared For Takeoff

A rare two line headline for this story:

Friday, June 04, 2010

A Step In The Process
Of dry aging that is. These are Costco choice steaks after being in the fridge for one wrapped day (a couple of days in the fridge in the poyfilm before that).

A First Comment On The Employment Numbers
To establish the numbers themselves, allow me to indulge in a bit of snippage from the Christian Science Monitor:
On Friday, in a disappointing report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said the economy gained 431,000 jobs and the unemployment rate slipped to 9.7 percent, down from 9.9 percent in April. The unemployment rate fell because there were fewer people looking for work, not because there was a jump in employment – private sector businesses added only 41,000 jobs last month, far fewer than economists had expected.
What I've been hearing on the radio news is how these are the "best numbers in ten years." Well, according to the reports on the details of the numbers, the vast majority of those 400,000 government jobs are Census hires. So the "best numbers in ten years" would go back to the last census enumeration which would be, let's see ten years ago? D'ya see a pattern here? The vaunted mainstream media doesn't seem to.
The upcoming post on these numbers will feature a Beavis and Butthead link (I can't find it as an embed). That's a first for PoW I think.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Dry Aging Steak
I was lucky enough to catch a recent episode of Alton Brown's "Good Eats" in which he dealt with dry aging a steak at home. I just took a squint at uToob whereon I didn't find said episode. Oh bother.
Nonetheless, if you're unfamiliar with dry aged steak, let's just say that it makes whatever steak you buy at your local purveyor of cow parts into a better thing than taking said steak out of the clingwrap and plonking it on the grill. The meat is kept from getting too dry and the flavor builds as the aging performs its glutaminic magic. Short version: This is what high-end steak houses do to make their steaks better than those served at Outbacks and the like. Nothing wrong with an Outback steak to be sure, but it's not been coddled for maximum flavor.
Now those high-end steak houses have special climate controlled rooms wherein their beef ages. At home, well if you have one of those rooms at home, please send all that excess money you have lying around to me. The idea is that the process can be accomplished in the refrigerator. Alton took a disposable aluminum pie tin, poked skewers through it to create a place for the steak to sit and have air circulate underneath. I have no disposable pie tins. However, my inspiration was to use the polyfoam tray that the steaks are sold in to the same end. I poked skewers through the side of those and a day later have found them to have performed exactly as I'd hoped.
The steaks themselves get wrapped in a paper towel which is discarded the second day and replaced by a fresh paper towel. Alton says that the second towel need not be switched out. I'm only on the start of the second day so I'll hold my water on that. Then the steaks are put on the "skewer grate" and tucked into the coldest part of the fridge (lowest level as far back as possible). I've only finished the first day so I can't report on the longevity of the second towel wrap but the first wraps all came off without sticking to the steaks and all have a reasonable amount of steak juice on them - not at all soaked through.
I did take some pics but I've managed to leave my camera far enough away from the computing masheen to make posting this as a text post the logical thing to do for now. I will post the pics tomorrow and I'll probably grill a steak on Friday as a test. I have both prime and choice steaks so it'll be interesting to see what dry aging does to each. I think a final assessment should be posted early next week. Looks like a winner so far though.
UPDATE: My fridge is filled with a marvelous funk of aging beef. It's a funk all right but it's like good mushrooms - earthy, dense, almost chewy. Makes you salivate even as you're saying, "What's that funky smell?" First steak goes on the grill Sunday evening.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Finally Saw "Avatar"
Yeah, I was the last one. Friends Netflixed it and invited me over. There's almost nothing I can say to add to the general cacophony (hmm, almost like the movie: caca and phony) of reviews and the like but I still have to make a couple of observations. First, yes. Absolutely. A technical feat of movie making that is beyond a visual feast. Second, if it returns to IMAX 3D, I will go out to see it. In fact, I'd bet IMAX 3D would be the ideal way to see that. And the bad. Worst Sigourney Weaver performance ever. Just gawd-awful from an actress I usually like. And finally, someone needs to be assigned to keep James Cameron from writing another story. I thought Lucas was bad in the last "Star Wars" flick (and he was) but the "Avatar" paint-by-numbers story was as predictable as the next stop light on a city street. My only surprise was that the other guy who was running an avatar was allowed to survive. But then, he was there to provide exposition, not actually be a character.
Oh and the Na'vi are Cameron's giant war kittens: Big eyes makes us go "Awww!" and root for them when they start to kill humans.
Love It!
Just a quick note to say that the NoVa is getting drenched with a great downpour at the moment. Big rain. I love it! I'm glad I don't have to go out in it but I love it coming down.
A Couplet For The Day
And thus we say
Goodbye to May.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cookery At Maggie's Farm
Today's linkage is a post at Maggie's Farm (Another one I need to add to the blogroll) getting all up in the greens and slaw and the bacon and the vinegar and the.... Please note, read the comments as well. There's much of a muchness in the comments. I'm salivating even before I've cooked me egg for brekkies. I was tempted to comment about the buttermilk cilantro coleslaw recipe I posted here but held myself back. I'm all about restraint doncha know.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One Late Comment On "Lost"
Evangline Lilly's character looked absolutely gorgeous in the black dress Desmond gave her to wear to the concert in the sideways world. Amazing. She is a lovely woman but that outfit was just perfection for her. Congratulations to the production designers.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I have a tendency to snark but in deep contradistinction to that attitude is this post at Mudville Gazette. If one is not moved by the story of a young woman facing deep psychic and physical pain to not just survive but triumph, well the person who is not touched is somewhat less than human. Please go read that story. And offer thanks that there are young Americans like Abbey Stokely.
One Of The Reasons I Would Make A Lousy Father
If I had been Anwar Sadat, I would have named a daughter 'Dorothy' so people would end up calling her "Dot Sadat."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gotta Add To The Blogroll
Washington Rebel seems like a good addition. Any blog that can show me the phrase "Epic Prow of Christina Hendricks" is all right in my book, err, blog.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Political Metaphor
We can not stop the flow of oil from the well in the Gulf of Mexico until we have a comprehensive energy policy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Brief Opera Babe Mention Post
Let's see. I still owe a commentary on Renée Fleming which I hope to get done in the next day or so. But last night, as I contorted sleepless through the darkness (my sleep patterns are really screwed up, though I'll get back to regular sleep shortly I hope), I found that PBS was showing a
"Live from the Met" episode of "Great Performances" which was "Carmen" with the previously featured Elīna Garanča. Wow. Just wow. Her performance was stunning. I almost didn't recognize her in the dark hair but the eyes are a complete giveaway. And the singing and the acting and the set design and .... you get the idea. If you see it come up on your local listings, please don't miss it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why Does My Birthday Have To Be Draw Mohammed Day?
It's already Liza Doolittle Day and I'd prefer it to be something like "Blog Naked Day." But "Draw Mohammed Day" it is. Since I can't draw, I commissioned this:

If you don't recognize the reference, Google "Kurt Vonnegut" and asterisk. Or this.
When Good Onions Go Bad
Wherein the blog post starts with a brief digression into onion prices. The other day at Trader Joe's, I picked up one of their "Onion Trio" mesh bags which contains a red onion, a yellow onion and a white onion. Name becomes kinda obvious then, doncha think? I like onions and I seem to be particularly partial to red onions these days. But I don't use a heck of a lot of them being a single guy 'n' all. So I picked up the bag and hat the native wit to look at the price before I dropped it in my shopping bucket. $2.99. Paging Whiskey Tango Foxtrot to aisle 2! A dollar per onion! I do not think so.
Instead I grabbed a bag of yellow and a bag of sweet onions for about the same price as the "trio." At home I put the onions in a paper bag more to get them out of the way than properly store them only to find a little spot of moisture on the bottom of the bag the next day. That's not good. So I pulled out all the onions and wiped them down only to find no moisture. Hmm. Oh well. Back they went into the bag. Naturally I had to check the bag again and damned if there wasn't a new spot of onion exudate. This called for further investigation.
The Sherlock Holmes of the kitchen finally tracked down the culprit. One onion was rotting from the core. The outer four or five thick layers were fine, firm and dry but the center was like a reverse twinkie: full of nasty softening, gooey onion instead of delicious creamy filling. And the remains of the stem was actually wicking out the spooge. Bad onion! Bad!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My New Health Insurer
I just got coverage from Keyser Sözenente. If you make a claim, the adjuster comes to your house and kills you and every member of your family. I'm told it keeps costs down.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Color Seems A Bit Off
Yet I post the pic I swiped from the seller's website while I wait for a sunny day to take pics. Looks more like antique white than powder blue. Go figger. I totally dig the "modern" bird inlays (in, and I quote, "melon" color), solid alder body, rosewood fretboard, five-way blade pickup selector, tone and volume knobs in PRS's proprietary clear lampshade design and a scalloped, compensated nut. If you don't know what that means, don't worry. It's all good stuff.
UPDATE: Someone asked "Why '305?'" Easy. Three pickups, five positions on the blade selector (neck, neck and middle, middle, middle and bridge and bridge). And yes, these are singlecoil pups, not humbuckers. But they're designed to keep the hum minimized

Sigh Heaved
Tired today. Luckily, nothing is pressing me today. I was going to have my dear, dear friends Teh Wilmington Boyz in for a visit but there is health trouble and that visit will have to wait. Say a prayer for Ed, if you will. Our time here is brief, no need to speed the plow.
Yesterday was a bit of running around in the rain, a visit to Chuck Levin's Washington Music Center (if you're ever in the market for a guitar, see Bill Brooks at Chuck's, he's done right by me but then I go with a guy who's probably bought a nice car's worth of axes). Lunch at my local Don Pablo's (Messican type food that can be best described as "acceptable"). An at-home
wherein the new guitars were restrung and set up with sweet, slinky low actions by the Guitar Nazi and his best bud who's visiting from Colorado. Then a bite of dinner at a hole-in-the-wall Thai place and finally home where I tried to do some work on the computer and was practically cross-eyed with that kind of tiredness that leaves you bouncing between sleep and wakefulness.
I think today calls for a nap. And coffee. I'll probably use my last package of mix to make jalapeno cornbread muffins and, if I gin up the gumption, some grocery shopping. I need a good supply of Cherry Coke Zero.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Happy Birfday 2 Me, Happy Birfday 2 Me
Two words, three numbers: Powder Blue 305.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

BlogDog's Quick And Dirty Movie Reviews
First, the Robert Downey Sherlock Holmes movie:
A really, really good action adventure flick. A Sherlock Homes movie? No. No, it's not. Not even close. Holmes was a club fixture, not a club fighter. And Rachael McAdams is an actress who just sets my teeth on edge. I don't "get it" about her. She's about 70% standard Hollywood actress looks and 30% "what the hell is she doing in a movie?" She does not have the heft to play Irene Adler who was the only woman to best Sherlock Homes and because of that, as close as any woman came to being a love interest in the Holmes stories. Ignore the very idea that it's Sherlock Holmes and you'll have a very entertaining slam-bang action movie. The Victorian era Bourne movie, if you will.
Next, "The Hangover" (on HBO this weekend):
Surprisingly good. Reasonably intricately plotted with only a couple of glaringly obvious flaws (that the Zack Galifianakis is a card counting savant strains credulity to the breaking point) and one other major plot point fails miserably but since it's a huge spoiler I won't say what. And it may as lie like a sleeping dog because there's no movie otherwise. Not a heck of a lot to like in the characters though it's nice to see Ed Helms get a major comedy role. And he gets to suck face with Heather Graham which is reason enough to become an actor. Not an all time classic but very, very funny.
Finally, the second Transformers movie:
Oh good Lord. What a massive crapfest. Meghan Fox has eyes that rival Milla Jovovich for witchy hotness but she's a weak actress and all that was good about the first Transformers movie is lost in a bunch of crashing bullflap in this one. The only thing I really liked was the transformation of the SR-71 Blackbird in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum into a Decepticon-turned-good guy robot. And it's possible that if Michael Bay gets to make a couple more movies, there won't be enough explosives in the world to wage any wars. If there is any justice in the world, the franchise dies with this one.