Got a new toy

January 14th, 2015

It’s a calculator app for my iPhone/iPad. It looks to be about half-way between a regular calculator and a spreadsheet, and ought to be fun to play with.

Worked out well

January 11th, 2015

I cooked a couple of good dinners this weekend. Saturday’s dinner was good, but not everything I did worked out well – I’d made a crockpot roast chicken with vegetables, and while the chicken was really nice, I’d used the vegetables to keep the chicken off the bottom of the crockpot (instead of balls of crumpled aluminum foil), and the vegetables ended up cooked in the juices, and I prefer the taste and texture of roasted vegetables.

The other thing that didn’t work out well was the gravy – I’d rubbed the chicken with a mix that included paprika and cayenne pepper, and the gravy was spicy, which was not what I was expecting.

Overall, though, the meal was quite good.

It was totally outdone by tonight’s dinner, though. I had a roughly six-pound pork shoulder roast, which I slow-roasted after applying Long’s Peak Pork Chop Spice, crushed garlic, and olive oil.

As an accompaniment, I made a sweet potato, goat cheese, and pine nut strudel using a recipe from this book. (Click picture for a larger view.)

Sunday Dinner

Marion was very impressed by dinner. The meat was falling-apart-tender, and the strudel was incredible. That’s another recipe that goes on the “keeper” list. We’re looking forward to tomorrow night’s leftovers.

Costly commemoratives

January 6th, 2015

The Martin Guitar Company is celebrating a couple of milestones, and has produced commemorative guitars to note them. First, it is the 50th anniversary of the D-35 model, and they’re producing a limited run (100 total guitars) of a Brazilian 50th Anniversary Edition. Each one costs about $7000.

If that’s insufficiently exclusive for you, they’ve also made a one-of-a-kind Model D-100 Deluxe to mark one million guitars made. Only $115,000.

Both of them are out of my range – I’d have trouble saving my pennies to get the D-35, and the D-100 is worth more than half of what my house is worth. I won’t even say, “If you’d like to buy me one of them …” because they’d be wasted on me – I’m not really a guitar guy. However, if you wanted to get me something from this page

Helpful household hint

January 5th, 2015

I have two “go-to” breakfasts I make for myself. One of them is oatmeal, which I like to dress up with raisins or currants and a bit of brown sugar. I also like to add about a teaspoon each of ground flaxseed, chia seed, and hemp seed. I use a coffee grinder to grind the seeds, but their oil content causes them to form a packed mass that is hard to get out of the grinder.

However, if you put a teaspoon of uncooked oatmeal into the grinder with the seeds, it absorbs enough of the oil to keep the result “loose.” Getting the ground seeds out of the grinder is quite easy and cleanup becomes very simple.

Back from vacation

January 5th, 2015

Most years, usually in December, we visit Marion’s relatives, also spending a few days in New York City. The trip was enjoyable, and we had a good time. Then again, we normally do. We didn’t see a Broadway or off-Broadway show this trip, but we had enough other activities to keep us occupied, including a birthday party for a 95-year-old and seeing the pterosaur special exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.

We had a number of very nice meals during the trip. The previously-mentioned birthday party was one of them, but we also had a good meal at a Cuban restaurant in Manhattan, as well as several nice meals with Marion’s relatives. One special treat for me was having a glass of 30-year-old Macallan Scotch. Very nice, and it totally outclassed the bottle of 15-year-old Glenlivet that I gave Stuart.

The trip back wasn’t a good part of the trip, though. Because of heavy weather, our flight was routed through Canadian airspace. I don’t know how much time that added to the flight, although we were scheduled for a flight time of just over 4 hours. According to the Travel Math website, the average flight time from NYC to Denver is 3 hours and 45 minutes. The corresponding time in the other direction is 3 hours and 15 minutes.

In any case, even though we had some bothersome turbulence during both takeoff and landing, we actually made better time than scheduled, and landed five minutes early, at 7:37pm. Then we spent just over half an hour waiting for the gate to become available. Our luggage finally showed up on the carousel at 9pm, and the time to get to our of-airport parking, clean the snow off the car, and drive home meant that I didn’t get into my house until 10:21pm. Bleah.

Merry Christmas

December 25th, 2014

It’s been a good Christmas. Right now, snow is falling outside, and Marion and I are staying warm and watching a recording of Victor Borge’s performances. Wonderfully humorous stuff.

Christmas dinner went well, but with some glitches at the start. I thought I remembered saying that I’d have the food ready to go between 12:30 and 1:00pm. My daughter and her guest arrived at 1:00pm, because that’s when she remembered that I’d said dinner started, and Marion remembered that it started at 1:30pm. Luckily, we all managed to get together while the food was still hot.

The menu included a rib roast of beef, roasted root vegetables, and Yorkshire pudding. Dessert was pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. The rib roast came out very nicely, perhaps because it had a little longer to rest than I normally give it. I put a sea salt/grains of paradise crust on it, and had let it dry-age in the refrigerator since the weekend. I also made a double batch of Yorkshire pudding, which was a good thing. There was actually a little left when dinner was over. We had a nice Spanish red wine with our meal.

Dessert had to wait until presents were opened, because we all ate too much.

The Shop in Budapest

December 21st, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, Marion and I saw a local production of “She Loves Me,” a 1963 musical based on “Parfumerie,” a play by Miklós László. Friday night, we watched “The Shop Around The Corner,” the 1940 Jimmy Stewart-Margaret Sullavan movie based on the same play.

We liked the movie much better than the musical. It’s not that the musical was bad, although the female lead had a voice that I felt was too piercing at times. Not that there weren’t things in the movie that I didn’t care for, either. Specifically, I didn’t care for the scene where Jimmy Stewart fired his coworker – it just felt wrong to me.

After seeing the movie, I appreciate the staging of the musical more. It was a compact set that reconfigured quite well for inside versus outside scenes. I thought it was very well done. We both liked the musical, but we felt that the movie was better (not the first time we’ve thought that).

Before we watched the movie, I presumed that the entire film had been shot on a soundstage, but I wondered if they used any stock footage of Budapest for background. Since the movie was made in 1940, I was wondering if they’d show Buda Castle before it was bombed. Unfortunately not – I don’t remember seeing any shots that showed more than a portion of a street. Looking around the web, I found a site complaining that the shop was supposed to be located just off Andrassy, but the street it was supposed to be on didn’t actually meet Andrassy. Pity. We took a circulating tour bus along Andrassy twice before our tour started (a good way to get around town), and walked along it down to Heroes Square the first day of our tour.

Still, even though I didn’t get to see Budapest in the movie, it was a charming and delightful film.

Poetry time

December 18th, 2014

I wrote this a few months ago, and figured it would be good to get it off the 3×5 cards it’s on and put the verses in order, so here it is:

The Tattoo of Dorian Gray

His friends got him drunk one night last November.
When he woke up, regrets were the plan for the day.
What possessed him to get it, he doesn’t remember –
The tattoo of Dorian Gray.

Each morning, he gets up and looks in the mirror.
When he sees it again, his face turns away.
The horror he’s seeing just couldn’t be clearer –
The tattoo of Dorian Gray.

He knows that without it, his life would be better.
He wishes that he could just wash it away.
It cannot be covered by shirt or by sweater –
The tattoo of Dorian Gray.

His life’s getting worse, and he’s feeling quite tired.
He thinks its appearance grows worse every day.
He’s always regretting the night he acquired
The tattoo of Dorian Gray.

Stupid brain

December 15th, 2014

For the last few weeks, every time I’ve turned out the lights in a room or entered a dark room, I’ve heard a voice in my head say, “It is very dark. You might be eaten by a grue.”

From the “more money than sense” files

December 15th, 2014

Two stories out of the Daily Mail:

1) A Swiss belt buckle that costs more than half a million dollars. White gold, titanium, 387 diamonds, 167 pieces. Does not include a belt. I wonder if you need a manual to operate it?

2) A Rolls-Royce Phantom coupe (about $470K) with black velvet in lieu of a paint job. I wonder if there’s a business opportunity for a dry-cleaner car wash?