On Shaving

February 22nd, 2015

I recorded the rebroadcast of the first Saturday Night Live show, and got around to watching it last night. SNL has a history of fake commercials, and the first episode had several. One of them was for the first triple-bladed razor. It went into the recent history of shaving tools, from straight razors through doubled-edged safety razors, to injectors, to double-bladed disposables. The tag line was, more-or-less, “The three-bladed razor: because you’ll believe anything.”

I found that amusing because I’d forgotten that three-bladed disposable razors were newer than that. When I started shaving, I used a double-edged safety razor, which is almost certainly what I was using in 1975, when SNL went on the air. I’ve been using triple-bladed disposables for years, though, and I’m aware of one five-bladed razor.

This past Christmas, I decided to go retro and learn to shave with a straight razor. I have more than one, because I read that you’ll damage the edge if you shave with the same razor daily. Two of them are antiques, which seem to have better edges than the new one I picked up. I understand that it takes a month or so to get to where you can get really good shaves with straight razors; I think it’s taking me a bit longer than that. I still get my best shaves with the disposables.

One thing I have learned is that lathering up with shaving soap and a badger bristle brush works much better than anything else I’ve tried. Even if I eventually decide to give up straight razor shaving, I’ll keep on using the brush and soap – it’s just so much better.

My weekend could have been better

February 9th, 2015

Not that it was bad, but it could have been better. Yesterday, I made meatballs. Good meatballs. Made a spaghetti sauce and pasta to go with them. It was all good, then I decided to open a bottle of red wine to go with dinner. I pulled out a bottle that had belonged to my father, which didn’t have much of a label. I could read parts of a few words, and could tell that it was French wine, but that was it. Unfortunately, the wine was well past its prime – it was a weak, brownish red, and had a distinct vinegary flavor. So, I discarded it and opened a different bottle, which was still good.

Later, I did a search on the partial words I found on the label, and found that currently, recent vintages are going for $90/bottle. In 2003, the wine was $400/bottle. I’m not sure, but this may have been the bottle I bought for Dad’s 50th birthday. The wine was a couple years shy of 50 years old at the time, and I remember telling him, “Don’t wait for it to catch up.” If it is that bottle of wine, it was a vintage that was over 80 years old, and I’m not surprised that it had turned to vinegar.

Then today, Marion and I went to Barr Lake State Park and walked around the lake (a 9-mile walk). Barr Lake is a fairly reliable bald eagle nesting area, so we were hoping to see at least one. We saw a lot of seagulls, a lot of geese, a few hawks, a kestrel, at least one eagle which was either a golden eagle or a juvenile bald eagle, and I took a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, when I got home, it was brought to my attention that I had neglected to reset the resolution at which my camera took pictures.

Earlier this week, I’d been taking some product photos for work, to be uploaded to the web. However, resizing 18MB photos down to 130×150 pixels for thumbnails caused problems. Selecting 720×480 for photos in the camera solved the problem. However, I hadn’t realized that I was still taking photos at that resolution today.

I have several photos of an eagle’s nest that appear to show an eagle on the nest, but it’s not quite good enough to tell, and there’s no zoom available on the photos.

In other words, a good weekend with a good meal and good photos, but it could have been better.

UPDATE: I wrote and posted this late Sunday night, but it got noted as published just past midnight. Apparently, my ISP is on MST already, or is located in the Central Time Zone.

Not that there’s a good time to get sick …

February 1st, 2015

… but this weekend was not the best time for it. Friday, I thought it was something I’d eaten, because it was apparently just an upset stomach. When I started coughing on Saturday, I realized that wasn’t it. Unfortunately, as I said, this was not the weekend to be inconvenienced in that manner.

Marion’s cousin was visiting, and I missed a nice Italian dinner Friday, had to pass on using my ticket to the Cartier exhibit, and missed Saturday dinner at the Buckhorn Exchange.

I was feeling better this morning, so Marion and I went up to Breckenridge for the 25th Annual International Snow Sculpture Championships. We got about 6″ or so of snow last night here in Arvada, and with fog and snow on the highway, travel was pretty slow until we got close to Idaho Springs, at which point the highway dried up and the sun came out. It’s not often that we have more snow in the metro area than in the mountains.

The weather in Breckenridge was cold, but the weather was glorious. We looked at all the snow sculptures, and decided that the judges must have different criteria that they’re operating from. Lithuania was awarded 1st place in the competition, and Germany took 2nd. Based on the early voting for public favorite, I’d say the Alaska and Breckenridge teams are the top contenders (the public votes for their favorite by stuffing money into jars – $1/vote, running through this week). I also liked the Chinese entry and one of the two Mongolian entries, but they didn’t seem that popular, and won no judges awards.

It was the first full day of public viewing, which runs until next weekend. We like to get there the first weekend for viewing, because snow sculptures are ephemeral, and sometimes they’re too delicate to last the week. I took photos of all of them, and may post some later.

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.