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and things went downhill from there
(a desperate plea for fish)
6th-Jun-2019 11:19 pm - Food and stuff
Burning Fur Mood
I imagine I will find other things to fill my days as I ease more into retirement, but for now the main thing that is filling the gap from my old job is planning meals and cooking.

I think that I mentioned my meal planning spreadsheet here earlier. I have made a few tweaks to it, and I think I've got it in a pretty good state for now. If I change anything going forward, it would be to shove the whole thing to a SQL database and build a new front end.

For the first while I tended to steer toward familiar dishes, with a few forays into new things. I made the mistake early on of picking new recipes that were designed for 4 instead of 2, so we had a lot of leftovers. With me not taking lunches to work, our freezer started filling up with frozen lunches, and I got some push-back from [personal profile] atara to just stick with known meals.

Lately I've been experimenting again, but I've learned my lesson and I'm picking recipes that scale well. Hopefully you will forgive me if I start posting a bit more than normal about food.

This week's plan was:

Mon: Mushroom Tagliatelle Paglia & Fieno
Tue: Berkshire pork chops with sides
Wed: Grilled lemon-garlic shrimp skewers
Thu: Dine out
Fri: Leftovers or self-serve

We always try to do at least one vegetarian meal every week. I usually do those in Tue or Wed, but since the recipe I found called for oyster mushrooms, I moved it up to Monday because they just don't keep in our fridge for some reason.

Monday's dish was not as fancy as it sounds. It was just oyster mushrooms and parsley with pasta in a garlic/wine sauce. I modified the recipe on the fly as I was making it. It called for tagliatelle, but I figured fettuccine would work just a well. It called or 1/2 a chili pepper, and I substituted red pepper flakes (though next time I'll halve the quantity). Finally, though the recipe specifically called for Chardonnay, I was loathe to open a bottle just for 1/4 of a cup, so I used Bristol Cream, since I already had a bottle open, and I figured it would probably pair well with the mushrooms anyway. Prognosis: success. Will do again, with minor adjustments.

Tuesday was just cooking things we'd picked up on the weekend. We had bought a couple of boneless pork chops from a local vendor at the farmers market, and some tomatoes, bocconcini and asparagus at a different local market. I grilled the chops while [personal profile] atara broiled the asparagus and tossed together a caprese salad. Won't bother with a prognosis since this is a pretty typical summer meal for us.

Wednesday: Since the forecast was for grilling weather all week, I decided to try my hand at making shrimp kabobs for the grill. I've never grilled shrimp, so I tossed about for recipes until I found one that looked good. I put shrimp, red pepper, sweet onion and zucchini on the skewers and brushed them with a lemon/butter/garlic mixture. I served those with a side of rice that I fancied up with coconut milk, slivered almonds, parsley and enough turmeric to give it a nice colour. Prognosis: Bit hit. Will do again. Cheaper than I was expecting too - the whole lot came out to under $20 for the meal.
1st-Jun-2019 04:52 pm - Sure, they ask you that.
Burning Fur Mood
One of the folks on my Facebook feed is a self-professed Linux zealot. Below is an example of the kind of thing he posts on a fairly regular basis.

Linux users are one of the reasons people aren't using Linux

I was going to respond to him and say, "The only people who ever ask that are the imaginary ones in the heads of smug Linux users."

If I was every running an application (like the space station, or a critical email server) then I would probably set it up on Linux, and hire a competent administrator to use it.

For everything else, it's not a big deal to me if I have to spent 45 seconds every month or two rebooting my system for updates.

I guess I have different OS needs than people whose needs include posting logs every month or two to show that they've not rebooted their mail server in 5 years. Hurray. That's pretty stable. On the other hand, when that seems to be their go-to boilerplate for trying to sell me on an OS, I don't find it a terribly compelling.
31st-May-2019 02:44 pm - Getting my Edge on
Burning Fur Mood
If I can figure out my issue with the program I usually use for uploading images to Flickr, I may post some vacation pictures here.

In the meantime, one of the first things I did upon arriving back home from vacation (other than kissing the ground and vowing not to get behind the wheel of a car again for awhile) was to install the new Chromium-based version of the Edge browser.

I like the old version of Edge; I don't know why it's so trendy to hate on it because I've found it very fast and reliable, and a miser when it comes to draining the batter on my surface. That aside, MS has decided to abandon the old one and build a new version based on the Chromium engine.

I've been using Firefox almost exclusively of late, in part because I want to give Google a bit less information about me. They still have lots of ways to mine it, but I'm not going to actively assist them.

So far, this browser seems to fill all of the niches I need for a browser. It's fast and stable, and everything seems to render just fine. My one quibble with it was that there was very small number of extensions for it.

That changed this afternoon when I was doing some digging on one of Flickr's pages, and it had a cute little extension for Chrome. Without thinking, I clicked on it and I got a pop-up letting me know that Edge will accept extensions from the Chrome store. Well, this changes things. I've got it set up with all of my usual must have extensions now, and I can set to really testing it.
16th-May-2019 10:24 am - Picture Perfect
Burning Fur Mood
First of all, thanks Hotmail for tossing all of my Dreamwidth notifications into the spam folder. I'd have figured it out eventually when I noticed my "unread" notification on the site ticking up, but it's a bit irksome. The reason I caught it this time was because I had a notification show up briefly on my phone and then disappear again.

I guess the obvious solution is to point my notifications to a different email server, but Hotmail is my oldest account, and I like to give it something to do. If I had any confidence that its mail server would still exist from one moment to the next, I'd try directing them to my venerable Yahoo account. I'll flag Hotmail that these are not spam and see if that works. Worst case I just point them to Gmail.

[Update] I dragged them all out of the spam folder, and when another notification showed up a few minutes later, Hotmail did not flip it into the junk folder. Maybe dragging them out of that folder was enough to make it change its internal rules.

There is a photographer suing a pop singer for posting one of his photos on her Instagram. On its surface, this seems to be a pretty cut-and-dried case where even an amateur hack like me would instinctively side with the photographer. Below its surface, it is a bit more nuanced and ugly.

This pop star recently changed the contract terms for her concerts, giving her all rights to any picture taken during the show. I'm sure web developers are familiar with "You should be happy to do this for free. Think of the exposure you'll get from it!" I think it's kind of a vile process, but at the same time it's not like photographers are blindly signing the contracts without knowing they are signing away the rights to their own pictures.

On the other hand, the photographer in question was paparazzi, whom I consider to be the bottom feeders of photographers.

The photo in question was of the singer emerging from a building, and was snapped by one of the pack of camera-wielding jackals who will camp outside of buildings hoping for a scrap.

To the photographer's defence, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy when one ventures into a public place. The singer was aware of that, or reasonably should have been aware of that when she emerged from that building into a public place. She knew the paparazzi would be there, and that they would be taking pictures of her for profit. There is also the matter of ownership. I am very firmly in the camp where a photographer owns all rights to every picture they take until such time as they modify the terms of that ownership, either through a contract, or through releasing them under a creative commons licence like I do.


I think there is a strong case here for the singer to claim some measure of ownership over her own likeness. This is not a case where she went to a studio and signed a contract with a photographer, giving the latter rights to any pictures. There is no contract between these two parties, signed or implied. While the photographer is entirely in the right to claim sole ownership of the photograph, the singer is also right to claim that it only has inherent value because she is in it. I do not see this as being entirely different from standing outside of a concert hall with a tape recorder and then selling copies of the tape.

We need some balance between personal and public rights. If I spit my gum in the street, I think it is perfectly within somebody's rights to pick it up and extract my DNA from it. On the other hand, I don't think that doing so should give them the rights to my DNA. I believe that there is a case to be made here where both parties should be able to claim some measure of ownership on the picture.

I don't think this should be a general case, because that would completely stifle photography. I think our laws need to be updated with some rules for paparazzi, since that is a specific discipline of photography. If somebody is taking photos of another person in the street specifically because that person's likeness has inherent value, the subject of the photo should have the opportunity to exact value from it as well.
15th-May-2019 10:58 am - Meatless meat
Hipster Mood
I am in a quandary right now over whether I should make another cup of coffee at home, or walk down to our new local coffee shop.

I want to support the shop and encourage more of that kind of stuff to move into our neighbourhood, so I think I'll go for a walk once I get the bread started. OK, crisis averted - on with the meat of this post.

Or lack of meat in this case.

Safeway/Sobey's has started carrying the Beyond Meat burgers. We've had them at A&W (before both of the restaurants in our neighbourhood caught fire and shut down - nothing suspicious there) and we liked them.

They sell them in two-packs, and the instructions seem to suggest that you treat them like regular burgers. They said something about cooking them for four minutes per side, but I prefer to go by visuals and temperatures. I gave them a good sear and kept them on the heat until they reached the recommended internal temperature of 165F. I also seasoned them the same way I'd have seasoned regular burgers on the grill.

The results were quite good. Other than the texture being a bit less chewy than a regular burger, the flavour and juiciness were on point. Like the ones they have at A&W, if I'd not known in advance that it was a vegan burger, I would not have guessed as much.

I think my only criticism with them at the moment is their premium price tag. I am all for reducing my carbon footprint by switching to plant-based proteins, but the manufacturers need to meet us halfway on that. I think this is likely an issue of production volumes, and if these things catch on more widely, the price will likely drop as they ramp up production to meet the market demand. Right now they can barely keep up with demand, so they are priced accordingly.

I also tweaked my custom burger sauce a bit last night, and I think I am zeroing in on perfection divinity pretty good! Since I am probably not going to be opening a restaurant that features my secret sauce, I'll give you the recipe if you want to try it.

I start with equal parts ketchup (French's if that makes any difference, because fuck Heinz) and mayonnaise.

Originally I planned to add Thousand Islands dressing and a bit of mustard to that, but since we didn't have the latter, I substituted French dressing in about half the amount of the ketchup or mayo. Since French dressing has mustard in it already, I skipped that. I then added some powdered onion and powdered garlic respectively. Finally I finished with a few drops of liquid smoke and a good dash of red pepper flakes. The resulting sauce has a nice mix of sweet, savoury, smoky and tangy all in one sauce.

In a slightly more formal layout:

1/2 tbsp Ketchup
1/2 tbsp Mayonnaise
1 tsp French Dressing
1/4 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
2-3 drops liquid smoke (more or less to taste)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)

Obviously adjust all of these up or down accordingly depending on your tastes, and how many burgers you are making.
14th-May-2019 08:25 am - Back on the ground
Burning Fur Mood
I picked up a new coffee grinder recently. While it's not a professional-grade grinder, neither is is one of the cheap ones that you might find for sale at Wal Mart or Target. I stopped in a fancy, local kitchen store and snagged a conical Breville grinder to replace the old BRAUN grinder that I have been using for the past 30ish years.

On the one hand, I feel a little guilty replacing a grinder that, other than being held together with painter's tape, has been working reliably for over a quarter of a century. On the other hand, using this new grinder has really illustrated to me how poorly my old one has been working for the past few years. It's not that it wasn't grinding coffee when asked, it's that it was essentially giving me chunks and powder instead of a consistent grind.

I'd decided that it was time to replace it when I was cleaning it one day and discovered that the burs had worn themselves almost smooth over years of use in the old grinder.

It took a few tries before I settled on the grind size and amount that works for me with the new grinder, but now I have it set up so that I just press a button and it gives me a perfect grind every time.

The best part is that I can really taste the difference in the final product. I am getting much better, and more consistent coffee than I ever could with the old grinder.

I guess everything has its time to retire.
30th-Apr-2019 09:40 am - Sacrificing integrity
Burning Fur Mood
Now that the weather is turning warmer, I plan to spend more time outside with my camera. To that end I walked up to the park on the weekend and took pictures of various flora and fauna that were braving the cool, cloudy weather. Below, for instance, is a duck.

What makes this duck special is, well, nothing. There is nothing special about this duck. It was in a pond by the side of the bridge, so I zoomed in all the way and took a picture of a duck that was drooling sloppily into the pond.

What is special about this picture is that I applied a random HDR effect from a collection of free filters, and it made the colours an details pop in a way that you'd normally have to ingest chemicals to see. This picture bears no resemblance to the scene when I saw it in person, but this is the picture that has drawn the most praise and comments of the ones that I've posted. I am slowly starting to accept the fact that people don't want a picture to represent the experience of being there, rather they want it to idealize the experience of being there.

I've noticed that the pictures in r/Earthporn on Reddit that draw the most comments and praise are the ones to which people apply artificial colours and HDR effects. I've always found those pictures a bit annoying, since there is no way I could visit that same spot and experience that view in person. This duck has finally made me accept that people do not want to share a reality, but escape it. It's made me wonder if I should stop trying to preserve the integrity of a scene, and just concentrate on the art of the scene.

Anybody can take a picture of a duck, but I've done enough work on this picture to make this my duck.

And I do like the colours.

17th-Apr-2019 09:11 pm - Masterplonq Theatre Presents
Enlightened Mood
The idea for this story came to mind when Google prompted me to review a restaurant [personal profile] atara and I had visited the day before.

Also, I have attached the whole chapter of Adulterous Malfeasance! under a cut at the end of the story in case you were interested in reading it. I'd originally included it in its entirety at the start of this story, but it dragged down the pace a bit at the start.


Masterplonq Theatre Presents
House of Sharts

Parte the Seventh: Adulterous Malfeasance!

The door to the bedchamber of Reginald Borborygmus, Earl of Shartsbury slammed open with a sharp retort that left it shaking in its moorings.

"Ah ha," bellowed Lady Adderley Borborygmus as she leaped into the room with a wet, indignant shart and levelled an accusing finger in the direction of her husband. In her other hand, the Duchess of Shartsbury clutched a large blunderbuss - its hammer cocked for business - against her ample bosom. "Long have I suspected your infidelity, and now I have caught you red-handed in the arms and skanky womanhood of a trollop."

The earl squeaked out a shart of surprise, and though he had his own manly blunderbuss buried to its buttstock in the fleshy holster of his paramour, he managed to roll quickly onto his back and toss the sheets over her in a smooth motion.

"What is the meaning of this?" he bellowed in false bravado as his eye fell upon, and followed, every nervous twitch of his angry wife's finger up on the trigger of the weapon in her hand. He gave a deep, rumbling shart more in keeping with his station and hastily said, "I do not know what you think it is that you saw here, my dearest, but I assure you that what you think you have seen is not what it appears to be!"

"What I have seen," said the countess icily, "is a strumpet in your bed, covered with sweaty sheets from her knobbly peasant knees on up." She waggled the flared tip of the gun in the earl's direction. "Move the sheets aside so that I may look on the full visage of this sloven hussy from the village with whom you chose to break the sanctity of our marriage vows."

"Hussy, indeed!" shrieked the woman from beneath the covers with a loose shart of indignity. She threw aside the bedsheets and leapt to her feet so that she could confront the other woman in her full, naked glory. "Look upon not just the visage, but the body of the woman who could satisfy your poor husband in ways that a chaste bitch like you could not!"

Now it was the duchess's turn to give a long, sloppy shart of surprise. She took a step back and clutched her arms in an X across her breasts. "My sister," she cried.

Plonq rocked back in his seat, interlocking his fingers in front of himself to crack his knuckles loudly. He stretched, yawned, and then leaned forward again with his elbows on the table to re-read what he had just written. The little cat reached for his coffee and on noticing that the cup was empty, he shoved it absently to the edge of the table to signal for a refill without taking his eyes from the laptop screen. The chapter was progressing well, but the action did not play out on the screen with the same intensity as it had in his mind. He pondered on that for a moment, and then decided that he could probably fix it with a few more sharts.

"More coffee, please," he mewled absently when he saw a body of what he assumed to be a waitperson out of the corner of his eye.

"It is you," rumbled a voice from the nearby body. The snow leopard did not move his head, but his eyes slowly scanned left and up to take in the speaker next to him. Standing by his table was a tall, suited crocodile that the feline did not recognize, holding a napkin and a fork.

"Sorry," he mewled politely, "do I know you?"

"You should, but the important thing is that I know you," said the crocodile, flashing way more teeth than the cat preferred to see in such close proximity. "You were in here last week, and you left that Yelp review."

The feline pushed back his chair a bit from the table, grabbed it by the edges and bounce-shuffled it to turn slightly toward the other speaker. He rubbed his chin in thought while he eyed the the crocodile up and down. "Sorry," he said, "I'm going to need a reminder. I write a lot of Yelp reviews. Every time I dine out, it pesters me for a review as I leave the restaurant, so I write a review." He shrugged. "It's not like anybody reads those anyway. People just look at stars."

"I read them," said the crocodile tersely. "I read every review, as does the owner of the restaurant. After your review he had some ... questions for me." He pulled his phone out of his shirt pocket and held it up. "Here," he said, "let me refresh your memory." The crocodile tapped and scrolled the screen, then began to read aloud.

"I dined at The Garrotted Cow this evening, and here is a written review to fulfil my implied terms of service with Yelp. The restaurant occupies a physical space. There are tables and chairs. The food was adequately nourishing and did not taste of vomitus and dirt. The wait staff masked their disdain for me under a passable veneer of friendliness, and I left a sufficient tip to give the appearance of being satisfied with the food and service. This restaurant receives three and one half stars from me. It would have been four stars, but the crocodile standing at the back of the house is wearing a neck tie that is an affront to dignity."

"Ah!" said the snow leopard with a firm nod. He waggled his index finger at the crocodile. "If I affix a hideous neck tie to you in my mind's eye, I remember you." He tapped his muzzle in thought. "Why are you not wearing it today? Nobody wears a necktie that ugly unless it holds significant sentimental value."

"It was a gift from my mother," said the crocodile through his teeth (so many teeth!). "I am not wearing it today because the owner banned neck ties after your review."

"Oh, I'm sorry," said the snow leopard, looking and sounding truly contrite. "Were you not your mother's favourite child?"

"No. Wait, what? How is that relevant to anything?" said the crocodile. "Look, I'm not wearing the tie now, so would you consider raising your rating to four stars? Our performance gets reviewed on the star ratings that happen in our shift."

Plonq stared thoughtfully at the big reptile for several beats, and then he glanced at his empty coffee cup, and back up at the waiter. "I'm not sure if the service is up to four stars now," he said thoughtfully. "I am still waiting for a refill on my coffee."

"Agh," said the waiter, clasping his free hand over his eyes and shaking his head. He rapped the table next to the cup with his hand that was clutching the fork and napkin. "Look, if change your rating for me now, I'll bring you a whole carafe of coffee and comp it."

"Oh!" said the snow leopard, ears perking up at that. "Free coffee is always nice. Okay, you have a deal." The little cat scooted his chair around to face the table again and pulled his laptop closer. While the crocodile watched, he called up Yelp and began to edit his entry.

"Upon further reflection, I am going to overlook the soul-crushingly ugly neck tie worn by the crocodile and increase my rating to four stars. I am making this edit of my own volition, and not because they have promised me free coffee and the large, intimidating crocodile is standing over me and holding a fork."

"Hey," protested the crocodile. He waved the fork in the general direction of one of the other tables. "I'm just running this over to that other table because they requested another fork."

The snow leopard's eyes followed every motion of the fork before Plonq turned his attention back to the laptop and amended his entry. "...standing over me and holding brandishing a fork."

"I am not brandishing anything." The crocodile hissed, but he caught himself quickly and smoothed both his suit jacket and his expression. "I'm sorry if the fork is causing you alarm, sir. Look, I'll put it safely in my pocket." The big lizard slid the fork and napkin into his jacket pocket and patted it flat. "There you go, it's safely put away in my pocket."

The feline blinked up at the waiter. He glanced at the suit pocket briefly before he shrugged and began to edit his entry once more. "...standing over me and advising me that he is in possession of a concealed fork." He clicked the save button and sat back with a sigh. He stared mutely up at the waiter, who stared dumbly back at him for several awkward seconds. Neither moved, save a slight twitch that seemed to have developed in the crocodile's left eye. Plonq broke the silence first. "Can I please get my refill now?"

The waiter blinked rapidly at the snow leopard in disbelief before reaching behind himself to pull over a chair from a neighbouring table. He lowered his scaly mass into the chair, straddling it backward and crossing his arms over the top.

"I'm not going anywhere until you explain why you are throwing me under the bus like this. What did I do to deserve that kind of write-up in your Yelp review?"

Plonq drummed his fingertips together and looked to be considering his answer. "Well..." he said, and then he stopped again and took in the size of the waiter before he decided to say his bit.

"For starters, you are not a very good waiter."

"How can you say that? You don't know me," said the crocodile defensively. "I've been waiting on people for most of my adult life. I can anticipate what a customer wants before they even identify the need for themselves. I've won multiple awards for being waiter of the year at fancier restaurants than this one." He paused for breath, and then carried on. "I've learned the art of being friendly and helpful to the best and the worst. I can disarm even the most unreasonable customer who complains that our fried halibut tastes too fried. I can be courteous and respectful to somebody, even when they kill me a bit inside by un-ironically ordering gluten-free water."

He leaned forward, pressing his chest into the back of the chair and bringing his toothy muzzle uncomfortably close to the feline's face. "Tell me how you can justify calling me a bad waiter."

Plonq picked up his empty coffee up. "Two telling things are that I am still waiting on a refill," he motioned over his shoulder with a point of his thumb, "and the table over there is still waiting for their fork."

An obese panda at the table he'd thumbed toward waved eagerly at them. "Fork, please!" he called.

"Oh, crap," said the waiter as his reptilian eye went wide and he clapped his hand to his suit pocket. He pulled out the fork and now-crumpled napkin and stared at them aghast. "Look at what you made me do..." he hissed, but a hand clamped firmly on his shoulder before he could finish.

"I'll handle this, Josh," said a swarthy, bespectacled, suit-wearing badger. He snatched the napkin and fork out of the waiter's hand and bustled over to the waiting table. Plonq did not hear what the panda asked the badger, but he heard the latter assuring the panda that the fork was designed for one with low-carb needs. Plonq turned back to the waiter to see the lizard virtually deflating into his chair.

"That's the owner," he said softly. "I am so done for now. I hope you're happy."

"I'd be happier if I had some more coffee."

The crocodile gaped at the feline, but before he could muster a retort, the badger had returned. "Hey Josh, you're looking a bit frazzled. I can cover your tables for a bit if you want to take a break." He clapped the crocodile soundly on the back. "Good job on the 4-star rating. You're my best."

"But," said the waiter, clearly confused, "I mean, didn't you read...?"

"Shoo!" said the badger, waving at the crocodile with the back of his hands. "Who bothers reading the good reviews? Four stars are four stars. Go fetch yourself a coffee and grab some fresh air."

"Coffee," mewled the snow leopard plaintively. He cupped his coffee mug in both hands and held it up to the owner, drooping his whiskers in the manner of a cat who needed more coffee.

"Oh dear, I see you're out," said the owner, "let me go right that for you." As he turned and made a beeline for the coffee station, the poor crocodile slowly rose, looking back and forth between the snow leopard and his boss. Plonq just gave his head a little tilt and shrugged at him. Not wanting to jinx his luck, the waiter quickly slid the absconded chair back into its rightful place at its original table and high-tailed it away.

Moments later the badger returned with a carafe of coffee and topped up the snow leopard's cup. When he noticed that the crocodile was gone, he leaned in close while he poured the coffee.

"That bit with the fork was really funny," he said softly, "but if I ask really nicely, would you consider editing it out? Josh is a good kid, but he can be a little fragile at times."

Plonq held up his left hand with the index finger extended and wordlessly added a splash of cream to his coffee. He took a measured slurp of the brew, swished it around in his mouth and then swallowed. Finally he lowered his finger and gave a curt nod.

"Okay," he said. "I only added that bit because he was all up in my face while I was updating it."

The badger laughed. "I can imagine," he chortled. "I think I may have teased him a bit too much about the tie after I saw your first review." The badger extended his arm and gave the snow leopard a hearty handshake. "Don't worry about the bill - this one's on us for being a good sport about things."

When the badger left, the cat settled back in his chair to sip his fresh coffee, and turned his mind back to sharts.

Adulterous Malfeasance!Collapse )
17th-Apr-2019 10:15 am - Cannabis and stuff
Burning Fur Mood
I know I mentioned it elsewhere, but I'm not sure if I touched on it here.

When [personal profile] atara and I made a recent trip down to Fargo, we passed a couple of signs erected by the Government of Canada near the border warning us that Cannabis is not legal in the US, and that we should not attempt to take it into the US. Obviously we wouldn't, and didn't, but the border guards never even broached the subject. It seems that our own government is more concerned about people taking it over the border than the US Customs agents were. On the return trip, the Canadian Customs agents specifically asked if we were trying to bring any Cannabis products into Canada.

I guess they had to ask because North Dakota is such a hotbed of marijuana activity. I truthfully told them no, but I had to bite my tongue to avoid asking, "Why would we drive down south to buy it when I can just drive a few blocks from home and pick from a menu of pot products in a local store?" It was all a bit odd.

I am curious about how long marijuana will have to be legal up here before it starts to lose some of the strange stigma attached to it. CBC had a piece about it the other day, where they were asking people in the street about their thoughts on pot now that we are six months into it being legal up here. People were pretty much fine with it, mostly citing the fact that in spite of the dire warnings from the nay-sayers, society had not fallen apart - indeed, life seems to be going on with no visible changes.

One of the people they spoke to was a woman with whom I found myself nodding in agreement as she went into a bit of a rant. She wanted to know why there was such a social stigma attached to marijuana as opposed to alcohol. She pointed out that there is a sizeable list of societal ills associated with alcohol, yet at our city's recent street parties in support of the local hockey team they were openly selling and consuming alcohol, but warning people that consuming pot in a public place was still prohibited. She said that pot has far fewer social issues and ills associated with it than alcohol, yet we still try to hide it away and shame it like it's a bad thing while openly embracing the latter.

I couldn't agree more. All one needs to to is sift through news headlines and look for the keyword "alcohol" to get story after story involving violence, murder, and death. Then sift through for stories that involve pot, and the stories will mostly involve people getting stoned and calling 911 for pizza, or temporarily forgetting where they live. Marijuana tends to invoke the opposite of violence.

The laws governing both up here are markedly different. While the laws governing alcohol are moderately strict in some respects, they are still pretty loose when it comes to things like availability and public consumption. New products can appear in liquor stores without the government wanting to be able to control every stop of the process, right back regulating the conditions for growing the grain and hops. On the other hand, while marijuana is technically legal now, the laws governing it are almost stifling, from the production and sale of it to where and how it can be consumed.

I like to think that this is a transitional stage, and that the laws will be modernized a bit once people start to realize it's not going to corrupt our youth or destroy our society. It might take a generation, but I think we'll get there.
6th-Apr-2019 11:45 am - The things that divide us
Hipster Mood
When I think of topics that divide us all, the obvious ones that come to mind are religion, politics and operating systems.

A couple more that are a little less obvious, but just as polarizing and evocative of passion are steaks and coffee.

If you want to trigger an argument with a steak purist, tell them that you like your meat cooked to well-done. I don't, because I think that is an abomination, but others hold surprisingly passionate view on the subject.

On a related note, I bought an inexpensive crème brûlée when we were down in Fargo last weekend to use for science in the kitchen. I've been getting mediocre results for steaks when I cook them in the sous vide and finish them in cast iron, so I wanted to try finishing one with a torch. To that end, I procured a cheap cut of sirloin from our local butcher so as not to potentially ruin a good steak. I seasoned it with smoked salt (somebody gave it to me many years ago, and keep forgetting I have it) and fresh ground pepper, then dropped it into a 131F water batch for two hours. When it was done, I removed it from the bag, patted it dry and then put it on a metal rack over the sink. I spent a couple of minutes searing it on all sides with my new torch, flipped it onto a plate and dug in with knife and fork.

It was extraordinarily good - probably the best steak I have ever cooked at home. Pretty impressive results from a $4 cut of meat. I think the only two things I would change on the next attempt would be to use a bit less salt, and spend a bit longer on it with the torch. I wish that I had taken a picture after I cut into it - it was just a small step over the boundary between rare and medium-rare, with a 1mm sear around the edges.

Getting back to the initial topic of steak fundamentalism among foodies though, I like to think that I fall on the moderate side of the fight. While I prefer my steak to be on the rarer end of the spectrum, and don't understand the appeal of dry, chewy meat, I will not condemn somebody for wanting their steaks well-done. I don't have to like what other people like, and vice-versa.

I think the debate over the internal temperature of one's steak is downright civil when compared to the debate over, well, pretty much anything to do with coffee. The meat debate is also much less snobbish.

I was reading a coffee forum this morning where somebody started a topic on how he had recently purchased a Chemex, and how pleased he was with the results. In very short order the discussion quickly degraded into an argument over whether Chemex or V60 created the most undrinkable swill. That is, one of them creates a perfect brew, while the other is even an affront to kitchen drains if you pour it there straight from the carafe.

Then there is the cream, no-cream schism. Rather, make that no-anything. There are purists who shrink from the very idea of anything polluting their coffee's pure fluids with other additives that might interfering with its rich notes of smoked molasses and bitter prune. If you thought that wine tasting notes were pretentious, try looking up a flavour wheel for coffee.

I've thought about trying a V60 or Chemex for my coffee, but I'm still satisfied with the results I get from my Aeropress. I am sure that coffee aficionados would be grinding their teeth to the gums if they saw how I made my coffee, but like those who prefer their steaks well-done, I like what I like. For now, I think the only bit coffee purchase over the next while will be a new grinder. My current grinder is about thirty years old, and its burrs have nearly ground themselves smooth. It gives an uneven, unpredictable grind and I think that changing it out for a better, modern grinder would be the biggest improvement I could make to my cuffert coffee situation.

Now I need to go brew another cup.
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