We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Saturday, November 9. 2013
With a relative here recovering from orthopedic surgery, I'm trying Sweet Chili tonight. Something like this, with its interesting combination of ingredients: The Best Chili You Will Ever Taste. Chef also advises using Pink Beans - Rosadas - not kidney beans for Chili. Also says canned beans are at least as good as soaking dried beans. Says no good chef would bother soaking beans.
I'll serve it with some rice if wanted, but I think chips are the right thing. Or maybe I'll make some cornbread. Yeah, that's what I will do.
The fun thing about Chili for me is a choice of toppings: Scallions, chopped red onion, grated cheese, chopped pepper or chopped Halapenos, sour cream, etc.
I use a Slow-Cooker, aka crock pot, for these sorts of things so as not to be chained to the kitchen. Slow Cooker never burns things, and you can go do things for 6 hours. Mine has a timer, too.
The good Balsamic Vinegar comes from Modena (home of Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini), where they have been making it for a thousand years. I have some days when I hunger for some Balsamic.
It's called "balsamic" because it was thought to be a good balsam, or balm, for pain and disease. Our North American Balsam Fir was thought to be good for diseases too, hence its name. The Romans viewed vinegar as a balm and a medicine - hence the Roman soldier kindly offering Jesus vinegar on the cross.
They make it from boiled-down Trebbiano grape juice. Balsamic Vinegar is not a wine vinegar.
The aging process seems to be key. As the volume shrinks over time and the vinegar becomes more syrupy, it is moved into smaller and smaller wood casks made of different woods until ready. Juniper is the final cask. 15 and 25 year-old Italian Balsamic Vinegars are readily available, and there are 100 year-old ones. The 15 year-old one in the photo is $70/bottle. Unlike a bottle of wine of that price, however, you only have to use a few drops at a time.
Northern Italians would never touch our supermarket stuff, nor would any really good American restaurant. However, the available quality is getting better and better. Costco has pretty good balsamic for salad use.
The old story Marcella Hazan relates is about the old Northern Italian guy who ran down to the cellar when the Americans began bombing. Then he remembered, and ran up to the room where his precious small casks of very old Balsamic were stored and rushed them down to the cellar. Then he realized that he had forgotten one more thing: His wife.
Ever tried a good Balsamic on strawberries? It's a classic Italian dessert. It's equally good on fresh fig halves with a touch of honey or sugar. Just make sure you use the good stuff.
That came up because I did not know that household helpers make so much money these days. I do not think that a good butler, lady's maid, or estate manager would have a below-average IQ. These can be complex tasks which require juggling many topics. Who remembers the butler from Upstairs, Downstairs? He was good, the realistic adult in the family, the central role. And what about Jeeves?
OK, well perhaps a scullery maid would not need an average IQ but nobody in America has a scullery maid. In America, even the immigrant dishwashers have big ambitions, and rightly so.
Thursday, November 7. 2013
Hunting Woodcock, which we usually do in conjunction with hunting Ruffed Grouse, is an interesting and challenging sport. They tend to fly in a spiral, and many of us have a moment of remorse when we take one of these lovely little tasty birds from the dog.
The dog is needed not so much to flush them or point them as to find them when shot. Their camo is perfect.
Always make a sauce for them by sauteeing all of their innards and guts in butter and shallots, and shmooshing them up with a fork with a little brandy and pepper. There's no mess in there, because they conveniently flush out their GI track when they flush.
Readers know that the best Woodcock recipe is Woodcock Ravioli in a splash of gibier sauce and shaved black truffle on top.
Currier and Ives' Woodcock Shooting:
Wednesday, November 6. 2013
I have missed meaningful paper gains in the past year by being out of equities. I must be a lousy gambler. I steer clear of casinos. Zero Hedge explains what I have been seeing this year: The worse the economic numbers are, the higher the markets go. That's because lousy real numbers make the Fed afraid of quitting QE (which they should have done more than a year ago) and want to print money like crazy.
Good economic numbers could cause a crash.
It's a virtual market, a fantasy market, a bubble, a hot air balloon. Will it end someday? Will somebody be there to buy your stuff when you decide to dump it? Chart Of The Day: Bernanke Has Officially Created The Bizarro Market.
Buy low, sell high is my gambling rule of thumb.
Scott Adams has a unique understanding of human nature. He also understands management reality, which he juxtaposes with the goal-based thoughts of standard office denizens. The result is a very humorous and informative strip.
His advice on how to manage your career is equally useful. Most of us are so far along, it may not benefit us at this stage of our careers. You're never too old to learn, though. My career improved after I made some alterations in office demeanor in my late 40's, and I continue to evolve.
I shared the linked article with my staff and my sons. It makes several points which I truly believe.
Continue reading "Career Success"
The American Psychiatric Association is confused about the PC answer to that question. It must be difficult to be both multiculturally-sensitive and yet PC in the American way, given that pedophilia seems quite accepted in Muslim areas along with recreational homosexuality, rape, etc.
Tuesday, November 5. 2013
We have some number of readers who think NYC is Gomorrah. It's Gotham, not Gomorrah. I'm a country boy, but I love it and find the neighborhoods endlessly fascinating.
I spent yesterday overseeing a relative who had a procedure at the Hospital for Special Surgery. It's ranked #1 in the world for Orthopedics. I have rarely seen any place run in such a friendly, cheerful, efficient, and well-organized manner. Even their security people are full of Good Morning and Welcome and How Can I Help You?, etc.
A chilly day in New York. As various things were going on, I got out to stroll around 1st and 2nd Avenues a bit, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the pleasant but not fancy part of the East Side, and I made a wonderful new 83 year-old friend in the Ambulatory Surgery waiting area too. A retired Econ. Prof from Chicago with a remarkable life story but I won't go into it. Everybody has a story, don't they? His wife was getting a shoulder repair.
Tourists never see the Upper East Side, way over near the East River. Lots of people live and/or work there, but it's a hike to the Lexington Ave. line (The Second Ave. El was torn down in 1942, and has not been replaced yet).
Marianne used to enjoy these sort of pics - just a random street photo gallery -
More random street pics below the fold -
Continue reading "A day on Manhattan's Upper East Side"
In these times, higher ed (and lower ed) reveal ongoing discomfort with dissent and dissenting expression from the bien pensant party line:
Even Savio would hate this trend: Brown U. Students Can’t Handle Free Speech
What is the matter with these people?
Look at this kerfuffle, as Althouse would term it: "The Badger Herald printed a letter from a political science junior titled, 'Rape Culture Does Not Exist.'"
A "rape culture" in America? I don't think so. For starters, it's a felony and I'd guess 100% of Americans think it should be. The letter-writer is right, of course.
The Slow Death of Free Speech at Harvard
Monday, November 4. 2013
Just imagine federally-managed and controlled legal insurance. After all, legal access and justice is a real right. At Jacobson:
Socialism requires government force. A key tactic is to break and disrupt things, and then to jump in with a forced plan to fix it.
It's interesting that, in most of the discussion of medical care, the source of the heavy costs are neglected: expensive procedures and hospital care at the end of life. An office visit to an internist or family practitioner is still inexpensive.
Saturday, November 2. 2013
Repost - I guess this is Part 2 or 3 of our Outerwear mini-series, and part of our world-famous Winter Warmth series which we will begin to post in view of the coming Global Cooling Crisis -
The invention of Gore-tex rendered plenty of waterproof and windproof fabrics obsolete - or quaint. For example, rubberized raingear, or waxed cotton or waxed canvas. Gore-tex is much lighter, it breathes, it requires no maintenance, and Gore-tex outerwear is cheaper to produce and can be made with the blaze orange patches which American field hunting (unlike European) requires by law.
Trouble is that waxed cotton jackets, wellies, a dog, and a nice gun look so natural together. It's about fashion to some extent: how many Americans wear their Barbour when brush-busting for grouse or mucking the stall vs. the number that wear theirs to the hardware store, the mall, and their kids' soccer games?
I own a Lewis Creek and an old Browning waxed jacket, but I have plenty of Gore-tex parkas and field gear for various purposes: camo, blaze, parkas, outer-jackets, etc. Gore-tex hunting brush pants, too - insulated and uninsulated (insulated hunting trousers was a waste of $ - all you need is winter underwear of whatever weight you select for the weather of the day).
Despite all the above, I'll just address waxed cotton here despite its impractibility. Gore-tex is great stuff, but it's boring. Waxed cotton has character and Gore Tex is industrial.
Orvis has plenty of men's and women's Barbour stuff.
Lewis Creek. Good stuff, distributed from VT but made in Scotland.
LL Bean is doing waxed cotton too.
For true heavy-duty waterproof outerwear, Filson's tin cloth is the ultimate. That waxed canvas is so tough that it stands up by itself after you take it off. In fact, if you died standing in a goose blind or in the woods the tincloth jacket and tincloth trousers would probably still hold you up straight like a scarecrow until a strong winter storm blew you over. Their "shelter cloth" is lighter weight. I have some of the stuff. Its durability:comfort ratio is high. Feels like medieval armor before it warms up and softens a bit.
Remember: Always check Sierra Trading Post first for good deals.
Just for starters, eggs are good for you. More at that link.
It's wonderful that Americans have the luxury of getting neurotic about what to buy at the supermarket and about what to eat. As I do, they advocate low-to-no-carb diets for weight control. It's Physiology 101.
Friday, November 1. 2013
I mean, who hands out the candy while hubbie is taking the kids out trick or treating?
The Dutch Don’t Care About Marriage -Americans can learn a lot from their indifference:
Very bemusing indeed. The "vicissitudes of the heart"? Are we in high school? Why grow up, if you don't have to? The government will raise your kids, Julia.
So some Dutch women just want to "follow their hearts." I'll assume that means plenty of romance and sex with lots of guys, like monkeys. But are Dutch men real men? Is life a serious enterprise, or just a lark before your well-deserved and government-paid euthanasia?
rn a lot from their indifference.
That is why we do multiple tough, searching interviews of job applicants. We want to know what they know, what they can do, and we want to know whether we would enjoy and be stimulated by their company around ye olde shoppe.
If you can't discuss Plato, Michelangelo, de Toqueville, and Statistics, and display some witty sense of humor and perfect manners, we lose interest fast unless it's a drudgery job.
Thursday, October 31. 2013
"Thomas Nagel's article "What is it Like to Be a Bat?" is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of philosophical work completed in the last fifty years. "
That is from What is it like to be a man? A quote:
Nagel's essay is a critique of reductionism. Here is Nagel's famous essay.
It would term this fallacious effort as a sub-category of the "baffle them with bullshit" informal fallacies. Via Wiki:
Wednesday, October 30. 2013
But so are many or most of the 500,000 gay guys in New York City, of every skin color. A lot of it is about stylin' and profilin'. There is some mileage in that.
Tuesday, October 29. 2013
My baby Sis, on the right, sent me this pic she found of us messing around with boats many years ago. I was helping her tune her Laser's rigging. We both remain happy to mess with boats of any sort, anytime. Sail or power. We have a feel for water. In adolescence, this one particular sis of mine was a great sailboat racer (Lasers, as in photo) but always scowling. Tough competitor. Happily, she outgrew the scowl, hasn't really scowled for years, has three cool, scowling kids now, and a distinguished career.
Lightnings were my racing boat. Our threesome of young fellows even got into Sports Illustrated, with my cuz as skipper. We took strategic risks, often, to break from the pack and we studied the winds, currents, and tides. Wonderful boats for learning seamanship, and seaworthy in most weather including those nasty summer squalls which always added excitement and danger.
I consider basic seamanship to be a fundamental adult life skill, along with swimming, shooting, tennis, land navigation, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible, catching and cleaning a fish, how to start a fire, play an instrument, budgeting, fundamental principles of cooking, handling tractors on hills, riding a horse, public speaking, log splitting, using correct grammar when called for, handling tools, appropriate grooming, dressing, and manners including table manners; pleasing social conversation, making basic judgements about other people, making a Martini, and a few other things - most of which which I have not yet perfected but there is still time.
I suppose every person has his own idea about the Basic Life Skills needed to negotiate the world effectively. I know some who would even include Golf!
The youth need parents to teach these things - or to pay to have them taught. It's called parenting, and it can't be outsourced. It's a serious enterprise.
Monday, October 28. 2013
I've always felt it was a place I needed to see. I was correct. It lived up to every expectation. Pictures don't do it justice(but I'll share some anyway). The story enhances the visuals to a degree I had not prepared myself. You could visit this several times a year and get a substantially different feel each time.
Wright had something very particular in mind when he built this, and he clearly achieved what he set out to accomplish. It wasn't easy. He exceeded budget, there were disputes, and Wright was not easy to work with all the time. But the owners of the home, the Kaufmans, had bought into his vision, and the results are spectacular.
While their original budget was only $35,000, total costs eventually topped $155,000 (roughly $3mm today). While it would be nearly impossible to build this structure today due to environmental impact issues (this structure has been assessed regularly has having a negligible impact on the environment, which says something about environmental regulations, as well as Wright's ability to deliver on a vision), the costs would clearly be far higher than the inflation-adjusted figure of $3mm. In addition, you'd have to account for the costs of ego, which were significant in this project.
Continue reading "Frank Lloyd Wright"
Sunday, October 27. 2013
The Hudson River from The Cloisters today
Mrs. BD and I had to hustle down to The Cloisters after church to hear their special installation of Tallis' most famous work. One speaker per voice - 40 speakers - and you walk all around and hear each individual voice, or stand in the middle to hear the blend in the acoustically-superb old stone Spanish apse. We did it 2 1/2 times.
It is a popular event. Most people listen to it twice.
Here's the piece, done normally:
For the same reason, I keep minimal notes anyway and just enough to refresh my memory. From The
Many docs today are spending more time on computer screens than they are with patients.
This winter series is re-posted from last year -
A friend did the research on this topic for me, because we were both looking for something good, and we have tons of wood and hate paying our heating bills (I have oil heat and propane stoves).
My friend concluded that Harman makes the best products in that area: furnaces, fireplace inserts, free-standing, etc. I like the idea of something that works for wood, pellets, or coal. The "green" aspect has no importance to me, but I do like to have flames to look at to warm my spirit.
To warm a house and for cooking, there's still nothing better that a wood-burning cook stove to turn a house into a home. Here's a modern version that the Amish make:
Many of us think of Christianity as a “cheerful” religion, but Andrew Klavan, who is a convert to Christianity, wrote that “for me, one of Christianity’s central assets is that it’s a tragic religion — which is to say, a realistic one. The son of God prayed for release from a dreadful death and his prayer went unfulfilled. That tells you something, something you need to know in order to live with patience and wisdom.”
Saturday, October 26. 2013
If all of your winter firewood has not been split yet, it is Splitting Maul Season.
Log splitting is a great joy, a great work-out, and useful. And it can be done as well by a 113-pound gal as by an 180-pound fellow because, when done properly, the maul does most of the work. Heck, it's a sort of lever. You lift it, then let gravity and leverage do the rest of the work, assuming you put the right English on the blow to your log. That is a matter of practice and experimentation, and a deep source of pleasure once this basic life skill is acquired.
Axes are terrible for wood-splitting. Wedges get stuck, cause huge frustration, and get lost in the field. There are all sorts of good mauls. This photo of mauls shows the spring-loaded maul, #5, which looks like a foolish gadget but which truly works well, and will really throw the wood around if you are wise and work on the edges and don't aim for the middle of a big one. Highly recommended by the Bird Dog Consumer Reports.
I approach a large log in the classic manner: I work around the edges, then I chop the corners off the remaining square, or pentagon, or whatever it might be. I like to end up with a square piece at the end. Knots? I never fight a knot just like I never argue with a Leftist/Statist. I burn them intact.
Very satisfying work and, as Thoreau said, it warms you twice: Once when you split it and again when you burn it. That is true Yankee economy.
Teach your children well...
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