Try The Reuben

The bar stool upon which I sat today at lunch was crooked, and it wobbled. Either that or I kept encountering a divot in the floor. I am not certain which was the case. Regardless, my seat had a wobble.

This is not the kind of thing one experiences at the newest latest pub. I did not have a wobbly bar stool when I had lunch at Bar Louie Saturday because I took my car in because the front tires were regularly losing up to 10PSI, and when the mechanics perched her up on the rack, they discovered my brakes were nearly gone and offered to replace them, so I ended up having a meal at Bar Louie next-door, and I can assure you that my bar stool did not wobble there.

No, that wobbly bar stool is a well-earned scar at a joint called J.B. Quimby’s Public House, which is an old-shitters’ joint and one of the finest pubs in western New York and certainly in all the land. Quimby’s has dings and pock marks, and it has earned them and wears them with swagger. And today I had the pleasure of lunch there with my Dad and my brother, and it was really good. I had the reuben melt, and it was delicious. Dad had the Cuban with these cheesy potatoes that must be experienced because they were delicious. My brother had a quesadilla.

During this excursion, we took in a football game on the television. We watched the Buffalo Bills play the New Orleans Saints right here in Buffalo.

The team from the Big Easy ended up besting the Bills 47-10. As quoted in the Democrat and Chronicle today, linebacker Preston Brown said “We weren’t good.”

Having discussed my really nice Sunday today, I share this. For reasons. From the book Illusions, by Richard Bach:

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

The current of the river swept silently over them all—young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last, “I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.”

The other creatures laughed and said, “Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!”

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, “See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!”

And the one carried in the current said, “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.”

But they cried the more, “Savior!” all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Savior.

A Secret Magic Trick, re: Sous Vide Circulator

So I shall start by indicating first how lovely it is to be wrong regarding the fate of my Democrats in elections on yesterday. We did well. It gives me new heart. Perhaps Democrats are as energized as they think they are. That would be nice.

Locally, here in Henrietta, N.Y., the vote went pretty well. We fired the town supervisor, a Republican, who had been accused of making controversial comments; that is all I need to say about that. We fired the Republican sheriff for some reason. I voted for the incumbent, a Republican. Yes, I voted for a Republican. Get over it. Mainly because I do not recall any major controversy or horror coming out of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and I do not think of it as a political office. But congratulations to Todd Baxter. There’s a new sheriff in town. Rochester re-elected Lovely Warren as mayor. I didn’t see that one coming. Just kidding.

So in this new installment of the occasional advice column known as “Hints from Abelard,” I want to give another perspective of the art of cooking sous vide. This is when you cook food low and slow in a strictly controlled temperature water bath with slow circulation to promote convection. I some time ago purchased an Anova soux vides circulator and was convinced for a week or so that it was the next great hope of cooking techniques.

I imagined that cooking sous vide would be a boon for a bachelor; that one could simply season some meat, vacuum seal it, freeze it, then drop it into the bath upon arriving home, allowing it to cook for an hour or several, then sitting down to gnaw on a perfectly cooked steak or salmon or chicken thigh.

The problem with this notion is that, in fact, cooking sous vide requires a great deal mise en place. First one must season the food, then one must vacuum seal the food. Then, one must draw the water and assemble the pot with the circulator. Then, one must immerse the food and may need to insulate the pot with some foil and a towel to avoid a loss of thermal energy. Then, when the food is cooked, one must open the pouch, allow the food to rest, and then throw it in a scalding pan or zap it with a torch to get that nice maillard action going on.

The fact, my friends, is that cooking sous vide is only sensible if you are preparing a feast for more then two human beings.

Because if you’re just preparing a single steak, or maybe two, you can easily prepare it to perfection if you are willing to use a cast iron skillet and to open a lot of windows and turn on a lot of fans. 500-degree oven. Cast iron skillet. Meat. Kosher salt and Rochester Pepper (Yes, Dad, Rochester Pepper is quite a dandy spicy yummy thing, thank you) (or at least fresh-ground pepper). Two minutes a side. That is a perfect steak. Please watch episode one of season one of Good Eats because it is the best one. Watch it once per year at least. This should be mandatory for every American person. Because I think it’s fair to say that John Wayne ate steak.

Now if you’re cooking for more than two, say you have a hungry crowd of eight, sous vide makes sense. Because if you’re just pan-frying that many steaks? You’re going to mess at least one of them up on a pan. Probably overcook it or burn it severely. That’s just too much meat to babysit on a scorching pan. With sous vide, you cook all of those steaks to even and consistent quality. You sear it on a scorching pan for like 45 seconds. You rest the meat and carve. And you serve.

But for a single guy bachelor type who just wants to serve himself up a nice steak or a pork chop? Honestly, I can get better results with the scorching hot cast iron skillet.

Still. The sous vide circulator does one thing better than anything else, whether you are cooking for one or a million. The sous vide circulator thaws frozen meat. Quickly. Safely. And more naturally and better than any tool you can ever apply to the job. Just put cold water from your faucet into the pan and align and anchor your circulator. Set it to 70 degrees and start it spinning. And throw in your frozen meat in its original wrapping.

You will have thawed meat in 15-20 minutes, without the danger of prematurely cooking it (like, say, thawing it in the microwave), without the danger of it going into the red zone because you left it out too long, and without running gallons of water over it in the sink because it actually circulates the water. This is the best reason to buy a sous vide circulator, period: It is the superior method for thawing frozen food. It will do it safely and faster than any other method.

You can also mess around with you know, using it to cook stuff. But, I’m telling you. This thing is most useful as a frozen food magic food thawer thingie, and that is reason enough for a person to go buy one all on its own.

That is today’s Hint from Abelard.

*

So today I heard an old guy have to explain to a young guy that Get Smart was a TV show before it was a movie. I would have felt bad for the older guy except that he began this thread of conversation by taking off his shoe and holding it up to his face and saying “You remember the TV show? Get Smart? Remember?” The dude was standing at his work place holding his own shoe to his face like it was a telephone. I was just glad there are no dogs near where he lives.

*

Weird Week

I am sitting at my front office listening to Chris Matthews on the MSNBC and waiting for electoral results, mostly locally but certainly nationally and especially from my former home state of Virginia. I have direly predicted that Republican Ned Gillespie (yes, I did that on purpose) will be victorious. This is not because of anything I know, except that I know that Democrats are in a bit of a slump. Factoring in to my maudlin prediction was indeed the weird and screechy revelations from the upchucking I mean upcoming book by Donna Brazile, whose name should really be pronounced “BRAH-ZYLE” and who is currently really pissing me off. I would like to have seen her upend the ticket single-handedly based on a stumble caused by heat exhaustion and pneumonia and her own pique at being denied the autonomy at work you believe you are due. Welcome to work, Donna Brah-zyle. Work does not often offer the autonomy we believe we are due. It usually doesn’t. It always doesn’t. What a nice time to regrudgeitate 2016 yet again, you moron. Lookit that. I just made up a word.

My own work life is weirdly uncertain, and I am weirdly okay with that. I am on temp-type job currently that will probably not go on forever. I have turned down two other jobs since the previous job went away, something I have never done before but probably should have. My original plan was to eat the layoff and have a really nice holiday season, and then to do some of that “finding one’s self” stuff that I’m not sure I ever got to do. Instead, I’ll be back in the headset for now. For now. At least this work won’t involve entirely abstract concepts about machines I literally can’t touch.

And we’re down a dog, as you might have noticed. Might be down two shortly, as dog #2 can no longer blink his eyes nor control his mouth nor move his cute floppy ears.

Despite all the weirdness and sick and dying dog-friends, I feel hopeful. It is my favorite time of year. I look forward to holidays and am already brewing up my offerings for Zappadan, which is here in like 26 days.

Gosh I love Zappadan.

Charlie Elizabeth Gretchen Sue

I recently read that when a dog leans up against you, they’re hugging you.

I’m probably oversimplifying it. But that’s what I like to think I read. Because Charlie always leaned on me.

He was a foot-sitter, too. He liked to sit on my feet. And I’m personalizing this. I understand that he sat on other peoples’ feet, too. And that he leaned on other people, too. But I liked to think it was just me. Because I’m selfish like that.

This is an early picture of him with his partner in crime, Dasher Dancer Prancer Pryor. Their mum said they just got in the wheelbarrow like this. I call it “The Usual Suspects” because they look like they’re in a lineup.

Charlie and Dasher

Charlie was a goof.

But there was also something remarkable about him: Charlie developed a sense of mortality.

He never got freaked out by the hunters who patrol my family’s property until, one year, they hung one of the deer carcasses in the garage. My own speculation has always been that Charlie just assumed that deer are bigger dogs. And when he experienced the rather macabre site of one of them gutted and strung up, I think something in his dog brain clicked. When some of the humans show up dressed like that, and when there are loud noises in the woods, those other dogs end up dead.

After that, nothing made him more nervous and agitated then when there was hunting going on. Charlie came to associate the hunters with the deaths of beast he considered to be contemporaries at the least. I think in his own way, he understood mortality as few dogs ever do.

Bear in mind. He never discussed this with me. It’s just a guess.

I often say that some of the best people I know are dogs. When I say it, I’m always talking about this fella.

Charlie died last week. Cancer. Dude seemed weird the weekend before, but we assumed it was because the hunters were around. Maybe it was that, too. But I think we’re pretty clear he wasn’t feeling good.

I got to go over that night and sit with him in the car backseat, from where he refused to move. I rubbed his tummy and sang the stupid song I always sing to him, which goes: “Charlie Elizabeth Gretchen Sue / He’s a good dog, and who are you?” I said his name to him a lot. Dogs like that.

I have since been back to the Farm and the welcome one usually received from this goober dog was lacking. How amazing it is that a single mongrel can create such an ambience.

Nevermind

So for awhile I was trying something new. I was trying to move my blog here to a zippier domain name, 8wk.me.

Here’s the whole entire story.

First of all. The name. “Adventures Into the Well-Known.” When I would stay with my Dad as a youngster, we would take trips. I once referred to one of our ventures as an “adventure into the well-known,” and my Dad laughed. It became a running joke because it always made my Dad laugh. So when I was living in Washington, D.C. and was trying to name my blog, I ended up going back to my basic material. Adventures Into the Well-Known it would be.

It was funny to me on another level, too, in that usually when you’re trying to create a web presence, your URL is supposed to be snappy. “adventuresintothewellknown.com” is no such thing. It’s a friggin’ mouthful of buffalo balls in Internet language. This appealed to the mosh-pit mentality in me. It left me tickled because it’s so long and stupid. It was perfect.

Years later, however, I felt stymied by the long, mush-mouthed domain I had chosen. I wished I could find a more succinct domain. How could I do that and yet keep the spirit of the original identity? This combined with my on-again off-again interest in being an Internet broadcaster via platforms such as Live365 radio. Adventures Into The Well Known Radio is kind of a mouthful.

So one night when I was sitting at work and should have been working (sorry), I was pondering a new identity for what has become something I consider to be my personal brand. How can I abbreviate this?

Sometimes, ideas hit you like thunder.

A for Adventures
I for Into
T for The

AIT = 8

W for Well

K for Known

8WK

I know to you that to me this was a bolt of lightning is weird. But it was. I can have a less mealy-mouthed domain that still reflects the original idea. It was brilliant. 8WK. It’s still Adventures Into the Well Known. But different. You know. Like KFC.

Plus the new domain options.

I’ve never been a dot-com. I’m not trying to sell things. Frankly, the larger reason I keep a blog is to learn things. I keep it so I can learn about WordPress and SQL and other fun things. When I got the domain, you had the choices of dot-com, dot-org, or dot-net. Those were your choices. No soup for you.

But I like that we can now choose dot-me domains. Or even dot-blog domains. That you can specify the purpose of your site via your domain is a great advancement for the Web.

So I bought 8wk.me.

And I wanted to try it out. I did in various ways. Mostly I had it re-direct here. Then for a while I decided to have it be the main domain in Spain with the rain.

Anyway so I wanted to try to make 8wk.me my main domain. I don’t think it worked.

My Mom calls it 8-week something something. For example. She doesn’t understand what I’m doing. If my own Mama doesn’t get it, then how is the average surfer going to?

Plus I have all the years of traffic. All two of you.

Screw it. I don’t know what will become of 8wk.me. But I’m staying here.

2018 Nominees

Anyone who knows me well knows what I’m on about today regarding the Rock Hall nominees, announced today.

1) Still no Mothers?

2) Sister Rosetta AND The Meters! Cool!

Your 2018 nominees:

  • Bon Jovi
  • Kate Bush
  • The Cars
  • Depeche Mode
  • Dire Straits
  • Eurythmics
  • J. Geils Band
  • Judas Priest
  • LL Cool J
  • MC5
  • The Meters
  • Moody Blues
  • Radiohead
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
  • Nina Simone
  • Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  • Link Wray
  • The Zombies

Tom Petty

When Tom Petty started being heard, it seemed clear that the old guard was behind us and the new kids had taken over.

Clapton, Beatles, Stones, all the old guys, it seemed, they stayed behind, fueled by their own gravitas and maintained their own club. Prince, Madonna, MJ, those guys, they maintained their own sphere. It was a reasonable doctrine, two hemispheres easily discerned. And the doors were closed.

Tom Petty somehow began later but dug his feet in with those old guys and eventually grabbed a big fistful of that gravitas for himself and became just as ubiquitous and therefore sometimes regrettably forgettable as a Keith Richards guitar riff. I don’t know if it’s because he was a Wilbury or because he was Tom Fucking Petty. But he wasn’t one of these new kids. Tom Petty was always right at home with the classics even though he was an MTV fixture. More a contemporary to Stevie Nicks than to Tiffany. More a generous talent than most who ever performed.

We got lucky when Tom Petty found us. What a voice, what a story teller, what a time.

Get Used To It

On Dec. 14, 2012, a gunman murdered 20 children and six faculty at an elementary school in Connecticut. This was after he had murdered his own mother.

All that was proposed at the federal level to answer to this heinous crime was to make background checks more universal in scope. And they couldn’t even manage to do that.

Let’s review once again (copy pasta’d from the wiki):

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
Ana Márquez-Greene, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6

That’s 20 babies. Slaughtered. And Congress didn’t do anything.

Since then, there have been at least 1,518 mass shootings, with at least 1,715 people killed and 6,089 wounded.

Muddy the waters all you like with defenses of the Second Amendment and paranoid proclamations of government raids on their way to confiscate your trusty huntin’ rifle. But the problem is clear. Guns are too easy to procure in the United States.

Until Congress can buck its way up from the amazon position the NRA has it in currently and act upon that problem, even in the most modest of ways, get used to waking up to stories like what we woke up to on Monday.

That shit is here to stay.