29 November 2012

You gonna eat that?

This is how I picture Reese; she is medium-sized but fierce*
Long-time readers will remember that I like to bake and (more often) eat desserts. My fondness for custard led to The Episode, which is covered in a footnote in this post. If review is too much effort, here's a summary: I made a pie. I ate most of it, then threw it away to keep from eating all of it. It still looked edible in the trash, had to take it all the way to the outside garbage. 

Fast forward to Thanksgiving this year. The Girl and I made a 'low fat' pumpkin pie, courtesy a recipe from Cooking Light. It was pretty good. So I ate it. As in, the whole thing. Not in one sitting. But definitely in one 24 hour period. She didn't like the look of the first effort - unappetizing crust - so we made another one the next day. And I ate half of that one for dessert, just to maintain my 1 pie per 24-hour interval pace. Low fat, so I'm good, right?

Desafortunadamente, no. As it turns out this is maybe not such a hot idea from a nutritional / digestive / Type II diabetes standpoint. But I'm glad that I went ahead and gave it a try. I'm off pies in general, and pumpkin pies specifically, for a good long while. Restraint: I have it. 

Image has nothing to do with pie. It reminded me of Reese the dog.

* I mean this in the more traditional will-definitely-kill-you-if-she-has-to sense, not the formerly trendy hey-look-at-my-zany-makeup-and-leggings sense. Image courtesy Alligator Sunglasses and ze intertubez.

28 November 2012

It's not really about the injury, it's about not being good at your job

 In re: sport and injuries

There is a school of thought that says you should not lose your position on the field if you lose time due to injury. I bring this up because Alex Smith has recently been replaced by Colin Kaepernick (sp?, and henceforth: CK) after the former went down with a concussion and the latter played well as his replacement.

Here's the thing: Alex Smith didn't lose his starting job because of his injury. He lost his starting job last year after the NFC Championship Game when he bounced one pass after another in the dirt against an eminently beatable Giants team. He couldn't drive the team to a first down or a score and added next to nothing to the pathetically anemic 49er offense. He only got another chance this year because Peyton F*cking Manning decided to sign with Denver. (Manning is one hit away from retirement so that was a bullet dodged.) Smith has been one hit away from the second string ever since CK started to get a handle on Harbaugh's system.

All this foaming at the mouth about what's 'right' or 'fair' misses the point. Harbaugh watched the NFC Championship Game and he knows as well as anyone that Smith won't take them to the promised land. It's possible that CK won't either, but why not give him a try? You already know what Smith is - or, more appropriately, isn't - capable of.

Special Bonus feedback: If you aren't watching NFL games with the sound off then you are missing out. They go more quickly and you can do your own analysis. Try it.

27 November 2012

Cyber Tuesday

Did you buy a bunch of stuff the day after thanksgiving? Please say yes. Somebody has to keep this economy afloat.

Heard a Bon Iver cover of Come Talk to Me and it was only so-so. The original is miles better so here is a famous live version. The video has a strong early-90's feel which kind of takes away from the overall goodness of the track (for me). Open a new tab and browse while it plays. Or scroll.

In my quick research I found out that Gabriel wrote this song because he had a falling out with his daughter and she wouldn't speak to him. Not sure if it's true but supposedly it is. Incidentally, this isn't even my favorite Peter Gabriel song. That would be Solsbury Hill, which long-time and extremely bored readers will remember from a weirdly depressing post I did in 2007. Not sure what was giving me the sads in 2007 but the song is still great.

23 November 2012

Giving thanks

When you wear them with a suit they're called "braces", not suspenders
Bit late, but: Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope yours was good, and that if you felt thankful you are able to stretch that feeling through the rest of this weekend, this next week, and beyond. Something to work towards, anyway.

My own experience was okay. Sweet Baby Princess had a medical setback so it put a damper on things. That is a developing situation so we'll see how it goes. I will post any updates in this space as they become available.

Fun picture to share. That's yours truly on the right, sitting in with the groom (middle) and best man from this past weekends wedding. The best man had to wear a rented tuxedo / shoes / vest / shirt, which is never ideal. I own a tux so I was happy for the chance to class it up a little, though I dressed the tux down with a regular tie. You don't care.

20 November 2012

Weddings and updates

Went to a swanky wedding in San Francisco over the weekend. The view from my hotel room was pretty good, as these things go. That's it on the right. My room was on the corner of Powell and California streets, both of which have cable cars that ring bells as they enter the intersection. The sweet music of cable car bells was cool. At least until Sunday morning, when they worked in concert with my hangover to alert me to the fact that I should probably never drink Maker's Mark again. Ever.

On the update front for Sweet Baby Princess (taking sun in the driveway): She is in still the sweetest baby princess ever. We took her to the vet and they said that she was "the friendliest dog they had ever met", which, of course. I took her for a hike yesterday and she's one of the only dogs you can let run around because she is friendly with people and shy with other dogs.

She was a dinosaur for halloween. Puppy loves halloween because so many happy kids come to the door. She wants to greet everyone with love but sometimes she knocks the toddlers over so it was my job to make sure that doesn't happen. I did really well. Except for that one kid. Oh well. He got an extra candy bar. And he should know better than to try and wrestle a dinosaur.

15 November 2012

Not impossible, but highly improbable

Some things are amazing because in order to do them you must first imagine that they can be done.
The act itself stands in sublime testament to both glorious imagination and absurd execution. 

This is one of those things.

A good story well told

I got a kick out of this profile of Marv Albert on Grantland.

It's lengthy but excellent.

13 November 2012

Watch and be amazed

I know that a few of the readers enjoy their dance. For you this movie is probably old news.

The Girl and I watched the documentary First Position recently and we enjoyed it very much (stream it on Netflix). Good subject matter, compelling characters, and brilliant dancing. How to they become so beautiful? It's no secret: by putting themselves through hours of difficult practice, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. It takes a toll on your body (and your wallet).

07 November 2012

05 November 2012

No holds barred, old-school style

Is that legal?
This image has been languishing on my desktop for ages. I may have even posted it already, though I doubt it. Took this picture in Florence last year.* It's a marble sculpture of Heracles wrestling Antaeus by Vincenzo de Rossi. Hercules took the eye gouge out of play with the inverted hold but he left himself open to attack in the groin area. Another picture here.

The sculpture is actually really impressive in person, as most sculptures tend to be.  In Florence it doesn't get much notice, since there are literally more amazing marble sculptures than you could ever keep track of, never mind see and appreciate.

* Actually made The Girl take it on her blackberry because I didn't have my camera.

04 November 2012

Guns go bang

Spent a day at the range on Saturday taking a beginner handgun shooting course. I am not a beginner but I still take beginner classes, time and resources permitting. (If you can't learn something from any class then the problem usually isn't the instructor, the problem is you.) One interesting thing about the basic classes is that you get to interact with people that are new to guns, maybe even handling a gun and shooting for the first time.

Some people, such as a woman that was in a class I attended earlier this year, do very well. She had never handled or fired a gun before the class and by the end of day two she was competent and comfortable. It usually doesn't unfold that way. I think she had the advantage of being mechanically inclined and extremely proficient with tools (she was a trade electrician), but that in itself isn't necessarily a good predictor of success, though it doesn't hurt.

This past weekend the guy next to me on the firing line couldn't keep it on the paper from 3 yards during aimed fire practice. The paper is 3 FEET wide by 4 FEET tall. In other words he couldn't reliably hit a target 3 yards away when he was taking his time and being careful where he was aiming. He was the worst shooter I have ever seen, and I've seen a few (see first paragraph). The problem was both his trigger flinch, which was awful because he was terrified of the noise and recoil, and the Glock 27 (subcompact .40 cal semi-auto) he was shooting.

Mission dictates loadout. If your mission requires that you carry a concealed weapon, the Glock 27 is an option. If your mission requires that you learn how to shoot a handgun, you should look elsewhere. But where? Good question.

The easiest handgun to shoot is the smallest caliber in the largest frame single-action semi-automatic that fits comfortably in your hand. I recommend a Browning Buckmark or, even better, Ruger Mark II.
Let's break this down further:
  • Why smallest caliber? Because it's easier to become comfortable with a gun when you keep recoil, noise and muzzle blast to a minimum. 
  •  Why largest frame? Larger-frame guns reduce felt recoil and give you more to hold onto (more on this shortly). Also, larger guns have longer barrels and are more accurate because they have a better sight radius.
  • Why single-action semiauto? Light trigger pull makes it easier to keep on target. Semi-auto pistols do present some challenges in re: gun handling that may be confusing or tricky for new shooters but they are outweighed by the advantages of the SA trigger. The biggest challenge is probably slide manipulation, but small-caliber, medium-frame semi-autos are as easy to manage as these things can be. Also it's a good test to see if the user is capable of safely operating the weapon. Can't rack the slide? You need some dry-fire practice.
  • Why fits in your hand? Too large or too small and you won't be able to keep a grip on the weapon when you fire it. 
  • Why not a revolver? Because revolvers typically have VERY heavy trigger pulls, up to 3 or 4x as much as a semiauto pistol (for reference: Glocks are 5 lbs, Smith & Wesson revolvers vary but are usually 10 lbs or more, and the Ruger Mark II is 3-5 lbs). They are a bitch to learn to shoot accurately.
So whither the poor sap with his wayward fire and his shiny new Glock 27? Well, as you may have noticed, it's a poor gun for a new or inexperienced shooter, mainly because the cartridge is too large and the frame too small. It's a backup gun. You can do a class with it but it will beat you up. It's hard to overcome your fear of the gun going off when it keeps kicking you in the hand every time you flail away at the bang switch. Hopefully he will get a gun that fits the above criteria.

As for the Glock 27 in general: I don't know why anyone buys this gun except that they want to be different from the 9mm crowd. I feel this way about all .40 cal guns. This cartridge doesn't do anything remarkably better than the 9mm or the .45 ACP.  Sure you can split hairs about how it's got superior velocity or muzzle energy but there is no significant advantage when it comes down to practical application, either in the lab or anecdotally. (Look it up.) It only exists because the FBI didn't want to look like a bunch of assholes after their agents got in a gunfight in 1986 and didn't have easy-to-reload semi-auto 9mm or .45 cal pistols. Of course they had to invent a new round, because if they didn't then people would ask why they weren't carrying one of the existing guns in that caliber.

02 November 2012

No word

No update from the vet on what's going on with the sweetest dog in the world, but she got her bandages off and her stitches out. (This picture is a week old - she got the bandages off this week.) 

The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.

I love beets. Not quite as much as Rasputin, maybe, but quite a lot. They're a cranky, beautiful vegetable, difficult to prepare without making a mess. The beet asks a lot of you, but it gives in return.

Thus, this from Tom Robbins:

The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. 

Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious. 

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets. The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip... 

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies. 

The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.