30 June 2016

The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market, Manhattan, NYC

The Lobster Place (Interior, Partial)
There is a place in Chelsea Market where you can get a delicious lobster roll, and also lobster bisque, and also sushi, and also boiled lobster, and a great many other things. It is called The Lobster Place. I took a picture. Here it is.

28 June 2016

Meditations on Violence by Rory Miller

This is a fascinating, insightful book. Miller writes with clarity about the nature of human violence in modern Western society and punctures the myth of the dojo and practiced martial arts training. It's an interesting topic in part because I (and probably you) live in a society where people prefer to ignore violence, pretend that it exists at a remove, and move blithely through the world as though it can't happen to you. Ignorance is bliss. 

You don't need to live in fear or paranoia, but a greater understanding of violent human nature is probably a good idea, not least so that you can recognize a real danger when it presents itself.

The book does not attempt to share techniques for training or exercises. Instead it does what it says on the tin (meditations): philosophical topics rooted in real-world experience. 

Highly recommended. 

Punctuation is Important

From Friend Scott, via the internet:

Dear people who type in all lower case,
We are the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.
Upper Case Letters

27 June 2016

I Went There: Phoenix

10:00 PM in Phoenix is Lovely This Time of Year
(One in an occasional series.)

Phoenix is awful. Phoenix is what would happen if someone decided to build a huge shopping mall in Hell. 

The only nice thing I can say about it is that there is a weirdly disproportionate number of attractive women there. Why is that? No idea. Must be some kind of social pressure, like in some Southern cities. It is weird. They must enjoy being sweaty, because living in Phoenix is like living in the business end of a blowtorch.

26 June 2016

I Went There: Manhattan

Room with a View Means I Take a Lame Photo
It's been a couple weeks since the last post because I was in  New York / San Francisco / Phoenix for work. Lots of airports and hotels and uber rides and conference rooms but along the way I was able to have some good experiences. They put me in a hotel room with a view of a tall pointy building. So that was fun. Ate some really good Korean food in Koreatown in Manhattan, which was also fun.

In between attending a conference for work and meeting with customers in Manhattan I was able to visit some amazing food places. I could eat at Gotham Market every day and never get tired of it. I would also weigh 800 lbs in about three weeks. Everything looked amazing. Same with the Chelsea Market. Went to both those places on the same day, because you work up an appetite walking around the upper west side.

Also visited lavains (purveyors of the finest store-bought cookie that I have ever had, and possibly the best cookie available at any price), and also Balthazar (purveyors of a great many delicious items, but I was there for the coconut cake). You can skip the hassle of trying to get a table at Balthazar and just go to the bakery and get a slice of that cake. It is the shit. Technically it is the same as the Minetta Tavern Coconut Cake, so you can review the recipe here if you want to try and make it at home. If you want some help let me know - my kitchen isn't big enough for that project, although I may try and build it this winter just to see if it can be done.

Yeah there are other things in Manhattan besides food but the American Museum of Natural History is well documented (underrated). So is Central Park in the summer (overrated). Plus the Hayden Sphere was under construction so I couldn't visit the exhibit. So that sucked. Still a great trip overall. Manhattan is a superb visit but it wears me out.

12 June 2016

Good Books are Good: America's War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew Bacevich

America is at the Mall
As per usual, not much to report. Work and the gym, and sometimes I go places (and go to the gym, or yoga). In the next two weeks I have to go to New York City, San Francisco, and Salt Lake City. It would be great if it weren't exhausting. Middle aged white guy problems for real. 

In between trips to exotic locales I finished America's War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew Bacevich. It was very good. The book examines the United States continuous (and continuing) failure to demonstrate any kind of success in its' ongoing war in the Greater Middle East. 

Bacevich adroitly points out that the rise of military commitment in the Greater Middle East started up in earnest just as the cold war was winding down. What a happy coincidence this turned out to be for the US military industrial complex! (Was it actually a coincidence? No!) He also points out that, unlike the war in Vietnam, everyday life in America changed not at all: there were no sacrifices, no draft, no request from the government to maybe cut back a little on the conspicuous consumption. Quite the contrary: the public has been asked to proceed as if we are not at war. Why should we do otherwise?

This lack of investment or involvement encourages apathy on the part of the American voter, and it enables the various participatory entities to piss away trillions of dollars on military operations across the globe to no appreciable effect. It's quite a little racket the senior level military commanders, politicians, and defense contractors have set up for themselves. All this while the rank and file soldiers get put in the meat grinder.

If you are at all interested in a tidy summary of the epic catalog of failures that is US foreign policy and military action in the Greater Middle East then you will be fascinated. Highly recommended. 

06 June 2016

There is No Such Thing as Free Will

I wrote about this already when I covered the book Free Will by Sam Harris, but there is an article available in the Atlantic that covers the same topic, and examines the implications. Enjoy.

05 June 2016

Let's Do This: Pastry Class - Verrines

What is a verrine? I had no idea before I looked it up on the Googletubez. All I knew was that I had limited interest in a class on macarons because those are pretentious, trendy cookies. It's great that macarons are So Hot Right Now but enh, whatever. So I signed up to take a class on verrines, which was a very good choice because a) verrines are goddamn delicious, and b) verrines are usually comprised of dessert components that I think are goddamn delicious. Synergy, for your face.

Fun facts about verrines: it can be anything you want as the dessert type is actually the way it is served (in a small glass or cup thing) - the only limit is your imagination. So that's fun. Another fun fact is that the form factor (served in a cup/glass/small container) gives you the chance to use ingredients and textures that would be impossible in a cake or other pastry, because the container will hold everything together. How great is that? Pretty great.

So what did we make? Oh man we made some delicious items. First type of verrine had a seared banana custard layer, a chocolate sponge layer, a mango/passionfruit jello layer, vanilla and rum whipped cream layer, and a crumble top. It was good.

The other type was a vanilla custard layer, a vanilla sponge layer, a strawberry puree jello layer, a pistachio whipped cream layer (!!), and a bit of chocolate covered rice krispies on top. It was also good.

I've got big plans to make some verrines at the crib. Mine are going to be in a larger glass though. Not too big, but larger than those tiny shotglass sized treats we made at the swank pastry shop/school. Serving dessert in minuscule portions is a sadness. Let us not perpetuate this sadness in the world.

Speaking of perpetuating sadness, the pastry class draws all kinds of people. No men besides me and the instructor, which is typical. The range of kitchen experience on display among the students was... broad. I can tell at a glance if someone has spent any time in the kitchen by whether or not they put their hair back when they come to class. Put another way: if you put an apron on and don't pull your hair back and out of your way at the same time then you have no idea what the fuck you are doing in the kitchen. That said, there were 8 people in the class and three of them didn't know that if you don't get your hair under control it will turn up in the food. One of the students didn't even know how to make whipped cream. A reasonable person might imagine this impossible, as the entire recipe is in the name of the dish. But here we are. We got through it anyway. (I made the whipped cream.)

Very much looking forward to taking more classes. Even if it's macarons.