Mira has a ballet recital coming up in June, and earlier this month the dancers had formal portraits taken in costume. We don’t have the official photos yet, but I took quite a few at home and at the rose garden outside the studio. She’s good at posing :)
The recital theme is “Heroes” and her class is doing Red Cross. Can you guess?
See all the photos and videos here.
I've been in a real reading jag lately (not that unusual for me; I find a new author then I usually get intense about inhaling all of their books as soon as possible). I also joined Goodreads.com about a year or so ago, and for the first time in my life I've been tracking the books I've read on that site. So looking at that list at GoodReads.com I discover I've already read 60 books in 2013! LOL
Here I thought I read about 2 per week, but in fact it is more than that. Of course most of these are light weight books, most of them are a fast read.
You'll notice (if you look at that link of the books I've read) that I give very high ratings; I give 5 stars to books that are clearly never going to be classics, that no one would confuse with great literature, and that will never add anything to or change my life. That is because I don't demand all that from my reading (I get that from my meditation and Vedic recitation). I am (obviously) not searching for great/brilliant/literary books to read. I'm looking for entertainment.
It is true that I could be a harsher judge on writing quality, clearly Colin Cotterill's and John Burdill's mysteries are far more beautifully written (with more spiritual depth, and real information about other cultures) than anything Nora Roberts will ever write.... But I'm judging on over all enjoyment (sue me):
( my rating system (more or less)Collapse )
You will also notice (if you look at that link) that I've been reading mostly mysteries, some sci-fi/fantasy, and little else. I do stick to genres I enjoy. Favorites by authors in my genre:
( some favorite books in no particular orderCollapse )
Of course I could name a lot more: Ellis Peters (Cadfael Mysteries), Tony Hillerman (Jim Chee & Leaphorn mysteries), Dick Francis, Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe Mysteries), and many more.
Of course I've also recently read all of George R.R. Martin's 'Song of Ice and Fire', and I will always love J.R.R. Tolkein's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, as well as C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles. I've read other fantasy and Sci-Fi, but mostly I'm into mysteries.
I’m guessing that when technology permits us to design and produce our own clothes as easily as we do our websites, we’ll go beyond jeans and start making our outfits a little more distinctive. These one-at-at-time items will be supremely personalized, unique. And a return to the way wardrobes of past were once also made one-at-a-time into distinctly personal items. When that moment comes, you might want to lose yourself in this massive 600-page archive, which catalogs the full diversity of costumes from around the world. Over 1,000 glorious illustrations, in astounding ethnographic variety. Tribal, royalty, folk. Outerwear, footwear, headgear, armor. It is the best one-volume summary of Fashion on Earth I’ve seen. (It’s expensive, so check it out at your library.)
The Worldwide History of Dress
Patricia Rieff Anawalt
2007, 608 pages
Available from Amazon
A circumcision waistcoat possible from the Hebron Hills during the British Mandate period, or earlier. The groundcloth is Atlas satin, a luxury fabric woven with a silk wrap and a cotton weft. The front of the waistcoat is thickly cover with a variety of coins, the better to express the high social value of the boy wearing it. Length 11 7/8 in. (30cm).
The 19th-century tall hats and enveloping cloaks of certain of the Welsh peasantry were markedly behind the times. These garments bear a decided resemblance to the popular image of a witch precisely because they were the characteristic wear of the time of witchcraft persecutions of the 1630s.
Above her richly patterned sleeveless coat, worn over an ornate red silk dress with high shoulder pads, a stand-up collar and blue turned-up cuffs–an outstanding example of the festive dress of the 19th-century Mongolian nobility–this Chalka tribeswoman models the “sheephorn headdress.”
Front and back views of a Micronesian warrior suit made of knotted coconut-palm fiber. the accompany thing upper-body armor is sturdily construction of plaited bast fiber. Length 32 1/2 in. (82.5cm), width 15 in. (38cm).
A walrus-gut kamleika made by the Yup’ik people of St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, in the mid- to late 19th century. It is adorned with eats and small feathers of the crested auklet. Length 43 in. (109.2 cm), width 54 in. (137 cm).
This 1950s Conibo man is clad is a cushma, a long, wide, poncho-like cotton tunic that has been worn in the area since perhispanic times. The brown to black dye used in decorating these garments is obtained by boiling mahogany bark.
Barricade Fire Gel is a foam that you spray on your house before a wildfire. It stays wet for 48 hours and keeps burning embers from igniting the house. It easily washes off and, unlike most compressed air foam (CAF) systems, is EPA certified as nontoxic.
I tested it on cardboard held over a gas stove flame, and it didn’t ignite in 10 minutes. Also, I applied it to the outside of my home, over a very dry Labor Day weekend, and it stayed put and wet for 48h. (A bear licked some of it off, so it doesn’t taste like petrochemicals.) As the pictures from the vendor’s site show, Fire Gel comes in 1 gallon containers, and you attach a garden hose and an eductor-jet pump to it. What this means is that a small person can lift it and apply it. In other CAF systems, there’s a huge amount of heavy equipment that depends on different power supplies, and it’s heavy and complex. The foam is relatively cheap on those systems — the applicator is expensive. Barricade took a different tack, and put expensive engineering into the foam, which is very effective and tastes good to bears.
Here in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado, Barricade Fire Gel is one part of my fire plan. This is only one part of a fire plan, and I’d urge anyone who buys FireGel to go to a workshop with your local fire department to maximize your chance of coming out unscathed. Another motivation to become more involved in fire protection is that in recent fires here, folks found out that they were woefully underinsured, and can’t rebuild their old house. Less than 10% were adequately insured to rebuild in the mountains, and we’re talking an educated affluent population.
-- Robert Hastings
Barricade II Home Fire Defense System
For $326, you get a kit that will cover a typical house.
I am remodeling a kitchen and we had a friend come and install marmoleum floors and countertops. I always enjoy working with different contractors because everyone has their own systems. Brett was quite meticulous, which comes with his vast experience. I was impressed by his carpet stair tool, which I had never seen before. It looks like a big masonry chisel, but he used it to level seams between plywood subflooring edges.
Once two sheets have been nailed down next to one another Brett ran the edge of the tool along the seam — it runs smoothly where the sheets are in the same plane and hits a bump on one side or the other if the sheets are out of plane. He then took a hammer, hit down the side that was high, and ran the tool over the seam again to check. The he filled the seam with a fast-drying mortar to ensure the seam was strong and stayed in plane.
The carpet stair tool also has a mushroomed head for striking with a hammer. But you can also use it to drive down nails that are hard to access because they are under cabinetry toe kicks — just put the mushroomed head against the nail and hit the blade of the tool with a hammer.
3-1/2-Inch Carpet Stair Tool
Available from Amazon
I have owned a Skagen watch for almost a decade. I grew up on bulky cheap utilitarian watches (which I still own & use while doing work around the house or while camping) and always thought that most fancy watches were boring, heavy and identical. Until I picked up a Skagen.
Skagen watches are sleek, durable and completely different from anything else on the market. The case of my watch is less than 8mm thick. It doesn’t even feel like I’m wearing a watch. They come in various colors, metals & different dial designs. The titanium band coupled with the thinness of their watches is what really sets them apart.
The titanium band takes a little getting used to. It doesn’t flex or grab your arm hair like your grandfather’s watch. Instead you set the length for the clasp by sliding the catch mechanism and locking it in place via a slick hidden lock under the latch. Once you get the length set, you’ll never have to readjust a thing.
Occasionally when I forget to grab my cheap watch, I have snagged and torn the titanium band apart (like separating links of chain mail). For $30 Skagen has sent me a new band pretty quickly. Once, I dropped my watch on it’s face and destroyed the glass. Again for a $30 repair fee, instead of replacing the glass, they sent me a brand new watch. When they say lifetime warranty, they back it up.
If you’re looking for a slick thin timepiece, check out Skagen. You’ll receive more compliments & questions about where to buy one than you can shake your old Casio at.
-- Daniel Smyth
Skagen Titanium Blue Dial Watch
Available from Amazon
Manufactured by Skagen
Over the years, I have tried many different ways to make coffee, from cowboy percolators to French press carafes to Chemex drippers. As I’ve moved through the years, however, the reduced acids of espresso have attracted me, and I happily settled on espresso for my java.
If you have tried conventional espresso machines, you are familiar with the grinding, the hissing, and the pumping that accompanies every cup. With the advent of the ROK espresso maker, all that goes away. With this truly portable device, now that perfect shot of espresso can be had wherever there is hot water — at the office, at your campsite, or just in the peace and quiet of your own kitchen!
Every morning, I use a Porlex hand grinder to reduce my beans of choice to fine fragments while my water comes to a boil. As the cylinder preheats, I am entranced by the curl of steam rising past the connection arms. Slowly raising the arms allows the water to drift past the plunger, and I gently press to heat the portafilter and my cup. Although it wasn’t designed for the task, the bottom of the Porlex works very well to tamp the grounds into the portafilter, and I’m ready for my espresso. Refilling the cylinder and raising the arms once again, I quietly and firmly press a perfect double shot of espresso!
On those days when milk is desired, the ROK comes with a hand-pumped milk frother. Although you can get your beverage hotter by frothing warm milk, you’ll find the foam is denser if you froth cold milk before heating it in the microwave.
Cleaning the ROK takes very little effort. For the most part, a quick rinse is all that’s necessary. Though some users will let it drip-dry, the ROK should be toweled unless you don’t mind water spots.
There are many alternatives on the market, and a devoted aficionado could easily spend $3000 for a high quality machine. Although they will all give you an excellent cup of espresso, they share two shortcomings: They all must be plugged in, and they all make noise.
With the ROK, the whole brewing process, start to finish, takes less than 10 minutes. Ten quiet, meditative minutes before I launch into the day!
Disclosure: I have happily owned and used the Presso, the earlier version of the ROK, for more than a year.
-- Conan Cocallas
[Here's a 90-second video introduction to the ROK espresso maker. -- Mark Frauenfelder]
ROK Espresso Maker
Manufactured by ROK
( Here's what it was like.Collapse )
Now I'm wearing my c. 1994 One Fish Two Fish t-shirt, appropriately enough, and a blue cotton skirt, and cheerfully guzzling some chilled Provençal rosé, and wishing some of you were here to have some, or to have whatever-all else -- the fridge is well stocked for a change -- or really just to hang out in the shade of the courtyard and talk.
Wood is one of the most versatile materials known. You can coax it into uncountable forms. However It exhibits extremely complex behavior, as if it were still living. This tome dives deep into woodology, and returns with great insight into what wood wants. It is essential understanding for anyone wishing to master working with wood.
2000, 280 pages
Available from Amazon
A knot is the basal portion of a branch whose structure becomes surrounded by the enlarging stem. Since branches begin with lateral buds, knots can always be traced back to the pith of the main stem.
Various shapes of red pine have been dried and superimposed on their original positions on an adjacent log section. The great tangential than radical shrinkage causes squares to become diamond-shaped, cylinders to become oval. Quarter-sawn boards seldom warp, but flat sawn boards cup away from the pith.
A wafer cut from a kiln-dried plank of white ash shows no symptoms of stress (left). Another section from the same plank, after resawing (center) reveals the casehardened condition (tension in core, compression in shell). Kiln operators cut fork-shaped sections that reveal casehardening when prongs curve inward (right).
Most of the boards in the drying shed at left are restrained by the weight of the others. At right is a similar, simpler setup, where the wood is protected by a sheet of corrugated plastic. In both cases, the boards are stacked in the sequence they came off the saw.
Red oak end grain cut with a ripsaw (right), which mangles the cell structure, and with a crosscut saw (left), which severs the fibers cleanly.
I've posted yet more walk photos. This time, from just under two weeks ago, it's 12 miles of intrepid exploration around the unspoilt wilderness landscape of... Hemel Hempstead.
Pictures and text
Featuring pirates, upside-down boats, and flammable quarantine.
The Jimi Wallet is a minimalist hard-shell plastic case design. It’s the perfect antidote to the “Costanza Wallet” syndrome my dad had, because it forces you to discard all but what you really need.
The Jimi has room for exactly three pieces of plastic, a security access card, and a money clip that holds 5-6 bills. That’s it.
The Jimi pops open with a bit of pressure applied to a few dimples. You can do it easily with one hand without looking.
I have owned several Jimis over the last decade. The build quality is excellent. Realistically, I find that I get three years of daily use out of one before the plastic joint starts to fray. I am okay with this, because it gives me the opportunity to get a new color.
I’ve got nothing against slim leather or cloth wallets, but the Jimi is what works for me. It was the wallet equivalent of coming in from the cold. I can say with no exaggeration that I get a minimum of one compliment a week on it when I pull it out in stores or restaurants. People see it an intuitively get that it’s an evolution.
-- Pete Forde
Available from Amazon
Manufactured by Jimi
well lj lost my last post, but it was about Marvel's Agents of SHIELD being picked up, which is old news now so there is no point in re-posting it.
I saw Star Trek Into Darkness today, and I really loved it. My friend ishtar79 described it as 'meh', so my expectations were low (that might have improved it? because I wasn't expecting much?), but regardless I found it to be exciting, tightly plotted, and lots of funny dialogue. It was very entertaining... but I skipped the 3-D, I've been making it a point to skip the 3-D these days. Unless I think the movie will be another Hugo or Life of Pi, then there is no reason to bother with the 3-D.
Yesterday I was watching stuff off my DVR and I finally saw Rachel, Rachel (starring Joanne Woodward, produced & directed by Paul Newman), I had never seen it before and it was so brilliant. Really something special.
Cool Tools is giving away a copy of the book, Getting Started with Arduino* to one person who signs up for the Cool Tools Newsletter betwe</em>en now and Thursday, May 23 at 10pm PT. (Current newsletter subscribers are automatically included in the running.)
From the publisher’s description:
Arduino is the open-source electronics prototyping platform that’s taken the design and hobbyist world by storm. This thorough introduction, updated for Arduino 1.0, gives you lots of ideas for projects and helps you work with them right away. From getting organized to putting the final touches on your prototype, all the information you need is here!
Inside, you’ll learn about:
Interaction design and physical computing
The Arduino hardware and software development environment
Basics of electricity and electronics
Prototyping on a solderless breadboard
Drawing a schematic diagram
Getting started with Arduino is a snap. To use the introductory examples in this guide, all you need an Arduino Uno or earlier model, along with USB A-B cable and an LED. The easy-to-use Arduino development environment is free to download.
Join hundreds of thousands of hobbyists who have discovered this incredible (and educational) platform. Written by the co-founder of the Arduino project, Getting Started with Arduino gets you in on all the fun!
We’ll pick one newsletter subscriber at random to receive the giveaway. We hold giveaways every Friday, so if you aren’t selected this time, try again next week.
(* I am an editor at Make, a magazine that is owned by the company that published Getting Started with Arduino).
-- Mark Frauenfelder
Getting Started with Arduino, by Massimo Banzi
Available from Amazon
OXO has a serious presence in my kitchen, but the one- and two-cup adjustable measuring cups I added four months ago might be the last items I would sell. They are darned near perfect.
I’ve used other plunger-and-sleeve style adjustable measuring cups, and they were great for measuring odd quantities or volumes without using several different-sized cups (or one size several times), but sticky or oily stuff got in between the plunger and the sleeve, making reuse impossible without stopping to disassemble and clean the cup.
OXO has taken a page from the AeroPress coffee maker and solved this problem by using a similar gasket on the end of the plunger that seals against the sleeve and pushes the measured item out. The plunger rides in helical grooves in the sleeve, so one twists to adjust the measurement or eject the measured item. This makes additive measurements of a second item easy and allows more controlled ejection, too.
The grooves stop short of the extent that would allow you to pull the plunger from the bottom of the sleeve, ensuring that the gasket wipes the sleeve. End result: the only part you usually wash is the gasket itself.
The sleeve is marked in multiple units, with one set for liquid measure and one set for dry; the latter assumes some empty space at the top, great for coarse items, lightweight flours — and shaky hands.
These fulfill OXO’s stated mission of not just reproducing tools, but finding ways of improving the functionality by a noticeable amount.
-- Pierce Presley
OXO Good Grips 2-Cup Adjustable Measuring Cup
Available from Amazon
We've just brought User Cluster #9 back online, and the errors being caused by the maintenance should stop occurring. Notifications are sending again, but may be delayed as there is a backlog of notifications waiting to be sent. If you are still encountering any errors, please open a Support request so we can investigate the issue.
We are still in the process of bringing User Cluster #9 back online, and it is unfortunately taking longer than we anticipated. We are making progress, but are still several hours away from this being fixed. To address a few common questions we are seeing:
How many user clusters are there?
There are 13 user clusters in total.
How can I find out what user cluster my account is on?
You can see which user cluster you are on at http://www.livejournal.com/misc/wheream
I am not on cluster 9, but still can't post or edit entries. What's happening?
Trying to update or edit posts may still fail even if you are not on user cluster #9. An Error 500 will appear when loading the update/edit journal page if you have posting access to a community which is located on this cluster. The update module at http://www.livejournal.com/portal/
I'm not getting notifications. Is this related?
Subscription notifications are not currently being sent as a result of this maintenance. You may still receive other types of emails, such as pingbacks and password notification emails, but will not receive notifications of new entries or comments being posted.
What other things aren't working right now?
Twitter digest posts are not currently being imported as a result of this maintenance. Some other pages & features may display errors if they need to access information located on user cluster #9. The inbox and community management pages are both known to be showing errors for people affected by this.
We will post again either when user cluster #9 is back online, or if we have any additional information to post. Thanks again for your patience while we work to fully restore service to the site.
We successfully finished maintenance on cluster #7. All accounts’ owners from this cluster can now log into their journals.
We are working on restoring the user cluster #9, it will take approximately an hour. We will keep you informed. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.
Once you get hooked on foraging for wild mushrooms, you begin to wonder why you can’t just farm them. Picking mushrooms from your backyard or basement would sure be a lot easier than roaming the hinterlands. Well, so far about 30 different kinds mushrooms can be cultivated, although none of the techniques are trivial. The delicate operations needed to produce sterile “soil” and inoculate the spores has been streamlined for some species (by using pre-inoculated plugs), but there is still a lot of skill and laboratory expertise needed to grow the rest. Most of what is known about mushroom cultivation has been distilled into the 3rd edition of this irreplaceable book. This is simply the best guide to growing edible, medicinal, and psychoactive mushrooms.
This is a fast-changing field where enthusiastic amateurs lead the way. To keep up with new possibilities, check the authors website at Fungi Perfect. Farming mushrooms is also becoming a business, and the Mushroom Growers’ Newsletter is the hub.
Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms
2000, 614 pages
Available from Amazon
In one of my outdoor wood-chip beds, I created a “polyculture” mushroom patch about 50 by 100 feet in size. In the spring I acquired mixed wood chips from the county utility company–mostly alder and Douglas fir–and inoculated three species into it. One year after inoculation, in late April through May, Morels showed. From June to early September, Kind Stropharia erupted with force, providing our family with several hundred pounds. In late September through much of November, as assortment of Clustered Woodlovers (Hypholoma-like) species popped up. With noncoincident fruiting cycles, this Zen-like polyculture approach is limited only by your imagination.
I'm still using flannel sheets. I'd been feeling silly about not having switched, but right now I'm glad I didn't. It's chilly tonight.
What we're currently doing at work is so hard it's downright exhilarating. No complaints about the novelty index. It's up in the red zone.
We also have a couple of visitors from a large network carrier in another country conducting their due-diligence tour before signing a contract. The two of them look like differently attenuated versions of jrbl. They wear matching clothes: charcoal or black trousers, white shirts. I keep expecting them to break out into some kind of choreography.
The laundry's nearly done. Looking forward to changing into something warm from the dryer.
To followup on the previous post, the same symptoms for user cluster #7 are also present for users on cluster #9, so we're in the process of fixing it as well. Having 2 clusters to work on rather than 1 unfortunately means that we expect it to take approximately 6-8 hours for everything to be resolved. We do, however, know how the problems with each cluster started and it is not something which will cause any additional clusters to have these issues. We'll post here again either when the issue has been resolved, or if we have any significant developments to update you on.
We're doing some emergency maintenance on one of our databases (user cluster #7, there are 13 user clusters in total. You can see which user cluster your account is on here). The estimated duration of this maintenance is 4-5 hours.
If your account is located on user cluster #7, you will not be able to login to your account until this maintenance has been completed. If you are already logged-in, you will be unable to post, edit, or delete any material on LiveJournal until the maintenance is completed.
If your account is not on this cluster, LiveJournal will still be up, you will be able to login. You may be able to post, edit, and delete content, but if any communities you have posting access to are on cluster #7, you will see an Error 500 when attempting to load the update/edit journal page, or viewing your inbox if any messages have been received from a user on cluster #7. Other pages may also be similarly affected if they attempt to load usernames or data from this cluster. You may also encounter problems viewing journals, entries, comments, or private messages from accounts which are on this cluster.
We're working as quickly as possible to get everything back up & running, and appreciate your patience during this maintenance.
After years of carrying around a repair kit of bits and pieces for my biking excursions I decided to upgrade and replace almost all my bike gear. I came across this patch kit in a shop in London. Its a small aluminium sleeve containing adhesive patches, a tire boot (for those occasions when you need to patch the tire as well as the tube) and a scuffer to rough up the area of the tube before applying the patch.
The package also includes two strong nylon tire levers, which double as end caps for either side of the sleeve, neatly ensuring that everything stays together in your pocket or bag. This little kit, together with a spare tube and mini pump, is all I need to carry out when I go for a ride. The sleeve comes in various color options and I have a seen a few different shops sell them custom branded with their logos on.
-- Jeremy Gould
Lezyne Lever Kit
Available from Amazon
Manufactured by Lezyne
You Gave Everything you Possibly Could you gave me all the hints and clues every chance to run you showed me all your quirks honest to the marrow i told you all my stories all my sad and all my pain i gave you all the hints and clues every chance to run and here we are in wedded bliss two days past the vows you gave everything you possibly could to show how much you love i gave everything i possibly could to show how much i love and now we walk forward into life hand in hand and with our son creating every chance to love honest to the marrow honest to the marrow
Earlier this year I purchased a Parker Jotter stainless steel pen based purely on its cool factor as being the pen that James Bond used in the 1995 film Goldeneye, as I had seen on the Bond Lifestyle web page. I searched for it online and ended up purchasing one from my local office and art supply store. I appreciated its sleek design and modest price coupled with the cool factor instantly… but the more I used the pen during my work days the more I came to appreciate it, for you see this pen ultimately changed my life.
As a teacher I am called upon to sign documents on a near daily basis — sign this attendance report, sign this behavior report, write a tardy slip, sign this check out form, etc. It seems never ending. I found myself constantly fumbling for a pen, having to borrow pens that had bits of tape on them or had been turned into paper-mache flowers to make sure they didn’t “walk away” in someones pocket. It was humiliating, but what is one to do when operating on a modest teacher’s salary? Plastic pens were pedestrian and forgettable, clicking gel pens with oversized rubbery cushioned grips were tedious when removing or inserting into the standard pen-socket that my button up shirts provided. Only the Parker Jotter was suitable for my needs! Its slippery profile glides into my shirt pocket, the light weight barely noticeable. It is easily retrieved and the polished components in the pen cap provide the authoritarian click that I need to sign these endless cascades of documents with prudence. Its smooth writing allows my own graceful chicken scratch to be properly rendered, with little hand cramping during extended grading sessions. At a modest price of between $10 to $15 for the stainless steel model, this classic writing implement should be owned by all. When I rise at the ungodly hour required and begin my daily rituals of preparing for my work life, I experience a sense of satisfaction when I pick up my Jotter and realize there is one more thing to look forward to.
Compared to similarly priced models the Parker Jotter provides value. I have a Zebra F-301 that I carry as a backup and find the design to be over wrought, with a useless and slippery plastic grip. It feels like I am scratching the paper compared to the Jotter. Anyone that appreciates the classic slip stream design of the 60s will fall in love with the Jotter, just as I have.
-- Seth Wilson
Parker Stainless Steel Jotter Pen
Available from Amazon
2g of penicillin first thing, then breakfast for C. and off to the appointment at 7:30. Fetching skyblue mobcap, matching blanket. Dr Lakha's headlamp, forearms, scratchy elbows; he and Irina riffing on numbers: 3.7, 20, 40. Over in a jiffy; bumpity bump along Middlefield to work all lopsided. Staring ineffectually at monitor. No sensation of airflow through left nostril; first inklings of a thaw around 4 pm, toward the end of a meeting, but no pain to speak of. Ravenous but not for anything squishy. Back at home, suddenly very, very sleepy.
Anyone wanna team with me for this first assignment/challenge?
I'm leaving for my honeymoon, ummm... tomorrow. So I need to write mine tonight. I'm thinking a poem about love and wedded bliss. cliche topic, but i'm thinking i can uncliche it and/or touch a few heartstrings with the "You Gave Everything you Possibly Could" topic.
I use well-seasoned cast iron and carbon steel pans for the better part of my cooking. To clean them, I’ve used the same bamboo wok brush than I bought at a corner market in Sacramento in 1990. I’ve been thinking of buying a new one, just so I can phase it in over a few years while I slowly retire the original. It only takes a few swishes around the inside of the pan with hot water (no soap!) and a rinse to clean a pan. In the time I’ve been using it on my iron and steel pans, including the wok I use occasionally, I’ve gone through countless sponges, scotch-brite pads, and those looped-plastic scrubbies that I use on stock pots etc., all of which get pretty hinky once put into use and have to be run through the dishwasher to get free of food particles. It also looks dignified and fine sitting on the countertop by the sink, has just gotten more seasoned, and never needs more than a rinse to get clean. The edges of the cane bristles are pretty blunted by now and a new one might work better for attacking the occasional nuclear cooking mess. On the other hand, it’s gentle enough on the built-up seasoning in my pans that they keep getting non-stickier and shed scorched cheese like schmutz on teflon.
The brush I bought way back when has flat bristles, about 11 inches long by 3/16 wide, and stouter than most of the wok brushes I’ve seen recently in Asian groceries. I can’t imagine that there’s been much innovation in wok brush technology in the last 3000 years, but quality is probably inconsistent on an item like this, even from the same seller. Unless you have access to Asian markets and can shop around while you’re out making your weekly durian run, Amazon has a variety to choose from, all about $7.50 with shipping. The Wok Shop seems to be reputable, but it might be prudent to order a few just in case yours only lasts as long as a good hamster.
-- Brian Garber-Yonts
Bamboo Wok Brush
Available from Amazon
For my wife!! Operation "holy shit, I'm gonna be a dad" is officially a go. Her launch date: 20 October.
The Glowdoggie Ultra is a German-engineered LED lighted dog collar. It allows you to see your dog at night, at a distance. I have had my Glowdoggie collar for about 4 months now. As a professional dog trainer I have seen many, many different collars, and this collar far exceeds the run of the mill LED collar in a number of ways.
Firstly it is waterproof. I have tested this thoroughly, and it lives up to its claim of being 100% waterproof. Secondly, it is compatible with rechargeable batteries. This is a big plus if you are using an LED collar regularly. The company also guarantees their collars for 2 years. After four months of regular usage, I see literally no wear and tear on this thing, so I think it will far exceed the 2 year warrantee.
The biggest plus of these collars are the fact that they are intensely bright. With a dog off leash at over 100 yards the collar in clearly visible with no other lighting around. This is partly due to the fact that unlike many LED collars the Glowdoggie does not flash but instead remains a constant source of light. Contrary to my initial thoughts, this does not have any noticeable drain on the batteries compared to some of the other battery powered collars that flash.
All in all this is one of the best LED collars available on the market today, and comes to you, batteries included.
-- Josh Moran
Last night I drove Simms and Mihoko up to Oakland, where we met up with jkonrath and Sarah, proceeded to dinner at Ozumo ("You can't take a Japanese person to a Japanese restaurant!" "Yes you can!"), then a movie, or rather a sequence of entertainments culminating in the movie Laura, at the Paramount.
I knew the movie would be good, and it was. Afterwards, walking back to the car, there was much hilarious recounting of mail spoofing and other violations of yesteryear. (In fact I do remember exactly, word for word, what Chuck said to inflame a newsgroup full of Courtney Love fans; but delicacy overcame me such that I couldn't bring myself to quote him in front of Sarah and Mihoko. Not that I suspect either of them of prudery. The problem, bizarrely, was me.)
My passengers fell asleep on the trip back, so I transported snoring cargo down a dark and treacherous 880, across the Dumbarton bridge, and back through Menlo Park/Palo Alto on surface roads. By the time we got back it was after midnight. They had to leave at four to return their rental and catch their flight, so the first leg of sleep was only three and a half hours.
I'd promised I'd meet Christina and Heather at an early yoga class, so I didn't sleep much after that either. As it turned out, neither Christina nor Heather showed up. (Food poisoning kept Christina in the bathroom all morning, and Heather, who'd just lost a dear old cat, wasn't feeling up to facing the world.) So I plopped a mat down among strangers in one of those newfangled vinyaseriffic classes in a torrid studio with perky oldies music and about a hundred rounds of alternating chaturanga with downward dog. This is the kind of class for which you pretty much need one of those comically expensive grippy towels, because your hands will sweat too much to stay steady on a regular mat. I didn't have one so I slid around.
It's so, so far from the yoga my mom taught me as a kid, back in the days when nobody sold special equipment for it and classes didn't take place in "studios": a steady, deliberate, inward discipline emphasizing breathing and inversions.
But it was enjoyable enough, and though I didn't experience the swirls afterwards (have I ever written here about the swirls? A sort of internal musical phenomenon?), I felt pleasantly wrung out, so I'm glad I went. Though it'd have been more fun if it'd been followed by coffee with Heather and Christina.
Worked most of the day; as dusk fell, took Crosbie to the Stanford campus for snuffling/exploring/trotting; hours later, i.e. shortly before starting to write this, I looked in a mirror and found chestnut flowers stuck in my hair.
I'm painting a pale Buddha on my meditation room's closet:
it isn't done, but you can see I'm trying to keep it on the transcendental side.
I really shouldn't (in so far as 'shouldn't' means anything at all) have any decorations in my meditation room, because they would be considered a relative distraction from the purpose of the room...
but whatever. I wanted to do it, and I can always paint it out again.
Didn't enjoy it much. The commute from Richmond to Seven Hills takes 50 minutes at <40kph on most days. The distance is less than Dubbo to Wellington but takes longer. I use a back road that takes me through Vinyard, Riverstone, Schofields, Quakers Hill, and Marayong; minor suburbs that are more like small villages surrounded by the city.
Traffic, Crowds, Pollution, high rent, higher cost of living. All the things I missed about Sydney that makes me really want to move back.
This a book about how to hide from people who want to find you, such as ex’s, disgruntled associates, opportunistic lawyers, private investigators, stalkers, the press, etc. Hiding means obscuring your identity. It is not about hiding from governments, because as Luna observes, “privacy” is a matter of economics; anyone can be found using enough money, which is what governments have. Luna classifies the 4 levels of obscurity one can achieve by assigning them 4 levels of money paid to find you. Level 1 is hundreds of dollars, Level 2 thousands, and Level 3 tens to hundreds of thousands. Level 4 is the government. The more it costs to find you, the harder you have to work to remain hidden.
This book reveals the many tricks one can do to hide your location, your assets, your identity, while still paying your taxes. Most of these tricks are legal, or at least in the gray zone of “not outright illegal.” (For instance, by supplying true but irrelevant facts, rather than stating something false.) There are many legitimate reasons for not wanting to be found by someone (spousal abuse, escaping revenge, identity theft, etc.) but I think the overriding one that motivates this book is the fear of having assets seized in a frivolous “deep pocket” law suit.
What is clear from this guide is the degree to which one has to disconnect from ordinary connections in order to achieve the higher levels of obscurity. Very few people will want to live with the constraints required to completely mask your true identity. Yet you are only as hidden as your weakest link, which could be one of a thousands everyday connections such as an old account, forgotten password, unexpected stop at a border, or an old friend. Higher levels of disappearing demand relentless attention, and in many ways privacy becomes a full-time obsession, as it has for the author.
Even though he tries hard in this third edition, Luna is not keeping up to date with the digital world. Hiding is harder, but there are also new opportunities as well. However because Luna advises people to stay off social networks, he is not ahead of the curve. (These days if you don’t have a Facebook account full of friends, that is a sign you are fake.) A younger generation will have a harder time implementing these tactics, although the strategy remains the same.
I live my life in the complete opposite direction from what this book advocates, being as transparent and open as possible at all times. Life is too short, and openness has treated me well. Luna would call this naive, and it probably is. There are not many of his suggestions I will actually follow, because I am not battling an ex, not running from the press, not trying to hide assets from unscrupulous lawyers. But as the author notes, the time to enable privacy is before you need it.
Like many other tools, it’s good to know these options exists, even if you have no plans to use them now. Being aware of what possibilities we have for deep disguise and obsessive privacy is empowering. And of course, if you are trying to find someone, this book has all the tricks they may be using. I learned tons and consider it a bargain education.
How To Be Invisible
J. J. Luna
2012, 320 pages
Available from Amazon
This will almost certainly require a move from your present location. Both your home (or rental property) and you vehicles will be in the names of anonymous limited liability companies (LLCs). Your home address will now be hidden from all but your closest relatives and friends. It will no longer appear on your annual tax returns, or anywhere else. If you follow the directions in chapter 12, “E-mail and the Internet,” your Internet/e-mail connections will be under cover and the black-hat boys and/or law firms may have to pay a PI some truly serious money to track you down. Are you worth that much to them? If not, sleep well.
I learned this one from a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) agent I met, while staying in a motel that was near a flooded area. Some years ago he bought a $98,995 motor home under another name, and did not license it. (He thus saved not only the license fees and road tax, but an $8,513.57 sales tax as well.) For $12 he got a fifteen-day permit to move it to a rural location in another state. From time to time he moves it, each time getting a temporary permit. Try to find out where this agent actually lives!
Watch For This Sneaky Trick
Suppose a private investigator wants to hear you talking to your lawyer (or mistress, or whomever). He may place a conference call, recording every word. Here is how it works. The first call would go to you, and when you answer, the PI punches HOLD and then speed-dials your lawyer. you start saying, “Hello? Hello?” Then your lawyer comes on the line. He recognizes your voice. Each of you may then assume the other person placed the call, and start to chat!
Suppose you wish to send $25,000 from Vancouver, British Columbia, to a friend in Helsinki, Finland. You would hand $25,000 cash to a Vancouver money changer (Hawaladar) in Vancouver, and receive code words (or an agreed signal such as a secret handshake) and a contact address in Helsinki. No actual cash moves out of Canada. Instead, when your friend gives the code to the correspondent hawaladar in helsinki, he will receive the equivalent in euros (less a commission) from money that is already there. To review:
-There are no written documents. The exchanges are based on mutual trust (perhaps for that reason unpopular in the United States?).
-Only local currencies are used. Thus, if you are sending money from the UK to Mexico, you pay in pounds and the receiver in Mexico collects in pesos.
-This exchange cannot be traced because no money crosses a border.
Since the IRS treats one-member LLCs as sole proprietorships for tax purposes, there are no income tax consequences. If you use your LLC for a part-time business, for example, you will merely report earnings and expenses on Schedule C and submit it with your 1040 tax return. Repeat: The income – -if any — is listed on your personal tax return. Nowhere on the tax form will the name of your limited liability company appear. As far as the IRS is concerned, your limited liability company is invisible.
“How can I prove I own the company,” I’m often asked, “if my name doesn’t appear anywhere?” If privacy is the goal, I recommend New Mexico LLCs because they do not show ownership in the Articles of Organization (which are a public record). The best way to prove ownership, then, is to have the original LLC documents coupled with an operating agreement.
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