My Favorite Barware

As all three of you know by now, I enjoy making a cocktail now and again. With that being the case, I've tried a lot of gear and developed some preferences. 

Given the upcoming holiday season, I thought I'd share some of my favorites in case you were looking for some gift ideas.

  • Corkscrews come in all shapes and sizes. I have a Rabbit, but mostly I'm partial to the "Waiter's Friend" style.
  • For measuring ingredients, I've decided the old school two-sided jiggers are too much of a pain to use, clean and store. While hanging out at the bar at Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder, I decided to follow their lead and get a stack of these Oxo Mini angled measuring cups. I got a couple of these science lab-style beakers, too, but they don't quite have enough graduation markers to be perfectly effective.
  • Of course, when I'm mixing drinks that are all spirits, I stir it like a gentleman. For that, I use a pint glass (I like to use some old Sailor Jerry glasses I have because they are awesome.), my favorite bar spoon, and a Julep strainer (which I prefer over a Hawthorne strainer). The pint glasses tend to dribble a bit, so someday I might get a nice mixing glass with a pour spout. In the mean time I just got a nice bar mat that hides perfectly under a cutting board in my kitchen.
  • When the beverages have juice, sugar or eggs involved, it's time to put on a show and shake what my momma gave me. I'm partial to Cobbler shakers which have built in strainers. I thought this one from CB2 was my favorite, but the second one I just got seems a little leaky. That said, Cobbler shakers can suffer from stuck lids and are a bit troublesome to clean. I do have a fondness for the simplicity of the Boston shaker and might look into acquiring a nice one soon.
  • I juice my limes and lemons with one of these press-like juicers.
  • I get citrus twists with one of these vegetable peelers, which does a decent job, though my citrus garnishing game could use improvement.
  • I have yet to fall in love with a muddler, so I just have a basic wooden number.
  • I really like stabbing my olives and Luxardo cherries with these picks I just got from Williams-Sonoma, though they are a bit long for my favorite vintage cocktail glasses (featured in my Green Knight post).
  • As for glasses, I love the vintage set we have but I'm on the lookout for a good set of coupes.
  • Update: I forgot to mention the ice cube trays I like a lot. They are silicone and come in one inch and two inch sizes. I also have a couple different spherical molds, but those aren't really worth the trouble.

As you can tell, my mixology hobby definitely feeds into my predilection for collecting tools and gear. I just like to say it keeps me off the streets.

Oh, if you need any help using the items listed above, I suggest reading this book first and then maybe this one.

Booze Recipe: Punchin' Judy

My friend, Dave, gave me a copy of of David Wondrich's fantastic Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl for my birthday, so I've been looking for an excuse to try making some boozy punch. Luckily for me, I was recently "promoted" to the title of Chief Mixology Officer at work. We also now host a monthly gathering of geeks with drinks known as Ruby on Beer, so I thought I'd sneak something other than beer to the next party. Since I'm not the type to fly blind, I took the opportunity last Friday to make a batch of Fish House Punch for the office, just to try things out.

The results were definitely positive. Some folks were big, big fans, but I thought the flavors needed some rounding out. There were some sharp lemon notes and a big pop of sweet that required some smoothing.

Since the next Ruby on Beer is this Thursday, I felt like I needed some more practice. Today I started into making something when I realized I didn't have any brandy or cognac in the house (I'm generally not a big fan, so no surprise, really.). Rather than make a run out to the packy to pick some up, I figured I'd just make something up.

I broke a few "rules" by using bourbon in my mixture, but it turns out I'm pretty good at making stuff up. ;^)

Punchin' Judy

  • For the oleo saccharum, peel four lemons and muddle the rinds in a cup of small crystal raw sugar.
  • Let the lemon peels sit in the sugar for at least half an hour. The sugar will draw out the oils in the rind.
  • Add the following to the oleo saccharum:
    • 1 cup lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 2 oz orange liqueur (Cointreau, Triple Sec, etc.)
    • 2 cups dark spiced rum (I used Kraken)
    • 2 cups bourbon (I went with Jim Beam)
    • 4 cups black tea steeped medium-strong
  • Remove the lemon rinds and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour or two (I failed at this step)
  • Serve with a big brick of ice and lemon wheels floating in it

This punch is delightfully easy to drink. Perhaps also dangerously easy to drink, because it definitely packs a wallop!

Hush now

Yesterday evening we had the pleasure of attending out first Hush dinner. What a great event! Dinner in an Urban Winery I had known about Hush for a couple months probably, but my first attempt to get on the mailing list didn't work for whatever reason. Then just recently a newsletter from The Infinite Monkey Theorem Urban Winery (of which I have been a big fan for about a year) mentioned that they were hosting the next Hush, so I hopped on their site and signed up hoping I'd be in time to get invited to the winery dinner. As luck would have it, I was and I couldn't be happier with the result.

The evening started off at about 6pm in the winery's new courtyard sampling a surprisingly good rosé. We did some milling about, mostly keeping to ourselves, though a few brave souls did approach us. By the time we were told to move in to the winery's Quonset hut for dinner, though, we had buddied up with another couple with whom we would turn out to have a lot of strange similarities. We had a real blast dining with them and hope to see them again soon.

Dinner itself was A-plus. The food was prepared by Kate Horton, chef at Black Pearl in Denver, and her team with each course paired with a different offering from the winery. Needless to say, I was totally geeking out the whole night.

Then to take the geek factor to warp 11, I met a guy in the line for the restroom who owns a Tesla. We went outside so I could pose next to it and instead he told me to hop in! We took a screaming lap around the block and went back to our tables. The Wife said something along the lines of "What happened to you? You were gone a long time." to which I grinned with nerdy pride "Oh, I just went for a ride in a Tesla."

Gratuitious pose

More great food, awesome wine, and fantastic company followed.

So, two lessons: 1) If you're in Denver, make the effort and go to a Hush event it's worth the price and and all the underground cloak and dagger effort. If you aren't in Denver, you might want to look around and see if there's anything similar in your area. 2) I seem to "learn" this one over and over, but don't be afraid to talk to strangers. You might find people that love the strange things you love and have great stories to tell you about them.

Congrats to Phil at Hush, Ben at IMT, and Chef Kate. I'm a big fan of all three now.

How do you quantify self-improvement?

Say you have some goals (or "resolutions", in the case of the new year)... How do you measure progress toward success? Goals are much easier to actually accomplish if you break it into steps. I haven't done the Googling, but I assume tapering with the help of patches or nicotine gum is a much more successful method of smoking cessation than cold turkey. Fitness improvements are almost by definition something to work toward one step at a time -- you can't just go from the couch to running a marathon, you need to run around the block first.

This all came about from me lying in bed thinking about some things I'd like to accomplish this year and trying to come up with ways to keep track of my paths toward them. A lot of this is based on my use of the Physics Diet web site for tracking my weight. Even when I'm not succeeding, I love having the data in front of me. I can forgive myself a big red spike if I then come back with some green afterward.

I want something like that for other goals, so I started bending my brain around it a little. Physics Diet depends on daily weight and body fat measurements, and each day your "goal" (in most cases, at least) is to weigh less than you did the day before. How do you break other types of goals into similarly measurable "micro-goals".

I think the main crux is how you formulate your goal.

Suppose I want to be able to run ten kilometers this year. The first step is to get out and run - period. That means running once in this next week is an improvement from the previous state of not running at all. Then if I get to the point where I am running consistently three days a week, I need to change my metric to something like distance covered or even time if my distance covered is the same as before. Obviously, this just got a lot more complex than a weight chart...

At least there are still obvious metrics, though - in the example above you have frequency, distance, and time. All of which you can easily measure and compare. You might even be able to make a pretty chart/graph to show progress/regression. Even without the chart I could track progress in each of the metrics and use that data to motivate myself toward my originally stated goal of running 10k within my time frame.

Here's another one: I want to learn to play my Fluke ukulele. How the heck do I "chunkify" something like that? Well, I could rephrase the goal to something more like "I want to practice the ukulele every day." That give me the frequency metric again. I could also perhaps measure a duration metric, too. Those will definitely be helpful to me at the start, but after a while two hours of plinking tunelessly will become a disappointment, and it's a big jump from counting how often I practice to counting something like songs I've learned to play....

Perhaps this illustrates a lack of knowledge -- I might not actually understand what it takes to reach my goal.

Maybe that's OK, though. Maybe tracking data on these small metrics is just a way to get me off the ground for some goals, while with others - like running or other fitness goals - it could be a long-lasting habit.

Besides, there are other things to track. Perhaps some goals are better broken into a sequential checklist of milestones -- when you can check something off, you have made progress. This sort of goal wouldn't really have backwards progress, I suppose, aside from stalling out on time.

What do you think? Is this likely to be a useful tack for achieving goals? Am I just using the idea of tracking data as a procrastination tool? (Thanks to my experience with Physics Diet, I'm quite certain this isn't the case. Tracking measurements takes very little effort and thinking out your goals is never a bad thing.)

An Appreciation of the Hard Way

Here's the thing, Bunky, a lot of people get really focused on "efficiency" in life. Those folks think a new book, the latest gadget, or a new notebook might push them over the edge so that they might Get Things Done faster than they used to, and definitely faster than the other guy. And of course faster is better, right Chief? That straight line between points A and B must also be the optimal route. How could it not be?

Well, I have come to the point in my life where I am developing an appreciation for the winding road. In my mind, actually firing up the stove trumps bringing up the Pizza Hut iPhone app to get a pie and some wings (although there are still close calls on that front, to be honest). If a 50 year old hunk of metal gets the job done as well as the modern conglomeration of plastics and who-knows-what, this guy is probably going to go for the antique. I can - and will - go on...

Build Something

A great example of what I'm talking about is home repair and/or home improvement. These days most folks run the numbers and decide their time is worth more than the cost of hiring a guy to come do the job for them.

The truth of the matter is fixing or building things around the house is super intimidating and sometimes actually difficult. These points are especially true if you have never had any training or experience with this kind of work. That said, however, the resources are out there for you to quickly gain the knowledge you need to give it a go. Go learn how to do the thing you need to do and give it a try.

Remember, even if you really fuck it up, you can hire that guy on Service Magic to fix it, but odds are you'll do fine and you'll have the satisfaction of having done it yourself.

Make Your Own Food

This past year, the thing I've done that has excited me the most is our raised bed garden. Even though it didn't get finished until very late in the summer, we grew our own food in our own back yard. Talk about satisfaction!

Even if you don't want to grow food, though, it's worth putting in the effort to cook your own meals as much as you can. People who say they "can't cook to save my life" are both lazy and lying. Cooking is one o the the most easily acquired skills there is in this world. Your food will be better than most things you'd go out to buy and there's a high probability that it will even be better for you.

That Straight Razor Thing

The three of you who read this thing have already heard a lot about my obsession with straight razors. At this point I shave almost exclusively with a straight razor. Sometimes that means I only shave once a week, though, which doesn't do me any favors. At that point my technique suffers and I am more likely to cut myself. I might actually have a very faint, but permanent scar on my face now... For real.

I still love it, though.

Shaving takes a long time with the straight razor. First, I strop my razor and prep my lather brush; then I hop in the shower for a long, hot one; once I'm dried off, I make some lather and start shaving -- I usually do at least three passes at around 10 minutes each. The whole process takes 45 minutes or so, and I enjoy every single one of them. I play music I enjoy and just spend quality time with myself. More people should find something that allows them to have that kind of time with themselves.


Learning about and mixing classic cocktails, and even trying to concoct my own new recipes, give me a lot of joy, as some of you may have noticed. There's not much more to say about that, really. It's just another hobby that requires a bit more effort than the average Joe puts into it.

Your Way?

Now, let's be truthful, I'm not the King of the Hard Way by any stretch of the imagination. By no means do I always shun the efficient or the easy. Even the things I've listed above aren't exactly earth shattering, but it's an attitude I've been pondering lately.

So, how about you? Tell me about something you do the "hard way". What is an activity that give you more satisfaction when you do it by hand rather than with some kind of "modern convenience"? I'll bet some of you are doing way more interesting things than I am.

Cut Throat

It's official: I have a new butterfly that I'm chasing. Perhaps because I work in the technology realm where everything needs to be new and shiny, I have an affinity for old things and old ways of doing things. I like wood and stone for building materials. I like cooking with cast iron. I enjoy working with my chef's knife for hours much more than buzzing food to a pulp in a food processor. I love Zippo lighters even though I'm no longer a smoker. I melt at the sight of a beautiful fountain pen even though I write maybe 100 words by hand a week. Even my motorcycle, which features a modern engine and brakes, etc. still looks basically like the old Bonnevilles that Steve McQueen loved to ride.

Combine this with my mildly obsessive nature and I tend to start odd collections. It starts off with something I actually use but then moves rapidly into the categories of "special" and "precious".

Fountain pens are a great example. I started with a plastic Lamy that you can still get for next to nothing and isn't really much to write home about. Then I started getting pens from Levenger that were a bit more fancy, but that I still used occasionally. Then I got a couple gorgeous and expensive pens that came in massive wooden boxes and have barely even seen the light of day, much less a bottle of ink. Those are the "collectibles". Those are the ones that make me feel like an idiot who may as well be lighting money on fire.

I'm going to try really hard to avoid that end with this new thing with which I've fallen in love.

So what is it? Well, straight razors.

Some of you are probably cringing or at least giving your screen a solid "WTF?" look right now. Straight razors creep some people out a whole bunch. I've always felt they are dead sexy.

I'm a knife guy, but somehow I've avoided my collector compulsion when it comes to knives. I have more knives than the average Joe does, to be sure, but I don't have any knives that are so precious to me that I would refuse to use them to actually *cut something*. This is the key distinction, and one of the reasons I feel OK going into this razor thing.

You see, I actually want to try shaving with a straight razor. I love ritualizing the act of shaving. I will happily take half an hour or more to shave on a weekend day, and that's just with a Mach III cartridge razor. I think a straight razor shave fits perfectly into this mindset.

I first thought about getting a straight razor several years ago, but the idea that you had to strop and eventually hone the blade threw me off. For a knife guy, I'm pretty bad at blade maintenance, so I worried that I'd make a mess of things and ruin the whole deal. I downgraded my hopes to an old-fashioned Merkur double-edged safety razor, but I ended up never pulling the trigger on that, either.

Then in March, Cool Hunting posted about Max Sprecher (with a re-post by Joel Johnson on BoingBoing Gadgets, which tells me I'm not alone as the "geek who loves old-fashioned stuff"). Max does two things that intrigued me greatly. First, he restores vintage razors to unbelievably gorgeous condition and sells them at surprisingly affordable prices. Second, he offers expert honing service for twenty bucks. This told me that I could get a razor that is probably better than a new stock unit available on the online stores for a lower price and that I could get it fixed relatively cheaply if I managed to screw it up.

Eureka! Sign me up!

Sadly, I didn't whip out the wallet when I first found out about Max's razors. Now he's all sold out and a bunch more people (like myself) know about him, so it's going to be hard to get one of his razors in the future, I think.

The switch was flipped, though, so I went in search and started doing some research. I found Straight Razor Designs, which has what I've found to be the best prices on new-stock Dovo razors. This is one of the main new-stock brands and the company offered lower prices and complimentary "shave-ready" honing, which usually costs an extra $15-20, so it seemed like a real bargain.

As I read around, though, I found suggestions that newbies would be better off shopping the classified ads at the Straight Razor Place forums where a vintage, shave-ready razor could be had for a much lower price. Lower initial investment for possibly better performance sounded good to me, so I went. And I bought a razor. It's called a Dubl Duck Special #1, and it set me back a reasonably painless $60 -- almost a third of the price I was almost ready to lay down on a new Dovo. It's not as pretty as the Dovo I wanted to get, but "pretty" is what tends get me in trouble.

Here's where it gets a little scary, though... After I bought that razor, I kept looking. And wanting.

Then I started reading about the restoration projects performed my Max (who is an active member at SRP) and others. It actually doesn't sound impossible. I watched a slew of YouTube videos on honing razors. That doesn't seem so scary, either. So I saw another Dubl Duck like the one I'd just bought for half the price but needing some honing before it would be shave-ready, and I bought it! Gah!

Now this flight of fancy about old fashioned grooming pleasures has turned into a potential hobby. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it, either, but I figure as long as I can keep my spending below the "recreational" level, it won't be a bad thing.It actually turns out the honing gear will cost me more than most of the razors I lust after, but if i actually develop that skill, it will be worth it in my mind.

If the resoration hobby gets to be a hassle, I can always cut the cord and send failed project razors to someone like Max to have them turned into decent (if not showpiece) razors.

We'll just have to see where it goes. Right now, I'm having lots of fun lurking on the SRP forum and learning a lot of new esoteric knowledge.

Updates will probably follow as appropriate, I suppose...

Upcoming Entertainment

Check this out: Upcoming concert schedule

So yeah... This week is going to finish well for li'l ol' pseudo-hipster me.

Fact of the matter is I'm so excited for Andrew Bird that I've barely given a thought to Modest Mouse aside from the fact that the show is on CU campus, which is bound to make my skin crawl. When I do make myself think about it, though, I'm pretty darned excited to see them, too.

I've seen Andrew Bird before... long, long ago when he played with and along side of the Squirrel Nut Zippers -- just as he was launching his Bowl of Fire. Since then he has matured and ventured in some really interesting directions musically. NPR's All Songs Considered posted a live show of his (including the opener, Loney, Dear on a separate recording) and that positively blew me a way. Based on this and and on giving his latest music heavy rotation on my ipod I'm as giddy as a little girl.

Modest Mouse hasn't released anything since their 2007 title "We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank", which I enjoyed quite a bit, though maybe a tiny smidge less than their previous two records. Nevertheless, their show at the University of Colorado's football stadium fieldhouse is likely to be packed and rocking. I'm hopeful they might preview some new material while they're at it.

Next on the list is a band from Portland, OR that is really high on my list right now. Blitzen Trapper's indie-folk story song "Furr" from the album of the same name kills me. It's truly one of my favorite songs of 2008. They are playing a small club in Denver, so I'm excited to see them in close quarters.

Beyond that are people you've all heard about, so I won't go into them before I see them.

As for stuff not on the list... Laura Gibson is coming to town on a Sunday in April, so there's a slight chance we might venture out for that. Her latest is really good. Also, I'm cautiously hopeful that I might get a chance to see Leonard Cohen. I will totally brave Red Rocks for him.

Oh, and yes, I'd like to post more often, but I'm a little busy these days... ;)

Food Awesomeness

When it first came out, Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals was definitely on my radar but was something I chose to actively avoid. I already had a certain level of frustration and paranoia when it came to food industry -- especially the industrial corn engine: high fructose corn syrup has been on my "avoid if possible" list for a while now -- and I figured I'd rather stick to my semi-ignorant partial bliss. Eventually, though, my curiosity won out and I listened to the audio volume of OD on my commute. It's seriously one of the most frustrating/educational/shattering/enlightening things I've done to myself in a long while. I highly recommend it, though it always comes with a warning. It's either going to piss you off, make want to throw your hands up, or make you figure "Fuck it! that's too much to care about!" Or all three. Or more.

Then I immediately moved on to Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, which is basically his answer to all of the people who read OD and wrote him to ask "Well, WTF can I eat and where the hell can I find it?!?" to which he replies with his zen koan of a "manifesto":

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

It's a bit trickier than it sounds, believe me. In particular, when he says "food" he means real food, not engineered and manufactured "food products". He does go on to lay down some more specific - but still simple - definitions and rules that all make perfect sense, but have almost nothing to do with the average Western (more specifically, American) diet these days. I'm happy, though, to hear our new president is at least aware of Pollan's open letter about the state of food in the Union.

These two books have made quite an impact on me, obviously. Thanks to Michael Pollan, I am now researching things like local farmers markets, CSAs, polyculture farming, "slow" food, grass-finished beef, pastured poultry and eggs, and on and on and on. And this stuff doesn't come cheap. Pollan notes that himself, but he also points out that the percentage of income spent on food in the US is almost ridiculously low compared to other countries with healthier-seeming diets/lifestyles, so maybe it's worth it.

It also tends to balance out a bit if you actually cook for yourself, which this shift to whole and real foods has definitely inspired me to do.

That said, I certainly haven't stopped dining out. I have, however, become a bit more discerning in where I take my lovely wife for a meal. Now I look for establishments that do their best to use local and natural ingredients. Luckily, many of these places also make some kick-ass food. I talk about three examples in particular after the jump:

Park Kitchen, Portland, OR

This place was the absolute highlight of our trip to Portlandd. This is saying something fairly significant, because we totally fell in love with that place.

The first time we ate there, we stopped in on our way to see Gogol Bordello in concert at the Roseland Theater. Since we had plans, we went with cocktails and a trio of Park Kitchen's "small plates". The Wife had a martini variation called the Beekeeper, which is knock-your-socks-off delicious and I had a "Summer Sazerac", which was made with herbsaint rather than the traditional absinthe and was quite tasty (though not my favorite Sazerac, see below). The pseudo-tapas consisted of all cold plates: flank steak with bleu cheese and parsley, gin soused tomatoes and cucumbers, and marinated mussels with corn and lobster mushrooms. We finished the night with a corn cannoli desert that featured the most amazing spiced caramel that had such a fantastic sweet and salty combination we couldn't get over it.

We loved the place so much, that we had our wonderful and crush-worthy server, Jenny, make us reservations for the next night, mentioning that it was out wedding anniversary and requesting a corner booth for proper cuddling action.

The next night we came in to the feeling that folks were expecting us and word of our celebration had spread. Jenny came out to welcome us with small glasses of cava and to let us know she was working a private party but would be checking in on us through the night. Our waither for the night, Jack, gave us the best advice of the night when he responded to my "So, what's the story with teh tasting menu?" with a solid "All I can tell you is, do it." And so we did. More cocktails and more beyond excellent food, including rabbit and fried green beans and bacon (by which I mean there were thick strips of bacon that were battered and fired!). Absolutely wonderful. Made even more so by the company of Shane (who, it turns out, concocted the aforementioned Beekeeper, and his father at the table next to us.

We cannot recommend Park Kitchen enough.

SoBo American Bistro, Boulder, CO

My bosses (and good friends, happily) love this place, and so do I. SoBo is the home of the best Sazerac and the best Old Fashioned I've ever had -- all of which are apparently inspired by a book called The Art of the Bar. They also crank out some mighty fine food. I had a parpadelle with chicken meatballs that seriously tasted like pork sausage. It was so incredible that I sent our care-taker, Eileen back to the kitchen to find out how they did it. The answer: pork fat! ;) After that, Eileen sent us home with some cherry-vanilla bitters that she had made herself. Can't beat that with a stick.

I've been to SoBo several times, and I've encounter an item here or there that hasn't knocked me out, but I've never had a real failure there. I think this just comes from exploring more of the menu -- You're bound to find something that isn't up your alley eventually.

SoBo is great people and fantastic food. I also love that it's the best thing going in South Boulder.

The Kitchen Cafe, Boulder, CO

We just experienced The Kitchen for the first time last Saturday before we saw Henry Rollins in Boulder. I've known about it for quite some time now, but have never gone because until recently I've had an aversion for both Pearl Street and restaurants that require reservations be made days in advance. In the case of The Kitchen, it's well worth working through those aversions.

This time out, I started with a Talisker, an Islay single malt, neat while The Wife had a fruity grapefruit/lychee gin drink that was really delicious. For the first course we shared the roasted bone marrow. This was the first time trying bone marrow for both of us, and wow! Our server called it "like the best butter ever", but I'll stand by The Wife's "Colorado lobster" analogy. Our main courses were an incredible hanger steak with root vegetables for her and a pair of small but succulent lamb rump chops for me. To compliment the meat we took advantage of the wine prix fixe deal, having a full glass of a Loring pinot noir from Oregon first and and then switching to a half glass of Catena, an Argentinian malbec, to finish with a bolder note.

This place approaches the (probably unreasonable and unattainable) standard set by Park Kitchen in our minds. Well worth planning ahead for the experience.

Portland: More to come...

Just a note to self more than anything, but here's what you can look forward to hearing about as far as our trip to Portland, OR goes:

  1. Park Kitchen -- So good we went there twice.
  2. Kenny & Zuke's -- So good we never ate breakfast anywhere else.
  3. Gogol Bordello -- And the experience of an all ages show in Portland.
  4. The City of Portland -- We walked all over the place. It's tiny and awesome.

So stay tuned...


Side note: This is turning into the Autumn of Concerts for Team Sutton. To date, we've seen Spiritualized (which I have so far failed to write up, but was totally awesome) and Gogol Bordello; and soon we will see Fleet Foxes, DeVotchKa, and a spoken-word turn by Hank Rollins.


Awesome Things

Things that are awesome (some of which may have been previously mentioned here) in no particular order:

  • Sushi + beer + sake + friends = AWESOME
  • Live burlesque. Also, The Wife potentially taking burlesque classes. :D
  • Absinthe. I'm digging on Kübler, which is locally available now. Admittedly, I talk more people into not trying absinthe than I talk into trying it. It's not for everyone.
  • Rock Band. I'm pretty useless on anything except the singing, but it's more fun than Karaoke Revolution because the other people are playing along with you. Drumming is unpossible for me.
  • Tiki bars. Especially the Tiki Torch in Edgewater. I know one of the owners, so I'm psyched to give it a shot. I'll be toting The Wife and her mother down this Saturday, I believe. Daddy needs a Mai Tai with a quickness!
  • Anita O'Day. Holy crap! How have I never heard of her until now? Best thing to ever happen to me thanks to Plurk. (If you're not already a Twitter user, you might try Plurk instead.) Also loving Sarah Vaughn these days.
  • The Silent Years. The Globe comes out soon.
  • Going to the doctor to get my first physical in who knows how many years. It seems I'm doing well. (I still have to do blood work, though.)
  • Michael Phelps. Yeah... WOW.
  • The iPhone 3G. Lots of people gripe about various things, but in general I say it's damned amazing.
  • Dark Knight. Saw it on IMAX. It was pretty good.
  • Rumbi fish tacos. I'm stunned, but these are currently my favorite fish tacos.
  • Knowing one of the guys on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
  • Fuelly. All the cool kids are doing it.
  • Bumping into an acquaintance and having their first comment be "You look good."

And other stuff, too. That's a pretty good list for now, though.

Plans (and assorted junk)

This afternoon, I'll be trekking down to Shelf Road for a weekend of camping and rock climbing with my bossmen and a few others. This is rather exciting, as I've done neither of those activities in yonks. It's also a bit depressing as I realize just how many yonks it's been. Based on the evidence, I haven't touched a real rock while wearing a climbing harness in this century. In fact I've only climbed on the indoor fake stuff the once since I've moved to Colorado. Climbing was part of the "why" of moving to Colorado at the time of that decision. Funny how things work out, eh? A large part of it is having people with whom to actually do things. I suppose I didn't realize how lucky I was to have developed the network of like-minded and tolerable people I had back in Massachusetts. Thanks, gang!

Then there the camping. I unpacked my tent to make sure it hadn't dissolved completely over the years and found bits of bark and moss from a camping trip I took in New England with Miracle Ed and Hanh something like ten years ago. Good goddamn!

It's all a bit conflicting, to be honest, because I can't say I've missed it all as much as I would have expected. I've found other things to do at times. Mostly I'm just kind of lazy, I think. Or at least I tend to have a lot of inertia when I'm comfortable. That's a nice way of saying "lazy"...

Also, snakes. ;)


Unrelated: Holy crap! I totally watched The Master back in the day!

Meta: I wanted to add my shared items from Google Reader to the new secondary sidebar, but it didn't work properly. I might keep trying.

Hey, how are ya?

Some random crap: My mommy got me a 40" Sony LCD HDTV for Xmas. I was planning to get something in the 46" range later in 2008, but 40" turns out to be plenty big (plus, it's free, yo!). That mother of mine is pretty cool. Even if she does have a thundering herd of Great Danes at her house (including this one and this one, who will make you cry).


Did you hear the Lakota have decided to secede from the US? I figure this is roughly equivalent to them going on strike. They're grabbing some attention and might get some sort fo concession from the US government, but in the end it will amount to nothing. Though, Brozo and I think it'd be fun if they started tolling traffic on I-90 and formed an army. How long do you think it would take for them to be labeled "terrorists" if they did that?


Did you hear that monkeys are as good at mental mathematics as college kids?

"We had them do math on the fly," Cantlon said.

The task was to mentally add two sets of dots that were briefly flashed on a computer screen. The teams were asked to pick the correct answer from two choices on a different screen.

The humans were not allowed to count or verbalize as they worked, and they were told to answer as quickly as possible. Both monkeys and humans typically answered within 1 second.

And both groups fared about the same.

Great. Just great.


Maybe they can help economists decide whether there's going to be a recession or not.

"A lot of the underlying resilience of the U.S. economy seems a bit unappreciated," says Citigroup economist Steven Wieting. "It's not clear that this is so large a burden that we can't muddle through this."

That's the best this guy could come up with? Muddle through?

Je suis jalouse

A few years ago a new development popped up near my own subdivision. It was called Bradburn Village and was part of the latest urban development trend of "New Urbanist" communities. All I knew was that the houses seemed really nice (more than just "little boxes on the hillside") and that residents would have a pub within staggering distance. Some of the more extravagant houses even had carriage house apartments, which is something that catches my eye since we live with my mother-in-law. Alas, the real estate game in Bradburn is too rich for my blood (assuming we would ever be able to sell our current house -- not likely in these economic climes). That doesn't keep me from walking through the neighborhood (there's open space between us and them) or stopping into the aforementioned pub for black & tans with bangers & colcannon. I still like to grab the "for sale" fliers to see what's going for what and pine wistfully when the answers are "perfect" and "too much".

Then I run across this: The lucky bastards have near-weekly keggers! And of course, everyone who lives there loves it. I'd really like to get a peak in their Yahoo! Group for some real scuttlebutt, but I'm guessing I'd be mostly disappointed.

That social interaction would be a double-edged sword for me, though. Part of me wants to live in a "village" where everyone knows everyone else in at least a cursory manner. The other part of me wishes everyone else would leave me the hell alone. Forever. Give me a glass of beer, though and that second part tends to get out of the way. ;)

As it is, I live in a nice neighborhood in my cookie cutter (though mostly well-built) house. Several of my good friends live within a ~5 mile radius. I have nearby open space in which I can make my jogging attempts. I can still take advantage of some of the amenities in Bradburn, too -- I just don't get to stagger home from the pub, so I take it easy and save the staggering for when I get home later.

Mostly I just like to look at the houses anyway.

BTW: Bradburn isn't the only example of "New Urbanism" in my area. We also have Stapleton (at the location of Denver's former airport), Belmar (in near-by Lakewood), Arista (coming soon in even-closer Broomfield) and probably several others. Prospect New Town, in Longmont, was the first one to catch my notice. Too bad it's in Longmont. ;)

Happy 58th, Tom Waits

I suppose if I had to pick one musical artist to call my favorite, Tom Waits would be it. ( bears me out, too.) As I remember my childhood, our house was always filled with the music of people like Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, and Townes Van Zandt. These artists are still at the top of my list, but I always remember the similarly frequent times when the Tom Waits records were out. His voice always gave me pause. It was so different, I'd stop and think "What IS this? Why is it so different from everything else? And why do I like it so much?"

And then there was the cover for the Small Change album with its be-pastied stripper... Now THAT was something for my prepubescent mind to ponder!

And that really is the best part about Tom Waits. He makes you think a bit. He tells wonderful stories in his songs. They may be comical, maudlin, tragic or surreal, but they are all wonderful.

Happy birthday, Tom. May you have many more. Thanks for everything so far.

(And thanks to my favorite homebrewer, David, for pointing out the date this morning.)

Track o' the Post: Tango Till They're Sore from Rain Dogs by Tom Waits, because that album was always the most fascinating/baffling to me when I was young.

Goal Oriented

When I switched my home computing empire from my dying home-built, full tower PC to my new 24-inch slab o' sex iMac everything went pretty smoothly. I managed to transfer all the files I cared about over, and Google Browser Sync made setting up my new copy of Firefox so easy I was kind of left with a "that's it?!" feeling. I left the PC running, but I haven't had to jump on it yet, so I'm about to rip out the hard drives and toss it. The biggest part of the move from my perspective was my iTunes library. Firstly, let me say yes, I use iTunes. I know some ubergeeks who scoff at such an idea, but I don't know what they are trying to do with their digital music that I can't do in iTunes. Most importantly, I figured out some sweet-ass "smart" playlists that made it easy for me to play the sort of thing that suited my mood at any given moment.

Which brings us to the point.

When I copied my iTunes library to the iMac most of the meta-data came over fine. Things like star ratings, comments, and such all came over without a hitch. The only thing that I lost was last played date, play counts, skip counts, and things like that. I can sort of wrap my head around why this is the case -- It's a new player, so nothing has been played (or skipped) on it.

It bums me out, though. Now my fancy "Favorites" playlist which consisted of 5-star tracks that had been played more than X times and skipped fewer than Y times is completely empty. My "Been a Long Time" playlist featuring 4 & 5-star tracks that hadn't been played in past 3 months (but had been played at least once) is empty. My "Unheard" playlist now has 11,000 songs on it -- and that's only because I've listened to at least 1,500 since making the switch.

And that's the rub. I can't leave it be. I NEED to get this music listened to and back into its proper buckets. I am on a hardcore music binge right now. Even if I don't feel like listening to music, I'll put the iPod on shuffle and not put on the headphones. This strikes me as ... compulsive. I just can't abide the current situation, though.

How would you react? Is it my own fault for working out such convoluted playlists? Should I just be content with putting my iPod on shuffle most days? Should I consider this an opportunity to create some new wacky playlists (already there, honestly).


Track o' the Post: Rehab from what will probably turn out to be Amy Winehouse's last album, Back to Black, which is still totally worth having, even if girlfriend is a batshit crazy junkie.