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.

Much Nothing About... Ado?

Took last week off to get a little break after our big launch at work. It turned into a fairly busy period in between all the loafing on the couch. Highlights:

  • Had a meeting with Ma and her giant dog rescue crew and got them introduced to my boss in case we can do some pro-bono work for them. We have a meeting scheduled for this Tuesday, so we'll see if anything comes of it.
  • Took Mingus in for shoulder x-rays to see if anything joint-related was making him gimpy. Turns out the joints look pretty darned good. Hooray no surgery for the dog.
  • I had a medical visit myself, but that warrants its own post... Coming soon... ;)
  • Painted the kitchen a pretty little shade of blue with the help of The Wife.
  • Spent the 4th at Brozo's, which is fast becoming tradition. Drank some beers, threw a couple bottle rockets, managed not to start any fires. Y'know, standard stuff.
  • The next day we made it out to see the Burlesque As It Was troupe put on a righteous USO-style show. That Charlie Champale is something else, I tell ya. The girls were pretty fun, too. We liked it so much, in fact, we're going to see them again on the 26th at the Bluebird theater in Denver.
  • Today's highlight was Rafa "Gun Show" Nadal finally finishing off Roger Federer in a marathon Wimbledon final. That and being able to buy a bunch of beer on a Sunday. Nice!

Other than that, I got to watch some Red Sox baseball, but really that hardly matters to me -- I don't really pay attention until September. ;)

So, the iPhone 3G comes out this Friday, eh? Hmmmmm...

Long Weekends Should Be Longer

Not that I'm greedy or anything. It just that I once again managed to let a holiday weekend slip by without doing anything worth mentioning. I got back on the exercise horse with short, awful runs on Saturday and Monday and Bowflex action on Sunday, but so what? I dipped to a new low weight for this weight loss effort, too, but bounced back up a pound or so.

My mother had a nice deck party on her brand new deck on Saturday -- that was pretty much the highlight of the weekend. She and her cohorts are now talking about starting a rescue not just for Danes but for all sorts of giant dogs. (I figure that'll make Miracle Ed smile.)

After Ma's I went to check in on my friend David's birthday party, but apparently it had just broken up after BJ Penn beat up Sean Sherk. Since the party (and DJ) were winding down, Erik and I went to his house to throw darts and play a little ping-pong. Yep. We're wild.

Sunday was a failure, as I decided not to ride my motorcycle figuring I would do that on Monday. Well, Monday turned out rainy, so no Bonneville time for me. This bummed me out since Erik had come over last week to help me get the Bonnie running well after a long bit of garage rest.

So it goes, eh?

A couple media notes:

  1. Don't waste your time with Revolver. Gah.
  2. Sweeney Todd, by contrast was good times. On Helena Bonham Carter -- Me: "I wonder what she's like day to day... You never hear much gossip." Wife: "Yeah, I don't know. I was just thinking she's got to be the oldest goth chick around." Me: "Still totally hot, though." Wife: "Well, yeah."
  3. Also, if you're cooler than me (by which, in this case, I mean you own a Blu-ray player), you might be interested in Amazon's Blu-ray sale.

Look at all that def!

You may recall that my dearest mommy got me a big ol' television set for Christmas this past holiday. Well, I've finally got it running at full capacity now that I have a TiVo-HD (got a deal on a refurb from Woot!) and boy is it something.

Of course, the CableCARD install wasn't perfectly smooth, but at least it turned out to just be a bit of an annoyance while the cable guy fiddled with it for an hour or two. It was definitely not the sort of tragedy I had read about on various TiVo forums, etc.

It's funny what HD does to you, though. Two words to illustrate my point: Sunrise Earth. My friends (who were all way ahead of me on the HD curve) all told me about this hypnotic show, and I always pointed at them and laughed. Turns out they were right on the money. It's just mesmerizing. Even beyond that, though, I'll watch a nature show or rock concert in HD before just about any other option now. Good times.

The Wife's favorite bit - aside from when I blew her mind by showing her how we can watch shows from our old TiVo unit on the new one - is the dual tuner action we get from the TiVo-HD. Now "Boy shows" don't automatically trump "Girl shows". Peace reigns supreme at the Lazy 'S' Ranch, though it does give the TiVo twice the opportunity to record one of it's off the wall suggestions...

Baby's New Toy

This past weekend The Wife and I got ourselves an XBox 360. I say that in terms of "us" and "we", but really the purchase was precipitated by my girl's strong desire to rock out with a little game called Karaoke Revolution. Make no mistake, she was a dancer for good reason, but the ability to actually sing really doesn't help you much (if at all) in this game. We were first introduced to it at brother-in-law Chris's house the last time we went to LA to see him and his SO, Kate. Me being me, I totally douched out and refused to play. (I don't dance in public, either.) My not-so-secret plan was to get the game and practice by myself until I was comfortable enough to do it in front of other people. I was just going to get it for the Wii, but then it turns out the XBox and PS3 version have downloadable songs, which made it worth the wait in my mind.

I'm still finding my way with the game... (I can sing just well enough to really screw things up, it seems.) "Satisfaction" from the Rolling Stones is my rock solid joint at the moment. I've also done passable jobs at "In the Air Tonight", "Come Sail Away With Me", and Haddaway's "What Is Love" (on which I actually did better the first time ever seeing the lyrics). Songs that frustrated me so far, but which think I can rock hard with a little work: "Tainted Love", GnR's version of "Knocking on Heaven's Door", and "(Hit Me) Baby One More Time". The wife on the other hand is a machine, scoring perfect scores (we're playing on "Easy", of course) after perfect scores. Our duet goal is Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", although "Midnight Train to Georgia" is a real ass kicker, too. It's hard to be a Pip!

Yes, there is no shame in karaoke. Point of fact: I score better if I sing the "What Is Love" lyrics like "Whuddizluff? Doanherdmee. Doanherdmee...No more." It's very strange. I also picked up .skate as my "boy game", and it's proving to be very cool, though rather difficult for a Tony Hawk Pro Skater veteran like myself.

The only other game I have on my short list right now is Beautiful Katamari, but I'm sure that will change over time.

Needless to say, the fun times never stop at the Sutton household.

Nerd Sexy

Today, Rod posted these rejected Star Wars products to our sooper-seekrit IRC channel, prompting the following:

  • Jake: and pants are optional!
  • Rod: hell yes
  • Rod: and then if you're at a halloween party and some girl opens up your sweaty suit to blow you, she can say "and i thought they smelled bad on the outside"
  • Rod: and then you can marry her because she's awesome

That's gold, people. Pure gold!

And then there was this exchange, as well...

New Shoes

Literally. The Wife and I went to an actual running store and bought actual running shoes yesterday, so that we might continue our attempts at jogging with perhaps a bit less agony. Given that I haven't called myself a "runner" since high school, and The Wife never has, we popped into our local Road Runner store to take full advantage of their know-how on the subject.

I had gone in with a strong recommendation from my mother, whose duck feet I was dubiously fortunate enough to inherit, so I told our friendly shoe salesman that I needed to try on a pair of Brooks Beasts and that my dear spouse might need a bit more help in finding the right gear since she's a former ballerina and nobody really understands what's going on with her feet.

So, he took her over to stand on a pressure pad and found out she's much more "normal" than any of us expected. She tried on three different pairs and settled on a pair of Nike Zoom Structures that felt "like little hugs for my feet!"

Meanwhile, I wasn't so sure about the Beasts. This is typical of me. I can never tell if a shoe feels right. Mostly they just never feel all that great to me, but in particular, I have had so many shoes seem fine in the store only to be totally wrong when I get them home. Luckily Road Runner offers a guarantee for just such issues.

Anyway, I was hemming and hawing a bit. I thought maybe I should stand on the pad or whatever, too, in case anything mysterious would be revealed. Once I stood up in my socks and showed our guy how my feet roll inward, though, he said there was no mystery about that at all. And so I tried on a couple other pairs from Asics and Saucony. I ended up on the treadmill which showed my left ankle trying its level best to buckle in a direction that just isn't normal ("We generally want to try to get that a bit straighter, but I think that's as good as you get..." said my new friend with a baffled shrug.), but also revealed that I straighten my stride out fairly well by the time I push off. Good for me. In fact, we were both happy that nobody looked at us and screamed "What in the world are you doing trying to run?!"

Long story longer: The Beast felt the best of the shoes I tried on, and with some adjustments of the lacing pattern I was mostly able to get it to feel alright in the areas that were questionable.

Now it's just a matter of getting out there more than once or twice a week... (At least the days are starting to get longer.)

The Weekly-ish Update

Random tidbits once again:

  • I'm really pleased with the results of my latest slate tile project. Now I'm itching to switch into woodworking mode. I'm super excited about the new episodes of the New Yankee Workshop: Norm is building kitchen cabinets. I plan to eventually build cabinets for the mudroom and perhaps the garage (as practice for the potential "big job" of the actual kitchen). I think I'll go ahead and buy the DVDs.
  • I'm gradually building up my home entertainment system to match the new TV. I've gotten a fancy HDMI-switching receiver and a fairly cool iPod dock thingy. Next on my list is a TiVo HD. Then some surround speakers of some sort (I'm still living in stereo, folks...). And then maybe an Xbox 360, finally. (Still holding out for GTA4 on that one.)
  • On the fitness front, my weight dipped below 200 pounds for the first time in a while yesterday. It's back above today, but we'll assume that's temporary. I'm going to join a climbing gym soon, I think. A great new motivator I have is the Garmin Forerunner 205 I got for Xmas. It's not as sexy as the new 405 everyone is drooling over, but it's pretty darned cool. Of course, now I'm obsessed with tracking the slightest walk / jog / jaunt to the mail box. When The Wife teased me about it I quipped, "Are you kidding? I'm gonna track my trips to the bathroom from now on!"
  • Lots of interesting gossip about former coworkers and new coworkers. That's about all I'll say about that, I suppose.
  • I'm still an Obama cheerleader, though I don't generally like to air my politics on this site. I like the look of things right now.
  • Trent Reznor isn't exactly excited by the results of the Niggy Tardust experiment.
  • TV sucks almighty ass right now. I know there's a writer's strike going, but why aren't networks taking better advantage by replaying some of the good stuff we might have missed previously? Example: AMC's Mad Men? (Ooh! There's an encore starting Jan 21. Nice.) At least I always have books to read.

So yeah... What's new with you?

4-Hour Workweek: How to Be a Huckster in 4 Easy Steps

Anyone else reading The 4-Hour Workweek? I'm listening to the audiobook on my commute. It strikes me as incredibly meta. There's a definite undertone of

"Here's how you can make yourself and expert and sell information to other people -- just like I did with this book! (Sucker.)"

He also explains everything he's doing ("tricks of the trade"-wise) on the book's companion web site.

That said, it's also quite interesting, plenty entertaining, and disturbingly inspirational. (Lord help us...) It's really not as slimy as I'm making it sound, but it's in there.

Let me know your thoughts if you have read it, are reading it, or plan to read it. I actually think I might pick up the dead-tree version in order to cement my own feelings about it.

So... I guess it's recommended...?

Merry Ho Ho Ho!

Here's hoping everyone had a happy and fruitful holiday. I certainly did. Highlights:

  • My darling mother got me a solar powered atomic watch, so not only does it never need its battery changed, it never needs to be set either. This is timekeeping heaven for me. Now I just need to read the manual to figure out how to use its other functions. And of course, I need to get it sized waaay down for my girlish wrists.
  • The moms made out well: Mine got a cobalt blue Kitchen Aid mixer (she'd been eyeballing ours lately) and The Wife's got an iPod Nano (which is ridiculously small).
  • I got The Wife a Bella Umbrella. Without her realizing it, I noticed that she'd been talking about getting a parasol for the past year or so, so this was a home run for me. ;)
  • I also got my better half a Mac Mini, as her old iBook was having a hard time keeping up. That means I get to play with the iBook: So far I've reinstalled OS X 3 times and I plan to install Ubuntu as well (the third round with OS X was to get a partition for the linux).
  • As for me, I got some woodworking and home improvement accessories, some DVDs (namely two big time personal faves: Pete & Pete and The Greatest American Hero, and a CBC history of hockey that looks awesome) and lots of other stuff.

So yeah, materialistically, we all did pretty well. Better yet, though, we had some nice time off at home thanks to the blizzard, and yet we were mobile in time to make it down to my mom's house on Christmas Eve.

God bless us, every one, eh?

Call Me Waldo

Work is... um... aggravating/draining these days, and much to my surprise, I've had a bit of a social life in the after work hours lately. So... Yeah... Light on the posting. Nothing much going on worth reporting anyway. I have continued to post junk to in the mean time, though. You can spy those under the "Link Dump" tab.

I get to go to my first NHL playoff game tonight, though. Sadly, it may be to witness my Avs get swept by the Mighty Ducks.

For the record, my Viva El Papi KinTee got good reviews at last night's poker game.

Oh crap, I need another home loan!

The one thing holding me back from dropping far too much money on an HDTV set (and perhaps an update to my stereo/home theater) has been my TiVo. I'm just plain sold on the thing and as long as my TiVo doesn't do HDTV, neither do I. Well, that's going to change perhaps as soon as this year.

Key bits:

  • Dual tuner -- Record two programs at once!
  • CableCARD compatible (2.0 or 1.0 -- if you have 2.0 you only need one card for the dual tuner action)
  • Up to "300 hours" storage (I assume that's non-HDTV content)
  • An SATA port for adding a hot little external drive with no warantee-voiding hacking needed.

Damn, that sounds like everything I've wanted.

I guess I'm doomed to continue to be the guy with the iPod, the TiVo and the stupid car with manual locks.