Self Aggrandizement Alert + Some Kitchen Goodness In Aid Of A Friend/Open Thread, Also Too

First — a head’s up to another one of my internet-radio conversations.  Tomorrow at 6 p.m EST I’ll be talking (live!) to David George Haskell.  David is a biologist teaching at the University of the South.  He blogs here, but the proximate reason for the interview is the publication of his book, The Forest Unseen.

The Forest Unseen is simply one of the best natural history cum science books I’ve read in years.  David’s concept — in less adept hands it would have been a conceit — was to take a single meter-in-diameter patch of old growth forest and visit it over the course of a year.

Paul_Cézanne_-_Interior_of_a_forest_-_Google_Art_Project

From those visits to what he called “the mandala” he drew essay after essay, pretty much all of them built on the idea of making a practice out of observation.  Most of the chapters in the book begin with a single point of entry into the life of the mandala, and then Haskell’s writing flows and leaps as he finds his veins of connection.  Along the way, quite gently, he leads his readers into an increasingly sophisticated understanding both of natural history side of things:  what’s there, what’s happening in that patch of forest (and through that one little scrap of land into the beyond, of course); and of the science involved, ideas from biology and ecology.  You learn a lot — I did — and it’s not until much later that you (I) realize just what a rich lode of fact and concept we’ve just taken on.

In all, a really worthwhile book — not a bad choice, if  I dare say it, to stick in somebody’s stocking in a few days.  (BTW — for more on the project, check out Jim Gorman’s article from October, published in the Grey Lady.)

Now to the kitchen goodness.  Fair warning:  what follows is a plug for something a good friend of mine is trying to do.  If you aren’t into knives, kitchens, or cooking, and/or don’t want to read about what is at bottom (and top, actually) an attempt at business, then please, get off the bus now.

OK?

So, back at the dawn of time, my friend Adam — Adam Simha — graduated from MIT rather at loose ends.   He found himself more interested in craft than formal science or engineering.  He bounced around some kitchens in town, and then found himself really looking at the tools chefs use, and then figuring out that he might have some skills and knowledge and sheer desire to see what he could do in that arena.

The result has been a number of years developing himself into an exceptional knife maker.  You can see what he does here — check out the custom knives he’s made for chef-clients, and see also the ready-made line for the rest of us.  After some years of nerving myself up to it, I finally bought one of the latter — the 10″ chefs’ knife with the black rubber (Pedro) handle.  It is, simply, the best knife I’ve ever owned, by far.

How better?  It starts sharper than the decent knives I’ve used for decades; it holds its edge longer; it sharpens more easily, and being made of better steel than any other knife I own (a Wursthof and a Sabatier for chef’s knives), it is thinner, harder, and is easier in my hands to manipulate than any big knife has a right to be.

And yeah, it costs a fair amount.  Not an utterly crazy number for something that, properly cared for, should outlast me  — Adam’s prices for his ready-mades fall in the middle of what a yuppie cooking store charges for its cutlery.  And hell, I’ve been promising myself a really good knife since we first elected Obama, and finally I just decided that this purchase was going to be my victory cigar for the re-election celebration.

An aside:  I’m not a great person with my hands, but I purely love the knowledge and history built into any good tool — plus the fact that better tools make the jobs they’re designed for easier to do.

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Still_Life_with_Fish_Scallions_and_Large_Knife_-_Totoya_Hokkei

I learned this first when I started working with good camera-people when I was just getting going as a documentary film-maker.  One of those DPs, an older guy (Bob Elfstrom,* for those of you in the business), took me aside and made sure I understood how and why he used each of the bits and pieces he needed to make his images.  Great training!  Throughout he drummed into me the necessity, the almost religious obligation, to use the best tools to do a job one could possibly acquire.  And he was right, at least in my experience.  It’s because of him that I would hire or buy really good optics when I needed to —  leaving me fewer options on location than I would have liked, sometimes, but better, in ways I could see on screen.  And as I started to cook I found I didn’t like gadgets very much, but I truly valued a good knife.  Those of you who cook (and that’s most of us, I guess) know what it’s like when you get one that fits and balances and that takes and holds an edge without fighting you for it.  That’s the context in which I’ve come to Adam’s knives, and that’s why I am posting this to try and help him realize an ambition.

What Adam’s doing now is to take what he’s developed as he’s built knives for his custom clients to come up with versionss for a larger audience.  There are a fair number of costs that go with that ambition, mostly for a build out of his shop, and he’s launched an Indigogo campaign to try to raise the necessary.  He’s got a video up there that explains what he’s trying to do better than I can.

I’m a little diffident about putting this up.  A buddy of mine is trying to get a new business off the ground, and I’m using this community platform to spread the word.  But I guess the usual answer applies. Don’t bother with all this stuff if you aren’t interested.

But even if you have no time to cook, no money for what is indeed a luxury, or just own every last bit of kitchen gear you, your kids and their kids will ever use, still, if you’d like to get just a sense of what a wonderful obsessive does when unleashed on metal-working shop, check the stuff out; if nothing else it’s fine kitchen porn.

*Among much else, Elfstrom directed and appeared as Jesus in Johnny Cash’s rarely-seen feature film Gospel Road, and he was one of the Maysles brothers’ cameramen at Altamont.  Hell of a guy to take out on the road for one’s very first film.  I’m deeply grateful to him and to John Else (my other first-cameraman) for the generosity with which they made sure I didn’t do anything irrecoverably stupid — all the while teaching me a whole lot of stuff they don’t necessarily cover in film school.  I will say, though that even some jobs later it still came as something of a shock when Al Maysles showed up (unannounced) at the end of a day’s shooting in New York.  It had been a long day, and something of a fraught one, and it was literally the last set up on the final shoot for that particular film.  I was seriously ready for the bar.  But there he was, Mr. Maysles — who, it must be said, understood exactly the state I was in (had been there once or twice himself, I reckon). In the event, he was gentle, encouraging and blessedly brief in his hellos.

Images:  Paul Cezanne, Interior of a Forest, before 1890.

Totoya Hokkei, Still Life with Fish, Scallions and Large Knife, c. 1830






88 replies
  1. 1
    Mnemosyne says:

    I finished the Beware of Dragons hat for my niece and am now contemplating making the matching mittens, though I’m worried I don’t have enough yarn left.

    Winter has definitely arrived in Southern California — it’s supposed to get into the 30s tonight.

  2. 2
    Maude says:

    I bought a paring knife once and as I took it out of the package, it stabbed my wrist. I tossed it in the garbage right away.
    Good chopping knives make it easier to chop and less likely that you will cut yourself.
    My hand coordination is very sad.

  3. 3
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Winter has definitely arrived in Southern California — it’s supposed to get into the 30s tonight.

    That would normally earn an F-U very much from us New Englanders, but as I write this (at 11:30 p.m. local) it’s about 42 degrees. Hah!

  4. 4
    srv says:

    I feel empty without a 10″ chef’s knife.

    Perhaps we can all contribute to a fund to buy John Cole a set, and live vicariously through his superior cooking skills, since he did that in the Army.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    People really underestimate desert weather in the winter — it may be warm during the day, but the temperature will easily plummet 30 or 40 degrees once the sun goes down.

    Of course, when relatives visit from the icy land of Chicago, they’re usually walking around in short sleeves at night while I’m bundled up in my winter coat, so my blood may have thinned.

  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, since this is an open thread, I’ll put in another plug for a Christmas movie that’s been unearthed by TCM for its first re-airing in over 40 years, Carol for Another Christmas.

    G and I caught the last half hour the other night and added it to our Tivo list after about 10 minutes. It’s exactly as talky as you would expect a TV movie written by Rod Serling and directed by Joseph Mankiewicz to be, but it was a fascinating take on the Scrooge story (paid for by the Xerox Corporation to promote the United Nations!) Definitely worth checking it out when it re-airs on Saturday since it probably won’t show up again until next year.

  8. 8
    Ruckus says:

    Tom
    Good tools are always worth it. Bad tools can be used and can make great things but good tools work so much better and easier. Was a mold maker/specialty machinist for over 30 yrs, your friend is using some good steels in those knives. Given what it takes to work those materials the prices don’t sound out of line at all.

  9. 9
    NotMax says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Watched it when it aired the other day. Do vaguely remember seeing it when it first aired in 1964.

    Interesting as a period piece, but heavy-handed as hell. The redeeming factor was the roster of stellar actors (Robert Shaw was amazing) appearing in it. Plus I’m a sucker for almost anything with Sterling Hayden in it.

    Airs again at 4:15 p.m. (ET) on Dec. 22.

  10. 10
    Poopyman says:

    Life’s too short to use crap tools.

    Most stainless isn’t formulated to make and keep an edge, it’s made to be stainless. I’m the woodworker in the house and Mrs. P is the cook, but she likes the old knives I pick up for her. And I’m the sharpener, so I know they hold an edge. I’ll have to look into the MKS knives.

    And this is the blog that periodically has threads to pimp folks’ crafts and assorted skills, so don’t sweat it.

  11. 11
    Karen in GA says:

    Also also wik, I got the Pets of Balloon Juice calendar today! Come August, you’ll see my Smudge and my Elwood (the Elwood shot’s a two-fer — the black and white lump behind him is sleeping Phoebe).

    Oddly, my Phoebe is on the January page twice — one of her pics is labeled “Zoe,” though, so it appears that spot rightfully belonged to another kitty. This means that Phoebe has become an inadvertent usurper, but a usurper nonetheless. Add that to the fact that I can’t actually prove she was born in the US, and I think she may one day become our first feline President.

    I, for one, will welcome our new cuddly overlord.

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NotMax:

    While we were watching it, G turned to me and said, “Aaron Sorkin is our generation’s Rod Serling.”

    And he’s right — the only real difference between Carol for Another Christmas and any random scene from “The West Wing” or “The Newsroom” was that they weren’t walking-and-talking in Carol. So I guess the people who can’t stand the talkiness of Sorkin won’t like Carol much, either.

  13. 13
    slag says:

    Sooo…I rarely do this, but I’m in need of some advice. I’m in the early stages of creating an NPO dedicated to a social justice issue (specifically, helping poor kids learn stuff). Conundrum: I hate our motherfucking low-class socio-economic system, and/because creating an NPO puts me directly at the mercy of the motherfucking MOTU for funding (our motherfucking asinine political system means government has no money).

    My question is this: When it’s time to solicit funds, is it appropriate to begin my letters with “Listen up, you money-grubbing overprivileged, undertaxed douchebags”, or should I just stick with my prior plan of punching them in the face and stealing their wallets?

    Seriously, this entire process (and my own impotence to change it) has me seething with rage. Is there a “Dear BJ” I can write to for help?

  14. 14
    Violet says:

    My internet modem is down. Was working fine a little bIt ago and now its blinking red and no internet. Typing this on my phone. Any ideas as to what happened? Reboot didn’t help. Unplugged and then replugged in and turned on again. Still not working.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Violet says:

    @slag: Punching in the face and stealing wallets is generally not recommended unless yor name is Robin Hood. As for funding, have you tried Kickstarter or something like thar?

  17. 17
    Violet says:

    @slag: yes cable modem

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @slag: yes cable modem

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    @slag:

    Well, the downside to the “punching them in the face” plan is that you’re really going to want an ongoing funding source, and you’re only going to be able to pull that once on each MOTU. (Plus, really, who carries cash these days?) So, unfortunately, you’re probably going to have to form a relationship with some kind of corporate-sponsored foundation.

    Do you have a friend who’s a good writer who would be able to create the dignified begging letter that you’re going to need? It’s essentially going to be a grant proposal, so maybe you know someone at a university who has experience writing them who can help.

  20. 20
    MikeJ says:

    @Violet: You either have no service or a dead modem. Either way, you need to check with your provider. If you have no signal, they can fix that. If you have a bad modem, they’ll need the mac of any replacement modem you plug in, whether you buy a new one or rent one from them.

  21. 21
    slag says:

    @Violet: Could be lots of things. Bad modem, cable out, etc. Maybe: http://customer.comcast.com/he.....leshooting

  22. 22
    Violet says:

    @MikeJ: I’ll have to call in the mornimg. I can see the modem from where I am and for a bit it stopped blinking red and went green and then went red and green intermittently. Maybe it is starting to fail?

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Violet:

    Sometimes if there’s a widespread service outage, they’ll put a message on their customer service line even if it’s outside of customer service hours. Or, if you can navigate to their website on your phone, sometimes there’s a “service status” link somewhere.

  24. 24
    slag says:

    @Violet: Good question! Totally thought about Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc. Still thinking about it. Those options would at least put the motherfucking socio-economic system problem into the more abstract form with which I prefer to deal. But sadly, I currently see them working best for short-term situations or one-time events. I haven’t yet seen them as having broader potential for me or my community. Could be wrong though. I’ll keep revisiting those.

  25. 25
    Mandalay says:

    Well I was assuming that Mitt Romney couldn’t lose the “Slimiest Bastard Of 2012” award, but the CEO of Instagram is a late contender.

    Instagram, the wildly popular online photo-sharing company, just made its 100 million-plus user base very angry. On Monday, Instagram released an “update” to its terms of service and privacy policies that will go into effect Jan. 16.

    Buried among the usual paragraphs of legalese was this remarkable paragraph:

    “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/.....129689.php

    In other words, Instagram is changing the terms of service on their gazillion users: they claim the right to use all information you have given them in any way they see fit, including fucking with your privacy and selling your photos, and if they make money out of that you get nothing.

    I wish nothing but misery and failure on those running Instagram. Slimy bastards all.

  26. 26
    Soonergrunt says:

    Oh, the winger bullshitters are trying the stunt where they wait until a thread is well and truly dead and then comment in it so they can go back whence they came with stories “I called that lib a liar and nobody challenged me! I’m EPIC! LAWL!”
    And of course, if the thread has had no activity for more than 24 hours, the filters auto-cage any new comments as likely spam. Two new ones in John’s original thread about taped magazines.
    As one of my old Sergeants-Major who loved watching “In Living Color” liked to say, “Homie don’t play dat.”

  27. 27
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mandalay:

    They’ve already had to back down. Took less than 24 hours for them to flip-flop.

  28. 28
    Yutsano says:

    @Soonergrunt: Oh fess up. You hit that delete button and enjoyed every second of it. :)

  29. 29
    gwangung says:

    @slag: Being a fundraiser for both very large and very tiny groups, the best bet for long term existence to to cultivate individuals. Have a broad and deep donor base. There’s no money in grants, either private, corporate or governmental. As for special events—ack! Ptui!

    Remember, not all rich people are MOTU….there are quiet folks, the millionaire next door type, who run needed businesses like rock quarries and the like. Not all of them are asses.

  30. 30
    slag says:

    @Mnemosyne: All true. And I do have people who can help. But I’m not big on the “see no evil” approach to responsibility, so, I’m afraid the primary suckup will have to be me. I’m still holding out for an alternative, but at this point, it looks like I’m going to have to start seeing these douchebags as people. Motherfucker!

  31. 31
    slag says:

    @gwangung: You speak the truth. On all counts. Can I hire you?

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    @slag:

    If it helps, keep in mind that the people you’ll be dealing with have already gone through a thought process where they went, “Hmm, I seem to have more money than I really need. Maybe I should look around and see if there are people I can give some of it to who need it more than I do.” So really all they’ll need to be convinced of is that your project is a worthy one to give to, not that they should be giving at all.

    ETA: Also, too, if it’s the kind of project that you’re going to need volunteers for, be sure to check with your local giant evil corporations and see if they have volunteer programs for their employees where you can make volunteer opportunities available. You can find some good people that way, and they’ll get rewards from their employer for volunteering. Win win!

  33. 33
    Mandalay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Ah yes, you are correct. I see Instagram is now making this absurd claim:

    It was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing.

    Yet their original language was very specific on the point of selling users’ photos for money. So now Mitt Romney has serious competition, both for flip-flopping and brazen lying.

    Fuck Instagram.

  34. 34
    gwangung says:

    @slag: Well, I tried the free lance bit, and found I wasn’t cut out for it. All I do now is give out lots of free advice (which is worth what you pay for it).

    @Mnemosyne: What I’ve found out is that there are a fair number of people that you hit up who’ll give a bit because they like you or they sorta like the project you’re working on. But for some people, what you do just punches a button. It becomes a passion for them—and they’ll give you more than you (OR they) thought they could.

    (Now, you can’t MAKE a person adopt you as a passion project, but you can certainly help a person find their passion. If it’s not you, ah, we’ll [though they WILL appreciate the help]. But if it is….)

  35. 35
    gwangung says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    ETA: Also, too, if it’s the kind of project that you’re going to need volunteers for, be sure to check with your local giant evil corporations and see if they have volunteer programs for their employees where you can make volunteer opportunities available. You can find some good people that way, and they’ll get rewards from their employer for volunteering. Win win!

    Huh. Starbucks used to do some REAL generous matching of volunteer time with actual dollars. Not sure if they still do it…BUt I know Boeing, Microsoft, etc. have generous matching dollar programs.

  36. 36
    slag says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    If it helps, keep in mind that the people you’ll be dealing with have already gone through a thought process where they went, “Hmm, I seem to have more money than I really need. Maybe I should look around and see if there are people I can give some of it to who need it more than I do.”

    This is a very good point. And I have to confess that at least some portion of my rage against the system is directly connected to my own place in it. Anyone trying to do anything useful in life is automatically in a place of privilege. And it’s all continuum from there. Nonetheless, it’s still an outrageous situation we’ve managed ourselves into. And, while I can’t help but hold the farther end of the continuum more responsible for it, I recognize that none of us is blameless.

    In summary: We’re all motherfuckers now!

  37. 37
    Soonergrunt says:

    I am currently on the phone with the dumbest smart person in the fucking world.
    I think when they go to med school, they crowd out all the non-med information, and not only can they no longer accomplish basic human function tasks (like logging into a computer) but they lose the ability to take simple fucking instructions.

  38. 38
    gwangung says:

    @Soonergrunt: Yes, I knew that. Half my dorm was pre-med…I saw the process first hand.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gwangung:

    I’ve never participated enough to garner good rewards, but the Giant Evil Corporation I work for has a major volunteer program and also will match donations to approved organizations.

    They also try to keep up with social controversies. One of my coworkers was worried this year because he remembered that the GEC’s Adopt-A-Family program used to be sponsored by the Salvation Army and thought that was still the case, but I was able to reassure him that the company had quietly dropped them a few years ago because of the controversy over their discrimination against GLBT people and switched to using a local social services agency. He was very relieved.

    (I try not to use the name of the GEC I work for, but our corporate logo features a member of the rodent family and our mission is to warp the minds of children from an early age.)

  40. 40
    slag says:

    @gwangung:

    What I’ve found out is that there are a fair number of people that you hit up who’ll give a bit because they like you or they sorta like the project you’re working on. But for some people, what you do just punches a button. It becomes a passion for them—and they’ll give you more than you (OR they) thought they could.

    I have to say that, while I’m extremely put off by the broader system, the enthusiasm, generosity, and community-mindedness of certain individuals within it perpetually astounds me. The people that I meet are hardcore problem-solvers. I’ve not once been put off by a single person. Even people that I email out of nowhere. It’s impressive.

  41. 41
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Mnemosyne: East coast or West coast division?

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Soonergrunt:

    West. Which is why I can be here at 2:00 am Eastern time on a work night.

  43. 43
    👽 Martin says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    People really underestimate desert weather in the winter — it may be warm during the day, but the temperature will easily plummet 30 or 40 degrees once the sun goes down.

    Easily. We camp in Joshua Tree a lot. 70s during the day in Dec/Jan isn’t uncommon, but within 60 minutes of the sun setting it’ll hit 20-30. With effectively no humidity and no cloud cover to hold the ground heat, it just ‘whoosh’ straight up as soon as that solar radiation stops.

    If you’re unprepared, it’ll really kick you in the ass. And with the big temperature change, it’s not unusual for the wind to go up to 11. One particularly windy night my son and I stuck it out, seeming alone among tenters as most of the others we saw had blown away. The wind whipped under the tent so hard it lifted him completely off the ground while he was laying there. Probably weighed about 60 lbs at the time (he was about 8 or 9).

    But everyone should try it if they get the chance. Go out with a decent star chart and you’ll never believe what you can see on a moonless night. If you give your eyes a good hour to acclimate, you can watch the satellites track across the sky without binoculars. They just drift across nice and steady. The sky seriously looks just like this. No wonder ancient civilizations created so many god/sky myths. How could you not?

  44. 44
    slag says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    (I try not to use the name of the GEC I work for, but our corporate logo features a member of the rodent family and our mission is to warp the minds of children from an early age.)

    Haha! On my last day at one of my GEC companies, my team took me to a place that meets that description. It goes without saying that hijinks ensued.

  45. 45
    slag says:

    @👽 Martin: The night sky is pretty much the only thing I miss about the desert. Don’t miss the wind. Or bugs.

  46. 46
    Yutsano says:

    @slag: It is indeed a fun place. It’s more fun when it’s free. 200 band geeks running all over with free admission is quite the experience.

  47. 47
    Calouste says:

    @Mandalay: What I don’t understand about this, and also not about Facebook’s (who now own Instagram) plans to put streaming video ads in people’s feeds, is why they don’t roll out a subscription plan before they start pissing off their users. They are going to roll it out eventually IMO, but they will have lost a bunch of users by then.

  48. 48
    Calouste says:

    Oh, second thing I don’t understand: the NRA has said they are going to make an announcement on Friday. The last working day before Christmas for a lot of people. Unless they really make a concession, even if it is a largely symbolic one, gun control advocates will be talking about how “the families in Newtown who have to have Christmas without their children are getting a lump of coal from the NRA”. The timing and optics are just so bad, they could have easily waited until next week. Is Frank Luntz on vacation?

  49. 49
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    People really underestimate desert weather in the winter — it may be warm during the day, but the temperature will easily plummet 30 or 40 degrees once

    I suspect that some people who go to Las Vegas in January get a rude surprise at night.

    And, here in the Bay Area, it will probably drop below freezing in many locations. It’s already 36 at my weather station.

  50. 50
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    Good basic kitchen tools are helpful but they won’t take the place of skills. Too many specialized tools (I’m looking at you, McMegan) will prevent you from developing skills. But suitable knives are the bedrock upon which everything else is built.

  51. 51
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    People really underestimate desert weather in the winter — it may be warm during the day, but the temperature will easily plummet 30 or 40 degrees once the sun goes down.

    Elevation can have a lot to do with it. The place I stayed most of the week was only 20 degrees north of the equator, but at 7,000 feet. Days were hot but at 6:00 am you were in a hat, gloves and coat.

  52. 52
    👽 Martin says:

    @slag: No bugs in winter. Often extra wind though. But I’ll take wind over scorpions.

  53. 53
    calabi-yeow says:

    Two comments about David George Haskell and his work:

    1) I heard an interview with him on NPR one morning. My short impression is that he’s a scientist with the heart and eyes of a poet. I’ll be buying his book for my own stocking.

    2) When an individual has the time and inclination for studying a square-meter patch of earth over a year’s time and writing detailed essays about that study, then the larger society which harbors that individual is fortunate. Scratching around in the dirt used to be for the immediate purpose of finding food…..bare survival, in other words. The growing anti-science/anti-intellectualism trend in a certain segment of our society is damn concerning for more reasons than the obvious ones; devaluing scientific and artistic inquiry risks our devolving into a survival-mode society, whether metaphorically or literally. If more of the paranoid survivalists would study a patch of ground in their neck of the woods, instead of building their bunkers, militias and arsenals, they might discover that their delusional fears of threats to their survival would evaporate. (On the other cynical hand, shipping them off to Yemen or Syria might effect a similar epiphany as to the salubriousness of their life here.)

  54. 54
    Bago says:

    After a completely crappy week last week, with the girlfriend getting laid off and diagnosed with cancer, today has been amazing.
    I got hired at Microsoft to work on windows.
    A fellow I know had his second book published today.
    http://rameznaam.com/nexus/
    I did some networking for the W3C acessibility initiative.
    http://www.w3.org/standards/we.....essibility
    And I went to a Developer conference with a friend and set him up with local companies.

    Merry Crristmas, io Saturnalia, Sweet Solstice and Happy Hannakuh.

    Too bad the world ends in a few days.

  55. 55
    Calouste says:

    @Bago: Well, congratulations, future colleague.

  56. 56
    Bago says:

    @Calouste: hey, I may have been a past colleague as well! What group are you in?

  57. 57
    👽 Martin says:

    @Calouste: Companies that know how to make money, make money from day one. Making money takes practice – and you learn along the way. Better to piss off 100 users while you learn early on than 10,000,000 if you wait until the end.

    But this is why I don’t use so-called free services. There are no free services. Google is selling your life to advertisers. Facebook is as well. Instagram is now trying to figure out how as well. Eventually every free service will get their money out of you in some way. Best case, they just show you ads. Worst case… well…

    The way around this problem is to find services that get their revenues primarily from subscriptions. If they screw up like this, they directly lose money – and as a result, they tend to not screw up like this. Pay the $50/year, avoid the aggravation – the terms of service tend to be really straightforward.

  58. 58
    Yutsano says:

    @Bago: I declare this frabjousness! :) Now hopefully the girlfriend can go over to SCCA and get some good care for herself.

  59. 59
    Calouste says:

    @Bago: Windows, specifically Engineering Systems. Do you know which part of Windows you’re getting hired in?

  60. 60
    Raven says:

    The fish and knife picture goes well with my redfish skelatonization project!

  61. 61
    Bago says:

    @Calouste: Apparently the powershell team. Square brackets represent!

  62. 62
    Bago says:

    @👽 Martin: From a philosophic perspective, everything you do leaks signal. The photons bouncing off of your body, the changes in air pressure squeezed out of your lungs, the DNA sloshing about beneath your belt, and the packets flitting about from router to router in the tubes. We are all glorious fountains of data, for those who wish to partake. The cost of sensing these streams of data is declining rapidly as our ability to store, index, and ultimately search it improves, meaning that it will be used more frequently.

    Privacy is an opt in condition, not a default state.

  63. 63
    Raven says:

    @Bago: Goddamn, pretty deep for 5:51 est.

  64. 64
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Inspired by the tale of Mr. Levenson’s friend and his efforts to get an enterprise off the ground, I went over to Kickstarter and poked around to see what I could see.

    I found one fledgling company that disturbed me. They sold seeds for an “urban survival kit.” It’s all hermetically sealed, etc. to store against Doomsday or something. They probably deliver what they promise but the whole thing is based on the assumption that non-gardeners would be able to grow their own food [and harvest it before they starve]. The gardeners already have seeds, etc. and don’t need to buy the little kit.

    Growing your own food is hard work. Subsistence farmers are usually not fat and their children are frequently skinny.

  65. 65
    JPL says:

    @Raven: It’s going to get cold. The spring flowers that are sprouting are going to freeze. ohno

  66. 66
    bemused says:

    Oh gawd. Morning Joe is being very snotty about Hilary not delivering Benghazi report herself.

  67. 67
    Raven says:

    @JPL: Yup, did I post the camellia and xmas light shot? My bride is 55 today!

    eta and it’s going to be almost 70 today. I’m off for 2 1/2 weeks so there’s gonna be come oil changes done around here!

  68. 68
    JPL says:

    @bemused: Did he mention the access that Petraeus gave civilians to information? Washington Post link
    The Washington Post also has a hit piece on Hagel that’s not worth a read.

  69. 69
  70. 70
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Raven:

    Happy birthday to The Bride! She’s a mere young’un.

  71. 71
    JPL says:

    @Raven: If the turkey was armed, he might be alive today. I just glad they didn’t shoot it on the porch. ick

  72. 72
    bemused says:

    @JPL:

    Ha, ha, doubt it. Joe was saying things such as a football player gets injured in the 1st quarter but is back out on the field by the 3rd. He was so close to saying Hilary was faking…you just know he wanted to in the worst way.

  73. 73
    MikeJ says:

    Ugh. Lie in bed 137% awake, squeezing eyes shut, no sleep. Get up, sit down at computer, overwhelmingly tired. Repeat.

    I remember a day last week when I slept more than 5 hours. Good times. Not more than 2 at a stretch since.

    Ever read code you’ve written with no sleep? It usually runs, and somehow gets the job done, but how is anybody’s guess.

  74. 74
    bemused says:

    @Bago:

    If reading our auras could benefit them, they’d be trying to do that too.

    @Linda Featheringill:

    It’s startling to look at some photos of my immigrant settler grandparents with their children. Subsistence farming to feed themselves definitely did not produce chubby folks. They all look thin and gaunt, the parents looking much older than they were. Tough times.

  75. 75
    WereBear says:

    @Mnemosyne: So appreciate that! I am ON ALERT and will be watching it on the 22nd!

    Big Rod Serling fan that I am.

  76. 76
    JPL says:

    Luckovich’s cartoon is about freedom. I hope that the AJC uses this for the Pulitzer because it does define freedom as it exists in our country. link

  77. 77
    Anya says:

    @JPL: Just read the piece, very disturbing. I hope in the coming four years President Obama puts some effort into changing the military culture. It looks like the generals are a bit on the wingnut side. The hold the wingnut security tink tanks and the security contractors have on generals must be addressed.

  78. 78
    Raven says:

    @Linda Featheringill: She doesn’t feel that way at the therapy clinic for her back this morning!

  79. 79
    JPL says:

    @Anya: The Washington Post hopes to keep the neocons in power. link

    Dana Milbank has a decent article about the Kristol already painting Hagel as anti-semitic.

  80. 80
    Steeplejack says:

    @MikeJ:

    Do you know why you have insomnia? Has it happened before?

    I had insomnia only once, when a little startup I was in was cratering. Not good times.

  81. 81
    JPL says:

    The NRA is going to announce suggestions tomorrow to combat executions by assault weapons tomorrow. My guess is they will support mental health care and the formation of a commission.
    They might even suggest taxation of violent video games because video games kill people.

  82. 82
    Schlemizel says:

    @Anya:

    Ain’t gonna happen. For 30 years (as far as I know, maybe longer) the wingnuts have been making a particular effort to stock the military academy with little wingnuts. Not every cadet/midshipman/flunky is a wingnut but a lot of them are. You catch wind of this when you hear about how they treat not fundys.

    Once inside they make sure their wingnut brothern get the plum assignments that lead to promotion. This insidious take over of the DoD has progressed to the point I doubt there are many non-wingnuts wearing more than a single star

  83. 83
    Ash Can says:

    @JPL: But above all, they’ll say that all our problems would be solved by MOAR GUNZ, in the hands of moar fine upstandin’ law-abidin’ ‘Murrikans.

  84. 84

    I don’t think “freedom” means what the right-wingers think it means.

    That is all.

  85. 85
    Amir Khalid says:

    TIME has named its Person of The Year: Barack Obama, Architect of The New America.

  86. 86
    magurakurin says:

    @RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist:

    The place I stayed most of the week was only 20 degrees north of the equator, but at 7,000 feet

    Otavalo, Ecuador? or are you in Kenya?

    I lived for a time in Quito. Cold as shit there at night, but toasty warm at midday. Best starry night I ever saw was there as well. On the slopes of Cotopaxi as we ascended just after midnight. It wasn’t a new moon, but still amazing at that altitude.

  87. 87
    debg says:

    @Mnemosyne: Please to share. If you’re on ravelry, join the BJ Forum and add photos. I’ve been doing cowls lately but am getting a little bored with them.

  88. 88
    300baud says:

    @slag:

    Seriously, this entire process (and my own impotence to change it) has me seething with rage. Is there a “Dear BJ” I can write to for help?

    You should decide which problem you want to tackle now: A) helping poor kids learn stuff, B) our motherfucking low-class socio-economic system, or C) this entire process (of funding non-profits). All are valid, and all are hard. If you go after more than one of them, you’ll just spend a lot of time getting nowhere.

    Assuming you stick with A, your goal is to find allies. Some of your allies will have more time than money; some the reverse. If you’d like to work with the latter, you’ll have to stop tarring all people with money with the same brush. Poverty is not a virtue, and wealth is not automatically a sign of moral corruption.

    If there is some group of potential donors you’d rather not work with, just don’t. Taking money from people you hate isn’t sustainable. Think about the organizations you have donated to. You do it because you like them and what they do, yes? With infinite time and skill, you’d go help ’em out. But they’re better placed to solve the problem, so you give them some money. You like them, they like you, you everybody’s happy. If you thought they thought you were a jerk, you’d find somebody else to support.

Comments are closed.