Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A sad night for America, a sad night for the world

30 Rock.
30 Rock.
Boy, did the polling get it wrong.  How did it happen?  Four years ago, Fivethirtyeight predicted the election right down to the electoral map.  I have to hope that there has been some kind of election tampering, and after Bush v. Gore I wouldn't be surprised if the Republican Party financed all of it.  Any organization that would stretch democracy to the limits it already has certainly wouldn't be above the treasonous offense of tampering with our elections.

Donald John Trump is a menace to society.  He has no principles other than winning for the sake of winning.  He also has no ideology, either.  Think he cares about your guns?  He doesn't.  Think he cares about abortions?  He doesn't.  He used to be a Democrat.  He's on record saying Hillary's alright.

There are many things I worry about this oncoming presidency, but here are the top 3:
Democracy Plaza
Security is tight at Democracy Plaza.
  1. Nuclear war with North Korea.  You have a power-hungry egomaniac dictator who needs his ego stroked constantly.  And you also have Kim Jong-un.  I told my friend that if nuclear war does not break out between our two nations, my bar would have been surpassed.
  2. He bankrupts this country.  This border wall boondoggle is expensive and will prove itself to be useless if it ever comes to fruition.  But that alone, is not enough to bankrupt us.  I worry about another financial crisis, à la 2008.  But instead of putting together a financial package that puts people back to work, Trump and Republicans use it as an opportunity to drastically reduce taxes (on the rich, at least), gut entitlement programs, and cut all kinds of social safety nets.
  3. One or more scandals rock the White House.  For a man famous for not paying his debts, paying off people, and marital infidelity, something is bound to come out in these next four years that would rock his administration.  Now, I would happily take any scandal that prevents him from putting together a disastrous agenda for the United States, or removes him from power (even though I know that would mean a President Pence).  But what I worry is that he will rip apart the fabric of our country to save himself, stretching the law, lying, setting all kinds of precedents other presidents have dared not cross in his attempt to obstruct justice or silence his critics.
Democracy Plaza
A boom camera setup to photograph
sweeping views of the Rockefeller rink.
Hey, he's not inaugurated for a few more months.  And maybe he'll surprise us and become a good president.  But in the meantime, I will lament the loss of Hillary.  She's a victim of character assassination (four years of "Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi" and zero indictments), and between her husband and the Congressman from New York's 9th district, she's been screwed by two weiners.

Democracy Plaza
It is a beautiful place to be.  In a few
weeks, this space will play host to the
Rockefeller Center tree lighting.
I've scattered this post with pictures from Democracy Plaza, AKA Rockefeller Center in New York, which NBC networks use every four years for their election coverage.  The last time I was here was in 2004, when John Kerry lost to George W. Bush for a second time.  In 2008, I was at an IBEW hall, drowning my sorrows at the loss of my House candidate, whom I worked tirelessly for, while Barack Obama won.  (I don't remember where I was in 2012!  Probably at a client's site somewhere.)

The rink at Democracy Plaza
When I came here in 2004, all 50
states were turned blue or red by
people, skating out onto the ice and
physically changing out the tiles.  
I came here tonight expecting to cheer with my fellow New Yorkers, but left an agitated, angry mess.  I couldn't even stay until the end.  They haven't even called it yet; I imagine it will happen after midnight, but it's clear what's going to happen.

Most people on the subway in New York don't know each other, but there's always some kind of chatter.  On tonight's subway ride home to my apartment, you could hear a pin drop were it not for the clickety-clack of the 6 train.  I think we were all in the same haze of thought, and all wondering, "How could this happen?"

Here are the rest of the photos.  I've run out of things to say.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan
Khizr and Ghazala Khan are waiting behind the set tonight.
I assume they will be interviewed at some point.

A sign showing Hillary and Donald with 0 electoral votes, each
Back when the night was young.

A sign showing Hillary with 209 electoral votes and Donald with 228 electoral votes
When I left Democracy Plaza.
Crowd of spectators
A crowd of spectators awaits further news.
The mood was quite subdued when I left.

Friday, October 14, 2016

A perfect fall evening

Greetings from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Sometimes, all you need is a little fire, a little bourbon, and the (not so little) brother.

Fireplace, bourbon, and my feet up
Good bourbon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Steak, bitch

When traveling for work and the Manager in charge of expenses has is having a bad week, steak is what's for dinner.

Welcome to Buckhead, Atlanta's New York Prime steakhouse, an ages-old steakhouse that seems to exist out of time.  Where even the old fashioneds are old-fashioned.  I felt that I should need a smoking jacket to be allowed into this place.

Anyway, for a steakhouse that cares not for bullshit, I present a few pictures with less bullshit than most of my posts.  (Still some bullshit, because I need to make them uniquely mine.)

Bacon.  It's what's for dinner.
Porterhouse for two, for one?  Yes, please.
one large fry, one large onion ring, two pieces of steak
"Hi, can I get a Porterhouse, one large fry, and one large
onion ring?"
"Large fries, large onion rings...."
"No, one large fry, one large onion ring."

Saturday, September 17, 2016

I love my immersion circulator

One of my friends is a real steak-head.  I love throwing elaborate dinner parties with very complicated recipes, but one of my friends just wants steak.

So, if I'm gonna be making steak, I'm not gonna source just any steak; it's gonna be Wagyu.  And while I can get my hands on Snake River Farms wagyu -- still the record holder since 2010 for the best thing I've ever put in my mouth -- that's going on my dinner plate.

Unfortunately, when each steak costs $45 (and that's way cheap compared to what you'd pay for it in a restaurant), I don't want to screw these up.  So I throw them in a hot water bath with an immersion circulator and sous vide them until they're perfectly at temperature.

This picture makes me weep.  Be sure to click it to see the really big version.

Just look at the picture, here:  An ordinary cooking, either on a cast iron or a professional flat top  or salamander would carve a brown layer deep into the steak, leaving a much smaller area of medium-rare pink.  Here, it's a simple, thin layer followed by the delicate Wagyu ribeye.  I love my immersion circulator.

Late summer salad.
Apple pie, pumpkin martini.
Anyway, the point of this post was to put in a good word for my immersion circulator, but since you asked, here's the menu I served, and some pictures.  The turnip purée made it underneath the steak, so it was camera shy, today.

Mesclun, mission fig, persimmon, endive, feta, cranberry, walnut, honey-shallot vinaigrette

Molasses, sage, whipped crème fraîche

Steak, bitch

For Dave
[Teditor's note:  This was on a previous dinner party menu.  I don't usually like making the same thing twice, but it was requested.  Should've done the same for the steak, but I like its current line.]

Homemade vanilla ice cream, pumpkin martini

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Corning Museum of Glass

If you ever find yourself in Western (upstate?  Not sure which is more appropriate, here) New York, stop in Corning, the former home of Steuben Glass, where nothing stands of it except the Corning Museum of Glass.

Dale Chihuly "Fern Green Tower"
Dale Chihuly
sculpture right in the
main entrance.
Opened in 1951 as part of the Steuben Glass factory, the Corning Museum of Glass is a large, glass (surprised?) building that showcases glassblowing and the process of making glass, art, as well as historical uses and collections of glass.  You know you're in for a treat when Dale Chihuly's 15-foot "Fern Green Tower" greets you.  Built in 1999 and reconfigured in 2013 to be even bigger, Fern Green Tower comprises 712 hand-made pieces, attached to a steel structure.  Tiny pieces of Chihuly artwork sell for thousands.  So, don't lean against this thing unless you have deep pockets.

Of course, the best part of the museum is the gift shop, where every time I go I can't help but buy something I totally don't need.

Enough already!  Let's get to the pictures:

Glassblowing demonstration
A glassblowing demonstration.  
Glass blood cells
Blood cells art.

Fruit platters in glass stacked on top of each other
A four-story still life.

Chihuly artwork
Another Chihuly piece.
Hershey's Kisses?

This is called "Soma, 2015".  Borosilicate glass rods, fused and
flameworked, polymer, and LED lighting.

I've got one just like this at home!

This is "Ghost Walk under Infinite Darkness".  Blown and
mirrored glass, fused, hot-worked, and cut murrine cane,
applied dichroic glass, two-way mirrored box, wood pedestal,
LED light.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Edgar Mitchell (1930 - 2016)

Yesterday marked the 45th anniversary of the landing of Apollo 14, which visited the Fra Mauro Highlands, the original target of the ill-fated Apollo 13.  Unfortunately, her sole surviving crewman passed one day before.
You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a bitch." - Edgar Mitchell
Almost no one knows the name "Edgar Mitchell", but he was one of only 12 humans in Earth's history to have set foot on the moon. With only seven surviving people who have walked on the face of another astronomical body, I wonder if that number will reach zero before it grows again.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Ramos gin fizz

Dear lord, this cocktail is good.  I don't know who this Ramos guy is, but where have you been all my life?

Having only discovered this in early 2014, it's amazing that it's my favorite cocktail.

If you can see by the ingredients list that follows, this cocktail is a pain in the ass to make.  Ask a bartender to make it on a busy Saturday night, and they'll either tell you to fuck off, or be careful for any bartender phlegm mixed up in that fizz.

So, I had to learn how to make it myself.  Actually, learning how to make it is not really that hard...just follow the steps, like anything else.  The hard part is casually keeping all the ingredients in stock at any given time the craving hits you.  (And what the hell is orange blossom water, anyway?  Who even knew this ingredient existed?  At least rose water gets used in baklava, so there's a chance you'd know it.  Who's making orange baklava?)

Anyway, here's the ingredients list.  No need for instructions:  Just shake it all up with ice and pour it into a Tom Collins glass.  (Luckily in my apartment, all of my drinking glasses are either pint glasses, double old fashioned glasses, or Collins glasses.  You know you're an alcoholic when....)

Ramos Gin Fizz
  • ¼ cup (2 oz.) gin
  • 1 dash (3 to 4 drops) orange blossom water*
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tbsp (½ oz.) half-and-half
  • 1 tbsp (½ oz.) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp (½ oz.) fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp (½ oz.) simple syrup
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 2 tbsp (1 oz.) seltzer