Monday, December 3, 2012

Post Election Reflection.....

First a couple of brief, unrelated thoughts that I've been considering in the wake of our most recent elections:

- I said it in 2008 - I'll say it again now. I disagree with him about most everything but I sincerely hope Obama is able to make good on his promise. If he is, we all win......based on his track record however, I'm not feeling super confident in that.

- Entering this election cycle my most sincere hope was that our Nation's media would again return to the role of informing the populace rather than attempting to shape public opinion. To actually report facts and question the Government as opposed to serving as hagiographer. I held little confidence that this would occur and it seems my pessimism was justified. The mainstream press served as a marketing department for the incumbent rather than honest journalists and we are the worse for it. (...and before your reply "B,B,B,But Fox!" save it, they're biased too and at the end of the day it's one network vs CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, NPR/CfPB).

- A note to the GOP; Obama didn't win this election, you blew it. You allowed candidates in the races and topics into the discussion that had no place being there. Look, I hate the very idea of abortion and pray for any woman that is in a position to consider it but....Roe v Wade is settled case law. Debate whether it's good case law or not until you are blue in the face but it isn't going anywhere without a constitutional amendment. Nobody has the political will, let alone the political capital to make that happen...and honestly, I'm not convinced they should if they did. Knowing this to be true, there is absolutely no point in discussing it. It isn't going to change. Ever. Ever. No, really, not ever. Discussing it as an "issue" works like a charm if your goal is to fear-monger to those in favor of it or to gin up enthusiasm in those who would like to see it abolished but it's a pointless red herring that distracts from that which actually does bear discussion.

Monday, November 5, 2012

You're Voting For Who?

I live in the Bay Area so it shouldn't come as a surprise that when asked on a number of occasions, "Are you voting for Obama?" my simple reply of, "No." was met with incredulity at best. Those who've asked the question should be thankful I used my second answer as option "A" was "It's none of your F'ing business you nosy tool!"

In less than 48 hours we’ll know if we have another 4yrs of Barack Obama in the White House or if we are going to try something different in Mitt Romney. Our election system isn’t perfect but it beats the hell out of systems in place in most of the world and the process is often fractious at best. Campaigns can and do get nasty but anyone with an honest view of history knows that this is nothing new. A lot of things, some true some not, get said about candidates. That’s just the way it goes and that’s the way it’s always been.

If you read this blog often or follow me on Twitter you’ll note that I am pretty fair in my criticism of the President. I give credit where due and endeavor to stay away from ad-hominem that some engage in and attempt, when possible to compare/contrast what the President says against what he does using factual, referencable data.

There are things about the guy that I like: 
- He is a man a faith, and like me came to his faith as an adult. 
- He has a great family and is by all account a devoted father and husband. 
- He’s a sports fan and although his allegiance is to an American League Baseball team, I’m pretty sure we’d share a common view that the Dodgers suck...see 1959. 
- He strikes me as a pretty nice guy and if he were my neighbor, I’m sure we’d get along just fine.

In matters of policy there are things he’s done that I agree with: 
- I applauded his repeal of “Don’t ask Don’t tell” and allowing the sunsetting of the Defense of Marriage Act. Two sad vestiges of the Clinton Administration that I’m happy to have seen disappear, a trend I’d hope might continue should President Obama be re-elected.
- In 2010 I applauded Obama’s extension of “The Bush Tax Cuts”. 
- Despite his campaign promise to close it down, I have consistently applauded Obama’s decision to keep GITMO well stocked with terrorist a-holes. 
- Despite his campaign promise to hold civil trials for terrorists on US soil, I applaud his decision not to do so. 
- And of course, once the CIA’s decade of effort yielded appropriately solid and actionable intelligence his decision to go ahead with the mission to dispatch Osama Bin-Laden is commendable as well.

However, there are a number of negatives regarding President Obama and his Administration that I simply cannot ignore.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No. I won't make a prediction for the World Series.

There is a widely held truism that "You Can't Predict Ball" and few teams have provided more evidence in support of that axiom than the San Francisco Giants over the last few years. In taking a look back at the 2010 season we recall that in the spring, the odds-on favorite to win the NL-West was the Colorado Rockies. Well, as it turned out they finished nine games back in third and it took a Jonathan Sanchez late inning double off of Mat Latos in game 162 to ink the Giants as Champions of the NL-West.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Return To Utica Reservoir

Last weekend we'd planned to scoot out of town to Utica Reservoir with another couple to introduce them to back country canoe camping but work got in the way and they had to cancel. Kathy & I had already put in for the day off and we were pretty much packed and ready to go anyway so we went without missed out suckas!

We were able to snag out favorite campsite (from our original trip, HERE ) at the NE end of the lake though doing so wasn't much of a challenge. There were very few people at the lake. I guess now that school is in session through most of the state people are heading to the mountains pays to be a married couple with no kids!

The weather was a bit of mix, it was overcast on Saturday and we even had a brief shower, just long enough to duck into the tent for a flat-out lazy afternoon nap.

Wheeler Peak to the left (~9000') and Bull Run Peak to the right (~9200')

Outdoor Gear Review - Northwest Woodsman Folding Bucksaw

Among the more pleasant elements of a trip into the back country is the time spent at days-end beside the fire. Somewhere deep in our DNA remains an atomic post-it note that tells us the fire is not only a source of warmth but of safety and of comfort and a place for fellowship. That time spent alone with your thoughts sipping the spirit of your choosing or with a buddy or wife is a big part of why we seek the distance from "civilization".  If you are as lucky as I, in that your wife is also your best friend, well so much the better.

Making a fire is easy. We learned the necessary skills in Boy Scout or YMCA camp as kids. Making a GOOD fire is another thing. Collecting deadfall works fine in dry places where wood doesn't remain damp or quickly begin to rot. If you find yourself in a more damp environment you need to find standing dry wood which is often still firmly in the form of a tree, albeit a dead one. The challenge is in turning a 4-8 inch diameter 12 foot tall dead tree into a useful pile of firewood.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Making The Old Into The New And In Turn, Into A Business.

Once in a while I post short films here that I find compelling. Usually they are focused on the work that someone does and they celebrate craftsmanship. I think this aligns quite well with that theme though in this case, rather than crafting a motorcycle from steel its the crafting of Old World food products.

Here is the story of an Austin, TX couple who discovered a passion that struck an all too rare balance between viable business model and an available niche in the market. Enjoy.

Charcuterie - A Documentary from Christian Remde on Vimeo.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Weekend At The Top Of California - Loon Lake, CA

Hectic work schedules and a frantic early summer full of birthdays, anniversaries & graduations had both Kathy and I at the end of our collective rope. We needed a getaway, and badly at that, but didn't want to hassle with the 4th of July weekend crowds so on the following weekend we loaded up and headed to Loon Lake.

Resting at ~6350' above sea level Loon Lake is a bit of anomaly in large Sierra lakes in that there's always been a lake in the valley in which it resides. The valley once housed Loon & Pleasant lakes and the two were joined into one much larger lake by the 1963 erection of the Loon Lake Dam across the Gerle Creek outflow.

The name of the lake is a bit of a mystery. There are in fact Loons in California but not of the type associated with the Wilderness in Canada, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Those are the "Arctic Loon" who's range does not extend this far South. You can find "Pacific Loon" along the California coast feeding in "near-shore" areas, bays and estuaries but they don't appear in the Sierras.... Perhaps someone just thought it a good name for a lake.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An Open Letter To The Food Network

It should be readily apparent by reading this blog that I dig food. I’m fascinated by the history of, and socioeconomic influences on legacy cuisine and I love learning about where food comes from and how to turn something mundane into something spectacular.

As I’ve aged, I’ve developed an intense intellectual curiosity about food and cooking. Along with that has come an increase in the sophistication of my palate and my desire to experience cooking styles and ingredients that I was never exposed to as a middle-class, white, suburban, California kid.

Luckily, my darling wife shares this passion. She’s a fantastic cook and I’ve learned a ton from her. Thankfully, we’ve had the opportunity to travel together quite a bit and have used those trips to expose ourselves to incredible new culinary experiences and brought home much of what we learned.

But there is so much more out there. So much knowledge, so many ingredients, so many preparations… could, if one could afford to do so, spend a lifetime traveling the world and only experience a fraction of it. This is why I was so excited when “The Food Network” was born. Initially it was highly instructive, the on-air personalities had unassailable credibility and there was the opportunity, though unfulfilled to really impact how people view food, how they cook and how they eat. But I think they’ve blown it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Canoe How-To

At one time or another in our childhood most of us "learned" how to paddle a canoe. Be it at Boy Scout camp or a YMCA summer program, someone strapped you into a smelly life jacket, tossed you a paddle and sent you out on a lake in a clunky, leaky aluminum canoe and told you to have at it. You likely had no idea what you were doing but your got to splash your buddies and you were having fun so who cares?

Now, as an adult, you might be seeking to learn to paddle a canoe without soaking your partner, without the need to bail out the boat every 20min AND have it actually go where you'd like. Below is a video that does a fantastic job describing the various methods of propelling a canoe. The video is tailored to the solo paddler but the strokes all work with a tandem as well.

This short film from Canadian canoeist Bill Mason illustrates paddling solo. All the basic strokes used to control the canoe are rendered with perfect clarity through animated lines. The film was made by the National Film Board of Canada in 1977 which explains the music.....and Mr. Mason's epic tight "jorts".

You know you had a pair just like 'em in '77 as well.

Looking for information about Canoeing in Northern California? Visit:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Good Friends + Good Wine + Good Food = Great Weekend

This past weekend our great friend Patty hosted a weekend gathering at her families palatial "villa" in the hills up slope of La Selva beach. The theme for the Saturday evening meal was a Tapas stroll with each of the invited couples, and a few pairs of teamed up singles, creating a regional Tapas creation and pairing with an appropriate "adult beverage". When you get a bunch of really bright and creative people together and add excellent wines and other beverages and mix liberally with heavy doses of amazing food you have all the requirements in place for an absolutely spectacular weekend.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June Primary Day 2012, Big Labor, Big Failure

The results are in, Conservatives are generally pleased while Liberals and Progressives...well...not so much.

The media and Democrat spin-masters can try to candy coat it all they want, but Scott Walker (R-WI) handed Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett a double-digit drubbing in the polls. So universal was the rejection of the Public Employees Union position that 38% of Wisconsin voters who identify as "Union" (including both public & private sector) voted for Walker.

On the surface, the issue at hand was the "shocking" requirement (intentional sarcasm) that public employees should contribute to their retirement and healtcare plans what amounts to an infinitesimal fraction of what most Wisconsin non-Union employees contribute to their own.  In reality, the issue was that Walker's PE reforms allowed Wisconsin public employees to opt out of the union. Previously, many public employee positions carried a mandatory union membership (and forced dues contribution) requirement. State records indicate that in some employee groups as many as 20%-35% of previously mandatory dues paying members had decided to opt out. You's not really about "the kids" or even about the benefits's about the monthly revenue loss of the PE Unions and in turn, the reduction of their ability to use those funds to impact local, state and national elections. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Transit of Venus

Venus will pass directly between the Earth & Sun today. I don't happen to own a humongous telescope and the means of converting the images to a web stream so below is a viewer embedded from The Mauna Loa Observatory on Hawaii via The Exploratorium.

Transit of Venus |

This link explains all the science stuff.

...and if you don't want to watch all seven hours of the playback with commentary, here is a time-lapse of the event  in the 171 wavelength. From NASA,
"This channel is especially good at showing coronal loops - the arcs extending off of the Sun where plasma moves along magnetic field lines. The brightest spots seen here are locations where the magnetic field near the surface is exceptionally strong."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Man Can Cook #20: Oooooh, I love Paella!

I have a general affinity for what I affectionately call "Po-folks food". This is by no means a slight, as to me it is simply a general term describing the food of working people who learn to make the most from the least. In my opinion it's far more difficult to make something amazing from the cheapest ingredients than it is to do so from the finest.

Paella is just such a dish. It's a Valencian dish dating back to the early 19th century. It's the stuff of shepherds and orchardmen who cooked the dish, usually over an open fire, out of what was available, cheap and easy to transport. There are many different regional variations of the dish from those dominated by meat, to seafood. Each variation tends to take on the flavor of the region in which it's prepared and features local and/or seasonal meats and vegetables. The mere suggestion of deviation from those regional formulae is cause to "step outside" in some parts of Spain. They take their Paella VERY seriously.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Good People Doing Good Things...With Fast Cars #2

It's happened to all of us.....

You're sitting in traffic in your car. A car you don't particularly care for. Maybe it's old, maybe it needs work, maybe it's just not the car you want. You see something swoopy and shiny in the mirror and you glance to the side as it passes, and you see the mile-deep paint, you discern the exotic pedigree of the car, you notice the conspicuously throaty exhaust, perhaps you even look long and hard enough to see a pricey watch on the wrist of the driver and you feel a twinge of jealousy. You know you shouldn't but you do and even if only for a moment you think; "He's probably an a-hole".

Maybe not.....

If the sound of the tandem Ferrari Enzo's doesn't bring you to tears, the story will.

"Your ride is here" is a non-profit all-volunteer organization based in Austin, TX that in partnership with exotic car dealer John Eagle European Motors, provides rides, free of charge, for cancer patients to and from their treatment appointments.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Giants, The Athletics & BIG-Money-Ball

Much to the consternation of Bay Area Baseball fans, be they fans of the Giants or Athletics, the issue of the Athletics and their stadium woes remains unresolved. Bug Selig, after forming his "Blue Ribbon Committee" in 2009 has accomplished nothing other than to prop up the Blue Ribbon manufacturing industry. At issue now, as it always has been, is the matter of territorial rights to the Silicon Valley. The Giants have them, the Athletics want them. How the Giants came to be in their possession is no longer particularly relevant. This is big-boy business not a Co-Op and the Giants aren't about to give them up.

Today, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports posted a report (Read It Here) that restates what I asserted above and what we already knew;
The Giants owners have shown no willingness to this point to sell at any price their territorial right to the Silicon Valley area, which includes San Jose.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Backyard Biodiversity

Photo taken last weekend. Kathy cut some roses and put them in a vase on our patio table. While sitting and enjoying a glass of wine I noticed this little guy. There is an interesting contrast, I think, between the hybridized, somewhat synthetic color of the rose petal and the grasshopper.

BBQ Blues

I freakin love BBQ. Not grilling mind you, that's a whole 'nuther deal. I'm talking about BBQ. Cheap cuts of meat turned into amazing, moist, juicy, lip-smacking good stuff by means of a long, slow, low-temperature cook...and a bit of smoke for good measure. I'm far from an expert on the matter, the guy who runs this website/blog however is:  If you are looking to learn "how to smoke some meat" that is the best place to start. 

I'd characterize myself as more of an enthusiast. My smoker is nothing special but I've made a few modifications to it so it works far better than it ought. My recipes aren't traditional nor are they particularly original either. But I've put a little spin on things here and there to tweak them to my taste and that of my friends....who seem to like the end result.

Last weekend we hosted a going away party for a very close friend who is taking a temporary work assignment out of state and we were expecting ~25 guests. That's a lot of people to cook for no matter what you are cooking, but BBQ is IMO a bit easier to manage because the quantity of meat that can be produced at once is rather high and it allows ample time to do other things around the house while the smoke is going on. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tips for bringing your child to a nice restaurant:

Tip #1 - DON'T!

Tip #2 - If you have any questions, see Tip #1

Friday evening, Kathy & I attempted to enjoy a Wedding Anniversary co-celebration with another couple at one of our favorite restaurants, Tigelleria in Campbell (previously reviewed HERE ). It's really quite a nice place. The food is great, the service is usually excellent, though Friday it was a bit off. The problem though was not the service, nor the food. The problem was the patently inconsiderate, self absorbed jerkoffs at the next table. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Random Canoeing Photos

There are photographers and there are people who take pictures. My friend John is the former. He runs the website and I urge you to avail yourself of some of his work here Spectacular stuff. That said, I reside firmly in the latter group...people who take pictures. Like a blind squirrel occasionally finding a nut, I as a not-a-photographer-type person occasionally take a picture I'm not ashamed of. Here are a few that I like.....

Green River, Utah

Afternoon Light At Horseshoe Bend

Friday, May 4, 2012

One Lap Of America; Good People Doing Good Things With Fast Cars

On Saturday May 5th the 2012 Tire Rack One Lap of America kicks off in South Bend, Indiana and over the course of the following eight days this automotive marathon will cover approximately 3,500 miles and include 21 competition stops at race tracks across the country.  James Shipka & Co-driver Carl Casanova will be joining nearly 90 other teams from around the world in what will be James' third time participating in this one-of-a-kind event.  Once again the OneLapCamaro will be the oldest entry in the race and this year they’re heading out as the two time defending Vintage America Class Champions so the pressure is on.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

California Canoe / Kayak Paddling Guidebooks

California is a simply spectacular place for anyone interested in paddlesports. Short of the multi-day paddle-portage-paddle style tripping done in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, Algonquin and Quetico there really isn't a form of paddling one can't participate in here. The lack of this traditional style "tripping" is a matter of topography. Most CA lakes are man made, dammed rivers. As such they reside in deep, rough terrain river canyons which makes the prospect of portaging to the next lake in a chain difficult if not impossible. There are very few locations in CA that support this type of tripping and none that I can think of that encompass more than a single days worth of travel. That aside, there is much to be found for the CA paddler; We have Hawaiian Style Outrigger Canoe Racing clubs in the Bay Area & So-Cal, Sea & Surf kayaking and touring, tons of spectacular whitewater opportunities in the Sierras, Cascades and Siskiyou ranges and scores inland & alpine of lakes that are perfect for the flatwater canoeist or kayaker. Depending on how much time you have available and  how far away from it all you want to get there is literally, something for everyone and a place for nearly every type of desired experience.

So how does one locate a destination suitable to the experience they seek? You can only glean so much info from staring at a satellite image on Google maps and even the web will leave you wanting for information on the more remote destinations as I found when researching Lake McCloud in my previous post. The largest online resource is It's ok, but the user interface is at best clunky and there isn't much in the way of CA content. There is a small Nor-Cal specific web-forum called but it's just getting started. I'm a member there and we are trying to build the database of destination information but it's going to take time and more participating members to turn it into a good resource. Paddling is an ancient art, and it seems the dissemination of information regarding paddling is best or at least most commonly done by a similarly "old school" means. Books. The intent of this post is to briefly review a few of best.

There are four different resources that I find myself referring to when researching a future trip.

  • Paddling Northern California - By Charlie Pike

  • Up The Lake With A Paddle (Vol 1-4) - By William Van Der Ven

  • Paddling The California Highlands - By John Coale

  • Kayaking California's Flat Waters - By Janice L. Green

Monday, April 30, 2012

Canoeing McCloud Reservoir, Shasta County, CA

Lake McCloud Reservoir Launch
Things have been pretty hectic of late. Work has been particularly onerous, and there have been a number of sources of stress that combined to create a nearly overwhelming need to disconnect. To go somewhere away from an appointment calendar, Outlook inbox and most of all, a cell phone. Kathy was to be out of town on business for a conference so I jumped at the chance to get away for a few days. The challenge in finding a location was to select a suitably remote location that was accessible this early in the year. Most everything above 3000' in the Sierra range is still inaccessible due to snow or subject to seasonal closure.  

After no small amount of wide-eyed staring at Google Earth I settled on McCloud Reservoir at the Southern end of the Cascade Range in Shasta County.

McCloud reservoir was created when PG&E erected an earthen dam over the McCloud river in 1965.  The lake sits at 3000' elevation about 15mi SE of Mt. Shasta. There are 10 miles of shoreline and the lake is about 520 surface acres. The lake is within the Shasta/Trinity National Forest, but most of the land around the lake itself is privately owned by the Hearst Corporation. In fact, William Randolph Hearst built a rather substantial getaway at the Northernmost end of the lake. Called "Wyntoon", it's the other Hearst Castle. Hearst lived here for most of the early part of WWII as he feared the Japanese would target his San Simeon home if they attacked the Western US. The structure was designed by famed San Francisco Architect Julia Morgan who also designed the more widely known Hearst Castle in San Simeon.

Man Can Cook #19: Gruyère Potato Pucks

Here is a simple but really tasty side dish that is the perfect accompaniment to a steak or similar hearty meat dish. It only takes about 45min to make.

  • Mandolin
  • Muffin pan (3.5" muffins)

  • 1lb Potatoes (Red, Yukon Gold & Yellow work best stay away from Russetts)
  • 1pint Heavy Cream
  • 1/2lb Gruyère (grated)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Cooking Spray

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Outdoor Gear Review; Sierra Designs Zeta-3 & Zia-3 tent

I purchased this tent a month or two before my Green River trip with the intent that I'd have enough room for myself, and enough room to get all my gear inside and out of the weather. Worked beautifully in that regard.

The tent is very comfortable and dry and performed exceptionally in a significant rainstorm that occurred in the middle of my trip. It rained heavily for about 8-10hrs and the inside of the tent was dry as a bone. It's well ventilated as well so the humidity was easily purged once the rain stopped and on warmer nights it remains comfortable and not at all stuffy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Man Can Cook #18: Say Cheese!

Cheese is part chemistry, part alchemy, part performance art. There aren't many things that we eat that we intentionally let get this close to dangerously inedible before consumption. For some cheeses, the closer they are to that point, the better they are. That kind of cheese making is better left to the experts. There is another  kind of cheese making is fit for rank amateurs like you and I.

Mozzarella is pretty awesome stuff. Anyone with 1/2 a taste bud though can pick out the difference between the rubbery rubbish in the "cheese" aisle (between the Velveeta nut-ball and the pepper-jack) and the good stuff found in higher end markets. What's the difference? Heat, chemicals & machines. The rubbery stuff is pasteurized, full of preservatives and is totally overworked by machines. The good stuff isn't. What do ya say we make the good stuff?

There are a few reasons to get after this as a project now, rather than later.
  • Meddlesome douchebags don't want you to be able to purchase raw milk or have unpasteurized cheese. When was the last time you heard of someone getting sick from milk or cheese? Me either. Let's move on.
  • Because of the above, those same meddlesome douchebags have conspired with the government to create nanny-state regulations which  have made raw milk tough to find. Locate someone who sells it, and make it worth their while to continue to do so. The stores that sell it, don't like to promote that fact so as not to draw attention. Just help keep them selling, by buying.
  • Summer is going to be here in but a few months. That means tomatoes and that means caprese. You want to make sure you have this down PAT by the time your tomatoes are coming ripe.
So, my fellow Americans, let us stand together in defiance of douchebaggery. Give the finger to the "conventional thinking" of the nanny state. We've got no time for petty, parsimonious, pathogenic perplexities. We've got cheese to make!

Man Can Cook #17: Jump Out Da Gym Jambalaya.

Admittedly, March Madness isn't among my favorite sporting events. NCAA basketball has lost it's shine in my eyes since so many of the players leave early to the NBA and because there is just so much of it on TV during the regular season, I'm approaching saturation point by the time March rolls around and the coverage goes to 11. That said, I know most folks don't feel the same way and are totally wrapped up in it so I thought I'd toss out a good, quick recipe to help you out in the event you are having a bunch of folks over on a weeknight to watch a few games.

This Jambalaya recipe is pretty quick and easy. The prep only takes a few minutes and it's on the table in about 45min flat. I'll include a couple of options in case you'd like to spruce it up when you've got more time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Obama Administration And "Green Investment"; A Track Record Of Ineptitude

I’m not one given to ad hominem attack. In my opinion, all that matters are the facts. If a person cannot argue based on facts and resorts to getting personal or going after the credibility of the source it’s likely because they’ve run out of intelligent things to say.

In that vein, I think it’s important, as we approach a Presidential election to focus squarely on facts. To make the argument for or against candidate “X” or “Y” solely based on performance and policy. One of the issues that I care about most is the historically irresponsible spending that has taken place since our current President took office specifically where “green energy” spending is concerned. I’ve written about the topic in the past with respect to Solyndra here:  The Folly of "Green Jobs" Spending

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Men & Machines #2

Vimeo's content is really getting fantastic. With increasing frequency I am finding great short films documenting the work and the motivations that drive genuine craftsmen. This sadly declining group amongst us who combines the creative and the industrious and melds the two into something beautiful and functional if not iconic as well.

I've a great appreciation for the man who can formulate a vision and articulate it in metal. Men who's art not only pleases the aesthetic but the visceral without losing grasp of the function.

Dustin Kott - Cafe Bike Builder

Cafe cowboy from benedict campbell on Vimeo.

A film by Benedict Campbell.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A New Family Member

As previously noted Kathy and I have been assisting with the rescue of 27 Bullmastiffs that were in a horrifically neglectful situation in Las Vegas. The dogs began to be moved from Vegas to a temporary shelter in Phoenix begining two weeks before Christmas. The following weekend Kathy and I flew to Phoenix to meet the dogs and decide if one of them was right for us.

What a decision!?!? All of them were sweet and happy to receive positive attention. But each of them have a share of problems due to their previous situation. Most with entropian, many with other physical maladies, few spayed or neutered and all of them un-vaccinated. The one we kept coming back to was "Snort". Terrible name for a dog, but rather descriptive as he does snort when sniffing and when he's happy from getting affection.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Man Can Cook #16:'s French, but it's still manly!

I don’t do a great deal of traditional French cooking. Not for any real good reason other than a preference for the flavor profiles of Italian & Spanish fare of a rustic variety. If you thumb through Julia Child’s “Mastering” books you find that they are dominated by the “cuisine bourgeoisie” or the slightly higher-end of the French cookery landscape. There are exceptions to this of course, and Cassoulet is one of them.

Cassoulet is an old-world French peasants dish named for the vessel in which it is traditionally cooked, a “cassole” which is usually a deep, rather than wide, glazed stoneware baking dish. There are a number of variations according to region. The most common is the Toulouse variety which is dominated by Goose Confit as a protein with a bit of mutton. Not surprising as Toulouse is the heart of the Foie Gras production region. You gotta do something with all those geese once their ambrosial livers have been harvested. Other variations are the Cassoulet de Castelnaudary which features mainly pork and the Cassoulet de Carcassonne which often features Partridge.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bullmastiff Rescue Crisis Update

Please follow the below link for an update on the dogs rescued from their horribly neglected situation in Las Vegas.

Bullmastiff Rescue Crisis Update 01/03/12