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…..one 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: www.norcalcanoeing.com

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 see....it's not really about "the kids" or even about the benefits contributions...it'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 | exploratorium.edu/venus

This link explains all the science stuff.  http://www.exploratorium.edu/venus/question1.html

...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."