Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for August 30th, 2011

I’m getting one for The Wife

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This truly is a Cool Tool for the groggy-when-awakened. And I think The Wife will like it, too.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2011 at 3:45 pm

Better software alternatives for Windows

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The ones I have actual experience with, I agree with the writer. Here’s the post.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2011 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Software

Pens and happiness

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I am getting a good deal of pleasure these days from my fountain pens and fine stationery. As I wrote to The Niece this morning on a sheet of handmade Crane 100%-cotton-rag stationery, now no longer made, a little-known secret of letter-writing is the enormous amount of pleasure one gets in writing with a good pen and ink on good paper. (The Crane’s has quite a bit of tooth, so I used the Montblanc Agathie Christie—a black pen in which the gold nib has on it a silver snake’s head engraved, and the clip is a silver snake slithering down the cap, with rubies for its eyes. John Mottishaw did the nib work to make it a perfect medium italic point, and it writes a little wet, just right for this paper. The ink was Noodler’s Ultrablack or whatever it’s called: their blackest, most light-absorbent ink. On the creamy white stationery, it made quite an impact.)

So, if you’re going to write a letter, you can really pump up your enjoyment of the task by using really nice stationery. It’s just as in shaving: if you have a task you feel you must do, then exert some ingenuity to make the task a pleasure. If you’re going to have to do it anyway, become drawn to it by the pleasure that doing it affords: shaving in the one case, letter-writing in the other. And so for all tasks, to the extent that you can: cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and so on. (I have not succeeded with all, but with more than you might think.)

One impetus for this post was, not the Agatha Christie, but another pen I brought out just now for use: I can’t even recall the name of maker or model… ah, but they’re thoughtfully engraved on the cap: it’s a Marlen Eclisse, and the “Eclisse” refers to the moon theme: a sort of faux-primitif flat silver clip, slightly rounded, with an odd little offset at the top, stamped with a Sun at the top of the clip, an Earth at the bottom, and (quite out of scale) somewhat below the Sun, a partially eclipsed Moon.

The moon theme continues—because an eclipse is all about the moon, of course—with the color—black, with whorls of color, iridescent and inside the plastic, forming a haloed moon on the side, though you don’t at first see it—and also with the cap screwing onto the barrel eccentrically. You get quite an odd feeling when you start unscrewing the cap and it begins by going a bit sideways. And as you continue to unscrew it, it bobs eccentrically about as if on an epicycle (as the moon in its orbit, as we so painstakingly learned when we read worked through Ptolemy’s Almagest).

It should go without saying, but: regardless of how you start the cap, it screws back on—again disconcertingly eccentrically—to stop a final flush finish with the barrel: no remaining eccentricity to be detected. (I take that as a comment on the eccentricity that we each harbor within, however conventional a façade we present.) And the same thing happens in reverse on the opposite end, as you stow the cap for writing: you screw it onto the eccentric knob, watching it swing in and out, as if on an epicycle, and then finish, flush again with the barrel.

This pen has an extremely nice point—another italic point made by Mottishaw. As I filled the pen—a converter, but you can’t have everything—I thought about having tried all sorts of inks—excellent inks: the Noodler stuff I got recently, some Private Reserve, and I even have two unopened bottles of the redoubtable (but now unobtainable) Doctor Black, the darkest, most bulletproof ink known: proof against water, sun, outdoor weathering… incredible (The guy who does (or did) the ink sampler books had a permanency test in which he dabbed some ink on paper and put it out for 24 hours on the roof. One time he forgot, went on a two-week vacation, it rained off and on, and when he finally remembered and checked his samples, all but a few were simply blank paper. Only one was absolutely crisp, dark, and distinct: Doctor Black.)—and though I have tried and liked many of the inks, I keep coming back to Waterman: Florida Blue when I want washability, Blue Black for permanency.

That little thought, when I unpacked it as I went, was larger than I expected. The whole point is that I like Waterman inks, a thought I had when I filled the pen, but I suppose the context is part of the thought.

And, actually, this post (the one I’m writing) itself has its own context, which for it is another post, pointed out by the ever-invaluable Jack of Amsterdam. Worth reading, and he (rightly) advises clicking the Strauss link therein.

Another thing recently giving me great pleasure is (appropriately) rediscovering Epicurus. As I read the slim booklet that remains of his writings, I realize that it was this book that led me to St. John’s… but enough context for now, I think.

UPDATE: I’ve been searching for a good photo of the Marlen pen, and I discover that Eclisse is not the particular model I have (the model I describe above), but a more general name for Marlen pens. I do not in fact know the name of this particular model. I’ll have to track it down. Maybe Detlef Bittner knows—he’s the one who sold it to me in his little Carmel store.

UPDATE 2: The moon being so close to the Sun bothered me, so I just spent some time looking again at that clip. I realize now I had it backwards: the top emblem stands for the Earth—this is a Ptolemaic clip, in which the Earth is the pre-eminent body in the equation, and I had been looking at the clip with post-Copernican eyes, assuming that the major and most important body in the system shown would (naturally) be the Sun. Except that people don’t live on the Sun, they live on Earth, so it’s the important one. And then, just down from the Earth lies the waxing or waning Moon, and at the very end of the clip, off in the distance, is the Sun, its disk just beginning to be eclipsed.

Quite an extraordinary pen.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2011 at 1:49 pm

Billy Taylor on jazz improvisation

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Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2011 at 10:02 am

Posted in Jazz, Video

Slowly shrinking once more

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I ballooned up to 185 lbs after spraining my ankle and entertaining visitors with nice meals. But now I know what to do, so it’s not a big deal. This morning I’m under 180, heading to 170.

I was at 173 before, but the speed with which I zoomed to 185 was unnerving. My thought is to take it back to 170 and treat 175 as the panic point.

No magic: just following the lessons I learned along the way. I do note that this week I’m very fond of spinach as my green, but I think I’ll go back to kale for a while—though if they have good-looking dandelion greens when I go to the store today, I’ll get some of those: not so much nutritional value as kale—by a fair amount, as I recall—but a lovely bitter taste that I like. And: greens.

I continue to use an egg for breakfast protein (along with chia seed and hulled hemp seed) and tofu or tempeh for lunch and dinner. However, last night I dreamed up a short-ribs dish for the slow-cooker that I plan to make when I reach 170:

Brown short ribs in skillet, then deglaze pan with dry vermouth. (I want a good beef taste, so I’m not using red wine.)

Put all that into slow cooker on top of a mirepoix of carrots, celery, and onions, along with:

A few crush cloves of garlic
Some thyme
Salt & pepper
1 Tbsp horseradish
1 Tbsp Worcestershire

The horseradish in that amount adds a nice flavor—noticeable but elusive. I’ll serve that over buttered and peppered egg noodles.

Something to look forward to.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2011 at 7:02 am

Posted in Beef, Daily life, Food, Recipes

Otoko and 1904

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I do like Otoko Organics shaving soap. I got a very fine lather using the Vie-Long brush shown, the mate to my Pogonotomy.com 2011 brush. The 1904 with the Treet Durasharp carbon-steel blade did a fine job—second shave on the blade, no rust visible to naked eye. Once again, at the end of the shave I swished the head in high-proof rubbing alcohol so that it would be totally dry.

Very nice shave indeed, and a dab of Saint Charles Shave’s Aspect was a fine finish: my skin feels quite nice.

In other shaving news: I found a problem in the “final” PDF, made the correction, uploaded the “final final with corrections” and now am awaiting approval from CreateSpace, which I hope to receive late today. I will then release the kraken the book for printing. I’m told that it can take several business days before the book appears on Amazon, though the CreateSpace storefront will be immediately open.

Yesterday I retired the 4th edition, though there may some still in the pipeline. Still, no new sales should go through.

I’m greatly relieved to have this edition done, and I think this version is really complete. I’m hoping that this can remain stable for a few years, but of course  turnover among vendors—some closing down, more opening up, to which I allude in the book—may require a new edition sooner.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 August 2011 at 6:41 am

Posted in Books, Shaving

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