Later On

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

Archive for September 14th, 2011

Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies and food

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I’m watching with considerable interest and enjoyment Picasso and Braque Go to the Movies on Watch Instantly. Highly recommended if you like movies and art—and who doesn’t?

I’m just at the point where Chuck Close is talking about how in cubist paintings it’s as if the color has been sucked out—like taking a color TV and turning the color adjustment way down. He said that he couldn’t say what their reasons were, but he got rid of color in his paintings because he didn’t want to depend on it, he didn’t want the entertainment value of color in the paintings. And by taking it out, putting it aside, he could could better focus on the structure, the information, the rest of the painting.

It occurred to me that is part of what the template does: by taking fat, starch, and protein out of the picture, as it were, by specifying them so precisely as to quantity (2 tsp, scant serving, 3-4 oz respectively) and by settling on just a few handy options (olive oil, duck fat, or butter; whole grain itself or as coucous or pasta; tofu or tempeh), I can now focus totally on the vegetables and the prep choices, though more and more I do a kind of stew without the liquid: using very little liquid, just enough for the starch to absorb as it cooks (and steam the greens). I do sauté some of the veg first.

Still: the point is that by subtracting the traditional focus—the first thing that hits your eye normally—and removing that from consideration, the remainder stands in much higher relief and becomes of greater interest. As you see.

Good movie, anyway.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 September 2011 at 5:49 pm

Learning constructive ways to deal with failure

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Failure is hard to take, on the whole. But since failure is the doorway to learning, it’s good to learn how to open the door—how to use failure to glean lessons and improve learning—than simply to bounce off it and never realize that it opens. People who don’t learn how to use failure tend to avoid it whenever they can, and that strategy traps them in an ever-narrowing circle of things that are easy for them. Far better to discover how to exploit failure, how to make the most of it, squeeze every answer—as well as some better questions—from every single failure. This is the idea that we learn more from our failures than from our successes—though that might be because we tend to think about and analyze our failures more than our successes.

In this connection, let me just draw your attention to Martin Seligman’s fascinating book Learned Optimisim (inexpensive secondhand copies at the link—note condition before you buy: nothing less than “good,” I should say).

And also note this article by Paul Tough in the NY Times:

Dominic Randolph can seem a little out of place at Riverdale Country School — which is odd, because he’s the headmaster. Riverdale is one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools, with a 104-year-old campus that looks down grandly on Van Cortlandt Park from the top of a steep hill in the richest part of the Bronx. On the discussion boards of UrbanBaby.com, worked-up moms from the Upper East Side argue over whether Riverdale sends enough seniors to Harvard, Yale and Princeton to be considered truly “TT” (top-tier, in UrbanBabyese), or whether it is more accurately labeled “2T” (second-tier), but it is, certainly, part of the city’s private-school elite, a place members of the establishment send their kids to learn to be members of the establishment. Tuition starts at $38,500 a year, and that’s for prekindergarten.

Randolph, by contrast, comes across as an iconoclast, a disrupter, even a bit of an eccentric. He dresses for work every day in a black suit with a narrow tie, and the outfit, plus his cool demeanor and sweep of graying hair, makes you wonder, when you first meet him, if he might have played sax in a ska band in the ’80s. (The English accent helps.) He is a big thinker, always chasing new ideas, and a conversation with him can feel like a one-man TED conference, dotted with references to the latest work by behavioral psychologists and management gurus and design theorists. When he became headmaster in 2007, he swapped offices with his secretary, giving her the reclusive inner sanctum where previous headmasters sat and remodeling the small outer reception area into his own open-concept work space, its walls covered with whiteboard paint on which he sketches ideas and slogans. One day when I visited, one wall was bare except for a white sheet of paper. On it was printed a single black question mark.

For the headmaster of an intensely competitive school, Randolph, who is 49, is surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education. He did away with Advanced Placement classes in the high school soon after he arrived at Riverdale; he encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign; and he says that the standardized tests that Riverdale and other private schools require for admission to kindergarten and to middle school are “a patently unfair system” because they evaluate students almost entirely by I.Q. “This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”

The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character — those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that.”

Randolph has been pondering throughout his 23-year career as an educator the question of whether and how schools should impart good character. It has often felt like a lonely quest, but it has led him in some interesting directions. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 September 2011 at 4:23 pm

Kindle, here I come

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Okay, I’ve caved and will bring out a Kindle version. I found that CreateSpace has a conversion service that will do the work, so I have them working on it now. It takes a few weeks (!).

My big worry is the photos: I think they’re gong to drift around a bit. Probably if I come out with a new edition, I’ll add figure numbers and captions so I can refer in the text to photos by identifier rather than by location on the page. But that will be then, and we’re going ahead now.

What made me decide (beyond the constant drumbeat for a Kindle edition) is that a Kindle edition would be sold in the UK (and Germany) as well as in the US. I have wanted to make it easy for the novice shavers in the UK (and Canada, but Amazon doesn’t extend this generosity to Amazon.ca) to get the information, and physical books are simply too expensive to ship. So this is a start.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 September 2011 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Books, Shaving, Technology

First lather with Neep brush—and Mama Bear Sandalwood

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Couldn’t wait to use the new brush by Rod Neep. I was pleased to see that the coin in the base works well: it’s only full display as you work up the lather, and is a very nice touch. And work up the lather it did: I get a fine, thick, dense lather from Mama Bear‘s Indian Sandalwood—and an excellent fragrance. I believe the “new recipe” reference dates from a few years back and refers to her move to add shea butter to the soap.

I haven’t used my Edwin Jagger Lined Chatsworth for a while, but it’s the same shaver-friendly razor I remember: good heft, good balance, and works like a charm, this morning with a Swedish Gillette blade.

After 3 smooth passes and a swipe of the alum bar, I did a final rinse, dry, and splash of Saint Charles Shave Sandalwood: extremely nice. I detected a “fresh cookie” note to the fragrance, but that’s just me.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 September 2011 at 7:44 am

Posted in Shaving

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