Later On

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

Archive for November 3rd, 2017

Learning my new carbon-steel skillet

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I hadn’t really thought about carbon-steel skillets, but when I ran across a review I was open to the idea, partly because I love my carbon-steel chef’s knife so much. Carbon-steel and cast-iron conduct and retain high similarly. Carbon-steel skillets are, in general, lighter than cast-iron skillets in the same size, and carbon-steel skillets are much smoother than cast-iron, particularly cast-iron made by Lodge. (Field cast-iron is considerably smoother than Lodge, but not so smooth as carbon-steel.)

Like cast-iron skillets, carbon-steel skillets require seasoning, and must be dried well (I heat on a burner or in the oven for either) or they rust. The first seasoning of a new carbon-steel skillet requires first that you remove the protective varnish (or whatever) by vigorous scrubbing with a very stiff-bristled brush, under hot water and a good detergent.

Once the protective layer is gone, immediately dry it and do the first seasoning. One method is shown in this video:

Written by LeisureGuy

3 November 2017 at 12:29 pm

Donna Brazile and the Latest Great Hillary Scandal

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Kevin Drum has a good analysis that suggests we should all calm down. (And it’s worth noting that Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat and Hillary Clinton is, so it’s scarcely surprising that the Democratic National Committee would support the Democratic candidate.) Drum writes:

I’ve gotten lots of requests to comment on Donna Brazile’s “sensational,” “shocking,” “blockbuster” book excerpt in Politico yesterday. The reason I haven’t, to be honest, is that the more I dive into it the less sure I am what really happened. So let’s start with a short summary of what went down:

  • After 2012, President Obama basically left the Democratic National Committee broke.
  • Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the DNC chair, did little to address this. Also, pretty much everyone agrees she was a crappy chair for a variety of other reasons.
  • In mid-2015, Hillary Clinton set up a “joint fundraising agreement” with the DNC.
  • The gist of the JFA was that Clinton would raise tons of money by asking rich donors for roughly $350,000 each in both 2015 and 2016. This is way above normal contribution limits, but it was legal because it bundled together donations to Clinton, the DNC, and 33 state parties. Clinton’s campaign would then split up the money and send it to the appropriate places.
  • However, the money for the state parties was mostly routed immediately back to the DNC for things like building voter lists. That was the deal the states accepted when they signed onto the JFA. Depending on your outlook, this is either slightly shady or just a smart way for state parties to help finance things that will help them in the long run.
  • Although states didn’t get much actual cash from the JFA during primary season, they did get it during the general election. So states did pretty well in the end.
  • Bernie Sanders was also offered the opportunity to set up a JFA, but he decided to go the small-dollar route instead.

So far, there’s nothing new here. It was all reported long ago and litigated during the campaign. Whatever you thought about it back then, feel free to continue thinking. But then Brazile added one more thing: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 November 2017 at 10:27 am

Posted in Democrats, Election

The Healing Power of Greek Tragedy

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Jeff MacGregor writes in Smithsonian:

Make them wish they’d never come, the director says, almost absently. He means the audience. The actress nods. She makes a mark in her script next to the stage direction:

[An inhuman cry]

And they go on rehearsing. The room is quiet. Late afternoon light angles across the floor.

An hour later from the stage her terrible howl rises over the audience to the ceiling, ringing against the walls and out the doors and down the stairs; rises from somewhere inside her to fill the building and the streets and the sky with her pain and her anger and her sadness. It is a terrifying sound, not because it is inhuman, but because it is too human. It is the sound not only of shock and of loss but of every shock and of every loss, of a grief beyond language understood everywhere by everyone.

The audience shifts uncomfortably in their seats. Then silence covers them all. This is the moment the director wanted, the moment of maximum discomfort. This is where the healing starts.

Later, the audience starts talking. They won’t stop.

“I don’t know what happened,” the actress will say in a few days. “That reading, that particular night, broke open a lot of people. And in a great way.”

This is Theater of War.

The creation of director and co-founder Bryan Doerries, Brooklyn-based Theater of War Productions bills itself as “an innovative public health project that presents readings of ancient Greek plays, including Sophocles’ Ajax, as a catalyst for town hall discussions about the challenges faced by service men and women, veterans, their families, caregivers and communities.”

And tonight in the Milbank Chapel of Teachers College at Columbia University, they’ve done just that, performing Ajax for a roomful of veterans and mental health professionals. Actor Chris Henry Coffey reads Ajax. The scream came from Gloria Reuben, the actress playing Tecmessa, Ajax’s wife.

Sophocles wrote the play 2,500 years ago, during a century of war and plague in Greece. It was part of the spring City Dionysia, the dramatic festival of Athens at which the great tragedies and comedies of the age were performed for every citizen. It is the wrenching story of the famed Greek warrior Ajax, betrayed and humiliated by his own generals, exhausted by war, undone by violence and pride and fate and hopelessness until at last, seeing no way forward, he takes his own life.


Doerries, 41, slim and earnest, energetic, explains all this to the audience that night. As he sometimes does, he will read the role of the chorus, too. He promises that the important work of discovery and empathy will begin during the discussion following the reading. The play is just the vehicle they’ll use to get there.

A self-described classics nerd, Doer­ries was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia. His parents were both psychologists. A smart kid in a smart household, he appeared in his first Greek play at the age of 8, as one of the children in Euripides’ Medea. He’ll tell you it was a seminal experience. “I was one of the children who were killed by their pathologically jealous mother—and I still remember my lines and the experience of screaming them, belting them backstage while a couple of college students pretended to bludgeon me and my friend. And I remember the sort of wonderment, the sense of awe, of limitless possibilities that the theater presented and associating that with Greek tragedy at a very early age.”

He was an indifferent high school student who bloomed in college. “My first week as a freshman at Kenyon, I met with my adviser—who just happened to be a classics professor assigned to me—and decided to take ancient Greek.

“I learned to commit to something hard and that it would result in incredible dividends. And so that’s when I started adding other ancient languages and doing Hebrew and Latin and a little Aramaic and a tiny bit of German and having this classical education that was about a deep dive into language, and the sense of early Greek thinking.” For his senior thesis he translated and staged Euripides’ The Bacchae.

He might have gone on to a fine and forgettable career as an academic; a philologist. But his origin story is more complicated than that, as most origin stories are, and has at its heart a tragedy.

In 2003, following a long illness, Doerries’ girlfriend, Laura, died. In the weeks and months of grief that followed he found comfort where he expected none: in the tragedies of ancient Greece. He was 26. All of which he explains in his remarkable 2015 book The Theater of War.

“Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, witnessing Laura’s graceful death opened my eyes to what the Greek tragedies I had studied in school were trying to convey. Through tragedy, the great Athenian poets were not articulating a pessimistic or fatalistic view of human experience; nor were they bent on filling audiences with despair. Instead, they were giving voice to timeless human experiences—of suffering and grief—that, when viewed by a large audience that had shared those experiences, fostered compassion, understanding and a deeply felt interconnection. Through tragedy, the Greeks faced the darkness of human existence as a community.”

But that’s the book version. Tidy. Well-considered. The truth of it was messier.

Coming out of graduate school in California, . . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more, and it’s good.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 November 2017 at 9:37 am

Posted in Art, Books, Daily life, Education

Possible title for a book about the Trump administration: “The Worst and Dumbest”

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Dana Milbank has a good column in the Washington Post:

Robert Mueller brought to light a huge scandal this week, and it has nothing to do with Russia.

He has introduced the world to Sam Clovis.

Clovis, we now know, was the Trump campaign official who oversaw George Papadopoulos and encouraged his efforts to meet with Russian officials. But what’s more interesting than what Clovis is is what Clovis isn’t.

For those who had not heard of Clovis before (which is pretty much everybody), he has been nominated to be the chief scientist at the Agriculture Department, a position that by law must go to “distinguished scientists,” even though he is, well, not a scientist. He is a talk-radio host, economics professor (though not actually an economist, either) and, most importantly, a Trump campaign adviser.

President Trump promised to “hire the best people.” And, as scientists go, Clovis is an excellent talk-show host. Among his scientific breakthroughs: being “extremely skeptical” of climate change, calling homosexuality “a choice,” suggesting gay rights would lead to legalized pedophilia, pushing the Obama birther allegation, and calling Eric Holder a “racist bigot” and Tom Perez a “racist Latino.”

Trump may want “extreme vetting” of immigrants, but he’s rather more lenient with his appointees. On Wednesday, he named Robin Bernstein to be ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Bernstein speaks only “basic Spanish” (it’s so hard to find Americans who speak Spanish), but she does have this — membership at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

A group called American Oversight had the foresight to make records requests for résumés of those hired by the Trump administration, and the group searched for those who worked on the Trump campaign. Among the “best” Trump hires American Oversight found:

● Sid Bowdidge, assistant to the secretary of energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Before working for the Trump campaign, Bowdidge, from 2013 to 2015, was manager of the Meineke Car Care branch in Seabrook, N.H. He previously was service and branch manager for tire shops. I don’t know what qualified Bowdidge for his position, but I do know this: He is not going to pay a lot for that muffler. (He had to hit the road, losing his job after it was discovered he had called Muslims “maggots.”)

● Victoria Barton, congressional relations for Regions II, V and VI, Department of Housing and Urban Development. Prior to working for the Trump campaign, Barton was an office manager and, between 2013 and 2015, a “bartender/bar manager.” The expertise in housing policy possessed by Barton is no doubt invaluable to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, a retired brain surgeon.

● Christopher Hagan, a confidential assistant at the Agriculture Department. Before working on the Trump campaign, he was, between 2009 and 2015, a “cabana attendant” at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y. According to his résumé, he “identified and addressed customer’s needs in a timely and orderly manner.”

This is important, because you never know when somebody at the USDA is going to need a towel.

● Nick Brusky, also a confidential assistant at the USDA. The Trump campaign worker previously drove a truck. He was a trustee in Butler Township, Ohio, at the same time, and, as Politico noted, his résumé lists coursework but no degree.

● David Matthews, yet another confidential assistant at the Agriculture Department, developed scented candles while also serving as a “legal receptionist” before joining the Trump campaign.

Some of the other “best” people Trump has hired are well known. Lynne Patton, HUD regional administrator, previously arranged Trump golf tournaments and arranged Eric Trump’s wedding, among other things. Callista Gingrich, just confirmed as ambassador to the Vatican, prepared for this by writing children’s books, singing in a church choir — and being married to Trump ally Newt Gingrich.

Others now in high office are less known: an office page, the author of an anti-Clinton book, a Christian-school librarian, a couple of real estate brokers and a landscaper. Many don’t appear to meet the educational qualifications for their positions. But they did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

One can imagine the chairman of an interagency task force going around the table asking each department what should be in the infrastructure bill:

“Transportation Department?”

“Don’t know, sir. I was an Uber driver before I joined the campaign.”

“Army Corps of Engineers?”

“Pass. I ran a coin-operated laundromat.”

“Surely somebody here knows something about infrastructure?”


“I was a toll-taker on the New Jersey Turnpike before the campaign. Now I’m in charge of climate science at the EPA.”

Anybody else? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 November 2017 at 9:30 am

A lavender morning, with the RazoRock Old Type

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The brush I bought from Chiseled Face but it apparently is no longer offered. I like it quite a bit, and it did a fine job with Meißner Tremonia’s Lavender de Luxe, a very nice soap with a wonderful fragrance.

The RazoRock Old Type is a remarkably good razor—indeed I think I prefer it to the Parker 24C/26C and the Maggard V2OC. The Old Type is more comfortable but at least equally efficient—and it sells at half the price (plus you can buy the head by itself). A great bargain and a fine razor.

Three passes, a splash of Vitos Colonia Lavanda, and The Wife gets home today.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 November 2017 at 9:15 am

Posted in Shaving

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