Later On

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

Archive for September 21st, 2020

“Everyone Has a Tom Pritchard Story. Only I Have His Bike.”

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Fascinating (and lengthy) profile of a fascinating man, written by Ben Montgomery in Bicycling:

Let’s open this story with my bike, because this is a cycling magazine and because it might be helpful to begin with something tactile. To call it a bike seems so informal. It’s like calling a ’67 Pontiac GTO a car, or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers a band. This is a bike, yes, in that it has two wheels and can get you from here to there. But it’s more than that. And I can’t tell you why just yet, but I promise I’ll get there. Meanwhile, take a look at the bike. It is finished in metallic black so subdued you have to lean in to see the sparkle; and if you do, you’ll notice a few scratches and dings on the tubing. It’s 44 years old, after all, older than me by two years. The frame is held together by Prugnat long-point lugs. Run your fingers over the hand-brazed butted tubing, the sloping fork crown, the 16.5-inch chainstay. Caress the Avocet Touring I saddle, the Satri-Gallet seatpost, the Cinelli handlebar, and the Campagnolo Record calipers

What you won’t find anywhere is a serial number or a badge or a sticker, or anything flashy suggesting a brand. From what I’ve learned about the builder, that is as it should be. If 330 million Americans walked past this bicycle, maybe 10,000 would take a closer look. Maybe a thousand would try to steal it. And I’ll bet fewer than a hundred would be able to determine its provenance. That’s all guesswork, of course, but go with me: Just .00003 percent of all Americans could recognize the value of this piece of craftsmanship.

I love riding this bicycle. It rides hungry, sturdy, and smooth as a cat, and if you close your eyes it feels like you’re skimming the edge of a dream. If my apartment caught fire, I would make every attempt to salvage it.

I’ve called it mine, but that’s not exactly accurate. I didn’t buy it. Maybe it belongs to the universe. I feel like it found me. And that’s this story. The bike came to me by death, but this is a story about a life, one life, really lived.


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In late 2008, I got an assignment. I was working as a features reporter for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, and my editor asked me to profile a local chef who was the subject of an upcoming charity roast, a fundraiser for disabled veterans. The guy’s name was Tom Pritchard, but everybody called him Chef Tom.

Earlier that year I’d broken a story on a different chef, a fabulist named Robert Irvine, who had a Food Network show called Dinner: Impossible and a new cookbook from HarperCollins. He had plans to open a restaurant in St. Petersburg until I reported that his impressive-looking résumé was cooked up: He had not been knighted by the Queen of England, nor did he have a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Leeds, nor was he friends with Prince Charles. Irvine lost his TV show and canceled his restaurant plans, and I won an award from the Association of Food Journalists. I was licking my chops at the chance to fact-check another chef.

I read everything I could find about Tom Pritchard in the local newspapers, which amounted to a handful of rave reviews of restaurants he had run: the 94th Aero Squadron, the Grill at Feather Sound, and Salt Rock Grill. According to Times food critic Chris Sherman, Salt Rock Grill was the best new restaurant in the area: “…so far above beach condo bland I am tempted to invoke a word rarely heard in these parts, ‘hip,’” Sherman wrote in 1997. It took a few phone calls to get myself invited to a planning meeting for the roast. When I arrived, I found a crowd hovering around Tom. He was 67 then, and sat slouched in a patio chair, wearing shorts, sandals, and a dirty T-shirt. The breast pocket contained an assortment of ink pens, a small notebook, and a meat thermometer. The people around him were urging him to tell a story, like kindergarteners.

Tom’s bushy white-and-au jus beard couldn’t hide his grin, but he seemed uncomfortable with the attention.

Tell the one about snorting Tabasco sauce, someone said.

Tom looked up. “Anyone can drink Tabasco,” he mumbled.

Thus began the Tabasco story. He’d found himself in Aspen, Colorado, in a hard-boiled-egg-eating contest against the 400-pound hard-boiled-egg-eating champion of the world. To win he would have to cheat, and he needed something that would strip the lining of his mouth and make him salivate. So he stuck a straw through a cheese puff into a bottle of Tabasco sauce and snorted.

“I got so far ahead of him,” Tom said, “but by the end, he almost caught me because I ran out of hot sauce.”

The crowd around Tom slurped it up.

He had so many stories. He’d tried to smuggle hash into Spain in a size 13 cowboy boot box, got spooked, and dumped it. After serving in Vietnam, he’d worked as a mercenary on top-secret missions to undisclosed locations. At the Jamaica Inn on Key Biscayne, he personally thanked Richard Nixon for working out a trade deal with Mexico that allowed the free flow of tequila across the border. He once served heavyweight legend Sonny Liston seven pounds of carp.

“Every story he’s told me is beyond convincing,” a financial advisor named Howard Sachs told me back then. “He’s as close to Forrest Gump as anybody I’ve ever met.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2020 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Daily life

Kevin Drum provides some optimism regarding the US Senate

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Liberals need cheering up. This post helps.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2020 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Congress, Politics

Eating (and cooking) greens

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Dr. Michael Greger has one newsletter specifically devoted to the Daily Dozen, and this morning I received the one regarding Greens, an important component of the Daily Dozen. It includes “quick tips”:

Greens – add to just about any meal or snack: smoothies, soups, stews, pasta dishes, and sandwiches. If two cups of raw kale is intimidating to you, chop it and cook it down.

and “fast facts”:

  • Eating greens nearly every day may be one of the most powerful steps you can take to prolong your life. Of all the food groups analyzed by a team of Harvard University researchers, greens turned out to be associated with the strongest protection against major chronic diseases, including up to about a 20 percent reduction in risk for both heart attacks and strokes for every additional daily serving. – How Not to Die
  • Nitrates are one of the reasons Dr. Greger’s free Daily Dozen app contains a category specifically for dark green leafy vegetables. Nitric oxide from vegetable nitrates, such as greens, not only improves oxygen efficiency, but also oxygen delivery by vasodilating blood vessels, opening up arteries so there’s more blood flow. This effect may be beneficial for athletes (for improving athletic performance), as well as people with high blood pressure and peripheral artery disease.
  • Researchers have found that kale—that dark-green, leafy vegetable dubbed the “queen of greens”—might help control cholesterol levels. – How Not to Die

and recipes:

Smoky Black-Eyed Peas & Collards

This Southern classic is a delicious way to enjoy your greens. If fresh collards are unavailable, substitute frozen collards or another dark green leafy vegetable, such as kale. I can’t get enough of this dish, especially when it’s over quinoa or brown, black, or red rice

Portobellos & Greens on Toast

As much as I love mushrooms, they are seldom a main dish for me. Portobellos are the exception because they’re so hearty and satisfying. This open-faced knife-and-fork sandwich makes a quick and easy lunch or dinner entrée.

Sweet Potato Veggie Bowl

This sweet potato veggie bowl is super simple and can be modified with ingredients you have at home. Mix up the kind of veggies, beans, or spices to make the dish completely your own!

and a medication note:

For people taking warfarin (AKA Coumadin), talk with your physician before increasing greens in your diet so that the dosing of the drug can be adjusted to your regular intake of greens. Greens are a great source of Vitamin K and this can interfere with the how warfarin works in the body.

He also includes a link to the topic pages on Cruciferous Vegetables and on Greens. Both those links are worth a click and the brief (usually five minutes) videos are extremely informative.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2020 at 10:53 am

An observation on learning a language

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I’ve noticed that certain Esperanto words and phrases have progressed from being known to being familiar — like moving from being an acquaintance whom you recognize to being a friend whom you know. These words I no longer translate in my mind since now for me they carry their own meaning: I know them and what they are.

Such words are still, of course, a minority: many more words are mere acquaintances, some of whom I’ve just met and barely recognize, and an even greater number of words I have yet to meet at all. But daily I gather more words to me, and a few more move into the friendship circle.

Occasionally I find I need to build a word. Here’s an example: A person close to me has a practice of tasting a meal and then setting aside a small portion — a mouthful — that incorporates the best tastes of the meal. For a breakfast, that might be a small bit of buttery egg-soaked toast with a little square of bacon. The idea is to choose the taste(s) that end the meal and that you take with you.

This small portion is called the “last bite.” In Esperanto, “mordi” means “to bite,” and thus “mordo” is a bite, but the action of biting rather than the contents — it’s “bite” in the sense “the horse took a bite at me.” The suffix -aĵo means a concrete manifestation of the root, so a “mordaĵo” refers to what is bitten off, the content of the bite rather than the act.

Literally, then “last bite” would be “lasta mordaĵo” or “fina mordaĵo” (“last” = last, “fina” = final), but that doesn’t really capture what’s going on. After all, everyone’s meal ends with a final bite, generally involving no conscious selection and rarely having set aside that bite early for the specific purpose of its being the final taste, the Last Bite.

I came up with “restigata mordaĵo” The verb “resti” means to stay or remain (not the English “to rest” — that’s “ripozi”), and the suffix -igi means “to cause to.” That suffix functions as a switch to turn an intransitive verb into a transitive verb.

So “restigi” is transitive and means “to make (something) remain/stay.”

Kiam mi iras al mia laborejo, mi restigas la hundon hejme.
When I go to my workplace, I make the dog stay at home.

(“-ejo” is another suffix, meaning “place where” (related to the root). “Labori” means “to work,” so “laborejo” is the place where word happens: the workplace.)

The Esperanto present passive participle of a verb (any verb — no irregular verbs in Esperanto) is indicated by a suffix, -ata (for the adjective form). So “restigata” describes something that has been caused to remain. “Last Bite” = restigata mordaĵo.

Update: I’m told that “mordaĵo” refers to a bite taken out of something — e.g., a bite from an apple — and not a bite-size quantity. So referring to food on a plate as mordaĵo has a connotation that it is food that was bitten off and then put onto the plate (not an appetizing idea).

Perhaps “buŝkvanta porcio” would serve better: a mouth-sized portion (literally, a mouth-quantity portion). I’m pretty happy with restigata, however.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2020 at 10:14 am

Posted in Esperanto

Tabacco verde reprised: Tcheon Fung Sing and Alt-Innsbruck with Pro 48 and iKon slant

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We begin with the Italians: the wonderful Omega Pro 48 (10048) and Tcheon Fung Sing’s Tabacca Verde shaving soap. The lather seemed especially good, as did the shave with the iKon slant. I went through a period where this razor wasn’t working for me and I even considered selling it. But I kept it and once I paid attention to angle (and moved the handle farther from my face) and pressure, it regained its charm and its initial excellence that I recall from when I first got the razor.

It’s extremely comfortable now, and the shave is spectacular. I noted this morning how easily it moved through the (two-day) stubble. It’s one of those things that paid off big-time by sticking to it through a rough patch.

A splash of Alt-Innsbruck on my perfectly smooth face finished the shave and started the week.

Written by Leisureguy

21 September 2020 at 8:59 am

Posted in Shaving

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