Sunday, August 31, 2008

Life Downstairs

The townhouse we live in has a small bonus room, with laundry hookups, off the garage downstairs. When we moved in, 12-13 years ago, Bridget offered me the choice of that space for my "office". Sad to say, I probably laughed in her face and raced upstairs to claim the second bedroom with attached bathroom. She wound up with the downstairs bonus room as her sewing room.

Well, along came Samantha and I got booted out of my "office" because that was now her room. Eventually, this began to bother Bridget and she decided that she would take down her sewing room, move it into storage except for a few necessities, and put those necessities into the nook outside of Samantha's room at the top of the stairs.

It's taken her 3 years to achieve her goal, and tonight she made it. Everything in the bonus room, except for what I'm keeping, is in her storage unit or awaiting transport to same. Huzzah!

So. Tomorrow, I start moving all of my stuff, my junk, my toys, my crap downstairs. Oy...

My wife. Doer of great deeds. I salute you!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Poetry

Cole Porter, 1891 - 1964

I Get A Kick Out of You

My story is much too sad to be told,
but practically everything
leaves me totally cold.
The only exception I know is the case,
when I'm out on a quiet spree,
fighting vainly the old ennui
and I suddenly turn and see,
your fabulous face.

I get no kick from Champagne
Mere alchohol doesn't thrill me at all
so tell me why should it be true
that I get a kick
out of you

Some get a kick from cocaine
I'm sure that if I took even one sniff
that would bore me terrifficly too
yet I get a kick out of you

I get a kick every time I see you standing there before me
I get a kick though it's clear to me you obviously don't
adore me

I get no kick in a plane
Flying too high
with some guy in the sky is my idea of nothing to do

Yet I get a kick
Out of you

Lyrics from

Picture from

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Saturday Poetry

Conrad Aiken

All Lovely Things

All lovely things will have an ending,
All lovely things will fade and die,
And youth, that's now so bravely spending,
Will beg a penny by and by.

Fine ladies soon are all forgotten,
And goldenrod is dust when dead,
The sweetest flesh and flowers are rotten
And cobwebs tent the brightest head.

Come back, true love! Sweet youth, return!—
But time goes on, and will, unheeding,
Though hands will reach, and eyes will yearn,
And the wild days set true hearts bleeding.

Come back, true love! Sweet youth, remain!—
But goldenrod and daisies wither,
And over them blows autumn rain,
They pass, they pass, and know not whither.

Poem found at "American Poems"

Picture found at "Poetry Pearls", a Russian-language site

I'm in the money...

So. One of my household chores is the recycling. Mostly this entails packing up the cardboard of various sizes, the plastics (sorted by type) and miscellaneous (magazines, old phone books, tin cans, what not).

But then there's the cash recyclables, the ones that California requires retailers to charge on such items as bottles of water and soft drink cans. When I bag those up and finally get around to running them through a self-serve machine, that's a couple of bucks at a time for my fun fund.

It was my SKS fund, then it was my gun fund, now it's my fun fund. I'm finally starting to get it through my head that owning and shooting guns is an expensive hobby, and I can't afford to do that based on what I can find in my jeans pocket at any given moment.


Plus, Appleseed shoots cost money--$70 per weekend, I think. If I don't save up for these purchases and activities, I'll never get beyond what I have, where I am.

So, after responsibly saving the recycling money for, um, a month, I think, I've got $21. Yay me. It's a start.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dinner Conversations

Another evening, another delightful meal. My wife Bridget does a wonderful job of balancing nutritional requirements against Samantha's medical limitations (i.e., no tomatoes, no dairy, never any foods too high in galactose).

Prompted by who-knows-what, I remembered a book I had seen, possibly during my book store employment phase, about pre-Columbian cooking. No, not what the Mesoamericans ate, but what the Europeans ate before Columbus sailed to the New World and opened a new frontier of cooking and eating and taste.

I'm a garbage gourmand on a non-stop "see food" diet. Samantha, thank God, can't eat sweet breads, so fun things like kidneys and brains will never cross our plates, but beef and potatoes and typical American vegetables (carrots, peas, onions) do. Yum!

So what did the Europeans eat before Columbus? Remember, this was a dinner conversation, so it drifted, rather than flowed. We came up with:

--domesticated meat: beef, pork, chicken, fish (yeah, yeah, what're you gonna do, it's gotta go somewhere)

--game of all kinds: venison, boar, birds, rabbit

--fruit: apples, pears, grapes, berries. Bananas? (Nope.) And no tomatoes!

--vegetables: carrots, turnips, onions--but no potatoes! That and corn are New World foods! No sweet potatoes? No strawberries?

--grains: wheat, oats, barley. Rice?

From the "Home and Garden section of the New York Times, October 9 1991":

WHEN it comes to Columbus, Luisa di Giovanni, a biologist and historian, is less than sanguine. Ms. di Giovanni, a native of Genoa, will acknowledge that the foods brought back from the New World enriched the diets of various countries, but Italy benefited less than others.

As far as she's concerned (the tomato notwithstanding), Columbus's impact has been greatly exaggerated in his native land.

"It could be argued that in the exchange of foods, the newly discovered lands gained more than they gave," said Ms. di Giovanni. "Europe had a much richer variety of food than the Americas. We already had plenty of grains like wheat, rice, millet, rye and barley, so corn did not have that much impact, except to the poor. We also had domesticated animals, which we introduced to the Americas, plus plenty of fruits and vegetables."

To prove her point, and to put a somewhat different spin on the hoopla for the upcoming quincentennial of Columbus's voyage, she has devised an eight-course menu of dishes typical of 14th- and 15th-century Italy. The $45 meal is being served this week at Caffe Bondi, 7 West 20th Street in Manhattan...

Work on this week's pre-Columbian menu began about a year ago. (That's what happens when academics become interested in food.) Sure, there will be pasta, but no tomatoes. Potatoes, beans, sweet and hot peppers, turkey and chocolate are also noticeably absent from the meal.

"Potatoes have never been as important in our diet as in that of other European countries," said Ms. di Giovanni, "and the role of the tomato is exaggerated, especially by Americans whose idea of Italian food is mainly Neapolitan. The fact is that neither of these vegetables gained any acceptance in Europe much before the 18th century."

The meal will begin with fresh fruit -- grapes and figs -- because Ms. di Giovanni said doctors of Columbus's time thought raw fruit could only be eaten before a meal. And it ends not with coffee, which did not become popular in Europe until the 17th century, but with herbs and honey.

She said the difference between today's table and the historical example she developed for Caffe Bondi has more to do with how foods were prepared, combined and presented than with the ingredients. For example, a rich chicken soup is seasoned with pungent spices and thickened with ground almonds and Parmesan cheese. The bread is fragrant with rosemary and studded with raisins. A pudding-like concoction of sweetened and spiced rice with chicken and almond milk called bramagere is served as the third course.

Fried ravioli with a pork-and-cheese filling comes with a dusting of sugar; quail wrapped in pancetta and stuffed with pomegranate seeds has quince jam on the side; fritters of eel with dried fruits and herbs are accompanied by a mellow carrot confit. Wines like Chianti, which Ms. di Giovanni said was first documented around 1400, are served with the dinner but not watered, spiced or sweetened as they probably were in the old days.

The dessert, a kind of fried custard with sweet preserved green squash jam (squash-like edible gourds were common in pre-Columbian Europe), was not much sweeter than the other dishes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MAS 1936

Went out and about this past Monday, wound up at Martin B. Rettig's in Culver City, prowling the rifles on the floor, looking for something <$250 OTD.

Found a MAS 1936--which meant nothing to me. After a day or so on the web, searching a ton of military surplus forums, I know quite a bit more.

It's a French bolt action in 7.5x54mm. Ammo suitable to shoot at Angeles Range (lead or copper-plated lead (FMJ))is not easy or cheap to find ("load your own!" seems to be the common retort), the stock is a little short (a rubber boot from the 36/51 grenade launcher update is available), and only the rear sight adjusts via an almost impossible-to-find set of replacement leaves.

It's $189.99, about $234 OTD.

But, it can be rechambered to 7.62x51, which is to say, .308 Winchester.


UPDATE: After I found the MAS at Rettig's, I ran up to Santa Fe Gun Galeria in Palmdale to see what they had. I had a vague memory that maybe they might have 7.5 MAS ammo...

And they're closed, Sunday and Monday. Well...spit.

So I ran back up there today, they were open, and sure enough they had 7.5 MAS. Two kinds! One was in small, anonymous packages with Arabic writing--probably Syrian mil-surplus steel-jacketed, but the other was blue box FNM, non-magnetic! $17 for 20 rounds, 4 boxes available with no certainity of getting anymore in stock. Ever.

So there you have it. A French mil-surp weapon at one store, commercial ammo at another. And only 60 miles apart.