replacing a failed kitchen tool

I have long had a Misto sprayer for olive oil in my kitchen. I am probably on my fourth or fifth Misto; I would not be without one.

old sprayerA while back I decided I wanted a sprayer for safflower oil as well. I love cooking with olive oil and do so whenever it is practical, but there are times when you are cooking at higher temperatures and olive oil simply won’t do the job. My high temperature oil of choice is safflower.

I went to Amazon and found a clear plastic pump bottle that was labeled as food-safe. I bought it and it worked well for a while. But then the tube that did the pumping came loose from the lid. My attempt to repair it with super glue failed. So back to Amazon.

new sprayerI spent a lot of time looking, researching, and comparing. I finally settled on a glass spray bottle that wasn’t specifically labeled as food-safe, but by implication seemed to be so. And a number of reviewers and answers to questions mentioned using it in the kitchen. I bought it and I’m happy with it. Because it is a regular spray bottle and not a pump bottle the spray does not fizzle out when the air pressure is gone. It is quality, solid, and doesn’t take up a lot of space. So indeed, I do like it and when Terry first tried it she was much happier with it than with the previous one.

It’s a great replacement for a less than optimal initial purchase.


idle time

I don’t believe that I’m the only person who finds it easy to consume idle time by picking up my iPhone and scrolling through Facebook. And it’s easy to let that be a time sink. The powers behind social media know how to use the same techniques used by casinos to keep you there rather than simply moving on.

iPhone 8I’m trying to break that habit. I have discovered that it is easy and comfortable to read a Kindle book on my iPhone 8, something that was not the case with my antiquated iPhone 5s. So I am consciously training myself to click the Facebook icon, take a quick look and then move on to whatever book I am reading on my iPhone Kindle app (which will always be different from what I am reading on my iPad Kindle app). Facebook is making this easier for me by showing me posts that are several days old high in my newsfeed and by burying the Most Recent link.

More book reading, less Facebook. That is a Good Thing.


anticipation

I was way past due in getting my eye exam. The coating was peeling off my progressive glasses and my computer glasses weren’t doing the job. I needed new glasses, but I was watching the dollars and cents.

eyeglassesAfter Social Security kicked in, which happened in September, I decided to move forward. I wanted to get my glasses locally, rather than driving to Kaiser in Moreno Valley, about 45 minutes away. With the AARP/EyeMed discount I thought I could get a good price at our Hemet LensCrafters. But Kaiser provides a no-copay eye exam, so I made the schlep to Moreno Valley for that. While I was there I got a quote on both progressive and computer glasses. I didn’t realize how good the price was.

The next day I went to the LensCrafters here and was in for an unpleasant surprise. Their price was $400 more than Kaiser. Yikes! I thought about checking out Walmart, but the Yelp and Google reviews about the local Walmart were quite negative: both with respect to the staff and the quality of the eyewear.

So back to Kaiser, 45 minutes notwithstanding, on Monday, a week ago today. Fortunately Kaiser was open, even though it was Veterans Day. (Yes, I checked first.) The optician was great. She helped me find a pair of frames that I liked for my progressives, and went out of her way to help me find a pair of frames for my computer glasses that I could quickly and easily distinguish from my progressives. (I need that. I will get up from the computer and go off an do something, only to realize that I’m still wearing my computer glasses.)

The optician said it would take two weeks for the two pair to arrive, but I had a call this morning saying that they were in. I’m looking forward to picking them up.


No Time to Spare

No Time To Spare coverNo Time to Spare
Ursula K. Le Guin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, December 5, 2017
241 pages
Kindle edition $9.99, Amazon paperback $8.99

I have long been familiar with Ursula Le Guin. I read her Earthsea Trilogy (when it was still only a trilogy) during my year in exile in Laredo, Texas, 1977-78. I was interested to learn, then, that she maintained a blog from roughly 2010 to 2014. I’m sorry that I wasn’t aware of it when it was live, but I was happy that some of the entries were compiled in this volume.

I initially thought that the title meant that there is too much work to be done, so there is no time to spare, but early in the book Le Guin says that there is no time to spare because of her advanced age.

Le Guin covers the waterfront in this compilation. She writes about her rustic house in Oregon. She writes about her correspondences from fans, about feminism, politics, and society, and about attending concerts. In several entries she tells us about her feisty cat, Pard. When she feels strongly about something she does not mince words. We know where she stands.

I read No Time to Spare on my iPhone 8. I had a Kindle app on my old iPhone 5s, but the screen was simply too small to be practical for that purpose. The iPhone 8 screen is large enough to make a book readable. I wouldn’t recommend War and Peace, but a short book of essays like this one makes for enjoyable reading wherever I might be.


Tragedy, the Greeks, and Us

Tragedy the Greeks and Us coverTragedy, the Greeks, and Us
Simon Critchley
Narrated by John Lee
Random House Audio, April 16, 2019
$17.15 for Audible members, more for non-members
purchased with an Audible credit

As a classics major in college I took a semester-long Greek Tragedy course and read Greek tragedies in other classes as well. I was intrigued, then, when I read a positive review of this book.

Critchley offers some interesting insights here. He points out that in Greek tragedy the deceiver and the deceived have more insight than the non-deceiver and the non-deceived (Oedipus). He discusses how women in Greek tragedy are the polar opposite of how they were treated and expected to behave in classical Greek society (Clytemnestra, Antigone). Critchley is no elderly, doddering classicist. He makes references to social media, punk rock, and the Marx brothers. He sees Greek tragedy in the light of today’s world.

The author discusses how Greek tragedy was influenced (apparently) by the Sophists, and spends a lot of time analyzing Plato and Aristotle’s perspectives on tragedy. Plato saw no role for tragedy (or poetry) in his “just state” as set forth in The Republic. Such diversions would, Plato believed, take men’s (and only men in classical Greek society) minds away from more essential pursuits. Aristotle, on the other hand, analyzed tragedy in considerable detail and discussed what tragedy should and should not be.

The book is expertly read by John Lee, who does so in a rather declamatory manner, appropriate for both the subject matter and Critchley’s text. This was time well spent.


improvising with bread

By the time we left Gilroy in May of 2015 I was a pretty confident bread baker. I didn’t need to follow a recipe: I knew the proportions required for a decent loaf and could play it by ear.

When we moved down here I stopped baking bread. In part I wasn’t confident that the oven that came with the house could produce a decent loaf. And part of it, if I’m being honest with myself, was sour grapes at having to give up my beloved convection oven in Gilroy.

This spring here in Hemet we bought a new stove with convection oven. We had to. The old oven was dead and the cost of repairing it was half the cost of buying a whole new unit. But the purchase made me a happy guy and all of a sudden King Arthur Flour had my business again.

Super 10 blend bread loafIt had been four years since I had baked bread, so I went back to my recipes. But once I regained my stride I started leaving those recipes on the shelf and making what inspired me.

I love sourdough bread, but Terry enjoys whole wheat and multi-grain breads, so I mix it up. King Arthur changes their multi-grain flour mixtures depending on what ingredients are available to them. The most recent formulation that I bought was their Super 10 Blend. Last week I made a loaf with 25% Super 10, 25% whole wheat, and 50% bread flour (along with a good measure of vital wheat gluten). It turned out quite well. That’s the loaf pictured here. I like the Super 10 blend; next time I’ll make a loaf with 50% Super 10.

This week, however, it’s sourdough French bread.

The journey continues.


The Dictionary Wars

Dictionary Wars coverThe Dictionary Wars: The American Fight over the English Language
Peter Martin
Princeton University Press (May 28, 2019)
368 pages
Kindle edition $9.88, Amazon Hardcover $19.03

Noah Webster is known, obviously, for his dictionary of American English. He was, however, not a skilled lexicographer, he was rather thin-skinned, and inserted his religious and moral beliefs into his dictionary entries. The Dictionary Wars describes this complex man and his lexicographical legacy.

It turns out that Webster was highly inconsistent in his original dictionary and was really bad at etymology. He also had some odd ideas about Americanizing spelling to distinguish American English from British. Some of his reforms caught on (“theater” rather than “theatre”), but many of his proposals were just weird, and were reversed in later editions.

The dictionary process became quite the family affair as he recruited his sons-in-law to assist in revisions and abridgements (he had three daughters). All of this was rather interesting, but the descriptions of ongoing battles after Webster’s death over ownership of various editions and whether competing dictionaries had plagiarized Webster became tedious while occupying something like the last third of the book. Those battles ended only with the deaths of those involved in the disputes.

There is some engaging material here, but one has to be a real language nerd to make it all the way through this book. As it was I skimmed the last several chapters.