On the Death of Hobbes

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

--Robert Service, The Cremation of Sam McGee

It's wonderful to quote a little bit of that poem. It was my Grandmother's favorite, and if properly wheedled she would quote it from memory to us pesky little grandchildren. She's passed, lo these years gone by, but the poem remains a favorite connection to her. If you have never read it, stop wasting time on my blog, click the link above and read it, out loud, wherever you are. If you want to annoy your Granny, try chanting it to the tune of 'Gilligan's Island'. If you have read it then you'll know that the climax of the poem is when poor, chilly Sam McGee meets his final reward inside a funeral pyre.

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Guest Blogging for The Crescent City

French Quarter, New Orleans. They never mention the other three-quarters.

Fun and exciting news! I'll be guest-blogging over at NOJuju tomorrow. NOJuju is a food/culture/lifestyle blog, principally about New Orleans. It's written by my dear friend Julie, who lives there in the heart of things. She's a great source of NO culture and important information, like where to get a good SnoBall and who has a good Po' Boy. She's taking a break to give her typing-gronked hands and wrists a rest so I seized on the opportunity to rampage around someone else's playground for a while, talking my usual nonsense on her dime. You should read her blog all the time, just for the cooking adventures. Julie is the one who introduced me to Puy Lentils, for which I owe her big time, and her food is always drool-worthy.

I'd love to write something insightful and pithy about The Crescent City's culture ('The Crescent City' is a poetic name for NO. Calling it 'The Big Easy' marks you as a gringo as surely as calling San Francisco 'Frisco') but I've only ever been there once, not enough to take the whole majestic, frantic party in. It was at the annual HWBTA conference (Hobby Wines and Beer Trade Association, now defunct) and while the visit was way too short (only one week) we were there we ate like kings the whole time: Brennan's, Commander's Palace, Emeril's NOLA and half a dozen other places. If I was going to draw any conclusions from my short stay there it would be that a) I have no idea how people eat and drink like that and don't blow up to zeppelin size, and b) vegetables seemed to be in very short supply, overtaken by dense, rich foods like gumbo, jambalaya and any amount of seafood you could hold.

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My Basil Is Not Faulty

Oh, ocimum basilicum, you tender green temptress

The garden his been a bit challenging this year: our garlic and tomatoes both got blight, we only got one head of cabbage (but it's the size of a beach-ball), beavers got one of our grapevines and the strawberries and corn have come to naught. But on the other hand we did really well on broccoli, zucchini, squash, lettuces and of course, on our beloved basil. We do quite a bit of Italian cooking at home, and there's nothing to make you feel wealthy like having all the basil in the world to put in salads, sauces and especially pesto. Every year I plant at least a half-dozen basil plants, usually focusing on good old sweet basil, although sometimes I do plant the exotics like lemon basil (amazing on fish) or Cinnamon basil (fantastic in iced lemonade).

It's getting on in the season, and I had been deadheading the plants (removing flowering tops) for weeks when I noticed the leaves were just starting to get a little bit tougher. Time to harvest for pesto! The pile above represents all that was left in our garden. If you had to buy it at a grocery store, a) it probably wouldn't be as fresh as this, and b) it would cost a day's pay.

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A Beer Pour On a Champagne Budget

It's Champagne all the way down

From the Blindingly Obvious Department at Reims University in France comes the news, published int the Jouranl of Agrucultural and Food Chemistry, that French Scientists Discover the Best Way to Pour Champagne.

According to the article,

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Gardens, Parades, Road Trips, Et Cetera

beach at white rock
Life's a beach, but someone's got to do it

It's been a couple of fun weeks here at Chaos Manor: vacation, Vegas, cooking, gardening, birthdays, road trips, and some very merry afternoons on the patio. We had a little bit of inclement weather in August, but fortunately we chose to go to Nevada for precisely that period, so walked into 42 degree C (about 8 million F) sunshine in Vegas. Fortunately it was a dry heat, which means I had to drink four times as much to keep hydrated . . . I love that kind of weather!

patio at home
It's Mojito weather!

We managed to keep our cool, but the gardens went out of control. We got a lot of great veggies this year.

Green things to left are cukes, purple-orange up top are heritage carrots, taters in the middle, the rest zucchini

We're almost at the point where we're breaking into houses to leave bags of zucchini, and it's only been by dint of eating stir-fry twice a week that we've kept ahead of the broccoli.


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Happy Birthday Erwin

Posting pictures of Erwin is difficult: you either know where they are or where they're going, but not both.

August 12th, 1878 marked the birth of the man who invented the future: Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger. While he’s not quite a household name, in his position as the father of quantum physics he contributed to the original ideas that shape the way we approach the 21st century. He was also credited by Watson and Crick as the man who pointed the way to DNA and the storage of genetic information in molecules.

He was a very complicated guy, and extremely unconventional for his time. While of Austrian birth, he firmly rejected Nazism (despite having to dodge around it a few times), and to put it plainly, chased anything in a skirt, living with two women at the same time and fathering a passel of little quantum kiddies. Talk about your Verschränkung!

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Cooking Up Trouble

Mmm, nothing says home cooking like fried carrots

Of all the things I put on my blogs, from snide commentary to lectures on history, two things get the most commentary: my horrible little cat, and food. Last year I wrote about a food and wine tasting I lead for Winesense, and mentioned green salt. Since then I've had at least two dozen requests for the recipe, so I thought I'd reproduce it here, and throw in some pictures of the process.

In a food processor, process until smooth

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Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Look at that smug face. Couldn't you just give him a poke?

Ah, vacation: nothing like it to soothe the ravel'd sleeve of nature's cares. And that's where I've been lo this last while. I was pressed to use up some leftover time and traditionally take off the week of my wife's birthday, so I'm out of the office until the 16th-ish. So why am I blogging when I'm not at work? Two reasons: first, my wife can't see me so she can't smack me for working when I could be fixing that closet or weeding that garden, and second, I was a little behind (as usual) on blogging when I left for my holiday.

Things are going well. Because her birthday is over the BC Day weekend, there's always lots of fun things to do at home. We had a big dinner with her brother and his wife (lobsters and champagne!) then there was the Festival of the Sea and the torchlight parade and hot tubbing on the patio, one night there was an outdoor movie on East Beach (Elvis' Blue Hawaii) and last night there was a spectacular fireworks display at the Big White Rock.

Tomorrow I'm taking her to Las Vegas, where fun will be had--almost too much fun, I'm worried: between helicopter rides in the Grand Canyon, a Cirque du Soleil show, a spa-day and shooting machine guns on the strip I'm concerned we might come back overloaded and saturated with bright lights and big cheese. Ah well, it's an easy job and nobody has to do it.

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