Category: Hobbies and Projects

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My thousandth book: Fate deems it so

March 23, 2010 | 1 comment { Books & Learning, Letterpress }
IMG_56445616 x 3744

I’ve been shopping at Powell’s City of Books for my entire life, and as such, maintain a complicated, sometimes fretful relationship with the enormous bookstore not unlike relationships I might carry on with a human, full of bluster and happy times and occasionally anger. In the way of a blunted, old friendship, sometimes I take for granted the gems that still can be found.

My goal was to find a good edition of Plato’s Republic, but I was in, oh, what you might call the Plato section; this being Powell’s, reputed to be the largest bookstore in the free world, you could probably build an inhabitable structure out of their selection of Platonic texts. Tucked into the rows somewhere, which, by dint of the astronomical number of volumes Powell’s holds and the rather unassuming dun brown color of the spine, was an adorable copy of Plato’s Symposium or Supper from the Nonesuch Press, from 1924.

Iceland: A challenge even for the cuisine-bold

March 15, 2010 | 5 comments { Food, Travel }
No, thanks

I am seriously pro-food. I like to think about food, read about food, gently prod food, ferment food, garnish food, smell food, buy food, seek food and experience new food. I regale the difference between 6-month and 12-month Manchego, care whether asparagus is in season, and am honestly fond of (not just making a point of) eating sweetbreads (thymus and pancreas, usually, of calf), bone marrow, squid and fermented fish sauce. However, my upcoming trip to Iceland is making me gustatorily anxious.

Icelandic food specialties read more like grievous and fatal fraternity hazing rituals than anything that a human with extant taste buds and olfactory capability would submit to willingly. The regional recipes manage to get an F- on each of the rough trinity of food-is-yummy criteria, offending the user psychologically, aesthetically, and sensually.

Mmmm, Fragrant: The dangers of the distillation season

March 9, 2010 { Books & Learning, Hobbies and Projects }

With the early arrival of “magnolia season” here in town, I’m looking ahead to the year’s bounty in terms of things I can heat up a lot and force oil out of. Yep, it’s almost time to take the big ol’ Portuguese alembic copper pot still off of the shelf.

The great hurdle with distilling your own essential oils is obtaining knowledge.

This is unfortunate, because mistakes are not always benign in this craft and I could sure use a strong guiding hand. Distilling the wrong kind of cedar can make your lungs bleed. Being a doofus about your condenser setup can get you exploded.

Wine: Rosso Salento: It doesn’t taste like (my conception of) Italy

February 18, 2010 | 1 comment { Wine }

This post is part of my ongoing goal in 2010 to “fix my little problem” with Italian wines. In other words, my ignorance. It’s slow going. Tonight I’m sipping a wine that is startling me: 2006 Felline Alberello Rosso Salento.

This wine tastes like something from California or Australia. Approaching opacity, dense, sugar-plum jam. Why does this wine taste like this? My perception of Italian wines: dusty-dry, sere, almost fruitless, reds that require a certain fortitude and often a whole lot of food to enjoy appropriately.

This wine is nothing like that.

Photo of Negroamaro grapes by Pietro Di Bello

Geek: WordPress: Quick Snippet for dynamically using custom single post templates

February 2, 2010 | 1 comment { Geek }

In my recent efforts to streamline publishing processes on my blog, I find that I need an automated way to use a custom single post template for certain of my posts. There’s a great plugin—Single Post Template—out there, but it means I’d have to remember to assign the right posts to the right template. I found a quick way to hook into WordPress and insert some logic to use my own custom single post template based on my own criteria: maybe you can use it, too?

WordPress icon by koka sexton

Letterpress: Business / Personal / Calling cards

February 1, 2010 | 4 comments { Letterpress, Life }

I wanted a piece in my stationery arsenal to bridge the gap between business cards and note cards. I get asked a lot at social events what my site was called again? How do you spell “Lyza”? It is my hope that these new cards give an idea of what interests me and how to find me.

In the end, I have about 50 first-rate cards and about 100 acceptable ones. I considered numbering the run of 50, but that seemed a touch pompous. Want one?

Wines on Fire: Torrontés and storytelling

January 30, 2010 | 2 comments { Life, Wine }

An impulsive campfire at Pencilhaven. Picture this from last night: a close dampness, later turning to a petulant drizzle; trying to keep the enthusiastic dog from wagging through the flames; a headlamp that was dying, dying, dying and; trying to read in this dying light from book of Roald Dahl short stories. I wrapped myself up in a blanket and tried to stay out of the wretched smoke. Oh, and some intriguing white wine from Argentina.

More Italian Wine Obscurity: Frappato

January 27, 2010 | 1 comment { Life, Wine }
Wine 202 at red slate wine

The more I start learning about Italy’s wines, the more I feel that regionalism and obscurity often defines the country’s offerings. That is, almost nothing is a single, consistent hallmark. Last week, at a “Wine 202″ class at Red Slate Wine, I tasted an Italian red so peculiar as to be compelling. And its existence makes me feel once again overwhelmed at the task I’ve set myself in 2010: learning about Italian wine.

Food: One dough to rule them all

January 13, 2010 { Food, Life }

You can do so many things with this dough that it’s almost not funny. I’ve memorized this recipe because it’s just that useful. Four quick ingredients turn into a stupidly large array of possibilities. My recipes here cover pizza and bagel derivatives, but I imagine that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Photo by Dalboz17

Recent Hobby Addition: Phenology

January 12, 2010 | 1 comment { Hobbies and Projects }

Let’s get something straight first. It’s important not to confuse phenology with phonology (linguistically relevant chunks of sound). Nor am I referring to phrenology, with its quackery, skull bumps and excuses for racism. Phenology is the study of recurring plant and animal life cycle stages—many of these events are sensitive to climatic variation and change.

Photo by Anita363

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From the Archive

From the archive, a few random posts that you might not have seen before.

Wonderful games with Caslon