31 July 2013

Beer Hunting

Late last year, Narragansett Beer started releasing "private stock" limited-edition craft brews, beyond their seasonal offerings like Porter and Summer Ale. I managed to miss both of the first two; I went to both of the large local stores I tend to buy beer at, and neither one had either of them.

Then I happened to be over in Somerville's Ball Square one day and went into Ball Square Fine Wines, where Giuseppe from An Affordable Wardrobe works when he's not out scouring thrift stores for overlooked gems. He told me that his store had carried both of the previous limited editions, and observed that "this neighborhood is full of beer geeks."

The third limited beer, Imperial Black Steam, was released a couple of weeks ago, and I was able to make my way over to Ball Square again last Saturday and got a bottle. I enjoyed it last night with a burrito from Anna's. It was a lot like a stout, though at about 9% alcohol by volume it was definitely stronger than Guinness. A bit heavy for summer drinking, but still worth tasting.

30 July 2013

An Observation

Hiccups seem to go away as soon as you stop thinking about trying to get them to go away...

Nine-Passenger Awesomeness

The car show pictures from a couple of weeks ago got a decent response, and I will try to do more of that sort of thing if opportunities present themselves. Naturally there are plenty of websites dedicated to old cars, and I frequent a few of them.

My favorite is Curbside Classic, which has been around for a couple of years. Apparently all older cars go to Eugene, OR to live on forever, based on the volume of vehicles the site's founder finds and photographs in his daily travels. But there are other contributors to the site who live in other parts of the country and find cool stuff as well.

CC does occasional themed programming, and this week they are highlighting vintage products from Chrysler Corporation. I have a personal bias toward anything From Mopar (that's a colloquialism for a Dodge, Plymouth, or Chrysler), having grown up riding around in a Plymouth station wagon and a Dodge Polara (among other cars). You may remember that my car show posts featured a Chrysler 300E, a Dodge Polara, an Imperial Crown, and a Plymouth Satellite; I was pleased that I was able to get pics of at least one model from each brand.

The basic body style worn by the 1959 300E carried through the 1961 model year, before the fins finally got clipped for '62. Today on CC there is a magnificent 1961 Chrysler Town & Country station wagon from a car show in Moline, IL. I love station wagons in general, but I'm going absolutely nuts over this one.

I personally prefer the 1960 models, which look similar but have much more attractive front ends (those angled headlights on the '61 spoil it for me). But back to this wagon. What an incredible shade of blue—according to the brochure for that year, it was called Capri Blue and the top is Parisian Blue. And of course the interior is a matching shade of blue. That's one of the things I miss most about cars: interiors that aren't gray, beige, or black.

Only 760 of the three-seat models were made for model year 1961, which isn't surprising considering this was an expensive car at the time, listing at nearly $5000 before options. People who bought station wagons were somewhat less likely to care about luxury (that sure changed with SUVs), and people who bought luxury cars were less likely to want or need a station wagon.

Go look at it again. LOOK AT IT. It's 219 glorious inches long! It's so hard to believe that cars like this were ever made, and people drove things as big and outlandish as this as just their everyday cars. Look at the details: those doors have no frames around the windows, and there is no center pillar between them. That's right, this is a pillarless hardtop station wagon. Chrysler wasn't the first to build such a car, but I'm pretty sure they were the last.

Check out those chrome handles on either side of the rear window, the rear view mirror mounted on the dashboard, the nine decorative trim pieces on each side behind the rear wheels (because I guess eight would look too plain, but ten would be overdoing it). The steering wheel is clear lucite, for crap's sake. People sat around and thought of this stuff, and it got put on the car. Oh, and there's no shift lever coming out of the steering column because the automatic transmission was operated via pushbuttons on the left side of the wheel (out of view in the interior pic, but you can see them in this picture to the left of the speedometer and behind the steering wheel).

With modern cars, it's "if we make the tail light lenses out of a slightly thinner plastic, we can save six cents per car." And "beige and gray interiors go with everything so those are the only two choices we need, and let's only offer six color choices for the outside because everyone's going to want silver, white, or black anyway." I know Detroit's old ways were not sustainable, but this is some car. For what you paid for it, you really got something special.

(There are some additional pictures of this Chrysler, from a different event, here.)

Addendum: following up on my remark above about new-car colors, I just saw this chart that backs up my assertion. Over 60% of new cars bought worldwide in 2012 were white, black, or silver; if you include gray, the number jumps to 76%. Boring.

28 July 2013

This Week in Awesome (7/27/13)

Couldn't we have a few more days like Thursday and Friday?

Another Archer-based mashup, this time with animation from a different show. (Blastr via TV Tattle)

I feature a lot of stuff about Boston and New York, but Los Angeles is another American city that has long held a fascination for me, so I was pleased to learn of this site. (Hemmings Blog)

Speaking of Boston, there's a new blog on boston dot com that looks back on some of the area's older, less gentrified days.

This week's time-lapse is definitely not the usual stuff. (Laughing Squid)

And finally this week, Jalopnik's Patrick George takes a look back at BMW's "The Hire" series of short films, starring Clive Owen as "The Driver," which began appearing in 2001.

26 July 2013

Retro Video Unit (7/26/13)

Sometimes I just remember old bands and songs out of nowhere, with no prompting or a coincidental hearing of a song on radio somewhere—that's how this one got here. The band is Our Daughter's Wedding, and the song is "Lawnchairs" from 1981. I had a friend in college who was particularly fond of this one...

Paying to Shop?

So Gilt is having one of their periodic warehouse sales in Boston tomorrow, but they want me to pay $10 to get in? The only things I've ever bought from them are undershirts that I ended up returning because the website had misstated the fabric content, and a casual shirt that I only wore for a couple of years.

Maybe if the admission fee was going to a charitable organization like the Jimmy Fund it would feel worth it, but even then I feel like I would be unlikely to find anything good enough, at a good enough deal, to make me feel like it was time and money well spent. I suspect that fashion-loving ladies probably get the better end of the deal.

Suit Drive

Do you have unused men's dress clothing taking up space? You could donate it to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, but wouldn't it be better if you knew your donation would directly benefit people in need?

Men's Wearhouse has an annual suit drive for usable business-attire clothing that they donate to various organizations that help men get outfitted for job interviews. It's going on this month: you can drop off suits, dress shirts, dress shoes, and outerwear at Men's Wearhouse locations. I just donated three suits, three dress shirts, and a trench coat. You get a tax-deduction receipt and a coupon good for 50% off regular-price merchandise for one month.

I should have mentioned this a while ago, but there's still time for donations this year. And I suspect that if you missed it and went into a store in August, they would still accept your donations.

25 July 2013

Watch Wednesday Follow-Up: The Departed

Over the years I've been writing this blog, I have posted around three dozen watches in my Watch Wednesday series, and that's only counting ones that I own, or owned. (I didn't know the exact number, so I had to go back and count the posts.) Over time I decided to sell a few of them, and there were a couple of others that I never posted because they were already in line to be sold for one reason or another.

Writing yesterday's post reminded me that there are a few watches that I'd posted that I no longer own, and that led me to the idea of doing a quick review of the ones I no longer have. Going back to look through the posts from the beginning, I posted a Seiko 5 automatic in May 2010 that I had purchased just a couple of weeks prior. It was a case of liking the look of it more than I ended up liking the actual watch. I didn't care for the hands, and it wore a little small on my wrist. I sold it not long after I posted it.

Then there was a quartz chronograph that I bought in 2008 and featured in June 2010. I wore it off and on for about four years, and it always ran perfectly, but by this past winter I was looking to sell some stuff on eBay and decided I didn't need to hang onto it any longer. It found a good home.

There was another Seiko automatic that I didn't like as much after I'd had it for a while, and that ended up selling this winter as well. Yesterday's watch is more or less replacing it, and I'm much happier with it overall and plan on keeping it a long time.

There are a few others that I still have, but have stopped working or are problematic in some other way. This Casio chronograph receives time setting signals every day via a radio frequency, but after I had to get the battery replaced it would not set properly. It's now running about four hours ahead of where it should be, and the only way to get it to the correct time is to set it to a different time zone (there is no crown to set the time manually).

A couple of my many old Timex watches are also no longer working properly. I like this automatic a lot, but it was never in especially good condition and I'm probably lucky it kept acceptable time for as long as it did. It's not worth spending whatever it would cost to get it running properly again. Then there was an old Timex Carriage quartz that looked just like the ones J. Crew was selling for $150 (they recently dropped the price to $98, which is still too high). For a watch that cost no more than $20 new it lasted a long time, but even with a battery replacement it just stopped running one day, so that's that.

I'll be putting a couple of my other watches up for sale soon, and will post a link when I do so.

24 July 2013

Watch Wednesday (7/24/13)

What's this? Someone in my financial situation shouldn't be buying a watch. Well, I got this one back during the winter, with the money the landlord pays me to clear the snow. You may recall that we had a lot of snow this winter, so it was kind of like getting a bonus. I only just realized that I had never posted it here.
I'd had my eye on this Seiko chronograph for some time, since I first saw it back in the October issue of Esquire. Right after that, Dappered did a comparison between it and a Citizen chronograph, with the Seiko coming out slightly ahead in their opinion. I started watching it online, and over the next few months the price drifted downward another $25 or so, which worked in my favor. During that time it also went in and out of stock a lot on various websites, suggesting to me that it was popular.

This watch isn't as large as the picture makes it look; the case is 41 mm across not counting either crown. 42 mm is about the largest watch I can wear that doesn't make my wrist look like that of a nine-year-old, so a watch like this looks substantial without being excessive.

It has the sort of large-numeral dial that I've mentioned my fondness for, plus a rotating compass bezel inside the crystal. It's also solar powered, but that had no bearing on my purchase, nor did the compass. In fact the compass is a superfluous feature to me, and the crown that rotates it (the one adjacent to the 10 o'clock marker) gets moved at the slightest brush, so I end up adjusting it constantly. It would have been better if Seiko had made this one screw-down, or at least made it so the mechanism required a little more force to turn.

I also didn't care for the tan strap that came with it (shown at the above link). I was hoping it would look better in person than in pictures, but it's just too light and orangey for my taste. This is mainly why I tend to stick with black straps for my watches—it's really difficult to find attractive shades of tan or brown. In addition, this watch takes a 21 mm strap, which is one of the hardest sizes to find.

I ended up doing something I don't like to do: I bought a 22 mm strap and squeezed the edges in a little before putting it on the watch. It fits fine and I don't think anyone could tell if I didn't mention it, but as someone who likes to customize his watches with specific straps, the odd sizes are another barrier to getting it just right. (Ask anyone who owns a Rolex or Tudor that takes 19 mm straps.)

22 July 2013

Birds at Play?

The Mrs. did a window display for our local coffee shop, Mystic Coffee Roaster in Medford Square:
It's just an informal arrangement, she enjoys doing it and it helps the shop fill its window space.

21 July 2013

This Week in Awesome (7/20/13)

The heat wave may be over, but it doesn't feel any less humid here, at least not yet...

Jimmy Kimmel and his writers are obviously fans of Schoolhouse Rock. (TV Tattle)

Coming soon: more stupid reality shows. Tastefully Offensive)

Great illustrations of classic unibody Mac models. (Cult of Mac)

Monday marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Die Hard. Read a critical appreciation of the movie (Unlikely Words), and see a list of the 25 best action movies that have followed it (Vulture). (Be prepared to dispute some of the choices on that list and/or their placement.)

And finally this week, if you have an hour or so to spare and like Talking Heads, you'll want to check out this concert program from the BBC that was broadcast in 1984. (Laughing Squid)

19 July 2013

How's the Weather?

This week, miserable. All week. I don't enjoy summer the way most people do. Even when the weather is more tolerable, I'd rather be inside. I've just never been an outdoors person, and I consider the sun to be an enemy in roughly the same way a vampire does. Growing up we had a pool in our yard, but if I wasn't swimming I was indoors, either reading or building model cars in the basement, where it was cooler.

So when it's this hot and humid, we leave the house only when necessary. We also have to manage our dog's time outside; she's almost 12 and has always been sensitive to heat, but she isn't smart enough to realize that she shouldn't be outside on days like today. The poor thing is wiped out after only a couple of minutes of walking, even in the shade.

We've had another issue this week: flies. Since Sunday we've had nearly a dozen of them in the house. We don't know where they are coming from or what's attracting them, but we have a suspicion that it may have something to do with the folks upstairs, who disposed of some truly vile-smelling garbage last weekend. When we take the dog out there are flies in the back hall, which suggests that they may be making their way downstairs from above.

18 July 2013

I've Been Waiting

Good news, finally: a new Arcade Fire album will be released on October 29th.

17 July 2013

False Alarms

Our upstairs neighbors (three single adults share the apartment) have had a couple of incidents lately setting off the smoke alarm while making food. This wouldn't necessarily be a big deal, except that any such occurrence triggers the alarms in the whole dwelling, including the ones in our apartment, the basement, and the front and back stairways leading to the upstairs unit.

These are the LOUDEST smoke alarms I have ever heard. They are piercingly loud, obviously meant to awaken sleeping residents immediately, and in addition to the beeping there's an electronic voice that repeats "FIRE!" Fortunately they haven't gone off while we are asleep, but when we're awake they just startle the crap out of us, and they are so loud we are forced to cover our ears. There's one about six feet from the desk where my computer is, so if I'm sitting here it's essentially right above my head, which is what happened the last two times.

They have gone off twice in the past week or two, and in both cases it seems one of the upstairs folks put something in the toaster oven and then returned to his bedroom, forgetting about the food until it was too late. (I was able to figure this out because, mixed in with the alarm sounds, I could detect his footsteps as he hurried from his room at the front of the house to the kitchen at the back.)

16 July 2013

More Vintage Wheels

I have more pictures from the car show I attended on Sunday. Yesterday's batch ended up being roughly chronological, so let's continue that way.
By the end of the 1950s, the American car companies realized that they needed to offer smaller vehicles to compete with the growing threat from companies like Volkswagen. The result was the first generation of American compacts like the Ford Falcon and Plymouth Valiant. These were simple, practical cars that usually resembled scaled-down versions of their full-size siblings, and they can still serve as economical daily transportation today (if one is willing to overlook the absence of a few modern safety features).

As you can see from the front plate, this is another Pontiac, a 1962 Tempest coupe. This is another of my favorite old cars, though I prefer the station wagon version. The Tempest was more technologically advanced than most other American cars of the time, offering a four-cylinder engine, a flexible drive shaft, and a rear-mounted transmission that resulted in perfect front-rear weight distribution (which theoretically improved handling).
Ah, this is the shot where I cut off the front of the car. I had just taken a shot from a few steps further back, and immediately realized that a person passing by was blocking a good chunk of the car, so I hurriedly moved forward and snapped another shot without checking to see if I'd framed it properly.

Anyway, this is a 1968 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special, once upon a time the pinnacle of the Cadillac lineup and still an impressive-looking ride. This one is a bit unusual in that by '68 they were more commonly seen with a vinyl roof covering, and this one is also missing its badges and bright trim along the bottom of the body sides, but it may be a restoration in progress. The color does seem to match up with the choices available that year, so the owners could have had it repainted recently.
Paging Don Draper... oh wait, no, he dumped the Jaguar account. Regardless, it's always a pleasure and a thrill to see an XKE, and I couldn't resist three of them parked together. I have a relative who owned one of these, a white over red convertible, and I was fortunate enough to get a ride in it once—I think I may have been ten or eleven at the time.
Okay, now we're onto something good: a 1969 Dodge Polara two-door hardtop. The big Dodges, Plymouths, and Chryslers were all redesigned for '69, and the absence of vent windows on this car indicates it was equipped with air conditioning. It also has the rarely-seen Super-Lite option, a single high-intensity driving light mounted in the grille. Those road wheels are pretty sweet, too. (Behind the Polara is what I believe is a 1968 Plymouth Belvedere.)
I knew someone in high school who had a car similar to this, a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme convertible, except it was maroon with a black interior. It's nice to see one that's been preserved, and not turned into a hot rod or a 442 "tribute."
I took this picture mainly because I recall A Proper Bostonian telling me that someone in her family had one. It's a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, one of the first-generation cars (1970-72). I didn't even bother to look at the grille to determine exactly which year it was, but I'm going with '71 or '72 based on the color, which I think is Placer Gold.
The Plymouth Satellite had gotten rather bloated by 1973 (this could also be a '74; they looked exactly the same). I took this shot because I liked the color (definitely not an original factory choice) and because my brother had one of these for a while, that he'd acquired from a family friend.
And finally here's a Triumph TR6, probably a 1974-'76 based on the big rubber bumper guards and the Union Jack decal on the rear fender. I always liked these and hoped I might have one someday.

I was also surprised by the cars I didn't see at this show: not a single 1960s Lincoln Continental with suicide doors; no Thunderbirds newer than 1966; and hardly any station wagons (besides the Nomad). We didn't get to the show until around 1, and I think some of the cars had already started to leave. It opens to the public at 8 am, and if I go back next year I'll definitely try to get there before noon, if not earlier.

And there was one car I meant to go back and get a picture of but forgot, a 1958 Edsel with the retractable hardtop from a Ford Skyliner. It must have taken a fair amount of work to create that car, and it was quite well-done.

15 July 2013

Vintage Wheels

I enjoy going to classic car shows, but I haven't been to one in a long time. I happened to remember that a local club holds a big show each year in July, one that I'd been to once, decades ago. I looked online and quickly found the info; this year's show was yesterday.

Like much of this summer, it was uncomfortably hot and humid yesterday, but I'd gotten the idea of going into my head and decided to brave the heat. We drove to the Endicott Estate in Dedham, which is the home of the Bay State Antique Auto Club and the site of the annual show.

A lot of the motivation for going to car shows is the presence of less common vehicles that I'm unlikely to see in any other context. Muscle cars like GTOs and Road Runners are common enough sights; I'm always more interested in seeing more of what people used as everyday transportation 40 or 50 years ago. The best thing about old cars, to me, is seeing them cared for and enjoyed.

I remembered my camera, which is more versatile than my phone's camera. I am not an especially good photographer, but I can handle aiming at a car and pushing the shutter, and in most cases I was able to fit the whole car in the frame and avoid shots with people walking in front of my chosen subjects.
I took this shot for a couple of reasons: it's a 1957 Pontiac, and Pontiac no longer exists. It's also one of the earliest four-door hardtops, a body style that no longer exists (except rarely in Japan) and that has always been of my favorites. The color is really nice, too.
A 1966 Pontiac (also a four-door hardtop) happened to be parked next to it, which makes for a nice look at how far styling evolved over just nine model years.
The Nomad was a sporty two-door wagon offered by Chevrolet from 1955 to '57. (Pontiac had its own version, called the Safari, that's even rarer.) It's probably the most interesting to me of the '55-57 Chevys, which are among the most commonly seen classic cars. (I had the Hot Wheels version of this, in red.) I was also drawn to take this photo by the coral color, which was popular for cars in the Fifties. It's often seen in a two-tone combination with black, gray, or ivory.
That's a 1959 Chrysler 300E, a lavishly-appointed (for the time), expensive, high-performance "banker's hot rod" built in very small numbers. The 300's design managed to stay relatively clean and restrained while Chrysler (and all the other American manufacturers) got weirder and weirder in the late '50s. The 1960 version of this car is one of my all-time favorite vintage cars (so much so that I have a die-cast scale model of one), and I was hoping there might be an example of that year at this show, but this was the only 300 in attendance.
This 1959 Oldsmobile Super 88 shows what I meant above about weird, and this is its good side. Still, there's something about the batshit exuberance of cars like this one that I can't help but love.
Just three model years later, this Pontiac Bonneville (a corporate cousin of Olds) looks much more restrained and dignified. I didn't realize I'd taken pics of so many Pontiacs, but they had some of the best designs of the '50s and '60s, until GM bloat set in.)
But not everyone got that memo... this is a 1963 Imperial Crown, which was Chrysler's answer to Cadillac and Lincoln. The following year the Imperial would get a very tasteful redesign, though one heavily influenced by the 1961 Lincoln Continental (in fact, the same man was responsible for both designs).
Now here's something you are unlikely to see many more of, a 1964 Studebaker Avanti. Studebaker was one of the second-tier car companies struggling to hang on in the face of the product onslaught from bigger car companies, and the Avanti was an attempt to build something like a four-passenger Corvette, a gutsy move for a company on the verge of collapse (Studebaker would cease building cars in 1966). I'm pretty sure those wheels are not original to the car (they look like Buick road wheels, even if the center caps say Avanti), but they look pretty good on this car.
I'll have more car show pix tomorrow...

14 July 2013

This Week in Awesome (7/13/13)

I let this slip by last weekend, because it was a holiday week and I'd found only a couple of things I wanted to post. So I've carried those over into this week and added a few more...

This was supposed to tie in with Independence Day, but it's still worth a look. (McSweeney's via The Hairpin)

Also from last week: one man's ranking of cheap beers. Let the arguments begin. (Deadspin)

I haven't quite finished watching the new episodes of Arrested Development yet, but you only have to have seen the first couple to get this visual joke. (Vulture)

I imagine everyone has seen this by now, but if you haven't... it's pretty weird. I'm still trying to decide if she's aware of that or not. Of added note, this is from a TV station in my hometown. (Gawker, Tastefully Offensive, Guyism, etc.)

And finally this week, a slice of New York City life in 1969. (Life magazine via BuzzFeed)

13 July 2013

Retro Video Unit (7/12/13)

I thought of this band for no particular reason. A lot of their videos were kind of boring, at least this one has some camera movement, and this is arguably the song that put them on the map anyway, several years before the John Hughes movie borrowed the title and featured a reworked, inferior version of this song on its soundtrack.

So, here's "Pretty in Pink" by The Psychedelic Furs:

12 July 2013

Caught in a Downpour

Near the end of last summer, I got a pair of Vans that I really like. The Era 59 style is trimmed a little differently than the regular Era, with a leather heel tab, round laces instead of the usual flat ones, and better cushioning inside (at least my feet think so).

A couple of weeks ago I got caught in a thunderstorm while walking the dog. I was wearing my Vans because we'd been out and it was well past the dog's normal afternoon walk time, so as soon as we got home I rushed back outside with her, forgetting that it was about to rain and that I should change my shoes to the junky ones I wear to walk the dog.

The Vans got quite dirty, and since they're off-white it's very obvious. Because the insoles are not removable, they can't go in the washing machine, so I'm at a loss for how to clean them, or if it's even possible. It's unlikely that I could get another pair, as the 59 styles tend to be issued in a certain color combinations for only a few months each.

I applied some Oxy-Clean stain-removal gel and worked it into the uppers with a wet toothbrush, but I didn't get any noticeable results. I welcome any suggestions. If I can't clean them up, they may have to be relegated to permanent dog-walking shoe status.

11 July 2013


You wouldn't necessarily expect that a coffee counter in a supermarket would be a place that you'd find really good soft-serve ice cream, especially when the coffee sold there is downright mediocre (I'm sorry, New England Coffee; I know your roasting plant is less than a mile from my house and I can smell it sometimes when I'm out walking the dog at night, but your coffee just isn't good).

We were shopping at the big ol' Market Basket in Chelsea today, we had just checked out and I was waiting for the Mrs. I rolled the cart over by the coffee counter and a sign for soft-serve caught my eye. I've always loved soft-serve ice cream and I try to have it at least a couple of times a summer, but I hadn't had any yet this year and there it was right in front of me and it was so muggy outside, so I gave it a try and it was excellent, way better than most of it that I've had.

I don't know what makes theirs so good, but it's worth getting if you are in the market and maybe worth going there to get if you aren't. A generously sized cone is a mere $2 plus tax.

09 July 2013


We've spent years avoiding the trap that many dog owners fall into. We've never allowed our dog to beg for human-food treats. We've even refrained from giving her affection in the kitchen, and she is not allowed to hover when we are in there preparing food. She gets yogurt with her food, but other delicacies like cheese and chicken are given rarely and as a surprise, so she doesn't get used to the idea of having them.

But now that she has aged into a senior-citizen couch princess, we're getting soft. Some time ago the Mrs. started giving the dog the milk left in her bowl after eating cereal, and you probably remember the picture I posted back in December when I let the dog lick the inside of the empty ice cream container. Predictably, the dog is now starting to expect these treats as her dog-given right, and it's our own fault.

Last week I was enjoying some ice cream, while confronted with this visage staring at me the whole time:
"Let me know when you're finished with that, okay?"

Just Browsing

I've never had a job where I had to wear dress clothing. Well, I did some office work back in the '80s where I did the tie-but-no-jacket thing that I now realize is a terrible look, and in the mid-'90s I spent a couple of years working a part-time second job on the house staff of a theater company, but that was a sportcoat-and-khakis kind of thing.

So why have I spent so much time over the past several months looking for dress shirts and ties on eBay? I have plenty of outfits that are suitable for job interviews, and bolder shirt and tie choices that would easily take me to a wedding or other semi-formal event. Do I on some level want a job where I have to dress up every day?

I don't think that's it. I do enjoy getting dressed up, but I'm sure if I had to do it daily it would cease to be enjoyable. I think it's just that I like clothes, and my interest in various items of clothing tends to run in cycles. While I've been looking for these items, I've barely looked for shoes, which I need none of at the moment.

05 July 2013

Summer Activities, Indoor Version

We had a quiet day yesterday. It's just too hot and humid to spend any significant amount of time outside, something the dog still doesn't seem to grasp. Her desire to be outside, sniffing around the neighborhood, outweighs almost any weather conditions.

I've never been an outdoor person. When I was growing up my family had a pool, which made summer fun as close as the backyard. But if I wasn't swimming, I was hiding out in the basement (where it was cooler) building model cars.

With the big trial going on here this summer, I remembered that several years back I had acquired a copy of Black Mass, about the relationship between the FBI and Whitey Bulger, at a used book sale. It seemed like an appropriate time to finally get around to reading it, so I've been spending time on that. I have plenty of other books lined up too.

03 July 2013

Kitchen Tools

I have a bit of a thing for OXO kitchen utensils. Not everything we use is from that brand, but when something needs replacement I tend to look for an OXO version.

I think it started with replacing an old, poorly made ice cream scoop with a spade, which has a wider, flat blade that makes it easier to shave off a portion from the top surface of the ice cream. After that it was a cheese grater and a pizza cutter, and I was hooked. The thick, rubberized handles are just much easier to grip and use.

When OXO expanded to other product lines, I followed. I have a couple of canisters with locking lids for storing things like coffee beans. A quick look in the kitchen drawers reveals that we also have a vegetable peeler (OXO's first product), a garlic press, and a potato masher (I don't remember purchasing that one). I also just replaced a junky old spreader that I'd found somewhere (probably a dollar store) with an OXO counterpart that has a longer, sturdier blade that is much more effective.

Recently I added a couple of small knives. I prefer working with shorter-bladed knives for things like chopping and slicing, as long as the food being cut is small enough. OXO makes a nice little mini santoku that's great for chopping veggies like carrots and cucumbers. I also got another knife with a thin, straight, serrated blade that is good for cutting tomatoes. And this measuring cup is so easy to use because of its clever design: you can see the markings while looking down on it from above.

As a side note, I read that the man who started the company passed away recently. The idea for the distinctive handles came about because of his wife's arthritis. He had been in the kitchenware business previously, running the company Copco for a couple of decades; he also had an uncle who was the founder of Farberware.

02 July 2013

Don't Let It Happen to You

Nothing says "I've given up," style-wise, quite like a middle-aged guy wearing Crocs.