2014 (redux)

JanusPerhaps it is a personal penchant for irony-leavened paradox that has me pen a post titled 2014 that turns out to be more a look backwards. The dash of irony comes from the explicit mention of not being one who spends much time looking back!

But, also as mentioned, there is a time and place for most things, and January is a more ideal place for that than you may realize. The month is named after the roman god,  Janus, god of beginnings and transitions, who has both a backward- and forward-looking face. The turning of the year is the time and place for both.

So here is a bit more looking back and looking forward.

I never sausage a thing!

I never sausage a thing!

One of my favorite sayings is: “Spare me the labor pains. Show me the baby!” It’s a favorite saying because it reflects a point of view I hold dear (and because it’s such a clever simile). I’m just not that interested in hearing how you made the sausage; I just wanna eat the sausage!

There are times when “How It’s Made” is fascinating to me, but when I’m hungry to eat sausage a tutorial on how it’s made isn’t very savory.

I skip those intro parts in tutorials that tell me what they’re about to tell me. A standard rule in teaching says you should follow a three-step protocol:

  1. Say what you’ll cover,
  2. Actually cover it,
  3. Review what you covered.

I have never understood the value of that first step, and it bores me cross-eyed! I don’t mind the review at the end, but it’s really only the material that interests me.

meta-postAs such I’m not one for “meta-posts.” Talking about what I intend to talk about, or describing the difficulty in talking about it, just isn’t my thing. On the other hand, rambling on and on about stuff totally is, so there’s a push-pull thing going on that’s making this post very hard to write.

I think I’m just going to bounce around randomly from topic to topic today. There is a miscellany of minor matters muttering around my mind. Here’s a litter of tiny puppies:

Shark Weak! What happened there? I thought it was a pretty good post, but it’s had only four views since I published it on December 16th. Is the shark picture too scary or something?  I thought sharks were popular (which was part of the point of the post). Everyone go read that post right now, damn it! I promise it contains no actual sharks. 🙂


Griller, not Grillage!

I have an update on Alphonso the Toast-R-Oven (I can call him Al). As you’ll recall, Al came with rather simplistic instructions complete with  hat and slippery road icons. The thing is, when told to toast, Al was giving me cooked bread! You might think that sounds like it would be toast, but the truth is that cooked bread and toast really are two different things (toast is crunchier, for one thing).

It turns out I have to mess with Al’s mind a little by setting one dial to “toast” and the other to “slippery road” (or perhaps it means “broil”). Now that I’ve turned him into a schizophrenic, he’s been making wonderful toast, and we’ve been quite happy together.  (Well, I’m happy. Al doesn’t say much, but he looks happy.)

On the topic of tasty, I’ve been willfully indulging this Chillaxmas in my favorite Simple Tastes.  Al made breakfast bagels during the 12 Days, and I’ve cooked up several batches of my Brown Sugar Fudge. (Brown sugar crack, more like!)

The recipe I gave in the original article was a bit sketchy, because I hadn’t made the stuff in a while, and I’m strictly a from memory, make it up as you go cook (to the extent you could call me a “cook” at all). As my fifth batch pushes me towards major tooth decay, probable diabetes and imminent sugar coma, I can be more detailed now.

brown sugar crack

Sinfully Delicious!!

I didn’t mention that I throw in some salt as I melt the butter. I pour some into my palm until it looks right; I’m guessing about two tablespoons max. I melt somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 stick of butter, toss in the salt and then dump in a bunch of dark brown sugar (somewhere in the 1/3 to 1/2 pound range, I’d guess).  The butter isn’t usually enough to wet the sugar, so I will add some milk, too.

The object is a thick slurry you bring to a careful boil. I start slowly reducing the heat as soon as I get a boil, and stir constantly for several minutes. You’re looking for the sugar crystals to melt and dissolve (I realize actual cooks are likely laughing their asses off at my pathetic attempt to describe this).

Then I turn off the heat and dump in a bunch of powdered sugar, at least as much as of the brown and usually more, up to twice as much. The more you add, the lighter (in flavor and color) will be the final result. I also throw in some real vanilla, because I just really love vanilla.

Stir the crap out of it constantly or it will set up. You want a fairly thick consistency. As it cools, it will start to harden, so you want to pour it out onto a tin foil or cookie sheet before it does! Add more milk if necessary. Done right, the stuff just melts in your mouth with an explosion of dark sugar deliciousness.

passionate eating

“Oh, yeah, baby!”

[Ha! Just did it again. When I went on that high school Europe trip, I wrote a journal. Upon reading it, many people commented on how detailed it was with regard to all the foods I tried during that trip. Good food is certainly one of my favorite things in life! A friend once commented (and she would know) that I ate like I fucked: with great gusto and thorough enjoyment.]

In other news, while WordPress seems to have given me the power to bring on the Winter, it did not give me any power to make it go away. It’s not been snowing on my blog since the 4th, but as you can see, outside Winter remains. If there’s some special checkbox I should click, someone let me know, okay?

The bitter cold snap we’ve all endured has caused Winter to wear out its welcome pretty early. I mean, seriously, 21 degrees below zero? Are you kidding me?!  I shudder to think what my heating bill will be!  (Still, the Winter is kinda pretty.)


The sun is so low it looks like late afternoon, but it’s actually the middle of the day!

Last year, of course, is also the year I retired from Corporate America. I couldn’t be happier about that part. It’s been six months now, and my emotional mood is clearly healthier than it’s been in a long while. I shrug at things that used to set me off. I’ve even experienced some major epiphanies regarding myself now that I’ve had time to slow down and  think.  I may (or possibly may not) tell you about them down the road.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading. (Also a lot of slow reading, which looks very much like napping on the couch, but in fact is actually very, very slow reading.) Most recently the latest Sue Grafton (“V”). I always had kind of a thing for Kinsey Millhone. (Likewise for Sara Paretsky‘s V.I. Warshawski.)  Grafton is kind of my “MGD” — a bit bland and mainstream and about as low as I go.  (You will never see me drink a Coors or Bud. I’ll drink water instead.)

I haven’t written much about detective and mystery fiction. I don’t love it as much as science fiction, but it is my second favorite.  I’ve been considering a “Mystery Mondays” series of posts as companion to the “Science Fiction Saturday” posts. Topic for the future.

Michael ScottAlso for the future, I picked up the ninth, and final, season of The Office. I thought it would be a good time to watch the entire series, which I’ve now done. That will definitely be a future post (if I can manage to get to it before my notes lose their meaning — that’s already happened with a couple of book reviews I wanted to post).

For now I’ll just say that this time I found a charm and delight to Michael that I’d been unable to access before (I mostly found him irritating or even enraging — this time I got quite fond of him). And as far as I’m concerned the Andy Bernard character has not one single redeeming quality. I cheer his misfortune. In fact, safe to say I hate the character; he’s the same utterly self-involved, incredibly ignorant and thoughtless emotional three-year-old as Michael, but with none of his charm or ability. (I find I’m not real big on Ed Helms, either, although he seems a good vocalist.)

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

6 responses to “2014 (redux)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      33 forecast for today and 36 for Sunday! Yay!! (54 in New York on Saturday!)

      (The web is really something. I went to the Weather Channel site just to get the forecast and also learned (1) what a “polar vortex” is, and (2) that it’s not (as some are saying) “hovering over the US” creating this cold snap.)

  • Lady from Manila

    I read your post “Shark Weak” last night, and as you know the kind of delicate lady that I am…[I’m grimacing] :-). You know how I felt about your post “Dung Beetles.” 🙂

    C’mon, please share the major epiphanies you’ve experienced regarding yourself now that you have time to slow down and think. What’s a blog for, anyway? 🙂

    I miss the falling snow on my blog….

    • Wyrd Smythe

      But the post really wasn’t about sharks, per se! I would have thought at least the fans of Shark Week would read it! [sigh]

      Ah, well, so it goes. Thanks for reading. Thanks you to, the page hits went from 4 to 5. A 25% increase! 😀

  • bronxboy55

    I understand your problem with that first step: Tell them what you’re going to tell them. But there are also those at the other extreme, including people who try to explain some incident from their day, as well as those who write software manuals. They start in the middle, and I’m lost immediately and forever.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Most of my friends tend to go the other way, providing long, detailed windups and background to the story (to the point where when the punchline comes I’m lost in all the details), but I know what you mean. Maybe it’s a compliment; they think you can read their mind or that you know them so well you can figure it out.

      Having done a lot of technical writing I can tell you it’s really tough finding the line between too much detail and too little. I’m (big surprise) way prone to error on the too much side (just like my engineering friends), which turns out to be just as big a mistake.

      Before the web and links and even before Apple’s HyperCard the concept of linked text existed. I always thought it provided a great means to implement “layered” technical text. The upper-most text assumes expert level, but has links to text taking it one level down. And that text has links and so forth until you get down to basics.

      Interestingly, Wikipedia turns out to be very much that very sort of thing, and it’s really not a bad way for autodidacts to learn new topics. Not perfect, by any stretch; Wiki varies a lot in terms of useful info and how it’s explained.

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