Day 5 of the Captivity: Cleaning out the electronics drawer

It is Day 5 in our COVID-19 self-isolation. I have cleaned off my desk, my drafting table, and one large pile by my drafting table. It is time now to ::dramatic music stinger:: clean out the electronics drawer.

I will liveblog this for your entertainment.

10:08 am

We begin.

This drawer has been the repository for lots and lots of stuff. As you will see as we go through it, the deepest layers are practically pre-Internet.

10:14 am

Here’s the drawer in full panoply on my drafting table.

Right off the bat you can see my dilemma. This is my old iPad 2 that used to provide the music out in the labyrinth.

However, it can no longer be updated, nor will it allow items like Pandora to be updated.  What am I to do with this thing? It doesn’t need to stay in the drawer, and that’s the #1 decision being made today. Into the LATER box it goes for eventual resale/recycling.

10:28 am

Here’s the keyboard/stand that went with the iPad.

Still useful? Probably. So here’s a pro tip about cleaning out a repository like this: touch everything once, make a decision, then put it in the appropriate pile. Since this requires some testing to make a final decision, I’m starting a TEST pile.

The first layer is the most recent and consists of obvious KEEP items.

My new projector.

Our external CD drive. (Thanks, Apple.)

My rangefinder that I use to estimate distances when laying out the burn.

10:49 am

No, it’s not taking me this long to clean out the drawer. It’s taking me this long to document it, edit the photos, upload them, and then comment. APPRECIATE MY LABOR HERE, PEOPLE.

We’re still in the KEEP layer.

Headsets.

These look like random flotsam, but they’re actually part of a kit that I kind of have to go with the projector. I’ve learned from the past: show up with all the cables and connectors.

Okay, this one’s a puzzler. It has flotsam from last summer’s trip to Grand Canyon: room key for our cabin at Bright Angel Lodge; emergency diarrhea medication; a car USB plug; and what appear to be prior flotsam from aforesaid projector kit: plug covers and a ¿remote control case? No matter. This is the new projector baggie.

Another headset. This one is wireless/Bluetooth. I bought it back when I was composing more than I am now, so that I would not annoy the rest of the house with my repetitive ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS and yet not have to deal with the cord while pivoting from the computer to the piano keyboard. You may imagine my annoyance when I discovered it did not work with Finale.

USB microphone, still handy for online meetings.

Same with the USB speaker.

Now we’re getting into the weird layers.

A body cam, unopened. I think this came from my late father-in-law’s stash of electronics. Into the TEST pile it goes.

11:30 am

This is a keyboard cover for the MacBook Pro for those times I have it out in the labyrinth. Still useful, of course. KEEP.

I think this is a hard drive, but whose is it and what is on it? Into the TEST pile.

I have an hypothesis and it is mine and I made it up and here goes: all those missing socks were just the larval forms of charging cables. Their DNA is finally triggered after enough runs through the wash, and they disapparate into a drawer. This is the only sane explanation.

I mean, this connector was at least two MacBook Pros ago.

And what did this go to? LATER, in case the device is still lurking somewhere.

It doesn’t matter that this isn’t in focus. Why aren’t these in baggies/bags/boxes with their devices?

Finally, I know what this is.

I’ll just put it with the other audio cables…

…or maybe not. Into the projector travel baggie it goes.

A Wacom tablet, very useful.

Need to TEST it, though; these things are notorious for slipping behind the current technology. The reason I own it is that my original Wacom no longer worked with the laptop.

Solar-charged charger. Still useful.

These USB chargers, on the other hand, were useful once, but their ability to charge is limited to one charge. Perhaps to put in my shoulder bag when traveling, but certainly not to take to a burn. I’ll need to TEST first (and find their charging chords).

This, on the other hand, is a nice heavy-duty charger I bought for burns. Definitely a KEEP.

But now we’re down to the lower levels indeed. Lunch break.

1:31 pm

And we’re back, starting a very slow exploration of the chthonic layers of the electronics drawer.

An iPod Nano. Into the LATER box (for certain recycling).

Accoutrements for the aforementioned Wacom tablet that died. The tablet itself is in another pile—another day, another post.

 

Ah, but then there are treasures.

What is that, you ask? It’s We Three Kings, and if you’re really good I’ll make you a copy for your holiday enjoyment.

I think the font is Papyrus, and that just about sums up the quality of this wonderful work of #CorroborativeEvidence.

Tucked away in the back was a definite KEEP: the cassette tape converter I bought to convert Aces & Eights, another beautiful lump of #CorroborativeEvidence. Now I can use it to make a quality transfer of We Three Kings.

How does one end up with so many fossils?

Part of it is my impulse to make sure I have enough charging cables for every device in my life such that I never have to go looking for one: one in the car, one in the study, one for the labyrinth, one in the kitchen, and one in the den. What? You don’t do this? Huh, weird.

I don’t even know what this is. The label says RAVPOWER, and it seems to be some kind of adapter, but I have no clue what it goes to. UPDATE: it goes with the heavy-duty charger shown above.

Here’s a major point to make: if I don’t know what it is and I haven’t needed it for three years or more—why am I keeping it? Keeping it out for TESTING, but let’s face it, it’s a useless bit.

Remotes. These were all for software that controls presentations.

The outer ends are Apple products that I’m pretty sure do not work any longer. The middle one I think goes to the projector. NO, I DON’T KNOW WHY IT’S NOT IN THE BOX WITH THE PROJECTOR LEAVE ME ALONE. The others… I’ll have to see if they still work, and if their dongles are in my laptop case.

A digital camera.

Pretty sure my phone does a better job now. Still, it’s nice enough. Does anyone want it?

The Assistant Assistive Feline™, aka Cecil the Pest, is being as helpful as he usually is.

Ah, something useful! A vacuum for your electronics—I definitely need to slip some new batteries into this one and see if it works.

No clue. I mean, it’s an audio adapter, but I don’t know where/when I would have used it.

Software and receipts from the MacBook Pro before this one. (FWIW, I am on Filemaker Pro 17; the company now has 18 and other mutations available.) This goes straight into the trash.

2:33 pm

The last — and strangest — layer.

This is truly flotsam from long past. For example: this is a case for an architect’s scale which now lives in my actual desk drawer along with two others.

Why do I own architect scales? Because, O children, we used to have to draw our set designs and working drawings by hand. That’s why I have a drafting table in the first place. Somewhere in my study are a clip-on lamp and a device that clamped onto the drafting table and slid up and down providing a ready horizontal line (with an attachment that did angles).

What’s left of a drafting kit; the other compass, etc., are on my desk.

Drafting triangles: 45°, 30°/60°. As I said, my German attachment let me do all kinds of angles, so these are truly what I started out in college with. (One day I’ll show you my original drafting board and the canvas tote I designed and made to carry it all in.) These are KEEP because who throws away stuff like this? (The masking tape was to elevate them just enough so that ink wouldn’t bleed under them.)

“Drafting dots.” These were a lazy way to tape your drawings down without permanent damage to them. They seem to be still okay, so I’m keeping them to use with mini-art projects.

Ah, this is a blast from the past. You see, children, working drawings — and here the current members of Newnan Theatre Company are saying “the what now?” — for sets came in a certain order, and this was my cheat sheet for that order. I think this might have been from one of the big Feydeau farces we did back in the 1970s.

More pre-computer stuff: ink.

Remember, these have been sitting untouched for decades in the back of this drawer. Observe:

See how the pigment has completely settled? Decades do that to you.

And what’s this?

I think it’s to apply gold leaf. It still sounds as if there’s fluid in there when I shake it. More exploration is required.

Here’s something from the modern era, a toolkit for you to get into your MacBook laptop and repair/upgrade it. Okay, so it’s not that modern.

And here are a couple of memory cards. TRASH.

A memory card from a camera, I guess. No clue as to what’s on it and no way to find out. TRASH.

You may well ask, am I not seized with fear that I am tossing some beloved memorabilia? Yes, I am, but the logical part of my brain says that I would never have stored anything important on a memory card without making sure I had it in more accessible formats.

Ah, I’ve been looking for this multi-use adapter. Into the projector box it goes.

OF COURSE I BOUGHT ANOTHER ONE IN THE MEANTIME.

A power adapter from a couple of laptops ago.

An audio adapter. Over to the cable corner, which I’ll get to before long I’m sure.

Here’s a fun thing:

This is a Box Rivet Remover. What’s a Box Rivet? Go look. I used to use them to create Reading Caves. I think I have a box in the basement somewhere. Anyway, you use this to pry the little devices apart for reuse.

Memorabilia. A nametag I made for one of those occasions when either the State Board of Education or poobahs from the DOE came to visit GHP and we would have a luncheon for them to chat with students and faculty.

I forget who made this for me. I’m thinking it was back at East Coweta High.

And this one. Mercy.

1990 was the 20th anniversary of my going to GHP as an art major, so despite the fact that I had a two-year-old at home, I thought it was important for me to leave my wife to deal with the child and household for seven weeks. It is truly a miracle I am still a) married; and b) alive.

BTW, if you’re a math nerd, you’ve already figured out that yes, this year is the 50th anniversary of my life-changing summer.

These three cards are safely tucked away in the back of the drawer for my heirs and assigns to find and deal with.

These cassettes must have come in a set, because although I may have had an interest in actors learning British accents, I don’t think I would have cared about the others.

Speaking of two-year-olds, won’t my 32-year-old child be excited to know I’ve uncovered this:

I think this was the choral program we went to and were stunned when he stepped up to the mic for a solo — he had not bothered to mention that to us.

I do wonder what’s on this tape.

I will keep it to find out.

Do people still use these?

They’re white-out tape dispensers. I bought them in bulk back in 2001/2002 when I was translating Marriage of Figaro; I just took the Schirmer vocal score and taped over the Italian/German and wrote in my lyrics by hand. Kept me on track/meter, and then I could just photocopy the results.  (I still have all of that, btw, if your musical group would like to stage Figaro. We had a blast doing it.)

A rock.

It’s probably linked in spirit to this last corner:

Some mechanical pencil leads, and definite flotsam:

These are bits and pieces I’ve picked up here and yon, because these things can become part of art. Especially now that I’ve uncovered them and put them with the incomplete art project where they most definitely fit in.

There were several buttons in there; these two jumped out at me.

Both are meant to be snarky, but the first one has a different resonance at the moment: I don’t need half the stuff that was in this drawer. Clear it out. Let it go.

Et voilá:

Tidy, uncluttered, everything necessary, and room for items that previously could not fit. Not a bad way to spend a day in Captivity.

3:12 pm

Still to come on another day:

  • The TEST pile
  • Converting We Three Kings and Christmas in Our Town to mp3s
  • Tracking down a video camera to see what’s on the Hi-8 cassette
  • Double-checking all the cables with the electronics that are still hiding all over the place; I have hard drives that I don’t think I can even hook up to the computer at this point
  • Cleaning up the cable corner

This has been a long time…

Fifteen years ago today, March 11, 2005, I hit publish on the first blogpost on this blog: http://www.dalelyles.com/2005/03/11/here-we-go/

As usual, its origin date is muddy. I actually began blogging about curriculum and the media center over on Blogspot.com, and then I decided I wanted my own. So I got in touch with an old AOL buddy who hosts these kinds of things, and lo! I had my own domain and my own email address. (Having “dale@dalelyles.com” has been very handy over the years.)

I used to blog a lot on here. I talked about curriculum, the role of the media center, education in general, liberal policies, rightwing idiocies, travel, GHP, just tons and tons of things.

All my creative stuff was posted here. The Lichtenbergian Society began as a blogpost here, and we all know where that led.

Indeed, once the Lichtenbergianism website went live, most of my writing was done over there. Now over here I blog mostly about travel and burning and rightwing idiocies, and the past year or so not even so much about the idiocies — there are just too many of them. I’d be like a golden retriever and a garden hose trying to catch it all.

Who knows? I may get back into the habit of blogging about life, the universe, and everything — as far as I know, we’re all about to be quarantined from COVID-19, so I’ll have to find something to do. It’s not like I’m actually going to finish Seven Dreams of Falling or start Ten Little Waltzes, is it?

Anyway, happy birthday to my blog!

Assembly required

You will recall that we spent a weekend in Quebec and that I came home with this:[1]

Now its secrets will be revealed. This is a lighting fixture that I bought at Rare & Different,[2] the fun store next to the CHRISTMAS BOUTIQUE, KENNETH, on rue De Buade. It’s full of these bizarre lamps, all different shapes and colors, and all inexplicably beautiful and fascinating, and all made from the vinyl pieces you see above. If you’re from the area they will build your selection for you while you wait or shop, but if you’re from away you have to take the pieces home and build it yourself.

Here’s how it works: when you’re home and ready to assemble your lamp you email the address on the business card, including the receipt number of your purchase. They then send you the link to two videos: the first one explains the vocabulary they’ll be using (“right/left-leaning,” “rosettes,” etc.) and the mechanical strategies of assembly; the second is specific to the model you picked out. Both are very well done, narrated by Marie-Josée (MJ) Bouchard in a careful yet firm manner.

The concept is enough to make a math major drool: each piece slides into another, like so:

As you can imagine, the lamp is built in layers. My model is the “Saucer,” which MJ pronounces charmingly as “sow-ser.”  Here’s the first layer of five pieces:

And flipped, ready for Step 2:

Here we are after Step 2:

You can see how fascinating the concept is. Imagine a store full of these things, all sizes and shapes—your brain really cannot distinguish which pattern is which or which one is going to be the most fascinating when you get it home.

Stage 3:

In the video, MJ is working with alternating colors on each step so that you can see what goes where. This does not help those of us assembling a pure white Saucer; at Step 6 I got lost every single time. Step 5 was made up of alternating left- and right-leaning pieces, and Step 6 involved adding two pieces to every left-leaning piece. After starting over for the fourth time, I had a scathingly brilliant idea: add a colored paperclip to the left-leaning pieces. That way, I could tell a) which were the left-leaning pieces without peering intently at the things; and b) which piece I started with as I worked my way around.

I still got lost a couple more times before I got it right. Part of the problem is that as you start closing the top, the tension between pieces becomes greater and unfinished rosettes will come undone. That presents difficulties in recognizing where the next piece goes: does it just hook up with its neighbor, or were there supposed to be two “petals” already there?

Finally, though, I triumphed: Step 6, and the ultra-difficult Step 7 to close the top and install the lighting fixture.

Et voilà:

In its natural habitat:

And a video:

No, I’m not leaving it out in the weather (although the shop maintains that the lamps are good for outside). I will store it inside and take it out to install it over the worktable whenever we’re out there of an evening.

So: great lamp, interesting assembly, 10/10 would do it again.

—————

[1] Plus gin.

[2] I would link to the store’s website, but there is literally nothing there but the store’s name and a map.

AUTO-REPLENISHING TECHNOLOGY, KENNETH!

Forty years ago, give or take, my Lovely First Wife came home from shopping and handed me a little jar: it was moisturizer from Clinique, her preferred brand.

“Here,” she said. “You need to use this.”

Whatever, I thought, but I started using it and have used it every day since. Here’s the deal: everyone tells you to moisturize, but hardly any of us do it. I’ve done it, and although it’s primarily due to my mother’s genetic donation I am often mistaken for being much younger than I actually am.

This is not new. Until I was 35, I was often mistaken for being 16, which was pretty irritating. However, now that I am gray and officially old, it’s amusing to be taken for a 50-something. (Sidenote: when I started going gray, my hair stylist at the time asked if I were considering coloring my hair. Bah, I replied, now people will start taking me seriously. And lo, that’s exactly what happened.)

All this is prologue. I needed a new jar of moisturizer, so yesterday I headed to Belk’s Clinique counter. They have often not stocked the stuff, but this time they had it. The sales assistant alerted me that “it’s a new formulation,” as if that makes a difference. For the record, they “reformulate” the stuff every couple of years or so and change the color of the jar.

And here’s why I’m writing this. Curious about the “new formulation,” I actually read the blurbage on the box:

This addictively refreshing gel-cream instantly boosts hydration and rehydrates for 72 hours—even after washing your face. Auto-replenishing technology with activated aloe water helps skin create its own internal water source to deliver a superior level of hydration in a lightweight, oil-free texture.

Honey, please. Any verbiage describing any cosmetic or the benefits thereof is always pure puffery, but really, Clinique—auto-replenishing technology, activated aloe water, create its own internal water source? Suddenly my dermis has transformed into a fusion reactor? And what the hell is “activated aloe water”?

The latter is described by Clinique as “created to hold both positive and negative ionic charges,” which is supposed to “increase your skin’s affinity to [sic] water.” I have my doubts, especially since the only description/evaluation of “activated aloe water” I could find on the intertubes was Clinique’s own puffery. There is no scientific evaluation anywhere that I could find.[1]

And what is this “auto-replenishing technology?” It seems that squeezing the entire description onto the tiny box (in multiple languages) created an editing situation. Here’s the same puffery from Clinique’s website:

This addictively refreshing gel-cream instantly boosts hydration and rehydrates for 72 hours—even after washing your face. Auto-Replenishing Technology with caffeine helps trigger skin’s own rehydration system. Hyaluronic Acid fragments and Activated Aloe Water infuse skin with moisture. A super-holding matrix of humectants and polymers help reduce water loss and seal in moisture.

Caffeine. Well, there we go. I’m smearing coffee on my skin to wake it up.

I’m good with that.

—————

[1] Amazingly, “hyaluronic acid fragments” is not only a real thing, it’s an important part of our epidermis and is used to heal damaged skin. The More You Know™.

Quebec

So one of us decided that we needed to visit Quebec City in December. The official excuse was that there was a German-style Christmas Market, but I’m pretty sure it was to make me freeze.

Normally I blog about each day of our travel, but this was just a long weekend, plus I was out of commission for about a third of it, what with an injured ankle and some sleep issues. You are therefore getting just a summary of the adventure.

This was definitely one of those trips where I just packed my suitcase and got in the car; my Lovely First Wife made all the arrangements. I didn’t even research cocktail bars this time.  So it was a great delight when we arrived at our lodgings, the Auberge du Trésor on Rue St-Anne, on the Place Armé right across from the Chateau Frontenac.

The hotel is located on the top floors; the bottom is the Bistro 1640, a really really good restaurant and bar. It is entirely possible to eat nowhere else your entire trip. Its name derives from the fact that the original building was built in 1640; parts of the foundation wall are still visible in the bar.

Here’s the view from our room:

If you’ve ever wanted to feel as if you’re in a Hallmark Christmas movie, Quebec at Christmas is where you want to be. (You would be responsible for your own idiotic plot, and if you’re not a single woman with a successful career that you’re willing to abandon after a week, you’re probably out of luck.)

Besides the glorious holiday decorations everywhere, the highlight of the trip was our visit to the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec.

Dear reader, we walked there through the tundra.

The first thing you should understand is that one of the primary rules of my marriage is never, never, ever set out for any destination with my Lovely First Wife without an exact address. When we finally arrived at the spot she had circled on her Top Ten book’s map, there was no fine arts museum anywhere. If only we had a computer in our pocket oh wait… it was another fifteen minutes of walking away. Off we went.

Sculpture outside, the title of which I failed to record, but it was something like Event Horizon:

The highlight of the MNBAQ was the main exhibit, COZIC Over To You / From 1967 to Now. COZIC is an artistic collective, and their art has been consistently fun, interactive, and beautiful all at the same time.

In the entrance lobby, there was this piece:

You were encouraged/permitted to explore.

The entire exhibit was exhilarating—I’ll be blogging in more depth over at Lichtenbergianism.com in a few days.

After all that walking, my ankle had taken a beating, so we Ubered back to the hotel and I went to the bar to sample the local gins while everyone else went out to explore the Christmas market. The bartender was great: he explained the tenor of each of the five gins he had; I selected two, and he poured a shot into a glass so I could savor the gin’s flavor profile. He also provided me with ice and tonic water so I could then finish with a proper gin and tonic. The two I sampled were St.-Lawrent (flavored with seaweed from the St. Lawrence Seaway), very briny; and Menaud, reminiscent of the Desert Sage gin from Arizona.

While sitting at the bar, I was joined by a couple from New York, very chatty and friendly. Talk turned to Christmas decorations, and I commented that my Lovely First Wife had twenty-six (26 tubs, Kenneth!) of decorations. I said she was no longer allowed to mock me for my 12 tubs of camping equipment. They laughed and said they had whittled their camping equipment down to a manageable size because they go to Burning Man.

That’s right, a thousand miles from Alchemy I randomly meet burners while sitting in a bar. They were super-interested in the Georgia burn, so I gave them my 3 Old Men business card.

When the gang returned from the Christmas Market, we set out via Uber to L’Oncle Antoine, the oldest bar in North America, for dinner. Alas, on a Saturday night it was not possible to get in, so we set off on foot back up the mountain, Kenneth, to find sustenance.

At least the walk was lovely:

But it was all uphill. Back at the summit, we popped into Chateau Frontenac to try to get into 1608 Wine & Cheese bar, but the “music was too loud,” so back we went across the square to Auberge du Trésor for dinner at 1640 Bistro.

The main hallway leading to 1608 at the Frontenac:

At least I got a great meal and a fabulous dessert (and more cocktails):

On Sunday, we set out to revisit parts of the Market and the Christmas Boutique—my Lovely First Wife needed more decorations, apparently. I found a SAQ store to buy my gin; after I left the store I realized that although Marie Brizard Parfait Amour (a floral liqueur used in classic cocktails) is very rare in the U.S., it was quite available in Canada. When we retraced our steps, I popped back into the store; they didn’t have it, but another store did. Everyone else headed back to the hotel while I trekked all the way down the mountain to the store that stocked it. (We will not speak of my ankle.)

When I finally rejoined the gang, they were seated at a table by the window in 1640, enjoying Caribou, a Canadian hot spiced wine concoction. They were waiting for the appearance of St. Nicholas, who would be visiting the Market that afternoon. Finally he appeared from the Frontenac, accompanied by three Krampuses,[1] a couple of musicians, and an angel.

The photo does not convey the absolute delightfulness of this. Have a video:

Everyone had settled in for cocktails and dinner, but I went up the hill to the Frontenac to get a cocktail from 1608, a highly ranked cocktail bar.  Here is the Genie in a Bottle, a sweeter variation on the Aviation:

The bartender said he preferred the original, and he was right. Still, a great little bar.

The hotel from the square:

The next morning, we made it to the airport.

So unlike our dear Hartsfield International. The ticketing desk didn’t even open until 10:30.

However, due to the storms pounding the rest of the continent, our flight — originally scheduled to depart at 12:25 — didn’t even arrive at the gate until after 2:00. We barely had time in Toronto to make through security and then customs before our flight to Atlanta boarded.

Still, it was a fun trip. Quebec is lovely, and we will go back. Perhaps in warmer weather.

Here’s my booze haul:

I got the Menaud gin, of course. The Madison Park, with its label of “Breakfast Gin,” amused and intrigued me, so I bought it. (It is distinctly floral with its use of bergamot—think Earl Grey tea—and makes a perfect Aviation.) And of course, the Parfait Amour, which had been on my shopping list for six months.

Also purchased, while my Lovely First Wife was in the Christmas Boutique:

I’m not going to tell you what this is. I’ll do another post when it’s ready to go in the labyrinth.

—————

[1] No one seems sure what the plural of Krampus is; Wikipedia carefully avoids having to say.

I regret to review a Christmas movie

Two things I need to state up front:

  1. We all know made-for-TV Christmas movies are dreck.
  2. I rarely feel the need to dump on someone else’s creative work, at least not publicly like this.

However.

Last night my Lovely First Wife and I chose to watch The Knight Before Christmas, a Netflix original. It looked to be nothing more than a typically flaccid, vapid holiday flick, and yet it was so much less. It was horrific. It was lazy. It was an offense to the human tradition of storytelling.

tl;dr: Sir Cole, a 14th-c. knight, is transported by a crone for no good reason to the present day to complete his “quest,” whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. He is taken in by Brooke, a high school science teacher who nevertheless lives in a huge home WITH A GUEST HOUSE. I won’t spoil the ending for you.

At least he’s cute.

 

We begin with Brooke confronting a student about her lackluster performance on a “midterm” and being told by the girl that her boyfriend dumped her and she’s been distraught. Oh, says Brooke, true love is a chimera and although they’ve been taught by society to look for a knight in shining armor to rescue them, that’s a fool’s errand.

Hold that thought.

One never expects historicity from these things, but you get the feeling that the scriptwriter and the producers deliberately avoided knowing anything about the 14th century, starting with Sir Cole in all probability not speaking a lick of English, and certainly not modern English, and especially certainly not with a plummy BBC Received Pronunciation accent.

Or glass windows in castles. Or Christmas trees being a 19th-c. fad. Or hogs in tubular steel pens.[1]

Nor did they seem particularly interested in physics, for that matter: after Brooke runs into Sir Cole in her car, he simply bounces off into the snow with no injuries sustained either to him—or to his cuirass. Snow comes and goes depending on the exigencies of plot with no impact on the ensuing action. Cole whacks down a Christmas tree in one stroke, inspiring another, random man to do the same (never mind why Christmas trees are growing in the lot).

Logical human behavior is never a hallmark[2] of these movies, but merciful heavens—within 24 hours of his arrival in 2019, Cole

  • knows how to wrap himself in a towel after asking for a bath[3]
  • expresses no astonishment at anything he sees other than a couple of clumsy “where’s that music coming from” gags
  • is seen operating a TV remote the morning after his arrival
  • apparently picks up enough modern lingo during his one night of binge-watching TV to be able to understand Brooke’s 21st-c. code (like “binge-watching”)
  • does not think pants are odd

Brooke’s friends express mild concern about her taking in an oddly-dressed and clearly mentally ill man with no identification, but no one makes any effort to get help for him or to find out who he is or where he came from. (On the contrary, Brooke’s sister cheerfully provides him with a wardrobe from her “boutique” in the mall.)

Script failures littered the landscape:

  • Brooke’s cheating ex is seen in the background a couple of times, but vanishes from the script without even one snide scene
  • an icky neighbor is introduced, but is used only once to try to flirt unsuccessfully with Cole
  • the crone shows up once when Cole first arrives at the Christmas Village, but never again (although I think she’s in the background at the big charity event—maybe a victim of the cutting room floor?)
  • the girls who go outside in a blizzard to practice their “swordplay” who—after being warned to stick close to the house in a blizzard—nevertheless go all the way to a park with a not-quite-frozen lake
  • Brooke willingly gives Cole the keys to her car (presuming he “remembers” how to drive); he can put it into reverse and drive, but cannot manage to steer it into a wide-open parking space rather than onto the sidewalk
  • the whole premise that Cole has until midnight on Christmas Eve to “complete his quest” is completely lost; only the occasional date thrown on the screen reminds us that time is running out—for what?
  • the idea that Brooke assumes Cole has amnesia also vanishes; he’s just a cute man who lives in her guest house and meanders through her holiday chores
  • late insertion of David, the single dad who works two jobs to support his four kids, being the recipient of Cole’s (offscreen) fundraising[4] despite being present at Brooke’s fupping Christmas Eve fundraiser the express purpose of which is to raise money for people like Dave

And most of all, the entire movie gives the lie to Brooke’s advice to her student at the opening. Indeed, Brooke backtracks on the advice near the end when her student bounces up to her and tells her that she told her boyfriend to take a hike.[5]

All in all, the thing was a disaster. It was incoherent, even by the extremely low standards we have for these things, and it gave the feeling that it only took a week to film. The frankly amateurish quality of the script was appalling.

So could this movie have been saved? How about this:

  • clearly define Cole’s need for this “quest” and make it his paramount concern[6]
  • define Cole’s chivalry as solidly of the 14th-c., with all the misogyny involved, i.e., he’s cute and he’s helpful, but there are limits to his sensibilities
  • play off Brooke’s culturally-ingrained “knight in shining armor” complex to create the romantic tension: she wants to love him, but…
  • embed Brooke’s crappy ex and David the single dad more into the plot, thus giving us three versions of what a man can/should be
  • end it with Cole returning to the 14th-c. and Brooke realizing that everything she actually values in a man is right there in David, the single dad

Here’s my point: if I can come up with a more interesting and still sappily romantic plot on the spot, why is Netflix greenlighting dreck like this without demanding that the entire team go back to the writing table?

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[1] Or the bubonic plague. Or Sir Cole most assuredly being shorter than everyone in the modern world.

[2] See what I did there?

[3] To be fair, this was simply to show off Josh Whitehouse’s lissome 6’ 2” body. I’m amazed we didn’t get a bathtub scene.

[4] How?? He knows no one other than the people standing right there around him.

[5] Which I realize is the whole point of these movies. Smash the patriarchy.

[6] No clue what this might involve, since the whole premise is idiotic, but I bet we could come up with something less lame than rescuing a kid from a frozen pond or tackling a pickpocket.

So this happened…

We have decamped to Fernandina Beach for the weekend with some dear friends and are having a great time so far.

Last night, I and two others strolled out the boardwalk to see the ocean. You know how some boardwalks have little benches built into them for some unknown reason?

Here’s a photo of one:

And here’s a photo of the one we sat in:

Yep, there was a creak and a groan, and we found ourselves flat on our backs. It’s pretty miraculous that none of us sustained even the least injury; I think it was because it gave way slowly at first and so we were already mostly down when it failed completely.

So other than a little spilled prosecco and a spell of hysterical laughter, no harm done. (We have alerted the property agent that they might want to do a structural integrity check.)

How was your Friday night?

New Cocktail: Jasper

I’m not at all sure of the name here, so I’m sticking it with Jasper for the time being, in my ongoing series of gemstone cocktails.

The Jasper

  • 3/4 oz barrel-aged gin
  • 3/4 oz Amaro CioCiaro
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 4-5 drops Alpine Herb Bitters

Stir with ice; strain. Orange peel garnish.

It’s dark, herbal, and the piney bitters give it just enough punch to make it very interesting.

A recipe: Pistachio-Shrimp Pasta

Here’s a meal I whipped up last night. No photo, because we had eaten the meal by the time I thought I should preserve this recipe. But that’s how good it is: very subtle mixtures of pistachios, herbs, and textures.

Pistachio-Shrimp Pasta

serves 4

  • shrimp (4–5 per person), shelled/deveined
  • fettucine

sauce

  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 c. chopped pistachios
  • 4 tarragon leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. cream

marinade

  • 1/2 tsp zataar seasoning
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • olive oil, salt, pepper

finishing

  • 1 1/2 tbsp breadcrumbs/panko
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 4 tarragon leaves, chopped

serving

  • whole pistachios
  • tarragon leaves
  1. Set the water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Add the white wine, chopped pistachios, tarragon, and lemon juice to a small pan and boil to reduce by half. Add the cream and continue simmering until reduced. (This step always takes longer than you think. Start it first. You can even start this before you peel the shrimp or chop the herbs/pistachios.)
  3. Put the shrimp in a bowl to marinate with the zataar, lemon juice, olive oil (enough to coat plus a little more), salt, and pepper.
  4. When the sauce is nearly ready, cook the fettucine. (That’s usually about 9 minutes; check the package.)
  5. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and marinade. Cook about 3 minutes per side.
  6. Drain the pasta, add the sauce to it.
  7. Finish the shrimp by adding the breadcrumbs, parsley, and tarragon. Stir until combined and the shrimp is coated.
  8. Serve the pasta with the shrimp on top. Garnish with the whole pistachios and tarragon.

The ties I did not keep

This past weekend I had to attend both a memorial service and a wedding, and thus I had to wear a tie. Since I’ve retired my need for a tie has been greatly reduced, and I certainly no longer need the ≈60 ties I still had in my possession. Believe it or not, I culled the collection right after GHP lost me in 2013, but I hung on to most of them for some unknown reason.

Now it was time for them to go, though. It’s been on my to-do list since Saturday, and today I decided to do it. All in all, it took only about 20 minutes and was surprisingly painless. I had intended to limit myself to ten ties, but when I ended up with sixteen, I was OK with that, too.

A review:

Yes, it’s true, I once had more ties.

And yes, they’re hung by color range.

The reds:

The yellows/oranges:

The greens:

(The Slytherin tie was an immediate keep, of course.)

The blues:

Some tough choices here.

The purples/pinks:

Prior to my leaving East Coweta High School in 1997, I had far more purple and purple-adjacent ties. They were disposed of 22 years ago, needless to say.

The grays, browns, and golds:

The oddballs and sentimentals:

(Yes, there were some oddballs in with the others…)

The literary:

The holidays:

The Christmas:

Even when I was checking out books to kindergartners, I wore a jacket and tie most days. The holiday/Christmas ties were mostly in service to that. The majority of the others were ‘nice’ ties for other days, and especially when I worked at the Georgia State Department of Education as the director of the Governor’s Honors Program. What with nearly 100 ties and a plethora of jackets and suits, I was a well-dressed educator.

But a burner doesn’t really need ties—although I have been known to wear a bow-tie while serving craft cocktails to the hippies[1]—so in running through each pile I was not tempted by sentiment (mostly) nor by “what-ifs.” There will never be an occasion where I will need to be so traditionally fashionable again. And if for some reason I am compelled to re-enter that life, I will simply buy more ties.

The winners:

Fifteen (plus a couple more I added after this photo), excluding the two Christmas ties.

Here are some I did not keep.

These are all GHP-related. The two rightmost I wore to the AgScience open house, of course. The child’s drawing of the cat I bought one of my first summers there when Jouree Petersen, my more-than-able assistant in the Media Support Services department, insisted I accompany her to the PX at Moody Air Force base (her husband was military) to see and buy this tie.

The one on the left is the one I always wore as director of GHP on the last day: it was the colors of the GHP Alumni Association—silver, for the value of the learning experience at GHP; blue, for the loyalty of GHP alumni to the program and to each other
; and black, for the lifelong nostalgia for the program. For a couple of years, alumni were able to order honor cords for their graduation:

Good times.

But the space where I wore those no longer exists, so I don’t need them any more.

One of several elementary-themed ties that went. I won’t miss the Sam-I-Am so much, but I might end up keeping Curious George.

This one goes to my son, who (I think) gave this to me for Father’s Day one year. It was given to him by Carol Lee (see comment below) and somehow it ended up in my keeping.

It is custom-made with a photo of Sam, our magnificent Maine coon. He was Grayson’s cat to begin with, but stayed on to live with us until his passing late in life.

(You might be interested in the book I created to read to kindergartners about color: Sam Cat’s Colors.)

Anyway, if you are interested in any tie you saw, or if you need a tie with specific colors, let me know. Soon. I no longer need them, and I will be giving them away.

UPDATE 10/24/19: The ties have been donated to the Gwinnett School of Science, Math, & Technology, which maintains a supply of attire for students who need jackets/ties, etc, for interviews/internships. Thanks to Jobie for the beg!

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[1] No, the bow-ties were not culled.