Friday, 27 May 2016

A little musical history

Our new historic sign
I live in Trumansburg NY, a small village in the Finger Lakes, just north of Ithaca where Cornell University is. Bob Moog was a Cornell engineering PhD with an interest in electronic music.  He'd been making Theremins, the original electronic musical instrument from the 1920s, but was constantly experimenting with other instruments. After he graduated, in a storefront here in Trumansburg he built modular synthesizers played from a keyboard, which were a lot more versatile than a single-voice Theremin.

A few years later Walter Carlos (later Wendy Carlos) produced an album of familiar Bach works played on a Moog Modular, called Switched on Bach. It was huge and unexpected hit, both for its novelty and its musicianship. Almost 50 years later, it still sounds great. Listen to a copy at the Internet Archive.
Pretty good pizza

The storefront has gone through many tenants since Moog moved on and is now a pizza place. Everyone in town knows that it was the location of Moog's shop, but few people anywhere else did. Now, at least anyone driving through town can find out.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Boris for President

I presume everyone's heard that President Obama made some surprisingly direct comments in London saying that the UK should stay in the EU, and outgoing Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the most prominent proponent of Brexit, wrote a humdinger of a response in The Sun, mentioning among other things "the part-Kenyan president’s ancestral dislike of the British Empire."

It occurs to me that Boris is answer to the Republicans' ongoing primary disaster.  Boris for President. Let's look at the facts:

  • He's been a very successful Mayor of London.  If you like Mike B., you'll love Boris.
  • He shares the Reps' visceral dislike of Obama, but his rhetoric is several notches up, since it is at least somewhat consistent with reality. (The colonial government in Kenya really did torture Obama's grandfather.)
  • He's never been elected to anything in the US, so there's no pesky Senate non-career to explain away.
  • Plummy English accent makes him a shoo-in to win debates.
  • Natural born US citizen, unlike Cruz
  • Much better hair than Trump.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Wednesday, 25 February 2015


I made another tourtière using the rendered lard. Turned out OK. The lovely yellow tint is an egg wash.
For the culturally backward, the maple leaf, telephone, and airplanes are an obvious reference to Alexander Graham Bell.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Render this

We bought half a pig, all nicely cut up and stashed in the freezer. That includes a fair amount of lard, which the butcher gave us in its original form:

Before one can make it into tasty baked goods (see the Tourtiere from a few years back), you have to render it. So first you grind it into tiny shreds:
Then you put the tiny shreds in a heavy pan in the oven at very low heat, like 275 F, for a few hours. The recipe said to stir it to keep it from scorching, but with the heat that low in a convection oven with no heating element under the pan, that didn't seem to be a problem. The fat quickly melted, and started bubbling as the water boiled away. Eventually the bubbling stopped and the cracklings sank to the bottom.
So I took the pan out of the oven and poured off and strained the liquid fat, leaving the cracklings, which focused our dog's attention like nothing ever has before.

The liquid lard was fairly yellow, but they promised it would turn white after it cooled in the fridge.
Once it's chilled overnight, I'll see how it works in a pie crust.