The ultimate test of a cook? Roast chicken?

I’m going to have to say a roast chicken, or to be fancy-pants, a roti poulet. A recent Top Chef (file under “guilty pleasures”) featured a bunch of hardcore famous chefs asking for their “last meal.” Lidia Bastianich called for a roast chicken with potatoes. (My last meal would be a great baguette and cheese)

Others have written — Bourdain for one — that how one cooks or mis-cooks a roast chicken is the best gauge of one’s cooking capabilities. I follow the roast chicken recipe from the Balthazar cookbook, which starts with half a stick of butter mixed with parsley, thyme and rosemary and jammed up inside the breast skin. Braise until brown, then roast with root vegetables for a couple hours at 450, basting as you go.

I am not a pink chicken fan, so I go overdone, which is not the French way, but frankly, I don’t care if the instant meat thermometer says 170. 190 is more my style. I want the sucker falling off the bone. I must roast a chicken at least twice a month and everytime it comes out differently.


One day after having my right nostril roto-rooted so I can breathe like a stallion. It looks worse than it is.


For the past month I’ve been using an opensource video player called VideoLAN that was developed as a student project in France. It is, in short, the single best piece of opensource code on my system and an incredibly capable video player — kicking the stuffing out of commercial offerings from the major OS players as well as third-parties. The bullshit of wrestling with QuickTime, Microsoft Media, RealPlayer, Intervideo, DivX blah blah blah are over.

Indeed, I’ve found that if I have a problem with a video file in say *.avi format playing in its native player, Quicktime, I can open it with VLAN and the problems vanish.

So, a plug for this nice piece of code. If you want to simplify your video viewing, here’s the solution.

Out of pocket

I am having minor surgery done on my right nostril/sinus/septum/schnoz today to fix a messed-up situation caused by the 2006 bike accident.

update: The septoplasty took three hours this afternoon- I have a  moustache bandage and two big black eyes. Not video was shot.

First rule in minor surgery: don’t be an all-knowing weenie and watch the procedure on YouTube. There are things that need not be known.

Second rule: unconsciousness is a good thing when chisels and silver hammers are involved. Do this in a tent — as Uncle Fester says — and welcome to the Civil War.

Third rule: any time you tell someone that you are about to have nose surgery the conclusion is either rhinoplastic vanity or a past problem with the devil’s dandruff.

Bottom line: I am going to be a vegetable the remainder of the weekend with 12 feet of gauze stuffed upside my head. By Monday I should be pawing at the ground and breathing through flared nostrils like a stallion.

Sure sign I have spring fever … 3 sailing vids

It must  be just a few weeks from spring because I have been obsessing about sailing. In this case, fast sailing. My buddy David R.  and I share a love for extreme sailboats. He’s having a couple of Paper Jet 14 kits put together this winter at a local boat yard; that’s a single-handed trapeze dinghy styled on the Australian skiff concept. If I were to sail one of these I would need to start yoga classes now and wear goalie pads.  David found the boat  in a recent edition of WoodenBoat magazine — which typically drools over 100 year old antique boats and not little rocket ships. Oh to be 14 again.

Then I found this hydrofoil. I once delivered a 60′ plywood ocean-going catamaran from Cape Cod to Florida in November and it was the most frightening experience in my young life.  This “boat” is flying at 47 knots (1 kn = 1.15 mph, ergo this boat is going 54 mph). People die doing this stuff. Where’s Kevin Costner with his gills when you need him?

Finally, it is still winter. Before I die I want to ride in an iceboat. But not one that sinks.

Kindle needs to open up – Tim O’Reilly

Tim writes in Forbes that unless Amazon adopts open standards, the Kindle is gone in three to five years.

He advocates moving to ePub. I know nothing of e-book standards, but thanks to Tim, now I do.

New paper launches in Barnstable

One newspaper is swimming against the ebbing tide in the news business — The Barnstable Enterprise launched this week, a weekly paper owned by the people who publish the Falmouth Enterprise. It joins the venerable Barnstable Patriot which was picked up by the News Corp. controlled Cape Cod Times a few years ago.

Neighbor and erstwhile Cape Cod Today blogger Paul Rifkin is the Cotuit correspondent. He interviewed me last week in my home office about Capt. Thos. Chatfield. I also see a good history piece in the inaugural issue by Prof. James Gould, Cotuit’s local historian, on a dance club/speakeasy that existed in Marston’s Mills during the Jazz Age.

Anyway, here’s a link to the kickoff.

Curriculum Blogtae – your blog as your resume

No fewer than five former colleagues and friends have lit up blogs since the New Year, starting down a road that is remarkably rewarding if you have an affinity for it, but can also be frightening if it’s a forced march being taken on because someone suggested a blog is a smart career move (it is, done right). Thankfully for me spreadsheets haven’t migrated into the social domain – I’d be tongue tied if I had to communicate in cells and formulae, and I expect some new bloggers are more accustomed to communication through a Powerpoint slide than they are through a paragraph. I guess ex-journalists will have the easiest time in this medium, with quants and more analytical types a little more tongue-tied.

I sense a lot of these efforts are being launched because of the rising need to market their skills in an uncertain job market, to establish new ventures, and to put their expertise on public display. All, I might add as an aside, were launched on (and that is good). I wish the best to all, and regard their first posts with the same nervousness I felt when I started blogging. If I have any advice from those years, it’s this: it is all worthwhile when someone comes up to you and says those ego-stroking words: “I read your blog ….”

A blog is (to borrow a phrase from Walt Whitman) a song of yourself, a constant give and take between privacy and exposure, sharing and guarding, safety and risk. It’s not a printing press for cash, but there are those out there who feel compelled to launch blogs as businesses, and to that subculture there is a bleakness of affiliate marketing, PPC, linkbaiting, and SEO gaming techniques ripe for the picking but which never seem to yield much in the way of honor or cash. I understand when people in tough financial straits need to do what needs to be done to make a living. If blogging is your best idea of an at-home business plan, let me refer you to Dan Lyons – The Fake Steve Jobs — and his recent column in Newsweek on the futility of chasing $$$ from a blog.

For those who manage to stick with it, a blog can be an interesting ego exercise – a public diary and soapbox that needs some weekly tending before it withers. The following big issues will emerge.

  1. Your “about page” is your new bio. If you optimize anything, try make sure the about page encapsulates your bio as succinctly and accurately as possible. This is the new resume. This is a freeform space for you to paint the picture of you. Add LinkedIn ties, Facebook, twitter accounts, photos, and a link to your actual resume.
  2. Focused: there are highly focused blogs that mine one specific vein of expertise. This is a tried and true tactic to establish one’s self as a subject matter expert. For some, particularly those with a technical skill, a highly focused blog can work wonders in building reputation. Particularly if the blogger is actually smart. These blogs thrive in their niche by being social with other experts in the same niche. Web analytics is a perfect example.
  3. Unfocused: there are blogs, like this one, that cover the gamut from professional to personal issues. I have wrestled with the idea of launching a separate blog or two, but in the end have decided to stay consolidated and veer from one area of interest to another.

Courage is the toughest issue. I get the most traffic and comments when I go out on the limb and say something provocative. Sometimes I regret going too far and not moderating my opinions. I launched my first blog in 2002 and gave up because it felt too weird writing polemics and highly opinionated pieces in public after a career as an objective journalist. It still feels weird. I won’t ever feel comfortable stating a political or religious opinion in public out of an old habit of trying to remain as neutral as possible. This is a curse, not a virtue. Then again, I know a novice blogger who was just shown the door because of some ill-considered blog posts.

Drafting and knowing when to just hit the publish button is an art. I am a sloppy grammarian, punctuater, and copyeditor. Some people are picky about those errors, I just go back and correct them as I find them. Blogs are not nuclear fission. The world won’t end if you publish a mess.

And one final note: you will look and look for some verification that the blog is worth the time it takes. If you start collecting scalps and measuring your net worth in terms of followers, subscribers, readers or page views, I feel sorry for you. It’s not about the numbers. For the Dour Marketer, a blog is a reward unto itself. Do it for the experience, not the followers, and certainly not the cash.

CRASH-Bs are underway without me

I was too much of an injured, vain toad to wake up and drag my butt to Boston for the 2009 World Indoor Rowing Champs.

So I pulled a 5k by my lonesome in the boatshed and felt sorry for myself. Right shoulder is a mess, but hey, the body is evil and must be punished.

Follow the CRASH-B’s on twitter and best of luck to those poor souls about to endure the worst 6 minutes or so in athletics.

Exit mobile version