Monday, May 25, 2009

The Wearing of Hats

Hats have gone in and out of fashion. In Greek and Roman times, the hat indicated freedom. In more modern times, the hat indicated your desire to stay out of the harsh frontier sun. What do hats mean now? I would like to think they still indicate a little about the person, even though we are in a "dressed-down" fashion trend these days.

The hat of all hats in my opinion is the fedora. Interestingly enough, the fedora was originally worn by women and soon adopted by men. Although, the fedora was not instantly iconic. It is rather a reaction of another hat, but more on that later. The fedora is a (typically) pinched front (tear drop usually) hat with a full brim that is usually pulled down over the eyes.

There are many variations hats (besides the baseball cap):

Porkpies (what Frank Sinatra wore and what you can stylishly get away with today without any undo pressure)

Standard Fedora (think Casablanca and a step up in class - if possible)

Hombergs (a favorite of Winston Churchill)

Bowler (left side)/Derby (right side and practically identical - just a rounder crown). One thing to note about the derby. It was originally the hat of a gentleman. With the coming of the frontier days and the introduction of a western hat, hat makers began to branch out and made a hybrid western derby, which was the birth of the fedora.

Panama - the classic from Ecuador. In fact, good panamas only come from Ecuador. Is there a better hat to smoke a cigar in? I think not.

Indiana Jone's Fedora (notice there is no "flip" to the back part of the brim)

Of course there is also the Western Hat and its many variations. I might get into that for a different post. Then there is the hooligan hat or driving cap or flat cap depending on where you are from. The fact of the matter is, wearing a hat is a style signature. You have to wear it with confidence. I think a lot of guys don't know how to wear anything but a baseball cap anymore (which should only be worn while playing or going to a baseball game in my opinion). Better yet remember when this was in style? LOL!

The sad thing is that visors persist in golf. Oh sad, sad days.

I digress; Here are some hat wearing guidelines to help you wear that stylish hat with confidence (hat etiquette):
  1. Go to a haberdashery that will help you find a hat to fit not only your head, but your face.
  2. Remove your hat when you enter a house, business, an elevator, or restaurant. Unless you really are a gangster or a cowboy, never wear your hat while having dinner.
  3. Touch the brim of your hat when you meet a friend and raise the front of the hat when you meet a lady friend.
That's about it. Otherwise make sure to dust your hat off with a medium stiff bristle brush, store it on a hat block if you can or a hat hook otherwise and don't set the hat on a flat surface or you will ruin the blocking of the brim. Otherwise enjoy your new status in the world with a fine hat.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Freewill vs. Predestination: Foundation's Edge

Did I choose the person I married or was I always meant to be with her? If there is a higher power, do we choose our relationship with It or does It choose? If either of those are the case, did It choose to create evil or was that destiny?

These are the metaphysical questions you grapple with at a theological university. It seems too that Isaac Asimov grappled with these questions too, although without the explicit introduction of a god.

In Foundation's Edge, Isaac Asimov continues his philosophy of the "Three Laws of Robotics" in which robots, that humans have created for their benefit, continue to delicately look after their inferior masters.

Asimov takes the reader through three unique plot twists in what turns out to be a correctly paranoid book. Very well written and lacking the usual ambling style of Asimov, Foundation's Edge is a story about the man, behind the man, behind the man. He layers on the complexity of social psychology as only he seemingly can. The end result, a good story about an intergalactic escapade that could almost be considered a science fiction western. Well it turns out that not only is it an enjoyable read, but Asimov continues to examine the interplay between free will and predestination. If nothing else, this novel will have you question the workings of the universe and leave you feeling like you are a tiny spot on a tiny spot (which is good, because realistically we all are even smaller than that). Now that I say that, it makes we think of Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss.

I hope you pick this one up soon and enjoy it as much as I did.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A New Type of Golf

I've decided that after this weekend, when I took my father-in-law out golfing for his birthday, that I was going to invent a new type of golfing. My primary desire is to bring joy to millions. However, a secondary and believe me it's way lower on the list, is because I think if the inventor of golf was still alive I might kill him. If not me, then I would definitely send a pack of rabbits on him... the kind with "sharp, pointy teeth."

No, my new game of golf will combine elements of golf. You will have a regulation golf ball, a fairway and a green. The primary difference will be in driving. Rather than having a fancy-dancy driver, you will use a modified potato gun. It will shoot the golf ball out, exactly where you want it. However, the trick will be in setting the gun correctly and judging you windage and elevation. Also, we will be prepared for WWIII while on the golf course; bet they won't see that coming!

Yes, you will see my golfing guns (patent pending) on sale in your local supermarket soon. I forecast they will be an immediate success, shooting me (pun intended) into the billionaire club by early next quarter.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Home Coffee Roasting

There is little doubt that I am a foodie. I made the switch to home brewed coffee long ago and will only get something from Starbucks these days as a last resort before having Folgers. No, there is no doubt that I have high standards, but where do I go from here in my quest for ultimate foodie-ness?

I am among the lucky. I say that because I know a friend that roasts coffee. I've talked about him before; Spunky Monkey Coffee. My friend uses a common and inexpensive method of home roasting. He utilizes an air-popper, typically used for popcorn, only slightly modified. I've discovered that he is much more an artist than just a coffee roaster because with these air poppers one can only judge the roast by eye. He is rarely off by much.

Here is how it all starts: With the beans.

These are Tanzania Pea Beans. Notice that they are not half beans like most coffee. They also tend to smell more like caramel when you roast them (my opinion).
Now, with these raw beans, all he did was to plug in the air poppers, get them going and pour in a cup (a measurement he found by trial and error) and start swirling the poppers.

The beans will start to turn golden brown as you swirl them around. The whole reason for swirling is that you need to move the beans around. After they have roasted for a little while, they will expand and become lighter. Eventually the air popper will move them around on its own. Soon, the beans will start "popping" and shedding their skins. At this point, you will realize the wisdom of doing this outside as the bean skins or hulls start swirling around every where. The beans will eventually stop popping. They are now through what is plainly called the first pop. At this point the beans will be somewhere around a medium roast. If you keep on roasting you will enter into the "second pop" - so aptly termed. During this pop the beans sound more like the crackling of a camp fire. Then its all a matter of seconds as you go through medium dark roast, to a light french roast when the second pop starts dying down. A few seconds after the second pop stops you have reached a dark or true french roast (about 10 seconds following the second pop - give or take). A few more seconds you will be at espresso. After that you will have achieved charcoal. When your bean gets to the desired roast level, dump them out on a baking sheet to cool them and stop the roasting. After a few batches you will have a wonderful smelling pan of beans.

(Notice the bean skins all around the tray? Best not to do this inside)
That's it folks. Bag those beans up in a paper bag or put them in a resealable container and you've got good coffee for a week or so... depending on your level of addiction! So that is not to bad of an ordeal. I hope I have de-mystified the secrets of coffee roasting here. If I have left anything out or not explained something well enough please post your questions and I would be happy to clarify. Also, if you have any other tricks to add, please share!

(The "tricks" of the trade)

Monday, May 11, 2009


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Isn't there something special about an old baseball stadium? The way the old score board needs to be changed by hand, the way the ramps to get to the noise bleed seats look like they were designed in the early industrial period? Well I sure think so. That's why I'm not so up in arms about the Twins new open air stadium. In my mind, it will be more like an old fashioned stadium; more like Wrigley. Although, don't expect me to make any of the early or late season games... That's just nuts!