What I Learned This Week: #214

Monday, October 4 – Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Week in Speed Lecturing: I got gifted tickets to see historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin speak about great qualities of leadership. She has written books on Lincoln (her hero), FDR, and LBJ. I thought the show started at 7:30, so when I got to my seat at 7:20 (and despite her starting late), she was already zipping through her prepared remarks. And I do mean zipping. She spoke very fast, as if she was being timed. She spoke right over obvious laugh and applause lines. At the brief question and answer session at the end, the moderator read 5 questions and Doris plowed through those. Show was over, she got her paycheck, and the nearly full house of older liberals got to see a kindred spirit. Welp, that’s gettin’ it done.

The Week in the Surprisingly Tough Puzzle: I finish most 1000 piece puzzles in a couple weeks, doing the puzzle casually as I walk past the table. Annoyingly, it took me over a month to finish this 500 piece puzzle. The good news is that the picture is cool. It’s actual art, Gustav Klimt’s early 20th century work, Expectations. I had expectations…that this puzzle would be challenging but not ridiculous. Thus, the bad news: It turned out to be quite a challenge. The left side got put together in a day or two, and then that lady taunted me for weeks because I just couldn’t “see” the pieces. So judgy!

This women was not impressed by my puzzle skills.

The Week in a New Coffee Maker, Finally: Coffee pots in my house do not have long lives. I wear them out after about three years. But I’m so cheap, I hold on to each machine until the last , possible minute. The one I just replaced kept brewing louder and louder, near vacuum cleaner levels of sound emanating from my kitchen counter. Then the clock ran fast, just speeding through time, making auto-start for my morning coffee impossible. Then, the final straw: when I poured water into the reservoir, about a half cup would pour right through to the warming plate, like it had a weak bladder.

I had already bought a new coffee maker a few weeks ago on a really good sale. For weeks the new machine had been staring down the old one. Today I put the old one out to pasture, or the modern alternative, I put it in the electronic recycling pile. The first batch of coffee in the new pot, after what I thought was proper cleaning, tasted vaguely like the factory where machines are made. Hmmmm. But the second pot and beyond fulfilled my coffee needs. Now it’s time to start wearing this new pot out.

The Week in Fingernails and Habits: A couple weeks ago on the internet, I randomly came across a product that claimed it could break the fingernail biting habit. First, there is no such thing as coming across anything random on the internet. And, second as if to prove point one, I had always thought I’d grow out of gnawing on my nails, but mostly gave up that intention after I turned 50. Still, the product looked promising and I gave it a go.

It’s a pen-like thing with a brush to apply a bitter, clear, substance to the nails. My Mom tried this with hot sauce when I was a teen, and I think that failed deterrent contributed to my love of spicy food. But this stuff is different. It is all natural and really gross tasting. It’s not even like taste. It’s like licking aversion. From the second I put it on my fingers, that taste got on my lips and it was very unpleasant. Now, a few weeks in, I do have recognizable, not as gnawed on fingernails. I don’t know if I’ve quit for good though, because, as my nails are recovering, I CAN FEEL THEM, and I think they are calling for my attention. I bought a nail file and and file and clean under the nails. I’m wondering if I’ve traded biting for filing. Time will tell.

So far, so good…gross, but good. (Picture from nailquail.com)

The Week in Everything in Kitchen: Meal prep got totally out of hand on Sunday. I mean, it’s not normally a good night of food prep until I’ve used 75-80% of the tools I have in the kitchen, but tonight I outdid myself. My two main meals are the NY Times Thai Inspired Meatball Soup (Soup Pot, sheet pan to cook the meatballs), and Green Chili Verde from Serious Eats (Instant Pot, Immersion Blender). I used the salad spinner to wash and dry both spinach and cilantro and used the rice cooker, too. And while I was being industrious, I even made peanut butter cookies (sheet pans again, and cooling rack, and cookie scooper. Best news, the kitchen doesn’t look like a disaster, and everything tastes great.

Usual suspects of Sunday Cooking.

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