Friday, October 29, 2021

Fried Green Tomatoes

The end of the growing season has arrived at Flippist World Headquarters™ (45°11′52″N 93°23′14″W).

Years ago, the first killer frost was usually around the end of September but now it is closer to the end of October. It was a tough year for plants—it didn’t rain at all for almost three months—but we kept the cherry tomatoes alive with hand-watering. September rains and warm weather kept them thriving, I harvested them all before we finally did get a frost last week.

Left on their own, most of these “greenies” will ripen, but lately I’ve enjoyed putting them in pasta sauce, omelets, and stir-fry. They are at their best when they have just started to turn from a deep green to a pale orange, frying or baking them makes them palatable. The tang they impart is a quite different flavor than ripe tomatoes; it’s lighter, a more herbal taste, pairing well with white wine.

Reading about Covid side-effects have made me more appreciative of the taste and smell of the food I eat.

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Sandhill Cranes

These magnificent birds were once on the path to extinction but conservation efforts have seen their numbers grow. 4 to 5 feet high, with a wingspan of up to 7 feet, they are graceful and efficient flyers:
About twenty miles north of Flippist World Headquarters is a sand dunes nature area where, in October, you can catch them flying in formation as they return to their roosting areas every evening, gathering in preparation for their annual migration.
They have a burbling cry as they fly, the patterns of their formations are almost hypnotic:
Click through pictures to embiggen.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Monday, October 25, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#126

Kjötborg
This is one of my favorite places in Reykjavík. A little corner store that services the neighborhood west of Tjörnin near the Hólavallagarður cemetery and the Grund nursing home.
It manages to squeeze in a ton of products into a tiny space. Not just snack foods, but fresh fruit and veg as well. It is a very homey place, with local art and culture complementing the store’s regular products:
One thing that is big about Kjötborg are the hearts of the two brothers who run it and who have made it their life, persevering in the face of modern competition and changing times.

There is a wonderful documentary about the store on Vimeo.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Friday, October 22, 2021

The Children’s Table

When I was a child every Christmas had a gathering of some of my father’s siblings and their families.

When we ate, the cousins and I would sit at at “the children’s table.” The picture above shows most of us but sometimes there would be two tables, with one as the “little kids table”, and one as for the “big kids.” It was a pretty cool scene, we all got along well, I don’t recall any major catastrophes. These Christmas get-togethers continued for many years but as we grew older some of us moved away and eventually our parents died. The gatherings had stopped many years ago.

I got a phone call from my sister the other day concerning one of the kids from the “little table.” I wasn’t close to him, I think I had only seen each other four or five times in the last forty years, there had been no rift between us, we just moved in different circles, that’s all. I suspected that his outlook on politics was about 180° from mine but it was never discussed.

He had been hospitalized for over a week, on a ventilator. He didn’t make it. The “little kid” in blue, pictured above at the children’s table, was gone.

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Left to My Own Devices

My love/hate relationship with products from Apple Inc., has entered a new phase with my purchase of an iPhone SE. Here is a summation of my flirtations and consummations with the digital progeny of Jobs, Ivey and Cook (pardon my exclamation points!)

I’ve had various MacBooks for twenty years, the vast majority of FITK was created on one. I’m in my eighth year on my current one and, apart from replacing a few keys and routine battery changes, it has been a real trouper and still accepts the current MAC OS updates. There aren’t many other gizmos that actually get better with age. The newest MacBooks with the M1 chip are even better, but $$$$. Love.

About two years ago I thought an iPad mini might be useful for handling my photos and some other tasks. It was not. Outside of a Scrabble-like game app and a couple of nerdy sound apps, it has been a bust. It does do Kindle but I’d really much rather read a real book. Hate.

Last spring I got a new M1 iMac, with the next generation processor and a super-duper display. It is gradually becoming my go-to machine, a real advance in every way. Of course it isn’t very portable (and certainly not hand-holdable!), but that is the nature of a desktop. With an additional monitor, a Wacom stylus and pad, and a hub to tie all the peripherals together, it is simply dreamy. Love.

And now-the iPhone.

I had held off from getting any sort of smartphone until now, they were just too expensive and the mobile plans were no bargain either. Not anymore. I got a refurbished current model iPhone SE and a one-year no-contract mobile service for less than $400! While I probably won’t be burning through a ton of data if I do I can upgrade painlessly. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make on the phone is getting used to the operating system. Everything that is easy on my Macs is awkward on the phone, and not just because of the size. Many of the sites I visit feature a special mobile-view can usually be toggled back to the regular desktop view—which usually works better! Sometimes you have to turn the orientation sideways to get the best look—FITK works great that way—and a little pinch and zoom action tweaks it so it works just fine. Also, I can’t get an ad-block for Firefox that works on the phone and I think Safari is definitely a substandard browser. There is a new MacOS coming next week which might fix it.)  I’ll have to learn how to create my own custom home page icons on my iPhone, in only 19 easy steps! ½ Love, ½ Hate.

So… unless I get into reading on Kindle (or Libby or some other reading app) it looks as if the device that will be left out of the mix is my iPad Mini; it is already pretty obvious that the iPhone will supplant it. The MacBook Pro will probably be retired in a year or two for a newer model—Apple announced some M1 MacBook Pros Monday. A laptop is still the most versatile device, but my M1 iMac is the most elegant experience I’ve had on a computer.

By Professor Batty


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Monday, October 18, 2021

Mondays in Iceland #-125

Flybus from KEF
Nearly every tourist who hasn’t rented a car (or limo) takes the Flybus from the Keflavík airport terminal to the BSÍ station in Reykjavik. I’ve done it six times, every trip is like a mini-documentary of Iceland: people on their way to work; to school; businesses opening; the rising sun. Each turn in the road reveals a new vista.
Over the last twenty years both the road and the buses themselves have been upgraded (WI-Fi - yay!). The trip is really quite civilized compared to battling the traffic yourself (which I have also done and don’t recommend.) As you get closer to the city, the traffic can get quite congested:
Here’s a shaky low-res clip (kind of quaint compared to modern videos) from 2012, taken from the bus driver’s perspective:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Friday, October 15, 2021

Mysteries of the North Country Redux

This is an expanded FITK re-post from October, 20, 2010



I found them in one of the numerous antique stores in Duluth.

It was just an old pair of glasses, in a common style.

Nothing really valuable, they were possibly 70 or 80 years old, but I had found a pair in the same style in another junk store 40 years ago, when they were “almost new.” My girlfriend at the time was smitten with them, and had the frames fitted with her prescription. There was sort of a hippie/gypsy/old time/eclectic fashion movement going on at the time, they fit right in.

Were these her actual glasses? No way to tell, really.

And if they were, what of it? She wouldn’t be wanting them back.

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Cackle Sisters



It’s high time that some yodeling was featured here on FITK.

The Cackle Sisters, real-life twin sisters Caroline and Mary Jane DeZurik, grew up in Royalton, Minnesota. They were active from the mid-1930s to the early 1950s and they had a distinct yodeling style that included trills and stops. They had some success, and were even featured on the Grand Old Opry. There is a feature on NPR that gives the history of this fascinating group. They once stated that they wanted to “sing with the birds” and I think they succeeded:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Monday, October 11, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#124

The Long Goodbye
Iðno

I know what’s going on.

Hótel Borg

What it is that I’m doing with these Monday in Iceland posts.

Naust


It’s The Long Goodbye.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Friday, October 08, 2021

Tired

Here is another look at Green Lake, a chemical/trash dump in North Minneapolis that existed until 1980:
If a 10 acre pool of caustic lime wasn’t a bad enough eyesore (and nose hurt!), the ‘lake’ was also a favored spot of scoff-laws who used it for the deposit of worn out tires:
It seemed to exist in an alternate reality; Green Lake was a world with its own aesthetic and at times possessed a strange beauty:
It was situated a few blocks away from where I grew up.


The original monochrome images were shot circa 1974 and colorized in 2021

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Holiday on Ice

July 4, 1973, Edinburgh

Some holidays are better than others.

The fourth of July in a chilly hotel room in sodden Scottish city is no place to celebrate.

Fireworks were out of the question.

The trip was a disaster from the start and the outlook for the remainder was grim.

But that’s why you take a vacation with someone, right?

To find out if the relationship can survive the slings and arrow of outrageous fortune.

And, if it doesn’t, you can pack up your luggage, go home, and leave that world behind.

And start over.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Monday, October 04, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#123

The Darkness Knows

A novel by Arnaldur Indriðason
Translated by Victoria Cribb

It has been a few years since there have been any new English translations of novels by Arnaldur Indriðason. Arnaldur is best known for his 14 Detective Inspector Erlendur novels, he has been writing and publishing in Icelandic regularly but I suspect that the recent explosion of translated Icelandic novels has caused a backlog (this book was first published in 2017 and is just now available in English.) When Arnaldur started his career (in the late 1990s), he was one of only a handful of Icelandic writers being translated into English. Now there are dozens of quality books by Icelandic authors making the ‘leap across the pond’ every year—truly an embarrassment of riches. The golden age of Icelandic literature is NOW.

The Darkness Knows is the first novel in a series featuring Konráð, a retired Reykjavík police detective. The story begins when a tour group discovers a body frozen in a glacier. The body belonged to a man who went missing thirty years previously and the chief suspect in his disappearance (who had never been charged) had become close to Konráð, uncomfortably so, and so asks to see Konráð after he is re-arrested. Konráð meets with the man, who protests his innocence but in such a way that there remains doubt about his story. There are also sub-plots concerning a victim of a hit-and-run accident and Konráð’s relationship with his father (who was a minor criminal and conman) who had died when Konráð was a teen. I suspect that relationship will be more fully developed in the later books (there are already three more that have yet to be translated.) Konráð, a widower, is a melancholy figure (but not nearly as cranky as the Erlendur character was in that previous series) but has a much darker backstory,  which I also assume will also be explored in future books. The writing, as is usually the case with Indriðason, is terse and direct, making the somewhat complex story line easier to follow and, if you are familiar with Reykjavík, the description of the story’s settings add color to the story. The plot is logical, but still manages to take a sharp turn or two. I found the ending to be surprisingly touching. One of the joys of following Indriðason’s novels is the ‘slow burn’ of character development over the series. This augurs well for the remaining titles—or it just might be that I find a perverse pleasure (self-identification?) in reading about idle pensioners. Konráð is the antithesis of a television action-detective.

Victoria Cribb’s translations, after a shaky beginning, have become faultless—she is now one of the best in doing Icelandic to English.

Recommended.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, October 01, 2021

House Party - Part VI

Friday Fiction

No Regrets, Coyote
“Look who showed up… ” said Scott, nodding towards Tommy.

A tall woman, wearing a designer dress, had walked, no—had sauntered in the room where the band had set up their equipment. Her entrance was too classy for a slink, but her subtle sashay did turn a few heads.

“Irene, the queen of small talk,” thought Tommy, “There will be no lack of conversation tonight.”

Tommy had a warm spot for Irene, they went back a long way together. Irene’s stream-of-consciousness discourse flowed continuously; there was never a drought when it came to the minutiae of her (or her acquaintances) lives. When they were young Tommy used to talk to Irene for hours until he gradually came to realize that it the “log” was mono, not dia. Irene and her friends had spent a lot of time hanging out with him when they were young—but not making out. There was just enough difference in age between them that it was far easier to fall into the role of siblings; the path to lover’s lane was a much rocker road.

Tommy had always felt that he had not been good enough for Irene. It didn’t help matters any that when he used to get drunk he would do things that he regretted. Nothing major—a single stolen kiss—although in light of #MeToo even that seems bad. But the incident at Woman Lake was definitely one step beyond a stolen kiss. It was a sunny afternoon, warm, everyone was swimming except Irene, who was holding court from her inflatable raft. Tommy had drunk one beer and then thought that it was such a nice day that two would be better, even though he knew that two was his personal line of demarcation. As he gazed at Irene that day he beheld a glorious scene: in a white-on-white linen outfit, basking in the late afternoon sun, she was a queen surrounded by her subjects. Tommy flipped the raft and Joan went into the lake. When she emerged her outfit clung to her lithe, back-lit body— leaving nothing to the imagination. “How could I have been so crude?” he thought, thinking back on the incident. Almost simultaneously a devil in him said “But it was so worth it—what good are the glories of life if they are always hidden from view? No regrets, Coyote!”

“Hey,” said Irene to Tommy, breaking his reverie, “Looks as if you’re back in the saddle again with all that sound gear.”

“It’s like riding a bicycle, you don’t forget, here’s hoping I don’t crash,” said Tommy, “You are looking fabulous as always Irene, is that dress vintage?”

“T.J. Maxx,” said Irene, “I’m the expert shopper of all its southern Minnesota outlets. It’s my superior sense of style. Speaking of style, where’s the Blatz?”

Irene always drank the lowest alcohol light beer she could; “I can drink myself sober on Blatz!”, was one of her non-drunken tirades. At 3.4% ABV, she just might have been right. She headed off to the bar. “A definite slink in that walk,” thought Tommy.

Tommy’s romantic reminiscences of Irene were quickly supplanted by the actual history of their parallel lives—his marriage and children; her various affairs and marriages. When they grew older they both moved to small towns and had done alright for themselves, with meaningful lives well lived. Candide.

It was time for the band to begin. Scott was the nominal leader and he nodded to the bass player who laid down the groove for In With the In-crowd. And they were off. There was still no hint of what the “surprise” might be. After the band played a few more songs Scott began to speak:

“There has been a rumor going around that we have a special surprise for you tonight… we have a special guest… you all know him…  you all love him… Bob Dylan!”

Groans were heard and Tommy joined in. In the old days of the band Dylan would hang around Minneapolis from time to time so there was always a chance that it could be true—at least it was geographically possible.

“No, really,” began Scott, as Tommy began to sense a rustling in the crowd. People turned around when Scott pointed to the rear of the room, “Direct… from the Beehive State… you all know him… you all love him—Kevin!”

Shouts from the crowd surrounded Kevin as he walked to the stage and put on the guitar. Some people began to cry.

It had been almost forty years since anyone had seen him play. Although he was nominally the lead singer of the old band, as well as being the most prominent guitarist, Kevin was always a reluctant star. But he was never unnoticed. Major record labels, other bands, everyone wanted him. He and his family had moved out west in an attempt to find a better life. Tommy had visited him out there once. Kevin told him then that, musically, he had reached a dead-end in Minnesota. Looking back on it with hindsight, Tommy had to agree. Performing was marginally remunerative in the best of times and, with the advent of the internet and file-sharing, recording was no longer a viable enterprise either. Still, neither man had any regrets, some things have no measure of worth.

But seeing him in the flesh, this was a reality of now. Nothing lasts forever, does the moment of glory compensate for a lifetime of mediocracy? Tommy let this fleeting muse evaporate and returned to the task at hand—mixing sound. The horn players had been told what the next song would be and were arranging their charts as the crowd chanted “Kev-in! Kev-in!”

“Such an appreciative audience!” said Kevin, “We’d like to shake off a little rust with an old Curtis Mayfield number that Major Lance had some success with back in 1963… ” and then he counted off The Monkey Time:
There’s a place right across town
Whenever you’re ready
Where people gather ‘round
Whenever they’re ready
And then the music begins to play
You feel a groove comin’ on its way
Are you ready (are you ready)
Well, you get yours, cause-a I got mine
For the Monkey Time (Monkey Time)

Now the dance that the people do
I don’t know how it started
All I know is that when the beat brings a feel
It’s so hard to get parted
And then the music begins to play
Automatically you’re on your way
Are you ready (are you ready)
Well, you get yours, cause-a I got mine

For the Monkey Time (Monkey Time)

Do the Monkey, yeah (do the Monkey Time) Do the Monkey, yeah (do the Monkey Time)…

Ah-twist them hips (twist them hips)
Let your backbone slip (let your backbone slip)
Now move your feet (move your feet)
Get on the beat (get on the beat)
Are you ready (are you ready)
Well, you get yours, cause-a I got mine
For the Monkey Time (Monkey Time)
For the Monkey Time (Monkey Time)
The Monkey Time-Time-Time-Time-Time-Time-Time-Time
TIME!
And then it was only percussion for eight bars until Kevin came back in with one of his funky guitar solos for another eight bars and then the saxophones began trading fours and everybody was dancing and all the years of gigs in seedy bars and disappointments faded away into ONE BIG NOW.

And when Kevin came back in and sang the last verse it was Tommy’s turn to cry. No regrets, it was just experiencing a thing that he had thought he had lost forever.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2