The Cheese Files Vol VI

Red Dragon is a Y Fenni cheese.

A who now what?

Y Fenni. It’s Welsh. And it’s mustardy.

RedDragon

The Welsh blend a softish cheddar with some ale and plenty of mustard seed to make Red Dragon. The result is slightly creamy with a comfortable kick. The cheese’s name comes from the Red Dragon that graces the Welsh flag.

Prior to this one, I’d never even heard of Y Fenni. Y Fenni is the Welsh name for the town of Abergavenny in SE Wales. The cheese is great cut thin by itself and just as great served on crackers. Eating a big chunk is a little overwhelming, because it is a little bit strong. But certainly not unbearable. It’s mustardiness also led us to try it on a ham and egg breakfast sandwich, though in my mind it fell a little bit short in this application.

Let’s rate it:

Taste: 2.5/4
Price: $ Not bad.
Independence: Versatile – good alone or paired

Dataless

Recently, I was brain-stem deep in a game of Candy Crush. My eyes itched from staring at an iphone screen. My dreams for the previous two nights had included switching jelly beans with werther’s originals in order to blow up frosting to free gummy bears from some other-worldy chocolate centipede thing. I needed to stop.

Back when I was working in Ohio for weeks and weeks at a time, I became friends with a guy who practiced a “no electronics February” with his family. No TV, no video games, no laptops, no cell phones. Nothing.

This February, Jen and I are going to try.

That said, our goal is not based in a post-modern belief that there is truth to living in simplicity. No, most electronics are totally awesome it’s just some that are completely life-draining (I’m looking at you Candy Crush). So we’re setting up some ground rules so that we take advantage of the benefits but limit our exposure to time wasters.

Cell phones:
Cell phones can be used as communication tools: phone calls, FaceTimes, texts, or emails.
Apps can be used only if the supplement some other activity. For example: logging our exercise or looking up a recipe

Television:
Our TV will be unplugged for all of February

Laptops:
All the same rules as cell phones
Laptops can be used for work
Laptops can further be used for errands like paying bills or ordering a water filter off Amazon

Lastly: all of my personal usage will be logged. I will report back in March with the details

Since I won’t be going online to update my website, I’ll be prepping a bunch of posts in advance. These posts will show up a couple times a week for the next four weeks. Also, I will be keeping a legit diary which I will share come March.

The countdown is on: 5 days until

Painting #2

I am proud to announce the completion of my second painting!

Painting2
ta-da!

This one was inspired by a Graham Gercken piece. Check out his original here.

I really like his style. It’s colorful and vibrant with nicely textured strokes. I’m not sure what I’m going to try next – perhaps I’ll try something original.

The Age of Age

Scientists are furiously working to try and figure out how to hack aging. Yesterday on the ride home from work I was chatting with Sander and we mused about what might happen if Scientists succeeded. Let’s presume it was pretty instant success. For example, they discover that with a small amount of gene therapy life could easily be extended to 250years with scalable health.

Things would get weird. Fast.

Class wars for treatment prioritization on the short term
Political craziness as long-term problems suddenly effect everybody
Workforce migration as people re-evaluate their jobs and the retired re-apply
Overpopulation concerns and strange family dynamics, great^8 grandparents?
A widening of the wealth gap as the market leaders lead longer
Punishment re-evaluation
Driving adjustments
Le Creuset’s lifetime warranty speculation

It’s fun thinking of how things might get weird.

New Year Re-Solution

I’ve been playing guitar now for about 15 years and been taking serious lessons for about 5. This year I hope to push my music theory knowledge and I think I’ve discovered the key!

In October of 2014 I decided to come up with a solution for my unfortunate habit of practicing guitar without intent. My guitar teacher is strict with his studying: “If you’re playing guitar, you’re not practicing guitar.” The difference between playing and practicing being casual enjoyment vs. progression. My solution in October was geeking out. I made a spreadsheet to keep track of my practicing, and for the most part I was able to keep on task for the last quarter of 2014.

For the New Year, I revamped my method further and adjusted my spreadsheet to log my progress through four different areas:

1. Scales – 15 minutes going through Major, Minor and the modes. These are done with two cycles of 12 where I step through the circle of fifths, one key per day alternating between starting C on the sixth and fifth string
2. Etudes – Three Allen Hanlon etudes per day, tracking tempo and switching etudes only upon clean performance at a reasonable tempo (different per etude).
3. Jazz Study – Mark Levine’s Jazz Theory book. Mastery of one page per day
4. Song Analysis – Fakebook, one page per day chord analysis

This series takes between 45-60minutes.

If I can keep this up for all of 2015, I will complete both the jazz theory book and the Fakebook (both of which have approximately 350pages). My hope? To be able to immediately find key transitions and be able to identify and nail modes for soloing (or even just scale arpeggios) at 160bpm.

Peaky Blinders

A week ago Jen and I started watching the Netflix original show Peaky Blinders. Huh? You ask? What on Earth is Persnickety Biscuits? Well, good friend, Pesky Blunders is a 1920’s mob story with character depth, excellent music, and a fast moving plot. I am entirely convinced that if this show was named with some title more memorable than Pasty Blithers than the world would be very much aware of its stunning execution.

In full disclosure, not everyone loves Peachy Balloons. Sander was turned off by the parallel plots and the accents, which at times feel like they need subtitles. That said, if you have Netflix and you like dramatic crime, put Party Bingers on your short list. At the time of this post there are 12 episodes online, each about an hour long.

Let me know what you think!

Laugh Tracks

This weekend I got into a heated discussion with a friend about Laugh Tracks. I hate them. For me, they ruin a viewing experience. Take the acclaimed ‘Big Bang Theory’. Even though technically it’s not a track since they have a live studio audience, the laughter feels like an emotional crutch. It’s as if the jokes aren’t good enough on their own, so they cue everyone: “hey! this is where you’re suppose to laugh!”

The result is awkward pauses in flow of the script as the group waits for the laughter to subside. Through the magic of technology others have skillfully edited out laugh tracks in such shows as the Big Bang Theory. The result is awkward.

“But Wait!” you interject, “That’s a tendentious example, it’s not always awkward!”

Actually you’re right. This article does a good job at making the argument that laugh tracks aren’t the problem: The attempt at saving a failed joke is the problem. When laugh tracks or laugh cues are used when there isn’t actually anything funny… perhaps that is where it fails. In fact, I get that same distaste from stand-up comedy when I have a disagreement with the crowd’s appreciation for a joke. It makes me pause and wonder why the crowd guffaws. Ultimately, I become detached from the show. Maybe it’s the show’s resulting lack of sincerity from mistimed laughter that causes my distaste.

To me a laugh track seems as bizarre of an idea as a sob track for a sad film or a fear track (the crowd gasps!) for a horror film. These ideas seem so ridiculous; but conceptually they don’t differ at all from the idea of a laugh track.

But perhaps if laugh tracks or sob tracks were used in perfect harmony with the viewer’s genuinely experienced emotion, they would enhance the viewing experience. Perhaps people who love shows with laugh tracks just have a more welcoming sense of humor.

Maybe I’m just a dud.