Calligraphy

One of the products of no-technology February was a new interest in calligraphy. I took a book out from the library and started going through the exercises. It’s unexpectedly challenging. There are a lot of very subtle recommendations to go from terrible calligraphy to decent calligraphy. It’s much more than pen angle; it’s balance of white space, line width, crisp intersections and perfect consistency. To start, I made pencil guidelines and then struggled through the alphabet with a pen. Just trying to learn the proportions before even considering line width.

alphabet

Suddenly I made a beautifully proportioned g. The bowl and loop feel balanced. The width and height feel right. It’s a masterpiece.

I proudly showed Jen

“Jen! Look at this g!”
“oh, good for you!” she said, her voice tinged with the slightest thread of pitying endearment. She followed sharply with “but what’s wrong with your a?”

It’s occasionally hilarious to be struggling to write lowercase at 33 years old.

Welcome back to the 21st Century!

Ahhh, the joys of lazy internet usage! We have completed our 28 days without technology.

How’d it go? Pretty good for the most part. Looking back, both Jen and I consider this experiment a positive one. We got a fair amount accomplished; Between the two of us we read 15 books (Jen: 13, me:2), went on a ton of adventures (most of which were previewed in automatic posts), cooked loads (over 250 raviolis!), played games, and had a handful of friendly get togethers.

The biggest surprise? I expected way more time to come out of not using technology. The biggest sudden increase in time was my work lunch. For not one day in February did I take a break during lunch. Without the internet, there really was no reason to stop working. The only semi-breaks were business lunches. The biggest area where I expected gains was at home, and here Jen saw a bigger gap open up from no technology than I did (Hence her triumph over 13 books). In general, the evenings remained much the same.

The hardest part? My week long trip in Houston. It was tough to use up dead time without internet. I did bring my travel guitar, so I got a little practice time in. And I admit, I cheated once to rewatch the patriots victory. Jen cheated once to watch a Modern family when the house was a bit too quiet in my absense.

The best part? Jen and I remembered how to play spit, and we had more than a few card games. Right at the end we came up with a fun vocabulary game, going back and forth trying to define challenging words – very fun.

What will I carry over? A few things.

1. I moved my phone from my nightstand to the bureau for nighttime charging. This was a good move.
2. I like game nights. Hopefully Jen and I will do more of these.
3. The vocabulary game was awesome. This will be repeated
4. In general, I’m going to try and keep going with resisting internet except for productive ventures. We’ll see how well this goes. Keep your fingers crossed.

More recaps to come, but suffice to say this was a unique month.

Dataless Day 27

Whew. One more day. March 1st will likely have me fully immersed in the florescent glow of devices. I hope to post updates to the events previewed here over the next week or two. Thanks for sticking it out with me through these automated posts.

Dataless Day 23

This is yet another automatic post for the month of February as Jen and I try and achieve a full month without electronics abuse. This weekend’s fun events included a bald eagle watch with the local Audubon group. It’s a 5 hours watch with a number of different stops concluding with a tasty lunch in Essex.

The Connecticut river is known for its bald eagle roosts. I’m eager to check it out. I’ve only seen bald eagles on a few random occasions here in CT. Once flying over the highway, and another time at a great distance from the shores of Madison, CT.

Also scheduled for this week? A Houston business trip. This will be especially challenging to survive without any electronics. Business trips with my company are often huge pendulums swinging between EXTREMELY ACTIVE INSANE and jaw numbingly boring. It’s those boring minutes where I will struggle.

I’ll be bringing some books with me from the library. Hopefully those will keep me occupied when things aren’t crazy at the job-site.

The Cheese Files Vol IX

Fontina. Simple straightforward Fontina.

Traditionally Italian, Fontina is an earthy flavored cow’s milk cheese that originates in the alps. Officially, Fontina can only be Fontina if it’s made in the Aosta Valley. The Aosta valley is in the north-westernmost corner of Italy north of Turin and abutted to Switzerland and France. The cheese’s texture is a bit more spongy than some of our more recent trials (my amateur tooth would put it in the same texture universe as an un-aged gouda). The mildly pungent woody taste is enjoyable but for me not overly rewarding.

Note to the pregnant: This cheese is unpasteurized.
Note to Kurt: Don’t overanalyze that last sentence.

Taste: 2.5/4
Price: $
Independence: Medium

Dataless Day 16

A few years back I had a great idea. You know those Escape room games online? Imagine that in real life! It’d be a big hit as a team building exercise. Well son of a gun, somebody did it. And wouldn’t you know there’s one in Connecticut. On the 15th we were scheduled to check out an Adventure room in West Hartford (www.myadventureroom.com).

The premise is simple, you and some friends are locked in a room and you have 60 minutes to figure out how to escape. You’ll have to wait until we return from our February without internet before getting a review, but of the events we planned this might be the one that I’m most excited about for February.

The website says that only about 30% succeed in escaping the room. We’d planned the event with Kelly and Jay, so we’ll see if the four of us have the wits to succeed. I’m very curious to see how the company executes the locked room scenario. Will there be a bathroom? Camera or in-room supervision? Do the puzzles rotate so you can try different rooms?

I’m so intrigued. You’ll have to come back in March for the full review.

The Cheese Files Vol VIII

GJetost (pronounced: YEH-Toast) is a Norwegian cheese that we purchased from our local favorite cheese show Fromage. It’s a mix of goat’s, cow’s milk, cream, and whey and it looks like a toy.

GJetost Packaging
What a cute package!

Caramel in color and with a firmness close to cheddar, GJetost has been described across the interwebs as fudgey. The packaging recommends serving in wafer thin slices alone, with fruit, bread, or… butter. Yes, butter.

Taking it out, it’s carameliness is even more pronounced. It holds the shape of its package just like a caramel. We cut off a thin slice and gave it a shot.

GJetost

Bizarrely delicious.

Describing it as fudge-like is extremely appropriate. It is sweet and dessertesque. We tried it on thin toast: totally amazing! What a fun unique cheese!

Taste: 3/4
Price: $$ (24/lb)
Independence: Extremely high. This one would be good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.

Try this one for the unique experience.

Dataless Day 9

In preparation for this month of no data, I did more than just schedule a bunch of MikeDiDonato.com posts. Jen and I scoured through event listings to try and find weekend and evening activities. In this month of excitement, this weekend was mostly tame. Friday we were scheduled to try our Cafe Routier in Westbrook after highly positive reviews from our neighbors. And if all went according to plan, we hosted a game night on Saturday night with Sander and Brian. Missions Risk was on the Menu.

Some basement organizers were also due to arrive this past week. So hopefully our basement is looking pretty orderly. I went with a ULINE shelving bin system.

The other casual goal that I had for this month was to use the weekend time to prep meals for the rest of the week. In January we were deeply successful with advance prep of ravioli, dumplings, and casseroles. I presume with less screen time there will be much more weekend prep.