On not being normal at dinner

Photo Credit  Used under a CC license
Photo Credit Used under a CC license

“It is very painful, I think, to be told: ‘You enchanted the world for me, you made me feel things I never knew I could, now please be normal at dinner.’ We are always saying this to people in one way or another, of course; maybe we have to.”

– Brian Phillips, “Run to the Devil: The Ghosts and Grace of Nina Simone

I’m calling bullshit on this. There is no “have to”.  You don’t have to. You just think you have to.  Please stop.

4 Reasons I Still Use Paper Cookbooks

Photo Credit Used under a C.C. licsence
This is not actually my kitchen– sometimes mine is much worse. Photo Credit Used under a CC license

Even though I’ve mainly converted to ebooks, I still use paper cookbooks.

Since I am known as a lover of ebooks and all things tech, why?

1. I am perhaps the world’s messiest cook (think of the Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show, except much much worse). Consequently tablets and smartphones and laptops come to a sticky end in my kitchen. At the very least they are pelted with flying pieces of diced carrot.

2. Even when I’m being really careful of my electronics, it’s still a problem because then a bunch of my mental energy is consumed with “don’t wreck the tablet” rather than paying attention to what I am cooking . . . which leads to carbonized pine nuts and other problems.

3. I like adding my notations into the cookbooks, and the e-reading software I use isn’t great for adding notes, let alone drawings of my preferred pattern for arranging berries on top of flans.

4. I’ve found that the few cookbooks I’ve bought on ebooks tend to get neglected . . . this is tragic because at least two of them are excellent (especially the brilliant Ratio by Micheal Ruhlman. This book is great.). I may have to buy a paper copy of that.

Handwringing about ‘the Death of Reading’?

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Photo Credit  Used under a CC licence

Let me preface what I am about to say with this self-statement: I’m not a hand-wringer or a pearl-clutcher.

But when it comes to reading, it seems like my entire life people have been talking about how the literacy of young people is on the decline. I have moments when I think it might actually be true: maybe young people are a bunch of non-reading ninnies who can barely spell.

Then I come to my senses and remember that complaining about young people is a favourite pastime for middle-aged folks everywhere and everytime. I think there are probably thousand-year-old manuscripts in which monks bitch about how kids today aren’t as literate as they once were, and their illumination skills are terrible.

So when an email popped up in my inbox with the following text, I rolled my eyes. Rolled ’em way, waaay back:

The person wrote:

Recently I was introduced to the abbreviation DRTL, and I realized that this new language represents not just a kind of shorthand, but also a new philosophy of written language.  This particular construct, DRTL, seems to me to symbolize the new philosophy:

                     DRTL = Didn’t Read, Too Long

So here’s what had my eyeballs spinning in their sockets . . . people have been skipping some or all of the reading available to them since there have been people who could read. Let’s face it, many of us humans are lazy and easily bored. If there is a way to cut corners, we will find it.

So from my point of view, DRTL doesn’t reflect a change in reading habits, it reflects an uptick in honesty. Surely that’s a good thing?