Wednesday, July 18, 2012

John Lautner Tour: Schwimmer House, 1982

Note: Nearly a year ago, there was a big to-do for John Lautner's 100th Birthday (and deservedly so, I must say). I toured 4 of his houses in L.A. and intended to blog about them all, but only 2 posts got finished.  The third post was started but never completed; now I have finished it.

I didn't want to completely re-write the beginning, so I am just appending this note at the top.

To see all my posts on Lautner, click here.

Thank you, Jenn.

The final round of layoffs at Keating Khang had happened in January or February of 2009, and I was casting about, trying to figure out what to do next. My work had been very demanding, including a lot of travel, and suddenly it was like coming up for air and having all of this free time. So I started looking around online to see what other Objectivists were doing and what kind of community might be out there.  I had joined facebook in 2008, but hadn't significantly expanded my online social circles much beyond my real-life friends.

I think the first O'ist bloggers I became aware of were Diana and TreyI would see this weekly Objectivist blog roundup mentioned on their blogs, and I gradually started getting to know of all these other bloggers, and sort of one-way getting to know them personally, as happens when you start following other peoples' blogs. And there were a lot of them, a whole online community of them just like I hoped there might be. I wanted to join in on all this cool interesting stuff that was going on, so I launched CofP in early 2010. 

Rational Jenn was always, and continues to be, one of my favorite blogs. I that's because she has such a great way of telling a story, plus those Casey kids are just so freakin cute! I think also because she reminds me in many ways of my sister, Emily. But now that I know Jenn in real life, I admire her even more than I did when she was just a famous internet personality who lived clear across the country. 

So, thank you, Jenn.  Thank you for running the Round Up all this time, creating this regular way for lots of interesting people to get together and share their ideas and thoughts. Thank you for introducing me to so many awesome people, both online and IRL. (You can keep doing that, btw.)

Thank you for inspiring me in so many ways.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Death of a Crock Pot

It feels like the end of an era.

My trusty old Crock Pot has finally bit the dust.  I don't know exactly what happened, but this morning while putting it away I noticed a hairline crack extending clear across the bottom of the heavy ceramic bowl and up the side.  The crack may have been there for some time, and might even be perfectly harmless, but I'm not particularly inclined to continue using it in its present state.  

It had been on a bit of a slow decline for a while now.  A couple of years ago I made the mistake of putting the lid in the dishwasher, causing the knob to warp. Then the screw that held the (still somewhat functional) warped knob in place, removed for cleaning, went into the garbage disposal, thus dispensing with any further use of the knob. This was provided an unexpected improvement in the form of a steam vent, via the now permanently exposed hole in the lid. I used it this way for a while, until I dropped and shattered the glass lid, sometime earlier this year.  

After that I was using a salad-sized plate for a lid, but now, finally, it's time for a whole new unit.

The Crock Pot was a gift from my mom in the early 2000's. I used it only occasionally before going paleo. After that transition, it became an indispensable part of my kitchen arsenal, and throughout 2011 it got its heaviest workout ever.  At the beginning of that year, I used it to make lots of tendon stew and bone broths while I was recovering from surgery on a tendon in my left hand. Later that fall, it ran nearly constantly, stewing up pig feet, which were the only thing I could get my dear old hound Todd to eat in his final stages of terminal cancer. I nearly threw it out after that, but in time the unpleasant associations with that episode faded to where I could make use of it once again, without being upset by it.

And so now, having properly eulogized my cherished slow cooker, it goes off to the rubbish bin, to be returned to the earth whence its raw materials originated. I will toss it into the black bin with a salute of "Thank Capitalism" in my heart.

I've decided to upgrade with my next slow cooker purchase. The old one was a basic round 4-quart model; I think I will replace it with a 6-quart oval one. I was a bit surprised by all the choices available on Amazon, and after a bit of looking it has come down to a choice between these:
Rival Crock Pot, 6-qt. with locking lid, $37.99 on

Hamilton Beach, 6-qt. with locking lid, programmable timer,
and temperature probe, $49.99 on

Cuisinart, 6.5-qt. fancy rectangular slow cooker, $99.95 on

I suspect I'll end up with the Hamilton Beach, even though it seems like a betrayal to not stick with the Rival Crock Pot brand. I like that it's programmable, with start time and stop time; it has a warming mode to keep your dinner hot without overcooking it; and I really like the temperature probe for roasts and such.  All that for fifty bucks seems like a pretty good deal, and Rival doesn't have one with the temperature probe at all, that I can find. The Cuisinart looks great (a very important consideration in my household), but has almost half as many 1-star reviews on Amazon as it has 5-star reviews, and that's a terrible ratio.

Thankfully, I had just finished a big batch of carnitas when the crack was discovered. I should be up and running with the new 'Pot by next week. As sad as I am to see the old Crock Pot go, I recently discovered nirvana in the form of braised lamb shanks (at the Elephant Bar in Burbank), and can't wait to get my hands on my new, bigger, programmable, temperature-probing slow cooker and give them a try at home!

Thus, the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one.