Chad Comello

libraries, culture, typewriters

Category: Etc. (page 1 of 6)

Like lightning

“Come on, Doc, it’s not science! When it happens, it just hits you. It’s like lightning.” – Marty McFly, Back to the Future Part III

A couple nights before my buddy’s wedding, I was at his house with a bunch of other guys for a time of toasting, roasting, and advice-giving. One thing I shared was how immediately evident it was to me that the couple was The Real Deal, and how a similar certainty hit me like a bolt of lightning when I first met my future wife.

Later on, the wedding reception was held at Ace Eat Serve, a ping pong hall in a converted auto garage serving pan-Asian cuisine. (Loved the amazing food and the novelty of playing ping pong at a wedding.) The ping pong tables outside were made of concrete and had metal nets with Ace’s lightning logo cut through them, which in the sunlight looked like this:

It’s almost as if I was at the temporal junction point for the entire space-time continuum. On the other hand, it could just be an amazing coincidence.

Comello’s Kitchen

Here are four things I recommend to make your time in the kitchen better.

Onion goggles. My wife and I laughed at these when we saw them in a store, because they are laughable. It took a few passes before we gave them a try, and now I’m mad at myself for all that pointless, ugly onion crying I endured before now.

Gordon Ramsay’s onion cutting technique. After yet again botching what should be a routine process, I hit up YouTube for a more efficient way to cut onions. This one was a minor epiphany. Unless you need slices, this is the way to go.

Manual food chopper. I love being able to mince several garlic cloves in a few seconds. It’s a few more pieces to clean but totally worth it.

Immersion hand blender. I make breakfast smoothies regularly, but using a traditional blender was a nightmare. The ingredients would whip up to the sides of the glass and not blend, and it was a pain in the ass to clean. Got one of these on a recommendation and it changed everything. Easy to blend and clean, and it’s the perfect serving size. (And get you some reusable metal straws, people.)

Bookception

I’m in the middle of David McCullough’s Truman, a 1,000-page biography (not including the end-matter). Given its girth I figured I’d have to take a break at some point. Sure enough, page 500 rolls around and I get a notification that Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is finally ready for me at the library. So I start that one and immediately love it.

Then I remember I have two forthcoming books I need to review for Booklist with fast-approaching deadlines. So now I’m in a book while reading another book, which itself is a break from another book.

In other words: Bookception.

BWAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMM

Know Wonder

I’m sad I missed the TEDx event this year at my alma mater, especially because of its great theme and logo:

tedxncc-knowwonder-concpet-final.jpg

My case featured on Judge John Hodgman!

A few months ago I submitted this case to Judge John Hodgman, one of my favorite podcasts:

I seek an injunction against my wife, Jenny. When I am cooking any kind of meat, I use a plastic spatula throughout the cooking process. Jenny insists on rinsing the spatula after the meat is no longer raw, but before it’s fully cooked. She says this avoids mixing any residual raw meat on the spatula with the cooked meat. I think this is excessive and unnecessary, and it degrades my autonomy as the cook. I have been cooking for years without the “mid-wash” without a problem. I ask the Judge order Jenny to cease and desist this behavior and let me cook in peace.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Only one man can decide, and he did!

We were driving from Colorado Springs to Denver and listening to last week’s docket-clearing episode, “Into the Teal”, when I heard Bailiff Jesse Thorn say my name, then my wife’s name, then the case I submitted.

I couldn’t believe it. They’d released many episodes since I submitted my case, so I assumed it was already passed over. Instead, to our shock and delight, we were listening to it for the first time together, breathlessly awaiting how the Judge would adjudicate our petty dispute.

Listen to the episode to judge for yourself and learn who won. Our case starts at 20:48.

For the record:

  • I do regret the line about autonomy, as I know well the Judge’s bias against dudes trying to impose their own system for things on others. Yet in this case it was my wife trying to impose a system on me.
  • I don’t regret “mid-wash”.
  • I should have clarified that I was cooking meat in a stainless steel pan.

Life as a CTA rail operator

“In that motorcab was my serenity.” Another great Chicago story from WBEZ’s Curious City: what it’s like to operate the L trains.

Ain’t no road just like Lake Shore Drive

And there ain’t no road just like it
Anywhere I found
Running south on Lake Shore Drive heading into town
Just slippin’ on by on LSD, Friday night trouble bound

“Lake Shore Drive” by Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah

I’ve had occasion to drive into or through downtown Chicago several times recently, which is unusual. A few times it was for medical reasons, another for a conference in the Loop, and last Friday for a morning seminar at the University of Chicago.

Each time I do it I’m reminded of how beautiful Lake Shore Drive is.

If you’ve never been to Chicago: the city sits right next to Lake Michigan, and Lake Shore Drive runs north-south along the lakeshore. Except some museums, Navy Pier, Soldier Field, and one swanky skyscraper, it’s mostly beachfront and parks the whole way, so whichever direction you drive it (or bike or run it) will give you an amazing view of Chicago’s famous downtown architecture and the expansive lake at the same time.

On Friday I drove almost the whole stretch of the LSD, from the far north side to the far south side and back. Heading southbound, I think the scenic part of downtown begins at the Oak Street bend where the Drake Hotel sits. (Which to me always calls to mind the crucial Bible from the Drake Hotel in Mission: Impossible:  “They stamped it, didn’t they? Those damn Gideons.”)

And northbound from the University of Chicago it’s scenic pretty much the whole way. You can watch the skyscrapers get bigger and bigger until you’re almost among them.

I don’t know how many other cities have anything comparable to Lake Shore Drive, so I’m happy to have it.

The point of coffee is to suffer

I can’t stop laughing at this comic:

I started drinking coffee after college, and when I did I went straight to black, sometimes with sugar. It took me that long because my taste buds weren’t ready for the bitterness of black coffee. And yet when I did try to start drinking it regularly, it never occurred to me to use sweeteners, beyond a little sugar. I figured if I was going to drink coffee, I should like the taste of the coffee itself and not try to mask it with cream. Admittedly this logic is faulty, but it’s why this comic struck a nerve.

My wife, who’s part Swedish and embraces all things hygge, cherishes the coziness of the whole coffee drinking experience, special cream included. But I, embracer of my Finnish heritage and its concept of sisu, enjoy the pure, raw burn of good black coffee.

How to have better conversations

Via Kottke, here are radio interviewer Celeste Headlee’s 10 tips for better conversations:

  1. Don’t multitask.
  2. Don’t pontificate.
  3. Use open-ended questions.
  4. Go with the flow.
  5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
  6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself.
  8. Stay out of the weeds.
  9. Listen.
  10. Be brief.

I’m better at some of these than others. I think about #6 a lot because it’s so easy to do, and I think about #5 a lot because, for me at least, it’s so hard to do.

Additionally, WSJ’s “Save Yourself From Tedious Small Talk” offers some conversation-openers that spark pleasure and deeper thinking beyond today’s weather and the traffic you hit on your way here:

  • Have you been working on anything exciting recently?
  • What was the highlight of your day?
  • Any exciting plans this summer?
  • What do you do to relax?
  • What’s keeping you awake at night?

Quotes of the moment

A few years ago I started logging the interesting or inspiring quotes I come upon in my reading and watching. I thought it would be fun to post the ones I captured in 2017, which taken together tell part of the ongoing story going on in my head and heart. What story do they tell, I wonder:


“Learning weighs nothing. Lessons you can carry with you.” – Rachel Seiffert, A Boy in Winter

“Read more than you write, live more than you read.” – Junot Diaz

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” – Mary Oliver

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” – attributed to Dwight Eisenhower

“All wisdom ends in paradox.” – Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides

“The blessing is outside of your comfort zone.” – Running store guy, via Ashley Hicks

“Knowing that we have to die, we ought to live to be prepared to die well, and then, let death come when it may.” – Andrew Jackson

“It is preferable to take people as they are, rather than as they really are.” – Lord Chesterfield

“To look for something beautiful is its own reward. A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” – The Lost City of Z

“Go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down, but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies; frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks; follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle, reinvent. Build a tangled bank.” – Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From

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