Friday, November 20, 2009

Tidbits: Abaloney and Krab

I was wondering: If fake crab is called "krab," is fake abalone called "abaloney?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Books I'm Reading: Andrew Carnegie

I'm just finishing a colossal (800-page) biography of Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw (Penguin, 2006). While it would be hard not to know the name Andrew Carnegie, or to consider oneself educated without knowing something about the man--about his great wealth and his philanthropy, particularly his creation of libraries across the United States and in many other countries (when I drove across the country this past summer, one of the things that impressed me was the startling number of Carnegie libraries I happened to see along the way)--I must admit there was a great deal about him I didn't know. I didn't fully understand Carnegie's connection with the Homestead riot, I hadn't been aware of his close association with Frick, whose name I knew mostly in association with the great art museum in New York that houses possibly my favorite portrait of all time (Holbein's 1527 painting of Sir Thomas More), and I hadn't been aware of Carnegie's extraordinary access to a string of American presidents (Harrison, Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson), not to mention an important group of politicians in England.

Likewise, I hadn't know about his efforts to establish such things as international arbitration treaties (with the aim of abolishing war as a means of settling disputes among nations), a precursor to the League of Nations, a world court, and an international police--although his efforts bore little fruit in his lifetime, and, as an older man, his meddling in politics and foreign affairs appear to have annoyed many of the people he was trying to influence. Carnegie seems to have been ahead of his time in these peace-related matters. He failed spectacularly--his efforts were followed immediately by WWI and then by WWII--but they were noble ideas, nevertheless.

Long, but very well written and edited. It never drags. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Miscellaneous: Beautiful Clear Day After Rain

It's a beautiful clear day today--the air cleansed by rain last night. We got 0.3 inches, bringing the total for the 2009-2010 season to 4.25 inches so far. That's only very slightly below normal, and very good relative to the past few years.

[Update: Another 0.60 inches of rain today, Friday the 20th. Total for the season at our location is now 4.85 inches.]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tidbits: Car Insurance Explained

I think I've got it now: I move to Progressive, next switch to Geico, then go to Allstate--and my car insurance is free, right?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wines I'm Drinking: Gevrey Chambertin

I had an opportunity yesterday to buy some of the 2006 premier cru Gevrey Chambertin wines from Rene Leclerc at a reasonable price ($35-$39 a bottle; I've seen them for more than $80 each). Haven't tasted these for years, but I have fond memories of Clos St. Jacques--both driving by the vineyard in France (a rather modest-looking patch beside the highway) and drinking the wine. I've always found the Clos St. Jacques a relatively inexpensive over-achiever. Also got some of the Les Champeaux, and the Combe aux Moines. Looking forward to these in a few years.
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