Free-for-all #1

Among the things I admire (read: am shamelessly stealing) from Making Light is the custom of throwing out open threads–no subject, just a place to talk about whatever is on your mind. This is the first one. If we like how it works, there will be more.

Go nuts.

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Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

0 thoughts on “Free-for-all #1”

  1. One of the things that makes Making Light such a congenial community for Open Threads like they have is the established culture and character of the blog. I’ve no doubt this site will obtain its own qualities in those directions, but right now I think it’s still too young for me to feel like I know what I would add to a Words3 Open Thread…aside from, obviously, this statement of uncertainty.

    How’s that for Meta?

  2. No topic that’s not lame or reveals exactly how paranoid I am (all that came to mind was Mike McConnell’s recent anti-privacy statements).

    However, I couldn’t not comment now that SKZB is not on LJ. Love the site. Congrats.

  3. Thanks. :-) I’m thinking Skwid is right and I should kill this topic for a week or a month or six. It’s just that I have this new toy, y’know? I want to play with it.

  4. Okay, I’ve always wanted to ask this. How, exactly, do you open a bottle of wine with a feather, tongs, and a glove?

  5. A comment in the Ron Paul thread mentioned news about the Firefly novel. I have seen no news, and cannot find it. Is there news? What is it, if so?

  6. Invid #5: It’s a play off port tongs, used in the here-and-now to open very old bottles of port. You put the tongs in hot coals then circumscribe the neck of the bottle. Then you dip the feather in ice water and trace the heated line of glass with said feather. The bottle cracks neatly and you lift off the neck.

  7. nolly #6: My agent is trying to confirm what we all know: that there is no chance of actual publication (because Mr. Whedon has decided not to have novels). If we don’t hear anything soon (meaning within a few weeks) I’m going to publish it as fanfic, linked to my web site.

    Thanks for asking.

  8. Good to see you finally moving into your own web space.

    Live journal was the devil.

    Considered one of those little boxes on comments you have to match the letters on? My wife has a personal web log and she gets tons of spam on hers, it mostly stopped with the addition of one of those boxes.

    May save you work down the line. Though… not really sure how one does that.

  9. Ok, Steve, Firefly novel?!?! Most Excellent!
    You are my new favorite person! Now living with two more of my favorite people….hrmmm.

    I can get my porn and my sci-fi/fantasy all in one house! Most excellent!

  10. Hey, now, hobbits…let’s not be hasty. I never said you should kill the poor thread, just that I had nothing that wasn’t Meta to contribute.

    Meta can be fun!

  11. Have you read the books by Paul Park “A Princess in Roumania” and “The Tourmaline?” He mentions Tokay, as well as tongs.

    Oh yeah, you should write a book starring a coachman, you know, in your free time.

  12. Writing, dear sir. I am a good girl, after all, and I do know the wonderful things Kit and Reesa have been writing. Wonderful yummy things…

    er…yes…right….good girl.

  13. I am going to see Cloverfield tomorrow.

    Mike Huckabee want a theocracy.
    Mitt Romney wants to be dictator in chief
    John McCain wants endless war
    Rudy Gulliani just wants some

  14. Cheers on the breaking free of the living journal and the very fine new site. I’ll raise my glass of klava to you on the morn! (and yes, I make klava)

  15. Steve @ 7: Damn neat trick, thanks for sharing.

    GWW @ 9: Our basic philosophy on this is to use as little as possible to deal with spam. Since we currently have no spam comments at all, all we are using is the built-in WordPress Akismet plugin which is supposed to filter spammy looking comments. Thus far it hasn’t had to try. We’ll consider more drastic methods if we have too.

    A CAPTCHA (the little code) probably won’t be one of them though. I find them irritating and that’s even setting aside their accessibility to the seeing-impaired.

  16. Shan @ 14: Good girl, huh? I am not so sure about that. I’ll have to make a thorough inspection of you before I can render a judgment. I have my clipboard ready and everything…

    zizban @ 15: Do let us know how Cloverfield is. And we welcome freeform political verse here, thanks!

    rone @ 21: The only time I’ve ever enjoyed tequila was in a potent concoction I encountered at a festival many years back called Funky Monkey Juice. My memories of that night are hazy however…

    Re: the OP. What’s on my mind is how happy I am to have so many visitors to our new blog! I’m thrilled how well this is turning out.

  17. Steve #16 – Ok, well, then I’m a polite wench, but it’s still nice to have such wonderful eggs in one basket, writing-wise I mean. Both Kit and Reesa have done amazing things since they have joined up with you. Their own incredible talent has blossomed so much!

    Kit #23 – I shall present myself for full inspection at the most earliest possible time, Dr. However, gotta get some vacation time first. :p

  18. Shanlea@24 : Hey, we did amazing things *before* he came along, too.

    Now it’s more like people can navigate at night by the sheer force of our shining awesomeness beacon.

    Besides, I’ve heard about that writer’s group YOU’RE in…

  19. @Skwid(20): I stick to lightly toasted french oak chips, white eggshells, whole vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and medium-roast Italian coffee. I take mine with honey, cream, and sometimes a bit of Grand Marnier.

    We really need to start a klava enthusiasts forum somewheres.

    @kit(22): Agreed about captchas. I’ve been a web dev for a long time, and capchas only root out the most trivial, simple, unenthusiastic spammers; and it’s true, it’s not terribly kind to the blind or those browsing image-free. We appreciate the light-handed approach.

  20. ojikun: The theory behind klava is that it removes the bitterness from the coffee. Does it work? If so, I may have to invest in a French press and try it myself. :-)

  21. Go nuts? It’s a bit late for that, alas. But the open thread idea is a good one that often works on ML.

    Is there a certain kind of feather that works best? Does this procedure affect they way they bottle wine in the Empire? (I’m not a big wine drinker, but have 4 different corkscrews).

  22. I imagine any sufficiently fine feather would do. There is no cork on Dragaera, so wine is sealed by melting the bottle shut, hence the need to remove the neck. Cheaper wines use wax plugs.

  23. OMG, there’s a writer’s group here? And I’m late for all the porn… fortunately, I brought some of my own. *bright smile*

  24. @skzb(28): I’m still trying to determine if the eggshells have any truly noticable effect. In theory (warn: geek alert), all that calcium carbonate should react with much of the caffeic acid in the coffee and form caffeic salts, thereby reducing the bright, bitey notes in the coffee. Odd sidenote: caffeic salts are known to be of some medical use, curing snakebites, for instance. Recent papers also list them as additives for reducing bitterness in foods, along with cinnamic acids. (notetoself: should try cinnamon in first brew stage?)

    Though my single-blind taste tests about the effects of eggshells have yielded mixed results, the wood chips are genius. Either alone or combined with vanilla, they impart a flavour that any scotch, bourbon, or rum addict will know and love. They key is to toast them, caramelizing just the slightest bit.

    Being uncertain as to the equivalencies for fegra and crocra, I’m stuck with my old “klava is to coffee as chai masala is to tea” analogy and default to just grabbing whatever spices I have in the cabinet. Nutmeg is a must, cinnamon works, and star anise is, well, interesting. Stay away from cardamom and clove.

    Grab the french press for the production of neck-tinglingly good cups of coffee; for the klava, stick to cheesecloth. Trust me – splinters are best dealt with after the application of liquid consciousness.

  25. Reesa@26 – Methinks I wrote that backwards! But that’s ok….I was trying to credit your blossoming writing, and the fun stuff you have been doing with Steve. It’s what I get for trying to write sleep deprived.

    I love my Voluptuaries very very much! Yes, Ma’am, I do!

    Kit@33 – Agreed!

  26. A simpler way to remove bitterness from coffee is to add a very small dash of salt to it before brewing. It doesn’t make it salty, it makes it smooth. It’s an old military trick for long night shifts, you can make a pot that would be so strong that it would be almost undrinkable without the salt.

  27. Thanks much, ojiikun. I’ll try that. If you’re using cheesecloth instead of a French press (good idea!) then rather than passing the coffee past the eggshells, let the eggshells sit in the coffee for a bit before being strained.

  28. In culinary school, one of my instructors said that if you take eggshells and sliced truffle and put them into your coffee brew that it will remove bitterness. But blasphemer that I am I only drink tea so I never tried it.

  29. You know, ojikun, skzb, if you want to make it a more commercial process (but why would you?), you could invest in a Chemex coffeemaker — gravity-drip and designed by a lazy chemist in CT. It could be retrofitted with cheesecloth instead of a paper filter, and you could make regular coffee in the same vessel, so no need for a separate french press!

  30. Mudd–doesn’t truffle go for around $500-1000 a pound, depending on type? While I might purchase some for the occasional party, keeping it on hand for coffee seems a bit much.

  31. re: General Klava Appreciation: I had wondered whether anyone actually brewed this!

    ojiikun, do you mind if one of the uninitiated picks your brains about your basic procedure for making klava?

  32. My wife makes ice coffee base by soaking a pound of coffee in a couple quarts of water overnight. There is no heat and so very few bitter oils extracted. I have tried it with cream and honey and it was delicious. I never tried spicing it, but that’s a thought.

  33. bigmike: I’ve used the cold-pressed coffee recipe from the New York Times several times with much success. It makes coffee that is almost completely lacking in bitterness, with a smooth and sort of chocolatey flavor. It’s the closest thing I know to Epoch of Austin, Tx’s beloved ‘Iced Mojo’.

  34. I tried a dozen grains of kosher salt in with the grounds before brewing, and I could taste the salt, but that may have been my imagination, or else having used kosher salt instead of regular salt.

  35. Bawrence #42 Yup it is some expensive stuff. But we trained to make soft boiled eggs in the shell with a dab of caviar and some truffle oil. Menu price $125.00 an egg for appetizer! So I am guessing a few razor thin slivers didn’t mean that much in the overall scheme of things.

  36. @Bawrence(37): Reducing bitterness isn’t really a goal of mine – the coffee I brew isn’t really bitter, per se. Let’s just say that if you can afford good french oak, whole vanilla, &c – your’re probably spending enough on the beans that bitterness shouldn’t be a problem. Even the best roasts are occasionally acidic, though, hence the whole eggshell discusson.

    @skzb(38): Tried the eggshells in the cheesecloth on my first two pots and noticed a profound problem – they were doing utterly nothing. :( The hot coffee just slid right over them like rain on the hood of a freshly waxed Caddy. Most recently I tossed them in for the last 30s of boil and I noticed that they had a slightly pitted appearance afterwards meaning that, well, *something* happened . . .

    @Drysil(41): Another option would be a Clover coffee machine. They’re about $11,000 each, but they give you an open brew chamber and very fine control over temperature and time with very good filtration. My local café has one, and I’ve found myself going 30 minutes out of my way to go there in the morning.

    @Bawrence(42): I keep truffle on hand for making my favourite risotto recipe and they’re expensive, but thinking of it in terms of pounds is a bit misleading. I usually get a piece that’s about the size of a large marble for about $30 and it will last me thru the preparation of 30-40 servings of a dish that is overwhelmingly truffle-ey.

    @Jess(43): Pick forth! I’ve only brewed it three times now, but hopefully my experiments will continue soon. I could probably write a good three or four pages with all the notes and research I’ve done, even at this point.

    @Kit(45): Cold-brew coffee is mighty handy for when you go camping and can’t start a fire. :) And it’s true, it’s far less acidic. The only problem is that it also has less caffiene, and that smells like the cardinal sin: decaf!

  37. Ok, I’m surrounded by intellectual, fun, geeks, who make very interesing sounding coffees!


  38. Not really off topic… because there isn’t one… but it’s not about coffee.

    When I was 14 I saw a performance of Man of La Mancha at a small theater local to me. I enjoyed it as much as I could at 14. And bits and pieces of songs have always knocked about in my head from that performance ever since.

    Last night I saw Peter O’Toole in the movie from ’72, and I don’t think I’ve been as emotionally moved by a film in a long time.

    It really breathed life back into something that I hadn’t really seen or read since 14.

    Any of you have similar experiences? As in, seeing/reading/watching something as a youth. Enjoying it. But later in life coming back across it and finally getting to fully enjoy it on a level you weren’t capable of as a child?

    If you’ve never seen either the film or a stage performance, and you ever get the chance. I would take the opportunity.

  39. GWW, I do it every time I re-read Tolkein. Every single time, something new comes out that I have missed because I was either too hurried, fell asleep (sometimes reading does that to me), or it just chose that moment to jump out at me.

    Also, when I rented White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye over the holidays, I saw parts I didn’t remember being there, and was thoroughly pleased. Same with Miracle on 34th Street (black and white version of course.)

    I haven’t seen anything on stage since I was a kid, and that was a high school version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and I was in 5th grade, holding hands with my first boyfriend. I’ve always wanted to go to plays and musicals, but I usually work when they are going on, or have a hard time finding a sitter. I shall fix this. Even if it’s the local high school.

  40. I have to comment that the pool table quote at top left is charming and is obviously the work of an utterly delightful man.


    Erik Baker’s mother

  41. I have to comment that the pool table quote at top right is charming and is obviously the work of an utterly delightful man.


    Erik Baker’s mother

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