Night Music: Day By Day

November 30, 2021

What Better City?

November 30, 2021


I just received a mailing from Ken Sim for Mayor: A Better City. I suspect this went to every household as his well-heeled 1% backers can afford to spread their money around.

It is a full page letter in both English and Chinese, and in that full page there is not one word — not even a passing reference — to any policy statement. Nothing about housing and homelessness, nothing about development, nothing about the opioid crisis, nothing about transportation or economic development or public safety, nothing about schools or parks or indeed anything else.

Why would anyone want to donate to a candidate for Mayor who is only interested in talking about himself?

Our city is far too valuable to be put in the hands of someone who just wants to play personality politics.

Poem: Five Definitive Movements

November 29, 2021


Childhood is

a flat green blade growing from the stem of a plant,

the absorbing and digesting of

a body of myths


Adolescence is

the property of becoming self-luminous

in the recognition of

fire and hunger and strong desire


Adulthood is

the acceptance of the heat and light caused by burning;

a steady flow that rises

as the tide, and ebbs


Wisdom is

known only to those of special comprehension,

something very white,

a leaf blown across the firmament


Death is

the beginning of all things, the nape

that links the body of one life to

the head of the next


Night Music: Bolero Flashmob

November 28, 2021

Image: Sky Diving

November 27, 2021

Night Music: Mount The Air

November 26, 2021

Christmas In Grandview Park

November 26, 2021

Fidel Castro. A Hero For Our Times

November 26, 2021


Fidel Castro has been dead for 5 years today, and the world is so much emptier for that fact.

I didn’t support Castro’s politics (though much of it tended to be better than most — look at Cuba’s health care system, for example, a success against every barrier the US could throw against it), but I supported the bravery of standing up for fifty years to an imperialist Superpower that had missiles and a huge army less than a 100 miles away.

More than the military threat, the US for two whole generations attempted to destroy the Cuban economy and people by sheer economic terrorism. Luckily, the world would not stand for that, and even Canada never flinched from business and tourism with Cuba.

Whenever self-righteous Americans point to the wreckage of Cuba’s economy and the poverty of the people (compared, say, to most parts of the US), remind them that this was caused directly and deliberately by American leaders.

Image: Library Exterior #6

November 25, 2021

Flash Fiction: Damn Stupid Idea

November 25, 2021


“Damn stupid idea, if you ask me, naming a basketball team after the damn grizzly bear! Jesus!”

He pushed the empty bottle of Glacier beer across the bar and wiped the back of his hand across his moustaches.

“It’s no surprise the kids are going crazy and shooting up schools like Columbine. They see themselves surrounded by adults making stupid decisions – Give me another beer, eh – and they’re not dumb these kids; they know we’re setting them up, most of them anyways, setting them up to be the packhorses of modern industry. Drudges. Laborers and data entry clerks and burger flippers and retail sales associates. Jesus, I don’t envy them. Thanks.”

He paused just long enough to lift up the bottle by the neck and carefully pour almost half the contents through practiced lips. “Ahh, that settles the dust, sure it does.”

Thin strands of late summer sunlight cut like razor blades through the bar’s perpetual gloom. Cigarette smoke from an ashtray at the far end of the bar curled serpentine trails towards an invisible ceiling. The barman, a drudge himself, lazily wiped down the bar with a wet rag. He wished he were anywhere else.

“I came in on the float plane from up the coast. Good connection that. Should have had that years ago, I’d have been here more often. Damn! We saw a great storm just after we took off. Flying up there, we could see the lightning in the sky and its reflection in the sea at the same time. Damn that was neat!”

He chuckled with the memory, chugged the rest of the beer, returned the bottle to the bar. To his right stood a massive fireplace and he walked over to it, to examine the huge basalt slabs that formed it, smooth and cold to his touch. And in his memory he heard the owls rustling in the trees and the dry wood crackling and hissing and the shadows playing in the firelight on the cabin floor the last time they had shared a full moon weekend. She had wanted to stay an extra night and he had told her it was a damned stupid idea.

And here he was now, drinking alone.

How We Got Frozen Food

November 24, 2021


Business Insider often has short little historical pieces about industries or processes. I enjoyed this one about how Capt. Birdseye put frozen foods into every freezer in North America.

Night Music: Take Five

November 24, 2021

The New Finds The Old

November 24, 2021


After twenty-five years of fine service our washing machine died last week. The new one arrived this morning.

As the old machine has been an unmovable fixture for a quarter century, we were sure we’d find a lot of grime and maybe a pile of missing socks down there. There was grime aplenty but no socks. There were, however, THIRTY-SIX white plastic hangers strewn behind, beside, and under the machine! Who knew they were even missing?

On The Origin of Origins

November 24, 2021


On the Origin of Species - Wikipedia

First published on this day, 24th November 1859. Rarely has any book had such an effect on human knowledge and understanding.

Image: Puerto Vallerta Sunset

November 23, 2021

More on Sandwiches

November 23, 2021


A couple of days ago, I posted something about Five Sandwiches that Made America and I received some flack — mainly from the Everloving — that the real American sandwiches had been omitted. Therefore, as atonement, I did a little research on grilled cheese, the hoagie, hamburger, Reuben, and the BLT.

Grilled cheese:

Image: Michael Graydon And Nikole Herriott

The French have had their croque monsieur since the 1890s, but the grilled cheese sandwich as we know it had to await the invention of sliced bread by Otto Rohwedder in the late 1920s, and was further enhanced with the introduction of cheese slices at the end of the 1940s.

As the Committed Pig notes:

“The name “grilled cheese” didn’t actually come around until the 1960’s; before then it was all “toasted cheese” or “melted cheese” sandwiches. Which brings up a very important point – how you actually cook this sandwich doesn’t really matter, and historically the methods have been all over the map. Records show as early as 1902, a recipe for a “Melted Cheese,” designed to be cooked in a hot oven, appeared in Sarah Tyson Rorer’s ‘Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book’. A recipe was also published in 1929 in Florence A. Cowles’ ‘Seven Hundred Sandwiches’ called to broil the ingredients to make “Toasted Cheese.” “Toasted Sandwich,” published in 1939 in ‘The Boston Cooking School Cook Book’, encouraged the ingredients to be broiled or even sautéed in a frying pan coated with butter. And in ‘The Joy of Cooking’ (1953), Irma S. Rombauer wrote that bread and cheese should be heated in a commercial waffle iron – an easy meal for even “the maid-less host” to prepare.”

The Hoagie/sub:

Image: Chelsie Craig

So many names for this ubiquitous American sandwich: hoagie, submarine, grinder, po’boy, hero, wedges, etc. etc. The origin myth is that a local shopkeeper supplied these kinds of sandwiches to the ship workers building submarines at Groton, CT, during the second world war. But a listing two years earlier for a restaurant in Wilmington, DE, serving “submarine sandwiches to go” seems to hit that one on the head.

The concept of piling different ingredients between two long sticks of untoasted bread seems to have arisen spontaneously in several locations around the same time — thus the wide array of local names — hoagie, submarine, grinder, po’boy, hero, wedges, etc. etc. — for what is essentially the same sandwich.

Since its commercialization, the name Subway has become a standard.


Where would America be without the hamburger sandwich? It has easily overtaken the hot dog as America’s fast food go-to. Billions are chewed every year, and working a hamburger stand is often a good first step into employment. I’ve never had a Big Mac but I’ve written about them.

According to the Library of Congress, it was Louis Lassen, a New Haven, CT, lunch wagon operator who in 1895 first ground up beef and slapped it between bread. The Lassen luncheonette still exists and they only allow additions of cheese, tomato, and onion, nothing else. But there are other stories from other towns from around the same time. It’s clear that it was an efficient product for both buyer and seller, and pretty soon they were were being sold everywhere.

Competition was so strong that most successful hamburger chains quickly became masters of business efficiency, of delivering an adequate standardized meal and experience for the least cost. Ray Kroc, who opened the first franchised McDonalds in the 1950s, was one such master and he quickly turned McDs into the behemoth.


The Reuben, always associated with kosher delis though definitely not kosher, seems to have come about in the 1920s, probably as a poker game food in Omaha, NE. But Reuben’s Deli in New York has also claimed authorship.

The Canadian version would probably use Montreal smoked meat rather than corned beef.

The BLT:

Although all the ingredients were available there is no evidence of bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches prior to 1900. Food For Thought has found a recipe from the “1903 Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book, where a club sandwich included bacon, lettuce, tomato, along with mayo and a slice of turkey.”

This confirms me in my view that the BLT is simply a form of club sandwich. Nothing wrong with that, but not quite as innovative as the other sandwiches.

Happy Fibonacci Day!

November 23, 2021

1123 — the first numbers in the Fibonacci sequence — allows us to celebrate November 23rd as Fibonacci Day. This is in honour of Italian Leonardo Bonacci of Pisa who discussed the sequence in 1202.

The Fibonacci sequence goes as follows: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 and on to infinity. Each number is the sum of the previous two. They were known in India well before Fibonacci and were called Virahanka numbers.

It might seem just like a simple mathematician’s trick, but the Fibonacci sequence is found throughout nature. For example, the petals on flowers follow the sequence — most flowers have three (like lilies and irises), five (parnassia, rose hips) or eight (cosmea), 13 (some daisies), 21 (chicory), 34, 55 or 89 (asteraceae). Spirals, such as in pine cones or conch shells, are also built up in Fibonacci sequences.

One could spend an entire Fibonacci Day finding more examples, from spiral galaxies to DNA sequences to fractal diagrams.

Night Music: Another One Bites The Dust

November 22, 2021


Poem: Martyr

November 22, 2021


He had long ago accepted the loss as permanent,

but that acceptation was merely a gloss, as yet skin deep,


not yet having bled into the very marrow of his being,

nor led him to that place of serenity.


His bitterness lay as deep as the roots of cedar in shale,

following tracks as distant and serpentine as the staged attacks


of true hackers working their miraculous juju through the internet

ether, and forever ending in a sad soiled grace.


And, though he could choose to confuse his loneliness with tragedy –

as if he were the sainted prophet of his own persecuted


exarchate in exile — it was but loneliness nonetheless,

and it hurt as bad as the arrows of martyrdom.


The Five Sandwiches that Made America

November 21, 2021


I always find the Conversation has an eclectic mix of essays, many of which will pique my interest. A recent case in point: the history of five sandwiches — tuna salad, the chow mein sandwich, club, peanut butter & jelly, Scotch woodcock — and what they say about American social history.

The histories of these foods run through the 1890s for the club sandwich — perfectly described as “a blend of elegance and blandness” — through the early years of the 20th century for tuna, pb & J, and the woodcock, and much more recently for the chow mein sandwich of the 1970s.

Image: Alena Haurylick

“As food historian Bee Wilson argues in her history of the sandwich, American sandwiches distinguished themselves from their British counterparts by the scale of their ambition. Imitating the rising skylines of American cities, many were towering affairs that celebrated abundance.

Well worth the read.