It’s like Christmas in December

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I was a fair bit off in my fried clam estimate the other day – it was more like thirty clams on the clam plate today, which was the same US$28 as last time at J.T. Farnham’s. The total was $72 for that plus the lobster roll and quart of seafood chowder that I brought home – four meals in all.

It was strange to see ice on the salt marsh and 29°F/-2°C on the outside thermometer, but the food was no less delicious than on a hot night in July.

A more traditional view from one of the picnic tables at Farnham’s in May 2014:

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Click below for a behind-the-scenes video at Farnham’s – please excuse the Fieri:

 

Fire power

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From Sacramento FD, 15 December 2017: Sacramento Engine 316 as part of California OES Strike Team 4805c, preparing to depart Ventura Base Camp for a day on the fire line. The Thomas Fire is now 252,500 acres, with 35% containment and 8,369 personnel assigned.

Hundreds of units are visible in their photo from the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Other totals as of 15 December: 1,012 fire engines, 62 water tenders, 32 helicopters, 158 handcrews, 78 bulldozers, plus other firefighting aircraft.

In the MODIS natural colour image below, smoke from California wildfires stretches north past the Oregon border. The southern half of Vancouver Island is visible at the top and the lower edge of this image is about 175 miles south of the Baja California border. Acquired by NASA’s Aqua satellite on 11 December 2017.

Aqua’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) shows CO concentration on 11 December 2017. “Column” refers to the 5km-high column of air that’s measured and 1018 is one quintillion.

Further details on these Aqua images here.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

Mark Twain, opening chapter 8 of Following the Equator, 1897

Also in that chapter, the life of the extinct moa – possibly slightly exaggerated:

The Moa stood thirteen feet high, and could step over an ordinary man’s head or kick his hat off; and his head, too, for that matter. He said it was wingless, but a swift runner. The natives used to ride it. It could make forty miles an hour, and keep it up for four hundred miles and come out reasonably fresh. It was still in existence when the railway was introduced into New Zealand; still in existence, and carrying the mails. The railroad began with the same schedule it has now: two expresses a week-time, twenty miles an hour. The company exterminated the moa to get the mails.

Thanks to Betty Boop, fried clams

The tube on my Betty Boop standup cracked at the base the other day, so I found a neon shop online that’s closer than the last one I used in Maine and got a reasonable quote for repair. There was no address on the web site, just “North Shore”, but I got directions from the guy and it turns out he’s not even five miles away from J.T. Farnham’s in Essex, and I just found that Farnham’s has extended their season through December this year instead of November. So it’s fried clams for lunch on Sunday and prolly a quart of seafood chowder to bring home. Maybe a lobster roll, too, if I’m feeling a bit peckish. Must remember to bring cash. Can’t wait.

I took this photo in August 2008:

Lobsters in space

Perhaps a visitor can answer this question: Why is it that nearly every time I see whole lobsters awaiting prep on UK cooking shows, they’re uncooked but stone-cold dead? I just saw this again in the ongoing series 10 of MasterChef – The Professionals, screenshot of the daisy-pushing critters above. Because I’m so used to lobsters tootling about in my kitchen and giving me the tail-flapping, two-claw salute when I pick them up, it gives me the willies to see a passel of them lying on the work surface dead as doornails, but perhaps there’s a rational explanation that will calm me.

I could understand par-cooked, but they’re definitely raw – their colour alone tells you that. You couldn’t sell a dead, raw whole lobster here. I’m not sure if it’s against the law – it probably is – but that doesn’t matter: No one would ever buy one. My only thought is that perhaps they dispatch them moments before filming begins in order to spare sensitive viewers. That better be it – I’ve smelled lobsters that have been dead for a little while. Firing them into high Earth orbit or, better yet, the Sun, would be a better option than eating.

On the topic of how to deal with live lobsters on TV, here’s an excerpt from Bob Spitz’s Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child regarding chowder and lobster guru Jasper White’s appearance on In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs in 1994:

Julia insisted that Jasper White make his pan-roasted lobster. It was his signature dish, steeped in cognac and butter, and a perennial favorite of hers, perfect for the home cook, but there were problems before filming even began. Weeks before, during a cooking demonstration on Today, Katie Couric shrieked when a chef killed a lobster. It brought media attention to the process of killing lobsters and PETA jumped on it right away. The organization’s power made [producer] Geof Drummond nervous. “He prefers we don’t kill it on television,” Julia explained to White, sitting in her garden during a break.

“That’s fine,” White said. “We can kill it before we start filming.”

Julia shook her head. “Then we’re not teaching them anything.” She got up and walked around the yard.

“Julia, there are other lobster dishes to be made. I could do lobster quenelles that start with cooked meat.”

A decision had to be made in the next couple of minutes. Finally, she said, “Fuck ’em! We’re going to teach people the right way to do it. Fuck PETA, fuck the animal-rights people!”

Together, they concocted a way to sidestep a possible outcry. As the lesson began, Julia stood gazing at White and his lobster. “So, dearie, how do we start the dish?” she asked.

“First we cut up the lobster,” he said.

Everything had to do with the expression on Julia’s face. She kept it glassy-eyed, completely impassive. For all anyone knew, she might have been watching a mother diapering a newborn, as White dispatched the crustacean. He had a Chinese cleaver the size of a scimitar and he wielded it like a cartoon character. His hands were a blur—swoosh, swoosh, swoosh! Presto: the lobster lay in pieces on the cutting board.

No one uttered so much as a sigh.

“Then we’re not teaching them anything.” My hero.

From that episode:

One job – they had one job

Here we see the problem inherent in mail-ordering shirts. The collar labels on these three claim they’re all the same size. The middle one fits well while the other two would have me mimic, respectively, a pup tent and a rather tightly-wrapped mummy.

I have sent words – restrained ones, I thought, considering the alternately grumbling and growling noises I seem to be making.

Excuse me while I fetch my eyebrows.

The mind boggles

Still no hope of ever having a hobby of any sort? Thumb-twiddling too mundane? All dully waking moments must involve a dully glowing screen? Why not try chasing your own tail for a while as we track you, serve up some ads, and gain some micro-revenue? Satisfying? Of course not. But it does occupy time.

Vote early and often! Allow all cookies. Attempt no ad-blockers there.