Shun Chef’s Knife

“Oh That’s Nice”

For my birthday, I was awarded a smattering of great gifts from friends and family. They’re all equal in value, thoughtfulness, and loving gestures.

Then there’s my new Shun 8″ Chef’s Knife.

Probably forged by the last great Samurai Swordmaker, Hattori Hanzo, my Shun knife is the greatest thing to ever happen to my novice culinary career.

Lovingly named “Shun Li”, after the Street Fighter character, Chun Li, Shun and Chun have similar capabilities. They’re both delicate, sharp, and can take down objects double and triple their size.

We have great knives in our kitchen, but Shun Li has taken it up to the next level. Kate and I jockey for who gets to do the cooking prep work. Dicing an onion is like trying on silk pajamas. Smooth and sexy.

I feel a tinge of guilt everytime I take Shun Li down off of the wall because the rest of our knives are left to hang up on their magnetic prison, gloomily staring down as Shun Li chops and carves.

This must be how Woody felt in Toy Story 3 when he realized Andy was getting too old to play with toys.

Not to say that my other knives aren’t useful. We have a bread knife that is incredible. But the rest of them…just don’t cut it.

Is this the beginning of their sad, slow march to the back of the kitchen drawer? Perhaps they’ll be handed down to younger family members or friends.

Maybe they’ll eventually be donated.

Or, they will end up going to the great whetstone in the sky, where all the steaks are marbled, the knives never go dull, and chefs never replace you with Japanese steel.

Shun Chef’s Knife – 4 out of 5 Stars 

Islands

“Where Everything is Amazing”

It’s raining in Los Angeles, which means I get to bug Kate to continue a tradition that I started as a perverse joke.

Whenever it rains, I beg Kate to go with me to the Hawaiian themed burger restaurant, Islands.

I don’t remember exactly how the joke started. There’s an Islands near our house, and I think Kate mentioned that she had never been.

If you’ve never had the delectable dining at an Islands, I’ll do a quick summary for you. Burgers with pineapple, tropical themed drinks, and constant Ukulele music.

That’s it. The food isn’t spectacular, but it’s not bad either. There was one in a mall near the movie theater that I used to go to with friends growing up.

But since Kate had never been, I began to grow the legend of Islands. This burger joint became an isle of paradise, where all your troubles float away once you pass through the threshold. What better locale to escape to when the sky is crying?

I finally convinced her to go with me last year during a storm, and the legend was better than reality.

But that was a year ago. Things have changed for the better. I’m sure of it.

It’s raining in Los Angeles. Seems like it’s Islands Time.

Islands – 4 out of 5 Stars  

Essential Oils

“Smell Spells”

When it comes to nebulous science stuff, I’m pretty rigid.

I come from a town that is home to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We put things on Mars and the Moon goddammit. The phrase “It’s not rocket science” does not apply.

Give me the facts, is what I’m saying.

Which is why I’ve always been skeptical of anything crystal-oriented, moon-influenced (besides the tides), aura related, or what have you.

Salt lamp? Might as well be a salt lick for horses.

Oh, you have a quartz crystal for a necklace, and it helps soothe your aura? It’s a rock. You overpaid.

But, I do have one guilty pleasure that falls into the aura/natural/cosmic vibe, and that is essential oils.

I love essential oils.

If you’re not familiar with them, basically you buy sets of nice smelling liquid, fill some water in a diffuser (a humidifier) put some drops of the appropriate liquid, and your house smells nice for the next 60 to 120 minutes.

As I write this, I’m serenaded by the lovely bubbling sound of my diffuser spew out a delightful amalgamation of smells.

Essential Oils come in a variety of flavors. Some of them are basic, like Peppermint, Orange, Lavender, etc. But then they also have a brilliant marketing tactic, which isn’t to sell smells but to sell emotions or moods.

For example, I’m not smelling a combination of lavender and peppermint currently. Oh no, I’m smelling “Pure Relaxation.” On our shelf, we also have “Happy Citrus,” “Blood Moon,” and “Breathe Easy.”

I’m a fan of the more peppermint and tea tree based smells, personally. I find the citrus flavors too overpowering.

That’s that, it’s all in the smells. I’m a human being, so I love candles, but I’ve found essential oils are a more cost-effective solution than candles. If I had my druthers, our house would just have “campfire” and “pinyon” candles burning 24/7. But because our house is old, and I don’t want it to burn down, essential oils are my solution.

Wait, I’ve never looked into the question of whether or not there are campfire flavored essential oils. This could be a revolutionary breakthrough.

Anyways, try them out. Or don’t. Just make sure your home smells nice somehow.

Essential Oils – 4 out of 5 Stars 

Canvassing For A Political Candidate

“This is Not What The West Wing Told Me It Was”

Did you hear? There was an election recently.

I’ve been in an odd emotional spot since Tuesday. On one side, we won? On the other, I still have strong fears for the fate of our nation.

None of them were assuaged by the firing of the worst Keebler elf, Jeff Sessions, followed by the slaughtering of 13 people in Thousand Oaks, a place that isn’t just a spot on the map to me. That’s a place where I’ve been, where I know people.

But this isn’t really about that. This is about last weekend, before the races were announced, before lives were snatched by yet another gun in America.

With one more weekend before the midterms, we decided to go canvas for Katie Hill. She was running in the California 25th, a historically Republican district, and about an hour and a half away from where we lived.

On the drive out, Kate and I watched the landscape drastically shift. Freeway views gave way from high rises to apartment complexes to…winding mountains and far off ranch complexes. We were in a different California.

Upon arriving to Katie Hill’s HQ, we signed in, were given a FAQ, listened to Adam Scott from Parks and Rec give a speech, and we were off. Kate and I were assigned to knock on 66 doors in a small trailer community around the corner.

Kate had canvassed the weekend before, so I was ready to follow her lead. We drove to a quaint community of double-wides and using our poorly named “Political District Index” app, we began searching for people on our list to remind to vote.

Our first target wasn’t home, but we did talk to a chatty neighbor who enthusiastically told her how she stole her husband’s, son’s, and daughter’s ballots and filled them out for them. When we asked who she voted for, she said “Democrats!” then showed us a photo of her ballot, which clearly had Katie Hill’s opponent (a Republican) inked in.

Next we knocked on a door that was quiet, until 30 seconds later a large, hairy, and shirtless man opened the side door. He told us he didn’t have time to vote because of various reasons. Sick mother, divorced wife, homeschooling children, and fostering puppies.

His trailer did not have the sound of a litter of puppies. 99.5% chance we knocked on the door as he was enjoying some *alone* time.

We spoke to a few other voters, then we were promptly ordered off the lot by security. We canvassed into the Lancaster region, taking Kate’s Fiat off-roading to leave signs on several horse ranches.

Do I feel like I made a dramatic impact in democracy? Absolutely not. But I did feel like I did something, which is enough for me.

Oh, and Katie Hill won yesterday.

Canvassing For A Political Candidate – 4 out of 5 Stars

Rabbit Rabbit

“This is a Thing People Say?”

Did you wake up this morning and say “Rabbit Rabbit” out loud? Because I did.

I don’t know why I did. Apparently it’s thing?

A quick Wikipedia search bounces back information that it brings good luck, or in some cases, a present at the end of the month.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained.

RABBIT RABBIT!

Rabbit Rabbit – 4 out of 5 Stars

Dyson Vaccum Cleaners

“Turns Vacuuming Into a Science Adventure”

When I saw the deal, I knew I had to get it. A cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner with multiple interchangeable attachments, at a 70% markdown? Yes, please.

I rarely impulse buy, but this was one of them. I’m also atrocious at keeping secrets from Kate, so I was able to hold out for seven hours before I exclaimed: “I got you a present!”

After telling her what it was, she was elated but also suspicious of the spin I had put on the present. As if this was what she dreamed of, and not a new toy for me.

When I told coworkers about my purchase, every single one got a gleefully glazed look in their eyes. One told me “It makes vacuuming my favorite thing to do” while another told me about how she dreamt about owning a Dyson hair dryer one day.

Now that’s a fantastic brand promise.

In your teens, the stuff you want is about freedom and expression – clothes that define you, items that let you be on your own.

In your twenties, the stuff you want is about individuality and experiences – a trip somewhere to party with friends, a costume to make the night epic.

In your thirties, the stuff you want is practical and world building – which is why I’ve written over 200 words about my new vacuum cleaner.

Our Dyson is now home, and I have to say, it has fulfilled all my vacuum dreams. I’ll do a quick pass in the house mere minutes before we leave for an event because it’s that fun and easy. I get a jolt of cleaning adrenaline everytime I hoist it from behind the washing machine.

What a great present for Kate.

Dyson Vacuum Cleaner – 4 out of 5 Stars

Stetson Hats

“Brims For the Best”

I had a wedding back in my college hometown, San Antonio, last weekend. It had been two years since I had visited old San Antone, and I was really excited to return to a land where the tortillas are flour, “queso” is more than just the Spanish word for cheese, and where Lone Star is the standard beer order.

When I mentioned my Texas trip to a coworker, his first question was, “Are you going to wear a bolo?”

San Antonio is Texas, but it’s not Friday Night Lights Texas. But after talking it over with my coworker, I decided to make acquiring a bolo tie in San Antonio a main priority over the weekend.

The day of the wedding, after gorging ourselves on breakfast tacos (5 tacos, two coffees, and a Topo Chico for $18, TAKE THAT HOMESTATE), Kate and I embarked on a bolo adventure.

Our first stop was a hipster flea market, and while there lots of cute things for Kate, there were no bolos to buy. We were told to check out Paris Hatters, an old-school western store just a mile and a half down the road.

Birds have now made it out to San Antonio, so obviously we scootered to Paris Hatters. Established in 1917, upon walking into this century-old store, you’re immediately visually assaulted with two things: Cowboy Hats and mounted heads of various hunted animals. We were in the right place for a bolo tie.

We quickly located three bolo ties for purchase. Two with turquoise in them, and one for my coworker. But, as one does in a hat store, we started trying on hats.

I’m not a confident hat wearer. Some people can just throw one on, and it looks like an extension of their head. This doesn’t happen to me often. We tried on several different versions, but I knew that I was looking for one that I could wear in the sun, and wasn’t too hot.

Our knowledgeable sales person (and daughter of the owner) squinted at me and suggested I try an “Open Range” Stetson.

“It’s the one that LBJ used to wear.”

Well if it’s good enough for LBJ, it’s good enough for me.

A negotiation later, I’m now the proud owner of a 20xx Silverbelly Open Range Stetson.

I wore it and the bolo to the wedding and was met with strong encouragement. All in all, I’m happy with my purchase. If you’re going to buy a cowboy hat, might as well be for a wedding in Texas.

Stetson Hats – 4 out of 5 Stars