Author's details

Name: John
Date registered: March 3, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Lake NeuronLake Neuron: Video blog post: #MyRelaySelfie — April 23, 2014
  2. Lake NeuronLake Neuron: critical shaving update — April 22, 2014
  3. Lake NeuronLake Neuron: meeting of minds — April 19, 2014
  4. Lake NeuronLake Neuron: The sun rises in the yeast — April 18, 2014
  5. Lake NeuronLake Neuron: On Screen — April 14, 2014

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  1. Lake NeuronLake Neuron: Summer Under The Stars — 1 comment
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Author's posts listings

Apr 23 2014

Lake NeuronLake Neuron: Video blog post: #MyRelaySelfie

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Apr 22 2014

Lake NeuronLake Neuron: critical shaving update

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mens-shave-creamI know that all of you in the reading public have been breathlessly awaiting the latest chapter in my shaving odyssey. First, though, a recap:

I had been using an electric razor for a number of years, but late last summer I decided that a) I missed blade shaving, but b) I did not miss the price of store-bought razor cartridges. After looking at several online options, I went for Harry’s, an online startup founded by some of the same people responsible for the eyeglass company Warby Parker.

Harry’s makes a really nice razor – it feels like a quality product, yet the cartridge refills are much cheaper than the major brand sold in stores. Harry’s appears to be doing well – just since last summer, they’ve bought out the German factory that had been supplying their blades. They recently were a sponsor on Leo Laporte’s “This Week In Tech” podcast.

I’ve been very pleased with Harry’s, and I gave a starter kit to a family member whose name I drew for Christmas. For a while, I would post links to their site through their referral program, and as a result I earned four free cartridges a few months back when a friend of mine ordered something using the link. Now, though, they seem to have removed any mention of the referral program from their web site. So I don’t benefit in any way from telling you about them; I just honestly like the product.

The Harry’s starter kit includes not only the razor and cartridges but also a tube of their shaving cream. I liked the shaving cream in a tube, much better than the canned shaving cream or gel I used to use. Instead of a big fluffy layer of foam, you get a very thin, but slick, layer, which I think does a better job.

However, unlike their cartridges, Harry’s shaving cream is not any cheaper than what’s in the stores. In fact, I soon found that Neutrogena made a shaving cream in a tube that was cheaper than Harry’s. Then, I found Every Man Jack, which was even cheaper than Neutrogena.

The trouble with Every Man Jack is that the only place I could find it locally was Walmart – and then Walmart suddenly stopped carrying it. So I went back to Neutrogena, which seems to be in all of the supermarkets and drug stores.

That brings us to this week.

Monday, on a whim, I ended up buying a different brand – one which, like Harry’s, was a startup, although in this case it’s now being sold through regular retail channels. Cremo is a shaving cream in a tube which boasts of being “astonishingly superior” and “impossibly slick.” You only need an almond-sized amount to cover your face. The tube came with a little neck-hanger in which one of the co-founders, whose face and signature are prominently featured, offers a full rebate of the purchase price as an incentive for trying out the product. (“I’ll give you this tube FREE!”) So I bought the tube and sent in my receipt for the rebate.

I tried it this morning and … it’s pretty good. It’s got a citrusy smell, it lubricates well, and I got a nice close shave with it. I’d give it a good review, even compared to Harry’s, Neutrogena or Every Man Jack.

So that’s my latest review.

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Apr 19 2014

Lake NeuronLake Neuron: meeting of minds

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I don’t know what made me think of “Meeting of Minds” the other day. I went looking online tonight and found just two short clips on YouTube. The show doesn’t seem to be available on DVD, nor do I believe it’s been rebroadcast since its original run, which is a shame.

“Meeting of Minds,” which ran on PBS in the late 1970s, was the brainchild of Steve Allen. Allen first had the idea in the 50s, and wanted to include it as a segment on a weekly prime time show he was doing at the time. But the sponsor wouldn’t approve. Later, a Canadian show with a similar premise appeared, and Allen even appeared on that show as George Gershwin, a year or two before his own version premiered on PBS. But although the Canadian version predated Allen’s, Allen actually had the idea first.

The premise was a historical talk show, with Allen as host and the guests being actors in character as historical figures from various eras in time. (Allen’s wife Jayne Meadows was a frequent guest, playing a number of different historical figures on different episodes.) I especially remember one episode with Voltaire and Martin Luther as two of the guests. Allen would bring out the first guest, interview them a little while, and then that guest would stay on stage as the next guest came out. There were usually four guests, and so once you had all four of them on stage they’d start to interact with each other. As you can imagine, Voltaire and Martin Luther were not quite in agreement.

The dialogue was based on the actual writings or reported comments of each real person, but they were artfully edited and woven together by Allen (who wrote every episode) into what sounded like natural conversation.

I see on Wikipedia that there was one episode which made a minor deviation from the format. William Shakespeare was paired, not with other historical figures, but with characters from his works. (Jayne Meadows played the “dark lady” from his sonnets.)

I don’t think I saw anywhere near all of the episodes, but I still remember the series vividly, all these years later. I really wish someone would make it available. Wikipedia says that the scripts are available for educational performance or study, and Allen waived any rights to performance royalties because of their educational nature.

Here’s one of the YouTube clips I found:

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Apr 18 2014

Lake NeuronLake Neuron: The sun rises in the yeast

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I spent a lot of last night baking three loaves of artisan bread for today’s Times-Gazette bake sale to benefit the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. I baked one loaf before Holy Thursday services and then the other two after I got home.

Two of the loaves were bought by co-workers, while my fellow Relay booster Judi Burton – who’s becoming a regular customer – bought the third.

All that baking made me want some bread of my own, so I made up another batch of dough just now. It will sit out for the next two hours, then before I go to bed I’ll snap a lid on it and put it in the fridge, where it will yield three loaves over the next week or so. (For my own use, thankfully, I only need to bake one loaf on a given day.) I use a no-knead recipe; it’s a wet dough designed to keep in the refrigerator until you need it, and the yeasty flavor improves over time. The dough starts to smell like beer after a few days.

The dough is based on the basic recipe from Jeff Herzberg and Zoë François of the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day” cookbooks, but instead of baking on a baking stone with a pan of water to provide steam, as in their recipe, I now use Kenji Lopez-Alt’s method of baking in a cast iron dutch oven. You pre-heat the dutch oven, including the lid, in a hot oven, so it’s good and hot. and after putting the loaf in you bake it for a while with the lid on, which holds in some steam and gives you the same nice crust as that pan of water would. Then, you take the lid off for the last half of cooking to let it brown.

I use the piece of parchment called for in the Herzberg / François recipe, only I cut it sort of like a sling so that I can use it to lower the ball of dough into the blistering-hot dutch oven. I remove the parchment at the same time I take the lid off the dutch oven, so that the bottom of the loaf can make good contact with the cast iron.

I can bake myself a loaf tomorrow – a good Saturday project – and still have enough dough for two more loaves as I need them next week.

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Apr 14 2014

Lake NeuronLake Neuron: On Screen

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When I got to Learning Way Elementary this morning for my weekly “Raise Your Hand Tennessee” volunteer session, I noticed a pile of equipment, including a couple of tripods, lying outside Ms. Aymett’s classroom. I figured there was something going on and was just about to turn around and ask the office if it would be better for me not to disturb them. Just then, Ms. Aymett popped her head out of the door, about to hang a sign on the door that said “VIDEO SHOOT – DO NOT DISTURB”

“Oh, Mr. Carney!” she squealed. (Regan is a wellspring of enthusiasm.) “Come on in!”

As the Times-Gazette reported a few months back, Regan Aymett has been chosen as an NEA Master Teacher, meaning that they would be shooting video of her in the classroom to be used as a reference by other teachers. That’s what was happening today.

Regan Aymett video lesson

For the particular lesson that was being recorded today, Regan had the kids divided up into pairs. She had me work with one girl who was without a partner (and, perhaps, who needed a little extra encouragement).  There were two people shooting her with video-enabled digital SLRs, along with an audio person using a long boom mike.

The lesson was helping the kids understand what Ms. Aymett referred to as “text features” – things like captions and titles that stand apart from the main body of a composition. The example she was using was some sort of magazine article about the importance of helmets for things like bicycling and horse eventing. (Regan is also a riding teacher!)

The girl with whom I was working was fully on board with the importance of helmets, but had a little trouble understanding that we were looking at the mechanics of the article and not its content. I tried as best I could, but I didn’t have much success getting her attention away from helmets and putting it on captions and headlines.

Still, I tried to at least be patient and encouraging. Ms. Aymett may be a master teacher, but I’m an amateur, a volunteer, and sometimes that’s the best I can hope for.

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Apr 08 2014

Lake NeuronLake Neuron: Welcome! Enjoy the show! gotta go!

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As regular readers here know, one of the great passions of my life has been the Symphony at the Celebration concert, which brings the Grammy Award-winning Nashville Symphony to Shelbyville each year for a family-friendly concert.

The first concert was in 1989. The first couple of concerts were sponsored by a local manufacturer, but after that one of our local banks took over. The late Scott McDonald, president of that bank, put together a local steering committee for the concert and asked me to serve on it. I’ve been a member ever since – more than 20 years now. The past few years, I’ve been co-chair of that committee, along with longtime chair Dawn Holley.

For some time now, the concert has featured our local public high school bands (in rotation). The band gets to play a few numbers on its own during the first part of the concert and then returns at the end of the evening to play a couple of pieces in tandem with the symphony, always ending with “The Stars and Stripes Forever.” Traditionally, the high school band’s piccolo player is asked to take the solo.

Prior to the concert, we have the Nashville Symphony’s “instrument petting zoo,” which lets kids pick up and try real instruments under the guidance of trained volunteers. The Motlow College jazz band performs, and there’s an art show on the arena concourse.

Normally, a representative of the primary sponsor gets up at the beginning of the evening, welcomes the crowd and introduces the symphony.

This year, for a variety of reasons, we don’t have a primary sponsor. That means it’s up to either me or Dawn to welcome the crowd. Today, Dawn asked me to do it. I want to do it, and I’m going to do it.

But, here’s the thing. As soon as I welcome the crowd, I will walk right past them and out the doors of Calsonic Arena. You see, our concert happens to fall on Election Night, and with this year’s complex and significant local elections, I and a number of my co-workers will be needed to cover the incoming returns, post them to the web site, interview the winners, and so on. Elections are my beat, my responsibility, and I fully understand that. If I leave the arena right after my introduction, I will get to the county courthouse just as the first precinct returns are coming in.

I know I need to work the election coverage, but it will kill me to miss this year’s concert. The second half of the concert is just dripping with Aaron Copland, one of my favorite composers. We have a new conductor this year, Vinay Parameswaran, and I’m curious to see how he interacts with the crowd. And this year’s high school band is my alma mater, Cascade High School. (I originally thought my percussionist nephew might be participating, but while middle schoolers play in Cascade’s marching band they don’t play in the concert band.)

Dawn and I don’t really have much control over the scheduling of the concert – the Nashville Symphony and the Celebration work that out between them, based on the symphony’s schedule and the availability of Calsonic Arena. We’re just happy that this year’s concert is a week or two earlier than last year’s, which was so close to graduation that it hurt attendance.

Anyway, I’ll get over missing the concert. It is what it is. But I had to vent about it.

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