Accumulated Knowledge

Background:  I once worked for an ad agency that had among its clients Vidal Sassoon, and from them I learned all the secrets of the trade.  Below is just a sample.

At its most basic level, shampoo is just a detergent.  Like all detergents, it takes away oils and greases.  Unlike your average kitchen dishwashing detergent, however, it’s very “gentle” — which means it has been severely diluted and therefore, on a cost per fluid ounce / milliliter basis, it outpaces Biden-priced gasoline.  This is particularly true if you buy the “premium” brands (e.g. with French names).

Technically, you could use simple bodywash (also expensive) or even a bar soap like Zest to wash your hair, although it’s a little harsh if your hair is normally thin and fragile.  However (and this leads into our sub-topic), what really counts, if you care for your hair at all, is not the detergent you use but the conditioner.

This is way more important than your shampoo, and a good conditioner will make your hair healthier than will some VO5-type budget conditioner — although, as with all things, budget conditioners work extremely well for some people because their hair responds to it better than to others, even expensive ones.

The more aggressive / cheaper your shampoo, the more money you’ll have to spend on conditioner.

So what do I use?  The cheapest shampoo (generally to be found on the bottom shelf at Kroger, with the lowest cost per ounce) and a mid-range conditioner like Pantene Pro-V.  But I have thick, healthy and wavy (not curly) hair, and I never use a blowdryer.  Also, I wash my hair about every other day, and use conditioner once a week only.


Addendum:  if you’re bald or wear your hair in a don’t-care buzz cut, you are obviously disqualified from commenting on this section, in that your opinions are like those of a cave-dwelling hermit about TV shows, or John Kerry about guns.

Not The Optimal Choice

Today, I want to address the topic of:

Knife Sets

First, the dirty little secret:  not one of the brands which offer their cutlery in “sets” / blocks are very good, in that a “set” of knives tries to do everything well, and only partially succeeds.  Price is not an indicator of quality because inevitably, one (or more) of the components is not fit for function.

I have one of these, purchased before I knew better.

My summary:

  • the bread knife is terrible — it hacks the bread because the serration points are too sharp — and now I use a budget bread knife bought at the supermarket instead.  (The included paring knife is New Wife’s favorite kitchen implement:  we have two.)
  • the carving knives are quite good, but lose their edge rather quickly when you’re cutting things like cooked meat (ahem), so now I grudgingly use an electric carving knife for that purpose, and use the block’s carving knives only for cutting and trimming raw meat and veg.
  • the scissors are total shit — they fell apart (literally) after about six months.  I replaced them with a Kitchen-Aid pair (note the price), and they’re coming up for their sixth year of (ab)use, without complaint.
  • the block’s steak knives are also crappy:  they tear the meat rather than cut it.

Takeaway:  the Son&Heir worked in the kitchen at both Chili’s and Pappadeaux, and took note of what the pro chefs used there.  So when he finally moved into his own place (after sharing with buddies for years), he bought one sinfully-expensive carving knife — I mean, chef-quality — and uses two cheap paring knives (both Zyliss, see above), one serrated, one flat-edge.  He claims that those three take care of about 99% of his kitchen cutting needs.  (“What about the  remaining 1%?”  Dunno, he didn’t tell me;  knowing him, probably his Al Mar folder.)

The only reason to have a knife block at all is so that the knives’ edges aren’t damageded by clanging against each other in the drawer.

Frankly, if I were starting again, I’d get one of those wall-mounted magnetic numbers, and use it to store my own sinfully-expensive carving knife, a couple-three Zyliss utility knives and the Kitchen-Aid scissors.

For steak knives, I’d go with Victorinox because, duh Victorinox (see also:  Schmidt-Rubin rifles #Swiss quality).

Speaking of steak knives, I once had a set of Laguiolet knives, (bought in Paris and modeled, it’s said, on the Pyrenean shepherd’s knife), and they’re awful.

The blades are excellent, but the handles are too thin and they turn in the hand rather disconcertingly.  I think I gave them to Goodwill or something.

Frankly, I’d rather get a set of steak knives separately (as opposed to included with the cutlery set) and just store them in the box they come in, like this one:

Finally, I have a small cleaver for when I lose patience and just need to hack something apart (e.g. pork knuckle), and I have this one, which has a touch-up sharpener built into the sheath:

Five years of serious (ab)use, and counting…

I don’t have a butcher knife and don’t know much about them, but the Bearded Butcher guys use Victorinox, so there ya go.

Feel free, of course, to add your thoughts on this topic in Comments.

Change Of Season, Change Of Mood

We’ve had our first cool days here in north Texas — not the cold snap of a week ago, but that gentle cool of autumn.  So I had to change the wallpaper on Ye Olde Laptoppe, from this:

…to this:

Unlike the earlier pic, I know where this one is (because I took the pic myself;  open in new tab or window to embiggen, feel free to copy).

It’s just outside Belfast, Maine, looking out over the Passagassawakeag River (yeah, I know;  stupid Indian name, they could have just called it the “Belfast River”, but noooo).

I wish we had mist here in the Dallas area… or decent rivers, for that matter.

Cultural Ignorance

Last night I had to call 911, because I heard gunshots outside my apartment — first there were two shots, evenly spaced, and then three in a row, very fast.  Sounded like a small-caliber pistol, I told the operator.  (This being Texas, she didn’t bother to ask me how I could guess the caliber.)

Anyway, the cops arrived, and then a fire engine.

Not gunshots:  fireworks.

Of course, “fireworks” never occurred to me as a choice because I’m culturally ignorant, and had no idea that it’s Diwali Time, here in Little Hyderabad, Plano (that’s what they call it, because there are so many people from that city living in the area).

That would also explain why so many apartment patios are festooned with light strings — they’re not premature Christmas lights (which is what I mistakenly thought) but Diwali lights, which is apparently a whole ‘nother thing.  So instead of living amidst a large number of Christian folk, I’m surrounded, so to speak, by Diwali devotees.  (Okay, I knew that already.)

Anyway, I felt a bit of a fool for calling 911 just about fireworks, but I guess that’s what happens when you don’t get the appropriate memo from the Ministry of Cultural Assimilation.  And honestly?  these were loud bangs, so my confusion is quite understandable.  (I had the 1911 in hand while peering through the curtains and making the 911 call.)

Anyway, the morons who set off the fireworks got their pee-pees whacked both by the Fuzz and the Apartment Lords, as setting off fireworks in these parts is Streng Verboten.  (We have an extensive forest on both sides of the nearby creek, surrounded by empty grass fields that have somehow escaped the attention of property developers, hence the fire risk and prohibition.)

And by the way:  the cops were on the spot in about three minutes:  nothing like “Shots fired” over the old 911 to get the donuts dropped and the engines running.  But of course if there had been gunshots, three minutes is far too long.

This is Kim, your local Cultural Ignoramus, signing off.

Avoiding The Stink

Pigs stink!  News at 11.

Here’s one that made me chuckle:

A farmer has been paid almost £1.5million of public money to stop rearing pigs to allow 5,000 new homes to be built.

The deal is part of a move to reduce the amount of harmful nutrients flowing into waterways in Norfolk and to get house-building moving again, in what is the first deal of its kind.

The pig farm is on either side of the A47 bypass south of Norwich. By closing it down, the reduction in pollution means that officials will be able to grant permission for 5,000 homes elsewhere in the county.

Never mind the reduction in pollution;  just having a pig farm within a mile of a new housing development would render the houses either unsellable, or else priced so low as to be unprofitable to build.

Farms are noisome things, to be sure, and it’s not just pig farms either.  Fully a third of Mr. Free Market’s country estate is almost unusable (well, for my citified nostrils anyway) because of a neighboring cattle farm.  And speaking of city slickers:

Well said.