"Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, uh, your opinion, man."

A Tale of Two Toasters

10:21 Monday, 5 December 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 69.48°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 1.01mph

"There are no coincidences..."

As many of you know, it's just the two of us, Mitzi and I, in this over-55 retirement community. She loves to cook, but from time to time we just want the convenience of taking something from the freezer, and not everything can be microwaved.

So for as long as we've lived here, over three years now, we've been using the range oven to heat up frozen entrées or snacks or what-have-you. Which is a lot of electricity for two people. Takes a long time to pre-heat too.

She's been kind of mentioning a toaster-oven lately. She's the chef around here, she bought the induction range because she wanted induction cooking since she couldn't have gas. That necessitated buying a whole new set of cookware. I figured if she wanted a toaster-oven, she'd just go buy one.

Well, it's "the holidays," and we don't strictly observe the calendar for this gift-giving thing. She gave me a nice set of slippers for Hanukkah, because we have hard floors and the tile in the kitchen is slippery when it's wet and I mostly go barefoot around here. Lately I've been noticing numbness in my toes at night, and ruling out neuropathy of some kind, it's probably because I'm walking around in bare feet on hard surfaces all day. And hopefully the slippers will have a little more grip than my calloused feet when the kitchen floor is wet, and I won't crack my skull on a granite counter. We've had more than a few close calls with disaster averted only by my cat-like reflexes. (Or dumb luck. Could be both, right?)

Anyway, now I gotta figure out what to get Mitzi for Christmas. Or Hanukkah. I'm never certain.

Well, I follow John Siracusa on Twitter and a couple of years back he did this kind of authoritative deep-dive into which toaster oven actually makes good toast. Because it's really too much clutter to have a toaster oven and a toaster.

I see this tweet from John that the toaster oven he recommends, the Breville 650XL, was 34% off at Amazon on Black Friday. The little light bulb goes off over my head, and I just switched over to Amazon and bought it! Hanukkah/Christmas present solved!

I opted for the slow delivery option because Mitzi wasn't going to be home until more than a week later. Amazon notified me it would be delivered today, though, as it happened, it arrived Saturday.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to moi, Mitzi took advantage of Black Friday savings on Amazon and ordered a Hamilton Beach toaster oven! It was scheduled to arrive yesterday, but now is scheduled to arrive today! She never mentioned anything to me about it because she thought that I objected to having another appliance on the counter!

So Mitzi got home yesterday and I surprised her with her new toaster oven! And what a surprise it was, because, well, Hamilton Beach! We both had a really good laugh over it.

Last night we used it to reheat a quiche she had made and frozen before she left. I'd been thawing it in the fridge. Worked pretty well, but I don't think the "reheat" setting is calibrated for something like a quiche, which I probably could have guessed. Had to keep it in there longer, and it probably could have been a little hotter too.

I bought some bread and bagels yesterday before she got home, because I wanted to make sure it worked well as a toaster after she opened it. Tests performed this morning indicate that it is an excellent toaster. I had my Seek thermal imaging camera and Fluke 62 max IR thermometer on hand for further confirmation after yesterday's experience with the quiche.

Now she has to figure out if she wants to send back the Hamilton Beach or gift it to her daughter, who may not want it since their built-in microwave is also a convection oven. I'm guessing it's going back, unopened.

I guess we're each right for the other. It's been eight years now, and we're still laughing. Good sign, I think.


06:06 Monday, 5 December 2022
Current Wx: Temp: 61.57°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 3.44mph

Mitzi came home yesterday and after we'd had dinner and she'd taken a look at her new screened enclosure in the dark, we sat down to watch something on TV.

Earlier in the week, as I was looking for something to watch, I saw that a new documentary about Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah had just been released. I think I saw something about it before, but I don't recall. In any event, I'm a fan of Cohen and the song, so I bought it. I didn't watch it right then because I thought Mitzi would enjoy it too.

It's a two-hour film, and she'd had a long day and I seldom stay up past 2130 anymore, so I figured we'd watch the first hour and then finish it tonight. And let me add that Mitzi often falls asleep on the couch watching documentaries. Like, all the time.

Well, we watched the whole thing and it was wonderful. Just wonderful.

I became a Leonard Cohen fan late in life, certainly after I'd bought my condo in 2006. I was aware of him, even as a teenager. As a young adolescent, Neil Diamond was my emo balladeer of choice, with his Stones album on constant replay, overtaken eventually by Moods and finally by Hot August Night, with much of the rest of his discography in heavy rotation as well. (The soundtrack to Jonathon Livingston Seagull and Tap Root Manuscript being two other albums I probably wore out.)

Anyway Suzanne is on Stones, and this was when I was learning about singer/songwriters, and artists performing covers. So I recall reading something about Leonard Cohen and deciding he was a little too out of reach for me. Too cerebral or something. A poet? I want a rock star.

And then I bought Greetings From Asbury Park, and the rest is history. I'd found my rock star.

Anyway, finding myself in a much different place four decades later, after a failed marriage and a disappointing career, years of therapy, a seemingly fruitless search for love and desperate longing, well, Cohen didn't seem so out of reach anymore.

If you have the impression that the documentary is just about Hallelujah, you've been misled. The first half or two-thirds is about Leonard Cohen's life as an artist. There's a tiny bit about his life before he decided to become a musician/singer, though in the documentary he kind of dismisses the boundaries between poetry and song, which is convincingly manifested in his work.

I won't recapitulate the entire documentary, suffice to say that it's very much worth your time and you will be richly rewarded. Is it hagiography? Perhaps, nobody's perfect, and the film doesn't dwell on Cohen's imperfections.

It's been in recent years, certainly since 2016, that I've found myself listening to Leonard Cohen more often. I'll offer a modest spoiler here. At the end of the film, there's a brief clip of Cohen seated in a chair in some funky coat, looking at the camera.

He says, "You look around and you see a world that is impenetrable, that, uh, cannot be made sense of. You either raise your fist, or you say 'Halleluhah.' I try to do both."

And that hit me. I've been, metaphorically, raising my fist a lot since 2016. I haven't been saying "Hallelujah." And I think that's what I've been looking for in listening to Leonard.

Now I need to try to do both.

(I suppose I should give you a link. Here it is.)