WeekEnd Review April 10, 2016

When life hands you lemons, sometimes a week later you just get a second round of lemons. That’s been the last few weeks at the day job. There are times you just have to focus on figuring out how to get some lemonade made. Looking forward to a lemon-free week (fingers crossed!), and getting back to something like normal. Lots of evenings spent like the photo below with coworkers, commiserating, trying to figure out next steps, etc.

It’s April! And I have successfully bought zero pens this year so far! I’m still waffling on resuming the purchases in all honesty. Like I’ve said other places, I’ve really enjoyed focusing on what I have, but I do want a few things and I want to at the very least keep any purchases to a minimum and make sure I’m buying something I really want. I had a reward pen in mind from Edison that I’m pretty sure will end up in my hands sooner rather than later.

There’s been a ton of great stuff the last two weeks. I tried to pare this down to a manageable list of favorites or things that struck me in particular. For me the best part of link roundups is the commentary. I look forward not just to links (let’s face it at this point I probably follow most of the folks who’d be linked) but to reading what other people have to say in response. So a good number of links, but a focus on the things where I had something to say or thought was especially interesting. Otherwise, a bunch of baking and a few book recommendations. On to the links!

WeekEnd Links

Now for something completely different - Just a few non-pen/non-bread related things to start.
Eames Molded Plastic Chair - Tools&Toys
This truly is one of the most iconic chairs ever made. I love how simple the top is compared to the complexity of the bottom. How even though there’s a lot happening in the legs it still feels clean and crisp. I’ve been in the position of either living with folks or living alone and not having money to really furnish a place for years, but this chair is perpetually on my list when I really have a place I can call my own.

In Praise of the iPad Air2 - Pete Denison
A great post detailing how and why Pete has ended up with the iPad Air 2. I have said it before, but I love these in depth posts chronicling specifically why people use the tools they do. I have spent a good bit of time thinking about my computing set up over the last year or so, ending up with no desktop, an iPad mini and my trust macbook air (13”). I’ve given up certain things, big screens, gaming for the most part, etc. but I feel really good about what I have and how I use each device I own. With the hype around the iPad Pros it’s easy to feel like you SHOULD use the new shiny thing, but it’s worth putting the time in to figure out what you actually want and what you actually need vs what is available.

Always in my Pocket - Backup Brain
I’ve been toying with getting a knife or two. I have a nice Opinel that I carry with me pretty much everywhere, and I really like the look of some of these. Not sure if I’m ready for another expensive interest, but some of these are really beautiful.

Pens to Love
Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe - FPQuest
Great review, and another example of someone trying to write about why they like a thing, not just an overview of specs. Those are always going to be my favorite write ups, with the more personal take. I’ve been tempted by this before, but this review seems like the tipping point of deciding the shininess isn’t for me. Glad Ray likes it so much though. It’s always satisfying when you feel like a pen really fits you. My heart still belongs to the long lusted after Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black.

Pilot Custom 74 - The Pen Haul
This is similarly high in my own pen ranking. I think it’s a great pen for the price, and the nib is a dream.

Baron Fig Squire - Well Appointed Desk
Another look at this, and another fan. I’m pretty tempted to grab one of these.

Deal-Breakers - two reviews of pens that looked really appealing until I hit the deal breakers.
Lamy Imporium - Pencil Case Blog
This is a COOL looking pen. And that is really not the list price I was expecting!! Yeeeeesh.

Faber Castell Ambition Blue Ocean OpArt - The Pen Addict
Again, a beautiful looking pen. But then I saw that section, and that really seems like a complete deal breaker for me.

WeekEnd Bake

Two weeks of baking!

Two weekends ago I did a batch of white bread with poolish and then two sesame sourdough loaves. Turned out well, and I’d really been craving the sesame loaf.

The big experiment this weekend was baguette attempt #2. And it was FAR more successful than attempt #1. I used this formula from freshloaf.com. It’s a very forgiving formula and allows me to worry less about dough development and focus my energy on shaping. And the results? I am very pleased! I think the flavor was good. Shattery crust, creamy crumb with great irregular holes. Not as deep as it could be with a preferment or as sourdough, but good and worth making again. And this is the time I got the shaping down. In the finished loaves the two on the left were shaped well but didn’t transfer to the pizza stone smoothly so ended up with odd shapes. But the two on the right! Those are baguettes to be proud of in my opinion. Going to keep at baguettes, a couple more times with this formula, and then I’ll move on to some of the sourdough versions.

Today I am starting up some sourdough loaves. Some folks have expressed interest in buying bread so baking some country loaves to share/sell.

Consumed

A couple weeks ago the designer of one of my favorite games ever, Spelunky, released his book about making it. Spelunky is a procedurally generated platformer (think Mario) that appears very simple at a first glance, but the more you play the more you realize it’s an almost infinitely complex series of interlocking systems. All the enemies are consistent in their behavior, and all of the rules of traversal are the same across levels. It’s about reflex and prediction and building up instincts. There’s a wealth of tidbits in here about how Derek designed certain things and solved some design problems. Recommended, but more than the book, I recommend Spelunky the game.

Empires of Eve was just released as well. It’s an attempt to recount some of the largest battles/wars in the history of the game EVE Online. Think Battlestar Galactica, but the people flying the ships are real people playing an insane and fascinating video game about spaceships, mining and conquest. It’s a shockingly engrossing read so far, very recommended.