Little extravagances.

The older I get, the less crap I need to do my job in the kitchen. But I also appreciate a fancy gadget, too — I use a plain old chef’s knife for most of the things a food processor is supposed to do, but when I need that food processor (potato pancakes, pesto and hummus, mainly), I really am glad to have it.

Some years ago, our friends John and Sam gave us a corkscrew that cost $100. The lever-action Screwpull was the first of its kind I’d used, and although there are many knockoffs on the market today, like the song says: The original is still the greatest. I’ve amazed many guests with its ease of use. Every time I open a bottle of wine, I think, what a miraculous gadget. If it fell to pieces tomorrow, I’d happily spend another $100 to replace it.

Which brings us to our $129 trash can.

Earlier this year I looked at Simplehuman trash cans with my sister, who has owned one for years. I thought they were nice, but like any sane person, that $129 was a bit steep for a trash can. It gave her the idea, though, and she gave us one for Christmas. There’s something both horrible and wonderful about a $129 trash can — the expense seems preposterous, but it’s … the iPod of trash cans. It’s beautiful. It has a small footprint, and a lid hinge that allows it to sit flush against the wall. The lid closes silently. It has an inner liner that eliminates unsightly bag overhang. And it’s dog-proof, important in that Spriggy, in his senility, seems to have forgotten his training in that little area. We’ve only had it since Christmas, and already I can’t imagine my kitchen with the old, primitive, $15 trash can.

Alan, our household’s leading appreciator of good design, flipped for it. (Although he calls it the Humanwaste.) He went out today and bought its baby brother for the bathroom. (Spriggy has also developed a taste for snotty Kleenex. No wonder his breath is so bad.) It was only $21. The first time he threw a tissue into it he was alarmed that the lid slammed “in an annoyingly loud fashion,” as he put it. Off to the website, where we learned with dismay that the bathroom model didn’t have “patented lid shox technology.”

See, this is the problem with a $129 trash can. Pretty soon you’re disappointed you didn’t get lid shox technology. No wonder people say, Die, yuppie scum.

How was your weekend? Mine was uneventful, except for my small encounter with the Westboro loons. They were protesting outside one of the most beautiful churches in the area, a Gothic gem run by the Presbyterians, adjacent to a public facility called the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. The presence of these knuckle-dragging goobers outside was a bit jarring, but what the hell, the First Amendment protects Larry Flynt and Fred Phelps, too.

Short entry today, because land sakes, it’s 55 degrees out there! In January! Headed higher! I’m taking a bike ride. So, bloggage:

The New Package, of course, for all you Wireheads. Join the discussion and make it jump. Now it can be told: This year’s heroin brand? “Got that Greenhouse Gas! It’s hot! Gas up!”

A fabulous story about the rest of the story of the attempted assassination of Gerald Ford by the loony Sara Jane Moore. The man who grabbed her arm, spoiling her aim and saving Ford’s life, was hailed as a hero until it was revealed he was gay, which led to the usual complications these things led to, back then. Also, the man hit by the richochet didn’t have a great rest of his life, either. It’s one Paul Harvey won’t be doing, I guess.

The publisher of Parade says the press run of yesterday’s edition was over when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, but the cover-story interview was “too important” to spike the whole run. Uh-huh.

Off to sync the iPod and enjoy an exceptional heat wave. Have a good one, y’selves.

Posted at 8:37 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' |

32 responses to “Little extravagances.”

  1. Dorothy said on January 7, 2008 at 8:53 am

    What is it about dogs and snotty Kleenex? Augie shares Spriggy’s fascination with them. He’s spooked by trash can lids that swing, so that’s what we have in the bathroom and bedroom to discourage him.

    The Wire was great last night. But it’s taking time to sink into my brain. The pre-show interviews with cast members was just terrific, too. I have to go browsing at E-Bay to see if I can get Season 3 for my son. I’ll borrow them all back from him in a few years to revisit those characters.

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  2. MichaelG said on January 7, 2008 at 9:13 am

    The power at the office went out about 9:45 Friday AM. We were cut loose about 11:00. I went home to find — no power. It didn’t get it back until about 5:55 PM on Sunday evening. Power was out in random spots all over Sacto. Great weekend. I had battery radio, Coleman lanterns etc. but all at my (ex) wife’s place uo in Auburn. And her power was out as well. She told me she was cuddled up on the loveseat with a fire, the dogs and a book. I went to REI to see if they had a lantern. Too late. Target was on the way home so I dropped in (no Lileks sighting) and bought the last one they had. No battery radios there so I went to Radio Shack and got one. Sometimes lucky is as good as being prepared. I stayed out and about during the day on Fri and Sat and ate in restaurants. I went to a joint on Fri night and another one on Sat night. I took a book and held down the end of the bar. Both places were very welcoming to refugees and had friendly and attractive female bartenders. I stretched a couple of drinks for a couple of hours and left good tips. At home I had the Coleman lantern and the four burners of my gas stove going. Created a nice little corner where I could sit on a stool and read. Also, I had gas hot water which afforded me nice showers. I recharged my cell phone in the car. It could have a lot worse. I didn’t lose anything in my freezer. It was full and the ice maker was full so there wasn’t a lot of air space but there was a lot of frozen stuff. By 5:55 Sunday evening nothing had even begun to soften at the edges. A lost weekend but not really. Just a different one.

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  3. brian stouder said on January 7, 2008 at 10:05 am

    comment from the cheap seats: A long time ago, I clicked one of nn.c’s links over to ‘bossy’, and thought she was funny (like Rosie O’Donnel, before Rosie changed her schtick from ‘funny’ to ‘angry’)…and then today I clicked nn.c’s bossy road trip link, and laughed out loud!

    I think it would indeed be funny if the planets aligned, and she comes near enough, and schedules permit other nn.c’ers to cross-paths

    edit – MichaelG – I’m sure California is exceedingly beautiful and marvelous 94% of the time….but that other 6% looks like an absolute deal-breaker, from here!

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  4. virgotex said on January 7, 2008 at 10:19 am

    my favorite extravagant gadget is my Dyson Animal vaccum. As the only human in a large multi-species household, it’s a lifesaver and worth every penny. (and it cost a lot of pennies) Completely out of character for me to buy something like that and I have never regretted it for a second.

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  5. MichaelG said on January 7, 2008 at 10:20 am

    You pays your money and you takes your choice, Brian. We don’t have really cold weather or ice and snow here. Mid thirties overnight is about it. We also don’t have tornados. Just think of poor Fernley NV where it flooded badly and then froze.

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  6. Sue said on January 7, 2008 at 11:07 am

    1. I know there’s a big controversy over the Parade article, but I’ve never thought of Parade as anything other than a fluffy insert. Have I missed something?
    2. I’m jealous because Bossy’s coming to visit you. She has to; it’s a given.
    3. When Bossy comes to visit, make sure you have a good assortment of fabulous, fabulous Michigan wines. If I didn’t make it to northern lower Michigan every year on vacation I’d have to come just to restock my wine supply.

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  7. LAMary said on January 7, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Watch out for the hinges on the simplehuman kitchen can to break. I have the model sold in Target for 99 dollars, and within three months the plastic hinges broke. Luckily, the in-house Brit is a tinkerer and he made two new hinges from metal. They work the same way but won’t fall apart as easily. We bought the simplehuman precisely to keep dog noses out of the trash, and it works perfectly in that way.

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  8. alex said on January 7, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Now if they’d come up with a Simplehuman toilet to keep the dog noses out. Dogs seem especially fond of the Kohler low-flow models I have in place right now, especially when the requisite three flushes still haven’t done the job.

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  9. Peter said on January 7, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Virgotex – you’re right about the Dyson – I have one and it looks and works great. My only complaint is that is sucks so much stuff up I have to constantly empty the canister – and before you ask, I vacuum on a regular basis (of course, annually is a regular basis…)

    Alex – next time, use a Toto. The Japanese are obsessed with the whole toilet experience, and their products rock. You can flush a sunday paper down the Toto.

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  10. alex said on January 7, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Just read about Toto and you ain’t a-shittin’.

    They’re even launching a model that performs urinalysis. Perfect for those days when ya gotta bone up for a pee test.

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  11. Kim said on January 7, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    What did you read, MichaelG? We haven’t had one in a while, but hurricanes and nor-easters have taken out the power for up to two weeks here. It can be a nice break, at least the first few days. I confess to having wept when the power went back on after two weeks down.

    The simplehuman trash can provided some hilarity at a friend’s Jan. 1 drink-one-more-time fest. The house was crowded, and any time anyone backed up to the low-profile can it opened as if waiting for a deposit. I laughed so many times I thought I’d become a junior high schooler. Again.

    On the Parade weirdness: What I thought was so totally bizarre (beyond the fact they ran it post-mortem) was that this Parade story had a point of view that pretty much called out Benazir as a liar, thief and killer.

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  12. MichaelG said on January 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Nothing heavy. A Doc Ford book by Randy Wayne White and East 47th by Gerald Browne.

    What’s this about fabulous Michigan wines?

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  13. Mindy said on January 7, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    We had one of those knock-off lever action corkscrews and it worked well for about six weeks. Didn’t like it well enough to replace it with the real thing, though. So it’s back to the ancient wing-action corkscrew. Wine doesn’t need to be any easier for me to get to than it already is.

    The crazy Labrador that we had some years ago was prescribed a visit with the Last Word in animal behavior, at Purdue. When he was told of the outrageous doggy antics that we endured, he dismissed the part about tissue obsession as being considered normal for any dog. But Ole was an accomplished pickpocket. He could extract a Kleenex from the front pocket of his victim’s sweatpants without the wearer even knowing he was in the room.

    Dorothy – I haven’t forgotten my promise to send along any of my Avon Christmas gifts that you might want. Just as I feared, this is the year that my mother-in-law finally decided to give up on giving me jewelry. Murphy and his Law are active in my life once again. But there’s a lip balm and Skin So Soft soap and moisturizer for you if you want them.

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  14. virgotex said on January 7, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    My only complaint is that is sucks so much stuff up I have to constantly empty the canister

    Exactly. Until you use a Dyson, you have no idea how dirty your floor really is, even when it looks clean.

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  15. nancy said on January 7, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    I didn’t read the Bhutto story, Kim. Here in Gannett country, we get USA Weekend, although I can’t tell you what’s on that cover, either, because I pull the funnies, Target and Kohl’s supplements out and ignore everything else. Parade killed the newspaper roto magazine, and speaking as one who worked (briefly) for one, that’s an unforgivable sin.

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  16. Dorothy said on January 7, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Mindy the only thing I’m interested in is the Care Deeply lip balm. I’ve been trying to get in touch with a rep here but I get breathy emails from these gals, but no catalogs or phone calls. How do they do any business?!? I’ll be glad to reimburse you for postage! Ask Nancy for my email address and she’ll turn it over to you. Then you and I can communicate directly. I had forgotten all about this. You’re a peach to remember me!

    Oh gosh the ROTO magazine, Nance! I just loved the hell out of our Roto at the Post Gazette! I hadn’t thought about it in years.

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  17. Connie said on January 7, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    My favorite Michigan wines are Leelanau Cellars and Tabor Hill. Around here you can buy them at Meijers, though I’ve been to both tasting rooms. Leelanau Cellars regularly. Other interesting alcoholic things I’ve enjoyed in the state include Shady Lane (Suttons Bay) Cherry Port, Warner Brothers in Paw Paw fruit sparkling wines.

    Madonna’s father owns a winery in Leelanau County, I don’t know which one, but I do occasionally hear rumors of Madonna sightings.

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  18. nancy said on January 7, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    I can also recommend Black Star Farms’ offerings, especially the non-oaky chardonnay. They make ice wine, too, and that fruity spirit where they hang the bottles on the pear tree and the fruit grows inside. Eau de Vie, I think it’s called.

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  19. MichaelG said on January 7, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Eau de Vie is a generic term for a distilled fruit brandy. They make the stuff in every country from every sort of fruit imaginable. It’s usually clear. Another generic term for it is WHOOEEE! Actually, some of it isn’t bad. I know the fruit in the bottle stuff you are thinking of but I can’t recall the name. I’ll look around and see if anybody sells Michigan wine here.

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  20. Sue said on January 7, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    The winery belonging to Madonna’s dad is Ciccone Winery. He specializes in wines that are more dry so I’m not a fan, but my brother in law is. Plus it’s a gorgeous winery, with a place to hold weddings etc. Never seen Madonna there, though. I noticed last summer that more and more wineries in that area are charging for tastings (about $2 for a four/six taste assortment, usually). It takes the fun out of it a little bit, but I guess I can understand it if too many people do tours without buying anything. My favorites: Gill’s Pier, Good Harbor, Lelanau Cellars, Longview, Peninsula Cellars, St. Julian. I just love those Michigan fruit wines.

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  21. john c said on January 7, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    I like Black Star as well, though as I recall it’s not cheap. Great tasting room, though. Kids can go look at the horses. PLus Suttons Bay is a nice little town.

    As for corkscrews, we got one of those fancy ones awhile back and I couldn’t get it to work, which made me feel like a moron. As an old waiter, though, I still prefer the pocket-knife style. I love the action of cutting the foil with a little knife, then placing the screw just so and deftly spinning it and popping that sucker out.

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  22. LAMary said on January 7, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    The fruit in the bottle stuff is called Pear William, or William’s Pear, some variation on those words.

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  23. brian stouder said on January 7, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    is called Pear William, or William’s Pear, some variation on those words

    How’s about “impaired Bill”, as in this story –

    an excerpt

    Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly had a confrontation with a staffer for Barack Obama’s campaign that the aide and several eyewitnesses claim became physical.

    The incident began when O’Reilly tried to get Obama’s attention after a Nashua campaign event. He allegedly began yelling at Obama’s National Trip Director Marvin Nicholson to get out of the way. O’Reilly then, according to eyewitness accounts, shoved the staffer.


    Then the Secret Service intervened to ask O’Reilly to step back behind the barricade that marked the press area.

    Honestly, if a secret service guy ‘accidently’ broke Billo’s arm, it would have been A-OK. (by way of saying, the Bhutto image remains with me – an no chucklehead should be pushing past security barricades at any of the major candidates’ events)

    Or, in the interest of equal opportunity rotten apples for impaired Bill’s, didja hear what Bill I-still-got-a-big-pair Clinton, said at a rally in NH? At lunchtime I saw a clip of him saying something like –

    What can I do? I can’t make her younger! I can’t make her taller! I can’t make her a man! (couldn’t find a link on it)

    That guy seems to be distancing himself from his wife’s potential defeat! What a moron!! He should either shut up and stay home, or else stay 4-square behind his wife….but not this too-cute-by-half distancing from possible defeat. He could take lessons in loyalty and teamwork from Elizabeth Edwards – a person so dedicated to her husband’s campaign that, really, SHE is the more attractive candidate

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  24. LAMary said on January 7, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Off topic but I need to vent:

    We went out for dinner last night at a fairly nice place we’ve been to quite a few times. It was my birthday and the two offspring and the in-house Brit cleaned up nicely and took me out. Near us was a table with five adults and four children, all between 5 and 10 in age, I’d say. The kids were noisy, running around, hitting each other, playing rock paper scissors at the top of their lungs and screaming. At my table we couldn’t carry on a conversation. We couldn’t hear each other. The parents of those kids were having a nice shouting conversation, but since they were sort of drunk that worked for them. I mentioned the kids to the waiter and he did nothing.
    I have kids. I’m not a grouch. My kids would not ever run through restaurants. They wouldn’t scream in restaurants. If they got loud, they got spoken to or removed from the scene. They weren’t angels but they also were not horrid brats. Do some parents think every sound emitted by the fruit of their loins is precious or do the just not give a flying?

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  25. nancy said on January 7, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    They don’t give a flying.

    It double-bugs me because I’m pretty tolerant of kid noise, generally. Most mothers are. If it’s loud enough to bug a mom, it’s really too loud.

    But this just gives more fodder to the nastier wing of the child-free movement, that would just as soon ban all kids from public life, unless they can be absolutely silent. That’s not realistic. Babies cry, kids use outside voices inside, etc. Learning not to do so is part of their socialization, and they’re part of the human family, after all. But there has to be a limit. I’m far more sympathetic with a parent who’s clearly trying to quiet a loud kid than one whose coping strategy is: Order another drink.

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  26. Cathy said on January 7, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Right on, Virgotex. We vacuumed in the morning the day we got our Dyson Animal with our Oreck. When we brought our animal home, we were pleased and scared all at once. There was so much dog hair, carpet fuzz, and general dirt in the Dyson canister. We were happy that it was now “that clean” but scared because we had lived with it “that dirty” for years.

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  27. MaryC said on January 7, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    The Dyson Animal sounds like something my mom has been looking for (she has a Lab, a golden retriever and a tabby cat). But her floors are hardwood or tile — is it meant for carpets only?

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  28. alex said on January 7, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Quite an adjustment, yet again, moving back from Chi-Town to Hoosiertucky.

    Meals cost about a third to one-half, but the tradeoff is screaming out-of-control children. It’s particularly bad in these parts. Try correcting the bastards when they’re at your table messing with your dinner and the parents will take it as a personal affront to their parenting skills.

    Must’ve been some midwesterners, Mary.

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  29. ashley said on January 7, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    alex, you could have just gone out to Naperville. Then the meals are the same price, but there are screaming, out of control children. The best of both worlds!

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  30. brian stouder said on January 7, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Pikers! Do a hot summer’s day at some theme park (or whatever) – and then regardless where you go to eat dinner, the kids are pie-eyed and fried….the cool air hits ’em, and they go into trance-state.

    But, more seriously, Pam and I have always had one unbreakable rule – which is that kiddos don’t leave the table. Pammy also doesn’t go for the kids pointing or gawking in a restaurant, and they pretty much don’t do that (which is more than I can say for some adults we’ve seen!)

    I recall nn.c’s post about parents with hyper kiddos, and frankly – if one of our children had that affliction, we simply wouldn’t eat out – or at least, not at places fancier than a burger joint. Honestly, most restaurants will take orders over the phone for pick-up, and we have found that to be a good alternative to saddling up the whole crew when the weather is uncooperative, or whatever.

    By way of saying – if Mary was saying that she was less-than-happy with the wait-staff, I agree. One would think that they could have said a word to the other table – even if it had no effect the effort would have been appreciated….or they could have offered you a little something extra – an appetizer or dessert (especially since it was your birthday!)

    And – Happy Birthday!

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  31. basset said on January 7, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    we have a golden retriever, a calico cat, and an Animal 17… it is indeed amazing how much that thing picks up even after you think the carpet’s clean. took us awhile to figure out what all the attachments were, though.

    wine… Camelot Mead from the Oliver Winery outside Bloomington. back when I was at IU it was a dollar-69 a bottle and sealed with wax.

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  32. del said on January 8, 2008 at 8:23 am

    We went to dinner at a nice restaurant with a couple with two very young children. The mother was at her wits end and during the meal she had something almost resembling a psychotic break (aided by alcohol). Just decided to ignore the kids altogether. I’ll not soon forget having to rescue her toddler and as the kiddie ambled about the swinging kitchen doors under waiters carrying full trays.

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