Lemon Cake and Orange Tuiles

One of my favorite pastry chef just turned 30 so I figure it would be a good opportunity for me to bake something for the party. I believe she was pleased.
The stripes on the side are a bit more subtle than I wanted though.

Lemon zest genoise filled with a mix of lemon buttercream and lemon cream.
Top with yellow almond paste and orange tuiles.

I also made some meringue, sugar work and other tuile cookies but ended up not using any of that really.

Orange Tuiles:

Thin 3 inch tall sides made of genoise + tuiles dough (up side down here)

After filling, placing the side around the cake and topping with almond paste:

Final touch with lemon drops and some orange tuiles 

Summer vacations 2018

Summer vacations went pretty well.  I worked on fixing small things in the house.

Pruned all the trees and got rid of all the branches. Pressure washed the fence and re-stained it. Pressure washed the flagstones along the sidewalk. Refinished a window that was in fairly bad state. Built a window screen from scratch. Cleaned up my front porch adding some furniture. Fixed a few concrete cracks around the house and repainted. Also completely refinished the air intake grid on the floor of the main entrance (it was disgusting really). Refinished the door step. Fixed some electrical, updated the street number and a few other small things…

 
The paint looked awful and the wood was in bad shape
Rotten Wood Frame
Building a new window screen in oak

After stripping the paint, using wood petrifier & wood epoxy, repainting the window inside and out and finally reattaching the new window screen.

View from inside

After trimming the trees I made little bundles (like 20 of them) to make it easier to get rid of them.
I ended up renting a roll off dumpster with the neighbors to trash everything.

Power washing the flagstones. It took forever but the difference is clearly visible.

Power washing the fence + re-nailing some planks + new oil stain

New street number using the color of the house

 


Removed the wood grid (picture below) which was disgusting, scrubbed & cleanup the air intake and painted it in black (because you know...)

A century worth of "I don't even want to know what that is" sticky dirt. Actually had to use a dremel tool + hand filing the whole thing

 


After cleanup. Staining with a tiny brush...

 


Door step. Wood plank was in poor shape and the paint on the flag stone was just wrong. Who paint such a nice stone anyway???

Three coats of stain later + 2 days of scrubbing the stone with everything I could find including muriatic acid.


Adding some furniture + carpet on the patio. Now I can enjoy the rest of my vacations...oh wait, it's all gone! :)

The law of unintended consequences

Never fall for the the so-called “law of unintended consequences” excuse by government.

Firstly, intentions cannot be known with any degree of certainty. The logical demonstration is easy enough; Individuals can lie and individual don’t read mind. Of course you can always choose to trust someone’s pretend “intentions” but the very action of choosing to do so is a choice and this choice is the sole responsibility of the individuals making that choice. It certainly doesn’t absolve the lawmaker in any way.

Secondly, actions should only be judged by their consequences.If you have doubts; just ask the victims and those who are actually paying for the consequences. Whether they were intentional or not makes no difference to them.

This “law of unintended consequences” has been used quite a lot during the past decade by governments trying to move the focus away from the actuality of their policies to their supposedly good intentions. This is a very dangerous slope as we’re seeing more and more populist politicians (Bernie Sanders comes to mind) making ridicule promises while completely ignoring the consequences of the policies they advocate. As with misdirection in the field of magic, the whole purpose of this trend is simply to move the attention of the audience towards the good intentions of the politicians.

A great example of that is the price fixing of drugs by European governments in order to help keep the price of health care down. The actual consequence of this policy was that for the past three or four decades the spending in Research and Development by drug companies collapsed by two third. Governments tried – and failed – to offset this by financing some (about one third) of the research…with tax money obviously. The end result is that people are still paying the same price but via two different channels instead of one. The unfortunate consequence is that most of the new drugs are developed by American companies. European companies find it cheaper to just buy formulas and sell the drugs in their own markets.

Pretending that these policies actually work for Europe is incredibly short sighted. We live in a global market and judging these policies locally is always a mistake. Trying to impose the same policies in the US would have deadly consequences not only in the US but also in Europe and most likely in other countries who have knowingly made themselves dependent on US research.

This is just one example out of many. For the past century Europe has made the choice of impairing freedom for the sake for security. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, Amazon Prime, Netflix, Apple, AirBNB and a hundred others didn’t magically appear in the US by accident. Putting in place regulation impairing private companies in the US will have exactly the same consequences that the same policies had in Europe.  the systematic killing of entrepreneurship.
There’s a good reason why you don’t have a single European application running on your phone or your computer today. Pretending that countries of Europe “work” just fine with their ever increasing regulations and tax burden is ridicule. They don’t. They survive as a parasite would; fed by the incredibly creative engine of the United States.

Unfortunately we live in the world where the majority of people seems to favor reassurance over truth – this not only from the news outlets but also from their politicians. I don’t doubt people will elect more populists in the future. Whether or not the last bulwark against the dictatorship of the majority – the US Constitution – will hold is anybody’s guess. Out of the three branches of government the executive will fail no doubt. The legislative has been incredibly complacent and weak to the point where the constitutionalists in Congress could be counted on the fingers of one hand. It’s really no wonder then that the focus has been on the judicial branch lately. Ben Sasse’s lesson of civic aimed at Congress last week was brilliant and absolutely on target. Those who expect the Supreme Court to legislate are not doing it by accident. They know that in order to successfully achieve their majoritarian agenda the last domino has to fall.

My two cents…

I’m very glad to be a Libertarian these days. It gives me the luxury of passing judgment on both main political parties while – I hope – remaining objective about it. With this being said I think there are several mistakes Democrats have been making in their handling of the current situation.
First, attacking a bully is never a good strategy. The current US President pretty much thrives on that. It’s even more ridiculous considering most attacks are actually personal. There’s a reason DJ Trump is toping 50% in the polls. Turns out “The boy who cried Wolf” is a very good tale. Almost two years in and those out there supporting the president are not going to change their mind over a video of him banging every single bunny of the Playboy mansion. I would even go farther here and say this; even if Democrats came out with something VERY meaningful against the president I’m ready to bet nobody would even trust that bit of information and this, right there, is why it was probably overall a bad strategy from the beginning.

I believe negotiation and compromise was the way to go. To say that DJ Trump is not someone that has a very strong ideological foundation would be the understatement of the year. In fact he has changed his mind on so many things over the decades that it’s difficult to keep track.
Libertarians, well, you know, we don’t compromise much. When you know what you’re doing, when you know where you’re going, a compromise is essentially something that will weaken your position. “Trade” is what we do. “Compromise”? Not so much.
On the other hand the US President would have given anything to his opponent – under the table obviously to keep face – and brag about achieving less than half of his agenda if it had come to that. Instead, here we are, with DJ Trump going full speed in one direction while the other half is portrayed in the conservative media as being hysterical and not in a funny ha ha sort of way.

The 2016 election was a mess. But it wasn’t the Republicans’ mess; it was the Democrats’. Republicans did the work. They showed up with 20+ candidates from every possible background and essentially just presented a diverse offering for the American people to choose from. Democrats? Well, let’s cut the crap for a minute here; the DNC showed up with one candidate with every intention of shoving that candidate down the throat of everybody. Why? My personal take is that Hillary had to lie about the Benghazi fiasco and essentially took the fall to protect her boss in the very close race of the 2012 US election. In exchange she was promised the presidency. There are other theories but what is clear is that the election was set from the beginning and most people saw through it. Polls with 14 percent more democrats in their – not so representative – sample of the population by NBC? Check. “Estimates” by Bloomberg, The Hills and many others popping up every five minutes on my Twitter feed on election night showing a 99% chance of Hillary winning? Check. CNN giving questions to the DNC to tilt the balance towards Hillary? Check. Increase media time for Hillary compared to every other candidates? Check.
By the way, every single one of those things are considered illegal in that beautiful Europe Democrats pretend to love so much. This absolute Freedom of Press is quite unique in the US – and I welcome it – but it requires that individuals be more critical of their media; certainly not less.

It was the responsibility of the Democrats to come out in 2016 and say; this ridiculous media bias is unacceptable. Instead, and if my facebook timeline is any indication, half of the Democrats remained silent on the subject while the other half decided that since a win was assured it would be okay to behave like self righteous arrogant assholes spending the entire year vomiting their hatred of the other half. Well, that blew up in their faces alright…

Fast forward two years and the reality is that the Democratic Party has made no effort to fix itself. It came out of the 2016 election in a shamble and it still hasn’t regained any credibility. Ask a Bernie Sanders voter about it if you don’t believe me.

Truth is, Donald J Trump wasn’t elected for who he is. The people who voted for him did it for very two simple reasons which remain true to this day; 1) He’s not Hillary Clinton. 2) He is an ‘outsider’ of the main political parties. Turns out any ‘big mouth’ would have won the election. Hell, I’m ready to bet Dennis Miller would have won. Anne Coulter would have won. Let that sink in. This actually goes a long way explaining why the US President seems immune in the polls. Turns out, the two aforementioned affirmations are still true and will remain true no matter what.

There’s an even bigger threat for the Democrats that should be mentioned here. When 2024 comes the Republican party won’t have any problem throwing DJ Trump under the bus presenting him for who he actually is – an outsider – then quietly offer a “real change” embodied by an actual member of the Conservative / Republican party.

My conclusion is that Democrats need to clean up the mess they created. The DNC needs to acknowledge some “dysfonctionnement” (I’m being very polite here), chop off a few heads very publicly and regain control of the party. Ideologically it needs to make a choice between mainstream Democrats and far left socialists and take another very public stand in that regards.

With the midterms election approaching fast I think time is running out. I don’t see any “Blue Wave” in the near future. The GOP will gain a few seats – possibly three – in the Senate and lose a few seats in the House of Representative – my guesstimates is nine seats.

As for the Libertarian Party you ask? Well, I’m afraid it will remain unpopular as long as people refuse to acknowledge the strong bond between Liberty and Personal Responsibility but that’s a different story.

Something to think about…

For no particular reason – that I’m aware of anyway – I thought about “Atlas Shrugged” in a new light last night. I used to see the individualist, objectivist and logical aspect of the book and I valued the story for it. But there’s a completely different aspect I’ve been ignoring so far that seems to be far more important and relevant today. In fact the main question Ayn Rand asks strikes me this morning as the most important one anybody can ask; when would you quit? In other word; how far does a society of Men as to go for you – a self sufficient, productive individual – to say; “Stop, I will no longer support this madness.”

Essentially the book is about John Galt refusing to gift his community with his new invention, leaving a society he despises to its own predictable collapse.

There’s a certain percentage of individual who are a positive force to their community today. They pay taxes and not to be too blunt but these taxes are used for anything from the financing of K-12 to the bombing of Yemenite children.

Let’s forget about D.J. Trump since by any standard is a pretty melow president regardless of what some seems to believe. Instead, let’s project ourselves to 2024 and the election of a new American president. Let’s assume this newly elected president decides that the starving of the Venezuelan people by Maduro has been going on for too long and starts bombing down the place. Then the US President start ranting about Iran and decide to send an armed force. What else? Bomb Saudi Arabia as pay back for 9/11? Triple the military involvement in Afghanistan to put an end to the longest armed conflict in centuries? I’m sure there’s some place in western Africa we could bomb to…
I think by now you see the point. How far your own elected government as to go for you to either leave the country or possibly take up arm against your own government and bring it down?

Obviously if you’re single and have no kids it’s an ‘easy’ decision. After all, you just have to pack everything, leave behind your family, your friends and the culture you – used to – love. Then again if you factor in the love of your life it gets more complicated. Adding kids to the equation and it’s a whole different animal.

Talking is cheap. The whining and crying over Trump that has been going on for almost two years tells us that much. “To act” is far more difficult. An hypothetical would be helpful here. Luckily human History provides us with plenty of despicable leaders. We could very well use Adolf as an example – it’s very fashionable these days – but let’s take Stalin instead for the sake of variety. Between the starvation of his own people, the eugenic policies, the systematic killing of jews, the murder of political opponents and the completely random mass assassination of people for the sake of absolute control we have plenty enough for our hypothetical. Let me remind you of the question here; Where would you have stopped financing that society?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Chances are you would have done nothing different than the previous generations. You would have used every rationalization possible to justify your indolence and docility towards the most murderous system of government. It’s nothing special really. Most people would. I think that’s what makes the question raised by Ayn Rand so pertinent even today. It forces every individual to look deeply into the mirror, to gather all the honesty an individual can muster and forces that individual to answer; “what is my breaking point?”

Little Bear Peak

There are 58 Peaks of +14000ft in Colorado. I’ve now hiked / climbed 57 of them. Culebra Peak (the private 14er) is left. I have mixed feelings about paying $150 for the permit and the place is closed for the season anyway so I have to wait for October 1st.

Little Bear peak is a whole different animal compared to the other Colorado 14ers. Very short in terms of distance but very steep. There are essentially three parts;
1) An 800ft climb in a steep gully full of rocks
2) A long hike on the southern slope going up 1000ft
3) Final climb through the infamous ‘Hourglass’

I met a group of climbers on my way up so I had some good company for most of the climb.