The Cost of Bread and the Metric System

“The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that’s the way I likes it.”
-Abraham “Grampa” Simpson

Working, as I have for the last month, in a bakery that specializes in bread, I have a few observations.  The first regards the metric versus the imperial system of measurements.  Why anyone would choose willingly to use pounds and ounces to measure anything simply boggles my mind.  The simple act of altering quantities of measurements requires a calculator far too frequently.  But that’s really more of an aside.  The company I work for (being owned by former Americans) uses imperial measurements, but that’s just something I have to put up with.  No, I have another rant planned for today. Continue reading

Victorian Day

“There are those who affect to ridicule the study of obsolete weapons, alleging that it is of no practical use; everything, however, is useful to the Art of Fence which tends to create an interest in it, and certain it is that such contests as Rapier and Dagger, Two hand Sword, or Broadsword and Handbuckler, are a very great embellishment to the somewhat monotonous proceedings of the ordinary assault of arms.”
-Alfred Hutton, 1892

Happy Victoria Day everyone.  It seems fitting that on this day celebrating the reign of Queen Victoria I share a celebration of a Victorian gentleman of great import to the Western Martial Arts world.  One Alfred Hutton. Continue reading

French Bread Villians

DSCF2338We all know bread has a long and storied history.  Did you know that there is a connection to the fencing world as well?  It’s true.  Cardinal Richelieu, the villain of the famous novel The Three Musketeers was actually responsible for implementing many bread laws in France.  He dictated the laws regarding the ingredients that could be used, which led to the classic french bread we know today.  I don’t know that he had anything to do with the shape, but it doesn’t seem unlikely.  So there you have it.  Cardinal Richelieu, antagonist to the King’s Musketeers and father of the baguette.  Bet you didn’t know that, did you?

Sword and Buckler Man

Swashbuckler.  Swashing your buckler.  The term swashbuckler may refer to the sound sword make as young English ruffians bash them against their bucklers as they prowled the streets looking for a fight.  I’m not entirely sure I believe in that origin of the word, but it’s an explanation that, despite being a little too pat for my tastes, works as well as any.  This small, handheld shield was ridiculously popular throughout so very much of history.  But why? Continue reading

Temperate Feelings

There are two sides to the Stoic virtue of temperance.  There is the ideal of taking the pleasures of life in moderation and there is the ability to moderate one’s emotional response.  The latter is a rare art, it seems and recently I’ve seen a few examples of people spewing meaningless hatred towards various groups.  At one time I would feel anger at this.  Now my emotions tend towards pity.  Hatred is often quoted as being harmful to both sides of any issue, but not only that it is my feeling that hatred is a truly useless emotion that should be purged wherever possible. Continue reading

Ingredient In Depth: Pineapple

If ever there was an intimidating fruit, it is the pineapple.  I think a lot of people are lost when it comes to this semi-exotic treat.  I keep hearing how they’re hard to pick, difficult to choose and baffling to use as anything other than an offensive weapon.  Fear not gentle traveler, there are answers to be found and paths we can take to greater pineapple understanding.  Anything here can be done with canned pineapple, but fresh is far better. Continue reading