Corps

I’m quite impressed with myself. I’m watching this thing about the battle of Chickamauga and I’m looking at the map and I’m like “Bragg’s corps are too far apart to support one another.” You can kind of see how European observers were unimpressed by American commanders in the civil war. Their corps were always all over the place and they have no real concept of a unit smaller than a division. They had no concept of finding good ground or using the terrain, Gettysburg stands out as an exception to this actually. Reconnaissance was next to non-existent, armies were always running into each other and wherever they met, that’s where they fought.

Also they don’t really know what to do with a corps, it’s just a way of breaking up an army to make it more manageable to them. They’re not like Napoleonic or European armies of the time where they’re keeping their corps all within a day’s march of each other and aggressively scouting until one corps makes contact with the enemy main body on good ground and then pinning it in place so that the rest of the army can manoeuvre into a good position. American armies collide with one another and then every unit piles in like a bar brawl. On top of all this there’s no concept of combined arms, infantry are doing their thing, cavalry their thing and the artillery are hammering away and getting the three to work together is something that few civil war commanders ever really master.

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I don’t even…………

I really don’t know where to start with tonight. She puts this post on FB saying that she needs someone to go with her to a gig. So I text her and we meet up. We start drinking and eventually it gets to the point where I tell her that I’m in love with her and she says that she doesn’t believe me and that she’s not good enough and that I overestimate her……

I don’t even know what to say to that other than “bullshit” which is what I said. I don’t get it! I dribble over her for four years and she doesn’t understand that I want her and only her?

Cutting

I swear it’s a mystery to my parents how I manage to produce succulent, tender roasts. For me it’s no mystery, I find out the weight then I use a calculator to figure out how long it needs to cook at what temperature. Today was easier since I figure that not much burns at 75C. Then there’s the fact that dad can’t actually use a knife so he’s there hacking away at it and trying to saw it and I’m like, “You actually have to use the blade of of the weapon”.

This is something I picked up in Aikido. Yeah, I know. My instructor is fond of the phrase, “It’s just like cutting through meat” when we’re doing sword work, immediately following which someone points out that a human being is meat and so it’s not so much like cutting through meat, it actually is cutting through meat. So in Aikido we learn to make nice long cuts, not sawing actions so that the tip of the blade lands then the next bit bites in, then the next bit and so on until you have eviscerated your opponent. Well a beef rib is no different; you drag the knife along the cut, lift it a little and the drag it along the cut again and, shockingly, this produces nice neat cuts and nice neat slices of beef. You never push the knife into the meat, or your opponent, because then it will get stuck and you’ll never get the fucking thing out.

Needless to say the beef rib was tender and as melt in the mouth as you can imagine and there was plenty left, I went back and cut myself a slab about an inch and a half thick and maybe four inches across for seconds. You can tell my cuts, they’re straight and neat. They are in fact surgical. Yagyu Munenori would be impressed.

Munchies.

At this rate I’m going to be shitfaced by the time chrimbo dinner gets on the table. This is in fact partly my fault in that I’m doing the meat, which is a rib of beef and I’m slow roasting it. So I’ve done that, which took four hours and then blasted it at 250 for ten minutes to put some colour on it. If I’d have rolled out of bed and done this earlier it’d been dished up earlier.

I’ve made yorkshire pudding……………..it’s eight inches high………..

Whisky

I kind of find whisky to be a metaphor for living well. Single malt scotch whisky that is, forget your bourbons, tennessee whiskey, blended shit, and Haig Club can fuck right off.  There are a million ways to get pissed, if you really want to you can pick up two litres of cider for £1 and get mashed off that, there are your chemical beers like Stella Artois and Carling, your dishwater like Budweiser, Miller and Coors which is really, as I see it, for teenagers. Then there are things like your craft ales and your single malts.

The thing about the latter two is that a little bit of effort goes a long way, if you take the time to try them out, do a bit of reading about them then you can find stuff which is really good and which elevates a drinking session from simply getting pissed to appreciating what is literally a work of art. You’ll never crack open a can of normal beer or any of those shit attempts at whisky and sit there sipping away experiencing the way the flavours subtly change. You won’t be there after an hour enjoying the after taste, still sipping away as you notice more and more complexity in the flavour and the texture. You won’t get that bizarre experience when you stick your nose in the glass and holy shit, yeah, there is a hint of vanilla and a touch of banana and, yeah, that does balance ever so well with the oak and the tobacco notes. You don’t get to sit with friends and share this experience either.

Gman has a love of brandy and cognac and before I got into whisky it all tasted pretty much the same to me and it tasted bad, it was like rat’s piss as far as I was concerned. Whisky used to be like this for me too, all whisky tasted just of “whisky” and it was horrible. Then Gman’s dad, let’s call him Papa Gman for shits and giggles, Papa Gman loves Talisker and we were out on a canal boat one day, shit faced, and he pulls out his hip flask and starts passing it around. I was at that point where I was pissed enough to drink anything and I was drinking this Talisker and it grew on me. So I started trying out different whiskies and they all tasted pretty much the same to begin with but now apparently my palate has become “refined” and I taste and smell all those subtleties now. So now when Gman offers me a brandy or a cognac I actually appreciate it and I enjoy it. It’s not as good as a whisky, even the really expensive nonsense that Gman buys which is like £300 a bottle doesn’t compete, as I see it, with a decent 12 year or so whisky because whisky tends to be produced in more complex ways which gives it more complexity.

The point I’m driving at is that it enriches my life, it makes getting pissed better, I can drink to appreciate as well as getting hammered, it improves things taste wise, smell wise, even socially. There’s something social about whisky, you can talk about it, share it, people are curious about it and it has that mystique about it. There’s nothing quite like plonking a bottle down in the middle of a room to get things going.

This is how I pretty much approach life, how can I make the everyday, the mundane, the boring, better? What’s the next level up from this? What’s the more sophisticated way of doing whatever that makes it even just a little bit better and helps to elevate life above mere survival.

Whisky

I have a small bottle of Talisker off C. I still have a glass or so of Talisker left from the last bottle I bought so I have no immediate need to crack it open. I might leave it until New Year since I’m supposed to be going to a party so I’m kinda thinking of buying a small bottle of The Balvenie so that I have two bottles of good whisky to take with me.