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Wow! My reaction reading these words:

“I continue to be immensely moved by the impermanence of hotels: not in any mundane Travel-and-Leisure way but with a fervor bordering on the transcendent (…) And who knows but maybe that’s what’s waiting for us at the end of the journey, a majesty unimaginable until the very moment we find ourselves walking through the doors of it, what we find ourselves gazing at in astonishment when God finally takes His hands off our eyes and says, “Look.”

I’m on the last pages of the 771 page “The Goldfinch.”
Positively in love with the book.

On these last pages, Theo, the hero, is recalibrating his life by solo-traveling all over America and some points in Europe, repaying clients whose money he took under false pretenses.
It’s been a year of non-stop travel.

Recall now my past solo auto trip to New Orleans and my impending 30-day trip to Jackson Hole, WY.
Recall the naming of my blog/Web Site: “existentialautotrip.com” because of the mindset the traveling engendered.

Can you imagine my surprise, my excitement, really, reading these near-closing lines from “The Goldfinch?”
My soul mate responding as I did to an extended solo-travel:

“I continue to be immensely moved by the impermanence of hotels: not in any mundane Travel-and-Leisure way but with a fervor bordering on the transcendent…”

Wondering if Theo will also start a blog.

One interesting note is that Theo sees differences in hotel rooms.
I found them so monotonously near-identical that I created an “Idiot Sheet” to tell me on awakening each morning where I was and where I was going.

I think it’s a matter of where we could afford to stay.
Theo in nicer hotels that may distinguish themselves.
Myself booking into standard Quality Inn types.

Intro to Post
For our post today, we welcome a dear friend, a diligent scholar, and a prolific writer, Howard Dinin.
I love everything he writes.

Today is Friday, August 10
This is my 122nd consecutive daily posting.
Time is 5.14am and the weather continues in the mid-80s, humid.
Today’s dinner is either Chicken Soup (I made last night) or leftover duck. We’ll see.

Blogger’s Comment

From Tommie Toner by way of South Carolina

Dom, I love reading your blog. You make me think!
For example, I had never thought of the difference between baking and roasting much less "owning the concept is the license to intelligently experiment."

Best wishes to you in steamy Boston. It is hotter than hell here but I love it!
Love not wearing a lot of clothes much less boots, gloves, etc.
Summer is the season of freedom!
Nothing like the wind blowing through one's hair with the car windows and/or top down while driving through the live oaks and Spanish moss on the way to the beach.


Web Meister Responds:
Agree, totally. Nothing like those hot days when a fresh breeze from the ocean comes in and cools us.

Book Summary” Goldfinch

The Goldfinch is the third novel by American author Donna Tartt.
Published in 2013, it was Tartt's first novel since the publication of The Little Friend in 2002.
The Goldfinch won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, among other honors.

The novel is a Bildungsroman told in the first person by Theodore Decker who, at the age of 13, survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum in which his beloved mother dies.
Staggering out through the debris, he takes with him a small, Dutch Golden Age painting, “The Goldfinch,” which will serve as a singular source of hope as he descends into a world of crime.

The painting is one of the few surviving works by Rembrandt's most promising pupil, Carel Fabritius; nearly all of Fabritius' oeuvre was destroyed in the Delft explosion of 1654, in which the artist himself was killed.

“The Goldfinch” is told in retrospective first-person narration by Theodore "Theo" Decker, who recounts the story of his life thus far.
As a thirteen-year-old boy in New York City, Theo adores his energetic, beautiful mother—as do many other people in Manhattan.
He thinks of his father, who had walked out on them a year earlier, as an alcoholic, abusive thief.

Theo's life is turned upside down when he and his mother visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see an exhibition of Dutch masterpieces, including a favorite painting, Carel Fabritius's The Goldfinch.
There, he falls in love at first sight with a red-headed girl who is accompanied by an elderly man.
But then a terrorist bomb explodes, killing his mother and other patrons.

In the rubble, Theo encounters the old man, Welton "Welty" Blackwell, who gives him a ring and an enigmatic message before dying.
Believing that Welty is pointing at “The Goldfinch,” Theo takes it during his panicked escape.
The taking of these items (one a family heirloom handed over freely, the other a priceless and famous artwork) is done by Theo in a state of terror, concussion and shock, and he has no understanding of how these seemingly minor actions will influence the rest of his life.

Alone and determined to avoid being taken in by the city as an orphan, Theo lives with a school friend, Andy Barbour, and his wealthy family (Mr. Barbour, a pleasant man as long as he takes his prescribed medication; Mrs. Barbour, a seemingly chilly but kind socialite who likes Theo; Platt, the oldest son, a boarding school bully; Andy, 14, a genius nerd; Kitsey, 9, "a candyfloss Disney Princess"; and Toddy, the youngest).

Theo lives in the Barbours’ elegant Park Avenue apartment for several months and is fairly happy there (despite his continuing nightmares and posttraumatic stress disorder).
Unbeknownst to the Barbours, Theo carries out the last wishes of Welty and returns the ring to his family, becoming friends with James "Hobie" Hobart, Welty's partner.
He also briefly encounters the red-haired girl, Pippa, who was injured in the bombing and is being sent to live with an aunt in Texas.
Theo feels an intense bond with her but fears he will never see her again.

More to come later.

Thank You, Wiki

Question for Encyclopediacs

What is Existentialism?

Find the answer just before today’s Post below. Partial answers for partial credits.


Word of the Day:

The word literally means climbing or going beyond.
It includes philosophies, systems, and approaches that describe the fundamental structures of being as the framework of knowledge of being.
"Transcendental" is a word derived from the scholastic, designating the extra-categorical attributes of beings.

Another definition:
The existence or experience beyond the normal or physical level.

synonyms: superiority · supremacy · predominance · pre-eminence · ascendancy · incomparability · matchlessness · peerlessness · excellence · greatness · magnificence · sublimity · [more]

Thumbnail Biography:

Søren Kierkegaard's philosophy has been a major influence in the development of 20th-century philosophy, especially existentialism and postmodernism.
Kierkegaard was a 19th-century Danish philosopher who has been called the "Father of Existentialism".[
His philosophy also influenced the development of existential psychology.

He measured himself against the model of philosophy which he found in Socrates, which aims to draw one's attention not to explanatory systems, but rather to the issue of how one exists.

One of Kierkegaard's recurrent themes is the importance of subjectivity, which has to do with the way people relate themselves to (objective) truths.
In “Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments,” he argues that "subjectivity is truth" and "truth is subjectivity."
What he means by this is that most essentially, truth is not just a matter of discovering objective facts. While objective facts are important, there is a second and more crucial element of truth, which involves how one relates oneself to those matters of fact. Since how one acts is, from the ethical perspective, more important than any matter of fact, truth is to be found in subjectivity rather than objectivity.

Thank you, Wikipedia

Movie Details
“The Tree of Life” is a 2011 American experimental epic drama film written and directed by Terrence Malick and featuring a cast of Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Jessica Chastain, and Tye Sheridan in his debut feature film role.
The film chronicles the origins and meaning of life by way of a middle-aged man's childhood memories of his family living in 1950s Texas, interspersed with imagery of the origins of the known universe and the inception of life on Earth.

After several years in development and missing its planned 2009 and 2010 release dates, The Tree of Life premiered in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the Palme d'Or.
It ranked number one on review aggregator Metacritic's "Top Ten List of 2011", and made more critics' year-end lists for 2011 than any other film.
It appeared in the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll of the world's top 250 films as well as BBC's poll of the greatest American films, one of the few 21st-century works to be included in both.
The film was also later named the 7th greatest film since 2000 in a BBC poll of 177 critics.
The Tree of Life received three Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography.

Thank you, Wikipedia

Answer for Encyclopediacs
Existentialism is a tradition of philosophical inquiry associated mainly with certain 19th and 20th-century European philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual.
While the predominant value of existentialist thought is commonly acknowledged to be freedom, its primary virtue is authenticity.
In the view of the existentialist, the individual's starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude", or a sense of disorientation, confusion, or dread in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.
Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.

Søren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first existentialist philosopher, though he did not use the term existentialism.
He proposed that each individual—not society or religion—is solely responsible for giving meaning to life and living it passionately and sincerely, or "authentically".
Existentialism became popular in the years following World War II, and strongly influenced many disciplines besides philosophy, including theology, drama, art, literature, and psychology.


Today's Post

We probably eat far more than any other animal protein chicken and shrimp (I always buy the same caliper and sourcing of the latter: wild caught, shell on – would buy with the head on, but it’s virtually never available from the local fish mongers, and either 16-20 or 14-15 count to the pound; I buy a pound at a time... if I buy from the Asisan fishmonger they shell the shrimp for me, otherwise I do it and I save the shells in the freezer for elegant stock, along with frozen lobster frames and shells).

I like chicken and shrimp because they are so versatile in the dishes of dozens of world cuisines, so no dinner is ever the same, unless favorites emerge. So far Pad Thai, Paella, and Gambas sautéed au Pastis win the lottery; in six years I’ve made these many many times.

In any event, I don’t like to fuss about the vagaries of dining well at home in the modern world, and I assume nothing even within the privileged bubble of the, let’s say, top 3 or 4% I can’t pretend we are not living. It would be rare that the food stocks I draw upon would cause injury, but I am wary nonetheless. The funny thing about statistics is even with a very small risk, numbers don’t know from privilege, and so I take what have evolved as, I think, sane precautions.

I prefer to butcher my own chicken. This means I make a lot of whole roast chickens, it’s true, but I also cut up the whole chicken myself. This means I have greater control over the sourcing. There are, alas, no live chicken outlets nearby, but there is a steady supply of Amish farm free range product (costly, but fabulous). If I do buy parts, I always buy them from Whole Foods from specific sources they use, and never any less in their tiered system of grading the birds as to provenance and living conditions of Tier 3 (free range, no antibiotics or hormones, etc.). The whole chickens I buy, when from WFM, are Tier 5+

I am not, and never have been, squeamish about handling raw chicken, chicken parts, deboning them, skinning them, etc. etc., including salting, peppering, oiling, stuffing, etc. the whole bird for roasting. However, for some time, I’ve taken to a different protocol in my own kitchen. I never handle chicken without putting on a pair of latex gloves (which I keep a box of in the kitchen, and also very useful for prepping very hot peppers of various species). I only use the gloves when handling the chicken. I wash my hands repeatedly nevertheless, until I’m done. When the chicken is fully prepped and I am ready to cook, I take off the gloves and dispose of them in the trash.

I’ve stopped washing chicken beforehand. All this can do is cross contaminate whatever surfaces the water drops land on. I wash and scrub cutting boards I use, with loads of detergent and very hot water from the tap, after every chicken butchering, trimming, prepping.

Finally, I was interesested to see this article pop up (very timely, just posted two days ago) and I thought you’d be interested as well.

It was posted online with the headline “Your Chicken’s Salmonella Problem is Worse Than You Think”