Saturday, August 26, 2006

Little Italy Dinner and Movie

Last night was the last night of the season for the Little Italy movie festival. Movies are shown on the side of a building from a projector in a guy's house. One of those great Baltimore things. J and I went early to get dinner at Amiccis.

Since we were in a hurry, we didn't do the usual cocktails and then order - I just got a Peroni. I had a Ceasar salad (OK, we had a ceasar salad) to start, quite good. I had Penne Amicci, penne with sausage, mushrooms, garlic, and spinach. It was OK, but not fantastic. J had the House Gnocci, which was very good, in an excellent cream sauce with proscuitto, spinach, and roasted red peppers. Large servings, quick friendly service, and a really nice casual atmosphere. If you are looking for a quick bite to eat in Little Italy, and don't want to make reservations or dress for dinner, this is a good choice.

Wine would have been better with dinner. Amiccis does have a very limited wine list, but it befits their menu.

The movie was "Big Night", which was pretty good. We enjoyed ourselves.

(As an aside, the usual end of the season movie is "Cinema Paradiso", in Italian, with subtitles. We went a couple of years ago with my brother and his wife, who speaks Italian and had lived in Italy for a time... it's her favorite movie, and became one of mine, too. I was a little dissapointed that it wasn't shown this year.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

On Beer

Stash over at the Spamwise Chronicles is a bit of a foodie. He posted recently that he's looking for some guidance on beer, and I thought I might as well put a little something up on the subject.

First off, if you are looking for someone to explain the different styles and methods of brewing, this isn't your post. There are lots of fine resources on teh internets for that information... this is more about my opinion of some different styles for a novice beer drinker (or someone who doesn't really have a taste for beer) to try.

On the megabreweries: I'm not a fan of American Megabrewed beer. I really don't like Bud (I think it's due to the rice used in the brewing process), and there are far better choices than Coors and Miller out there. That's not to say I'm a total beer snob when it comes to Big Beer. While the popular Light beers are never in my refrigerator, I've been known to buy a 12 of MGD for those hot Saturday afternoons spent washing the cars. (Mexican and Canadian big brewed beers like Molsen, Moosehead, Corona, etc all fall into this category as well).

My favorate everyday drinkable beer is by far Yuengling Lager. It's priced pretty much the same as the Buds and Coors, but it's far, far better. An excellent example of an American Lager. Drink it cold, have it on it's own, or with typical beer food (burgers, pizza, etc).

For a more interesting beer, move into the ale, and sample any number of IPAs, nut browns, English Ales, etc. For an IPA, give Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA a go. Sam Smith's Nut Brown is pricy, but well worth it. Bass Ale, while mainstream, is a pretty decent example of what an English Ale is going to be. (On Sam Smith's, pretty much everything they make is fantastic)

Want to try something a bit heavier? Go for a Stout or a Porter. I like pretty much any Irish Stout, and there are lots of fantastic microbrewed examples of both stouts and porters. For something different, have a Brooklyn Beer Black Chocolate Stout.

Speaking of different, there are a number of beers out there with fruit flavors brewed in. Lambics aren't for everyone, but they are the 'I don't drink beer' crowd's beer of choice. I also like Magic Hat #9, a fantastic sort of pale ale with an apricot flavor.

Back to Lagerland, I'm going to lump virtually all European Lagers into one batch. There are a host of excellent German, Czech, Polish, French, and Italian Lagers to try, some good, some not. Most have a tendancy to be very 'beer' like, so if you don't really like the 'beer' taste, you probably won't spend much time here. Pilsner Urquell is probably the best known in these parts, and certainly I would give it a try. I love it. Stella Artois is also in this category, and is one of the most overhyped, dissapointing beers I've ever had. It's really just not all that.

Wheat beers: I'm not a fan, just generally not to my liking... however, these, like Lambics, are often the beer choice of people who don't much like beer. Lots of examples out there, some more wheaty, some more citrusy. Give some a try. (I can't really recommend one since I don't like them much.)

Some others of note to try: Spaten Optimator (probably my favorite beer), Blackened Voodoo, Abita Turbo Dog, Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, and finally, find the brewery closest to you, and try everything they make.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Beth Vaughan

On August 18, one of my all time favorite people died.

Beth Vaughan was a storyteller. She spent her time devoted to perfecting her craft, entertaining people, and to passing that craft on to yougsters and adults.

The Upper Nodd Players, a group of kids from the Northern Harford County area, performed improvisational fairy tales for other kids, we rehearsed at her farm, built our own sets, and learned how to tell a story from our perspective, in a way our audience could relate. She also worked with the local schools, she was an advisor for my Senior Play at North Harford High in 1988. The skills I learned from her, from the basics of movement, mime, and the ability to tell a story, I carry to this day. She made me a better person.

Without a doubt, she was one of the most influential people in my youth, and I'm very lucky to have had the opportunity to know her and learn from her. I hope I made her proud.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm confused

In Texas, the Republican party is backing a write in candidate in place of Tom Delay, who they could not get off the ballot, instead of a Libertarian who could actually win. In Connecticut, the Republican party is supporting Joe Lieberman's bid as an Independant, against a Republican on the ballot.

The Republicans I know are always telling me why I should vote for their guy, because they are the closest thing to what I think. If that's the case, why are they clearly acting to entrench statists, instead of supporting someone who can win a race who supposedly has similar views to them?

Is it because statists never like Libertarians? In both races, the Republicans may just help a Democrat get elected, and I think they are just fine with that, so long as no third party nutjob tries to rock the boat.

Friday, August 18, 2006

What unbelievable arrogance.

I guess I shouldn't be suprised, but this makes my blood boil. A judge rules the Executive branch can no longer violate the Constitution, the executive branch says... 'no.' Frankly, I think a judge should be able to remove the President from power if he ignores this order, and most certainly he should be impeached.

Where are all of the holier than thou Republicans who thought it terrible Clinton thought he was above the law, and that he thought the ends justified the means.

The President says his illegal actions save lives. How is that NOT the same thing?

Somehow, I doubt Rush is going to point this out today.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Dinner at Helen's Garden

Fantastic meal at Helen's last night with J.

I had the Pepper Cured Tuna Carpaccio as an appetizer, then the Blackened Beef Salad for dinner. Everything was fantastic, I would like to have had more beef on the salad, but for $12, I can't really complain.

Absolut martini with good conversation and the tuna, Estancia Pinot Noir ($9/glass) with the entree. Not a bad pairing, the wine was a bit overpowered by the food. Basic, not too dry, good fruit without too much sweetness, I guess you'd call it balanced. Probably better with a milder beef dish, and I'd bet it would go well with a stroganoff or pork.

But what do I know?

Very good news!

A federal judge rules in favor of Liberty, and against Tyrrany.

I think the 'state secrets' argument is something: We can ignore the Constitution, and as long as it's a secret, you can't stop us.

Too bad it happened on the same day they caught Jonbenet Ramsey's killer... 'cause that's WAY more important.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What if the flood was caused by wind?

I can't believe any lawyer worth anything would take this case this far, but thankfully, the ruling was correct.

Insurance contracts are VERY clear on what's excluded. Flood is excluded. Period.

When I worked for an insurance company, we used to joke that if you thought your house was going to flood, set it on fire.

We know it doesn't help, but we'll do it anyway.

Shocking news. Someone figured out you can't see liquid explosives on an X-Ray, which means the new TSA rule requiring the removal of your shoes to look for said liquid explosives, is, well, stupid.

There are three things mentioned in the linked article I don't get, though. The first is, why is there no mention of perhaps letting the passengers and airlines be responsibile for their safety?

Second, how can the airline industry expect anything but the cost to go up, and that they'll end up paying for it, somehow?

Third, who really thinks the TSA employees manning security checkpoints are anywhere near sophisticated enough to be able to use SPOT?

Just let me walk on the plane with my gun. We'll all be safer.

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's funnier when it's real

Although, I'd swear The Onion could run this story with the headline:

Ebay Power Sellers Cause Terror Alert to be Raised.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Could this be the beginning of the end?

As I'm sure most already know, Senator Joe Lieberman (CT) lost in the Democratic primary yesterday. This shows a couple of things - primarily that Democrats in CT may either be getting back to the real 'differences' between they and Republicans, or more likely, they are just so Anti-Bush that they had to vote for change given the perception that Lieberman agrees with the President on a number of issues.

Of more importance to those of us in 'third' parties, this could be the beginning of an encouraging trend in politics - moving away from the megaparty and actually pointing out and voting for real differences in policy. They still may all be statists, but this shows a powerful incumbent can lose, even if the process is designed to make that virtually impossible.

Now, all we can hope is that he runs as an Independent, and throws a wrench into the whole thing.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Bulwer-Lytton 2006

My favorite writing contest.
The first to make me chuckle
It was a day, like any other day, in that Linus got up, faced the sunrise, used his inhaler, applied that special cream between his toes, wrote a quick note and put it in a bottle, and wished he'd been stranded on the island with something other than 40 cases each of inhalers, decorative bottles, and special toe cream.

Lisa moved like a cat, not the kind of cat that moves with a slinky grace but more like the kind that always falls off the book shelf when he's washing himself and then gets all mad at you like it's your fault (which it wasn't although it probably was kind of mean to laugh at him like that), although on the bright side, she hardly ever attacked Ricky's toes in his sleep.

The winner of 'Vile Puns'
As Johann looked out across the verdant Iowa River valley, and beyond to the low hills capped by the massive refrigerator manufacturing plant, he reminisced on the history of the great enterprise from its early days, when he and three other young men, all of differing backgrounds, had only their dream of bringing refrigeration to America's heartland to sustain them, to the present day, where they had become the Midwest's foremost group of refrigerator magnates.

Enjoy them all.

Isreal killing civilians?

Human Rights Watch is all upset, according to this Independent piece, because:

Although the Israeli government claims it is taking all possible measures to minimise civilian harm, Human Rights Watch said their detailed investigations revealed "a systematic failure by the Israeli Defence Forces to distinguish between combatants and civilians".

As is the case when someone takes on an organization such as Hezbollah (or Al Quaida, or Hamas), they can't really win. The cowards (who actually do intentionally target civilians), hide among civilians in hopes the Israelis won't come after them, or if they do, they further the cause by killing the innocent.

Frankly, innocent may not really describe the civilians, who might be better off pointing out the criminals in their midst.


Sorry for the gaps in posts. I was out of town (in Atlanta on business) this week. Still busy as all get out with work, still working on getting settled in the new house. Closets are the next order of business. We have yet to organize/build our office/guest room, linen/washer dryer, and exercise room closets. We have an approaching deadline, as Columbia Oak is coming to measure the office/guest room to build the workstation and murphy bed set up.

I haven't driven my convertible since I got it back from the shop, what, two weeks ago?

Training is still on the shelf, although I think next week will allow me to get back to a normal schedule. Travel for work should die off now, too. I'm getting back to the Precision Nutrition plan as well. I've been drinking too much and eating too much crap.

On the good news front, there are some good things happening with work, so I feel like I'm starting to get the traction I needed to get. Now I need to spend some time doing some things I've neglected over the past few months to get them caught up.