Tuesday, July 31, 2007

de-Intimdator - Patron of the Arts

There are those that would say that de-I is lacking in taste and culture. But I beg to differ. de-I is in fact a patron of the arts! Our favored artist is J.C. Pino, an artist whose family owns a favorite restaurant in Salt Lake City, Cafe Madrid. We went there with Gaius Derf and Agent Weasel and I saw the lovely lady below and just had to have it. As we had driven to SLC, we were able to take it with us. She is now residing in the living room deciding where she wants to permanently reside.

Monday, July 30, 2007

More Mountain Fun - Utah Style

As Gaius Derf is one of my hiking buddies (one of the two remaining ones that survived the unfortunate winter hiking expedition of 2001..."Don't worry, that storm is going to the south of us"), no visit would be complete without a hike. The mountains next to Salt Lake City are the Wasatch Range and are a formidable set of peaks with very steep ascents. Derf's choice for our hike on Saturday was the Lake Blanche Trail.

Derf told me that with my level of conditioning the 2.8 mile one way up 5.6 mile round trip

hike would be no problem. What he failed to mention was that the altitude gain on this hike was 2,750 feet from around 6,200 to just over 8,900. For those with an aptitude for math, this translates into a 100 foot climb every tenth of a mile.

View to the North from the trail. We're hiking in the opposite direction.

Let me tell you that is one steep climb and even a more dramatic workout on the way down. On the other hand it is truly a beautiful hike with all kinds of vistas and scenery.

View to the West as we hike South up the trail near the beginning.

Truth be told, I am in pretty good shape and the climb up was not the killer I thought it would be. Going down was another matter altogether and my legs were talking to their lawyers asking if they had any recourse against my brain for having gotten us into this.

The view to the South toward our destination about a quarter of the way up the trail

Gaius Derf sadistically looking at me ascending.
Yes it is that steep!

Rest assured, Gaius Derf is visiting us on Labor Day and de-I will have his revenge.

View to the South about 2/3 of the way up

At our destination, Lake Blanche looking at Sundial Peak

Interesting rocks showing glacial type striations at the top

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

One of the best friends I have ever had and still do have is the Proconsul, Gaius Derf. Gaius Derf and I would worship the gods in particular Apollo (God of exercise) and Bacchus (you can look that one up yourself). Unfortunately Derf (as we call him for short) was exiled from the new Rome (Albuquerque) three and half years ago and now finds himself out in the boondocks province of Salt Lake City. While we occasionally see him and talk to him regularly, we truly miss having him here at court.

With the wisdom that only comes for achieving the status of de-Intimidator, a brilliant idea came to me that if he couldn’t be here at court, I could bring court to him. Also knowing him, he would never let me get tarred with his disgrace and would say, “no, no don’t do it.” So the whole mission had to be planned and executed without his knowing. Fortunately one his closest and most trusted household members had been compromised by the de-I intelligence services. We will call her by her code name, Agent Weasel.

With the assistance of Agent Weasel, we were able to set a date for the operation. Coordination and planning were extremely difficult as Gaius Derf is highly attuned to plots and subversions against him. However, our surprise was total and complete. Wife and I drove to Salt Lake City Thursday night. Once Derf was off to work at the regional court where he is consigned we rushed to his house where we linked up with Agent Weasel. A celebration of Bacchus was mandatory in order to properly celebrate the glory that is Derf.

We went to the local market and stocked up on all kinds of goodies and set to cooking away the afternoon. This included a foray into making ravioli from scratch. Gaius Derf arrived and our surprise was complete and total and the ensuing celebration went on for four hours.

The Menu:
Assorted Antipasti – Olives, cheeses, hard salami, tomato salad with vinaigrette, wilted cucumber salad with lemon and olive oil.
Chilled cream of asparagus soup
Chard, ricotta and pancetta filled ravioli with sage butter sauce
Fire roasted chicken with a red wine, pancetta sauce
Sautéed cabbage
Cheese (a fabulous triple cream brie from Australia of all places!)
Four fruit granita

The Wines:
Marilyn Remark - 2005 Marsanne (a Rhone varietal from Monterey, CA
Saint Amour – Cru Beaujolais – Georges DuBoeuf 2005
Domaine Carré Courbain Vielles Vignes – Volney 2000

And now scenes from the operation

Agent Weasel and Mrs. de-I Deep in Bacchus Celebration Planning

Wife Ponders Bacchus Scriptural Texts for Proper Intepretations

Agent Weasel taking out frustrations of undercover work on pasta dough

"So how are you suppose to do hand rolled pasta?"

Ravioli being prepared for storage prior to cooking

Wife working on the granita

The Antipasti

Gaius Derf Showing his pleasure

Still Life of Wine and Granita

Action Shot of Wine and Granita

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Secret Mission - Day One

All I can tell you is that we have arrived. We have made contact with our mole here in the unnamed location and confirmed that the mission has not been compromised. Tomorrow morning we will begin the operation. We may be under web access silence. If all goes well we will have completed the mission and be back at base on Sunday. Wish us well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Secret Mission in Progress

Walls have ears. All I can tell you is that Mrs. de-I and I are off tomorrow on a mission of incredible stealth. If we are successful, I will have a long story for you next week. Until then we are on blog silence.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Houston We Have Tomatoes

In spite of squirrels, odd weather, bugs, etc. I am happy to report that we are seeing the signs of fruitful production from the Mrs. de-I garden. Today:

  • I ate the first tomato - and it was gooood. Others are on the way
  • Had the first cucumber (take that you damn squirrels) over the weekend
  • Made the first chile harvest, roasted them and used them in a dish tonight for dinner. There will be lots of chile coming
  • Picked a bowl of blackberries for dessert

Yeah garden!

Why is Accepting Good Fortune Hard to Do

The last few weeks I have been filled with anxiety. I've been thinking about the business and where the next clients are coming from, etc, etc. Is this because we've been slow or because we've been having client problems? No. In fact the opposite is the reality. Things have never been better. We're setting records for both top line and bottom line. My associates are doing great work. I have the new book coming up and a great new addition with Rich in Chicago. Clients are oozing praise and signing up for larger and longer term projects. So what's the problem?

Answer - I don't know. Maybe after a lifetime of setbacks I think the cosmic overlords are chuckling just setting me up for the next crash. Maybe I don't think I'm worthy of success. (How bizarre is that!) Maybe I've practiced worry for so long it has become a built in behavior.

Whatever it is I've decided that I'm not going to accept it. The book MR gave me, The 48 Rules of Power, has actually been very helpful in this regard. And my spiritual works are valuable too. This is one psychological trap that I'm going to turn around and walk out of.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Hike of the Week in Pictures

With Mrs. de-I in Chicago with Motherrocker and family, I decided to take a nice long hike. I chose to do the same hike I did two weeks ago. Since I wrote about it last time, I thought I would take some pictures this time.

It's hard to get the perspective with a cell phone camera but this trail is very steep, climbing 1700 fee in just over 2 miles at the very beginning of the hike. The good news is that that's just about the worst of the climbing until the very end.

The Crest Trail transverses the mountain. This section goes around one of the various peaks.

Unlike the west side of the mountain, the east gets much more moisture and therefore has more vegetation. One of the nice parts about this particular hike is that the majority of it looks like this which makes for a cooler hike and makes it a bit easier on the feet.

This is one of the three valleys one must transverse at the end of the hike. It entail three descents and two ascents, the last of which is a bitch coming at the end of 11+ miles.

A pretty rare occurrence in the Sandia's. Most of the time when you run into running water it is a spring that has come out to the surface from a layer of porous rock. This one comes right at the trail head.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Expectations Met

I don’t know if others have this experience but to me it seems that expectations and actual experiences are often at odds. When you have high expectations, disappointment often follows. And the opposite, no expectations lead, a great experience can often result. Thus when expectations are met it is, for me anyway a pleasant surprise.

This was my experience Friday night when I took my partner Frank out to dinner in Omaha. We were coming back from our two days in Sioux Center, IA (not a culinary highlight). Frank and I had recently had a deal that we had been working on for over a year close and had our fee paid (the two events not always being a given). Getting paid is of course always a plus but what made this particularly sweet was this was a bitch of a deal to get closed. It had all the elements of a non-closer; service business, highly dependent on its owner for its success, remote location, and losing money to boot. In spite of all this, we somehow managed to find a great buyer and get it closed. OK enough of that, the point is I felt that Frank and I needed to celebrate. Since we were going to be in Omaha, I thought well it should be steak right?

Getting on line I research for the ‘authentic’ Omaha steak experience. Every place I check out the comments are erratic. Not one has a consistent high level of reviews. Then I get to a number of commentators talking about the “mythical” Omaha steak experience. What to do. Finally I find some comments on a place called the Paxton Chop House that are uniformly positive. Paxton it appears is not the ‘authentic’ Omaha experience (which evidently means minimal décor, good meat, some standard Italian fare, etc.) and is fairly new. I like the look of the menu and wine online, representative of a high quality steak place and decide this is the place to go.

The décor of the Paxton is classic. Lots of dark wood, the main dining room has booths around the outside with tables in the central section. Each booth has leather seats (or at least they look like leather). Lighting is dark but not oppressively so. The service I’d describe as quietly pleasant and professional; attentive but not overbearing. There when needed never interrupting.

Our choices for dinner were for the most part very traditional. We each of a shrimp cocktail with four very large, juicy, nicely flavored shrimp. The bread is a nice thick crusted very slightly sourdough variety. The accompanying butter looks like a European style (very hard to resist). We opt for the lettuce wedge with blue cheese dressing featuring local Maytag Blue. I really appreciated there dressing which was not a goopy mass but a relatively light dressing with a hint of the blue cheese so one could really taste the lettuce. (My friend Steve would be proud of me for supporting the lettuce industry). For the main course we decide to split a 24 oz porterhouse, a rare treat for me. I do the honors cutting off the strip and the fillet and splitting them. Frank is not a gnawer so I get the bone…no way I’m going to pass up on that! The meat is very nicely done and extremely enjoyable. Frank is going with shoestring fried potatoes (he is Belgian and fries are de rigueur). I decided to try something different, horseradish mashed potatoes. They were very interesting with only a hint of the horseradish flavor so it didn’t overpower the potatoes, but overall I found them too heavy for accompanying the steak. The shoestrings were a much better complement.

I was having a tough time with the wine selection. There was a quite extensive selection and I was having a tough time making a pick because I wanted to do Frank right. Fortunately, the Paxton’s general manager, Christopher Logan, who also acts as the sommelier, came to my rescue. Explaining some of my desires he suggested going to the half bottle section and chose an Oregon Pinot Noir, Rex Hill (www.rexhill.com) to start and 1998 Chateau Potensac from Medoc. The Rex Hill went wonderfully with the blue cheese dressing and of course a Bordeaux with steak is a pretty classic combo as well.

Neither of us really wanted dessert and we have a mutual love of digestifs, especially Calvados. Looking at their list of cognacs, armagnacs and calvados, nothing was singing to me. Once again we appealed to Chris. He says he has two calvados, the one on the menu which is ok (I’ve had it) and he has this 1963 calvados that isn’t on the menu. “OK Chris”, I say, “How much is a shot of this baby going to set me back? I’m already on grandchildren so I can’t even mortgage my first born.” It’s going to be 60 bucks a shot. Frank’s a great guy but I’m not sure he’s worth that much. So being half expansive and half a cheapskate I tell Chris to give us one serving that we’ll split.

Out comes Chris with three glasses and the bottle. He pours us each a full serving and a touch for himself. He tells us that he personally picked out this bottle and it’s the first time anyone has ordered it since they opened the restaurant 9 months ago. It was fabulous! The aroma was incredibly potent and when you took sip into your mouth the flavors and aromatics exploded into your mouth – truly a peak gastronomic experience. Our waiter stops by and asks if we wanted dessert and I said that the only thing that could compliment this would be a small piece of very, very good dark chocolate. He nods his head knowingly and apologizes that that is one thing they don’t have. The only disappointment to a very, very enjoyable evening.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Scenes from Iowa




Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Some Stereotypes are Valid or I Don't Feel Sorry If You Have To Travel To Luxembourg

My partner Frank and I have traveled to the great Mid-west to work on client based in Sioux Center Iowa. You google it. It's close to...to...to...nowhere? It takes a two hour drive to get here from Omaha and you pass a lot of corn. I mean a real lot of corn. The place to stay is the Holiday Inn Express. When you come into town after an hour of corn fields it's on a rise dominating the view like a great Las Vegas casino (sort of). So I don't want to hear your bitchin' about having to travel to Brussels and Luxembourg and wherever.

Monday, July 16, 2007

They're Back!

The freakin' squirrels. According to Wife they're coming in from neighboring yards now that the local population has subjected to the final solution. Wife has put out some more poison to deal with the problem. However she's been putting it in some kind of caging so the neighborhood cats (which frequent our yard as it is one of the few dog free zones in the hood) don't eat it. She is sensitive about wiping out the neighbor's pets. Personally I say this is war and there is always collateral damage during a war.

On another note, I talked to Pulisha. Tim's operation went well. They said if he had waited too much longer it could have been very serious. I talked to Tim as well and he was very drugged up.

Finally, on an LA food note, I didn't eat too much yesterday and was famished at lunch. We were eating at a fairly nice hotel and I had an urge for a cheeseburger, not the kind of thing that a hotel usually does well. But this one was excellent. Had dinner at our favorite sushi place in Thousand Oaks, Minato where the owner Steve takes very good care of us and is always extremely friendly.

Tomorrow, I get a conjugal visit in Albuquerque before going on to Iowa on Wednesday.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Successful Diner and Other Weekend Events

...or non-events. The diner turned out great. Here are the high notes

Bean Dip - The immersion blender works like a charm and got the bean dip very smooth.

Lamb - I was especially proud of my efforts with the lamb. I started out by inserting garlic, rosemary, and thyme leaves into the meat. Next I rubbed the meat with salt and pepper. The meat went into a ziplock bag with carrots, onions, more garlic, rosemary, thyme, some bay leaves and 3/4 of a bottle of red wine. I marinated this overnight. The meat was cooked over charcoal, grilling both sides then roasting with the grill cover closed for about 25 minutes. The flavor balance was great with the lamb not the flavorings taking center stage and a great crust on the meat.

Wines - We had a dry rose from Provence and a pinot gris from Chehelam in Oregon for the first course and a petit syrah from MarylynRemark winery in Salinas for the main course.

Our guest were a banker and his wife whose son was once neighbors with us. They had a house guest who they brought along. She is a pilot for United Airlines and is in the Air Force reserve. She also was one of the first women to ever be allowed to fly a combat fighter (F-16), a very fascinating person. Her comments on fly the F-16 vs. the A-10. "I liked the F-16. It's fast. But the A-10, it's got a big gun and that's good too."

I also did a quick hike and on Sunday stopped in to seel Pulisha, Tim de Buffalo, grandchildren 1,3 & 4 along with Tim's two children from prior marriage. Grandchild #3, Jocelyn, has been having a tough time with the new additions but found Grandpa to be an easy mark for attention so I go lot's of cuddling from her.

Tim (fyi) has a hernia and is going to be operated on Monday so please send all you best thoughts out to them. Everyone is going a bit nuts in the Pulisha household at the moment.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Weekend Plans - Hike and Cook

Yea guests coming over tomorrow for dinner which means I get to cook something. Menu plan is:

  • Homemade bean dip with Indian flavoring (means I get to use both my new spice grinder and my new immersion blender
  • Charbroiled Butterflied Leg of Lamb
  • Potatoes baked with Tomato Confit
  • Salad of Roasted Vegetables
  • Melon with Blueberry Sauce
  • Shitload of Wine
I will try to take some pictures as I go ala BCD.

This means I have to get up early so I can get some kind of hike in. Somehow I have to find time to also iron shirts and pack because on Sunday AM I'm off to Pulisha and Tim de Buffalo for a quick stay (five kids with Tim's visiting...overnight...I think not!) for a focking good time.

Next week is LA from Sunday to Tuesday, back to ABQ for Tue night, then on to Sioux Center, Iowa on Wed for meetings Thu-Fri and back to ABQ on Saturday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mrs. de-I's New Toy

Define Baby Lock:

  1. A device used to keep your child from harm
  2. A small set of manacles and leg irons to keep your toddler from killing him or herself
  3. A device used to lock your child up safely so when you, the parent, is going crazy you don't go after the child.
  4. None of the above
The actual answer is none of the above because Baby Lock is actually a brand name...the brand name for a line of very, very expensive sewing machines and not inconsequentially the latest new toy/vehicle for hobby and personal growth.

If any of you read Pulisha's recent ode to her Mom, her sentiments are merely the a shadow of the esteem in which Wife is held in the de-I family. Basically she walks on water and that's just when she's toning it down a bit because in our view she's fully capable of walking on air. So pretty much what Wife wants, I want to get which is probably one of my great motivations for working and building the PG Empire (that and my megalomania). Up until recently this desire has not been terribly disastrous because Wife has had a propensity to study and study and study a proposed purchase. For example it took her two years to pick out a camera. Ergo the time value of money alone often offset a substantial portion of the ultimate price.

Unfortunately in recent months she's become much more pragmatic and decisive. A couple of months ago her sewing machine died. It had labored for some 35 years and although Wife was had been fighting change for over a decade, the time had come. With a blitzkrieg of research you settled upon the Baby Lock Ellure Plus.


This is not the old fashion sewing machine. As with much today it is highly computerized. It can sew, embroider, quilt, and do things I've never even heard of. It does much of this automatically using pre-designed patterns. It even has a USB port so you can go to the internet and download patterns. The instruction book is intimidating onto itself. Wife has signed up for a myriad of courses to get herself up to speed.

A Sample page from the instruction manual

So Wife is busy at work. With her creativity and an automated machine, I'd suggest that everyone whittle down their Xmas gift requests to things that can be sewn, embroidered, or quilted. Should I be worried about Wife's phone calls into getting workers from Nicaragua?

Sample of work from the future sweatshop

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Day to Myself

I'm trying to take a day a week to myself - no work - just trying to do other things and enjoy myself. Of course hiking has been a big part of this an today I went for hike on a trail circuit that I had never been on. I was fortunate to get one of my clients who likes to hike to come along. This was a really fun one about 11 miles with an altitude gain of around 2000 feet. The hike is a loop that starts on the east side of the mountains where I rarely go. Here is the link for a good description of the hike with the contour map. It starts with the biggest climb of the hike going up most of the gain in just over 2 miles. You pick up the rest of the altitude over the next 2 miles and then take a long descent before going back laterally across the mountain to the starting point. This last section was a bit of surprise because it looks like a strait shot but in fact requires going down and up three canyons. The trails are much nicer and easier on the feet on the east side because of the moisture and we saw tons of butterflies of a types of colors.

Getting back around 1 PM, I had lunch and showered and then relaxed with my trusty iPod in the "Hole" (my den). I am really getting into classical music again. I find the headphones allow me to listen to all the intricacies of the music without having to turn the volume way up. This is the first thing I found that really lets me let go of everything and relax. I listened to two symphonies in a row.

Then it was on to making dinner. I am playing around with a technique I first read about in a book MR gave me which is used for pasta sauces but I think can be used for making other types of flavorings as well. The sauce turned out pretty good but my application of it left something to be desired.

I'm on my way to Salinas, CA on Monday and Tuesday to do some work with my very good friend Steve. This is a very fun project which I will write about when I get back and has the added benefit of allowing me to spend time with Steve and Diana.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Wines of the Week in Review

Since last Friday I've had the chance to enjoy a number of good wines. On Friday since I had been out of town for a while I took wife out to a small French (yes LvC - FRENCH) place that allows you to bring your own bottle for a corkage fee. I like this since their wine list is fairly limited and it gives me a chance to use wines out of my cellar. I selected a Beckman 2004 Syrah which comes from the Santa Ynez valley near Santa Barbara, CA.

At a recent Chicago Just Grapes networking event we tried a Grenache from the same wine maker and were underwhelmed. However, this particular wine was kick butt! Wife's comment was, "Well if you would give me this kind of wine every day, I'd be a very happy camper." Here's the good news. We both agreed that this is a wine that is ready now. I have four more bottles. So if you are visiting the de-I household anytime soon, feel free to make a request.

On the Fourth we had dinner at our friends Wild Bill and Jill. Bill is recovering nicely from his injury. I in fact took him out for a short hike in the morning. We were eating a light summer meal of fajitas and drank two wines. The first was a rose from a small winery in Salinas, CA (Monterey County) that I've visited a number of times, Marilyn Remark. It's a rose on the heavier side made from grenache and syrah. It's a little light in acid but makes for a great wine to drink by itself as an aperitif. With dinner Bill brought out a Beaujolais, a Cote de Brouilly, one of the 12 designated areas of the Beaujolais region. I've drinking quite a bit of Beaujolais this summer but this one was quite distinct, very acidic, light, almost like a rose and it went very well with spiciness of the food.

Hope everyone else had a nice Fourth and has ate and drank well.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Gaining an Understanding of AinA's Paranoia

My fellow blogistadors turned me on to the the ancillary sites that you can use to track the data about who is actually visiting your blog. Doing this type of tracking is an interesting exercise in egoism. Obviously anyone who would go to the trouble of posting on a blog for any length of time has hidden writer syndrome. Ergo the more people that visit your blog the better.

However, these tracking programs do much more than just show you how often people come. It gives you data on if the hits are just spiders or search engines, how long people are on the site, how many pages they look at, etc. And you get the geographic location and frequency of visits by location.

This is a very interesting set of data. A quick perusal and you can see all the people you know visit on a regular basis....And you can can find the person who has visited many times from Mumbai, India. Mumbai? I don't know anyone in Mumbai. Who would want to visit my blog from Mumbai?

Welcome to the new world of de-I paranoia.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Is There a Doctor in the House

Paging Dr. Podolny. Paging Dr. Podolny.

Yes there is a Dr. Podolny.

No, de-I was not given an honorary Ph.D in applied technology for learning how to pause and restart music on my i-pod this week (though I should have!)

No, we are talking about my brother, Richard, or as we are now required to call him Doctor. Richard received his MD on Sunday in Honolulu from the University of Hawaii School of Medicine.

My brother was kind of like the Pulisha of our family when he was growing up. He got a degree in engineering and promptly walked out of his new job with Pratt and Whitney Aircraft before even going a year in the job. Then it was on to being a Rolfer and then a burnt out Rolfer. He had a life changing experience with a friend who lost a child because they wouldn't use traditional medicine as well as alternative medicine. At this point his desire to become a complete healer was kindled.

He set out to pursue a career in medicine. The only problem was that he was in his late forties already. In spite of this he persevered and made it through to the end. Now he is a newly minted MD at the ripe age of 57. I've joked with him he was going to get his degree and apply for retirement the same week.

My hat's off to you Richard. I can't even imagine how you managed the studying, the tests, and the endless hours. I hope the next phase gives you the rewards you have hoped for.