Friday, February 29, 2008

Paradise Revealed

And it's name is Highland Park as in the name of a brand of scotch whiskey. A lawyer friend of mine met for drinks in downtown LA where stayed on Wed night. After a couple of glasses of wine, he asked if I like scotch which I consented I did. So he took me to this bar which I will have to get the name of later. This list of scotches was daunting. I enjoy scotch but am not a student. So he told me that he thought that Highland Park was without doubt the best balanced scotch he had ever tried. I tried an 18 year old and I had to concur. Ambrosia.

Fighter Pilot Girl entitled this picture taken yesterday as:

"Winter Blues - De-I needs to get in the shade to do his calls it was so warm"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Winter Travel - A Real Bitch

I regularly rant and rave about the horrors of travel - canceled flights, dealing with mobs of uneducated travelers, missing meetings, blah, blah, blah. Winter makes things worse. We have snow storms and ice screwing things up. There's the cold eating at you. Your feet get wet. My goodness it's horrible! Have pity on me the poor road warrior. Fighter Pilot Girl took this picture of me during a recent business trip to memorialize the horror.

Okra - Why Not?

There is an entire universeof gastronomes who have put okra on their "I will never touch that stuff" list. Personally, I think it is because they've only had it cooked one way which is cut up and stewed which results in a goopy, gelatinous mass whose texture many abhor. However there is another preparation method (other than deep fried). The key is to saute the okra first then add any liquids. One of the great renditions of this is in Indian cuisine with an okra curry. There is an Indian restaurant near where I stay in Ontario, CA. Many don't have this dish on the menu but this one did and it was excellent. No sliminess. Very distinct individual okra pieces with a great flavor but almost dry rather than a very wet sauce. I think any okra objector would (who liked Indian food) would like this.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bunch 'O' Stuff

The weekend -

Caught up on work Saturday

We've been playing around with Skype communication with video action with both Alexis and Stephanie (accept that the Dukes commanders the video when she's part of the call).

We had dinner at Pulisha and Tim de Buffalo on Sat night. I did the cooking. We had a rack of lamb, potato cake (a big latke with bacon in it), asparagus and a home-made apple topping for ice cream (apples, butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, lemon juice and zest, and calvados), plus acouple of bottles of wine. Boy it's nice just having a half a mile to go to get back home.

On Sunday morning I did a quick hike in the neighborhood with Tim

Sunday night I was on the plane and on to Southern Cal.

I'l be in So Cal the whole week and have a very busy schedule going all over the area with three potential client prospects being visited.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Short Stuff fm Chicago

New air travel experience on Tuesday – I was on a plane ready to depart from Hartford to Chicago. As we were being pushed back from the gate, the bar between the tractor and the plane broke damaging the front landing gear and causing the flight to be canceled.

Why I am Obsessed with Being a Frequent Flyer
Why I Obsess on Maintaining a Frequent Flyer Status

I was in an exit row toward the back of the plane and was thus toward the end of the line being rebooked. However from my past experience, I have found that I am usually automatically rebooked. Even though everyone else ahead of me was being put on standby, I was already booked and upgraded to first class to boot.

No It is Not Always Ricardo’s Fault

We went out for drinks and dinner with two of our clients. We started out at an Irish bar (with blaring techno music! which forced us to practically shout to be heard!!) where I had three Jamison’s prior to dinner. I am hereby required to disclose that this was totally my own choice and the often denigrated Ricardo was an innocent bystander. However, one should note that he was there! Accessory to the crime? Subtle subverter? Svengali pulling the strings?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Shorts from CT

My quick visit with O-I is finishing up with my having to go to Hartford Hospital to get some tests done and hopefully get a firmer grasp on the dissection in May.

de-I Walks Dog! - Yes yours truly the dog-o-phobic actually took O-I's new guide dog, Unique (her real name) for a walk, not once, but twice while I was here. Unique is quite a different character than the dearly departed Uzef (aka Wonder Dog). Smaller and sleeker in my opinion she looks like a cheetah. And acts like one too the way she prances around. Whereas Uzef was very protective of DOD (Dear Old Dad) or as we sometimes call him SOB (Sweet Old Bill), Unique is a bit of a trollop and will go to anyone who will promise her some attention.

Good Chinese Food - I really hate how so much of what passes for Chinese food consists of over sweetened glop. We've been going to a place in Storrs, CT for years and years that O-I had always thought was better than most. In recent visits I had noticed that there were in fact two menus. One was the typical that is found in most Chinese restaurants. The other had dishes that were quite different. We order completely from that menu and found Chinese of a different order. Nothing was sweet and the tastes were all quite distinct. We had a seaweed and a jellyfish appetizer. The first was slightly vinegary and the second was salty. Then we had a seafood hot and sour soup, followed by fatty pork with fried tofu and salt and pepper chicken.

Good Weather Luck - CT has been bombarded with snow and ice this winter. I arrived on Saturday to clear skies and warming temperatures. It has been in the 50's today with some rain and all the ice is gone. Since I'm on to Chicago tomorrow and the forecast is for sub-freezing temperatures, I suppose I should be thankful.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Back on the Road Again

I’m in the middle of what is going to a very intense period of travel over the next few weeks. Last Wed I headed out to Los Angeles where I was doing a group facilitation for a client. On Friday, I drove 60 miles east to Colton, CA to do a training session for a client. Friday afternoon I flew back to Albuquerque and reloaded. It’s Saturday morning and I’m back at the airport on my way to Connecticut to visit O-I and his new guide dog, Unique. Then it will be on to Chicago for work on Tue and a birthday dinner out with MotherRocker and John the Armenian Thu night. Friday will be on to Albuquerque until Sunday night when I head back for a week in Southern Cal.

Life’s Little Pleasures – Desperately looking for something to eat at 6:30 AM in a nearly empty mall in downtown LA while waiting for a rental car, finding a kiosk open, expecting to get barely passable food and ending up with not a good but a great bagel and cup of coffee – ahhhhhhh.

Don’t Like The After Taste of Zinc Lozenges? I swear by Cold-eze to fight off incipient colds but I hate the metallic after-taste that lingers for hours. I recently found that a nice shot of scotch immediately afterwards completely removes that bad taste.

Openmeadow – you never read that here!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

OK Already - It's Not That Bad

I was reminded today that I in fact do not have to work as manual laborer in in Brazilian gold mine carrying sacks of wet, mud up hundreds of feet of ladders, nor am I forced to scrabble a living for a family of five from a 1/4 acre plot in Rwanda, nor do I have to work a 12 hour day assembling the same part over and over again for a couple of bucks a day as they do throughout Asia.

No, I get to fly to a a major city, and talk with a very nice, ambitious and sensitive business owner who whats to share his success with those that work with him even though that is not necessarily an easy task to accomplish. And I get to do this while staying at a very nice hotel in downtown Los Angeles, while plotting strategy with my client over a very nice dinner with a couple of drinks and a very nice bottle of Cornas from the Rhone.

Come on. We all need to be more appreciative of what we have than what we think we don't

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Making the Grade in PA

My good friend Gaius Derf called today to find out how the Imperial Capital was holding up under the onslaught from the Visigoths under warlord Pulisha. We got on the topic of one of his daughters who recently moved to a town in rural Western Pennsylvania. In the last week she hit a deer on the road coming home from work. Her father-in-law congratulated her for becoming a real Pennsylvanian.

On further evidence we find out however that this is far from the case. In fact the deer was only grazed and successfully ran off into the woods. This is a terrible precedent. If the deer learn that a car is not lethal, they're going to start more aggressive terrorist acts against the drivers. They're probably already setting up a trap for her. Not only that but by not delivering a fatal blow, she deprived the local clan of valuable protein for the winter.

Derf and I believe that the rules for becoming a "real Pennsylvanian" need to be more explicit. It is not sufficient to just "hit a deer". It must be a blow that is sufficient to to cause mortality in the deer and thereby act as deterrent to other deer, but not so violent as to destroy the edibility of the deer.

How many of you qualify as "real Pennsylvanians?"

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Virgin No Longer

No of course not - I'm a grandfather already. I'm talking about The Souffle.

It was a busy weekend. On Saturday, I went for a quick hike then grabbed granddaughter C and we went a did some shopping at Whole Paychecks. In the afternoon,I did work work after which I made a frittata with the two granddaughters. I'm going to be gone on Valentine's Day, so I told Mrs. de-I that I wanted to cook a nice meal for her and Pulisha this weekend. And for some reason, I decided that making a dessert souffle was a good idea. I of course have never made a souffle.

For those two people who read this who are not cooks, a souffle is a dish where one folds a filling into whipped egg whites and cook it which results in a dish that puffs up over the top of its dish in a spectacular fashion. I made an orange souffle from Julia Child's, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (my absolutely favoritist cookbook). Reports from the biased family audience were that it was good. I'm sorry that because of all the hub-bub of two families under one roof that I don't have a picture. Personally I think it didn't get quite the lift a souffle should have and I think it was a tad overcooked.

Hats off to Tim de Buffalo who along with Granddaughter C prep cooked. He did a fine job with some pan0-roasted potatoes while Miss C was a trooper being willing to squish her finger into the roast while I was trussing it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Can We Accept Less Than Perfection

As we are in the midst of this electoral year and we are watching carefully who might be selected as candidates and ultimately our leaders, I came upon some information in the book I'm reading (I referenced it in recent posts, Collapse by Jared Diamond) that calls attention to what do we really expect of our leaders - mainly why do we expect perfection?

The chapter related to the Dominican Republic and a leader by the name of Joaquin Balaguer. Mr. Balaquer was a controversial figure. He was in the mold of traditional Latin American strongmen. He had been a figure in the regime of Rafael Trujillo, acknowledged as one of the really evil dictators in Central America's long history of such types. And Balaguer was no shrinking violet either. But he was also one of the longest and stoutest supporters of stopping environmental degradation in the Dominican Republic. Fighting almost all parts of society at different parts of his reign, he practically singlehandedly prevented the type of environmental destruction that has caused Haiti (on the other side of the same island) to become one of the most ecologically damaged countries on Earth. And to all apparent observation, Balaguer never did any of this for personal gain. Even significant opponents and people he jailed have acknowledged his contribution while commenting on the incongruities of his leadership.

Which brings us to do we really expect our leaders to be perfect? Why can't we accept that they are going to be enigmatic or contradictory? Why do we insist that those on the top not be human?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Red Menace Breakthrough

Ok I know this sounds like I've morphed back in time to my days as a parent, but it can't be helped with the current occupation of the homeland by the forces of Pulisha.

As is my norm when I'm not contributing to the Air Travel Management Benevolent Fund, I try to cook dinner each night I'm here. Of course with younger folks you have to have dinner early, so I adjust. Miss C is never a problem. In fact she and I cuddle in front of the TV and watch Iron Chef so that shows you here eating inclinations (a chip of the ole block of Parmesan). Little Miss J on the other hand has been in full two year old, "I hate you all for having uprooted me from my routine" mode. So usually my culinary offerings are snubbed perfunctorily.

However, with patience all things happen. I made some pasta with chicken and Miss J not only had four servings but actually said, "Thank you Grandpa." Awwwwwww.

Monday, February 4, 2008

No News Is...

...well - no news. I'm home all this week and the first two days of next week. I took C daughter of Pu and TdeB out to bakeries to stock up on bread. All this kid has to do is walk into a store and give her very slightly pouty disingenuous look and everyone in the store is falling over themselves to give her samples. C and I watched Iron Chef last night. C is totally into the cooking thing. Her comment on one dish - "I would pay a hundred dollars to get tot eat that."

After a couple of weeks of being persona non grata with the sick J (I even got a fifteen yard penalty called for unnecessary affection), things warmed up this weekend. It helps that everyone is finally getting better.

Skads and skads of work that needs to get done. And then I will be traveling from Feb 13 through the end of the month.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Terrorist Among Us

Little did we know that when the legions of Pulisha decided to target our domicile for their personal manifest destiny, that they would also pull a page out of the colonization of the Americas by the Europeans. Indeed it seems as if the they have taken the page from the old book about smallpox blankets and combined it with modern terrorist technologies to come up with such things as the:

  • IDD - Infant Disease Dissemination
  • TMD - Toddlers of Mass Destruction
  • CDBD - Child Disease Bearing Device
While I have been able to make it to various safe houses over the last two weeks, I fear that beloved wife has succumbed leading us to our current 50% casualty rate. We are requesting a surge to see if we can at least secure the living room, but it is probably too late.