Saturday, November 28, 2009

Healthcare Debate Rationality... something that seems to be practically non-existent. However, if you'd like to read something that is non-histrionic, apolitical, polemic free, and rational, I strongly advise you read this post from a fellow blogger.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Letter to Santa Claus

Granddaughter Y showed me her letter to Santa Claus and I asked her to put a post-script in it for stuff I wanted. She said no way. If wanted to write Santa I needed to do so myself. Therefore...

Dear Santa:

I have been a very good guy this year. I sleep on the sofa when Wife tells me I'm snoring. I traveled to Chicago to cook Thanksgiving dinner for Motherrocker. I performed baby bed duties for newborn A and even changed one diaper. I regularly give my friends lots of alcohol to drink.

I would like 4 ounces of real Russian mallasol beluga caviar, one each large white and black truffle, a real French goose fois gras and a bottle of vintage champagne at least 20 years old.

I know this may be a bit on the extravagant side but I've never written before so I assume my account with accrued interest is pretty substantial.



Monday, November 23, 2009

40 Wonderful Hours in Albuquerque

Actually it was get home from CT Sunday at 10:30 (that meant catching a 6 AM flight out of CT). Do laundry, go through all the mail, do the accounting, etc.

Then today I had six meetings. Got home at 6 PM. Got the mail, did the accounting. Now I'm getting packed so I can catch my 7:15 flight to Chicago tomorrow.

Psst don't tell Motherrocker but I'm really there under cover and on Saturday am going to spring her and repatriate her back to New Mexico.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Connecticut UConn Huskies...

...symbol of might to the foe...

(UConn beat Notre Dame in football last night)

...fight, fight Connecticut...

(In South Bend!)

...its victory let's go...

(Charlie Weis at the end of the game looks like he's walking to the guillotine)

...Connecticut UConn Huskies...

(How come I don't know any Notre Dame graduates?0

...victory again for the white and blue...

(If you know any you'd like to kick while they're down just send their emails to me) GO, GO, GO, GO Connecticut, Connecticut U!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quick Post from the East Coast

I'm doing my quarterly visit to Father O-I. Things are a lot calmer than when I was here last time just after his house fire. He's not ecstatic in his temporary digs but at least there is stability. I continue to be amazed at the growing relationship between my sister and him. She's doing more and more for him and gaining more responsibility as a result. She's getting her long held wish to be an accepted member of his life. Amazing.

I'm just happy to be of help and have a good relationship which as I've written numerous times in the past was never to be expected earlier in life.

Very grateful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

In-Law Envy

I was with a couple of my friends this weekend - a rare guys night together - and the two of them were bemoaning the status of various in-laws, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law respectively. Much was said about what was happening and not happening and their frustrations being far away and not really being able to influence what was going on.

I was left out in the cold. My two son-in-laws have pretty much left me out in the cold. They're responsible. Good parents. Good husbands. Deal with life's challenges. What a bore. How I suppose to join the bitch fest?

Totally irresponsible if you ask me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The de-I Portable Grandbaby Bed

Mandatory Reading for the Married or Soon to be Married Set

I'm back in Albuquerque International Sunport and I WILL get on this flight and make my way to Chicago. There I will link up with Wife, and see newest grandson with Motherrocker and John the Armenian.

Also in the news youngest daughter AinA is now engaged and scheduled to be wed in France! All other travel this year has been canceled and attentions refocused.

AinA posted a link to this article from the New York Times. This is absolutely mandatory reading if you are married or going to be married.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Not a Good Start

Get up at 4:15 to catch my 6:15 flight. Get there - the flight has a mechanical problem. Minimum delay is 1 hour probably more. I won't get my connection. Later flight gets me there too late for meeting. They will patch me by phone but it's going to cost me a lot of billable hours.

Hope this is not a harbinger of the rest of the travel agenda.

Doing the Traveling Thing Again

At least once a quarter it seems that the confluence of unrelated business and family requirements leads to a whacked out period of travel. Hence the next two weeks.

Today - one day trip to Southern California (leave at 5 AM come home about Midnight)
Sunday - On to Chicago
Wed - To Connecticut
Sunday - Back to Albuquerque
Tue - Back to Chicago
Sat - Back to Albuquerque

De-I, keeping the air travel system solvent.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How Far Would One Go

You know that I travel a fair amount. Between my offices in Chicago and LA that I visit once a month, my kids who are all over the freaking country and the world, my Dad in Connecticut, and Wife and my love of travel for ourselves, it adds up.

I've also written about how important holding a high frequent flier status is for ensuring more comfort and especially protecting you when things go wrong with the air travel system (I know that's a shocker that things ever go wrong with the air travel system).

So a few weeks ago I was reviewing my statements on my primary carriers, United and USAir and I find out I'm up shits creek! I'm not even close to getting my status again. All the cost cutting during the first part of the year has come back to haunt me. What am I going to do.

USAir turns out to not be such a hard one. They're hurting and they need their loyal passengers so they have a promo that allows me to make 3 flights and I get enough segments to keep me in the program.

United is the bigger issue. It's my carrier for all my long trips. And we use those miles for all our big vacations. The business class seats we got to New Zealand were worth many, many, many thousands of dollars. So I don't want to lose this but I'm way short on segments and over 10 thousand miles short on actual miles (you usually can qualify be hitting a target of either segments or miles).

So my brain is working. How can I arrange a trip where I pack in 10 thousand miles of travel in a few days and not cost me a fortune.

I start by researching going from Albuquerque to the West Coast to the East Coast and back. Not enough miles. The US is all that big. I'd have to go West, East, West and back or something like that. Then I'd have to start paying for a place to stay a couple of nights. And all those flights - what if I hit bad weather?

Next I looked at flying to Hawaii. I could crash with my brother there. But it was pretty pricey and I still didn't get enough miles.

Then I thought about going to Amsterdam and crashing with daughter AinA. I found I could get some really good prices - around $900 bucks. Of course the thought of flying 20+ hours both way in coach with a day off in between wasn't very attractive but what the hey, it would be a small sacrifice to remain among the ranks of the exalted and get those miles for our next travel extravaganza.

I mention my plan to Wife who is very good at doing her eye rolling and deep sighing internally. She says, "Have you called the airline? Maybe there is way for you to buy the miles you need and then you wouldn't have to kill yourself like this."

I doubt this but decide it can't hurt. I call the United. United may be a dysfunctional company but almost all the agents serving their frequent fliers tend to be really pleasant, good, and helpful. The agent I get confirms that you cannot buy miles. We're having a very pleasant conversation. She confirms that I'm no more nutty than most of the frequent fliers and it is common for us to be scrambling at the end of the year.

She checks my account and tells me that I've missed some promotion they started in September that gives double mile credit from 9/15 5o 12/15. She puts me on the promotion and tells me it will be retroactive. We calculate the mile I've flow to date plus the miles I'm scheduled to fly and BINGO I'm 55o miles over the 50K target. How cool is that. Thanks Wife.

It would have been nice to see AinA and here husband to be though.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Being Alone

Wife went to Chicago early Friday morning as daughter, Motherrocker, is really close to giving birth to her second child (our fifth grandchild). This is a week earlier than we expected so we were scrambling to figure our how to take care of everything as Wife will now be gone for the entire month of November.

This means a lot of time alone for me. And that's OK. Because it has come to my awareness in recent weeks that I really like being alone. With all the travel I've done over the decades for business by myself, I really got used to it. And as I've gotten older my desires for quiet and solitude have increased.

I never really thought about this too much until few weeks ago when I was having a business lunch with two young lawyers. They were talking about going to Las Vegas and the games they like playing there. When they asked me what I liked, I had to tell them that I don't like Las Vegas because I can't stand all the noise and the people. And I mentioned that I'm pretty much a hermit and love being alone. I might as well said I was cannibal. People are social creatures. Look at all the people that love going to parties, or bars, or shows, or sporting events. I avoid them all. Too many people.

Is it really all that odd? I suppose so.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Slow Roasting

On our trip to New Zealand our last meal featured this awesome lamb dish. When restaurateur told me the cooking process, I was intrigued because I've never heard of it before. It is essentially cooking something very, very slowly over a long period and then finishing it in a very, very hot oven. The result gives you an exterior that is crispy but an interior that is like something that has been braised.

I played around with it for the first time with a pork shoulder (Boston Butt) last week and got good results. This week I attempted a chicken and a vegetable dish.

I started with a simple flavoring mix of salt, pepper and Hungarian Paprika

Put your bird into a large, heavy pot

Rub with your spice mixture.
Note I've turned the bird upside down.
It will give off fluid and I want the white meat that dries out to stay moist.
Add a little bit of fluid...not much at all. I used white wine.

Cover firmly with foil

Then put on the top.
This double seal is important to keep in all the moisture.

Cook in a 285 degree oven...that's right 285
The chicken only took 3 hours. My pork roast which was about 4 pounds took 6 hours.
Let the chicken cool in the fluid (breast moisturizing)
Then take it out and let it cool.
(I'm not sure this part was necessary but I was making it ahead of time)

Then cut into pieces.
I nuked the pieces for three minutes just to bring them up to heat.
I put the pieces, skin side up, in a pan that could take high heat.
That's heavy duty aluminum foil with plenty of Pam - No cleaning when done!
Finish the cooking at 500 degrees for about 20 minutes until the skin is good and crisp!

Did the same exact process with potatoes and leeks (one of the last things harvested from Wife's garden)

Leeks have a lot of sand in them so you clean them like the chard I explained last time.
Put them in water, agitate, the lift out of water into strainer. Repeat until water left no longer shows sand.

Into the pan with just salt, pepper and a little canned chicken broth.

Cook exactly like the chicken - 285 for three hours

Here's what it looks like at the end.
The leeks which were very tough came out soft and wonderful.

Finish the same way at 500 degrees. The leeks start browning and getting very caramelized.

Don't waste those giblets!
Put them in with the leftover canned chicken stock.
Simmer for an hour or so and you have the base for a sauce.

This sauce was just the stock from the giblets, a little of the juice from chicken cooking reduced with a little sherry and half & half.