Sunday, January 27, 2013

Recent Artwork

I thought I would share with you some of the artwork that I've done in (roughly) the last year.  At the end of 2011, I  drew this chinchilla for a friend so he could send it as a card congratulating another friend for being a keynote speaker at a major conference.

psychadelic sunset with tree

After two years of working on it intermittently, I finished this acrylic painting. It's the first painting I've worked on since May of 1999 and I'm rather pleased with it. The model I used for inspiration was actually a pine that I photographed when I was in Charleston a few years ago. This made a wonderful house-warming gift for a friend who I know will appreciate it.

pen and ink penguin
Finally, I drew this pen and ink of a very stylized penguin as a card to congratulate a friend on a new job.  It's my first drawing with Micron Pigma pens and I'm pleased with the quality.  I used to be a Koh-I-Nor Rapidograph pen snob, but I just can't face cleaning them when they clog anymore.

I'm happy that I've been producing some 2D artwork after over a decade of drought.  I hope there will be many new pieces to share throughout the year!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Blu Blogging: Clam Bake

Have you tried Blu Seafood and Bar's Clam Bake yet? I was delighted to see it on their new summer menu. I had thoroughly enjoyed Shellfish Bake events at Blu over the years, so the prospect of being able to order a clam bake on a whim was quite exciting, indeed. The photo above was my 2nd MFR's place and I managed to appropriate several of the clams. I've ordered it twice since then. You get clams (obviously), an ear of corn, small pieces of sausage, several potatoes and a butter dipping sauce. It's just perfect, really. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Blu Blogging: Flounder and Mushrooms

Yes, I know my previous post was about Blu Seafood and Bar and so is this one. It's my blog and I'll write about what I want. So there. This is definitely food worth writing about, even if there's a slight delay. A couple of weeks ago, a flounder special, pictured above, was served with grapefruit salsa, green beans and a chipotle butter sauce over basmati rice. It was beautiful and tasty, too. I couldn't resist the grapefruit.

Last weekend, Chef Tim Lyons provided a complimentary culinary adventure: shitake mushrooms baked in parchment paper.

We opened up the paper to see the mushrooms peeking out.

If you know me well, you may be wondering what happened to Lenore and start looking for my pod. I don't generally like mushrooms. I've discovered (initially from the Spicy Dried Tofu with Pork at Eastern Lights) that I do like shitakes, because they have a completely different texture from other mushrooms and I've always liked the flavor of mushrooms. In any case, these were delicious and the chiffonade spinach with truffle oil was also superb.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Blu Blogging: Carribe!

Last night I tried Blu Seafood and Bar's new signature baked oyster dish, Oysters Carribe, for the first time. The oysters are baked with tasso ham, poblano pepper cream sauce, queso fresco and topped with a plantain crust. If you like baked oysters or even suspect that you might, give these a try. The poblano peppers provide a spicy kick, so be prepared, but I would categorize the dish as only medium spicy, because none of the flavor is lost in the excitement. I'm a huge fan of spinach and oysters, so I order Oysters Rockefeller on a regular basis, but it will be nice to mix things up with this original appetizer.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011 New Year's Resolutions

First of all, Happy New Year! Thanks to my new job and Splat Space (and of course family and friends), 2010 was an incredible year for me. I had more opportunities to learn things and meet new friends than I would have ever imagined. I am optimistic that those opportunities and friendships will only grow in 2011 and for that I am very thankful.

From talking to some of you in person, I've gotten the impression that you thought that I would actually keep my resolutions from 2010 and go to all the restaurants that I planned to visit during the course if the year. Why did you think that? These were resolutions like any other. They could and would be broken.

I did go to two of the restaurants on the list, Panciuto and Queen of Sheba, both of which I liked a great deal. The problem is that I *really* liked Queen of Sheba. I kept wanting to go again and again. That kind of put a damper on my wanting to go to some of the other restaurants on the list, most of which are on the expensive side. I became an addict long before Queen of Sheba started linking to my blog post.

Cafe Parvaneh lost their lease at the end of last month, so that is no longer an option. (h/t mark_c)

What's on tap for 2011? To me, making New Year's Resolutions is really about having fun. I don't like to take anything too seriously, particularly not myself. Since I'm not even going to think about these resolutions for the majority of the year, it's not even so important that they be measurable, timely and all that. Below is stab at what I'm considering for the new year, in no particular order.

  • Go to Lantern.
  • Go back to Sugarland more than once this year.
  • Eat at Blu Seafood and Bar as much as humanly possible. (an easy one, I know)
  • Don't try to predict the future. It's a complete waste of time and can ruin your day.
  • Be prepared. (not a complete contradiction and this comes naturally to me)
  • Eat more fruit. (such a sacrifice)
  • Don't be overwhelmed and stressed by rapidly aging fruit in the fridge, but do actually eat it.
  • Attempt to concentrate on just one one thing at a time.
  • Go to a taqueria for the first time.
  • Don't feel that it's absolutely necessary to accomplish something in your spare time unless you don't have any clean clothes to wear tomorrow. Relaxation is an accomplishment. Having fun is, too.
  • Think about exercise. It's a great concept.
  • You love baking. Do it.
  • If someone gives you a genuine compliment, don't insult their good taste by arguing with them.
  • If someone claims to have met you before and you don't remember, don't argue with them either. least not the second time.
  • Take the time to play more games in 2011.
That's enough to completely ignore for one year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Secular Winter Holiday 2010!

Merry Christmas everyone! In addition, happy birthday to the blog! While I've been a bad blogger this year and only written twenty or so posts, it's still seven years old and that's still a reason to celebrate. So much has changed in my life in the last seven years and I can only imagine what posts I will neglect to write in the years to come.

As I believe I've written before, but I'm too lazy to check for sure, a big part of Christmas to me is reflecting on the past and tradition. Of course, that's true for most people, to a large extent, because it's a religious holiday. I, instead, concentrate more on the traditions of my family, both my immediate family and the ways I imagine my family, at least on the Ramm side, has celebrated Christmas for hundreds of years. When we cut out the little electric lights, we see a Christmas tree similar to one my family would have enjoyed in the 1800s or before, illuminated only by lit candles clipped to the branches.

I also remember the Christmases of my childhood, when both grandmothers and my uncle would visit. The grandmothers would entertain me and my brother as we waited impatiently for the magical moment when the sound of Bach's festive music alerted us to the fact that my parents had finally finished decorating the tree and it was ready to see. I believe Christmas Eves were approximately 96 hours long in those days. In the photo, which I believe is from the Christmas of 1979, you can see my marveling at my new toy, a remote controlled R2D2. Even in those days, I had probably requested Luke Skywalker, but this was the next best thing!

A couple of days ago, my Most Faithful Readers found the little R2 in the basement of their house. He looks a little worse for wear and doesn't do much other than make some odd noises when batteries are inserted, but I'm still glad they found him.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blu Blogging: New Desserts!

Blu Seafood and Bar introduced two new desserts this week. One is a cheesecake with pecan-praline crust and date-pecan-citrus-zest compote. It's very good. I'm not a big fan of cheesecake, but this was excellent. My Most Faithful Readers are more fond of cheesecake than I am and simply loved it. The compote is delicious.

The second dessert is a Chocolate Cobbler, or "Chobbler." It's similar to Blu's previous crisp-like cobblers, except that they've replaced the fruit with rich, fudgy chocolate.

Here you can see what it looks like inside. This was wonderful. I know I'll be sharing a lot of these in the future. Bravo!

Monday, October 04, 2010

I Could Have Stored Stuff in There

I had to have a tree cut down in my yard today, because it's possible that it could have fallen on the house. I was skeptical at first, because it looked relatively healthy at the top, with green leaves and everything, but my neighbor/landscaper said it had been struck by lightning and had to go. As you can see, he was right. I've never seen a tree that hollow before, and apparently it was like that all the way to the top.

I've figured the one to the right, in the same clump, would go eventually, because it's leaned quite a bit for years. I suspect it's hollow, too, but it will fall away from the house.

(thanks to my 2nd MFR for the photos!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hackerspace Update

Several weeks ago, I wrote about attending the first Triangle Hackerpsace meeting. Well, we've been meeting weekly ever since and we've made a lot of progress. Given that this area is so spread out and suitable real estate in RTP is prohibitively expensive, it was concluded that it probably makes sense to have hackerspaces in individual cities, particularly both Durham and Raleigh. A wonderful 1380 sqft space was available in the basement of Snow Building, in downtown Durham, so we decided to go for it!

In fact, we moved in a whole bunch of stuff on Saturday and we're having our first meeting in the new space this Tuesday night. It's an open meeting, so come check it out! Be sure to follow @durhammakespace on Twitter to get the latest information, subscribe to the Durham Makerspace Google group and you can find all kinds of good info, see photos and videos on the Triangle Hackerspace website.

I'm particularly excited about the new location, because it's practically within spitting distance of my office. This evening, I took this photo from Pettigrew Street, after going up a nice hill to get there. This way, I can get exercise and look fondly upon the hackerspace building in one fell swoop. For the foodie in me, it's directly below Beyu Caffee and very close to Toast. It's perfect!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gelato at Cuban Revolution

Cuban Revolution, in American Tobacco, is now serving gelato (and at least one flavor of sorbetto). It's a mere hop, skip and a jump from my cubicle. They don't close between lunch and dinner. Danger! Danger!

It's very good. I tried the blood orange with the chocolate and that was an nice combination. It was extremely messy and it dripped everywhere, but it was worth it. I suspect my team will spend a lot more time there now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blu Blogging: Lobsters and the Summer Menu

This week, Blu Seafood and Bar had their annual Lobster Night. Actually, they had a extended version, both Wednesday and Thursday nights. My MFRs and I had delicious lobsters and I was proud of how much meat I got out of the body, behind the little legs. It's easy to give up after the claws and the tail, but I was determined to get every little morsel. I'm positive that making so much jewelry, strengthening my hands, made this much easier. I'm guessing you have all seen lobsters before and you can correctly assume that mine was big and red. What you might not have seen before is Blu's lobster salad, which they were serving this weekend. It was a half lobster with prosciutto, avocado, tomatoes carpaccio, with a cream dressing. When, days later, you're still exhausted from taking apart a whole lobster, this salad really hits the spot. I hope I get to have this again soon without waiting for the next annual event!

Blu has a new summer menu. I was relieved once again that Oyster Rockefeller was still there. Above, you can see the latest version of the salmon, with couscous, cucumber relish and feta. My 2nd MFR had this in between his regular servings of pork tenderloin.

The heirloom tomato and watermelon salad is back! I think I started eagerly asking Chef Tim Lyons about when this salad would return back in January, just in case watermelon and tomatoes would be in season early this year. It's such a great combination of my favorite things, with goat cheese and a balsamic glaze, too. Proportionally, there are very few greens at all. It's just the way a salad should be!

Blu also recently had a special appetizer of fried clams with an ancho chile cream sauce. It was incredibly good and I think I even liked them better than fried oysters.

It's been just over 24 hours since I was there, but I'm already eager to go back. I need to have the pecan-encrusted trout with orange brown butter sauce again.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Triangle Hackerspace

Last Friday night, I went to the inaugural meetup for Triangle Hackerspace. Several of you have asked me about it, so I thought I should write a bit more. Basically, the idea is for interested people to get together and find a suitable location to create a place to hang out and work on projects together. Based on the 40 to 50 people who attended the first meeting, I suspect that when it gets off the ground, most of projects will mainly be electronics and software based, but probably not all. I think it's a neat and inspiring idea.

The leaders of this group are Alan Dipert (pictured above) and his wife, Ashley, who recently moved here from Rochester, NY, where they founded the hackerspace, Interlock. It's encouraging that they've done this before, because they should have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. They were eager to try organizing another hackerspace here after seeing the overwhelming success of Maker Faire NC, last April.

At this stage, the group will meet weekly to get to know each other and to find out who is really interested in participating and contributing to the effort. The next meeting is this Thursday at 7pm, at the Stanford L. Warren branch of the Durham Public Library. You can also find out more information at the Triangle Hackerspace website, follow @trianglehackers on Twitter or even join the #trihack IRC channel on

I also have to mention that the first meeting was hosted by Relevance, which has an absolutely beautiful space on the second floor of the same building that contains Dos Perros. It has lovely sponged yellow walls and the light streams in from several windows and skylights. The next Refresh the Triangle will be held there on August 26th at 6:30pm. It will be a talk on rapid prototyping by John Long, so I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Joan Baez at the North Carolina Museum of Art

A week ago, my 2nd Most Faithful Reader and I went to see Joan Baez perform at the North Carolina Art Museum's amphitheater. When I bought the tickets, I thought it was a bit of gamble, because it could have easily meant enduring a sweltering 100 degrees and and 99% humidity or the risk of a severe thunderstorm. Instead the weather was as glorious as Baez's singing. It was still a bit humid, but in the high 70s and breezy.

This was the third Joan Baez concert I'd been to, but I probably had the best view at this one, because the general admission handicapped seating is a flat platform just above the reserved seats, so there wasn't a chance of someone's sitting or standing in from of me to block my view. Parking was a bit of a hike, but everything is sandy or paved and flat, so it wasn't a problem. I'll have to keep an eye open for more concerts there, because it was really a nice experience.

It would be hard to beat seeing Baez, though, since she's one of my favorite singers. As always, she sang a few of her newer releases, but also plenty of Dylan's, her originals and traditional folk music.

My 2nd MFR took several photos at the concert and maybe someday I'll upload more of mine.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Osmanthus fragrans

This morning I went outside to feed my dear gray wreakers of havoc and smelled one of my favorite fragrances.
The Osmanthus fragrans is blooming again. If you're looking for an fairly innocuous looking bush to plant in your yard, then I heartily recommend this one. It's perfect for planting close to a window that's opened frequently, because the heavenly scent just wafts in, particularly at night. I think it smells like apricots or peaches, but better.