Thursday, August 30, 2007

Holy Mackerel at Gulf Rim

The weather has finally cooled off a bit, which makes it much more pleasant to go out to dinner in the evenings.

Tonight we went to Gulf Rim, where I had an exceptionally good meal. I am a big fan of saba nigiri sushi, at least when it isn't overly pickled. Considering that, I figured that I should probably give cooked mackerel a try. This $14.95 special was slathered in just the right amount of blackberry barbecue sauce, served with asparagus and rice .

After teasing them that their menus were a little worse for wear, they said that their new ones were being printed. I'm looking forward to seeing what new offerings they will be serving soon. If their new dishes are as good as this one, they'll be even more crowded in the future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I haven't seen my red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) since I got back from Boston. Readers may be shocked about this, but I actually miss him. Now, it may be just because I haven't heard his incessant banging for a couple of months, but one has to agree that when he's around, he constantly reminds me that I'm not alone. Like most company, I don't always appreciate it at the time. He has, however, provoked me into shouting more profanity than I have at most visitors.

One added benefit of having an obsessed woodpecker around the house is that he normally keeps my windows free of old spider webs and half-eaten bugs. Several of my great room windows are looking somewhat icky at the moment.

I was going to upload a 74MB video of him, but it kept timing out.

Last year, he also disappeared for a few months late in the summer and early fall, so I am optimistic that he'll return. Strangely enough, I've seen several female red-bellied woodpeckers around, usually eating seeds that I've put out on the deck rail, but I can't recall seeing any males.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jeremiah was a Treefrog

Last night as I was heading for dinner, I noticed a grey lump on the trim next to my garage door. I had to stop and take a look. It was a frog! That was exciting, because I usually just see frogs climbing on the windows at night. They're hard to see, much less photograph. Ignoring the fact that I really needed to get moving, I grabbed my camera and took a couple of photographs.

I believe it's a Hyla chrysoscelis or a Hyla versicolor. Apparently you can only distinguish between the two based on their call and this one didn't deign to demonstrate its singing voice.
When I came back, after dinner, it was still there but my opening the garage door made it wake up and move its arms a little.
From this angle, you can see the lighter spot under its eye, which is apparently one characteristic that distinguishes the two species from other treefrogs.
This wider angle view gives you a better of idea of where it was. It was perched high enough to be comparatively easy to photograph from my van. In fact, I couldn't have asked it to rest in a more convenient spot.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Open On Sundays: Pop's

I really must start paying attention to what days restaurants are open. This is the second weekend in a row that I've suggested that my friends meet me at a restaurant that was closed on Sundays. Last week, the plans were postponed for other reasons, but today they weren't.

Fortunately, in the vicinity of Durham's Brightleaf Square, where there is a plethora of dining options, if one's hopes for eating at one restaurant are dashed, one just has to walk around the corner. We went to Pop's, which opened at 5:30pm and was virtually empty, in contrast to Chamas, the Brazillian steakhouse, which was prohibitively packed. Classes start at Duke tomorrow, so there are more parental wallets in the area than usual.

Pop's was once owned by the owner of Nana's, Scott Howell, but it is now owned by John Vandergrift and Chris Stinnent. I hadn't been to Pop's in maybe seven years, but I couldn't discern that much had changed since my last visit. We shared a number of appetizers and a wood fired apple, brie, and ricotta pizza. We dove in quickly, so I neglected to take photographs. The appetizers included mussels, antipasto and calamari. All were excellent.

Unfortunately, we didn't have the time nor the capacity for dessert. They've always had such interesting flavors of sorbetto. There were also several pasta dishes on the menu that I'd love to try, so I'm hoping that it won't be years before I return.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Low Flying Helicopter (Tibicen sp.)

A couple of mornings ago, I went out onto the deck to feed the birds before I left for work and was startled by what I believe was a very large cicada. I could easily be convinced, however, that it was a low flying Black Hawk helicopter. The previous night I'd heard something large flapping against the nearest window, but I'd been too exhausted to investigate, thinking that it might just be a bat, a giant moth or a common burgler. I'm guessing that this was one of the seven species of dog-day cicadas (Tibicen sp.), since they apparently emerge in North Carolina every summer and can be two inches long. Regardless, it was very large, very black and very loud.

This experience reminded me that I had observed cicada wings on my front van bumper when I arrived at work one morning, last week. I whipped out my camera, because I thought the wings were rather beautiful. Unfortunately, the wings and thorax had already parted ways.

Duke Ducklings

As many of you have likely been reminded by other blogs, the start of a new academic year is approaching. Things are certainly picking up on Duke's campus and the excitement is building. Campus eateries are reopening after a long summer or after shorter periods of renovations and more and more people are filling the sidewalks.

Freshman moved started moving in on Tuesday and upperclassmen have already started returning. FACs (Freshman Advising Counselors) are leading around freshmen like herds of baby ducklings. I was in line at the Pauly Dogs stand, ordering my 3rd and 4th veggie hot dogs since the reopening, as a herd went by with an FAC proclaiming, "and THIS is Pauly Dogs," as if the stand were an ancient reliquary. The kids just looked in awe as they continued walking and I couldn't help but smile in amusement.

It's been eleven long years since I was bouncing from first year orientation event to orientation event. I never lived on campus, so I had a very different experience. I, however, effectively grew up on the campus, so I also never had the same feelings associated with being in a new place far away from home. So many faculty and staff on campus already knew me. I did have the same challenges of making new friends and adjusting to a new academic environment and that was plenty.

There are two things that I was told my freshman year that I remember as being so pertinent that it's worth sharing in case there are any fledgling freshman readers out there:

  1. "Remember, you're supposed to be having fun."
  2. "You're on a new bell curve now."
I doubt the first one will be a problem for too many students, but I took studying way too seriously, particularly in my first year. I remember being distressed when I was a single day behind in reading for one of my courses. That became laughable in later years as the work load became greater and greater. The second is extremely important, because I think many Duke students forget that they are no longer being compared to their high school, but to some of the brightest students in the world. Even being a mediocre student at Duke is something special.

Now, working as staff, probably less than a quarter of mile from where I was born, I get to see just how many technical support balls I can keep in the air as so many of us arrange the virtual logistics for each student's academic odysseys.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Paintings from Back in the Day

A week or two ago, my parents brought over some more of my artwork, which I painted or drew many years ago. This past weekend, I photographed a couple of large pieces. Back when I originally digitized these, the only practical option I had was to photograph them with a 35mm film camera, get them developed somewhere and then scan them. I also had to keep the resolution of the scan comparatively low, because I only had a 5MB quota on my unix account. Now using a digital camera is the easiest way to get the highest resolution images and it's not unusual to have a single image larger than that entire quota. Unfortunately, I sold most of my original botanicals and can't photograph them again.

I remember being very excited about working on this Berol Prismacolor colored pencil drawing and stayed up late several nights working on it just because I had so much fun with it. When people looked at this, they said that I would be good at designing wrapping paper. I should still probably photograph this once more so I can get it a little more focused without using the flash.

I painted this in gouache, probably during the same semester of high school, in 1992. I remember painting these fish like it was yesterday, if not considerably better than that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Better and Better Every Time: Piazza Italia

Last night, after many a trip to Southpoint, my friends said it was my turn to pick a place to eat. When you are looking for a restaurant that will be acceptable to those who can't tolerate spicy or exotic food and yet will be satisfying to those who can't stand bland, Piazza Italia is an excellent place to go. In fact, I've been there three times now and it's been more and more impressive to me with every visit. It's also comparatively affordable.

First, they serve their roasted garlic, which you scoop directly out of the sliced whole head to spread on bread. If you love garlic as much as I do, which is unlikely, you will find that garlic prepared this way is the ultimate condiment. Our waiter also offered either butter or olive oil, in case anyone was feeling less adventurous.

I ordered the Mezzaluna di Pesce, which was salmon and crab ravoli in a lobster cream sauce. The sauce had large chunks of lobster, including an entire claw. The sauce also had small pieces of apple, which added a wonderful and delicate flavor to the dish. This entree is simply incredible, for only $14.

I also had to photograph KD's dish, because I thought it was really beautiful.

As I've mentioned previously, Piazza Italia has an in-house gelato store. For $6.50 you can have a large serving in a lovely glass right at your table. I recommend going to the actual store in the back, where you can get the same serving in a plastic cup for a dollar less and you can taste the flavors before you order. In fact, you might just want to get the more than adequately sized small serving for only $2. I was still able to order two flavors, pineapple and coconut, in the small size, which was perfect. It's much quieter in the gelato store, too.

You'd think that my friends might want me to pick the restaurant more often. No, now they want to eat at Piazza Italia every time instead. I won't complain.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

From the Photo Archives

As I've mentioned numerous times, I've been going through my family's photographs. I've been doing a lot of sorting, a little of actually putting photos in album pages and a lot of looking. There are thousands of photographs to go through, because I may be the first person in my family to put serious effort or at least time into this. I've been very pleased with the archival materials I've ordered, mostly from Light Impressions.

Most of the photographs I've been concentrating on are from the early 1900s, but yesterday I found and cleaned up a picture from 1976. By cleaned up, I mean there was something strange on it, but luckily it was finished in such a way that I could safely rub it off with a slightly damp paper towel.

This is one of the rare photographs, particularly before the advent of the digital camera and twenty shots could economically be taken at one time, in which I do not look in the slightest bit inebriated. In fact, given the amount of perkiness in that expression, I suspect the photographer was holding a cup of coffee to get my attention. I'm pretty sure that's how I look when someone hands me a latte now.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I Wanna Be A Rock Star?

Last night I went to the first night of the improv workshop, at the Edison Johnson Recreation Center, which I mentioned a few weeks ago. Friday night was intended to be a demo of sorts, but it was more like a teaser workshop, involving very active participation. The whole workshop is learning improvisation through Theatre Games, devised by Viola Spolin, which are, as I understand it, games for learning how to overcome some of the challenges inherent in improvisation. Listening to the other players appears to be extremely important. For example, one game involved two players' ranting about two separate topics to someone between them, resulting in their learning how to alternate their speech and interrupt each other without talking over one another. A side benefit to these games is potentially learning to be more spontaneous and perhaps learning to be more confident and outgoing in the process.

A lot of the games were fun. We talked in gibberish and two people transformed that into a hilarious scene. We played word association games did various other exercises. One game involved everyone's pretending that a coat hanger was some other kind of object. Marcia Kimmell, the instructor, also demonstrated more serious and non-comedic improvisation. Finally, we did some musical improvisation.

While participating in the musical improvisation, something really clicked. I realized how much I enjoyed that and how comfortable it felt compared to the rest of our activities. I've gotten extremely comfortable playing music with other people since I started playing guitar a year and a half ago. Now, I'm not saying, by any means, that I am actually good at playing music. My need for self-deprecation shoots through the roof when I talk about my playing abilities or when I play for a new audience. The point is that it's something that I truly enjoy and it feels natural. Performing in some theatrical way, however, doesn't feel right to me, even if it's just acting out a simple phrase. I can honestly say that I have never wanted to be an actress, even on the smallest of stages. So, I ended up deciding not to participate in the rest of the workshop, because I can't do everything and I need to focus on the artistic endeavors that feel right to me.

One thing I did reaffirm last night was that I definitely enjoy watching improv. Fortunately, we all have an opportunity to see a performance in the near future. My boss will be performing with Fatmouth Improv again, in Durham, at the Common Ground Theatre, Saturday, August 25th, at 8pm.

Meanwhile, I'll actually go practice my guitar.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tempus edax rerum

Keeping track of how one spends one time at work can be a very useful tool if one wants to get a somewhat objective look at what one is doing and how one's tasks are spread out throughout the day. This was first recommended to me by my mentor at IBM and one of his observations was that my day was "scattered", i.e. I was doing a large number of different types of tasks at seemingly random times during the day rather than doing similar tasks all at once. While structuring one's day into groups of similar tasks, such as confining the reading of e-mail to certain periods of the day, one may be more efficient, but it's not always practical in a support role. One of the observations that I found even more useful was to see just how much of my day was spent in informal meetings and helping others.

In order to make such observations, his recommendation was for me to record was I was doing during fifteen minute intervals throughout the day. These intervals could be color-coded in a spreadsheet. In the last few months, I've been doing this again to determine how much of my time is spent doing technical support and how much is spent doing other things, such as writing code or attending meetings. I've found that using Google Spreadsheets is an excellent and much easier way to track this than by using a full-blown spreadsheet package. When I was doing this before, I had a single spreadsheet for the entire year, but now I have a separate file for each week, which is more manageable. The problem with this approach is that it's difficult to get quantifiable data. While it's easy to visualize what I did in a week, it's difficult to observe long term trends. I'm guessing I could code them with an alphanumeric character and do some sort of count, but I'll have to play with that.

By reading a few days ago, I discovered an Ajax based tool called Time Tracker, by the Form Assembly. I'm told that Fred Brooks used chess clocks to keep track of his time and that is effectively what this tool provides. In many ways, it's simply marvelous. You start one timer for a particular task and when you start another one, the previous one stops. You can export to various file formats, such as XML, csv and OPML. You can adjust times with a cute little clock widget. It's far easier to keep track of time than with the spreadsheet method described above.

The problem is that the reporting isn't very readable, so for visualization purposes I still felt that I needed to color-code the spreadsheet. Another problem is if you forget to switch timers then you have to manually fix it with the widget, which I find happens a lot. I think it has enormous potential as the tool continues to get new features and some people may already find it useful for keeping track of billable time, but I've found there is surprisingly too much overhead compared to the spreadsheet method alone.

If any of my readers do try this at home and jump into the depths of time tracking, I have to recommend that you are make sure you are aware of the observer effect and also remember that explaining what you don't track can be as challenging as the categories that you do track.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Handsome Boy

I've gone over to my parents' house several times recently, to visit FIFO. Here are two photos that I thought were particularly good.

This was the first shot I got in that day, which I thought was pretty good.

This is his "maybe she'll stop taking pictures of me soon" look. He really doesn't like having his picture taken at all. I almost never use the flash, but I think he dislikes something about the autofocus. Maybe he's just embarrassed and doesn't know how handsome he is.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Three More from the Road

While I was on my trip, I enjoyed going to several eating establishments other than Mary Chung's. Mary's is closed on Tuesdays, so we had no alternative but to look elsewhere that night.

After the day of visiting the New England Aquarium and shopping, and at my brother's recommendation, we went to Durgin Park. It was founded in 1826 and is one of the oldest restaurants in Boston. It has an excellent reputation for steaks, but I still don't eat beef and I realized that it was my last real opportunity to eat lobster. I was very impressed, because they did an excellent job cooking my 1 1/4 lb. creature. I barely used any melted butter and I've found that I enjoy it much more that way now. To me, the sign of a well prepared lobster is plenty of soft and tasty protein deposits, because if it's overcooked, they will be all dried out. It was just splendid and it was lovely eating outside along the main pathway through Faneuil Hall. Their apple pan dowdy was good, but I would have probably chosen something else given another opportunity.

Earlier in the visit, my brother, Karl, suggested that we all go to Basta Pasta Trattoria, which is one of the places that he and DC visit regularly. The chef/owner has apparently worked in several famous restaurants, but always dreamed of owning a neighborhood pizza joint. They have just a few tables and the dining is very informal, but it's a nice place to sit and enjoy handmade pasta dishes. I had pasta with chicken, walnuts and gorgonzola, which was delicious.

Most visitors to Cambridge quickly find out that the place to have ice cream and related desserts is Toscanini's. When I was in the area five years ago, I got to visit the original location, in Central Square, as well as one in the MIT Student Center, building W20. I was horrified, if not devastated, to find out that the one in W20 had been replaced by a Mexican place. The original Tosci's is not exactly wheelchair accessible. They have about four large and unusually shallow steps. With calorie-burning anxiety and the help of two strong male family members, it's still doable. Unfortunately, one of Tosci's freezers had malfunctioned and they'd lost half of their ice cream stock. I chose to have a vanilla ice cream soda with mint syrup, which was subtle, but very good.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Is this a Durham-Themed Blog?

Well, no. I live closest to Hillsborough, NC, approximately nine miles from the Durham city limits. Besides, I write about whatever suits my fancy.

If you've stumbled upon this blog recently, perhaps because you've been steered in this direction in the last couple of days by Kevin or Joe, and you only read Durham blogs, then you might want to take the following into consideration.

I was born in Durham. I lived the first fourteen years of my life in Durham. I went to college in Durham. I've worked in Durham ever since I graduated from college. When I go somewhere after work other than home, it's usually in Durham. I also live on the Durham side of Hillsborough. While it appears that my collection of photos that I've taken of recognizable Durham landmarks is minute, more often than not, I write about Durham.

Now, I have to admit that my favorite restaurant is actually in Carrboro, but I can't go there every night.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Night Owl's Literary Lifehack

Ever since I moved into my own house, I've been struggling with how to make myself get up in the mornings. Of course, I always get up eventually and by some standards it's even timely. It's just not necessarily when I, personally, would choose to get up if I were completely conscious and it's not always the same hour as when my alarm first goes off.

I've tried all kinds of crazy tactics from turning on multiple alarm clocks throughout the house (all of which I can ignore) to setting my programmable thermostat to bake myself out of bed. Before I gave up on that strategy, well-done was, on occasion, the order of the day. A friend of mine once rigged up his computer and his printer to pull a cup of water onto his head at a specified time. I haven't gone that far.

Finally, perhaps inspired by the recent publicity for DailyLit, I decided to try getting up and reading a book for exactly 15 minutes before getting on with my morning hygiene routine. I've done this for a week now and it's worked flawlessly. I'd been getting behind on reading Harry Potter books, so I've been reading the 5th one, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It's exciting enough for me to want to get up out of bed to read more. The amazing thing is that I feel so much more refreshed and clearheaded than when I head straight for the toothbrush. The important thing is to have a second alarm set such that I only read for 15 minutes. After I've been reading for that long, I'm awake enough to obey the alarm and get ready.

Yes, it may take several weeks to read a book this way, but there's nothing stopping me from taking an evening to read for longer periods. I have a large stack of things I've been meaning to read, so there's plenty available for my morning reading. It's one of those rare win-win situations, where I get to read more and get to experience more of my mornings. I get to work a bit earlier and the weekends are longer, too.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

While we were in Boston, I decided to take YB's recommendation and go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which is just a hop skip and a jump from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Originally, I had planned to go both museums on the same day, but going to the MFA alway seems to take the majority of the day and we didn't want to rush it. That turned out to be a good decision, because the Isabella Steward Gardner museum deserved quite a bit of attention.

The museum, which is the house in which the wealthy art collector lived, is jam-packed full of artwork by artists such as Sargent, Zorn, Rubens, Titian and Botticelli. The house is still decorated as it was when Gardner died, in 1924, so the rooms are lit very dimly to preserve both the watercolors and the fabrics. One of the rooms has a cabinet like structure that allows people to view panels full of framed artwork as if they were pages in a book. There are far too many works to display on the walls alone. They had even more paintings, including a Monet, before a major heist in 1990.

I thought one of the most beautiful aspects of the museum was the central enclosed atrium, which is full of sculptures, palms, orchids, caryotas and hydrangeas. It just seemed extremely peaceful. The majority of the rooms of the house look out onto the atrium through glass or open windows. I actually think just the atrium alone would be worth visiting, even without the artwork in the rest of the museum.

While their elevator is old and small, it seems more modern than many of the ones on Duke's campus and it works fine. Some of the doorways on the upper floors are extremely narrow. I actually worried that my comparatively small chair was going to get stuck going through one of them on the third floor and I just barely made it through. Visitors with larger wheelchairs should definitely keep that in mind.

Another interesting characteristic is that almost none of the artwork is labeled. In a couple of the rooms with the more famous paintings, they have laminated cards indicating the artist of each of the paintings on each of the four walls. Those were extremely helpful. Later on, one of the docents recommended that we borrow a guidebook from the front desk. That was useful, but it was still difficult to identify some pieces based on their written descriptions of the everything in the room. I'm afraid that I practically detest audio tours, with rare exceptions, so I wasn't willing to use that option.

All in all, I thought it was a wonderful experience, which I would recommend highly.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Time for Tea

It's been so absurdly hot in the last few days that I've come close to appreciating winter, but I'm not quite there yet. Give me a couple of more days.

Tonight, I went to Gulf Rim, in Hillsborough, and verified that the food is still the excellent quality that it was when it was the Flying Fish. My oysters and fries were great.

I added my first poll to the blog. Check it out. It's down a ways in the left column. It took me a while to think of a nice philosophical question that would be appropriate for this blog.

May you all enjoy some nice and refreshing beverages in the next couple of days. Here's a photo of some sweet iced tea from the Refectory, which has absolute perfection when it comes to sweet tea.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mouse of Fine Arts

One of the things I traditionally do when I'm visiting Boston is go to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. My trip in July was no exception. They actually seemed to have fewer Impressionist paintings from their usual enormous collection, but they still had many impressive ones. I would imagine that whenever there is a traveling exhibition of a single artist, such as Monet, that puts somewhat of a dent in the set of ones that are permanently on display around the world. One of the most spectacular and most memorable paintings is an enormous portrait of Monet's wife in a kimono. It's very detailed and yet unmistakably in Monet's style.

They also had a special exhibition of work by Edward Hopper. Hopper's Nighthawks has been parodied countless times, so it was wild seeing the original in person. I was actually very impressed with the rest of his repertoire. His experience as a professional illustrator shined throughout his career. He was an artist who knew how to paint light and volume. His series of lighthouses looked like the true cylindrical objects that they were, almost popping out of their canvases. It was nice to see paintings that had such a range of tonal value. I would highly recommend that anyone in the Boston area go see the exhibition, which runs through August 19th.

Following lunch in the downstairs cafeteria, I was also thoroughly entertained by a mouse in the museum's open atrium. The museum is about to undergo major renovations and expansion. One fellow patron was concerned that this atrium would be eliminated by a new wing, but it looked from the plans as if this lovely sitting and eating area will be spared.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Nifty North Carolina Nature

In the past few weeks, I've been fortunate enough to be able to observe and photograph some nifty natural phenomena. Just as I was leaving the American Tobacco Campus, after a meeting, I saw a luna moth (Actias luna) lying on the ground. I've only seen maybe two or three in my life, since they aren't very common here, but this is the closest look I've ever had at one. Unfortunately, since it was blowing around a bit, I think it was a little past its prime, but it was still beautiful.

I also observed some mushrooms on the Academic Quad of Duke's West Campus.

This is what mushrooms in the same patch looked like the next day. I have no idea what kind they were. I've just discovered that trying to identify mushrooms based on photographs on the web is highly difficult for the completely inexperienced. They might be Chlorophyllum molybdites and they might not.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Looking Through Different Lenses

I've discovered an interesting pastime. While I was in Boston, I went to the New England Aquarium, which I'd last visited about ten years ago. I attempted to take several pictures, all of which I've uploaded to flickr, good and bad. Ok, they are mostly bad, because it's dark inside, fish move fast and I hadn't even played with changing the ISO setting yet. The point is that not only can one compare one's photography and feel as if everyone in the world is more talented and has a more expensive and heavier camera, but one can also see what different experiences other people have had in exactly the same setting. The latter is what is fascinating.

You can take a look at my New England Aquarium photos. Then take a look at the beautiful ones other people have taken.

The next time you go to a public place that allows photography, whether you take your own or not, try searching on that location in flickr and see what others have seen there.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Juicing and Whacking

This afternoon, I tried out my new juicer, the Black & Decker Citrusmate Plus Juicer. The limes I had looked a little worse for wear, but I had a couple of lemons that needed to be used. I decided to make about 3 cups of lemonade. The juicer was very easy to use, did the job and was surprisingly easy to clean. It was so much faster and easier than using an old fashioned manual juicer. For $18.24, that's pretty awesome. I didn't have juice flying off in all directions, but a few seeds were flung, so you have to pay attention to that.

I was pretty horrified at most of the lemonade recipes that I found on the web and in cookbooks. Most call for one part lemon juice, one part water and one part sugar. That's a LOT of sugar. I don't particularly like very sweet lemonade, so I decided to try a recipe called Lemonade #3. It was especially convenient since I only had two lemons. I thought it was good. My dad immediately ran for some Splenda.

Tonight I made Squash Stir Fry Surprise again. This time I used white wine instead of red and added two tablespoons of the lemon juice. I liked my invented dish a lot the first time I made it, but this time I thought it was incredibly good. I took CV's recommendation and whacked the head of garlic before I tried to peel it. I hit it with a can a few times and the cloves were so much easier to peel. It only took a few minutes this time. Thanks CV! The reason I've been working with whole heads of garlic so often is because we've been getting them from our Elysian Fields Farm share. When that's over, I'm sure I'll go back to using my minced garlic from Costco. I do like eating whole cloves of garlic, though.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Restaurant Newsflash!

This evening, I learned from a reliable source that the original Taverna Nikos, in Brightleaf Square, will be reopening in a week. Bill Bakis, who has been busy with Nikos Taverna in Morrisville, will be running it again. This is excellent news!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Still Don't Like Shakespeare

One thing that I forgot to mention last night is that I saw a DVD of a performance of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. It was one of the most hilarious performances that I've seen in ages. Basically, the idea is for three guys to perform the 37 plays of Shakespeare in about an hour and half with a lot of improvisation, audience participation and various other bits of hilarity.

A friend with whom I only talked on irc, back in 1993, invited me to go see one of their performances not long after I arrived on my first trip to Boston. I turned his invitation down, saying that I didn't like Shakespeare. I later regretted it, because I suspected that I would have enjoyed it. Now that I've seen the DVD, I'm sure I would have. To this day, I haven't met that friend in person and I don't think his DVD is available on Netflix.

In any case, I highly recommend and urge you to rent the DVD of the Complete Works of Shakespare (Abridged) at your earliest convenience.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Van Bambi

Well, my dad drove the van to Vann Mann, in Charlotte, this morning and the van doors naturally started working normally as soon as he got there. That figures, doesn't it? They are going to mail me a replacement chip that apparently has less of a propensity for getting into funky states. Hopefully I won't have any more problems before it gets here.

The deer are getting a tad bolder at my house. They were just outside the guest room window while I was eating dinner this evening. There were actually two fawns wandering around chewing on everything green in sight. There were several wandering around my yard this weekend, even while I was outside.

This is all she did after she started eating the forsythias and got yelled at through an open window. She moved one of her ears. She couldn't have cared less. For a mere $19.95, you, too, can come over one evening and have your ego deflated. I accept paypal.