Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lean Pockets with a Whole Grain Crust

As previously stated I am dog sitting and the dog comes with Whole Grain Lean Pockets. I have discovered these are not to my liking.

Now generally I like most whole grain foods. These however, taste more like cardboard than there white flour counterparts. I can't explain why. They just do. They are slightly better in the toaster oven than the microwave. However, only slightly.

Now on to the lean part. Generally, if a processed cheese is "light" it is not tasty. There are many cheeses made from skim milk that I like. obviously, the hot pockets is made from processed light cheese.

So if I am complacent to eat them, when there is other food in the house, why do I write about them? Well I guess this is proof some people rather sit on their soapbox than take action.

Dog Sitting

I'm watching this thing for the week.

It's name is Willie. I figured today would be his freak out day after waking up and realizing mommy didn't come home so I chose to work from home so he wouldn't be so lonely. He slept until about noon and ignored me most of the day. The one exception was a bought of activity around noon that inspired me to take him for a walk. Generally he poops in the backyard during the cold months. Since the weather was warm enough this was a bit of a treat for him.

Willie of comes with its owner's apartment. This is something I enjoy. Its not terribly far from my place and the apartment comes with food, which other than the whole grain lean pockets, I can't complain about. Being I ate lean the lean pockets twice, I guess I have little right to make that particular complaint. Fool me once, shame on lean pockets, Fool me twice, and I should have gotten pizza for lunch.

Well its off to bed. I have a full day of staring at my laptop screen from my desk tomorrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We need a figure skating channel!

Today was setup the tree day for the girlfriend. She's a fan of live trees. I grew up on artificial trees, and wish to continue the tradition when I have a family of my own. However, this is not the story of how a man and a woman compromise on important matters that define us as human beings, or at least Judeo-Christian homosapians. Rather, its about figure skating!

So, while the girlfriend was setting up the tree, and I was writing about matters of profound unimportance in this blog, the TV was on. The channel was ESPN and figure skating was the event being broadcast.

I don't remember what competition was being televised, but I was paying more attention to it than I would like. What I mean by that is I have a terrible time tuning out background noise and was distracted by the TV. However, the girlfriend wanted to watch it and I wanted to let her.

After the event , the next sport being broadcast was NFL football. Now here in the United States, we all know every man loves football, and figure skating is a womans sport. We also thank God that we have at least 5 ESPN to broadcast all sports, including "mainstream sports," "alternative sports," "extreme sports," "vintage games," and of course curling.

However, until ESPN and the Oxygen Network team up and and provide us an all figure skating channel, our Sunday afternoon rituals will be interrupted by "girl sports." So I beg of you Oxygen, deliver us from Nancy Kerrigan!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Apparently I like Congnac

Authors note: I originally wrote this on Black Friday 2007, along with several other articles I never finished. I am finishing this now. Perhaps I might get a chance to finish the rest of the series.

In between dinner in Little Italy and After Dinner Cordials at McSorley't I sampled Ferrand Cognac at Astors's Wines and Liquors. To my surprise I like cognac when its done properly. At least I like it when it's done by Ferrand.

The tasting was lead by Jean-Francois Daniel, apparently a representative of Ferrand. He claims their cognacs are comparative to single malt scotches, and I agree with that.

They showcased three of their products at the tastings. They were the 10, the 20 and the 30 year equivilant. A bit of a note on that. These are blended cognacs. In the world of scotch, a.k.a. that which I know best, to say a blend is X years old is to say that the youngest cask used in it is X years old. Apparenly, in the case of Cognac you are allowed to call something the equivalent of X years. Well despite this ambiguity, and the fact that these are blends, I reeaffirm that these are single malt scotch equivalent.

The 10 year old was quite oaky, but still a Cognac. The 20 year old was quite fruity. The thirty year old was divine. I don't pretend to have developed my pallet or pallet vocabulary enough to explain the difference. However, its there.

Friday, November 23, 2007

What Makes a Good Grab Bag Gift?

This Saturday the girlfriend is hosting a small Christmas party for her friends. By the time plans were settled, there was no time to draw names from a hat, so the gift exchange will be grab bag style as opposed to Kris Kringle. This means of course that we are tasked with picking a gift that anyone would like.

So what makes a good gift in a grab bag context? I'll set the following criteria.
  1. The gift should be consumable, that is the act of using the gift destroys it. Food, spirits and candles are examples of this.
  2. As a corollary to rule 1, if the container for a gift is meant to be saved and reused, it should be as small as possible. Stackable is an inferior but satisfactory substitute for small.
  3. As an exception to rule number 1, if it can be mostly assured that the gift's receiver will be able to make good use of the gift something permanent may be given. Seasonal items also count in this context of permanence. Examples, would be Christmas tree ornaments.
  4. I would shy away from giving something personal. Its a grab bag.
Now for the explanations.

I'm of the belief people have too much junk. I'm by no means an advocate of green living and low carbon foot prints. I just think we collect more things than we need. This is why I'm a big fan of consumable items. If I receive smoked salmon I will eat it and not have to store it in my attic. If I receive a smoker, I will cook smoked meat two or three times and then it will take up space in my garage until the statue of limitations on selling it at a garage sale passes.

Items specifically marketed as gifts in stores fall into two distinct categories. Those that come in pretty cardboard boxes with gold accents, and those that come in pretty reusable containers of non cardboard material. Opt for the former not the later. Some people are very good at making use of square wicker baskets, but most are not.

If you absolutely must give something permanent, a Christmas tree ornament is a good idea. However, there are exceptions to even this rule. Parents of older children generally have more ornaments than they need. If you compare the Christmas trees of younger adults versus older adults you will see that younger adults tend to have ornaments that are sold in ten packs and older adults have acquired more than their share of unique ornaments of sentimental value.

Am I being just slightly heartless here? Yes I am. However, that is the point. I am a packrat by nature. Many others are like me. We all like to give and receive gifts. If you give me a gift I probably will never throw it away, and the same is true for my fellow packrats. By following my guidelines, you allow the gift giving and receiving to continue, without causing attics to become needlessly cluttered.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Obligatory Happy Thanksgiving Post

Today is Thanksgiving in the United States. I don't want to get into a history of the Holiday at this time. Rather than attribute it to certain parties, I will point out the origins of the concept of thanksgiving.

Originally, days of thanksgiving were days spent in church declared whenever something good happened in the community. What we call Thanksgiving evolved from special day of Thanksgiving declared once a year as a harvest festival that in addition to the church going, had a large feast associated with it. It was usually on a Thursday in New England because that was the day of the midweek prayer service., so most people attended then.

Each colony would declare a thanksgiving once a year and eventually it became a national holiday. These days the president pardons a turkey, and eats another.

Perhaps one day I will further study the origins of this holiday and report them here. Until then, happy thanksgiving to all readers of my blog and their families.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A blog as a journal that just happens to be public

Some bloggers that deem themselves successful think that the bad ones are doing a disservice by existing. I don't believe this, but I am obviously biased. First of all, my Google searches are not filled up with irrelevant personal anecdotes. so I do not see how anyone suffers because people like me make their hatred of whole wheat lean pockets public. Secondly, these blogs serve a similar purpose as a journal does to the writer. I say similar because as I recently realized there is a different between a public blog and a private journal.

I'm rather straightforward in this blog, but not because I hide under the blanket of anonymity. A quick Google search of my handle will turn up my real name and my email address. Because of this, there are certain things I won't say for various reasons. These are not of the secrets I will take to my grave variety. They are more along the lines of things I'd rather not let certain people know. Many of them I have no problem with letting most of my friends and total strangers know. It would just be for the best if certain other people didn't know.

An example of information I previously wanted to keep secret from certain parties is I quite my job as a customer service representative for an ISP to work for a company that printed t-shirts as a programmer. Except for the first couple of months at the new job I worked weekends at the old job. Now I probably would not be fired for having a second job, but its generally not something looked upon in a positive light. This is especially true when you are a salaried employee. At this point in time I no longer work for either party so I don't mind sharing this fact.

At the time I did note in my myspace blog that I was moonlighting, and my new coworkers found me and my blog with my little secret. In the end nothing came of it, but it was stupid on my part.

So your potential audience affects what you say. While in general I may write the same sort of things in this blog as I would in a journal, some things are said differently because others might see them. The same could be said for a journal I intend no one but myself to see as opposed to one I would allow others to see.

In my case that means certain things are not said, Also, I make an attempt to make events sound more interesting since I potentially have an audience. In that regard I find this blog a better tool for improving my writing than a journal. The hope that random people will find me interesting enough to read me regularly makes me want to say something interesting.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Observations on airport security.

My company has an office in Florida. I am flying back from my second trip there. Both times I've smuggled contraband on the plane. By contraband I mean items that I can't technically take on a plane, but would not make effective weapons.

The first time I traveled there I brought a larger than 10 oz container of body wash in my carry on. As JFK they just didn't notice it. It was confiscated on the way back at FLL. The second time I brought network cable crimping equipment on. I was told by the TSA employees at JFK it was ok. In line for scanning on the way back a read a sign that specifically forbid tools such as screwdrivers and hammers. I think a crimper, punch down tool and wire stripper fall into that category. Somehow I make it through screening.

This is what I don't like about the war on terror. I don't know enough about security to be able to make statements about the usefulness of flight regulations. However, I think that not enforcing them is probably a bad idea.

These sorts of incidents eventually lead me to think how I would behave if another passenger on a plane I am taking announces he is hijacking the plane, I plan on making it very clear they will have to kill me before they bring down the plane. Of course being unmarried and childless I have the luxory of being able to make principled stands like that. At least in my own mind I do.
Cars, Trains, and Airplanes

The past 72 hours have been quite interesting for me. Below is the run down.

I left work at 17:00. I was given two tickets to the New York Performance of Blue Man Group. They are not affected by the stage hand strike. I think the stage hands are actually actors as they participate in the show and take their bows at the end. Curtain time is 20:00. My plan was to drive from work to Jamacia Station, then take the LIRR and the A train to my destination. My girlfriends plan was to take the bus to the PATH Train to the A train.

This part of the plan executed fine, except for a minor reroute on my girlfriends part. We grabbed sandwiches for dinner. The show was excellent. Afterwards we took a taxi to the world trade center. She takes the PATH train to the Godless land across the Hudson that no New York enjoys going to unless he happens to be one of New Yorks Strongest driving a garbage truck. I take the A train back to Queens. As I am walking from the subway station to my house I remember that my car is in Jamacia.

This meant that I would have to wake up an hour earlier, walk to JFK airport, take the Air Train. Pay $5 dollars to get off at Jamacia, and walk to my car. Normally this would be a minor inconvenience. However, I happened to have to catch the 6:55 Jet Blue flight to FLL in the morning. This cut 5 hours of sleep down to 4. I could not leave my car there because it would be ticked and possibly towed in the morning, and my laptop, which I would need in Florida, was there.

I wake up, stuff a change of cloths into my jacket pockets and begin my pilgrimage to my car. I arrive at my car. Soon after starting my car I discover that there is so much dew I will have to clean off the windows by hand. This is a task that has always annoyed me greatly. I take a short drive back to my house and walk back to JFK.

Upon arriving at security, I began top remember the multitude of rules the TSA enforces at these check points. Mainly I keep alot of junk in my book bag and pockets, and much of it is electronic. I average about 4 trays at the scanners. I forgot toiletries, so I don't have to worry about the liquid rules.

However, I dis have one thing to worry about, a set of network cable tools. These are strange looking and have sharp edges. Luckily the TSA employee knows what they are and after a consult with her red shirted supervisor I am allowed to bring these weapons of mass communication upon the plane.

The flight departs on time and is uneventful. No one claps when we land. This pleases me. Unless an engine catches fire I feel clapping is unwarranted. If you are a nervous flyer I suggest you OD on caffine and take a 16 hour nonstop flight. Repeat until flight does not bother you. If you fear terrorists, consider flying a stupid, but brave symbolic act.

I am offered a Dodge Charger upsell by Avis for only $10 more a day. The clerk did no know the engine in it, and I didnt check. I believe it was the V-6. There is no tiptronic like shifting. Wikipedia claims that on a Dodge the closest technology would be called AutoStick. The interior is very spartan. It was an interesting change from my Corolla. The squareness of the front allowed me to park easier. That being said, I'll take my 5 speed corolla any day over an automatic Dodge Charger.

The business aspect of Floridia was fairly straightforward. I took a walk down Hillsboro Blvd looking for a place to eat and eventually settled on a Mexican restaurant. I walked back to my hotel, watched some TV and went to sleep.

They next day was more of the same and the trip back to the airport. The TSA employee was very insistent that I only use the trays for my laptop and shoes and keep the rest of my bag intact. Small trays were provided for pocket contents. They much have newer scanners there, and to my surprise, my bag doesn't require manual inspection.

I get to my flight gate and discover the flight is delayed. It was scheduled to depart FLL at 18:10. A little after 7 we were allowed on the plane. Its now 20:00 and I am sitting in seat 20C, typing this from the Tarmac, As I finished the last sentence, at 20:03 an announcement was made that planes destined for JFK are now allowed to take off.

---------- HIBERNATE LAPTOP ----------

---------- UNHIBERNATE LAPTOP ----------

20:35 and I'm in the air. I'm anticipating my Dunkin Donuts coffee black no sugar and blue potato chips.

I end up home a little before 01:00.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Christman List Fun

My mother requested a Christmas list from myself and my girlfriend. I post the email thread here for the amusement of the general public.

The lists


A house plant

German Shepard
world peace
world domination

The response

Thank you for your Christmas List. However, there is shortage on
ponies, German shepherds decided to travel back to their homeland.
underwear that's a good possibility as long as its USA made, but what is
the size. world peace sounds heavenly but out of my control and world
domination--you're asking for too much.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Confusing Marketing

Ok sometime I see something and just want to say what the heck. Palm's marketing copy for their Centro is one of those things.

The Centro's product page says the following:
Life starts after five o'clock. That's why there's the Palm® Centro™ smartphone. Palm Centro gives you voice, text, IM, email and web, all in a phone that's a lot smaller than you think. It even has a touchscreen and a full keyboard, so you can say L8R to those tricky keys on your cell phone. Carry names and numbers, shoot photos and video, and meet up with friends. Centro. Let's go.
What were they thinking? If you have a smart phone, you generally use it because you are a workaholic. You don't use it for you outside the office life. Even if it is a toy you use to communicate with your friends, you're probably using it to check your rss feeds or myspace messages when you should be talking to the girl sitting next to you, since its 5 o'clock and that means its happy hour.