Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Family Trip

We just returned from a family trip to Los Angeles so the boys could meet their great grandmother. She's a spry 98, and it was a joy to have her see the next generation on Thanksgiving.

We were worried at how well the babies would fly, especially since babies can't easily relieve the pressure in their ears when a plane takes off and lands. The boys did fine. In fact, they were great travelers, even putting up with a maintenance delay before the last leg of the flight.

More importantly, the family took a couple of side trips after visiting great grandma on Saturday. We foolishly tried to go to farmer's market, a place I have fond memories of from my youth. Earlier in the day, before we left the house to visit great grandma, my sister told me that the market had become a bit more commercialized. I imagined there would be more stores selling "stuff" and less food and produce. I had no idea what commercialized might mean. It was a mall. A big mall. There was a parking structure that looked to be eight stories high, if not ten. Check out the list of stores there here. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The traffic was unbelievable. We didn't stop, but it still took over half an hour to work our way out of the mess.

We ended up in Little Tokyo eating at Hibachi BBQ Korean Kitchen. The service was great, with two middle-aged, spunky women doting on us because of the boys. I had beef BBQ and my wife had chicken BBQ, both on the suggestion of a server. We weren't disappointed. To end the experience, we walked to the local market and purchased some Pocky for my wife. The boys slept the entire time, from the moment we left the car, ate lunch, wandered through some stores, and then hit the market. It was a fine day. It was a fine weekend.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Forays into the World

Our newly doubled family has made few forays into the world as we adjust to our new life, but today we ventured forth with some friends for a late breakfast. We went to Country Jim's, a homey restaurant we like because the breakfasts are pretty good, the service is adequate, and the place is pretty quiet. Not today. Aside from the food being pretty good, everything else fell apart. Most of the problems, I suspect were because the place was full. They had large parties of around 15 in the back, the section that is non-smoking and has the best windows. We sat near the front, where there was a draft and occasional wafts of smoke stinking up my clothes. (When I go to restaurants I know stink from smoke, I wear a set of clothes I don't care much about and that I'll just throw in the laundry (or burn pile) when I get home.)

Because of the crowds I attribute to some less that religious church (probably Unitarian or Episcopalian), the service was painfully slow. They ran out of coffee mugs. I have never heard of a place serving breakfast running out of coffee mugs. That's like a deli running out of meat at lunch. We eventually got our coffee. The food came slowly, both in terms of our wait for it to arrive and the number of trips the server had to make because she forgot something or something wasn't ready in the kitchen. But the food was good. I and a friend had onions added to our hash browns, and they really did a nice job with them, adding a nice flavor to a typically bland food. The eggs, over hard (I don't believe in eating runny yolks. It's disgusting.), were fine, though no on does them as well as Steady Eddy's at the Farmer's Market. Finally, my toast was toast. I don't have much to say about toast unless it's sourdough or someone messes it up. Though my coffee cup ran dry, I got enough coffee. Ultimately, because of the company, the outing was nice. I'll give Country Jim's another chance because we've had such success there in the past.

It was nice to venture back into world.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

My Prolonged Absence

Here's the reason for my absence of late:

Jonas Levi, 6 lbs. 11 oz., 20", born Oct. 23, 2005 at 3:15 a.m. (on right)
Micah James, 6 lbs. 5 oz., 19.5", born Oct. 23, 2005 at 3:17 a.m. (on left)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Zagat's Outtakes

If you want some critiques for restaurants, here are some doozies. I stumbled across these on the Zagat's website. It's a list of outtakes that didn't make the cut for reviews. Others were found here. It was tough to pick a favorite. Many made me laugh out loud. My favorite:

"Suffers from delusions of adequacy."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pez and MP3s

An entrepeneur turns a Pez dispenser into an MP3 player. Now that's cool.

Check it out here.

This photo was blatantly taken from the Pez MP3 website. Thanks.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

KKK on Michigan Public Television

I like to think of myself as a free speech advocate, but thinking of seeing the Klan on television, public television no less, really makes me sick. I will refrain to falling back onto inappropriate language, slander, stereotypes, and other fleeting thoughts of adolescently vengeful acts against the Klan and people who would agree with them. But I will write that this confirms yet again for me how far our "enlightened" society, our "shining city on a hill" has to go before we can really raise our heads and be proud. For more information on the Klan program, read here; I must admit I didn't see it on the programming at the Midland Public Television site here, but WNEM 5 says it will be on.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Fasting

For the past 24 hours I ate no food for Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. I feared this would be challenge. I always fear it. Despite spending over half the day with a splitting sinus headache from allergies and being unable to take medications or water, it was a relatively easy fast.

Some friends and acquaintances ask why I fast, especially since I tend to be a bit lax with other Jewish laws. I admit to doing it partly out of religious obligation, but I have also developed other reasons that may or may not be tied to the origins for the fast. As a food lover who lives in a relatively comfortable lifestyle in the first world, I never really want food. "Starving" for me really means going an hour or two longer that I would like for a meal. It means my stomach growls while I teach class. I don't take this luxury lightly, and an annual fast gives me the opportunity to contemplate how lucky I am to have food. When I use the hyperbole "There's nothing to eat in the house," with my wife, it really means I'm being unusually picky about what I want to eat. I understand that drinking filtered water to pacify my appetite so I won't eat a carton of ice cream too close to going to bed so I won't gain weight or have bad dreams seems absurd when people in our country can't get clean water and people in other countries can't get water at all. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wake up thirsty, but I won't drink the water next to my bed because it's been there a couple of days. Again, a luxury.

So I fast. I feel weak and relatively tired. I think that a simple pill and a glass of water will make me feel better. But I resist. I suffer. And I'm glad. I feel one infinitesimal piece of the suffering others less fortunate may feel. It reminds me to be grateful for what I have. And I am.

There is more. A fast also forces me to focus on my body. I become acutely aware of where my head hurts. A the day wears on I become more aware of my blood circulating without caffeine or carps or fat. I don't have endorphins floating around from chocolate. It is just me. Maybe I'm imagining things, but I feel like there's more room for oxygen in my bloodstream. Despite the way I feel physically, I feel good.

Late in the day, my wife and I take a hike in a nearby nature center, For-Mar. My body does surprisingly well. I am glad to be in nature, even if this spot is like a zoo for trees and animals that are unfortunate enough to be trapped in suburbia. Even without food or water, I feel like I could walk for hours, but we play it on the safe side. My wife, nine months pregnant, would probably not like staying all day, though knowing For-Mar has become my synagogue, I know she would stay as long as I'd like. We walk for an hour.

We return home and shortly after sunset, my wife makes a full dinner for us. My sister-in-law brought some cake by earlier in the day, and we have that for dessert. I'm back to my other life, but I have a recent reminder, a poinient experience to remember how fortunate I am in mind and body and spirit.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Blogging on the Internet

If one blogs on the Internet and no one is there to see it, does it make any pixels?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Germ Warfare on Protesters

Okay, I admit it. I'm a conspiracy theorist. I love them because they explain things that are often difficult to explain. Oh, and the explanations are always interesting and exciting. That's much more fun than some kind of "anomaly" or "hallucination." So, imagine my joy and fear when I discovered this from MoxyGrrrl. MoxyGrrrl's blog entry details her friend's ordeal, including an update from the friend, about a recent protest in D.C. and how he got sick from a rare germ. The story gets creepy when you read the likelihood and how much was seemingly found in the area. Then it gets creepier when you learn that it was found in 6, count them 6, D.C. filters. What are the odds? Okay, it gets still creepier when you view the coincidence that it happened the day of a protest. What are the odds? (If you were at the protest and survived, I say you play the lottery.)

Now I'm not a regular reader of MoxyGrrrl, so I can't really comment on the blog, but it caught my attention and freaked me out a bit. I haven't totally lost my grip with reality, so I did just a little bit of investigating (clicked on one of her links), and found this. ABC News, the corporate media, carried a blurb online about the germ. I have to get back to work, so I can't dig too much further, but all the details make for a great conspiracy theory. Maybe one that's too good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Other White Meat

I stubbled across this in one of my recent insomniatic fits. It appears our government find it fit to spend 500 grand, yes $500,000 dollaroonies to paint the side of commercial airliner to look like a fish.

I'm sure just how outraged I should be. It's only art. Art can't hurt you. Of course, it won't serve as body armor for our soldiers in Iraq and it won't provide shelter for those who lost their homes in recent hurricanes. It will promote salmon fishing and tourism in Alaska, just as the cooler season up north rolls in. I wonder how many college grants 500 grand would buy? I wonder how many full-ride scholarships to help kids out of poverty 500 grand would buy? I wonder how many roads could be paved in Flint with 500 grand?

Maybe it's better if we continue to prop up the ailing airline industry. We're overdue for another corporate welfare bailout anyway.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Verification of Comments

I've added a feature to this blog that requires readers verify they are sentient beings before leaving a post. Sadly, I've been getting more spam lately and want to cut it out. Spam is easy to delete, but as many of you know, it can become time-taxing and a regular annoyance. Other bloggers have been using different approaches to solve this problem, including eliminating comments all together. I don't want to do that, or even limit comments to those registered with blogger, so I've added the verification feature.

On a related note, I get frustrated because our government vilifies spam, passes laws against it, and increasingly wants to regulate the Internet to control it. But, the government doesn't seem to care about junk mail we get via the USPS. Now, I'm not so naive to think it doesn't have to do with money. Small government advocates (who used to be republicans, but now I'm not so sure) would say we give too much money to the USPS already and that "direct mailers" helped keep the USPS afloat and the price of stamps lower. That may be true, but when viewed holistically, the time it takes to eliminate the mail so one's identity can't be stolen and the space it takes in landfills must equal, if not outweigh, the financial loss to the government. I admit this is more an armchair theory than a well-researched argument, but I wonder.

The moral of the story is: please verify you are a human when adding comments to this blog. Thanks.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bangkok Peppers

My wife and I regularly get a hankering for Thai food. Our favorite dish is the common and popular Pad Thai, but we also love a good beef salad. (If someone knows where to get an outstanding beef salad, please let us know. Our initial foray into beef salad was with a friend in Pasadena, California. We've been mildly disappointed ever since. Ryann, if you read this, please send me the name of that restaurant along with some of that amazing beef salad.) But finding the perfect beef salad is not the purpose of this post.

Last night we went to Bangkok Peppers for a light meal. We each started with a spring roll, which they do quite well with. I could make a meal of them. For a main dish, I had rard na. It was a noodle dish with a brown sauce; it was quite good, but not the "medium" hot I asked for. In fact, it was mild, but good. My wife had a beef salad and a cup of tom yum soup. That was fabulous. Their version is a soup with "lemon grass, straw mushrooms, onion, tomato, Thai herbs, lime juice, and cilantro." It is a popular soup in Thailand and should be more popular here. As you know, we only think the beef salad is adequate. If it were worse, we wouldn't order it, but if it were better we wouldn't dream of a beef salad had years ago in Pasadena.

Having eaten here a number of times, I would regularly recommend it, but we had a problem last night. The food and service was fine; it was the bill that infuriated me. I looked at the bill, which I never look too closely at, and I saw a two dollar charge. We ordered nothing for two dollars. I drew attention to the server, who said the hostess, who wrote the bill, added the charge because we were "sharing" our food. I imagine she assumed my wife's salad was considered an appetizer. The server said she would take care of it. She took the bill, returned a minute later, and said it was taken care of. The two dollar charge was removed. I looked at the bill and the final cost was a penny more than it was before the two dollar charge was scratched out. What the heck?! I totaled the bill and saw it was wrong. I brought the bill to the hostess to pay and told her I thought it was misadded. This time the bill was correct. I paid; we left.

Will we return -- probably. The choices for Thai food in our area are slim. But I will be wary if we go, and I'll never embrace it as I had before.

Bangkok Peppers is located at 1040 E. Hill Rd. in Grand Blanc. Don't confuse it with Bangkok Cafe which is located just a few blocks away. You can read my comments on the Bangkok Cafe here.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Why Do People Hate Americans?

Okay, I know the title of this post could involve a long list, but I just found something Andrew Sullivan wrote that profoundly disturbed me. It appears a website is offering soldiers sexual porn for grotesque pictures from Iraq. For the same sick, inexplicable reason one looks at horrific car accidents on the highway, I was compelled to see if this was for real. After just a little searching on the sight, I found what Sullivan described. I must admit that the few pictures I saw, though graphic and disturbing were no worse than the quick clips I see on television when I don't know to change the channel or look away.

I know there is a long tradition of disgusting behavior by the military that spans history, armies, countries, and continents, but I am amazed at how disgusting humans can be in our self-defined "enlightenment." We claim people hate us because of our freedom? Maybe, I won't presume to know. But this is just wrong. And I'm sick.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bush and the Bottle

It appears the sleuths at The National Enquirer have uncovered a story most will find shocking: Bush fell off the wagon. Read about it here. See a photo of Bush with alcohol in hand here. Somehow I can't say it surprises me. If I were in that horrible job, I'd drink more than Nixon did. It's a job that is always under scrutiny, and nearly half the American population complains about what you do. Right now, Bush is being hammered for his actions, or lack of action, and I think he's getting a deserved rap. Sometimes I'm shocked that he doesn't get more heat, but I understand how hard it is for much of the country to realize the mistake they made. So, if I were Bush, I'd want a stiff drink, too. I can't say I won't be surprised if we find out he's been snorting the white stuff again, too.

Drinking would also explain much of Bush's erratic behavior, too. He often seems disoriented, at a loss for words (worse than normal), and trying to talk to people who are even there (for more information, see this). Then there is a story from the New York Times showing Bush's desperate attempts to link 9/11 and Katrina; Bush's non sequitors are frightening. Read them here. His handlers better be careful or we'll see him with the DTs.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Pirates! Run!

Arrrr! I can't believe I didn't remember that today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. For more information on the day, click here. I encourage everyone to talk like a pirate today. It's important that we support the heratige of the pirate. Of course, this is the heritage of the mythic English/American pirate glorified or villified in movies, not the pirates who currently terrorize the Asian and African coasts.

Make Johnny Depp proud.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Language Matters

Here's yet another reason why one should be careful about language:

For more information on this photo, click here, or copy and paste this address into your browser address bar: http://www.snopes.com/photos/katrina/disaster.asp

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Block Party

Today my wife and I went to a block party one away from ours. Interestingly, we have many friends on that block, but none really on our own. Fortunately we were invited to the party because, well, we're friends with many on the block. I'd never been to a block party before; we arrived too late for one on the same block two years ago. This was a nice event. It was an excuse to visit with neighbors we regularly see and others we only say hello to when we walk the neighborhood.

So why an entry here? It seems to fit into my vision of the mythic American family life. A block party where people eat three kinds of turkey (roasted, smoked, and deep-fried), potato salad, and dishes and dishes of desserts. We sat in chairs around tables in the street. Kids played around the adults like satellites. The tree-lined street provided shade, while all of the women asked my wife about our coming twins. I feel like I've seen this on an after-school special or on an episode of Little House on the Prairie.

I've often railed against nostalgia for a time that never existed, but there are kernels of truth in that nostalgia.

We were only there a couple of hours. The party was only a few. It was perfect. After we returned home, I felt like we had traveled to a different time, but then I realized this was just the right time.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Pudu Pudu?

As I battle a splitting sinus headache, and I try to be productive, I have stumbled across the endangered Pudu Pudu. The creature, which I discovered at this site, is cute as a button and looks like the perfect food for a komodo dragon, though in the wrong part of the world. Sure the Pudu Pudu may be an elaborate hoax, like the jackelope, but I don't think so. If I had more time I'd do more research. I know our dog Bailey (G-d rest his cute, pouty-faced soul) would have loved one as a playmate almost as much as a fainting goat.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


This won't come as a surprise to most readers of TML, but I'm going to become the father of twins soon. The babies are due October 22, but there is a good chance they will be born this month. Over the summer, instead of updating this blog, I was busy "nesting" by helping my wife and by preparing the house for our new family members. Part of that preparation, and part I take particular pride in, has been building cribs for them. Many TML readers who have known about my project have wanted to see my work, so here are a couple of pictures. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bangkok Cafe

Last night some friends and I went to the Bangkok Cafe at 6004 Torrey Rd. and had a fine meal. The restaurant is small, only about 8-10 tables, and it's located in a small strip-mall. It has standard strip-mall decor, simple decorations and tables that vaguely hint at something Eastern. Tolerably comfortable chairs, but really the kind of place that reminds me of a graft, like the movie The Sting, in which an entire place can be transformed into an office in moments with no hint of its past.

My friends and I arrived for an early dinner and the place was empty, but by the time we left there were 3 other tables with people. Oddly, I think there was only one person working in the restaurant, in the front and back. The man was pleasant enough and somewhat attentive. I was never left wanting anything.

I couldn't resist ordering the standard Pad Thai. I know it isn't necessarily the best Thai food, or the most interesting, but I just love it. I can imagine someone opening a Thai restaurant and dedicating an entire kitchen section for the production of Pad Thai because so many patrons order it. I did. And guess what? It was great. In fact it was so good my friends were shocked I ate my entire dinner so fast. (I told them if they spent so much time gossiping that they didn't get a chance to eat.) Another friend ordered the Pad Prik, and that was very good as well. And though he ordered his medium spicy, like I did, his wasn't nearly as hot. Still, it was very good.

I'd go back, but not for the atmosphere. It would just be for the food. I recommend it to you as well.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Mad Cow is Coming, Mad Cow is Coming!

Okay, maybe the sky isn't falling, but I stumbled across this article on the problems with US beef and why we are at risk of an outbreak of mad cow disease. In fact, the blog links to story of someone in Japan who caught it (here). It's only a matter of time until the US has a legitimate outbreak with current beef feeding practices, or the government will continue to hide the beef industry's dirty, repulsive secret of feeding blood and sinew of dead cattle to other cattle.

Now go fire up that grill and plop on some burgers. . . or some portabellas.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Just a picture I took in the garden yesterday.

John's "Family" Pizzeria

Some friends and I went to a new Italian restaurant last night in search of better pizza. I had stumbled upon John's while driving down Davison Road for an appointment and decided it might be worth a try. It was.

One might question whether the "Family" in quotes in the name was for the mob or more a family-style restaurant. It's definitely the latter. This restaurant is well-lit, has very homey decorations, including lighted plastic grapes (a nice touch) and odd, painted portraits. We were sure it wasn't a mob front when we saw they didn't have a liquor license and they carried chocolate milk. I hoped to see a mob boss or cappo, but all I saw were locals who walked to the restaurant from the neighborhood. I also noticed none of them ordered pizza, what we had gone to the restaurant for, and was a bit disconcerted. But the menu had many items I'd like to try, including "Baked Italian Favorites" like ravioli and vegetable lasagna. I really like baked pasta.

We sat in a large booth and often waited longer than I would have liked for service, but the server was nice. We ordered two large pizza and a appetizer combo plate. It came with the usual assortment of frozen snacks like onion rings, zucchini, mushrooms, and cheese. It was adequate; how can you screw up fried food? The pizzas, one with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and yellow peppers and the other with pineapple, green peppers, and ham, were decent. Nothing stood out as great except the crust, which was thin and very crisp. We loved that but collectively decided we preferred Luigi's toppings better.

We considered dessert but opted to go back to our friends' house and have ice cream and conversation.

I would be happy to go there again and try some of the other things on the menu, but I don't know if I will seek the place out.

Recommendation: Maybe, but it didn't set my heart aflutter.

Monday, May 23, 2005

World Expo of Beer in Frankenmuth, MI

Okay, first let me state I'm not a big fan of Frankenmuth because it's primarily a tourist destination and home to the largest Christmas complex in the world. Why the Christian god decided to shine down on a small town in mid-Michigan, I don't know, but he did. And now we have Bronner's.

But more to the point of this post. My wife, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law all went to Frankenmuth to partake in the 10th Annual World Expo of Beers. Frankenmuth has large tents set up with 32 different beer booths. Brewers ranged from the juggernauts of Coors and Anhueser Busch to microbrewers like Dragonmead Microbrewery and Frankenmuth Brewery.

I avoided the larger brewers and focused on the small (and German). Overall I was pleased. A $1 ticket bought a 4 oz. sample, and the brewers were generous with the pour (occasionally forgetting to take my ticket). They even had a few booths with food and souvenirs.

We stayed nearly 2 hours at the Expo. We didn't stay for the music, and we sadly missed Beer School. But we had seen what we wanted and tasted what we wanted, so we decided to venture into the main strip of Frankenmuth to act like the tourists we were.

On the strip, we wandered into shops and enjoyed a perfectly warm sunny day. We ate at the Bavarian Inn Restaurant and had their "famous" chicken dinner. It's really good fried chicken and it comes with lots of other goodies, like stuffing (good tasting -- soggy texture), mashed potatoes (good --how can you screw those up?), and three "salads" that included a bean salad, pasta salad, and some kind of cranberry-orange relish-type salad (very good and refreshing). The meal is finished with a small bowl of ice-cream.

As tourists we had a good time sampling candy and cheeses. If you haven't been to Frankenmuth, it's worth a visit just to see what it's like. If you can time it during one of Frankenmuth's festivals it's even better. I don't recommend going any time near Christmas (Nov. 1 - Jan. 15) when things seem a bit crazier there. I still have never been to the enormous Bronner's CHRISTmas complex, so I can't recommend it either. But if you like fried chicken and have some good friends to go with, it's worth a trip every few years.

As a last note, we stopped at my wife's grandmother's house for visit and got a homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie. They are amazing. My favorite pie after having hers. Sorry, you'll have to get your grandmother to make it. I'm not sharing.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Frist Filibuster

Check out Princeton University's Filibuster of Senator Frist. You can watch it live here. It's already been going on for nearly 70 hours. I think it's great, not only because I think changing the senate rules for something I disagree with would be terrible, but I think it's great that students are taking an active, creative role in politics.

If more students and young people became more active in politics, the future of America would be better represented in government. It wouldn't just be rich, special interests (read large corporations) that really should have no say in government that had an influence.

My two cents for the morning.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Lunch Studio

Despite having a stuffy nose, and thus an inability to taste, I went with friends to The Lunch Studio today for, what else, lunch. I've been skeptical of The Lunch Studio since it took over two hours to get served Sunday brunch. It wasn't so much that it took 2 hours(that just happened to some friends and I at the French Laundry in Fenton, but I'll get over it), it's that the service is so idiosyncratic and prolonged that the experience, well, was not really worth a return visit.

Let me digress. They don't have a coffee pot. When you want a refill, the server, when she materializes from the ether, takes your cup, fills it from an unknown source, and returns it. One cup at a time. I don't think she even took one cup in each hand. I recall she did it one cup at a time. Thank goodness I wasn't fourth or fifth in line for a cup.

The food had a similar pattern. One person at a time, and sometimes it was one plate at a time. So your eggs could be cold, or eaten, before your bagel arrived. The food once it arrived was fairly good, but not nirvana.

But that was brunch. Today we had lunch, and the assurance from my friend the service was better for lunch. And it was. I had a grilled cheese with tomato and a cup of blended roasted pepper and corn soup. Both were good; I would recommend them. The service again was a bit odd. It was prompt (a plus), but we received our soup before our sandwiches. One friend, who was only having soup, had his with ours, so while two of us ate sandwiches, he could only watch (I was never good at sharing). Now most restaurants I've eaten at serve "soup and sandwich" together. It's obviously a service choice, but what I think is an odd one.

The food was good, the service fine (despite the oddities), and the company exquisite. I'm sure I'll return because I believe is supporting businesses in downtown Flint and it has a fairly good menu with healthy and vegetarian options (read -- not Coney).

If your around town and have some time, consider stopping in, but be prepared for quirky service.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Spring Showers?

It's still snowing.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Illegal Executions

As many of my friends know, I am adamantly against the death penalty. Despite research that shows the death penalty does not deter crime and costs more than incarcerating a prisoner for life, and despite the seemingly clear idea that killing someone does not fit into the "culture of life" (read Pope not Prez on this one), states still insist on murdering those who perpetrate heinous crimes (and one former governor mocked those condemned).

I'm still not sure how the state murdering someone does not violate the 8th Amendment, but maybe I'm slow. I know how Texas is trying to get around the "unusual" part of the amendment: kill as many as they can and then it won't be unusual (According to the BBC story Texas and Virginia account for 45% of executions in the US. I don't doubt it.). The cruel part, though, has come into question from a recent BBC report. It seems victims of state-sponsored murder may have been "aware" during their execution. It's a good thing guards use a paralyzing agent so victims can't move, scream, or provide any other clue to their suffering other than some apparent muscle thatches.

It seems that victims may not have gotten enough of the drug sodium thiopental, an anethetic that supposedly numbs them before they are given pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes them before they are given potassium chloride, which kills them. It seems the drugs were administered by untrained staff, and they do not know how much dosage to administer.

Okay, now explain to me how this isn't cruel?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What Would Hemingway Say?

Did you know Wisconsin is considering cat hunting? Yes, those cute little furry creatures who like to snuggle up to you while you're on the couch or trying to work at the computer. They're only following the model set by South Dakota and Minnesota. Oh, hunters would only be allowed to kill feral cats, or any domesticated cat that isn't under the control of its owner. Well, I know all of the cats in my neighborhood are always under the control of their owners when they're outside.

This is important because according to a state [Wisconson I assume] study, feral cats kills 47 million to 139 million song birds a year. With highly accurate and specific studies like these, I can see the immediate need.

I'm interested to think about how cunning a hunter must be to stalk another predator. Would we need to cat-bait with cans of tuna fish? Would we use decoys, like stuffed Tiggers or Hello Kitty? I can see it now. We can have Hello Kitty crying for help from the evil clutches of Scooby Doo! Surely some cat would come to her rescue.

I think Michigan should jump on the bandwagon before it's the last state in the Midwest to allow cat hunting. I can only imagine the tourist revenue that will be lost because we're behind the times. Come on Lansing, get with the program. Hunting Mourning Doves is so last year. Now it's cats!

[Update: Apparently the governor of Wisconsin killed the cat-hunting bill. Read more here.]

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Michigan State Women's Basketball

I was sorry to see the Michigan State women lose in the championship game (especially to a team from Texas). They had a great season.

I also didn't hear about any rioting in East Lansing. Hmmm. Interesting.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Go State!

Well it appears Michigan State showed its true colors again. Win or lose, State fans like to cause trouble. I'm not sure why they don't care if they are sprayed with pepper spray or gagged with tear gas. Somehow neither of those options appeals to me. Now, if a cop in full riot gear (this is worthy of analysis, too, but maybe in a different post) reads a message asking me to disperse after a sporting event or risk suffering bodily harm and arrest, I'm going to leave or go back into the bar.

Clearly having half the police force of southern Michigan in riot gear standing in the street lends itself to another potential Kent State, but losing a sports event isn't worth it. If you think it is, get a life. There are far more worthy things for college students to protest. (For example, the Michigan government going back on its promise to not cut higher ed. money if higher ed. doesn't raise tuition beyond the rate of inflation. Granholm looks to be doing it for the second year in a row. Now that is worth protesting.)

I wonder if MSU fans will riot after the MSU women play in the championship game. Then again, I wonder if most fans there even know the women are in the championship game.

Go State! You make us proud.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Eating in Adrian

On Friday I attended a conference in Adrian, and I had to eat breakfast before I arrived. I stopped at the first small restaurant I saw, the Main Stop Restaurant, because it had a sign that it was voted the best restaurant in Adrian. I later learned it won the best breakfast in Adrian four years in a row (1999-2002).

I sat at the counter, something I used to love to do, but seldom do now because I don’t typically eat out alone any more. The place is small, with fewer than a dozen tables and only 6-8 counter seats. It was busy, but not bustling when I arrived around 8. The staff were all middle-aged women or older, except for the young, female dishwasher. I was quickly served my coffee and water, and the server seemed surprised I knew exactly what I wanted. Eggs over hard (The surgeon general has determined that eating raw eggs can make you ill because they carry nasty and disgusting diseases like salmonella. Besides that, eating nearly raw egg yolks is disgusting in itself and just wrong.), home fries, and wheat toast. It’s my favorite breakfast when done well, and it’s a benchmark I use for new restaurants.

The breakfast came quickly was inconsistent. The eggs and toast were quite good (How do you mess up toast?), but the home fries, thinly sliced potatoes, were soft and relatively tasteless. The servers were friendly, and when I asked for more coffee and water, they brought it promptly. The problem was I had to ask. I don’t think a patron should have to ask for more coffee in a breakfast joint. Coffee should flow freely.

I was ultimately pleased with my experience, and I would return, but I think my small complaints could have been the reason the Main Stop hasn’t won best breakfast honors since 2002.

If you’re ever in Adrian and looking for breakfast that doesn't come wrapped in wax paper and the question, “Would you like fries with that,” I would recommend the Main Stop Restaurant. It’s located at 1003 N. Main Street. It may not be the “best” breakfast in town any more, but you won’t leave disappointed.

Friday, April 01, 2005

ECWCA Conference

I’m at the East Central Writing Center Association conference at Siena Heights University in Adrian Michigan. I’ve already seen two interesting presentations, and I’m in a third now (don’t tell the presenter).

The first was on research agendas for writing centers, presented by Kurt Kearcher from California University of Pennsylvania. He talked about his center’s project, Writing Center Artifact Research Project (WCARP) and how centers can develop their own research agendas to help professionalize the work done in the center.

The second was on an online writing center module developed at Michigan State U., presented by David Sheridan and Michael McLeod. It was interesting to see how MSU is pushing the envelope of what writing centers can do with technology, moving beyond a simple electronic, presentational resource or a place for online consultancy. The module hinted at rudimentary computer modules that have been condemned philosophically because they are simply glitzy version of worksheets, but the module is clearly far more sophisticated. And, far more importantly, it enables students to work through their own ideas, working on their own writing – it isn’t disconnected from the student’s own work.

Right now I’m in a session on blogging. There is some kind of irony here. The presenter has spent a lot of time explaining blogs, and now she is interested in our ideas and opinions to help her shape her research.

I better pay attention. More to come.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Heaven and Hell Refuse Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell nearly died from viral pneumonia, an illness resulting from a seemingly potential AIDS complication. He was in critical condition, and I believe very near dead, for the second time this year. Read about it at CNN.com. It appears, though, heaven refused to take him because of his incendiary language that violates the tenets of his own religion and G-d. His intolerance and inability to love his neighbor nearly as much as he loves himself has resulted in him receiving a heavenly Heisman rejection.

An additional twist is the refusal of hell to take Falwell because he is seen as a threat to the current power structure there. The result of the rejections has left Falwell in a state of limbo on earth and a stabilized condition in the hospital.

Developing story . . .

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Do We Have a First Amendment?

The Daily Kos has a story, and links to one from the AP, in which American citizens were removed from a town-hall meeting to tout Bush's plan to eliminate Social Security. Many stories about came out about people removed from Bush's campaign stops during the last presidential election, but this is different.

Given that these are taxpayer-funded events, they should be open to all taxpayers who obtain tickets appropriately. (The people removed from this event received tickets from their congressional representative.) The events have become publicly funded private events. By controlling who can participate, the administration silencing those they disagree with, or more likely fear.

Controlling information is a key to controlling people. It's worked through history, and it appears to be working in the US.

Joseph Goebbels would be proud.


"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." -- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Friday, March 25, 2005

Los Panchos

The wife, some friends, and I ate at a relatively new Mexican restaurant in town last night. Los Panchos is conveniently located across the street from the popular pizza/Italian restaurant, Luigi's, on Davison road near Franklin (Yes, the Davison and Franklin where the shell of a restaurant named Angelo's stands, but that is a story for another entry.)

What I first liked about Los Panchos when I entered was how strikingly similar the atmosphere was to many Mexican restaurants I'd eaten at in Baja. It is relatively sparse, with few decorations. The tables and chairs are similar to Coney fair; they look like they could just be hosed down at the end of the night and left to dry, but they weren't uncomfortable.

The service was friendly and the menu was adequate. They don't have the extensive menu that El Potrero has, but they do serve beer. A full bar will open in a room next door soon, so I imagine they will have a full compliment of liquor. My friends had a combination plate, their son had a taco, and my wife had a tostada place. I had an amazing plate of wet tamales to wash down my Negra Modelo.

The plate had three tamales, all thin, but longer than the mini-tamales one finds at many other Mexican restaurants and Tippy's. They weren't as massive as the tamales I remember eating while growing up, but there was enough to eat. (I still managed to eat part of my wife's dinner.)

What might have pleased all of us most was the beans and rice. They weren't the most amazing I've ever had, but given that I have yet to find good beans and rice in the Midwest, I was ecstatic.

I've learned that this Los Panchos is actually the second one opened by the owner, Frank Molina. The first Los Panchos is located on Fenton Road. The Davison Road Los Panchos will also sport a Mexican Bakery. I assume they won't call it a pandaria because no one would know what it is, but I hope their bread is as good as the bread I ate as a child from local pandarias in Ensenada.

I look forward to the bar and bakery, and I can't wait to go back to Los Panchos. If you're interested in going, they're address is 2209 Davison Road in Flint, and their phone number is 233-8226. If you go, tell me what you ate and what you think.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sick Food

I was reading the news online and stumbled across the news of an "execution" (or state-sanctioned murder). Coming from a Southern, fairly christian state, the news of an execution didn't suprise me, but what caught my attention was that the news included the victim's last meal.

The news often covers the last meal and it manages to show up in movies in which someone is being put to death, and I wondered why food (and a final visit or not from a padre) was so interesting to our culture. What is so attractive about knowing what a condemned man or woman's last meal is? I thought it could be that it is representative of the person. What they choose to eat could tell us much about the victim. It could be that it represents one of the few choices a death row inmate gets to make in the final 20 years of his/her life. Why are we so interested in what the walking dead want to eat?

A quick and brief Internet search turned up a website that didn't surprise me, but bothers me. It's deadmaneating.com. Just as you might guess, it provides information about the last meals of victims of state-sanctioned murders. You can even buy products from it on cafepress.com. As I'm writing this, I am thinking, "How generous! Those states that kill people are nice enough to feed their victims anything they want just before they die."

Now as someone interested in food, I think it would be interesting to look at the food choices victims make from a sociological view. I can't imagine myself ordering a pizza from Domino's as a last meal (unless I was trying to commit suicide), but I can imagine asking for comfort foods. Maybe Domino's is comfort food for someone. But what if the CEO of corrupt major corporations were on death row (more worth worthy candidates than 15 year old boys and the mentally incapacitated)? I doubt they would order pizza, but how would I know.

It might be an interesting culinary journey to eat the same food as the condemned, but somehow I don't think it would be the same.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


I haven't posted in a while, and I thought I should at least let the larger world know that I haven't fallen off the turnip truck. Yes, I'm still here and busier than ever. Over the break, I (with the help of dear friends) painted our living room. Painting is a task I hate. Now I use the word often, but I really do mean hate here. To be more specific about what I hate about painting, I hate prep work and trim. Rolling is easy. You just dip a roller in a pan of paint, slather it on a bit space, and hope it runs into smooth or interesting patterns. Prep and trim takes attention and detail work. No real slathering is allowed if you want things to come out okay. The paint job came out okay. But there will be no close inspection of the walls or trim allowed!

On a completely different note, we dogsat some friends' dog over the break as well. She is well-behaved and a general pleasure to have around (Except for the occasionally annoying way she wants you to pet her and doesn't want you to pet her at the same time. I saw this in our Boxer, Bailey, and was frustrated when he did it too.). Well, what we most appreciated about having her around was the calming affect she had on our dog Kisha. We didn't really notice it until we were back to one dog and Kisha returned to the habits we had happily forgotten she did since Bailey passed away. She whines more, follows us around the house more closely (which is excessively annoying when you consider how big she is and slowly and poorly she moves). She has a way of blocking a passage that can only be rivaled by a herd of stubborn yaks standing on a mountain pass. Is another dog in the picture? I don't think so at this point, but I told my friends I'd love to dogsit anytime they need a break.

Okay, enough procrastinating. I have work to do and I'm sure you do too. Why else would you be reading this blog?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sponge Monkeys

After some serious research on an important topic to my field of rhetoric and writing, I have found a source for the Quiznos Subs creatures that sing that amazing song We Love the Subs. It turns out they are called Sponge Monkeys, creations Joel Veitech and located at rathergood.com. You can reach them directly here singing the original composition We Like the Moon. It truly is a work of art.

p.s. I have to thank my pop-culture diva friend who told me of the Sponge Monkey's humble origins. Thanks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I Want a Cool Dog

I noticed last night that the web is slowly replacing television for me. While my wife read a book and watched American Idol in the background, I focused on finding useless things to read on the Internet. I'm not sure which is worse, channel surfing on TV or the Internet. They both stink.

But at The Food Section, I was pleased to learn about the Cool Dog, a melding of two of my favorite foods: the hot dog and ice cream. When I learned of it, I excitedly began anticipating summer and the chance to try one of these delicacies, but when I reviewed the Cool Dog website, I learned they aren't selling them yet in Michigan. Apparently it's difficult to penetrate the grocery market and compete with the big guns like Nestle's Drumstick or the Choco Taco.

I've considered selling myself as a retailer to have some shipped to me, but I'm not sure we have the freezer space for a pallet of ice cream hot dogs. I'm also not sure what my wife would think. The New York Times wrote a story about the Cool Dog, too. Note the Cool Dog is 14% butterfat. I'm all about the fat. If you're interested, ask your grocer to carry them and maybe we can all enjoy them at a picnic by the lake.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Steady Eddy's Cafe and Stepping in the Same River Twice

My wife and I ate at Steady Eddy's Cafe in the Flint Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. Even after a late Friday night, I had a hankering for a sandwich we tried the last time we were there: The Four Star Veggie Club. It is "a double-decker layered with Monterey Jack and American cheese, hummous, avocado,tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, onions, sprouts and mayo on your choice of toasted bread." It's not the kind of sandwich I would usually order, but I gave it a shot and then woke up Saturday morning craving one.

There are two pieces that might help express my desire. First, if you arrive at Steady Eddy's later than 9, you usually end up waiting at least half an hour in a hallway lined with chairs and people cackling too loudly for a Saturday morning. When I woke up, I knew we wouldn't get to the Market before 9:30. Second, I wanted one bad enough to wake my wife (a great lover of sleep) and ask her to go with me. We went.

The stars were aligned for us because there was no waiting; there were even empty tables near us. We ordered our Veggie Clubs (and I ordered a side of potatoes to make sure I got my necessary carb count for the day). Mine was very good, and my wife was disappointed she forgot to ask for hers toasted. [I have been corrected. She did ask for it toasted. I was engrossed in the Flint Journal while she was ordering. My bad.] I know I will order it again, but probably not for breakfast. I am a great lover of breakfast. It's my favorite meal. And when done well, I like the traditional coffee, eggs, potatoes, and toast best.

But I remember how shockingly good the Club was the first time I had it. It was a cold day and we were eating breakfast with friends. I was feeling a bit adventurous and decided to try and sandwich for breakfast. It was amazing. The tastes melded together and were meticulously encapsulated between crispy pieces of toast. I remember laughing a lot that morning and going home satiated.

Heraclitus said one can never step into the same river twice, and I often feel like the example constantly proving him right. I love the river of Steady Eddy's Cafe and the Four Star Veggie Club. Knowing me, I will dream of that morning with friends, eating that sandwich and drinking coffee. I know I will eat it again and I will enjoy it. But I also know that the chances of every having that Club taste that good again is slim. The moment of discovery, that pleasant surpass of something new and wonderful, cannot be replicated.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Search for Perfect Mac and Cheese

I have begun the search for the perfect recipe for Mac and Cheese. Yes, people have recommended Kraft, but that's the kids version of a traditional comfort food. I'd like something more complex, bold, and less sickeningly sweet. Of course the perfect recipe has to be a mix between fabulously flavorful, beautiful to look at, and easy to make.

It seems like the task is simple, but as my wife and I embark on our journey to find that recipe, it seems to be more elusive that I thought. The first recipe I'll post here comes from a recent episode of America's Test Kitchen, a show I like to think of as comfort television. Only Julia Child and Norm Abrams provide more comfort when I'm lying on the couch trying to avoid life's difficulties. I'm a big fan of the Test Kitchen and their recipies, so we tried this one first. Here it is with my assessment below:

It's crucial to cook the pasta until tender-that is, just past the al dente stage. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe may be halved and baked in an 8-inch square, broiler-safe baking dish. If desired, offer celery salt or hot sauce (such as Tabasco) for sprinkling at the table.

Serves 6 to 8 as a main course or 10 to 12 as a side dish

bread crumb topping
6 slices (about 6 ounces) good-quality white sandwich bread, torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces pasta and cheese1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt

1 pound elbow macaroni
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
5 cups milk (see note)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)

1. FOR THE BREAD CRUMBS: Pulse the bread and butter in a food processor until the crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.

2. FOR THE PASTA AND CHEESE: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a stockpot. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and the macaroni and stir to separate the noodles. Cook until tender, drain, and set aside.

3. In the now-empty stockpot, heat the butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the flour, mustard, cayenne (if using), and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until the mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add the milk; bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (the mixture must reach a full boil to fully thicken), then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the cheeses until fully melted. Add the pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.

4. Transfer the mixture to a broiler-safe 13 by 9-inch baking dish and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Broil until deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool 5 minutes, then serve.


Cut 8 ounces baked deli ham, sliced 1/4 inch thick, into 1-inch squares. Follow the recipe for Classic Macaroni and Cheese, adding the chopped ham and 1 cup frozen peas to the cheese sauce along with the pasta. Proceed as directed

You can view the recipe at America's Test Kitchen.

We generally liked the recipe, and I'd happily make it again, but I did have a few things I would like to rework.

1) I'm not sure I let the milk-cheese mixture thicken enough. I went past their time recommendation, but it still seemed a bit too thin. Of course I'm partially to blame for not waiting longer because I was really hungry and tired of wisking.

2) I'd like it to have more zip. I could add more pepper, but I think I would start with more cayenne. Not letting the mixture thicken more could have had an impact, but I can't imagine that much. The Tabasco on the table is a good suggestion, too.

3) We didn't try the ham variation, but we did add peas. We liked that, and it is fairly traditional.

I'm open to recommendations. Send me your recipe. I'll be posting more later as we continue to eat our way through the mac and cheese world.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Tia Helita's has the Chips

Friday night we went to dinner at Tia Helita's with my sister- and brother-in-law. The dinner was inconsistent; I had the taco dinner, shells medium crispy. I prefer them that way because they have some crunch, but don't fall apart as soon as you sprinkle hot sauce on them.

The side of beans must have been left under the heatlamp to be classified as "refried." I just called them "redried." The rice was unfortunately typical of Mexican rice in Flint; dry and flavorless. I've stopped hoping for good beans and rice in Flint. I haven't developed a good theory as to why no one can make it, but that isn't why I usually go out to Mexican restaurants.

The tacos were fairly good. The shells were crunchy, yet didn't break. The tomato wasn't bad given the season, and the meat was well-seasoned without being overpowering. I added salsa and was quite happy as I ate.

Tia Helita's is located at 4070 South Saginaw St.

What I really like about Tia Helita's, though, is the chips an salsa. They make their own chips and the salsa has zip and a great texture. It isn't picante sauce, but it's thicker than the watered-down salsa restaurants like Chili's serves. But the chips: wow. They must put some kind of chips-and-salsa-crack on the chips because I can't stop eating them when we go. It makes the mediocre food and bad service (which was atypical) worth the trip.

I don't know the history of Tia Helita's, but I've been told it's a Flint institution. what I do know is that I'll be there whenever I'm jonesing for some chips and salsa.

Friday, February 11, 2005

I Hate Bill O'Reilly, too.

I’m not a bit fan of Bill O’Reilly. I must admit I don’t get to see very often. Actually, I almost never get to watch him on television because I only get basic cable television, so I am denied the pleasure of watching Fox “news” programs. But O’Reilly does manage to make the larger news networks regularly for his inflammatory commentary. Most recently, I heard about his attacks on Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado professor who is receiving the national spotlight for his views (both unpopular and nonsensical) on the 9/11 attacks. Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick wrote a nice piece about the controversy you can read here. I think she calls his comments "moronic nonsense."

More to the point of this post, I found a great website dedicated to exposing the spin of Bill “no spin” O’Reilly: Sweet Jesus, I hate Bill O’Reilly, Intl. It’s a fun site (though a bit crass at times). They show that if O’Reilly really does have “no spin”, it’s because he’s already spun himself sick, puking up lies, inflammatory propaganda, and biscotti, and he’s broken away from the earth’s rotation into his own orbital reality (not unlike certain government officials who admit to making their own reality – read Ron Suskind's piece in the NY Times here). Of course O'Reilly is too busy yelling at people to hear anything they might say to rebut him. I think it's important that we hold people accountable for what they say, and it's a part of the job for pundits and journalists (to use the terms extremely loosely for O'Reilly) to be held accountable for what they say. Just as. . .say. . .O'Reilly wants Churchill to be accountable for his words. I don't disagree that Churchill should be accountable; I just don't' think he shouldn't be fired for voicing unpopular views. I don't know. I seem to hold some stake in that thing called the First Amendment. Call me crazy. I think there are other, more appropriate ways to hold Churchill accountable without shattering the foundation of academic freedom.

But, hey, that’s just one academic’s opinion.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

My Peeps

Tonight, in a fit of procrastination, I stumbled upon a science website that provided valuable information about Marshmallow Peeps. I will never think of them in quite the same way. Most interesting to me was the Medical Miracle, but I also found the Risk Analysis fascinating.

There is also a link to a literature review, so I look forward to reading more when the need to procrastinate takes me.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Olive Garden

Last weekend my wife and I met some friends at the Olive Garden. I try not to eat at any restaurant on Miller Road in Flint Township because nearly all restaurants are chains that taste the same. Unfortunately, some of our friends seem to prefer those restaurants. Personally, I can't tell the difference between the food, service and atmosphere at Chili's and the food, service and atmosphere at Outback Steakhouse, but it might just be me.

So we met our friends at the Olive Garden, but I wasn't very hungry. I ordered soup and salad. The salad and breadsticks are two of the best parts of the Olive Garden. The salad was good, but primarily because it had pepperocinis. The breadsticks (which I used to love before I came to love food) were fine, but when I caught myself trying to soak up salad dressing with every bite of bread I realized I only used to love them because they were warm and soft, not because they are particularly good.

The minestrone soup prompted this entry to The Mundane Life. It was tasteless. It looked and tasted like a reddish broth with a can of mixed beans dumped in. I'm not sure it was even salted. The bad part was that it wasn't even bad; it was just tasteless. For me, I guess it represents restaurants like the Olive Garden that are the sit-down versions of McDonald's. The food is never good, but you know if you walk into a Olive Garden in Flint, Michigan or an Olive Garden in Ontario, California you'll get the same food, service, and atmosphere.

In the end, the visit with our friends was great, and I guess eating there can just serve as a reminder of the kinds of restaurants I really love.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Quiznos Subs

Okay, I like to think of myself as mildly media savvy and not likely to be swayed much by advertising, but this commercial compelled me to eat at Quiznos. It's too bad they pulled it so quickly from television. Fortunately, Slate.com linked to it, so now I can watch it any time I want. And you can to here. I think you'll need Windows Media Player. Enjoy.

p.s. The sandwich was fairly good for a chain restaurant.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Blog for Everyone

I know there is a blog for everyone, but that still doesn't stop me from being surprised when I stumble across one like like Shaving Stuff.com. Who knew?

I wish I knew about this site when I was shopping for my electric razor. I'm happy with the one I have, a Panasonic wet/dry razor, but when it comes to purchases like this one, I'm a compulsive researcher. The more it costs, the more I research.

I dread the day I buy a new car.

Monday, January 17, 2005

It's Cold Outside

It's cold outside. The last time I checked Weather.com, it said the temp was 11 degrees and with the wind chill it was -4. I would check our thermometer, but it got so cold it came into the house to warm up. Now I like to think I'm relatively tolerant of the cold, especially for a transplant from Southern California, but even I think this is a bit much. It looks like our Doberman, Kisha, will be spending the day on the couch because I'm not taking her out in this for both of our sakes. She doesn't seem to bothered by this, but I'm sure if I have a moment of insanity, she will gladly get off of the couch and venture around the block.

Though I'm very happy living here, I wonder how people decided to setting in such a relatively formidable place, especially before the modern comforts of natural gas heating, cable television, and pizza delivery. I know it's beautiful the other three seasons, but somehow I feel those all get crammed into six months. But maybe the fall is worth it (it's my favorite season). Maybe I shouldn't think about it in temporal terms. Maybe my experiencing of fall is worth the cold months that follow. Maybe the excitement of spring is worth it (despite relapses into winter). Maybe sitting on our back deck late into a warm night in July makes it worth it. But right now, I'm just wondering when our temperature gauge will register in the positive and go back outside.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Oatmeal Cookie and Brownie Recipes

I found this recipe on Kosher Bachelor, a blog I just found. Who would have thought of a blog about kosher food? Well, the Kosher Bachelor found a great recipe that you need to read, but make sure you allow yourself time. It may take a while.

Without taking too much fun out of this recipe, I want to add that as a writing teacher I find it an amazing piece of writing and wonder about audience, context, and how such a document develops.

Though I have much more I'd like to say, let me end by adding that I've never seen a recipe that says anything about insect parts.

Check it out:
Cookie and Brownie Recipe

Monday, January 03, 2005

Update on Effy's Obit

Tonight I went to the synagogue to cook a meal for Effy's family with the other kitchen volunteers. I learned that The Flint Journal didn't print the entire obituary by mistake. Here is a link to the full obituary notice. I'm amazing she ice skated into her late 80s. She is an inspiration. Here is the link: mlive.com - Life Story

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Loss of a Friend: Dr. Evelyn Golden

There is a bit of irony with my last post. After I had written it, a friend called to tell me of another friend's death. Her name was Effy. We worked together in the kitchen at the synagogue, and she was a favorite person there. She was the oldest and slowest, but she had the best attitude and was a working inspiration. I loved working with her because we would always laugh and talk about our gardens. She always took egg shells home from an evenings cooking to chop up and spread in her garden. She was a tiny woman, bent with age, but she moved fairly well, and she cooked great chicken legs.

A month or two ago she fell ill and couldn't come to the kitchen any more. Her death is sad for us because she was an amazing woman, more amazing than I ever knew because she had no pretending and spent most of her time listening rather than talking. But, she was hurting and her death has spared her more pain. I take solace in that.

But this post was not intended to be a tribute to a friend (though in a way I guess it is). Rather I thought it fitting given my last post about searching to do more in my community. Effie and I had mostly talked about our gardens, the kitchen and my work at Eastern Michigan University. I had met her daughter, though we had talked little. So I really knew little about Effy and what she had done before our paths crossed in the kitchen. I learned a lot about her when I read her obituary. It's the longest one I've ever seen, and it's inspirational. I encourage you to read it and hopefully find your own inspiration. It was printed in today's Flint Journal. Here is the link: mlive.com - Death Notices

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

It's now 2005, and I'm glad. Good riddance to 2004. It was an abysmal year. So I'm going to keep looking forward and not look back.

Do I have any new year resolutions? No, but I am going to continue to try to be a better person. In addition to being more patient, forgiving, and tolerant, I'm going to try and do more to improve the community I live in. Right now I volunteer cook in a local synagogue that makes meals on wheels. I enjoy that work, but I'm starting to feel like it isn't enough. I want to do more; I want to affect greater change, but I haven't decided what that will be. I'm open to suggestions.

I've considered getting into politics. I doubt I would run for office, but I wouldn't mind working for a politician. I'm a bit disenchanted with government and politics, but I should work for change rather than throwing up my hands in frustration. But I don't know what I want to do. Internet activism isn't enough. I'm not enamored with any politician I can think of that I would want to work for.

So what should I do? What should everyone do?