Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fun with Google Maps


View Larger Map

This used to be what the Barcadia looked like. Thank you Google for not updating your Streetview in the last two years.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Homeless Cougars Flood North Texas

Finally my ability to kill a bar by no longer going to it has done some good. Martini Park is closed. Admittedly, I only went once. But, like Al-qaeda, I'm willing to take credit for any destruction that contributes to my goals.

UPDATE:
Here's the scoop on what happened and why. I guess we won't be opening Wally's Planonian anytime soon.

Your Moment of Zen

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ugh

The Dallas Stars are off to a terrible start. And things got worse yesterday when it was announced that Captain Brendon Marrow was out the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Without the heart and soul of the team, it's hard to imagine them lifting themselves from the basement of the Western Conference.

So, I'm consoling myself with memories of better times.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wrapping Up Working SoCal - The View From the Balcony

With this post, I think I've pretty much exhausted blog material related to my recent SoCal adventure. And I finish with the view from my hotel balcony. Since I was largely at working when the sun was out, these pictures are from my balcony at night. As you can see, there was not much going on around the old Embassy Suites.






Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get a good picture of the fires in the distance without a tripod, which I have not yet purchased.

The Tustin Whole Foods' Wall of Beer

One of the best things about working in the OC was the Whole Foods that was on my way from work to the hotel. More specifically the Whole Foods beer case that had tons of beers I've never seen (tasted) before. So here they are:


Sierra Nevada Harvest Wet Hop Ale - brewed with fresh hops, picked the day before brewing. It was a solid ale. If you like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, you'll like this. B+


Green Flash Brewing Trippel Belgian Style Ale. Eh, this was ok. Nothing really special. B-


Stone Vertical Epic 08.08.08. I've already mentioned that this is the best beer ever. A++


Brother's David Triple Abbey Style Ale. I drank this the day after I discovered the Vertical Epic. I had intended to drink more Vertical Epic, but had to settle for this. Despite the disappointment, it held up well. I good "American Belgian" ale. A



Stone Ruination IPA. I spent several days looking for another Vertical Epic, but could find not a single one. So I knew it was time to move on. But I had to stay in the family. Thus the purchase and subsequent drinking thereof (law speak?) of the Ruination IPA.

I have consumed quite a bit of the standard Stone IPA at the vile Stan's Blue Note, and that beer is like a concentrated pine forest in a jelly jar. So I was initially fearful of how hoppy this thing would be. I mean, I love hops, but I don't want the top of my head to fly off.

Well, my fears were quickly trounced. This is a great beer. Yes, it is strong in hoppy/bittery goodness. But not so much that that's all there is. It is nicely balanced and a surprisingly smooth drinking beer. A+


Urthel Samaranth Quadrium Ale. Like a Belgian Tripel, only "one louder". Admittedly, this was a novelty purchase. And I suppose its high alcohol worked (11%) since I don't really remember much about it. Thus I'll just give it a B and move on.


Indian Wells Brewing Amnesia IPA. This was the only beer I purchased that didn't come in a 22oz bottle. In fact it was the only 6-pack I bought. Thus I drank more of this than any of the other beers. For a regular IPA it was high in alcohol (7.2%). Overall, it was OK. In the pantheon of great IPA (60/90 Minute, Terminal Gravity, Full Sail) it doesn't quite hold up. But still a solid choice. B

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Me?

Working In SoCal: Day 14 -- Fire!! Everyone Panic!


This is the view from my second floor work site in Irvine California. The picture is a little odd in that it was take through a window and the reflection from the fluorescent lights can be seen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spoilers Alert!!

Working In SoCal: Day 11 -- Stuff I Like About SoCal

With each passing 11-12 hour work day, I am having less and less success in finding – or more accurately wanting to find – fun things to do. So, for today's posting, I will list the things that I like about sunny southern California. Stayed tuned for a future posting about what I don't like about SoCal.


  • Energy – There is a palpable energy here that I find only in places like New York City and Las Vegas. Even in the craphole OC, you can feel the energy.
  • Mountains – I love mountains. I love being able to look out and see mountains instead of water towers on the horizon. Even though they aren't beautiful snowcapped mountains, they are still comforting to me.
  • Donuts and Hamburgers – For a place known for frisée salad and passion fruit iced tea, it is lousy with donut and hamburger joints. There's not a single strip mall lacking a donut and hamburger place claiming to have the best of each in all of SoCal. On top of that, there are a ton of fast food chains here. So much for the healthy LA diet.
  • Morning Drive with my Leader – Even though my commute from the hotel to my work site is only 10 minutes long, it's nice to catch Adam Carolla in his non-podcasted form. Although the rest of the day on his station is virtually unlistenable. On a similar not, I finally got to watch one of Carolla's favorite targets – Huell Howser.
  • Booze Everywhere – When I went to see the Stars play the Ducks at the Honda Center I was surprised and delighted to see that you could get mixed drinks throughout the barn, not just in their "Platinum" areas. In fact Californians are not confused and tormented by vague and confusing alcohol laws like we have in Texas. They just don't have the situation where you can't buy beer at this 7-11 but you can at the one two blocks away in the same goddamn town. Also, the laws here don't suppress the microbrew industry as they do in Texas. And thus we get masterpieces like Stone's Vertical Epic 08.08.08.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Working In SoCal: Day 10: Best Beer Ever


While in SoCal, I figured I should try to work my way through the beer cool of my nearby Whole Foods. Well, I may have stumbled upon the greatest beer ever -- Stone Vertical Epic.

This is a finely balanced combination of my two favorite kinds of beer, belgian ale and hoppy American northwest ale. In fact, this beer starts out with a delcious taste of Belgian trippel. As good as any Maredsous 10 at Gezelig. And then this wave of northwestern pacific piney hops comes through, but never overpowers.

Go now and get one if you can!

Unfortunately, it appears to be unavailable in Texas.

I will drink one every night until I leave.

Working In SoCal: Day 9

Back to the grind.

Nothing much to report today. I had a fairly average dinner at the hotel. I had been wanting to check it out. There's no need to go back.

The camera arrived today. So pictures should finally be showing up on the blog.

Working In SoCal: Day 8

Finally a day off.

And what better way to enjoy a day off than to sleep in -- sweet, glorious sleep.

But the day was not just spent lounging about. Today was the day to perform my California ritual, drive up the Pacific Coast Highway. I started in Newport Beach, home of Balboa Island and the setting for the banana stand of Arrested Development fame. I ended up in Oxnard.

I wish my camera would have arrived earlier so I could have taken pictures. But, again, all I have are memories.

By the way, I've come to the conclusion that southern California only becomes tolerable north of Malibu. There's just too many people. And who needs that?

Working In SoCal: Day 7 -- Van Morrison Live at the Hollywood Bowl

Amazing!

What else can I say about a night in which I got to see one of the world's greatest musical geniuses in one of the world's finest musical venues.

Amazing!

But first I must ask, "How the fuck do people live here?". On a Saturday evening on I5 from Anaheim to Hollywood, traffic was crawling almost the entire way at about 20mph. A trip that is just a little further than Dallas to Ft. Worth took 2 hours. No one should live like this.

But on to more civilized activities.

There really isn't much I can say about this concert since most of the time I was in awe of where I was and what I was see/hearing. So, I'll just say it was great. I may have even mentioned that it was amazing. And this was truly a life experience -- causing several items to be checked off my bucket list. The sound was perfect, as was the weather. I only wish I could have gotten there earlier or at a time of year where I could really soak in the surroundings.

For those interested, here's the set list from LA Weekly:

1. Wavelength
2. Saint Dominic's Preview
3. And the Healing Has Begun
4. All in the Game/You Know What They're Writing About
5. Troubadours
6. Angelou
7. Moondance
8. Brown Eyed Girl
9. Gloria

break

Astral Weeks
10. Astral Weeks
11. Beside You
12. Slim Slow Slider
13. Sweet Thing
14. The Way Young Lovers Do
15. Cyprus Avenue
16. Ballerina
17. Madame George

encore
18. Listen to the Lion


This was from the night before and I don't recall him playing Moondance. But I showed up a little late and he may have played it earlier.

But my evening did not end with Listen to the Lion. Rather than fight my way through post concert traffic, and since I was in Hollywood, I decided to head down to Hollywood Blvd and check out the scene. I had just watched Confessions of a Superhero, (a documentary about these people who dress up like superheros and hang out on Hollywood Blvd. so tourists can take pictures of them for tips) so I wanted to gawk at the freaks.

So I walked down Highland toward Hollywood and was delighted to see the El Capitan theater where my leader's lover, Jimmy Kimmel, tapes his talk show. This is near Grauman's Chinese Theater and, indeed, I did some some a superhero and a couple of Jack Sparrows.

As I started walking down the boulevard, I started to notice a increase in police presence At first I figured some super celebrity function must be letting out. But this was not the case. More cops arrived and then it became obvious what was happening.

I looked across the street and there was a throng of sign carrying, rainbow flag waving protestors. All of a sudden I was in the middle of a pro gay marriage rally.

More and more cops showed up in full riot gear forbidding anyone from crossing either Hollywood or Highland. Although I first question the police wearing the riot gear, I did have to admit, as would anyone who has ever been slapped with a feather boa, it smarts.

After wandering about for a hour or so, passing by Musso and Frank's by the way, I decided to leave. Unlike most of the people "enjoying" the protest, I was without a camera. So I have nothing but my memories to chronicle the experience.

So, despite the traffic and missing the first song or two of the concert, Saturday night was a huge success. I recommend it entirely if anyone ever has a similar oppurtunity.

My Heart Is In Your Hands

Should I try this while I'm out here?



The Where-Is-Your-God-Now? Burger from MAKE MOVIES on Vimeo.

I would, of course, go with the Double Meat instead of the Double Double.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

McCain's First Choice??


Ukrainian Prime Minister and Princess Leia devotee Yulia Tymoshenko.

Working In SoCal: Day 6 -- Stars/Ducks

For the first time in my Dallas Stars fandom, I watched a hockey match played on enemy ice.

As luck would have it, the Stars are making a west coast swing and they started it Friday night at The Anaheim Duck's Honda Center. And, so as not to bury the lede, the Stars won 5-2 with new Right Winger Mark Parish making his debut with a hat trick.

So what was it like watching a game in a foreign port? In a word, lonely. There was no one to high-5 after each of the many Dallas' scores. I did see a handful of Stars sweaters, tho.

The Honda Center itself had not much to distinguish itself. I did manage to spend $9 for a 16oz cup of beer. Usually at those prices a pair of naked breasts would be shaken in front of me. But that's what I get for ordering an "import" like Blue Moon. On top of that, the hot dog I got tasted more like vienna sausage than hot dog. On both counts, the AAC wins.

Where the AAC loses, however, is number of douchenozzles wearing ski hats and flat billed hats. And this requires two separate rants.

No one of any intelligence has ever worn a flat billed hat. That's a fact and try to disprove it. And I think it is to Dallas' credit that I don't see them nearly as much there as I do on both coasts. And I know I sound like Grampa Wally when I ask why anyone would want to look like an idiot wearing them. Stop looking stupid.

But what confused me even more was the ski caps. It was 90 today in So Cal. So why the ski caps??? Are we so dedicated to our look that we must wear them no matter the temperature? I know the hot guy in the Abercrombie and Fitch catalog looked sooooooper cooooooool wearing them. But he was outside a chalet, not walking to a hockey game in a desert.

But this just goes to prove how stupid the crowd was. Late in the game, with the Stars up 4-1, the Ducks score a power play goal. To which the crowd begins chanting "Tuuuuuuuurckooooooooo".

Hey!!! Assclowns!!! Your goalie was pulled after 24 minutes. Maybe taunting the oppostion goalie isn't the smartest move.

Walkabout 2008: Day 5

After filling up on beef and booze last night, and going to see Stars/Ducks and Van Morrison the next two nights, this was a stay-in night.

Sorry. Nothing exciting today.

Well, we only worked from 7-6 today. Woo hoo!!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Just As I Have Always Suspected

I'm so glad I never wasted much time stretching before ultimate.


Stretching Before Exercising Weakens Muscles

"Back in grade school you were probably taught the importance of warm-up exercises, and it's likely you've continued with pretty much the same routine ever since. Science, however, has moved on. Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes' warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but are actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them. In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. Also, stretching one leg's muscles can reduce strength in the other leg as well, probably because the central nervous system rebels against the movements."
 blog it

Working In SoCal: Day 4 -- Agora Churrascaria

We all need to be careful when we hype a place, that we don't overhype a place. This is what happened to Agora.

I was promised by a co-worker that Agora was far superior to Fogo de Chao. He stated they had oysters on the half shell (actually it was just steamed clams). And that this place was going to blow my mind (it barely filled my belly).

I will give this place credit. It did have some nice clams, mussels and shrimp on the "salad bar" along with all of the usual suspects one would expect to find at a churasscaria. But the meat selection was woefully lacking. In fact, the meat selection was quite limited:

  • Tri-tip - terrible, something I've never seen at a Brazilian steak house.
  • Skirt steak - very good, but I'm not sure I've ever seen this low rent cut at other churasscarias either.
  • Sirloin tip - very good
  • Beef rib - very good
  • Bacon Wrapped Filets - good but tiny, about the size of a large marshmallow.
  • Sirloin - ok.
  • Chicken, pork sausage - didn't try, I was waiting for more beef.
  • Lamb chop - ok, lamb at other churasscarias is better
And not only was the selection limited, but there was seldom more than one meat on my plate -- and often no meat on my plate. The last time I went to a Brazilian steakhouse, also for work in Minneoaplolis, the plate was piled, literally, a mile high, with meat.

And on top of all of this, their wine list was extremely small for a steak house. It was essentially pamphlet sized.

Maybe the selection is better on busy weekend nights. So avoid it during the week and go to the Fogo in Beverly Hills.


1830 Main St Irvine, CA 92614

B-

Working In SoCal: Day 3

Another 12 hour day.

So there wasn't much to grab an In-n-Out burger (I may have a problem), had back to the hotel and watch history being made

This isn't a political blog. For that, go to Daily Kos or Little Green Footballs.

So, instead, i'm going to rant on about the greatness of In-n-Out. And I'm not talking about their food. But this place is what all fast food restaurants should strive to be.

1) Instead of trying to do 100 things halfassedly (see Jack in the Box) In-n-Out does literally a handful of things well -- burgers, fries, shakes, sodas, that's it.
2) They know how their food is eaten. In the drive thru, they always ask if you'll be eating in the car. If you are, you get a box instead of a bag and you get a place mat for your car seat. This is exquisite attention to customer needs.
3) Enthusiastic employees. Like Southwest airlines versus American Airlines, when you have a great product that you're proud of and not just a business, that enthusiasm trickles down to the lowest level employees.
4) Cleanliness. This is what I noticed about this place tonight. While in the drive-thru line, you can see the brightly lit, very clean kitchen. Nothing is hidden from the customer. And the truly amazing part of the preperation is that the cook has a stack of disposable gloves in front of her. So that each times she needs to touch food, on come the gloves. When she touches anything else, off come the gloves. Does any other fastfood place do this?? Does any other restaurant do this??

Oh, and it's cool Obama won. Can we go back to our lives of watching our 401(k)s evaporate now?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I, For One, Welcome Our New Voting Machine Overlord

Campaign 2012 Starts Tomorrow

Working In SoCal: Day 2



Working 12 hour days leaves not much time for anything, including eating. So after work today I strove to have a well balance dinner of locally grown organic fruit and In-N-Out burger. It was delicious.

The Whole Foods here is fantastic. It has far more prepared food than even the one on Preston and Forest. There was a station for Chinese/Thai and Indian, one for seafood as well as stations for your typical prepared foods. Here's hoping the Lakewood Whole Foods gets some of this.

As for the In-N-Out, I may have to rate this a bit high than I did last year. I had to drive a frustrating 10 minutes after getting my burger. I was so hungry and it smelled so good.

And while I'm not a fan of southern California, it is nice to look out the window where we're working and see palm trees and mountains. It's very comforting.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Working In SoCal: Day 1 -- I'm That Guy


Have you ever been on a plane, sitting at the gate, waiting for the pushback, wondering what's taking so long. Then some clod come running down the jetway and down the aisle -- searching for a place to stow his several carryons.

Well, that was me today.

I got to the airport in plenty of time and did the self checkin thing. I thought I had requested one checked. Apparently I hadn't. So I waited. And waited. And waited for my name to be called.

Eventually people who checked in well after me were getting called. I guess I had made an error somewhere (senior moment #1). But I barely made my plane.

So I'll be blogging from beautiful Irvine/Santa Ana California for the next two weeks. Beal is looking to buy stuff and I'm here playing tech support guy.

Oh, and I checked into the wrong hotel. Senior moment #2.

Walkabout 2008: Day 11 -- The Pittsburgh Grub Crawl



Matt had been promising a great grub crawl in Pittsuburgh, and he delivered.

Penn Brewery
Cool little place. I had there Oktoberfest and their Dark -- both very good.

Strip District
No titties bar like I expected. Just a lot of good food. It was very reminiscent of Pike Street Market in Seattle. We had the best sfogliatelle I've ever had there and a very good pepperoni roll.

Church Brew Works
Another brew pub and a place I had seen mentioned on several foodie shows. So I was very excited to finally see it.
Why can't Dallas be like this. Thanks TABC.
We had the pierogi pizza and I drank their Pale Ale (it was ok) and their Mole Porter. Wow did that thing have a spicy kick. Very good. Here

Coal Hill Steakhouse at the Grandview Saloon
Here is where most of the great pictures of Pittsburgh were taken. High atop Mt. Washington, Coal Hill Steakhouse has an amazing view of the city. We didn't eat here, but I did have a couple of Yuenglings.

Gandy Dancer
Cool bar inside Pittsburgh's old train station. We tried their crab cake (pictured, good) and had a beer which by this time I'm not sure what I drank.

Brewski's
The diviest of divebars. Here's where the Curry boys did much of their underage drinking. Watched an entire episode of Family Guy here and drank another Yuengling.

Smokin' Joe's
This place was touted to have great chicken wings. They were good. But I'm not sure they were the best. But, to be fair, I was in no way hungry by this time. This was yet another bar with an amazing selection of beers. I had something hoppy, but, again, I'm not sure what.

Fat Heads
Home of the South Sides Slopes "Headwich". This masterpiece has sauteed pierogis, kielbasa, grilled onions, cheese and horsey sauce. My greatest regret is that I was not hungry even a little bit to properly enjoy it. I guess I'll have to go back.

Walkabout 2008: Day 10 -- Pittsburgh Grub Crawl Pregame

Before diving in to what Pittsburgh has to offer, it was decided that a little "pre-game" the night before showing what south suburban Pittsburgh has to offer.


We started at Bruschetta's where we started with one of the tastiest items of the whole trip -- pumpkin and marscapone raviolis with sauteed onions.




For my entree I had a braised pork shank with mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables. While not reaching the heights of the raviolis, this was another spectacular dish. The potatoes were outstanding and the meat tender and moist and yummy.



That's a big bone, yes??




Next we went to Sharp Edge. As you can see, they have a lot of beer here.


All this beer to the left of me.


All this beer to the right of me.
Great Place!! It would take a year to try all their beers. I'm not sure I could do it, but I'm willing to try.

Bruschetta's A+
Sharp Edge A+