Monday, April 27, 2009

The Saddest Thing I Saw Last Week

clipped from

World's Largest Private Lean Cuisine Collection?


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It always makes me sad to see someone heating up one of these monstrosities at work.

Congrats Lauren, You Now Have A Stalker

Red hair -- check
Curly hair -- check
Hipster Glasses -- check
Way Too Young for me -- check

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crazy Stories from Around the Globe

The Santa Fe Trail

I finally expanded outside my usual bike route and explored the still unfinished Santa Fe Trail. It's the straight part of my path that parallels Columbia.

Unfortunately, for now, it only goes from Glasgow, near Woodrow Wilson HS, to Carol. There's a bridge that crosses Peak and Haskell, but it was closed today. Once open, the trail will go all the way to Deep Ellum. I'm excited about riding down there, grabbing a Twisted Root Burger and heading home.

On a statistical note, during this trip, I rode my 500th mile of 2009. I'm hoping that if the weather cooperates and I push myself a little I can get to 1000 miles before my trip to Europe on the 20th.

Sorry there's nothing funny here. Just wanted to share.

Thirsty Thursday: Dogfish Head Red & White

For my first venture in beer reviewing, I could think of nothing better than going to my all-time favorite brewery -- Dogfish Head. I recently found a seasonal from them, Red & White. So here goes.

A big, belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice. After fermentation a fraction of the batch is aged in Oregon Pinot Noir barrels, and another fraction is aged on oak staves. The beer is blended together before packaging.

That's what the bottle says.

I can think of nothing better to drink than a Belgian Wit or an Oregon Pinot Noir. So I'm excited about trying this.

This bottle is a formidable 1 pint 9.6 ounces (750 ml) and a stout 10% abv. I doubt I'll be able to drink all of this. In fact, I probably shouldn't.

On first pour, the color is golden, typical of a strong Belgian ale with a hint of red -- the Pinot Noir, no doubt.

The aroma is also typical of a great Belgian ale. It smells very much like a Maredsous 10.

The taste is slightly milder than a Maredesous 10, but also slightly sweeter.

This is delicious!!! It tastes of so many late nights at Gezellig.

There is a hint of Pinot Noir. But, honestly, if I didn't know it was there I probably could not identify it.

I feel guilty about opening this bottle. I'm not going to be able to finish it. Luckily I have a vacuum sealer. Hopefully it will work. This needs to be preserved for a least another day.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Half-Life: The Movie??

2009: Week 16

I'm not bored. I swear.

I'm just not doing much that's blogworthy. There's just not much to write about brushing up on German, learning ASP.NET or riding my bike around the lake.

So there's not much of a wrap up when there's little to wrap.


Top 3
3) Leaving Milo's -- sorry Marquis (designate) I just don't see the allure.
2) Chicken Fried Steak at Cowboy Chow
1) Hanging at the Pour House (Two weeks in a row, Trent)

Key Stats
  • 2.6 -- miles short of 100 miles biked this week.
  • 0 -- weeks of Grapevine League I've attended (stupid ribs)
  • 0 -- weeks of Grapevine League I'm likely to attend (How the fuck did I get on Lisa's team?)
  • 2 -- Sundays in a row at The Saucer. Weird.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eating Dallas: Taco Joint (Breakfast)

Tasty Tuesday

Now that's more like it!

I finally made it up before noon and was able to dive into the deliciousness of Taco Joint's breakfast tacos.

In a word -- mmmmmmmm mmmmmmmm bueno.

Because I'm a dedicated blogger, I went ordered three tacos -- egg & fajita, egg & chorizo and a migas taco. All three were very good with the fajita being the standout for me. The chorizo was not quite the flavor fiesta of the dearly departed Cuquita's. But it was still nice.

Again I have to complain about the tortillas. Hopefully, after a little bit of success they will buy a tortilla maker and start making their own.

Oh, and is it odd for them to have a tip jar when almost everyone who works there is an owner?? Just asking.


View Eating 2009 in a larger map

Your Moment of Zen

Benchmarks. We've Got Benchmarks

The Marquis of Burr (designate) aka The Jester has recommended I have some daily benchmarks to motivate me to provide content to my near-moribund blog. So, from now until the beginning of my next Walkabout in late May, I hope to provide the growing masses that read my blog with something more than just bacon and marmots. Although that would make a delicious breakfast burrito.

Steve's Alliterative Benchmarks:

Movie Monday - movie review
Tasty Tuesday - restaurant review
Wally's Weekly Wrapup Wednesday - nuff said.
Thirsty Thursday - new beer review
Freespin Friday - anything goes, so probably nothing

Because It's Been Weeks Without a Marmot

clipped from

Op-Ed: What Marmots Teach Us About Terrorism


When dealing with national security, we would be wise to take lessons from nature about managing risks. Animals that fail to evolve or learn effective ways to avoid predation leave no descendants. Thus, by studying the diversity of anti-predator adaptations, we may learn about what works and what doesn't work with respect to our own risks.

Animals have evolved different ways to cope with this situation. Marmots, for instance, reduce the time they spend foraging in risky areas, but kangaroos and wallabies increase the time they spend being vigilant.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Eating Dallas: Taco Joint (Lunch)

I wanted to love this place. I've been looking forward to trying it for weeks. But I'm kinda sad to report that this place is just good.

I'm separating these reviews out by lunch and breakfast. It had been my hope that I could wake up and get my shit together early enough to make it for breakfast. But obviously this was not the case.

So not wanting to wait any more, I went ahead and journeyed down there for lunch. I ordered a bean and cheese taco, a beef fajita taco and chips and guacamole.

The guac was great although a bit overly onioned. But I like onions, so no complaints from me.

Sidebar please.

Back in the 90s when Taco Cabana was great I would order these very same tacos. Back then their bean and cheese tacos were intoxicating with their strong smoky flavor. Today the beans taste thin and insipid to me. And the meat in there beef fajitas has a processed texture. I mention this only because, I guess, I'm comparing Taco Joint to the glory days of Taco Cabana – back when TC had competition from Dos Pesos.

Back to Taco Joint.

The meat in the beef fajita taco was real and nicely seasoned. The bean and cheese taco had some nice beans, but was spoiled by a way too cuminy (I just invented a word) enchilada sauce. I'm not sure why it's there.

I came in towards the end of the lunch rush. So maybe this had something to do with it. But I was very disappointed in thier tortillas. They seemed pre-packaged. At least Taco Cabana still has delicious fresh flour tortillas.

Overall, I would go back to try other items. And I'm still looking forward to someday waking up early and getting there for breakfast. But Jimmy's lies between my house and Taco Joint and I'm not sure I could pass Jimmy's too often to get to Taco Joint. Plus the tacos at Fuel City are much better.


View Eating 2009 in a larger map

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slouching Towards Idiocracy

Beer Pong + Jackass =

19 of the Best Beer Pong Dunks

Dang, I Wish I Worked for this Guy

clipped from

The Banker Who Said No

While the nation's lenders ran amok during the boom, Andy Beal hoarded his money. Now he's cleaning up--with scant help from Uncle Sam.

"Banks are on a prayer mission that somehow prices will come back and they won't have to face reality," Beal says. And that reality, according to Beal, is going to get a lot worse. "Unemployment is going over 10%, commercial real estate hasn't even begun collapsing and corporate credit defaults are just getting started," he says. His prediction: depression, without bread lines this time, thanks to the government safety net, but with equal cost to society.

As for the cause of this mess, Beal points a finger at the government for giving its imprimatur to just a handful of credit rating agencies, then insisting that money market and pension funds buy only paper with top grades. He also blames government for luring people into debt by backing everything from bank deposits to Fannie and Freddie to student loans.

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I highly recommend reading the whole article.

King Wally's True Tales of Woe

I tend to be pretty lucky. Things just naturally work out for the best for me. I’m not saying I’m the Jerry of my office – especially since I don’t have an office right now – but things do seem to even out at the end of the day.

Ok. Maybe I am the Jerry of my office.

So it does surprise me when things go poorly and I end up on the verge of crying where only the warm embrace of a Jimmy’s sangwhuch can hold back my tears.

But that’s the end of the story.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I may have let slip, but I have a new puppy (insert “old puppy” comedy here). And she likes to run around my house indiscriminately. Since she’s never really owned anything except maybe a stick or a torn up sock, she places little value on other’s possessions, especially mine.

Several weeks ago, the new puppy, which will be referred to from here on as Zoë, was running around my coffee table. It is upon this same coffee table that my laptop computer on which I am writing this very missive spends most of its time. Along with my laptop there resides upon the coffee table a 500G external USB hard drive. And along with all these items are the assorted cables that connect everything together-- all scattered on the coffee table and , unfortunately the floor.

So in the process of running around the coffee table, Zoë managed to become entangled with the USB cable attached to my hard drive ; knocking it off the table. In so doing, the USB port on the hard drive became detached thus rending everything on that drive unavailable – perhaps lost FOREVER!

While largely used for backups and other non vital data, to free up room on my laptop hard drive, I keep my iTunes music catalog on the external drive. But with all of that music still intact on my iPod, there was no panic. I could take my time to figure out how to get that data back.

This all happened when I still had a job. So as one of my first chores during unemployment, I tasked myself to fix my hard drive. I found two solutions. There was a utility called TuneAid that would suck off (mark) my music from my iPod. Additionally I found a – ok this is going to get technical – a SATA to USB cable apparatus. All I would have to do is remove the actual hard drive from its enclosure and attach it to this cable apparatus.

I started with the apparatus. It appeared to work. I could see all the directories that I knew were there. However whenever I tried copying anything to my main drive, I got a “File Not Found” error.


Time to try TuneAid.

And this is where the story gets truly heartbreaking.

You see, I had connected my iPod to an empty iTunes catalog a few times, and nothing happened.

TuneAid could see all of my music on my iPod – good news! It was all still there. I began the process of transferring music from my iPod to iTunes. But what I didn’t know was that, without warning, it would stop at 25 songs since it was the demo version.

And once it stopped, iTunes realized, “Hey, I’ve got shit to synchronize now”, and began synching with my iPod – erasing everything that was left on my iPod – FOREVER!!

And all my music was gone FOREVER.

Well, to be fair, TuneAid, starting at the bottom of my catalog, did save all my ZZ Top and Zebra. Oh happy day!

It was then I assume Trent felt a great disturbance in The Force and knew that I had a hurt that only Jimmy’s could cure. I recounted my tail of sadness to him before going back home to kick Zoë for making me download 40G of music.

And it was then, while sitting on my couch, contemplating what I’m going to do, that I saw the jumper setting. By default (sorry, more techno jargon), my drive transfers at a rate of 3Gb/s. With the jumper added, it transfers at a slower 1.5Gb/s.

“What the fuck”, I thought.

So I added it.

And everything worked perfectly.

You see, it all does work out perfectly in the end.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

2009: Week 14 & 15

I don't claim to understand the irony of having nothing but free time but also having nothing to blog about. For the last 10 plus days I have been unemployed and been unable to find blogworthy activities in which to fill the void of a neglected website. And it's not like I've just been a lay-about. I've had lunch at Jimmy's twice! I can only guess this is the calm before the blog storm. Once I make it to Europe at the end of May, you, gentle reader, will be unable to keep up.

Top 3:

3) Lunch at Jimmy's
2) Lunch at Jimmy's
1) Dinner at Piranha

Vital Stats:
  • 2 - Lunches at Jimmy's
  • 1 - number of blog entries since my unemployment.
  • 0 - number of interesting blog entries since my unemployment.
  • 7 - number of people finding my site using the search word "FUPA". Take that GILF hunters.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Today's Worst Person In The World

I realize that most of my Worst Persons are people I see while commuting to or from work. I can’t help it. Most drivers are horrible, horrible people. And since I shan’t (pompous enough??) be commuting much in the near future, I thought I would bless my dear readers with on final Beal commute related Worst Person.

So I’m queued up in the center lane at a four-way stop at Fitzugh and Turtle Creek. In front of me is a Cadillac with a Rascal Rack (sans Rascal) on the back. To the left of the Caddie is a Tahoe. The Tahoe recognizes that there is a parked landscaping trailer in his lane on the other side of Turtle Creek. So when it’s time for our side to go, he speeds up to move in front of the Caddie. Well, the half-a-fuck in the Caddie will have non of that. No one is going to beat him to the red light 150 yards away at Oak Lawn. So the Caddie speeds up. This makes the Tahoe speed up narrowly missing the landscape trailer.

Ok. I understand that it’s NASCAR week in our fair burgh. But does that require even the feeblest of us to trade paint in Highland Park adjacent? Are our streets filled with such assholes that we can’t courteously let someone go in front of us?

The ass-hat in the Cadillac with the Rascal Rack – Today’s Wooooorrrrsssst Peeeerrrssoooooooooooon in the Woooooooooooorrrrrrrld.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools

Last year I wrote this post fooling many into thinking I was moving to my beloved Portland. Since I pretty much blew my wad last year, I figured I would be unable to fool anyone with an equally devious post. So this year I'm going back through the archives of better times when Thursday Night Liver Practice was an actuality and not just a faint pleasant memory. Back then Matt Curry would write an extremely long and extremely funny email imploring the Ultimate community to come out to the Blarney Stone on Thursdays for beers and shenanigans.

One April Fools eve he out-did himself and sent out the following email. It will lose something in the knowledge that it is a hoax. So try to pretend that it isn't. It'll be funnier that way.


I have been trying to think of some other topic, but when one constant thought is running amok in my head, I can’t think of anything else. Bear with me…

I had no idea how civil suits worked. But now it looks like I’m going to have a crash course in this particular part of our judicial system since I’ve just been named “The Defendant” in a subpoena I received through my lawyer.

I won’t have the time to read through Civil Suits for Dummies, but I may want to pick up @ss Reaming for Dummies. My lawyer says that because I was so forthcoming with the truth that this won’t go over well for me, so I am bracing for the worst.

I have already given deposition testimony as to what I am about to relate to you, however my lawyer advised me that I should change the names of all individuals involved (except for me and legal entities) until after the jury reaches its final verdict on monetary damages.
I was having such a marvelous 2005, too…

Some weeks ago, I was helping some married friends of mine move. Derek and Kara (not their names, of course) did not want to spend the relocation grant money provided through Kara’s new company on a full-blown moving service. They decided to move all of their stuff themselves but with help from PODS.

PODS is an acronym for Portable On Demand Storage, and it amounts to somebody unloading an enormous empty crate onto your driveway that looks like a small railcar, you fill it up with your earthly booty, and then they schlep it to your new driveway, wherever that may be. They will also provide boxes – really good boxes that, as it turns out, can be taped up airtight.
Since Derek and Kara would need help, I selflessly volunteered my time to help them box up absolutely everything they own.

Derek and Kara had two dogs: Fido and Lassie (nope… not their real names). Fido and Lassie were constantly trying to help us pack – Lassie especially since I had to chase her away from the big metal crate on many occasions.

On the last evening that we were packing, Kara ran to a friend’s house to drop off some borrowed tools while Derek went for pizza. I volunteered to keep packing stuff away since the POD was to be picked up the very next morning, and we were behind schedule.

Derek and Kara had an antique tool chest on metal casters that was to be moved. The upper half of this chest had four drawers while the lower half was just a tray on which you could stack paint cans about two-high. This tool chest had non-locking drawers that slid in and out very easily for something of that age. Derek did not want any tape holding the drawers shut because of the residue that the tape would leave on it, but we figured that since it was slightly smaller that the large boxes provided, we could wheel it into one and tape the box shut. This way there would be no tape on the tool chest, and if the drawers were to open, they wouldn’t open very far, and the cardboard wouldn’t damage the antique.

While I was left alone, I figured that I’d pack up the chest myself. Standing up a large, long box on its short side in the POD, I wheeled the chest into the POD and into the box. Then, after going back inside the house to track down the tape, I made sure that the box was sealed tightly. I wanted to make sure that this box didn’t move around much, so I wheeled their large gas grill into the POD and positioned it up against the tool chest’s box, locking the wheels, to brace it during the move.

Derek arrived back at the house at the same time Kara did, so we all took a break and chowed down on some pizza. About an hour later we became very determined and loaded up everything else with record speed. Derek blared his radio to keep the tempo going. When the last box was loaded, the three of us in ceremonial fashion slammed the POD door shut.

Also in ceremonial fashion, we cracked open some beers and began the post-loading rehydration.
While we were sitting around shooting the shizzle, Kara was calling for Lassie. Fido was playing in the back yard, but Lassie was nowhere to be found. Fearing that we locked Lassie in the POD, we hurriedly unlocked and opened the door, but Lassie was not among the boxes. Noticing the fence in the backyard, Derek told me that their gas grill – the gas grill that I had moved – had blocked a hole in the fence through which Lassie had escaped before. I told Derek that I was outside the entire time that they were gone except for when I went looking for the tape, and that must have been when Lassie made a break for it. Since I had no idea about the hole or Lassie’s tendencies, Derek said that it wasn’t my fault, and that the other times Lassie had escaped, she had always reappeared the next morning.

Feeling just awful the next day, I went to Derek and Kara’s house to see if Lassie had returned. She hadn’t. We watched the movers load the POD onto a flatbed truck and drive away. Kara was sick to her stomach that Lassie wasn’t back by now, and I felt horrible.

Derek and Kara left some food on their porch, and the neighbors all would keep watch for Lassie. Whoever found Lassie would keep her until Derek and Kara would come back in a few weeks for the closing on their old house.

Being the nice friend that I am, I flew to D&K’s new hometown to help them unpack (I was on break between classes anyway). They hadn’t expected me, but I wanted to get out of Dallas for a change of scenery anyway, and they were glad to have another helper to unload their belongings. And darn glad they were because the first thing we had to unload was an awkwardly weighted deep freezer – the squat kind with the lid on the top. The only good thing was that the big metal crate was situated in front of the garage, and it was a straight shot to place the freezer in its new home at the back of it.

After hearing the whirring of the deep freeze successfully deep freezing, we went about with the rest of the unloading. This was supposed to be a wearily monotonous part of my day, but it didn’t turn out that way.

When I got to the box marked “Tool Chest”, I sliced it open, and to my horror, I discovered a very dead dog lying on the tray at the bottom of the chest. Derek and Kara were upstairs in the house, and thinking quickly (too quickly), I wanted to hide the dog so that Kara wouldn’t have a breakdown. The darn dog must have climbed into the box as I went to look for the packing tape in the house, I figured, and I never noticed her when I taped the box shut. Since I was standing in the POD with the open part facing the garage, the first thing I saw was the deep freezer. I picked up the hefty dog, set him in the freezer, and I ran back into the POD so that it looked like I was completely busy with unloading the crate.

My thinking was this: 1) Derek and Kara think that their dog ran away. 2) Derek and Kara would just die if they knew that their dog was dead. 3) I could dispose of the dog tomorrow. 4) Derek and Kara could envision Lassie living it up somewhere – and being non-dead.
We unpacked a lot of the crate, and I was very nervous as we positioned Derek’s wood-working tools around the freezer: a lathe, a table saw, a band saw, etc. I just knew that somebody was going to open the freezer to cool off as we sweated through the day. Luckily, the freezer never was opened.

The next morning, Kara had to report for her first day of work. Derek works out of his house, but he was going to use the early part of the day to go to the DMV and to run some errands. I told them both that I would be just fine sitting around for a bit, because after all, it was my vacation.

After they both left, I was going to dispose of the dog, but I didn’t know where. I had taken a cab from the airport, and I wasn’t going to call one so that I could take the dead dog to the closest dumpster. What I thought I could do would be to hide the dog in the outgoing trash – there was much trash being generated as a result of throwing away moving material – but I couldn’t very well put that big dead dog in a trash bag. It was way too heavy for one trash bag.

I didn’t exactly like what I was about to do next, but in order to save my friends from mental anguish knowing that their dog slowly asphyxiated, I had to do what I had to do.
A chef’s trick to slicing ground sausage is to freeze it slightly beforehand. (I know… I know… I don’t know what I was thinking – you don’t know how horrible I feel.) And the deep freezer was right next to Derek’s band saw. If I could divide the dog into pieces, it could be deftly hidden in the many bags making up D&K’s trash on the curb.

I turned the crank on the band saw so that I would have the maximum clearance and the most blade access. (If you don’t know what a band saw is, the actual saw band is about 1” wide, and this particular machine has an 11-foot saw blade band that is looped on a pulley system. Think chainsaw with an 11-foot chain.) I reached into the freezer and grabbed Lassie’s front paw: stiff as a board.

I turned on the saw and positioned the dog in front of the blade. Like pulling a loose tooth or ripping off a band-aid, I was cringing, so I had to do this quickly.

I plowed Lassie’s midsection into the running blade and discovered two things immediately: 1) overnight was not enough time to freeze Lassie completely, and 2) Lassie had been slightly pregnant.

The effect of the dog not being totally frozen is that it didn’t so much as slice cleanly as it did just spill open. I shrieked.

Instinctively squatting down to gather the effects of the ripping saw blade, and further to my horror, I saw the garage door open.

Going to her first day at work, Kara needed to present her Social Security card as a requirement for employment, so they let her return home to get that very thing. She had heard the saw running and had heard me yell, so she came down to investigate.

From here on, you can pretty much guess how the story is going except that I am not only involved in a lawsuit with Derek and Kara. You see, Kara is a dog lover (and so am I, truly), and she rushed to get PETA involved. If you are unaware, PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA is one of the largest animal rights groups in the country, and they have some very high-powered lawyers.

And this is why I’m screwed.

It all seemed so innocent. I was just trying to save my friends from dealing with the reality of a horrific accident. I really did care about them – I didn’t want them to hurt. The circumstances were just totally unlucky.

I mean, it’s not like I did anything stupid…

…like Pokemon getting engaged last year.

Happy April Fools’ Day. Doggone it… Have a great April Fools’ Day.

(man… that’s a good day. And before terrified readers and dog lovers spam the heck out of my email, read the above line once more to yourself.)Get your hair of the dog early for this weekend:

Thursday, March 31st (into April 1st), 2005
BLARNEY STONE on Greenville Ave in Dallas
9 o’clock PM CST (we turn to CDT this weekend, by the way… really)

[Non-text portions of this message have become really hungry for Hamburger Helper for some reason. A really, really rare mix with extra gristle. Hmmmmmmmmm… Or perhaps some chocolate. Chocolate’s always good.]