Million dollar idea

If I know anything about kids (I don’t), I know there are three things they like:

Profanity
Gross-out humor
Sugary breakfast cereals

Armed with this knowledge, I’m going to make a fortune with my new breakfast cereal — Crispy Shit Bitz. Think poop-shaped Cocoa Puffs. Genius, I tell ya.

Bonavita Variable Temperature Digital Electric Kettle

Man, I love my Bonavita 1-Liter Variable Temperature Digital Electric Gooseneck Kettle!

It’s fast, it’s consistent (temperature-wise), it’s just a joy to use.
If you brew coffee via pour-over, french press, AeroPress, etcetera; or tea that requires less than boiling-hot water, you should really consider one of these. It’s programmable from 140 F up to boiling, it will display the temp in either Fahrenheit or Celcius, the gooseneck spout gives you a nice, controllable pour, and it will hold whatever temp you set for up to an hour.

I love mine so much that I take it and my AeroPress along when I travel.

Coffee making gear, hotel room

The Bonavita 1-Liter Variable Temperature Digital Electric Gooseneck Kettle definitely earns “Crazy Greg’s Seal of Approval”.

Crazy Greg's Seal of Approval

An open letter to the makers of panini presses

Dear panini press makers,

It would be nice if you made the grill ribs run at a 45 degree angle, rather than perpendicular. I like for my panini to have aesthetically-pleasing diagonal grill marks. Food just tastes better when it looks nice.

I can achieve this with perpendicular grill lines, but it means putting my sandwich in catty-corner and sacrificing valuable grill real estate (grill estate?) thus making it nigh on impossible to prepare two sandwiches at the same time. I shouldn’t be forced to make this concession. Just make the grill ridges run at a 45 degree angle and we’re one step closer to panini perfection, and one problem closer to solving all the world’s problems.

Thanks.

Your friend,
Greg

Oh… so I’m the stupid one!

I enjoy Chinese food. A lot. There happens to be a Chinese buffet about 3 blocks from my house and I order takeout from them frequently. A while back it seemed that every time I called a man who spoke basically no English would answer the phone. After a few awkward moments of neither of us being able to understand the other, he’d put the woman who usually answers the phone on and all was well.

After about the fourth or fifth time this happened, it started to really annoy me. “Why the hell would you have the guy who doesn’t speak any English answering the phone? That’s just stupid.” I groused.

Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that I had been calling their fax number, which evidently rings in the kitchen, where English fluency isn’t so much a requirement. I had to laugh as I imagined the dialogue at their end: “Why the hell does that guy keep calling the fax machine? That’s just stupid.”

My vacation

It’s been a busy few days. I drove to Connecticut to my little sister and brother-in-law’s Tuesday (the 12th). Due to the traditional late start, I didn’t roll in until 4AM Wednesday, which meant that Wednesday was basically a recovery day.

Thursday was DaveCon. I rode the train into NYC from CT, met up with all my a.f.l. pals and had a fabulous Late Show experience. Then we shot the Tony Mendez Show (starring Tony Mendez) and off to dinner. Tony joined us at dinner and, as ballet season hasn’t started yet (he’s a huge fan), this year he stayed all evening, eating, sharing behind-the-scenes gossip and shouting “no more pictures“. A more in-depth DaveCon trip report is in the works. (DaveCon photos, here)

Friday I again rode the train in and met Traci, Helen, and the no longer yella Brady for pie. Due to some bad directions I was a bit late and missed Micah and David Yoder. Helen and Traci were headed to see the new Trek movie at the I-Max theater and Brady was bound for points unknown. I headed out to shop and sight-see by bike. Once I got going I was so totally overcome with, and enamored by, the rush of slithering through traffic that I lost sight of everything else. I weaved my way up the East side, through Harlem, into and around Central Park then down through the theater district and Times Square. Basically the only stops I made were to grab a hot dog, a pretzel, a banana, a slice of pizza, etcetera, devour it, and jump back on the bike. Finally, spent, I made my way back to Grand Central Terminal. I thought I could take my bike on any off-peak train and so I bought my ticket and boarded the 8:04 train to New Haven. Along comes the conductor and informs me that no, I have to wait for the 8:35 train, so, dejected, I get off the train and wait. Not a big deal, Grand Central is a wonderful place to pass some time, I was just tired and ready to head ‘home’.

Saturday and Sunday were spent hanging with the family and the doggies and a wonderful home-cooked meal, complete with a Vermont Mystic Apple Pie (thanks, sis, and Danny, for finding the pie).

Monday was another day of riding in NYC. Pie for breakfast then another train ride into the city. The weather was a bit cool and threatening-looking so the wind breaker put in an appearance (all day). I was a bit more successful in my shopping endeavors, and had a delightful lunch/snack in Chinatown. I had some sort of mystery cake; a dense sponge-type cake, covered in crushed nuts and filled with banana creme. This, a cup of tea and a big slab of fresh-baked bread set me back the princely sum of $2.10. (Cycling Manhattan photos, here)

I really can’t overstate how much fun I had. DaveCon was, once again, everything I could hope for (well aside from not getting the tour or photo-ops at Dave’s desk. Curse you, Kevin Spacey! And a pox upon you too, “Survivors”).

Cycling in Manhattan was, quite possibly, the most fun I’ve ever had. Weaving and slithering through traffic I felt, quite literally, like some kind of super-hero. I really do love New York.

Special thanks to all those involved for making it the trip of a lifetime (you know who you are).

Tuesday I drove back home and got to see Pennsylvania by daylight for the first time. It’s a lovely state. I’m thinking of relocating to Sugar Notch, PA.

Oh, and Kevin Spacey? You’re still on ‘the list’.

It just wouldn’t be the holidays without a food disaster

This year it was the sweet potatoes. After baking them, mom turned the broiler on to brown the obligatory marshmallow topping. Then she got distracted with something else until she smelled smoke. She opened the oven door and the sweet potatoes were literally in flames!

Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of the conflagration (I was too busy staring stupidly and being of absolutely no assistance). I did, however, get a photo of the aftermath. Thank goodness my mother has a sense of humor about things (as evidenced by the fact that she didn’t smother me with a pillow when I was a child).


I think the sweet potatoes are done

Attn. Tropics: Keep your storms to yourself!

Sunday, September 14 the remnants of Hurricane Ike rolled through my area. No rain to speak of, but the wind blew 60-80 mph all day long. By 3PM or so most of the area was without power as trees across the Miami Valley snapped or fell over, taking powerlines with them.

Not realizing at the time just how widespread the damage was, I wasn’t too concerned about the power, thinking it would be back on in no time. As it turned out, things were much worse than I’d realized. The Governor promptly declared my county (and several others) “Disaster Areas”. By the time I conceded that I needed to get some supplies (Tuesday), they were in short order. ‘C’ or ‘D’ batteries were no where to be found and Kroger was selling ice as fast as they could bag it up. I got ice, hoping to save my freezer full of Vermont Mystic Pies (tragically, that endeavor was doomed to failure), peanut butter and bread. I spent a week bored out of mind, reduced to eating peanut butter sandwiches and fast food and very thankful for Tim Horton’s coffee, having a gas water heater, and my XPower Powerpack 600HD, which I used to power my laptop and DSL modem and then recharged in the car while I drove around searching (in vain) for some sign of repair crews actually repairing. I know they were out there, working hard, It just would have been reassuring to have seen them doing something other than driving to and fro.

DP&L reported that 300,000 of its 515,000 customers lost power Sunday, Sept. 14.
Here’s the breakdown of DP&L customers without power, day-by-day:
Sept. 15: 300,000
Sept. 16: 200,000
Sept. 17: 105,000
Sept. 18: 80,000
Sept. 19: 65,000
Sept. 20: 51,000
Sept. 21: 38,000
Sept 22: 28,000
Sept. 23: 13,000
Sept. 24: 8,000

My power was restored just as I was getting ready to leave for work Friday night, the 19th. It was then that I discovered that my cable was out. Does the torture never end?

Finally Tuesday night around 5PM two trucks from Time Warner Cable showed up, they spent the next several hours circling the block, working on the wires, finally getting my cable back on at 8:50PM. Supposedly they will credit my bill for the time from 24 hours after the power was restored until the cable was restored, 73+ hours. Personally, I don’t think I should have to pay for any of the time that service was interrupted, but according to the Public Utilities Commission, they are only liable for the time after power was restored. Oh well.

In summation, I would just like to say this to the Tropics:

Keep your damned storms to yourself! We don’t send you our blizzards, do we?

Seriously, there is just something terribly wrong about suffering this sort of inconvenience at the hands of a hurricane/tropical storm while not enjoying any of the benefits of a tropical climate.
That’s all I’m saying.

Had to go to the ER today

I don’t know what the deal is. In my wild and criminally stupid youth I found myself in the ER at least once a year, some years much more.

Now I can only recall my last 3 visits, off the top of my head. Nearly 9 years ago I crashed my bike, broke my collar bone, and needed surgery for my leg. Then… nothing until this March, when out of the blue I nearly bled to death at work. Which brings us to today… I managed to give myself a knot (hematoma) the size of the prototypical goose egg (seriously, this ain’t no sissy-ass chicken egg!) on the top of my right wrist. Initially I’d decided to wrap it up and ignore it, but it hurt like a, shall we say, melon fever.

So, I go to the ER. Not the one half a mile from my house, where they’ve elevated incompetence to an art-form, but another (slightly less) nearby one where I was treated extremely well after my crash ~8 years ago and where the Orthopedic Surgeon who treated me practices.

They took some X-rays and after some consultation decided that nothing’s broken and no surgical intervention is called for at this time. If it gets any bigger or starts impinging on any nerves it will probably come to that. Actually I was almost hoping for surgery, recovery would’ve been a matter of days. History and experience have shown that this thing on my arm is going to take considerably longer than that to reabsorb.

So, probably no bike riding for a week or two, no work this weekend and… They gave me Vicodin. Well I must wrap this up, the Vicodin’s telling me I should bake a pie and watch a movie, and when Vicodin speaks, I listen.

Steve Earle at the Southern Theater (05/06/08) Review

Last night it was Steve Earle at the Southern Theater in Columbus.

I’d never been to the Southern Theater, but it looks lovely on the website. Upon arrival I’m quite pleased that there’s a parking garage directly across the street which is offering $3.00 “Special Event” parking. Can’t beat that. I park, walk across the street, pick up my ticket at Will Call and make my way in. The place is gorgeous! My seat is in the front row, almost uncomfortably close for an intimate acoustic show such as this.

Allison Moorer was amazing. I’d have to say that she’s probably the most technically gifted of any of the singers I’ve ever heard live. She really showcased her voice on her version of Patti Smith’s “Dancing Barefoot”, as well as on Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”. I think I may have to pick up her new album, Mockingbird, whereupon she pays tribute to some of her favorite female singer-songwriters. Thanks to this performance, I think Allison Moorer has earned a place on my ‘favorite female singer-songwriter’ list.

When the lights went down for Steve Earle, Steve wasted no time, bounding to the stage and immediately launching into “Steve’s Last Ramble”. What we have here is a quieter, dare I say, gentler Steve Earle. Through the course of the night he spoke of politics only briefly. I loved his line that he knew that if there were a candidate he supported the best thing he could do for them was “stay as far the fuck away as I can from ’em”. You can tell that the angry young man still dwells within (which Steve alluded to, saying he’s “working on a bunch of shit”), but for now he’s been pushed to the background by a Steve Earle who seems very much in love with (his wife) Allison Moorer, his adopted home of New York City, and of course, just playing music.

He played much of his set unaccompanied, then was joined by a DJ (yes a DJ, dropping beats and what-not) for a few songs. There has been some pretty heated discussion regarding Steve’s choice to use a DJ, but I really felt like it worked. I don’t know that I’d want the DJ out there for the whole set, but for the songs he played on (such as “Satellite Radio”, “Oxycontin Blues”, “CCKMP” and “Transcendental Blues”) it worked perfectly, to my ear.

Allison Moorer also came back out, lending her guitar playing and beautiful voice to a few tunes, including the lovely duet “Day’s Aren’t Long Enough” from Washington Square Serenade.

One of the highlights of the night for me was when Steve (unaccompanied) played the powerful “Billy Austin”. The intimate venue, being so close to the stage, it was truly transcendent. Another high point was Steve’s amazing guitar picking on “Tom Ames’ Prayer”, the constant touring has definitely kept his chops honed. I also got a good laugh when, after playing “City of Immigrants” Steve said; “In case you’re wondering, this instrument is called a bouzouki everywhere except airport security. There it’s ‘a banjo or something’.”

All in all, a fantastic show; 3 hours well spent.

I hit the Waffle House on the way home for some coffee, hashbrowns, and a ham & cheese omelet. The perfect ending to a great night.

Here’s another review, by Joel in Columbus.

Vacation!

As of Monday, September 10th at 9AM; yours truly is on vacation.
Right now it’s “Vacation Stage I“:
Cooking yummy food, riding the bike(s), and eating yummy food.
Omelettes, rice pudding, and various pasta and Mexican dishes typically dominate the menu during this stage.

Friday afternoon kicks off “Vacation Stage II“:
Old Fashioned Days.
Live music, dangerous-looking carnival rides, arts and crafts, pedalboat rides, and surprizingly good fair food — representing many different cultures. You can have your funnel cakes and corn dogs, personally I’m a sucker for the Cajun booth;

  • Red Beans and Rice
  • Beignets
  • Jambalaya
  • Shrimp & Andouille Gumbo
  • Crawfish etouffee
  • Who knows, I might even snack on some gator on a stick!

Ayeee! That’s some fine eating! And the whole thing takes place literally a stones throw from my luxurious domicile.

Saturday night brings the Balloon Glow which really is the highlight of the event (not to diminish the fun of watching the constant stream of illegally parked cars being towed away just below my kitchen windows.) Ahhh…. Schadenfreude!

Sunday things wind down early but the delicious smells linger into the evening.

Monday will be a big ride day. I never get to ride on Monday!

Then Tuesday kicks off Vacation Stage III – The drive to Indianapolis to shower Mom, Aunt Donna, and my step-father with their extravagant and opulent birthday gifts. Then Wednesday we’ll have the big Adkins-approved meat feast and while everyone is recovering/relaxing and enjoying their new treasures, I’ll sneak in a bike ride.

Then it’s back home for Vacation Stage IV,
bracing myself for the return to work and apologising to Caldonia for leaving her alone for 2 whole days.

Fun at the Grocery Store

So, I was grocery shopping bright and early this morning when a display of pies caught my eye. Marionberry pies.

“I don’t even know what Marionberries are”, I muttered to myself.

I burst into laughter as my mind immediately conjured the grainy FBI surveillance video of disgraced, then inexplicably re-elected Washington D.C. mayor, Marion Barry smoking crack with his mistress in a hotel room.

Yep, it’s quite a life; 5AM, shopping at Kroger, laughing at pies.
Have I mentioned that I’m easily amused?

Hot Pockets

There are several reasons that I have never eaten, and plan never to eat, a Hot Pocket. The main reason has nothing to do with the bit (see video here) that Jim Gaffigan does about them in his stand-up routine (that is one of the reasons, though).

My reason? I can’t hear the name without automatically thinking ‘snot rocket’.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Yuck! Why on earth are you writing about ‘snot rockets’?”

Why? Two words… grass pollen.

Oh, and if you are an eater of Hot Pockets, good luck not thinking “snot rocket” from now on whenever you bite into one.

You’re welcome.