Saturday, March 31, 2007

Brilliant But Cancelled

I found a new website the other day. I've added it to the list of "Links I Like" on the right side of the page. Brilliant But Cancelled was put together by the fine folks at Bravo Television. You can go to this site and see your favorite series that the critics didn't like and relegated them to the TV scrap heap.

It also offers a lot of news, blogs, and commentary about current series whose actors might find themselves looking for work soon. I personally liked the "TVLoution" that showed some actors at various points in their careers.

But as for me, I am looking forward to watching "Sliders" again.

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

When I started this blog seven months ago, I admitted that I wasn't sure what I was doing. I knew there were blogs out there, but had not read very many of them. So I jumped into the pool and started talking about things that I was thinking about, or reading about. We all lead interesting lives and I have been fortunate to have lots of things to talk about.

I started Recipe Mondays to share with you some of my favorite creations (and the creations of others). I talked about archives and looked to include archival content when I could, especially when this blog was picked up on Archives Blogs.

I created a political blog to track the 2006 midterm elections and it has been transformed into watching the ever growing larger snowball of the 2008 presidential race. I have even started a third blog, which I have yet to contribute any thing further to, with the idea of creating a clearinghouse for my family to keep in touch with each other.

As I became more comfortable blogging, I ventured out into the blogosphere and discovered all sorts of blogs on an incredible variety of topics. After getting recommendations from others, I started reading blogs of individuals I considered "celebrity bloggers." Everybody has something to say, it is just a matter of who you get to come and read it. I said at the outset of this "project," "If you have a blog and no one reads it, is it really there?" Evidently, at least looking at the map found on the blog, people are stopping by.

I received the ultimate accolade the other day when I checked in on my blog and found that not one, but two of the "celebrity bloggers" I read regularly had come to my blog, read it AND left comments. Restaurant Gal, who offers a window into the restaurant business that I can't get enough of, and Kim Ayres, who writes "Ramblings of the Bearded One," from his perch in Scotland, both stopped by. I don't recall having left a comment on Restaurant Gal's blog recently, but had just mentioned to Kim that I wanted his wife's chocolate cake recipe after he mentioned its chocolately goodness in a recent post. He offered a substitute, Blackberry Crumble.

It had never occurred to me that people other than those I know were coming to read this. To that end, I thank all of my friends as well, for they can hear those stories from me "in the flesh," but they have often contributed fodder for the blog and I am grateful to them. To those of you who have come by who don't know me, I thank you as well. I am moved by the idea that you have found something worthwhile here and I will continue to try to make you think, smile, frown, or make you stop and go hmmm. Leave a comment and let me know how I am doing and I will continue to try and do it the best I can.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Now that's a Sandwich

When I first moved to the DC area, I lamented (actually, it might have been complained) that I could not get Boar's Head cold cuts. Recently, the Giant supermarket started carrying them. Alleluia! I was once again able to order Boar's Head Bologna, sliced THICK (that's important!) to have sandwiches, on white bread with mayonnaise. Stop moaning, it's really good.

When I was growing up, my mother would take me to the "Farmer's Market," where I would ride the carousel, get samples from the "pickle guy," get baked goods, and my mother would get produce and then move over to Tony the butcher for her meat order. Tony always offered me a few slices of bologna (sliced thick). I was hooked, for you know what they say, first one's free.

So the bologna sandwiches began to appear in my lunch at work. And, I mean, they are so good that best friend asked me to make him one after spotting me eating one in the cafeteria one day. I delivered on this yesterday. While mine was the desired mayo variety, I prepared best friend's with mustard.

The group I eat lunch with (several of whom read this blog) commented on the sandwich swap. Mrs. Best Friend told him that he should offer something to me in exchange for the sandwich. So I scored a package of Ho-Ho's for break time. Literally, Sweet!

The conversation turned to the swapping of lunch items that we all engaged in during our school careers. I spent much of the first, second, and third grades trading tuna fish sandwiches with Matthew Kinigson, as for some reason, we liked how each other's mother made their tuna.

There is a long list of comfort foods out there in the world. For me, bologna (sliced thick) is right up there at the top of the list. Now that Boar's Head is readily available here in MD, now I have to start working on getting Wise chips to muscle out the Utz people. Heaven!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Recipe: Cheddar Ale Soup

Although spring has arrived, here is a soup recipe that we might try before the snow flies again. It's got beer and cheese, what could be wrong with that? The recipe comes from magazine.

Cheddar-Ale Soup
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 12-ounce beer, preferably ale
  • 2 18-ounce bags precooked diced peeled potatoes (or 2 1/4 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and boil until tender)
  • 1 14-ounce can vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups nonfat or low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced or finely chopped

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add beer, bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Add potatoes, broth and water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher to the desired consistency.

Whisk milk and flour and add to the soup. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in 1 1/4 cups cheese and stir until melted. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese and bell pepper.

Makes 6 servings, 1 3/4 cups each.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

And the Four Shall Go to Atlanta

The Final Four have been decided. I sweated out the end of the Georgetown game, until UNC forgot how to score baskets and the Hoyas ran away in overtime. The four teams are:
  • The number 1 seed from the Midwest (and overall) - Florida
  • The number 2 seed from the West - UCLA
  • The number 2 seed from the East (and my pick) - Georgetown
  • The number 1 seed from the South - OSU

I did not have UCLA in my Final Four (having chosen Kansas) thinking that UCLA would lose to Pitt, but these things happen. So I have three of the four in my bracket left and I am still going with Georgetown over OSU and Florida over UCLA for the championship game, with the Hoyas prevailing as the new national champion!

In other sports news, I have secured tickets for Opening Day here in Washington, DC, so a week from tomorrow, I will head out to RFK to take in the Nationals as they face the Florida Marlins. I have been to the two previous Opening Day games for the Nats and am looking forward to this year, too! I might even get a season ticket package to secure my chance at seats in the new stadium.

As for hockey, with the season winding down, the New York Rangers beat the New York Islanders in overtime today to leap over Tampa Bay in the standings into sixth place. With five games to go, it will be a race to the wire for a playoff spot, with five teams in the Eastern Conference fighting for two chances to extend their season.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

No Wonder I Can't Afford a House!

The listing.

For a mere $32.5 million dollars you can own a rooftop. But look on the bright side, construction costs for the penthouse of your dream are included in the price. But not parking. That will be an additional $175,000. Of course, it's not so bad when you look at it from a monthly mortgage payment perspective. Assuming 20 percent down and 6 percent interest, the monthly shell-out would be just shy of $165,000. (Maintenance fee included!)
The article in the Washington Post equates the purchase to buying a lot of land in the suburbs, this lot happens to be on top of a building in lower Manhattan. You would be in good company, with a number of celebrity tenants in the neighborhood. And you are getting a good deal, too. Two recent apartments were built recently for 42 and 53 million dollars.
The listing states this is a limited-time offer. Want to chip in and we'll all buy it?

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Mall of America

Prompted by an article I read in the New York Times Magazine, March 4, 2007.

This summer, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota (within easy reach of the
Minneapolis/St. Paul airport - an easy shopping day trip?) will celebrate its 15th Anniversary. While it remains the largest mall in the United States at 4.2 million square feet, there are several more in Asia that are larger. The current leader is a mall in China that is 9.6 million square feet.

If you click on the link above, you will learn a bunch of useless facts about the Mall of America's "hugeness" including the banal statistic that "258 Statues of Liberty could lie inside." More than 500 stores and 20,000 parking spaces await you and you can even order a coupon book online.

The article goes on to attempt to explain how the "Mall of America" has become a brand (MY friend went to the Mall of America and all they could afford was this lousy T-shirt). One woman is attempting to poke some fun at that. Rosemary Williams, who is an artist and an assistant professor at St. Cloud State University, decided to make a "sculpture," she called the Wall of Mall. Her blog,, explains her plan. There are even podcast episodes available for download. Here she chronicles her problem, in that stores did not want to give her a bag without a purchase. So she has been spending weeks going back and forth, buying things and returning them to get the bag for her sculpture, which you can see here.

The things some people will do for their art. And here in DC, even the garbage is being turned into art.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

That's Why They Call Them Mothers

Today would have been my mother's 77th birthday. I find myself thinking about her and the things she used to say to me, those "momilies" that we all have and hold on to. My mother loved politics and lived in New York and voted for Hillary when she ran for Senate. I think I got my love of politics from her. I used to impress her when we would watch the State of the Union or some political event with rattling off the names of the politicos on the screen.

It also is the 25th anniversary of the day that Congress sent the Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification. Although we all realize how that turned out.

I noted the other day in the Washington Post that Hillary Clinton had said during an appearance on the View, when asked if being a mother would help her as a presidential candidate, "We've never had a mother who ever ran for or held that position."

Um, Hil, grab a textbook for me, will ya? You are not the first mother to run for President. Not even close.
  • Victoria Claflin Woodhull - She ran in 1872 (with Ulysses Grant and Horace Greeley getting all the press) and was also the first woman to own a Wall Street investment firm.
  • Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood - 1884 (Grover Cleveland and James G. Blaine) and 1888 (Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison). She was also the first woman lawyer to argue before the Supreme Court.
  • Patsy Takemoto Mink - 1972 (Richard Nixon vs. George McGovern) Democratic Primary in Oregon. She was the first woman of color to serve in the Congress.
  • Ellen McCormack - She ran in 20 primaries in 1976 (Gerald Ford vs. Jimmy Carter) and became the first woman to qualify for federal matching funds and Secret Service protection. She also ran again as the Right to Life candidate in 1980.
  • Sonia Johnson - Headed the ticket of the Citizen's Party in 1984 (Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale) and also qualified for federal matching funds.
  • Lenora Fulani - The first woman and the first African-American to appear as a presidential candidate in all 50 states, when she ran for president for the New Alliance Party in 1988 and 1992.
  • Carol Moseley Braun - Ran in the 2004 Democratic primaries and was also the only African-American senator from 1993 to 1999.

In fairness to Mrs. Clinton, there were three other female candidates who did not have children.

  • Elizabeth Dole, who ran in the Republican primaries in 2000.
  • Shirley Chisolm, the first African American woman to run (in 1972)
  • Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman to have her name placed in nomination by a major party (in 1964).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Power of Peppermint

An article in Tuesday's Washington Post reports that a Silver Spring principal went one step further. She went out and bought 3,600 peppermint candies. She went with evidence she had found (on the Internet) that (along with good teaching, careful preparation, a good night's sleep, and a full stomach - DUH) the use of peppermint helped with brain boosting. If nothing else, the kids will have fresh breath.

There is actual scientific evidence to back up the claim. The article reports that a 1990s study at the University of Cincinnati found that the smell of peppermint helped test subjects concentrate and do better on tasks that required sustained concentration. A psychology professor at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia found that athletes performed better after catching a whiff of peppermint.

This was enough for a superintendent in Montgomery County, Maryland. He directed several schools to distribute the candies at test time. There are a fair amount of skeptics that believe the findings are mind games, that people think they can do better because of the candies.

Perhaps this is where I went wrong in my school career. I prefer chocolate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Sweet Sixteen!

And we are down to 16 teams. Games will return on Thursday and Friday to determine the Elite 8. As it stands right now, I have 11 teams still alive on my bracket. I have two teams that did not survive although I had them making it to the round of 8, so I'm already 0-2 for the next round.

Here's my picks for the Sweet Sixteen with the teams remaining:
  • Florida over Butler - Butler beat MD, but Florida should continue its roll to the Final Four, despite a scare from Purdue.
  • UNLV over Oregon - Those runnin' rebels are not going away quietly. The Cinderella team of the tourney?
  • Kansas over Southern Illinois - It will be one of the better games, but the Solukis should finally hit the wall.
  • Pitt over UCLA - Quiet and determined, the boys from Steel City shouldn't fall until they meet Kansas in the next round. The West bracket is the only one where I have all four teams.
  • UNC over USC - Alphabetically, N over S and the end of any teams west of the Rockies
  • Georgetown over Vandy - Georgetown is still my pick for the champion.
  • OSU over Tennessee - another number 1 seed, another victory for OSU
  • Memphis over Texas - then again, I had Texas losing to Penn.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Recipe Monday: Seared Salmon

My wife and I are big fans of Costco (I mean where else can you get a 80lb. bag of sugar and the kayak of your dreams in the same place?) and they have frozen salmon that is an excellent choice.

Seared Salmon with Horseradish Mustard Vinaigrette
  • two 6-ounce pieces salmon fillet
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. drained bottled horseradish

Pat salmon dry and coat with salt and pepper. In a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) heat 1 tbsp. of oil over high heat until hot but not smoking and sear salmon, skin side down, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to moderately low. Turn salmon and cook 4 minutes more or until it just flakes.

While salmon is cooking, in a small bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, horseradish, remaining 2 tbsp. oil, and salt and pepper to taste until emulsified.

Serve vinaigrette over salmon (my wife often makes more vinaigrette and we serve the salmon over greens).

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The New Magnificent Seven

No, it's not a remake, well, not really. The seven wonders of the ancient world are being "term-limited." For those who are not sure, the ancient seven wonders are:
  1. The Great Pyramid(s) at Giza
  2. The Hanging Gardens at Babylon
  3. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  4. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnarssus
  6. The Colossus of Rhodes
  7. The Lighthouse at Alexandria

Only the Great Pyramids still exist and now they are getting some company. The New7Wonders Foundation was created in 2001 by a Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber and he is giving the world the opportunity to vote on a new list. It is expected that more than 100 million people will vote. There are 21 proposals to join the ranks:

  1. The Acropolis, Greece
  2. Hagia Sophia, Turkey
  3. The Kremlin / St. Basil's, Russia
  4. The Colosseum, Italy
  5. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
  6. The Eiffel Tower, France
  7. Stonehenge, United Kingdom
  8. The Alhambra, Spain
  9. The Great Wall of China, China
  10. Kiyomizu Temple, Japan
  11. The Sydney Opera House, Australia
  12. Angkor, Cambodia
  13. The Taj Mahal, India
  14. Timbuktu, Mali
  15. Petra, Jordan
  16. The Great Pyramids, Egypt
  17. The Statue of Christ Redeemer, Brazil
  18. Easter Island Statues, Chile
  19. Machu Picchu, Peru
  20. Chichen Itza, Mexico
  21. The Statue of Liberty, USA

The site is very interesting. Once you register, you can vote for your seven favorites and you can create campaign slogans that others will see. It's an election that we can all participate in and for the most part, be happy with the results.

To protect the secrecy of the polling booth, I will not reveal my choices, but I encourage everyone to get online and vote for your favorites! As the site says, just 110 days left to vote.

And the 64 Shall Become 32

End of the first round. I am still better than .500 (with twenty-two of my teams advancing and eleven heading home). You have to wonder how many people have meaningless pool sheets now, with Duke back in North Carolina. Probably just people from UMD who hate Duke more than most. Congratulations to Archivalist and his VCU team, who squeaked past Duke on a last second basket. Stunning victory. My Albany Great Danes phoned their play in, losing badly (well, not badly, they lost really well) to UVA.

A piece of archival content. It was reported to me by C in DC that this marked the first time since the field went to 64 teams that the top seeds (#1-5) all advanced out of the first round. I'll check back with a list of the "sweet sixteen" and prognostications.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mike Richter for Congress

Former New York Rangers goalie Mike Richter, a member of the Stanley Cup Champion team in 1994, has been approached by the Democrats in Connecticut to run against Congressman Christopher Shays in 2008.

The "In the Loop" column in the Washington Post reported yesterday that the goalie, "wowed the Democratic caucus Wednesday . . . The usual sources report he was humble and direct and told the Dems that he hoped to join them and that he thought they were fighting the good fight. Members swamped him afterward, and one observer noted that in addition to being a hunk he seemed to still have his teeth -- thankfully protected by a goalie mask for those 15 seasons."

"I love this plan! I'm excited it could work! LET'S DO IT!" - Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters. I concur with Mr. Murray and would move to Connecticut if only to be able to vote for one of my favorite Rangers.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I Can't Win

I have lamented here publicly about the traffic here in the DC area. This week I have been spared from the road warriors, as I have been working downtown and have been taking Metro. Today, I arrived at the station to get on the train, and found one waiting for me. Not unusual, until I realize it's not going anywhere. Cue the PA announcement. "Attention Customers, this train has been instructed to hold at this station due to a "fire situation" at Dupont Circle." The announcement continues to tell us (the train has filled up by now) that trains are holding up and down the Red Line and when they start, trains will single track through four stations around the Dupont Circle Station. (For those of you not from the DC area - you love the Metro, but ride it every day then come talk to me. And don't even get me started about the "untended luggage" at the Rockville station last night.) You can learn about all of these travel woes on the Metro here. So when we finally got moving, we did the slow crawl into the city. My normal twenty minute commute took me an hour. It's a good thing I love my job.

On another unrelated? note, today is the Ides of March, a particularly bad day for Julius Caesar. It's also proving to be a bad day for a few of my Big Dance picks. My Cinderella choices of GWU and Penn have been obliterated and I must have had a brain fade to have picked Stanford. I don't even like Tiger Woods, why would I pick his school? And with time running out, my Marquette pick ain't looking so good either. I mean, geez, it took them eight minutes to score their first basket. And Duke is having trouble with VCU, but that's not necessarily bad. Yes, I picked Duke, but that doesn't mean I like them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's March Madness

According to a professor at the Yale School of Management, betting the seeds in the March Madness Pool will yield a 56% success rate. Of course, that makes you no money in odds, but perhaps some money in the office pool. Two other professors, from the math and computer science department of St. Louis University, adopt a different approach, creating a model that picks the teams that others don't pick and found that to be as important as selecting the winners, especially in larger pools.

That being said, here's my picks for the first round. I won't make any more predictions for the moment, but I will go out on a limb right now and say that I'm picking Georgetown to win it all. My Final Four are Florida, Georgetown, Kansas, and Ohio State. Feel free to kibbitz.

Midwest Region:
  • Florida over Jackson State - Florida is the defending champ. They will be hard to beat in every round and might not.
  • Arizona over Purdue
  • Butler over Old Dominion
  • Maryland over Davidson - fear the turtle, until they meet Florida.
  • Notre Dame over Winthrop - C'mon, it's St. Patty's day, you got to pick the Fightin' Irish.
  • Oregon over Miami (OH) - Can't afford to keep the Archives of the Archives listserve, can't play basketball (only archivists and readers of the new archives list will get this inside joke).
  • UNLV over Georgia Tech - Best Friend went to University of Georgia, so it's anyone over Tech.
  • Wisconsin over Texas A&M

West Region:

  • Kansas over Niagara - I would like to see Niagara win, but I don't think it will happen.
  • Villanova over Kentucky - possibly the best matchup of the first round, two teams that are both called the Wildcats.
  • VA Tech over Illinois
  • So. Illinois over Holy Cross - it would set up the matchup of Ill. vs. So. Ill. if Illinois can beat VA Tech.
  • Duke over VCU - for now . . .
  • Pitt over Wright St. - just for you, Ed!
  • Gonzaga over Indiana - love those screamin' Eagles
  • UCLA over Weber State - that one's for Cheryl and the fact that they're really, really good at this game.

East Region:

  • UNC over E. Kentucky
  • Marquette over Michigan State
  • USC over Arkansas - the Razorbacks are not the team they used to be.
  • Texas over New Mexico State - "Don't Mess With Texas" until they meet the Trojans.
  • GW over Vanderbilt - The new DC Cinderella story, replacing last year's George Mason
  • Washington State over Oral Roberts - not even He can help ORU in this one
  • Boston College over Texas Tech - Maybe Bobby will throw some more chairs if he loses.
  • Georgetown over Belmont - Belmont is only good for horse racing

South Region:

  • Ohio State over Central Connecticut - the Buckeyes are no match for the not-Huskies
  • Xavier over BYU
  • Tennessee over Long Beach State - Long Beach, long shot
  • Albany over Virginia - My alma mater! Go Great Danes!
  • Stanford over Louisville - the wheels come off the bus with this pick
  • Penn over Texas A&M - gotta root for the Ivy League
  • Nevada over Creighton
  • Memphis over N. Texas

Monday, March 12, 2007

Washington Marks an Anniversary

News recently that Washington DC will be the site of the newest Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. The museum will fill the void left by the National Wax Museum, which closed in 1984. Currently the topic of discussion of who should be immortalized in the hall. One figure has been getting a fair amount of support. "Mayor for Life Marion S. Barry, Jr." Marion Barry, currently a DC Council member, served as DC's mayor until the "bitch set him up" in a drug raid that caught the mayor smoking crack in a DC hotel room.

Marion Barry was elected mayor in 1978, a year after he gained notoriety in an attack that occurred thirty years ago today. On this date, a group of Hanafi Muslim gunmen stormed three locations around the city, the Wilson Building, home to DC government and then called the District building, the B'nai B'rith International Center, and the Islamic Center, taking more than 150 people hostage.

At the District Building, Barry was hit by a shotgun blast as he stepped out of the Council Chambers. Already dead was Maurice Williams, a reporter for WHUR radio, the Howard University radio station. At ceremonies today, the press room at the Wilson Building will be named in Williams' honor.

The siege ended when ambassadors from Iran, Pakistan, and Egypt persuaded the gunmen to give up, with no further loss of life.

In an age where threats of terrorism are a part of daily life, this was an early reminder to a city that now lives with the specter of attacks nearly every day and a hint of what could happen again in an instant.

Recipe Monday

As today is the anniversary of Juliette Gordon Low starting the Girl Scouts, I offer to you a recipe that makes use of Girl Scout Cookies, in this case Tagalongs, or peanut butter patties, my favorite. To find the recipe, I "googled" "cooking with girl scout cookies" and found this recipe on the Totem Council Girl Scouts of Northwest Washington webpage.


  • 6 individual SoufflĂ© dishes, buttered and lined with wax paper on all sides
  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 tbsp. butter, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 boxes Tagalong cookies
  • 2 ½ cups whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • chocolate shavings for garnish

Melt chocolate with 2 tbsp. butter in top of double boiler. While chocolate in melting, prepare crust for parfait. CRUST: Finely grind 1-½ boxes of Tagalong cookies. Divide mixture evenly between six prepared molds. Gently pat down cookie mixture to form bottom crust of parfait.

Whip 1 cup whipping cream with ¼ cup sugar and vanilla just until slightly thickened. Add cream mixture to melted chocolate and fold together. Divide chocolate mixture evenly between six molds and tap down lightly.

Whip 1 ½ cups whipping cream with confectioner’s sugar until soft peaks form. Mix peanut butter with 2 tbsp. butter until very smooth and creamy. Fold the 2 mixtures together and divide evenly between the six molds. Smooth tops and tap lightly. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Remove from refrigerator at least 30 min. before serving. Place parfait on plate and remove mold. Gently peel away wax paper. Garnish with remaining cookies that have been coarsely chopped and shaved chocolate.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Get Your Blue Coffee Here!

This link was sent to me by a friend. Blue State Coffee, a new brand, is out there with the following mission statement:
  • To offer organic, fairly traded coffee, roasted to perfection.
  • To donate half our profits after taxes to causes that reflect our Democratic values.
  • To unite a community of people who care about what's happening in this country.

Here's their story:

Every time you drink a cup of our premier quality, perfectly roasted, fairly traded coffee, you're contributing to a positive movement for change in this country.

The idea struck one Saturday morning during a coffee-and-donuts run for the rest of the family. Standing in line, we started talking politics. "Wouldn't it be great," Drew commented, studying the elaborate menu, "if profits from all of these lattes could be channeled into great causes?"

It made sense. People wouldn't need to find more time or spend more money. They could enjoy the highest quality coffee and support the progressive causes our community cares about.

A year later, with the help of some like-minded friends, Blue State Coffee opened for business.

We hope you'll read more about our coffee and how we donate. And please be in touch. That's what Blue State Coffee is all about.

Drink liberally.

The coffee is a tad on the expensive side, but worth it. I might place an order and give it a try. You should too.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

"We've Come to See the Tapestries"

(Bonus points for the person who can identify the above line - despite it being about the wrong country).

News from Europe this week . . . Liechtenstein has been violated . . .

The army of "neutral" Switzerland invaded the tiny neighboring country of Liechtenstein . . . by accident. A Swiss company of nearly 200 pushed about two kilometers into its neighbour before realizing the mistake and heading back. On Wednesday night, February 28, during a routine training exercise for infantrymen in the Alpine forests close to an unmarked section of the border, the company commander led his men in the wrong direction in bad weather but gave the immediate order to return when realizing the error.

Liechtenstein had no time to react, only finding out when the Swiss told them. A spokesman for the Liechtenstein authorities said: "It's not like they invaded with attack helicopters." Well thank goodness.

This incident passed more easily than the last time these two nations "fought." In 1985, Switzerland had to pay Liechtenstein compensation when rockets fired by its army went astray and set a forest ablaze. The countries became embroiled in a lengthy dispute when the protected forest was set on fire.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

Two notable events in history today on the internal work webpage.

On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a patent for his telephone. This of course prompts me to wonder when the "do-not-call list" was patented and why hasn't it been renewed, for it certainly isn't working. I like to think I am not a rude person, but I must admit to hanging up on my fair share of telemarketers. Sometimes, just for the sport, I will string them along (but using speakerphone, which drives my wife nuts) only to then shoot them down right when they think they have me.

Fifty years after Mr. Bell's patent was issued, in 1926, the first successful trans-Atlantic radio-telephone conversation took place, between New York City and London. Of course now, we think nothing of global calling, with satellite phones. And we wonder how we live without phones. Someday I would like to try.

Archives in the News: The YIVO Institute

Anne Applebaum, an op-ed columnist in the Washington Post, posted the following in the paper on Tuesday, An Archives With Tales to Tell. The piece detailed the work of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, which has discovered letters from Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father, in their archives.

Here is the press release detailing the find.

This is a great story for the profession and promotes the work we do. All archives have good stuff in their somewhere and it's just up to us to go and find it.

Let's get back to work!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

That's Not True - Now Get out of the way, I can't see the TV

My wife and I limit our son's TV viewing. He gets a show (1/2 hour) in the morning and one in the evening. He gets his shows off of PBS (we LOVE Curious George and Clifford) and HBO (Postman Pat and his black-and-white cat, Jess) so he does not get commercials (another benefit of TiVo and why every parent should get one when they leave the hospital).

My wife and I watch a fair amount of the tube, but again, TiVo has changed the way we watch TV. My wife commented the other day, she is not sure when shows are on anymore as we rarely watch "live TV" anymore.

From the pages of Spirit Magazine, the following statistic caught my eye. As I was flying, I was not watching TV at the time. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the typical American "consumes" 3,518 hours of media in a year (there are 8,760 hours in a year). This includes cable television, broadband, movies, books, magazines, and newspapers. A figure that computes to about $936 per person per year.

The Census Bureau broke it out as follows:
  • Watching TV - 65 days
  • Listening to the radio - 41 days
  • Reading newspapers and magazines - 7 days
  • Listening to recorded music - 7 days
  • All other media activities - 26 days

Monday, March 5, 2007

Monday's Recipe: General Tso's Chicken

I had a chiropractor appointment tonight and that brought me home past my favorite Chinese food restaurant. As a result, it led to takeout for dinner. My wife's favorite off the menu is General Tso's Chicken. This recipe comes courtesy of the Food Network and Emeril Lagasse.
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, or dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 12 dry red chile peppers
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 roughly chopped lightly toasted cashews
  • Green onions, sliced on the bias, garnish
  • Hot steamed white rice, accompaniment

In a bowl, whisk together the egg white, 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of the wine, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 hours.

To make the sauce, in another bowl, whisk remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of the chicken stock until smooth. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons chicken stock, 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, the vinegar, and sugar and whisk to combine. Set aside until ready to finish the dish.

In a large wok or pot, heat enough oil to come 3 inches up the sides to 350 degrees F.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and carefully slide into the hot oil. Fry, turning, until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Discard all but about 1 tablespoon of the oil from the wok. (Alternatively, in a clean wok or saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat.) Add the chile peppers and stir-fry until nearly black. Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup green onions. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chicken stock sauce, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Arrange the chicken on a platter and pour the sauce over it. Garnish with the cashews and additional green onions. Serve with hot rice.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Billy Joel - The Music of My Life

Growing up in my parent's house, we often listened to WNEW (1130 on your dial), which played such programming as "the Make Believe Ballroom" and "Saturday with Sinatra." Another popular station was WHLI (1100 on your dial), playing the "Music of your life" - provided your life was almost finished and you remembered when beetles were neither cars nor a band, just bugs.

Listening to these stations and my own musical station choices gave me rather eclectic musical tastes. While I could differentiate between Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney, I worked to teach my mother about more "modern" music. On Long Island, pop music usually meant Billy Joel. For a time, Billy even used to practice in the garage across the street, when he was getting his start with the Hassles, as a fellow band member lived there.

Billy Joel grew up in nearby Hicksville, lived later in Oyster Bay and even wrote a song about Christiano's, a popular Italian restaurant in Syosset.

I have seen him several times in concert, most recently one year ago today. I had gotten the tickets several weeks prior to my being in New York for my mother's funeral and decided to go to the show anyway. I really believe my mother would have wanted me to. So I went, was melancholy at times, even tearing up during a few songs, but had a great time. Billy is a master showman and gives a great concert. This run of concerts at Madison Square Garden set a record and there has been a CD released of the concerts.

Here is the set list from the show that I attended on March 4, 2006.
  • Prelude / Angry Young Man
  • My Life
  • Everybody Loves You Now
  • Ballad of Billy the Kid
  • New York State of Mind
  • Summer, Highland Falls
  • The Entertainer
  • Zanzibar
  • Miami 2017: Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway
  • Allentown
  • Sometimes a Fantasy
  • Captain Jack
  • Movin’ Out (Anthony's Song)
  • She’s Always a Woman
  • Keeping the Faith
  • River of Dreams
  • Highway to Hell (AC/DC song, performed by roadie)
  • We Didn’t Start the Fire
  • Big Shot
  • It's Still Rock and Roll to Me
  • You May Be Right

For the Encore, Billy returned to play Only the Good Die Young, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant and Piano Man (as if he would ever close out a show without it).

Thursday, March 1, 2007

I'm off to a Wedding

One of my oldest friends is getting married this weekend. This is the same individual for whom I traveled to Atlantic City a few weeks ago for his bachelor party. It has occurred to me that I have known him since the fourth grade. Damn, I'm old.

Tomorrow morning I will fly to Long Island's Islip MacArthur Airport, to pick up my tuxedo and attend the rehearsal dinner. My wife will come up on Saturday to meet me and we will go to the wedding together.

Perhaps, I will have some pictures to post when I return. Have a good weekend everybody!

Toygers - The New Cat Breed

When I was a Social Studies teacher in Poughkeepsie, New York, one of the successful "techniques" that I used with my students was that I had them believing that I was a cop, specifically, narcotics. Hey, you got do what you got to do. At the time I also had a cat at home that would get a little too frisky with me at times and would bite or scratch my hands on occasion. As a result, my hands would sometimes be scratched up and my students would ask about them. I would tell them I kept a tiger in my home as a special burglar alarm.

Now it seems I might be able to have something similar before long. There was an article in the recent "issue" of Life Magazine (a new insert to the newspaper, if you haven't seen it, don't bother, Henry Luce and Margaret Bourke-White are spinning in their graves). about the Toyger, a new breed of cat being developed.

I like cats. Do I really want one that reminds me of their close cousins that would eat me if given the chance? Probably not. But they are cute.