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Greece

Roman Agora | Athens

The Roman Agora in Athens

It finally happened. I am still processing the magnitude of the things I’ve seen.

Maybe I Should Start This Again

I’ve missed it. Last post was 2 years ago and I love spewing.

The Places To Go

Godafoss, Iceland

I’m officially adding Iceland on places I must go. It’s sitting next to Croatia, Greece, Norway, Brazil, Cinque Terre, Switzerland, and Patagonia. And that’s not counting the dearly beloved great cities of the world: London, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Buenos Aires that I must visit again and again just to say hello. I’m off to Montreal next, though, because the CDG flights were too expensive for just one week off.

The Week of Not-Sleep

Here I am, poised to go in for the third night of in-house night call coverage. Every morning, my anxious coworkers ask me how it was, how I slept, did I have to work? I’m only the third one of the entire staff who has had to do this. I volunteered to show solidarity and lead the way, I guess. I’ve been the first to use the call rooms that have been sadly placed near the doors by those who make decisions like this. I’d wager my left kidney the persons who made this decision will never spend a night in one of those call rooms.

It’s been like trying to sleep in a loud hostel but without the happy relief of alcohol or the pleasant exhaustion of all-day sightseeing that was and that is to come. It’s tight and anxious and the plastic mattress and thin, itchy sheets don’t help. When I leave there, having not-slept, I feel I have to be productive and make the most of the 16 hours allowed to me. The days have been beautiful and sunny spring days. While that’s been nice to enjoy to a certain degree, my mounting sleep debt has kept me from really enjoying it. I guess complaining about being paid for essentially just standing by is silly, what with all those out of work, starving, etc etc etc, but the very real lack of good sleep has infected everything. That’s how important sleeping is, folks. Not getting enough is like being drunk without the carefree part.

I suspect my IQ is suffering every day and so is an intangible aspect of my health. And I feel this way after only two nights of this. There are three more to go. I’m going to watch my episode of Mad Men and then go back to the world of the not-sleep where I can already hear the shutting of that door in the back of my head.

John & Stephen

St. Patrick’s 2012

My friend posted this link to her Facebook a couple of days ago. I read it through and completely loved it. The first time I heard the term “Irish car bomb” used as a drink name, I was a little stunned something so real could be used by frat boys and their hangers on as the name of some ridiculous (and disgusting) drink. I’ve seen the debris left after an IRA bomb, in London, ages ago. That’s the sound of reality settling in.

The best, and yet most annoying part, about this page was the Twitter feed at the bottom of the jackasses posting about “St. Patty’s Day”. Patricia never had a day, alright. The idiotic comments usually centered around “It’s not PADRICK, morons. I don’t get why people just don’t get it.” It was like sitting in the back of a creationist classroom and uploading the video to YouTube. Hilarious.

Whiners are Losers

Trying to change anything is incredibly hard, especially when no one wants to join you in it even if they’re all unhappy with the status quo. I’ve been bogged down with a few things like this at work. I’ve spend weekends, the few short hours of the evening I usually should take for myself, trying to make a difference in my work environment and all I hear is the endless bleating of whining and “why nots”. And yet not a single person has a constructive idea or even support. Even clear votes draw a¬†cacophony¬†of negative, miserly whining. It makes me wonder how these people run their lives and then it gives me a bleak view of most parts of society, including the hard-working middle. Maybe we’ve created this political mess we’re embroiled in. Maybe it’s what we deserve. And yet I won’t fly the white flag just yet. I learned early to think for myself and take control of my own life without waiting for a savior to come. In the end, we are all responsible for our own happiness, our own future, and our own lives. I have never felt helpless, angry, never helpless.

Constant complaining characterizes losers. The habit follows those who lack success and feel powerless to improve things for themselves. By their very act of whining, people are admitting that they lack the competence, character, communication skills, or commitment to improve things.

CNN

It was a great article to read on a cold late winter morning because it reinforces what I know to be true. Most people feel helpless and sadly trap themselves in it. The mob doesn’t realize how strong it is, it only recognizes it during brief, violent periods in history when enough is suddenly enough, only to ooze back into their middling lives as soon as their energy is up. Men of vision are few and none are ever thanked for long, no matter how much good they do.

This current project reminds me of the story of the ratification of the Constitution. It was long, painful. Men of vision had to cajole, compromise, insist, overcommunicate until the thing was passed, a thing now greatly revered. I guess it just depends on where you’re standing. If you wait to be thanked for anything, you’ll be waiting forever. Just do the right thing.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.– Edmund Burke

All glory comes from daring to begin.– Eugene F. Ware

The 13 Cheese List

Two of my favorite food blogs, Serious Eats and The Kitchn, recently posted lists of 13 cheeses they think everyone should know. The comments at both locations are lighting up with outrage at how some cheeses could have possibly been left out. Since I love cheese more than any other food group other than chocolate and would cheerfully become a vegetarian if I had to lost one to gain the other, I compiled my own list. Of course titling something Thirteen Cheeses Everyone Should Know from someone who is not a professional cheesemonger or even all that knowledgable on how cheese is made sounds pompous, but it’s all in fun.

Here are my thirteen:

  1. Parmigiano-Reggiano: The King of Cheese. Accept no substitute. I’ve been sucking this down since I was a child. A crackling salty, dense delight, it is an insult to name anything else “parmesan”. After this cheese, the list is unordered, but this one is naturally, unapologetically at the top. It embodies everything that is good about Italy.
  2. Epoisses de Bourgogne: A washed rind that smells to the heavens but when it’s ripe, the deep orange rind gives way to an avalanche of creamy yellow cheese that is so thick and dense it’s almost like Nutella. And it tastes like heaven, an assertive, complex cheese that will stare down just about anything you have in your wine rack. Vive la France.
  3. Cantal: An Alpine beauty that makes even the best Gruyere seem juvenile. Elegant and rich, I have put it in everything from omeletes to sandwiches to delightfully on its own.
  4. Montgomery’s: The truest, greatest farmhouse cheddar that responds to having its own name. I first had it at Neal’s Yard in London. Like parmigiano, there are many pretenders to the Cheddar throne and only one king. The rest is dross compared to this.
  5. Valdeon: A spicy Spanish blue that will clear our your sinuses if they need. Pairs beautifully with expensive Spanish honey and gorgeous port or sherry. Blues are hard to get to know for some people. Meet the one worth dying for.
  6. Mozzarella di bufala: Cheerful and sunny and it calls to mind hot sun and perfect summer tomatoes and green olive oil and a wine-dark Mediterranean sea. The buffalo milk makes it that much more interesting and when you start on its perfect whiteness, there’s no stopping. It’s what milk would taste like in a perfect world.
  7. Humboldt Fog: Hey, USA. It’s a goat cheese, it has ash, it is far more than the sum of its parts. I wouldn’t do anything to it but eat it at room temperature so the different textures shine in this cheese that is far more complex than it has any right to be.
  8. Boucheron: Fresher and less intense than Humboldt Fog, yet more sophisticated and rich than Cana de Cabra, I love throwing a thick slab on some rustic bread and sticking it under the broiler until it’s lightly browned on top. Chevre chaude indeed.
  9. Pleasant Ridge Reserve: Wow. I had no idea a cheese like this could be so perfect. It’s hard and recognizable but so perfect is its complex flavor, so nutty, so lux, so rich. It’s worth it’s heavy price. And it’s made in Wisconsin.
  10. St. James: Meaty and stinky, St. James is a loud statement that England has arrived. Neal’s Yard ships these bricks to my local cheesemonger and I happily part with hard-earned cash. The texture is as dense as this style of cheese tends to be but not as unctuous as Epoisses. It’s a hardy, English cousin of the French great. I was floored by this.
  11. Roncal: More complex than the far more popular Manchego, it remains hearty friends with membrillo but adds just a little twist of complexity to that scale. Salty and oily and friendly, a big wheel of this is a hit at any party.
  12. Delice de Bourgogne: Aptly, aptly named. Don’t buy Brie. We in the US can’t get the good stuff. Instead, get this buttery perfection or Pierre Robert and don’t look back.
  13. Who should get the last spot? Who? Instead of trying to divide this easily amongst the great cheese nations or the various milks or mixes, I’ll go with the one that was spoken about for weeks after I served it at a Guy Fawkes party last year: Harbourne Blue. It’s a blue goat cheese. Track it down and you’ll be a cheese party goddess for life.

Those are my thirteen and I’m sticking by them.

Weekend Reckoning

In this bizarre warm spell in the first full weekend of the new year, I felt the strange need to spring clean. Instead of doing the new budget. Probably seeing some people in town in t-shirts outdoors in January probably put me over the edge. If we thought last summer was a bad roach season, this coming summer will be unbearable. I decided to houseclean and make some stuff.

I counted eight different kinds of flour, EIGHT. They are:

    All-purpose
    Buckwheat
    Garbanzo Bean
    Almond
    Millet
    Oat
    Chestnut
    White rice

And I even own wheat germ which doesn’t actually count as a flour but it needs to be baked rather than eaten.

The bananas in the freezer were also threatening to stage a revolt. Clearly, something needed to happen. I had made a lentil and hot italian sausage soup earlier in the weekend, it’s hot and satisfying and will feed me all week. But then seeing all the overages, I needed to do something. I made banana bread with the last of the dates and a ton of walnuts, pizza dough, and rice pudding with plums and orange peel in the absence of raisins. The new vegetables will undergo a quick prep later, maybe tomorrow. When I complain of not having any food in the house, I need to come back and read this post, even if I needed onions something desperate since I had actually run out.

Now back to reading… even if it isn’t cold enough to really love my time indoors.

Sunset

The leaves are all gone. They’re saying it may snow this week (they hope it’ll snow this week). And part three is nearly done. I am one scene away. One sad scene away. I hate finishing these.

Happy Christmas From The Killers

Somehow, I missed this one. I love and look forward to their Christmas songs but this one escaped me for some reason. I have no idea when it was released. I just found it in the new (RED) EP. What I want for Christmas is another brash, trippy, elated Killers album. Come on, fellow high desert friends, give me something I want. You guys are amazing, especially because nothing is ever so ponderous. Life is too short.

Thank You, Steve

20111006-200826.jpg

It’s really not the iPads or iPods or even my dearly beloved Mac. It’s that way of doing things because somehow he was sure he was right. Only geniuses can get away with that and this was a genius. I have admired him for the last 27 years. There is too much laziness and small-mindedness in corporate America. This was the one who was different.

Thanks for everything, Steve.

Someone’s Already Said All the Good Stuff

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