Thursday, February 26, 2009

Slack-olutions Update

Ok, "update" is a bit misleading, since I haven't mentioned them before now. My resolutions included:
1. The federally mandated weight loss -- 4 of 15 pounds, so not bad

2. Reading more -- also going well, more on this in another post

3. Learn to cook at least 6 dishes without recipes

4. Meet and successfully woo Katarina Witt (I've been told I don't create "push" goals, so there)

The next-to-last one is the only item even vaguely original. Right now, I have 2 -- all'arrabbiata sauce and pecan pie (with or without chocolate or bourbon). Sure, I can whip up a few dishes that don't require "cooking": a salsa, homemade corn tortillas, or guacamole, but my friends that I consider great cooks (Scott, Wolfgang, or Jamie) can whip up a variety of dishes at the drop of a hat. So, this year I'm learning to cook dishes from scratch and without looking at recipes. And, preferably, they'll be dishes that are versatile enough that I can trick my friends into believing I can cook all kinds of things off the top of my (admittedly gorgeous) noggin.

So, what are the dishes? First, smoky black bean soup (which will be tough to remember since i don't make soup from April-September) then spanish tortilla (note: euro eggs are, at best 2/3rd the size of eggs requested by US cookbooks). I'm still thinking about the next one. Maybe steak au poivre -- it is rather fabulous and I get the added bonus of learning how to do a pepper sauce.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

That Vader, He's a Funny Guy


Daughters are always embarassed by their fathers' lame attempts at humor.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Are You an Asshat or Just an MBA?

A friend sent me an interesting article from Bloomberg's that posits that Wall Street's decline was due to the sense of infallibility brought on by having so many MBA's and Ivy League graduates -- basically being run by "the best and the brightest" isn't such a great thing because they tend to be cocksure asshats (my phrasing, not his). Having met quite a few grads of top MBA programs, I have to say this is very true (though not always). Getting an MBA is the cocaine of higher education -- it's expensive, amplifies your strongest personality quirks, and gives an overinflated sense of self.

Of course, the unmentioned question is, "are these really the best and the brightest?" Since I've also met more than a few people that are in medicine, math, engineering, etc. I have to say, unequivocally, "no".
Mmmm... Snow Crash...

It's been 10 years, but I decided it was time to reread "Snow Crash", Neal Stephenson's first big success. And, I have to say, it has more than held up. This is right up my alley -- fast-paced, filled with Sumerian mythology, psycholinguistics, virtual reality and geopolitics in a hyper-capitalist age. Governments are a thing of the past and people choose which franchises they will become citizens of -- from the Mafia to Mr. Lee's Greater China franchulate.

However, when Stephenson brings up the beginnings of religion or language, he's not just showing off his research a la Thomas Pynchon, he's bringing up issues central to his narrative. So, go out, buy the book, get some paper cuts from reading too much and ponder virality of pre- and post-rational religions.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thursday is Meat Day!

There's nothing like Meat Day to get the locals fired up -- and in Dresden, every Thursday is Meat Day!

Your Office May Have a Drinking Problem If...

In the USA, I'd say that a department with 25 bottles of beer (0.5L each) and 15 bottles of bubbly in the fridge, with 2 more cases of beer waiting for placement, might have a drinking problem. In Düsseldorf we call this, "waiting for Karneval". Fortunately we have a big meeting on Thursday morning to clean out the fridge...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Helllloooooo, Iron Curtain!

A few photos from my weekend in Dresden. For a city that the Allies did there best (well, best at the time) to wipe off the map, Dresden has made a nice little comeback. The old town (est. 1946) is filled with rebuilt baroque architecture, while the new town (est. 1743) has to make do with outdated original baroque architecture.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tu Permanezca Elegante, México!

If there's one group of people I truly despise, it's the Mexican national soccer team. Time and again, these jackholes prove their "mettle" against the USA. Case in point:

Check out Rafa Marquez around the 2:34 point of this video -- nice. Nothing quite says, "I'm a sore loser" like a karate kick. It would be unfair to single him out for a rare, one-time punk move. That's why you should look at:

At the 2:20 mark (Marquez has some issues at the middle of the third minute of YouTube replays), he displays his signature move.

However, acting like a punk bitch isn't limited to the Mexican field players. Their keeper in this match? Oswaldo Sanchez. Best known in the USA for overreacting to a celebration by Eddie Johnson.
How did Mexico's coaches react? As you would expect. With the same class and sportsmanship we would expect. -- to quote Homer Simpson, "Perfect teeth. Nice smell. A class act, all the way."

Still, 3 points, baby!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sweep The Leg, um, Back, Johnny!

Amazingly, this happened directly in front of the linesman, and both he and the head referee decided it wasn't worthy of a foul, much less a red card or a suspension.

English soccer -- clean, classy fun.
I Believe The Term Is 'Schadenfreude'

In what is sure to elicit waves of joy from Red Sox Nation and Rangers Village, SI reported that A-Rod tested positive for steroids in 2003. Of course, this was back when steroids were ok, so don't hold it against the Baseball Jesus. However, unlike other reviled juiced stars like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, A-Rod never testified about steroids. His lack of obvious rage, a gargantuan head or biceps resembling those of the Hulk implied that, while supremely annoying, he was clean. Normally, sportswriters would feel the need to write tortured, "we thought we could trust this wholesome, wife-beating/cheating/egomaniacal slugger, but now we can trust no one in baseball" columns, but in this instance we will instead be treated to sports pages across the country (well, outside New York) with the headline "Cheating Douchebag!"

Photo copyright SI or one of their photographers

Thursday, February 05, 2009

2008 Wrap-Up

It didn't seem like it at the time, but '08 was fairly packed for me. My plan of at least 1 trip per month bloomed into far more, and along the way I had a few laughs.

Best Trip: While the Christmas trip was a blast, I have to say Bibione in May. Good ultimate, great friends and Venice in sunny weather -- it didn't suck. Side benefit -- I was in fine form as team

Worst Trip: Always a tough one, though no actual bad trips this year.

Best Books: "World War Z", "Legacy of Ashes", and "Ballad of The Whiskey Robber"

Worst Books: "Dr. Zhivago", Wuthering Heights" -- I'll be flossing with razor wire before I reread these dogs.

Best Moment in Retrospect That Sucked At The Time: Running at 2am through the streets of Cesky Budejovice to avoid an unearned ass-kicking.

Weirdest Conversation: Hearing a stranger explain why he and his pal had to travel from Amsterdam to Prague to indulge in hookers.

Best Beer: The dark from the Strahov brewery in Prague. Fabulously tasty.

Best Movie: The Dark Knight -- edges out all the Oscar noms from last year that I saw.

Worst Movie: The crappy Demi Moore flick showing on the flight. Ugh.

Best Meal: At the Drogheria Della Rosa in Bologna, a fabulous steak with balsamic reduction. Molto Bene!

Best Dish: The pumpkin-filled pasta the previous night in Bologna.

Best Election: Too bad it was 8 years too late.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Government Waste!!!

So, the Senate Republicans, in a move unmotivated by partisanship, delineated the items that they consider pork in the new Senate stimulus package (because there was clearly no pork in the 5 all-GOP budgets of the Bush years). Here are a few of note:

• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.
We don't want to pay the FBI? Aren't they kind of the ones preventing terrorism here in the USA?

• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.
Clearly rich white men have nothing to do with the problems that lead to alcoholism for Native Americans.

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
If there's no headquarters, there's no target for terrorists, right?

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD's.
Damn STD's. Always loafing, wanting more money from the government.

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.
This is a lot. Unless, of course, there will be nudity. Then it's reasonable.

Happy Birthday King Wally!

Sorry I couldn't deliver this in person. And thanks to Vanessa for unwittingly supplying blog content.

Video link:

Monday, February 02, 2009

So You're Dating A Douchebag

In its ongoing quest to cover the entire obnoxious spectrum of New Yorkers, the New York Times has finally shed some light on the heartbreaking plight of the shallow gold digger. If you're like me, you've been so outraged at the idea of sleazy douchebag bankers in Manhattan getting tax money to bail them out of their own greedy mistakes and haven't been thinking of the human cost. What about all the hot young women relying on these egotistical jackasses for support? How can we expect them to suddenly find time in their busy shopping schedules to emotionally support their men? Like this one that was married on Nov 1st:

“One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35,” Ms. Davis said. “It’s not what I signed up for.”

It's heartbreaking, really. To be fair, they claim that the loss of monetary perks isn't the problem:

“It’s not even about a $200 dinner,” Ms. Petrus said. “It’s that he’s an alpha male, he’s aggressive, he’s a go-getter, he doesn’t take no for an answer, he’s confident, people respect him and that creates the whole mystique of who he is.”

Fair enough. Let me just look ahead and quote Ms. Petrus's soon-to-be-ex on why he's dumping her for a younger, hotter, crazier-in-bed model:

"It's not even about the sex with a 22-year-old model. It's that she's exciting, spontaneous and not constantly nagging me about how much time I spend at work"

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Aussie Open: Live(ish) Blogging 5th Set

1:39 Ok, I took a break from blogging for a few sets to look for a home theater system. In a development that will surprise no one, this one is going to a 5th set. Yowza. In even better news, the Kia ads seem to have run their course, like a bad stomach virus.

1:41 How is it that Nadal looks like a BALCO client while Federer looks like a shortstop from the 50s yet they seem pretty balanced in terms of serve power? And how much do you want to bet Nadal does the alternating-pec-flex thing in the mirror?

1:51 Apparently the annoying ads are a Korean thing. The Seoul travel board just ran a dog of an ad that focused on the "sound of Seoul" yet the only thing you hear is the narrator, a piano, and a bell rung once. Suffice it to say, I haven't rushed to to check on flights to the peninsula.

1:55 The range of facial expressions on these two isn't quite as broad as in the old McEnroe-Connors tangles. Here are their respective emotional ranges during the match, which which Nadal wins, 4-2:
Nadal: Angry, angrily triumphant, disgusted and mildly annoyed
Federer: Constipated and bored

2:05 Oof. Not looking good for the Swiss Mister. 5-2 is only a break down, but that's a tough row to hoe.

2:14 Looks like Sampras can continue to hold the title for most Grand Slams for at least a few more months, but his claim to Best of All Time is looking increasingly shaky.

Aussie Open: Live(ish) Blogging 2nd Set

11:02 One area where this rivalry really pales in comparison to Sampras-Agassi is in the companion dept. Pete had the actresses (inpressive for a guy with low grade voice immodulation), Agassi had his parade of high-profile supporters. Federer & Nadal seem to be going with the stable-long-term-relationship plan. Which is great for them as people, not so good for the announcers and bloggers struggling for something to say.

11:09 I hope this service game is a long one. I'm dreading that damn Kia Solo ad.

11:14 It was worth Federer getting broken to have Toyota instead of Kia. Killing spree has been temporarily postponed.

11:35 And after a two-hour warmup, it'll be a best-of-three-sets final.
Behold: The Meat Torpedo

So, you've had turduchen, steak tartare, a quarter of a sheep's head, even a sandwich of raw, ground pork. What's next for the adventurous, unabashed carnivore? Clearly, it's to wrap a few pounds of sausage (and some cooked bacon) in raw bacon and then smoke it (in a smoker, not in an Amsterdam coffee shop). It ends up looking like a suppository for a T-Rex. Whether or not dinosaurs had meat-based homeotherapy is a hotly-debated topic in paleontology. But I digress.

Apparently, the Bacon Explosion has become quite the hot topic on blogs. Apparently I'm not the only one running out of topics on their self-indulgent ramblings in cyberspace.

Photo copyright & thanks to Sheinhardt Wig Company. Or whatever the parent company of is.
Aussie Open: Live(ish) Blogging 1st Set

9:30 Mmmmm... scrambled eggs with roasted garlic and gouda with a side of bacon is a tasty way to start the day. One needs well-toughened arteries to watch a Fed-Nadal tumble.

9:52 I'm betting Federer's coach probably didn't tell him, "Hey, Roger, why don't you let Rafa break you in the first game of the match?" It's a bold strategy, Cotton.

10:03 And one that might pay off, since Nadal just fought off an assload-1 of break points in his first service game. This surface is weird. It looks like the US Open hardcourts, but it's playing very slowly.

10:04 JFC, these guys can play. They just gave each other escorted tours of the area behind the woodshed on their next service games.

10:16 It's always nice to win a game with your second ass. I'm thinking the German that decided that "the ace" was going to be either "das Ass" or "der Crack" either was a complete smartass or should've learned more colloquial English before becoming a translator.

10:26 "Holding serve" doesn't seem very popular with the kids today.

10:41 I really, really, really despise the Kia Soul. Seeing its goofy ads at EVERY commercial break is quite a beatdown.

10:47 Why is Federer running around his backhand? That's twice he's lost big points by putting himself in horrid position to hit a mediocre forehand.