Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Obama's Got Big Ears

Fighting for Attention

Poor TOTUSes

His Majesty

The following is a modest suggestion for the Obama 2012 re-election campaign poster and slogan:

If the shoe fits and all.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sausage throwdown

Tonight's food battle:

Bob Evans vs. Johnsonville.

Who makes the best breakfast links ?

First, I had to cook them:

Side by side, with the Johnsonville links on the left and the Bob Evans links on the right.

I rotated the pan, just in case one side of the fire was hotter than the other . . .
The Johnsonville sausages cooked up darker, presumably because they've got some added corn syrup that caramelized on the outside of the casings.

Now, for the blind taste test:

and the winner is . . . Bob Evans. They've got a simpler, more straightforward sausage taste. The Johnsonville links were sweeter and had more going on with the seasonings (rosemary? fennel?), but their flavor lingered too long and I just didn't like them as much. Both were pretty mild, and both were better with the fried eggs I cooked up afterwards.

Steak 'n Shake: foodbook #6

Steak 'n Shake, on Howell Mill at I-75, Atlanta.

Sarah and I like Steak 'n Shake, when we eat there. We stopped at one near Brunswick, Georgia attached to a gas station and reeking of dirty mop water(?). We didn't eat there. We stopped at one near Macon, Georgia. They ignored us for at least 10 minutes in spite of having more employees than customers. Once seated, it was at least another 10 minutes before we decided the food might be no better than the service, which was awful. I'm not expecting much at Steak 'n Shake, but if they pretend you're not there, what can you do? So we went to Five Guys.

But we had a great dinner at the Steak 'n Shake off of I-75 in Ocala, Florida (I had the jalapeño burger), and we had a great Valentine's Day dinner with the kids at the Howell Mill/I-75 restaurant. Great service. Great time.

What to get:
Cheeseburger. Can't go wrong. They've got a few varieties. As a rule, I don't need a salad on my burger (lettuce, tomato) so I usually pull the extraneous stuff and eat it separately. Next time I'll probably get an extra meat patty thrown on (for a total of 3).

Fries are pretty good.
Baked beans come in a little crock. Very sweet. Alright.

No big deal:
Grilled cheese sandwich.

Gotta get a shake. The four of us shared two (chocolate strawberry, reese's peanut butter cup). We could've gotten by with just one. I like the big glasses they come in.

Nothing like a good cheeseburger and a shake. Once you find a good location, mark your map.

Ray's on the River: food book #5

Ray's on the River

Sarah and I celebrated the 8th anniversary of meeting each other on February 15, 2012. Being the day after Valentine's makes getting a table easy. This year, we tried Ray's on the River.

The barbecue shrimp appetizer, served on fried grit cakes with a zesty cream sauce. Excellent. $10.
Their butter, on the dark bread they brought out. Fabulous.

Just fine:
(1) Filet mignon. $29. Sarah really like it. I thought it was fine. For a filet. I prefer the ribeye, but $50 was too much to spend on a steak of unknown (to me) quality. Instead, I went with the
(2) Prime rib. $33. The outer "rind" was awesome. The inner part was alright, but needed salt, pepper, and a horseradish sauce/au jus dunk to make it tasty. For reference, salt and pepper is all I like on my steak, which better be cool and red on the inside.

So so:
(1) Caesar salad. $7. Sarah ordered it. I like it, but could've done without.
(2) Mashed potatoes. Very rich, with dollops of sour cream or goat cheese or something. Good.

They sprinkled "happy anniversary" confetti on our table, which was kinda fun/funny. We liked the service. Great atmosphere, and a beautiful view of the Chattahoochee River (we weren't right beside the windows, but just one row away). They brought out a complimentary brownie with strawberries with "Happy Anniversary" in a beautiful, fudgy script.

We had plenty to eat, and we liked it. The bbq shrimp was the only stand-out. I don't think we'd come back on our own, but we had a very nice evening.

MetroHealth Hospital: foodbook #4

MetroHealth Hospital Cafeteria, Cleveland, Ohio

You'll probably never eat here. But I did, and I liked what I ate:

Roasted turkey with gravey (this is the new way to spell "gravy." The "e" connotes the rich smoothness any good gravey is going to have). You get a thick slice of oddly oval turkey, with a pale yellow gravey, for about $2. Tender, satisfying. For cheap turkey.

Collard greens. I went with a double helping. They were chopped, with little pieces of ham and onion. A little tangy. Perfect.

Wings of the day: Jerked. Pretty good.

For $8.06, I ate like a king. I'd order it all again.

Bob Evans: foodbook #3

I was in Cleveland, Ohio for work this week. It's always fun to try local and unique places. It's also fun to hit the tried-and-true chains that make you feel like you're back home. Or, in my case, back in Ocala, Florida, where we always eat at least once at the Bob Evans restaurant near my grandparents' place. We don't have Bob Evans around here, so I made sure to visit the B.E. close to my hotel.

What to get:
(1) Bob Evans link sausage and eggs over easy.
I'll put this beside the fanciest plates at the nicest restaurants in town. It's that good.
(2) The turkey dinner plate.
It's a family favorite. Enjoy the taste of the holidays, any day you want.

Also good:
The green beans. Very soft, cooked with some kind of meat (ham?).
The biscuits. Kinda heavy, very buttery. What a biscuit should be.
The steamed broccoli was cooked perfectly (bright green, still crunchy, not raw).

The meatloaf is nothing special.
The pancakes with berries would've been better without the berries.

They've got a big menu, fair prices, and my favorite sausage and eggs. Recommended when in Ocala, Cleveland, or anywhere else you can find one.

Fox Brothers BBQ: foodbook #2

Fox Brothers BBQ

1238 Dekalb Avenue Northeast Atlanta, GA 30307-2026
(404) 577-4030

Ate here with friends. Good atmosphere for a bbq place--lots of outdoor seating if the weather is nice. Parking can be tight, but we found a spot. The food was great.

What to get:
(1) The brisket.
Sliced brisket was perfect. Smoked, with a very flavorful "rind."
(2) Baby back ribs, if you like them sweet. And I like them sweet. Smoked, tender, sticky sweet sauce. Just right.
(3) Fox Bros. Burger.
It's chopped brisket instead of ground beef, with pimento cheese, etc. Heavy. Awesome.

Sides: the baked beans were sweet and tasty. The mac and cheese wasn't very good. French fries are good.

Appetizers: the fried pickles tasted like they should. Good, but nothing special. The fried jalapeño slices were zippy. Good, but not necessary. The chili-cheese smothered tots were awesome; I'd order them again.

Prices are fair, menu is interesting (I want to try the chicken fried ribs with white barbecue sauce next time). Highly recommended.

foodbook #1

Problem: what to eat?
Solution: foodbook.

My wallet's too thin and my waist too wide to try every item on every menu just to find out what's good. I rely on good recommendations to find a good meal. And then I need a way to remember whether what I ate was worth ordering again. Enter foodbook. It's my own Urban Spoon or Zagat guide. And it starts with today's lunch:

What to get: the "combo" pizza.
Best value: the hot dog and refillable drink for $1.49.

Costco's food court offers 3 kinds of pizza by the slice ($1.99): cheese, pepperoni, and combo. The cheese pizza is a hit with the kids. It's a thick layer of rich and gooey mozzarella atop a fairly thick crust with a medium chew, rich red sauce in between. The edge crust is just tough enough.

The pepperoni pizza is covered in pepperoni. Makes sense. And tastes good. It's what I ordered today, and I liked it.

My favorite is the combo pizza, which has pepperoni, sausage, green peppers, onions, etc. It's one of my favorite supreme-style pizzas. You can take home a whole pizza for $10. They're huge.

The hot dog is just a big hot dog. They've got sauerkraut behind the counter, onions, relish, ketchup and mustard.

They've got a chicken bake that I tried once, but it was burned and didn't seem like it would've been all that good even if it hadn't been. Never had the churro, or the steak bake.

For dessert, I like the pistachio and the strawberry gelato (if available). The chocolate and nut dipped ice-cream bar is good, but the coating comes off in chunks--just eat it quickly and carefully. The fruit smoothy and frozen yogurt and fruit parfait is a good walking around treat, if the samples don't suffice.

If we're shopping with the kids, we usually go at mealtime, and wrap up the trip with two slices of pizza, a hotdog, and a drink to share. For a big-box food court, Costco is pretty good.

Friday, February 17, 2012

iPad Love

I love my iPad, easily more than any other computer I've ever owned, save my first one (for obvious reasons). It is light; is portable; has a long lasting battery; is convenient with instant on ability (no need to power down and "sleep" is instant); doesn't burn your crotch on the couch; you get all of your apps from one place; and it is dead sexy.

I would love to make it my only computer, but to do so at this time requires sacrifice.

An iPad can do most of what a regular computer can do. It can do all of the important things - email, web, document creation, etc.. Here is what I'm struggling with:

- Storage - 64 gb is not enough for all of my media. If itunes matching is ever extended to movies, this issue may go away. Movies are my single largest chunk of data. My current iPad is only 16gb. I purchased the least expensive model knowing I would want the next one in a year (likely a month now).

- Powerful apps - I work a lot in AutoCAD, and am moving towards REVIT. It will be a long time before an iPad can handle true implementations of these apps. Also, a larger screen is required (practically speaking).

- No portable media drive - this is more for ripping movies but this feature will obviously be less critical as we move to the cloud. I already have the goal/intent of no longer buying media in a physical format, but on occasion it is hard to pass up a deal.

- The screen gets filthy continuously. Oleophobic coating FTW?

And yet I'm almost to the point of overlooking these faults and making my iPad my primary machine. I love using it that much.

Storage limits? I can use an older mac and networked storage to house my media (for the most part).

CAD? I use a work machine for CAD. Other documents I can create on the iPad.

Portable media drive? The world is moving away from it. I'll just move a little quicker.

Dirty screen? I wear a shirt, often.

These are the thoughts I'm having as I consider buying a new mac. We have a five year old mac with a failing GPU, my wife's two yearold macbook that is slowing down, and my six month old macbook pro with too little storage for my media.

Problems, I've got a few.

There is no doubt in my mind that the iPad is the way of the future. I just wish it would get here faster.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

If you liked the first two movies you will like this one. More of the same found camera footage. This story provides some background for the main sisters of the first two movies.

Probably the tightest of the three, in the sense that I felt there was less time wasted watching a quiet scene while anticipating movement paranormal activity.

Best story of the three also. Was pretty close to a normal narrative film which leads to the big problem: some of the camera work, or excuses to have a camera on, was stretched to the extreme.

But that's the price you pay with this contrivance.

Also, I'm not sure how, with the ending of this film, the events of one and two can take place. I know the sisters hint at their past in the second film, but this film ends with what appears to be nowhere to go.

Overall very enjoyable. The film did it's job, which was to make my wife jump. She did.

One other note - there were quite a few scenes we were expecting from the ad campaigns that were not in the film. Not sure if these were editing victims or purely filmed for audience reaction during the trailers and commercials.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Here's a sketch I did of Tintin in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro on my iPad.

I used the DVD cover from the TV show as a model.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

The director of Ironman sends James Bond, Indiana Jones, and Thirteen on a mission against aliens in the old American West.

The premise seems can't miss...

We're first introduced to Daniel Craig in the mysterious "man with no name" role. He's lost his memory, as well as any charisma, but has gained a sweet piece of alien tech.

Harrison Ford plays the local rich man, a retired army colonel that has cattle, land, and a Clint Eastwood growl.

Olivia Wilde is another mysterious stranger (I think a good rule of moviemaking may be to limit the mysterious strangers to a singular mysterious stranger). More on her mysteriousness in a minute.

The action, while minimal for a blockbuster, is great. I think it was a good move to keep it relatively minimal in the film, the idea that aliens could attack at any moment while not making it a non stop battle. This reminded me very much of classic westerns (they even wear cowboy hats and ride horses!).

I also really enjoyed Harrison Ford's take on the grizzled old jerk land baron, even if his character's arc smacks you in the head over and over.

This movie has everything going for it, yet the problems are manifest.
The first is that there are simply too many people. Character after character is introduced in enough detail to try to make us care about them but in the end we don't. This starts tangent after tangent that we just don't need. I honestly don't care if the barkeep learns how to shoot a rifle, even if he is president of the universe.

And when you have to watch multiple scenes of dialog exposition with these characters that you don't care about, it makes a relatively short film seem like a director's cut of Lord of the Rings. It goes on and on, and with each new set piece I was thinking, "let's get on with it, I have to pee!"

I'm back.

Another problem is that Wilde's character is just too hard to accept. She's the hottest girl in town, carries a gun, and is acknowledged by no one early on. Even James Bond tells her to piss off. It's as if everyone in town knows her a little too well, and wants no part of her.

When she joins the main group posse to go on a big alien hunting expedition only one other character even notices, and he shrugs her off.
But as I mentioned earlier she is indeed a stranger, except for the fact that she's not treated as a stranger by the townsfolk. When we're surprised by later revelations it feels . . . cheap.

Finally, the story is nothing terribly new. No chances were taken, other than would summer popcorn audiences want to see a "western." The only surprise feels like a gimmick.

Oh, but the cowboys do make nice with the indians during the movie. So that's a surprise I guess. Historically westerns are cowboys versus indians.
Wait, I think I just got it.

Nevermind. Great film!

Seriously, what works?

Harrison Ford. The action scenes. The western parts of the film. The special effects. All of these make the movie worth watching. To be honest though, while watching it late at night I found myself dozing, and often. Had to rewatch the movie a second night.

It's a shame. Favreau knows how to make a great movie (see Ironman). He also can make a disappointing movie (see Ironman 2 - and this movie).


why I never post on this blog...

Forgot what I was going to say.

Link to this post and I'll give you $10

I will pay $10 to each person who links to this post. Please send a W-9 and $11.95 for shipping and handling. Some restrictions apply.

hey, cool logo

Garry, How'd you make that logo show up in the address bar? Oh, and you owe me royalties.

why I never post on this blog

Garry, Reading your post made me think about why I never post on this blog. It's the same reason I don't talk out loud to myself, often. I don't feel like I have much to say that I'd want to hear if it was someone else saying the same thing to me. And I'm lazy. Those are the two reasons.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Post!

Just a post to keep this blog alive.

Is anybody checking this thing? I mean besides me. Write for yourself and all but this is a little too circular.

I'm thinking more and more (again, constantly) about our FMG web presence. I really really really want to be online but don't seem to have the perseverance for it. The Italian word is puscatore (duckduckgo it).

I heard some great things regarding squarespace on Merlin Mann's Back to Work podcast. I checked it out, and the service (along with Merlin's inspiration) got me excited about blogging and being online again.

So, I'm back. I've decided to make blogging here a priority. Hopefully I keep it up long enough to justify a jump to squarespace.

I'll also be throwing some tweets out there, or at least retweeting everything David Burge tweets.

If you're there, stay tuned.