Monday, December 31, 2012

To Juxtapose With My Previous Post...

I'd love to have something clever and/or snarky about the fiscal cliff, etc., but I'll defer to The Gormogons instead. Their cleverness is better than anything I could ever come up with.


Every year I start a post about the President's vacation in Kailua, and every year I delete it because it seems so pointless.

This year it surfaced again since we happened to be in Washington, and Barry was not. So I finally decided to tell my tale, regardless.

Normally I wouldn't give a fat rat's ass where The Pres takes his vacay, but this hits home for me. I've experienced the clusterfuck first hand.

Back in 2008, our Hawaii vacation coincided with the soon-to-be First Family's.

We had been to Kailua before. It's a very relaxed place with quiet beaches on the windward side of Oahu.

Our vacation was planned eight months in advance with a considerable amount of saving involved. Even if we knew how insane Oahu would be, changing dates was pretty much out of the question.

All traffic in the little town of Kailua came to a crushing standstill thanks to a confluence of issues: the roving bands of groupies hoping to catch a glimpse of Barry, the land-locked nature of certain areas of the town, and what I assume was the security detail for the future Pres. A trip across town that would take five minutes took nearly an hour.

The biggest travesty was the condition of two of the world's most beautiful beaches.

Instead, Kailua and Lanikai beaches looked like the Jersey Shore on the 4th of July, but with even more loutish behavior. There were people who apparently thought it was a nude beach – or just didn't care, there was public urinating, and monumental swath of garbage left behind. Apparently this is repeated every Christmas now.

My point is, if I brought that kind havoc and upheaval upon a sleepy little town, I sure as hell wouldn't do it again.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Washington Weekend

I have about 5,000 things I want to write about, all flying through my brain, but it all brought me to that procrastination point where I just didn't write about anything at all. Oddly, I woke up this morning feeling a) like I'm catching a cold, but also b) more rested than I had been in weeks. Which is weird, but I'll take it (and some cold meds) and move on.

That said, I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas holiday.

We kept it simple this year, and according to the news reports, it sounds like a lot of other people were holding back as well. I figured that would happen. Anyways, we took a quick trip to Washington D.C. last weekend as a small gift to ourselves and to finish our Christmas shopping.

Washington is driving distance from here at The Hundred Acre Wood, and Hubby got a hotel discount for all the traveling he does for work. So other than food, it was a relatively frugal trip.

We decided to stick to Georgetown – no monuments or museums this time. Georgetown has innumerable great restaurants, and you could literally walk from Glover Park, down Wisconsin to M, and pick a new restaurant every night. It would probably take months to get through them all.

We stuck with three: Sushi Ko, The Tombs and Old Europe, so this will probably sound more like a restaurant review than a real post. But hey, just sharing in case anyone has the opportunity to get down to D.C.

Sushi Ko isn't fancy, just a tiny restaurant with simple formica tables and a spartan décor. It opened 36 years ago and has the distinction of being Washington's oldest sushi restaurant. It is also refreshingly inexpensive for a D. C. restaurant.

The sashimi and nigiri were perfect. Very thinly sliced. Many sushi restaurants seem to go for “American sizes” and make the fish too thick, which can often be too chewy to be enjoyable. The Beef Kushi-Yaki (beef on skewers) was lightly marinated (in what, I do not know, but it was delicious) and tender. Just perfect.

The food is consistently high quality, and I have to say it was the best Japanese experience I've had. Which I should explain...

I've been to several excellent Japanese restaurants in the last 20 years. The two others that stand out for me would be Morimoto in Philadelphia and Kome in Allentown. Up until this point, Kome has been at the top of my list.

Morimoto (Iron Chef Morimoto) was outstanding until our last experience a few years ago. Our first visit was shortly after it opened in 2001. It was amazing and unbelievably expensive, but truly an incredible dining experience. I could certainly understand why everyone raved about Morimoto-san's skills.

However, this was his first restaurant after leaving Nobu in New York, and at that time he was physically involved. During our first few visits he could be found making sushi and visiting each table, making sure everything was perfect (it was oddly surreal having someone you watch on TV stop at your table to check on your dining experience, but a seriously nice touch). About five years later we stopped in to celebrate Daughter's birthday and it was not a good experience. The sushi was sloppy and the “Kobe” sirloin was burnt. Thinking it was a one-off, we went back again a year later, but it still wasn't the same as it had been.

It may be that after Mr. Morimoto opened a few more restaurants, he was no longer overseeing things in Philadelphia. However, Google tells me that Zagat's is giving it 28 out of 30 now, so maybe it's time to give it another shot.

I'm told Kome in Allentown has some connection to Morimoto, some say the owner or chef worked there at one point, but I haven't found anything on Google to prove that. However, it has been consistently outstanding for the past four years. It's a beautiful place, very trendy and they make a fab martini. And of course, the food is wonderful. Kome had been Daughter's favorite restaurant until our Sushi Ko experience. Now she's got even more incentive to go to school in D.C.

Our second day in D. C. meant getting Daughter out of bed before noon. But she had incentive – there would be shopping. Although, she didn't realize that while Georgetown did have the standard “mall fare” like Banana Republic and Sephora, it mostly had trendy mom-and-pop shops, antique and second hand stores, high-end stores like Barbour, Hugo Boss and Dean and Deluca, as well as European clothing stores like H & M and Benetton - none of which she had heard of before.

We started at Georgetown University, which was a ghost town. Since it was the weekend before Christmas, everyone was gone. It was actually pretty neat being the only people there. It was also freezing cold, because the storm that blew through the Midwest earlier that week was sending gale force winds through the East, and D. C. wasn't spared. After about an hour of poking around the school, we headed over to the 1789 restaurant, which is just off campus.

The 1789 is one of Georgetown's best restaurants, but our destination was actually it's rathskeller, The Tombs. Years ago, it had been a dark pub with just enough room to circumnavigate the square wooden bar. It's been redecorated in the last ten years, adding a restaurant area and more lighting. I'm not crazy about that. I preferred it cramped and dark. Heh.

Anyway, my understanding is that The Tombs shares the kitchen space with the 1789, and the food was outstanding.

After lunch, we spent several hours walking it off and exploring the pretty row houses and the shops. Headed down to M street, then up Wisconsin Avenue to Glover Park. I found the same old book store that I visited during my last trip to D. C., years ago. It's situated in the basement of a 150 year old brick row home, with stairs so narrow and steep they resemble little more than a cement ladder. Then, once inside, it opens up into a maze of bookshelves. I love places like that.

By this time it was getting late, so we stopped at Old Europe for dinner. Conveniently, it happens to be practically across the street from Sushi Ko, so we really didn't stray much.

Old Europe is a German restaurant with a standard fare of sausages, schnitzels and Sauerbraten. For December, it had a special menu dedicated to it's Wild Game Season. We tried the wild boar sausages for an appetizer, which were done with some kind of wine sauce and spiced apple slices on the side. I've never had that before, but they were so good I'm looking into trying to find some locally. Hubby went with the Sauerbraten, his personal favorite, Daughter was unadventurous with a sirloin, and I had the venison goulash. Venison has always been hit or miss with me, so it was a tough choice. This seemed to be slow cooked like a stew, then served in a kind of pastry shell. Each bite sized piece was fall-apart tender, and spiced just right.

Again, this is another restaurant I'll miss until we visit again in a few years. Thankfully, Old Europe has been in operation for 50 years and seems to be doing phenomenally well, so I expect it will still be there when we finally get back to Washington again.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

White Christmas 2012

It doesn't happen every year, but we got snow on Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fa La La La Blah

Today is December 12th, and I have just now begun to shop.

This is how it goes every year - a mad rush on my part to get it all done before the 25th.

I actually like Christmas. I just despise shopping.

Of course this year has a special set of obstacles. I have a final exam to study for and finish by Friday, and a paper on IT Security baselining for Sunday.

I think the problem is that I'm hopelessly unorganized (note the last minute studying mentioned in point). I start thinking about Christmas shopping in September, then remind myself in October that it's not far away and I should really start getting a few things early. After that, it's suddenly December and I'm running around with my hair on fire.

Also, I don't like crowds. Actually, I don't like crowds at malls. Crowds at the local Celtic festival are fine, because that usually involves Guinness which tends to make for a more relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps if I could have Guinness at the mall, I might not mind shopping.

The rudeness level of the holiday shopping crowd is unreal. The Mongol horde had better manners (and probably better fashion sense). Macy's is elbow-to-asshole making it impossible to move. How can you get anything done?

So I'm shopping online as much as possible, and expedited shipping is my friend. Now that I bought a few things on Amazon today, I almost feel like listening to Christmas music.

While on the 'Zon, I figured I'd update my wish list. Unfortunately, this is where I stick anything that I want to remember later, so taken collectively, it was pretty weird:

  • At least five different books on the history of Japan and/or the Tokugawa Shogunate
  • Certified Ethical Hacker Exam Guide
  • Pliny's Natural History
  • Vintage Guerlain Mitsuoko
  • Spinal Tap's last album
  • Hobbes' Leviathan
  • Likas Papaya soap
  • Herriot's Cat Stories
  • Book on String Theory
  • The Killing (Danish DVD version)

Which might be why I get some rather interesting “Recommended For You” items from Amazon.

So anyway, I'm sure I'll get into the spirit a bit closer to Christmas, once the shopping is done and the school work completed. I'll even bake a few things.

One thing I really have to make this year is “The Hot Pink Mess”:

It's actually called Cherry Walnut Bars, and contains everything I hated as a child: walnuts, shortbread, Maraschino cherry juice and coconut. Naturally, now that I'm an adult, these things are miraculously delicious.

The recipe is from an old copy of the Farm Journal Christmas Book:

I love this book. It is chock full of heinous 1960's technicolor vomit. And it is awesome:

Unfortunately, I probably can't post the recipe since it's copyrighted, but if anyone really wants it, just email me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


It was so foggy the last few days, I'd swear we were living on the moors. Today it didn't burn off till way into the afternoon:

At least now you can see the mountain in the distance. Before, there was nothing but low cloud, and it looked like the forest ended in oblivion.

Went to the doctor (again) for my quarterly sinus issues. I begged for something else to address my allergies. I also begged for them to find an answer to my prolonged fatigue, reoccurring pains, hives, and other assorted weirdness.

I don't want a major disease, just a reasonable explanation for this nonsense. Nobody can tell me definitively if it's menopause - or something else. If it's just old age, hell, I've got a real crappy future ahead of me.

So off I go tomorrow for more blood work.

In the meantime, it's antibiotics and Nasonex for the sinusitis and allergies.

Anyway, they converted over to computers at the doctor's office. An appointment that used to take fifteen minutes takes at least a half hour or more. But now there's print outs! I get a little packet of printed shizz summarizing my visit, along with all the blood work referrals.

It made for good reading when I got home. Hmmmm. Isn't this also gave me a summary of my temperature (low grade fever), heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, height, aaaaaand wait for it.....

…..weight and BMI. Fuck.

When I first got there, they weighed me. I told them I didn't want to know, and faced the other direction.

That's me, the big pink ostrich with it's head in the sand. I figure if I don't acknowledge an actual numeric weight, I can continue to delude myself into believing the dryer is shrinking my jeans.

Yes, I know. I said I was doing low carb and everything was glitter and rainbows. It was. For about a year. I must have lost at least 20 pounds. Then five minutes after posting my “isn't low carb awesome” rant, I hit the wall. Hard.

I swear I gained ten pounds within a week. I wasn't doing anything different, it just happened.

So back to my health summary and discovery of my actual numeric weight. Just....ugh. I haven't weighed that much since I was eight months pregnant with my daughter.

Which came first, the severe fatigue or my fat ass? I just don't know.