Monday, April 30, 2012


I meant to post this last week, but clouds got in my eyes.

What can I say? I cried, too. And so it goes. *

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Get'em While They're Young: Queen

Passing along the good music from a previous era.  I learned to love the music of the 30s and 40s; from crooners to the big bands, and I still love that music today. Friends in NYC introduced their kids to the Moody Blues and Beatles in the mid-70s and the kids have grown to enjoy other bands from that era. Now, this dad is following the same example with this classic.

I can just imagine what is running through the heads of these little ones as they enter the class room. Can't you?

And so it goes.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gearing up for the Season: Long Hours, and Odious Republicans

OK, the last personal post was in the middle of the week, then things got really crazy here.  I made another attempt yesterday, but with so much going on, my thoughts were like a broken strand of pearls - going in every which direction.  No matter how I tried to string them together, it just didn't work.  And so...Frustrated!

Deleted, thank G*d!  I'll try again. Let's see:
  • The 6-day work week is here again.  A welcome sign.
  • Been proof-reading and correcting the new season's menus.  The lunch menus went into effect today.
  • Screening applicants for various positions (mostly for the kitchen) and arranging interviews.
  • Training new wait-staff whose only drawback is their command of the English language. Americans are very impatient, to say the least. More Latinos were hired this year.  I've been advising this for the past 2 years. 
  • Picked up the 2012 parking permit at city hall, so the car can sit on the street all summer without being towed away.
On my day off this week, I found a candy shop in town that carries Dutch, Australian and other European Licorice.  (Not seeing the forest for the trees, it turns out the owner of this store is a regular customer.) I asked in an off-hand way if he carried Licorice.  He smiled, didn't miss a beat and said, "only about 80 different varieties". Who would have guessed it?  Not I.  So, I picked up a pound of various favourites and enjoy the flavour, as well as the memories those flavours bring to mind.

Oh, and the Delaware Republican Convention  has taken over the town this weekend.  These crazy "family values" frauds are embarrassing in public; an extremely LOUD contingent decided to have a liquid lunch with us today before returning for the evening session of - whatever. (That should be interesting.)

I left work with a headache. Well, at least I am home in peace and quiet for the evening. There is grace in the world. And, you know that I am still here, if only just...

And so it goes.

Mama Needs Caturday

With that face, you know she needs some company, right?

More later

Thursday, April 26, 2012

BP Scapegoat Arrested: Real Killers Walk Free

In this piece Greg Palast writes “The Justice Department went big game hunting and bagged a teeny-weeny scapegoat. More like a scape-kid, really.” And indeed this is true. If you don't know the work of Palast, you should. Here's his story from Nation of Change:
Today, Justice arrested former BP engineer Kurt Mix for destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon blow-out.
I once ran a Justice Department racketeering case and damned if I would have 'cuffed some poor schmuck like Mix––especially when there's hot, smoking guns showing greater crimes by BP higher ups.
Last week, I released evidence we uncovered that BP top executives concealed evidence of a prior blow-out. Had they not covered up the 2008 blow-out in then Caspian Sea, then the Deepwater Horizon probably would not have blown out two years later in 2010. [Watch the film and read the stories.]
I urge you to read the affidavit of FBI agent Barbara O'Donnell which the government filed in arresting Mix. His crime is deleting texts from his phone indicating that the blown-out Macondo well was gushing over 15,000 barrels of oil a day, not 5,000 as BP told the public and government. If true, it's a crime, destruction of evidence. But Mix is a minnow. What about the sharks? The texts were obviously sent to someone (named only "SUPERVISOR" by the FBI). If "Supervisor" knew, then undoubtedly so did BP managers higher up. Presumably, even CEO Tony Hayward would have gotten the message on his racing yacht.
Destruction of evidence is not nice, but concealment of evidence and fraud by corporate bigs, is the bigger crime. I hope, I assume, I demand that we find out what Supervisor's supervisors knew and when they knew it––and didn't tell us.
And far, far, far more important: when is the Justice Department going to go after the greater wrongdoing? Let's begin with the cover-up before the spill that the drilling methods used on the Deepwater Horizon had led to a blow-out nearly two years earlier.
Let's face it: to go after the bigger crime means going after the entire industry. The earlier blow-out was concealed by BP as well as its partners Exxon and Chevron and, by the US State Department under Condoleezza Rice. [If you want to get that story, please check out Part II: BP Covered Up Prior Oil Spill at]
The rest is here. At least there is more coverage after 2 years than in the past 12 months.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tabasco to Spread Coastal Message

This is good news, though bound to raise eyebrows and cause controversy. It may come as a shock to all the PR folks trying to sell the "all is well with the Gulf" scenario. From
Soon every package of Tabasco sauce sold around the world will spread the message that Louisiana's coast is in crisis.
Paul McIlhenny, chairman and CEO of the McIlhenny Company of Avery Island, announced Wednesday that one side of Tabasco product boxes will carry the message: "Tabasco is hot on America's WETLAND and fired-up to help save it."
The package message continues, "You can help by contributing to the America's WETLAND Conservation Corps by visiting"
Contributions will be used to help fund restoration projects such as purchasing cypress trees and marsh grasses that will be planted in coastal wetlands areas, Val Marmillion, managing director of the America's WETLAND Foundation, said.
Researchers say Louisiana's wetlands are disappearing at the rate of a football field every hour. That endangers wildlife and fisheries which depend on the wetlands for food and reproduction. It also endangers communities and lives since wetlands help to buffer the effect of hurricanes and other storms.
"We are doing our part in bringing the attention to this serious problem," McIlhenny said in a news release. "To lose what you find in this region would be a catastrophe of international proportions."
Tabasco is sold in 166 countries, McIlhenny Company is headquartered in Avery Island, south of New Iberia.
"This island is emblematic of the natural resources that have been bountiful in Louisiana and are now threatened due to one of the fastest rates of coastal erosion on the planet," said McIlhenny, who is on the board of the America's WETLAND Foundation.
Avery Island sits atop a salt dome, but the surrounding low land is threatened by increasingly stronger storms with higher surges. The McIlhenny Company spent millions raising protection levees around its land and factory.
"Today, as millions of cartons of our Tabasco product leave Avery Island, we will send a message of urgency that the clock is ticking and everyone should be part of the movement to save America's WETLAND," McIlhenny said.
 And so it goes - ever so slowly.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A "Good News" Kind of Day

Days like this are all too rare.  I'll gladly take them when they come.

First up, a follow-up visit to the new doctor to discuss the hernia & results of the blood-work done last month. For the most part, I am in good form. All vitals within normals ranges, except for the LDL cholesterol, which is about 5 points above normal.  Am I going to fret this?  No! Fortunately, the HDL number is high.  I believe the extra walking exercise has been helpful in bringing the numbers down. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

I will attempt to add more fish to my diet, have a hardy breakfast (I'd love it, but it doesn't sit well once I'm at work, so it is relegated to my day off), by ingesting more oatmeal.  Both are expensive at this time. We'll see.

I already cook with extra virgin olive oil, or canola oil, so that's a given. I use peanut oil for wok, or high temperature cooking. Oh, and NO, I will not give up butter for "healthier" margarine.  No-no-no!  Give me butter or give me death! Or, something.

Liver, kidneys, glucose, and the unpronounceables are good, too. While the doctor thinks my BP is above where it ought to be, to my mind 133 over 77 is a damned good reading for a man my age.  I will never again be 110 over 70.  Get over it. Weight is 189 lbs, down 4 lbs. from last month, but keep in mind they weigh patients fully clothed, so depending on the weight of the clothes one is wearing the numbers shift dramatically.

Since I have no real pain from the hernia, his suggestion was to make an appointment with a surgeon, let them view the results of the Ultrasound, and go with their suggestion.   I would prefer to have the surgery before season begins, but I will be in better financial shape in September.  I will make the appointment then make a final decision.

Purchased new black shoes for work to replace the ones that sprung a leak and left me with cold, soggy feet the other day.  No hassles there, the ones I wanted (light-weight, comfort cushion) were on sale, and I had a 20% off coupon from Rockport, so that was a no-brainer.

Picked up some Bombay Sapphire, as well as a bottle of wine. Did a bit of grocery shopping; found beef short ribs on special, snagged 2 packages, and returned home with all my treasures and a sense of relief, thanks to the doctor's reports.

The ribs are simmering in a mango/ginger barbecue sauce; they will be just the thing supper with a sesame/veggie noodle salad, and a glass of wine.

Finally, as I turned on the computer, I couldn't help but notice that my Spathiphyllum (known here as the "peace lily") is about to flower for the first time.  It was the first plant purchased when I moved here; it was in a tiny 4 inch pot. After 3 re-pottings, some TLC, and indirect sunlight, I am about to be blessed with a 2-inch flower. I have had many of these beautiful plants with their shiny, deep green, leaves over the years, some growing very large, but this is the first one that has produced a lily for me. I feel happy and blessed.

Tomorrow begins my 6-day work week that will continue until mid-September. Saturday and Sunday will be longer days as we will offer a Mexican Brunch from 9 am to 12 noon both days. The extra day - as well as the 4 additional weekend hours - will help me save for the surgery, build up the savings for the lean winter months, and put a little aside for a possible holiday in the Fall.

It has been a surprisingly good day, and not one morsel of "The Stoopid" did I experience. Perhaps I reached the limit for the month. No complaints here.  In any event, I smell olives!

And so it goes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Storms & Soggy Socks

The heavy rain began around 1 AM, waking me from a sound sleep as it pounded on the skylights in rhythmic waves.  As the intensity diminished and the patter became more regular and soothing, I went back to sleep.

After a quick, early shopping trip, I decided to take the car to work, rather than walk in the steady downpour.  Glad I did.  As I got out of the car and hit the first puddle, I experienced a most uncomfortable sensation; a wet sock and foot.  There is a crack in the sole of my left shoe that was not visible, but when the foot flexed the water flow was quite evident. (I remember having holes in my shoes in the distant past and I don't like it one bit.)  I worked the first few hours with a cold, wet foot as the rain continued to pour outside and wind gusts reached 40 mph.

Even so, a steady parade of diners kept coming in for margaritas, hot soups, black bean chili, and conversation; we were kept hopping all afternoon. And that's a good thing.

Margaret Cho performed here last night and many brave souls decided on a little more partying before driving back to DC, PA, MD, VA, or NJ. A good time was had by all. The rain was the heaviest of the day when my shift ended, so I enjoyed a festive cocktail before venturing out and heading for home.

As luck would have it, the rain slacked off a bit so I made it home with a minimum of wetness.  Only the jacket and cap needed drying in the bathtub. (I made note that a new pair of black work shoes must be purchased on the next day off.) The heavy rain is back and the winds continue to pound the coast.

I am home, dry, about to have supper as I nurse a few olives, and will be quite happy to take a hot shower, then scoot under the covers in a few hours.

To be honest, the area needs this rain. The farmers are complaining, afraid that their early plantings will die as seedlings. And since I purchase local produce I don't mind a bit of water or even a good soaking.  It's spring, after all.

And so it goes.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

R.I.P. Levon Helm

The handsome, sexy drummer/singer with The Band has left the planet. The consummate musician was a down-to-earth back woods kind of guy with great charm and wit.

Personally, I always marveled at his talent as passionate singer as well as innovative drummer.  How did he manage both? He did and that's enough said.

A beautiful genius, is what he was, and he never gave up. Here is the best Obit I could find.  Enjoy.
The death of Levon Helm from throat cancer on April 19 has silenced one of the great voices in American music.
There was something oracular about that voice, something that sounded as old as time itself. Even when Levon Helm was young, he had a voice that spoke to you with the authority of something graven in stone. But it was a voice that could also tease, and cut up, and sound as full of mischief as a 10-year-old boy on the first day of summer vacation. It was, in other words, the perfect voice for a rock and roll singer, maybe even the voice of rock and roll itself.
I do believe a viewing of "The Last Waltz" is in order. 

And so it goes.


Rehoboth Beach: Seasonal Police Get Sensitivity Training

This is from the front page of one of our local weekly papers. I'm really proud of what our community has done over the past 2 decades and happy to know that today it appears to be news-worthy. Steve (image at left) is a friend as well as the executive director of CAMP Rehoboth.
From the April 18, 2012 edition of the Delaware Coast Press:
REHOBOTH BEACH -- May 16, 1993. Five males -- three juveniles and two adults, Miles Cuffee and Fernando Harris -- approached three gay males after midnight on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk and beat them with champagne bottles and an aluminum baseball bat.
One of the victims suffered brain damage, the other two were hospitalized with lacerations.
The incident spurred then-Police Chief Creig Doyle to put his foot down. He teamed with the recently founded CAMP Rehoboth, a gay and lesbian community center, to start a training program with summer police officers on how to appropriately handle minorities in the city.
Fast forward to last Saturday, when CAMP Rehoboth's executive director, Steve Elkins, conducted his 20th training seminar for the seasonal officers. The sessions have changed over the years, but the message remains the same.
"It's just to talk to them to remind them that the gay and lesbian community is the largest minority community that they will encounter in Rehoboth," Elkins said. "We're not looking for special treatment. It's reminding them of non-discrimination laws in Delaware. It's not illegal for two men or two women to hold hands walking down the boardwalk."
This year, 23 officers took the training, according to Police Chief Keith Banks, which is a crucial component to maintaining peace and safety in the city.
"What makes Rehoboth so great is we have a very diverse community," he said. "We hire seasonal officers from all over the Eastern Shore and Pennsylvania, and they may not come from an area that has as much diversity. We want to make sure they understand how important it is to us."
Donald Hickman, a 21-year-old student at the University of Delaware who hails from Georgetown, will start his second year as a summer officer, and so he's been through the training twice. He said it's helped him be more comfortable handling life in Rehoboth on the force.
"It's useful," Hickman said. "Being from Georgetown, people say things about Rehoboth. Not a whole lot of people have a lot of experience with the Rehoboth community. (The training) just increases our comfort, it informs us to be better prepared for situations we could see."
Every year, Elkins asks participants to raise their hands if they know someone who is gay. At first, Banks said, only a few would raise their hands. Now, it's rare if someone doesn't.
Elkins said he can still tell occasionally if "someone doesn't want to be there," but he said frequently when a participant makes an anti-gay comment, or something along those lines, another participant will step in and defend the gay community.
"When we first started CAMP Rehoboth, there was a lot of police harassment," Elkins said. "The relationship has changed 180 degrees. As we developed CAMP Rehoboth we wanted to make sure that we listened to other people's concerns as well."
A substantial portion of the police's job is educating the public, Banks said, which includes explaining the difference between a hate crime and each citizen's First Amendment rights. The issues are complex and emotional, so an educated police force can go a long way to settling disputes.
While there are occasional flare-ups from these young guys who feel that the uniform and badge are cool and give them license to be a little nasty, for the most part they are all pretty cool. My hat is off for Steve, Chief Doyle, Chief Banks, and the City of Rehoboth for continuing this program. We should all be proud of the results. This helps make Rehoboth Beach the unique town that it is.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good: Intentions, Food, Music, & Books

Everything was a GO before turning in last night. The list was made. Items ready to be checked off.  It would take about half the day. Didn't happen - none of it.  You know, 'good intentions' and all that.

I woke this morning and didn't feel like moving, so I covered up and drifted in and out of sleep.  Finally got up, had a coffee, checked the list and added one more item. Then looked outside. Cooler temperatures and gray sky added to my lethargic condition.

After a shower, I felt even more tired and congested (the pollen has been unforgiving) than when I went to bed last night.

Slug was the word of the day.  It's how I felt and performed.  Haven't left  the apartment for anything.

Put on some music, found frozen chicken that was a good candidate for freezer-burn and did a bit of cooking, making up the recipe as I hunted through cabinets for what was available and sounded like it might work; boneless/skinless chicken thighs, can of cream of chicken soup, sliced pepper jack cheese, diced Genoa salami, black olives, white wine, and breadcrumbs.  Does it sound disgusting?

As it baked, I sprawled on the couch to do some reading.  Or more properly, re-reading another of Heinlein's books and a favourite I've not read in 25 years or more. The smells from the oven say I have a pretty good recipe there. It is cooling and will have a taste as soon as it is at the proper temperature. (That's why I am writing this now. Time!)

Too early for a festive, so I'll busy myself with the arduous task of listening to Eva Cassidy or Sweet Honey, until cocktail hour comes upon me.  Yes.  It is that kind of day.

Update: This simple recipe is a WINNER! Who'da thunk it? Tender, moist, creamy/cheesy, spicy and (above all) inexpensive.  Love it. Fortunately, I made enough for 4 extra servings. Well, if I didn't, the chicken would have gone bad.  A win-win for me.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Unlikely, Surprising Afternoon Encounter

Upon completion of a long list of errands, and battling what seemed like July traffic on the coastal highway - in 85' heat - I decided to stop into the Purple Parrot (AKA the feathered one) for a gin & tonic; an old haunt where many a laugh-filled evening was spent with friends, wine and good food.  (Image at right features 2 guys who are, for whatever reason, no longer in my life - but it was a good time.)

As I sipped the G & T, I learned that my favourite barman (who worked there for 15+ years!) had moved on to another job where he is now general manager. His new place of employment is not far from mine, so I hope to see him in the near future.

Of course, his departure from the PP has left the place in chaos.  He did everything imaginable and without complaint.  Perhaps they took unfair advantage of him, or maybe he was worn out by the 6 & 7, 12-hour days he was enduring. Beach resort life can be like that.

In any event, I met the new barman today, and had a delightful conversation about all things Rehoboth.  His name is Kenneth and he has been a server at the restaurant for 5 years.  Not quite sure that he's suited to be a bartender, he confided, he has misgivings. As for me, his personality and conversational skills make me think his fears are unfounded. He's also good looking with a bright smile and beautiful eyes. Really, a no-brainer.

So, I have made the jump; I had a drink at a previously fave bar, for the first time in over 3 years.  Thanks to Kenneth, I didn't feel out of place, or alone.

Next month, Happy Hour somewhere other than my workplace. Maybe I'll look up my friend at his new workplace and surprise him.  Of course, after Memorial Day Weekend, all bets are off until Labor Day. So, we'll see.

Time for olives and dinner preparations.  Cheers!

And so it goes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Summer Arrives Early

No surprises there.  It's been a very mild winter.

Made a run to the supermarket at 7:30 this morning and the parking lot reminded me of a morning in July. Everyone was shopping for munchies and things to take to the beach.  Who knew?

Back at home I had breakfast, changed into work drag and as I walked to work at 8:45 the temperature had risen at least 10'.  Amazing.

As I approached Rehoboth Avenue it looked like a scene out of Exodus; lines of people - coolers, beach chairs, umbrellas, kids with their beach tools in tow - walking slowly as in formation toward the ocean and the sun.  I dread to think what these folks looked like by mid-day. The sky was clear and the sun intense, so I knew "lobster" would be the color of the evening - and a few days to come.

The doors of the restaurant were flung open and the lunch crowd was huge and jovial.  One server had to leave early, suffering from allergies (the pollen count is 5 times normal today) so I was left with only 4 servers.  They did their best to keep folks happy, but it was a challenge. Over 200 diners were served between 11:30 and 4 PM.

As I finished my shift  a few folks from my previous life arrived, surprised to see me, and insisted that we must do dinner together before the season begins. OK, I'm up for it, but I'll probably never hear from them.

As I left, evening diners were streaming through the doors and the bar was full.  All were in the "summer" state of mind; all were terribly sunburned. It promised to be another busy night, especially for a sunday evening in April.

As I walked home I noticed the temperature was 82' F - more June-like than April - but the humidity remained low and there was not a frown to be seen on any face I encountered.  Always a good thing.

Glad to be home.  Working on a spinach salad for supper as I enjoy a few festive olives.  Great day, all round.

And so it goes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Out Of Sync For Women's Weekend

Working 6 days last week threw my inner clock out of whack.  Having only one day off (Wednesday) was disconcerting, to say the least.  And I've been thinking ahead about what day it is, rather than catching the cue.

I better get over this pretty damned quick; the season is only a few weeks away and 6-day work weeks (only 3 weeks away) will be the norm for the next 4 months, not the exception.

All that said, this is Women's Weekend here (which was to have begun yesterday, but didn't.  Another reason for the out-of-whack sensation.); days of workshops and nights of dances & entertainers - this year including Suzanne Westenhoefer - plus Sunday Brunches at local restaurants to end the festivities on a high note.

Unfortunately, my experience began today on a very, very low note. Miscommunication and obnoxious ill-informed dykes almost sent me over the wall.  Stupidity and arrogance are not endearing qualities and I don't play well with anyone who is either, or both.  Confronted by 2 rude, vulgar, obese dykes who attempted to bully me, I did something I really dislike having to do. Let's just say I didn't spar with them, just over-rode all arguments and accusations. Ultimately, they were defeated and deflated and just STFU until one of the locosguys was on the scene.

I don't want to spoil what promises to be a fantastic, empowering weekend for a few hundred women by passing judgement because of today's silly drama, so I will write about the weekend after the fact; putting things into perspective after the dust settles.

The restaurant is hosting a Happy Hour for attendees today through Sunday, as well as offering discounts on all menu items. Did I mention that the restaurant is also a primary sponsor of the weekend?  Well, now I have. And to my mind, that makes the rude behavior even more heinous.

Wish me luck.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BP Gulf Oil Spill Is Not Over

What else is there to say. The cover-up, news black-out and "all is well" commercials from the BP Public Relations Department continues.  And, so one seems to care. Yesterday at
Two years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there are still clear signs that the environment along the northern Gulf of Mexico, especially in Louisiana, continues to be affected by oil pollution, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Wildlife Federation. "Although the oil has stopped flowing from the wellhead, the gas has stopped spewing out of the wellhead, the Gulf oil spill is not over," said Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the federation.
The federation called on Congress to pass the Restore Act, which would dedicate fines and penalties against BP and other responsible parties toward long-term restoration of the Gulf. It also called for better safeguards in oil and gas leasing practices and permitting.
The federation concluded that six key Gulf features remain at risk from BP oil, although not all are in serious danger yet, Inkley said.
The most visible of them: the bottlenose dolphins of Barataria Bay, declared in poor health last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Prior to the spill, the federation rated the status of those dolphins as "good." Today, they're "fair," because of an "unexplained mortality event" that has resulted in more dolphins being stranded at a higher-than-average rate for 26 consecutive months. Most of the stranded dolphins were dead.
NOAA scientists last month said that it's still too soon to link the deaths to the heavy oiling of the Barataria Bay area, but said the dolphins' health problems might have been exacerbated by the oil exposure.
"They are at the top of the food chain in the Gulf, perhaps even more than we are, because they eat whole fish. They consume everything," said George Crozier, retired director of Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. "That creates a situation where they might be bio-accumulating any toxics in the food chain."
Because they breathe air, the dolphins also are likely to have inhaled toxic fumes and to have swum through oil. 
The rest is HERE.

Good Article on 20th Anniversary

If you are a regular reader here, you know that my place of employment recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. The following appeared in the daily state newspaper, The News Journal, having been picked up from a down-state weekly paper printed the week of the anniversary bash.
REHOBOTH BEACH -- It's been 20 years since Dos Locos opened its doors in Rehoboth Beach, and now it's time for owners Darryl Ciarlante and Joe Zuber to celebrate.

The duo has owned the restaurant since 2000 and has done its share of moving around town since then. However, each move brought more expansion. When they bought Dos Locos, it was at a 50-seat location on First Street. The current location on Rehoboth Avenue seats 186 guests.

Zuber credits the restaurant's success to its employees, some of which who have been working there since Zuber and Ciarlante arrived 12 years ago. "It's a lot of dedication from the staff," he said. "It's a family restaurant."

Zuber said Dos Locos tries to spin a Mexican twist on local food favorites. "We don't just serve regular chicken and steak fajitas," he said. "We try to expand the menu a great deal. We serve scallops, lobster, soft shell crab and fresh fish on the menu."
 Note: What sits in front of the locosguys in the image above is an Electric Blue "42 oz. Big Girl" Margarita, in case you're wondering.  All Margaritas come in 3 sizes; 12, 26 (Grande) & 42 oz. (Big Girl).

Read the rest HERE.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bad & Good Easter Surprises

The day began as anything but promising. The key to the restaurant door  jammed midway and wouldn't release the deadbolt, or allow me to extract the key to attempt entry via another door.  It was stuck, immobile, and though I pushed and pulled the door while trying to turn the key, all I did was damage my hands.

I hated to, but called Linda (our GM) and asked if she had any WD-40 that might loosen the lock. She was not due in until noon. I didn't want to call a locksmith on a Sunday, let along Easter Sunday.  That would have cost more than the damned door.

Fortunately, I didn't wake her and she was on site and armed with WD-40 within 20 minutes. We got the door open. She decided to stay and help me get setup and ready for the morning staff.  That was a joy.  I love working with her. She's a short, (or wee Irish Lass) sweet lesbian with  great blue eyes and a wry sensahumah.  We get on well.  In fact, she's the person who took me to IKEA to purchase my furniture and then put much of it together for me.  Yes, she's that kind of person, and I like to call her, friend.

Anyhoo, things ran smoothly with all staff reporting for work on time and the traditional Easter Ham dinners were ready before they were needed.  All good signs.

A steady stream of families filed through the doors throughout the afternoon There were quite a few reservations for large parties, as well as those who heard about the Easter Menu from friends or their hotel.

At about 1 pm, I received a message from my friend, Sasha, asking if I would like to try a traditional Russian Salad, and of course, I replied that, yes I would love the experience.

The original plan was to come home, broil or bake chicken wings and have them with a salad, anyway.  Well, those plans changed quickly when Sasha arrived with not only a huge container of the Russian Salad, but thick slices of baked ham and some kind of sweet nut bread.  While the salad may sound exotic, it is basically potatoes, eggs, other fresh vegetables, and herbs in a sort of mayonnaise based dressing.  It looks great and smells heavenly.

No matter the country, all our recipes are about the same - with only a few local differences.  But, those differences make for an exciting culinary experience.  At least to my mind, this is true. In any case, there will be feasting tonight.

To top it off, I got to chat with the sister to wish her a Happy Easter and Happy Birthday (tomorrow). Though she sounded OK, there was a kind of fatigue in her voice.  I'll call again when she's not with company.

The Russian salad is chilling, the ham is on the warming tray, and I am about to enjoy a few olives.  Sorry, there is no Russian vodka available for this evening's celebration. Bombay Sapphire may be a sacrilege, (my apologies to the Russian/Slav Gods & Goddesses) but will have to suffice.

Cheers and Happy Easter to all.

And so it goes.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Titanic Anniversary Events On Both Sides of the Atlantic

With so many ties to this tragedy on both sides of the Atlantic, there are many events, some spectacular, others subdued on both continents. The image at right is that of the Belfast's Titanic Quarter, which includes the museum. comprised of 4 bows of the Titanic forming a star shape, housing many artifacts of those who built her, and from the ship herself. The original shipyard, with the massive cranes, and the Harland & Wolff buildings are on site. I plan to visit here in the future.

One hundred years ago, the sinking of the RMS Titanic cruise ship was an unimaginable tragedy. Today, it's fodder for a multitude of tourism opportunities for a new generation keen on reliving the fateful day of April, 14, 1912 when the world's largest, most advanced ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Built between 1909 and 1911 by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the Titanic carried 2,224 people before she sank to the bottom of the ocean. The tragedy remains the world's deadliest peacetime maritime disaster with 1,514 casualties.
In honor of the 100-year anniversary of the doomed liner, several locations on both sides of the Atlantic will stage major events, open new galleries, and provide tours to please those struck with Titanic fever.
It's mindboggling how many places in the world claim to have the most extensive collection of Titanic artifacts. In fact, it's a wonder there are enough artifacts in existence for the plethora of museums capitalizing on the hype this year.
"The largest Titanic experience in the world" opened on Saturday in Belfast's Titanic Quarter on the original site of the Harland and Wolff shipyard, birthplace of the RMS Titanic. The $155 million Titanic Belfast is one of a number of signature projects designed to drum up tourism interest in Northern Ireland, an area better known for decades of regional violence. Shaped like the vessel's hull, the six-floors house nine galleries that tell the story of the doomed steamship and of Belfast in the early 1900s. It boasts an interactive ride and never before seen film footage of the wreck in its final resting place at the bottom of the Atlantic. The museum hopes to draw 125,000 visitors a year from outside the British Isles.
Around the corner at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, the TITANICa exhibit displays 500 original artifacts including objects recovered from the seabed. Meanwhile local pubs have capitalized on the 100th anniversary with Titanic beer, Titanic whiskey, and Titanic potato chips.
Titanic fever comes to a head in Belfast with what's being billed as the world's largest lighting show and an MTV concert with a coterie of global stars on April 13.
For more and what may be happening near you this week, plus many more pictures, go HERE.

And so it goes.

Caturday Art

It speaks to me?!?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter, Passover & Spring Break.

Oh, and BUNNIES!!! Mustn't forget them.

In case you haven't noticed, it's Easter Week and Passover begins at sundown tonight. (Sadly, I was not invited to a Seder again this year. I always enjoyed participating in them.) It is also spring break for a few neighboring states; with spring break occurring next week in others.

What this all boils down to is a busy restaurant; families with kids and grand-kids in tow and, thanks to the truly Spring-like weather, an overall happy bunch. By Spring-like I mean daily temps in the upper 50s and overnight in the 40s.  I didn't think we would get to enjoy a real Spring with the unseasonably high temperatures this winter and I am glad it's here.

The restaurant has been very busy all week for lunch and dinner, with today being no exception. The Locosguys created a special "Good Friday" menu for tonight as well as a special traditional Easter Dinner menu for Sunday. The regular menu will also be available all day.

We open at noon on Sunday and serve until 8 PM.  I am planning to don my festive Butterfly shirt created by Dr. Spo if the weather cooperates. The colors of which, alone, could wake the dead. No pun intended. Hopefully, I will be able to duck out at about 3 PM to get some peace and quiet at home that evening.

I am about to enjoy a boring supper of leftovers, but with a fresh artichoke salad as a bonus.  Of course, olives are first on the gay agenda.

Happy Passover & Happy Easter to everyone celebrating the holidays.

And so it goes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

7 Life Lessons You Can Learn From 'Star Trek'

Stumbled upon this and found that, with my knowledge of the original series, this made perfect sense. To my mind all the advanced technology and slick production values of the later versions struggled to capture the essence of Roddenberry's initial vision. Here are the 7 Life Lessons:
1.      The best way to travel is to boldly go where no one has gone before. This is true for vacations, for self-exploration, for life itself. If you want your days filled with adventure, laughter, love, learning and the occasional mind-meld, follow this route.
2.      The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few—or the one. Sometimes you must make great sacrifices for the greater good. And, like the Genesis device, it will all come back around.
3.      Expressing your emotions is a healthy thing. Sure, McCoy seemed angry all the time when exclaiming, “Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor not a mechanic/bricklayer/soothsayer,” but he knew that by expressing his anger and frustration it wouldn’t get the best of him and he could then perform at his peak capacity.
4.      When estimating how long a job will take, overestimate—and when you do better your captain will always be impressed. Replace the word “captain” with “teacher” or “mom/dad” and you’ll see what I mean. Sure, Mr. Scott might have been telling the truth—maybe it would take six hours to get the warp engines back online in the heat of the battle. Or maybe he was padding things so he looked good. Either way, when the engines did come back on line, everyone was happy.
 5.     Wearing red makes you a target. This is true of cars, dresses and, most especially, shirts. Red gets you noticed—which is good if you want to be noticed, bad if you don’t want to end up vaporized.
6.      When you don’t know what to say, pause. It will give you the time to figure it out. Or at the very least, you’ll sound like you’re being thoughtful. “But….Spock…..why?”
7.      The most powerful force in the universe is friendship. It’s more powerful than phasers, photon torpedos, even more powerful than the force itself. With friends, you can accomplish any task, escape any perilous situation, defeat any enemy—and you get to laugh together when it’s all over.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ex-Officers Sentenced in Katrina Bridge Killings/Cover-up

It took 6+ years to get there, but these guys were sentenced for both the killings and the disgusting cover-up after the fact. I suppose slow justice is better than the swift injustice these guys almost got away with in 2005.  From the Washington Post:
NEW ORLEANS — Five former New Orleans police officers were sentenced Wednesday to prison terms ranging from six to 65 years for their roles in deadly shootings of unarmed residents on a bridge after Hurricane Katrina.
Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Anthony Villavaso and Robert Faulcon were convicted of firearms charges in the shootings. Retired Sgt. Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, who was assigned to investigate the shootings, was convicted of helping orchestrate the cover-up.
Faulcon received the stiffest sentence of 65 years. Bowen and Gisevius each got 40 years while Villavaso was sentenced to 38 years. Kaufman received the lightest sentence at six years.
A federal jury convicted the officers in August 2011 of civil rights violations in the shootings on the Danziger Bridge and the cover-up.
Police shot six people, killing two, less than a week after the storm’s landfall on Aug. 29, 2005. To make the shootings appear justified, officers conspired to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports.
The case became the centerpiece of the Justice Department’s push to clean up the troubled New Orleans Police Department.
There is more HERE.

And so it goes.

Finally! Three Years Later...

I sent the final check to the hospital this morning. Above is the header of the original letter from the CHAP program containing my member number, and the invoice for the first payment. (click to embiggen.) Note the date. I make too much money to qualify today, plus I am covered by Medicare now, which is better than nothing, I suppose.

It feels good to know that I am totally free of the debt. A sense of relief after 3 long years. A little breathing space is a welcome thing.  The only other biggie is the dental bill, which will be paid off with the June payment.  What on earth am I going to do with the extra money? Maybe I'll just pile it up on the kitchen table and stare at it for a while....

More later.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

TITANICa: The People’s Story

Like many others, I have been enthralled, obsessed with the Titanic from as far back as I can remember (my grandfather saved a copy of the New Orleans daily paper from the time of the tragedy) and have many documentaries on disc and tape to prove it. Of course, the thrill of the ship's final resting place being discovered by Dr. Bob Ballard (be still my heart!) and the subsequent data of the past decade have garnered even more attention.

Not interested in the romanticized movies about the ship, aside from the British "A Night To Remember". To my mind still the most accurate and best - hands down.The Titanic Museum just opened in Belfast and I hope to pay a visit.  First Alaska, then Belfast!

“Titanic’s story is about the people,” says my taxi driver.

It’s quite a firm reaction to my off-the-cuff remark that I was at TITANICa: The People’s Story, and to prove his point, I’m instructed to open the glove box and take out the book he’s reading.
I pull out Titanic Survivor; the autobiography of Violet Jessop, stewardess and Titanic survivor. “The greatest film about Titanic never made”, says driver Paul, shaking his head.
It’s a perfect example of how the stories of the people behind the ship are as enduring and timely as ever. With the centenary this year, and the opening of the spectacular bells-whistles-touchscreens-and-replicas Titanic Belfast, it’s easy to focus on the ship; the scale, the construction, the materials.
What TITANICa does is look at the men behind the machines; their accomplishments, their lifestyles, their stories.
These are told in the manner they so perfected in the Ulster American Folk Park; with live actors in costume. Coal miners talk shop with Thomas Andrews in the coal yard, riveters tell us how they’ll eventually go deaf from the pounding volume of their work; carpenters repair luggage destined for emigrant voyage in their workshop.
It’s a thrilling way to experience the era itself; sitting by a turf fire in a teeny 1884 house lifted from East Belfast; seeing a Victorian press print a Titanic launch ticket; even watching silent movies in the Picture House.
It was the riveter’s stories of the daily realities of the shipyard that stayed with me. How they were paid per rivet. How the foreman would mark the worker’s cards with the time they left and returned from the toilet. How the first fatal accident on the Titanic build was a 15 year-old climber boy.
My guide in the TITANICa: The Exhibition next door, Ken, shares another theory for the continued fascination with the Titanic story, 100 years on. The combination of the well-known personalities on board (including some of the wealthiest people on the planet) and the advance of communications enabling newspapers to cover stories the next day, gave the event an edge of popular culture which our modern celebrity culture echoes today.
Surrounded by over 500 artefacts from the era, Ken sets the scene. Belfast had the biggest shipyard in the world, and was industry leader for what was then a cutting-edge industry (it was the Apple or Mercedes-Benz of its day). This was all despite the fact that the region had no coal, iron or steel resources.
“What Belfast did have, was skill, ambition and pride in its work,” counters Ken.
The rest of the fascinating story is HERE.

And so it goes.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A 20th Anniversary

Dos Locos celebrated its 20th year yesterday all day - and a good time was had by all. People stopped by from just about all mid-Atlantic states to enjoy food & drink discounts, a commemorative glass, and a chance to win a 55" flat screen TV.

I took the precaution of bringing my lunch because something told me I had better eat before opening because it was going to be a busy day. I was right. Diners and well-wishers came through the doors almost non-stop, with everyone in a festive mood.  It was hectic, but great fun.

Highlight (or low-point, depending on your perspective.) While I was seating a party of 6 in an almost full dining room, the phone rang (as it had all day).  The barman answered the call, couldn't understand the caller, and as I returned to my station, asked me to take the call.  (Mind you, the bar was full, as well.) I took the call and couldn't make out what the person was saying, I asked the person to repeat their request; they hung up. 

All this time I had a line of customers waiting for tables, so I dismissed the call as a cell phone glitch and returned to seating the waiting parties as quickly as possible, asking their forgiveness for the delay.

During a brief lull in activity later, Joe (Loco1) popped up to see how things were going and asked about a phone call from a nasally sounding person asking about a magnet left the night before. I stared at him, not wanting to believe what I was thinking; he broke up laughing so hard, there were tears on his cheeks. My shock turned to anger and I said, "you sonofabitch, I am up to my eyeballs with folks visiting to celebrate your 20th anniversary, and you think it's cute/funny to pull a prank like this? I will march you over to any table complaining about having to wait so you can explain and apologize to them yourself." 

I was pissed off briefly until I realized this was his restaurant, not mine.  These were his customers being inconvenienced. It was all his to lose.  I shook it off and had fun the rest of the afternoon. As I ended my shift he came up and asked if I was angry.  "No", I said, "but about 10 diners were not happy having to wait while I attended to your prank call.  As I said earlier, this is your restaurant and the burden ultimately falls on your shoulders, not mine."  Finished.

If I thought the lunch crowd was big (about 200 customers!) I am told the dinner crowd was more than double that number. I will confess that by the end of my shift I was pretty beat and ready for a cocktail and quiet walk home.  Both helped.

After downing a light supper, took a shower and hit the sheets early. I remember nothing until 5 am this morning.  Slept well and woke rested. Who can ask for more?

Today was another busy day - leftover visitors from the anniversary - and I was chosen to draw the winning ticket for the 55" TV.  No more pranks and not a word about them. That's as it should be.

And so it goes.
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