Recently in life Category

TiVo Suggestions In Low Definition

TiVo can drive me batty sometimes. Why? Mainly because it records a Low Definition version of a show that is also being aired in High Definition. How silly is that? Why oh why isn't there a simple option that says Always Record the Hi Def Version of any show you are going to record... suggestions, season pass, whatever.

Also, why doesn't it keep track of which shows it has already recorded? Drives me nuts to find shows we've already seen being recorded somewhere. How hard can that be?

Not sure why these simple things out.


My wife, dog, family, and my career all make me really happy. The other thing that makes me happy is great food (and from my waistline, I must be very jolly indeed). Before I decided to skip college I wanted to go to NC State. Why? So I could get my BS CS/EE ... and if for some reason I decided that wasn't for me, I could switch to their excellent culinary program. Fortunately I had a talent and enjoyed computers and computer networking enough that I was able to find success in my childhood dream of making computers talk to each other. Though, being a chef still intrigues me.

With that said, I'm still a very amateur cook; but I really like food. Especially great food. One Block West is by far my favorite example of great food, and we're lucky to live close by; though frankly when we eventually move back to Fairfax County... we'll still come back if Ed's is still open. And if we ever move further away to NYC or elsewhere... we'll still come back every once in a while.

I should cook more myself, and really need to start. I find enjoyment in it and wish I was better at it. I need to take the time to do it every night. Of course that is hard when I work (and commute) all day, and know that I need to get to the couch to get more work done and kept on top of it in the evenings as well. I guess I don't NEED to do that, but I WANT to do that, because like I said early, I love my job, and know that if I'm working my ass off at least I get enjoyment and can hopefully keep things going well for an organization that is understaffed for a company (AOL) that I care about as well.

So, Food seems to be a topic that has popped up a lot for me recently. Food, Inc. is a new documentary that has been getting lots of press, and it is in our NetFlix saved list for when if finally ships on DVD/BluRay. Food, Inc. also sounds a bit like a recent documentary called King Corn that I caught last year. You have to watch it, then do if for no other reason that seeing what is inside of a living breathing cow eating way too much corn.

Eating local has also been a hot topic recently too. 100 Mile Diet looks interesting, though I just found that when I was looking for the Eat Local Challenge ... well, I think that was what I was looking for, I definitely knowing eating local has been a hot topic whether there was a specific movement I'm supposed to be into or not, I can't remember. I will say, I certainly agree with the sentiment, especially since I live in the Shenandoah Valley!

Another interesting Food topic just came up from the Business Insider blog that I read mostly because they come up with a lot of the rumors at AOL. It was a post on a Financial Times article entitled The Scandal of Food Waste, which is an excerpt from the book, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. The author is from the UK and uncovers the amount of food that is thrown away from supermarkets, restaurants, and other food distributors that could be consumed or at least used as feed in a sustainable way. Really made me think about how much food we end up buying that gets thrown away because I have good intentions to cook more, but fail to make it happen.

Lastly what really got me on this topic today of all days was an interview (Relentless Idealism for Tough Times) from the June 2009 Harvard Business Review with Alice Waters about her restaurant Chez Panisse. I'm sure Ed from One Block West (OBW) knows of, hell, might know her... but for me, it was an introduction to someone who the year I was born opened a restaurant that sounds like everything I seek in a place to delight in a meal. Every bit of the interview reminded me of OBW and just made me salivate thinking about eating there tonight. I also cannot wait till the next time I'm in Berkeley to eat at Chez Panisse... hopefully in September. Mmmmm.

Of course the way food has most popped up for me, is that I eat too much of it and I must stop. Well, at least I eat too much meat/fat, and carbs. It is time to find the vegetables that I actually really like, but have seemed to have forgotten how much I enjoy them. I also know how much I like pasta though... so it is hard to remember the celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, greens, beans, okra, squashes, onions, and well... everything else I love.

Fortunately I don't like fast food so much. Chik-fil-A is about the only fast food that I'll eat, and fortunately my wife doesn't eat fowl, so we don't eat there. I will have a couple of bean burritos with rice and lettuce at Taco Bell every once in a while, but that is usually when I've stayed at the office way too late and just need a quick bite on the way home. Since I carpool these days, that doesn't seem to happen except for the rare times we drive separately.

So, as with a lot of blogs, there was no specific point to this entry. But I was able to get a lot of things swirling around in my head down in a post and out of my head.

Now it's time to fix my over consumption of fat and carbs, so I will. Also time for some exercise, so I will. At least I don't like fried foods or fast foods, now if I didn't love a filet mignon cooked in butter and served with melted butter overtop, it'd be even easier. Or fish cooked in butter. Or vegetables cooked in butter. Okay... maybe I see the real problem here... I need to not like butter!

PS: For the record my cholesterol is fine thank you. :)
PPS: I also love pinto beans over corn bread, chopped onions, and hot chow-chow relish with no extra butter!
PPPS: I'll post a real chow chow relish recipe like I like later. Should have known it wasn't universal.

Installed Firefox 3.5 Release today and was immediately annoyed at the extra "New Tab" or "Create Tab" button tab that they added to the tab bar. No config option anywhere to turn it off. If you'd like to manually make it go away, you can do so in the userChrome.css file in your Profile directory. You can Google away for Mozilla Profile information and for userChrome.css files if you like. Basically, find your profile directory, add a directory called "chrome" if one doesn't exist and create or edit the userChrome.css file. Insider of it, make sure you have the following:

.tabs-newtab-button {
  display: none;

Voila, no more extra tab to create new tabs in Firefox 3.5. Hopefully they add a preference for that, or make it available at least through about:config if no were else.

AT&T 3G comes to Winchester, VA

This morning when I woke up and picked up my BlackBerry Bold I noticed something I hadn't seen before from my home here in Winchester, VA... "3G" instead of "EDGE". I was ecstatic... and amazed! At first I imagined that the "3G" just got stuck from my commute from the other side of the Blue Ridge mountains, but turning off the WiFi connection to check out the speed easily proved to me that I really did have a speedy connection.

Of course, the AT&T coverage map isn't updated yet, but it really is here! Yay! Searching the Internet I also found a new blog, GottaBeMobile. A local gentleman, who is the Artistic Director at a local theater in the area, is one of the editors there. Good to see other folks who love technology here in the valley.

The Omnivore's Hundred

A friend turned me on to The Omnivore's Hundred which is a blog post about the 100 foods that every omnivore should try. The instructions were as follows:

Here's a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don't worry if you haven't, mind you; neither have I, though I'll be sure to work on it. Don't worry if you don't recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here's what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you've eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

I also numbered the entries I hadn't tried yet. Those are the numbers to the right in parenthesis on some items. One item I couldn't find on the first page of Google results and the entry on Wikipedia seemed to indicate it was NOT something edible. I also added my own addition to the end which I think should have made the list.

Things and Places to Visit and See

A list of things and places I want to visit and see at some point. This will grow and shrink I'm sure. Mostly just wanted to make some notes. No comments, because it is mostly for me. :)

  • Niagra Falls
  • Glacier Bay, Alaska
  • Dubai
  • Yellowstone
  • Glacier National Park
  • Big Sur
  • Death Valley
  • Lake Mead & Hoover Dam
  • Grand Tetons
  • Denali
  • Carlsbad Caverns
  • Hawaii Volcanos
  • Mammoth Cave
  • Ozarks
  • Sequoias (all over)
  • Crater Lake
  • Mount Ranier
  • Grand Canyon
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Yosemite
  • Cape Canaveral
  • Key West
  • Berlin
  • Moscow
  • New Zealand
  • Bali
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Greece - all of the historical places
  • Rome: Vatican, catacombs, coliseum, the Forum
  • Venice: catacombs
  • Sicily: hometowns
  • Paris: MORE of the Louvre, old churchs, museums
  • Ireland: County Galway
  • London: MORE museums, museums, museums
  • Amsterdam: MORE museums, museums, museums
  • Barcelona
  • Auschwitz
  • Pyramids, Valley of the Kings
  • New York City: the "gothic" place Lisa tells me about
  • Bora Bora
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • African Safari
  • Machu Picchu
  • Swiss Alps
  • Sydney Harbor
  • Japan: Tokyo
  • Prague: Castles!
  • Canadian Rockies
  • The Amazon
  • Beijing
  • Three Rivers Dam
  • Hong Kong

Tony Chechere's Baked Potato Chips

I've invented Baked Potato Chips!!!

Preheat oven to 450
Yukon Gold Potatoes sliced on the mandarin slicer, one click less than 1/8" thickness.
Aluminum Foil on cookie sheet, shiny side up (for easy clean up).
Tablespoon of Olive Oil for Roasting spread around on Aluminum Foil.
Lay out chips one thick butting against one another.
Sprinkle Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning on them.
Bake for 10-12 minutes (watch 'em for your version of done)

Peel them off and watch eat immediately (they cool VERY quickly). On my cookie sheet, I could get about 250 calories (2.5 potatos) worth.

Also tried some just with Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Multi-corn Peppers, Tony Chachere's version was better, but Duke was happy to get a couple of the non-spicy ones.

My Last (or Dream) Meal

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I was recently updating my Yelp! Profile and it would not let me adequately describe the "My Last Meal" entry so I decided to expand it here. This is what I believe I'd like to have for a Last (or Dream) meal as of right now. Of course, tomorrow I might want to have something completely different!

1) Amuse-bouche: Raw Oyster Shooter (w/Cocktail & Horseradish Sauce and Lemon)
2) Starter: Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops
3) Thick Soup: Gazpacho w/Freshly Sliced Cucumbers
4) Thin Soup: Bonito Broth
5) Fish: Toro Tuna Sashimi w/Wasabi & Lemon Wedge
6) Antipasto: Prosciutto, Artichoke Hearts, Olive Salad, and Kalamata Olives
7) Pasta: Angel Hair w/White White and Garlic Sauce
8) Intermezzo: Raspberry Sorbet
9) Fowl: Quail stuffed with pecan & mushroom dressing
10) Mushrooms: Italian Wild Mushrooms
11a) Main: Dry Aged Chateaubriand (French Fillet Mignon) Steak & Lobster
11b) Main: w/Asparagus and Butternut Squash Vegetables & Russian Black Bread
12) Salad: Wild Greens Salad w/Aged Balsamic & Extra Virgin Olive Oil
13a) Dessert: Banana's Foster
13b) Coffee: Cafe Latte
14) Cheese: Stilton Blue Cheese & Water Crackers
15) Fruit: Watermelon, Cantaloupe, and Strawberries
16) After Dinner: Louis VIII Cognac with a Habana Cohiba

Well, tonight the Frederick Country Virginia Board of Supervisors voted 4-3 in favor of changing the Master Development Plan for our community of Sovereign Village. The change comes after we already have more than half the community built out. The plan creates a new community. A community not of the single family detached urban homes that we each bought into, but a community of single family detached urban homes with an extra special chewy middle of "multiplex" and "zero lot line" homes.

But WAIT say the developers (Manning & Ross) we've put those "zero lot line" homes in there so you don't get all of that multiplex goodness right up against your single family detached urban homes, isn't that just awesome of us?!? No it is not awesome of you, the word you are looking for is dishonest... or deceptive at best.

How do the elected officials represent their constituents interests in this matter? They vote to go ahead and allow the developer to make the changes of course! Now some of the ones that voted to make the changes are up for re-election; they have just gotten their opponents lots of campaign contributions. Great job guys! You mis-represented the wishes of the over 100 people who showed up tonight to speak against the change. Wait, aren't you supposed to be our elected representatives not our elected mis-representatives?

This decision has personally cost us financially. As you can see from the public tax records and new home listings the same model house on the same amount of land is selling for $460k in another part of the development; we paid $520k in May of 2005. Of course this is from the housing slump in general, our bad, we accept that. I accept my dumb mistake of buying a house in early 2005. Oh well, at least it shouldn't get any worse... right?

However, with multiplexes moving into the middle of the neighborhood there is no telling how much more this will effect our net worth. Already being down $60k in assets was pretty bad. Who knows how much more this will cost me. Now I have decided it is worth it to me to throw disposable income away now in fighting this tooth and nail.

And throw I will. I will throw thousands to whatever legal fund we need as an HOA, and I will be generous to the tune of thousands of dollars to the viable candidates running against the Board Members who voted YES for Developers, and NO for Homeowners in Frederick Country. Thousands in a county election should be very helpful to shine a light on our currently elected mis-representatives.

If you have a moment and could drop the Board of Supervisors a line I would appreciate it. Let them know what you think of their decision. My specific elected officials are the Chairman At-Large and the Red Bud Run District who both voted for the developer and against their constituents.

Frederick County Board of Supervisors:
Richard C. Shickle - Chairman At-Large (We can vote for him this year)
292 Green Spring Road, Winchester, VA 22603
(540) 667-2264, fax (540) 678-4484, office (540) 545-7312, email

Philip A. Lemieux - Redbud Magisterial District (Our rep, we can vote for him in a couple of years)
106 Dell Court, Winchester, VA 22602
(540) 722-3673, fax (540) 678-8253, office (540) 665-4938, email

Gene E. Fisher - Shawnee Magisterial District
246 Bush Drive, Winchester, VA 22602
(540) 662-5238, fax (540) 662-5238, office (540) 665-4938, email

Bill M. Ewing - Opequon Magisterial District
PO Box 27, Stephens City, VA 22655
(540) 869-5058, fax (540) 868-0072, email

Barbara E. Van Osten - Back Creek Magisterial District (voted against, yay!; not seeking re-election, boo!)
103 Coopers Lane, Winchester, VA 22602
(540) 667-7673, fax (540) 722-0417, email

Gary W. Dove - Gainesboro Magisterial District
821 Apple Pie Ridge Road, Winchester, VA 22603
(540) 662-2734, fax (540) 662-5468, email

Charles S. Dehaven, Jr. - Stonewall Magisterial District
2075 Martinsburg Pike, Winchester, VA 22603
(540) 662-7421, fax (540) 678-8828, email

Yelp! Decent Review Website

Found a good place to write reviews of shops and professional service providers. They've been around since July 2004 and are now folks like me, out in the boonies, are starting to use their site for the Out In The Boonie Shops. Check 'em out!

UPDATE: You should check out my new Manning & Ross review!