Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I started "Broadsheet" way back in January of '05 as a New Year's Resolution to take advantage of a relatively recent phenomenon at the time - a weblog. Granted, there were hundreds of thousands of blogs out there at the time, but "Blogger" and other user friendly apps like "Wordpress" ,"Live Journal", and "TypePad", suddenly made blogs accessible to anyone who had an opinion or something to say. Besides, I learned a lot of HTML progamming code in the process.
One of the biggest reasons, other than the obvious redundancy of all those voices in an echo chamber, is the parallel growth of social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, etc..
In 2003 -05, the blogosphere was growing exponentially and I have made some of the best friends of my life, and certainly my best friends in Baltimore - through this blog and the unbelievably strange intersection of cultures, lifestyles, age groups, and interests that have resulted. It has proven to be a true leveling field. People I would have NEVER met, let alone known I shared a common interest or passion with, I have met through Broadsheet.
And people around the WORLD. I've traveled to England and China and met people solely through this blog. I've been invited to their HOMES. Something I could never have anticipated. I've talked to people from almost every state and over 100 countries - it's been amazing.
BUT - I started this blog when I was bored with another job and could access Blogger from work, and since then, I now have a very demanding position with long hours that keeps me from posting as often as I like or am able. I also find, that what I may find interesting, is posted to dozens of other blog sites days before I ever get to it, and that I'm just posting personal updates, which are of utterly no interest to anyone beyond my family and friends, and I don't need the whole world to read the detritus of my day (like this post). There are also issues of anonymity regarding this blog related to my job which I don't want to compromise from a professional or personal basis.
I've recently found that Facebook and Flickr offer pretty much the same apps that this blog does, it allows me to provide links, pictures, notes and updates to my friends and family, without compromising my identity to people I don't know or taking up space in the blogosphere for people who have the time and energy to post thoughtful critiques and essays. I simply don't anymore.
I won't take Broadsheet down, I still get hits on arcane posts from around the world that are fun, but after the January 1 - I won 't be posting much anymore (not that I have recently).
For the couple of dozen or so regular Broadsheet readers left - give Facebook a try.
If you don't agree with the policies of the all knowing, benevolent father land, then you MUST be crazy. Off to an institution to be starved, isolated and broken in a work camp until you think straight. Nice.
In an investigative report published Monday by a state-owned newspaper, public security officials in the city of Xintai in Shandong Province have been institutionalizing residents who persist in their personal campaigns to expose corruption or the unfair seizure of their property. Some people said they were committed for up to two years, and several of those interviewed said they were forcibly medicated.
At least this news is getting some play in an otherwise tightly controlled state media. Maybe in the age of the internet and instant communication, public outcry can make a difference.
My personal favorite comfort food is a similar dish, and I made it last night. Wild Mushroom Risotto. It's incredibly easy, and nearly impossible to screw up. It's filling, flavorful and delicious, and you can almost always make it with items on hand.
There is no one way to make this, but in general, it goes something like this:
Wild Mushroom Risotto
1 large Spanish or Vidalia Onion - chopped 2 cloves of garlic - minced 2 TB Butter and 1 TB olive oil 8 oz of portobello, cremini, or plain old button mushrooms - sliced. 2 oz of other wild mushrooms: chanterelle, porcini, morel, etc... if you're lucky enough to get them fresh - good for you. Otherwise, take 1 oz. of the dried version and hydrate them in a cup of boiling water for 20 minutes. 1/2 cup of dry sherry - or white wine, but the sherry adds a sweetness and nuttiness, that is intoxicating. 1 cup of Arborio rice 4 cups mushroom broth, or mushroom soaking liquid (chicken stock is fine too) 2 teaspoons fresh thyme 1/2 cup grated Parmesan truffle oil (optional)
Chop the onion and garlic finely, and saute them in the butter and olive oil for at least 3 minutes. Add the fresh and reconstituted (drained) mushrooms - saute until the liquid is evaporated and the mushrooms are browned. Add thyme. Add the rice and saute - stirring constantly to coat the rice with oil for at least 2 minutes. Add the dry sherry and stir until it is absorbed. Add the mushroom soaking liquid (drained through cheesecloth for grit) and stir till absorbed. Add the remaining liquid in 1 cup intervals and stir until creamy. Add Parmesan cheese until creamy. Season to taste.
If you want to get really decadent, you can add some Gorgonzola or creme freche to the final serving. If you're serving it with lamb, I recommend the creme freche. With beef - Gorgonzola.
I could have this every day and be happy. Some people love chicken noodle soup or mac and cheese - I love this.
Note - this takes a good 20-25 minutes of total cooking time, and you MUST stir the rice! It knocks the starch casing off the rice kernel and makes the dish creamy. Try this. You'll never eat mac and cheese again, and always have the stuff on hand to make a quick version of this.
Variations include: using red onion instead of white if you don't have sherry, adding a splash of balsamic vinegar, using tarragon instead of thyme, adding sweet Italian sausage, red peppers, and peas for a complete meal....you decide.
On our first night in San Francisco, it was a classic November evening with driving rains. Flights were delayed and by the time we got to our friend's condo in Pacific Heights - it was 11:00 our time and we were starving and exhausted. Because of the weather, we just ventured two blocks down the street to Florio, an absolute gem of a bistro. It reminded me a little of 'b' here in Bolton Hill, in that, on a Saturday night in that weather, it was packed with people from the neighborhood. This isn't a destination restaurant, simply a wonderful, local bistro serving marvelous food.
Despite the fact that our friend was chummy with the owner and waitstaff - so was everyone else, and without a reservation at prime time, we happily sat at the bar to have dinner. My friends both had one of Florio's signature dishes - a hanger steak with fries, and I tried their special - a braised shoulder of pork with leeks and carrots in farro - it was out of this world. I took some notes on the dish, and assuming I can find farro (an Italian grain, like small barley) at Whole Foods, I'm going to try and make it tomorrow. Either that, or I'll have to write in to Bon Appetit and ask them to get the recipe for me. It was the perfect comfort food on a cold, rainy night when you just want to relax with friends over a good glass of wine...
Mukasey was giving a spirited defense of the Bush administration's legal policies when his speech began to slur and he lost track of his thoughts about 30 minutes into his talk. Seconds later, he became rigid and then began to slump.
If I was asked to give a spirited defense of the Bush Administration's Legal Policies, I would have gone rigid and fainted too, but probably not before I threw up.
Mercedes, the German carmaker and a unit of Daimler A.G., said on Monday that it would spend $220 million to build a new flagship sales and service center under a luxury apartment complex planned on the West Side of Manhattan.
So while US carmakers are pleading their case to Congress for a $25 billion bailout (which, BTW is on TOP of another $25 billion they got last year to incentivize them to create cars that reduce reliance on gas that people would actually BUY), their competitors are trotting out more fancy showrooms and hoping things turn around by 2011.
WTF GM?? Building gas guzzling SUVs for the last decade when everyone knew this was coming.
I know we had to bail out Wall Street. I know we have to give homeowners a break on their mortgages to avoid foreclosure, and I know we have to bail out the US automotive industry for the good of the country whether I like it or not - and I don't. Not one little bit. But damn it - when this is over, I want a break on MY taxes, an economic stimulus check (that I never got), and some kind of recognition or profit from the fact that I pay my bills on time, have no credit card debt, and didn't buy a house I couldn't afford in the first place.
I am not gay, I am not married, I have never been married and at this time in my life, I do not intend to get married. But I wish that for others. I wish it for everyone who wants it.
If you are against gay marriage? Fine - don't have one. I didn't. I won't. I could care less. But I do care about people being happy and people having the same rights as others. Especially when it does no harm to anyone else.
I woke up last Wednesday morning in a country that had elected its first African American President. Something many people thought might never happen. I am full of hope for this country for the first time since I have been eligible to vote.
And yet I also woke up to that reality in California, one of the most progressive states in the country, which, due to a vote carried largely by African American and Latino voters - the very constituents who elected that black President for the first time in American History - Gays and Lesbians cannot legally marry.
That made me immeasurably sad. Keith Olberman said it best...
If someone ever asks me to describe the perfect day, I would have to say that last Tuesday came pretty damn close. At least as close as a day back in February that I went snorkeling off the coast of Aruba with my friends followed by a wonderful sunset dinner at a great restaurant.
Fast forward to November: Same friends, only this time we are in Napa Valley on a gorgeous, crisp, clear, fall day, when the sunshine is intense and yet the light is soft. We spent the day visiting beautiful vineyards, tasting extraordinary wines in some incredibly lush locations. Along the way, we stopped at Dean and Deluca's in Napa for provisions of gourmet cheeses, charcuterie, fresh vegetables, pate, crackers, and other tapas nibbles, and we also stopped at Domaine Carneros for sparking wines.
We headed back to the resort at 4:00 PM and went straight to the spa (which is every bit as luxe as the website describes) for our "Friends Forever" service, a total chick indulgence, which included a massage, body scrub and facial for all of us, followed by a private wine and cheese service in the Wine Cave next to the spa.
And as if that day weren't perfect enough, we returned to the gourmet kitchen in our condo, lit a fire in the fireplace, set out the spread of wine and food we had purchased, and settled in to watch the election returns on the flat screen plasma TV and celebrated the fact that there is now a President elect who is eloquent and can speak in complete sentences without embarrassing himself or our country.
Napa, friends, wine, spa, food and celebration.
Yep - that goes down in my book as one of the most perfect days EVER.
With relatively new, very expensive, energy efficient windows and a brand new roof, I have been reluctant to turn the furnace on until after Thanksgiving.
So far, it's been a balmy 65-70 degrees in the house, but with the cold weather last night and tonight, it's beginning to slip a bit. The house is quite comfortable with a sweater in the house and a down comforter on the bed as low as 60 degrees. Below that and I may have to give in.
I also have a fireplace that can add anywhere from 3 - 10 degrees to the living room depending on the ambient temperature.
It's 64 degrees currently - so far, so good, and Thanksgiving is only 2 weeks away....
I got home from CA around midnight last night and ditched my bags in the front hallway.
Then I went straight to bed.
The alarm went off at 6:00 AM as usual, and I reluctantly got up and got ready for work. It seemed strange that there was very little traffic on the way to work, and even more strange that there were no cars in the parking lot when I got there.
Not suprisingly, no one was in the office at that hour since it was only 6:30 AM.
My alarm clock and the clock in the car were wrong, and with the time change happening more than a week ago - I totally forgot.
WOW - I ate some exquisite food and drank/ bought some even more amazing wines.
1. "Friends Forever" spa treatment in a wine cave (yes - wine cave - carved in to the hillside) at our resort: Massage, body scrub, and cheese and fruit tray with wine for four friends, followed by a soak in the hot spring and sparkling wine.
The last load of laundry is in the dryer, dry cleaning picked up, most of the clothes have been assembled, pet sitters are all lined up, dishes are done, plants are watered, litter boxes cleaned, trash taken out, bills paid....
All I have to do is pack the suitcase and get on a plane.
Ahead is a week in San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Sacramento (for the American Wine Society Annual Conference). Napa is a pre-game for the conference. It'll be interesting to see how many wine professionals attend this year since the conference is in the heart of Northern CA wine country. Displays and vendors should be better than when the conference was held in Baltimore two years ago, although I was very impressed with the number of quality winemakers from Spain, Portugal and South America represented. This year's location may prove to be pretty well represented. We're taking over the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento.
The absolute highlight of the trip? We scored reservations to one of the best restaurants in America, if not the world. Thomas Keller's The French Laundry. For a foodie like me - this is a bucket list / Nirvana event. The French Laundry has won just about every award there is, including THREE Michelin stars. I've never eaten at anything more than a one star, and maybe only one restaurant at that. The French Laundry inspired a gorgeous coffee table book of recipes so intimidating, that only this woman was crazy enough to take it on.
At $240 a person for dinner, (it's a pix frixe tasting menu) it is a major splurge, but you only live once. Besides, I'm doing this trip on free miles, staying at a resort with friends that have free nights, etc.
They post a different tasting menu every day on the website. Tune in Wednesday and see what we're having for dinner.
Every weekend from now until the New Year, I will be spending the significant portion of one day a week sorting the contents of one or more rooms in my house into three bins: Trash, Charity, and Treasure. Every drawer, every shelf, every closet, every cabinet and cupboard.
At the ripe old age of 40 something, I find horrific clutter in my life. Not emotional clutter, but clutter in the fact that I have an untold number of plastic beer cups (from concert events, Mardi Gras, and sporting events), really fugly old ceramic coffee mugs from my first boss's Xmas gift, an Espresso machine I've used maybe twice a year - even less now that there is a Starbuck's on every corner. And let's not even talk about old sheets, towels, pillow cases, shower curtains, etc...
Oh, and the PAPER...so much paper. Letters, magazines, old bills, brochures, long expired coupons, you name it. I could fill a shredder truck.
I'm very good about recycling. Heck, I even dragged back all the recycling from our family weekend trip to Deep Creek, and dragged home all the beer and soda cans from our company picnic last weekend just to make sure they are recycled.
I'm also pretty good with clothes and shoes - making at least an annual cleansing of my closets.
Still - there seems to be so much STUFF. Old Rugs. Crockery. Flower vases. Pots and pans.... I'm afraid to look under the sink in the bathrooms and kitchen.
It has to go. All of it. I am on a mission. Some of it might be worth something. If I think it is - I'll let you know and perhaps you can make me an offer.
For instance - I have at least two perfectly good TVs that you can have. Come February, they'll be useless unless you connect them to cable, but I'll leave that up to you. One is a large, 20" Toshiba, the other is a small, 13" RCA model. Both are cable ready. Make an offer.