Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hot Pot

Last night, I had the pleasure of dining at our all-time favorite restaurant with my friends. Lao Sze Chuan in Chinatown continues to “wow” and surprise us at every visit.

This time, Liane, Miss Healthypants, and I decided to branch out from the usual menu selections and ordered their famous Hot Pot. For those unfamiliar with Hot Pot, it’s sort of the Chinese equivalent of fondue.

A boiling cauldron of broth is brought to the table set atop a heat source. In this case, we selected the two-sided cauldron featuring a mild broth and a fiery, chili-garlic infused broth. In this photo, we’ve already dumped in some veggies.

Then, they bring out your dunking items. Here’s a plate containing shrimp, mussels, squid, fresh fish, assorted vegetables, tofu, fish balls, pork balls, and squid balls. Bean-thread noodles are on the side.

And if that wasn’t enough, out comes a platter of thinly sliced beef and lamb.

A variety of dipping sauces accompanies the Hot Pot.

Each diner plunks an item in a little wire basket and dunks it in the simmering broth to cook it. Here is Miss Healthypants, preparing a fish ball with glee and mirth.

Needless to say, Hot Pot is a delightfully messy endeavor.

It’s a lot of food and we couldn’t finish it all. But what a great way to enjoy a meal – casually simmering tasty things at a leisurely pace.

Good food and great friends. We’re lucky people.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama Reveals Unsuccesful Run for President of Kenya

This is a brilliant piece of satire from the Borowitz Report:

Obama Reveals Unsuccessful Run for President of Kenya
Disqualified by U.S. Birth Certificate

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In a stunning announcement that took even political insiders by surprise, President Barack Obama revealed today that he ran for President of Kenya in 2005 but was disqualified when a birth certificate surfaced showing he was born in the United States.

At a press conference at the White House, Mr. Obama spoke for the first time about his little-known unsuccessful foray into Kenyan politics: “Like every American boy or girl, I grew up with the dream of someday becoming President of Kenya.”

But soon after he entered the race, political opponents began spreading rumors that he was not “a real Kenyan,” the President said, and foiled his bid by disseminating copies of his authentic American birth certificate.

“I guess I didn’t look into the rules closely enough before I ran,” the President admitted. “I got caught up in the excitement of being President of Kenya and I guess I just got carried away.”

Lisimba Ogongo, a Nairobi talk radio host who spearheaded the effort to unearth Mr. Obama’s U.S. birth certificate, confirmed Mr. Obama’s version of events today.

“I felt strongly that the people of Kenya deserved the truth,” Mr. Ogongo said. “We were not about to elect a President of Kenya who was really a secret Hawaiian.”

Elsewhere, Donald Trump found himself under renewed pressure to produce all of his authentic marriage certificates, believed to number in the thousands.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"There's Food in the Kitchen!"

At my workplace, there are several large meeting rooms on our floor that are used by other tenants of the building. There’s almost always breakfast, lunch, or snacks delivered to these meetings and seldom is everything consumed.

So, just about every day, our receptionist will send out the following email to us all:
“There’s food in the kitchen!”

A stampede ensues.

Most of the time, it consists of bagels and fruit remnants. After everything is picked over, this is a typical sight:

However, there will occasionally be the mother load: Huge serving dishes of ravioli, fettuccine Alfredo, salads, tiramisu and the like. Staff members descend upon it like Peanuts characters decorating the little Christmas tree.

I’m trying my best to diet. I faithfully bring a quart of vegetable juice from home to sip on all day. I nosh on a little bit of sushi for lunch. And then there’s that damn email:
“There’s food in the kitchen!”

I’m writing this with a giant cinnamon scone in front of me.

All My Children

I was genuinely sad to hear recently that All My Children will come to an end in September. I don’t watch this daytime drama, but I used to be an avid fan of this program for about thirteen years. Although I haven’t watched it in twenty years, I still feel sad that the stories from Pine Valley will soon be ending.

I began watching AMC quite by accident. It was 1978 and I was a freshman in college working part time at the front desk in my dormitory. At noon each day, the lobby would fill up with residents of the dorm to watch their favorite soap. And this was a men’s dorm, mind you.

So, I got hooked. This was a long time ago – back when Erica Kane had just split up with Nick, Brooke was a young, mean little sylph, and Tad was a snot-nosed teenage brat.
You know. The good-old days.

After college, I worked in a bank and every day at noon, a large group of us would pile in to the TV room to eat our lunches, glued to the TV. I still recall that there wasn’t a dry eye in the place when Jenny died after being blown up on the jet ski. We could have all used grief counseling after that episode, trust me.

Now, the story lines from my favorite soap will come to an end and I feel a pang of sadness. I’m thinking of watching it again to see how it will all end. Erica is probably on her thirteenth marriage by now. I still hope that, somehow, Jenny will come back to life.

After all, stranger things have happened in Pine Valley.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Cab Driver

I’m a nice guy, or at least, I really try to be. I’m always very polite to cab drivers and tip them well. I know they really work hard and it’s difficult to eke out a living driving a cab.

But last week, I was struggling with a case of pneumonia. That’s right. Pneu-freaking-monia. I felt awful, needless to say. I did manage to work from home all last week and finally slithered in to work for about three hours on Friday.

When I was leaving work to go home, it was raining, cold, and windy. Even though I live only six blocks from work, I decided to take a cab. There was a long line of them waiting to turn into the Hyatt Regency next to my workplace. They often wait along the street and, one by one, zip into the Hyatt hoping to pick up a passenger heading to one of the airports at forty bucks a pop. 

Here they are, all aligned and waiting:

I opened the door to the last cab in line and before I could get in, the driver yelled something I couldn’t understand.

“Pardon me?” I said.

“Where are you going!” he snarled.

“To Marina Towers,” I replied.

“Where’s that!” he hissed.

“300 North State Street,”

“Ugh!!” he huffed in disgust.

Mind you, I really don’t have a temper. But I had a temperature, was punchy, and I sort of snapped. After all, I had purposely chosen the last cab in line, knowing that he hadn't been waiting at all for a nice juicy passenger. This cab driver was really nasty and I was standing in the cold rain.

“Oh, f**k you!!” I yelled and slammed the door.

I surprised myself with such a reaction. But I have to admit, I felt better as I walked home.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Morning Scene - Tulips in the Snow

Here's the plaza at my workplace this morning. Very typical of springtime in Chicago. Tulips begin poking up out of the ground and, boom, they get covered by an April snowfall. I've heard it said that Chicago has five seasons: Spring, summer, autumn, four months of winter and then two months of "almost spring."

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Morning Scene - Fog

My house is in the clouds.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Behind the Cheddar Curtain

Yes, I am writing to you from behind the Cheddar Curtain. That's right. I'm in Wisconsin.

I'm up here at a resort northwest of Milwaukee and will be giving a seminar on work related stuff. For those of you who don't know where Milwaukee is, it's southeast of Fond Du Lac.

When I drove up here, there was no big road sign saying "Welcome to Wisconsin" or "Wisconsin: Gateway to Minnesota!" or anything. The only indication was a giant cheese castle on the left side of the interstate. On the right side was a huge Cheese Emporium. (I'm not kidding!)

There is still lots of snow on the ground up here.

I didn't see one single dairy cow anywhere. What do they do with all the cows in the winter time? Do dairy cowboys herd them all south to Illinois for the winter?

I just finished my room service meal which consisted of a Wisconsin cheese burger served on a Sheboygan roll. I'm going to have to investigate this "Sheboygan roll" thing. What makes a roll Sheboygan-esque?

These are things I want to get to the bottom of while in Wisconsin.