Friday, December 21, 2007

Ho Ho moe.

Wait. I just looked at the title above and realized it sounds like homo. NOT what I was intending. Screw it. It stays. I'm referring to the band moe. A great group of jammers from the ol' hometown of Buffalo. I haven't listened to their holiday album, Season's Greetings, this year yet, so I decided to put it in on the way to work. First let me start by explaining that I have an affinity for rocking Christmas tunes. I love it when rock bands either re-interpret old songs, or make their own. And there's a ton out there. If you want a real musical feast, check out the hard to find Lump of Coal Compilation to see what I mean. But I digress. I love the rockin tunes and on my way in to work, I was really a tad touched by the lyrics of "Together at Christmas". Yes, it's a lovely little love song in the spirit of "I'll Be Home for Christmas", but so much better.

The lyrics are a big part of that. Why? Well, moe. is from Buffalo, and I'm heading to Buffalo in a 4-wheel drive! So it all makes sense. Here's a few lyrics

You can feel that storm comin' in from Ontario
It was Christmas Eve and the world was mine in Buffalo
Got off work early to make that pilgrimage back home
Huge snowflakes were floatin' down and the sky was gray and gold
We were together at Christmas (ooohhhh ooohhhh)

All alone in a 4-wheel drive

That's just a little taste. Anyway, the song made me nostalgic for the upcoming drive when I roll through little towns in Pennsylvania and see the houses decorated with lights and big, blow up Winnie the Poohs and Frostys. And then after driving for a while, I'll make the inevitable stop at Sheetz for a bite to eat. Because damn, they make a good sandwich and their selection of chips is top notch. Then at some point when I get far enough north, the snow will likely kick in and make the drive a little more tense. But that's OK. I have cab driver beads on my seat. They help.

The mind just drifted. Back on track--1) Buy Season's Greetings by moe. 2) Have a great Christmas, or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate. 3) Be safe out there, especially on the road. Just because you have a 4-wheel drive does not mean that you're immune to slippery ice and bad roads. 4) Have a Happy New Year!!!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Open the Holiday Feedbag--Part 5

The boss hits just keep coming. . . So a few hours after Part 4, I had to hit the holiday party at my company's Alexandria office. I was tired from the first party, but luckily had not stuffed myself too badly. I didn't know what to expect, so I figured I'd save some room. I left work around 2:15 and hit traffic and blinding sun on 395. The party was held in the conference room and had a bunch of huge tables packed with food.

The booty
--chicken wings
--wraps (tuna, cold cuts)
--chicken satay
--chips, nuts, nibbles
--cheese trays
--veggie trays
--dessert table with cookies, cakes, brownies, pie

There's more that I'm missing, but since I wasn't too hungry I only took a cursory pass at the table. There was a nice selection of beers though, so I had a few pops. After a couple hours of small talk, I made my way out the door for greener pastures. All in all, five holiday feedbags is a new record even for me. I would say that two is my usual number. Nice stuff all the way around. And there's nothing like keeping the holiday spirit alive.

HO HO HO! Merry Christmas.

Open the Holiday Feedbag--Part 4

I'm trying to catch up on the feedbag, so here's another installment.

Friday, December 14 saw my division Hallway Holiday Party. It may or may not have been held at a very large DoD building that is known as the world's largest office building (or at least it was).

Anyway, this event was pot luck. Each subdivision was charged with bringing a dish (salads, sides, dessert, etc.), and the major division took care of the main course. I made a nice tortellini salad with some tomatoes and black olives and dressing. Good stuff. And easy.

The spread
--hams
--chicken wings
--turkey
--roast beef
--shrimp cocktail rings
--more types of salad and sides than you could shake a stick at
--various desserts. I was very pleased that there was carrot and red velvet cake. Two of my favorites.
--surprisingly there was wine and beer too. Most people had one or two beers tops. I didn't see anyone crack the wine.

The experience is what you would expect for a workplace like this: You get your mix of military, civilian, and contractors (most not knowing one another) all sitting around making small talk. And of course the whole event starts with some words from the Brigadier General, which actually was nice because the guy is funny. A highlight was music provided by the US Air Force Brass Quintet. Dag! Those guys can play!

Open the Holiday Feedbag--Part 3

December 8 saw the joy of a company Christmas party. This one was sponsored by the SO's company at the Westin Grand on M St. The event began with some passed appetizers and an open bar. I didn't have any apps, but it looked like the typical finger food (mini quiches, chicken satay, mini crab cakes, etc.). After cocktails, the party went to the dining room for dinner. There was a DJ, soundsystem, and lighting. This particular room in the Westin was pretty solid. It was well appointed and decorated nicely.

Dinner was a buffet and included
--trays of cold cuts and cheese
--cold roasted veggie trays
--beef barley soup
--various salads
--roasted turkey with stuffing
--wasabi glazed salmon
--veal piccata
--mashed potatos
--roasted potatos
--seafood salad

Bar
--Open during dinner (and all night). Choices were beer, wine, and top-shelf mixed drinks.

Dessert
-- buffet of various cakes, pies, and small finger treats. Also coffee service.

Those are the basics. There's a few more items that escape me. All in all, the food was really good. I particularly enjoyed the salmon.

Even better than the food was the prize system. Here's how it went down. Everyone got 1 raffle ticket for showing up. Every employee got 1 ticket for number of years of service. Each table had a sheet of paper with questions about the company and if a table got them right, everyone got more tickets. Our table got 4 more tickets per person. The coup de gras was this little game: Whoever at each table had a birthday closest to the date of the party won an additional 20 tickets! Awwww yeah. October 28 was a winner for this guy! So I got 20 more tickets. The raffles were held each hour and the gifts were pretty solid. The SO and I won 4 prizes! She got an iPod Shuffle and I won a $50 Target gift card and two $25 iTunes cards. Niiiiice.

Overall, a very solid feedbag. I felt like a winner in the Price is Right. But the kind who wins the second Showcase Showdown. Not the crappy first one that usually includes furniture and silverware.

How Many 5-Year Olds Can YOU Take in a Fight??

18

Looking for x ray tech schools?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Open the Holiday Feedbag--Part 2

So as the holidays move along, so does the feedbag. Friday was a small "mixer" at our office that one of the higher ups decided to throw. I think it's nice to get people to mingle a bit, so I was all for it.

The fixins'
--pizza
--Subway subs (turkey and roast beef)
--veggies and dip
--cookies
--ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery
--iced tea and eggnog

I've never had a cake from Cold Stone Creamery before. It was great! I dare say it was a bit better than Carvel even (but not Cookie Puss. Nobody beats the Puss!). Overall it was a nice diversion from the work day.

Get it right!

I enjoy pistachios. They're a nice treat. So I bought a tub of them at Target the other day. It was $3.99 for a small jar. Here's what pisses me off--when the shells are not split properly and it's near impossible to get to the damn nut! Seriously, how can so many duds be in the jar? Now I have to work with a friggin' pair of scissors to get the goods. Target will be getting a letter about this.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Open the Holiday Feedbag--Part 1

So, as Christmas (or whatever denominational celebration you chose to recognize) is upon us, there is one delightful constant that we can all look forward to. Awwwww yeah. I'm talking about Christmas parties. Or holiday parties. I don't care what you call them, just don't call me late! (How 'bout that old chestnut? --"You can call me anything you want, just don't call me late to dinner.") Wow. Anyway, the season has begun. A consistent part of life has definitely been holiday parties of whatever type. I remember Christmas parties in grammar school, where there would be food and cupcakes and sickly sweet Hi-C in a can and we'd bring in gifts for the teacher (who else used to bring their teacher wine? We did.). College took another level of partying because now the various departments provided us with food AND booze! What could be better? And as a dual major with a minor, I had plenty of departments to visit. And there would always be the invites from other departments, so after all was said and done you could end up hitting at least 5 shindigs. The English department was one of my favorites because they always made a traditional wassail bowl. Good stuff. Then of course as I got older there were the work parties. Even when I was in high school, there would always be a little hooch at the butcher market I worked at. We'd have some nog and rum. Or just rum. Something to warm the cockles.

Of course with Christmas parties you'd get the usual bah humbugs who gripe about having to attend. Why wouldn't you want to attend? A good party generally includes eats, an open bar, and some kind of door prize. A great party usually culminates in some managerial or executive type getting completely boffo and making an ass of himself. Perhaps a puke episode. Yep. I've seen those happen. One of my first experiences of the absurdity of the Christmas party was many years ago when I had moved back home to my parent's house in Buffalo to figure out my life. Not being able to find work I signed up with a temp agency. I ended up scoring a data entry assignment at the Federal Reserve. It was brainless work, but the gist is that I remember the day of the Christmas party. Everyone gathered down in the lobby around a giant Christmas tree in the morning and some executive gave a talk about who knows what. Then, and I shit you not, he led us in Christmas carols. The tempo was akin to the birthday scene in "Office Space" where everyone kind of just mumbles the word, while a few people really belted it out. I just laughed and awaited the food. It was a breakfast buffet they were providing and I needed it because I was hungover. A worker from the kitchen rolled in a cart with a giant punch bowl of eggnog and as he removed it from the cart the entire bowl shattered in his hands and gallons of nog splashed all over the floor. Everybody gasped and nobody knew what to do. A manager lady in a sweater with a holiday applique came over to see if he was OK (he was) and proceeded to call the janitors to clean it up. That's where the absurdity really hit hard. Shortly afterwards they brought out the buffet, which was really necessary at this point. And I ate heartily and then returned to my seat with the rest of the monkeys to enter the data for the remaining hours.

Sorry. My mind just went off. Back to the matter at hand. No matter where I've worked there's always been some kind of to do where you get some treats. Yesterday, the property management folks at my office had a little function for the tenants of our building. I didn't even know there was going to be a buffet because they never advertised it, but I was lucky to have not brought my lunch with me. Score! A couple co-workers happened upon the buffet and returned to tell us about it. They said the line was long, so I grabbed my paper and headed down. The line was looping around the lobby, but I waited patiently. Oddly, I was behind some lady with a hairnet, which I found really odd because we don't have restaurants in our building. Oh well.

The spread
--pear and walnut salad with cheese on greens
--green beans almandine
--stuffing
--mashed potatoes
--roast beef with au jus.
--roasted turkey with gravy
--Christmas cookies and petit fours
--fresh fruit

All in all it was a very solid nosh. I filled my plate and made my way back to my desk. One note that struck me: If you've ever worked for the government you know that nobody enjoys a free meal more than federal employees. They'll run down their first born to get to the food. I have now discovered an entity that bests the federal employees--soldiers. Holy shit! Those folks like the chow. The majority of my office building is occupied by the Army, so there are a lot of soldiers. I was impressed by their drive to hit the buffet. Good for them, I say.

So anyway. Tis the season. Stay tuned for the next installment of Holiday Feedbag.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Winter had finally come to the critters of Frogtown Hollow

And so it has. Snowfall in DC. An event of epic proportions. There is the typical hysteria caused by the news stations who use the term "storm" to refer to any snowfall (is this required in their contract? Or is it simple sensationalism of the sort that FOX practices daily?). There is the run on toilet paper and milk at the supermarkets (I blame that correlation on lactose intolerance). And there is the wishful thinking of thousands of government employees hoping and praying that they get out of work early--a wish that extends to the numerous nonprofits and contractors who follow OPM rules.

Admittedly, this snow event (I refuse to use the term storm for a mere dusting) wasn't as bad, or hysterical, as those in the past. A little history first: I moved to Washington 10 years ago, from Buffalo. Yes, that Buffalo. The place with the chicken wings and snow. When I first moved here I worked at a not-for-profit in Old Town. I remember being sent home early the first time it snowed (a total of maybe 2 inches!). Thereafter, I understood that a little dusting here and there was a great way to get home by 2:00 and have a few 40s. Now that's what I call livin'! Anyway, I do enjoy the way that DC looks in the snow. It takes on a completely new appearance and actually simply looks better. So I was happy when the snow finally began to stick last night and the buildings were covered.

Commuting during snow in DC is another story. Even though I have a 4-wheel drive, I prefer not to drive in DC after a snowfall. I have full faith in my driving abilities; it's the other jackasses out there that scare the shit out of me. Driving too slow and cautiously is just as dangerous as driving too fast. Throw in the mix of people from snowless states and the foreigners who have never driven in snow either, and you've got a recipe for disaster. My commute involves walking a mile to the Foggy Bottom Metro and taking the metro to Ballston. So rather than drivers, I have to deal with the shoddy condition of the slick sidewalks. They're usually not salted everywhere, so you have a 50/50 chance of slipping on your ass. Because it was cold this morning, most of the sidewalk was slick, but not horrible. The roads seemed to be completely clear. That fact makes it unbelievable that the only accident I saw this morning was some schmuck who rear ended another guy at Washington Circle. It wasn't slippery, he was just stupid. Oh well.

The other thing that intrigues me is how people dress in the snow. Let's drill that down a bit--I'm amazed at what people wear on their feet. Ladies, I love that want to look fashionable in your fuck-me pumps and stilettos and whatnot, but do you really think it makes sense to wear a platform pump with a 3-inch spiked heel in the snow? Seriously? I mention this specifically because I had to do a double take when I was walking down to the metro platform behind a girl who was wearing just that style. The fashion factor takes a huge downswing because at that point, no matter how good you look, you lose points and end up looking stupid due to impracticality. And to anyone who says, "People can wear what they want!", well yes, yes, people can wear what they want. But when that person slows the flow of traffic because they are tiptoeing so they don't fall, or when they actually do fall, then common sense has just won over fashion sense. So at the very least, put on a pair of boots with the stiletto heel and you won't be scoffed at as much.

And there you have it folks. A little taste of DC winter. To be sure, there will likely be another decent snow in January or February. Those are the good ones where work gets out early and the bar is the only place to be at 2:30. Also, we will likely see a couple of 60-degree days before the end of the month. That's how Baby Jesus likes it.

Merry Christmas is on its way!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Pescado Perfecto

Being an indecisive soul, I really struggle picking a meal on the days when I don't bring my lunch to work. My office is located in Ballston, so there's a plethora of options--some good, some bad. I am a tried and true food court appreciator and will occasionally hit the court at the Ballston Mall. It's not on the same caliber as Pentagon City mall, but there are some decent choices. One place there that I always enjoyed is La Choza, which is now called Fabian's. I hadn't even realized that they switched names and spruced it up because I haven't been to the court in a while, but they did a nice job.

While deliberating over what to get for lunch I opted to hit Fabian's because I had a coupon for a free specialty drink with the purchase of a meal. A lady was handing them out a few months ago and it was set to expire on December 31 of this year! I figured, no sense letting a good coupon go to waste! Upon my arrival at Fabian's I stared at the menu like I usually do and let a few people go ahead of me, like I usually do, because I couldn't make a decision. Looking for something on the lighter side I went with the "Pescado", described on the menu as, "Flounder sauteed with green peppers, onions, and tomatoes." You get a choice of two sides and I got black beans and salad. The lady told me it would be about 5 minutes since it's made to order. No problem. As I was standing there I also decided that I should add some yuca to my order (there goes a perfectly healthy meal). While waiting I asked the lady if they still take my drink coupon and she said "absolutely." She asked me if I had tried them and I said no. So she proceeded to pour me little samples of each one! The choices are pina colada (minus the booze), horchata, tamarindo, and maranon. Daaaaammnnnn! These treats were great! They reminded me a bit of the juegos frescos and agua dulce I've had in Costa Rica. After tasting them I chose the maranon--cashew fruit drink with a light citrus flavor. The lady told me about the fruit it comes from with the poisonous cashew nut. Interesting. She also told me how they changed the menu a little bit and the new stuff that's available.

My food came and I sat down. The plate was jammed full of salad (tomatoes and lettuce with a little sauce), black beans, and a huge portion of flounder. The fish was so tender and flavorful that I was taken back a bit! I've had the food here before, and while tasty, was nowhere near this level. The fish was fresh and tender and brought together nicely with the peppers, onions, and sauce. I also added some salsa verde and red salsa for heat. And my maranon was a great addition to the whole meal. Also, the yuca was some of the freshest I've ever had. Often, yuca is tough and tastes like it's been sitting around for a week. This was crisp on the outside from the fryer and nice and soft in the middle.

So what? So there you go. A nice meal at a nice little food court establishment. The lady at the cash register was awesome because she was friendly and told me interesting stories. So that's what I would call service Salvadorean style.

Their new menu has a Website, which says "coming soon." So check back later if you want to see what's cookin'.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Holidays are Near--Let's Be Careful Out There!

So I went to the local Starbucks near my office. I had the yen for their Christmas Blend, which is actually a decent cuppa joe. I considered getting a scone too, but opted just for the coffee. Instead of turning this into a rant about my love/hate relationship with Starbucks, I'll stick to the subject at hand--be careful! As I was going up to place my order, one of the workers spilled a scalding hot coffee on the leg of the cashier who was taking my order. Yowza. She yelped because, in case you don't know, Starbucks coffee is otherworldly hot. But the main point is the worker who did the spilling. She was carrying a venti coffee by the lip of the cup. A venti coffee, Starbucks largest, is 20 oz. When filled with scalding hot liquid it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that 1) the integrity of the cup is going to deteriorate because of the hot liquid, 2) 20 oz of coffee is heavy when viewed in context of a top-heavy cup, 3) you shouldn't carry a top-heavy, deteriorating cup with no lid by the lip! Common sense. Oh well. I'm sure the cashier will be OK. Maybe I'll bring her some salve later. First I'll drink my coffee, which is finally cool enough to sip. Moral of the story--be careful folks. Here come the holidays.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hollywood Writers Strike. Family Guy

Just a quick note regarding the writers strike in Hollywood. Frankly, I embrace the notion of no new shows for a couple weeks because it gives me time to catch up on the other stuff that is in the backburner. TiVo is full with programming just ready to be watched and if I'm able to catch up, all the better! Plus I can catch up on some newspaper reading. It's not that I like to see people out of work, it's just that TV gets you sometimes. What with it's funny programming, hilarious bloopers, captivating reality shows. Wait. Sorry. Those are all lies. TV is a vapid wasteland that will suck you in and not even have the courtesy to give you a reacharound. But damn, I love it!

Speaking of TV: I was watching the 100th episode of "Family Guy" this past Sunday and a thought came to me. Surprising right? How did the Kool Aid Man always break through walls with breaking himself? Presumably he was made out of glass, right? Well how come he never broke. He used to beat the piss out of those walls. God forbid you tap some wine glasses just right: shattered glass everywhere. But Kool Aid Man? He can break through a wall (full mind you!), and just stand there and scream, "OH YEAH!" I guess that was American construction for you back in the day. A full pitcher of juice can bust through a wall and live to talk about it. Outstanding.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Spoof Sex PSA

A friend sent this and it really hit the spot. Enjoy.

Red Sox rock it

How about those Red Sox??? Yeah. Four game sweep. Feels good, right? The games were solid all in all. And there were only 37 arrests on Sunday night! Good for you Boston: way to stay classy. If you're going to watch baseball, of course you have to watch commercials. I do not want to see any of the commercials that Fox broadcast ad nauseum during the game ever again. I won't even mention them here because that would mean that I'm supporting the cause. And unless I get a cut I ain't supportin' shit! The only thing I will say is that you can get your free taco from Taco Bell because Jacoby Ellsbury stole a base and now everyone in America gets a free taco. So head out there today for your treat.

A False Start

Mea culpa. I'm back after a false start. In April. Yeah, 7 months might seem like a long time to go without doing something here, but in the grand scheme it's not that bad. Especially if you're a master procrastinator like me. Much has probably happened since April, but since that time has gone and went, nobody cares much. I have become another year older in the past few days, so I'm getting closer to becoming a full fledged curmudgeon!

And speaking of getting another year older, I spent my birthday in a way that is quickly becoming a custom--at a concert with a bunch of friends! And nothing makes me happier. This year we went to the 9:30 club for the New Pornographers. What a freakin' show! I caught the New Ps twice earlier this year, and while good, the shows weren't great. Neko Case wasn't with them because she was on her solo tour and Kathryn Calder was sick and unable to do much singing at both shows we saw. Oh well. This time around more than made up for it. They played a lot off the new album ("Challengers") and threw in a lot of older tunes as well. The disaffected hipsters were as stoic as usual, but that didn't stop us from dancing. Because after all, if you can't dance to the New Ps, then you might as well be dead. Seriously. They'll infect you with a groove and some mojo quicker than you can scream, "I love you, Neko!" But I digress. Overall impression -- great show. So there you have it.

Friday, April 6, 2007

And so it begins. . .

Irk. Irksome. Irked. What great words. I get irked a lot. I don't know why. Maybe I pay too much attention to what goes on around me. Maybe it's because too many people don't pay any attention to what's around them. To quote Frank Costanza during Festivus dinner, "I've got a lot of problems with you people!" I'm not yet a full-on curmudgeon like ol' Frank, but I'm getting there. The early 30s seems kind of young to qualify for curmudgeondom, but hey, at least I've got a goal to reach for.

So what's it all about? I guess these blogs are a way for people to express their thoughts. So I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon and vent mine. Maybe this will be therapeutic. Or frustrating. Either way, I'm going to say what I've got to say. Not that all of what I write will be complaints. There's more to my mind than that! I'll write about the sheer enjoyment I get out of life too. Like when I get a great deal by using a coupon. Ohhhh, that's sweet. Or perhaps I'll send out a missive about music. Or the TV programs. We'll see what happens.

And to that end, let me start by stating that I used to hate the term "blog". I certainly don't love it, but I also don't hate it anymore. There's something too cutesy about it's combination from "Web log". And in case you didn't know, a combination of words like that is called a portmanteau. Now that's a word I can get behind. Wrap your tongue around that a few times and feel the thrust. Damn. Mmmmm. For the record, another thing you may notice here is that I love words and the English language. So perhaps I'll give you a taste of that too.

For now, let's just say welcome. And don't forget to ask me about my coupons. . .