Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On the road again...

I am not sure where the month has gone but I woke up this morning and found out that not only had half the month come and gone but that tomorrow I leave for one of the biggest trade shows in the pro audio industry. Normally, I like going to trade shows. It gives me the opportunity to see what my competitors are doing and provides me with a chance to get caught up with my many friends and former colleagues.

This year however, the darn thing snuck up on me and I don't feel prepared at all. I'm back on Saturday and frankly, I can't wait.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

MBH's Saturday of Funness

It seems the late winter blahs are catching in our household. I think this malaise is like a winter cold you keep spreading to each other. Even our cat seems to be in the winter doldrums as evidenced by Friday when neither he nor MBH made it out of bed all day. So, seeing how the whole family was in need of a pick-me-up, I planned a "Big Day of Funness" (BDF) for Saturday.

The day started at one of our coffee shops, Darwin's Ltd. on Mt. Auburn Street in Cambridge. This used to be our normal haunt but the last several months had seen a steady decline in service, cleanliness, and quality of music (6:30am is a bit early for the latest angst ridden band to be blasting from the stereo). So, we had decamped to one of the other coffee shops in Harvard Square. Some friends had been encouraging us to come back as they reported the service, cleanliness and music was much improved and, as I had some drycleaning to drop off at our cleaners next door, we decided to give Darwin's another chance. They were right on two out of the three (the staff still doesn't seem to know what a vacuum is or how to wipe down tables) and it was good to catch up with some old friends. I don't think Darwin's will be our everyday coffee shop like it was at one time but I do think we'll come back for a visit now and again.

After leaving Darwins, we headed for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to catch the David Hockney Exhibit. We are members and as such receive four free tickets to the major exhibitions. I also recently found out that MBH is a fan of Hockney's and owns a print that is in storage. This exhibition focuses on Hockney's portraits, especially of his family and close friends. It includes a few famous prints like "Mr. and Mrs. Clark and Percy" and "Peter Getting Out of Nick's Pool". We both liked the works showing his mum and I especially liked his collages. After walking through the Hockney exhibition we spent another hour or so wandering through the museum. Every time we are there, we see something we haven't seen before and we enjoy sitting on various benches throughout the museum talking and laughing together.

Our next stop was the Brattle Book Shop as MBH has been on a search for a small tome of Robert Frost poetry "to carry about on his person"(his words, not mine). It seems that finding small books to keep in one's pocket is quite difficult unless one is looking for platitudes or trite. So, after a several week search, it seemed our last hope was to locate it at one of the many used bookstores in Boston. On our way to the Brattle we stopped into Peter L. Stern and Co. Fine Books. This is a gem of a store where we were allowed to look at and hold many first editions including a letter between Sir Winston Churchill and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle discussing the merits of tank use in WWI. Very nice shop if out of our price range. While, MBH did not find his book of poetry at the Brattle, I did find a book of poetry by A.E. Houseman as well as two guidebooks to Paris and the environs from 1914 and 1917 respectively. We wandered into Barnes and Noble on our way to an early dinner and there, MBH was able to find a smallish book of Robert Frost that met his needs.

MBH enjoys a really nice steak. As such, we have been on a mission to eat at all the steakhouses in Boston. Abe and Louies is our favourite but as we were near Faneuil Hall Marketplace, we decided to try the Kansas City Plaza III. The Plaza III is a very highly rated steakhouse that frankly wasn't that good when compared to the prices. We both had the Kansas City Strip that was smaller than we expected and over-cooked but at least enjoyed the veggies and crusty bread. But, I think we can safely say we won't be returning or really recommending the Kansas City Plaza III. There are better steakhouses in Boston.

All in all, by the time we got home in the evening we both agreed it was very enjoyable day and a nice way to forget about the Winter Blues.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Music to commute by

I have a fairly long commute each day. MBH and I live exactly fifty-two miles one way from my office. Thankfully, it is a reverse commute and I get to smile at all the people sitting at a dead stop on the eastbound side of the Mass Pike trying to get into downtown Boston while I cruise by at a "little" bit above the speed limit on the westbound side. I then get to laugh at them on my way back into downtown at night (most of the time).

This morning, the view of downtown in my rearview mirror was stunning. The sun had just completely risen; causing a brilliant back lit sillouette of the Prudential and John Hancock buildings. With our extremely cold tempratures last night, the lower skyline was shrouded in a rising mist of steam. It was very other worldly. In front of me, the edge of the cresent moon, white and black, contrasted in a crystal clear blue sky. The temprature gauge may have read seventeen degrees but it sure felt like spring to me.

Mobile Friday Random 10

Well, here we are! It is Friday and you know what that means: time to put the ole Ipod on shuffle and let you know exactly how bad of taste in music I have. Today, I decided to do a something a little different. I decided to record my Random 10 in the car during my morning drive. It was a little tricky (yes, MBH, this is why I spilled half my coffee in my lap this morning). I was juggling the Ipod to hit pause, while I used the voice recorder on my cellphone to list the songs. And now, looking back, it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do. But it sure resulted in a really great list of fun songs to which to commute.

I'm saving this one for a new playlist! Links for you to listen along as usual...

1. Send Me on My Way - Rusted Root
2.Running Down a Dream - Tom Petty
3.Love Me Two Times - The Doors
4.Smooth - Santana featuring Rob Thomas
5.Stay - Dave Matthews Band
6.Babylon - David Grey
7.Get Down Tonight - KC and the Sunshine Band
8.Rio - Duran Duran
9. Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones
10. Speed of Sound - Cold Play

Thursday, March 02, 2006

It's the small things that matter

It seems that all week, in the oddest places, I've had ideas for posts; especially when I've had no means of recording the ideas for later refinement.

Take last night for example, while standing in line in the so called "express" lane at the grocery store, I was thinking back to a story MBH and I had listened to on Morning Edition while lying in bed trying to convince each other that we absolutely had to get up. We were playfully calling each other and the cat names and proclaiming the virtues of early to bed, early to rise when a story came on that caused us both to fall silent and listen. It was a follow-up story about a couple, Danny and Annie Perasa, who had recorded for Story Corps their story of meeting, falling in love and their unconditional support for each other. I remembered hearing the first story and how, while driving to work, I had tears streaming down my face while they each told of the simple things they did for each other that meant more than all the grand gestures in the world. It seems that this episode of Story Corps had touched so many strangers that the couple had inspired thousands of people to write to NPR and this follow-up story was intended to be a tribute to how their simple but unshakable love influenced so many people. Unfortunately, this love story does not have a happy ending. Danny Perasa died on Friday, February 24th before he could hear the NPR story. He died telling his wife Annie to the very end how much she meant to him for all the little reasons and the small things she did for him. When the NPR announcer finished I realised that both MBH and I were holding our breaths and I had tears streaming down my temples and into my hair. All the sudden, the only thing that seemed to be important was telling each other how it was the really small things we did for each other that mattered most. This morning, while reading the obituary for Danny in the NYT, I once again found myself with tears in my eyes but a smile on my face thinking of how MBH's gentle teasings of me every morning are every bit as important to me as the other gestures of care he shows every day.

NPR was on a roll yesterday with fantastic stories. A bit later, after we had crawled out from the warm covers, we found ourselves in different parts of the house listening to Bill Littlefield who has a sports show on NPR called "Only a Game" comment on why he skipped watching the closing ceremonies of the Turin Olympics to watch the finale of the most excellent Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Charles Dicken's Bleak House. Now why both MBH and I found this little gem of a commentary so fantastic is that neither of us particularly care for sports. Sure, I watch a little figure skating and the occasional inning of baseball but for the most part we live in a sports free household (unless you count politics). In fact, if the truth be known, we both have the opinion that most sports commentators are knuckleheads. But, we both were stunned by Mr. Littlefield's well thought out and frankly, delightful commentary and found ourselves standing, mouth agape, staring at each other in wonderment as we listened to "Sorry, Turin". As Mr Smallweed was fond of exclaiming, "Shake me up!"

Tonight, as I sat down to write this, I espied a small green piece of paper that had found it's way to hiding beneath the clock radio on my side of our bed. On it I found a recipe I had been meaning to post for a bit. MBH and I have been eating fish a lot lately. A few weeks ago, we had purchased some filets of fresh haddock and were in the mood for homemade fish and chips. I didn't want to deep fry the filets but rather lightly pan fry them. So I just threw together a few ingredients to make a nice crisp coating, choosing some items from the pantry I had been wanting to use up as they were at their end of shelf life.

MBH declared it quite a success and frankly, so did I.

Quick and Easy Pan Fried Fish and Chips

1lb Haddock or Cod fillets (1/2 inch thick)
1/3 cup yellow corn meal
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs or stale croutons crushed
(I use 4C Salt Free Seasoned Bread Crumbs)
1/8 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons canola oil

Wash and pat dry fish fillets. Set aside. In medium sized mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients. In soup bowl/cereal bowl, mix eggs and milk. Coat fillets with egg and milk mixture. Drag fillets through dry ingredients, coating both sides well. Repeat coating fillet with egg and milk mixture and dry ingredients. Set aside on plate. Do this with all fillets.

Heat oil in frying pan until oil is shimmery and passes the water drop test (drop a bit of water into the hot oil, if it spatters and pops, the oil is hot enough). Carefully place battered fish fillets into hot oil and fry on one side for 3-5 minutes until coating is set. Using tongs, turn over fillet and fry for 1-3 minutes until other side is golden brown. Remove fish from pan to clean plate lined with paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Serve with steak fries and cole slaw.