Thursday, April 28, 2011

Buster in Suzy's shirt

A while back while reading somebody’s comments I clicked on one commenter and was presented with the blog of Suzy Soro. Since then I’ve been a regular visitor, appreciating her style of humor (yes Suz, I think you’re funny). I’v e never had the pleasure of seeing Suzy in person, but did catch her quick bit buying bobka on Seinfeld:

Suzy has some neat t-shirts for sale on her blog, and liking the basic black style I got one. Suz posts your photo wearing her shirt, and one month somebody sent in this one:

I figured Buster might like to appear, so we came up with this one

It doesn’t fit him very well, and he wasn’t pleased that I couldn’t capture his good side, but there he is.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Hobbit

Peter Jackson is posting a blog about the filming of the Hobbit. Wow, such a lot of work into making this -

Friday, April 22, 2011


Last week I made my yearly trip to Winslow, to play toy trains with my friends. The town looked even sorrier than last year - more businesses closed and fewer people. The current store owners talk about 'revitalization', and they just spent a lot of money on fixing up Rt. 66, but to me that's not enough of a draw to keep a town going. It was started for the railroad, but currently there is no reason for Winslow to exist.

Well, except for that old Eagles song, which plays continuously from the gift shop across the street from the famous 'corner' park

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


One of the blogs on my reading list is Chocolate & Zucchini (see that list over there on the right side? ->). She has interesting stories and recipes, I even bought two of her books on eating in Paris (I love Paris). Clotilde frequently talks about baking bread, and a few months ago I succumbed and sent off for some sourdough starter.

When you bake bread the main ingredients are flour and yeast. Many people just use packaged yeast, but one method is to use a starter. This is a yeast culture that you keep growing, and just take some of it and use that part as the basis for bread. Here on the west coast sourdough is very popular, and there are a number of places to get some dried sourdough starter. I searched around and ended up mailing off for some of Carl's Starter, which just required a self addressed stamped envelope (well, I put in $5 donation to help out).

What showed up was a small envelope with some dried flakes. I followed the directions and added this to flour and water, and ended up with a foamy jar of active starter. I feed it once a week, and on the weekends take some out and bake a few loaves of bread. It’s taken a while to figure this out, as I’ve never done bread before. I combined parts of Carlos’ low-knead hand-mixed recipe (on Carl’s site) and suggestions that Clotilde had in several posts, and now can make a fairly tasty loaf.

It usually starts out on Saturday night, when I take a cup or two of starter (I keep mine in the refrigerator in a closed jar, as I don’t bake that often) and add it to some more flour and water. Then on Sunday morning I add more flour, some salt and some Italian dried spices. I get my spices at the Spice House, they have some great stuff.

I knead it a few times following the directions and mainly just let it sit and grow. I found that warming up the oven and putting the pan in there to rise works great – our house was just too cold for the yeast, but with summer coming on it will be warming up (due for 30c – 86f today). The basic recipe ends up making two loaves. I followed Clotilde’s suggestion of baking it inside a cast iron pot. Our humidity is so low that the bread doesn’t develop a good crust, and doing it inside a covered pot keeps the moisture inside, and the loaf comes out great. A little olive oil keeps it from sticking to the pan.

The loaf is a little flat, but still tastes great. I usually bring it in to work to be consumed by others, we don’t eat that much bread at home, but it’s fun to make and is a nice treat.

Especially great warm from the oven with some butter. Mmm

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Monday videos - guitars

Watching a video and thought of the guitar performances that I like. Here are a few:
Rodrigo y Gabrila – Diablo Rojo

Dick Dale & the Del Tones – Miserlou

Eric Clapton – Signe

Wide variety of styles, don’t think I like one over the other, which one I listen to depends on the mood.

What are your favorites?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Random thoughts

Thoughts driving in this morning:

Most of our freeways have those ‘New Jersey barriers’ lining the sides and the center divider. I wonder why there are so many rubber tire marks on both sides, indicating a lot of cars have scraped up the barriers. Are people really that bad at driving?

The sun is just peaking over the eastern mountains directly in front of me when I come around the curve from 215 to the 95. The freeways don’t have lane divider lines painted on the pavement but instead have the plastic reflective ‘Botts dots’ markers. These shine white in the headlights, indicating where to drive, and produce rumbling sounds when you drive over them, indicating you are drifting out of your lane. The back side is red, indicating you are driving in the wrong direction. Can’t use them in cold country where snow plows would tear them off the road, but that’s not a problem here. Looking in my rear view mirror all of the dots are bright red spots shining brightly in the orange morning sun lighting up the path I came from.

Getting out of my car in the parking lot there is a strong yeasty warm odor. There is a big building just off the freeway where Wonder Bread and other snacks are baked, releasing into the morning air the aroma of fresh bread. It’s different than the clear desert air we usually have.

The palm trees around the office are filled with little birds, a few of them are chirping morning songs quite loudly, sounding even louder than the radio in my car that I just got out of. They are different than the mockingbird songs around my house, shorter and not as lilting, but still quite pleasant.

Last week was pleasantly warm, but this week a cold front is coming down from the north. Going from an April 1 high of 33c (92f) to a high of just 14c (58f) tomorrow, with strong winds outside the window right now and rain possible.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


While walking around City Center (yes, I have a lot of photos from there, it is an interesting place) you can see many of the buildings from the open spaces between the various towers. Across Las Vegas boulevard to the east are the Polo Towers, with the Gucci store at the Crystals shopping center in front

Thought the advertising sign on the back of this cab was interesting: Sluts R People Too!

Friday, April 01, 2011

Aria buffet

A few weekends ago we were wandering around City Center and the new Cosmopolitan and got a little hungry. Most of the fancy restaurants aren’t open for lunch; we didn’t want a $18 sandwich, so we thought we’d try out the Aria buffet. We aren’t too big on buffets, don’t eat enough to make all of that feasting worthwhile, but since there were several with us we thought it would be worth a try, after all, City Center is a fancy place, the food should be good.

City Center and Aria from the fountain courtyard.

The Sunday Brunch was running, cost around $26 per person, with a few bucks extra if you wanted champagne. It looked OK, and was one of the few buffets that actually had windows. Most of the time the buffets are located in the middle of a casino, under hotel towers with slots on one or two sides. A place to stock up and get back to gambling. But this one looked OK.

We were initially seated in the middle, but then pushed for a place by the windows. We ended up next to the dessert line.

My favorite part of the meal.

Food surrounded the main area on three sides, with cold crab legs and oysters over on one side. The ladies immediately headed for that, while I tried the meats and salads.

Unfortunately it was the Sunday Brunch, which meant a combination of breakfast and lunch, so a lot of space was taken up by breakfast stuff, such as eggs and meats and eggs Benedict and sweet rolls and cereals. I tried some eggs and bacon, but mostly hit the carved roast beef and ham. Not many salads were out, but that left more room for dessert.
Overall I wasn’t too impressed. Perhaps because it was the breakfast combination, but the variety wasn’t that great, and what was out there was not very impressively good. I want to be wowed by the food, and I wasn’t. Have to get back to the Rio and see if it’s still as good as I remember. My suggestion: skip the Aria Buffet. We had tried the Bellagio one a while back, and that was small, expensive, and not very good either. So if you are in the middle of the Strip and want a lot of food, I hear the Paris buffet is pretty good.

But there were windows. It was cold, but the big hot tub was just outside our table. No tiny bikinis, just a bunch of younger guys getting drunk, so the ladies had something to look at.