Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Five

As I sit here in the George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport on my way to Minneapolis for my fantasy football auction, I figure it only appropriate to do a list of the five things I miss about Minnesota.

  1. Being close to friends and family. Karin and I developed some very close bonds to people, and the biggest reason I continue to be involved in the league is to stay in touch with people. Most of Karin's family is still in the area, so living in Minnesota meant we were close to them.
  2. Indian summers. It's summer's last gasp before 8 months of winter (or what feels like 8 months of winter). (Closed circuit to my San Diego readers - ask the local Canadian if you don't know what an Indian Summer is.)
  3. Snow. Don't get me wrong, I don't miss shoveling it, driving in it, scraping my car, or in any other way dealing with it. But there is something very nice about sitting inside and watching the snow come down
  4. Famous Dave's. The best ribs I've ever had. Every time I go back to Minnesota I have to stop at Famous Dave's.
  5. Being close to Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay is a small town just on the north side of the border, and it was always the getaway destination for Karin and I when we needed a weekend. (Here are some pics of our most recent trip up there.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chicken Marsala

One of the big things that Karin and I have been doing more of is eating at home. With our schedules in the past, eating at home wasn't always easy. Now that we're striving for a more laid back pace of life we're trying to eat at home more often. Towards that end, we found a Chicken Marsala recipe that we had to share.

The recipe, of course, is from Emeril. It's very easy to make up, with very little prep besides dealing with the mushrooms. I'd recommend using crimini mushrooms as they're easy to prep - pop out the stems, and then slice. If you have a food processor, all the easier. We used fresh chicken tenders (not the frozen/battered kind), which eliminated the need to pound the chicken flat. If you don't have Emeril's seasoning, a good seasoned salt or just salt and pepper in the flour helps.


(the recipe)

Monday, August 27, 2007

713 Restaurant and Lounge

Back in San Diego, Karin and I had a group of friends that would go out (roughly) once a month to a different restaurant to experience what San Diego had to offer. I had always wanted to start posting reviews of the places we visited. Now that we're in Houston, we're trying to check out places in Houston now, and since I'm blogging I figured this would be a perfect time. So with that, here's the first review:

What: 713 Restaurant and Lounge (Japanese/sushi)
10001 Westheimer Rd
Who (went): Karin, myself and a couple friend of ours
Description: The place tries to be hip and trendy, and to a certain extent succeeds (except for the fact that it's in a strip mall). There's a bar on right side as you walk in, with the restaurant and sushi bar on the left. They do play club music, but fortunately they keep it fairly quiet. They also open the place up as a club later at night.
How did you find the place: I had a couple of friends take me here during one of my business trips to Houston before moving here.
Food: I had the 71-Trio sushi combo, which has 3 different types of nigiri, salmon sashimi and a California Roll. The quality was outstanding. Karin, still not able to do sushi, had the 713 pasta, which everyone enjoyed. The husband of the couple we were with did the chicken skewers and the beef tataki. The chicken had an odd flavor to it, while the beef tataki was very tasty. The wife of the couple had a seaweed salad, which she enjoyed, and a sushi roll that had sliced apple inside. A with apple was something none of us experienced before, and gave the roll a great taste and a unique texture.
Service: The waitress was very friendly and attentive. None of our drinks were empty for long (if at all), and she was very helpful with the menu.
Would you go again?: Considering the fact that I had been here a couple of times before, and then decided to share it with everyone, I figure it's a safe bet we'll be back again. The quality is top notch, and I oddly enjoy the atmosphere.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Five

I'm not exactly sure what made me think of it, but I thought for this week I'd do a five things I'd like to do before I die. And to make it a bit more interesting, I had Karin come up with a list as well.

Jersey's list:
  1. Learn another language (and the further from English the better). I don't know that I'd have the motivation to stick with it, but I'd love to be able to learn like Japanese.
  2. Get published. I don't know on what (although it would likely be computer related). Again - I'm sure ADD would kick in at some point.
  3. Travel to both the Orient and Ireland. I know they're not exactly related (or close to each other) but I didn't really want to make two items out of it. I'd also love to live there for a year.
  4. Play in the World Series of Poker. It doesn't have to be the main event.
  5. Jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
Karin's list:
  1. Take a hot air balloon ride. I’m sure it would be scary at first, then beautiful being up in the air.
  2. Visit Australia and New Zealand. For whatever reason, those countries have always appealed to me. Visiting the Great Barrier Reef would also be great.
  3. Take a train trip across the US and Canada, taking as long as we want to stop at various places. I actually had a dream last night that I was on a train, which inspired this thought.
  4. Work for the Humane Society or any sort of organization that serves / benefits animals.
  5. Win the lottery. I often joke that I’d love to win the lottery. I also joke that in order to win, we actually need to play the lottery more often!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hearings aren't the same as solutions

As I've mentioned before, I'm a life-long Chargers fan. Living in San Diego was great for me since it of course gave me the chance to see my Chargers every Sunday. Now that we are in Houston, we need a different strategy. While I'm not opposed to having to go to a sports bar every Sunday, the cost does add up rather quickly.

Enter DirectTV's Sunday Ticket. For those of you who live under a rock, the Sunday Ticket is an exclusive contract the NFL has with DirecTV that allows DirecTV to show every NFL game to subscribers. It's also a violation of the NFL's antitrust agreement.

When the NFL began broadcasting games on television, they were granted an antitrust exemption by Congress as long as they guaranteed equal access to all broadcasts. Since the games were broadcast on over-the-air channels, or cable networks such as ESPN that are available through all cable and satellite systems, they were always in compliance. Their deal with DirecTV, however, flies in the face of this agreement. In order to obtain this package, one must subscribe to DirecTV. Don't want DirecTV? Too bad. Can't get DirecTV due to technical problems? Too bad.

Last year, Congress decided to start holding hearings about this arrangement. Arlen Specter and others promised to introduce legislation to open this package up to the masses. It seemed like finally Congress was going to actually do something. Alas, this same congress that can't balance a budget, pass legislation to reform our immigration policies, fix our health care system,
or solve the pending Social Security crisis, can't even handle something as simple as requiring the NFL to offer the same thing to cable companies they do to DirecTV.

Harry Reid was recently quoted as saying, "We have had 100 hearings on Iraq and we're going to have 100 more, and we're proud of it." That easily has to go down as one of my favorite quotes of all time. Granted, he was talking about Iraq, but I still think it does a great job of summing up the state of politics in the US.

The great thing about holding a hearing is that it will get you on television looking like you're doing something. "Wow - look at the tough questions that Senator is asking him." It plays well to the masses and to the media. It makes you look like you're standing up for your beliefs. Of course, it's not actually solving a problem. As far as I can tell, the one goal a hearing best serves is helping Senators and Representatives get re-elected.

After holding numerous hearing last year the issue has, like many others, fallen off the radar. Did any legislation work its way through Congress? Not that I can tell. But they had hearings - and that's the important part, right?

Meanwhile we're be stuck having to subscribe to DirecTV, and wondering, "If this Congress can't solve the small problems, how do we expect them to solve the big ones?"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One month and counting

As of today (in about 4 hours) it will officially be the one month mark for Karin and I being in Houston. To sum up the month, it's been good, and it's also been stagnant at the same time.

First, the parts that haven't gone as well as we would have hoped. Karin's job search has been slow. It took a little longer than we had wanted to get together a resume that she was happy with, and while there was some initial interest from some places, that seems to have cooled off.

The other drag has been the house - it still hasn't sold. We've had one offer thus far, and we weren't able to get close enough in our pricing. Our agent has been very supportive through the whole process, though, and is convinced she can sell the place over the next month. We're starting to see an up tick in traffic again, so here's to hoping.

On the good side of things, we've been getting out and becoming familiar with Houston. We have found round abouts where we want to live once we are able to buy. We've also found a great sushi place (which I will post a review on later), as well as a good seafood place.

We've also discovered Spec's, which is a Target sized liquor store. I had mentioned when leaving San Diego that I was going to miss the beer; well not any more. The selection is great, with numerous brews from San Diego and the rest of the western US. Finding good beer in most of the restaurants out here is still a challenge, but at least I can get good beer at home.

Karin has found the local Petsmart that does doggy day camp for Roscoe, so he's happy. Karin has yet to actually find a dog park, however. She's tried a couple of times, and either gotten lost, or in the case of Millie Bush, it was flooded out.

I've been keeping myself busy at work. There's a curling club in Houston that does open curling nights every other Friday during the summer. I'm enjoying it, and it keeps me off the streets. There's a kickball league that starts up next Thursday, and I may try to get hooked up with that just to again get out of the house.

All in all, things are going well. As soon as the last couple of outstanding items get cleared up we should be all set.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Misc Updates

Just in case you hadn't noticed, the Hurricane Dean has decided to head south, and barring something completely unforeseen we should be just fine.

Karin is still looking for work. House is still unsold, but there has been a little progress there. I will keep everyone up to date as we go forward.

For your ironic moment of the day - Karin and I signed up for Green Mountain Energy, an electric company that favors renewable energy. If you pay an extra few bucks a month, they'll use solar and the like for your house. The other day they sent us a letter thanking us for investing in the environment. As an additional thank you they planted a tree on our behalf, and included a certificate of the planting (and a piece of cardboard to keep the certificate from bending.) So they killed a tree to tell us they planted a tree.

In the mean time, enjoy your Monday.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Five

Before I get to my weekly nonsense, I just want to mention we survived all the rain just fine. Stafford was rather dry comparatively. Dean is still a big question mark, and I will keep the blog updated as the situation changes.

This week I've been on a Civilization 4 kick, so I figured I would do my 5 favorite games of all time. This list is in no particular order.
  1. Civilization (all versions) - I remember living in Duluth when my buddy Tim invited me over to play the game for the first time. I didn't realize at the time he was really giving me crack. Easily one of the most addictive games ever. I can't tell you how many hours of sleep I've lost to just "one more turn".
  2. Pirates - The better part of my high school years were spent playing Pirates. It's a miracle I graduated.
  3. The Sims (both 1 and 2) - Say what you will, but it's a very entertaining, engaging game. It's very easy to become engrossed in the fake world that is The Sims.
  4. Any football game - It's hard to single one out. Between Tecmo Bowl, Cyberball, Madden or even 4th & Inches, I've had a blast with each one of them.
  5. Wing Commander - So far ahead of its time. The graphics were superb for the time in which it was released, and the fluid storyline is still rare even today.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I know everyone else here is used to it...

Needless to say, there's a small cultural and weather difference between San Diego, CA and Houston, TX. Some of the weather we're familiar with having lived in the Midwest; believe it or not it does get hot and humid in Minnesota.

Having said that, it's certainly a new experience for both of us watching tropical storms. There's a tropical depression right now in the Gulf that will likely turn into a tropical storm just before making landfall in the southern part of Texas/northern part of Mexico. Fortunately, it should be well south of us. There's another one that's supposed to pass by Cuba and enter the Gulf this weekend.

In the past, seeing news of a hurricane approaching the US wasn't cause for personal concern. Now it's a little more important.

I'm sure in a year or so it will become like living with earthquakes. Living in Southern California, you feel a shake, hear a bang, and simply say to yourself, "Hm. Earthquake." Of course, if you're not used to it, it's a different experience. I had one happen during a class I was teaching where one of the students was from DC. He was completely freaked out by the experience, and I was convinced he was going to be back on the next plane home.

Either way, I'd be perfectly happy being able to go through my first hurricane season without a hurricane.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Yankee Stadium

This is for those readers who are not in the New York area.

If you have not already made it to Yankee Stadium, do so. Assuming that the mob sponsored union workers complete the new stadium on time, Yankee Stadium will be vacant at the end of the 2008 season. I hate the evil empire as much as the next person, but this is one of those times when the history of the game takes precedence. If you are a baseball fan, you owe it to yourself to take in a game here.

As a side note, Shea Stadium is due to be vacant at the end of the 2008 season as well. I enjoyed Karin's and my trip to the stadium only because I had never been to Shea and my father was a Mets fan when I was growing up.

In the mean time, if you're interested, the links have the pictures from our respective trips.

RIP, Scooter

Phil Rizzuto passed today. It's impossible to have grown up a sports fan anywhere in the northeast and not have heard or watched his broadcasts of Yankee games from the mid 50's through the 90's. His voice was easily one of the most recognizable in all of sports. He was also famous for unabashedly being a homer and his streams of consciousness, as well as his part in Meat Loaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Light.

God must have needed a play-by-play broadcaster for an all-history game. He'd be hard pressed to have picked anyone better.

"Holy cow"

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's just preseason, right?

San Diego was lucky enough to get the first NBC game of the preseason last night. After all, according to the "experts", we're one of the best 3 teams in the league, and one of the favorites to win the whole can of Cheez Whiz. And it was good to see us show the world the kind of team we are.

In the first 3 sets of possessions, we had:
  • 5 penalties, which cost us 35 yards, an interception and a first down. Two of them were defensive holding, which with pass interference has plagued our defense since I can remember. We also got called for a false start and a delay of game which are simply loss of concentration.
  • 3 fumbles, two of which we lost.
  • 3 sacks.
  • And a dropped pass that hit Malcom Floyd right in the numbers.
And that's not to mention that the Seahawks first team offense had their way with us.

I understand it's preseason. I understand that this game means nothing. I understand that the biggest thing was that nobody got hurt. But the best play the Chargers had all night was simply putting 4 layers of bubble wrap around Tomlinson and not letting him get within 10 yards of the field. Beyond that, it's time to go back to training camp and start over again.

While we were watching the game, Karin asked me if I'm going to survive the season. Considering that there's a part of me that's still not over last season's loss to the Patriots, I give it a 50/50 shot.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Five

Do opposites attract? Anyone who has met Karin and I knows we are very different people, but we find that we compliment each other very well. So this Friday Five is dedicated to the harmless differences between us.
  1. Karin is stationary in front of the sink when brushing her teeth. I roam all over the place.
  2. Karin tolerates road trips. I love them.
  3. Karin could watch Animal Planet all day long; I can't stand it. I can watch poker all day long; Karin can't stand it.
  4. Karin loves her penny slots. I basically only play table games in Vegas, which Karin has never tried.
  5. After a hard day, Karin wants to stay in and hide from the world. After a hard day, I want to release stress by going out with friends.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


He finally did it. He chased down one of baseball's most hallowed records. Amid controversy he accomplished what he set out to do. On September 20, 1998, Cal Ripken, Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 consecutive games played.

Who did you think I was talking about? Maybe Roger Maris breaking Babe Ruth's record of 60 single season home runs on October 1, 1961? Or Mark McGwire breaking Roger's record of 61 on September 8, 1998?

Baseball has been around far longer than any other major professional sport in this country and, due to its nature, has more statistics than them all. As a result, baseball records are the most revered of all major sports. We, as baseball fandom, get very upset when the numbers we hold most dear may have been beaten through ill-gotten means. But, really, what record is truly "pure"?

Cal Ripken, Jr. managed to break Lou Gehrig's mark during a period that saw 4 work stoppages, including the 1994 strike which shortened the season to 112 games and cancelled the World Series. During the last couple years of his run up to Gehrig's record, Cal had to play 3rd base because he wasn't agile enough to play SS any longer. Gehrig, on the other hand, saw no work stoppages during his run, and was dying of ALS during the last couple years of his career. Let's not forget, though, that Gehrig's streak was extended by a few pinch-hitting appearances.

Roger Maris passed Babe Ruth after playing 8 more games than the Babe. After 154 games, Roger only had 59 home runs. Mark McGwire has since admitted to taking androstenedione during the season when he passed Maris' 61 home runs, a substance legal at the time but has since been banned from MLB.

While we're pointing out potential asterisks, let's bring up the fact that until April 15, 1945, hundreds of the best baseball players were prevented from playing in the MLB because of their skin color. One has to wonder what records Satchel Paige, Joe Williams, and "Cool Papa" Bell and others could have set.

At the end of the day, what really matters is what the number, and the player who owns it, means to us. Lou Gehrig's 2,130 will always be greater in my eyes than Cal's number. Roger Maris' 61 means more to me than McGwire's number, or now Barry Bonds' number. And Hank Aaron's 755 means more than whatever Barry may finish with. For baseball fans who love the game's history, it's always been more about that affection than some number.

As a side note, 61, 755 and 2,130 I know off the top of my head. As I wrote this, I had to look up what McGwire's number is. I also have no idea where Cal finished off.

And it's those three numbers (61, 755, 2130) will always mean more to me than whatever the respective record actually is.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Life after 2 weeks, 2 days

Just wanted to post a quick life update, not that there's much to post.

(Also, as a side note, you'll notice that on the lower left there are a list of topics that I've posted on. If you don't want to read any of my sports/computer nonsense, feel free to just click the Life or Friday Five one and it will filter to just those posts.)

The house in San Diego still hasn't sold. We've got a couple of people that appear very interested, but are dragging their feet at the moment. I'm still hopeful that we will be able to sell, but not overly so.

Karin has applied at around 20 companies now, and has had a handful of nibbles - couple of preliminary phone interviews, and one preliminary interview. We're pretty confident that something will materialize there shortly.

Roscoe is dealing with the heat OK. He spends most of his time laying on the linoleum to stay cool. We keep it pretty comfortable in the apartment, but we also don't have a permanent fur coat. Karin did find the local Petsmart with day camp, and Roscoe is currently there playing to his heart's content.

The house hunt has sort of started. We've been poking around open houses, and are considering buying a new house - there's a good amount of 4br places for $200K and under. We keep looking for "the catch". But it's hard to move on a house here until the San Diego house situation is settled.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Friday Five

It's almost football season!

Let me say that one more time: It's almost football season!

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is this Sunday, which also means that the Hall of Fame Game, the first preseason game, is this Sunday as well. It also marks the 5 months which will easily take a full year off my life, as the Chargers do their best to kill me.

With that, I find it only fitting to do a Friday Five about football.
  1. I'm a life-long Chargers fan. Ever since I can remember, I've rooted for the Bolts.
  2. My first preseason game was a Jets game back when I was knee high to a grasshopper. My grandfather used to get preseason tickets and would often give them to my father who would take me. Saddest day of my young life was the one year when I was too sick to go; I still remember one of my father's friends coming over to pick up the tickets.
  3. My first regular season game was a Vikings game. I didn't get to see the Chargers live until 1998. Shortly there after we moved to San Diego.
  4. Because my father is a Giants fan, I did eventually learn to root for the Giants. That was until Eli Manning came around. I also developed a respect for Bill Parcells, and would pull for whatever team he was coaching. That was until he coached the Cowboys.
  5. I've been in the same fantasy football league for, what will be, 13 years this year. Every year I make the trek back to Minnesota for the auction/draft. Of all my possessions, the two championship mugs I have are easily among my most prized.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Just tragic

Karin and I, along with the rest of the nation, watched with horror the coverage of the collapse of the 35W bridge in Minneapolis over the Mississippi. Karin of course still has plenty of family in the area, and we both have friends there as well. As of right now, we are going on the "no news is good news" theory; we haven't heard from anyone and we're just going to assume that means everyone is OK. The phone system is jammed up enough without us having to call in as well. Karin is planning on touching base with her family at some point today.

In the mean time, our thoughts and prayers go out to the area, and anyone affected by this tragedy.

-- Update (10:16a CST)

We've heard from Karin's parents, and they are well, and as far as they know, all of Karin's relatives are also OK.