Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Avatar Debate

I watched Avatar in IMAX 3D last night. I went into it expecting spectacular special effects, and a lame retold story. On the effects front I was not disappointed. On the story side I was pleasantly surprised. I was impressed at how convincing the plot turned out to be considering a) it was about a bunch of 10 ft tall blue aliens and b) was similar in nature to: Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, Fern Gully, Pocahontas.
At first the aliens came off as a bit much, but the more you watched the movie and became ingrained in the world that was being created, the more the believable the whole thing became. By the end of the movie I found the whole thing very convincing. Extremely well done. The 3D definately was an extremely cool part of the movie. I am interested to see how it will translate to bluray/DVD. The movie was designed to be seen in an IMAX 3D enviroment, and to seperate that part out of the viewing experience probably will hurt the work somewhat. But I think in the end the imagination and depth of the world created will stand on its own. I fully expect to see sequals of this movie if just for the fact that the world created was done so in such exquisite detail that it would be a shame not to revisit it.

Yes, this movie was hyped quite a bit, and there are a lot of people out there who are saying they don't want to see it based on this fact, and the fact that they heard its an old story redone. While the story is not something new, there were a lot of intricacies that were added to the story that kept my interest throughout. To not see it because it is supposed to be big, is stupid. If something is supposed to be awesome and turns out to be awesome that is a good thing, why not take advantage of that?

I would highly recommend seeing it particularly if you can see it as it is meant to be seen.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I've totally done this

Well not a butterfly costume, but in general. What? You've never felt like you are getting dressed for battle when
getting ready for work?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For my abundance of readers out there...

If anyone does read this from time to time, I have a Google wave invite available. Google Wave seems like a pretty cool application. It will be interesting to see how it can impact blogging once it actually gets up and running.

The invite be on a first come first serve basis.

Leave an email address in a comment or send me an e-mail.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ohhhh those Golden Arches

So I gotta admit, I'm a McDonald's junkie. One of my favorite times of the year is when McDonald's does Monopoly. I end up doubling or tripling my McDonald's intake. I was thinking about this recently because I realized almost by accident I have a new travel activity. At least once per trip to a foreign country I have to try and sample their McDonald's. So far I have of course had it here in the US. I pretty much lived on McDonald's while I was in Taiwan, after having an allergic reaction to something I ate there. I had to go with something I new wouldn't mess me up (isn't that the most ironic thing ever written?).

When I was in England we were walking around London seeing the sites and by the time we were going to catch our train up north, we realized we had no time to get normal food, and there was a McDonald's next to the station. So of course I had to partake.

Recently when in the Netherlands I needed breakfast prior to flying back to the States, so I hit up the McDonald's and snagged a London breakfast. I thought it was fun that instead of numbering meals they had given names of European cities based on how the meal related. The London breakfast was two bacon sausage egg Mcmuffins, coffee, and orange juice.

So far the only country I have been too that I have not eaten at McDonald's was when I was in Italy. Possibly Canada as well, but I have no recollection of where I ate while I was there since it was when I was a lot younger.

So I have:

The Netherlands

Where will it end?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Routines, Good or Bad?

I tend to be a person of routine. I like to go to sleep and get up around the same time. When I go to a restaurant its probably one I've been to before, and I probably know exactly what I am going to get before I ever sit down. I like to sleep on the same side of the bed every night, and sit on the same part of the couch. In fact our couch now has what we affectionately call "the hole" from where my butt has worn a groove into the cushions that you can almost fall into.

Is there anything wrong with having routines? It makes me comfortable and gives a steadiness to life that reduces stress. I don't have to worry about new things. It can be a blessing; but it can also be a curse. It can allow you to stagnate, and make life boring. As much as I love routine, I realize it is important to get out and do something differently every now and again.

As I tend to be a creature of habit I try to use occasions where I am forced out of my routines to really try and do things differently. For example, when I was overseas recently I try and eat the local food as much as possible. I had venison steaks, a trio of quail including poached quail egg, I had rabbit stew, haring (see previous post), and I drank new kinds of beer (which can be very rewarding). Its not a big thing, but those are definitely I do not eat routinely. It is fun to try new things. At the very best you can find something new that you really like, and on the other end at least you can say you tried it. It can make a good story. I drank snakes blood and bile once. Was it good? No. Does it make an interesting story? I think so anyway.

It's easy to break routine when forced to and it can have a lot of rewards. It's important to remind yourself this when stuck in a loop at home. Maybe go out and try that other restaurant, or play a board game instead of a videogame. Read instead of watching that television show. Even better, get outside instead of staying in doors all evening (of course living in Texas typically can make the outdoors a miserable experience).

Maybe sit on the other end of the couch and not in the hole, gain a new perspective on things.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

So I just flew in from the Netherlands and boy are my arms...yeah. Boy am I tired. It was a long week but a pretty good time. Five days of meetings interfered with the fun, but otherwise I would not have been there. Highlights of the trip.

-Arriving at the airport and finding out my rental car is a manual transmission. yeah, I never learned how to drive stick, and learning in Europe was not on my list of things to do.

-Getting to my hotel at 9:30am and not having a room ready until 2:30 am. It gave me time to wander around the beach and see the town a little bit. Besides the bitingly cold wind, it was a good thing, because I couldn't go to sleep.

-The Wednesday social dinner where we realized after we had paid for the meal, that half the wine that was included in the bill had not been drunk...and we just couldn't let it go to waste.

Thursday morning was not a highlight.

-Lightning tour of The Hague on Friday afternoon culminating in eating this lovely Dutch treat.
What you are looking at is haring; it consists of raw herring
and raw onions. mmm...mmm...good.

I can't say I was all that impressed with there food overall. It was okay, but it is not a country I would tell you to go to for the good eats. I will say that there fries are really good. The use of mayonnaise although off putting for me, was actually pretty tasty.

-Discovering Gulden Draak.
Now I just need to find a place in the States that sells it. Spec's don't let me down.

Hopefully, if I get to travel like this again I will be able to get a bit more organized before the trip so I can actually go and see more places. This time being the first trip, there was a bunch of different things to get used to. Particularly expecting to have a car, but then not having that work out. I wasn't ready to travel using public transport. This limited where I could go and when since I was relying more on other people. It was a fun trip, met a lot of good people over there. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can do something like this again.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Off to the Netherlands

So on Saturday I am flying to the Netherlands for a review for work. I'm not gonna lie...I'm a little bit nervous. The first thing is that I am going to be driving around in a rental car in another country. I can't say that I have ever done that before. So that will definitely be a new and interesting experience. I'm hoping I am not spending my time there driving lost around the countryside.

Secondly, I am going to be the end all be all representative for my group at a major review in another country. I only recently started supporting this role within my group and now I am THE man. Its a little bit disconcerting. I really need to make sure I know my stuff for this.

Lastly, I will not really know anyone there. As I said I just started in this aspect of my job recently. I don't know the folks that I am working with all that well as of yet. The good thing about a trip like this is that you do tend to get to know the people your working with better.

All in all it should be a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to it. I get to cross another country off my list of places I've visited in the world. This will be my third European visit now, but my first for a job related trip. So it will be different, but should still be cool.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Next plans for movie night

So we seem to be getting rolling on movie nights now. The original was the Star Wars marathon. That took place a while ago; almost two years now. Six movies in one day, three boxes of wine. We made it through four movies and two and half boxes of wine before it degenerated into video games.

Then came B movie night. A night of Zardoz, one of the most ridiculous movies of all time. Obviously someones attempt at being deep in the 70's, probably highly inspired by drugs, and with all of its budget in getting Sean Connery to run around in a loin cloth. All in all a pretty entertaining night. I finally killed the bottle of Patron I had started a year earlier during a N64 game night (a majority of the bottle was polished off during that first night...Oh to be young and reckless).
Then the mildly successful LOTR marathon/wine tasting. Maybe we will get on a roll now. Suggestions are going out for a old science fiction movie night. Candidates for films were Logan's Run and The Forbidden Planet (in my eyes one of the greatest science fiction films of all time). Both good suggestions though I have seen them both within the last two years. The other suggestion was to do a Greek mythology night. The old Hercules flicks, or Jason and the Argonauts.

I think that I am leaning towards the Greek mythology genre since I haven't seen those ever or in the case of Jason and the Argonauts, in a very very long time. Either way it will be fun; even better I will not be the host. So no pressure on me. Sometimes you can't get better then that.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Lord of the Rings Marathon

So this past weekend we had a Lord of the Rings marathon at my place. The goal was to watch all three extended edition movies in one sitting. There was an added twist that each group coming to the show was supposed to bring a bottle of there favorite wine, so we could do a wine tasting as we watched.
We made a bunch of different food to go along with it. I think we put out a pretty good spread. We made a double tomato bruschetta which I thought tasted fantastic. I made a chipotle and cilantro chili. The chili is a work in progress. I have made two different versions of it now, and I continue to try and figure how much cumin should go into the chili. This was definitely the better version of the two. We had several cheeses, chips, guacamole and also had brownie mix, and the fixings for a spinach and artichoke dip if necessary.

Unfortunately, it was not necessary. Earlier departures and no shows plagued the evening. It was still a good time, but this was a keen example of why I do not like to host events. We put a lot of money into getting this setup. Yeah maybe the concept was a little much...Come and watch 11 hours of movie! but the people who left early or didn't show were big proponents of the event, so why bail?

I don't know; it will probably be a while before I host another event. We had good food, good entertainment, just would have been nice to have good company.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On that note...Cooking FAIL

So I have been trying various rubs with pork chops as of late. I've tried three over the last two months with the third taking place tonight. I have always tried to pan sear the chops which has been problematic in my apartment. I am constantly setting off smoke alarms because you have to cook the chops on a high heat, and the fan above my stove does not work adequately. Usually I cook them on high about three minutes to a side. Tonight I tried a couple of different things. Which so far has had an unfortunate turn out.

The first thing was that the chops were thicker. I therefore needed to cook the meat longer. The problem is if you do that at the same high heat, my smoke alarms are going off longer and you tend to burn the outside pretty badly as you wait for the inside to cook.

The second thing is that I am using with new cookware. I've been married since April and we finally got our wedding presents shipped to us. So we have snazzy cookware. Unfortunately I have no idea how to cook with it because it is not supposed to see extremely high heat.

I figured this would work out well for this application because I would just use the lower heat and cook them longer. Four minutes to a side. Using this cookware it is supposed to transfer the heat better so I didn't think the lower temperature I was using would be much of an issue with the longer cook time. WRONG.

It looked amazing, its smelled delicious, and it was totally raw on the inside when I thought it was done cooking. Oops.

Its now coming out of the oven now. We'll see how it is.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cooking can in fact be fun

When I lived at home with my parents, I never once prepared a complex meal for myself, or others in my family. It just wasn't how our family worked. Either mom or dad cooked. Then for four years at school I either ate in the mess hall, or I ate out. Needless to say my cooking skills were not up to par when I finally moved out on my own. And it showed.

For about two weeks I attempted to actually make complete meals for myself; a meal like spaghetti, bread, and salad. There were two big problems with that. The first was that I always made too much. Eating spaghetti for days on end gets tiring. So if you don't eat it all it just goes to waste, which is no good.

The other problem is no matter how simple the meal is I make a huge mess. Spaghetti sauce would be everywhere, I would have tons of dirty plates, utensils, everything. Don't ask me how I could consistently make such a huge mess. About the last thing I wanted to do was to go home after work, make a meal I would then have to eat for 4 meals, and then have to clean everything up. I very quickly adopted a microwave diet. If it couldn't be cooked in the microwave I didn't eat it. And that is how it stayed for about two years.

Two things changed that. The Food Network (as well as some Bravo) and getting married. I recently became a Food Network addict. Particularly the various cooking competitions, Iron Chef, Chopped, Food network challenge, Top Chef. The problem is when you sit there and watch good chefs make amazing looking food, and then you go and eat your hot pocket it just isn't quite as satisfying. I started wanted to be able to make some of that stuff.

Secondly getting married gave me someone else to cook for. Its a little more motivation. I want to make food that she enjoys. Between these two motivational factors cooking has actually become a lot of fun.

I have cooked a curry, London Broil, pork chops, chili, fish, arrabiata sauce, vodka sauce, lasagna, hamburgers. All sorts of good stuff. I'm going to try to write about some recipes as I try them, and say what I have changed, what I kept the same and what I thought about them.