Saturday, March 28, 2015

Social Media does GOOD


Well, recently I sort of trashed Facebook (maybe deservedly so), but in all fairness (as I always am) I have to give some credit to a useful feature.    There are more and more restaurants and chefs that have pages on FB, so I am attracted to those.  So, mostly I scroll past all the pictures of kittens, dogs, grandchildren, selfies, cartoons of the crabby old women to get to the food related postings.  I don’t really mind people posting their favorite shots of pets and kids, I just don’t look at them.  Anyway, I had a very interesting experience yesterday through FB.

There is a page or group called “You know you’re from St. Mary’s County if….” People use it to post a lot of historical pictures of buildings, stores, houses, and county inhabitants.  People seem to have a lot of fun responding with comments like “I had my first job there!”  or “that's where i met my husbad..”.  Not long ago there was a thread about the first (?) local fast food place, I believe a Hardee’s. So, it's kind of an interesting page.

Well. yesterday or the day before somebody posted a photo taken from the bridge of the farm on the Calvert side of the Solomon’s Bridge.  I don’t really know the demographic of the folks who follow that page, but a few people had no idea where it was.  Quite far down the list of comments was a posting that said “saw it every day as I went to work at the Dry Dock”.  Huh? Dry Dock? Did not recognize the name of the lady but boldly sent her a PM asking about it, which resulted in some great exchanges, and found out she was one of the first chefs to work there in the early 80’s.  How neat was that?  So an innocent Facebook posting of a farm, got me in a conversation with somebody in Florida who chefed at the (original location) Dry Dock.  Social Media works some good.. 

Back before MFO joined me out here, my normal Saturday night routine was to get home from work (we mostly worked six ten hour days back then on the Super Hornet flight test program), change clothes (DFD before I knew it!) and go over to the Dry Dock for some good food and company.  Over the ensuing years I got to know most of the staff, at least in the front of the house.  When the Dry Dock “moved” over to the newer (present) location, some of the same folks went, but over the years they have drifted away for the most part.   Most of the Chefs have stayed in the area, although they may be in different kitchens or catering operations. The current chef, Ben has been there quite a while. 

Through one of the friendships we have maintained, MFO and I were invited to a “reunion” of the Dry Dock people last night over on the Solomons, and we stopped in for a while.  What a treat it was to see people we haven’t seen for many years, and what was really nice was that they were all delighted to see each other again.  There was a real sense of family.  Restaurant employees seem to form bonds that way.   I would suspect (and bet a fair amount of money) you won’t see love like that from Olive Garden..  we then moved over to the… duh…. Dry Dock and had a very nice dinner from Ben, who of course couldn’t attend the party because he was doing what he loves, cook.  Nice.

The Dry Dock remains one of the nicer places to get a good meal, but I also have high hopes for the recently opened Elements.

Brackets, again.

Well, having just watched the Connecticut women destroy Texas (105 to 54), I was going to launch into a rant about the uneven quality of women’s basketball.   But then, I recalled that Kentucky (men) laid a similar rout on West Virginia, perhaps spurred on by some rather unthinking comments from a Mountaineer freshman.  I am looking forward to seeing my Spartans go up against Louisville tonight.  Of course my bracket is destroyed, especially because I tried to go with my head and took Virginia over MSU.  Being punished, but I don’t mind..

One thing I can almost rant about (besides Bill Raftery) without fear is the “media” roles in the basketball games.  I suppose the NCAA agreed to and mandated it, but it really makes me mad when some “side line reporter” (almost invariably a woman) sticks a microphone in a coach’s face trying to get his team into the half time locker room and comes up with penetrating questions like: “how are you going to be able to stop making turnovers”; or “what was going through your mind when you saw dunk over your big man”.   Two questions, and both pull away.  I must say the coaches seem to go along with it, but I keep hoping somebody like Bob Huggins would say “that’s a stupid question” and walk away.  Probably would get fined.

Today I actually saw Holly Rowe talk to a coach DURING the game.  What the heck…?  Shut up and sit down, Holly…

Okay, enough.

Staying in tonight, but will be pretty much
DFD



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Day for Mary-Land



Can’t let today go by without noting that this day in 1634 colonists from England (finally) arrived at St. Clements Island and began what turned out to be the Colony of Maryland (correctly pronounced (at least in England) as Mary (like the name) Land), for the Kings wife, Henrietta Marie.  Anyway, Historic St. Mary’s City and Colton’s Point always have ceremonies commemorating the day.   HSMC usually does it on the Saturday of the day, but Colton’s Point always does it on THE day.  MFO will attend those ceremonies despite (IMHO) an incomplete recovery from the annual “Post Book Sale” cold/flu/crud.  A dedicated lady, to be sure.

She was not able (cold, etc.) the HSMC version on Saturday, so I went in her stead.  The event is always a fun event, a couple of hours of speechifyn’ , the awarding of the Cross Bottany honor and the parade of the flags, wherein fourth graders present the flag of their county.



They’re always so sincere with that honor, but the special one is always the carrier of the flag from the Mother County of Mary-Land, St. Mary’s



Various politicians and representatives always have “remarks”, and there is a keynote address, usually something to do with “tolerance” in honor of Lord Baltimore’s edict of Freedom of Conscience in his fledgling colony in the New World.   This year’s keynoter was the Hon. Peter J. Messitte, who’s been a friend of the college and City for years. 



The Cross Bottany award was given by Larry Leak (vice chair of the HSMC commission) to Becky McDonald, who has been a tour guide at the City for many years, and does a TON of volunteering



MFO received the prestigious award in 2012, incidentally.
Anyway, attending solo and respectfully ignoring the speeches, I had some time with the trusty Rebel T1 (dated, I know) to shoot some shots of things that just caught my eye

Like the Militia



Dad, kid and dog



members of the Color Guard taking a break



Tops of tents (not Mt. Everest)



and even lowly propane bottles

And of course the flags



And rising above it all the symbol of the Great State of Maryland and Historic St. Mary’s City!




Technology again

Which always gets you.  I am in the process of “upgrading” my already smart phone to a smarter (and BIGGER) one – can actually read text messages now.  After much deliberation and flopping around I settled on the Samsung Galaxy Note 4.  The idea of the stylus intrigued me, hopefully ending those embarrassing auto fill postings and such.  I am afraid I am one of those people who is inextricably attached to the device and when it’s on the kitchen counter and I’m not, I panic (I’ve LOST it!!).   So, one of the decision points was to be “not black” because most of our counters are black and the old one had the habit of hiding in plain sight, so to speak.  So the new one is white, with a garish case that hopefully will show up anywhere.  So, I’ve been going through the laborious process of remembering passwords from long ago, user names, etc., to sign in to various apps like Facebook, Twitter, Starbucks, ESPN, and so forth.  Am gradually overcoming those obsticles, and gradually getting back to “normal”

It will NOT, however eliminate the need to

DFD

GO MSU (easily done on the day BEFORE the games).. oh, and of course my head overcame my heart and I went with Virginia on the bracket.  Got what I deserved!!


Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring!! yeah, right...etc.


Well, here I sit on the first day of spring, looking out at drizzly cold rain and reading about “Winter Weather Advisory” up north of here.  Will it ever end?  And, incidentally with apologies to Danny Flowers and Don Williams, I am still “Livin’ on STANDARD time”.  I still don’t get rational and cogent until sometime after (DST) nine in the morning.  The only saving grace I can see is that cocktail hour arrives sooner…  sort of..

Social Misery

Anyway, I began this morning with a bout with Facebook.  Last night after we got home from the concert (read on) I checked it, and had a “friend request” from somebody I had already befriended.  Didn’t think too much about it, so “accepted”.  Well, a little further down were comments about “you were hacked” and DON’T accept the request.  So this morning I put out a post to that effect that if you get a “friend request” from me, ignore it.  Comments came back: “you need to change your password”.  Now, if there is one thing that scares the daylights out of the feeder is messing around with established passwords.  Visions of “Password not accepted, you have been erased” and similar awfulness came to mind.  Besides I have never changed my facebook password since setting up the account years ago.  I couldn’t even find where you could change it.  So a back channel messaging with my Facebook guru located the right spot, and, despite my fears, was able to remember (guess) the old password and change it.  So I think I am okay now and back on the Social Media highway.  If some of you are Facebookers, and we are friends, if you get a request from me, ignore it. Sigh…

Music

On a happier note, MFO and I joined some friends for (an early) dinner last night at Café Des Artistes, before going to a Celtic Society of SOMD Concert at St. Mary’s Ryken high school.   For any of you who are devotees of Shad Roe, it is now on the menu at CDA.  I have tried it, and am not a huge lover of it.  It was offered as sautéed with smoked apple bacon and a buerre blanc sauce.  I quipped that the bacon was to cover up the taste.  But, that’s not fair.  Anyway, I had a very nice pate starter and a piece of grilled mahi mahi on a bed of lightly sautéed vegetables.  Quite fine.   After the dinner, we journeyed up the hill to Ryken High School for a concert put on by the Celtic Society.  In all candor I have to admit that I was a bit unsure about that, fearing it was going to be one of those “Riverdance” affairs with troupes of people clomping around the stage to recorded phony music. 

I am overjoyed to report that I was dead wrong.  It was one of the more enjoyable experiences I’ve had in a long time (outside of good meals).  The show was put on by Carlos Núñez, a world class Galician (Northern Spain’s Celtic coast) performer of Celtic music.  He has toured internationally and was just finishing up an eleven stop American tour, having performed the previous evening at Swarthmore  (not a chump venue, as you know).  He was accompanied by a guitarist, a fiddle player (I don’t think you call it a violin), and his brother who played percussion.  Carlos was a bundle of energy, mostly playing the pennywhistle, with his upper body absorbed in that and the lower body was always dancing.  He also played the pipes in a couple of different forms which he talked about.. who knew?   They played “Celtic” music in several genres, like South American and Mexican, as well as classic Irish styles.  At one point he said that Maurice Ravel visited Galicia and that visit gave birth to the famous Bolero.   Their version played by the whistle, pipes, and fiddle was as haunting as I've ever heard the piece played.  Almost chilling. 

Another highlight was when the drummer used two (I think) scallop shells as rhythm instruments and did a little number with intricate phrases and emphasis.  Never seen that before.  then Justin Myles, a native of Mechanicsville, came out and tap danced.  I think he is the same Justin Myles that was in the Piranhas, and now has his own band, the JM Experience which has a large following here.  Reading the program revealed he toured with “Stomp” for a number of years.  Anyway, he did a great performance of tap dancing, in part with the percussionist, going back and forth, trading riffs.

Toward the end of the performance, the fiddle player led a line of dancers behind her, and another locally famous Carlos showed up, Mr. Yanez who had a wonderful time.  Another luminary in attendance was Reid Silverman our vastly underappreciated photographer who took a bunch of shots.  I hope they will be available someplace.

Usually when I yak about music here, it is about Brian Ganz.   Carlos is at that same level IMHO..  Great stuff.  who says there's "nothing to do in Southern Maryland"

Cheesy

Bringing things down to a much, much, lower plane, have you watched or heard any commercials lately for various Sandwich chains (Subway, Firehouse, etc.)?  Well, apparently they have decided that describing their cheese as “melted”, it now must be called “meltY cheese”..How stupid.  A typical foodie site has lots of posts like “I guess "melted" isn't good enough for fast food purveyors any more. Their cheese has to be "melty” I've lost track of how many chains are advertising items featuring "melty" cheese.  When fast food chains are dumbing things down, you know you're getting into heretofore unexplored levels of dumbness”; or another (expurgated) version: “first subway did it and now McDonalds is using it too. apparently the term "melted cheese" just isn't seductive enough for these fat ing mouthbreathing stoners. no. now it's "melty cheese".  MELTY CHEESE. lmao. can't wait to see what they come up with next.”   Anyway it appears that “melty” is nothing more than marketing.  Pay attention..


Okay enough for spring day one.  Yeah you bet.  You might want to (eventually) change your wardrobe, but still you must

DFD

Errata: to close the book on the Book Sale (close, book, get it?) i'll pass along that when all the books leave here, they mostly wind up in schools and libraries overseas, not strictly the military..

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Books, Brackets, Bottles, and Bubbles


Well, a weekend full of books and brackets has concluded, and a day of decompression accomplished, and we find ourselves on St. Patrick’s Day.  Thoughts of a pint of “true” Guinness are swirling around my head.  I don’t care what they say, it IS better in the Emerald Isle.  Anyway, just a few this’s and that’s have accrued. 

Book Sale
Early reports are that the sale did great this year despite some rather ugly weather (or maybe because of it??) and the county libraries can receive a nice donation from the Friends of the (St. Mary’s County) Library.   It is kind of sad in a way that after the sale closes, volunteers (from the local Rotary Cub)  come and just pitch all the books into big cartons called “Gaylords”.  The remaining books still contain some lovely volumes that for whatever reason don’t get sold.  The Gaylords are then loaded into trucks and a couple of Rotarians drive up to Annapolis where they are further sorted a bit, and then distributed to local non-profits, or go overseas to military installations, so they do go to a good home.  So, the last we see of the books is



Brackets
There are probably very few folks that don’t know “March Madness” and “Selection Sunday” began this last weekend.  Conference tournaments decided automatic bids to the “Big Dance” and the rest of the field of 68 was determined by “the Committee”.   As usual, that creates broken dreams for some, and then the pundits are second guessed (how in the world did UCLA get in and so and so not?) providing endless hours of yakking on the sports talk shows.  Incidentally, it appears that Dickie V has been sort of retired and Jay Bilas has become much more visible.  A vast improvement.  The buffoonery mantle has now (IMHO) passed to Bill Raftery whom CBS somehow employs.   He happened to be present at the MSU/Wisconsin Big Ten championship game on Sunday, adding insightful comments like “SLAMMA” and other cheerleading phrases, all delivered at the top of his lungs.   On the court, and I might not be objective here speaking of the Spartans, I was impressed with them at the end of their semi-final game with Maryland.  Not necessarily because they played well, which they did, but with about eight seconds left when the outcome was no longer in doubt, a Spartan somehow got the ball in a clear court, and he raced toward his now undefended basket.  And….. he dribbled UNDER the basket into the front court and let the remaining seconds expire.  There is no doubt that he could have done a twirling, behind the back, NBA style gorilla dunk, but no, he just dribbled it out.  Maybe I read too much into that, but I thought it was class, and just maybe represented respect for a worthy opponent (who beat us twice previously) and a reflection on Tom Izzo.  He is one of the classiest coaches I know (and unlike others I also like Calipari) who forever endeared himself to me when he turned down an NBA coaching job to stay with Michigan State.  And the Spartans just missed upsetting Wisconsin in the title game, when the referees didn't call (apparently legally) a Badger stepping on the line with the ball at the end of the game,  But he saved into the hands of a Spartan who inexplically made a bone-headed push pass that gave the ball back to Wisconsin resulting in a regulation tie.  In the ensuing overtime, there never was one point scored by the team from East Lansing.  Sports are weird.

Bottles
One of my strategies for fighting off the demons in the night is to listen to a little pocket radio through a pillow speaker (so it doesn’t wake a sound sleeping MFO) sort of oscillating between sports shows, conspiracy theorists, alien abduction victims (Roswell is still a hot issue, you know).  I happened across a little piece on a business station that was an interview of the couple who "founded" Barefoot wines.  You see them on the shelves in wine stores usually in a prominent display, lots of times in the “big” bottles, and are um, “value priced” (cheap is not a good word).   They are good for cleaning windshields, for instance.  Anyway, the quality isn’t my point.  Turns out that this couple were retired attorney’s or something. and decided they would kill the wine market.  All they knew about was marketing, and admitted they knew zero about wine making.   Learned a little known fact, that the “barefoot” on the front label (there was a long story about developing the label that would “sell”) is the lady’s own. No mention about making quality or even enjoyable wine, just what sells, baby.  Disgusting.

Bubbles
Last week as MFO was doing a load of wash, she noticed a pond emanating from under the machine.  Fortunately, using a lower water setting eliminated the leak, but she called what turned out to be a Sears contractor, and set up an appointment with the service.  Well, you know how the cable company (for instance) pins their arrival usually in the whole morning or whole afternoon? Well, these folks did them one better!  “they will arrive between 8am and 5 pm”.  Well, that’s fine a whole day shot. God forbid we should inconvenience THEM.  And on top of that, we got a voice mail yesterday reminding us that there “must be someone in the house between 8am and 5pm”.   Service no longer has its original meaning.

One thing that never changes, however is
DFD

Homework assignment:  what does the phrase "uisce beatha" mean and why is it important today??



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Books, Egg Rolls, and Chopin


Books

Well, there are a few postings that I love/have to do each year..and the annual Friends of St. Mary’s Libraries Book Sale is one of them.  Each year, books are collected and boxed up and stored in the back end of the Leonardtown Library.  With that library being a political football at present, who knows what the next year will bring, but that’s not the purpose of this column.   I don’t have a dog in the fight so to speak other than I really think we need a new library.

Anyway, the process is the same year to year, on the weekend before the actual sale, people bring their hauling vehicles to the back end of the library and get them filled with boxes of books, as MFO and the MOMSTER are doing



Then, you drive over to the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds to the appropriate building (Fiction, Non – Fiction, Children’s) and they get unloaded.  When the books are donated, they are sorted into categories and indicated on the outside of the box as to the big three, and then also what grouping is inside, such as Military History, Self Help (always an interesting category), Cooking, Gardening, etc., etc..



Then, the boxes are unloaded an the contents are stacked on tables according to subject



And eventually straightened up and noted – Oh!  Looky here!  Wonder how I got to this table



Generally the cookbooks are what you would expect, but occasionally you run into some interesting finds.  In the “local interest” section there are always lots of those comb bound “Church Lady” cookbooks,

There is also a building called “Rare and Unusual” which contains some unique books of all sorts.  Coffee table books, older stuff, signed copies, stuff like that.  Those books are “specially priced” (even then, ten bucks would be a lot). The “regular” books sell for two bucks for a hardback (and some are like new); one buck for “trade paperbacks”, those sort of grown up paperbacks; and a mere fifty cents for us older folks would call a real “paperback”.

Besides the books there are some videos, a fair amount of puzzles, CD’s, and something called “records” always show up



With various titles



something for every taste 

There are thousands (yes) of things there, and like a food buffet you can spend time looking for that hidden little gem, or maybe some book that triggers a memory from your past, or just titles that sort of grab you.  For instance, I found a little book on (go figure) the cooking table entitled: “Salt”.

Hours are Friday (the Yikes! 13th) noon – six, which is only for members of the “Friends” ~ which you can join on the spot for a mere fifteen buck (I think it’s still that), with the rest of the days free. Saturday is (with a nod to Dolly) 9 to 5, and wrapping up Sunday from noon to three. All the proceeds from the sale are divvied up amongst the county libraries.  Great stuff.

Friday is almost worth the price of admission as that is when the “dealers” show up with their tubs and boxes, and use their little hand held scanning devices to look for something valuable.  Our book sale apparently has a very good reputation as dealers from all over the east coast attend, and generally tell us that it is one of the best shows the visit.  I presume that sort of refers to variety, value, and condition.  I would add that the volunteers (like me) are very helpful and friendly.  And over the years, the dealers have become a little more decent and don’t elbow senior citizens out of the way to get that little book .....over there!

Anyway, if you have some time come on over.  It is always a great experience.  I will be at my usual station at the check out table in the Non Fiction building.  Did I mention that the
 table is very close to the cooking section?

And what makes this run is all the volunteers that show up to lift the boxes, organize the tables, keep them neat during the sale.  Takes a lot of people helping



Egg Rolls: no more!

Way back in the 70’s and 80’s when I used to come out to “Pax” for various test programs, I normally stayed at the Belvedere in “downtown”  Lexington Park, and would sometimes eat at the Peking Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant that I guess had been there since China was a pup.  I remember it used to have those fancy lamps that hung down with red tassels, bamboo screens, and a lot of traditional Chinese décor.  I don’t think I’ve been in there for decades.  Any hankering for Chinese food can now be satisfied by any number of the “new” places around here.  A source told me the other day that Peking will be shuttering.  Another empty hole in “The Park” which can sorely stand a lot of that.  Anyway, memories of that and the “old” Roost fade away.  Too bad, sort of.

Chopin!
Tomorrow, Thursday the 12th, Brian Ganz will be holding another Piano Talk in St. Mary’s Hall down at the college near Historic St. Mary’s City.  I don’t need to tell you again what a wonderful experience it is listening to Brian both talk about and play the music.  I’ve probably mentioned that Brian is on a decade long project to play every piece of music written by Chopin.  They are usually an hour, but this one may be two hours, and starts at noon.  He will be playing some pieces that he has not performed before.  It is amazingly free (he can sell out Swarthmore in a heartbeat).  Definitely worthwhile, and the Feeder is planning on attending (as evidence what a great event it is).

And given the hour, I guess you really don’t have to
DFD