Tuesday, February 24, 2015

This and That..


Technology

Well, it got me again.  MFO was asked to make a presentation to the local Genealogical Society on how to preserve their “stuff”, old photos, newspaper articles, letters, etc., things that relatives tend to hang on to and pass to surviving relatives.   Hand me downs tend to pile up in basements and attics and then somebody takes an interest in keeping them but they are not sure how to preserve them.  Enter the archivist!

So MFO put together a very nice program covering the various options for making sure these things will survive human, insects, humidity, light, and all the enemies of things historical.  It was of course was in the form of a powerpoint presentation, which i was to manage while she spoke.

Which then led me to face,  once again, my enemy: “technology”.  Remembering my recent losing battle with the demon wires and cables, I decided that this time (By Golly) I would be ready.  I got a “loaner” projector, cables and such, set it up in my office, brought in my IT support staff who walked me through the process of “this little thing plugs in here; Fn F8 will toggle between laptop display and projector; don’t be afraid when the laptop changes aspect ratio; start Powerpoint, then Slide Show” etc.  In the end I had the presentation on the laptop, and as a backup also on a “stick”.

Further, I even talked to people who had been to the Higher Ed center recently and was assured that “everything works fine”.  I even asked a friend to bring his projector so I would have my loaner and his; nothing can go wrong!

So after practicing a couple of times with the home lashup, we went to the Higher Ed Center a full forty five minutes early to set things up.  In the meeting room were two ceiling mounted projectors aimed at two screens on either side of the podium which also contained the dangling wires.  Perfect!  I set up my laptop, called up the presentation, knew exactly what to do with the VGA cable, plugged it into the port on the computer, turned on the projectors, and…. By this time I’m sure you know where this is going… nothing.  “NO INPUT DETECTED” was clearly and boldly projected on the screens.  Unplug, plug, restart, open, Fn F8, “NO INPUT..” resolutely remained for all to see.  The chair of the meeting said she would go and get the IT guy who would make it all play.  Young, eager kid.  Good deal.  Fuss, trace wires, scratch head, go get another little terminal box, re-hook up….”NO IN….”.

After more head scratching, and “I don’t understand this”,  I mentioned that I had the presentation on a stick, he allowed as how maybe we should try that.  Inserted into “their” desktop, everything perked up and worked fine.   She proceeded to dazzle them with the array of “things” you can get for preservation, tips on storage practices, how to handle documents, everything..   They were all very appreciative of her talk.  There is equipment for preserving everything.  

So, once again careful preparation may mean nothing.. (be hopeful, but always carry a stick).

Check, please!

After we returned home, we enjoyed a victory (content wise, not hardware) cocktail.  Speaking of which (the clever writer segues into a favorite subject), there was an interesting article in the Washington Post Food section last week.  It featured a picture of what turned out to be a Manhattan, a story was about “How’d We Get to The $22 Cocktail?”.   Seems that the Rye Bar in the Capella Hotel in Georgetown is serving a Manhattan for that price.   There is discussion on how and why one should pay that sum for that drink.  Many things go into the bottom line.  Ingredients, handling, and so forth.  A classic Manhattan is Rye (more often now Bourbon), bitters, and sweet vermouth.  (the bottom feeder substitutes Dry Vermouth, and omits the bitters).  First, for this beauty, the drink is mixed six weeks before it sees a glass and spends its time in a 55 gallon charred bourbon barrel to age.  It is made with Dad’s Hat rye ($42 for 750ml), Dolin Vermouth (~$15) , a dash of Byrrh ($25), homemade bitters (?), and served with an orange peel.   Tasting notes include terms like “coffee, almonds, and vanilla.  Why there is no cherry component, I am not sure.  Is it worth it?  They say yes, as do many people since they have been serving it for a couple of years.  The article goes on to talk about “expensive” cocktails, with “The Cocktail Bill” served at Fiola (D.C.) for $45.  It is remarkably like a Sazerac.   They do mention that the “typical” cocktail goes for about $12 - $14 (at big city bars).  Interesting piece..

Steinbeck was right..

It IS the Winter of our Discontent…  seems like it refuses to release us from its grip.  We have however, enjoyed watching the ebb and flow of the ice, more than we’ve ever seen.  This morning there was only a small patch of “clear” water (the dark blue strip below), although I imagine the ice wasn’t very thick.  Not many working boats out this morning..




And same thing toward the bridge:

And no, we have NOT opened the pool, it’s just the accumulated (frozen) water and ice from the recent storms on the pool cover.  




Beer Dinner

We went down to the Ruddy Duck Ale and Seafood House last Sunday for their first “beer dinner”.  I have pretty much sworn off “wine dinners” because mostly they tend to be an opportunity for the distributor rather than for the diners.  How many times have you heard: “here’s a fun little wine”, which, oh by the way is available for purchase.  So, I was kind of interested in seeing how a beer based dinner would be handled.  The passionate (I don’t use that word often, but it fits here) head brewer at Ruddy Duck, Matt (Glass), spoke about each of the five beers offered, what its flavor profile was and such.  A nice touch was that each beer was served with a “contrasting” as well as a “complimentary” food item.  Michael Kelley talked a little about the food with each course (Chef Nelson was in the kitchen for this event).   The beers kind of ran the gamut from lighter to heavier and darker.   Of course, like wine, you like what you like, and you don’t like what I like kind of thing, a proper situation.  But, my favorite beer was a Schwarzbier; a dark German Lager.  It was served appropriately with a house made smoked bacon and duck sausage, with an imaginative little accent of a “chocolate dipped bacon straw”.  

A little story accompanied the beer called “Badian Brown”, and I won’t get the details correctly, but an apprentice brewer named “Ian” made a faux pas when trying to brew something else and came up with a brown beer that was not originally intended.  Hence the “bad” part…  But, however, comma, regardless of the intent he came up with a pretty nice brew, on the order of a Newcastle Brown Ale.  Quite tasty.  It was served with a complimentary dish of Lobster Risotto and contrasting Rockfish Skewers/Malt vinegar (think fish and chips). 

Anyway, keep your eyes open for another.  And Matt NEVER used the phrase “fun little beer”..

And yes, we were

DFD

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Storm Stories


Well, I hope all those people who have been wistfully pining for “real winter” are happy now.  I think their wishes were answered. What a run it’s been lately.  Living on the water always adds extra interest to any weather that happens by, and after the “big wind” day (see last post) our shore line was as far “out” (i.e., as low a water level) as we had ever seen it



extending to almost the end of our neighbor’s pier.  And, as cold as the temperatures were, you can see it gave all the pier footings “socks”.  MFO allowed as how they made the pilings look like Clydesdales. 




And what is it about President’s Day?  Why is there always a storm?.. c’mon George and Abe, give us a break!!  But, there it is..

Our storm saga begins with preparations last night before it really got snowing, gathering batteries, flashlights, and especially following conventional medical advice to hydrate and consume plenty of liquids..



And besides hydration you have to make sure you store calories, in this case a dandy hot ham and cheese and bowl of nourishing chicken noodle soup.


Note that Ball Cap, unlike SOMD tradition is NOT on the head (frontward OR backward), and hydration continues

Then came the long, demon filled dark night… Is the power still on?.. is the furnace out of propane?  What was that noise?  Is it STILL snowing?  Would the generator start? (yes, no, don’t know, yes, and thankfully not tested) and we finally awoke this morning to a sight we have not seen since living here (not just in the house, the whole area) for 18 years.  Actual ice on the river.



It stretched almost across to the Solomon’s.  I posted one on Facebook, and got a reply from somebody who remembered their grandfather talking about driving over to the Solomon’s on the ice.  They guessed it was in the late 40’s or early 50’s.
Anyway, of course everybody on Facebook has to post a picture of snow on “something”, so I joined in with my trashy version



And the scientific metering device.


Which, in order to save your eyes, was indicating about a healthy seven inches.   Think we were, for once, the epicenter at least in Maryland.

And a friend from over near Leonardtown was kind enough to share her version of a more mobile gage, the: “Corgi Snow Meter”



And while humans and beasts (don’t forget the birds, folks) are toiling with the elements, our dancers, just twirled and gazed out at the ice filled river



But perhaps the nicest sight of all on a day like this is a friend who doesn’t ask, just says “I’ll be over” and does. 




And before we depart, just a mention of another of our favorite sporting events, the Westminster Dog show.  It was on last night and will conclude tonight with a few more groups and the coveted “Best In Show”.  Our Granddog “Stanley” the Wire Haired Pointing Griffon, better known as a “Griff” will be competing in the Sporting Dog class.  Every year I comment on the show, and every year I say pretty much the same thing, the real show is watching the “handlers”.  I’m sure they are paid handsomely, but it doesn’t seem that many of them invest their wages in clothes or memberships at the gym.  With a few exceptions, they are generally, how can I politely say this, potential candidates for the Biggest Loser Show.  And instead of wearing slimming clothing the are in some frumpy baggy dress or oddly colored ill-fitting sport coats.  And by God, a lot of them still carry the little treats for the canines IN THEIR MOUTH. 

Anyway, we will anticipate the finale tonight with perhaps a little less angst and one eye out the window.  And after yesterday and last night, I’ll be damned if I will be

DFD


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Take another little piece of my Heart...


Well, did you have a nice Valentine’s Day as we did yesterday?  More on that in a moment, but we awoke this morning to gale like conditions whipping the river into a frenzy





At least we’re not shoveling stuff like those folks up in New England.   As a quick aside, there are those (and I think I’ve taken crap for expressing this opinion before) who keep on wishing for snow.  Especially on face book, every time there is a prediction for snow, there are always those who say something like “bring it on!”.   I never quite understand their motive.  Yes, it is pretty (for a while) but anything over an inch or so is not welcome in this office.  You could always drive up to Boston...

Enough of that.  Back to St. Valentines.   Anybody who knows MFO and myself would never accuse us of being “romantic”.  I am sure there are those who have been hitched for over fifty years like us who are still “in love” and express it, but we don’t.  The fact that we’ve endured each other for that length of time probably says something.    Anyway, one of the things we do both love is….(wait for it….) food!  What a surprise.   So, rather than attempt any outing on what some restaurant people would call “amateur night” we stayed in.  And, we had ourselves a pretty nice meal.

However, being together for over half a century must result in some connection, because we both came up with the same idea for dinner.    I don’t know how many of the readers remember the early days of food television when there was a show called “The Galloping Gourmet”, which debuted in 1969, before anybody ever dreamed of Iron Chef, and crap like that.  It featured  Graham Kerr as (the British) galloping chef.  He was always lighthearted, had a great enthusiasm for cooking, and a glass of wine was never far from his hand during the show.  He always ended the show by inviting somebody from the audience to share the dish (and a glass of wine) he prepared.   The series terminated as a result of a rather serious car accident.  A quick internet check reveals he is still alive at 81.  Hope he still enjoys his wine.

Anyhow, MFO latched on to one of his dishes called “chicken for two”, consisting of chicken breasts, onions and green peppers, tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, capers, and (surprise) wine.  We break that out occasionally so yesterday seemed like a perfect time to revisit it.   Also, fittingly for the day, we paired some shrimp (and remoulade) with a bottle of (very good) bubbly for cocktails




For the Chicken, I dug deep in the cellar and came up with a nicely aged bottle of Chardonnay from the always reliable Talbott Vineyards I think procured during a trip to the Monterey peninsula (read on)...




Serving the chicken over pasta made a very nice plate




And, to cap off the meal MFO prepared a lovely Apple Pie, appropriately decorated



So it was a very nice evening, hope yours was as well.  

Bonus

And today is another special day in the sports world, probably my second favorite golfing event, the final round of Pebble Beach (the same round of the Master’s remains premier).   Not only because of its natural beauty, but a lot because I had the chance to play the course with FOJTE as part of his fortieth birthday celebration.    One of my most cherished (life) memories was walking up the 18th fairway, and (if you don’t count that shot that went in the Pacific ocean) I think I parred the hole (don’t correct me FOJ if I’m wrong).  But the best part was that the “ladies” were waiting for our group on the patio of the Lodge, at a table with a chilled DMOTRWAT cocktail waiting for me along side a dish of warmed nuts.  We enjoyed recounting the round, looking over that famous golf hole to the azure ocean.  Priceless.

We also had some nice dinners there for which we shed the golf togs to be

DFD




Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cheese, Chapels, and Cubes..



Have you ever noticed how much toothpaste is actually left in the tube when it seems empty?

What caused that, I don’t know (well, actually just the voice of experience).

Not too much going on lately, just a few this and that’s…

Cheese Please!

We joined another couple for dinner at Bistro Belle Maison last Friday, and experienced the “new” menu which will remain more or less constant for a while, and the daily specials are on a chalk board on the wall.  Gone is the little letter sized single page with just small and main plates.  The “new” is larger, and I think without counting there may have been more selections on this menu than the old one pager.  Personally I liked the little one, but then I don’t run the place. One of the options on the menu was a Duck Confit, which I was attracted to, but a bout with a delicate stomach lately steered me toward a Coq au Vin selection.

Normally, I begin an evening dinner with a cocktail, and lately I have sort of steered away from my DMOTRWAT when going out, because: a) I don’t want to go through the hassle of explaining or returning the DM, and b) I have taken to having my cocktails “up” so they are not watered down (so no OTR), and c) they are much more attractive that way.   So generally when out, I will have a martini, generally with gin, although Gray Goose gets the nod occasionally.  And all the drinks get a lemon twist (so the WAT still applies).  And, any drink served up with clear alcohol should be stirred, not shaken.  Hey! Wait a minute Bottom Feeder!!  What about that iconic bon vivant James Bond who always wanted his (vodka) martini “Shaken, not Stirred”?  well, I thought the same thing, and found a little article that purportedly addressed that very point.  A team of doctors in England conducted a thorough study of the famous spy.   Apparently every December they undertake a somewhat tongue in cheek study, and in 2013 they launched an investigation based on their premise: “Ideally, vodka martinis should be stirred, not shaken,” the researchers report in the British Medical Journal’s Christmas issue. “That Bond would make such an elementary mistake in his preferences seemed incongruous with his otherwise impeccable mastery of culinary etiquette.””  After dissecting all Fleming’s novels of Bond, they came to the conclusion that: The heavy-drinking 007 most likely suffered from an alcohol-induced tremor that forced him to shake his martinis. In fact, they argue, the British Secret Intelligence Service agent with a license to kill consumed so much alcohol that he ought to be dead”  if you would like to read the full article, I’ll include the link here.

Whew, anyway, a shaken (up) martini will get watered down, and will be served with a myriad of little bubbles which destroys the crystal clear appearance of the drink.  Back to the point, the last time I was at the Bistro they had Green Hat Gin (distilled in DC), along with others (including Hendrick’s which I don’t so much care for).  So I tried that, it was a bit floral but different, so I asked if they had that this time.  No, they didn’t but they did have Half Moon Orchard Gin, a New York product distilled from wheat and apples.  Okay, I’ll try that.  I actually liked it better than (I remembered) the Green Hat.  Wasn’t quite as herbal and not overpoweringly floral.   I haven’t looked for it locally, but on the web the damn stuff is expensive, at least on a single bottle retail basis.

Finally getting around to the food, we ordered a cheese plate for the table, a chalk board Seared Ahi Tuna, two Coq au Vins and MFO two small plates, a beet salad and some little turkey meat balls.  Tough to find a good cheese plate around here, but if you’re a cheese head (non football) this one is a keeper.  Large portions, obviously just cut, and a great selections of soft, hard, sheep and cow.  Lovely.. 

Chapel Update (a quick change of subject here)

Folks by this time should know that I volunteer at Historic St. Mary’s City as a “Chapvol” during the time when the museum is open.  Meaning I sit out there in the rain or sweltering heat or on the occasional nice days and tell museum visitors about the reconstructed brick chapel of 1667.  I enjoy telling folks about the history of the original chapel, and the effort that went into the reconstruction.  And it is always entertaining hearing what they are interested in, or not (“How much of this is original?”).

Anyway, most people know three lead coffins were discovered in 1990 within the chapel and between archeology and research and a bit of putting two and two together, it is believed that they contained the remains of Philip Calvert, his first wife Anne Wolsley, and a child by (perhaps) Philip’s second wife.  The discovery was a major archeological event, and the raising was a great undertaking,  The were considered such a valuable find that they spent four years featured in an exhibit in the National Museum of Natural History called “Written in Bone” which proved to be immensely popular.  So finally they were returned to the City.  We are planning to return them to their original location, with a glass ceiling so they can be viewed.

So recently excavation within the chapel began, preparing a crypt area for their viewing.  I went down the other day and got a few shots of the volunteers at work.  By being the photographer you can avoid any suggestions that you pick up a shovel.  It is hard work.  I felt sorry for them (not enough to join in).. Fill up the wheel barrow, wheel it outside, dump it, bring it back, do it again.







Repeat as necessary.  It should be an exciting exhibit when the Museum opens to the public again in late march.  Make your plans to come and see us after March!




17th century transportation outside the chapel

Ice not in cubes

Did you slip and slide this morning?  It was nice when it was on the trees and not the streets!   Better in a glass...

7571




And after you thaw out, you can

DFD



Friday, February 6, 2015

Electronics


As some people always say (MFO, for instance) “it’s the technology that gets you”.   How many times have you been in a meeting/seminar/presentation when time has been lost struggling to get the projector/laptop/screen to talk to each other in order to proceed.  Well, I had a good lesson in the “gets you” department yesterday.

Our Rotary Club received a grant to support a series of after school sessions for high school sophomores with an aim to stress the importance of staying in school and going to college.  It is held weekly in one of our local high schools, and lasts about an hour.  Various Rotarians present a “who am I and what do I do?” show to expose the students to a wide spectrum of occupations and stories of how and why the speaker got there.

I was asked to participate as being an Aeroelastic Engineer.  So, Mr. Aeroelastic Engineer, how do you explain things like eigenvectors, eigenvalues, normal modes, natural frequencies, modal coalescence, and oscillatory instabilities to a bunch of kids in their second year of high school?
Well, you gather all the video clips of flutter models destroying themselves and things like the Tacoma Narrows bridge coming apart, in flight instances (F-117 crash) and stuff like that. Then surround it with simplified diagrams showing pitch and plunge motion, also bring a metal bar and "C" clamp with you to make a “doinger” to show cantilevered bending, and so forth.  I got the presentation put together wh  I finally made a stab at constructing the “cardboard wind tunnel”, with a small “wing” and rubber bands, powered by a window fan.   Of course I waited until a couple of days before the class to make it, but I made it, and of course the damn little thing wouldn’t flutter.  Add washers (mass) to leading edge, trailing edge, more, less, nothing.   So I decided to work in the “test, analyze, and fix” conundrum and go with what I had.

I contacted the host (here comes the technology) and was assured that there would be a projector, a screen, and a laptop with proper cabling, and all I needed to do was bring the presentation on the stick.  Error number one:  “Okay Fine”.  So I loaded up the MOMSTER with the assorted props and drove over to the school.  With some help, I unloaded the stuff in the howling wind, navigated the security at the office and proceeded to the class room.

The “students” were already there, absorbed in conversation, cell phones, and their snacks.  Okay I’ll hurry… where’s the projector?  “Um, we can’t seem to find one”.  Yikes!  My host offered his laptop, thinking maybe we could “gather round” the screen.  Well, the video clips are pretty small to begin with.. do you have sound? “I can crank up the internal speakers”.  About this time a school person showed up with a projector, “borrowed” from another source.  Great.....  Whoops!! The laptop cabling isn’t compatible with the projector.  Teacher who owned room offered her laptop (students remained remarkably unconcerned),  and finally hooked it up, slides projected and we began.. “Okay kids, Mr. Moody is going to begin”.

A few of the kids wrested their attention from whatever they were doing and looked my way.  Did a little promo on being an engineer and then launched into the flutter stuff.  I started out with the famous quote from the Air and Space Magazine from 1987:  “When the flutter guys started talking to their bosses, everybody else just sort of looked at the ceiling”; which has remained true to this day.  Believe me.

I got them back with the video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and then clicked into some of the wind tunnel model clips, which resolutely refused to run on the computer.  Some link didn’t hook up or there wasn’t a plug-in installed on the machine.  Finally, by transferring the slide back to the ill cabled laptop, the thing played but it was about the size of a postage stamp.  Very few got out of their chairs to come and look at it, but there was one young man who was interested, so maybe one benefit.

After staggering through the remainder of the slides, we set up the wind tunnel and demonstrated the lack of fluttering cardboard wing.  There was some interest in that, and the same young man fiddled with the washers. A lesson in life, things don't always work out!

About that time it was time for them to leave, so I wrapped up the session extolling the benefits of education, no matter what you choose to do.  Maybe that one kid….

I can’t really blame the kids, a subject that was beyond their experience, terms they never heard, and bouncing back and forth between laptop, screen and general thrashing.  The subject was tough enough, but the technology always gets you.  How hard is it for all these components to talk to each other??

Sigh..

when i got home, you can be I was ready to
DFD

and the ritual prelude (think clinking glass noises)