Monday, January 28, 2008

Restaurant Week - Le Bec-Fin

This week in Philadelphia is Restaurant week and we got a chance to get to Le Bec-Fin!

My wife and one of her co-workers made the reservations last month and we had to take 9:30 PM sitting on Sunday, but we got a chance to eat at a five star restaurant!

I usually feel apprehensive when "eating outside my level" but overall we really had a great time and it's all because of my wife's attitude about the whole thing. Her thinking was "what the heck, you may never be back so have a good time".

She was right.

We were a hit with the wait staff, at least I think we were. In our minds we were a hoot. We took pictures, we asked questions, we were loud and we didn't care.

The place could have been outrageously pretentious but really it was wasn't.

It all starts at the front door. At the door there is a buzzer with a sign that says "press to enter" or some such saying.

We did not press the button but charged on in. It's Restaurant week and looooook out! wa-whooooo!. Inside was the smallest waiting area I've ever seen. Imagine standing in that no man's land between the outside doors and inside doors in a public place like a McDonald's with 15 other people and lots of people going in and out. (Not that it was like a McDonald's mind you, it was just that big - work with me here).

And it was packed in there. There was stair case leading down coat room and a bar. People were standing on top of each other in their best outfits in the waiting area and down the stairs. Every time some new diners came into the waiting area, everyone had to shuffle around. excuse me, pardon me, excuse me.

Oh and there was a ladies room where the door looked like the wall on the left side of the waiting area (no real door just wall papered and camouflaged. So some lady would come out of the closed door leading to the dining area and would head towards what appeared to be wall and ask to get into the Ladies room. People would shuffle out of her way and look at her like she lost her mind. Then the wait staff would open the magic door to the powder room.

The food was excellent of course and the portions were as expected, tiny.

I had:

Millefeuille de saumon fumé, concombres marinés
Smoked salmon (millefeuille), marinated cucumbers

Bœuf pôelé, polenta croustillante et épinards sautés, sauce Bordelaise
Roasted beef, crispy polenta and sauteed spinach, Bordelaise sauce

Le Bec-Fin Chocolate Cake.
By the end of the night I was enjoying saying "Boeuf" in a cheesy French accent and I was shocked that I actually ate cucumbers.

My wife had:
Terrine de lapin, moutarde à la cerise et petite salade
Rabbit terrine, cherry mustard and petite salad

Demi-poussin rôti, riz basmati et légumes, jus a l’ail et vinaigre de Xeres
Roasted half poussin, basmati rice and vegetables, Natural jus flavored with garlic and sherry vinegar

Crème Brûlée

I was pretty sure that Poussin was French for "pigeon" by the looks of what was on her plate and the Rabbit appetizer was substituted with venison.

We took pictures of everything. We even sent the camera back with the wait staff into the kitchen to take a picture of George Perrier. You think I'm kidding? We photographed every thing but some how forgot to take pictures of our entrees.

It really was a lot of fun and it wasn't all that expensive because of, of course, Restaurant week. We paid $35 a head for dinner, $6 a glass for wine and the whole bill came to about $200 for 4.

Not bad.

More pictures here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I ran out of malocchio's

Last night with 6:53 left in the 4th Quarter of the NFC Championship game, when Lawrence Tyens waited for the snap for a 43 yard field goal attempt, I turned to Youngest Son and told him I was putting the malocchio on the kicker. I held my right hand out with the index and pinkie extended, two middle fingers closed and shook it left and right.

The ball sailed wide right for the first of two missed field goal attempts.

He just looked at me.

I told him "you want to wait for the right time to use the malocchio, it won't work every time".

"Yeah", he said "you don't want to overuse the malocchio".

It worked one more time with 0:04 left in the game.

Then, I ran out of malocchios and the NY Giants are going to the Superbowl.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wacky 08 for technology in our home.

2008 has been a set of bunny steps for technology in our home. It's a case of 2 steps forward and 1 step back.

Before the holiday two co-workers gave me old Tivos they were no longer using. They were older series 1 units and one had a lifetime service on it but had a bad hard drive. It was the holidays and I had some time between patching walls and baking cakes so I worked on the Tivos.

I poked around on the oracle of the Internet and found for $20 I could download a program that would create a new hard drive for a Tivo, no sweat.

Great. I also bought a 250G hard drive at CompUSA (which was going out of business) for $90. So I figured for $110 I'd have a lifetime Tivo with 300 something hours on it.

It worked!

For a while.

One morning after allegedly recording Letterman, I awoke to find Bill Mahr, mouth agape, frozen on my TV screen. I don't really like Bill Mahr and I really didn't like when the Tivo locked up.

I reset the Tivi and moved on.

The very next night at about the same time, it froze while I was moving through the screens deciding what cable gems I wanted to record.

And that is when it died completely, never to return. I reset it and it powered up and finally it stopped at the Tivo "Green screen of death".

I tried two new hard drives and they both do the same thing. The Tivo is dead. I still had the other one with no service, but I wasn't into it as much after the first one died.

Next up, fix the stupid PC that struggled to run XP with 128 Meg of RAM. That's right 128. It was a PC I bought back in 02 when 128 M of Ram was well, OK for Windows 98. I had found some PC-700 Rambus Ram and added that and ran with 256 for a while but it was time to fix that so I bought me some PC-800 Rambus ram on eBay for $40. 512 M. I figured that plus the crap I had would make for enough to get by until the thing died. Bedsides, now I had a nice 250 G drive from the deceased Tivo to put in it.

So the memory arrived and I slapped it in. Big mistake. The two Memory Modules were sealed, looked new and I thought "what could go wrong"?

Apparently, plenty.

XP came up once, blue screened, and then tried to come again, blue screened in the middle of that and then the Operating system that retails for for like what $300? Died. It was missing some special Bill Gates file and now it wouldn't boot.

Fortunately, I keep maaah feathers numbered for just such an occasion.

I had to build a new "C:" drive with XP, Office, Adobe and printers. No data was damaged in the course of this event. My Itunes data is on separate disk and so I just moved all that to the 250G and off we went.

I told the eBay guy I bought the memory from and he sent a new module and now I am up with 640 M of PC-800 Ram. Oh and a 250 G hard drive.

Next up. Xbox360. Youngest Son got Rock Band for Christmas for the Xbox 36 While my back was hurting, it died. My wife, God Bless her, called Micro-crap and they walked her through a few trouble shooting steps. In the end they told her "You have the red ring of death"

What the ....? Red ring of death? That doesn't sound good.

They would fix it though because the warranty was extended through 2009 so we were good. They would send a box and we would send them the Xbox for repair.

So, within the space of a week I had the "green screen of death", a "Blue screen" and now the dreaded "red ring of death". It was like a bad technology rainbow. I just needed Yellow, Orange, Indigo and Purple to round out the month.

There have been other events as well. I got a GPS for my car but the heat died. I was freezing my a-- off, but, I knew where I was going.

The case of the wire cut to my weather station at 10:30 at night, in the rain. I no longer knew if it was 33 or 34 degrees outside.

At least there were no colors involved.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


American Idol started back up and we get hooked for the time when the wackos auditions happen. I am not big fan when the show moves to Hollywood but I love the nut jobs that actually believe they can can sing.

There are a lot of disturbed people out there. And they think they can sing.

It's proving that bad Karaoke doesn't need Alcohol.

There was the guy that never got to sing a note and came back twice:
Once in his costume:

And when Paula Abdul complained about his ample chest hair, another time after he got waxed ala 40 year old virgin:

Look close, his chest hair is now missing!

He looks like Jubba the hut and Princess Leia had a baby.

However you can usually tell the ones that the producers may think have a shot because they do a little background video on them. They do this to the wacky ones too, but you can usually tell which ones they are making fun of. This next guy had a background video that showed him working at Independence Hall, in his tri-corner hat. It looked serious. I thought for sure that he was a winner

And then he opened his mouth. It sounded like it was on the wrong speed.

Here is our favorite from last night:

Monday, January 14, 2008

Negative Feedback.

The training for Apollo continues with the Dogtra collar. The Collar uses an electronic muscle stimulator to reinforce a dogs good behavior. He is barking less when people come to the door and is sitting in his place. We still have the unmodified behavior of Shadow however.

I feel like I have the same thing going on with my back. I'm Ok if I sit in the chair. If I attempt to get up and bend it anyway I get negative feedback that pushes me back into the chair.

So I'm OK until get up from the chair and it's like someone has a large remote control that gives me pain in my back if attempt to bend it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bad Back.

Yesterday I was putting Christmas Decoration back into the crawl space for the year when my lower back muscles completely spasmed and wretched in pain. I fell to the ground in complete pain. I couldn't move. I laid there for 10 minutes. My wife took pictures of me. She thought it was funny.

Help, I've fallen and I can't get up.

I literally crawled out of the crawl space on my hands and knees.

It happened at 3:30 on Saturday. One hour before what is traditionally the best weekend of NFL football all year long - the divisional playoffs.

I had no choice but to take muscle relaxers and watch football. Too bad.

I can't count the number of times I've watched this stupid commercial

First question:

Why is this giant contraption even out here in the middle of the desert?

I'm stuck in this chair and forced to watch this commercial over and over and over. The vicodin helps. Especially on the UPS "whiteboard" commercials.

Watching T.O. lose made it all worth it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

He likastring bean


After nearly 8 years of ill behaved dogs, we have had enough. The male snapped at someone while Youngest Son was walking them. He neglected to tell us of course and the next time my wife took them on a walk some man in pickup truck was yelling at her about how those dogs snapped at him.


My wife worked with a woman whose husband runs Absolute Control Dog Training in Southhampton.

The owner was out at our house before the Holiday and I honestly thought there was no way he was going to get our stubborn dogs to do anything. They bark when ever anyone comes to the door or up our street. They run wild through house and do what ever they want.

It 30 minutes he had Apollo in place and sitting. This dog had never ever done anything on command and here he was sitting.

They use the Dogtra training collar to reinforce positive training.

We'll see how it goes.