Sunday, November 22, 2009

Since I Left You

-Kayaked out to sea in search of turtles and dolphins (burned the tops of my feet, natch).

-Watched cattle, cowboys and carnies at a county fair

-Ate pork belly with nectarine and endives

-Thwarted jellyfish with a beach sand bullwark

-Enjoyed meals of roast chicken, sausages and salad at home

-Survived an influx of "schoolies" in town for spring break

-Enjoyed the beach air while Sydney raged with so-called "cataclysmic" heat (40 degrees C., about 102 or so, or what Z's tempurature ran for a week until she was back to her usual self); down to 20 degrees for our return

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On Street Food

In Chicago, not the least cosmopolitan city on earth, you generally see the same fried/greasy offerings from street fair to street fair: pizza, hot dogs, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, maybe the occasional chicken on a stick or kebab variant. Italian, Greek, American. In Sydney I imagine the offerings are equally consistent, but from my perspective more exotic: Turkish breads, paella, dumplings, Indian, Thai, fresh juices, trucks serving home made ice cream. It's hard to so no when so much looks so good, just as it's hard to say no to a cup of coffee when standard drip is just about the only thing not on the menu of every corner shop.

Australia Day One

Or is it day three? We left on Thursday and now it's Sunday. Time flies when you fly faster than time.

Right now we're in Maroubra, on the beach, outside Sydney, listening to giggling kids and squawking birds. We can see the ocean from the kitchen and we're woken up by the sunrise and cool morning air. Today we head to Bondai for a sculpture fair and, hopefully, a nice mug of one of Australia's famously complicated (to my mind) combos of coffee and steamed milk (flat white, long black, etc.).

Z., fighting a cold when we left, had a bit of a fever last night, which, following a fit, made her pass out pretty early last night, a good thing. Sure, she missed dinner, but she also caught up on sleep, as did we all.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Concert Week

Steely Dan playing "The Royal Scam" in its entirety last night, with special guest Larry Carlton on guitar? Awesome. The Cult playing "Love" in its entirety the night before? Dire. Tonight, Steely Dan's '70s opposite, ZZ Top! In a small club, too, which should be great.

Also, I have no idea how this happened, but Raekwon's long delayed "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx PT II" is really good. An oft-delayed sequel to a hip-hop touchstone that's actually worth the wait? How did this happen? Someone should get on reverse engineering that formula, stat.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Internet Givith Again

Following up on the "Total Eclipse of the Heart" flowchart making the rounds:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yes, Bears Poop in the Woods

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bert's Not Laughing

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dear Comcast, It's Over, You Suck

Today our third service technician stopped in (following two techs who literally just gave up and left). You know things are bad when the grumbling tech has as many problems with Comcast as you do, but he still gave it his all. Turns out we had a bad box, though even that took a while to diagnose, in part because Comcast has yet to school the techs on the new boxes coming in. In fact, of all the half-dozen customer support folks I've dealt with at length over the last few weeks, no two gave me the same answers or the same solution. Each had apparently just come back from totally different training sessions, each feeding them totally different sets of information and troubleshooting tips to in turn feed to clueless customers.

Of course, I wasn't clueless, just waiting to be clued in, but on that front I made little progress. One after the other, the techs and customer service people recommended upgrading my service, but time after time I demurred, which baffled them. These guys just don't know what to say when you tell them the reason you only get just 10 basic channels is because you really don't want 100 channels. Shock! What kind of American wants less TV right?

Anyway, all this hassle was made moot today, since even as I patiently waited for the tech to "fix" the cable, and return our 10 channels to their previous operational state, I planned to walk to Radio Shack and buy a $30 over-the-air antenna. Which I did. And guess what? Now we receive, over the air, free of charge, as many HD channels as before, and several more. Sure, we're missing CBS (the signal in Chicago is notoriously weak), but who needs CBS? We're happy watcing "The Amazing Race" online the two months of the year it runs. The ironic kicker, though, is that we now get more channels for free, in higher quality, than we were paying even a minimal fee to receive. Which means that as soon as I get some work done tomorrow morning, and pack in advance of our trip to Omaha, I'm going to make one last call to Comcast and cancel our service altogether.

Free at last ...

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