Small Favor

I splurged and picked up the latest installment in the Dresden Files series and tore my way through it, finishing off today. Harry’s life keeps getting more interesting as he gets deeper into what’s been going on in the magical world and Chicago. Mr. Butcher’s keeping at least a half a dozen threads active over the series and has been bringing them around at appropriate times in the last few books, and especially this one. The Denarians are back along with both Fae Courts and there’s nothing good about that, nothing good at all. As is the norm, by the end of the book there is some resolution and more exposition for the next few books. It’s frustrating, in such a good way, mostly because I have to wait another year or so for the next installment.

I Wooted

Woot, that great closeout and bargain site had a heck of a deal on a Dyson DC-18 vacuum. It’s refurbished, but still beats the best on-line price that I could find by over $100. Hopefully it’ll help keep some of the cat fur under control!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I got together with some friends to go see what’s being billed as the movie of the summer, the new Indiana Jones movie. It was a good movie, lots of fun to watch, a good story, good dialog, etc. I’m not going to bore anyone by rehashing the movie itself, since that’s being done to death everywhere else. But, here’s a few things I noticed.

The motorcycle used was in no way, shape, or form a 1950s era Harley-Davidson. It was a Harley, but based on the engine’s heads, it was a modern Twin-Cam 88 dressed up to look like a 1950s era Panhead.

How big was that bike’s gas tank?

Shia LaBeouf did a lot better job than I thought he would based on Transformers. Good to see that he’s got some range and isn’t going to get typecast.

And finally, who knew that refrigerators were so durable in the 1950s?

Sunday Brew Day

Horror of horrors, I’m running out of beer. Today was a brew day and now I’ve got a batch of St. Maximus Wheat in the carboy. Here’s the recipe:

  • 6.6 pounds wheat extract
  • 1.5 oz. Tettnang 4.1% AA (6.2 HBUs)
  • 1.5 oz. Hallertauer 3.7% AA (5.5 HBUs)
  • Wyeast 1010 American Wheat

Boil for 60 mins., 15 mins. in add the Tettnang, 45 mins. in add the Hallertauer.

Chill and pitch the yeast.

Back In Texas

Technically today is the last day of my D.C. vacation, but all it was was a jog to the Metro station, a wait at the airport, and an uneventful flight back. I’ve unpacked and settled in, gotten through most of the e-mail backlog, and just relaxing.

Washington D.C. Trip – Day 7

The last full day in DC started out slow, got a late start, completely missing breakfast so I just grabbed some lunch at Union Station and then hopped the Metro over to Arlington National Cemetery. The weather cooperated, for the most part, but it got chilly and windy while I was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and even sprinkled a little while the changing of the guard was going on. After that I went over to see the JFK memorial and bumped into Robert Kennedy’s memorial on the way. I hadn’t even known that it was there, because the last time I was at Arlington was with my Scout troop, seeing it from a Tourmobile. From the Eternal Flame I went over to the Marine Corps Memorial. While there I took a few photos bracketed to try out some high dynamic range processing. From there I headed over to check out the carillon donated by the Netherlands and then back to the Metro station to get back to the hotel.

Dinner tonight was at Tuscana West and I can’t say enough good about them. The service was excellent, the food was fantastic, the dessert were delicious. If you’re ever in D.C. and want to have some good upscale Italian, please pay them a visit.

The rest of the evening was spent packing for the trip home. I’m ready to get home but still would like to stay a bit longer. There’s so much that I didn’t get to do, but that’s why there will be a next time…

Washington D.C. Trip – Day 6

Another early morning (aren’t I on vacation?) but I got ready and headed over to Sen. Hutchison‘s office in the Russell office building for a morning meeting. This one didn’t go as well as the one at Senator Cornyn’s office did because it was crowded and I couldn’t get time with the legislative assistant who handles health related issues. After meeting the Senator we got a chance to head on over to the Capitol for a staff guided tour. It was a lot of fun because we got to see some of the basement and ride the Senate subway over. I got to see parts of the Capitol building that I wouldn’t have seen, including the rotunda and some office and meeting space. I also ate lunch in one of the Senate cafeterias in the basement area. The food was good and it was definitely the cheapest lunch so far…

From there I went back to the hotel and got changed and hopped a cab over to the National Arboretum. They had a bonsai exhibit with many plants over 100 years old. The center piece of that exhibit was one that is almost 400 years old. Very impressive stuff. After that I nosed around the herb garden and talked to one of the staff about rosezilla. He gave me good pointers on places to start trying to figure out what kind of rose it is. Finally I went up to check out the Azaleas and got some good pictures of some of them, even though it was a little past their peak.

After a short cab ride home I hoofed it over to Cafe Berlin for some schnitzel and beer. The food and service were excellent. I would strongly suggest checking it out if you’re in DC some time.

Washington D.C. Trip – Day 5

I got up early this morning in order to get over to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to line up for tickets for the tour. I was the second person in line and so got my choice of tours once they opened. After that I hustled over to the Washington Monument‘s line and waited for them to open. Luck was with me because I managed to get a ticket for that one as well. After that I popped over to the Smithsonian Castle for a little breakfast and then got in line for the BEP tour.

The BEP tour was short but very interesting. The printing lines were in operation and the people working down below us were waving at the tours as we went by. It was fascinating to see paper money actually being made. Once the tour is over you’re routed through the gift shop (of course) and I picked up a couple things. I had wanted to pick up a couple uncut sheets of currency but carrying them home might be problematic so I’ll be ordering them on-line.

After getting out of the BEP I went over to the Holocaust Memorial and got a ticket for the permanent exhibit and then went over to the cafe for lunch. Security was tight at both the Memorial and cafe. Lunch eaten, I headed in to see the exhibit. It’s a very powerful, moving experience. I’ve seen some of it before, watching the History Channel as much as I do, but seeing it all in one place it really hit home. I’ve got my own feelings about what happened and why, but that’s a discussion for another time. Go, see the exhibit, and think about what you’ve seen.

I got out of the Holocaust Memorial with some extra time before the time slot for the trip to the top of the Washington Monument so I went over to the Sackler Gallery to see some more Mughal albums and Chinese bronzes. Afterwards I went over to the Washington Monument to get in line for my trip to the top.

The elevator ride up was just an elevator ride, though we did have a Park Ranger talking about some of the history of the monument and what we’d see when we got up to the top. Finally up there I can say that the view was impressive. I could see and got good photos of The Capitol, the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, The White House, and the Smithsonian Castle. The trip down was interesting because the elevator windows were made transparent every so often to see some of the stones placed on the inside by different states, cities, groups, and people.

That was the end of the day, save dinner, which was shepherd’s pie at the local Irish pub.

Washington D.C. Trip – Day 4

Got dressed up and went up to the Capitol for Sen. Cornyn‘s Texas Tuesday coffee hour. By luck I got to talk to one of the Senator’s aides whose specialty is health care. It was lucky because I had planned to discuss S.616, a bill which would close a HIPAA loophole. After talking there and meeting the Senator I went out and got a pass to go see the Senate in session and got to hear Sen. Kennedy speak for a little while.

After leaving the Capitol the next stop was the Supreme Court. It’s a really interesting building, and although the tour was short it was informative. I got to see the chambers and some of the other features of the building and took some interesting photos.

Right next door to the Supreme Court building is the Library of Congress. I didn’t take the tour, opting instead to walk around and see a little of the building’s beautiful decorations. I didn’t get to go in to the reading room, but that’s OK.

The last bit of sightseeing was actually the longest and most time consuming. I spent time on the west end of The Mall at the monuments. There were a lot of people at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with many touching tributes left by families and loved ones. I also saw the Vietnam Women Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, The World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. All of them were very touching and I’m glad that I took the time to walk all that way to see all of them.

Dinner tonight was at a restaurant in China Town.