Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Random notes: April 8, 2014.

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

For the historical record, your Mickey Rooney obit roundup: NYT. LAT. A/V Club.

The author Peter Matthiessen has also passed away after an illness. The only work of Matthiessen’s that I’ve read so far is In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, which made a strong impression on me at the time. Further, I say not, as I’d sound too much like TJIC. Anyway: A/V Club. NYT. NYT Magazine article published shortly before Matthiessen’s death.

Thanks to “That Guy” for providing a Houston Press link with more details about the Damian Mandola story. There’s also an update in the Statesman: Austin Eater has a story which links to the Statesman, so this may let you get around the paywall.

…security researchers say that in most cases, attackers hardly need to go to such lengths when the management software of all sorts of devices connects directly to corporate networks. Heating and cooling providers can now monitor and adjust office temperatures remotely, and vending machine suppliers can see when their clients are out of Diet Cokes and Cheetos. Those vendors often don’t have the same security standards as their clients, but for business reasons they are allowed behind the firewall that protects a network.
Security experts say vendors are tempting targets for hackers because they tend to run older systems, like Microsoft’s Windows XP software. Also, security experts say these seemingly innocuous devices — videoconference equipment, thermostats, vending machines and printers — often are delivered with the security settings switched off by default. Once hackers have found a way in, the devices offer them a place to hide in plain sight.

Heh. Heh. Heh. (Also: remember some jerk saying “Titles like ‘Restaurant IT Guy’ or ‘SysAdmin for Daniel’ are going to become a thing, if they aren’t already.”? I didn’t even think about the “Hey, let’s put malware on the server for that Chinese place that everyone orders from! That’ll give us a back door into the Federal Reserve!” scenario.)

Al Sharpton: FBI informant.

More tales from the police blotter.

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

You may have heard of Damian Mandola. He and his nephew Johnny Carrabba have had cooking shows on PBS. The Mandola family are prominent restaurant operators, and the Carrabba’s chain was founded by Johnny and Damian. Damian also has a local chain, “Mandola’s Italian Market”, that I kind of like, and a higher-end Italian place in Driftwood closer to the Salt Lick, Trattoria Lisina.

Damian Mandola is also at the center of one of the more interesting local crime stories I’ve seen in a while.

The story starts on Thursday. Local law enforcement responded to a report of someone driving a golf cart erratically in the area of Trattoria Lisina. This led to Damian being taken into custody and charged with burglary; specifically, he is alleged to have broken into a building at the Dutchman Family Winery (which is next to Lisina but not owned by Damian) and stolen some wine. Other reports I’ve seen put the amount stolen at one or two bottles, which is odd; if he just wanted a couple of bottles of wine, surely Lisina would have that on hand?

So this is already odd enough. But I was talking about the story with my mother this morning, went to look up the press reports, and…

Damian Mandola was arrested again last night, after putting up bail on the burglary charge. This time, the charges are assault with a deadly weapon and “criminal mischief”.

There’s not a whole lot of detail so far about the sequence of events, and I haven’t seen any reporting except for brief stories in the Statesman and HouChron. It is worth repeating that these are just charges, and Mr. Mandola deserves the presumption of innocence. On the other hand, I doubt the Hays County Sheriff’s Office goes around picking up prominent business owners for no reason. And an ADW charge implies both that there was an assault, and the assault victim could identify their attacker (or that there was other physical evidence tying someone to the attack).

This is a darn shame. I really do like Damian’s ventures other than Carrabba’s. (I also like Carrabba’s, but I don’t think he or anyone else from the family is involved in managing it any longer.)

It is sad and odd and I hope it gets straightened out for the better.

Random notes: April 2, 2014.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Flames! Flames!

Whether Gray directed the scheme that has resulted in five of his top aides going to prison, or, as he contends, was ignorant of what was being done in his name, Democratic voters punished the mayor for the scandal, choosing instead a relatively unknown D.C. Council member, Muriel Bowser (Ward 4).

Obit watch: Charles Keating, of S&L scandal fame.

More flames!

…an uncommon sequence of events, including a cabinet appointment, an election and a corruption inquiry, has led Charlotte [NC] to the point where it will soon have its fourth mayor in less than a year.

The most recent mayor, Patrick D. Cannon, was arrested last week on public corruption charges and resigned.

In Ms. McCabe’s 15 years as an ambassador of the deuce, she has been flatly rejected at a bowling alley on Staten Island, was told to pay with something else at a bar in the East Village and is constantly solicited by people who want to buy her bills.

But has Ms. McCabe ever tried to use a $2 bill at a Taco Bell?

I wanted to link to, and comment on, the latest entries into the National Recording Registry, but the LOC didn’t have them up when I was working on this post earlier today. Now that they are up…well, I’m kind of curious about “Only Visiting This Planet” and “Copland Conducts Copland: Appalachian Spring” (I have recordings of “Appalachian Spring” but not that one). I think the original cast recording of “Sweeney Todd” is probably a good choice, and, yes, even though I think it has been overplayed, I can see putting Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” on the list.

Also: Shaft!

The only one that I really boggle at is “The First Family”. Not that I have anything against comedy, but is that album really memorable or significant? Especially when compared against some of the other comedy entries? Or is this just folks feeling bad (and perhaps rightly so) for poor Vaughn Meader?

Obit watch and other random notes for March 18, 2014.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Clarissa Dickson Wright. Damn, this sucks. I was a fan of “Two Fat Ladies”.

For the record, here’s your David Brenner obit: I’ve been just a touch busy. Sorry.

Part of that busy has involved visiting various Half-Price Books locations: would you believe I can’t find a used copy of Fatal Vision? It used to be all over the place…

Once again, I don’t care about college basketball. Once again, I’m rooting for Gonzaga just because I like saying “Gonzaga!” I think this might be their year. And, once again, I’ve bet Lawrence $5 that Gonzaga will win the championship.

And baseball season is about to get started as well. Everyone knows what that means: yes, I’ve also bet Lawrence $5 that the Cubs will win the World Series.

Bad day for rat-like creatures.

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Quiznos has followed Sbarro into Chapter 11.

How about a completely amusical interlude that explains why Quiznos went bankrupt? At least, many people I know date the start of the chain’s decline to this:

(And I had not heard of “Hot Dog on a Stick”, so I wasn’t even aware they’d gone Chapter 11, too.)

Changing the face of dining.

Friday, January 31st, 2014

We have a noodle truck at the office on Thursdays.

The Forbidden. Beef stewed for four hours in an Indonesian-style red curry. DFG Noodles, Austin, Texas.

The Forbidden. Beef stewed for four hours in an Indonesian-style red curry. DFG Noodles, Austin, Texas.

And it is pretty damn good.

And they take credit/debt cards. You’ve seen it before, haven’t you? iPad with a credit card swiper, pick your tip, sign, have your receipt emailed to you?

This observation isn’t original to me, and I’m not sure it is terribly profound, but: services like Square have revolutionized credit card processing. I remember the old days, when setting up a merchant account was hard to do, and you needed a phone line, and you needed bulky equipment, and the credit card processors charged enormous fees. Now? I’m kind of far from retail, so I’m not sure if Square has resulted in downward pressure on fees (though I suspect it has).

Someone I know who is in retail and takes credit cards reviewed an early draft of this post and provided this information: they pay 2.61% for credit card processing, but each month’s statement also contains a laundry list of “cryptic inexplicable fees” that they have to pay as well. Square claims to charge a flat 2.75% for swiped transactions (Visa, MC, AmEx, Discover) with no additional fees. (I say “claims” because I have not used Square and can’t verify that for myself.)

Square also claims to deliver your money in one to two business days, no matter what type of card it is. The retail person I know says that AmEx fees depend on how long you let AmEx keep your money: they let AmEx hold their money for 15 days, and pay between 2% and 3%.

But fees aside, anyone who has a bank account can take credit cards these days, and all you need is an iPhone or iPad (or a supported Android device, though frankly that looks a little painful). Little to no bulk, no landline, and the money goes into your linked bank account.

The big thing, as I see it, isn’t the merchant charges: it is the portability. Your credit card machine is your phone or tablet, and it fits in a trailer. Or in a pocket. And you don’t need anything else – you don’t even need a printer, you can just email receipts to your customers. (Okay, you might want a charging cable, depending on how good battery life is on your device. But other than that, nothing.)

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TMQ Watch: January 28, 2014 (part 2).

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Where were we? Oh, yes: cheerleaders.

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TMQ Watch: January 21, 2014.

Friday, January 24th, 2014

It is official. It is now impossible for us to care any less about the Super Bowl (or, as some are calling it, “The Pot Bowl”) than we do now.

But we still have this week’s TMQ to get through after the jump…

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Crossing the streams again.

Friday, January 17th, 2014

You know what I want?

A 3D printed chocolate gun that shoots.

(Yeah, I know: Hershey’s chocolate probably won’t be able to withstand the chamber pressure of even a .22LR round. But if a man can’t dream, what’s Heaven for?)

Bread blogging: experiment #1

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

This requires some background.

One of my Christmas presents was a box of smoked meat from Goode Company Barbecue in Houston. The meat itself has been very good so far. But included with the meat was a loaf of Goode Company’s Jalepeno Cheddar bread.

I was warned in advance: “This stuff is addictive. You’ll find yourself eating the whole loaf in one sitting.” Well, I wasn’t quite that bad (it took two sittings to finish the loaf), but it is very very good bread. I wouldn’t put it at the “crack cocaine” level; that’s reserved for Caramel deLites (or Samoas, depending on which part of the country you’re in). It is even better if you toast it and spread some of Trader Joe’s Pub Cheese on the toast, but that’s a digression.

(And by the way, Girl Scout cookie season is upon us again.)

Anyway, after I finished the loaf, I found myself saying the following: “Hey! I have a bread machine! How hard could it be to replicate their bread?”

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New year, new list.

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

I wasn’t all that wild about what the NYT did with this year’s “The Lives They Led” obituary roundup.

But this, this is a swell article:

But the diesel engine was too loud, and the Anna Mary, on autopilot, moving due south at six and a half knots, was already out of reach, its navigation lights receding into the night. Aldridge shouted once more, panic rising in his throat, and then silence descended. He was alone in the darkness. A single thought gripped his mind: This is how I’m going to die.

One aspect of this that fascinates me: the Coast Guard’s use of computers in search and rescue.

The Coast Guard has used computer simulations in search and rescue since the mid-1970s, but Sarops has been in use since only 2007. At its heart is a Monte Carlo-style simulator that can generate, in just a few minutes, as many as 10,000 points to represent how far and in what direction a “search object” might have drifted. Operators input a variety of data, from the last known location of a lost mariner to the ocean currents and wind direction. Sarops then creates a map of a search area — in this case, of the ocean south of Montauk — with colored squares representing each potential location for the search object. Red and orange squares represent the most likely locations; gray squares represent the least likely.

Behold!

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

The awesome power of cheese!

“You want to use provolone or mozzarella,” said Jeffrey A. Tews, the fleet operations manager for the public works department, which has thrice spread the cheesy substance in Bay View, a neighborhood on Milwaukee’s south side. “Those have the best salt content. You have to do practically nothing to it.”