that damned green fairy




Image courtesy of St. George Spirits

It’s Monday morning, and I’ve only had about 2.5 meals since Friday night. Sparing you the details, I’ve been the victim of some fairly non-dramatic but persistent, uncomfortable gastrointestinal distress. Part of that is that I just haven’t been too hungry for the last few days.

Now I suppose this could be a symptom of some virus I got while being cooped up on a plane last week, but I’m going to blame something else: absinthe. The “green fairy” is now legal in the United States after a 80-90 year ban. Friends of mine managed (through some little trouble, let me tell you) to get a bottle of the first legally produced absinthe made in the U.S. since the ban. It arrived late last week, and we cracked it open on Friday night. My gut hasn’t felt right since.

For those who are curious, the drink itself was a very interesting experience. It’s made from fine brandy and a real witches brew of botanicals, including hyssop and stinging nettles. It starts out tasting very much of star anise straight up, and then clouds quickly (the so-called “louche”) when ice or cold water is added. With cloudiness comes more menthol-like flavors, until it gets thinned out, finally tasting sweeter and mintier. Drinking it was a very unique experience, and the stuff is very well made.

But you’re not going to catch me repeating that experience any time soon. I’m allergic to the pollen of several botanicals… and if those antigens is dissolve in alcohol… I fear that the stuff may give my gut an allergic attack. That theory is probably crap (as I said, probably a stomach virus)… but right now I’m feeling too caught in the net of coincidence. No offense to the outstanding craftsmen at St. George, but I’m not messing with that damned green fairy again for quite a while.

potentially spoiled

Greetings from the Land Of My Birth. Mrs. Geek and I are visiting for the next few days to see family and old friends of mine. We traded a bunch of frequent flier miles for this trip, and got to travel business class. This leads me to a problem: the experience of not traveling in coach may have spoiled me forever on air travel.

Oh, how the other half lives! Real glassware and flatware! Cloth place mats and napkins! Large chairs with leg room! Unlimited beverages! Edible food! Flight attendants who learn your name! I liken the experience to the difference between dining at a chain fast food franchise and a reviewed two star restaurant.

Of course, the people you meet at the other end of the plane seem to have concerns that are a bit foreign. I spent some of the flight looking over the shoulder of an adolescent who was working on a Powerpoint presentation discussing the pros and cons of attending boarding school, for example. Too many years of grad school training were the likely cause of the repeated urge to say “Excuse me… but some of those slides don’t present your point very well. Would you like some help?”But hey, that’s me.

In the end, I arrived at my destination moderately refreshed and feeling rather comfortable. This is something that doesn’t often happen after spending a few hours curled up in a seat in coach. Does this mean that I am spoiled? I hope not. I don’t think I’ll be able to afford travel in this kind of style again for some time, unless that lottery ticket pays off big!

MojoHD gives good Yule Log

Merry Christmas everyone!

I’m sorry that I haven’t updated much in the last week. I’ve spent the last few days trying to rest, and treasure the moment… the time leading up to Christmas itself seemed pass so very quickly. Mrs. Geek and I had the chance to get together with more than one group of friends over the weekend and Christmas Eve, which was very nice.

One of the higher spots of Christmas Day itself turned out to be the Yule Log on the MojoHD network. As I have mentioned before, I kind of grew up with the Yule Log playing on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and I know what separates the true Yule Log from the pretenders. The MojoHD Yule Log really delivers the goods — high quality (HD video) fire footage, coupled with symphonic and brass ensemble instrumental versions of Christmas Carols. It is tasteful and musical, offering something interesting to listen to, but nothing that needlessly draws attention to itself. Bravo to MojoHD for showing such good Yule Log!

there is a hex on me

I fear there is a hex on me. I hit a car while backing out of a parking space in a busy parking lot this afternoon. My car got a couple scratches to the paint. The other car its bumper scraped and front fender was slightly bent. I doubt anyone was injured. But the driver of the other car wanted to exchange information. I figure he’ll file a claim. I won’t.

How did I go from being a good driver for nearly 20 years, to being one who makes such regular user of auto insurance? Was I just lucky before? Or have I gotten lazy?

Mr. Toad’s wild ride

What can I say about the last few weeks? It’s been a mad house… almost literally. I’ll try to hit a few of the high points.

I spent the first week of December working on our bathroom. We got a good deal on some towel racks from Restoration Hardware, and those needed to be installed before we had our housewarming on December 8th. We also got a wall cabinet at Bed, Bath & Beyond since the medicine cabinet over the sink is woefully undersized. That too needed installation. This meant taking down existing fixtures, patching holes, sanding, and touching up the paint. Thankfully, I found a can of paint in the appropriate color left by he previous owners. The towel racks went up easily enough. The cabinet was a mess — we neglected to notice that the box was previously opened and taped shut. Someone had obviously assembled the cabinet before (at least partially) and one or two things were missing. Thankfully, they were standard parts, available at a hardware store. Installation went poorly, and I made and then patched an extra hole in the wall.

The housewarming went well enough. It was actually meant to be a combination birthday-housewarming party. I paid more attention to the birthday part, and Mrs. Geek (who wrote the invite) paid more attention to the housewarming. In addition to all sorts of crudites, I made a couple entrees… figuring that a few of our guests would be staying for dinner… and let me show off the capabilities of our new kitchen. Well, that didn’t exactly pan out… one of Mrs. Geek’s cousins hurt her back… another couple elected not to attend because of illness. The maid of honor at our wedding did stop by; we haven’t seen much of her in the last year or two and Mrs. Geek was thrilled to see her. Pretty much everyone had other holiday plans for dinner though… and we were left with a mountain of food.

It ended well though. We just invited some of the same people back for dinner on Sunday (the actual day of my birth). A good time was had by all.

The week since has been full of highs and lows. On the plus side, I got a raise. On the minus side, we got the bill for the sewer line replacement:
$9000!!!
That was over double the estimate. I’m not horribly surprised. I was told by more than one person that these jobs can run this much… and the amount of work they actually did was more than twice the day and a half that was originally projected. So, we got a big “Merry Christmas” from the plumber this week. The upside to all this is that Company O. stock is riding pretty high… so I exercised a few stock options and we’ve covered the bill.

My parents were awesome about the whole situation. When I called home late this week to check on some Christmas Lists, my Dad insisted on getting on the phone to ask if he needed to send us any money to help cover the bill. I was able to say that we didn’t… but wow, I am floored by my parents’ generosity yet again.