Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lunch Haunts - Under the Highway


My shop moved from our offices on Pennsylvania Ave. to the Constitution Center near L'Enfant Plaza a couple of months ago. I have just begun to explore the area in earnest.

Last month, I visited my favorite Smithsonian Museum, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and afterwards stopped at Independence Ave. and L'Enfant Plaza to take some pictures.

These first couple below are underneath the Department of Energy (DOE) which sits astride L'Enfant Plaza. I really like this type of broad boulevard with expansive views.



Looking the other way, you can see the newly repaired Washington Monument.


Interestingly, if I stood in the same place but turned the camera a bit to the left, the Washington Monument faded from view. I imagine it's due to the clearly changing contrast.


And here's the entrance to DOE. I also really like this type of overhanging building. It seems so retro-sixties futuristic.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If these people are agin' it, I'm fer it


I don't know a lot about Common Core, the state educational standards enacted a few years ago to "inject some consistency into academic standards." I know that they rely on standardized testing, and that might be a good or a bad thing. Like I said, I'm not particularly knowledgeable about it.

But I do know that Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and guest fake historian, David Barton, held a nationwide, live Fathom Events simulcast in theaters around the nation on Tuesday night to rally against Common Core. These are people who want to take taxpayer money, fund it into charter schools, kill the public schools, and teach creationism and fundamentalist Christianity.

That right there tells me that I should support Common Core. Because if those asshats are against it, I can't imagine I wouldn't be for it.

Oh, and "The event was sponsored by FreedomWorks, the tea party umbrella organization, and Liberty University, the Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell."

Yeah, I nailed it.

Ipecac Eats Burgers #7 - Woodside Deli


Woodside Deli is a small chain of Delis with locations in Silver Spring, Rockville and Germantown, MD. We go to the Germantown location on occasion and the last time we did, I ordered their Hamburger Royale. (In France, this burger is called a Quarter Pounder. Go figure.)



The Royale is a nice-sized burger, and not too big. As befits a deli, the pickle that comes along is really good. Unfortunately, whole pickles really don't work for me as I don't like having to slice them up to get them on the burger. In this case, however, I did.


The only real problem with the burger was the somewhat elastic consistency of the patty. I suspect it had been frozen, which isn't a huge problem for me, but the process does affect the texture of the burger. This was a decent but not great burger.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Presidentin' while black


“Both sides” don’t say things like this. Adults don’t say things like this. Most human beings don’t say things like this.
A senior policy analyst from an immigration-restrictionist think tank wants to see President Barack Obama not just impeached, but publicly executed, he told a sympathetic audience last week.

“There’s no court that will stop Obama from doing anything,” Steinlight said to members of the Highlands Tea Party. “And we all know, if there ever was a president that deserved to be impeached, it’s this guy. Alright? And I wouldn’t stop. I would think being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for him. But you know, this man who wants to rule by the use of a pen, a telephone, let us not forget his teleprompter … the fact is that it would backfire very badly and we’ve got to be grownups and accept that we can’t have everything we want, you know, [like] his head on a skewer.” Link
Yes, this is a conservative “smart-guy” talking to a Tea Party group. I’m amazed he had the restraint not to just say that he wanted to lynch the President.

Sorry, the good news keeps coming


Obamacare is a success.

This from the New England Journal of Medicine:
THE RECORD TO DATE
Taking all existing coverage expansions together, we estimate that 20 million Americans have gained coverage as of May 1 under the ACA (FIGURE 3 Categories of Expanded Health Insurance Coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).). We do not know yet exactly how many of these people were previously uninsured, but it seems certain that many were. Recent national surveys seem to confirm this presumption. The CBO projects that the law will decrease the number of uninsured people by 12 million this year and by 26 million by 2017. Early polling data from Gallup, RAND, and the Urban Institute indicate that the number of uninsured people may have already declined by 5 million to 9 million and that the proportion of U.S. adults lacking insurance has fallen from 18% in the third quarter of 2013 to 13.4% in May 2014.
If you don’t think that millions of Americans getting health care coverage, many for the first time in their lives, is a great thing, maybe you should do some self-evaluation. If you’re actively fighting to deny those millions their newly-won coverage, you’re a huge, evil asshole.





Monday, July 21, 2014

Ipecac Eats Burgers #6 - Home Edition!


So, by this time, I'm sure you're saying, "Ipecac, put your burger where your mouth is."

To which my reply is, "Mmmm, burger."

To which your reply certainly would be, "Hey, doofus, what I mean is what kind of burgers do you have when you or Carol are making them?"

Good question!


This is a typical burger at the Ipecac house. Usually we grill them, but this particular one was done in the oven by Carol. We use plain (non-sesame or artsy) buns and I put on lots of condiments, including mayonnaise. We season the meat with Bad Byron's Butt Rub, which is a delicious, in every way fantastic, seasoning.


The biggest trick, of course, is to get the burger not over-done. Usually I err on the side of not quite getting it done enough. This burger, made by Carol, was just right.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Les Miserables


The Montgomery College Summer Dinner Theatre's performance of Les Miserables last night was one of the best non-Broadway shows I've ever seen. Of all the shows Rachel has been in, this easily had the strongest vocal cast. The two leads, the guys playing Jean Val Jean and Javert, were fantastic, playing two of the most difficult parts in any show. The costumes were nicely made and evocative, the set design really clever and the light and sound excellent.

The only thing the show was lacking was more Rachel.

Rachel was in the ensemble and played several characters throughout the show. She had a few solo singing lines, mostly during the second act song, Turning. As always, it's a pleasure to watch her on stage. This fall, Rachel will be a Junior, majoring in theatre, at James Madison University.

Here's a good review of the show.


Ipecac Eats Burgers #5 - Bobby's Burger Palace


Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay has a small chain of burger places called Bobby's Burger Palace. We've been to two different locations and both were good. On this day, we were at the Montgomery Mall restaurant. 

This is the Palace Classic Burger, without cheese.


I don't like so many vegetables that I have trouble controlling the burger. This was right on the edge of uncontrollable with too much lettuce and an entire cross-section of onion. You can also see a tomato that I didn't have removed.


The hamburger patty was juicy, as evidenced by the grease on the plate and, as you can tell by the top photo, very appealing. Despite the over-abundance of vegetables, this was a solid, tasty burger.

War Cry for Progressives (and all Americans)


Senator, and All-Around Awesome Person, Elizabeth Warren said this at Netroots Nation this week:
We have to talk about what does it mean to be a progressive, an American.

We believe Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth, and we’re willing to fight for it.
We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality, and we will fight for it.
We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage, and we will fight for it.
We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.
We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt, and we will fight for it.
We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions, and we will fight for it.
We believe — and I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work, and we will fight for it.
We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America, and we will fight for it.
We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform, and we will fight for it.
And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!
Right here in this room this is where it happens. This is 21st century democracy. This is where we decide that we the people will fight for this together, and we’re going to win!
If you agree with this, why would you even consider voting Republican?

If you agree with just half of this, why would you even consider voting Republican?

If you agree with anything on this list, you should know that Republicans are against it. If it's on this list and it's important to you, then why would you even consider voting Republican?

The only way this gets better is if we vote Republicans out of office.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Rachel


My daughter Rachel is twenty years old today!

Right now we're awaiting the start of Montgomery College's Summer Dinner Theatre's presentation of Les Mis in which Rachel is performing. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ipecac's Emotional Roller Coaster


This is the seating area of the cafeteria in the building where I work.



Whenever I walk by, the thought of the potential for gaming at these tables makes me crazy happy.

An instant later, the lack of gaming at these tables makes me sad.

I am a gamer.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Awesome Speed!


We have Verizon FIOS. No one is using the Internet except me, so I ran a speed test.  Cool beans.




Ipecac Eats Burgers #4 - BGR The Burger Joint


BGR is a small chain that started in Bethesda but now has almost twenty locations in states from South Carolina to Connecticut . Sadly, their original location recently closed. These are the most "gourmet" of the burgers I've had so far. Below is their "The Burger", medium-rare, no cheese.


I dislike lettuce that spews out from the bun in all directions, and I usually tear off the excess.



This was easily the juiciest of the burgers I've had to date. I almost order BGR burgers medium but I can't bring myself to do it. This is a tasty burger with a nice grilled flavor.

The rest of my family really love their Greek Burger, made of ground leg of lamb, Tzatziki, feta, cucumber, red onion, lettuce and tomato. I've never had it but they get it almost every time.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Last Starfighter


One of my favorite movies from the 1980s is The Last Starfighter, an underrated gem that got lost amid the heyday of the Indiana Jones, ET, and Back to the Future years. I didn't see it in the theater but started catching bits of if on TV sometime afterwards. The scenes I saw were really fun so I rented it and immediately loved it.

The story is a retelling of the legend of King Arthur, but instead of a sword in a stone, a space combat video game, placed mistakenly in a trailer park by a hustling alien, recruits a young man to fight in a galactic war. It's Star Wars if Luke Skywalker had been conned into joining the rebellion by the Music Man's Harold Hill.

The Last Starfighter was one of the first movies to make extensive use of computer imaging as all of its space and space combat scenes were computer generated. For the time, the effects were groundbreaking, but today they have a little bit of a video-gamey look. That doesn't detract from the movie in the least, however.

But it's not the effects that make it great. The film is filled with wonderful performances, especially Robert Preston as the alien "Harold Hill" in his last ever role, Centauri, and Dan O'Herlihy as the hero's alien co-pilot, Grig. Both are obviously having a lot of fun with their roles and they elevate every scene they're in. They're just fantastic; honestly, these are two of my favorite performances ever.

What's more, the script is smart and fun. This movie has nearly as many quotable lines as The Princess Bride and several bits of dialogue make me smile just to read them.

Alex Rogan: And where were the Starfighters?
Grig: In the hangar!
Alex Rogan: You mean they're dead?
Grig: [scoffs] Death is a primitive concept. I prefer to think of them as battling evil . . . in another dimension.
Alex Rogan: In another dimension? How many are left?
Grig: Including yourself?
Alex Rogan: Yeah.
Grig: One!


I love this movie. I just ordered it on Blu-Ray from Amazon ($7.50 baby!) and will try to get Ben to watch it. I can't wait.

This post was inspired by a recently posted article on io9 about the movie. Check it out here:  Everything You Never Knew About the Making of The Last Starfighter.


Jesus at the U.S./Mexico Border



Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."



Whoa! Not so fast, Luccia. 




Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The latest Domino falls


District Court Judge C. Scott Crabtree on Wednesday ruled the 2006 voter-approved ban violates the [Colorado] state and federal constitutions. He immediately put his ruling on hold pending an appeal.
Crabtree is the 16th judge to void a state's gay marriage ban since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that the federal government has to recognize gay marriages in the states.  Link
That makes a total of 19 states in which same-sex marriage is totally legal, and another 9 where courts have found marriage bans unconstitutional but appeals are still pending. If my math is right, that's more than half of the states.

Give it up anti-equality folk. It's over. Same-sex marriage has won. Spare us all a lot of time and money and just quit trying to hurt and oppress people.

You can't stop progress.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Ipecac Eats Burgers #3 - Five Guys


Five Guys is big here. After all, they started in the DC area and spread to over a thousand stores(!) from here. I've always found them a bit overrated, and for a long time didn't go out of my way for them, for one big reason - their burgers had two patties. It was too much meat (that's what she said) and overwhelmed the bun and toppings. After a bit it was like chewing cooked hamburger alone. 

Then, about a year or so ago I tried their "Little Hamburger". Basically, it's the same burger but with one patty instead of two! Problem solved.

The Little Hamburger



These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago. Since the closest hamburger place to my new office is the Five Guys at L'Enfant Plaza, I tend to go there a lot.  

Five Guys cooks a consistently good burger. They don't ask how you want it cooked, so it's usually straight medium. That loses a few points from me, but it's definitely not overdone. The toppings are all good and I can order exactly what I want.

At the moment, I eat more Five Guys burgers than anyone else's.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Christianity! You're Doing it Wrong.


Some horribly misguided young woman posted the picture below on Twitter with the hashtag #HobbyLobby.




In response, someone posted this, which pretty much nails it.


Thanks to PZ.


Ipecac Eats Burgers #2 - Red Robin


If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago which chain makes the best burgers, I'd have said Red Robin. If you asked me that last week, I'd have been hard pressed to agree.

Ben and I went to Red Robin and it was an off night for the restaurant. Despite them being not too busy by Red Robin standards, the kitchen was REALLY slow. Like annoyingly slow. So when the burgers arrived, we were already frustrated.

Red Robin's Keep It Simple Burger

I like my hamburgers cooked medium rare. I have no desire to eat charred carbon burgers so anything medium or more is way too cooked for me. This creates challenges because some restaurants won't cook less than medium for liability reasons. Unfortunately, while Red Robin usually does a good job, this burger was overcooked. It wasn't horrible, but it was too done for me.


Once past the overdoneness, it was an okay burger. The toppings are good and I like their Red Robin relish. Not as good as I usually get from Red Robin, though. Maybe we'll go back and give them another chance in a few weeks.


Thursday, July 03, 2014

Looks like Divine Retribution to me


Gee, the Supreme Court allows a "Christian" corporation to take away health options from it's female employees, and suddenly a hurricane is bearing down on "Christian" North Carolina.

Coincidence?

Where's Pat Robertson when you need him?

On point reaction to Hobby Lobby


George Takei continues to prove how awesome he is:
"The ruling elevates the rights of a FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION over those of its women employees and opens the door to all manner of claims that a company can refuse services based on its owner’s religion,” Takei wrote. 
(O)ne wonders,” he said, “whether the case would have come out differently if a Muslim-run chain business attempted to impose Sharia law on its employees.”
“Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a business — and a big one at that,” he continued. “Businesses must and should be required to comply with neutrally crafted laws of general applicability. Your boss should not have a say over your healthcare. Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on ‘sincerely held religious beliefs’ there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue.Indeed, this is the same logic that certain restaurants and hotels have been trying to deploy to allow proprietors to refuse service to gay couples.”  Link

Damn right!

Why we're doomed: Political ignorance edition


As I've said before on this blog, the only way out of the reality-denying, conservative, mean-spirited, austerity hole we're stuck in is through voting. Only when the Republicans are voted out of office will we get to enact sane policies. And, maybe at that point, Conservatives will come back to the political Center, rather than live on the radical Right.

Unfortunately, many Americans are so ill-informed, and the media so disengaged, that relief seems a long way away.
The health of a democracy is dependent on an educated citizenry. Political illiteracy is the manure for the flourishing of political appeals based on sheer ignorance.
...
Ignoring the self-delusion of the latter part of the above text, Brat now joins no less than 200 million Americans, according to a number of polls, who believe the U.S. Constitution and our laws are based on Judeo-Christian values. On any given Sunday you will hear Christian-right politicians claim absurdly that U.S. laws are based on the Bible. Spoiler alert: they’re dead wrong. The Constitution’s secular provisions came into being thanks to the Founding Fathers, who shared a deep suspicion of both organized religion and the supernatural. The Constitution was framed with a conscious omission of any mention of God and a prohibition of all religious tests for public office. Moreover, the First Amendment’s declaration that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” embodied the founders’ view that religion has no place in the political domain.
That not a single major media outlet bothered to correct Brat’s ignorance represents America’s continual decline in American civic and cultural literacy.
...
A 2007 National Constitutional Center poll found that two-thirds of Americans couldn’t name all three branches of the U.S. federal government, nor a single Supreme Court justice. Another poll found that 91 percent couldn’t name the current Chief Justice, which is staggering considering the number of high profile, politically polarizing cases deliberated upon by the nation’s highest court in recent years – including the rulings on the Affordable Care Act, same-sex marriage and campaign finance laws.

Americans are Dangerously Politically Ignorant - The Numbers are Shocking

It's depressing, but you should read the whole thing.


Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Ipecac Eats Burgers #1 - Checkers


My favorite food is the hamburger. Without question, without competition. The hamburger is the perfect blend of bread, meat, and vegetables. Some days, I'll have hamburgers for lunch and dinner. I occasionally have hamburgers four or five times a week.

I'm not a huge fan of "exotic" burgers. I don't like bacon or cheese on my burgers, much less guacamole or a fried egg. If I have the choice, I order ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickles, onion. I also don't care for huge buns, as they tend to make the whole thing somewhat dry and too bready. I'm a very "meat and potatoes" kind of guy with my favorite food.

With that in mind, over the next few weeks I'm going to document my hamburger consumption in an effort to identify the best burger (among those I eat). I am not especially fussy, so you'll see everything from fast food to gourmet burgers. I'm also not a food critic, so I won't go on and on about texture and seasoning levels. I'm just going to show some pictures and give a couple of thoughts.

First up, the national drive-in chain, Checkers.

This is the Champ Burger, no cheese.


Honestly, not too inspiring. For a fast food burger, it's not too flattened out, but it's showing very little personality.


This is a better vantage. You can see lots of pretty good vegetables.

Checkers burgers always surprise me with how good they are. They don't look fantastic but they're always juicy and I really love the taste of the meat; they must be spiced with something. Checkers' Champ burger is also one of the few burgers where I like the tomatoes enough to leave them on.

All in all, a good burger that I always enjoy.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today's the Day! Everything is better edition.


Woo hoo! Today we get to watch the Supreme Court destroy unions in America and grant corporations religious rights to determine whether or not their employees get to take birth control! (And surgery, psychiatry, blood transfusions, etc.)

USA!  USA!  USA!


/sarcasm

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Matrix and its ill-formed progeny


I saw The Matrix in the theater when it came out. I hated it. The story is dark, depressing, filled with nonsense philosophy, terrible dialogue, ACTING!, and there are plot holes aplenty. It's got loads of "style", but that's about all it's got. I didn't bother to see the even worse sequels when they came out but did eventually see them on video.

Since then, I've developed a sort of hate-watch habit. If one of the Matrix movies is on TV, I'll watch it for a while, while shaking my head in disbelief at how bad it is.

AMC had the The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded on today so I watched some of both. One of the things that really bugs me is that once Neo is made, more or less, into Superman at the end of the first movie, there's no real point to ANY of the subsequent fight scenes in the sequels. Watching Neo and Agent Smith punch each other to absolutely no effect gets really old, really fast.

After seeing the first movie, before the second movie came out, I presumed that the over-the-top gun battles and fist fights would disappear in favor of something more suited to what Neo's abilities had become, some sort of supernatural, cybernetic, software combat. Nope. With a stunning lack of imagination, they just had Neo fight more guys at the same time. Sure, the fight scenes are well choreographed and executed, but there are no stakes whatsoever. And it doesn't make sense for indestructible entities to just keep pummeling and shooting at each other. (Ahem. Did you hear that Man of Steel?)

Thus ends my rant over a 15 year old movie franchise.