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Everything posted by JohnRgt

  1. Ice Cream

    Stellavision, Down the block from Mary's, on Bleecker, is The gelato spot in NY Metro: Cones. Their dark chocolate, hazelnut and caramel are beyond compare. There's also Il Laboratorio Del Gelato. Highly recommended, but not as WOW as Cones. (@ blocks east of Cones, one finds the nationally renowned Murray's Cheeses. Murray's carries Laboratorio pints.)
  2. I am going to give the neighbors estimates, but only after I build the retainers for the property I'm responsible for (I figured I could build these units thee or four times, and still bring the project in for less than the average quote I was given. If I'm not happy with what I can build, I'll pay for the "pros" to come in out of my own pocket.) I'll see how starting a little construction business looks after I go through the process with the neighbors. I do wonder, though: Can the people commissioning work be at least partly to blame for the ridiculous practices one sees in the building trades? Can the market's pragmatism be a huge contributor to the narrow-sightedness I find so aggravating? These tradesmen aren't incompetent. They just seem to think that their ubercompromised approach "cuts to the chase." If they have to handle the customer a bit in order to do what they know is best, well, they do. Example: When I insisted that estimates for the retainers include gravel backfill, drain lines, a runoff reservoir with an electric pump, etc, I repeatedly heard, "and you're going to pay for all that!," in a tone that implied that I had pushed them to the point where they had no choice but to be blunt. (Bad breeding on my part...) They seemed to know that what I wanted was the ideal solution. They just wouldn't accept that I was willing to pay for anything more than a robust concrete wall. That the building's foundation had shifted dramatically due to bad drainage didn't give them a moment's pause. That neighbors had taken the robust wall approach only to have these behemoths blister and bulge after ten years or so didn't move them a single mm. That the monster wall doesn't do thing one to alleviate the drain burden on the property seemed irrelevant. "You're going to pay for all that!" was where the argument stopped. At any rate, any densely populated area can absorb one more side business in any field, so I'll certainly be looking into making some income from my new knowledge and experiences -- if only as an excuse to buy more power tools! ;-) My thanks to all who have contributed to this thread. JohnRGT
  3. Arnold, Thanks forthe support. I should've made clear that by "my employers" I was referring to the food industry concerns I work for. The people who own the property won't be using it for some time. I'll have every little thing done long before they return. However, there are jobs which, once started, must be fiinshed ASAP or the building will suffer. Anyway... My solution to all this: Open a contractor business!!! ;-) There's too much money involved, and the work too important for solid character not to be a huge competitive advantage in an industry that seems to take its customers for granted. (I'm joking, but not by much. Once my neighbors saw the design I came up with for the driveway retaining walls, they asked for estimates...Mind you the design is textbook retaining wall. It's just that too many people in the building trades in this area don't bother with things like good drainage, collection tanks, back-up pumps, etc, preferring to overbuild the retainers rather than building them intelligently -- overbuilding requires far less steps, coordination, customization, and expertise.) JohnRGT
  4. More or less troops in Iraq?

    We have enough conventional firepower in theatre to send Syria and Iran back to the Stone Age within 24 hours. We don't. If the larger force isn't allowed to engage the enemy decisively, the USA will look even more inept than it looks now, emboldening our enemies even more. (Interesting side: According to interviews featured on a Frontline episode, the original plans for the annexation of Iraq called for "just" 50K US troops. The Pentagon was certain it could topple the regime with a force that size but increased it in anticipation of problems during the transition from totalitarian state to democracy. Of course, when our guilt-ridden culture mandates that every military unit over there have a lawyer with veto power embedded in it, effectiveness goes out the window.) JohnRGT
  5. Ice Cream

    HD's Mayan gets its full chocolate flavor form the swirl of fudge they've incorporated. The addition of cinnamon both accents and compliments the full chocolate flavor. (The play between cinnamon and chocolate really shows when this concoction is eaten at a very soft consistency.) Well done, HD!!! Now, can we add some ground chilies...? JohnRGT
  6. Homemade Häagen Dazs

    Homemade ice cream rules! I suggest that people use heavy cream and/or half-n-half that has "only" been pasteurized. Ultra-pasteurized cream and half-n-half have a very heavy feel, are harder to digest, and taste a bit like medicine. Worse, they don't always solidify as well as their pasteurized counterparts; one can't even make butter out of ultra-pasteurized heavy cream.
  7. Coffee

    Are you referring to their Beligian Chocolate Ice Cream? If so, I'm 110% with you. The also sold a mint version of this great flavor, to which they added a ton of finely shaved dark chocolate. This was easily my favorite HD flavor. JohnRGT
  8. Coffee

    For those of you who like your coffee dry, consider Gevalia's offerings. ("Dry," as in one highly refined, strong flavor on the tongue, some lingering, and as little aftertaste as a coffee beverage can have.) Though Gevalia offers all sorts of blends and flavors, I suggest starting with their Traditional. Gevalia coffee is formulated for a cone-shaped drip filter -- flat filters, French presses and percolators will not do. True coffee lovers love the sounds and aromas of every step in the coffee making process: opening a vacuum-sealed bag of beans; grinding; brewing; pouring; spooning in the cream and/or sugar. To these comrades, I say: skip the grind-at-home step when first trying Gevalia. Buy a bag of ground Traditional, and then see if your grinder can match Gevalia's grind. Gevalia, like many others, will send out a free drip machine to anyone who signs up for a scoffee ubscription. Their coffee costs about as much as Starbucks. It's also available in many gourmet shops and high-end supermarkets. (Buy Gevalia in bags, not in bulk -- too many suppliers and shops cut corners in their bulk sections.) BTW: Most Scandinavian coffees of note are on the dry and strong side. If Gevalia comes close but isn't perfect, consider other labels from the region. I hope this was helpful. JohnRGT
  9. Coffee

    Or HD's coffee ice cream with the fudge swirl... I'm not sure if it's still available, but at one point Starbucks had a variety of coffee ice creams on offer in the major supermarkets. The product wasn't as rich as HD's average offering, but the coffee flavor was far blunter. JohnRGT
  10. Skywalk: 4000 feet and over the Grand Canyon edge

    How do they handle the contradiction of the Leave No Footprint principle?
  11. All the world's a lifeboat...

    So many rationalizations, so little time. JognRGT
  12. SR-71 Blackbird

    Until just a few weeks ago, one could see an SR-71 "hovering" over Manhattan's West Side Highway. This incredible design was on display on the flight deck of the Intrepid, a WWII aircraft carrier than was turned into a museum in the 80s. The museum also had a Concorde on display. (Intrepid was recently moved to dry-dock for much needed repairs. A new and improved facility is due to reopen in 2008.)
  13. Happy Birthday Stephen!!!!!

    It never occurred to me: warriors do have birthdays! Happy Birthday, Stephen!!! JohnRGT
  14. Ray Sings Basie Swings

    Thanks. Stephen. You should see me put a menu together! ;-) JohnRGT
  15. Ray Sings Basie Swings

    When the Fantasy catalogue was sold to Concord Records, a set of tapes marked "Ray Charles and Count Basie" was unearthed. The tapes were through-the-mixing-board recordings of 1970s concerts that featured separate sets by these legends. Charles' excellent vocals on these recordings were salvageable but little else was. ("Charles", "excellent vocals": redundant^3.) John Burk, head of _A&R_, decided to fuse these vocal tracks with Basie Orchestra arrangements that were commissioned specifically for this application. After hearing the CD a dozen times on various equipment and at various volume settings, I can say that this ambitious undertaking has yielded wonderful results. Sure, Charles' vocals are a bit tinny here and there, the low end is a bit loud at times, and the "new" Raelettes are a little less "hard" than the ones we're used to. So what? Not only do we have twelve new Charles vocals, but they're supported by the Basie Orchestra in the Count's style. (Though Charles was inspired by Basie's arrangement style, the two never collaborated.) Who knows how much more great material is just waiting to be dusted off and put to good use? ($16.88 on Amazon, $11.99 at J&R)
  16. Tracinski on Editorial Page of Wall Street Journal

    Does anyone know if the bats Mr Tracinski uses to hit such homeruns are on display in Cooperstown? JohnRGT
  17. Ray Sings Basie Swings

    Last: The CD that features GPSEJ also has another good instrumental album by Charles on it, My Kind Of Jazz. Not bad for $12! I hope this was helpful. JohnRGT
  18. In Praise of the Hamburger

    Piz, you are sooo right! Burgers rule!!! When one of the wholesale chains (BJs, Costco) has shell steak on sale (~$7/lb), I trim the outer layer of fat, and grind them for the ultimate burger. A wood grill is best but since that can be such a pain, I use my trusty Lodge Cast Iron pan. Some pointers: -- Too many supermarkets and butchers add water to their chopped meat. Consequently, one gets burgers with little or no crust, and with a soggy, grayish interior (One sees this most on 90% lean mixes.) When possible, grind your own beef. (The other source of water in ground beef is the Wet Age proccess that's so popular beef meat packers these days.) -- Use meat that has at least 20% fat in it. -- Do not over handle the chopped meat; the less shaping you do, the better. -- Make sure the burger is at room temperature prior to cooking. -- Let the cast iron pan turn red hot prior to use. -- Use canola oil, as it has a very high smoking temperature and is flavorless. -- Do not salt the burger's surfaces prior to cooking. Salt will draw moisture to the surface, inhibiting the formation of that oh so desirable crust. -- If you like them thick, and who doesn't, lower the heat a few minutes after the burger has been flipped. If you don't the burger's drippings will start to burn, imparting a less than ideal flavor. The drippings will also smoke. -- Try to flip only once. -- Use an instant read thermometer to figure out when the burger is done. I like my 1.5-inchers to read 100F. -- Land-O-Lakes American melts the smoothest/creamiest of the national brands. BTW: Contrary to popular belief, searing a piece of meat does not seal in the juices. For more see Cooks Illustrated. JohnRGT
  19. While Sweden Slept

    From John H. From the weekend edition of the New York Sun: "When voices of dissent do break through in Sweden, they're often punished. During the runup to the Iraq war, the Swedish government censured the independent TV channel TV4 for running an 'Oprah' episode that presented both pro- and anti-war arguments. TV4 was charged with violating press-balance guidelines when in fact its offense was being too balanced — it had exposed Swedish viewers to ideas from which journalists had otherwise shielded them." It's so over, over there.
  20. From Lisa VanDamme’s lecture, Role of Hierarchy in Education: “Last year, my husband Tom tutored one of my former students, Kevin, who is now a sophomore in high school. “One day, Kevin came to their session asking for help in preparing for a test on protein synthesis. Tom went over the process with him, helping him to memorize the following: “‘Messenger RNA is synthesized by complimentary base paring with the oxyribonucleotides, to match a portion of one strand of DNA called the gene. Subsequently, ribosomal subunits attach to the messenger RNA, and amino acids are joined to form a polypeptide’ and so on and so on. “Kevin had successfully memorized this highly complex process by which a protein is produced, when Tom asked him a very insightful question: “He said, ‘Kevin, what is a protein?’ “Kevin had no idea. “This method is typical of every class, and every textbook, in every school I have ever seen or heard about, whether a public school, a Catholic school, or a Montessori school. I know of no school, other than my own, that teaches science by an inductive, hierarchical method.” +++ According to the lecture, Dave Harriman is responsible for VanDamme Academy’s science curriculum. “Dave’s is an essentially historical approach to science, because to teach it historically is to teach it hierarchically. The earliest discoveries in science are necessarily the simplest, the closest to the perceptual level. And later, more advanced principles, build on the foundation they provide.” A "can't resist" quote from the lecture’s Q&A: “One year, Dave Harriman taught science for me. [H]e was commuting from San Diego, so he could only come up once a week. [H]e was teaching 7th and 8th graders physics for three hours every Monday, and they maintained an attention span for three hours. So once again, if the material is intelligible to them, if they’re motivated because they see its importance, then they really have a big attention span. It’s grossly underestimated how long their attention span is.” Last, a point from one of Dr. Ridpath’s lectures: Adam Smith wrote Wealth of Nations for his 15-17 year old students! JohnRGT
  21. Handy Chocolate Website

    It had to happen, sooner or later: From the ad in this month's Chcolatier: "Having a chocolate craving? At you'll find a chocolate shop near you!! "In town for business? Locate a chocolate shop nearby. "Going on vacation? Search our global list of chocolate shops. "Plus interviews, reviews, recipes, chocolate making lessons and more!" (BTW: Chocolatier is a mediocre magazine. If I didn't work in the industry I'd cancel my subscription.) JohnRGT
  22. I just tried the milk chocolate from Lindt's Excellence line. (Extra Creamy, Extra Fine) WOW!! I'm not big on chocolates that augment cocoa butter with other fats, but if you enjoy smoooooth milk chocolate, consider this one. Unlike other Lindt milk chocolate formulations, this one isn't too sweet. It also has a faint hint of caramel about halfway in which I liked. (This chocolate would make an interesting mousse. One could add some dried espresso to "push" the chocolate flavor. Some diluted caramel, either incorporated in the mousse or as a topping, would also be nice.) JohnRGT
  23. From the CapMag article Carlos E. Jordan's first link leads to ( ): I'm guessing that if all primary schools taught science in historic sequence, as VanDamme Academy does, there would be nothing but CalTechs and MITs all over this land; that, and kids with little or no homework. JohnRGT
  24. Jokes Thread: Vol. 2 ?

    I got the following second-hand so it’s not verbatim. I also don’t have the comedian’s name. --- “Don’t you hate it when you’re reading something and you come across, `one thing led to another’?” “What do you mean, `one thing led to another’? You’re the writer. You have to fill that in.” The comic then looks at his palm as if he’s reading: “Hitler had an abusive, tormented childhood.” Pause Pause “One thing led to another…” Pause Pause Pause Pause “and America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.” JohnRGT
  25. I Hate Raking

    Both terms relate to something called "Seasons". For more, see OUD...;-) I'm responsible for a property that collects an incredible amount of leaves. A leaf vacuum, when combined with a leaf blower, seems to make life a lot easier. For more, see something called "Home Depot"...;-) JohnRGT