Reign O’er Me, Rain On Me

showerIt is true that I have a bit of an obsession with showers. You may or may not agree, but showers can determine a good day or bad day. It is, usually, almost the first thing you do every day, so it will set the mood. If you have a weak shower with no water pressure in your house, well, that sucks and I’m sorry. Unless you actually LIKE low pressure showers, in which case you clearly are a Communist. Get out of the country. OK, I jest. But seriously, does anyone like a weak shower? Steph and I have done two bathroom renovations now and I pretty much give her run of the design, with one exception – I wanted a definitive say in the shower head. Because nothing – nothing – beats a nice hot shower with medium-to-hard water flow. Do you remember the Seinfeld episode when Kramer was buying shower heads off the back of trucks in New York City? He got one that eventually had such crazy water pressure that it actually knocked him over in the shower. This is what I want. I want my ass to be kicked by a shower head. The picture here is our current shower head. It arguably has the capability to literally knock you over, a la Kramer. However, we can’t bring ourselves to set it to the highest water pressure setting because the hot water actually runs out quicker. That’s kind of irresponsible, so we keep it about halfway and every morning, I am treated to 5-10 minutes of very quality showering. There you have it. A blog post from someone who has no idea what to write about today.

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Hi From The Sky

Today is one of those rare days that I got to do a full read-through of the Sunday Boston Globe. AND post here on the blog. That is for one single reason – I am on a plane. More on that in a second.When I used to read the Sunday Globe, it was literally all about starting on page 1 and poring through, page-by-page, until the end. In addition to any stories that interested me, there were always certain parts I read every single week:

  1. Starts & Stops was their weekly missive on traffic and the MBTA/Subway system in Boston.
  2. Around the Region – little tidbits on stories happening in New England
  3. Today in History – I’m a buff
  4. Weather page – see #3
  5. Opinion &  letters
  6. Weekly notes for hockey and baseball in the sports section
  7. Automotive section, mostly reviews on new cars
  8. ALL the Q&A’s: handyman, auto, etc
  9. The Ideas page

The Ideas section was invented by the Globe a couple of years ago and quickly elevated its way into one of my favorite sections. Every week I learned something. I hope I can pass on to my kids my desire to learn something every week via news and features. It will be harder when the Globe doesn’t print a paper anymore (coming soon, see post earlier this week), but I’m going to have to figure out a way to do it.

Regardless, today’s Ideas section had a very interesting piece about being bipartisan. It takes a devil’s advocate position to the trend  and makes you think about how important or not important being bipartisan is. My take is that it’s probably a little overheated and given too much creedence. Notto mention it’s truly only a hot-button topic once every four years anyway. However, in times like these I do believe coming together does play a more important role, this time as we determine what America 3.0 will look like. I do believe this is a hugely transitional time in our history. Anyway, back on topic: The Globe does cite some very very interesting positive historical events in our nation’s history that wouldn’t have happened without bitter partisanship. For example, the Democrats were staunchly against abolishing slavery. How about that?

Then there was this piece, about hard-core sports fan. A little less on the serious side, but fun to think about. Me, I’m somewhere in between fairweather and hard-core, if that’s even possible.

On another note, this is the first blog post I’ve ever written (and posted) while riding an airplane. Virgin America offers Wi-Fi for $12.99. So in between formulating term sheets, emailing co-workers and editing contracts for work, I get to blog and watch last week’s 30 Rock. Nice! The purple mood lighting and cabin is a little schlocky, but hey, dare to be different, right? The food is most definitely a step up from any airline out there. The satellite TV is not working, so I can’t say anything about that. Seats are comfortable. Legroom is coach is pretty standard. Turbulence over the Rocky Mountains SUCKS.

Can’t wait to get home.

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Make That A Double

Drakkar Noir is Optional
Drakkar Noir is Optional

I will soon be taking my virgin voyage on what I am calling “the world’s first true metrosexual airline.” Virgin America just started flying out of Boston in February and is getting some nice reviews, both for its creature comforts and excessively friendly customer service. I’m looking forward to it! I am a bit obsessive about flying. Since I do it so much and the company I work for keeps a close eye on our travel costs (we have to submit our flights for approval and yes, they reject flights sometimes), my choices are relatively limited, but I do my best to make sure about certain things, such as doing everything in my power to be sitting in aisle (more leg room) AND have a middle seat open. I’ll change seats several times in the days leading up to the flight. It almost always works.Anyway, I’ll report back on the experience.

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The Daily Post (dot com)

I find myself fascinated by how fast the fallout of newspapers (and magazines) is progressing. If you’re not paying attention, let me put it to you in a far more succinct fashion: physical newspapers are dying. I mean it. The largest daily newspaper in Seattle is gone. Poof. They have literally stopped producing a physical paper for the first time in 146 years. It is now reduced to a fully digital/web offering –  a pile of Associated Press stories and a skeleton crew in Seattle. If I remember correctly, something like 85% of the staff was laid off. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver – gone. Large daily newspapers in Philadelphia, Minnesota and Tuscon are on the ropes.The grand daddy of them all, the New York Times, is not expected to last much longer in its current incarnation for more than a year. A blip, really. It’s happening and it’s happening FAST.

Make no bones about it, we are living through a revolution here. The money people pay for newspapers was never the straw the stirred the drink – it was the advertisers who paid the paper to reach those eyeballs. As the digital shift continues, the cost in reaching those same eyeballs drops by 5-10x, depending on who you ask. Bottom line – income at newspapers is spiraling. The slippery slope continues – if you’re making that much less income, you can’t afford to pay quality journalists. Hell, you can’t afford to keep the lights on. And so it goes. Consider Seattle and Denver step 1 in a 200 step process. Much like the music business, where it stops, nobody knows. There will be new business models that emerge. I, for one, can’t wait to see how it shakes out. On the other hand, the traditionalist in me – the one who always envisioned having my boys on my lap reading the sports pages – is startled and sad.

You should read this article from The Atlantic. It’s predominantly focused on the New York Times and it’s terribly interesting, giving us a decent history lesson of what’s going on and some solid guesswork about what the next steps might be in the digital revolution and how it applies to the news business.  There will be options. It’s not like news is going away, it’s just that nobody has found the right solution to make it work on the business side yet. But if you weren’t paying attention to things like this when the U.S. Air flight landed in the Hudson, I think you’d better start soon, because that’s a solid hint of where it’s all going.

Did you read any of the blogs when Katrina hit? Or any of the Iraqi’s who posted their experiences on websites during this war? Again, there’s an indication. Do you read The Huffington Post? It’s not exactly, ahem,  fair and balanced, but they’re onto something there.

I see a time where our nations most respected journalists might be their own newspaper. Be it a blog or some kind of network of other respected journalists working together somehow, who knows. Oh, they won’t produce Sunday versions with Sports, Entertainment, Home/Garden and the like, but they’ll be one of many sources for your news.

There’s certainly a subset of people who probably don’t care at all about this – they never really read newspapers anyway. But I grew up getting a morning (and evening!) newspaper and reading it every day. It was part of the fabric of my every day life. I will  miss it dearly. But I am also terribly excited about being alive in a time when such fascinating change is happening before my eyes on a daily basis. No revolution is ever painless, but I do believe quality journalism will actually improve in the end.

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Food Ruts?

Chicken Mole w/ Green Beans
Chicken Mole w/ Green Beans

I forgot to post this from a few weeks back – February 25th to be specific. Pictured here is a dish called Chicken Mole with Green Beans. It’s a recipe we picked up way back in 2000 from Cooking Light and has remained a relative staple for us through the years. It is painfully easy to make and is a nice right turn if you feel like you’re in a food rut. Ever get in a food rut? It happens sometimes. You either don’t have the energy or the time to try new stuff so you end up rotating the same few meals for a while. Steph and I will have this happen for a couple of weeks, then we’ll go on a tangent where we try a bunch of new things for a week – then we’ll hit the rut again. The key is finding good enough stuff to make during the ruts. Our typical “dinner rut” rotation in the winter looks something like this:

  • Tacos (with either chicken, ground turkey or TJ’s pork carnitas)
  • Pasta (with any of the following: eggplant, sausage, mushrooms)
  • Stir fry (TJ’s potstickers, green peppers, mushrooms, rice)
  • Beans & Rice (goya black  beans and TJ’s brown rice with fried egg and sprinkle of cheese and salsa)
  • Pizza (TJ’s whole wheat dough with pizza sauce, fresh mozz and usually mushrooms and green peppers)

The nice thing about the rut meals is that you can add some stuff (and subtract) here and there so it feels like less of a rut. Perhaps “rut” is a bad word to use for this, because it indicates something kind of negative. Might be best to just call these our staples. I’d love to hear what your regular staples are in the comments section if you’re up for it. Anyway, here’s the recipe for the Mole w/ Green Beans (cut the recipe in half if it’s just two people eating):

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of boneless chicken breast
  • 1  pound  green beans, trimmed
  • Cooking spray
  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1  cup  finely chopped onion
  • 1  tablespoon  chili powder (optional)
  • 2 1/2  teaspoons  bottled minced garlic
  • 2  teaspoons  unsweetened cocoa
  • 2  teaspoons  ground cinnamon
  • 2  teaspoons  dried thyme
  • 1/2  teaspoon  sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 3/4  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Preparation:Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until done. Remove chicken and set aside, rinse pan (or get another one) and cook the beans for 7-10 minutes, add the chicken and keep on low. While chicken/beans are cooking, heat oil in another skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and the next 7 ingredients (onion through salt); cook for 3 minutes or until onion is soft, stirring frequently. Add broth, and cook until thick (about 2 minutes). Spoon sauce over chicken mixture. EAT.

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