28 August, 2005
Shrill ring in the darkness (my mind swarms towards proper consiousness)! I grab at my C500, in a state of (island-fueled) high alarm and thrust it to my face, "Hello?"...silence...*scream*....static...*laughter*...at the other end..
"Babe? you okay??"....*laughter*...
"Hehe...I've just won a hundred pounds on the bingo! Well, 106 quid anyway...and guess what the winning number was"...?
(Here, my dignity takes over.... ;)
Get me out of here and on holiday, *please*...! It just doesn't work 2nd hand....GRR!
Up at six tomorrow...*nightmare*... :(
Oh and forgive me, dear blog, if I don't post a lot over the next couple of weeks (I may very well do so) but I honestly think that I am more severely in need of a proper rest (mentally and physically) at the moment than I may have been (thus far) in my entire life...and *everyone* deserves a break... ;)
27 August, 2005
Very bad pizza...
Originally uploaded by finkangel.
..."*Very* Bad Pizza" begins, I am afraid, with three simple words - "cook from frozen" - it doesn't seem that difficult, and frankly, this isn't the first time that I have ignored those very same words to my cost, but fatigue (today) lent me a very special, and most unhelpful hand...it may even have been helpless for me to even attempt to resist fate in this instance...
The endeavour *began* honestly, and happily enough, dear reader, with the simple slicing of garlic, the stripping and chopping of oregano and basil (those that survived the garden cull, at least), cleaving and separating simple rings of crunchy, fresh white onion, and the anointing of all with a drizzle of finest olive oil and a grind or two of freshly cracked black pepper...the oven, meanwhile, was waiting...it's temperature building...it's evil glow... mocking...?
The virtually silent click of the temperature thermostat switch on the oven (detected by my sense of hearing way over the (decibels louder) racket emerging from "LOST" on the TV) summoned me to the kitchen...I swung open the oven door, dialled in half the required cooking time (without even thinking) and slid (like a pizza chef, smiling) this (supposedly) easy pizza base into position on the wire frame shelf....
Fade back to "LOST"...
BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEP...
BEEP BEEP BEEEEEEP...
(dark environment, constant sound of the echo-locator-like motion detectors) Hicks - "Hey, looks like someone bagged one of Ripley's bag guys here..."
All the good bits of my dinner were on the floor of the oven, blackened trails of pizza cheese were stretched out downwards, burnt black and hanging, like "Alien's" aliens post-mortem molecular acid blood left the deck plating...dripping into infinity... :(
Just looked out at the garden (and really wished I hadn't) it's looking really wilted and sorry for itself...just don't have the energy right now to attend to it's needs...doing a small rain dance by wiggling my feet a bit...here's hoping...Zzzz...oh and all my Basil seems to be gone, a small note has replaced them talking of "fly infestations"...
On the upside, there was cold beer in the fridge and pizza in the freezer, and quite honestly that's all that seems to be terribly important at the moment...thank you flyingpops (who is probably surfing as I type!)...won't be long! ;)
Oh, and the Internet cafe (pfft!) at JFK wasn't broken, it was completely gone.... ;)
update - gave up and watered the garden (water-butt was virtually full!)...pulled out the now defunct courgette plant, picked the fresh ripe toms (and ate them there and then)...
26 August, 2005
...(barring complete disaster) was at the Park Ave. Country Club - and for it I couldn't resist steak (the first and only steak of my visit, please note! (if you ignore the burgers, which technically aren't...)) - 16 oz. Black Angus New York Shell Steak, served with french fries (and what looked like raw veg, only ate the bits I could identify though)...It came to the table with a knife suitable for Rambo (it had at least a 1.5" **wide** blade, astonishingly! You can see the cleaver more clearly if you open the pic up) and a bottle of what was labelled as "Steak sauce", not looking like "peppercorn" or horseradish, I tried a little bit on the end of my finger and it turned out to be basically standard English brown sauce (not unlike "Daddies")...so *really* for bacon and eggs, not steak...(it stayed in the bottle)...
The steak was perfect, the fries standard...oh, and did discover (thankfully!) during my meal (thanks to NY Boss!!) that I had booked my car to the airport far too late for Friday night traffic out of Manhattan, so I zipped back to the hotel super quick and managed to move it forward. This does mean though that I'm now out of here much sooner than expected and either looking forward to traffic jam, or airport for the last few hours of my visit...oh well, c'est la vie...it's been a great week regardless... ;)
This being the case, my next post *should* be from the UK (unless they have fixed the 3xPC "Internet cafe" (pfft!) at JFK (broken the last two times I tried to use it)...in which case I will post something from there)...
Goodbye NY...hello vacation! Woo Hoo! :)
...for supper last night, pretty standard affair really, Mr Tesco does a roughly similar 3 for (ARGH!! No pound sign on my keyboard!!!) five english pounds (it's okay, I can cope!)...it did come with a nice chunky blue cheese dip and some celery (which is always a favorite of mine, for some peculiar reason)...
Went up to my room really early as I had to get packed up ready to check out this morning (wasn't that much of a trial), turned on the TV to see what was on, I had watched a bit of the James Bond movie "Octopussy" a few nights ago (interesting parallels with "State of Fear" btw!), part of a "James Bond" season, and guess what, it was *STILL* "Octopussy" showing on that channel, just a different bit of it...lame, so I flicked around a bit and was interested to find the American version of "Big Brother" on, and it was eviction night...! My curiostiy got the better of me, but what can I say...I was stunned...
- They are in there in couples!
- They are all mortifyingly polite to one another (I honestly believe they could all have walked out hand in hand and lived happily ever after)
- Everyone is a well groomed, at least averagely-well educated, middle-class American
- There was zero public conflict in evidence
- Tasks weren't silly and were greeted with polite interest by the housemates
- Eviction is always done by internal vote and internal vote alone
- There are *NO* baying crowds, no hoards of ravening stalkers screaming death threats at eviction night
- All the lovely housemates leave tearful video messages of sorrow for the evicted party so they don't feel so bad after all (perhaps so they can't sue for therapy bills)...
- Everything is filmed in soft focus and there are kittens and flowers, and little puppies (okay, not really...but almost!)
So if you thought BB UK was appalling, heh, you ain't seen nothin'...It was all I could do to stop myself puking down the toilet...
25 August, 2005
...with extra meatballs, pepperoni and onion...fantastic lunch (not sure that the claim on their website that "Only God makes better" is totally acurate though ;)...and for a "normal" sized pizza it was pretty big! No way I could eat it all...
See the venue here...(stone pizza ovens visible to the clients, nice ;)
The weather today is absolutely fantastic, 27 degrees centigrade, light wind, low humidity...it's a pleasure to be in New York today... ;)
Oh and the guy on security has got used enough to let me into the building withough filling out a visitors form now, smiled and waved me through this morning, just in time for me to go back home...hehe.. ;)
"Urm, yes, I think I'll just have the burger tonight please" (still tired, opted for the "Black Duck" in the hotel again) - the menu read - "Herb coated signature burger served with steak tomato, red onion and finger fries"...sounded like just the thing (I steered away from the "Espresso smeared Filet Mignon", coffee and beef...not for me, even if it is their "signature dish")...
"Want cheese on that Sir?", he asked, "Urm, yes, alright then..might be nice", I smiled and looked back to my book..."so would you like blue cheese, cheddar cheese, swiss cheese, gruyere cheese or american slice?"...I looked up again a little startled..."Urm, well, now you come to mention it perhaps blue cheese would be interesting..." I said..."Great choice!", he enthused, "and how would you like your burger cooked, sir?" (well, you certainly don't get this in McDonalds, I thought to myself...) "Urm, medium I think, thank you" I replied. "You're welcome!" came the seemingly genuinely cheery response...
You've got to love America...(even if the burger roll did look suspiciously like a sticky bun) ;)
24 August, 2005
- starting with the Guacamole (described as "famous" by the waitress, listed simply as "made to order" in the menu), they offered us the choice of "mild, medium or spicy" and I confused matters by asking for a small amount of "hot", which I think the waitress took to mean as "warmed up" until I corrected my request -
- the "spicy" really was quite spicy, you could clearly taste fresh green hot peppers, much to my delight, and the "mild" was excellent too offering a wonderful mixture of lime and corriander after the initial obigatory avacado and tomato tastes. The main course I went for was "Tacos Asada" (the hotest one they did), which was grilled kobe beef with caramelised onions, cascabel chillies and more guacamole in soft, "homemade" corn tortillias, it arrived served with a small amount of rice, and what I can only describe as a "splat" of refried beans (probably the best ones I have ever eaten, but still not worth more than a poke with my fork, very unexciting) -
- overall yum again though...well done NY... ;) The three sauces you can see in the picture were mild (green) to habernero (super hot and darkest red) from right to left...hotest for me... ;)
As meals have gone thus far, this was definitely extremely tasty, however it was quite light as US dishes go (in my experience), which was a nice change... :)
...last night, if a bit early, managed about 2130-0500, bad bit was that I was feeling a little under the weather, as a result, this yoghurt I am eating right now (Raspberry, low fat, set) is the first thing to have passed my lips (apart from water and Earl Grey) since my bagel yesterday morning at 0730...still, am feeling a bit better as a result and "NY boss" has promised to take us out for a proper New York style pizza for lunch today (unless something else grabs our attention)...
Anyway, must get on... ;)
23 August, 2005
- followed by Beef Carpaccio with baby greens and potato gaufrettes, served with a lemon vinaigrette -
- now this dish was absolutely exquisite, roughly speaking it's razor thin steak tartare, but that description just doesn't do it justice...I thanked the chef personally (he was very pleased)...
I met lots of interesting people in the resturant, a couple of IT contractors (who I had a lot in common with), one of them opened the conversation with me by saying "Are you a blogger? Only I saw you taking a shot of your food...", a guy who travelled round selling copies of Adobe Photoshop (and was of the opinion that NY was a ticking timebomb just waiting for the next terrorist attack, which would be "the big one, buddy!"), and the very kind barman called "Matt" who actually bought me a drink (on him)...When he came off shift he took me and "ticking timebomb" out to a sports bar nearby for a few beers where I had the intricacies of Baseball explained to me (in loud, enthusiastic voices by the entire male population of the venue)...fun evening... ;)
The news today is dominated by a several million dollar plan to start installing CCTV into the railroad and subway systems here in the city, one New Yorker was quoted as saying "Well, it works okay in London, don't it? They caught the bombers that way, right?"...interestingly the cameras are accompanied by large signs warning people that they may be captured on film...funny, being so used to it in the UK, you can't move without being filmed... ;)
22 August, 2005
...is still covered in scaffolding...sorry Nate! ;)
Day went really well, think I'm going to have no voice left tomorrow though, did too much talking...and my head is spinning a bit (not half as bad as my trainee though I bet ;)
Looking forward to having a pint or two this evening and escaping into my book (think I'll have a salad in the hotel resturant (which is called Black Duck and is open to the public as almost a separate affair), will explode otherwise, all this naughty food!)...
- and considering it was a Sunday night, the place was absolutely heaving, spoilt for choice on the menu front, I spotted the perfect thing to try - "The Rib Sampler", in the picture you can see the three different kinds (all "Pit Hickory and Apple wood smoked"), the long ones in the middle were Kansas city style and were described as "saucy", the small ones on the right were Texas style beef ribs and the fat looking ones on the left were St Louis pork spare ribs, they were served with "Blue smoke magic dust" which looked and tasted like "Aromat" (if you have ever tried that), Texas Pete hot sauce and classic BBQ sauce -
- yum... ;)
21 August, 2005
- shot this out the cab window -
- as well as this -
- anyway, New York had definitely started to wake up -
- I stopped for lunch (after a spot of shopping) in a place called "Virgil's", sat down initially and just ordered a drink, got my book out and read for ten minutes or so, alone at the bar (quite content)...
I subconciously caught one of the other members of staff coming up to the guy that had served me my drink (and failed (at my request) to pass me a menu) saying "Man, I've got to hand it to you, you're really doing a great job here" (and angling his thumb in my direction)...I raised an eyebrow, while I tittered internally, and continued to ignore the pair of them (although I suspect, from that display, that it is the barman's job to keep everyone chatty and happy), not so back home, I fear... -
- anyway, hehe, when I *was* ready, the menu was amazing, offering such astonishingly foreignly monikered choices as "Jay Tee's Train Wreck Fries" (consisting of fresh cut potato, melted cheddar cheese, fried bacon bits, scallions and pickled jalapeños - all covered in Ranch dressing),"BBQ Trash Riblets"(?),"BBQ Chicken Wings with blue cheese dip" (sounded nice!) and the one that won my favour-"Chilli Cheddar Burger" (consisting of our famous hand made 8oz burger with Hubba chilli (that did it!), cheddar cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato and mustard coleslaw) -
- I took my time, savoring the feast (and no, I didn't want fries with that)...quite wonderful, especially when drowned in "Proper BBQ sauce" and the really quite nastily named (but wonderful to eat) "Heaven Hath No Fury relish..."
Wandered back to the hotel quite slowly, got to drag this day out as long as I can as I miserably failed yesterday...checked out "Blue Smoke" briefly before freshening up tonight and recon that is probably the venue for tonight...
It's just "man and camera" so I'm being extra careful...(well, a bit anyway ;)
Wonder what I should have for lunch...maybe a little pizza from somewhere...dunno, not really very hungry at the moment, might have a snack for lunch (there's a Taco place next door) and leave it till supper time ("Blue Smoke" tonight? Who knows...) only got myself to please! ;)
The view east when you walk out of the hotel (and stand in the road) -
- looking down Park Avenue (Downtown) -
- a real school bus(!) -
- a guy being arrested by loads of cops(!!) -
- Empire State Building again, observation deck shrouded in cloud, not much point going up there today -
- steam pouring from the vents in the road -
- and some more impressive examples -
- Fifth Avenue -
- Macy*s, the very large department store -
- roadsigns on Broadway (walking towards Times Square after getting a little bit lost, probably should have taken my map out with me!) -
- very tall buildings here -
- and into Times Square, all the shops during my walk (apart from diners, delis and drug stores) appeared to be shut, it doesn't look like anything gets going really until around 11am in New York on a Sunday -
- at this point, feeling rather dehydrated and sweaty I gave up and hailed a cab (with aircon thank goodness, the guy that took me from the airport yesterday just had the windows open *gasp*) back to the hotel to sit it out -
- was sitting quietly watching a bit of TV when despite putting out my "Do not disturb sign" the maid (who didn't seem to understand English very well) insisted on me leaving (by pointing out the door, waving her rubber gloves and saying "Please, clean room?"), so here I am back in the Business Centre...! I think the doorman is getting a bit sick of having to leave his post to let me in here... ;)
Well, last night I only managed to make it until about 2200 before my eyes were closing, had a quick bath (which was far too small to be enjoyable), then watched a bit of the "Discovery Channel"'s Shark Week (Myth Busters doing the movie "Jaws" and busting most of it, why am I not shocked...?)
Turned the light out and then proceeded to *half* sleep all night, waking up most widely at around 0230hrs US time (0730 UK) not too suprising then...
Finally gave up and got up just before 0600, spent a bit longer in the bath reading (found a trick whereby I can leave the tap running and it stays quite full, rather wasteful though)...came down for breakfast at 0700hrs on the dot (no newspapers on a Sunday NYC?) and had a freshly toasted poppy-seed bagel filled with low fat cream cheese, sliced ham, sliced turkey (everso succulent! Nothing at all like it available in the UK) and swiss cheese, some grapefruit juice, a raspberry set yoghurt and a boiled egg (why are all the eggs here perfectly white, what do they feed the chickens?)...finished off with a nice cup of Earl Grey (and a spot of milk)...
Probably won't want lunch after that lot, but when it's all layed out for you...well...you know... ;)
According to "New York Minute" the TV news show, we are in for some pretty nasty humidity today (it was 90% yesterday) and at least one thunderstorm this morning, clearing up later...I'm off wandering with the camera for an hour or two, then I might do a bit of shopping once they open...gonna take it easy today though, get myself properly rested for work tomorrow...
More later, I'm sure... ;)
20 August, 2005
- then headed in the "downtown" direction on Park Avenue (only about 1 block) to "Houstons" which seems to be on the ground floor of an enormous bank building (on par with the Natwest tower, no height regulations here!) -
- I went in and was met at the door by a young lady who told me that the full menu was available as bar food but there was a bit of a wait for tables at the moment, so I took my place at the bar, ordered a drink and was offered the menu...I smiled and told the bar-girl "thank you very much, but I am here on a personal recommendation" and she replied *immediately* "Oh, the Ribs? Yes, they are excellent, coleslaw and French fries with that okay?"...I stuttered an affirmative and settled down to observe the everyday folk of New York drinking, laughing, swearing, and eating large pieces of meat...and was just reaching the day-dreaming stage when a small waitress appeared next to me with a napkin large enough to cover my entire chest and lap, a viscious looking knife and fork and quite possibly the largest, stickiest rack of ribs I have ever seen in my entire life -
- with a strange green coleslaw and fried potato nothing like I have ever seen in France, however - "Knife and Fork" was quite right, this meat had been done "low and slow" as they say over here, it fell off the bone with the slightest of encouragement in centimeter thick, sticky, sweet and sour, smoked pit BBQ prepared slices...absolutely unlike anything that mistakenly bears the name "rib" anywhere in the United Kingdom and frankly quite delicious... ;)
Just back in the hotel business suite now (having been asked for ID to buy a can of Bud in my local shop which was rather flattering considering the age I am, and I told him so, and he let me off (passport is locked in the safe) ;)...I will shortly be retiring to my room for a bit of a freshen up and to read my book until sleep time, which will doubtless be rather soon in coming...(always takes me a day or two to adjust, even going this way, it's a hell of a lot worse coming home, this way at least the day just goes on forever, coming home, you *loose* five hours, that means that the night is effectively 2 hours long)...still, don't have to worry about that for a week...
Lets have a think what time it is in the UK right now...urm, about 2 in the morning I think...so I'm doing okay so far...a couple more hours and I should be right for tomorrow...hope you are all sleeping okay! ;)
Got extra leg room sorted at check in, no way I fit into any economy sized seat, although the size of some of the people (girth rather than height) that *do* manage to cram themselves in amazes me sometimes...
Flight began on time, I had an empty seat next to me (which was excellent!), and had a tiny child that refused to put on her seatbelt and cried constantly for about 15 minutes sitting one row behind (which was not excellent)...cabin crew eventually had to tell her mother to either force her into it or leave the plane, so the child was forcibly strapped in and promptly fell asleep...honestly...
I watched the first part of Michael Palin's "Himalaya", then a documentary about people who hear words and then either see a colour or get a strong flavour depending on which word it is (which was very interesting, it's called "synsethesia"), then watched about six episodes of a show called "Spaced" which was very funny (got the guy out of "Shawn of the Dead" in it), then a couple of episodes of "The Simpsons" and then it was time to land (they actually had a few episodes of "Lost" on offer as well, including the pilot (was that really a good idea for in-flight entertainment??)...but it all passed rather painlessly...the food wasn't too bad either, Beef stew for lunch and a chicken ceaser salad roll for dinner...
I was the first through immigration (could walk quicker than everyone else), and my bag was the first one on the conveyor belt! I knew exactly where the cabs were to be found -
- only two mishaps on the way into central Manhattan, first the taxi driver nearly had a crash and spent 2 minutes not looking where he was driving hurling abuse at the responsible driver and exchanging rude hand gestures, then we passed a broken down cab and had to stop and pick up the stranded passenger (who was from Belgium), so that lucky cabbie got two lots of 60 bucks for his trouble...
Anyway, apart from it being extremely hot (28 degrees centigrade at the moment!!) all checked in, room is about the same as the last one I had (which is perfectly good), my mobile phone works (phew, cos I forgot to enable "roaming" last time), the hotel has internet access (hence these posts and pics) and I'm ready to begin my evening now, which I believe will start with a drink in the hotel bar, move on to "Houstons" for "Knife and fork ribs" recommended by "B", and finish with a bit of TV or reading my book back in my room...
Good night... ;)
...just sat in the departure lounge and the fire alarm has just gone off! Looks like we've all got to get out! Chaos as the place is absolutely heaving! No staff are leaving or telling me to go and there is no sign of smoke or flame, so I'm staying put for the time being!
What a pain! Was just getting into my new Michael Crighton book! ;)
19 August, 2005
18 August, 2005
...electronic ticket reciept printed out, just got to book my connecting flight home from Gatwick to Newquay airport (going pretty much straight from New York on holiday to Devon/Cornwall)...
I like flying with Virgin, the entertainment package is awesome, last time I went to the US I watched a whole season of Father Ted (that I never knew even existed) and caught a whole season of Alan Partridge on the way home...!
Hmmm, do actually yet have to pack my clothes for NY and I got Jago and "B" coming over tonight for some Xbox and ISO fun...might be cutting it a bit fine! ;)
Oh and in an effort to get at least some things ready for my trip, at the weekend I packed my wash bag with all my essentials (razor, hair gel etc.), anyway, yesterday when I was going through the motions of putting myself to bed I managed to knock the washbag over and my toothbrush fell out and went straight down the toilet, so I actually ended up making more work for myself...bah! ;)
17 August, 2005
Looks like C4 are making some severe cuts (gore-wise) also...*tut*...are British people not capable of taking it? Silly bunnies...we will just go elsewhere for the perfect copy...
Oh and American people are formally banned from commenting on this entry...in fact, I won't even read any comments...(just in case of spoilers)...
I can only imagine the advertiser is trying to attract the attention of the morbid, violence hungry, "happy slapping" end of the teenage market...but watch it for yourself and make up your own mind...
Basically it's a teaser for the main campaign due to launch later in the year, I'll let you try and guess who the advertiser is...good luck (it is far from obvious)! ;)
...a very suspicious sign (in a dusty Kings Cross window) that I thought I would share with you...quite what packages are delivered to, and what "The Organisation" do with them will have to remain, I am afraid, a mystery...let your imagination fill in the blanks... ;)
16 August, 2005
"These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice."
It all could have been so different...reading it evokes feelings like Star Trek episodes where someone is mucking around with the timeline and changing history...thoughts of what they would have done (and what I would have done, had I been in that situation) if the booster on the lander had failed to fire...just open the hatch and walk until the air ran out? Move rocks around into an enormous tag hopeful that it might be visible from Earth as some sort of legacy...? I wonder if they gave them suicide pills...
15 August, 2005
Very funny interaction between the fish, who thought they were about to be fed (detecting nearby movement) and dog, who has never met fish before trying to give them a confused, but friendly exploratory lick whenever they came near... ;) Hilarious... :)