27 February 2007

Sharpton and Thurmond

Al Sharpton and Strom Thurmond related. *snort* You couldn't make this stuff up.

Krispy Kreme Goes Healthy...er

So Krispy Kreme is offering a whole wheat donut, for it's health-minded clientele, no doubt. Chyuh. This version saves you a less-than-whopping 20 calories off their standard donut which has 200 calories and 12 grams of fat.

Call me crazy but when I think donut I do NOT think whole wheat. I just don't see this idea flying.

Some Krispy Kremes have drive throughs. Wouldn't want to burn all those calories getting out the car and walking through the door, now would you?

26 February 2007

Tiffany Tavern (friends/bluegrass/good eats)

We had the pleasure of meeting up with friends at the Tiffany Tavern last Friday. This Old Town Alexandria haunt has live bluegrass music every Friday night (the particular band changes but the music is always lively) as well as a fairly extensive menu for a tavern. It's not fancy and if you want a good table to see as opposed to just hearing the band in this small venue, you'll want to come at least a 1/2 hour early. If you don't need to see, any table will provide an earful of that mountain music!

23 February 2007

Infomercial Fine Print/That's "Vita-Meata-Vegamin!"

I have long been a watcher of infomercials. I admire the art. No really. It's not easy to motivate people to stop watching television and get on the phone and spend money.

I'm not what you'd call a buyer. Okay, okay, I've ordered two things off infomercials in my entire life. And I've been happy with both. Oh, wait. Three. Happy with all three. Okay... maybe I do have a problem.

But check it out: there must be over 100 different infomercials on these days. My favorites are exercise-related and I'm amazed at the endless variety of exercise equipment. I look forward to the ankle slenderizer and the earlobe toner as these are the only areas of the body not currently addressed.

I'm amused by the health plan proponents that look unhealthy and the diet gurus that angle away from the camera so you can't see their guts clearly.

If you're not watching, even as you surf by, let me tell you they have infomercials for vacuums, air purifiers, shoe inserts, makeup (lots!), ladders, drills, herb gardens, books, hair stylers, skin care regimens, kitchen gadgets, make-money-fast courses (lots!), diets, phone service, and oh so much more--even trucks, oddly enough.

And I've noticed a shift in how they market these days. Now they're very big on "30 day trial offer"s. They quote a low price for the money back guaranteed [less shipping and handling] trial period and never mention the cost if you actually keep the item.

So I went to a few websites to see just what people wind up paying for some of these items...

"GoSMILE Star Treatment Whitening Kit" for tooth whitening advertises a free 30 day trial. Free! [Just pay for shipping and handling.] According to the web-site, but mentioned nowhere in the infomercial, is the understanding that if you decide to keep your "free" trial of GoSMILE you pay $79.98. Plus the $9.99 shipping and handling. So that's $89.97 by the time you're done.

"Fluidity", a piece of exercise equipment that mimics a ballet bar and comes with accoutrement (DVDs, ball, pump, bands), is offered at $39.95 for it's trial period. The website says if you order it, you pay $199.75 [plus shipping and handling]. Standard shipping is $39.95. So this one adds up really quick. Even if you decide to send it back you pay $40 in shipping costs each way!


These items may be well worth the cost. It's just interesting to me that they don't even mention the full cost in the hook at all anymore. I can only imagine the fast patter you get when you call for your trial offer.


21 February 2007

VA Wine License Plates

Those who really want to proclaim their love of Virginia wine can now get a "first in wine" VA license plate. Check out http://www.dnronline.com/wineguide_licenseplate.php for all the details.

20 February 2007

Smell Affects Taste

While we were touring wineries Saturday, we starting discussing what affects tastings. Flavors mix and mingle and part of the pleasure of serving wine is deciding the right food to serve it with for optimal enjoyment of both.

One winery served oyster crackers. These have no taste to me and so were a good palate cleanser.

Another winery served vanilla crackers which I avoided, because I think it biases the tasting and I wanted to taste the wine without the rounding/softening/masking vanilla can provide.

Another winery served garlic toast with their wines. Although it no doubt biased the tasting, I love garlic anything, so I went for it and enjoyed the wines quite a bit. I rationalized this by thinking that if I were serving the wine with something I made, it would likely have garlic in it.

We stopped at a place that had a chocolate fountain set up in the tasting room. This worked well for foks with kids who enjoyed dipping fruit and pretzels into it.

Although we didn't eat the chocolate, we wondered if the strong, sweet aroma was altering our perceptions of the taste of the wine...? Where chocolate is often paired with intense reds, it's unusual to pair it with whites and we were put off by the taste of the whites. We wondered if we would have had the same reaction to the whites--if we would have tasted them the same way-- if the chocolate fountain hadn't been wafting it's strong, sweet aroma. Dunno but it seems likely.

Think I'll open a bottle of wine tonight and run a test or two with some cheese.

For scientific purposes only, of course.

Yeah, for the greater good.


On the VA wine trail

Despite the fact that our friends weren't able to come in for the weekend due to illness, we bravely went on and hit some of the Loudon County wineries anyway. We got to Chrysalis, Swedenburg, Willowcroft, Piedmont, and Lost Creek. Lost Creek was graciously willing to stay open for us when we called and said we were on our way. Glad they did-it was well worth it to us!

We had a lovely drive through that rolling part of Virginia. The wines ranged dramatically but all were drinkable and many quite tasty! We supported the local winery economy by investing in a dozen bottles along the way. And we had an excellent lunch in Middleburg at The Red Fox Inn, complete with seating near one of the many working fireplaces.

For a strange experience, head to Chrysalis and let them tell you the story behind Sarah's Patio White and Red wines. Also, they seem to be one of the few wineries in the area working with Spanish grapes. I look forward to heading back to them when their Albariño is available.


16 February 2007

Nobody's interested in seeing my treatment

I feel like an ugly starlet in Hollywood. Nobody is taking a meeting with me. I don't get it. They say "sure, sure" and then blow me off. What is it about me lately that is creating such bad karma? Sigh. This is about the third time I've tried to set up a meeting and have it fall apart before it even got off the ground. Jeez. I use deodorant. I use toothpaste. What's up with that?!

What does the Diamond Cutter say?...

"Problem: When you undertake some form of cooperative effort--project, business partnership, etc.--it doesn't seem to work out.

Solution: This is the result again of dishonesty. Be totally honest with your words and with your impressions."

Have I been dishonest? I didn't think so. Worth thinking about, I guess. Sigh. Really glad it's a 3-day weekend.

Produce Item of the Week (The Express Bake PotatOH!)

In the grocery circular this week:

"Produce Item of the Week

Express Bake PotatOH! are cleaned with a double washing process, individually wrapped and are ready to be microwaved. The exclusive SavorSeal (TM) wrap keeps the potato moist and it cooks up light and fluffy each and every time, just like oven baked! Perfect for today's busy lifestyles.

Express Bake


8 Oz Pkg

2 for $1"

I thought I'd seen it all with the "invention" of frozen toast. But no. Here someone has thoughtfully washed and plastic wrapped a baked potato to save us so much time! Hurray! Now I can finally get through War and Peace with all the time I'll be saving!


15 February 2007

Penn is gone (*sniff*)

Penn Gillette has been removed from the 7 pm slot on 105.7 (Baltimore) and 106.7 (Washington). What gives? His site says he's still broadcasting daily. This sucks.

Ask the Universe For What You Want

I asked for snow and I got it. Not as much as I would have liked but enough to say "Yeah, that's the stuff" and enough to get us a bit of time off from work.

Peeve: Driving all the way in to the office only to find out the status has changed since I checked it and I have to turn around and go home.

!Peeve: Turning around and going home. :)

Is anything more restorative than some unexpectedly freed up time? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

12 February 2007

B. Smith for Brunch

Sunday we met up with friends for brunch at B. Smith in Union Station. First of all, what a magnificent space! Great ambiance.

The buffet was so plentiful and tasty, we never made our way to the waffle station or omelet station. Excellent! For $30/person, there was a wonderful selection of southern and non-southern specialties. Everything from lightly fried catfish and collard greens and mac and cheese to french toast and scrambled eggs and pasta and... I could go on for a while... :) Everything was kept clean and freshly supplied, which can sometimes be an issue at buffets but not here.

Our waiter kept the included mimosas coming steadily! Very nice indeed!

It's a shame there was no one playing that pretty piano at the front of the room but at least they had jazz on the soundtrack.

All in all a most pleasant experience and a fine space to catch up with dear friends.

Hats off to B!

09 February 2007

Anna Nichole Smith's Love (?) Child's Father

"I'm Sparticus!"

"No, I'm Sparticus!"

Oh, wait, this isn't a movie, it just sounds like it with all the men crawling out of the woodwork to claim they were the one to father Anna Nichole's latest child. It gets weirder and weirder. Minutes ago it was Zha Zha's husband making the latest claim. I can certainly see why they'd all claim they slept with her. And now that famously beautiful body will be cut up for autopsy to see if she killed herself or someone else did the honors. Tsk.

How many people get top headlines on the news services these days like she is, even in death?

I can't help but wonder if Anna, who certainly loved the trappings of celebrity and sensationalism, would be proud.

How could it get MORE sensational?

Maybe OJ killed her.

08 February 2007

Winter, Where Are You?

What's winter without snow? Cold and boring, that's what it is. I'm amazed that it's February 8th and still no appreciable snow. My friend, the meteorologist, is hinting that maybe next week we might see more of the white stuff. Keep your fingers crossed.

In a Dilbert World

Due to budget limitations (I guess somebody's gotta pay for that war), the office cleaning contract has been cut back, meaning the laying off of two very nice people--which totally sucks, and the cutting back of some basic services. With regard to the latter, someone has decided that we need our offices dusted and vacuumed twice a week but the trash emptied only once a week. I just don't think anybody accumulates enough dust or carpet lint to warrant that much dusting and vacuuming. Meanwhile, my trashcan accumulates a whole lot of trash daily. Sigh.

Apparently I was one of many who proffered the suggestion that this approach be re-evaluated. So maybe there's hope yet.

06 February 2007

The Last Thing You Want to See When You're Sick

I spent most of the last week in bed with a cold that had plenty of fever, headache, scratchy throat, and lots and lots of sinus draining. I went through multiple boxes of tissues. I can say definitively that the very last thing you want to see when you are in this state is animated mucus.

Turn on the television and what do you see? Yup. Two different products now use animated mucus in their ads.