My Baby, All Grown Up

That building I worked on and showed pictures of to you for a couple years has one an award from the Downtown Denver Partnership. Here's a little video they put together for the occasion. (Yes, I'm cross posting this with FB, mainly because I have a couple readers who, while on Facebook, never go there -- I'm lookin' at you, Ruthie...)

To watch without the side chopped off, you can view the video at the original link or on YouTube.


Project Eyeball Repair, Part 1

Companion piece to Jen Amber's extensive posts about her experience (1, 2, 3, 4):

This week I am going to get my eyes fixed.
After 27 years of wearing glasses and 23 years of wearing contact lenses, I will no longer be a "four-eyes." Though I don't actually recall being teased for having glasses, I am self-conscious in them. I don't feel at my best when wearing them. After the surgery, I won't feel fuzzy in the morning because the world around me is fuzzy (a gal I know said she used to use that fuzziness to shut out the world when she needed to focus on what was immediately in front of her). I won't have to worry about "what if my glasses break" or "what if I lose my contact lens". I won't have to worry about getting water in my eyes when I'm swimming or SCUBA diving. I won't have to carry a tiny screwdriver to tighten that loose screw in my glasses. I won't have to worry about carrying a contact lens case, airport approved size bottle of cleaner, and my glasses with me when I travel. And most of all, I won't have to worry about finding my glasses when I've misplaced them and can't see diddly.

So, how did I find the right place to go? I researched. I went to three different places before I found the right one.
The first place I went, Icon Lasik, was recommended by a former coworker, but seemed too "assembly-line" like. It ended up being the cheapest, about half the price of the other two. I decided to keep looking, just to see what else was out there.
The second place I went, Lakewood Eye Clinic, was recommended by three coworkers. It was much more personal than the other, but I still felt a little rushed and they were a little off-hand about everything. They also dilated my eyes with a much stronger substance than I'm used to and I was still having focusing issues 24 hours later (with no forewarning of a difference). This seemed careless to me. There was a delay in the scheduling, so I decided to keep looking.
The third place I went, Spivak Vision Center, was a place that initially had nothing more to recommend it than some good commercials on the radio. The process of evaluation, however, went smoothly, unrushed, with every test and every result explained. I happen to love information. Facts are what I use to make a majority of decisions in my life. Preprocessed or overly simplified information put me on my guard. The technicians and doctor I talked to at Spivak were clear and personable and most importantly, informative. They gave you a card for your records that had the name of every person you interacted with during your evaluation experience. I didn't feel rushed and though it was the most expensive of the three places, I found myself feeling like I was buying the best service, not like I was being squeezed for every penny. Best of all, they were happy to work with my usual eye doctor (who I like very much as he is extremely thorough and informative as well) for my pre- and post-operation examinations.

So, on Thursday, I will be driven to the surgery by my good friend, Stacey, and a careful and experienced surgeon will give me a highly customized surgery to fix my eyeballs!


Driving off the Goths

On Saturday morning, I went to counter protest the Westboro Baptist Church. (Google them if you are curious. I'm not going to link to them here.) They are a bunch of extremists whose basic premise is the God hates homosexuals so much that he is destroying America for its tolerance of them and blacks, Jews, and pretty much everyone else who is not like them. (Where people get the idea that God and Jesus are white and the Bible was originally written in English is beyond me. I won't even get into their missing the point of Christ's message of universal love.) They came to Denver for a long weekend to protest various places and on Saturday (the Jewish sabbath, I'd like to point out) they decided to protest at several Jewish temples and community centers.

Here's how I got into the counter protest:
Hot Chick, Janiece, posted about her interest and ambivalence in going. On one hand, conventional wisdom is that one should not reward inappropriate behavior with attention. On the other, is being silent the equivalent of being complicit in their behavior? There was much discussion on Janiece's blog and I decided to join her when she decided to attend.
The day of the protest arrived and our ranks had swelled to four, including Janiece's Hot Daughter and our dear friend, Stacey. It was a cold, damp day and the WBC group was small and included a couple children. We followed them around to their various locations, stopping for coffee and then a delicious sandwich at the Spicy Pickle during the intermissions. Janiece gives a great summary of the day on her blog (with pictures!), so go there for more detail, but suffice to say, we felt successful at the end of the day. At the third venue, the WBCers left halfway through their allotted time (as specified in their protest schedule on their blog). I never thought that would happen!
Why did I end up doing it? Because I wanted the targets of the protests and the people who saw us by the side of the road to know that I don't agree with the sentiments professed by the WBC, and furthermore, that I cared enough to speak out against it. This is unusual for me, as I generally tend to live my beliefs, not try and change others minds, but I guess it was a confluence of circumstances -- me feeling more extroverted than usual, having friends I wanted to support, and a ridiculously wrong group (I find most groups to be varying shades of gray, but not this one) coming to Denver. And finally, I went because of what one of my favorite protest signs said, "Thanks Westboro, You're Only Bringing Us Together!"

And I'm glad I went. Otherwise, I'd never had found out that Godfrey is Love.


Sushi Queens

I have, in the past, posted about a new discovery, Facebook games. I've had to cut back because it's a big timesuck. I gave up Farmtown, Cafe World, and Country Story (which was the hardest to give up as I "abandoned" some of my neighbors) among others. I have not given up Restaurant City yet.

I had a lovely garden cafe with a lovely entry and my sister, another RC restaurateur, has an English pub. She was considering quitting, as she had pretty much leveled up all the dishes that were appropriate to her venue and the place was well set up in its "narrative." When she said that, I thought "yeah, she's right. Maybe it's time to quit."

And then they brought out the Japanese themed decor and dishes. I was reeled back in.

I've set up a new restaurant, and started all the work of earning money to decorate it and level up the Japanese dishes. The tables are arranged around the grills, hibachi style, and I have a zen garden in the back. My sister offered her financial backing (buying me three of those nice black stoves) and is now an unofficial co-owner. I imagine it as if I were the manager and she the financier who comes in, hangs out at the sushi bar (all the servers know what she likes and brings it to her right away and on the house) and chills out in the zen garden.

MWT put together this image of the restaurant to show another player, so I stole it to show all of you. It's progressed a little since this image was taken, but not enough to put together a new image. (Thanks, MWT, by the way! :)

Speaking of MWT:
This is one cute tableau at MWT's restaurant. It looks like three cactus cowboys trying to corral a couple cats. Good luck, boys! ;)


Staircase to Heaven

I was researching ships ladders online for work today and stumbled across this beauty. (Here's the article it comes from...)

My future hermitage will have one - heck, why not several? - of these.


Now That's a Knife

As always, I had a wonderful time during my cousin and friend, Susan's, visit. She came down yesterday at about noon and we went shopping. First, to the Savory Spice Shop, where we got - you guessed it - spices and herbs. (One was a truffle salt that we are going to share, but Susan forgot to take her half.) Then, we stopped by a new place, In Season Local Market, that specializes in local produce. We purchased eggs (pasture-fed), yoghurt, mushrooms (elephant ear and some red-capped something-or-other), and soap. Then, it was off to one of my favorite places to empty my pockets, Sur Le Table. There, among other things, Susan contributed towards my latest birthday present, a new knife:

It's a lovely blade and I look forward to using it lots and lots! :D

It's always tough to avoid spending way too much at Sur Le Table, but I've never regretted a purchase from there, so I guess it's alright. Finally, we stopped by a pretty large Asian supermarket that a friend of mine pointed out to me that I hadn't checked out yet. It's pretty awesome, with great looking produce and a huge selection of ramen (they even had Tung-I!). I found the proper boba pearls (I'd like to learn to make "bubble tea"), mochi ice cream, and other fun stuff.

As Susan and I are fans of fine cuisine, we usually try to find ourselves somewhere delicious to feast. Yesterday, it was Brasserie Felix (which is only 1.5 miles from my house, so we walked). We had red wine (a Spanish Tempranillo), escargot, paté, beef bourguignon, and coq au vin. All was delicious. We ended the day with a long, deep talk, chocolate peanut nut dessert, and a chocolate digestif.

The next morning, after sleeping in as long as we dared, we put The Knife to work with the local produce we had bought. Here's the mushrooms and some bacon:

Added the eggs (they were mixed colors, indicating mixed breeds of chickens):

The final breakfast included: eggs scrambled with mushrooms and bacon, yoghurt sweetened slightly with honey (delicious!), Indian chai, and bread with apple butter and chokecherry jam.

I gave the knife a workout this afternoon, chopping up lots of veg for a lentil-rice-vegetable dish. It tastes yummy and has lots and lots of veg, but the lentils are way overdone. Note for all y'all: lentils do NOT need to be soaked prior to cooking, no matter what the package says.


Strange TV Happenings

I, being a cheap bastard, only have network cable (the $15/month cable that I only have because with the internet, it's only $10/month). Magically, in the last few days, my selection of channels has doubled. I'm getting Siffy and TBS and The Food Network. I'm trying not to get too attached, as it might be all a mean trick. Unfortunately, I do not seem to get USA, which is the channel I think I miss most.
Very very odd.


Muppets Au Natural

My love of the Muppets is well documented. Here is some grade A improvisational material, particularly the part at the beginning with Kermit and Fozzie. Don't miss them talking to the cows at the end!

PS - oh, yes. I should credit my friend Richard for posting this on FB. Thank you!


When I saw this...

I thought of my good friend, Jen Amber.
This is the vault where they keep county records at a courthouse I visited recently. They're vaulted not to keep people away, but to keep the records in a safe environment. There are racks and racks of these books and when I saw them, I thought of Jen. She loves things with cool patterns and this was right up her alley.



Warm Weather Dining

It's Springtime! That means I can pull one of my favorite inventions again:
Quick Pasta Salad

The recipe is easy:
Start with a big bowl...

Cook pasta (elbows or shells are good because of their size and shape) and add frozen peas halfway through the cooking period. When they are done cooking, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Add to the bowl...

Add a drained can of cooked chicken or salmon or tuna...

Add three stalks of chopped celery...

Add a handful of finely minced parsley...

Add to taste mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and herbs (I use dill, celery seed, garlic salt, powdered garlic or onion, but other herbs like basil and oregano would work well.)

Mix well and viola! A big bowl of tasty pasta salad.


Das Restaurant

Some of you may have heard me (in real life, not on this blog) rave about a little German/Hungarian/something-alpine restaurant I went to some years ago on the western slope. Well, as I am going to Montrose, CO, for a business trip, I decided that if I could find this little restaurant, I would make sure to arrange it so I could eat dinner there. (An early dinner, I would still have far to drive at that point!) And through the marvels of the internet, I found it! YAY!
It's called Rosi's Little Bavarian Restaurant in Glenwood Springs, CO. I had my very first taste of Hungarian Goulash there and I've never been the same since. ;)
Happily, in my online search, I also found three other promising restaurants, one right here in Golden. So, I'll be checking those out too - as a fact finding mission for my friends the Hot Chick and Her Smart Man and for my sister and brother-in-law. They're all fans of the German/Bavarian branch of cuisine, so it's the least I can do. The other restaurants are:
- Westfalen Hof Restaurant, Golden, CO
- Cafe Prague, Morrison, CO
- Budapest Bistro, Denver, CO

(PS - the other very good German restaurant I've gone to in recent memory is Black Forest Restaurant in Nederland, CO.)

(PPS - Found an interesting Westword post about East European Dining for those who are interested...)