Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Alternative Currency: The Wave of the Future?

So I just recently found out about this really interesting new currency called BitCoin. BitCoins are basically an internet experiment where an online currency with actual value has been created by some smart web developers. And the coolest part about how BitCoins are created is through playing computer games. But here's the crazy part-- so far it appears to be working. The video below is pretty informative, it is also the first and last time there will be any StarTrek references on this blog. We ain't that geeky.

There are a growing number of places where you can obtain free BitCoins, as well as online stores where you can buy real actual things using BitCoins. http://www.weusecoins.com/  

Now if only I could pay my rent in BitCoins...

Wine Tasting Program

Subway Gourmet.

So, I've been working some pretty ridiculous hours lately, which means that I have been neglecting my blog, AND I've been eating out way too much. But if I'm going to eat fast food, I at least do have my standards. With the exception of the ice cream, french fries, and apple pies, McDonald's is simply inedible, and in DC unless you hit a lunch truck-- just about anywhere else you go for lunch you are going to have the option of either a burger, a salad, or a sandwich, and it's going to set you back 8-10 bucks. 

In these troubled economic times, are you ready to get Subway Gourmet?

Except for Subway, where you can actually still get a decent, won't kill you sandwich for around or under 5 bucks. That's right I said decent, not excellent. Your local Subway may not be in line for any Michelin stars anytime soon, but with a little creativity you can create a Subway meal that will be the envy of the folks in line behind you. 

After a couple of months of exhaustive research, which has included eating way too much Subway, I've compiled my list of "Subway Gourmet".

Oven Roasted Chicken on Wheat with veggies and Marinara. 

Choice of Bread (I do Wheat or Italian Herb)
Loads of Spinach (Personally, I think it's the stale, uber-preservative lettuce that really makes it taste like Subway, which is why I avoid it)
Bell Peppers
Marinara Sauce (From the Meatballs)
Parmesan Cheese
**You could also substitute Southwest Sauce for the Marinara if you don't mind the extra calories.

Subway Club w/ Swiss and Veggies. 

Choice of Bread (I do Wheat)
Swiss Cheese
Loads of Spinach
Banana Peppers or Pickles
Oil + Vinegar
Black Pepper

Cheese Pizza w/ Tomatoes and Cucumber
Now this combination may sound strange, but I actually first had this pizza at Puccini's, arguably the best wood-fired pizza restaurant in Maryland. It was delicious-- and Subway surprisingly makes pretty decent pizzas. Have them pile on tomatoes and cucumbers onto a cheese pizza topped with a little Parmesan cheese and voila!

BLT w/ veggies and spicy mustard. 
Choice of Bread (I do Wheat)
Skip the Cheese
Loads of Spinach
Green Peppers
Banana Peppers
Salt + Pepper
Parmesan Cheese
Spicy Mustard
**Avocado optional if you're willing to spend a little extra.

Spicy Italian w/ Provolone and Veggies  

Choice of Bread (I do Wheat or Italian Herb)
Provolone Cheese
Loads of Spinach
Banana Peppers
Oil + Vinegar
Salt + Pepper

Veggie Delight w/ Homemade Roasted Chicken. 

Buy a large packet of free-range organic chicken breasts, coat with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and spread on a backing sheet with lemon wedges and bake at 350 for about 45 minutes to an hour until roasted. Shred and put into freezer bags and store in your freezer until ready to use. Take a little out in the morning before you head to work and put in a sandwich bag.

Load up a subway veggie delight with dijon or spicy mustard from Subway and add your roasted chicken. It will totally top Subway's "Roasted Chicken" and will save you some cash!

Wine Tasting Program

Friday, February 22, 2013

I'm outraged about the outrage!

I have been critical of the young royals quite a bit on this blog, and..sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't them some slack.  Afterall, it's not easy being in public life, and having worked in politics I know that.

However, they just keep giving me reasons "not" to cut them more slack. Case in point: beach picture gate! Yes that's right people, William the Complainer feels “agonised and bruised” because his barely showing pregnant wife was photographed while walking completely out in the open on a beach "in" her bikini and not out of it this time. I'm starting to think he should change his style from Prince to "Drama Queen".  But it is the British press who deserve an an Oscar this Sunday for their feigned outrage over the photos being published in an Italian tabloid.

But why oh why couldn't the media have respected their privacy (pronounced preeveecy in the Queen's English) you ask? Afterall, they were on holiday! Well... guess what your royal worship, LOTS of public figures get snapped while on holiday. Don't believe me? Allow me to provide a few examples then...

Photo #1 

As much as I have always supported both Clintons, personally "I" felt a little agonized and bruised after seeing this shot of the two of them dancing on the beach in their swimsuits. Judging from their tans, looks like Bill and Hill were too busy running America to take many sunny holidays.

Photo #2

Sooooo did not want or need to see this pic of President Obama leaving the gym in what appears to be gym "skorts". Can you imagine what would happen if pictures like this of Prince William surfaced in Britain? Oh yeah that's right, they'd be CENSORED.
Photo #3
Jackie Kennedy Onassis, former First Lady of the United States, the woman who tastefully redecorated the White House and was well-known for her class and reserve, was photographed in Greece in 1975 in what may be the most embarrassing photos taken of anyone ANYWHERE. Ever. Too racy for this blog. Consult Google. 

Tell you what Wills, let's trade. I'll go be a Prince while you come to America and get a regular, mostly thankless job. Vacations on Mustique will no longer be an issue. Whadda ya say? You'd rather be a prince? Then please do us ALL a favor and stick a cork in that bottle of whine.

Wine Tasting Program

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Harry Harry Quite Contrary


Whoa, Prince Harry's recent interview was like, a little kray kray. Now I don't wanna judge too harshly here, I mean after all I do come from the state that thrice elected Rick Perry, and I've also worn the uniform (U.S. Army to be exact), but the golden ginger of the royals Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales, more commonly known as Prince Harry, appears to have really stepped in it this time. 

I've always respected the fact that he fought to go to war in the first place, and actually do his job in the Army, (even though his royal title could have gotten him out of it) and I think a lot of people have it's his dedicated service to his country, as well as his good charitable work that allows me overlook some of his recent "sticking his foot in his mouth" about war and killing. He's been in a dangerous combat-zone for a long time, which can desensitize you a lot.  However, it was mostly his other douchey comments in the interview, the ones about how much he hates the media and being royalty blah, blah, blah, you know... the ones that weren't about war, that made me go like whaaaa??

Prince Harry on Relationships:
 "You ain't ever going to find someone who's going to jump into the position that it would hold. Simple as that."   

Umm... you went to Eton and Sandhurst right?

On his Vegas strip show:
"probably let myself down, I let my family down, I let other people down." "But at the end of the day I was in a private area and there should be a certain amount of privacy that one should expect."   

Well yeah, unless you're world-famous and you invite a bunch of girls you've just met up to your hotel room and proceed to take your clothes off in front of them. Then you're sort of... I dunno... risking your privacy a bit perhaps? It's the price of being a modern celebrity.

But hey, I'm not judging... you work hard, you're single, who cares? Just a future word of advice: next time, do what other rich male celebrities do when they want to have some naughty fun in Las Vegas hire some high-end call girls who will keep it confidential, and don't blame your own lack of judgment on the media. 

On being royalty.
"For me it's not that normal because I go into the cookhouse and everyone has a good old gawp, and that's one thing that I dislike about being here"

Hmmm... Harry didn't seem so annoyed when it was large-breasted, scantily clad women giving him the "good ol' gawp" while he was racing Ryan Lochte and frolicking with them in the pool. He wouldn't have been mister popularity in the cookhouse or with the hot ladies of the MGM Grand Wet Republic if he weren't royalty, so maybe he should complain about it a little less.

"Once you are wearing the uniform you are part of the gang and you know, fine, I am the queen's grandson and all that good stuff."

Dude. Being the queen's grandson and all that good stuff is the reason you got to sit in a VIP box at the Olympics. It's reason you grew up in palaces, played polo, went to the best schools in the world, and had every advantage placed in front of you your entire life. It's the reason you get to go all around the world making speeches, giving interviews, having important people listen to you. It's the reason you get into the best nightclubs and get invited to the best parties. It's the reason the papers are calling you "The World's Most Eligible Bachelor".  I understand wanting to just be "one of the lads", especially when you're fighting alongside each other, but show some freakin appreciation for who you are-- thanks to your grandmother.

 My father's always trying to remind me about who I am and stuff like that.

No kidding.

"I have always said work hard, play hard. I will always be enjoying the job … however long it may carry on for, and then I have the other job to fall back on."

Well, once again that makes you very different from many of your fellow UK and US soldiers fighting over there, who won't have jobs to fall back on once their service is over. Here was another blown opportunity to point out how fortunate you are to be who you are.

Harry also hurled criticism of the press throughout his interview that bordered on the whiny.  He has exemplified, once again, the way the younger members of his family want all the trappings of being global celebrities with none of the traps, while simultaneously blaming the press for every wrong step or self-inflicted embarrasement.


I wonder if he really wants to be just a normal Army officer as much as he indicates he does in his recent interview. Perhaps he does and perhaps it's a discussion he should take up with his father and grandmother. Because here's the thing, and I know because a lot of people who are close to me are in the military, and I served enlisted in the Army myself, those guys really are unsung heros. It is a huge sacrifice to be in the military. And it's a pretty thankless job actually.

For most brave members of our armed forces though, there won't be any glossy airbrushed photos of them in full dress uniform on the covers of popular magazines. They aren't sitting down for interviews to talk about their service to the world press. Upon their return from duty they get a medal, and maybe if they're lucky a couple of free drinks on the flight back, courtesy of some fellow passengers.

I will still give Harry a lot of praise for his military service and his excellent charitable contributions. He really deserves that praise. But he also deserves criticism for giving an interview like this. 

Wine Tasting Program

Monday, January 14, 2013

Washington, DC Layover: What to Do

If you have a fairly long layover, it's possible, and fairly easy to get into Washington, DC from any of the area's three airports, including BWI, using public transport. Getting to the U.S. Capital, the White House, and the National Mall is easy enough from any of the three airports, and is probably covered in a number of layover articles— so I won't spend time covering it in this article.

Rather, in this article I will cover some cool, off the beaten path things you can do in DC with a long layover. One of the great things about DC, is that it so navigable, so you can really cover a lot of it in a short amount of time.

Foggy Bottom/Georgetown

How to get there:
From IAD (Dulles)
Take the 5A bus from Dulles Airport to Rosslyn station, and take one stop on the Blue or Orange line toward either Largo or New Carollton to the Foggy Bottom/GWU stop. Allow yourself a couple of hours to get to and from Dulles.

From DCA (Reagan National)
Take the subway directly from Reagan. Take the blue line toward Largo and get off at Foggy Bottom GWU. Just to be safe as trains run with different frequency depending on time of day, give yourself an hour and a half to get to and from the airport.

From BWI (Baltimore-Washington)
This can be a pretty long trip on public transport from Baltimore Washington Airport, but totally doable with a long layover. Take the bus to the MARC train and buy a ticket to Washington Union Station. From there take the red line subway train toward Shady Grove and get off at Metro Center. Switch to the Blue or Orange lines toward Franconia-Springfield or Vienna to Foggy Bottom/GWU.

Georgetown is a beautiful old neighborhood about a ten minute walk from the Foggy Bottom metro station. In addition to great shopping and architecture, there are also numerous art galleries, boutiques and restaurants to check out. If it's a cold day like today, you might consider cozying up and enjoying a drink in front of the wood burning fireplace at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown once your sightseeing is done.

On a nice day be sure and take a pleasant stroll on the famous and beautiful Georgetown harbor where you can see the infamous Watergate Hotel and the immaculate Embassy of Saudi Arabia. If the weather is warm enough, you can sit on the terrace and enjoy some lovely pastries and delicious European fare at Kafè Leopold.  Enjoy a pint and sit in the booth where JFK proposed to Jackie at historic Martin's Tavern.

Old Town Alexandria

How to get there:
From IAD (Dulles)
Take the 5A bus from Dulles Airport to Rosslyn station, and take one stop on the Blue line toward Franconia-Springfield and get off at the King Street stop. Take the shuttle or a local Dash bus into Old Town, or walk about 15 minutes down King Street.

From DCA (Reagan National)
Get on either the blue line metro toward Franconia-Springfield or the yellow line toward Huntington at the metro and ride about 10 minutes, getting off at the King Street stop. Take the shuttle or a local Dash bus into Old Town, or walk about 15 minutes down King Street.

From BWI (Baltimore-Washington)
Old Town is a pretty long trip from Baltimore Washington Airport, so if you're layover is there, I would probably recommend a different itinerary, but you can get there by taking the MARC train shuttle, taking the MARC train to Washington Union Station, hopping on the red line toward Shady Grove, getting off Gallery Place-Chinatown, switching to the yellow line toward Huntington, and getting off at the King Street metro stop. You should probably allow yourself 3 hours for getting to BWI and back from Old Town.

Many would argue that historic Old Town Alexandria just south of Washington, DC is where the American south really begins, which is perhaps why southern transplants like myself tend to live there or frequent it. Full of beautiful antebellum architecture, a stunning harbor, and countless shops, galleries, and restaurants, Old Town is worth a trip.

Jump off the subway and take a tour of the famous George Washington National Masonic Memorial, or General Robert E. Lee's boyhood home. Old Town is an excellent place to eat seafood, and the choices abound. A favorite of mine is the Fish Market. Old Town is a relaxing place to just walk around on a nice day.

DuPont Circle/Embassy Row

How to get there: 
From IAD (Dulles)
Take the 5A bus from Dulles Airport to Rosslyn station, and take the blue or orange line toward Largo or New Carollton and get off at Metro Center. Switch to the red line toward Shady Grove and get off at DuPont station.

From DCA (Reagan National)
Get on the blue line metro toward Franconia-Springfield and get off at Metro Center. Switch to the red line toward Shady Grove and get off at the DuPont stop.

From BWI (Baltimore-Washington)
Take the MARC train shuttle, taking the MARC train to Washington Union Station, hopping on the red line metro toward Shady Grove, getting off at the DuPont stop.

DuPont Circle or "DuPont" as it's known to Washingtonians, is a hip neighborhood full of delicious, affordable local eateries, cool architecture, and DC's famous Embassy Row. On a nice day you can stroll up Massachusetts Ave and see Embassies and consulates to the USA from all over the world.

DuPont is also full of excellent cafes such as Kramerbooks & Afterwords, which is a book-store bar and cafe all combined. When the weather is nice you can sit outside. One of my favorite places to eat in DuPont is the non-nondescript Bistrot Du Coin. It's delicious French and Belgian country cuisine combined with its old-school French decor, including red and white checked table clothes with a bottle of wine waiting at the table, makes you feel like you're in a little Bistrot du Paris. DuPont is a great place to just hang out and be trendy. It's also fairly close to the White House, about a 15 minute walk south down Connecticut Ave. On a nice day you can have a relaxing lunch, stroll over to the White House, and hop back on the subway about one block from the White House at McPherson Square station and head back to the airport.

Wine Tasting Program

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to Eat First Class in Coach

Comfortable airline travel might be as old-fashioned as steamer trunks, but you can still eat well— even in coach.  As we all know, sitting in coach on any airline these days particularly flying domestic, is sheer travel torture.  But it is the way most of us must travel, even if our employer is paying.  Business class is simply too expensive for most companies, and particularly most people in these lean economic times. 

airplane meal coach
Part of a recent lunch I packed myself for a flight from Austin, TX to Washington, DC.

So what are your options for eating well in coach?  You can buy a boring overpriced lunch box on some airlines, pick-up some unhealthy take-out at the airport, or pack an appetizing, filling, healthy lunch before you head for the airport.  Yes you can bring food through security, so long as you have ALL of your liquids packed properly and stored in a 1-quart Ziploc bag.  
An American Airlines Snack Pack.
It's been my experience that when one searches for articles on healthy delicious snacks or meals to pack on flight, they are either useless or way too complicated— often involving freezing food, or in some cases even heating up pasta by asking the flight attendant for hot tea, pouring it over the pasta until it's hot, and then draining the water back into the hot water cup. Really? I barely have room to move when flying coach let alone set-up a mini kitchen.  However I have been traveling for a long time, both coach and business, domestic and international, and I've learned a few things about what makes for a good in-flight meal and I've learned you can pack one yourself without a lot of work or hassle. 

Having flown business class a number of times, I'll never forget when I took an international flight across the Pacific from Los Angeles to Taipei on a highly rated international carrier.  We were given course after course of light fare combined with a small but satisfying dinner.  Most of the plates of fruit, cheese, and appetizers were cut small and made easy to digest.  Since then, I've always been sure pack small, easy to eat portions for air travel. 

For my most recent voyage, I packed a kale salad with carrot, tomato, a good amount of salt and pepper, red onion and a coating of olive oil and lemon juice.  I also packed some red bell pepper, celery and carrot sticks with a nice healthy dash of salt. Yes I know we shouldn't eat too much salt, but at high altitudes your tastebuds diminish, and with liquid bans being so strict, I generally try and not run the risk of having my lunch confiscated because my hummus was too moist.  

I also packed a little charcuterie, which I enjoyed with my complimentary Ritz crackers on Southwest, combined with a fish taco and a little cheezy Texas spoetzel from supper the night before.  In total it took me about 20 minutes to pack the whole thing and store for my flight the next day. 

One of the reasons I like to use finely chopped kale for an in-flight salad, is because it tends to stay nice and crunchy, unlike lettuce which tends to welt and become soggy when seasoned and chilled overnight.  Fresh green leaf lettuce would probably work well too.  Also, when you salt and dress your salads, veggies and entrees the night before, the food absorbs the flavors better.  Next time you look to pack an in-flight meal, pack something that will be good cold, as some of the best in-flight meals I've ever eaten, including business class meals provided by the airline were served cold. Also follow these tips to ensure you have something healthy and tasty to take your mind off the sardine can that you're in. 

1. Get a bento box.  I use this one

2. Prepare bite-sized, easy to eat meals that will keep well overnight and until your flight. 

3. Avoid liquids in your packed meal. 

4. If you pack alcohol (which you can) pack it into 3 oz. travel-sized containers and put it in your required 1 quart Ziploc bag to get through security, and be somewhat discreet when in-flight.  You can pre-mix some pretty awesome in-flight cocktails with the complimentary drinks available. 

Bon Appetit


Oh and P.S. this is one of the worst flu seasons we've had in a very long time, so be sure and wash, wash, wash your hands and do not touch your face! Especially while at the airport.  Also, be sure and keep a little bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times, and apply it before and after you get on the plane.  That recycled plane air isn't the best when it comes to avoiding germs so do your part!

My sister thinks it's funny to sneak up on me and take unfortunate pictures. Little does she know she has inspired me to remind people to avoid the flu by washing their hands :)

Wine Tasting Program

Monday, January 7, 2013

William the Complainer?

Hello readers— for those of you having a hard time subscribing to and commenting on my blog, allow me to extend my apologies.  I've just started posting a lot of content to my blog and am therefore still working out some kinks. Bare with me! 

Additionally, for those of you who have expressed concerns that I may face repercussions for some of my posts about the royals, fear not— I am an American blogging from the USA, where my constitutional rights protect free speech, free speech which very much extends to criticism of the British Royal Family. At least I'm not calling them lizard people like some of their own subjects.

That being cleared upI cannot help but notice how much press coverage the younger members of the BRF have been getting in the American press lately, almost entirely positive, which I find really perplexing. Case in point: Prince William's recent complaining about he and his wife being photographed leaving church on Christmas Day. 

Let's just contrast that to the United States, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her immediate family, one of whom is a former President, were routinely photographed exiting the hospital where she was being treated this past week. To the best of my knowledge none of them complained, nor would they I expect, because people in this country would probably tell them to grow some thicker skin. I doubt they very much liked it though. 

President Obama was said to have been very embarrassed about a shirtless photograph of him taken on a beach in Hawaii where he was vacationing, which I believe made it onto the cover of Newsweek several years back, but once again, I don't think he dared issue a complaint to the press. 

Why? Because in this country, and I would argue in most all countries with a free press, when you are a public figure, there is going to be public interest in what you are doing, and sometimes the press is going to be a bit intrusive. I think everyone can be sympathetic to Prince William's desire to protect his family from excessive press coverage, but when a public figure starts to complain about every encounter with the press which makes them feel uncomfortable, they run the risk of not being taken very seriously in their public roles.  

It's one thing to be a Hollywood celebrity and complain about photos being taken of you while you are out and about, but public figures who need to maintain public support must be very careful about the extent to which they complain about the cameras. All I can say is... grow up Wills. And as for ABC... if you want to be the "American-British Channel" and cover the royals everyday, then fine. Just cover them the way you'd cover any other public figures. Fairly.

Just sayin...