The one where we went to Benihana

We used to go to a restaurant called Hibachi. It was located within the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. It may have been more formally known as the Hibachi-Japanese Steakhouse. More than a few birthdays during my formative years were spent at a now closed teppanyaki grill. The format is now ubiquitous and carbon copy restaurants exist all over the place. One of them that happens to have a franchise near me is Benihana.

Tonight as I ordered spicy tofu as an entree it reminded me a lot of all the times we went to visit the Hibachi. Just down the street we had walked to a bookstore. It might have been a Border’s books I don’t exactly recall the name. I do recall eating at the Hibachi. It was a lot more about the experience of driving to the plaza area. Just getting in the car and driving toward downtown was an experience. It would inherently involve battling traffic and driving by very nice houses and even a museum. The entire process of getting to the plaza and parting was memorable.

Shops and all sorts of other things were around the area. They even had some Kansas City’s famed fountains. That is one of those things where i know they were famous, but I never really appreciated them all that much. I think someplace in my office a polaroid photograph exists from one of the trips. For me all of those photos were taken before the advent of digital cameras. That might be way the entire experience remains so fresh in my memory.

Oh Folger’s

Sometimes that Folger’s commercial about the best part of waking up bounces back into my thoughts. I’m not sure if this morning’s cup of coffee from the ballroom carafe might be Folger’s or something else conjured up that memory. It would be easy to say they don’t make commercials like they used to without being trite or cliche. Advertising has changed over the years. Targeting has changed the dynamics.

A day spent thinking about thinking

Today is one of those rare days that will be spent thinking about thinking. That is a rare gift these days. A whole day spent doing only one thing. A day with a single minded purpose. We live in a complex world. Information is everywhere. We have access to tons of information. It can help us make decisions. It can be overwhelming or underwhelming. However, today is not about taking in new information. For better or worse today will be about thinking. That is going to be ok.

Ready for a Saturday

Yesterday was one of those days that inspired me to spin up a clear vinyl reissue of a classic Rolling Stones album. My vinyl record collection has been growing at a rate of about a record a month. That seems to be reasonable.

Today we may very well end up going to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. John Paul seems to enjoy running amuck at the museum. We might even get some popcorn during an airplane themed IMAX.

The folks over at Keurig need to learn to engineer a better brewing system. About a month ago, I upgraded our original Keurig system to the new 2.0 K560 system. For some reason the needle at the top gets full of coffee grounds about every 2 weeks. Keurig must be aware of this design flaw. They sent a small water bulb tool kit with the system that helps remove coffee ground blockage. You would think that any decent testing plan for the unit would have uncovered this engineering consideration.

My goal for the day was pretty straight forward. My goal was to enjoy the day without working. Today was going to be a day of rest. This is the happiest time of the year for basketball fans. It is a time of national hope for college basketball fans. Those fans think that this could be the year. Brackets will be announced for the NCAA tournament this weekend. It has become a major event.

I watched every Big 12 tournament University of Kansas basketball game this year. Some of them live and part of them via DVR. Watching the games was truly enjoyable. That is something to be thankful for.

A simple Saturday

We celebrated Valentine’s Day early this year. One day early to be exact. John Paul did not seem to mind. A four-year-old evaluates Halloween and Valentine’s Day based on a similar heuristic. They are both days where candy is provided and that metric rules the day. To that end it was a very successful holiday for John Paul.

My efforts to make waffles were mostly successful. I may have over mixed the batter just a bit. That results in hearty vs. fluffy waffles. My efforts to make coffee were more successful. Earlier this morning my Verismo brewing system produced two shots of Guatemalan origin espresso. They were less sweet and slightly stronger than the normal Starbucks espresso roast.

Today should be an interesting day for the University of Kansas basketball team. The last game against the team from Oklahoma was a true thriller. It included three overtime sessions and was highly competitive. We will see what happens today. I wanted to make some tacos for the game using Penzeys taco seasoning mix. However, it turned out that we do not have any of that spice mixture left in the house. Alas, it was a sad moment, but alternatives exist.

I did a quick search for, “the world’s best taco seasoning.” The results for that search varied widely. Most of the recipes included chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Some of them included other spices. A few of them included more than 10 spices. Engineers at Google have written a pretty decent search algorithm, but in some ways it is lacking. Maybe the wisdom of the crowd cannot guide the Google algorithm to the best taco seasoning. Maybe that distinction is to subjective to evaluate numerically, but I have come to expect greatness from Google.

Buying 96 Verismo Pods

Over the last month, I have been very happy with my Starbucks Verismo 600 Brewer. It makes perfectly acceptable espresso. I recently committed to drinking espresso from this machine by purchasing 96 espresso roast pods. That is a pretty sizeable commitment. My espresso pod trials so far have included 3 different types of coffee. Both the Ethiopia Yirgacheff and the Guatemala Antigua espresso pods were decent, but I still prefer the traditional espresso roast pods.

My Verismo espresso pod ratings:

  1. Starbucks Espresso Roast pods
  2. Guatemala Antigua espresso pods
  3. Ethiopia Yirgacheff espresso pods

Verismo Espresso Revisited

It was a solid purchase. My new Verismo 600 Brewer makes perfectly acceptable espresso. I even went out and purchased a tiny little espresso cup with the Starbucks brand on the front. It all started with an online sale. The reason for the sale is not entirely clear, but it worked out in my favor. The Starbucks online store has been reducing the price of the Verismo 600 Brewer. That device is fully capable of making espresso from tiny little coffee pods.

I have watched a few online videos showing how to make refills for the system, but that has not happened yet. For the most part, I have been very happy with the espresso making capabilities of the system. Honestly, and without hesitation I can say unequivocally — I will never buy any of the Verismo coffee cup pods for the device again. The espresso pods seem to be worth it. One pod makes strong enough espresso with two runs at the one shot setting.

I needed a few shots of espresso yesterday. John Paul’s fourth birthday party was a little intense. This was the first year that we had invited the entire class over to celebrate. Around 20 four-year-old wildlings descended on our formerly clean household. We had various activity stations setup. We had soccer outside, Avenger mask making, cupcake decoration, and a coloring table. For late January in Denver, Colorado the weather turned out to be highly cooperative. Outside activities were possible. It did not snow until after the sun set. Everything turned out ok during the birthday party event. John Paul had a great time. People generally seemed happy. Four year olds still take naps so you have to walk a fine line as nap time approaches.

My Espresso Machine Arrived

The Starbucks online store was pretty easy to use. Last week a Verismo brewer espresso machine went on sale. Some sales are compelling enough to spark a purchase. This sale was compelling. It sparked a purchase. Not only did I purchase a couple boxes of Verismo pods, but also I purchased a Verismo 580 brewer capable of making espresso with those pods. I’m not sure if Starbucks will continue to support the Verismo system. It could get discontinued. That is a risk that apparently I was willing to accept. After setting up the brewer, I made a couple shots of espresso earlier today. It was decent.

A human moment

Things got busy. The type of things outside of my control. That happens. In this case it happened with an extreme vengeance. A vengeance that pretty much overwhelmed everything else that should have been going on. My overwhelming need to write was crushed by the tyranny of tiny tasks and endless escalations. I could not manage to clear enough of them off my plate to move forward. Even my stop doing list was not enough to help dig me out of pile of requests. Today for the first time this year the volume of things at work has slowed down enough to allow me a few moments.

My first instinct was to take a nap. My second instinct was to make some waffles. However, I went a different direction all together. I used some of those moments to browse tickets for the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos game on Sunday January 17, 2016. The prices for tickets to NFL playoff games have gotten fairly pricey. If the Chiefs were playing the Broncos in the playoffs, then it might be worth the price for the experience of attending the game.

I have been looking at buying a new Chromebook of some type for some time. The Asus Flip has been the one that has drawn my attention. That purchase is related to my disappointment with the keyboard options for my Nexus 9 tablet. My primary method of writing involves a keyboard. I have tried voice recognition and using a stylist on my Nexus 9 tablet, but it seems that writing with a keyboard is the method that works best for me.

Within the category of potentially exciting news: I purchased a recipe book (The Taco Cleanse) that includes 75 different vegan taco recipes. The book also reports to be some kind of cleanse. I mostly purchased it to try the recipes. I am hoping they are good and easy to make.