January 14th, 2004

Atacama

Memes 'Я' Us

I've been in every state of the Union.

Whenever I remember this fact, the first thing that comes to mind is inevitably the fact that someone stole the floor mats out of our VW Rabbit in Oklahoma City. WTF? We finally make it to Oklahoma to complete the entire set and someone decides to steal the floor mats?

It was a Days Inn, next to a Tasty World.

Given the state of the US dollar, I imagine I'll be doing a lot more travelling in North America over the next few years. Bring on the Stuckey's pecan logs, the Georgia boiled peanuts, the Idaho Spuds...

Speaking of American roadside attractions, those of you attending Fiesta may wonder... What is The Thing?



It's not worth a drive all the way out from Tucson, but if you're driving to El Paso, do stop in. At least there's a Dairy Queen.
Atacama

[Fiesta] My own top ten

For no good reason, here's my top ten list of things to do around Tucson:

1. Kartchner Caverns, because I've never been. [What's the planned trip on Saturday like? Can I take my car instead and scoot out afterwards to further explore the area?]

2. The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Yeah, it's a two hour drive, but damn, those are some great gardens. Afterwards, head on over to Mesa for some fantastic Mexican food at this place whose name I can't remember. Wow, that was a helpful tip! Thanks Chris!

3. Eating at Karichimaka. My aunt Lisa grew up in Tucson and this is where she went out to eat as a kid. The place is still there and has hardly changed; it's good home Sonoran cooking, nothing fancy, out in the middle of nowhere. Beer and wine only, alas; no margaritas. Try the carne seca tostada grande.

4. Eating at El Cid in Nogales, Sonora / buying tequila / enjoying watching senior citizens buy their meds South of the Border / being offered someone's sister, "she's very clean" / etc. [bring your passports!]

5. The Santa Cruz Chili Company in Tumacacori [I always seem to take some home, but never actually cook with it]

6. Going to Raging Sage and buying coffee to take home. It's good!

7. Mission San Xavier del Bac - for those of you who didn't grow up in the West, it's interesting to remember that a large part of the USA used to be Spanish... way back when

8. Driving around Tucson looking at old motels from the 1950s - the heyday of Tucson's tourist industry. A block or so west of the Venture-N you can find the old road through town, lined with a bunch of kind of creepy, architecturally sometimes very interesting motels. Very American. I also am fond of the Ghost Ranch Lodge, a 1941 tourist ranch with funny old cactus gardens. If you see any Arizona-themed gift shops, be sure to stop in and stock up on cactus candy and stuff like Reg Manning books [cf. What Kinda Cactus Izzat?].

9. If you're into the whole ecosystem kind of thing, it never hurts to check out Saguaro NP on either side of the city; the western area has a very interesting visitor center with plenty of info on how a desert actually works.

10. Finally, before you leave, be sure to stop by Tania's and stock up on Sonoran tortillas and carne seca. They freeze pretty well, so you can have burros for months if you're so inclined.
Atacama

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

20 years ago, on March 9, 1984, the Melvins played their first show in Olympia, WA.

On Tuesday, March 9, 2004, they'll be playing a show at the Capitol Theater to mark the occasion.

I'll be going. Anyone wanna come with?
Atacama

An easy way to run Linux on Windows

Just released: Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 45-day trial edition.

This is my second-favorite MS app. I loves me some VPC.

To give Linux a whirl:

1. Download Linux ISO from ftp server

2. Download VPC and install it

3. Create new VPC; boot from ISO

4. Install Linux

Only gotcha: some Linux distros default to 16bpp video; change it to 24bpp and you should be OK.
Atacama

The search for the Great American Riesling continues

I've now got nearly twenty different bottles of American riesling in my cellar, and I've started glugging my way through them in order to find the Great American Riesling.

Why, you ask? Simple: I can't afford Grosset riesling ALL the time, the Germans are too expensive here, and besides, it's nice to support local agriculture, you know?

Here are the first three, tasted recently:

Elk Cove 2001 Willamette Valley Riesling [Oregon, $14]

This smells like really good, expensive fruit was used. However, the acidity is lacking and there's too much God damn sugar in here [it's only 1.2%, but that's a deal breaker for me]. What a shame. This is a perfect example of good grapes killed by lame-ass winemakers.

Belle Pente 2001 Willamette Valley Riesling [Oregon, $12]

"It's the blimp, Frank, it's the blimp! The blimp!"

Actually, it's the bomb. This is what I've been looking for. At long last... riesling. Beautiful complex nose, tightly wound, good acids, absolutely phenomenal taste. This stuff just careens down the hall hitting pretty much every note you could expect from a quality Riesling. And the sugar level is right on the nose - very dry, but still just a faint hint of maybe some residual sugar in there. I imagine this stuff would get seriously good given a few years' time.

Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling 2002 [75% Washington, 25% Mosel (Germany), $8]

Given the price of this, though, it probably wins for best value. Plus, it's in a screw top, so it's guaranteed to be good [I imagine one out of every ten bottles of the other ones will probably taste kind of off.] This is pretty clearly in the style of older Pac Rim rieslings, but this vintage is... well, even stranger, somehow. It tastes less sweet to me than the 2001, which was my least favorite one so far, but all of the really complex aromatics of the '98 and '99 are there in full effect, coupled with something very strange that I just couldn't put my hand on. It's really wonderful when you've finished an entire bottle of something and still can't figure out exactly why it tasted so damned good. This is amazing wine.

In the upcoming weeks I hope to get through the sweet Rieslings stacked up [Bookwalter et al] and eventually move on to the 'serious' ones in Springtime [Woodward Canyon, Chehalem, et al]. Stay tuned.
Atacama

The Six Dollar Chocolate Bar

Thanks to my parents, I now find myself in proud possession of eight Rococo Artisan Organic Chocolate Bars.

Tonight's selection: Milk chocolate with sea salt.

I think it's safe to say that this is perhaps the strangest chocolate bar I've ever eaten. It's... pretty good, but way strange. I imagine the dark chocolate version is better, but at these ticket prices, I'm trying to limit myself to one bar per month. I've already cheated by busting open the pink peppercorn dark chocolate bar earlier in the month... that was pretty darn good, although frankly some more pink peppercorns would have been an improvement.

Mmmmm. Thanks Mom and Dad!