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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Organic Cubes

Just for the sake of Eye Candy and adding to my previous post on Gastronomy I decided to put up one of the many photos I have related on this area of interest because I am an active participant in regulating what goes into my body and how much of it. I am all up for organic and a natural way of living. Though, being a raised city boy, it's not always a route I can take, especially in an environment that lacks that resource.

These Chunks of Energy (Organic Cacao w. Goji) are made by Dancing Star LLC. But I didn't order them through their website: https://chunksofenergy.com/shop/cacao-goji/

I bought them for eight or nine dollars a pound at my local organic (natural foods) catered store. They're pretty good, not too sweet and I can taste the cacao, goji flavor and nuts. It's a bit of a weird mix. I'm just posting an interesting find.

Ingredients:

Organic dates, organic sunflower seeds, organic raisins, organic apricots, organic rice flower, organic cacao powder, organic goji powder, organic sesame seeds, organic coconut, natural flavors (gluten free).

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Of Belgium and Imported from Columbia


"Is there a billionaire or a despot anywhere on earth who at this precise moment who is eating better than us?" -Anthony Bourdain

Not exactly... but perhaps I will reuse that line when the time comes I indulge in truffles and foie gras made by a great French chef.

Nor did I ever plan to incorporate what others have labelled their blog as a "Foodie" blog.

But for the sake of Gastronomy and exploring Culture here is some eye candy:


Columbian Coconut Candy: Super Turron Supercoco
 
This is an all natural Columbian candy I discovered from a friend. Maybe because it's non-domestic that gives it a tastier than many other candies I have tried. There is another called Big Ben in a coconut flavor that was tastier but I could not find it.
____________________________________________________________________
Belgium Trappist (Monk) Beer
 
Foolish me, yet not so. I lugged back a six pack of this stuff in my luggage and gave them out as gifts on my recent backpack trip to Europe. It's better than giving (or that is getting) shot glasses like usual. Instead of lugging them home I wondered if they are available here in the United States. Yes, the Belgium Trappist (Monk) brewed beers are available in select few markets but I am reading they can be ten dollars or a bit more a bottle. I paid a bit over two euros a bottle. I guess that goes the same for most select market beers like paying eight dollars for a Duvel or Delirium at a European restaurant here in the United States.




Monday, February 3, 2014

January 2014

Sometimes I forget what my closest friend tells me: that you can omit personal details. But what's a friend without being an open book? I write sometimes as if it were my personal journal. And when love tells me it cares it reminds me of memories I prefer to avoid. Leading into the new year was rough. The all so real $16,000 hospital bill for a night in the Emergency Room and two nights in a three patient room was funny when I forgot to hand them my health insurance, lab tests, a scan and some medicine, those blood suckers. This is why America is broke when people can't pay their medical bills or America suffers when one has no medical insurance. Couple weeks out and I'm hit hard again. Emotionally down and as I lay there about to pass out thinking I was dying, I thought of my life and all the warm things, then smiled. A little girl I helped raise that I'm not sure she'll remember my name, but for the better and an older one with a dream, that is my dream in reach but far away. I open my eyes, a month later, and get up, recovered, like a good soldier, I have responsibilities and a mission to finish. One more round, a little more wounded, one more smile. I reminisce of better Sweet November days but it's February.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ave Maria Ark of the Covenant Cigar Review

Winter has halted my cigar smoking because I don't smoke in the house and it has kept me from doing so in my backyard or front porch. I'm not a big fan of cigar lounges because of the extra incurred cost or minimum required purchases, in most cases. I rather just not smoke. It's the first week where temperatures have reached 90(F) degrees here in New York City and summer has not even officially began.

I was pondering as I sat back with my cheeseburger pairing in hand and re-thought of why I smoke cigars knowing of all the terrible damage it can do to my body. Let's put it this way, reiterating from past comments: I am not a habitual smoker, I enjoy it and it has helped me hone in on varying taste.

The first cigar I pulled out of my humidor after 8 months of not smoking anything is the vitola size: Ark of the Covenant, an Ave Maria.




Vitola: Gordo (4.5" x 60RG)
Price: $4 stick

Wrapper: Ecuador (Habana)
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Aged in Humidor: 9 months


Appearance and Construction:

The band is the most impressive and one can be lured in by that marketing aspect of it.


The cigar looks like every other Habano wrapper toned cigar I have smoked:caramel brown. It is constructed smooth with no veins and no blemishes. It seems I have aged it well for 9 months. I don't feel any dampness or softness or dry areas. The cap is even with the body, nothing coming apart. I aged it in the cellophane wrapping. I toast it evenly with my Ave Maria torch.



Draw: Not tight, not loose, right in the middle
Aroma: Medium to Strong, average, stronger if brought 4" to nose
Ash: Not very nice looking with irregular tone, freckly grey and black
Fumes: Only when lit initially or relighting, it produces an even stream for the first third and begins to fade after
Burn: Uneven and inconsistent, but only by a little. Maybe it was my sticks but the wrapper burnt uneven and though it did not go out it got almost to that point where I had to torch it up again and again
Boldness: Medium to slightly above mid-range
Harshness:
Two short "considerable" points throughout the entire cigar
Strength: Medium
Complexity: Not very much so

Tasting Notes:

The scent that it emits out of the hole on the foot while the cigar is still in the clear cellophane cover is of tobacco leaf, one would say barnyard like. The cold draw is similar with a tea note. On lighting, it produces notes of brownie and raisin.

1 cm in: charcoal, it is reminding me of grilled meat. With the charcoal note, is a hint of bitterness but not in a bad way.

1 inch in: like it's original light, at this point a retrohale like a slightly over baked brownie note.

The first third consists of neutral to medium dark brownie like tasting profile. In the range of change I could also detect a hint of similar to a raisin cookie note along side the brownie like tasting profile. Seeing that this is not a very long cigar, only at 4.5", somewhere at the end of the first third, I began removing the band and that's when the first of the ash dropped.

The second third had a bit of harsh bitterness but lasted only a few seconds. Overall, same as the first third but also detected a tiny bit of spice in between the first and second third. In it's changing profile, I also detected notes of: dark oak, another wood-like profile, a very distinctive cigar tobacco from that region and a raisin in the mix.

By the final third, like most cigars, it began to mellow out. Many of those tasting notes went away and profile at this point became neutral. It retained it's medium boldness, though. It's the best part, not getting so much brownie, but the profile is still there and it's turning into what a decent cigar should be. I didn't nub this cigar, I only smoked to a little under two inches left because I had to go but I didn't want to, I had to drop it. It took about an hour and thirty minutes, if I had finished it, I would guess a little short of two hours.

My opinion is that since the Ave Maria Ark of the Covenant only had two points in the entire cigar with slightly harsh bitterness and the questionable coming and going of those raisin-like notes which is a profile of preference (I can go either way of liking or disliking that raisin-like note), I give it a liking in my book, though I can't give this a 90+ rating. I've enjoyed far better and this wasn't the first of the Ark of the Covenant. So I am not rating this 87 cigar based on one smoke. I have a few more so we shall see. The band is gives this smoke an example of where the cover is better than the reading material.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Security Hinders Freedom

...But security maintains order.

In this small aspect: The company I work for has two main entrances: the front and back. Each entrance has a building front desk receptionist and would be security officer manned at the location. All the other side entrances are locked. I'm sure this is the case for all buildings. On a working weekday, people who work in the building can enter and exit at both entrances. However, on the weekends the back entrance is locked because of staffing is only provided infront. I work weekends also and I drive to work. The back entrance is where all the parking is located. It's locked, so on weekends I have to walk all the way around the building with very long streets in order to get into the building. Unfortunate for everyone else that works weekends also has to walk all the way around the building, about two and a half long streets just because of those security (or we can be blame it on staffing) reasons. The fact that the back entrance is locked on the weekends is a deterent that is a hassle to me.

Mid range aspect: About two and a half years ago, I owned a BMW. All modern German (that goes for a handful of other countries as well) cars are required to have an Immobiliser installed. An Immobiliser is basically a electronic device in the car that won't start it if a code in the key doesn't match the encryption in the electronic device in the car. I fount this out the hard way when the Immobiliser light went on as the battery died one winter and I couldn't get a new battery installed for a few days. Basically after a few days when I got the new battery installed the car not having a charge for a few days set off the BMW's Immobiliser. Fortunately for me, the light did go away. However, I have read stories where people could not start their car because of this issue. They had to go to the mandatory trouble of going to the dealer to have a copy of an encrypted key sent from Germany in order to hopefully get their car started again. It's purpose is to deter theft. Yet, sophisticated thieves have fount a way around it. So does the troublesome aspect out weigh the benefit of it's intent? I think it does.

Mass aspect: Airport security can be a bit of a nuisance if you don't learn to keep it simple. I once had a bottle of 32oz Cocoa Butter in my carry-on because I was traveling with a healing injury. The security lady delayed my bag and sent it through again, then explained in a very rude way that such a larger liquid item was not allowed. Yes, the situation wasn't an ordeal but a minor hassle. This was years ago but everyone once in a while, I read in the news of a similar incident where people are harassed or violated of their rights because it doesn't fit into security protocol.

I understand the need for safety to filter out what shouldn't be there but security features only hinder and block freedom to be as we are.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Als je niet het gebruikt, je verliest het."

"If you don't use it, you lose it."

It seems I spent the later half of my Junior High School, all of High School and early years of College learning Spanish and French, I failed to master it. I could not grasp French well and I managed to be able to read and write in Spanish but never got the speaking in a normal conversation. I could get a few sentences in and understand a few verbal words but it never took. After a few years after not caring to learn any more and not using, much has faded. The most I retained from learning Spanish is from the Taco Bell commercials: Yo Quiero Taco Bell. And French, forget it, all I know is: Oui. I can't for the life of me do the rolling of the tongue to do Rrrrrr, as in Rrrrrromeo. When I roll the Rrrrrr, nine out of ten times it sounds like I am about to gargle out some phlegm. Sad is I.

I use to love Russian and Ukraine culture mainly due to ex-girlfriends from those countries and being exposed to their culture when I use to work in Brooklyn. So, when I had the chance to visit Moscow for a few days, I did. This is just speaking of Europe. I am now a big fan of the Dutch lifestyle ever since my first visit to Amsterdam (then the broader outskirts into The Netherlands, meaning not just the Center of Amsterdam). It surely has broaden my view on things. And I have been back so many times not caring to visit many other countries (for the moment). There's a part of me that wants to stay there. With that comes an interest to browse a few other countries that sound interesting: Portugal, Hungary, The Czech Republic, Belgium and a curiosity of the smaller Eastern block countries.

American English has different sounding syllables than the European counterpart. Some of these syllables vary from cut short or to let the sound of the syllable roll. The American grammatical sequence do not follow the same as the European structure. Words do not match up in the way it is written from it's pronunciation. And at times you have to change the whole structure of the way you normally speak (or write) to adapt to the language you are trying to learn. How come -sometimes- a noun will come before the verb, and then sometimes it doesn't? And why in all my years of education did no one teach me what a Finite or Infinitive verb are? My job entails working with people from all over the world. I currently work with business owners. And one should know people come to America from everywhere around the world and open up shop. But my trying to learn another language has nothing to do with it. There's a reason why I am attempting this particular language. I find learning another language has much to do with memory, comparing to your own and just trying to adapt as to how the other culture flows naturally. So, how's this? Foreigners forgive me when I come to your country and I chop up the grammar in your language and I will forgive you when you come to America and tell me "I no understand, I no speakie much English". I think it should be a given, not to be laughed at, maybe humored by. There should be fun in learning and jest in cultural differences not mockery.


Ik probeer Nederlands te leren.

or

Ik ben Nederlands aan het leren


Sound travels in frequencies is a subject I learned in my college courses. That's how waves hit our ears. I never realized this when they were testing my acuity to tone when in my Elementary School's music class. I've fount learning another language applies to this frequency in which we communicate. And in linguistic classes, I learned not having a lazy mouth emphasized the pronunciation of a syllable better. When you speak, move your mouth.

Think about when you were taught the alphabet in your native language. It's the basics of how to communicate in a particular language. By making the simplest sound of a letter in the alphabet, you're learning the cultures language fundamentals. (Going off topic a little here, as I always do) The education of grade school, then college, work experiences and life experiences are phases in development and change. Specifically speaking of a culture's language, I think in every life cycle, we get about four to five stages, if given the opportunity: birth to early twenties, early twenties to mid thirties, mid thirties to forties and fifties to sixties and there onward to be content or wonder on with learning (this can be applied to language as one subject matter). Heck, even when I was learning Visual Basics is an example. It formulates in every stage of life and is past onward to build a particular culture or language. It can change, need adapting to, when something is created by the freedom of the mind (or our ever so evolving humanity) or preserved in the name of learning from history. Learning another language or it's culture is like tuning into another frequency, it doesn't always sync, you just try to make it relevant to understanding it the best you can.

Think about the way you listened how to pronounce things so you can communicate with your guardians as a child. Think about how you phrase things based on the language around you, they aren't always grammatically attuned to the culture's formal language, "word, son"? Foreigners learning your language, are guest trying to tune in to your frequency. Can it be methodical as much as memory is involved to learning or must one be raised in it to be affluent. It takes years of these communicating in frequencies to build a certain culture's language. Learning a language is like a a frequency. And not every language has the same frequency. There are differences in the wave length or amplitude in how a sound comes out (or way it is written).

I never understood why my father never cared to learn different things. He is a very simple man. He's a fanatic basketball watcher, enjoys a narrow range of foods and never really bothered in other cultures except when he needed to. As a small example of one of my father's attributes: I fount one reason why he might behave this way. I learned from an economist: our actions are based on rewards. My father did learn a few sentences and words for certain things in Spanish in order to adapt based on his work. The reward to learning Spanish is to aide in his former career. The one that allowed to provide for in part for my development. Meaning closed minds don't get fed. So why am I reattempting to try and learn another language? It's because culture interests me so much, I just love it. What is my reward? I need language to fit into the culture aspect. It's mainly not for my job. Why do so many non-Asian people eat Asian food (or vice versa) if reasons not for being: cheap (say the cost are the same), having variety in diet or taste (if you can omit this as a reason). What is the reward in trying another cultures food? E.g.: A hamburger (German/American) and a meatball (Italian) are made of the same or similar, right? Why eat one oppose to the other. Every new thing I learn from another uncommon culture is like the YouTube videos of a kitten just in their natural cute behavior, learning another cultures language hits a similar part of my brain.

I like stepping stones, it has created what we call stairs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hope

Definition (From Google):

A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.


Our hopes are irrelevant for what is expected to actually happen, or are they? Are hopes tangible? Our hopes are like going to a psychic for a prediction from cards or a globe. It's like acts of divination. Is it realistic? Only if you put action into it. And that is a gamble or decision you cannot control much. Then there are those things that just cannot happen no matter how much you hope.

Hope isn't so much a single point of view: your own. It is a two sided street and it depends. It depends if what you hope for is plausible, controllable or far fetched

e.g.

Joey has parents who are not wealthy. His mom earns less than minimum wage and father earns just enough to pay the bills. But his parents love Joey and want him to have things. Joey feels this love downward and loves his parents back for their hard work. Joey wants to be like all his, more well off, friends and wants the hottest new toys and game station for Christmas. So Joey is playing every card in the book with his parents to get these gifts, including striving for good grades and volunteering to do the dishes every night. Christmas comes around and Joey is given three different gifts from his parents. Just as you are the third person point of view reader and I the narrator (though I, not part of the story), I will tell you each gift is neither any of the hottest new toys or a gaming station. But Joey has hope. He opens one gift at a time, just the first two and leaves the third until after supper in anticipation of the first two let downs, Joey still has hope, but we both already know Joey is not getting the hottest new toy or the gaming station he anticipates. So what is hope?

e.g.

Every once in a while, I get a sense of something is going to happen that is good, just a whim sense predicting a possibility. I buy the lotto on those days. One time I got a few of those scratch off tickets and I delay scratching final areas off on the ticket because I am hoping, just maybe if I delay scratching I will get three matching figures.There is always that possibility one day one day I will get all three matching, I hope. But it is possible. So what is hope?

e.g.

I am not a gambling man by nature but my dad is. My mom was worst, full of superstition and rituals from old beliefs. But isn't that like religion? In Christianity isn't hope part of the belief. So what is hope?