Sunday, July 31, 2011


365-50 Electric Boots Aloft
Day 050/365

Until moving here, I had never seen shoes tied and hung from electric lines before. Where I grew up, electric, telephone, and television cables were maintained underground.

It wasn't until today, prompted by taking this picture, that I finally remembered to look up "shoes power lines" and discovered the term for this activity: shoe tossing or shoe flinging.

Reasons apparently vary from a man celebrating losing his virginity to signifying a crack house, graduating from school to mourning the dead (deceased's shoes are flung).

Aside from mourning the dead, someone out there is missing a pair of shoes. Hopefully it didn't occur in the dead of winter unexpectedly.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, July 30, 2011


While taking a stroll, I noticed an odd looking flower along the walkway.

365-49 Moyashirooms
Day 049/365

Was it a flower or a mushroom?

At a glance, it looked a daisy weed from above, but the petals appeared succulent and fleshy like a mushroom. I shrugged and raced to take a picture before Akemi destroyed it, then named it moyashiroom, since it reminded me of moyashi (sprout, in Japanese).

In an unexpected turn of events, Akemi didn't give it two sniffs. Bug toyed with it for 2 seconds and ended up uprooting it.

- Cassaendra

Friday, July 29, 2011

Down in the Park

365-48 Park
Day 048/365

...with our red K9.

Nothing sinister going on.

No friend called Five, nor a club Zom Zom nearby.

- Cassaendra

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fluffy Clouds

365-47 Bark
Day 047/365

Trees with multiple layers that peel off randomly may not be fun to clean up after, but they can be amusing to gaze upon.

Rhino? Giant? Or perhaps a kangaroo?

One of my oft-played songs in the early 1990s...

Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb

- Cassaendra

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It seems like a shame to say tonight's dinner was a gut buster, because I think of "gut busters" as nasty slop that merely fills you up. Tonight's tacos were superb and deceivingly filling. I'm quickly succumbing into a taco-induced coma -- Tacoma?

365-46 Mi Pueblo Tacos
Day 046/365

The taco dinner ($9.99) offers 3 tacos of your choice, along with rice, refried beans, and salad. A few of the numerous filling choices are barbacoa, carne asada, avocado, tripe, lengua, and chorizo. Tonight, I ordered picadillo, avocado, carne asada, and lengua.

The picadillo was slightly sweet, a somewhat unusual complement with meat and potatoes. Avocados were served fresh. Carne asada, the hidden one of the four, was good; however, compared to the other three this evening, it was my least favorite. It suffered from being the boring one of the lot because it was neither spicy, hot, sweet, or tender. My favorite is lengua, pillowy soft and tender strips of meat.

Bug, the night owl, lies contentedly, sprawled across the bed. His deep, even respiration is like a metronome, beckoning me to that head-nodding, watery land of dreams.

- Cassaendra

Mi Pueblo
12207 Lorain Ave
Cleveland, OH 44111
Tel: (216) 671-6661

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eat 'Em Up, Yum!

365-45 Espresso Salted Caramel
Day 045/365

Tastier than fish heads, for our treat this week, we went to A Cookie and a Cupcake. From a choice of strawberry, vanilla, coconut (their special for today), carrot cake, and several others cupcakes, today, we marched off with espresso and salted caramel.

They were spot on with the chocolate cake today. This isn't to say that their cakes are poorly done on other days. Today, the chocolate cake was exquisite -- rich, springy, moist, and comforting.

Espresso buttercream, caramel filling, and chocolate cupcake. Need I say more? Espresso, caramel, and chocolate are a magical trio. Like the cherry atop a sundae, the chocolate covered coffee bean is the bonus saved for last.

Lava salt and caramel buttercream are a great play in contrasts, between discrete and buttery, crunchy and smooth, and the obvious, salty and sweet.

What a treat!

- Cassaendra

A Cookie and a Cupcake
2173 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113-6104
Tel: (216) 344-9433

Monday, July 25, 2011

Plug In

365-44 Plug In
Day 044/365

Turn off, tune out, plug in...

- Cassaendra

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vampyric Embrace

Red wine flowed freely in chalices as the toothsome guests enjoyed a serving of raw liver. Warm to the tongue, lifeblood had coursed through the slices just moments earlier.

365-43 Vamp Dinner
Day 043/365

For dinner this evening, Bug cooked sliced beets (above) to accompany the grilled salmon and salsa. The refreshing salsa was made with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and lime juice, layering the salmon with a touch of sweet piquancy and heat.

The beets were boiled in water, fully cooked and had maintained its firm texture. Not quite as intense in flavor as the beets I have eaten from a can, I much prefer the firmer texture that properly cooked fresh beets have.

I have read that beets are an excellent source of folate that helps repair DNA, as well as being a good antioxidant.

"I've Seen That Face Before (Libertango)" by Grace Jones

I thought the song fit the atmosphere, being particularly dreamy and vampish.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, July 23, 2011


365-42 Ale Fest Portable Toilet
Day 042/365

The 3rd Annual Ale Fest was held at Lincoln Park in Tremont from 13:00 - 17:00 today. With a choice of over 100 different beers, admission was $20 per person, all you can drink.

We walked along the perimeter during the first Ale Fest in 2009. During that event, we noticed only 4 portable toilets and, of course, very long lines. It appears they were better prepared this year!

- Cassaendra

Friday, July 22, 2011

Squirrel's Eye View

365-41 Squirrels Eye View
Day 041/365

A storm quickly stomped through the area this afternoon. Aside from scattered ongoing power outages in some neighborhoods, it encouraged curled layers of bark to become strewn along the sidewalk amongst the mess of acorn tops and kernel shards.

While the humidity remains very high, at around 85%, the temperature is in the upper 70s(°F) this evening; not ideal, but it is a lot better than the 90s overnight that we experienced the past few days.

The squirrels are likely enjoying this reprieve from the steamy weather or muttering about all the soggy acorns on the grown.

- Cassaendra

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Blues

365-40 Summer Blues
Day 040/365

With the heat, oppressive humidity, and very little cloud cover, it felt like I was walking in an enormous freaking fire pit.

We didn't want to be outside longer than necessary. Apparently, many others felt this way as we were the only idiots walking around the abandoned streets.

News programs have been showing ominous pictures of 2 feet of snow, chortling "just a few months ago, we were dealing with this!"

Har, har. I'd rather deal with the snow than this wretched heat. *mutter*

- Cassaendra

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Day 039/365

Akemi loves sticks. More than sticks, she loves stones. More than stones, she loves peanut butter. She's a natural born soccer player and, well, she's pretty proficient at eating peanut butter.

One day, I'll figure out how to take movies longer than 9 seconds and shrink them down to a manageable size (less than 10 MB)!

- Cassaendra

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


If I sound delirious, it's probably because I'm falling asleep as I type this. Bug crashed out an hour ago! I just typed "delicious" instead of "delirious" - twice.

Bug was in the mood for Mexican food tonight. He wasn't in the mood for Mi Pueblo Mexican, but Don Ramon Mexican.

Mi Pueblo is where I get my fix of birria (steamed goat) and lengua tacos (beef tongue), while Don Ramon's clientele tend not to be Mexican. The servings are good and filling, and margaritas are everywhere.

Bug ordered the Special Dinner ($12.30), a sampler dish that arrives in two platters.

The first platter has a chalupa, chile relleno, and a hard shell ground beef taco.

365-38 Don Ramon Special Dinner
Day 038/365

The second platter comes with a beef enchilada, tamal, refried beans, and Mexican rice.

A good variety when you're in the mood for Mexican food, but can't decide which item. The kitchen is consistent and provides comfort...comfort in knowing exactly what you're going to get each time you order.

365-38 Don Ramon Special Dinner
Day 038/365

I decided to try something new, so I ordered the Camarones al Chipotle ($13.25), shrimp with a creamy tomato chipotle sauce. Mexican rice and a salad of shredded iceberg lettuce with pico de gallo.

The sauce was a creamy spiced tomato based sauce. I do not have any complaints, but I don't feel compelled to order it again. It wasn't what I expected, which was a more smoky spicy sauce.

365-38 Don Ramon Camarones Chipotle
Day 038/365

I ate half of the shrimp and all of the Mexican rice. The remainder was packed away for Bug to eat for lunch tomorrow.

Before my forehead rests too long on the space bar, buenas noches.

- Cassaendra

Don Ramon
6278 Pearl Rd
Cleveland, OH 44130-3062
Tel: (440) 886-0566

Monday, July 18, 2011

Muggy Monday

The weather the past few days have been miserable: heat * humidity = grumpy^3

365-37 Popsicle
Day 037/365

Rivulets of sweat stream down my forehead and back as I type this. At 10:00 p.m., it was 80°F outside and 82% humidity. The forecast is calling for more heat and humidity through the next 7 days, cresting near the upper 90s on Thursday.

While cooling off window shopping at Target, these boxers caught my eye. Argh! I want a vanilla popsicle!

- Cassaendra

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Taste of Tremont

Bright orange signs were tacked along Professor Avenue on Friday. By police order, the streets would need to be cleared out from 04:00 through midnight Sunday (today) for the Taste of Tremont, a neighborhood festival that celebrates its restaurants, businesses, and organizations bringing 15-20,000 visitors to this street from noon until 8:00 p.m.

As we walked along Professor Avenue, a Kufner tow truck had a car in tow. I'm sure it was a busy morning for him. It wasn't the last time I saw him towing a car. *cash register sound*

365-36 PreTaste
Day 036/365

For the past few years, I've wanted to try the basil lemonade at Lolita. Each time, I didn't want to wait in the long line (5-10 minute wait) to get it. Last year, around an hour before closing, I noticed there was no line so I stopped by. They were sold out.

This year, I was determined to try that basil lemonade. At 12:15, we made a bee-line to their tent. When we arrived, the sign read:

mac and cheese $5
mint lemonade $2

Heh. We happened to be standing in line and it was going quickly, so I ordered the lemonade. The creamy goat cheese ziti looked interesting, but pasta and cheese are just not my thing especially with so many potential choices.

The lemonade was minty, but not to the point of being bitter or grassy, and it wasn't as sweet as I expected (good). I would definitely order this if the basil lemonade wasn't available.

Not every stand was ready, even 30 minutes after the announced starting time. A couple of tents were still being fiddled with or display tables were being arranged.

Fat Cats' shrimp roll had not arrived yet when we went up to order. With so many choices, I didn't feel the need to stick around for 10-15 minutes and wandered from stall to stall looking for something else to catch my eye that was ready.

At the Ty Fun tent, kai ka prow ($6.00), beef panang ($6.00), vegetarian pad thai ($5.00), and pork spring rolls ($3.00) were offered.

"Spicy" caught my eye, so I ordered kai ka prow -- spicy slices of chicken breast, Thai basil, carrots, beans, peppers, and onions. Thai basil has such a wonderful aroma and flavor. After I ate through the top, I discovered the container came with jasmine rice. I would order this if I didn't have to choose between mango curry, massaman, or green curry. :)

365-36 Ty Fun Kai Ka Prow
Day 036/365

We have only eaten at Ty Fun a couple of times when they first opened their doors. We had a lovely time. The food was delicious, service was impeccable, and the prices were reasonable. The space is beautiful in its black and white simplicity, and very clean. They run a tight ship.

However, we have our favorite Thai restaurant, Bangkok Thai Cuisine, a 30 minute drive further away, that offers all of the above for slightly cheaper and a more relaxed atmosphere. While I adore black, grey, and white living rooms, I'm a sucker for rich, spicy-hued spaces when it comes to restaurants.

365-36 Ty Fun Spring Rolls
Day 036/365

Some of the restaurant tents were poorly executed. A couple of places had nice menu boards set on the ground leaning against their front table, so it was impossible to decipher the slivers of information between everyone's legs. Handwritten paper signs taped to the front, while not as aesthetically pleasing, showed some semblance of business common sense.

South Side stood out in this regard, since I would have expected better as this was not their foray at the festival. I didn't feel it was worth the aggravation to push people aside to read what they had to offer or stand in line to find out what they were selling, so we walked by. With the size of the crowd, I'm sure they didn't miss our patronage.

365-36 Taste Afternoon
Day 036/365

This was likely a very successful event for most by the sheer number of people. Reading about nightmare food festivals around the country where people have to wait 30+ minutes in lines or food running out just a few hours in; nitpicking aside, this event is well run in comparison.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How Much Wood?

I would never have expected to see skunks, woodchucks, badgers, raccoon, deer, and bears in an urban landscape. Yet, I've seen all of these creatures of the wild except for a bear, fortunately.

While walking near the Cleveland Cold Storage demolition site, Akemi encountered a woodchuck doing woodchuckly things.

365-35 Akemi Woodchuck
Day 035/365

Akemi curiously observed the plaything like it was our cat or another one of her plush chew toys. She knows no fear.

As I crept closer to get a better shot of the furry brown critter, it quickly sat up and stared at me. I didn't want to get mauled so I backed away. It dropped to all fours and waddled off.

365-35 Woodchuck
Day 035/365

Akemi tugged at her leash to let us know her toy was getting away. Of course, as the mean old people that we are, we didn't humor her. As we walked away, she kept turning back to catch another glimpse of her new friend. Our cat will have to suffice.

Was it play dead or climb up a tree if you run into a black bear?

- Cassaendra

Lobster Roll

365-34 ABP Lobster Roll
Day 034/365

When I read the order form at Au Bon Pain to select a sandwich, my eyes were drawn to a new item that was starred: Lobster salad sandwich. I had to try one or three out with cucumbers (free add-on).

Most menu items cost anywhere between $1.99 for a simple bagel, to $8.00 for a crafted sandwich with premium [paid] extras. Imagine my surprise when I looked up at the menu board, after ordering one, to discover that it costs $12.99. It is a good price for a lobster sandwich, yet, the price was still a bit startling.

365-34 ABP Lobster Roll Sawed
Day 034/365

I must apologize for the messy appearance of the cross section. My only weapon on hand was a very small and flimsy plastic saw I did, tearing apart the croissant and squishing the sandwich.

Au Bon Pain was not stingy with the filling. Thankfully, there were no pieces of celery, onions, etc. in the "salad," just mayonnaise, so I could actually taste the lobster. Alone, without mayonnaise, the lobster has a rather poor texture, as if they were previously frozen.

It still is a delicious sandwich, and something I would order again!

- Cassaendra

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Day

365-33 Another Day
Day 033/36

Today's weather was near perfection, as far as summer goes. The atmosphere felt dry, there was a regular breeze, temperatures were in the 70s°F. Perfection would be temperatures in the 50s°F.

Akemi likes to watch people. She likes to sit in the shade. She loves children, but she does not like to be pet by strangers, especially if they are on bicycles. Akemi is complicated.

- Cassaendra

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


365-32 Cold Storage
Day 032/365

Approximately 20 days after demolition, the sun sets over the final sliver of the massive Cleveland Cold Storage building.

Will there be anything left standing tomorrow?

- Cassaendra

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Four days off doing nothing and it's finally catching up to me. I feel spent, and falling asleep as I type this.

Our place is like a furnace, so it is always 10-15°F warmer and a lot more humid than the actual weather outside; okay in the winter, oppressive in the summer.

After perusing Melt Bar & Grilled's menu online last night, we decided to cool off by going there for lunch. My intention was to try the Firecracker chicken melt ($11.00), the melt for the month of July, and to try a crab cake ($3.00).

The plan was to arrive when the restaurant opened at 11:00. We left late, tried a new "quicker" route, and arrived at 11:30, just in time to nab the 2nd to last free table.

During my previous 2 visits, the lovely blue pressed tin ceiling has always stood out because it's as if time has frozen in the midst of the hectic blur. Multiple television screens ran Star Wars, a show that reminded me of Teletubbies but not as perverse, Scooby Doo, and a cooking show. The bar was full by the time our order arrived.

365-31 Crabcake

There was an error that occurred so I received the crab cake appetizer ($8.00) instead of the side order. Our server apologized profusely and promised that only the add-on price would be charged. Poor woman.

The crab cake was tasty, a lot more seasoned than I prefer (none), but it works here because it isn't packed with celery, onions, and other nightmarish ingredients. Also served is a red pepper and corn salsa, which has a whiff of spiciness, and a creamy chipotle dip that was tangy, smoky, a slight kick, and a hint of celery salt.

When my sandwich arrived, I gasped at the enormous serving size. After taking several pictures, I was already full from the sight of everything!

365-31 Firecracker Chicken

The sandwich wasn't scorching, but each bite had a little heat from the ancho, pasilla negro, cayenne, and chipotle dried pepper rub used on the blackened chicken. Also stacked within the sandwich were grilled pineapple, pepper jack cheese, and generous portions of avocado. I would love to order this sandwich again!

Bug admitted to being envious since my sandwich was 150% bigger than his, but quietly polished his El Diablo cheeseburger filled with fried jalapenos and pepper jack cheese. The same spice rub that was used on my chicken was used on his burger.

365-31 El Diablo

We discussed getting dessert, despite filling 2 take-out containers of leftovers from my order alone. There were two dessert specials for July -- Rocky Road bread pudding and peanut butter cup cheesecake.

The bread pudding special changes monthly. Rocky Road bread pudding is described as baked with peanuts and chocolate chunks in the chocolate bread pudding with a marshmallow cream sauce, and chopped peanuts and chocolate chips. Vanilla ice cream is also served.

The monthly cheesecake special is peanut butter cup cheesecake; cheesecake with chocolate peanut butter cups, and peanut butter (made in-house) and chocolate toppings are drizzled on top.

How decadent! What a choice to make, in addition to their regular dessert, a fried Twinkie. We decided that we would order the dessert as take-out later in the month.

The prices are reasonable, and despite how busy the place is, I never feel rushed out of my table. It's no wonder people return.

- Cassaendra

Melt Bar & Grilled
14718 Detroit Ave
Lakewood, OH 44107
Tel: (216) 226-3699

Monday, July 11, 2011

Day Off

Several months ago, I put in for a couple of days off work today and tomorrow to participate in a course that would take us out of town. With Bug being ill the past week, we decided to be lazy in this crazy heat. I realize the weather could be worse -- in Oklahoma, it was 110+°F and humid yesterday -- but it doesn't erase the discomfort we are experiencing (85+°F with 70+% humidity). [Tiny violins playing] -- yeah, whatever

I woke up this morning at 06:15 drenched in sweat and peckish. Bug woke up a couple of minutes later.

We shuffled into the kitchen. Bug decided to make hummus and threw the chickpeas that were soaking in a container on the kitchen counter for 2 days into a dutch oven to cook for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, I rooted around in the refrigerator and freezer for something quick and filling to eat. I found a container of leftover miso soup that Bug had made a couple of days ago. Instead of the usual wakame, tofu, and daikon combination, he added red peppers, tofu, and greens, which imparted a sweeter flavor to the soup. An unopened bag of frozen mussels that expired last month and a bag of frozen edamame were extracted from the freezer.

365-30 Miso Mussels Udon

In the time it took to cook the udon and rinse the noodles thoroughly with cold water, the mussels were done, miso soup was warm, and I freed a cup of edamame out of their shells; a handful of which marched into my belly before they hit the bowl.

As much as I love noodles, they are an infrequent meal choice for me of late. Prior to my last bowl of noodles (Day 014/365), it had been a couple of months.

As a result, I savored the experience and gleefully slurped the noodles and picked apart the plump, salty mussels. The noodles were a much appreciated gift from Japan, perfectly slippery taking minimum effort to quickly glide into my mouth.

Bug made a fruit freeze with blueberries, strawberries, and oranges while I was outside taking pictures of my bowl of udon.

365-30 Berry Orange Freeze

The drink was a fruity and cleansing treat without any added sweetener.

What a pleasant start to a day, if you exclude our sweat-soaked clothes.

- Cassaendra

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hazy Days of Summer

Every once in a while, I run into a cat who loves to startle me by lurching out at us from behind a pole, sign, box, cup only to sit a couple of feet away and stare. Because the cat appears to have no fear of dogs and people, I can't tell if s/he wants to lunge at me and gouge my eyes out or play with Akemi. Of course, all Akemi wants to do is play with this cat because she is under the impression all cats are "playful" like his swatting bag at home, Yoru.

365-29 Cat Dream

I've had two full versions of Photoshop of my own over the past 15+ years. When I replaced my computer earlier this year, I mercifully allowed my copy of Photoshop 7.0 (2002) to cross that RGB bridge to the other side. [Wait, does that mean into RL?]

It is unlikely that I used Photoshop to its full potential. It was more or less relegated to making flyers and greeting cards, as well as forum signatures, animated GIFs, etc.; essentially what one would expect to create mostly on Aldus PageMaker, which I also owned. Being in college had its perks -- the education discount. It made ridiculously priced software, typically priced at around $400 back then, more affordable (~$200).

Late last year, I discovered a small Wacom Bamboo writing tablet for ~$40 that included Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0. I tinkered with the writing tablet and loaded Elements, but primarily used Photoshop 7.0 until I switched computers several months later.

Photoshop CS is out of my price range, even though I find myself fooling around with the program anywhere between 10-30 hours weekly. Discovering of a different way of doing something or a new process, as I did last night, is quite gratifying.

365-29 Alley Dream

I don't remember what I was trying to do. What I did do was create 2 layers, duplicates of the original picture, blurred (Gaussian) 1 layer, raised the brightness and contrast, then lowered the opacity. With the 2nd layer, I played with the tint and opacity, as well as the positioning of the layers.

I've played with layers and opacity back when I used to make forum signatures on EverQuest, so that wasn't anything new. For some reason it didn't dawn on me to use it in this way to niftify a picture, or overprocess it to death (more likely). Also, if I ruined the image, all I have to do is delete the layer.

Differences that I miss between Photoshop and Elements is having more control over process history and not having limitations on how far back in the document history I can go, unless I'm doing it wrong. Also, a major tool that I frequently used was custom brushes, which afforded me additional texture.

Elements is excellent for the price, as it covers the standard nuts and bolts, and then some. On the other hand, CS gives you an array of customized nuts and bolts, washers, screws, and the press to work on any task, to justify its price tag for those who need much more than a photo processor. Who would buy a Corvette if a Camaro looked and performed the same?

- Cassaendra

Saturday, July 9, 2011


365-28 Bye Bye

It was just 11 days ago when these mushrooms were a cluster of fresh, fuzzy evil eggs, just-emerged from the earth. Several days later, the fleshy firm-capped pillars stood proudly.

Withered and sallow, their remaining time in this realm will not be long. Their tract will sit empty, at least until the next generation arises...unless they devolve into ZOMBIE 'SHROOMS!

- Cassaendra

Friday, July 8, 2011

Zombie Bird

365-27 Zombie Bird


- Cassaendra

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cold Storage III

Being someone who despises sunny, hot, and humid weather, today was pleasantly tolerable - low 80s(°F), lower humidity, a slight breeze, and a thin veil shielding us from the sun. A wonderful surprise would have been temperatures in the 50s(°F), rain, and a brisk breeze.

We paid another visit to what remains of the Cleveland Cold Storage building (2nd visit, 1st visit). It is now more rubble than its former self.

365-26 Look Ma No Tower

The water tower skedaddled. It was there yesterday morning, and vanished that afternoon; nary a trace of its existence to be found. Brenda's prediction must have come true! The tower really was an evil war machine! It must have left to take over something a little more challenging than an eroded building in a crumbling Buffalo.

365-26 Cold Storage Chomp

Heaps upon heaps of structural cabling were set aside like a wreath, as if paying respects to itself.

365-26 Electron Microscope

It reminded me of electron micrographs of stuff that you don't want to know exists -- on your lips after your kid has given you a sloppy kiss having just a few seconds previous licked the waxy smear off a public transportation window, on door handles exiting restaurant bathrooms, ...


- Cassaendra

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Everything Nicey

I love kettle chips. Target's Archer Farms chip section is a weakness of mine due to its ever-changing variety, which can sometimes result in high drama. One has to learn to become detached or suffer grief time and time again.

Bug loved, and I do mean LOVED, their wasabi kettle chips. This affair did not last very long as the bags disappeared off the shelf about a year ago. He continues to mourn the loss of his beloved.

Today, I tried their Sweet and Spicy Thai-Style Chile kettle chips.

365-25 Archer Farms Thai Chips

The chips were crisp, as expected, upon opening. As with all Archer Farms chips, there is a silly plastic grip-seal that runs along the majority of the width of the bag to prolong the life of the chips upon repeated trips to the bag. Really? People actually put the bag down and don't consume it all in one sitting?!? Of course, I jest. It survives two chip attacks.

I'm not sure if it's the result of the 80+% humidity the past few weeks, but with each subsequent session I have found that the chips turn stale quite drastically. Therefore, by utilizing maximum tastiness logic, one must eat these chips in one (1) sitting.

365-25 Archer Farms Thai Chip Bag

The photograph on the bag does not do the chips justice. There is a noticeable difference, even with my rather rudimentary picture taking skills.

The chips are tangy, salty, sweet, and have a wee bit of a zip. I'm not sure from where the Thai inspiration comes, unless it's the chile. If you like barbecue potato chips, I am confident you will like these chips.

- Cassaendra

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Forest for the Trees

365-24 Forest Tree

Day 024/365. Is it an aerial shot flying on a glider over the Everglades or a tundra?

Nothing so quite as distant. It is just a shot of the north side of a tree trunk. In the southern hemisphere, this would have been the south-facing side of the trunk.

If I visit Australia, I wonder if I'll detect any differences without focusing on it.

- Cassaendra

Monday, July 4, 2011


We enjoy eating at Famous Dave's because their food is delicious, consistent, modestly priced, and the service ranges from average to excellent.

I believe am pretty open-minded to variations of food that I am familiar with, namely local Hawaiian and Japanese, but find myself to be critical when specifically labeled dishes are advertised as authentic or a key component of the dish has changed.

Despite having several well-loved items on their menu, I looked forward to trying the Huli Buli chicken ($11.99) when I saw it advertised, intrigued to find out what the "Buli" was about and hoped I would not be disappointed.

The platter arrived with three chicken thighs that were charred nicely, corn on the cob, and a corn muffin. I chose as my sides, Firecracker green beans (onions, bacon, garlic) and steamed broccoli (touch too much salt). Its major departure from typical huli huli chicken was the presence of fresh sauce slathered all over the thighs.

365-23 Huli Buli Chicken

I do not normally eat chicken skin, but sampled a small piece. The sauce had a slight sweetness and a spicy tinge that worked well with the charred skin. Their roasted chicken is always moist, cooked to perfection.

From their website, the sauce is made of ketchup, shoyu, brown sugar, honey, ginger, garlic, lime juice, rice vinegar, Maggi sweet chile sauce, sambal oelek, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.

The serving was quite generous and fed me for 2 full meals, even after giving Bug 1 thigh, some of the green beans and broccoli, my corn muffin, and half of my corn.

Bug ordered his usual, the dinner platter with a choice of two meats ($18.99) -- 1/2 slab Memphis style (dry rub) baby back ribs and Texas beef brisket. His sides were potato wedges and cole slaw with horseradish. Their brisket was fantastic, smoky and tender, as always.

On the way out, we took advantage of their holiday priced full rack of ribs and brought home Memphis style baby back ribs ($15.99).

365-23b Rack Memphis Baby Back Rib

The dry rub is delicious but salty to my palate, but I'm also sensitive to salt. Under the thin, perfectly charred topmost layer of spiced rub and meat lies a tender and moist, smoked treasure.

As to whether I would order the Huli Buli chicken again -- while I cannot find any glaring faults in the dish, I probably wouldn't order it again. There are other dishes I adore, like the beef brisket and smoked salmon salad.

- Cassaendra

Famous Dave's
26410 Great Northern Shop Center
North Olmsted, OH 44070
Tel: (440) 777-0200

The District

In early April, we took a quick day trip to Washington, DC to attend the National Cherry Blossom Festival and visit the World War II Memorial. Where does the time go? It has been less than 90 days, and I am drenched in sweat just sitting here in the humid heat.

Cherry Blossoms 2
Under the cherry tree

Temperatures were in the 20s (°F) and it was hours before dawn when we packed Akemi into the back seat with the cooler. This was her first trip out of town so she was intensely curious of all the strange sights and smells along the way. Unlike me, she did not fall asleep during the entire 7-1/2 hour drive.

Driving across Pennsylvania was a bit treacherous at times with the intermittent heavy snow bands.

PA Drive to DC
In Pennsylvania

When we stopped to gas up and eliminate, I saw a bag of Utz barbecue chips sitting on the shelf on my way out. I read in various places online about how wonderful Utz potato chips were, so quickly grabbed a bag and paid for it. Like a junkie with a fix, I tore open the bag.

The scent that emanated was gamey, not what I expected. As a result, the flavor turned me off even after trying on 3 separate occasions along the drive. It was probably a bad bag of chips, since I cannot imagine something like this being palatable. It's not like I bought a bag of deep fried intestines. Perhaps that was an unfair comment, since I have not yet tried deep fried offal. I'll give their chips another try the next time I'm in PA.

As if traveling in a magical land or crossing zones in an MMORPG, the snow switch was flicked off as soon as we left the Pennsylvania border and entered the warmer Maryland climate. When we headed out that morning, I did not believe the DC forecast of mostly cloudy, rain, with temperatures in the 50s.

Cherry Blossom Map
Festival map

Despite the aid of a handheld GPS, we still drove around for 30 minutes recalculating wrong turns, nearly running over people wandering the streets, as thousands of people shuffled everywhere we looked. We finally found parking (red star on the map) along the Potomac River in East Potomac Park, a couple kilometers away from the heart of the festival, and joined the thousands.

Until recently, I didn't realize that DC residents were not represented in the Senate, have a nonvoting representative in the House, and were unable to vote for the President until the 1960s. While it is merely a district and not a state, I find it interesting that not all Americans are represented.

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

Most of the sites along the Mall are grandiose; however, amidst the aura of magnificence, it is impossible to miss the World War II Memorial with its numerous pillars, each representing the states and territories of the Union, and columns representing the conflicts that took place in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Within the Memorial is the Freedom Wall. Each star represents 100 American soldiers who died or are missing. The plaque adjacent to the wall notes that there are 4,048 stars assembled.

WWII Memorial Freedom Wall
Freedom Wall

It is difficult for me to imagine this large plot of land was green in 2001, without the stone and water landscape. The construction of the Memorial was completed in 2004, only 7 years ago.

Nearby is the Korean War Memorial. Compared to the World War II Memorial, this memorial resonates more solemnly.

Perhaps it is the realistic statues of marching soldiers with flowing garb in the shrubbery. Or the wall of polished black granite etched with spirit-like images looking on. The World War II Memorial, on the other hand, is built with what appears to be symbols of strength and victory, with its tall, strong white pillars.

Additionally, rain tends to make for a more somber presentation.

Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Memorial

All the walking that we did made us quite hungry. Food and souvenir tents along with portapotty stalls were located in a parking lot along the Tidal Basin.

I stopped in my tracks when I read "teri mayo dog" posted on a couple of menus.

Terimayodog with fries
Teri mayo dog

Toppings included cole slaw with a little shoyu and French fried onions. It hit the spot or I was incredibly hungry. Seriously, it was tasty. The fries were pretty good too.

I realize we all poop and having a conveniently located place for this function when you don't know the town is a luxury, but it still made me feel a bit repulsed entering a portapotty.

Cherry Blossom Portopotty

Akemi did pretty well having walked over 5 hours with us. Even though her fur is weather-resistant, because of the heavy rain and construction, she became a bit muddy to her dismay. On the walk back to the car, Bug poured a bit of our bottled water onto her belly and feet.

As is customary with shiba inu, she preened herself and looked as clean as always in no time.

Akemi Meets Cherry Blossom
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

Akemi was zonked out for several hours on the trip home. It reminded me of the The Hunt for Red October where Jack Ryan's fear of flying due to past trauma, established early in the story during a flight to Washington, DC from London, is dead asleep on his return flight having undergone a harrowing fighter-helicopter-ship-submarine adventure.

Having traveled cross country twice (still missing a few states), I wish all Americans could visit our nation's capital and travel across our great country. We are fortunate to have beautiful, diverse, and fertile land, culture, and people.

- Cassaendra

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