Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What to do with all the extra snow

A number of years ago, there was so much snowfall in the Chicago area, that crews were told to dump the excess snow from streets and parking lots into Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. While snowfall from streets can't be the cleanest of elements, it can still be cleaned. Salt, dirt, rubbish, and various contaminants were just dumped wantonly into fresh water, drinkable water, inhabited water. Dumping into the Chicago River was stopped after the Bilandic Snow Fall of 1979 due to a car being tossed in as well. How this is any different than the Lake is for another story.
But couldn't this snow/water serve a better purpose elsewhere? Places where droughts and limited, if any drinking water exist? Places where a layer of snow is good for crops rather than be exposed to the harsh winter elements of the Midwest? In addition, this excess snow, which eventually melts, uses up valuable sewer and sanitation resources.
Not wasting time and energy on math, figure that there are almost 3000 miles of streets in Chicago alone, not counting alleys. Streets are anywhere from 10 feet to 100 feet across. Any snowfall of 3 inches or more becomes an issue not just for commuters, but also for space to put the excess snow that has been removed from the street. Take in all the streets in every incorporated township in the six county radius. That is a lot of snow, and a lot of water.
Removing this snow (and ice) and filtering the waste could greatly improve not only the quality of air, water, and land, but it could also benefit those that need it most. Pipelines of freshwater, sold to states and counties in need could greatly improve revenues in cash strapped areas. In addition, government grants could assist the communities in need of the water and aid. People willing to contribute to snow removal in their area can be compensated by tax breaks, as well as contract work, depending on availability.

Food Review: Sushi Nest, Elmhurst

First off, kudos to Elmhurst and their downtown overhaul. Not that this place was ever a dump, but this shows that the town cares about it's citizens and commerce. With that said, dinner was at an establishment called Sushi Nest (142 N. York Rd.), in a very popular section of the downtown. The theater is a few doors down, and other restaurants in stone's throw distance for a little competition. We went early, so the place was empty, but an hour later, business was flowing, even for a Sunday. The usual order of white tuna, scallops, spicy tuna roll, sea bass (Suzuki), spicy crab roll, roe, salmon, Philly roll was excellent. Fish was fresh and tasty, and we didn't have to wait a long time either. Presentation, which is always key for sushi, was great. What stood out the most was on the special list, called a Grenade, or Hand Grenade. It was $8 for two pieces. A little high on the price, but after the first bite, it was worth it. I've had the Sunny Side Shitake appetizer from Coast in Bucktown, so the taste was familiar. It was prawn and shrimp with other things that reminded me of the egg-lemon taste of the Sunny Side Shitake. All I can say is that they emphasize the Volcano Roll, but the Grenade gets the thumbs up. Overall, it is a little expensive, but if you want good sushi, which I know a lot of people have not had, this is a good place to go. Most of the good restaurants are in Chicago, but if you are in the Western Suburbs, go here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

How You Played the Game

I wrote this back on November 6th when the lower court verdict first came in. Anyone with a half a brain knows that any US controlled court, especially under these circumstances, would not overturn the ruling. I am pretty sure as much stands at the time I am writing this sentence as it did back in November.
What I find most intriguing about Saddam getting sentenced to hang by his own people is the anger that so many people have about the decision itself. From an American, middle-class, Catholic, tax-paying standpoint, there are Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds in Iraq. Of course there are several derivatives of each of these, but that's what I see. It would be like an Iraqi identifying a Baptist from a Methodist, or a banker from a lawyer on Wall Street. Saddam was a Sunni, and for the next 30 days at minimum, he still will be, whatever Allah chooses to do with him after that, only Allah knows. For a man who is unapologetic for everything he does and has done, he has never used religion as the excuse or the driving force. Allah was not his guide, nor his mentor.
If Islam, true Islam, is anything like Christianity, he can be forgiven for his sins, if he wishes to do so. He respects Islam, and does not use the name of his religion in vain, so he may have that going for him when the great scorer picks up the chalk.
No doubt his own people, the Sunnis, are upset at the decision to hang him like a side of beef in the town square. Like him, they feel what he did was right. To Iraqis, Kurds appear to be subspecies, while Shiites and Sunnis can drink from the same fountain.
Saddam doesn't deny he poisoned Kurds in hopes of exterminating them, he just feels he did nothing wrong. After all, it was his country. He makes the laws. What does it have to do with anyone else? His bad luck was that he was sitting on one of the larger oil reserves in the world. His mistake was calling attention to himself by invading Kuwait. One of the few Middle Eastern countries an American can walk with the guarantee that his head and body won't be miles apart within a 30 day period.
The biggest irony of the whole ordeal was that two men with the same last name brought him to his predicament. Two men that had no business in Iraq. But they are Texans. And Texans love oil. They love oil so much that they thought with their big head for once and befriended (adopted) the Saudi royal family, who coincidentally have the largest oil reserve in the solar system. Attaching them would mean that Americans would be folklore to the next generation.
So in short, Saddam did this to himself. It would have been in his best interest to have WMDs. At least you don't hang for that.
On of the judges, who was firm in his stance from the beginning, may have been Saddam's wake up call that his outcome was bleak. While Saddam continuously disrupted the court, the judge ordered him to "Shut Up." Anyone who has been in a court knows what that means. Convicts are silenced and lawyers with Ivy League underwear have teared up. But when you have caused 25 million people to live in fear for 25 years, and a bit less for years before that, being silenced can really and truly get you to shut up. It may not have seemed to humble him, but then again, this man had skin as thick as his heart was stone. I'm willing to be he didn't sleep that night.
Not long after that, he decided that the court and trial was tainted, which it may or may not have been, but that doesn't matter. He felt that he should speak when he wanted, but was reminded that he now had the rights of the very people he unjustly executed. None.
Saddam's fate is met with mixed emotions worldwide, and it seems like a majority don't want him executed. Which is tough to stomach from a nation built on the gun. This man murdered thousands of innocent people because of little more than their ethnic background. And while people in Iraq are happy (the Shiites) and angry (the Sunnis), no one should be surprised. Not even the man himself. Saddam was never going to see freedom again. Not in Iraq, not in the Middle East, and certainly not in Europe. Europe had the biggest opponents to the war, the last thing they want is a trigger happy US president declaring war on one of them for granting asylum. In addition, imagine the cost now and future costs of keeping this man alive. It was only right and fair that Iraq be allowed to try him, even if the people involved were pretty much hand picked by the US. But there would be no way that Iraq could afford to imprison ths man. And every one on the planet could bet their weight in gold that the biggest and most intense jail break in the history of man would occur as soon as the last wheel of the last C-130 left the ground.
What the execution of Saddam Hussein should mark, is not only closure for so many Iraqis, but also the beginning of the end for the US occupancy. It has become clear to every democrat and almost every republican that there were no WMDs, and we F'd up. Big time. It is also becoming clear that Saddam and his regime were the only people that could control this country. It is clear that while many feared him, many loved him too. 100% of the vote at each election doesn't lie. Our second reason for entering that country, and a distant second at that, was to free oppressed people from a violent dictator. One can wonder what the Iraqi people have to be thankfule for more: that Uday didn't survive to take over, or that George Bush had daughters. Uday was the true menace, not even controlled by his father. The Bush daughters have everything their father doesn't, the most important being a woman's nature. Women don't send their sons to war, and especially to one that doesn't involve them.
So barring any unforeseen events, Bush won. He got his man. Iraq lost because it is taking an entire extermination to kill one man. I always thought the saying went "sacrifice one to save many." While the western world may view the eastern thought as backwards, the opposite of this saying couldn't be closer to that view.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lost in Translation

Restless Oaf, enjoy your use
Like my hummus, it’s the chew
Can't escape from, the carving room
If you hate suntan, don't you do it two
Smell my table, sits just two
It's so cloudy, I cant make rue
Oh, where did they cook from?
Stole my rube!
And you dancing, it belongs to you
This is not for you
All thats secret comes from you
Dedications, not even true
With no powder, nothing to do
I still remember, why don two?
This is not for you

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats take House and Senate

Americans want their freedom back. Americans want their choice back. Americans want their country back. Now, they have it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Food Review: Restaurant 360 at the CN Tower in Toronto

One of Chicago's very own traveled to the land of our friendly (and border cooperating) neighbors to the north and visited among other things, Toronto. While Toronto has more than its share of sushi restaurants, we didn't have any Asian food the entire trip. The height (pun) of our dinner experience was supposed to be Restaurant 360 and it's 1,150 foot altitude above the world, it was anything but that. As was read on a website, the trip to the observation deck is complimentary with the order of any main entree. Fair enough. The cost of going up was not seen but has to be comparable to the price of the Sears Tower or the observation deck of the Hancock building, if you choose not to go to the Signature Room. The average main entree is about $30, give or take a few cents. We opted for the Prix Fixe, which included an Amuse Bouche, Appetizer, Main Entree, and Dessert for $68. The decision was to go with the baked oysters. Since the seating in the restaurant rotates, and the central part does not, one gets to see the kitchen, bathroom doors, front desk, and wine closet without ever leaving their seat. My first indication of dinner should have been the countless awards for Ambience. Usually that means smoke and mirrors. When my amuse bouche came, it was a single dryed-out oyster still attached by it's membrane to the shell. There was a lot of lettuce. Ambience. The appetizer arrived promptly and was a French Onion Soup with truffles and foie gras. Hands down, the best Onion soup I have ever had in my life, and can possibly rank in the top 10 of best soups I've eaten. If I had known the rest of the meal was headed where it was headed, I would've ordered 5 more soups at $9 a bowl. My entree arrived, double-smoked bacon wrapped tiger shrimp with organic atlantic cod. The plate had two medium sized shrimp on it, far smaller than any other tiger shrimp I've eaten, and almost two filets worth of cod. There were generous slices of artichoke and the other vegetables were fantastic, even in the absence of more shrimp. A deceiving listing to say the least. Finally my dessert came, the Chocolate Tower. A 5 inch high cylinder of white and dark chocolate filled with chocolate mousse, drizzled in raspberry syrup and other syrups I cannot immediately recall. At that moment, I realized I really did pay for my trip to the top, and be served mediocre food at best. The dessert was delicious, but not worth the bother. If I went again, I would steer far and wide of the Prix Fixe, and focus on the drink and appetizers instead.

Drink Review: Extra Strength Dieters' II True-Slim Tea

Upon a trip to a Japanese market, I scanned the aisles for the most herbal, ethnic tea I could find to cleanse my soul, my blood, and my body. White and Green tea do the trick, as does Chamomile on nights when the wind blows a little too hard. In aisle 6, situated between the Oolong leaves and the ramble of Kanji, I found my salvation: a drink that would help lose the freshman 15, and continue to eat the crap I challenge myself to everyday.

My first indication of the seriousness of the situation, were the testimonies inside the green box. The individuals who swore by the product had shed weight faster than a bomber plane low on fuel. The specimens each weighed in excess of 250 lbs, compared to my varying 177 lb structure. My goal was to reach my 18th birthday weight of 160 lbs, and had been within striking distance a year earlier with an altered Atkins diet, starving myself of my sacred Thai lunches and Italian dinners. Blueberry oatmeal breakfasts were replaced by sugar free jello and fat free cottage cheese, portioned. Swimming the mile each day may have helped, though there are studies that show swimming increases your appetite. Nonetheless, I achieved a 17 lb drop in 6 weeks, a marvel even for someone twice my size. 10% of your body weight is big. Though I gained only half of it back, I was not happy with the change. I yearned for something easier, healthier, and Asian. The box contains 12 tea bags, put together by child workers with boat oars. If the word mishandling is mentioned in the presence of the bag in water, flossing will be your chore. The box mentioned, not cautioning or warning, of first time users encountering "loose stool" the first few times the tea is drunk. "Loose" is a word that should have more footnotes than meanings. What I encountered was far greater than anything considered loose. I encountered "extra-strength".

As if fearing a lawsuit, or an objection to legality, the box prints the FDA number on the front, third line down. No. L10028390. A number I will never play in the lottery. Or perhaps I should. I can win the lottery, buy the company, and relabel the box with newer, realistic precautions. The first dozen that come to mind are:
1. True-Slim waits until you are at least one mile from your house or any sanitary toilet before it activates.
2. True-Slim assumes role when you are carrying 2 40 lb bags of topsoil and your keys have fallen in tall grass.
3. The tea will give you the worst stomach cramps you have ever felt, if you aren't a woman.
4. Since you won't have time to check when the panic button is pushed, be sure to have toilet paper on hand, and within reach.
5. If you have made it this far, it will be as far as you go.
6. True-Slim knows no boundaries. It does not descriminate. Especially when on a ladder.
7. Do not assume you have gas. You will be disappointed.
8. Do NOT consume before alcohol.
9. Do NOT consume on an anniversary.
10. If you have had issues for 5 days, True-Slim cannot help you. Proceed to aisle 8 of your local pharmacy.
11. Bring something to read. Perhaps that biography of John Adams you've been meaning to finish.
12. Takes 4-5 hours to begin. Carry a watch. With new batteries. And a second hand.

I have been through 11 bags, and am staring at the last one. $3.68 has been spent on agony, and limitations no human or living thing should encounter. You can set records for how many bathrooms you can use in 5 minutes. I have used all three toilets in my own house just going from the bedroom to the wash machine. I can cut my losses and enjoy my day tomorrow. I can continue to curse the Canadians for doing this to me. I didn't learn in Sault Sainte Marie. I didn't learn in Montreal. I could've learned in Vancouver if I had stayed that long, but Toronto, Niagara Falls, and Mississauga did it, and did it good. The bag is going in the garbage. Fool me 11 times, shame on you. Fool me 12 times, shame on me.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mardi d'Agneau

-two lamb shoulder chops
-1tbs garlic salt
-4tbs chopped canned artichokes
-2tsp jarred capers
-two eggs
-olive oil
-butter or margarine

Set grill to high. Apply garlic salt to both sides of chops. Apply chops and lower to low on meat side and medium on open side for 7 minutes. Mix artichokes and capers in bowl and drain any excess liquid to make almost pasty. Flip chops and apply artichoke and caper relish to cooked side. Cook for another 7 minutes. When finished, allow meat to rest while preparing eggs. Add olive oil and butter to pan and fry or cook over-easy two eggs. Apply eggs to top of chops and serve.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Coffee Talk: Caffeine and the Human Body

D: Updating a previous hypothesis of mine...if everyone in this country drank hot tea 3x a day we would save millions on health care.

P: What brings this up?

A health hypothesis of mine is similar, (in that of avoiding health care spending and low cost maintenance). I think everyone should spend one week of their year purging their bodies. One week is even too much, one weekend. I have read of many body cleanses that you can do in a 3 day weekend. I don’t like the term “alternative medicine”, but there are many things that are not risky in it that could work. One is colonics. Highly intrusive, but they say the average person has 10 lbs of compacted waste. There are colon flushes, but the cramps can be terrible, really interfere with your diet (throwing something else off), and can take a few days. But at the same time, the flushes clean out other parts other than the intestines, bowels, etc. I read of a liver flush that can get several ounces of stones out of the liver and gall bladder. The stones are almost completely fatty and cholesterol. There is several layers of plaque in people’s intestines that build up over time, and take up to one month to completely remove. Kidney flushes and lymph flushes are important because those are the sewer systems of your body. All of these flushes can be done with natural ingredients, and of course water.
Tea of any kind has been proven to remove anti-oxidants and raise energy and other values. You never read about the adverse effects of tea. Only alcohol, coffee, and soft drinks.
Water alone, two glasses per day, can boost metabolism by 30%.
The problem with holistic medicine is that doctors put fear into people that they don’t work. They are afraid to prove it because they’ll lose business. But I would much rather have a doctor (who never has to prescribe me anything) tell me once a year that I am in good shape, than one that tells me once a year that I am in bad shape. What is a family doctor to lose?

D: Just me being sick and drinking hot tea for the first time in months & months brings this up.

P: Since the baby was born, I was drinking more and more coffee. I found that I needed more an more each day. A strange addiction not because you JUST need coffee in the morning, but it almost makes you more tired in the morning, so that you do indeed need it. I was also feeling achy, which wasn’t right. About a month ago, I switched back to tea, both decaf and regular, and after day one I felt great. They say 3 cups of coffee a day is recommended, but at what expense? I’ll stick to the four cups of the highest anti-oxidant tea on the market.

D: Yeah, I hope to never succumb to the coffee addiction. I get hooked on caffeine from time to time -- mostly cans of coke in the afternoons that I can't live without, but I'm fine in the mornings. when I'm driving for long hours I swear by vanilla frappucino's, and that's as close as I get to the coffee bean.

P: If I need the extra kick, I make it a sugar free Red bull. Overpriced, but does the job. Still fighting the diet coke demon though. Down to 4 a day. That stuff is bad for you.

Bar Food Review: RAM's Wings

We’ll save you a lot of frustration and money by telling you to never order the wings from RAM. Biggest ripoff ever. We ordered two dozen last Thursday night at the one in Rosemont. The chicken leg looking parts of the wings, my favorite, ranged in size from my pinky to my thumb. No meat whatsoever. The wing part of the wing just had skin and meat you really had to work for. Don’t know what else to recommend, but save yourself from their wings. Not even good sauce either. The kind that twitches your tear duct, but fails to have any other effect on the sinuses, taste buds, or Scoville scale.