Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No dirty title jokes, because this is a family website

I'm all for trying new food, and the stranger the better. Snake, durian, ants, cow tail, donkey, avocado milkshakes, and more have all found their way into my belly. (I am still a little disappointed that I passed up horse at that pizza parlor in Italy.)

So when we were at a steakhouse in Phoenix the other night and our server informed us that the "calf fries" on the menu were actually deep-fried testicles, the dish had to be ordered. (It was actually my brother who told the waiter to make it happen.)

They came out as well-fried pieces a little smaller than a golf ball, ten to an order with a side of cocktail sauce. They weren't bad: crispy coating on the outside and slightly spongy and juicy on the inside, but without any sort of off-putting flavor. Would I order them again? No, but they weren't horrible, and so far I've lived to eat another day.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bisbee and the bizarre

I'm now down in Phoenix. Despite being the end of September, the temperatures still regularly top 100 degrees. It hasn't bothered me too much, probably because I don't venture out of the house until early evening, when things have cooled down to a bearable 95 or so.

Last weekend, in a quest to find something to do, we decided to head to Bisbee, Arizona.

When we left, we didn't realize that the town was well over four hours away. Eventually we arrived, ate a quick picnic lunch, and then went to a tour of an old mining operation, where they've previously extracted copper, azurite, malachite, and turquoise.
After that, we wandered the town a little bit and did touristy things like eating ice cream and fudge (Why do tourists like fudge so much?), and ended up at the Bisbee Museum of the Bizarre.
Among the items on display were a cast of a Bigfoot footprint and accompanying hair sample, some dirt from Jim Morrison's grave, a vampire slaying kit, a fossilized fairy, a Fiji mermaid, a copy of John Dillinger's death mask, shrunken heads, and a two-headed squirrel. The room was smaller than most kitchens, but the admission was only $3, and I quite like random stuff like that.

We then piled back into the car for the long trip home, successfully making it through an immigration checkpoint en route. We thought about pretending to speak Spanish at the checkpoint, but those guys have guns, so we played it safe.

More photos from the weekend can be found here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Friends, fish, fire, and fun. And cold weather, beer, wine, and dogs.

I spent the long Labor Day weekend up at the lake. As with my previous trip up north, the weather was less than cooperative with my plans of spending lots of time in the water.

I dipped my foot in the water once, and then abandoned any ideas of getting wet. Fortunately, we had fire to keep us warm.

To fill the gaps in time left by not skiing, we played throwing games: ladderball (a.k.a. "testicle toss") and horseshoes. My friend also brought his dog with him, which provided some amusement.
I miss having animals around at all times, which is one of those things that makes me miss Alaska. Even at work up there, we had an office dog. Perhaps the animal issue might convince me to settle down and stay in one place eventually. Maybe.

Over the weekend, I also spent a decent amount of time on a boat not fishing. I didn't feel like buying an out-of-state fishing license for one weekend of trying to catch something that I'm allergic to.

I let everyone else do the fishing and instead took pictures and drank beer and wine. 

Easily the best part of the weekend was having the opportunity to reconnect with people I haven't seen in years. It has always amazed me how, with my close friends, I can be away for years (even the better part of a decade) and dive into conversation as if I had never left. I suppose it speaks for the quality of the people that I know.

It's almost enough to make me stick around. Almost.

More photos from the weekend can be found here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Go, Pack, Go!

In my limited time back home, I got the chance to do something very Wisconsin-ish: attend a Green Bay Packers game (that's American football, for any foreigners who might be reading this) at hallowed Lambeau Field.

Of course, we arrived early because we had to do some pregame tailgating: salmon in a homemade Caribbean marinade, grilled portobella mushrooms, and stuffed baked potatoes. And I may have had a beer or two.

The game, despite being just a preseason game, was fairly exciting, and the Packers won 59 to 24. And there were numerous cheeseheads in attendance.

I was impressed by how many people stayed until the very end, despite the lopsided score. Here's hoping the team has a great year; all of the dedicated fans deserve it.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Uncooperative weather

I made it up to the lake last weekend after a three-year hiatus. I had a good plan: arrive late and drink some beer around the campfire, then wake up the next day and pummel myself with excessive time on the water getting dragged behind a boat.

However, mother nature did not cooperate. It was raining and windy when we arrived, so no fire. The next day it was windy and cold, and the waves meant no waterskiing. Hopefully I'll have better luck over Labor Day.

I did get to teach my cousin how to play horseshoes, though.
They're heavy enough that we couldn't complain that the wind was affecting our accuracy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Life in a northern town

The last time I was home, shortly before Christmas, my stepsister mentioned that she thought I would have a better tan. I mentioned that I had spent the previous month in England, in winter, and then also mentioned that in Asia I did my best to avoid the sun. I've been burnt before, and I didn't want it to become a regular--or even an infrequent--occurrence. So I took precautions, and hopefully set the occurrence of skin cancer back at least a couple of years.

This past weekend, I went down to a lake north of Milwaukee. I spent a couple of hours out in the sun without a shirt and no sun screen, and did NOT get burnt to a bright red crisp. Gotta love summer in the north, far, far from the equator.

In which my mother is the technologically advanced one

I've been trying to figure out my cell phone situation. I looked at some pay-as-I-go phones, but most of them have pretty crappy or non-existent coverage in a lot of parts of the US, which isn't good for someone who doesn't know where in this great country he might end up. So I'll probably end up piggy-backing onto my parents' account, though I don't like locking myself into any sort of two-year commitment.

While poring over websites and good old-fashioned printed brochures, I said out loud that I don't know why I need a phone. "You need a phone," my mother replied sternly.

"You know, ten years ago nobody had phones and we survived," I replied.

"This isn't ten years ago, kiddo," my mom said.

I never thought I would be on the opposite end of that conversation with my mother.