Blog Archives

The Season the Electric Company Yearns for…

Walking the dogs this evening, I noticed how many of my neighbors had covered their homes and their lawns with blinking lights, light icicles and other electric holiday ornaments… this on the same day we received our electric bill.

So it got me to thinking: somewhere in the caverns of the Electric Company’s office complex there is a group of accountants who can’t wait for this season to come upon them. No more do we hear calls for conservation and saving our resources. This is strictly a season for getting the electric meter to sprint forward to new and much higher levels.

Are there ever newspaper articles that say “Save money. Daylight paper decorations only”? Hardly. We encourage this kind of thing. Towns give prizes for best decorations (and they publish maps so you can drive your carbon sputtering cars around town looking at them all.)

And deep in the chasm of the Electric Company is the dreaded coming
of February when people try to conserve again. Brrrrr.

When was the last time you had an $85.00 Dinner? – Bill’s Restaurant Review of Potowmack Farm.

Elly and I, you must know, are not rich folks. Oh, we do all right, but I’m a retired graphic designer/web designer and she is one of the New Criminal Class – she’s a teacher. So when Elly pulled out the coupon she had planned to give me for Chanukah, but put it away and forgot about it, which was good for $25.00 off if we ordered two dinners at a restaurant in Northern Virginia called The Restaurant at Potowmack Farm, we decided to have a nice Friday Evening out. It’s about a 45 minute drive from our home in Shepherdstown.

We didn’t bother checking the menu on their web site, but only checked on the driving directions…it’s back country and up in the Catoctin Mountains, and, of course, we should have. The reviews of this place were excellent, and whenever reviews focus on the Chef (Christopher Edwards), we get curious. We’re hooked viewers of television shows like Top Chef and Chopped and all the restaurant makeover shows. We rarely get to eat at places with acclaimed chefs (there are very few, none actually, in our local area), and this seemed like an opportunity we couldn’t resist.

This is a lovely restaurant, located way up near the top of a mountain with a grand view of the Potomac Valley and the countryside below. We got there just before sundown and had a chance to see the spectacular view… if you go there, the view alone is worth attending a daytime brunch. The main dining room looks like a greenhouse, however this is a matter of design, it was obviously built directly for this use and has never been used as a place to grow vegetables. I should add, however, that Potowmack Farm is an organic food grower, maintains a commercial bakery and focuses on regularly changing local foods (they also buy a lot of their non-grown-there foods at Common Market in Frederick, where Elly and I love to shop for organics.)

The place is the cleanest restaurant I have ever been in…this would never be one of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. The staff is courteous… sometimes to an extreme… and provides exceptional service. Our waitress was Rachel, and she explained the menu as she poured water. The menus, by the way, are single sheet pieces, well laid out and typeset with our name at the top (actually, it said “Menu for the Smith Party” on top… Elly had reserved in her maiden- and professional name, Ellen Smith.)

One side had an ala carte list, the other had the Prix Fixe description. Rachel recommended, since we were new at the restaurant, that we try the Prix Fixe, as it had samples of everything they do.

And then we looked at its price: $85.00 per (an additional $55.00 for wine with courses… it;s a good thing we are not drinkers.) This was going to be an expensive night, even with the coupon, whose $25.00 would be eaten up in the tip!)

So we had a starter, an appetizer, another appetizer, a main course, a dessert series, and coffee. And, I have to admit, the things we were served had the beauty that you see on shows like Top Chef – everything was artfully laid out on fine, white plates…oversized compared to the food and acting like a frame… and sided with sterling silverware.

Now for the down side (it’s not that bad, so don’t look for something outrageous). Portions are extremely small. We expected small, based on our television experience and having eaten at very good chef-oriented restaurants like Volt in Frederick, but  this was really teeny.  Given all the courses, we didn’t expect to be hungry when we left. We were.

The other problem we had was the amount of salt used in some of the items… oddly enough in the sauce under a dish of raw vegetables which, I guess, was a salad (it was lovely to look at), and on the extremely tiny piece of smoked beef in the grand entree. The beef we also found somewhat tough and chewy (although the rare center was quite tender and not salty… I wish there had been more of that.)

The desserts were wonderful, though also small. My favorite was a dessert souffle that was larger than most of the items served.

I think Chef Christopher is an excellent visual chef and I wish he had a greater sensitivity to salt content on some things. Their bakery puts out lovely small cakes and muffins and grand breads. And just knowing that everything is organic and local is very satisfying. We are certainly interested in going again, most likely for a Sunday Brunch where we think we can enjoy Potowmack Farm for about half the cost of the Prix Fixe. We give it our Thumbs Up.

Potowmack Farm is in Lovettsville, Virginia. For current menus, reservation info and and driving directions, go to http://www.patowmackfarm.com.

My Car will now not be done until noon tomorrow…

…and I remain trapped at home. John Case is going to pick me up at 6:30 AM to get to the radio show setup at Mellow Moods (you can listen from 7:30 to 9:00 AM on WSHC 89.7) and I assume he’ll drop me off at Brown’s Auto Repair after the show.

It seems the new water pump (another part I didn’t know about) wasn’t delivered until late today and the guy working on my car won’t have everything back together until the late morning. This will only add hourly charges and watch the whole thing go beyond the $1200.00 they estimated yesterday.

That blows my evening out of the water, too. I was going to go to the Thurber Carnival rehearsal at Full Circle tonite to work on the lighting plot… looks like the next rehearsal I’ll be able to get to is Monday.  John is going to express my regrets to the Director, as he has to be at rehearsal at 7 PM. They haven’t run both acts in sequence and I have plenty of time to get the lighting down.

And life goes on…

Why Afghanistan is not worth the money the Pentagon is throwing into it…

This from Steve Clemons at The Washington Note:

The real GDP of Afghanistan is just about $14 billion.

And at current levels, the United States is spending nearly half the entire GDP of the nation in just 30 days — that’s right, half Afghanistan’s entire GDP!

This simply makes no sense. This is a huge misallocation of resources even if one believed that Afghanistan did represent a vital national security problem for the US. If one wanted to change the economic vector of the country, preferential trade and access to European, American, and Japanese markets would be one way to change the country’s course — though there would be politically consequential disruptions to firms and labor in the US that should receive impact support.

The costs would be trivial compared to what the Pentagon is demanding for a job that it is not designed for and in which it is not succeeding.

And I am getting so disappointed with Obama.

Quote For The Day – One of my favorite Congressmen sums it up.

“What George Orwell wrote about in 1984 has come true. What Eisenhower warned us about concerning the ‘military-industrial complex’ has come true. War is a permanent feature of our societal landscape, so much so that no one notices it anymore.”

– Alan Grayson (D – FL), as more money is demanded for the Pentagon.

…so he is proposing a new Bill called “The War Is Making You Poor Act”. Read about it in The Nation. See him introduce it in front of the House here:

Curious about what you, personally, are spending on the current Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

A piece from Moe’s Whatever Works blog on the near-Trillion bucks we are about to spend on the wars we are currently involved in took me to Costofwar.com, a site which we should all check on a regular basis. And then tell everyone else about it so the great mass of taxpayers know what’s happening with the money that used to give them an American lifestyle.

For instance, I looked up what those of us who live in West Virginia will be paying for wars in 2010, and what we could have gotten for the money if we had a brain in our heads:

Taxpayers in West Virginia will pay $1.9 billion for Total Defense Spending in FY2010. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
604,603 People with Health Care for One Year OR
56,614 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
39,134 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
362,641 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
346,567 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550 OR
27,218 Affordable Housing Units OR
879,476 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
292,229 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
38,711 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
1,690,691 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year

That gives the war spending figure a real value that we can ponder over, doesn’t it? I don’t think my Congressperson Shelley Moore Capito thinks about this. I don’t think my Senators, Rockefeller and Byrd are thinking about this. We are a small and poor state, and when I see what we are giving up in order to protect the world of commercial oil, it makes me want to vomit.

Perhaps, as I have often stated on this blog in a way which many have told me has the effect of beating my head against a wall, we should BRING THEM HOME NOW!

One More Quote (I couldn’t pass it up)

“Trust me, after taxes, a million dollars is not a lot of money.”

— RNC Chairman Michael Steele

Does this guy ever think before he speaks? Is he aware that the average middle-class American family lives on $50,000.00 a year (which means that the millions of folks below the halfway mark live on much, much less)?

Obama’s Weekly Address – Getting it back from the Banks

I have to say “Here, Here” to the President for his message this week. I get more and more upset with the Banks that we rescued that are now working hard to screw us again.

You go, Barack!

I have to salute Jim Hightower for making my New Year’s Day afternoon.

Here’s a clip from his piece “Lobbyists Take A Soak“…there’s more for you to read, or you can listen to it here: http://jimhightower.com/sites/jimhightower.civicactions.net/files/49-17_fnc.mp3
clipped from jimhightower.com

Here’s a startling number: 13,000.

That’s the number of corporate lobbyists in Washington, DC. Adding to their clout are the thousands of corporate executives who jet into our nation’s capitol city periodically for closed-door sessions with key lawmakers and regulators. If you wonder why such crying public needs as health care for all and environmental protection are constantly bent to serve private corporate interests – look to this army of hired guns and executive-suite dandies.

But let’s concede that influence peddling can be hard work. Such tasks as glad-handing and passing out campaign contributions – that’ll tucker you out.

That’s why the Ritz-Carlton is so crucial to the system. This swank hotel is a Washington oasis for frazzled lobbyists and executives.
Then there’re the little touches.
For example, where else do guests get a “Bath Menu” in their room? “Choose from an assortment of butler-drawn baths to ease your concerns,” says the menu.
Each bath adds 50 bucks.
  blog it

Quote of the Day

“The announcement of Goldman’s spectacular third-quarter earnings ($3.19 billion) was paired with the news that the company was donating $200 million to its own foundation, which promotes education. In Goldman dollars, that largess is roughly comparable to the nickels John D. handed out to children a century ago. At least those kids could spend the spare change on candy.”

– Frank Rich, in his NY Times op-ed “Goldman Can Spare You a Dime” about Goldman Sachs and its activities after being saved by our tax money.

The comparison with John D. Rockefeller is right on the money (heehee).

Here’s one for Theatre folks like me… one you probably haven’t seen…

Got this in my morning e-mail from Thomas Cott (who calls his posts “You’ve Cott Mail”… funny, no?). It was from a theatre web blog (which I am adding to my Blogroll) called 99 Seats:
Commentary: Why sports win out over theater — and what we should do about it

$ 943.3 million. $188 million. $1.1 billion. Those three numbers are the 2008 total revenues for the 43 shows on Broadway, the 2008 [ticket] revenue for the New York Yankees and the amount of money New York City contributed to the building of the new Yankee Stadium. If you want to argue that art is unnecessary, then you better be ready to argue that sports are even less necessary. And, yes, many, many people argued that it was a poor use of public funds to build a stadium. But that didn’t stop it. Sports win out because, despite the number of people who don’t like it, who can’t afford to go to the stadium, despite the overpaid players and despicable owners, it’s still perceived as a thing of joy and beauty for the whole city. Theatre can’t shake its rep of being just for the moneyed elites. A sports team is part of the fabric of a city, the spirit of a town. Theatre is a luxury. It’s controversial, a political hot potato, and nothing anyone wants to get caught dead supporting, unless it’s something that’s going to turn a quick profit, or get them in bed with a comely chorine. This is at the root of all of our problems in the theatre. We don’t rate enough for real government support. That’s why I support less non-profit and more for-profit ventures. More theatres eating what they kill, so to speak. More independence from donors and less need for government money.

This is something I’ve been saying for years, and it goes way beyond City governments and expenses. It goes back to the basics of our educational system where schools pour both money and requirements into athletics and put the arts on the First To Cut list. Did your High School or College require you to participate in Theatre? Did they require you to participate in a Sport? You tell me.

I’ve always felt that I’m in a distinct minority… I could care less about the Sunday football game on Television, but I’ll go out of my way for the smallest Community Theatre production. A trip to New York without going to the Theatre is a great waste of time. You see where I’m gong with this.

So if you think the arts are unnecessary, think again. PLEASE!

Want some humor this morning?

Click here for Protect Insurance Companies PSA from Will Ferrell

Quote of the Day

“And then these Republican bastards are joining with their Democratic bastard pals to lick the stinking buttholes of the health and insurance lobby so that the steady flow of money, and the high-end Congressional and Senatorial lifestyles, power and influence funded by such a flow, won’t be interrupted.”

– Lisa at Politics After 50

(Actually this is just an enticement for you to read a great post… one of the best I’ve seen on the current situation. Go HERE to read it all.)