Saturday, June 7, 2014

A new PT sabbatical video

I've written multiple entries in the past about PT's sabbatical program, something I'm proud to be part of creating and supporting.  Another of our staffers, Corey, recently returned from his sabbatical, and now our video about his charity work is live.

To do his charity work, Corey went home, back to where he grew up, and gave his time to an institution helping children.

Check it out.

As Corey concludes about helping others, "This isn't rocket science; it's just...people."

Friday, June 6, 2014

What's the perfect meal after Video Games Live?

Scott and I considered this very question after we left the show Wednesday night.  The answer came immediately:  gamer and programmer health food.

That fine thinking is how we found ourselves at the Busy Bee at ten o'clock at night staring at this healthy side of mac-and-cheese (on the right)

Click an image to see a larger version.

and the equally low-cal side of loaded tots (on the left).

Oh, yeah, health all the way.

The meal only improved when our mains arrived.  Scott's loaded-tot burger, a phrase I never thought I'd hear or write, was a thing of wonder.

The side of tots with it only gilded the diet-bombing lily.

My more sedate (by comparison) burger featured only cheese, bacon, and a fried green tomato.

Note the salad on my plate.  We agreed the mere presence of a salad made everything healthier.

No, we did not finish all this food.

Yes, it was delicious.

Good times.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Video Games Live

Scott and I went to see this show last night, and we had a fun time.  We'd seen it last year and enjoyed it then, so we were happy to go again this year.

Before the show, we each got a Diet Mountain Dew, a videogamer and programmer staple.  I almost never drink the Dew anymore, so the first taste took me back to my programming days.  

As they were last time, the NC Symphony was in fine form, playing every song beautifully and entertaining the audience throughout.  Show host and creator Tommy Tallarico put together a good program, and conductor Emmanuel Fratianni did a fine job with the orchestra.  I was once again impressed by how good many of the compositions were, and I very much enjoyed the music.

I wrote last year that the show's biggest weakness was its creator, Tallarico, and that is unfortunately still the case.  He needs to gain control of his ego and let his show shine on its own.  Instead, he fronted the orchestra over and over, playing a guitar we often could not hear and prancing about as if he was a rock star.  Though he did frequently thank and applaud the orchestra and choir, he couldn't even remember that the name of the choir was the North Carolina Master Chorale.  In a final indignity, he closed the show with his traveling vocalist, Jillian Aversa, singing the Portal song as he played guitar--and the orchestra watched.  When your ego is so big that you make an entire orchestra of professional musicians, every one of them better than you will ever be, watch you play a simple guitar tune, it's time for a reality readjustment.

Tallarico, really, get your ego under control.

I also have to note that just as with last year's show, the best part was getting to spend an evening with my son.  I treasure all the time I get with him.  I hope we go again next year. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One of the great science fiction / non-science fiction songs

You know it is, and it's been running through my head a lot lately.

Now, it's in yours.

You could have a lot worse in your head.

Okay, one more, an unrelated tune that's also been bugging me lately, from nowhere, a ghost in my head, as so many songs become.

It happens.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Restaurant signs I can get behind

After dinner Saturday night, we were strolling the main street of Hillsborough, trying to work off six or eight of the eleven thousand calories we had each consumed earlier at Panciuto.  As we approached the front of LaPlace, a cajun restaurant, we saw this sign, which the staff had placed on the sidewalk out front. 

Click on an image to see a larger version.

The other side of the sign was equally great.

I have long wanted to try this restaurant, but it's always been too busy for me to get in. 

Now, I know I have to eat there.

Monday, June 2, 2014


I don't go to many Disney movies that don't come from Pixar, but this one intrigued me.  Maybe it's because, like many people, I'm a sucker for the gimmick of exploring different ways of retelling classic fairy tales.  Maybe it's because I love Angelina Jolie.  Whatever the reason, I checked out Maleficent the other night. 

Though it's not a great film, it is a good one, and I'm glad I went to see it.  Jolie's performance is wonderful, completely compelling despite the make-up and the weird lines it gave her already razor-sharp cheekbones.  Sharlto Copley chews the scenery with abandon and to generally good result.  Elle Fanning is exactly as the princess usually is, which is to say pretty and among the least interesting characters in the story.

I won't spoil any of the plot for you, because it does its best to surprise you, but if you don't see the ending "twist" coming, I'll be stunned. 

If you could go to only one of Chef or Maleficent, I'd of course recommend Chef, but if you've already seen that wonderful movie and are seeking an additional diversion, give Maleficent a chance. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

When you find yourself craving a Cubano sandwich... I was after watching Chef, head over to the Old Havana Sandwich Shop in Durham, and they will fix you up.  A group of us tried this relatively new restaurant at lunch today, and everyone enjoyed everything they tasted.  We sampled a reasonable selection of the menu--the Havana, their Cuban sandwich; the Caney, a modified Cubano with avocado but no ham; the vegetarian Baracoa; maduros; papas bravas; a grilled cheese on the Cuban bread--and we found no losers.

I recommend the place and will definitely go back.

Now, having said that, I still want to experiment with making my own Cubano, because the one I tasted, while quite good, was not perfect.  The bread was spot on, but the grill treatment wasn't ideal, nor did they spread quite the right amount of butter on it.  The sandwich should have contained more pork, and they should have more evenly distributed the meat on the bread.  The ham was also on the scant side.  The cheese should have been a bit thicker, a bit tastier, and better melted.  The cooks were clearly rushing to keep up with the large crowd of customers--a crowd I was happy to see--and that showed.

Again, though, I definitely recommend Old Havana.  We've needed more genuine Cuban food in the Triangle, and I am very happy these good folks are helping meet that need.


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