Saturday, January 10, 2015

Eat at Panciuto

I've said it before, but it bears repeating:  If you don't already regularly eat at Panciuto, you need to head over there.  Everyone in the area should know this restaurant.  As much as it would hurt me personally, reservations should be impossible to get.  Chef Aaron Vandemark should already have won Best Chef in the Southeast in the Beard awards. 

Panciuto is, among its many virtues, one of the finest places to eat on a cold winter night, which is exactly why I was there earlier tonight.  With great food, a warm and cozy dining room, and a friendly staff, it's just the right place to be when you want the kind of meal you wish you could make but almost certainly can't.

The portions here are never small and rarely light, but they are always delicious.  Just check out my main dish tonight, a pork shoulder with polenta gnocchi.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Wow, was it wonderful!  The pork fell apart at the touch of a fork, was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and tasted amazing.  The gnocchi were a revelation, soft and flavorful.  Though I hate to admit it, I even enjoyed the grilled Brussels sprouts. 

Do yourself a favor and go to Panciuto.  You'll be very glad you did.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sometimes an overblown pop song

is exactly the right thing.  This is one of those times.  Who better to fill the need than Fall Out Boy?

Don't worry about the lyrics making sense.  Just go with it, and enjoy. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I knew I liked Carla Esparza

but I didn't realize until I read this article that she and I shared this level of ice-cream craziness.

Go, Esparza, go!

For those who don't know Esparza, she is the new UFC Women's Strawweight Champion.  I was lucky enough to see her live in Vegas in the fight in which she won the title. 

I have to admire the insanity of a thousand-dollar ice cream sundae. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I'll be at Illogicon this weekend

Yes, it's time again for Raleigh's own Illogicon, which is at the same Embassy Suites as last year.  I will be a minor guest there again.  I'm currently scheduled for two panels.

Friday, January 9, at 5:00 p.m., I'll be joining four other panelists to discuss "On the Shoulders of Giants: Essential Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reading."  I'm not saying that any of us will climb on each other's shoulders, nor that we will form a small pyramid from which we will rain down literary lightning on the audience--but you never know what might happen. 

Saturday at 3:00 p.m., I'll again be joining four other folks to talk about "Mechanics of Magic and Sci-Fi."  Whether we actually have to repair old cars using only SF and fantasy novels, or if we must wrestle actual working automotive mechanics, remains to be seen, but I'm sure the discussion will be entertaining.

If you're an SF/F fan and in the area, check out the con, come by, and say hi.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I can't wait to see Kingsman

If you don't know about this movie or wonder why I'm so excited, just check out this red-band trailer.

How can you not want to see a British secret spy agency movie that includes Samuel L. Jackson as a scenery-chewing bad guy?

I am so there.

This weekend, of course, has another must-see action film.

Oh, yeah.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Insurance company sleaziness

Right after Christmas, I received a letter (dated December 23) from State Farm, the insurance company that carries my homeowners policy.  North Carolina law requires that the insurance company notify you if it is going to increase your rate by more than the amount that the North Carolina Rate Bureau has approved.  That sounds good to me, a nice bit of consumer protection.  This letter notified me that State Farm was going to be raising my rate by one dollar more than the approved amount.  Sending a letter just to make a buck doesn't seem worthwhile, but the letter was, under the guise of alerting me, actually doing something rather sleazy:  It was giving State Farm a way to raise future rates without notifying me.

After the language about the current rate change, the letter included this lovely section:

I also understand and agree that this form shall remain effective for all future terms regardless of whether the premium charged to me at renewal is based on a rate greater, less than or equal to the rates applicable in the State of North Carolina.  I also understand and agree that this form shall remain effective for any continuation, renewal, reinstatement or replacement of the policy with another Homeowners policy issues by State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, except as provided by law.
Translation:  By acknowledging this tiny rate increase, I also had to release State Farm from telling me about any future increases.

Of course, I didn't have to sign this form, but if I did not, State Farm would not continue to offer me coverage.

What's sad for State Farm is that until I received this letter, I was actually pretty happy with them and had no plans to shop around.  Now, though, I trust them less than before and so will, when renewal time comes, check out other options.

Poorly played, State Farm.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Drugs vs. cough: Round 2 is still a draw

A little over a week ago, I reported that the drugs I was taking were fighting my cough to a draw.  Now, with my last antibiotic pill due tonight, I'd still call the contest a neck-and-neck race.  I've slept as much as I could reasonably manage over the last two weeks, and I've taken the antibiotics and nasal spray as the doctor ordered, and I am definitely better--but I am nowhere near 100%.  I still have a cough, and I am still feeling under the weather.  I have to hope this situation will improve.

To be fair to the doctor, I stopped taking the anti-cough nighttime pill two days ago, because it contains hydrocodone, which was sticking with me for a long time each day.  If necessary, I can always go back to using that drug to be able to sleep without coughing, but doing so is likely to affect my work, something I do not want to happen.

So, I'm going to have to hope that the lingering cough will vanish and I will fully heal.

More on this front in a week or so. 


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