San Francisco signs

The first step is knowing where you're not.


Would you stop?

The scene: You pass through the DC metro on your way to work. Just inside the doors, a young man with shaggy brown hair plays the violin. It's classical music, maybe not something you immediately recognize. Do you stop and listen or hurry past?

What you don't know: The young man is acclaimed violinist (and IU alum!) Joshua Bell. His violin is a 1710 Stradivarius, considered among the most acoustically perfect ever made and valued at over $3 million. The music is Bach's Chaconne, widely thought to be one of the greatest pieces of music ever composed.

So, do you stop? Check out this article and watch the video below to find out what happened when The Washington Post set up just this experiment.


The Rich Have Feelings, Too

Anyone who enjoys Tom Wolfe should check out his short story in Vanity Fair. It should help tide you over until Back to Blood is released later this year.

Photo by Felipa Maeda



This disconcerting mural greeted us in the Denver airport. I'm not sure what they were trying to tell us, but we at least made it through our visit without needing a gas mask.


Easy fudge brownies

Easy fudge brownies

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 c flour

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 8x8 inch pan.

Melt chocolate and butter in medium saucepan over low heat. When thoroughly melted, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. When cool, stir in eggs, vanilla, sugar, and salt. Mix until well blended. Add flour, stirring just enough to incorporate.

Transfer to prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.


Makin' pickles

I made a batch of homemade refrigerator pickles this weekend. No canning required! My gram used to make this with a mix of cucumbers and onions. You can also add banana peppers for variety.

Homemade pickles

1 medium-large or 2 small cucumbers
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2/3 T sugar
1 t dried dill (or 1 T fresh)
1 t mustard seed
1 t salt

Slice cucumber (or onion or pepper) very thin. Place in a glass jar with garlic and bay leaf.

Combine water, vinegar, sugar, dill, mustard seed, and salt in small saucepan. Heat until sugar is dissolved.

Pour liquid into jar, cover, and cool.

Refrigerate overnight.

Photo by Renee Comet from Wikimedia Commons

Scenes from Paris: Nuts!


Red Mango

Last week, Kurt and I headed to Red Mango in Broad Ripple to sample their frozen yogurt. I'd heard good things about Pinkberry and read that Red Mango offered a similar product. The girl behind the counter told us a bunch of facts using words like 'probiotic' and 'natural' that I missed because I was scoping out the toppings. You can choose from four yogurt flavors - original, pomegranate, green tea, and citrus - and a variety of toppings including fruit, coconut, chocolate, and cereal.

I opted for citrus yogurt with kiwi and mochi (sticky Japanese rice balls) while Kurt got the original yogurt with blackberries and raspberries. The original surprised me because it wasn't the vanilla I was expecting but instead a true, tangy yogurt flavor. It reminded me of Greek yogurt and was only mildly sweet. My citrus had a solid yogurt flavor but also a nice sweet-tart quality that I enjoyed. The kiwi was a perfect match and the mochi added an excellent chewy texture. I would definitely get this combo again. Kurt was pleased with his, as well. It's hard to go wrong when gorgeous, fresh summer berries are involved.

The shop itself is a bit unusual. Minimal and stylish, it lacks tables, instead offering 7 (yes, only 7!), upholstered chairs around the perimeter. We were comfortable, but if you go at a busy time, expect to stand or take your order with you.


Dayton day trip

Last Friday, Kurt and I ventured east for a day trip to Dayton, OH. While Dayton might seem like a strange choice, Kurt has wanted to visit the Air Force Museum for quite a while. I looked for other things to do in the area and was surprised by how many options there were. We may head back someday to check out the places that didn't make the cut. Since Kurt wanted to spend most of the day in the museum, we opted for the following four destinations:

1) National Air Force Museum. Anyone with an interest in aviation will love the National Air Force Museum. There are three hangars filled with restored aircraft spanning over 100 years of flight. It was amazing to see the progression of technology and to get up close and personal with fighter jets and bombers. My favorite was the SR-71 "Blackbird". In its day, it held records for speed (Mach 3) and altitude (85,000 feet). Truly a remarkable aircraft! There is an IMAX theater on the premises, and we caught the noon showing of Fighter Pilot which we both enjoyed. Another must-see exhibit is the Apollo 15 spacecraft. It's amazing that such a small, low tech (to modern eyes) craft was able to visit the moon and arrive safely home. Tip for the photographers: The lighting is consistently low, so bring a tripod/monopod if you want to get shots inside the museum.

2) Young's Dairy. Young's Dairy is located about a half hour northeast of the museum in Yellow Springs, OH. In addition to excellent homemade ice cream (don't miss the chocolate-peanut butter!), they have batting cages, mini-golf, a driving range, a petting zoo, and a restaurant. The environment is cheerful and kid-friendly and well worth the drive over from Dayton.

3) The Cox Arboretum. The Cox Arboretum is located on Dayton's southside. Although a major shopping area is nearby, once inside, you feel miles away from the city. The grounds are beautifully landscaped with topiary, several ponds, and a meditation garden. August visitors can also enjoy a stroll through their Butterfly House which is open daily until 4pm.

4) Amar Indian. Located minutes from the arboretum, Amar Indian is one of the best-reviewed Indian restaurants in the Dayton area. Kurt tried the chicken korma and bhatura (layered fry bread), while I sampled the vegetarian thal. Both dishes were excellent, with the bhatura being a surprise favorite. Be warned though that the dishes are spicier than you might expect. Our "medium" dishes were solidly "hot" in my book. If you're uncertain, opt for the milder version.


Simon's Cat (aka Life with Nelson)

We didn't eat THAT much

This is hands down the largest bill for dinner I've ever received. I'm thinking the 3 key stuck since the real amount was $23.84, not $2333.84. Our very stern waiter got a good laugh out of it when I showed him. I have a feeling the cashier is going to get teased for a while about this one. Needless to say, they were happy to void it and give me a new (and much smaller) bill.