28 April 2010

Linkage, Volume 101

Lawn Ornament Fight
buck attempted to defend his territory against a 640-pound concrete statue, and lost
via One Foot Tsunami

Fake Sinking Yacht
boat built to look like it is sinking
via The J-Walk Blog

Brent Jones Doesn't Exist (printer-friendly link)
lack of legal documentation left an 18-year-old without any hope for his future, until a newspaper writer got involved
via Miss Cellania

27 April 2010

First Time Flyer

A friend of mine recently traveled for the first time by airplane. She contacted me to ask whether I had any tips. My response: Why, yes, I do! Settle in and get comfortable, because this is long...

1. Dress Comfortably. Jeans turn into a straitjacket for your legs after a couple of hours in the air. Also wear comfortable shoes, since you will be walking a lot, that slip off and back on easily, for security. I also like to wear shoes with socks so I don't have to go completely barefoot through the security checkpoint. You don't know whether the plane will be warm or cool, so dress in layers, like short sleeves with a light sweater. Consider taking a pashmina (wide scarf) - it can be wrapped around your shoulders, laid across your lap like a blanket, or rolled up for a pillow. [On a personal note, ladies, you may have heard that an underwire bra will trip the metal detectors, but I have never ever seen or had that happen.]

2. Food and water. Bring a snack or two in your carry-on bag, something that won't get squished and isn't smelly. Buying water or other beverage in the airport is expensive, but I need water. I like to pack an empty bottle (Nalgene, Sigg, etc.) that I can fill in the water fountain after I pass through security, along with an assortment of water flavor packets (like Lipton or Crystal Light).

3. Know the 3-1-1 Rule. Liquids/gels in your carry-on luggage must be 3.4 oz (100ml) or less. All those little containers must be in a 1 quart-sized ziploc bag. 1 of those bags per passenger. (This rule limits the total liquid volume you can have in your carry-on. Larger volumes may be in your checked luggage.) Place this baggie in a screening bin.

Exception: liquid medications are not included in the restriction but must be separated and declared at the security checkpoint (placed in a screening bin). [Side note: I keep medicine (pills, not liquid) in a day-of-the-week divided container in my purse. Technically, you should have all medication in original containers when flying, but I only worry about that when traveling out of the country.]

4. Entertainment. Bring something to read (book, magazine) and something to listen to (mp3 player and headphones). Bring earplugs and an eye mask if it is going to be a long flight. I bring sunglasses in my carry-on as well - useful for eye shades on the plane and keeps them handy for when I get to my destination.

Many people like to watch a movie on a DVD player or laptop, especially if the flight is long or you have children with you. Make sure the battery is charged! To make a laptop battery last longer, dim the screen as low as you can stand it, turn off the wi-fi signal, and don't plug anything into it. You may also want a handheld game system (Game Boy, Nintendo DS, etc.). Be advised that electronic devices can only be used when the flight is at cruising altitude, not during takeoff or landing.

5. Miscellaneous. Gum or hard candy (for equalizing your ear pressure during takeoff and landing). Hand lotion, lip balm, eye drops, and possibly nasal saline spray (all because airplane air is very dry - don't forget to add these to your 3-1-1 baggie).

6. Luggage. You can carry-on one bag (anything from a backpack to a small pilot-size rolling suitcase) and one personal item (like a purse, briefcase, or tote bag). Your jacket or coat, umbrella, and newspaper don't have to go into your carry-on. Do not pack weapons of any kind in your carry-on (nail files and clippers are ok, but blades of any kind are not; tiny sewing scissors with blunt tips, sewing needles, knitting needles, and crochet hooks are all ok).

Even though most airlines now charge for checking luggage, it is worth it to not have to schlep everything through the airports. See individual carrier websites for specific luggage restrictions. [Alternative: ship your checked items to your hotel by UPS one week in advance for about the same price as airline checked luggage.]

Have an identification tag on the outside *and* the inside of your luggage. Especially If you have a black suitcase, do something to identify it at a glance - tie a colorful ribbon on the handle, for example. *Always* check the luggage tag when you claim it.

7. Security. Check in your suitcase when you check in for the flight and get your ticket (have your photo ID out and ready to show the ticket agent). Proceed to the security checkpoint. TSA will check your boarding pass and photo ID, then put your ID away.

Take off your shoes and your jacket or coat. Place them in a bin on the x-ray belt. Take your laptop, DVD player, and/or handheld game system out of your bag and place them on the belt. They may remain in a protective sleeve as long as there is nothing else in the case with it. Take your 3-1-1 baggie out of your bag and place it in a bin, along with your purse. Also in the bin: keys, coins, belt if it has a large buckle, and your cell phone. Keep your boarding pass in your hand. After you go through the metal detector, and all of your stuff has gone through the x-ray machine, collect your belongings and step forward out of the way to get re-dressed and re-packed.

8. What to Pack. You will need enough tops for each day plus one (so if you will be traveling for 5 days, pack 6 tops, just in case). You will need half the number of bottoms (plan to wear each pair of pants or skirt twice). If you will be traveling more than a week, consider doing laundry in order to minimize packing. Lay out your outfits before putting them into your suitcase - lay out each bottom with its two tops and enough underwear and socks for each day.

If you plan to work out, pack a gym outfit and shoes. If you plan to swim, bring a suit, coverup, and flip-flops (check to see if your destination provides swim towels). Think about double-duty items - your gym outfit can also be your swim coverup; your tee from the first day can also be your pajama top so you just need to pack pj bottoms).

9. Packing methods. Some swear by the rolling method - roll each item or bundle of small items and place them side-by-side in the suitcase.

I place all my toiletries (liquids in large ziploc bags in case of leakage), shoes (stuffed with socks to keep their shape), underwear (in a "dry bag" compression sack, found with camping supplies), and any other items in a layer in the bottom of the suitcase. I roll and stuff pajamas and tees/tanks/camisoles in empty spaces to make sure everything is snug. Then I stack all of my clothes together, with most wrinkle-prone on the bottom and most wrinkle-resistant on top, and fold them once together. I place this folded stack on the top of the suitcase and zip shut.

10. Timing. Get to the airport one hour before your flight; more if you intend to eat there before the flight. Boarding starts about 30 minutes before the flight, and the boarding door will close about 15 minutes before flight time. Go to the restroom before boarding, because the airplane lavatory is tiny and often icky.

I end with a request, on behalf of tall people and their knees: just because you *can* lean your set back does not mean that you *have* to recline it all the way. Take note of the person sitting behind you. A simple, "Do you mind if I lean back a bit?" goes a very long way.

Inspiration posts:
Pack It Up, by Lyida's Next Step
How to Make Sure Flying Doesn't Suck Out Your Soul, by Nothing but Bonfires

26 April 2010

Cafe Lou Lou

Cafe Lou Lou is a hidden gem in the Louisville Highlands, tucked inside The Loop Mall on Dundee Road, just off Bardstown Road. There is a large parking lot nearby, which is unusual for the area. We had a reservation and were seated quickly.

We started with water all around, and JD ordered the Founders Porter: "The nose is sweet with strong chocolate and caramel malt presence. No absence of hops gives Founders robust porter the full flavor you deserve and expect. Cozy like velvet. It's a lover, not a fighter." I took a sip and was surprised how thick and smooth the texture was. It had a really strong, bitter flavor. I think it would be good in an ice cream float. JD commented, "It's like drinking baker's chocolate. Try it again - it gets better as your taste buds get acclimated."

We ordered the "Spinach and Tomato Crispy Lavash - Flat bread topped with fresh tomatoes, spinach, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and finished with smoked salt." This appetizer was like a pizza, built on cracker-thin crispy flat bread, even flatter than a tortilla. The tomatoes and spinach were delicious and fresh, and the cheeses were melted perfectly. It would make a good light entree for one person, paired with a soup or salad for a complete meal.

We also tried their soup of the day, a summer squash and corn chowder. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. As a chowder, I assumed it would be thick and creamy, but it was only a little thicker than a broth soup. It was expectedly sweet but was overwhelmed by nutmeg and pepper.

JD ordered a second beer with his meal, BBC Nut Brown Ale: "BBC Nut Brown Ale has a diverse grain bill which lends this traditional English ale a variety of flavors that coalesce into a remarkably smooth and pleasant drink. Additions of various pale, caramel and dark malts create a smooth, sweet malt profile with hints of roasted nuttiness. Multiple additions of English hops round out the flavors and give this classic beer a true flavor of the Old World." This one was not as strong as the Founders Porter, but it was still a full-flavored ale. I could really taste the caramel notes.

I had Ommegang Witte Ale with my meal: "Traditional Belgian-style wheat ale with whispers of sweet orange and a touch of tart lemon." This pale ale had a refreshing, light flavor that I enjoyed. JD remarked that it tasted like a wine cooler and that he liked his two dark brews better.

For our entrees, we had two pastas and a salad. Many of Cafe Lou Lou's entrees can be ordered as a small or large portion. I am always glad to see this, since a full portion is often way too much food, especially after appetizers!

"Pasta Jambalaya - Rotini with chicken, smoked sausage, crawfish, and shrimp and a sauce of tomatoes and chicken stock." Oh, man, this was so good. It was not too soupy or saucy, but the flavor was extraordinary. Just the right mix of meats and seafood and pasta.

"Pasta Bolognese - Penne pasta with ground veal, prosciutto, Italian sausage, mushrooms and tomato cream sauce." This pasta was plated and topped with a good helping of mozzarella cheese, then baked until the cheese melted. There was a good amount of ground veal, but I only encountered one piece of sausage.

"Greek Salad - Romaine lettuce, Roma tomatoes, red onions, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, green peppers, with sundried tomato vinaigrette." All of the ingredients in this salad were very fresh and flavorful.

Cafe Lou Lou: Highly Recommended
The Loop Mall
2216 Dundee Road
Louisville, Ky 40205

The Overlook Restaurant

Nearly an hour outside of Louisville, near a quaint historic inn, lies a restaurant, precariously perched on a bluff. The Overlook Restaurant is situated on the outside of "horseshoe bend" on the Ohio River.

They don't take reservations, but with 225 seats (in a town of only 300!), we didn't need one. We were seated at a table in the corner between two picture windows, so that we could easily enjoy the gorgeousviews in both directions. Our waitress commented that it was one of the best tables in the house as she placed a card on our table with her name on it.

After we placed our drink orders, we were brought a basket of warm homemade yeast rolls and soft butter. The iced tea was strong and dark, not watery and thin like it is in many restaurants.

I ordered "Beef Manhattan - Slow roasted beef sandwich between two slices of white bread. Served with mashed potatoes topped with our rich brown gravy." This is one of my ultimate comfort food dishes, and I ate every single bite. I had steamed broccoli for my side.

My dining companions ordered:
Filet Mignon with salad, baked potato, steamed broccoli. The Overlook had just added Filet Mignon to their menu, in addition to Ribeye and Sirloin. The steak was cooked to perfection. Excellent medium, tender, and juicy.

"Twenty Mile Hot Brown - That's how far some have told us they would walk for this treat. White toast topped with oven-roasted turkey breast, our homemade mornay sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon and sliced tomato." This was Little Sister's choice. She almost always orders a Hot Brown whenever she can find one on a menu. She ordered mashed potatoes and gravy for her side dish. She said the potatoes didn't taste very good, but I think it just didn't taste as good as the hot brown. When she had *almost* eaten it all, she pushed away the plate and declared that she wanted to save some room for dessert.

After we ate, we had to somehow find room for dessert. The Overlook had a long list of homemade desserts, so we ordered a variety: warm Black Berry Cobbler with vanilla ice cream, tart Cherry Pie, Amaretto Cheesecake, and fluffy Coconut Cake.

After we finished, we strolled down to the huge deck, which offers additional seating and will soon feature beers and pizza at Walter's Pub.

The Overlook Restaurant: Highly Recommended.
1153 West State Road 62
Leavenworth, IN 47137
(812) 739-4264

23 April 2010

Linkage, Volume 100

Yay me! One hundred exciting linking adventures!

Your Friend didn't get Mugged in London
beware this and other types of email scams
via Cockeyed

Early Graduation
high school senior who had been fighting bone cancer was given the opportunity to graduate a month early, one week before he died
via Neatorama

The Computer Teardown
how computer guts are like people guts
via Parent Hacks

20 April 2010

Linkage, Volume 99

The Richest Family
whether it is a true story or fiction, this a sweet tale and a reminder of what it means to be truly rich
via Flexible Dreams

All I Really Needed to Know
good life lessons from Pre-K
via Flexible Dreams

Gimme Five
stories behind five popular hand gestures
via Miss Cellania

collection of instant sound effects
via Plime

09 April 2010

Linkage, Volume 98

FarmVille Bill
12-year-old spent more than £900 on FarmVille, first emptying out his £288 savings account, then using his mother's credit card
via Neatorama

Not Free Just Got Even Less Free
via Plime

World's Saddest Cookbook
seems like a lot of food for one person
via Neatoramanauts