Tuesday, February 20, 2007

HD or not HD? That is the question.

So this is a pretty lame representation. I used my phone to take the photo's - the camera is not even 1 MP in quality. I didn't use my regular digital camera because I'm too lazy to get it to be perfectly frank.

In any event, I find it interesting to flip back and forth between HD and non-HD when the same things are on at the same time Well, Star Wars - Episode IV was on HBO. Both the HBOHD channel and a standard HBO channel.

So I recorded on our DVR both at the same time so I can display both versions. Again, the camera phone quality is poo-poo, so disregard. Interestingly however, you can still see a difference; in my humble opinion (IMHO). For one, the HD picture shows the full wide screen of the shot, not a cropped off at the sides shot. That explains why in one screen shot you can see the guy in the "Bird's Nest" tower and in the other screen shot, you cannot.

In person, the difference is substantial. Even my wife - who really could care less what TV she is watching - notices a difference. It's so substantial - and I'm becoming so snobby about HD - that I find myself watching something otherwise less appealing to me simply because it is an HD signal and picture. Yes, I know. I'm pathetic. :o)

In case you didn't figure it out by now, the picture on the left is HD (the one with the guy in it) and the one on the right is Standard Definition (hence, no guy in the picture).

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Cholesterol - I'm at the age to start checking. :o(

Okee dokee.... So I am 34 - will be 35 in July - and my doctor wanted to check my cholesterol. Okay, no problem. I'm by no means old, but I am getting older and she (my doctor) felt it was good to get it checked. Also, she is a new doctor of mine, so it helps her learn more about me.

So anyways, my overall cholesterol level was absurd - on the low end - coming in at 149!!!!!. WOO HOO! Now, in general most are probably saying "who cares?". However, for those of you who know me, you know that I eat quite a bit more food than most humans. Not necessarily in one sitting, but defnitely throughout a given day. It frightens most people and shocked my wife when we moved in together and she saw her monthly grocery bill tab triple. My tab wasn't much higher since she doesn't eat much. :o) In addition to consuming mass quantities of food; I do not gain weight - literally no matter what I eat I don't gain weight. This is due in part to my very fast metabolism as well as my Crohn's Disease. Lastly, in addition to what I've already mentioned regarding my eating habits, I eat whatever I want. I add salt to food, I add sugar to already sweetened foods - including adding sugar to Frosted Flakes.

So this is the reason I am blogging about my Cholesterol levels - because it really shouldn't be this way. Oh, did I mention I don't exercise really? Other than living in a 3rd floor walk-up which also is a Tri-Plex requiring many trips up and down stairs. So really, I should be the poster boy of what NOT to do with regard to diet and exercise, let alone cholesterol levels. Yet, I seem to be experiencing the complete anthesis result of what I should. My wife, who eats well, doesn't eat meat, uses no added salt or sugar and exercises some has a higher than normal cholesterol level. Her Doctor wants to put her on meds, but at 33 years old, she is hesitant to start. Clearly, there are genetics involved in her numbers. I suppose you could say there are genetics involved in my numbers as well, but mine don't seem quite right to others.

If it makes anyone feel better, my HDL level is far lower than it should be at 38 and my LDL level is 70, which is good. My Triglycerides came in high at 203 where they would like to see me below 150. So I'm not the perfect picture of health, but I found these results all quite interesting.

As usual, I am proving that I am indeed a freak of nature. :o)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Snow with MINImal driving room

While we're not being dumped on with feet of snow like parts of NY State, the snow we are getting today is "Blizzard like" - at least according to news reports, etc. What's problematic with the snow is the wind and the snow itself being very light as opposed to wet. So the snow is blowing like crazy and shoveling is a virtually futile experience. You shovel and then moments later, the area you cleared has snow blown over it again.

In general, I would say such is life - we do after all live in Chicago AND it is February. It's not like this is happening in June or July or something like that. The only major challenge I have - well, two really - is the alley's don't get plowed by the city, which I understand, but it doesn't make it any easier. The second thing is my car being lower to the ground. She (my car is a she, her name is Sally) handles quite well in the snow actually. I have 17" wheels and tires - all-season tires - and front wheel drive. On a regular, plowed or even partially plowed street I'm fine. Driving through the alley to get to and from my garage is the challenge. Being so low, it is hard to "Plow" through the drifts, etc. DSC - Dynamic Stability Control (which I'll describe as the opposite of Anti-Lock Brakes in that it functions while in motion, not trying to stop motion) is great on slick roads. DSC is NOT good when trying to rock the car to move enough to go through the drifts. I have the S version - so my car is Supercharged (no, that is NOT what the S stands for) - which makes my car very quick. Quite powerful in fact. The only way to get through the drifts (see picture) was to turn off DSC, rev the engine to near red line and go.

This is still an endorsement for the MINI, just a word of caution in deep snow.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Snow white.....

Generally, I like snow. Especially when it's fresh and clean. That said, since becoming landlords, it is less appealing to me as the responsibility of all snow removal, etc falls on me and my wife. We have great tenants that do help and don't complain. But I have to be far more diligent with keeping up with it - plus simply feeling responsible to make the space they live more enjoyable - whereas if it were simply us, it would be less of an issue.

Here's what the weather report says... It will be interesting to see how close the report is to reality. I know Meteorology is not an exact science, but sometimes, it seems really in-exact.
Feb 12 Tonight
Cloudy with periods of snow after midnight. Low near 20F. Winds ENE at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of snow 90%. Snow accumulating 1 to 2 inches.

Feb 13 Tomorrow
Cloudy with snow. High near 20F. Winds NE at 20 to 30 mph. Snow accumulating 3 to 5 inches. Winds could occasionally gust over 40 mph.

Feb 13 Tomorrow night
Variably cloudy with snow showers. Low around 15F. Winds NNE at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of snow 60%. Snow accumulating 1 to 3 inches.

Feb 14 Wednesday
Mostly cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. High 17F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.

CMMC 2007 Chicago Auto Show Drive

This is a clip made and edited by Taylor Smith - Chicago MINI Motoring Club Board Member, MINI Owner and Enthusiast. Many thanks for the clip. I was present at this drive to the Auto Show this past Saturday, February 10th. I have a Chili Red Cooper S - however it's hard to distinguish one car from the next. GO BUY A MINI!!!!!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What does $25,000 for dinner buy?

Now, I've had the good fortune of enjoying some amazing meals at some of the finest restaurants in Chicago - which also are classified as best in the world. My favorite experience would have to be Charlie Trotter's. I've been to Tru, Ambria and a few others and for reasons I cannot put into words extremely well, Charlie Trotter's definitely was my favorite. It was an experience unlike any other. Mr. Trotter kind of invented the experience he created there and others have imitated - that is a compliment. We did the "Grand Menu" when we were there, which changes at least a few times per year, if not more. We also did the "Wine Accompaniment" which gives a different wine with each course of the meal. It was also by far the most expensive meal I've ever paid for - at over $600 for two people. This was for a special occasion - Anniversary - as spending so much for one meal is absurd probably in general, but definitely even on occasion.

That said, while the meal was fantastic - as was the entire experience - I cannot fathom spending $25,000 for one meal. Granted, this is all relative as to those who spent that on one meal, that was surely nowhere near their last $25,000. In fact, it likely is maybe a days pay or earnings for most involved. Nonetheless, I found this interesting. My pallet is not defined enough to distinguish between some of the wines, etc that would by themselves run into the thousands of dollars. I'm generally pretty pleased with a $20 bottle of wine - often less.

See the article below from MSNBC.com:

BANGKOK, Thailand - A luxury hotel in Bangkok charged $25,000 a head Saturday for this 10-course menu prepared by six world-class chefs and featuring some of the world’s rarest wines. Here are the courses and wines that were served:

First course:

Creme brulee of foie gras with Tonga beans
1990 Louis Roederer Cristal
chef: Alain Soliveres from Taillevent in Paris, France

Second course:

Tartare of Kobe beef with Imperial Beluga caviar and Belon oysters
1995 Krug Clos du Mesnil
chef: Antoine Westermann from Le Buerhiesel in Strasbourg, France

Third course:

Mousseline of “pattes rouges” crayfish with morel mushroom infusion
2000 Corton-Charlemagne, Domaine Jean Fran├žois Coche-Dury
chef: Alain Soliveres from Tailleven

Fourth course:

“Tarte fine” with scallops and black truffles
1996 Le Montrachet, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti
chef: Antoine Westermann from Le Buerhiesel

Fifth course:

Brittany Lobster “Osso Bucco”
1985 Romanee-Conti, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti
chef: Jean-Michel Lorain from La Cote Saint Jacques in Joigny, France

Sixth course:

Ravioli with guinea fowl and burrata cheese with a veal and truffle sauce
1961 Chateau Palmer
chef: Annie Feolde from Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, Italy

Seventh course:

Saddle of lamb “Leonel”
1959 Chateau Mouton Rothschild
chef: Marc Meneau from L’Esperance in Vezelay, France

Eighth course:

Sorbet “Dom Perignon”
Supreme of pigeon en croute with cepes mushroom sauce and cipollotti
1961 Chateau Haut-Brion
chef: Heinz Winkler from Residenz Heinz Winkler in Aschau, Germany

Ninth course:

Veal cheeks with Perigord truffles
1955 Chateau Latour
chef: Heinz Winkler from Residenz Heinz Winkler

Tenth course:

Imperial gingerbread pyramid with caramel and salted butter ice-cream
1967 Chateau d’Yquem
chef: Jean-Michel Lorain from La Cote Saint Jacques

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Exotic Car Slideshow

As a car lover, just thought I would
post this one for all to load and view.

Click on the screenshot to load or click here.