2009 Rose Family Events Archives...
      For current events, go to the Rose family website page.
01/01/09: New Years
New Year's itself has never been a really big deal for me. But I do try to have fun and relax. This year was no different, and if you're interested: here are my New Year's holiday musings.

I did stay up to see the ball drop in Times Square, watched the Rose Parade New Year's Day, and one of the bowl games later. I mixed in a dinner out Friday night, a get together for dinner out and movie back at my place Saturday night with friends, and a marvelous Peter's Sunday Party For One to start the New Year off right. I'd say I had a really good time!

01/03/09: Movie Night At The Garrison - Shoot 'em Up
Well, I have no excuse for this one other than a few of us decided that we needed a good, rowdy movie to watch. What better mindless one then than Shoot 'em Up? And that's all I have to say about that... except maybe: what a way to start the New Year off.

The problem is introducing this stuff to someone who has lived in a bubble and is unaware of this kind of total escapism. This results in promises to watch other such movies, like Kill Bill or Underworld or Aliens. I can see it now...

01/10/09: Movie Night At The Garrison - Kill Bill Festival
After spending a long day of manuscript editing, I popped a can of Coor's Lite at 5:00 for the start of Current Picture my latest Movie Night At The Garrison - a Kill Bill Festival, which of course had its initiation from last week's Shoot 'em Up.

We played some really exciting backgammon for a couple of hours until the pizza was delivered. That calmed everyone down for awhile. But once the movies started, it was all bets off for the next several hours. It was just a scream! No one can have more fun than we do. And, to top it all off, from the Kill Bill Vol. 2 we learned the famous Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. Yeah, baby...

01/16/09: Movie Night At The Garrison - Underworld Festival
The third in the series of Underworld movies comes out next weekend, and in anticipation of going to that at some point I thought it only right that we have an Underworld Festival of the first two, again finding its roots back in the initial Shoot 'em Up movie. Regardless, it was marvelous, Friday night, escapist time.

For my Peter's Sunday Party For One I fixed up a cauliflower, snow peas, and mushroom stir fry in a ginger root sauce all pleasantly washed down with a mild Sauvignon Blanc. I finished things off with The Movie of The Night - The Duchess, which was just what I needed to cap off this really enjoyable weekend.

01/24/09: Busy Editing Weekend
I was up fairly early Saturday morning, sipping coffee, and editing Too Late For Later. I kept at it until I couldn't take it anymore - about 6:00 p.m. - and then folded up the tent. I grabbed some left overs, and just watched some mindless tv for a few hours before turning in.

Up early again. Pretty tough snowstorm rolled in that was very pretty to watch from the library while I edited. But I had to break things up early to get out to the store for some food shopping. The weather was really getting fierce, and I didn't want to get stuck.

I had decided to fix an old recipe of my mother's, Spanish Meat Rice. The preparation process was much facillitated with a grand bottle of Marques Casa Concha 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, which had been given to me by my disciple Carl Parker when he was out here on retreat in late September.

Well see, it's like this... I got to drinking that wine and listening to a bunch of Vivaldi that I had one of the best Peter's Sunday Party For One that I can remember. I knew that the wine consumption had exceeded recommended limits when around 11:00 p.m. I kept looping through two of Vivaldi's works: Stabat Mater Dolorosa and the Opening Movement from "Gloria". I don't even want to think about how many times I listened to those... mabay six or eight each? Yeah, I know: I should have gone to bed. I did. Eventually... It was a long Monday at work, I'll tell you that...

01/31/09: The Great 2009 Super Bowl Backgammon Tournament And No Close Huddle Chili Punt
I know, I know: I had the The Great 2009 Super Bowl Backgammon Tournament And No Close Huddle Chili Punt party on Saturday, Current Picture but the Super Bowl was Sunday. I didn't want anyone, including myself, to get distracted from the game by the backgammon activity. We didn't. And a good thing because of all the trash talk, and yelling going on.

It was a great time, but a wild time. I started cooking at 3:00 p.m. because I wanted the chili to have plenty of time to simmer. I made a marvelous lightly spiced habanero, pimento, and chili pepper three bean ranch hand chili with trail biscuits. One of my best chili efforts yet.

Sunday was pretty tame as a result. I spent about 10 hours editing, had some left overs for dinner, and then closed things up with a really cute romantic comedy, Serendipity.

02/14/09: Marissa Engaged!
Very exciting that Gary asked Marissa to marry him this evening. She is so happy, as am I and Gray's folks. Gook luck Marissa!

02/22/09: Dinner Party and Travelogue
I invited my friends Bruce and Margaret over for dinner Sunday 02/22 Current Picture so I could see pictures of Bruce's last trip over to Italy.

I fixed an Italian Hunters Chicken, Brussels Sprouts (which Bruce had never had before so that was interesting), and rice. I'm not real sure he has yet figured out if he likes them or not...

Margaret took responsibility for assisting me in finishing a marvelous Italian Chianti that just really brought out the meal. I can't even remember the name of it, but it was really a nice bottle of wine. And that was from start... to finish!

When they headed out later that night, there was over 2" of snow on the ground. And we hadn't even noticed! That was some intense wine tasting...

Margaret was supposed to have provided the adult female supervision here, and I don't think that happened very well.

02/29/09: Karate Working Dinner
Tim House, one of my senior 3rd degree black belt students who has been with me something over 25 years now, had given me a bottle of wine awhile back. I had been teasing him that it was calling out to me to be consumed. We decided to combine that with dinner. I fixed up one of my constantly changing versions of Chicken Picata and we killed the bottle of wine, a marvelously smooth Pinot Grigio. Oh, and we spent about three hours on karate business and philosophical discussion over a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc I popped early that afternoon.

03/06/09: Brown Belt Exams
I held a two and a half hour 3rd degree brown belt exam Friday night for my 2 year karate student Brian Serven. It's a long and very challenging exam. But Brian rose to the challenge. Though a little bruised and battered from all of the outside portion testing on self defense and weapons self defense, he did very well. We are all very happy to welcome him into the advanced training ranks.

After the exam, we went up to Applebee's in Dover for a get together celebration. Unfortunately, my disciple 4th degree black belt Russ Jones and one of his brown belt students Scott had to cut the evening short and get back home. They had over an hour's drive to Laconia and the test didn't get out until almost 10pm. I think it was an interesting experience for Scott, and I'm glad he was able to come down.

It wasn't too long ago when he was on the other side of all of this taking his own brown belt exam. Most of us from the Rose School of Karate and surrounding clubs had gone up to Laconia for his exam. So it was nice that he came down to help us test Brian, though at about 6'6", he's just a little bigger than Brian's 5'8". But even though Scott sent him airborn into the snowbank several times, and they traded some heavy blows during outside sparing in several inches of wet snow, I'm sure it's an experience Brian will not soon forget.

I'm sure he won't forget Rick Downs, The Steamroller, coming at him either. At well over 50, Rick just has too much fun at these things. He was in there with Brian more than anyone of us. He just won't grow up. I got in there once, but Brian threw down on me too soon, and I just walked away without scuffling because I had not put enough reason on him to throw at me. Scott came in after that and flattened him, though. Thanks, Scott...

03/07/09: Martial Arts Study
My disciple Rick Downs, a 2nd degree black belt, and I have been studying various other martial arts systems comparing and contrasting techniques with what we do. Part of this has been dozens of episodes of the History Channel's Human Weapon series.

Rick had bought the series for me quite awhile ago, and we've been picking away at it as time permitted. We had just one final CD to go to finish up the set, so Rick came over and we spent over three hours watching. At well over 50 and a crummy knee, I wasn't sure how good he'd be feeling after dancing around in the deep, wet snow with a 28 year old the night before as Rick was one of the main participants in the exam. But he seemed more interested in the DVD than worrying about his knee. Probably because he had way too much fun...

03/08/09: Marvelous Dinner To Cap Off A Busy Writing Weekend
By late Sunday afternoon I was written out. I was popped. I had started writing very early Saturday morning and hadn't let up since - other than the break to watch the Human Weapon DVD with Rick Saturday night. And no one told me the clocks had been set ahead, so I was up at 6:30am and sipping coffee without realizing it. I wondered why it was so quiet outside in the complex. I never figured it out until Marissa came over to help with some house cleaning and mentioned that she was hungry. She looked really funny at me when I asked why she'd be hungry so early... Duh! Take a look at the clock, dad...

Anyway, between Saturday and Sunday I must have put in over 20 hours on a new project I started while my brother Alan finishes what I hope will be the final edit on my novel Too Late For Later. It was very satisfying work, but draining. Based on my experiences in writing fiction over the last several years, I have written 180 pages of Writing Fiction For The Rest of Us. It's just the sort of book I wish I had been able to read when I started writing fiction.

And the weather was so beautiful that I didn't even put a jacket on to go food shopping late that afternoon. I came back, and popped open what turned out to be an amazingly good Argentinean red wine from the Jela winery in the Zonda Valley. It was 2007 Malbec, a varietal I had never heard of before. So, a real treat to go with the thyme and shallot pork chops in a red wine, mushroom, garlic, oregano, and tomato paste sauce. That was a treat!

Monday morning I wake up and head off to work in a snow storm with already about an inch on the ground. By the end of the day, we had about four inches, but the temperature had been so mild that a lot of it hadn't stuck - though it was a messy and slippery drive home.

03/14/09: The Great 2009 St. Patricks Day Backgammon Tournament And Irish Dinner Scrum
What would St. Patricks Day be without a backgammon dinner party? Had to do it. Just had to. So, 11 of us got together and had a wonderful time playing backgammon, Current Picture eating my corned beef and cabbage dinner, drinking Killian's Irish Red, and then watching the movie of the night, The Dark Knight.

I began the party by popping a bottle of Killian's at 4:00pm sharp and beginning with The Great Chopping of the Vegetables Passion. And though there was no charge for this event, only Rick showed up early to make it an official party. But that was just fine with both of us.

Rather than just plain old cabbage, I had selected a huge head of red cabbage. It was a great hit, and I think I'd use that again anytime! Others started to wander in shortly after 4:30 and the games got going with much heated trash talking, though I held the fort down in the kitchen.

03/18/09: Marissa A Hurtin' Unit
Well, itís been a rough couple of days. I got a call at 6:30am Wed morning Marissa had been in the ER since just after midnight. Turned out to be burst appendix, so she was in a lot of pain, even after the surgery which she got out from around 10:30.

I stayed with her until 6:00pm. She slept the whole time, so I just sat and read a really interesting book on fiction writing process. Very intricate treatment of weaving Joseph Campbellís mystical and mythological theories from his great work The Hero With A Thousand Faces as it pertains to plot development structure with a dose of Jung thrown in. Pretty technical; glad Iíve read Campbellís book and long time ago some of Jung. Interesting to bring both things together. Well, for me anyway as a writer. But it was good just to be in the room with her.

Thursday she didnít look so good; still pain and wasnít sleeping well. She had some friends visit, but when I went in Friday morning to see her she was beat, so I just chatted very briefly with her and then left.

Stopped off on my way home from work to see her Friday, and she was feeling a lot better. Temp has come back to normal and the doctor will release her in the morning. So, hopefully she'll get a good nights sleep and come home strong.

03/18/09: Dinner Party
And in the midst of all this turmoil, I had a rare midweek dinner party on Wed 03/18. My friends Bruce and Margaret have a friend from Italy over that I wanted to meet and he goes back Sunday. While Margaret and I tried to commit suicide Current Picture with a way too big bottle of wine, Enzo drank Killianís, which he had never had and loved.

I had the Rolling Stones playing when they arrived, and then we rocked it with Evanessence. For dinner, I slowed it up with Steve Tyrellís tribute collection to Burt Bacharach.

After dinner, Enzo had a whole bunch of pictures of his area in Italy (Calabria) on the computer to show us. But by the end of the night, I was a hurtiní unit. Standing at the hospital for all that time and then standing three hours cooking, my hip was more sore than it has ever been. I popped 3 Advil and headed to b-e-d.

03/21/09: Dinner Party
Up early Saturday morning and worked like crazy on a book on writing that I am doing while my brother finishes up the editing on my novel Too Late For Later. Marvelous coffee and music in the background that I just flew through a lot of the planned work that I had.

I had pretty much eaten everything in stock in the house either from just normal stuff to running through a lot of stuff for my party on Wed. Knowing that, I knew I would be fixing something elaborate so I had a friend over for dinner. Nice chat and then finished off things with the movie Body of Lies, which was a pretty good action movie. Just what I needed, anyway.

Sunday was up early again and back writing. It even snowed a bit late in the day. Now, that's just not right for late March... But was able to finish the book at 188 pages. It's more for myself than anything so not sure how many, if any, edit runs I'm going to take on that. Heard from my brother and he'll have Too Late For Later back to me probably end of next week so I know what I'm doing next weekend...

03/27/09: Office Poker Tournament
One of team at the office hosted the semi-annual poker tournament at her home in Berwick, ME. It was nice to have so many of the folks from work that I don't normally get to really interact with together for some fun.

Man, it had been about twenty years since I had last played Texas Hold 'em so I hadn't expected to last very long. I was down quite a bit early on because the cards just weren't hitting and my bluffing wasn't sticking on anyone. But I hit a few big hands in a row when others had pieces of the flop and went way up, way over double my starting chip count.

It got down to 3 of us, but I had no hand and folded. Amanda took that pot and eliminated Steve, leaving her with 10 times the chips I had. So, we play a couple of hands, but the blinds are killing me. I know Iíll have to take a stand pretty soon or just die scratching the top off the table. I get a wired pair of 6ís and go all in. Amanda calls but sends me home in a bag with her wired pair of Jacks. So much for my career as a poker player.

03/28/09: Busy Editing Weekend
Well, on Wednesday I had received my brother's editing work on my novel Too Late For Later, so I was up and on the boards early Saturday morning. I worked all the way through until my dinner guest arrived, and then did a little more before I headed off to bed.

I didn't wake up until 9:30 Sunday, so I was a rocket of activity to get going on my re-writing work. It was a long, a very, very long, day. I got maxed out around 6:00 pm and just pushed back from the computer. Enough. I had some dinner, watched a movie, and hit the rack.

But I got a huge amount of work done. Fortunately, for this re-write sweep, there was nothing major other than a few paragraph re-structurings. Most were phrasing issues for clarity, some tense problems, pronoun referencing, and sharpening up some of the more descriptive passages that I had.

04/05/09: Tofu Stir-fry Experiment
I have been thinking for some time of trying to cook something with a tofu product just to see what that was all about. I went to the local organic foods store and after asking some questions, settled on tempeh because of its higher nutrient content than tofu and far less salt than some of the other tofu variants I found.

I really winged it here with no recipe. I figured that a stir-fry would be the best way to approach this, so as I wandered through the store, I grabbed the appropriate stuff and headed home.

After cracking open what turned out to be a really nice inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc, I fired up the wok and got down to business. I first cooked up some mushrooms I had marinating in a wine and spice mix with some chives, garlic, and water chestnuts. I pulled all that out of the wok and then dumped the tempeh (which I had cut up into what turned out to be not small enough chunks) into the sauce remaining from the mushrooms. Not having done this before, I wasnít real sure how long the tempeh would take to cook or even how it was supposed to taste when it was done.

Well, I cheated and threw in a couple of handfuls of cut up pork chops, and when those were done, I assumed the tempeh was done as well. I tossed in a handful of capers, let them cook up and blend in and then poured in a thyme and oregano based magic sauce I had made. After bringing that to a boil, in went a bunch of cut up broccoli, the mushroom mixture, and several handfuls of spinach. I let that all steam up really good, and that was it.

When I do it again, Iíll cut up the tempeh into smaller pieces. Though it cooked through, the pieces were just a little too big to really smooth out the dry soy bean taste or to allow the great sauce to soak all the way through.

04/06/09: Cooking Class With Colin
I had bought a couple of tickets for a 5 Course Gourmet Cooking Class at the Spring Hill Lodge over in South Berwick, ME thinking Iíd take Marissa with me. But then she had the appendix issue and even now was not feeling up to it. So I called Colin and gave him the good news that he was going with me. He dryly commented that it would be "... a great bonding experience, dad." Iím sure he was thrilled because his idea of a good meal is 9 ounces of red meat and a potato.

But it turned out to be a great night for him; he loved it and we had a good time. There were seven of us there, and Colin and I paired up to fix the Sicilian Chicken course. The sauce for it was pretty involved as it had so many ingredients and steps: garlic, Kalamata olives, onion, capers, sugar, lemon zest, artichoke hearts, pepper, oregano, basil, diced tomatoes. So Colin got a good dose of the whole process.

The other courses consisted of a walnut and spring berry mixed green salad in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, parsnip and leak cream soup, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto on a small baguette, the chicken, and a great strawberry cobbler. He even ate a little of everything and liked it, though he did get stuffed about half way through.

04/12/09: Easter and Colin's Birthday
I remember carrying just 2 week old Colin in the crook of my arm to Easter Sunday Mass 22 years ago. It's been a great journey; one that has brought me great joy. Happy Birtday Colin! Current Picture

Though he had come over Monday to head off to the cooking class, he missed seeing the 'Happy Birthday' greeting that I had hung on the mantel. I took this picture and sent it off to him.

I just had a quiet weekend around the house. I've set the book aside so that I can get a clean reading of it in a few weeks now that editing appears to be complete. Worked a little on my Forex price analysis Java programming project, caught up on some other work, did some cleaning, and spent a great Sunday reading yet another book on creative writing.

I would usually set up the deck furniture at Easter, but it's still been cool and rainy. Only Sunday did the sun really come out. But the wind was up and left a real chill to the air. Easter is early this year anyway, so maybe in a few weeks I'll start moving stuff out there. And maybe this year I'll actually do some decorating out there as I did spend almost every Sunday out there reading or doing some sort of work. I'm thinking of getting one of those inexpensive WiFi Netbooks so I can park outside and write.

Anyway, Sunday morning I was working on the computer in the library when in came both Colin and Marissa! It was a joy to see them both, even if only for a short time before they headed off to their grandparents in York for the day. Made my day!

For Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One I decided to do an Easter ham. I picked up a fresh smoked ham at Janeto's, one of the local small markets, and cooked that up in a great subtle maple syrup and sherry sauce. Just some simple steamed red kidney beans on the side. I also tried to duplicate the parsnip and leak cream soup from Monday's cooking class, and it came out pretty good, though I overdid the leaks just a little. I also had a nice smooth bottle of Merlot that I started in on perhaps just a little early in the day...

Preparations started with the best hits of The Beach Boys followed by Arrowsmith. What a mix. Then I listened to Donna Summer - Oh yeah, baby! Slowed it down for dinner, though, with John Tesh's CD Worship At Red Rocks. This whole thing was more of a major effort than I had thought, and took me from 5:30 to almost 9:00 from the time I started until the last of the dishes were washed and put away. Oh, and I had bought a great Royal Cherry pie, intending that to be the finale to my Easter meal but it looked so good - and sooooo lonely - sitting there on the counter that I broke into it Saturday night. No control.

04/19/09: A Bust of a Dinner
Well, I have to admit that this week's Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One was a total bust. Yup. Threw the whole thing out. It was supposed to be West Indian Rice and Peas With Tempeh. But it was instead just horrible. I have no clue... Not enough coconut? Too much onion? Badly steamed black peas in bay leaf and cinnamon? Crummy brown rice cooked in a coconut, fennel, and pinch of cinnamon broth? Who knows... But it was awful. This week I even made sure the tempeh was well cooked - and it tasted fine with it's garlic, red bell pepper, and chili pepper mix. But when it all went together... no-way...

So I drank cheap Chardonnay and listed to Cher's Living Proof CD - don't you just love Cher? That's it. In after-thought, might just be the brown rice. I don't think I've ever fixed brown rice that tasted good. White rice takes in the spices and herbs that you brew it up with. But for some reason, I can't seem to get that really dry, bland, flat flavor out of the rice. Anybody out there know how to make decent brown rice?

Regardless of the brown rice, I don't think anything would have saved that recipe; it - along with the meal - went into the trash.

04/23/09: Meditation Seminar
I held a private class in basic meditation process for my advanced karate students Thursday evening rather than holding regular class. These classes are draining but at the same time exciting. It's total focus and concentration for about 3 hours, but being able to share this aspect of training with students is an honor. Rarely does a student get to participate in this class until after two or three years of training, so it's a pretty big deal.

In a few weeks, I'll be holding an instructor's class. This will only be for student's at the 2nd degree black belt level - a minimum of 5 years training but taking most 6 to 8 years to achieve this disciple level. Several who will be taking this class were at the introductory class, and their time training with me ranged from 12 years to over 20 years.

04/24/09: Finally! Some Really Nice Weather!
Though it was chilly Friday morning, by the time I got out of work the temperature had risen nicely into the 60's. It was great to be able to throw off my jacket for the evening and be warm in just my dress shirt. I had dinner at Acorns at The New England Center in Durham, and even coming out later that evening, it was still very mild.

04/25/09: A Little Saturday Backgammon and Movie of the Night
Saturday the temperature was well into the 80's! It was so nice that I was almost tempted to haul out the deck furniture... But even though boating season started the 15th, I'm not sure I'm ready for the deck yet. Besides, I sold my boat so I'm in no real rush to get out there. The pond frogs out in the field behind the condo complex are going crazy, though. They're so loud sometimes, that, even with the windows shut, I have to turn the t.v. way up in order to drown them out.

That almost proved to be the case with the movie of the night, Something's Gotta Give. My disciple Rick Downs and I got together for a little backgammon at Cataways earlier in the evening. When we got back to the condo, the pond frogs were in full voice. But we were roaring even louder at the movie, so we drowned them out instead.

04/26/09: Party For One Turns Into a Real Party
Sunday I spent a relaxing day reading the book Hopi, a marvelous historical and pictorial review of one of the oldest, if not the oldest, American Indian tribes. Though not as hot today as it was yesterday, it was till well into the 70's. I resisted tempting the spirits, though, by putting any deck furniture out, remaining comfortably ensconced in the living room with my coffee and book propped on my lap.

This week's Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One turned into a real party. One of my neighboors and her friend joined me just as I was starting my cooking adventure. We got right into what turned out to be a nice bottle of B.V. Cabernet Sauvignon, had some interesting conversation, and a good time.

05/02/09: The Great 2009 Cinco de Mayo Backgammon Tournament And Arroz Con Pollo Victory Meal
To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I held a dinner party and backgammon tournament. I fixed a Mexican chicken casserole dish, Current Picture Arroz con Pollo, had a case of Corona cerveza, and got a few boards going.

The weather held up so good that we were all able to sit out on the deck for awhile before starting play, though it was a little chilly.

Unfortunately, Marissa and Gary and Courtney had to pass at the last minute as did Colin, so they missed a good time.

Movie of the night was provided by Steve, Quantum of Solace which is the latest Bond movie. We had watched Casino Royale a few weeks ago, so this was a nice continuation.

05/09/09: Saturday Yoga Seminar and Impromptu Party
One of my advanced karate students, Brian Serven, is a certified instructor in the Classical Yoga system and held a seminar for us Saturday afternoon. Current Picture It was a great two hour mix of history, philosophy, physical posturing, and meditation.

After the seminar, several of the group came back to my condo for an impromptu get together. I stopped off at the store and got an armful of stuff for a stir fry, bearing in mind that Brian is a Vegan.

Backgammon started right away as I got a long grain brown rice in a sage, oregano, and bay leaf broth going.

I ended up with three separate components. The first was an A1 steak sauce, cumin, sage, and water based broth with sweet peas, mushrooms, leaks, garlic, and a red chili seasoned with garlic powder, oregano. Current Picture That ended up going over the rice after I steamed several hand fulls of red lettuce mixed in with it. Nice...

Next was a mix of red and yellow sweet peppers, water chestnuts, and snow pea pods with a dash of A1 and a little sage.

And finally, I stir fried little chunks of cauliflower with curry powder, garlic, and paprika.

I had started cooking about 6:00pm or so, and the day had been fairly bright and sunny. It was supposed to have rained, but so far so good. The intensity of the backgammon games had increased and between that and my yelling about how great the cooking was going, we were all pretty content with the evening.

I was cooking away and sipping on my beer and not really paying attention, so I was really surprised when I glanced outside. There was a really thick fog rolling across the area. Current Picture I turned to tell everyone, and the next thing we knew, we could hear the rain just pounding down. It was a wind driven torrent; spectacular. I made the mistake of opening the front storm door and got a face full. Back to cooking...

Movie of the night was 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is to prepare us all for the new release of Star Trek 2009 which we're considering a Road Trip for at some point after the crowds go down. We may have to do a couple of other movies as well just to be sure we're ready...

05/10/09: Old Picture of my Dad
My brother Alan sent this old picture of our dad as a young newspaper reporter for the Chicago Sun Current Picture (he later became a City Editor for the paper which ultimately became The Chicago Sun Times).

Amazingly in this picture, he is interviewing none other than Al Capone, shown on the right.

One of the other events in his reporting career was that he was the first reporter on the scene of the famous Chicago Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. He went on to become the Director of Welfare for the city of Chicago, and then Executive Director of the Chicago Housing Authority before retiring in 1967 to Oceanside, CA.


05/11/09: Sunday Catching Up On Some Reading
I've been so busy writing for the past six months that I have fallen behind somewhat in my reading. It was a bright and sunny day out, but windy and chilly, so I spent it sitting in the living room having an enjoyable time catching up.

Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One was a real experiment. A few weeks ago I had heard on NH Public Broadcasting Chef Jose Andres talk about a dish his mother used to make. He had been chosen by NHPR as a celebrity chef in their Family Budget Recipes series. He presented Moorish Garbanzo and Spinach Stew that grabbed my attention.

Of course I didn't have all of his specific ingredients so had to improvise a little, but I was amazed at how good it came out. Just garlic, paprika, and some cumin as major spices with some dry sherry (my take on it as I didn't have any Spanish Sherry Vinegar). The extent of my Spanish influence was a Spanish Cabernet that I bought that, unfortunately for my taste was a little sharp and thin.

Regardless of that, I bore up under the pressure with a little Sinatra during prep work, and then Steve Tyrell playing some Burt Bacharach hits for dinner. Smooth...

05/13/09: Trip To Newport, RI
I took Marissa and her fiance Gary down to Newport, RI Wed 05/13/09 through Sat to relax and tour the mansions. Great time with nice cool weather, Current Picture though it was really foggy with some early morning drizzle Friday.

Unfortunately, Colin had to work and so couldn't come along this time. I had taken them both down back in Sept of 2004, and he was bummed out that he couldn't come with us. At least Marissa took a zillion pictures.

We stayed at the Howard Johnson's in Middletown again. They have a great indoor pool and hot tub - both of which I took advantage of after trooping around town all day. We visited 8 mansions and spent half a day walking along the waterfront in Newport so it was a busy time during the day. We had two left we were going to see on Saturday before heading back, but after finishing the first one, Marissa said she was "mansioned out" so we just headed home.

05/22/09: Memorial Day Weekend
Memorial Day weekend was a great time for me to decompress with all the activity of the past couple of weeks. Although Friday traffic home from work was really congested, I enjoyed a quite night just catching up on some paper work and then watching a movie - which unfortunately was a bust. But a no brainer...

I really slept in Saturday morning. But up and refreshed, I was on the computer working on my Forex currency price analysis programming project, sipping coffee, and loving life. I've been doing a lot of simulation analysis and rules based coding on this project lately. I'm currently running my trading rules against both historical and current data sets for comparative analysis, and am seeing some interesting results.

Several of us got together Saturday evening for a great Chinese meal at the Dover Asia and then off to The Strand theater for the new movie Terminator Salvation. I thought it was good, but it seemed to be more for the sake of the special effects than keeping with a good storyline. Not that there's anything wrong with special effects because that's what I enjoy about these types of action movies. But just special effects alone doesn't make it...

After the movie, we came back here to the condo and watched the old Star Trek movie Wrath of Khan in preparation for a Road Trip (soon) to see the new Star Trek movie, which is an Event of High Order in itself! It's so nice to live in these times where the entertainment is so dynamic and fun. How dull life would be if all you did was come home, cut the grass, and eat your steak or chicken and then hit it the next week for a repeat...

Sunday I was up early and on the computer working. Coffee was great, but the day was looking overcast and much cooler than the previous two days had been - it had even thundered and lightening during the night. It just barely sprinkled during the day, and then the sun poked its head out. Current Picture That was enough for my neighbor's grand children who trooped over to the pool and jumped right in!

Anyway, because it was just a little cool out, I decided for Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One to fix oven roasted chicken legs, Yukon potatoes, and kale. For a side, I steamed up some Brussels sprouts in a rosemary and sage broth. Nice...

As I cooked, I listed to a bunch of Vonda Shepherd songs that she did for the Ally McBeal TV series (I sat two rows back from the stage at one of her concerts and love her interpretations of the old R&B classics she does) and then put the sound track from the movie Hope Floats on - hadn't listened to that in a long time and was nice dinner music with the fabulous bottle of 2004 Wente Bros Cabernet I had. I finished the evening with the lovely independent film, Sabah.

Monday, Memorial Day, I swept off the deck and cleaned things up out there and then worked through the morning programming.

05/30/09: Star Trek Movie Road Trip
How infantile - but how can you pass up a space adventure with guys shootin' aliens with lasers and all that? Well, you just can't! And if you don't like this movie, then you are just not having fun in your life. Special effects were awesome and well worth the price to see it on the big screen.

We decided to go down to Salisbury, MA to the Cinemagic because due to circumstances we just we weren't able to get it together over the last few weeks to catch it up here. No problem. We had dinner at Sylvan Stree Grille. Played some backgammon and primed up with a few beers - and yes, I'm 4 point loser. I had one more game to play to complete the second set but the movie was starting in 5 minutes so we had to scoot - we had prebought tickets so no problem. I shoulda never flipped the cube that last game...

Before starting on this grand Road Trip, I had spent the day on the final edit sweep of my novel Too Late For Later with great progress. Just minor stuff; this is more of a final reading than any significant editing.

05/31/09: Novel Too Late For Later Finished
Well, I finished the final edit sweep of my novel Too Late For Later early Sunday afternoon so was able to sit out on the deck and catch up on some reading. I've got 3 books going so need to hit it on this and clear the decks!

Decided to fix up tarragon and thyme sea scallops with summer squash, which turned out just mah-vo-louse. Or was that the excellent Sutter Home Cabernet? No matter. Some good music, wine, a great meal, and a smile is all it takes! Oh, and the lovely indy film, Enchanted April.

06/06/09: Road Trip To Movie Angels and Demons
So this week we decided to do a Road Trip to see the movie Angels and Demons. Well, nothing far off - just to Newington, NH. I got my tickets ahead and then met the others at the nearby T.G.I. Fridays where we had a great dinner. But no time to play backgammon.

By the time we got to the movie, Steve was just barely able to get his tickets but they were sold out by the time Rick hit the window. As it was, we all had to sit in the front row. I haven't sat in the front row at a movie since I think I went to the opening of Star Wars in 1977.

Just Linda and I were brave enough to hang out after the movie - I threw the dvd Wing Commander in and enjoyed another run at that.

06/07/09: Working Karate Dinner
I had to pay close attention to my cooking this week as my long time student Tim House came by for discussion work and analysis on some of the advanced reading material that he has been working on over the past few years. I had tarragon pork chops with a green bean, sweet red pepper, and onion stir fry all mixed in with mushrooms in a thyme base with other stuff, some rosemary and sage steamed Brussels sprouts, and some long grain brown rice fixed in a broth of parsley, thyme, red wine, and a pinch of cumin.

Tim had brought a bottle of merlot, so we started the evening out on the deck sipping that before I started cooking while I had some Phil Collins playing. Once the cooking started, I switched to the 3 CD's of Rod Stewart's American Songbook.

After dinner, I couldn't pass up the chance to share a short shot of Dr. Jack Daniels with Tim. Nice. Not often I do that.

06/09/09: Happy 20th Birthday Marissa!
Though I had sent Marissa a card, Current Picture I put this spread out for her for her 20th birthday. Happy Birthday, Marissa! It's been a great 20 years.

I'm looking forward to the next 20, where maybe you'll pick up the tab?

So, Tuesday night after she went out to dinner with her mom and grandparents, Marissa, Gary, and Colin swung by to say hello and chat for awhile.

And... we now have plans a-foot for A Great Shopping Adventure on Saturday, and then Current Picture I'm taking them all out to dinner next Wednesday. Dinner is looking like Chinese, and then there are rumors of coming back here to watch an as yet to be determined movie. Nice... Stay tuned for all that...


06/13/09: Saturday Shopping Bust Saved By Good Dinner
I had told Marissa that as part of her birthday I'd take her shopping for a couple of things that she wanted. Before that, I called my brother Alan to wish him a happy birtday, and we had a nice chat. But nowhere could we find the sports jacket that she wanted or the protective skin for her cell phone. What a bust! I was able to order the cell phone skin online for her, but we're going to have to hunt around more for the jacket.

After shopping, we stopped off and picked up Gary and then I took them to Castaway's for a great dinner. Then since they were off doing their thing, I watched Part 2 of Pride and Prejudice - the 1995 two disk, Colin Firth version; just spectacular stuff.

06/14/09: Rainy Sunday and a Washer Overflow
It was just pouring when I got up, and it poured all day. As I was working on a programming project, sipping coffee, and running the laundry, I heard a strange noise and went flying down to the washer. The water exit pipe had somehow gotten plugged up and there was water all over the floor. Great. Shop-vac time...

For dinner, I threw on some Mozart while I fixed a marvelous rosemary lamp chop meal with a side of thyme and a pinch of cumin long grain brown rice with mushrooms, scallions, and other good stuff. I decided that this would be my birthday dinner so why not open one of the bottles of wine I had set aside from 30 years ago and see...

Unfortunately, both the 1978 Charles Martini Cabernet and the 1977 Ridge Zinfindel had gone bad. I don't have a real wine celler, nor the bottles to put in there if I had one. These were left-overs from my dad, but just too much time had gone by. They had both turned to a bitter almost port state. Too bad because if the Martini had been good, that's a $200 bottle of wine at wholesale; probably around $400 to $500 in a restaurant, if you could find one! The drain liked it...

06/17/09: Novel Too Late For Later Shipped
Okay, like Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) said in the movie Wall Street just as he was about to meet Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) for the first time, "Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of them." Well, this is one of those moments: my 400 page novel, a financial thriller, Too Late For Later was mailed off to an agent. It's one thing to talk about writing a book, another thing to actually write one, quite another to have written three (fiction plus all the other stuff I've done), and yet another to actually send it out. Done. Done. Done. And Done. But, like everything else in life: nothing counts until someone writes you a check. Everything else is just conversation and for your own self fulfillment. But like the guy who was crossing the street in the opening and closing scenes of the movie Pretty Woman said, "Everybody's gotta have a dream!"

06/20/09: The Great 2009 Five Years At The Garrison Backgammon Tournament And Spaghetti Bolognese Celebration
Not only did this event mark 5 years of living Current Picture here at The Garrison, but this was my 50th backgammon dinner party since being here! Now, that's an accomplishment!

Having Spaghetti Bolognese has become a tradition for this party, as is the showing of the movie Top Gun, which for this event I bought the Blu-ray version of and it was spectacular.

I had decided to start cooking around 3:30 so that I could finish in time to get into some games, something that I have not been able to do the last few parties. Hey, the chef has to do his thing! But for my 5 year anniversary, my 50th party, and turning 60 on the 16th I'm gonna get into the mix on this one!

06/21/09: Father's Day
Though it was a hazy and drizzly day, Marissa and Colin lit up my Father's Day by coming over in the morning and sharing most of the day with me. Current Picture Marissa bought me a terrific deck set that we got to sit in for a few minutes between crummy weather.

They then took me on a drive down through Portsmouth and out around Newcastle. Very relaxing and just what I needed for what for me is the most important day of the year.

06/23/09: My excellent trip to the emergency room
A tale of woe from someone who should know better.

After dinner Tuesday I went in and stretched out on the sofa to watch tv. At about 9pm, I had such pain hit me in my stomach that I thought I was going down; worst I'd ever experienced. So, when you get older and stuff like this happens you wonder if you shouldn't act. I called Nurse Cindy House and she says, "Go-to-the-ER. Now." So I did. After 4 hours of tests of all kinds, nothing came back suspicious, though I had at that point recovered.

And now the story unfolds. Saturday I had the backgammon party and fixed Spaghetti Bolonase. I made so much of it that I ate it Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Also ate half box of cherry tomatoes, and there was a lot of tomato paste and cans and cans of tomatoes in the sauce as well as drank a lot of wine. Friend of mine said he had pains like that and he was diagnosed with GED - gastroesophageal disease so I looked it up and sure as shit all that stuff I ate and drank seems to have really just backed up on me - and to top it off, I laid down on the couch after dinner to watch tv which they say really pisses your body off. Yup, sure did. Bad Peter...

An excellent adventure that could have been prevented by just.... thinking about what I was doing.

06/26/09: Dinner with Yondan Russ Jones
My long time (20+ year) disciple Yondan Russ Jones came down from Laconia tonight for another in a continuing series of meetings I am having with him to prepare him to take his 5th Degree Black Belt Master ranking exams. We have been working toward this for about a year now, and the discussions have been stimulating for both of us.

We went out for a nice dinner to Christopher's Third Street Grille here in Dover expecting to come out to predicted thunderstorms. But the weather held with the sun still out when we got back to my condo around 8:00pm. I guess we had a lot to talk about because he didn't make it out the door until around 11:30...

06/27/09: Road Trip to see new Transformers movie
Several of us decided that we just weren't going to wait for the lines to calm down from the opening of the new Transformers movie. Off we went on a Road Trip to Salisbury, MA for dinner at the Sylvan Street Grille and then to the Cinama 95 for the 7:30 show. I have to agree with some of the reviews that at way over two hours is a little much, but it had terrific action and the special effects were more than spectacular. Who cares if there's no plot? Gad, some folks just need to get a grip on what 'entertainment' means...

06/28/09: Dinner Party
Brian Serven has been a hard working karate student of mine for over two years now. He received his promotion to 3rd degree brown belt a few months ago and has been working very hard. Many times after going through that exam - probably one of the most grueling experiences a person will go through in their life with the real possibility of injury - a student will just fade away, having achieved something few could ever hope to accomplish.

Those who remain and continue to work - and the work is intense and I am unwavering in my demands for perfection of the art - are the best of the best. For this reason, I try to bring that person closer into my life in the art. They need to experience first hand that this thing we call 'our art' is, in fact, our life: it is our way; it is the way we live our lives.

So I had Brian and his friend Steph over for a Moroccan Chicken with Apricot and Olive Relish Sunday dinner - no Peter's Sunday Party For One this week! Because Brian is a vegan, I nixed the chicken and replaced that with a mix of cauliflower and tofu. Who would have thought...

07/01/09: Office Group Dinner
We had been talking at work about going out to dinner as a group to the Indian restaurant, Tulsi, in downtown Kittery, ME for weeks. Rajan got it all organized and so after work Wed. July 1st six of us drove over and had one of the best Indian feasts I can imagine. Rajan knows the chef, Raj, and so Raj came out to greet us and to see what we would all like to have and what everyone enjoyed. He fixed up a series of appetizer bowls of different things, and then sent out a huge array of different featured dishes so we could all sample a large variety of Indian cuisine. Everything was terrific and well worth the visit. I'll be going back for certain!

07/04/09: Relaxing 4th Of July Weekend
It's nice not to have anything planned for the long 4th of July weekend. I had Friday off (Saturday is the 4th) and just had a marvelous day, despite the rain showers most of the day - some of which got pretty intense.

The other night I had another one of those dreams that cause me to start writing a book. Can't help myself. But it's so exciting to sit down, write that scene out, and then just let the story unfold. Sometimes I can't type fast enough! Anyway, I sipped coffee and listened to one of the cable contemporary music channels while I let the story flow out onto the page.

I got about 10 pages in and sent it off to my brother Alan ("The Chainsaw") for his take. I was secretly trying to see if he would trash the writing itself vs. what the story was, but he had no comments on the writing at all; he just didn't get the point of the story. Duh! There is no point! It's a dream fragment and I have no idea what the story will be about either! That comes later...

What's striking to me is that, being the picky (very picky) grammarian that he is, he seemed to find minimal fault from an editing standpoint. What? My brain dumps now make sense out of the box? Nice...

I had an early dinner as I wanted to have a movie marathon night. I started with what turned out to be one of the better comedies I have seen, Confessions of a Shopaholic. What a light, fun movie that was, and just what I needed after a long day of writing! But it was still early, so I watched the very well done Frost/Nixon. Regardless of what you think about Nixon, Frank Langella is just amazing - and I mean that as amazing. Ron Howard hits another one out of the park.

Saturday, the sun kept popping out from behind the clouds for most of the morning. It was so nice that I grabbed the annotated version of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice that I am studying and headed out to the deck. Finally, I was able to use the new deck set that Marissa had given me for Father's Day. I sat in one of those chairs for awhile but then shifted with the sun into one of the other chairs.

Marissa came over in the early afternoon, and we sat on the deck and chatted for awhile before she headed off. I stayed out on the deck until about 4:30 when the rains drove me inside. It came down pretty hard, too, though the storms were much more severe south of me.

Since I enjoy reading on the deck and couldn't do that now, I thought it a great opportunity to have a Pride and Prejudice movie day! I had treated myself for my birthday to the two disk Blu-ray set produced in 1994 by the BBC staring Colin Firth, and had been saving it for the appropriate time. So what better excuse than the 4th of July! Though I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't get to bed until after midnight after watching the whole six hours of it as well as a portion of some of the special features. Hummmmm...

Sunday, the sun was out again, but I didn't get out onto the deck until early afternoon to continue my reading. I decided to undertake a first pass re-write of my second novel, Currency of Money. I've learned so much since completing that work over two years ago that I just can't stand to let it sit in its current state.

Most of the issues with it are relatively benign - things like: inverted clause structures, over narration, some remaining rambling attempts at literary fiction, and too much primary character inner turmoil. And almost all of that is just in the first one hundred pages or so; after that, I had found my stride and the book just flies as good as anything in current published popular fiction.

I got through about 20 pages, and then headed out to the deck with a cup of coffee and Austin to enjoy the sun and nice breeze.

07/05/09: Kids and Summer Fun
Despite a wet start to the summer, there have been a few days of sun. Here are a few pictures of the kids at it on the water having fun.

Here's one of Colin and Marissa somewhere up river on the Piscataqua.

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Gary, Marissa, and Colin onshore...

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And here's a great shot of Marissa wakeboarding on the river. Nice air, Sweetie!

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07/10/09: Backing away from new book
I realized after starting to write out that other dream fragment that I could end up in an endless cycle of this type of thing. I got about 30 pages in and stopped. I have gone back for a first pass rewrite of the first 120 pages of my second novel, Currency of Money. I've found it actually pretty good; better than I remembered it, but still a lot of language structural changes, phrasing issues, and some over-writing. I'll work this through and see what happens. I went out on the deck to enjoy the sun and read more of the annotated version of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice - great stuff, actually...

07/13/09: Monday Dinner Meeting
Several weeks ago I heard from a long time ago black belt student of mine, John Crowley. We chatted back and forth and tonight met for dinner at Tast of India here in Dover. We spent a couple of hours catching up on the more than 20 years since we had last worked together before John had to move to Virgina for his job. We'll be getting together again, for sure.

07/15/09: Wednesday Dinner and Movie Road Trip
Several of us met at the Newington, NH T.G.I. Friday's for dinner and then headed into Portsmouth to the Music Hall to see Stanley Kubrick's 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. On The Big Screen! I mean, how much better can it get?

07/16/09: Too Late For Later reply from agent
I heard back from my agent submission of Too Late For Later, and it was just not their genera of representation. But I knew this as the submission was on a referral from another author as a favor. But I got a personal note from the agent as well as a follow up reply to a question that I had. That's better than the standard "Thanks but no thanks. Have a nice life, loser" type of cardboard form response that is more the norm. But, the book is good - for someone. I've got no tears, no regrets, and I'll just keep writing.

07/16/09: Advanced Brown Belt Exams Given
Congratulations to Brian Serven for his excellent performance Thursday July 16th during his 2nd Degree Brown Belt exams. Though this level of exam is usually long, this was a very long exam. But Brian was able to remain sharp and focused. He is now a 2nd Degree Brown Belt in C&S Self Defense Association and I wish him well as he continues his study with us.

07/18/09: The Great 2009 Midsummer Nights Dream Backgammon Tournament And Risotto Stomp
Perfect planning! Errrr... that would be luck with the weather. We've had a full week of real summer, and now in perfect harmony with that to end the week I held: Current Picture The Great 2009 Midsummer Nights Dream Backgammon Tournament And Risotto Stomp.

I fixed a chicken risotto according to an old traditional recipe, and it was superb. As sides I did sauteed carrots in white wine, garlic, and oregano as well as green beans steamed in a parsley and rosemary broth.

Movie of the night was the original Alien, and that was just a great, great time seeing that again.

07/24/09: Movie Night At The Garrison: Aliens
Time for some Friday night infantile fun! We enjoyed Alien so much at last week's backgammon dinner party (The Great 2009 Midsummer Nights Dream Backgammon Tournament And Risotto Stomp) that I just had to hold a Movie Night At The Garrison Current Picture this Friday to see the second in the series, Aliens.

I had pizza delivered at 7:30, and we were deep into the director, James Cameron's, special edition of it by 8:00. It was great to be able to watch that version as there were a lot of additional scenes that gave us over two and a half hours of nail bitting fun.


07/25/09: Pictures of 05/13/09: Trip To Newport, RI Posted!!!
Finally! I finally have some pictures of our 05/13/09: Trip To Newport, RI and have posted them up here to the site. Current Picture I had to grab them off of Marissa's FaceBook page as she's still having computer issues.

Anyway, she took all of the pictures for the trip. As you'll see, many of them, like the one here, have some lingering haze and fog. But didn't bother us at all. Just too much fun!

They bring back such great memories. Check 'em out!


07/25/09: Cane Self Defense vs. Charging Pitbull
Interesting story of how one of my students used his cane today. Nidan Rick Downs has been with me for around 13 years and has been studying the cane with me for a couple of years. He was out walking his greyhound along the river. He always has his cane, Dragon, with him - we name our canes; I call mine Janis. All of a sudden, he heard something to his side. A large Pit Bull had snapped its chain and was charging full bore at him. Rick pivoted to the side, hooked the Pit Bull in mid air by the neck with the crook of Dragon, and flipped it onto its side. Rick swung to ready-guard, but the dog had enough and was running back to its stunned owners. Without Dragon with him, Rick would have been in a punching battle with a Pit Bull; not a good thing. Downs: 1, Pit Bull: 0. Next.

07/25/09: Summer Get Together and another Movie Night At The Garrison
It's Saturday and summer! Spur of the moment get together. I made some calls, and several of us got together for a wonderful dinner outside at Castaway's on the river here in Dover. Current Picture

After that, we migrated back to my condo and had another Movie Night At The Garrison. We did the old Bridget Jones Diary. Quite, quite different than last night's Alein's...

However, after everyone left, I did put Aliens back in to listen to James Cameron and some of the staff discuss the making of the movie on the director's cut. I couldn't have gone to bed then anyway. All of the food I had eaten at Castaways would have kept me up anyway. Might as well just sit up and enjoy the late, late night air.

Up around 8:30 Sunday morning to heavy overcast and some drizzle sprinkled in with some teaser sun poking through. Deck was wet, and the air was clammy. So, I just caught up on some writing I am working on during the morning and did the laundry. And for Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One, I made caramelized shallot and rosemary crusted pork chops with a side of Italian lentils with sauteed sausage and vegetables accompanied with the remaining Cabernet-Merlot mix that Robert had brought to Friday night's get together.

Now, there was one problem of major implication that did disrupt the start of the night. The damn Blu-ray player was defiling Cher! Yup! It kept skipping and cutting her out! Sacrilege! Do you know how to clean a PlayStation 3? Hummmmm.... I thought not. Reach around back and turn the power switch off and count to 20. Then, as you are holding the eject button down, click it back on. The poor thing will start to whirr and make all kinds of noises like it's going to blow up. Let it be until it stops and the on/off button is blinking. Click it off in back again, count to 20, and click it back on. Magic, brother. Pure magic....

08/01/09: Dinner Road Trip
Last weekend sitting on the deck at Castaways, we decided another get together was in order. So, tonight (Saturday) a couple of us from down here jumped into Rick's truck and drove up to Northwood, NH to Jim and Chris Nancarrow's Checkerberries Quilt Shop: www.checkerberriesquiltshop.com. It had been awhile since I had been there, and it was nice to see some of the expansion work that had been done as well as the relocation of Jim's karate club (he's a 3rd degree black belt and has been my student and friend for a long time).

From Checkerberries, we all headed over to Concord, NH for a terrific dinner at The Common Man Restaurant. They were packed by the time we got there just before 6:00pm, so we knew we were in for some good food. We weren't disappointed either. After dinner, we trooped back to the Nancarrow's and watched the 2009 movie, Mirrors; a pretty well done horror flick staring Keifer Sutherland.

08/02/09: Impromptu Sunday Movie Night At The Garrison
Sunday was sunny and warm so I sat out on the deck and did some reading. Just a great relaxing morning and afternoon. I had mentioned at last night's dinner get together in Northwood that my Sunday movie was going to be Knowing with Nicholas Cage and anyone who wanted to see it was welcome.

So, a couple did, coming over at 4:30 for some backgammon and pizza to prep for an early start to the movie. My daughter Marissa and her fiancee Gary showed up just before 5:00 and so things were humming along really well. Thing is, instead of pacing ourselves out to the projected movie start time of 8:00pm, we couldn't wait and decided to watch the really funny 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore first. What a diverse movie night that made it!

Monday when I got home from work, my brain was fried from all the concentration on my new project assignment. I was in no mood for any heavy brain lifting for sure. I had rented the movie The Visitor (2008), so, decided that would be entertaining. It was a recommendation from my brother Alan. I enjoyed it so much that I watched all of the special features and then even ran through the whole thing again with the director's commentary. Of course, I didn't get to bed until after midnight and was physically fried Tuesday morning. But it was worth the three cups of coffee to get the motor going!

08/07/09: Marissa and Courtney's Excellent Adventure to Newport, RI
So I get this call from Marissa Thursday to email her the list of mansions that we saw in our last trip in May down to Newport, RI. She tells me she has decided she just has to go down and see them again and that her friend Courtney is going with her. I thought that would be wonderful trip for them, though would have liked to go down myself! What's up with that, leaving the FOP here in New Hampster....

Friday on my way home from work I gave her a call to see how it was going. They had done a few mansions and were just wandering around the harbor area. She said they were going to grab a bite to eat and then drive home. No way! To go all that way only to get to see a few of the mansions and then make that drive back just wasn't going to make it.

I told her I'd get back to her. I called my friend Amy at the great Howard Johnsons in Middletown we stayed at to see if they had any rooms left. Fortunately, despite it being Newport Jazz Festival weekend, Amy found me a room! I called Marissa back and they were excited. I got a call from her about 9:00 after checking in. She said she couldn'talk long as they were heading off to the pool for a swim before it closed at 10:00. Hummmm... and I'm still in Dover. Great...

After I got the room situation squared away for Marissa, I headed off to a wonderful dinner at Christopher's in downtown Dover. Had a great time and unwound from a really busy week at work.

08/08/09: Another Relaxing Summer Weekend
Saturday, after spending a few hours reading out on the deck, I got together with one of my karate disciples, 2nd degree black belt Rick Downs, for some killer backgammon and dinner over at Castaways on the river here in Dover. It was a beautiful summer evening, and the place was really crowded. But we were able to get a table out on the open deck overlooking the docks. I long-necked a Corona with a lime as Rick set the board up, and we were into it.

Damn if he wasn't throwing some wicked dice! I was down 6 at one point but managed to recover to only 1 down after going completely crazy, pulling moves out I didn't know I had. Brutal. But as Rick pointed out very clearly to me: I'm still an overall 'loooo-sah' for the night. Thank you. I paid him back with the crummy movie, Syriana - a supposed political thriller that was so confusing that neither of us could figure anything out. Very poorly directed, particularly in light of the political thriller The International that I had recently watched that was outstanding.

Sunday was more reading and study, but had a marvelous time cooking Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One: oven roasted chicken thighs on a bed of kale, russert potatoes, and onion slices based in olive oil, paprika, and something else that I can't remember now because the wine I am about to tell you about was taking hold of the action.... Oh, and I steamed up a bunch of ears of native corn in a marjaram and rosemary broth, and a little of the wine I am about to mention....

Now the following is a total disclaimer of innocence. Several weeks ago I had opened a bottle of wine left from my parents estate, a 1973 Inglenook Napa Valley Zinfandel. Unfortunately, it had gone bad and down the drain it had to go. If it would have been preserved well, it would have gone for around $160 retail. I didn't even look that up until this week when I opened a bottle of Inglenook, this time an 1985 Estate Bottled Merlot. It too was bad. Another $85 down the drain. But I was determined to have some wine. It's no use keeping this stuff beyond a certain point because I just don't have the facilities to keep it properly. So, gotta try them and get on with it.

And this brings us to the sad tale of the 1974 Chateau Montelena Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon that I pulled from way back in the box. Amazingly, the cork did not disintegrate as I pulled it. I thought, well, so far so good. I gave it a taste and to my great surprise it was pretty darn good! So, I thought I'd better check out retail prices on that success and found it listed for retail at $350 a bottle! Holy crap! Did I tell you how much I enjoyed that wine? No? Well, let me tell you this... I really enjoyed the irony of the whole thing. If I'd had to buy that bottle in a restaurant? Yeah, about $700. A stellar experience. All accompanied by Neil Young, Earth Wind and Fire, and Nora Jones. How much better could it get? It can't. It just can not.... And I closed out with the Jane Austen movie of her Emma

08/12/09: Movie Road Trip: George Thurgood at Hampton Beach Casino
Left work eary Wed and headed off to Hampton Beach for an early dinner and then to see George Thurgood at the Hampton Beach Casino. The opening act with Jonny Lang was really great, and would have been an enjoyable night in itself - that boy can run a guitar! But George Thurgood is a master entertainer; just doesn't get much better than that for sure.

08/14/09: Movie Night At The Garrison: 30 Days of Night
I had found out a few weeks ago that a couple of folks in our backgammon Current Picture group hadn't seen the really scary but well done movie 30 Days of Night so I held a Movie Night At The Garrison Friday night after work.

A few came early at 6:00pm and while I fixed tacos, the backgammon games raged in the other room.

We ate til we were stuffed, and then watched the vampires rip the crap out of the townspeople of Barrow, Alaska as the sun dropped under the horizon for 30 days... well, of night.

08/16/09: No winning lottery but great Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One
Well, I didn't win the two hundred million lottery Saturday but I did have a marvelous Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One. I, however, got a little aggressive in my planning and my normal 2 hour start to clean up turned into a marathon 3 hour ordeal. But, it was great!

I made two dishes, and that was the reason for the time issue. For the main course I did garlic, cumin, and thyme seared pork chops in a Spanish medley of vegetables pisto, a mix of onion, garlic, zucchini, organic sweet red pepper, tomatoes, parsley and... well, you know how it goes with me once the wine - a wonderful Merlot - starts working its magic.

For a side, I improvised with some lentils mixed with garlic, basil, onion, and grilled turkey hot dogs (hey, that's all I had; you're supposed to do it with Italian sweet sausage). I had marinated the dogs in a basil, thyme, black pepper, olive oil and red wine broth and seared them before dumping them into the final cooking stage of the lentils. Marvelous....

Since the cooking took so long, I went through not only violinist Julia Fischer's presentation of Bach Concertos (D minor, A minor, E major, and with oboe in C minor), but I also did a complete Chicago CD and rocked the house with that. For dinner, I listened to 15 tracks of The Very Best of Diana Krall. And the movie of the night was the great Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood. How much better could things get? Go big, or go home... I go big; I'm already home....

08/28/09: B.B. King at Hampton Beach Casino
It was a great summer's Friday night to see the great B.B. King down at the Hampton Beach Casino. I felt like having a good Italian mean to start the party, so an early dinner in North Hampton at Ronaldo's was just the fix! As usual, the food was great, complemented by a nice Napa Valley Merlot. I was a little surprised at how heavy the traffic on Rt. 95 had been going south. I would have expected that to be the case coming north on Friday, but with a lot of the kids heading back to school this weekend (Marissa is one of them) I suppose more were heading home from vacation than heading off on vacation.

And the boardwalk along Hampton Beach was wide open; not like just a couple of weeks ago when I had come down to see George Thurgood. We had great seats off to the left of the stage and the place was jammed. When B.B. King came out on stage, the place went up for grabs. It was electric. And what a show! Though he sits through his performance, you would never know he was 83 years old. His fingers ripped along Lucille's neck like machine gun bullets. Unbelievable!

As B.B. King was offering a few kind words about Senator Edward Kennedy, who had died Tuesday, I glanced out of one of the open exit doors and saw the early onslaught of Hurricane Danny; just sheets of rain were falling. But by the time the concert was over, it was just a drizzle.

08/29/09: Movie Road Trip: District 9
Despite the storm being left behind by Danny, a few of us braved the elements to indulge ourselves with a Movie Road Trip to see the sci-fi movie District 9. We started out out at T.G.I. Friday's in Newington for an early dinner so we could catch the early show. I had heard that the special effects were really good. For that sort of thing, you want to see it on the big screen. Even though the picture is better in Blu-ray on a large screen tv, you just can't beat the dramaticness of seeing something like that in the theater. And, yeah, this was one of those movies that you just have to experience on the big screen. Though very strange and different, I was totally entertained. And that's what it's all about! That's what a Road Trip is all about!

08/30/09: Finally! A Sunny Sunday!
Well, Danny blew past and left us with a sunny and warm Sunday. I had some final chapters to edit on one of my novels - why I do this, I have no idea. But, I spent the morning sipping coffee and editing. However, after lunch I swept off the deck and took James Patterson's Beach House and a final cup of coffee for the day outside and had a wonderful afternoon of doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

Tonight's Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One was curry and Greek yogurt braised chicken thighs over a bed of long grain brown rice fixed in a broth of thyme, cumin and some sweet green peas thrown in for the hell of it, and they were marvelous. The wine of the night was a really soft Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc all to the sounds of a couple of CD's I listened to a couple of weeks ago because they're so good: Julia Fischer's presentation of Bach Concertos (D minor, A minor, E major, and with oboe in C minor), and The Very Best of Diana Krall.

09/04/09: Movie Night At The Garrison: Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring
At some urging, I made September Lord of the Rings trilogy month. Our first Movie Night At The Garrison was tonight, Friday, for the first episode. Everyone wanted to get together before for take out Chinese, but the place in Durham where we usually go was closed. Marissa looked up a local place on her phone and we grabbed that on the way through. A great feed, followed by a very long but enjoyable 3 hours in Middle-earth.

09/05/09: Labor Day Weekend
Though breezy and cool, the weather for Labor Day weekend was spectacular. Saturday I got caught up on some editing that I had been putting off and then settled into watching a couple of NetFlix movies that had come in, Being John Malkovich, which I'm sorry to say I just didn't get or like, and Rogue Trader, which was rather poorly done. As it was still early, I stuck in Coyote Ugly. But just as I was about a quarter of the way into it, Marissa called and wondered if I'd like to watch a movie with her. Sure! So she came over with an armful of DVDs from which we selected Hitman. She threw on a bag of popcorn, I grabbed a beer, and we had a hell of a good time!

Sunday I slept in until almost 9:30 and then wandered down to the my library and finished up with the editing work. After lunch, I trooped out onto the deck and finished of the last of my coffee and the James Patterson novel Beach House that I had started last weekend. Now, that was a good read!

For Peter's Sunday Party for one I fixed a Moroccan Shrimp and Vegetable dish. Marvelous parsley, cilantro, garlic, lemon juice., paprika ginger, and plumb tomatoes mixed with cumin, sweet onion, bliss potato, red and yellow bell pepper, and green olive mixture all with a more than wonderful Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. I had to make a special trip to the wine store for the wine. No Moroccan wine, so Celia was the best I could do.

What a wonderful cooking experience it was, too! 5:00pm to 8:00pm from wine opening to final clean up. Wow! While doing prep and cleaning, I enjoyed listening to The Beach Boys, ABBA's greatest hits, and some rocking Donna Summer. Then for dinner, I slowed it down and listened to Ella Fitzgerald and then Eva Cassidy, which I cried all the way through. I mean: how much better could it get? I dunnomeyou. But what I do know is that I finished off the entire bottle of Chilean Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc that I had made the special trip to the liquor store to get. And that's my story for the evening and I'm sticking to it....

Well, of course, that meant that it was 9:30 before I climbed out of bed Monday, Labor Day. I had purposefully not planned anything so that I could just sort of float and enjoy the day. Though a little cool, I did sit outside for awhile and read after I did a little more editing work. But the late afternoon and evening I decided to just go for it and did a Anthony Bourdain No Reservations marathon. It was great, and only one of the shows I had seen before quite awhile ago. Up and at it Tuesday and got a lot of coding on my project done. Great relaxing weekend!

09/11/09: Back-to-Back Movie Nights At The Garrison: Lord of the Rings, Two Towers and Return of the King
So, after last Friday's 09/04/09: Movie Night At The Garrison: Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring even, the fans were clammoring to get on with the next two in the series rather than spreading them out over the course of the month, which was what my plan was. So, Friday the 11th we got Chinese take out again and did The Two Towers, and then got pizza delivered Saturday the 12th and watched The Return of the King. Thank you, but I'm J.R.R. Tolkien'd out.

Sunday's Peter's Dinner Party For One turned out to be quite an ordeal. I was going to do Hunan hot shrimp and vegitables, but had shrimp last week so I decided to substitute chicken - because I had chicken. Then I got to throwing stuff together and sipping a nice Merlot and thought yellow cauliflower and mushrooms sounded pretty good. I had some hot chilies, garlic cloves, and scallions and made a nice sauce with tamari and dry sherry. Well, the whole thing was just great. Ended the night with the cute movie, New in Town and was up and at it early Monday for work.

09/19/09: The Great 2009 Talk Like A Pirate Backgammon Tournament And Walk The Plank Stew Voyage
Avast! And hear this, now. I had me an annual Talk Like A Pirate backgammon dinner party 09/19/09, I did. Was a lot of fun, it were. Current Picture So, if ye'd be interested in lookin' at some pictures, walk that plank to the page for the 'hole map. Arrrrrr....

But if ye'd only want the short splice of it, well then, here it is. I started cooking about 3:00pm as the stew was going to have to simmer for a few hours so wanted to get a head start on that. Took longer than I thought, but was great.

After we all ate, I put the movie of the night in, Resident Evil: Extinction as the movie I had wanted to show (Mutiny On The Bounty) didn't arrive in time. But we had a good time, regardless of that, we did. And even me parrot, Backgammoned Jack, partook in the celebrations with a few too many nips a'rum, he did. But, to see those pictures, you'll have to be a'goin' to the page itself. So, be off, now, with ye, and don't be tryin' to get 'ol Backgammoned Jack to speaking ill of me or any of me hearties or you'll be walkin' the plank out back, ye will!

09/25/09: Movie Night At The Garrison: Mutiny On The Bounty
Well, Mutiny On The Bounty arrived from NetFlix on Tuesday so I sent out a general last minute note to everyone to come over Friday night to watch it if they wanted to.

Late notice but both Tim and Rick came over and while we waited for the pizza to arrive, we had a blood bath backgammon session. I won't even discuss the scores to protect the innocent, but it was... brutal. My doubling cube must have its edges worn off it from all the times it was thrown. No sympathy. No tears. Throw, double, take, or pass: that's all you need to do...

09/26/09: Just A Hangout Weekend
Saturday was a beautiful, sunny day, though just a little on the chilly side. We're slowly slipping toward fall; a few of the leaves are already starting to turn. I got all caught up on a lot of little projects that had slipped due to a couple of pretty busy weeks, but by 3pm I was ready to relax.

And what better way to relax than to go to a party! Thing is, why go to a party when I can make my own! I had been thinking of trying some kind of lemon based chicken dish, so I scoured bunches or recipes and found four that sounded interesting but each having a different slant. So why not mess with things.... I pulled out the best parts of each and made my own recipe and headed off to the store to gather ingredients!

By the time I got back, it was past 'open the bottle of wine' time, so I popped the Beringer Sauvignon Blanc I had grabbed and started chopping. The main course I created I call 'Chicken With Lemon and Garlic', a really stunning work highlighted with scallion, dry sherry, garlic, ginger root, thyme, and rosemary. With that, I did a side of what I termed 'Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas', a cobbled together masterpiece of basmati rice and sweet peas in a broth of cumin, paprika, basil, and a splash of lime juice. And, because they called out to me, I had sweet corn on the cob boiled in a pot of boiling water seasoned with a heap of parsley.

And while all of this cooking frenzy was taking place, I looped through CDs ranging over Evanescence, Donna Summer, 15 selected cuts of various fast rock pieces, Cher (you just gotta love Cher...), some club mix, and a little Mozart during dinner. Clean up was accompanied by some Neal Young to smooth out the night.

I finished off Saturday night with the really entertaining movie Duplicity with Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, even pressing into the wee Sunday morning hours watching parts of the directors commentary. So, Sunday I just slept in until about 9:15, sipped some coffee as I did some editing work, and then, despite a rainy and chilly day, spent an enjoyable afternoon on the sofa reading Anthony Bourdain's 'Kitchen Confidential'.

For dinner, I enjoyed a rematch of last nights spectacular while listening to Bach's Two and Three Part Inventions, a little more Mozart, and Ella Fitzgerald took me through dinner. Am I ready for the code wars tomorrow? Yeah, I'm ready. Bring it on, brother. Bring it on....

10/03/09: Road Trip Movie Night Out: Pandorum
Oh, yeah. This is just our speed for a Saturday night: a sci-fi adventure with creepy aliens and terrific special effects. Dinner and some backgammon at T.G.I. Current Picture Friday's in Newington before the 7:40pm show was a nice wind-down from a busy week, though next will be very hectic as I have a major project going out to the test server for analysis.

Got up late Saturday morning because I was up late last night watching the movie Sunshine Cleaning, a sort of cute little flick. I spent the morning cleaning up around here a little, doing some lanudry, and then some reading.

It had been raining most of the night, and was really an overcast Fall day; the leaves are just starting to turn around here. I hope the rain doesn't dampen things out. Then, off to dinner and the movie.

Marissa gave me this picture when she was out with Gary and some of their friends on ATVs. Here she is, in all her glory: airborn. Nice air, Ris, but I think that I'll just sit that stuff out....

Up late again Sunday morning. Just taking this weekend at ease. Sipped coffee and did some writing and a little more reading before heading out shopping for dinner. One of my senior karate disciples, Tim House, came over for dinner and detailed discussions of some of the last six books he has been reading. I fixed a great on the fly tarragon pork chops in shallots with sweet red peppers, sauted thyme mushrooms in a frothy rum and garlic reduction, and steamed rosemary broccoli.

It turned out to be more than a 'normal' martial arts dinner meeting. I offer the following email that I sent out to all C&S Self Defense Association Black Belts:

C&S Self Defense Association:

I am pleased to announce the promotion of Tim House to the rank of 4th degree black belt Yondan as of Sunday October 4, 2009.

This was totally unplanned and something that I have never done before. I have been working with Yondan House over the last year with his development. He has been kind enough on many occasions to buy a bottle of wine and so I've had him over for dinner at which time, in the past, I have strived to separate his mind from his body; many times being successful.

But this evening.... I was so totally impressed with Yondan House's command of the material and his deep insight that he brought to my questioning that I knew he was ready to move to the Yondan level. I am really excited by this development and wish Yondan the best as he now moves into new material and adventure. As I kidded him as he was leaving: "Tim House, overnight success after 27 years."



10/10/09: Columbus Day Weekend
It was nice to have an extra day to relax this weekend. And the view out of my library windows with the leaves beginning to turn really makes it feel like Fall. It's been pretty wet over the last few weeks so I doubt we'll get the vibrancy of colors that would be more 'normal', but I'm sure it will be beautiful. And one of the great benefits of living here. People come from literally all over the world to see Fall in New England and I get to wake up to it every day. Of course, I get to wake up to 10 degrees below zero with blinding snow storms and driving through 8" of heavy snow, but we look at that as a benefit...

Wonderfully relaxing dinner party Saturday evening. I hadn't done chicken piccata in awhile, so thought that sounded pretty good. Of course, I can't stand to follow directions, so made it up as I shopped for ingredients that afternoon. I ended up with a rosemary chicken piccata under a steamed layer of kale, cumin and paprika steamed Brussels sprouts, and thyme regular and baby bella mushrooms in a garlic and shallot rum reduction thingie. And what turned out to be a really nicely preserved bottle of 1982 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon. All met with high approval. Not bad for a city boy.

It had been a long, difficult week at work; I didn't even leave the office until around 6:00pm Friday. And Saturday I didn't end up tumbling into the rack until after 1:00am so just slept in until 9:15am Sunday morning. The highlight of the day was me crawling around on the floor trying to hook the wire up for my new optical mouse for the computer; the old one was double-clicking on me all the time resulting in two very distinct events: first, inadvertantly deleting several emails in a row, for example, when I only wanted to delete one, and second, me about to jerk the mouse out of the back of the computer and slam the dead body up against the wall. Neither one of those are particularlly appealing, so crawling around on the floor was a necessary preventative measure from me losing it over this and going over the deep end. New mouse successfully installed; peace and harmony restored. All is well....

And Monday, Columbus Day, was a beautiful, crisp Fall day. I sat in the living room looking out the back windows most of the day just enjoying reading and relaxing. Grabbed a quick dinner and watched some tv before heading off to bed. The upcoming work week is going to be really busy with a project I have finished and am in the process of turning over to the test environment for analysis by the QA folks. Should be an interesting week.

10/16/09: First Snow Flurry, maybe...
Okay, this wasn't a really big deal, but on the drive into work there was just enough of a light snow 'flutter' to spot the windshield. So, that counts as the first snow flurry of the season, right? Right.

10/17/09: Movie Road Trip: Where The Wild Things Are
A few of us did dinner at TGI Friday's in Newington again before going over to the theater to see Where The Wild Things Are. Wow! What a marvelous movie! To heck with the kids, I enjoyed the hell out of this; just great!

And because it was Saturday night, and it seems only Linda and I had nothing up for early call tomorrow, so we came back to my place, fixed popcorn, and we watched X-Men: Wolverine. Back to back Saturday night movies: how much better could it get? But it was almost 1:00am before I rolled into bed.

Managed to drag my body out of bed at 9:15 Sunday morning to an overcast and threatening pale sky. I did some work in the morning in the library and then shifted out onto the sofa in the living room to read. One of my brown belt students came over mid afternoon to pick up some books and we chatted for awhile. After he left, I shoved off for the store to shop and ran into a two minute snowy-sleet mix. Nice.

Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One consisted of a two hour marathon fixing a marvelous broccoli and Italian spiced sausage pasta dish in a creamy yogurt and light cream herb sauce. While all that was going on, I enjoyed two of my new CDs, Brahms Variations on a Theme by Paganini, Op.35 and Bach: Preludes, Fughettas and Fugues. For dinner, I listened to The Very Best of Diana Krall to smooth the night out. And the movie of the night was the really entertaining Someone Like You.

10/24/09: Annual UNH Walkabout
Every Fall I go over to the University of New Hampshire in Durham and walk through the leaves on campus. I call it my 'Annual UNH Walkabout'. Current Picture I was a very brief student there in 1972 and just love the campus. So, I return every year just because that's what I've decided to do.

I chose this Saturday because I had to go out to finish shopping for a backgammon dinner party I was having that evening. But as I pulled out of the condo project, the rain just started to pour down.

It had been misting and raining lightly all day, but I've done my walkabout many times in the rain. But when I got over to campus, it was really heavy so I just took some shots through the car window. From there, I decided it would be nice to just take a drive around on some of the back roads. Fall, whether raining or sunny, is my kind of weather so I just drove around for the Fall joy of it.

10/24/09: The Great 2009 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Midnight Bean Tremors Brew
Can't let Halloween pass without having a backgammon dinner party, The Great 2009 Halloween Backgammon Tournament And Midnight Bean Tremors Brew. Current Picture I was a little at a loss to come up with an idea for the 'Midnight Bean Tremors Brew', but for some reason I stumbled on this recipe for 'Vegetarian Bayou Gumbo', and I thought, why not give that a try?

For the Cajun spice mix I used 'Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast), but I felt it came out a little bland for what I had been expecting. Others thought it was great, but the back up pizza was necessary. And talk about a sore hip: man, was I a hurtin' unit after over 3 hours of prep work and constant stirring of the pots of gumbo, roux, and Basmati brown rice. I did manage to get a couple of games of backgammon in with Brian (say, Brian, did I mention that I'm 6 up on you?), but the kitchen called.

I didn't even get to really watch any of the movies that I ran all during the day, the last couple of which I had seen before: Van Helsing and Halloween. But the Halloween was not the original with Jamie Lee Curtis and was not good. Oh well...

10/25/09: Sunday Kick Back
I had a great Sunday sitting on the sofa and catching up on some reading that I am doing. For my Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One I fixed a marvelous on the fly paprika cauliflower stir fry with garlic, thyme, and scallions with a side of dry sherry and spiced snow peas all over Basmati brown rice in a parsley broth. And, from Marissa and Courtney's pumpkin carving, I did up paprika baked pumpkin seeds. Those were great and really simple: I tossed them in olive oil and paprika and baked them at 250 for 60 minutes, turning about every 15 to 20 minutes and sprinkling a little more paprika when necessary.

10/30/09: Halloween Movie Night At The Garrison: The Exorcist
Because the re-make version of the movie Halloween that showed at last week's backgammon party was so miserable, I offered anyone who wanted to, to come over tonight for pizza and the movie The Exorcist. It was trick-or-treat night for Dover, and so before the movie started we played backgammon, ate pizza, and doled out candy to the few kids who come around the condo complex. The movie was still every bit as scary and creepy as it was when it first came out in the early 1970s. A great time! And Chris brought some devilishly good chocolate cake that we almost managed to finish.

10/31/09: Halloween Weekend Fun
Saturday morning, Marissa came over and did a super delayed Fall cleaning job. Having the windows open during the summer just loads the place with dust that's tough to keep up with. I had the air conditioner pulled out a couple weeks ago and so we're all sealed up for the winter now and time to have that cleaning. Thanks, Marissa!

Sunday, I finished the book Building Intelligent Agents In Java while sipping coffee and listening to some Bach. I continued the Bach while cooking my Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One, another on the fly dinner. This time sauted Italian spiced salami and broccoli with garlic and leaks in a Fume Blanc sauce thickened with light cream and then blended in with spaghetti cooked in a parsley broth (you can tell I like the parsley broth deal). With dinner, I listened to some Vivaldi cello works.

11/07/09: Rose School of Karate 2009 Disciple Retreat
I held my karate 2009 Disciple Retreat again at my home in Dover, NH this year, but only a single day. Due to the unknown pending H1N1 flu Current Picture I didn't want anyone traveling by air, and because of the economy I felt it important to keep everyone's expenses to a minimum.

Everyone met at my home Saturday morning at 7:30am for coffee and donuts, and I bagan my opening remarks by 7:45am.

We took about a half hour break around noon for delivered subs from Kendall Pond, and worked straight through until about 7:00pm for dinner, though I brought out some cinnamon spiced hot apple cider with cheese and turkey kielbassa during the mid-afternoon sessions.

Again, to keep expenses down, I just fixed a Barilla spaghetti and Tuscan garlic bread feast with apple crisp and ice cream for desert. Marvelous and quick. It was a long day; almost 15 hours of pretty intense work.

11/08/09: Eclectic Sunday
I slept in until about 9:00am from yesterday's busy karate disciple retreat. Coffee and bright sun that warmed the day were just great. I spent the morning in my library doing some research and catching up on emails. Early afternoon, I read for awhile until Marissa showed up about 2:30 for a 'mercy college kid dorm room food stock up' run to the store.

After putting the groceries away, I plopped onto the sofa and read while listening to a mix of Mozart and Beethoven until about 5:00pm when it was time to open the wine and get on with dinner.

Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One was seared lemon juice, thyme, and paprika seasoned sea scollops in scallions. Separately, I sauted some rosemary sprinkled mushrooms, scallions, and sweet red pepper. The place was really getting filled with these great scents along with Vivaldi's cello works (I'm getting pretty obsessive with this cello stuff). Once that was almost done I added the scallops, some yogurt and light cream, brought it all to a boil and simmered for a few minutes. While this was all going on, I was simmering a pot of basil brewed Basmati brown rice and a pot of cumin and chili powder steamed fresh cut green beans. Nice. Vivaldi wasn't bad either....

11/13/09: Friday The 13th Movie Road Trip: 2012
What better day than a Friday a 13th to go out on a dinner and movie Road Trip to see the biggest disaster movie yet made: 2012. Was the plot silly? Who cares! Was the acting moronic despite some big names? Who cares! Was the science flawed and even some of the base facts crazy? Who cares! All we cared about were the great special effects! When you can go to a movie and be entertained to the extent that you find yourself holding your breath for over an hour and wondering 'How'd they do that?' then that's all that matters.

11/21/09: Movie Road Trip: Twilight New Moon
So, the other day Tim House called me from the movie theater as he was stopping off from work to get his tickets for the new Twilight movie that a few of us went to tonight. He says, "Gee, I hope everyone got their tickets ahead because this place is FULL of teenage girls!" Great, I thought: And then there will be us.... More beer!

And so based on that, after a couple of beers with dinner and some backgammon at TGI Friday's in Newington Saturday night, four of us bore up under the pressure and took our seats. The place was packed. And then all during the movie, the teeners went, "Oooooo....", and they went "Ahhhhhh....", and they went "Ohhhhhh....".

And that's fine. The movie wasn't all that bad. Entertaining, though slower and not as captivating as the first in the series. I'll go see the third one when it comes out. Hey, it's entertainment. Beats throwing code all day long until your brain wants to explode out through your ears.

Sunday morning and early afternoon, I worked on my financial price analysis programming project, sipped some marvelous coffee, listened to classical music, and enjoyed the view out of my library windows. Later in the afternoon I sat in the living room and caught up on some reading. And Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One was skillet tarragon pork chops sauted in scallions, shallot, and ginger root served with sides of paprika, red wine and herb mushrooms, and thyme steamed Brussels sprouts. The whole effort was accompanied by Bach violin works and a great Sutter Home Zinfandel.

11/25/09: Thanksgiving Weekend
Colin, and Marissa and Gary came over Thanksgiving morning, and we all piled into Marissa's car to go get 'Aroma Joes' coffee and muffins. They stayed until around 11, and we had a nice visit. Colin helped me get my NetFlix instant movie wireless video streaming working through my internet connection and PlayStation 3. That will be a lot of fun becuase I sometimes select mailed movies that just don't cut more than 10 minutes. So now I'll be able to just go to the computer, select a title, and go watch it. Very smooth....

I had gone shopping last weekend for the Cornish Game Hens and fixings for my dinner and had stopped off at the liquor store on my way home from work on Current Picture Wednesday to pick up what turned out to be a really nice bottle of Stags Leap Savingon Blanc for $25 - why not splurge; it's Thanksgiving. Well, that's a splurge for me, anyway.

So, about 4:00pm I popped the cork on the bottle and got on with the activities. I always fix the hens the way Chef James Haller from the former Blue Strawberry restaurant in Portsmouth, NH did them. I cover them in paprika and thyme and open sear them in a 475 degree oven for 30 minutes. I take them out, splash them with white wine and stuff them with rice, cover tightly, and cook at about 350 degrees for another 45 minutes or so, pausing every 15 minutes or so to splash wine across them.

While they were cooking, I fixed Haller's yogurt, cream, wine, shallot and herbed sauce as well as curry powder steamed Brussels sprouts. Man, the place smelled good! Current Picture And for those who have experienced my hen preparation process and the smoke alarm going off from the oven searing, it didn't happen this time! The whole process from initial wine uncorking to final counter top clean up took 3 hours and way too much Bach and Vivaldi, though I did some Ella Fitzgerald and Eva Cassidy while I ate. Marvelous time.

After dinner cleanup I finished some of the programming work I had been doing during the afternoon and then settled onto the sofa for the first four hours of the six hour 1995 production of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice. It is just great in enhanced Blue-ray, but I didn't get to bed until around midnight.

Up early Friday morning for a day of programming and relaxing. After dinner I just couldn't help myself and watched not only the last two hours of Pride and Prejudice but also about an hour of some of the special features. It was after 1:00am before I got to bed and I was beat.

But I did crawl out of bed around 9:00am Saturday morning to get back to programming. I spent the day refactoring a lot of my code to bring all of the trading and repricing rules together. Then, after I spent the late afternoon catching up on some reading I am doing, a friend came over for dinner and a movie. But it was an early night as I wanted to be up early the next morning.

12/05/09: Saturday Night Spur Of The Moment Party
When I got my NetFlix movies and found that Fighting was one of them, I put out a spur of the moment party note for a Saturday night backgammon, dinner, and movie night. I didn't really expect anyone to come as it's a busy time of year, but Rick and Linda were free so they came over.

I went out shopping early afternoon as I wanted get all of the prep work done so I could play some backgammon. I had invited everyone to come over anytime around 6:00pm, so I popped the cork on a nice bottle of Berringer Cabernet and got on with the prep work. By the time Linda showed up around 6:00pm I was all set, so we played a couple of games of backgammon until Rick arrived. While he and Linda went at it, I cooked up a recipe I found in Food and Wine magazine (yes, I did mess with it a little) of lite alfredo sauce over linguini, curry and other stuff spiced chicken, rosemary mushrooms, and turkey kielbasa that came out really good.

We got to the movie around 8:00, and it was actually pretty good, with realistic fight scenes. When the movie was over and they were leaving, it had snowed and there was about a half inch down; beautiful. Anyway, after Rick and Linda left, I stayed up and watched the Harrison Ford movie Patriot Games and hit the bed around 11:30. I had a miserable night Friday, unable to sleep at all so I wanted to be really tired before going to bed.

It worked as I never came too until 9:00am Sunday morning. Though the sun was out, there was about three inches of snow on the ground that had fallen overnight. I fixed myself some coffee and a fried egg, and then did programming until around noon. That's enough of that, so had a bite to eat and then into the living room to read Food and Wine's wine editor Lettie Teague's book Educating Peter: How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert, which is a delightful read. If you're at all interested in wine, do yourself a favor and get this book. Great fun, and really informative.

By late afternoon, I had to take a break from reading and thought I'd try out a NetFlix Instant movie streamed through my PlayStation3. I hadn't seen the movie 2010: The Year We Make Contact and thought that might be an relaxing way to wind up the afternoon. It was okay; entertaining, but nothing to jump up and down about. And because I cooked Saturday night, there was no Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One this weekend. I did, however, enjoy my last leftover hens from Thanksgiving and finished off the Cabernet from last night.

12/09/09: New Tech Article
I just posted a new technical article Simple Java Servlet with JSP Example that might be of interest to Java programmers. Most times when we as software developers go into a job, there is a pre built infrastructure in place. Many times, this structure is built around some third party framework, such as Apache Struts, or WebSphere, or whatever. So, we just look at the recipe that's laid out for us and we jump in. But what happens when this isn't the case and you have to work from the dirt up? That's what I try to do in this article. Check it out!

12/12/09: Movie Night At The Garrison: Star Trek 2009
When my NetFlix order came in Thursday, the new 2009 Star Trek movie on DVD was one of them. I thought, gee, if they have this in Blue-ray at Hollywood Video, I'll get that and see if anyone wants to come over and watch it. So, five of us started playing backgammon about 6:00pm Saturday night until the pizza arrived around 7:00pm. I fired up the system around 8:00pm, and we were locked into it until I paused it for a desert break. Linda had brought over some ice cream and Jim had a decadent chocolate cake. We were all very, very baaaaaaaad.... Great movie! I just may have to buy that one, it's that good.

12/13/09: The Great Get The Christmas Tree Event
Marissa called me at 8:00am this morning to tell me to get my ass out of bed as she and Colin were coming by to grab me to go out to get a Christmas tree. They are so sweet; just love them to death. Before meeting up with Colin, she drove me over to Aroma Joes for coffee, and then we over to Tuttles Farm market. First, I went in and bought some chilies for tonight's Hunan Chicken and Broccoli event that I am fixing, and then we walked around and selected a nice tree. I also had Marissa stop at the liquor store. I wanted to get a better bottle of wine than I would find at the grocery store. I picked out a Sterling Cabernet as it's been a long time since I've had Sterling. Good choice as it was very rich and smooth and hung to the glass with nice legs.

For Peter's Sunday Dinner Party For One I tried to do a Hunan Chicken and Broccoli with paprika and cumin seasoned mushrooms and basil Basmatti brown rice. On Wednesday, I had a real estate brokers license re certification class to attend in Portsmouth, and I had stopped off at Taipei & Tokyo on Woodbury Ave just outside of Portsmouth for dinner before class. I had that dish there and it was so good that I determined that I would give it a shot for dinner tonight.

Well, it wasn't, of course, anything like what I had at the restaurant, but pretty darn good. No complaints from the cheap seats on this one! I lacked some of the key ingredients (and frankly didn't know what those were other than some web research on Hunan sauces) and had to make it up as I went in some areas, as I usually do. For example, I could not find those long, Chinese, red chili peppers, so, instead, while at the market, I got a package of dried 'Los Chileros Chili Habanero' peppers. On the back of the package, it clearly states: "Caution: These chilies are known to be the hottest chilies on earth".

And you know what, they may very well be exactly that. After I hydrated them and got them frying up in the wok, the fumes were so strong that they choked me right up. I mean, I was coughing and tears were coming down my cheeks; yeah, the whole deal. So, I really cooked them up to get the fire out before mixing them with the rest of the sauce that was used to marinate the chicken. In the end, it was really nice. Not too hot or overpowering. Well, for me, anyway. Not that I like lip numbing spice, or anything. But I suspect the meal would have been a little hot for anyone else. Of course, if I would have been serving it to anyone else, I would have cut the harbaneros way back, knowing how pungent they can be. And these.... Whew!

12/19/09: Movie Road Trip: Avitar
This is just one of those have movies that you just have to go to the theater to see. So, after meeting at TGI Fridays for a late lunch, we did the 3-D version, which was just breathtaking. And yes, the movie was a little long and too 'message-ie', but the special effects more than made up for it. Stunning experience, as far as I'm concerned, anyway.

Saturday evening, I drove up to North Berwick to the Williams Christmas party. Always such a wonderful experience; Linda does a great job of organizing Scott so that everything is just perfection!

12/22/09: Annual Moive
I'm not sure when I first watched the movie The Gathering with Ed Asner, but it's sort of been a tradition with me that I watch it sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The movie was a 1977 made for television feature that I believe I caught the original of. A few years later, I made a VHS tape of it, and that's what I've watched every year. So, tonight was the night. I just settled in and let the tape roll. Yeah, it's a crappy copy and old (though good versions are being sold for $50 and up online), but the story is timeless. Anyway, silly as it is, I do it every year, though that old VHS tape is not going to last much longer; it would be nice if they put it onto a DVD sometime. Until then, this is what I do.

12/23/09: After Work Pause
Almost the entire office got together for a little pre Christmas celebration at Paddy's at the Pease Tradeport. It was nice to see everyone and talk about something other than just work stuff. I didn't get there until after 5:00pm, so enjoyed a beer with everyone before heading home to finish last minute gift wrapping.

12/24/09: Christmas Eve
For Christmas Eve, I fixed a ham in a sherry, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, etc spiced sauce with rosemary and paprika steamed Brussels sprouts all with a Berringer Pinot Noir. A lot of Vivaldi and life is good.

Marissa called just after I had finished dinner and asked what I was doing. She came over and watched most of It's A Wonderful Life. Gary came over as well, and had never seen it so was bored silly - stunted childhood not seeing that before.

12/25/09: Merry Christmas!
I had been informed in no uncertain terms by Marissa that she and Colin would be over at 8:00am to fix Christmas day breakfast. Current Picture So, I was up at 7:30, took a quick shower, and was all set up for Christmas with Colin and Marissa just before 8:00.

It started out to be bright and sunny, but then as the morning wore on, it did cloud up some. I think there is a storm heading our way.

Anyway, Marissa fixed a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, and potatoes. We had a grand time together until around noon when they had to head out. I had bought Marissa a Discovery Quest dvd, and so we watched one of the episodes from that while they were here.

After they left, a couple of my neighbors stopped in to say hi, and then I just spent the rest of the day hanging out, relaxing, and doing a movie marathon of sorts.


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