Been a bit distracted, so I haven’t written up my thoughts on this year’s Valentine’s Day. So here goes.

My wife and I got dressed up all fancy. Me in my kilt and my wife in a fancy, new dress. She looked stunning. I was her barely tolerable dining companion. We ate for our first time at a restaurant called Daniel Arthur’s. Where exactly we heard about it, I’m not sure. Maybe it was just from driving by it, maybe it was mentioned by a neighbor or a friend, I can’t be sure.

I can say for certain that I have never paid so much for a single meal before. And yet as much as I dislike spending money like that, it was a wonderful evening. We arrived just before the dinner rush started. It was a cold evening out — particularly when wearing a kilt — but the restaurant was toasty warm. We were seated immediately and given complementary champagne. Soon thereafter our waitress brought out an amuse-bouche consisting of a salmon mousse spread on a slice of cucumber with a fresh dill spread topped with tobacco onion. I’ve never had anything quite like it and would have been pleased to have a tray of them to munch on.

Next up was the appetizer. A tempura, lobster tail on a bed of cabbage lightly coated in a slightly, spicy sauce. The surprising thing of the sauce was after the initial burst of heat, the spiciness did not continue to build. It merely lingered on the tongue. Fortunately the chef foresaw this and followed up the appetizer with an apricot sorbet, which did a wonderful job of cleansing the pallet. Then it was time for the main course, for which both my wife and I had selected the Angus beef ribeye with brandied, caramel onions, grilled portabello mushrooms and smoke gouda and roasted garlic potatoes.

The ribeye was good — not my normal cut of beef and a touch too fatty for my taste — still it was tasty and my word those potatoes were heavenly. The portabello mushrooms were small, barely noticeable bits whose flavor was completely hidden by the onions. Mind you, those were tasty onions but I would have preferred more/bigger mushrooms and less onions. The pièce de résistance was the desert of which there were two small portions. One was some sort of bread pudding thing. I’m not particularly a fan of bread puddings though this seemed nice; however the other desert utterly blew it away. The other desert was an espresso crème brûlée and it was heavenly. I do not make a habit of passing along my compliments on a meal (or any portion of one), beyond the simplest of courtesies to the wait staff. That night I broke my habit due to that desert. My wife is an excellent cook with a better than fair hand at making deserts but even still that espresso crème brûléewas truly one of the best things I have ever eaten.

I should also note that one of Daniel Arthur’s features is they have live music every evening. On Valentine’s Day, in pleasant surprise they had Kevien “B.F.”Burt playing. We had heard Kevin playing previously at a neighborhood party and greatly enjoyed his performance. If we’d realized he was the music for the night, we might have sprung the extra cash for the package where he would come to our table and play a song for us. Since we didn’t know and it was a bit late to change our plans1; we didn’t get a song directly but did enjoy hearing him perform for several other tables near by.

End conclusion, it was a beautiful (and tasty) meal with a beautiful (and tasty) woman who I happen to be lucky enough to be married to.

1 Getting the song at your table was part of the most expensive package which included other options, such as a full bouquet of flowers at your table.

Wednesday morning, my supervisor pulled me aside to tell me since management wants to go into beta just before I take 2 days of vacation. And since one of those vacation days conflicts with a week long Microsoft training course I was signed up for they are pulling me out of the class. I wasn’t happy about it. She wasn’t either but the decision came down from on high.

Wednesday afternoon, a co-worker and myself had to drive 4 hours to my current employer’s home office. Instead of heading straight to the hotel, we stopped along the way to get dinner. We ended up hitting the hotel around 8 PM. When we checked in there was a message asking us to call our supervisor. Neither one of us liked the sound of that. We tried calling her back but got her answering machine. We left a message and I went to my own room. I had been laying down for just about an hour and was thinking of hitting up the hotel’s hottub when the room phone rang. I picked it up and it was my supervisor. She was calling to tell me the company had decided to close our office once the lease runs out. Apparently, there’s going to be some sort of transition plan if you want to move out by the home office and continue working for the company. But as I told a co-worker, I’d rather slit my wrists then move to keep working for this company. So I’ve got somewhere between 4 – 8 months to find a different job1. Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night and I wasn’t feeling motivated for teaching the next day.

Thursday, I went into the office. I chatted with a few people and they were all sympathetic (and wanting to know what we were going to do). Then I checked on the classroom and it wasn’t setup correctly, so I got to do some last minute running around to get it fixed. Then I taught, trying not to put them to sleep. The two big problems with the class were that it had to be put together at the last minute and I had 3 different groups of people attending the class. Each group having a different, non-overlapping skill set; making it impossible not to be too basic for one part of the class while being totally over the head of a different part. *sigh* Still some people seemed to get something out of the class and nobody actually snored through it.

Thursday night, we drove home.

Friday, I went into my soonish-to-be-closed office and while it was a dark humor going around; most people seemed happier than I’ve seen them for some time. Maybe good things will come of this moronic decision. Who knows? I just know that I’m going to be much more motivated to find a different job (I’d been half-heartedly looking already) and the company’s customers who pay support fees are going to get seriously pissed off2.

So if any of my readers are in the Eastern Iowa area and are hiring, maybe you could let me know?

1 We’ve got some kind of extension on the lease so it’s anybody’s guess when exactly our office will be closed, but we do know it will happen sometime between September and December.
2 From what I understand the majority of the company’s best help desk personnel are in my office. So the customers will have to wait longer to get somebody to talk to them about their issue(s) and then wait even longer for that person to fix their issue(s).

The apartment complex Ariesna and I live in is located directly behind a grocery store. The store is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except for a couple of holidays). Given it is only about a 5 minute walk to get inside the store; we tend to leave the decision of what to have for dinner till it is time to make dinner. The upside is we don’t have to keep a lot of food around the house and we can get fresh meats/fruits/veggies for dinner. The downside is we are frequentally tired after work and just grab some sort of box meal, like Hamburger Helper, as we don’t always feel up to doing real cooking. Tonight, like many nights, neither one of us knew what we wanted for dinner. I started poking around online looking for a recipe to try and found the following recipe

Beef Peach Pie


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can sliced peaches, drained
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, egg, milk, onion, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Press into a 9 inch pie pan like a crust.
  3. Prick meat all over using a fork.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
  5. Remove from the oven, and pour off any excess fat.
  6. Arrange the sliced peaches over the beef.
  7. Mix together the vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar, and spoon over the top of the peaches.
  8. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  9. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: This recipe is copyright 2006 and not CC licensed like all of my works on this site.

I think Ariesna mostly made this dish to humour me. She hates peaches. But from the moment she pulled it from the oven, I was sure we had a winner. The scents coming off the pie were mouthwatering. Then I got myself a plate, a fork and took a bite.

Oh. My. Gawd. It was GOOD! The brown sugar mixture carmelized over the meat creating a heavenly glaze. And the juices of the peaches soaked throughout the meat, every bite was delectable.

AWelkin, does this dish sound good to you? We’re thinking about making it again when you and Bryon come over on Friday.

Today marks the completion of my third decade on this planet and I am quite pleased to be able to announce that I ain’t dead yet. 😀 But worry not gentle reader, I’ll not be subjecting you to some passé retrospective about my life. Instead, I’ll just recap today and today alone.

I was up playing Wild Arms 3 till about 3 am as I just couldn’t sleep. Most likely due to an excessive amount of munching on holiday goodies while downing glass, after glass of soda1. I found one monster to fight that took around an hour to defeat but it jumped my characters up 4-7 levels! *grin* Then when I eventually got to bed; I slept poorly. Our apartment is just too dry this time of year and our little humidifier stopped working. This causes me to keep waking up with sinus headaches and a terrible thrist. I got out of bed about 8:30 – 9 and went back to playing the video game a bit more. Shortly there after, Michelle got up and gave me my birthday present.

What’d she get me? A case of blue balls Bawls. Then after lazing around most of the day; we headed out to the local mall to meet some friends.

I’d foolishly asked a bunch of friends to join us in watching the Narina movie with a follow-up plan to eat dinner together. There was one point that I’d not factored in these plans. This year, my birthday fell on a Saturday. Just about the last Saturday before Christmas. Traffic was insane and people all around were grouchy, though we did run across some nice people that helped us get around the parking lot2. We went over to the mall a little early and bought a new humidifer and then headed down to the theater. We got tickets, met up with our friends and went in to watch the The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

*whew* What a movie! While not perfect, it was probably as good as we could hope for from a Hollywood production.
High points:

  • The actress playing Lucy was spot on. Most of the other actors cast in the movie were also quite good
  • The backgrounds were gorgeous.
  • The addition of the Nazi bombing run at the beginning of the movie really helped to give context to the time of the story.

Low points:

  • The costuming on the witch. Her outfits were ugly and just didn’t work with the imagery I have in my head for the character. Though I do have to admit the black , soulless eyes did work for me.
  • The witch was not nearly as afraid of Aslan as she should have been. In my memories of the book, the witch was terrified of Aslan but the movie seemed to put them on a more even footing.
  • Maugrim’s voice. The actor doing the voice did a fine job, but being the only character without a british accent really stuck out and annoyed me.

Overall, I’d say it was worth seeing in the theater and it is something I’ll be adding to our DVD collection when it becomes available.

After the movie was over, we headed to the restaurant. Oh, I should mention we had called earlier in the day to try making reservations but were told they don’t do that for parties of less than 8. And that they would have plenty of room for the 6 of us. When we got there; we were told it would be a 2 hour wait. We decided to switch to the Oyama Sushi restaurant. They seated us within minutes of our arrival (even though they were already pretty packed). Then they plied us with drinks until our food was ready3. We had a jolly time chatting and drinking (non-alcholic, for the most part) but all good things do come to an end and eventually we all headed home. It was a very good day and while I ain’t dead yet; I am a bit tired so good night, sleep tight and don’t let the space bugs bite!

1 a.k.a. pop to you heathens.
2 A few people threw their cars into reverse to open up bigger areas for us to drive through and things of that nature.
3 It turns out this weekend contains not only my birthday and practically the last weekend before Christmas but it’s also graduation weekend for the University! No wonder everything was so packed today! This also explains why it took so long for our food to arrive.

I had originally planned on attending a Pampered Chef party with my wife last Sunday. I had been thinking it would be some pleasant socializing over some tasty food with a bit of somebody trying to sell me some pricey kitchen stuff. That is to say a not entirely unpleasant to spend part of one’s afternoon. Instead about an hour before the party, our friend Bryon stopped by and mentioned that Bruce Campbell was in town giving a short talk and promotting his new book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way.

I thought about it for a minute, but I knew there’d be more chances for Pampered Chef parties and I doubted I’d have any better chance of getting to see Mr. Campbell in person. So after a quick shower1, Bryon and I hopped into the car and drove into Iowa City. We got to the site about 40 minutes prior to the event began. We waited around and it turned out one of my co-workers was also there2. Then about 10 minutes before Mr. Campbell was scheduled to begin speaking; they opened one set of the doors into the auditorium and let everybody in. And naturally, it wasn’t the door we’d had been waiting at. *sigh*

Eventually, everybody was inside and mostly seated but then the organizers explained how the signing procedure was supposed to work and said the new book was for sale at the back of the auditorium. So we ended up giving up our fairly good seats to go get in another line. It took a while to get through the line, but it was good that we both went to the line as Laura3 showed up looking for us. Apparently, she decided the party wasn’t her cup of tea. While we were waiting in line; she kindly thanked me for “being so god-damn tall”.

There was a considerable amount of waiting in line to get the book, but eventually we all got our copies and headed back to find new seats (the good seats we’d had were long gone). A bit after that Mr. Campbell started taking questions. It turns out he’s a very charismatic speaker. There were a number of questions about him working with Sam Raimi, but the only one that really stuck in my mind was:

Questioner: When working on Spiderman, did you hang out with Tobey Maguire?
Bruce Campbell: Why would I?


After far too little time had passed, Mr. Campbell stopped taking questions and then made a short speech promoting B-movies as the only place that is still creative in Hollywood.

…getting bitten by a radioactive spider is a b-movie!

After the speech, they started having people come up to get their books signed. Bryon & I had relatively low numbers but when we were going up they weren’t actually checking peoples numbers. Eventually I got up there and had Mr. Campbell sign my book; but I felt like a complete twit, the entire time I was there. I mean I have enjoyed all of his movies that I’ve seen and what I read of the book while I was in line was very amusing but I didn’t really have anything to say to him. He was very polite to me, but it was a rather uncomfortable moment for me. Signed memorabilia is nice to have I suppose, but it doesn’t do much for me. To tell the truth, I’m not entirely sure why I went up to have him sign the book. Other than I’d waited in line to get the sticker saying I could do so. *shrug* Life, go figure.

After that, we took off and headed off to meet up with some other friends for some RPGing. When we got there they were still finishing up with the Pampered Chef party and I got to munch down some of the leftovers4. Then it was game time and afterwards off to Old Chicago for dinner. All in all, a very pleasant Sunday. 🙂

1 Bryon arrived before we were expecting anybody. And yes, I’m extra-specially lazy on the weekend; so if I’m not expecting company I will hang around the apartment without getting myself up and ready for the day.
2 That would be Quincy for those that are curious.
3 Another friend of ours. One who was supposed to be at the Pampered Chef party.
4 Ah, breakfast at 3pm….