Thursday, May 29, 2008

Spam in the news, again

MY DAD LOVES SPAM, WEARS A STYLISH HAT AND IS PROUD OF BOTH. Plus, he holds me on his lap, while we sing this song together

As food costs rise, price concious consumers turn to Spam. link here Now, how about those among us who enjoy Spam. It's safe, tasty, and comes with it's own sauce. I was actually planning "hot and spicy Spam" with fried rice for dinner tomorrow night. Now I'm rethinking my whole strategy. Am I a price concious consumer? Not too damn likely. I dine on Caviar at least twice a week and have been known to pay two dollars for a loaf of bread when I could pick up a perfectly fine loaf for eighty cents. I like Spam and don't mind serving it to guests. Only problem is my dear wife likes it as much as I do and so I'm forced to dig in the back of the fridge for the odd jar of Caviar for the drop in guest. In all honesty though, spam runs close to four dollars a can here, while six ounces of decent caviar clocks in at a cool two-fitfy. But hey, lets not count pennies when it comes to the joyful sound of a spam can or caviar lid popping open.
Yeah, I know this isn't a spam dish, but Tamara's colorful pasta dish could stand up to Spam. I'm standing up for my right to enjoy Spam and encourage all Spam fans to do the same. WalMart shoppers or not. We're in this together. Uphold the proud Spam name and send me a bumper sticker while you are at it. Peace to all.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

what a day

Woke up to the squishy sounds of cars passing by on wet pavement outside my window. Arose to find the wetness to be of the white variety. Four days from June and we have an inch of snow? Not much improvement as the day went along. To think, Sunday we were gallivanting about town in shorts and t-shirts. Nothing about spring in Mongolia will surprise me again.

I've been reading an interesting book "Dateline Mongolia" by a Micheal Krouhn (I'll have to check the spelling) Fascinating read, it was left behind by Captain Tom, soon to be in Saipan. I've been savoring this one, as his tales of life as editor of the Mongol Messenger are a fascinating insight into life here during the nineties. I'll post some excerpts over the weekend, but I'm away from the office for the moment and the Pumpkin is no doubt turning the pages in my absence.

Oh the humanity of it all. I just checked the WWII entry for the week at Deece's blog and totally blew the answer in my frantic rush for five points. I would have called the missus, as she quessed correctly, but in my blind attempt to post the winning comment, I overlooked the bleeding obvious. Bless dear Erdene's heart, I'm already forgiven. Next time, though she says it's ok to interrupt the lad's nap for such an important event. Nice job, Deece. I'm officially suckered.

In UB news, not much. Pumpkin played construction superintendent at the doctor's latest project on Saturday.

The lad and I enjoyed the company and the tools while Mom was off picking up her lovely cashmere dress. Pictures at 10:00 or when the camera returns home. Lovely dress though.

Goodnight, Dick. The last of the "Rowan and Martin" headliners departed this mortal coil over the weekend. Thanks for the laughs,Dick. Reviewing the highlight clips, brought back some of my favorite memories. I'm not entirely sure, but I think my mom was watching "laugh in" when she returned from the kitchen and put one of her knitting needles through her calf as she sat back down. Gotta to love a show like that.

Sunday, we ventured out for a day of shoe shopping in the city center. Success all around. The lad picked up a new pair of felt house slippers and a fine looking set of Buster Browns. He's discovered the joys of the vertical dimension and is managing stairs quite well on my own, thank you very much.

The picture doesn't show the sheer escesty in his face, but he found the twin fish tanks at the Ikh Mongol restaurant to be most exciting. Left side, fish. Right side, fish. Left, right, left, right....

Not a lot in food news. I chickened out on making Deece's white omelet, but I'll give it a shot this week. We Did have a fine smoked salmon and cheese omelet with caviar on the side. Caviar was a nice touch and the salt shaker was left in the cupboard. Elegance at home for three bucks a jar. Erdene created a korean version of a Mongolia classic noodles, vegetable, and mutton dish last night. My contribution is beanie weanies tonight, but we're grilling on the porch tomorrow. pmpkn gnawed succesfully on his first authorized mutton rib last night, so he'll be up for it.

In Germany the annual bbque championships were held. Some great pics
HERE one of these days, computers will feature smell surround, but I unpacked our grill this weekend in (somewhat early) anticipation of grilling season. In the small world catagory, I was reading Nancy Reye's blog from the phillipeans and ran across a post featuring a young lady who made her prom dress from Wrigly gum wrappers. She's from my old high school and I think her dad was in one of my brother's class. Too strange, but "the lionness from Luzon" has regular links to awesome crafts as well as a well-centered world view (IMHO).

I've been slack posting, but I did manage a couple of verbose replies
to an internet entrepreneur interested in relocating to Saipan. Seems like the sort who will like the island and maybe even contribute. Anyhow, I enjoyed bringing my recollections of Saipan to someone else. I'll have to ask for permission, but maybe a future post.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

four wheels

Just trying out some picture posting this thursday afternoon in Mongolia. Such aggro. We found some dried cranberries at the American Store for a tasty stuffed chicken, however, all of a sudden whole chickens are unavailable here. argg..To make it worse I found some canned oysters and liquid smoke, so we are out a two different types of tasty stuffings. Now I need two chickens and can't find one. Patience is a virtue, right? My back up plan came to fruition however and I made Tami's pasta with fish and vegetables. Canned spicy tuna went well with olives and blue cheese in oil, poppy seed dressing was an awesome alternative to the orginal. Reminds me, I used to make a pretty good side for pig roasts consisting of sliced peppers and onions in a honey mustard/poppy seed dressing. Maybe blogger will cooperate and I can link to Tamara's original post along with a picture of our finished dish, but probably not.. At least the lights are on today. Speaking of; construction has resumed after a long layoff in UB, cranes are working, concrete being poured and I nearly missed rear ending a semi loaded with rebar last night. Ah! Progress.
Me and the lads (older) out for an afternoon's walk about town. By the way, it is illegal to drink on the street here. But not in the parking lot behind the Captain's apartment. Pmpkn is enjoying his new push car, although, we've cut back on his outings, until the hand, foot, and mouth outbreak either goes away or takes on panademic proportions.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Here’s to all the mom’s out there, but most especially mine and the Pmpkn’s. The two lovely ladies to my Mom's left are my sister Amy and her stalwart and inventive daughter Camille. Truly it is hard for a male to imagine all that goes into motherhood. The best of the sons and dads can only try to make this day special. I have it somewhat easy as Mongolian Women’s Day was only a month ago and allowed me some practice. I was hoping to take Erdene out for dinner in her new cashmere dress, but the tailor is having some trouble getting the fit right. Here is an interesting tact for any seamstresses out there. When Erdene went to pick up her dress this past week, she found the fit to be a little loose. The shop lady’s response to her failure was to tell the missus she must have lost weight between the initial fitting and the day of pickup. You can never go wrong telling a woman she has lost weight. That excuse didn’t fare so well on the second failure, however. Yesterday, Erdene ventured to the factory for a proper fitting by one of their more experienced dressmakers so we should be in good shape for the final unveiling this week. No biggee, I’m cooking my traditional breakfast for the familia today which should suffice. Corned beef hash (canned, but that’s another story), omelets or fried egg, sausage, smoked herring, pancakes, and toast with the last of our blueberry jam. That should be enough.

I had the realization this week, perhaps an ephinany, that I might be living a greener life than my mom. Of course, she is a force multiplier in that she encourages others (particularly, her children) to be as green as possible. However, I use a sturdy knapsack and bean bag for as much shopping as I can, I do use what shopping bags I gather as trash bags, I don’t drive a big honking suv or even my moms sturdy and efficient Camry as we rely on our feet and the odd taxi. I don’t mulch my kitchen waste, although bones and old bread do make it out to the dogs and birds. Like everyone in UB, we recycle our plastics and bottles, brother Amara is fairly eunthestatic on this task as he uses the proceeds for his dates and bus rides. Speaking of which, I should ask him for a tutorial on public transportation as I'm right at sea on which bus goes where and would probably end up in the ger districts should I blindly venture out on the bus. All in all, I think I’m living up to my mom’s standards as best I can and that is all I can muster as a Mothers day present this year. I do yearn for the day when I can take a picture of my mom and Erdene together, but this year it will have to be separate snaps.

Our Saturday in UB was blessed by sunny skies and while the temperature was a bit fall like, it wasn’t at all uncomfortable. Pumpkin and I enjoyed a morning together, the internet was out, but we made do with slide shows of baby pictures accompanied by the lad’s favorite Bach for Little Ones CD. He’s feeling well these days, although tooth number eleven is causing some small amount of grumbiness on occasion. We all went out for dinner in honor of his passing the eighteen month milestone this past week. Yes, Boni he is growing up fast and I hope to feel the same joy and pride for him one day, as you must for Tony Jr’s accomplishments. The pumpkin returned the favor of dinner out with an accomplishment of his own. He actually played happily with a child his own age for once. I’m not sure if it is only child syndrome or the isolation of the winter, but he is generally oblivious of kids his own age in favor of older boys. He seems to be totally ignorant or shy of women which baffles me and his mom, but so it goes. We had a fun time at dinner watching the two boys cavort around the resteraunt. Our friend Tom the Captain was with us and he and Erdene enjoyed a peaceable meal while the other lad’s mother and myself corralled the miscreants when necessary. I didn’t mind eating on the run as the curiosity of the boys was a pleasure to observe.

Anyway, I was talking about Saturday. I met up with the Doctor for a little computer time. We wrote a test together for his sixth grade history class. I enjoyed it, as he has a wealth of experience teaching middle schoolers and my memories are a bit hazy. When asked to contribute I was either a bit off the wall or proposed a question more suitable for a high schooler, but we had some fun. Tom joined us and Erdene dropped the lad off while she went for her hopefully final fitting and a good time was had by all at the Khakorum resteraunt at the Grand Khan Kempinski hotel, although the manager, doorman, and trusty Tom had their work cut out for them with the inquisitive pumpkin. Erdene returned in time for tea and dessert and she, Tom, the lad, and I journeyed in search of a fabled western goods store in our neighborhood. Thanks to my bosses wife for steering us in the right direction and due toTom’s keen eyesight we found the holy of holies. Beef jerky, Gerber baby food, and even Mollasess at the appropriately named “American Shop” After dropping our booty, babe, and mother at the apartment, Tom and I beat feet for the sausage and corned beef shop run by George the butcher. Unfortunately, we failed as I was distracted by a side search for a placed called the Hawaian burger shop in the university district and we missed the narrow alley way leading to Georges. It is not easy to find places here, even on the second try. George is located well off the main drag, up a narrow alleyway, around a blind corner, and in the basement of an English language school, most of these places are without much signage and a certain fatalism is involved in most shopping trips here. I don’t call them expeditions for nothing. Tom and I did find Dave the English publican to be in business after a lengthy lay off and enjoyed several pints of his excellent dark larger along with his company. And that was the day that was in UB.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Blog for the week

Wonderful week here in Mongolia. We have thrown off the shackles of winter and are heading full throttle into spring. Our friend, Tom the Captain, has been in UB all week and Erdene and I have been monopolizing his time, while getting out and about with his company on our own accord. Tom, Erdene, and the lad visited the Bogd Kahn museum earlier in the week while I was at work and enjoyed themselves. The Bogd Kahn was the last king/khan of Mongolia and the museum occupies the site of his winter palace. I have yet to visit, but Erdene says she won’t mind seeing it again and apparently the pmpkn was enthralled, so he presumably won’t mind either. One of Erdene’s girlfriends from Saipan is also visiting in UB and we all managed lunch together at a kick ass tourist village/resort a few miles to the northeast of UB. The name of the joint is the "Hotel Mongolia" which leads me to think of rewriting the Eagles classic. The food was great, surroundings also. We passed a shooting range on the way to lunch and our driver professed a willingness (nay, a fervent desire) to accompany Tom and I for a little shootem up on a later date. These aren’t your mother’s shooting ranges either; we are talking crew served medium machine guns, full-auto AK-47’s, and RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launchers. Eighty dollars a pop for the RPG’s, but you only go around once. They have pistols and skeet too, if our shoulders become tired. Yeah, you could say I’m looking forward to this excursion.

Honestly, the weather has been a bit sucky the last few days. Cold and wind are more common than fine sunny days, but we aren’t frozen solid most of the day. Mornings are the best time and Pmpkn and I have been making the best of the available time. I enjoyed an interesting meteorological phenomena Monday evening. Upon leaving Tom and the Doctor at the Casablanca, a local watering hole fashionable with the engineering boot crowd, I saw dark storm clouds hovering over my end of town. I expected to be drenched running from cab to front door, but no rain just clouds and that sort of heavy presence of a gathering storm. After I had been home for a bit of the old hug and tickle with the familia, I noticed a premature darkening of the sky. Venturing to my deck I saw visibility was down to a few blocks in what I assumed was a driving rain, after opening the window I found it to be a dry and gritty rain. Sandstorm of the first order. Lesson being, don’t assume anything here. Had the same thing happen this past evening. My taxi driver suggested rain to follow. He was half right. We had an inch of snow the next morning. So it goes. Today, Saturday, is crisp, but clear.

Going out for dinner is in fashion this month with my schedule and the visitors. We have discovered a couple more fine dining places in UB. Our standards revolve around both the quality of the food and toddler safety criteria. Our old favorite; City Nomads has received a failing grade in the second category, due to the single swinging door for the kitchen. Hard on the lad’s noggin and the staff’s peace of mind. Their food is still top notch. The Sakura restaurant on the second floor of the Khan Palace Hotel has moved into tie for first with the basement of the Silk Road downtown. The Khan Palace has already received a high rating due to the awesome service and downright companionable demeanor of the staff, but the sakura offers great Sushi with close private rooms which entertain and contain the pumpkin. Silk Road basement shares the fine food of the first and second floor, but is furnished in a style out of “Arabian Nights” with flickering faux fireplaces set among soft couches and plush carpeting. I think once the novelty of the surroundings wear off, pumpkin will nap on the floor with a soft pillow or couch while Erdene and I enjoy the soft ambiance and superb food. Now, if I can just convince E. to feed me grapes while I’m lying back on a pillow, I will have lived my dream of living the Sultan’s life.

Tomorrow is Cashmere dress day for the missus. We are considering dinner out to celebrate her finery, should we procure a baby sitter. You reading this, Amara?? Hie thee to the house, soonest.