fighting the lack of good ideas

whale farming

Some people think I have too much free time on my hands.

Last night during Good Eats I made a comment about whales. Specifically, why don’t we farm them?

We farm catfish, salmon, tilapia, alligators, deer, bison, shrimp, and more. So why not whales? Obviously, some varieties would take a lot of room… but how about beluga whales? Or some other small-to-medium species?

In the heyday of whaling, [almost] nothing of the animal was wasted, and certainly that would be the case if we started growing them intentionally.

It’s an idea.

the pub and grille

My family moved into Cohoes in 1993. Shortly after moving in, we noticed a small pub up the road and have threatened to go eat there ever since.

Monday night we finally did. Admittedly, it wasn’t our first choice – we had been planning to hit-up another local place in Cohoes recommended to us by the Sunday bar tender at Uno’s in Latham, but The Pub and Grille was open – and we were hungry.

It’s gone a by a few names in the past, perhaps most famously “Maggie’s”. One surprising thing my parents, sister, and I noticed on entry was how small it is inside. Officially it can hold 35 people.

After taking a moderately long walk in the very windy and chilly weather to find Joe’s closed, and then walking back towards the house we arrived at 201 Columbia St around 8 in the evening. There were maybe five customers other than us – but it being a Monday night, that wasn’t surprising. We found a table in the back, and Kim scurried out from behind the bar to hand us menus, silverware, and take our drink orders.

The menu is simple – I like that in a pub. While it does use both sides of the laminated sheet of paper, the font is large, easily readable, and offers about a dozen items.

My sister ordered their mild wings, which she was very happy with. My mom, dad, and I all ordered burgers. We also got their smothered cheese fries to share, and I got an order of chicken tenders in their atomic sauce to both have there and bring home for later. The only goof in the order was with my dad’s burger, which didn’t have the cheese or bacon he’d requested, but did have onions which he hadn’t. However, Kim got that fixed in just a couple minutes, and we were back to enjoying our respective meals.

Currently their beer selection is pretty limited – Sam Adams, Bud, and something else on tap, and a couple in bottles. However, as good fortune would have it, Monday also saw a local beer distributor showing up for a small staff tasting and discussion of craft beers.

We sat around visiting, eating, and just generally enjoying the evening for about an hour and a half before my parents and sister decided to head the 4 blocks back to their house.

Meanwhile, because I wanted to stay and have a couple more drinks,  I introduced myself to the group sampling the various craft beers that had been brought by the distributor, and was invited to take part – yahoo! free beer!

Available for tasting for a strawberry brew (way too sweet in my book, but similar to a Lindeman’s Cassis or Framboise for consistency), various hoppy ales, a couple browns, and a black – among others I don’t recall now. The best part of trying small samples of the different beers brought wasn’t, in fact, that they were free, but that most were made in the general vicinity – ie, the northeast and mid-Atlantic states. I’m a sucker for local brews when they’re available.

The Pub and Grille doesn’t have a set closing time, per se. It might be as early as 11p, or as late 3:30a – it depends on how many folks are there wanting to buy beverages. A little before 11 Monday night, Kim was about to make a last call to the bar when three new folks sauntered-in. Never one to pass-up a customer, the place ended being open till nearly 1:30.

For beer heads, the Pub and Grille isn’t yet a place to go for a good selection of brews, but it will be in a couple weeks as they add a whole series of craft brews to the menu.

If you’re looking for a nice, small, friendly place to hang out, has good food, and good atmosphere (literally – this is NY state were talking about), especially if you want to be able to walk home if you’ve maybe had one too many, this place should make the list of anybody in Cohoes.

eating out, but well

I’ve been back home for a few days, and have been introduced to several more good local eateries, which will have write-ups coming shortly.

My sister pointed me to one of her favorites in Cohoes, Bread and Jam, and she’ll be “guest blogging” that post.

oh no! more information! stop it!

As reported here, authorities in Sydney claim that by having the “blacklist” leaked, it will ‘”the concerned parent’s worst nightmare” as curious children would inevitably seek it out.’.

Oh come on! Kids can find anything they want anyways. I certainly could when I was younger – and it didn’t require the internet. Encyclopedias, libraries, talking to people. The list goes on and on.

Back to the article, ” half of the sites on the list are not related to child porn and include a slew of online poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.”

Fortunately there is [some] sanity in Australia, though – ‘”The Australian democracy must not be permitted to sleep with this loaded gun. This week saw Australia joining China and the United Arab Emirates as the only countries censoring Wikileaks.”‘

For such an otherwise [mostly] pro-democracy nation, Australia really bolloxed it up here.

‘”Adult supervision is the most effective way of keeping children safe online and people shouldn’t be led into believing by Labor that expanded blacklists or mandatory filters are a substitute for that.”‘ Right. That makes sense, and always applies.

On a related note, it’s funny that they compare the blacklist to a loaded gun, since fireams are [effectively] banned in the country, too. And like banning information, banning guns hasn’t dropped the crime rate – criminals still have them.

The piece de resistance, though, is this quote, “No one interested in cyber safety would condone the leaking of this list.” Huh? The list has nothing to do with “cyber safety”. It’s an attempt to control information, and a poor one at that. Blocking 2500 sites does nothing to the other 38 million “unsavory” ones out there.

Remind me to not move to Australia.

guess it’s good this server is in the united states

Because this link to wikileaks would be illegal in Australia.

That’s right – if you operate a website in Australia, just linking to a banned site will cost you $11k per day.


Mr Australia government guy… you’re banning domains? What happens when folks copy data from places like to their own sites? Or other domains? Or change the domain name? Or refuse to pay the fine?

Just curious.

hong kong

I’ve been in Hong Kong since 2000 local time last Saturday for a client engagement. It’s been a great trip so far – meeting the Hong Kong team, touring parts of the city, and browsing the open markets (there are more markets here than I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve been to a bunch of cities).

The trip started at 0900 local time in Durham when I headed to RDU for my connecting flight to EWR. A couple hours later I was in the air with my customer counterpart from the US team who was going to Hong Kong to assist/watch/interpret for the week. Hong Kong is UTC+8, so right now it’s a little after midnight Friday 6 Mar on the east coast while it’s about 1525 as I write this in Hong Kong.

The flight from EWR to HKG was nonstop on a Boeing 777 – 16 hours in the air. We flew up and over the top of globe, flying over Greenland (though you couldn’t see it since it was night by the time we got over it), then over the Arctic Ice Pack, Siberia, Mongolia, the Great Wall, the entire ‘height’ of China, and finally into Hong Kong. That’s a long flight. A really long flight. But the views (during daylight which happened shortly after crossing the North Pole – very weird) were awesome. The vast whiteness of the Arctic were gorgeous, and the snow-covered mountains and plains of Siberia were so bright, sunglasses were required. Sadly, I fell asleep somewhere over central Mongolia, so I missed seeing Ulanbataar, the Great Wall, and any part of China during the daylight. Oh well.

Hong Kong’s public transit system is very efficient – I utilized the MTR (underground/subway), buses, and taxis all week, and found them to be refreshingly pleasant (the drivers are a little nuts (this coming from someone who thinks it’s normal to drive in Manhattan), but there are hardly any traffic jams).

Our hotel, Langham Place in Mongkok, is a full-service, 5-star hotel and is very convenient to the customer’s office, the Mongkok MTR station, malls, and street markets.

On Sunday, Cary and I went to the peak on the Peak Tram on Hong Kong Island – boy was that ride steep: parts of it approach 40 degrees! When we got to the top, though, it was so cloudy we couldn’t see more than a few dozen yards. It made the whole view very mysterious, though, as we walked around the paths at the top – almost like the feeling you have in a dream where you think you’re falling and can’t see anything, except we could see the pavement we were walking on 🙂

Later we meandered through more of the Island, visiting the Man Mo Temple and seeing open markets. The we rode the MTR over to the Museum of Coastal Defence, inspecting the redoubt, equipment, and history of defending Hong Kong going back to the 14th century.

For dinner we took the bus to Aberdeen, then the free ferry out to Jumbo floating restaurant where we nearly passed-out at the first dinner choice. It was a $15000 (HK) fish! Even with the current exchange rate of ~7.5:1 HKD:USD, that’s an expensive fish! Fortunately, later in the menu we found options that were far more reasonable – on the order of a couple hundred HKD.

My dad was here when he was in the US Navy in the early 1970s, and he asked me to go to a couple places while I was here. One of those was Jimmy’s Kitchen. I went there Tuesday night with Cary, and we enjoyed a classic [Western] dinner after seeing the nightly light show done between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. And how many times will you be able to say this in your life? I stood on Jackie Chan!

Ok, ok. So it was on the walk of stars. But hey! I still was faster than Jackie Chan Tuesday night 😉

Throughout the week, I’ve eaten at the hotel, local shops, the food court in the mall next to the office, and, of course, McDonald’s. The menu is different here, but has some familiar entries like the Egg McMuffin.

All-in-all, this has been both a remarkably productive, and entertaining week. Hong Kong is remarkably clean, with very little litter visible – at least where I’ve been. Most people seem to be polite and friendly, though I suppose it might be an artifact of my being a tourist, I’ve gotten the feeling that it’s actually how they are, that it’s not just for show.

This trip has been an experience I won’t soon forget, and hope to come back again before too long 🙂