Mas tequila!

by Michael Alderete on 10/17/2006 · 5 comments

It’s not quite the haul from our original trip, but we did manage to bring back a dozen bottles of fine tequila on our trip to Julio and Liliana’s wedding in Arandas, Mexico:

The haul from Tequila Trip #2

Once again we had no breakage or theft, in spite of packing everything in our suitcases (because of the War On Moisture), including two bottles that cost more than $100 each…

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Tequila trails

by Michael Alderete on 12/20/2005

Two years ago, Rochelle and I were held captive during the imfamous Tequila Hostage Crisis of 2003. This month an article in the San Francisco Cronicle describes a local journalist’s experience on a similar trip.

Tequila trail leads to innovation gives some of the highlights, which we remember well, and alludes to the impact of the more intense moments of the trip (of which we remember little ;-), by describing the author’s regimen of no alcohol and lots of exercise for 10 days before the trip, and no activity at all for 3 days afterwards.

Entertaining and educational to read, there’s some good new tequila drink recipes as well. We will have to visit the local bartenders mentioned, and try them all out!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Back, catching up

by Michael Alderete on 11/4/2005

We’re back from Palm Springs, where we had a great time. The cats decided to let us live. We’re still digging out from under all the mail, voicemail, and email that piled up. Should get caught up by Monday.

We didn’t do nearly as much as we’d have liked to accomplish on our various projects, but that just means we had a good time. This assertion is supported by some of the debris we left behind in the room, our empties, mostly champagne and vodka bottles…

Our empties...

Since getting back I’ve had my birthday. We went out for three straight nights, once for my birthday, once to someone’s Halloween party, and once to someone else’s birthday gathering. At least for me, the most fun was on Friday at Tres Agaves, which just opened last week. (Highly recommended, even though they are struggling under the load of instant success.) We started with drinks in the (packed) bar, and then moved to dinner. Where it turned out there was yet another birthday going on at the table next to us, except the ladies dressed up in theme. It was destiny that we would meet:

Apparently I had a good time at my birthday dinner...

No wonder we still haven’t unpacked completely! Anyway, if you’ve been waiting for a phone call or email, we should be back to normal after this weekend. Talk to you soon.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Palm Springs!

by Michael Alderete on 10/12/2005

Rochelle and I are currently in Palm Springs, on vacation for two weeks. So far we have done very little except eat and drink and sleep and…play Scrabble.

I don’t usually talk about our vacations on this weblog while we’re away, because I’m too paranoid: I don’t like telling people when it would be easy to break into our house. But this trip, we’ve taken the most valuable (to thieves) stuff (our computers) with us. (Plus we have house sitters for most of the two weeks. House sitters keep the cats from revolting while we’re away…)

Rochelle and I both have projects we’re working on during our two week “retreat,” and most of them involve or require the use of a computer. Sounds crazy, but it really is relaxing to be able to go away, and concentrate on things you’ve been meaning to do, but can’t find the time, or have too many daily distractions. And the things we’ve been meaning to do — writing, organizing photos, leaning new skills for work — are all intimately tied to technology. Welcome to the 21st century, I suppose.

At any rate, we’ll be back to San Francisco in a week or so.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Fire & Knives

by Michael Alderete on 5/17/2005

I was just referred to the Fire & Knives cooking and food site with the “recommendation” that “Here’s a nice little food site that is snobbier than youse guys…” I decided it was a keeper when I laughed out loud at this description of wonder bread in a new shape:

Cunning bakers have responded, not with an authentic baguette but with a preservative-laden, turd-shaped travesty called — with callous humour — a French Stick. It’s exactly the same rubbish they extrude into white loaves but delivered in a staggeringly inconvenient shape. Trying to eat a sandwich made with one is like trying to fellate a torpedo.

Read the rest of this entry (286 words) »

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

2004 in review

by Michael Alderete on 1/13/2005

2004 was a decent year for us, and as always (at least since I started this weblog), I like to take a few moments to reflect on some of the important things that happened.

For me, the thing that dominated the year was my new “job” as a consultant. I’d done some consulting before, but in 2004 I managed to string together almost an entire year of work. Mostly half-time, so it wasn’t quite the income I would have liked, but I was able to pay the bills, and that’s pretty amazing. Really, all the credit goes to my primary client, Nicely Done Solutions, where the majority of my work comes from. They’ve kept me busy, and I hope to keep doing work through them for some time.

That dominated my day-to-day, but my biggest accomplishment in 2004 was my five year wedding anniversary with Rochelle. We have many more of those in our future, if we can both resist the temptation of butter.

Read the rest of this entry (1,291 words) »

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

The Paris spreadsheet

by Michael Alderete on 1/2/2005

Mentioned in the lead paragraph of that NYTimes article is the spreadsheet which Rochelle put together prior to our trip to France in 2002. Since publication we’ve actually had people inquire about getting access to it, so I thought I’d put it online. If you’re impatient, you can find a download link toward the end of this story. But some background will help you make the most of it.

Rochelle created the spreadsheet in an attempt to duplicate the really amazing experience she had using Vindigo on her Palm handheld when visiting New York City in May 2002. She did a lot of pre-trip research, and entered addresses and venues of interest into Vindigo. Then, while in NYC, she was able to tell Vindigo where she was, and get a list of places within walking distance, along with step-by-step directions for getting there. It made her touring the city (while I was locked in business meetings) efficient and fun, while still allowing for serendipity to influence where she went.

However, there is no Vindigo for Paris, or for any city in France. So we set out to try to duplicate the most essential features, by tying every location of interest to the nearest Metro stop and its arrondissement. We thought that this would let us figure out where we were, and then find interesting places nearby. In the end, it was only partially successful for us.

We had the most fun when we used it at the beginning and middle of the day, during breakfast and lunch, to plan where we would spend the rest of the morning or afternoon. When we tried to use it to follow whim after whim, which Vindigo had done successfully, we ended up pretty frustrated.

The other thing that didn’t work out the way we envisioned was the Palm version of the spreadsheet. We managed to download the data into Rochelle’s Palm, and use a micro database called JFile to be able to search and sort it, etc. But without a lot of additional development, having just the table of data was simply too hard to use on a Palm screen, it’s just not wide enough. With a search engine, hand-crafted results and detail pages, cross references, etc., the electronic version could have been pretty good…but even if I had put 20 hours into it, it would still have been nowhere near as good as Vindigo.

In the end, the printout of the spreadsheet was a tremendously valuable tool for us, and we’d never have seen as many cool places without it. And even if Vindigo had covered Paris, we’d still have wanted to pore through all the guidebooks and websites that Rochelle found. We would never have depended on Vindigo’s content. But having Vindigo to organize our own content by precise location, instead of rough chunks, would have been pretty darn cool.

Anyway, the spreadsheet was put together prior to our trip to France in October 2002; some things are now surely out of date. We’ve made no attempt to clean up Rochelle’s unique annotations and categorizations (Rochelle is an information organization specialist), which will likely be meaningless to you. And you don’t get our copies of the guidebooks, where were marked up and bookmarked with color-coded flags, and cross-referenced in the spreadsheet; we used those constantly, too. But if you still think it might be useful to you, here’s the spreadsheet.

Last note: this only covers half our trip, the time we spent in Paris. We also spent a lot of time in the Champagne region. We didn’t make a spreadsheet for that part of the trip, which (except for our first hotel and one meal) was entirely unscripted. Instead some photos and some weblog entries may give you some useful information about that.

Enjoy France!

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Quoted in New York Times

by Michael Alderete on 1/2/2005

Rochelle and I were quoted in the New York Times again, this time in the travel section, an article about people who base their vacations around food, so-called “gastronauts.” It’s a fun article to read; better do so quickly, before the story disappears behind the for-pay firewall.

It looks like the story might have gotten chopped up a bit in editing, because I am a San Francisco-based software developer, not LA-based. And, while the Klausners may also have done so, I know we told the reporter about our trip to Chicago to eat at Charlie Trotter’s, which turned into a week-long eating binge though much of Chicago’s best-rated food establishments. (Our vacation eating focus is much less high-end these days.)

If I was going to offer once piece of advice to other food enthusiasts who were going to plan a vacation around that passion it would be this: walk everywhere you can. There’s no way you can put everything of interest in a spreadsheet before you get on the plane; walking will take you past things you could not possibly have planned for. And if nothing else, it’ll keep you from gaining too much weight while you’re eating your way through the local food scene.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Opal Divine’s is divine

November 24, 2004

Austin is a great city. One of my favorite things there is Opal Divine’s Freehouse.

Read the full article →

Miserable flight

November 24, 2004

We flew to Austin for Thanksgiving with Rochelle’s family today. The flight sucked, due to horrible passengers.

Read the full article →

The soul of champagne

November 13, 2003

Two years ago, Rochelle and I attended a champagne tasting held at Absinthe, and hosted by Terry Theise, a specialty wine importer. He introduced us to “grower producers,” or, champagnes made by the same people who grow the grapes. It was eye opening, and we immediately decided our next big vacation would be to the Champagne region of France.

Read the full article →

Tequila Hostage Crisis 2003

October 28, 2003

Rochelle and I just returned from 11 days touring the tequila region. We went with a group of like-minded tequila enthusiasts, and were lead by the manager of the bar at Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant. In the five official days of the tour we visited eight different tequila fabricas, were treated to the finest hospitality Rochelle and I have ever enjoyed, and drank an average of two bottles of tequila per person per day. My liver hurts.

Read the full article →