Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Archive for August 2010

Roadwork challenge

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So, I have accepted my colleague Takashi-san’s challenge of living like a boxer this week, at least in terms of getting up early in the morning to do roadwork (AKA running).¬† To be fair, I don’t believe that he actually articulated this challenge; in all likelihood, I came up with it myself and then accepted his unspoken challenge. But history is written by the victors, so petty details like that won’t matter in the long run.

Suitable picture blatantly stolen from Google image search.

The conditions are that I will get up at dawn each day this week and run to work. It’s quite 3 miles, so the distance isn’t too bad even for a non-runner like me, but the fact that it’s hilly and that I have to carry my backpack full of clothes and stuff makes it something of an ordeal. As of day 1, though, I’m optimistic. The challenge might actually be upgraded to running home as well, given that I have no car here now. And I’m taking the chance to try a variation on my intermittent fasting regime, putting an eating window in the middle of the day (7 to 19) instead of making it calendar days, since, yeah, I’d get pretty darn hungry running twice a day on an empty stomach. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Update 1: Day 1 wasn’t too bad. The run back was actually easier, but then I didn’t have my backpack. I have realized, however, that a 12 hour eating window in the middle of the day isn’t intermittent fasting at all, more like regular eating! So the new plan is only breakfast on fasting days, after I arrive at work; that way there’s a 24 hour period until eating breakfast on eating days, but I won’t be completely starved for the runs. Maybe not completely strict IF, but worth a try.

Update 2: Failure! Everything was going well, until my phone ran out of battery and neglected to wake me up this morning. So I didn’t get up until quarter to nine, and thus failed the challenge ūüė¶ I’ve decided to do keep it up for the rest of the week in any case, though.

Written by Martin

2010/08/30 at 08:18

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Everything is bigger in America

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I brought the bottle on the left with me from Sweden when I first arrived here. Note how it says “jumbo pack”. I’m starting to run out though, so I went to get a new bottle, shown on the right. Since I’ve only got a couple of months left over here, I opted for the small version. And yet, it’s 33% bigger than the Swedish jump pack. Draw your own conclusions…

Written by Martin

2010/08/26 at 20:15

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Experimenting

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I like to tinker, even with food. And I’m usually brave/foolhardy enough to try anything. Here are some results from my experimenting over here:

Surprisingly good combinations:

  • Smoked sturgeon on humus. Should also work for mackerel, herring and whatnot.
  • Crunchy granola in koldsk√•l. Not as good as kammerjunkere though.
  • Honey on cream cheese. (even better with a few chopped nuts.
  • Apple butter and strongish cheese. On bread or perhaps otherwise.
  • Sour cream and spicy salsa as dressing on steamed vegetables.
  • Salted almonds and dried cranberries. Props to Morten for this one.

Less  successful experiments:

  • Soy milk on cereal. Milk is too rich.
  • Mini oreos in koldsk√•l. Blend of flavors is just bad.
  • Brown sugar on nattou. Though it’s not much worse than the plain variety.
  • Most toppings on blueberry bagels. The sweetish blueberries just clash with things like cream cheese and onion or smoked salmon, and are overpowered by anything sweet.
  • Watermelon in my tropical-themed porridge. Banana, mango and coconut flakes were good, but the crispiness and water content of the watermelon just clashed.
  • Silkworm pupae in wontons. For presumably obvious reasons.

Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Written by Martin

2010/08/24 at 19:19

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Blue Moon

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There’s a brunch place in Baltimore that ALWAYS has a line of people waiting outside. ¬†We’d been by a couple of times on lazy weekend mornings, but have invariably been told that it would be an hour’s wait. Naturally this would pique our interest (as many establishments are of course aware), so I concocted a clever plan for gaining entry to this eatery.

I usually wake up earlier than planned on eating days, presumably due to hunger. Yesterday was no exception, and so after  my morning routine I sauntered down to the Blue Moon Cafe and put us on the waiting list; as usual the wait was about an hour, and the chatter of my fellow queuers occasionally distracted me from Moby-Dick.

Two thirds of the Mystery Men brunch

The place was small but characterful. A little noisy, and a bit of wait to get the food, but on the other hand not too expensive. We ended up going hogwild and spending $30 apiece, but fifteen dollars would net you a hefty breakfast and as much coffee as you could guzzle. As for the food, it was definitely pretty good. Above average to be sure, though in the final analysis not really worth waiting an hour and a half for. Big portions of mostly typical brunch food, but with some nice variations. Our picks were:

Me: Sausage gravy (Minced sausage in gravy), spicy salsa, eggs and cheddar on (pointless) tortilla wraps, with "hash browns" on the side. More of a giant potato pancake, by my estimation.

Morten: Eggs Benedict, with the same "hash brown" side.

Pete: Eggs, crabmeat and tomato in Hollandaise sauce, stacked on top of the familiar hash browns.

I can only judge the huevos rancheros I had, which were great. Somehow the combination of eggs, chili-esque sausage gravy and spicy salsa just worked. Regular¬†hash browns¬†would have been better though, as the pancake ended up nice on the outside but mushy in the middle. ¬†The others were quite pleased with their choices as well, however. Aside from these “mains”, we picked a couple of extras to share.

Plain old buttermilk pancakes (syrup not shown)

Their trademark Cap'n Crunch French Toast

The pancakes were nothing special, same as anywhere else. And the syrup wasn’t real maple syrup (perhaps because of the amount needed to suffuse the huge pancakes). The chocolate chip variety would have been better. The¬†French¬†toast was pretty good though. It was basically very thick slices of French toast encrusted in Cap’n Crunch cereal, which made it sweet and crunchy. It was topped with some fruit, and the monstrosity that passes for whipped cream in this country. Not bad, though thinner slices would have been better; as it was, the crunchiness was brief, and the bready interior needed syrup to be interesting.

Mind you, each of these dishes was an American sized platter, easily constituting a full meal. Easily above 1500 kcals each, given their caloric density. On my part, I’d had nothing to eat for 36 hours, so I dug in for a while after the others had given up, and ended up eating about two thirds of the extras. In the end, though, the result was the same for each of us: Heat flashes, cold sweat, bellyache… a great need to relieve some tension around the midriff, and a distinct feeling of having just consumed the most unhealthy meal in recent memory.

Was it worth it? Hard to say.

Written by Martin

2010/08/22 at 21:24

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There once was a man from Nantucket

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Yesterday I returned from four days at a family reunion on Nantucket. Our ÔĽŅmultifarious activities included such adventures as eating, dip in the pool, watch a movie, go to the beach and some fishing; utterly relaxing, which was just what the doctor ordered right now.

Aside from that, Nantucket is a peculiar island. What was once the whaling capital of the world has since turned into an entirely laid back WASP vacation spot. Coming from Baltimore, the difference was readily apparent: no black people, very few fat people, no underwear showing but plenty of sunglasses. This was clearly a very tiny slice of the demographic pie, and the fact that every house on the island is covered in aged grey shingles just emphasizes that fact.

It certainly good as a relaxing holiday, but after a not very long period of time you realize that all the boutiques aren’t really that different from the malls here in Bmore. They all sell pretty much the same things, and though it was a bit more stylish and far pricier on the island, it wasn’t really any more interesting. I refrained from joining the crowds of young’uns rallying to the bars in the evenings, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they would show a similar trend.

An amusing observation was that nearly everyone there was in vacation mode, meaning that they all assumed that they had right of way (yes, the majority were driving cars despite the fact that the island covers less than 50 square miles). It also meant that all the young people were walking around trying to look cool, and as a result there was nobody stuck in their daily life to gaze in awe at the cool people. It seemed that half the inhabits were congregated on the single shopping street at any given time, which would have been annoying but for the fact that there wasn’t anything interesting there.

It was nice, but I’m a metropolitan at heart, and would have gone absolutely insane if I had to live in a place like that. Good thing I’m neither a Nantucketer or a well-to-do WASP, then. Enjoy the sunsets and be glad that real life will be there waiting for you back home.

Sunset at Jetties beach

Written by Martin

2010/08/18 at 22:56

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Chucks

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Converse.com: 20% off for back to school (wtf?), today only. And free shipping. May have just purchased 4 pairs. Update will follow on delivery.

Update 1: I was made aware that they didn’t like different shipping and billing addresses (in 8 separate emails, no less), meaning delays until I could sort that out yesterday. Stay tuned for more updates.

Update 2: The first batch have arrived! I’m still waiting for the Cat in the Hat ones, but as it turned out I did get a taste of Dr. Seuss this time around. I present to you:

Plain optical whites. Don’t I already have these? Yeah, kind of (although after a couple of raves they’re far from white at this point). But these new ones are for the upcoming road trip, where I will have all sorts of cool people I meet sign them, and thus create a dynamic souvenir.

The Who Union Jacks. Normally I don’t their fancy band-themed shoes, but these are pretty low-key; the only reference to The Who is pretty much hidden on the tongue, plus of any band, this isn’t a bad choice. As is they’re mostly a subtle variant on the straight blacks that I still haven’t gotten.

Grey Plaids, because who doesn’t love plaid? Not quite as cool as my current brown plaids, but I’m reluctant to wear those until I fix the rip that’s starting to develop. Plus black and white is more stylish, right?

And finally the bonus pair I got for no reason, Dr. Seuss Thing 2 All Stars. They’re size 6, so no chance of me wearing them. They’re alright, if not nearly as cool as the pending Cat in the Hat ones, but orange isn’t really my color anyway. I’ve already found a lucky recipient for them, though.

Update 3: The last pair have arrived! I present to you, the Cat in the Hat, on the shoe…

Très chic, n'est pas?

Written by Martin

2010/08/12 at 23:02

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Baltimore sights: The good, the bad and the ugly

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The National Bohemian sign at Brewer's Hill. That's Natty Boh up there on the building, and trust me, he's a landmark.

Power plant turned touristy shopping arcade, In the Inner Harbor area.

An unfortunate rodent in the ghetto where I went for my contact lens exam. Once again you'll have to trust me, it's highly Baltimore.

Written by Martin

2010/08/12 at 21:02

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