Monday, July 31, 2006

People like crap.

That is the only explanation I can come up with to account for the incredible popularity of chain restaurants. Sure, In-N-Out makes a pretty good cheese burger (as spoken by a struggling vegetarian), though I do remember them being even better when you had to drive a little to find one. Also, the farther you get from SoCal, the worse they are. But In-N-Out is not even a good example. Take Chevy's. Has anybody ever said: "Mmmn, I love Chevy's. Nobody makes better Tex-Mex". (Disclaimer: I have never actually been to Chevy's, so maybe they do make the best Tex-Mex).

I bring all this up because last night the missus, the missus's sister, the missus's sister's roomate, and I went to Romano's Macaroni Grill. The food was a little better than mediocre, and the service was horrible (waiting 45 minutes for the check felt like France). Many years ago, Nico and I ate at the original restaurant (in Columbus, OH, if memory serves). That place was quite good...and dare I say, original. It would have almost given me a reason to go back to Columbus...if I were ever in the near vicinity. But in Huntington Beach, it's just another restaurant serving large glasses of cheap wine. has earned an official hyperlink. Please loyal readers, try not overrun the stokefire servers.

Right on topic for this historic occasion: A mirror of the startup page at work this morning. Tate, perhaps you can explain why my company is inflicting this sort of thing upon us. Here's an excerpt from the "branding guide":

Through extensive research, we learned that customers want to do business with a company that has knowledge, that uses its knowledge and experience in innovative ways, and that has a commitment to achieving improved clinical and financial outcomes for its customers. This insight underscores the appropriateness of our brand
position. We measure outcomes and deliver results.

FYI the start page is usually used for really important stuff (like my 15 minutes of fame).

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Finally put the bike back together, and did a run to Dana Point and back (40 miles round trip). It's still hot out there, and if we had not had all the heat training in Europe, I am certain we would have stayed home.

Been trying to decide what I miss most about Europe. Here's what I have so far:

1) Raclette...there's a wiki for everything.
2) Fondue..absolutely everything.
3) Cars that don't honk everytime they pass a bicyle.

Can't do anything about #3...aside from arming Nico, so I just bought a raclette grill. I was going to buy a fondue set also, but I cannot decide between electric and some weird gel fuel. Electric seems much easier, but also seems somehow wrong. Anybody have a fondue opinion? First 6 people to respond will be invited over for fondue.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Complaint from a new reader: "I don't think starting off with concentration camps and pharmacies is a good idea if you want to raise that sweet sweet ad revenue from your site. Gonna need something happier than concentration camps and more mass appeal than pharmacies if you want to drive the necessary traffic to your site."

While I can no longer remember why I originally started, I do not believe it was for the ad revenue. However, I was a starving student at the time...and I see that I still have the "Donate to the boat fund" button over there, so maybe I am mistaken; maybe I am doing this for the ad revenue. Regardless, a bit more traffic would make the countless hours I spend typing this drivel a little more worthwhile.

But how to generate more traffic? I saw on the news that myspace is the most visited site on the web. Unfortunately, I am not a 14 year old girl, and therefore no nothing about myspace. Also, I do much of my blogging at work (yes, I'm stuck at work today), and the company feels the need to block the site.

I believe google is the second most popular site on the web. But google has not cached my site in over a year. So I am boycotting google. Also, I have no idea how I would translate google's success to my own page.

There is only one other thing I can think of that sells, so I will be borrowing a page from Tandem Porn!!!!
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I was also thinking of adding some stoker porn, but I have a feeling that might be vetoed.

P.S. If anybody else has any constructive criticism, you may want to consider placing it in the comments section (rather than emailing me)...that way it looks like your insightfulness is shaping public policy, or something.

P.P.S. If you have any tandem (or stoker) porn you would like me to post, feel free to send that via email.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

We were told that 10,000 Jews died building the road that led to Le Struthof, a concentration camp in the Alsace region of France. Nico and I climbed close to 10 miles of hill up this road, and I tried not to complain, as my suffering was minimal by comparison.
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Sorry for my lack of commentary...hopefully, the pictures speak for themselves.

My mother was not surprised that there was a concentration camp in France, and asked me if we visited any of the camps in Switzerland. Naturally, I thought my mother crazy, as Switzerland was supposed to be neutral.

January 26, 1998, Newsweek,
The Swiss Halo Slips Again

THE MEN FARMED, BUILT ROADS or cut trees. Women cleaned and cooked for families. At night, they were confined to unheated barracks, where they slept on plank bunks padded only with loose straw. Armed guards beat workers, enforced rules against singing and threatened malcontents with deportation to Nazi Germany - and certain death. Occupied France? Try neutral Switzerland. "It was strictly a Jewish camp," said Michael Roth, 76, confirming this bleak picture of wartime.

Sweden, you would never let me down like this, would you?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

In case you had forgotten, this trip was a tandem tour of Europe, so I really should have started with some bicycling pictures. Here are a couple, there are several hundred others that I have not yet sorted through.
Bill and Jan, of Santana Tandems. (If you were wondering what a $14,000 tandem looks like...)
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Our new friends Tate and Sarah:
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And a rare photo of us holding Tate and Sarah's bike (we match it pretty well):
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If you are bored, here are all the photos we shot on the trip...with the exception of a couple of Nicole's do you say? ah yes, deriere. No editing, or deleting has yet been attempted..and some of them are undoubtably sideways. Like I said, if you're bored.
Oh the jet lag...

Newport Beach

How can Nico possibly be asleep? Oh well, plenty of time for blogging...time for feature #2: Pharmacies I visited in Europe. Some of you may remember, I did a similar segment in Mexico several months back. I was not looking for anything in particular this time.

In Switzerland and Germany, apothekes (hope I spelled that right) are everywhere. Photo #1 is an 18th century pharmacy, now residing in Zurich's Landesmuseum.
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Next up, Lucerne claims one of the oldest continuously operating pharmacies in Europe.
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Breisach also claims one of the oldest continuously operating pharmacies in Europe.
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This pharmacy offers a few value added services. Image Hosted by
3 Euros for cholesterol screening? What a deal! The young girl inside spoke no English. She ran away when I took out my camera, but reappeared with the older woman, who forced her to be in the picture.
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This pharmacie is somewhere in France.
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In Obernai, I met a young pharmacist (6 months out of school), who not only spoke English, but was interested in talking to me. Was that a sentence? Hey, it's 5 in the morning. Pharmacists in France go to school for 6 years, and to our right is a shelf of "Pharmacist only over the counters"...patients can look at them, but cannot touch.
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Here's one more pharmacie in Obernai.
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Basically, that's all the pharmacies there is.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Back from Europe, and quite jet lagged. I was going to start off with a scathing commentary on American Airlines,, buying tickets over the internet, and air travel in general...but I am not sure how coherent that would come out at this juncture.

So instead I will start off with a new segment: Views from hotel rooms in Europe...I think I may have missed one.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Europe by Tandem.


I still think America's great...

Last week, on the 4th of July, I was a marshal in the American Legion's Old Glory Boat Parade.

I had wanted to wear full Apollo Creed gear, but all I had was this hat:
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Thank you to my very good friend and co-worker for bringing me the hat. Here is a picture of the regulary un-American Jessica engaged in a brief moment of flag waving:
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Unexpected duties of a parade marshall:
1) Moving spectating kayaks off the parade route (You would not think this would be required)
2) Listening to protests from Harbor 20s

So this Harbor 20 sails by us towards the end of the parade and complains that the Black Pearl (a sailboat under power) cut him off. Keep in mind, this was a parade. Not a race, or a parade/race...just a parade. But seriously, you cannot enter a sailboat in a parade and not expect boats to get in your way. Anyway, that flag sail is an old Harbor 20 sail painted red, white, and blue. Looks pretty good.
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happiest day of my life:

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Somebody at Fox: please put the Simpsons out of their misery...not funny for >10 years should earn cancellation.