Blog: 2008-10

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Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K

Best international convenience store chain parent company name ever:

For information or questions about Alimentation Couche-Tard, Circle K's parent company, please visit us at Alimentation Couche-Tard.

http://circlek.com/CircleK/AboutUs

Best Subway Sandwich Stylist: Union Square, Somerville, MA, USA

 [crude photo graphic] I might've thought that Subway sandwish assembly would be a well-regulated process, but quality varies widely between location.Perhaps a couple months ago, I was struck by a Subway worker who assembled my Veggie D'Lite as if she were a food stylist preparing it for a photo shoot, only rapidly (and without the use of inedible materials like shellac).

Last week, I was again at that Subway location, Union Square, Somerville, MA, USA, and again lucked out to get the same gorgeous sandwich preparation. Both times, I wished she didn't have to fold it up.

Unlike most Subways I've seen, this one does not have a tip jar.

They do have a spacious and clean restaurant.

Give them some of your business.

If you're new-ish to Cambridge and don't know how to get to Union Square... From Central Square or Inman Square, just walk along Prospect St. away from Cambridgeport. As you cross the line in to Somerville, you'll see the Citadel on the hill ahead, and Subway is just at the foot of the hill, to your left. You'll also pass where radiators go to die. From Porter Square, just walk Somerville Ave. From Davis, walk Elm St. and then Somerville Ave. Also, Target is just a few blocks further down Somerville Ave.

How to Perpetuate a Stereotype

Around lunchtime this lazy Saturday afternoon, I was returning from walking a friend to Porter, and I ducked into a pristine small grocery store in Harvard Square, to get a little of the tasty snack food they have in bulk bins.

This woman was loitering in front of the bins, in front of what I really wanted, so I started window-shopping the canisters at the far end, and noticed that her mobile phone was taking much of her attention.

Then she goes and dumps a bunch of white things on the floor (yogurt-covered peanuts?), which is easy to do with bulk foods bags that cling shut, even when one's arms and attention are not preoccupied with a phone.

But instead of looking embarrassed and stooping to clean up the mess in this otherwise very clean store, she continues on with her phone conversation, with the white droppings surrounding her pointy high-heel black leather boots. It was then that I got a good glance at her, and saw she had an all-around expensive-fashionable look (and I'll leave the description at that).

Then she walked away from the mess.

Really, most Harvard-ish people don't come across as snooty upper-class types who expect "the little people" to clean up their messes. At least she wasn't alienating people outside of Harvard Square in this case.

Greenspan's Epiphany?

A little late:

[...] Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve chairman once considered the infallible maestro of the financial system, admitted on Thursday that he "made a mistake" in trusting that free markets could regulate themselves without government oversight. [...] In his prepared remarks, Mr. Greenspan said he was in "a state of shocked disbelief" about the breakdown in the ability of banks to regulate themselves.

—Michael Grynbaum, "Greenspan Concedes Error on Regulation," New York Times, 2008-10-23

A colleague just put his reaction as, "I am shocked -- shocked! -- to find that gambling is going on in here." I'm not so sure: I don't know much about economics, but I always figured Greenspan was a true-believer.

Beets

I managed to go about three decades without ever knowingly eating beets. An ex-girlfriend introduced beets and I a couple years ago, in the context of green salads. But I didn't eat beets after we broke up, perhaps since they reminded me of her, as romantic as that must sound.

This summer, however, I was dining with a fellow vegetarian in the The Blue Room in One Kendall Square (Cambridge, MA, USA), and she picked the beets for the appetizer. It was brilliant.

Since then, I have been sampling beets around town. The beets dish at Casablanca (Harvard Square) was good, though not as surprising as The Blue Room's appetizer that fateful day. All Star Sandwich Bar's (Inman Square) daily special beets sandwich was great. Kiraz Cafe's (Inman Square) beets sandwich, which I inhaled just now, was good. Salad bar beets have been ho-hum, but good for variety.

I don't consider myself a fan of beets in general, but clearly some chefs have found great transformations for beets. In this sense, beets are in the same category as eggplant, though eggplant is easier to do wrong, and I don't recall an eggplant preparation ever matching beets at their best.

Veggie Planet

For lunch in Harvard Square today, we went to Veggie Planet, the food side of Club Passim, where I'd previously been only in the evenings.

It has something of a cafeteria ambiance, as expected, but the great food and the daylight through the windows redeems it.

Gearspotting

If you no longer do photography yourself, but you are walking through Harvard Square on a nice day, that is a good time to play a game I'll call "gearspotting."

Today's best spot was an Asian guy in black and tastefully stylish eyewear, taking skilled shots with a Canon 24-70 on a 5D with battery grip. (That one was too easy: 24-70 is a popular pro lens with a distinctive hood, and at the moment there's only one Digital EOS body with that kind of prism housing that's not a 1D series, and the seam for the battery grip tells you it's not a 1D series.)

A great photo is usually more about the photographer than the gear, but good photographers know when they could benefit from which gear. So, until you build a capable kit of gear, you're probably going to be on top of what's available. Just don't fall prey to the urge to collect gear.

HtmlPrag for PLT Scheme 4.x: I Promise

People keep asking when HtmlPrag will be available for PLT Scheme 4.x.

The reason that HtmlPrag doesn't yet work in PLT 4.x is that the high-level parser uses mutable pairs.

I'm going to try to rewrite the parser function, or kludge around it, this coming weekend. My immediate professional commitments must take priority, but I really do want to move all my users to PLT 4.x as soon as possible.

Earlier to... 2008-09

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