30 April 2009

Por favor manténganse se alejado de las puertas

"Please stand clear of the doors", por favor manténganse se alejado de las puertas.

After four days of riding the Disney monorail at a conference I've got this memorized. Never made it to the park but did have the honor of being stopped by a Disney cop for running outside the normal people area. I found a road that was mainly traveled by maintenance vehicles and the like and someone reported me as a suspicious character. I guess I looked Goofy.

18 April 2009

Smoking ribs 2009 1.0

I don't smoke ribs well. Very inconsistent. I never get the rave reviews that I do with a pork shoulder or brisket. This week's batch was better that some. Temp was mainly in the 180 to 225 range for about ten hours.

One of the mistakes I may be making is too much rub. I use the same rub that I use for a pork roast which is about three parts brown sugar, one part white sugar and about one part a combination of black pepper, salt, paprika, garlic powder. It works great on a roast, creating a nice sweet crust that is a great compliment to the meat inside.

However, on ribs this rub is like a hard shell over a smaller piece of meat. The meat tastes good but the crust can be overwhelming. What I think I should do is try the next batch with a very light rub or mop. Perhaps one batch with a little salt and pepper and another batch that gets a regular coating in a light sweet/sour mop of vinegar, sugar, mustard.

The ribs this weekend were not bad, but I think could have been much better. They were better than what you normally get at a restaurant but not the quality that I think it possible.

All in, it was a great day for smoking. Buds on the trees, spring is on the move. On the negative side most of the family is turning vegetarian and i'm left to eat this stuff myself or share with a few others.

11 April 2009


April 11, 5am, the first pork shoulder and brisket of the year are on the smoker.

The rub is something I throw together that seems to work out well. Mainly it's brown sugar, perhaps two thirds. The rest is white sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper. Lots of rub on the meat and then allowed to set in the fridge overnight.

The fire is the basic Kingsford charcoal along with some soaked wood chips or chunks. Usually hickory or a fruit wood like apple or cherry. I cut down a maple tree in the yard last year and have been drying some of that in the garage for use later in the year.

I'll keep the temp around 220 for the next 12 hours.
Verdict: Some amazing stuff. I thought the brisket was better than the pork but most of the eaters thought the reverse.

07 April 2009

How an Avenger saved my life

Baseball season has started. The Cardinals lost their opener. Rob and I talked about it today and I was reminded how much baseball means to both of us.

Team: The Avengers
Year: 1996
City: St. Louis
Situation: Job turmoil, my new "boss" is nuts....and I may be next.

One of the strangest job situations i've ever had was one where my so called boss was someone I had kept from getting a job early in his career. His dream was to work for our firm, I and others realized the was out of his league and blocked him from being hired by the company. Ten years later, at another firm, he's my boss. The lack of understanding of our business had grown expotentially and he proceeded down a path that dismantled the company.

The stress of this was something. I won't go into the details but it still bugs me more than ten years later that I didn't do more to stop this. But it wasn't all bad and there were opportunities to impact bad decisions and make them less bad, or in some cases actually good ones. But there were days in 96, 97, 98 when I just couldn't stand the thought of going into work one more day.

It was in these days that a kid, a glove, a bat and a ball kept my life in focus. During these years Rob lived for baseball. Glory days as Springsteen would call it. There are great things in life and being a really good ball player on a really good team when you're ten years old is near the top of the list. He made some mistakes but had more than his share of game winning hits and magical plays at the plate. In the spring, fall and summer our days often came to a close out in the expansive field in our back yard, playing pitch. Sometimes for only twenty minutes, other times for an hour.

On particularly tough days at work I eased my mind by thinking about what I had to look forward to when I got home. "In just six hours I'll be in the back yard hitting flies to Rob", or "in just 2 hours and 27 minutes, we'll be playing catch". Crazy mind game, but a little trick that help me get past the next conference call, the next meaningless report submission, the next lost client account.

It wasn't always planned. Sometimes I'd come home, change clothes, plop down on the couch, grab the remote and get ready for a snooze. Not a thought of going outside. Then came, "Hey, Dad, you wanna play catch", and I'd be out of the house, down the hill and in the common ground shared with our neighbors.

There was something about those hours playing with my son that helped me put everything into perspective. Sure things were tough, but so was I. My son, a few yards away, is not worried about the markets. He's waiting for the next toss from his dad and is oblivious to all the grownup stuff swirling around in my life. This is how it should be.

While tossing the ball I'd look up the hill to our house and know that inside was a mom fixing supper and two daughters. Often they joined us, altogther or individually, glove or bat in tow. Rachel held the family record of 200+ tosses without a miss. She was every bit as beautiful and glorious on the field as he was. Caroline toddled around and did her best to catch a ball when not distracted by something much more imporant, such as a butterly or lightning bug.

As the sun set we climbed the hill to head back inside. The climb meant a return to responsibility and each step seemed a reminder as your pulled yourself up, with armfuls of bats and balls. Inside that house there was homework to be finished, spelling tests to drill for, baths and stories before bedtime. In the field there was escape and a few precious moments when nothing else in the world mattered.

To my son, it was the end of another day and a few hours playing with Dad. To Dad, it was much needed relief and the knowledge that no matter what the next day brings, I can count on a kid and a glove waiting for me when the working day draws to a close. I've always said our children each came into our lives when we needed them most. In 1996 I needed a ten year old.

05 April 2009

Thinking Easter

Why do Christians make more of Christmas than Easter? In part because we are more comfortable sharing the holiday with non believers. You don't have to be a Christian to enjoy the religious aspect of Christmas, heck you can be an atheist or a muslim and celebrate the birth of a "good teacher" from antiquity.

People don't talk about Easter. They don't say "Happy Easter" at Target, the way they do at Christmas. Easter is resurrection. Easter is the Lord of creation stepping into this world and into my place and suffering on my behalf. Easter is the thing you can't shake, you can't get out of your head when you really think about it. I can't understand it, but I can accept it, and thank Him for it. I can live like I am grateful.

Fire up the Smoker 2009

A late spring snow today but I've decided that regardless of the weather i'm smoking some meat next weekend. Of course that will be on Easter so maybe I should rethink this. Probably better ways to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Perhaps Saturday.

04 April 2009

Leaving London

Here for 2.5 days and was a whirlwind of activity. Long drive to Canary Wharf from Heathrow due to detours related to G20 summit. Stayed at the Four Seasons and room overlooked the Thames. Meetings mainly related to evolution of the investment industry and securities regulation in the UK and Europe. No time for tourist things. Had lunch at the Garrick Club, which is connected to the British theatre and is more like an art museum than a private club. Had an interesing meeting on Islamic finance at BLME with one of the leading experts in the field, one that contines to grow in relevance. Served on a judging panel for students in an international securities analyst competition.

Kept waking up around 3am each morning, which seems to be the case wherever I travel internationally. Didn't really make sense since this would have been 9pm back home. Nice thing was I had the gym at the hotel all to myself.
Did not encounter any of the protests shown on tv from the G20 meeting, which was here this week. Locals who saw the crowds commented that there were more tourists taking pictures of protestors than actual protestors.
Food was unexceptional, as I'd always heard.
At the Amsterdam airport, home soon.
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