Round Up

31 05 2006

Good – The White Countess
Bad – Tristan + Isolde
Fugly – Aeon Flux

Ghost Rider
A Prairie Home Companion

The Devil Wears Prada

Mouth to Mouth


Red – 1982 Chianti Fattoria di Montagliari
White – 2004 Allan Scott Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
Sparkling – Paul Chaneau Blanc de Blancs Brut


Spring Cleaning

30 05 2006

Cut a lemon in half, sprinkle with salt and rub all over the surface. Works for marble too.

Furniture Polish:
Mix equal parts of turpentine, linseed oil and vinegar. Spray and then wipe off.

Foul smelling drains:
Remove old box of baking soda from fridge and pour down drain. Chase with cup of table salt and cup of vinegar. Let fizz for 30 seconds. Chase with four quarts of boiling water and let work overnight. Smell is gone by the AM. I do this every quarter.

Crusty shower heads:
Fill Ziploc sandwich bag with vinegar and hang on shower head arm with head submerged. Secure with rubberband. Wait two hours and then wipe away softened mineral crust with a sponge. I do it to all of my faucets the weekend night I am going to be away.


Kampuchea Kingdom

29 05 2006

Kampuchea, now known as Cambodia, is in Southeast Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand to the south, Thailand to the east, Viet Nam to the West and Laos to the North. It boasts a tropical climate with rain from June through October, coolseason from November to February and much heat from March to May. Its popilation and official language are predominantly Khmer (90%, with 5% Chinese) and the official religion is Theravada Buddhism (95%).

Mobile phones are a necessity when traveling and numbers start with 011, 012, 015, 0116 or 018. Phone cards may be bought for use at public phones as well. Recommended inoculations are standard and must be reviewed at the CDC Travel site before travel begins. As usual, preventive measures against mosquitoes, especially at dusk, should be observed using, at minimum choloroquine, mefloquine and even doxycycline iwth proper clothing and insect surface repellent. Health insurance, especially medical evacuation cover is a minimal international healthcare standard, especially in rural areas.

Rice and fish are the main stables of the diet but many dishes are prepared with beef, pork or chicken. Sea food, especially crab and shrimp, are abundant in coastal areas. Local specialties include amok (fish cooked in cocoanut milk) and soups and curries that are similar in taste (but not as spicy) as in Thailand. Phnom Penh (the capitol) is cosmopolitan with Chinese, Korean, Thai, Viet Namese, Malaysian, Japanese, Nepalese, Indian, Turkish, Mexican, French and Western restaurants throughout the capitol.

The official Cambodian currency is the Riel but US$ may be freely spelt in major towns and cities. Use smaller denomination notes as getting change back may be dodgy. Currently, the currency has slipped to 4203.80 Riel per $ making it a better value for money tourist destination. International currency like the $, E and pound can be freely exchanged locally. Major credit cards are accepted only in a few places and so traveler checks or cash are recommended. There are no cash dispensers (ATM) and, while you can obtain cash advances from your credit card at some shops, high handling fees make it not worthwhile. Exchanging TC at a bank will cost up to 4% extra to convert it into a US$ bill. Carry US$ cash (with $20 and $200 notes) but do not exchange all of your cash for Riels as it is practically impossible to exchange back for US$.

There are direct flights to Phnom Penh from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Kuala Lampur, SIngapore, Hong Kong, Vientiane and Guangzou. Direct flights connect Bangkok and SIem Reap, the home of Angkor Wat.

The Indian embassy is located at #777 Monivong Blvd, # 725981 and the US Embassy is located at #27 (Street 240), # 802990, 427124 and 428295. All foreign visitors are able to obtain a Cambodian visa upon arrival at the airport and it is no longer necessary to get the visa stamp at the Cambodian Embassy before you visit. You need a passport photocpy, 1 passport photo (3×4 cm) and US$20 cash for tourist visa fee (paid directly to Immigration) at your port of entry (Pochentong Airport in Phnompenh or Siem Reap airport in Angkor Wat region). The visa is valid for 30 days from the date of issue, NOT the date of entry. If you wish to prolong your stay, go to the Department of Immigration just opposite the Pochentong Airport for US$25 for an added 30 days. If you wish to stay for more than one month, get a business visa at one shot for US$25 with three months' validation. An easy alternative is to obtain an e-visa (which requires a JPEG of your passport photograph).

While Phnom Penh is the government capitol, everybody goes to Siem Reap, the provinicial capitol, a pleasant sleepy backwater that is a base for visitors. More than one hundred ancient temples exist but are maximally toured with a well informed professional guide. Many of the temples are best viewed at different times of the day due to their geographical orientation and the angle of the sun.

Conspiracy Theory

28 05 2006

"Loose Change" is a currently top-ranking viral video that essentially charges that the 9/11 incidents were an elbaorate hoax engineered by the administration to justify the invasion of Iraq. It questions whether commercial aircraft actually crashed into the Twin Towers, posits that UA 93 may have been shot down by a missile and doubts that an airplane crashed into the Pentagon. Popular Mechanics debunks the myths systematically.

Classical Chianti

27 05 2006

Chianti is Italy’s most famous red wine and most easily identified in amateur still life art by its squat bottle enclosed in a fiasco (“flask”) of a straw basket. In 1963, the introduction of DCOG led to the production area bein split into seven subregions: Chianti Classico, Rufina, Colli Senesi, Colli Fiorentini, Montalbano, Colli Arretini, Colline Pisane. Only wines labeled Chianti Classico come from the traditional area. Others originate from Siena, Firenze, Arezzo and Pisa (hence the names). Rufina comes from the north side of Firenze and Montalbano.

Chianti is based mainly on Sangiovese grapes but also includes other varieties, and traditionally 5-10% of white grapes. Only recently has it been permitted to be efermented from 100% sangioveses (or at least without white grapes). It may have a picture of gallo nero (black rooster) on the neck of the bottle, indicating the producer is associted with de Chianti Consortium. Chianti and Chianti Classico that meet stringest anging requirements (38 instead of 7 months) may be labeled “Riserva”. This was used as a labeling technique to dispose of wines that did not sell the previous year and left in cask for one more year for mystique and demand.

Newer wines produced in Tuscany are usually base don sangiovese and some popular French grapes, and are called “Super Tuscans”. It is really any Tuscan red wine that does not adhere to traditional blending laws. You could add Bordeaux varietals (like cabernet sauvignon or merlot). The first Super Tuscan was Tignanello. As they break archaic strict Italian law, they were initially labeled plain vino de tavola (Table Wine), used for labeling the poorest quality. The categorization of IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) was essentially created to bring Super Tuscans back into the fold, to recognize these quality wines. Althought strict appellation laws discourage experimentation, they cannot prevent it.


  • Nozzole Chianti Classica Reserva 2000 (Classico): $18
  • Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva di Fizaano 1999 (Classico) $29
  • Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 (Classico) $21
  • Tenuta di Trecciano Riserva 1999 (Colli Senesi) $15
  • La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 (Classico) $20
  • Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva 2000 (Classico) $15
  • Ecco Domani Chianti 2001 (Chianti) $9
  • Toscolo Chianti 2001 (Chianti) $8
  • Fattoria l’Ottavo Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 (Classico) $17
  • Santedame Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 (Classico) $18
  • Badia a Coltibuono CC 2000 (Classico)$17
  • Monsano Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 (Classico) $20

S & W were gracious to host a vertical Chianti tasting dinner at their lovely hillside home in Montclair tonight. We tasted. We tasted Chianti produced at the Montagliari farm in Toscano. This farm is a medium company producing wine since 1720. Older original casks used for wine making are still on dsiplay but used for storage. The Montigliari family is originally from Chianti but is now farming in Panzano (Via di Montigliari, 29, 50020 Panzano; Tel: +39-055852014). The family produces Chianto Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva (9 years minimum), Brunesco di San Lorenzo (igt), Grappa, Brandy, Amaro di san Lorenzo, aged Vinsanto, extra virgin olive oil and pressed trebiano grape sauce.

Chemical Friendly

26 05 2006

The government has a new website displaying public service symbols for terrorism readiness a la the "duck and cover campaigns after the Second World War. The images, I feel, are quite ambiguous.

quickly try to define the impacted area

Hurricanes, animal corpses and the biohazard symbol have a lot in common. Think about it.

it may be better to go inside a building and follow your plan to shelter-in-place

After exposure to radiation, consider that you may have mutated to gigantic dimensions. Watch your head when entering a building.

if you think you may have been exposed, immediately strip and wash

Be on the lookout for terrorists with pink eye and perosy. They tend to rub their hands together maniacally. Mwuu ha ha ha.

wash with soap and water

The proper way to eliminate small pox is to wash with soap, water and at least one armless hand.

Week in Wine

25 05 2006

Domestic Rosé
2005 Beckmen Vineyards Purisima Mountain Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Rosé ($18)
2005 Bonny Doon California Vin Gris de Cigare ($12)
2005 Cheapskate Skinflint California Rosé ($9)
2005 Etude Carneros Pinot Noir Rosé ($20)
2005 Fife Redhead Mendocino Dry Rosé ($12)
2005 Foris Rogue Valley Dry Grenache ($14)
2005 Housley's Century Oak Winery Lodi Founder's Rose ($6)
2005 La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Rosé ($18)
2005 Lucia Vineyard & Winery Lucy Santa Lucia Highlands Rosé of Pinot Noir ($18)
2005 Ortman Paso Robles Syrah Rosé ($16)
2005 Pellegrini Redwood Valley Rosato ($14)
2005 Robert Hall Hall Ranch Paso Robles Rosé de Robles ($14)
2005 Roselle Thornhill Vineyard Mendocino County Syrah Rosé ($12)
2005 Rutherford Hill Napa Valley Rosé of Merlot ($19)
2005 Vina Robles Paso Robles Roseum Syrah ($13)

Wines to grill with
White and Pink

2005 King Fish California Pinot Grigio ($6)
2005 Marques de Caceres Rioja Dry Rosé ($7)
2004 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux ($9)
NV Valentin Bianchi San Rafael New Age Rosé ($9)
NV Valentin Bianchi San Rafael New Age White ($9)

2004 Caracol Serrano Tinto Jumilla ($8)
2005 Delicato Family Vineyards California Merlot ($7)
2005 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages ($10)
2004 King Fish California Shiraz ($11, 1.5-liter box)
2003 Mouton Cadet Bordeaux ($9)