June 2007

Well, at least two of my photos are. The article below is from the July issue of Scientific American. I’m going to grab a few extra copies of the physical magazine (I’m a subscriber already). The photos of Professors Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins are mine. The one of Prof. Krauss was at a recent debate with Prof. Brian Greene on String Theory (see my recent post). The photo of Prof. Dawkins was at a reading/signing of his book, “The God Delusion“. Cool!

Should Science Speak to Faith?

Two prominent defenders of science exchange their views on how scientists ought to approach religion and its followers

By Richard Dawkins and Lawrence M. Krauss

Last night Kirsten and I enjoyed a great meal at Aida Bistro in Columbia, MD. It was the restaurant’s 5th anniversary, and they had a special fixed-price menu (3 courses with wine for $30).

First Course (pick one):

Chilled Asparagus and Cucumber soup, with white balsamic pickled cucumber and asparagus tips. [John] This had a nice presentation: the pickled cucumber and asparagus tips where stacked in a pyramid in the center of a small soup bowl. The pureed (cold) soup was poured over this at the table. The soup was very tasty and refreshing – and I normally don’t like cold soups. The soup tasted very “cucumbery” – like a sweet pickle. Very nice.

Romaine lettuce and local Larriland Farms Strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and lemon ice Granite. [Kirsten] Tasty.

Wine: Huber Austrian Gruner Veltliner ’06: Very nice white wine. Crisp, dry, with just a touch of sweetness. We are going to try to find this for home.

Second Course (pick one):

Duck confit spring roll with spiced mango and sweet soy sauce. [John]: Quite delicious! Melt-in-your-mouth tender duck. The Mango and sweet soy sauce was a great complement.

Crab and Mango spring roll with sweet chilli sauce. [Kirsten]: Delicious.

Wine: Tangent Edna Valley Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc ’05: Just ok. 1st course wine was much better. This one is too dry for my taste.

Third Course:

Spice rubbed and grilled sushi grade Tuna served with fresh berry compote. Side of horseradish whipped potatoes and fresh asparagus [John and Kirsten]: Absolutely Fabulous. The tuna was perfectly cooked: seared on the outside and rare and warm in the middle. I would never have thought of pairing berries with tuna, but it goes very nicely. Wow. Best tuna ever. The whipped potatoes and asparagus were also perfectly cooked – the asparagus was slim and tender, but with a very slight crunch. Yum.

[there was another selection: lamb, but we didn’t try that]

Wine: Santa Martina Toscana Rosso ’05: blend of Cabernet, Sangiovese, Merlot, and Syrah. Ok wine, but the first wine is still my favorite of the three. In reds I prefer a straight merlot or pinot noir. Kirsten really liked this wine, and it tied with the first as her fav.

Dessert wasn’t included, but I had a bread pudding with strawberries, and Kirsten had a cannolli. The desserts were ok, but didn’t quite match up to the (wonderful) three other courses.

This was a fabulous meal, and Kirsten and I had a great time.

kingsdominionOn Saturday (June 16), I took the boys (Brandon and Dylan) to Kings Dominion Theme park, in Virginia (about 85 miles south of Washington, DC and about 120 miles from our house). We got off to a late start, and hit major traffic on 95 in northern Virginia; it took us about an hour to travel 10 miles. Thus total time to get there was about 3.5 hours vs. the normal 2.25 it should take. The return trip didn’t have a lot of traffic, so we made it back in a little over 2 hours.

The park itself had a lot of people, but I don’t think it was as packed as it “normally” is. The parking lot was not full, and none of the lines were more than 15 minutes. However, the boys didn’t want to try any of the roller coasters after the Rebel Yell, and we ended up doing the bumper cars. We then spent 1.5 hours at the Tidal Wave pool. They liked that, though I was glad I had brought a book (and managed to find a chaise lounge under an umbrella -they were scarce). The tix I had purchased (package from work) also included dinner, so we had all you (care to) eat hamburgers, hotdogs and soda. I didn’t realize until 10 minutes before the food pavilion was to close that it also included beer. Oh well – I managed to grab a couple.

The park is quite large, and there was no way we could find anything without a map. Finding a map was also a trek, but we got one in one of the gift shops (free). Brandon wanted to navigate, so he used the map to take us (the really, really long way) to the Wave pool. He then decided navigation was not his specialty and gave the map to Dylan. Dylan didn’t even try and handed it to me.

After dinner I convinced both boys to ride the Grizzly roller coaster as well as the Anaconda. We also did the go-karts (I drove with Dylan and Brandon drove his own kart). Brandon got a spray-on tattoo (a purple dragon). I don’t think he plans on bathing for awhile so it won’t wash off. The Eiffel tower clone in the middle of the park was closed, so we didn’t get a chance to go up in it – I imagine that is a great way to get your bearings as you can see the whole park from the top.

I wanted to go on a few of the other rides, but was not up for leaving the boys to themselves while I did so. Oh well – probably a good thing that they didn’t get to see Dad lose his dinner. :)

I had to constantly steer the boys away from the midway games, but relented at the end on the way out. The ride home was uneventful. All in all, I’m not going back any time soon, as a 5+ hour round-trip is not worth it unless you actually ride the coasters! I asked the boys what they liked best and they both said the pool and the free sodas. I guess I can replicate that this summer with the local pool and a six-pack of Sprite.