Lifestyle

Cooking risotto

I’ve been cooking at home quite a bit the last few months and because of the time at home, been making my own chicken stock every week. I’ve found that a 3-4 lb chicken will make 12-14 cups of quality chicken stock (roast the chicken and use the bones and you’ve got meals for days). Chicken stock is the base for most of the soups and rice dishes I make, and having pneumonia now, and having gone through 2 weeks of the flu, this makes for quality recuperation food.

Today I created my first risotto recipe, starting from the idea of this Epicurious.com recipe and adapting it to my own flavor profile and ingredients on hand. Instead of wine, I used a quality dry Spanish sherry and I can’t imagine anyone using anything but Arborio rice for a risotto. The Pernod was not used because of the use of sherry.

cooking risotto

I’m not going to pretend this is a foodie blog and take pictures of the entire process of cooking my food but I passed my first test without exception. Saute the onions, bring in the sherry, build the flavor with every dose of warmed stock and a few stirs… The end result was a little heavy on spinach but tastie and creamy none the less….

Lifestyle

Poignant thoughts on priorities and focus

It was a great Thanksgiving weekend, despite having “walking pneumonia”. I’m still not recovered but sitting here trying to get my focus straight for the next week I have been reading a lot lately and found these thoughts I saved on a paper in one of my books. I don’t have a source, if you know it please send along:

Take a look around you, right this moment, and you’ll see the results of your past priorities. Whatever has been most important to you, whatever has been the focus of your time and commitment, has come to pass.

If you’re satisfied and fulfilled by where you are, you know what it took to get there and you can continue cheerfully along the same path. If you’re not completely pleased with the results of your past priorities, the first thing to do is change those priorities.

Every moment of every day you are committed to something. When enough of those moments are focused on a particular priority, on a particular possibility, that possibility will come to life.

Look at the possibilities that you’ve already brought to reality as the result of your focus and commitment. Whether you like the results or not, the fact is that you’ve definitely achieved results.

The question now is, what results would you like to achieve next? Aim your focus, aim your commitment, aim your priorities, aim the efforts of each moment in the direction of those results, and they will most certainly happen.

Time to get focused again.

Lifestyle

Use Facebook, Don’t Obuse it.

If asked by an interviewer for a job position, would you show them your Facebook (or Myspace) profile? Based on unauthorized polling, counting comments on blogs on this etc., an over whelming number of people (less than 20% that actually have a profile, would actually offer up this site).

80 percent of companies use or are planning to use social networking to find and attract candidates this year.

More here from Guy Kawasaki on How to Go on the Offensive with Facebook

Lifestyle

Stop making cents

When you walk into the long narrow hallway of my NY shoebox apartment, I have set up a large rack for all my shoes (I might have more pairs than E), a large vase for all my umbrellas I haven’t lost, a few softball bats, a coat rack which acts as storage in the summer, also a small shelve for my sunglasses, mirror, flowers, and a very old Japanese bowl my Uncle brought back before the 2nd world war. In that bowl holds my keys and the left over change of the day, collected and sifted later for laundry quarters.

That bowl needs a consistent turn over every four weeks, not because I’m a heavy cash users but the over abundance of the useless copper coins that fill it to the rim each month. I, like most people leave my left over copper in convenience store “take-a-penny-drop-a-penny” bins and praise those clerks that have them available when I don’t have a few extra pennies.

Increasingly there’s a push to eliminate the penny in today’s commerce. We manufacture them at a loss and according to the Washington Post, they’re a cost center for business and no longer a way to round up the revenue with a few cents:

Quote from the Washington post:

In this great country, not even the most obscure subject escapes scrutiny, so I am able to report that the National Association of Convenience Stores and the Walgreens drugstore chain have estimated that handling pennies adds 2 to 2.5 seconds per cash transaction. Assume that the average citizen makes one such transaction every day, and so wastes (to be conservative) 730 seconds a year. The median worker earns just over $36,000 a year, or about 0.5 cents per second, so futzing with pennies costs him $3.65 annually.

From Hey Norton blog:
The anti-penny contingent has been unsuccessful to date, largely due to the strong opposition of the Zinc lobby (really). Perhaps the specter of recession and the pragmatic support of the Treasury secretary will give the de-coining effort new mettle.

I’d go on to make my case but this post isn’t worth the pennies of advertizing I won’t even make for viewing this… Feel free to read on though.

Lifestyle

Vesuvio Bakery is finally getting reoccupied

I’ve seen Vesuvio closed for almost a year now, noting earlier this year that it was up for sale. I just read this NYMag post that it’s finally getting reoccupied by City Bakery’s newest launch of Birdbath. I just hope its not all vegan!

Here’s the rest of the post:

When the City Bakery’s Maury Rubin launched his first Birdbath, he coined a catchphrase for the ecofriendly enterprise: Build a Green Bakery. In the case of his third branch, though, slated to open in October in Soho, there was no building involved. He only had to lease it. The bakery in question was already one of New York’s most famous—the 89-year-old Vesuvio, a cherished remnant of a pre-Soho Soho. Even though in recent times it was known more for its iconic façade than for its coal-oven-baked loaves, Vesuvio’s passing struck a chord with urban nostalgists, guidebook-toting tourists, and especially, it seems, with Rubin, who immediately engaged in “very intense, very personal jockeying for it.” Rubin ultimately triumphed, in large part thanks to his commitment to leave the shell virtually untouched. “It’s an heirloom, it’s a treasure, it means the world,” he says. “That I have a chance to have my bakery be in it is a gift.” Ironically, Rubin’s retiring the ancient ovens for now, mostly because of the owners’ fire-hazard fears. Even so, the deal makes sense: Birdbath was originally conceived as the next-generation iteration of the neighborhood bakeries that were disappearing from New York. And by keeping the structure intact (save a new reclaimed-wood banquette and LED lights), Rubin is perpetrating what he calls “the ultimate bakery recycling.” To suit the sixteen-seat setting, there will be a made-to-order menu, a first for Birdbath, with cinnamon toast, microwaved eggs (“Low energy!” says Rubin), and “neighborhood mozzarella” pressed with tomato and basil, plus new pastries like rice-milk-raisin scones. Also, for the first time in Birdbath history, espresso. This is one place, says Rubin, preservationist pâtissier, that “really requires espresso.”

Lifestyle

Hipster style is the worst of the 80’s gone…

Look at this fucking hipster is a photo blog of the “best” of the worst of hipster gear. Check the gear!

The term hipster has become synonymous with with ridiculous clashing 80’s style. Skinny jeans that make your butt look saggy, clash colored checkered button up, sweater vest 2 sizes too small, and any other fashion attire promotes laziness including unkempt facial hair. I just chilled in LES and you can’t go 5 minutes with out spotting the looks snapped up from the site.

Lifestyle

Hog Flu gets wild; Medical warnings & preperations for…

I’ve heard the rumbling fears of our medical health academia in the past about the potentials for Global Pandemics since the Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) out breaks a few years ago. With such a diverse and openly traveled globe, the probability to spread disease from community to community, continent to continent is dramatically salient. The Swine Flu outbreaks as of late have resurfaced fears of a new viral pandemic and in New York, openly have been of concern as I watched NY1 yesterday when they mentioned 8 kids came back from Spring break last week from Mexico, and shortly returning to Saint Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, 150 students went home with flu like symptoms.

I received a message from my doctor on the concern over this very new and potentially threatening outbreak, so and thought I would pass it on (my comments are in [ ]).

The Bad News
First, this is not a new disease. It was known to circulate amongst pigs and most cases previously occurred in people who were in contact with pigs. The first human case in the US was registered in 1976;

Second, it appears that virus was able to “jump” from “animal to human” to “human to human” transmission. This is considered worrisome, because most of us would not have immunity against it, since we never come close to pigs and we come in contact with other humans all the time in a course of our regular daily activities;

Third, in Mexico, it is so far affected young adults, but not children or elderly people, who are usually considered to be more vulnerable. This is also considered a worrisome sign of epidemic;

Forth, there is no vaccine against it to be used in humans;

Fifth, the typical flu incubation period is 24-48 hours, but can be longer in some cases;

Sixth, infected people may be contagious for up to 7 days.

Good News?
First, most infected people would have nothing more than regular flu-like symptoms: fever, lethargy, aches, runny nose, sore throat, etc. There are no specific symptoms of the disease. No deaths were registered in the U.S. at this time;

Second, the virus is susceptible to four different antiviral drugs available in the US, which are effective both for treatment and prophylaxis of the disease.

What should we do at this time.
First, do not panic;

Second, avoid crowded places, non-essential travel, contact with sick people; [Great, this is New York City. Practically unavoidable unless we all be come shut ins]

Third, use protective masks if you have to visit someone sick, or traveling to known epidemic areas;

Forth, wash your hands frequently; [I do this frequently anyway – have you ever touched a sweaty subway poll?]

Fifth, stay home if sick and let your children miss school, if any reasonable suspicion arises regarding epidemic; [YES! I find it ridiculous that employees feel they can work through their sickness by going into work, while at the same time feel completely comfortable with infecting the entire office with their sickness. We should all have laptops and VPN to be able to work from home in today’s technology age]

Sixth, contact you doctor immediately upon developing flu-like symptoms;

Seventh, if you believe you came in close contact with people (within 6 feet) who might have been infected or who were confirmed to be infected, you should contact your doctor and start chemoprophylaxis immediately. [if you live in NY and ride the subway, just get to the doctor now]

Eighth, there is no instant diagnostic test to definitively confirm swine flu, but your doctor will be able to arrange a confirmatory test with the County public health department. The test is usually a nasal swab. There are quick tests to confirm the presence of the flu virus by type A or B although (Swine virus is Type A).

Special Considerations for Children
Aspirin or aspirin-containing products (e.g. bismuth subsalicylate – Pepto Bismol) should not be administered to any confirmed or suspected ill case of swine influenza A (H1N1) virus infection aged 18 years old and younger due to the risk of Reye syndrome. For relief of fever, other anti-pyretic medications are recommended such as acetaminophen or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Please find the following Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization documents attached for your information:

CDC Health Advisory April 28th
Influenza-like illness in the United States and Mexico
Swine Influenza and You
Swine Influenza Recommendations

Google has long stated they wanted to get into the Pandemic tracking business. Here we have a Global Map for tracking Swine Flu cases.

Janet Napolitano, head of the Homeland Security Department said “[The United States is] proceeding as if we are preparatory to a full pandemic,”. Mexico has already closed schools nation wide and is considering a full country shut down of public transportation [yahoo news].

UPDATE: Sadly, Obama had included $900 Million in the stimulus bill for pandemic events and after GOP fought the inclusion of this money (Sen. Susan Collins stated on the floor “What does that have to do with an economic stimulus package?” – CNN Jan 31, 2009) and Karl Rove Mocked the president for looking out for US citizens in the WSJ, the Obama administration capitulated to the objection, conceded it’s removal. House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey had justified the funding as a global pandemic would be detrimental to the needs to expand the nations and our global partner’s economies. This seems now to be justified as CNBC reports:

Oil prices fell more than 2 percent to close to $50 a barrel as investors feared a new blow to an already fragile global economy if trade flows are curbed and manufacturing is hit.

The MSCI world equity index fell 0.8 percent and U.S. stocks also slipped.

Flu fears hit U.S. airline stocks hard as investors worried that the travel industry would suffer. Shares prices for UAL Corp, the parent of United Airlines, shed 14 percent, while Continental Airlines Inc lost 16 percent.

Yet again, the GOP is on the wrong side of policy that would help Americans. They are increasingly the party of the elite and not surprisingly don’t give a real flyingfuck about the welfare of the citizens of the United States.

Lifestyle

Failure to Launch

Privé literally translated to English from French is “Private” but for me the association of Privé has always been with the Opium Group, and their first (?) club in south beach by that name. I went nearly when it first opened in late 2002, and several times since, the last being in 2006. The club was hot, music bumping the underground and always a line even up till it’s closure just recently. The OG crew have gone on to create some of the best high end clubs in America with Mansion Miami and Privé Las Vegas.

Recently I received and invite to a “Launch Party” for Privé NYC:

Accompanying the invite was the pitch, this was “at the Trump Towers” and “will be posh and selective meaning, a strict door policy with New York’s upper echolon in attendance” (misspelling intact). Further, instructions were included on proper dress attire, as typically the “upper echolon” have trouble deciding on wardrobe. Videographers, ballet dancers, tabla men, and musicians in sync were all to be included (although I didn’t see em). DJ’s were to play a mix of contemporary electro/house, which aside from the “contemporary” part appealed to me, and that I was invited by a good friend. If the RSVP invite description sounds more of the antithesis of “contemporary” then you’re not alone.

The World Bar opened 2001, in the Trump Towers residential building across from the UN near the East River in Midtown (owned by Mark C. Grossich who coincidentally also owns one of my favorite business cocktail lounges The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Terminal). The World made news when it was featured in Forbes as one of the spots bankers go to blow their bonus (on the World Cocktail for $50 a glass), which everyone in New York, knows is shit; bankers blow their bonuses on escorts and yeyo. Even on paper this doesn’t sound original, let alone chic.

I with two ladies arrived early at 10:30 and was expecting free for the ladies and myself on the discounted list, which neither were offered we rolled through. Being a promoter before I understand there’s a few glitches, so I asked to negotiate with Sanjay regarding our earlier arrangement and with reluctance agreed to my compromise for the ladies free if I paid. My first impressions were, “What the Fuck is that huge pillar doing in the middle of the room” and “are the speakers big enough for this room?”

After checking my coat with the DJ (apparently coat check guy was on a break), I got a $12 jack n coke and settled in the corner to take in the crowd….Nice! I’ll give the crew this much: It was all women. However, unfortunately the women didn’t find it that appealing as the vibe felt more like an Indian or High School dance than a party – cliques of girls grouped in corners, at tables and guys looking around nervously wondering which women they should attempt to talk to.

My last and biggest pain being a DJ was the sound was shit…. I spoke with Francis and he too admitted it If you’re going to promote and dj a gig like this, you need to be on top of your game and the sound for both the DJ and the audience needs to be right…. having garage speakers with shitty acoustics turned up loud to compensate for the bad mids is just a horrible decision. Please, Please, Please, go buy or rent some Mackies next time!

It’s a first party so I’ll give them a hall pass. The space size was appropriate, all be it not conducive to dancing, and they had the hot crowd down (my single friends would have been shootin fish in a barrel) but if they are going to play in the exclusive party game, this needs to come together in the details better.

Entertainment

The Colbert Coalition

It’s unfortunate that the majority of social commentary on hipocracy in politics, religion and American life in this country has been reduced to comedy shows: John Stewart, Steven Cobert, SNL, etc. Colbert’s got a great parody of the NOM commercial on Gay Marriage:

7 Deadly Sins

Is there ever enough “Wealth “?

“The real source of wealth and capital in this new era is not material things.. it is the human mind, the human spirit, the human imagination, and our faith in the future.”

Read that quote again. Fairly profound, you’d think this was said by a leader, a philosopher or some other humanist of our time. No. Steve Forbes said this. I have no idea of context but for some reason, I think what came right after this was the quote “Pppppppfffffffftttttt… If you believe that crap, I have a bridge to sell you…”

Noel Whittaker a financial author and investment advisor said it better: “Becoming wealthy is like playing Monopoly.. the person who can accumulate the most assets wins the game.”

What constitutes as Wealthy or Rich today in Noel’s terms? Is there a bar that you can mark that says, as soon as I have accumulated this percentage of assets, or XYZ capital, or own some number of high profile items with a steady cash flow, that’s a mark for rich. Is an income of $400,000 a year rich?

This presidential political season and subsequent recession has created a climate of concern for many middle class to wealthy Americans that feel their choice for conspicuous consumption is being limited by new tax laws (Obama’s tax plan) and possibly as the Washington Post puts it “social proof”.

The Journal has an article today called Wealth-Less Effect: Earning Well, Feeling Otherwise; where those just over $250,000 income levels are feeling pinched to cut back and even “forced” to curb living habits they feel they deserve at their income levels. As the Journal puts it:

It is a tricky situation in which some Americans find themselves after a long boom: They are by no means struggling, compared with the 98% of Americans who make far less, but depending on where they live and the lifestyle choices they have made, they don’t necessarily feel rich, either. Worse, in their view, they are facing the same tax rates as those making millions. Some of the expenses are self-inflicted — like private-school costs and conspicuous consumption. Others, though, are unavoidable, like child-care costs, larger health-care deductibles and education expenses, especially college.

The reality is that the median income earner in America is just over $50,000:

2.245 Million households in American, had income greater than $250,000 in 2007 which is actually 1.9% of the total household earners in America. These articles try to convey these rich people are saddled with:

Our capitalistic society has created an environment of spenders regardless if those purchases are necessary or warranted. The majority of expenses, our flat screen TVs, luxury cars, designer clothes, immaculate multi-room houses all emulate a personal choice and even social entitlement within the circles of friends and community these people reside.

As Daniel Gross writes in Slate, those that earn $250,000 in Greenwich, CT would certainly look to be poor based on their neighbor’s affluence (median income levels of $231,138, however, income at that level in Mississippi would represent top earners of most towns (median income of $35,971).

I find it interesting that either by choice or social proof, these earners must finally now evaluate their spending habits and re-align them to reality. All Americans have fallen into this trap of spending beyond our means, and we’ve all checked our spending to accommodate an uncertain future. It’s, however, comical to me for those that make a considerable income more than my family must now whine that they no longer can consume as they so desire.

This mentality of entitlement permeates all classes and whether you’re poor or rich, what ever level of income you do have, never seems to be enough. I hope that Steve Forbes is right, and more people take stock in the human mind, spirit, and imagination for our future.