Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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Contentment

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
contentment (n)
1. Happiness with one's situation in life
Anyone believe in the concept of a perfect day? I think I experienced one today despite the fact I was working during it. It may not have been a life altering day like Phil Connors finally experienced, but as I sit here writing this I feel a level of content and pleasure I have not experienced in a long, long time.

The real estate company I work for put me in charge of a new project which was the focus of my day today. I am creating an online relocation presentation designed to educate people interested in moving to the Orlando metropolitan area. Each presentation takes a particular area, Orlando, Winter Park, Lake Mary, Altamonte Springs, etc., and highlights the various homes available, community developments, social and recreational activities, major shopping complexes and things of that nature. The first part of this project is to go around to these various parts of town and take pictures. I did this all day long.

It was such a beautiful day. I drove with the windows down, sunroof open, the wind in my hair. I think I may have actually gotten a little sun as well, which is badly needed on my very white body. I need to go to the beach soon, too, but during the day (I usually go at night).

Since I was given the company digital camera I have been taking lots of non-work related pictures as well, most of which will be posted to the Gallery soon.

A lot of little good things have been happening lately and I believe they have unlocked that part of me that has been absent too long. That part of me that can just accept things at face value and enjoy life, instead of fearing it. I am not lonely anymore. I do not want a relationship right now. I am excited about work, my side projects and life in general. I am happy.

A Capital Weekend, Part II

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Well it certainly has taken me long enough to write the rest of my weekend in Tallahassee. Things around here have been somewhat crazy with being really busy at work, having a few on-site support clients, a new hosting client sign-up and my being sick over the weekend. Work today has calmed down slightly so here is the rest of "A Capital Weekend."

Hanging out at the house in Tallahassee is always a great escape. As I mentioned before despite it only being four hours away from Orlando, when in Tallahassee it is very easy to forget you are even still in Florida. The weather is cooler, there are many more trees and wooded areas and the geographical landscape includes hills and inclines, a sharp contrast to the flatness that is the rest of Florida.

Saturday was a carefree, relaxing day. Having finally gone to bed around 0800 the night before, I woke up around 1600 and watched Office Space with Erik and Steven. As the dinner hour approached, Matt joined the three of us and we went to The Olive Garden. Afterwards we went to ABC and picked-up some essential Saturday night beverages which we tapped into before heading to Brothers sans Steven and Matt, but with Claire. We all had a great time there as well.

One interesting thing about Brothers as compared to other similar clubs is that as soon at 0200 hits, the lights come on and the Tallahassee Police officers that mill about direct everyone with flashlights and whistles to get out. Nothing like telling a club filled with intoxicated people to leave in the same breath as they have just taken their last shot before last call is final. So then begins the trek outside where those who were not fortunate enough to find a friend for the rest of the evening thus far can meet and greet. That is until the police make their way outside and tell everyone to go to their cars and leave. It does provide for an interesting few minutes as I generally like to stick around until asked to leave the parking lot just to watch the meet and greet take place.

At Brothers, Claire knew someone from work so we ended up chatting with him for a better part of the evening. During the meet and greet time, we said goodbye to him and someone he met while there. His name was Gabriel and he was a nice looking guy. Erik and Claire suggested I could invite the two of them back to the house for more cocktails and whatever, but I decided not to because I did not want to deal with any drama. Not that there would have been any by default, but it seemed like a possible thorn in my weekend of non-expectations. That said if you are reading this Gabriel, send me an e-mail. Ok, so anyway...

Claire and Erik requested a Steak 'n Shake run which was fine by me, though I had no interest in eating. As Claire noted in her journal, our experience there was less than stellar. The waitress brought out the food with no silverware or napkins, came by not once to check on us or refill our drinks and did not bring all of Claire's ordered meal. When Claire told the manager about this at the cash register, he said nothing; no apology, no fuck you. Simply nothing, except the total bill was modified to $4.00. Upon arrival back at the house, Erik, Steven and myself continued with the beverages and even enjoyed a cigar that their father brought back from Key West. Not a Cuban, per se, but at least rolled by hand by Cubans who now live in the States. Or at least that is what they said.

Sunday was pretty uneventful, aside from the normal hanging our and beveraging. Dinner at local seafood joint Barnacle Bill's with Erik and Steven was splendid. I am not one for tartar sauce, but they have a semi-spicy tangy tartar sauce that I really liked. So much, in fact, that with the fish I had boxed to take home I asked to have an extra side of the sauce added to my take away package. I indeed enjoyed it several days later back in Orlando.

I had originally planned on leaving around 2000 which turned into 2300 which became 0200 Monday morning, but oh well. The crap day I had at work Monday fully made up for the excellent time I had during the weekend "away from it all."

A Capital Weekend, Part I

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Since it had been nearly a year since my last venture there, this past weekend I drove myself up to the capital city, Tallahassee. The weekend was exactly what I needed to just unwind for a few days and not really think about anything too seriously. Sobriety was also highly overrated. I love hanging out with my friends that rent a house there as they go to various levels of schooling, undergraduate and graduate, at the home of the Seminoles, Florida State University. It may only be a four-hour drive from where I live, but the weekends there away from Orlando can feel like you are on the other side of the world.

In order to help avoid Tropical Storm Henri which was making landfall to the west around the time I was planning on travelling from Orlando to Tallahassee, I decided to take Interstate-95 North to Jacksonville and then catch Interstate-10 West from there. The storm never did drop any rain on me the entire weekend, but regardless, in addition to being more comfortable with this route as a function of having driven it significantly more than the alternative route Interstate-75, it also provided me the opportunity to stop in Jacksonville and get some food.

When I lived in Jacksonville one of the things that bothered me the most was the wide-spread lack of credit card acceptance in restaurants. And even those that did take plastic were right in line with just about every other store and restaurant in closing really, really early (sometime between nine and ten in the evening). I stopped at both McDonald's and Wendy's to be reminded that they do not accept anything but cash. Jacksonville sucks for this and many other reasons, but I always did enjoy the interesting dining experience provided by local restaurant chain Famous Amos. Not to be confused with the cookies of the same name, Famous Amos is a sit-down western themed "family" restaurant offering quite the variety of menu items, served 24-hours a day and payable with Visa and MasterCard. Famous Amos is really quite terrible, though. The place is bordering on dirty, the staff is unpleasant and inattentive while the clientèle make you want to donate your DNA to as many locals as possible to help stop the production of such incessant weirdos. If it were not for their Cheeseburger De Luxe with Bacon, served with French fries, I would never visit this horrible restaurant again.

Turns out my visit to Famous Amos, the first in just about a year, would provide no alternate perspective to my dining experience there. After seating myself as is the practice, I waited without being spoken to by anyone, including a manager who had been making the rounds, for just over ten minutes. Only after flagging down a waitress and asking her if the section was closed did I finally get a waitress to assist me. Barely. But damn it, as soon as a sunk my teeth into that burger I remembered why I put up with all of the above to eat there again and again. Including my fountain drink, the total for this meal is $6.47 so you cannot go wrong there. And you do not have to ever worry about leaving a lot of money as tip; it is not often warranted.

I realised while I was sitting in Famous Amos that it was two years to the exact date that I moved to Jacksonville. That was a little strange, however amusing. The other thing I remembered was that notwithstanding the hicks and rednecks, there are some really attractive boys in that town.

Now having detoured a total of two hours between my having left Orlando late, driving around credit-free town on the quest for food, spending way too much time at Famous Amos and having to negotiate the detour on Interstate-95 at the Interstate-295 junction (what a clusterfuck that was, let me tell you) I got back on the road, Tally Ho!

Having used to make the Orlando-Jacksonville-Tallahassee trips much more often, I have little regular things I tend to do during the drive. For example, as I continued west on Interstate-10 I made a pit stop at the rest area just inside the border of the Osceola National Forest. It was now around 2330 and there were only a few other normal, non-truck drivers at the stop. As I walked up the path toward the restroom, the smell of both the wooded area that surrounded completely and the chemicals used to clean the restrooms wafted toward me. I stopped and looked at the informational signs and maps talking about the location, indigenous wild and plant life and gave a history of the area. I completely had a flashback of being a child driving cross country (twice) with my family all by car. I loved travelling like that and had developed a pretty hearty desire to commute long distances by car whenever possible. My nostalgia really reminded me nicely of some of the simple things I really enjoy doing but as of late have let go by the wayside.

I continued west until I got to my next typical pit stop, Exit 225 (formerly 33), US 19 to get some fuel and a beverage for the final twenty minute stretch to Tallahassee. I always go to Brittany's Texaco Truck Stop (formerly Tank-N-Tummy) which has a gas station, convenience store and Arby's restaurant. I got gas and went inside to pay as they do not have a pay at the pump system there yet. Monticello, Florida is pretty remote so I can understand why not. While inside I saw a very overweight man in a muumuu, got pissed off at the indecisive woman in front of me in line who could not figure out what brand or how many packs of cigarettes she was going to purchase and was bothered by the strange man in line behind me who if were standing any closer might have actually started to share the same molecules as me.

I got back on the road, arrived in Tallahassee about two hours late and started my weekend of relaxation and mindless enjoyment with a tasty alcoholic beverage.

Restaurant Review: Crazy Buffet

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
If you live in Orlando, Tampa or West Palm Beach, Florida and are a fan of Asian cuisine, you must visit Crazy Buffet. Billed as an "up-scale Asian fusion buffet," Crazy Buffet offers the convenience and variety of a do-it-your-self restaurant with the quality and ambiance of a mid-range sit down.

As you enter the carefully decorated and detailed interior, a stark contrast from the strip plaza it is housed within, the first and rather prominent fixture you will notice is the fresh sushi and sashimi bar. The sushi bar is worth the price of admission alone with its fifty or so varieties, freshly crafted by skilled sushi chef's right there behind the buffet line. Moving along you come across the made-to-order hibachi grill and wok. Past these items are rows upon row of fresh seafood, including peel and eat shrimp, shrimp cocktail, oysters, snow crab, mussels and scallops. Seafood not your thing? Name a meat or vegetable and this buffet will likely have it prepared in traditional Asian style. Oh, I almost forgot the eight soup selection, full salad bar, fresh fruit and vegetable station and desserts.

For me, the mark of a quality ethnic dining experience is two-fold. First, the clientèle eating at the establishment should be of racial variety, but I do expect to see "natives" dining as well: Chinese at a Chinese restaurant and so on. The second is very similar in that I want to see natives present, but in this case they should be members of the staff. At Crazy Buffet I was pleased to see a healthy variety of both. My logic on this issue is that if it is a true representation of an ethnic or cultural culinary art, then those who are supposedly represented should be there preparing, serving and consuming it as well. They should want to. A notable example of a restaurant to tries so very hard to establish this yet prospers mostly in part to the credulousness and trend wannabe nature of some is the atrocious P.F. Chang's China Bistro. I find that restaurant to be an abomination. But before I pull a Carson Kressley, let P.F. Chang's not steal the limelight away from a place who knows how to pull it all together.

In addition to everything else, Crazy Buffet offers a full liquor bar that you can feel free to eat at, both spacious and cosier dining rooms of varied size, catering, banquets and a live piano musician. The service was mostly unnecessary, but dirty plates were never lingering and my beverage always freshly refilled. Dinner is $17.95 per person and soft drinks are $1.79. It is really an incredible deal considering what is offered. The only thing I would say could use an overhaul at Crazy Buffet is their website. JPEG compression destroys images! Hello?!

Conclusion: Go eat there now!