Well maybe someday, but since I have been on them recently it piqued (not sure if i used the right word there, sorry…) my interest to see on Slate an Article about Antibiotics and the rise of Phages again, in places like ex soviet states, where antibiotics were never really practical as they couldn't afford them. Phages have advantages and disadvantages, which the article discusses, but it seems to me that this would be another example of the FDA possibly keeping certain medical procedures away that may harm as many as they help, but prevent us from really learning about them (this is of course an ethical question to some degree, but seems to remove many of the freedoms we hypothetically think we have, and may or may not be glad we don't actually have) None the less check it out at Slate "Eat Me: The Soviet method for attacking infection that we can learn from." On a side note the article also mentions the book Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis, which I read in college and remember thinking was going to be a chore, but I really got into and enjoyed (it relates to Phages, yeah sounds fun!)
So unfortunatly the other day I paid a visit to the emergency room, to have my finger looked at as I had hurt it, either playing hockey, or possibly around the house, not clear, but somehow I got it hurt and it lead to an infection, which led to pain, more pain and then the hospital visit. Two points I would make, maybe more if I start rambling. The first was just an observation I had about my thumb, and it reminded me of a work we read in a great class I took in college on Medicine in America, that discussed how we view a body part, in this case our thumb, once its injured. Normally we don't think of our digits as seperate, i never look that closely at my fingers really, they are kinda just 'there'. Once an injury occurs the part (again I am taking this from something I read, and remembered, but also experienced) becomes severable, the pain is in the thumb, you could imagine it being removed, you can notice the small details, the differences in the swollen finger from the normal one. There is something strange about focusing and thinking about one finger, one you normally go days without noticing. Tying your shoes becomes a chore, shaving as well, using either the left hand or other fingers takes on the feeling it had when you started (insert primary school joke here)
Of course if sadly one loses their hands, or fingers, or legs, you do begin to adapt, as one of the climbers in the imax everest movie I watched the other day will have to do, after losing both hands to frostbite. Yet seeing him, or seeing someone with some other disability doesn't really give you even the slighest real feeling of what its like to lose even just ONE finger, let alone not lose it, but just bandage it up. So I've ventured off subject, I actually had meant to write about universal health care, something you probably wouldn't have cared about anyway, but everytime I see a hospital I get back to thinking why should insurance be something tied to our employment? It is really just a fluke of history in this country, even if we want private healthcare, tying it specifically to our jobs is ridiculous. Anyway thats that.
Lastly I've started and gotten pretty far in a book called How Soccer Explains The World, which I've found quite enjoyable, not just because were headed to the World Cup in a couple of weeks. So I'll try and mention something about that when I finish it. Hopefully my thumb won't keep me from posting, but your sake I suppose its best if it does.
The NYTimes has a story "Interns? No Bloggers Need Apply" – that goes over a number of cases where interns, including one at Comedy Central, made blogs about their work, leading companies to either change polices about such publications, or create guidelines in the first place. The problem is that people are increasingly airing dirty laundry about their work environments online, in less then subtle fashions (including a Washington staff member and a fashion worker, both of whom have turned their 'tell-all' blogs into book deals). Clearly these businesses have a lot at stake here and need to be careful about their employees, who can at the push of a button put up for millions not just trade secrets, but the office gossip which can be almost equally damaging. As a blogger myself I don't really feel to much sympathy for the crackdown, as it is quite obvious to me that it just isn't a smart thing to be discussing such things if your intending to stay with your job and to get one in the future (the Anonymous Lawyer Blog has led to a Harvard Law student being unhireable as a lawyer–even though its a fictional blog–however he has landed a book deal to write a book based on the 'character', personally I don't think the character is that great and question how it would work in a novel length piece, not to mention the possibly limited market for such a work)
The Perfect Meal…
Does such a thing exist, the perfect meal? Is it reserved two months ahead in a Napa or New York restauraunt? Is it a poorly reheated can of chili and white bread eaten after 10 hours of hiking, with the cold wind and rain being held back by a thin layer of plastic sheeting, supported by your non-fork hand?
These are all great options, anticipation, hunger, environment—all play a role in the perfect meal. It cannot be predicted when the elements combine and one experiences such a meal.
One such perfect meal occurred yesterday (May 16) in one of the northern most parts of Argentina in Igazu, not far, only about 10km from the famous Igazu falls and the borders of Brazil and Paraguay.
The day had begun early in Buenos Aires with my cell phone alarm ringing at 5:30am and subsequently a wake up call a few minutes later. A remiso (a kind of taxi) was waiting at 6am to take us to the domestic airport which sits on the river plates right by the downtown of Buenos Aires.
The flight to Igazu is only and hour and forty minutes, but the changes from Buenos Aires are astonishing. Igazu is a rainforest, a sub-tropical one, where over four-hundred species live in a protected national park, the second earliest such park created in Argentina.
The falls of Igazu in no way resemble Niagara Falls in Ontario. There are no wax museums sitting inches from the fall. Instead, the town had queues of over a hundred cars (literally) at the YPF for gas (it was apparently the cheapest in town).
Dinner in Argentina begins late by American standards, usually at 9 or 10pm. Following a six hour walking tour of the Falls my family had taken to napping and I indulged with a Quilemes cerveza by the pool of our hotel before also joining the late afternoon/evening napping craze.
Waking up at 9pm, dinner was now in order and it was suggested to head downstairs to the hotel restaurant. I countered this with a suggestion to take a 5 peso (just under $2) taxi ride into town, about a 10 minute drive away and to try our luck with a restaurant in town. A remiso was called and we headed into town, past the gas queues and a few restaurants. The driver suggested a restaurant and we accepted his choice, despite his familiarity with the staff there. Walking into El quinto we past through first a patio room, followed by another large room, arriving finally to a main room with a local band of 3 playing and the wine selections prominently displayed on the wall closest to us.
Like many Argentine spots this restaurant sported a Parilla (coal fired bbq grill), which I intended to test. However, first wine was to be selected and following a recommendation, a Trezeras de las Andes Reserva Malbec was chosen. The wine was opened and poured into the oversize glasses revealing a subtle, yet bold red that was not sweet, with its tannins in check. It sipped smoothly even without the later to join beef.
Dinner for me was Beef de Lomo, beef loin and it was cooked medium rare, unlike the unfortunately often overcooked Argentine beef, the only possible complaint one can launch against the countries beef.
Gin was once described to me in college as running through a pine forest with your mouth open. Argentine beef, and specifically this steak, are similar except the pine is replaced by the grass of the pampas, presenting a gamey, yet has a softness and mildness that yields easily. The argentine beef has a taste that is starkly absent from the feed lot steer we are so accustomed to here. The flavor is not pungent, but following a turn over the carbon (coal) the meat reaches a state of flavor and texture that is subline—it invokes everything stereotypical of the gauchos and the pampas at once and also rejects it, with a refined edge that lingers above.
The beef and wine take center stage although occasionally a stray potato or bite of salad, or a taste of the salsa chimichurri enter the mix. The beef and wine dance, not a tango, but instead something more primitive, bouncing and stomping on each other in my mouth. The flavors amplifying one another and striving for center stage. They are not subtle, they are friends, and they merge into one golden palate.
Was this the perfect meal? Maybe, its hard to know. At the time and place it was a sublime experience that makes one appreciate the senses of taste, smell and sight that we have at least in the short run.
While we have a Moritz Hockey team that played together, this quarter we only had four of us sign on, leaving the Maroons, our adopted B league team open for undergrads to fill up. Despite all of this it was a fun season, culminating last night in the Championship game (I was actually surprised to hear we were still playing as being away from school, you forget that the rest of the University is still going) So bring on the Championship and the elusive tshirt it brings with it.
I got to the rink 15 minutes early to get my skates sharpened, having found them in my Sunday night game almost unskateable. Slowly our team trickled in, but we were short a lot of people, in fact 8 short, leaving us with 2 defensive lines and 2 attack lines. Undeterred by the numbers of our opponent we proceeded to play a great game, taking a 2-0 lead right up to the end. All of this changed with about 1:30 left in the 3rd period when we let in a goal, from a poaching attackman for the other team. Later, with an extra attacker, with their goalie pulled, the other team sucked the wind out of us by tying it up with less then a minute in the game. We turned on the attack and drew a penalty which we were able to carry over to overtime, but we were unable to capitalize, so with only 30 seconds left in the five minute overtime, they scored the game winner. While it was a sad loss, it was a great game one of the most fun I've played in for a while, possibly due to the huge amount of ice time we all logged, or because we had to communicate better and try and keep our shifts short and play more strategically. While I can't say I am a huge fan of hanging out with freshman and hearing about their lives as it only serves to make us in lawschool feel that much older, there is something also fun about seeing what it is like to be a freshman at a Big10 school. So a champions tshirt will have to wait until next year…
Its only fitting that I welcome back after a 5 month absense due to 'server problems' Professor Edward Lee's blog, cleaverly entitled 'Lee Blog'. I say its fitting only because I occasionally gave him a hard time about the lack of blogging due to his role in encouraging me to start a blog last summer when I had him as a professor in Oxford, for a course on International Intellectual Property. In any event I usually like to check his blog out (or I did) as it usually has a good take on some current IP issues, especially in the tech area, which I am interested in.
I just finished sweeping up and cleaning the front porch and sitting here now, enjoying the wonders of WIFI, I thought I mention my first cooking I did when I got back to Columbus the other day. I hadn't gone to the store, so I was limited in my ingredients, but when I had a call from my roommate who was at Giant Eagle, the supermarket nearby I asked them to pick up a whole chicken, which I hoped to grill. For some reason I had the urge to grill it the way I saw in Portugal, where they butterfly the whole chicken, but left it intact. This isn't the best way to cook a chicken on the grill as different pieces cook differently, but something about placing the whole chicken on the grill was in my mind. Once on the grill, only with grey salt, pepper and olive oil I set about making some Chimichurri-esq sauce, the sauce I love so much from Argentina. From the front porch I cut from my potted herbs, cilantro, basil, oregano, thyme and maybe something else. This wasn't going to be following any recipe for the sauce I had, but basically making use of what I had. I place the herbs, which I first loosely chopped in my little Cuisineart prep chopper with some cloves of garlic, some salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and a decent amount of the green Tabasco (jalapeño). Generally chimichurri uses red wine vinegar, but I had none and instead used half white balsamic and half rice wine vinegar and then a decent amount of olive oil. I let it whirl, adjusted the seasoning a bit and was amazed at my creation. Something just tasted right, be it the concoction, or be it that it came from my front porch, but the sauce just worked, over my chicken, asparagus which is in season now locally and the best, with a good baguette. So while Chimichurri wasn't on every table the way we do with ketchup, as I had been led to believe, down in Argentina, I intend to keep it around mine as often as I can.
Normally I am quite busy, usually with school, but i find myself now with a week between school (well really from getting back from my trip) and starting my summer work, and while during the semester I never have time to run the errands or to get around to various little tasks I need to get done. Of course despite not being able to do these, I have no trouble coming up with things that need to be done, always something else I wish I had time to get to, to read, to shop for, to cook, the list always grows. Somehow the moment I have all day free I find it hard to remember all these things to do. Its not that I've been too lazy to do them (although I wouldn't put it past me) but that things like putting up curtains in my room to block out the street light that shows through mhy blinds, I somehow forget when time suddenly exists. I've tried to setout a schedule of things in my mind, cleaning various areas of the house, running errands that needed running, making calls I've put off, but its tough with such an open schedule somehow. It might just be my mind, but somehow I guess I appreciate the person, be it the housewife or whoever, who is able to get all these things done without the framework and duedates that surround a job, or in my current case school.
Just getting back from South America and having my interested temporarily piqued on the subject of their politics (hopefully not just temporarily actually) I was interested to see that this weeks Economist had their cover piece on the "The Battle for the Latin America's Soul" While unfortunately the issue didn't delve as much into the different issues as I had hoped, based on seeing the cover, the lead piece, was quite good at discussing why we (the west etc.) are getting interested and or fearful about the left of Latin America, as well as the danger in the papers view, that Chavez and now Morales in Bolivia.
I've had a split mind on the subject of these nationalizing folk, on one hand it is true that in many ways their country’s have been abused for the purpose of exports by the western companies. Earlier on, it was seeing the cancer causing mineral mines in Peru that helped engage Che Guevara in his leftist cause. Yet the paper is right in criticizing Chavez, who having taken over the oil in Venezuela has not really brought about the changes and improvements that he had promised the poor of Venezuela. It was easy to turn to him and others during hard times and to blame the problems of capitalism, but when money from resources dries up, during lower commodity prices, countries like Brazil and Chile who are more focused on improving their human capital will likely see less troubles. Unfortunately the Economist predicts that Venezuela is more likely to be on a path to Nigeria, a failed "petro-state" than towards Cuba. Similarly I feel some of the Middle East, who choose to revel in their oil wealth all the while ignoring the creation of other future means of income are heading down a disastrous road. Further affirming the curse of natural resources…
So in anticipation of writing a few posts on my recent trip to South America, I thought I'd give a brief intro. Argentina, is a country of immigrants, which many people here do not seem to realize. Just as in the US, settlement in Argentina led to the killing of almost all of the indigenious people. Again, similar to the US many cultures have come together to create the 'Argentine' culture, and many different foods ares staples, including spanish and italian influences and of course the beef.
Surprisingly, at least to me, Argentine food is generally not highly spiced. Dinners with our family consisted of pasta, pizza, empenadas, fried beef, and of course the parilla of grilled beef, lamb and chorizo. These grilled meats however are not served highly seasoned or sauced the way some may be used to in the US, also I had been led to believe thatChimichurri sauce would be on everytable , a la, ketchup in the US. I found this not to be the case, but everyplace would serve their version (and it turns out there are many more versions than the one I had been making, which feature lots of parsley) — For those who are in the dark, Chimichurri sauce, or at least the one I make, is parsely , olive oil, vinegar, garlic, hot peppers, salt, pepper, paprika and is an amazing sauce to serve with basically anything, or to dip bread in.
Unlike the US (all the comparisons were bound to stop) Argentina has not had stable governance since their Independence in the early 1800s, through a series of democratic and dictatorships Argentina has suffered, including 30,000 'disappeared' who remain unaccounted for from the last dictatorship, which fell shortly after the Falklands war. The current government that followed and was elected didn't mean smooth sailing, as economic crisis hit in the 1990s, including the unpegging of the peso to the dollar, which would leave many Argentines with the loss of their savings. Despite all this the city today appears to be booming in some areas, including the new development area for the very wealth in Puerto Madero.