A Night Out – Mad Sandwiches, a food truck in Harrisburg

Out of three food trucks I’ve seen here in downtown Harrisburg, the only one that seems to have survived is Mad Sandwiches, a royal blue truck with bright green lettering.  It can be found in two locations in the city on different days, up near the Keystone Building on Forester Monday – Wednesday, and down by Strawberry Square at Walnut and Third at the end of the week.  I generally hit the one near the Square since I do try to only treat myself occasionally and a Friday for lunch works well.   

Tasty fried goodness.

Prices are about average for anything you might get downtown, except for maybe a $5/footlong at Subway.  And, well there is a reason those are only $5.  I’ve fallen into my usual bad habit at a restaurant, finding something good and then being reluctant to try anything else in case I get disappointed.  So, as of now, I’ve only had the beef empanada.  For $2.50 (as of today), I get a tasty fried pie, about 7 inches across the fold, that is filled with beef, veggies, spices and the required green olives. At least I require them, that tangy, savory hit is what makes a empanada not any ol’ meat pie.  It’s deep fried, having the clear blisters on the crust like my dearly lamented fried cherry pies that McDonald’s used to have (always with that one pit to crack my teeth on).  

It comes with either mild or spice sauce. I get the hot and it’s tasty though not much hot at all, appearing to be essentially a salsa verde. Of course, I’m the gal who happily orders vindaloo to be “Indian hot”.  The acidity of the salsa cuts the slight greasiness of the deep fried pie well. 

The soda in the photo is a good basic cream soda. A beer would really rock with this, but as it is, I’m suprised no one bothered me swigging an amber beverage outside. With both it came to $4.  Not bad for something unusual and good, at least here in central Pennsyltucky.    

An empanada and a soda are more than filling for a lunch.  Now I just have to get around to trying those pork sandwiches I’ve heard are so good.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Parade Magazine’s Romney Interview

Parade Magazine, that little insert that often comes in the Sunday paper that I’ve been reading probably since I could read, had an interview with the Romneys on August 26, 2012.  The mag has always struck me as rather conservative and simplistic which can explain the questions asked and the lack of any follow up to them.  Some of the questions caught my eye. (and incidentally, I’d be just as happy to consider any other interviews by any other candidate. Parade will have an interview with President and Mrs. Obama on Sept. 2).

So on to “Mr and Mrs. Romney, some follow up to your pat answers?”  (not all of the interview is addressed, only the parts I found interesting. Use the link above if you think I may be missing any context.)

Governor, your campaign speeches talk about the middle class, but the vast majority of the questions we received from readers asked about your ability to relate to their struggles. In essence, how do you know what it’s like to be someone without means, someone, as one reader puts it, trying to scrape by, living on food stamps?
Governor Mitt Romney: Each of us faces struggles of one kind or another. Our life was not characterized by financial stress as much as it was by health issues. I served as a pastor of a congregation and saw people with various challenges and did my best to help them. I believe my experience in the private sector, the voluntary sector, and government has helped teach me what it takes to help people with different types of challenges.

Politicians are always notorious for ignoring the question and trying only to speak in the sound bites given them by their handlers.  Note that Romney doesn’t answer the question at all.  He has no idea how people live who are poor.  He wants to turn the story back to himself, how hard *he* and Ann have had it, claiming that Ann’s MS is just as bad as being poor.  He of course can’t think about how hard it is for people who are poor *and* who have some debilitating disease.  People can have struggles of many kinds, not one *or* another.  Ann can go ride her horses for therapy.  What therapy does a working mother who has no insurance have?   Romney has no idea and from his actions, does not care. The Multiple Sclerosis Society does not support Romney’s desire to abandon the Affordable Care Act.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Parade Magazine’s Romney Interview”

What the Boss Likes – A small collection of random things

To waste time on a Friday or a weekend…..


Lovely video of Los Angeles at night and quite idealized.

 http://romneygirl.org/   parody and satire (and I love parody and satire) of Aqua’s “I’m a Barbie Girl”

Mr. Rogers remixed, In the Garden of Your Imagination

http://all-that-is-interesting.com/tag/beautiful simply beautiful photos.

http://artofmanliness.com/2012/07/16/a-man-is-punctual-the-importance-of-being-on-time/    This website should often be alled “the art of being a human being”.


What the Boss Likes – The Mormon Candidate

No, the boss doesn’t like Romney, but she likes the BBC documentary “The Mormon Candidate”, which I saw on Current TV last night.  Generally, I find Current about as interesting as CSPAN but occasionally it gets my interest.  It does a great job showing how odd religion is and Mormonism aka Church of Later Day Saints is certainly an odd one.  The oddest?  Hmmm, maybe Scientology with its Xenu, bombs, “thetans” and meters, but how is that much different from a god that is a very human braggart that kills people for keeping its box upright, floods with no evidence, “angels”, and prayers that don’t work?

I do wish the BBC would do the same type of work showing how odd all religions are, because none of them can point and laugh at Mormonism and not be hypocrites about their own religion.  Catholicism and evangelical Christianity would be a great two for one to see the similarities and contrasts of claims of the “true” religion.  


Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Rough Men and taking a stand

Kittens also sleep peacefully – random web picture.

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. – attributed to George Orwell, Winston Churchill etc, and likely to have some basis in Orwell’s comment about Rudyard Kipling: “He sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them.” (1942) and “PACIFIST: Those who ‘abjure’ violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.- Notes on Nationalism, Orwell, 1945 (and worth the read)

The words “Violence is never the answer” have been spewed left and right, by the left and right.  The problem is that it’s a simplistic claim and one that all evidence shows is not true.  Violence might be not the best answer, but sometimes it’s the only answer. One needs a hoe to cut out the weeds that have been allowed to grow through neglect, laziness or willful ignorance.  Often that comes in the form of a war, where some part of humanity has decided that they have some “right” to force their beliefs on others or some “right” to take what they want.  Diplomacy did not work, but physical action did, though at a horrible cost.  The prime example of this is World War II, with two entities, the Nazis and the imperial Japanese, trying to force themselves on others. Would gradualism have worked in these cases, where one hopes that slow change will come about and work?  That is a question that is hard to answer, a simpler one is would you want your descendants living in a world like that for some unknown period until someone stood up and demanded change *and* succeeded? I know which I would want and am grateful for the effort and sacrifice of those before me.  

The quote above has come to us in its current form after some mangling by time and humans, but it still states a worthy observation.  Orwell spoke of secret truths that people, even if they are adamant that they are wrong, must accept in some form; the pacifist in some way acknowledges that they can only remain a pacifist if someone else stands up for them.  If no one does, they are likely either dead by the hands of the aggressor, or are enslaved by him, and in both cases ideals die or at best, are dormant for a very long time.  If no one stands up to forces that would declare that there are only one “chosen” people, women less than human, that there is only one acceptable type of family, then this will never change and we will be dead or enslaved by those who would take advantage of our complacence.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Rough Men and taking a stand”

What the Boss Likes – Pennsylvania Geology

Finally some geology.  I had been wanted to do a bit about the spectacular geology in Pennsylvania for a while now and finally got around to taking my camera long to take shots of a very nice road cut.  Of course, after scrambling up a embankment to get some photos, I find that Google Maps street view has better ones, in large part, than I was able to take with my cheap digital camera. Sigh.   This is along US 322 on the westbound side, just west of the Arch Rock Road exit. (photos were taken from the eastbound side) This was created a few years back when the bottle neck along the Juniata (note, not “Juanita” like the folks on the Weather Channel like to call it) River was opened up with a big road replacement project.  Thank you PennDOT, you took a 1/2 hour off my trip time when I go visit my folks.

Central PA is along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, and this particular bit is in the Ridge and Valley province of the mountains.  At one point, these mountains were as high as the Rockies, formed during various orogenies (aka mountain building events), the latest one being the Alleghenian/Applachian orogeny.  But since physics keeps on working and they were formed a very long time ago, they have eroded down, filling their valleys with sediment.  Much of this sediment is interlayered with coal and has natural gas/petroleum (including that Marcellus gas that’s often in the news) thanks to the burying of swamps from ancient river deltas. What you can see here are their roots, the evidence that plate tectonics exists, and the evidence that no ridiculous stories about a magical flood are true.  I could do a whole post on what’s wrong with the creationist claims but it’s been done better by others, especially potholer54’s videos:  Noah’s Flood Debunked Part 1 and Noah’s Flood Debunked Part 2 .  However, if anyone wants their particular questions answered by me, please ask and I’ll do my best.     

Also, if you can and haven’t already, give money to the Wikipedia Foundation to keep it going. I donate and I link to it a lot.

In the images, there are folds, syncline and anticline, as well as ductile folding (folding without breakage) and brittle folding (where it does break).  Those aren’t as clear as they could be but very striking if you are right there (or have a better camera than mine…).  

Looking westbound. US 322
A longer shot

Here’s the Google Maps street level images.  Make sure to look up and down the exposure to see it all. 


What the Boss Likes – PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference, Harrisburg Crowne Plaza, September 28-20, 2012

Freedom for all

A bit on the side of short notice, I’ve just discovered that the local atheist and free-thought groups in Pennsylvania are having a conference here in the state’s capitol the end of September this year. They have an excellent list of speakers.

I’m not a member of any of the local groups, not being that comfortable around people (anxiety is a bitch), but I do happily support them with letters to the editor, etc. I’m also a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who are one of the sponsors for this event.  So, I may not go myself, but I do want people to know about the conference.  It’s worth going to this in a state where we have legislators declaring a “year of the bible”, creationists trying to force their personal version of their religion on public school students, Governor “Close your eyes” Corbett, et al trying to force their religious views on women and their health care, etc.  Pennsylvania was one of the first thirteen colonies and is one of the places that freedom “rung” first. 

It’s close enough for our friends in surrounding states to come too!  And I promise, we have lots of good places to eat.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – PA’s Voter ID law stands, for now

Poll workers are appreciated. But they need to know how to do the job asked of them if this isn’t all to be a sham. -microsoft clip art

In Pennsylvania, the GOP/TP “suddenly” became alarmed by all of the voter fraud.  They can’t show that it happens in any numbers above fractions of a percent, but oh, they did need to change the laws.  Funny how it wasn’t a problem for them UNTIL a Democrat who happened to not be “white” won the presidency. This Voter ID law is still in effect, a preliminary injunction being denied by Judge Simpson. 

Now, I vote and I find it is my duty.  I have already shown my ID at during the primaries.  However, what I noted, that though the poll workers are doing their best, they have no way to determine if I was whom I said I was. They looked at my ID.  It was several years, and at least 30 pounds ago (yay, South Beach Diet).  I’m guessing that they looked at the expiration date too.  So?  Nothing says that can’t be changed.  I can also pretty much accurately guess that few of these people have ever seen a US passport or have any idea what colleges are in Pennsylvania or anywhere.  

I was curious, just what training do they get for this ever-so important new law.  Well, per the Department of State website: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/poll_worker_training/12373  the training videos still up on it have that they have to ask for ID, and a power bill, bank statements,  voter registration card, etc are still perfectly fine as ID.  Am I being too harsh on the DOS for not updating its website?  I don’t think so, since it’s the only thing I’ve found so far on how poll workers are trained and this video is at best from: Modified Date: 11/23/2009 01:21 PM  I update a website as part of my job.  If I can do it, so can they, especially for such an important matter.  There are *no* excuses that are acceptable.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – PA’s Voter ID law stands, for now”

A Night Out – Otto’s Pub and Brewery

Last week we ventured up to State College, PA, home of Penn State University.  Husband had a job interview up there and I acted as pilot so he could spend sometime relaxing before getting grilled about various kinds of IT craziness.

As usual, we looked for somewhere to get food and a beer up there since we rarely get up in that area.  We found Otto’s Pub and Brewery, a microbrewery based restaurant just out on North Atherton Street (and yes, as a fan of Firefly, and most especially the episode “Shindig”, I snicker every time I say Atherton).

Alas, I did not have my camera with me to take pictures of the place and the food.  The building is very new, with an addition currently being added onto it.  The décor is basic industrial brewpub with the HVAC innards displayed.  What makes this place interesting is the banners and signs displaying the logos of Pennsylvania breweries long past.  Very nice touch and I’m sure probably helps cut down on the crowd noise.  I can imagine this place really hopping when there is a game in town.

The staff was very friendly and we were immediately seated at a nice booth.  A bar occupies the center of the main room, in an “L” shape with a plentitude of taps (they also have cocktails and other beers in addition to their own).  A good sized flat screen TV showed the Olympics.  For our first beers, I got the Apricot Wheat and husband got the Hefeweizen.  The Apricot Wheat had a strong scent of the stone fruit but not sweet.  Definitely one of the best I’ve had of this type.  The hefeweizen was good but not exceptional.  If you like the type, you’ll like this. 

We both ordered sandwiches but everything on the menu looks tasty. Otto’s is very committed to local sourcing, which in PA, gets you a lot of variety.  I got a daily special, a jalepeno burger, which looked to have both jalepenos and green chilis.  It also had thick cut bacon (which I could easily bite through!)  and a smoked cheddar.  The burger was one of the rare ones that was actually juicy and cooked through with no pink squishiness in the center. I will happily eat steak tartar and carapaccio, but when I want a burger I want it with some good browning on the outside.  We cook our burgers at home out of 73/27 burger which has enough fat in it to keep it juicy and have it well grilled.  I got the hand cut fries with it.  

Husband got the beef on wick, a riff on the western NY “beef on weck”,  ultra thinly sliced smoked beef brisket on a bun topped with caraway and coarse salt, horseradish sauce, and a bit of au jus on the side.  Always curious on how one is supposed to wedge a fat bun into a little ramekin, but after taking a bite, you can get a corner in.   He got the sweet potato fries, one of the best versions of those I’ve seen, cut in the rippled shape so there are lots of crispy edges.  They did resemble caterpillars though, very scrumptious caterpillars. 🙂   Husband also got a second beer, their Spruce Creek Lager, which has a very nice hoppy floral hit but little bitterness. 

I would have liked to have tried more of their beers but here’s to my husband getting hired and me having all the time I want to sample.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – War on Religion

 The culture wars have been revived yet again by the Romney campaign. Unable to get people to stop asking him for his tax records, and pointing out he has no economic plan other than Bush policies taking to extremes, Romney has returned to the usual attempts to create wedge issues between Americans, right out of the McCarthyism playbook. Conservatives want to be the sole arbiters on : Who has the right “values”?  Who are “true Americans” or “true Christians”, etc and how do we tell? Who “deserves” the rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution?  

And thus, despite their own claims of a war on religion being waged by President Obama and some bogeyman “libbuls”, we have them waging a war of religion themselves on those believers who don’t agree with their particular religion and sect.  What of those who have completely different religions?  Do these other religions have a the same rights as the religious “right” claims they have? 

Perhaps more importantly, from the viewpoint within the US, what of those Christian believers who do agree with allowing gay marriage, who do support the separation of church and state? Who think that government is a good way (if not perfect) to help the “least among you”?  These are their values as much Christian as those who would claim that their god hates such things.  Would their religious beliefs be just as protected as the radical right wants theirs to be?  Or would they be considered not “Christian” enough to qualify for those protections? As it stands, it certainly seems not. Romney, and those who support him, however reluctantly, only want their beliefs and their religion to be what everyone must follow. As Freud said succinctly: “A religion, even if it calls itself the religion of love, must be hard and unloving to those who do not belong to it.”Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 192 

Let’s consider what a “war on religion” would be in reality.  Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – War on Religion”