What the Boss Likes – Finger Lakes vacation, part 1 – geology, food and drink

We’ve not taken a vacation for a couple of years due to various circumstances.  So this year, we decided to go somewhere relatively close to us here in central Pennsylvania but somewhere we’ve never been before.  We chose the Finger Lakes region of New York state, a place full of wineries, restaurants and interesting geology.

First thing I’ll tell you that in my opinion there are too many wineries up there.  The place started in wine production back in the 1800s, had a pause thanks to the utter ridiculous idea of Prohibition, and restarted in the 1970s.  There are some very good ones and then the rest?  Well, it’s far too many people making meh wine to cash in on the tourists.  And the meh wine can be dry or sweet, it’s just not anything special.

There are a few breweries springing up and distilleries. I’ll get into detail on some of them later.  The breweries will likely get too many also since hop production is returning to the Finger Lakes  and the state is offering tax incentives to use them.

The area is very much like where my husband and I grew up, though writ larger with the hills being twice as high and the valleys twice as wide. (nice satellite photo here, the lakes are at the bottom)  As the name indicates, there are lakes, long, narrow and some quite deep (the deepest, Seneca,  getting over 600’ or 188 meters). These are the result of glaciers and very soft rock, mostly shale, created from the erosion of the old mountains on the east coast.

We stayed on Keuka Lake in Hammondsport.  We also spent some time around Seneca Lake, the largest of the lakes.  My husband is having a great time postulating lake monsters, and with US Navy testing equipment in Seneca, it has all sorts of possibilities for stories on how the tests aren’t tests at all…..  🙂

These posts are going to combine stops along the road, reviews of food, wine, etc and of course my opinions.  I’m going to try to keep it vaguely chronological.

long down hill stretch.  Small white rectangle in right of photo is a tractor-trailer.
long down hill stretch. Small white rectangle in right of photo is a tractor-trailer.

We headed up US Route 15 which is pretty much a straight shot between Harrisburg PA and the lakes.  We stopped in Watkins Glen, at the southern tip of Seneca Lake.  It’s the location of the Watkins Glen state park, with great geology.  It also has the Watkins Glen NASCAR racetrack, an American pastime that seems to be nothing more than high-speed chariot racing, with the audience just as blood thirsty as the ancient Romans.    It supposedly had its origins in the bootleggers from Prohibition who had to get their illegal alcohol cargo in and out fast.  (incidentally, my husband’s grandmother, Effie, was one of those bootleggers, she was the hammer girl in the backseat  who would smash the glass bottles so the liquor could drain out the holes drilled in the floor of the car. Thus,  law enforcement would not catch them with the goods).  As you can see, the leaves are beginning to turn colors thanks to autumn in these latitudes.

wildflower café
wildflower café

We stopped for lunch at the Wildflower Café/Crooked Rooster Brew Pub (they stock Rooster Fish Brewing’s ales).   One reason we wanted to stop there is that they have deep fried jalepeno peppers.  Also got a blue cheese burger and a caprese Panini (tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil).  Beers were a good Hefeweizen for myself and a classic Mysterious amber ale for my husband.  Most of the small towns in the area are full of lovely Victorian mansions, results from the old wealth of timber, etc.

Fried jalapenos
Fried jalapenos


After lunch we headed to the state park, right on the edge of town.  The ad copy for the park says that it leaves visitors spellbound.  It also leaves them breathless, literally. The park is a chasm between 200 foot cliffs and has 800 plus steps on slippery rock paths that are all up from the town.  Sometimes they have a shuttle to bring you back down but they didn’t have that when we visited.   You want to be in shape for this and have good shoes.   Also, take water.  There’s plenty of it in the chasm but none to drink.

The park is very similar looking to the slot canyons in the US southwest and other parts of the world, although it’s wetter and darker.   The chasm is lined with walkways, all about one person wide.  They do have walls on them but the walls only go up to about mid-thigh.  If you have issues with heights, I would recommend giving this place a pass.   See photos in the gallery below.

Since my husband and I do like our sword and sorcery fiction, this all looks like where one would be meeting dwarves or elves.   One can imagine just how hard it would be to fight with sword and shield on such a small path.


Next post, more about the wine, mead, whiskey and food.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a return from the past, and more TrueChristian nonsense about women, slavery, and predestination plus an announcement

Thank you, John Z.
Thank you, John Z.

I’m back from vacation. And what do I find?  A great comment to do a blog post on.

One of the TrueChristians from the past has decided to return to the blog.  Ostensibly to see if I was behaving myself.  You know, us women can’t be trusted.  🙂   Of course Woody was around in February and of course couldn’t actually answer questions put to him.  Here’s one outstanding one: “But I’ll play but I need to know when Moses lived. Give me a date. You have one, right?”  Alas, Woody seems unable to provide this date.

Woody has taken it upon himself to remark upon my post about costuming.  He is completely sure that women need to dress “modestly”.   Yes, we have a TrueChristian who is no different from a TrueJew or a TrueMuslim when it comes to telling women to act subservient and to wear only things that won’t make a man all sexually aroused.  It’s truly a pity that these people have evidently no self-control.  I suppose they must walk around constantly besieged by erections like a boy in junior high school.

Dear Woody has seen fit to mention some great bible verses about this from 1 Peter.  He uses this set:

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. (I Peter 3:1-4)”

Unsurprisingly, Woody’s version of TrueChristianity is great for men who are frightened of women.   I also love to see that Christians again disagree on what their god means and wants.   Poor Woody, he so badly wanted me to ask my husband for his answers to Woody’s nonsense and my husband just laughed at such a pitiful man.

We do have to thank him for mentioning 1 Peter.  It’s grand fun to see where it fails again and again.  Let’s look:

“7 The end of all things is near.” 

Yep, real near than hundreds of years have passed and the “end of all things” is no where to be seen.  Let me guess, he’ll claim that “near” really doesn’t mean “near” just like another TrueChristian we’ve seen.

Oh and this one is good Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a return from the past, and more TrueChristian nonsense about women, slavery, and predestination plus an announcement”

What the Boss Likes – Sleepy Hollow, tv series

SleepyHollow1_210x305I’ve found a new favorite on TV.  Sleepy Hollow (beware auto audio will start to play) is great.  A smart female hero,  a smart male hero (and good looking people as both).  Lots of potential conspiracies (Illuminati, anyone?  Covens and the Catholic church?)  And plenty of character actors that we all love.  Clancy Brown (the Kurgan from the Highlander movie, and much voice acting e.g. Lex Luthor on the Superman animated series), the fellow who plays the new Sulu is there (alas for only the first episode).  And the Rolling Stones  “Sympathy for the Devil” as a temporary theme (and how much did that licensing cost? 🙂  )  .

And as part of the teaser for the next episode?  The fellow from the Revolutionary War, having no idea that guns can fire more than one shot.  Watch it, it’s smart, detailed and a lot of fun.  At least in the pilot, hopefully, it will last and not be another great series that only lasts for a handful of episodes.

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – When it’s right to stand up, even if no one stood up before

wecandoitThere is much ado in the media and the interwebs lately about saying “This goes no further.”  where one challenges the status quo and demands a change and where one gets resistance by those who say “there’s no real problem”.

I’m involved, tangentially or directly, in several aspects of this declaration that essentially says “no matter if there was supposedly “no problem” before, there is the recognition of a problem now”.  I’m an atheist (no kidding, eh?), I’m loud about equal rights for everyone, I’m a woman, I’m a gamer and I’m a costumer.   That combination will get anyone into trouble with those who want to claim special privileges for themselves, that they have a “right” to harm/control others.   What’s sad is that some of the folks who were different, who were bullied in school, who never fit in, haven’t realized that they shouldn’t do such things to others.   Many humans act like the worst theists, always declaring what is “pure” and “right”, abusing power and generally acting like jerks.

I’ve done costumes for science fiction conventions before and am looking forward to doing it again which brings this topic up to the forefront of my thoughts and now to my blog.  I won’t call myself a cosplayer because that has the connotation to me of someone who is *vastly* more devoted to the art than I am.

ororoBeing middle aged, a bit softer than I’d like to be, etc, there are some costumes I’d never consider.  I’d love to do Storm from the X=Men in her Mohawk phase, or Wonder Woman in tribute to the awesome Lynda Carter.  That ain’t going to happen, because I’m too self-conscious (Inara from Firefly is something I’d be happy doing).  But other people have no problem with that and they should be able to dress as whom (or what) they please (same as someone should have no problem with dressing up as a character and *not* knowing the entire history of the character verbatim. If they do, great, if not, so the* fuck* what?).  I do occasionally feel sympathy for people who don’t quite hit the mark and who might get ridiculed, sympathy most likely misplaced and unwanted.  The fear of being made fun of is still my one big issue left over from being a nerdy girl and I get really uncomfortable when I think of someone else suffering that. But if they are happy, then that’s what is important.

Thank you, John Z.
Thank you, John Z.

This also applies to women and men who want to wear sexy costumes, or dress sexy.  If they want to show skin and feel comfortable doing it, good for them.  Some folks get plastic surgery done to make themselves feel better.  Bigger breasts: if you like it, then go for it (and guys, they usually aren’t enlarged *for* you, so you don’t own them). I went the opposite direction, smaller breasts made me like myself better (and in my experience, big natural breasts *hurt*).  If they like the attention, that is their prerogative. It is also their prerogative to reject attention if they wish.  They are doing this to have fun, it is no one’s “right” to take that fun away from them by assuming that they want to be touched, hit on, treated as a thing, etc.   That is selfish, stupid harassment, and makes the aggressor seems like a twit with no self-control.   This also applies to gaming, where some idiot thinks that since it’s “just imaginary” this allows for any they want to do.  No, it doesn’t.  It’s a shared world and it’s not just your little playpen (again also why I counter theocratic nonsense, keep your god fantasies in your head, not on my body).  That I’m playing a female character does not mean that this character is yours in anyway.   I experienced pure sexist stupidity in my very first D&D game, let’s strip the female thief to see if she’s stealing from the party.  Yes, it was from a guy, but another guy stepped in.  Guess which one happens to have become my best friend and one true love?  And he’s the reason that I still play, not repulsed off by the twits, since no, they aren’t all “like” that.

Nonsense should not be permitted to go any further, no matter the source.    Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – When it’s right to stand up, even if no one stood up before”

Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – a lovely detailed review of “Christian Nation” claims

Two common subjects on this blog are false statements made by theists, particularly many Christians, and the claims that the United States of American is a “Christian” nation.  This July, a TrueChristian business, Hobby Lobby, took it upon themselves to again run a large ad in major newspapers on July 4th claiming that the US is a Christian nation.  They used all sorts of quotes to support their point.

This year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation ran a competing ad.  And just recently, they put up an interactive webpage that has the text from the Hobby Lobby ad linked directly to the evidence that HL’s claims are wrong.  It’s a great resource on the false claims of Christian Nationalists and demonstrates how much they depend on deceit.


So much for a religion supposed based on truth.  I’m glad I finally got out of it.  The FFRF is kind enough to say HL used “creative editing”.  I have no problem calling them intentional liars.

From the Kitchen and from the Bar – Steak and beers

In our cast iron skillet, complete with spatters.
In our cast iron skillet, complete with spatters.

Steak and beer, the classic American experience.  Might be the classic Australian one too.  One of the benefits of working in the meat department of a very large grocery store is that I can get very nice cuts of meat.  No employee discount but I can have a fellow employee weigh me out my chosen chunk and keep it until I’m done with my shift.

I picked out a particularly fine New York Strip (also known as a club steak, etc including evidently a “porterhouse” steak in Australia that is completely different from the US version of a porterhouse) that was about 2 inches thick. And yes, this is another example of American overconsumption of meat.  This is how I grew up, living on a beef/dairy farm, where I knew and cared for what I ate.  We were poor, but we did always have enough to eat, one of the few benefits farmers often have.

Perfect medium rare
Perfect medium rare

This lovely steak was cooked to perfection by my husband.  We were going to grill out with our charcoal grill but decided to do the steak in the kitchen. We have a great cast iron pan from Lodge that is about 12” in diameter.  We also have a gas stove that can get it very hot.  Placing a couple of tablespoons of oil in the pan (canola or something with a high smoke point, please), my husband got it sizzling hot.  He placed the steak in and then *let it alone*.  After a few minutes, it had formed a black-brown crust on the side that was down and had loosened for flipping.  He repeated this with each long side, then setting the steak on a plate to rest for 10 minutes.  This made for the perfect medium-rare (pink/purple and warm in the center).  The photos are  blurry, but you can see what’s needed.  We do need to get a new camera someday….  I hate to admit it but we had nothing else for that dinner.  Except beer.

I also picked up a six pack of assorted beers.  Here’s what we think of them…

DuClaw Mysterion –  this beer surprised us with its honey gold color considering its rich taste.  It has a very musky honey taste.

Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre – Higher in alcohol, being around 8%, this is a dark brown beer that has a raisiny dark fruit taste.  It’s not as sweet as it could be, which is fine with us.

Troegs Dead Reckoning Porter –  Troegs is a local brewery.  This is a seasonal offering, a hoppy-scented porter that reminds me of grapefruit juice and toast.  It’s cola brown, and though it says it’s unfiltered, it seemed fairly clear.

Finch’s Golden Wing Blonde Ale –  I often like to pick up one of the microbrewery beers that come in cans.  It does make it quite a bit cheaper to ship the stuff.  Finch’s is from Chicago.  The blonde ale has an herbaceous musky taste, like a hoppy Genny.   A good summer beer.

Strongbow Cider – My new favorite cider!  Great stuff, not too sweet like most American hard ciders are.  It also has a nifty logo, which took a few minutes for my eye to resolve as an archer in a Norman helm.  It’s pleasantly dry, and is as golden as sunlight.  This is the cider that I can see my sword and sorcery heroes drinking.

Curmudgeon Old Ale – This is from Founder’s Brewing.  The strongest of the bunch at 9.8% alcohol, it’s a ruddy-gold color.  It is brewed with molasses and aged in oak so you get a lot of strong toffee flavors, though the hops do balance them decently.   It reminds me very much of an old candy called a Mary Jane or a peanut butter kiss, soft molasses taffy with a little peanut butter in the center.

That’s all for now.  Eat and drink well!