spectating participant

February 23, 2008

Sum too much!

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 6:02 pm

I woke up with a sever hankering for Dim Sum — I feel it’s related to re-watching Eat Drink Man Woman last night. After talking about it for an hour or so, Chris finally realizes I’m pretty serious about this craving and suddenly it’s a possibility.

We’ve tried a few places, none of which are local to our current home, and have been most impressed food and cost wise with A&J in Rockville and repeat customer at Jesse Wong’s in Columbia. Both Rockville and Columbia felt like a hike but my craving wasn’t gonna go away just because it was going to take almost an hour to get here. In searching for someone a little closer, I found a listing for a place called Oriental Manor that is in Ellicott City, slightly closer than Columbia, that had some positive and some negative reviews for Dim Sum. A little more searching for more reviews informed me the place had just changed ownership and names, Asian Court, and had just re-opened a few weeks ago. There were a few not-so-positive reviews of food and service, but nothing talked about Dim Sum. I was a bit nervous trying a new place, but also didn’t feel like driving all the way into Columbia for Dim Sum that is okay but not great.

We got to Asian Court at prime Dim Sum hour on a Saturday (11:30) and there were a few other tables already seated. Upon sitting we got immediate service from picking the type of tea we wanted and the first cart was upon us. At one point, it seemed that we had about 8 wait staff and two carts at our table in some crazy frenzy of selections. We were doing our best to pick things we knew we liked, try something new, and get stuff that the two kids with us would like.

There were language issues in that no one was able to really translate what was being offered. This usually isn’t a big deal, but when picking items that are also kid friendly, it’s nice to have a general idea of what you’re getting. A few months ago, taking my mom out for Dim Sum, we were much more content to constantly repeat “we don’t know” to her never ending questions about what things were and just picked based on appearance.

I am very impressed with Alex’s friend who’d never tried Dim Sum but was willing to try anything that sounded good; picky Alex only ate from 2 of the dishes we ordered (sticky rice and pork). We found everything to be pretty good, plus some new items that were stellar (a green scallion dumpling and a shrimp/crab dumpling). They convinced us to try a bitter melon dish that was way too bitter for our palette, but otherwise all of their suggestions were well received. Of the 12 dishes we picked, we were only dissatisfied with 3 of the: the bitter melon dish, a meat dumpling that was just boring, and roast pork in flaky pastry that did live up to the roast pork bun.

The prices were $3.25 - $3.95 for the dishes we picked; we weren’t offered any larger dishes while we were still hungry enough to try them (Alex normally likes to get a large meat dish, but they didn’t bring one out until we were done). For the 12 dishes we ordered, the bill was over $50.00 with tip. This seems a little high, but I didn’t leave feeling cheated either. We all left stuffed beyond reason and Chris and I ended up in a food coma for most of the afternoon.

Overall, if Asian Court in Ellicott City is local to you, it’s probably worth the trip for dim sum. Several of their dishes were excellent, most were very good, and we didn’t even trying 1/3 of what they had available. I wanted to try more, but my stomach couldn’t accommodate any more than it did.

February 20, 2008

OS X Mail Rules and User Intelligence

Filed under: geek — suzanne henderson @ 1:58 pm

For months I’ve been very frustrated about the limited power of mail’s rules to do what I want. What I wanted was to review all messages from an email list I’m on and only keep the ones with a certain subject line. To try and make do, I made rule after rule deleting all the messages with other subject lines but that wasn’t enough and was too labor intensive too.

I saw that applescripts could be of some help but I didn’t want to go that direction. What I really wanted was the ability to say if message matched x and any of y (with lots of variables) then do z.

After months of random search failures, my brain finally flipped on a switch when it remembered that the rules are run in order of preference and that I could simply make two rules to do what I wanted. The first rule found the messages I wanted to keep and sorted them into the proper folder. The second rule deleted everything else. Here I spent so much time being frustrated when a rather simple solution was waiting for me the entire time.

I still feel like it would be useful if you could have rules that with more options that just “match any” or “match all” because I can see lots of instance where you’d want to run a rule on all messages from a certain sender that match a variety of (aka “any”) variables. As far as I can tell, short of writing an applescript to do this, it isn’t an option at this time.

February 11, 2008

which is worse, termites or home improvements?

Filed under: house — suzanne henderson @ 10:56 am

I’ve been calling Chris a termite lately — mostly because of the latest steps taken to get more of the wiring replaced in our lovely old house. This has been a bit by bit project since we moved in, basically he’ll tackle and outlet or switch at a time and usually it isn’t too complicated. But, I think all the simple wire replacements have been done and now all thats left are ones that are a little more invasive.

The first sign that this might be a little more project than I was prepared for was the not so small hole that was cut into our bedroom wall. To give him lots of credit, it is in a very un-obvious place and, of course, can always be patched. But, this was needed to access staircase wiring that needed replaced — and, this was actually an out of the way access hole that after many valiant attempts, failed to provide the needed access and necessitated another, more visible hole in the hallway. He did try to less intrusive step first, but old houses have a way of not cooperating and you never quite know whats behind the wall until you break it open.

These access holes are the gateway to the super drill bit, which is a couple feet long, that is hopefully precisely pointed down through the joists/floorboards and into the lower level. But, well that hasn’t always been the case due to various nuisance common to old houses. Though, my favorite is the drill bit that appeared through the living room ceiling much to mine and chris’s surprise (that was also one of the last straws before admitting defeat and making the access hole in the hallway).

Saturday night, I come home and there is a new hole in the living room wall, this one is a nice outlet size, so not something to get nervous about, another peek-a-boo hole in the living room ceiling (accompanied by a sheepish oops), and a very ample access panel in the office upstairs. Each access panel usually results in at least two attempted holes drilled down through the floor/joists/ceilings, hence my comment that he’s worse than termites lately. Luckily, he realizes this too and isn’t doing all this extra destruction just for the fun of it. Sadly, if we want wiring up to par with this century’s safety standards, then we’ll just have a patch a few (dozen?) holes in the process.

Oh, and in other fun wiring news, he discovered another wiring mishap when I couldn’t get the bathroom outlet working. After tracing and testing (and much head scratching) the cables from the box and through the attic (seems there are some gratuitous splice box usage up in the attic), he eventually discovered the problem. Seems that whoever installed the GFCI outlet in the downstairs bathroom felt like saving a few pennies and just connected it to the one in the upstairs bathroom instead of installing a second one. Take a moment to consider the wiring hoops this required - the wire must go from the downstairs bathroom, up and out past the kitchen to the outside wall, up the wall past our bedroom to the attic, across the full length of our bedroom and then the hallway, and then down into the upstairs bathroom. I’d think that another GFCI switch would have been cheaper than all that wiring.

So, we’re considering how to eloquently word the reminder that if the upstairs bathroom outlet isn’t working, one should proceed down the stairs to the other side of the house and press the button on the outlet in the other bathroom. Perhaps a reminder isn’t needed, because surely thats the first thought that would cross one’s mind if the bathroom outlet wasn’t working, right?

February 8, 2008

routing problems

Filed under: life — suzanne henderson @ 12:55 pm

for a week or so now I’ve been having routing problems or something from flickr. basically, I can’t see any flickr photos which makes browsing sites pretty boring. From the support forum, its not their problem and I agree — somewhere the message isn’t getting though. I’m starting to notice that it isn’t just flickr either, though I’ve not taken the time to compile the list to see whats up. I’m blaming comcast but am feeling lost about how to go about getting this fixed — I would like full access to the web again, especially the photos. :)