Archive for November, 2011

Movie Night

November 26 2011

Tonight, while I am working on my presentation for next week, Dave and my mother are going out to see the Muppets.  (Yes, Dave and I saw the midnight showing with his sister in NYC just the other day … but it was that good).

My sister is also going out to the movies … on a date with a boy.  My father had these words to say to her “when he gets here, I want to tell him two things (1) that you are sixteen and (2)  that I am a psycho.”  Then, he turns to Dave and says “should I say psycho or psychopath, which one would be better?”

Six New TV Shows

November 17 2011
[UPDATE: I totally can’t count.  The first time I posted this, the title was “four new TV shows”]
Someone mentioned to me that there were a lot of new TV shows this fall, so I decided to watch some of them.  Below, I’ve ordered them from my favorite (1) to my least favorite (6).  I would recommend checking out shows 1-4.  I don’t think any of these will replace Desperate Housewives though.
  1. RINGER  — This show stars Sarah Michelle Gellar.  She plays twin sisters, Bridgit and Siobhan, who have grown apart.  Bridgit was a key witness in a murder trial, and flees the night before the trial was supposed to begin.  She and Siobhan reunite, but Siobhan stages her own death.  So, Bridgit assumes Siobhan’s identity, to find out that Siobhan has many hidden secrets.  Although the plot is absurd, I do admit that I enjoyed watching it.
  2. PAN AM —  Pan am is about the crew on a cross-Atlantic carrier, set in the 1960s.  Not only is this show set in the 60s, but they use the historical events to enhance the episodes.  For example, one episode, entitled “ich bin ein Berliner” was centered on Kennedy’s speech in Berlin.  To add some mystery to the show, one of the flight attendants is acting as a courier for the CIA or some other agency.
  3. REVENGE — Emily Thorne (formerly Amanda Clark) moves into the Hamptons.  She was there as a child when her father was un-rightfully arrested.  She is back with one goal: to seek revenge on those who helped put her father behind bars.  The plot is predictable, but addicting.  You want to watch her bring these rich people down!
  4. THE SECRET CIRCLE — In this show, a young girl finds out that she is a witch after her mother dies (is murdered by another witch).  She learns that there are dark secrets in the past that the adults refuse to speak about.  The characters are too young for me to identify with.  Agh, I’m getting old!  [As an update, I decided to watch the 2nd episode, and now find it a bit more interesting.  I now think of this show as a better version of Charmed (which I guess doesn’t say much since I didn’t really like that show).]
  5. PERSON OF INTEREST —  A rich man somehow has the ability to know that a crime is about to be committed.  He seeks the assistance of a CIA agent in hiding to help him stop the crime before it happens.  I wasn’t really captivated by the plot.  I’d prefer Law & Order.
  6. UP ALL NIGHT — This comedy, starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, is about a couple who had a baby.  She goes back to work, and he becomes a stay-at-home dad.  I did not find this show particularly funny.  The characters actually annoyed me a little.  Perhaps if you like the Office you would also like this show (I also found the characters on that show annoying).  As a plus, this show is only 30 minutes long.

Domaene Wachau: a winery near Vienna

November 4 2011

A few weeks ago, my research group decided to research a winery near Vienna.  We went to Domaene Wachau for a tour and tasting.

Austrian mushrooms

A forkful of Eierschwammerl

We started by going to lunch at  Wachaurstuben, per recommendation of the winery.  Olga, Daniel, and I had eierschwammerl (yellow mushrooms) and it was delicious!  Filip and Morten had a half of a duck each I believe.  Others had schnitzel or spinatknödel.

After lunch, we walked over to the winery.  The landscape is beautiful, with vineyards everywhere you looked!  The winery tour was also great.  They took us into the castle, and we saw beautiful hand drawings (some hundreds of years old) and ornate ceilings.  Unfortunately, my camera ran out of memory at this point, so I wasn’t able to take as many photos as I would have liked to.  I went through to delete some quickly, and took photos sparingly after this point.

playing with the dirt

Then, we went down into the 300 year old baroque cellar.  There, we saw very large oak casks, most with amazing carvings on the front.  We also had fun playing with the dirt that was cleaned off of the grapes.  It comes off on this giant wheel like a sheet of cloth.  Next, we saw the stainless steel casks.  One was filled with a rose, and we could see the pink indicator running to the top of the giant tank.

The final part of the winery tour was the tasting.  There, we tasted 9 different wines.   I asked her for two more at the end, and she complied.  This allowed us to taste two Grüners at the same time.  Daniel tried to get us two Rieslings more, but the tour guide cut us off.

At this winery, there are three qualities of wine: Steinfeder (translates to stonefeather, a type of grass), Federspiel (flacon), Smaragd (emerald).  Steinfeder is made from the earliest picked grapes.  It is the lightest of the three qualities of wine.  Smaragd is the sweetest (although still a dry wine), and also considered the best quality.  The grapes for the Smaragd are picked last.  Federspiel is the in-between wine, and the most popular of the three.

walking through vineyards

In addition to the three qualities of the wines, the label often says which winery the grapes come from.  Domaene Wachau operates as a co-op, so most of the vineyards are owned and run by private families.  If the family produces enough grapes, the family name can appear on the label.  If not, the grapes from different families are mixed with the grapes from the terrace to produce Terrassen wines.

After the tour, I bought a few things from the winery: some schnapps, apricot jam for David, a bottle of smagard Grüner, and a bottle of sparkling wine for Diana & Lisa to share with me.

More photos can be found in my Picasa album.

Unregistered Vehicle

November 2 2011

Whoops.   My NC registration expired in August, and I am now back in the USA.

I won’t be back in NC until the end of November, so waiting until then seems to be a dangerous risk.  I called up NC DOT today.  They said that in lieu of NC inspection, I can get any sort of vehicle maintenance done on my car in PA.  I have to fax that plus a utility bill of my parents to them, and I get an exception.  Then, I can renew my registration.

The trick now is getting my car to the mechanic.  I guess I must illegally drive my car today.  Well, at least it is insured.  I’ll just cross my fingers that the car doesn’t get impounded.

Back in the USA!

November 1 2011

Yesterday, I flew back to the USA.  I walked out of Europe in the “citizens/EU” line because the foreigner line was too long … no questions were asked.  When I came back, I wrote that I was a US citizen, but a visitor to the states on the declaration form.  It worked quite well.  This is the first time I did not get 600 questions upon re-entering the USA.

I managed (luckily) to work the whole plane ride.  While eating lunch, I decided to take a break to watch a TV show.  The selection was quite poor this time round.  The Golden Girl episode was the same as the Golden Girl episode that I watched going to Europe in September!  And, there were fewer choices for episodes to watch then there usually are.  But, I watched 30 Rock.  It was the first time that I have seen that show.  It seemed pretty good.