Sunday, September 19, 2010

Soccer Saturday

S & N love playing soccer, and we've got them involved in the local youth league here. They play at the South Texas Area Regional (a.k.a., "STAR") Soccer Complex. It's a very nice facility with more than 20 fields. I've never seen anything quite like it. It's in an old quarry, I think - you can see some of the raw hillsides in some of the pictures.

Soccer Saturday

The teams are co-ed, which is interesting because the girls haven't played on co-ed teams since about 2nd grade.

Soccer Saturday

The play is fun to watch, and it's nice to see the girls not back down from boys on the field.

soccer Saturday!

Just a few highlights from the last two games. The girls aren't in these. Maybe another post just for them.

Soccer Saturday

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cha Cha's

Cha Cha's

We went out last night to Cha Cha's for Kandie's cousin Sharon's birthday.  There was mole on the menu, so you know I had to have it to test the quality of the restaurant.

I liked Cha Cha's flowery, fountained interior, even if it was a bit cheap.  The standard roving mariachi band was fun, and they cornered us for a song and a tip after they performed a lovely ballad and happy birthday to Sharon.

It reminded Kandie and I both of our time in El Paso almost 20 years ago - in particular of a restaurant called "Forti's" that we used to like to go to now and then.

So the mole sauce was actually quite good.  It had the right balance of sweetness, thickness, and most importantly, chocolate. But unfortunately, the chicken was done to the consistency of shoe leather in some parts. I have to say, 60% of the meat was divine with the mole sauce, but the other 40% was really just about inedible.

Everyone had a good time, but I left a bit conflicted. Good mole sauce is not a thing you take lightly. But you certainly don't pour it over badly cooked chicken. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the fry cook was having a bad night.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

a visit to the University of the Incarnate Word

I sub'ed for a friend tonight at University of the Incarnate Word - taught a class in Managerial Economics.  I think it went pretty well - no one threw anything at me, so that's a good sign. 

I've only taken one class at a private college, so I haven't spent a lot of time on private university campuses.  But I'd have to admit - you get what you pay for.  It's a very pretty campus right on Broadway, which is the coolest area of San Antonio outside of the River Walk (which is very cool, but very much a tourist destination).

Kandie and I started a diet yesterday, so I didn't get a chance to indulge myself at one of the cornucopia of restaurants down there. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

"Jersey Boys" at the Majestic

Kandie and I went to see "Jersey Boys" at the Majestic on Saturday night.  I know it's Monday, but I had to teach today, so I spent a lot of time on Sunday getting ready, and blogging had to take a back seat.

Speaking of back seats, boy did we have some.  I think we were third row from the ceiling in the second balcony.  But even so, our noses didn't bleed (much) - The Majestic is a lovely theater and there really isn't a truly bad seat in the house.  We should know, there weren't many worse than ours.

Jersey Boys is the musical story of Franky Valli and the Four Seasons.  Even if you weren't a Valli fan (none of us were especially), you pretty much know all the songs.  It is a fun review with a modest amount of drama and a reasonably feel-good sort of story.  There's hubris and humor throughout. 

For me, I loved the show because it reminded me of how I came into my own tastes in music.  When I was about 12, I started listening to 50's and 60's tunes - old records that I'm not even sure where I got them from.  I loved "Leader of the Pack" and "Walking in the Sand", "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", and of course, "Silhouettes."  I still have a soft spot for doo-wop, and love The Nylons, though by now they're old, too.  I was clearly born in the wrong era.  Listening to songs by Kesha and other auto-tuned "artists", I wish for something real, not something completely manufactured and provided in an audio pop-in-the-microwave-and-reheat blandness.  If you feel that way at all on a bad day, get out to see "Jersey Boys" as soon as you can. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kim Tran's Restaurant

Kandie and I went to Kim Tran's Restaurant (strip mall at the corner of Rittiman and Harry Wurzbach) on Friday (yes, I'm a little behind).

I bragged about it to her because I'd been there earlier in the week with Lee and really enjoyed it. 

Kim Tran's features Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine at reasonable prices.  I had the General Tso's chicken with fried rice, an egg roll, and hot and sour soup for $6.75 when I went with Lee.  I was really pleased with the hot and sour soup, which as you know from my previous posts is the Chinese restaurant litmus test for me.  Good hot and sour soup is so hard to come by that when I find it, I almost always know I'll like the restaurant.  Kim Tran's hot and sour soup had  a unique flavor - pleasantly spicy with a touch of sweetness I had never tasted before.  You had to ask for the fried noodles, which annoyed me, but they didn't charge for them, and on the day Lee and I went, they were warm and crisp and light.

The egg roll was good - a nicely thick crust and stuffed mostly with a heavier cabbage - not much beyond the cabbage - but still pleasant.  The General Tso's was good as well - not knock your socks off good - but the chicken was lightly battered and the sauce sweet and tangy.  The fried rice was the weakest part of the offering, lacking anything but a token few vegetables for color.  Overall, the experience with Lee was worth bragging to Kandie that I had found a really good Chinese restaurant.

I think it's never good to raise other people's expectations.

On the day Kandie and I went, just three days later, the experience was much less appetizing.  The hot and sour soup, of which Kandie is also a connoisseur, was still good.  We had to ask for the fried noodles, which still annoyed me.  But the noodles came out cold, stale, and oily.  I should have known right then that things were not going to get better.

I ordered the sesame chicken (pictured above, $6.25) just to get some variation - General Tso's and sesame are two of my favorites, along with Sezchuan beef.  Let's just say the rice and egg roll were the same - the rice leaving something to be desired, the egg roll fine.  But my sesame chicken was awful.  It was overdone, heavily coated with breading, and chewy like someone had sliced up a school kid's eraser and tossed it with sesame sauce.  The sauce was good, but served over such an excuse for fried chicken was just pathetic.

So the jury has withdrawn it's finding of excellence for Kim Tran's.  A third visit is in order to finalize the decision.  And I may have to revise my rule of the hot and sour soup.  It appears that excellent hot and sour soup is a necessary, but not sufficient indicator of quality in a Chinese restaurant.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

instructor qualified

instructor qualified

Yesterday I completed my official instructor certification training for the Army. I am now officially instructor qualified.

This is the instructor badge that instructors are supposed to wear at the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Center and School. My peers call it "The Push-to-Talk Button."

The instructor training doesn't really teach you anything - it's more a test to make sure you are an OK public speaker and you know not to fraternize with the students. After more than 20 years, I think I had that figured out.

Getting this badge for me was sentimental and exciting.

Sentimental because when I came on active duty as an officer in 1992, I remember all of the instructors wearing these badges and thinking it was a mark that set them apart. They were a part of something that I was trying to figure out.

Exciting because since I was a kid, I've always wanted to be a teacher. I thought maybe I'd be a high school English teacher at one point, then I thought I'd maybe teach philosophy to undergrads. Then life gets in the way and you wind up spending a couple of decades doing other stuff you never really thought you'd be doing. But next Wednesday I will stand in front of my first real class - and I will finally get to do what I have always wanted to do. Oh, and I'll be teaching graduate-level Macroeconomics. It's a long way from Shakespeare, but a rose by any other name - well, you know the rest.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

evening by the pool

evening by the pool

Doc told me I have tendonitis in my hip and need to not exercise for 4-6 weeks to let it heal.