warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
"I like to feel a healthy breeze around my privates…" (very minor character from one of the Harry Potter books). Except it never gets down to -17ºC (0ºF) in Scotland; highlands, lowlands, midlands, outer islands, then or now; or they wouldn't have taken up wearing kilts. On the other hand, it was really just between house and car (in which I put a blanket over my bear legs) to and fro to my friend's house for his annual Robbie Burns Night.

Between everyone there, we had a total of perhaps 1.25 Scotsmen, but still great fun. Some food (limited what can be eaten on a keto diet; but a small amount of haggis won't ruin the diet). Some chat. Some scotch (just a wee dram… or four). Some poetry - actually my favorite part last night (even if I cheated and recited Dave Van Ronk). There was something fascinating about sitting in a cozy living room, reading poetry from 2-1/2 centuries ago, with people of 3 (4?) generations. The dark, warm, comfy feeling of being immersed in a warm, slow river of history.
warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
Well, mostly Scots - or rather Scotch - and poetry. It was my friends' annual Burns Night party. "And so we've had another night of poetry and poses." Okay that line is from a rather grim poem, which doesn’t really go with such a great and fun evening, but I do like the line, so using it. (So there, nyah.)*

Unfortunately, went solo, as Nom was feeling under the weather, and we weren't sure about bringing the kids. Next year though, we're going en famille.

It was a chance to socialize, which I don't do often, a chance to drink Scotch, which I don't do often enough, and a chance to wear my kilt, which I don't more than about once/year. Met some nice people. Also met a nice Scotch last night, called Edradour. Supposedly the smallest distillery in Scotland. Nice, slightly smokey taste.

Found out an interesting fact. Seems Robbie Burns was actually Jewish. Before revisionist historians anglicized (scotized?) the name, he was really Rabbi Bernstein, and later in life owned a deli, where the sandwiches were so generous, you could actually see the pastrami coming thru the rye.

Mar sin leat, Gentle Readers

*Last Call by Dave Van Ronk

warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
Long but fruitful day yesterday. For most of the day, had the interviews to pick our Residents. As always, had way more candidates than we have spots, and when reviewing the files, easily 90% are qualified. Nonetheless, of those, we picked 18 to interview for our 3 positions. And as always 17 of those would have done fine. (There's always one at the interviews who causes us to look at each other afterwards and wonder why picked that one to interview.) The poor things come before the whole panel (there were 9 of us this year, including 1 Resident) and get their 20 minutes. We're not vicious at all, but still it must be nerve-wracking for them. We then each rank all the candidates and tally up the scores. That should be the end of it, but some committee members tried to change things at the last minute. I recall 3? years ago, after the scores were tallied, the committee basically ignored them and moved people up and down in the rankings as they liked. Me and some of the others clamped down that, but today there was still some last minute attempts to juggle things. They are so concerned about being fair and transparent, but just don't grasp that that means setting the ground rules before the interviews start, then holding to them. During the day, Nom & her mom had taken the kids to the Temple for Tet (Vietnamese New Year). They are too young to appreciate it, but good for them to have some exposure to that side of their cultural background.

After that, got home just in time to go out again. It was Burns Night, and needed to go sip some scotch and listen to poetry. Nom was feeling a bit under the weather, and her parents were also so they couldn't babysit, so I went solo. After the silliness at the interviews, I got home too late to even change into my kilt, much to my (and other folks) disappointment. My friends don't have that much room, so the party has always been at his father's house. A sad note for the evening was that the old gentleman had died less than a month before. He was the one who always ordered the haggis and made the scotch broth. He had ordered the haggis just before he passed, but in his honor, we specifically did NOT have scotch broth. He was a retired Professor of Biochemistry, and I always enjoyed talking to him. Despite that, people enjoyed themselves, including me, who generally hates parties, although I didn't stay late, feeling guilty about leaving Nom alone with the kids all day.
warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)
Yes, it's that time once again when all true Scots, plus those of us who own a kilt, plus assorted friends and wannabes, assemble to eat haggis (well, mostly pot luck), wear our kilts (the two of us there who own one), ha' a wee dram o Scotch (or several) and recite song and poem of Robbie Burns (plus Robert Service just because).
warriorsavant: (HHG-Throne of fruit)

So after the steak  and eggs, and after some well-deserve rest, that evening went out to Celine Dion’s fav Lebanese Restaurant, named Daou. Don’t know what they do to the steak in the shish kebob, but it was divine!!!

Saturday was Bobbie Burns Night. (His B-Day is allegedly earlier in the week, but (a) Wed is a rotten night for a party, and (b) we don’t have his birth certificate, so we have no idea when he was actually born. Anyhow, a friend of a friend, who is 1/8 Scottish, throws a party every year. (He is carrying on the tradition from another friend of his, who was 8/8 Scottish, but moved out of town years ago.) I wore my kilt, as did the host. We were the only 2 properly dressed gentlemen there. (As to what is worn under a kilt, uh, yeah.) There was haggis (of a sorts), and all sorts of good food, and much scotch (I only had a tiny amount – from each bottle – ohmyohmyohmy), and poetry reading. All told, a fun time.

You may think that “free for all” is a phrase in English. What you are unaware of, is that it is an exact translation of the French Canadian word “freforal.” Silly Henglish that you are, I unclog my nose at you.

It’s odd, I enjoy ethnic celebrations of various sorts, but don’t pay much attention to my own. Actually, I alternately want to celebrate things, and run away and hide at the thought of doing so. 

warriorsavant: (Me-cafe)
Tonight got together with [livejournal.com profile] woodyatcyul before he blasts off tomorrow for wherever he's flying. (He's a private pilot for hire, if anyone happens to need one.) For some reason, he had a hankering for fish and chips. It's never been a fav of mine, but I don't mind once in a while, and there's a very authentic place here in Montreal called "Brit and Chips" that I'd never tried. Per capita, Montreal is perhaps the best culinary city in the world (NY and Paris overall better, but much much bigger cities), and we go for fish and chips. *Sigh* he's a good friend, but restricted palate. He thinks Tim Horton's is the epitome of coffee.

Anyhow, it was good (if one can use that term for such food) fish and chips. Very authentic. For desert, they had various choices, including "deep fried whatever." This is an old Scottish custom (hey, it's coming up on Burn's Night soon enough); the Scots will deep fry anything. In this case, it was a deep fried O'Henry Bar. Really. It tasted like, well, a deep friend O'Henry Bar. Chocolate (slightly melty), peanuts (a bit cooked), and lots and lots of batter. Uh, glad I experienced it. Don't have to repeat it, even if I go to Scotland again. Now on to the Haggis!
warriorsavant: (Three Musketeers)

Went to a Burn's Night Dinner last night. It was the evil influence of Pipemajor and Don that has me doing these things. Actually, come to think of it, my g.f. from medical school was very into her Scottish heritage, but we never dressed the part. Well, except for wearing black armbands one Culloden Day.

 

Anyhow, our host was named Hossain (his wife is a cousin of my friend David-the-Architect). Not a very Scottish name, you say. Yeah? So?  In fact, I think between everyone there, there was a total of about 0.625 Scotsmen. Anyone in kilts? Yes, moi. Good thing we drove, as I wore it authentically, and didn't want any of the bits freezing off.

 

Started the evening by chatting and drinking. There was a whole table of single malt scotch to taste. (*Gasp* "The glass is more than half empty!" "Yes, but the part that's full is single malt. Sip and enjoy.")  Then started the eating with a traditional scotch broth. Then a buffet of other traditional Scottish food like haggis, tortiere, samosas, and sushi. Welcome to modern, multi-cultural N. America. (Note: America did not invent globalization, globalization invented America. Will write a post on that some other time.)

Yes, I had the haggis. Real haggis. No, you don't ear sheep's stomach. Yes, it was good.

 

Then moved onto desert, and reciting Burn's poems, and singing Scottish songs. All in varying amounts of fake Scottish accent. Overall, a great time.


warriorsavant: (Me-composite)

1. Travel misadventures - some my fault, some theirs.

            Airlines have instituted checked bag fees. I'd forgotten that, as I usually only do carry-on baggage. It's faster, and better if there is a flight cancellation, as they don't have to unload your bags before reassigning you to a later airplane. I had too much stuff this time and had a check my bag. Check-in is all self-"service" (an oxymoron if I ever heard one). The kiosk informed me there would be a $19 fee. This on a "free" ticket paid for with frequent flyer miles (plus taxes, handling, and two box tops). No wonder they had a kiosk tell me that they wanted money, as my language (still in a hoarse whisper from the cold) would have crisped the ears of the hardiest ticket agent. Got the gate in plenty of time to be informed the flight would be delayed. Of course it was delayed, they first had to run to the bank to deposit my $19.

            On the way back, tried to check myself in. The helpful kiosk didn't recognize the airport code for Montreal. Then it read my passport and said it couldn't help me and graciously permitted me to go wait on line to talk to an actual human being. The actual human being informed me I was at the wrong airport. Seems I had come in through JFK, but was supposed to leave through LaGuardia. Oh well, the actual human being was kind and didn't laugh at me (at least not out loud), found me a flight out of JFK, and didn't charge me either a change fee or a baggage check fee - I suppose I got the special "you're a bonehead and I feel sorry for you" discount.

 

2.  Army.

            Not a bad 3-day weekend. We were doing our periodic SRP (Soldier Readiness Processing). All paperwork in order? Check. Got your field gear? Check. Some basic medical stuff (Dental exam if you haven't had one, immunizations, TB test) in order? Check. (No, I don't have TB, thanks for asking.) Lots of meetings. Set the plans for next Army weekend, when we'll be having all our subordinate Commanders up to report on their next year's training schedule, plus a formal dinner, and some other stuff. Plus lots of just being present and chatting with my people to keep them pumped up, which is part of my job; and putting out fires, which is the other part.
            With my voice still dicey, for meetings I had 2 small signs made up, one saying "CSM, yell at that one," and the other saying "XO, yell at that one." As a general rule, the Commander gets to be the "good cop," with the CSM and XO being the bad cop. The Commander gets to give out awards, and walk around patting people on the back, and sicks the his principal deputies on malcreants. When the Commander has to be the heavy, it's VERY heavy. (Actually, the notes were in jest. It is very rare that people actually need yelling at, especially my staff, who are superb.)

 

3.  Social.

            As usual, got to see CSM and my other Army buddies. Talked, ate, drank coffee. The social network is part of the good part of the Army. (Service and adventure are other parts.)

            Went out and had dinner with Dad. He's doing well. Nothing new happening, but I suppose when you've survived this long on the planet, little ever is new. He's hanging in, doing well. May we all be that good at his age (87 next month).

            Harmony House. This was the collective January birthday party for denizens of my niece and nephew's place, plus assorted other friends and relatives such as my humble self. I didn't go per se because of that, but because I was in NYC on a 3-day weekend, and had the time to get up there. It was also Burns night (well, actually Sunday is, but better to party on Saturday). In honor of the latter, wore my kilt. Oddly enough, K wasn't there, and Matt left early in the evening, so my official, biological niece and nephew weren't there. Didn't matter, KT and the rest of the crowd were, and had fun. (Hmmm, my have to demote K from "favorite niece" if she keeps not being there when I show up. Good thing I have spare, pseudo, step-niece-in-laws to move up in the rankings. One thing the Army's taught me is always have a back-up.) BTW, this was the first time I got to wear the kilt. For those who actually believe you can only wear a tartan that you have a "right" to, this is the U.S. Army tartan. Photos available here http://purpura.livejournal.com/781763.html courtesy of KT. 

Over all, a busy weekend, and a good one. Work, social, and no major disasters. All is right in the world.

 

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