Aleppo Palace

2019-Feb-08, Friday 22:08
mindstalk: (food)
There's a new restaurant in Central Square, at 25 Central Square Cambridge. It replaced a previous Mideast restaurant the name of which Google has forgotten. It's very new: opened in the past three days (I didn't go out Wed or Thurs.) Pure takeout -- no seating, though there's a ledge if you really wanted to wolf your food there. Prices in the $9 range.

I was given two small falafel for free; I thought they weren't as good as Falafel King's, but decent. I ordered a lamb kafta pita with hummus and fava beans. The guy kept asking if I wanted the ground lamb and not the beef shawarma, which seemed odd; maybe he has no faith in Americans knowing what they want. It rang up oddly: $8.99 turn into $10-something with tax, then back down to $9.60 with cash discount. I thought total sales tax was 7% here, meaning $9.62.

The actual food? Pretty tasty. It was a stuffed pita, not a wrap; the pita looked small, but came out to a decent amount of food; I could probably have made 2 small meals out of it. Tasty and juicy: I was foresighted enough to eat over a plate, the tinfoil covering would not have saved my clothes if eating over my lap.

There are breakfast specials at $6.49, though all vegetarian.

A Winter Peril

2015-Dec-05, Saturday 22:38
mindstalk: (frozen)
I've discovered something, that I'd think I'd have noticed before, but don't recall. Maybe because I put away my bike by now, or slept through the day and only biked at night -- hell, by *now* I've usually been on a plane to Chile, in recent years.

The something being a an extra effect of the short days and low sun: it's hard to bike in daylight without sun in my eyes. There's like a couple hours around noon. "Winter sun in eyes" sounds familiar, "making it impossible to bike" doesn't.

I did find a fix of sorts. When I bought my current glasses, I got transition coating, but also clip-on sunshades. I've hardly ever used the shades, since the coating + hat + sun avoidance has generally sufficed. But they've always been quitely in their case in my backpack, so when I got frustrated today, I brought them out, and hey! it helped! Obviously doesn't if the un comes over the glasses, but it worked on this route.

Score one for hoarding.


As for what I was out for today, Harvard has an associated Ethelbert Cooper Gallery of African & African American Art, on the same block as Grendel's. Through Dec 11th there's an exhibit of photographs of blacks from Victorian Britain.
Gallery is free. Also closed Sunday, so only readers who get get off some time T-F will be able to see it.
mindstalk: (I do escher)
Mount Auburn cemetery is famous. I'd seen it once before in 2011, though not for long -- on bike, and was told bikes aren't allowed. That pissed me off a lot; *cars* are allowed.

I finally went back today, though first going to the Belmont cemetery I'd noticed on a recent ride. That one: pretty boring. Lots of slabs, lots of American flags, just not that much there.

Then over to Mount Auburn, to park my bike and walk around. At least I got the order of cemeteries right -- it really is awesome! Huge, lots of fancy old sculptures, great landscaping. Near the end I looked at an interactive kiosk, which talked about both. The cemetery pre-dates public art museums by a few decades, so early on it served as an open air sculpture museum, which it kind of still is. And, the kiosk talked about the landscaping being deliberately chaotic, or irregular, or using what's naturally there rather than some imposed order. So at first it looks ordinary enough, though full of trees, but then a surprise fountain! And an even more surprising dell that looks really wild! And three other ponds.

I kind of got lost, actually; after the dell I thought I was still going south, until I made my Survival roll and noticed the sun on my left hand. By which point T-Mobile had given up on me, so I had a map of the cemetery but not my location in it.

Very quiet and restful in the right spots.

Until black flies come and buzz around my face. I'm guessing they wanted my sweat, especially as they went away after I sprayed myself a lot. I love that $6 sprayer from Ace Hardware.

Photo set.

Also on the way home, I passed a Mirkwood squirrel. Or at least, a really really dark furred, basically black, squirrel.
mindstalk: (food)
I'd vaguely known of this Cambridge store, but found it mentioned when I was looking up kangaroo meat in the US. Checked it out today. In general it's a high end meat store (plus ice cream and vegan ice cream and fresh pasta and stuff), but the freezer does indeed have some exotics: bison, wild boar, duck sausage, rabbit, venison, elk, wagyu beef ($100/lb for a steak; cheaper for ground), alligator, iguana. Iguana, really? I did not notice any kangaroo.

Also a leg of jamon iberico (also $100/lb). I assume you can get that sliced, not spend thousands on one leg, though the employee I talked to was uncertain ("how do you even slice that? I should talk to the chef.")

I ended up getting some duck sausage, duck eggs ($6 for 4), and "cheddar bites" cheese curds, because I've liked cheese curds. They're decent, though I think Indiana's farmers markets had slightly better ones. Haven't had the duck stuff yet.

I doubt I'll be a regular visitor, but if you've had a hankering to try some iguana or something, now you know where to look. Prices for weird stuff tend to be $13-26/lb, I'd say, with some exceptions. (I think the iguana was $40/lb, but I'm not sure.)
mindstalk: (food)
New to me, anyway.

Thursday, my D&D group was going to order pizza. From Domino's, because it's cheap and fast. Despite some people saying they felt oogy after eating it. I suggested we try something else -- Just Crust Pizza, say, which I've heard of as a worker-owned successor to the Upper Crust which stole wages (PDF). People were amenable. People were put off by the prices. People were reassured by a large being 18", when Domino's X-Large is 16". We ordered, sausage&onion (caramelized!) for the carnivores, margherita for the vegetarians. It was pronounced good, though we also noted it's very thin crust pizza, so the price per food quantity may be high after all. But good!

Tonight I went to Grendel's a bit late, and so had everyone else. I didn't feel like squeezing into a corner -- there wasn't even a nearby chair -- or dealing with the noise, so I bugged out for a while. Across the alleyway, some dance club has been replaced by Shake Shack, whose menu had vaguely intrigued me, and I went there. I had a double Shackburger, basically a fast food cheeseburger, but tasty and juicy and didn't leave me feeling gross. $7.92 with tax. I'd call it better than Tasty Burger, not sure if better than Flat Patties.

Cambridge voting

2013-Nov-06, Wednesday 01:46
mindstalk: (atheist)
Voted in the municipal election today. I like proportional representation, but I'm really leaning toward open party list. Cambridge uses STV. We had 25 candidates this year, up from 18 in 2011, for 9 council seats, so you get to rank up to 25 people. Just doing that is a pain, but then there's actually voting. Both years I've screwed up my first ballot. A friend did too. I thought it'd be neat if a mechanical machine prevented you from mis-voting, though I'm not sure how. Can't trust digital... but wait! We could hve digital machines that checked your vote, then printed a ballot for you, which you then check and put in the box. No room for dodginess, just more reliable physical ballots. That'd be a lot more expensive than scantrons, though.

We also had a school board election; in 2011 I tried to figure that out, this year I punted. I wanted to spoil my ballot so that my slot would be taken up as it were, but I found the machines reject spoiled ballots. Normally that would be a feature, catching mistakes, but this time I walked away and it meant someone could vote for me. I guess it'd be better to make a random lame vote ("Joe Blow for #9"... though that could allow filling in #1. Damn.) I wonder if you can ask to not get one of the ballots...

In 2011 I read up at the last minute and made a gestalt judgement based on bike friendliness and funding sources and not-craziness and such. This year it was simpler, I turned into a single-issue voter: who sounds like they'll vote for higher density and higher buildings and looser zoning? Anybody who seemed good on that went to the top; people bemoaning the loss of rent control went to the bottom, right above the crazy people, below people who just wanted to increase the amount of "affordable housing" in developments. I'd like to know more where that affordability comes from: small size (okay), subsidies (doesn't seem scalable), developer having to suck it up (not great either)? Talking about parking and car reduction was a plus too.

Apparently both mayoral candidates in Boston favor taller buildings. Nice! As I said on IRC, "You want to be a world-class city like NYC, Boston? Guess what that takes. World class density!" Non-balkanized political planning would probably help too, as it is the region seems ripe for local selfishness.
mindstalk: (Enki)
Municipal elections in Massachusetts today. I live in Cambridge, which uses STV (Single Transferable Vote), a form of PR (Proportional Representation.) You rank the candidates in order, and black magic -- performed these days by Accu-Vote machines and computers -- computes a set of winners. 9 out of 18 candidates for city council, 6 out of 11 for school committee. I accidentally put two numbers for the same council candidate and had to try again. Non-partisan elections, so gauging the proportionality isn't as simple as matching up parties in the populace and council. I don't know much about the candidates, but I did find a trove of somewhat detailed candidate statements, so made my best guesses. There was a lot of similarity; even the one Republican (there's no party on the ballots) sounded pretty liberal. Occasionally things stood out as distinctive, though. Anyway, I did my bit for participating in diligently last-minute semi-informed democracy.

I think my preference for open party-list over STV went up a bit. Ranking 29 candidates via pen and scantron, nnng. Party-list could potentially have hundreds of candidates, but you have only one vote to cast.

We can try other evaluations than party: the current council shown here is 3/9 women, 1/9 black (the dark woman is Asian), 2/9 Asian, and 0/9 Hispanic as far as I can tell. Wikipedia says Cambridge is about 12% each for African-American and Asian, 7% Hispanic, and 51% female. So the blacks are spot on but the women are lacking. Of course, it's also pretty middle-aged. One candidate said he'd be the only tenant on the Council if elected, and I'm sure there's more than 1/9 renters in town. Sortition (random selection) as used by ancient Athens (they thought elections were too oligarchic, except where needed for generals [experienced] and treasurers [rich enough to not steal]) would be much more generally representative.

The school committee is is 3/6 male and 5/6 white, 1/6 black, not counting the Mayor, who is elected by the Council from among its own members and automatically head of both Council and Committee. Not to be confused with the City Manager, who is hired by the Council -- in the incumbent's base, for like the past 30 years. Apparently to good effect; Cambridge finances seem to have weathered the recession quite well.

Icon is particularly appropriate, being of a character who is a conduit for an Imperial Mandate of Heaven, who advocated (in a snarky aside) democracy as an alternative to said mandate.

"Cambridge is also the birthplace of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), who is the world's longest reigning monarch at age 82 (2010), as well as the longest reigning monarch in Thai history. He is also the first king of a foreign country to be born in the United States." Also, I'm currently a "Cantabridgian". O_o

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