Five Random Books: Burn Them All (2014)

2014 proved to be a weak year for good books. Well, among the books I read.

One of my goals this year was to read four science fiction novels off a ‘Best of’ list. So in honor of the science fiction genre, I plan on hosting a book burning bonfire to forget 2014. Invitations are in the mail.

What science fiction novels did I read in 2014?

  1. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
  2. Hyperion (Dan Simmons)
  3. The Fall of Hyperion (Dan Simmons)
  4. The Martian Chronicles (Ray Bradbury)
  5. Children of Dune (Frank Herbert)


Without fanfare, read about the top five books I read in 2014:

5. Police (Jo Nesbø, 2014) – The Harry Hole books from Swedish author, Jo Nesbø, are highly entertaining murder mysteries. This is neither the best nor the worst of the ten book series thus far. I suggest The Snowman or The Leopard if you must read one. But in a weak year of reading, I struggled to find my top five. I toyed with including John Grisham’s Sycamore Row (the follow-up to A Time To Kill), despite it being just okay, but after reading his Gray Mountain, which was just terrible, they cancelled each other off my list.

4. A Dance With Dragons (Fire & Ice Book 5) (George R. R. Martin, 2011) – Not the best book of the series, but a vast improvement over Book 4. Could it be true? Another major character dies? No!!!! I don’t believe Mr. Martin will write fast enough to keep up with The Game of Thrones TV series, but the journey will be fun. In an everybody dies horribly so why did we invest all this time on these characters sort of way.

3. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (Randall Munroe, 2014) – Some of these questions are silly, some are weird. Some are way over my head. Yet you can’t walk away without a few chuckles and the deep satisfaction that you are now somehow smarter than the next guy or gal.

2. Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn, 2012)– Read it. Watch it. Discuss. If you are not entertained, check for a pulse. If you don’t have a pulse, I suggest reading CPR for Dummies.

1. Hyperion (Dan Simmons, 1989) – The interlocking story of seven pilgrims journeying to Hyperion to save the galaxy. Or are they? One narrative brings them together, but each individual back story is what makes the book amazing. The Fall of Hyperion is the ‘sequel’. Actually, it is the conclusion of the story, so it you have to read it, but it’s not quite as good as its better half. If you like anything about science fiction, even if only the latter word fiction, than read this.

I’m planning on reading more this upcoming year.

Give me your best suggestions!

Silence is not golden here.




New Capitol Hill Restaurants in 2014

Skip the family time and read this post instead. Sorry, I meant vice versa.

Just do both.

One of my ongoing goals is to ingest food stuffs at all eateries on Capitol Hill. It’s a big area. Check out the map here: Capitol Hill and Surrounding Areas.

That doesn’t faze me. But since there is always new places opening, it’s a never ending quest. I can die trying.

I went to 15 restaurants that opened in 2014. I didn’t make it to all the new openings. Most notable one I missed: Rose’s Luxury.

Here is a completely pointless and randomized bracket to declare the winner of the new restaurants I visited.


Bracket 1

Driftwood Kitchen vs. Impala Cantina y Taqueria – Do have the Brussel sprouts at Driftwood, but I’m more about the tacos. Advances: Impala

Ocopa Peruvian Restaurant vs. Bye. Advances: Ocopa

Driftwood vs. Ocopa – Ocopa’s ceviche is fabulous. No comparison.

Advances to the Final Four: Ocopa

Bracket 2

DC Harvest vs. Shake Shack (Union Station) – I like the idea of Shake Shack when it’s hard to get and I can only go occasionally. Opening one in Union Station ruins that. Advances: DC Harvest

The Spot Deli vs. Bullfrog Bagels – The tacos at The Spot Deli were fine, the space is not. Advances: Bullfrog

DC Harvest vs. Bullfrog – The Rueben bagel is quite nice, but DC Harvest’s food is nicer. One is more of an upscale restaurant, the other is a breakfast/lunch counter. Both are worthy.

Advances to the Final Four: DC Harvest  

Bracket 3

Sona Creamery & Wine Bar vs. Pizza Parts & Service – Not sure why they closed Taylor Charles Steak & Ice, depriving us of Philly cheesesteaks, in favor of another pizza joint on H St. Also, the pizza is nothing special. Advances: Sona

Copycat Co. vs. Micho’s Lebanese Grill – This is a tough one in the first round. That’s what happens when you create a randomized bracket. I’ll visit both again. The dumplings at Copycat are good. But Micho’s gets the edge. Advances: Micho’s

Sona vs. Micho’s – Micho’s has become a standard lunch spot for people at my office. It’s really good, cheap and very close. I go here more than any other place on this list. Having said that, the scones at Sona are amazing. And the owners are from Washington state.

Advances to the Final Four: Sona

Bracket 4

ShopHouse (Union Station) vs. Barrel – Seems like ShopHouses are opening everywhere. Okay. Pass. Advances: Barrel

Medium Rare vs. Po Boy Jim – Medium Rare does one thing and does it well. Steak frites. But the shrimp po boys at Po Boy Jim are not to be missed. Advances: Po Boy Jim

Barrel vs. Po Boy Jim – All the po boys I’ve had at Po Boy Jim deserve your attention and the upstairs space is decent (don’t sit downstairs), but I can’t choose it over the sleek new bar serving ‘brown water’ aka bourbon. And I don’t even drink bourbon.

Advances to the Final Four: Barrel

Semi-final 1

Ocopa vs. DC Harvest – DC Harvest’s S’mores Pot du Crème and friendly bartender are ultimately thwarted by Ocopa’s straight amazing Peruvian food. All of it. In my mouth. Now.

Advances to the Finals: Ocopa

Semi-final 2

Sona vs. Barrel – Sona is a good place for brunch. And someday I’ll try the wine and cheese. But I’m giving Barrel the nod here, because Penn Ave. SE will do well to keep adding good bars. The burger is tasty and the rest of the menu looks intriguing.

Advances to the Finals: Barrel


Ocopa vs. Barrel – Peruvian food. That is all.

Winner: Ocopa

Peruvian food wins
Peruvian food wins

Eat and Be Merry

Happy Christmas! My second to last random goal of 2014 was to visit a plethora of new restaurants in D.C.

November/December Goal: Eat at 10 new (to me) restaurants in Washington, D.C.

How did I do?

Result: 15 restaurants. Success!

(Pause here while I run my victory lap)

–huff huff —

Okay, I’m back.

I’m too good at this self-refereed random goals game…undefeated so far this year. Witness. Maybe I cheat?

Food Highlights

DC Harvest’s S’mores Pot du Creme. Damn!

DCity Smokehouse’s The Brisket Champ. Oy!

Sona Creamy & Wine Bar’s scones. Gimme!

Yoon Ha’s Kitchen and Deli’s bibimbap. Boom!

Food Lowlights

Not a fan of ShopHouse’s peanut sauce. (It’s like a Chipotle or Roti for Asian cuisine)

Bolt Burger is nothing special.

Here’s a handy list, restaurantwise, to put on your refrigerator.

Print This!
Print This!

Dessert porn…

S'mores Pot du Creme at DC Harvest
S’mores Pot du Creme at DC Harvest
Scones at Sona Creamery & Wine Bar
Scones at Sona Creamery & Wine Bar

The Brewery Hike Extravaganza, and Other Middling Yarns

Back in the day, August 30th to be precise, I set about to undertake a fantastical journey through the streets of Washington, DC.

The goal was to hike to six of the seven breweries in DC. Note: An eighth brewery has opened since.

Not only to hike to them, but to enjoy all the splendor of their beer coffers.

See this Tolkienesque, but not random, journey mapped in all its glory.



If everything went according to plan, the hike would cover 11 miles and include an undisclosed amount of liquid gold.

Suffice it to say, it did not go according to plan. We skipped the final destination, Bluejacket, and the 4-1/2 miles it would require to hike there, in favor of being extremely drunk.

We went to five of the six breweries, and hiked 6-1/2 miles in total. We also stopped at the newly opened Chuck Brown Memorial Park.

High five! Success. The original plan was merely aspirational.

The journey started with lunch at Right Proper Brewing Company and ended at the beer garden of Bardo.



Lunch at Right Proper
Lunch at Right Proper
Follow the beer soaked road...
Follow the beer soaked road…


Street people
Street people
Don't touch my ball
Don’t touch my ball
Do it well, or don't do it at all. - Chuck Brown
Do it well, or don’t do it at all. – Chuck Brown
Beats by Drunks
Beats by Drunks


Get some
Get some
Living the dream
Living the dream


Atlas tasting room
Atlas tasting room
In the zone
In the zone
This is you after the hangover
This is you after the hangover




Five Random Food Porn Photos Shared in November ’14

Since November is the month for turkey and for cramming all manner of edibles in your pie hole, I’m sharing only food photos.

I’ve made my choice, but don’t expect any turkey or pie.

A CSA veggie melody
A CSA veggie melody
Get you some Bi Bim Bap at YoonHa's Kitchen
Get you some Bi Bim Bap at YoonHa’s Kitchen
Cachapa at The Corn Factory food truck
Cachapa at The Corn Factory food truck


Meatless Thanksgiving Dinner! (well there's salmon)
Meatless Thanksgiving Dinner! (well there’s salmon)
S'mores Pot du Creme at DC Harvest
S’mores Pot du Creme at DC Harvest

Now stay hot and bothered with a nice latte.




11 for December 2014: To Do List

December is here.

My annual holiday migration to Washington state is coming soon. Yet, I’ll still be around DC for a couple of weeks.

There are certain things I need to do while in Washington state and before I leave. Let’s squeeze everything we can out of December.

Goal for December: Do all 11 items on my freshly minted To Do List.

December To Do List

  1. Touch snow – I would say go skiing, but my back may not have recovered enough by then.
  2. Attend two Seattle Seahawks games – One in Philadelphia and one in Seattle.
  3. Grace Portland, OR or Vancouver, B.C. with my presence – They both need it!
  4. Watch two Oscar buzz movies in the theater – With extra butter.
  5. Take a hike – I need to find out what bears do in the woods.
  6. Eat a Dick’s Drive-In (Seattle) Deluxe burger – Eat it!
  7. Try 10 new beers – AKA beers I’ve not had the pleasure or displeasure of drinking before.
  8. Eat at Thai Tom (Seattle) – Or any Thai restaurant on this Seattle Times list.
  9. Visit Two Beers Brewing Co. (Seattle) – Or any brewery I haven’t yet visited in Seattle.
  10. Visit one Espresso Vivace coffee shop (Seattle) – Or any coffee shop from this King 5 list around Washington state.
  11. Wild Card – Add something awesome when I think of it.

To Do




Let’s peek at how I fared for my October/November goal.

Goal for October/November: Knock enough things off my 2014 Bold Predictions list and do enough projects so they total 19

Total: 19

Result: Success!

I hurt my back in mid-October, totally messing up my plans for this goal. I wanted to hike and run more races. I couldn’t. Ouch.

So, instead, I did a few ‘projects’ and I watched a mess of movies.

Towards the end, I was able to do a couple short hikes.

Things completed

  1. Science fiction novels read = 1 (Children of Dune)
  2. AFI Top 100 Movies/Oscar Best Pictures9
  3. Projects/chores around the house = 5
  4. Hikes = 3 (12, 5 and 5.5 miles)
  5. Races = 1 (Army 10-miler)