Saturday we hosted our first wine tasting party. We went to one at a friends house last year and it was a lot of fun, so we thought we’d try our hand at it. We don’t know all that much about wine so we wanted to keep it light and casual, and not too snooty. We did end up getting lots of different kinds of cheeses to go along with the wine, and had a pretty impressive spread on the dining room table (cheeses, breads, crackers, appetizers, veggies, and desserts).
Here’s how it works: Each guest (or couple) brings a bottle of red wine costing under $20. The wines are poured anonymously (hidden in paper bags), one at a time, with each guest getting 1-2 ounces. Guests rate each wine from 1-5 (poor to excellent). At the end, the wine with the highest average score wins, and the person who brought it gets a prize.
Rather than call the wines “Wine #1″, “Wine #2″, etc., it’s recommended to choose a theme for the tasting, and name the wines after French cities for example. Our theme was Star Wars :-). Each wine got a Star Wars character name, like Yoda, or Luke. One of the advantages to my newly unemployed status is it gave me the time to create fancy score sheets for everyone (click on the image to the right to check it out).
Anyway, the party was lots of fun, and we had a great turnout of guests. After the wine tasting segment was over several folks started playing Wii bowling and tennis. Kathie had to make sure people kept backing up from the TV so we didn’t have a problem with Wii remotes smashing the TV like so many other people have had. We also got to show off the new FiOS high definition TV content by playing an episode of Discovery Channel’s new series, Planet Earth, which uses some revolutionary new high definition filming techniques and looks fantastic in high-def.
Oh, the winning wine was Obi-Wan.
|Character||Wine brought||Avg. Rating|
|Obi-Wan||Erben Merlot-Spatburgunder 2003||3.67|
|Han Solo||Marcus James Cabernet Sauvignon 1998||3.11|
|Chewbacca||Placido Chianti 2004||2.97|
|R2-D2||White Hall Vineyards 2005||2.89|
|Yoda||Edna Valley Syrah 2003||2.89|
|Leia||Terra Andina Merlot 2006||2.75|
|Wedge||Post Familie Zinfande||2.68|
|Darth Vader||Glass Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2002||2.61|
|Boba Fett||Yellow Tail Merlot 2006||2.58|
|Jabba||Graystone Pinot Noir 2004||2.56|
|Lando||Franciscan Oakville Estate Merlot 2003||2.25|
As anyone in Northern Virginia already knows, spring has made an early, but temporary appearance this week. Today’s high will be in the mid 70s (20 degrees above normal), and it’s a perfect day for working out on the balcony at work with a wireless laptop. Let’s enjoy it while we can, since it will be in the 40s this weekend!
The Verizon FiOS install went quite well. As predicted, the HD picture quality is generally excellent, although it does vary from channel to channel and show to show, probably depending on how the shows were originally filmed. Too bad we’re not too into sports, as the ESPN HD channels look amazing. The standard-definition channels look significantly better than DirecTVs. The digital video recorder leaves a lot to be desired after being spoiled by a Tivo for the last 5 years or so, but a software update from Verizon is due in a couple months, and a new Tivo Series 3 that’s compatible with FiOS but less expensive than their current $600 model is also due this year. Haven’t played much with the FiOS internet but will do so this weekend and try to switch everything in the house over from Cox internet.
Glad to say that chemo #8 was better than #6 and #7! Side effects were less severe and didn’t last as long. Interestingly, two days after I got my Aranesp shot for my red blood cells, the FDA came out with warnings about Aranesp. Fortunately the warnings seem to only apply to situations where the recommended dose is exceeded, but I’ll still be checking with my Oncologist about it. I’ve only needed Aranesp twice so far, and it’s likely I won’t need it any more anyway.
We’re getting Verizon Fios installed tomorrow. A salesman came door to door last week and gave me a rundown of the costs. I’ve been looking into HDTV for a year or so, but both Cox Cable and DirecTV (which we have now for regular TV) were pretty expensive for HD. Fios HD (including DVR) is going to be less expensive than we’re paying DirecTV currently for SD (standard definition), so it seems like the time to change. I’ve also heard from customers that Fios’s SD picture quality is significantly better than DirecTV. About the only downside is that we’ll be forced to retire our TiVo, which is built into our DirecTV receiver, and switch to Verizon’s DVR. TiVo does have a new Series 3 box which is compatible with FioS, but it’s a $600 purchase, vs. nothing for the Verizon box. We love the TiVo, but not that much! We’re also getting Fios Internet installed, but that’s not as interesting as it’s the same speed as our Cox Internet, and only $2 per month cheaper. We’re sticking with Cox for telephone for now since it’s just $12 per month for the basic plan, where the cheapest Fios plan is something like $35, and we rarely use our land line anyway.
Saw the oncologist Tuesday… chatted about the Wii for a bit, chatted about chemo for a bit. Nothing much to report, just keep on going, light at end of tunnel, more than half done, downhill from here, blah blah blah. Also got bloodwork done, which showed my red counts dropping again, so I got a second shot of Aranesp on Wednesday to boost red cell production in my bones. Chemo was straightforward. I got hooked up pretty quickly this time, but then had a really long delay before they started giving me drugs. It’s hard for the few nurses there to run back and forth dealing with each patient, especially when it takes 30 minutes to get one patient set up. So far my symptoms aren’t quite as bad as last time, but it’s only been a day, so I won’t get my hopes up too high yet!
Today we’re flying down to Florida to visit my mom for a few days, and to get a quick injection of 70-80 degree weather to break up the monotony of an unusually cold Februrary in Virginia. Can’t wait!
Chemo’s taken longer this time to get out of my system… even Monday through Wednesday I was more tired than usual, and the usual bad/metallic taste lasted longer than usual. Pretty much back to normal now though. Have my monthly oncologist appointment and chemo #8 next week.
Next week we’re also getting Verizon FIOS installed for TV and internet access. FIOS TV with high definition will be the same price as our current DirecTV satellite service with standard definition, so it seems like a good deal. I’m a little nervous about the installation process, but hopefully it’ll turn out well.