Thursday, November 3, 2011

Got website?

Lately I've been spending a little too much free time on my website Earlier in the year I revamped a website for Chopstix Asian Kitchen using ASP.NET, and that energized and inspired me to get something up to market myself.

Maybe it's a bit geeky, but I really do enjoy this stuff. I'll admit, getting CSS (cascading style sheets) to work properly is a bit of a pain in the booty. However I learned a few things along the way, like how to:
  • use the master page feature of ASP.NET, which keeps your code modular and easier to maintain
  • display an rss feed from another source on a website
  • display a YouTube feed (not working :-/ ) (similar to the rss feed)
  • create a form-based guestbook with field validation
It will probably always be a work in progress; there's always room for improvement or more (and better) content. But at least I've got something there.

Monday, October 24, 2011

On Chopstix and Chopsticks

We had a pleasant surprise in our little slice of St. Louis a few years ago. The new Buzz Westfall Plaza on the Boulevard (another Sansone property) opened where the old Northland Plaza had been, and alongside the new Schnucks, Target and the many little shops was a cute little Chinese food joint called Chopstix Asian Kitchen.

We eyed it suspiciously as we drove past for a few days on our way to the Schnucks grocery store. Then, on one of these drives, a pleasantly fragrant odor reached our noses and we had to check it out. We knew it was Chopstix, since there was nothing else in the way of restaurants in that little area, plus this was the distinct smell of Chinese food!

Once inside, we ordered some lettuce wraps, and probably the Singapore noodles. It's not a huge restaurant, but tastefully decorated, with seating for about 30.

We found the food to be fresh, hot, and delicious. And unlike most local Chinese joints, the food at Chopstix is cooked to order in an open kitchen. The staff is very friendly and courteous, as well.

More than three years later, we are still regular customers at Chopstix. In fact, I recently took over their webmaster and email marketing duties.

Of course, they do have chopsticks at Chopstix, and I do recommend using them! It takes just a moment to learn it, and maybe a little longer to really get the hang of it, but the benefit is that the metallic flavor of the fork is no longer an issue. And you can always use the fork when your hand gets tired.

Chopstix Asian Kitchen
Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM-10PM, Sun 12PM-9PM

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tied Down - Or Not

What's the deal with highway drivers not tying down their loads? I get the impression they don't realize the danger they are causing for other drivers.

Today I ran over what must have been an aluminum gutter, or at least a long, bent up piece of sheet metal of some sort. I don't know if it did any damage, but it hit the underside of my car.

Yesterday I found myself stuck in the right lane on Highway 70 - semi on my left - unable to dodge a couple of large plastic trash cans. Some cars and trucks ahead of us hit them.. they were airborne, and then the semi on my left hit one of 'em.. and then of course, I hit one of them. As far as I could tell, little to no damage, luckily.

A few months ago, I was driving east on Page and heading toward the 170 south entrance ramp. There was an overloaded pickup truck with furniture, and it looked like the load wasn't tied down at all. He made it through the stoplight, but I had to wait.

By the time I made it onto 170, this guy was a good deal ahead of me. But then (of course), I see furniture on the highway. Not surprised! He was pulled over just before the Olive exit, trying to collect his load off the roadway.

Last year I had to dodge a queen-size mattress on 270. What would that do to your car at 60mph? It's just insane. My brother was a ways behind us, so I called him to warn him.. of course, he doesn't answer his phone when he's driving!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Black Expo, Church Picnic

I must say, I had a really good weekend.

On Friday night, I found out on Twitter that @ToyaWright (fka Antonia Carter, reality TV star of "Tiny & Toya") was going to be at the Missouri Black Expo on Saturday to sign copies of her book. That was pretty much all the incentive I needed to add a trip to the Expo to our weekend!

On Saturday, we took off for downtown, stopped by the office to say "hi" to a few of the wife's co-workers that were doing overtime, and headed to the convention center for the Expo.

We were pleasantly suprised to find that the Expo is, once again, almost as good as it was years ago. In recent years, the Expo was very disappointing, with few exhibitors present, and all the food sample booths were apparently prohibited for awhile. There was always a booth or two of bootleggers (CDs and DVDs), which was puzzling to me.

This year, the room was filled with exhibitors, there was a boxing ring, a main stage, a few food/drink sample booths, and even some Southern-style food, including some excellent waffles from Waffle King, which should be opening a store soon in the Delmar Loop area.

At noon, on the main stage, Toya Wright and a number of other authors talked about their books, and later were available to sign copies. Among them was Tanya Wright, author and actress on the show "True Blood".

We stopped first to get Tanya's book, and the wife talked with her for a little while. Meanwhile, there was a line to meet with Toya. Some of the girls in line were pretending to buy the book so they could meet her.

I was probably a bit nervous, and maybe she was as well, because she dotted my "g"!
Anyway, we bought that one too, and had her sign it. Then we took a pic of Lil Dude with her. She's a beautiful girl for sure, and her book, part autobiography, part advice, aimed (mostly) at young girls, is really very good.

JJ with Toya Wright
Sunday I was scheduled to play a "church picnic" gig in Bellefontaine Neighbors with Latin jazz keyboardist Phil Gomez. We arrived an hour before the gig, and there was not a soul in sight. So we headed to Steak-n-Shake, got slow service and burgers to go, and returned to find a modest crowd of cars in the lot.

As it turns out, there was no picnic, just us playing a concert in the sanctuary to a very polite audience of mostly seniors. Even though we skipped the death metal, we had a good time, and the audience seemed to have enjoyed it as well. They invited us to share some cookies and punch after the show.

We were told that unfortunately, the punch was not spiked.

Sunday night ended with two episodes of "True Blood" and a dinner that included chicken wings and fried, homegrown eggplant topped with goat cheese. This wife of mine can really throw down. I'm a lucky man.