Disappointing   Leave a comment

I would have liked to have seen French, Dutch/Flemish, and German as part of the languages choices at this ATM. Also, Russian is absent.

Oh well.

I’ll add that one of my cards will automatically get me French in some ATMs.

Promenade Frites/frietjes   Leave a comment

I was curious as to whether what are called “Boardwalk Fries” in some parts of the US are the same thing as the Belgian Frite.  They are indeed.

What makes a frite (or Boardwalk Fry) a Frite is that they are cooked twice.  First, at a low temperature and then at a higher temperature.  This is how Ruth Van Waerebeek, the author of Everybody Eats Well in Belgium describes the process:

There is no fancy skill involved in making these crispy fries, but there is a trick. The potatoes are fried twice. The first time cooks them through and makes them tender. The second time, which can be done hours later just before serving, turns them golden brown and deliciously crisp.

Ms. Van Waerebeek also suggest that one use older potatoes for frites since young potatoes have not had enough time to develop sufficient starch.

Although, there are some differences in how they are served which makes a difference between Boardwalk Fries and Belgian Frites.  The Maryland version can have Old Bay and Apple Cider vinegar (not malt vinegar a la mode Anglais).  Also, Belgian frites are served with mayonnaise with some restaurants spicing up the mayonnaise with curry.

I do have to admit that having my suspicion confirmed that Boardwalk fries were prepared the same way that Belgian Frites were makes me think that Moules and Frites should also make it to the US Boardwalks.  Dat zou heel mooi zijn!

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Bart King, the most important cricket player that no one has seemed to have heard of.

I once had a theory that cricket was no longer played in the United States because Americans weren’t good at it, but I have since learned about Bart King, who is one of the world’s best cricketeers. Yet, no one has heard of him.  Bart King provides an excellent analogy for US cricket culture, which has been driven underground by other sports.

Cricket was played in the North American British Colonies by at least the beginning of the 18th century. The earliest definite reference to American cricket is in the 1709 diaries of William Byrd of Westover about matches on his James River estates in Virginia. The game was so popular that the troops at Valley Forge played matches with George Washington participating in at least one game of “wicket.”  Not sure if I can really mention Thomas Jefferson’s digs at Williamsburg, but they had a cricket bat there.  That led to me explaining how to play cricket to the docents!


Bart King

US cricket culture is best described by this quote from an Article on King from the Guardian:

Nowadays, as everyone knows, Americans don’t play cricket. The surprise is that until well into the 20th century, they not only played cricket, but played it almost to test match standard. Until baseball overwhelmed it less than 100 years ago, cricket was America’s most widely played team game. It thrived, especially in the Philadelphia area, where more than 120 clubs existed at various times. In 1905, more than 400 matches were played in Philadelphia in a single season. Almost all the players were American, and King was the best.

On three occasions before the first world war, Philadelphia was strong enough to mount first-class tours of England – playing and beating county sides. There was talk of the US becoming the fourth test match-playing nation, although that prize went to the West Indies. As late as 1912, Philadelphia defeated an Australian test team by two runs. King, then 39, took nine for 78 in the match with his fast inswing. After two decades in the game he still reigned as Philadelphia’s king of swing.

Within a generation, cricket in the US had all but collapsed. One or two Wasp schools and colleges on the east coast continued to play. Touring sides occasionally crossed the Atlantic to play knockabout cricket at club level, as they still do today. In Hollywood, a team which boasted Errol Flynn as opening batsman and Boris Karloff as wicketkeeper, kept going into the 40s. But America’s years as a cricket power were over, never to return.

Cricket’s status in the US may be changing as more people move to the US from the West Indies, Pakistan, India, and other nations where there is a cricket culture.  I remember writing to ESPN in the 1980s and asking why they didn’t cover a sport which is immensely popular throughout the world only to be told there wasn’t any interest.   This was about the time that an international cricket magazine did an article about Philadelphia’s cricket culture.


Belmont Cricket Club

The status of cricket has changed somewhat in the US and ESPN now has Cricinfo as part of its sports empire.  Even better, the Sports Authority sells cricket equipment!  While the gear for playing cricket is expensive, one can find inexpensive equipment on eBay, or used.

There was even a professional cricket league called Pro Cricket which was formed in 2004 with eight geographically distributed teams organized in two divisions. Most teams used minor league baseball parks as home fields during that first and only year of league operation. However, with the absence of adequate revenue the league closed at the end of the 2004 season.

Perhaps, the real reason that cricket fell to the wayside is not that there were no good US players, but that the sport takes a long time to play if one gets into serious cricket.  Test matches can last several days.  This is a game where winning streaks are measured in centuries.  That is something which does not go well with a society where leisure is not valued.

Of course, there are the limited over games which can allow for something which is more inline with US culture. One can have a one day cricket match.  Commentator Robert Waller predicted that cricket “had taken so deep a root in Philadelphia that it could never be uprooted”.  While cricket may not be the main focus of the remaining Philadelphia cricket clubs, they still exist.

Cricket has not died in the US and the fact that there is even a cricket underground means the sport still has some popularity, but it may be a while before people start saying “as American as Cricket.”

See also:

Posted 09/10/2014 by lacithedog in Cricket, US Cricket

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Alternative History musings

The usual theme in North American history is that there is some form of “British” victory in the War for Independence (AKA the American Revolution), but I have to admit to being intrigued by the possibility of a French Victory in the French and Indian/Seven Years War.  There are so many more factors that could be different had the French and Indian war been different.  It’s too easy to look at Canada and get an idea of what a Unified British North America might be like, but there are far too many things that could have been different had the French won the earlier war.

For example:

  • Would France have been as broke?  Or would it have had a way to purge its excess population?
  • What if George Washington had been killed along with General Braddock?
  • Would the resulting nation be multicultural, or assimilated into French Culture?
  • Would Indian food be associated with French cuisine?
  • Would there be a different concept of civil rights and the role of the police?
  • Would the 13 Colonies have remained separate, but much diminished in size and much closer to Britain (think an overgrown British version of St. Pierre et Miquelon).

Obviously, the world would be quite different from a change in the outcome of the War for Independence as the Seven Years war did a lot to contribute to how the next war would turn out, or even happen.

Man’s search for meaning on the Internet.

It just became nothingness and I realised all was an illusion:guruji

Posted 07/10/2014 by lacithedog in guru, meditation, metaphysics

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French characters

The French keyboards used to drive me nuts when I worked in Belgium, but you need the characters if you don’t want the following problem:

pêche, péché

C’etait vraiment un peche pour le pecheur de manger la peche.
C’était vraiment un péché pour le pêcheur de manger la pêche


Aimer le pecheur deteste le peche.
Aimer le pécheur déteste le péché

The solution is to use ALT codes to get the properly accented character.

ALT codes only work with the numeric keypad, NOT the row of numbers across the top of your keyboard. So they won’t work on a laptop unless you hit number lock to activate the number pad “built into” the right-side of your keyboard, which is a big hassle because then the letters won’t work. Bottom line, if you’re on a laptop, choose a different keyboard rather than messing around with ALT codes.

To type accents with ALT codes, hold down the ALT key, then on the numeric keypad type the three or four digits listed here. When you release the ALT key, the character will appear.

a with grave accent
à ALT + 133 À ALT + 0192

a with circumflex
â ALT + 131 Â ALT + 0194

a with tréma
ä ALT + 132 Ä ALT + 142

a e ligature
æ ALT + 145 Æ ALT + 146

c with cedilla
ç ALT + 135 Ç ALT + 128

e with acute accent
é ALT + 130 É ALT + 144

e with grave accent
è ALT + 138 È ALT + 0200

e with circumflex
ê ALT + 136 Ê ALT + 0202

e with tréma
ë ALT + 137 Ë ALT + 0203

i with circumflex
î ALT + 140 Î ALT + 0206

i with tréma
ï ALT + 139 Ï ALT + 0207

o with circumflex
ô ALT + 147 Ô ALT + 0212

o e ligature
œ ALT + 0156 Œ ALT + 0140

u with grave accent
ù ALT + 151 Ù ALT + 0217

u with circumflex
û ALT + 150 Û ALT + 0219

u with tréma
ü ALT + 129 Ü ALT + 154

French quotation marks
« ALT + 174 » ALT + 175

Euro symbol (also mentioned here)
€ ALT + 0128

Posted 06/10/2014 by lacithedog in French, french language

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Unintended consequences

I did a post a while back about how my paypal account somehow defaulted to French. I decided to keep it that way to work on my French.

The unexpected advantage is that if anyone pretends to be Paypal and sends me something in English–I know it’s a scam.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a good idea to change the default language if you can’t speak it.

Posted 01/10/2014 by lacithedog in French

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