Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Makes for a Good Reuben

I am somewhat known for my quest to find the best Reuben sandwich. A Reuben includes corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing on rye bread. A friend recently decided what I was going to eat for lunch (a practice I am perfectly happy with - it keeps me trying new things and makes for a good few seconds of conversation about why people choose a particular item for me). She chose the Pastrami Melt at Planet Sub because it had Sauerkraut like a Reuben, but wasn't the Reuben, which I probably got often already (I've never actually had the Reuben sub there). Before she ordered, she expressed regret that she didn't better know what I like. So, this blog post is for her.

A good Reuben for me involves each ingredient. The corned beef should be sliced thinly so that it easily tears apart. Nothing is more annoying than a thick slice of corned beef getting pulled out entirely just because you can't bite through it perfectly. Honestly, I don't often taste the corned beef all that strongly, so it's mainly a practicality issue. In general, the more cheese any food has, the better. A Reuben is probably the same way. I have not yet had a Reuben that had too much Swiss cheese. I have no idea why sauerkraut is part of a Reuben. Sauerkraut isn't particularly good, but it's on every Reuben, so who am I to argue? My favorite part of a Reuben is probably the Thousand Island dressing. So many places cripple their Reuben by skimping on the Thousand Island dressing. Finally, the rye bread should be thick enough to be sturdy in the face of grease from corned beef, Thousand Island dressing, and whatever liquid is part of sauerkraut. On the other hand, it shouldn't be so thick as to be a hindrance to the eating process. This also means the crust shouldn't be rock hard.

My quest for the perfect Reuben started when my grandma took me to O'Neill's many, many years ago. I actually haven't been back, but it was quite a good Reuben. It must have been in order to start a quest, no? Up until very recently, my favorite Reuben was in a place in Michigan that I don't know the name of, nor a location more specific than Michigan. This past weekend, I had brunch at The Cook Shack Cafe, and their Reuben was quite excellent. The corned beef was so greasy that it wasn't clear whether or not it was actually corned beef. It still could have used more Thousand Island dressing and slightly thicker bread, but it was great all-around.

I of course do not mean this to be a criticism of my friend's choice of entrees for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the Pastrami Melt despite the large amounts of sauerkraut and mustard. =)

President Barack Obama's State of the Union 2010

I am typing this with a cat on my lap, somewhat restricting typing. I apologize in advance for any large delays or missed items. Though, to be fair to myself, I don't have any plans to provide 100% coverage or anything.

Obama is starting with a little bit of inspiration, or perhaps more of a lowering of expectations. This is another crisis similar to so many other problems we've overcome, and this is how bad it is. I definitely like how he says this is why he ran for president, and how the problems are nothing new. It's a decent way of establishing himself as a man in control; a man with a plan.

The first round of applause! Arg. I can't really echo his hope for the future at the moment. I don't see things improving so much that it's the most hopeful time for the country.

Starting with the economy makes me wonder if there will be any time for other topics. Listening to these speeches always makes me wonder at the validity of many of these statistics. will eventually come back with an analysis, but that doesn't help at this very moment. The personal stories are nice, but there are plenty of people that are still unemployed. And what do you know, Obama has just addressed that. Good job. Now I'm curious as to what this new jobs bill might entail.

While the Republicans aren't cheering, and Fox News has had plenty of talking points about the TARP repayments being spent when that wasn't the deal originally, I like the idea of $30 billion to community banks to lend to small businesses. The TARP funds were meant to get banks lending again, and they didn't much. It seems right that those funds are being put back to work more directly for this purpose.

The fastest trains aren't all that important to me. Trains are among the most efficient transports we have for cargo, and that should be emphasized. Truckers might not like a more efficient train shipping system, though.

Serious financial reform. I have a feeling the threat to send a bill back is somewhat hollow. But, as vague as his statement is, I support the general idea. I think.

Advanced batteries? Did you hear about IBM working with the DOE on Lithium Air batteries? Exciting stuff. Safe, clean nuclear power plants is a very good idea. It's been a long time coming. I wonder if thorium reactors will end up being the way things go. Clean coal technologies still sounds like an impossibility.

The government stepping in to alter the affordability of clean energies is a touchy issue. It's messing with supply and demand, and that's always worrisome. I think it's necessary to encourage more research and development in this area, and that can only be done by making them commercially viable in the short term - otherwise no money comes in. It's necessary for the long term to avoid an energy supply crash in the short/medium/long term (depending on the study you are referencing), and I wish people would make that point better in their debates.

Exporting more of our goods is great. No one understands how to do that, though, except maybe a few people. Oh well.

Education is a major key to long term prosperity. I would argue that we have a lot more issues than funding for college. We have tons of people that do not wish to go to college. We have tons of people that don't apply themselves at all in high school. There's an attitude problem in too many young people. That's hard to change with federal policy.

Health insurance reform is absolutely necessary. Health insurance is readily accessible for the wealthy, and keeps them from going bankrupt. The poor can't afford health insurance, and then are kept down by every little doctor visit. It makes it harder for people to get ahead and succeed. I strongly support health care reform. I think the currently proposed plan has a lot of problems, though. We'll see what happens, I guess.

There's a lot of truth to what Obama says about inheriting the deficit. has a pretty good analysis in quite a few of their articles (copy and pasted every time someone on Fox News blames Obama for the entire deficit). The spending freeze is a fine idea, but from everything I've heard it is quite limited in scope.

Obama is absolutely correct that the public does not trust the government. There is too much fighting over basic facts to ever get to policy debates. Basically, there is no debate happening, and that doesn't encourage anyone that government is actually getting things done.

I like Obama's slap at the Supreme Court. I can see the argument on both sides, but I think it is dangerous to treat corporations as equal to citizens - they really aren't the same thing. The power corporations have is enormous already.

I am very glad Obama has called the Republicans out on just saying no to everything. It definitely isn't helpful in the least. And the name calling he is talking about now is one of my biggest problems with politicians. It doesn't help get anything done. I don't think this will actually help that stop, but wouldn't it be great?

There are too many questions as to how to pull out all combat troops from Iraq by August to cover in this speech. I really hope a very detailed plan will follow soon.

When it comes to foreign policy, statements get even more vague than they are on other giant topics. It makes talking about them here very difficult. Everything he's saying about freedom and equality for all people is nice, of course.

I'm afraid I missed how he transitioned into homosexuals in the military, but I'm all for ending that discrimination.

It sounds like he's wrapping up now with political unity. He is absolutely right that there is a lot of cynicism. We do need people to lift the level of debate. I have the urge to switch to Fox News after this and see if they immediately start calling names again, or if they rest for a few minutes to notice that he is talking to them (among others, of course).

Overall, I liked the speech, and think it was pretty effective. There were some inconsistencies, but it should at least help set the stage for some more details in the near future. Let's hope they come.

Fox News is saying now that it really is the Democrats' fault because they had complete control of both houses. The fact that Democrats are not 100% united is encouraging to me. It shows that they are thinking for themselves. I like independent thought.