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Welcome to my home page. I became blind at birth. I started programming computers at a young age. I also earned my general class amateur radio license, KA3TTT, a hobby to which I have returned with great joy. I practice Qigong and consider myself a Taoist. I use Linux as my desktop and Android as my mobile OS. I eat gluten-free vegan meals. For the rest you'll have to read my blog. To comment on what you read here, visit Disboardia, my bulletin board system.

My Awesome New Router and Firmware

May 28, 2010

I find it ironic that after bashing an inferior phone company and praising Verizon in my previous article, that I should now rail on them a little. This concerns FiOS Internet. Basically, the router they give you sucks, and to get the full potential of your wonderful connection, you need a better router with better firmware.

This became apparent as soon as I got FiOS installed. The web GUI relied heavily on javascript, of course, with lots of single-click flashy setup wizards. The baboon interface quickly enraged me. Adding port forwarding rules became reduced to a point and grunt contest with a poorly programmed robot. Somehow, perhaps through UPNP, perhaps through some black magick, it would find new ports that needed forwarding, and write new rules. I did not like that sort of scary automation. Let me define my own rules, thank you very much. Additionally, running nmap on my public IP address showed me that the router opened port 4567. Probing it showed a rudimentary server, ostensibly for receiving firmware updates, though only Goddess knows its true purpose. Finding some sort of server on my router troubled me deeply. It had to go.

I heard about the Asus RT-N16. I love my Asus Netbook, though have heard horror stories about their motherboards, and had never owned an Asus router, but it got universally good reviews. Most importantly, it runs Linux, comes with open-source firmware, and more importantly, it can run third party firmware such as DD-WRT. This I decided to do, so started researching and collating. The router arrived promptly from Amazon, then sat on my floor, waiting for the right time.

The time came early this evening, a full moon in a humid Spring sky. I felt good and prepared. I saved a few articles in case I would need them while offline, downloaded the appropriate firmware, and set to work. Before actually upgrading, I first connected it to my FiOS Ethernet line, just to make sure it would work without the stupid Actiontec. Fortunately, I had gotten Ethernet instead of coax, and a static IP address instead of a dynamic one. These two factors would play to my advantage. Tech savvy FiOS users should certainly request Ethernet installed for this reason. Only business FiOS offers static IPs.

I felt very glad that things had worked out so far, and decided to take the plunge. I first upgraded the firmware through the regular GUI, under the administration menu. I put in the filename, and waited while it showed the update’s percentage. At last it finished, and to my delight I saw DD-WRT. It asked me to input a username and password, which I did. Now, the time came to reset the router, which you must do the first time to force a reboot. This router has two buttons on the back – a raised one by the power jack, and a recessed one next to the two USB ports. Yes, it can share external drives and printers! One button, the recessed one I believe, acts as the reset button, and the other button, called WPS, supposedly sets up some kind of wireless network, but also acts as a deeper reset.

The first time I reset, I did a 30-30-30 power cycle using the recessed button. After waiting about fifteen minutes, I started getting a bad feeling. It occurred to me that perhaps I should have not done this upgrade during a thunderstorm, as a medium rain fell, and thunder periodically filled the air with a low rumble, providing an uneasy background to this intricate technical operation. I know it says to remain patient, and that it can mess it up if reset while in the middle of the initial boot, but given that time has passed, and that I could ping it but not access the http interface, I figured I should try another reset. This time, I pressed the

raised button, and it came right up. I had to reenter my username and password, but I didn’t care, it had worked! I proceeded to upgrade to the latest firmware.

I immediately fell in love. The interface has a simple feel, and I quickly found myself online at blazing fast speeds, complete with wireless. In no time at all I had my port forwarding rules reestablished – very impressive. The auto-refresh pissed me off, since it causes my speech synthesizer to start babbling on as it refreshes. I disabled it in the admin panel, but it still happens, albeit not as frequently, so I still have some work to do.

I feel very satisfied with this setup. I notice a definite speed increase. Downstairs, I get a solid 96% signal strength. Out back, where before I could hardly se the connection, I got a solid 58% signal. Those three antennas must help. I can even telnet in to my router, and do basic Linux commands. How cool! If you care about utilizing your Internet connection to its full potential, you need a real router. If you care about your freedom, you should use open-source firmware, such as DD-WRT. The combination of FiOS Business with Ethernet, the Asus RT-N16 router, and DD-WRT Linux firmware gives an extremely satisfying experience.

These represent initial impressions. I may post future articles if things change.

Unclear Rate Communications

May 27, 2010

So many companies these days have misnomers for names. Clear Rate Communications comes to mind. I thought I would do something to save money, but ended up getting burned. Listen to my tale and learn.

In January of this year, I had a fever. While coping with my illness, I received a call. The guy on the other end offered service from a new phone company. Ordinarily, I probably would have hung up after asking him to add my number to his do not call list. Perhaps because of my illness, or perhaps because I wanted to try to save some money on my phone bill, I listened. He assured me that they simply resell Verizon’s lines, since they buy them in bulk they can give better rates, and that I’d get the exact same quality. He assured me I could get unlimited long distance, something I need. Verizon would even still do repairs, I would just have to go through Clear Rate. That sounded reasonable, so I accepted.

Problems started immediately. On the day of the switch, I picked up my phone to find nothing. I had to use my cell phone to call Clear Rate, whose number I quickly memorized since I had a feeling I would need it frequently. I already had a bad feeling about this. I had fiber lines, and they had switched me over to their copper network.

Since my copper lines had fallen during a storm, they no longer existed, and hence I had no signal. This enraged me, but they promised me they’d have a Verizon tech out to fix it, which they did. Nevertheless, the line has a hum to this day.

After getting the line working, I wanted to set up my voice mail. I quickly noticed that the standard Verizon number didn’t work, so I called Clear Rate back for instructions, feeling glad I had memorized the number. They gave me a toll-free number to call, so I did. I felt disgraced to hear a completely uncustomized Asterisk PBX, stock prompts and all. This probably took them literally two hours to set up, they changed nothing I could see, as evidenced by the empty advanced menu. My contempt increased, and I laughed at their lameness, and began to regret switching.

After that debacle, things worked as well as expected, but a feeling of uneasiness remained. For one thing, I would not get an interrupted dial tone when I had voice mail, meaning I could miss messages more easily. For another thing, despite their name of Clear Rate, my bills never remained constant. Each month’s charges seemed a little different, and slowly increasing. This bothered me, so I called them back, once again glad I memorized their stupid number with the same looping hold music. At least they had a good attitude so far.

I’ve had a second line which came with the house, and for a while I held onto it with minimal coverage, since it would remain working when my main line failed during rainstorms. Since I switched companies, I left the package deal with Verizon, and my Verizon bill increased as well. Additionally, Clear Rate could not give me a good deal on the second line, which had now become superfluous. I now had a larger bill than I had with Verizon, less service, and more hassle. Besides, I felt like the Verizon techs regarded me as scum.

Finally, today something happened which capped it for me. I noticed long distance charges on my bill. I made sure I had unlimited long distance. When I called, the dork groggily told me that I had gone over the residential limit of 4,000 minutes per month. I became irate! “Do you mean to tell me that I only have 4,000 minutes of long distance per month?” “That’s right.” “At no time did they make this clear to me.” True enough, though a quick glance at their Terms of Service confirms this hideous truth. Apparently, consistently using a phone represents an inconsistent use of voice applications. I could not believe it. If I would have known that, I would never have switched. I knew what I had to do.

As soon as I began vehemently asking Duke Dork how I would go about switching my provider, his attitude began to shift. He told me I would have to call my provider of choice, and they would take care of it, so I did. I still had to do some running around Verizon’s system, which annoyed me, but I expected as much, and they

would welcome me back with open arms, according to one saleslady. She gave me a good deal, but wrote my number down incorrectly during the first verification. He transferred me back to the main number. It started burbling on. “Fuck!” I screamed. “OK, here is some help.” the robot calmly retorted. Did they actually map profane exclamations to the help function? It then gave me some error about not completing my call. Confused, I called their number for people with disabilities to also get free directory assistance, and finally got the verification completed as well. While waiting the second time, the song Satisfaction, by the Rolling Stones, played in the background – rather fitting.

I felt like I had won a war, but still had one small battle remaining. The Shire still needed scouring. Our friend from earlier called me back about my bill. He guiltily told me that they could

only take fifty dollars off my bill. I didn’t even care at this point, I just wanted out. On top of that, earlier he told me that I’d have to pay a $99 termination fee on each line. Those bastards got me up until the very end.

In summary, I wanted to do something to save money, but ended up spending far more. I also feel deceived, since at no point did someone make the 4,000 minute monthly limit clear. You can see for yourself, even on their web site, it has _Unlimited</em</a>> splashed all over it. They grossly overstate their abilities, and grossly oversell their services. To summarize the summary, if someone calls you promising you better service at a cheaper rate, take heed, and read their terms of service. To summarize the summary of the summary, people are a problem. If this article prevents just one person from getting ripped off, especially by these vagabonds, then I will feel like I have done my job. That makes me feel happy.</p>

I love my Bag Elite!

March 28, 2010

I love my netbook, but have wanted a case with a shoulder strap. The one recommended on Amazon only had handles. Friends felt similarly, and recently, one emailed me a link to the Netbook Bag Elite. I love it!

It looks more like a small suitcase than a bag, but it has the feel of a bag from having so many compartments. I can hardly count them all, but they all have a purpose. It has a small zipper pocket in the front, where I keep my newly acquired Olympus digital voice recorder, along with its accessories. Behind that, it has a cool Velcro pocket, with two perfect pockets for small devices, media cards, and the like. Each of these two little pockets has a pen holder. I haven’t found a use for this compartment yet, but I know I will. Next, we come to the small major compartment. It has a zipper which goes a little ways down on each side, securely closing it but making it easily accessible. I have all my netbook accessories in it, such as my charger, a spare Ethernet cable, and the like. It also has a smaller mesh bag on the outer wall where I keep a USB thumb drive, a USB four port hub also purchased at the same time, and a packet of Taza Chocolate stashed away for safe keeping.

Now, we come to the main netbook compartment. This compartment has a zipper which goes all the way down the bag, effectively dividing it in half. It can open all the way if you want, but usually you don’t need to. It makes for easy packing, though. My EeePC 1000HE fits snugly in it. It feels very cushioned by all the padding around it from the different compartments. The security makes me feel better about it. The back part has a separate Velcro compartment in it as well. I keep my desk stand in it. How many compartments does that make? Ten? I had to count three times. The back has a Velcro strap for attaching the bag to another piece of luggage. The bottom has little legs to help it stand, and it has Velcro-locking handles.

Now I must discuss the shoulder strap, since I got it because of that. At first, I couldn’t figure out why the bag didn’t have the hooks for the strap on the sides, as most things do. Rather, one hook resides on the front right corner, and the other on the back left corner. This makes it rotate back over your side closer to your back, rather than just hanging at your side and getting in the way. I found this ingenious. The strap has swiveling hooks to keep it from tangling, and the combination works. The strap has a broad support for the shoulder, making the whole thing extremely manageable.

The skin of the bag feels very rugged and professional, but still plush and slightly yielding. The whole thing gives my netbook and its accessories a very compact, portable, integrated, accessible, and secure feel. I have made my netbook become my new note-taker, and this bag represents an essential component. If you have a netbook, you really should take a look at the Bag Elite. I love mine! They named it well. It will make you feel elite, and confidence is key.

Blind Skiing for the First Time

March 08, 2010

Last year, my family began doing something called Secret Santa, where everyone has to buy a random person a gift. This year, my brother got me an adaptive skiing lesson. I didn’t know if I would enjoy it, but went with a mixture of thankfulness for the gift, nervousness, and grudging acceptance. I feel glad I did. I loved it! Skiing rules!

My brother doesn’t exactly remember the sequence of events that led to us going, but as near as we can reconstruct things, he first called Jack Frost Big Boulder, and they had an adaptive program. It turned out they couldn’t book us, so he ended up talking ti Isabel, of the Pennsylvania Center for Adaptive Sports.. She told him of the skiing program at Camelback Mountain. It worked out for the best, because they had a great program, and we got in by chance on the last full weekend of the season.

I’ve had a lot going on, and didn’t know if I would enjoy skiing, but I pulled myself together and off we went – me, my brother, one of my sisters, and one of her friends. It took us around three hours to drive. By the time we got there, we felt hungry, so made the questionable decision to eat at Chilis. My brother described it as bad Mexican. I figured I could hopefully find something vegetarian, and ended up with a black bean burger, which I don’t want to speak ill of, but by the end of the meal I sort of felt that way. Still, at least I found something vegetarian. We paid rather more than we wanted, and didn’t really mind, until we stepped outside and saw our hotel right across the street!

A Safari-themed Howard Johnson’s in the Pocono’s seemed rather odd and out of place. It had a Safari-themed pool. Everyone else went in for a few minutes, but my stomach felt like a cement mixer and I wanted to get online. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get their network to work with my Linux setup, the DHCP IP Lease Attempt failed, and they only provided generic Windows instructions. They also used some sort of proxy, as the instructions said something about having to accept terms of service when you start browsing, which made me nervous, as it sounded a bit too much like Red China for my tastes. I took the time to relax and let my food digest. Later, we all hung out in the Serengeti themed bar, a fake canopy of leaves uneasily dipping under its own weight over our heads. We got to bed and the next day had breakfast in the restaurant, and didn’t feel as bad about eating at Chilis, as the quality seemed similar. We left for the mountain with weighted stomachs and no time to spare.

Before I continue, let me say for sighted readers that a blind person, if they have dealt with blind institutions and if they have developed discernment, do not necessarily equate volunteer instructors with altruism or infallibility. I could tell you some horrible stories I have heard or experienced, but I will save that for another day and purpose. I only wish to point out that when I dispense the compliments to follow, that I do it honestly and from the heart, having seen both sides of the coin.

We arrived at Camelback Resort, and made our way up a brutal hill. We went into the building to get our passes and rental tickets. We all preregistered, a good idea since it saves you time and gets you out skiing more quickly. I told the friendly assistant named Jason that the web site has an invalid SSL certificate which makes Firefox pop up a scary warning complete with a button which reads “Get Me Out of Here!” This could definitely cost them registrations. It freaked me out. To my pleasant surprise, he knew what I meant, and said he’d pass the word on to I.T.

After getting our tickets, we went over to the adaptive sports building. Everyone there acted very courteously, and I would consider them a joy to deal with. They promised that they would start with the basics, and only do what I felt comfortable doing, and they kept to that promise. At no time did I feel obligated or pushed, as I did when I had to go to a sports camp with Lyme disease and almost drowned in a pool. The fact that they work as volunteers, and that one only has to pay $42 for a lift ticket and lesson makes this an amazing opportunity to anyone with a disability. They help the blind, and people with restricted movement. I even saw a girl named Austin in a wheel chair going out for a nice skiing ride. You just can’t lose with these people!

As luck would have it, we picked a wonderful day with temperatures in the low 50s. They call it spring skiing for a reason. I brought a lot of warm clothes to prepare for feeling too cold. I didn’t realize I would have to prepare for feeling too warm,, but I did. I switched my down jacket with a lighter jacket which my brother let to me, and I Even removed my flannel shirt. I felt glad I did, but felt even more glad that I slipped my packet of Taza Chocolate into my pocket. I must have eaten a disc and a half during the whole trip. “Is that medication?” “No, it’s raw chocolate.” You had it right the first time!

I met my instructors, named Peter and Pat. Peter showed me my ski shoes, and how they work. I found it interesting how the boots have custom springs and fittings based on ones height, weight, and ability. They have an inner and an outer part, the inner part goes over your foot, and the outer part has clamps which function like shoelaces, and the outer part also connects onto the ski with a forceful click. The boots also have a safety lever so if the ski comes off, the lever digs into the snow. After I got on my boots, we headed outside, and my brother even got to come along, something he had wanted to do.

While talking about skiing, Peter said something noteworthy to the blind. He compared the feeling of skiing for the first time to the feeling a guide dog user has when using a dog for the first time. I’ve never had a guide dog and wouldn’t want one, but I’ve tried using them and know what he means. It feels like a sort of out of control running. You know the movement has a purpose, but can’t do much to control it. I’ve gone sighted guide with dog users, and they certainly clip along at a good pace, since they have oriented themselves, similarly to how a skier learns to regain their balance and orientation.

I first had to learn to walk in the boots. This requires shuffling toe-first somewhat roboticly. We walked to the top of the bunny hill, a small (in comparison to a mountain) hill for learning. We began by just putting on one ski, and having me move it back and forth to get its feel. I learned to feel my point of balance between heel and toe. After I became acclimated, we put on the other ski. Now I could learn to begin to move.

Peter and Pat showed me the basic skiing position – back straight, butt in, head slightly down, and knees flexed. At first, I did feel rather scared, as my skis slipped around. After coasting a little, they showed me how to stop, by pointing the skis inward in a wedge shape. Once we had the basics, Peter hooked a tether to my skis so he could help maneuver from behind, and Pat skied backwards in front of us, giving me audio queues. This system worked very well to get me started. I only fell once, and took it well. By the way, when you fall, you will not just get buried in snow, at least I didn’t. Getting up can seem a little awkward, but I did it.

After a few tries, I made it to the bottom of the hill without stopping. To get back up, you use a chair lift. A friend warned me to take care around them, and I saw why. A chair hangs by a cable, and a wheel turns the cable. The chair goes up and down the hill sans interruption, so you have to get on and get off very quickly. If you try too early, you fall and it can hit you. If you try too late, you can fall off and get hurt. Peter gave me a three count, and I sat on the chair as it rose up. I thought I would feel scared of the chair lift, but I came to love it and to consider it half the fun, almost like an amusement park ride outdoors. It has a bar which comes down to rest your skis and give your ankles some rest. At the top of the hill, the bar goes up and you unload and begin immediately moving, so the wedge comes in handy to slow down and stop. I fell the first time I tried it, but after a few times I did some good unloads.

At this point our lesson had ended, and as it had gotten to around noon, we all wanted lunch. Also, my brother received a text message from our sister which simply said “Done skiing” so we figured that we should check on her. My sister and her friend had gone off to do their own thing. Her friend took her to a black diamond trail, a very hard trail not for beginners. Her friend said “See you at the bottom” and left her to take off her skis and sadly walk down. We felt bad, and said she should join us. We made fun of her friend for the rest of the day, and things worked out.

We decided to go to one of the places they had for lunch. I enjoyed the eighties pop music playing throughout the resort. I considered it classic ski resort music. At one point, I even heard the song Once in a Lifetime, by the Talking Heads, while standing at the top of the hill waiting to go down. I’ve heard that song so many times in so many different circumstances, and it always seems just as fresh and relevant. Perfect! I also heard a bunch of old Genesis, and the Alan Parsons Project. I ended up with some cheese pizza, of which I could only eat half because any more would exceed my grease quota. We got fries, but all felt similarly apparently. I drank root beer the whole time. My instructors told me that they had a light afternoon, and to check back to see if we could get a second lesson. To our delight, we could, and did. It only cost another $20! Like I said, you just can’t lose with these people.

When we went back to the building, we found another delightful surprise in store for us. I heard people talking, and it turned out a reporter from The Pocono Record had come with a photographer. Of course I wanted to talk, I love telling reporters cool stories. We talked a little about my thoughts and feelings about the skiing program, and I enthusiastically told her how much I love skiing after trying it for the first time. The photographer took some pictures, and I hope they turned out well. They wrote an article about it. I love getting published!

The time had come for my second lesson. After skiing with a tether, I felt more confidant, and my instructors decided to try the next step. Instead of a rope tether, we would all hold onto a bamboo pole. Peter skied to my left, Pat to my right. We noticed that I would often move to the right, towards Pat, and that I didn’t have an awareness of the correct place to put my hands on the pole. Peter had some wire ties, and I had my Swiss Army knife, and soon we had a prototype. “I like a guy who carries a Swiss Army knife.” They also put a bungee cord on my skis, to give me a little more control, but to still help guide me. I needed to focus on keeping my right knee in especially when turning. Using the pole and bungee gave a new experience, as I had more freedom. I had to do more, but I also enjoyed it more, as my skis didn’t feel as restricted.

After making it down the hill a number of more times with increasing confidence and ability, the time had come for a real test. At the end of the hill, it would slope less, becoming almost flat. They had me ski unassisted. At first, I felt a loss of control and cursed, so they gave me back the pole, but a few seconds later I went for it and let go! I skied freely! Both instructors remained at my side in case of emergencies, but I made it down. I felt great!

After that we decided to take a little break at the lodge, since I still had time. My knees had started to hurt, and Peter said that I should have fun on my first day, and to only do what felt comfortable. We all met up at the lodge for $3 water and more root beer for me. We all talked, and I felt glad to take the break, so I could do the final runs feeling better.

For my final runs, we went back to using the bamboo pole. The second to last one went well. We skied down, and Pat and I took the lift up. For our final run, both instructors kept their mouths shut, letting me call the turns. I began to really enjoy it, sort of “seeing” or sensing the mountain’s contours through the skis. This went pretty well until something insane happened. A snowboarder for some reason could not figure out that he had to get out of the way of three people skiing in parallel all wearing bright orange vests saying “Blind Skier” and “Instructor”. We swerved. Pat whipped the pole out of Peter’s hands and I went with it, staying on my feet. We went around a half circle and came to a stop. We collected ourselves and finished my last run. I continued without queues, but they took over as we got to the bottom. What a way to finish.

I felt sad to have taken my last run, but exhilarated from the day as we went back to the adaptive sports building. We all talked and said our thanks and good byes. They said they love turning new people on to skiing, so I made their day, and that brings me joy. It will also bring me joy if this article turns some others onto skiing, especially the disabled. I will definitely go back next year. I felt sad that I discovered skiing on the last weekend of the season, but very glad that I discovered it at all. . Today completely changed my view of skiing and my life. The fact that it costs forty-two dollars should mean something to any Douglas Adams fan. You should really give skiing a try. I just hope I feel that way tomorrow. When I let my mind wander, I can still feel a sense of motion. If I get into the skiing stance, I can almost feel the long skis protruding.

My instructors both said that I did very well to ski for four hours on my first day, and said that I have high endurance. I credit that to meditating regularly. Pat mentioned a book called Inner Skiing. While reflecting (or perhaps self-reflecting), I began thinking about skiing metaphorically. It makes a good mirror for life. You stand before a big hill. You suddenly find yourself sliding down. You have to react, and go with the terrain, but ultimately remain passive, and do whatever you can to prevent yourself from falling. You finally reach the bottom, and collect yourself. You go over to the chair lift, go on a somewhat giddy and wild free-falling ride upward to start the whole cycle again. After it all, you end up with only your joy and your pain and a tattered lift ticket. This applies to the stock market as well. Skiing rules.

If anyone involved has any corrections or additions, please submit them in the comments below, or mail me privately. Thanks everyone for participating. Thanks Ari for the awesome Christmas gift. I had no idea how much I would love it. They have lots of fun programs, so it will give us an excuse to do cool stuff together and to get out of working. At the end, Pat said: “You’re a good brother.”


51.  Chen / The Arousing (Shock, Thunder)

          -- --
          -- --     above     Chen   The Arousing, Thunder
          -----
          -- --
          -- --     below     Chen   The Arousing, Thunder
          -----

     The Judgement

          Shock brings success.
          Shock comes-oh, oh!
          Laughing words-ha, ha!
          The shock terrifies for a hundred miles,
          And he does not let fall the sacrificial spoon and chalice.

     The Image

          Thunder repeated: the image of Shock.
          Thus in fear and trembling
          The superior man sets his life in order
          And examines himself.

     The Lines

     ()   Nine at the beginning means:
          Shock comes-oh, oh!
          Then follow laughing words-ha, ha!
          Good fortune.

          Nine in the fourth place means:
          Shock is mired.


     2.   K'un / The Receptive

          -- --
          -- --     above     K'un   The Receptive, Earth
          -- --
          -- --
          -- --     below     K'un   The Receptive, Earth
          -- --

     The Judgement

          The Receptive brings about sublime success,
          Furthering through the perseverance of a mare.
          If the superior man undertakes something and tries to lead,
          He goes astray;
          But if he follows, he finds guidance.
          It is favorable to find friends in the west and south,
          To forego friends in the east and north.
          Quiet perseverance brings good fortune.

     The Image

          The earth's condition is receptive devotion.
          Thus the superior man who has breadth of character
          Carries the outer world.

A review of Horizons, a Vegan Restaurant in Philadelphia

March 04, 2010

I just went to an incredible vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia called Horizons. They only serve vegan food, so I felt right at home. I right this on the ride home, and I feel satiated.

We had to go out to dinner with Dad. I didn’t know what would happen, so I ate something beforehand. Considering we spent one Christmas Eve at Ted’s Montana Grill, this seemed like a wise precaution. Unknown to me, my brother picked this all vegan restaurant for me, and for Dad’s wife, who also eats a vegan diet. Needless to say, my stomach feels uncomfortably full.

We arrived, and had to go up a bunch of winding stairs. It reminded me of going up to an attic. My brother’s wife said that before this, the building housed a weird bar that nobody went into. I entered the floor, hearing the sound of a fountain, and got a good feeling. At this point, I still didn’t know that this place served all vegan food, but found out as soon as I sat down and got my bearings.

We read over the menus, and I felt overwhelmed in a good way. My Dad felt skeptical, and had some smart ass questions for our waitress, named Lisa by the way. True, a $20 mushroom dish might seem a bit strange to some, but you get some really good mushrooms! We decided to order some appetizers and share them, and settled on the Vietnamese tacos with tempeh and lemongrass, and Jamaican Seatan. Dad and some others got the Tame and Wild Mushroom plate, and I got the Grilled Seatan.

The Grilled Seatan tasted wonderful. Seatan makes a great meat substitute, and they made it moist and grilled, like one would barbecue meat. The Yukon Mash complimented it wonderfully, made with Yukon Gold potatoes. Don’t even mention the wonderful horseradish sauce! I only needed a little taste to know I loved it.

Needless to say, I got quite full quite quickly, but still wanted to try a dessert. I settled on the bitter-sweet chocolate tart. It came with smokey peanut butter vegan ice cream, and this weird orange stuff which balanced it out. I loved it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything with cacao, but this still satisfied me.

All and all, I loved my meal. It will take several times going there to even sample everything. Each of the entrees come from a different part of the world, so pick your favorite part of the world for eating and enjoy!

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