Astrology & April’s Jenniforecast.

Astrology.

What a weird, touchy subject.  People share politics and colonoscopy results, but ask their sign? Now hang on a minute. That’s personal.

Like it or not, astrology is a science. Maybe a pseudoscience which means it doesn’t get funding and experts are ridiculed behind their backs. But it’s science nonetheless.

Every person I’ve ever met loves staring at the night sky. Heads against the grass. Eyes twinkly. Thoughtful. We’re commanded to peace in those moments, aren’t we. Staring. Wondering. Feeling connected without knowing why.

Maybe because every single atom in our human body is made of elements forged by dying stars. Really. Did you know that?  Joni Mitchell did. David Bowie did. Carl Sagan, too.

Oh ya! Good ole Carl! We love that guy!

Sagan was an astronomer.

Sagan_Image

Astronomers (in simplest terms) study planets, moon, stars, galaxies, and all things celestial.

Astrologers (in simplest terms) study planets, moon, stars, galaxies, all things celestial, and their positional effects on humans.

Can you name a famous astrologer?

*crickets*

I get it. I really do. Heavily jeweled people with tacky websites slinging words like psychic and prediction don’t help. But let’s be objective. Just for a moment.

Astrology’s not woo-woo. Nor is it connected to evil. That may be the most irritating dismissal of this study. If a benevolent God created our infinite Universe, wouldn’t some part of it have some effect on us? Even a little tiny one? I mean, wouldn’t it be weirder if it didn’t?

That was rhetorical, by the way.  Of course the heavens affect us.

Ask an ER nurse what happens during a full moon. Too subjective? Consider the moon and tides. Gravitational pull isn’t mystical, yo. It’s science. Our bodies are 60% water. Make the leap. Is it magic when female roommates and colleagues eventually synchronize menstrual cycles?

That’s just the moon, folks. There’s a lot more galaxy out there. (I think I lost the men with the period talk.) Guys, I’ll give you a second. Go ask a girl about the period thing. Go ahead. We’ll wait. It’s freaky. But it’s true.

Our universe is mysterious and we don’t have the all the answers. Anyone who claims they do is probably after your money.

Do I swear by astrology? No.  I wouldn’t even call myself an advocate. But I acknowledge its logical approach to answering questions. Reputable astrologers aren’t hovering over crystal balls. They’re studying charts, tables, graphs, and it’s CRAZY complicated. Have you ever seen a birth chart?

astro_24gw_52_john_lennon_1980128-73450-27924

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So that’s where horoscopes come in. Horoscopes are like Cliff’s Notes for all that complicated work. Newspapers can’t accommodate deep celestial findings for twelve different signs. That’s why they’re so general. They have to be. And that’s it. You can tack loaded words like divination to it if you want. But isn’t that a bit –I dunno– dramatic?

Right now we have 88 official constellations and 76 you’ve probably never heard of. The other 12 are named for the Zodiac.

Sagittarians are smartest! Capricorns the luckiest! Scorpios the best lovers!

Whatever. All humans are subject to luck, intelligence, and varying levels of talent in the sack. Reporting that Virgos are anally retentive doesn’t mean Aquarians or Cancers aren’t.  But let’s pick on Virgo a moment, because they can handle it. (Capricorns? Not so much.)

Next time you’re out dining with a Virgo, pull all the sugar packets from the caddy. Leave them disorganized on the restaurant table. You watch that Virgo squirm. Chances are they’ll put them all back in order. By color. Patting the edges to ensure they’re all in there square then look at you like, what?

Hardcore astrologers break it down even further, dissecting each sign into four: Gemini I, II, III, or Cusp, for example. And they ALL have different readings. Late-May Geminis are obsessive. Early-June Geminis, not so much. What would people think?

But I’m here to remove complication and deliver April’s Jenniforecast.

So let’s get on with it.

Aries (March 20-April 19)
Karma is STRONG in your world right now. Your loving–and not so loving– actions yield swift reactions, so be careful. Especially around that person going out of their way to undermine you. P.S. It’s okay to let someone else hold the reigns. Really. NO REALLY. Drop the reigns, Aries. Advice: Don’t act. Observe. Avoid financial decisions that include the word ‘quick’ or ‘now.’

Taurus (April 20-May 20)
Ooh, this is an emotional month for you. If you feel fragile, it’s because hard lessons are repeating. Why aren’t you listening? The most powerful thing you can do this month is get enough rest and quit resisting. Repeat after me: CHANGE IS GOOD. It’ll feel better on the other side. Promise. Advice: Speak up when they ask. And quit procrastinating.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)
This month promises to end well for you, Gemini. But you must be VERY clear with your intentions. The universe won’t deliver if you’re not clear with your wish list. The stars predict an unexpected blessing and remind you that not all blessings are financial. See what happens when you stop making excuses? Advice: Don’t take sides. Think diplomacy.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You had some really good ideas last month. Why haven’t you done anything? It’s okay to dream big. And you don’t need someone’s permission to move forward or be happy. The stars encourage you to be a bit selfish this month, Cancer. The time is NOW. Advice: Curb your aggression, though. No one likes a control freak.

Leo (July 23-Aug 22)
Don’t try to multi-task this month, Leo. One thing at a time. People have been very patient, but now’s not the time to tap dance on anyone’s good graces. Make a list –and prioritize– the things you need to do. It’s not as complicated as you think. Your private efforts ARE making a difference. Advice: A big, new idea will be born this month. Cultivate carefully.

Virgo (Aug 23-Sept 22)
This looks to be a very nice month for you, Virgo. But play close attention to your circle. Not everyone is celebrating with you. Don’t forget to be playful amid all that organizing and planning. You’re very creative beneath all that control. Say yes to that invitation. Advice: Focus on others this month. In fact, STUDY them.

Libra (Sept 23-Oct 22)
Try really hard not to overspend this month because it’ll make you feel worse. Your thoughts have been spinning like a hamster wheel because you’re not balanced. If life feels like a puzzle, try to assemble the pieces a different way. You already have everything you need. Advice: Scrutinize your expenses. Where do you spend your money?

Scorpio (October 23-Nov 21)
You’ve been a little lax with your health, Scorpio. You know what you’re doing. And overdoing. Misery at work is self-imposed. The stars gently remind that you are prone to moody bouts and next month will be better. No one will make you happy but YOU. Advice: Attempt to be quiet this month. One hears plenty in silence.

Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 21)
This may be a challenging month. Family and relationship conflicts will bring intense discussions. It’s not that your opinions don’t matter, it’s that the people you’re dealing with are stubborn. So focus on the small stuff because you can’t handle big right now (and that’s okay.) The stars specifically warn against sitting too long or being idle. Advice: Change is GOOD. Especially now. Compromise or suffer!

Capricorn (Dec 22-Jan 19)
Slow the hell down, Capricorn. It’s okay to ask for help! Expect sudden changes later this month, especially financial ones. You’re making a better impression than you realize, but isn’t that usually the case? Courage and risk-taking yield good results. Advice: People will meddle and offer to help. Know the difference. Accept the help.

Aquarius (January 20-Feb 18)
Being self-indulgent will distract you from your goals. Allow yourself to be led by others if things feel stagnant. Water is always your friend, Aquarius, so retreat there if things feel a little volatile. Watch your words with sensitive family members. That tongue can sting. Advice: Nothing will feel right if you’re not happy at home. Start there.

Pisces (Feb 19-March 20)
Feeling neglected, Pisces? The wait is over. Positive, sweeping changes are on the horizon and you’re in the driver’s seat. Wheee! Focus on your mental, rather than physical health. They’ll eventually be in sync. All systems are GO, but be advised to stick to your decisions. Being flaky will disintegrate all your hard work. Advice: Time to shine, fishface. You have good people around you!

Have a FANTASTIC month, everyone. If all else fails, be nice and do your best. Those go a long way no matter what you believe.

Love,
Jennifer

IMG_6188

Advertisements

Undercover Taco Contest Finds Clear Winner

Why a bean & cheese taco contest? Didn’t we just do Best of Hays? And who are you? Why do you get to judge? Why does this even matter?

Me? I’ve eaten all over this planet, but I’m local now. Apart from a few years in London, I’ve lived here since 1994. Quality food is VERY important to me. I also think food critics can be elitist, uptight buttholes. Everyone deserves delicious food and it needn’t be expensive. Plus local businesses doing awesome deserve recognition, right?

Why bean & cheese? Isn’t that kinda lame?

Well. I figure if you master beans, cheese, and tortillas– the foundation of all Tex-Mex– then the rest of your menu is probably okay. In full disclosure, I’d prefer BACON, beans and cheese, but –let’s face it– the wrong piece of bacon can ruin a perfectly good taco, so I decided to keep it simple.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. This is completely objective. No one paid me to do this. Nor do I have a vested interest in the winner.
2. These restaurants are clueless. They might’ve slipped me extra cheese if they knew my intentions (which would totally sway my vote.)
3. I love adore cheese.
4. My palate is trustworthy. I’m only ‘fussy’ when it comes to quality. I don’t eat or cook crap and will taste cheap ingredients immediately.
5. I’ll be 100% honest. Always.

Choosing where to go.

Obviously, I can’t sample a hundred tacos. Neither my stomach nor wallet could handle that. I needed a Taco Master List (insert mariachi music). So I asked the local public:

What are your top 3 favorite taco places?

I asked Facebook.
I asked colleagues.
I asked strangers.
I asked waitstaff.

Then I tallied the vote and visited 15 restaurants over 3 days in random order.

Day One:
The Palm $1.61
La Fonda $1.46
Rodeo $1.35
Wow-Wees $2.44
Lolitas $2.50

Day Two:
Dona Chiquis $1.50
Garcias $1.62
Casa de Don Lorenzo $1.08
Los Vega $1.62
M & M $1.73

Day Three:
El Chepo $1.72
Exxon Station’s Bobcat Quickie $2.26
Rogelios $1.35
El Charro $1.62
Herbert’s $1.89

IMG_5976

Don’t be coming at me with a pitchfork if your fave didn’t make the list. This was a democratic process. I also followed a routine to keep it fair.

1. Visit 5 places each morning.
2. Order 1 bean & cheese taco to go.
3. Take 1-2 bites of each.
4. Write down reaction. Immediately.

Chew. Write. Chew. Pause. Is that lard or pork fat? Chew. Pause. Man, that’s salty! Chew. Too salty. Pass taco to husband.

. . . And so it went for three days. Finding a champ meant every little thing got scrutinized.

Tortilla

Please don’t serve me yesterday’s tortilla. Automatic demerits. The fresh, homemade tortillas were SUPER obvious.

Best Tortillas:
The Palm
El Charro
Herberts

Temperature

Beans and cheese should be hot and melty, people. Dry, dusty, unmelted cheese on tepid beans is a total deal breaker.

IMG_5970 (1)

Beans to Cheese to Tortilla Ratio

Contents shouldn’t slop out the bottom when taking a bite. That’s just as bad as all ingredients smushed into a little log and too much tortilla in one bite. The perfect taco should balance proportions and squish together nicely in your mouth.

Atmosphere

Everyone’s walked into a place, looked around, and thought um, no thanks. VIBE is crucial, ya’ll. Dine-ins, drive thrus, and trailers should ALL feel clean and inviting. Especially those with open/visible kitchens (you’d think!). Warm greetings coupled with the hum of happy patrons is powerful stuff you can feel with your eyes closed. And we had standouts.

Best Atmosphere:
The Palm
Rogelio’s
El Charro

Service

To-go places: How long did I wait? Dine-ins: How did staff react when I strolled in on a busy morning and ordered one cheap taco to go? I’m happy to report excellent service all around. I also think San Marcos is hiding a few ninjas. I was in and out of a few places (order, pay, taco-in-hand) in less than one minute. I’m not even kidding.

Fastest Service:
La Fonda
El Chepo
Los Vega

Cheese

The very first thing I did was open up that taco.
IMG_5971
Please don’t be stingy with the cheese. Just don’t. And if you serve cheap cheese may the Lord have mercy on your soul.

Salsa

I only used a drop so as not to overpower my bite, but let’s face it. Salsa matters big time.

IMG_5977

And how could I not have a salsa contest? Each restaurant’s was so distinctive, I tasted them blind a second time and STILL identified their source. The very best used fresh ingredients and left several flavors dancing around my tongue.

Best Salsas:
Lolitas
Los Vega
Herberts

Now finally, TASTE. I narrowed it to 4:

La Fonda
Garcias
El Charro
Herberts

These four blasted ahead of the competition. They really did. But I sought the BEST. I gave my palate a few days rest for the final challenge. And just so you know how very serious I am about fairness, I did the last tasting BLIND.

My husband handed me anonymous tacos and I took small bites, chewing slow, mindful of the adjectives popping in my head. The winner served a full, melty taco with flavorful beans and buttery cheese in a soft, fresh tortilla. Not once, but twice.

Congratulations, El Charro. You nailed it.

My crystal ball predicts more food contests, but right now my colon is sticking me the finger.

Until Mex time, San Marcos. It’s bean fun! Sorry. That was cheesy.

love,
Jennifer

IMG_6027