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Saturday, September 9th, 2017 06:36 am
Thursday morning: more Irma. There's not much news from Puerto Rico.

Thursday: Mom's birthday. My sister, father, and i conspired a celebration at a local seafood restaurant, with my sister bringing flowers and a balloon, and i the cake (or cupcakes, as it was). I could not remember what sort of cake my mother liked: she took one of the chocolate cupcakes to my surprise. Getting four different types of cupcakes was a lovely solution to how to address the what sort of cake to get question, so there was that. And the cupcakes were delectable, with creme or custard in the center. I had one of the mocha cupcakes and was well indulged. (The cakes were from the local Phoenix bakery

The restaurant's fish was also delicious, as well.

Friday morning: more Irma.

In therapy on Wednesday we talked more about changing my frame to see the positive, delightful, and joyous. It's not what i carry around with me usually, and Christine too has a strong tendency to dwell on the disappointments and pains of interactions.

I think one of the things that means is that i shouldn't think that outward experiences need to change for me to consider them happy or delightful or joyous. It's easy for me to identify pleasant sensory experiences: the cake, the basil cocktail that i later topped off with ginger beer. My sister's locally brewed basil beer. The blackened swordfish, and so on.

And next i think it's easy for me to identify my satisfaction. Thanks to Christine's coaching, as she is wonderful at gift-giving, i picked out a silly card with a crab that sang and danced and a bottle of locally produced  "Damn Fine Chocolate Liqueur". (North Carolina, where branding appears to have a strong "Damn" component... wait, no, maybe it's just the current hipster branding.) It was good to indulge my mother, although her first instinct is to announce she'll wait to try the liqueur when i'm there.

She'd forgotten how she'd serve me coffee and Kaluha after i'd driven home from college. Exams, plus an 8 hour drive, plus that drink: i'd talk for hours and couldn't remember a thing i told her. I joked it was her truth serum. (When i say, "she'd forgotten", it's tinged with a wary grief. Mom has, by her accounts, forgotten so much of ... everything.)

I think the meal was a happy family occasion. I think that is what it means to be happy with family. In my normal frame i would focus on the too loud restaurant, the lack of deeper connection. But noth the place or time for that.

The most important thing is that i am thankful to have this time with Mom, to celebrate Mom. We're all a little worried about her. She's always been dysfunctional (diagnosis is not my job), but it's clear to me that she is so much more befuddled and fragile. She's aged.

The weather is glorious. I'm looking forward to a good bit of yardwork tonight and tomorrow.

[posting saturday morning, geeze, hit post, will ya?]
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Saturday, February 11th, 2017 10:35 am
Last night was quite fun. We went out with my sister & her spouse. The Mexican place we intended to eat at was full, so we ended up at the nearly empty Roots Bakery, Bistro & Bar (http://www.rootschapelhill.com/menu/). We all had the chile relleno prepared in a Guatemalan style with only a light breading and little sauce, stuffed with potatoes and other veggies as well as cheese. It was divine. It was sad to see the restaurant so deserted when the food was so good: it seemed like it would be a hit in Mountain View. Not so sure about a college town.

The concert had two parts, the first with Laurie Anderson. They performed with poetry, some read by Anderson, some by Glass (i think all of that was Anderson's words). There was a recording of Ginsburg reading - very powerful and still relevant -- and a recording of Lou Reed, which reduced my sister, Christine and i to tears. Imagining how it feels to perform with the recording of a loved one -- not enough and such a blessing? Glass had spoken for a bit about the Ginsburg recording, how he had forgotten he had the recording for some years after Ginsburg died. Much less introduction was given to the Lou Reed piece -- too close?

The second part was from  the opera "Monsters of Grace." The glass of prosecco made it's presence known and i may have dozed over bits. Subtitles would have helped as i have a hard time making out the words in operatic singing.
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Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 06:19 am
I spent last night cooking, and it was a bit frustrating.

The first dish was to use up some beets and apples that had been aging at the bottom of the crisper and were no longer crisp. (Actually, one apple was fabulous. I wish i knew what type that keeper was.) I used this recipe as an inspiration, less the orange, and i added some similarly sad carrots: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2013/11/ginger-citrus-maple-roasted-beets.html

This seemed to go just fine.

The next dish was to address the eggplants and fresh black-eyed peas from the veggie box. I added far more coconut (sweetened) and didn't churn it into a paste. Also, no curry leaves or fenugreek. (Thank you wikipedia for translating unfamiliar ingredients into those i had a prayer of finding.) I wanted to use the pressure cooker and i also added rice. The step of frying the onions and spices went well, but tossing in the rice and then eggplant hit some strange issue where the "high" stove eye setting seemed to be interpreted as the neighboring "off" setting. (I had just put water on to boil on the back stove eye: coincidence?) After realizing i wasn't toasting the rice, i got the heat back and thought i was doing well building up pressure when i realized the rocker wasn't rocking but all the steam was existing through a rubber pressure release. I tapped it a few times (with the corner of an empty pasta box) and managed to somehow have the release go in against the pressure and release even more pressure.

I think i managed to get the rice and beans cooked. I was very tempted to stand and pick out every black-eyed pea to eat after tasting the first six or seven to see if they were cooked. (Boiled peanuts: i miss them.) This is lined up for lunch today, and three other servings are packed in the freezer for lunches into next week.


Finally, i prepared this salad. The pasta suffered first from neglect as i realized that the heat had left my curry dish, and then it too lost heat and so the pasta was cooked in weird cycles of boiling and cooling water. Something about the flavoring was lost, although i had just spent a good amount of time in a curry scented sauna. I wish i'd had oil cured black olives instead of brine cured. Also, i think lemon instead of red wine vinegar would have dressed it more to my taste.

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Saturday, April 27th, 2013 11:29 am
Intense work days for the past few days, but i have worked from home. Around two pm each day, when the email, messages, and calls die down, i've gone out on to the deck and sat in the sun. Yesterday, i even worked for a while in the sun.

I've been enjoying this cheese as a treat, intense and flavorful: http://www.sartoricheese.com/products/reserve-cheese/chai-bellavitano/

I've had a clever idea about how to get just the right underwear for under the dresses i've bought, for the summer when i don't want to wear tights or nylons: i've cut off nylons at the length i wanted and crocheted around the cut-off leg. The crochet is almost like reverse-garters. Just what i need without shopping! And a practical crochet project, woo-hoo!

I've discovered that i was born in the year Intel was founded, following a Tumblr thread about reposting "If you are older than Google." The thread i got had morphed into "Are you older than Apple?" I had fun using the category collections in wikipedia to examine what companies have founding dates in the 1960s: http://elainegrey.tumblr.com/post/48968992865/tumblngs-of-kj-reblog-this-if-youre-older-than

I'm enjoying our MLB subscription, but my heart is most delighted by the poetry of Naomi Shihab Nye in Honeybee. She has a very prosey style in some poems that i enjoy, and she narrates a wonder perspective in many of her poems. Does she have a blog? She reads them, if her poem is to be believed.
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Sunday, March 24th, 2013 06:53 am
A late afternoon walk to Edgewood Friday was a rather long day. Early morning meetings, i'd forgotten the power supply for my new work laptop so i had to drive in, and i was in the midst of troubleshooting several production issues and couldn't attend a Meeting committee meeting.

In my initial plan of the day, which assumed i would have to go in for the power supply, i planned to take a nice long break at Edgewood. By the time i actually arrived, i had thirty minutes. i set a timer for fifteen minutes and started walking uphill, passing flowers and thinking, "Maybe there are better stands to shoot ahead." There were plenty of flowers but no particularly amazing vistas like i saw in mid April last year. I turned back at fifteen minutes, but, of course, paused to take photos. I'm actually even more pleased with some of the photos i took of goldfields this year: they are tiny golden flowers that grow in swathes and carpets. Capturing the impression i get from them has been hard, but the somewhat abstract golden glow of this photo points at how wonderful they can be. The best landscape image i saw was marred by the water district's chain link fence.

A late afternoon walk to Edgewood

So, i was late heading to the psychiatrist, and the difference in the ten minute delay introduced another ten minute traffic delay. As i got out of the car to rush in, i locked my keys in the car. I texted Christine, had my "session" (we mainly discussed the behavior of the mail order drug company), and then i called Christine who hadn't seen the texts.

I walked around, listening to my audio book, while Christine met up with me. We then went out for dinner, trying again "The Pineapple Grill and Bar," a somewhat odd restaurant with a nice outdoor patio. Other reviewers had commented on the somewhat confusing decor: is this a causal place where you order at the counter or are they trying for white table cloth? The name and patio torches say "tropical food" but the menu says Mediterranean/Greek. I could see the causes of the confusion as well. Nonetheless, we had a lovely time. The food was good and beautifully presented. I started with a basil gimlet from the cocktail menu, then we split the crab cake appetizer, which had enough greens to be a salad as well. Christine ordered the shrimp avocado salad, and i splurged on wheat and had the farmer's market flat bread. We followed with desert, and i had the baklava. The weather was just warm enough to be pleasant outdoor seating, and the twilight was delightful. As darkness fell, they turned on a flood light on the patio, which rather ruined the mood. Fortunately, we were leaving.

White Peacock - Anartia jatrophae
White Peacock - Anartia jatrophae

Yesterday morning i worked a little on my career clarity work, and "developed" my photos, identifying flowers, birds, and butterflies from my walk on Friday (Edgewood) and in Florida (Colt Creek State Park). Posting flower photos to facebook might have been cruel to all those east who were dealing with a late March snow.

I read a free Kindle Sci Fi novel yesterday and rode the bike on the trainer for 25 minutes, but not much else. In the late afternoon i felt oddly disconnected and out of it: i think part of it is just the relief from work stress and pressures.

Not sure how well i will spend today, but i am relieved that the season of east coast travel is over for me -- that it comes in the season when i would most like to turn inward and reflect is an issue. The season of light is here, and i want and desire a movement towards something more fresh and invigorating in my life. Now to make that happen.
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Saturday, November 10th, 2012 06:47 am
Doctor says, yes i probably have an infection, but it's viral (thus exhaustion), and the cough is mostly the asthma.

Third EAP therapist is available and uses email and ... is Different. "I have been doing this for N years so i think i'll be able to help you." This just registers as an odd "look at me" signal from my experience of working with "we can work on that" folks. So, back of my mind is going, "If this therapist is so available, maybe they aren't any good!" Ah well, we'll see.

I have a day at Meeting that i will probably cut short like i've been cutting my work days. I'm sick, therefore i will rest, but this event at Meeting is about the community coming together and thinking about its identity and whether it will share outward more actively. Thus, i'll be there.

Maybe i'll just not attend Meeting and Meeting for Business tomorrow.


Lovely dinner out at a fine restaurant called Flea St Cafe with a friend last night. Christine didn't indulge in the cocktails, Diane had a "Fig and Thyme" brandy & cointreau drink that was wonderfully round with the earthy wonder of fresh fig, i had the "Sage Press" which was the most delightful gin and ginger ale drink in a tall cooler glass, filled with fresh sage.

We started with the cheese tray, then DP & i both had the special heirloom tomato salad sprinkled with huckleberries: an odd sounding combination that worked wonderfully. I had the Vegetarian sampler with a wonderful selection of small servings of separate dishes: a squash ravioli, glazed carrots (that were happily more like parsnips), some fried mushroom thing with an earth savory quality, brocollini, and cranberry beans.

DP & i split the raisin brioche bread pudding (which was more like a fine textured scone) while Christine sipped an espresso.

Just divine!


It was the first time i'd been out of the house since Tuesday, and we've had a bit of weather come through. The clouds in the afternoon were wonderfully sculpted cumulus with a long dark line over the coastal range. It's brisk! Monday's high was 83; yesterday was 58. I've assembled a space heater we bought on sale in the summer and we are using it for the first time. I felt a little guilt at the power use (it's not *really* could, is it?) but used the remote to turn it on before i got up and then found the kitchen thermometer is reading 60 degrees.

I guess it's reasonable to be heating and not bundling up.
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Sunday, June 10th, 2012 07:15 am
I am apparently so impatient to go pick berries at the local U-Pick that we headed out Saturday morning a week before the farm opened. I'm not quite sure why i am so impatient, but i'm delighted that i noted the date before we drove too far.

We were heading out "late" because my father called at 7:30 and we had a delightful hour long chat. He was home alone, recovering from the eye surgery on Friday that corrected the mistakes made during the Tuesday eye surgery.

Dear baby boomers, the eye surgeons are getting plenty of practice on my dad, so i don't feel guilty feeling relief at the thought that they will be well practiced on you all by the time my eyes need surgery.

On the other hand, my dad thinks his cataracts have to do with years of unprotected eyes in south Florida light. If so, my life by the dim computer light should protect my eyes from needing similar surgeries.

Since i wasn't off late to pick berries, i could go spend an hour with a colleague in the farmers market. I made the mistake of getting root vegetables from a stand with unmarked prices. Two baking potatoes, two large beets, and three skinny carrots for $15? Bitter melon green and miso soup Yikes. I ended up going a little over budget because of that pricing (it was the only stand with baking potatoes), so when i was getting some yellow crookneck squash and saw the pile of greens i was in an spendthrift mood. $1 for a gigantic bundle of -- what? Bitter Melon greens? Stir fry or pout in a soup? -- i bought it.

The quinine flavor was pronounced in a raw leaf. I made a soup by blanching the leaves first in boiling salted water, rinsing in cold water, then squeezing out the leaves, before adding to the soup. The broth was diced candied ginger (because i was apparently out of ginger root, and i figured the sweetening of the bitter wouldn't hurt), miso, soy sauce, and a dash of Hunan red pepper sauce. The soup was bitter but tasty. However, the total cost of these greens in prep was not insignificant. The little tendrils that seemed so tender were actually pretty twiggy. The mature leaves were tender after cooking. Picking the leaves from the branches and blanching took some time. I can't decide if i would buy them again. Admittedly, there aren't lots of other greens in the market this time of year and $1 is pretty inexpensive compared to chard, etc.

Christine watched a Daily Show interview with the author of Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong, Ed Conard. Jon Stewart kept the conversation going as he tried to communicate with Ed that homeowners and the middle class were the ones with real risks in the economy. After watching Christine watch an episode of PBS's Commanding Heights, documenting the global economy from WW I to the early 90's, i wanted to bang my head repeatedly into a wall. I have simplified my understanding down to simply seeing that it seems that the economy goes into the ditch, folks figure out they need to steer in some direction (say right) and then leadership decides, "Damnit, we're going to steer this economy to the right come hell or high water." Lo, back into another ditch, and the only way to get out is to steer in the opposite direction, and back to monomanical steering without paying attention to the road.

Christine is taking economics this summer session: i may go back and read [personal profile] amaebi's posts on economics with a clue after i get an osmotic dose of basics from Christine. [Who is live editing as i blog, which is at least reading it, right?]

I didn't feel focused, as if i could make reasonable priority calls of what needs doing, so i ended up spending the day crocheting while watching videos. I started with a Tommy and Tuppence mystery, but felt like i could "do better." I went to my @watching tag and the first three saved notes were TED talks:

* Erik Johansson: Impossible photography | Video on TED.com
** Surrealism in photography and a bit about how he did his images. I was not impressed.
* Ron Gutman: The hidden power of smiling | Video on TED.com
** A nice peptalk on why smiling is good for you, although correlation and causation seemed awfully confused. As a chronically depressed person, i have mixed feelings about this. But what the hell, maybe i should smile more.
* Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story | Video on TED.com
** THIS is fantastic: wonderful personal narrative about power and stories.

The next thing on my watching list was a documentary about the role of several Afro-Colombian women in the continuing armed conflict in Colombia. The whole series of Women, War, and Peace looks like it's a good stiff study of war zones.

At this point i turned back to Netflix and watched a documentary that had been on my list for a long time, Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rosset and Grove Press . It was interesting to have the economics video from Friday in the back of my mind, informing my reflections on the issue of regulation and control both in the economic realm and in the moral artistic realm.

I got a good number of yarn snarls undone -- why do my center pull balls fail so? -- and made great progress on the lower part of my cardigan. I'm adding a ruffly expansion at the bottom, and planning on slowly increasing the number of full cluster stitches to simple net stitches so the flare at the hip will be more of a net than a full lace fabric. I hope it works out. I'd hate to frog this yarn.

As a side note, i'm listening to The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. The second chapter, on brain plasticity, has me wondering why it took so long for conventional wisdom to recognize that adult brains change. Carr provides a good foundation to his argument that our tool use can change our brains. As i drove back and forth to the market listening, i wondered how the car has changed our brains, and snidely wondered why Carr wasn't bent out of shape about that. The whole tone of Carr's book -- not helped by my reaction to the narrator, i'm sure -- strikes me as reactionary conservatism so far. We own a copy of Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter by Steven Johnson, which probably takes similar observations and spins them in another direction.

In health news, i feel like i have put on several pounds in the past few weeks, my Achilles tendon still feels stiff and painful when i just walk around the house, and the flare continues. Feh.
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Sunday, June 3rd, 2012 07:51 am
Superduper procrastinator, that's me. A good bit of yesterday's procrastination was willful, but i finally got the reporting done in time for us to see the 8:30 showing of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. We were, in fact, early, and Christine wanted to enjoy the theater ambiance. Instead, we flinched under promotions for TNT and ABC television shows. As SF themed cliche and trope vehicles bounced over the screen in front of us, i wondered why everything must be the same genera. I'm thankful the SF generas are prolific, but what would breadth look like? I asked Christine of what genera would she wish to see more. (In my mind, Marigold Hotel is in the Boomers Getting Older genera: RED, Bucket List, and Something's Gotta Give... Does On Golden Pond count? Seems too early. I digress.)

Trailers ran and The Intouchables was previewed. "More of these," Christine said, after watching the hints of narrative crossing boundaries of privilege and ability.

Admittedly, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel also crossed boundaries, too. I feared Christine and i would be the youngest folks in the theater, but we weren't. We were the youngest Caucasians, perhaps. The treatment of India seemed authentic, and Indians helped fill up the grey theater.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel reminds me of Outsourced, too, which i enjoyed. I assume the globalization theme takes on India because of the English language exoticism: China would be harder?


In food questions: are pinto beans stinky?

We tend to buy dried kidney and black beans, and canned kidney, black, and cannellini. I bought pinto beans recently, and yesterday made a couple plates of nibbles by spooning five beans into a cup shaped tortilla chip, adding cheese and salsa, and zapping. The pintos definitely had an odor, that Christine, far more sensitive to offensive scents than i, later found incredibly repulsive.

I've always thought of beans as basically having the same flavor, subsumed by all the spices and flavorings in which the beans are cooked. Do you notice a difference in bean scents and flavors? Texture, yes, i've always noticed a difference in texture and density.
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Sunday, February 19th, 2012 08:18 am
Yesterday's road trip began with a bit more adventure than i expected as we took a route to Pescadero that was direct but very winding. I was driving the jeep and a little anxious for a bit about the winding roads, the bicyclists in the lanes, and on coming vehicles. There was a down hill stretch where a bicyclist was about to overtake us, but around a curve was an uphill and i lost him.

The green of the coastal mountains on a morning with the low clouds is hard to describe: it glows in the diffuse light, the thick green mosses, the low growing perennial plants, ferns. Lace lichen drapes the oaks like the Spanish moss of the southeast, but this is even more trailing and distinctly lichen green instead of the grey. Even on bright sunny days, some canyons are in a twilight.

The goat farm was a delight, and the sun broke out through the clouds as we were there. A field of yellow mustard flowers separated the nursery barn from the rest of the barn. We could handle (stress) the male kids who would be sold by the dairy, no comment on whether they were destined for meat by the buyer or not. The first year mother goats were sweet as they sat together in the sun.

The cheeses were not a "gamey" as Christine feared, and we ended up buying more than a few. The farm seems to be doing well as farming tourism goes, and although i was aware of the gentle manipulation of having the tour go from 11-1, and end in the cheese shop, i can't begrudge an entrepreneur who is committed to sustainability and gentle scale.

We had a generous and long lunch at Duarte's (Doo-art's) in Pescadero with a friend of Christine's, belatedly celebrating both of their birthdays. Christine said her crab melt sandwich was delicious, i had baked oysters. We wrapped up with olallieberry pie. What is an Olallieberry? It's a mutt, Christine laughs, as i read off the crossed berries that were its progenitors. (Think blackberries, raspberries, dewberries.)

We took a drive home up the coast on highway 1, marveling at the scenery, familiar and yet still a wonder. I tried taking some beach photos, but the "sea breeze" was incredibly stiff and i was chilled pretty quickly. We crossed the hills at well developed 92 and drove home along the San Andreas fault on Cañada Rd.

We were home around 5, and i was so tired. I'm not sure why, but this morning my legs hurt. I realize all the squatting down to see the goats face to face did work out my legs. For dinner we had hot cocoa, and i had some nibbles of the honey lavender chevre. We watched The Tempest (2010) with Helen Mirren as Prospera: the issues of slavery and freedom and power are fascinating. Having the protagonist as a woman fascinated me, thinking of the power broker women of history, who manipulated governments thought their children. I find it more believable for Prospera to surrender her staff of magic after seeing her daughter betrothed to the prince, i think, than had it been Prospero.

I've slept far more this vacation than i planned and slept in this morning. I suppose should get myself to Meeting as i have not been to Worship for weeks. It will do me good, i suspect. Thank heavens for Friends casual presentation: i have quite the case of hat hair from yesterday.
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Saturday, February 11th, 2012 09:32 am
I'm home. I have a post from yesterday that celebrates heading home, but the CMH airport wifi was not cooperating at all.

I read a very good science fiction e-book on the way home: Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 - 5). The first part is a short story, and then the narrative grew. The sample of the omnibus includes Wool 1 in total, and that got me hooked. It's gritty and dark, but also hopeful. The characters are intense people, dedicated to their work and their loves, noble and yet imperfect.

We spent the morning speculating on a trip up to Seattle to see the Gauguin exhibit. You must imagine me stumbling over the pronunciation of that name, over and over. Christine has tried coaching me, but French vowels and i are not friends.

We found a bit of time we could squeeze in a trip between concerts, classes, my business travel, her conference and family travel. A Saturday midday flight up, a stay in a nice down town hotel chosen particularly for the airport shuttle and the likelihood they could keep our luggage for us after we checked out, exhibit tickets. That came to $750.

Which we could do, but really doesn't fit in our goals. Instead, i've pre-ordered the catalog from Amazon, found a bunch of Polynesian recipes to make a fish, rice, and yam meal, put together a Youtube playlist that includes the Seattle museum curators talking about the exhibit, and found a 2001 biopic of Gauguin.


ETA: Friday's Post actually *did* get posted.

[deleted repost of Friday's post]
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Friday, February 10th, 2012 10:51 am
I can't wait to be home!
I can't wait to be home!
I can't wait to be home!

I got in a more strenuous walk on the treadmill last night, and then *drumroll* New Director remembered to ask my lead engineer and i to join him and the crowd of Brits, Germans, and Dutch out to dinner. There were ten or twelve of us and i was the only presenting female. I think i had to prove something.so i chose to have whatever mysterious Indian dish New Director ordered for me "medium hot." It was QUITE. No harm, and i took a great deal of geeky ribbing for choosing python as a quick language to learn.

We ate at the Indian restaurant just up the strip mall from Thai Orchid: very good and very caring service.

Stopping by the cafeteria before leaving the Whale HQ, i made the mistake of grabbing a lovely Chef Salad Wrap from the cafeteria. Why mistake? Because i forgot that a Chef Salad likely included some sort of meat. I reflected on how different Christine and i can be: the honorable moral thing, to me, is to eat the sandwich, not wasting the life that went into providing it, while Christine would have turned it down. However, blech. I have apparently lost a palate that would appreciate such a meats.

I drove down the river road on my way to the airport, enjoying the old stone walls, the exposed limestone, and glimpses of the river and reservoir. I am unwinding in the restaurant just across from my gate, indulging in the wheat-y goodness of a tall beer after gin and tonics all week. I ordered fries, not because i needed them, but because it looked like the waitress could use a larger tip. I hope i can take them home.

By the way, Dear CMH Wi-fi, I think you are so slow this will be posted when i get home. Me
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Saturday, February 4th, 2012 06:35 am
Argh, i left my bright light at the office. I have my last to-do for the day as driving up there to get it for my trip to Ohio.

Yesterday was very odd as i had planned to take it "off" as comp for traveling on Sunday. Work. )The rest of the day i was in a bit of a daze, somewhere between exhaustion and denial that i'm traveling shortly.

By 5 pm I had little omph left. We agreed to go out for dinner and i think i was missing a nice warm meal. Our experience with Castro Street on Friday night is that there can be significant waits, and we'd chosen a movie that "started" at 6:30. I was delighted to find that the restaurants on Shoreline near the movie theater were open for dinner. Five years ago, when i worked down Shoreline, everything closed up after the lunch crowd.

We tried a Korean Hot Pot restaurant, Sunny Bowl. (I wondered what [livejournal.com profile] mopalia might think of the place.) The online menus don't reveal that they ALSO have traditional hot pots: What sort of furnace do they heat those bowls in? That's what we ordered, and we were both delighted. Christine asked for a number of changes to her order, and they double checked to make sure they were satisfying her desire. My sashimi tuna was served on the side. Next time i'll only add some at the beginning of the meal, because it was quite well done by the end of the meal. I also ponder that i might actually not need to ask for the egg to be well done at serving time. Considering how long the sounds of sizzling cooking persisted, i suspect if i pierced a runny yolk at serving time, i'd be pleased by how it cooked up with the rice crisping in the bottom. We will definitely go again. And i'm delighted they're open until 9 pm. I can imagine going there for dinner after traveling.

Then on to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. We loved it. Yes, as [personal profile] firecat warned, and as she reported [twitter.com profile] ebertchicago agreed, it isn't the easiest film to follow. The first act rarely shows the face of the speaker, and i think Smiley might say two words. Spill your popcorn and you'll miss the important cue that right after Smiley retires he gets a new pair of glasses, which is the best clue you have to whether the following scenes are flashbacks or current time. I loved the challenge of puzzling out the timeline. But even better was how wonderfully period it is. Helvetica! It's a perfect font to capture the sense of period. And as Christine remarked, "The set designer deserves a Nobel prize!" The technology of moving information around is lovingly filmed. I'm sure if the film had been made in the 70s very little attention would have been paid to the files and teletypes except when required by the plot. Filmed today, the nostalgia for telephone boxes, dumbwaiters for files, mobile file cabinets underscores the dramatic change in information handling in the decades since. We'll probably buy the film when we see it available DVD.
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Sunday, January 1st, 2012 06:09 am
I hope all had a New Year's Eve with just the right level of celebration and observance.

We had a lovely dinner last night. Christine had picked up glorious salmon filets and made horseradish mashed potatoes with French fingerlings. The spuds were a warm tan, not the off white of Idaho potatoes, and -- as we found years ago -- horseradish in the potatoes is a well matched compliment to the fish. I prepared a beet salad with a pomegranate orange dressing. I had both red and gold beets, so the pomegranate pips and bits of orange were balanced color matches. I'd been amused that the front flap of the cover of my cookbook was marking just the beet salad recipe i wanted to check: that one called for blood oranges. I think the pomegranate similarly complimented the beets. Unfortunately, i didn't think to toast the pecans before the fish went in, but un-toasted pecans are still delicious.

We're postcivilized with our meals. While we had discussed cleaning the cards and season's clutter off the dining room table and eating there, by the time we were ready to eat we both admitted we'd prefer our usual practice of eating while watching something. I'd moved Big Fish to the top of the Netflix queue for the holidays, so this seemed like a pleasant time to watch the film.

I didn't expect it to be quite as moving as it was for me. The movie presents the narrator's father as storyteller, and my brother and i have been talking about our father's storytelling. The Southern tradition of the tale lives on in my father, and my brother has grow to appreciate and value it. I ache a little, thinking of the wife-mother in the film, so comfortable with her husband's stories. My mother never "got" such storytelling, i think. Perhaps, even, this is a root of some of the brokenness of their marriage, much as the brokenness between father and son in the film. Mom was dazzled by the stories Dad told while they were dating, and then felt betrayed when they weren't raw fact. (I think she also wanted a knight to rescue her, and she got a human being.) Seeing the storytelling father on his death bed was hard after the news of Dad in the hospital -- he's home and doing fine, by the way.

I wonder, as i reflect on the waves of feeling the film stirred for me: there's something about the truly adventurous past my father has had (and the father in the film). Even though i and my siblings live in a much larger world (particularly my brother, his Beijing life resonating with the son of the film living in Paris), we've never quite had the opportunity for risk and adventure my father had. He did fight an aligator! And, oh, so many stories!

How am i ever going to captivate my nephews with the story of compiling my first linux kernel and troubleshooting the new computer to find i had to change the master slave jumpers on the ... what was it? Hmm.

Maybe one lesson i can take is that i don't need to remember all the factual details to tell a good tale. Hmm.
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Saturday, April 16th, 2011 09:00 am
I shouldn't be cranky.

And how would you describe being cranky? Can you be cranky alone?

No, i'm not cranky.

Christine may have a small herniated area[2], and we've sent of a photo to the surgeon. "Is this new? Is this bad?" She was very distressed last night, spiraling into distress about my work. I'm trying to be at peace about Crazy Work Nonsense[1]. I am tired, so i've slept in this morning. I did wake at 4:35, which is five minutes earlier than my background wake music began all week. It wasn't because i'd shifted time zones: it was because i felt i was drowning in my night sweats. How can i possibly sweat that much? My hair and pillow were wet! Wet! If i were living in another time i would be certain i was being taken by naiads in my sleep.

Yesterday i set some "Conditions of Enoughness." Later in the morning i made a vow not to have sweets until after 5 pm. I did take the garbage out before 3 pm, so YAY. I did ride the bike with Christine near me on the deck. She reminded me to sit down and appreciate that i had done the exercise. "Did that feel good?" she asked, and i froze up. The overwhelming awareness of my poor body sense hit me: did this feel good? I don't know. Instead, let's assert it: this feels good ... this *is* good. In the late light of a spring evening, under beautiful blue skies, swirling with white clouds, i exercised while chatting with my Beloved. What could be better? Willow and redwood and the pool in the distance, the deck green with my plants and abloom. Yes, there's a thick litter of birdseed shells, but so it goes. It is good, was good, and i went inside and made salads for us for dinner.

Is a romaine heart a day too much lettuce? I'm eating lots of lettuce these days. Hummus and lettuce and a old apple and grape tomatoes and the last of the chopped walnuts and these wonderful Kosher-for-passover savory loop "croutons." Christine had mandarin oranges and cottage cheese.

We watched the first half of a ITV mystery "Monroe: Class of '76" with Scottish Robert Carlyle as the moody detective. It reminds us of the Brannaugh Wallander in the evocative use of landscape to create the atmosphere needed for the bleak mystery, contrasted with crazed rapid cuts in scenes.

I broke my vow about sweets, and i only did two of the five things i said i'd do. That's part of the cranky, what with facing the Saturday slipping away so quickly. We just made a very comprehensive grocery list, though, and i've financial motivation in the form of physical coupons so that the cost of delivery removes the temptation. Also, some things Christine will want soon, if not already.

[1] Crazy work nonsense: Read more... )

[2] Disquamanation, it seems, and we are not to worry.
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Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 06:05 am
 I always find it quite odd that i can be typing away in Skype but it can show me as "Not Available" because i left skype running on a computer in another room. Yet when Christine's been asleep for hours, as she sleeps next to me i see her "Online" status all cheery and alert.


Yesterday i ended up working a eastern timezone day, no breaks at all. In a way, that was just fine. After 5:30 Eastern time Christine came in while i was just wrapping up a call, laden with balloons and carrying cheesecake. A great big giant balloon sings a happy birthday cheer when tapped, and the silliness and Christine's great big smile just popped away any gloom or resentment i might have been carrying. 

Christine and i drove over to a Supercuts where i had the "tea tree experience" ("a tingly shampoo and conditioning treatment, a head/neck massage and a warm towel to finish"), trim, and then the stylist spent forever drying my hair in segments to give it as much body as possible. Christine and i then proceeded to downtown Mountain View for an early dinner at Scratch. 

Oh, my.

It feels like a fine restaurant, the detail in the plates is delightful, and it offers foods that i can really enjoy. We created our own three course meal: a seafood, then appetizer, then salad.  Christine and i split the seafood "plateau" with half a  sweet lobster, four oysters with complex flavors on the half shell and four large shrimp served on seaweed and ice. The difference between eastern and western oysters is so significant: i had a plate of six in the North Carolina airport just a week before so i could really appreciate the difference. NC Oysters are familiar to me, so i did enjoy them, but west coast oysters are far more complex and layered in their flavors. 

I chose the cheese plate from the appetizer menu: this could easily have been shared. Christine really enjoyed the Vermont Cheddar so she ended up having much of that. I had the soft goat cheese, the sharp blue cheese, and a Sonoma cows cheese. The plate had honey, almonds, a tiny fan of apple and another tiny fan of pear, and i indulged in the toasted raisin bread. When the cheese plate came, Christine's wedge salad came. She'd simplified it (removing the bacon and radish) and enjoyed it.

 Then there was a little confusion on the part of our server, the desert menu presented, and we had to point out we'd ordered my salad and Christine's appetizer. Reminded, he dashed off and made it right, and Christine had a delectable crab cake brought with the shaved rainbow radish on the side -- which she found she did enjoy. (The arugula might have been a bit too much rabbit food for her, but she finished it off.) My salad was a greens mix with blue cheese, pomegranate pips, and walnuts. It was delightful, but i'll need to go back for the pear salad. We both drank a glass of sparkling wine through the meal: if you enjoy spirits, the dense menu of American made alcohol looks like it would be a delight. 

It was a fabulous feast and felt like a three course meal at a place like Gary Danko in the city. The service was attentive and mostly unobtrusive. When we first saved our silverware, trained by countless experiences of having the server have to be asked to bring back a piece between courses, the waiter tut-tutted as he was bringing us fresh silverware for the next course. The water carafe was kept filled, allowing us to drink as we wished, without constant queries of whether we needed more. 

It was an extravagant meal, made all the more delightful, i think, by not having to queue up reservations and plans. I suspect arriving early helped us get a seat: when we left the large restaurant seemed packed. It's only  been open two months: at some point i suspect reservations will be the only way in.

We returned home to a tiny slice of cheesecake, opening a few gifts, and then to bed, early, as it had been a long day. I did finally make a lexulous move --  and got another bingo with FONDANT. I don't often play this well and feel Christine gave me her mojo for a gift.


Work wise, i mentioned to my boss at the very end of my work day that i would like to figure our how to be reclassed (promoted) to senior manager.  He said he'd been wondering about that too, and noted how this last attempt to get someone reclassed went awry. (This is part of his poor relationship with the VP; the person didn't get the reclass but is now reporting to some other person where that person gets to assess the candidate's abilities.) I think i'm ready to admit that i want the higher management position: vacuums in the larger system  drive me more nuts than vacuums in my team. On the other hand, i do like that my current boss is a firewall between me and some of the more annoying management rituals.


My engagement spoons are quite low: work has been all engagement the past three days. I hope today is quieter. Maybe i'll even take a walk during the work day: i am exercise deficient. 

To be satisfied today, i would like to:

* exercise gently, ideally a walk with Christine this evening
* resume troubleshooting the Roomba
* contact the clerk of hospitality re Saturday's memorial meeting [oh so late, late, late] [DONE]
* spend half an hour either fiddling with patina and copper or planning dyes (need ammonia)

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Thursday, January 13th, 2011 06:33 am
I've slept late this morning (Christine put the kettle on for me around 6 and i made tea around 6:15) and then i skimmed the news headlines and the blog posts and FB/LJ/DW. I won't claim i'm "caught up" on the world, as i only read back a little bit in time on Facebook and Twitter. I am ready for a more reasonable intensity.

Links of interest this morning:
The Puzzling Evolution of Guns Versus Bows In Western Europe, military bows became obsolete during the C16th as firearms evolved. But in China, guns and bows coexisted for almost a millennium. Now one scientist thinks he knows why

It is the most extreme example yet known of a single plant's ability to colonise sites spanning a huge region. Across northwestern North America, every example of a common peat moss called Sphagnum subnitens is genetically identical, researchers have discovered.

I find myself uninterested in reading the President's speech. His oratory has impressed me during his campaign, but i am so disheartened with the politics in this country. My hope remains in the friend-to-friend, neighbor-to-neighbor changes that can be affected in the world. I know it's important to continue and try to change the direction of global and national and state policy, but i don't believe healing comes that way. This article (Religious diversity in the US is more a force for tolerance than for discord, argues scholar Robert Putnam) presents the "Aunt Susan" argument. As friends and family become more diverse our acceptance of difference increases. I know how powerful it's been for me to be able to describe my insight into my brother's family's Muslim observances to others. Being Out in as may dimensions as possible, advocating conversation to conversation, does make a change in the world. (Even if it seems an impossible, interminable uphill climb.) I think there's a strong thread in human nature to be contrary to those who inform us, yet turn around though and carry that lesson forward.

By the way, the gist of the article is that people in the US choose their faith communities based on their politics (I'd say values), not that one's faith determines one's politics (again, values). Thus while the US appears polarized, the evidence points to the political polarization as the primary, and people changing their religious affiliation so that it meets their stance on the spectrum.

Influenced by cognitive scientist/linguist Lakoff, i'd argue that it's the underlying "parental" frame that is where the division lies, and that people choose both political and religious affiliation to match their understanding of that underlying frame for human relationships and community.


A settlement on the fair use of the AP's photo for Shepard Fairey's Obama painting.

Charming, that will leave the question hanging there.


The days of planning have been good, and i hope i can keep some momentum going. I know that sometimes i just collapse after such intensity.

We did celebrate with a dinner in Half Moon Bay at Sam's Chowder House: everyone ordered the Crab Louie salad which was prepared with a much lighter dressing than i've had in San Francisco. Apples were included instead of tomatoes (a good seasonal shift), and it was utterly delightful. The Ohio folks were game to sit on the deck, but we weren't offered that opportunity. DH did take a photo of the boats in the Princeton-by-the-Sea harbor with the last of the sunset behind them to send off to his wife. The return message was, i think, somewhat unprintable. He had reported their morning exchange as his glowing weather report of San Mateo, and her terse reply of "It's snowing."

It was glorious to have sun yesterday.
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Sunday, December 26th, 2010 05:37 am
This morning i awaken from dreams of travel through airport landscapes with ears that feel stuffed and congested. No, i do not want to be sick now, thank you very much. The dreams are my "solving" dreams, i don't understand what's going on in them, but get the sense i'm figuring something out. The landscapes have changed through the years. First were the plains of North Carolina, woods cut by powerline easements and tobacco fields, sandy roads marked with the intersections marked with milage to the nearest hamlet. The rocky coast of California, crenelated with stream fed coves. Now airports and transit systems with tickets and baggage: it's probably a better metaphorical place for problem solving than the simple navigational problems of other landscapes.

I do feel some anxiety of "Last Day Off." I have so much on my want to do, ought to do list....

But first, looking back.

Yesterday began with the trip to the Meetinghouse to keep the shelter open past the normal time the guests must leave at 7 am. Read more... )


Midday is a bit of a blur. We had some pumpkin pie, we opened the gifts. I did not pig out on all the candy Mom sent, but i did indulge in a chocolate marshmallow Santa. We suited up to go out on the xootrs for a bit, and it began to rain. We decided it was a movie afternoon and choose between Tron: Legacy and Guliver's Travels based on showtimes. Lunch was a salad -- for some reason, i'm really enjoying having iceberg lettuce instead of romaine, and i took some candy to the theater. Christine told me about http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/ and mentioned that apparently the candy is often given by soldiers to local kids. Dentists without borders will be needed soon, she asserts.


Tron was fun to watch,Read more... )


Home, and i can't quite remember the order. We had an early dinner, having eaten lightly all day (and too many sweets for me). I found a cranberry-lime sauce to make to go with the scallops. I used a Cipollini instead of a shallot and probably too much lime juice: it was a strong sauce. However, it didn't overwhelm the scallops and i found it quite pleasant to mix in with the wild rice basmati mix.

I finished reading Dust, which provided an interesting counterpart to Tron's representation of an AI avatar.

I did have a little Skype exchange with my sister and her family: the kids are delightful, and i do value how L takes the time to make sure they know us as persons.
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Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 02:22 pm
Went out to lunch with my boss today. I don't normally drink at lunch but i indulged in the 21st Amendment brew pub's "Fireside Chat" a spiced dark ale. "Like FDR's Depression-era radio addresses, which were like a kick in the butt and a hug at the same time, our Fireside Chat is a subtle twist on the traditional seasonal brew. We begin with a rich, dark, English-style ale and then we improvise with spices until we know we have a beer worth sharing with the nation."

*fuzzy after-lunch noggin*

I also had a bit of the bread with the olive oil before the meal. The bread was some sort of yeasty flatbread, more tender and sweet than a pita. There was spicy seafood chowder with the most tender calamari[1] and then a seared ahi [2] tuna stylized salad nicoise.

[1] and i felt guilty about eating the intelligent critter -- http://www.slate.com/id/2192211/ -- but watching an octopus go after crabs in a mason jar seemed to put things in a little context.

[2] Probably overfished.