Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Today's questions

If most of the songs Morrissey sings only really have 2 notes, why are they still appealing?

If you're blonde and pale, shouldn't you wear more contrasting colors than light pink and white?

Similarly, if you have red hair and orange-tanned skin, shouldn't you wear lipstick that contrasts rather than match your hair/skin?

Why do people wear elaborate, dangly earrings with a hooded sweatshirt?

Is it safe to jaywalk in front of cars when the roads are icy?

What does it mean when two people stand in the middle of a very tall bridge hugging?

If you're a mouse, why would the laundry room be more appealing than the kitchen?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More cowbell

We went out to cowbell for a few friends doing the Seattle half- and full- Marathon. Miserable morning to run if you ask me...wet snow on the ground with rain and snow coming down...a downright sloppy mess. A group of us stood on Madison for 45 minute or so cheering for the half-marathoners, then Ray and I drove south to find the marathoners. Found them in the Mt. Baker area. We stood along Lake Washington Blvd at mile 17 watching some interesting faces...concentration, grimaces, closed eyes, smiles, pain, and lots of red cheeks.

People really seemed encouraged by the cowbell. We got lots of "thanks", thumbs up, waves, and more than a few "more cowbell!" One guy said, "Oh thank god. I didn't know if that was you or just a cowbell in my head." I don't blame you buddy -- I'd be a little nutty too at mile 17 of 26!

We walked a few miles along the route while cowbelling, looking for the last person we'd come out to see. Just as I ducked into the Port-O-Let, she ran by. Sh*t.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving side-effects

One of the benefits of hosting Thanksgiving dinner (which was fun and delicious) is that we get a clean house out of it. And I'm inspired to deep clean the fridge and the spice cabinet. That's my plan for today, along with doing some fun school assignments while drinking eggnog latte at Uptown Espresso.

Side note
We used the good china for the first time yesterday, the stuff we got for our wedding. A surprise benefit of the good china, aside from its beauty, is that it cleans up amazingly well. I barely had to show it the soapy sponge and voila! Clean.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Top Food Memories

Potato Chips - Guadalajara, 1989
During a youth group trip to Central Mexico, we were touring around downtown Guadalajara one afternoon, shopping for gifts and generally exploring. In the middle of a big square, we saw a guy selling fresh potato chips piled on a little wooden wheelbarrow. I don't remember if it was the smell or the general presentation that perked our interest, but a few of us decided we needed to try them. The guy scooped up a bunch of chips, dumped them into a clear cellophane baggie, squeezed a lemon over them and sprinkled on some salt. They were incredible...thick, crunchy, just the right balance of sour and salty. I don't even like potato chips normally, but when I do try them, it's because I'm looking for something like those chips. I have never eaten their equal.

Pork - Paris, 1993
Three of us traveled through parts of Europe directly after graduation. My friend Bretney's dad lives in Paris, and it was he who took us to eat at a little cafe in the Latin Quarter, I think. I hate to say it, but I don't remember exactly what I had to eat. I think it was an apricot-stuffed pork loin. Whatever it was, it was one of the best things I had ever tasted. I have mentioned this over the years -- " of the best meals ever..." -- and it wasn't until a few years ago that I found out that my friend Melissa had a less than good dining experience that night. Her meal was not tasty and she's had to listen to me rave about mine for more than a decade. Sorry Mel!

Mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli - Seattle, 1994-1995
I lived a few doors down from the 5 Spot on Queen Anne for a few years. I got home late one night, was too tired to cook and had only a little bit of cash on me. I went into the 5 Spot, sat at the bar and just ordered sides: their killer mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. Hit the spot. I repeated this dining experience a few times and remembered to ask what's in their mashed potatoes. They make them with white pepper and some sour cream, and the gravy has a little bit of a kick too. The comforting and just a little feisty potatoes go great with some really good fresh broc.

Crab feed - Grayland, Wash, 2001
My friend Sheila had a bunch of people down for a weekend at her family's beach place in Grayland during the summer. A few people decided to find some crab for dinner, and bought a bunch of lives ones off the back of a boat in nearby Westport. All I remember was about 15 people crammed around the table, slurping and sucking. No one talked...everyone was too busy savoring.

McDonald's - Buzau, Romania, 2003
On my volunteer vacation, we flew into Bucharest and had to drive 5 hours to our destination of Barlad. Our leader, Mihaela, said that we'd stop at the McDonald's in Buzau as it had reliably clean bathrooms and food we were accustomed to. Most of the group wasn't thrilled about this meal option. In fact, several people didn't order anything besides something to drink, and were really really hungry by the time we got to Barlad. I'm pretty sure McDonald's was someplace they'd avoided for years in the States.

Different story on the way home. As soon as we left Barlad, we discussed whether or not Vasily, our driver, would stop at McDonald's, when should we try to ask him about this considering the language barrier, what we each would order, and on and on for 3 hours. McDonald's never tasted so good! We had several great meals during our trip, but sometimes there's nothing like the taste of good ol' US and A (which miraculously tastes the same in Buzau as it does at home!).

Saturday breakfast & Sunday nights - Seattle, 1970s-1980s
I have many fond memories of Saturday morning breakfast and Sunday evening snacks growing up. Every Saturday morning, my mom would make pancakes, waffles, or popovers, usually with scrambled eggs, and maybe some hashbrowns. It was good fuel for the room cleaning and other chores that immediately followed breakfast. I think my fondness and knack for making breakfast foods comes from her.

On Sundays, my mom usually cooked a substantial mid-day meal after church, so we weren't all that hungry in the evening. Instead of dinner, we'd have a light meal centered around popcorn. My dad would get out the old-timey shaker popcorn popper, and my mom set out fixins for Make Your Own Sandwiches. I usually ate popcorn and an apple with a mug of hot cocoa. There is nothing better than popcorn with a little oil and salt that's been shaken in the fireplace. Popcorn floating in cocoa's pretty good too.

Ray's signature polenta - West Seattle, 2003
Ray makes this amazing Polenta dish that wowed me early on. It's kind of like lasagne, except instead of noodles, he layers slabs of polenta in between homemade tomato sauce and bechamel sauce. Often there's some kind of really good sausage in there, and always mozzarella. It's the kind of dish that you want to keep eating even though you're stuffed. And it's even better the next day. Thankfully for our waistlines, we only have this occasionally, like when company comes over.

Shave Ice - Honolulu, 2004
I'm such a whitey that the sun and heat in Hawaii in August were a little overwhelming. We were walking around downtown Honolulu after Ray gave a talk to a local professional group. He was showing me his old haunts back when he lived there. By the time we got to Chinatown, I was a little delirious with the heat. We stopped in this tiny place and ordered some shave ice. I got two flavors...lemon and I think watermelon. This cold sweet stuff tasted unbelievable in that heat. It was a religious experience: I had found the Perfect Food.

After we got back home, Ray bought me my own shave ice machine and flavored syrups. I keep ear plugs on hand when I use it as I think it's a bit louder than what's safe for my little ol' cochleas.

Bakeman's turkey sandwich - Seattle, 2000-2005
Bakeman's is a little like the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame. You'd better know just what you want to order when you get to the front of the line. Their specialty, or at least the one I like best, is a plain old turkey sandwich. I usually ask for "dark on dark, mayo, lettuce, tomato" meaning dark meat on wheat bread. They roast their own turkeys, and I think bake their own bread. It's a little like sandwiches you'd get from Grandma: very basic, very good ingredients. This sandwich goes great with a sack of Cheetos and a soda.

I miss working near downtown! At least at lunchtime when a run to Bakeman's is in order.

Thanksgiving - West Seattle, 2005
Last year's Thanksgiving meal was the product of some very adept cooks. We had so much food, all of it amazing. I won't rehash since you can read about it on the 11/24/05 post. Looking forward to something similar in a few days though we'll be missing two of last year's chefs.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction - 9.5

This Was A Fantastic Movie. Great story. Great performances. Great direction. Great art direction. Its 9.5 score made me reconsider and ultimately recalibrate most of my movie list. I think I've been a little harsh in the past, but that doesn't take anything away from this gem!

The two people who will appreciate this movie the most: Jane (for the story) and Jana (for the art direction and story).

Friday, November 17, 2006

To avoid

1. Drum circles

2. People with clipboards

3. Peas

4. Needless brakers & tailgaters

5. Men who grunt abnormally loud at the gym

6. Starbucks (except Nov 1 thru Dec 31)

7. Thomas Kinkade

8. People who wholly ignore bicycles

9. Jagermeister

10. TV news and ER (for almost the same reasons)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Life is interesting, and usually it seems to be the small stuff that makes it that way.

It was raining so hard this morning that I opted to take the bus rather than walk part of the way to school. Thankfully the bus pulled up just as I reached the stop. I got on and sat down on the second to last available seat. At the next stop, an small old man got on and took the last seat, directly across from me. He was at least 75, shabbily dressed with a kindly face. He was holding some folded up magazine advertisements in his hand.

The guy sitting just next to him look like a doctoral student or international fellow. He was reading a library book, and based on his glasses and clothes I assumed he was European.

The old guy started talking to the student. I couldn't make out what he was saying, but I got the idea that he was trying a few languages on his seat mate. The language they landed on was Italian. They chatted for awhile, and the student seemed a little taken aback by the old guy, maybe pleasantly surprised.

A few minutes later, the student gathered up his things to get off the bus. The old man held out one of the folded up advertisements. He had folded it into an origami crane. The student accepted it gratefully, said goodbye and stepped off the bus.

My stop was next, and as I started to stand to get off, the old guy greeted another passenger, a young Asian woman: "Nee how ma?"

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hard knock life

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy, happy Friday

Long-Necked Sea Monster Found in Montana
Tuesday, November 7, 2006 - Associated Press

A retired pastor and his son unearthed the skull and lower jaw of a sea reptile believed to be about 70 million years old, Montana State University said.

The find northeast of here represents the first complete skull of a long-necked plesiosaur discovered in Montana, and one of the best specimens of its kind in North America, MSU researchers said.

"It's a very important specimen," MSU paleontologist Jack Horner said. "We have been looking for it for a long, long time.

Ken Olson of Lewistown said he and his son, Garrett, found the fossils in mid-August about 75 miles northeast of Lewistown on Bureau of Land Management property.

Because Horner was out of the country, Olson prepared the fossils himself and delivered them to Horner about three weeks later. The bones now rest in boxes at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. Olson has long collected fossils for the museum.

Horner said the head of a short-necked plesiosaur has been found in Montana, but he had been waiting for the discovery of a complete, long-necked plesiosaur skull. Both ancient sea reptiles lived in the time of dinosaurs, according to MSU.

"This critter is one of the long, ridiculously long-necked plesiosaurs" and could have had as many as 70 vertebrae in its neck, said Pat Druckenmiller, MSU specialist in marine reptile fossils. "If the skull is 40 centimeters long, the neck could be seven to 10 times that length."

Druckenmiller is in charge of examining the bones, and planned to look at them with a CT scanner at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. He hopes his research will help him better understand the creature's diet and why it needed such a long neck.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Sack of potatoes

In November 2000, I acquired a 10 lbs. sack of potatoes. Like your average high school "pregnancy" project -- the one where you have to carry a raw egg around without breaking it for a whole weekend -- I've been carrying this sack of potatoes with me everywhere, with no relief. My back is killing me.

These potatoes are different from your usual spuds, as they change in weight and quality depending on bizarre environmental factors. For example, when George W. Bush was sworn into office, the potatoes got heavier. Every time his voice came through the radio, they got heavier. When he made cabinet appointments, they got heavier. And when the Iraq War started, they got heavier and rotten and smelly.

I've been sick of these damn potatoes for years. What I want most is to open the bag and huck a few out at some choice politicians, but that can be a messy option. I've been tempted to leave the sack at the US border and migrate to another country where I hope I'd never get saddled with 10 lbs of potatoes again. "We should stay and make hashbrowns!" Ray would say, more or less. "It's hard to make hashbrowns out of rotten potatoes," I'd respond. "Well," he countered, "...we'll make rotten hashbrowns and feed them to those choice politicians!"

Yesterday, the load got lighter. Me and my potatoes went to the polls and voted, and so did a lot of other people with 10 lbs. on their back. By last night, my sack was lighter, easier to manage, for the first time in years. I was even able to take a few out and huck them just for fun, at no one in particular. And my back pain is easing just a little.

My goal for the next two years: get good at making hashbrowns, even rotten hashbrowns, so I can be rid of these taters in 2008!

Monday, November 6, 2006


I've been avoiding this pit for months. It's time to intervene. I think I'm going to throw everything here on the floor, pick out the worthwhile bits, and figure out a foolproof organization system. The rest I'll shove in recycling or a Return to Owner box. Gawd...embarrassing.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Which wife of Henry VIII are you?

That last post was a downright snooze. Bo-ring. Props to Jana for introducing me to an improved source of blog content.

Which wife of Henry the Eighth are you?
Your Result: Catherine Parr

You are Catherine Parr, sixth, and final, wife of Henry. You are known for your patience and calm manner. Though not the prettiest, brightest, cleverest,most devout, or strong, you are a good person who knows how to handle her temper. Good for you!

Anne of Cleves
Katherine of Aragon
Jane Seymour
Kathrine Howard
Anne Boleyn
Which wife of Henry the Eighth are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Spelling problems

With the exception of my personal trip-up words ("address" always looks wrong, and "hors d'oeuvres" is a doosey), I usually spell things correctly, even when I'm in a hurry. I've noticed in the last 6 months or so I've been making the strangest spelling errors, usually while taking notes in class.

If I'm writing down a phrase, I will anticipate the next word, and go ahead and skip to it. Or I will leave out letters. Or I just won't remember how to spell something. These kind of errors really bug me, so I go back, erase, rewrite, and then I've missed a bit of the class.

Trying to write: "right-side..."
Actually write: "righs..."

Trying to write: "formant transition"
Actually write: "formatt..."

Trying to write: "susceptible"
Actually write: "sesseptable"

Trying to write: "assistive"
Actually write: "assitive"

Trying to write: "the child..."
Actually write: "thc..."

Maybe it's just old age. If that's the case I'll hate to see what I'm doing when I'm actually old.