Thursday, September 29, 2005

Clothes Shopping the Easy Way. Sheva hosted a Weekender's clothes party this evening. It's called turbo-shopping. This line has a lot of classic looks and comfortable yet good looking fabrics. So I got a few fall colors...

Jo-Ann dropped by with Aurelia while I was out yesterday and today, and little Aurelia drew me the cutest family drawing, which is now on my refrigerator, and today left me a bowl of stawberries with her artwork. What a 3-year-old sweetie!

Last night another bright light, 4 year-old Miss Olivia, left a voice mail telling me she loved me... and signing me part of the refrain from "Annie" which she went to see with her Mom and Maga (Grandmom) at the Golden Gate Theater this past weekend. My heart melts!

Last evening I took out a DVD that Michael recommended - Born Into Brothels. A very worthwhile documentary. There is a site with more about the kids: Kids with Cameras. A good way to slide into a weekend with Global Partners starting tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Indictment. It was too Delayed. I had a personal experience with his slimy office a few years ago. Someone representing themselves from his office called me at work without prior introduction and gave me a sugar-coated offer. After praising my business success (seemed very strange that his office should have any clue about my career) and telling me I'd won an award, they asked that I allow them to use my name in the paper supporting Bush's policies. I naturally responded that I couldn't do that as I strongly opposed the Bush policies that they were discussing (can't remember off-hand which one now). Apparently the so-called 'award' and recognition was CONTINGENT upon use of my name in the paper. Although the person wouldn't state it in that way, guess what -- nothing she promised came to my address! And of course my name wasn't on whatever retro policies he was proposing at the time. Given this experience, it would not surprise me if he is actually guilty of the crimes he's been accused. At any rate, he's a bad actor, and hopefully will have the cane come out and pull him off the public stage permanently.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Kitti's Place Redux. Since the portions were so generous, I had a full dinner of left overs tonight, which heated up well. This evening seemed to be the evening of difficulties for a number of friends and family -- got calls all evening telling me of various very hard times. Seems that way for a lot of people these days, I hope that things shift into a more positive and healthy sphere real soon for all.

I did find a very cool gadget! A virtual keyboard (VKB). The cigarette-lighter-sized VKB uses laser and infrared technology to project a full-size QWERTY keyboard onto any flat surface for almost any palmtop computer, PDA or mobile phone. It is also easily integrated into a mobile phone, with Siemens and Samsung having shown versions of the technology integrated into their phones at recent trade shows.

Roughly the size of a disposable lighter, (90 x 34 x 24 mm), the VKB enables users to type email or long text as easily as with a conventional keyboard.

VKB works by using both infrared technology to produce an invisible circuit and laser technology to project a full-size keyboard that performs exactly like a real one. Its direction technology, based on optical recognition, enables users to tap the images of the keys, complemented with the realistic tapping sound, and then feed the commands into the compatible PDAs, Smartphones, lap-top or personal computers.

Is that cool or what?!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Kitti's Place. Not one to let grass grow under my feet, I promptly enjoyed dinner at Kitti's Place in Sausalito as my food writer neighbor recommended. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a website. It is very casual and California with a Thai flavor. The lettuce cups were outstanding -- a mix of chicken and shrimp and crispy wide (Phad Thai type) noodles, jicima, other surprises and a very well flavored sauce.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Saturday & Sunday. I tried to make it a relaxing weekend as next weekend will be a BIG one as it's the Global Partners for Development Gala. Michael & Jo-Ann came over on Saturday evening for a We-eating and creativity flowed. Daniel was concerned about not hearing a word from the lady he sent 1,000 roses to -- on Sunday he finally had the disappointing news that she was really not interested in developing the relationship further. Oh well... the story didn't have that happy movie ending.

I did attend my condo associations social Sunday evening, and finally got to know the neighbors. Delightful bunch, lots of talent and interesting lives. I particularly enjoyed meeting my neighbor Lois directly across the street as we seem to have a lot in common... and she's a food writer for a local newspaper! She told me I have to try Kitti's Place...

Friday, September 23, 2005

Thursday & Friday. Wind down days. Went to my Shadow Dancing meeting on Thursday, and enjoyed a quick bite at Akira's on Friday night. Looking forward to the weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

NPRI (Nuclear Policy Research Institute). Tuesday was very tied up in assisting the new expatriates, and I enjoyed a quick bite at La Maison de la Reine afterwards.

On Wednesday I went to a showing with the Filmmaker and Executive Director of "Nuclear Deception" associated with NPRI, which I was introduced to from Dr. Caldicott's staff. It was in San Geronimo (Western Marin), and a small but well-educated group. The DVD is very worth seeing as there are a number of critical facts compellingly displayed. Before the screening, I drove through the tiny town and had a very nice dinner at the "Two Birds Cafe", the only restaurant in town!

San Geronimo is so quaint and interesting. Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle that has a good description:

Valley of the Artists Mural still speaks to bucolic San Geronimo

-Sam Whiting

Riding west on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, motorists and cyclists blow right by the San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center - unless they happen to know this is the place to see winter-run salmon in the creek and a WPA mural in the lobby.

The bucolic landscape is 15 feet wide, 7 feet tall, and 50 feet off the road. It's worth a stop just to see how little has changed along the way out to Olema and Point Reyes in the 70 years since it was painted by Maurice Del Mue. A Parisian by way of San Francisco, Del Mue came out here to live and paint in 1925 as part of a migration as consistent as the salmon. The valley claims the highest concentration of artists in Marin County, and that's saying something given all the watercolorists in Mill Valley.

"Because of the beauty, it's like Santa Fe, N.M. It just brings that out in people," explains Susan Lahr, who has lived here for 30 years. "It's a huge artistic community - recording artists, visual artists, literary artists."

There are enough artists that the Two Bird Cafe has its own curator. The valley has almost as many post offices per capita as there are artists - four for 4,000 people. Each of the villages has its own - Woodacre, San Geronimo, Forest Knolls and Lagunitas. "You meet your friends and neighbors at the post office on a daily basis," Lahr says.

There is no home delivery of mail, or much of anything else. When the power goes out, it goes out early in the San Geronimo Valley and comes back late. Last winter, Lahr lost hers for five days. Last El Nino, it was seven.

"This is a real '60s place. Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Quicksilver - they all lived out here," says Lahr, who didn't arrive from her hometown of Pittsburgh until 1973 - which was in time for Elvin Bishop and the day Garcia died at Serenity Knolls, the recovery center in Forest Knolls. They also lost folksinger Kate Wolf, but she is brought back the third Sunday of each month with Kate's Cafe, featuring performance art in the Cultural Center. It starts at 6:30 tonight. The two galleries are open, and the mural is lighted in the lobby. (It can also be seen weekdays, or by calling Lahr, the Cultural Center arts and events coordinator, at (415) 488-9385, Ext. 4.)
Five miles west of Fairfax, the San Geronimo Valley is entered by crossing Brown's Bridge at White's Hill, the great divide between rich Marin and West Marin. Opened this year, the 380-foot bridge is touted as the longest single- span west of the Mississippi.

Another piece of technological trivia is that Alexander Graham Bell strung up the first telephone in California to link houses on the Mailliard ranch. Even back then there was a Bolinas attitude in West Marin. Bell ran the phone line between fence posts, and a Luddite came along and snipped the wires behind him, so they say.

The isolation ended for good when railroad tracks were tunneled through White's Hill. The passenger train that carried Del Mue is gone, but the yellow depot still sits behind the Two Bird.
The Cultural Center was built as Lagunitas School in 1924, and 10 years later Del Mue painted the mural. Because it is on canvas stuck to the wall, Lahr is convinced it was painted on site, and that somebody out there saw him do it. To flush out a witness, Lahr held a Lagunitas School reunion last summer. Former students in their 60s and 70s brought their report cards as proof, but none brought a memory of the man painting the mural.

At first sight, it is remarkably vibrant. Dirty, though, to an eye like Lahr's. It needs $20,000 worth of restoration, so Lahr got Trillium Press to make fine art prints of the mural to trade for a $250 donation. Some would rather have a print of the 1961 valley master plan, which hangs on the opposite wall as a cautionary tale. It shows where Highway 580 was going to come off the Richmond Bridge and run beside Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

There were going to be 5,000 homes and a big motel. But 40 years of fighting whittled it down to a row of overbuilt Ponderosa-style ranch houses just west of the school.

"That's probably what the whole valley would have looked like," Lahr says, "but everything else got shot down."

The freeway would have upset the flight pattern of the swallows. Outside the center, there is a nest tucked under each of the eaves, and a plaque describing them.

"They'll be back," Lahr says, looking up at the empty nests. "They always come back." So do the coho and chinook salmon and steelhead. At the other end of the center is a footbridge over Larsen Creek, a 15-mile swim from the ocean.

"The kids are here every day after school watching them," says Lahr.

The fish will be coming with the rains and, if Lahr can sell enough prints, so will the mural conservator. That makes two spectacles to stop for this winter in San Geronimo.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Davis. Things went smoothly, and Michael was able to meet us for lunch. The only glitch was that the chosen restaurant, Sophia's, was closed for renovation. So we went to a nearby noodle house that makes them by hand. Everyone enjoyed it, and it was good to have some discussion with the Okayama's about kayaking and skiing. We spent a lot of time on preschool searching just prior, so it was a nice balance of interests. Davis seems to be a very nice place for raising a family. I took the families to Yankee Pier in Larkspur for dinner. They all loved the clam chowder.. but the service in general was very slow.

Daniel did send the 1,000 roses! The florist personally delivered the 25 vases of 40 red roses, plus one dozen to start off the surprise. Seems the recipient was grinning ear-to-ear, however, Daniel has not heard a peep.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

New friends. Grazed on leftovers today and rested, cleaned house.... then I went into the city and noticed WHAT TRAFFIC! Well, it is to be expected with 35,000 extra visitors to conventions in the city as I later found out. I picked up a mini-van to be able to transport two new families who are settling in from Japan in the Davis area transferred by our company's parent. I picked them up for a light dinner since they just arrived this morning and all timing would be off. The Matsuokas and Okayamas were delightful, and we enjoyed a big boat (huge!) of sushi at Akira's. The Matsuoka's 2-year old, Haruki, was cute as a button.

Tomorrow we go to Davis to look their new apartments before choosing rental furniture. I found that Mr. Okayama LOVES kayaking, and Mrs. Okayama LOVES skiing, and so am doing what I love, cross-connecting people with similar interests. So it follows I called up Michael to see if he might be interested in meeting us for lunch... he is a kayaking enthusiast, and his girlfriend Karen as much a skiing enthusiast. Michael added that Karen's close friend in Japanese and also a skiing enthusiast, although living in LA. So I'll be calling Michael tomorrow to see if his day allows him to break away and enjoy lunch at his recommended Sophia's Thai Kitchen with us.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Jaison & Linda. After having a leisurely breakfast with Michael of a Spanish omelet and country buttermilk biscuits with a mango lassi and discussing the latest in music notation and creating software, we went off to our respective days. I enjoyed a money lecture with Jaison in Napa, and dinner with Linda & Olivia at Cafe Citti in Kenwood. Olivia was tired and really went on a crying tear when it was revealed that the restaurant didn't have any ice cream. I hope that's the worst thing she ever has to cry about.

Stopped at Dad's briefly to help him shop, and then caught up with Daniel on the phone on the way back. The hot-or-not photos worked well enough for him to have found a beautiful girl of his dreams only to seem to have her slip away after two dates..... he's now contemplating a surprise gift to better express his feelings of 1,000 red roses. No, that was not a typo. The number of 0's are correct. Makes me think of that movie "Bed of Roses".

Also makes me think of my relationship with flowers. I love them unreservedly as they are such expressions of beauty and happiness without reason. I love receiving them in this light and context, for beautiful, happy positive moments, or for no reason at all. I just as much abhor receiving flowers as an apology as the association seems incongruent and ruins the enjoyment of the flowers.

Friday, September 16, 2005

USCF Visit. Dad's visit was quite disjointed, and they were not able to do the cystocopy. Surgery is necessary in order to complete the check-up, so we started the schedule for it. Although we had no 'bad' news, it was frustrating to have one of those most things don't quite go right with the appointments days. It appears Dad will have an outpatient surgery on September 28th, with all the usual pre-op appointments, so we will be in the system a few days for that minor surgery.

After taking Dad back home to Sonoma, I prepped for the creativity group meeting at my place. Jo-Ann, Michael & I dubbed our new name for meetings 'we-eatings' as we have had nothing but delectable potlucks as we enjoy our creative ventures together into the late evenings. Michael stayed over to get out to sea-kayaking in the morning from Sausalito.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Tuesday started another session of the Shadow Dancing Women's group. The standout pleasure of these days was Wednesday when I enjoyed cooking dinner for my friend Carl. Did a Cajun Blackened Salmon on the grill w/asparagus, and a saffroned rice with green peas and baby shrimp. Made a kooky Japanese samurai helmet dessert out of Ben & Jerrie's Cherry Garcia and bananas and a waffle cookie with chocolate middle. Thursday was taken up with picking Dad up for being in place for his Friday morning appointments at USCF.

Monday, September 12, 2005

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Theodore Roosevelt

WMD Threat Could Spark American Nuclear Strike
By Giles Whittell, Times Online

A PRESIDENT of the United States would be able to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes against enemies planning to use weapons of mass destruction under a revised “nuclear operations” doctrine to be signed in the next few weeks.

In a significant shift after half a century of nuclear deterrence based on the threat of massive retaliation, the revised doctrine would allow pre-emptive strikes against states or terror groups, and to destroy chemical and biological weapons stockpiles.

Presidential approval would still be required for any nuclear strike, but the updated document, the existence of which was confirmed by the Pentagon at the weekend, emphasises the need for the US to adapt to a world of worsening proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in which deterrence might fail. In that event, it states, “the United States must be prepared to use nuclear weapons if necessary”.

The Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, last revised ten years ago, extends President Bush’s doctrine of pre-emptive war to cover a US nuclear arsenal that is expected to shrink to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by 2012.

It was drafted by the Pentagon in March and posted on the internet, but did not attract widespread attention until a report on it in The Washington Post yesterday. It has since been removed from the Department of Defence website.

It came to light as Iran insisted, in defiance of the European Union, that it would continue processing uranium at its Isfahan reactor. The US has called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Tehran for failing to shelve its nuclear programme.

Referring repeatedly to “non-state actors” — parlance for terrorists — the doctrine is designed to arm the White House and US forces with a new range of threats and sanctions to counter the situation of threatened nuclear attack by al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates.

The document’s key phrase appears in a list of pre-emptive nuclear strike scenarios, the first of which is against an enemy using “or intending to use WMD”.

Elsewhere it states that “deterrence of potential adversary WMD use requires the potential adversary leadership to believe that the United States has both the ability and will to pre-empt or retaliate promptly with responses that are credible and effective”.

The 1995 version of the doctrine contained no mention of pre-emption or WMD as legitimate nuclear targets.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Harris Ranch Beef Stroganoff. Briny and strange tasting, not like stroganoff at all. Trying something new isn't ALWAYS fun.

But the company was fun (Daniel) and the rice in my new rice cooker (Aroma) turned out well (onion & mushroom rice).

Watched a thoughtful Ingmar Bergman film this morning - Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries). It was very good, but a trifle depressing way to start off the day.

Another depressing thing is a book called "The Long Emergency" -- about peak oil. Apparently, we will hit that point at Thanksgiving 2005, give or take a few weeks. Eeeek. I haven't finished the book, but it seems to be knocking out all the illusions of replacing oil with any up and coming technology. So far, it's recommendable.

25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath

By Daniel Kurtzman

1) "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." –President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina (Source)

2) "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." –Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the Hurricane flood evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, Sept. 5, 2005 (Source)

3) "It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level....It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." –House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Aug. 31, 2005 ( Source)

4) "We've got a lot o! f rebuilding to do ... The good news is — and it's hard for some to see it now — that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house — he's lost his entire house — there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) —President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005 (Source)

5) "Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005 (Source)

6) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." –President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring Hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005 ( Source)

7) "I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water." Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on NPR's "All Things Considered," Sept. 1, 2005 (Source)

8) "Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.' Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, blaming media coverage for his failings, "Meet the Press," Sept. 4, 2005 (Source)

9) "I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.” –Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sept. 6, 2005 ( Source)

10) "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals...many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." –CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on New Orleans' hurricane evacuees, Sept. 1, 2005 (Source)

11) "What didn't go right?'" –President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort (Source)

12) "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" –House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston ( S! ource)

13) "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." –Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) to lobbyists, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal (Source)

14) "Louisiana is a city that is largely under water." –Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, news conference, Sept. 3, 2005 (Source)

15) "I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school." –First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to a "Hurricane Corina" while speaking to children and parents in South Haven, Mississippi, Sept. 8, 2005 (Source)

16) "It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." –President Bush, turning to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005 ( Source)

17) "I believe the town where I used to come – from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much – will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to." –President Bush, on the tarmac at the New Orleans airport, Sept. 2, 2005 (Source)

18) "Last night, we showed you the full force of a superpower government going to the rescue." –MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Sept. 1, 2005 (Source)

19) "You know I talked to Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi yesterday because some people were saying, 'Well, if you hadn't sent your National Guard to Iraq, we here in Mississippi would be better off.' He told me 'I've been out in the field every single day, hour, for four days and no one, not one single mention of the word Iraq.' Now where does that come from? Where does that story come from if the governor is not picking up one word about it? I don't know. I can use my imagination.” –Former President George Bush, who can give his imagination a rest, interview with CNN’s Larry King, Sept. 5, 2005 (Source)

20) "We just learned of the convention center – we being the federal government – today." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded " Don't you guys watch television? Don't you guys listen to the radio? Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today." (Source)

21) "I don't want to alarm everybody that, you know, New Orleans is filling up like a bowl. That's just not happening." -Bill Lokey, FEMA's New Orleans coordinator, in a press briefing from Baton Rouge, Aug. 30, 2005 (Source)

22) "FEMA is not going to hesitate at all in this storm. We are not going to sit back and make this a bureaucratic process. We are going to move fast, we are going to move quick, and we are going to do whatever it takes to help disaster victims." --FEMA Director Michael Brown, Aug. 28, 2005 ( Source)

23) "I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans." –FEMA Director Michael Brown, arguing that the victims bear some responsibility, CNN interview, Sept. 1, 2005 (Source)

24) "I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen." --GOP strategist Jack Burkman, on MSNBC's "Connected," Sept. 7, 2005 (Source)

25) "Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi and Alabama to our help and rescue. We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts. Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard – maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating." –Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Aug. 31, 2005, to which Cooper responded:

"I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap – you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here?" (Source)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Dosai-dosai-do. Jo-Ann and I met for lunch at our favorite Tabla Cafe in Larkspur. We each had French Lentil Soup, and split our dosai in two to share, Roasted Turkey and Wild Salmon. It's such a charming, inventive and reasonable place with locally grown organic ingredients used only.

After lunch we noticed that the neighboring hardware store was very unique and had an awesome buyer who made the housewares section a joy to browse.

After lunch I went to Santa Rosa to meet Patty & Jaison, first time to visit their home and had quite the discussion of emerging world trends with Jaison.

Noticing I was not so far from Dad, I called him up and treated him to dinner at Shogun in Santa Rosa since he requested Japanese food. It's billed as the best "Japanese" restaurant in Santa Rosa. Although the restaurant funishings were very nicely Japanese, the minute I walked in the door I had the feel of "Korean". I shook my shoulders, thinking I was feeling strange, as it was obviously billed as a JAPANESE restaurant. The place was well kept, the portions generous and dishes tasty, but when my yaki-udon came with characteristic Korean side dishes (a kind of 'shredded' garlic and sesame spinach, and bean top heavy garlicy salted mung sprouts) I knew my original hit was correct. I did hear some Japanese spoken from the waitstaff, but the chef definately put a Korean spin on it. Putting a different cultures spin on what is billed as one type of fare is disappointing. I probably won't go out of my way to visit again.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Company event. This evening was our company's summer/fall outing... we started with a marvelous meal at Jardiniere. The food and service was superb.

I've been there a few times before, more often when I had season tickets to the SF Symphony, but it had been a long time since.

We started at 5 p.m. and had a leisurely multi-course meal, served of course with our favorite Ridge Zin. It ran out early.

Unfortunately a couple of our staff couldn't make it due to family emergencies, including my boss, but I held the 'keep things moving' energy in his place at the end as I didn't want us to miss our show! The other half of the eveing (ending at 11:00) was to attend the musical "Wicked".

"Wicked" was quite an amazing (and long) show, extremely inventive and creative.

We all loved it, although there were a few slow times. To be expected in such a long event (8:00 - 11:00).

The theme seemed quite timely - the turning of the appearance of evil on its head...

Would highly recommend making the effort to find a way to go to this one!

I promise -- no tigers served at my house!

Chinese Eatery Sold Donkey in Tiger Urine -
Thursday, September 8, 2005

(09-08) 15:58 PDT SHANGHAI, China (AP) --

A restaurant in northeastern China that advertised illegal tiger meat dishes was found instead to be selling donkey flesh — marinated in tiger urine, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The Hufulou restaurant, located beside the Heidaohezi tiger reserve near the city of Hailin, had advertised stir-fried tiger meat with chilies for $98as well as liquor flavored with tiger bone for $74 a bottle, the China Daily reported.

Raw meat was priced at $864 per kilogram.

The sale of tiger parts is illegal in China and officers shut down the restaurant, only to be told by owner, Ma Shikun, that the meat was actually that of donkeys, flavored with tiger urine to give the dish a "special" tang, the newspaper said.

The report didn't say how the urine was obtained.

Authorities confiscated the restaurant's profits and fined Ma $296 it said. It wasn't clear what Ma was fined for. Selling donkey meat is not illegal in China and it is widely consumed in the northeast.

Ma had initially claimed that the meat came from dead tigers sold to him by the management of the Heidaohezi reserve, but later changed his story, the report said.

While Heidaohezi's director denied that claim, the reserve, with about 150 tigers, has been involved in similar controversies in the past.

Until China outlawed the trade in 1993, the reserve received most of its revenue from the sale of tiger skins, bones and other body parts, which are believed by Chinese to imbue vigor and sexual prowess.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

San Rafael's Farmer's Market (Downtown). San Rafael so loves farmer's markets, that it has two... one every Thursday downtown, and another at the Civic Center on weekends. I went to the one downtown after having my hair clipped... I bought the most gorgeous, sweet, pesticide-free white peaches.

My friends and neighbors seem to be heading off for adventures. Linda called me from the airport on her way to Toronto for a week, and I picked up my neighbor Jerrie's keys to check her mail this evening after the San Rafael jaunt. She's visiting her son in Oregon for nearly a week.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tuesday & Wednesday. Concentrated on work... did visit Akira for sushi on Wednesday.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day. I did putter around and then Jo-Ann & Jonathon & family came over to swim. I intended to join them, but Daniel showed up just prior for a photo op. Since the last photo op, where my favorite headshot scored 9.5 on Hot or Not and then lately dropped to 8.5, he wanted to see if he could better the score. I'm becoming quite the character photographer ;-). Hot or Not is one of the top 10 web phenomena in the past 10 years according to CNet. Wikipedia has a nice write-up on the site. Two of the results of todays photo op are below:

So we'll see how these rate among the Hot or Not crowd.

I took probably 100 or more...

By the way, if any of my friends or friends thereof happen to be or know someone in the age range of 20-30 with blonde hair and on the tall side who is looking for that special someone... let me know and I'll put you in touch with Daniel, who lives in Berkeley. He looks startlingly like Clark Kent (Christopher Reeves) in person.

That part having been done, we went to see "The 40-Year-Old Virgin". It was not REALLY my cup of tea, but I have to admit it had me howling with laughter.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Keeping promises. My Dad was expecting me together with Erika and Collette to pick him up for lunch around noon... so I called him up on the way and gave him the disappointing news that he'd have to make do with just me this time. Called Linda next, and she invited us to go with her and Jan to "The Constant Gardner", a thriller, playing at the historic Sebastiani Theater in downtown Sonoma. Dad and I enjoyed a quick bite at our favorite Rin's Thai, about two blocks from the theater.

The Constant Gardner was riveting. The scenes of the slums in Nairobi caught my attention right away, because I've been there, and they were the same ones. The portrayal of life in Kenya for Kenyans was quite accurate. The point made about the devaluing of human life there was also, unfortunately, accurate. I can't comment on the diplomatic life there. However, the part of the plot about 'big bad pharma' was distractingly inaccurate. First world pharma companies countries would not accept data from third world clinical studies, and doing clinical trials on sick people with unrelated diseases to the drug's purpose would so cloud the results as to be unusuable, any rudimentary scientific inquiry into the results would disqualify them immediately. And there is a host of other reasons this would not happen even if you ascribe the most diabolical motives to big pharma.

I stopped again at Costco on the way home, and picked ups some frozen tempura shrimp that Jo-Ann introduced me to, very good. I do have to question the excess packaging though. Each shrimp is carefully encased in it's own styrofoam bed, wrapped in trays of 5. It does protect each little batter arm. The shrimp are produced by Tiger Thai. The fact that they can be baked is a big plus. Enjoyed some for dinner.

Christian, a friend in Norway, called me to my pleasant surprise and talked about a half hour. He told me the strangest thing. It is cheaper for the Norwegians to send their salmon to China via air to be filleted, and via air back again, than to machine fillet in Norway. There is something really goofy about our currency valuation with China.

Friend Daniel came over for a couple hours and I whipped up some dinner for him while we chatted. Daniel mentioned that it is cheaper to buy garlic from farmers in China and ship it here than to buy local garlic from the garlic capital here in Gilroy, California. That isn't quite as surprising.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Priorities. First priority was the -get ready for Erika and Collette to come- morning/afternoon. And after editing so many Katrina posts, and sifting through all kinds of reports spanning from heart-wrenching, practical, dire economics, to rather frightening or just plain crazy theories (Unknown Country has some, also the so-called Woodpecker Grid-maybe the grid is real, but what it can do is questionable, WeatherWars, Scalar Wars, slowing/stoppage of Thermohaline Circulation), I was ready to stock up on goods at the very least, we're in for some rapidly rising prices out of all of this.

Reported in the Swiss news today is that they are releasing (along with other European countries) some of their strategic oil reserves to the US to help us out, I read also that Japan is sending us 12% of their strategic oil reserve as well.

From Bloomberg: "The Gulf Coast region produces a third of the nation's oil and a fifth of its natural gas, and also handles 40 percent of U.S. grain exports. Some pipelines that move fuel to the rest of the country were closed by the storm."

If we are tapping our strategic reserves, and that's not enough - we need SWISS reserves too, seems like we're in a lot more hurt than anyone is admitting.

So off to Costco I went, and concentrated on dry goods that I regularly use, just picking up an extra one of each to have ahead. Picked up some food goods too, but needing to keep in mind what I would really use. There is a tension between what good store well, and what someone who believes in very fresh and healthy will eat... of course one eats differently in an emergency, but you have to rotate even preserved foods that you store.

I stopped at Jo-Ann & Jonathon's on the way back and we enjoyed a rather extended conversation about California's central valley and it's vulnerability to earthquake. You might wonder about Stockton and the Central California Valley. This part of California feeds a lot of the nation, and it is built on a peat-bog which is sinking due to lack of water replenishment each year. For the last 150 years farmers have been building a patchwork of levees to keep the water at bay, and these are not like New Orlean's Army Corps of Engineers well-engineered levees, these are made from whatever materials were at hand then, sticks, rocks, etc. The water supply from this area is used for 2/3's of California's population. Apparently these levees are in real disrepair and an earthquake, like the one expected on the Hayward fault in the next 30 years, could cause massive breakage, and flooding of the area, contaminating the water. The bay area would be heavily affected, and Contra Costa's water supply would be basically wiped out.

From the East Bay Express, February 23, 2005:

"A major Hayward Fault earthquake could slice through the weak levees like "the sword of Damocles," said Mount, a geology professor who has studied the levees extensively. The most vulnerable are the westernmost islands in Contra Costa County closest to the fault. The collapse of just a few could create a domino effect. Mount explained why: The bay-water sides of the levees were built stronger because there is more daily pressure on them. But when a levee breaks and floods an island, the water pressure is transferred to the weaker inside of the next levee. That next levee, then, becomes much easier to topple.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and the collapse of eight levees in a row is called the "Big Gulp." So much saltwater will rush in that it will ruin the delta's freshwater supply, possibly for up to a year or more. "It turns out that once it gets in, it's hard to get out," Mount said. He explained that there's only one construction company in California that repairs levees -- the Dutra Group. Under perfect conditions, Dutra can fix two to three levees in the course of a summer. But working from barges while battling wind-driven delta waves is devilishly difficult, and the company likely will be under fierce pressure to be elsewhere. "If you have a 7.0 earthquake on the Hayward Fault, do you think that Dutra Corporation is going to be out fixing the delta?" Mount said.

That's very bad news for California. The delta is the main drinking-water source for 22 million people. While it mostly supplies Southern California via the State Water Project canal, it also is a primary source for Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties and the main irrigation water supply for five million acres of cropland in the country's leading agricultural area, the San Joaquin Valley.

Major aqueducts in the EBMUD and Hetch Hetchy water systems also are at risk where they cross the delta. If it suddenly becomes a giant inland sea, those aqueducts will be torn apart. EBMUD is currently studying whether it's possible to fix its main water supply, the Mokelumne River Aqueduct, from barges.

What happens when the water is too salty to quench the thirst of more than two-thirds of California's residents and much of its best farmland for a year or more? California has never completed a comprehensive study of the likely long-term economic effects on the state, the nation, and the world's economy. Tens of billions of dollars? Hundreds of billions, perhaps? Whatever it turns out to be, it will pale in comparison to the $1 billion or so that Mount says it would cost now to sufficiently fortify the old levees."

Apparently, the voters of California have about the foresight of our 'leader' Bush -- a few years ago there was a $36(?) million dollar bond issue put before the voters to approve to repair these levees, and it FAILED.

This conversation made me want to know where Mill Valley's water source is coming from. I get those little flyers every year, like everyone else, but paid more attention to the QUALITY of the water we're getting rather than the SOURCE. My vague recollection was that it comes mostly from the Mt. Tam watershed (safe from the above scenario), but I also remember, at least as a county, we don't produce enough water for our needs and import some from Sonoma(?), and Jonathon mentioned an experimental desalinization plant working in the county. So I found the website for the Marin Municipal Water District, and basically found out my memory was correct.

Meanwhile, while I'm envisioning water... Erika is stuck in traffic because of a FIRE near LA. After about 3 hours of traffic, never leaving the LA area, she gives up on her plan to visit me this weekend, turns around and heads home.

A natural disaster kind of day...

Friday, September 02, 2005

La Suite. A charming brasserie located in the SOMA district. Sachiko, a friend and workmate, and I tried this one out Friday evening. There was a very good selection of seafood and cheeses. We tried a very good Australian white, d'Arenberg Marsanne-Viognier 'Hermit Crab' - slighty sweet, but crisp and great with our fish dishes. It was well-priced at $31 per bottle to boot.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

He can cook my FISH anytime. My neighbor Jerrie and I finally got to FISH in Sausalito together for dinner. The fish is fabulous, and the atmosphere VERY NOISY. But it's all in fun. You order at the counter, and the prices INCLUDE tax. Most things are $20ish. Then you try to get one of the wooded picnic-like tables around the interior. (The outside was too cold for anyone but a couple very hardy souls.) It is right on the harbor, tucked away near a bait shop. Their website features a piece on one of their Chefs, David, whose photo appears left.