Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve. Wow. It's been about a month since I last posted. Don't know if I'll get time to back fill the days or not, but I'll start here for now.

My former host family from Hokkaido is here, Mama (Mrs. Kishi), Mika (Hosokawa), and Shohei (Hosokawa, 4 yrs.). They arrived on December 18th and we've been having a great week together.

We met Mika's six sixteen year old girls (English students) for lunch at the Grand Cafe. I was delighted to find that they really enjoyed this restaurant.

Then after a quick stop at Whole Foods so Anna could pick up some Christmas dinner items, Mama, Mika, Shohei & Anna traveled up to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church for Children's Mass. We met Linda there, and it was quite the scene with more children than I've seen in years milling about. The church is beautifully set in a wooded area, and behind the alter is not a wall, but 3 panels of floor to ceiling windows. The service started with a nativity play, and Mary was seen on horseback (yes! a real horse!) parading back and forth in front of the windows so all could see her traveling pregnant to Bethleham. She had the baby somewhere outside I guess, as the next scene had her and Joseph coming in the back doors and down the corridors with baby Jesus in arms. It was a warm and wonderful service with children front and center. Olivia was singing and waving to us from the children's choir. Shohei was invited to join in, but was too shy.

After the services we drove to the Silverado, and after Yalda gave us a wonderful tour of her Spa, we had our Christmas Eve dinner at The Grill at Silverado. It was really a delicious dinner. I had the coconut prawns with slivered cucumber and saifun salad. Linda had rather a start to see that many of the continously playing photos of the resort in the restaurant alcove featured Yalda as a model, with a lot of skin showing... discreet, but just enough to make a mother uncomfortable. Shohei & Olivia were in high spirits and at one point were twirling around together, kissing each others cheeks. Olivia announced that she was going to marry Shohei, and Shohei said rather firmly that he did not want to get married!

There was so much talk of Santa Claus coming down the chimney and leaving the children gifts that I thought I'd best make sure Shohei wasn't left out of this fun (I gave them my Christmas gifts earlier since they needed to judge the size for packing). So we stopped briefly on the way back and I got some chocolate chip cookies to leave for Santa as well as a stocking and some stuffers to appear in the morning from Santa Claus (see the upper left photo). Shohei left some milk and a cookie for Santa.

As you can see above, Santa took a bite of cookie, drank the milk and left Shohei a return note. We also had a great time tracking Santa at the NORAD Santa tracking site.

I'm now sleepy too, so will go to bed now. Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Cheap is good...but seawater beer? I have not tasted this, but how unusual!

"The craze for a cheap beer made out of sea water and raw malt has Japan's brewing industry hopping mad. Japan's biggest brewer Asahi said it was seeing a continuing slide in sales as more and more Japanese turned to the drink called happoshu. Asahi makes Japan's best-selling beer but in the past three months the company's operating profit has fallen more than 20%. The popularity of happoshu is hurting the sales of all Japan's big brewers. Asahi is trying to cash in on the craze by offering its own happoshu beers. And the government is flirting with the idea of a new happoshu tax to help the established brewers. According to one columnist at the Japanese website - Captain Japan - the only thing the success of happoshu proves, is that if a drink is cheap enough, it will sell, even if it tastes like medicine."

Special Thanks to Victoria Broadbent BBC World Business Report

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday! I went on a retreat "It's About Time" at Enchanted Hills in Napa. The first days I've taken just for myself since I returned from Africa in February. Some friends organized this and invited friends and friends of... so it was a close knit group, and the program was developed by a core group.

It was on 300+ acres on the side of a mountain in Napa Valley, where cell phones and the like did not work. I took the photo on the left just outside the Dining Hall. There was beauty all over. There were a lot of periods for meditation, and we all were asked to put our timepieces, cell phones, PDAs, etc. into a bag which was locked up for the entire weekend. The only clues we had for time were the sunrise & sunset, and the ring of Tibetian Bells for mealtimes and some gatherings.

At the end, we had a completion gathering, and we shared what we would take/leave on the mountain. A number of our group said to me after how inspiring my words were, and I've received a couple e-mail at home afterwards asking me to recreate what I said in writing. I will do that here.

"Lenny shared with the completion circle that he would no longer abandon his friends. Those words shot across the circle and went straight into my heart and I was stunned with the thought that I had abandoned myself. I realized that throughout the weekend I had silently thought, or verbally commented any number of times how I 'used to do' something, like knitting, singing, running... and I knew that I had been leaving pieces of my true self, those things that set me apart and made up my authentic self - those things most valuable, along the way of my life, continuing along the path without them. Those things most joyful and those playful things that make life whole and abundant were just lying there behind me. Things that I had been passionate about. I will not leave those behind any more, and what I will take back with me from the mountain is my whole self, not just that efficient, "lean, mean, time-machine". I will pick up those pieces and be whole again as I leave, my best authentic self returning to the everyday world."

My friends understood that I didn't mean I was taking off to suddenly become an opera singer or the like, but that there were things that were worth keeping integrated into myself and enjoying doing what was suitable for now, of all those past interests and passions. Seems that it touched a chord in many.

It was a magical weekend. And a very inspiring and open group of people.

Enchanted Hills

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Yes friends, I've not been blogging for awhile. This month found me catching two viruses, and it was all I could do to keep up with day to day stuff. If I get around to it I might backfill some from here...

Started the day with a brunch with Jo-Ann & Michael. We wound up checking out the AlphaDog store in Mill Valley -- $32 for a designer doggie t-shirt- wow. Ended up distracted in the wonderous Mill Valley Market found some interesting stuff... Picked up some Acai fruit and buffalo meatloaf to try.

As Michael & Jo-Ann left, I ran out the door to meet Sachiko as we decided to have some dinner at "Fish" in Sausalito. Sachiko found that "Fish" had closed for rennovations, so I suggested we go to Christophe's since she hadn't been yet. That was a hit, and we had a nice meal. We went to Cafe Trieste after that for coffee, and ended up meeting a writer (in the style of Alvin Toffler) and sailboat racer, Michael, who plyed us with lots of good zin. Told us to resist him strongly if he asked us to take him home, and said "I'm serious". Hmmm....

Needless to say, we each went home alone after enjoying the zin and "The San Francisco Medicine Ball Band". Michael suggested we could catch him most mornings at the same Cafe Trieste.

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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

MonteCristo Cafe. Decided to try the new cafe on the block, near my office. Had a Cesar with chicken, pretty display but fairly unremarkable. I wouldn't intentionally go back a second time.

What was remarkable was my 90 minute deep tissue massage with Sara. That was my evening and then zzzland.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Monday & Tuesday. I have to admit that I am writing this the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, as with posts that will follow this one above. Mostly I got caught up in editing and posting Katrina news on the ECTV site. Shocking. I might spend a whole post on it later. I was also surprised to find out how many friends and friends of friends are following my blog... heard that September was missing! So here I am.

So my 'cool' find of the day is the 'tasty soymilk and corn stew mix' by S&B that I picked up in Japantown earlier. It has English directions on back, so it's quite easy to make without a lot of my directions should any of you be interested. I made mine with wild coho salmon, purple potatoes, carrots, Italian sweet onion, and crisp niblets corn. I tend to make mine chunkier than the directions so it's more of a stew than chowder. This could probably be made from scratch, but the packaged sauce brick makes it really easy to make some delicious corn-chowder-like stew without fuss. The problem with being single, and cooking at home is some things don't downportion very well for one, and you end up eating the same thing for days... so this was dinner both Monday and Tuesday.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Let's see... Saturday was a woman's workshop in the morning, and creativity group in the afternoon. It got so creative, the last guest left at 11:30 p.m! Sunday I cleaned up after the party, cleaned up in general (wow - how exciting to blog ;P), visited my Dad and took him to a new place, The Ranch House, (a Mexican/Yucatan diner) for dinner. I brought along a gift that came in the mail from Kaoru last week, and he was SO delighted!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Two days. Thursday and Friday were pretty nose-to-the-grindstone days, but I did have Caren & Emil over for dinner on Friday night. It was fun to grill fresh wild salmon on the BBQ and serve it with Japanese-inspired dishes -- cucumber and pineapple infused tofu, unique mushroom mix rice, nimono winter squash/potatoes/carrots, and a big fruit salad w/chocolate filled cookies for dessert. Accompanied by our favorite Ridge Merlot. And some Arabic drum music!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The sun. Hold on to your hats! NOAA Space Weather Advisory said today:

"Extreme geomagnetic storms could cause problems with power systems, spacecraft operations and other high and low frequency systems like satellite navigation and communications," said Bill Murtagh, a space weather forecaster at the NOAA Space Environment Center. Aviation groups have reported moderate to severe impacts to operations over the past two days due to degraded communications."

"Although NOAA predicted a major storm, this storm was unusually strong," added Murtagh. "The coupling between the solar wind interplanetary magnetic field and Earth's magnetic field was very strong. In fact, we've only observed this intense level of coupling a handful of times over the past 10 years."

Lots of flooding, earthquakes, and disturbances today! I note patterns as the Chief Editor of the Earthchanges TV Breaking News sections. There has been a huge spike in unusual earth/weather activity in the last couple days.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Poke. My southern mother was crazy about "Poke weed"... she even talked her younger sister Nell into sending her some seeds when I was 7 or 8 years old. My mother eagerly planted them in the Pacific Northwest soil, and voila! Overnight the poke weed had grown into a tree sized shade 'tree' passing the roofline of our house along the way! Bear in mind that this green is supposed to be picked and eaten when the plant is a foot or less tall! No family in Kentucky had ever heard of one growing so high, and Mom's 'alien' plant created quite a stir in our little neighborhood. My mother tried to school me in the medicinal properties as this was one of the herbs in my great-grandmother's herbal arsenal. I found an article that sums up so well what my mother said, I'm going to copy it in whole here.

Poke-ing around in the garden
by Corinna Wood

[Editor's note: Pokeweed is a potentially toxic plant; taken in large doses, it can cause severe side effects, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Try these recipes at your own risk.]

Growing up in the Northeast, I loved playing with the purple pokeberries, painting designs on my skin. My parents allowed this, though they made it clear that I shouldn't eat the berries of this "poisonous, invasive weed." The huge poke plants were such a bane in their garden that they would actually tie a rope around the roots and use a Jeep to pull them out!

So when I moved to the South, I was surprised to hear a number of people report that their grandmothers always ate poke as a spring green. Intrigued, I discovered that poke root has traditionally been used in tiny doses as an immune stimulant. And swallowing one berry a day is an old treatment for arthritis. This powerful plant actually has a wide range of medicinal uses – but you have to treat it with respect or risk unpleasant side effects (see below).

As it turns out, there's a long history here in the mountains of using this common "weed" as a potherb. But don't make the all-too-common mistake of confusing "poke sallit" (the English word for cooked greens) with "poke salad." DON'T EAT POKE IN A SALAD! It's considered safe ONLY when boiled in three changes of water (traditionally with some pork or "fatback"). And it should be harvested for cooking greens ONLY when the plant is less than a foot tall.

I've cooked poke this way a few times. It was certainly tasty (especially with the fatback!), but I was still a bit mystified. Why all the focus on poke? This is a time of year when many wild greens are abundant – dandelion, chickweed and nettles are among my favorites. And with these, you don't need to toss out the cooking water (and a lot of nutrients with it). But I do know folks who say they feel a powerful energy from eating the poke greens.

My favorite way to use poke is to make a tincture from the root for stimulating the immune system. Herbs can rival the effectiveness of antibiotics, and they're generally much gentler on the body. Many herbalists turn to goldenseal for this purpose, but it's an endangered species. Poke, on the other hand, is a weed – the problem is not having too little of it, but too much. And for most purposes, poke is at least as good, if not better.

Pokeroot is best dug up in the fall, after the plant has died back for the winter. This is when the plant is the most medicinal and the least toxic. The next best time to dig the roots is in the early spring, when the leaves are just coming out (as long as you're sure what you're picking!).

As anyone who's ever tried to pull up a poke plant knows, getting anything but the smallest roots out of the ground is a project. They range in size from a large carrot to a construction cone. Fortunately, just one small root will make enough medicine to last you and your loved ones for years – proving once again that there's no lack of good medicine all around us.

Once you've dug up the root (and parked the Jeep), the next step – if you've decided to give pokeweed a try – is drawing out those medicinal properties. The best way to do that is to make a tincture (alcohol extract). Wash the root, chop it into small pieces, fill a jar with the plant material, and then add enough 100-proof alcohol to cover the roots. Leave it on your counter for six weeks, then strain out the roots. The resulting milky liquid is remarkably mild-looking and -tasting, considering the punch it packs.

Poke is so powerful that it's taken by the drop. Begin with one to three drops (using a dropper, of course). Wait 24 hours. If that doesn't seem to help, add one drop per day to the dosage (and that's drops, not droppersful!).

Individuals show widely varying tolerance for poke. Some people can't handle more than three or five drops per day, while others can take 25 or 50 drops with no adverse effects. The side effects of poke include mental unclarity, spaciness and out-of-body feelings. If you notice such feelings, it means you've found your tolerance level, so back off to a lower dosage. If you take way too much (such as mistaking droppersful for drops, which some people have done!), you may encounter more severe side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

When I was using poke to treat Lyme disease a number of years ago, I found that after taking 10 drops per day for several weeks, I started feeling unclear, spacy and disconnected, as if I weren't really in my body. I cut the dosage back to five drops and the side effects vanished, but the tincture was still very effective in helping resolve the Lyme disease. Remember, everyone's tolerance and needs are different.

Over the years, I've found poke to be invaluable as an herbal alternative to antibiotics when immune or lymphatic stimulation is needed. For many generations, this plant has helped people with immune issues ranging from sore throat to breast cancer. And of course, there are times when antibiotics are called for – so when in doubt, consult your doctor or herbalist.

In my community, poke tincture is a favorite for sore throats, strep throat, severe colds and respiratory infections. It's also used for infected gums, swollen lymph glands and breast cysts. Studies in Germany and the United States are even finding positive results with HIV, cancer and lymphoma. In addition, it's very effective in treating genital herpes – taking just a few drops when the tingling begins usually prevents the blister phase entirely and reduces the frequency of outbreaks.

Poke root can also be made into an oil simply by substituting oil for alcohol. Any cooking oil will work, but olive oil is my favorite because of its high resistance to rancidity. And by melting in some beeswax (which gives it a creamy consistency), the oil can be made into a balm or salve. Both the salve and the oil are also used externally to dissolve lumps, bumps, growths and tumors. And many people find them helpful when applied externally to swollen lymph glands, sore throats or breast lumps.

Pokeberries are useful, too – and not just for body paint. (This paint, by the way, is quite safe; it's only the seeds inside that are toxic, and then only when chewed.) In Appalachian folk medicine, the berries are swallowed as a treatment for arthritis and for immune stimulation – one berry (either fresh or dried) is the equivalent of one drop of root tincture.

Since the seeds are the toxic part, you just spit them out. And even if you swallow some seeds, don't worry – they're extremely difficult to break open with your teeth and will come out the other end intact. (That's how poke spreads, in fact – birds love to eat the berries, and then the seeds spread through their droppings.) Although poke proliferates by seed, the plants are perennial, and the roots will grow larger every year.

So if you find yourself cursing this "dangerous, noxious weed" in your yard or garden this spring, just remember that if you let a few plants thrive until fall, they can reward you with some very powerful medicine – not to mention beautiful purple berries that make a delightful body paint!

[Corinna Wood, the director of Red Moon Herbs, has been teaching herbal medicine for more than 10 years. She can be reached at 669-1310 or via her Web site (]

Monday, August 22, 2005

Focus. This morning I went to a "Focus" seminar with Jo-Ann and we enjoyed lunch at Paradise Vegetarian in San Rafael, an place Jo-Ann has had her eye on for awhile. Nice buffet with fresh food. Meat items as well.

Then I drove off into the sun to take Dad for his hearing aid check/adjustment and enjoyed catching up with his activities. We got some flour on the way home so he could make cake for the 'sing-along' activity tonight. I then continued on to pick up some of my favorite olive oil at The Olive Press, and meet Linda for dinner. We enjoyed lasagne at Cafe Citti, a consistently good place both on all counts, food, service and ambiance. Chatted with Michael on the way home to catch him up on the creative loop since Saturday night, and now am logging the day!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Creativity rules! I so enjoyed prepping for my friends arrival on Saturday, and the event was great! The creative juices were flowing and the possibility for bringing our dreams into material form was physically palpable. People left in shifts, there was a desire to continue our creativity salon, the last person leaving at 11:30 p.m. (the event was designed for 4-6 p.m.). There was a strong desire to keep the momentum going, so we're meeting every week! Whee!

Sunday I did clean up and catch up on household chores. Visited a new restaurant for lunch, the Bombay Garden. Quite nice Indian style buffet in San Rafael. Cheerful staff, very pleasant surroundings and good, although on the spicy side food. Warm yellow and magenta interior with intricately inlaid wooden chairs.

Friday, August 19, 2005

E & O Trading Company. Helen and I met at the E&O Trading Company for dinner. It was nice to catch up with her. Her description of the marketing world was fascinating.

Home and more prep for tomorrow! Another guest popped up, friend Michele is visitng from Yuba City.

Tomorrow should be busy!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Wednesday, Thursday. Well, work comes to mind, but I did enjoy getting together with Paul, Julianne and Jaison & friends on Wednesday evening. Thursday evening I prepped for my Saturday creativity group.... no notable restaurants -- called Anna's leftovers for mid-week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I Spy! the first sign of fall! I looked outside from my living room this evening, and what did I see? Turning leaves! Had to snap a quick pic - left. See that? Where did our summer go!

Inspired by my favorite time of night, when the colors become vivid in the light, I snapped this one -above right - from my deck looking down the shoreline path. I should insert a photo of me walking on it :-).

I enjoyed talking with my Uncle Pat in Nebraska using my Skype phone this evening. Now THAT's a cool find. Talk all you want with others so connected by internet, all over the world for free! I've had it a few months now and it's great. He reminded my my twin Aunts - Nancy & Betty - have a birthday on the 18th! Gotta call them...

Monday, August 15, 2005

Starting the dance of another week. Nothing remarkable about the workday. On the way home, however, I called Jo-Ann and invited her family over to dinner & swimming. In one hour from shopping to table, managed the following menu: Lemon & herb steamed shrimp in shell; dungeness crab w/melted butter and/or garlic-ponzu; baby organic lettuces-sunflower sprouts and spiced pecan salad with choice of cranberry orange dressing, traditional French vinegarette, or olive oil and balsamic vinegar; sun-ripened heirloom red and yellow tomatoes with fresh baby mozerella and fresh organic basil; rustic roasted garlic French bread; and for dessert, fresh farmer's market raspberries made into a kind of upside down cake -- gluten free! All accompanied by Gewürztraminer white for the adults, and organic pear juice for the kids. Six of us having fun... afterwards, even though rather late and cold, Jonathon took the kids into my pool!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

OReilly's. After a long sleep, Jo-Ann and I went to North Beach and tried a "Celitic Brunch" at an awesome Irish place. It has to be authenitic when the chef has a distinct Irish accent, and a waitress too! I had the Gammon (Canadian bacon-like Irish sweet cured ham) with poached eggs over Irish potato pancake. It came with some chopped cabbage on the side, and this freshly baked brown bread on the side that tasted very much like one of my Mom's recipes. Jo-Ann had the same thing but with Irish Smoked Salmon Boxty. The waiter thought I was Irish, when finding out that although my heritage did not include any Irish, but that it included a good dose of Norwegian, started chatting away in that language! Apparently he'd spent a couple years living there and picked up the Norse language. Fabulous place, and what atmosphere! Definitely a place to return.

We walked along Columbus Avenue enjoying the Sunday morning atmosphere, hearing old men smoking at tables speak Italian. I introduced Jo-Ann to the City Lights Bookstore, and then we went to Black Oak books across the street.

It was very foggy and chilly, so we headed off to San Jose to enjoy Santana Row, since Jo-Ann hadn't been there either. It was beautiful weather, and the right choice. We were inspired by all the creativity in the shops, but were not impressed by the pillow at Tommy Bahama's on sale for $59, reduced from $225, nothing exceptional! Provided fuel for discussion about relative values though. Found out the 1-bedroom 700sq ft condos were selling for just short of $500K...

Jonathon was cooking some fabulous Copper River Salmon as Jo-Ann and I headed back to their home for the end of 'girls' time, and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and conversation over some delish Ridge red. And, Jo-Ann's mother is going to be just fine, needs some observation time for a couple days though.

Now I'm home, blogging away! Savored this weekend!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Gravenstein Apple Fair. Today was packed with activities! First, after staying up quite late, I leapt out of bed to go for an early hair appointment. Followed immediately by picking up some things that my Dad needed, and going to his place. He was enthused about the idea of meeting our friend, Daniel, for a couple hours at the Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol. So we headed off there, stopping at our favorite Cafe Citti on the way. He enjoyed his first 'raw' food since he began treatment, one of their fresh crisp salads.

We enjoyed the fair, music and chatting with people. Daniel, the reigning juggling champion, did not repeat the feat, although he got wild applause again. I bought some East/West ceramic goblets from someone who I found lived only 5 blocks away from me on Capitol Hill in Seattle. I love happy coincidences.

I ran Dad back home then on to pick up Jo-Ann for 'girl's weekend' out. There was quite the flurry of activity, an emergency ambulance ride to the hospital for her Mom just a few minutes before I arrived, but everyone thought it was a good idea for us to continue our plans. We had planned to go to La Tabla, but found it was closed on Saturday nights (go figure), so we tried another new place, Pacific Cafe instead. It is a seafood restaurant across from the College of Marin in Kentfield, and it was really good. We'll go back again.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Perseids. I made dinner (chicken lasagne, organic baby greens with spiced pecans salad, and fresh organic strawberry shortcake) for a friend and we waited for the annual Perseid show in the sky from midnight to 3 a.m. west coast time. My house usually has a dark and clear enough sky to enjoy these from my deck. Realizing there was a lot of time between dinner and nature's skyshow, we went to see Junebug.

The sky was partly obscured by clouds, but sitting in my swiveling deck chairs with pillows and blankets, we could still enjoy a few streaking across the sky. Didn't look like the picture here, but a one-by-one effect.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Life as Usual. Two day post again... besides busy days at work, I enjoyed a new restaurant "Christopher's Cafe" in Novato on my way yesterday evening to visit with friends including Jaison. Christoper's Cafe billed itself as having home cooked meals, and they did do a very nice job with the food, and were prompt and friendly. My trip to Japan planned for September cancelled as suddenly as it showed up on the schedule. Oh well.

Today I missed seeing a friend for dinner, but I went up to the San Rafael farmers market and enjoyed a lovely walk through the various stalls with enticing wares. I sucumbed to some organic stawberries and raspberries... ended up having a quick dinner at Akira's where Takeshi make me some off-menu specials such as hosokiri and a veggie crunchy salmon skin roll.

Now that my outside house painting is complete, took a photo a few days ago of its freshly painted look with my zoom lens across the water from it. Thought the blog was ready for another photo, and not having one of Chrisopher's, this was my answer for today.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Work, work, work. That was today's adventure. Busy from the early start to late finish at the office. Got home checked in with Dad, did some paperwork for him, chatted with friends, and now, I'm blogging. I made myself a pizza from scratch, have leftovers for tomorrow. Wheee!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Back to Normal. My first normal day at work! Was nice to feel back in my routine again. I was pleasantly surprised to notice that I received an acknowledgment in my friend's newly published book, "Solar Rain". I also made a new connection in Marin in the nuclear abolition movement through my efforts to connect my friend Haruko to Dr. Caldicott. Her policy non-profit NPRI (Nuclear Policy Research Institute) has a board member residing in West Marin, and he, in the blink of an eye, sent me out a CD "Nuclear Deception" which I'll be watching soon. I just have to be in a certain mood to see those kind of things as they are too heartbreaking otherwise. The other surprise of the day was finding out I'll be going to Japan on a business trip towards the end of September to meet about global training initiatives for my company. I decided to pay my friends at Akira a visit for dinner this evening, and have been editing the ECTV site and catching up with friends on the phone otherwise.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Day to Myself. Thinking I could sleep in, I turned off the alarm function on my clock. Never mind. There was dense fog this morning, and I was awakened by the low bellow of the fog horns at sometime a bit after 5 a.m. Pt. Bonita lighthouse near the Golden Gate is the culprit. I looked out my window, and although the bay in front of my house was perfectly clear, you could see thick billowy clouds of fog all over the skyline touching the hilltops towards the open bay.

I did LOTS of laundry and straightened things up thinking of the active things some of my friends had mentioned doing today, like kayaking around Angel Island, or doing the Chicago half-marathon. I got very tired of knocking around the walls of the house by myself by about 1 p.m. and called Linda. She suggested a movie that she thought would be right up my alley - Fear and Trembling - a Japanese and French film with English subtitles about a Belgian woman's experience of corporate Japan.

It was playing at the Balboa, in the Richmond district, according to my car, just 14 minutes away. So I decided to have lunch somewhere in the Richmond and take in the film.

The Superior Palace advertised "Grand Opening" proudly on a red banner under its green canopy, so I decided to give it a try. It was superior considering a lovely prawn and tender greens rice plate was priced at $3.50, and simply delicious. It was packed with, apparently, Chinese, no caucasians in sight and no English was heard around me.

Fear and Trembling was quite hysterical and quite recommendable.

I came back over the bridge and decided to go to Whole Foods to pick up something to cook this evening, but the parking situation was hopeless, so I took it as a sign that I need to go out... I did then stop at Sloat Garden Center and picked up a pot of beautiful Melissa for my front doorstep.

Uva Trattoria & Bar. Last evening, after dropping Dad off, I connected with Linda who previously had suggested dinner in Napa since she was without Olivia and I ready to have a little celebration too. Discussing the several good places we could go, we decided on Uva since Yalda had mentioned one of Linda's former students was now managing it. Her student at St. Francis his 7 & 8th grade years, he's now the Maitre d'Harmonica at Uva, and has his own radio show. A very artistic man. We neither had been to Uva before, and it was the perfect pick. Joe is a very gregarious host to all in the restaurant, no wonder it was packed by 7! We enjoyed his suggestion, the Rib-eye beef with green peppercorns in white wine reduction. We enjoyed it, and have definitely met our meat quota for awhile with the generous serving. He introduced us to a new drink, Limoncello - wow. Served in a shot glass it was a mix of fresh lemon and rind with sugar water which had been steeped in Everclear for 3 days. I shocked Linda by copying Joe's one-gulp style. Luckily, it was not necessary to stand up for awhile, that one packs a punch! Linda said I turned red in the face soon thereafter. Well, I'm not used to drinking much beyond an occasional single glass of chardonnay with dinner, so I'm not surprised my body registered it's surprise.

Smokin' Joe Herrschaft. Linda's student is quite a versatile talent. He plays harmonica in a band, does voice-overs and has his own Radio Show on KSVY 98.3 FM "Wakin'Up w/the Blues". If you are not in the broadcast area, it can be picked up streaming off the net at the KSVY website.

He did a little Sicilian impression for us, it was great. Doesn't hurt that he's 1/4 Sicilian. I snapped a photo of the reunion at the right.

He invited us to stay for the jazz from 9:00 and we wished we could, but Miss Olivia was joining us at 7:45 and so any lingering in the bar was out.

Father's move home. The day came at last, for Dad to move back to his place. The packing took longer than anticipated, since we visited his place nearly every weekend and he'd bring back something. After filling the trunk quite full, we were on our way back to his place in Sonoma. Although we made the stay as much fun as we could, it was good to have our very own space back again. And Dad was very eager to be with his lady friends again. I helped him pick out yet more chocolates for the giving. Dad moved in the weekend before Memorial Day in May, so it's nearly 3 months.

Moves are not without their glitches. After I celebrated with Linda (above), I called to see how Dad was. He couldn't get his shaver to go live with the electricity and asked me to come back and help him. Luckily I called him only a few blocks from his house, so I turned around and made it to his place in 5 minutes. The trouble was the circuit breaking type plug-in in his bathroom, so voila! I pushed the red button, and Dad's Braun Synchro was back on-line.