Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gay Pride Parade

My kids have heard this story so often they could tell it better than I, but I'll post it here anyway.

Before I retired I traveled to San Francisco often, usually to consult at UCSF Medical Center. San Francisco is perhaps my favorite city to visit, the restaurants are among the best in the world.

For several years I would rent a car at the airport and drive into town; the hotel I liked to stay at was a half block from Union Square. I found that I usually left it parked for my entire stay, taking taxis or walking wherever I went. Then I belatedly discovered BART, and found that I could get into the city center faster and much cheaper.

One Sunday I flew in, my talk was scheduled for the next morning, and took BART to the Market St. Station, went up to street level, and this greeted my eyes:






Market street was wall-to-wall, or I suppose sidewalk-to-sidewalk, with no break in sight. I had to cross to get to my hotel, so I joined the fray, me and my roll-aboard, wearing a suit. As I tried to angle across, I was handed a bloody mary, given a paper hat, and merrily walked along. It was like getting into a river and attempting to cross against the current, except a lot more fun.

4 blocks and several minutes later I emerged, now carrying a balloon in addition. It was great fun, a 'pause for the cause', as we used to say.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Far in the Past Friday






My buddy, the cook down the street and me, back in the day, Mulege, Baja Mexico, 1976.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The dinner that went overboard

So yesterday I read a post from some Oddball that made me hungry, so I decided to make some shrimp and pork won ton soup. Off I went in search of ingredients, sometimes difficult in this town. However, this time I found the various things I thought I needed.

A trip to the aptly-named Terminal Meats yielded a quarter of a pork shoulder roast, which the butcher ground up for me. At the supermarket I found some semi-frozen shrimp, a dozen I thought would do, fresh ginger root, Serrano chilies, water chestnuts, and a small jar of black bean and garlic paste and a pack of won ton wrappers.

The farmer's market was also yesterday, the Hmong farmers from the Bitterroot had green onions and immature garlic, and some bok choy.

I first made the filling. The pork was coarsely ground, I chopped up the dozen fairly large shrimp, grated the ginger, chopped the green onions, two chilies, mashed the garlic, added some soy sauce and the black bean paste and mixed it all together. The picture is about a quarter of what it yielded.






By this time I was wondering about the amount.....I've never been good at cooking for one; no matter what my intentions it's usually enough for 4 people.

I tried the traditional method of folding the won ton wrappers around the filling, and was unsuccessful. So I just made triangles.





I ended up with 16 largish won tons. And roughly three times as much filling left over unused. I put the rest in the fridge.

The soup was easy, I used chicken stock that I had frozen, added bok choy, some tom gai kai paste that my daughter had given me, chopped up the remaining green garlic shoots and simmered, adding the won tons for the last 10 minutes.




Tonight it'll be lettuce wraps, using hopefully the rest of the filling. Gotta figure out how to cook the paste.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Iraq

There's been quite a bit in the news about the new civil war in Iraq. Much of what the US did in terms of driving the Al Qaeda forces out has been undone, and now we're puzzling over what to do. The New York Times and others have done pieces about the reactions of vets who served there. I thought I'd get my son Henry's take on it, he was there in 2007-8, an Army Ranger.

This him on the left, clearing the city of Tamiyah.






He also spent 2 deployments in Afghanistan before getting out of the military and returning to university.

His company had several losses, some friends of his.

He said he's pissed their lives were wasted, but blames it on the lack of a clear mission when they were there. He went on to say that he feels they went in, created chaos, killed a lot of people, screwed up the little infrastructure they had, then said "good luck".

Anybody got an opinion?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

17 june, hopefully the last time

Remember the sunny pictures from the last post? Here's what it looks like outside this morning:











Yep, it's snowing. June 17th. I couldn't make this up. The Saudi students living next door for the summer just walked by on their way up to class, looking like deer in the headlights.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

I'm thinking of dyeing my hair........

The oldest grandchild got a new do! And it appears that her sister approves.






A little excitement in the neighborhood last evening. I was sitting watching a movie when there was a really loud CRASH! noise outside. I live at the start of a steep hill going up to the university a half-block away, and a pizza delivery fellow had parked at the top of the hill to make a delivery. He left his car in 'park', engine running and dashed to the house. His car somehow went into neutral, the car rolled backwards, gaining speed, and plowed into my neighbor's new red prius. Totaled both cars. The poor kid was distraught, moaning that he was going to lose his job...."...and my parents just bought me this car!"

All the neighbors were out, it was like a mini-block party.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lilacs and a Rant (warning: obscenities)

First, my lilac out back has blossomed. The sweet scent will be wafting into the kitchen for at least a week.






Now for the rant. It'll be nothing new to any of you, I'm sure. It won't be the first time you've heard it from others, and it won't be the last. Next week it'll happen again, and the week after. Probably a year from now it'll be even worse.

Yesterday a young man with a gun walked into a high school in Portland Oregon and opened fire, killing a student and wounding a teacher, then was either killed or or killed himself. A few days before this a young man walked into a university in Seattle and started shooting a shotgun, killing one student and wounding two others. He was captured, a rarity in these cases.

Since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school there have been almost 40 other shootings in schools, most of them K-12. This number is only at schools, there have been far more that don't include schools....malls, public buildings, on and on. The US has the highest rate of gun deaths per capita in the 'industrialized' world, exceeded only by places like Somalia. The US rate per 100,000 is 3.9. The UK is 0.3.

When we look back the months since Sandy Hook we see a lessening of public reaction with each incident. The US was in a mild state of shock for a week after Sandy Hook, with much public debate about guns. The shooting in Seattle barely made the news outside the Pacific Northwest, and was absent from the news after 2 days.

Which brings us to the National Rifle Association (NRA). They morphed from a hunting-based organization that talked about conservation into a lobby and supporter of the gun industry in the 1970's, and have been wildly successful in stifling debate about guns and deflecting the issue from guns to a variety of other issues. They, with Supreme Court justice Anthony Scalia's help, have made the 2nd amendment into a holy-of-holy biblical commandment. There isn't a politician of national importance that will go up against them about any aspect of gun control, however minor.

A week or so ago a spokesperson for the NRA made a statement that called the Texas 'open carry' loonies "weird". This small venture into rationality was quickly reversed by the NRA with a statement that said "We support the right of any citizen to carry a gun anywhere."

One would think in any right-minded society this group would be relegated to the dust bin of history. Not in the US, here we read it and move on. No comment from any politician.

A year ago a columnist for a gun magazine wrote that "high-capacity assault rifles have no place in hunting." Under pressure from the NRA he was quickly and publicly fired. He also got death threats, as have most public officials that have the temerity to suggest any minor alteration to gun laws, like background checks.

The NRA is directly responsible for these gun deaths by quelling any discussion about gun control, in any meaningful venue.

I could go on and on; the spinning of the 2nd amendment by the Supreme Court, the political parties unwillingness or inability to address the issue, on and on. But what's the point? The motherfuckers have won. We're screwed.

Coming soon to a cafe near you: guys with assault rifles walking in and proclaiming their right to brandish guns trumps your worries about your families, and the grieving of parents and families everywhere.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Downstream

1952

Rebecca Beeson drove 18 miles each morning to work in a men's clothing store in town and came back each evening in time to fix her husband's dinner. It was a job that had paid for a second automobile, a funeral for an aunt and a new stove, but it left her depressed and stranded now, at fifty-six, as if it were a clear defeat, invisible but keenly known to her.

Her husband operated a gas station and logging supply shop in Beaver Creek, a small town on the river where they lived. They had no children, the only time she'd been pregnant the baby was stillborn, which had caused Cawley Beeson a kind of dismay from which he'd never recovered. Maybe this wasn't a place to raise children, he'd thought. He lived as though he were waiting for wounds to heal before moving on.






He hardly noticed, when she helped him in the shop on Saturday's, that someone often came by with wildflowers her, or to tell a story, to ask if she'd seen the skunk cabbage in Watson's field or the pussy willows blooming, sure signs of spring. Cawley appreciated these acts of kindness, while he finished a job for whoever it was, as a duty done that he had no way with.

Men were attracted to Rebecca in an innocent but almost hungry way, as though needing the pleasure she took in them. Because there was never a hint of anything but friendship, their attentions both pleased her and left her with a deep longing, out of which, unashamed, she lay awake at night in a self-embrace of fantasy.

Late at night, when he couldn't sleep, Cawley would roll over to her and try to speak. Sometimes he would begin to cry and sob in anger at a loss he couldn't find the words for. He cried against her nightgown and drove his fist weakly into his pillow. On these nights she held him until the pain ran it's course, and said nothing about her own yearning.

She had hoped that at some point they could go away for a while, in a deeply private place she wished to go to Europe, alone; but she could not bear the thought of his loneliness, and did not believe that in a journey together there could be any joy.

One summer evening while Cawley was in the living room reading, she sat on their bed with her face lowered to a glass bowl of dried blossoms in her lap. Twenty years of anniversary roses, flowers from her first garden, wildflowers from men who were charmed by her. She felt the tears run the length of her nose. She wished to be rid of it, and rose with the bowl and left.

In the dark yard by the side of the house she walked down to the river and stepped in, wetting her dress to the waist. She scattered the first handful on the water, the pieces landed soundlessly and tettered away. She flung the dry petals until the bowl was empty, then dipped its lip to the current to swirl it clean.

Of the flowers she threw on the water, some floated down to the log jam, and washed up on a stump that had been cut with a saw, and had a fading dark stain on it's surface. They stayed there until the first fall rain washed them away.