Off the Top: Food Entries


January 17, 2021

Weeknote - 17 January 2021

Busy, but not overly productive week. I’ve been battling getting a replacement laptop actually functioning, so battling and not being productive. That scenario drives me absolutely up the wall. Going through the battles reminds me of how fairly seamlessly Apple does this.

Evenings have been trying to run errands, but finding stores closing quite early due to Covid and complications around the attack on the Capitol and Inauguration. This has left me rather tired, but also not sleeping well.

Insights from

I just read about Foxsy shutting from their CEO’s blog post about the company and product and his and their lessons learned, Moved on from my journey Foxsy. I was introduced to them from an investor as they were hitting an inflection point and needed help smoothing out some of the interactions, user flow model, and some language areas. The product was rather ingenious as it was a cross social platform chat service using AI to match people. Jin was in San Francisco and the rest of the team at that point and time was in Japan. It was great to read they kept going as I shifted to another project.

The glimpse inside a San Francisco start-up is rather typical from the doing everything to scrape by to keep the product going and get to the next level. I heard some of these stories when I was helping them and hearing it from Japanese guys was interesting as the story wasn’t that different from American guys, the French teams I know, nor the mixed teams from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The small companies I knew / know in Europe, Latin America, and Singapore were a bit different, but the dedication and passion isn’t.

While I hate to see Foxsy shut, I know whatever each of these people do will be fantastic. Only a very small percentage of start-ups make it through to launch, through a few years or use, and then making money to be self-sustaining, and getting the investors some profit. Here’s to whatever is next Foxsy crew!

Read

Every January I dig out the Saint Mary’s Jan Term Catalog and look through was is / was offered. When I was at St. Mary’s Jan Term was something I deeply enjoyed. St. Mary’s ran on a 4–1–4 schedule with four courses in a fall semester, one course in January, and four in spring semester. January classes typically met for 3 or 4 hours Monday through Thursday for an intensive course on a tight subject. There are usually also travel courses for Jan Term, like religious architecture in Ireland or Italy, or sailing course in the Caribbean. My first year I had a Sports Psychology course and second year was on charisma and public leaders (this was amazing). My last year I didn’t exactly get Jan Term as I was doing a full term in Oxford at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Centre.

Every year I find new intriguing courses with good reading lists and I add the reading list and often start digging into a subject of a few each year. I’ve long wondered what a full school year of one month one class would look like. The Oxbridge tutorial system is somewhat similar over two months with intensive tutorials used to fill in gaps through guided self-learning, with that guidance being deep and good.

I stumbled on this article from a couple people, ‘Rent-a-person who does nothing’ in Tokyo receives endless requests, gratitude. This concept is an utter gem! The guy in Japan is selling his service of not doing anything, other than “just being there” for a round $96 a task. People using him to walk them to a court house as quiet support. Listening to people talk through something that they don’t want others to they know to hear or to judge them on. The service of “doing nothing” is somewhat akin to renting someone in a mature relationship that is years into that calm quiet support that gives the deep relief of not being alone and some togetherness.

Watched

Modern Doctor Who is on HBO Max. My two favorite Doctors are David Tennent and Matt Smith. There were a lot of the Tennent episodes I missed and being able to fill in the gaps is wonderful. But, also being able to watch favorite Matt Smith episodes again is something I’m looking for.

Listened

I tend to listen to a lot of music that doesn’t have lyrics or English lyrics. I don’t often listen to lyrics when they are in English, even though I will sing along or sing the song with out music. But, every now and then the lyrics stand out as they are creative. Twice this week I hit this.

One instance was going back something I used to listen to a lot and listened to driving across country with my dad, it was A.J. Croce’s self titled album. The music and production quality are really good, but the lyrics also stand out as they are witty and creative.

The other was Olivia Rodrigo’s Driver License, which was in my short list of recommended new music for the week and I had it playing in the background and the chorus of “’Cause you said forever, now I drive alone past your street” that really stuck out and I scrubbed back and relisten. That was insanely well crafted lyrically as well as musically.

Food

El Charro Mexican Restaurant in Lafayette, California Closed for Good, which may be one of the odd Covid maladies I’ve run across that hurt, beside the people it has taken from us. This was my first taco. It was also the accidental spark that got my parents and I obsessed with guacamole. When I was born this wasn’t all that far from where we lived and it was a favorite of my parents. I don’t remember going here as we moved when I was about 18 months old or so. But, we always stopped here when in the Bay Area.

I went to undergrad at St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga, which is sort of next door via back roads through the hills. When my parent would come and visit we would often goo to El Carro for lunch or dinner. One of the things my parents loved was the small dish of guacamole that came with tortilla chips, as well as salsa. From the time I was a baby my parents tried to replicate this intensely flavored guacamole. We learned many different ways of making guacamole and had a few favorites that are still really good. But, it wasn’t anything like El Charro’s.

So one day we asked about the guacamole, with my parents explaining they had tried to replicate it for 20 some years when we moved away. There was a bit of confusion, but the waitress understood and went in the back to ask. He head cook came out smiling. He explained it wasn’t guacamole, but blue cheese, a little garlic, and butter all mashed together until the blue of the cheese was a green-ish spread / dip. I’ve never seen this anywhere else. The cook had said the owner knew it from Mexico and was a special treat in a small town there. Thanks to the confusion I’ve learned many different guacamole recipes, probably more than 50, but also how to riff with the basics.

Productivity

I’ve been trying to put something in a daily dump note. The book notes and idea notes are getting to be a decent habit and being able to easily search and build on an understanding is really nice to have. Obsidian has been proving to be an insanely great augmentation layer.

Talking with a couple people using Roam this week about Obsidian has been interesting as both lost network access and didn’t have access to their notes. This also got them thinking about how to exit Roam, and the lack of API and a common framework they are feeling really stuck. There is now an option to scrape Roam to pull the content into markdown files that can work with Obsidian, and it seems it will also work with block replication. Roam is slick and what the people who love slick, but don’t consider function and the basic use cases for every platform: Do I have ownership of everything I put in?; Do I have constant access?; How do I exit?

I’m thinking through these as I have been looking at Craft, an Apple OS focussed note system that is quite similar to Notion. I somewhat like Notion and its capabilities, but getting to things, feeding them, and searching when working on things (I have to go to it and perform search and moving content in and out for writing and other workflows has a lot of friction. One solution around it is an API, which isn’t fully there. Craft being more native and sync with iCloud or other would enable what is in it being found in a search. Notion for personal use is now free and Craft is pay, but only about $4 a month.

Craft wouldn’t replace anything in Obsidian, but could help with some organization systems. I use Notion most for pushing podcast and YouTube links into them and then annotate them for refinding and reusing.



December 28, 2020

Weeknote - 27 December 2020

Ahhh! Year end holiday break. This is deeply needed. Ten days of long walks, reading, writing, and perhaps some planning ahead this stretch.

The past week turned out rather well after hitting a wall, but no resolution, but others also seeing the pain and how backwards things are and working to resolve them and bring them closer too modern without repeating known problems and pains of past years so to improve work and productivity (basically what I’ve been doing the last 20+ years).

A successful Christmas was had with a good dinner, with a variation of duck leg (drumstick and thigh) rather than duck breast as I couldn’t find them easily. The Thanksgiving and Christmas meal is getting to be a five pan on four burner production that is getting really honed.

Watched & Listened

I stumbled onto the full Snarky Puppy We Like it Here in studio concert recording, which started a good deep dive into all things Snarky Puppy and related musicians for a few nights and playing albums as background for repetitive task times during work.

I found Snarky Puppy around 2015 or so when a few musician friends were sharing it and it reminded them (then me) of college and after jam sessions with really good musicians and having something that wasn’t much turn into something rather good. Snarky Puppy takes that and turns it up to 11. Their approach to music and draw for amazing musicians to play in with them is very much like Steely Dan. Their music isn’t quite fitting to any existing genre (also much like Steely Dan), but they also drift across many different musical types and backgrounds and global foci that drifts and morphs.

Food

Having extra blueberry leek and thyme reduction has been really nice with some smoked duck and extra strong German mustard.

But, extra Italian bulk sausage and an abundance of left over gluten-free stuffing with leek and Italian sausage cooked and reheated so a little crispy with a runny yolk egg on top is my favorite breakfast. A bit sad that it is now finished.

Play

I had a bit of time to move Ghost of Tsushima along a little farther. I’m getting within range of finishing, which I may do over break.

Saturday night I noticed 2K basketball was on half-off sale (or more so nabbed it and started the download. 2K often offers enjoyment and a lot of frustration (glitches galore).



December 14, 2020

Weeknotes - 29 November Through 13 December 2020

This is a triple weeknote, largely because after posting the last weeknote I started in on moving this blog and its CMS, the whole site, another site or two on the same host, and some other apps running on the same host and a stack of email addresses. It was simple and complicated at the same time, but I wrote about the site move prior when the DNS propagation finished. That post was the 2,100 post to the blog here (in its various forms) that started 20 years ago at the end of this month. That move and some other things ate time that attributes to content for here.


Thanksgiving week, that included the annual photo walk through Georgetown and making dinner with the usual duck breast and its accompanying blueberry leek thyme reduction. A lot to be thankful for with work consistency and health. Thursday morning came with a doctor’s call with all clear for tests, following quarantine after not feeling well the prior weekend. In these times it is really good to be overly cautious, but still a relief.

This weekend could have been longer by Saturday I was wiped out and started on the action part of moving this site and all the digital accretion around it to its new home. The evenings this week will hopefully be wrapping that up. This weeknote is the last change to anything on the current host before the move.


The middle week was mostly site move and related matters when not working or running a shuttle service for one or waiting for a set of negative test to come back for the shuttlee and who was quarantining with me.


This week allows for catching up on some listening and watching favorite teams, some movies, and shows.

Watched

This week’s episode of The Mandalorian (Season 2, Episode 5) was one of the best yet in my opinion. Not having watched any Akira Kurosawa, but reading a lot of reviews of The Ghost of Tsushima game that I have been really enjoying for a few months and enjoying the visual tapestry and story telling and reviews point to much of that as Kurosawa style. Mandalorian had a lot of the storylines and visual fingerprints that would also point to Kurosawa.

I also got back to watching movies and shows a bit. I think I’m in the midst of three series have partly intrigued me.

I watched Crazy Rich Asians, which I enjoyed, but it echoes a lot of other movies and story lines I spent much of the time trying to remember what it is that it was harkening back to.

Listened

A long awaited delivery of an a tweak to headphone listening arrived and I’ve been going back through some of my favorite songs to listen to so to hear different dimensions. Yosi Hoyakawa’s Bubble and Fluid are two of them. Both can be utterly stunning for sound quality, but also spacial representation.

I also went through some of the Edition Records offerings I have, particularly Daniel Herskedal and his Slow Eastbound Train album and The Roc. I listened to Alexis Ffrench Evolution album, which has some of the most breath takingly calming music I know of. I took a spin through some really dense Prince music, Peter Gabriel, and wonderful Stevie Wonder. Listening to Snarky Puppy really helped see the clarity and opening up of the space in the music. This band that is ever changing can be dense and swims in complicated patterns and being able to hear into the music more with more separation and clarity was fantastic. The last listen that really opened up and became more wonderful to me was Construction that really becomes more moving, as in a sense of drifting.

In listening to Snarky Puppy I also stumbled upon a YouTube video of drummer Larnell Lewis of Snarky Puppy and other bands listening to people play some of his complicated Snarky Puppy pieces. This was wonderful, he was so overjoyed, but also his ability to give constructive positive criticism was amazing to watch. I’ve been a fan of his playing for some time, but never seen any of his own social media contributions. I’m hooked.

Food

Last week the local market had petrale sole, which is not all that common here and I did a quick picata with corn starch and rice crumb crust cooked in olive oil and brown butter with capers and lemon. This is one of my favorite dishes. One my dad used to whip up for sand dabs or petrale sole on a Saturday night. I’m not going by a recipe, but going off what I can eat and a slightly more healthy version than just full on browned butter. It is such a quick happy meal with a little broccoli that has been thrown in the pan after the fish if flipped.

Productivity

Getting my site moved was a relatively large chore. Using a mind map and Omni Outliner to set the steps and order of the move and what was completed really helped (there are still a few things that need wrapping up, but that will come in time). One thing I thought I was going to be getting is a server in my timezone, but it is set to GMT / UMT, so my blog posts would have a local timestamp. Just adding that to my to do list.

One of the things I’m trying to do is get back in a better habit of tracking things in Obsidian. Having it be my own has been a great help and I am deeply thankful I didn’t go down the route of Roam (mostly because I own it and can shape it how I want to and need to use it). The mobile capture is still one extra step from tossing something in Drafts and that text step to dropping it in the directory where Roam sits. I have quite a few things in Drafts I need to comb back through, do the push and the clean up.

In the past week I’ve been able to pull back and recall information easily from Obsidian, which has related context. I’ve done this from mobile devices and laptop. The mobile access has been a real treat. I really need to find a good port for Delicious Library into structured Markdown for my books, particularly series like those Charles Stross has as keep track of what I’ve read, what I have, and what is coming up.



November 15, 2020

Weeknote - 15 November 2020

Happy 260th day of March in the Year of Covid.

The wonders of smell. Not from the lack of smell from Covid–19, but the muted smells from wearing a mask. Losing a sense seems like a great tragedy, be it hearing or sight. But the senses don’t stop there, as we have touch - which seems like it would be detrimental to lose yet that is what happens when someone becomes paralyzed. Taste, I’m realizing is an odd one, as it is so heavily intertwingled with smell that it isn’t fully clear what would be lost.

It is the muted smells and the temporary loss of smells that has me in awe from wearing masks (other than it is God’s way of reminding you that you didn’t brush your teeth). Taking off one’s mask when outside is something magical. The muted sense of smell from wearing a mask, becomes magical when taking it down or taking it off getting a solid direct nose full of the wonderful world around. The background scents that go un-fully noticed on walks of trees, freshly wet pavement, a car engine cooling, all the different flowers and plants, the creek that has filled or when it is drier than usual, fires in fireplaces, and wafts of food being prepared. Taking off one’s mask when nobody is around, or just lowering it is like a firework show finale with all the scents hitting full saturation at once. It is a bit magical. Yet, within a few minutes the smells fade into the background and seem difficult to pull out of the air unless masked again, which does happen. The one scent I don’t find all that magical is vehicle exhaust, which I’m finding is one smell that really lasts. I’ve never noticed it before Covid times, but it is sure present now.

Thanks to Covid–19 and one of its traits of infection can be the loss of scent, one of the first things I do each day after waking is smell things. I smell the back of my hands, fingers, and wrist and then wash my face and hands and smell. Every morning I am relieved that I can smell.

Related, I restumbled upon Monocle’s “The secret to putting on perfume” video that focusses on scent and the use of it as a personal layer of attire, as in scenting for the occasion or work role or environment.

Watched

I finished up Season 3 of The Crown on Netflix so I’m good to start Season 4. I’m utterly impressed with the story telling and film work. The stories don’t seem to fully hew to what I remember reading and hearing retold, but I’m fine with that. I’ve really liked the crafting and developing of characters.

This week I also have been watching some recent and older Monocle Videos, which some seem to be fully Monocle productions and some are Gestalten produced with Monocle. What strikes me is how well they are made as the color grading, edits, cuts, transitions, and tempo are all well done, but they also all are similar going back years to older Monocle videos.

I was good to watch a Netherlands win today over BIH, as they have been a bit lifeless scoring under the new coach. There may be hope.

Listened

I found the 1998 Grace Jones album Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions, which has an 8 minute version of “Slave to the Rhythm”, which is a Hot Blooded Version mix. This song brings back a lot of memories of college, nights out in San Francisco, living in England, and wandering Paris. The odd thing is I didn’t own Island Life the album the original version was on, nor have it on mix tapes. It was ambient life sound track. I have some music that I owned and had on tape and I can tell you the shoes, socks, coat, and places quite vividly when I hear that music. Slave to the Rhythm always seemed to be background soundtrack to some wonderful times and this 8 minute version, which is largely instrumental fills to get to 8 minutes is the perfect background for running errands after the sun has gone down.

Food

This weekend’s grocery errands had a bit of focus on Thanksgiving, as far as sorting out what is stocked and where. With my county back down to Level 1 Covid reopening stores are down to 25% capacity and counting the number of customers in the store and lines starting again.

The weather turned a little bit cooler so made a pot of chili (beef and black bean) that was quite dense, but also really good. My son went through two bowls and it was gone in 3.5 bowls.

Play

A couple days after work I took some time to play through a bit more of Ghosts of Tsushima. I am still amazed withe the scenery and I’m looking forward to being done and just wandering the open map.

Productivity

I’ve been reworking how I’m going to handle blogfodder in Obsidian notes, which start as a link to a piece from someone or some other source. I have been keeping a list in notes, but that was one of the things that I had reworked and been keeping it in an outline, just a tag one note files, and a link on the source in Pinboard. I started a blog fodder note file that links to the source, person, and a note page for what could follow. These may turn into mid-week posts as the notes seems to be turning into 50% to 75% done responses.



November 9, 2020

Weeknote - 8 November 2020

Happy 253rd day of March in the Year of Covid.

Work week was busy. Again not a lot of extra time for reading or moving this site. The election and the week of counting all the votes ate attention. One of my favorite clips from the week was of this Detroit pastor talking about protecting counting the vote and the impact of Black Americans involvement in the process with the great line, “we’ve gone from picking cotton to picking presidents”. I love a good turn of phrase, and this is a gem.

After four years not not believing what I was seeing and hearing coming out of the White House, change has come with Joe Biden being announced as the President-Elect of the United States with Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect. Hopefully this we be a turn toward calm, getting ahead of Covid by following science and medicine, and getting the economy and environmental needs back in focus. It is so good to hear a President talking about being a President of “all the people” again.

Watched

The Atlantic’s “25 Feel-Good Films You’ll Want to Watch Again—and Again” list has been pointed to as a list of comforting movies to get through the current week. Some of my favorites on on there, like: Metropolitan (Whit Stillman movie which is one of my favorite movies, but not on my top 5 and I may need to rethink that or make my top 5 my top 10 - Barcelona I find to also really enjoy but isn’t quite as chatty and the dialog in Metropolitan is brilliant), Before Sunset (I really like Before Sunrise more, but after a couple watchings Before Sunset has grown on me and I still have the last of the trilogy to watch), High Fidelity (I really liked the book more, but I’m a big John Cusack fan thanks to Sure Thing that had friends as extras in it, yet when I think of the movie as separate from the book I like the movie a lot), Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh’s edition and the whole series I find to be fun), Ponyo (is still on my watch list and likely my next up of Miyazaki’s films, but I’m thinking of this as most any of Miyazaki’s films as most of them exude comfort, kindness, and a sense of peace in turbulent times). Two the list but I haven’t watched, but one I have it in this category is Julie & Julia, the other is Inside Man that I really would like to watch for more than just a few minutes at a time. One that I would add that isn’t on the list is Local Hero, which I have watched numerous times after watching it in the theater twice when it came out. I likely have seen Local Hero more than 15 times, and possibly more than 20, but there is always something new that surfaces and some missed humor or something in the background that is wort paying attention to.

I have a feeling by week’s end I may have watched one or two of these again, or for the first time… Well, I did watch Before Sunset again, which I liked much more this time. I also watched some of the additional content from the Criterion Collection edition.

I started in on the newest episodes of The Mandelorian with my son. My son has watched Clone Wars since the last series ended and was much more attuned to back story.

Listened

I restumbled onto the work of Yosi Horikawa, which the genre normally isn’t fully in my interests, but I found I really enjoy Fluid and Longing off his newest album, Spaces. I have had Bubbles in playlists from audio testing and sampling playlists, but back listening to it more closely as music not analytical sampling of equipment.

Also out this week is Construction’s newest, "We’re Great Thanks for Asking, which I really like. So far my favorite song is “Never Fail”, which is video of it and filmed in Venice (pre-Covid).

Food

A couple weeks back I shifted breakfast to smoothies from a fresh fruit and yoghurt stretch, which has replaced a black bean and mushroom bowl with egg on top, which replaced a long stretch of huevos verde with black beans. This was sparked by sorting out a working blender. The mix has settled into frozen banana, ginger root, turmeric root, a little under a cup or probiotic yoghurt drink, fresh orange juice, pineapple, and berries. This ends up being about 16 ounces and keeps me going to mid-afternoon.

The weekend, due to errands, turned into takeout, and finally did pick-up from a favorite restaurant, La Piquette, with a well packaged frisée salad with lardons and poached egg (normally a salad Lyonnaise) is one of my favorites and makes me happy. Also tried their cassoulet, which was stunning. I have had some poor to horrible cassoulets over the past few years and this put my faith back into cassoulets as amazing and really good comfort food.



October 19, 2020

Weeknote - 18 October 2020

Okay, that week was the prior week’s weeknote. Now I’m trying to capture two weeks in one. The prior week was rather busy and the weekend full too.

The morning coffee walk, this week turned a bit wet and chilly. I may need to change from wearing shorts for my this trek to get me out my door and a bit of exercise to start the day. Seasons and other temporal changes of worldly transitions have really flown past this year with little acknowledgement. The trees are just starting to turn in their autumnal color pageant, but it seems like they were just bare and bright green sprouts coming out.

I got a note this week from my webhost, which had been bought quite a while ago by GoDaddy and they finally said they are transitioning and my host is going away. I know a lot of people who work at GoDaddy and the leadership and inhumane leadership problems are gone. But, they are planning on moving from a hosting plan and platform I love that fits what I want to keep going (this site) and some small experimental spaces playing with Python, NodeJS small services, and a little Ruby and moving to a service that really isn’t clear about what it does, nor what it offers, nor pricing, nor service, and it is only based in the UK. With Brexit it is deeply unclear what is going on in the UK with regulation and anything and that is one of the last places I would want to have anything hosted.

So, some of my time will be focussed in the next couple or few weeks transitioning elsewhere. I think I know where, which is a hosting platform from former founders and employees of my current host. They have similar offerings, but I’m needing to sort out what these changes will entail for some of the custom pieces I have and dealing with email.

I was in the midst of starting to plan an upgrade to the underlying code of the site to bring it to a modern version of PHP. This is on hold until I get the site moved.

Read

There wasn’t a lot of reading time this week. But, I sort of parked An Absolutely Remarkable Thing for now as the micro-fame discussions were something that was causing a lot of self reflection around similar. I picked up John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and just a few pages in I’m happy with the swap as John Green’s writing voice is one I find comfort in.

I’m also reading / skimming back through some Richard Feynman as some friends have stumbled on to it and has lead to interesting discussions. I read Six Easy Pieces around 2003 or so after writing the draft of Model of Attraction and as I fleshed it out and it turned into Complexity / Social Lenses there is a strong underpinning in physics through Feynman’s introduction, followed by discussions with good depth in physics and quantum underpinnings.

Watched

The Pete Souza documentary, The Way I See It about his time as White House photographer for Reagan and Obama. It was completely wonderful and a solid reminder of what a great leader does through understanding things deeply and supporting all others through leading with empathy.

Listened

Tigran Hamasyan is a musician I stumbled upon through a “what is this” explainer on YouTube, which lead to a mini deep dive. The two videos that had been deeply intrigued and really enjoying his music are IMPOSSIBLE Time Signature or 4/4? Tigran Hamasyan Explained and The Rhythms of Tigran Hamasyan on David Bruce’s channel, which I have enjoyed and stumbled on before. The cross over and different mental model using math transformations and mapping patterns through size relevance patterns that are adaptive is really intriguing.

Food

I don’t understand why sole, particularly Dover or Petrale, is so hard to find on the East Coast. I swear they were pretty much a year round fish growing up on the West Coast. This week I stumbled on a decent sale on Dover Sole so made a quick fry in virgin olive oil and brown butter, with a dry coating of corn starch, rice crumbles, sea salt, and black pepper then finishing with lemon and quick fried capers and pickled capers. This was a good Sunday brunch to say the least.

Productivity

In this transition from light too mid-term notes in NValt to Obsidian for better organization and cross-linking and an app that actually works (NValt stopped working spectacularly). One of the things I was peeved about was the tagging I had done in NValt. But, Brett Terpstra knows tagging well and tucked the tags in the user interface of NValt into the tag field in Apple’s file metadata. The one that I’m really wanting to get organized is my blogfodder tag, which is really rough drafts of posts, or collections of notes no a subject.



May 17, 2020

Week Note 4 - 17 May 2020

Another really busy work week where I set work aside for a few hours then back at it, which means reading and other things were down a bit. It is the last full (5 day) work week (not that work stops at 8 hours or 5 days) until September. Deeply fortunate and grateful for the work and challenges on that front, which are things I find deeply fun and get my brain lighting up. I’ve been joking that I’ve been trying to sort out 6 day work week with 3 day weekends or 7 days workweek and 4 day weekend.

Where I am in Maryland, the county is still shut, which I’m mostly fine with. Quick trips to the store aren’t going to change from the hour to 90 minutes back to 15 to 25 treks they were. I am looking forward to getting back to my favorite bookstores and having a couple favorite restaurants open back up in some form.

Read

Some pre-ordered books and books ordered a while back from local bookstores arrived this week. I’m trying to sort out what follows Agency as my fiction read, but likely going to be finishing Charlie Stross’ Empire Games. I know have Chris Pavone’s The Paris Diversion at hand, which likely could be a good romp of a read.

The long awaited Steven Johnson Enemy of All Mankind arrived and I haven’t had even a preliminary scan of it yet. Robert Reich’s The Common Good also arrived after a good wait. I’m thinking extra weekend day (if I use it that way in coming weeks) could be good to get some reading done.

Watched

Early in the week I stumbled onto Coast Modern on Amazon Prime, which is about modern design on the Pacific Coast. Some of the architecture reminded me of homes around Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles that intrigued me when I was a kid. The modern and cutting edge design had shifted into some of the more mainstream vernacular by the time I was a kid and evoked a lot of memories and had me realize some of the seeds for domestic design that feels “normal to me”.

I rented Little Women and finally watched it this weekend. I was really impressed with most everything about the production. I had never read Little Women, nor seen it on screen or stage before. But, a lot of friends have long used the characters as short hand when discussing others. The characters now have resonance, but also set in a really wonderfully filmed movie.

This weekend we finally watched Prince George’s County: In the Water on Showtime on Showtime and have been waiting for this for months. There is a lot of lore and solid history with PG County basketball. Walking into a lot of the gyms and rec centers the trophies and familiar names are impressive, but so is the coaching and the level of play. If you want to know if you can ball as a teen on up, that is a good place to learn that and learn to play well in and against a broad array of styles of offenses and defenses.

Listened

Yet another Postlight gem! One of the few must listens each week for me is Track Changes with Paul Ford and Rich Ziade, I though last week I missed and it drifted into this week. tk!

It was great to have Exponents pop-up in my podcast feeds this week and be a good listen for a Friday evening wind down and dinner prep.

Food

My morning routine has been shifted a bit as with the Covid lockdowns my coffee walk in the morning hasn’t been something I can do, before the work day starts. The coffee places are now back open for pick-up, but starting too late to get my work day going. I have been going with Ceremony, which is my favorite brew at home option, particularly Thesis. I’ve picked up beans on sale and a local grocery is back stocking it again, so I’m not doing the delivery route.

I’ve been sticking with my breakfast, which started a couple years ago as heuevos verde, with corn tortilla, black bean refried, then then brown garlic and add fresh spinach and a pinch of salt to cook down, then top with sunny side up covered eggs, and top with salsa verde. That morphed into making my own black bean smash. To now it is a black beans cooked in a Canadian bacon (loin, not reconstituted pork bits), garlic, mushrooms (shiitake or brown button), fresh garlic, and grate in fresh turmeric. Then add some large spoonfuls of canned (not drained and unsalted) black beans to cook down and put in a bowl. Then sunny side up covered runny egg on top. In about 10 minutes it is great comfort that with coffee will get me into afternoon just fine.

Productivity

My usual routine was get up, check late night messages and email, grab coffee and eat, and map out the day while colleagues are driving to work. Now they don’t have a commute and that planning time on paper or in an app has drifted to the winds a bit.

My scratch paper sort of has some framing and occasionally I get to my journal to map a FGL for the day: Something to Focus on; Something Grateful for; and something to Let go of. Then right out a few things that need to get done. Then check it a few times a day. This week I realized I’m only getting to that once a week at best these days.

The days and weeks shift focus and priority, but longer work goals remain, as well as some of the longer priorities that will take effort over a long stretch to make a lot of things run much more smoothly.

One of the great things about working in tech and optimizing toolsets and patterns, is things change rapidly. What was a really good practice 12 months back is now depricated, or a more secure or computationally efficient way is now the norm. Staying up with this tools, shifts in tools, vendors adding new functionality or tool, and vendors going out of business or selling to another company is all a large task in and of it self (but also part of the fun), but also part of the big challenge.



May 3, 2020

Week Note 2 - 3 May 2020

This week, like many in the life and times of Covid–19 pandemic, was a week of three Tuesday’s bookended by a Monday (a day I try to get back into the swing of things (unless it is filled with meetings)) and Friday. Tuesdays are often when I did into the meat of things I’m trying to get things accomplished for the week. But, while I’m used to working remote (15 years mostly working that way) coordinating with a corporation just gone through a large merger, is a bit more unusual (not bad, just needing different adaptions). I also am finding I really miss my monthly week with the team in Connecticut and time in Brooklyn to work though ideas in person. I’m also craving large workspaces with a lot of walls and whiteboards.

This week flew by yet again (not a good thing when feeling there is a lot that needs to be done) and trying to use weekend time to decompress, think, recalibrate, and meditate on solutions.

Also finding the simple errands that were a 30 minute walk shop and return or drive for a 45 minute shop and return are now 60 to 90+ minutes. Much standing and waiting in 6 foot apart lines, mask in the up and locked positions, to get into stores. Trying to get get tasks done while waiting in line, like clearing email, reading favorite daily items, organizing things for the week note, editing notes (downside is Dropbox breaking sync’ed folders makes this (and a whole lot of other things) impossible (reminds me I need to fix this when not standing in line to get eggs and fruit, but at a home).

I added Play to my template as that fills in for watching, and is often my decompression, as well as discovery mode, which out of guilt of “play” from childhood I don’t often embrace.

Read

Matt Mullenweg posted his Distributed Work’s Five Levels of Autonomy, which is quite good.

As part of this week’s 99 Percent - The Smell of Concrete After Rain as part of remembrance of Michael Sorkin (which was really good) it surfaced Sorkin’s Two Hundred Fifty Things an Architect Should Know, which I’m really enjoying.

My books to finish or read more from last week didn’t get touched much this week, but may today. It was a busy week.

I did find a good piece in Vanity Fair about Regan being shot from a young CNN’s perspective and how that was the start of a viable cable news medium, in their piece “Shots Fired. Hilton Hotel”: How CNN’s Raw, Unfolding Reagan Coverage Heralded the Nonstop News Cycle.

The NY Times piece, In Race for a Coronavirus Vaccine, an Oxford Group Leaps Ahead offered some good insights on structure, innovations, and challenges for a vaccine in a timely manner.

Monocle’s May edition and the 2019 The Entrepreneurs edition my time between time reading this week. Stepping away from online news and having Monocle is my guilty pleasure that doesn’t come with notification and alerts popping up (but the pages don’t offer the time with you touch the top of the page, no matter how long or hard you press).

I really liked this NY Times piece - This Florida Student Was Accepted at All 8 Ivy League Schools, which is an all too rare “Florida man” type story.

JTBD

Jim Kalbach’s The Job’s to be Done Playbook arrived this week in physical form (digi version did this a bit before, but I hadn’t had time to get to it) and I did a quick skim and read the early bits. I am really looking forward to this.

JTBD has played a common role in a lot of my focus over the last 10 to 12+ years. Enterprise work environments make a lot more sense when trying to understand problems and gaps through using the JTBD lens and framing solutions is so much easier as well. I’ve never been a full convert, but use it here and there (mostly because JTBD isn’t a full frame for understanding, but is good paired with other insight tools and methods, it by doesn’t get one far, but it opens paths for insights). Or I should say I wasn’t a full convert, as a little over a year ago I paired to do an internal work shop on work patterns, different social scales of work, tool types teams need for work, and the different tools at different scales and what type of interactions and work can be done at those scales to help set clarity for what the problems are, what are the gaps, where are tools types missing, where are wrong tools to the need being used and making utter messes (the same sort of enterprise workshop I’ve done for 10 to 15 years) using my social / complexity lenses. But, this workshop I paid with an internal designer lead who brought deep JTBD background and created a survey that mixed JTBD and a few of the complexity lenses around how teams work and interacting and working at different social scales. The outcome was insanely good that provided solid insight for what is needed, where there are issues and problems that decision makers needed to see openly and clearly to take the correct steps.

A good friend and occasional colleague has long pushed the pairing of JTBD and the complexity lenses, particularly to use as a survey and entry to capturing and showing gaps and needs. I’m a huge fan of Kalbach’s work, writing, and insights.

So, yes. I’m really looking forward to this book to putty in some of the gaps I may have.

Watched

This week was mostly a YouTube week, other than starting in on the Michael Jordan biography series running on ESPN.

I stumbled onto Explaining the Pandemic to My Past Self by Julie Nolke, which was utterly brilliant and funny. That had me checking out her other offerings.

But, YouTube being YouTube watching Nolke’s pieces I was recommended Charlie Berens’ IKEA Husbands and down a rabbit hole created by Charlie Berens I went for my distractions. I love IKEA and needing to get there once lockdown lifts to finish something I started in early March with Billy (Billy is my buddy, but so is donating) and 12 years on an Ektorp, may just be a bit too long.

Listened

On the podcast front two friends I don’t get to run into nor talk to enough in recent years (one I haven’t talked to in quite a while) started a new podcast Finding Our Way, which is Jesse James Garrett and Peter Merholz talking about design, user experience, and leadership. I stumbled into this late in the week and listened on Saturday and I’m now looking forward to every session. I’m really happy they have a real website for it with a transcript, which seems like it should be the basic for a podcast these days, but oddly it isn’t (also for newsletters to have a real web home the kludgy Webmonkey hack, isn’t done well enough to really count).

I stumbled back into Prince’s New Power Generation, One Night Alone… The Aftershow: It Ain’t Over! after a couple weeks not listening and found it is as magical as always.

Food

This was a week of putting off grocery runs, as trying to work through some of what I have. But, also my usually stores have been out of what I’ve normally been seeking. There is a local egg farmer that a local store carries that have amazing yolks (the color of the shell doesn’t mean anything, but the color of the yolk tells you a lot). But, Saturday was restock day and things were in stock (even found brown rice) and good lentils (I have some asafoetida hing powder I’ve been wanting to put to good use). I also found one of the brands of gluten free flour as well as pancake mix I like, so things are good-ish.

I did make a fresh garlic and anchovy paste as a base for a quick lunch spaghetti (corn and brown rice pasta) with pea pasta bowl with Parmesan and butter / olive oil light sauce. I may want to come back to this one again. Using good jarred (pink) anchovies that aren’t overly pungent seems to be essential.

Play

I’ve been playing MLB The Show as my post work decompression for about 90 minutes each day (one thing I like and appreciate with sports is building teams and I’m playing franchise mode with this year’s Pittsburgh Pirates and did some gutting of the team (not quite intentionally) but building on contact (hits) and speed, which in current MLB is undervalued so inexpensive. I’m also focussing on decent starting pitching that can get through 5 to 7 innings, then use a series of pitchers to get through the remainder of the game pitching an inning each. The salary budget is in the $60 to $75 million range for players and I spent heavily on coaching. It is working, as I’m a week from the All Star break and 6 games up in first place.

I took advantage of a 50% off sale and picked up Death Stranding, which is a bit dark (something I normally stay away from), but the graphics, story, and AR interfaces are good. I normally keep to sports games (or sims) to time constrain play (or help reduce over play - playing a far longer stretch than intended as I did with Sim City on my birthday in an empty house in 1993 and wondering why the sun was coming up).

Productivity

This weeks productivity insights and practices took a backseat to frustrations with my daytime lack of good tools for productivity, particularly when One Note decides it won’t include anything in search from 2020. My brain dumps and notes live there and lacking basic organization, refinding, and productivity tools on Windows side (particularly that run locally) that there are on the Mac side of the world, I’ve been down that road battling.

I sort of treat OneNote as I do DevonThink as my catch all and lean on search heavily and organize later approach, which is a model that works really well with good to great search (something DevonThing is aces with, but OneNote is just okay with as its search is a blunt approach and not finesse approach).



April 27, 2020

Weeknote # 1 - 26 April 2020

This is my first weeknote, which by the name I am committing to posting weekly. I’m not sure how this will work as aiming for daily writing to set a habit is far more anchoring something in place that a something new with a weekly cadence.

I’ve long been a fan of friend’s and acquaintances weeknotes as it is a way to keep up with what they are reading, watching, listening to, writing, and thinking. I deeply appreciate other’s sharing their interests and likes and after many years planning to do similar I am finally doing this. I am also doing this for my own consumption and tracking.

I have a template setup with general categories / headings in TextExpander and each week I’m planning on opening a new markdown file in iA Writer and filling it in as I go. The starter headings are: Read; Watched; Listened; Food; and Productivity. This is largely what I care about from others, but also things I’m continually tracking down. I regularly tuck things into my Pinboard and tag links of interest with “linkfodder” and podcasts with “podfodder”, but also things I think I may want to write-up and have more of a fleshed out response to as “blogfodder” (those rarely actually get done, mostly due to being busy).

This first weeknote I’m catching up on the past few weeks a bit.

Read

I’m still trying to get through the last few chapters of William Gibson’s Agency, which I have been deeply enjoying (for quite some time, as it arrived when it came out and I started in then, but work and other life slowed progress). I always have a few books going at once and Violet Moller’s The Map of Knowledge has been a wonderful slow read full of thinking and reworking some back history on knowledge and understandings I have that were set in place in undergrad when studying at Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford (now changed a bit since Middlebury took over, not a bad thing, just different) and the shift of pockets of knowledge and learning from the Middle East / Arabian / Northeast Africa areas and some of that shift to Europe after Constantinople fell in the Spring of 1453.

Supporting my favorite local bookstore, Politics and Prose I ordered Humo Ludens by Johan Huizinga for delivery. I have just tucked into that, which I have in a few readers and collected contributions to the value of play in understanding work as well as the world around us. Having the full text (only 213 pages) I can finally read as a whole rather than a gutting or selected reading approach.

Being a fan of Kenya Hara’s work and writing (Designing Design is a favorite of mine) I picked up a sale copy of Designing Japan and the preface and first few pages really has me looking forward with some quiet time with the book.

Watched

Last weekend, on recommendation of a colleague (and has been mentioned in other’s weeknotes as well) I watched Devs that was on Hulu / FX. I nearly gave up on it as it is a bit dark and gruesome, but stuck with it and it has turned into a show I’m thinking somewhat deeply about a week later. The inclusion of theoretical physics / science got me really hooked. Sorting out what character was the focal view from wasn’t clear for quite a few episodes, but understanding that helped frame sorting through some of the ambiguities. But, it also had me digging out framing resources on a few of the theoretical physics I’ve never fully anchored in my head, and don’t really have folks I’m talking to regularly to talk through thing around this.

The late summer and fall of 2018 when I was digging for work / projects I started in on the corpus of Bon Appetit on YouTube (along with a few other channels). During this time of lockdown and remote work, this crew of cooks / chefs has been highly entertaining with what they are sharing.

Listened

I’ll address podcasts in later weeknotes, but I’m consuming them at a slower rate than I was prior to covid lockdown (mostly due to my morning listening I’m spending some of that time trying to pull focus on what I need to so that day for work and focus has been a bit more fragile).

Music, well music to help focus to get work done has been something I’ve been working to get sorted as my usual go to playlists haven’t really been doing the trick.

I have cut back my use of Apple Music streaming listening as a few months back I picked up a discounted set of months from Tidal and the Master quality with MQA decoding (or partial decoding) has been a real find and source of enjoyment for headphone or in ear monitors (IEMs). I’m still on trial with Amazon’s Music HD (which their Ultra HD, is similar, but not quite the quality of Tidal yet can still hear details of well recorded playing and hear the room) and trying to sort what I may do between the two services.

This past week I found Hans Zimmer’s soundtracks have been good fodder for focus listening that, for me, can fade into the background a bit yet still drive energy and focus for work forward. The “Interstellar”, “Inception”, and “Batman Begins” soundtracks had multiple plays on days without many meetings to work through some explainers I’m working on to shorten getting to understanding with people we’re trying to onboard into a complicated system nested in a world of complexities.

Food

Spring foods (or one’s that really have me loving spring) are fading as spring onions (not green onions) were no longer in the farm fresh section of the grocery store. I am on my last bundle of them and using the last of them in Canadian bacon, garlic, shitake mushroom, spring onion, asparagus, and feta omelettes is planned. Also putting them in the black bean, Canadian bacon, mushroom, garlic, fresh grated tumeric breakfast bowl with soft fried eggs during the week may finish them before they go bad.

Productivity

Over the last year or two I stumbled onto Ali Abdaal particularly Ali’s YouTube Channel and he covers a lot of productivity tools and focus. Ali shares his study techniques he picked up studying for medical exams at University of Cambridge where he studied and now for medical exams as a junior doctor near Cambridge. Ali share a lot of how to study insights and deep dives, which are mostly applied practical organization and productivity practices

Through Ali’s work I re-stumbled upon Tiago Forte and his work, which many of my long time practices (when I am in them deeply) are quite similar. A project / product I was helping about 10 years ago was trying to bring Tiago on to it as well and I started looking into his work and what he was sharing.

Closing

Well, this wraps a first weeknote. Let’s see if it there is one next week.

Be well. Stay safe. Peace be with you.



January 3, 2004

Hearts and Cheese Cubes

There are two things I have been enjoying putting in salads of late, Parano cheese (a Dutch cheese with a parmesan taste, but a dense smooth gouda texture) and artichoke bottoms. The artichoke bottoms, a.k.a. hearts, are hard to find as they have no leaves. I have found I really prefer the ones from Trader Joe's in a jar to others, which come in a can. If the canned variety is all that is available, try to find them at Whole Foods. I am sorry, but I do not have the brands imprinted in my mind.

Just thought to share, you may go read something else now.



December 28, 2003

Holiday adventures

These past few days were very good and trying. On the good front, it was a family holiday spent with family and friends. It was also a foodfest. Tuesday was pork chops with sweet onion, apples, and cumin with a side of cauliflower au gratin; Wednesday was crab quiche and linguini in a herb garlic clam sauce; Christmas was rack of herb rack of lamb (from Trader Joes), popovers, garlic mashed potatoes, haricot vert, asparagus with toasted sesame seeds, salad with Parano cheese, tomato, and artichoke hearts, with dark chocolate truffles for desert.

The foodfest more or less ended there as I was weary of cooking (a first for me) and coming down with a cold. My mom, however needed more attention as some ailment caught her and gave her 36 hours in the hospital. She was released this morning and is doing much better now that her fluids and minerals and salts are largely back to normal, thankfully.

The gift giving went well all around I believe. It was good to have my parents here for Will's first Christmas. Right now I really need a rest.



June 16, 2003

Sitting on the porch

We finally picked up some furniture for our sun porch this weekend (more accurately, Joy picked up). This evening we sat in the screen porch and looked out into the yard smelling Magnolia tree blossoms and looking at a rose blossom on a rose plant we did not know we had (we have a great variety of plants that keep color in the yard 9 to 10 months of the year). I brought my dinner outside and ate and took it all in. A little black beans with Sambhar (can be purchased from Terrapin Station Herb Farm topped with cheddar eaten with corn chips was perfect for the cool grey evening listening to the breeze blow through the trees and bushes.



March 3, 2003

DC's Ten Penh

Joy and I went to Ten Penh for dinner in DC to celebrate her birthday. TP is an Asian fusion restaurant with good sized portions and very good food. I got pork and shrimp lumpia with three dipping sauces, which has very good. My entre was Sea Scollops over succotash with Chinese sausage. Joy had duck in wraps with plum sauce and red curry shrimp for her main course. We also shared fluffy wasabi mashed potatoes. It was a good meal and we realized we rarely eat downtown and think we may do it a little more.



March 2, 2003

Stalking the Java Bean

The Washington Post offers Stalking the Bean (or how one Washington learns about coffee the other Washington already knew). Mmmm coffee...



February 15, 2003

Mahi Mahi with fresh pineapple salsa

This morning I ran some errands to get out of the house before the heavy snow started (never really had heavy snow today). I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up items for dinner tonight and tomorrow night.

This evening I made seared mahi mahi with a fresh homemade tomato, pineapple, and roasted Anaheim chili salsa and a dollop of fresh made guacamole with a side of baby spinach. I was very happy with the results of the mahi mahi as I had not made it or the fresh salsa since I left San Francisco.

The salsa is made with two seeded and diced tomatoes, two green onions chopped, about one cup of thinly sliced fresh pineapple, the juice of one lemon or lime, one and a half tablespoons of fresh roughly cut cilantro, and one roasted and skinned and seeded anaheim chili and salt to taste. Mix ingredients in a bowl and mix and blend with your hands, gently squeezing the ingredients to mix the juices.

To make the mahi mahi warm a pan on the stove an cut the mahi mahi into third pound pieces. Once the pan is warm add olive oil and heat it until until it lightly splatters when a drop of water is added (this should be long before the oil smokes). Add the fish to the pan to sear one side and spoon over a large spoon of the salsa over the fish. Cover the pan to help steam the fish. This should cook three to four minutes. Uncover the pan and brush off the salsa and turn the fish with tongs to the opposite side and spoon salsa over the previously seared side. Cover the pan and cook for two to three more minutes. Serve with more salsa spooned over top and a dollop of guacamole on the side.



Still missing a French Bisto in Bethesda

We went to Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda for lunch today as we had an itch for Bistro food on this lightly snowy day. The food was good, but I would not call it French. The restaraunt looks like it should be sitting in the Latin Quarter in Paris and the fresh baguette is warm and wonderful, but it seemed to stop there. Joy and I really wanted French Onion soup (Gratinee des Halles). We ordered the a bowl each. Have you ever wished there was much more cheese on your Gratinee? Well MAG gives it too you as there is a plethora of cheese. I now understand the balance of just the right amount of cheese to create a wonderful soup, like the one at Balzar in Paris or even the one at Bistot du Coin in DC. We tried to figure out what the type of broth was used as it was much lighter than any I have had before.

Our lunch entrees were a chicken and mushroom crepe for Joy and I had a Croque Monsieur. The crepe was larger than our forearm and had large chunks of chicken. The taste was good, but the size and texture was off. The Croque was stuffed with ham as if it was made in a Jewish deli in New York City. Again the balance of ingredients was way off.

The food seems like it is what a Mid-Westerner would create if they had been to France once for a few days many years before. The portions are huge and the balance of ingredients were way out of whack. If I was not looking forward to a good French bisto meal I may have liked it a little more. The look of the place is right but the food is very American, very big American. I will gladly take Bistrot du Coin any day, even with the drive and parking hassle.



February 5, 2003

Life of a line cook

The Washington Post provides an insight into the life of a line cook. This is a good peek at what goes on behind the scenes at a restaurant.



January 26, 2003

Learning proper French Cooking at and Inn

We has a wonderful weekend at a L'Academie de Cuisine French Cooking weekend held at the Mercersburg Inn in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The Inn was fantastic, with wonderful accommodations, great common rooms, caring innkeepers that are friendly and very helpful, and very good food.

The cooking portion of the weekend was great. It was a present from Joy and it turned out to be a wonderful gift. The weekend revolved around the founder of L'Academie, Francois Dionot guiding the 14 students through making a four course French meal each day. The 14 split into four teams that prep and cook their portion of the meal. The meals are prepared in the kitchen of the Inn, which is just large enough for the 14, the instructor and his wonderfully helpful wife, and one person helping clean-up. Saturday's meal was a Cream of Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup with a Roquefort Flan, Quennelle of Salmon with Saffron Butter Sauce (our dish we helped create), Beef Goulash with Mashed Potatoes, and a Caramelized Pear Cake with Calvados Creme Anglaise. Today's menu was a Bourride of Fish with Aioli, Quail Salad with Polenta and Porcini Dressing (our dish), Chicken Blanquette with Root Vegetables (including salsify), Phyllo Tart of Chocolate and Raspberry with Chocolate Sauce.

We had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Francios is a perfectionist as one would expect and hope for as it pushed us to expand beyond what we knew. We also learned about adding more salt, not table salt, but wonderful sea salt (Sel de Mer) and kosher salt (containing all the minerals that should be in salt). Everything that was made was wonderful and a glass of wine was raised to the team that helped create that course. We also met wonderful people also taking the course, which was an added blessing. We plan to make courses at L'Academie a regular part of our lives and hope the rest of them are as fulfilling as this weekend.



December 29, 2002

Harried Holiday

This has been a hectic and food filled holiday season. The highlights so far (still a week to go) include a trip across country to spend an early Christmas with my parents and Grandmother and one of Joy's sisters. Left Thursday after work and returned across country Sunday (yes we are still living in the US and not England or the Netherlands, which would make a cross country trip a little more sane).

Tuesday after work (out at 1pm) it was a train up to NYC. Arrived in Manhattan's Penn station to 8 taxis and just three fares (asking myself if this was still New York). Arrive at Joy's sister and husbands apartment, change clothes and head to Bay Head Brooklyn for Christmas eve dinner. Dinner was great at the Joy's brother-in-law's sister's house, which included 6 or seven courses of stuffed mushrooms, seven layer eggplant parmesean (to die for), mussels in a dill cream sauce, jumbo shrimp in a tarragon vodka tomato cream sauce, marinated calimari and octopus salad, swordfish with a jerk rub and mango chutney, salmon en crote with a cream horseradish sauce with green salad, and Italian pastry assortment for dessert. We left in a new snow falling back for Manhattan after midnight.

We had a "toilet incident" that put us out on the streets of Manhattan at 1:30am Christmas morning looking for a plunger (the building could not locate the one they have for a 23 story building. We tried bodegas, one Duane Reed (wagged their finger at us for wanting a plunger and pointed us to the Liquid Plummer, which we purchased). We got back to the apartment to read, "Not for toilets" on the bottle. So we tried the building across the street, which had one for us to borrow and the maintenance guy would not take our $15 holiday gift offer (If we move to NYC we are going to look at the Mondrian just because of this graciousness, bless them). At 2:45am I was able to go to the bathroom, which I had been holding since Brooklyn as I thought I could hold it and I was being a gentleman and trying to be a gracious husband (this all may be reconsidered at a later date).

Christmas morning we woke at 9am or so and had coffee and eggs then opened gifts with in-laws. This was quite relaxing. We changed and went to go to church a couple blocks away. We prepared for the rain, but not completely for the torrential downpour, which had us soaked from the mid-thigh down upon arriving at the church. The services was nice and the modern architecture wonderful to look at as it cast great shadows and provided enjoyable plays with the light. After church we went back and changed to dry clothes and I helped a little with the rack of lamb (good to keep in mind it is 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes not 325 as well as stronger encouragement to keep the oven door shut -- broad cookbook like Joy of Cooking is a needed gift for that house or even for me to travel with. We finally ate wonderful lamb and mashed potatoes (appearantly they had their own adventure the previous day).

We were catching the 6 o'clock train back to DC, which was now going to be in a serious snow storm. We left the building and the wonderful hospitality to hop into a cab (yes the subway is down one long block and down a short block, but there was one or two inches of snow and we had wheelie bags). The taxi did fine until the mid-forties going down 2nd Avenue where stopping and starting turned challenging. We finally made it to Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. The train ride was quiet, but we did have to stop to knock ice off the bottom of the train.

Once home we have had a brother-in-law staying with us as their house is still undergoing serious remodelling (he moved back home last night). On Friday we had a wonderful dinner with friends at Local 16 on U Street, NW in DC. The food was quite good (the white bean soup was a little too salty, but the jerk chicken pasta and mahi mahi were great. This weekend has been a weekend filled of more errands than one could dream of (although Sutton Gourmet in Bethesda had a wine, champagne, and port tasting in their store on Saturday covering 35 to 45 offerings and I found a couple to buy and a few to add to my wish list that will make great pairings). I did get to use my new KitchenAid stand mixer to make a thin pear pound cake (out of Patricia Wells Bistro cookbook), which turned out wonderfully with a dollop of whipped cream scented with pear brandy on top. This followed a potato leek soup, which I have been craving and not made for a few years now.

Soon we are back off heading south to meet up with more parents and three kids and a brand new puppy. I may have hide for the month of January to recover.



December 23, 2002

BayWolf at home

An early Christmas gift arrived yesterday and brought much pleasure. The BayWolf Restaurant Cookbook is a gem that is a good read and I am sure will provide a pleased palate. I am already looking for the prime ingredients needed to recreate the wonderful meals.



August 14, 2002

Ah vacation

It is good to be home, well I wish I was still at the shore. We had a great time in Spring Lake, New Jersey staying at the Normandy Inn, as we always do. I lost a watch and two left contacts in the Atlantic Ocean, but we found some new great places. There are a couple new ice cream places in Spring Lake, iscream and Sunday Times are great new additions. We also found a great restraunt in Asbury Park, Moonstruck (it used to be in Ocean Grove and moved to a great larger space) the waitstaff was great as was the atmosphere, but the food was amazing. Joy had honey mustard pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes and I had salmon with a spicy sweet Thai sauce over brown rice. Both were extremely good. We also went to our favorites Spring Lake Gourmet Pizza, Kleins Seafood Cafe in Belmar, and to Strollo's Italian Ice in Belmar. We had lunch in the Cucina Cafe, which always has great salads, other midday snacks, and brings in awesome piniole cookies from Brooklyn. We also took a trip up to Pennington and Princeton to visit friends, which was another nice diversion.


April 8, 2002

Great tapas and paella in DC

Okay, this sounds bad, but we had another great meal out tonight at Mar de Plata in a "transitional" neighborhood in DC. The tapas were amazing, much better than the over rated Jaleo, and the paella was the best we have had in the whole DC area. Our dinner guest that chose the restaurant are great company and wise foodies. Mar also has a great Spanish cream sherry for after dinner that accompanies any of the great deserts nicely. The specials looked and smelled fabulous. It is definately a place to return for us.


April 7, 2002

We just had a fantastic dinner at Grapeseed here in Bethesda. Each course is paired with a half or full glass of wine. The food was wonderful. We started with orders of mussels in white whine, Escargot in Garlic Three Ways over Grilled Bread, and Fricassee of Roasted Wild Mushrooms over Truffled Polenta. Our main cources were risotto with asparagus and wild mushrooms and salmon over crawfish and two potato with a light saffron sauce. This was a good make up birthday dinner for Joy.


February 17, 2002

The New York City log goes a little something like this... We did the obligatory trip to Tal Bagels on First Ave to fuel up on my favorite bagels. Saturday I was able to knock out much of the computer set-up, but I had a feeling early on (Wednesday or Thursday) that I would need cables. We needed longer phone cord, but also when looking for a monitor stand that one can slide a keyboard under. The cords were no problem, but the stand was another issue. We went trekking through the mid-50s on the Eastside up into the mid-60s trying everyplace I had remembered seeing the stands. But, we got one of two answers 1) sorry we stopped carrying that a year ago, or 2) sorry we stopped carrying that four to six months ago.

After an hour and a half of searching we stopped at Mangia at 50 57th Street for lunch. Mangia has great salads and sandwiches for lunch. The salads were very good and the grilled vegetables were amazing.

The post-nourishment lead us to Rizzoli's Bookstore to peruse the art and design books, but did not make a purchase. We started back on our search and happened to stop into Fauchon for some chocolates, and to try our French on the Japanese staff (odd cultural blur). Then we were off to the Upper West side, beginning at Lincoln Center. We walked up West Broadway and stopped in Gracious Home, a wonderful "We have everything" home store. The did not have the desired monitor stand, but they did have an amazing tool section, lamp selection, kitchenware, and everything you could ever imagine with all of it seeming to be top quality and top brands. We stopped a few other places on the way to Zabars to look around and sample. By this point it was time to head back to rest up for dinner after stopping in nearly ten places that had the monitor stands in the past. At Work Stand on West Broadway, I finally had to tell somebody I was beginning to take this personally.

Our evening included dinner at MI, which was very good Asian fusion, with very slow service. We did happen to see Charlie Rose at dinner, which some how added to the dining experience. Next it was off to the Rise Bar on the 14th floor of the new Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park. The bar looks out across the Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Jersey City, and from the outside deck up to where the Twin Towers stood. In all it was a great night with Joy's family and friends of hers and theirs. We did finally found a place that would order the monitor stand for us.

Sunday was another trek to Tal and off to find more cables to try to get an HP printer to talk with the new Dell. We also needed cables and a converter box to get the DVD player running. These efforts after our hunting left us with a working DVD player and a noncommunicative printer. This of course lead to lunch at the near-by Houston and then off to visit a new baby and his parents on the Upper East Side. It seemed like such a short visit before we had to get back and pick up our bags to head back home.

It was a jam packed weekend and once again I have a great place in my heart for NYC. The people in NYC definitely are now very friendly and courteous. This to me is a little un-nerving as I like the New York edge. But, it was also nice to have people being completely sweet and helpful at every turn.



January 6, 2002

Reuters provides an article with coffee resources on the Web. The Coffee Geek and the Coffee Kid look to be promissing delights for me.


November 27, 2001

I am so looking forward to getting back to my regularly scheduled programming. In last nights adventures I did get to watch the conclusion of a Monday Night Football game that did not involve the 49ers. I also watched the Food Network for a while. I was intrigued with many items on the FN, but was really thankful Emeril was a chef and not a Web developer as he seems to throw out most cooking basics I know and he is not into teaching cooking, but rather creating a high school football atmosphere. Should you want to recreate something on the Emeril show you would need to use eggs, butter, a bottle of wine (because the crowd cheers for more wine), and whatever else you want. I guess that is why it is the Food Network and not the Cooking Network. Who knew there was this much on television.


It has been family filled lately. My parents were in town for the Thanksgiving weekend and we all went to Joy's sister's house for the big meal. (The yams in orange cups from Bon Appetite were great, as was the stuffing, buttermilk biscuits, and chocolate pecan tart out of the same magazine.) Joy is doing somewhat better as she had the drain taken out last week, but a couple treks out really wiped her out. It was great to see my parents and they took off yesterday morning. Last night one of Joy's nephew broke his arm in two places and spent the night in the hospital, so as Joy is still having some problems getting around I went over and watched the other two kids until about 1am so both parents could be at the hospital. Today it is Joy's day to get stitches out and other doctor appointments. This is a change, and a good one, from being an only child with parents and one grandparent.


November 20, 2001

Tired. Many things are going at once and I am looking for a little shut eye this long weekend.

My first Thanksgiving cooking anything, as my family usually eats Thanksgiving dinner out. We usually go to Carmel, CA or venture out around here, but this year it is dining at Joy's sister's. I am making Yam's in orange cups and buttermilk biscuits with scallions out of this November's Bon Appetit.

It looks like Joy may get to keep her drain a little longer. Nobody is happy about this, but we will find out for sure tomorrow. It was not a great day on the comfort level for her today.



November 19, 2001

And I though I was an oatmeal freak. It is getting to that wonderful cool time of the year to head back to the oats for breakfast.

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