Monthly Archives: May 2009

Day in the life: Rowing Alcatraz

Standard

Photobucket

Yesterday morning I got up at o’ dark hundred to go jump in a row boat and race from Alcatraz Island to Hyde Street Pier, which is right in front of Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. It’s the last race of the season and probably the most fun because of the location, the views and the turbulence of the San Francisco Bay’s open water. You never know what kind of water conditions you’re gonna get and who’s going to be out on the water with you: big sail boats, kayakers, big huge ocean liner tankers.

It was a beautiful morning and, well, an interesting race.

Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

Travel: Oakland Airport has free wifi!

Standard

I’m sitting here waiting for my flight to Albuquerque via Phoenix and decided to use the time to get some much needed work squeezed in. (The work of a Publisher is really never ever done. There’s ALWAYS a million things to do. Unfortunately. On the one hand, it keeps life interesting. On the other hand, it’s a pain in the ass.) Anyway, when I popped my laptop open—whoa!—lo and behold I discovered that Oakland Airport now has free wifi. HALLELUJAH! THANK YA JAYSUS! I’m pretty sure they didn’t have it last year … although I could be wrong. Nope. I just asked the dude next to me and he said it was fairly new.

Go, Oakland Airport!

(Warning: Mental left turn. >>> Have you noticed that laptop plugger-inners congregate around electrical outlets the way smokers do outside buildings? It’s an instant, if brief and temporary, bond. For a bunch of strangers, plugger-inners are fairly considerate folk. I wonder how many relationships have been struck due to plug-in proximity in a public place? Are there folks who have become life long friends, partners, lovers? Or is it just ships passing in the recycled-air-filled terminal? Hey, this is the way my mind works. It wanders. I can’t help it.)

That’s it. This public announcement is over. You may resume your life. Thank you for not smoking.

Food: Tapioca with mung bean and coconut

Standard

Coconut tapioca

Tapioca is a very popular and versatile ingredient for Vietnamese desserts. In my house it’s categorized as comfort food. I have the fondest memories of my grandmother making tapioca on cold winter nights. The addition of coconut milk gave off a deep, sweet aroma that filled the house. That comforting smell meant something delicious and creamy was coming. The texture is silky and smooth and tastes a little luxurious. And it’s just sweet enough to satisfy the inner child without sending me into a diabetic coma.

It’s a bonus that it’s also pretty darn easy to make.

Read the rest of this entry

Great reads: Julia Spencer-Fleming

Standard

PhotobucketWeeks ago I talked about finally getting my hands on the Julia Spencer-Fleming mystery series that so many of my friends have been talking about. When too many gush about a series or an author I tend to start backing away from it. I have a contrarian personality, what can I say?

It took me over a week to finish the first book, In The Bleak Midwinter. Normally I can finish a standard paperback book in one or two sittings. The delay with this book did not bode well and I was a disheartened. The first half of the book was good—well written and interesting—I liked the main characters, but it didn’t captivate and suck me in as I thought it would. So I would put the book down, read something else for a couple days and then come back to it. The funny thing is I always came back to it eventually … the storyline and main characters started to live in my head and I could hear them whispering in the back of my mind. I didn’t know what they were saying but I knew something was going on and dang it all if my curiosity didn’t keep me going back to see what these fools were up to. Sure enough, after a series of starts and stops, I got completely sucked in … not by the mystery, which was solid enough, but by Russ and Clare, the protagonist-sleuthing duo. She is an Episcopal priest and he is the chief of police. They are morality personified. They are also unexpected soul mates kept fundamentally apart by a wall of mutual respect, circumstance and  just plain old bad timing. Plus, Russ is married and ever faithful to his wife. And there’s a teensy decade-plus age difference. And oh, yes, ethics. Pesky, pesky ethics keep getting in the way.

Read the rest of this entry

The carnitas burrito

Standard

Photobucket

We’re starting to taste test burritos here in the office. That and pulled pork sandwiches, which seems to be the quintessential BBQ sandwich for summer. But let’s get back to the burrito.

We had a lot of discussion on what type(s) of burrito to test because burritos are one of those dishes like sandwiches; it can come a zillion and a half ways. How to decide, how to decide … we chanted that around for quite some time before settling on the basic to-go (foil wrapped) carnitas burrito with the basic fixings: rice, beans, salsa, sour cream and cheese—hold the guacamole.

Photobucket

Why carnitas? Because it’s a traditional Mexican pulled pork meat that is fairly difficult to get right. If overcooked it’ll dry up like jerky. Yuck. If done well though, it will be soft and succulent, and loaded with flavor. We figure if a joint can deliver the carnitas, they’re probably going to get the other easier-to-cook meats done right as well. No guarantees here, just a hypothesis.

Read the rest of this entry

The perfect lazy Sunday … and the best cappuccino ever!

Standard

northbeach

Recently I headed into San Francisco to spend a lazy Sunday in North Beach, the city’s Little Italy district. Sun was out and the weather balmy. It was blissful.

North Beach is generally a wonderful place to spend the weekend. It’s centrally located to much of what’s interesting in the city: tons of great eateries, little jazz clubs, art galleries, eclectic shops, Chinatown, the wharf and Telegraph Hill, which is home to hidden gardens, rare wild parrots and the iconic Coit Tower. You’ve got everything within a ten-block square including the nudie district if you’re into that kind of thing. I think it just adds a little color to the already eclectic neighborhood.

For the literary minded, North Beach is the absolute best place to hang in the city bar none. Nothing makes me happier than to spend hours on Sunday reading a bunch of newspapers, the New York Times Review of Books and browsing through a stack of books and magazines for whatever catches my interest.

Read the rest of this entry

Happy Monday!

Standard

Photobucket

Once upon a time I had two big ol’ white German Shepherds. One was big and beautiful and so sweet natured. He was a 125-pound lap dog. His best friend was our black cat and they slept together every night like two peas in a pod. He was also dumb as a doorknob. Sweet and funny, but dumb.

The other dog, the younger one, was not quite so beautiful. In fact he kinda looked a little feminine (we never said that to his face ’cause that would hurt his feelings), had a long skinny face and awkward lanky limbs. But he was the smartest dog I’ve ever known. He could open all of our childproof cabinets, take things out and put things back as if noone had ever been there. Until I actually caught him in the act I can’t tell you how many head scratching I-must-be-going-crazy moments he induced. He knew that out of all us, he was the smartest of the bunch. So he set himself up as our protector. He patrolled our house and property like it was his mission. When on high alert, he rarely made a peep, no low growling or audible warnings … but he stared with an intensity that made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. I always felt safe with him around.

Read the rest of this entry

Technology-2; Mic-0

Standard

star trek

I’ve been slow about posting lately because I’ve been in the back room wrestling with Technology. So far, Technology-2, Mic-0.

In the last two weeks, my laptop died. I mean DIED—as in the hard drive just doesn’t wanna come to work anymore. Ever. It just lies there limp and unresponsive. Ahem.

And then a couple days later my cell phone went berzerk and I had to turn it in for a new one. In the process I lost all my data. All my contacts, my calendar, everything. My only backup was on my laptop, which … was already dead. Leaving me with exactly … nothing.

And because Murphy’s Law is in full order, my laptop was taken off of system backup for some reason (I think first quarter maintenance) and we conveniently forgot to jack me back into the redundancy system. I WAS THE ONLY ONE LEFT OFF THE GRID!!

So, who goes down? Me.

I’ll be back soon because much has been going down in these here hills: Scotch-tasting party, BBQ-tasting Smackdowns, days in the City, hikes, lots of cooking and … summer movies!

For now, I leave you with a review of the new Star Trek film. I LOVED IT! I just loved it! I was so relieved that it was a good as it was. I could go on, but I won’t. Instead I will sit here with my little Jean Luc Picard figurine clutched to my chest and grin like an idiot. You go check out what Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from STNG) says >>

Community: Prom season

Standard

Prom

It’s mid-May and we’re smack dab in the middle of Prom season. How did it creep up so fast? Wasn’t it just Christmas?

And how in the world did this kid grow up so fast that he just attended his senior Prom last weekend?

This is my nephew, Christian, and I swear to God, it was just a couple months ago that we were surfing and kayaking the California coast and he was only … sixteen! Still a sophomore in high school, his prom was light years away! I remember this clearly because we talked about it and at the time he was so, like, WHATEVER, dude.

Photobucket

Oh, the sweet rowdiness of the high school Prom. The excitement of picking out the dress, taking photos with your friends, slow dancing amidst lots of colored balloons. Do you remember yours? I sure do remember mine.

Read the rest of this entry