Archive for December, 2010

Wedgwood Broiler

December 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I wasn’t sure I would be up to going out for New Year’s Eve dinner tonight. When my initial cold symptoms set in Tuesday night, I wasn’t too concerned. We went ahead Wednesday with our Bainbridge Island outing. But by the time I headed off to my office yesterday, I was starting to drag, and last night I had a low fever.

Today was more of the same — congestion, lots of coughing, a slight fever. But I had to eat, and I didn’t want Gail to be stuck in all evening. So I got dressed and around 7:30 we headed off to dinner.

Where to go? We weren’t really sure. The last three years, we had early New Year’s Eve dinners at The Attic Alehouse & Eatery, our local pub and long-time Madison Park institution. But we’ve been boycotting The Attic since last spring, for reasons I needn’t go into here. For the four years before that, we had New Year’s Eve dinner at our one-time local steakhouse, the Wedgwood Broiler. We moved away from Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood 17 years ago, but I still like to head up there occasionally. We never went to the Broiler on New Year’s Eve in the years we lived up that way. However, we found our way to it nine years ago on our way north to a New Year’s Eve party in Lake Forest Park, a suburb north of Seattle, with Wedgwood being about the halfway point between our house and the party. Thus began the tradition.

It seems I’m the only fan of the Broiler. Joel never understood why we would go. Gail regularly points out that there are better steakhouses around — and closer too — including one just a bit south of us on Lake Washington, next door to the Thai restaurant Sabai that I wrote about last week. But, it’s a tradition of sorts, and it brings back memories. I always think of Gail’s dad when we eat there. It’s his kind of place, and he would surely have joined us tonight if he were available.

Off to Wedgwood we went, and into the Broiler. We got there around 7:40, a little past its peak, another benefit of going. It was quiet, which is what I needed tonight, and it’s the one place we frequent where I’m likely to be among the youngest diners, which adds to the fun. The bar, I gather, is a pretty lively place. That’s where the young people go. The restaurant, not so much.

I have to admit, their steak isn’t the greatest. That must be what Gail and Joel have been trying to tell me. Still, you can’t beat the atmosphere.

After we ate, as always, we headed a few more blocks north to see our old neighborhood. And then we took a leisurely route home, past more neighborhoods that we drove through daily years ago.

I think next year we’ll try someplace new.

Categories: Holidays, Restaurants

Just the Game, Please

December 31, 2010 1 comment

UW's Victor Aiyewa hits Nebraska's Rex Burkhead to force a fumble

[Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times]

I’m not that big a fan of University of Washington football. After all, I despise college football on principle, so how can I care how our team does? But, last night’s Holiday Bowl game was our first bowl appearance since losing in the 2002 Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve, so after finishing my Bainbridge outing post, I turned on the TV late in the game’s first quarter.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that we were up 7-0. However, I was soon annoyed that ESPN thought the game they were in the midst of broadcasting wasn’t as important as the game over at ESPN2. Time after time, the coverage would be interrupted so we could be updated on developments in Palo Alto, where Stanford’s women’s basketball team was leading the University of Connecticut with just minutes to play.

You probably know that UConn has won its last 90 games in a row. The big sporting news a couple of weeks ago was their 88th victory, tying the great UCLA men’s basketball teams of the early 1970s for consecutive victories, and then their 89th, breaking UCLA’s record. Stanford, meanwhile, had its own streak going, having won their last 51 home games. One of those streaks would be coming to an end.

As long as ESPN was going to keep telling me the basketball news, it seemed simpler just to change over to ESPN2 and watch the UConn-Stanford itself, which I did. Time and again, UConn would come down the court down 6 and miss in their effort to cut the lead to just 4. Or 3. Maya Moore, their star and the best player in women’s college basketball, kept missing shots, as apparently she had done all evening. Stanford would push the lead up to 8, UConn, would get it back to 6, but they couldn’t seem to do any better than that.

Or maybe I missed something, because as it turned out, I couldn’t watch the basketball game continuously. It was bad enough that ESPN kept interrupting football to tell us about the basketball game. But worse, ESPN2 took advantage of every break in the basketball action to turn the camera on one of our nation’s most glamorous war criminals. It wasn’t good enough to stick to the basketball, to focus on a game that was setting up to be the biggest one of the regular-season in years. No, we had to watch Stanford professor (and former provost) Condoleezza Rice cheering her school on.

Why, ESPN? Why did we have to have her shoved in our faces? Did her presence make the game more important? You already dominate sports coverage in this country. Are you aspiring to dominate in the category of fawning over former National Security Advisors and Secretaries of State who led us into or prolonged wars based on lies? What about Henry Kissinger? Couldn’t you get him on screen too? Maybe you could have paid him and flown him in last night so he could sit with his fellow war criminal.

It seems that Stanford held on to win. UConn got into the standard end-of-game cycle of fouling in order to get the ball back and Stanford was thereby able to increase its lead, winning by a final score that I never did catch. Ah, it was 71-59. I did switch back after the game ended, only to be forced to get one last look at Condaleezza, standing up, cheering, and swaying to the music being played in Maples Arena.

I returned to ESPN for good and was relieved that they allowed us to focus on the football game, with no further interruptions. A good thing. We won, 19-7. Over Nebraska. But that’s another story. I’ll stop here.

Categories: Media, Sports, Torture

Bainbridge Outing

December 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Visitor's Center at Bloedel Reserve

I gave the briefest of reports last April on an outing Gail and I took to Bainbridge Island with our friend Cynthia, focusing more on photos than on our visit. And I mentioned in passing a return visit in June, on our way back to Seattle after celebrating our 25th anniversary. I wrote at greater length about our trip in late July with our Scottish house guests, focusing on our first-ever visit to Bloedel Reserve. Yesterday was our latest Bainbridge outing.

I should make clear that going to Bainbridge isn’t exactly a big deal. It’s just 35 minutes from downtown Seattle by ferry, closer in distance to downtown than the extremities of Seattle are, and many people make the trip daily. But we don’t. And now we’ve been there five times since March.

By becoming Bloedel Reserve members when we were there in July, we anticipated that we would make it a point to head over to Bainbridge at least every two or three months, so that we might see the Reserve in all its seasonal manifestations. Somehow, we missed our fall visit, taking five months to return. But winter turns out to be an excellent time to go.

On disembarking from the ferry, we first stopped in town return to a store that is becoming a standard stop for us, Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. We bought yarn and tea (naturally), plus a pattern Gail will use to knit a washcloth, and some gifts. The tea is from Steve Smith Teamaker in Portland, Oregon, which offers you the opportunity to go online and type in the batch number on the bottom of the box in order to get an answer to the question, “Where did my tea come from?” I’ve just done so for our box of Lord Bergamot tea, learning that it was blended by Tony, packed on November 5 by Dave, ML and Rachael, at which time the weather was chilly, rainy with Portland winter weather descending. The ingredients:

Assam, Dikom, FTGFOP1
Dikom tea garden, upper Assam, India. Lot 0-324 second flush. Harvest first week June 2009.

Ceylon, Dimbulla
St. Clair garden at 4500 feet above sea level in western Dimbulla near St. Clair waterfall. Harvested September 2009.

Ceylon, Uva
Uva province in Lunugala district, Sri Lanka. Adawatte garden, lot 5070. Harvest 2nd week of May 2009

Bergamot Oil
Reggio Calabria, Southern Italy from our friend Stephen Pisano. Harvest and press January 2009. From our friend Stephen Pisano.

From Churchmouse, we went a block down and crossed the street for lunch at and Cafe Nola, where we had also eaten last April. We shared delicious spring rolls and a cup of white bean and apple soup. Gail then had the daily special, prawns with risotto, while I had a very satisfying rigatoni with grilled chicken, artichoke, roma tomato, and spinach.

Then, on to Bloedel. I reviewed some of its history in my post about our July visit. You’ll recall that it was for decades the home of retired timber giant Prentice Bloedel and his wife Virginia and that Prentice devoted the last decades of his life to creating the gardens. (Just two days ago, I described our recent outing to the Wright Exhibition Space, where the Bloedel’s daughter Jinny and her husband Bagley Wright display some of their contemporary art collection.) Their one-time house, now the Visitor’s Center, was home this month to a special holiday exhibit.

This amazing exhibit, built by one of our volunteers over more than half his lifetime, is an entire village of eleven model houses encircled by model trains. These are no ordinary “doll houses.” Some of the buildings were inspired by ancient houses in France, and some are pure fantasy — like the towering Castle (standing over six feet tall), the Cookie Factory (staffed by teddy bears), a bakery, a bistro, and a gingerbread house. Every building is meticulously decorated and furnished with tiny, perfectly “to scale” furniture.

We arrived, parked, and walked from the gatehouse to the Visitor’s Center via the Japanese Garden. In addition to seeing the exhibit, we chatted at length with two of the docents, one of whom has lived on the island for forty years. She taught kindergarten for a couple of decades, her husband serving as a principal, and their attachment to island life was evident. On departing, we took a different route back to the gatehouse, taking us through the moss garden. After the heavy rains we’ve had this fall, the garden was at its best. It was the highlight of our day.

The Moss Garden at Bloedel Reserve

Next stop, Rolling Bay Café, a few miles southeast in the small commercial intersection of Rolling Bay. The café has become one of our regular stops, since our drive through the island the day after our anniversary in June, when we stumbled on it and had lunch. We returned a month later for lunch after our initial exploration of Bloedel Reserve, and we made it a point to stop this time too, for coffee, tea, and snacks. Another pleasant chat ensued, this time with the guy behind the counter, prompted by his Mackinac Island t-shirt. I mentioned my long-time desire to visit and he explained that he has family in Traverse City. While visiting them, he drove up to the island.

Since the café has no indoor seating, we tried to use the outdoor tables, as we happily did last summer, but with temperatures in the 30s, we didn’t last long. (It didn’t help that when we left the house in the morning, I managed to drive off with Joel’s coat rather than mine. There’s no way I could fit into his coat, so I had to spend the day coatless.)

From the café, we headed back to the ferry for a beautiful ride home.

Reflection Pool at Bloedel Reserve

Categories: Restaurants, Travel

Department of Fear

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Back in May, James Fallows at his Atlantic blog made reference to the US Department of Fear’s blog , as he has done more recently as well, but I didn’t follow up on the link until yesterday. Now I have, and I join Mr. Fallows in recommending the site.

You can learn about the DoF’s mission at the blog’s homepage:

DoF was established by an Executive Order signed by the Vice President in January 2004. The mandate of the agency is to promote fear in the interest of national security.

This blog is operated as a public service of DoF. Its goal is to promote the the agency’s agenda and increase public awareness of DoF and its mission.

Our moto “Timendi causa est nescire” (ignorance causes fear), was bestowed by the Vice President.

A typical post, from three days ago, discusses Representative Sue Myrick’s letter to President Obama warning about America’s home-grown terrorism. As reported in The Age, the North Carolina Republican is concerned that “America’s home-grown terrorism is now a global threat and the United States should look to Europe to learn how to deal with it.”

A prominent member of Congress, Sue Myrick, has told Mr Obama in a letter that America is now exporting Islamist terrorism.

Mrs Myrick, a Republican serving on the House of Representatives’ select committee on intelligence, accused the US of complacency, saying it was ”far behind” Europe in taking steps to deal with the growing radicalisation of young men and their willingness to carry out attacks.

Her letter marked a departure from a long-held view in the US that Britain was the biggest threat to America as a result of its position as a staging point for extremists from Pakistan, the Middle East and east Africa.

”Today, there is no doubt that radicalisation is taking place inside America.

”The strikingly accelerated rate of American Muslims arrested for involvement in terrorist activities since May 2009 makes this fact self-evident. What has been missed is that our home-grown terrorists are now becoming a global threat.”

The Department of Fear’s blog post adds that Congresswoman Myrick

has an enviable track record when it comes to keeping Americans alert to the threat of terrorism. The article notes Myrick warned the nation that the Council on American Islamic Relations was trying to plant spies on Capitol Hill by placing Muslim interns. She also urged the State Department to yank President Carter’s passport after he held a meeting with Hamas, the Gaza-based terrorist group.

It goes without saying that the best way to decrease the threat of homegrown Muslim terrorism is to continue to bomb Muslim countries, thereby decreasing the number of Muslims who want to emigrate here. Another common sense approach would be to fly drones over American communities known to be providing sanctuary to Muslim terrorists, striking any buildings in which they may be holding out.

I trust President Obama is taking the department’s advice seriously.

Categories: Law, Politics

Milestone, II

December 29, 2010 Leave a comment

A year ago tonight I wrote a post about my car, on the eve of its 3rd birthday. As I noted then, “I know that this is of no interest to anyone else, but here goes.” The point of last year’s post was to calculate my annual, monthly, and daily car use over its first three years. The odometer read 11,640, meaning I had averaged 3880 miles per year, or 323 1/3 miles per month. However, as I pointed out, I made a round trip to Vancouver, BC in the car’s first month, and two more after that, all on university business at the University of British Columbia, so subtracting the resulting 900 miles or so to determine my personal car use, I found that I had “done 10,740 miles of driving over three years, or 3580 per year, or 298 1/3 miles per month.” Rounding up to 300 miles per month, I found that I drove about 10 miles per day.

Here we are, a year later, on the eve of the car’s fourth birthday. What’s the latest odometer reading? 14,908. (The pity is, Gail used the car just three nights ago to pick someone up at the airport and then drive a ways north of Seattle, adding about 80 miles to the reading. If only she could have waited until tomorrow.) I have driven the car 3268 miles this year, for an average of only 272 1/3 miles per month, or a fraction over 9 miles a day. Averaging over the car’s four years, I have driven 3727 miles per year, or about 310 1/2 miles per month, or about 10 1/3 miles a day. If I deduct the 900 miles of driving to Vancouver and back, I bring the daily average over four years down to about 9 3/4 miles.

I’m clearly a candidate for an electric car. It will be a rare day when I have to worry about using up the charge.

Categories: Automobiles

Art Outing

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve been making a list of art exhibits to see once the term ended, which it did with my turning in of grades a week ago. The time had come to attack the list. Last Thursday we went to two galleries, with lunch in-between. One was a success; one wasn’t.

First the success story. I wrote last March about the BIG IS BETTER (or so some claim) exhibit at the Wright Exhibition Space. As I noted at the time, the Wright Exhibition Space mounts small shows from time to time, each of which draws largely or entirely from the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, the largest collection of contemporary art in the Pacific Northwest. The gallery typically opens just two days a week for limited hours. For the current show, those two days are Thursdays and Saturdays, and for the next two weeks, that means Thursdays only. So last Thursday was the day.

We drove down to the gallery (just east of the Seattle Center and the under-construction home-to-be of the Gates Foundation), parked in one of its reserved spots, and entered. Often, we pick up the small printed brochure and see the show on our own. This time, as we picked up brochures, the docent on duty asked if we were on the mailing list — yes — then proceeded to grab her looseleaf binder with pages on each of the show’s objects, stand up, come around the desk, and head off to give us a guided tour. We didn’t know we wanted one, but she turned out to be excellent company, and informative as well, and we’re quite glad we did.

The current show, curated by the Wrights’ son Bing, is called Bing’s Choice, with the subtitle “Art from my parents’ collection that was in storage that I liked (plus some other things thrown in that I also like).” He explains: Read more…

Categories: Art, Restaurants, Stupidity

Recipe for Family Fun

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Here’s a recipe for some good Boxing Day family fun, though it is perhaps best saved for a year when Christmas is on a Saturday, so that Boxing Day falls on Sunday.

1. Buy æbleskiver pan (as Jessica did for Gail a year ago).

2. Buy æbleskiver recipe book (as I did for Gail this year). This one, for instance, which Gail had conveniently put on her Amazon wish list.

3. Get Sunday NYT (as we do every week, being subscribers).

4. Stand around in kitchen while wife begins preparation of æbleskiver and son starts in on the NYT Sunday crossword.

5. Accept son’s invitation to work on crossword jointly.

6. Take break from crossword to eat wife’s æbleskiver.

7. Finish crossword.

Æbleskiver, I should explain, are “traditional Danish pancakes in a distinctive shape of a sphere. Somewhat similar in texture to American pancakes crossed with a popover, æbleskiver are solid like a pancake but light and fluffy like a popover.” I suppose it might be possible to make them better than Gail did yesterday in her virgin effort, but I don’t know how. I thought they were perfect.

And the crossword was fun. I rarely attempt the Sunday crossword, not because of its difficulty but because of the time it requires. As you know if you’re a NYT crossword regular, Sunday puzzles aren’t all that difficult on the weekday difficulty scale. Maybe somewhere between Wednesday and Thursday. But the grid is 21×21 rather than 15×15, which is to say, there are 441 squares instead of 225 — twice as many. That’s a lot of time. I’ve done a few by myself, as has Joel. We collaborated on one a few months ago. And so we did again yesterday.

It went well, except for one square that pretty well stumped us. We guessed it took a ‘t’, which turned out to be correct, but we weren’t too clear on why. The horizontal clue was “Difference in days between the lunar and solar year.” Five letters. We had the first four: epac. We needed the fifth, and this was simply a word with which we were unfamiliar. The vertical crossing word should have saved us. It was seven letters long, starting where epac? ended, with the clue “stir.” We had ?hepoky as the answer.

If indeed the square stumping us took a ‘t’, then the vertical answer would be “thepoky.” Is that a word? We made guesses at its pronunciation. Well, maybe it’s two words — “the poky.” If so, the point still eluded us.

Finally we looked up “epact.” Yup, it’s the standard technical term for the difference in days between the lunar and solar year, going back to the Greek. And as for “thepoky” as a synomym for “stir,” the point we were missing was to think prison! We had the wrong “stir” in mind. If only we had the benefit local NYT readers did of yesterday’s blizzard, then we might have been snowbound, going stir crazy, feeling like we were in the poky. Oh well.

Nonetheless, we had done the puzzle. And we had eaten well. It was a good morning.

Categories: Crosswords, Family, Food

Travels in Siberia, III

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Two weeks ago I wrote that I was finally reading Ian Frazier’s Travels in Siberia and enjoying it. The problem was, the day I wrote that post was the day I gave my final exam. Over the next week I put the book aside to grade and do assorted other tasks. By the time I was ready to return to it, other books tempted me. And I anticipated that by the end of last week a new temptation would appear, Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. If I started that, I might never finish Travels in Siberia.

Thus began my big push, last Thursday, to finish the Siberia book. Not that that’s a problem, given how engrossing the book is. Yet, one of the frustrations of reading long books on a Kindle is the lack of sense of where you are, the difficulty of flipping to the table of contents to orient yourself. It’s all well and good that you can check at all times what percent of the way through you are, a measure less useful than it seems when you realize that there is a long section of notes occupying some 10% of the book near the end. But what I miss is seeing how many chapters are in the part I’m in the midst of, how far along I am in each of the various trips Frazier took to Siberia. Not to mention not being able to flip quickly to the map.

No matter. I managed. As for the book itself, I finished it early yesterday morning. Later in the day I re-read Neal Ascherson’s November review in the NY Review of Books, and he captures the beauty of the book far better than I could.

In Travels in Siberia we get to read a lot about Frazier’s highs and lows, sulks and exultations. On the surface, he has written an irresistibly subjective, first-person book. But Frazier, cunning as he is, never allows it to become just one more squelching “quest” of self-discovery. His narrative is made to seem artless, but he is a clever, practiced writer who has everything under control. He never lets his ego upstage Siberia.

Travels in Siberia is a very prolonged road movie of a book: always beautifully written, often very funny, serious, and moving in its cumulative impact.

It is impossible with a single quote to convey the flavor of the book, but let me try. One comes to mind that I read yesterday near the book’s end. Part V, the last part of the book, consists of a single chapter, giving an account of Frazier’s last trip to Siberia, just over a year ago. He writes about boarding an Aeroflot flight at JFK and reflects on how much Aeroflot has changed since his first flight in the 1990s.

Everything about the Boeing 767 we flew in was better than what I remembered of their former planes. Now they had real seats, not lawn chairs. Nothing about the interior looked beat-up or shabby. . . . Some years ago, a British public relations firm did an overhaul of Aeroflot’s image. Thus the plummy-voiced British recording that gave the English translation of the Russian announcements. Thus the Scottish plaid of the blankets that were passed out, and the stitched floral pattern on the pillows, and the less hostile attitude of the in-flight personnel. The stewardess who served our aisle had refined her instinctive contempt for the passengers into something transcendent and soulful. She looked a lot like Babe Ruth, only with a slightly bigger hairdo, and she mugged like Chaplin as she indicated approval, disapproval, commiseration, and various other responses to each passenger she served. Sometimes she turned her face upward, saintlike, and rolled her eyes and sighed.

No other country but Russia would name a commercial airliner after a writer. Just knowing I was flying on the Ivan Bunin gave me a small thrill. … On the airport runways after we landed, I saw Aeroflot planes named after Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Ivan Krasheninnikov (an explorer of Kamchatka who wrote a book about it). The plane I flew home in was the Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin.

I started Isabel Wilkerson’s book on the Great Migration last night. This time I’m reading the physical book rather than the e-book. I already miss being able to hold my seemingly weightless Kindle in one hand, but I’m also already grateful for the easy reference to the table of contents. I’m in for another beautiful and moving book.

Categories: Books


December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

We had an unexpected dining experience Monday evening. As I noted in a post on Tuesday, I had finished my grading Monday afternoon, only to delete a whole folder of important files from my computer just before leaving the office. As a result, instead of heading home relaxed, I worried about what I would have to do if the files couldn’t be restored. When I got home, Gail suggested we go straight out to dinner. I hadn’t had lunch and she had to be at a 7:00 meeting of the Madison Park Community Council. An early dinner was called for.

Since Joel had other plans, Gail proposed that we go to Ruby Asian Dining. Ruby is down in Leschi, on Lake Washington about 3 miles south of us, with a mixed Thai-Chinese menu. We used to drive by but never thought to eat there. Then, about four years ago, one MLK weekend, Julie and Stan invited us to watch the first two hours of that season’s 24 with them. They live about 2/3rds of the way from here to Ruby, and they had chosen to get takeout from Ruby’s for our dinner. From then on, we became Ruby Regulars.

One of the pleasures of eating there is that it’s always quiet. As we soon figured out, most of their business is takeout. There’s a constant stream of people coming in to get their orders, with us sometimes the only people at a table. We also figured out that it’s not exactly the greatest Chinese or Thai food. But we like it, and the place is so convenient. Not far from us, never any traffic getting there, in contrast to some of our preferred Chinese or Thai places, which involve crossing one bridge or another, with the possibility of getting stuck with the bridge up or a traffic tie-up.

The only problem was, Joel didn’t much like it. My driving convenience wasn’t as interesting to him as food quality, and he didn’t see the point in eating mediocre food. Sigh. So for the last year, since he came back to Seattle, we haven’t eaten there so often.

Which brings us to Monday, and Gail’s suggestion that we return to Ruby, what with Joel’s friend Mike back in town for the holidays and their having other plans. We drove down, parked at the marina lot just north of the restaurant, and walked up from the waterfront to the sidewalk, only to be greeted by an unfamiliar sight. Even from the lot, something looked different, the way the restaurant’s interior was lit. From the sidewalk, the sign looked different too. And no wonder. It said “Sabai”. A new restaurant!

Or was it? We walked in and saw that a small partition had been constructed to screen the front door from the dining room. Once we got around it, we discovered a new wood floor, a mural painted on the rear wall, new wallpaper on the walls. The booths on the right wall were gone. The tables and chairs were new. One table appeared occupied, but the person sitting there was a staff member, so in fact the place was empty. The host, new to us, said we could sit anywhere. We chose a 4-top by the window, from which we could see that the entry to the kitchen was cleaned up. It used to be an opening across which hung a curtain. Now it was open, but there was a new wall behind, with a decorative table, making for a more welcome view. And of course the menus were all new.

Just then our old host came by to greet us. He explained that the owner hadn’t changed. Just the menu. And the goal — to make it a Thai-only restaurant with better food, and with a larger dine-in clientele. I texted Joel the good news. We reviewed the menu with the first host and made our order.

Then a third man came by and thanked us for being their first customers. Ever! It turns out that Monday was opening night, after they were closed a few weeks for remodeling, and we were the first people to walk in Monday. That was fun. He urged us not to judge us by that night’s food, as they would be experimenting for a while and would continue to improve.

We had spring rolls to start and we thought they were just fine. He came by again to ask how they were and we told him how much we liked them, but he assured us that they would be better next time. This was the first batch and he wasn’t happy with them. He already had an idea for improving them. Then came Pad Thai and a chicken dish with broccoli, both good again.

I’m going to miss the mediocre Chinese food, especially the potstickers, which I thought were better than mediocre. But I think we’re onto something here. Not that there’s a shortage of good Thai restaurants around town. This one is easy to get to, though, with easy parking, the lake view, our old host, a familiar setting, and the opportunity to watch its evolution.

Plus, we’re number one. No one can ever take that away from us.

Categories: Restaurants

In Praise of Lindsey Vonn

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

At Val d'Isère

[Enrico Schiavi, Associated Press]

I don’t often watch skiing on TV. I like it and all, but it’s not exactly the perfectly designed competition for TV viewing pleasure. Nor is it broadcast at any regular, predictable time. Or live. And let’s not even get started on the madness of not being able to see the glamour events of a Winter Olympics live. Every so often, though, I stumble on the tape-delayed broadcast of a World Cup race and I pause to watch.

Saturday was such a day. I got on the treadmill, turned on the TV, and found that it was tuned to the CBC, on which I had been watching a hockey game a couple of days before. In place of hockey, I had stumbled on coverage of the women’s downhill from Val d’Isère. And what perfect timing. We were in the middle of Swiss skier Nadja Kamer’s run. She would finish in 1′ 52.10″ to take the lead. She was immediately followed by young Swiss skiing sensation (I couldn’t resist the alliteration) Laura Gut, who in the 2009 World Championships two seasons ago had taken silver in both downhill and super-combined. This at the age of 17, and at Val d’Isère. Gut skied well, but couldn’t overtake Kamer, taking over second place just .12 seconds behind.

And then we waited for Lindsey Vonn, as assorted other women took their shots but couldn’t displace the Swiss duo. This, of course, is part of the problem of watching skiing on TV. Since it’s tape-delayed, you see a few runs, then break for ads, then a few more, then more ads, losing any feel for the rhythm of the competition. Rhythm or not, I was hooked. I wasn’t going to stop watching until I got to see Lindsey.

She was worth it. She had a breathtaking run, seemingly flawless (what do I know?), finishing in 1′ 51.42″ to take the lead by .68 seconds. And that’s how it ended, with Vonn, Kamer, and Gut taking the top three spots and arch-rival Maria Riesch over 2 seconds behind Vonn in 24th.

A day later, Vonn would win the super-combined to take over the World Cup overall standings and be named the AP female athlete of the year. Regarding the weekend, she explained:

First of all, I’m really honored to win the Associated Press female athlete of the year award. I feel so lucky to be the first skier to win it, male or female. It’s just been a great year. To win the Olympic gold medal and now this, it just reaffirms dreams can come true if you keep working hard.

I won both of my races over the weekend, and Ted Ligety won a giant slalom on Sunday in Alta Badia, Italy. It’s so cool that we both won on the same day. He took the overall lead, as I did. It was a great day for American skiing. I watched Ted’s second run, and he’s skiing so well right now, it’s amazing to watch him.

I was really happy with Saturday’s downhill. I made a really big mistake at the top of the course, but was able to make up the time at the bottom.

In the super-combined on Sunday, conditions were really bad for later numbers (in the start order), but I tried to make the best of it. The super-G wasn’t a perfect run, but it was solid and I won it, giving me a good chance in the slalom.

In the slalom I skied a little bit conservatively on the top, because it was getting somewhat rutty in soft snow conditions. But on the bottom I let it go and was able to make up some time.

I chose a good day to watch skiing.

Categories: Skiing, Television