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