Houses in motion

One thing that George and Becky remarked on last night while visiting us was how new Kirkland looked, despite being a fairly old community. We pointed out that a lot of the building in Kirkland over the past few years has been “teardown”—small houses on valuable properties have been razed so that new, larger (I wouldn’t say ostentatious) houses can take their place.

Kari Happold Real Estate agent, says that the neighborhood was originally vacation homes for folks coming across the lake from Seattle in the summertime, and so a lot of the original houses aren’t especially large. I suspect, on the basis of this history of the town, that some also housed workers in the Kirkland shipyard. Today, of course, on our hill overlooking Lake Washington any property that has even a little bit of a lake view is enormously valuable. So the old houses are going.

Another one (this one a bit of an eyesore) was demolished yesterday down the hill from us. While I certainly don’t mind the potential appreciation in the value of our house, I also can’t help but feel that some of the history of the place is being lost.

(Title reference: “Houses in Motion” from Remain In Light by the Talking Heads.)

Man it’s late

Just had a lovely evening and dinner with George and Becky. Great seafood (oh, good time to try oysters!), good wine (including a free bottle that the table next to us left behind!), great company. We’re already making plans for the next vacations together—Napa? skiing in Utah? Now that they’ll be on the same coast, the possibilities are endless!

Dave blogs Boston

Dave discusses last night’s blogging discussion at Harvard. Donna Wentworth of Copyfight blogged the session. Interesting thoughts about the intersection of blogging and academia:

Derek: A classic is the response paper: one student writes a paper, others respond. It seems to me that the blog is a natural expansion of this tradition. And I think it will enhance a sense of communal learning in the classroom.

Dave Winer: Sounds hokey. [Big laugh.]

Here’s the thing. I blogged many of my business school experiences and thoughts—particularly in the area of technology strategy. I think I was too early and doing stuff that was less than directly relevant, because few of my friends had the slightest idea what I was doing or even that I had a weblog. I think Adam’s generation of b-school students (Adam is the HBS student in Donna’s notes) will be better able to use the tools to inform their discussion because they’ve been exposed to the tools.

Calling All Angels

Jane Siberry
From the Until the End of the World Soundtrack
Warner Bros., 1991

Santa Maria, Santa Teresa, Santa Anna, Santa Susannah
Santa Cecilia, Santa Copelia, Santa Domenica, Mary Angelica
Frater Achad, Frater Pietro, Julianus, Petronilla
Santa, Santos, Miroslaw, Vladimir
and all the rest

a man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries
and high above the church bells start to ring
and as the heaviness the body oh the heaviness settles in
somewhere you can hear a mother sing

then it’s one foot then the other as you step out onto the road
how much weight? how much weight?
then it’s how long? and how far?
and how many times before it’s too late?

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this world
don’t leave me alone
calling all angels
calling all angels
we’re cryin’ and we’re hurtin’
and we’re not sure why…

and every day you gaze upon the sunset
with such love and intensity
it’s almost…it’s almost as if
if you could only crack the code
then you’d finally understand what this all means

but if you could…do you think you would
trade in all the pain and suffering?
ah, but then you’d miss
the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving

calling all angels
calling all angels
walk me through this world
don’t leave me alone
callin’ all angels
callin’ all angels
we’re tryin’
we’re hopin’
we’re hurtin’
we’re lovin’
we’re cryin’
we’re callin’
’cause we’re not sure how this goes

Galactic Jane Austen

Having been overdosing on bad Photoshop contests recently, it was a pleasure to come across this slightly twisted little page, which presents, um, “alternate” characters and scenes in the works of Jane Austen that draw on the works of Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas. I think my favorite is Chewbacca as Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice:

“Oh, Han Solo, you have no compassion on my poor nerves… wrowloughoooow!”

Thanks to Anita for the pointer.

Doc in Hell

It looks like Doc Searls’s slow descent into hardware hell continues. After several mangled laptops and a lost (and returned) AirPort base station, in the last few days he has had his laptop and glasses stolen from his car and an Ethernet failure on his backup machine. Someone had better sacrifice a chicken to Murphy, quick.

Praying for time

I was going to post something else here, but just got an email that an old friend of mine from growing up days has cancer. We’re all hoping that Rob pulls through. This is his second run in with cancer; the first, which he had as a child, robbed him of his sight. I’m not often a praying man, but I’m praying that this new cancer won’t take more.

Gumbo in our time

Last Sunday I promised myself gumbo. As you might guess, between work, mounting drawers, and this cold I woke up with today, I am just now getting around to it. After all, chicken and shrimp gumbo almost qualifies as chicken soup.

I have a long, somewhat troubled history with gumbo. The first time I ever made the dish, it was for about forty people at the beach. So I was accustomed to preparing huge proportions. Subsequent times out, I never quite figured out how much (or how little) roux I needed, with the result that you could stand a spoon in the gumbo it was so thick. (This may have had to do with the fact that I used okra and filé as thickeners). My wife eventually got to the point where she refused to eat it. This just strengthened my resolve to lighten it up enough that she would like it.

(A word on okra: when I grew up I didn’t know you were supposed to hate the stuff. Mom breaded it and fried it with potatoes and it was fantastic, chewy-crisp and flavorful. I wasn’t that impressed with how it did in gumbo, but this cookbook I found said you’re actually supposed to fry it first to get rid of any residual “sliminess,” then add it to the gumbo. This may be specifically a Creole vs. Cajun thing, I’m not sure.

But here’s the thing: this cookbook called for using either okra or filé (a powder made from sassafras and sage), but not both. And since I was trying to find a recipe she would like, I reluctantly held off on the okra this time.)

So anyway, this was the recommended sequence of events:

  1. Brown the chicken in oil (I used Crisco because the only other stuff at hand was olive oil and rice oil, both of which had flavors I didn’t want in the final product). Remove the chicken to a plate
  2. Make a roux with the same oil. (Roux can be tricky. In a nutshell:
    • Equal volumes of oil and flour (I used a half cup this time; my previous recipes had me using a full cup)
    • get the oil hot but not smoking (make sure you’re using a high sided pot so you don’t spatter yourself)
    • add the flour a bit at a time and stir
    • keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot until the roux goes from white to pale beige to brownish to the color of a 1979 penny you found in your driveway.
  3. Add chopped bell peppers (I use red, yellow, and green for color) and onion and stir them in the roux until soft.
  4. Add garlic, hot pepper (I used a serrano, sans seeds), seasoning (bay leaf, thyme, a dash of allspice, a little Pickapeppa sauce, salt, pepper), and chicken stock. Cook for about an hour.
  5. Add the chicken and correct the seasoning (with the hot pepper sauce of your choice).
  6. About ten minutes before serving add the shrimp.
  7. If you plan to eat all the gumbo at this sitting, stir in some filé powder off the heat; otherwise, stir a little into each bowl. (Apparently when you reheat the gumbo with the filé already in it, it makes the gumbo thick and ropy. Not desirable.)
  8. Serve over rice.

And that’s that. And, man, it’s good stuff. If I erred, it was on the side of too little hot sauce; but that’s easily remedied at the table. Hopefully Lisa will like it this time.

Best laid plans

I had all kinds of things I was going to try to do today. A few of them are off my list, since I slept until noon. Ah well. —Waking up listening to Murmur, which (Greg points out) the band finished recording at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, NC twenty years ago this month.

Weapons inspection goin’ on at Moxie’s

Moxie: Weapons inspection. Brilliant riff on how easy it is to turn the administration’s prelude to war into a bad joke:

I’m kind of hesistant to go out tonight. No, not because of the elevated terror threat but because I think it’s only a matter of time until wankers in bars start using this stuff to get tail:

“The UN passed resolution 69 which clearly states I get some ass this weekend. If I don’t, the terrorists win.”

Don’t miss the comments section, which I (ahem) had some input into.

QTN™: Kerst Pater Winter Ale

Kerst Pater Special Winter Ale: Another Belgian beer today, another winter ale. Will I ever get tired of either? Not as long as I have taste buds and it’s cold out. —On the pour you know this beer is serious. It looks totally black, but when held to the light it reveals a winey red deep within. Head poured dense and tall, rising about half an inch above the top of my glass before subsiding without incident or spillover. Nose complex, yeasty, a little spicy, a little pine note giving a hint of hops to come. Tasting: big malt up front, lingering kiss of hops at the end. Spicy all right, but not overwhelmingly so. Just a deep bready flavor with hints of nutmeg on the way down.

On hunting the Dog

I was wondering where Greg had gotten to; turns out it’s a Black Dog issue. Glad to see you back, Greg, and don’t apologize for taking time off. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

He also points to a possible source for the Black Dog metaphor: Winston Churchill. I didn’t have any idea that Churchill was depressive, much less that he used this analogy, but I dug deeper and found a book about it:
Churchill’s Black Dog
, by Anthony Storr, a series of essays on the success of creative individuals and their motivations.

Waiting for George

On Saturday three of my favorite people will be flying into SeaTac. George and Becky are coming out for a visit with some relatives (and maybe a little beer tasting). Should be a good time all around.

Who’s the third? Why, that would be my all time favorite person, returning from Boston.