“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
--- Douglas Adams

Monday, January 27, 2020

Responsibility vs. Karma

Image result for airpot coffeeYou know that sound, the air filled, coffee misted gurgle/hiss of the last bits of coffee in an airpot.

Last week at work I heard the sound.  I heard it because it was me who caused it. I took the last bit of coffee from the pot. Man, all I wanted was one long pull? push? draw? (let's call it draw) one last draw on the airpot. It fills about 2/3 of the coffee cup; the perfect amount of coffee for the amount of cream I like. Dang. Responsibility rings (or gurgles and hisses). My only option was to make a new pot. There was no other next step. Make coffee.

It is your responsibility to make coffee. The next person is depending on it and often times, you are the next person.

There's only one exception to making another pot of coffee. What time is it?
If it were 11:30am and I had just taken the last bit of coffee, I probably wouldn't make another pot. By that time, people are all coffee'd up. They most likely won't have another cup until the afternoon, or if you're like me, you've long switched over to diet coke or black tea. I wouldn't make a new pot at 11:30 am so it could sit around until 2pm. The 2pm people deserve to have fresh coffee just as much as the 9am coffee drinkers.

This morning I carefully avoided the responsibility of having to make a new pot and karma bit me in the ass. My coffee mug was about 1/2 filled and I heard the slight beginnings of a gurgle. I "decided" I had enough coffee in my cup, even though I knew I didn't, poured in some cream and went to my desk. But wouldn't you know it, that 1/2 cup of coffee didn't take and I found myself needing more. I went back to the coffee to get myself a proper cup, figuring surely someone else had made a new pot by now. I was totally wrong. When I pushed down on the pump to draw out the coffee, all I got was luke warm coffee spatter. Dang it.

I told myself "I told you so" and made a fresh pot.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Laughing Without Smiling

I lost a friend just before Christmas.  His name was Ian and I'm going to miss him. I spoke at his memorial yesterday. I felt honored that I was able to speak about my friend. And I was humbled that the group who came to say goodbye listened to what I had to say.

Ian and I became friends in 1991 when he and I, along with two other friends moved into a flat in the Richmond. We lived together in a mostly imperfect harmony for about 5 years. We called ourselves The Bubble Family. It was at that flat where we learned to live together, how to be adults, and how to navigate our new lives in a new city.  Getting to know our new city, and each other, we used to drive to a part of The City we had never been to, park, and then walk around until we couldn’t remember how to get back to his carWe would walk around seemingly aimlessly, getting to know each other, searching for his car. We’d finally find the car, and on our drive home, swear we’d never do that again, and then do it all over again a few days later. I always suspected he knew where we were the whole time and it was me who was the lost one, and Ohmagosh, he had the scariest car. It didn't have a 2nd gear; San Francisco hills, no second gear.
My friend was the most kind-hearted and an unabashedly genuine force. My children loved him. I feel so blessed that he was a presence in their lives.  My little ones loved when he would come to our home to babysit. With Ian, my kids knew they would be allowed to stay up as late as they wanted, eat whatever they wanted, and play video games and watch movies together. I was completely at ease with this, because also with Ian, I knew my kids would be safe, warm, and happy. 
Ian infuriated me just as much as he made me love him and come to think of him as one of my closest friends. He held opinions like no other. Sometimes he would make up an opinion on the spot to argue, just to stay sharp; it wouldn’t matter if he believed it or not.  To that end, Ian and I had a lot of conversations, discussions, arguments, disagreements.  Most of the time these discussions and arguments had to do with Star Trek, comic books, and other nerdy stuff we enjoyed. Sometimes they were of more substance; books we’d read, local news stories, moral concepts.  
One of the things we often talked and argued about was God.  We held a number of opposing viewpoints on the subject. Does He exist? Does He have a purpose? What was that purpose? Where God Went Wrong, Some More of God’s Greatest Mistakes and Who is this God Person Anyway?   (yes, I stole from Douglas Adams there)
But through it all, and despite the disagreements, I always believed Ian was a man of great faith; a kind of faith that science would approve of.  He knew (if I may steal from and paraphrase Richard Feynman) that there are two piles in life, a large pile of unknown and a much smaller pile of known. As life’s mysteries are solved, questions answered, we take from the unknown pile and add it to the known pile. Just as people before us chipped away at that big pile, and just as we ourselves chip away at it today, long after we’ve left earth, that pile of unknown will continue to shrink, someone else will continue the work. We don’t and won’t know everything, but Ian had faith that people would still keep searching. He had faith that this unraveling of facts before us would be continued after his departure. He had faith that that pile would continue to shrink. 
Ian loved Science Fiction and Fantasy. Perhaps he loved it because it is the praxis of this faith, a faith that in spite of the negative things we see around us, there is always someone trying to make things better, there is always something to aspire to. There is always hope for a future that was better than what we have today. 

I will miss Ian. I missed him yesterday. After the memorial we went to our friend's house, ate some food, told some stories, and I'm told, after I left, sang some karaoke. I wish he could have been there He would have really like that. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Lychees - A True Yet Pointless Story

Image result for lychee

I saw this article yesterday that there are now seedless lychees. I would like to give them a try. I have a feeling though, that they are going to be just as yummy as a seedless watermelon, in that they will still be good, but something will be missing. Although the seeds do get in the way, they seem to encourage the production of better flavor within the fruit, a necessary evil perhaps.

Anyhooozle, when I think of Lychees I think of this woman I used to work with many moons ago at a company that specialized in selling 6' tall wooden giraffes and had a wall of sample sized foreign snacks. She grew up in China. She said she and her brother would pick bags and bags full of lychees and then their mom would throw them in the freezer and they would have lychees all year round. She had lychees every day. Lychees eaten plain. Frozen lychees. Lychees fresh from the tree. Lychees thawed out. Lychee in bread. Lychee in stir fry. Lychee in dessert. Lychee sherbet. Lychee jello (now *that* sounds really freaking refreshing). OOOH! Lychee Agua Fresca sounds delicious.

If given the opportunity to taste a seedless lychee, I totally would. Until that time comes, however, I will stick to the regular kind with little to no complaint.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

My Friend's Potatoes

There are plenty of foods I don't like. (I'm looking at you, Dolmas) That said, I'm pretty adventurous when it comes to eating and will try most anything. I may not like what I'm tasting, but I'm willing to give new things a try. There's a lot of food out there. I'll never get to taste all, so when something new is offered, I'm usually game. I'm a big fan of trying foreign candy and cookies. Today I tried a Matcha Kit Kat from Japan. It was yucky, but I tried it, without hesitation. Now I know that I'm not fond of Matcha Kit Kat and I will politely pass next time it comes around. Another time I tried wasabi Kit Kat. It was foul as well, but still, I tried it.
There was a time, however when my eating habits took a rather snooty turn and I would only eat homemade, nothing from a mix or a box, nothing unnatural, nothing conventional, only organic, and I would try to convince everyone to eat like me, but I admit, in a kind of condescending way. That got old.
Looking back, I could tell my family had it "up to here" with my pinkies-out self. I liken my behavior to how people who follow Paleo, Keto or GFV diets, or Atheists and Cross-fit enthusiasts who always work their eating habits, beliefs and physical activities into every single conversation, even before asked, usually within the first 5 minutes. (I admit, I could count myself among these folks in days past. For that, I apologize.)
Once I was able recognize the eye-rolling I was receiving, and once my pocketbook started taking a hit, I relaxed my pinky and started eating and grocery shopping like a normal person.  I still love my fancy food made with expensive ingredients, but I've mellowed out a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'll eat a brick of fancy pate with overpriced crackers and tiny pickles any day of the week, but I have come to enjoy and appreciate food for what it is, nutrition for my body, enjoyment for my palate and most importantly, the opportunity to sit with a group of people and share a meal with them. I've expanded my palate too, and much to my happiness and betterment. While I draw the line at hot pockets, I make cake from a box, use frozen fruit, serve my kids pop-tarts, buy Costco catering platters, use pasta sauce from a jar and serve it with frozen ravioli and let my kids eat Maruchan Instant Lunch and chicken nuggets. Sometimes I even go to Walgreens to buy a 4 pack of Sutter Home Cab. Needless to say, my eating habits and my view of food has evolved into something everyone can enjoy not hearing about.

That said, I tried something new on Christmas and it was so delicious, I had to make it at home. Captain Awesome and I joined a few friends at another friend's house to celebrate and share a meal. While we all contributed to the delicious menu (brussels sprouts, fancy cheese, sparkling wine, etc.), there was one clear star of the show -- The Potatoes.

They were super simple, really. Red potatoes chopped up into 2-bite pieces, tossed with olive oil and a packet of Instant Ranch Powder, thrown in the oven until someone says "I think I smell something" or "Weren't we making potatoes?" Take them out of the oven and set on the stove to cool.
Serve and enjoy.

I thought the potatoes were so yummy I bought the ingredients to make it this week. I chopped up my potatoes into bite sized pieces, tossed with some Instant Ranch Powder and olive oil. I realized my ratio of Instant Ranch and Olive Oil Slurry to bite-sized potato pieces seemed to be on the overly-seasoned side, so I quartered some mushrooms and tossed them in. Once the slurry to vegetable ratio looked good to me, I threw them on a cookie sheet and in the oven at 400F and let them roast for an hour, taking a moment about 1/2 way through to give them a good turn.

I served it with some tomato soup (my kids LOVE tomato soup, and if I make it from scratch, I can ensure it has lots of veggies in it, because I can't get them to eat veggies save for salad most of the time, so I serve it a few times a week). I also made some really yummy chicken legs, marinated in a slurry (sure, let's keep using that word) of olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, lime juice, and threw them in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Oh my gosh, they were so good.

But wait, there's more.

The next day I had about a serving of potatoes left over. I took that, plus the meat from the leftover chicken legs and tossed in a pan until it was all hot and yummy, then fried an egg to put on top, and let the yolk get all oozy over the potatoes. So super yummy.

A quick search of "ranch dressing potatoes" comes up with a whole host of Ranch dressing themed recipes. In my 19 second search for the perfect recipe, I found this one. You should try it.

Welcome now my friends to the show that never ends

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Nice Pictures - Where'd you steal them from?

Some of the pictures in my blog were taken by a photographer called Julie Michele. Some of the pictures were either taken by me or someone I know. Some of the pictures were ripped right from the internet, mostly from google image searches from photographers to whom I may or may not give credit.

Rest assured I make no money from any of it.