Our wine cellar is looking a little bare these days. I think we’re down to a Sangiovese, a Zin, and a couple of bottles of Zinfandel Port. We didn’t have time to taste much wine during our vacation this year – I think we only stopped at two wineries altogether.
We have very vague plans to visit the wine country of Washington, down in the Yakima Valleyandthereabouts. Nothing firmed up, as we have several other trips we’d like to make just as much as that one. Of course, there aresomewineries within a fairly short drive of Science Manor. And therein lies the problem – driving. I know you’re supposed to spit when tasting, and not to actually swallow everything you’re offered. Otherwise you end up looped, with your critical facilities sliding down an increasingly generous slope. Intellectually, I know this. Spiritually, though, the practice seems sinful. Spitting out perfectly good wine just feels wrong, on a very deep level. I suppose it’s something I’m going to have to work on.
There’s a possibility I may be spending some time down in California over the next couple of months. If so, it would be on family business, with very little time to devote to the pursuit of fermented grape. Still, I suppose I might be able to squeeze a few bottles of knownfavorites into my luggage. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
I haven’t set up my stereo system at Science Manor yet. I haven’t really had the time, and the room in which it’s going to go is full of stuff we haven’t really had a chance to sort out. In the interim, we’ve been using Science Girl’s boom box. It does a nice enough job, since we’ve mostly been using it as background while we unpack.
“Yes, yes. Very interesting, I’m sure. Do you have a point, or are you just boring us for sport?”
Since you ask, it’s a little of both.
Anyway, I bought the new Al Green CD the other day, along with Joss Stone’s CD. SG and I liked them both just fine*, although I haven’t really been able to give either one an in-depth listening. As I said, the music situation at Science Manor hasn’t quite shaken out yet, as it were. My point, or what I’m reasonably sure is my point, is that this sort of (you should forgive the phrase) old school soul is bound to have at least some sort of appeal to us, since that style of music was instrumental in the creation of the aesthetic sensibilities of the both of us. Or, put slightly less awkwardly, we both cut our musical eyeteeth, to a certain degree, on 70’s soul. It played a large part in the formation of our tastes, y’see.
My question, then, goes something like this: How does this music hit the ear of someone whose aesthetics are based in hip-hop? Does it sound horribly antiquated? Is it nothing more than soothing music for old farts? Or does it resonate as roots music, a precursor to the chosen style? Even in the darkest days of my teenage rivethead metal devotion, I could still enjoy 50’s-era rock & roll as a sort of ancestor worship. Perhaps something similar holds true with the youth of today. As one of the aforementioned old farts, I couldn’t tell ya.
Hip-hop, by and large, remains very much a mystery to me. It just hits my ear as being a very cold music, antithetical to the warmth I associate with soul and R&B. R&B in the Ray Charles sense, I mean; what they’re calling R&B these days is another mystifying thing. You kids today don’t know nothing about (twenty-page diatribe mercifully deleted). Now, maybe that’s just because I haven’t heard the right stuff. I dunno. I did hear an awful lot of what radio euphemistically refers to as Urban Contemporary while I was living in Oakland, though, and I can’t really think of anything I wanted to hear more than once.
I realize that, as a middle-aged white guy, I’m not exactly the target demographic for hip-hop. Parts of it are supposed to annoy me, and I’m fine with that. Music moves and changes, and it doesn’t always take everybody along for the ride. Eventually it’s quite possible that I will loose touch with all current music. I hope that day never comes, but it does happen, even in the best of families.
In the meantime, I wonder what the average seventeen-year-old would make of I Can’t Stop, if he/she ever got the chance to hear it.
*OK, Ms. Stone tends to push a little hard sometimes. But hey, she’s only sixteen. What were you doing when you were sixteen? Masturbating and reading sci-fi, right? Let’s cut her a little slack.
I’m wondering if my brain is still under warrantee. Lately there’s been some unpleasant, disturbing, and downright unsavory activity going on in there, none of which is of my own volition. Specifically, I seem to be especially prone to 80’s power ballad earworms, which come unbidden from out of nowhere. It starts in the morning and sticks like spilled krazy glue on an heirloom Persian rug. If we think of my brain as a cheap iPod knock-off (not a bad analogy, actually), I seem to only have access to the crappy files in my mental hard drive, even though I’ve made it my life’s mission to stuff my head full of wonderful music. Last week it was Journey; I was wrestling with “Don’t Stop Believin’”, or whatever the hell that horrible piece of aural feces is called, for a good day and a half.
Today was even worse. As per usual, I arose from bed before Science Girl, went down stairs, got the newspaper, put the kettle on and made myself a bowl of corn flakes. While I was waiting for the tea water to heat up, I switched on the computer to check email and read a few friends’ blogs. A normal morning, so far. With my brain still blissfully free of anything resembling rational thought, I checked out Dana’s place where, sadly, I was infected by this post. Through no fault of either Dana’s or Maud’s, I suddenly found myself trying to cope with REO Speedwagon echoing through the warehouse of my mind and I hadn’t even had any caffeine yet.
Ordinarily, my tactic in fighting such an infestation is to counter with an equally “catchy” yet superior song. Lately I’ve had a lot of success with “Rattlesnake Kiss” by The Green Pajamas. Today I must have pushed the wrong mental button, though, because what I tried to replace “Can’t Fight This Feeling” with was, yes, “I Write The Songs”, by none other than Barry Manilow.
Fire, meet gasoline.
The term “mental anguish” doesn’t even begin to describe my situation. And still it continues – as I’ve been writing this, I’ve also been fighting off another onslaught from the Speedwagon. Not to mention the flashbacks to the record store I worked in during 1980, where one of the other clerks played the Hi Infidelity album every stinkin’ chance she got. (As it turns out, that’s not even the album “Can’t Fight This Feeling” is from, although it did have the equally icky “Keep On Loving You”, a staple of Casey Kasem’s“Long Distance Dedications” for years to come. Not that it really makes much difference, ultimately; my recollection of those guys is that one album was pretty much interchangeable with the others. For those nitpickers among you, though, this was the guilty culprit.)
Is it going to be like this for the rest of my life? If so, do you have a gun I can borrow?
As you may have heard, we’re in the midst of something of a mad cow scare here in the Great Pacific Northwest. Even though Our President (who would have absolutely no reason to lie to us and wouldn’t do so even if he did, gosh no) has reassured us that there is nothing to fear, many folks are, in fact, freaking out. And with good reason, as it turns out, since some of the contaminated beef was sold through a local grocery store.
Allow me to go off on a short tangent here. (Ha! Try and stop me!) My father raised beef cattle as a hobby, more or less, during the 70’s. We always had a small herd of no more than 8-10 head at a time. Occasionally we’d sell a couple of them off at auction, and occasionally we’d have one slaughtered for our own use.
In his dealings, my dad became friends with some folks who were in the business on a much larger scale – several thousand head at a time, if I recall correctly. These were people for whom beef cattle was their livelihood, right? Never once would they have considered selling sick stock for human consumption. It just wasn’t done. If you wouldn’t eat it yourself, why would you try to get someone else to eat it?
Anyway, back to my point. This BCE scare doesn’t affect Science Girl and myself much, since we don’t eat much in the way of meat, generally speaking. We have some sort of poultry several times a week, I’d guess (turkey cold cuts at lunchtime, especially), pork maybe once or twice a month at most (I have a weakness for bacon), and beef hits the table maybe once every two or three months.
For those of you who do partake of the ground cow, however, I’m sure this is a trying time. Having spent a large part of my twenties living on hamburgers, I feel your pain. That’s why I’m here to tell you about the wonders of ground turkey. Yep. Turkeyburgers.
Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way right here, OK? As always, buy organic when you can, wash your hands carefully after handling raw poultry, and for the love of cake cook it thoroughly. Salmonella and E. coli are still a very real threat. However, while the poultry industry isn’t known for its cleanliness and there have been those pesky rumors about some producers forcing the birds into cannibalism, there haven’t been any outbreaks of mad turkey disease that I know of.
Oh, I know what you’re saying. “Turkey burgers are bland. They don’t taste anything like real burgers!” Well stop sniveling, ya little wimps. Of course they don’t taste like hamburgers. Truth is, by themselves they don’t taste like much at all. Or, as SG put it when I told her I was going to write about turkeyburgers, “Don’t forget to tell them how to add flavor.”
But of course.
Around Science Manor, our favorite method goes something like this: put the ground turkey in a large-ish mixing bowl. To it, add chopped onions, some extra-virgin olive oil, a splash of soy sauce (adds color and, let’s face it, salt), some dried oregano, and a small amount of dried chipotle powder. (Go easy on this, especially if you’re gonna be feeding these things to children. The idea is to introduce a little heat and smokiness into the burger, not to chemically remove the tastebuds of your loved ones.) Mix the ingredients together with your hands; just squish ‘em up. If you’re squeamish, you may use a wooden spoon, I suppose. Form the meat into patties and set them aside on a plate. Wash your damn hands. Heat a skillet; add a little olive oil so’s your burgers won’t stick –turkey is really low in fat. Cook as you would a regular burger, but keep in mind that rare is not an option with poultry. Everybody gets well-done burgers this time around.
Here’s an idea that occurred to me the other day while I was walking the dog: the Greek-style turkeyburger. It’s similar to the recipe above, except it would have some sautéed minced garlic, probably some fresh parsley in place of the dried oregano (fresh oregano would probably be good, too, actually), and you’d omit the chipotle and soy altogether. Instead, just add a little salt and black pepper. Here’s the cool part, which may or may not work, since I haven’t had a chance to test it out: each burger would be formed around a ball of feta cheese. Or maybe there’d be a layer of feta inside the burger. As I say, I’ve only ever done it in my head. If you try this out yourself, please let me know how it comes out. I’ve never really cooked with feta before, so I’m not sure if this is even a good idea. It sounds good to me, anyway.
Sorry kids. Busy night + empty brain = no post. I am deficient and I know it. It is possible that I will do better in the future. bmarkey 1/09/2004 09:49:00 PM
Thursday, January 08, 2004
Bright lights, big city
The rains came, the temperatures warmed, the snow became slush. The streets flooded and cleared. All we have now are random piles of dirty snow on our sidewalks and yards, and the memory of what it looked like when it was fresh and clean. *sigh*
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
No, I’m here to talk about Sky City. (Well, technically I’m here to work, but there’s not much going on right now & my employers are cool with my writing on the job as long as I’m all caught up, so…) Science Girl and I watched a show devoted to the engineering behind the (potential) construction of Sky City last night on the Discovery channel.
I’m of two minds about this thing, as I am about so very many other, uh, things. The sci-fi geek in me thinks the whole idea is pretty damn cool; the rest of me sees a very real potential for one of those 1970’s disaster movies come to life. The possibility of catastrophic fire or earthquake was addressed in the show we saw. I’m no architect, so I have no idea whether the claims made have any sort of validity; my guess is that they were looking at best-case scenarios, but maybe I’m just being cynical. However, not one word was said about the threat of massive swarms of angry killer bees, which strikes me as a huge, potentially deadly oversight on the part of the Takenaka company. Someone needs to look into this.
(I’m leaving Godzilla out of the discussion because A) it’s too obvious, and B) I can’t remember if he’s on the side of humanity now or not – the big guy has flip-flopped on that question a few times over the course of his career, as I recall.)
I guess my biggest question about the project is: who the hell is gonna pay for it? They threw a bunch of numbers around last night, but I seem to recall that something like 3 billion tons of steel would go into the construction of just the mega-columns alone. That’s some serious coin right there, and if I recall correctly the Japanese economy ain’t exactly at its healthiest these days. The producers may have addressed this concern at the beginning of the program, which we missed. It could be the same entity that’s footing the bill for the prototype building in Taipei, for all I know. Whoever it ends up being had better be ready to pay some overtime.
The other problem is one of aesthetics. Do I really need to point out the symbolism inherent in a half-mile-high cylindrical tower?
It actually seemed warmer today, although everything I’ve seen said that the high was around 27 or so. Whatever the temperature really was, I can tell you that it was just beautiful when we took the dog out for her walks. The falling snow gave everything that sort of gray light peculiar to snowstorms. The snow itself was a nice, light powder, as opposed to the wet cement we usually get.
As such, it was perfect for sledding. Every kid in the neighborhood seemed to be zipping down the big hill in front of Science Manor. I was tempted to ask if I could give it a try, but that would have entailed borrowing someone’s sled. As I recall this to be something of a faux pas, I just watched instead. Fortunately, I had parked the car on a side street down the hill aways, since our driveway seemed to be the prime braking spot. Science Girl said that she and her friends had done the same thing when she was a kid. Some things just never change.
And, since the snow was so dry, it compacted very nicely on the roads. I was hoping I wasn’t going to need to chain up for the drive to work, but one look at the state of the arterial that cuts through our neighborhood put the kibosh on that idea right quick. The chains went on pretty easily*, and once I was on my way I was very glad to have them. There were a few spots where it appeared that the city had sanded the road, but it didn’t really seem to have had much effect on the surface at all.
And now, instead of the promised warm rain, we are in fact getting freezing rain. It’s supposed to continue until at least midnight, AKA the time I usually get off work. Ordinarily this might pose a problem. However, tonight my relief called in sick, so I’m here until 3 or 4. Thankfully, the morning person said that she would come in then. So I’ll just be good and tired for the icy drive home, rather than full-on exhausted. Yay.
This day started with such promise.
*Although I did somehow manage to get snow down the back of my pants. I’m afraid I had some plumber’s crack action going on back there. My apologies to all.
My goodness but it’s been awfully darned cold around Science Manor these days. (I was gonna lead with “Man, it’s been fucking COLD lately”, but I figured I’d take the high road for a change.) I don’t think we got above freezing all weekend, with an average daily temperature around 25 or so, I’d guess. Last night it got down to 15 degrees. Going out to walk the dog was like entering a huge walk-in freezer. That, in and of itself, wasn’t too bad. It was the wind that made it feel a lot like what I’d imagine being knifed is like. (Those of you living in, say, Minnesota or North Dakota should feel free to laugh at this.)
This kind of thing is just part of the normal weather pattern for this time of year. We usually spend most of the winter in the mid 40’s, with a week or so where it dips down into the Really Cold range – almost always in January. Over the last three or four years, though, we’ve had some exceedingly mild winters with almost no snow at all, and certainly very few days where temps went below freezing. Consequently, we’ve gotten soft.
To be honest, Seattle is not a city that handles snow well, even under the best of circumstances. It really does send most everybody into a panic, which tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A lot of that is due to the fact that drivers here don’t seem to think that snow on the road means that they need to alter their driving habits in any way. Consequently, when the first flakes hit the streets, cars start heading for the ditches. That’s why I don’t like driving in the snow; I have perfect confidence in my own skill behind the wheel, but absolutely none at all in that of anyone else.
Which is going to make tomorrow’s commute interesting, to say the least. Beginning about 3-4 AM tomorrow, we’re supposed to get anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of snow. They’re saying that it will continue until about 4-5 PM, when it will warm up sufficiently to switch over to rain. Rain on top of snow equals slush, for those of you living in milder climes. Basically, by this time Wednesday, Seattle is going to be one big dirt-flavored slurpee. Expect to see local flooding, which means cars stalling out as they try to drive through flooded intersections and pedestrians with really cold, wet feet. Mudslides along Magnolia Bluff would not be unprecedented. And hey, maybe those condos on Capitol Hill that have been teetering over I-5 since the last big snow will finally topple over.
Or, maybe the whole thing will miss us entirely. It wouldn’t be the first time the weather service has forecast dire snowstorms for Puget Sound, only to be completely mistaken. I think they rely on myomancy as much as they do the Doppler radar so beloved by local TV.
Personally, I wouldn’t mind a little flurry or two. Science Girl and I enjoy bundling up & taking Lucy out in the snow so she can pretend she’s a wolf stalking dinner. As ridiculous as it sounds, though, 4 to 6 inches is enough to grind things in this town to a messy halt, so I’d be happy with one or two inches.