and I will be in Chicago in the near future.
That is, I fly in a week from tomorrow, and out again that Sunday.
Would love to see folks. Already fairly busy with violachic
's wedding, but could hope to squeeze in more visits with people.
Extra points if we can combine seeing people and eating tasty food. Since I have to make time to eat tasty food anyway.
Wed, Dec. 30th, 2009, 02:42 pm
This is the time of the year when many of my friends write "Year in Review" posts. (Sometime next month, my politically-aware friends may start writing "State of the Union" posts, especially those who missed the "year in review" deadline.) Some people may even be writing "Decade in Review" posts.
I don't really want to write a "year in review" post, myself. Suffice it to say that this year has been marked by an extraordinary polarity between professional success and personal tragedy (little Ezra and his long, long shadow). I haven't accomplished many of the things I've wanted to, personally—I haven't been able to write every day, as I did for about four months from last November, and I've been less than rigorous about submitting material for publication than I had hoped. But I hold myself to very high standards, so it's not a surprise when I fail to meet them in some respects.
As for the decade, I can't really say. I'm older, but probably no wiser. I'm certainly quieter, even withdrawn, which some might mistake for wisdom. I'm probably both more tender and more calloused. I've driven the same car for eight of the last ten years, and have no more debts now than I did a decade ago. I'm not sure that my assets have appreciated substantially.
In other words, I feel as though I've been thrown into a new orbit, but around the same star. I'm different, but I doubt the changes could be called progress. Not regress, either.
None of this is negative, really. There's a certain sense of frustration I feel, but much of that is just that I haven't accomplished what I'd hoped to in my time off of work: I'd hoped to write, but I've got injuries on both my thumbs that make handwriting for any length of time extremely uncomfortable. And so I've done little besides cook and play Nethack. Which has been incredibly relaxing, but again less than the high standard I'd set for myself.
What bothers me most right now is my sheer practicality, a lack of whimsy or inventive imagination. When I see points A and B, I can't help but that the line I draw between them is perfectly straight. This impoverishes my intellectual and emotional worlds, effective as it may be for day-to-day living.
Went scuba diving today. First drysuit dive. Skills went well. We tooled around a bit and I tried to get used to the suit. It's probably going to be five or ten dives before I begin to feel comfortable and can pay attention to the dive and not the drysuit — but it sure was nice being warm and dry when I got out of the water.
Unfortunately, the dive ended with me ascending rapidly due to air in the drysuit. Not atypical for a first drysuit dive, but still frustrating. I had started an accidental feet-first ascent, swam out of it nicely, and bled air — but I bled air from the BCD, not the drysuit. Whoops.
But it was a decent first dive. Hopefully I'll be able to get the hang of it soon. Plus it confirms that the drysuit can actually keep me dry, which saves me worry and/or money, and means I can keep diving all winter long.
After coming home and washing my gear, my thoughts turned to dinner. Laura was headed out to a girls-only party with friends down in Tacoma, and so I figured I'd cook the spare ribs that were in the freezer. I thawed them in the sink, seared them with garlic, ginger, and hot pepper, sauteed some onion, and braised it all in a mixture of mushroom stock, soy sauce, and lime juice.
When the ribs were done, I took them out and cooked up some rice noodles we had in the cabinet. I reduced the sauce, adding a little mirin and a little extra sugar as it was quite tart, then re-warmed the ribs in the thickened sauce. I cut the meat off of half the rack of ribs, chopped it into bite-sized pieces, and served it on top of the rice noodles with a healthy dollop of sauce. Tasty!
This week, we'll take the other half of the ribs, cut the meat off, and put with cabbage into the wonton wrappers we have in the fridge. The leftover sauce could be a dipping sauce for that, though maybe we'll just want hoisin.
Just to note that, after the recent whirlwind of (scheduled) travel, work sent me off to New Jersey and Manhattan the day after ironheadjane
and I returned from seeing friends and family in the Bay Area. Sixty hours later, I was home.
I've finally posted a few photos of last year's trip to Hawaii
and this spring's trip to Bermuda
. I'm working on my photos from Sydney from February, but to a certain extent I'm not sure I've got the stomach to finish that work now.
You've probably noted a lot more of my Two Ideas
blogging. In part, I've realized that I can do a pretty good job if I batch the work into one or two big weekly sessions, and pop in with brief additional ideas when they come to me. In part, I've been stalled on the fiction project I've been working on, and am trying to see my way clear to getting it going again. In the meantime, my mind wants me to keep writing, so I'm doing my best...
My sister and her husband are in town at the end of this week, as is another friend. I'm looking forward to that a lot, but I've got my first complete in-office workweek in almost a month ahead of me largely between here and there. We'll see how it goes.
Tue, May. 26th, 2009, 06:49 am
Good day yesterday, with a whole lotta nothing, a little bit of food prep (marinated cauliflower salad and a black bean dip), and barbecue at Jer's. Too much food! And now, a little bit of writing then get ready for work. Not enough sleep - about seven hours.
Tomorrow and Thursday I'm on the road, at a customer in Mountain View. Unfortunately I doubt I'll have any time to see people: the kind of business travel I do tends to mean 16-hour workdays. Tomorrow I'll be up at, oh, quarter to four, so I'm unlikely to want to be up very late... by the time I get back to my hotel room and have dinner, it'll be eight or nine and I'll be done.
Went diving with my friend/co-worker Blake last weekend -- it was spectacularly good. We'd hoped to get out this weekend, but tides were unfavorable and Blake was on-call. Plus, I hear the viz was lousy. Still, the two dives we did at Redondo were among the easiest, and most pleasant, in recent memory.
Also, Laura's convinced me to give running a try. Ran three times last week, the third on my own. I'm truly lousy at pacing myself: I tend to slowly work myself faster until I'm going too fast, and it takes me a while to cool off when I slow down. But at least the heart-rate monitor tells me I'm doing it! Without it, I'd be pushing myself a lot harder than I should. Still, on that run I managed to do three and a half miles in about forty-five minutes, which is beyond what I would have guessed I could reasonably do. Maybe I'll get to run again this evening, though what with the trip and the packing my schedule is probably a bit tight...
Last night, dinner was Twice-Baked Samosa-Stuffed Potatoes. This was a mixture of our normal baked potato recipe and the samosa recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook.
First, we took two large potatoes and baked them. We used Idaho Russets (not what we normally use, but perfect for this) and baked them for about an hour at 450 degrees. I run a metal skewer through each potato, so that it cooks faster, and rub the skin with a bunch of salt after washing them.
When the potatoes were nearly done, We took one small yellow onion, and chopped it finely. We also minced about one tablespoon fresh ginger and two cloves garlic. Then we sauteed these about ten minutes in one and a half tablespoons butter with one teaspoon mustard seeds, one teaspoon ground coriander, one-half teaspoon turmeric, and one and a half teaspoons salt. Get the butter nice and hot before adding the other ingredients.
When the potatoes came out, we split them in half and scooped them out, leaving enough on the outside to maintain structural integrity of the potato skins. We took the insides of the potatoes, and mixed them with the sauteed onion-spice mixture, one-half teaspoon cayenne pepper, and two tablespoons lemon juice. In fact, we used the immersion blender to puree them together until smooth.
Then we took one and a half cups frozen peas, and stirred these into the mixture gently. We took the potato-onion-pea mixture and refilled the potatoes, putting them on a baking sheet using aluminum foil to hold them upright. We sprinkled these with paprika, and baked for ten more minutes at 350 degrees before turning on the broiler for a couple of minutes. If you do this, make sure that you stop as soon as the potatoes start browning on top!
If I was doing it again, I'd probably sprinkle on a little extra paprika after taking them out of the oven: the turmeric stains the potatoes a beautiful yellow, the peas are a brilliant green, and the deep red of the fresh paprika would be very appealing, visually.
Very tasty, filling, and healthy!
The next few months will be a marathon of travel.
This week, Wednesday through next Sunday, Laura and I will be in Bermuda. Work is sending me to the annual Sales Club to thank me for the deals we've closed due to my onsite intervention, including a major last-minute deal last quarter in Australia. We may opt to stay a couple of extra days at the tail-end of it and enjoy ourselves a bit more.
Next month, we'll be spending a week at Disney World with my siblings and some extended family. We're very much looking forward to seeing my Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin, who will be visiting from Israel, as well as my siblings and their spouses and my niece, and also my sister-in-law's extended family. It should be exhausting, but in a good fun way.
July, we'll be headed to the Bay Area for a long weekend -- the 16th through the 20th. We're very much looking forward to getting together with friends and family while we're there, and we're not yet heavily planned... so if you'd like to see us in SF, let us know soon.
Several weeks ago I'd planned to have a small movie night this past weekend, to celebrate my 33 1/3rd birthday. Given the craziness of the last couple weeks, not surprisingly, I failed to plan it or to invite anyone.
were visiting from Chicago, and we watched The Third Man
, so I can at least claim to have fulfilled my plans. Though I didn't have a cake that looked like an LP. (No, I was never actually planning that -- it just occurred to me now.)
It's all right, though, as I spent a nontrivial portion of the weekend helping out with emergency work stuff. My role was limited, from a technical perspective, but time-consuming nonetheless.
Hopefully I'll plan a substitute movie night soon -- it would be good to make sure we still see people.
We have an answer on what happened to Ezra: a blood clot in the umbilical cord. While this doesn't make us any less sad, it's at least an answer. When Laura's off of blood thinners for the clot in her leg, we'll be doing the full panel of clotting disorder tests, and likely she'll be on blood thinners when we're ready to try again.
Not sure if we'll be joining much of the family at Disney in June -- it's expensive, and if Laura can't enjoy the rides due to the blood thinners maybe it makes more sense to pay down the credit cards, or at least not spend down the market-battered nest egg. On the other hand, even if Laura can't enjoy the rides we'd enjoy spending time with my siblings quite a bit. I still have to see if I can get the time off of work anyway, so I guess it's a bit premature to worry about that.
Speaking of worry, I'm dreading work this week. Not because I don't love my job (because I do!) but because of the volume of end-of-quarter work that needs doing. I'm involved in four separate situations involving last-minute problems and potential big money... it would be exhausting to think about, even if I wasn't already exhausted from day-to-day living right now.
I did have some interesting dreams last night -- in one, I was onstage. I'm not sure exactly what my act was, but I was fairly content and comfortable up there, whatever I was doing. There was a guy in the audience in a wheelchair, near the front, and I asked him his name, which was Joe. Someone in his group made a "Hey Joe" joke, and I replied that if I was closer to the drum kit I'd have given the rimshot myself. Everyone in the audience laughed, which surprised me and made me smile.
In another dream, I was trying to explain to someone why they were having more trouble writing their second novel than they did writing their first. I had two foam rings of exactly the same size, with the hole in the middle of each ring also the exact same size. I had a ball that exactly fit the hole, and I asked the novelist to pass the ball through the first ring. No problem.
I asked him to pass it through the second ring, but he couldn't fit it through. He measured and confirmed that the holes were exactly the same size, then tried again. Still no luck. I asked him what accompanied the ball on the second time through that ring that wasn't there the first time around. He didn't know. I answered: ego.
We welcome you to come support Jon and Laura as they say goodbye to Ezra Daniel
Sunday March, 8th 2008
Evergreen-Washelli Funeral Home
11111 Aurora Ave N
Seattle, WA 98133
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to 826 Seattlehttp://www.826seattle.org/
Please RSVP for details about luncheon to follow
We finally got back from the hospital yesterday evening, and had dinner with some family before they left. (Laura's mother is still in town a few more days.)
When my stepmother died, Laura had a taste of what sitting shiva is like, and I think she found it comforting. We're adapting the tradition, in our own way. So we would very much appreciate folks local to Seattle stopping by in the afternoons and evenings this week, to keep us company. Some folks have offered to bring food, but feel free to bring nothing besides your company.
If you're planning to stop by, please feel free to check in via e-mail or calling us, so that we can make sure things aren't too crowded. (I don't imagine it would be a problem, but it's true also that we'll be going out at least some of the time and I'd hate for people to stop by when we're not here...)
We haven't yet had the opportunity or energy to respond individually to everyone who has offered their love and support, but please understand it's deeply appreciated at this time.