Sunday, August 31, 2008
Fremont’s own chocolate factory: Theo Chocolate. What a delight to visit their showroom in the old Trollyman Pub (used to be owned by Redhook). Some would be sorry about the beer company moving out, but when a chocolate factory is the new tenant, it’s sooo-long alcohol and hello theobroma. The old pub is now the chocolate maker’s showroom. You can walk in and sample chocolate until you are literally sick. The chocolate is arranged on granite slaps before each product. My favorite is the 3400 Phinney Chocolate bar called the Bread and Chocolate Dark Chocolate: “featuring dark chocolate with buttery, toasted artisan breadcrumbs and the perfect amount of salt.” The line is named 3400 Phinney because that’s the address of the factory.
If you want, you can take a factory tour.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
In this clip from 1967, can you tell what Mina is selling?
She is selling Barilla pasta. But before that she is singing (I think) that she loves a man who knows how to smoke; that’s a real man. Then at the end she says how Barilla pasta reveals the grand chef in you! (Our friends transcribed it to: "un capolavoro di cucina insieme voi e barilla, c'e una gran cuoca in voi e barilla la rivela". Grazie a N.) In this related YouTube video, you even get cooking tips for the pasta (at the end of the music video naturally).
Other carosello and Mina links.
What do these three things have in common? Perhaps nothing really, but in my early-morning, crow-cawing-pierced, groggy Saturday morning mind they all united in a common theme: fascination with the “top dog” to the exclusion of everything else. I know, sour grapes in regards to Phelps and his medals, but it did not sit well with me the response and media coverage of his effort. It seemed so over-the-top to the exclusion of all other possible stories. Now a pending book. Then throw in another Bigfoot hoax. People just want to believe there is a “big guy”, a “top dog” out there waiting to be discovered. The "discovery" was complete with an official news conference put on by the two car salesmen who made the find. Psst, hey reporters, you know that Bigfoot doesn’t exist and besides (exclusion theme) we have so many other serious problems (war, poverty, etc.) to deal with? Finally, there is the vice president choice for the two presidential candidates. Does it matter? Not really according to many and it displays our endless fascination with the “top dog”. In an interesting piece called The Conquest of Presidentialism, presidentialism as defined by Vanderbilt professor Dana Nelson is: our paternalistic view that presidents are godlike saviors—and therefore democracy’s only important figures. In the same piece there is a reference to a quote by Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 1859), a French historian who made some astute observations about 19th century American democracy that are still relevant today, which I’ll repeat here. The quote refers to our capability to select leaders. True or false?
“It is in vain to summon a people, which has been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.” (Democracy in America, Volume 2)
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
What did I expect? A new device running a Windows OS (on Samsung BlackJack II -previous post) and with a day or so I need to tweak the registry. To tweak the registry I used CeRegEdit. Why? Because I connected to an Exchange Server in the sky and it squirted some security policy changes down to my phone so that it would not let me select “Prompt if device unused for” checkbox. This meant I had to enter a complicated password every time I unlocked. I’m fine as long as I was talking to Exchange, but after I discontinued that partnership/connection I should at least have the phone go back to the way it was. But no. I followed the advice in this post and it worked great. Basically, connect to the registry of the device and change the HKLM/Security/Policies/Policies/00001023 to 1. Ironically, I think having a password is good, just that I want the flexibility to determine when I want it.
The password settings in Windows Mobile located under Start\Settings\Security\Device Lock.
Monday, August 18, 2008
As I was taking a last look at all the watches we collected over the last 20+ years I just had to hear Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes. In my head, somehow the watches reminded me of the Disco Tex’s classics: I Wanna Dance Wit’ Choo and Get Dancin' ("...my chiffon is wet darling..."). The watches were in a brown paper back buried in the closet, much like many a Disco Tex record? Sorry, if these songs enter your brain.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Why oh why could we just not keep our old phones and save a bundle of money? No, instead we both have fancy new phones (the same), just different colors. (We get the same phones because one of us is hardware-challenged and relies on the other for instruction.) The phone: the Samsung BlackJack II. The screen is a little small-ish and the headphones and the USB are not standard. Also, can’t use my old SIM storage card because it takes a different sized one. So far, the jury is out. We are on a family plan which is suppose to save you money, but with the features we added is actually costing us more.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Last night we were eating at Blue Moon Burgers in the technology-canal-alley in Fremont (Adobe, Getty, Google, etc. reside there) when we discovered a new statue is to be unveiled in this corporate-park-lite (sorry, it’s not up to Fremont-funky yet). The new statues are just a couple of steps away from the (in)famous Waiting for the Interurban and a bit further from the Fremont Troll, Lenin, and the Rocket.
The new statue is a tribute to J.P. Patches the Clown. Who? J.P. Patches (aka Julius Pierpont Patches) was a clown portrayed by Seattle entertainer Chris Wedes (born 1928). The J.P. Patches show was the longest-running children’s television show in the U.S., appearing on Seattle’s KIRO channel for 23 years from 1958 to 1981. Its improv-nature and double entendres must have been a hit because the show is fondly remembered by several generations. We never saw it having moved to Seattle in the early 1990s. Sigh, non-natives just don’t understand. Well, we hope the statue is a smashing success and what’s not to like about some public art? Well some self-appointed hipsters already don’t like it – but the Stranger generally hates most anything that doesn’t pertain to sex.
Here is the kickoff video from last year with the mayor of Seattle.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The term “sprezzatura” may not be familiar to everyone. The book Sprezzatura* – 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the Word even footnotes the definition on the front cover: * “the art of effortless mastery”. Of course our faithful 6 Travelmarx readers may recall that we have already mentioned this in previous posts Baby You’ve Got Some Sprezzatura and Child Sprezzatura. In those posts we defined it as a certain nonchalance that makes what one does seem uncontrived and effortless.
The book in question is by Peter D’Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish. It consists of 50 short chapters or passages on different aspects of Italian genius. Mostly the genius is a person or persons, but a few cases the chapters deal with an entity like the Roman Republic or Venice. The book pretty much goes in chronological order but each chapter can be read in any order. (At Travelmarx we prefer to read starting from the back of the book. And in this case, this works well.)
The book reminds me a lot of the series Connections, because each chapter is like the start of a detective story. There are enough names and dates dropped in any given chapter to keep you researching for days. One detective story stood out for me is Chapter #31 Catherine de’ Medici: Godmother of French cuisine where we start with Catherine de’ Medici (1519 – 1589), talk about Platina’s Book – an Italian cookbook from 1474, the Sicilian Francesco Procopio and what he was doing in Paris, Café Procope, Maria de’ Medici (1575 – 1642) – another Medici French queen, and finally La Varenne (1618 – 1678) who worked in Maria’s kitchen.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Recently, we hung an Italian-flag windsock on our deck as a prop for an upcoming party and realized that the colors of Italian flag looked a lot like the Mexican flag on first glance. (A neighbor dutifully noted the windsock and commented that she was surprised because we were not “windsock” people.)
So what are the differences between the Italian and Mexican flags? The Italian flag is a vertical tricolor (in Italian Il Tricolore) of green, white, and red. The Mexican flag on first glance is the same except the there is a coat of arms in the center white stripe. However, there are a couple of subtle differences. The Italian flag uses lighter shades of green and red and the Italian flag has an aspect ratio (width:height) of 3:2 while the Mexican flag is 7:4.
The meaning of the colors for the Mexican flag likewise is not fixed, but can be taken to mean roughly: green = hope, white = purity and red = religion or the spilled blood of national heroes (as pointed out by one reader).
Friday, August 8, 2008
So I’m only biking about 8 miles a day, but it’s something. It makes the 2 hour (total) commute a little bit more palatable knowing that for half of it I’m getting a little exercise. I bike from Fremont to Montlake and then take a bus to the east side. I hope it doesn’t rain for the next year.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Week two of a contract position at a large software firm on the east side. Uh, which would that be? So far so good. Good team, good people, interesting work. The weirdest part is seeing faces I recognize from years ago on past assignments. This if followed by the inevitable search through the address book to see what fabulous title they have now and you don’t, then a sigh, and back to work.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
The first recommendation is K.D. Lang’s Watershed. By the second listen we were hooked. It’s laid back, restrained. The songs are deceptively simple and they are all similar in pace and delivery. This can have the effect of making the songs seem to blur together. For me the effect is dreamy – to each his own.
The second recommendation is Blame Sally’s Blame Sally. On the first play I was hooked. It’s the album I put on at work to pull me through the day. The opening strains of the wistful first track, Birds Fly South, let me know I can get through the rest of the day reasonably sane.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Knit 2, Purl 2. My new mantra. Hello knitting. We were taught by Noni. I’m making a scarf (how original) and Mark is making a pot holder that is knitted and then shrunk via washing (called felting). Knitting is actually very computer-like. The two knit stitches, knit and purl, are like ones and zeros. You can assemble them in endless patterns. A knit stitch on one side is a purl stitch on the other.
The toughest part about knitting for me is backing up when I made a mistake several stitches ago. Also, I hold my yarn too tight, so my stitches are quite dense.