Sunday, September 14, 2008

City Boy

Don't get me wrong, I like living in Los least the part that is near the ocean. But every once in a while, I find myself split by the confines a city creates.

There's nothing like being in a big city, with all the different people hovering around for different reasons. Your senses are constantly excited and challenged. For me, the real draw comes with food and entertainment. 10 minutes from where I live, I can sample creations from anywhere on the planet and hear people from different cultures spin into the meld of the city. That's cool.

But this whole stimulating existing counters right up against some other basic desires I have.

I want to live by a stream
I want to grow fields and fields of cilantro and pick olives from orchards.
I want a 1951 pickup truck (red, of course) that I can take to a smaller, local town with dirt streets and guys sitting on porches.
I want a barn, with that great old wood/oil smell, where I can build furniture and not have to worry about cleaning up.

So, you see, these country stylings are in direct contrast to my city life and, unless I make 18 billion dollars and buy a canyon or a hill on the city outskirts, they will never live in harmony. At some point, one will give.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The L.A. BBQfest is coming!

How perfect does the smell of hickory BBQ, the beach and a Johnny Cash cover band sound? Anyplace that Baby Blues BBQ serves up their love is good with me.

I am so there.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Gargantuan Return

Been way, way, way too long. The spread of my family, finding new means of putting thai food and sushi on the table, and the undeniable proof of some sort of mental tilt -- has kept me away past my shore leave.

So, I return -- with goodies.

This kid should have a show of his own -- or more schooling.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Chris Anderson has a wonderful essay about the whole notion of the free economy in this month's wired.

Click. It don't cost nothin'

Thursday, January 31, 2008


I had some family health issues to deal with recently, and I was reminded of a book I read recently by a business acquaintance. There was a particular section that I found very helpful this past weel; I will include some of it below:

The wise words of FDR, “The only thing wqe have to fear is fear itself,” might be amended by nature to “There is nothing to fear unless and until you feel fear.” Worry, wariness, anxiety and concern all have a purpose, but they are not fear. So any time your dreaded outcome cannot be reasonably linnked to pain or death and it isn’t a signal in the presence of danger, then it really shouldn’t be confused with fear. It may well be something worth trying to understand and manage, but worry will not bring solutions. It willl more likely distract you from finding solutions.

In the original form of the word, to worry someone else was to harass, strangle, or choke them. Liekwise, to worry oneself is a form of self-harassment. To give it less of a role in our lives, we must understand what it really is.

Worry is the fear we manufacture — it is not authentic. If you choose to worry about something, have at it, but do so knowing it is a choice. Most often, we worry because it provides some secondary reward. There are many variations, but a few of the most popular follow.

*Worry is a way to avoid change; when we worry, we don’t do anything about the matter.

*Worry is a way to avoid admitting powerlessness over something, since worry feels like we’re doing something. (Prayer also makes us feel like we’re doing something, and even the most committed agnostic will admit that prayer is more productive than worry.)

*Worry is a cloying way to have connection with others, the idea being that to worry about someone shows love. The other side of this is the belief that not worrying about someone means you don’t care about them. As many worried-about people will tell you, worry is a poor substitute for love or for taking loving action.

*Worry is a protection against future disappointment. After taking an important test, for example, a student might worry about whether he failed. If he can feel the experience of failure now, rehearse it, so to speak, by worrying about it, then failing won’t feel as bad when it happens. But there’s an interesting trade-off: Since he can’t do anything about it at this point anyway, would he rather spend those same two days not worrying, and then learn he failed? Perhaps most importantly, would he want to learn he had passed the test and spent two days of anxiety for nothing?"

The Gift of Fear
by Gavin DeBecker

Friday, January 18, 2008

Who Says Kids Watch Too Much TV?

Office #3

With a newborn at home and the office suite next door doing some Concrete Plishing, I had to get a temporary new office. I could get used to this.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Great Journey of Sauce

I usually cringe when I pass the salsa section in the market. Beyond the simple vinegar/pepper basic sauces like Cholula or Tabasco, there has never been one that doesn't end up reminding me of bad airports and 2AM meals. The manufacturers of these so-called salsas take the most over-ripe, watery, tasteless tomatoes, mix some vinegar and lots of salt together with what has to be a cup of sugar, to make something that resembles face paint. For the "chunky" versions, they might throw in some odd-shaped thing that crunches, but I could never get beyond the clumpy sauce to see if it was, in fact, a vegetable, fruit or Styrofoam. I suppose there is a place for these sauces -- perhaps on the edge of a chip at a SuperBowl party where you are more interested in what your date/football buddy/drunk/friend/accountant is saying than what you are putting in your mouth.

The newest craze is adding the smoky flavor of Chipotle to these sugar soup salsas, as reminders that there is still some spice in the world that can be marketed and sold as new and improved and invoke some emotion of salsa's original origin.

I remember reading Rick Bayless' classic cookbook when I was a teenager, and I was impressed that a white guy from Oklahoma could nail authentic Mexican cooking so well. The only other white person who "got it" was Jane Butel, the so-called Mother of Tex-Mex, who looked remarkably similar to Betty Crocker but really knew how to hang further South. In fact, if there wasn't such an age difference between the two, I would have really liked seeing the two of them get together as a couple, if only to get invited over to their house for dinner.

So there I am, wheeling my cart with one jammed wheel that wobbles and forces me to compensate else Taquitos will fly, and I decide to take a break in front of the salsa section to rest my driving arm.

Side-story: My wife is VERY, VERY, VERY pregnant, and I find myself making more trips than usual to the supermarket to help out with things, because the last thing I want to do is tell my future kid that he/she was born in the milk section of the supermarket when Mom reached up to the top shelf, while Dad stayed home watching "Scrubs." No, I would rather it be me answering the cell phone in the milk aisle and dashing over the cash register line ala O.J. Simpson to my car, speeding home with a police escort and huffing into the house to find my wife on the couch in labor; and moments later, a child.

And, even though this is our second kid, the whole fatherhood journey repeating again is making me somewhat nervous, and I find myself once again asking the bigger questions in life, though in a mellower and less edgy way. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, imagine a naked whitewater rafting trip where you get tossed around and eventually end up underneath an overturned raft, freezing, bruised, and hurtling down torrid rapids that never seem to end. No, it's not that feeling. That's the first kid.

This is like the same boat, same river, but you're just starting out, and you're no longer scared of capsizing because you know you WILL capsize; it's just a question of when. Yes, that's what it's like.

But I digress.

Most people in "life changing" emotional situations find outlets for their feelings -- Guys have bachelor parties, women have baby showers; me, I stand behind my gimp shopping cart and stare at fake tomato condiments.

And as I stood there, exhausted, awash in the green fluorescent, indirect light, perceptively moaning along to the Kenny G playing over the loudspeaker between ads for Jimmy Dean sausage, I fought the urge to topple my handicapped cart and reach over with one hand and destroy all these impostor salsas, just wipe them into the air and onto the linoleum below for some scary bagboy to mop away after I had been hauled away.

I spent 10 minutes in this coma, and finally came to the realization that I was too tired to go home and make some good salsa myself, but that this salsa aisle represented something bigger. I figured that if I could find a good salsa amongst all these mass-marketed, low-cost "grabbers" just by looking at the ingredients and what shined through from inside the bottle, well then, there might just be hope for our misdirected, consumer driven, idealistic society; and, yes, even perhaps my own future as a father.

If there's one thing we should be able to control in our lives, it oughta be our condiments.

This is what goes through the mind of an expectant 2nd time father. It's not pretty, it's not much fun, but like most such things, it's all about the journey and not the destination, so it's better to just sit back and let the insanity run.

So I did. All 48 bottles, from chunky to green to Pineapple to Lime to Cheese. More MSG and crap that you didn't even knew existed. The ice cream in my pseudo-cart melted, the chicken started to smell and some old lady with a bag on her head was staring at me like i was crazy, but I pressed on, jumping from mass-produced shlock from the same company that brought us Baken Ets, to some salsa from Norway made of salmon mousse, which, the last time I checked, was not salsa but actually fish.

Finally, it was done. It was time to go. I had reacquainted myself with my least favorite condiment and, through the process, discovered what I thought was a decent looking candidate. The boat had been flipped over and I could catch my breath again.

My cart and I did s-turns to the checkout conveyor and, later, I loaded my bags in the car. The air was cool that night and a full moon was just rising over the telephone poles in the distance.

What? The salsa? Oh, yes. Remember Rick Bayliess? Turns out he has made one of the best jarred Chipotle's I have tasted. There still might be hope for him and Jane. I wonder how many kids he has.