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35 entries from June 2006

Three-hour dinner

Nectar was a good restaurant, all the more so for being about 50 yards from our hotel room. Our server, whose name might have been Nicole but I didn’t pay attention that closely at the start and I’ve since had a couple glasses of wine, was quite pleasant and eager and, when she heard we were visiting from Seattle and would in fact be partaking of the wine-touring experience for which the Sonoma and Napa regions are most known, gave us a bit of a wine-country lesson on how one can think of the various types of wines as similar to different types of milk in the mouthfeel* department. You know, how whole milk feels very rich and has a lot of body to it, and the milks with lesser amounts of milkfat feel a bit a less substantial in the mouth all the way down to the fat-free stuff which is just white water and how absurd is that?, and wines have a similar quality and we should be sure to pay attention to the mouthfeel while we’re on the wine tours.

Charming young woman, she got a good tip. And the meal was good too.

Continue reading "Three-hour dinner" »


Walking the OSU area; 8 hours on the road to Sonoma

We had our coffee and spent an hour or so on a walking tour of the Oregon State University campus, complete to Julie Anne’s reminiscences about parties and student-government events and the reconstruction of the food-court section of OSU’s Memorial Union (the fabric they chose for the booth upholstery is still in really good condition, 10 years later) and the tradition of the newly elected student-government officers’ Champagne-atop-the-Union antics.

Flickr photo sharing: Callahan Hall at Oregon State University
Callahan Hall at Oregon State University
Flickr: Don Nunn

Julie Anne’s first campus residence.
It was some sort of event weekend for future students, so there were all the incoming freshmen wandering campus with their parents and carrying bags from the university bookstore with various OSU-labeled merchandise, school spirit oozing out of the cracks in the sidewalk. Took me right back to my days at USC and less so to my Westminster stint.

The walking tour complete, it was time to make our way south toward the Sonoma and Napa regions. We’d figured the drive at about 9 hours but finished it in just barely 8, partly due to my lead-foot ways but mostly due to Google Maps’ conservative time estimations (does anyone actually drive at 60mph anymore?). Also Google’s directions blew chunks, so we actually followed Yahoo Maps’ and their time estimate was better anyway.

Tonight we’re staying in the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country, which is actually in Santa Rosa west of the Napa Valley proper. Turns out, if the sights and sounds of the drive in were any indication, that Santa Rosa is also a bit of a pickup-trucks-and-cowboy-hats industrial area, the type you see at the edge of the agricultural regions of many states, so we’ll be navigating our way along some back roads to get into the St. Helena and Napa areas tomorrow.

We’re having dinner at Nectar, the hotel’s restaurant. Has a nice patio with glass walls and a couple of fire pits, along with radiant heaters everywhere, so we should be nice and toasty as the cool breezes pick up when the sun sets. Tomorrow we’ll drive to St. Helena and tomorrow afternoon check in at the River Terrace Inn in Napa, our first (and one of just two) two-night hotel bookings on the trip.

Off to find a glass of wine, then. :-)


Da Vinci view

Flickr photo sharing: Da Vinci View
Da Vinci View
Flickr: Don Nunn
For Julie Anne, inspired by the Vienna Teng song Shasta (Carrie’s Song).

The full story, with relevant song lyrics excerpted:

I introduced my good friend Julie Anne to Vienna Teng’s music in 2005, and it quickly grew to become one of her favorites. Julie Anne has, however, a reputation for mishearing lyrics, and Shasta (Carrie’s Song) was to be no exception.

For more than a year, Julie Anne had been hearing three words incorrectly in the opening verses of the song:

so far so good
you’re coming to the bend at the end of the road
you put a hand to the belly that’s foreign more
with every day like an oversize load

and you’re thinking about clouds the color of fire
and the scent of an orange peel
the way Mt. Shasta explodes into windshield view
and your hands steady on the wheel

She heard them as “in Da Vinci view,” which she explained made sense because, hey, when Mt. Shasta does explode into view as you drive along I-5, it’s a beautiful sight to behold, the way Da Vinci’s masterpieces are beautiful.

I nearly went into a coma from the 15 minutes of convulsive laughter I experienced when she told me this story.

Ask me sometime about Myza Georgia (no idea how Julie Anne actually spells it). :-)

:: • :: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Separately, this is one of my favorite songs because it happened to be playing on the six-CD set of mix music I put together for the drive from Seattle to Phoenix in April 2004. At the moment the lyric “The way Mt. Shasta explodes into windshield view” was playing, we rounded a corner on southbound I-5 and the mountain did in fact come into view.

It’s the single most powerful momentary memory of any road trip I’ve experienced.


The drive to Oregon

We drove from Lower Queen Anne in Seattle to Corvallis, OR, yesterday afternoon. I left my house at 13:00 and didn’t arrive at Julie Anne’s until 14:00, so we were on the road for a little over 4 hours between Seattle and Corvallis—nice quick and uneventful drive.

Arrived at the Super 8 Motel at 407 NW 2nd St, checked in, and walked the one block to McMenamins Corvallis—fantastic planning on Julie Anne’s part, booking a hotel within easy stumbling distance of the brewpub—for dinner with Julie Anne’s brother Dave’s in-laws, who live in Corvallis. After dinner, the in-laws said goodbye and we stayed behind for another pitcher or two, the better to get into Vacation Mode that much faster.

McMenamins Corvallis exterior
McMenamins Corvallis exterior
(shamelessly stolen from their web site)
We were pleasantly buzzed but not at all drunk when we walked back to the hotel and collapsed into bed, the idea being that we would wake up whenever we stirred naturally and wander around downtown Corvallis and the Oregon State University campus so Julie Anne could show me all her old haunts and point out the locations of various College Antics stories I’ve heard over the last 18 months. But since we’re both accustomed to earlier hours, we both woke up with the sunrise and we were showered, clothed, and packed by 07:30.

Now, a little before 08:00, we’re about to check out of the hotel and head off into the day.

And that means: Time for coffee!


On the road again . . . .

I’m headed, in about 90 minutes, out the door on a road trip to Oregon and northern California. In rough (planned) chronological order, I’ll be partaking in all or most of these events and locations tonight through next week:

Along the way, we’ll be staying in half a dozen or so hotels, many for a single night and a couple for two nights each, and putting about 3,000 miles on my Escape.

I’m planning on making some updates while we’re on the road, but knowing me I’ll instead only make notes and then massage them into a travelogue of sorts after the fact. I imagine this will be true most for the Sonoma/Napa part of the trip, because I’ll want to record some notes about the wines we taste and the vineyards we visit but it’s very likely I’ll wait to publish those until we’re back so I can include label imagery and whatnot. And, of course, a bottle count, because I have a feeling my wine collection, weenie as it is so far, will grow by quite a bit over the next several days.

Until I return, wishing you a good weekend and a safe and happy Independence Day holiday. :-)


Links for 2006-06-28


The trip to Salt Lake City

Katharine and I hit the road bright and early yesterday morning and made the thankfully uneventful drive to Salt Lake City in a little over 12 hours of road time.

Boring drive, in fact. Kat slept now and then, I listened to CDs on the stereo, we ran into a few areas of highway construction in OR and ID where they’d closed stretches of highway down to a single lane in each direction but were working on just the last quarter-mile of pavement.

We had dinner on the patio at Squatters—they’re in the throes of construction for a new restaurant they’re opening on the second floor; the character of the place has changed quite a bit with the construction changes—and now I’m trying to relax and wind down a bit more so I can get some sleep.

Happy weekend, everyone. :-)


Links for 2006-06-21


Links for 2006-06-19


Washington Brewers’ Festival 2006

I spent Sat 06/17 afternoon at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion area for the Washington Brewers’ Festival, the Washington Brewers Guild’s take on what for several years had been a festival held at St. Edward State Park in Kenmore. Bold Hat Productions earlier this year decided they were going to concentrate on charitable event productions, however, so the Guild renamed the summer brewfest and moved it to Seattle Center, where it may very well enjoy a long and healthy life in a more centrally located area.

Washington Brewers’ Festival 2006 logoThe festival suffered from some first-year bumps, however. First and foremost, no minors were allowed in the beer garden—a marked contrast to the Kenmore-based festival, where the entire festival grounds were open to everyone and the wristbands on the beer drinkers verified that their ID had been checked and that they had paid the correct admission charge. Yesterday we all wore wristbands but that was only to distinguish the beer drinkers from the teetotalers; the under-21 set had to stay entirely outside the fenced-in beer garden on the lawn rising slightly away from Fisher Pavilion.

It also meant that the food booths (the two I saw, anyway) were located outside the beer garden proper, so anyone who wanted to get a burrito or a sausage had to leave the garden to do so, and then go through a re-entry rigmarole (wristband check, ID check, whatever) to get back in. Struck me as extremely inefficient.

The entry process for the ticket area was pretty slow as well. The festival ran 12:00 to 20:00 Saturday; I arrived with my friends Julie Anne and Sonya about 12:45. We’d bought tickets in advance so had to go through will call, but there was no separate will-call entrance; instead, we waited in the regular lines with everyone else. When we reached the counters, I gave my name and showed ID and credit card to verify I was the person who’d made the ticket purchases, after which our wristbands were cinched on (yowza, man, a bit looser next time!) and we made our way into the beer-garden area.

And there were no craft booths this year, which was one of the things I really liked about the festival when it was St. Edward. There was a little arts festival of sorts right on the same grounds, you could wander with your beer tastes and have a look at the wares of a few craftspeople or get a chair-based massage or watch the kids’ play area directly and not have to gaze over a fence.

The brewers’ booths were set up inside the Pavilion area so they had full covered shade, which was actually kinda nice. But it made the place insanely crowded as the afternoon wore on and more people arrived. I have no idea what the facility’s capacity is rated, but it was nearly wall-to-wall people in there by the time we left a little before 17:00.

We wandered the booths and found a few brews well worth seeking out again. Some of our favorites were there, as usual: Pyramid (I didn’t have anything from them), Elliott Bay Brewing, Silvery City, Hale’s Ales, and others. And we tried some tasty new beers as well, from Roslyn Brewing in Roslyn, WA, and Water Street Brewing in Port Townsend and Pacific Crest Brewing in Tukwila.

Overall, no standout tastes. We didn’t eat anything at the festival because we were barbecuing at Julie Anne’s after we left, so we didn’t even see how the food prices were, but the additional beer tastes were $2 apiece (a single ticket) and the little souvenir taster glass was probably 5 or 6 ounces—a bit steep for me. They had a couple of wineries represented too, and the wine tastes were two tickets ($4!) each, so we stayed away from those and just enjoyed our slow sipping while we lounged on the lawn and watched the people.

I think the Washington Brewers’ Festival could become an incredibly event at Seattle Center after they’ve had a chance to iron out a few of the kinks from this first attempt. If nothing else, they need to figure out how to open the entire festival grounds to all ages so minors aren’t segregated from their parents at all, and so people can get to and from the food and vendors’ booths much more easily. And they definitely to bring back the crafts booths, at least a few of them. The spinal-adjustment booth and the sunglasses sales booth just didn’t do it for me.

A list of the beers we tried, with brewery name and link if available, in the order we tried. Normally Katharine would have been our Beer Tasting Information Recorder, but she was under the weather, so I had to rely on remembering to whip out my handheld computer and scribble things with its free-hand notes program; it took a while to interpret my chickenscratch tonight:

  1. Anacortes Brewing cask-conditioned IPA
  2. Hale’s Ales Kölsch
  3. Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company Hefewizen
  4. Silver City Restaurant & Brewery Fat Bastard Scotch Ale (we had this Mar 24 at the Brewmasters Dinner at Ray’s Café)
  5. Roslyn Brewing Company Pale Lager
  6. Roslyn Brewing Company Dark Lager
  7. Northern Lights Brewing Dunkel (delicious chocolatey flavor)
  8. Water Street Brewing & Ale House Red (not sure if it had another name)
  9. Wyder’s pear cider
  10. Pacific Crest Brewery Maibock
  11. Pacific Crest Brewery Red
  12. Georgetown Brewing Company Roger’s Pilsner
  13. Big E RedHead (I think that was its name)
  14. Flyers Restaurant & Brewery Catalina Pale Ale (again, not sure of the beer name)
  15. Elliott Bay Brewery Pub Orange Infusion (we each had this one a few times)

Man kills wife, puts her severed head in truck, causes deadly traffic collision

Another reason to consider Boise nothing more than a fuel stop on the trip between Seattle and Salt Lake City:

CNN.com: Severed head flies from truck in ‘bizarre and tragic’ collision

BOISE, Idaho (AP)—A man transporting his wife’s severed head in a pickup truck collided with an oncoming car, killing a woman and her 4-year-old daughter, police said. The impact sent the head flying onto the road.

A Boise police officer was driving behind Alofa Time’s truck on a busy road when he noticed the man’s erratic driving and then watched him slam into the car, police spokeswoman Lynn Hightower said.

Time, 51, who was not injured, told officers he was involved his wife’s death, investigators said.

After searching Time’s house in Nampa, police found the decapitated body of 47-year-old Theresa N. Time in a car inside the garage, authorities said. She likely had been dead for several hours, Nampa Police Lt. LeRoy Forsman said.

An autopsy was scheduled next week to determine Theresa Time’s cause of death, Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus-Morris said.

Time was being held on two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Samantha Nina Murphy, 36, of Boise, and her daughter Jae Lynne Grimes. Murphy’s other daughter was injured and was in stable condition at a Boise hospital.

“It was one of the more horrific and complex crime scenes on memory,” Hightower said. “A woman and her child killed in a crash, and a severed head from an earlier homicide: It’s nothing short of bizarre and tragic.”

It’s baaaaaack. . . .

It was silent for two weeks but it returned this morning.

“It” is a commenter using the name Michael Manfredi. I first encountered this commenter on my May 23 “By the numbers” posting, again on the May 24 “Memory lapses” entry. Then the quiet period until today.

A Google search for “Michael Manfredi” returns links to, among others,

  • an apparently well-regarded New York-based architect
  • a Maryland-based Realtor
  • a youth indoor soccer player in Las Vegas
  • a Wake Forest 2005 football wide receiver
  • a New York pediatrician

According to my server logs, the person at the IP addresses from which “Michael Manfredi’s” comments originated uses a Mac OS X machine with Firefox 1.5.0.x at 1280x1024 resolution. The IP addresses identify as Qwest.net pool addresses in Bremerton, WA (first comment IP address; second IP address), which by itself leads me to believe my buddy “Michael” is none of the persons noted above. I like architecture and college football, might give those Michaels and me something to talk about. Medicine’s an interesting topic though I’ve no background in it, and I don’t much care about real estate or youth soccer, so those three Michaels and I wouldn’t do much else but stare at each other.

No, I think this person is someone I know but not well enough to recognize the writing style, hence the busting of the chops. I can’t imagine some total stranger wasting his time in such a manner, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised if that’s how it shakes out.

Whoever he is, he sure does like my site, in his charming little “damn your site sucks” way. How else to explain nearly 200 repeat visits logged from that IP address since his first appearance in late May?

So welcome back, “Michael.” And stick around, you’re by far my most amusing hater.


Our own Mentos + Diet Coke attempt

Diet Coke + Mentos: Laboratory Edition
Preparing for the explosion
The recent spate of video clips depicting teens and college students dropping Mentos into 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke inspired one of the project managers to try it for herself. She showed up Friday with several bottles of Diet Coke, a few boxes of Mentos, and a determined look in her eye.

Today she wanted to find out if she got the Mentos into the Diet Coke bottle and then rapidly clamped the lid back on the bottle, would the pressure from the released carbon dioxide blow out the bottle?

Operative phrase: “rapidly clamped the lid back on the bottle”—QuickTime video evidence (opens in a new window).


HUMP

A not-at-all-exhaustive rundown of things to which I’m looking forward, in no particular order:


Three discoveries, one familiar taste

Had an extraordinarily pleasant afternoon and evening. I found a new coffee house and two new musicians, and I had dinner at an old favorite from my first visit to Seattle in 1999.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

This morning I somehow came across an Upcoming.org event listing for Kris Orlowski’s performance at C & P Coffee Co. in West Seattle (map). I say “somehow came across” because I rarely just browse the listings on Upcoming.org, and I don’t remember doing that today—too much in the way of events that don’t appeal to me, it’s easier to use sites like NWSource.com or Seattle Weekly for more targeted event info.

Figured it out: Discovered the event via Upcoming.org’s Seattle events feed, which I watch in Google CalendarSo when I found the listing for Kris’s performance at C & P, I clicked it to see what it was about, and eventually clicked through the listing to Kris’s web site (link above), where there were a couple songs for download. Immediately I liked the sound so I checked further for links to a site for C & P or anything else I might find and within a short time I’d decided I was going to make a trek to West Seattle this afternoon.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

C & P Coffee Co. logoC & P is in a converted house. The living room is the main seating area, with a slightly raised stage at one end and chairs, sofas, and tables arranged about the room in small conversation circles. I took a seat right before the stage, maybe seven or eight feet from the performers, so I could see all the machinations (fingers plucking, foot switches and pedals, you name it) the entire time.

The event listing mentioned Travis Hartnett, but I hadn’t looked up anything about him, so I had no idea what to expect. And I was extraordinarily pleased when he opened the show with his acoustic guitar. He played several songs—didn’t announce their titles and I wasn’t keeping a close count, but his set lasted about 50 minutes and must have included 8 or 9 songs anyway. I was amazed. The music was fantastic and watching him play was just astounding. It was incredibly engaging, made the show so much more interesting as Hartnett plugged his way through his set. I’ve seen solo acoustic musicians perform loops before, but never as intricately as these seemed to be.

When Hartnett finished his set, he quickly broke down his equipment so Orlowski could take the stage with plenty of time before C & P’s 20:00 closing time. While Hartnett was putting his equipment away, I asked if he had a CD, and he handed me a self-produced CD a few minutes later with seven tracks. He told me most of the songs he’d played tonight, and sure enough I recognize them as they’re playing while I write this. And I see tonight that his web site has several other songs for downloading—go get ’em.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Hartnett’s equipment break-down completed, Orlowski took the stage.

He didn’t have a microphone so his slightly amplified acoustic guitar was initially in danger of drowning out his voice, but he checked with the audience several times to ensure we could hear him well, and he played a quick succession of songs in a 30-minute set. He seemed a bit nervous at first but quickly came into his own, all the more engaging because it was so genuine. Since I’d only known his name for, what, about 10 hours by that point, I didn’t recognize any of the songs by the titles he gave, but his sound and style appealed to me enormously. He has an energetic playing style and his songs run the gamut from slower and almost soulful to fast and almost happy-sounding, though in all honesty I don’t remember the lyrics so I could be absolutely wrong about that. But his voice and guitar-playing are an incredible match for each other.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for additional performances and for his album releases. I recommend you scurry right over to his site and check out a couple of his songs.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

The performances ended, I talked briefly with both musicians—I wanted to be sure Orlowski knew I’d found out about him via his Upcoming.org event listing, I don’t imagine many musicians get much feedback when they post their gigs there. I left just before 20:00 for the drive north but decided a patio dining experience was in order, and since I’d be driving right past the Seattle waterfront, the choice was easy.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

I arrived at Bell Street Diner about 10 minutes later (the traffic gods were smiling upon me, apparently) and walked into the middle of Prom Night Hell. I requested a table for one, outside please, and waited in the bar for about 15 minutes while huge crowds of men screamed insanely over whatever NBA game was on tonight (I’m pretty sure we’re in the 13th month of the 2005-06 NBA season finals series, for crying out loud). But soon enough they called my name and I followed the greeter-girl personage outside to my table.

I was seated directly under a heater. It’s a beautiful evening, so I was plenty warm already and I was afraid the heater would make me hot, but I lucked out. I barely noticed it after the first minute or so, in fact.

My server, Vanessa, arrived shortly after I was seated. I ordered a cup of the white clam chowder—theirs is one of my favorite chowders, I look forward to it every time I go there—and the alder-planked Copper River sockeye salmon, because it’s Copper River salmon season and it’s practically a law that you have to have Copper River salmon in the seafood restaurants when it’s Copper River salmon season. Helps that I like Copper River salmon, so I was more than willing to comply, but as it happened, they were out of Copper River sockeye salmon, and the Copper River king salmon was chargrilled, and I really wanted the planking. But I wasn’t in the mood for halibut, the other fish they prepare by plank-cooking, so instead I fell back to my usual, the shrimp fettucini. Which rocks utterly.

Some minutes went by and the clam chowder arrived, and about two minutes after that the fettucini arrived. I was enjoying the evening so I’d had maybe a third of the chowder by then, which meant in the time it took me to finish the chowder, the fettucini went from steaming hot to mildly cold in places, which fact I pointed out to Vanessa when she stopped by the table to check on me a while later. She nearly fell over herself apologizing for her mistake in timing the orders, offered to bring out a freshly prepared entrée immediately, but I didn’t want this one to go to waste, I merely wanted to be sure I’d brought it to her attention. In any event, it tasted really good with the temperature variations. I’m strange that way, I like hot and cold spots in my pasta dishes sometimes.

Turned out I wasn’t as hungry as I thought anyway, so I asked for a box for the remainder of my meal (this dish reheats very well) and when the check arrived, I was pleased to see the entrée had been comped, and the manager stopped by the table to apologize again for the timing, he recognized me from previous visits and hoped I’d return soon.

Which I will, and not just because I like the food.


Links for 2006-06-04


Crazy detailed music meme

Courtesy of Mena who got it from Ben who in turn got it from Krissy. I used stats from iTunes, which has far more complete play counts than my last.fm page.

Name your top 10 most played bands:

About music sharing

Music I’m willing to share is linked directly from this page. No link, no sharing—don’t email asking for files.

  1. Vienna Teng
  2. Eastmountainsouth
  3. Sarah McLachlan
  4. The Fat Lady Sings
  5. Grey Eye Glances
  6. Paul Spaeth
  7. Hanson (!)
  8. 10,000 Maniacs
  9. Enya
  10. October Project

What was the first song you ever heard by 6 (Paul Spaeth)?
“Celtic Legend”, via a free download at Amazon.com Music.

What is your favorite album by 2 (Eastmountainsouth)?
This duo only has one album, their self-titled debut. They’ve since gone on to solo careers.

Continue reading "Crazy detailed music meme" »


Links for 2006-06-03


Most recent “where the hell did [month] go?” lament

Jun 01 already, which means only ~21 more lengthening days followed by the inevitable slide toward winter.

It’s strange, because I like autumn and winter more overall than spring and summer. I like the clothes better, many of the events and holidays and such appeal to me more. Can’t beat those 15-hour days in Seattle, though. I absolutely love those long days.

Today marked the laboratory’s monthly department managers’ meeting. It was more than two hours long, scheduled to start at 12:00 so many of us took our lunches in. Over the discussions of vacation schedules and turn-around times and various other lab concerns rose the crunching of potato chips and the snapping of Rubbermaid containers and the occasional SFISH sound of a soda bottle’s cap being loosened in preparation for another refreshing gulp.

Right now I’ve no idea what we talked about. I’m too busy watching the clouds scud by as our latest series of small storms blows through, and I’m about to head out the door for the evening and the anticipation is killing me. Good thing I took notes at the meeting so I know what I’m supposed to be doing for the next couple weeks.