May 23, 2004
I have to give credit to Michelle for this one.
Michelle and Michael were sitting near the front of the plane on the way back from Hawaii as the passengers filed onto the plane.
Just then, everyone's nightmare -- a toddler comes aboard screaming and sobbing. His mother is carrying the car seat and a million bags and simply cannot console this baby.
As they pass, Michael mutters (pretty loudly apparently), "Stupid crying baby."
During our vacation, I encountered an error downloading photos off my CompactFlash card (very bad.) Despite my prodigious troubleshooting efforts, I was unable to get the photos off the card. As I sat in frustration that morning in the hotel room, I was sure these were undoubtedly the best photos I'd ever taken.
I then remembered a conversation I had with a developer at Photokina (photography trade show) in Cologne, Germany a few years ago. He made a product called Photo Rescue for just such emergencies.
A quick download and some munging around later, I got all my photos off the card. They turned out not to be the best I'd ever taken, but they were important to me.
I highly recommend this app. I was well worth the $29.
While we were in Hawaii, I had the opportunity to make a dent in my reading list and finished off three very good books.
The first was The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. This is the story the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary and is centered around two men -- the chief editor and one of the primary contributors (who happens to be in an insane asylum.) This book was of particular interest to me since I worked on Microsoft Bookshelf (rest in peace) and the Encarta World English Dictionary. Aside from the interesting tale of the two men, it was interesting to me to see how we still fundamentally use the same techniques to create dictionaries today (albeit with much more technological assistance). Of course, it took the editors of the OED seventy years to create their first edition and less than five to create ours (admittedly the OED is a bit more comprehensive.)
The second was Cod by Mark Kurlansky. This is the same author who brought us Salt. It's a great read describing the key role of cod in history and how it helped drive exploration, trade, and ultimately history. It's also a very sobering story of the devestation man has caused. I'm hugely concerned about the virtual extinction of entire fisheries including cod, so despite the tantalizing cod recipes from throughout history scattered throughout the book, I'll have to pass on eating cod or salt cod. (Note, I think Salt was the more interesting book, although both are definitely worth reading.)
Finally, I read Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks. I didn't know much about Captain Kidd beyond the legends and Hollywood versions. Zacks paints a very different picture, one of a man who tried to do right and was left to hang (literally) by some of the richest men in American and England including the King of England. Aside from the compelling biography of Kidd, the book does a great job describing life in the 17th/18th centuries on board ships, in the seedier parts of town, in war, and in prisons (I'm very glad to be living in the 21st century.)
More than anything I was glad to get a chance to read something besides email and web pages for a while. I love reading and will try to keep reading for fun on top of my other commitments.
May 13, 2004
We've been in Hawaii for a week or so now, and I've had the good fortune to have played three rounds so far -- two on Mauna Lani South and one round at the legendary Mauna Kea. I finally broke 100 on my second round on Mauna Lani South (96)! Hurray! (Glad to get that stupid monkey off my back.) Turns out if you just don't screw up big you can break 100. I helped that I was hitting pretty well, especially off the tee.
Too bad I didn't take that lesson to heart on my round at Mauna Kea. Wow, what a beautiful and frickin' hard course (slope 134) from the blue tees. I don't think I would have scored well anywhere the way I was hitting, but it was made worse by the difficulty of the course. 590 yard par 5 up hill? Really? No level lies anywhere? Crazy greens with very pronounced grain? A duffer like me had no chance. I won't publish my score here because it would violate a dozen obscenity laws, but sufficed to say it was much higher than 100.
Hopefully, I'll get a chance to play again before we leave Hawaii. Stay tuned...
May 3, 2004
A group of us had a very tasty and fun meal at the Harvest Vine, a tapas restaurant just outside of downtown Seattle. The event was a special "Crianzas of Rioja" wine dinner with coursed Riojas (Spanish red wine). I don't have a lot of experience with riojas, so it was great to try so many with good descriptions. This was also my first time to Harvest Vine despite many, many recommendations from friends.
The meal started out with "sea urchin and trout roe lightly scrambled with aracana egg, accented with chorizo powder" and paired with Bodegas Primicia Gran Deizmo Crianza de Mazuelo 1999 (which is a very young Rioja, like Beaujoulais Nouveau). The dish was fantastic and the wine was good and interesting.
I won't bore you with the full menu/wine list (click here for that list). Sufficed to say it was great. However, I will comment on the amazing dessert. I'm not a big dessert guy, so it's hard to impress me with a super dessert. Joseph Jimenez de Jimenez (the chef, and a colorful guy with big mustache and floppy beret) and his wife Caroline (who I think is the actual mastermind behind the desserts and wine) poured a strawberry-rhubarb soup over a goat's milk gelatine (like a custard). The sweet tangy soup was a nice counter to the creamy gelatine which was also a bit tangy from the goat's milk. Great flavors and paired with a stunning El Grifo Malvasia 2001 dessert wine. Yum.
I also really liked the Lanzaga 2000 the most. We wound up buying a bottle each of the Lanzaga and El Grifo to enjoy at home (they have a retail liquor license too.)
The owners were charming, the food and wine were great, and the company (my wife Michelle plus Christopher and Kellie from work, and Kellie's friend Barbie) were super fun as always. Great evening.