Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The new jellybeans

Ronald Reagan made jelly beans the candy du jour, boosted Jelly Belly's company profile and made it a globally consumed item, great for packing in one's balikbayan box. For the Obama generation, I forecast the President-elect's favorite salted caramel chocolates from Fran's chocolates in Seattle, will be the food legacy of his government. New York Times has an article explaining the stages of mass consumption of this somewhat esoteric sweet, but salted caramels are now in Walmart, so it's definitely mass market. I haven't seen it hit Filipino stores yet (when will Starbucks bring over the salted caramel hot chocolate???), but I look forward to seeing it featured. I have had to savor the small bag of salted caramels I bought from the cheese store in the States, but that's only going to last a week or less. I could make it, but..

Sweet and spicy

The blog, Wandering Chopsticks, is a great resource for Vietnamese/Indochinese/Pan-asian recipes and for all her tips and reviews of restaurants in California. Two weeks ago I had read her post on how to make a Laotian pork larb, a spicy sauteed pork with herbs dish served with cabbage or sticky rice. Larb (also spelled larp, laab, laap) is also found in many Thai restaurant menus, and can range from mildly spicy to searingly hot, depending on the intensity of the fish sauce, nuoc mam, used in the mix. Wandering Chopsticks broke down the recipe into three parts: the toasted rice powder, the nuoc mam, and then the larb itself. The individual parts make for a fantastic whole, and I put it all together with some tweaking based on what ingredients I found locally.

There was no problem toasting and grinding the rice, and a half cup of jasmine rice makes enough toasted powder to store for other dishes. I did adjust the nuoc mam by adding bagoong balayan (the intensely fishy fermented sauce) to the mix - a couple of teaspoons of that along with patis (local fish sauce), a dash of sugar, a paste of Thai chillis and garlic, a teaspoon of vinegar, and a squeeze of calamansi - that should suffice to spice up the ground pork! I browned half a kilo of ground pork, drained it in the sink to remove as much of the pork juice, added the nuoc mam to the pork and spooned the meat onto the serving plate. Two tablespoons of the rice powder soaks up some of the moisture remaining in the meat, but also adds a lovely nutty flavor to the dish. Chopped up some thai chillis (yes for extra heat), a light chiffonade of coriander leaves and basil (I searched for mint but was unsuccessful), and a wedge of raw cabbage to scoop the tasty pork salad. This is a favorite for sure. Easy to make, and relatively healthy. For non-pork eaters, use ground turkey or chicken or maybe a seafood of choice.

From heat to sweet, I had to throw together a mango dessert for a party, and was not as well prepared as I should have been. For one, I didn't have the main ingredient! I dashed off to Farmer's Market early on a Saturday morning, grabbed a kilo of mangoes, and a bag of otap biscuits (a local flaky sugary biscuit). Since the dessert needed to be frozen, I was hoping that a few hours would suffice, but had doubts it would be firm enough to serve properly. The recipe I was using came from my friend I, who couldn't be at the party, and I was making the recipe so she'd be there in spirit (and in our tummy, which is a rather odd thing to want, but hey, it's to share our annual gathering with her in some fashion). She normally makes this dessert with crushed graham crackers and cream and condensed milk. I did make changes - first otap vs graham crackers, and the addition of pastillas to the cream. It turned into a tres leches (three milk) dessert - all purpose cream, a can of condensed milk, and mashed up pastillas blended together to make a very thick custard. It's basically a layered dessert, the crushed biscuits, topped with the mangos and then smothered in the custard. Repeat until it's high enough for the container, then stick into a freezer for a few hours. Preferably overnight to firm it up, but in this case, we managed with about 4 hours of freeze. I was pleased how the flaky crushed otaps worked with the sweet mangoes and creaminess of the custard. And the addition of the pastillas does take the dessert a bit over the top, but was totally worth it. Now why hasn't anyone made mango flavored pastillas candies?? It would work I tell you!

With a full tummy, good friends, healthy family members, I look forward to 2009, and put all the challenges of 2008 behind me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lady luck

My friend Cam and I tried something neither of us had ever done before, we played the lotto. Now, I've bet on the lottery in the US before, it's relatively straight forward, either choose numbers or have the machine do it for you; the other option is a scratch card, typically get three of the same numbers or prizes and that's the prize you win for that card. The local lottery, however, seemed to be a bit more complicated and I had never attempted it. Cam and I figured we'd test our luck for fun, after having a nice long massage over the holidays.

We went to a Lotto office, and saw the long lines and people filling out cards. We hadn't been sure of the choices, but one of Cam's masseuses told us how to play the easiest option, EZ2: choose two numbers and bet P10. She said that December 29 was the festival day of her town, so she asked us to bet 12-29 for her. We got an EZ2 card and started reading the directions. Boy, they sure make the rules a lot more complicated than it seems! We had to read it a few times, ask help from one fellow standing in line and even got directions from the ladies tending to the bets. Yikes!

We filled out an EZ2 card, bet P20, one for the masseuse and one for ourselves. Then we figured we'd go all out and try the Power Lotto! The big daddy of the lottery, if you get all 5 numbers plus another lucky number right, you win P50million! We definitely got a bit confused about that one, had to void a couple of the panels since we thought we were supposed to choose 6 numbers. And then we forgot to choose a lucky number and the ladies had to tell us to choose them before paying. Since the Power Lotto is a bigger pot, we had to pay more for it too. Two sets of numbers cost us P100 or P50 for each bet. Our total layout - P120.

The EZ2 is staged everyday, actually I discovered there's a 2 pm draw and a 9 pm draw! Wow, that's a lot of betting going on, and all for a pot of P4000. The Power Lotto is only drawn every Tuesday, but there are some variable lottos drawn on a daily basis (some require 4 numbers, some 6 numbers, a whoozy choice). Anyway, as of tonight, none of the bets we made came up as the winning set. It was an interesting experience and not too expensive, but I'm not going to be standing in line everyday to bet a tenner or a fifty once a week to try my luck.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fusion food

Wandering through supermarket aisles may be considered odd by some, but I admit to doing my fair share. I especially enjoy taking tours of supermarkets or drug stores or even hardware stores in countries I travel to for the first time. It can tell you a lot about the local culture, not to mention finding items you are familiar with at home, stocked in a supermarket thousands of miles away; it helps with any homesickness you feel when travelling.

Taking in the wares at Rustan's supermarkets over the holidays I noticed they've added a whole selection of French imports. I perused the packaged foods, noted a lot of coucous and herbs for cooking couscous, chestnut spreads, sea salt from Guerande, Riz d'Or bouillon cubes, and.. wait... El Paso Guacamole??? Er, ok, so it has some french words on it, but when did a product with Tex-mex roots become a French import? I guess since it sat next to the Harisa herbs for couscous, french cuisine is no longer xenophobic, at least not here in Asia.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

PAWS Week 3

10 am to 2:30 pm. Ran with Hazel in La Vista for 30 minutes, noticed she was willing to do a sit a couple of times when the other dogs were not around.
JI gave us instructions on beginning crate training (getting the dog to go into the crate using a treat and clicker), and how to get the dogs to go into a down position (belly down on the ground, as well as all four paws). We were also taught how to use a tug toy.
Finally got Hazel to do sits with the help of treats, but getting her to do a Down was much harder. JI had to show me a scooping/bowling motion to get her used to the idea of going down on her belly. But it's still not a total success. She is getting used to the idea of sitting to get her treat, and when I used the dog bed, she climbed up on the bed, sat, and stayed for a bit before I gave her the release. As for the crate training, we did succeed in having her climb in a few times with the help of the liver treat, but she doesn't like going in her crate when we have to put them in it during the ride back to the shelter. Maybe she knows she won't be able to play? She's trainable, but she is very distracted, she loves new smells, reminds me of a detective, blood-hound puppy!!!

Objective for the week - work on the down, and keep working on the bond with the puppy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Gullibility or why we never learn from history

"The real mystery in the Madoff story is not how naïve individual investors such as myself would think the investment safe, but how the risks and warning signs could have been ignored by so many financially knowledgeable people, ranging from the adviser who sold me and my sister (and himself) on the investment, to the highly compensated executives who ran the various feeder funds that kept the Madoff ship afloat."

A snippet from an interesting article (Fooled by Ponzi and Madoff) about gullibility, Ponzi schemes, and other forms of fraud by Stephen Greenspan (as he noted down, he is not related to ex-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan), professor and writer on topics such as human gullibility, who fell victim to the recent Madoff scheme.

Written from the perspective of a victim, he breaks down why humans fall prey to these forms of dubious financial transactions. The writer explains that there are four primary factors involved in why people invest - situation, cognition, personality and emotion - and the historical big picture of international scams (other than Ponzi) that feed on human gullibility. Or perhaps we forget basic greed is all part of it.

I had two reactions to reading this article: when I opened my email this morning, I received a message from someone "G.O" who was willing to purchase a piece of jewelry that I posted on a seemingly respectable auction board, G.O. said he'd send the money through his bank, then demanded I send him my bank details (swift code etc). Alarm bells went off and I emailed back that there was no way I would send those details and I was listing him as a spammer. A second email later in the day from a trusted friend warned several of us of a sheep in wolf's clothing; I wrote back that I hadn't picked up any diabolical vibes from the person, but as I read Mr. Greenspan's article I realized that part of it was that I had fallen into the trap of at least two of the factors, specifically situation. We had been introduced by a trusted friend and respected community leader, and the setting was one where we wouldn't suspect the person of any nefarious doings in his past.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


When I hosted my friend S way back in the 1990's for her first visit to the Philippines, she was aghast at how much we used sauces, dousing our foods in ketchup or soy sauce or patis with garlic or chilli. Having lived in China for more than a year by then, she could see the similarities and influences, but she didn't quite understand why there was a need to add a layer of flavor to something.

I think of S at times when having a meal and mixing up a side sauce, usually soy sauce or fish sauce, a paste of garlic or a squeeze of calamansi. When I know something might be a bit on the bland side, a crushed Thai bird-eye chilli always helps. For a simple meal of tofu and rice, I mix sesame oil, ginger and a light soy sauce to keep me from losing interest in what I am eating. I guess a good side sauce is to highlight flavors or textures and to avoid gustatory malcontentment.

Inspired by a recent online recipe for nuoc mam, the Vietnamese fish sauce spiced with chillis and herbs, I ground a paste of garlic and a Thai bird-eye chilli with some salt, added it to a liquid blend of fish bagoong (that uber-pungent fermented soup, which looks less than appetizing in its grey sludge), patis (yes, that's three sources of salt), vinegar, calamansi, and a fresh jalapeno sliced in two. So that makes three salty flavors, two spices, and two souring agents. Oh and don't forget the garlic. I left the blend in the refrigerator overnight and tested it on my dinner of sauteed pork and rice. It's hot, salty but doesn't make my mouth itch, and savoury. This could be addicting.

Monday, December 22, 2008

PAWS Sunday training, weeks 1 and 2

(Am taking part in a Sunday stray dog rehabilitation training, ten weeks of working with rescued dogs at the PAWS shelter. Have had two Sunday sessions and was told to start logging in a diary/journal.)

Week 1, December 14. Worked with two dogs - Makisig and Hermione. Makisig is an adult male, stocky, brown. Pulls like heck and not interested in walking straight, leans a lot. Hermione is about 6 to 8 months old, has some beagle mix I think. She responds to food, but doesn't like to be petted, and has to be on leash at all times. Session covered basic bonding with dog using food and clicker, learned how to use the clicker properly (dog must be facing you when you click, 1.5 secs to give treat. Positive reinforcement). JI gave us top three tips working with dogs - consistency, timing, and one other thing, ack. Especially important with the rescued dogs, to rebuild (or start building) a bond with the dogs, gain level of trust.
Attempted to learn luring to teach dog how to sit. Hermione managed one sit, but no further. Very distracted by everything in the grass, the other dogs. Treat used - hotdogs - should cut them up instead of squishing them out of casing.

Visited Hermione on Wed 7 am before she was fed. We walked around grass lot, used peanut butter on disposable chopstick as treat, but she remained really distracted. No sit again.

Week 2, December 21. Hermione is limping, left rear leg. Poor thing has to be put into the cage again. Took Hazel out, another puppy, 6 months perhaps. She's very energetic, ok with petting and carrying, and has the shortest attention span!!!! Did the run with her, after awhile all she wanted to do was roll around on the leafy sidewalks of the village. During training session, she did a lot better with bonding - cheese snacks. Picked up on her name better too. Had to move to hotdog treats for the sit though. She managed two sits (yay), but no interest in the ball. Is pretty good in the crate, doesn't hate it like the other puppy. She and Gervi not getting along, antagonistic.
Completed lessons - clicker/food, sit. Only did one session on the dog bed.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Plane update

Over lunch, friend M asked me "Is this filling up a plane on KLM real?" I shrugged, said I think so. I also mentioned I didn't think people really signed up for it, I might be the only one flying in my plane. Then she told me that she tried to get a "seat" on my plane but was informed it was full. Huh? We tried to make some baseless guesses on how many seats there were in the plane and who I sent invites to, etc. All random nonsense, but today I did check the site, and she was right, the plane, all 99 seats plus mine are full. But to be honest, I only recognized a handful of the names, the rest are all ambiguous "New Passenger" or folks who I wouldn't know from Adam. Hmmm. Do I need a skymarshall???

Ok, KLM, what's the prize for the most clueless flight filler?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eat this

There's a video of a kitten that loves her broccoli. Not so much this older feline. I love my broccoli and cauliflower, but not sure my own cat will take to it.

funny pictures of cats with captions

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quick read

A cousin of mine said she was interested in reading The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, and I chimed in that it was a fantastic book, with a rare mention of Manila in it. What I forgot to mention to her, but something she will soon find out, is how quick it is to read. I checked my book log, noting how quickly I finished the book and if there was anything striking about the work. I bought my copy last December while in the US, and it was a book that I read between the overload of food related literature in the first quarter of the year. It also took me 3 hours to read. While it is a relatively slim book, it could have easily been a book that took days to complete if I was bored with it or distracted. The writing does not drag, the characters are not hard to like, and there are no distractions towards the climax of the book.

I also jotted down that the book had a strong similarity to a couple of books I had read in the past, including Iain Pears' The Portrait, and a book by a Hungarian author who I couldn't remember when I made the note (including a reminder to self to find the other book in my bookshelf; as I still can't remember the author or the title of the book, but do remember the style and characters, it is doubly annoying several months after writing myself the note.). All three books are written in the first person narration by the protagonist, speaking to one other person (with a strong directive tone towards that person), narrating a story that they need to know, and you, as the audience, are keen to discover. In all three cases, the protagonist and primary speaker has a revelation through his talk with his sole audience, usually a negative one, and ends in a tragic note in all three novels. The medium can be intense, but what I always wonder when reading this style is how does one person maintain so much talking without needing a break, a regular flow of water and some menthol candy to soothe the throat? I can't imagine going on and on in that vein, charged with completing my mission and maintaining some semblance of composure at the very beginnning without giving away my final position. I know it's fiction, but the style can be a bit unmanageable, especially if you put yourself (like I often do) in the perspective of the main character.

I was interested in reading the book after seeing it mentioned in Jessica Zafra's blog, where she quoted from the part of the book that mentions Manila. She has done literary collections of books that refer to Filipinos and the Philippines, but this was the first time I felt compelled to find a copy of a book after reading so little of it. I am thankful that I did; it was a worthwhile literary find. Her blog has also had several links to short stories lately, the most recent to a short story by Edith Wharton, and a month ago she linked to Shirley Jackson's The Lottery. A week before Ms. Zafra's post I was listening to the New Yorker Fiction podcast which featured The Lottery. It was chilling, twisted, and very well written. I didn't realize that it was part of the literary canon for a certain generation of American school children, and I am not sure if it still is, but I would recommend it to an older high school student or first year college student reading American Literature. The language is clear and brutal, the plot is simple and subversive.

Short stories and books that can be read in a few hours in traffic or while standing in line is a breathe of fresh air, it can rejuvenate you if you're in a reading slump. Not only does it break the monotony of reading certain genres but it also invigorates those mental facilities that need a jolt every now and then. If it forces you to think or feel differently about the way you see life, then it is damn good reading.

Monday, December 15, 2008

News of the day

Models and fashionistas are wary of PETA activists who may splash them with red paint if they wear fur on the catwalk or on their person. Celebrities are constantly battling with papparazzi for in your face photography while out slumming. A few months ago, a president of a university was hit in the face by a pie from an activist student on campus. And yesterday, in his last month of office, President George W. Bush was nearly hit in the face by a pair of shoes, thrown at him by an Iraqi reporter. His father is (in)famously remembered for tossing his cookies at a dinner with the Emperor of Japan, and President Bush junior has had more than his share of verbal mishaps since taking office in 2001, but a quick search online makes him the first President to have footwear thrown at him. The Secret Service may have to demand all reporters wear socks from now on. Kudos to the Iraqi PM who attempted to shield his guest from the second podalic missile.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mental wanderings

Two years ago, I watched Cherie Gil in the play Doubt; she portrayed Sister Aloysius, the nun who confronts Father Brendan on suspicion of child abuse. The new movie of the play by John Patrick Shanley casts Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Father Brendan. The movie has already received a groundswell of critical acclaim, both actors were nominated by the Golden Globes a couple of days ago (fellow cast members, Amy Adams and Viola Davis, were also nominated). It is quite possible that Ms. Streep will be nominated again for Best Actress at the Academy Awards, and that will push her list of nominations to 15 nominations (she's won it twice).

My childhood classmate John is probably the biggest fan of Meryl Streep. Along with his continued love of the Ms. Universe pageants, he can list every single movie Meryl has been in, what movies she has been nominated for, and her total fabulousness. I don't know if he has some form of Meryl Streep altar or worse, but every time another Meryl Streep movie is released I know he's over the moon. I am sure that 2008 will be a notable year for him and other Streep followers, what with the release of Mamma Mia earlier this year.

As kids, John and I were already into food. Our favorite place to go was a japanese restaurant (Kamameshi) near our school that served oyster rice. They'd cook steamed rice mixed with oysters (or any other seafood or meat) along with vegatables in a special steamer contraption. I used to tell him to go with his mom to a Binondo oyster dive my dad used to bring me and my family. The specialties of the house were oyster cake (eggs, green onions, bean sprouts, and as many oysters as possible, fried up and plated), and oyster soup, this thick stew, gluey at times (too much corn starch I suppose), but rich with the briney flavors of the oyster. I don't know of anyplace that still serves the oyster soup, but Mann Hann, a small chain that serves Taiwanese style chinese food in several malls does serve oyster cake. I also chanced upon a stall at the Legazpi Market on Sundays that serves a very good oyster cake for P180, full of plump oysters and perfect with a cup of rice. The stall owners take a few minutes to prepare the fresh oysters, and cook the omelette to order. It's not the kind of dish that lasts beyond an hour after cooking, eat it hot and fresh.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Moth

Laughing, giggling, chuckling for no apparent reason in public may brand you by those observing your actions as cause for concern. Drunk? Insane? Contagious? Stand back folks, nothing to see here, yes, I mean you buddy... You are after all, walking or sitting alone, seemingly normal, a few shopping bags in hand, and looking a wee bit weary during the manic Christmas season. If they are observant, they may look for a sign that you are speaking to someone via earpiece; hmm, not from this distance, but wait, it does look like you're listening to something. Must be funny, wish I could share in the joy, where did I leave my umbrella....

You are listening to something and it is funny, it's from the Moth podcast, and Joe Jackson, musician, New Age savant, has been sharing how rock and roll saved his life. Sounds serious enough, but Mr. Jackson is full of silliness tonight. He's been keeping you smiling for at least 10 minutes describing his first gig, playing the piano with a couple of friends at the Drake, a pub/piano bar/marine hangout in Portsmouth (UK). He tells tales of Marty, Frankenstein of the music world, who could piece together bits and pieces of any wind instrument and then some. Or of the skinheads at the Irish Center who threw fag ends and coins at them for playing acoustic jazz. But the real piece de resistance was the toilet humor. At the Drake's ladies toilet, the owners had hung up a large picture of Adam (of A. and Eve fame), with a noticeable flap where the fig leaves normally hang. Lift the flap and find yourself reading a sign that says "A bell just rang in the bar".

The Moth podcasts are a great mix of serious, sublime, ridiculous, awe inspiring. It's story telling at its best. Recorded on stage at the Moth's New York and Los Angeles centers, you never know who is going to be sharing a wee bit of themselves when you get your weekly download. Most of the speakers aren't big name hotshots. These are the people behind the scenes, the non-celebrities, but they have a story to tell and a lot of it is hilarious. For ten to fifteen minutes, stand in someone else's shoes, feel their pain, their glory, their laughter. Just don't lift Adam's flap.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I like breakfast food that works in lieu of any other meal of the day. Take congee for instance. You can eat it when you're sick (my go to sick food of all time), but on nippy days like last week, blustering with a cold front from the north and miserable rain, a bowl of congee is comforting and cosy. Add some toppings of choice and you're good to go. Some days all you want is a zen like approach, tofu, a few slivers of green onion, ginger, with a splash of soy sauce. Some days, it's toss everything from the fridge - pork, century eggs, fish balls, an egg, vegies, bbq chicken, peanuts, bagoong, a pickle. Whatever suits your fancy, for the base - boiled rice - will take it in.

I also love our filipino -logs (tosilog, tapsilog, longsilog, yada yada); meat, egg, and rice. Side of atchara for contrast. You get varities around the country, danggit being a favorite of mine further south in Cebu or Palawan, where the fresh danggit is sublime, crispy, not overly salty, and makes for a change of pace when travelling. I once ordered a bangus with rice and egg in Zamboanga, didn't realize how large the bangus is outside of Manila, found myself face to face with a bangus the size of a platter, it was too much food and difficult to gulp down in haste before my flight took off.

The last few days, I've taken to eating a lot of crispy adobo flakes with egg and garlic rice. Pancake house has a really good version, not so crispy perhaps, but the adobo sulipan is chocful of stewed garlic and tasty meat (a mixture of chicken and pork); I like to mush the garlic and mix it into the already garlicky rice, and douse the meat with hot sauce. And I've discovered that Vanilla Bean, a cafe in Salcedo Village has a good crispy adobo meal, the eggs are softly scrambled, the rice is garlicky but not too oily, and the adobo is quite crunchy, with stringy bits blended in. Not enough garlic but I can appreciate the dish. If VB was open beyond 6 pm, I'd have it for dinner too, but I know I can always depend on Pancake House if I'm feeling the need for garlicky meat and rice after 7 pm.

Monday, December 08, 2008

How much is that doggy in the webcam?

Shiba Inu is one of the few canine breeds first developed in Japan, with a developing interest around the world. The dogs were bred by indigenous Japanese tribes to hunt for boar and small mammals. Their colors range from cream to red to brown and even black, wolf like snouts, and known to be good protectors of their humans. A friend of mine, who has enough furry friends at home to make Cruella de Ville envious, is considering getting one of the dogs, after seeing a documentary about several dogs at a US dog parade. She sent me the link to a puppy cam with live feeds of 6 Shibas:

While they are typical puppies, gamboling, playing, eating, sleeping, I've caught a few sweet moments during the live feed, typically when one puppy has just woken up, finds his or her siblings still sleeping, walks over them and then pillows its head on one of the others tummies, then goes back to sleep. Watching them makes me wish I had another dog for my own tousled head poodle, but one dog is enough right now, especially since she and the master or our domain, ie the cat, are not getting along at all. Seperate domains are all I can provide at the moment, thankfully the dog is bit more mobile, willing to take rides to my parents house at the drop of the hat.

At the recent bookclub reading, we chose The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, a modern day retelling of Hamlet with a healthy dose of the Dog Whisperer mixed in. The book has been receiving a lot of strong praise, it then was chosen as an Oprah bookclub selection, but 6 out of the 8 of us who read the book and went to the dinner last week were less than enthusiastic. I had been enthused to read the book after hearing good reviews from other readers, but found myself dragging to get through the book after 100 pages. The parts that needed serious editing tended to be about the dog breeding strategies and the letters between the dog enthusiasts who had their own opinions about what characterized scientific breeding of dogs for specific traits. One of our readers had sincere concerns about the mental and emotional strength of the title character who she described as downright crazy. But then we all had doubts about any of the characters' ability to make the right choices; the mother falling into bed with her recently deceased husband's brother given the animosity between the siblings; the anthropomorphic development of the dogs (some serious mind reading between humans and dogs in this book); plus the ambiguous mystery of how the father died.

The only revelation that came to me during the dinner was that not a lot of people seem to know their basic Shakespeare. Most of us who attend the book club are educated in the western canon, but so many of the attendees didn't know the basic plot or characters of Hamlet, or got characters mixed up with other Shakesperean tragedies. Maybe too many of us take our liberal arts education for granted.

Back to the Shibas, 2 of the puppies waved farewell on cam, one more heads out to its new home in a few hours. At 8-9 weeks old, they are much younger than the Sawtelle dogs were when released to new homes, but that is typical of these days of modern dog adoption. Even though I am new to the Shiba puppy watch, I think they are golden bundles of puppy love.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Conjunction in the sky (there are great big terrible giants in the sky...)

A text from Nena said for me to look up at the moon. I thought it would simply be a larger than normal full moon, and it took me a little over 30 minutes to head outside to see what all the fuss was about. I looked and was taken aback, there was a crescent moon, and two bright lights above it. I knew enough that they weren't stars, but planets. But which ones?? I rushed back to the computer and started googling, I also started to send texts to Nena and friends who might know. I knew the brightest light would be Venus, she normally appears shiny in the heavens, so it was expected. But my initial thought that the second planet was Mercury was wrong. I was more thrilled to find out it was Jupiter! How wonderful! It may be the biggest planet, but I suppose being further away it didn't cast as strong a reflection as the goddess of love.
Looking up at that sight, going back and forth between sky gazing and the living room for answers and furious texts to friends and family (telling the young uns to get up from their butts and look outside), I recall special moments when the evening sky, filled with stars, the occasional shooting star, makes everything else in life seem small and shallow. Last night, with the moon and the planets smiling down on us (those of us closer to the equator and in the southern hemisphere had the blessing of a smiley face; the folks north saw a downturned moon), I couldn't help but feel a rush of positive emotions. Forget wars, economic downturns, man made disasters for a few moments, look up!

Check out KLM - Fill a Plane - Promote your plane

Ugh, KLM needs better macro forms. They have a new promo to win prizes including a trip to Amsterdam. But their blog post format is so boring:


I want you to take a look at : KLM - Fill a Plane - Promote your plane


However, the more people who sign up to fly on my plane, the better chances of winning those tickets to Amsterdam! Land of windmills, Van Gogh, tulips, and coffee houses :D

Come fly with me, let's go down to Peru...

Monday, December 01, 2008

(Socky, this is your fault! I'm hooked on Slide!)

Tinkering with Slide, I put some of the landscape photos I took of N. Dakota and Montana. I love the drive through look, so retro :D

Pike Market Peonies

Pike Market Peonies