Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Mush has taken to interacting with the neighborhood cats in three locations: our bedroom window, the living room window, and the main door windows.

This "interaction" generally manifests itself in typical small animal noises, but more frequently in undirected cries and caterwauling. This is not so much fun at night while we sleep, so we're trying to discourage him from doing this.

Tonight, we heard him start up and went to check out what was going on. There's a black and white cat that typically likes to tease Mush, but this was a little grey girl cat on our front steps, who would rub her head against the door and seemed very friendly.

Mush wasn't crazy about her, but M thought she looked cuddly and snuck outside to pet her for a while. Mush wasn't too happy about that, but as expected, he forgot about it a few minutes later.

Rock It, Man

Also, there was a rocket outside of some place.

Why Did I Not Think of This Before?

We felt like a treat, so we hit up Cold Stone Creamery to get our frozen dairy on.

I know it's a chain, but I've never actually been there, so figured it would be worth a shot. Once inside, I saw they have an ice cream flavor called "Cake Batter", which I could not possibly have been expected to resist.

Other than the crowd of youthful idiots (one of whom said she was getting married in three days, which I guess she took to mean she could do anything she wanted) who let their friends in line ahead of us and doubled the line size, the place was fine. I ordered a shake with cake batter ice cream and brownies, which turned out to be an excellent choice. It really tasted like brownie yellow cake. Nicely done.

Of course, it was no Manning's, but damn was it good.


On the way out, there was this painting that M said reminded her of my brother.

To be more specific, she was saying that the person represented kind of looked like him, and not that my brother dresses like that, which he doesn't, although I don't think he'd necessarily be opposed to owning an outfit like that.


Another Great Thing

I really love how seriously places here take their food and drink. I think I've mentioned this before, but this picture should bring the point home.

I mean, I'm out at a pub, and I think there's 15 beers on tap, plus a huge selection of liquor, if you're so inclined (they even have chartreuse, B&B, and Croatian slivovitz, just to name a disparate few).

Also, my food was homemade, including the fries, which were fresh cut. Now by no means am I saying that ALL places here are like that. I've been to some pretty crappy places, including the 2nd-worst chinese ever, but there are always plenty of places that seem to "get it", and I really appreciate that. That was one of the fears coming out here from NYC, which is so hardcore about everything that I was worried I was spoiled for all other places.

Granted, I do wish I could find some good Chinese, but I've got time to get that sorted out.


They had a typical pub food selection, which included a pulled pork sandwich in a homemade Jack Daniels BBQ sauce that I felt had to be tried. Really, I have trouble resisting pulled pork. It calls to me. Mi amor, mi corazon, usted es mi debilidad.

I wound up cutting through the whole thing so quickly that I only thought to get a picture when it was pretty much gone.

That clump of brown and slaw is all that remains. The roll on the right was the top of the bun that I had removed and discarded. Sometimes I prefer to eat pulled pork sandwiches with a fork, and that top bun gets in the way.

What, everyone does that, right?


She arrived shortly after us and I ordered a cask-conditioned (unfiltered, unpasteurized, no extra carbonation, usually served a bit warm) Pike's IPA, which I expected great things from but was very mediocre if not kinda bad.

M's friend ordered Mac and Jack, which is sitting on the right, quietly chuckling to itself.

Fremont for Dinner

After a day of not being nearly as productive as I should have been, I got in some exercise (pushups, pullups, crunches, I'll run tomorrow) and M and I headed out to Fremont to meet a friend of hers for dinner.

I like Fremont. We'd checked it out as a place to move, but it's a *bit* too hippie of an area. It did have a great place that I had belgian chocolate french toast back in October, and it also has this pub called "The Red Door", which although it sounds kind of like a lingerie shop or a movie you would see late at night on Cinemax, is a pretty straightforward pub.

We grabbed a table outside and waited for M's friend to arrive.

Cleaning Up

Late in the afternoon, the oatmeal knocked me out for a few minutes. When I woke up, M ran some errands while I did some cleaning. I worked on the kitchen for a while, and had trouble getting rid of this white spot that I assumed was flour or pancake mix or something unidentified.

It turns out it was a spot of sunshine coming in through the kitchen window. Crappy D's framing (ok, MY framing) is a bit off, so you can't actually see the spot in the second shot, but trust me, it's there. Come on, brain, you can do better than that.

I like our little kitchen, with its window. On the whole, this apartment is working out quite nicely. Other than the occasional creaking sounds coming from upstairs, it is very quiet, and since I'm currently blasting Metallica, I can't really complain about that.


The Onion is at it again on Bonds, although kind of in an indirect way. Sigh, pro sports.

This is another having-trouble-getting-started kind of day. Around lunchtime, I thought some steel-cut oatmeal would cheer me up. It takes about 45 minutes to make, but the results are well worth it. The secret is to toast the oats in butter for a few minutes before you add the boiling water. The longer you toast them, the less they fall apart and the more toasty they taste.

I added my usual granola and grade b maple syrup (the only way to go), but had no buttermilk, so I went with peanut butter instead, not because it was intended as a buttermilk replacement, but because it is delicious.

I think it worked out nicely.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Not the Device

Today was a slow day. Weeks of running on fumes has given me a sleep deficit like you wouldn't believe. I'm exhausted all the time and I haven't run or done my other exercises in 3 weeks. As does everyone who finds themselves in this situation, I ate a bunch of pasta with fake buffalo wings for dinner, watched a Mariner's game on tv (bought tickets to the Friday Red Sox-Mariner's game, woohoo!) and decided I would start exercising again tomorrow.

Before dinner, M and I thought we would go for a walk, but only made it about 200 feet up the street when we couldn't figure out where we wanted to go or what we wanted to do. So we went back home. Very exciting, I know.

We also found out today that our landlords got a new place that they are moving into and are planning to rent the upstairs to two (not-together) 30-something girls who we will get to meet soon, hopefully.

Up by the bus stop where I do pullups we saw these blackberries growing but I didn't feel like eating them and getting some horrible wild blackberry disease. That would totally not be what I need right now. It reminded me of all the fresh fruit we saw in Germany that looked amazing but we hardly got around to buying because we were saving money. In Nuremberg we actually bought a big thing of blackberries (appropriate given the BlackBerry's prominence in the trip) and ate it in about two minutes and they were ok, but not as good as they looked. Damn you, illusory German fruit!

The most exciting thing we did all day was play with the heat-sensitive watermark on my pay stub, where if you squeeze it or breathe on it, the "ADP" disappears and comes back a while later.

I'll try to do better in the morning.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


We get our supplies at Joe's and head back, past this park that has swings that M can't resist.

The weather is gorgeous, as it has been pretty much since we moved here, not too hot, with a cool breeze all the time. Take that, east coast!

We get back home, prep, and grill with some friends until 10:30-ish PM, when it gets a little chilly and we go back inside. One of them is looking for a new place and we learn that our landlords, who live above us, have put their place on Craigslist. What's going on?


Also, in a startlingly awful lack of judgement, but thinking that the condensed sherry flavors would play very nicely with bitters and vermouth, I made a "Rob Roy" (a small one) with my Cask Stregth Macallan that was not especially delicious. As any of you who have heard me rail against such a misuse of single malt can attest to this screaming hypocrisy, I throw myself at the mercy of the whisky gods (and Michael Jackson (the whisky one, not the molester one)) and vow never to do it again.


Caffe Fiore is a local coffee place with a few locations and very good coffee. I also love the design of their places.

You can't see here, but there's this great modern/classic/comfy vibe that this place exudes. I'll get more pictures of it later to show you because it is worth seeing and I don't usually get excited about design. They actually use old doors as wainscoting.

The coffee is delicious (I'm having Sumatra here, M has spicy chai), and the slightly-excessively-crumbly blueberry coffee cake is good too.

We Don't Need Roads

One of the cool/infuriating things here is that the roads don't always connect.

For example, I'm on Galer Street, looking up at the stairs that connect me to Galer Street on a different avenue. Galer doesn't actually run the whole length of the area, but is broken up by these stairs. Our street is like this as well, and it is especially frustrating for cabbies, who frequently call as tell me that they're at my street but can't see it.

On the flipside though, it does keep the grid relatively easy to remember, and provide some very pretty stairways to walk along.

None, Indeed

I don't know why anything is SPUWing here, but it looks like that's a no-no.

Failed View I

This is one of the awesome views we get just walking along the streets.

There are mountains in the background and it is one of my favorite things about this place. Too bad Crappy D doesn't represent this very well. I have a feeling this will be just one in a series of lacklusterly photographed scenery shots.

Lovely Country. Very...Hilly...

We live in a land of hills. We go a different way than we usually do to get to Trader Joe's (usually we show at the local market or the supermarket, but felt like walking to Joe's and making a stop at a good coffee joint) and got some exercise along the way.


This was a quiet day spent at home with a few cups of coffee and a chipped-beef, egg, and cheese sandwich for lunch.

Around 5PM we felt like taking a walk and grilling for dinner, so we headed out for a walk to the store to pick up burgers, buns, and some other miscellaneous grillage supplies.

This box has been sitting outside our door for a few days. When I went to Chicago, M FedExed me my suit (I didn't realize I would "need" it when I packed for Germany-Chicago) and after me presentation, I shipped my clothes back. We want to keep the box for all future emergency shipping needs, but there's a snag:

Mushroom loves tape. Specifially, he loves to eat tape. As soon as a box enters the apartment Mush is on it, licking and munching the tape, after which he promptly pukes on the floor. We've tried to hide the boxes, but he always finds them, and we'll hear crinkling and chewing sounds from another room and have to run in and take the box away from him.

That's why this one is out on the steps. I'll have to figure something else out though, since as soon as it rains this solution will cease to work.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Battle of the Bulge

Determined to liberate Berlin, M launched an assault on Mushroom's entrenched position.

Much of Berlin was destroyed or at least severely crinkled, and M's primary objective was not achieved.

Distracted by food, Mushroom relinquished his position shortly afterwards.


After some coaxing to get him off the map, he consolidated his position at Checkpoint Charlie and the surrounding vicinity.


As I wrote at home afterwards, consulting my map of Berlin, Mushroom decided to launch an assault on the city.

Back to the Beach

The walk was great, and we skipped a lot of stones until our shoulders hurt.

M found a flash card on the rocks that turned out to have very badly taken photos of a bikini contest that had apparently occurred earlier in the day. They were not good bikinis, and not good models. Wow. I think losing that card was the best thing that photographer did all day.

When we left, we headed to The Lockspot for fish and chips (and a beer from Deschutes brewery (highly recommended)). The Lockspot is also from Deadliest Catch as a place where they hang out (they all live near here), and there are various things on the wall mentioning them, and an oar signed my Mike Rowe, from Dirty Jobs, who narrates the show.

Yes, we watch Discovery Channel.

On the way home, we stopped behind a Scion with a license plate wrapper that said "Drive it like you downloaded it illegally via the internet"

Blurred Religion

We returned to the beach for another stroll and I hadn't figured out the camera was still on macro when I took this picture of a purple school bus that is always parked here with hundreds of religious slogans all over it.

I will get a real shot of this next time.

I like that written on the windshield is "for sale, $112,000"


Macro Chicken

M borrowed Crappy D for a while and I have sneaking suspicion she forgot to take it off macro when she was done.

We wandered down the block where this band was playing. They did a rocking cover of Peter Gunn, followed by an increasingly fast, eastern-flecked version of the chicken dance that the crowd was really into.

We got an iced coffee and I got a spicy shrimp and steak skewer from one of the stands and it was a very fun outing.


At the Fest, there were these guys smoking fresh salmon and I had to try it.

It was ok.


After sleeping in a bit, M and I headed off to the Ballard Seafood Fest, a celebration of the fishing tradition and Ballard's Scandinavian heritage.

We arrived too late for the lutefisk-eating contest and for the "Deadliest Catch" captains autograph-signing, but we did get there in time to see a very nice street fair. An elderly couple said hello and talked to us for a while and encouraged us to say hi to people since "hello" is the cheapest word in the English language.

Also, on the way from where we parked, someone had writted "Edgar" in dirt on a window. Edgar is one of the deckhands on The Northwestern. He's the captain's (Sig Hansen) brother, and the "cute" one that all the girls, including M, have a crush on.

When M's parents came to town we went to Ray's Boathouse, a seafood icon in Seattle, and we saw The Northwestern come into port. The entire restaurant stopped and watched the boat come in, and talked excitedly about it. I really like that there's this bunch of salty crab fishermen that are celebrities around here. The show is great, and you should watch it.

Also, on another window, someone has written "I wish my wife was this dirty", which is an odd thing to write on a window, and is an improper use of the subjunctive as well.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Beach Rat Hour

We went to the beach today that is less than 10 minutes from our apartment and walked up and down for a while. It's nice to have a beach so close.

M borrowed crappy D for a while and got some decent pictures from him.

The beach was a Plan B, actually. We had originally planned to see a matinee of "Ratatouille", but the traffic kept us from making it. We decided to see a later movie and do the beach first, followed by happy hour snacks at one of our favorite places, "The Matador", which has nachos and calamari for 4-5 bucks from 4-6. They also have Mac and Jack.

We caught the movie later that evening and really liked it. It's one of the cutest movies I've ever seen and is just 100% feel-good. Nice job, Pixar.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Shop Dog

I was persuaded to temporarily cease blogging and we walked up to the strip to go to one of our favorite cafes but it had closed (at 7pm? weak) so we found another one that made an admittedly delicious iced latte (i don't usually like lattes (the word "latte" is ridiculous) but felt like trying one (why can't we call them "flat whites" like the Aussies?)).

We wandered back home and spent the evening out on the patio and just talked and I was very happy to be home.

While up on the strip we remaked at the frequency with which we see "shop pets" that seem very happy to hang out in their owner's places all day and get petted by patrons.

Secret Cat

Mushroom has decided that he really loves this basket that we keep at the top of the wardrobe and has spent several days up there.

We often go hours without seeing him except for the occasional vertically-stretched paw accompanied by shuffling sounds.

Yes, I know you can't really make out what this is, but it's a cat in a basket. Trust me.


Getting all the posts from Germany done is very time-consuming, and I think M may be getting a bit tired of all of it.

To be fair, I'm tired of it as well, but I can't stop. Must...record...all...thoughts...


There isn't a lot that I like about working from home. I miss having people to work with and being detached from everything that happens at the company isn't good either.

However, being able to make myself delicious oatmeal is a very nice perk. This has yogurt, bananas, granola, and maple syrup, and is delicious.

Crappy D didn't seem to feel the same way, unfortunately.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


The past few days have gone by quickly. Our new Harry Potter book arrived on Saturday and M and I took turns reading for a few hours at a time. We avoided all news and internet lest it be spoiled.

It's not even that we're such big fans, but there's something captivating about being part of the phenomenon. It isn't likely that we'll have something like this happen again, so it was very cool to partake. I got tired around 10, but M kept reading until she finished in the wee hours of Sunday.

I woke up Sunday and finished the book before M woke up. The next few days were spent working and sleeping, and occasionally, writing this blog.

M made us these burritos that are amazing with a few different beans, corn, and cheese. I put fake meat in mine and they're an amazingly simple and tasty meal.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Not-Secret Puppy

Yep, definitely a puppy.

We got to the theatre only to find out it was the wrong theatre in the wrong mall, on the wrong street. Ah, well.

I Googled the right theatre and we made it there in time. The movie was ok. The 5th book was my favorite though, so it had some high expectations to fill.

This was a nice recovery day.

Secret Puppy

We decided to go see the new Harry Potter movie and on our way to the theatre we thought we saw a puppy in the back of this pickup.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Nice Day

The streets were thick with people and it took us 30 minutes to get onto the L platform to get back to the hotel.

I had to get to the hotel to pick up my bags before getting to ORD, and once we actully got to the train, it went fine from there.

Clearing security was a nightmare though. ORD may have replaced LAX for my "extreme pit of hell" airport award. There was the ID-checker who said to the people behind me "Damn, you got a long time to wait", and "Scuze us, Scuze us" as he brough people to the front of the line. It was seriously unprofessional. There was also the constant stream of people being pushed to the front of the line by security, who were trying to make sure they didn't miss their flights. It might have been a better idea to spread this out between ALL the security lines, instead of bringing everyone to our line.

Maybe I was just being antsy from the past few days, but it really ticked me off.

My flight was delayed, of course, since after all I was in Chicago, the source of all air traffic delays, so I got a salmon pizza and waited.

I got back to Seattle around midnight and was very happy to be home. M was happy too.

Happy Crowds

There were several Germans from our company with us and we explained baseball a bit. Several of them did not seem overly bored, and even enjoyed the game, which was nice to see. Also, one of them knew 5 languages and we get to talk about Latin, which I haven't been able to do for several years.

I had another hot dog, and relaxed in the sun.

Despite the 2 Bonds HRs, the Cubs won and everyone was pleased.

Shout It

These two guys, walking outside the park as Bonds hit his first home run, have an enthusiastic exchange with the people just inside the fence that involved a lot of supportive Bonds-related swearing.

No one was pleased about the HR.

The ball was thrown back, although T told me that they do that for all the non-Cubs.


Bonds smacked two homers. You can see him as the little spot about to touch home plate.

As much as everyone booed him (myself included), you should have seen the flashes popping everywhere while he batted.

I think Bonds is bad for baseball. It's true that he didn't do anything "illegal", but has he done anything good? Are there kids with Bonds posters up on their wall (outside of SF, maybe). I don't think so, and that's sad for a guy who's going to break the HR record.

I love all the articles that The Onion (1,2,3)has done on this topic.

Raise It

When we got to the house, there was a buffet-style food thing on the 3rd floor with burgers, dogs, brats, and other stuff, plus beer and soda. Someone nearby asked for a Coors Light, and was told, with a hint of derision, that they only had MILLER lite. I love regional beer loyalties.

I grabbed a dog and brat (no sauerkraut, sadly), and headed up to the bleachers on the roof for the start of the game.


Today was another day of presentations, but very little of it concerned me directly. I caught up on some work and had a few meetings.

The company had bought passes to one of the houses around Wrigley Field for the afternoon Cubs-Giants game, so I headed out on the L with some of the others to get there.

I was craving a ballpark dog, and that was keeping me going.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stealing Pigs

This is my sales counterpart, stealing some wooden pigs (he put them back).

We left soon after that (not because of the pigs), and wandered over a bridge, under which they were shooting batmobile scenes for the next Batman movie. I pulled out Crappy D to get a shot but a PA asked me not to take pictures of the set. I could have taken him, but decided not to.

It started to rain, so a few of us ducked into a bar as it poured down in sheets outside. A few whiskeys and stories later we got in cabs and met some of the others at a nearby club. I made it about 5 minutes there before me and T left the place. I was beyond tired and just needed some sleep. I liked hanging out with the sales team, but my day is done.

Others Try

Following the cooking, we had a drink or two and hung out on the stairs. Some friends decided to try out Crappy D.

I was happy to be sitting down and to not have to do anything.


Quite to my pleasant surprise, I had been forgotten from the team lists, so I occasionally helped out this one team by peeling some oranges and charring some corn.

Each team had a chef that came up with the recipes and directed us in what to do. Our chef, Dana, was very patient, and explained techniques to what was really a team of amateurs. One of the assistant chefs mentioned that in a lot of ways, working in this environment is more fun that working at an actual restaurant, where you don't really meet many people and spend most of your time making the same dishes over and over. The trade-off I guess is that each day you're teaching a bunch of drunk, obnoxious non-chefs how to cook.

My one main contribution was that one of the guys was making biscuits and as the chef urged him not to over-knead the dough, I mentioned gluten and she was impressed.

Thanks, Alton.

Oh, right, "my" team won (our stuff in that picture). Dana said it was her first win, and we were very happy for her. This really ticked off some of the other teams, especially those that had people who considered themselves "good".

We tasted everything and it was good and filling. The salmon and polenta was especially tasty.

Rusty Chef

M has sent me my suit for use during my presentation. I'm awake after almost no sleep and I go up to the meeting room to review what I've got with my counterpart and his boss, and to rehearse. I like the prospect of being in front of a room again. It's been months since I taught a class, and even the idea of a presentation gets my inner showman revved up.

I'm hoping the exhaustion can hold out for a few more hours.

With the exception of the soundproof-less windows that bring us the melodies of sirens throughout the entire day, my presentation goes over well. Although it wasn't the amazing, polished spectacle I was aiming for (i was a bit flat, and the questions from the audience hijacked things a bit), the salient points got across and I felt the work we had done for the past few weeks had been well-represented.

I promptly drifted in and out for the rest of the day.

Once the meeting was over, our event for the night was an "Iron Chef"-style cooking competition at a local cooking supplies shop. I was too beat to go, but wandered over anyway.

Before heading in, I had to deal with a support issue. On the phone with one of the support guys back in NYC, we discussed Belgian WWI battles and fields of poppies and that was the highlight of my day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


A long cab line awaits me at the airport.

I make it to the hotel around 5, just as the first day of the meeting ends. I wasn't planning on attending today, so the timing is great, although I've missed a lot of presentations that were SUPPOSED to happen tomorrow.

In the cab, I realize I'm wearing a white t-shirt that although I washed it in the bathtub still has stains from that local Dusseldorf liquor on it, so I change into my souvenir shirt during the ride.

At the hotel, I say hi to a bunch of people and we head over to the dinner. I have a quick dinner, show the video (with the obligatory multiple restarts since the sound wasn't hooked up properly) and then head out with my sales counterpart to finalize our presentation for the next morning.

The video went over well, but not AS well as I would have hoped. I can't post it here, but if anyone is interested in seeing it, just let me know and I'll figure out a way for you to see it.

It's midnight by the time I get back to my room and begin rewriting my powerpoint. Several hours later I've found all the internet clip art I can stomach and pass out.