Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sunday, March 20, 2005


We do, of course, attempt to avoid too much of politics in here. An exception, however, must be made for this item from Down Under. Please see the Chrenkoff observation.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Half the Population of Lebanon

Looks like the citizens of Beirut have picked up a trick from Memorial Stadium:

UPDATE (1700 Monday): Thanks to :

And we hope this is more like Poland than it is Tiannamen Square. I'm encouraged.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

AskOxford: the free online dictionary resource from OUP

Today, several disparate observations:

First, the Word of the Day: Obambulate. To wander somewhat aimlessly. This from AskOxford: the free online dictionary resource from OUP which is a really neat site. Want to discover the origin of "dressed to the nines?" Go to this place. (They don't know either!) Want to discover the word for a collective of fleas? (There is none.) (Apes are a troop, but you knew that, didn't you?) Go to this place. It's fun.

Second, I suspect that the use of lentils in restaurants has increased exponentially in the past decade. The reasons? They're pretty, they have nice, neutral color, they're bland, accept any sauce, and they're filling. So, if you're the haut chef preparing an artistic main course for the photographer as well as the diner, you are surely tempted to use lentils as a base on the plate under the fish or chicken.
This observation occurred to me at a lentil luncheon high on a mountain overlooking Saratoga. Check out to see where we were. Paul Masson started this winery in 1852 which, by California standards, is ancient. Curiously, they were allowed to stay in business during prohibition. An absolutely beautiful setting and yes, once again, I didn't pay.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Air Brushed History

From Thursday's "Belmont Club"
"It Never Existed"
According to the Telegraph, French authorities have airbrushed the cigarette out of John Paul Sarte's photograph.
France's National Library has airbrushed Jean-Paul Sartre's trademark cigarette out of a poster of the chain-smoking philosopher to avoid prosecution under an anti-tobacco law. ...
The library's president, Jean-Noël Jeanneney, confirmed that the cigarette had been discreetly smudged to comply with the 1991 loi Evin - a law banning tobacco advertising - but also so as not to frighten away potential sponsors from the exhibition, which opened yesterday.
The practice of historical revisionism, which was a central theme to George Orwell's 1984, was extensively practiced by Joseph Stalin. The NewsMuseum documents the "before and after" photographs of Lenin with Leon Trotsky, among others, redacted from the image. But what if -- hypothetically now -- the NewsMuseum were in fact the forgery; what if Trotsky was digitally inserted into the picture. How would I know?
Here's Jean Paul:

Let's see, now. FDR never smoked as President. Edward R Murrow never smoked as Correspondent. And Ted Kennedy never drank in Chappaquidick. What else can we fix while we're at it, hmmm???

Prima Ristorante

It's perhaps a bit early to choose a favorite, so let's just say that for consistently interesting dining in a comfortable setting in our new town of Walnut Creek, we're recommending Prima Ristorante Welcome . I have not been disappointed here.

I recommend the Italian cured meats for an appetizer and "tonight's special" for the main course. It's always a standout.

Interesting sidelight. One dinner a year or two ago found me asking the maitre d' hotel why he served olive oil with the bread (delicious bread, by the way) but no vinegar, unlike so many Italian restaurants in the Bay Area. He glanced at the bottle of wine on our table, looked at me, and said "why would you want to spoil your wine with bad wine?" I had no answer.

So go. Be pampered. Enjoy your meal. And be prepared to spend $50 per. Valet parking.
(I know, I know. I've also tried Ruth's Chris Steak and it's $60! Next time, I'll report on Hubcaps hamburger stand, or the Original Mel's on North Main. I'm running out of friends who will treat me to dinner.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


That's Mt. St. Helens in Oregon this afternoon:

UPDATE: We bless the blogosphere because, eventually, all misstatements are corrected. On 22 March, "Anonymous" generously pointed out that Mt. St. Helens is still located in Washington State, not Oregon as implied above. (The photo might have been taken from Northern Oregon, I guess.) Soribouthat.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Really Long Haul

Fun today at noon when the Port of Oakland's new toys finally squeezed under the Golden Gate and then the Bay Bride. These babies are 240 ft. tall, cost about $8M each, and lift 65 tons with ease.
They had puttered around Point Reyes for almost a week awaiting calm seas, low tides, and little traffic. Today at noon these forces all turned positive and in came the Zhen Hua 1, decks almost awash, with myriad tugboats alongside and helicopters swarming around like bees.

They cleared the Golden Gate by about 20 ft., and the Bay Bridge by about 60 inches, helped significantly when all traffic was prevented from entering onto the span, thus raising it by almost 12 inches. I really admire the folks who sat down and figured all this out before they wrote the order for the Chinese steel plant to manufacture these guys. Waytogo!

Friday, March 04, 2005


The eagle (er, oak tree?) has landed