December 31, 2010

El Ultimo Dia del Año 2010

Wake. Snooze. Snooze again. Drag self to the gym on the 31st floor of our apartment and enjoy the amazing views. Why haven't I come here before? Oh, right. Too busy vacationing.

Relax, read, shower. Wait for return of security deposit, which was clearly an exercise in formality. Pablo rings the doorbell and walks in to hand back an envelope full of the cash we handed him several days ago. The exact same bills (or amazing reproductions :-)). This time, unlike at check-in, he avoids even the pretense of purpose, no counting towels, glasses, etc. Instead, he explained how no one else had to work due to the holiday today and he was sorry he couldn't come tomorrow, but, it's a *real* holiday, even people in tourism get it off, if they can. He was also helpful in explaining that it may be somewhat impossible tomorrow AM to get a taxi to Aeroparque -- dia de ferria and all. Wish us luck!

Finally, around 1:15 PM, we entered the Subte and headed to the ridiculously huge bus station in the hopes of booking our overnight bus trip between Buenos Aires and Mendoza next week before the bus trip counters closed for the holiday. Success! But, like all good travel adventures, there was much confusion. You need to give documentation or ID to book a bus ticket, unless you book it on the internet, in which case you can email ID photocopies later, but the Internet convenience fees (not to mention wacky cuota requirements) make in person booking preferable. Eventually, just before leaving, we somehow mentioned that we had ID from the government of *CALIFORNIA* and, it turns out, you can use your driver's license as sufficient ID to book the bus ticket even if your passport is back in the safe. Phew. Also, the Omnibus terminal is after the train station if you are walking from the Subte. It's not right there, but just keep walking, eventually, it's impossible to miss -- it looks like hundreds of buses.

We walked a bit downtown before grabbing a taxi, coming back to the apartment to put our washed laundry on the drying rack, and heading out for a very late meal. 3 PM deliciously stereotypically Argentine lunch of empanadas, lomo, and salads. Of course, another Cafe Americano for me (mystery #1 -- Americano is cut with water, Cortado is cut with milk, when you ask for Americano, they understand that it should be cut with water, but often confirm with "cortado? si?").


Ice cream!!! Finally. It had been highly recommended by many who'd sent their travel recommendations, so I was thrilled to join the fun.

Buy agua con gas and 200g of spicy Fiambres to add to our light dinner plans for cheese, wine, bread and Cohetes.



Spanish TV footage of New Year's fireworks in Sydney, Taiwan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Munich.

Simpsons in spanish. Oddly, an hour long presentation of multiple episodes cut together. E identified each splice with amusement (this episode doesn't have anything to do with the last story except there's a boat and police...)

Loud local intermittent fireworks enjoyed from the balcony with queso, fiambres y vino accompanied by the bounced voices of local high rises -- singing, yelling, cheering.

And now. we're off to the gym to enjoy the midnight fireworks from the 360 degree view from the top of the building.

Happy New Years!
A Relaxing Day on the River

(Pictures to come upon return home)

Yesterday, we walked to the nearest train station and took the train to Tigre.

We watched the world boat by and enjoyed the slow pace, and the amusing differences brought by life on a river without roads between islands and shores.

Lunch was a leisurely 3 course meal of caprese salad, roast vegetables and sorrentinos (stuffed circular pasta pockets). With wine, of course. Haven't had a bad glass here, and it's dirt cheap, often, a glass of house wine is the same price as bottled water or a soda. Always, it's less than beer.

Upon our return, after an hour of relaxation at the apartment, we took a taxi to Cabaña Las Lilas to enjoy E's birthday present from his folks. Delicious provoleta, salad, and Caribbean Kobe Rib Eye.

Oh, if you want to confuse the wait staff at an Argentinian Steak House, be sure to ask in mangled Spanish for them to pick a bottle of wine for you that is *NOT* from Mendoza. Apparently, this is not a common request. But, we're going to Mendoza, so I wanted to taste something from another region. Eventually, the somellier understood and we ended up with a lovely bottle of Malbec, called Malma. It's from the Neuquen region of Patagonia and it was worth the funny looks.

After dinner, we walked around Puerto Madero and across the Puente Mujer, enjoying the balmy weather, beautiful lights, and crowds of people out for an 11 PM stroll.

A harrowing cab ride, a walk in Palermo, a stop for a drink and we were in bed at the ridiculously early hour (by Porteño standards) of 1 AM.

December 29, 2010

40 Hours in Argentina

We arrived in Buenos Aires at 7:40 AM. The bonus of renting an apartment vs. staying in a hotel is that you can check in whenever you arrive, then take a nap, then a shower, and finally head out to sight see right around the time when you'd finally be checking in to your hotel.

The first meal: walk to build up an appetite and view local plazas. Finally sit down to 2 hours of sparkling water, wine, bread, pickled grilled eggplant, a huge grilled serving of skirt steak and a salad (you pick each ingredient and the size of your salad -- a brilliant approach) at Minga.

As an aside, I almost cried at the deliciousness of my Cafe Americano -- the best coffee I'd had in years. I've had 3 since we arrived: no sugar, no milk, just deliciousness. Anyways, big shock -- the meat was juicy, delicious, and flavorful, as promised. The chimichurri was different than anything I've ever had -- it seemed like a mixture of oil, dried oregano, vinegar and salt (delicious, but very different). The pace was slow, the servers were amazingly friendly, and overall, we decided we were in love with this Country within 8 hours of arrival. E even went so far as to compare it to Australia, "I'd love to move here if it wasn't so damn far from everything..."

We walked about 7 miles between the nap and sleep that first day, exploring Palermo, getting lost, grocery shopping, and getting our Argentinian Spanish bearings.

And, today, the next day, was a whirlwind tourist day typical of folks who are over-eager to make the most of their vacation. Upon arrival back at the apartment, we gmap'd it, and it looks like E did his first half marathon today!

After sleeping in and some brief work efforts on both our parts, we walked from our apartment to 5 banks (count 'em). Finally, we found an ATM with cash. I am now quite proficient at the Spanish necessary to figure out if someone who is leaving an ATM has actually received cash or is leaving in dejection -- oddly, this is a set of figurative phrases I'm not sure I could translate as I've never had the opportunity to experience this situation in English (much less 5 times!). E's theory was an early morning run on the banks before the Portenos woke up. Or, he pointed to their history of poor currency management. Me, I was just totally confused, most of all by the looks of understanding and expected failure by locals who realized there was no cash to be had at a particular bank (as in NONE of the ATMS had any left).

Thankfully, we found a bank with money and acquired enough for a noon stop at a cafe (mmm... Cafe Cortado, or whatever they say when I order my Americano, I thought Cortado had 1/3 milk, but ordering an Americano gets me what I expect even when they correct me). An hour later, after sipping our coffees and nibbling the pastries they served alongside, we marched on.

The Floris Generica.

Lots of plazas and gardens.

The Recoleta Cemetary and Evita's tomb.

An amazing lunch of empanaditos gratis, Provoleta a la Napoletana served over a piece of wood charcoal, brochette de lomo, bookended by 1-inch thick pieces of bacon, intermingled with red pepper slices and onions, and served over its own piece of wood charcoal, at the table, and, of course the salad you compose from the menu (did I mention tomatoes are in season here? YAY!). Amazingly, we eventually roused ourselves from the table (post-Americano for me), fueled for the remainder of our half-marathon.

The Teatro Colon (closed for holiday, but gorgeous from the outside).

The Plaza de la Republica.

The Widest Street in the World (three light cycles to cross).

The Casa Rosada.

Half the trip to San Telmo, and then a stop at a cafe for water, and then, defeat. Maybe we'll fit it in before we move on, but if not, we're still in love with BA. So, rather than press on to the historic district, we took our exhuasted selves in a cab to a square that's a mile from our rented apartment and we walked home from there.


Walk to dinner at Ceviche. Watch the electricity go out on the block where we are to eat. Enjoy a candelit dinner of amazing ceviche and sushi while patrons sing and play violin by candlelight (why did he bring a violin?). When it is time to leave, laugh with the server about needing to pay in dollars since the credit card machine won't work. Leave a generous tip since the majority of the reservations opted not to show up due to the dark restaurant.

Walk almost home. Get lost. Get un-lost.

Sigh in contentment to realize your apartment building is not without power, which means glorious air conditioning.

Yay Argentinian half marathon!

(Photos to come)

December 26, 2010

More Fun with the new camera

We made a friend:


And, throughout our stay, we are being stalked by the great hunter, Jasper.

Merry Christmas!

For the first time since 1882, Atlanta had a white Christmas.


Santa brought us an awesome new camera, so I spent much of Christmas dinner playing with it. On one setting I was able to capture snowflakes as they fell:


E's mom cooked for three days and prepared a very festive Christmas celebration for 14.


Mmmm... beef wellington, artichoke hearts and spinach casserole, slow roasted tomatoes, cheesy mashed potatoes, and an arugula, parmigiano, and pine nut salad. Delicious!


I hope your winter holidays were warm, social, and full of good cheer!

December 25, 2010

The South Beat Me

I pride myself on my stomach of steel.

I can eat just about anything without becoming ill.

Yesterday, however, I learned that I was no match for the Atlanta institution of The Varsity.

We've gone in the past (it's a tradition of E's extended family to lunch there on Christmas Eve) and I've enjoyed the entire experience.

But, apparently, on our other occasions I hadn't had a snack of bacon beforehand, and I definitely didn't munch my way through a cheeseburger, a serving of the world's greasiest onion wings, and half a serving of French Fries.

Just to let me know that I was out of line, my body revolted yesterday afternoon.

I was fine in time for Christmas Eve dinner (mmmm... leg of lamb, slow roasted on the Primo over indirect heat and bacon (of course) lentil salad.)

But next time at the Varsity, I'm going for the cole slaw dogs and will skip the sides.

Also, Merry Christmas, Happy Belated Solstice, and Happy almost New Year!

December 21, 2010

Tech Support

So, my (new, under warranty) laptop died last night. Continuous Blue Screen Of Death loop from 1 AM 'til 2 AM or so when I finally called it quits and hard-powered-down.

I'm on the East Coast with E's family for the Holidays, but I still need to work. Ideally, I need to be able to work so seamlessly that it doesn't occur to my clients that I have a physical location, much less one that's changed since the last time I was helping them.

Today, after confirming via phone emails that I only had a couple of hours of work that needed to be finished by COB PST, I bailed on my workout and tried to drop my laptop off at the only Lenovo Service Center in downtown Atlanta. The friendly folks at the glass store in its place informed me that it moved to the burbs 3 years ago. (Interestingly, once I gave up on physical repair and dedicated myself to the toll-free solution, I learned that the call center is just down the street from us in Atlanta (Dunwoody), but that I couldn't drop off my computer with them because repairs are done in Memphis.)

Frustrated with the lack of an immediate Lenovo solution (meaning I would be without-computer for at least 1 day, and likely many more) I cried uncle, returned to Nolan's folks for lunch involving bacon, and went for the solution of least conflict.

A Netbook. On sale for Christmas. The perfect back-up machine. Today, I got the last $250 Asus 1005HB that was in stock from the closest Best Buy.

And, I'm up and running. I've got a disaster recovery plan. Today's work is done and I'm blogging from it, even.

Prior to today, I'd backed up through last week on one of E's servers in the cloud, so I only had 1 week of potential loss which E was able to pull off via a SATA enclosure despite the slow clicking protests of my hard-drive.

In short, if all goes well, my Lenovo will be safely in the hands of tech support while they diagnose the problem, and I will be freely using my super-light, super-small netbook until they figure it out.

Between regular self-done back-ups and hosted email/calendaring/tasks/notes via a hosted Exchange provider, it took me all of 5 hours to research repairs on my existing machine, locate and buy a new computer, get it up and running with my current situation and voila -- back in business.

Next time I won't even have to go shopping.

It is indeed a brave new world.

Now, please, keep your fingers crossed for a useful response from the diagnostics -- this is the second time in 3 months that my Lenovo has BSOD'd repeatedly on me. Last time it just miraculously recovered with no explanation, which is, of course, absolutely no comfort. This time, since it clicked and slowed and struggled through the SATA drive recovery, we thought we'd figured it out.

Yet, here I am, running my second hard drive diagnostic (since the first one passed with flying colors) and wondering what other surprises the computer Gods might throw my way.

Here's to figuring out problems...

December 16, 2010

Holiday Stuffing

Last night, a client and his wife took E and me to The Plumed Horse.

The tasting menu was excellent as was the wine pairing. There was an amuse bouche with black truffles, AND a white truffle risotto. The truffle lover that I am was in heaven.

In the next couple of weeks, we've got 4 parties to attend, 2 nights with guests for dinner, dinner reservations at at least one more fancy restaurant and at least two food-filled days of holiday celebration with the family.

The holiday stuffing season has officially begun.

December 14, 2010

Facebook Map of the World

This map is very cool.

This visual representation of the connectedness of the world as viewed through a subset of Facebook friendships looks surprisingly like the international flight route maps found in in-flight magazines.

The great circle representation of the connections certainly contributes to this impression, but I'm guessing the strength of the signal for connections at air travel hubs is at least somehow related to the in-person connections that have been formed via air-travel.

His blog post explains his methodology.

December 11, 2010

The Halibut Chronicles

C sent us 8 HUGE filets of halibut from her fishing expedition in Homer, Alaska. It's the gift that keeps on giving -- every time we make a halibut recipe, she comes to visit and we make a meal and hang out.

On her first visit, we pan fried it and served it with tomato, caper, olive sauce. Mmmm....

The second dinner was poached over a spicy soba salad with a mustard cream sauce. Mmmm...

And this week, we went with Alton Brown's Chips and Fish Recipe.

You know, fry the chips once:


Fry 'em again at a hotter temperature for good measure and then spread them on a roasting pan and keep them warm in a 200F oven.


Dredge the fish in cornstarch:


Then coat with beer batter:


Put the oil to use, yet again for the third frying of the evening:


And enjoy a meal of nothing but brown (except for the homemade tartar sauce, thanks for the splash of color, C!).

Winter Food

You know what's one of the great things about Winter in California?

Brussel Sprouts!

You know what makes brussel sprouts even better?

Pork Chops!

You know what makes pork chops even better?



E, our two guests, and I were quite happy and full!

December 5, 2010

Happy Holidays

This weekend, E and I headed to San Francisco to attend the annual holiday party hosted by my first professional employer.

This employer, showing excellent judgment, refused to hire me at my first interview. I showed up at their offices in the Financial District dressed in head-to-toe spandex on rollerblades (I had come straight from diving practice). They had just moved to San Francisco from Boston, and, while they were looking for a Californian college student to do library research, they weren't quite prepared for my oh-so-Californian attire.

They hired a guy who showed up in a suit. He was terrible. They fired him. I re-faxed my resume a year later and showed up for my second interview in a suit. I got the job and worked through my last year of school and into my first full-time professional job. I loved working there -- they were excellent employers, and I tried to leave on very good terms to follow the dot-com boom.

I guess I succeeded because I was hired back as a consultant when I became inevitably unemployed as a result of the dot-com bust. Happily, I've been invited to every holiday party they've hosted since.

Over the years, we've been their guests at some of the city's best bars and steakhouses (and one year, they flew us to Vegas!). This year's party was during Santarchy, which added an extra festive note to our drinks at the Comstock Saloon and the delicious multi-course private room meal at 5A5. Bonus, I was able to give a toast thanking them for introducing me the beauty of small business ownership and for being one of the inspirations for starting my own law practice.

Every year, E and I look forward to this event for great conversation during a big night out on the town and a stay at a hotel. It's become one of our favorite holiday events. Last year we enjoyed Union Square in all of its holiday splendor with the lights, Christmas trees, Macy's wreaths, ice-skating rink, and more.

This year, we stayed at the the Hyatt Regency and enjoyed the spectacle of the approximately 1500 hanging columns of light (E counted). Sadly, we missed the falling snow effects of the lights, but we were joined with gleeful children on every elevator ride, so that they, too, could enjoy the spectacle of lights and the view of the decorated atrium below. The hotel clearly knows that the hundreds of children riding the glass elevators are not guests, but employees pointedly ignore the transgressions in the name of holiday fun.

Today, I looked at the list of events our hotel was hosting in addition to the immense effort they've put into decorations (Photo opportunities with Santa, holiday dinners and brunches, and more), and I was impressed. There's obviously a pride and a desire to contribute to the communal holiday festivities that many of the larger businesses, as well as the smaller businesses and individuals in San Francisco feel. It warms my heart to be part of it.

Happy Holidays.

November 29, 2010

Local Treats

I love oysters. They are one of my favorite foods. I appear to enjoy them so much, that E had to test his theory that he had inherited a family shellfish allergy just to see if he, too, could enjoy them. Thankfully, he can, and we often enjoy oysters together.

And yet, despite our joint enjoyment of the slippery little suckers, for some reason, we'd never been up to the oyster farms near Point Reyes.

So, the day after a mellow Thanksgiving with friends, we set out for the gorgeous drive up Highway 1, north of San Francisco.


This portion of Highway 1 is eerily free of human development. The Highway traces the coast and then threads through the Golden Gate Park National Recreation Center, the Mt. Tamalpais State Park, the Samuel P. Taylor State Park, and the Point Reyes National Seashore. Here and there, grandfathered homes and dairies dot the landscape, but for much of the drive, it is simply the highway and the untouched marshlands.

Our first stop was Tomales Bay Oyster Company.


It was a gorgeous setting, but the groups that were already there, dressed in waders and wearing shucking gloves, were too professional for E and me. For starters, neither of us was in waders, and then, we didn't have a shucking knife. Yes, we could have purchased these items, and tried to figure out what the hell we were supposed to do with them, and perhaps, in a future visit, we will. But there wasn't much time left in the day, so we drove a little further to Hog Island Oyster Company, where they have free valet parking, and an oyster bar that will prepare a platter to your specifications.

On the way in, we walked by tanks of huge oysters, which, coupled with the salty air, started my pavlovian response:



We placed an order and scored the last open picnic table at 4:20 or so, just 10 minutes before they stopped serving.


So, we sat and enjoyed the view.


And, after the professionals shucked and laid 'em out for us, we gleefully put away 24 of the freshest oysters we've ever had.


We had plans in wine country the next day and it was only an hour drive from the oysters to Santa Rosa, where we stayed the night.

Saturday, the first time bay area fun continued with an art tour at Clos Pegase and the tram tour and tasting at Sterling Vineyards. Although both of these are considered wine country institutions, for some reason, neither E nor I had ever made it to either of them.

And finally, we enjoyed a big family-style meal with E's childhood best friend's family at Ad Hoc.


The menu? Bread and butter. Stuffed cabbage with mushroom risotto. The best pork chop of my life with sides of mustard sauce and broiled fennel. Sticky Toffee Pudding.

The service could use a quick lesson in manners, and there is a 2 bottle limit on corkage which is applied per table, even if you have a table of 9, unless you make a fuss. But, the food was amazing, and I'm not kidding, it literally was The. Best. Pork. Chop. Of. My. Life. So, overall, I have to recommend it.

In fact, if you are looking for a great quick bay-area get away, I highly recommend the drive to oysters, followed by the drive to wine country for a delicious dinner (or two) and some wine tasting. The ability to have this experience on a whim is definitely one of the better things about living here.

November 22, 2010

Word of the Day

Drayage: the transport of goods a short distance.

According to Wikipedia, the term originally meant "to transport by a sideless cart."

You can imagine my confusion upon finding this (unknown to me) term in a commercial software license form.

You know, software. The thing we modern humans transport via bits over the Interwebs?

Needless to say, this is not the typical purchaser/licensee of my client's products and the form needed a *ton* of work.

November 20, 2010

Turning under

The summer garden is gone, and the winter garden is finally planted.

More detail over at Tech Law Garden.

November 18, 2010

When Help Isn't

True help is in the form of something offered by a donor and accepted by the receiver.

Ideally, the receiver may have even requested the help in a clear way, with an understanding that there was no obligation for it to be provided.

Unrequested aid is often the opposite of help. It often causes damage, both to the receiver and the person who spent time and effort trying to solve a problem without full understanding.

I just found myself the recipient of some unrequested "help" (that I was not given the opportunity to accept or reject) and now have quite a mess to clean up.

Definitely not helpful in the least bit.

November 14, 2010

Fun With Hobbies

When my niece was our flower girl, I made up a story called, "The Flower Girl Saves the Day."

She asked me to tell it every time I saw her in the year before the wedding. Once, I sat on the floor and regaled her and 6 of her friends (all boys) with the tale. They all loved it.

Since then, every few months, she'll ask me to tell it again. It's been years since the wedding, but she can't seem to get enough of the story.

After the last visit with her, when she requested it, yet again, I decided to hire an illustrator and self-publish an illustrated children's book of the story for Christmas so that she can read it to herself whenever she likes.

As a bonus, I'm going to make it available via Amazon and Barnes and Noble after I'm done with the gift phase to see if I can turn it into a successful children's book.

So far, I've very much enjoyed this process -- the drafting of the story and the selection of the illustrator from Elance has been the most fun part of my day every day this week.

November 6, 2010

Dreaming in Color

Last night, I dreamed about mousing over pages on the Internet.

My sleep brain even has ads.

Which is weird because I use Adblock.


November 1, 2010

America's Pastime

I *hated* baseball growing up. Grandpa Jack and Grandma Mary always had the radio on on the background when we visited. Constant noise.

Daddy played in college. That's how he got the scar that kept him out of 'nam. In hindsight, I should probably have loved the game more than I originally did. But I was a child, so I was just confused as to why my huge father played baseball instead of football, which he preferred as a spectator.

When brother played little league, I had to be a scorekeeper. I had to mark the runs, the errors, the hits, etc. It had its own symbolic language, which was cool, but it required me to pay attention to my younger brother and his friends rather than going off to play with the other kids, which was not cool. Thank goodness E2 was subject to the same scorekeeping duty on behalf of her brother's team (or perhaps they were on the same team, I can't recall) -- but I do think that's where we originally cemented our friendship, between the hits and errors.

Once, when I was small, Dad took me to a Giant's game with our local Indian Princesses group. Frankly, it was scary. Loud. Big people. Lots of Orange and White. I do remember Candlestick Park though. I thought that was a very cool name for a park.

In college, I knew a few baseball players, and I decided it was a solid sport. They worked hard. They were cocky when good, but humble when bad. Overall, I started to develop a soft spot for the sport.

My first employer had season tickets to the Giants and I developed a healthy respect for the game. I even watched a few college players from CAL make their early careers after I graduated. (ASIDE -- HOW COULD CAL HAVE ELIMINATED BASEBALL AS AN NCAA SPORT?)

When the Giants played the Angels in the world series, I got to go to a game with my employer. It was amazing.

And then, the Giants fell off my radar.

I focused on my life and they did their thing.

Until this year.

When my step-dad showed up to drop off his trailer to attend the first NLCS game and brought me back a good-luck hat.

I've been wearing that hat and watching games whenever I can ever since.

I've celebrated Giants wins this year at my Mom's house, Kapp's, home, the Grand Wailea, and McTeague's.

Tonight, amongst the crowd at Kapp's, E and I celebrated the win with an adorable local couple who've had season tickets for 32 years. The number of pins on their hats? Amazing.

And, as it's all progressed, I've finally become a true baseball fan. What a game! I love it -- the numbers, the data, the athleticism, the drama, the americana, and the esoterica. I look forward to next season!
Wonderful Weekend

A beautiful wedding ceremony for The Enforcer in Tilden Park where the rain waited until after the ceremony to fall.

Hours of catching up with old friends at the wedding celebration.

Dim Sum with family and friends.

Wine tasting with girlfriends in Sonoma.

A delicious Portuguese dinner at La Sallette.

A long walk along the San Francisco Bay Trail followed by mediterranean food.

A long chat with a good friend on the phone to catch up.

Watching the Giants win their third World Series Game while handing out candy to witches, goblins, and ghosts.

Is it any surprise that the return to Monday normal is a bit difficult this morning...

October 24, 2010


I'll never forget the moment at my grandfather's funeral when the pastor referred to my Uncle's professional feats, and then attributed them to my Dad. He claimed Papa (my grandfather) was so proud of my Dad (who, of course, was actually my uncle, by feats).

The old folks in attendance nodded, some touching the outsides of their eyes with kerchiefs.

I watched as my Dad and my Uncle silently refused to interrupt the ceremony with a correction.

Papa was more to the old folks than either Daddy or Uncle. Daddy and Uncle both knew that. They also both knew that if, at some point in the future, it came up with the old folks, they could gently correct them, and they'd acquiesce, blaming feeble memories. They also knew that all of us young folks understood the mistake (as we squirmed in the extra-awkwardness of the "oh-you're-his granddaughter!" or "oh-you're-his-grandson!" existence).

So Daddy slipped a bit into Uncle and Uncle slipped a bit into Daddy, each giving their permission to share their lives with each other, I suppose as brothers do, on behalf of their father.

Watching, as a daughter of Daddy, I was amazed at the slithering identity snake of this family. When you are your most vulnerable, it bites you.

So, no. I guess it's no surprise that I didn't officially change my last name (yet, if ever).

October 21, 2010

And there you have it

I'm back from vacation.

My neck no longer hurts, but I'm still very much looking forward to our big, huge, international trip-to-come. Too bad it's not this month. Or even next month. Bummer...

In other news, Penelope Trunk's most recent post explains one of my largest personality flaws as belonging to all folks that have my Meyer's Briggs:

ENTJs (what Penelope is, and depending on the test, what I am, unless I'm an INTJ) have trouble with tact. They lack a sensitivity that many people require in order to listen.

I find this comforting. I'm trying hard not to question what the comfort says about me.

October 16, 2010

A Perfect First Day of Vacation

After 15 months without a true escape from everyone vacation (visits to family do not count, in my book), E and I spent yesterday relaxing and enjoying the Hawaii in what may be the best first day of vacation I've ever had.

We woke to a 5:15 AM wake up call (yay, time zone change in our favor), took a cab to Diamond Head State Monument and hiked to the top to watch the sunrise.

Then, we hiked back down, and walked the 5 miles or so back to our hotel along the beach, with a stop for the first of many Onigiri snacks for the trip. Mmmm... salmon rice triangle for breakfast.

From there, we checked out chairs and towels and read on the beach 'til it was time for lunch. Thanks to yelp, we found our way to Menchanko Tei for a delicious and filling lunch of Shoyu Ramen for E and Menchanko for me.

The afternoon passed slowly with leisurely souvenir shopping, a trip to the pool to read, a shiatsu massage, and a drink to enjoy the amazing view at House Without a Key.

From there, we walked to a teppanyaki to reminisce of dinners past at Kobe Japanese Steak House. We finished the night with the walk back to our hotel and a drink at the awesomely kitchy Top of Waikiki revolving restaurant, and some final relaxation on our balcony (with another rice triangle for E) to enjoy the night lights and sound of the ocean.

Could I be any more relaxed?

October 7, 2010

New Favorite Potato Salad

I don't usually love potato salad -- probably because it's typically a lackluster presentation of dense calorie mush without much taste.

But a few nights ago, I cleaned out the fridge and found this concoction to be absolutely delicious:

Dill Pickle Potato Salad

-1/2 pint of home-made dill pickles with cumin and mustard seeds in the brine
-1/2 bunch fresh dill
-2 extra-large russet potatoes, boiled, peeled, and diced to 1-2 cm^3
-1/2 small red onion, diced
-1 cup pickled nopales (with the associated onions and jalapenos)
-1/4 cup capers and their juice
-6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
-olive oil
-salt and pepper

1. pulse onions, pickles, nopales, and dill until it is a nice relish
2. Mix relish with potatoes, eggs, and capers until evenly mixed
3. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, mix evenly

Enjoy immediately, or chilled for the next few days.

September 26, 2010

Trending in the Right Direction

Last week, I put over 38 miles on my feet. That's the first time I've done more than 32 miles in a week this year.

Also, I ran my easy 3-mile loop at faster than the necessary race pace to hit a 2-hour half marathon.

IF (and that's a big if) I can keep this up, I just might be able to do the US Half in under 2 hours.

Wish me luck...

September 18, 2010

Out and Back

In 2009, I ran 4 half-marathons and a 17K, but none at less than a 9-minute mile pace. In 2010, so far, I've done a hilly but gorgeous local 10K at a 10:23 mile pace and supported a friend through a run-walk of the Seattle Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon.

In truth, I haven't actually truly trained for a race since 2008.

And, as usual, our annual trip to the capital of fried food, has coupled with the blessings brought by barbeque season to give me the gift of more mass than I want to carry.

Oh, and I've taken to listening to Spanish lessons on my runs, which requires me to slow down so I can concentrate (or at least that's what I tell myself).

This is all a very long way of saying:

I'm in the worst cardiovascular shape that I've been in for quite some time.

So, it should be no surprise to me that when E2 and I met up at the Lexington Reservoir for a long run today, I had my work cut out for me. This route is great for training because the way out is mainly downhill and the way back is mostly uphill.

8.79 miles later, I am whooped.

I originally told E2 that I was going to try to break 2 hours at my 5th consecutive participation in the US Half Marathon. I suspect I may need to modify my goal...

September 17, 2010

Food is Love

After many false starts, Brother has hired two dependable nighttime caregivers who alternate to care for him in the evenings.

One is the wife of a man who owns a taqueria.

The other lives with her mother who makes homemade Mexican food in bulk and sells it as a side business.

Brother has stopped losing weight.

And, tonight, I paid an awesomely reasonable price for hand-delivered home-made pozole.

Like his father before him, my brother is a genius when it comes to people and food.

September 15, 2010


It's not pretty.

No one wants it.

And yet, despite requiring approval for comments, my professional blog has become an unwilling target.

Thank goodness for Akismet, who says:

You are using monochrome theme with 0 widgets. This is WordPress version 2.5.1.

Akismet has protected your site from 8,592 spam comments already, but there's nothing in your spam queue at the moment.

Ahhh.... that's relief.

September 9, 2010

Fraud Alert

Arvay's post on's fraud is worth reading if you ever register for races with them.

September 3, 2010

More Southern Snippits

Today, I took a client call from a London client (yay EST instead of PST!!!) for 40 minutes at 9 AM and went for 2.5 mile walk in Grant Park while chatting. I was warm upon my return, but okay. Then, I headed out for 3 miles of a slow running with S and had to call it short at 2.25 miles because my body just really didn't want to go any further in the 90F+ heat with 60%+ humidity.

Late this afternoon, I actually needed to take a nap to recover.

Thankfully, here in the South, they have professional solutions to this problem. Like the super-fancy awesome popsicle man, the King of Pops (I opted for lemon-basil from the King of Pops' selection of dozens of options, how awesome is that?):


and his unfortunate side effects:


At home, this summer, when everything has been cool and calm and chill, I've had no problem busting out 6-9 miles without planning or training or struggle. For we have no king of pops.

Acclimatization is no joke.

Yesterday, I struggled to jog through a rough 4 miles in 89F with 70% humidity in rolling hills and very little shade. Then, after a shower and some work, E and I walked the 1-mile route to Alon's for a delicious French/Israeli-inspired lunch. MMMmmm... We walked home and I was exhausted, ready for another shower followed by a nap. Damn, the heat and humidity here just kills me.

In other Southern news, today's awesome lunch was sandwiches at Star Provisions followed by stocking up on various meats for the labor day weekend gorging gout-inducement feast.

From there, we went to The Dekalb Farmers' Market, which, frankly, is the opposite of what I think of as a farmers' market.

There was a clear landlord, who controlled the check-out, and photography was not allowed, and many imported items were sold on shelves that were stocked, Costco-style. It was huge. Organized. And, amazingly well stocked. A better selection of lentils then I've ever seen in my life in one location. An impressive meat section. A staggering seafood section -- live crabs, clams, lobsters, fish of many varieties with signs warning "children may not handle live seafood" (only children? SWEET!).

Overall, if you had to pick one place to shop for the rest of your life, this would have to be in contention for the number one spot. I mean, the watermelon selection alone was so amazing that I broke the photo rules and took this photo:


The love of food here is something I can't help but support. In fact, if you are interested in molecular gastronomy, our last night's dessert with friends was an epic commitment to science and food that you should enjoy.

Tonight's dinner was a wonderful evening of conversation, drinks, and food at Leon's full service with the folks I love from the first company I successfully counseled to a positive exit as a solo practitioner -- ShootQ.

Overall, the South is treating my quite well, and I cannot complain. I hope your holiday weekend is shaping up accordingly.

August 31, 2010

Snippits from the South

The bathroom at ATL has Sharps containers. The explanation I received is that the incidence of diabetes is so high in this region that it is a public health necessity.

Yesterday, our lunch was at Waffle House. Today, E brought back Chick-Fil-A. These are the two things he claims to miss the most about the South, so we should be in good shape for a few days.

Yesterday, other than the obligatory Waffle House outing, E and I sat at our computers and silently worked all day in his childhood bedroom. Not too different from a Monday at our home office, actually.

Today, I woke early enough to attend a power yoga class at my favorite Atlanta yoga studio. It was a power yoga, and it was refreshing, in a way, to take a class that was so physical and focused very little on the spiritual, emotional, and mental aspects of yoga where my practice has been focused for the last 6 months.

Sometimes, it's nice just to mix it up. And this class was physically demanding unlike any yoga class I've taken in ages -- I was literally DRIPPING with sweat. At one point, I looked back at the thermostat and it read 102F. YIKES! Power yoga isn't supposed to be as hot as Bikram, but when it's a crowded class and 90F and 68% humidity outside, unless they turn on the air conditioner, I guess that's just what happens.

Interestingly, my last six months of advanced vinyasa once a week at the studio plus whatever I've been able to fit in on my own meant I was in much better shape for this type of practice than the last time I'd done it.

In fact, the instructor only led us through about half of the number of poses that my advanced vinyasa instructor leads us through in the same time period. I was tempted to feel like it was almost easy in comparison because I was able to hold all of the poses without falling out too much or needing to take a break.

But, no. When I finished I realized it wasn't actually easier at all. The exhaustion post class was much more than I'm used to. Probably because, um, my regular studio is typically around 70F. In an un-ecologically friendly non-stereotypically Californian fashion, my Californian yoga studio uses the air conditioner on hot days.

So, today's southern lesson is that a 32F increase in temperature (coupled with increased humidity) approximately halves the physical ability of my body.

Good to know.

August 24, 2010

Summer Salads

Mmmm...Garden tomatoes, garden onions, garden cucumbers, fresh baked bread, gorgonzola, capers, olive oil, sea salt and pepper.


More mmm...Garden tomatoes, garden onions, baked beets, chevre, lemon-honey vinaigrette.


And the most mmmm...A colorful selection of garden heirloom tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, garden basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil from vino nocetto, black pepper and fancy salt flakes and coarse salt crystals (an awesome gift from E's sister).


August 19, 2010

Woo Hoo!

I finally checked, and confirmed that the remaining 8 eggs in our fridge were not recalled.

Here's to small victories and one more reason I want my own egg-laying chickens!

August 14, 2010

Thoughts on Food Policy

As you may know, I'm emotionally and logically fascinated by food. Food enjoyment. Food systems. Food culture. Patterns of food consumption. Food politics. All of it, really.

Most of the time, I process it internally. It comes up in conversation and I share my views, what I know, personally, from trying to make the majority of my own food from fresh self- or locally-obtained ingredients, what I've gleaned from reading and travel, and what I recall from the rants of my 3rd-generation small-scale farmer of 80 acres grandfather who eventually terminated his farming operations for economic reasons (selling land to winemakers and leasing the remainder of the land, claiming, there's no living to be made in farming anymore).

E2 sent me a link to a great article today, that had several fascinating statements:

One sociologist calculated that people have ten times as many conversations at the farmers’ market than they do in the supermarket.

--Huh. I wonder what the Harvard Happiness Studies would do with this data. I'm guessing, based on extrapolation from the correlation between the number of neighbor interactions and self-reported happiness (which, by the way, blew me away), the Harvard Happiness studies would probably treat shopping at a farmer's market vs. shopping at a grocery store as a variable that was correlated with increased happiness. Happiness is not very well modeled in modern economics, but I thought it was an interesting point, nonetheless.

In his 2006 book Crunchy Cons, Rod Dreher identifies a strain of libertarian conservatism, often evangelical, that regards fast food as anathema to family values, and has seized on local food as a kind of culinary counterpart to home schooling.

--Holy Crap. Wow. Refusing to eat fast food is as much of a rejection of general social norms as endorsing home schooling? Wow. I had no idea. Is this guy off his rocker?

And on the Slow Food movement, this article dares to ask:

Ever the Italian, Petrini puts pleasure at the center of his politics, which might explain why Slow Food is not always taken as seriously as it deserves to be. For why shouldn’t pleasure figure in the politics of the food movement?

Here. here.

In a challenge to second-wave feminists who urged women to get out of the kitchen, Flammang suggests that by denigrating “foodwork”—everything involved in putting meals on the family table—we have unthinkingly wrecked one of the nurseries of democracy: the family meal.

--This seems outdated to me. Perhaps I live in a sheltered world, but the trend to me seems to be that people (and particularly my female friends and colleagues) are reaching out and adopting ways to re-learn forgotten food cultures of their ancestors, to re-engage with food pleasures, and, in general, these endeavors are seen as lofty goals, admirable, (and something to be capitalized upon by the marketers -- see the Eat Pray Love/Cost Plus partnership).

On the political value of breaking bread:

Flammang attributes some of the loss of civility in Washington to the aftermatch of the 1994 Republican Revolution, when Newt Gingrich, the new Speaker of the House, urged his freshman legislators not to move their families to Washington. Members now returned to their districts every weekend, sacrificing opportunities for socializing across party lines and, in the process, the “reservoirs of good will replenished at dinner parties.” It is much harder to vilify someone with whom you have shared a meal.

--I have experienced first-hand the value of many shared meals. While I am not remotely attached to Washington D.C. or its machinations, this explanation sounds reasonable to me.

Flammang points out that the historical priority of the American labor movement has been to fight for money, while the European labor movement has fought for time, which she suggests may have been the wiser choice.

--Interesting. Certainly, in deciding to start my own law practice, I opted for the latter. Whether I would have considered doing so without having lived in France and Italy, I'll never know. But, a very interesting perspective.

Overall, I appreciated the perspective and the points raised by this article. I may not have agreed with all of them, but I do think we, as a culture, should be discussing them, and I'm happy that they are being raised.

August 11, 2010

A Good Response

I had my first acupuncture appointment today.

I had 11 points where needles were gently inserted, mainly on my legs and arms, but one on my forehead and one in each ear.

It was quite a strange experience.

Immediately after the acupuncturist left the room and instructed me to try to sleep, I started crying. Hard. For 7 or 10 minutes. I very rarely cry. But I *really* missed my dad and had no choice. So I cried.

And then it was done.

And I was so relieved.

The rest of the 40 minutes was spent with me alternating between checking in with my various body parts and trying to see how they felt and what was going on (tingling? pressure? twitching?), and me realizing I was feeling very intense emotions and then trying to observe the emotions without judgment.

I basically didn't move and tried to breathe and relax and pseudo-meditate for 40 minutes.

The most interesting events where when I recognized I was feeling angry and then literally felt as if the anger was being pulled through the needle in my left foot. It left me too tired to be angry.

10 minutes or so later, I almost fell asleep only to be woken by the sensation of white light coming through my feet to my skull -- it was so strong and overpowering that I opened my eyes and made certain I knew where I was, yup, still at the acupuncturist.

Overall, I can say that I was jittery at the end of the session, and not at all what is the typical response -- relaxed. Oddly, this was a more emotionally charged experience than any psychological therapy session in which I'd ever participated.

My acupuncturist commented that it was normal for people to cry on the drive home, particularly after their first visit. But, that since I'd already cried on the table (which was apparently not super common and that's why she hadn't warned me), she didn't know if the warning was relevant.

I made the drive home without any threat of tears.

And now, after a pleasant chat with Arvay and dinner with E, I've calmed from the session, and I must say, I feel more balanced, calm, and safe than I have in quite some time.

I look forward to continuing this experiment.

August 8, 2010


The latest garden and tomato update is at Tech Law Garden.

I'm running out of shelves to store canned goods, so E is going to build me a storage shelf in the garage.

I consider this a garden victory of sorts.

August 5, 2010

The Best Kind of Procrastination

I've been light on posting, not because work has been busy. In fact, prior to this Monday, the last two weeks have been relatively slow for the first time since I started the business, which has been wonderful.

In this slow time, I did many things (except blog).

I read several books.

I canned pickles and garden vegetables.

I focused on a very regular work-out schedule (and I finally seem to be gaining some of the fitness benefits that had been evading me).

I've also been very social, first catching up with friends and spending time with E, and then, attending several very cool networking events where I've met some amazing founders, venture capitalists, angel investors, and even a few recognizable faces (you know, silicon valley mini-stars).

But, most importantly, I took the downtime to plan not one, but several vacations. For the first time since Alaska last July, E and I are going to get away. Travel porn -- oh, how I love to read and learn about far away places.

In less than a month, we'll be going to visit E's family for over a week in Atlanta and north Georgia. Then, in October, we'll be going to Honolulu and Maui (I've never been to Maui!) to celebrate 10 years of togetherness and to visit friends, and chill and eat and drink and relax in the sand and surf.

But the biggest vacation, after more than two years of false starts, we're headed to South America in December and January. Argentina New Years, here we come!

Planning travel takes way more time than I remembered. It's only now, two weeks after I've scheduled all of our flights and overnight bus rides, reserved all of our rental apartments, hotels, and/or intentionally left some nights open for driving to small towns and taking what we can find, researched visas between countries, and spent countless hours reading about places to go and things to do that I finally recalled just how long it actually took me to plan our trip to Asia in 2008. I'd forgotten the planning, but have tons of memories from that amazing experience, and I'm hopeful these trips will leave me with similar memories.

So, if you've got suggestions for things we should do (or eat!) in Atlanta, Honolulu, Maui, Buenos Aires, Iguazu, Mendoza, Bariloche, or Punta del Este -- let me know!


July 30, 2010

Homemade Birthday Bounty

This year, my birthday celebration was all about food.

First, on Saturday, E2 and I made mozzarella from scratch, using ingredients from the Cheesemaking Kit I bought myself as a present.

For milk, I splurged on whole cream-topped milk from Straus Family Creamery.

After following the first half of the recipe, I was shocked to see that it looked like we may actually succeed on our first attempt:

The curds stretched, just like they were supposed to.

So we stretched them some more.

Meanwhile gorgeous salted garden tomatoes lay in waiting.

We tasted the cheese and could not believe how rich and creamy it was. So, quickly, before we ate it all, we prepared our first course of caprese made of garden basil, garden tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, California Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar from Modena.

MMMmmmmm... Homemade Birthday Happiness.

July 25, 2010


One of the concepts I've been working with lately is the idea of living a life with plenty of space. Temporal space. Physical space. Respectful space that allows other people to have their own life experience while protecting me from unwanted invaders in my life experience.

And, most importantly, the practice of patience to allow things to change or transition within the spaces I've created.

One of the areas of my life where I've been looking for a change is the frequency of my workouts. Life has thrown me quite a few curve balls, and I've pitched a few myself in the last 12 months. I dealt with this by taking time and discipline from my workout regime and placing it elsewhere in my life.

For the short term, that worked.

But now, as time goes on, I'm needing the emotional and physical stability that a regular workout schedule provides me. For the last month or so, I've been trying to get back into a more disciplined and regular work-out regime.

Turns out, trying is not the same as doing, and I was not making progress.

Rather than being disappointed with myself for failing to meet the goals I'd set (which is a traditional approach for me) and trying to motivate myself to change. I took a different approach.

I created space for my workouts:

-I joined a gym for the first time since 2006.

-And, I gave myself the time and space and permission to *just walk* instead of run if that's what feels good.

Somehow, without a struggle, in the space I created, I managed to log my first 30+ mile week in 2010 last week. Excellent!

Here's to more space!

July 20, 2010


Latest pics and garden update at Tech Law Garden.

July 15, 2010

The Devil You Know

I read just about everything that Havi writes and often nod in agreement. Occasionally, I don't like what she's written and I have interesting conversations with myself about why.

Without ever having met me, she teaches me things about myself that I didn't know through her writing.

Her most recent posts on exiting the middle resonated with me.

For the few moments each day when I'm there, being conscious of the moment and acting where action makes sense (and only where action makes sense) is a blissful existence. Each day that goes by, I find myself more grounded and comfortable in the midst of chaos than I used to be. Incrementally, I'm a little bit more able to just act and breathe in the moment.

And yet, every day. I get pulled into drama. I dwell. I get upset. I work myself up.

And then, eventually, I observe this, and try not to judge, but just notice what I'm doing by asking myself questions and giving myself the freedom to be honest. Where am I? Why am I upset? What can I change? What can't I change? What do I want? Why do I want it? Is it a need? Is there something I can give myself to meet that need?

Havi's concept of the middle, where a post-beginner *struggles* to become advanced, or where the hero *struggles* to prevail, where one partner *struggles* to fix the relationship, where each of us *struggles* against the people in our lives we perceive to have harmed us, and most importantly, we *struggle* against who we think we should be -- it is a comfortable place for most of us. It is the devil we know.

Acceptance requires that we abandon the struggle and just act in response to the reality that exists, no matter how different from our ideas, annoying, terrible, unpleasant, distasteful, scary, or boring we may find it to be. If we cannot make the change we want to see, we make a different change, or perhaps accept that no change is available.

As I've written before, my yoga practice has evolved from one where I was seeking great teachers and amazing classes (against which I could struggle) into one where I find a great yoga experience in any class I take or any time I opt to practice, no matter how short it may be.

But unlike a studio-based yoga practice (which provides a supportive calm environment for growth and change) in the real world, actions based in acceptance are guaranteed to cause unpredictable, and potentially uncomfortable, changes.

Most humans, even if supremely unhappy, will always choose the devil they know. This explains why so many of us stay in, as Havi calls it, the "Middle."

How great to be reminded that to exit the middle is as simple as becoming conscious. This is not to say the exit is guaranteed to be pleasant -- it very well may be an unpleasant devil you don't know. But, at a minimum, it will be different, and you will not be *stuck* in the same *struggle*.

Fascinating stuff.

July 11, 2010

Garden Update

Per the norm, the latest Garden Update is available at Tech Law Garden.

In other news, I'm much too busy with work and life to blog about law over at the professional blog in the last several weeks.

Yet somehow, I make time for the garden.

What does this say...?

July 7, 2010


I'm making my way through Home Cheese Making, and encountered this lovely quote:

A small garden, figs, a little cheese, and, along with this, three or four good friends -- such was luxury to Epicurus.
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

I wholeheartedly agree.

Yeah, Nietzsche was an unapologetic misogynist (My personal favorite? Woman is not yet capable of friendship: women are still cats and birds. Or, at best, cows -- Thus Spoke Zarathustra).

But, ignoring that fault, dude was a fairly decent judge of quality when he focused on males.

July 4, 2010

Book Review: Farm City -- The Education of an Urban Farmer

Oh, joy!

Novella Carpenter's hilarious book about running an urban farm by squatting on a vacant plot of land near her home in Oakland (aka Ghost Town Farm) is enjoyable from beginning to end.

I loved reading this book after Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. The similarities are obvious, but the differences are amazing.

In particular, I loved to read how the ghetto and Novella's cause co-existed and embraced each other and eventually led her, through her dumpster diving, to a symbiotic relationship with a high-class restaurant from the Chez-Panisse lineage.

It was refreshing to read stories directly conflicting with Barbara's classification of culture wars between city and country. Clearly, the culture conflict that bothers both Barbara and Novella is much more complicated than simple geography or socio-economic status, as the embracing of the farm by some in the inner city and the thoughtless country slaughterhouse story in Novella's book demonstrate.

Of course, I couldn't help but think that in the country, Novella would have no trouble finding someone to kill and butcher her pig. In the city, this was a true conundrum and she ended up driving 3 hours to pay someone to do it in a somewhat heartless way. In the country, hunters who do their own butchering regularly kill and butcher animals significantly larger than her pigs. No doubt, if I had pigs, I could get some books and ask brother to talk me through the more "you-know-it-when-you-see-it" portions of the process, or I could call some of daddy's or brother's friends and they'd do it for me -- one of them (a former electrical lineman and one-time butcher) might even be talked into letting us use his garage with the built-in drain hole where brother and his friends who can't afford professional butcher fees end up slaughtering their deer if I could bribe his wife to put up with it (and I'm guessing Grandma Sherry would let herself be bribed...).

This personal knowledge of the country is what made me side with Barbara, initially. But Novella's tale rings true to my experience in the hoods of Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco. Yes, I realize, the idea that there is or ever has been a hood where SOMA stands today is a bit difficult to process, but in 2000, I lived on an alley with a tent city. Granted, they were North Face tents. But they were still full of people with lighters under spoons and pipes who informed me that they'd protect my car because I was a nice neighbor.

Farm City is a book stuffed with Californian food history from the last several decades. If you are a bay-area or even Californian food history buff, this book will amuse you with its stories and additional color for things you thought you understood. The author studied for 2 years under Michael Pollan at UC Berkeley's school of Journalism, and yet, her message, story and voice are distinct enough from his that this fact is merely interesting, not an "of course she did."

This book is a gritty, honest, true-to-life tale of someone trying to live sustainably with an urban farm. It showed me that regardless of where you do it, my grandfather's saying was true, "Farming is the hardest business. You go bankrupt or, at best, it doesn't pay well. You only do it if you love it."

July 3, 2010

A Holiday Weekend

June was a whirlwind month for me.

At the law firm, I had to bill around 180-200 hours in a month before I really started to feel like work was pushing my life out the door.

As a solo, that number is much, much lower. I just totaled my billable hours worked for clients last month and it was a mere 139.5. But it felt like 220 at a law firm.

Business development, invoicing, making referrals, traveling to meet onsite -- all of these things were not required when I was an associate at a law firm, but now they are, and they take time (non-billable time, that is).

I definitely prefer my life as a solo over my life at the law firm, but a big end of quarter month is exhausting in either case.

Thankfully, my country's long weekend to celebrate its independence comes at the end of the fiscal quarter. And I'm off to a great start -- I decided not to attend any social events, and instead I'm sleeping in, gardening, doing chores, picking up our wine club shipment (4 months since we've last been in...), and in general puttering around the house without a schedule. It feels great.

Tomorrow, E & I will spend the fourth of July at home for the first time that either of us can remember in a long time. And, bonus, I get to share the celebration with my brother too!

June 25, 2010

Time Keeps On Moving...

The inexorable march of the clock keeps going, and it is amazingly powerful.

I am shocked to learn that it has been more than 7 years in our house for E and me, meaning more than 7 years of BBQ season, capped with more than 3 months as a solo practitioner, and no more than 1 hour since my last discussion with a client who needed my help (I have several right now -- the end of the fiscal quarter makes me quite popular)...

I can't help but think I need to spend more time in pause. Breathing. Taking time. Being alive. Before life takes me (as it eventually takes us all).

The end of the fiscal quarter is a good time to look frenetic chasing of time in the face if you are a transactional attorney.

Because... Wow. It turns out, I need very little. So I'm not acting out of need. And yet. If I don't breathe and pay attention -- it sure feels like I need very much.

June 22, 2010

Happy Solstice!

Summer is here and bringing its usual treats: lots of social stuff.

Last weekend's trip to Sonoma with E's family was gluttonous, relaxing, and wonderful.

A 1999 Barolo we'd been storing was an excellent complement to the meat and dessert courses we shared with E's family for the father's day celebration at Cyrus.

Our wine fridge is restocked, and I have new favorite winery in Sonoma: Passalacqua -- gorgeous grounds, excellent small production wines that you can only buy on site, friendly staff, discounts for wine club membership, and reasonable prices, what's not to like?

Next weekend, I'm off to Seattle to run the rock 'n roll half marathon with a friend I haven't seen in several months. It'll be her first half, and I'm excited to share it with her.

And, of course, the end of the fiscal quarter is doing what it does: burying me with work.

So, I'll probably be fairly quiet on the blogfront until July (when I hope to have ripe tomatoes!).

June 16, 2010

Book Review: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

When I called to E to read him yet another passage from this book the other night, he replied with a grin,

You've got a complete girl-crush on Barbara Kingsolver

And it's true. I've sincerely enjoyed all of the other books of hers that I've read. I've heard the complaint that her writing can be a bit preachy, and that may be fair. But since I don't find her gospel particularly offensive, when she slips in that direction, I tend to forgive her. Also, her later writings (such as this one, in 2007) have a much broader perspective and lack the lecturing that may have turned folks off in her earlier works.

But this book was different. This one was autobiographical, so I wasn't just enjoying her writing, I was actually enjoying her life. And, it just so happens that this portion of her life is the story of a rural-rooted urban-educated woman undertaking a food and farm adventure that is squarely after my own heart.

As a gardener and food enthusiast with a desire for scientific and empirical explanations for decisions in those areas, I couldn't wait to turn the pages to see what she'd show me next about the complexities of the food system that feeds us (the local food business, the multinational agribusiness, and the details you learn from growing, tending, harvesting, and preparing the majority of your own food).

On the whole, it was entertaining, educational, and inspirational. I can't wait to apply some of the recipes to my harvest this year.

Plus, her turns of phrase were often so clever and entertaining that I'd grin to myself with pleasure. She chose *that* word to describe *that*? How wonderful!

In short, this book was a joy for me. If you think it may be for you as well, I've included some of my favorite quotes to help you decide whether you'd like to dive in:

Plants have the karmic advantage of creating their own food out of pure air and sunlight, whereas we animals, lacking green chlorophyll in our skin, must eat some formerly living things every single day.

The antipathy in our culture between the urban and the nonurban is so durable, it has its own vocabulary: (A) city slicker, tenderfoot; (B) hick, redneck, hayseed, bumpkin, rube, yokel, clodhopper, hoecake, hillbilly, Dogpatch, Daisy Mae, farmer's daughter, from the provinces, something out of Deliverance. Maybe you see where I'm going with this. The list is lopsided. I don't think there's much doubt on either side, as to which class is winning the culture wars.

Wendell Berry summed it up much better than "blue and red" in one line of dialogue from his novel Jayber Crow, which is peopled by farmers struggling to survive on what the modern, mostly urban market will pay for food. After watching nearly all the farms in the country go bankrupt, one of these men comments: "I've wished sometimes that the sons of bitches would starve. And now I'm getting afraid they actually will."

On Italy:
It's a culture that sweeps you in, sits you down in the kitchen, and feeds you so well you really don't want to leave.

Here's to summer and making good use of the tomato recipes in this book!

June 10, 2010

Gilroy Delights

For Memorial Day weekend, E and I headed down to Monterey for a weekend away. Along the way, we decided to stop in Gilroy (you know, the Garlic Capital of the World?) for lunch.

Previously, my exposure to Gilroy had been a trip to the outlets to buy clothes for my summer associate gig, and a stop at the The Garlic Shoppe with E2 on one of our drives back from a visit to my gran.

This time, E and I headed to the downtown. I knew there was a Caltrain station, so I figured it had to have an adjacent downtown, just like most of the towns on the peninsula with historic train depots.

We couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised. First, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and we enjoyed our walk around the quiet downtown while searching for a lunch spot. Second, we quickly found our way to the The Pet Peddler (how great is that name? E could not stop snickering...) where I exclaimed for the millionth time, I want baby chicks:


They also had adults, to help me understand that baby chicks wouldn't always be this cute:


From there, we found our way to the Lizarran Tapas (Pinxtos) restaurant. It was, quite honestly, some of the best Spanish food I've ever had (including in Spain).

We both opted to start with a bowl of Salmorejo, which the menu described as a cold tomato and bread soup (like gazpacho):


More like gazpacho and an entree of meat and eggs and bread all in the same bowl. But damn... so delicious.

From there, we shared a Spanish charcuterie and cheese plate (which was probably completely unnecessary):


And, as if that wasn't enough, we also shared a dish of grilled octopus over potatoes (E can't help but order Pulpo -- it's his favorite):


We were full after the soup, but we forced ourselves to finish all of the meats, cheeses, and octopus because it was just that good. It didn't hurt that we had the courtyard to ourselves:


While we were slowly finishing the last bites, we enjoyed a tour of the restaurant. It turns out, the building was the original Gilroy City Hall:



Which means the bathroom experience is very unique:



and the wine cellar is the old town safe:


The server asked us where we were from when he saw me taking pictures, and when we told him, he seemed surprised. He asked why we chose to leave the highway and come into the town. And frankly, we didn't have a good answer other than, uhh... because we were hungry and it was on the way to Monterey and we didn't want to eat fast food. But next time, we'll have a much better answer. We'll say that we stopped, on purpose, on our way to Monterey, because this restaurant experience is so good that it is worth the pause on the drive.

Oh, and of course, I have to share gratuitous beach pictures from the trip.

The view from Highway 1, headed into Monterey Bay:


The view from the restaurant in the Best Western in Sand City (highly recommended for a stop on your way out of town):


The beach below the Best Western's retaining wall on the North end of Monterey Bay (looking across you can see the harbor and Pacific Grove):


Entering the beach from the immense protection of the retaining wall:


California is a wonderfully diverse and gorgeous place.
So Busy

But, there's an update on our garden over at Tech Law Garden.


I've got grand plans to post about our Memorial day trip, soon...

June 2, 2010

Half the year in books

My goal of 20 books for 2010 is looking a little ambitious...So far, I've finished 7 books, and that includes the two I finished this weekend on our Memorial Day getaway (in other words, a few days ago, I was at a mere 5).

But, I think I'm going to try to pick up the pace, as I sincerely enjoyed myself the last few days. I love to read. And, I especially love to read books that my friends send to me.

The most recent thanks goes out to Arvay for her gift of Shanghai Baby and Zorro.

Yes, these are two very different books. But, Arvay knows me well, and I enjoyed both of them.

Shanghai Baby is a crazy tale of a foreign life lived by a young female author in a foreign city. The self-inflicted drama of the majority of the characters is unlike most of my experiences (or even observations), and the culture and backdrop are not my own, yet I found that it was told in a way that felt eerily familiar. It made me want to spend some time in Shanghai.

Zorro is Isabel Allende's mythical lyrical tale of adventure in the early 19th century that explains the origins of Zorro. It combines the Spanish missions in California, Native American magic, gypsies, fencing, pirates, secret societies, unrequited love, prison breaks, travel across the world, and more, all with linguistic flourishes that made me smile. It was a delightful escape.

I heartily recommend both books.

May 27, 2010

That Feels Great!

I took on an emergency client last weekend. I had to shuffle some family obligations, but it was a friend of a friend who needed some help and it was just the type of thing that I know how to do. We were able to get a good result on a very fast timeline.

Today, I received the following email:

Attached is the press release as promised.

Thanks again for everything, you were a life saver! I look forward to getting your bill :-)

I'm fairly certain it's going to be a long time before someone tells me they look forward to getting my bill again.

So, I'm savoring the moment. In fact, right now, I couldn't be more happy with my decision to become a solo practitioner.

May 25, 2010

Happy Feet

So, my empirical study continues with a visit to Happy Day Spa in Sacramento.

I took my Mom for a belated Mother's Day treat on Sunday. She thanked me multiple times. Yay!

Much like my experience last week, this visit confirmed that reflexology-based foot massages that are actually full body massages in hiding are still my latest guilty pleasure. If you find one near you, please let me know and I'll see what I can do to combine a visit with you and a test. You know, in the name of scientific research.

My hypothesis: Reflexology-based foot soak massage shops are the most undervalued massage service available in California today.

I shall test as many as I can find to see if perhaps they vary in quality, cleanliness, lack of sketchy-massage-parlorness and that only some are truly undervalued and others are actually not worth the $30 (typical price, including tip) for the hour.

For a control group, I'm using my historical massage experience with traditional massage shops in the bay area. If you think you've got a high value massage service I should include in the test, please send it my way!

As for Happy Day Spa sacramento, the chairs were not as cool as the ones at my local joint, so we had to sit on the footstools for the back and shoulder massage at the end rather than laying flat on our stomachs. But, both Mom's masseuse and mine were very skillful and the open room was relatively quiet with whispers from the masseuses and instrumental musac.

We both left relaxed. Mom bought a 10-pack (which she will use at the new branch opening up closer to her home), which gets the price down to $18 per massage. After I complete my local survey, I suspect I may opt into a similar arrangement.

May 18, 2010

Latest Guilty Pleasure

So, ever since I discovered the $25 1 hour face, arm, leg, back massage/foot soak/reflexology combo available from our local Chinese Reflexology/Massage Joint, I've been thinking about when I can go back.

But, then I learned there's actually a competitor near 99 Ranch, and I do need to stock up on Asian food.

Clearly, a scientific comparison is in order.

But, in the name of science, why stop with Mountain View? Apparently, there are several options in San Jose, Cupertino, and even, potentially, one in my childhood hometown.

I shall report back.

May 14, 2010

Sili Valley Week

I had a very stereotypical valley week.

Monday and Tuesday, I woke, worked out, worked for my start-up clients and fit in networking lunches. Monday, after a particularly frustrating morning, I also fit in a pre-lunch visit to Happy Feet in their new Mountain View location (Oh! How awesome are lazy boys interbred with massage tables for you to lay upon while beaten to a relaxed pulp by shiatsu-accupressure-influenced hands until your feet are removed for the hot water bath, treated to reflexology and you are finally turned to your belly for the final 20 minutes of back of the body massage/pressure, all in silent common room? Holy grail of massage value -- I'm telling you. Of course, there's no speaking to the masseuse in anything other than Mandarin, but no need, at least for me.)

Wednesday, I volunteered all day as a broken-Spanish (mine, not theirs) translator for a Puerto Rican team of adorably awesome high-schoolers at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and then we hosted a BBQ for visiting Argentinian students (the PR team had to stay with their chaperons -- apparently, we do not appear trustworthy. [grin]).

Thursday, I worked more and attended the Google Annual Shareholder meeting.

And today, I woke to work for an hour and a half, then I took my favorite Friday yoga class, met with a former colleague for lunch in downtown San Jose, and worked from the Hacker Dojo in the afternoon (because I had too much work to do to attend the PhD defense of a friend at Stanford that E was able to attend).

This weekend? I've got a long run with E2 in Santa Cruz tomorrow AM while E bikes along the coast with J. Then we've got a wine tasting lunch in the Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Region at Beauregard and a 40th birthday party for a good work-friend in Palo Alto in the evening.

In short, I am in awe of the chaos and fast-paced life that we live. But, at the same time, we can do nothing more than appreciate the beauty and balance and lifestyle we can enjoy where we live. And I aim to do just that.