Saturday, February 28, 2009


Washington DC is really a particular kind of place. As much as everyone there is from somewhere else, a culture develops very quickly, and woe to the person who does not fit in.

At the airport in Milwaukee, I take the escalator from the lower level to my terminal. I stand wherever I want on the escalator. No one is rushing up unless they are seriously late for their flight, in which case it won't be the escalator that slows them up, it will surely be the folks at TSA.

And when I arrive at BWI and take the escalator down to catch my bus, I make sure to stand on the right side. Anyone loitering on the left should know better, despite the fact that there are no signs anywhere indicating this unspoken rule. But at BWI, people who want to walk on the left are polite, because they rightly figure that many of us are coming in from other places.

But on arriving in DC, there is absolutely no standing on the left side of the escalator. Anyone who does is looking for trouble. The words "excuse me" may be read politely on the page (or in the blog), but when someone says them to you on the Metro escalator - beware. They are about 2 seconds away from trampling you or shoving you to the right (and correct) side.

Metro has gone through various attempts to communicate the "walk on the left, stand on the right" culture, and inevitably they give up. There have been on the sides of the escalators, and for a while there were hideous big yellow circles on the floor with "walk left, stand right". My biggest gripe with those was with their grammar. I know what they were trying to say, but it sounded wrong. It would sound better if it said "walk left, stand correctly." Even though I know that's not what they were trying to say. Either way, the circles are gone....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More on Seitan

What can I say? I'm a fan. Tonight I made "ribz". They tasted almost like the Gardenburger Riblets and I have no idea how those compare to the real thing. My guess would be that they aren't even close for a real meat eater. The recipe was the same basic one I've used for fake meat and veggie sausages, but baked with barbeque sauce instead of steamed in foil. The only other small problem I have is that I didn't actually love the barbeque sauce and now I've got most of a bottle left to use.

I've also discovered Trader Joe's Organic Tofu, which is not as firm as I'd like, but it's much cheaper. I can't figure that part out out at all. And for baked tofu (glazed with miso, if you have to know), it's probably better, so it's good all around.

I still haven't made the vegan macaroni and cheese. Mainly because it's not cheese and it requires (according to the recipe) five minutes in the blender. I'm not sure I can handle the noise for that long.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blog-worthy San Francisco

Observations from my 48 hours in San Francisco:
There is something blog-worthy about having done a site visit at a university that boasts a Palestinian mural to Edward Said on the Malcolm X Plaza outside the Cesar Chavez student center.

It rained almost our entire trip, which was good for the California drought and not so good for walking around.

It may be a relatively small city, but it's very easy to get lost, even with GPS. And since when are GPS voices supposed to have attitude. I'm fairly certain that not following the exact directions being shouted at you at the last minute does not call for the otherwise friendly but increasingly annoying voice to say "If you don't want to follow my instructions you should just stop driving."

Whoever said that there is world-class dining at SFO has not had to wait for a Northwest Airlines flight. On the other hand, Northwest Airlines gets my vote for their decision to hold the last flight of the night 15 minutes to allow us to make the plane.

There can only be one explanation for the fact that Pier 2 and Pier 14 are only a few hundred feet apart. The competing reasons are: Piers 3 - 13 sank, OR, Pier 14 is really Pier 1.4 and the decimal point fell off a few years ago. Why anyone believes the latter is beyond me, but evidently I am just that good of a liar.

I had a terrible headache one morning and after realizing that copious amounts of caffeine were not helping, I asked the cashier at our diner where the closest convenience store was so I could go get some aspirin. She told me there was a small store across the street, but when we both looked over it started to rain again. So she reached into her purse and gave me two wax-paper wrapped packets of powder that she told me had Vitamin C and other good things in it that would clear up my headache. She gave me a glass of orange juice, told me to mix it in and I'd feel better. First, I hate orange juice. Second, she's asking me to take an unknown powder that looks like it was packaged at her dining room table. And she was generous enough to give me another one for later if I needed it. So I took it. I'm not sure whether that, or the Aleve that I took an hour later was the cure I needed, but it turns out that you can take drugs from strangers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Technology

I'm not a technophile, nor am I a technophobe. I like gadgets, but in general I'm not convinced that most of them can really improve the quality of life. I could be wrong, and I'm pretty sure I'll think otherwise if I'm ever on a ventilator. In any case, I was thinking about the newer technologies that have made things better and/or easier.

The DVR is something that I love. I can pause a show mid-sentence to dump pasta in boiling water. I can rewind to hear an important line of dialogue that I missed when someone was talking. I can skip commercials. I can re-watch LOST.

I like my ipod, but it hasn't really changed my life. It's nice and I'm glad I have it and wouldn't want to lose or break it. But if I'd never gotten it, that would be okay too.

Someone in our office bought a Keurig coffee machine that takes "K-cups" and brews an individual cup of coffee. Or it can make hot chocolate. Or tea. Or whatever is in the little k-cup. I'm pretty sure it can't make a martini, but in time, I'm sure someone will figure out how. This is something that has changed my office life. I used to go out in the morning and get a large coffee. I would take my time drinking it and by late morning be done. But now, all I have to do is put a little k-cup in the magic machine and there's another cup of coffee. And all for the very low price of fifty cents. I'm not sure I would need one of these at home, but at the office, it's like having our own magician, just for us.

I wonder what's next....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I think there are two kinds of people and things in the world: those that clump and those that do not.

For example - last week I was at Whole Foods. They usually have a fair number of samples scattered throughout the store. What I had never noticed is how close together they all are. You don't even have time to finish trying one thing before you're beset with another. I understand that there are good reasons for why they place their samples where they do (something about having them near the product they are actually trying to sell), but it's not convenient for us grazers.

Or today, when I was waiting for the bus. On my way to the bus stop I saw two buses go by (and I was too far away to catch them). Another bus didn't come for 15 minutes, and when it did, there was another bus immediately behind us. There are six bus lines that run down the street -and if they were to each go down the street every five minutes, no one would wait for a bus more than a few minutes. This way, they all seem to be on the same annoying schedule.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

More Cheese

It turns out that you can make fresh mozzarella with regular milk. I still bought the Organic Whole Milk, rather than the regular stuff. It's the first gallon of regular milk I think I've purchased in 16+ years. Even though we use other dairy products, for milk, it's only soy in our house. I may need to try the cheese with soymilk next....

I think the cheese is good. It's not as soft as store-bought fresh mozzarella - it's much firmer. I'm not sure if that's a temperature issue (too high?), a rennet issue (too much?), or a patience issue (not wanting to keep dipping and kneading). Or, it could be something else entirely.

Either way, I have more fresh cheese! And a huge (!) pot of soup that I made from the leftover whey. I'm calling it lasagna soup because that's what it smells like. The whey smells a little like ricotta, and once all the vegetables are added and some noodles, it's more or less the same ingredients. Except there's no parmesan. And lasagna doesn't usually have celery and carrots. Or peas or green beans. Or a little bouillion. Whatever.

We also have 1/2 a pot of chili left and if I don't make black bean soup tomorrow, I'll have to find room in the freezer for about 6 cups of black beans. And I also have to figure out where to put another 4-5 cups of navy beans. There's no room in the freezer!