One Line Posts...

are the easiest! No thought, no time, but keep the blog alive.

Someday, blog, the video games will become tiresome, and blogging will become appealing again.

New Year's Recap - Part 2 (and Wildcard Weekend Preview)

We arrived in Seattle on Thursday night, fairly late, and Charles and Nate picked us up and whisked us off back to their relatively new and lovely home somewhere near Ravenna, north of the U District. It was cold the entire weekend, but clear, and again the mountain views from the city were gorgeous all four days we were there.

We woke up on the 31st, Friday, and Charles made delicious waffles. We went downtown during the day and walked around the market, had a drink or two at Kell's, ate lunch at Wild Ginger, and ran some errands for the party that night. Nate and Charles hosted the party, which was attended by about fourteen or so people. Gwen and I met various friends of Charles and Nate, mingled appropriately, and a good time was had by all.

On Saturday New Year's Day we relaxed most of the day. We stopped in Fremont for lunch and had a pretty good meal at a cultish vegetarian place where the food was fresh and the wait staff (all robed in Hari Krishna gear) was, frankly, creepy.

That evening the four of us met up with George, Cristin, Rodd, and Krista for a nice dinner at the Dahlia Lounge. I hadn't seen Rowdy Roddy since residency graduation and he went on to become the cover boy for every Tom Clancy Splinter Cell game by joining the real special forces. He couldn't tell us his official body count, but I'm betting it stands at 287 by now, the majority of his victims Pakistani Insurgents and most of those deaths coming via single silenced executioner-style head shot, though throat slitting is a close second.

Rodd did even less to dispel my commando image of him when he told of his home security system, which as I recall involves about fourteen different weapons scattered about the house and essentially has him camping out nightly in a sniper's nest in one of the upper corners of his family room. He lies awake each evening, deadly still, fingering the trigger of his modified Austrian assassin's rifle, just praying for someone to break in.

I kid, mostly.




After dinner we headed further into Belltown and stopped off at a bar on 2nd avenue. Then on a whim we ordered pitcher after pitcher of "PBR", trying to relive our old residency days I guess. Many stories and much catching up ensued, and by the end George, Rodd, and I were all fairly drunk. It was awesome to see everyone and I look forward to doing it again. (Favorite story: Rodd briefing a one-star general on one of his jungle deployments about some rabid monkeys who had bit some people and recommending they be brought in for "testing" followed by the description of the special forces hunt for them.)


On Sunday I woke up with a solid hangover (mental note: avoid PBR in the future) but was feeling much better after a brunch at Rosebud. How many hangovers had I cured there when I lived in Seattle? Many. The food was delish and afterward I left Gwen, Nate, and Charles to their bar hopping while I wandered down to the old Fox Sports Grill, where I had wasted many Sundays in the fall while I lived there, and watched the last Sunday of regular season football. The Giants had a hope of making the playoffs, but only a fool's hope really, and even that ended with a Jay Cutler interception which propelled Green Bay to a win and a playoff berth over my beloved G-Men.

The Fox Sports Grill was a great place to watch football back in the day, I think, but since I've left the advancements in football viewership have kept coming and the place hasn't quite kept up. Mostly they lack HD screens and frankly I've become used to watching multiple games from the comfort of my own couch. As always week 17 is kind of odd, without the distraction of fantasy football as well as several meaningless "real life" games the viewing becomes a bit more distilled.

I sat at the bar and at some point a mildly attractive woman took the seat next to me. Following that I had the alternately amusing and annoying experience of a front row seat to multiple steakheads coming up to her and making their play. The woman was nice enough but not very bright - on several occasions she asked me "who needed to win today" in between ordering beer after beer. She would forget what I said and then ask again and again.

"I TOLD YOU if the Packers win they're in the playoffs!"

She was a Saints fan but New Orleans lost to the Bucs that morning. When that game was over she declared to me "I hate the Bucs - they beat us in the playoffs last year I think before we won the Super Bowl." I just stared at her for a few seconds and then resumed watching the games.

When it was over I joined up with the gang again and we had a few more drinks and took the picture below. That evening we headed out to Shiro's which lived up to all my prior expectations. I demanded we sit at the sushi bar for the best grub. Shiro was there, timeless, but we did get to sit in front of him, which was OK because the other chefs were rock stars too as far I'm concerned. As always at Shiro's, I tell them to fix me whatever they want and then I just sit back and eat and eat and eat in what becomes a euphoric haze of a meal. The Toro is made from real butter I here. Just awesome stuff.

When we got back to the place later we threw in this awful movie, called "The Room", which has become a cult classic for it's awfulness, and man was it bad. It was good-bad, though, and we were howling with derisive laughter at many a scene.

Monday we flew back to San Diego and well, that's about it.

And on to Football

The Season is over for the Giants, and I will have to wait another eight months before I get to see Eli Manning throw a tipped ball interception and follow it up with a world class Manning Face and his patented shucky shoulders. I've made my peace with the 2010 Giants season, because what else can I do? They seemed primed for a decent playoff run at least but it all went to hell in the last six minutes of that Eagles game. Now instead of rooting for big Blue I will be stuck staring daggers at the Eagles for the entirety of their playoff existence.

Papa Stup had this to say about the Giants season, which was sent to me right after the final game in a quick email:

"Giants won but looked like a team that was playing not to lose. ELI still very inconsistent. At least analyst are now pointing out his big problem is footwork. Not set, throws off back foot which causes ball to go high which is directly responsible for a lot of his interceptions. Special teams a F- all year. Too old linebackers need replacements. Faster secondary which wants to tackle not just throw the body. Need new running backs who are faster and can be thrown to out of the backfield to keep the defense honest. Three yards and a cloud of dust will not be acceptable for the future. Also wonder how smart some of these players really are. Seems to me they commit too many errors on coverage (defense) and routes (Offense). All of these are easy for anyone to see so the coaches should know and adapt during the game!!!"

He has also been harping on Eli's lack of strength lately, which has led to some amusing discussions as well. Eli is, by my dad's account, by far the weakest quarterback in the league. At this point I can't say I disagree.

Here's how the playoffs look right now, mere hours before the first game kicks off:

5)New Orleans
6)Green Bay

1)New England
6)NY Jets

And here is my order of rooting priority for the playoffs:

1)Pittsburgh (for obvious reasons)

2)New Orleans (Still love Drew Brees and Sean Payton)

3)Green Bay (Would love Aaron Rodgers to stick it to the Favre legacy)

4)Indy (I think Peyton deserves a few more rings)

5)Seattle (Albeit there's no chance in hell they're winning)

6)Atlanta (Meh, I have less reasons to dislike this team I guess)

7)Chicago (Hate Cutler, but love the mascot)

8)KC (About as meh as I can get for a team)

9)Jets (I don't like this team, but I guess I like them better then the rest)

10)Pats (Brady sponsors Uggs now? Good God.)

11)Ravens ("And they cursed us (Ray Lewis)...MURDERER..." oh wait he's religious now so it's cool)

12)Season canceled, no champion crowned, football over forever

13)Nuclear War

14)Eagles (*initiate dagger staring*)

New Year's Recap - Part 1

(Blogger's Note: I apologize for the short length of this post, but my current strategy to keep this blog going on a consistent basis is to post frequently but spend no more than an hour on a post. And what you see below is, believe it or not, an hour's worth of work. I type fast, but I think slow, I proofread often, and I edit frequently. I'm constantly rearranging sentences and paragraphs, and linking and pictures always takes longer than it seems to. Still, better to get something down and then hopefully keep it going rather than doing nothing.)

This is the Emerald City. I once lived there. I spent one year living in the city proper, and two years living in the surrounding area (Tacoma), and I always enjoy returning there. Gwen and I did as such for four days over the New Year's weekend.

When we were leaving the Army and Europe, it came down to a decision for us, between Seattle and San Diego. Gwen favored Seattle, and I favored San Diego. I won (we arm wrestled),BUT, it was actually a closer call than some would think (Gwen's got guns). For all of San Diego's charms (the brilliant weather, the close proximity of several lifelong friends, the brilliant weather again), it does not compare to Seattle in the departments of food and a sense of identity. San Diego, like much of southern California, is a sort of sprawling concrete jungle. Its chief strengths, in my opinion, are its astonishingly consistent weather and its downtown and isolated beach communities marching up the north county coast. Aside from beatific rolling hills I could take or leave the entire inland part, and the desert, which is not so far away, holds little appeal for me.

Seattle, on the other hand, is bursting with identity. The downtown is large but accessible, the surrounding districts unique and full of charm. The geography is visually stunning and includes all things I love: hills, water, and mountains, and the restaurant scene in Seattle puts just about every other city I've ever been in to shame, including the fabled New Orleans and even San Francisco (though I've perhaps not explored there enough to judge). San Diego's own restaurant scene, though certainly not bad, cannot compete. The microbrew scene is extensive (though San Diego can compete here), and the proximity to looming mountains is enchanting. It has a waterfront of course, though one that is distinctly different from that of San Diego's. The generally liberal nature of Seattle also appeals to me, but on the flip-side the average Seattlite you run into is much less likely to be openly friendly than the average San Diegan, a minus. (Translation: Seattle liberals tend to be unfriendly jerks.)

The big problem with Seattle, of course, is the weather. It may be a trite thing to comment on, and it might not affect all who live there (see: Gwendolyn circa 2001-2005), but it's no less true for many people, including me. There are nine months of a blackish gray shroud which descends upon the city like an alien mother-ship, and do not leave until early summer. By March in any given year the gray has won the battle against those of us with any slight predilection for seasonal affective disorder, and by April, at least in the years I lived there, I would be wandering around like Frodo in the end-stages of his journey to Mordor, forgetting the touch of grass and the sound of water. Give me several years there, even taking into account the stunning and rejuvenating summer, and I would get fat (less exercise outside, more beer drinking and food eating, and the cold), unhappy, and I would forget the taste of bread as well and be turned into a virtual Gollum.


So, alas, it's not meant to be for me, at least at this point. I'm over cold weather, for the most part, and Seattle, though not typically freezing, was effing cold during our visit. On the upside it was clear and all the mountain ranges were astonishingly visible, probably a worthy trade off, at least for a four day-trip.

And so we traveled there, mostly to see Gwen's brother and Nate, but also to catch up with other good friends including George and Cristin as well as a special guest appearance by "Rowdy" Roddy Marcum and his lovely wife Krista (I hope I spelled that right).

Gwen and I planned most of our trip around seeing Nate and Charles as well as George et al., however on a more secretive level we actually planned our entire trip around eating Seattle food. It was Wild Ginger's for lunch on New Year's Eve, followed by Dahlia Lounge the next night, followed by Rosebud for Sunday brunch and then Shiro's sushi for Sunday dinner. Drinks flowed before, after, and in between, and the calorie intake for the weekend stands at about 5500 calories per day, but worth it.

(Continued soon in Part 2!)

Christmas Recap - Part 2

The week leading up to Christmas here in San Diego was characterized by highly atypical rains which resembled nothing short of a biblical attack on the city. For three days straight it poured like a jungle scene in Lost and every mundane event became a major undertaking, from driving to work (45 mph tops some days, water flooding various highway lanes) to walking the dog (who hates rain and is fickle about picking her potty spots - turns out 25 mph winds and waves of pelting rain don't help the process).

One morning I had to sit for a full 10 minutes before the rain died enough to allow me to get from the parking lot to the building without being absolutely soaked, even with umbrella in hand. This is not a common occurrence in Southern California. I thought a bunch of my patients would no-show or cancel on the bad days but to my shock every 84-year-old in sight still made it to the clinic to demand their viagra, a scary thought indeed because it means they were also out on the roads on those days.

Adding to the apocalyptic feel was the fact that I resumed commuting with books on CD this particular week. (I gave up on Sirius NFL radio and football podcasts for the year because of the Giants' collapse the Sunday prior. Not wanting to hear about the "greatest punt return in NFL history" or the "worst fourth quarter collapse in NFL history" over and over again, I opted to just focus on something else and pretend it never happened.) The first book on CD I rented from the library was "World War Z", which carries the subtitle "An Oral History of the Zombie War". It's a great book, and well worth the read/listen, but with its creepy background music, talk of a black sky, and gruesome post-civilization feel it definitely added to the sense of end-times while I was driving through monsoon after monsoon on my way to work and back.

I worked all the days leading up to Christmas but was off for Friday Christmas Eve and the weekend itself. This year Gwen and I opted to relax, not travel and do absolutely nothing for Christmas. Our weekend was very mellow and mostly entailed me playing online Madden, fretting about my fantasy football teams, and us watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy and drinking, all annual traditions in our house.

The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition is not yet in Blu-ray (The cinematic edition IS, but once you go Extended, you never go back) and I eagerly await its appearance. The standard-def DVDs are pretty solid, but certainly not Blu-ray quality, and it seems we are only watching things in hi-def these days. This viewing marked the first occasion where we watched on the TV's natural setting of 120 Mhz (we turned that feature off last year). The higher frame rate clarifies things but also cheapens them somehow, making things more realistic, like they are happening outside your window, but less cinematic. In the end it looks more like high-quality video then film, and honestly I'm not sure I'm a fan of watching everything in this setting. Some films are probably best viewed with a slight hint of non-reality covering the proceedings and the LOTR trilogy might just fit into that category. From my perspective the jury is still out on the matter.

My Christmas bounty this year included included many fine gifts, chief among them a ping-pong table! I have been jones-ing for one ever since we moved in, with visions of precise attacking-style ninja shots in the setting of serious ping-pong alternating with visions of high arcing cannonballs bashing the rims of red party cups amidst raucous laughter in the setting of beer pong. Now both fantasies may be entertained.

Gwen's presentation of the gift cannot be ignored. The first gift I was made to unwrap was a heavy rectangular object which I couldn't quite figure out. When the paper came off it revealed a 12-pack of Coors Light. Within seconds all became clear, and the next packaged handed to me was a set of paddles, followed by white balls and other ping pong supplies, and finally a walk out to the storage garage where she had hidden the self-assembled table. Strong work from Gwendolyn, who has proven time and time again to be a shrewd gift ninja, able to hide large objects from me under my very nose. Well played, madam.

We are looking to get a grill this spring and then my plan to turn our house into barbecue ping pong dance party central in time for summer will be complete.

Soon to be our house!

And thus ends the Christmas Recap. Stay tuned for New Year's Weekend Recap coming soon!

Until then, some pictures of Mon Mothma Kwanzaa Blow Out Celebration 2010.