Back on schedule.
Well, I'm no longer three hours ahead. We moved back to Oakland, California in October! Moving across the country twice in one year was pretty nuts, but living in DC was a great experience. I highly recommend a visit!
So I guess that officially ends this blog. It served it's purpose, which was to document some of my time on the East Coast. I don't know what to start a new blog on... yet... but it could happen. I have some friends who are totally convinced of the healing/growing power of writing, and even though I could probably stand to benefit from some introspection (hey, who couldn't?) I don't feel the words are stuck inside of me fighting to come out in a new blog. But like I said, I'm not against the idea. If it hits me, I'll start a new one.
In the mean time, I have started doing something else which is pretty cool. I've always been into building mental maps of the places I like, and the various reasons I like them. Well now there's a website for people like me! I'm building a list of maps, each one is a collection of locations. I've started with—no suprise— a map of all the places I like to eat at in the East Bay, including reviews on what I order. So if you're Hungry in the East Bay, then click on that!
So yeah, here's my My Mapping Homepage. Please let me know if you make one of your own! I'd love to see where you eat/play/work/live!
Stick it in the fridge.
Before getting my day rolling, I was going to have a piece of toast with some peanut butter and maybe a bit of honey on it. I'm thinking: crunchy warm bread, thick peanut butter, a good savory way to start the day.
Our bread—as usual—was in the refrigerator. Some of you may not have heard of the band G. Love & Special Sauce, but they've got this song which includes something like:
I like cold bread with jam
I like cold bread with jam
Stick it in the fridge
...and so on. It's very catchy. I really like it. Anyway, I started singing that to myself as I pulled the bread out of the refrigerator and kept on singing while I peanut-buttered it up and drizzled honey on it.
I like cold bread with jam, uh-huh
I put the peanut butter in the cabinet, and the bread back in the refrigerator.
Stick it in the fridge stick it in the fridge stick it in the fridge
I picked up my snack, and headed out of the kitchen as I took a bite.
Ack! *cough* *sputter!* What?
Something was absolutely wrong and I couldn't figure it out for a split second. Duh! I forgot to toast the bread! Dammit G. Love! You and Special Sauce and the power of suggestion made me peanut-butter my bread without toasting it first! Somewhere you're laughing, so I can only laugh with you.
I tried toasting the whole thing in our little toaster oven. (One of the greatest kitchen appliances of all time!) Sadly, by the time the bread had toasted on the bottom and sides, the peanut butter had bubbled and browned. Hot browned peanut butter on semi-toast was really not what I had in mind at all.
Now I'm worried it's gonna be one of those days.
Huh... that's funny. I just talked to my friend Mitch, who almost certainly introduced me to that song in the first place. He thought the story was extra funny because the lyrics are not:
I like cold bread with jam
but are actually:
I like cold beverages
"It's already broken!"
Herein, I wish to bestow upon you the ultimate blessing of the handy.
The old saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is all well and good, but it doesn't provide any guidance for folks when things is broke! (Whoa, my grammar just broke!)
Before you decide that it is broken, you must apply this initial test. Say to yourself "Step One: is the appliance plugged in?" Really root around and make sure that it is plugged in. I swear that I've fixed (or seen fixed) everything from a freezer to a hot tub, various car parts, some plumbing, and all sorts of computer thingys, just by plugging them in. If not the power cord, then some other cord, or a hose, or whatever.
So let's say it is plugged in (or doesn't have a plug) and you decide that it is broken. Now what do you do? Now you use the blessing of the handy! Your thingy is leaking (plumbing), or noisy (fan), or insufficient (water flow), or ugly (tile), or just not there (you need more outlets). Well my friend, then it's already broken!
And that's it.
"It's already broken!"
Of course it's ok to roll up your sleeves and pull out a few tools, take the thing apart and see if anything stands out. Google the thingy! Some nerd out there not only had the same problem, but they actually made a website about it. I'm sure of it. Narrow the problem down to a part you can carry and take it to the hardware store. The hardware store people love it when you do that! Or take a picture and show it to them. They love that too!
Give yourself a break. Give yourself permission! The more you say it, the more situations it applies to. Of course you're qualified to fix it! Hell, it's already broken!
Note: Any risks, especially electrical shock, must always be avoided. Getting hurt is the only reason not to fix something. If there's any chance of getting hurt, or you don't know if you'll get hurt, start with the internet search and those pictures I just mentioned.
Sub-note: Don't expect the flunkies at Home Depot to be any help to you. One out of twenty people in Home Despot has any clue. Come on now, you know where the real hardware store is. The neighborhood hardware store. The ones that employ at least one friendly old guy/gal with their glasses halfway down their nose and their hardware store apron. They love helping you fix your own thingys. It's what they live for.
Sub-sub-note: If you've taken it apart, and it hasn't gotten better, or has gotten worse, there is no shame in calling a repairman. If they start to give you shit for trying to fix it yourself, stand up tall and look that guy straight in the eye and say, "Hey buddy, it was already broken!"
Ketchup on tap.
Look out, here comes another museum food report! The Museum of American History—which is home to Kermit the Frog—has a cafeteria with burgers, fries, chicken tenders, more fries, fish and chips (which are fries of course), ruben sandwiches with cole slaw, etc, etc. Anyway, in the condiment section, they've got ketchup on tap! Really! My friend Leon and I decided that nothing could be more American. It's the ultimate in ketchup and convenience! You don't even have to pump it. You just pull the handle and the ketchup just keeps on coming.
That's just beautiful.
For the record, they've got mustard on tap too, but that didn't seem as poetic. And they've got mayo on tap which... well... I'm still trying to wrap my brain around what that means. It might have been a bit too obscene for me to comprehend.
Eating in the Stone Age
So there are all of these museums here, and most of them have a cafe or restaurant inside. The art museum has coffee and pastries, the museum of Natural History has pizza and pasta, but it gets really weird when you go to the two museums which represent the opposite ends of the "development" spectrum.
If you visit the American Indian museum (now the preferred legal term for describing "Native Americans") you'll find very fancy fare. It's all traditional dishes made with ingredients from North America: plank-grilled wild salmon, bison steaks, wild mushroom salad with green onions, wild rice salad with watercress and dried cranberries, baked quail stuffed with strawberries. Honestly, the prices are quite reasonable too! I have enjoyed visits to the museum, but since they don't charge to get into museums in DC I have also walked in, gone straight for the food, and walked out very satisfied with my visit.
It wasn't until recently that I finally visited the Air and Space museum. It's a hugely popular museum, packed with visitors learning about the most advanced science and travel technologies. The thing that was absolutely shocking to me was that if you want to eat while you visit the space age, you have two choices: McDonald's and Boston Market. Each offers a very limited selection of their usual menus at shockingly inflated prices.
Isn't that a sad commentary on how "far" we've come?
Fireworks in DC!
That's where I'm gonna be tomorrow night! We're going to BBQ during the afternoon, and then walk down to the mall to watch the fireworks over the Washington Monument.