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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tortilla de Setas con Queso

Primero vamos a freír las setas con cebolla en aceite de oliva y mantequilla que da un toque francés a la receta. Lo importante—por lo menos para mí—es freír las setas muy bien para que quedan muy tiernos…a mí no me gusta que sean al dente. Cuando están cocidas las añadimos en un bol con los huevos batidos. Luego añadimos un poco de queso tierno y sal. Echamos esta mezcla en una sartén a fuego muy lento…siempre con los huevos a fuego lento. Damos la vuelta a la tortilla y la cocinamos un rato más y ya está. El color debería ser amarillo, no quemado.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tomates Raf

Two ripe raf tomatoes ready for the slaughter. These are winter tomatoes and they are at their best right now.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ten People You Should Kill Before You Die and Go to Heaven (before they die of natural causes)

You can call this the bucket list of other people’s buckets you would like to kick. Or how about, Ten People I’d Like to Meet in Heaven but I Want Them to Show Up Years Before I Do. I’m not talking about going on some amateur rampage after loading up at the corner gun shop.  No, I’m talking about tracking down ten people you really don’t like and relieve them of their ability to breath in the same air as you or watch the same shows on HBO. If you plan this right you could kill two birds with one stone by combining this list with the ten places you want to visit before you die. This would be kind of like if Jason Bourne had a show on the travel network.  If there is a better example of “multi-tasking” I’d like to hear it.

When you finally fulfill your dream of visiting China you could assassinate one of those oppressive communist bosses and cross a line off of both lists. Maybe you will see a panda in the wild as you bushwhack through a dense Chinese forest while being pursued by ruthless thugs from the state security apparatus. Pandas are fairly harmless but if I were you I’d fire off a few warning shots with your serial numberless AK47 just to let the bear know that close is OK but no touching, please.

When you finally get to visit Universal Studios in Los Angeles maybe you’ll run into the executive who cancelled Growing Pains and you can strangle him in a men’s room stall? It could happen. There are many magic moments in life; you just have to take full advantage of them when they are presented to you. Enjoy the tour!

Or how about when you and your son go to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and who do you think is signing autographs that day? It’s that son of a bitch who blew the World Series for your team when you were eight years old. You’ve had all these years to fantasize about how you would do it but when you finally meet the guy face-to-face you may just have to settle for pushing him down a flight of stairs. It’s not very dramatic but it will be easier to explain to your son than pistol-whipping the ex-pitcher and throwing his lifeless corpse down an elevator shaft. Maybe his rookie card that you have been using for the purposes of voodoo will finally be worth something after he has passed on. You know what they say; when one door closes another one opens. In this case it’s a fire exit so run like hell and stick to your story if the cops catch you.

Remember that high school English teacher who gave you an F which forced you to repeat the 12th grade? How were you supposed to know that he would put stuff on the test about Of Mice and Men that wasn’t in the movie version? I mean, it’s not like you had time to read the book, you had a fake ID as a senior so you could buy your own beer. Of course you remember him, especially when he would calmly do the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink as you sweated through his in-class essay assignments. Good news, my friend, he is taking his grandson to visit the Taj Mahal. Here’s a crossword clue for you, teach: Four letter word for the last city you will ever see in your miserable life of pedantry. Give up? Agra!

This is so much fun that I should have thought of it years ago, like before Hitler died. I’d love to see Berlin in the spring. It would have been great to take out a genocidal creep like Pol Pot while taking in the natural beauty of Cambodia. Where did they say Osama bin Laden is hiding? I bet it’s lovely there this time of year. Ah, the places you will visit; the ruthless pricks you will see take their last breath. Now where did I put my passport and garroting wire?

(I wrote this a long time ago and couldn't find it on the blog)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Urban Axiom #118

Don't do Tai Chi in the park unless you want to look like an 80 year old Chinese woman. This isn't a bad look but it probably isn't what you're shooting for.

Urban Axiom #32

The more expensive the car the greater the arrogance in how it’s illegally parked, to the detriment of everyone else. Some people seem to think that if they paid enough for their wheels it gives them the right to actually park on top of a pedestrian, or at least a cyclist—the bottom rung of city dwellers, at least in most cities.

New Marijuana Laws

A map of the United States that shows states green that have legalized medical marijuana use.  States in orange are those with legalized recreational marijuana use laws.

Recent voter initiatives in Washington and Colorado to legalize marijuana for recreational use should prove to be a very interesting experiment for the rest of the country. It will also be interesting to see if the federal government backs off and lets this play out on its own in these places as well as the other states that already have medical marijuana laws on the books.

The next step is having the rest of the nation follow behind this groundbreaking decision.  After that we can work on expunging the records of people who were arrested for simple marijuana possession in the past.  One of the lobbyists who worked on the bill legalizing marijuana in Colorado mentioned that 4,000 people were arrested last year in Colorado for marijuana use.  4,000 fewer arrests this year will save the state an absolute fortune on police and court costs for this fairly innocuous drug. Sorry prison industrial complex, you will have a lot fewer inmates if we start making sane laws about drug use.

Ever since I first tried marijuana when I was in high school I could never understand why it was illegal. It made more sense to my teenage brain to allow its use and then tax the sale of the drug and regulate it like we do with alcohol. But I never really thought that marijuana would be legal in America in my lifetime. I suppose that we aren’t as stupid as I thought.

The official word from Seattle on the new marijuana laws.

Friday, November 16, 2012

An Hasta Luego-Worthy Exchange

One of the things that I love the most about Spain, and something that I discovered almost immediately is how people make a connection with one another during life’s simple moments.  This first happened to me in Valencia on my very first trip in the elevator in the short-term apartment I rented when I arrived here six years ago. My older brother and I got into the small lift with a young woman and her boy of about 4. He had a toy boat with him and I asked him where he was going, you know, small talk stuff.  When we got to the bottom floor the woman said “hasta luego” (meaning “latter” or something like that) as we parted.  I think Americans are about a million times chattier with strangers than Europeans, but we rarely talk to anonymous strangers on an elevator, so this was a bit of a shock to me.

I learned very quickly that the Spanish have very different ideas than Americans about what is considered polite and impolite behavior when interacting with strangers. The guidelines here in Spain are fairly simple so I’ll attempt to explain a few of them here.

When you leave an elevator you always say “hasta luego.”  You wouldn’t say it if there is no one else on the elevator, of course, unless you just like the sound of those two words. When you leave a bar you say “hasta luego” to whomever served you and to everyone in general. Some of the customers may bid you farewell, that’s just the way it is. When you are walking down the street and pass someone you know but not really well enough to stop and have a chat you say “hasta luego” instead of “hola” or some other greeting. You say “hasta luego” when you part company with just about anyone with whom you have had the slightest bit of interaction, like borrowing their lighter, or asking them for the time, or asking directions, or asking if they have finished reading the paper in a café, or any possible human contact beyond simply being in the same general area—although sometimes even this warrants an “hasta luego.”

The other day I stepped into a book and print shop to buy a couple of ink pens.  The proprietor was photocopying something for a young man who probably attends the local technical school.  She stepped away from the copying machine and attended to my purchase which only took a few seconds and then went back to doing whatever it was she was doing for the young man. I bid farewell and both she and the young man answered, “hasta luego.” I was sort of tickled that the young man somehow felt himself to be an accomplice in this minor scene and was thus compelled to participate. But when you think about it, why wouldn’t he? We’re three human beings sharing a common space albeit for only a couple of seconds. Why shouldn’t we be outwardly civil to one another?

I actually feel self-conscious about leaving a bar without saying goodbye. If the barman is in the back I will wait a bit for him to return so that I don’t sneak out like a rat without exchanging pleasantries. What kind of person would do that?

Most people who simply read about this behavior wouldn’t think it’s a very big deal, and I’m not really saying that it is. As I mentioned, it’s just different rules for politeness but there are many times when I’m surprised by how these two simple words can lend an air of intimacy to an otherwise completely mundane situation.