Can we? (20090120)

20090120-time-for-a-change 20090120-rwb-conversation 20090120-skye-seth-no-col Top to bottom: Still a long way to go, President Barack Obama's inauguration outside San Francisco City Hall, Jan. 20, 2009. A red, white, and blue debate in San Francisco, CA. Skye and Seth, 1286 Folsom Inauguration Ball, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2009. Finally, we have trimmed the Shrub. And with a flamethrower, no less. There is little good that can be said about American politics over the past eight years. Democrats, with Feinstein, Reid, and Harman's unwillingness to stand up to King George, and Republicans, with their deification of their Decider, have led the country to the brink of ruin. Even Barack Obama's capitulation on FISA stands as tall as it stinks. And yet... we are all filled with hope. There are no protests over stolen elections. The country may still be divided, but the cleavage (good grief have I been saving THAT line!) is not a banal bifurcation: People who care about nationalized health care, green engineering, women's rights, and other ostensible social issues have won out. Sorry, gays, guess you'll have to wait until Prop. 8 gets repealed. The three photos above, however, summarize reasonably well the mood of the nation. It's a hard time for many people. We are faced with the unpleasant task of holding a president's feet to the fire, and it's not clear that we have the resolve as a nation to carry out the laws of our country nor the international treaties to which we have signed. This is due, in no small part, to cowardice on both sides of the aisle. No matter who wears the red, white, and blue, we will continue to debate how we shall proceed. This, at least in my estimation, is A Good Thing. If Repuglicans truly believe in Milton Friedman, than vaya con dios. The rest of us will assume that Keynes summed it up best. And then finally, the nature of the personal debate. Had John McSame won the election, I would've been hard-pressed to prove to my Financial and Menu Adviser that staying in America would've been worth our while. Despite the benefits of being near hometown and family, the winds and the sanity of health care take one where one must. I read today several motivating posts on Talking Points Memo. The gist of them all has been, something about Obama makes us care. Despite my own natural cynicism, casually supplemented by bumper stickers that read, "Dare to Hope. Prepare for Disappointment," I will try to believe that Obama acknowledges that his victory comes at the expense of people. We have left everything on the road: behind us is nothing but a trail of burned-out mufflers, busted tires, trashed batteries, and melted sparkplugs. And yet, for one crucial day, one critical speech that will define today's teens and tomorrow's leaders, we will all believe that as Americans we can bring back our nation from the brink of disaster. This depends on being able to hold everybody from lowly Dianne and Jane to lofty Dick and George accountable. Good luck!

Spray at Sutro (20090110)

Sutro Baths ruins, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2009.

Sutro Baths ruins, San Francisco, CA. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2009.

Parental Unit the Elder and Sibling the Younger and I toured the newly re-opened Sutro Baths ruins today. The history of Sutro Baths is a typical tale of San Franciscan development. Born at the close of the 19th century, it struggled with operating costs during the mid-20th century before closing in the 1960s. Just after, it succumbed to a destructive and somewhat suspicious fire. The excellent Outside Lands Web site documents the history of the attraction. It's always been a source of mild curiosity for me. At the far northwestern tip of San Francisco, the baths have been an obliterated pit as long as I've known them. Little is left of the anything but the foundations, but their enormous footprint can still fire the imagination. Even lesser known was they played host to more than just ocean temperature and heated pools. The Outside Lands site points out that to maintain public interest, owner Adolph Sutro hosted "trapeze acts, contortionists, dwarf boxing matches, magicians and high-diving canines" at the Baths. Egyptian mummies also made it out to the swimming and carnival extravaganza, which probably fit right at home next to the stuffed animal decorations.

Duckfood! (20090103)

Skye versus a duck. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2009.

Skye versus a duck. Seth Rosenblatt (c) 2009.

Last night, the FMA and I had the Parental and Sibling Units over at our new apartment for dinner. SU the Younger currently resides in Missouri, and SU the Youngest is in Boston, and both are gettin' schooled, so the chances of everybody's schedules lining up in the near future are slim. Having impressed Parental Unit the Elder with a Thai green mango salad and Thai basil clams earlier in the week, we decided to stick with the same dishes, but starting a tom kha gai-style coconut-and-fish based bouillabase and ending with a roast duck. We have not yet figured out how to make duck as delicious as the Peking-style we had at Da Dong in Beijing, but we are getting ever closer. This time around, we poached the duck before roasting it. This allowed much of the fat to melt away before crisping the skin, and prevented the skin from getting soggy during the roasting process. We have also returned to roasting the duck horizontally. Although the vertical roaster was cool to see - open the oven and there's a duck standing tall on a wire rack - it was impractical without a higher quality oven that wouldn't blacken the top while leaving the bottom undercooked. Cooking for six in our small kitchen is not easy, with a constant need to wipe down surfaces and repeatedly clean pots, pans, and other implements of preparation, but things went off without a hitch and we even had some leftovers. One of these days, we'll remember to cook extra for leftovers instead of being surprised at what hasn't been eaten.

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