THERE’S NO FUEL LIKE A FOSSIL FUEL

TODAY’S WORRY

Today, according to AP, “Senate Republicans proposed a $100 rebate check for millions of taxpayers Thursday to counter high gasoline costs, but linked the assistance to drilling in an Alaska wildlife refuge.”  Oh, please.  Take your $100 X millions of taxpayers, invest it in alternative fuel research, save the Alaskan wildlife refuge, and  stop relying on fossil fuels!  I am offended by our government trying to buy me off because it is an election year.

FUELISH THOUGHTS

TODAY’S WORRY

Are you upset about fuel prices?  Do you vote?  I think there’s a way to make politicians sit up and take notice that the American people are sick of the “no program” energy program.  If you feel that your representatives are supporting the non-program then vote them out of office in November.  It is the most powerful way we have of sending a message.

There’s been some rhetoric coming out of Washington this week about energy policy, mostly, I guess, to try to head off what possibly will be a bleak November for Republicans. So far President Bush’s response to the gas crisis has been to warn Americans to expect a tough summer, vow that price gouging will not be tolerated and try to promote energy alternatives that will take years to get to consumers.  He’s also talking today of revoking some of the oil industry’s tax breaks, not filling the strategic reserve until the Fall and easing clean air standards for gasoline.  Hmm, expensive gas or breathing, which shall I choose?

For years people have been talking about using biomass to produce ethanol.  Brazil uses sugarcane.  Here’s a quote from YaleGlobal Online “Over the past three decades Brazil has worked to create a viable alternative to gasoline. With its sugarcane-based fuel, the nation may become energy independent this year. Brazil’s ethanol program, which originated in the 1970s in response to the uncertainties of the oil market, has enjoyed intermittent success. Still, many Brazilians are driving “flexible fuel” cars that run on either ethanol or gasoline and allow the consumer to fill up with whichever option is cheaper – often ethanol.”  And as the price of gasoline climbs, the ethanol becomes a more economical choice.

So what about us?  We don’t grow sugarcane which is easily converted into ethanol.  But we do have plenty of corn and other potential products that could be transformed.  What’s needed is a more efficient way of converting it.  What else do we have?  Brains, initiative and innovation!  Perhaps the government could fund a new “Manhattan Project” to find the solution to our problem. 

It seems to me that terrorism is the scariest thing facing us.  In order to combat terrorism, we need to stop sending the countries that sponsor it billions of dollars a day in oil revenue. We should realize that our energy policy should be more than the need to control the price at the pump, it’s the need to control the future of our country.

 

 

WHEN 28 ARE NOT ENOUGH

First an update on the whole blog/spam issue. Jon has been working with the site and has installed a kind of comment test to thwart mass comment spammers. If you want to leave a comment, there is a field you have to fill in asking for my first name – with a capital M. Hopefully, this will allow real commenters through and keep the other 5000+ faux commenters out.

TODAY’S WORRY

The most respected Swedish lexicographers have decided to stop boycotting the letter W. Probably this is due to the Vorld Vide Veb. You see, in Sweden V and W are pronounced the same – as V. But vhat vith all the foreign vords such as valkie-talkie making their way into the Swedish language, the povers-that-be have decided that the W is vhat the Svedish people vant. The letter will be named the double-v and the Svedish alphabet will be expanded to 29 letters.

SPAM JAM

TODAY’S WORRY

I am being inundated with spam comments (5000 yesterday.) At this point I am unsure whether I can continue the marymom blog. The spam which is generated by drug companies, sex sites and online poker have caused havoc with my regular internet activities.

This is really annoying.

I’M EATING OUT WAY TOO MUCH

TODAY’S WORRY AND RESTAURANT REVIEWS

 Wow, I have been eating out way too much lately.  As Alexander McCall-Smith would describe me in his mystery novels located in Botswana, I am a traditionally built lady, but all this eating out is making me too traditional!

First an update on the post about Jardiniere.  I wrote to the restaurant about the overabundance of salt in their dishes.  The executive chef, Robbie Lewis, wrote me back.  It seems that they have switched from kosher salt to sea salt from Isola Egadi which is off the coast of Trapani, Sicily.  He explained that this salt is much saltier than the salt they had been using and the chefs are still getting used to it.  He also said he hoped that we would come back again.  After the nice personal note and explanation, I am sure we will.

We ate at the The Peasant and the Pear in Danville, Ca. last week.  The menu had just been updated to reflect the spring season.  We started with calamari fritti.  The rings were so tiny that it would have been impossible for anyone not to overcook them.  We also had French fries as an appetizer.  (I know, strange, but we had a real FF lover at the table.)  Unfortunately, the fries lacked crispness.  We were later comped for both these items.  The lamb shank which was the only carryover from the old menu was excellent according to John and George.  Karen had a flat bread pizza which was awful.  Doughy and undercooked.  I had cannellini stuffed with ricotta and in a mushroom sauce.  The sauce was too thick and the pasta overcooked and flabby. 

A – for the lamb shanks and C-/D for everything else.

An update on a previous restaurant review and a new one tomorrow!

EASTER WEEKEND

THIS WEEK’S ACTIVITIES

This last week has been pretty busy for us.  We’ve eaten out a number of times and I’ll be giving you the inside scoop on some of the restaurants we’ve been to next week.  Also our good friends Eileen and Jim came up from Arizona for a week or so. 

We had a family lunch on Thursday with the kids, grandNathan and our friends.  Every time we do something like this, it makes me so glad that we decided to rent an apartment near them.  How great it is to get everyone together fairly easily!  We all took turns holding Nathan who looked totally adorable in a blue outfit with a matching jacket and shoes.  The food turned out well and the company better.

This weekend we are in Healdsburg.  Eileen and Jim’s daughter Alison had an art show at the Flying Goat just off the town square.  So many people came!  She is  a graphic artist and scientific illustrator. (www.lefthandlight.com)  She worked for a while at Scientific American.  During that time, we, along with her parents and friends, turned the magazine sideways and read the credits next to the staples first.  She had some fine works and we were disappointed when the one we wanted had already been sold. 

Tomorrow it’s back to the Bay Area.  We need to do our shopping for our Passover seder which we are having on Tuesday.  Yeah, I know, we should have done it last week.  But just like when celebrating birthdays, Christmas or even Thanksgving, the most important thing is for the family to be together.  To me that’s what a celebration is all about.

For everyone celebrating Easter today, Happy Easter!

UB313

TODAY’S INFO

It seems that scientists at Cal Tech have discovered that the 10th planetlike thing in our solar system, designated as UB313,  is smaller than previously thought.  By using the Hubble Space Telescope, UB313’s diameter measures only 1,490 miles instead of around 2,200 but, nonetheless, is still larger than Pluto.  Astronomers are in a quandry as to whether they should call it a planet or they should declassify Pluto as a planet.  One thing is sure, though, they ought to give it a proper name.  One of the scientists has nicknamed it Xena but in keeping with its original designation,  I thought maybe they could call it Eubie.

BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

CELEBRATION – JARDINIERE, SAN FRANCISCO

 Because we are bad parents, we were not around when it was Sarah’s birthday at the end of last month.  In an effort to atone, we took her out to dinner last night at Jardiniere in San Francisco. 

Jardiniere, San Francisco

The Jardiniere is an upscale restaurant located near Davies Symphony Hall.  Downstairs is some seating and a circular bar.  The balcony seating overlooks the bar area.  It is nicely furnished and has an intimate feel.

Here are the selections we chose last night:

Sarah had duck confit on top of a salad of marinated le puy lentils and heirloom oranges as a first course. This was followed by a loin of cervena venison with black trumpet mushrooms and a sauce au poivre with glazed baby spring vegetables, smoked bacon and creamed nettles.  I can only tell you that Sarah was way too stuffed for dessert.  She made me promise not to review her meal since she is doing a review at Braisin’ Hussy (entry date 4/10/06.)

John started with the braised Colorado lamb and shelling bean soup with Swiss chard and basil.  He said it was very good with the lamb not dried out at all.  He followed this dish with red wine braised beef shortribs with horseradish potato purée and herb salad.  I had this main course as well.  The shortribs were cooked perfectly.  They were moist and  meltingly delicious.  I thought the portion was way, way too big but John managed to finish his and mine too.  Our biggest complaint was that the potato puree melted into the sauce.  The potatoes were just too thin to stand up to the red wine sauce.  They acted more as a sauce thickener.  I was really looking forward to the horseradish mashed potato portion of this dish and I think the whole thing could have been improved by having rustic mashed potatoes instead of puree, more of the potatoes and lessof the shortribs.

My first course was Maine diver scallops with sautéed mushrooms,smoked bacon, Italian parsley and toasted almonds.  You know if you’ve read any of my reviews that getting the scallops right is a big thing we me.  No overcooking!  These were cooked perfectly.  Yum!  But the rest of the dish was really salty.  I like things well seasoned so I would imagine that this amount of salt would be way over the top for most people.

Rating - 

Sarah – B+

Mary –  B+  

John – A-

 

MUM’S THE WORD

TODAY’S WORRY

 Can you believe it!?  First Google limited its content in China and now the Rolling Stones are bowing to the Chinese government and eliminating objectionable songs from their upcoming concert in Shanghai.  Of course, the Rolling Stones have already been censored at the Super Bowl by the good old U.S.A.  (Unacceptable Songs Abolitionists) But the day that anyone thinks that a business (and yes, the Rolling Stones are a business) has a goal other than improving their bottom line is the day that pigs fly.

RANDOM ROAD THOUGHTS

TODAY’S MUSINGS

It’s a long way from St. George, Utah back to the Bay Area.  The only way to go when the mountain passes are blocked with snow is to first drive south to Las Vegas then turn west until Bakersfield and then head back north.  There’s a lot of it that’s pretty boring.  But we usually manage to fill the time. Here are some of our random road thoughts.

Don’t take the 215 bypass around Las Vegas.  It’s really long, has stop lights and is pretty dangerous.  As bad as the traffic can be in Las Vegas, it’s still way faster than the bypass.

I saw a Grimway carrot truck.  I have to say I was disappointed to find out that baby carrots are just remodeled regular carrots.  Somehow I imagined fields of tiny carrots.

Another truck was filled with pigs.  Imagine your life as a pig these days.  They don’t want to fatten you up anymore.  So you spend your pig life on a diet and then they kill you.  Poor pigs.  And poor humans having to eat the horrible product that is modern-day pork.

It’s interesting to see the seasons change along the road.  After you leave the Mohave Desert, you spend about 5 or so hours in agricultural land.  The almond trees have finished blooming and have leafed out but the pistachio trees are still leafless.  Around Wasco there are fields of commercially produced roses.  It’s really pretty in the summer.  What a weird looking plant sorghum is.  Did you know that California grows lots of cotton?  In the late fall there are giant truck-size bales of it.

What’s with “speed enforced by aircraft?”  That has to be bogus.  The only plane we saw that was lower than 25,000 feet was a crop duster.

Why are there so few soft-sided semi trucks on U.S. roads?  In Europe they are everywhere.

When we were at the rest stop between Baker and Barstow there were lots of ravens around.  They were vying for the best rock to pick up and fly off with.  Do ravens build their nests out of rocks?  Do only desert ravens build their nests out of rocks because there isn’t anything else to use?

And finally, I’m not usually a fan of religious billboards.  I know it’s a free country but I wish people would keep their beliefs to themselves.  But there was a clever one in Bakersfield. It had a spigot with water running out of it into a wine glass.  Along the was it turned into red wine.  It was visually interesting.

So that’s some of the stuff noticed along the road.  Towards the end of the trip it started raining torrentially so it was hard to concentrate on anything but the road and the traffic.  There’s been way too much rain in California lately. 

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

TODAY’S MINDLESS RAMBLING 

John likes to name things.  Sometimes he names inaminate things.  When we were first married he named our African violet, Mbogo, the cactus, Juan and our Swedish ivy, Lars.  This trend has continued.  In the pond behind our house here in St. George, we have koi.  We’ve had as many as eighteen but now we have two big adults and several adolescents and lots of fry.  The big ones John named Chauncy and Edgar, as in “there’s something you don’t see everyday, Chauncy.”  “What’s that, Edgar?” of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame.  Although with all the new fish I am thinking that perhaps one of them should be Chauncetta or Edgarina.  And of course we also have Chauncy Jr. and Edgar Jr.  who look much like their parents.  Then there are the two mostly white smaller fish which John has named Mike and Andy in honor of our nephews.  In contrast, there are Sam and Dave, which are red and black.  These are named after the singing duo most famous for “Soul Man.”

Both Nathan and Jonathan were called Little Bruno before they were born.  Sarah was Brunella.  Actually it is really surprising that no one has been called Fred, which has always seemed to be John’s favorite naming name.  Strangely, he rarely calls me by any name.  I must be special.