Monday, January 31, 2011

New Year's Resolutions 2011

Dear Mark

I wrote you about a new resolution that I made which was to master some classic cocktail recipes. Not all of my 2011 resolutions were based in bad ideas though. Lavinia and I made several this year that are proving to be quite fun. We took an approach based on the goal of building good habits. Habits are said to form after 3 weeks of consistent routine. I think it helps when you don't sleep most of the day during those 3 weeks, which explains how you avoided picking up habits during high school.

This year we decided to tackle something every month. We will try it out and see how we do, hopefully building a good habit. We wanted to do things that the whole family could do, or at a minimum we both could do. I'll share the list with you each month, simply because we reserve the right to change things around.

January 2011 - Workout 3x a week.
Our goal was to start working out three times a week. We both set some mid-year goals to reach, nothing as lofty as riding my bike across the US, but good goals. To that end we both wanted to start exercising 3x a week. I'm not sure who has done better, I think the it goes to Lavi. She's managed to get out for her walks at a minimum of 5x a week. I'm very proud of her. I myself have been running 3x a week and making it for a some core strength work 2x a week. I managed to start reserving my lunch times for working out and have stuck with it, not letting work derail me.

So January is in the bag. February is going to be a tough one for me though. The goal is to not eat lunch out but 1x a week. This is going to be very hard for me. I'm lazy when it comes to making my lunch and I'd rather just pick something up. However, Lavi is inspired to cook some things I'll really like. I already have a tupperware (mexi-tupper from Luisa's) of arroz con pollo for this week waiting for me. Wish me luck!



Dear Mark

This year I made a few resolutions. While many times resolutions are used to improve a person's morality or lot in life, I've added one that could fall into things that many people try to resolve against. I have decided each month to set out as a goal to master the making of a particular cocktail.

Long ago I perfected the Margarita. While many state my margarita's are a bit strong, I simply state they are holding me against poor examples from bars that water down their drinks in order to extend revenue. The journey to the best Margarita has left me with some very nice bar and glass ware that I want to put into use a bit more. Not being much of a beer drinker (I know that my Germanic gene's just shudder) I've always enjoyed a good cocktail more.

So with the goal in mind and January coming to a close soon I set out on my task to learn to make a Sidecar. Now the Sidecar has a good history. If I may borrow from wikipedia; "The exact origin of the Sidecar is unclear, but it is thought to have been invented around the end of World War I in either London or Paris. The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims origin of the drink.[1] The first recipes for the Sidecar appear in 1922, in Harry MacElhone's Harry's ABC of Mixing CocktailsCocktails and How to Mix Them. It is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948)." and Robert Vermeire's." I often hear of the Sidecar as being "my grandmother's drink," but that didn't stop me.

What is in a Sidecar you ask? Great question. Essentially it is Cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice. Now that sounds simple, but I learned from mixing margaritas that ingredients matter as much as the ratios, something that as a Chemist I'm sure you understand and appreciate. I used Brandy and Cointreau. The key I think is fresh squeezed lemon juice. The ratio is also important of 1:1:0.5 respectively. Shake it all up with ice and strain it in a cocktail glass and enjoy (never mind the funky background of the picture below).


Why chose a Sidecar? To tell the truth my secondary goal is to mix cocktails that just don't sound that girly. As I look at my list there is a noticeable absence of the JD inspired Nectartini or Appletini (even though we all know and love them). I can order a Sidecar in a group of co-workers or friends and not be looked at funny. I do enough things in my life to garner funny looks without needing to serve it along side a drink.

So the Sidecar has been mastered. Now I'm off to select February's drink. Not sure what, but I'm sure it will be delicious.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Jack-ed Time Line

Dear Mark

Lavi and I take a lot of photos of Jack. I'm sure when he's 18 he'll join a group of generation kids who have had almost every step of their life documented. I got my iphone right about the time he was born. As I result I have about 3 years worth of photos on my iphone. Jack has recently really dug looking at them. He sits and flips through them more easily than your parents can operate my iphone. He likes looking at the videos that I've captured of him riding his bike and doing various silly things. Bringing out the phone while we are out to eat has been the ace up my sleeve lately for keeping him occupied.

I was looking back at the photos and I have a couple that when viewed side by side are pretty cool. The first picture here is Jack at Gorditos restaurant in Seattle. We took him there when he was about 8 months old, and again on and off each year. I have a picture of him at 2 and 3 years old all side by side. Neat to see them along side each other.This next set is from another restaurant, Wild Mountain Cafe. A place we like to go for breakfast. When Jack was little we'd get up early (because like he was already up so it wasn't hard), put him in the stroller and walk up for breakfast. For some reason Jack is always a good boy here. He likes the food and the wait staff is really sweet to him. These pictures are about 9-10 months old and 2.5 years old.

This last set is from Carkeek Park. I remember the first picture because Jack was only about 5 months old I think. I was working from home one day and Lavi had a doctor's appointment. I took off at lunch for a stroller ride with him down the back trail to Carkeek Park. The pictures are from the same bridge. The most recent one is from last week. Jack walked the entire way to the beach and part of the way back. When I took him down there in the stroller I never thought he'd ever get that big so quick.

My Mac has a collage screen saver setting. There are times when I just stare at it and see him grow up through photos right in front me. He's getting to be such a big boy.

Did I tell you that he's always been in the 90%+ range for height on the growth chart? I cannot even fathom what that means. I never cracked the 20% mark I think. Heck with today's standards in car seats for kids I'm lucky my first car didn't have a booster seat for me. As I look around the family though I realize I'm the shortest guy in the family on Dad's side. Luckily I tower over cousin Patrick by like 1/2 of an inch. Heck I barely make Megan feel short that's how short I am. I guess I'm glad Jack won't have that problem.

Well, more soon. Take care.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Dear Jeff,

Don’t be alarmed, but you and I just had a FLAPJACK situation. Do you need to be alarmed? Is it more dangerous than breakfast food? Should you be under your desk? Should you short sale your long term investments? Is there a special dress code required? Are you thinking you already had a Flapjack situation that one time in college? No worries it’s just a Team Shark code word.

Now, quick aside to bring everyone else up to speed. So it was ~10:15 AM East Coast time and my work line jingles. It is 2011 now and everyone I need to talk to for work uses email so phone calls are either telemarketers or at ~10:15 AM East Coast time (ie 7:15 AM West Coast time – that’s a calculated three hours behind for you Deron) it must be someone who desperately needs to chat with another human being that won’t be making zoom zoom noises with his Lightening McQueen play car, ie my brother. Not that I don’t feel the love wholly, it’s just that I know he has no one else to call that early in the morning and it’s the one time (I hope) that he enjoys that I moved across the county.

So Jeff and I are chatting about this and that and he asks me something personal and I say well “I had Flapjacks for breakfast”. Not the best response and caused some genuine confusion for my brother. “Flapjacks” is a code word that Siobhan and I came up with to use on the phone whenever we were in a situation where we didn’t want to talk about something. Mostly this is necessary because we both work in horrible cubicle situations and all of our coworkers can hear our conversations. The other problem is that we’re extremely, extremely, cool and folks are wicked into us. As soon as I hang up the phone the gophers will poke their heads up…”so that was your brother?” or “so you’re going to the grocery store after work” or “so that fungal medicine really works huh?”. It’s just a nice way of saying, I can’t really talk about that now and here and keeps our personal stuff personal.

I just wanted to explain the “Flapjack Situation” to ya.