Saturday, June 23, 2012

Adventures in Cuisine #3

Today I had some pizza, pasta, and a salad. I liked the pizza the best. The pizza had a nice texture. The salad I liked, and I was very impressed by it.  The pasta comes last on the list. The only reason I did not like it was because of the sauce on it. Today I'll give the ratings to you easy:

overall scoreA

Monday, June 18, 2012

Paradise "Lost"

They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
                                                          -- John Milton, Paradise Lost

Nothing endures but change.
                      -- Heraclitus

And so it comes to an end, our little experiment in living in paradise.

We have now been living in Two Harbors on the lovely West End of Santa Catalina for five years, and it's time to move on. I have recently accepted a position at Pacific Northwest National Labs ("Proudly operated by Battelle since 1965"), which is located in the Tri-Cities area of Washington.  I will be working with the Microbial Ecology group up there, bringing my genomic and metagenomic expertise to their group.

We have greatly enjoyed our association with the University of Southern California. Working for USC has been a great experience - my colleagues are excellent scientists and great people, and we have enjoyed many fringe benefits of being located at the Marine Science Center, including our wonderful interactions with the generous souls who populate the Wrigley Institute Board of Trustees. Thanks, all, for everything and Fight On!

We have also enjoyed being a part of the Two Harbors community. We loved (for the most part - long story) having our kids be able to go to school in the Little Red Schoolhouse, Taco Tuesday, walks to the hammocks, Ballast Point and Wells Beach, hanging out at the beach, being able to bicycle, kayak or hike to work in the absence of traffic, pollution or noise (save the waves), the foxes, the bison, the eagles, the safe environment, the fun activities organized by THE and the yacht clubs, and getting to know where EVERYONE in town lives. It is a unique and special environment that it has been our privilege to be a part of.

We have also made many friends and connections in Avalon, mostly through Scouts. We are sorry to be leaving such good people who constantly strive to Do Their Best. Thank you for all you have done for the boys.

We are planning on leaving the island in August, which doesn't leave much time, since we managed to fill up our summer with activities both for the boys and ourselves. It will be a grand challenge to get this move done in the available time. I was just telling Sweetie that we would have to hug during all discussions and start each with "Remember, I love you."

And so we once again are starting a long list of 'lasts'. We've had our last day of school at the LRSH, which made me quite sad, although Thing 2 seemed pretty okay with it. I don't think Thing 1 will miss the 3 hours on the bus each day, but he will miss the friends he's made here. We are thinking more about things we'd like to do before we leave - camping, hiking, snorkeling, grunion runs, etc. And there are the surprising things that we never did in the LA area that will probably not be done now - for instance, we never went on a studio tour or tried to be part of a live audience for Conan or Chelsea Handler.

I actually made this decision a while ago, but haven't been able to bring myself to announce because this is a great place to live and I'm sad to go. That's not to say I'm not excited about the new position, but, for Pete's sake, we live on an island! How cool is that?

So stay tuned to FB and this channel for updates on our progress on the move. And Zack's Adventures in Cuisine.

This year is Sweetie's and my 15th wedding anniversary. Around about our 10th, Sweetie said, "Hey, let's go somewhere, just us two." And then we moved to California instead. So here we are 5 years later, and Sweetie was thinking "we should do some thing to celebrate" and then we decided to move. So I need SPECTACULAR ideas for our 20th, people. SPECTACULAR.

Zack's Adventures in Cuisine #2

Today we went to a restaurant called Sirinat Thai.    (The restaurant is down Western street and 25th street in Los Angles, California.) They're food is very good.  

The beverage I had was a orange soda.  My appetizer was a shrimp wrapped in crispy noodles with sweet and sour sauce.  The main course was a few crispy scallops, and they taste like french fries only softer in  the middle.  Along with my main course I had some white rice and some of Dad's yellow curry.  

The appetizer was VERY good.  I liked the way the crunch felt in my mouth.  The scallops were pretty good.  the inside could be a little crispier on the inside, though.  The white rice was pretty sticky, but I liked it.  I didn't really like the yellow curry.  Mostly because it was spicy, and I didn't like the potatoes, but I like the lemony taste the chicken had.  

Here are the scores:

Appetizer (Nests of Love)B-B-
Crispy Scallops, 3 flavorsC+B
Rice (white)B-C+
Yellow Curry (Chicken)C+C+

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Zack's Adventures in Cuisine #1


I am Zack, your guide in cuisine.  I am only 8, but I shall be honest about the food I tell you about.  I am doing this blog so you can enjoy the foods I have enjoyed, and the food I haven't enjoyed.  One food I've enjoyed is a grill angus burger. I had that a few weeks ago. It was at a restaurant called "The Beach City Grill."  We also had a white-chocolate tangerine CHEESECAKE!  I am also doing this blog to challenge myself to try new Foods. I an not very good at trying new things, you see.  

These are the rankings of dinner my mom made tonight:    
(P.S. I will always choose a meal of the day to write about.)


The meat (steak) was pretty good.  It was a little tough,but it was also chewy, which I liked.  The chips I totally liked, except the texture which I ranked a B.  OK, I admit that the only reason I ranked it a B was because it was a little too crunchy for my taste.  I thought the lettuce was OK. It was a little limp and little too watery for my taste.  I had grape tomatoes, and I really didn't like the texture, but the taste was pretty good. I like the watery feel it gives my mouth.  Anyway, here are the scores I gave the food.

Grape TomatoesB-B+

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Sweetie and I attended the 25th annual Catalina Island Museum Silent Film Benefit on Saturday. This is a showing of a silent film (duh) to benefit the Catalina Island Museum (double duh) in the beautiful art-deco movie palace that is the Avalon Theatre. This theater, an original part of the Casino, completed in 1929, has been preserved in every way - it's size (seating for 1154), it's decorative murals (Greek mythology inspired art deco), and it's original Page pipe organ. The theater still shows first-run movies on a weekly basis.

But on this afternoon, the fare was Wings, a 1927 feature-length film by William Wellman and the first movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture. This was also the movie shown at the first ever Silent Film Benefit. The film, starring Buddy Rodgers, Richard Arlen and Clara Bow, follows small-town boys Jack and David as they volunteer to be pilots in World War I. They scuffle over women, become comrades-in-arms, fight the Heinies, and experience triumph and tragedy. Unbelievable by today's standards, the film showed in New York twice a day for two years. The live-filmed scenes of aerial combat wowed audiences that had never had the experience of flight.

The print we watched was a restoration of the 35mm film done by Paramount. An original score was provided live on the pipe organ by the composer, Bob Salisbury. In addition, some patrons enhanced the experience by wearing period clothing. The effect was magical. I completely lost myself in the film, forgetting entirely that the music was live and even that the film was silent. I cheered on the heroes, rooted for the girl-next-door to win the guy, and got teary-eyed when the mother of one fallen airman received the small teddy bear he carried as a token of good luck. It's a great film, and it was a great afternoon.

If you ever get a chance to come out to Avalon, I would highly recommend a tour of the Casino so you can see for yourself the fabulous Avalon Theatre, and if you're there for the Silent Film Benefit, so much the better.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lost Post

Here is a post I found in my Drafts folder. Oops. It's from February, I think. Enjoy:

This weekend started off with Sweetie and I doing what parents do, worrying about our kids. In particular, we were worried about our kids not having anyone to play with in our small town, and whether they were feeling lonely. As is frequently the case, parents fears out-scale actual problems, and right now we are satisfied that our kids are pretty happy.

One thing that helped us (and maybe them, too) was plenty of quality family time this weekend. I was just coming back from a week-long trip to the mainland, so I had some chores to do around the house (fixing the fence, putting out the new hose, fixing my computer), but afterwards, Calvin and I went out to play with his new glow-in-the-dark soccer ball while Sweetie and Hobbes walked down to the beach to look at the very low tide.

After kicking the ball around for a while, we played at the playground (as an adult, I still enjoy swinging on a swing), and then decided to walk down to the beach. Guess who we ran into? Right! The rest of the family. So we strolled together on the beach. It was a beautiful day - sunny, warm, light winds. A very nice outside time.

Sunday we decided go for a boat ride. We went out on the dock dingy to fetch the boat from a mooring, and before we even got to the boat, we noticed some cetaceans swimming about out by the reef, so we just tooled on out there in the dingy. It was a pod of Risso's dolphins. We watched them for a few minutes, and then went to get the boat. Our expedition took us out around Bird Rock and past Ship Rock. I'm not sure what's going on with sea lions, but there were tons of them swimming about and basking (with their flippers sticking out of the water) all around and between Bird and Ship today.
On our way from Ship Rock down towards Emerald Bay, we encountered a pod of about 12 bottlenose dolphins. They were curious and swam right by us. We could see them under and next to the boat. We circled around a few times with them playing in our wake. This was turning out to be quite a day!

We motored around Arrow Point and down towards Starlight Beach (which is one terminus of the Trans-Catalina Trail). As we were turning around to go home, we spotted ANOTHER pod of Risso's. They were moving towards Land's End, so we just watched from a distance.

I let Hobbes drive the boat some on the way home and we talked about boating: radio channels to use, boating etiquette, what a dive flag looks like, and avoiding sea life (including kelp). As we got back around Howland's Landing, we ran into either another or the same pod of bottlenoses. And they played again, both in our bow and stern wakes. We got really nice views of them swimming and leaping. Eventually they went back to fishing, and we continued towards the Isthmus.

As we got back into Isthmus Cove, we saw that the pod of Risso's that we'd first seen were still hunting around the reef. I was hoping to get a little closer to them this time, but they are much shyer than their smaller cousins and dove when we got too close.

We felt very lucky to have been out on the water today!

Disneyland Report Card

It's Spring Break for the Long Beach School District (which the schools on Catalina are in), so we decided to have a little fun. This mostly will consist of dentist appointments and camp physicals (which will occur next week), but Sweetie and I decided that first we would do something purely fun with the boys.

We chose not to tell the boys until we were practically at the park, and they were initially shocked into silence (I think), but quite giddy once we parked and got out of the car.

My first comment is that Disneyland seems much smaller acreage-wise than Disney World, which makes sense, since Disneyland is shoe-horned into Anaheim, while Disney World has the run of central Florida. Besides that, they look very much the same (duh). Everyone was happy to see us. We talked with the boys some about how Disney's close attention to customer service was a big factor in their success. (That's the kind of parents we are: suck the wonder out of everything.)

We started the day in Tomorrowland at Space Mountain. When we went to Disney World in 2010, we didn't get a chance to ride this one, so we decided to make up for that oversight. Maybe an odd choice for 10am, but there we were. When I was a kid, age 8 I think, we went to Disney World and rode Space Mountain. I was scared, so I closed my eyes the whole time. My mom commented that I didn't miss much, and who's idea was a roller coaster in the dark? This time I was determined to keep my eyes open. An my mom was right. Pretty dark, I have to say - and faster than I thought it would be.

On that same trip in 2010, Thing 2 was a little too freaked out to really enjoy the park, however this time he was game for just about anything. Over the day we did some intense rides like the updated Star Tours ride, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the Indiana Jones Adventure and tamer fare like the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, the Mark Twain Riverboat, the Jungle Cruise and the Enchanted Tiki Room. We stayed all the way through the (outstanding) fireworks display, and had a tremendous time. I would say thanks to Disney for a day of family fun, but I think I spoke with my wallet yesterday.

As before, here are attraction ratings. If you're curious about details as to the why for these ratings, leave a comment:

Space MountainBAA+++A
Star ToursB+CA++A+
Jungle CruiseCBAA
Enchanted Tiki RoomCC+BA
Indiana Jones AdventureAACA-
Big Thunder Mountain RailroadAAAA+++
Mark Twain RiverboatBBBA
Big Thunder RanchDn/an/aA-
Pirates of the Carribeann/aB+A-n/a
The Mad Tea PartyAn/an/aA+
Finding Nemo Submarine VoyageBB+A-A
Disneyland RailroadBC+AB+
King Arthur CarouselAn/aB+A+
Pinocchio's Daring Journeyn/aB-B-n/a

Oh, and the fireworks show gets a big A+. Tinkerbell flying around the castle was pretty awesome.