Monday, April 29, 2013

Guacamole and Egg White Cornbread

South winds today again, really sapped our energy, but we are breathing OK. Did not bubbleize. After work today Kathy and I went swimming. Much less debris today.

After swimming we had a cold food supper; high time to start clearing the fridge. We had tostados, guacamole, a chicken breast and some parmesan reggiano cheese. Tasty, but there was guacamole left over.

So, I resolved to cook it up into a cornbread. Had a couple slices of tri-tip, sliced them up, found a hot pepper, always a plus. I have three cartons of egg white, so one carton was a sure thing. I am finding flax seed in a cornbread adds more than just health, busted that out. Obviously there was a need for some cornmeal, sea salt, spices (garlic, fresh basil and chili powder). Poured them all into a non-stick skillet, stirred them up, put it on the burner on low head and then finished with the broiler. The crazy thing is that I do not add baking powder or any other rising agent to my cornbreads, I like them dense. But with all that egg white this rose and is fluffy; kinda cool.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Trifecta, Kauai, and Freedom(tm) book review

South winds today, but my respiratory system seems to be handling it OK. The VOG also seems to screw with my nervous system. Woke up this morning, Kathy greeted me with a cup of Kona coffee; yes after five years respite we are drinking coffee again; now days the doctors say it is very good for you like dark chocolate. Time to take a shower and go to church.

"No can", (Honolulu style pidgin for could not do it). For the second time this year I just could not function. Back to sleep, woke up from time to time and then back to sleep. Finally, had brain and body function about 12:30. Whatever.

We decided to move from our ocean view bedroom to the bubble, (we have a filtered air bedroom with a murphy bed adjoining the office we call the bubble). I carried the pillows over, shut all the windows and started the bubble. Kathy crashed; the VOG is hard on her.

I had about 40 pages to go to finish Daniel Suarez's Freedom(tm) so I sat down and started reading. I can't read in bed anymore, not sure why. I have fond memories from when I worked for the government of taking a day of paid leave and doing almost nothing but reading in bed. Got hungry, went for the works, steak and egg and potatoes, not the most healthy meal to be sure, but tasty and kind of special to me.

When I was training to be a helicopter search and rescue guy, one of the schools is called SERE school, you can Google it. Not going to go into the details, but it is a profound experience and when it was all over and they bussed us back, we went to the chow hall and they fed us steak and eggs; guess I will always remember that.

Got back from brunch, finished the book.

Freedom(tm) has a much better ending in terms of writing craftsmanship than Daemon, though the author still left room for a follow up book. I do not tend to read fiction, there is just so much to keep up with in the IT field. But this was recommended by Wesley McGrew and I have developed a profound respect for his thinking.  It is the same gripping action filled story with lots of dead bodies and awesome technical toys, but he really fleshes out his alternate reality. When I reached the end something bothered me.  This was similar to something, what was it? Then it hit me, Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

On a whim, I punched in Isaac Asimov in my Google toolbar. I have got to say I love Google's initial presentation format for famous people. I picked one link at random to click on, a YouTube video from 1989; jeepers that guy had vision.

The bubble does a decent job of protecting us from sulphur dioxide, but for reasons that would take too much time to explain, it means a windowless environment. A computer screen and no windows can make one feel fenced in. There isn't only one VOG, the form of air pollution depends on the mix of gases, the temperature at which they form and so forth. Today's VOG impacts my nervous system more than my breathing so I decided to go for a walk. But hey, if I am going for a walk, why not go for a swim too? I peeked out the oceanside of the house and the ocean looked a lot friendlier than yesterday so I switched to boardshorts and put a bottle of hotel shampoo and my keys in my pocket, brought along a t-shirt, but decided to get my ten minutes of sun walking.

Walking along the bike path I saw a familiar face walking his dog, Dileep Bal, former president of the American Cancer Society, Chief Health Officer for Kauai, in demand speaker, ( he flies more than I do, he is at 3.6 million, .4 more and he is global services for life). He is also one of my favorite people to talk to, the breadth of his knowledge and sense of humanity reminds me of Mike Poor. Whether I got in the ocean now or later didn't matter, so I walked with him and his dog Kona and we chatted.

I told him about the books Daemon and Freedom(tm); I could see I didn't make a sale. We talked about retirement, he already has retirement from California and is vested in Kauai. Hope this does not sound like prejudice, but I have learned when speaking to someone born in India, you have to at least touch on money, but then we got to meaning. He said, I wonder what I will leave behind. Now this is a Harvard educated man, with Harvard educated children who served as the president of the American Cancer Society. Hmmmm. On the flight to Kauai I did a re-read of the Essential Drucker, (highly recommended), and what always strikes me is the concept of the second half of life.

Dileep does not suffer from VOG effects though his wife does, so he does not understand why we want to live in Seattle part of the time. And he really does not understand why we have a house in Richmond ( not sure I understand that either). As we were approaching the bridge to the Lihi boat ramp harbor, Dileep said something that got my attention, "with three houses you are placing a trifecta but without the return if you win". So true, it made sense at the time.

I bid Dileep adieu, I strongly prefer swimming on the Kapaa side of the harbor. I don't usually swim in Kauai waters without fins, but it is much calmer than yesterday so I jumped in; felt great. The current in this section goes from North to South along East shore. However, when it gets to the rocks protecting the harbor, there is only one direction for the water to go; out to sea. Usually the current can only move you if you are floating, today it was a bit stronger. I let it take me out about sixty yards and then practiced using the waves to get back in. That current can be moderately strong, though nothing like the rip at the Na Pali rocks side of Kee. It is the only risk spot in front of Pono Kai Resort that I have ever experienced in the 13 years I have been swimming there daily ( when on island) after all, it is a lagoon. But they had to cut a path through the reef so the small boats can use the harbor and the water has to go somewhere.

Six days left of our "Hawaiian vacation". It has been great. I do hope there is a nice day next week and we can go to Hanalei, but truthfully, now I find my brain focusing on the closeout. We will not be back till after SANS CDI in December.

When I was walking with Dileep, he asked me why I blog. The superficial reason is easy, it is very common for people over 50 years of age to start having retrieval problems. One day it might be nice to go back through some of my life experiences. Another reason, Mason Brown has taught be a lot and it is interesting to listen to him problem solve. He does it out loud, I do it writing. And then there is my duty as an academic. I read once that an academic must do three things:

  • Gather knowledge, usually by research
  • Chronicle current events for the future to understand the past
  • Mentor others

Whatever form the second half of life takes for me, I hope I can do those three things.

Kathy has gotten up, let me see if I can feed her :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sunny, but rough waters

It is a nice day, lots of sunshine, not too hot. I spent most of my time working on my trading notebook; trying to decide whether to open a position on Genworth. But by 2:30 PM, it was time to get into the ocean.

Waves were about 3 feet which matches the surf report of 2 - 4'. That is well within my capability to handle with fins on even when swimming alone. But then I started to get psyched out, some of the waves further out were brown (must have rained upmountain). And there was a lot of material in the water, not just the usual sticks and leaves, but I saw a five gallon bucket float by and then what looked like part of a fishing rod. I think I managed to get my full aerobic 20 minutes, forgot my dive watch, but decided to get out. Of course, my shoes were down at the other end so had to walk back about a mile barefoot on the bikepath, but my feet have toughened up some this trip so it wasn't that bad.

Took a longer beach shower than usual because of all the junk in the water, was glad I had remembered to bring a hotel shampoo bottle to wash the stuff out of my hair.

And enjoyable quiet day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hey now, hey now, the VOG is back

Yesterday was epic ( as they use the word in Hawaii surfer speak). Perfect weather, warm, not hot. The waves were perfectly formed, not choppy. We went swimming and then I got to hike to Kelia. On the way back though I started to sneeze; a sure sign the VOG was coming back.

Last night was pizza night. I made the crust with fresh herbs, flax meal, a little corn meal, a hot pepper, garlic and some egg white as the binder. On top of the crust, added chicken, mushroom, garlic and rosemary. Then a marinara sauce on top of that followed by a three cheese topping. There is a piece left over and after writing all this down, I am suddenly hungry :)

Today, you can't see the mountains, the VOG is so thick, and I am coughing. There are some other quality of life issues worth mentioning.

Congress is working to remove themselves from Obamacare. They were supposed to be part of the system so they would understand the impact it had on the rest of us. Apparently, this is one of the few times the republicans and democrats can agree on something.

The FAA just released a press release that due to sequestration travelers can expect to see delays especially in Vegas, LA and Dallas. Great!

But I am not complaining, oh no! Despite the best efforts of the VOG and our government, life is good.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pa'ina on Aloha Friday

Every once in a while the Kauai SANS office gets together for a potluck lunch. I wanted to bring a fried rice dish, but have not been ale to determine whether to do it Island style, Terriyaki style or more of a Mediterranean style. Got some frozen Raw Shrimp, have some truly lovely (no nitrate) Canadian Bacon and some Chicken along with plenty of Peppers, Celery and Onion. Or maybe Creole, that is sounding even more fun. . . Well things just got a bit more complex, Kathy wanted me to add Mung beans to the rice, so I will taste it and see what can be done :)

Kathy saw some whales breaching today right out the bedroom sliding glass door, she called me and I came over, but missed them and today was a busy day, so I zipped back over to the office.

The weather yesterday and today is epic. Great swims during the heat of the day both days and then come back to the office and make the time up by staying late.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pa'ina tonight

Excited about tonight's dinner party.

We will start with a Wahoo salad on a tostada in a pupu size serving on the same tostada another pupu, Ahi Mole ( by the way, next time I think I will buy the Mole, making it from scratch takes a bit of time). Then fill out the pupu plate with a slice of Potato with two kinds of cheese (Romano Pecorino and Cheddar (Tilamook) fried with Rosemary and Taragon and topped with an uncured piece of Canadian Bacon.

For the main, we will have a Chicken, Mushroom, Brown Rice stew, with Bacon garnish.

Dessert: Banana Nut Pancakes cooked with a Pistachio and Pecan Nuts, Dark Chocolate and Cherries sauce. The cherries are very happy right now, they are soaking in Dark Rum.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

VOG - we are in the bubble on Kauai

When you build a house, there are always things you forget or can improve on later. When we built our home on Kauai, they did not have the VOG problem they have today. I was having trouble getting into and out of my sports car (Honda 2000) and the guy that built this house (Luis Soltren) was between jobs.

After we built the house, the weather pattern changed and we started to have VOG. Neither Kathy nor I have industrial strength respiratory systems and we both tend to get asthmatic when the VOG blows in on a South wind. We have actually jumped a jet and just left before, but it would be nice to have a choice. I wanted to have the ability to button up the office and a bedroom so that when the VOG comes we can breathe filtered air. Luis was willing to trade the car for his labor.

We still need one more improvement, we do not have a flat screen in the office, so watching movies is a challenge, but I have the last 17" Macbook Pro model, so country boy can survive.

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Monk Seal, what a pleasure ( and Red Cabbage Goulash Cornbread)

I took a walk near the end of the workday because I heard that K12, the Hawaiian Monk Seal that survived a shark attack had beached in front of Pono Kai resort. The seal response team had already roped off the area and were available to answer questions. There are an estimated 1100 remaining Hawaiian Monk Seals, so they are beyond endangered at this point. This was the first one I saw on my vacation to Kauai.

Amazingly, in 2009, Charles Vidnha, shot and killed a pregnant monk seal. Many people were outraged that he only spent 90 days in jail and was issued at $25.00 fine. There were also two Molokai seals that were found bludgeoned to death. No arrests were made, if you are local on Molokai, it is very unlikely you will ever be arrested for anything.

There are efforts to convince the locals on the Hawaiian Islands to quit being a big part of the problem. For instance, many school kids write essays on monk seals. Here are two of my favorites.

Anyway, all that walking made me hungry. I decided to do a Goulash, but instead of the macaroni, make it as a cornbread. I also decided to make it vegetarian. Instead of ground beef or another meat, I used red cabbage.

1.5 cups corn meal
2 eggs
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1/4 onion chopped finely
1/2 cup red cabbage chopped coarsely
10 fresh cherry tomatoes ( from the garden)
1 tsp garlic
Water, milk, veggie or chicken broth till it is the right consistency (I used water)
Salt, paprika, chili powder to taste

Mix pour into a non-stick skillet, put on the range on low head to make the bottom a bit crusty, put in broiler to make the top crusty. NOTE: my big skillet was busy at the time, so I made it thicker than intended, if it is about 1/2" you are done at the point. I put it in the oven for twenty minutes to make sure the middle was cooked.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pa'ina at my house tonight

We are having our first dinner party since being back on island. It was fun getting ready. For pupus we have some patties that I have been experimenting with. For the first course we have Ahi Cerviche and Kale chips. Second course is Stroganoff with Artichoke rice and Red Cabbage Cole Slaw. We will finish with Chocolate Banana Pecan crepes.