" /> Pavel's Blog: September 2004 Archives

Main | October 2004 »

September 27, 2004

Normally I don't approve of shaving, but...

Kathleen and I had dinner again recently at Shanghai Café, at 12708 SE 38th St. in Factoria, and once again we were pretty darned happy at the end of the meal.

We were introduced to this place by some friends who read about it in a "Best of Seattle" book. They were smart enough to pick it up shortly after they moved here, recently, from Switzerland. (Somehow, it never occurred to us to buy a reference book about the place we'd moved to. Maybe it seemed like cheating.)

Anyway, the specialty of Shanghai Café is their "hand-shaven" noodles. They have two sorts: regular and barleygreen, with the latter being the best, in our humble opinion. Both are very irregularly shaped, thick, substantial, and very tasty. Our favorite "vehicle" for enjoying them is the house special chow mein (yes, really), which combines them with shrimp, scallops, chicken, and various vegetables. My first thought upon seeing these noodles was that any noodle that thick simply must be doughy, but fear not: they're as light and supple and yummy as any noodles I've had anywhere.

It should, I suppose, be pointed out that the Shanghai Café in Factoria is an offshoot of the Shanghai Gardens restaurant in Seattle's International district. The Factoria location is much more convenient to our house, though...

September 23, 2004

Waiting on the ground at Dulles

Apparently, Chicago O'Hare is experiencing "VOLUME, COMPACTED DEMAND" and not accepting any new arrivals, so we're sitting at the end of the runway here at Washington Dulles.

Of course, the pilot didn't say "VOLUME, COMPACTED DEMAND"; he said something like "wait a while". But in this brave, new, best of all possible worlds, we have PDA's that can surf over to the FAA website to find out more information for ourselves.

It doesn't make the wait any shorter, but at least it keeps us quiet...

September 20, 2004

Coming Unhinged

I'm building several cabinets for my workshop, based pretty closely on the designs in the "Garage Workshop" episode of Norm Abram's New Yankee Workshop. In the plans, they call for the use of so-called European-style concealed cup hinges. Since I'm making two full base units plus two wall units, there are a total of twelve doors and 24 hinges, so it made sense to also buy Rockler's "Jig-It" jigs for locating the cup hole and the base-plate screws.

Tonight, I finally assembled and tried out the jigs. After a bit of assembly and tweaking to adjust the depth stop on the cup-hole jig, they appeared to work pretty well. I took a couple of plywood scraps out of the bin, marked them as if for hinge locations, and then used the jigs to actually install a hinge.

Imagine my annoyance, then, to discover, after buying and using these specially made jigs so as to achieve precise positioning of the hinge components, that the cup hole is precisely positioned to leave over an eighth of an inch of exposed cabinet side on the hinge side of the door! Since the cabinet plans call for the doors to be wide enough to use up all but a sixteenth of an inch of the cabinet width (i.e., just enough to make a reasonable gap between the doors), this extra offset from the hinge was, shall we say, most unwelcome.

Now I'm going to need to make my own wood block to act as the foundation of the cup-hole jig, so that I can carefully rip it to the correct size to give me the exact-fit overlay I was expecting. What a pain.

And while I'm complaining, why is it that Norm specifies the use of fancy under-mount hidden drawer slides, at $37 per pair, for cabinets that are made to go into your garage workshop, fercrissakes?! Rockler sells some perfectly acceptable side-mount slides with the same weight rating for only $17 a pair...

September 19, 2004

"Jumpers" at ACT

Somehow, by a series of decisions that each seemed quite reasonable at the time, we've ended up with season tickets to three different professional theater companies at the same time. We started out with Seattle Rep, because we'd heard of it before and we wanted an excuse to get us over into Seattle from time to time. Then, after that season ended, we picked up an Intiman subscription to tide us over the late spring, summer, and early fall, until Seattle Rep came back around on the guitar. Finally, we got a mailer from ACT (A Contemporary Theater) for their season, which included "Jumpers", a Tom Stoppard play that neither Kathleen nor I had ever seen. So, of course, we had to sign up for that, too.

Tonight, at last, was "Jumpers" night, and what a play it was. Apparently, after The National Theatre produced Stoppard's first play, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead", they told him they'd put on whatever he wrote next, giving him essentially free rein.

Hoo boy.

Stoppard took that freedom and ran with it, literally to the moon and back, with this bizarre combination of hard-core philosophical debate (intuitionism vs. logical positivism, for those keeping score) and surreal farce. It's quite a ride and you'd better be paying close attention to the details of the arguments; there's a quiz-cum-coda at the end.

David Pichette puts on a truly remarkable performance as the second-rate (but passionate) intuitionist philosopher George Moore (no relation to the earlier, realer, and better known intuitionist of the same name). He so effortlessly carries the incredibly long and intricate speeches that it was no surprise at all to find out later that he actually appears to have some background in this area.

Unfortunately, tonight was closing night, so I can't really urge you to grab this rare opportunity to see this impressive play performed so well. You'll just have to live with being disappointed to have missed it.

September 15, 2004

SpaceShipOne to make X-prize attempt soon

I'm sitting in a talk at Microsoft Research by David Moore, from Vulcan Inc. He just announced that Scaled Composites, the people who earlier made the first civilian space flight, are going to be making their first official attempt at the X Prize in just a couple of weeks!

The first flight is scheduled for September 29th, with the second to follow just five days later, on October 4th. The X-Prize rules state that the second flight must follow within two weeks of the first flight, but apparently it only takes five days to turn SpaceShipOne around.

There are several other teams finally coming out of the woodwork with their own X-Prize milestone announcements. The prize itself expires at the end of the year, so things should be heating up. What fun...

SpaceShipOne's flight date was announced back in July, but I missed it then. Maybe you did too.

September 13, 2004

Election time

Well, there wasn't any more time left for procrastination: it was time to figure out how I'm going to vote tomorrow in the primary.

I was actually kind of looking forward to it, because I knew that Sherri Nichols had already done a bunch of research and could be counted on to lay out some well-reasoned arguments on the statewide initiatives at her new website sherrivotes.org.

Sherri was inspired by the efforts of Peter Stahl, an old colleague of mine in the Bay Area who has for many years done a similar service down there, producing Pete Rates the Propositions. Like with Peter, I don't expect to agree with Sherri on every issue, but it sure helps to have someone I can trust and respect laying out arguments that are well informed by serious research. I wish Sherri well in her efforts and strongly recommend you check out her site.

Of course, all of the statewide initiatives are on the November general-election ballot, not on tomorrow's primary ballot, but that's neither here nor there.

September 12, 2004

A Night Out in Seattle

On the way into Seattle tonight, Kathleen noted that, due to increased proximity and convenience, we've probably made more trips into Seattle in the year we've lived in Bellevue than we made to San Francisco in the previous ten years of living on the Peninsula. We certainly do go in fairly often, primarily for the theater (somehow this year, we've ended up with season tickets to three different theater companies).

Tonight, however, the excuse was an art-house movie we'd been wanting to see, a French film called "Intimate Strangers", which has been out for a while and is now only playing at this one theater in Capitol Hill.

The Harvard Exit theater is near the very top of Broadway, on E. Roy. This is a lovely, relatively quiet little neighborhood with a few eclectic shops and several restaurants that look interesting.

The Seattle Weekly gave the Harvard Exit an award for "Best Movie Theatre Lobby to Wait In", and it's easy to see why. The building was originally a clubhouse for a women's club and there are several nice living room / parlor rooms scattered about. It's a very comfortable place to see a movie (even though our show was in the "Top of the Exit" theater, upstairs on the third floor) and you can't beat their politics: the other movie showing tonight was "Uncovered: The War in Iraq" and they have other, similar films coming up. Definitely a place we'll be going back to.

(The movie itself was also pretty charming, in that classically quirkly French way. It begins with a woman mistakenly coming into a tax lawyer's office, thinking it's the office of the therapist down the hall, and pouring her heart out to the bemused lawyer. Misunderstandings, confessions, understandings, and cryptic confusions ensue.)

After the movie, we walked across the street to a nice, informal little coffee shop and crepery called "Joe Bar" with a small but interesting crepe menu including the intriguing "PB & J" (which comes with a glass of milk). To our great disappointment, though, they only serve crepes until 2pm on weekends (why?). Fortunately, Kathleen noticed a line in the newspaper review they had posted on the display case, which mentioned that Joe Bar finally gave Seattlites a choice of creperies, joining long-time standard "611 Supreme", at 611 E. Pine, only a few minutes' drive away.

We quite enjoyed the food (and the value for money) at 611. I had their Salmon Chevre crepe, with smoked salmon, chevre, and lots of scallions. The scallions really make this dish, adding a necessary edge to a very creamy filling. (In fact, they added enough cream and/or butter to the chevre that the "goaty" flavor was almost completely hidden, a bit of a disappointment to me.) Kathleen concocted her own crepe of salmon, tomatoes, and spinach and was likewise pleased; the crepes are enormous, easily the largest we'd ever been served.

The music at 611 is too loud and too hip-hop for our tastes, but not so much so as to keep us from intending to come back for tasy crepes. (Of course, we'd also like to go back to Joe Bar sometime when they're actually serving...)