Drip, Twitch

So, getting the car fixed didn’t cost as much as I’d feared, which is good… came out to $150ish, which is pretty nice since they had to replace a pulley and a belt, plus labor. They even gave me a loaner car for the day while they worked on it, which is pretty damn swell. I wandered back up to the coffee shop and downed two pots of herbal tea trying to battle the allergies that suddenly cropped up the other night… I’ve been congested all damn day. Finally picked up some Claritin (the good stuff, with the decongestant plus antihistamine, that you have to sign a release with the pharmacist for since it contains psuedoephedrin), and that’s helped a bit, but I’m still a bit congested and sneezy. Nothing I can do now but keep hydrated and hope my body acclimates soon. I’m usually really good about allergies and things blooming and such, but I think the stress and moving and sleeping on the floor and everything else is just messing with my system a little too much to adapt as quickly as it usually does.

In other news, hilarity ensues over at Wil Shipley’s blog, as he blogs his trip to the TED conference. It’s definitely worth the read.

Other than that, it’s been a pretty non-day. I did swing over to the Omni offices and delivered a message for R Stevens to the effect of “Your browser is his favorite, and he says keep up the good work.” but watching the grin on their faces was well worth the time and vaguely awkward feeling, since, y’know, I’m not R Stevens, and only know him peripherally (we know some of the same people, and I read his comic and LJ). Still, message passed. :)

From My Apartment, No Less

I don’t really have anything specific to say at the moment, but I did want to make use of my newly installed broadband in all its homebody-y goodness. Well, other than the crick in my neck and back from sitting in odd positions on the floor, since my desk and chair don’t arrive until next week. I’ve already done system updates and application updates and all that jazz, and probably tomorrow I’m going to sit down and see about synching up files between systems and such.

In the process of upgrading iTunes, I browsed through the iTunes Music Store, where I discovered first that the two free songs I still had squirreled away from last year have sadly expired (I knew they were going to in March, but I couldn’t remember whether the beginning of March or the end of it… alas), and just as I’d recalled two classic songs that I wanted to add to my collection. Ah well. I also discovered that there’s now gobs of stuff in their television section that I’d really love to get… BSG (mini-series on up), Dresden Files, some classic cartoons, Electric Company, et cetera. The relative low cost is remarkably appealing, but being broke continues to be a sufficient deterrent.

Especially when you suddenly get saddled with unexpected car repairs. That noise I referenced before that was probably a belt? Yeah, driving home last night, the battery light and the e-brake light both turned on, and about a block later, my power steering died. Not leaking anything, and the belt is still there… but is apparently now worn/loose enough that it’s no longer doing what it’s supposed to. So tomorrow morning, I’m driving it down to the repair shop and praying it’s not too expensive to get her back in ship-shape condition. Would have done it today, but I had to spend most of the day waiting for the cable guy (they gave me a 4 hour window to expect him… he showed up 30 minutes AFTER that).

Zoka Again

It’s Saturday, it’s noon, and I’m sitting in the University Village Zoka again. I don’t have a particular pressing need to be online, honestly, but it’s nice to have a destination to go to when it’s kind of rainy and grey out. Besides, there are worse things to do than to blog randomly. I don’t really have a set goal with this post, so we’ll see where it goes.

I drink a hell of a lot of chai — it’s my drink of choice in most coffee shops. I’ve noticed that a lot of the coffee shops in Seattle tend to have two kinds of chai: sweet and spicy. What this really means is “Oregon Chai” or “Morning Glory Chai“, two particular brands of chai. While having the options of different types is nice, there are other choices out there that I really wish they’d consider. In particular, there are a few brands that I think would go over really well in Seattle’s coffee-culture. There is a Mate based chai called Pixie Mate Chai that I’ve been really impressed by. It has the spices of a sweet chai, but none of it is so overwhelming that you can’t taste the tea beneath it, which is really important and often missed with Oregon Chai. As far as spicy chai goes, I may be bucking a trend, here, but I like a spicy chai to have a moderate bite, versus the strong bite of the Morning Glory. The best I’ve found along this line is a Portland local brand called Dragonfly Chai. If I could convince one of the local coffee shops to try it, I think they’d be well pleased with it.

It’s interesting to sit in a coffee shop near the counter, because you really notice the sort of pattern and flow of traffic. It seems to be a steady trickle of people until it abruptly floods in. I don’t know what else is going on in the area that would cause the momentary surges, but they’re definitely unmistakable. It’s all about the ebb and flow and cycles. (And being patient… it’s time to refill my chai, but I’m waiting until the current surge dies down).

I recently read a blog post that talked about how delightful it was to have a grapefruit, Photoshop, and an empty apartment to work in. While there are certainly days that sounds excellent, that’s not really my model. I like my solitude as much as the next introvert, but what exactly that entails differs between people, I think, and for me, it comes down to having solitude without being alone. This is why I’m so fond of coffee houses and cafes: I’m left to my own devices generally, but other people are around, satisfying my desire to people-watch when I want (watching the social dance between people is something of a pastime… I find it fascinating). That sort of “communal solitude” is my happy medium where I feel like I’m the most productive. I’d really love to sit down and get a discussion going between a number of creatives to talk about that… where our productive “sweet spot” is. I’m not sure this blog really has enough of a readership to get as broad a sampling as I’d like, but I’d still love to know folks’ thoughts on the matter nonetheless.

Snappy Dragon

Second post of the night, I know. I’m waiting for an immortal meeting to start, so I thought I’d write up my thoughts on dinner. I’d heard good things about the Snappy Dragon, a small chinese restaurant just up the hill from my apartment. It’s small, in what looks and feels like a converted house, which makes for a nice, cozy ambiance. Staff was young and pleasant, and I was seated pretty quickly (the benefit of eating early and alone… by the time I left, there was a pretty respectable line). The menu was respectable in length and reasonably descriptive in what each dish contained. I was initially a little disappointed to see a relatively small vegetarian list (while I’m not vegetarian, several friends are, so I’ve taken to keeping an eye out for places that would be reasonable to take them), until I noticed at the top of that section: “Please ask a server for our complete vegetarian menu.” Hah!

Since it was my first time at the restaurant, I figured I’d try one of the dishes that you find everywhere, so I’d have a basis for comparison. I opted for Moo Goo Gai Pan, and a cup of wonton soup. The soup first: it’s pretty normal to run into relatively bland wonton soup, with a soggy wonton in an inconsequential broth. This wonton soup was markedly better than that. While it still remained only wontons in broth, the wontons tasted pretty fresh, and the broth was a hearty and flavorful, based on either a pork or beef stock, and the whole thing was rounded out with a pinch of fresh scallions on top.

The Moo Goo Gai Pan came out and was a respectable portion. Their particular incarnation of this standard is comprised of chicken, snow peas, and three different types of mushrooms in a light sauce. I found the chicken to taste a little dry, but not unreasonably so, and the rest of the dish was excellent: none of the flavors were particularly overpowering, and the sauce served to augment, rather than replace the flavors of the mushrooms and snow peas.

The total meal was very reasonably priced for dinner prices, and I got out of there for $16 after a very respectable tip. I definitely plan on heading back there (especially since it’s so near my house!), and already have an eye on a chef’s special that I want to try: the asparagus in black bean sauce with chicken.

Beware the Posts of March

We’re not at the Ides yet, but it seemed appropriate. Things march forward in life, in generally pleasant ways. I’ve been puttering around getting various tasks done, and in general really wishing I had, say, furniture in my apartment. I’ve been sleeping on a camp mat and using my camp chair to sit in, but it makes it hard to get some computer projects I’d like to do done. Considering it’ll be another week until my things start to arrive (things are being shipped shortly, and the storage unit gets delivered on the 13th)… hrm, I may need to find a solution. As it stands, I spend most of my days in coffee shops, slurping chai and making eyes at the baristas (always more delightful when they make eyes back…). I had dinner with Mickey last night, which was really nice, and hopefully we won’t let quite as much time slip between get togethers now that I’m local again. Honestly, the only major concerns I have right now is job hunting and a strange noise my car has started making. I’m keeping an eye on it, and actually swung down to the service center this morning to make sure (in classic fashion, it wouldn’t make the noise while the mechanic was there). He suspected a loose belt, which makes sense, but it’s not immediately pressing, so it should be able to safely wait until I get my car serviced again. Still, frustrating, and I worry for my poor car. She has 130,000 miles in her already, and I really hope to double that.

As some of you know, Ayyam-i-ha just passed, and my parents were great and sent me some gift cards to help me out with this move. I picked up some frivolity via Amazon (some portable games and preordered Twin Peaks Season 2), and replenished my wardrobe at JC Penney. I’m pretty happy with what I managed to pick out (nothing out of the ordinary, just some nice slacks and button-down shirts suitable for a potential office environment). I do still need to do something about my shoes (my current Keens are beginning to disintegrate), but I think I may be able to just recover a prior pair of shoes by doing something about the insoles. You know me… shopping maven… if by maven you mean decides what he wants, goes in, finds what he wants, buys it, leaves. (Except bookstores… I can spend freakin’ hours in them.)

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already March. Here’s to the coming spring!