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Mar 31, 2008

Shrimp on a Stick, Peeled or Not, and Maybe in a Biscuit?

I love shrimp on a stick.

Below, two ways I've seen it as of late:


The first (above) at Carnaval in Mérida MX.  15 pesos (~$1.40) for a long stick of medium shrimp, shell on, basted in a chili dressing, and topped with salt and a squirt of lime.  You can eat the semi-crunchy shell, or you can peel it off.  I eat it for the texture and the flavor.  Makes me happy.  15 pesos was sort of pricey for the product in Mexico, but not when you consider that you're buying it in the middle of Carnival where the prices are inflated for the event.  Beer on the street was 20 pesos.  Walking down the street drinking beer and eating shrimp on a stick on a warm February night, to the sound of a dozen salsa bands: priceless.  Vocab for those interested: camarones a la parrilla ("shrimp on the grill") or brochetas de camarón ("shrimp skewers").


This second set of shrimp is available at A Southern Season for $18/lb.  Much prettier, for sure, with the big peeled shrimp nicely yin-yanged on the skewer.  I didn't try them, but I enjoyed snapping the pic.  On a later visit, the kitchen folks had fanned out ~40 skewers in a lovely pattern that looked like an upside down palm leaf hat. <-click it, it's pretty!  Of course one challenge of pretty food displays is designing them so they'll continue to look good as the supply diminishes.  I didn't hang around to watch.

Most importantly: you might notice the one dark biscuit that looks like it has a fossilized shrimp at top (imagine that the tail is at ~11 o'clock, and the body curls around clockwise.)  I know now that I was just seeing things, but Ho-lee-crap -- what an idea!  Shrimp dropped onto biscuit dough before it goes into the oven?  A most nouvelle Southern canape, don't you think?  I'll have to try this.  The shrimp might need a little cooking before it goes onto the batter, etc. etc.  Must do lots of testing, etc. etc.

05:24 PM in Food, Mexico | Permalink | Comments (1)

Cho for Congress? -- NC 4th District



I've long wondered when we'd see an Asian* running for major political office in the Triangle.  Now I know.. courtesy of Barry in the comments that the answer is "earlier than I thought", with Tuan Nguyen running against David Price in 2002.  But anyway, back to the 2008 race ->. Korean-born Augustus Cho (R) of Chapel Hill hopes to occupy the NC 4th congressional district seat currently occupied by Rep. David Price (D).  But before he goes up against the incumbent, he has to beat B.J. Lawson of Cary in the May 6 Republican primary.

Neither candidate seems to be a major threat to Price, who was re-elected in 2006 with 79% 65%** of the votes in the 4th congressional district (which captures Orange and Durham counties plus Cary and a few other parts of Wake and Chatham counties, but not Raleigh).

Still, it's interesting to visit their websites and to compare their viewpoints to how we suspect our voting neighbors see the world.  Incidentally, Cho is a minister and writer whose web tagline is "preserving America's traditional values."  Lawson is an MD whose web tagline is "Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty".

Two quotes from Cho's website:

Observing the USFK (United State Forces, Korea) from within* confirmed for me that we not only have unquestionable military superiority but even more important, the right morals that go with it.  We are the only ones who refrain from using our incredible arsenal and that is based solely on our historical moral values.  This speaks volumes about who we are as a people and culture.

*note: Cho was a civilian employee working as a trainer.

On the Economy: ever since they took over Congress, Democrat leaders have been leading Americans to believe that the federal government is in some sort of revenue crisis. These voices have become even louder with the recent economic troubles. But at $2.4 billion, federal revenue is actually at an all time high in absolute terms, while as a percentage of gross national product (18.7%), it is above the historical average (18.1%). This is not a revenue crisis, and Democrat rhetoric is in such contradiction to the facts that the only conclusion one can draw is they are pursuing an agenda of misleading Americans into accepting massive tax increases. This is unacceptable. There is no economic need for higher taxes when our government wastes so much of what they already take in. Our current representative does not understand this. I not only believe that taxes need to remain low, but that there are positive steps we can take to make taxes simpler and fairer.

From BJ Lawson's website:

Big government inevitably becomes a tool for corporate and special interests instead of a guardian of individual liberty. Today, big government has given us significant problems: rising food prices, jobs going overseas, illegal immigration, porous borders, failing education, war and occupation, foreign oil addiction, unsustainable entitlement spending, and a crushing debt burden. Since our bloated bureaucracy caused these problems, more bureaucracy cannot solve them. Instead, we need a smaller federal government that is focused on its Constitutional responsibilities.

On Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: At the birth of our nation, concerned states including North Carolina refused to ratify the Constitution without the accompanying Bill of Rights. Our founders would never have tolerated today’s assault on civil rights, individual liberty, and personal privacy. The Patriot Act? The Military Commissions Act of 2006? A National ID Card via RealID? The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007? No, thanks. As your Congressman, I will fight legislation that erodes our civil liberties. Additionally, I strongly support the American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007.


*In 2004, the "Asians" made up ~1.6% of the North Carolina population, according to the U.S. Census.  For a few stats and comments on Asians and Latinos and other groups in NC, check out "Ethnic Population Change" at NCAtlasRevisited.org

**sorry. my earlier number was just Orange County.  I wasn't reading the webpage thoroughly enough.  New number is from Wikipedia entry on NC US House Elections 2006.

01:26 AM in Triangulations | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mar 28, 2008

NCCU Baseball at Durham Bulls Athletic Park


Above, from game 1 of a doubleheader between NCCU and Elizabeth City State.  As you can see, there weren't too many spectators for the double loss (1-8 and 10-13), but it was a mid-week day-game, and the weather was cold.  So who could blame anyone?  [I'll save my commentary on "why do college students take time off from classes to play sports?" question for later.]

NCCU revived its baseball team this spring after a 33-year hiatus.  Their return has been marked in style: with their first season's home games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  Next year they'll move to their permanent home at the Historic Durham Athletic Park.  The other Triangle universities have much more prominent teams (especially Carolina), but none have digs nearly so cool.  Duke beat NCCU at the DBAP earlier this week.  I wonder if they were more thrilled about playing at the DBAP than they were with their win.

NCCU plays Shaw for a double-header tomorrow in their last home/DBAP game.  If you don't mind the weather, head out.  Seats should be free.  They'll have at least one snack bar open.  No beer, though.

College Baseball Digest has a very nice article on NCCU's return, here at  Baseball returns to NC Central after three decades The Eagles have landed at DBAP

Click here for: NCCU Baseball Home Page.  And click here for: BlackCollegeBaseball.com


Changes at DBAP?  New bull to be visible/legible from both sides (under construction at far left).  And is "The Blue Monster" (see faint paint at bottom of left field wall) something new?  Or did I miss that one from last year?  And of course, the bigass new building, which nicely fills out the horizon.

03:56 PM in Destination Durham | Permalink | Comments (1)

Taverna Nikos, Revived and Slightly Revised

At long last, Taverna Nikos is re-opened at Brightleaf Square.*  The calamari are as good as I remembered them.  They've redecorated just a little.  The accent colors seem to be different now -- much more blue (on the walls, in the trim, in the napkins?) than I remember.  But I'm horribly bad for remembering colors, so maybe I'm just confused.

The menu is shorter -- one big sheet, laminated.  The bread now has seeds and whatnot (instead of being plain white) but the butter is still as yummy, as is the olive oil.



*OK, so I know it's been open for a month or so now.  But after being closed for so darned long, it still feels "just" re-opened to me.

01:21 AM in Destination Durham, Food | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mar 27, 2008

Duke Dookie

Folks have wondered out loud about water conversation at Duke.  Here are two signs I saw in a dorm restroom while I was visiting a faculty fellow friend last week:

First, a yellow sign (that did not refer to "if it's yellow, let it mellow") posted in each stall.  Focused on cleanliness, not conservation:


Conservation comes when you're done:


01:32 AM in Destination Durham, Seen | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mar 25, 2008

First Annual Downtown Durham Conference -- March 31 at Duke


This will probably be a fine conference (see below for details from the Duke Real Estate Club), but I hope that whoever did the posters isn't hoping for a job with Greenfire.  See alternate spelling of "Lemanski", highlighted above.*

March 31, 2008 -- 1st Annual Downtown Durham Conference -- http://www.DurhamConference.com

The purpose of the Downtown Durham Conference is to foster awareness of the revitalization of downtown Durham. The conference will feature a panel of city leaders, Duke University officials, and real estate developers involved with downtown Durham. The panel discussion will focus on the collaboration of the city, developers, and Duke to rebuild downtown.

The panel will include: 

  • Bill Kalkohf, President of Downtown Durham Inc.
  • Michael Lemanski, Managing Partner of Greenfire Development
  • Andy Rothschild, President of Scientific Properties
  • Patrick Baker, Durham City Manager
  • Mike Woodard, Durham City Councilman
  • Scott Selig, Associate Vice President of Capital Assets at Duke
  • Dr. Phail Wynn, Vice President of Durham and Regional Affairs at Duke

The conference will consist of a panel discussion from 7-9 PM followed by a reception. The event will be located at the Love Auditorium, Duke University West Campus. Free parking will be available at the Bryan Center Parking Lot.


*Hooray that they fixed it on the website.  If these folks learn anything in B-school, it's that you need to double-check important documents before they go out...  I won't ask why they put a poster with tear-off strips inside the window of a locked office. 

Thinking back, I can't remember the last time I made a poster with tear-off strips.  What was I selling?  What was I trying to get someone to do?  I'll be happy to never do another.  It's too easy to make mistakes that earn heckling :-)

12:49 AM in Destination Durham, News, Seen | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mar 24, 2008

Which Came First, the Chicken or its Eggs?


For those of you who farm, forgive me my ignorance.*  For decades I've been amazed that a little chicken could produce, from scratch,** a whole egg every day.  But finally, last month at the Parque Santiago market in Mérida, the butchers explained it to me. 

See those orange things?  Those are eggs on the make.  They start small and get big.  And then eventually they foomp out.  I'll be goddamned.

Garrison Keillor has a fine story about slaughtering some (free range) chickens in his book Leaving Home.  I haven't yet found a good site to describe the egg development process, but here are a couple:  How a Hen Lays Her Egg (which has a photo) and Chicken Egg Development, which explains that "The eggshell is deposited around the egg in the lower part of the oviduct of the hen, just before it is laid. The shell is made of calcite, a crystalline form of calcium carbonate."

Archer Pelican oldie (with a photo of chickens that are still alive): Chickenbutt!! That's What!


*And for those of you who don't farm, forgive me posting the maybe-gross-you-out photo without warning.

**no pun intended, I swear. 

12:18 AM in Mexico | Permalink | Comments (5)

Mar 23, 2008

Georgian Easter

Anythingcanhappen Anything Can Happen is the first memoir of George and Helen Waite Papashvily.  George emigrated from the Republic of Georgia to the United States in the late 20s, and the book tells of his first decades here.  It's one of my favorite books.  Here is an Easter excerpt:

Next morning, in honor of the Day, all us foreigners have habit to kiss each other and say, "Christos Voskrecé."

"Looks so nice," Miss Betty says, she's giving childrens their breakfast, "What does it mean?"

"Means Christ rose. You supposed to answer, 'Voistinu Voskrecé.'  I do believe that He rose!  Like Americans say, 'Happy Easter.'"

"But so much better," Miss Betty said, "Christ rose. I like it.  Sounds so sweet and serious for Easter morning.  Christ rose."

"Christ rose!" Besso came in the kitchen and kissed everybody.

"I believe -- how you say -- I believe He rose?" Miss Betty told him, "But I thought you was an atheist, Besso?"

"Certainly I am.  we take for example story of Adam and Eva -----"

"I know," Miss Betty said.  "You explained me that yesterday.  But why you say, Christ rose?"

"Why? After all," Besso looked hurt, "just because person is atheist -- Christos Voskrecé, Piotr.  Challico --" He kissed them on both cheeks as they came through the door.  -- "Because person is atheist he doesn't need to have bad manners."

11:58 PM in Quotables, Reviews | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mar 20, 2008

"'Rescued' from Tibet" at Kelly's

A timely and informative post from Kelly:  "Rescued" from Tibet.  <-- click for full article.  Photo and excerpt, below:

According to the Chinese English language newspaper China Daily, I was along with almost 600 other tourists "rescued" from Tibet on Saturday. Forced out is more accurate description. We were given one option: leave Tibet.

By the time we woke on Saturday AM, the Chinese military was well on its way to imposing martial law. The roads were blocked. Our Tibetan guide and our driver were unable to reach us at our hotel. We were told not to leave the hotel under any circumstances because it was unsafe. I didn't feel unsafe. I could see out the window of my hotel some military and local Chinese people standing around smoking cigarettes.


Brave of her to take the photo, if you ask me.

03:10 PM in News, Traveling | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iraq Fifth Anniversary -- Chapel Hill Vigil

At 7, people stood in small circles to read letters written by vets and their families.

Later, folks gathered on the steps for a group photo:


Note the "Christ of Baghdad" at right, below.  At the bottom of the sign, "God has laid upon him the violence of us all -- the prophet Isaiah".

Said one vigil keeper:  "I remember being here five years ago, thinking, 'maybe we can stop this before it starts....'"

Photos from the Durham vigil here at The Durham Bullpen - Tonight, we remembered.  So many lost.


12:23 AM in Misc.Blog 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mar 19, 2008

Puritanism and Jealousy

Lord help you if you want an actual citation for Mencken's quote on Puritanism, but it goes something like this:

“Puritanism:  The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy"

I think I heard it before as

"...someone, somewhere, may be having fun."

Which relates to one of my new definitions of jealousy:

Jealousy: the haunting fear that someone in particular may be having more fun than me, in some particular way.

Just a little something I've been wrestling with lately.  Breathing and prayer help, followed by the brain reminding myself that I have it very good, indeed. 

Do you ever get jealous?  What ever do you do to fix it?

02:17 AM in Misc.Blog 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Mar 16, 2008

Candlelight Peace Vigil on the 5th Anniversary of This War in Iraq -- Wed, 7 to 8, Brightleaf Corner

On behalf of the Durham Friends Meeting:

The Peace and Social Concerns Committee of the Durham Friends Meeting invite members of the Durham community and beyond to join together for a candlelight vigil on the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq. Wednesday, March 19, 2008 7:00-8:00PM at Brightleaf Square on the corner of Main and Gregson Streets in Durham.  Names of some of the many who have lost their lives will be read.  Bring candles.  For more information contact: Nikki Vangsnes 699-8207 or Karen Stewart.

Candlelight Vigil for Peace on the 5th Anniversary of the War in Iraq
Wednesday, March 19, 7:00-8:00PM 
Brightleaf Square 
Corner of Gregson and Main 
Durham, NC

       Wednesday, March 19, 2008 marks the fifth anniversary of the US-led war in Iraq. One month prior to the invasion in March 2003, the Durham Friend Meeting approved the following minute. Quakers were against the war then and stand against it still.  We grieve the loss of each of the nearly 4000 soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis whose lives have been lost.  We mourn for the many more who have been wounded physically, emotionally and spiritually and whose suffering continues.

       "With regard to our nation's insistence on seeking military solutions, Durham Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) holds firm that only a nonviolent response, grounded in spiritual truth and love disarms fear and terror.  The basis of our commitment is our belief in the presence of that of God in every living person.  Global security rests on the development of collaborative and just relations with peoples and nations around the world and at home.  We, as Quakers are called to witness again to the continuing power of God's love in our violent and suffering world and to work for peace, reconciliation and justice for all in the human family."
approved 2/9/03

       The human and fiscal costs of the war continue at a staggering rate.  US taxpayers spent over a trillion dollars on the first four years of the war, and are currently spending at a rate of $750 million dollars a day.  The American Friends Service Committee, estimates that just one day of spending on the Iraq war could have supported 95,364 Head Start places for children, 12,478 elementary school teachers, 163,525 people with health care or 34,904 four year college scholarships or provided 6,482 families with homes.

       Please join us on Wednesday, March 19th at 7:00PM.

Peace and Social Concerns Committee
Durham Monthly Meeting

10:46 PM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)

ACC Tourney -- Triangle Teams Represent

A window sticker for the Tar Heels, red paint for the Wolfpack, and a BMW mark for the Blue Devils.*

On the way to a client meeting on Friday, I stopped for a late lunch at the Time Out Bar and Grill ("Come Try Our Lunch Buffet!") on Miami Blvd.  I wondered why there were so many cars in the parking lot at 1:30 on a workday afternoon. But when I got inside, I saw the TV sets and understood.


*Cheap joke.  Sorry.  Can't help it this time of year.  Also this time of year: I seem to associate the ACC basketball tournament with bad food.  Friday's lunch was not a winner.  Nor was the frickin' trip to Red Lobster I took in 2006 after being bombarded with their ads throughout the tournament.  Frickin' Red Lobster and their frickin' lousy lobster.

In other things, did anyone else see Tyler Hansbrough's hilarious double-fist-pump and run after he hit the game-winner against Virginia Tech?  All praise to his basketball, but for his post-bucket dance, the man might consider taking lessons from... well... anyone.  Here, in case you haven't seen it, Vince Carter  jumping-over-the-French-guy's head for a slam dunk followed by an interesting leg shake in the 2000 Olympics.  Fave quote from the end of the video, "Right over top of 'im!"

12:39 AM in Triangulations | Permalink | Comments (3)

Mar 13, 2008

Customs in Customs


Sexuality in uniform.  More from the Emerald City at Customs in Customs

11:20 PM in Traveling | Permalink

"Classic Conveyance"


Me in a '51 Chevy Deluxe 4-door.  Original engine.  Rebuilt Mitsubishi transmission.

Check out Dave's post Classic Conveyance for his thoughts and pics of old cars in the Emerald City (and old Soviet airplanes like the YAK-42 that got us there).

Dave's post doesn't include his fine photo of our ride's engine, so I'm posting it here:


For any of you younger readers, that thing with a cylindrical top and a tube coming out of the side is called a "carburetor".  For you older readers who are wondering "waitamminit..." you are correct.  This otherwise fine engine is missing an air filter.

For a well-kept American-owned '51 Chevy Deluxe 4-door, visit Ed's Car in West Palm Beach Florida.  For one in much worse condition, visit Dan's Garage where you can buy a rusted body with no engine for $1,250.

12:17 AM in Traveling | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mar 12, 2008

Like Water for Broccoli


Back in the US as of noon-ish today.  And among the first two USA thrills: (1) drinking from a water fountain* and (2) raw green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, spring mix and sprouts) at a Jason's Deli salad bar.


*what do you call these things: water fountain? drinking fountain? bubbler?  And were your grade school and high school fountains like mine -- some with a trickle that made you suck off the metal as if you were a gerbil, and others that blasted your face, hair, shirt, and the hallway if you didn't treat the knob like a caffeinated rattlesnake?

Photo: plumbingworld.com

12:38 AM in Mexico | Permalink | Comments (2)

Mar 11, 2008

Today, Instead -- the Jade City

So apparently this is "Durham bloggers go to communist countries month".  If my travels took me to the Emerald City, I guess that the Durham Foodie is off to the Jade City -- Beijing.  Yesterday Kelly had an interesting post on Chinese censorship:

The whole censorship thing really gets under my skin. Besides Google blogger, China censors the BBC Web site, parts of CNN web, and various other news outlets that do not reflect their party line. I was watching CCN on the TV this evening and there was a piece on about the alleged terrorist plot that China thwarted. About 2 minutes into the broadcast the TV went dead. A few minutes later it went live in the middle of another broadcast.

Nothing to report on food. I worked all day and am too tired to eat.

Go visit Durham Foodie this week for more from China, and for months and months of yet more food.  Be warned -- reading her blog can make you very hungry.

Two random bits on Chinese food:

1.  My new Australian friend Karen sometimes visits China where she does not speak the languages.  A paraphrase of her comment: "My best friend in China threatens me to stay on her good side.  'Don't piss me off or your next meal is dog.'  And yes, dog is on every menu."

2.  Calvin Trillin -- a big fan of Chinese food in New York and elsewhere -- supposedly carries a card in his wallet with these words: "I'll have what that guy over there is having."

I'm back in the US for a month or so, but I'll be continuing with posts on the Emerald City this week and next.

11:16 PM in Food, Links of Note, Recipes | Permalink | Comments (4)

Armando sings Trova

My flight leaves in six hours.  There are many things I'll miss in Mérida, not the least of which are the Trova performances of my new friend Armando.  Fortunately, I pestered him into recording an album before I left.  Here's a track which I hope you'll enjoy:

Armando canta Arturo Castro's De Llorar por Dentro (3.6MB).

p.s. I hope that the 3.56 MB file has uploaded correctly.  If not, I'll fix when I get home.  Technology.  Hooray.

DOUBLE P.S.  Flight is delayed two hours -- now 8 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. and you know I would have loved those two hours of sleep.  But in any case -- here is your first (half) post on sentimentality and parting of ways.  No, not Christine Lavin's "Getting Used to Leaving", but another Armando track: Bésame Mucho, with its classic line, como si fuera esta noche la ultima vez -- as if this night were the last. Download Bésame Mucho (5MB)


Addendum, 30 Dec 2008: here are the lyrics to De Llorar por Dentro:

Que debo hacer
Para que tú sepas que aún
Te sigo amando

Que puedo hacer
Para que tú sepas que jamás
Yo te olvidado

Si ya no puedo tenerte
Si ya no puedo besarte
Si sé que hasta tus lindos ojos
Que desamorosamente con frialdad me ven

Debes saber
Que no volveré a amar jamás
Como a ti te amado

Debes saber
Que el final de nuestro amor es fin
De un sueño adorado

Que debo hacer vida mía
No hay solución no la encuentro
Solo me queda un consuelo
De llorar por dentro

Debes saber
Que no volveré a amar jamás
Como a ti te amado

Debes saber
Que el final de nuestro amor es fin
De un sueño adorado

Que debo hacer vida mía
No hay solución no la encuentro
Solo me queda un consuelo
De llorar por dentro

De llorar por dentro

Nine months later, I'm surprised by how much this music touches me.

02:37 AM in Mexico | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mar 10, 2008

George Will Loitering Way Off Base


George Will is editorializing on the Emerald City, and I think he's got some things seriously wrong.  Click to read George Will Loitering Way Off Base.

03:19 AM in Mexico | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mar 06, 2008

Because Too Much Is Illegal in a Totalitarian State


Continue reading this Emerald City post at --> Because Too Much is Illegal...

10:36 PM in Mexico | Permalink

"Durham - A Self-Portrait" Saturday in RALEIGH

Durham - A Self-Portrait <-works best in IE.

  • 8 March, Saturday, 2 p.m. NC Museum of History, Raleigh
  • 30 March, 12:45 and 4:45, NC Triangle Jewish Film Festival, Galaxy Theatre, Cary
  • 11 April, 7:30 p.m. Durham Arts Council

DVDs available for purchase or as a premium for $30+ donations.

Shout out to Raleigh blogger RDUWTF.com for the info.


Rumor has it that I appear for a second or two in the back of one shot.

06:19 PM in Destination Durham, News, Triangulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

After Dark


In the interest of making this trip (and my name attached to it) at little less Googleable by the Man, I'll be posting Emerald City blogs at Live Journal.  Click here for After Dark.

10:27 AM in Mexico | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mar 05, 2008

The Emerald City -- Lights, Camera, Lighters

I've been wrestling with how to blog about my recent trip to The Emerald City

Travelpal Dave is moving more quickly with Wednesday Nights at the Guanabo and Fosforero, fosforero.

10:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)