Around the world in 80 meals

This entry is a small Louisville culinary journal – we’ve had some great meals since arriving in Louisville. That’s been much appreciated after eating only road snacks (stuff we can carry in a cooler) and fast food along the way.

Our second night here we dined at Barn8. Even on a rainy evening, the place was beautiful – a great visual and culinary experience. Picture of the bar area above. First time there and I definitely want to return. We ate in a converted horse stall, a definite first. We started the meal with a rich, creamy sweet potato bisque. Our entrees were their heritage pork chop and a fennel bucattini. I picked up a nice bottle of small batch bourbon at their extensive bottle shop on the way out.

The very next morning we had brunch at Con Huevos on Frankfort Ave. The food at Con Huevos never disappoints, starting with the perfectly-done soft boiled eggs. I had the chilaquiles con huevos, with chorizo. An extremely tasty gut bomb – I love it at the time, and regret it a bit hours later. Very filling.

Later that day we picked up some pecan-chocolate-chip cookies at Blue Dog Bakery. Can’t go wrong with Blue Dog.

Yesterday was rainy, so we declared a movie afternoon. We brought in salads and a monster pizza from The Post. The Post’s NY-style pizza is about as good as it gets, and their 20-inch pie is really something.

Today we had an excellent Plan B lunch at Ciao, over on Payne Street (Plan A was Logan St Market, but they were unexpectedly closed – a gas leak.) I had a mimosa, monkey bread (!) and a pesto pasta with amazingly tender chicken chunks. My lunchmates had the lasagna, big portions baked perfectly.

And we’re only halfway through our visit. Louisville is a foodie town, even with the pandemic putting a damper on things.

Giants

Took advantage of a gloomy day today to visit Bernheim Forest and see the giants. It was a great walk and was nice to be out in the woods. Grandson Hudson loved it, and we enjoyed seeing the natural world through his eyes. He scrambled around some rocks and I called him a goat – he took great offense to that, and declared “I not goat, I Hudson!”. Can’t argue with that.

There’s a lot to do around Louisville. I’m glad we’re taking advantage of our time here to get out and about, COVID be damned.

More pictures later. I moved my entire Photos library to an external drive – it freed up lots of room on the Mac, but it adds an extra step or two to importing and using pictures.

Forest Giants and Fam
One happy dude

“The difference is entirely one of setting.”

I sure miss Ian Banks. And Ian M. Banks even more.

Simon Stephenson has written a beautiful piece about Banks, published on Tor.com. It starts like this:

It was the day my grandmother exploded.

That might just be the greatest opening line ever written, and I am allowed to say that because I did not write it. It is the opening salvo to Iain Banks’ 1992 novel The Crow Road.”

Every time I read a Banks book I’m inspired to be writer and intimidated that I’ll never be as good as him. As soon as I get home I’m going to grab my paper copy of The Crow Road and read it again.

Uh oh…

It seems that 2020 is not quite finished with us. The Rona is surging in the US and across northern Europe. US daily new cases have moved from 30,000 only a few weeks ago to over 70,000 yesterday! The seven-day moving average of new cases is tilted sharply upward (below), and the deaths will inevitably follow in 2-3 weeks. The University of Washington COVID-19 model, by now pretty well calibrated with reality, is predicting 390K US deaths by February 1st. 390K! President Biden will inherit a broken economy and an out of control pandemic. He’s got his work cut out for him.

Closer to home, there’s an outbreak in my Dad’s assisted living facility. Four residents and three staff have tested positive. Bad, real bad. At least we’re in KY and can respond quickly if either Dad or Phyllis get sick. It’s a helpless feeling, nonetheless.

One bright spot. Biden’s predictive polling lead seems to be holding up, and here in Louisville there are Biden/Harris signs everywhere. Everywhere. And I haven’t seen a single Trump sign, unlike what we saw in the vastness of the Great Plains, covered with MAGA manure. So, good for Louisville, a progressive town in a sadly-still-backward state.

Landed in KY and Novid

We made it to our destination today and are getting comfortable in the Airbnb. Have already seen the grandkids and it’s already worth the trip. But we’re beat.

We made a decision to get a COVID test in Columbia MO yesterday, the day before arriving in KY, hoping that we’d get our negative result quickly and could visit the grandkids with no risk and no mask. That actually worked, but not due to any cooperation from the Missouri health systems.

We saw a drive-up test facility in a parking lot very near our Columbia MO hotel and tried there. It was run by the University of MO, and when we pulled up they informed us that they would only test if we had symptoms or if we had a doctor’s referral (?!). I tried reasoning with the gatekeepers there, but they were adamant. I don’t know who made that decision, but it felt like they were trying to reduce testing, not make it more available.

We were informed that we could get a test at any urgent care clinic. So after checking in, we found the closest urgent care, a strip-mall facility run by NextEra. We checked in, inside a small windowless, ventilation-free room with 7-8 other people already in it. We filled out the forms and got the hell out of that room ASAP.

We waited outside and watched as they serviced about one person every 20 minutes. Already road weary, we decided to wait back at the hotel and they could call us if/when they got to our place in the queue. At that point I thought our plan to get an early test was down the drain.

Two hours later, when we had already given up and were getting settled in, they called. It was a hard decision, but we got re-dressed and drove over t NextEra for our tests. We didn’t have to stay in the still overcrowded waiting room and were ushered directly into the treatment areas.

Two sets of vital signs, a few questions and a double swab later we were done. This was the rapid Abbott test, so we expected our results within 24 hours. We got them about three hours later; both negative as expected. Novid!

I’m glad we went to the trouble of establishing that we’re Novid. It made our first visit with the kids much nicer. But call me very, very unimpressed with Missouri’s dedication to testing. That might explain their overall recent positivity rate of 11%.

Day 2 in Junction

Today we decided to get back out into nature, though this time with a real hike instead of a car trip. We chose the hike to the Mica mines south of the Monument area we visited yesterday. Alltrails has a good summary of the hike here. Definitely worth a visit.

It was 2.6 miles with gradual ups and downs except for the steeper staircase section below. I’m happy to say that the new knee held up perfectly – not a twinge. My actual cardio stamina, though…that still needs work. But a 2+ miles hike was a real milestone, so to speak.

There’s a LOT of beautiful outdoor activity here in Grand Junction. The National Park, the Colorado River, hundreds of miles of bike and hiking trails. I’m impressed.

On the road again

We’re on day 2 of our big road trip for the fall. After a long-ish 11 hour drive from Fallbrook to Grand Junction, we crashed at K’s brother and sister-in-law’s place. And by crashed, I mean I went to bed at 8pm local. The surgery has definitely taken some of my stamina. But the knee survived with minor aches and pains.

Beautiful weather here. Today we visited the Colorado National Monument just outside Grand Junction. Lots of pictures – here’s a good one. They have some big views in Colorado.

The title picture above is of our wonderful hosts with Kathryn at the monument.

UPDATE: I realized I missed a numerological opportunity yesterday – it was 10/10/20, an interesting date. Or 10/10/2020, also not bad.

Insert clever title here

My creative slump continues. It’s hard to write with the incessant noise from Trumpville and our impending extinction-level-event election. The mind wanders easily.

The VP debate was a bit disappointing. I expected Harris to be sharper and Pence to be weaker. Though I’ll have to say he lies extremely well – he’s smooth. Actually, more like smarmy. Harris did come across as smart and classy.

In the “dreams are weird” category, I woke up with an unusual word in mind: tacent. I didn’t know its definition, I just woke up thinking “tacent”. So I looked it up, and it’s a Latin word meaning silent. That search for a definition also led me here, to the Dictionary of Unusual Words. Or The Phrontistery, if you prefer. It includes little bonus sections, like the Compendium of Lost Words. I had no idea it existed and I love it – this will be a new favorite.

I have to mention one particular Trump insanity that popped up overnight. From the CNN website:

President Trump says he doesn’t believe he is contagious and, less than a week after testing positive for coronavirus, he is ready to resume campaign rallies. He says he is immune from another infection and attributed his recovery to being a “perfect physical specimen.” In his first interview since returning from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Trump sounded raspy on the phone speaking with Fox Business. But he insisted he is, in fact, better than normal and is prepared to resume his campaign schedule.

I really think we’re in 25th Amendment territory here, folks. He’s immune? And…”a perfect physical specimen”? Trump is nuts, and someone needs to keep him from harming himself, others and the country further. But no one in his Cabinet will step up and do the right thing.

And finally, I voted today! Feels good; you should try it.

October is different in the West

More bad news today, this time about Dune. Fucking 2020.

I’m definitely in a funk. The endless heat wave, the white skies, surgery recovery, Trump’s insane clown posse Presidency, Napa burning, COVID uncertainty…it all adds up. It’s very hard to do anything creative or productive. Twenty-eight days until the 2020 election. Let’s hope that at least one of the chaos factors clears up around then. If it doesn’t…time to go shopping for Canadian real estate. Or Northern Italy.

One bright spot – we go on a big road trip soon, making our way back to Louisville and an actual autumn season. And of course the kids (seen below). That should go a long way toward resolving my angst, though I am worried about long days spent in a car with the still-healing knee. A calculated risk, like most things these days.

Later today I return my leased BMW 530e, maybe the last brand-new car I’ll ever drive. It was a great one, but I’m happy to now have a fully paid for used car. A small concession to retirement.

One other bright spot of late is that I’ve started reading James S. A. Corey’s incredible series, The Expanse. I loved the Amazon-produced video series, and the books are even better. I see the video’s characters in my head as I read the books, and it lends a realism to the characters and story you don’t often get.

Just another Friday

I took yesterday morning off to go play some golf – my first 18 holes after surgery. That went great, but wow did I miss a lot of crazy in one morning.

  • Trump goes from testing positive, to having “mild symptoms”, to being taken to the hospital. One White House staffer was quoted as saying they wanted him to go to the hospital while he could still walk to the helicopter. (?!) Mild symptoms, huh?
  • Wife Melania, also infected, is on tape being a horrible person. So much for the thought that she’s just a victim caught in Trump’s evil orbit – turns out she’s right at home in the heart of darkness.
  • Half a dozen of Trump’s key staff, several journalists and at least three Rep. Senators also infected, all apparently from the barefaced, socially-packed Rose garden announcement ceremony for Trump’s new SCOTUS nomination.

On that third point I have to include this cartoon sent by a friend. It’s just too perfect.

That’s a lot of crazy for a few hours, even in Trumpville. The next 30 days (!) until the election will be something to watch and live through. You just couldn’t make this shit up – a novel with this plot would be rejected due to lack of believeability.

Holy crap, it’s October

October 1st and it’s 104 degrees here in Fallbrook. Geez.

You know there’s no end to the corruption with Trump, but this strikes me as a bottom-scraping move. Using food bank programs as a campaign tool. He of course has had absolutely nothing to do with our national program of food banks, run mostly by states and non-profits. But here he is, taking credit. He’s one sick dude.

Just stumbled onto this company, a venture capital darling and an interesting play. It’s basically a private Wikipedia. Now I love Wikipedia, and am comfortable with its crowdfunded and open source content pros and cons. So what’s the market for a privately curated version?

I know they’re not quite the same, but this reminds me of one of my old AI-hopeful companies, Cyc. Cyc (now Cycorp, Inc.) was an effort to encode all the world’s common sense in a data structure useful for AI. Doug Lenat, who is still with the company as CEO, starting working on and publicizing Cyc in 1984! So…36 years in product development. I’ll give kudos to Lenat for sticking with it, even if his “products” and use cases now seem pretty pedestrian (e.g. condition-based maintenance for heavy industry – you don’t need an intelligent machine to do this).

Just talked to my Dad. he sounds a little weak, but in good spirits. I talk to him every day lately. It’s great that he’s lucid and friendly – things were different for the years he was on the heavy pain meds. Nobody wanted to talk to him then. I’m sad for all those years lost, but happy that we’ve got a little back now. Knock on wood, 2020 hasn’t destroyed everything.

Grumpy old men

This is the time of the year I really hate it in Socal. Hot (very), dry (very). It hasn’t rained in eight months. It’s 96 degrees at 10am, going to about 105 today. Just another nice Fall day. Hard to believe tomorrow is the first day in October.

And as long as I’m in a mood, just a few words about last night’s “debate”. It was a national embarrassment, just another thing that Trump has touched and killed. Two old white guys (three actually, including the so-called moderator) yelling and talking over each other. Our Presidential election process is a mess, yielding these two as are our best and only choices.

I’m doing the Nth rewrite of chapter one of my novel, and that isn’t helping my mood. It’s hard to throw away the words previously written, but…it is getting better. I’m anxious to declare Ch 1 good enough and move on (again).

Pretty sure I’m having a flareup of COVID cabin fever. Can’t visit with friends because COVID. Can’t enjoy the outdoors because heat. Have to sit a lot and keep the knee elevated because surgery. Can’t fly out and see the grandkids because COVID. There’s a whole lot of can’t in life these days.

2021 needs to be the year of “can”.

UPDATE: It got up to 107 today at the house, 109 out by the freeway. The standing 50+ year all-time record for this date was 100, back in 2004. New heat records being set here about every other day. So yeah, climate change feels real to me.