19 March 2016

The Man Who Invented Honey-Mustard Salad Dressing

The origins of so many foods, recipes, and condiment mixtures are lost in the mists of time. How would anyone have discovered the edibility of an artichoke? Where did the recipe for Caesar salad really come from? And was it Samuel Johnson, Alexander Pope, or Jonathan Swift who famously wrote “Twas a brave man who first ate an oyster.”

Of course, some legends have a beginning, even if it can’t be completely substantiated. Caesar salad probably really did originate at Caesar’s restaurant in Tijuana. The ubiquitous Chocolate Chip Cookie may not have originated from the recipe on the Nestle packet, but that certainly represents a valid claim of origin. Tabasco hot pepper sauce supposedly has a formula as closely held as Benedictine liquor (where only three monks are alleged to know the complete recipe of more than a hundred herbs and flavorings).

My ex-father-in-law, Dan Ryan, worked as the chef at the San Clemente Inn in Southern California in the 1970s and ’80s. If memory serves, he’d bounced around the So Cal restaurant world for years, as do many in the business.

Dan was one of the most curmudgeonly people I’ve ever met. Maybe not so much grumpy, actually, but indifferent to people, preferring kitchens, books, and painting. I still have two cactus-flower still-life paintings of his. My ex-wife was, as I, an only child, and once a month we’d spend a weekend with her folks, and once a month with mine. Since Dan was a cook, I got on fine with him and at least occasionally had things to talk about.

Dan especially loved to cook eggs Benedict for breakfast, although he knew (and his wife Beth frequently reminded him) that it wasn’t the best meal for his heart and health. Beth was a fine cook, but on our visits she almost always deferred to Dan.

From spring through fall in Southern California, fruit and vegetable stands would appear on every corner. I still remember the best price I ever saw on Avocados – 20 for a dollar, along the back roads of rural San Diego County. So, of course, salads were served with nearly every meal. (Back then, I felt that California’s only real claim to culinary invention in America was the salad bar.)

On one of our earliest visits, Dan offered “something new I’ve been playing with at the restaurant.” He called it Honey-Mustard Salad Dressing. For me – having grown up on “Roquefort” (really blue cheese) and Thousand Island salad dressings from a jar – this was exciting. Bright yellow, spicy and sweet at the same time, I loved it. Needless to say, we wanted the recipe.

The next time we visited, we were presented with a rumpled photocopy of a stained, hand-written list of ingredients that began with the words, “5 gallons of mayonnaise.” We were on our own to scale that beast down to manageable-sized proportions.

Today, the San Clemente Inn still stands, but the restaurant where Dan was the chef has vanished. There is still a restaurant at the inn today, but it seems to be an undistinguished “American” hotel restaurant/café/diner called Adele’s. (In fairness, Adele’s was apparently voted “best breakfast in San Clemente” in 2007.) And the Inn itself has become what appears to be a timeshare resort. There does not seem to be honey-mustard salad dressing on the menu today.

Although recipes can’t be copyrighted, commercial formulas can. Yet today there are dozens of different honey-mustard salad dressings on the grocery shelves. I hope, somewhere, Dan Ryan is smiling, happy that his (probable) invention is being enjoyed by so many diners.

27 February 2012

Colors of Santa Fe

24 February 2012

For the Photo Nerds Out There

Here are 2 black-and-white conversions. First one is direct from a camera jpg via PhotoShop's "convert to B&W" feature. The second is an identical raw file (both saved at same time in-camera) and then hand adjusted in PhotoShop's ACR.

23 January 2012

Paw Prints

Two paw prints in the wet sand from our hike yesterday. The right one is our 55-pound Border Collie. The left one is.... Probably a bobcat.

06 June 2011

News from the Capital

It seems kind of pitiful. We live in the capital of New Mexico – Santa Fe. Our skies have been obscured for days with smoke from the wildfires in nearby Arizona. Today, after several days of smoke, the local paper finally deigns to mention it.

Conversely, TWO DAYS AGO we saw an article on the BBC website (“British” Broadcasting Company) news about the fires. British. UK. Europe.

Our local paper is more interested in drug dealers being shot, in misdeeds in the Santa Fe police department, in local jack-off politics than in news that directly impacts the residents of this community.

For years I’ve been bemoaning the state of newspapers in this country. Even the big ones seem stuck in the 1970s. I’ve given up on the New York Times since they instituted a pay wall. For national news I now go to NPR and the BBC.

Sarah Palin should love it – the fewer people who read real news, the better for her shining example of idiocy.

01 June 2011

Art or Security?

Is it art...

...or is it security?

The original complete photo, below.

23 May 2011

Lance Armstrong

No matter how you feel about 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, he has never tested positive for drugs. But now, a second admitted liar/cheater/whiner/doper is seeking a book deal, and is (again and again and again) accusing Lance of getting away with doping.

A few years back, Floyd Landis claimed Armstrong doped. The same Floyd who “won” the Tour but was stripped of his title for drugs. (And thus denied the rightful winner all the appropriate acclaim.) Floyd wrote a book (wonderfully titled “Positively False”) protesting his innocence. Then – finally – he admits he’s a doper, a cheat, and a liar. But he still accuses Lance.

Now Tyler Hamilton, too, claims Armstrong doped. The same Tyler who has twice tested positive and who received an 8-year ban from the sport. The same Tyler who “wins” an Olympic gold medal (and thus denies… oh, you get the idea), but now admits his cheating, lying, and doping.

I’ve never been a Lance “fan,” even during my (admittedly low-level) bike racing days. (And I have criticized Lance’s charity previously on this blog.) But I will continue to give the man the benefit of the doubt. Re-read the first sentence in this post. Lance has performed as no other cyclist ever has – and over a phenomenally long timeframe. Draw your own conclusions, but never forget the phrase, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Floyd and Tyler are proven liars and cheats. Who would you prefer to believe?

Here’s the BBC’s article about the controversy, reporting on Tyler’s accusation against the UCI (cycling’s governing body) for aiding and abetting Lance. Nothing would be better if Floyd and Tyler disappeared quickly and quietly.

05 May 2011

Obama 1 Osama 0

As would be expected, there’s a tremendous amount of CRAP being spewed about the killing of Osama bin Laden. It’s a conspiracy. It was an assassination/murder. The Muslims will deify bin Laden and make him a martyr. His grave will become a shrine. The U.S. simply screwed up and is issuing massively conflicting accounts of the operation.

So what?

A mass murderer has been eliminated. No matter how it occurred, the Muslims would whine, threaten, and protest. Maybe the ones who are congregating on the beaches of the Arabian Sea (which they’re already apparently calling the Martyr’s Sea) will just keep walking until their turbans float.

This operation was meant to be a find-and-kill mission. It’s a mystery why the U.S. administration didn’t come out and say so. (Oh, wait, that’s politics.) Who cares about offending Muslim sensibilities? When I was involved with wilderness search-and-rescue work, we always had a focus (of course, on saving lives) and a plan, and the Seals who performed this mission were supremely trained professionals with a specific focus. Kill bin Laden. I just wish our so-often wishy-washy government could have come out and said so. I doubt – despite administration PR hokum – that there was ever the slightest intent to “capture” bin Laden alive. None.

Nonetheless, one less Muslim terrorist is alive on this planet. My hope is that the word gets around – the word to the terrorists is that someday, somehow, somewhere, we’re (U.S. commandos) going to get you. We need to create a feeling among the radical Muslims that our zeal for vengeance will be unlimited. That it will match the Muslim zeal for killing innocent civilians in retaliation for drawing cartoons or burning a book. Maybe the Muslims won’t (at first) completely get it, but if a few more Muslims eventually start to believe that there is no quarter, no sorrow on our part – well, maybe we can eliminate even more terrorists. Maybe we can make our world a slightly safer place.

Every time we have another MGB (Mohammed Go Boom), we wring our hands and worry about Muslim sensibilities. We (western civilization) need to get over it. Until the Muslim world decides it’s somehow worthwhile to leave the 7th century and enter the 21st, there will be no solution. Until the Muslim world begins to treat women with respect (bravo to France for the law against the burqa), until that Muslim world itself begins to denounce suicide bombers and civilian murders and stoning women to death, our best response is “the bin Laden doctrine” – if you’re a terrorist and we find you, you’re dead. No fucking Guantanamo trials, no questions, no arrests. Just goodbye.

07 March 2011

The Shed

The Shed restaurant, Santa Fe, where everything on the menu looks and sounds great but is too hot to taste any real flavor. Nonetheless, a local's favorite. Makes a pretty picture at night, though. (Handheld at very low shutter speed, with a Nikon Vibration-Reducing lens.)

06 February 2011


I’ve been addicted to stuff – toys, tools, gear – for most of my life. At one time, I had lists upon lists of stuff I wanted or thought I needed. Bikes, canoes, boots, clothing, tents, packs. I was an outdoor-gear junkie, sure, but a lot of that gear was actually essential for my lifestyle. If I was gonna race bikes, I needed good bikes. If I was heading out for a ski mountaineering expedition, I wanted quality gear to keep me comfortable and (hopefully) alive.

But although I still bike, ski, and hike, the intensity has become toned down, quieted. The adventures are shorter and less frequent. My desire to get back to a nice dinner and a glass of wine is just as important.

A few weeks ago, I was working in the garage, and then later sorting clothes and stuff in an overstuffed bedroom closet. Looking at the three bikes hanging from the rafters of the garage and my four pairs of downhill skis and three pairs of cross-country skis and the ski jackets and bike shorts and hiking socks in the closet, I realized that I probably will never need a new piece of outdoor gear again in my life. Which was a liberating and simultaneously depressing thought. Unless I break a ski (before I break my leg) or wear out a pair of hiking boots (more likely), my current gear will last me the rest of my outdoor life. The rest of my life.

Years ago, when I was about 40, I was driving to Moab, Utah, to go mountain biking for the weekend. My girlfriend and I were discussing where to camp, what to cook for dinner, and as we drove I began doing some mental calculations. I realized that between my late 20s and that drive to Moab, I’d probably spent nearly 400 nights sleeping outside. And I’d never been a professional guide or outfitter – just an everyday outdoor junkie. A year of my life (over a roughly 10-year span – 1 of every 10 nights) spent sleeping in the dirt. We stayed in a motel that night, and had a clean shower after our ride.

I know I’ve gotten soft. But I’ve also become OK with that. I had many great adventures in the wilderness of Colorado, Washington, Alaska, California, and many other places. Yet even as I’ve slowed down, I’ve still hiked the Vienna Woods of Austria (extremely tame), the Triglav Alps of Slovenia, the highlands and islands of Scotland, and the mogotes of Cuba. In various mountain ranges – even in these “civilized” United States – I’ve set foot on patches of this earth that may not have seen another footprint for decades, if ever.

For awhile I had a bit of a competitive streak, although I was never really exceptional at anything. I raced mountain bikes, whitewater canoes, running races. I sought out new climbing routes. (In the climbing world, “first ascents” are a big deal, even if it’s a short climb a few yards from another line up the same cliff.) But I could also be happily non-competitive. I spent many rewarding years on a Colorado Search-and-Rescue team helping hapless (or frequently, clueless) souls out of the wilderness. Sometimes we couldn’t help them – their time had come and gone.

And I guess that’s the horizon I’m seeing. Not just in an outdoor adventure sense, but I can see the horizon line of my life much more clearly. I don’t think I’m fatalistic, but I realize our time on earth is finite. I realize the sunset over the edge of the mountains is quite a bit closer for me. And I think I’m completely at peace with that.

If I can get out for a hike most days; get on my bike occasionally; spend half-a-dozen days (instead of five dozen) on the ski slopes each year (more likely in the warmer spring days now, though); and keep fit and healthy enough to drink good wine and eat fine meals with my friends and loved ones… that will be enough.

I’d be happy to garden (a surprisingly significant amount of exercise) year round; maybe I’ll take up golf again (after 40 years off). I’ll probably… no, I’ll NEVER… paddle a Class IV rapid again. I’ll never again ski two days into a backcountry campsite to climb a peak in winter. I’ll never rock climb 5.11 again.

And it’s all OK. Because for the things I still can and want to do, I have all the stuff I’ll ever need. And someday – someday – I’ll have one hell of a garage sale of vintage outdoor stuff.

Val d’Isere, France, 2006

28 January 2011

Digital Black & White

14 January 2011

Birds in Flight

Sandhill cranes and snow geese, Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

12 January 2011

I'm Not Even Sure What to Title This

When events such as the Tucson murders occur, the American media (on both sides of the political spectrum) start peeing on themselves to prove their (often dubious) points. In such times, we tend to turn to the international media (no, not the International Herald Tribune, which is just the New York Times in disguise). The Guardian UK is admittedly a liberal publication, yet still has some of the most insightful comments on many aspects of American politics.

The Tucson madman is surely that – deranged. And whether or not he was influenced by conservative hate speech will be impossible to determine. Yet the fact is that such hate speech exists – and its existence is denied by the radical right. Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, separated at birth.

Sarah Palin had the opportunity to lower the rhetoric and raise the bar of civility. Her statements (on Twitter and Facebook!) show her true identity. Here’s the best commentary about her inability to act as a humane and intelligent human being. From the Guardian UK.

11 January 2011

Wikipedia Hacked

This is great. Someone has hacked Wikipedia. Type in "GOP" and the entry for "Mental retardation" pops up. It will probably be gone by the time you read this, but....

31 December 2010

Photo - December 31, 2010

Shadows and light in the backyard this morning.

21 December 2010

Photo - December 21, 2010


Whether I end up in heaven or hell (or wherever) when I die, I hope there are no computers there.

28 November 2010

The Choices of Climate

How many times have men (and women) begun a story or a joke with: “There are two kinds of people…”? Such a cliché, and so staggeringly simplistic. Yet like most clichés, most stereotypes, most generalizations, it contains a kernel of truth in its core. In many ways, there are “two kinds of people.”

I was thinking about climate. About our desires for warm or cold or humid or dry. About how most people tolerate the weather they’re born or blessed (or cursed) with; and about how another group of people try to live their lives in a manner to cater to their weather desires.

Of course, the wealthier or freer you are, the easier it is to go where the weather suits you the best. Or maybe not. Is the weather in Omaha the ultimate climate for Warren Buffett? Does Bill Gates really think Seattle has the best climate in the world?

A friend recently commented on our personal weather choices, while briefly discussing hers. And as with most things in life, it’s about choices – the choices we make, and the choices that we suffer in silence for our whole lives in a climate that we can manage to endure. For many people, career, family, history, social opportunities, or inertia drive their ability and desires to celebrate or endure the climate where they live.

Yet for a smaller (I would imagine) subset of humanity, the search for and the living in a “perfect” climate is, if not an obsession, at least an overriding element of their psyche and their core.

I like to believe I’ve lived in a reasonably wide variety of climates – north-central eastern seaboard of the U.S. (New Jersey); ocean-side Pacific Northwest; inland Pacific Northwest (both Washington); Colorado Mountains; Mediterranean southern California; hot Southwest desert (Arizona); high-altitude southwest mountains/desert (New Mexico); Pacific rim (Japan). And over those years, I’ve developed some distinct preferences. At this stage of my life, climate/weather is one of the most significant aspects of any list of places where I’d choose to live. Barring poverty, it trumps jobs, family, or social aspects.

Yet I still fantasize about the semi-Arctic (Scandinavia), the Alps (Switzerland), even the tropics (Cuba). But there is a core within me that needs – craves – a certain climatic mix. Four seasons. Snow (not too much, mind you) in winter. Not humid. Not too hot in summer. Fall colors.

The friend I mentioned says she needs clouds (again, not too many, mind you). Another friend lives where he lives out of ennui, out of habit, because he’s close to family and friends and a career. All in a place that (I think, from his comments) in his core he loathes from a climate standpoint. (We have another friend who always signs his notes to us with the phrase “a Dane stuck in Sweden.” There are many reasons for his line, but a part of me would love to be “stuck in Sweden.”)

We are creatures of our choices – and many of our choices are the ones we choose not to make. The women we decide not to live with. The good jobs we turn down. The family we don’t live near any more. The schooling we didn’t continue.

An ex (who claimed to be a recovering Catholic, or sometimes a Zen Catholic) used to say that there was a saying within the church to the effect that just because God doesn’t grant your prayers or wishes, it doesn’t mean that he/she isn’t listening – that maybe the not-granting of your prayer is God’s gift and answer. (Unfortunately, I think I’m too atheistic to believe in that. Fate or free will – I’m not sure I’ll ever understand the answer to that one.)

As societies, we’ve become numb to the world around us. Most of the world’s population now lives in cities – whether Beijing, Mumbai, New York, or London. Whether we can stand London’s gray weather or Mumbai’s stifling heat – we live where we are. We shuffle through life with our heads down, waiting for the ray of sunlight that can cause us to lift up our eyes and which can brighten an entire week. Or the mysterious cool breeze that can refresh us down to our core.

For me, a “bad” climate seems like getting close to death. I may not always thrive in a “good” climate, but I know that I stagnate and corrode in a bad one.

09 November 2010

The Best Blog of All Time

The best - and best written - blog out there today is simply The Hokumburg Goombah. There's no need to say anything else. Just read the damn thing every day.

08 November 2010

Photo - November 8, 2010

Yellow on yellow.

10 August 2010

In Memory – Tom Grams

Yesterday afternoon, I found out that an old biking and paddling acquaintance from Durango, Colorado – Tom Grams – was one of the 10 medical volunteers murdered in Afghanistan.

I’d seen the news when it happened, and I somehow felt... something different than the simple sadness and anger that such news would normally elicit in me. I would normally not have looked for the names of the victims, but something made me search for them. And of course, the media didn’t release those names at first. So I sort of forgot about it... for a day.

Tom wasn’t a close friend, rather he was one of the many casual acquaintances one has in a small town like Durango. We would run into each other at parties, on the bike trails, or on the river. Tom came across as one of those seemingly overly sincere men – yet one of those men who really are. He’d sold his dental practice and had been doing volunteer dental work around the world. He was 51.

I read some of the comments following the article in the Durango Herald about Tom’s death. Most posters were sad and supportive. A few railed against the Muslims (while some of the other posters shot back saying at them, saying to the effect: “let’s celebrate Tom and not condemn a whole religion”).

As much as I believe that Tom’s life was a good life and his death needless, I can’t help but feel even more angry at a culture (Islam) still stuck in the 13th century. A culture that still stones women to death for adultery. A culture that encourages suicide bombers to murder civilians. A culture that celebrates as a hero the release of the convicted Lockerbie terrorist. And on and on.

I certainly don’t know the answer, and I’m sure Tom and his fellow medical volunteers were doing their part to try and change... something... in that part of the world.

Wherever you are, Tom, I hope the rivers run swift and the trails are lined with wildflowers.

07 August 2010

Uncharitable Charities

The August 5, 2010 Wall St. Journal ran a front-page story about how charities are defending their names, logos, even colors against other charities that they deem to infringe on their branding or trademark. Examples, according to the WSJ:

The Susan G. Komen For the Cure has taken legal action against Kites for a Cure, Juggling for a Cure, Kayak for a Cure, and “dozens of others.” Not only does the Komen organization believe they own the “Cure,” they also believe their signature color pink should not be used by another organization.

Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG association has taken legal issue with HEADstrong – with it’s name, logo design, and color. And not just the color yellow of Livestrong – they objected to the gold color of Headstrong’s logo, deeming it “appears to be very close to the color yellow.”

The Wounded Warrior Project (Florida) objected to the domain name of Wounded Warriors Inc. (Nebraska), as it claimed people wanting to contribute to WWP mistakenly went to the WWI site. [Trying to access the website in question, woundedwarriors.org, currently brings up a “network error” message.]

The Sunshine Kids Foundation in Texas sent legal notice to Sunshine Kids Club of California, claiming that one SKF donor mistakenly wrote checks to SKCC. The California group even offered the Texas organization to “reference the Sunshine Kids Foundation on its website to dispel confusion.” The SKF said they would not allow their name to be used even for that purpose of clarification.

So I guess this is just another example of the lawyers having taken over America. Have the big charities themselves become non-profit versions of corporate America? Is it really about money, money, money, rather than fostering a culture that cares about other people? In the article, trademark attorney Andrew Price (apparently not associated with any of the organizations mentioned) is quoted as saying: “The days are probably over when nonprofits just said, ‘We’ll just get along with anybody who’s a nonprofit because we’re all trying to do good here.’”

For me, this only reinforces my aversion to “big” charities – although I imagine in some cases they do excellent work. We remain committed to Kiva, with its direct funding to needy individuals and its extremely low overhead.

Sorry Lance, Susan, and the rest of you. You’ll need to become a lot more charitable to attract my contributions.

21 July 2010

Photo July 21, 2010

Wind farm and wheat fields, Columbia River plateau, Oregon

05 June 2010

Photo - June 5, 2010

03 June 2010

Photo - June 3, 2010

Lilacs and a threatening eastern sky.

31 May 2010

Article/Blog Comments: The World’s Soapbox

Yesterday, May 30, 2010, I was reading a Yahoo News article/update about the BP oil spill in the gulf of Mexico. As I scrolled to the bottom of the piece, I saw the comments section begin with the words “comments 1-10 of 77,083.”

Seventy-seven thousand comments (since May 1) about the article.

I’ve mentioned in other writing that I very seldom read blog or article comments. And I decided some time ago to not have a comments section on any of my blogs. Far too many comments show a certain lack of, shall we say, knowledge (OK, I’ll be politically incorrect: they’re written by idiots); are “comment spam” (folks trying to get in a free web plug); are abusive; devolve into comments about other comments (and the folks who wrote those other comments); or are a soapbox for preaching one’s personal political/religious/philosophical/business agenda.

But 77,000?

Of course, the gulf spill is a major event, and people are heartbroken and mad and confused. Some of the outpouring of comments are a way for people without any other outlets to have their voices heard and to exorcise their personal fears and frustrations. And scanning a few of the comments (that’s all I could take), it seems that many really are wanting and needing to say something. Unfortunately, it’s seldom something substantive, or even something interesting – in the sense that someone else might be interested in reading it; that someone else would want to read those words.

Nonetheless, I especially enjoy reading ...
  • The armchair engineers who have the solution
  • The slams against politicians (Palin and Obama seem to be the favorites)
  • The spellings – my god, the misspellings and the utter lack of grammar
  • The “conspiracy thearies” that the spill was intentional to promote green energy, or it was terrorism, or that Halliburton is delaying cleanup so they can “harness the oil and then to retreeve it to sell on the open market
  • The comments in CAPITAL LETTERS
  • The 100-word-long comments with no punctuation or capitalization
  • 500-word diatribes about politics

And my favorite, today, when the comment count was up to 82,553...
82,500 comments? LMAO. This is sooooooooooo pointless! LOL...
As, of course, was that comment.

Is it that we’ve become so isolated looking at our laptop screens that we don’t have anyone real to talk with anymore? Have we become so wrapped up in our culture of “Hey Look at Me” that we take any opportunity to wave our own little flags? Is this our three seconds of fame?

I don’t really know, nor do I really understand it.
Eighty. Thousand. Comments.

25 May 2010

Color Series - Grey

Grey (or is it Gray?)
Beach, Olympic Peninsula, Washington

11 May 2010

The Banks Think I'm Immortal

Lucky me! I can either save $2.4 million, or live for 2,550 years!

We always pay off our credit cards each month. But some time ago (back before the “credit crisis”) we had a 1% cash-advance offer, good for the life of the balance. Sort of like nearly free money until we decided to pay it off. Even in this stupid, scary, weird financial market, I figured I could make more in interest or appreciation on that loan.

So now, with the new credit-disclosure laws, card companies have to include certain wording on their statements. We all know how humorous banks can be, but this is by far the funniest I’ve seen.

29 April 2010

April 29, 2010 Photo

07 April 2010

April 7, 2010 Photo

My skills with photo manipulation are abysmal, but I like this old image from Amsterdam.