Friday, November 24, 2006


Sandra and I had an absolutely fantastic Thanksgiving dinner here last night.

Our guests were Pam visiting from England, Super Cuz Sharon and Partner Keith, and my Dear Old 95-year-old Mum.

The food and wine were superb. Energy was high. Spirits were sparkling. Couldn’t have been better.

We talked about the distinction between Gratitude, giving Thanks, and Appreciation. Are they the same? If not, how are they different? Suffice to say, much is in the eye of the beholder. Irrespective of our individual definitions, it was obvious to all that each has its place and each is important. And also obvious that all too often we forget to notice that for which we should be grateful, that for which we should give thanks and that which we should appreciate.

Conclusion: Be present to life and all it offers. Be aware. Reside not in thy stupor of unconsciousness which blinds us to the joy and satisfaction available at every moment.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Kani-Sake Night

For three and a half years I worked one week a month in Fukuoka, the main city of the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. During that time I fell in love with sumo and sake.

Through the magic of satellite TV I’ve been able to satisfy my craving for sumo. Every day during the 15 days of the bi-monthly sumo tournaments the key bouts are broadcast in English. No problem there.

With sake it’s been a different story. Drinking very high quality sake in Japan spoiled me. So when I went searching for really good sake here in San Francisco and wasn’t able to find it I was frustrated. I contacted people in Japan to see if I could have it sent. That didn’t work. I contacted US importers. That didn’t work either. I was able to buy mid-level quality sake at a market in Japan Town, but like I say, I was spoiled, so I was always left wanting something better.

Then, about two or three years ago, I read that a guy named Beau Timken was going to open an all-sake store, True Sake, not far from my home. Not surprisingly I was one of his first customers. The store itself is very well done. Beautifully designed and displayed. More importantly, Beau carries a wonderful range of great sakes. Sake heaven has descended on San Francisco. And I am a happy drinker.

Last night Beau took over the Toraya restaurant and hosted Kani-Sake Night for about a dozen sake and food lovers. Kani means crab in Japanese. It was a fabulous event and demonstrated how far life has come since my sake-starved days.

When we arrived we were given a Welcome Sake to get us started. When we sat down we were treated to a seven-course dinner. Each course was a different crab dish. Each unique and each delicious. Accompanying each dish was a sake chosen by Beau to complement and enhance the food. Also, each unique and delicious.

The sake came from seven different parts of Japan. Their taste ranged from sweet to dry and they represented a wide variety of brewing and rice milling styles. Most were served cold, the way I like to drink good sake. We had crab and seaweed, crab dumplings, crab guts (not Sandra’s favorite,) crab croquettes, and more.

Wow! What a treat. But I may have had a little too much of a good thing. I really didn’t feel like getting out of bed this morning.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Election

Here are my thoughts:

1. It is possible to take heart from the election. Not because of the partisan result but because the people expressed their dissatisfaction in the way provided for them to do so.

2. It was more difficult to do than in a presidential election year because of the local and state focus. Yet the feeling was strong enough for the message to come through loud and clear.

3. The electorate moved more to the center, which is a good thing. The Rove theory that if you take care of your base the rest will follow didn't come true this time on either side. Independents and moderates made the difference, not partisans at either end of the spectrum.

4. It's possible the result will yield gridlock. But not necessarily. I like putting a check in place to restore checks and balances. It's possible that both sides will see the importance to their and the country's future to put their best foot forward during the next two years. I don't think the odds are in favor of this happening, but it's possible.

5. Nancy Pelosi won't be foolish enough to behave in a way that validates those who demonize her. She can see that the Democratic Party is more centrist than her personal preferences. For her to succeed she'll need to represent the center and be a compromiser with others in Congress and the White House. Hillary is probably a good model for her. Work hard, be reasonable, gain the respect and trust of those who aren't on her side to begin with. She'll need to be an advocate for causes her party cares about (some of which I agree with, some of which I don't) but she's smart enough to do it in a way that doesn't cause long-term alienation.

6. The best case scenario would be for the President and Congress to behave in a post-1994 way. Clinton and Gingrich needed to coexist and govern responsibly. They didn't do it perfectly, but they did it.

That's my non-cynical response for today. I'll resume my curmudgeon-like ways soon.