This was a weekend I felt kinda wasted. I won't get into the details, but I realized it's ultimately up to me, not others, to make my days off profitable.
The issue with my catering business at this point is scheduling, or more precisely, the inability to have the 3 of us have our days off match. Then add into the equation the fact that people probably want to have their parties on say, a friday or saturday night, and that can't be realistic for 3 guys in the restaurant business.
So, what do we do? Unfortunately, we cannot just quit our jobs, and make a living doing this, yet.
In my discussions with Dustin today at work, he started making a milkshake. (remember the phrase: it started with a milkshake) This particular one was made with Olympic Mountain "Totally Nuts About Bananas." I'll let you figure out what flavor it is....anyways, I remarked how unexceptional the flavor was, and how it's just lazy not to toast the nuts in the ice cream. Then I noted that really, this company is the only game in town, and perhaps Puget Sound when it comes to "high end" product for restaurants. And it's not good, generally. Their flavor list is impressive, but still, it's no Kapito Coast ice cream-or even close. Hell, Ben and Jerry's is better.
Perhaps this is a good idea, and it'd be lucrative. We can make ice cream in our free time, and put it in the freezer until needed. This is something to think about further....

Also, it seems I've found a place to live in the Ravenna neighborhood. I'll let all y'all know when it's final.


Menos el Oso y El Salvador

Last night I went to see the band Minus the Bear play. This is a band that Morgan's bro-in-law turned me on to in NZ. In fact, it was he who alerted me to their playing last night at the Vera Project, Seattle's only (I think) all-ages music venue. It had been a long time since I've been to a place that small, actually maybe never. I do have to point out that I'm glad I'm not a teenager anymore- you're embarressed about everything, including dancing in front of others. I made a large space with my insane dance moves, since no one else wanted to touch me....they rocked out though.

I got an email from my dad. For those of you who don't know, he's been travelling since the beginning of the year in Central America, mostly for pleasure, but has started volunteering with this community in El Salvador. I want to publish that email here, since it's a story worth knowing.

"Hello everyone. Time for another travel update. This one starts off with a bit of political education so hope you are up for it. I have been living for the past 3 weeks in a tiny farming community called Ciudad Romero in El Salvador. The city was named after the former archbishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated in 1980 (I think) in the capital city while he was giving mass. Monsignor Romero had gotten the ruling families of El Salvador ticked off because he was advocating for the rights of the peasant farmers to such outrageous things (heavy sarcasm here) as food and water and health care and a piece of land. All the land was owned by a handful of powerful families and they weren't in the sharing mood. His murder sparked a civil war that lasted about 11 years. The people in the community where I live were living in a rural community near the border with Honduras at the time of Occar Romero's murder. The peasant farmers loved Oscar Romero and he became a martyr to them after his death. A rebel force called the FMLN took up arms and started a revolution against the government. The kind of revolution where one side has sticks and rocks and 22 caliber rifles and the other side has tanks and bazookas and semi-automatic machine guns (most of which were provided of course by the US government). Not exactly a fair fight. The FMLN did have numbers on its side and a pretty tenacious spirit. But I digress.

The people in the community weren't really fighters. They were just families caught in the cross fire. About 500 of them fled their community and crossed the border into Honduras. But Honduras didn't really want any refugees as it was really poor itself and surrounded the refugees and wouldn't let them go any further. One of the people who related the story to me said at one point all they had to eat was mangoes for 3 days. The women couldn't produce milk to feed their babies. It was a rough scene. The international community took notice and sent some aid and the president of Panama agreed to take the refugees into his country. But the negotiations took months to work out so the people slept on the floors in community shelters and churches. Kind of like Hurricane Katrina only longer and even poorer conditions. Finally they got transportation to an area near the town of Colon. They lived in the middle of the jungle in palm thatched huts along a river. They had no cars. Their means of transportation was boats on the river. They hacked a town out of the jungle and lived on fruit and fish and whatever else they could grow. They stayed there for 11 years. Finally the war ended in El Salvador. As part of the peace settlement some land was set aside for peasant families to settle and farm and gain title to as owner. Not the nice land of course but at least land. So they were transported by boat along the Atlantic coast (Colon is on the Caribbean side of Panama) and deposited in Honduras. From there the whole group of them walked by foot for four days over the mountains and into El Salvador and down the Lempa River to where they thought they were going to be allowed to resettle. Well the government still had some reservations with the deal so the community was stopped along the road by tanks and had to wait there for three or four more days before they were allowed to pass. But finally, after about a 12 year exodus they resettled in El Salvador in this area near the Pacific coast in a valley along the Lempa River. They created Ciudad Romero and have lived here ever since.

By our standards in the US, the community is dirt poor. They live in cinder block houses. They do have electricity and most houses have a TV and stereo. Three years ago they got potable water that is relatively clean and safe. They don't have toilets, just outhouses. They cook over wood fires though some homes also have gas cook tops. The streets are dirt. Everyone has chickens. Some people also have pigs, cows, and/or horses. The men carry machetes and go to work most days in the fields or on projects around town. The women of course pretty much keep the whole thing going. They do the cooking, wash the clothes, buy the food, clean the house, mend the clothes, etc. Only a few people have cars. They get up about 5 every morning and work all day in this incredible heat (95 to 100 degrees) without airconditioning or fans. Any activity between about 8 and 5 in the afternoon makes you sweat. The nights are a bit cooler and everyone hangs out on the por ch in their hamacas. The kids play stick ball or whatever else in the streets. There isn't much in the way of activities so people do a lot of talking. They chatter away about anything and everything. Everyone knows everything about all the folks in town. I don't understand all of it as my Spanish is still not up to stuff. But I think you get an idea of the scene. People are asleep by 9 or 10 at night.

The thing that is hard for me to get my mind around is that the way they are living now is the best they have ever had it. I have only been here 3 weeks now and have to take trips to the mountains on the weekends to cool off and escape for a bit. The heat is really difficult to get used to. I am lucky because I have the resources to have these options. It is a hard life they have, to say the least. But because of their history, they are really strongly bonded as a community. The story of their exodus gets told a lot. They have a mural in the church that captures it and they tell the story to any of the volunteers who come to live here. They are extremely proud and incredibly well organized as a grass-roots organization.

On the work side of things, it has taken me a while to figure out what I can do to help. I started out with the idea that I would be helping them build a web site for the organization here. I approached it like any project in the states -- we identified what content they wanted, figured out an organizational structure, came up with a design. I created a simplified version of a design document showing what we were planning to build and presented it to an executive body. If we could get the okay to proceed, I was going to start building the pages. We hit a snag though. It turns out they already have a rudimentary site and thought we could simply modify that site with our proposed content and design and go down that road. But I looked at that site and it is based on a whole different design model where the site design is pretty much fixed and they don't have to know anything about html code or anything but just use an "admin" feature that allows them to update messages on the home page or add links to documents or photos they want to add on some other pages. So anyway, doesn't look like I'll be building the site as we talked about. So I have been talking with them about other options for things I could help do and we came up with a plan that I would create a basic user manual to provide as a handout to people in classes. Real basic stuff like -- the parts of a computer, how to turn it on and off and use a mouse, how to open Word and write a letter, how to go to the Internet and do a search on google, how to create an email account and send an email. The folks here are pretty much computer novices so we have to start real basic. The other issue for me has been their equipment is old donated computers from the states that must be 10 to 15 years old. I don't really have access to the tools I need to create the website or create this user manual here. So I am relocating to San Salvador to be able to have access to computers and tools I will need for this work.

So that is where I head next week to start working on this user manual. I will be incredibly relieved to get out of the heat and up into the mountains. But I will miss the people in the community of Ciudad Romero as they have been incredibly warm and open and kind. A fellow here has done some interviews of people telling their stories about their exodus and has written it down into a lenghty, rambling document. If time allows and my understanding of Spanish permits, I hope to also try to take this document and apply my editing touches to see if I can capture the story of this community. That is a bigger undertaking than I can complete in the last few weeks of my travel, but maybe it will happen later. It really an incredible story and one worth capturing.

I have started to write some stories of my own about my journey so far and have been in contact with the editor of an online travel magazine who has published one already and wants me to send more. Here is a link to the site with the first of these articles if you want to read it. (http://www.offshorewave.com/offshorenews/not-your-regular-9-to-5-in-antigua-guatemala-by-brad-andrews.html) You can check back to this site again later to read other stories as I get them written.

Hope all is well with everyone. I miss my friends and family back home. This has been a long journey. I am looking forward to being home again and am wondering what culture shock I will go through upon returning. Probably having to face the political environment back home will be one of the first challenges. Anyway, take care and let me hear from you if you are so inclined. "

That's all.




I had my 1st of the season asparagus. Grilled with lemon juice and white truffle oil, i.e. the way it was meant to be. I love it.
My bigger point is this: make sure you get out there, to a farm or local market and start eating the good stuff. What's being pulled out of the earth on that day (or the day before). It's yummier and supports a better big picture than the big markets that give you poor selection.
Support good local ingredients.


Roller Derby Chicks Are Hardcore.

Last night I went to see the fury of the Rat City Rollergirls. The roller derby is a time-honored American "D" sport* that pits girls on roller skates against each other in elbow-throwing-filled-flat-track-mayhem. There was a team from San Fransisco that came up to Seattle, and shockingly pulled off an upset in front of a drunk and rawkus Seattle crowd.
The best fight involved the 2 girls being seperated, and still kicking their skates at each other.


And then, it was time to go to West Seattle for a house party. It's waaaaay over thar. Why does anyone kid themselves about West Seattle being close to Seattle. I think it's the bridge mentality- if you have to cross a bridge, it's just too far. It was a good one, and I may have done the haka, this time respectfully. Or more so than I did in the past without the knowledge I have now.
It really impresses the girls....

* A "D" sport was a term coined by me to describe dodgeball. If baseball, basketball and American football are "A" sports in this country, and say, golf and soccer are "B" spots, and then "C" sports are all the Olympic events. "D's" are all the ones you played as a kid, like kickball, or possibly extreme croquet.



Today at work we listened to NPR's coverage of the Al Gonzales "talks." Although oft-dry, it was highlighted by grumbling senator's comments of outrage aimed at (one more) Bushie-on-the-ropes.
When asked repeatedly about really anything, SEVENTY ONE TIMES HE SAID HE COULDN'T REMEMBER AND/OR RECALL.

pause. think.


If YOU had gotten into trouble, for ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, and FORGOT EVERYTHING (conveniently) seventy-one times, would you still have your job/partner/anything else?


For someone to even think they can get away with this.....

...... GONZO (that's what I call him) HAS THE BIGGEST FUCKING BALLS EVER.
They must be the size of Texas. Or quite possibly Texas plus the panhandle of Oklahoma.


Sloppy Joes vs Mac n Chee

My weekend has been randomly filled thus far.
Went out after work on Friday, because my mind justified it. I hadn't been out for 2 weeks, and after working 10 days straight, it seemed right.

But Capitol Hill?

The place is soooooo packed, there's NO parking. At all. Anywhere. Within 10 blocks of where you want to be. And the club, even though it had pretty good potential, it sucked- the music didn't match the "Havana" moniker/motif. Perhaps happy hour on Thursday is better. And then I went to sleep.

I then made weenie-mac on Sat night. For the 1st time, on request. Angie/Jackie: you are gross to love it. Velveeta: Thou should be ashamed. And, when did you get put in the refridge section, when my whole life you've been on the regular shelf, next to the other pasteurized cheese products? Mac 'n chee will never be the same for me.

I got sunburned to day at the M's game, which we won, by many runs. They looked good. I then made sloppy joes. An Americana tour de force weekend. And then I watched...er....I mean wasted 20 minutes of my life watching this.

But Stephen Colbert's green screen challenge turned up some great stuff.


I now present WING!

Discover New Zealand's very own WING!

As seen on South Park!

Back in Black is amazing, nay, legendary.


The Calendar Business

Today I heard one of the best quotes ever, and it was being related to me, second hand from my friend Dustin.
He was telling me that when he was in Belize, he met a guy from the Okanagan -but the Canadian part. I never knew there was a Canadian part, as I always knew it to be a county in Washington State.
ANYWAYS, he replied to the question of "what you doing down here?" with "well I woke up one day and got a dear john, and I figured I should go someplace. Plus I work in a calendar factory, and it's slow time of the year for the calendar business."

I really like that idea, that that particular field of industry is quiet, until say September, then all hell breaks loose, and they print off a gazillion craptastic calendars of things like Tractors, Chickens and Donkeys.

In other news, I received a scare in my email the other day when I received an email from Beth Davie, who is on the SWAT team for NZ Police. All I saw was NZ Police, and thought something was wrong. She mostly bragged about how her new car is the best ever. I suspect only because it was formerly owned by me.
I also told her that if she had been crafty and/or mean, she could have gotten me good. All she would have needed to do was have a work mate send me an email saying that I have 4 outstanding speed camera violations that had to be paid. I would have believed her.

After all, I did come back from Napier in under 3 hours (Anne Davie stop reading) AND hit 185kph.

My last words would have been, "it was worth it." (Use Renegade voice.)



Wait for it....wait for it.....NOW!

Anne davie, you should be ashamed of yourself for being addicted to Fox News.


Call Me Renegade

I've decided that this is my new work nickname.


Cause it kicks the MOST ASS POSSIBLE!!!!!

Think about it. It is a name that means "an outlaw or rebel." That's OBVIOUSLY me. And you get to say it with a raspy-I've-smoked-2-packs-a-day-and-drank-a-bottle-of-fighting-cock-bourbon-AND-I-just-woke-up voice.

"Renegade." He looks up; the knife in his hand stops filleting the piscine flesh. "I've been looking for you....." He trails off when the outlaw glares him down and says, "well, I've been waiting."

See? It's f'ing awesome. It's somewhat "ala Caruso" (similar to ala mode, but not as tasty!)

And I get to wear a leather jacket...wait for it....with the tassles on the sleeves. Choice.

Now, replace the name Chuck Norris with "Renegade" and you have "Renegade Facts."

True (bliss).

Also, less rebellious is a reminder to all that Chicago Public Radio's show This American Life kicks ass, and should be listened to. Available here! I will bounty hunt you down if you don't check out this week's show, about your dream job (not quite available at the moment of posting this-I just listened to it at work).


More Baseball Stuff

Since it was opening night last night for the Mariners (who won, I'll post the box later) and Trever Santora sent me a great thing in my email, I have decided that this post will be dedicated to baseball.
1st off: Baseball Facial Hair Hall of Fame. Some of these guys were really good, and 6 are in the hall of fame, but their facial hair is natty as.

Rollie Fingers
2. Take me out to the ballgame is a great song. Morgue/half of Wellington know this!
Here's the version from Damn Yankees:

3. The Box Score. Not the same as "Dick in the Box." One can tell what happened in the game if they know how to read it, just like cricket. We won, and we're in 1st place. Now we only have to win 161 more games!


Happy Birthday Morgan

It's his birthday today. Say it verbally to him where ever you are, whover you are, whether or not you know him. It's the proper and decnt thing to do!
Or, you can make and consume a pavlova in his name.

All hail Great Morgue Pavlova!
All hail Your being cloudlike!
All hail Your deliciousness!

And so sayeth the Alligator from the book of Moose.

What was that?
Also, I want to thank The Tallest Ninja (patent pending) for buying the holy Moose-ness a drink in my name. I owe you one TTN, and will get ya one back when you sneak attack me from the sky.

Accompanying me on that dessert journey was my favorite-tist pasta dish, Spaghetti al Amatriciana. A Roman dish of tasty intentions, it's loose recipe is this:

Spaghetti noodles for your appetite.
Onions and bacon fryed up with slight color. Add garlic, and don't burn, for Escoffier's sake.
Deglaze with red wine, add thyme. Add tomatoes, and some beef stock or bouillion. Cook until things have made a tomato love in the pot, say 30 minutes. Add lots of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, and mix with the noodles. It should not be soupy. Top with Pecorino Romano cheese, more parsley, and chopped hard boiled egg. Drink with wine and bee happy.


And thanks to Anne Davie for the insight into how young and free I am. I know and love it.