This is Seattle’s harbor; I haven’t been to SF in years.

Morning Edition today had the story of how Rice-a-roni came about, a result fortuitous intersection of an improbable set of lives. The original recipe for vermicelli-rice came from Pailadzo Captanian, an Armenian genocide survivor who resettled in San Francisco.

I never would have guessed; I would have said it was developed in a commercial kitchen.

The link above includes the “Pilaff” recipe and has photos of the Captanian family’s recipe cards.

Ya gotta squint


The colors are slightly greyer and not quite as bright as here.

These are the tiles we picked out this afternoon for the bathroom. They’re one foot square—and considered an update from the smaller traditional approximate 4 inch ones we had. The darker one on the left will be on the floor. There’s been talk of putting them staggered so they aren’t all going the same direction (“parquetry” I think they call it, although that’s not the exact dictionary meaning). The lighter one on the right will be on the walls of the shower with the lines vertical. The shower floor will be the darker tile, but leetle ones.

This is the silver lining part of the tree falling on the house. Update! New colors (sorta)!

Snipe hunting


Electricians here today…. Sorry about the keystoning….

When I encountered the phrase “snipe hunt,” even though I was perhaps only a decade old, I knew what a snipe was, so I was confused when I was told that it referred to a wild goose chase. After all, a snipe is not a goose, and snipes are huntable (preferably with a camera). It doesn’t make any more sense that it could also be described as a fool’s errand.

Now, the DARE* says the Pennslyvania Dutch might send you searching for elbedritsches (scroll down). Hey, say that three times fast!

BTW, there’s a tenuous connection between the theme of the text and the picture; the electricians had a heck of a time figuring out the wiring for one outlet, and in the process checked above the ceiling, in the basement, outside, and in every room. Eventually: problem solved. I guess that’s about the same as at long last catching the snipe….

* Dictionary of Regional English.

Ultimate vs proximate causations


Today’s big excitement….

Every once in a while I come across a succinct comment that ties into something I’ve been thinking about, as happened this morning when I found a link to a transcript of a 2005 lecture by Patrick V. Kirch, and took a look at it. Writes Kirch:

Any compelling theory of change will need to attend to both ultimate and proximate causations, to long-term context and process, and to short-term dynamism and agency.*

Data and research questions are interlinked. Duh.

I’m interested in, most generally, the evolution of political economies or sociopolitical change and continuity. Kirch is right. To assess change, you have to look at data from a range of temporal scales, and thus causation over that same range. This means issues such as demography, subsistence including production and market/exchange, and ideology all are in play.

Over time, trends toward increasing population (even at the slow scale of multiple generations) mean that subsistence strategies (including the production of non-subsistence goods) must intensify. And that right there is what I keep coming back to. The evolution of political economy is tied to strategies for intensification, in the broadest sense. And intensification often involves centralization…and we’re off!

* From the published version of a 2005 lecture (pg. 37) at BYU by Patrick V. Kirch, an archaeologist at UC Berkeley who works in Hawai’i and across the Pacific.



What a stately ballcourt!

In 2003 we made a grand tour of the Yucatan, and this was the day (yes, 27 July) we visited Ek’Balam (various spellings). Fantastic site! Signs said the architecture dates to the Late—and Terminal—Classic (with a few Postclassic embellishments), although my archaeological resources indicate occupation began in the Middle Formative. I loved exploring this ruined civic-ceremonial precinct!

Rug handling


Old-world techniques for drying newly-washed rugs persist in central Georgia.


This stuff covers our floor in strategic places.

We got a quick rain shower right after we ducked into the groc store, so we made a run for the car upon exiting. What fun!

I finished the first editing run-through of the China diss* (not mine). Finally!

Ergo, the liquor cabinet beckons! 😉

* Among other things, this means I have a slightly less hazy idea of the Yangshao and the Longshan periods of the Neolithic, detailed in this cool table. I also learned that the Chinese language doesn’t have plurals. If I have it right….

Too quiet?


Today has been such a shock.

Yesterday this place was overrun with people. We had the regular framing and exterior guys (hammer, bang, thunk, rattle). For the first time, the plumbing crew joined us all, working from both downstairs and upstairs to reconstruct the plumbing for the master bath (partly in the ceiling of the dining room). They were mostly pretty quiet, except for when they knocked out and reinstalled pieces of framing; they also went up and downstairs frequently.*

Anyway, today we had a quick visit from the job-boss, and otherwise, no one. Apparently there’s a slim possibility that a city inspector will come by to check the plumbing, but everyone seems to think there’s a better chance the inspector will show on the next business day. After all, today’s Friday.

Ooops. Update. While I was massaging the photo, the bossman came back with the electrician for one of those here-here-and-here point-and-explain walk-throughs. Been and gone.

JCB’s even off to a lunch date, so it’s just me and the AC.

As to the photo, that’s our shower-to-be, with water standing in it for the inspection. There’s also water standing in the tub, but not visible from this view. I’m told all this is for the inspector. I am hoping mosquitos don’t find the puddles before they’re drained!

* Along with the reconstruction, there are oddities of code the plumbing has to address. One is some kind of a thingy that will make sure that the water going into a tub will never get hot enough to scald someone. I don’t think this applies to the sink or shower faucets, but I may not have been following that closely.

Two themes


Okay, two pictures and two themes today. Above is the corner of the dining room that the tree trunk was sitting over. Being exposed to the summer heat and humidity has made it degrade a bit since the tree departed. And I don’t know what else. That’s the original plaster from when the house was built about 1921.


On a brighter note, here are some of our neighbors’ drought resistant blooms, still glorious in spite of the heat we’ve been enduring lately. I checked ’em out when I was over there “borrowing” some basil, which is right next to this bed….

Memory lane


I took this lichen-covered shake roof photo four years ago yesterday, up on Blood Mountain. Yes, on the AT.

Today, however, I was trapped indoors…. Ah, well.