52! I made it this year! I read 52 books in 52 weeks - less, even, since there are still five weeks left in the year. (Last year I fell short of the goal, with 44 books.)
My fifty-second book of the year was a murder mystery by Ruth Rendell, "An Unkindness of Ravens" from her series with Inspector Wexford. I'm not familiar with the series, although I may have read one or two previously. This one was pretty solid, and I liked the characters, and I did like how the puzzle pieces all fell into place - but you know how sometimes you just don't believe that particular individual would have committed a killing? Too young and innocent, too old and feeble, not heartless enough to have been so cool under questioning, or too much of a sociopath to pull off looking like a real human? Yeah, it was like that for me. I didn't really buy it. Still, I'm not dissing it - it was well-constructed, and well-written. Always good to be in the hands of a pro.
Scientists have just mapped the Pinot Noir grape genome and found that it has 30,000 genes, about 8,000 more than humans. So it is official, Pinot Noir is genetically more advanced than humans. And so you don't feel too bad, humans have about as many genes as sea anemones (22,000).
So THAT's why I feel so refined and smartened when I drink a nice Pinot!
I am making sweet potato fries, half-following Kalyn's spicy sweet potatoes fries recipe, and my kitchen smells heavenly. I didn't have ground fennel, so I improvised on the spice mix, mixing equal parts of coriander, cumin, oregano, black pepper, and salt. Should go well with the pork loin - I put cumin and coriander on that too. Oh yeah, and what better time to use that glass of apricot and coriander tagine?
I'll let you know how it turns out, but I won't promise that I'll save you any of it.
What could be better than sharing a scrumptious meal with good friends? And if it's outdoors in November ... it sure is tough, living in California!
Kimberly from Music and Cats took up the 100 mile Thanksgiving challenge, and lists her Thanksgiving menu and all the sources for the foods. I don't know for sure where all the foods for my dinner came from, but I bet a lot of them were local. The spinach was probably grown in Salinas, about 50 miles south of here. It sure is good living in foodie heaven.
And of course it doesn't get much closer than the apples for the pie I made - right from my backyard (that sun-kissed stucco wall and roofline of red bricks in the background of the photo is where I live).
Looking for Monterey Canyon maps a few weeks ago to get some background on my NaNoWriMo retelling of The Little Mermaid, I came across this fascinating news: Project will cable up ocean floor.
Electricians prefer to keep power cords dry as a rule. But in Monterey, California, scientists and engineers are hopeful that immersing electrical cable off the coast will profoundly improve how the oceans are studied.
This week [note: this was published in March 2007], a team from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) will lay 52km (32 miles) of electrical cable from a research station on shore to a shelf 900m (3,000ft) below the sea's surface.
The thick cable will send power to, and return data from, a variety of research instruments - to be added later this year - that will sit on Smooth Ridge, a plateau at the edge of Monterey Canyon, the largest and deepest submarine canyon off the continental West Coast.
And look, isn't this MBARI map fantastic? I don't dive (heck, I don't even swim well), but the Monterey Canyon fascinates me to no end.
Almost done with my target quota for the year, and there's still six weeks to go in the year ... the job makes a huge difference, I gotta say. I don't take work home with me, I am not nearly as stressed as I was at the fruit company, and my brain has lots more room for reading. Good times. Good times.
Here are three more books I finished this month: Graham Greene's "Heart of the Matter", only loosely related to Don Henley's song or Barry Eisler's blog in that they're all trying to get to it. "The Heart of the Matter" is one of several Greene tales of people struggling with their faith, and Greene is such a fine writer that he makes me feel glad I am not Catholic, and sorry that I have no faith, all at the same time in the same brain.
Next up was F. Paul Wilson's "Tomb", first in his "Repairman Jack" series. Jack is no ordinary repairman, mind you. He lives somewhat off the grid in New York, and he fixes not your VCR or washing machine, but ... let's say problems with unsavory people when the police is no help. I'd expected a straight-up gumshoe thriller, and was quite surprised when the ghoulish supernatural creatures showed up in the plot, but it worked quite nicely for me. I read the first-published version of this novel; Wilson edited and re-published it under the name "Rakoshi". I found this out on Wilson's "Repairman Jack" web site, and I also found out that it's not only first in the Repairman Jack series, but also second in the Adversary Cycle.
And I've already mentioned a fine science fiction novel from 35 years ago, John Brunner's "The Sheep Look Up". I brought it with me to the NaNoWriMo retreat, and Lisa joked, "A Sheep Look-up! How convenient - anything you want to know about sheep, you can look it up here!" Brunner is one of my favorite sci-fi writers, and I am always dismayed to see how unknown he is in these parts. I like how he weaves stories together - he writes little snippets, sometimes just a paragraph long, completely unconnected at first, but eventually they all come together. (If you've seen the movies "Crash" or "Short Cuts", you're familiar with this narrative structure.) Brunner writes a future quite close to the present, which is another thing I like in science fiction. Sometimes the outcome is positive and hopeful, like in "The Stone That Never Came Down", sometimes it all ends rather badly. I won't tell you the outcome of The Sheep Look Up, but I *will* tell you that the recent Lick Fire was the reason I bought another copy and read this great novel again.
I know, I know, I've been remiss in my bacon blogging. And yesterday's fantastic Thanksgiving meal did not include a single shred of bacon. But I did just chop and cook a pound of bacon, and like I usually do, I drained the bacon fat into a container (usually a small yogurt container), set it on top of the fridge to cool and be refrigerated later. I use a little bit of lard to cook eggs, scrambled and over-easy, but I have mostly non-stick cookware, so I don't need to use a lot of fat, and when my lard container is full, I just throw it away. This is beginning to strike me as a bad thing. What a waste of perfectly good fat! My mother used to buy lard and cook with it, so why don't I do that? I could use it instead of butter, apparently it makes for tender baked goods in a pie crust.
So I just googled "cook with lard" and found all kinds of good hits. I'll save them here, to look at later, and I think I'll make my next apple pie with lard instead of butter.
Don't worry, I won't spring it on any unsuspecting friends of mine. I know too many people who are vegetarians. Disclosure is a good thing.