Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunset from Gates Pass. "Bloom."

Tonight, before dinner, we drove across to the western edge of the city to watch the sunset:

Wherever you live, find what's good about it and enjoy it.

"Bloom where you're planted." Those words--corny enough, I agree--ring through our ears now and again as we come to terms with Tucson-as-our-'home.' I had never seen that expression until our first trip to Central America--we came across those words, (cross-stitched, no less), in a missionary home--must have been a well-intentioned gift from someone 'back home' to encourage voluntary souls in their tropical assignment...
As corny as my first impression was of those words, over the past few years, we've come grudgingly to accept it as good advice.

Last night, as we made dinner, we had the television on, and two travel-shows featured, back to back, Seattle and Guatemala...We grew wistful for the Pacific Northwest and Central America as we waited for our food to cook...

But there is no utopia.
So--resolved: enjoy the good things where we are.

Tucson: pedestrian urbanity? Nope. Progressive local politics? Nope. Thriving high-wage economy? So no, at least not right now. (And don't get me started on the now-nationally-ridiculed lack of syntax during a recent state gubernatorial debate!) But clean air and wide open outdoor vistas? Yep. Technicolor sunsets? Oh yeah.

So. Blooming.

(Incidentally, last night's dinner--my local attempt at re-creating the Kogi-truck fare described in the last posting: we did a vegetarian version this time--a pepper-jack/kimchee/pineapple/sesame quesadilla with black beans on the side--made with local Tucson tortillas and kimchee from the Korean grocer down the street from where I work: Viva la comida del Seoul!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

this past weekend: across the desert to KOGI!

...just got back from another weekend jaunt to the L.A. area; due to funny timing this year,
we had two conferences to attend, just a few weeks apart...So, last Friday afternoon we took an after-work flight to LAX, got in a rental car, and on the way to our destination, we made a culinary pit-stop:

Yes--FINALLY: KOGI! The now-legendary Korean-Mexican taco-truck! (Actually, there are now four of the trucks; check out their website, and you'll see that the trucks move all over the L.A. location throughout the week for lunch, dinner, and late-night locations:

It has started a nationwide trend; check out this New York Times article from a couple of months ago:
"The Tortilla Takes a Road-trip to Korea"... Atlanta. Chicago, Brooklyn. Portland...Viva cultural fusion-food!

So, we looked up the location and dutifully followed the GPS directions through Los Angeles...and ended up in a light industrial office park in suburbia. At first I thought--huh? Are we lost? Was there a misprint on the website? Nope. The Friday-night location was in this warehouse area because of the plentiful parking--and we turned a corner and there was a long eclectic line of people...We waited forty minutes, chatting with a family behind us, who'd just come from soccer practice with the kids...And S. and I. had spicy pork tacos, kalbi (Korean-marinated beef short-rib) tacos, AND a glorious kimchee-pineapple-pork quesadilla topped with sesame seeds, a ponzu glaze and even toasted seaweed flakes! Wow, eh?

The pseudo-pilgrimmage for this food was not the main point for our weekend trip...but definitely a fun extra.

A few out-the-window views from the Friday-afternoon flight--yes, gratuitous shots from my iPhone:

looking NE over Tucson and the Santa Catalina Mountains,
with some of the irrigated fields of the San Xavier del Bac Indian Reservation in the foreground:

closer in--you can just make out the tiny cluster of 'high'-rises of downtown Tucson
in the left middle-ground...where we live is just off to the right of this photo:

the ribbon of blue is the Colorado River, just south of Lake Havasu on the AZ-CA border;
whenever I've flown over the SW, I'm always struck by the suddenness of irrigated farms in the middle of barren sands...
Back to Tucson.
Back to work.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I did it! I finished the annual Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-miler! And the adrenalin-rush provided by the thousand fellow runners helped fuel things--I finished five minutes faster than I've ever run it before...
So--a new 'personal best' for me...Just a few years ago, I'd never have imagined that I would willingly wake up at 4:30 a.m. on a day-off from work to go run up and down hills in the desert--for FUN!? ('Personal best' and 'race-day' just weren't in my vocabulary.) Such is life in Tucson...A friend of mine, who carpooled with us (yes, my wife even got up that early to be our 'cheering fan section' at the finish line), did VERY well--placed 11th overall and 2nd in his age division...Hats off to him! There were people in their 70's and 80's, even, on the loop! Inspiring! (...and, no, they did not pass me...)

Afterwards--met up with some friends for lunch at an Italian restaurant. Once a year--no more, no less--I permit myself to indulge in the miraculous alchemy of fat and carbs known as Spaghetti alla Carbonara. Afterwards, a nice long nap.

That's how to spend Labor Day...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

why the difference in worldview?

from a column in this morning's New York Times,
(Religious Outlier, by Charles M. Blow),
this insightful graph:

(difficult to see here--click on the link to the article above for the larger version)

Religious view might not be everything, but it certainly can't be ignored when trying ot understand societies and individuals--and this graph makes it easy to see why the U.S. and other Western nations differ so often in their worldview...

It would be interesting to do such a graph for areas within the U.S.
Having spent my high-school and undergrad years in 'The Bible Belt' of the U.S. Southeast,
and then having lived for years in decidedly secular Seattle--with a year in non-religious France and also a year in super-religious Central America thrown in--this subject intrigues me.

And now here in Tucson--hmm--a graph of the city itself would be fascinating...
Catholic vs. Evangelical vs. Jewish vs. Protestant vs. Darwin-fish-sticker-displayers vs. Foothills vs. University area vs. Southside vs. near the Air Force Base vs. Anglophones vs. Hispanophones...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday afternoon chubasco: forty degree drop in four miles

First of all, a definition of chubasco:
Chubasco in standard Spanish means any rain shower associated with heavy wind or, in nautical usage, a dark cloud which suddenly appears in the horizon, potentially foretelling rough sailing conditions (Diccionario de la Lengua EspaƱola, Real Academia EspaƱola).

More commonly here in southern AZ, the expression 'monsoon storm' is used...
This afternoon, as I drove home from work, I drove into one.

When I got into my car, the thermometer read 108 degrees--hot on the asphalt in the parking lot...
A mere four miles to the east, a few minutes later, while my windshield wipers were frantically at work, the temperature had dropped to 67 degrees! Amazing.

Just a couple of miles more, and then I drove out of the squall and rolled my windows down--wow, COOL air on a Friday afternoon in Tucson...

I was on my way to Saguaro National Park East--time to renew my annual pass--and just in time before next Monday's Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8-miler.
I drove the loop before heading home and took a few photos with my phone-camera:

--javelinas at the visitor's center:

...a few late summer wildflowers among the saguaros...

--looking west from the the higher hills on the loop road, across the Tucson basin under a rainy sky:
(click for a larger view)

...barrel cactus in bloom:

...back at the visitor's center--gives you an idea of the terrain of the Park and the Rincon Mountains,
with the arrow pointing out the 8-mile loop...
...looking forward to Monday's run--supposed to be the largest number of registered runners ever for this event...