Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cruise Control is not Tom's Speed

Usually when someone gets riled about something or other, you can bet your boots, the something has something to do with him/herself.
I watched a snippet of NBC's "Today" show, where Tom Cruise offered a piece of his mind about psychiatry and medication.

Boyish, his hair a mess, buff, showing off his muscle tone, taking up as much space as a man possibly can (legs wide spread), he made his point, "Chemical imbalance doesn't exist!"

showing off
muscle tone
legs spread

My point, we don't pay the man to tell us how it is.
Least of all what's up with medicine or psychiatry.
If he wants to talk about himself, how he fights his demons, fine.
Everybody their own medicine.

Which doesn't mean that I don't believe "the news" that pharmaceutical companies and doctors are out to make us sick.

Once upon a time I had a doctor who did just that.
He told me that with my high cholesterol I could die 10 years sooner than necessary.
From the moment I heard him say that, I thought I was dying already (I forgot that we start the decent after 35 anyway).
He prescribed Lipitor® knowing I was still trying to get pregnant, while offering me infertility treatment (another surprise).
I did some research of my own and found out this is Not recommended. Pharmaceutical companies don't know yet what the cholesterol lowering medication does to a fetus.

After giving me a pelvic exam —he had already tossed out the speculum— he realized he had forgotten to take a sample and he fished the thing out of the trash!
Mixing up my file with that of the patient in the next cubicle, he told me at that same sitting that I was Diabetic. Something I knew wasn't true. At home I had the results of my bloodwork. I called him to tell him. He hung up on me.

Needless to say I left his practice.
I'm very happy with my present internist, who told me "You're not sick, you're healthy, you only have high cholesterol."

Anyway, to get back to Cruise, I would like to suggest to him, "Man, get your act together, get in the right gear, Cruise control is not your speed!"

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Even if you're not proficient in German, you may get a kick out of Der Digitale Lumpensamler after all, a picture speaks how many languages? This Bavarian Trash Collector makes me crack up!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Coffee Monopoly II

My friend, coffee connoisseur and word smith Joost Elffers points out that "koffie verkeerd" has no negative connotation in the Netherlands. And he's correct, how could it be in the land of "boter, melk en eieren" (butter, milk and eggs).

Still, I prefer the mouth puckering effect of pure coffee. And growing up in the Netherlands I had enough milk to last me a life time. At least that's what I hope, for osteosporosis runs in the family, and drinking coffee breaks down the calcium in yer bones. In that respect adding extra milk to coffee is a good idea.

"Verkeerd" in "koffie verkeerd" means that there's more milk than coffee.
More than usual, that is. And what is usual? Somewhere along the line, someone in the Netherlands must have decided that the proper way to have coffee is with a small cloud of cream or milk. And when someone else decided to use an inverse ratio, it was called "verkeerd", or turned around. Which in a way says something about the Dutch, doesn't it? There's one right way, and then there's another right way, which we'll call the other way, which after a while becomes the wrong way.
"Omgekeerd" (turned around) became "verkeerd". And which ever way you explain that, it remains wrong.

Meanwhile, don't get Me wrong, every person should have his/her coffee exactly the way he/she likes it, as long as I don't have to drink a latte. Or even an Americano with too much water, for that matter.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Seattle Public Library

The Seattle Public Library, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Bamboo, a touch of Asia, so much at home in the Pacific Northwest.


If New York City has SOHO (neighborhood SOuth of HOuston) Seattle could have SOJA (SOuth of JAckson).
If that was the case, the first Public Library in the International District/ Chinatown could become known as SOJA Public Library.

For someone who speaks and thinks Dutch not so far fetched, soy after all is "soja" in my mother tongue. And where do I go for soy sauce and all other Asian groceries (not to mention excellent produce and even imported Dutch food)?
Exactly, South of Jackson!

Adopting SOJA, could put an end to the dispute about the proper name for a public library serving the Asian American community.

Or perhaps this would start another dispute: "Why does a Dutch immigrant come up with a name like that.
After all, the I.D. doesn't even have any European businesses!"

all rights © Judith van Praag 6/2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Visual Thesaurus

You thought the Meme Tree was fun? The Visual Thesaurus delivers the square root of fun.
A Meme Tree of Words, Visual Thesaurus is IT. Fun, fascinating and fast. Granted, IT doesn't know everything, but the online addition shows Dutch, German, French, Italian and Spanish beside English. Fun, fun, fun.

Ballad of Yoshiyo

Ballad of Yoshiyo, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

The Ballad of Yoshiyo was performed at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Romantic love between master ceramist and apprentice.
Broken hearts ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
river~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the end.

Birth of the Butterfly.
Recovery after Loss

Journal Shepherd

Journal Shepherd, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Chopping Center

Chopping Center, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Recipe for Compost
Russian Kale chopped in 2 inch pieces, add coffee grinds (from your home brew or barista). grass clippings, dried leaves, weeds (without seed heads) and water. Turn weekly.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


On this day in 1999 people from all walks of life, all ages, backgrounds and color gathered in the basement of a building in the Seattle, Central neighborhood. I can't remember where it was exactly that teacher and poet Judy Lightfoot invited us to come to participate in a marathon reading of Ralph Ellison's Juneteenth, but that doesn't matter.

What I do remember is the circle of chairs, people coming and going; voices, young, old, dramatic, haltering, jazzy, melodic and operatic reading the lines of characters passing through Ellison's story.
I believe, that we, as an ever changing group, enacted Juneteenth, in our own way, with much of Ellison's musical rhythms of jazz, gospel and ordinary speech.

All of us bound by one author's writing.

Ralph Ellison chose as epigraph these lines by T.S.Elliot:

This is the use of memory:
For liberations -not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past.

Juneteenth by Ralph Ellison (author of The Invisible Man), ISBN 0-375-70754-9 published by Vintage Books

Friday, June 17, 2005


Yesterday all volunteer architectural and general tour docents of the Seattle Central Public Library were invited to an appreciation party in the #1 space on the Meeting Room Level. An e-vite promised drinks and nosh, Which Floor Project funny movie and a presentation by former LMN architect Bob Zimmer.

With time on my side, I visited the FriendShop to look for Library specific gift articles, I can tell our patrons about.

First thought:
Pragnesh Parikh (LMN Architects, Seattle) has a keen and dramatic eye, and a limber body, I would like to add.
He must have got on all fours, perhaps flat on his belly, chin on the floor, to take the shot of Petra Blaise's botanical carpet on the Living Room Level.

Linear diamond grid above, lush floral design below, book cases to remind you where you are.

I ogled the photo, used as cover for a spiral note book in the FriendShop.
Good idea, perhaps I would make one myself.
Wanting to make things I see and like myself, is an irritating personality trait.

Within half an hour, Anne Vedella, the volunteer coordinator saved me, at least this time, from this compulsive habit.

As the volunteer with the second most donated hours in the past year (114 against the 122 my colleaguege architectural tour docent Hollis put in) I received the ogled notebook.

First Notes:
Easily 1000 individuals sign up to take a tour each month.
August 2004 a peak of 2000.
Between 200-600 people take organized group tours each month.
Half of those who take tour are from Seattle Metropolitan area.
About 100 of the monthly total are foreigners.
In April of 2005, 178.500 people went through the doors.
The Central Library has had a positive effect on local businesses.

The Mariënhof Garden

Tuin van de Mariënhof, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

If you happen to be in the Netherlands, check out the beautifully landscaped garden De Mariënhof in Midwoud, Noord-Holland.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

What is in a Name.

My Friend from Amsterdam (MFA) stresses that coffee shops in the Netherlands aren't known for espresso, but for the herb, or rather weed.
One drinks coffee at a cafe or "koffiehuis", the latter known for dark brew that leaves a film in the standard white earthenware cup.
You'll often find a koffiehuis in streets where vendors set up their stalls for the outdoors markets. Customers and market personnel alike frequent those cafeteria style shops for strong brew and Dutch apple pie, or "broodjes", white or whole wheat roles stuffed with cold cuts, cheese, or egg and tomato.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Torrefazione, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

David Diamond I.M.

On May 14 I reported meeting David Diamond at a Beneroya Hall reception.
The legendary composer died yesterday, one month before his 90th birthday.
He lives on in his music and in the memory of all those people whose hearts he touched.

David Diamond may have told me that it's a shame Dutch composers don't write more in their own language, I take his remark as a personal suggestion or advice: "write in your mother tongue".

Something to consider.

May he rest in peace and find joy in the eternal orchestras where all great musicians jam.

Playing Coffee Monopoly

There used to be two places in Seattle where I could get my coffee exactly the way I like it.
Hailing from Europe, I wanted a "lungo", made by pressing more water through the ground espresso.
In Paris the waiters and coffee jerks say: "Americain" or "cafe creme", in Italy they sigh: "troppo aqua". The latter ironically often the case with the "Americano" in the States. No wonder, with water added.

The only barristas who were willing to make a lungo without giving me a superior look and explaining that they wouldn't do that because it makes the drink too bitter, were the woman who operated a coffee cart on Lower Queen Anne and a gal at the Torrefazione coffee shop on Occidental Street in Pioneer Square.

Starbucks' employees —who are trained to make lattes —just so— would give me either a pityful or superior look while explaining that such treatment makes the drink too bitter. Which only told me that
1.-Starbucks doesn't have the espresso coffee European coffee makers use, and
2.- that all employees believe Starbucks knows best.
The latter breaks down a bit of the customer service aura they've otherwise created so well.

I got tired of explaining how I wanted barristas to make my Joe. So, what do you do, you stick to the folks who make you happy.

A decade ago, a lively barista would drive up on Mercer Street every morning to set up her business in front of the Tower Books Store windows. She had a few stackable plastic chairs for people such as me, who like to sit (and chat) while they savor their java.

Italians take their espresso in one gulp and are on their way. The Dutch drink coffee in a more social setting, so they want theirs a little longer. Americans, having been raised on "have a refill honey?" dish wash water brew, need a little more help.

Coming to Seattle I called those who had discovered lattes "Melkmuilen" (Dutch idiom for baby face, compare the advertisements "Have Milk?"). In the Netherlands a drink comparable to a latte is called "koffie verkeerd", which only translates to coffee the wrong way. Do I need to say more?

One day, the barista on Lower Queen Anne announced that she was quitting. Something about a lacking terrace permit, Tower Books couldn't provide and wouldn't apply for, since coffee wasn't part of their business. Now they're gone as well. If only they had made coffee their business…

Luckily, the Uruguan barista at Torrefazione, way across town, also knew how to make me a lungo.
One of a small chain (17 coffee shops/ stores in the Northwest, California, Chicago and Boston), the place breathed elegance. Coffee was served in ceramic cups adorned with colorful painted floral motives. From French style cafe tables on the terrace you could watch patrons of the arts go in and out of Pioneer Square's top notch galleries.

I wrote "breathed" and "was served", and using past tense right now may be a bit too soon, but the end of the Torrefazione coffee shops is near. In 2003 Starbucks bought the chain. And to make a long story short, Torrefazione just doesn't cut it. At least that's what I read in The Seattle Times today.

Monica Soto Ouchi reported that Starbucks spokesman Alan Hilowitz said (is this considered "hear say"?) that the company had two years to survey the health of its subsidiary and decided the brand had a stronger future through grocery and food-service channels. "Operationally, the stores were not performing where they needed to perform," he said.
Torrefazione coffee lovers will still be able to buy their favorite coffee beans in grocery stores.

Shame should be a four letter word.

Thank goodness there are some other independent coffee houses left in Pioneer Square, such as Zeitgeist (a coffee shop a block away) and All City Coffee (in the Tashiro Kaplan Building), and of course the basement cafe at Elliot Bay Books, but I'll be darned if I'll try to give the barista instructions on how to draw me a lungo. Oh, well, perhaps I will.

Still, it's a darn shame.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bestseller Multiple Choice

What's a bestseller?
-The book in the rack at the airport.
-The book in the rack at your drugstore.
-The book on the N.Y.Times bestsellers list.

What's a bestseller?
-The book the giant distributor ships the highest numbers of to booksellers.
-The book that may be returned to the distributor when it doesn't sell.
-The book that's most read.

-Which book gets front row exposure?
-The book that lends the bookseller a relationship with the author
-The book that will be most read.
-The book that earns its stay at the table with a fat check from the publisher.

Wanna read a book that's been chosen by only personally biased readers?
Go to The Lit Blog Coop for a fresh title.
The mere number of titles can wear you out.
But it beats the beaten path any day.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Looking North along I-5

Looking North along I-5, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Good muscle tone, small waist, happy disposition. Prerequisites? Have a good run at the off-leash area. Bite some butts, chase or be chased, have a ball, fetch a ball, get rid of that pent up energy.

Seattle Dandelion

Seattle Dandelion, originally uploaded by Luna Type.

Seattle has about 200 parks. Nine of those have official Off-Leash areas where you can let your dog run to its heart content. The noise from I-5 is deafening, but the view of downtown splendificus from Dr. Jose Rizal Park, a natural surprise on the western slope of Beacon Hill.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Book Meme 2

On June 6, I was at a loss when I reached Question # 5: Tag five people and have them do it on their blogs (it meaning answer the Book Meme questions, I hardly ever use –it– myself).

I couldn't tag worth a bit.

Arjan to the rescue.

Thus Jeremy's tag reads: Rain Dog

Arjan How would you like them cooked? my hero for today.

Have no fear, the text on his site is in English.
Check out his sunny side up.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mistaken Identity

On page 42 of Buddha's Money, author Martin Limon shocks me with detailed molestation of nine-year old girl. I'm not sure I want to read more. The problem is, and this may sound weird, this is fiction. I can't accept that the author made this up. In "Special Victims", an offspin of "Law & Order" the t.v. series, we learn about hideous crimes. Although fictionalized, I accept that the writers of the script get their ideas and information from Real Life situations. I may not condone what's happening in Real Life, I appreciate what the makers of these series bring to our attention.

It's been said that readers would rather read about terrible things happening in a fictional than in a non-fictional account. The reason for that would be that what's made up isn't really as bad as what actually happens. Or rather, what's made up can't happen to the reader.

If only that was really true.

Fiction after life may show situations that actually took place. That makes such stories believable. Sometimes it is as though the author takes on the role of a creative non-fiction writer. The reader knows the stories are based on facts, only the writer creates an environment that makes for more interesting reading.

One can question the existence of True Fiction, after all, all writers use material from their memory bank, from the media, from history, from Real Life.

Sometimes readers confuse an author with his characters. They will blame the author for the things his characters say or do. Often that's a mistake. After all, the author uses his characters to say something. But that doesn't necessarily mean he agrees with the character. An author has the power to bring controversial situations to the foreground, to the attention of the reader.

So, in the end, I gave Martin Limon the benefit of the doubt, after all, while reading the previous novel, Slicky Boys, I had learned some things about an environment I had known nothing about. Perhaps I would learn the reason for the scene with the child in the next chapter.

I'm on page 76 now, and yes, I did find out why the child is molested. The reasoning doesn't make the act any less horrid, but at least I trust the author.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Posted Secrets

Anonymous notes sent by snail mail, are posted on the postsecretblog.
The equivalent of mail art. A place to go back to, over and over again.

Where do you write your secret, where do you cut, glue and paste?
So much creativity has got lost thanks to email.
Boxes filled with letters and post cards, stamped envelopes.
Handwriting, slanted to the right, straight up, falling backward.
Ball point pens, fountain pens, pencils, cut out letters.
Stickers and drawings, love letters on bank notes.
Songlines on cardboard coasters, haikus on napkins.
Business cards with private phone numbers.
Folded notes between credit cards in a wallet.
Snapshots with DNA, wet ones stuck forever.


I got tagged by Jeremy (http://movingdog.blogspot.com/)
No, I Don't know how to properly tag.
Jeremy had been tagged by someone who created an alternative list of questions to the original Book Meme 123.5

Book Meme: 123.5
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Do not search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Grab what is actually next to you.

I'm reading Buddha's Money by Martin Limon preparation for an interview with the author for the International Examiner or Pacific Reader. Usually I save detective or mystery novels for the summer, real vacation fare. Odd to be doing this as part of my job.…
Page 123, fifth sentence from the top. Well, the first word is "and" so I'll take that as the beginning of the first sentence.
5th sentence: "As the other policemen started to close in, I picked up more of the short benches, and then I was backing out the door."
Now what?
Okay I cheated. "and" is not the first word of the first whole sentence. Try again.
"Through a curtain of rain, I saw Ernied Fif Kang and Lady Ahn disappearing down an alley."
Curtain of rain. Okay, that'll do.

Jeremy's connection's alternative Book Meme:

1. Total number of books I own:
About 1300. That includes give or take 200 Dutch novels, 100 plays, translated and in original languages, 250 books on art, 100 literary magazines and poetry books, 25 issues of Granta, about 55 cook books and 35 children's books.

2. The last book I bought:
The Dressmaker by Beryl Bainbridge. I started collecting her books back in Amsterdam. Every Friday I would go to the second hand book market at the Spui and peruse the stalls. This last one I found last Saturday at a garage sale on Fox Island in WA, for 50 cents.

3. The last book I read:
Oh dear. I read many books at the same time.
"Sightseeing", by Rattawut Lapcharoensap. Great collection of short stories from p.o.v. of Thai American writer.
"Ho'olulu Park and the Pepsodent Smile" and "Tsunami Years" by Juliet Kono. Collection of short stories and a book of poetry by award winning Hawai'ian (Japanese American) writer.

3 a. The last book I finished reading:
Slicky Boys by Martin Limon in preparation for an interview with the author.
I had never read anything fictional about Korea. Slicky Boys (and others in the series) are written from p.o.v. Mexican American G.I. stationed in Seoul, a lot of swiveling going on.

3 b. The before-last book I finished reading:
"When the Emperor was Divine" by Julie Otsuka, which was the 2005 "Seattle Reads" selection. Seven years ago, Seattle Public Library initiated "What if all of Seattle read the same book?" SPL organizes all kinds of events during the month of May, the author's brought to town, to give readings and lectures, documentaries are shown etc.
Can't believe I wasted time counting!

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:
"TimeBends: a life", by Arthur Miller, my hero, playwright, social commentary, novelist.
"My name is Asher Lev", by Chaim Potok.
"Mercy of a Rude Stream", and any other book by Henry Roth. Whenever I'm in NYC he's with me.
"Sabbath's Theater", and (with exception of The Breast) any book by Philip Roth. The master knows how to make an unlikeable character likable.
"The Family Moskat", by Isac Bashevis Singer.

5. Tag five people and have them do it on their blogs:

Before I do that, I've got to learn how to tag.
Hoka Hey!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Barefoot to Garfield

Native Seattleite and New Elderly Friend (86) remembers that the total number of different languages spoken at home by Garfield High school students was 90 in her days. Children straight from Ethiopia came to school barefoot. "There were no organizations that gave away things for free in those days," NEF says.