Wisdom Teeth

Okay guys. This is the week it happens. On Friday, this 57 year old dude is getting three of his wisdom teeth pulled out. That’s right three. The fourth has grown way up high in my sinus cavity and defies extraction. The two in my jaw are way down low and growing horizontally into the roots of adjacent molars, making them look like kelp bowing gracefully to the swell of the ocean. Of course in x-ray black and white.

The surgeon said he is going to put me under because he has to cut the teeth up and take them out in pieces and: “You don’t want to be awake for that.” He is probably right. So I am going to be out and loopy.

Everyone has been very gracious and kind about what to do and what not to do. Although I wished I hadn’t watched that YouTube video of an extraction. I really, really recommend against that as a way of facing what is about to happen in your mouth.

I have been really blessed in the tooth department. Four cavities, all drilled by Coca Cola when I was 16. One in each quadrant of my mouth. When I realized what was going on, I stopped drinking Coke every day: no more cavities. And once I went to the dentist for a check up (after about 18 years without seeing a dentist), and the hygienist took my x-rays and came back to examine them and, I swear, she was visibly disappointed that I had no new cavities.

Anyway, this should be kind of a mini, three-day adventure: Middle-aged Guy gets his Wisdom Teeth Out. Lucy is going to stay with her awesome trainer (Christa Sapita), because, well: no. I am stocking up on broth, juice bars, yogurt, stuff for smoothies, etc. I have DVDs and Netflix, the New York Review of Books, actual books and the Internet. So, I just have to settle in and wait for the pain to subside. Not unlike the aftereffects of any number of things that can happen to a person.

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Obamacare So Far

Okay, I am really upset with Obamacare. Before you go any further, don’t misunderstand. I am all for socialized medicine. In fact, I am totally in favor of calling it socialized medicine. I don’t see the point in calling it Single Payer, or Universal Coverage. Or whatever. Call it what it is. I also think we should socialize education and law, but those are other issues. (By the way, I am completely convinced about education, but a little squishy about law.)

Anyway, before Obamacare, my health insurance cost me $386 a month and I was able to see Dr. Good at North Oakland Family Practice, the best doctor I have ever met. Then Obamacare. Aetna, my insurance carrier, stopped insuring people like me in the entire state. So I got Anthem Blue Cross (everybody’s pal, that’s sarcasm), and my rates went up to $492 and later were increased to $542. Then Stanford Healthcare bought North Oakland Family Practice and did not support individual plans from Anthem Blue Cross. So now I have a Blue Shield individual EPO. Actually, my rate went down to $526 a month. So that’s okay. But now Blue Shield isn’t going to offer my EPO anymore. Instead, I can have the  PPO for the lowlow price of $598 a month. And, I may not be able to get my doctor. There seems to be some kind of disagreement between Blue Shield and Stanford Healthcare. So, I don’t know where that is going to go.

Personally, I think we should disconnect the financial industry from the healthcare industry altogether. They are antithetical. One is totally money/profit-driven and the other is, at its core, humanitarian. One serves mankind and the other serves money. And if I have learned one thing since the financial crisis, for the most part, the financial industry cannot be trusted with money.

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Okay, just in time.  One new to me rotisserie.    Just so you know, I have not tried it yet, but intend to do so very soon.  It is called Mistura, on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. It’s a Peruvian rotisserie. I am not sure what that means, but I will find out and get back to you.

Also, there is a new rotisserie on Grand Avenue. I know it’s new because I have been watching it being build week-by- week when I go to the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market. I don’t know what it is called, but will let you know.

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Tent and Shoes

At the end of September, I went camping. It was a perfect opportunity to see how much the new car can carry and to try out my new tent, the Eureka Copper Canyon 4. It has an 8’x8’ footprint, so there is plenty of room for people and dog. But, most important, it has a center height of 7’! I can finally stand up in my own tent. It was a great experience to have so much room and to be able to change my clothes standing up. And I set it up by myself in just a few minutes. My only concern is that the fabric feels very, very thin. I don’t know: the spec says the walls, floor and fly are made of 75D 190T polyester taffeta, 1200 mm coated. Maybe that is a super-polyester. We’ll see how long it lasts, how many trips I get out of it.

Next, I think I have found the greatest shoe ever: the Scarpa Zen. Again, it does not look like an off-road truck tire. It looks like a shoe. But it just keeps going and going and going. I hike and/or walk in my shoes at least 3-6 miles a day, 5-6 days a week. My current pair are a year and half old and still have plenty of tread on them. The only sign of wear is a small frayed spot in one of the collars around my ankle. The shoes are not waterproof, but, hell, I don’t care. The laces need replacing after about a year. A year! The fact that they lasted that long is pretty great, considering how many miles I put on them. And they grip like crazy. I feel very confident in these shoes, no matter where I am hiking. The only thing I don’t like about them is that they are narrow in the toe area. It would be nice if they were a little wider there. Then they would go from being the greatest shoe ever to being the perfect shoe.

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Okay, so on Saturday it will have been two weeks since J and I broke up, and I have been a bit of a mess, though less so now than before. Last week I would cry in the middle of the day.  Just all of a sudden. Now I have been thinking of what I could have done better.  You know, if I could do it all over again.

It struck me today that I really get her. More than anyone I have been with.  I really feel like I get her. In the cool light of post-break up reflection, I think I finally put the last major piece in place. It’s kind of funny, breaking up.  You are breaking up, finally, with someone you know, you understand. Even if the break up is the result of accumulated mutual baggage, you spent the time getting the ins and outs of a person. Spent the time developing greater and greater connection. At least, if you are doing it right that is what you are doing. Assuming that the person you got to know isn’t a monster (most people aren’t) that makes it tough. And I worked very hard getting to know J as best as I could in the time we had.

Here’s a crazy goddamned thing: What I miss most right now is our evening texting. I don’t even like texting. I think that, for the most part, it is a lazy evil activity.  But I looked forward to that just about every night, and out of habit I still do. I look for it and when it isn’t there I feel the separation even more. Goddammit.

Anyway, I am going to spend the next couple of months catching up with To Do items I have let fall behind. Not really in the mood to get back out there right away. I’d rather get my bearings again. So, I will have a little more time to post on here. I do have a couple of things I would like to tell you about and I found two rotisserie restaurants that I now have to try.

Oh, and Lucy developed a cough. It is very strange, the cough.  She coughs when she gets excited. We went to the vet yesterday and got the diagnosis of Kennel Cough (which I figured, hoped, it was) and came home with ten days worth of Clavamox, an antibiotic.  Already she is better.  I cannot tell if that is coincidental or if there is a direct cause/effect relationship, but she is definitely better. So that is good.  Because the alternative diagnoses were pretty grim.

Okay, so you will hear a little more from me, at least for the near future.

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Well . . .

A lot of things have happened this year and I am not exactly sure where to start telling you about them.

First off, Lucy and I are fine. She is still the same exuberant dog. Happy and joyful. Excited to be alive. I am busier than I have ever been with work.

And now for the most affecting events.

I bought a new car, a Golf Sportwagen. I never thought I would buy a new car, was sure I would only buy used cars. But this car is so popular that the resale value on a used one made buying a new one a better deal in my case.

Okay, as you know, at least as I posted here, I was really smitten earlier this year (actually, I remain smitten, but don’t tell anyone) and was looking forward to a great relationship with a woman I met on OKCupid. Well, that looks like it is short-lived. Not that we don’t dig each other, we do, but some obstacles cannot be surmounted. Anyway, I will keep you informed about it, though I am not optimistic at this point. I will say that, overall, she was very good for me. The difference in our perspectives made me think and grow in ways I was not expecting.

Finally, and most importantly, a dear friend of mine died earlier this year. He was 74 and had a lot of problems with his body. Beside being a great friend, he was a mentor to me. He understood a lot of things that I want to understand, about people and relationships and trust. And I trusted him more than anyone I have ever known. He had more personal integrity and honor than anyone I know. I learned as much about these things as I could.

I was very lucky to be able to see him in the hospital before he died and thank him. In response, he thanked me. I remember how present he was, despite being in great pain and under heavy drugs. It was obvious that he was mentally and spiritually intact despite it all. He was completely there. I hope when my time comes that I can be that conscious and intact. It’s possible, but I have a lot of work to do to get there.

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My Currently Favorite Salad Dressing

Last year, I found myself at the Gold Coast Grill in Alameda (the old home town). Every now and then, that happens: I find myself at the Gold Coast Grill. I love this place: very old school in a nice way, with very tasty Greek eats . . . and other stuff.  And every time I eat there, I am amazed at the salad dressing. Well, this time I decided I would try to recreate it at home, and it only took me about eight months to get around to experimenting.  I have not been back since, so I don’t know if what I came up with is faithful, but it is real tasty.

I Googled around before experimenting (using only myself as guinea pig: I never try new things out on people – okay, well almost never.) I didn’t find anything that looked right, so I combined some recipes (in my head) and came up with this:

1/4 cup lemon juice
1 /4 cup yogurt
1 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dry oregano (rub it between your palms before adding)
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For best results, use an immersion blender and emulsify the hell out of this stuff and adjust flavor to taste. It will make you happy.

Also, if you use Greek yogurt, when you refrigerate the dressing, it will turn into saladdressing pudding. Very thick and edible by spoonfuls applied to mouth. Yes, I tried it.

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There’s a perfectly good New Years resolution shot to hell. Before it ever could stand up or take its first jerking wheezy breath. I had promised myself that I would show more discipline and stamina in my blogginess. Show more resolve. But no. Here it is the third of February and I am finally writing something. Taking a break from work to clean my writerly palette. What can I say, except: mea culpa. mea culpa. mea culpa. Sorry little baby resolution.

In my defense, I will say that business is pretty damned good: I am as busy as I have ever been and with work that is new and interesting. And I have done what I thought impossible: met a pretty great woman via OKCupid.com.  I swear to god (lower case g on purpose: not a typo), I never thought I would meet someone I wanted to spend more time that a coffee date with, but so far it’s pretty great and I am smitten. And I thought that wasn’t going to happen again.

In any case, I have my reasons for not hanging out with you, my 3 or 4 loyal readers. And they’re pretty good.

Okay so, I actually have some things to write about: a good salad dressing recipe, my joyous experience with Obamacare (I really wish we could have gotten Medicare for all. Shit.), rotisserie chicken, a review of Growler’s Arms (a great resto owned by a couple I know through dog walking) and other things.  I have a list around here somewhere.

Stay tuned, send messages, keep warm and dry. And all you Brazilians who come to our blog, say hello for god’s sake.

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Frankenbird – Part 3 – The Anticlimax

The Road to Dinner

I had put over ten hours into Frankenbird, and all I had to show for it was a big sutured bag of muscle, fiber and cholesterol and a very small puddle of fat in the bottom of a roasting pan. Meanwhile, arrival time approached.

I tend to react badly when things don’t progress on the schedule I have set out. I get very anxious and a little stern. I insist that things go the way I want them to go, without complications. Well, here was one fat, ugly complication, an uncooperative brick of semi-raw food. So, I didn’t like postponing dinner. It was one step removed from failure. From incompetence. So, I waited (in my mind anyway) until the last responsible minute. Click here to read more.

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Frankenbird – Part 2

The Saga Continues . . . .

Building Frankenbird

The day before Thanksgiving, I set out the duck and the chicken to thaw, and I bought the sausage and oysters and every other fresh thing necessary. Occasionally during the work day I stopped and thought about the order in which I should perform my chefly chores, so that by the time of early evening, I had that night’s agenda and schedule clear and distinct in my head and anticipated a very late night in the kitchen. I figured I could be working until as late as 2:00 a.m., being a turducken virgin. Click here to read more.

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