Oyster Frenzy

October 30th, 2005

Most people have a love/hate relationship with oysters…. either they enjoy them and consider them a refreshing treat, OR they can’t stand them and think they are the ocean’s mucus. I fall in the former category and enjoy a good oyster. Traditionally, oysters should only be eaten during months that have a “r” in them, (excludes May through August, for those of you who were spelling each month in your head) since oysters are milkier and spawn during the summer months.

This time of year is considered the beginning of the oyster year, so one of Seattle’s seafood restaurants, the Flying Fish, celebrates it with an Oyster Frenzy. A 3-hour all-you-can-eat oyster open house. Representatives from different local shellfish farms and distributors come in to help shuck the seemingly thousands of oysters. Besides the raw-on-the-half-shell oysters of no less than 5 varieties, they served cornmeal-deepfried oysters, 2 types of oyster-rockafeller, oyster stew, and a vodka-oyster shooter. After the nominal entry fee, we walked around and sampled the different oysters, then sampled them again….. then again…. then again. We compared the Kumamotos against the Hama Hama varieties, the Virginians against the Miranellis. They also had a few different winery representatives selling their varietals, as well as Roger Bialous, co-owner of Georgetown Brewery, pouring Manny’s Pale Ale. Excellent beer if you get the chance to try it. This 3 hour event required a strategy of attack. I had the distance-pace…. where i’d walk around having a few oysters, stop and chat, then have a few more. My sister had a different approach. After entering at 1pm, Sachi was up to 25 oysters by 1:12. Amazing really. This sprint approach left her watching while I caught up and passed her somewhere around 1:45pm. We slowly lumbered out of the restaurant a little after 3pm, tired and stuffed with those bivalves. No “official” count was made, but I estimates I finished somewhere in the 90-100 range. Crazy? yes. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! (originally written Sunday evening 10/30)

UPDATE - Turns out, I’m not feeling too well this morning (Monday 10/31), stomach is aching a little and I can’t keep anything down. So… in hindsight, maybe eating almost 100 oysters wasn’t the best of ideas. Kind of a late reaction to eating Saturday afternoon, but my friend Quinn (who also ate about the same number of bivalves) is similarly feeling the pains of the belly and has also chosen to stay home from work today. Heed this warning, and someone please remind me of this post when next year’s oyster frenzy rolls around and I say, “hey, that sounds like a great idea!”. Back to bed for me……

I’m #9 in Google

October 26th, 2005

Google ranks sites based on relevancy, that is, the more sites that link to a site, the higher Google ranks it…. since it makes sense that if other sites link to it, it must have something worth seeing. I did a simple search for my name, Mark Sullivan, and turns out, i rank 9th on the list. This is HUGE. Since most people only look at the first 10 results of a search, i’m stoked that mine came up in the top 10. Think about it…. my name isn’t unique or funkily-spelled, like Gerbanzilla, or Phranklin. My name is about at Irish-Catholic as you can get…. even though I’m half-Japanese. Go figure.

My goal…. to beat out the 2005 Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion, who is also named Mark Sullivan, who has the #1 spot in Google. How to do it??? That is the secret that companies around the world have been trying to figure out. There are theories out there on exactly how Google sets it’s rankings, but to be honest, it’s a black box. It’s understood to the point to know what general things improve a site, but how to get it to be the absolute top? that’s the big-money question.

What costume to pick?

October 25th, 2005

Halloween is on Monday, but this weekend will likely be the time to wear costumes, not on the 31st. But the questions begs…. what to be this halloween? Costumes not only tell you about someone’s persona, it also gives a peek into what the person thinks is funny, scary, or demented. In past years, i’ve done things that have allowed me to wear my closet, i.e. use whatever i have already, since i’m too lazy to plan ahead. This year is different. I have 4 days to figure it out and i’m going to try and get something slightly original… slightly humorous…. and non-restrictive, so i can wear it without bumping into people or be forced to put it on and take it off repeatedly. Any good suggestions? I tend to stay away from politically sensitive or current events headlines, since you never know if someone will recognize if i’m dressed as Ben Bernanke (Greenspan’s successor). Don’t worry, I won’t be Bernanke.

Ghosts and goblins aren’t that original…. and face painting has never worked that well with me. I remember going to school in 3rd grade with a painted face and by noon it was all smeared from running around at recess (granted it was 85 degrees in Hawaii, so Seattle may be a little cooler). I’d tell you what i have gone as in the past, but some of it is embarassing and others are in poor taste, so you would have had to have been there….. sorry. I welcome any suggestions and no idea is too stupid. Well many ideas are too stupid, so i may not listen to them all, but i’ll at least listen/read them. BOO!

Can cook…. need eaters

October 23rd, 2005

Recipe books are nice, in fact they’re great if you ever seem to have all the ingrediants listed for a dish. I like to take a recipe idea and get a general feel of what should be used and how it should be prepared. On Saturday, I tried making a few dishes. There weren’t recipes per se, but amalgamations of ideas retrieved from other dishes i thought were cool. I prepared some halibut and tossing in a few sides, nothing too fancy. I realize now that i don’t eat out because i can’t cook, i eat out because cooking requires two things, 1) time to purchase, prepare and cook the food, and 2) ability to think of something to cook. That’s really the hard part. If someone would say, “cook lobster thermador on Wednesday”, that would be fine by me. Granted I have no idea how to make that, nor do i wish to toss a live lobster into a boiling pot…. but it helps to have someone say what they want cooked.

With a whole house under my control with a very nice kitchen, I may need volunteer mouths to eat whatever i can create from this kitchen. I used to hate cooking when i lived by myself, since if i made something that tasted bad, i was stuck with 4 or 5 servings of it that i dreaded for days. Until Lee & Sachi leave, I have them as guinnea pigs to try whatever i make (when i do get around to cooking that is). Not that this will turn into Aunt Bea’s diner where any of my friends can just come over for dinner… not at all. But when I do cook, it’d be nice to get some mouths to partake in the fun. And fun consists of first identifying the cooked item, then taking the chance and tasting it (at own risk), and finally trying to smile and say “mmmm, uhhh interesting” in the most honest face possible. So if you’re interested in putting your appetite where your mouth is, let me know. If you haven’t had a good home-cooked meal in a long time, don’t despair just YET…. it’s just a dry-spell and i’m sure a home-cooked meal is just around the corner. Chances are, if you’re not near home, the nearest home-cooked meal may be at your friend’s place. Friends that can cook is a great benefit to have. Find someone that can cook and make them cook for you, or at least learn from them before you let them go. Otherwise you may not eat a good meal for years….. yikes!

Share your travel experiences

October 18th, 2005

Have you been to another country and had a great experience? Like have you gone to Ireland and been to a great bed-n-breakfast? Or have you gone to Sydney and eaten at a great hole-in-the-wall place that you wish you could tell others? Well check out The World Is Not Flat, which is a collection of world travel experiences, plus it’s a travel blog for my bro-in-law and sister as they trek around the globe.

I made my first entry into the TwinF (acronym for The-World-Is-Not-Flat) about a Peking Duck restaurant I went to in Beijing. Turns out, I haven’t traveled much around the world…. China, Japan, Italy, Canada and the Carribean. I eventually want to see more of the world, but there’s plenty of time to do that later….. don’t know when exactly, but later sounds about right. Stop on by the TwinF site and check out what places people are talking about and share one of your own while you’re at it. You’ll learn about places you’ve never been and you can help others make their travels even better.

Get flying out of my system

October 17th, 2005

With about 53 days left before Lee & Sachi leave for their 12-month world tour….. i’m seeing the writing on the wall. Soon, I won’t be able to leave Seattle since I’ll need to be here to take care of Amos, the lazy black lab who sleeps at least 22 hours a day. He’s a part of the family, so it’s more fun than obligation. But not taking any trips seems like a hard ordeal…. especially with the crazy amount of vacation days my company gives me each year. So to get it out of my system, i’m going to be taking trips whenever i can over the next 53 days. Already i have planned a trip home to Hawaii, a quick jaunt to Vegas and now a scamper to the Sunshine state to catch-up with distant family.

Make this be the open invitation to any friends wanting to visit Seattle in 2006. There’s plenty of space available and the weekends last all the way through Sunday….. All you gotsta do is give me a heads-up before you show-up. Seattle has espresso to wake you up, good food to put you to sleep, and in-between a plethora of in-and-outdoor fun to keep you busy. What else do you need? Forget about the rain, it’s just a myth. It rains less than you think, but don’t you blink, or you’ll miss the fun, under the sun, and if you wait, you may be too late, so get on your saddle, and come visit Seattle.

Sundays are lazy

October 16th, 2005

Is is because it’s the middle of the NFL season? Is it because the previous 6 days always seem to beat me up? Whatever the reason, Sundays are filled with nothing…. kinda oxymoronic, isn’t it? Between football, nascar, sleeping off Saturday night debauchery, and catching up on bills, Sundays have a strange routine to them. Before you know it, it’s 11pm and time to rest before another 6am wake-up alarm. I sometimes wonder what people do with their Sundays…. do they also use it as a day to catch-up with family and perform chores around the house?

My theory, is that people need the day off to recover from Friday and Saturday nights. I know our house fits that description. Last Sunday, all three couches were used for naps. For today, i watched 2 football games, 4 hours of Tivo and chatted online for an hour. Productive? No. Relaxing and necessary for my weekly recovery? Absolutely!!!

Moons over my hammy

October 15th, 2005

Denny’s is not just a late-night or early-morning breakfast joint… it’s an institution that everyone has a little place in their heart for. People may have their own lookalike favorites (i.e. Waffle House, IHOP, mom&pop’s greasy-spoon diner), but there’s always a place, between wherever you are and home, that hits the spot at 3am…. and in Seattle, there’s a couple places: Beth’s Cafe and of course, Denny’s.

So Denny’s at 3am is usually a good idea…. and also a terrible idea. Kinda like that decision to have that double-chocolate milkshake before riding a roller-coaster. The menu is filled with pictures of things that look good under bright lights in a photo-shoot, but may not look as good coming out of the kitchen during the graveyard shift. Now, I’ve worked in marketing and i know how important it is to name products in a way that makes people want to buy it. One of those pictures was of a grilled ham & cheese & egg sandwich… but being Denny’s, they had to make up some crazy-ass name for it. And thus is created, “Moons over my hammy”. This breakfast is quite widely well-known. At 3am, we couldn’t figure out what the moons referred to… and now a day later, i’m still not sure… is it because the moon is thought to be made of cheese? (given the cheese in the sandwich?) or are the moons the yolks in the eggs? But since the eggs are scrambled, that argument is bunk.

You’re probably thinking, “is that what he thinks on a regular basis?” Well, yeah… that is. Not every post should discuss intellectual topics, such as the game-theory work of Economic Nobel Laureates Robert Aumann and Thomas Schelling. Sometimes, you just gotta talk about crazy things that pop into your head… like why do dogs grab and chew the remote control, when a perfectly good doggy-bone is sitting next to the remote? Apparently, they like the fact that humans use the remote and therefore there’s an innate desire to follow their master…. and grab the remote. Stupid dogs…hehehe

A boat versus a yacht?

October 11th, 2005

Is there a difference between a yacht and a boat? Some people say a yacht is for pleasure sailing or crusing, while a boat is just a vessal on the water. Personally, I think the difference is a yacht is for high-brow folks that lift their pinky when sipping their cognac, while boats are for those that still need to work 40 hour/week to pay for it.
One of the interesting things about boating is the terminology…. there are so many lines that I like that I don’t always realize come from the boating world: Hit the head, chum the water, down the hatch,… and my personal favorites, Throw it overboard and Cut the anchor.

Now owning a boat (or yacht) is probably not in my near future. A vessal like that would take too much time from my schedule and cost too much money to upkeep. Maybe borrowing boats on weekends or just looking at vessals should be good enough if I need to get out on the water. Since I don’t know how to operate a boat, chances are I would just throw the anchor overboard, since i’m risky that way. You never know where the boat will drift to, or what things you’ll run into while drifting, but you know it’ll be interesting and it’ll be a party all the way there, wherever there is.
Enough talk about boats… i’m starting to get seasick just thinking of rocking back and forth

Jules Verne did it faster…..

October 3rd, 2005

It only took 80 days… just 80 days to criss-cross the globe, using trains, boats and whatever else Verne’s character, Phileas Fogg, could find to get him back to London in the short 3 months. Unlike the fictional writings of 1872, nowadays it only takes maybe a day or two to span the globe, only a couple hours if you’re an astronaut orbiting at 17,500 mph. This is much quicker than Verne every believed was possible. Seems a little pointless to circle the globe as fast as possible to just get back to where you started…. you don’t get to see anything, cause you’re always hurrying to get somewhere else.
Lee and Sachi (my brother-in-law and sister) I think realize this and thus are taking their sweet-ass time to trek across Mother Earth. About a year to be exact… over 4 times longer than even thought possible in the mid-1800’s. Time to see sights, time to mingle with locals, time to sleep till 2pm after 4 days of sightseeing around a city. It will surely be a trip that is packed with enough memories to satisfy their “I wish I could visit…” or “man it would be cool to see….” desires, at least for a few years.
Starting in Seattle, they’ll visit each set of parents (in North Cackalacky & Hawai’i) before stepping off of U.S. soil. First New Zealand, then up thru Asia, over to Europe, down to hot-ass Africa (maybe hitting South America) and hopefully back to the states before my birthday in 2007… (Feb 9th in case you were wondering). After house-sitting and dog-sitting for them for 14 months, I’m due for a frickin’ bomb-ass present! Hope it ain’t one of those russian nesting dolls that fit one into the other….
Even though their trip doesn’t start till December (not that i’m counting the days or anything) today is the kick-off of the trip web-log/site/suggestion page, The World is Not Flat. This site will allow you to share your own stories of cool or not-so-cool places you’ve been to and to see what others have shared as well. This will end up being a plethora of interesting restaurants, cool hotels, biggidy-bomb touristy spots and secret out-of-the-way locales that most people miss during a normal vacation. By everyone sharing their little tidbit of “hey, you should do this when you’re in….” or “This side-alley restaurant was the best meal in the city”, everyone will become enlightened and the community at-large will benefit from your stories.
The 2nd purpose of The World is Not Flat is as a travel-log for Lee and Sachi to post as they visit different parts of the globe. Not everywhere will have a phone signal, and they’re not going to be able to call everyone they know at every stage of the trip, so this is a perfect way to keep abreast of where they are in the world and what cool sh%t they’ve been up to. I personally like the map function that positions then on Google Earth everytime they make a post, so you don’t have to look at an atlas to realize where they are…. for instance if they were in Eretria, how many of you really know where that is? Well it’s here, in case you were wondering.
It’s looking to be an absolute fun time. For Lee & Sachi, a whirlwind of countries, airports and weird-ass foods. For me, a year filled with houseparties and the like… the first being right after they leave in case any of you are residing in the Seattle-area. (details to follow later)