Monthly Archives: March 2011

Bad NIMBY Me

I’m the first to admit to having scorned NIMBYism in the past. When fueled by self-centeredness and a lack of any nod to “the common good” I find it more than a little unpalatable. It’s taken me a while to admit that I have a full-blown case of NIMBYism that is entirely based on the proximity of the new road to my home.

As soon as I found out King County had made the call for people to join their “Citizen’s Advisory Group” to explore the seventeen various possible routes of a new arterial near us, I applied. I missed the first round but was called in later as people dropped out of the original group. I went to all the meetings and looked at all the options along with a bunch of other people who live in the area. It turns out most of us had very personal reasons for joining in.

The decision for the route was made largely out of political pressure from the City of Redmond. The engineers from King County showed a clear preference for one route while the others were much less favorable–in terms of engineering as well as cost. The passage of I-695 and it’s hidden nasty clauses (thank you, ass hat Tim Eyman and anyone voting for I-695) in 2000 made the routes favored by the county illegal. It’s very convoluted and has to do with where city, state and county roads meet up and how funding is and is not allowed to be used.

The long and short of it is, though, that we were down to three possible routes, and the majority of the CAG decided that the best alternative would be the one that literally runs through my backyard. This is not just a figurative sort of statement as in “they are putting a half-way house somewhere within a mile of my house” sort of thing. The county has already purchased, via Eminent Domain, about an acre of our land.

from the Urban Dictionary:

NIMBY
Not In My BackYard: a person who opposes particular construction or projects in their community. Particularly prominent in New York City.

Good NIMBYism: Jane Jacobs opposing the construction of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have eviscerated the present-day neighborhoods of SoHo, Greenwich Village, and TriBeCa; Jackie Kennedy saving Grand Central Terminal from demolition and replacement with an office tower.

Bad NIMBYism: Fighting the development of a nearby tall building because it might block your view; opposing a new subway line or water tunnel, which would benefit the city for years to come, because of construction noise in your neighborhood; opposing the expansion of the museum across the street because of minor inconveniences, even though it’s the primary reason that your property is so valuable. I.E.: Being selfish

Iffy: People who fight LULUs, or Locally Unwanted Land Uses: developments or institutions that are needed, but that nobody wants near them, like homeless shelters or power plants.

As I write this, I hear the constant back up beeping of equipment down hill from where I sit. I’ve been pacing back and forth between windows, looking out the window to see what I can hear, to use my eyes as confirmation of the destruction I know is happening very close. All I can see at the moment is the bright orange wetland fencing used to mark off the construction site and some orange flags. They just started on Monday, so I know it’s just the beginning.

The thing is, I voted for this route along with others. Not that I ever WANTED a road to tear apart our beautiful little woods. We were down to two choices. The other involved closing off a major arterial for two years and literally blowing up Union Hill. Sure, Union Hill is a mile away from us, and the impact on us would have been minimal. However, a significant wildlife corridor used by deer, coyotes, bobcats, bears and mountain lions would have been completely shut down. There were other environmental issues and lots of other problems with that alternative. Though, frankly, I was disappointed that several people voted against it simply because it would cost more money.

I don’t plan on wallowing in this for too long, but I found myself really, really sad as I thought about the changes that are coming. I have too much in my life to be grateful for to stay stuck here for too long, but I just had to…vent. Thanks for listening.

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Filed under Grief, Politics, Uncategorized

Skilcraft Pen…official pen of the USA

When I picked one of these up today, I was struck with a wave of nostalgia that caught me off guard. We were at the post office getting the kids their new passports. I had to sign something and the post office employee handed me one of these thin black pens, and I hardly had to look at it to recognize it for what it was. My hand remembered it’s unique slim and spare exterior and gently tapered end. No one else in the room seemed particularly interested in my wave of nostalgia, but I’m blogging about it anyway.

I did what I normally do when something piques my interest and googled the pen to see if, as I thought, the pen used now is the same my dad was using while serving in the US Navy. What I found is a pen with a lore all its own. Look at the link above and you’ll read all about them and their interesting history.

Even though I was sitting in the Redmond Post Office signing papers, I was instantly transported back to 1978 and my dad’s office at Pensacola NAS. I could see his desk and feel the room around me. I could even smell it–a unique blend of government building and hospital clinic. I could sense his presence–always larger than life when in a uniform. If I closed my eyes, I could practically hear his voice as he talks to a corpsman. All from just holding a little piece of plastic. Memories are triggered in such interesting ways, aren’t they?

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Filed under Memories, Uncategorized

Tofu Conundrum Solved

Low Mein with Tofu

One of our favorite Chinese dishes has been something called “Dried Tofu with Pork,” and another dish our now defunct restaurant called “Delicate Chicken.” This latter was code that the waitress used mostly for just us as the dish was only offered in the Chinese portion of the menu. We often do the “look and see what people are getting and ask for it” trick and have ended up with all sorts of wonderful and interesting things not on the English menus. When we asked for a translation the waitress looked at the 20 or so characters of Chinese, paused and made up the name for us on the spot. It was a delicious dish with the strips of hearty and chewy tofu, chicken, bright green edamame, mixed veggies and some hot pepper. Ever since, I’ve tried all sorts of tofu found at our regular stores, but nothing has held up to the chew of the stuff from the restaurants.

The packaging

The Unopened Package

Just Monday, I found myself at the Renton Uwajimaya, our local Asian chain store, and remembered to look for the tofu. After going through the regular tofu section and finding plenty of beautiful bean curd in all firmnesses as well as the brands I see at PCC, I decided to ask someone in the store for help. The first clerk seemed clueless, but she asked someone else who appeared to understand what I was talking about. She called it “Taiwanese style stew curd.” I followed her to the refrigerated Kim Chee and pickle section. She picked up a package and frowned a little saying there were other brands at the store in Seattle, but she thought this was what I was looking for. I eagerly brought it home for Tuesday’s dinner.

So here’s what I made with the Stew Bean Curd.

Dave’s Low Mein, Adapted (Vegan and Gluten Free)

One package Seaweed Noodles
four carrots–sliced into tiny matchstick pieces
one large onion–sliced into thin half rounds
six stalks celery–sliced thin
a half cup or so cloud ear mushrooms, before re-hydrating
one package edamame–par boiled
1/4 slivered almonds, toasted
one package stew bean curd–cut into matchstick slices
1/4 C Hoisin Sauce
1/4 C brown bean sauce
4 cloves garlic–I use a press, mincing is fine too
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil for frying (I use peanut, but canola would be okay, too)

The tofu cut into matchstick pieces.

Get all the veggies chopped and place in one bowl. (If you have bok choy or other cabbage like veggie, it would be fine to add that in as well). Mix the Hoisin, brown bean, garlic, soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil, water and sugar together in a bowl. Prep the seaweed noodles (or you can use soba, whole wheat, or rice noodles–just cook so they won’t be mushy after being reheated.) by soaking in warm water and cutting with scissors, drain in colander.

Place the bowls next to the stove with the veggies first, the sauce next, then the edamame, tofu and noodles.

Heat a wok to high and add the oil. When the oil is hot, toss in all the veggies and stir fry until they are coated in the oil. Once they are fully coated, turn down the heat and cover with lid. Stir regularly until they are soft and wilted. Watch closely so they don’t burn. When the veggies are how you like them, add the sauce and bring to a boil by increasing the heat. Add the edamame and let it cook a minute. Add the tofu, let it cook another minute. Add the noodles and stir fry on high until they are covered in the sauce and everything is evenly distributed. Put on a platter and garnish with the almonds. If you don’t have almonds, don’t make the dish. Well, go ahead, but that little crunch is truly the kicker.

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Filed under Chinese Food, Cooking