Friday, October 16, 2009

I know a genuine king!!!

The Hobo King, aka Tommy the Greek, aka Inkman.

I met Tommy one day when he wandered into the shop down in SODO. He singled me out saying, "You look like a good Irish girl" in what can only be described as the one of the strongest South Chicago accents I've heard in some time.

What followed was a conversation that lasted over an hour, and had nothing to do with anything in the shop. Tommy speaks in varying rhythms. He shares openly. His pattern goes from rapid fire to ambling to quietly searching. We talk about Chicago, about food, about what brought our lives to Seattle before it all drifts back to Chicago. He tells me he's a Hobo. I tell him I can't recall ever meeting a Hobo to which he flashes his classic nearly-closed-eyes, wide mouth grin.

Since that first day, Tommy stops in the shop occasionally to check on me. He shares his history as a Hobo. It's an amazing one. He shows me some of his "hobo nickels", and comments on his tattoos. Tommy's acquaintances are just as interesting as you'd think, too. A mafia boss, professors, politicians, shop keepers, not to mention herds of other Hobos.

Tommy keeps life interesting. He doesn't mince words. Life is simple - no credit cards, no cellphone, no computers. He was off the grid until being named King of the Hobos. He's proud of his title, but was even more proud when he told me about the headstone him and fellow hobos made to honor their friend Preacher Steve.

I have met a lot of interesting folks in my lifetime, most likely due the careers I've pursued. I often wonder if these characters are meant to refresh my perspective on life. Tommy is unique, though. He's not chatting over a beer with the benefit of "booze philosophy", he's just Tommy. He's the Hobo King. He's a rough and tumble, hardworking welder. He's a storyteller. He is, as far as I have known, as genuine as they come.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In the face of a $106 ticket, my advice to you is to remain calm.

For those not in "the know", in late June I was pulled over by a motorcycle cop while on my bicycle. I wish I could say it was dramatic, but I got nothin'. No lights, no sirens, just a mustachioed officer yelling at me over the rumble of his motor to pull over.

I complied, and unlike my youthful days, remained quiet and polite as he issued me a $106 ticket for running a red light. After issuing the ticket, the cop looked bummed. "Bicyclists must usually give him a lot of shit," I thought.

Before getting back on his hog, he flipped the ticket over and suggested I send in for a mitigation hearing. I figured he felt bad because I was so compliant, either that or he was embarrassed by the foot traffic laughing at him for pulling over a bike commuter.

I sent in the ticket and waited for my court date to arrive. As it turns out, the courts are backed up in a big way. They offered an adjudication by mail. Now, anyone who knows me a lick, knows I have some finesse with words. So after a week of stewing, I wrote this:

Dear Sir or Madam:

I do not own a car. Since moving to Seattle over a year ago, I have either walked or commuted by bike every workday. I walk or ride the same route from Beacon Hill, down Holgate, to 1st Ave South in SoDo. Walking/cycling the same route to and from work - the potholes and unused tracks, the signals and traffic patterns - became like the back of my hand, familiar and predictable, that is until 2 weeks ago.

On the day of the incident, I was cycling to work and was stopped by a red light at the SODO busway and Holgate. The new Light Rail was running, and all traffic was stopped heading East and West. After the Light Rail coach passed and the gates raised, the busway lights for traffic heading North and South turned red. I started to peddle toward the intersection in anticipation of the light change. The Eastbound traffic had started moving, and until this day the green light had never been staggered at this intersection. That is to say, lights had always changed at the same time. This day, however, the lights were staggered. The Westbound lanes weren’t getting the green light that the Eastbound had. By the time I realized this, and uttered a confused expletive under my breath, I was already a few feet into the intersection. I also want to mention that there were no public transit vehicles present in the bus way, only eastbound traffic, continuing east. As I was already in the intersection, I continued through instead of awkwardly stopping and walking my bike back. I realize that this is why I was issued the ticket.

I am asking for fine forgiveness or leniency based on the fact that I have never had a traffic citation in a year and a half of alternative commuting, and that I have never seen the lights staggered at the Holgate bus way intersection before the day of the incident or any day since. I am also uncertain as to whether this light may be an inductive one. If this is the case, the cars traveling Westbound with me that day were giving generous space, so perhaps no one was positioned correctly to change the light. Maybe it was an experiment to change traffic flow with the introduction of the new Light Rail. Whatever the cause of the sudden & brief change in light programming, I assure you that I have continued my commute with a renewed sense of vigilance, and would like to reiterate my plea for fine forgiveness based on the information above.

Thank you very much for your time.
Sincerely yours,
Audrey P.
Beacon Hill, Seattle


Two weeks later, I received notice that my fine had been completely forgiven. Needless to say, I'm glad my letter found the right judge. But what I'm really glad for, is that I kept my mouth shut throughout the entire episode.

Author Audrey: 1
Issues w/Authority Audrey: 0

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I'm glad May is over

It's been a long week, and that's saying something because I thought May would never end. Lessons learned:

•Should one get in an accident with a car whilst riding one's bike, don't be nice. Call the police. If one doesn't, the asshole driver that caused the accident will call two weeks later and try get $250 for the mirror one broke with one's leg whilst fishtailing to avoid a direct impact that could've caused serious injury. Asshole driver should just be happy that he didn't kill anyone with his mindless driving in the presence of cyclists and pedestrians. One now has a lawyer should this asshole want to be taken to the cleaners.

•Don't shop at Men's Warehouse. They will tailor a suit incorrectly, and then call one a moron because the correct fit of a suit should apparently make it impossible to raise one's arms. After attempting to force the ill-tailored suit upon one, they finally concede it's tailored like shit. Upon returning to collect the replacement jacket, they will try to sell one the degenerate suit, again. After this, they will make one feel like shit for making them do the paid-tailoring correctly. In the end, they will have tailored one in three suit coats well. Don't shop at Men's Warehouse.

•Just because one's coworkers are scheduled to work does not mean they will. Sometimes they just don't want to, or they "forget" to come in. When one fills in forgoing one's day off, one will sit at work and listen to coworkers complain about how they deserve more time off. Just because they show up for their shift, this doesn't mean that they'll work either. One can be guaranteed that coworkers will complain about about pretty much everything, though.

•Without an ass-kissing gene, one may work the hardest of everyone and go unnoticed.

More to come . . .

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thighs of Steel

I can go on a bit - a long bit - about the absolute necessity of wearing a helmet when biking on city streets (or anywhere for that matter). The people who refuse can also go on a bit with their lame ass excuses for why they can't bear to wear one. These excuses run the gambit from allergies to uncomfortable, and are all B.S. Vanity is the main culprit, as is evidence by the number of hipsters on Cap Hill that seem to come up with head wounds, the "tough guys" on their dirt bikes charging full steam to cut off trucks in SODO, and the princesses in their floral skirts wanting to carry an air of romance into the exhaust filled avenues.

Alex bought me a new bike helmet for my birthday. As we were outside Velo Bike Shop adjusting the fit, a hiptser type was walking his bike past. He had gauze tightly wrapped around head and blood trickling down his face. No helmet to be seen, and judging from the source of the bleeding, none was worn. Given that it's bike to work month, this has become a pretty common sight.

Most people blame cars. It's easy because the cars/trucks/semis don't like to share the road with pedestrians of any kind. I have been nearly run down so often, I've considered wearing a helmet when I walk. Drivers like to cut off bikes, roll down windows and cuss at/threaten bikers . . . I've gotten "the bird", an annoyed honk or few, a handful of exasperated looks, and nearly had my toes shorn off by a person who couldn't be bothered with Seattle's cellphone laws. For all these reasons, I wear a helmet. While it would suck to lose my toes or have a limb crunched by a car, I imagine a life-changing or life-ending head injury would probably suck more. No offense intended to people sensitive about the mention of injuries of any kind.

Alex wears a helmet. Alex has been in two "altercations" with cars in a year. His latest run in was 2 weeks ago. While the helmet's stoutness was never tested, the fact he was wearing one put my mind at ease. I know that a helmet can't prevent all injury, but when you're married to Alex every little bit helps.

So a car takes a right turn into the bike lane - GASP - without looking. Alex is going downhill and has to slam on the brakes of his brand new bike. Good news! The brakes work. Alex fishtales probably saving his bike from being totaled, and broadsides the car with his leg. That's right, the Martin thigh took the brunt of the impact.

my husband (on a bike) can beat up your car.
my husband (on a bike) can beat up your car

If you think this looks bad, you should see the other guy . . . er, car. Alex's thigh managed to break the side mirror, so that it dangled useless at the vehicle's side.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

fish bladders

NPR is outstanding for several reasons, and "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" for its random trivia tidbits, in particular. Today I learned that vegans can't drink Guinness. . . fish bladders are used in the brewing process. Vegans are not supposed to eat any product culled from animals (like meat), but in the strictest sense nothing that uses animals (fish included). They like to pontificate about the virtues of eating this way, and while I agree with the environmental impact concerns, the rest . . . meh.

I could go on and on, and so could they - and they do when one doesn't budge from being a omnivore. Alex and I actually eat more like Flexitarians. Veggies are delicious, but so is bacon. Honey is a great sweetener that I refuse to give up, and gummy bears a tasty, low-fat candy. Let's just agree to disagree Vegans of the Pacific NW. I'll have my Guinness, and you can ingest whatever cocktail quells your bizarre guilt for being higher in the food chain than a guppy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

4 servings

1/2 Tsp Sesame oil
3 Cloves garlic, crushed & sliced
6 oz Fresh Pork Belly (삼겹살 cuts), cut into thin slices

1.5 - 2 Cups Kimchi, cut into manageable pieces
2 Tbs Gochujang (고추장, korean red pepper paste) - or however much spice you like
1 Cup Kimchi juice, if you don't have enough sub water for rest
6 Cups water
4 Tbs Pork Dashi
Green onion, chopped up
1 10 oz package firm/extra firm tofu, drained & cut into small rectangles

•In a pan over medium heat, add sesame oil, garlic, and pork. Cook until pork is just browned, and add all to slow cooker.
• In same pan with pork drippings, lightly cook kimchi for about 2 minutes. Then add to slow cooker.
• Add the rest of the ingredients (EXCEPT green onion). Don't worry about stirring it together or anything, the cooker will take care of most of it.
•Set cooker to low (8 hours). It doesn't need to cook 8 hours, but I prefer it cooking at lower heat. I let this cook for about 4 hours, stirring once.
•About 10 minutes before serving, add green onion.

Garnish with green onion & crushed sesame seeds.
Serve with rice.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

failed camping

Things were starting to look up . . . Alex and I actually had two consecutive days off together, which happens once in a blue moon, a friend lent us his car, and the weather had been pleasant. We thought, "What the hell. Let's go camping."

Those of you who know us well, know that this was about the point where we should have laughed at our optimism, rented movies, and stayed indoors. Those of you who know us even better, know that we loaded up the car and made for the Columbia River delta anyway.

Let's just say our vacations together have been a consistent exercise in bad weather luck (see Jeju/Typhoon, Mokpo/Sun-poisoning, Gyeongju/Cold Snap, etc.). Thankfully we're never unprepared, and have mastered improvisation and the difficult but much-needed task of finding any available silver lining. So off we go through the mountains to the coast along highway 101.

We figured we'd see snow, but the coast was supposed to be warmer and not as damp. However, the closer we got to our destination the windier and wetter it got. I was, to say the least, crabby. After planning, packing, and daydreaming about a quiet campsite with Alex, I knew it wasn't going to happen. We reached the fork in the road that would either take us to Ilwaco, WA and the aptly named "Cape Disappointment" or Astoria, OR.

Where this would register as a major upset earlier in our vacationing career, we decided without hesitation to head for Astoria and peruse the town of "Goonies". We laughed at our luck as we crossed the Columbia River, and with that a road trip down the coast eclipsed camping.

click on the photo for slideshow