Filipino snack

It's Friday night, before Monday, 14 December when the electors submit their votes. The Supreme Court just tossed out the Texas lawsuit seeking to reverse the election outcome in four states won handily by Biden, saving the constitutional representative republic we know as the United States of America. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) was clearly trying to obtain a pardon with this pathetic stunt, yet people and the media continue to give these people credibility. I know I have another bottle of champagne somewhere around here. Hard to keep them in stock when we keep winning all the time. (Where are trump and his seditious GOP followers? 1-57? They are has-beens and losers to the core and we all need to move on.) In the … [Read more...]

Bok l’hong (a photo recipe)

Khmer spicy green papaya salad. I miss so many things from Southeast Asia, and this is one of them. In Khmer it's pronounced ɓok lhoŋ: បុកល្ហុង. You can order sôm tām, or ส้มตำ, in a Thai restaurant. In Laos it is tam maak hoong, or ຕໍາ ຫມາກ ຫຸ່ງ. And I didn't realize they also have it in Vietnam, gỏi đu đủ (pronounced guy dodo). The premise is the same but each has its own distinct flavor. Thankfully the ingredients are locally available. Here we visit a Khmer friend who just whips everything out of her pantry like it's the simplest thing, and in 5 minutes she has some on a plate for me. Besides the ingredients we used, you can add others: yardlong beans (cut in small pieces), grated carrots, crab meat, finely chopped lemongrass, … [Read more...]

Pandemic winter activities

It's the holly jolly season year 2020 and we're looking for things we can do safely, outside the house. In NYS/NYC we're thankfully not seeing the catastrophic surge that the rest of the country is now reeling from. But we're seeing spikes across indicators (indoor activities will be restricted in NYC in a few days). And the vaccine rollout seems to agitate everyone into increasingly careless behavior. It's like we're in limbo - help's on the way, but there are so many caveats and really we're still in the throes of incompetence until that stupid buffoon is dragged kicking and screaming out of the White House. With all the mediocre-white-guy stupidity within the GOP my diet has often been reduced to late night popcorn and bubbly. So … [Read more...]

Making Kombucha is surprisingly minimalist

Someone in my neighborhood posts regular SCOBY giveaways, and so one day I decided to pick one up out of curiosity. Never did this before, and I'm not even a big fan of kombucha (they give cans of them away at street festivals and events, but I don't recall being impressed). But hey, with kids there are always projects you can add to the curriculum. So the little girl and I went to pick it up and the gal handed it over in a plastic container with barely any liquid. Scoby is short for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, by the way. It's the living home for bacteria and yeast, which turns sweet tea into tangy, fizzy kombucha. The scoby grows to cover the liquid's surface area, sealing the fermenting kombucha from the air. Kitchn.com … [Read more...]

Technology fun

I love technology, and wish I had more of it in my background. Check out how this guy makes iridescent tempered chocolates with a 3D printer, in the first tweet below. He provided all instructions free on his twitter feed. And imagine how much less painful organic chemistry is, if learned this way, second tweet below. The learning possibilities are endless for homeschooling curriculums. I’m finally getting some decent results producing 100%-edible iridescent tempered chocolate. The colors are from the chocolate (not any ingredient or coating) diffracting light after being forcefully molded onto a diffraction grating in vacuum. pic.twitter.com/6wpbsIKh5C — Samy Kamkar (@samykamkar) May 9, 2020 🔬Learn chemistry with AR!#AI … [Read more...]

Mourning in the time of Covid

The kids had a sweet Grandma. She pushed her comfort zone to hang with us - she got on that 30-hour trip to Bangkok for our first kid and tried everything (durian, street foods, even a tuk-tuk ride straight out of the movie Ong Bak!). She always had a thoughtful gesture - I'd forget my own birthday and anniversary if it weren't for her cards. And she loved our friends. She was always there. … [Read more...]

Working with the upsides of this crisis

When we transitioned back to the US five years ago I thought turbulence was the new normal, given all the changes in healthcare (mergers, acquisitions, hospital closings and new value-based arrangements that lead to all sorts of complex partnerships). There was a lot of restructuring in the sector and especially in the public hospital system where I worked. But that pace of change pales compared to this 2020 pandemic. It's now eight weeks into "New York on Pause" (our lockdown). We're patiently waiting, yet aware that nothing will be "normal" again soon, if ever. It's easy to descend into existential despondency at the state of the US (abysmal levels of incompetence and obstruction from the White House, anti-Asian discrimination … [Read more...]

Mrenh Gongveal, Elves of the Khmer

Whether on city streets or deep in the Cardamom Mountains, in a poor village or inside a gated Phnom Penh villa, you'll invariably come across small makeshift houses hanging from prominent locations in businesses and homes. They are so universally present where Khmer people are, that they collectively fade into obscurity, mirroring its relative decline in recently documented Khmer history. Chasing the Elves of the Khmer delves into this Cambodian tradition; it's a photo essay that captures the creativity that goes into these omnipresent “spirit houses” and celebrates the popular practice of erecting shrines dedicated to the Mrenh Gongveal (ម្រេញគង្វាល), or Elves of the Khmer. Photos in this post are from "Mrenh Gongveal: Chasing the … [Read more...]