Archive for March, 2007

Jury Duty

March 29, 2007

I’ve always wanted jury duty, but have never had the priviledge of being summoned. A few weeks ago, I finally received a notice, and I’ve been giddy ever since… Joelle said she heard me "smiling ear to ear" when I called to tell her I got the notice.

Wednesday was my official date of starting. The way it works in King County (where Seattle is) is the following:

  • You show up at the courthouse at 8 AM. Pretty easy to do; the buses from eastlake take about 12 minutes, and drop you off a block away. The county even provides you with a free bus pass (which I decided to use even though I have a free bus pass through Pure Networks; since they had already printed out the pass, I thought I would show my support for transit by letting the beancounters know that the jury bus passes are used). I did defer on receiving additional bus passes for future days, though, in hopes of saving the pieces of paper.
  • You wait in line for a while to sign-in and get paperwork taken care of. Part of this is payroll information, since you get paid $10 a day for being here (thankfully, work covers the rest – for self-employed individuals, jury duty could be a killer).
  • A nice orientation video is then shown; while the video covers all of Washington State, it definately had some Snohomish County specific pieces (where it was filmed). I find that weird, since King County is such a larger system; in fact, it’s the 14th busiest court system in the US (or so I was told).
  • One of the judges comes by to welcome you and give you King County specific information, and the jury manager provides other info: where the bathrooms are, break times, coffee locations, etc… and warns you to wear your juror badge at all times and not talk to anyone (judges, lawyers, witnesses, etc…). It is a pretty nice room; lots of bathrooms, a kitchen, free wi-fi access (I didn’t know this, so didn’t bring my laptop – today, on day 2, I did). Most people were reading, but some small amount of conversation occurred as well.
  • They then start calling names of people to go to jury rooms; I was in the 3rd group called, at about 10:15 or so. I was #29, which means that 16 people (the jury was going to be 12 people + 1 alternate) would have had to be excused before I made it into the "jury box" – while that sounds like a lot, it often happens; that’s why they called 44 of us in.
  • We then meet the bailiff, who explains things, and the judge explains more.
  • The lawyers then do "voir dire" where they ask general and specific questions of the jury pool to find out more, 20 minutes at a time. It appeared that they got the transcript to review over lunch, since neither were taking notes from what I could tell.
  • Lunch time – more on that separately.
  • We then came back after an hour and half lunch, and they did more questioning, and then began excusing people. This part of excusing could either be "for cause" or "presumptively". In our case, everyone (except 1) was "presumptively". They got to #28, so I wasn’t needed… boo!
  • Everyone excused from that trial then went back to the general jury room, where they told us were done for the day, but to be back at 8:45 AM the next day. Each person is here for at least 2 days, and more if they make it onto a trial.

Very interesting process so far; being part of the voir dire was fascinating. I wrote most of this while waiting to be called for day 2; now that that’s over, it ended the same way; I was 3 from being needed for the case this time. Thus endeth my jury duty adventure; you only go for the 2 days. Next time, I better get on a trial!

Pubnight, Redux

March 29, 2007
As Greg briefly mentioned, and Carl also did, a few of us have reinvigorated PubNight, which is really just a blast from the past (where past is defined as about 7 years ago).

The backstory is that, during our college days at WashU, a few of us decided that we needed to start checking out different bars every Tuesday evening. So in the model of the original New York Pubnight, we started choosing and tracking the various bars around St. Louis. For a while, we even got noticed by the original pubnight crew – in fact, as of 2006, we were still listed as a defunct group, even though we never "officially" affiliated. Kevin even went so far as to keep all sorts of stats and attendance, but alas, google’s archive seems to have lost it all (as far as I can tell – Kevin – do you still have the data?). Thankfully, we never went as far as the New York crowd did (see here and here) – they are crazy.

The Seattle variant of us is primarily WashU, but not exclusively. Carl, for one, is a regular, as is Clodagh (though technically, she sort of counts, since she married in). While we haven’t yet made it to a place that’s new for all of us, it’s been a great way to see some old friends on a regular basis, while having some good beer; which is really all I can ask for. We’re "old" now, so we can’t commit to meeting up every week, so we’ve been joining together every 2 weeks or so…

Places we’ve visited (and yes, Greg, we can still hold to the no-webpage, no-stats rule, but might as well do some reviews):
(using Judy’s Book as the website guide where possible, since they are across the street from Pure; might as well throw them some love).

  • Pubnight 0: Capitol Hill: Stumbling Monk and Elysian – This wasn’t actually an official pubnight, but it got the idea going. Greg, Clodagh, Joelle and I were supposed to hang out, and Kevin and Erin happened to call Greg saying he wanted to check out Stumbling Monk. As I love this place (great belgian beer), we all joined up and got talking. While they all drank Belgians, I actually stayed away from the Belgian stuff though; there was a Polish beer on the menu (can’t remember the name), and I was a bit intrigued, so went with that order. We tried to then walk to Frites for fries (yummm!), but it was closed, so to the Elysian we went for food (which is one my favorite brewpubs in the area)
  • Pubnight 1: Fremont: Brouwer’s Cafe. While I like this place, I sort of felt like "been there, done that", since I have been there a few times. Huge beer selection, so you can never go wrong. All around a solid bar.
  • Pubnight 2: Ballard: People’s Pub: A cozy place, there was a bit of a conflict with the Oscar’s. Good German beer selection, and I had this pretty darn tasty stuffed beets dish. I’ve also been here before, but well worth a re-visit.
  • Pubnight 3: Issaquah: Rogue Brewery: Interestingly enough, the second straight night Joelle and I had ended up in Issaquah. Great beer selection – Rogue knows it’s stuff. If it were closer, this might be my new favorite place.
  • Pubnight 4: Pike Place: White Horse Trading Company. Wasn’t able to make it, I heard it was closed down due to a vaction, so they hit the old standby of Kell’s instead. Not my favorite place in the world, so I guess it was good I didn’t go. White Horse is great though; we should try and go back.
  • Pubnight 5: Ballard: Jolly Roger Taproom University District: Big Time Brewery. Turns out the Jolly Roger is closed on Sunday, so switching locations… Happening this Sunday. Gots to get me some beer before Passover!

Salt: Kosher issues

March 27, 2007
One of the more confusing Kosher for Passover issues is salt; only non-iodized salt is accepted by Conservative and Orthodox authories. Finally found an explanation on why, from

"Salt, however, may not be entirely pure. For example, it may be used as a means of delivering a necessary, but unrelated, nutrient. Goiter, a disease of the thyroid gland, results from a deficiency of iodine in the diet. Fifty years ago, nutrition experts developed iodized salt. Today most table salt contains this nutrient in the form of potassium iodide. Potassium iodide, however, tends to degrade in the presence of moisture; in order to protect the iodine, a small amount of dextrose often is added to the salt to prevent oxidation. While not generally a kashrus concern, dextrose is derived from corn (and sometimes, wheat) starch, and therefore poses an issue for Passover use. It is for this reason that we purchase non-iodized salt for Passover. Ironically, it is the preservative – and not the iodine itself – that poses the problem."

Now why corn isn’t allowed is a completely different discussion, but worthy of further investigation.

Haroset Ideas

March 27, 2007
We’ve been doing some research into Sephardic haroset recipes; there is almost never kitnayot issues, it just comes down to which fruit you focus on (The Sephardic haroset Joelle made for a sample uses dates, for example). Because of the fruit usage, the sephardic version ends up a lot thicker, and is often rolled into balls instead of the big bowl of mush the Ashkenazic versions are.

Well there’s a better idea: a pyramid… it fits the theme and symbolism perfectly.

An image from someone’s flickr site:

Secrets of Eastlake

March 27, 2007

There’s a secret restaurant in Eastlake, apparently no more than a block away from me. This very much makes me want to eat there. The code is being cracked…

As an aside, I had heard they are moving into the Loft building at one point across the alley from us, but that may have just been a rumor, as they are already pretty close.

I am so confused!

Alert me! Changes

March 27, 2007

I used to use MSN Alerts to allow people to be notified of changes to this blog. That no longer appears to work, which is unfortunate. (Update: It still works for some people, but you can no longer sign up new that way).

Thankfully, there are easy ways to get this to work.

Your options are:

  • Sign up using the new Windows Live Alerts. The link is in the upper right hand corner of the page.
  • Use the RSS feed in your RSS reader:
  • If you use MSN Messenger or Windows Live Messenger and I am your friend them, you’ll see an "asterisk" next to my name whenever I post.

Sorry about having to reset this!

Random web thoughts

March 27, 2007
  • – I have been doing a bunch of phone interviews/screens of job applicants, and I have been looking for a good set of advice on how to do these. While this post is written from the applicant’s perspective, it gave me a lot of food for thought on how to do the screening side and what to look for in a candidate – must read if you do phone screens.
  • – Good Seattle food board. I wish they had a Seattle-only section though. I am not so interested in Portland’s food scene.
  • – I use this to build screen scrapers for various friends’ blogs who don’t have RSS feeds (you know who you are!). I can’t stand actually having to visit each website. Pretty easy to use, if you understand regular expressions. Of course, most people don’t, so it’s a non-starter for them. But for me – it’s perfect. and free.
  • – I am not sure what the pingback relationship is between MSN Windows Live Spaces and Bloglines is, but it’s amazingly fast to pick up any posts on it’s RSS Feed list. Nice to know that it keeps up to date so quickly.
  • – That is one large toad! Scary!
  • – I’ve posted on this before… I like it’s stat tracking service – for my usage, I like to be able to get detailed usage and information on every user who visits. That said, what it doesn’t do is track all out-clicks (i.e. what URLs the user clicks on to leave the site). It just tracks one per user. Anyone know of a free metrics service that tracks all out-clicks? Google Analytics doesn’t seem to track any, which is very, very surprising.

A bit on reading

March 27, 2007

I am going to try to make this a recurring post on books I want to read or have just read… Seems like a good way to force me to post and to also provide me a way to remember what I’ve read. Also, if anyone has any advice on what to read next, please let me know!

My general reading style is to read non-fiction more than fiction, and books on politics, history, and Judaism more often than any other topic. Recently I’ve started adding more food-writing into my reading list (such as Jeffrey Steingarten’s It Must Have Been Something I Ate and Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential)

To start with, here’s my current thoughts:

Books I am reading:

  • Where G-d was Born: A Daring Adventure Through the Bible’s Greatest Stories (Bruce Feiler) – I’ve read Walking the Bible and Abraham by the same author; I picked this book up at the airport this past weekend, as I had already zoomed through my other two books on the flight to DC (see the first two listed below), as it falls into the same style of travel-literature combined with Jewish religious exploration. This one focuses on the books later in the Jewish Bible: the Psalms and Prophets, while traveling through Israel, Iraq and Iran.

Books I recently finished:

  • Honeymoon With My Brother (Franz Wisner) – Picked this up at a used book store recently, as it was pretty cheap and Joelle mentioned it sounded like something I would like. A decent travel memoir, if not a great story. Written after a groom was stiffed in the last weeks of wedding planning, he decided to travel on his honeymoon (and then around the world) with his brother taking the place of his bride. They had never really bonded before, so the book describes world travel while going over male bonding. Not a hard read, but I am glad I picked it up.
  • Does the World Need the Jews? (Daniel Gordis) – I picked this up for $2 at a used book store, since Joelle thought I would like it. Fascinating reading, I am really glad to have picked this up. I actually think parts of it on what Jews and Judaism uniquely brings to the world should be required reading for all members of our Jewish generation who struggle with the roles of religion and public activity. I plan on bringing quotes from this book up often in conversations with my group of Kavana friends.
  • The Meaning of Everything: The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (Simon Winchester) – Joelle bought this one for me while down in Portland, as she thought it would be up my alley (notice the theme of my reading list choosers recently!). Which is actually very funny, since I have read 2 other Simon Winchester books, The Map That Changed the World and Professor and the Madman (which is also about the OED). I definitely enjoyed this book; the trial and tribulations to get this book out were worthy of being told by someone of Winchester’s literary talent. My only fault is that he skims over the end-game of publishing way too quickly; he was very focussed on the first 2/3 of the compilation, with almost no focus on the endgame. As a software developer/manager, I know the end-game is often the most difficult part – I was hoping for more here. Still 100% worth reading.

Books I want to read:

  • Harry Potter 7 and the Deathly Hollows (J.K. Rowling) – Release Date July 21, 2007 – Can. Not. Wait. (Note to self: ordered from Amazon for pre-order on 3/27/2007, 2 day free shipping once it releases)
  • Yiddish Policeman’s Union (Michael Chabon) – Release date: May 1, 2007 – I’ve been waiting for this book for a while now; he was supposed to release it a couple of years ago, but it kept getting delayed. What if the Jews had been given Alaska as a homeland? (based off of a true story of 2 US Senators proposing this option). (Note to self: ordered from Amazon for pre-order on 3/27/2007, 2 day free shipping once it releases)
  • Salt: A World History (Mark Kurlansky) – I was once on a date and a couple at the table next to me were talking about this book. The fact that I was listening to their conversation tells you how (un)-interesting my own date was! Even without that, I think the food/history aspect of this book definitely falls within my reading interests. I need to get to this; perhaps a good read for the plane ride over the Atlantic later this year… (Note to self: ordered from Amazon for pre-order on 3/27/2007, 2 day free shipping, shipping now)
  • Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret World of a Food Critic in Disguise (Ruth Reichel) – Everyone I mention Steingarten’s books to suggest reading Reichel, and this is her most popular book, thus, it’s on the list. (Note to self: ordered from Amazon for pre-order on 3/27/2007, 2 day free shipping, shipping now)
  • Send along any suggestions!

Upcoming travel

March 27, 2007
I feel like the next few months are going to be very, very busy on the travel front!
And this isn’t even counting any work travel or any of the wedding-related events happening in Seattle.
  • Last week – a 2 day trip to Washington, D.C. More on this in a separate posting.
  • Mid-April – Vegas for a weekend with the Detroit guys…
  • One week after – Seaside, Oregon with the Seattle guys…
  • First weekend in May – St. Louis for a good friend’s wedding
  • End of May until mid-June – Turkey and Greece (plus a couple hours of layovers in London)

Phew. I am tired already!

Passover 2007

March 27, 2007
Passover is next week – which means I desperately need to do some shopping, as it has a pretty complex set of food laws invalidating nearly everything in my kitchen over the eight day period. To the QFC in U-Village or Albertson’s on Mercer Island!

Looking up some links, might as well post them here for others to check out (and so I can find again).

There is a disagreement between Ashkenazi Jews (historically from Eastern Europe) and Sephardic Jews (from Spain/Portugal) around the use of Kitnayot (often translated as legumes). For Sephardic Jews, you can eat these on Passover. Ashkenazi Jews are forbidden. I had a conversation about this the other night, and here’s a good list of the food at issue (by the way, I am Ashkenazi):

"Kitniot is popularly translated as legumes – but this is not precise.  The Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim 453 defines Kitniot as those seeds and grains that can be cooked and baked in a fashion similar to the five true grains that can become Chametz: Some examples are rice, corn, peas, mustard seed, and the whole bean family (i.e. kidney, lima, garbanzo, etc.). The Torah term for the fermentation of barley, rye, oats, wheat, and spelt is chimutz.  The term given for fermentation of Kitniot is sirchan."

Some Common Kitniot and Kitniot Derivatives (and possibly Chametz)



 Ascorbic Acid
(in corn oil)
(in corn oil)
 Calcium Ascorbate
 Caraway Seeds
 Citric Acid
(possibly Chametz))


(may be Chametz)
 Green Beans
(possibly Chametz)
 Isolated Soy Protein
 Isomerized Syrup
 Mustard Flour


 Poppy Seeds
 Sesame Seeds
 Sodium Erythorbate
 Soy Beans
(commonly Chametz)
 Sunflower Seeds
 Vitamin C


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