‘Alice’s Egg Spoon’ is a hand-forged iron spoon perfectly calibrated for frying an egg in the fireplace or over a gas flame. In 2004, when Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters (Permanent Collection co-founder, Fanny’s mother) read William Rubel’s The Magic of Fire: Hearth Cooking, she asked a blacksmith friend named Angelo Garro to make a spoon to cook an egg in the coals. The iconic spoon quickly became one of the items most identified with Alice’s kitchen and cuisine.
A large earthquake off the coast of Alaska last night set off tsunami warnings (that were later cancelled) up and down the West Coast of the United States. Residents on Alameda, the island in the San Francisco Bay where I live, were all curious why we never got any warning waking us out of our beds. The answer was that there never was enough of a threat but I was curious enough to do a little research and found that others had asked in the past so I’d thought I’d summarize and post what I found for future reference.
As you can see in the simulation of a 16 foot tsunami in the video above, most of the energy of the of the wave is absorbed by the Pacific coastline and dissipates as it tries to squeeze through the Golden Gate. A more detailed video can be found here.
By the time the wave reaches Alameda, most of the energy is gone but there is still some danger from flooding. California has posted a full set of Tsunami Inundation Maps that are a useful resource. I pulled together the relevant section for Alameda.
Luckily, there’s a lengthy study published in 2016 on tsunami evacuations that used Alameda as case study. The study looks at three types of tsunami events with the most severe being one in which the waters would cover the island as in the illustration above. While the advance does cover much of the island, the study concludes,
One mitigating factor is that potential sources associated with a Zone 3 evacuation are likely distant earthquakes only and expected tsunami arrival times of 4 h or more should provide sufficient time to implement a successful evacuation before wave arrival.
This has to do with the geologic faults that are off the coast of California. Back again to the Bay Curious post linked at the top.
Tsunamis are caused when one tectonic plate slides underneath another — a process called subduction. This slow movement is happening all the time, but sometimes a plate will get stuck and pressure starts to build. When it finally lets go, there’s an underwater earthquake that can move the seafloor up and down, sending a wave to the surface of the ocean.
But the San Andreas Fault is different. It’s called a slip-strike fault because the two plates slide past each other horizontally. Of course, whenever plates move, the ground shakes. But here, there is no subduction and little displaced ocean.
Meaning no killer tsunamis. Even San Francisco’s infamous 1906 earthquake generated only a 4-inch wave at the Presidio gauge station.
So there you have it. If you get a tsunami warning that is something to worry about, you’ll have a couple of hours to make your way to Park Street or the Alameda Theatre parking structure where you can get a view and watch the wave come in.
Indulge me in a bit of wistful sappiness on the day of Tyler’s graduation from high school. Two photos, one taken on the first day of kindergarten and another graduating from high school. In between, the Surly you Know letter his 7th grade teacher had each parent write (thx, Ms. Moody !) for safekeeping.
Surely You Know
for Tyler Kennedy
Surely you know what it’s like to be the parent of a seventh grader. It means cajoling, prodding, poking, tickling, then finally pleading to wake the boy from his slumber. Each morning.
It’s the sudden realization that the young boy with the easy smile and laugh is growing into a man. It means that the clock is ticking and that, before long, he will be out the door, asking for the car keys.
Surely you know that the questions that he asks no longer have black or white answers, that you now need to teach nuance, perspective, and circumstance.
Surely you know that seventh grade has lots and lots of homework. That you can no longer be spontaneous with family events and must first check with the your busy scholar.
Surely you know that homework these days is now done on a computer and that resources such as the internet are required to complete assignments. This being the case, you would then know that one of the hardest things to teach your seventh grader is how to focus on their assignments, that Minecraft, YouTube, or the latest distraction of the month needs to stay off the screen until they are done.
Surely you know it means backing off and trusting that he’ll manage his own schedule, his own free time, and his own free will. It means that you need to take your hand off the stick and trust that the lessons you’ve taught him will guide him. As you did when teaching him to walk, it means letting him stumble, and sometimes fall. But always looking from afar.
Surely you know that being the parent of a seventh grader means that it’s time to begin to let go. That you can no longer tell him what to do, that he needs to start telling that to himself.
Media coverage was thick and fast as it was a slow news day in Trumpland and everyone was looking for a bit of comic relief on a Friday after a busy week. Taiwan-based expat Ben Thompson has the best scene-by-scene breakdown.
It had me in tears.
UPDATE: Here’s an interview with the analyst Robert Kelly and his wife Kim Jung-A on the chaos that lead to the “comedy of errors” and how their life changed when the video received 84 million views
One of the local sushi restaurants, Kamakura, suffered a fire a few weeks ago and people have been writing letters to the local paper in support of the restaurant, it’s staff, and the beloved owner, the 92-year old Faith Yamato.
Today’s Alameda Journal has the following story which gives you a sense of Faith and the spirit of the place.
Faith Yamato is a beloved figure in our neighborhood and our lives, and, if I might, I want to share a story: We moved to Alameda six years ago, and my 84-year-old father was already unwell. We lived with him and wouldn’t know until a year later that we would have him in home hospice and he would be gone a few weeks after that. We took him out to Kamakura with some relatives who were visiting and Ms. Yamato was in her usual station, dispensing Botan candy for the kids, writing her signature birthday cards for the evening.
Dad had had a fairly crippling stroke some years earlier, and though he was always brave and positive about it, he had never fully regained the use of his right hand. As you might imagine, this made using chopsticks pretty challenging for him. But being the man he was, he wasn’t going to complain or ask for help, and we knew better than to bring it up in a way that would embarrass him.
Halfway through the meal, a waitress came out to my dad and said: “Excuse me sir, we have a new salad we would like you to try, and this is complements of the house.” She put a plate in front of him of the fine seaweed salad that was a Kamakura favorite. I was confused for a minute, until I saw what was discreetly placed on the dish. It was a fork.
I learned a lot about service that night, that it’s essence is giving someone what they need without their having to ask you for it and without needing credit for your action.
I looked inquiringly at Faith, and she never looked up from her colored pens and birthday cards. I knew she was behind it.
Kamakura is closed indefinitely while they rebuild. The restaurant is insured but they estimate the damage to the over $250k and while the restaurant is closed, the staff are obviously not being paid. If you’d like to pitch in to support Faith and the staff of Kamakura, there’s a Go Fund Me page set up by another businessman in Alameda.
Each year the guys on my block take turns dressing up as Father Christmas and sit out on a sled in the median on our street asking kids who line up each night between 6:30 and 8 chatting about their hopes and dreams for Christmas morning. It’s a tradition that goes back to the 30’s and one that allows for me to take the pulse of the in toys for the season.
Here’s my unofficial survey of what’s popular in 2016.
Pokemon cards are back! Several kids asked for specific decks of this old school game which is experiencing a comeback no doubt due to their older siblings who are playing it again on their phones. Pikachu stuffed dolls and other characters from the game were a close runner up. Props to the kid that insisted (much to the frustration of his mother) on posing for his Santa photo with his poke-ball.
Playstation 4 beats out the XBox. There was also one mention of a Nintendo DS.
iPhones were mentioned a few times with one girl asking specifically for the iPhone 7. One kid also asked for a GoPro. No mention of any Android devices or Apple Watches.
One kid asked for a Nerf Gun and the parent’s and I did a double-take when we heard his younger sister say she wanted a, “shotgun” but she later clarified that it was a Shuriken. Best to stay clear of that house on Christmas morning.
There were several wishes for a dog and one boy that wanted a swimming frog while his sister hoped for “birds in a cage” but the prize for the best wish goes to the little girl who is wishing for a flying turtle. The father and I exchanged a panicked look and I said something about “seeing what I could do” – maybe her dad can rig up a drone or something, he’s got his work cut out for him.
It was in this spirit that a group of “guerrilla artists” carefully installed beautifully-crafted replicas of famous lighthouses around Alameda Island where I live. There was no explanation, no release party, just a curious mention in the local paper of a Lighthouse Model Assemblers Organization (LMAO) written by a Honorable Admiral Banyan Azimuth, (Retired) Most shrugged it off as an April Fool’s prank but upon further investigation, after spotting another lighthouse on the other end of the Island, further layers of the onion peeled away and it was very, very real.
We take our performance art seriously here. If Chicken John runs for mayor, he is not only doing it to have some fun but also to make a statement. My journey to uncover the four lighthouses of Alameda took me to the nether corners of the Island all along the coastline into hidden corners and pocket parks that I didn’t know existed. I discovered that Alameda was a major destination for steamships bringing fruit to North America where they were packaged by Del Monte before being loaded on to the trans-continental railway. The puzzle forced me to reach out to others to try and connect the dots.
Art exercises the mind, public art exercises society.
My progress was tracked until finally a totem was left on my front doorstep. Later, I received a text message asking for my presence at an awards ceremony where I, along with Eddie Cruz, another local Alameda resident, were presented with secret elixers and a ceremonial chalice while we were inducted into the Alameda Lighthouse Appreciation Society (ALAS). There is a group of elves in Alameda, at play with the world around us. If you want to join them, leave a note below and they will find you.
Barbara Lee is my Congresswoman. She was the lone voice of reason who, in the wake of September 11th, questioned the language around the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which was drafted in response the the terrorist attacks because there was no one we could declare war upon.
Radiolab did a podcast on this moment in history and her lone vote of protest and you can hear her speech here. I am proud to have her represent me in Congress.
After delivering a print out of my previous post summarizing all my notes and theories (thank you everyone who chipped in their ideas) I found this on my front door step. Written on the side was the phrase
et respondendum est quod
which translates to, “and the answer is that”
I still haven’t quite figured out the translation of the riddle that made up the phrases on the side of each lighthouse. I’ll leave that for another day. Tonight I raise a glass to the Honorable Admiral Banyan Azimuth. Thank you for making life interesting.
About a month back I read with interest a strange article in our local paper. The byline was from a Hon. Admiral Banyan Azimuth, Retired and it described a mysterious society, acronyms, a puzzle, and hidden treasure. All good material for a quest.
The Alameda Lighthouse Appreciation Society (ALAS) has collaborated with the North American Lighthouse Regents (NALR) in Fort Digby, Manitoba, as well as the Nordic and Icelandic Lighthouse Guild (NILG) in Reykjavik, Iceland and the El Faro la Luz de la Admiracion Surtido in Yelapa, Mexico to bring a variety of mini-masterpieces to the fair Island City. Four scaled-down lighthouses (one for each point of the compass) ranging from four- to six-feet tall will be calling various obscure locations in Alameda home for the month of April.
No more information will be related on this rare and iconic installation, so Alamedans will be left to their own devices, ingenuity and cunning to locate these glowing treasures, and to break their ancient code. All April Foolishness aside, residents who decode the lighthouse mystery could win a prize.
Despite the fact that the article mentions that the lighthouses were made by a groups called the Lighthouse Model Assemblers Organization which spells LMAO, and that the article was published on April 1st, I set out to see if I could find any of the mentioned lighthouses. To my surprise, I did spot one fairly quickly, over near the bike bridge that takes you from Alameda Island over to Harbor Bay. After several more afternoons of exploring the Alameda coastline, I have discovered two more of the four model lighthouses mentioned above.
Each lighthouse, they stand about 4 feet tall, has what looks like Latin phrasing on the side. They read:
maria _ _ vitas _ _ et _ _ inimicum _ _ non _ _ est _
_ aspera _ replete _ macilentum _ _ portus _ desset _ _ casus _
_ _ iter _ _ est _ temporibus _ sed _ copia _.
It looks like phrases from a poem of some sort. Using Google Translate, I put in the English translations below each phrase:
maria _ _ vitas _ _ et _ _ inimicum _ _ non _ _ est _ Maria _ _ lives _ _ and _ _ enemy _ _ not _ _ is _
_ aspera _ replete _ macilentum _ _ portus _ desset _ _ casus _ _ rough _ fill _ lean _ _ port _ benefit _ _ case _
_ _ iter _ _ est _ temporibus _ sed _ copia _. _ _ journey _ _ east _ the times _ but _ store _.
The cities and organization names listed in the article are curious too:
Alameda Lighthouse Appreciation Society (ALAS) in Alameda, California
North American Lighthouse Regents (NALR) in Fort Digby, Manitoba
Nordic and Icelandic Lighthouse Guild (NILG) in Reykjavik, Iceland
El Faro la Luz de la Admiracion Surtido in Yelapa, Mexico
I mapped each location as best as I could (as far as I could tell, there is no Fort Digby in Manitoba) but that didn’t help.
And here I am stumped. Can anyone push this forward?
UPDATE: There was a suggestion from Nancy (see comments below) that the style of lighthouse might and its location might provide a clue. Here’s where I found the three that I have located. Could these perhaps be replicas of actual lighthouses that exist in real locations?
Acting on a tip from a sharp-eyed reader (thanks Mike Schmitz) I found the last lighthouse on the corner of Moreland and Fernside. What threw me is that it wasn’t even on the water, casting its glow into the passing traffic.
The text beside it reads:
May the staff of Orin & the Eye of Isis light your way
To find my 3 brothers, search for a Bridge, a Port, & a Southern Shore
The Bridge was the one next to the blue bicycle bridge to Harbor Bay (Southeast), the Port was across from the Port of Oakland (Northwest), and the Southern Shore was by the Encinal boat ramp (Southwest).
Mystery solved, I printed out this blog post and put it into an envelope and dropped it off addressed to the Hon. Admiral Banyan Azimuth and the kind person who answered the door promised to deliver it tomorrow.
Thank you everyone who pitched in to solve this mystery. It was truly a group effort.