Monthly Archives: May 2006

Nerding out on Bill Frisell

Surprisingly cool- jazz guitar, some country/bluegrass, some world music. Nothing threatening or overly challenging, but none of the typical sappiness or cop-out resolutions of smooth jazz. Am shuffling through East/West, Good Dog, Happy Man, and The Intercontinentals at the moment.

Links to Amazon or iTunes (the iTunes link may not work on Windows).

New caffeine delivery tools

Charles and Lee 04

Charles came up last night for dinner and general hanging-out. We spent a little time on my new kitchen acquisitions- a Rancilio Silvia espresso maker and associated Rocky grinder (photos here). I think this is a current icon of the techno-yuppie set- the combination is not cheap ($700 for the pair), there are numerous instructions around for hacking Silvia with excruciatingly accurate temperature controllers, it delivers addictively good cappuccino, and there’s plenty of room for nerding out at even higher levels.

Charles brought up another techno-yuppie item, a Nikon D100 digital SLR. I love the feel of an SLR, even though it took me a minute to remember how to manually zoom (“where’s the zoom buttons?”). But I’m really not looking forward to learning yet another interface, and retooling for bigger image files. Access to RAW files is attractive, though; the ability to change exposure and white balance in Photoshop, versus in real-time on the camera, is WAY cool. Time-consuming, but cool.

At Esalen for Patricia’s birthday

Patricia and I drove down to Esalen on the Big Sur coast for her birthday- left Friday, back Sunday evening. It was a good trip, including the Nepenthe gift shop (am three for three in finding interesting clothing there, plus a birthday gift for Patricia).

We just hung out for the weekend eating, sleeping, and soaking, no seminars. Met Wes Niskar (Scoop), teaching on Zen for Cynics, and Ayo from LA, doing a weekend on African percussion, with a side hobby of sitting through timeshare sales pitches for sport and profit.

Esalen is interesting- larger than I thought, more of a community (150 guests plus a reported 150 staff and seminar leaders), less new-age Californian. It doesn’t stand out as it used to; much of its sensibility has been absorbed into the general population. It feels like a summer camp for adults- a mix of 20-somethings working there, and older yuppies who can afford the seminar fees and like the subject matter.

The mineral baths are a much bigger deal than I realized. They have the coolest tub house I’ve seen- luscious smooth concrete construction, tasteful arches and shapes, infinity pools overlooking the ocean, tile floors heated by spring water. I’m not much for soaking, but this was cool.

Esalen has an interesting history, starting as Slates Hot Springs, their geographical name, though it looks like they have changes ahead. They have a named massage style (which everyone else in the world probably already knows). I found it much more stretchy and connecting than other massages I’ve had.

And… googling on another aspect of Esalen, apparently the #1 pickup line in the old tubs was “I really love your energy.”

The view down the coast from Nepenthe’s deck (or “view”, given all the coastal fog recently):