Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Dragon Tattoo Thing

Like many Gen-Xers,* in addition to my semi-meaningless faux-tribal tramp stamp and a culturally misappropriated Chinese character, I sport a dragon tattoo.

Chinese Dragon Tattoo
It stretches across 2/3 of my midriff, is black with red flames, was selected from a book of flash, and is completely awesome. Even buried under the 17 layers of clothes necessitated by the Bay Area summer fog, I am happier just knowing it is there.

My dragon tattoo is a part of me, in more than the literal “ink on skin” sense. My dragon is an external sign of my inner being, the strength of my resolve and the fire of my passions on display. Rather than wearing my heart on my sleeve, I wear my attitude on my belly.

I acquired my dragon, whimsically named Winifred, in a tattoo parlor in San Francisco's Castro District in February 2003,** to celebrate my 4th wedding anniversary. Or, at least, that was what I thought at the time.

Within a year, I began to develop the symptoms of what would finally be diagnosed as Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis and a genetic disease.*** These symptoms, oddly enough, were largely concentrated in the vicinity of my tattoo. Odd, at least to me, because I had previously envisioned that particular design on my shoulder and had decided on the ultimate placement only days before my appointment.

My dragon was my dancing, cheerful companion during the weekly self-injections of an increasingly ineffective wonder drug. Though I had to inject the medicine into my belly, I never pierced my dragon with the needle. It was less that I was concerned about ruining the design than out of a sense of respect/affection. Eventually, in spite of the injections, the pain became debilitating.

When a benign tumor – a major contributing factor to my discomfort – eventually was discovered, it was located directly beneath my dragon's feet, as is the scar I now bear. By the doctor's estimation, I'd had the tumor about 10 years. The surgery to remove it was performed just days before my 10th wedding anniversary. Since then, the symptoms of my arthritis have been greatly reduced and more easily managed, affording me the health and energy to once again pursue my passions.

I realize it may sound like the too-trite end to some early Stephen King short story, but I firmly believe the choice and placement of that particular symbol were expressions of an inner knowledge not yet recognized by my everyday consciousness. I believe it was a cry for help – an expression of the growing physical concern and the imminent need for the power, strength and good fortune Chinese dragons have traditionally symbolized.

Whether it was prescience or ultimately just a coincidence, my dragon tattoo has become a daily reminder that I have gifts and limitations, motivations and information of which my “rational” mind may not even be aware. It is an external sign that I am more than who and what I “think” I am.

Dragon Lady
Serpent's fire belly
Cosmic wings on my back
Fortune at my shoulder

I chase the wind,
Sail the sea, ride the sky,
Fall eternally, never crashing

I am eternal.
I am carbon, elemental.
I am more than I can know.

Today's exercise: Expose your inner self... to yourself.

Next: Maybe I'll get all philosophic-like about my navel ring...


*The secret to selling anything to Generation X: Lead us to believe that we see some aspect of ourselves in whatever it is you're selling. It was not an accident that the hard cover of the final Stieg Larsson book is self-reflecting shiny silver. It was, in fact, not even subtle. (And, yes, I bought it... I just looked so darned pretty...)

**Predating the “Lisbeth” books, thankyouverymuch. (Also, I got my Kawasaki in 2001, FWIW.)

***No pity requested, required, or accepted. I would, however, prefer it were a little easier to spell.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Scream, You Scream

Rejoice, rejoice! Again, I say rejoice! For July is National Ice Cream Month! Huzzah!

To commemorate this auspicious and tasty occasion, The Yummish Council is proud to announce a new Yummish Saint: Ernest Hamwi

As legend has it, during the 1904 World's Fair, Syrian pastry chef Ernest Hamwi operated a food stall where he sold thin, crisp, waffle-patterned pastries known as “zalabia,” when his neighbor, an ice cream vendor, ran out of serving dishes. In a flash of Yummish inspiration, Mr. Hamwi grabbed a hot zalabia and quickly rolled a tight, fat one, thus saving the day and inventing the ice cream cone.

Not only did Mr. Hamwi's invention further the very worthy cause of the “portable dessert,” it was a notable achievement in a field that we Yummish feel has yet to be mined for its full potential – edible serving dishes. Who wouldn't rather enjoy a tasty post-dinner treat rather than washing dishes? It would add a whole new dimension to joining “The Clean Plate Club.” And talk about compostable! 

It is only fair to mention, that, in grand hagiographic tradition, this story may be completely apocryphal, as in 1903 a man named Italo Marchiony received the first patent on pastry cups used for serving ice cream. However, like many other faiths, we Yummish are not inclined to let fact hinder a good story. Plus, we're sort of in a hurry to wrap this thing up before we miss the ice cream truck. Ting a ling!

Today's exercise: Grab a cone and fill 'er up!

Next: Who can say... I'm too busy trying decide between chocolate or vanilla... or maybe a scoop of each!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.

On July 16, 1969, these three brave mortals strapped themselves to the top of a modified ballistic weapon, and, leaving behind them the entirety of human culture and history, rode a trail of fire into a sky of infinite darkness.

They returned 8 days later, the sole masters of a new world and the three greatest explorers humankind had yet known.

To call them Yummish Saints would be almost an insult. We, instead, humbly refer to these great men as Yummish Demigods.

It is hard to say which would have been more daunting: to be the only two humans (or carbon based life forms, for that matter) amidst the moon's "Magnificent desolation,” or to, entirely by oneself, travel as far from your home planet as any other human ever had (or has).

Where does a person find the courage to take the risk; to trust the technology, the other people with his life? Where does one find the strength to say goodbye to everyone he's ever known and to leave, not just his own home, but our species' home, very possibly forever? Imagine the bravery required to take that first step onto alien soil, not really knowing what might be waiting for you in the darkness, and knowing there was a chance that you may never leave.  

It may have since become a cliché, but Tom Wolfe had it right when he coined the term. If ever anyone has had it, the crew of Apollo 11 had “the right stuff.”

This Saturday, July 16, 2011, marks the 42nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. As anyone familiar with the significance of the number 42 knows, the best piece of advice one can receive regarding space travel is “Don't Panic.” Thankfully for us all, these great men never did.

Today's exercise: Spend a moment geeking out over the unadulterated coolness of the Apollo program.

Next: Sort of depends on what happens on the Council's motorcycle ride this weekend.  Talk about your land rocket... Bayerische Motoren Werke Motorrad, baby!

Friday, July 8, 2011

An Important (and messy) Message from YARP

New from the Yummish Advanced Research Project (YARP):


4 lb. pork ribs
1/8 cup molasses
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
3 1/2 Tbsp. liquid smoke
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 chiles Colorado, dried
6 – 10 slices of jalapeno pepper
3/4 cup cola*
2 cups barbecue sauce**

*Recommended: Mexican Coke
Coat inside of 4-5 quart slow cooker with olive oil.

Cut ribs into 3-bone sections.
Mix together molasses, salt, black pepper, liquid smoke and garlic in a shallow dish. Coat ribs with mixture.
Layer ribs, bell pepper, and/or onion in slow cooker.
Snap stems off of chiles Colorado and discard half of the seeds.
Add chiles Colorado and jalapenos to slow-cooker.
Pour cola over all.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours or until tender.
Remove ribs from slow cooker.
Drain and discard liquid.

**Recommended: Bulls-Eye Guinness Draught Beer Blend
Pour barbecue sauce into shallow bowl.
Dip ribs into sauce. 
Return ribs to slow cooker. 
Pour any remaining sauce over ribs.
Cover and cook on low heat setting for 1 hour. 


Today's exercise: Get cooking!

Next: That “To Kill A Mockingbird” post. Really and for true, this time. I think.