Reading, mostly history and biographies, but also fiction. Some of my favorite books:

Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe. Tom Wolfe's best, with A Man in Full running second. His latest, Back to Blood, is disappointing by comparison.

Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach. Space travel looks a lot less appealing after learning about the intricacies of going potty.

Matterhorn, by Karl Marlantes. If you need more evidence for the total madness of the Vietnam war, here it is.

The Big Short, by Michael Lewis. The most entertaining way to understanding the 2008 crash. Too bad his next book, Boomerang,  is such a piece of sh...

Open, by Andre Agassi. He's definitely not a punk - you can see why Steffi fell for him.

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway. I have read many of his boks, and I love his style.

The Affair, by Lee Child. One of more than a dozen Jack Reacher novels. They are like potato chips - you can't just have one.

George, Nicholas and Wilhelm - Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War 1, by Miranda Carter. GWB is not the first, and not the best argument against hereditary leadership.

Three Day Road, by Joseph Boyden. Two Native Canadians thrown into trench WW1 trench warfare.

Methland, by Nick Reding. And you thought drugs were just for hippies? All is not well in the heartland.

The Glory and the Dream: American History 1934-1974, by William Manchester. Starts with a very powerful and moving description of the Great Depression,

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan. A great book about the Great Depression.

Dreadnought : Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War, by Robert Massie. Great Characters: Winston Churchill and First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher ("We have to be ruthless, relentless, and remorseless".)

Path Between the Seas: the Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914 , by David G. McCullough. Has a Pacific Northwest Connection: John Stevens, the railroad engineer who succeeded in digging the Culebra Cut, also built the railroad crossing the Cascade Mountains at Stevens Pass.

The Power Broker : Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro. Robert Moses was ruthless, relentless, and remorseless.  Caro has written other great books, for example a multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson.

Rising Tide : The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America , by John M. Barry.

The Pity of War, by Niall Ferguson. A book about the Great War that's different. Doesn't talk about battles and Army Corps, but about fundamentals: How did trench warfare come to be, how was the war financed, etc.

Bonfire of the Vanities and A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe.

The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. What would happen with NYC if people suddenly disappeared.

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger, by Marc Levinson. It's amazing how a fairly simple idea can change the world (and the NYC waterfront).

Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines by Richard A. Muller. Want to know why there are no electric or hydrogen powered cars? Here's your answer.

The Best and the Brightest, by David Halberstam. A warning for future generations. How the lust for power and prestige and the lack of time to think makes smart people stupid.

The Post-American World by Fareed Zakaria. Forget about all this "End of History" bs.

Madness on the Couch: Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis by Edward Dolnick. You didn't really think Freud was a scientist?

The Ice Storm: A Novel by Rick Moody. If you are watching Mad Men, you will like the Ice Storm. There were downsides to the golden 50s.

Picasso: Creator and Destroyer, by Arriana Huffington. Whatever you think about the Huffington Post - she is a great writer.

Loyal Subject, by Heinrich Mann. The 2nd World War was terrible, but it did sweep away the dueling scars and boots and monocles.

The History of Germany Since 1789 by Golo Mann. He's got the big picture. His style, though, is very "German" - not clear how that will come across in translation.

Good Soldier Schweik by Jaroslav Hasek. Life under the Habsburg KuK monarchy - hilarious.

Mars by Fritz Zorn and Robert & Rita Kimber.  A Swiss autobiography; created a huge stir in Zurich when it came out. It's not all happy cows and cuckoo clocks.

Made in Detroit - A South of 8 Mile Memoir by Paul Clemens. The fall of Detroit - America's first post-industrial city.


Cooking, mostly Italian.

One of my favorite recipes: Bean soup, from Marcella Hazan's Italian Cookbook - simple and quick to make, inexpensive, and extremely tasty. I usually make a big batch and freeze it in individual portions. Recipe below makes about a dozen servings.


Saute the garlic in the olive oil, until slightly golden. Add the parsley and stir a few times. Add the drained beans and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Mash about a third to half of the beans. Add beef broth to get the desired consistency. Cook for another 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Goes great with lamb or pork chops!


Here is another great recipe, Poonie's Icky Sticky Date Dessert, from the Rimrock Cafe in Whistler, BC. This dessert sets totally new standards for richness.


Boil the first three ingredients together for five minutes or until the mixture starts to turn brown and thicken slightly. Pour half of this sauce into a eight inch springform pan that has first been lined with buttered aluminum foil. Reserve the rest of the sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pit the dates and place in a bowl with the baking soda. Pour over the boiling water and allow to cool. Combine the butter, extra sugar, and vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is creamed. Add the egg and stir in the date mixture. Mix together the flour and baking powder and fold through until everything is evenly incorporated. Pour into the lined pan and bake for 30 minutes, then decrease oven temperature to 315 degrees and bake for another 60 minutes.

Serve piping hot with reserved butterscotch sauce. Maybe add a dollop of vanilla ice cream to each serving.


Goat cheese popovers - makes a simple and tasty appetizer

Cowgirl Chili

2#'s ground beef
4 large cans chopped tomatoes
1 potato for soaking
2 packages pinto beans, soaked overnight and cooked to directions (put 1 potato cut in half in
water when soaking)
2 bottles dark beer
2 chopped onions
4 stalks celery
2 chopped green peppers
grated cheddar cheese
chili powder

Brown meat and onions
add celery and peppers and brown
Put all ingredients except beans in a large pot and cook for 1 hour
Add beans and cook another 15 minutes

Sprinkle chili with cheddar cheese when serving


Tracy's Raspberry Jello (you won't believe it' s low-cal)

1 small package no sugar raspberry jello
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup cold water
1 cup non-fat cool-whip
6 oz (or so) frozen raspberries

Put jello and boiling water in blender; blend till jello dissolves. Add cold water and blend. Add raspberries and blend. Add cool-whip and blend. Pour into dish and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Top with cool-whip when serving.


Sports, in particular bicycling, skiing, and squash.

The pinnacle of my athletic "career": the Ramrod ("Ride around Mount Rainier in one day"). We took twice as long as the winning time, but hey, just sitting on a bike for 15 hours is an achievement.