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Monday, December 22, 2003

A Little More from the Weekend 

Sunday was a pretty sedate day: read the paper, go to the farmer's market and the grocery store, panda watch, pay bills, etc. The trip to the grocery was the first big grocery shopping we've done since the UFCW began informational pickets at D.C.-area Safeways. We usually go to Safeway because it's in our neighborhood, but this time we drove up to the Giant in Greenbelt. Although it doesn't look too good after management rejected union offers late last week, Kroger's did sign a new agreement with workers in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio, so hopefully an agreement will get worked out in the Safeway strike out west and the agreement can be used to avoid a full-blown here when the local contracts are up in the spring.

The pandas are doing well. Tian Tian is acting a little odd, however, spending a lot of time pacing and ignoring some food (he's still excited for honey and biscuits, but it takes him a while to get to his bamboo). It's probably hormonal, although too early for him to be coming into rut, so who knows. The keeper said he had a few stretch of a few days like this last winter (maybe he's nervous about whether he's on Santa's naughty or nice list), so he's likely to return to normal until it gets closer to breeding season in April or so.

Two things I forgot from Saturday: That evening, around 9:00 p.m., Evelin and I heard a lot of sirens moving slowly through the neighborhood. We'd been hearing them in the distance for an hour or so, and when we looked out the window, what to our wondering eyes should appear, but two police cars and a hook-and-ladder truck (no tiny reindeer). Santa was atop the truck waving to all as he passed. We tore open the shutter and threw up the sash, and waved and waved and laughed and laughed. (Apologies to Henry Livingston Jr. and anyone who had to read that.)

Also, while at the National Museum of Natural History, I found another single-source chocolate — Jamieson’s 100% Ghana Cocoa Bean Chocolate. Unlike the Cocovic dark chocolate bars I found at Trader Joe's, the Jamieson bar was "rich milk chocolate" (37.8% cocoa solids). This made it a bit harder to tease out the elements of the chocolate that could be attributed to the terroir, but there was a bit of fruitiness that was nice to the bar. It would probably go well with something raspberry. According to the Jamieson’s website, they do sell a Robust Dark (70% cocoa solids) and a Mellow Dark (60% cocoa solids), as well as a few milk chocolates. (The Rich Milk one they were selling at Natural History is the least chocolate of the line, based on percent of cocoa solids; I guess the Smithsonian doesn't think its gift shops could get away with selling more hard-core chocolate or something.)

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