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July 31, 1998
a year ago

Chinese Dinner

The day was warm, but not overbearing like the previous days. We were really busy at work, as things were laid out to a Plan, and so we just worked a lot. There will likely be this kind of work for the next three weeks. The VP has decided that our piece is going into the next release. Cause for both celebration and, on my part, a bit of trepidation. Lots of work to still get done.

We had a friendly, last minute dinner with Bob and his wife Mai at a local Chinese restaurant named Yeh's Wok, which the two of them go to frequently. They know the menu pretty well, and we had wanted to share the experience of the restaurant with them because it's a very good one and I can't read the Chinese menu. Mai both knew how to read the menu and had spoken with the owner and the staff for quite some time, so John and I were fairly sure we were in good hands.

The restaurant had a 45 minute wait when we got there. We had stayed late at work, trying to get things done, and since three of the four of us were all in it together the dinner time got pushed back simply to get a few more things done. So by the time we were actually called we were just starving. It turns out that the restaurant usually starts to back up around 5:30 p.m. and stays that way until well after 10:30 p.m.. They do a really good business. So, we picked up a pager from their front desk, and wandered off to the local Starbucks, sat down with some drinks and talked for a while.

We should probably talk some more. There are depths to the conversations with the Hamilton's that we don't usually get with most people. Some of that is Mai's Chinese background, which I don't keep in touch with all that well but is the basis of how I am built. Small things keep reminding me of all of things that connect me to others of Chinese descent. Everything from case for a certain kind of food to a particular choice of phrasing. There are a lot of things I could probably learn from Mai, and there are many things that I might be able to express in English for her.

Dinner itself was excellent. We had two dishes off the main menu which I had seen before. One was the tea-smoked duck, and the other was the eggplant in brown sauce with plenty of garlic. One of the other dishes was one that Mai wouldn't discuss, and Bob calling 'pork entrails cooked in pork blood', when it was actually something more like cubes of a tofu-consistency black pudding from pork's blood lightly fried with strips of pork stomach and intestine all lightly coated with a very spicy sauce. It was delicious, chewy and rich in texture and flavor. It was served in a metal dish with its own burner, and kept hot. The fourth was a summer special, various vegetables sauted with a particular style of Chinese ham. The ham was redolent with smoke and rich with flavor, so it flavored the entire dish, even though there really wasn't that much of it within it.

It turned out that the restaurant was very overcrowded, so we had to share a large banquet table with another party. It was really amusing to see what they ordered compared to what we had. Three of the four dishes were extremely Americanized, and the fourth was a black bean prawn dish. What amused me even more was that they paid more for their simplified dishes then we did for ours. Though, admittedly, we wouldn't have gotten the summer special without Mai's conversation with the waiter.

The dinner itself was most excellent, and afterwards we went back to Bob's house and stood for a while in the garage to talk about cars, and where we were going with the project. It was a balmy night, fairly warm, so it was comfortable to be outside.

It was interesting and cool to just stand and talk in the twilight, just voices in the darkness, listening, thinking, replying. John and Bob have a good thing going, lots of banter. It reminded me, in some ways of Raven and John playing back and forth with words

We rode home in the Stoat, silent still. And sleep was easy in the coolness of the night, compared with the heat of the last several days.

Brought to you by Dragon System's NaturallySpeaking.

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