Monday, February 28, 2011

My adventures in tea culture

For years, I'd watched my tea sensei, Shortchenpa, fix a cup of tea during meetings, but I never dove in. I was strictly an English/Irish tea drinker, black teas, orange pekoe, on adventurous days, maybe some Earl Gray. And of course, milk. Then, a couple of years ago, on a trip to San Francisco, I stopped in at the Vital Tea Leaf:

Vital Tea Leaf, San Francisco (2008)

I was there with by BHL fellow traveller, Chris. We had just finished up some good meetings at the Internet Archive and walked from the (old) Presidio offices of the Archive, down Lombard, all the way to Coit Tower, and then up through North Beach (stopping in at City Lights were I picked up an autographed Lawrence Ferlinghetti volume), and then to China Town. That's quite a walk (If I may say so) and we took advantage of the extensive tea tasting offered by Vital Tea Leaf. I was hooked.

Chris and me, Vital Tea Leaf, San Franciso (2008)

My next chance for some good tea time was on a trip to Taiwan (February 2009). For my excursion, I'd planned to go to the tea growing area near Taipei, but ended up on an even more exciting trip to the north coast of the island to the artsy village tucked in the mountains, Jiufen. There, in addition to my first experience (positive) of stinky tofu, I had my introduction to Taiwan's famous Tie Guanyin Tea ("Iron Goddess") at the Jioufen Teahouse.

Jioufen Teahouse, Jiufen, Taipei (2009)

Just a few months ago, while in Beijing, I had lots of great tea (including the bottomless cup of tea served by the "tea ladies" during meetings at the Chinese Academy of Sciences/Institute of Botany). I also needed to bring some oolongs and Jasmine pearls home, so I did a tea tasting at Ten Fu's Tea / right near my hotel.

Ten Fu Tea, Beijing (2010)

I go back to Vital Tea Leaf in San Francisco whenever I have a chance and enjoy Uncle Gee putting on a show. Of course, right here in Washington, we have a very nice tea store, Teaism, that also has a nice restaurant attached.

Vital Tea Leaf, San Francisco (2010)

Vital Tea Leaf, San Francisco (2008)

New red US official passport arrived today

Now can travel very officially on Her Majesty's Secret Service,  oops, that would be James Bond.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sushi at Kanpai

Linked Open Data - Libraries Archives Museums

I’m honored to be part of the organising committee for the International Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives, and Museums Summit that will take place this June 2-3, 2011 in San Francisco, California, USA. There’s still time to apply until February 28th, and funding is available to help cover travel costs.

The International Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives, and Museums Summit (“LOD-LAM”) will convene leaders in their respective areas of expertise from the humanities and sciences to catalyze practical, actionable approaches to publishing Linked Open Data, specifically:
Identify the tools and techniques for publishing and working with Linked Open Data.
Draft precedents and policy for licensing and copyright considerations regarding the publishing of library, archive, and museum metadata. Publish definitions and promote use cases that will give LAM staff the tools they need to advocate for Linked Open Data in their institutions. For more information see
The principal organiser/facilitator is Jon Voss (@LookBackMaps), Founder of LookBackMaps, along with Kris Carpenter Negulescu, Director of Web Group, Internet Archive, who is project managing.

Here's the rest of the Organising Committee:

  • Lisa Goddard (@lisagoddard), Acting Associate University Librarian for Information Technology, Memorial University Libraries.
  • Martin Kalfatovic (@UDCMRK), Assistant Director, Digital Services Division at Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Deputy Project Director of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
  • Mark Matienzo (@anarchivist), Digital Archivist in Manuscripts and Archives at the Yale University Library.
  • Mia Ridge (@mia_out), Lead Web Developer & Technical Architect, Science Museum/NMSI (UK)
  • Tim Sherratt (@wragge), National Museum of Australia & University of Canberra
  • MacKenzie Smith, Research Director, MIT Libraries.
  • Adrian Stevenson (@adrianstevenson), UKOLN; Project Manager, LOCAH Linked Data Project.
  • John Wilbanks (@wilbanks), VP of Science, Director of Science Commons, Creative Commons.

Making some videos, "Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe"

Visit Smithsonian Libraries' Galaxy of Images ( to explore a wide range of images from our collections that help to meet the Smithsonian's Grand Challenge of Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe. Support Smithsonian Libraries by visiting today.

Images available from the Galaxy of Images. Additional Photography by Martin R. Kalfatovic

Music: "The Four Seasons - Winter" by Vivaldi, performed by the US Air Force Band (public domain music available at

Friday, February 25, 2011

Happy Birthday George Harrison!

Today would have been George Harrison's 68th birthday. I'm sure that Somewhere in England there are people who remember him at 33 1/3. But then, All Things Must Pass when we're Living in a Material World that's so full of Extra Texture that it causes some of us to live on Cloud Nine while others have just Gone Troppo. George was a bit of a Dark Horse in the post-Beatle hit making, but his Electronic Sound really was a Wonderwall of music that left us all just a little Brainwashed via his Eastern leanings.

Happy birthday, George, we miss you!

George Harrison

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dr. Seuss Fish Cake (Angry Fish), 3,000 Flickr views

This picture, taken at the 2007 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Seattle is a big hit with Flickr users. Just a few hours ago, it hit 3,000 views - my most popular picture. The cake was for a celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Cat in the Hat. The "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" cocktails were quite tasty too.

Angry Fish : Dr. Seuss

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rutabaga (Brassica napobrassica) window garden

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
Quite impressed with my planting of Brassica napobrassica in the window pot (replacing the recent carrot). Growing quite tall (nearly 24 inches!). Have a small blossom on the top, but I don't think it will be a big flower.

Also left some squash seeds in the pot (pumpkin or butternut squash) that's coming out as a small vine.

Celebrating Presidents' Day: James K. Polk

Hon. Mr. Polk
Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
Since it's Presidents' Day, not Washington or Lincoln's birthday, I like to pick a different president every year. This year, James K. Polk (1795-1849; President, 1845-49) from the State of Tennessee is my selection

Now, in addition to his other numerous achievements, I'd like to point as as the Historical Polk fact for the day, that on August 10, 1846, President Polk signed the legislation that established the Smithsonian Institution as a trust to be administered by a Board of Regents and a Secretary of the Smithsonian.

The rest, as they say, was history ...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sip holes and seams

Sip holes and seams
Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
Next time you get a cuppa at Starbucks or wherever you get a sip hole lid and a paper cup with a seam, take a look at how close the seam and the sip hole are nearly lined up.

It's most of the time.

What are the tactile physics behind this phenom?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You can't tell the @SILibraries players without a program!

Town Hall meeting
Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
Gathering with my library colleagues for a state of the library. Nice shoutouts from our new boss in the Smithsonian Castle for BHL and the Smithsonian Research Online

Sunday, February 13, 2011

No dumping, except when you do

No dumping
Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
This spot on N. Troy Street in Colonial Village seems to be a dumping magnet!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hol ood Video

Once a Gold's Gym, now abandoned video store

Asahi sushi boat

Tags: udc641 sushi Arlington

Rum Swizzle, redux, with Skerijayne Falernum

Following up on my earlier Rum Swizzle post, tonight I made the same with homemade falernum provided by Skerijayne. Hers was a little sweeter (which was good) and added a little more smoothness to the drink. In the background, you can see my "Ice-O-Mat" ice Crushinator device (alas, only a replica of the earlier '30s Deco model).

Pet leash-apalooza

Dominion Pet Supply

Starbucks, Harrison - Lee shopping center

Recently redecorated with the "cafe grunge" look.

Violins in Falls Church

Can you tell it's miscellaneous errands day?

Bowl 'o Babies @ Economy Party Supplies

Nothing says "America" like discount party supplies!

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin (b. 1809)

Here's some of my "Darwiniana":

  • Origin of Species
  • Autobiography of Charles Darwin
  • The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals
  • Darwin's Dangerious Idea by Daniel Dennett
  • The Heretic in Darwin's Court (a biography of Alfred Wallace) by Ross Slotten
  • Huxley (biography of Thomas Huxley) by Adrian Desmond

Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln


Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln (b. 1809).

Big shoes to fill!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Smoke gets in you eyes at Rosslyn

Electrical fire, now out, smoked up the Metro's Rosalyn station. I blame k.d. Lang since I'm listening to "Drag" all songs about smoking!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Rum Swizzle

Rum Swizzle
Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
So, in talking with my mixologist friends the other day (Eric, Skerijayne, Doug) the topic of falernum came up. Skerijayne's been known to make her own, but before that could happen, Eric dropped off a bottle for me to experiment with.

And thus, tonight saw a Rum Swizzle appear.

Here's the recipe from the Washington Post; I didn't have any fresh mint and didn't feel like dusting with sugar. Otherwise, that's what I made. Not bad, but would be better in a hotter, tropical area (instead of the drizzly winter here!). I think I need to practice my work with the swizzle stick (though I was able to get some nice frosting on the glass).



  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime (about 3/4 ounce)
  • 3/4 ounce falernum, preferably John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum (see headnote)
  • Crushed ice
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 sprig mint, for garnish
  • Confectioners' sugar, for garnish


  • Combine the rum, lime juice and falernum in a highball or Tom Collins glass, then add a handful of crushed ice; swizzle to blend. Drop the spent lime into the drink.
  • Add crushed ice to fill to the brim. Insert the swizzle stick or a long bar spoon, holding it between your palms, and swizzle by sliding your hands back and forth until the glass is frosted.
  • Add more crushed ice; it should be mounded slightly. Top with the bitters.
  • Garnish with a mint sprig and a light dusting of confectioners' sugar.

Peck of pineapples

Because it's Whole Foods

Window Apps

Because it's an Apple Store

Herb snippers

Because it's Williams-Sonoma ...

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy New Year!

Lunar New Year that is.

This year is, of course, the year of the Rabbit. But last year, at New Year, I was in Sao Paulo, hence, the picture of the tiger at left.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Edward II Bed & Breakfast, San Francisco, R.I.P.

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
I sadly learned today that the Edward II B & B has apparently shut down. Located in the Marina District, close by the Presidio (and the old Internet Archive HQ) it was a friendly and convenient spot to stay (and did I say cheap, it was really cheap! but at the same time, clean and comfortable).

With the Internet Archive now located at its new location at 300 Funston, I guess there's one shouldn't feel too bad about the passing of the "Eddy 2", but it's a little bit of San Fran that I'll miss!