Archive for November 2003

Playing in Snow On Sunday, and Tuesday….

A picture named bajakayak.jpgI know I wasn’t supposed to shop on Friday, and I was strongly drawn to participate in Buy Nothing Day, but the fact is that, as usual, I was up against the wall preparing for a trip, and I spent a lot of Friday at REI throwing stuff into a cart getting ready for MY KAYAK TRIP TO BAJA ON TUESDAY!!!!!!!

I’ve never been to Mexico (my only forays out of the country have been isolated sorties into Canada), and my only knowledge of it comes from, in order of importance, the Marty Robbins song “Laredo”, the movie “Three Amigos”, and “All the Pretty Horses”.  The Cormac McCarthy novel admittedly conveys a lot more authentic information, but my new rule is I get to throw the most unpleasant one out, and that’s the one I choose.

My trip is being led by a guy I paddled with earlier this year, who has done this a few times before.  We had an organizational meeting Saturday, where I met a couple other participants (there will be 5 of us), and learned to my giddy delight that two of them are doctors.  They were rummaging around my friend’s first aid kit, quarantining out-of-date medicines and making plans to include stuff that kayakers who haven’t been to medical school wouldn’t have in their first aid kits, like suturing material.  Unless they’re in the black-market organ trade, I’m apparently in good hands.

My research on the internet had led me to blithely assume that I could waltz across the border with a driver’s license and a birth certificate, so I didn’t take the trouble to obtain a passport.  At our meeting, all expressed serious concern that I hadn’t done so, pointing out that the sites I was reading were probably pre-9/11 information.  They posited that I would be able to enter Mexico without much trouble, but that re-entering the United States might pose a problem of the Cormac McCarthy variety.  Matt Damon was a prettier prisoner than I would be, but still….  They pointed out that there was a U. S. government branch downtown that, if you were within 14 days of a trip out of the country, would allow you to show up in person and obtain a passport, providing that you had your pictures, birth certificate, etc, and were willing to pay the extra $60 for “expedited” service.  So, tomorrow morning I’m heading downtown to see if I can pry a passport out of the bureaucracy.

I’ll keep ya posted.  I’m taking my laptop with me, but since we’ll be camping for several days, and I have no idea whether I can hook up to the internet, I may be out of touch for a week or so.

A Fine November Hike

A picture named perils.jpgWe had a quiet Thanksgiving dinner, during which our son surprised us by suggesting that we take a hike together on Sunday.  So, we drove east on I-90 to North Bend and hiked a new trail up to Rattlesnake Ridge.  (There are few, if any, rattlers in Western Washington - the place got its name when a surveyor heard seed pods rattling in the wind and was scared shitless that it was a rattler.)

It was a gorgeous day once we got above the inversion layer that was blanketing Seattle.  The kid (22 now) led the way up the trail at a really rockin’ pace, and for the first time in my life (heretofore spent walking at his pace, carrying him when he just wouldn’t walk another step) I felt like I might not be able to keep up.  Since I’ve spent a lot of breath trying to get him to hike or bike or stuff with us/me, I wasn’t about to complain about a silly thing like the pace.

We egged each other, the three of us (my wife is a rock climber and no slouch on the trail), up the trail and ended up walking/climbing a long way on snow.  We got sweaty-hot on the hike up, then shivery when we finally stopped climbing and ate lunch.  There were some great views of the Snoqualmie valley along the way.

Picture 1: Early primates crouch in the cold and eat their meager repast.





Picture 2: Looking across the valley at Mt. Si.











Picture 3: Looking back toward Seattle and the inversion layer.

Milestone, Ball & Chain Category

37 years ago this weekend, Mrs. Perils of Caffeine and I had our first date.  I was a senior at our suburban Toledo high school, she was a sophomore, and we’d been flirting for a year after meeting in band.  We had gone to an away basketball game because I was covering them for the school newspaper.   Afterwards, I drove her up to her house in my dad’s 1960 Chevy station wagon (never a favorite with fathers of my dates), we kissed, and the poor thing is still trying to find the door handle.

Milestone, Ball & Chain Category

37 years ago this weekend, Mrs. Perils of Caffeine and I had our first date.  I was a senior at our suburban Toledo high school, she was a sophomore, and we’d been flirting for a year after meeting in band.  We had gone to an away basketball game because I was covering them for the school newspaper.   Afterwards, I drove her up to her house in my dad’s 1960 Chevy station wagon (never a favorite with fathers of my dates), we kissed, and the poor thing is still trying to find the door handle.

Blogging, Buchenwald Style

Would you go without food today and exchange everything you were going to eat for a Radio Userland subscription?  Would you then risk your life every day to make entries?  This guy took Extreme Blogging to another level as a Buchenwald resident during World War II.  He traded a day’s rations to a camp employee for a notebook, in which, through words and pictures, he kept a chronicle of life in the camp in hopes that it’s finder would know the truth about it.

Perhaps I can remember this when I feel like it’s too much effort to slam the refrigerator door on my gluttonous muse’s head and put him to work for a few minutes each day.

Trackback PingPong

I suspect he’s either lonely today, feeling left out of the great American Thanksgiving holiday, or just wants to pad his hit count, but Dave Pollard posted a refreshingly lucid explanation for how Trackback works and how to enable it.  He also volunteered to be a punching bag for practicing. 

Duck and cover, Dave!  Incoming! (And thanks!)

Censorship From the Red Part of our Blue State

Washington State (and Oregon, actually) is more than a little bipolar in both its topography and its politics. Many people, including me before I drove out here from Ohio for the first time, think that the entire state is characterized by rainforest and rushing streams. However, by snagging most of the abundant rainfall as it wheels inland from the Pacific, the Cascade mountain range separates the moist and temperate western side from the sagebrush desert of the eastern side.
The state’s politics are divided along almost the same boundary. It’s as if the rain germinated liberal seeds as it blanketed the west, leaving conservative Republicanism to scratch a twisted living from the desiccated glacial till of the east. (I’m sort of kidding here - I have clients who are personally dear to me in eastern Washington, but they are also people who receive hand-written notes from Congressman George Nethercutt.) The divide is actually a result of the urbanization in the west vs. the agricultural/resource extraction/nuclear industry of the east. Richland High School’s mascot designation, for instance, is The Bombers, and a mushroom cloud is part of their team logo.
The defeat of House Speaker Tom Foley in the 1994 election marked the extinction of Democrats as a species in eastern Washington. Yet Democrats have winnowed narrow victories in statewide offices (two female Democrat senators, a Democrat governor, Gore in 2000) owing to the dominance of urban centers in Seattle, Olympia and Bellingham. The east resents this domination, especially in its environmental regulatory incarnations, but also in its cultural excesses.
Thus it is not surprising to hear of actions such as that of Jack Anderson, a high school principal in Kennewick, who snuffed his school’s performance of a play based on the movie The Breakfast Club due to its language and content. What’s surprising is that the guy is so out of touch with his school that he was unaware of the play’s threat to the morals of women and children while it was being rehearsed for three months, pressing the destruct button only after its initial performance. Here’s what Principal Anderson had to say on the school’s web site under the Thoughts and Advice heading:

Take advantage of every opportunity in high school. Be involved in sports, activities, clubs and learn as much as you can. You will never get these years back and you don’t want to look back on high school in 10 years and wish that you had done better, or had tried out for the school play or run track. High school will give you memories that will last a lifetime. Start building your memories now.

I’ll bet the kids in that play will remember Principal Anderson 10 years from now.

Touring Charleston, SC

A picture named Rebel_Statue.jpg
Are you as surprised as I am that Confederate soldiers fought naked?

Charleston Eyecandy

A picture named Perils_pic.jpg

Oysters Roasting Not my brother’s house ;-)

Back To Business As Usual In Buckeyeland

Well, Michigan gave Ohio State a good thrashing Saturday, so the fever has banked itself for another year. There will be a respectable bowl game, maybe even a top-tier BCS bowl (OSU is 10-2, after all), but, as in many past years, the bowl game will be an afterthought and an inadequate consolation to losing to Michigan.
I had flown to Charleston, SC to watch the game on TV with my brothers, their wives and a couple other of their friends. One of my brothers lives in Charleston, the other lives in Atlanta, so it seemed appealing to gather in the warmest venue among us. The weather cooperated - it was in the mid-70s and sunny, and I kind of gloated when I put on sunscreen for the day Saturday, instead of layers of scarlet and grey padding against the historically frigid Ann Arbor gamesite climate. When I was in OSU’s marching band, there were times when playing Michigan we slathered our valves with antifreeze (we were an all-brass band) and used plastic mouthpieces to avoid the “timmy licked the flagpole and now his tongue is stuck and has to be cut off” possibilities of the more musically appealing metal mouthpieces..
All in all, I’d say we took the defeat with an unaccustomed grace. I think winning the national championship last year imbued us with a kind of magnanimity and noblesse oblige this year, and we watched the season unfold with an heir’s detachment, the national championship like a trust fund that insulated us from the life-and-death gut-wrenching anxiety of watching games. There’ll be time enough to savage the coaching staff next year, when the anesthetic will have worn off.
The oyster roast was nicely stage-managed by my Charleston-resident brother. I prefer my oysters raw to cooked, relishing the saline juice and coppery tinge to the meat. However, I enjoyed the preparation this weekend. My brother built a fire in the middle of his field and eventually coaxed a hot bed of coals. He spread them out, put a grate over them and poured out a bushel of oysters in their shells. We took care to pluck them off the fire just as a seam formed in the incomprehensible construction of the shells. The result muted somewhat the sea-born taste, but the chargrilled quality that replaced it was quite satisfying, and no doubt safer from a bacteriological standpoint.