Archive for July 2004

Bon Voyage

I watched John Kerry’s acceptance speech last night.  It was the only thing I’ve watched from the convention, and the only time I’ve heard Kerry on the campaign trail this year.  I just don’t watch much tv, and even less tv news.

I was reasonably impressed with his demeanor, delivery and the fact that the speech was in comprehensible English, a circumstance over which Democrats have increasing hegemony.  I felt that the Vietnam war hero thing was way overdone.  The “reporting for duty” salute was REALLY a howler.  Max Cleland’s terrific introduction speech would have been enough.  It’s a really sorry-ass state that would vote that man out of office.

The second half of the speech let me down quite a bit.  There was the embarrassing litany of the old Democrat chicken-in-every-pot thing, plus a ludicrous promise to cut middle-class taxes.  The country’s in Chapter 11.  Middle management don’t get raises from a bankrupt company, and there isn’t enough revenue to be raised, I don’t think, from those earning over $200,000.

Still, it looks like we’ve launched a viable candidate that won’t sink the first time the tugs turn it loose outside the harbor.

Milwaukee Cuisine

A picture named lobstermobile.jpg

Mr. Fixit

I spent exactly 24 hours last weekend visiting my folks near Toledo.  I usually try to knock down a few chores involving ladders, tree saws and sometimes plumbing tools when I visit.  Sometimes this turns out not to be the beneficent service I intended, as happened yesterday.  My dad had complained about a sinkhole developing around one of his downspouts and theorized that some ceramic tile below the surface had been crushed by a recent contractor’s backhoe.

With 2 hours left before I had to hop in my rental car and head to Detroit Metro for my flight to Milwaukee, I picked up a shovel and started digging meticulously around it.  God, I’d forgotten how heavy that Wood County clay can be, more like concrete that never quite sets up.  Anyway, I managed to excavate around some pvc pipe and saw that a piece that was supposed to connect to the downspout was actually a foot below where it needed to be.  I dug all around that piece as well, and saw that it stubbed into an older drainage tile system There was no way to adjust or finesse the extra 3/4 of an inch  needed to fit everything back together snugly without running to Home Depot to buy another length of pvc pipe.  On top of that, as I was wiggling the pipe this way and that to try to fit it, I heard an ominous crack from a sleeve that secured one end.

There was no way, at that point, for me to make any of this right.  I explained the particulars to my dad, packed up quickly and headed for DTW, leaving a non-functional drainage project, one admirable but futile hole and several piles of gooey clay in my mother’s flower bed, poised to run all over their sidewalks with the next downpour.  Well, they can spend a couple nights agreeably heaping scorn on me instead of sniping at each other, and that may be more of a service than actually fixing the downspout would have done.

Feeling Lucky?

We all get some strange Google hits, some unintentionally hilarious, some with ominous overtones and some that are simply inexplicable.  And maybe a touch insulting.  The other day, I turned up 17th out of 735,000 hits in a search for “butt blogs”.  WTF????  Turns out I used the word “butt” in this post a couple days ago, and that earned the hit. 

For this, a punch-drunk stock market is going to tag Google with $36 billion?

Well, the lesson is probably to put some elbow grease into the writing here sometime and earn some meritorious hits.

Ok, now butt out.

Thermostat’s Broke

Hot around here, headed for the mid-90s today and over the weekend.  We’re not a tropical people, and we’re all a little stunned by this spate of sunny, warm weather.  We feel guilty about it, and don’t quite trust it.  Many continue to pursue their normal arctic activities - running at lunchtime, for instance - and in doing so look a little like Zamboni machines trying to smooth the Sahara for a hockey game.

I’m flying to Detroit Saturday, then to Milwauke to work next week, and usually when I head to the midwest this time of year, I look with dread (or don’t look at all) at the area’s weather.  This time, however, it looks like I’ll be going there to cool off.


I’ve been playing around with the layout here a little bit, sort of like rearranging the furniture and repainting.  I’ve been afraid of completely blowing up the template by changing much, leaving the site a smoldering heap of disconnected bytes.  Nothing against Salon, but I’ve been wanting to get rid of that standard Salon banner with the creepy glistening lips for a long time, and finally took the plunge.  I feel like I’ve defaced a billboard, and Clear Channel’s private detectives will be breaking down my door any minute, but I also feel the sense of accomplishment that would accompany spray-painting a moustache on an Ann Coulter poster. 

I’m a little braver now with the HTML, maybe things will look less drab around here.

Moose sightings - Grand Teton National Park - Summer 2003

Saw this guy on the Paintbrush Canyon hike as I came around a switchback.

Click any picture to enlargeA picture named Moosebutt.jpg
This is what we call a “moosejam”. The Moose of the Hour is the black dot in the middle of the pasture. We were on the last leg of a hike and saw the moose just as he crossed the road. We stayed for 15 minutes, and watched the traffic jam develop.
A picture named Moosejam.jpg
I had occasion to come back through the park again in September while helping my son ferry a car from Ohio to Seattle. He and I took some time off the road to do a hike, and espied the pair below.
A picture named Moosepond.jpg

Nutrition-Free Zone

A picture named topa2.jpgSome evil person made a stop at the Krispy Kremeatorium on the way to work yesterday and plopped two dozen fresh donuts in my client’s lunchroom.  I hadn’t had breakfast and had purchased a bran muffin on the way into the office, but it didn’t have a chance next to the exquisitely empty calories of one of their signature fresh glazed donuts.

People were making secret sorties into the lunchroom all morning, some only minutes after loudly exhorting officemates to tackle and physically restrain them if they made even the slightest move in that direction.

Another popular technique that emerged was the “cut just a bite off and leave the knife and the partial donut for other dainty appetites”.  I forget which law it was in the demonology of high school geometry that averred that if you repeatedly progressed halfway to your goal, then half again, etc, you’d never get there.  The last chocolate-covered donut in the box suffered that wasting death.  In Oregon, it could have requested intervention and a quick demise, but here in Washington, a forlorn, deflated chunk of chocolate goo was still writhing in the box at 5.  Perhaps the cleaning people were more humane.  Or shamelessly hungry.

Post Card Kind of Night

A picture named Lake Union Regatta.jpg

These soft summer evenings of seemingly unlimited daylight are too nice to sit inside. I used a trip to the grocery store the other night as a pretext to walk down to Gasworks Park on Lake Union. There was a huge sailboat regatta going on, with just enough breeze to make it interesting, and the entire lake was bristling with sailcloth.  The boats above are passing close to the houseboat from which Tom Hanks’ son made his clandestine radio station phone calls in Sleepless In Seattle.

A picture named TeaPartyAfloat.jpg

The crew above has no interest in the rigors of yachting.  Drifting along under the power of a trolling motor, they’re sitting around a table snacking and imbibing the ballast from the cooler on the bow.  I’ve seen this craft before, and I believe there’s a barbeque to the driver’s right.

A picture named SeattleSkylineatSunset.jpg

As the sun set, the lake was backlit by the faux incandescence of its reflection off the downtown buildings.

Bumper Stickers of the Week

A picture named MissionAccomplished.jpg

This one’s from my neighborhood, on a non-macho Subaru.  Every time someone at MoveOn has neurological activity of any sort, I get an email all about it, but still I’ve missed seeing this bumper sticker before.  Probably drinks pinot gris, or chardonnay when making a bold statement.  His vote still counts the same, though, which is the important thing.

A picture named WimpyWines.jpg

This one was in Ashland and represents that genetic mystery, the macho yuppie.  Prime habitat would seem to be Arnold’s California.