Archive for September 2004

On To St. Louis

(Sticking with the blue-state theme).  We survived our square dance on the coal bed of politics, even took the same elevator down afterwards.  No discussion, however, probably a good thing.  Plus, I still got to run, lift weights and free dinner.  The only post-debate comment in our group was when one of the women sniped at Theresa for wearing pink in the fall.  I said that, with your own personal jet, it doesn’t ever have to be fall.  This is probably an observation that I would never have heard on my fleece-and-Birkenstock-clad block in Seattle, so I learned something, I guess.

Rob’s done an excellent job of extemporaneous analysis of the debate, but I’ll add a few of my observations.  We might be smoking our own dope here, but I think Kerry ended up kicking some ass.  I didn’t realize it until the last 15 minutes or so, when Bush just seemed plain out of gas and more than a bit disoriented.

To me, the two knockout punches were:

  • The “greatest danger we’ll face” question, where Kerry said decisively and emphatically, “nuclear proliferation”.  Ya wonder if he chose that just to get Bush to say “nucular”.  But he had his facts and history in place, and the coup de gras was “I wrote a book about it”.  Bush had no discernable answer of his own to this question.
  • The Putin question, where Bush just said something smarmy about how “us guys will work it out between us”, while Kerry drew on an anecdote that gave him so much substance and diplomatic stature.

I also think Kerry did an adroit job of cauterizing the wound from his vote for war powers and against the $87 billion, succinctly and logically explaining that the authorization was inextricably linked to Bush’s promise to go to war only as a last resort.

Pundits have been saying that Bush’s approach to debates was one of overperforming against low expectations, but I think almost everyone had the feeling going into this one that Kerry would flounder while Bush jabbed him with pointy sticks.  So, this time, Kerry had the low-expectation thing in his favor.

Well, this was the “cerebral” debate, and if Kerry couldn’t win this one, he was in trouble.  The next one will be the silly town-meeting format, with pontificating from handpicked half-wits in the audience.  Since I didn’t leave ALL my fingernails on tonight’s chalkboard, I might torture myself some more next Thursday.

Taking De Bait

Aarghh!!!!!  Not only am I going to have to watch the debate tonight (I have always skipped them, as they’re almost always phony and stultifying vehicles for the same old talking points and speechifying), I’m going to have to watch it amidst a den of Bush supporters.

When I’m working here in Milwaukee, my client takes me to the Milwaukee Athletic Club once or twice during the week so I can get in a workout at the gym.  I normally welcome the opportunity, because dinner usually comes with it, but tonight he’s arranged a meetup with several of his friends to watch the debate in the club’s cafe.  I’m stuck going, because I enthusastically agreed to go before I knew we’d be staying for the debate.

I’ve met these folks before and actually like them a lot, one of the paradoxes in this country that seems so bitterly divided: I have spent pleasant evenings with them, perhaps joking a bit then glancing off of politics, but I’m not looking forward to tonight, when the entire focus will be on those things that divide us.  I weary just thinking about how to counter the myriad talking points that the Republicans have unleashed on the landscape.

Maybe I’ll take a candle, as Dr. Omed suggests, and work some funky voodoo.  Prepare to do an intervention, in case I verge into the Stockholm syndrome.

A Fungus Among Us

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Mushrooms espied on our Lake Serene hike last Saturday - another sign of fall.

One of the more startling filler articles I saw this week described an underground Honey Mushroom in the Swiss Alps that sprawled over (or under) 86 acres, and was around 1,000 years old.  According to the article, there’s a much bigger one in eastern Oregon that spans 2,200 acres.

None of the above mushrooms, I don’t think, is part of a Honey Mushroom.  In fact, I’m not much of a mycologist, and I have no idea what the pictured mushrooms are.

When we came home from the hike, we made a pasta dish using some tasty chanterelle mushrooms that a friend had gathered and dropped off the day before.  Chanterelles grow in second-growth forest and haven’t been successfully cultivated, so they’re prized by mushroom lovers, and they are very protective of their gathering places.  The only time someone took us chanterelle hunting, they all but blindfolded us, taking a very circuitous route to get there, and then leaving by another route.

I’m REALLY Gonna Have to Get My Kayak Out This Weekend

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For the first time last week, I had to squeegee the dewy condensation off my car windows, a sure sign of fall.  It also made the proliferating spider webs into a shimmery patina on shrubs and anything else that hadn’t moved since midnight.

An Outing

We spent Saturday hiking up to Lake Serene in the Cascade Mountains.  See Outdoor Adventures for more, plus pictures.

Lake Serene Hike

We’ve settled into a nice fall weather pattern here, with some fog in the morning that lifts by midday.  Just the sort of weather that you don’t want to leave in order to work a week in Milwaukee.  I had that familiar feeling of angst as we flew out of Seattle this morning, seeing Rainier and the other volcanoes floating on their cushion of cloud.  As we reached the east side of the Cascades, the fog layer cleared and exposed dark green valleys cosseting silver rivers, and high alpine meadows speckled with shimmering lakes.

This effect is softened quite a bit by the fact that, yesterday, we were lolling beside one of those lakes.  Along with our son, we hiked the 3.6-mile trail up to Lake Serene.  The trail is just off US 2 near Index.  It seemed fairly steep, gaining just over 2,000 feet.  I thought we were keeping a brisk pace, the natural result of our astonishing athleticism, but our kid kept pulling away from us.  Hard to believe I used to carry him up trails like this.

I’m glad he likes hiking and the outdoors now.  When he was younger, he disliked it intensely, and we either went alone, or just didn’t, so I don’t mind having to chase him a bit now - we’re finally on the same page about a lot of things and genuinely enjoying each other’s company.

On the drive home through rural Snohomish County, there was a sign (camera was in the trunk,dammit!) that said:

Reptile Zoo


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Give me a sign

Sign in front of a church in North Seattle, espied today (sorry, doc, didn’t have my camera):

God answers Knee Mail


Bumper Sticker of the Week

(sorry, no picture)

Bush/Orwell 2004

Election Day

Anyone else vote in person on Tuesday?  When I walked into our polling place, the poll volunteers were the only people there.  One of them exclaimed, “Look!  A voter!”, and they were all over me with helpfulness.  I thought they were going to buy me dinner. 

Turnout in Washington was a little bit lighter for this primary because, for the first time, we are required to declare a party affiliation in order to vote in partisan contests, and we can’t cross over from race to race like we used to.  The political parties pushed this change through last year.  They’ve always resented not having control over who selects, or rubberstamps, their candidates, but they made a lot of people mad in the process.  That, combined with the increasing propensity for folks to use absentee ballots, seems to be impinging on the quaint and sociable practice of exercising one’s franchise in a local polling place.


I’m sitting in my car in a parking space on Ballard Avenue, waiting for a group of friends to arrive so we can celebrate someone’s birthday at the Portalis wine bar.  Serendipitously, I’m picking up a WiFi signal that’s just about as strong as the one I have at home, and I’m typing and surfing while I wait.  I do feel sort of conspicuous - people are circling around looking for a parking space, and I can feel their hateful staring as I studiously ignore them.  The owner of the deli I’m parked smack in front of is also more than idly curious, as I may be stealing both his customers AND his internet bandwith.  So what.  He’s welcome to come sit in front of MY house and surf on my signal.

OK, my group is here - I’ll rejoin normal society as as soon as I press Post.