Archive for October 2004

In other news…

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I had a birthday last week, 55 - the double-nickel.  So from now on, I’ll be exceeding the national speed limit.  Catch me if you can!

So, I had looked at my driver’s license while I was in Ohio, and told myself that I needed to renew when I got home.  On my birthday, I plotted my day so that I was calling on a client in the north end, near the licensing department location.  I went in, pulled a number and waited my turn.  When I got to the counter, I presented my license and the woman there asked if I used contacts or corrective lenses (no).  Then she punched my license number in and informed me that it didn’t expire until next year.  I arrange my life so that I’m late for everything.  I’m so not used to being a year early.  Watch this space, and don’t be surprised if I’m driving on an expired license this time next year.

Moving On

I wrote a lengthy post on the plane to Seattle last Tuesday night, which I’ve posted in the comments to this post.  When we landed, a flight attendant made an announcement asking me to push my call button so she could give me an important message, and I knew my Dad had passed away.  I called my brother and he told me that Dad’s breathing had become more and more labored after I left, and he died peacefully just after my plane took off from Detroit. 

I flew back to Detroit Friday night as planned, and my brother, sister-in-law and I hung out with Mom and began to pick through financial affairs.  We had a gathering of friends and relatives at our house on Saturday, and I was encouraged to see how many people in the area were still alive and cared about my parents.  I think my mom will have a lot of support in the days ahead.

Thank you all for your good wishes.


Sort of a surreal day today.  I’m in Toledo on short notice because my father is in the hospital in intensive care.  He collapsed Friday while getting a bronchoscopy to biopsy a spot on his lung, and has been on a ventilator since then and has suffered an apparent heart attack along the way.

He’s 79, has always been a heavy smoker, and had quite a withdrawal bout after being hospitalized, adding to his stress and leading to him being sedated.  Meanwhile, they did a catheterization and determined that he has severe blockages in 3 cardiac arteries, which require bypass surgery.  I took a redeye flight to Detroit Wednesday night.

After I arrived, and my brother and sister-in-law from Atlanta flew in, it appeared to us that there was no one person managing the case, and that we were being peppered with reports of “drive-by” specialists, each of which rendered an opinion on one of my father’s body parts.  We knew that he was not the healthiest of individuals, and the feeling set in that he was analagous to a wreck of a car that stank and rattled and required all sorts of jerry-rigged finesse, but ran all the same.  Place this car in Bobby LaBonte’s garage, and I’m sure his team of mechanics would find a year’s work repairing by the book all these idiosynchracies.  We insisted on meeting with a single doctor, developing a chronology on his week in the ICU, and developing a treatment strategy, and were very happy to be introduced to a pulmonologist who had been treating him, and who satisfied all our information requirements.

We immediately deferred the idea of open heart surgery to perform the bypasses, as well as open-chest surgery to remove the mass on his lung, and concentrated on what needed to happen to get him off his ventilator, out of the ICU, and perhaps home, where he could decide on his own from the menu of radical treatments.  They started ratcheting down his sedatives yesterday morning, and by last evening, he was conscious, recognized us and tracked our conversation. 

Saturday evening, then, the partner of our go-to guy above was on call, and decided that dad’s ventilator tube should be pulled.  This was a day or two sooner than we had expected, but we were optimistic due to events so far.  Soon, however, Dad was struggling, and the doctor had gone home for the night.  The nurse assigned to him, whom we’ve begun calling The Death Angel, chose that time to ask us if we wanted the tube to go back in if he wasn’t coping well, essentially asking us to make the life-or-death decision.

While I appreciate her bias for reality over sentimentality and her stewardship of the ICU resource, I think we all felt that this question should have been put to us by a doctor that felt that there was nothing to be gained by further delay, and not by a nurse about to go off duty.  We asked for a conference with the doctor, and he came back in.

In our conference, he thought that Dad may not be completely free of sedation, and that if we replaced the tube, he may be better able to work with us in a day or two, and that’s what we did.

I called the ICU this morning (Sunday), and the same nurse is on duty.  She said that Dad was holding stable “now that the tube is back in”, and I couldn’t help but notice the tone of accusation.

We’ll go down there today, but our position is that we’ll be ready to go “sink or swim” when a doctor says it’s time, but we need to steel ourselves, I think, for whatever air of disdain we receive from Ms. Death Angel.

An Addition To My Fleet

Last week, a paddling acquaintance posted that he was selling a Current Designs Gulfstream 2000 kayak at a pretty decent price.  Since my wife has never been very happy with an older boat that we got a couple years ago, and consequently has not gone paddling with me very often, I looked into it.  Turns out that it’s a significant improvement, from the standpoint of handling characteristics, over my Seda Gypsy, so it’s now my #1 boat, and after paddling it a few times last week, I couldn’t be happier.

On Sunday, we launched the boats around Leschi on Lake Washington and paddled south to Seward Park.

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It was a perfect day on the water, absolutely calm, warm and sunny, with fall colors subtly coming to the fore along the shore.

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On the trip back,  the Virginia V, a remnant of a “Mosquito Fleet” of passenger-carrying steamers on Puget Sound, blew its whistle and did a turn in the lake.

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You know you’ve had a good day in Seattle when Mt. Rainier deigns to make an appearance

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Weekend (continued)


It seems I still need my Buckeye football fix of a fall Saturday and, as with the debates, I’ve found that it’s more fun watching it with others who are similarly biased.  When I watch the games at home, my wife, who has no interest whatsoever in the game, puts the cats somewhere safe and busies herself with errands.  My mother-in-law (who lives with us) enjoys watching football, but is not an OSU partisan and I think is a little frightened when I leap screaming from the couch in either ecstasy or (more often lately) choler.

Providentially for all, a group of OSU fans from the Seattle area meets at the King Street Bar and Oven adjacent to what I still call the Kingdome despite ample photographic evidence of its demise.  While it’s a little hard to get all festive and sports-bar-y for a 9:30 am (Seattle time) kickoff, the 30 or so of us who drag out at that hour have a great time hollering, clapping to recorded fight songs and, to the amusement or skepticism of the foreign workers in the kitchen, singing our dirge-like alma mater after a rousing victory.

They were spared that particular cultural puzzlement Saturday, however, as OSU lost rather ignominiiously to Wisconsin.  Worse, I owe my Bush-loving client in Milwaukee dinner.

Weekend Update


Hard to believe the weekend’s come and gone.  I suppose I started the runaway roller-coaster on its way Friday.  I came home from work, zipped down to the gym for a workout, and got back to the house in time to join several other bloggers in an AIM chatroom to watch the presidential debate.  It’s a stimulating way to watch the debate, as others point out things I miss, or give context to issues.

Once the debate ended, we headed up to Capitol Hill (Seattle’s) to hear Antibalas (mentioned below).  We had called to see when the band was scheduled, and were told 9:00.  While we know that bands don’t usually get started until 10:00 or later, we’ve been surprised once or twice and decided to check in.  Sure enough, when we got to Neumo’s, they said the first set (of two!) would start at 10:15.  We got into a conversation with the young woman taking tickets at the door (we really were about the first people there), and were startled when she asked us how the last half of the debate went.  This is not the usual ice-breaker topic with nightclub personnel.  She’s 22 now, and acknowledged that, 4 years ago, she and her friends had little to no interest in the election, but this year they’re having parties to get each other registered and mark their absentee ballots and are much more invested in the outcome.  It was a great mood-setter, as we could extrapolate (rightly or wrongly) a whole body of voters that are beneath the radar of traditional pollsters. 

We got our wrist stamps and decided to walk around the Hill a little rather than drink ourselves stupid before we even heard a note.  We used to go up to that area fairly frequently when the Elysian had live music, but not so much lately, and it was fun to get reacquainted.

The Antibalas show was terrific.  They were tight and energetic.  You could really feel the “world” aspect of the band, as the lead passed from the Jamaican-sounding lead singer to a Cuban-sounding vocalist, to a Latin-looking keyboard player who channelled pure Ray Manzerak, to the curt New York street staccato of the horn section soloists.  We stayed for both sets, and wanted more.  There is a “political” angle to their latest cd, Who Is This America, in particular a song called “Indictment”, where they roll out the entire Administration demonology for a “heah Come Da Judge” shoutalong.  While this was pretty cathartic on the heels of the debate, it risks consignment to an oddball scrapheap unless it’s particularly acerbic or poignant, which it’s not.  We only have to look back to their previous cd, where, in hindsight, the naivete of castigating Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright as “war criminals” evokes a nostalgia for a simpler time when political evil manifested itself as an ant in the sugarbowl rather than as a bloodcurdling growl from the basement of our soul.  Still, go hear them.  This is a band whose live show consistently delivers.

Consolation Prize

If we can stay awake and the band doesn’t cancel, we’ll be going to see Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra Friday night at Neumo’s.  This is an exciting group of 10 - 13 musicians based in New York.  We first heard them at our Bumbershoot festival 2 years ago, and got to see them again at Chop Suey.

With some trepidation, I again paid multiple “convenience fees” and “handling charges” in order to buy tickets online from Tickets West, but I’d rather do this and have a leisurely Friday evening prior to the event instead of going and standing in line at the venue after working a full day.  The smart rats, they don’t hit the same button that gives them the electric shock more than once.  I hate the smart rats, I think they’re elitists. 

I mean, them and their hoity-toity E-Vo-Lu-Tion.  Pah.  There were myriad noble species, species with resolute genetic principles, damnit, which perished while the cringing Australopithecus and his opposable thumb survived, then flourished.  The awesome dentition of Tyrannasaurus Rex undone by the stunted appendage that couldn’t even claim “finger”status.  We know what Australopithecus did with his opposable thumb, and its development was directly traceable to the frequency of “headaches” in Mrs. Australopithecus.  In short, he survived because he avoided being brained by Mrs. Australopithecus.  This evolutionary quirk is honored in ritual re-enactments in strip clubs throughout the land.  Thus, it’s not because of the bared female flesh that fundamentalists so vehemently oppose strip clubs, it’s because of the homage to a vision of humanoid evolution that they simply do not wish to countenance.

Anyway, I bought the tickets, and I await the judgment of natural selection.

There Must Be Some Way To Blame Bush For This, Too:

In an effort to atone for our embarrassment a couple weeks ago (when we planned to go out for some beats and fell asleep instead), we bought tickets to hear Yerba Buena at the Paramount Wednesday night.  I got turned on to the band after hearing an NPR feature, and bought their President Alien album, and it’s been at the top of my listening rotation ever since.

Yesterday, I got an email from Ticketmaster saying that the show was cancelled (no reason given), and that I could request a refund by mail.  Bummer, but things happen, I thought.  Then I read the next sentence, which said:

The $3.10 per order processing fee and any UPS delivery charges are non refundable

and I started to boil over.  I mean, I knew how much I was paying Ticketmaster for the “convenience” of purchasing the tickets online (click by click, two $25 tickets ended up costing $73.10), and traded the fees off against the time it would have taken me to trudge down to the Paramount box office and personally buy them.  Still, if they can’t deliver the product, why should they get to keep any money?

I wrote a snippy little email to the band’s manager, and got this back:

Sorry you feel this way, but your anger is misplaced.

The local promoter cancelled the show on us. As a result the group has lost thousands of dollars in airfares which are non refundable. Please do not add to this the loss of a fan.

Regarding Ticketmaster, their contract is with the local promoter and/or venue. The group has no relationship to Ticketmaster whatsoever.

So now I feel a little sheepish about the email, in which I said something to the effect that if they brought out a new cd, I’d find a way to steal it without remorse, or something similarly cool-headed and mature.  As soon as my pride squeezes the rest of the way down my esophagus, I’ll send him an apology.  Then I’ll try to think of something withering to say to Ticketheisters

In the meantime, we’re free Wednesday night.  Anyone for pinochle?

Sunset at Lake Serene in the Washington Cascades

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A Walk In The Park

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From Fremont, we walked up the hill to the Woodland Park Rose Garden, and meandered around appreciating the last of the year’s blooms.  Often when we wander in here, there’s a wedding in progress in the gazebo above.  Cooler heads must be prevailing this weekend, despite the gorgeous weather.  For panoramic view, click here.

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I slept late Saturday, owing to my flight’s after-midnight arrival. We finally hauled our butts out for a walk. We first headed down to Gasworks Park, then over to Fremont, where we bought a couple of books, shopped for dinner at PCC, and espied the crazy-looking VW above.  It’s a van that’s been shortened somehow, and mounted with a rocket to help with the steeper hills.  I’m surprised it’s not surrounded by HSA goons, or dogged by black helicopters.