Archive for March 2005

Easter Parade

A picture named Guild45th.jpgGreat to be home again and looking at being here for 2 or 3 weeks.  Work will still be taking big chomps out of my ass, as my Arizona client is having its audit this week and I’ll be busy shoveling schedules at them.  But, the audit firm is here in Seattle and I can shovel from the comfort of my home office, for the most part.

I tore myself away from the end of the MSU-Kentucky game today and Mrs. Perils and I took a walk down to Gasworks Park (my banner picture of downtown Seattle above is taken from Gasworks Park).  It was nice to be strolling through my ‘hood again.  Looks like I missed the chance to see Million Dollar Baby at our local theater - the new Woody Allen seems to have usurped it.  Had to get a snap of the sign for your entertainment.

It was a rainy, sort of blustery Easter here, but it’s still feeling unmistakeably springlike.  The rains held off throughout our entire walk.  We had left the basketball game with about 1:30 left and Michigan State up by 6.  As we walked in over an hour later, my MIL exclaimed that the game had just ended, after 2 overtimes.  I asked who won, and she hesitated a bit before saying “kentucky”.  I didn’t discover that MSU had actually won until a couple hours later.

I was taken with the twist in the trunk of the tree below.

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Customer Service

Another downside of travel - the occasional surly bartender.  There are two bartenders who work the bar in the hotel I’ve been inhabiting in Milwaukee.  One is a chatty and very attentive woman, the other is a 30-something guy you have to hit in the back of the head with your empty glass to get served.

The other night, Surly Guy was on duty, and he was in animated conversation with two guys and a woman at the bar.  The previous night, the Tennessee women’s basketball team had made Pat Summitt the winningest (it’s a word, shut up) Division I coach in NCAA history, passing North Carolina’s (now retired) Dean Smith.  The discussion was whether her achievement was equal to Smith’s.  The bartender’s contention was that the women’s game did not mature until the last 5 years or so, and that Tennessee won for many years just by showing up.  One guy agreed with him, the woman and another guy (not the one with her, poor bastard) didn’t.

The bartender was really excited, pacing a little and wiping off perfectly clean glassware and, of course, unable to take an order for dinner and a glass of wine even though the humble petitioner was standing at the bar not 3 feet away from him.  He finally got around to taking my order for a chardonnay, chicken caesar salad and cup of chowder, and I sat at a table with my laptop to await the outcome.

No surprise that the salad was a soggy, overdressed mess, and the chowder never arrived.  And, yes, he tried to charge me for it.

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Anyone remember the scene in Lonesome Dove where Robert DuVall (as Gus) and his pal Woodrow Call are standing at a bar looking quite a bit old in the tooth, and the bartender, not recognizing them as icons of the territory even though their pictures as younger men hang above the bar, gives them all kinds of mean-spirited shit?  When Gus gets the chance, quick as a mongoose he grabs the guy’s head and breaks his nose against the top of the bar.  Coulda used some of that the other night.

People Person

So I’m here filling in for my client’s controller, who’s suffering from a persistent case of getting fired.  A note on the wall beside her desk is the following interrogatory:

  1. Why are you in my office?  What is the topic?
  2. Who or what is mandating this?
  3. What is the financial impact?
  4. What are the options?

I find this mildly puzzling.  I can’t imagine asking these questions to a visitor in my office;  I can’t even envision running through these consecutively as a one-size-fits-all checklist.  I’m sure this is lifted from some magazine for those seeking to be effective managers, or to be able to bluff your way there.  I’ve always been the kind of screw-off who welcomed any visitor to my office who wasn’t going to ask me to work.

Fire Drill

A picture named FireDrill.jpgIn Milwaukee again this week.  There’s a certain frisson of anxiety to be gleaned upon awakening in a hotel room to the sound of sirens and fire trucks pulling into the parking lot below your window.  Of course, I hadn’t read the “in case of fire” instructions in the welcome manual.  Maybe that’s because they’re in fine print on the reverse of the page listing phone numbers for churches and escort services.  I never seem to get past that page.

I was sure the rules prohibited running out in the frozen parking lot in your underwear, so I watched out the window for awhile, but nothing happened.  Never did find out why they were there.

What You Have To Do For a Buck Sometimes

I was filling out four different product rebate requests this morning, more fallout from my shopping spree a couple weeks ago: two cell phones and two Turbotax programs. 

I sort of resent all the contortions you have to go through to submit these things.  Halfway through, I start to feel like I’m part of a Candid Camera stunt as I’m cutting out bar codes and proofs of purchase, filling out multiple forms, licking stamps and envelopes (well, not the stamps, anymore, I guess), knowing all the while that any error or omission will result in no rebate.  I wonder if anyone’s actually bled to death while using an Exacto knife to wrench the barcode off of a blisterpack or cardboard box.

Then, there’s the hollow feeling when the $10 checks trickle in.  Wouldn’t it be easier for everyone if they just gave me a discount at the register?

Friends In High Places

How would you like for your little private school to have this fundraiser?:

The stunning finale of “All Along the Watchtower” featured Pearl Jam, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Chris Ballew, Frisell, Cohen and student cellist Eli Weinberg. Ballew, the most energetic of the bunch, tangled with Vedder as the two fell to the stage floor in a grinning heap while still playing their instruments.

After scrambling back to their feet, the pair finished the song with dueling Pete Townshend-style windmills, adding another comic touch to a night of community good will.

If This Is Thursday, You Must Be…

When I’m travelling as much as I have been lately, the trips and their components - airlines, car rental companies, hotels, wives - begin to jumble around in my mind, and if I haven’t written the specifics in my Palm Pilot, you might find me standing at the Hertz counter insisting I have a reservation when it’s actually with Dollar, or vice versa.  (The part about the wives is a little easier to track, as they’re all in different cities).

Last night, as my plane approached Seattle, I began to ponder whether the ride-share shuttles would be running (it was approaching 11pm), or if I would have to take a taxi home.  The difference is $25 vs. $40, and my clients will pay for either, but I personally like the idea of the ride-share both-ways process.

Then, as the wheels came down, I remembered that I had driven to the airport and parked for this trip, since it was less than 3 days and the parking was cheaper than the cab fares.  I forgot it again briefly as I waited for my luggage to roll around the carousel, but, once my bags were in my hands, I walked up to the 5th floor of the parking garage.  At least this time I remembered my floor and row.  There have been occasions when I’ve wandered from floor to floor in anguished befuddlement, once with co-workers I’d offered rides cooling their heels at the elevator and relishing the Phil-story leverage they’d have the next day at work.

So I walked down row 5I looking for my familiar kayak rack and maroon Accord, and it was nowhere to be found.  I walked up and down the row a couple of times, wondering if I had parked in a space marked for towing.  I was just about to go pay a visit to port security to see if they’d towed any cars when I remembered that I’d driven the white Civic instead of the Accord.  I drive it very infrequently, and it’s simply not in my pattern-recognition image library.

I walked back up the row, threw in my junk and drove without further confusion to the right house and the right wife.

In The Desert You Can’t Remember Your Name

Entirely too much talk around here and not enough photography.

I’ve been in Tucson again the last three days.  I’ve finally gotten some Tucson-like weather after having it be more like Seattle than Seattle has been the last two times down.  I mean, the last time my plane in Phoenix was delayed for RAIN, for fuck’s sake!

Last night, I was walking around in balmy weather downtown and came across a sorta charming old hotel, the Hotel Congress.  At first, I thought it might be an Xrated movie playing.  I walked in (after ascertaining that it was, indeed, a hotel) and it was a funky old early 20th century place.

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It’s also apparently a leading music venue.  There was no one playing that night, but I snapped a picture of the bar, and its decor.  Some local artist must have had a Pubist Period.

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Polar Ornithology

My flight from Minneapolis didn’t land in Seattle until after midnight, due to snow and runway closures in that suburb of Lake Woebegone, and I didn’t walk into the house until about 1:15. 

Since there was no food served on the plane, and I didn’t have time  between planes to scarf pizza or something, I hit the fridge almost immediately after uploading the following three plane-crafted blog entries.  As soon as I opened the door, I was greeted with intermittent screeching not unlike that of exotically-plumed Amazonian birds.  The fridge is over 25 years old, and I think the problem is bearings failing on the compressor motor.

Odds are looking up for a not-fun weekend.

Unstuck In Time

On the plane home tonight, I just finished reading The Time-Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.  Time-travel is a tricky literary device.  Handled badly, the work gets bogged down in the mechanics and the story, when it gets a paragraph now and then, suffers for it.  This book, however, did very little explaining, and the story was so compelling that you began to take time-travel as a normal and expected fact of life.  It helps if the author has a deft touch with language, too. 

I was taken, for instance, with this passage.  In the book, Henry, the time-traveler, first meets Clare, his life-long love, when she is a child of about 10 and he’s an adult.  He exercises admirable forbearance as he meets her several times while she matures, until the day he and Clare are about to have sex for the first time.  Although it’s a picnic in the middle of a meadow, they’ve dressed formally:

I shrug off my jacket and undo the tie.  Clare kneels and we remove the studs deftly and with the concentration of a bomb squad.

And I can’t resist another, which occurs at an Iggy Pop concert:

she dances seriously, like lives are hanging in the balance, like precision dancing can save the starving children in India.

As I said, I bought completely into the seamless transitioning between linear existence and temporal hop-scotching, and sometimes, after I put the book down, I wasn’t sure that I was completely moored in the present, that I wasn’t watching myself from some detached remove.  This was reinforced a bit because I was visiting my mother last weekend, in the town and house I grew up in.

We were out for a walk one evening and we passed the intersection of East Boundary and Sixth Street.  I glanced up Sixth, first as a reflex because my high school girl friend (now wife) lived on Sixth.  As I did, my eyes came to rest on the curb a little way from the intersection, and for a moment I became unhinged in time a little bit.  That particular bit of curb is where we would pull over on the way between my house and hers to neck, and I swear I could see us in my dad’s Chevy station wagon, and I could smell the wool of her sweater and the perfume she wore at the time.

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I was a couple classes ahead of her in school, and it seemed a little like Henry’s time-travelling when I would come home from college and take her out.  As I stood there last weekend, I also felt the grains of impatience that scratched at our vehicular pleasures, and I didn’t have the advantage that Henry had of knowing how sweetly things would turn out.