Archive for April 2005

Big Brother Calling

Has any of you gotten this damn American Community Survey thing from the Census Bureau?  Geez, what a lot of pencil-pushing.  It starts out with a rush of cock-eyed optimism: the “Age (in years)” box allows a 3-digit entry.  The survey seems to be structure-based, as in “what is the living unit (mobile home, sf detached house, cardboard box)” and “what sort of louts hang in this crib?”.  Example:

  • How many rooms does it have (not counting bathrooms, porches, closets, outhouses)?

    • No, the coat closet is not a “home theatre” just because you sneak in there with a flashlight and the Victoria’s Secret catalogue.
    • Why haven’t you finished grouting the tile in the downstairs bathroom?   Your wife hates sitting on the toilet and looking at the space between the tiles.

      • It is a federal crime to punish your wife for providing us useful information about you.

Then there are all the questions about citizenship and national origin.  I began to feel inadequate about being neither a Hispanic nor hiding one somewhere in the house.

I also wonder what they’ll do in Utah when persons 2 - 7 all check the “Husband or Wife” box for the “Relationship to Person 1″ question.  And in portions of the South, Person 2 having to check both “Husband or Wife” and  ”Brother or Sister”.

Well, I guess I could have some fun with this thing, but, even though I like warm weather, I’m going to try to avoid Guantanamo for as long as I can.

Floating World

As I was talking to a neighbor this week, I realized that I hadn’t taken my kayak out at all yet in 2005. Wednesday was a beautiful, sunny day here in Seattle, so I tossed the yacht onto the car and coasted down the hill to Lake Union after work.

Seems like I’m always posting pictures taken FROM Gasworks Park - here are some taken OF the park from my the bridge of my yacht. The park is an old coal gasification plant that was given to the city by Washington Natural Gas. Soon, black stuff started burbling up to the surface. They had to scrape tons of topsoil, bring in fill, and install a burner that burns off benzene as it rises to the surface. I always cringe when I see kids playing in the sandbox there.

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One of the cool things about paddling in Lake Union is you get a dolphin’s eye view of life in the many “houseboats”, “floating homes”, really, that border the lake. I’m including some pictures of some I liked

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This one always seems so pleasantly jumbled, with all kinds of bric a brac on the deck.

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More Photography Masquerading As Content

Just arrived home from our trip to Pawley’s Island/Myrtle Beach, over 2,600 miles of air travel from Myrtle Beach to Detroit, Detroit to Seattle. My ticket for the DTW-SEA leg had been automatically upgraded to first class, but I switched seats with Mrs. Perils. While she enjoyed the blandishments of free booze and dinner, I withstood the temptation of the $3 “snack pack” of junk food, and fended off the depradations of the great unwashed in coach class.
They go to some extraordinary lengths down there in the Low Country to court your restaurant dollar. I cranked up the anxiety level in our airport-bound car today by stopping and snapping these lovely photos.
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Lazy Daze

I’m too lazy and sun-swacked to write anything, so I’m just gonna post some pictures.

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You can have one of these for about $4million.

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Beach Bums

On The Beach

Mrs. Perils and I are in Pawley’s Island, SC, just south of Myrtle Beach, for a family reunion of sorts  I have a brother that lives in Charleston;  my youngest brother and wife from Atlanta drove over, and my mom has flew down from Toledo.  I believe about ten years ago, my mom & dad started driving down to SC in the spring, golfing their way down & back, and they found this place, Litchfield Beach, and kept coming back each year.  I’ve joined them on occasion over the years, including once in the fall when my youngest brother held his wedding on the beach here.

This is Mrs. Perils’ first trip down here - it’s a long way to travel for the purpose of subjecting one’s self to in-laws, but I think she’s enjoying herself.  One drawback - there are no rock-climbing opportunities, and she’s suffering a bit of withdrawal.  As my brother says, they don’t call it the Low Country for nothing.

I’ll post some pictures later today.

INTP (I Need To Pee? TouPee? What!?)

A few of you have added your experiences with hokey management gaming in your comments below, so I thought I’d share one I just remembered.  I was at a conference, and about 30 of us were in a room taking one of those Myers-Briggs-like profile things.  A hush fell over the room as everyone tried to psych out the thrust of each question and craft replies that would nudge them up into the Aggressive No-Nonsense Action Oriented Bottom Line Fixated Partner Material quadrant.

When I could stand it no longer, and since I knew I would never be able to fool any of them anyway, I exclaimed, “Shit!  It says I’m a LOSER!”  My table completely lost it.

Sunday Stroll

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I took a stroll this afternoon down to Gasworks Park and Fremont, and happened onto some interesting tableau.

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Sunday morning, Gasworks Park.

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This won’t steal any people from Dr. Omed’s Nun of the Week feature, but it deserved a second look, even in Fremont.

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Flight Safety Tips

Flying as much as I have lately, I’ve gone from being jaded by the flight attendants’ PA announcement routine, to getting a little irritated at the lack of variation and creativity.  One change they’ve made, though, over the past couple of months is to specifically warn against using “anything that transmits a signal”.  This got me thinking about all of the laptops on board, mine included, that have WiFi capability.

If you’ve ever fished around for a signal in a coffee shop or an airport, you’ll know that laptop WiFi cards not only receive, they transmit - you’ll see all of the laptops within range listed on your search result.  The stricture against transmission, curiously, omits mention of laptops.  Stopping mine would be relatively easy, since it’s a plug-in card and I could simply yank it out.  Most new laptops, however, come with the devices built in.  If the airlines were to get serious about having you disconnect them, the preflight address by the flight attendants would become a lot more complicated:

Insert the tab firmly into the buckle and pull the seatbelt tight across your lap.

Once we’re airborne, certain approved electronic devices may be used.  Laptops may be used if wireless communication devices are disabled.  If you’re using Windows XP, click Start/Control Panel/Network Connections.  If you do not see “Network Connections”, switch Control Panel to Classic view mode.  Once you have the Network Connections dialogue open, find your wireless device, right-click it and left-click “Disable”.  If you’re using Windows 2000 or NT Workstation 4.0….(and on and on)…If you’re using a MacIntosh, you’re too technically inept to safely disable your wireless device and you must keep your laptop stowed for the duration of the flight.  You can find the number for Microsoft 24-hour technical support on the instruction sheet in the seat pocket in front of you.  Sneak your cell phone out while we’re busy with that obnoxious drunk in 15A and give them a call if you need assistance.

At the end of this, of course, your departure has been delayed at least a half hour, but the state board of whatever profession you’re in will accept your application for CPE credit.


I’m going to steal an idea from Kathy at Freshman44, who is making a Found Art form out of shuffle mixes from her iPod, but I’m going to call it the Guilty Pleasure Mix of the Day.  Those of you who know that I only post once a month can warn the others to take the “of the Day” with a grain of salt.  These mixes (even if I only do one) willl feature songs that everyone derides as execrable pap, but which, when they come on unexpectedly in an elevator, make you want to grab the unsuspecting fellow passenger and dance her silly until the door opens.  OK, here’s my offering:

  • Kiss On My List - Hall & Oates

  • Light Sings - Fifth Dimension

  • Strangers In The Night - Frank Sinatra

  • Close To You - The Carpenters

  • Happy Together - The Turtles

  • Bus Stop - The Hollies

  • Cherish - The Association

  • Grey Day - Jesse Colin Young

OK, I’m exhausted.  Hit me with some of your guilty pleasures.  I’ve got 3 more Mountain Dew free-iTunes-song bottle caps.

Tuesdays With Morrie - The Sequel?

Detroit Free Press columnist, radio personality, novelist and Bo Schembechler hagiographer Mitch Albom has been suspended from the paper for an article he wrote during the NCAA basketball tournament that, it turns out, might have been one of his better pieces of fiction.  I remember reading the article online after the game and thinking, well, that’s a nice little scoop.

In the article, Albom waxed smarmy about a couple of former Michigan State players, Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson, who “both made it a point to fly in from wherever they were in their professional schedule just to sit together Saturday” at the Final Four game between MSU and North Carolina where, he said, they “ sat in the stands, in their MSU clothing, and rooted on their alma mater”.

It was loyalty, sure. And it was exciting, no doubt. But in talking to both players, it was more than that. It was a chance to do something almost all of us would love to do: recapture, for a few hours, the best time of their lives.

Trouble was, neither of them was at the game - change of plans.  Albom had interviewed them earlier in the week, written his article and turned it in on Friday, (this is too good) April 1.  The game was played on Saturday, April 2.

On the scale of journalistic shenanigans, this certainly isn’t the worst - the interviews apparently actually took place, the article didn’t influence the betting line, no insider trading was enabled (unlike the WSJ articles by R. Foster Winans a few years ago) - it was just a piece of fluff.  The disturbing thing about it is the level of institutional complicity that was involved in publishing it.  His editors KNEW that the article was written before the event, because they published it prior to the game in early editions.  This won’t hurt Albom much, if at all, but it tars every other journalist without the star power to take a mulligan on the central fact of their articles.  (Give the Freep and Albom some credit, however, for having the stones to leave the article up).

A couple years ago, I read one of Albom’s novels, Tuesdays With Morrie.  Its premise was that Albom heard that one of his old college profs was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease and, coincidentally, Tuesday was usually a light day in Albom’s schedule, so he started travelling from Michigan to Boston to tape conversations with Morrie.  It was a bit maudlin for me, and I started to get the feeling that the two of them were using each other - Morrie for a shot at immortality, Albom for a sure-fire hit with the Oprahtariat.  (Others I respect found it uplifting, which just shows, I guess, what a cold piece of gristle I am).

But, think a second - if I got warm fuzzies from reading about the camaraderie of Cleaves and Richardson, and it turns out they never were in the same area code, maybe somebody should get on the horn - maybe Morrie, if he existed at all, ain’t dead.