Archive for April 2006

It’s Beachin’

Not a lot of time to post here - eight of us constantly trying to achieve consensus about dinner times, activities, coffee strength, etc.  There’s a nice beach here, and we’ve gotten some pleasant walks and runs in.  I have some good photographs, which I’ll post later.  For now, here’s a little video of a squadron of brown pelicans cruising the shore.  I’m always amazed at how they look flying low, in formation, looking like a prehistoric gang of roughnecks.  It’s about 3 mb.

Goin’ South

We’re sitting in the Detroit Metro airport after a red-eye flight from Seattle, on our way to Myrtle Beach, SC.  As I have the last several years, we’re meeting up with my brothers and my mom for a few days at the shore on Pawley’s Island, a little bit south of Myrtle.

We took the redeye in order to make a connection that arrives in Myrtle Beach around noon.  If we’d caught a morning flight instead, we’d have been required to fly into Charleston, arriving at 11:30 pm, then driving 80 miles or so north.

The result is a 4+ hour layover here in Detroit, which we’re spending in the Northwest Worldclub.  It’s a reasonably comfortable way to while away the time, although I’m too tired to do anything productive, and reluctant to try to sleep for fear of missing our plane.  I’ll hit a tripswitch pretty soon that will reset my system, and I’ll be fine the rest of the day.  Mrs. Perils suffers rather more from sleep disruptions, so I’ll do my best to be annoying.

Here’s some terrific reading if you’re planning to board a plane anytime soon - airlines may soon be designing planes with “standing room” seating.  It won’t be quite like standing on a bus or a subway hanging on a strap, but that’s only because the airlines are required to buckle you in.  They’re not, it turns out, required to put you in a sitting position.  Take a look at the posture you’ll assume in this arrangement.

More later from the beach.


Perusing my Wall Street Journal online this morning, this item struck me:

Fox News Channel Wants $1 Per Customer Anniversary Gift

It seems that Fox News only gets about $.35 per customer from cable and satellite companies, while CNN gets $.50, MSNBC $.35 and ESPN gets $2.60.  This, even though Fox nets 1.5 million viewers each night to CNN’s 700,000 and MSNBC’s 350,000, so they might have a point.

Fox News’s situation is a far cry from a decade ago, when the channel took the then-remarkable step of paying cable operators $10 per subscriber to launch it. Once that distribution was secured, the channel’s programming did the rest: Before long, the fees were flowing the other way…

…Fox News is banking that it is now one of the handful of channels which can play hardball with cable and satellite operators if negotiations stall. Like Viacom, Inc.’s Nickelodeon and Disney’s ESPN, Fox News has rabid fans who would howl if it wasn’t part of their basic cable package. Its mix of news and talk has struck a chord with conservative viewers.

“They definitely have leverage,” says Jimmy Schaeffler, an analyst with the Carmel Group, an industry consulting firm. He expects the network to play up “all those wealthy Republicans living in the nice neighborhoods….watching its shows.”

I never (ever) watch Fox News (or CNN or MSNBC, for that matter), and I’d probably feel more than a little outrage if my cable rates went up in order to triple Bill O’Reilly’s salary.  But I wouldn’t have much choice - as stated above, Fox News is part of the “basic” cable package.  You know what, though?  I’ll bet the Fox guys are all in favor of giving the President the line-item veto to pick through legislation and only sign the parts that fit with his agenda.  So, would they support me if I insisted on being able to scratch Fox News from my “basic” package and save the buck (plus the taxes, fees and local politician kick-back charges that attach to it)?

One has doubts.  Especially since

No cable or satellite operator wants to be without a must-have channel that its rival is carrying when the phone companies might be more willing to pony up to break into the market. And satellite purveyor DirecTV likely will cough up, too: News Corp. owns it.

The fix, it seems, is in.

Seattleites Line Up For Dicks

Within sight of the Lord’s house, no less.

OK, that was cheap. lazy and filthy-minded.  Everything you’ve come to expect from these environs.  Real post coming soon.

While I Wasn’t Looking

Irrepressible spring is bursting out everywhere I look.

This sidewalk up the block is a gaunlet of large euphorbia plants past several properties.  I think they’re kinda exotic and tropical-looking, Mrs. Perils sees them as a scourge.


Celestial Machinations

As I mentioned in the previous post, I spent Friday and Saturday nights with my youngest brother.  He and his wife have a lake cottage on Lake Hartwell, northeast of Atlanta, near where Deliverance was filmed.  We had a relaxing dinner there Friday night, and, since it was warm there and a full moon was due, they took me for a cruise on the lake.

Before we boarded their boat, I decided to try the movie feature of my camera to catch what I thought was the moon’s reflection on the water, and to pick up the cacophony of tree frogs for atmosphere.  I locked onto the ascendant orb in the sky and set the film to “record”.  It was not until I downloaded the snippet to my laptop that I became aware of its initially aggressive, then just plain bewildering behavior, and of the fact that its abrupt disappearance was not due to an itinerant fog bank:

Play the movie here  It’s a little over 3.5 mb. Be sure to have your sound on.

Still On Tour

Wednesday a few of us flew from Milwaukee to northern Georgia in my client’s corporate conveyance to work the rest of the week at their plant here. 

I must say, it’s nice not to have to deal with airports, security and middle seats.  Tonight, I’m headed for my brother’s place near Atlanta, where I’ll stay until Sunday morning, when I’ll fly (commercial from ATL :-(  ) back to Seattle.

I didn’t realize when I made my travel plans that this was Easter weekend.  I recall another Easter I spent in the deep south, when I was about 5.  I was traveling with my grandparents on a vacation trip from Ohio to Gulfport, MS and New Orleans.  We were traveling by car, of course, in the pre-Interstate days.  The Saturday night before Easter, we stayed in a motel somewhere in Alabama, and I was more than a little worried.  I had left a note at home for the Easter Bunny telling him I’d be on my trip, but I was pretty sure that he’d miss me in such transient lodgings.

I woke - early, of course - and cast my eyes around the darkened room looking for basket-shaped shadows.  Seeing none, I resigned myself to a sugar-free morning.  Later, when were all just waking up, I must have told my grandparents my tale of woe, and they commiserated for a few minutes.  Then my grandfather frowned and reached down to the foot of his bed, and retrieved an egg (I believe I’d colored some eggs before I left home, but I’m not sure).  This disclosure led to a joyous hunt around the room, which turned up the requisite chocolate and sugary goodies.  We attended a rural church service, and headed for the Gulf.

I forgot to leave a note back in Seattle for the Easter Bunny before embarking on this trip, however.  If you read my blog, Mr. Bunny, leave your coordinates in the comments, and I’ll see if I can get you a ride in the plane shown above.  You may have to listen to a short presentation on vinyl building materials.

In Which I Scatter Blogging Sleep Crystals

I’m an accountant, really an accounting software consultant, but I don’t “practice tax” in the sense of holding myself out as a tax return preparer or, God forbid, consultant on tax strategy.  But I’m sort of collateral damage in the tax wars to the extent that my software clients need to file, and I inevitably end up helping them assemble the information their CPAs require, and that’s what’s taken up a lot of my time the last couple of weeks - it’s been sorta busy.

We had sort of a truncated weekend, as I flew off for Milwaukee Sunday afternoon.  We just hung out together and didn’t do anything really special.  Saturday night, we joined our son for pizza and brews at a cozy neighborhood pub where he’s found some weekend employment, then returned home to veg in front of my laptop watching the last three episodes of Lost that I downloaded from iTunes. 

I even got to spend part of Sunday at home, since my flight didn’t leave until 3:30.  That’s unusual, as it seems I’m always hooking up with some 6:30 am flight and getting up in the middle of the night to get to the airport.  Of course, the afternoon flight headed east meant I landed in Milwaukee at 11:30 and didn’t get to sleep until around 2am.  Monday I was surprisingly alert, but at one point in the afternoon I set a query running, put my head down for a bit, and was dead to the world for an indeterminate period of time.

I got out for a decent run last night (hooray for daylight savings time), puzzled my way through a weight workout on the universal gym here at the hotel, and should have been tired enough to slurp up 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Instead, I was wide awake at 5.  I read the Seattle papers online, then forced myself to doze fitfully for another hour or so.  Payback will surely come later, as we have a “strategic planning” session today with a lot of powerpoint calisthenics and collaborative exercises, things that work on me like Demorol.

Sorry for the mundane crap post, but not much excitement in this corner lately.

Multimedia Mogul

My new digital camera, the Canon S2 IS, can take videos of pretty good quality and record sound in stereo. After seeing the cool videos that the Bums posted the other day, I decided I might try to fool around with a clip or two that I’ve taken. They used a program called iMovie to edit and compress their clips, and I Googled to see if a version was available for Windows. It’s not. Instead, I discovered that I already had an editing program on my computer, Windows Movie Maker.

Great. Another way to waste time on the internets. Here’s my first experiment, just to test the concept.

Spring Idyl

The resident climber-people were off pursuing their sport today, so I grabbed my camera and a book and hiked down to the University of Washington campus just for a change of scenery. Turns out that this weekend the cherry blossoms on the Quad were out in abundance, and I lucked into a covey of photographs.

The trees were transplanted there in 1964 to make way for a freeway project, and their blossoming has become a much-anticipated event. The Quad was festively packed with sightseers. Oddly, the preponderance of the celebrants were Asian. Not so oddly, I guess, almost all of us brandished cameras. You can view a CherryCam here from the UW’s website.

I really like the contrast of the dark, sinuous, venerable trunks against the newborn blossoms. Age speaking to youth. Apparently these trees are nearing the end of their natural lives, and there is a project in place to replace them. It will take decades, however, for the trunks to achieve the same gnarled character.

Click any picture to enlarge.

From there, I wandered down to the Montlake Cut, the passageway between Lake Union and Lake Washington, plopped down on an ergonomically-shaped rock and read from Henry James’ The American while weekend boaters promenaded past.

On the walk home, I couldn’t help documenting this self-fulfilling sobriquet: