Archive for August 2006

Float Note

I’m headed to Columbus next weekend to commune with brothers and mother, and to perform once again with my Ohio State marching band alumni.  So, as I did last year, I’ve started (today) heading to the basement with my trumpet to help the spiders practice for Armageddon.  Here’s more in-depth coverage from my haj to football mecca last year.  

This weekend, then, is my last shot at high summer in Seattle.  As I drove home from a client’s yesterday, the clouds had burned off and it was starting to heat up a little, and the water looked extremely inviting from the bridges I drove over.  I threw my kayak on the car and headed downhill to Lake Union for a little waterborne outing.

Often, we’re standing on the top of the Gasworks Park Hill looking at the water.  Last night, I was on the water looking up.  At the top, a couple was gittin’ hitched - while further down the hill, some were already getting on to the honeymoon.

Click any picture to enlarge

I thought I was keeping a pretty smart pace until these guys passed me like an unlimited hydroplane.  Note the wake they’re pushing off their bow.

I paddled up to the Ballard locks and turned around.  On the way back, I encountered this odd craft, apparently a one-man submarine.  Or maybe a glubmarine.  I asked the guy about the boat - he said it was built in England in the 80s, and it’s the only one.  You can see, in the third picture, that the engine has started and water is shooting out of the bow.  There was a guy down inside the boat.  I’ve got enough troubles of my own - I didn’t stay around to watch it submerge.  I just kept thinking about the Hunley, the Civil War submarine located and salvaged in Charleston a few years ago.

I’m always tempted to deride these goofy amphibious duck craft that tourists lurch around town it, but they always seem to be having the time of their lives, so what the hell?  I briefly considered offering to dive for coins and other shiny baubles, but they - including the driver - were actually engaged in some smack talk with the sailboat.

Off this afternoon to a picnic for 826 Seattle volunteers.


Ingredients list from the jam I put on a slice of Mrs. Perils’ homemade bread this morning:

Plums, sugar, cherries, lemon juice.

Damn, I think it’s going to be a good day!

More Wandering

Yeah, all I do is walk around and take pictures. Hide! You might be next.  Tuesday night we walked down to the Montlake neighborhood for dinner and to check in with our Drinking Liberally cabal.

No sooner had we left the house and turned the corner than we encountered another unexpected outdoor musical event - this time, a trio comprised of a violin, string bass and guitar standing in someone’s front yard playing bluegrass.  We don’t water our lawns here, we serenade them.  I had to stop and catch a film clip, of course.  Mrs. Perils’ stomach is growling in the background.

Video! Click to play (2.5 mb)

No pretty pictures this time, just some sorta whacky stuff.  Like this television that someone had left on the curb for possible adoption.  A graffiti artist with a fear of heights or just a lack of ambition elaborately tagged it while the Ship Canal Bridge stood unmolested a few blocks away.

Down near Lake Union we came across this place.  At first, I just saw the sign on the left, and I was trying to formulate some concept of what Teriyaki Coffee would taste like, and wondering whether it was the one last flavor that Starbuck’s hadn’t turned into frappuchino.  Then I saw the sign on the right, and wondered if their menu would be equally absurdist.  Teriyaki Tiramisu, anyone?

On the way home we walked by the University of Washington hospital complex, and this sign just struck me as odd. 

I’m imagining a Surgery Pavilion as something akin to a shopping-mall food court.  In the center of a skylit atrium a myriad of operating tables are arrayed, while around its perimeter you can find kiosks offering:

  • Facelift Farm
  • Gall Bladder Gazebo
  • Appendix Ahoy!
  • Caesarian Salad Bar
  • Colonoscopy Corner
  • Lasik Lane
  • Nosejob Nook
  • Bypass Booth
  • Carotid Kitchen
  • Bone Appetit
  • Hysterectomy Heaven
  • Vasectomy Village

You get the idea.  The longest lines, of course, will always be in front of the Anesthesia Annex.


Miscellaneous shots from an evening’s walk up to Phinney Ridge on Monday. First stop: The Woodland Park Rose Garden.

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Our route to or from the Rose Garden usually takes us through a tunnel that passes under Aurora Avenue.  A couple of times now, we’ve encountered this guy who’s ridden his bike, carrying a guitar case, up to the tunnel and is using it as a sound studio.  Here’s a clip of him playing, as Joni Mitchell put it, real good for free.

Video! Click to play (4.3 mb)

Entrepreneurial Opportunity?

Well, I heard today that Hezbollah is deploying throughout South Lebanon, handing out cash to those whose homes have been destroyed and promising food and housing for up to a year.  I thought this sounded familiar…and then  I remembered the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

If Hezbollah executes its humanitarian mission well, the Administration could do worse than to disband FEMA and outsource disaster relief to Hezbollah.  As a competitor with Halliburton at the federal trough, how long could Hezbollah remain a credible revolutionary agent?


In The Air Tonight

OK, can someone tell me what’s up with all the Karen Kozlowski searches the last few days?  Was there some big news in the Tyco case that I might have missed?

I’m flying back to Seattle tonight, just as Snakes On A Plane premiers.  I think I’ll be awfully conscious of what that guy with the shifty eyes in the seat behind me slides under my seat.  I flew the Friday after 9/11, and I ‘m not sure if I’m less concerned about a copy-cat occurrence tonight than I was then.

I’m sure a TSA employee might have some fun by announcing, “Please remove all laptops, video cameras and snakes from your carry-on and place them in a separate tray to be scanned.”  Probably also get fired.

You’d better not be hiding any reptiles up there!

Midwest Evenings

Well, after all that half-baked gvetching, the flights here were just fine, including the trip through the TSA abattoir.  In fact, I didn’t really notice that they were checking any closer.  I took my normal carry-on paraphernalia (laptop, mp3 player, camera, book, a few workpapers).  There had been suggestions that carry-on bags would be checked again upon boarding, but there were no gate checkers at either airport (SEA & MSP).  I hope anyone else who’s travelling this week has it that easy.

The weather, of course, was gorgeous on Sunday, as it often is just to taunt me as I fly out:

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Boats on Lake Washington near I-90 and Mercer Island skitter like waterbugs

However, it’s turning out to be a paradigm of summer week here in Milwaukee, with just the first faint hints of summer’s-gone angst shading the edges.  I ran last night from my hotel over to Lake Michigan:

Hoping to loll a bit on the beach as night enveloped the lake, but as soon as I stopped, I was besieged by a squadron of biting flies.  I snapped a picture, then ran a half mile up a pretty good hill in order to escape them.  If I owned lakefront property there, I’d fire my security guards and instead devote that budget to fly husbandry.

Tonight for my exercise I walked from my hotel over to the mellifluously-monikered Kletsch Park.  To get there, I crossed the Milwaukee River, where a couple of flyfishermen (if it was flies they were after, I could be a terrific guide) had their attention drawn upriver:

to a deer nonchalantly sauntering across the river:

In the other direction, the setting sun cast a false premonition of autumn on the upper boughs of the trees:

The deer’s nonchalance would seem to have a pull date.  Inside the park, there is an archery range where bow hunters were warming up for the biggest reason people call in sick in Wisconsin - deer season:

I haven’t posted much video since I commissioned my cartoony icon from the Perils graphics department.  As luck would have it, though, I happened upon a fine subject for a video practicing his craft in a glade in the park. Put your speakers on and fasten your seatbelts - this is a lot of fun!:

Video! Click to play (5.6mb)

Hoping to milk the last light out of the sky for a last picture, I hurried over to this pretty little cataract:

Enjoy it now, anglers!  It’ll soon look like this:

Flight Risk

I’m flying this Sunday, to Milwaukee again, of course.  My worry in recent days was due to a threatened CHAOS strike by Northwest Airlines flight attendants, who had rejected a contract from the bankrupt airline.  The strike was to have involved walkouts by individual crews on random flights, and I’m scheduled for enough connections in the next month to run a pretty good chance.  It probably was also going to involve onboard disgruntlement, although the crews on the flights leading up to the contract rejection have been generally professional.  I keep flying Northwest because there are benefits to maintaining “elite” status, like first-class upgrades and enhanced availability of award seats when you actually try to use your frequent-flyer miles.  And, really, there’s no other airline that seems worth jumping to - everyone who flies domestically gets treated like Greyhound stowaways.

Then Tuesday happened: the Lieberman defeat, and the nearly simultaneous announcement of the contravened terror plot.  It was so depressing to see and read about the security screening lines snaking through SeaTac’s terminal and out into the parking garage, ferchrissake, and it made me a little angry.  I mean, if Chapstick and motel shampoo bottles are enough of a threat to national security that a ramshackle group of 20-something terrorists have been planning for months to use them to blow up planes, why was TSA just yesterday implementing procedures against them?  TSA and Homeland Security have had 5 years to perfect their techniques.  Why were they so roundly blindsided by the Chapstick and lipliner threat?

And, yeah, I’m more than a little cynical about the timing of the “terrorist plot” announcement.  They’ve been following it for months.  I suspect in the darkest corners of my fetid cranium that Bush/Blair & co were incubating the announcment for an October Surprise, but the Lieberman defeat got them spooked enough to jerk poodle-boy’s chain and bust the story now.  And, as it turns out, the GOP had several days’ advance notice of the announcement, allowing them to orchestrate a now-predictable attack on Democrats and any others (including an increasing number of Republicans tangentially in contact with reality) who question the failed policies of this chicken-hawk administration.

And that’s a sad statement.  The alleged plot may in fact have been the real deal.  We’ll never know for sure, of course, but my eyes and ears are simply not conditioned to hear truth from any level of this federal government, and they have so much to gain from orchestrating fear.  As someone who flies a lot, I’d like to feel some gratitude to the Brits for doing their job well, but doing so requires wading upstream against the firehose torrent of lies and misrepresentation that has been trained on us since 2001.

Whatever the political machinations, I’ll be flying Sunday regardless, because I have to.  It sounds like the TSA lines are much shorter today, as most folks got the message about liquids, pastes and gels.  Also on the plus side, the Northwest flight attendants have postponed any strike actions for 10 days (to 8/25). 

Still, a human body is almost entirely liquid.  If TSA were to get ahead of the game, they would be requiring enemas 12 hours prior to departure.  Because you can be sure that their scanners won’t catch that guy just ahead of you in line with the fuse coming out of his ass.

A Hike To Finish Off The Weekend

We came to Squamish at the invitation of some of Mrs. Perils’ climbing friends, who have a house there.  When we said we were going up early, they graciously gave us the keys and allowed us to bunk out there.  It’s a nice little crib, with DSL to boot.  I presumed that we’d be there with the other couple and their 14-year-old son.  As we gleaned more fragments of information, however, it turned out that other members of their climbing crowd were coming up, and by late Friday night there were 15 people preparing to bunk down in the house.  And sharing one bathroom.

I was prepared for the worst summer camp experience since Boy Scouts, but I was amazed at how courteous and convivial everyone was.  We had a great time.  Our hostess was a dervish in the kitchen, providing a loaves-and-fish magic act.  We feasted on a cornucopia of pancakes, eggs and waffles for breakfast;  fish, chicken, grilled veggies and fresh mojito pie (yes, made with rum and mint) for dinner;  all lubricated by mango margaritas from our host, who was quickly dubbed The Tequila Fairy because he wandered the room with a bottle of Tres Generaciones freshening everyone’s drinks just at the right moment.

On Sunday, our hosts drove Mrs. Perils and me into the Garibaldi Provincial Park for a hike on the Elfin Lakes trail.  Despite some areas of pesky flies, it was a sweet hike that revealed some terrific panoramic views as we gained elevation.  Due to time constraints, we had to turn back after 6 km, which at the current exchange rate was 3.6 miles, but here’s a bit of what we saw:

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Mt. Garibaldi

The drive home was another slog, with an accident on Hwy 99 stopping us dead for at least half an hour, and over an hour’s wait at the border just to have the following dialogue with the U.S. border guard (after a glance at our passports):

BG: How long you been in Canada?
Us: Since Thursday morning.
BG: Ya bringin’ anything back besides memories?
Us: Nope.
BG: Get going, then.

We could have accomplished that with a text message anywhere along the way, but it’s true that we’re quite compelling in person.  We were in great spirits, however, augmented by the quad espresso I’d purchased in Squamish, and none of that really bothered me.  I have a feeling we’ll make the trek again before the summer’s gone.

I Hauled The Kayak Up Here, And I’m Gonna Use It, Dammit!

Since I left my kayaking camera (that fits in a waterproof case) back at our lodgings, the only picture I have from my kayak expedition on Howe Sound is this one from shore, taken after I hauled out.  The cove here looks deeptively placid, but my paddle out along the shore exposed me to a pretty good breeze, and an inbound current from the flood tide.  As someone told me, “There’s a reason people flock here to windsurf.”

Click to enlarge

It was a strenuous, but enjoyable day.  Part of the route took me past a golf hole at Furry Creek that jutted out into the water.  Guide literature half-jokingly warned me to watch for errant golf balls headed into the water, and I’ve played enough bad golf to know just how voracious is the affinity of golf balls for water.  It’s like H20 is one of those unrequited unstable molecules whose mission in nature is to combine sluttishly with these oddly dimpled Titleist particles emanating from some Calloway Big Bang, careening out of the primordial clay of the black tees.  Foolish humans try to coax them onto a minuscule patch of hothouse grass, when 3/4 of the earth’s surface beckons them inexorably home.  The firecracker snapping of the flag on this hole only increased my anxiety about the possible trajectories launched from positions which were hidden from me.  I cut a wide berth around this outcropping of grass and rock.

As I was loading my boat back onto the car, I noticed this sentiment on the grille of a neighboring pickup: