Archive for September 2006

There Goes The Neighborhood

Chez Perils has been getting a much-needed paint job this week. They’re just about finished. I’m really liking how the colors are working out. It’s so bizarre how different they look in the wild than they do on the sample chips. We had them get several samples and paint them on the shingles in order to really fix the hue.

The trim areas that are green in the photo have been dark brown in the past, and I’ve been thinking the whole place looked sort of drab. I’m really happy with the green accents.

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And, just for kicks, here’s how the place looked in 1981 when, after living in it for 5 years, we did a major remodel:

More Hooky

Great weather continued throughout the week, and, in anticipation of flying to Milwaukee Sunday, I carped the diem Friday to go kayaking up north near LaConner, between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands. Where I launched, it was sunny and warm, with calm waters. On the west side of Whidbey, it seemed there was a bank of marine push fog. I caught a photo of one of its tendrils partially enveloping the Deception Pass Bridge:

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I hauled out onto a beach on Hope Island, a Washington State Park, to stretch a bit and laze in the sun. I used my camera’s timer for the self-portrait below, then hiked up a trail and got the beach photo.

These are the only decent wildlife shots I got. And I’m not sure the thing wasn’t dead.

Shots from the trip home. Mount Baker, a volcano near the Canadian border, was out, and I parked and walked out onto the Swinomish bridge near LaConner to snap it. Then, while driving through some farmland, I couldn’t resist pulling over for one more.


The weather here is brilliant this week, so I played a little hooky yesterday afternoon and took my kayak out on Puget Sound.  I had a mission as well as a desire to just splash around in the sun.  As I mentioned a while ago, I was becoming disenchanted with the photo quality from my Canon S300 since acquiring my S3 IS, but I was restricted to the S300 in the kayak because I have a waterproof case for it.

I began researching a waterproof case for the S3 IS, and found that Canon is not likely to manufacture one for it, which is regrettable, since the one for the S300 is so well-designed and functional.  In looking around for other sources, I settled on an item from Aquapac made for SLR cameras.  It’s definitely not as elegant as the Canon:

But, I wanted a way to use the S3 IS, so I took the plunge and the bag arrived at REI Sunday.  The biggest problem I had was turning the camera on & off, since you have to twist something instead of depressing a button.  Whine, whine.  But I was able to use the camera and its awesome zoom and video capabilities.  I have a lens adapter on order that will help to orient the camera in the condom-like lens tunnel, and also allow me to use some filters.

Here are the results:

Just after I launched from Golden Gardens Park and paddled through the Shilshole Marina, I encountered tendrils of gillnets (although they could be tanglenets)strung around the bay in front of the Ballard Locks.  Gillnets are set by fishermen (in Washington, only Indian fishermen are allowed to use them) and left unattended.  They snag their fish, and are harvested periodically.  That is, if the sea lions don’t harvest them first!  As I paddled through, 2 or 3 sea lions were patrolling the nets and feasting on the catch.  Here’s a video of them.  At one point in the video, you can see a sea lion toss a fish ahead of him, then dive after it.  The picture is pretty good, and the audio comes through the bag pretty well, too.  And, yes, I’m talking to myself:

Sea Lion Sushi Bar - Click to play (6.1 mb)

Some still pictures through the bag below.  I think I’m gonna like this once I get used to its limitations.

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Post-Game Report

I emerged from the sports bar Saturday afternoon to brilliant sunshine, and the dark-spot-xray feeling of guilt and dread borne by all men who slink out of a bar in broad daylight. Except I was feeling guilty for expending one of the last precious summer days inside, instead of outside frenetically recreating. Here’s what I saw as I exited:

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Ace up my sleeve: I had bussed to the sports bar with the idea that my route home might include a walk up Queen Anne Hill and down to Fremont, where they were hosting the Oktoberfest.
I called Mrs. Perils and offered to meet her there, and started walking. I passed through the Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World’s Fair:

As I waited for her in Fremont, I took in the sights:

These confections, called Shishkaberries, put me in mind of Middle Earth sex toys:

As I passed this booth, I heard the woman saying, “And if you miss any more payments, we’ll extract this one, and this one, and so on. You should get your credit situation straightened out pronto, or you’ll never straighten your spine again.”

Once Mrs. Perils arrived, we decided that we really didn’t want to spend $20 apiece to sample beers - we’re just not really big beer drinkers, and the band that started playing didn’t really grab us. Instead, we left the Oktoberfest and ambled up to an old favorite, El Camino, and enjoyed excellent margaritas and happy-hour appetizers for about the same cost.

And walked home just as the sun was setting.

We Survive Another Week

On Saturday, my Buckeyes played Penn State, a worthy opponent and one of the “big” games of the year. I decided I wanted company in either my misery or ecstasy, so I bussed down to the sports bar near the Seattle Center where our alumni club was meeting to view the game.
While I’d stop short of calling our particular distemper a “religion”, I’ll note that the following two photos are the closest I’ve come to viewing stained glass from the inside in several decades.

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You might think these guys are taking afternoon tea, handicapping the candidates for the Man Booker prize, except…

OSU sealed its victory in a tough contest with two interception returns for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The following video was made during the celebration after the second of these:

OSU Fans Celebrate Interception vs. Penn State - Click to play (2.9 mb)
Also in the room, and in some places at the next table, were members of the Penn State alumni club. Remarkably, there was no woofing or trash talk between the groups (although plenty of vociferous cheering). Below, their fans break camp as, onscreen, their young quarterback wanders disconsolately to the locker room after the game.

On to Iowa City for a prime-time night game this Saturday.

Forsaking Sports For Naycher

I was confident enough Saturday that my Buckeyes wouldn’t need me to defeat Cincinnati that I joined a group of folks for a kayak outing on Budd Inlet near Olympia.  I haven’t done very much paddling in the south Puget Sound, so I signed up.

We met at a pretty little bay called Boston Harbor to launch

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While I waited for others to arrive, I partook of a tasty crop of blackberries growing along the shore. Of course, the plumpest, sweetest ones were sequestered in the depths of a thicket of thorns that even grizzlies would hesitate to plunge into.  But, man, they were tasty, ripened to the tipping point between mature fruit and blackberry liqueur.   There’s always a little sadness associated with the taste, as it signals the end of summer.

The trip started out in sunshine and nearly flat water, so smooth at times that our unperturbed reflections sailed along beneath our hulls.

(editor’s note: The photos above were taken with my Canon S3 IS, a 6 megapixel with a 12x optical zoom.  It just rocks.  The following photos were taken with my Canon S300, as I have a waterproof case for it.  I’m chafing a bit at the quality, as well as the zoom limitations.  Canon doesn’t make a waterproof case for the S3 IS, but there are some expensive workarounds that I have eschewed in the name of thrift.  Until now.  Watch this space…)

Just before lunch, however, a rain squall passed over, and we scrambled to raft up and help each other retrieve raingear that each of us had brought, but buried deep in cargo hatches because we were certain we wouldn’t need it.  Once we had completed the task of half-disrobing, donning raingear and re-fitting with lifejackets and sprayskirts, it inevitably stopped raining.  In case you’re wondering, the woman below is sporting the quintessential spring/fall northwest outdoor look - full-on raingear to ward off the deluge just passed, and sunglasses to cope with the Saharan sun that swiftly follows it. 

A raft full of mergansers, fresh from a session with their punk hairdressers, was oblivious to the squall and the need to prepare for it.

I’m a sucker for clever boat names.  Couldn’t pass this one up:

As we returned to Boston Harbor Marina, the sun broke through a suckerhole and highlighted the ships, masts and cottages on the shore.

And, BTW, OSU 37, Cincinnati 7.  Bring on State Penn!

Crepeing Around Town

When I got home from work Thursday night, Mrs. Perils met me on the front porch and suggested the very thing I’d been thinking as I was driving - oozing fitfully, rather - across the 520 bridge: “Ya wanna walk somewhere for a bite?”  The “walk somewhere” was the easy part, we almost never drive for food or beverages.  The hard part is always “where?”

We made our typical non-decision - we chose a general direction and distance to start walking and deferred the choice of the actual venue.  In this case, the direction and distance was Fremont - southwest, about 2 miles one way.  We actually had two places in mind - a Mexican place called El Camino, and a place featuring crepes called Le Bouchee.  As we passed the creperie, we saw that there were tables empty, and steered ourselves in.

It was definitely the right choice.  Mrs. Perils had a goat cheese & chicken crepe, and I had a salmon & caper.  We don’t usually do dessert, but the special this night was fig and honey creme brulee.  We remember discussing it with the waitress, but when it arrived at the table neither of us actually remembered ordering it.  So what.  It was superb.

OK, here’s an experience I haven’t had in a restaurant before: a couple was sitting at the next table, and the guy had this Wine For Dummies book with him, and was referencing it as he prepared to order.  When his wine was delivered, I was dying to see what he’d ordered, but I couldn’t get a good enough bead on the label.  Either he was tremendously insecure about his ability to select an amiable wine for a fairly down-scale dinner (crepes?), or he was actually trying to learn.  Either he deserves kudos for the effort, or he needs an intervention.  God knows I’ve given up the “instruct” part of “instruct and delight” when it comes to wine.  I can never remember what I drank.  The “delight” part I’ve got down.

The best part of the evening, though, was due to the restaurant’s supplying butcher-paper table coverings and colored pencils at each table.  The minute we walked in, Mrs. Perils was skulking among the other tables snapping up colors she wanted.   As we dined, she proceeded to spin out this creation:

I didn’t press too hard about why, out of all of God’s bounty, she chose a Venus’ Flytrap for her subject. 

More News From The Sporting Life

One thing I’ve kind of glossed over from last week is my foray into hostile terrain - the Arcadia Bluffs golf course in Manistee, Michigan.  That’s not my Buckeye paranoia talking - the “hostile terrain” I’m referring to isn’t Michigan, it’s the golf course.  And it’s not at all certain in which direction the hostilities are canted: my artless hacking may be far more deleterious to the manicured climes of a well-designed golf course than its inexorable psychological corrosiveness could be on my delicate sentience.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As I related earlier, I followed my OSU band reunion weekend with a visit to my client in Milwaukee.  And as he did two years ago, my client invited a group of us who work with the business in various capacities to board the corporate plane for a junket to an out-of-the-ordinary golf course.  Now, it’s sort of extraordinary that they invite me along at all, as I golf about as often as Britney Spears gives birth.  No, actually, not quite that often.  In fact, the last time I had golfed was on that trip to Mackinac Island two years ago.  But it beats working, so I buckle my seatbelt and ask no questions.

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Once I get onto a course, I have an enjoyable time.  I think this is mostly because I have pretty low expectations.  My family didn’t golf when I was growing up (my dad scoffed, “golf is the only game where you hit a ball and have to chase it yourself”), and I never took it up as a young adult, so I have absolutely no context against which to measure any potential disappointment in my occasional outings.
There was a heavy mist hanging in the air when we arrived, and the grass was dew-laden.  I later learned that our pilot had loaded extra fuel in case we had to wave off our landing in Manistee, and although we have state-of-the-art avionics on board, we indeed came close to not having the required visibility to land at this airport.

When I saw that the Arcadia course was on the shore of Lake Michigan, I envisioned a sort of Venetian venue wherein I’d be better off in a kayak than a golf cart, since most of my play would surely be aquatic rather than land-based.   This course, however, was wickedly arrayed among moguls of scenic dune and sawgrass.  The following are taken from the tee area of two representative holes.  The idea is that your ball will magically plop onto that little oasis of manicured green fairway and avoid being swallowed by what we quickly began branding as “moonscape” of grass and sand.  The tee shot on the left must cross a deep ravine and travel a pretty fair distance.  Perversely, I was the only one of our foursome to land on the green.  I was shunned for most of the next three holes.

As I’ve said elsewhere, no matter how tortured my game is, once or twice in a round steel and flesh will cease their clangorous struggle for a second, and I’ll somehow just smack the snot out of the ball.  I’ll stand there gaping at the ball in flight with more wonder than if it was an alien spacecraft.  And it’s like a hit on a crack pipe - my spirit will soar and my body will vibrate with endorfins, and for just a brief moment I’ll think, “Damn!  I could get good at this!”  Just as suddenly, the high is over and I resume my bereft travail.

“Undressing the ball” I think they called it.  Our pilot, who wasn’t playing, snapped this photo, perhaps not realizing how much at risk he was even at that angle.  It would have been a long bus ride back to Milwaukee.  Yeah, I’m wearing sandals.  And, yeah, I’m hitting a 2-iron off the tee.  Sue me.

More…OK, I’m a Sportsaholic

Here’s the best line of sportswriting I’ve seen this football season, and it doesn’t even involve the Buckeyes.  Anyone who’s travelled in the southeast and seen South Carolina fans preening in their “Cocks”-wear will get a kick out of this entry from the excellent college football blog Every Day Should Be Saturday.  Background: the Gamecocks’ quarterback was arrested about 2 am Wednesday morning after a fight at a training table tavern, and was suspended by coach Steve Spurrier.  EDSBS put it this way:

Spurrier has given this Cock the yank and will start true freshman Chris Smelley for the forseeable future. (article)

Yank a Cock and the result is Smelley?  Get Chris Sperman on the line.

There’s a riot in the kitchen and the bed’s on fire - Cyndi Lauper,

(Sorry if I brought you here for Ohio State stuff and you stumbled onto this.  Hopefully you’re down there enjoying the multimedia and never got here.)

Well, I almost don’t want to say anything on this 5th anniversary of 9-1-1.  I didn’t lose anyone on 9-1-1, nor did I know anyone who did.  I was affected in a pretty direct way, however, as I was working out of town when the attacks occurred on that sunny fall Tuesday.  I watch very little television, even when I’m on the road in a hotel room, so I arrived at my client’s office ignorant of the unfolding events.  As other employees arrived, the story of the first tower bombing was pieced together, and a TV was set up in the lunchroom just in time to learn of the second.

From the moment of impact, I felt unremitting anger and an unabashed desire for revenge.  On a more practical level, I had a ticket to fly that Friday night, first to Detroit to visit my parents, then home to Seattle on Sunday.  As flights were cancelled and the skies fell eerily silent, I wondered what my options would be.  Hijacking my rental car and a 3-day drive to Seattle was one of the possibilities.

As it turned out, flights resumed on that Friday and I boarded my scheduled flight with a mixture of gravity and ebullience, with the attitude that I was going to live my American life and let no one intimidate me into fearful scurrying.  It was also the fastest way out of town, and it was already paid for.

I felt temporarily avenged upon the routing of the Taliban in Afghanistan.  They were repressive, anachronistic and had provided gleeful hospitality to all manner of Islamic terrorists.  The fact that they were a sovereign government, and not our prime-target terrorist organization, didn’t really bother me all that much at the time.  I probably didn’t make as much of a distinction between renegade Islamic elements and its more institutional/political forms because I simply don’t think religion should be involved in government in the first place.  I’ll never be nostalgic for the Taliban.

The confusion of targets inherent in the Afghan effort, however satisfying the outcome, laid the groundwork for the drumbeat towards the Iraq invasion and the evolution of 9-1-1 from a national touchstone to a politically calculated wedge.  Toppling sovereign nations, instead of the more difficult and less politically useful task of adopting an adroit global strategy, was now legitimized as the signature tactic to “fight terrorism”, and I believed from the start that this confusion vis a vis Iraq was perpetrated purposefully in order to advance other political and economic goals by an administration of hapless miners that had lucked into the mother lode.

So, at five years’ remove from that sobering Tuesday morning, the wedge has worked: I feel as disconnected from the co-opted sentimentalism and maudlin displays as I might from a quaint hero’s holiday celebrated in some far-off land.  I felt it viscerally at the time, and feel the utmost sympathy for those who lost people.  I’m also under no illusion that there is not a large group of people that has chosen me for an enemy.  But 9-1-1 is simply not mine anymore.