Archive for December 2006

Which Way To The Beach?

We’re safely ensconsed in Squamish, BC, at the home of a friend.  So far, we’re the only ones here.  Our hosts will arrive tomorrow, and we’re told that “some others” will be here as well, perhaps as early as tonight.  Last summer when we came here for a weekend, there ended up being 18 people in the house.  Sharing one bathroom.  Somehow, it all worked out very amiably, with no fistfights or “accidents”.  Most of them weren’t nearly as old as we are, which probably helped.

The drive north started in sunshine and crystal-clear views of the Cascades and Mt. Baker (a volcano near the Canadian border).  As we approached the border, however, clouds rolled in, and by the time we crossed the Lion’s Gate Bridge to North Vancouver, it was raining steadily, and the raindrops, like popcorn, were trying to become snowflakes.

The last two times we’ve come up, we’ve been intrigued by a French-language radio station playing an eclectic brew of world music.  Mrs. Perils, who took four years of high-school French, has fun trying to catch some of the chatter and news-reading.  At one point in a newscast, we were able to discern “Geor-jay Boosh”, and Mrs. Perils immediately cried, “le BOO!  le HISSSSSS!”  I’m thinking that whatever Francophonyism she retains has its origins in PePe LePew cartoons, and not in Mrs. Jollay’s salon at PHS.

Another amusing thing from the drive: there’s a lot of construction on Hwy 99 between Vancouver and the Whistler ski area in anticipation of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and we passed a banner sign that exhorted, “Never Pass By an Unsafe Act.”  Immediately, I said, “Nope - we’ll join right in”  and Mrs. Perils followed with, “Who’s got the Mazola?”.  They’re not very picky about who they let in here, or we dissemble really well.

Otherwise, the drive was so different from the one in August, when Howe Sound sparkled its giddy welcome.  Today, it was gray, brooding and barely distinguishable from the clouds that enveloped it and the shadowy islands in its midst.

Our son has spent the last 4 days at Whistler with a friend and his extended family, and was headed back to Seattle today because he has to work the weekend.  We contacted him by phone as we got to Vancouver, hoping to catch him somewhere along the route we’d be travelling in opposite directions.  Turned out that he had left early, and stopped in Squamish to hike up the Chief and do some bouldering (a form of rock climbing).  We rendezvous’d at the Howe Sound Pub in Squamish and had a nice afternoon meal with him before parting company with the obligatory parental admonishments for safe driving, etc.

The kid told me not to bother going up to Whistler because it was super-crowded, the lift tickets were $80/day Canadian and parking was scarce, all due to the holiday weekend.  He said he had a good time skiing and staying in the village, but that I’d probably regret doing it as a day trip.  As you could probably tell from my prior post, it wouldn’t have taken much to dissuade me from skiing this weekend, and I think his comments were all I needed to demur.  We’ll see what the others coming in want to do - they are rock climbers (in the summer) and very active types, so I’m sure we’ll be outdoors doing something.

I want to put together an album of my favorite photos of 2006, so watch this space.

Skipping The Country

It’s been a short week of many distractions, as my clients are all going through various year-end processes, things they only do once a year, and getting a little panicky sometimes.  This translates to a lot of phone calls and software-tweaking.  Thank heavens for PCAnywhere and Remote Desktop, which let me beam in and fix something, or guide them to do it.

I think, however, that I’ve banked most of the fires, and we’ll be heading to Squamish, BC to bunk out with friends for most or all of the weekend.  We had a wonderful time there last August, but that was accompanied by soft, dulcet breezes.  Not sure what the recreational opportunities will be.  There are rumors of skiing at Whistler, but I haven’t skiied in at least 2 years, and never was any damn good at it.  Still, it’ll be nice to get away for a little change of scenery.

No Socks - But a Really Cool Toy

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend.  I found that having Christmas fall on Monday was like filing for an extension to file a tax return - I had two extra days to shop and otherwise get my act together.  I finished shopping Saturday, then on Sunday, we finally got our tree up.

We tend to roll out Christmas day at a pretty leisurely pace.  Since the rest of my side of the family is in the eastern time zone, there used to be a good chance they’d call and perhaps spill some important information before we’d even made our coffee and gotten limber enough to crawl on the floor to plug the tree in.  That’s not so likely now that children are grown, and seldom seen about the house on a weekend morning, and now that my brothers are, quite frankly, getting old.

I got many lovely gifts, including a gift certificate that will nudge us up to Orcas Island sometime, some nice wine, a favorite fruitcake.  One of them, however, perhaps the biggest one, presented a dilemma - an iPod video 80gb.  I unwrapped the packages - the player, the docking station, some accoutrement for car & travel - and was a little stunned.  I’ve never owned anything Apple, and only ever touched an iPod once or twice.  The unopened boxes almost hummed with mystery and temptation.  However, I already have an mp3 player with a 40gb drive (a Creative Zen Xtra) and I’ve been happy with it.  But…but…it doesn’t have a color display;  it doesn’t render video;  or photographs;  it’s 3 times as big as the iPod.  But..but..I need reading glasses to dial my cell phone - how much good will a 2.5 inch video screen do me?  I could get something really cool from Best Buy in exchange.

But…I kept looking at those boxes, and imagined opening them and being whisked into the main channel.  See, I’ve owned 2 mp3 players, the Creative and an Archos that died from poor construction and being French.  With both purchases, I considered the comparable iPod, and the value proposition, the significantly lower cost for more capacious players, won me over.  Then I’d go into Best Buy and see racks of cool doodads made just for the iPod;  I’d shop for music on iTunes and feel like a second-class citizen since I couldn’t get the tunes onto my mp3 player without burning a cd and then ripping it back.

So, about an hour after removing the wrapping paper and dithering, I caved to the seduction of the thing itself, and the legitimating ethos it would confer upon me, and opened the box.  I’ve been having a great time ever since.  I finally became privy to the secrets of the clickwheel.  And the color display is dazzling.  And iTunes now welcomes me like a Yale legacy instead of like a public-school poseur.  Life is good.



Whadda ya mean, it’s tomorrow?  Are the stores still open?

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Probably at LaSalle’s in downtown Toledo, ca 1955.  Santa’s really thinking about an ice-cold Stroh’s.  I’m not sure what I’d be asking for at that point, but I seem to be pretty involved in articulating my wishes .  Probably not a tie, though - how could you improve on that one (my mom probably made it.  She probably also made the suit - there was a coat and a hat that went with those pants.?

Ghosts of Christmases Past

Back in the day, back when it was just me, Mrs. Perils and the batshit crazy, cannibis-addled cat, Natasha, that we dragged out here from Bowling Green, Ohio when we moved here in 1974, we took to making our own Christmas cards.  Mrs. Perils is a gifted cartoonist, and we had some fun in the design and execution.

We started simple - pen & ink drawings that we would have Xeroxed, and that Mrs. Perils would then hand-color individually.  This one was from a time when we bicycled nearly everywhere we went, and was apparently from our pre-helmet days.  It has sort of a New Yorker quality to it, doncha think?  We wanted to place ourselves emphatically in our new city, co-opting its familiar iconography.  It bore the caption “Christmas is nearly upon us”:

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A few years later, we discovered color Xerox.  We also discovered ourselves possessed of a young boy-child, and I was conveying that maybe I hadn’t left Ohio and my OSU Marching Band roots entirely behind:

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This next one (I’m not sure these two are chronological) depicts an after-midnight sorta-Nordstrom’s display window replete with:

  • a flasher elf
  • a chainsaw-wielding elf
  • a slutty hooker elf reclining on a divan
  • a couch-potato elf being harangued by his harpy-elf mate
  • an elf Christmas tree festooned with fishhooks, hatchets, switchblades and a mousetrap

We were most certainly trying too hard to nudge ourselves toward the nether end of the Sacred/Profane scale.

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Mrs. Perils will tell you that I goaded her into subject matter that would not have occurred to her unbidden, but I submit that an evil and irredeemable genius (I love that in a woman) revels in the rendering of these details.

There are more of these around here somewhere.  I’ll scan & post them if I find them.

And In This Corner..

New posts at Wallingford Wanderings.  Soon, they’re going to discover that it’s my mind that wanders.


Well, I missed the Big Storm Of 2006, holed up in Milwaukee until late Friday night.  As I read accounts of suffering, privation, death and generosity, I had this feeling of deja vu that I couldn’t quite place: the pattern of sudden, chaotic natural upheaval followed just as suddenly by deceptive normality.  Then this afternoon, I realized that the situation was (very faintly, for sure) echoing the Indonesian tsunami.

Chez Perils lost power for about 15 hours between midnight Thursday and Friday afternoon.  The only lingering effect was the loss of internet access due, as I eventually diagnosed, to the fact that our wireless router got fried when the power came back on.  A couple of clicks on Craigslist, a liaison in a QFC parking lot, a furtive cash transaction and I now have Wireless G (an upgrade), and everyone is happily surfing again.

Others have not been so fortunate, and many are still waiting for power to come back on.  As folks try to ward away the chill, some unwisely bring fossil-fuel-burning appliances indoors, with tragic consequences.  No matter where you live, it proves that you should engage in some level of emergency preparedness.

Headed Home

Heading home from Milwaukee - last trip of the year, I believe.  Had to pause in my rush through security to video these kids bravely playing near E Concourse in the Milwaukee airport:

I have missed a horrific week of rain and wind in Seattle, it sounds like.  I watched a bit of the Seahawks game last night that was played in Seattle, and even though you could see the rain coming down and water on the field, there was little hint of the absolute havoc that was occurring elsewhere in the city.  When I called home today, I learned that my house had been without power for 12 hours.  Their (our) power came on about 3, but the cable is still out, so Mrs. Perils has not made her rounds to your blogs yet today. 

I hope the cable comes back soon.  I have a dialup account, but…  Actually, I could just hang out here in the Northwest Worldclub in Minneapolis until I hear for certain that the cable is back on, couldn’t I?  There’s free WiFi, free drinks and nibbles, even an espresso machine, although it serves wretched coffee (Egbert & Douwe or something like that - they took out perfectly lovely Acorto machines that ground real coffee beans).  But, nah, I’ll board my Seattle-bound 757 at 9:40, and hope my landing at Seatac doesn’t go like this one:

Update:  Seatac’s been closed off & on today as they’ve had power outages and wind damage.  I just checked my flight, and it’s delayed a half-hour “due to airport conditions”.  Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

Quick Visit To The Heartland

I think I remember how to do this…

I’m travelling again - Milwaukee, where else? - and dropped into Perrysburg (Ohio) over the weekend to visit my mom.  As a matter of unwelcome deja vu, she’s nursing a case of shingles (deja vu for me - I had a case of them last June).  I’m glad I was able to distract her from them a bit.  I hung a couple of wreaths, repaired a couple of issues with her computer and we got out for a couple of walks in the unexpectedly sunny, mild weather.  We also put up the Christmas tree that we bought last year, a surprisingly (because it’s artificial) lovely one.  (sorry we’re in the way):

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Then Sunday night saw me hopping Lake Michigan for a the work week.

Waxing, Philosophical

Actual conversation at Chez Perils:

Mrs P: Have you seen the Britney Spears photos yet?
Me: (Quickly calculating the various consequences of “yes” (true) vs. “no” (bald…faced…lie)):  Um, Yes?
Mrs P: Can you believe that?  What a skank.  Besides that, she’s a big Bush supporter.
Me: Not according to the photos I saw.