Archive for March 2007

All Right!

The game had sort of a goofy pace, but our guard play and willingness to play defense won out.  We have a party to go to, so I won’t get to watch UCLA - Florida.  I’m not sure I can stand another OSU-Florida national championship game.  I’m still tender from that whuppin’ on January 8.

Hoya Doin’?

Just got back from a session at the gym, and warming up the tube for the Ohio State-Georgetown Final Four basketball game in Atlanta. My brother, who lives in Alpharetta, is at the Georgia Dome with his wife and a daughter who’s attending Ohio State. He’s been text messaging me with cheers and pictures. If I can figure out how to do it, I’ll post them up here, but I think I have to forward them from my phone to a mailbox somewhere.

So, it’s OSU time here for the next couple of hours and, perhaps, through Monday night.

In the meantime, you can see a story about my introduction to the Final Four, and the beginnings of my life as an Ohio State fan here.

Is This A Dagger That I See Before Me?

I’ve spent the week since coming home from Milwaukee shuttling between two clients, each of which has a new bookkeeper/accounting manager for me to train, support and comfort. Indications are that both will survive my tuition and succeed anyway.

For reading, I’ve been pecking away at a couple of back issues of the New York Review of Books that have been lying around here. I feel compelled to pass on this excerpt. Admittedly, it doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with the process of governing, but it does add a dimension to Bill Clinton that takes me a little bit by surprise. I’m hard-pressed to imagine anything remotely similar happening in a receiving line with the current White House occupant.

Biding my time until we take burnin’ wood to the dunce inane.

First Weekend of Spring (even in Seattle)

(A chill little tune to play while you read, or fall into a coma. It’s called Bumpin’ On Sunset by Brian Auger. A little “smooth-jazzy”, but there’s some nice piano work in the middle:)

I pried myself away from CBS’ clutches this afternoon to take a bike ride. Saturday was so miserably rainy that I forsook all intentions of working in the garden - or, rather, that heathen patch of dirt in the back that is quickly filling up with the weedy bounty of irrepressible spring. Instead, I lazed around watching basketball and untangling personal affairs that, after a week on the road, were every bit as impenetrable as the tundra in the back yard. I did manage to amble down to the gym for a Nautilus session, then scurried back for a dinner date with Mrs. Perils at a neighborhood sushi restaurant, aptly named
Click any photo to enlarge

A margarita had me pondering whether there was such a thing as a sous sushi chef, and how many margaritas it would take to impair my pronunciation of it. (Wasn’t that a Phil Collins song?)
So, the bike ride. I’ve throttled back on my running the last couple of months because my ankles have been giving me some grief. They might feel ok when I’m running, but then when I get home and climb the stairs, I get shots of pain. I guess I should haul my disintegrating ass up to the doctor’s and confirm that I’m old and broken, so that I can quit wondering.

Casus Belly - The result has been moderate inflation in certain sectors, which in turn probably exacerbates the ankle damage, etc. I’m needing some more vigorous and thoroughgoing exercise, and I’ve turned to the bike for a bit. It’s more immediate than kayaking, because I don’t have to load up the car and drive someplace.

There’s a nifty rail-trail just down the hill from us, the Burke-Gilman Trail, and that’s where I headed today.

Except for sporadic errands, today was my first ride in at least 6 months, so I was content to spin along easily and see what I could do. I used to ride all the time - it was sort of a religion. The late 70s, for instance, might have found me commuting to work wearing one of the leisure suits my mom made for me. We lost the habit of bicycling when our kid was growing up and made clear that he didn’t like the confinement of long rides in a child seat on the back of our tandem. (early on, he got some entertainment value out of pulling his mom’s shorts down as we struggled up a hill, eliciting the occasional appreciative honk from passing drivers, but this soon lost its allure).

We have a nice stable of bikes, although the newest one, the one I’m riding, was built for a friend of mine by local framebuilder Glenn Erickson. I got it at a pretty good price when he upgraded:

As you can see if you know bikes, it’s pretty old school, albeit with some of the best components available at the time - Campagnolo Record hubs, cranks and pedals, for instance. I’d need a permit from the historical preservation board to change anything, I think. Would that they were as finicky about my body.
The trail is part of a growing network of trails in the area, and you can ride 30 or 40 miles in one direction. And, because it’s built on an old railroad bed, any elevation changes are so gradual that you barely notice them. Especially when you first start out, and the vividness of your muscle memory is masking important whistleblower communications from your leg and butt muscles, and you’re riding into what you think is a headwind, and looking forward to the tailwind on the way home.

I rode about 10 miles and stopped at this park on Lake Washington:

As you can see, the day was having a tough time deciding just how far to go with this “spring” stuff. But I was confident that it wasn’t going to rain, and I decided to ride along a little further rather than turn around at that point, as I’d planned to. When I did turn around about 5 miles up the trail, the tailwind I had been waiting to savor had become a headwind. I hunkered down on the drop portion of my handlebars and ground my way back up the trail, now feeling every little nuanced incline.

The prize for finishing a bike ride from the house is a climb home of about a mile. I got down on that last gear I’d been saving stood up and hauled myself up, wondering if it had ever been this hard before, and harboring a dark suspicion that it hadn’t. It really is pretty shabby to be as waxed as I was by a mere 25 miles of riding, but I’m still glad I got out. It’ll be that much easier now to coax myself out for the next ride, and I’ll just lay off the running and see what happens.

Still Dancin’

The Buckeyes survived the weekend and will play the winner of today’s Georgetown - North Carolina game next Saturday. For a little rousing music (and I’m testing a new Wordpress plug-in), try this:

Hey! Looks like it works!  Look forward to other aural treats (not all will be brass band juvenilia).

It will be tough for either team to win on Saturday, but the possibility exists for my Killer Nuts and KathyR’s UCLA Bruins to meet next Monday for the title.  Good Luck against Florida!

Another Barn Gets Burnt. That Was CLOSE

Whoop! What a great ending! Mike Conley, Jr. is one sweet point guard. Now we play Memphis Saturday, and my middle brother just pointed out in a (post-midnight for him in Charleston) email that he’s a graduate of both schools - OSU as an undergrad, and he has a masters from Memphis. I really don’t think there’s much question what colors he’ll be wearing on Saturday.

I’ve been letting out a “whoop” now and then, and, unless others in the hotel have the game on, they are probably flattering me with their speculations. Or planning to kill me.

One more day of work here in Milwaukee, then flying home tomorrow night on the 9:15 milk run to Seattle from Minneapolis. No big plans, but there’s a big garden in the back yard that needs to be spaded up. Not sure whether it’s too early to plant the first round of peas. I know we’ve planted them in February before, but I think they mostly stayed dormant and arrived contemporaneously with the second planting.

Have a good Friday, everyone. I’ve got a couple of hours to lay over in Minneapolis tomorrow evening - you may hear from me.

Cliffhanger

I’ve been sitting here in my hotel room, pretending to work while Ohio State plays Tennessee in the NCAA round of 16. Early on, it looked like my time might be better spent catching up on some sleep, as the Buckeyes fell behind by 20 points and the game had started at 10pm Eastern. At the end of the first half, I IM’d my brother that the players looked like they’d rather be in school (he replied that they looked like they were being schooled). It was an all-too-familiar feeling - me in Milwaukee watching the Buckeyes playing an SEC team in a post-season championship game, and getting ripped.

With 4 minutes left in the first half, however, they’ve caught up and even had a 3-point lead. Behind by 1 point now, so I guess I’ll sleep on the plane home tomorrow night. It’s just a terrific game right now for a disinterested spectator. I hope he’s having fun.

I’ll check with you later - the Bucks need my full attention right now.

Roots

As most of you know, I grew up near Toledo, Ohio. Every now and then, I check out the newspaper that gave me a meager income and my first frostbite when I was a middle-school paperboy, the Toledo Blade. It gives me just a little whiff of my home earth. After perusing a few articles, I almost always check out one of their columnists, Roberta de Boer. She has a light but irreverent touch about local issues and chicanery, and can scourge the Bush and recently-departed Taft administrations with the best of them.

The other day, she made a wistfully resigned reference to an NPR piece in which native (to Toledo) son P.J. O’Rourke read an essay of his that is compiled in a book called Good Roots: Writers Reflect on Growing Up in Ohio. I looked through the Table of Contents available at Amazon, cringing a little at the possibility of finding someone I knew or had gone to school with among the anointed writers. I didn’t see any familiar names, actually, except O’Rourke’s, although that fact may simply illuminate my shaky literary pretentions. Sherwood Anderson must have demurred, or thought Winesburg broke the mold for this kind of thing.

A lot of what I’ve read of P.J.’s in recent years seems more lazily smug than funny, but that might simply be due to the fact that he’s turned to the dark side, politically. But during the 70s, he was editor of the National Lampoon, and while there produced two of the most brilliant pieces of printed satire I’ve ever seen, the 1964 High School Yearbook Parody and a sort-of sequel, the Sunday Newspaper Parody.

The reason I mention these parodies is because the yearbook is a dead ringer for our small-town high school yearbooks. Its setting is the Estes Kefauver High School in Dacron, Ohio (Silage County) and is rendered in intricate detail, through which you can follow several story lines. The newspaper, the Dacron Republican-Democrat, came in a plastic bag with several newsprint sections, including an advertising pullout from a big-box precursor called SwillMart. With its small-town politics and commercial boosterism, it has an unmistakable Ohio feel.

As an example of the humor, there’s a section detailing Saturday night’s rescue-squad calls. As you read them, you note that they keep returning to one citizen’s house and never quite figure out what’s wrong. Over in the obituaries on another page, you see that this same citizen has died of “incompetent rescue-squad practices”. One more: in the church ads, the Episcopal church features “you and the Trinity make a rubber for a hand of God’s contract bridge”, and touts “cocktails in the narthex after the service”.

I still possess both of these gems back in Seattle. I may have to scan some of the stuff and pump it up here when I get back.

I may have to nab a copy of the Good Roots book. Even though I’m 35 years removed from living there, I like to wander around my home town when I visit my mom, past places where Mrs. Perils and I may have shared a teenage intimacy.

Now that I think about it, there’s a book I have that was published in the 60s by a glass company in Toledo called The Roots Grow Deep that has a picture of 4 generations of my family who had worked there. I became the fifth, briefly, when I worked a couple of summers there when I was in college.

Sometimes when I go running, I set my course for these environs, in the Fort Meigs Cemetery on the far side of town:

Click any photo to enlarge

I don’t really have much in the way of spiritual or religious leaning, but I get something of a sense of depth, or connectedness, out of these brief visits. I don’t stay much longer than to catch my breath and (sorry, Grandpa) lean against a stone to stretch. My threadbare molecules will not reside here when they finally cease their unnatural coalescence in my body, and there are, or will be, similar broken threads throughout this cemetery. One thing P.J. had right in his essay was the breadth of the Ohio diaspora.

And, no, Mrs. Perils and I never did anything naughty in the cemetery. Did we, dear?

More Travel Tales

The airlines are making it harder to get upgrades.

Based on my experience with first-class seatmates, this happens more often than you might think.

TW3

Busy week. Began with a visit from my SIL and her 3 boys. They drove over from Idaho to visit with Mrs. Perils’ mother, who lives with us. Space was pretty tight at Chez Perils for those three nights. At least it felt that way, because my nocturnal insomniac ramblings were circumscribed by the bodies strewn around the living room.

My MO - frequently, as it turns out - is if I wake up and can’t get back to sleep in 15 - 20 minutes, I abandon the marital bed, stumble downstairs, fire up the laptop and crash on the couch. This week, however, I was forced to cleave to my pillow for the duration. As a result, I made a lot of progress in Inheritance of Loss, at the expense, I’m sure, of troubling Mrs. Perils’ REM bliss with my page-turnings and light-shinings.

There was further distress midweek because I had to assist a client in terminating an employee I’ve been working with for a year or so. I’d been helping him interview replacements for a few weeks, so I wasn’t completely unprepared, but it was stressful nonetheless because we all liked the employee, and the reason was cumulative dissatisfaction with performance, and not some clear-cut for-cause event like theft or misbehavior. I carried a certain feeling of guilt, as well, because I wondered if I could have done more to make the person better. As it turned out, the person said she thought it might be coming, and that she knew she wasn’t keeping up in those areas, so we avoided some unpleasantness, but it’s still an experience I wouldn’t want to be around all that often.
The rest of the week, including Saturday, was spent furiously training her replacement, and trying to find where lots of mundane stuff was squirreled away around the office.

So, today, I’m on a 6:10 am flight to Atlanta, ultimate destination Milwaukee. I’m on this circuitous itinerary because I wasn’t really paying attention when I was making my reservation through Northwest, and assumed when I saw the 6:20 departure that it was their usual routing through Minneapolis. Only after I had purchased the ticket did I notice that they’d booked me on Delta (with whom they code-share). I didn’t want to pay the change fee plus a substantial fare increase, and I’ll get more FF miles this way, so what the hey.

Another time sink this week was the beginning of March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament. My Buckeyes are a #1 seed in the South region, so I have a big dog in the fight. Plus, this first 4 days is always just delightful mayhem. Starting Thursday morning, it seems like a game starts every 10 minutes or so as 64 teams get winnowed down to 16 by Sunday night.

This year, CBS is offering online live video of most of the games. It’s been free for these first two rounds, so I, along with legions of others, I’m sure, began siphoning off bandwidth from various clients in order to check in on various games.

In just about the most exciting game this year so far, the Buckeyes came from 11 points down to tie Xavier at the buzzer Saturday, and then won the game in overtime to escape what would have been an ignominious early exit from the tournament. So, I’ll be sneaking peeks again this week, although I’ll be in the Central time zone, and the games will be at more reasonable hours.

So, off to the friendly skies. Perhaps I can post from Atlanta.