Archive for April 2008


I finished Paul Theroux’s Hotel Honolulu a week or so ago, and enjoyed it. It’s not so much a novel as it is a set of connected stories. The premise is that the narrator is a published writer who hasn’t published anything in a while, has gone through a divorce, and just needs to park himself someplace for a while. He falls into the job of managing the Hotel Honolulu, an aging second- or third-tier hotel in Honolulu. Although he seems to be resolutely done as a writer, the kaleidescope of hotel guests, employees and locals that he is able to observe from his perch in the hotel impels him inexorably back to the keyboard. Lotsa fun.

I was reminded, as I read, of a place in Miami Beach that my grandparents took me to for a couple of spring trips when I was in the third and fourth grades. I’m not sure why they inflicted me on themselves in this manner. I guess they were a) attempting to civilize and educate me and b) were perhaps lightening the load on my parents for a bit.

The place we stayed in both times was called, oddly, the Fabulous Hotel Waikiki. On Miami Beach. The first time we went, I had just had my tonsils out after going through several relatively sickly years; I was also getting my first burst of hormones, and starting to morph form a skinny little kid to a chubby 9-year-old. On this trip, I found I had a real jones for fried shrimp and scallops, and even though I would get sick sometimes from (another new experience) swimming in the Fabulous Waikiki’s salt-water pool, I evidently didn’t purge enough of the seafood delights to keep from packing on some weight.

As I said, the title of Theroux’s book reminded me of the Fabulous Waikiki, and I was curious about what happened to it, and whether it was still around. The only thing I found was this postcard for sale on eBay. It was mailed to someone in Des Plaines, IL in July, 1957, which would have been the same year I was there. I myself sent many a smug missive on this same postcard. It was a pleasant shock to see it again:

In the same vein, Mrs. Perils and I are sitting in the Atlanta airport, on our way to Charleston, SC and 5 days on the beach on Pawley’s Island, just south of Myrtle Beach.  As in past years, we’re meeting up with my brothers, their wives and my mom and her sister.  More travelogue anon.

Weather..Or Not

If you read any other Puget Sound bloggers, you are probably all “get over it” about our gvetching about the cold spring we’ve had. And you probably already know how things took some strange lurches over the last week. Last Saturday, we awoke to a sunny day on which the temperature climbed to almost 80F, and the warmth lingered into the night.

Mrs. Perils and I donned t-shirts and sandals(!) for a stroll down to Gasworks Park. There, we found legions of squinting Seattlites lolling languidly about the park and forgetting, momentarily, about pedestrians who have died of hypothermia waiting for walk lights at major arterials.

If you enlarge the photo on the lower right, you’ll notice an interesting piece of picnic technology that probably has nothing to do with grilling brats or burgers.

Afterwards, we ambled down to Fremont for margaritas and dinner at El Camino.

We only got one day of this bliss - Sunday reverted to rain and mid-50ish temperatures And the week got steadily colder, culminating in this scene Friday evening - against a backdrop of cherry blossoms, hail pellets rain down on our humble “appurtenant structure” and cascade off the roof like packing peanuts.

The hail turned to snow and persisted for an hour or two. Of course, this hell broke loose just as I was beginning my run down to the gym for a workout that I desperately needed. Below left is our Japanese maple gamely trying to develop buds. On the right are the foolish “early adopter” flowers, which would have been better served waiting for Spring 2008, Service Pack 1.


Apparently fed up with the wintry recidivism in our yard, the dude above was using that renowned mollusk ingenuity to make his escape. Apparently unfamiliar with the alphabet, he was trying to become H-cargo, when his biological imperative should have driven him to seek a Saab, Saturn of Subaru to cleave to. (Didn’t something similar happen in one of the Aliens movies?)

On this morning, however, he would have endured the equivalent of the Oregon Trail, a dizzying commute across the 520 bridge to Redmond. I thought it might be interesting to see if his adhesive grip could withstand the centripetal force of the wheel’s rotation for the 20 miles of freeway driving. On many 520 commutes, in fact, he’d get there faster by jumping off and using his own form of locomotion.

Instead, I pulled him off and tossed him into the moist, inviting parking strip before I drove away.  (No snails were harmed in the production of this blog post).

Sick Transit (again)

I’ve finished my work week in Milwaukee, and am hanging in the Minneapolis airport awaiting my 9:20pm flight home to Seattle, which has been delayed to 11:10 due to “awaiting connecting passengers”.  WTF?  Has anyone ever delayed an outbound flight to make sure my sweet ass is seated and comfortable?

Turns out we’re waiting for 60 passengers from Washington, DC.  Strange to have so many from one flight from one destination.  Either it’s a political juggernaut that has lost its ability to charter private jets, or it’s a bunch of kids junketing to see how our civic life is conducted.

I remember when I was in grade school, we sold seeds and worked in the cafeteria as 5th-graders in order to accumulate money for a 6th-grade trip to Washington, DC.  We traveled by train, and stayed in a hotel - I have no idea where.  I remember Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s estate, and visiting the monuments.  I also remember the poor beleaguered principal coming to the room I shared with 2 other guys to try to get us to give up our card game and go to sleep.

We’ll see who these DC folks are in an hour or so.

Meantime, I finished reading Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux this week, and got a start on How To Read And Why by the venerable (and cranky) Harold Bloom.

Have a good weekend!  See you on the other side.

Abject and Total Wasn’t Bad Enough…

Working in Milwaukee this week, where blogging inspiration goes to die. However, I resurface just long enough to regale you with the following error message from Microsoft Access, which assaulted me as I was trying to save a report form I’d spent an hour or so on:

If they had any imagination, they’d have little animated mushroom clouds billowing in the margins. At least give me my money’s worth of entertainment.

OK, let’s see if I remember everything I did.

Yachting, Perils-Style

Last weekend, I responded to a thread in a kayaking maillist I subscribe to proposing a “mileage” (as opposed to a “crashing-into-rocks-propelled-by-ocean-surf” or a “how-much-time-can-you-spend-upside-down-in-40-degree-water”) paddling excursion. I mean, I can see the attraction of kayak-surfing, and I recognize the value of being able to capsize and right yourself before you turn into an iceberg, and I’ll at least force myself to be able to do the latter, hopefully sometime this spring. But when I contemplate a day on the water, I’m really visualizing a waterborne substitute for the running that I seldom do any more (owing to chronically sore ankles), enhanced by a little scenery.

So, the appeal of the “mileage” advertisement was its promise of a good workout and the best chance of avoiding immersion. We planned to launch from a pocket beach just south of the Edmonds ferry terminal and paddle south for a few miles, hoping to catch the tail end of the ebb current on the way back.

Continuing this week’s “weather” theme, I encountered wind-driven snow showers on my drive north on I-5 to the launch point, engendering thoughts of how to convincingly plead mechanical failure or unlooked-for physical infirmity. Failing that, I arrived at the launch point and met up with my companion. We arranged our gear, struggled into our Goretex dry suits and heaved to.

The expanded horizon of Puget Sound gave us a ringside seat for the weather gymnastics that have rolled through the area of late: brilliant sunshine, apocalyptic clouds, rain squalls scurrying like jaywalkers across the water (Click any photo to enlarge):

My companion had a vhf radio (which I should really acquire if I’m going to do more Sound crossings), and periodically appeared transfixed by the chatter between the Coast Guard and various aquatic actors - ferry boats, kayaks, container ships. We were intrigued by the fact that no one seemed to be in contact with the container ship in the upper left photo (just to the right of the red kayak). A few minutes after this photo, the container ship disappeared behind a curtain of rain, and we wondered if all other stakeholders were aware of its presence and speed. He eventually checked in. I’m sure there are protocols that we simple scullers are oblivious to.

As promised, we had a gratifying ebb current behind us on the way back. We paddled for an hour and a half south, covering about 4.5 miles, and the return trip took almost exactly an hour. Back at the launch point, the sun broke out, and men and birds alike basked in its beneficence:

All told, a sweet early-season calisthenic. I will, in a week or so, assay the task of learning how to eskimo-roll under various conditions. I owe it to the people who allow me to paddle with them to be able to not only rescue myself (I can do that now, by wet-exiting my boat and climbing back in), but to do so as efficiently as possible, so as not to inconvenience, and endanger, them as well as myself.

But Sunday, I just wanted exercise and a day on the water.

Dark Side Of The Moon

According to my web host, they’re going to be doing a MySQL upgrade tonight, and service will be (even more) sporadic, if not non-existent, between 9pm PDT - 1AM.  The way things have been working the last couple of weeks, they can’t make it worse.  Hope to see you tomorrow.


Spring has been lurching into the northwest this year like a Tourette’s ballerina, in the inconstant element of air, anyway. The more reliable Earth, however, is pushing it inexorably forth. Mrs. Perils (and I along with her) is often drawn to a remarkable property a few blocks from the house that harbors a barely-manicured yard under a canopy of large trees. She is particularly drawn, at this time of year, to these lilies:

Our local atmospheric vagaries are also no match for the celestial inertia of the Big Bang, and despite April snow flurries, sunset comes incrementally later each day. One of these days we’ll awake, blinking, to the prospect of a 70-degree day that is the progeny of a 35-degree night, and only then (choose to) notice that the lawn has needed mowing for a month.