Archive for July 2008

Dreamy Sashimi

We ducked out for the sushi happy hour at our fave local joint, Rain, on Wednesday, and were pleasantly surprised by a trio that started playing just as we were finishing our tuna roll.  We shared an extra mojito and listened to the first set.

There are two kinds of musicians: those that have gigs

And those that don’t:

We think we’ve seen the dude on the bicycle playing real good for free in the tunnel between Woodland Park and the Zoo.  He was awfully good, but there was no tip jar.

I made a video of this trio, but my A720 only records in mono, and the movie-mode zoom is digital, not optical.  The good news is that Canon agreed to repair my S3 IS under warranty, and I now have it in my hot little hands.  It records in stereo, and the optical zoom works with the movie mode.   I take long enough to collect gear for our neighborhood walks as it is; now, I’ll take even longer dithering over which sub-SLR camera to sling - the compact one that fits on my belt, or the nicer one that requires me to carry a man-purse.

On to the weekend!


Mrs. Perils received an IM last week that purported to be from an online book group acquaintance of ours, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be from the woman’s daughter, saying that her mother had passed away suddenly.  We really haven’t been exposed as yet to that many contemporaries dying, so it’s a shock, still, when it happens, even to someone you’ve never met in person.

Which leads to another facet of this relatively new phenomenon of online socialization.  I’ve read people debating about the relative “reality” of “f2f” (face-to-face) friends and those we’ve met online. To me, at least, these online friendships are just as real as those corporeal ones.  So, it would seem to require a new protocol in how we prepare for our demises.  We may have elaborate conventional wills and other instructions to our real-life executors for the throwing of parties, the scattering of ashes, the presence or absence of in-laws at the memorial, and perhaps even how to adjudicate among the 5 people to whom you’ve promised that priceless Ming vase.

But what provisions do we make for disseminating the presumably unwelcome news of our demise to our online communities?  Does it just come down to a sudden silence that stretches on and on, without even a disembodied foot washing up on some cyber-Vancouver Island?  Or do we include instructions in our wills for the orderly scrolling through our IM Friends, Outlook Contacts, blog readers, World of Warcraft nemeses?  How about that Second Life that your spouse didn’t know you were leading?

In the absence of such a protocol, I was impressed that our friend’s daughter took the trouble to free-lance as she did.  I’ll have to consider what provisions to make myself.  But in view of my periodic extended silences, you’ll probably just think I moved to Milwaukee.

Home Cookin’

Well, last week in Milwaukee engendered another of my inexplicable blackouts. I guess the combination of intense work and hotel nights just sucks away my inspiration.

On Friday night, I hopped over to Detroit, met up with my youngest brother, and we zipped down I-75 to Perrysburg to visit our mom for the weekend. She’s recovering nicely from a bout of pneumonia that had hospitalized her for a few days in late June (and scuttled her trip to join us in Ashland). My bro and I took a long walk around town with the specific purpose of seeing what has changed and what’s stayed the same, and to just revel a bit in the high midwest summer, which repaid us by behaving exactly according to type - 90-ish sunny heat, followed by a short rain squall, followed by more sun that created a foggy soup of palpably aqueous air.

I actually enjoy a bit of that kind of weather for nostalgic purposes, and marvel a little that we endured summers without a shred of air conditioning in our house.

Here are a few pics from our walkabout. It’s not unusual in our hometown to find homes flying flags or other insignia of either Ohio State or Michigan year-round. Despite the changes in weather throughout the year, there is a binary time-template superimposed over the year: football season, and not-football season. It’s not so usual, and it even speaks to a certain bothersome moral relativism, when you find the emblems cohabiting in such close quarters as this (Click any pic to enlarge):

In this milieu, I am able to wear an OSU t-shirt without having to affect an air of irony in defense against west coast urban chic. Even a t-shirt commemorating our blow-out loss to LSU last year in the national championship game. You can get some idea of the heat and humidity from the shirt’s drenched state:

We walked through a street to which I stoically delivered newspapers in Jr. High, and emerged in the area of the municipal swimming pool, where we spent many a summer afternoon trying to position ourselves nonchalantly near ladders where a girl might emerge with just a little too much water weighing down her bikini top. This is also where Mrs. Perils worked as the cutest lifeguard ever..and to which we repaired one summer post-midnight to rewrite from a species standpoint the reason that W. C. Fields claimed to not drink water.

Just up the street we came upon the elementary school which my bro attended and where Mrs. Perils’ mother taught third grade. We think that was her room at the far left.

Perrysburg has a fairly typical midwest-town main street, at the end of which stands a statue of the town’s namesake, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. It’s unclear why his statue is flanked by two lesser statues of lounging cabin boys with hands firmly gripping their…swords, but Little Bro has apparently taken a liking to one of them:

The walk ends as we approach my mom’s house (in red brick. The house on the left was where my paternal grandparents lived). The place looks great now in summer, but the year my parents built it and moved us in (1961), it was a forlorn island in a sea of newly-graded dirt. Dirt which I toiled in that summer to plant grass, shrubs and trees, and upon which I toiled for many summers after with a push lawn mower. I actually ended up making my high school living mowing 5 or 6 such lawns in the neighborhood.

Our nostalgia for that agrarian toil found us on Saturday afternoon and Sunday trimming trees and bushes, planting a couple of Rhododendrons. The roseate glow of memory did not extend, however, to the legions of mosquitoes that attacked us unceasingly as we tore into their hidey-holes with clippers and rakes. As evening encroached, fireflies, which we don’t have in Seattle, flickered their Morse code of high summer, but by then I considered them merely as tracer bullets for the kamikaze mosquitoes. I retired to the house slick with sweat and festooned with mosquito body parts.

The three of us had a swell time, and it at least partially made up for my mom’s disappointment at having to miss the plays in Ashland.

Catching Up

Just to finish up with the Ashland photos (Click any photo to enlarge):

Here’s the cottage we where we stayed. It’s nestled up against Ashland Creek, and set among several art studios.  Gotta nail it down for next year.

Before every evening performance, there is a “Green Show” performance by various artistic groups with a theme loosely related to one of the plays:

We got a bonus performance after this particular show - a woman who had been on a mission to be able to perform topless in the 4th of July parade was taking her case to the streets in rather dramatic fashion.  I love the way everyone is pretending she’s a piece of sculpture or landscaping.  Unseen, perhaps, are multiple sets of spousal knuckles buried in spousal kidneys as incentive.  (FYI, Mrs. Perils encouraged me to take this photo):

After a week of awfully good visibility on our hikes, the smoke from California fires blew into the valley, dimming the sun to about 40 watts:

It’s always a downer to leave, but it’s also always cool to catch an aerial view of the Seattle harbor and skyline:

The Further Adventures of the Bus-Bike Commuter

I did the bus-bike commute from Seattle to Redmond again today, this time heading to the Montlake “station”  near Husky Stadium to catch the 545 - the one that I took home the other night with on-board WiFi, the one that stops at the Microsoft campus.

When I got to Montlake, however, there were 5 other bikers there waiting for the 545.  Since the buses only have rack space for 3 bikes at a time, I’d have to wait for the second one (at least), and they’re spaced at half-hour intervals.  Damn Microsoft and its culture of earnest youth with free fitness club memberships.

There was an “out” if I wanted to take it: “deadheading” buses, empty and headed back to their base on the east side, pull through and will load a bicyclist.  This solution gets you across the bridge, but lets you off where 405 intersects 520.  Again, I’d have to do a bit of a climb, but most would be on a bike trail that parallels 520.

Better choice than waiting for perhaps an hour, so I grabbed the next deadheader along with another cyclist who had given up hope.  I found the climbing was a bit easier today, probably owing to my adventure Tuesday, so it’s all good.

So now, I’m on a 545 headed homeward, but no WiFi on this one.  At the Microsoft station, I picked up the signal from a different Sound Transit bus in the vicinity for a few minutes, but didn’t at that point have any business to transact.  But now I’m kind of fixated on hitting the “refresh network list” button every now and then as we crawl on 520 just to see what other vehicles might be packin’. The result is sort of a Yellow Pages of businesses along the corridor: Mercedes, Physical Medicine Group, 3Dental, ApexWAP, ActionEngine etc.

All seem to be security-enabled, which warms the cockles of my post-SarbanesOxley IT-auditin’ heart.  There might be a business opportunity in this - the drive-by IT security audit. I’d sub myself out to these entities’ CPA firms and charge a sweet little pop for my life-or-death “deliverable”.

Thoughts on “The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler”

Wednesday night(ed: hangover post from our week in Ashland 6/23 - 6/30), we saw a clever play called The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, by Jeff Whitty.  The setup is that Ibsen’s heroine awakes after the end of the play (which ends with her shooting herself) to find herself again a resident of the Cul-De-Sac of the Tragic Heroines, to which they apparently decamp between performances of their characters’ plays.  Close neighbor and good buddy Medea bounces in, full of sympathetic banter.  They are soon joined by Mammy (of Gone With The Wind), who doesn’t at first apprehension seem to be a tragic character, but shares a certain disgruntlement with the other two.  She also is Hedda’s servant, a circumstance that has tragic implications.

The disgruntlement these characters share is that they are dissatisfied with their characters, and would kill (themselves or others) to get them re-written.  Medea hates the fear in her kids’ eyes as she tries to be an ordinary mom in the Cul-de-Sac, Hedda would like to be happy for a change and shed her dweeb husband, and Mammy hates being an anachronism, a fact that is limned out when the black female police detective from Law and Order makes an appearance and derides her.

They hear that they might find a remedy if they make a trek to the Fiery Furnace of Creation.  Hedda and Mammy make plans to make the trip; Medea, being older and a little more inured to the cycle, demurs.  One of the funny scenes is when Medea stumbles onto the stage fresh from a performance, soaked in blood, and says, “I did it again.  I feel just awful!”

The play then follows Hedda and Mammy on their trek, and it becomes a hilarious cross between The Wizard of Oz (Dorothy skips by once in the background, ruby slippers aglow) and a Crosby/Hope Road movie.  Along the way, they meet Cassandra (and of course don’t believe a word she says), Tosca drops out of the sky and crashes to the stage two different times and a feathery hulk named Icarus also crashes resoundingly.  They meet two more characters of Mammy’s “anachronism” (as opposed to “tragic”) ilk, gay refugees from something very like Boys in the Band, who are angst-ridden that modern gay men disdain their queenly ways.

Upon reaching the Fiery Furnace, they observe characters spewing forth from its maw that live briefly, then fall dead.  They are informed that such is the fate of the badly-written and/or well-written but unmemorable characters.  Oblivious to the implications this may have to their various quests, they plunge into the Fiery Furnace to mind-wrestle with their authors.

The two Boys exit the Furnace basically unchanged.  Seems they got sidetracked by a happy hour of some sort and forgot to get themselves re-written.  Mammy and Hedda, however, emerge with their wishes granted.  And soon start to feel a little…wan…no, downright sick.

I guess it’s a message on two levels; as individuals,we can become obsessed with perceived flaws both physical and in our personalities.  To the extent that we suppress them and cleave towards “normality”, we become less interesting and imperil our spirits.

On the artistic level, a work of art achieves greatness because it causes us to experience an extended level of humanity, either by happy example or tragic.  To pluck out the components that disturb us in such a work would dilute its effect by obviating that cognitive stretching that great works of art compel us to do, excising what makes it memorable for us.


I’m blogging from the 540 bus crossing 520.  Just thought I’d mention that.

I’ve been meaning to re-initiate my prior practice of biking to the University District, throwing my bike on the front of a bus and riding over to my client’s in Redmond, but I always seem to be pairing my trips over there with other stops that obviate either bike garb or biking itself.

The reason I have to use the bus at all is because there is no bike lane on the 520 bridge, as there is on the I-90 bridge 5 miles to the south.  And, yes, I could turn it into a 50-mile round-trip commute by riding an excellent bike trail that goes around the north end of Lake Washington, but I’m too lazy.  No, I’m not sure I could do it without more specific bike training.

The big advantage of doing this is in the evenings, when the 520 bridge backs up and sometimes subjects me to an hour’s commute.  The bus is not immune from all traffic jams - that’s the downside of surface-level mass transit as opposed to dedicated rail - but it does get to use a commuter lane on the approach to the bridge.

Later that same day…

Thankfully, transit Darwinism isn’t always fatal, although there were several opportunities.  Last fall when I was doing this commute, the 540 bus rolled to within a block of my Redmond client.  Over the winter, however, they apparently changed the route, and imagine my surprise when they announced Kirkland as the last stop.  7 miles and one good hill climb from my client’s.

Since I’m quite unfamiliar with the streets over here on the east side, I was in some trouble.  But the biggest shock was having to climb the hill out of Kirkland.  Finally made it, sweating unattractively.

Now, I’m on my way home on a different bus route, one that stops at the Microsoft campus, and guess what?  It (the bus) has wi-fi.  I’m goinig to press “post” now and you, lucky readers, won’t have to wait until I get home for this exciting missive.

Ashland Hike Photos

I finally prodded and tweaked our hike photos from our Ashland trip last week and assembled them into photo galleries:

I’ll return to this post and add some editorial comments.  Right now, I’m headed out to kayak a bit and try my Canon A720 and its new waterproof case.