Archive for April 2009


Actress Lily Tomlin demands Woodland Park Zoo release elephants



That might be fine for someone living in California or wherever, and I’m not here to argue the merits of zoo confinement of pachyderms.  It’s just that I live within charging distance of the Woodland Park Zoo, and, just as I’d like a little advance warning if a sexual predator becomes domiciled in my neighborhood, I’d like a running start before they throw the gates open up there on the hill.

Splashing & Thrashing

Quick note, as I’m plunging into a frantic 2-day work week in anticipation of our departure for Pawley’s Island, SC on Wednesday. I got out on a soothing afternoon kayak trip, launching at Magnuson Park and crossing Lake Washington to explore the shoreline around Kirkland.

Here I am just before I launched, decked out in my fabulous GoreTex drysuit from Kokatat. It has rubber gasket seals at the neck and wrists, and the feet are completely enclosed in “booties”, which I protect with neoprene boots. It was expensive, but much cheaper than a funeral (Click any photo to enlarge).

I found a little wetlands park in Juanita Bay that I didn’t know existed before, and poked around in a couple of its byways. I found myself tailing a beaver (up ahead, making a “V” wake). Yes, it’s raining.  Try not to act surprised.

This looks dramatic, but the rain really didn’t last that long, and I had an invigorating trip back across the lake to Seattle.

The visit to South Carolina is our annual trip to the beach to mingle with my mom and brothers. Hoping for some warm weather, and for the fires in the area to be out.

As Promised

I have a few photos from my mini-vacation to Alki/West Seattle Thursday afternoon. Alki is a large headland that juts into Puget Sound and forms the southern border of Elliott Bay, Seattle’s harbor. It’s where the first white settlers landed back in the mid-1800s. Much of the peninsula is bordered by a two-lane arterial and a bike/pedestrian trail.

I had paddled my kayak along its perimeter many times, but had never actually walked the path. It always looked so busy with bikes, skaters and runners from the water that I thought it wouldn’t be a very pleasant meander. Actually, however, there are separate paths for pedestrians and wheeled recreators, and it makes for a nice diversion, with some panoramic views (Click any photo to enlarge):

Along the arterial, a sort of gold-coast of high-end condos is supplanting what used to be a strand of funky cabins. As you can see below right, there are a few prominent holdouts :

A lot of the dwellings exude a level of playfulness.  I have a brother who would really fit the mailbox below, left:

This front porch was a sort of museum of nautical/piratical bric-a-brac. I like how, in this photo, the pirate head inside seems to be perched in the reflection of the palm:

Where I’m Calling From

View from the coffee shop from which I’m posting (click to enlarge).  I’m playing a little hooky this cool but fine afternoon, walking along Alki Beach in West Seattle.  See, I was working in the SoDo area just south of downtown and the baseball stadium, and I learned that the Mariners were having a game at Safeco starting at 3:30.  When I finished up at 2:30, I could have made one more client stop, or simply gone home to squeeze in a couple more chargeable hours.

But I thought, hey, traffic might be a little dicey (the stadium was between me and home), so why not just hop on the West Seattle Freeway and enjoy a walk along the water?  I’ve hiked about 3 miles, with another mile or so back to the car.  It’s only been 2 hours, but somehow I feel as if I’ve been on vacation for a couple of days.

More pictures and yakking later.  I need to live in the moment a bit.

Fear The Reaper?

These things kind of sneak up on you.  I turned 59 1/2 today, and while I’m certainly not so excited about birthdays at this stage of my life that I mark and celebrate half-birthdays, this one is remarkable for an inexplicable quirk in the tax code.  Today, if I had chosen, I could have withdrawn money from my IRA accounts without being subject to the 10% penalty that would have applied to any such withdrawal in the 35 years since my 25-year-old self started dropping his spare change off at some long-defunct bank. (I’ll still have to pay income tax on whatever I withdraw).

So, I wonder, what’s magic about being 59 1/2? (Ed: less and less!)  If I cross an eddyline in my kayak, there’s a palpable realignment as my bow gets jerked in a new direction.  I felt no such jolt today as I crossed into the downhill part of my 60th year.  Congress, however, must have felt, back in 1974, that 59 1/2 was the very moment when we need to pick up our scythes and start gettin’ the harvest in.

I think I’m going to play the grasshopper on this task for awhile, though, let things ripen and even do some additional planting.  It’s been a lousy growing season this year anyway, and I’m hoping for a long Indian summer.

Saturday Studiousness

I lolled around in bed this morning until 11, alternately reading a novel and cruising the morning papers on my laptop.  I used a long-overdue haircut appointment as a catalyst to get out of the house for most of the afternoon.

After my haircut, I walked to a cafe, bought my second espresso of the day and settled in with my book again, determined to get the first 100 (of its 400+) pages read, just to establish a beachhead.  The novel is The Virgin In The Garden by A. S. Byatt, and it’s this fortnight’s book club selection.  It’s dense with meticulous description and deliberate pacing, much in the mode of Iris Murdoch, whom Byatt admires.  It lacks the romance and interpersonal sizzle of the more accessible and popular Possession, but I’m drawn to its intricacies.  I’m also seeing a little hint of Gravity’s Rainbow in its delving into parapsychology and mathematical puzzling, but that may prove to be a mistake as I advance.

Mission accomplished, I set out for a little stroll around the ‘hood.  Things are blooming an blossoming all over, and I walked through this metaphorical tunnel between winter and spring (Click photos to enlarge):

I passed an apartment window that had an interesting table decoration. When life deals you lemons…

When I saw the license plate bracket on this car, I knew I’d find some piece of Washington State Cougar insignia elsewhere on the car:

Tulips are coming into their own, a little bit late, here in western Washington:

More culcha tonight - we’re off to the Intiman Theatre to see a stage adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. After today’s stew of philosophical sturm and drang, I’ll be parsing tomorrow’s Sunday comics for signs of humanistic nihilism vs. moral values that can only come of religious faith. Watch out, Doonesbury!

The Ides Of April

Today is Tax Day, a day I used to view with great relief when I worked as a CPA, because it meant the end of Saturdays and evenings in the office, and also a gala party hosted by the firm where people might just get a little bit relaxed.  One such party saw a woman admin manfully attempting to cure the gay male HR dude on the floor of a coat closet in the Space Needle.  For more on Tax Day and my take on the CPA life, I refer you to one of my favorite posts from a couple of years ago.

I’ve actually been a little bit busy with tax stuff, even though I’m not “practicing tax”: I have to prepare data for a few of my clients for submission to their tax preparers;  I also fire up Turbo Tax to prepare my MIL’s return, my mom’s, my own S corporation return, and I even finished our personal 1040.  It’s been perhaps a decade since I’ve filed in April - I usually file an extension and then forget about it for the summer.  This is the first year that I’ve e-filed my returns instead of printing and mailing them, mostly because TurboTax no longer charges a fee to e-file directly from their software.  Before, I just couldn’t understand why I should pay a fee to do something that would save the IRS a hundred bucks or so on each return.  So I didn’t, and now we have this deficit.

A number of businesses do tax day promotions, but one local business has a particularly creative promo (prolly NSFW).  Hint: the come-on is “No Taxation Without Stimulation”.   Finger it out for yourself.

In other news, I’ve decided to purchase the Canon SX1 IS camera, the successor to my current S3 IS.  As I’ve related before, I was trying to choose between the SX1 IS and the SX10 IS.  Both feature a 20x optical zoom and 10 megapixels, but the SX1 has a better processor and can take video in High Definition.  It’s also $250 more, but I decided to go with it for the technological headroom, even though nothing in my house currently is capable of displaying HD, unless there’s something I don’t know about my toaster oven.  I’m buying it from my camera store client, who hasn’t received their initial delivery of the cameras yet. Check back in a week for the awesome results.

Prattling on Paddling

My flight home Friday night was uneventful, although about a half hour late arriving in Seattle. When you’re bumping up against midnight, though, a half-hour seems a little bit larger than it does at noon. The sun was setting as we approached the Minneapolis airport, casting long shadows over the still-dormant landscape (Click any photo to enlarge :)

Despite the late arrival, I dragged myself out of bed Saturday morning to kayak with a friend on Puget Sound. Turned out to be a good decision, as this was our first real spring weekend. There was little to no wind, and the water was dead calm. Nice for us, not so for the gaggle of sailboats that were amassing for a regatta just off Shilshole Marina (below, left).

The fellow on the right has found a nice, private sliver of beach on which to sun himself, but his solitude comes at a price!

Saturday evening, we attended a charity auction for Washington Water Trails Association, a kayak advocacy group for whom I recently became a board member and treasurer. We’ve attended their auction the last few years, and it’s low-key and convivial, especially when compared to other charity auctions we’ve attended. Unlike some private-school auctions we’ve attended, where there was hilarious one-upmanship, and people were bidding $10k to host a girls’ tea-party, I didn’t feel embarrassed to place bids in this one. The downside: I won a few.

The items below were donated by two of my clients, one a bakery and one a manufacturer/distributor to the outdoor industry. The auction was Caribbean-themed - thus the palm fronds in the frosting on the cake:

Part of the festivities was a silent auction, where items are arrayed on tables, and you fill in your name/number to bid. There are hors-d’oeurve plates interspersed with the auction items. You’d think that would dissuade people from snitching the actual auction items:

Our table missed out on my client’s cake, but we managed to nab a pretty nice coconut number.  I left a slice or two for the rest of the table:

There were about 180 people at the auction, and the bidding seemed energetic and competitive, but the recession has affected non-profit donations across the board, and I’m not looking for a miracle when we get the final tally today.

Spring stayed over another day, and Sunday was even warmer.  People were walking around in t-shirts and shorts, and the sexes were once again differentiated.  I was riding my bike along the Burke-Gilman trail towards Gasworks Park when I espied a young woman in a Missouri t-shirt.  The words “Show Me” got as far as the tip of my tongue and, fortunately, no further.


Just finishing a week in Milwaukee, nurturing and entertaining auditors from our CPA firm.  When I first saw three of them in the conference room on Monday, I thought it was a kindergarten class.  They were so young.  We thought of putting some toy trucks in there, and maybe hanging one of those Tweety Bird mobiles that you see suspended over cribs.  I used the office of the Accounts Payable guy, who was in Jamaica.  Coincidence?

I’ve been going to a health club about a mile from my hotel a couple times a week when I’m here for a workout.  This trip, they had a sign out for a promotion called The Bridal Boot Camp with three different packages: Beautiful Bride, Dream Day and Princess.  They also offer a group program for the whole wedding party.  Perhaps a game of Roller Derby at the reception?

I didn’t realize what a big business weddings were until I went to a wedding show when I worked for a bakery that made terrific wedding cakes.  The draw for us to pony up and attend was, according to the salesman for the show, “We’re going to have Brides With Budgets!”

Off to my plane - more over the weekendc.