Archive for May 2009


So, after I took those tricky photos (no trick, except to use the zoom) last Wednesday, we set out on an evening’s kayak paddle to venture up the Duwamish River, host to Harbor Island and various Superfund sites in Seattle’s industrial core.  We launched from West Seattle into Elliott Bay and a strong northerly wind.  Consequently, we had some challenging chop that didn’t dissipate until we were well upriver.  Still, we figured that things would calm down as sunset approached.  On-the-water photos were taken with my Canon A720 IS, not the new camera (Click any photo to enlarge).

Things calmed down on the lee side of the island, and we dawdled in the halflight before charging back into the bay, where the water had settled a little, but was still rollin’. Below, left, you can see Starbucks’ world headquarters.


More pictures in a slideshow here.

Once the weekend arrived, I played around a bit with my new Canon SX1 IS.  Here are a couple shots using macro mode:


Plus, I played around with the HD video capability. Since I have nothing here to view HD with, let me know what you think of this:

OK, I’ve got nothin’ else right now.

Stupid Camera Tricks

First images from my new Canon SX1 IS camera, which I picked up Tuesday afternoon. It’s a sub-SLR, 10-megapixel with a 20x optical zoom, the same size but a bit heavier than my old S3 IS. Most of the extra weight is concenrated in the lens.

I drove over to West Seattle after work Wednesday night to meet up with some folks for an evening kayak paddle on Elliott Bay (pics and narrative to follow). Prior to launch, I took the following photos of downtown Seattle, all from the same standing spot. The first on the left is a straight shot with no zoom. The next two use progressively more zoom, and the fourth is a crop-and-expand excised from the third. I think the distance to the Space Needle from where I was standing is at least 5 miles (Click photos to enlarge):

I’m looking forward to exploring some more of its features. You’ll be the first to know!

Guide Service

On Saturday, we played tour-guide for a friend from high school whom we had not seen since 1980. In fact, we’d only exchanged sporadic Christmas cards for most of that time and, since we stopped sending them altogether a few years ago, even that exchange was entirely one-sided. For the last 5 months, I’d been carrying her 2008 card around, meaning to respond via some sort of snail-mail device, but I just couldn’t figure out how to use a stamp you can’t lick.

A couple of months ago, however, she found me on Facebook, and two-way correspondence resumed. It turned out that her husband has been commuting to Seattle from their home near Boston, teaching for a semester at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in the idyllic Islandwood setting, and she wanted to use it as an opportunity to make her first-ever visit to Seattle.

Her intended arrival last weekend coincided with the last weekend of her husband’s semester. She’s a person who makes decisions and gets things done, and by the time we started talking dates and times, she had an itinerary put together for her and her husband that included a day in Seattle, a jetboat trip to Victoria, BC for a day there, and a float plane trip from there to Vancouver for two days in that lovely city.

Saturday turned out to be their Seattle day, so I picked her up at her downtown hotel in the morning and we hustled down to a ferry bound for Bainbridge and an opportunity to see her husband’s teaching venue. As luck would have it, Saturday’s weather started out gorgeous and then improved as the day played out. Mount Rainier stood completely disrobed and dominated the southern horizon to our left as the ferry left the terminal, and the Olympics beckoned us from the west.

We found the Islandwood venue, and her husband guided us around the facility. It occupies about 250 acres of second- or third-growth timberland that became available in the mid-90s and was secured as a quasi-wilderness encampment for school children’s outings, corporate retreats and the like. It was designed and built out using as much “green” technology as was available at the time. They even treat their own sewage.  I remember reading about it when it was first endowed, but this was my first opportunity to see it.  It’s nice to see an opportunity like that capitalized upon.  It’s a sweet setting, and will only improve as the trees thicken back to old-growth dimensions.

We had lunch there amongst faculty and students, and it quickly became apparent that her husband had been a huge hit.  So many faculty and students engaged us as we walked around that I started to feel like I was traveling with Mick Jagger.  It was very gratifying to see the mutual enthusiasm he and they had for each other.

We were finally able to tear him away from the facility and spirit him onto the ferry back to Seattle, where Mrs. Perils was waiting to meet us for some city tour-guiding.  We had intended to head directly for Pike Place Market, the levitating fish, etc, but Mrs. Perils advised by cell phone that the place was mobbed with participants in some huge cheese festival.

We decided to instead walk along the waterfront to the Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor exhibit sponsored by the Seattle Art Museum.  It’s been around now for about two years, but we hadn’t yet seen it ourselves.  Pictured below are three pretty interesting pieces:

  • Eagle by Alexander Calder, 1971
  • Typewriter Eraser by Claes Oldenburg, 1999
  • Perre’s Ventaglio III by Beverly Pepper, 1967

(Click any photo to enlarge)

I’d like to go back after I’ve done a little research into what’s there.  I left Saturday thinking that it could host a few more pieces, but after perusing their web site, I see that there was a lot of stuff that I missed, probably due to the multi-level design of the place and the amount of socializing we were doing.

Once we’d zig-zagged through the Park, we headed back up Western Avenue to the Market, which had by then thinned out to the point where it was somewhat navigable.  Fish were thrown and observed, the original Starbucks store photographed and a fascinating cavalcade of people rubbed and bumped against.

We initially wanted to have dinner at Etta’s, a seafood restaurant right next to the Market, but their waiting list was too long, so we diverted across the street to a place called Cutter’s, where we noshed on sushi and other delectables and sipped beverages.  The sun was setting gloriously as we settled up, and we walked outside to Steinbruck Park for one more look at the Sound:

Anecdote from the wayback machine: I was in the company of our friend and Mrs. Perils on the occasion of my closest opportunity to participate in a bar fight.  Our friend was in Columbus to join her parents to watch the Ohio State-Michigan game, and Mrs. Perils was in town visiting me as well.  The three of us were out on High Street sampling the campus bars, and had landed in the Heidelberg North, a dingy underground grotto of a place with the ambiance of an ill-maintained urinal.  As we sat at the bar drinking beer, we were approached by a fellow who apparently felt that I had no business in the company of even one gorgeous woman, let alone two, and made it plain that he intended to prise one or both of them away from me.  I stepped between him and them (afraid to give either of them the opportunity to voluntarily ditch me) and told the guy to buzz off.

Fortunately, he was so drunk he could hardly stand.  After some unintelligible insults, someone guided him gently away for a nap on a distant barstool, maidenly honor was saved and I was spared the ignominy of dying on the floor choking on sawdust of dubious provenance.

Sick Transit, Again.

Not a very loquacious week, sort of typical when I’m in Wisconsin.  I did get to use my Wisconsin bike for the first time since November, but the weather turned on Wednesday and I was caught in a righteous thunderstorm on the way home from the gym I use when I’m here.  Lightning was crashing all around, and a woman in a van actually offered to give me a lift when we were both stopped at a light (yes, I stop for lights, even when Thor’s using me for target practice).  I was a block from my hotel, so I declined, to the disappointment of the knife-wielding gaggle crouching in the back of the van.  One cool thing - my hotel has a large, 2-story atrium with opaque plastic panels for a roof, and the combination of the din of the rain drumming on the panels and the lightning making the whole ceiling flash like a flashbulb was impressive.

Tomorrow, we’re being visited by an old high school friend (I shouldn’t call her “old”, I guess, if for nothing else than to avoid Mutually-Assured Derision) who’s making her first visit ever to Seattle. She’ll only be here for a day, so the pressure’s on us to make it memorable.  She’s in this photo of us dancing (!) at our Senior prom, in the white dress just behind Mrs. Perils.

I’m making two plans - one if she wants to see the usual stuff that tourists see: Pike Place Market, aerobatic salmon, etc, and one to check some more out-of-the-way things.

So I’m in transit now, eating illicit pizza at the Delta Sky Club in Minneapolis (the rule is no outside food, we’re supposed to be happy with their pretzels & cheesy bits.  But I wanted wine with the pizza, and I’ve prepaid for it with my Club membership).   Uncommunicative seatmate on the flight here from Milwaukee, which was fine, I needed the sleep.

But did I sleep?  Nah - I read a couple of articles in the New York Review of Books.  For some reason, airplanes are the only venue in which I read them, but they come once a month, and I fly once a month, pretty much, so it works.

OK, off to my Seattle flight.  Have a good weekend, everyone!


As expected, I paid for the time off in South Carolina with a very busy 4-day week, especially as I’m headed to Milwaukee Sunday. Here are some additional pics from SC that I particularly like. The first two sets were taken just after a rain squall, and were presided over by a full, horizon-to-horizon rainbow (with a hint of a double-rainbow in the lower left) (Click any photo to enlarge).

In the lower left, I like the sand patterns that our grand-step-niece is splashing through (Mrs. Perils in the background, step-niece on left). The pic on the right is one of several little tidepools that were teeming with juvenile clams all huddled together, siphons extended lasciviously. I never had so much fun on spring break

After leaving Pawley’s Island on Sunday, Mrs. Perils and I drove south to visit with a man whom we met in our online book club. He lives near Hilton Head Island, and we drove out there Monday just to say we’d been there. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore, and it seemed that all of the beachfront was taken up by private resorts. We did find a little Audubon preserve, and decided it was our only opportunity for a little outing before blasting up to the airport for our Monday evening flight back to Seattle. There was a pond there with a viewing platform, and as we walked out on it, turtles from all over the pond jetted over to us. We felt like the Rolling Stones of brackish pond-dom. We had nothing to feed them, and probably wouldn’t have anyway, and they soon lost interest, and I swear I could hear them grumbling darkly. I also spied a bright green gecko skittering beside the path. He hauled himself onto a large leaf, and I really like the backdrop it makes for the photo on the right:

We usually head down to the beach for our nightcap. Here’s my middle brother, step-niece and me on our last night:

Since I had used frequent-flier miles to purchase Mrs. Perils’ ticket, she was not eligible for a first-class upgrade. My ticket was, however, and we lucked out on both the outbound and return trips. Since I gave the seat to Mrs. Perils on the outbound, I got it on the return. Not all upgrades are created equal, however, as I had an…um…interesting seatmate on the 4-hour flight from Houston to Seattle. Thank heaven it was first class - he’d have been a load in coach. He was actually very affable and friendly, and engaged in a lot of nsfw banter with his trainer, who was seated behind us.

Extended slide show of photos from the trip here.

En Route

Sitting in the Charleston, SC airport for a flight back to chilly Seattle after 4+ days of walking barefoot on the beach (Click to enlarge)

Rode bikes, paddled kayaks and ate lots - too much, I’m sure - Low Country food, and had a wonderful time with brothers, sisters-in-law, one step-niece, one grand-step-niece and one aunt.

Here’s an amusing pic from a bike ride we took into Murrell’s Inlet:

Running for the gate. Perhaps more pics when I decompress.