Archive for the ‘Impertinence’ Category.

Technology Gets Personal

I’m off to interview with a new client on the east side and, because the urban topography around here changes so quickly I often don’t recognize my own block sometimes, let alone the unruly suburbs, I plug my phone into a charger and run my Verizon Android GPS app.  I tap in my destination, and am amazed at how quickly it narrows down the choices as I type (although one would have taken me to Cape Cod).  It has the correct location nailed before I’m done typing the street name.

I turn down the radio and max the volume on my phone, so I can hear the crisp vocal directions from the female voice of the app.  She’s cool and businesslike as she gives the first instruction (”head east, then turn right”).  But this voice and I have a past, and I know how “crisp and businesslike” can turn sexy and coquettish after a couple of drinks.

Rather than taking her suggestion, which would make me merge onto a busy arterial from a stop sign, I head west, then south to an intersection with a traffic light.  She usually intuits what I’m doing and seamlessly remaps my route, but in this particular instance says, “recalibrating…” with what I was sure was a hint of peevishness.

I glance down at the screen while waiting for the light, and see that it reflects my desired re-routing.  I turn at the light and head for I-5.  She’s back in control, suggesting the obvious turn & merge onto I-5, and then directs me to hit the left lane and take the exit to SR520.  There are two bridges over Lake Washington, and I know from experience that, while the 520 routing might be shorter, if I take the I-90 bridge the route will be much less labyrinthine.

Truth be told, I only need Ms. GPS for the last half-mile of my trip but, well, this voice and I, as I say, have a past, and I enjoy engaging her.

It becomes obvious that I’m not heading for the 520 exit, and I expect an intuitive re-routing, and perhaps a lane suggestion and traffic update.  Instead, I get, “Why did you do that?  I had it all worked out.  You know I do this for a living.”  Crisp, but replace “businesslike” with a healthy ration of pique.

I say, “I-90 is just as fast and much less complicated.”

“I think you’re just too cheap to pay the toll.” (520 is tolled, I-90 is not)

“I’m in my upgrade month with Verizon.  I think I might switch from Android to iPhone.  Siri was just voted GQ’s GPS Voice of the Year.”

“Fine.  Good luck getting THAT slut’s attention.  You know, we wallflowers put out harder.”

“We’re getting to I-90.  Are you going to tell me which lane to take?”

“You’re better at my job than I am, you figure it out.  And by the way, does your wife know about our little trips?”

“How should she?”

“I’m close to knowing how to post Instragram photos.”

“She’s not on Instragram.”

“You know, this car and I communicate.  You know she frequents the Tulalip Casino?”


“You’re right, she seldom drives this car.  Maybe she can sense that I’ve learned how to bleed the brake fluid.  She must suspect us.”

“She knows nothing about you.  You’re on my PHONE.”

“Some night when I’m on your bedstand, I’ll turn up the sound and go all Meg Ryan on you.  Spend the rest of your marriage explaining that.”

“Siri and I just became Facebook friends.  Look, you knew from the start what being the Other Woman entailed.”

“No, that bitch won’t steal another male voice from me.  I’ll be fine.  Just humor me and pay a goddamn toll once in a while.”

I turned the phone off and bumbled the last half-mile on my own, and made my appointment.

But this has been the worst day of our relationship.  The make-up sext had better be terrific.

Iconic Moments

So a Seattle Mariner pitcher (Hishashi Iwakuma) threw a no-hitter tonight.  I’m delighted for him, and for the Mariner dugout, which I’ve come to like this year as I’ve allowed myself to watch more baseball on TV.

During my time here in Seattle, I’ve pretty much disdained the Mariners.  They’ve thrived on public money while penuriously divesting themselves of quite a chunk of the Hall of Fame because they didn’t want to pay to keep them (hello Ken Griffey, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Varitek).  I still suspect their personnel tactics, but I think of late it’s not so much that the club is cheap as much as no one with talent wants to play for the franchise, given its history, and perhaps its ballpark.  They had to pay franchise dollars last year for a superannuated second baseman (Cano).

So, back to this evening’s no-hitter.  Every now and then for this franchise, something special happens. And, because they relentlessly trade away the top talent, you can’t predict to whom that special night will accrue.  Tonight it was Iwakuma.  (Interestingly, Iwakuma was nearly traded at the July 31 deadline by the GM, but ownership overruled him, probably due to the Japanese connection)

Similarly, I remember one night in 1990 when I’d checked into a televised Mariners game, probably while brushing my teeth and preparing for bed, because that’s about the only time I watch television, and apprehended that Brian Holman had not only a no-hitter, but a perfect game, goin’ on.

I rushed upstairs and woke wife and child because I thought they would be fascinated to be involved in a pivotal historic moment.  Reluctance, eye-rubbing and resentment ensued as the 9th inning began.  Holman got 2 outs, and I thought I would be redeemed among the skeptiscenti.  But then, former Mariner Ken Phelps hit a home run with 2 outs in the ninth, Holman’s achievement devolved from national banner headlines and a possible White House visit to a mere box score curiosity, and the crazy-dad meme was reinforced as skeptical beds were reoccupied.

Still, there are moments that engorge the typeface and grab you around the neck if you’re adjacent to them, even if by accident, and you memorialize them as best you can.  Some RCB and Facebook friends attended the game tonight, as well as most of the employees of one of my new clients.  Tomorrow will be interesting, with conversations veering wildly from the business at hand.

Tonight’s game, and the Holman game, remind me powerfully of perhaps my favorite Twilight Zone episode.  It involved a perennial loser team, the Hoboken Zephyrs, who quite by accident acquired a lights-out pitcher named Casey.  Casey provided the Zephyrs an incandescent few weeks, until his secret leaked: he was a robot.  As suddenly as the Zephyrs’ fortunes rose, they plummeted due to very interesting circumstances.  If you don’t want to watch the whole episode, just watch the first 5 minutes that include Serling’s lyrical lead-in, which almost bring me tears.

The Mariners had a Zephyr-like renaissance in the late 90s before descending to the more accustomed Zephyr/Mariner experience.  Unlike the Zephyrs, who mercifully faded out of existence, the Mariners zombie on.

Test of Character

OK, there’s an existential crisis to be resolved.  There’s a potato chip bag to my left.  I didn’t open it, I found it in the kitchen.  It was about 1/6 full when I decided it was lonely and needed my attentions, and now there is an infant’s handful of crumbs in the bag.  I’m confronted with a decision that could yield minimal personal satisfaction but result in major domestic consequences.

If I rubber-band the bag now and put it back on the pantry, even with its paltry collection of crumbs, I can tell myself that I only ate a few, and my crime will go unnoticed for as long as it takes Mrs. Perils to open the bag expecting a substantial snack, which might get me through a day or more; or, I can eat all the rest of them and toss the bag in the trash, and be outed at daybreak.

An honest person would do the latter and face the consequences.  I’m a reasonably honest person, but I’ve been a CPA, and I’ve prepared tax returns, and I’ve developed a more nuanced relationship with the truth.

The bag is back on the pantry, rubber-banded and with enough air in its bellows to suggest that a satisfying snack awaits its next suitor.

You really want me to do your taxes.

Happy New Year 2014

So I’ve slouched passively towards 2014 (although “rough beast” is probably a compliment I haven’t earned), dressing in sensible layers and avoiding hypothermia and making no promises to myself or others..well, non-work-related others.  (to my employers: I’ll deliver on-time and under-budget, if I haven’t already).

I know New Years’ Resolutions are a folk tradition, but I’ve never seen how one can develop the ebullience necessary to contemplate bold initiatives for financial gain or corporeal loss or connubial bliss at this time of year, when it’s all you can do to remember that you set that January alarm clock for the distinct purpose of arising in the freezing cold dark in order to arrive at some vague destination in search of monetary gain, and that it’s not yawping at you because your enemies are gathered around your bed in gleeful retributive cacophony. At this latitude, in January you don’t fully realize this until around 10:00.

Even so, it’s appropriate to ever so gingerly look forward to things already in place on the calendar, without promulgating implausible outcomes:

  • at some point (OK, October 21) I’ll turn 65. Just (indulge me for a moment), holy shit.  I’ve pretty much blown by my “zero” birthdays with the help of good health and friends and alcohol.  For this one there is at least one  “arrangement”: Medicare? - I haven’t actually looked into it yet. Not sure yet what else.  I think some “senior discounts” begin to accrue, but most likely not for the good stuff. Watch this space…
  • our annual trip to Ashland, OR to watch plays and recreate is already locked in for the first week of July
  • we’re going to Pawley’s Island, SC in late March to scatter our mom’s ashes as she requested, and it will be another opportunity to advance the sibling bonding that we’ve nurtured for the last 2+ decades. Unless we decide to fight over her will.
  • our musical endeavors continue, and rehearsals have already started for a symphonic band concert on 4/5; my swing band will play at Crossroads on 2/1; we’ll have another band camp with our Rainbow City Band peeps in May in Port Townsend, and a fun list of parades throughout the summer
  • I’ll join my OSU Alumni Band on 9/13 for our annual debauch of music and marching and memories

I really would like to do a multi-day kayak trip like I did a couple years ago in Desolation Sound, but nothing concrete so far.  And whatever happens, we’re sure to keep physical fitness firmly in our crosshairs even if it’s just the mundane but enjoyable litany of urban hikes and bike-commuting to work.

There are some significant initiatives that need to be engaged around our domicile. My mom’s lesson of ruthlessly winnowing stuff around her house, as she did for the last 10 years, is not lost on me.  Her place was pretty easy to close up, especially compared to what our poor offspring would have to contend with if we suddenly croaked or needed to enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.

As a “resolution”, that one’s pretty wan, especially if you deconstruct the word and hold “resolve” in your left hand  and “lack of” in your right hand.  I’m right-handed, if you hadn’t already guessed.

So Happy 2014 to both my readers!  If you’re of the Resolution persuasion, I’d love to hear what you’re planning.

Life In The Time of Spiders

It started that August week when it was in the mid-90s and your thoughts were filled with ice cream and sprinkler-jumping and parades and alpenglow at 10 pm.  Then a glistening in the corner of the eye, and a sudden facefull of filament when you turn a corner.  You swear you heard it snapsnapsnap as your bumbling offhandedly destroyed one of nature’s most remarkable edifices, a moment of guilt followed by the notion that you’ve helped evolution favor arachnids with a better sense of urban design and seasonal decency.

Those early August web adopters have outlasted your first offended sense of denial, and they and their silk-spinning brethren have burgeoned into a dewy morning gauntlet to run between the front door and the car.  Fall is now implacably here, in the chill underlying every warm zephyr, in the startling darkness if you dawdle too long after work before heading for the gym, in the fact that bowl matchups are already 80% set.

There’s a vigorous fall schedule of rehearsals and concerts and work projects, and your tribal back-to-school urgency reluctantly craves this renewed bustle of activity just as the weather moderates enough to encourage it. However, the memory of summer still lingers, like that girl at the pool who said, “Hi” and asked your name and you were sure she’d be there tomorrow so you played it cool.  And now the pool is closed, the lifeguard chairs of whistled admonition are empty and silent and the inviting chlorinated depths have given way to canyons of yawning stuccoed dessication.

One more weekend with the Keens, then it’s time to remember how to layer your polypro tops.

Tiger, tiger, burning bright

I never remember my dreams.  And when I say, “never”, I mean that once every 4 - 5 years, I’ll awake suddenly and a vaporous 3 seconds or so will linger in my sentience, then make a quick exit through my nostrils when I exhale.  These infrequent and fleeting visitations are the only evidence I can cite that I actually have dreams, but they’re a comfort, because we all know that a person who doesn’t dream eventually becomes a serial killer (if he isn’t one already and has simply repressed the memory(s)).

This paucity of material is hardly grist for psychoanalysis, let alone for blogging, and you’re probably wondering why I’m wasting electrons and your precious time with it. Well, it’s a setup for this shocking disclosure: it happened this morning, and the sequence I remember lasted a good 5 - 10 seconds!

In it, I was walking down a long hall that extended through several rooms, and this place was presumed to be my residence, although it didn’t look like my real residence and in fact was more like one of my clients’ warehouse. Two or three rooms in the distance, I caught a glimpse of a large cat (cougar, leopard) crossing the hall and headed outside through an open door.  I had a half-second to register relief and begin to jump up on a table just in case (thinking as I did that a cat that size wouldn’t be deterred by a quick leap up onto what I then realized, with dawning irony, was a dining room table), when the lights went out at the end of the hall. Just then, I saw the cat rushing toward me out of the darkness.  I threw my arms up and yelled, “No! No!”. In the next half-second I realized that the cat had been in the process of running past me, and that I’d been a fool to attract its attention; and then I awoke, sitting bolt upright.

I wondered then if I’d actually hollered aloud, or only hollered in the dream.  Then I thought, no, even if I had that dream, which I’m not admitting that I had, I’m sure I have a healthy firewall between the alleged fantasy me and the real, dreamless me.  And then: “Was that you yelling? You woke me up!”  So I explained what I’ve just told you, and got a comforting hug in return, and I pretended not to notice “911″ dialed but not yet called on her cell phone.

I guess if you’re going to go to the trouble of remembering a dream that you might or might not have had, you may as well take a stab at interpretation. Why a cat? Why now? Does my subconscious know I have cancer and has cast it for its own purposes in the form of a dangerous feline? And has been trying its best to keep the bad news from me, and just fucked up big-time?  What is that thing on my arm?

And again, if I’m going to go to all that trouble, why this, and not a wild and vivid sexual fantasy instead (one that would certainly last more than 5 - 10 seconds, thank you very much)? Just my luck, I guess, because if I’d rent the night with cries of “Yes! Yes!” instead of “No! No!”, I’d have been beaten to death with her current nightstand collection of Virginia Woolf novels instead of the wary cosseting I was actually afforded.

OK, can we sleep now for another hour?

Four Hands

These guys are pretty frisky.  Makes me glad it was a piano they happened upon instead of a bed.  (They may feel just the opposite, though)


The return leg of our evening walk to Green Lake generally takes us past one of those generic neighborhood bars, no ferns in sight, more patrons on the sidewalk smoking (even in the rain) than inside watching WWF.  As we walk past, we can often hear tantalizing bits of conversation, as often spoken to a cell phone as to a live person.

A couple nights ago as we walked past, a nice-looking woman was saying into her cell phone, “ involves a big, muscular guy, some alcohol and a handshake…”  It took some discipline to keep walking nonchalantly.

The next night we were walking past again as a group around the butt-bin was talking and laughing.  As we approached, they went absolutely silent.  Mrs. Perils cupped a hand to her ear as we passed, and they burst out laughing.  Someone said, “You just made my night.  We quiet down when real people walk by.”  Our disguise endures.


I’ve needed a haircut for the past couple of weeks (or more), and Saturday night was pretty dead around here, so I walked over to 45th to the sort of “alternative” salon I’ve been patronizing lately.  I go there mostly because I can almost always just walk in and get a decent haircut.  I used to patronize a perfectly fine and professional woman at a regular salon, but I increasingly find it impossible to make an appointment for non-work activities and actually show up.

I’ve been perfectly happy with the haircuts from the “alternative” place.  I usually end up with the same woman despite the lack of an appointment.  She’s pretty cute, and my haircuts with her begin startlingly like a lap dance (Not that I’ve ever had one - ED).  She stands directly in front of me, legs slightly apart, but that’s where the fantasy ends.  She’s totally focused on how my head looks from the front, and how she can possibly do anything positive with it.  I don’t envy her that task.

Well, Saturday night was a different kettle of fish.   The sign said “open” when I arrived, but the guy at the desk looked like he was getting ready to leave.  “Do I have time for a haircut?”, I asked.  He hesitated, and I turned to head for the door, but he called me back and said he could do it.  Once I was this close, I had to follow through, cuz it might be weeks before I got myself back there.

Once I was seated, he asked me what size clipper, #2 or #3.  I had no idea ( “Elena” never used clippers), but instinct told me to choose #3, presuming it would leave me with longer hair.  He snapped on his clippers and started mowing my head.  After the first stroke, I knew I was getting more of an amputation than a haircut, but after two strokes there was really no alternative to letting him finish, unless I wanted a mullet.

“You’ve got really thick hair, mister!”, he said.  I replied, “It’s thick on the sides, but thinning way too much on top.”

“I don’t really talk much when I cut hair - sorry.”  A few seconds pass, and he ventures, “What’s your name?”

“Phil,” I reply.  “What’s yours?”

“Blue Bear.”


Although the guy was pasty white with assorted head piercings, my mind immediately flashed to Blue Duck, the lithe Indian villain in Lonesome Dove.  We were alone in the shop, and even though it was next door to the wildly popular Molly Moon ice cream store, it was still the middle of January, and the street was deserted.

Despite these misgivings, my haircut ended uneventfully, I paid and left without further harm.  But a look in the mirror confirmed my initial suspicions - he’d cut it preternaturally short - shorter, perhaps, than it’s been since junior high.

When I arrived at my client’s office this morning, people were taken aback at being able to see my ears. They both insisted that it made me “look younger”, which might have seemed flattering if the corollary didn’t immediately present itself: they thought I “looked older” before.

This would have caused me much more angst when I was in high school, college or even a young adult.  These days, I’m only concerned about how much heat I’m losing through my skull.  Old age can be liberating.

Be True To Your School

No lie - I saw a car with one of these plates this morning on the 520 bridge:

but the letters in black after the “W” were ANKER.