Archive for July, 2008

Just to plainly downplay the Southern California earthquake yesterday

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

It was less than one percent of the energy from the February 28, 2001 “Nisqually” earthquake we had here. I mean, even by California standards, it wasn’t that big when you really look at it. It does not deserve this much attention.

P and Big A missed the Nisqually quake. Good thing, too. Ugh. But I do have to tell a funny story about a 5.3 that happened May 2, 1996. Almost exactly the same as the LA earthquake, just 10 times less.

P and I were at the Mariners game in the Kingdome. We were sitting in the 300 level right behind home plate when the rolling started. I was very, very gallant…I got up and ran for the exit. Now, we were less than a month away from our wedding, and your hero, me, completely did not think about the fact his bride-to-be from New Jersey might not realize that an earthquake was starting. But I’d be damned if I was going to sit in that concrete overhang swaying around.

Ummm…when it all stopped, I remember walking back into the main part of the section and there was P looking at me with the most terrified eyes I have ever seen in an earthquake. She was still sitting in her seat. I was very heroic when I asked, “Why didn’t you run?” But I didn’t stop there…I said, “That was pretty funny that you just sat there.”

I still laugh at the memory of the whole thing. But man was my soon-to-be wife pissed off at me. Even last night, with some bravado, I was poo pooing the LA quake because it was about the same as the Mariners quake and she looked at me and said, “Yeah, you mean the one you ran from?”

Still cracks me up.

But you really have to remember something…imagine sitting on thousands of tons of concrete that are made to move as much as possible in an earthquake. It was a complete E-ticket ride for more than a minute. So I retorted that it was nothing compared to the Nisqually earthquake.

“You ran out the door and didn’t look back.”

“Well, I had told you we had earthquakes.”

“You didn’t even help me.”

“It’s part of the charm of living with earthquakes…?”

“You ignored me to save yourself.”

“Well, someone would have to dig you out of the rubble. Right?”

“Let Scout out for a walk.”

I think it’s still a sore subject even though I chorkle at it everytime I think of it.

Lyrics

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

I was going to do a very pithy post. Really, I had thought about it for hours…but it was based on the lines from a song that I had wrong.

I really thought of the song and how I was going to be a smartass and tie it all together, until I started looking at the lyrics and listening to them, and realized I was off. I had the words incorrect.

Doh!

But instead of just ignoring it…I am admitting I had it wrong.

P knows this side of me. My best friends all know it, too. I can just, to a point, admire how much I was wrong. How? That’s a funny question.

This was no big deal; frankly, I wasn’t off by much. But there are sometimes you just feel like telling people about the bad stuff that happened and the things you got wrong because it, in itself, is a cathartic part of not being too frustrated.

Big Chill in the mirror

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

For most of yesterday I lost my e-mail and it about drove P and I crazy…me more than her. I was seriously not happy. How crappy is life when you are stressed out that bad not having e-mail for 12 hours? Well, not too much. I mean, we got it that it was just a “thing” happening and it was never much of a big deal. I am sure all the e-mails I did are qued up and ready to go.

But I do have to admit that my lack of technical prowess or anything kind of had me in a jar. I flailed. But I was kind of surprised how useless I felt without e-mail. This is 25 years that I check several everyday and it suddenly made me think I was on crack or something. I knew they were coming to me, but I was helpless.

It all seems to have come back by this morning, but I just didn’t realize I was that addicted to e-mail. Not so much the internet, because I have books that cover most of that (and I know how to use them), but killing all my e-mail accounts! Owie!

We were pretty philisophical, actually. What can you do?

But it got me thinking about waste. I wasted more time trying to fix it than I actually spent on productive stuff. No, really. I did get productive stuff done, but I spent more time and energy on the singular ambition to get my e-mail back. Forget my wife, daughter, dogs, and cats…I was determined to find out how to check if any trades had been made in fantasy baseball or if a Wednesday meeting was still on.

In the end, this kind of shocked me. I mean, once it all seemed to work and stuff. I was washing my hands after letting Scout out and looking in the mirror thinking, “Do you realize you got that obsessed?”

But that’s part of my point. I looked at myself in the mirror…not as a metaphor or something surreal. Really looked at myself. I was looking at the bald spot and all the gray hair. I stood there and realized I was being an ass about the whole thing. I was angry and frustrated about something I had zero control over no matter what I did. That’s a very strange moment when you are mad; staring yourself right in the chops and getting the ‘aha’ moment from it.

I was standing there looking at my face. It was kind of old and worn. It has scars and lots of gray. It’s not kept up like a princess or something. My nose is crooked. My left cheek is flatter than my right cheek.

Whoooooa…suddenly all I could think of was how stupid it was I was mad about not getting e-mail for a day. I suddenly stood there and stared at myself for several minutes, and I saw I was crazy in any real world to be as freaked out as I was at the moment I couldn’t get e-mail.

So I went back to some art I was working on.

But it felt really good to stare at myself in the mirror. I’m not kidding. Just to see it for several minutes and study it. You ain’t pretty, but you’re alright.

(EDIT: Yes, to answer a question, I did have Compuserve 25 years ago, but no, I didn’t really have an e-mail address…I mostly just logged on every day from a Tandy 1000. Technically, I was incorrect in that statement…caught and pleading guilty. Messaged didn’t come for a couple of years later with AOL. Touche to the person that was being even more of a nerd than I was about it. You know who you are.)

My dad’s very cool book is coming along

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

My dad is writing a book that I have now, over the last week, read a draft of several times and thought about a lot.

How cool is it that I think it’s way off in style and content to the point it bugs me? I get the fact he can’t type, but it’s just not in his voice or as good as it can be, really. There’s really nothing that can save this except himself. He is the only voice that can own it, but, as all of you that have written books, know: That’s the hard part of the rubber meeting the road.

Now think about this. I am saying that my dad is screwing it up and it bugs me, and I have no problem just calling him on it. There is so much that is sooooo brilliant. I mean, really great stuff for his philosophy about things, but HIS voice is lost in it becoming like Einstein describing E=MC2 to a fourth-year doctorate class or something. I’ll be open…it frustrates the holy hell out of me. He’s got better than that in him.

He knows stories that are better than what he told here. They may not be comfortible, but they would lend way more credibility to the points he’s trying to make.

Anyway, my point is that writing a book of any substance is really, really hard. Very hard. Very, very hard. But the moment you lose your voice, the thing that has propped up your ego for 60+ years, is the moment you’re screwed. He has been trying to do some sanitized version of things that he has in him so much better than this, it would shock you.

Everytime I read his latest manuscript, I cringe; not cringing because it’s bad, but it is so good it needs better wings.

I will admit something, though. There are about 20-30 concepts I would steal in a heartbeat to really tell a story about. So there is no denying there is not some great stuff burried in the flim flam.

Godspeed with it until the next draft.

Oh, yes, there were others…

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I was talking about the use of language earlier, and I have been so lucky to have been taught by people over nearly four decades that appreciated not being stupid.

I had been thinking about this more yesterday.

I actually had an editor once that made me type the entire AP Stylebook while they paid me to do it. No kidding. The idea was to do a local stylebook, but they needed to get the raw, “real thing” into the computer to start fiddling with it. Wow, about for bucks an hour in high school to transcribe the whole dang thing.

I had a teacher in junior high that I have mentioned before who made us read and analyze things like “Catch-22,” “Billy Budd” and “The Journals of Lewis and Clark” in the seventh grade. At a public school!

I have teachers, formal and informal, that tought me a shitload of words and language and how to try and use it all. But I also had math freaks…

To this day, I remember math shortcuts and ideas and philosophy that I use most days. Math teachers that understood that numbers could be philosophy in a way and read like a book in another. It’s eerie. I mean geeze…I even made it through Ap Calc because I understood that you had to read math like a story.

And I grew up embracing art, shop and sports, all because I was not scared or intimidated by it. It was all a story. I actually had a shop teacher that explained how people make things and then spent 40 minutes explaining that most things you make outlast the memory of anyone that you were even on the earth. I mean, this was, like, the eight grade. I still remember wondering weather to be depressed that I might be only remembered for a bad birdhouse or something. Seriously.

It wasn’t all peaches and cream. I was busted for stuff here and there and I was punished. In fact, I got kicked off a team once because I lied about an excuse for missing a practice and I will never forget it. There was no second chance once I violated the rules. Gone! Doh! Fired off the team by one of my most revered teachers. Over. Period. Wow. Imagine that.

My point is that it’s interesting to think about how every person has a ton of people that shape them up one way or the other, for better and for worse. And some people get really luck with who they have at their disposal over the years. And some people take advantage of that, some people take it prima facia, and others rebel against it. But I believe most people get presented with the resources and they make the choice for which path to follow.

Really, I am amazed how many people I grew up with are not dead, and how many are kind of “out there” when they look me up for something. And how successful many of them are. They didn’t all choose to go to college or anything, but they just had teachers and people around that kind of hearded my particular group, nudged them, whatever, in the right direction and they have overwhelmingly turned out ok. I had a friend from high school the other day, who is now a cop, say it was kind of a “miracle.”

Nah, was my retort. No divine intervention. Good teachers that taught you to make the most with what you had all the time.

“Why can’t that happen today?” he asked.

“Ask me in 30 years if it hasn’t,” I said.

Hall of Famer

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Dave Niehaus was put into the baseball Hall of Fame yesterday…his full speech is here.

But I have no problem admitting something about the local baseball announcer…he made words important to me and I about lost a weeping tear duct to see him get in there.

He never dumbed anything down or anything. I mean, this is a guy who invited Ken Levine, the famous TV writer for everything from MASH to The Simpsons into the booth, because he loved language and learning how to describe things. He is a master of description to the point that he became just the 32nd person to be recognized by the Hall as a great describer of the game.

But for me it was pretty simple. He used words and phrases, and still does sometimes, that made you just like words. You liked writing them, and you liked saying them because Niehaus would fill your head with them every day for almost seven months. That’s a hard legacy to describe.

I remember when Vin Scully was describing a World Series game on Armed Forces Radio, and he said that it was time to throw another “log on the fire” for a cold October night in Minnesota…blah blah blah…and from 4,000 miles away I thought, “He’s almost as good as Dave Niehaus.” I’m not kidding. I mean this was when the Mariners really, I mean really, really, sucked.

But why did the Vin Scully description affect me? Because I had been trained to appreciate words and descriptions of people. The guy, while I hid under my covers and kept box scores, had taught me English. It sounds so strange coming from a man of nearly 40, but that was the way it was in how he became a Hall of Famer to me even 20 years ago.

Oh, and I have met him a couple of times. Here’s another little thing that just makes me appreciate him. He would sit and talk and he knew history like the back of his hand. I was nothing. But both times we had 15-minute sonversations about history stuff. I’m not stretching it to say that he transcended what you would expect.

My, oh, my.

Seriously, I would not have survived college in Iran

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

OK, some of the hangings today in Iran I can understand. Murder, rape, blah blah blah while they executed 29 people.

But “being a public nuisance while being drunk.” Ummmmmmm…really long pause here…dudes, that’s harsh. So just what did these people get so drunk and do in public that made them so much of a “nuisance” that they hung from a crane for it? I’m pretty liberal with my views of capital punishment, and I can see why you kill other people for certain things, no problems from here with the death penalty and hanging, in general. But shitters…executing someone for being drunk?

I would have been hanged in several countried during college if that were the description.

In fact, I have a 21st birthday that tops almost every other one I’ve ever heard. It start at a Chi Chi’s in Luxembourg…no really. They had one-dollar margharitas to celebrate their grand opening and we had just hiked to the bottom of the canyon and back up. It was about 11 a.m. We drank like 10 of these puppies. They weren’t very strong…I mean they were like promotional drinks in plastic champagne glasses. So we got on the train back to Maastricht.

Now I have devils in my ears. I need to have 21 shots for 21 years. OK, I’ll play. But they only gave me credit for five shots at the watered-down Chi Chi’s. So I drank three beers on the train ride back. I was at eight in the register — whatever the hell that was at the time.

So we get home and I am a little loopy, but completely coherent and in control. So we went to a disco boat and danced for a couple of hours. And I drank six more beers. I was to 14 by the guy keeping track. OK. Now remember, this had started more than 12 hours earlier hundreds of miles and several borders away.

I had seven to go. Now, there are about 25 of us in our group of internationals all “doing” my birthday. And we ended up at a very “friendly” bar that was run by a guy named Guido — I am not kidding. It’s now about 2 a.m. on November 3.

He declares that anything I drink is on the house. Uh, oh. So I asked him if he was serious and he said yes, that anything I drink is free.

Meanwhile, my mates are smoking so much hash and paying for it, in hindsight, I see why he wanted to keep my party around.

So I drank five beers, and it was declared I was up to 19. Argh. Now you have to remember, I was getting a contact high that was amazing with that much hash smoke in the room. But I was still kicking everyone’s butt in pool. No really…I was winning money at pool.

So I declared that for my final two shots, I wanted the two most expensive shots in the house. It’s well past 4 a.m. at this point. The first shot was easy…Hennessy. But the second shot was the most evil thing I have ever had before or since. Jaegermeister. Oh, my, God. To this day, I wonder if they laced it with something, but I don’t really care because I won’t even be in the same room with the stuff.

Now, let’s review…I started the morning in Switzerland, ended up in Luxembourg, then back to Maastricht, The Netherlands, where I went from a disco boat to hash bar with about two dozen people in tow. I had also violated every “beer before liquor, never sicker” and “liquor before beer, have no fear” rule that could exist.

Now I was in trouble. I have to walk eight blocks down Saint Annalaan Straat home. Uh, oh. And the party was still going strong because everyone else was just stoned. It was a peaceful, easy feeling for them. I felt like I had been sucker punched.

It was THAT bad.

But also that good when I look back on it nearly two decades later. It’s pretty funny.

So I started walking down the street and, I swear I have never had this feeling before or since, it was like the sidewalk was a conveyer belt. The more I walked, the faster the cracks came, and the dizzier I became. Argh. I needed to sit down.

I had gone less than a block from the cafe. No really, I made it about 75 feet before I ended up in somebody’s doorway thinking that, and I remember this, that it was too bad that the Soviet Union was crumbling otherwise they could just drop a nuclear bomb and end the mice running the wheels in my brain.

Fortunately, eventually, friends from the party started coming by, just as first light was hitting. They, literally, dragged me home, and somehow I ended up in my bed…for about 48 hours. Have you ever been so hungover that you hear things and can’t speak or move? I even remember them debating whether they should call a doctor on the Sunday. Not a sharp debate, but one person brought it up. Finally, late Sunday, I crawled to the bathroom and puked my guts out…now, remember, this means with all the blowback of the “shelf” in the toilet, which made me even pukier.

So late in the evening Sunday, my friend Dave saw me in the kitchen and, with great enthusiasm, said, “Hey, man. Feeling better?” And I almost wanted to slug him but I had no strength.

I guess I should have been hung.

Ummm…levity, is good, I think, mostly

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

So these two women go beserk on a chartered Lufthansa flight.

But I thought the “fresh air” quote was reassuredly enduring in an odd way. I don’t know why I admitting that, but I am.

Maybe I am letting my guard down, or whatever the weirdos that want to scare you are calling it, but it is pretty funny, and if it was so under control that the airline is willing to make a small joke about it, well, more power to them. It’s almost refreshing to hear that two drunk women on a charter flight went crazy while drunk and the airline gave a little bit of humor.

Or amybe I’m the one who is missing the point…hehe

Don’t tell anyone about summer in the Northwest

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

We might, might, get our first measurable precipitation in about 42 days tomorrow.

Then it’s back to sunny and 70s for the next 10 days, at least.

What I thought was interesting was that a local weather person said it’s not that abnormal. We only average less than two days of precipitation in Seattle for July-August-September. Now, they talk about how wet it is here, but our summers truly are stunning. Our winters are wet and gray without much snow, but the summers can be just plain awesome.

I was thinking of this last night when I looked at all the dead grass.

I completely declare…

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

I will never be a resident of Texas or Florida.

(I pause here, because I am frozen about which thing I would link to…)

So I just decide to link to nothing.