Archive for October, 2009

Beavers and Otters and Canada

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

 What did we do before camera phones?

P has taken a trip to Hawai’i with friends the last couple of years right after school starts. Last year, since my dad’s wife goes at the same time, we took it as an opportunity to take Big A to San Franscisco. This year it was Victoria.

Besides the fact Victoria is just a cool city to do in a couple of days with great museums and a nice compact downtown, Big A would get a chance to take her first international trip with her very own passport. Actually, it was her first international trip ever, now that I think about it.

Now, I was just in Victoria. None of the art shows or museum stuff has changed since I was there on the cruise ship, so I was a little worried that this might be a little boring. Hence, my dad and I came up with the idea of taking a float plane there and back from Lake Union. I have never been on a float plane, ever. Cool. I’m in, for sure. Big A will get her passport stamped, get to do currency exchange, and hang out with grandpa and dad.

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To get as much time in Victoria as possible, we stayed at the WAC the night before in downtown, and cabbed it over to Lake Union right at dawn to check in for a 8 a.m. flight. It was a very high overcast sky, no wind, and perfect weather for flying.

But I got really, really, really excited when I found out that since there were only four people on the flight, they had switched planes and instead of a Cessna, we were going to fly on the workhorse of the outback: a de Havilland Beaver (numbered 710) for our flight. I was giddy. If you like old transportation history, this was like getting to fly to Victoria on a museum piece.

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Now, we live on an airport, so as you can see by her looking down reading a book, my nine-year-old daughter was unfased by this all. Maybe it’s being around old cars and old airplanes to much, but I was soooo excited. I’ve been on a Beaver, just not one with floats. It, to me, is like the epitomy of the call of the wild or how the west was won.  It can take off and land in 800 feet!!!! I knew all the statistics.

But I was also impressed on another front how unflappable my daughter is when it comes to travel and flying.  I have this secret hope that by growing up on the airport, she’ll want to be a pilot someday…who knows. But you could stick in a Cubbie by herself with a pilot and she’d hardly raise a brow.

The flight was pretty uneventful, other than me trying to read every instrument from the second (last) row…we cruised along at about 1500 feet with great visibility. It was louder than hell (they hand you earplugs) because the Kenmore planes are retroed with turbines. But you go at the perfect speed to look at a map and know exactly where you are the entire one-hour flight.

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Yeah, yeah, yeah…we got to the hotel and Big A got to do all the fun stuff, and then partake in the afternoon tea at The Empress.

So, first my history heart got the Beaver, and then we stayed at the The Empress…which is just a museum you get to sleep in. If you have never done it, do it. I spent hours reading everything on the walls and just looking at patterns in the architecture and asking questions about it. I was history geeking it up.

The tea thing was enjoyable, but I’m not sure it’s worth $40 per person or whatever. But I think Dad and I chalked it up to the fact the kiddo loved it, and she can always say she did it…even though I’m sure she’ll do it again someday.

It was very crowded in the hotel and Victoria because of the torch arriving the morning after we departed.

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Then Big A got her highlight.

The weather was terrible the day of departure. Two flights on the day had already been cancelled and they were flying scout planes to figure out if there was a windown that would open to get us home. No real wind, just low overcast. Very low overcast. And we had a 4:30 flight.

Because of the earlier cancellations, they had taken out a de Havilland Otter to get us home. Completely full flight with nine people and a pilot.

But Big A got to sit in the right seat…or the co-pilot seat. And, BONUS, it was a woman pilot.

Now, the Otter isn’t as iconic as the Beaver, but it’s still pretty cool, especially this day. Remember that weather problem? Well, we were fighting that and daylight. The float planes have to fly by visual flight rules and must be within one mile of the water.

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So this is us at cruising altitude…a whopping 250 feet above Puget Sound. I am serious and accurate when I say that we went past trees in places like Port Ludlow that were on cliffs so we had to look up at them as we rode below the cloud deck. It was actually a very calm flight, but it felt like being speed racer down the Sound as container ships were almost as tall as we were high as we buzzed past them at 150 mph.

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Want to know how low we were as we made a left over Edmonds for a final into Lake Union? We had to gain altude just to get over shoreline. This is just as we crossed over the top of the Aurura Bridge.

OK, pause and check out that crappy camera phone photo and realize something. That is the most amazingly flat, untrafficked water within in one mile of a major downtown in United States at that moment.

We touched down and after a slight delay in customs because of people in front of us in line, we were back to the WAC and our car in 10 minutes.

I will never take a ferry to Victoria again.

Hey, I forgot about this!

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

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I did try using computer art with a laptop and a touch pad based on my signature. This is what I refer to as “sitting in an airport terminal” art.

It’s terrible. Hence it became a forgotten piece of mindless waiting around using MS Paint.

The Art of the Signature

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

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Let me preface this that I get a lot, a LOT, of comments on my signature. When I was about 12 I began figuring out my signature, and it basically hasn’t changed yet. I was going to, after all, be a famous baseball player some day. Probably did it 10,000 times before I was 13. I still have a looseleaf notebook from then that’s 120 pages of my just doing my signature over, and over, and over…

So I thought Big A was very cute today when she had to finally sign her very first passport. After much practice, because, well, you know you only get one shot at it, she had actually became very, very nervous about it. She’s nine — she has no signature.

My signature is nothing more than a scribble done at precisely the same speed and pretty much the same size no matter what. So, with the penmanship wag of her tongue hanging out for precision, she got through it.

But the funny thing was that she didn’t know whether to use an initial or not. She asked me how I signed mine. I showed her and she looked at my practically random scribble, didn’t miss a blink and said, “OH, you just use your first and last name.”

It wasn’t meant as a deadpan.

I finally helped set her mind at ease by explaining that she’s got time to figure it out, and then I reminded her that as long as she doesn’t lose it, who cares? And that most people go through many signatures.

She going to get a shake down from immigration when she’s nine?

Dates

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

I was cleaning up my blog account and looking at drafts I have never posted. This one is almost a year old and came after a black-tie fundraiser I went to that P couldn’t attend. Ummm…there was a lot of wine consumed…very, very good wine. And, honestly, I got home and wrote this because I felt like it was all no fun that I didn’t share it with my wife, especially, or anyone else I had gone there with on a “date.” The people were generally boorish and not that interesting, but it was for a good cause and one of those business-things you ”have” to do.

So I am actually going to publish this drunken drivel here, now, but I thought I should at least give a little of the background. 

This seems to be an ongoing theme…I hate doing stuff by myself. I want a date.

I really don’t care if it’s a man-date or a woman-date. Just that I am not doing it alone. It means nothing, other than the fact I hate showing up at a game or an event or something all by myself. I don’t want to do it with anyone I am related to by blood or could have children related to me by blood (in-laws and cousins are out, I think, per se…no offense…I just want to go out with men and women not related to me…I know you relatives too well).

P gets this, but doesn’t always like it. Well, not liking it is too strong after all these years…she gets it and just knows it comes with me. It’s nothing creepy or anything…I just tend to get bored with most “events.” She does, too, I think, and we are at a point in life where I can go to my stuff with anyone and she knows I am harmless and it’s probably good to send me out with a babysitter. So, if I have someone with me that is my friend, I can at least be guaranteed that someone more interesting than anyone else around will be there with me to talk to when I want to talk with someone. Make sense?

Which brings me to my final point…I really do find all the people that are my friends interesting and attractive (wipe off that smirk, you know what I mean). I don’t mean this in a computer-networking sense, but in the core sense of the people that I find interesting and attractive (smirk, halt, because I couldn’t figure out a better word). My friends are my friends for a reason. Oh, flubbers, I am not explaining that well, but I hope well enough.

So when I say I want to go to stuff only when I have a “date,” that’s what I mean. If P wanted to go to everything, she would lap the field for being my first choice. Completely, hands down. Most interesting and enjoyable person I know. (How many people can say that after knowing their wife almost two decades?)

But, here’s the thing…as everyone gets older, your dating pool gets smaller. Even when you just are looking for a companion date to come along for some thing that, say, you got free tickets to, etc. It’s not like husbands and wives with kids that I have known for years and years can just take a night off and hit a black-tie event or a Seahawks games. Heck, it’s not like I can do it much these days, which makes it even more remote that you can find a date.

Sign 1,755 of getting old.

And sign 192 that I probably shouldn’t have a keyboard at the moment.

The Art of Intimidation

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

So here was a good question from a friend of mine…”Is there any celebrity you could meet that would intimidate you?”

I made some prefunctory issues, about what that means exactly, and basically, it was whether or not any famous person could make you star struck.

I thought about this for a while, and it was all I could do to not say, “No.” But I know it’s a trick question in a way, so I spent a couple of days thinking about it. In the end, I decided there was a basic top-10 of people I would meet and they would put me on my heels to be shaking hands and conversing with them. I justified it in my mind that just seeing them or just shaking their hand was bogus and a yawn….that’s not a big deal. But if I was actually talking to them…these would be the first that came to mind that would intimdate me to the point you knew something was different in my physiology:

(No particular order.) Oprah, Any POTUS past or present, Tom Hanks, Ali, Nelson Mandela, Dali Lama, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Meg Ryan, Jack Nicholson, Bruce.

All of those people who intimidate me. Maybe only for a moment, but I would be getting the sweaty palms. There was one I super tripped over, and that was The Pope, but I really don’t take it all seriously religiously, so that wouldn’t be a big deal other than the big deal. I was tryiing to figure out who would make me sweat over the stars in my eyes.

The one that didn’t fit, seemingly? Meg Ryan, of course. But to me that falls in the pantheon of a 20-year crush that makes no sense to anyone and, trust me, I would pretty much pee in my pants. My wife has known this since the day she met me. I would avoid her just because of the incontinence.

I thought this was a pretty good top-10. My friend said, I swear, said “You’ll have a conversation with any of those people when you catch Sharon Stone crossing her legs at a Spanaway sports bar.”

So, what was the point of the question?

My coat

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

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This is my Filson coat. It’s a Double Mackinaw wool coat that I have had for eight years. It smells. It’s got everything from blood stains from ducks to blood stains from me on it. But it’s like the Inspector Gadget coat…almost everything I need at any given time to either deal with a screwed up car or amuse myself is in one of the pockets. I actually look forwward, every fall, to the time I can basically wear it for days at a time.

Hence my problem. P really wants me to clean it. To me, cleaning it has always meant hanging it in the shower while I bathe and it steams. I live by the mantra that you never really “clean” 100-percent virgin wool. So my wife has practically banned it from the house because it sat all summer and it’s got a little bit of “hanging around” smell to it.

This falls in the category of things you never really understand until you’ve been with someone for the better part of two decades as a couple…we have agreed to just call bullshit on each other regarding the coat. I’ll never get it cleaned, she never will do anything but hate it. That’s cool. But we have that common bond that it ain’t worth fighting about. I’ve got two things I just don’t mess with…Filson wool and my Keen shoes; everything else is disposible.

Serioously, I love this coat. It’s one of the greatest birthday presents I’ve ever been given. I’ve sat through blizzards in it, and used it as a dog bed in a motel room. It gets through football games all winter, and it made a great blanket once on a camping trip for two. It is the Leatherman, Swiss Army piece of colthing that I could swear by in a heartbeat.

I’ll just aeresol it and spray some cologne to get it back to life and smelling more like me than six-months of hanging in the closet. It’ll be fine.

But these are the tricky details of marriage. It’s been told it stinks, and it may take some time to put the rose back in that bloom.

I’ve said it before and I hate saying it again

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

P’s snoring has got to be the worst thing ever to deal with every night. It’s not even like deep-sleep snoring, she starts winding up almost as soon as her head hits the pillow.

Now, I’m sure it’s rude to say this outloud, but I am calling her out because this is just silly. It’s seriously silly. It’s not even enjoyable being near her even in light sleep…she starts mowing logs immediately. Then, I sit and wait until the moment where something blocks ups and she can’t breathe and I hope she rolls over because of it.

But here’s the problem…if I point this out, I am the bad guy. So here P…no bad guy…I really worry about your snoring and sleep apnea. You are incredibly loud, to the point that you would even see humor in it because it sounds like something from a TV sitcom. I might snore, but when I record myself, it’s nothing on you because you’re so loud I can’t hear me. And you do it in every position. I can’t even just roll you over to solve the problem…you snore dangerous sounding.

I’ve got my own health problems that I take care of all the time. This is one P needs to address. Not so much because I care about the sound, but because she gets an obvious apnea in the middle of it. I mean, the sound sucks, but I am more worried about the breathing.

Dear wife, I love you more than anyone in world outside of Big A…but you have got a GIANT breathing problem when you sleep.

And readers of this blog…if you read this and talk to her tell her I’m not a bad guy for pointing this out and that she should really get it it scientifically looked at because, well, you try sleeping next to her.

Windows 7

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

I want Windows 7 tomorrow but I am scared to change the OS of my current machines.

I got pretty burned on switching to Vista. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Vista got fixed over the years to the point that I really like it. But my main server is running XP, so I have been waiting to see W7 come out before I fiddle with it. But the Vista thing, even after all of this time, has me thinking that I’m going to wait.

I’m not quite sure why there is “Vista bashing” today. As long as you downloaded all the service packs and fixes, it’s a pretty solid system. As a matter of fact, I really like it. But that XP machine needs the meds of a new OS and I know it. The giant problem is that it runs all of EVERYTHING when it comes to computers in our home. It’s almost like the dangers involved with sacrificing the stable, solid mothership of computer technology in our home system. I may even call in a consultant to do the surgery. The Vista machines are all laptops that weren’t meant to have long life spans, per se. The desktop server was meant to go the distance. Even after seven years, it’s still more souped up than 9 out of 10 desktops sold today.

So I am going to punt until after the holidays and get more data. But everyone I respect and have talked to, who have played with Windows 7, says that it’s a real deal. We’ll see…

Epic: Why volleyball is so good for nine year olds

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

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Big A had an awesome volleyball match tonight. They lost, but the scores were all in the high 20s (you play to 21 and have to win by two).

Now, this is the first time her volleyball team has not only ran into an opponent with as much of a clue as her team has, it’s the first time they have lost.

So what was so great about it? Everyone knew what the freakin’ score was all the time in all three games! And no one is dead, ill or mamed because of it. It was just fun. But there was definitely a winner and a loser after what, normally takes a half hour, turned into an a more than one-hour battle.

This was a super epoch of Big A’s competetive athletic life. These three games they played, I think, are going to be something she looks back on as the moment where winning really meant something. Even with a loss. It had better, anyway. Or maybe it won’t and she wan’t meant to be competetive; who knows. It just felt very grown up in the fact that the scoreboard keeps track of it all for everyone on all sides to see.

But it was really nice, too, to say that scores can be kept and parents are cool in the stands, the girls weren’t crushed and everyone knew it was all good.

Fall Poem

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The sky is blue when I think of you/But when it’s gray I know your away/The hills turn brown and you’re not around/Snows hit the peaks, leaves hit the ground/Autumns call makes me weak/The sun goes down/Your summer thoughts are looking bleak.

Written in 54 seconds. I love slam poetry even if the end product isn’t great. I’ve played this with Big A for a couple of years, so I am a little to singsongyrhymy with it these days. The trick is to write a poem as fast as you can in less than a minute…it has to be a complete thought and make sense.