Friday, August 31, 2007

Borscht, Bath and Beyond

Can you hear me now? Radio WLKA is broadcasting live from the West Seattle Tully's! We wanted a little change-of-place, so we scootered out here for a view of the bay while we play. It seems like we're in a different county, if not a different country - one that has really crappy roads, by the way. Oh, my aching tucchus!

Plunge: So, I went down to Banya 5, the Russian spa, yesterday. Beaucoup de mercis and gracias muchoses to Dingo, who gave me the gift certificate for a birthday present, like, 22 months ago. I am so late in using it only because I wanted a day with no other obligations, and it had to be a Thursday, since that's the boy-only day, and I'm not going to Russian spa unless I can walk around naked and hairy. Yesterday fit the bill.

I went early and got there just as they opened, so it was pretty empty and quiet. I have no way of knowing how it compares to Olympus Spas, since they are always girl-only, but it was clean and bright and modern and classy-like.

I started in the Turkish Steam Room; I had forgotten what low-visibility environments steam rooms are. It was like a really think fog, only lots hotter. After I had sweat sufficiently (because sweating = health, apparently) I got out and jumped in a pool, and then relaxed in a hot tub for a while.

Once I felt a little acclimated, I went into the Russian Sauna. This is a dry room that can reach 200-220 degrees at the top benches. It sort of felt like sitting in a pizza oven, but it was okay, because, you know, it was a dry heat.

Let me tell you, walking out of that room and jumping into a pool of 55 degree water was invigorating to say the least. I really don't know about the health benefits of any of this, but it sure is fun.

I took a break and went upstairs to a "napping lounge" for a while and drank some lemon water while reading a New Yorker. The facility was quite nice throughout, with massage and salt-scrub rooms on the two levels and a small room with tables and chairs for dining tea, playing games, and suchlike.

I finished off the visit with another Russian room/cold pool sequence and scootered home a happy (if flushed pink) boy.

Post-plunge: Otis took me to lunch at Bengal Tiger and then we both had naps in the afternoon! Relaxing takes a lot out of a fellow.

In the saddle: While Otis tended to a client last night, I took a little ride down to Gas Works Park, where I called Jon of Monmouth and did some past-due checking in with that noted former blogger. The ride marked three consecutive days of biking; I am hovering at a solid 6% of target for the year. Pitiful.

Spectration: After salad-bar goodness for dinner, Otis and I watched Donnie Darko (the director's cut). After all the hip-hype this film got, maybe my expectations were too high, but I thought it was just okay, although it would have made a nice little twilight zone episode if you cut it down enough. It was a bit erratic and disjointed, and not in a good way, but in a did-the-director-know-what-he-was-doing? way. Mary McDonnell is always watchable, and it was great to see Katherine Ross, but Maggie Gyllenhaal was wasted and Jake a bit too keanu for me. A definite meh.

Ride, captain, ride: Otis and I got up early this morning and hit the Burke-Gilman trail together, wheel and heels. While Otis took a walk, I made run from Gas Works to Matthews Beach, not quite managing a tripple-dipple, but pulling a solid hour at 14.4 mph. It made me feel a little more confident about gearing up for the commute in the next few weeks.

Riding anecdote: At one intersection where the B-G crosses a wide street on the UW campus, they have installed a big, blinking stop sign for bikers. I appreciate the effort to make bikers safer by encouraging us to stop, but I found a certain irony in coming upon two bike officers writing a middle-aged bike commuter a citation at this new sign just after having been almost struck by a car at the previous intersection while I was crossing in a marked crosswalk with the green light and a walk sign.

We rewarded ourselves with coffee at Mighty O donuts in Tangletown, and while I was there I read some encouraging news in the paper regarding the state of car-commuting in Seattle: apparently, Sound Transit increased daily ridership by an average of 2,000 during the I-5 closure, and in the week that the highway has been re-opened, they retained more than a third of that number, for a net 10% increase in ridership from before the project. Maybe we are less hidebound than we think!

(I know I haven't missed my car. I last turned it over to Sachet before she left for Montreal and who knows where it is now. Dingo suggested I start dudewhere' to keep track.)

Indolence and industry: We came home and thought about doing serious housework and shopping, but obviously opted for a ride out instead.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Almost like summer

Yesterday was a brilliant day, but aren't hot, sunny summer days supposed to lazily roll by? Maybe it's that we're in the waning days of the season, but even though it was summery the day seemed to speed along. Otis and I took a walk around Green Lake in the morning and had lunch outside, but I had school work to do at home and then was in my office on campus by 3:30, so maybe it was more truncated than rushed.

In any case, today will include active laziness: in a few minutes, I'll be heading off to the Russian Spa for a morning of hot rooms and cold pools.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Saying the B-word; and, Hanging with the 'Lona

So, as unconscionably slack as I have been this summer about riding, I am still bound and determined to become at least a mostly-bike commuter this school year. In aid of that effort, I took my bike into the service center over the weekend for a tune-up/overhaul. I picked it up this morning with all its shiny new pads and cables and chain, as well as a new rear cassette and tires. Everything that was supposed to be tight was tight, and everything that was supposed to be loose was smooth as silk. I rode back to the RD from REI and the ride really felt different; in addition to the whole bike feeling slicker, the new gearing has different ratios so I had to adjust my shifting pattern. I still need to get some accessory equipment - a new headlight and such - but all my excuses for not riding are gone. Let's see how well I do in these waning days of summer.

After bike bidness, I took advantage of Otis's busy, busy schedule to spend most of the day with Wheylona.


Had lunch
Toured Cascadia
Geeked out in 3PB/LFP
Walked around Green Lake
Had ice cream
Solved most of the problems of the world

and still had time to hook up with Otis.

I took Wheylona back to Cap Hill for her dinner date, dropped Otis off so she could get a cheap massage at her alma mater, and found working wi-fi at a closed cafe, where I am sitting at a sidewalk table, blogging away.

Life is sweet!

Monday, August 27, 2007

A veritable catalogue of fun

After blogging from a Caffe Ladro yesterday, Otis and I headed up to 'Zalo's to put in an appearance at Wheylona's open house. We enjoyed a drink and the view and got connected and made plans, and then we had to run off to do grocery shopping, of all things. (When ya gotta, ya gotta.)

Last night, we threw in a Netflik and watched Rushmore. I' don't know about this Wes Anderson guy; he makes interesting and textured movies, but I'm not sure I like - or even care about - the characters enough to fully engage with the stories. A few really good moments don't a movie make.

Today, Kris-10 came over to work on a project with Otis while I was doing work-work; we all broke for a nice pirogie-based lunch together. After lunch, Otis and I spent some time in Magnuson Park; I made my way through quite a bit of Freakonomics, which is every bit as interesting as (but a little less compelling than) I thought it would be.

We came home for dinner before joining Eryk, Dingo, Johnbai, and Stella at the Crest for The Lives of Others, a subtle and complex look at the choices one Stasi - a security apparatchik - makes in the days of pervasive citizen surveillance in the East German Republic. Part thriller, part romance, part simple human drama, the movie was a great reminder that story and acting are what really make movies great.

We all went out for coffee-an' afters, until the big green S threw us out - just like old times!

Completely unrelated graphical element:

Here's a photo of Otis when she was fourteen.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A new gizmo

Otis just said "Oh, there's a new button on my Blogger" and lookee - it's for uploading videos! This is pretty cool, especially since YouTube keeps failing my videos lately - I haven't been able to uplood one all summer. Anyway, this is me, trying it out, with the usual I-thought-I-was-taking-a-photo cinema verite from my sister's wedding:

And the fun just keeps on coming this weekend. Yesterday, Stella came by the RD for a wonderful birthday lunch - we all went down to the Red Robin for veggie burgers with fries and birthday songs from the servers. Such silliness!

Last night, Otis and I decided on a whim to go out to the movies, so we headed up to the Crest and saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (POTC:AWE). So, what happened? Well, Johnny Depp was there, actually a whole lot of him were there; all the old folks showed up (and often died) and some new multi-cultural pirates joined in; people seemed to be double-crossing each other a lot, but I could never tell exactly why; there was lots of swashbuckling and gunplay and cannoneering; the monkey was cute; and the whole thing was a sometimes fun, always over-the-top, three-hour mess. Kinda like an amusement park ride, actually.

This morning, Otis was off with a girlfriend so I completely nerded out and wound up, among other things, color-coding the calendar for the whole next year. Now we're out and about (I juts dropped my bike at REI for an overhaul) and going to go see Wheylona later. How much fun can one man stand?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Big day, big post

Wow, what a day it was Friday. I was up at the crack (and was reminded how it is dark at 5:30 am nowadays) to get ready to head down to Portland for Mags's wedding. Otis was bleary-eyed but somewhat bushy-tailed, so we actually got on the road before 7:00 am. It turned out to be a good thing, because at about Olympia we passed the first of many wrecks we encountered on the round-trip; the police and emergency services activity slowed us to a crawl for about a half-hour.

Nonetheless, we made it down in plenty of time for a lovely wedding at the Overlook House. What does the house overlook, you ask? Well, here's Otis giggling at the view:

After running through food from Tacoma to castle Rock, we were pleased that the outdoor ceremony was graced with sunshine. Here's the obligatory wedding party photo:

You should be able to pick out Mags and her blushin' groom easily. One totally cool note to the affair was the cross-gendered wedding party: there was a boy bridesmaid (far left) and a girl groomsman (the redhead on the right, behind the camera).

So, after ceremony, salsa & chips, and individual wedding cupcakes (another cool touch), we jumped back into Renty Red and pointed her nose north to head back for the Full Belly Barbecue in Volunteer Park. We even had time to stop at home and feed kitties before joining the gang and feeding ourselves!

Mass kudos out to Johnbai and O for managing to turn what we do anyway - hang out and eat - into a vehicle to help us devote some measure of our resources to social good. (Go see the blog for details.) When you add in O's delicious cooking, well, you've got it made.

Johnbai did yeoman work with the fetch and tote portion of the evening

The queen of the evening, O shows off her cute new 'do

Welcome-back Wheylona with jet lag action smiles through her brain-fog as Stella strikes a dramatic pose

We're happy and exhausted and going home

The food was great and the company was greater, but we faded out pretty fast and went home to bed. I slept almost until eight this morning, that's how tired I was. My cup runneth over with fun.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The bees knees...

...are probably fine, but mine are pretty achy.

Today was Stella's moving day. The call went out, and of course, Farmer Scott, who will now be know by the new sobriquet Stalwart Scott, answered in his usual resolute style. Even though he had plans to drive to Portland in the afternoon, he came over to the Land of Beige in the early morn to lend his truck and, more importantly, lift up heavy objects, carry them down into said truck, lather-rinse-repeat, and then drive to Not Quite Campus and do it in reverse at the new place, and then do it all again! And, I must say, I was right there with him, wading into the box springs and bookcases, while Stella herself ran to and fro with lots of smaller items (such as ten-gallon potted plants!), much as she has been doing for a solid week now.

But, we got it all done, and were rewarded with a fine brunch in downtown Bothell.

Stella's new place is bigger, nicer, and, most importantly, even closer to campus that her prior digs. How close? Would you believe a 90-second commute? Would you believe she doesn't have to walk on the streets even - she can cut through the grass? Would you believe I can see her window from my office? That close.

So, I came home in the afternoon -- I bussed it both ways, incidentally: piece of cake -- and helped Otis get ready for her book club, had dinner, and then made like a banana and split (you can read about my "adventures" on my comix blog). Tomorrow is going to mean Portland for Otis and me as well: we need to drive down for an 11:00 am wedding, and then be back for a 5:00pm Full Belly. What a day this will be! But at least I won't have to use my knees much.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bits of tid

A gear-up, gear-down day today: up early and out to return my key to North and run some errands; back for lunch and a little nap; up and at 'em doing lesson planning; then a nice little walk in mugginess and some relaxation; getting ready for class now and off to teach in a little while. I'll be done at 9:30 and then who knows?

Otis has been busy with work, either clients or marketing stuff, all day, too.

The Incredible Demolition Man is back on the property next door: he had taken a little vacation, but is once again tearing out blackberries, hauling out furnishings, and dismantling odd bits of the abandoned house. He sure works hard and does a good job, but for the life of me I can't imagine why they don't just bulldoze the thing - the salvage they are getting is minimal, especially considering all the effort it is taking.

Hey - Sachet has a blog! Go visit and check it out. That makes at least three blogs in our little corner of the blogoverse related to people who have moved keeping in touch. Cool!

Vente clued me in to the funniest Craig's List Ad Evar. I imagine paragraphs three and four were written post facto.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A little gray cat of a day

It has been that kind of timeless, aimless, gray day; we have filled it with meals and laundry and reading and naps and not much else. I wonder where the August went?

Last night, on the other hand, was quite a kick. We had a splendid evening and a great meal with lots of spaghetti (me) and salad (Otis) and apple pie and ice cream (Dar) and red wine (J-Force). (Well, only J and I had the wine, but it seemed to be all gone by the end of the evening anyway.) It was good to see J-Force again after a longish spell and great to catch up with Dar after entirely too long an absence.

But that wonderful evening passed, and we slipped into night, and then the misty morning that became today, by turns wet and muggy and cool. A walk down to the U District helped a bit - and I got some neat notebooks - but did not dispel the overall malaise. A good day for getting dishes done, I suppose.

I did finish reading Magic Man; it was not completely unsatisfying, if I may praise with faint damn.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Busman's holiday

Yesterday, Otis and I made a kamikaze run down to Portland (actually, Troutdale) to see Lizzie in a production of Luv, a very sixties play (that was made into a 1967 film with Peter Falk, Jack Lemmon, and Elaine May). It was a dated but very funny three-person, unit-set piece about desire, hope, deceit, suicide, murder, and love. Good stuff.

The drive down in the morning was slick – even in the rain, it took less than two and a half hours to get down, traffic was so light. We had time for a nice leisurely lunch and a side trip to Multnomah Falls before the matinĂ©e.

The trip back wasn’t so happy: more rain, lots of accidents, lots of slow-downs because of accidents, lots of slowdowns for no reason at all, and, of course, the mother of all slowdowns at the Spokane Street closure. We shoulda took the train.

Today, Otis had a writing group so I set off for Cascadia to take care of some business. Originally, I intended to bike it, but the rain this morning discouraged me, so I took the bus instead. It was a pretty sweet ride – great connections and an easy trip. It makes me think this might even be simpler than I thought.

I did discuss bicycle commuting with a colleague at Bothell who does it routinely. He said there are two basic philosophies about commuting gear: one is to get good, waterproof stuff and ride without breaking a sweat, so you’re presentable upon arrival; the other is to ride hard, get wet and sweaty, and change at work. I’m beginning to think the latter makes more sense. It would certainly be cheaper.

An additional benefit to heading into campus today was lunch with Stella and Vente. We all got caught up, and I got to see Stella’s new apartment, which abuts campus and is about a ninety-second walk from my office. Vente (a librarian) also complained that I did not describe the novel I am reading, so: it is Magic Man by Ron Base, a bit of magical realism about a young man in Hollywood in the late twenties trying to find true love to stave off a curse that will otherwise kill him. The protagonist gets involved with young Gary Cooper, Clara Bow, and other historical figures as he moves through his adventure. Twenty percent in, I’m sort of lukewarm to it.

Now, off to begin preparing dinner for our guests tonight!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bourne to be wild

Y’know, I more-or-less consciously developed a policy of not buying individual comics but rather “waiting for the trade” as it is called – holding off from buying each issue until they are collected in one package (usually a trade paperback). This usually winds up being a little cheaper, but more importantly, my aesthetic experience of reading is changed, often for the better, but getting the story all of a piece rather than serially.

A less-conscious motive has recently led to a similar experience. I hadn't seen either of the first Bourne movies (Identity or Supremacy) before last night – I guess I just wasn’t interested enough in seeing them when they first came out. But Otis expressed some interest in seeing the new one (Ultimatum) and we decided to view the first two as a Red Envelope double feature before going to the theater.

Well, I enjoyed all the movies, but I must say that I think my experience was improved by seeing them all at a go. The movies are woven together pretty tightly: characters, major and minor, re-appear, and the amnesiac protagonist’s memory comes back in fits and starts throughout the whole series. I am sure that I would have enjoyed Ultimatum, for example, without having seen the other films – it's a dandy actioner that is smarter than most – but I am just as sure that I would not have had as rich an experience without having the relationships and nuances as fresh in my mind as they were.

I think this phenomenon of increased engagement through aggregation is also reflected in the current popularity of watching television series on DVD. Without having to wait a week between each episode – often longer with the reduced episode counts that comprise a full season these days – people are becoming even more involved in shows. I think a good deal of this response comes from the immediacy of seeing storylines develop, a keener awareness of foreshadowing or clues, and a stronger sense of narrative structure.*

Or maybe I’m full of cheese whiz.

Anyway, we had a great time meeting Dingo for a day at the movies – lunch at Araiya’s, a flick, and coffee-afters: who could ask for more? We even had a surprise thunderstorm for our floor show.

And to continue the good news, I got all my North grading finished tonight. Yahoo!

*I mean, without seeing all three Bourne movies at once, I might not have noticed that they fit neatly into Joseph Campbell's structure for the heroic journey: destiny discovered, possibilities discovered, and destiny confronted.

Just because we haven't had any graphics or links in a while, here are some:

Okay, so I get that Richard Chamberlain is Matt Damon, but is Jacyln Smith supposed to be Franka Potente or Joan Allen?

Dick Cheney talking about Iraq - thirteen years ago.

A nice little test - see how well you do.

Friday, August 17, 2007

True to form

Give that today was the first day of my "summer vacation" I luxuriated in turning off the alarm and laying slug-a-bed until almost 7:30! What a lazy guy!

I managed to busy myself without actually accomplishing anything that I could check off my to-do list; amazing how that happens sometimes, innit? Then Otis and I took a shortish walk through the neighborhoods and down to the lake, circling around to hit the Green Lake Library just as it opened. I reserved a bunch of books and actually checked one out! Reading: maybe I'll pick up the habit again!

If I do, it will be one piece of the process of getting control of my activities. Even leaving aside how I have completed only a negligible percentage of my biking goals this summer, I feel as if the days have just slipped away without my accomplishing anything. And I don't mean accomplish just in the sense of Doing Something Significant; I mean that, with some notable exceptions, I have been frittering away my time instead of filling it up. Well, I aim to change that.

I plan to capitalize (socialize?) on the focus that will come from having a full-time position and use that as a framework for an anti-fritter campaign. There's so much that I want to do and learn and read and play with; I'm tired of being distracted and wasting time.

Which is not to say that this is a zero-tolerance stand against idleness; down-time and quiet contemplation are good for the soul. But when I am in gear, I hope to be using my resources on stuff that gives me some lasting satisfaction rather than just passing distraction.

That doesn't mean that I came back from the library and plowed into War and Peace to improve my character. In fact, Otis and I scootered over to Fremont to have a delightful lunch with b and c at Qazi's, which has an Indian buffet to rival the Bombay Grill.

But when I came home, I eschewed YouTube and started in on the novel I picked up.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

All over but the shouting...

Well, actually, it's all over except for the grading. And the posting of grades. And it's not really all over, since I still have to teach once a week at Antioch, but at any rate, I had my last day of class for the summer - and my last class for the foreseeable future - at North tonight. Yay, with a hint of sadness at leaving that college for the last time. (Oh, and I did bagels and NY pizza.)

I started a to-do list to make sure I wouldn't have any fun with this new-found free time over the next few weeks. I quickly filled a page with tasks lated to last quarter's Antioch class (holdover assignments), this quarter's Antioch class, next quarter's Antioch class, next quarter's Cascadia classes, cleaning my office, fixing up my bike, and lots of other stuff. And a long sequence of departmental meetings, new faculty orientations, and training sessions begins on the fifth of September, so it's not like there's going to be a lot of empty hours between now and fall quarter. So much for a summer vacation this year!

Still, not having the split shift will be a big relief, and I am sure I'll be able to squeeze some good stuff in when I'm supposed to be along with working.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

From the academic office...

... in the middle of prepping and grading and such.

Yesterday, it was beautiful. Midday found us at Magnuson Park, Otis swimming and relaxing and me grading. Today people ask me if have been getting some sun. Just the one day!

Today, it was beautiful, but we didn't go anywhere beside our own front yard. Tant pis.

Tomorrow is the last day for North and the end to my summer split shifts. I think I will be the Nice Teacher and bring in donuts (for the morning class) and pizza (for the night class) to celebrate.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tuesday already?

Wow, time flies when it's flying.

Looks like yesterday the region dodged the bullet on the Great Freeway Closure, and alternate methods easily moved a lot of people off I-5, but the radio box says today, things are more on the sucky side. Was taking the train for one day so hard on Seattle commuters that they decided to brave the highway regardless of delays? How are we ever going to move away from the car culture?

We watched Incident at Loch Ness on the wall last night. This movie within a movie within a movie within a movie - it is by turns a documentary on the life of Werner Herzog, a documentary on Loch Ness, a sort-of State and Main movie-movie, and a Blair Witch ripoff - is ultimately unsuccessful and interesting only because of Herzog's charisma and a surprisingly textured performance from the least likely source - the supposed eye candy.

The weather's great, though!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Whirled peas

So, what the heck has been goin’ on?!

Friday: Adieu, Sachet! and Nausicaa

First of all, Sachet’s going-away cum birthday party on Friday night was a blast! A whole flash-mob’s worth of folks showed up, and there was food, fun, frolic(1), badminton, betterminton, sweetness, bittersweetness, and… well, don't just take my word for it: take a look at the photos. (You can click view as slide show in the upper-middle right; I left them uncaptioned.)

Sachet is still with us at this moment, physically at least, since her flight to the Grand Nord Blanc is a redeye; mentally, I think she’s in the stratosphere anyway. I know we all wish her the best luck in Montreal and in her program. Bon Voyage, Sachet!

Coming home from the party emotionally spent, Otis and I parked ourselves in front of the spectrator and watched Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds, the anime from a few years ago. Otis was in eco-feminist heaven, what with the strong female leads, and the woman-animal connections, and the environmental themes, and the animal communication going on. All that, plus funky aeroplanes and Patrick Stewart as a master swordsman = way cool!

Saturday: Men and work

Yesterday morning began with a walk to Wallingford and out and around and back, and then continued with my walking back down to Cedars in the U district to attend a meeting of the League of Unordinary Gentlemen with Johnbai and da boyz. Some falafel(2) and good conversation later, and I was a new man.

A new man that Stella was apparently bound to break, by introducing me to a Rug Doctor steam carpet cleaner! But I conquered the beast and gave Otis’s massage room and my office a thorough passable going over(3). We were so overjoyed that the three of us celebrated with dinner at Jalisco’s.

The postprandial programme was supposed to comprise the Fremont Outdoor Movies, but we headed over there and no one from the gang was about, so we came back to the RD so Otis could get some work done and I could be the opposite of productive.

Sunday: Call me the wanderer

This morning, I walked to the Wallingford Tully’s to both work and goof off, hoping to be joined in my Sunday morning indolence while Otis worked her way through her appointments, but although I received communications from many, none came out to play. I got my work done and took a walk through the U-district before coming home, eating pizza on the street and verifying the existence of an establishment that Johnbai discovered. Too bad it was closed(4).

I returned home for a short respite, only to turn around and walk back down The Ave with Otis to go see Sunshine. Neither the beautiful blue eyes of Cillian Murphy nor the brash charm of Chris Evans could save this muddled mess of a hard sci-fi / psychological / horror / spiritual-actualization story. I hate to be Bummerman Junior, but the technical implausibilties alone made the movie unengageable, much less the apparently random motivations of the humans. This Aliens-wannabe is worth missing.

We took the bad taste out of our mouths(5) with some delicious food at Veggie Veggie Thai, a worthwhile addition to any list of vegetarian restaurants.

And that’s what the heck has been going’ on!


(1) The frolic was so profound that someone walked away with the Mexican blanket that lives in my Little Black Car (which was driven by Sachet herself), Anyone have it?
(2) The food was just splendid, but I have to say that the service there is just aggressive – sort of militant attention. That damn water glass is going to be filled and that late taken away no matter what!
(3)If you ever want to dye anything red, try Tangerine flavored Emergen-C. I had spilled some on my office carpet, and that stuff resisted even the steam cleaner.
(4)This place has nutty hours:

(5) Actually, Otis enjoyed it more than I did, although she did say that the last third didn't seem to fit with the beginning.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


So, last night was Sachet's going away party.

And I just came from a rousing lunch at Johnbai's Men's Club meeting.

And Stella is coming up in a little while to clean carpets and then head off to the movies tonight.

So there won't be a real post until my five hours stint of grading and blogging tomorrow morning, but I'll have pictures and stuff then.

So have great day!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Catching up, again

WLKA radio is coming to you live this Friday morning from Caffe Ladro in Fremont. Otis is down the street at The Subtle Body getting a massage and we're going to kick this busy weekend off with brunch at Silence Heart Nest when she's finished. But first - it's ketchup time!

On Wednesday night, we watched The Hebrew Hammer, a kosher version of the blaxploitation films of the seventies, in which a Jewish PI (certified circumcised dick) stops a plot by The Man to eliminate Chanukah. Adam Goldberg, who I am starting to like a lot, was a great Shaft-like action hero, Mario van Peebles was in full cool mode as his buddy, and Judy Greer quirky and likable as his gal pal. Nora Dunn has a nice turn as the Hammer's mother and Peter Coyote chews up the scenery as The Chief. The film had a good heart, staged some nice action sequences, and provided some funny moments (none of them from the execrable Andy Dick as the villain, the son of Santa Claus), but overall it was much better in concept than execution and marred by clumsy T&A. While the movie was ultimately unsuccessful, I would check out a sequel if it comes, and I was all set to buy a Jewish Justice League cap (except the website is broken).

Thursday was characterized by my morning and evening classes sandwiching the midday prep for Otis's Artwalk evening. I missed most of it because I was at school, but it sounds like things went well for both artists. Special kudos out to Soapy for stepping into the factotum role for the night!

Check your calendars and we hope to see lots of you over the course of the weekend.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Do not want

So, on Monday night, Otis and I went to dinner with Sairey, to say thank you for her house-sitting stint, and to say good-bye, because she, like Carole, is moving to Canada! (Although it's Calgary and not Montreal.) Stella's Irish guest has stayed her time in the Pacific Northwest and must move on, lest la migra (how would you say that in Gaelic?) comes looking for her. We wish her the best, of course, and she has promised to come back for a visit as soon as she can.

We took Sairey to Woodinville Thai, which I recalled as the source of some of the best Thai food around. Well, if it ever was, it's not anymore. Not only was the meal undistinguished (although we redeemed it with dessert at Cold Stone Creamery), both Otis and I have felt pretty under-the-weather since we ate there. Seriously, that's why there was no post yesterday - when I haven't been actually working, I have been napping and/or groaning with constitutional distress, and the two of us have been shambling like zombies for the past forty-eight hours. I don't know what was in the curry, but I think it was whipped up by a henchman of Fu Manchu to put us both out of action. We're just starting to feel better now.

The moral of the story: Even if a sweet colleen is leaving town, NEVER EAT AT WOODINVILLE THAI.

Social butterflying:

Tomorrow: The latest episode of Otis's artwalk participation!
The next day: Sachet's good-bye fest in the park!
The day after that: The Fremont Outdoor Movie!

I'll let you look up your own links this time...

And just cuz Otis thought it was interesting when I described it, here's some conceptual art:

Here's a link to the Self-Sustainable Chair Project, which explains it for you.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Longer afternoon post

Movie I: Saturday night we watched Chocolat, which Otis had seen already and liked and which I thought was okay. I mean, it was good and all, but it just didn't grab me as much as I thought it would, given all that everyone had said about it.

Movie I(a): I also watched a documentary on women and comics, and talked about it at length on my comics blog.

The Urban Hike:

As you can see by the graphic, the hike was truncated. The walkers turned out to be Johnbai, O, and I; although Eryk, Sylvio, Dingo, and Sachet showed up for O's yummy blueberry and pecan French toast, they had obligations that kept them from walking. It wasn't just the great food and company that got us off to a late start, either; we had to spend time up at Sachet's, helping her lighten her load for the move to Montreal by helping ourselves to the stuff that was leftover after she packed. I filled a whole box with goodies and staked a claim on more.

The walking itself was lovely; the day was warm, but not too warm, and the conversation kept a spring in our steps (except when Bummerman came out at the Sculpture Garden). We even picked (and ate) blackberries along the way. I think we covered about seven miles, so we'll call that good.

Otis didn't join the party because she was at home creating trying to create art. She broke her artistic frustration cycle by driving over and joining the three trekkers in Interbay for some Strongbow cider and pub grub.

Additional note: O's theory (related on the hike) of my being a Connector of sorts is weakened by my score of only 13 on the Gladwell quiz (see below); that's in the bottom decile of the results that Gladwell reports. I think that Ned raised some valid criticisms of the quiz's being Manhattan-centric, though: not only is it a Manhattan phone book that he used for his list of names, the test subjects to determine his baselines were students at City College in New York, academics in Princeton, New Jersey, and professionals of his acquaintance (who, I suspect, are also on the east coast). Nonetheless, give it a try.

Movie II: Last night we watched Stripped to Kill, the Roger Corman-produced Kay Lenz-Greg Evigan vehicle about a cop who goes undercover as a stripper to solve a murder. A fun eighties cheesefest; think Flashdance with corpses. Norman Fell is in it, too. I love Netflix.

Quick morning note

Whatever dinking around I did with the computer seems to have worked. I can see videos now, and the type-delay on Blogger is negligible, and things seem to be moving a little more quickly. A tentative hoorah!

On the truncated long walk yesterday, O was telling us about Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point, and in particular the concept of the Connector. Here's a summary of the book, and here's Gladwell's little test to see if you are a Connector. I haven't taken the test yet, but I was interested in the concept, especially as to how it relates to social blogging.

Busy day ahead - more later.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

PM postation

So, here we are at the totally green Green Bean beanery; I have just finished grading, Otis is doing something mysterious, and now it's time to catch the trolley to Blogville.

Yesterday's breakfast was a most excellent meal: not just the groceries, but the company. Johnbai, O, Yojimbo, K, Jon of Monmouth, Otis and I filled the restaurant with way too much laughter and conversation before sending our valley visitors back on the road - it was finestkind. I even had a chance to pass some more of the afternoon with Yojimbo, as well, after dropping O off at a garage sale, where she was last seen muttering "my precioussssssss..." over some cut crystal.

I finally got some notice from the personnel department at Cascadia, so I spent some time yesterday sending them material to begin the salary negotiation process and making arrangements for my pre-quarter training (which includes a swinging two-day trip to Poulsbo). Just about a month now, and I'll be on that track to tenure.

Otis and I had a free dinner at the new Stanford's last night - it was part pre-opening marketing and part staff training. They had a bit of a time dealing with a couple of vegetarians, but were very flexible and accommodating, providing (among other variations) a swell grilled portobello mushroom dish. I don't think that we'll ever eat there, but it was a nice treat (the bill would have been $60 plus tip). It was a nice start to an evening that included coffee and jazz at LFP and some late-night hot-tub action.

My desktop computer is slow. I am trying a bunch of stuff, but I don't even know what the cause is. My Blogger interface runs too slow even to use, I can't watch most videos, and switching between windows seems to take way too long. I added more RAM and have been cleaning out files and repairing permissions and all that, but nothing seems to make a difference. I am about ready to re-install OSX; I don't know what I'll do if that doesn't work.

Otis is participating in the next Roosevelt Art Walk this Thursday; I won't be there cuz I'm teaching, but don't let that stop you from coming by! (Actually, I'll prolly be back for the tail end.)

Friday, August 03, 2007

There's been a change in the weather

…and a change in me? Not really.

It was surprising to get up today to cool air and the sound of rain coming down; not unpleasant, but surprising.

It has been a busy week – another all-dayer of work on Wednesday, and then a full Jon & K sandwich stuffed between two slices of class yesterday. We walked down to Bombay Grill for lunch, and then turned that into a big loop through Wallingford and up to Green Lake before returning to the RD. We’ll be off to breakfast at Silence Heart Nest in a little bit, capping this whirlwind visit by our friends from the valley, and I think I’ll be able to catch my breath after that.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Packed to the gunwhales

(And I think that's pronounced "gunnels.")

Since I decided to give myself a vacation day to recover from our brief "vacation" to Connecticut and did not do a whole lot of work on Monday, I had to pull an all-dayer in order to stay on schedule. I managed to stay focused and get done all I needed to; unfortunately, I need to do it again today.

This teaching-in-the summer business can be fun, but this year, not so much. I like the students fine, and they’re working about as hard as can be expected, but I wasn’t completely satisfied with my syllabus for the class, and it’s showing, and the split-shift schedule is a little annoying. The weather has been a particular distraction as well; it certainly has been fine, and it’s been hard to gear up for evening classes and not just relax my way into the evening. Well, only two and a half weeks left at North (although Antioch will go on much longer).

Anyhoo, blah blah blah work. The fun stuff is more important: this Sunday is supposed to be the Urban Hike. The leading idea right now is to meet on Cap Hill and have a nice walk down to Lake Washington – Madison park and then south, maybe to Leschi? I am thinking that a ten-mile round-trip would be appropriate; I initially wanted to walk to Alki, but that would be about twenty miles, unless we meet in SoDo. Any suggestions or objections before I send out the official invitation?