Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer linkorama

Okay, so yesterday we didn't set any records, but it was hotter than the day before. We luxuriated in the heat (slowly).

We took a drive out to the Lake Washington beaches, but both Magnuson and Matthews were so jam-packed that actually going into the parks, unless you were planning a day-long expeditions, wasn't even worth it. Now, if only I had a scooter, we could have found plenty of places to park...

We did visit Selkie in the animal hospital - he was in high, head-butting spirits, crunching his food and purring, even with one of the stupid cones around his neck, an IV rig on his leg, and a tube (taped to his tail!) leading from his butt to a Foley bag. The vets said he was progressing very well and should be released late today to come home tonight.

A showing of WALL-E at the Oak Tree provided an opportunity to beat the hottest heat. It was absolutely splendid.

The cool, cool, cool 0f the evening was filled with writing of various sorts - including some stuff mentioned below!

(You can let this play while you read the rest of the entry.)

Critical mass has been achieved in blogation:

The comix blog has a new entry.

The First-fortnight of Freedom entry is up on the 92 Days.

There's another Summer Humpday coming, and that means another dinner!

While you're over on the sidebar, check out the blogroll and web links - I have updated them again.

I usually stay away from politics on this blog, but this Rolling Stone article on John McCain cuts to the heart of many of my problems with this so-called maverick senator.

This is so totally cool that I hope it's not a hoax. The site where I found it (via Neatorama) looks pretty authentic, anyway. This could lead to a while new Hitchcock series for Mattel: The Lisa Fremont Breaking and Entering Barbie; The Jo McKenna Passing Out after Being Sedated Barbie; and The Marion Crane Brassiere and Suitcase of Money Barbie. Hmmm. Maybe LNTAM could do this better.

After reading this Wired article, I have been thinking about getting one of these, but I haven't yet, so maybe I'm not really concerned, or maybe I'm just lazy.

Have a great Monday, everybody!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Highs and lows

So, according to the internet box, yesterday we tied the record of 91 degrees for the high temperature on June 28, and it looks like we are within striking distance of the record for today as well. Yay! Summer is well and truly here, at least for a while. I am sure old pal Jon of Monmouth is just broiling, since they usually seem to be just a tad (ten degrees or so) hotter than us. Sum-sum-summertime!

In honor of the passing of Ruby Scooter, here is a little portfolio of

Walaka's Motorbikes through the Ages

Circa 1990: Honda C-70, technically a motorbike but it looked like a moped. I scooted a lot from Queen Anne to the downtown library. I once went downstairs, chipped ice off the speedometer, took off, wiped out, realized that if there was ice on the bike there was probably ice on the road, and decided to take the bus. Got it up to almost 50 mph on a long, empty, straight stretch on Vashon Island. Now owned by J-Force and recently restored to its former glory!

Circa 1993: Honda CX-500, a nice, but heavy, shaft-drive bike. Commuted to Green Lake regularly, then moved to Portland/Vancouver and rode it down there while teaching EFL, during my cowboy boots and Hawaiian short period. Made an aborted attempt to attach a Velorex sidecar in 1995.

Ruby: a Honda CH-150 Elite, picked up in Vancouver in 1999 for a song. Used to put "Campus Security" markings on it and drive it while working the Fourth of July festivities. Parked it while in grad school, then brought it up to Seattle in FarmerScott's truck (along with a bunch of other junk), where it has been adjunct transportation and summer fun. Until two days ago.

Walaka's Motorbike Days
1990 - 2008

Kitty blues

Yesterday, Selkie had a bit of relapse: the ameliorative effect of the treatment on Thursday seemed to have reached its limit, and he was once again in distress. We took him down to the animal hospital, where it was determined that his prescribed dosage was incorrect: it is not fistfuls of cash, but rather buckets, that will make him all better. So, he is in kitty ICU for the weekend, with tubes and stuff in him, undergoing a fairly aggressive protocol to nip this thing in the bud. It seemed like a really cool place and the people were great, so it's about as good a thing as it can be under the circumstances. Let's just hope this settles it for good.

We passed the evening at a wonderfully splendid and spectacularly fantastic barbecue/garden party at the home of O and K-K (the "new roommate," at least from a certain perspective) just down the street from us. There was a veritable boatload of great and amusing folks all around, whom I won't even begin to try enumerating, and the food was, of course, incredible. The combination of weather, people, and comestibles was just about perfect. A special shout-out for NatDog and TomCat, who were so graciously included in the celebration by O and who so gracefully made themselves part of the festivities. (No pics cuz we didn't bring a camera.)

The First Fortnight actually includes today, so news on the tomorrow.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Flashback blog collage

While Otis has a morning appointment, I have walked down to the U-district to hang out and do a little shopping at the Farmer's Market. I stopped in here at the Cafe Wannabee and as I did so, I was immediately transported back to my trips to Europe. Maybe it was just the influence of the old photo that Dingo showed me yesterday, but something about the relatively early hour, the heat, the quality of the light, and the aroma of the coffee shop gave me a sense similar to deja vu, just not that I had been exactly here before, but rather that I had been in a place like this at a time like this many times.

Yesterday was quite a rigorous day, a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for more than one person in my ken. Whenever we find ourselves experiencing the times that try men's souls, it's good to remember to reach out to one another for support of any kind. That's the real stuff behind moovie nights and D&D and frisbee in the park. I'm glad it's part of my life. Peace and strength to everyone.

Speaking of RPGs, the GURPS session last night had drama both inside and out. Despite a number of false starts and interruptions, the party really started to pull together and the mood and tenor of the piece is starting to reveal itself. It's pretty cool.

This is what combat would be like if our GURPS game was set in feudal Japan instead of in Renaissance North America:

Cartoon courtesy of the extremely talented Kate Beacon.

Selkie seems to be maintaining and progressing after his treatment and on his diet. I sedated him again yesterday, and when he's stoned, he's pretty cool, but he seems to freak Mountie out. That scaredy-cat looks at Selkie real wary-like, and growls a little, and then takes off for the outside. I wonder if under the influence of the drugs Selkie's true warrior nature is even more apparent, no longer hidden by his deliberate behaviors. Sort of like when Lord Greystoke lost control, the Tarzan underneath came out. It's a fun theory, anyway.

Is this brilliant or what? I have no knowledge of this group, Cibo Matto, but this video is just extraordinary:

Speaking of brilliant, check out this great clock! I just downloaded it as my screen saver. And it tells me I should be getting over to the market!

I'll do a First-Fortnight of Freedom post tomorrow.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Not the day I had planned...

Thread #1: So, yesterday began not just with clouds but with our observation that tough-guy Selkie appeared to be in some distress with regards to his internal plumbing. Without having recourse to a level three diagnostic, we opted to take him into the veterinary clinic in the morning for observation and treatment. It turns out that he has a common but mysterious cat disorder, known as FUT or FLUTD, which involves the build-up of struvite or oxalate crystals in the urinary tract (I'm not making that up). It can be fatal, but is usually managed by throwing fistfuls of money at the veterinarian and switching to food that is apparently made of platinum. In any case, he seems to be doing fine, and is on some sedatives that make him rather dopey and even more amusing than usual.

Thread #2: I got a call in the morning from Dan the Scooter Man with bad news about Ruby. Like Janis Joplin, someone took a little piece of her heart: a part deep inside her engine, one that helps create the spark, broke. The part is no longer manufactured, and the process to replace it, even if one were found, is more trouble than the bike is worth. Dan suggested that Bent Bike might take the scooter off my hands; I called them, and lo and behold, they offered me just enough to pay what I owed Dan for picking it up and taking a look at it! He offered to deliver for me, so I drove up to Kenmore and dropped off the title with him. I even submitted the report of sale and told my agent to cancel the insurance. So now, like Janis, Ruby is no longer with us; unlike Janis, she will be parted out and live on in a series of undoubtedly crapped-out, bestickered motor scooters putt-putting around the Puget Sound area.

Thread#3: Early in the morning, we got a call from old pal JayCee, who will be the featured guest artist at Otis's next show in August. She was in the neighborhood and wanted to have a cuppa and talk about the show and stuff. Well, I was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, of course, but Otis went from snoozing to shmoozing in just a few minutes, leaving her a bit shell-shocked, especially since she made the ride to the vet right afterwards. It took a little while for her system to recover, but ti was a conversation worth having and it was good to see JayCee again.

Thread #4: As I was en route to see Dan in Kenmore, I got a call from NatDog, who was just leaving campus after her summer class. The timing was right for us to meet at 3PB/LFP for lunch, so we did. We had a long, leisurely meal, reveling in the unbearable lightness of summer (even for those teaching one summer session course). After NatDog moved on, I tried to sell some books to 3PB, but they didn't want any of them; I did get a ten-percent-off coupon, so the paperback I had found to buy was nineteen cents cheaper.

Thread #5: We spent the evening watching Selkie stumble around and had time to watch The Shadow, Alec Baldwin's 1994 superhero turn. It wasn't a bad adaptation, although much more mystical than its source material ever was; the cast included Johnathan Winters in a straight role, Tim Curry overdoing it, and Peter Boyle wasted as Shrevvy. Nice period sets, though.

The sun was shining this morning, and we are looking forward to a less eventful day!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summertime blues(kies)

Well, after a number of fine days in a row, the skies have not been all that promising this morning. But the radio-man says that this cloud cover will burn off and we'll be back to seventy-two-and-sunny by this afternoon, so I'm keeping the faith. I'll just plan for a bike ride during Otis's afternoon appointment.

I did bike over to Ballard yesterday to deal with the scooter, and later got a confirmation call from Dan, so that process is underway. It make take some time, since Dan is a one-man operation, but he has a tendency to under-promise and over-deliver, so we'll see.

Another benefit of the ride was the chance to have a long conversation with Jon of Monmouth, via the miracle of wireless telephony. It seemed fitting that we chatted while I stood at the official start of the Burke-Gilman trail, i.e., the Fred Meyer parking lot.

Otis and I spent the sunny afternoon in our local park, lying in the grass, sipping tea, and reading. A little RC helicopter was buzzing about the scene like an oversized dragonfly, only adding to the lazy feeling.

And last night, the first Summer Humpday Dinner kicked the program off to a great start!

We'll put this one in the win column, then.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Now ain't that a stick in yer spokes

Yesterday was marked by two surprises.

After brekkies, a walk around the lake, blogging, and such typicalities, Yojimbo stopped by to pass an afternoon between in-city engagements. It was good to see him again, especially since his Friday visits have been curtailed by the advent of the RPG era. He brought us up to date regarding Life on the Rock, and left with promises of more visits over the summer.

Yojimbo was there to see Ruby the Scooter roar into life as Otis and I set off on a Ballard adventure; what he was not there to see was Ruby sputtering and conking out at a stoplight on Market. Le sigh. The scoot is legally parked over there now, awaiting pickup from the Amazing Dan the Scooter Man, who will, no doubt, set her all to rights.

We did not let the conk-out deter us from adventuring, however. We walked our way into Ballard town, had pho, visited the locks, and came back in time to catch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls at the Majestic Bay theater. (We both felt that you couldn't say much against the film, but that you couldn't say much for it, either.) We checked on Ruby and then bussed it back to the RD.

So, life goes on. My bike ride to Bothell today becomes a bike ride to Ballard instead, and I may be scooterless for a little while, but the weather is still great and I'm still on vacation. Yee-ha!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blogger in the sun

That's the view of Cowan Park from my curbside seat at the Cowan Park Grocery and Cafe, where I have ensconced myself while Otis toils in her massage room. Although to be completely honest, I'm mostly in the shade of an umbrella.

Yesterday was a splendid day. I took a little bike ride to pick up some hardware; it was sort, but it took almost exactly to the third-highest point in Seattle, just up the road a piece (and it is indeed up). It was a great workout getting there.

I used the hardware to finish fixing up Ruby the Scooter, which required me to first stop by O's in the afternoon to borrow Johnbai's drill. It was a nice surprise to find Dingo there gardening! With drill and hardware in hand, it was short work to re-install the grille.

Otis and I were going to make our inaugural ride after that, but I couldn't get the engine to turn over before the battery wore out. This is not uncommon after a long, dormant winter, but it was still a bit of a disappointment. I have charged the battery and we'll try it again today.

Johnbai himself showed up at our place in the evening to share some cupcakes, but I forgot to give him his drill back.

I also tried a zen experiment yesterday. One of the principal notions behind a zen approach is experiencing mindfulness by attending to only one thing at a time: if you are eating, just eat; if you are chopping wood, just chop wood; and so on. So, when I sat down to my top ramen for lunch, I didn't open a book or my laptop. I just sat and ate, and tried to be very conscious of the act of eating and of the food itself.

I found that the greatest barrier to attaining focus was a tendency to narrate the proceedings in my head. Instead of just experiencing an act, I am almost simultaneously analyzing it, editing it, and preparing it for communication to others. In other words, I was writing this blog entry at the same time I was eating the meal! It was most annoying, but I couldn't seem to stop, except for one moment, close to the start of the meal, when I heard the sound of the broth dripping from a pea pod and just experienced it without internal comment. of course, the more I tired to move toward that focus, the further away it slipped; I finally let my mind go and wound up writing a GURPS script in my head and missing part of the meal.

I would appear that I have some way to go on this journey.

This is for Soapy, so he can see all the stuff he's missing by not drinking.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Izzit Monday?

I guess so, only because there's a really noisy garbage truck in the alley. But it didn't wake me up. Mountie, the usually mellow-in-the-morning cat, did that hours ago, unleashing the full force of his Incredibly Annoying Meow® while walking all over me. (Selkie, the usually annoying-in-the-morning cat, flung himself off the balcony let himself out today.)

Yesterday was another pretty good day, weather-wise and otherwise. Here's the highlight reel:

I rode my bike down to the Fremont Fair, but I forgot the bike lock, so I could only walk through, getting in people's way, and didn't stay for very long. I did stop at the Sound Transit booth to find out that the light rail line between the RD and Cap Hill won't be operational until about 2012. Dang!

I had a nice long iChat with Wheylona as she sat in the midnight dark and I lounged in the afternoon sun. There appears to be a lot of cool stuff on her horizon this summer, too!

I did the laundry and cleaned every single stitch of clothing I owned, save for the shorts and t-shirt I was wearing. Then I did a T-shirt inventory, since my stock has exploded over the last 18 months (thanks in no small part to Johnbai's Librapalooza obsession). I culled out some really old one that now were almost as much hole as shirt, since I have so many cool new ones to replace them.

Big Announcement!

Otis and I are going to start a weekly go-out-to-dinner thing. We figured that since we go out to dinner so much already because we are lazy we never have food in the house it just seems to work out that way, we might as well make it a social event, especially trying to include those folks we don't see regularly. We'll be sending out a regular email invitation, but, of course, the concept has its own blog.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Just a cuppa joe... help me get started, y'see, cuz one kitty wanted out at about 3:30 or 4:00 am, and the other kitty wanted out at about 5:00 or 5:30 am, so that when I actually got up at 7:30 am, I hadn't had seven-and-a-half hours of sleep, I'd had, like, four, and then one-and-a-half, and then two. Kinda like sleeping on a train. That's how it goes sometimes.

Right now, the kitties are both back in bed sleeping, and I'm having a cup of coffee.

Yesterday turned into one of those on-the-edge, muggy days that doesn't know whether it is warm or cool or sunny or cloudy or nice or not-so-nice. Otis and I went up to LFP and had lunch with Mater and Pater, but other than that stuck pretty close to home, forsaking the crowds of the Solstice Parade for the first time in several years. I took the opportunity to add another notch to the bookcase: I read Thud! by Terry Pratchett, the latest (I think) in his discworld novels. (That's two down, now.)

We also watched Children of Heaven, a sweet Iranian movie from 1997 about two poor siblings sharing one pair of shoes and their attempts to fix the situation. As one review I read mentioned, the film has all the elements of a Disney movie, but is presented with unblinking realism in place of the usual sentimentality.

Speaking of movies, I have always found Ferris Bueller's Day Off to be a bit problematic. While others have celebrated its anarchic celebration of individuality, freedom, and the sense of adventure, I have always seen it as the deconstruction of a vain, manipulative, and self-serving little bastard, mostly because I never got the sense the Ferris cared about any of his "friends" as anything other than an audience. I felt that Cameron was particularly ill-used.

Innyway, I came across this YouTube mashup that I think captures the true psychological subtext of the movie, if not my exact analysis. It's the best trailer re-edit I have seen since Shining a few years ago.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summertime geeks

So, it was a pretty spectacular day yesterday, eh? We had the house wide open as we gave it a good spring cleaning (finally!) and I sure worked up a sweat, but we still had a chance to take a walk down to the lake and enjoy the weather.

The evening time brought Soapy, Dingo, Johnbai, Neds and Mr. X over for an RPG night. We launched a new campaign (alt-history colonial North America) using a new game system (GURPS instead of D&D). Things went pretty well, considering we were all new to the system and some new to RPG altogether. In any case, much laughter was laughed, too much food and drink was consumed, and we may even have generated a new catch phrase or two.

Dingo, Walaka, and Neds playing roles gamely

After a late night to bed, Otis and I were awakened pretty early by some guy practicing his kung-fu in the alley, so we made a good start on the day. We have already taken a power-walk around the walk, and we'll see what else this first full day of summer holds. I guess the "solstice moment" here was actually yesterday at 4:59 pm, so the days are getting shorter now, baby - make the most of them!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Neither fish nor fowl

So, this is supposed to be the daily diary blog, but I missed last night; now, what does than make this post? (Yeah, I know: late.) Also, I'm on vacation, but this morning I was assessing portfolios, so that's not right, either!


Innyway, yesterday turned out to be pretty busy and social! Otis had an early massage client and then an appointment of her own. For my part, I went shopping with NatDog, after which we both met Otis for lunch at Nana's. Dee-lightful.

We tried to get out in the sun in the afternoon, and spent some time outfitting the kitties with new flea collars, since it looks like we might actually have a summer after all.

After Otis's evening appointment, we headed up to JagGirl's place for a truly sumptuous dinner. It had been a while since we'd seen Jag, and she pulled out all the stops, feting us with lasagne and garlic bread and fresh strawberries and all sort of other delicacies. Yum-oh! We had a chance to relax together and catch up and to visit with Spencer, the foster-dog, too!

The work I did this morning means that Spring Quarter 2008 is 100% done: my independent study students from Antioch submitted their final portfolios for the comics course, and I have submitted the assessments. (The work was quite good, actually.) With that, my association with Antioch has come to an end, and I will be a singly-employed person for the first time in four years. Yay, me!

So, here's looking at enjoying this timely summer weather, although there's a mess of chores to get done before the RPG gang shows up tonight.

And to close, here is some incontrovertible scientific evidence that I do know what the heck I'm doing when I snooze.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pilgrim's progress


So, good times today!

I finished The Ten-Cent Plague this morning; one down, thirty-eight to go!

Otis and I walked down to the Metro to see The Incredible Hulk. Otis loved it more than she liked Iron Man, and possibly even more than I liked it. (I think she's crushing on Ed Norton.) I have to say that it was a well-made, well-paced, well-acted, and well-written movie. I couldn't ask for anything more; even the CGI was pretty good this time around.

I stopped in at Zanadu and picked up Jessica Abel & Matt Madden's new book, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. It is a self-contained 15-week course on creating comics, with lessons, exercises, and homework. I think the a in scrubjaw just had an identity change: I am going to try to finish the course, or most of it, over the summer. I'll post my homework as I complete it!

And on top of all that goodness, we actually got to take a walk in some honest-to-goodness sunshine today! Who knew?!

And now I am going to try to look at the imaginary giant moon.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Okay, enough with the numbers already


So, I'll knock off the countdown/countup/whatever and get back to regular blogging. I will be posting artifacts from the summer projects here, if you care to take a look.

Today I slept in until 7:30! Ya-hoo! Otis and I tried to have a vacationy day, even though it was rainy and cloudy; I'd say we were mildly successful, moreso if you think shopping at Trader Joe's is a leisure activity. I spent the evening up at Johnbai's, putting the last touches on the house version of the GURPS game mechanics; it was a very productive session.

This is mostly for Soapy, but I can think of some other folks who might get a kick out of it.

This one's mostly for Wheylona. It's a bit too long, but it still brings the funny.

This photoset is mostly for Dingo, but I think it's cool, too.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The 92 Days of Summer: Day 2

e-scrubjaw = e-xx(r)xbxxx

Okay, so today I was not much of a Jay Gatsby, but instead, Otis and I had a chance to participate in a fiasco. Well, maybe not a fiasco, but a misadventure for sure.

After making arrangements for the boys (thanks NatDog and O), Otis and I headed out fairly early this morning for what was supposed to be three days and two nights out on the Long Beach peninsula, enjoying a beach house and a couple days of taking in the ocean air to kick off the summer.

We had heard that it was supposed to be a beautiful day in Seattle, and, sure enough, it was clear and sunny as we headed into the end-of-morning-rush I-5 traffic. The great weather lasted all the way until Olympia, and then when we cut west to head out through Pacific County, the skies covered up and it became as overcast as it gets.


We continued on through Raymond and South Bend, with no blue sky in sight, getting to Long Beach a few hours earlier than our "check-in" time, in time for lunch. We drove up and down the strip looking for a place that was (a) open and (b) looked like it had decent food. We picked Chico's Pizza, only to find out too late that it only met (a). Canned mushrooms on the veggie pizza and iceberg lettuce as the only salad bar greens should sum the place up; just add a lot of signs telling you what you can't do (get refills, go through the salad bar twice, &c.).

Le sigh.

To settle our stomachs, we went and got some tea at the local coffee shop, the only place around with wifi. It actually was pretty decent, except for the guy who picked up the house guitar and started practicing his riffs.

Me, as usual

Otie, doin' something mystical with her brew

So, we headed down to the house, and it was... a house. Just a house. Not cute, or cozy, or rustic, or beachy, or comfy, just a three-bedroom house that might be fun to fill with friends for a sleepover but which was just a cold empty place to us. A fine house, but just nothing that said "relaxing getaway" to us.

Yeah, this is... great.

So, we had also been told that the house was five minutes from the beach. It is - if you drive. If you walk through the neighborhood, it was closer to twenty minutes. I think our townhouse is actually closer to Green Lake than this place was to the Pacific Ocean. But, we made the trek and took a nice, long beach walk in the bright afternoon gloom.

The beach access road

One of the few shadows we saw all day

The desolate and majestic beach

I point out the desolation and majesty, in case you missed it

Otis honors the ocean with "limping crane" pose (or something)

Actually, the ocean is always cool, even if the weather is crappy


Still not a lobster.

When the wind chill got too much for us, we returned to the house for a little sit-down and relaxing. Even with the heater on, it was a little chilly in the house, but Otis snuggled under a blanket and fell asleep. I read, and then joined her.

The day was rapidly losing its charm. We decided to give Long Beach one last chance to amuse us, by going to the local Thai restaurant because even though it described itself as both Thai-tastic! and Thai-licious! in its ad.

We should have known better. Bland curry, sweet-ketchup pad thai, and a table next to a crowded fish tank with one goldfish who had literally gone belly-up.

That did it. We decided to cut our loses, abort the mission, and just come home. As a diversion, I decided to cut across to Longview and come up the freeway from there, rather than driving through the soggy bog country again. Just a short 14 miles down 101, this is what we saw:

You see that bright spot on the other side of the Columbia River? Do you know what that is? That is Astoria in the sunshine. In the 30 years that I have lived in the Pacific Northwest, do you know how many times I have seen Astoria sunny? NEVER, that's how many. It was beautiful. All of Clatsop County was beautiful; we had returned to the sun.

Looking back at Pacific County from Oregon

Entering Rainier

The drive up was wonderful, sunny and warm and pleasant. I called the catsitters, both of whom confirmed that we had missed a gorgeous day on Seattle. So, six or seven hours of driving, fifty bucks for gas, a couple of bad meals, just to leave great weather for crappy weather - actually, I've had much worse days.

Okay, so now my vacation can really begin!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

The 92 days of Summer: Day 1: e-scrubjaw

(two posts today cuz I'm trying to do the diary posts at night on the day under discussion)

Well, I haven't exactly roared out of the gate on this summer plan, but I'm moving along. Wheylona has pointed out the almost-a-real-word acronym of e-scrubjaw for my daily do-list, so I am going to use that an report each day in shorthand: the word will get the appropriate letter for anything I did, and an x for anything I didn't do. Today's word is e-xxxxbxxw.

Hmmm. Lots of eckses in that. Well, it is the first day, and it was also Father's Day, so we spent a lot of time in LFP. And I had to pick up Mater at the airport. And the sun was in my eyes, the grass was wet, and I have a new glove.

No matter. Excelsior!

The 92 days of Summer: Day 0

Okay, so that's a bit confusing. Today, Sunday, June 15, is actually Day 1; since I had to attend commencement yesterday, that wasn't part of summer vacation. But I haven't done much of anything yet today, so this post is actually about yesterday. Whatever.

Commencement was pretty good. The speakers were short and generally engaging, the students were in a great and festive mood, the hall wasn't uncomfortable, and everyone had a decent time. Afterwards, a gang of faculty adjourned to the Canyons in Mountlake Terrace (woo-hoo!) where I had a swell time and a really lousy veggie burger. Otis picked me up there and we spent the late afternoon and evening in LFP with Pater.

So, that's it for school! Today the sun shone brightly on the first of 92 consecutive days of summer vacation. As I mentioned earlier that I would, I have spreadsheeted the future, and it is spelled: ERSCBUJWA! That's not one of Zatanna's magic words' it stands for:

Exercise every day.
Run, for aerobics, or
Skip rope (or both, I guess).
Cycle somewhere.
Book, as in read one.
Ukulele, as in practice it.
Juggle (either ball or clubs or both),
Write (something besides a diary-post on the blog), and
Art - as in draw something, dammit!

(I wish I could have gotten all that to spell something clever, but no such luck.)

Beside those daily goals, I have some landmarks: biking 1000 miles again (I feel really good the summers I bike a lot), read 39 books (that's three a week), see 10 movies, and see 10 live performances.

There are also some project-type goals. A partial list:

1. Fix Ruby the Scooter up.
2. Clean out the shed.
3. Clean out my closet.
4. Clean out my file cabinet.
5. Take a bunch of stuff to Value Village (see 2 & 3 above).
6. Do a shredding/bonfire purge (see 3 & 4 above).
7. Audit Otis's books and set up some (say it with me) spreadsheets for her.
8. Contact University of Stirling Centre for Textual Culture about a Ph.D. program.
9. Run a successful GURPS campaign

So, we'll see how this goes. Putting this stuff out publicly makes it feel real, but I am well aware these are merely goals and that it is the journey that matters more than the destination. It is in that spirit that I embark up my first summer vacation in thirteen years. Here's hoping that this morning's weather is a sign that we will have a summer for it this year!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's all over but the commencing

So, yesterday morning I caught a ride into campus with NatDog, settled in at the office, made my way though the last stack of portfolios, and uploaded all my grades for spring quarter: I am done for a ducat! Today, after I attend the graduation ceremony in the beautiful Lynnwood Convention Center, my contractual obligations all will have been discharged, and I will be on Summer Vacation.

(Of course, nothing is ever so simple as all that, is it? I have two surviving independent study students at Antioch, both of whom have told me that their portfolios will be late - quelle surprise! - so I will have a wee bit of assessing to do when Otis and I get back from the beach.)

I bussed it back from Bothell in time to see Otis before we went our separate ways for the evening. She had an appointment, and then a dinner date and a woo-woo-workshop. For my part, I wandered around and

Hung with Neds at Vivace,
Hit the comic shop,
Had a beer and a giant baked potato at Murphy's,
Cruised the Half-Price Books,
Did a little grocery shopping,
And, even though he was late - encore, quelle surprise! - hung out with Johnbai after his dinner.

Not a bad start to the weekend of the last work week. Let the summer games begin!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Two down, one to go

I had my absolutely last class of the quarter this morning and already I've got about 2/3 of my grading finished! Yay me!

It actually got sunny and warm for a little bit this afternoon! Yay us!

Otis and I watched Barb Wire tonight. I can't be the first person to realize that it's Casablanca with silicone boobs and automatic weapons, can I?

L to R: Ex-lover, anti-hero, ex-lover's new spouse who is Important to the Cause

L to R: Ex-lover's new spouse who is Important to the Cause, ex-lover, anti-hero

It's uncanny!

No, really, it is. It has a dieselpunk setting with T&A (including a way-too-long softcore-porn opening sequence), Triumph motorcycles, and lots of guns, but it also has analogues for Rick, Ilsa, and Victor Laszlo (all gender-bent), as well as Sam, Louis, Strasser, Ferrari, and Ugarte, and most of the plot points and set pieces of Casablanca, including the final scene at the airport. There's even a variation of the final line: "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" becomes "I think I'm in love."

What it doesn't have is any good acting, any real excitement, or any reason at all to watch it. It truly does suck, and I wouldn't have even mentioned it were it not for this blatant hommage rip-off.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Nothing to report

So here's an animated gif of a Buddha for some serenity:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Never too busy for this

We're coming to you live from Caffe Vita. We just had a great dinner at Pho Cyclo with Dingo, Johnbai, and O, and then Dingo took us on the Tour of Attractive Homes of Capitol Hill as we wended our way to a quick visit at the Value Village. We're going to hang out here for a bit and then make our way through the increasingly cold and windy June-uary evening back to Renty Red, parked back on t'other side of the hill.

Today was another last-week-on-campus day: grading until class and then student presentations. A nice way to slide into the summer vacation - and I am on track to be done with everything by the end of commencement (at noon on Saturday), so that's when it'll start.

I have mentioned, I think, that this is going to be The Summer of Walaka: it will be the first time since I became a part of the higher education establishment in 1997 that I will be taking a summer off.

Some folks (cough *jon* cough) think that I should embrace indolence; doing nothing should be my goal. But I have other plans.

Over the past four years of teaching, I have taught as much as a full-time instructor usually teaches in six years. In trying to balance all this overtime, what has fallen out of the equation has not been sleep (I can always fit that in) or socializing (my friends are too important to me) or even relaxing (that is almost hexis at this point), but rather self-improvement.

I almost never read for pleasure anymore.

I bought a ukulele two years ago and haven't learned a song yet.

My juggling balls are gathering dust.

My daily RCAF exercises have plateaued at the standard for my age.

Last year was a crappy biking season.

My skipping rope is still stiff.

I need to do some creative writing.

And so on.

So, this will be a Jay Gatsby summer of reinvention.* I plan to have full, full days that lead me to exhausted and satisfied nights sleeping the sleeping of the just.

Yeah, it's ambitious, and still a little amorphous at this point, but don't you worry, I'll have a spreadsheet by the end of the week and then we'll be on track, you betcha. I've got some tentative goals - 33 books read, 1000 miles biked, and so forth - and some major projects - an audit of Otis's business accounts, for example. Since I'll have forty suddenly-empty hours a week, I feel I can take on a big chunk of activities and still have as much playtime as I have now, except all my daily efforts will be on my own behalf, not my students'.

One of the things that I thought I would take out of the mix was this blog; I need to do some other kinds of writing, and I wondered if this blog might not be bleeding off some of that creative steam. After consideration, I decided that my Pepys Gene is way too dominant and that I must continue to feed the diarist in me, so I think this site will continue. It may, however, become a membership site (like Jon's), so be on the lookout for that, if you care.

In the meanwhile:

If you have a book suggestion, let me have it.
If you want to go on a bike ride, let me know.
And like that.

And wish me luck (and no broken toes!)

PS: I am going to see some movies for sure, too, if not on opening night. At least:

July 4: Hancock
July 11: Hellboy
July 18: Dark Night

*He opened it at the back cover and turned it around for me to see. On the last fly-leaf was printed the word SCHEDULE, and the date September 12, 1906. and underneath:

Rise from bed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.00 A.M.
Dumbbell exercise and wall-scaling . . . . . . 6.15-6.30
Study electricity, etc . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.15-8.15
Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.30-4.30 P.M.
Baseball and sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.30-5.00
Practice elocution, poise and how to attain it 5.00-6.00
Study needed inventions . . . . . . . . . . . 7.00-9.00 ”

No wasting time at Shafters or [a name, indecipherable]
No more smokeing or chewing
Bath every other day
Read one improving book or magazine per week
Save $5.00 {crossed out} $3.00 per week
Be better to parents

“I come across this book by accident,” said the old man. “It just shows you, don’t it?”

“It just shows you.”

“Jimmy was bound to get ahead. He always had some resolves like this or something. Do you notice what he’s got about improving his mind? He was always great for that. He told me I et like a hog once, and I beat him for it.”

He was reluctant to close the book, reading each item aloud and then looking eagerly at me. I think he rather expected me to copy down the list for my own use.

From The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hatten down the batches!

Man, the wind is blowing! When Otis was up at LFP, it blew the big patio umbrellas onto the lawn - and when we got home tonight, it had repeated the trick, knocking down ours! The rose bush outside the window is whipping back and forth and it feels like we're in for a storm. I guess we may as well have one - Steve Poole has as much as said that this is the crappiest spring since 1917, so bring it on!

I got lots of work done on campus today - and a student let me have a look at the new player's handbook for D&D 4.0. Pretty cool. Oh, and I got to see Yito! And Stella! I guess that all counts as a good day, eh?

Last night, Otis and I watched Fahrenheit 451, with Oskar Werner and Julie Christie. IMDB says this was Truffaut's first color film and first English-language film - I just know it's a darn good film. Otis liked it, too, although she fell asleep before the end and had to rewatch part today. And we both thought Soapy would love the dragon-themed fire-trucks.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The last Sunday evening

I just realized that this is the last time that a working Monday morning will follow Sunday night for me until the middle of September. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

So, we didn't go out after Otis got home last night. What a couple of party poopers. We did head out to the Varsity this morning for breakfast, and afterward we planned to take the scooter out to put up flyers for Otis's new workshops, but the battery was dead, so we took a walk instead. We took another walk in the afternoon, when the SUN CAME OUT for a while, and in between walks, we took naps. Isn't that what a Sunday is for?

Oh yeah, and I didn't get any work done, so I'm going in early with NatDog tomorrow. Might as well close out the final Monday in style, eh?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Another swingin' Saturday night

So, tonight Otis went up to LFP to hang out with her folks; I was feeling a little geeky-creative, so I stayed home to work on some stuff. I did some crafty things (like with gluesticks, not slyness), read a little, wrote a little, and updated my comics blog. Now I am sitting here in the dark with Amanda Wilde playing music for me. Yeah, life's pretty good.

Last night, Otis and I hit The Garage for Soapy's birthday celebration. We took first shift, participating in the Food Fest (complete with red velvet cake, courtesy of O) but leaving before the Poolapalooza and the Bowlarama. Soapy should be in the Mall of America now, on his birthday trip, but I'll let him report further on that.

Speaking of birthdays, when we all started these internet web logs of ours, we used to make a bit of a fuss of people's birthdays. We seem to have slipped away from that practice, so I'll attempt to revive it a little here:

Happy Birthday, Soapy!

Happy Birthday, Erico!

After the party, Otis and I stopped by the Orange Splot Gallery in Fremont to briefly join Neds at Mr. X's show and artist reception. It was cool beans, even though we only stayed for a minute.

When we got home, we took a little time to clean up the garbage strewn all along our alley by some People who Don't Know How to Get Along with Others Very Well. Better to light one candle and all that - I felt much better when I was doing the dishes early this morning and didn't have to look at the mess.

Today was a pretty mellow day: I got my bike back, hung out with Johnbai twice (once because he had to flee O's and once because I had to flee our place), cleaned up, and like that.

Otis just came home, so maybe we'll do something adventurous, like go out after ten!

DM of the Rings is a little webcomic that's pretty funny, at least if you like/hate/know either D&D or LotR or both. This link goes to a particularly amusing episode; if you like it, go back to the first and read through. Neds in particular should get a larf.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ridge runner

Yo-yo-yo! After another rainy day on campus (not so long - just prepping and meeting) I'm up here in Greenwood hanging out while Otis is at a writing group. A little laptopping is in order before I TCB up here on the ridge in the time before we head down to Soapy's bowlarama tonight.

We got Renty Red back from the body shop today, so the rearmost 14% of the car looks brand new! (The rest still looks pretty much the same.) I should pick up the bike tomorrow.

I had dinner with Dingo last night - it was a lovely evening spent just catching up and hanging out. She pulled out some old photos she had found in her archives - pictures from Back in the Day. Here they are:

Cowabunga, dude!

This one I know for sure is from 1989 - it was taken during the three-day SPL centennial celebration.
Mousse in the housse

This one must be from about 1992 or 1993 - that's Bungee the Budgie nibbling at my ear.


This is from a trip to Europe in 1995 - on the Rhine.

And just to close the circle, here's right now:

Man, Father Time is a right bastard, ain't he?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

In it but not of it

Man, so yesterday was a pretty long day. I did sleep in until seven or so, since it had been such a late night at D&D, but I still went into work earlyish and taught until eight at night, catching the 8:30 bus for home.

Less than twelve hours later I was back on campus at another meeting! I have to stay here until another meeting later this afternoon.

But all of this will end soon; I have taught (qua taught) my last class; the remaining sessions of the quarter next week will comprise student presentations and course evaluations. Of course, I have three stacks of portfolios to grade, but I already have two stacks in hand, and hope to get them done quickly, during this last week.

Then The Summer of Self-Improvement and Self-Indulgence can begin!

We've had loooong discussions within the gang about surviving the post-apocalypse zombie invasion (skin lotion, anyone?) and here's a suggestion from Wired magazne for a vehicle choice in that context. Fun fact: I actually owned one of these cars - it was the only new car purchase I have ever made! Can you guess what it is?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

This counts as Tuesday

So, rain. There it was when I got up. And there it was just about all day. I taught in the rain. I attended meetings in the rain. I watched the construction crew take down hundred-foot fir trees in the rain. I commuted in the rain. A few minutes ago, I poured about a quart of water out of each garbage can before I put the lids back on and put them away - it had been raining, you see. About the only time it stopped raining was that brief minute when I got off the bus downtown and waited for Otis to pick me up in the car - lucky break, that.

The downtown rendezvous was on the way to Johnbai's for our last D&D session of the campaign with Soapy and Neds. When I suggested on a lark that Johnbai run a dungeon delve in honor of Gary Gygax's death, I had no idea that it would become such an elaborate enterprise on our parts. Well, three months later, I can look back on a heckuva lot of good times because of this little endeavor, and I want to thank the whole gang for making it a good experience. And I'm not ashamed to admt that I now have my own set of dice!

Monday, June 02, 2008

El tren subterraneo

I packed myself a nice lunch for today, and then left it in the fridge, so I am coming to you from the campus Subway. Mmm-mmm, Veggie Delite!

So, I was posting yesterday morning from World Cup while Otis had a long appointment. Johnbai didn't get his sorry butt out of bed in time to join me there for some laptopping, but made it over to hang out at our place later, while O showed her place to a potential roommate.

Otis had an afternoon appointment as well, and then we went for our traditional earlybird dinner, this time at Julia's, the new Indonesian restaurant on 65th. They have a mini-rijsttafel, which I just love despite its colonialist underpinnings. This bitty version included white curry tofu, peanut-soy tofu and tempeh, and corn fritter. It was great!

Last night, we watched C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, a contemporary mock documentary from an alternate history in which the South not only won the Civil War, but turned all of the former U.S.A. into a slaveholding state. It was well-done, with realistic fake commercials and news and archival footage providing jarring juxtapositions that were sometimes all too real. It's well worth a look if you come across it.

This morning, Otis and I took Renty Red into car hospital, and Otis is now driving a black Pontiac G5 with tinted windows. I think she's out looking for Soapy right now to challenge him to a drag race.

A last thought: people often ask me if I miss New York, and whether I wish I had stayed or ever will go back. I have very little sentimental attachment to The City, probably because during my formative years, it was likely in the worst shape it was in during the twentieth century. This photoset illustrates the tone and mood that comes to my mind when I think of New York.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday in the cafe with Walaka

So, Stella's move was stellar! We had plenty of bodies and, even though I seemed to have screwed up the U-Haul deal, plenty of vehicles. We descended on the old place like locusts, cleaned it out, caravaned to the new place, unloaded it all and installed some of it, and had a delicious cookie reward, all within the space of two hours or so. Yay, us! To wit:

Miss T.
CC Rider

The rest of yesterday was spent hanging out with Soapy, napping, goofing off, working, cleaning, writing, and listening to The Swing Years. Man, I love that show. We were so time-disoriented in the afternoon that Otis and I took a walk to clear our heads and had another look at the live/work space that we can't afford.

Otis left Renty Red unlocked last night. Someone rifled the glove box and took some Canadian money that I had stashed there in case we took an impromptu trip. I have alerted the Border Patrol; I'm sure the culprits will be caught soon.

In other Ford Contour news, Red goes into car hospital tomorrow to get the damage from our fender-bender smasher repaired. I should also hear tomorrow from the bike hospital about the diagnosis of the damage to my bike, too.

Here's a video from Ira Glass to inspire all my creative-type pals out there; I think it is pretty awesome. Watch it until the 2:00 mark for the general discussion; after that, it's pretty broadcast-specific.

And here's a little musical clip that caught my eye, especially since many of us have been reveling in a bit of geekosity lately:

Oh - and Otis' s brother Robb is about to complete his MFA and has a new website to display his work as he establishes his new identity as a working artist. Check it out.