Friday, April 29, 2005

repetitive motion

there's a point in ayn rand's "atlas shrugged" when people realize they're just going through the motions, doing what they're accustomed to doing, no matter how ludicrous it is. no one believes in the charade. but no one steps up and says, "hey, this is stupid."

are you living like this? one part of your brain is screaming, "hey, homer! you're acting like a circus monkey! cut it out." another part is saying, "don't listen to him, he's crazy. go back to your very special episode of 'blossom'."

(don't worry, it's a rhetorical question.)

which brings us to george bush's latest press conference.

reporter: mr. president, what about iraq?
george: we're making great progress.
reporter: mr. president, what about increased terror attacks?
george: we're making great progress.
reporter: mr. president, what about drilling in anwr?
george: we're making great progress.
reporter: mr. president, what about your dispicable lack of character, morals or brain cells?
george: we're making great progress.

oh, sorry. there was a point to the ayn rand reference, and it was this: soon thereafter, the whole u.s. social and business structure came crashing down, because it was built out of bullshit. kind of like the current u.s.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

laughing with the enemy

david broder is a funny guy.

he thinks (get this) that democrats should trust republicans to do the right thing. [insert snorting guffaw here.]
Instead of sending a message that they do not trust their Republican colleagues' judgment -- and therefore feel justified in preventing a vote -- the Democrats would be saying to their colleagues and the country: We trust you to take your "advise and consent" duties seriously.

And they should feel such trust. The balance of power in the Senate is not in a right-wing cabal; it is in the moderate center. You can see that in the careful way the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is weighing the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. You saw it also in Senate debate on the budget resolution.
lol. good one, dave.

can anyone imagine why democrats wouldn't trust their republican colleagues? besides iraq, social security, bankruptcy, tax cuts for the rich, terri schiavo, tom delay, bill frist, "justice sunday", anwr, donald rumsfeld, and dick cheney i mean? yeah, those are some pretty impressive credentials, aren't they?

dave, it was hilarious when your boy newt gingrich and his friends were busy obstructing two clinton administrations. remember how funny that was? that was back in the days before pre-emptive wars, and an undeclared war on non-wealthy americans. that was back in the days of budget surplusses and uninterrupted prosperity. thank god those days are over, huh?

what's that you say?
The Republicans -- with Vice President Cheney in the chair -- could well muster the 51 votes needed to change Senate rules and abolish judicial filibusters. If that were to happen, Democrats have said they would use every rule and procedure available to them to bring the work of the Senate to a halt.

Building such a roadblock to consideration of such important legislation as energy, Social Security, welfare reform and the routine financing of government would bring down deserved public condemnation, and the mighty megaphone of the White House would ensure that Democrats took the brunt of the blame.
dave, you're not keeping up with current events. americans will be very unamused if republicans trash over two centuries of history to facilitate the neoclown agenda.

so i think you can forget about senate democrats bending over for theocracy-promoting, environment-wrecking, science-hating, torture-loving republicans and their pet judicial nominees.

sorry, dave, but this bit of high comedy is not the democrats' responsibility. if the senate republicans are as infused with integrity and fairness as you say, it should be no trouble at all for them to turn back before their little car bursts into flames and plunges off the cliff.

even though that would be really funny to watch.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

whither winthrop in winter?

according to local legend, winthrop, washington is a winter wonderland.

this is a seasonal designation, interestingly enough, generally occurring during the winter months.

but not this year. this year there was no snow in winthrop. no cross-country skiing. no snowmobiling. no horse-drawn sleigh rides. no winter retail. no more fun of any kind.

and so, predictably, the locals turned to cannibalism.

no, not really. but given the slowdown in the local economy, it wouldn't really surprise to read tales of the dark side in the methow valley news, would it? instead of reading about how udell and georgia sanders were grand marshall and grand lady of 49er days, we might easily imagine how georgia cooked up old udell in a vat of barbeque. mightn't we?

georgia and udell in happier times.

okay, i hyperbolize. but the fact is, without tourism, the towns of winthrop and twisp (8 miles apart, according to the road sign, but really only 5 miles separate), are sunk. bereft. desolated.

or so one would think. as it turns out, these twin towns of different fathers have more going for them than is obvious at first or even second glance. particularly if the glances are cursory or dismissive (i speak from experience in those areas).

in winthrop, the kitschy neo-faux western town, you can dine on excellent thai cuisine at the topo cafe. at least i think you can. we had take-out from the topo recently, and received the last entrees of the evening...because the chef cut herself and had to be rushed to the emergency room. prior to this unfortunate event, however, the food was excellent.

twisp counters with the II bees cafe. it's a breakfast joint, it's an art gallery, no's both. totally non sequitir in this burg, this outpost, i thought. before thinking again.

then there's the duelling brew pubs.

the winthrop brewing company and the twisp river pub. both with a river view, and both serving up home-made beer. if you like that sort of thing.

and we do.

the ultimate head-scratcher, however, is the sun mountain lodge, just outside winthrop. if at first you thought there was no reason for either of these towns to exist, you could be excused. but the sun's out there. way. out. there.

looming out of the fog, with a presence like the overlook hotel, the sun mountain is a stunning destination resort. it hosts a 5-star restaurant, plush accommodations, and an array of activities for anyone interested in activizing.

keep in mind, seattle is the closest thing to a city anywhere within a 5-hour drive. so the market for these businesses has to come from far away. i don't know how they turn a profit. but i do know this: the food at the sun mountain dining room is as good as the view. and the view is spectacular.

sure, alferd packer was the head chef, but i wasn't concerned...i had the halibut.

winter in winthrop is over, as if it never happened at all. okay, this year it didn't happen at all. despite that, the locals seem to be getting along nicely. whether we know about them or not.

Monday, April 11, 2005

days with dogs II

two hairy dogs and one harried owner visit the local park...

twice a day, every day. morning and evening. different crowds, one goal: get the dogs to pee and poop at the park, instead of in the yard.

oh, it's also good that the dogs get some exercise, socialize, and give their little doggy brains something to ponder besides their next meal.

it works out well for the dogs, who are often better-behaved than their owners.

wally is a smart, funny little jack russell terrier. dennis, his owner, is a lapsed advertising copywriter who recently completed his first book. wally runs around, plays, and generally disregards dennis' instructions. dennis, a bit of a control freak, gets uptight if other dogs attempt to play with wally's rubber bone.

dennis is spiritual kin to "garbo," an astringent woman with an enthusiastic border collie. garbo (she wants to be alone) gets extremely flustered if another dog attempts to intrude on her game of fetch. in a park full of dogs chasing thrown items, this attitude is problematic.

sam, a long-haired dacshund, likes to hump other dogs. it's semi-amusing at first, as the targets of his affection are often males, and always bigger than sam. but soon it becomes clear that sam's owner will do nothing to discourage this behavior--and becomes indignant if the target dog objects.
"there are no bad dogs, only bad owners."

this is a true statement. and while these people aren't bad owners, they're dragging down the average. i applaud them for providing a good home and excellent care for their pets. but i have to question the world view of a person who lets a dog act like it's on a bad episode of 'animal cops.'

bad dog, bad dog, what'cha gonna do?

which brings us to me, and my dog, gunnar. gunnar is a thief. he has been since he was a pup. despite nine years of my best intentions and efforts, he still steals anything he can get his mouth on. oh, and he's also a canine disposal--he tries to eat the things he steals.

nothing is safe. tennis balls, leashes, poop bags (unused), dog toys. also books, cell phones, sunglasses, footballs. the dog has been split open from stem to stern at christmas time to remove an assortment of recreational equipment from his digestive tract. and he remains undeterred.

the one and only factor saving me from further embarrassment is that gunnar is going blind, and can't see to steal nearly as much or as often. it's an unfortunate but useful tradeoff.

so, upon further review, it's likely that other dog people look at gunnar and say, "bad dog." if they're more philosophical they may just look at me and say, "bad owner." either way, i suppose i'm dragging down the average.

but look we're trying. we play well with the other dogs, and with most of the people. we're not perfect--but then again, it's an imperfect world. and we're just doing our best to keep the poop off the bottom of our shoes.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

house new-tiful

when we moved to seattle, i didn't anticipate renovating an entire house in less than a year.

but i'm a man, and we don't experience the female biological imperative to change for the sake of change.

so i was unprepared for my wife's implacable and constant drive to re-do the whole place. i mean, sure some cosmetic stuff had to go. the floral print wallpaper borders and complementing fruit cabinet hardware, for example, were tres cheesy. the wicker cabinets in both baths were inarguably bad. and the electric faux-fireplace taking up a huge chunk of living room space? that was just stupid.

but these were mere prelude. little did i realize the wholesale and wanton upheaval that was to follow.

in the past few weeks we have met with representatives of the ironworks industry (spiral staircase to the basement); the decking industry (trex deck and oh-what-the-hell, a hot tub for the back yard); a general contractor ("a second story on the house? sure, we can do that!"); and an architect ("push out the front of the house about 8 feet and you could have a fabulous kitchen!").

get a bobcat and dig out the front of the house. add a couple french doors, instant walk-out basement. switch the arrangement of the laundry room and downstairs bath. built-in cabinets and a gas fireplace for the family room.

there's more, but i'm scaring myself now.

for the sake of convenience, many of these little projects were coming in at $4,500. estimate after estimate, $4,500. it was eerily reminiscent of the old richard pryor bit, in which every change to his new house was $500.
contractor: what'cha want? it's $500.
pryor: i haven't even told you what i want yet.
contractor: i don't give a fuck, it's $500.
apparently there's been some inflation in the house renovation industry over the past few years.

all we need is a roll of $4,500 bills and we'll knock this whole thing out right quick. here's one for you, and one for you, and one for you...oh, what the hell, take two. it's only money. of course some of these improvements will exceed $4,500. the second floor and the kitchen, for example. oh well. we'll simply have to scrounge up some more $4,500 bills somewhere. lots more.

can we spend it? yes, we can!

change is inevitable. i know that. my wife wants this house to be a dream home. i'm down with that, too. but does it have to happen all at once? can't we spread it out over, say, the next 10 years?

sorry. bad attitude. if i want to embrace my wife, i will have to learn to embrace these changes. and i do. so i will.