Sunday, December 28, 2008

belated procrastination

traditionally, mrs. spaceneedl sends out holiday cards early, and i send them out late.

actually, i lovingly write personal notes, address them, and fire them out the week between christmas and new year's, which technically still qualifies as "the holidays."

owing to the previously mentioned weather-related inconveniences, the missus is officially way behind on the card front: she hasn't sent out one.

me, i'm precariously close to a holiday card faux pas, and i'm remiss on the holiday front in general. just today i got my parents' gifts boxed up and ready to ship. only three days after christmas.

if i pay a lot to fedex the package, it might get to their house by new year's day-after. they can recover from their modest one-glass-of-too-sweet-wine hangover by taking pictures with their new sony digital camera. it's got lots of megapixels. more megapixels than they'll know what to do with. but that's hardly the point.

what the point is, is, that the box is still sitting here on the spaceneedl kitchen table, and that won't change until tomorrow.

any way we can drag this out a little longer? let's check snow anywhere in sight. tsk, pity. this means i'll have to head back to work tomorrow.

happy to have a job, thankful for our good fortune, yes, and please don't let that change...but i'm not particularly fired up to go back to work just yet. surely another week off would fix this particular malaise.

perhaps a bit of malingering is in order here -- particularly since mrs. spaceneedl has this week off. i bet she and i could find plenty to do with a few days to go before 2009 and all kinds of tasks a-pending.

in addition to the many other things we share, we both currently have an aversion to work-related work. especially with so many holiday cards to write. not that we're not happy to have jobs, thankful for our good fortune, and so on.

how old to children have to be before they can hold down 40-hour-a-week employment?

let's take another look at rain -- every day for the next ten days. anyone hoping for a snow day better get used to disappointment.

or hope for a flood. no, no floods, please. thank you.

but how 'bout some other harmless act of god that keeps us home without hurting anyone, including our respective employers? is there such a thing?

no, probably not.

* * * * *

update: 15 holiday cards written, addressed and ready to go. may i be so productive at work.

* * * * *

h/t to jeff rogers for the seattle holiday image...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

everybody complains about the weather...

i hate to keep harping on this "weather" thing.

but when did we move to minnesota?

remember the movie "the day after tomorrow"? it was an apocalyptic flick about the effects of global warming, and the onset of a new ice age. the tagline for the film was, "this year, a sweater won't do."

i thought that was pretty damn funny, actually. especially since it applies to seattle right now.

it's 15 degrees here. the snow is crunchy underfoot, like walking on styrofoam. the roads are a mess, and oh, look!

there's more on the way.

hurricane-force winds. up to a foot of new snow (on top of the four inches out there now). ice. and "the possibility of widespread power outages."

that's nice. isn't that nice?

i'm going to harp just a bit more.

seattle public schools closed this week, on a day when no snow fell. not one lousy flake. they're now closing schools if there's a possibility of snow in the forecast. back in the day, in minnesota, we went to school when the snowbanks were up to the roofline. here, now, it bears repeating: they cancel school if snow is in the forecast.

one question: are you kidding me?

what happens to parents all over town who don't have the latitude to, say, work from home on short notice? answer: they're forced to take a vacation day, or a day off without pay.

thanks, seattle public schools.

did that sound bitter? it felt a little bitter, typing it. especially considering the spaceneedls have the latitude to work from home. must be that "liberal empathy" gene kicking in.

and, as happens so often, i've digressed.

we're heading out now, piling into the 4wd to scavenge for winter storm provisions. we're looking for electric lanterns, flashlights, maybe a generator big enough to light up tacoma.

whatever. we're going to buy something, by god, whether we need it or not.

it's 15 degrees in seattle, and a "very dangerous winter storm" is headed right for us.

a sweater won't do.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

snow time like the presents

q: "why is it always so cold when we're putting up christmas decorations?"

a: "because we put them up in the winter."

this is what passes as high humor at the spaceneedl household, c. 2008.

it's not 'the best of saturday night live' but snl ain't what it used to be, either.

i digress.

it's ten days 'til christmas, and we don't have a tree up yet. we're busy little heathens, you see, and there are only so many weekends in december. and because the roads are icy today, we may not get said tree this weekend, either.

we did, however, manage to get the outdoor decorations up yesterday. just ahead of the snow.

this morning there's a winter wonderland outside the spaceneedl kitchen window, complete with animated, illuminated deer, little snowmen, a white seal that was white before the snow came, and a penguin. never mind that these creatures would never be seen together in the wild. nothing says 'christmas' like an electric-powered menagerie.

there's snow on the roof of the house across the street, and a seagull walking across the peak of the roofline. it's an odd, non sequitur sight...seagulls and snow don't go together in our collective winter narrative, do they? what's this birdbrain up to?

we keep the christmas decorations in the rafters above the garage. the only way up and down is from the top of a step ladder. two adults are required to transport the matériel from up to down, along with some awkward clambering from the ladder to the rafters. it's not an exercise for the acrophobic, or anyone in holiday grinch mode. i whacked my knee on a joist on one trip, complicating matters. today i have an ice pack on the knee, along with a nice bruise and a respectable knot.

nothing says 'christmas' like a hematoma.

mrs. spaceneedl and her little dogs just returned from a walk to the village. the dogs are covered with clumps of snow, stuck to their fur from head to tail. they could not be less suited for winter weather. or any other kind of weather, near as i can tell.

it's still below freezing out there, but cars are going by. so maybe we'll get out and get a tree today after all. it might not make sense on the 'risk-reward' scale...but nothing says 'christmas' like sliding sideways on black ice, with a tree tied to the top of an suv.

you can bet the missus will want me to climb back up in the rafters for the tree decorations, shortly thereafter.

it's christmas at the spaceneedl household, c. 2008.

The wind may not blow
Might not even snow
But there's nothing like Christmas
Right here at home

It may not be white
Might be a rainy night
But there's nothing like sharing
The sounds and the sights of ...

Christmas in the Northwest
Is a gift that we can share
Christmas in the Northwest
Is a child's answered prayer

-- brenda white

Saturday, December 06, 2008

barack's on sunday

People in here from all over the world
Men, women, little boys and girls
Gather 'round by the seaside,
Beach party, tropic-style
Diamond Head and palm trees, surf riders on the sea
This is the place to be, oh, yeah, this is the place to be

On the beach at Waikiki, that's where you'll find me
Here on the south side, Beach Boys paradise

Duke's on Sunday
Duke's on Sunday

-- henry kapono

i'm obliged to frame this post in the past and future tense.

to wit: in the past, prior to the global economic meltdown, mrs. spaceneedl planned and purchased a nice family vacation. i'm reluctant to talk about it now, since vacations have become an extravagance. and at a time when many people are struggling, saying "look at us, we've got a future vacation on the books!" is just vulgar.

but then barack obama came along and totally copied our idea, so now i feel compelled to elaborate. a little.

President-elect Barack Obama, returning to his home state of Hawaii for the holidays, plans a beachside vacation at one of Oahu's most exclusive properties, according to one insider.

Arrangements are being finalized for the Obamas and the families of two or three friends to stay at a Kailua beachfront location...
you can see where this is heading: the spaceneedls are going to kailua as well. note: the obamas are traveling over the holidays, and we're scheduled for february. this is a very good thing, given that security will be tight and all of kailua will be on defcon 4 during the presidential visit.

coincidental timing would be bad. i like running on the beach at dawn, but not being tackled by secret service sprinting in from the dunes.

i like the little needls splashing in the surf, but not a pre-emptive ambuscade by navy seals in full battle gear.

i like swimming in the warm hawaiian waters, but not being eaten by a patrolling tiger shark. not that sharks are likely to be working with the presidential security team...i'm just sayin'.

so, while we welcome the premise and promise of an obama administration, it's good that the first family's itinerary doesn't overlap ours. because while barack might need a respite before taking over a ship with the aerodynamics of the hindenberg and the seaworthiness of the andrea doria -- we don't have time for a lot of fuss.

our vacation is really important.

Monday, December 01, 2008

whatever you do, don't ask "what's next?"

because i'm telling you -- you don't want to know.

could be the neighbor (the guy who's been carrying on a clandestine affair for five years) who is laying off half his company and taking a pay cut. sure, maybe he deserves the bad karma, but his family and employees don't.

could be the missus, similarly laying off people at her office -- i don't believe there's any parallel affair to report.

could be the friends -- one a realtor, one a residential construction contractor -- who now are struggling to keep their family together. because homes aren't selling, and because his company went out of business. so he's gone back to a previous vocation -- working on a crab boat in alaska. he's 50 years old.

could be another neighbor -- a carpenter who has done much work around our house. he hasn't had a significant project in weeks, and isn't talking about any on the horizon.

could be the friends on queen anne. she's an elementary school teacher hearing rumors that her school might be on the "closing" list. this on the heels of a report that washington state is drastically cutting education funding due to major budget shortfalls.

washington mutual -- bankrupt and bought out by jp morgan -- is laying off 80% of its employees in seattle. that's 3,400 jobs.

the dow dropped 680 points today, the recession was declared "official," and george bush declared he was "sorry" for all the hubbub. [note to george: fuck you.]

i realize these little anecdotes are the tip of a much scarier iceberg. that the PNW will probably fare better than the rest of the country -- not to mention the rest of the world.

but we're not out of order to speculate where the bottom might be, and when we'll get there. and how long it might take for all of us to get back to where we were, 401(k)-wise.

we're not out of line to ask, "how did this happen?" reasonable people can be forgiven for inquiring, "what the fuck?"

but whatever you do, don't ask...that question above.

right now it just doesn't seem wise.