Saturday, January 31, 2009



i had a power nap today.

i never nap. i have neither the time nor the opportunity to sleep during the day.

but today it was either fall asleep on the couch or risk a narcoleptic incident.

i call it a power nap, but the phrase seems kinda non sequitur. there's no power in snoozing on the couch with a game on and children running in and out the door.

i dreamed they actually shut the door quietly a couple times. that's how i know it was a dream.

i think i read somewhere that napping boosts memory, but i'm not sure. cultures all over the world nap during the day, and have managed quite nicely for centuries. in america, however, such behavior is associated with sloth.

no wonder we're so screwed up. fat, sleep-deprived and stupid is no way to go through life. and it may lead to early extinction.


i slept in today. until 9 a.m. this never happens. weekdays, weekends, holidays, vacation -- it doesn't matter. i wake up early and am utterly incapable of falling back to sleep.

the corrolary to this is that i'm tired all the time. i can't remember not being tired. over the years i've variously attributed this to being a parent. or being over-scheduled. or boredom. or ennui. or some other personal shortcoming.

this morning i rolled over and the clock said "9:08". that's gotta be a typo, right? nope.

am i getting sick? is this an early sign of infirmity? what other explanations might there be?

okay, i was in los angeles three days last week. staying up late doing market research, waking up early to get some exercise and catch up on away-from-the-office work. it's possible i got so far out of my routine that my body had to resynchronize.

the week prior we were skiing in canada. engaging in vigorous, high-altitude exercise, long, lazy evenings. hot tubs and beer. and, by definition, completely off our schedule.

cumulatively, maybe it was just time to give the somnolence devil his due.

or, as missus spaceneedl helpfully offered up, maybe i'm just old and tired. leave it to the missus to clarify things so succinctly. thanks, hon.

sunday afternoon:

i've been doing chores all day. cleaning up the kitchen, folding laundry, cleaning out closets. the ususal weekend catch-up after a too-full week. this is our life, no sense complaining about it. but you know what?

i'm tired. surely a little siesta couldn't hurt.

Friday, January 23, 2009


maybe it's the volume of the times and events in general.

or maybe we've just become accustomed to talking over each other, escalating from there.

if the spaceneedl household is any barometer, it impacts us in ways many and profound.

shoot, even the orcas are yelling at each other.

how do i reconcile yelling at my children nonstop throughout the day (on vacation, no less), then getting misty-eyed over a fictional boy dying on "gray's anatomy"? transference is a powerful psychological mechanism, i realize. but i already know it's just a damn tv show. i know they're trying to be as manipulative as they can in 44 minutes.

for their part, the spaceneedl children worked nonstop this week to aggravate me and the missus. in ways many and profound. example one (of thousands): taking off skis to go into the lodge for lunch. i stacked mine together in the rack; the boy, unbeknownst to me, dropped his skis and poles in a pile behind me. just, on the ground, right in the middle of everything. plah. i take one step back and stumble into them, nearly pratfall-like. he was totally mystified why i might be aggrieved by this.

example two (of millions): the missus tells the girl it's time for bed. go get your pajamas on, brush your teeth, get into bed, lights out. please. we have to tell them in this level of detail, else they'll skip every step and say, "well, you didn't say to do that."

minutes pass, no movement. i reiterate, in a still-calm voice -- it's time for bed. please do this, that and the other thing.

more minutes pass. now i'm irritated. shut the tv off! move! now!

the children get offended over being yelled at. "tsk, okay, geez, you don't have to yell." actually, we do have to yell. no activity takes place prior to the yelling. it has occurred to me that we should save time and skip straight to the yelling. but that might make me seem unreasonable, mightn't it?

and these are allegedly smart children. that's what people tell us, anyway. good lord, what are the dumb ones like? ("objection." "sustained." "i withdraw the question, your honor.")

maybe it's the volume of the pace of the ridiculousness of the times. it feels like everything has to be efficient and streamlined and glitch-free, or we're at risk of failure to optimize the stakeholders' value and future returns.

the orcas are endangered, struggling not to go the way of the [insert extinct species here]. "watch out for that cruise ship!" "hmm, water's tasting kinda petrochemical-y today." "has anyone seen any salmon?"

at least they have good reason to yell at each other.

i suppose the takeaway here is that sage bit of bumper sticker wisdom: spyhop more. echolocate less.

wait, that's not right. it's: bark less. wag more.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

it turns out, we control the weather...

if it's mid-winter, it must be time for a pineapple express in the northwest.

exquisitely timed to coincide with a long-planned spaceneedl family ski trip to canada.

the parallels to last year's canada ski trip are eerie. expectations of deep snow, cold temperatures and general winter wackiness, contradicted by a forecast of warm temps and rain.

not that we're complaining. like last year (and this year, and every other year), any getaway is worthy of enshrinement on a pedestal, whether our clever plans are realized or not.

within reason, of course.

it's interesting to learn that our itinerary dictates the weather. it's an awesome responsibility. had we known, we'd have made plans to change weather patterns all over the globe.

updates to follow as time and activities allow...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

i read the news today...

bad things are happening.

i know, that theme is getting tiresome, but the hits just keep on coming.

yesterday it was the report that another major daily newspaper is up for sale and in imminent danger of shutting down.

that's bad enough, because the same thing has been happening to papers all over the country. old, venerable publications that have for generations kept an eye on government and criminals (often one and the same) and the many pillars of our national infrastructure.

previously it was the chicago tribune declaring bankruptcy. the rocky mountain news, for sale and facing closure after 149 years. the miami herald, on the block after 105 years. the herald and the bristol press in connecticut. pop, pop, pop, like soap bubbles, one after another.

across the country, publishers have made deep cuts in staff and entered into last-ditch joint operating agreements with other papers. the st. louis post dispatch. the atlanta journal-constitution. the helena independent-record. the tulsa world. the kansas city star. the raleigh news and observer. the fort worth star-telegram. the litany goes on and on, reading like a list of battleships slowly sinking to the bottom.

that's all bad enough (and it is very bad) -- but this time it's at our front porch. the seattle post-intelligencer, one of the two seattle dailies, is on the brink of winking out after 146 years. the paper is for sale, with 60 days to find a buyer.

"If no buyer emerges, the paper would either become a Web-only publication or cease all operations. P-I employees were silent as they listened to the announcement, which lasted about 10 minutes. Some shed tears. Others held up cell phones or voice recorders in news-conference fashion. Phones rang unanswered and the police scanner buzzed on."
there are about 100 different reasons why media consolidation and contraction is bad for our experiment in democracy. one of the worst is control of information by a handful of corporate entities that may have no interest in reporting actual news. how would it be, for example, if rupert murdoch and his ilk ran the media in the world's major markets? all fox news, all the time. that prospect would be worse than no news at all...
"In a report this week, corporate-ratings agency Fitch predicted that some newspapers and newspaper groups are likely to default on their debt in 2009 — possibly leaving some cities with no daily newspaper."
wearing the obvious-hat just a bit longer, it comes to this: if there are fewer and fewer independent news-gathering sources around, who will collect and announce the news? what will the quality and veracity of that news be? who will keep an eye on those who richly deserve to be watched?

sunshine is the best disinfectant -- which explains why today it feels like the creeping crud inched closer to our collective front door.

* * * * *

unrelated-but-related update: boeing will lay off 4,500 workers, most of them in the puget sound region.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

our cup bubbles over...

2009 is here, heralded by words of cheer from people paid to make foreward-looking statements: "it's gonna get worse before it gets better."

with that in mind, my advice to you is to start drinking champagne.

whenever you can afford it, buy the good stuff. the stuff with tiny bubbles that tastes like you've just won life's lottery. have another glass -- shoot, have another bottle -- no hangover required!

drink champagne, even when you can't afford the good stuff. because it'll remind you of better times, and things to look forward to. like finally adding some new tunes to your ipod -- or getting your ipod out of hock. like seeing smiling people bringing boxes full of personal items into the cubicles around you instead of quietly carrying them out. like getting your 401(k) statement and actually feeling like opening it.

champagne is a harbinger, as well as a celebration, of of success. think about it: what comes to mind when you unwrap the foil, take off the little wire thingy, and pop that cork? workaday troubles and bleak economic forecasts? hell, no! it's people wearing tuxedos and evening gowns and laughing and toasting some well-earned achievement. it's ritual as self-fulfilling prophesy -- being the change you seek.

so, buy a bottle to break on the prow of that boat you've been dreaming of. think about sipping a glass or three on the flying bridge with your significant other (who might forget to remember she gets seasick within sight of water). imagine -- your own floating party venue! or better still, a quiet sunset retreat from parochial, landlocked lubbers. moments like that would make the whole outlay worthwhile, even if you never left the marina.

before you start to think, "hokaaaay, this guy either has or soon will have a teensy problem with the alcohol," i don't. no, really. it's not a problem. at all. at no time do i lose consciousness or feeling in my extremities. that would tend to take the fun out of the champagne mystique/motif, i think.

no, this whole dissertation is about the joyful saturnalia of life, not the dark downside of...i'm sorry, what was i talking about just then?

nevermind, doesn't matter. the denouement here is a little gathering of friends collectively peering into an uncertain 2009, smiling, laughing, enjoying the moment.

also sharing some really fresh oysters, shrimp skewers loaded with garlic, butternut squash soup, and three bottles of really good french bubbly. it was an extravagance we don't usually indulge in, but for one night we symbolically defied whatever fate might throw at us in the coming months. we celebrated the fact that we're healthy, we have jobs, and we have each other, for however long such things last.

we toasted and ate and drank and told funny stories about stalkers and nightmare clients and aging parents and layoffs. okay, that doesn't sound very funny, does it...but it was. we laughed all evening long. maybe it was denial, and maybe it was the champagne talking. but see? champagne makes everything look better.

you know, there's a small but finite possibility that this isn't about champagne at all. crazy as it sounds, it might be about, i don't know, staring down the things that unsettle us in an erratic and oblivious world, and squeezing out a little meaning and happiness in spite of it all.

ah, fuck it. it's about the champagne.

hey your glass is empty
it's a hell of a long way home
why don't you let me take you
it's no good to go alone
i never would have opened up
but you seemed so real to me
after all the bullshit i've heard
it's refreshing not to see
i don't have to pretend
she doesn't expect it from me

-- sarah mclachlan