Sunday, February 27, 2011

mediterranean err

it was all going to be so perfect.

at the confluence of a milestone birthday and a milestone wedding anniversary, the missus and i were gonna fly, sans children, for a fabulous two-week holiday in spain and france.

or spain and italy. or france and italy. or, really, any one of the countries mentioned above. details were still sketchy, but the plan was mutually and enthusiastically endorsed.

the idea was to get away, just us, to someplace we've never been. someplace steeped in history. rich in culture. marinaded in exquisite local wine.

and just for fun, since we were going to be there anyway, we thought we might look around a bit and find ourselves a new forever home. one promising a more reasonable cost of living. a more civilized work-life balance. warmer temperatures. and maybe a water view.

inside of two weeks we were going to find the one spot on earth that offered all of those things (actually, we would've settled for one or two), fetch the children and the dogs, and never look back.

i mean, how hard could that be?

then the middle east happened (thanks hosni! thanks muammar!), and the price of jet fuel went exactly the way you'd expect. not coincidently, airfares to fabulous mediterranean destinations went the same way. and suddenly, for the price of two tickets to barcelona or marseille or rome, we could drive the whole family to yakima a couple dozen times at least.

important geographic note: yakima isn't anywhere near spain. or france. or italy. and while we have nothing but respect for the town and the entire yakima viticultural region, we did not envision it as our milestone celebration destination.

already we're talking about postponing our trip until late summer or fall, betting that the price of petroleum products will decline heading into winter. it's a sucker's bet, we realize, but it's the only one we have at the moment.

in the meantime there's a small but finite possibility that the missus will be required to travel for business in april to...wait for it...hawaii.

we're equally foolish to bet on that one, but it's important in this life to have something to hope for.

it was all going to be so perfect. the grandparents were going to spend quality time with the children and the dogs, costs were going to be manageable, and everyone was going to live happily ever after.

then, poof. time for plan b.

which is to say...there's always yakima.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

holy hannah

billy ray is bummed.

his life has gone south, literally and figuratively, and he's not certain why.

but he's pretty sure the devil is involved.

Billy Ray Cyrus says the Disney TV show "Hannah Montana" destroyed his family, causing his divorce and sending daughter Miley Cyrus spinning out of control.

He said the Cyruses and their six children were all baptized before leaving Tennessee for Los Angeles to inure themselves against evil and he believes Satan is attacking his family.

the devil, presumably, wasn't involved when little miley was riding the wave of disney stardom, raking in cash for the cyrus family. or, you know, maybe he was.

because, really, who could've predicted that a few years of celebrity, money, and uncritical adulation would adversely impact a young girl and her family in ways not akin to sunshine and bubble gum?

no, this outcome was not about bad choices and questionable parenting. heavens, no. this is a clear-cut case of bedevilry.

"It's the way it is," Cyrus said. "There has always been a battle between good and evil. Always will be. You think, 'This is a chance to make family entertainment, bring families together...' and look what it's turned into."

family entertainment. didja ever watch the show, billy ray? i mean, you must were in it. remember? you played the clueless father of the disneyfied princess, who played dear old dad like a mystified chump. her character was full of adorably mouthy sarcasm and yours was full of mumbly bumbling.

hanna montana is part of a disney roster that portrays kids as worldly-wise and adults as dolts. not coincidently, the sassitude demonstrated by today's disney kids is imitated with charming precision by kid-viewers (or maybe that's just at our house).

is this the kind of "bringing families together" family entertainment you were referring to, billy ray? was the devil responsible for that expression of family values, or did you maybe just need some different writers?

but no, that might've turned off the fans, not to mention the money machine. and no one wanted that. surely a divorce and an out-of-control-spinning daughter is a small price to pay to feed the hype.

billy ray's gq interview reads like he's still the dumbfounded dad. he doesn't know how it all went wrong, only that it did and that it's his fault. or the devil's fault. or some combination thereof.

random metaphysical question: if the family's troubles were, in fact, the devil's handiwork, isn't billy ray off the hook?

since we're looking askance at disneyfied pop culture, we'd be naive indeed not to consider the possibility that the gq interview, and the attention it's generating, is well-planned. that billy ray's parenting philosophy includes the timeless classic, "any publicity is better than no publicity."

in which case we'd have to conclude that in the battle of good and evil, miley's dad has met the enemy...and it's wearing a mullet.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

business travel is glam, v.2

she's back.

after a week of glamorous business travel, retrieving the missus from the airport felt like picking her up from a hospital. jet-lagged, sleep-deprived, bleary-eyed, she seemed fragile as a fabergé egg.

earlier in the week she reported that her hotel in fabulous reading, berkshire, UK resembled a low-end days inn. twin beds, one of which sagged pitifully in the middle, and a restaurant whose most popular item was cheese and butter sandwiches on white bread.

twenty-some hours on airplanes crossing 16 time zones, all in the cause of catering to some auditors whose job it is to audit things. the very idea is teeth-numbingly eye-blinkingly farcical.

but let's not take our eye off the ball, shall we? the important thing is she's home, she's well, and she's resting comfortably. and all she missed while mollycoddling auditors was a couple of gymnastics practices, a couple swim team practices, several jaunts back and forth to schools, a ski club trip, dogs digging up landscaping, several decent meals lovingly prepared by her devoted husband, and three hours in the ballard swedish emergency department.

we thought the girl might've had a case of acute appendicitis, see, but it turned out to be, um, not-appendicitis. still, the excitement was palpable.

anyhoo, she's home. and swearing there will be no more trips this week. so we've got that going for us.

business travel. it's fandamnglamorous.

Friday, February 04, 2011

going, going...not gone! yet.

"Extinct" Salmon Discovered in Japanese Lake
A Japanese salmon thought to have been extinct for 70 years has been discovered in a lake near Mount Fuji.

Last uncontacted tribes in the world discovered in Amazon jungle
An undisturbed civilization has been discovered on the Peru-Brazil border. BBC film shows gardens, homes, and people covered in red body paint.

Mad bovine refuses to go quietly
A cow that escaped a slaughterhouse, swam across the Missouri River, and was sent to a failing Montana animal sanctuary has lived to low another day.

you might think not-extinct japanese salmon, lost amazon civilizations and an indestructible cow would have nothing in common.

and on most days you'd be right. but today, if you scrunch up your brain in a certain way, you might discern at least one silvery thread tying them together: they all should be very afraid that "civilized" humans will kill them.

if you read the links, you see that the japanese government is "drawing up plans" to preserve the rediscovered salmon. that the peruvian and brazilian governments are taking steps to protect the lost tribes. that animal welfare groups are stumbling toward some sort of arrangement for the determined cow.

and a flickering moment of hope might light on your soul like a butterfly, causing you to smile ever so slightly as its wings tickle your karma.

if you want to keep that smile and that soul and that hope, you'll want to cease any further thought about these little stories. right about now...

the japanese, of course, are famous for killing things that should be protected. whales, anyone? despite worldwide condemnation, japanese ships continue to slaughter whales "for scientific purposes." and you know how the japanese enjoy their sushi, the more exotic and endangered, the better.

brazilians and peruvians are unlikely to sacrifice potential profits when there's a tree that can be chopped down or a strip mine that might be slashed. they're remarkably like americans, in that regard. plus, anyone peaceably wandering around a garden wearing little more than body paint should expect to be forcibly converted to christianity any moment now.

and the cow? there are entire industries dedicated to slaughtering animals in this country, not to mention the millions of pets euthanized every year because we can't be bothered to care for them, and let's not forget to forget the countless homeless people we ignore as if they were odd, unattractive furniture dumped on the side of every road.

see what happens when you read between the lines? it's no fun at all! better that we enjoy the rainbows and faeries and unicorns, then look away quick before the happy ending goes all simon cowell on us.

* * * * *

the japanese salmon were, in fact, saved. their numbers increased until a stable population was established, and biological diversity was maintained. then mount fuji erupted.

the lost amazon tribe stayed sequestered from the aggressive intrusion of logging and strip mining. they continued to live in peace until one of the tribe found an ipod left behind by an anthropologist.

the cow was shipped to india, where it wandered freely amongst adoring crowds for many years. it died after drinking from the ganges river.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

the glamorous glamour of business travel

the missus is going traveling again.

and again. and again.

it's the latest development in drug development, and isn't it fabulous?

hint: no, it is not.

this time it's a week in the UK, a splendid place in winter, if you don't mind hideous weather and the travel alert to u.s. citizens reminding them of the high level of terrorist threat, including the potential for attacks on public transportation systems, aviation, and other travel infrastructure.

in a strange confluence of coincidence and irony, transportation systems and travel infrastructure are the very instruments required for business travel. so as if the jet lag and wrong-sided driving and meetings and tea carts weren't annoying enough, the missus is advised to maintain a high state of vigilance and security awareness regardless of her jet-laggedness.

also, she's flying coach. because that's company policy and, really, who needs to be rested and coherent on a trip that's so important it requires one's presence on the other side of the globe? no, better that the indispensable executive be exhausted, dehydrated, sneezed-on and borderline deep-vein thrombosed.

there's an eight-hour difference between seattle and london. if conventional wisdom is correct, getting a body recalibrated to local time takes a day per hour. which means her body clock will be upside-down the entire time she's there. and on her return she will feel normal again just in time to get on another plane.

business travel to fabulous ports of call.

is it not fabulous?

hint: see above.