One more item on my wishlist.

I didn’t do the live site countdown this year – mostly because I don’t need to be reminded how few days I have left to finish all these gifts, distribute them, and get my house clean before Mom and Dad show up. A little mental math tells me we’re getting pretty close, though.

It’s not too late to pick me out something off my wishlist, you know. If it arrives the week after its festive deadline it will still buy you another whole year of my love.

I picked out a couple nice things from my bank today, as well – don’t worry, they weren’t off the wishlist. Citibank is awesome and awards me points all year for doing things I’d do anyway – paying bills, depositing paychecks – and then I spend them on myself every December. I ordered a sweet poker set and blew the rest of the points on Shell gas cards – who says I’m not practical?

There’s one more item unofficially on my wishlist, too, after my visit to the gym this morning. I want hot water in the shower. I don’t think this is a lot to ask, you guys. It’s supposed to be one of Allstar Fitness’ “premium” locations, 14 floors up in the Seattle Municipal Tower with a sweeping view of the city, mountains, and harbor from any of the cardio machines, the pool, or (oddly) the men’s locker room. It’s twice the price of Pure Fitness, supposedly due to the caliber of the facilities and equipment, but I bet Pure Fitness doesn’t surprise their members every few days by blowing out the pilot light on the locker room water heater. A member I met in the elevator told me it’s been a problem for years (not encouraging) and despite that I’ve been complaining about it every time it happens, it still happens. I’m not a plumbing expert, but I think I could fix it.

My ironclad contract is up in January – ironically, the only way a gym will guarantee your loss of a pound of flesh in writing is in their early-termination clause – and this will definitely affect my decision to renew. Unfortunately, I’m equal parts lazy and habitual, so I’m dreading finding a new gym, learning my way around a new gym, and potentially having to walk farther to/from a new gym, especially in the wee hours of the morning when I’m already cranky and easily confused.

While I was toweling away the hypothermia in the locker room this morning I crafted this limmerick that, had there been a sharpie in my gym bag, I would have written across the bathroom mirror:

There once was a gym in a tower;
It was no place to spend your lunch hour.
The management’s cheap,
The tile floors all leak,
And every third day a cold shower.

Six more days until Christmas, everyone. Be merry, be blessed, and may all your showers be hot ones!

I know how ugly hookers feel.

A quiet evening at home listening to Christmas music, wrapping gifts that i bought yesterday (and one that was waiting on the doorstep when i returned), and doing some light reading by the glow of a twinkling plastic tree. I did very little actual work at work today, between meetings down the hall, meetings in the corporate building several blocks away, walking to said meetings, and kicking into party mode at about 3.30 with the rest of the building for the second day of “slush week”, the official unofficial Christmas party. Each day is themed – today was gin and tonics. Monday was beer – several of the crew actually make their own, so it was a very involved affair to start the week, tomorrow is scotch, i think, unless scotch is thursday and tomorrow is vodka, leaving friday for wines. As my department is lazy and not actually sponsoring a day (which is too bad, since i have an iPod full of great Christmas music and party provisions just begging to be shared), i’m really not sure of the schedule until the last hints of daylight depart the conference room windows and the merriment begins appearing from desk drawers and mailroom cupboards. Unlike for real life modern pirates, there is no shortage of free booty at the office this time of year.

My whole world seems a bit upside down this week. After several years of alternating between admitting i’m broke and living accordingly, or denying my lack of funds in temporary (and usually oft-regretted) splurges, i’m finally looking down the barrel of a comfortable salary after the new year begins and that combined with prodigous Christmas money stockpiling has me purchasing gifts based on other criteria besides sale price this year. It’s a great feeling, and the festive – and larger than usual – pile of paper-wrapped good intentions accumulating around the concrete-filled terra cotta pot under my plastic evergreen has me in a perpetual Christmas mood.

My garage is empty. I tromped in there this evening in search of empty boxes to contain my purchased expressions of merriment and, like i always do, took a large step straight in and then turned quickly on my heels to avoid hitting my car that – ack! – was not there this time. I stood silently aghast in the empty concrete space, momentarily concerned that i had misplaced something large and automobile-shaped, then concerned for my own sanity, and finally prodded with a twinge of guilt for forgetting already, as my poor Z – out of sight and apparently all too quickly out of mind – sleeps in a strange, lonely bed tonight. I delivered it to the body shop monday morning, where it’s panels will be exorcised of the ghost of garage doors past. The logistics of the hand-off involved reviewing my two-page typed list of quirks, repair guidelines and operating requirements with both the service manager and the lot attendant – including a copy for each of them and another in the car – and then walking a few blocks to alderwood mall to catch a bus home, to fetch my pathfinder and expend a half tank of gas driving downtown to work, alone, so that i would have transportation to the doc in bellevue after work and then back home again, in order to complete the most inefficient commute cycle possible. Apparently community transit did not receive that memo, however, and felt it would instead be an opportune monday morning to test the “random chaos” theory of bus scheduling and completely disregard any printed timetables in favor of buses driving haphazardly around snohomish county wherever their drivers felt would be scenic for the passengers, or wherever discounted breakfast specials could be combined with unfiltered tobacco. After waiting 30 minutes on north hwy 99, feeling what ugly hookers must feel when they stand on hwy 99 waiting for a ride that never comes, i finally gave up and walked the last two miles home in disgust. I kept my unused transfer ticket, though… so i can staple it to the flaming bag of canine excrement that community transit will be receiving for Christmas this year.

I went skiing on saturday. The Summit was a bit crunchy compared to what i’m used to and i worked my body really hard on some tough runs, but it was sunny and fantastic up there and i had an incredible day. Other than a couple of freak days out in Europe in 2003, i hadn’t skied – or physically engaged any snow that wasn’t at the business end of an ice scraper – since i was in college, and never in a west coast climate, so i had no expectations and figured on being a total noob; finding that some semblance of confidence and ability still lingered was a welcome surprise. Driving up by myself and spending the day following my own desires and energies on the hill took me back to MSU, to the days of decade-old gear and “HHD 161 – Alpine Skiing”, except this time my gear is all new (save the sticks) and a season pass hung around my neck. I felt like a king. The king of the mountain.

Gnomes on line 1.

warning labelI’m sure there are still some blue tongues at the office today – although i haven’t interrogated anyone about it to confirm – and i have already seen some of the pictures circulating of us all from saturday, dressed to the nines in black, red and gold, sipping martinis dyed to company-logo-blue and clanking our glasses together in merriment. One of the best company christmas parties i’ve been to, themed after Casino Royale, replete with tuxedo-clad dealers, high-stakes betting into the multi-million-monopoly-dollar range (with a percentage of winnings destined for the high-roller’s charity of choice) and a c-note’s worth of engineers, developers, and sales and support personalities nearly unrecognizable in their previously-unseen glamour and panache. The only let-down was being sent home so early, likely at the bequest of corporate attorneys with visions of liability lawsuits dancing in their heads. Today, back to the grind, the weekend’s festive binge has passed the torch to the weekdays’chemical crutch and the return to denim, repetitive stress syndrome and radiation-emitting portable electronics is energetically complete.

My garage door remains immobilized today, deprived of its one remaining tensioner spring on saturday morning so the garage door gnomes can use it as a paradigm from which to fashion two fresh ones. Those gnomes called me today, or rather dispatched their human female receptionist to do so, in order to request the weight of my garage door. The weight of my garage door. As though i had recently held it in one hand, and a 10-lb sack of flour in the other, and estimated that “this hand weighs about twice as much as that hand.” She helpfully suggested i place a bathroom scale on the garage floor and lower the door onto it, so i suppose i shall have to stop at target tonight and purchase a bathroom scale in order to weigh my garage door. I’m sure i’ll find thousands of amusing uses for a bathroom scale once i’m in possession of one, the least of which will involve finding a place to store it in my already-overcrowded 4-square-foot bathroom. I supposed it also wouldn’t hurt to weigh myself at least once, as the weight on my driver’s license probably hasn’t been updated since it was issued in 1994.

John was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon and is home on Vashon now, likely alternating between sleeping and driving his mother crazy with sarcastic answers to valid medical questions. I stopped at the hospital yesterday morning on my way to the gym but he was sleeping soundly so i read the two pages of comics from his sunday times and departed as stealthily as i had come. I did not, in fact, make it to the gym afterward as all the other cheap bastards visiting downtown on a sunday morning had scarfed up the entire allotment of free street parking and the municipal tower garage was either closed, non-functioning or woefully understaffed, with no amount of punishment levied at the “print ticket” button able to remedy the infuriating situation. After several dozen maddening circles in a steadily larger radius around the building, i had my fill of the whole ordeal and bitterly headed home, begrudging the gym, the muni tower garage and the “consul-only” parking spaces with their deceptive emptiness that resulted only in cruel, exclusionary condescension. Still annoyed (and possibly tired and lazy, as well) i didn’t go to the gym this morning either. That’ll show them.

The word of the day is: gridlock!

You’re supposed to scream when you hear the word of the day (according to Peewee), but whether you want to scream hooray or scream in anquish will depend on what today’s word means to you. If you live in Seattle and have voted for the Monorail the last 5 times then anguish is definitely going to be your emotion of choice today and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make vocal those feelings as this week’s Stranger Monorail wrap-up uses “gridlock” nigh on a zillion times. You’ll scream quite a bit in their discussions of what went wrong with the project, in the accounts from monorail board members of the internal battles lost (or never fought at all), and in the unfortunately true assessment of the city’s political unwillingness to accept voter-initiated change. More than anyplace else, however, you’ll scream whenever you hear the name “Mayor Gridlock”, and for more reasons that just the word of the day. The phrase that 2045 Seattle coined to describe Mayor Greg Nickels was – despite the disappointing truth behind it – not enough to tear down the political walls he’s built up with talk of Kyoto and a mass transit solution for Seattle that – as is quite obvious now – he never truly believed in.

It’s a deeply disheartening Stranger this week, inducing an emotional commute that – for this reader, at least – started in Shock And Dismay County, passed into Frustrationtown, sat in traffic for a bit outside Motivated Activism Plaza and finally just gave up and parked at Disgusted Apathy and walked the last few blocks to Jaded Bitter Misanthrope. I pay licensing on two vehicles in this state and I would *happily* have paid the 1.50/week per vehicle in extra fees for the next ten years for the promise of a better connected, more urban Seattle. It is with a heavy heart that, after reading what the Stranger has printed today, I resign any remaining hopes of elevated mass transit here and settle in for the onerous commute, dirtier air and continued suburban sprawl that are apparently our unshakable destiny.

What’s most upsetting, i think, is not that this much-beloved yet continually-beleagured project has finally lost its last bit of propelling steam, but that a troublesome question has been answered, and that answer is “no.” No, voters are not steering this ship that we’re all riding in, and initiatives from the people – no matter how well-intentioned or woefully overdue – are no match for the political agendas of our elected officials. Somewhere along the way we have dropped the reins – we, us, the citizens, you and me – and what’s worse, it’s apparently been so long since we’ve been in control that even heroic attempts to retreive them and point this buggy in a new direction result in zero progress, and a citizenry that’s even worse-off for the effort. I’m not sure what’s left for us to do, besides sit meekly and await the robot overlords. Hopefully the robot killing machines will – like the buses, trolleys and light rail – be terrestrial in nature, as that should buy us a little time while they’re stuck in the gridlock (and… cue the screams).

Even garage doors get the blues

Apparently i have not been sufficiently appreciating my garage door. This is the conclusion i have come to. I did not realize they were so sensitive; although perhaps i have a particularly emotionally unstable one, and i should not assume a similar neuroses from the entire group based on my limited test sample. This is, after all, the first apartment i’ve ever had that features one. We had previously maintained an amiable relationship: i’d push the button, and it would open. Much of the time i unplugged the opener altogether in the interest of my car’s security, leaving the garage door with what i imagine were nice, restful vacations. Granted, there were times i teased it with unintentioned movements caused by a stray button press, or times that i couldn’t be satisfied with any one state and insisted on experimenting with various stages of open-ness to achieve the desired garage climate, but i really didn’t see any deep-seeded resentment building behind the seemingly innocent facade of beams, springs, and wood-approximating panels. But on sunday, the truth finally came out.

I was sitting quietly in my kitchen/dining room/office/mailroom/server room/storage pile/car parts staging area on sunday evening, likely hunched over my pre-vacation todo list. I don’t remember exactly what i was doing, but as that last-minute list has overwhemled the last several days like the tub of KFC gravy always does to the (oddly smaller) corresponding tub of mashed potatoes, it’s a safe bet to say that’s how i was occupied.

    Suddenly in the garage there arose such a clatter,
    I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter!
    I ran to the entryway and threw open the door,
    groped blindy for the light and nearly fell on the floor.

    The light from the single round bulb on the wall
    made scarcely a warning of the scene i’d befall,
    and what to my wondering eyes should appear,
    but a dent in the hood of my auto so dear.

    With an odd piece of metal lying still on the floor,
    I knew in a moment it had been the garage door.
    More rapid than eagles i wielded my cell,
    and dialed up my landlord trying hard not to yell.

    “Who is this?”, “What happened?”, “Which unit is this?”.
    “How damaged?”, “How urgent?”, “At least you were missed!”
    I sprang to the questions and recounted my story,
    in a manner most truthful and thankfully, not gory.

    After talks of insurance and trading of numbers,
    I finally felt that i might get some slumber.
    Some pictures were needed, and a call to the folks,
    with a story of landlords more gracious than hoped.

    Abuzz from the nightmares that flew through my head,
    i finally scrapped sleeping and just lay there instead.

What a (mercifully short) poem will not give you are the dirty details left to the pictures. Apparently the tensioner spring decided to suddenly shear off, leaving the now-useless cable and pulley hanging limp by the door and the bulk of the spring came to rest on the floor. Oh, man, i’m rhyming again. Once you get that in your head, it’s difficult to shake. Anyway, on it’s way across the garage at what i can only assume was bullet-like speed, the spring struck thehood of my car and the proceeded down the fender, encompassing two body panels that, unfortunately, were not the body panels that could probably use a fresh paint job. The pics don’t do the dent justice, as it’s really quite noticable in person with the way it reflects light, especially from the back of the car where you can clearly see the impact point. I felt very CSI as i was reverse-engineering the details of the crime. Another interesting feature of the dent is the little micro-dents that span the entire area where each individual coil of the spring left its own personal signature, like each member of a wacko cult putting their john hancock on the group suicide note.

The upside is at least i’m leaving on vacation tonight, so i don’t need the car for awhile, and there is no urgent need to make the garage door open. Also, i have 6 days in New York to forget about the whole freakin’ thing, and i will spend this evening playing GTA with Clint (ironically, bashing up hundreds of virtual cars, for which a perfect paint job is only a cheat code away) and then be off to the airport and a good, stiff, uh… water (with a pepto chaser) on the plane.

As a matter of fact, I am on drugs. Thanks for asking.

I finally have an excuse for my weird behavior, i guess. Why i’ve stopped drinking coffee over a month ago, and have now almost completely cut out caffeine altogether, this in a city with such a high caffeine intake that our city sewer system has specific filtration for it. Why i order Thai food with 1 star (which is, to be quite honest, a bland and flavorless way to consume a lot of starch while minimizing your enjoyment of a meal) and why i spend an alarming majority of my medical flex plan fund on antacids and pepto. Yup, apparently i have a stomach lining infection, or something sort of like that, according to the phone call from my doctor’s office yesterday. Where did i contract this? Who’s to say. My cute, funny, reassuringly-capable doctor asked me if i had been to any third world countries lately; i asked her if the block my office building is located on counts?

Anyway, regardless of origin, this bacteria or whatever is apparently eradicated by attempting to obstruct my esophogas with a handful of very large pills, twice a day. A nice little assortment of them, too; some bright neon yellow ones, a large chalky white one, and a tiny rice-grain-sized pellet with itty bitty print stamped on it by those determinedly high-tech pharmaceutical people and their we-can-laser-etch-our-logo-on-a-single-atom branding strategies. I’m stuffing these down my gullet in the morning, in addition to the usual multivitamin cocktail and a nice, big vitamin C to ward off those winter sniffles, and all together that makes 9 pills a day for the next 8 weeks. That’s a lot of pills, kids, so many that i may need a pill system to keep myself from getting confused.

What does all of this mean? How will my rousing, nonstop rollercoaster social life be affected? Well, not drinking coffee will make me immensely unpopular ’round these parts, and my beloved baristas are already confused by my abstinence. Those rollicking beer binges and the early weekend mornings waking up in a downtown gutter reeking of whiskey and strippers will be on a doctor-prescribed hiatus; alcohol is on the no-no list, as well. Really, i think all of the “fun drugs” are, along with a few “niche” foods such as milk, citrus, carbonation, chocolate, tomatoes in any form, foods that are spicy or otherwise have distinct flavors surpassing the intensity of steamed rice, and anything with sugar or fat in it. Luckily my diet rarely consists of those things anyway, as i’m subsisting these days on unseasoned ramen noodles, wild nuts and berries, and squirrel meat. In addition, my aching midsection does not quietly acquiesce to external pressure, so gut-punching fights with Clint are probably out, as is restrictive clothing. Devastatingly, i won’t be wearing those tight leather pants again until at least 2006, and i guess dressing up as Steven Tyler for halloween this year isn’t going to happen. On the up side, i’m might discover a new love for bland, tasteless food, and next week in New York i will have some quality war stories to trade with Michelle, what with her having rabies and all.

For the rest of you, it means the beer in my fridge is now fair game for the taking, and the spicy asian snack mix in my desk also needs to be consumed in some way that does not involve my personal digestive system (perhaps pigeons like it?). Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s some unsweetened instant oatmeal in my immediate future and that ambrosia doesn’t microwave itself.

Seattle is slowly surrendering into complete chaos.

So as i mentioned in my wireless post from the international district bus tunnel station, i rode the bus tunnel one last time before the eternal 2-year closure for some light rail project thingy that i don’t remember voting for (that’s because it’s private – even tho it’s receiving public funding assistance – augh, let’s not start that). Anywho, i had a quiet lunch to myself of lobster bisque and Groove Armada and pondered Seattle’s mass transit future. Also, i bought that belt i needed. 😉

I found a map on the Sound Transit site that gave me a good laugh. Check it out. You’ll notice there are 5 different train-type systems overlapping each other – light rail, full-scale rail, monorail (both vintage and proposed) and trolley car – and all trying to serve a different, niche need. Throw 1,183 buses into the mix along with 5 or 6 taxicabs, close 3rd avenue and parts of 5th to non-bus traffic, and it’s going to be a very confusing and inefficient two years. Of course the complexity will come down quite a bit if the SMP Green Line is never built, which is apparently how the mayor and city council would like to see things go. I live-blogged the council meeting a bit over on 2045 Seattle for all those who were likely still trying to install RealPlayer (it had never seemed useful before…). I think there were some council members who were genuinely saddened by the vote and the discussion around it, as they had at some point believed in the monorail project. Apparently the arguments presented outweighed their faith in the dream, however, as the council voted unanimously on a resolution that would withdraw city support for the SMP. As the council president said, the only power they really have over the project is their ability to grant permits for use of city right-of-way, and for zoning and construction, and that is the tool they will wield to hold back an elevated future. They are also asking the state legislature to wither the SMP’s funding source via a revocation of the previously voter-approved vehicle licensing addendum.

I’m one of many very disappointed to see the monorail get shot down like this after so much hard work and struggle, and i don’t think the voters of Seattle – who have passed via majority four different referendums supporting the monorail – will be pleased at the polls. I don’t purport to know the details of the SMP’s funding debacle, nor will i try to assess their trustworthiness or fitness for the task at hand, but i do feel confident assuming that even despite their shortcomings they must have learned a great deal about monorails, mass transit, and Seattle’s chances of escaping gridlock hell and i hope that precious research doesn’t die with the SMP’s bankroll. If anything is ever going to come of this city’s 7 zillion different transportation initiatives and if those plethora of tiny solutions to localized problems is ever going to organize and regroup as a consistent regional strategy, we at least need to be able to learn from our mistakes as a collective community and not keep starting from zero.

I’d like to see everything the Seattle Monorail Project has gathered, from environmental studies to financial statements to blueprints to swatches of seat fabrics, be made public and readily available so that all of us may be more well-informed the next time our one-track (pipe) dream shows up on the ballot. Because there will be a next time.

I’d be willing to drink Kokanee on a more regular basis.

Another fantastic weekend with the guys in Van, the kind of experience that makes me want to take an active interest in hockey, start saying ‘aboot” and move to the great white north, where i never fail to have the time of my life and where sleep is, apparently, optional.

The official purpose of the trip was for DriftFest, a drift competition and car show combo out in Abbotsford. The coolness of this event for the guys into drifting was that it focused on giving local guys a chance at the course with the instruction and appreciation of their peers, skilled pros and a mob of fans. Everyone was pleasantly surprised at the skill present, especially with a lot of young drivers, and cars we’d been seeing at meets and events were put through their paces on the course.

I actually hadn’t planned on attending previous to wednesday. I needed something to click around on with my left hand while i was eating lunch with the right one at work that day, and i usually indulge myself in some non-work-related surfing during the 8 seconds it takes me to swallow a balance bar whole and chase it with the last gulp of now-cold coffee from my morning starbucks run. I was poking around and found a thread with Vince asking for volunteers to help out during the event that saturday, in return for free admission. Since Eric was headed out of town, and Clint had mentioned something about camping, i figured i was ‘unattached’ for the weekend and threw my hat in the ring. Vince took me up on it and the rest, they say, is history! (boy, that was cheesy. and how about the run-on sentence in there? woo-oo! making my english teachers proud since 1990.)

So i was a late-joiner in the weekend festivities, but in true form for the crew up there, i never felt out of place, unwelcome, or like the last warm body to fill the roster. They rule like that. I piled in my Z after work friday with a bag full of Nissan-related tshirts, stopped and picked up another club guy, Eddie, in Burlington and was getting myself lost in Coquitlam, BC by 9pm, driving laps around a massive Ikea store so large it must have taken millions of Ikea staffers decades to assemble it with 2″ long disposable allen key wrenches. I blame yahoo maps for this, as on more than one occasion while following their apparently-not-so-astute directions i was told to take a freeway exit (ie: exit off TC 1 and onto Hwy 7) without being provided a direction to take on said freeway. Should i take north or south? East or west? Yahoo doesn’t know… They only understand “turn right’ and “turn left”, so i guess a freeway clovercleaf would just make the poor little yahoo map gnomes remove their pointy shoes and use them to poke their own eyes out. In lieu of risking such a tragedy, these “non-essential” sorts of driving direction informational bits have been removed, which is great if you’re on a strict toner budget, but not so great when you’re 5 exits the wrong way from your destination in a foreign country with questionable taste in beer. Anyway, found Vince’s house, dropped off gear, and then over to Colin and Ben’s in North Van for a few poker hands. We managed to fall face down onto Vince’s basement sofas by about 2.45am, with alarms set for 5am to have us readying the Driftfest venue first thing saturday morning. That was the night i got a little sleep.

Saturday was excellent, the pro drifters were amazing to watch on their exhibition runs – as with most sporting events, this was much more exciting live than it has ever been on a dvd, even an animated one. The sun baked us all day and most of us came home smelling of exhaust and wearing tire particulate in our hair. Just how the ladies like us to be, as i hear. By the time we’d spent 11 hours poking under hoods, cheering for our guys on the course, oogling car-show models, and trying to hide how dirty our cars were with a generous application of quick-detail spray, everyone was ready for a shower and a meal that didn’t involve condiment packets.

As luck would have it, Colin and co. had arranged a stag party (also known as a bachelor party, down south here in Fatkins-Diet-Land, but i’m going to stick with “stag” cause it’s shorter to type) for Gerry, who’s off to someplace exotic to get married the first part of september. They had one more seat in the limo and i got the invite, to which i said, “gosh, i dunno. you think it will be any fun? also, i’m afraid of luxury transportation.” NOT! So, yes, black super-stretch picks up Ben, Colin, Jeff, Zack, Brian, myself and the lucky Gerry and trucks us around Van, the driver being a very fun and understanding sort, willing to double-park while we piled out of the limo to chase down groups of girls walking between clubs and invoke their participation in one of our warped stag party rituals that centered mostly on embarassing Gerry and getting nice-looking women to join in on the fun. We started with dinner at the Keg, where my bacon-wrapped filet mignon was exactly what Dr Stomach ordered, and the female waitstaff took great care of us, definitely above-and-beyond the call of duty. Needless to say, their tip was huge. I should also point out at this time that the huge slackers visiting from oregon who were mere blocks away and for whom we had a whole, large table reserved (you think it was easy getting a res. for 14? our group of 8 would have spent much less time lingering in the granite slab entry had it not been for their dead weight!) that ended up going unoccupied when they were [whiny voice] too tired [/whiny voice] and went home to their hotel. Let it be stated for the record that they have disgraced the entire state of oregon with their piss-poor attitude and skewed priorities. Also let it be stated that people from oregon are wack and are all getting coal for christmas, and are permanently stag-party-blacklisted. As the court can plainly see, we were not impressed with oregon (even despite the positive effects of Tillamook) and their punishment needs to begin immediately and continue unfettered.

The most popular group activity ended up being a post-closing-time rush on still-drunk groups of female clubgoers whom we could convince to write a message on Gerry’s body with a black sharpie. By 4am when the limo dropped us off at home Gerry looked like he had fallen asleep on the floor of a tattoo parlor in Tijuana, and many, many good laughs had been had by all. That was, in fact, the eventual theme of the entire night: having a good laugh. Some of them were at Gerry’s expense, some at the expense of stupid girls who couldn’t figure out how to work a sharpie, some at each other, and some with no point at all. It was truly a wild time, a one-of-a-kind night filled with “now how often do you see that?” moments that continued to baffle us even the next day and with the sort of spontaneous fun and postcard comraderie that you always see in movies and think can’t be real (but, apparently, is… at least in Canada. No wonder they filmed X-Men 2 there).

In order to meet our goal of a straight 24-hours of guys’-day-out, a few rounds of Texas Hold’Em (which apparently, i have no idea how to play, but the alcohol my brain was floating in told me we could figure it out as we went along. Thankfully, it was a chips-only round) were enlisted to help us stretch the whirlwind night until 6am, before everyone found someplace to crash. For me, it was a recliner, draped in a sleeping bag. For Gerry, it was in fetal position on the front lawn.

With my overactive internal alarm clock being what it is, i was of course wide awake at 7.45, and even after a shower, some email-checking and some further dawdling i was still the only one awake (go fig) so i took a morning constitutional thru North Van. It was fun watching shop owners rolling out their awnings and sliding back iron gates – very storybook stuff. It was a sunny and perfect morning watching the city wake up, and i found myself thinking “i could totally live here.” I found a bagel shop that was open about 10 blocks away and they concocted for me the ultimate champion of all bagel breakfast combos, the bagel benedict. Poached egg, hollandaise sauce, and bacon on a toasted sesame bagel. Learn to love it now, cause that’s what they’ll be serving for breakfast every day in heaven. I brought scones back for the still-zonked crew (shhh, don’t tell them mine had bacon!) and slowly they appeared from underneath blankets and sweatshirts or, in Brian’s case, from the passenger seat of his car (new, picked up just that day, a 1990 Jspec Fairlady Z 2+2 turbo, immaculate and new, and with no alarm or anything yet – i would have slept in it, too.)

Eddie and i stuck around until 2p or so, hanging around for the once-over of the three new cars delivered just in time for the weekend: Brian’s Fairlady, Ben’s spanktastic blue R32 Skyline GTR, and the rally-style Pulsar GTi-R. Clearly the weekend was filled with things you don’t see every day, both in a life-moments way and an automotive way. Our trip home was plagued with inexplicably heavy traffic, border-crossing-queues that outlasted a Spielberg movie, and a constant wall of 80-degree heat to plow through (that’s hot here, ok?) but none of that dampened my mood and once i’d showered and had a 15 minute nap in fetal position on my front lawn i felt well rested and motivated to share my rockin’ weekend with the interweb. I will work on the pics to go with this story, although most of the really crazy stuff either defies photography or is covered under the stag-party “no one shall ever speak of this” clause, but there will def. be pix of the cars, you can bet all your chips on that, Tex. And i will mos.def. be getting back up there s’more to make more wild memories with my canuck crew and if someone wants to offer me a well-paying job that involves a paid relocation to North Van well, baby, you just might have found your guy.

I am teh stoopid

I have been so stupid this whole week. I can’t even begin. It’s a real miracle i’m still able to type, as my brain seems to have failed me in everything else lately. I guess typing is half muscle memory, though… not that those are extremely reliable, either. For a very self-reliant person such as myself, it can be very disturbing and outright frightening when the only person you ever really put any trust in – yourself – suddenly becomes undependable. At least someday when i get old and go crazy it won’t be a totally unfamiliar feeling.

So, you want examples, huh? Humorous anecdotes allowing you to laugh at my expense? Well, i guess that is why you’re here, after all, so i’ll indulge you. There have been lots of little things this week that just keep tightening the straighjacket one lace at a time:

I headed to opening day baseball monday without the two things i really needed: an umbrella for the drenching walk through south Seattle, and sunglasses for the inevitable roof opening. Now i pondered both these things before i left home, but somehow decided it wouldn’t rain and also wouldn’t not rain, so i would need neither. In Seattle you always need one of those, usually both. I chose none. Stupid.

Bought my parking pass for April on friday, and put it “somewhere safe” until i was in the truck again. Promptly forgot about it. Remembered this morning, and then couldn’t find it. Looked in my work bag, then tore the house apart, then found it in the work bag 20 minutes later, suddenly no longer invisible. Set it on the counter so i wouldn’t forget it… and walked out of the house without it. Left my truck running in the driveway, door open, heater on, while i searched the house for it once again. Surprise…it was on the counter. Stupid.

Monday’s iPod fiasco. Ugh. I’m still mad at myself for this one. So – in case you forgot – it’s half worked for the last year. Plays music, charges battery, but won’t talk to Powerbook. So no changing the music collection or playlists. But still usable. Apple store techs said it needed a new logic board, and i found one on ebay last week for $35 – sweet! It came on monday. This is where the story goes briefly uphill, and then plummets straight back down. Installed new logic board, wasn’t that hard. It worked! I couldn’t believe it. I was giddy with joy! Synced right up to the Powerbook, was all set to slap some new songs on there, so exciting! Then i got greedy… and this is where the regret starts. Makes me sick just thinking about it. I thought maybe i should install that update (iPod software update 2005-03-23); probably cool features i didn’t have, and other goodies! I mean it’s working perfectly and requires no update, but i can’t miss out on free features! Right? Stupid. The update totally busted it, now it’s hung in a boot loop with a fried OS. No syncing, no charging, no music… 100% less iPod than before. So stupid. Ugh. I hate myself for this one.

You think i’m done? Ha. Tuesday is errand day, and as it’s officially spring now the skis are headed to storage, and the summer gear is coming out. Plus the stock rims/tires from the Z need a better home than my itty bitty garage. Loaded the Pathy all up with junk. Yes, i did remember to loosen the ski bindings, thanx to Gabe for that. Word to the fellow stupid-heads out there: if you’re going to be an idiot at least have friends that are willing to nag you about taking proper care of your stuff. Anyway, i haul my sorry self and a big pile of gear down to Renton (30 miles) and just as i reach the exit, i realize the key to my storage unit padlock is still at home in Edmonds. U-turn, an hour in traffic back home. Retrieved key from counter where i left it so i wouldn’t forget it (perhaps i need a new “don’t forget this” spot?) and spent an hour in traffic driving back down there. Oh, and 30 dollars in gas, too. Yeah, that was awesome. I am so stupid.

So we’ve concluded that i’m stupid. Yes, standardized test scores cannot compete with this kind of emperical data. Anyone who was counting on me growing up to be a nuclear physicist might want to invest their stock in someone a little more likely to succeed, like or that guy.

Only 44 more shopping days!

I was at Ikea yesterday, looking for a dishwasher brush for the new place (haven’t needed one of those in a long time – a purchase i’m happy to make) . No, i haven’t moved in yet, but i like to be prepared. I might want to use the dishwasher my first day! Anyway, in addition to the usual baubles and trinkets that always catch my eye as i traverse the unfinished-wood maze that is Ikea, i couldn’t help but dawdle in the newly-furbished Christmas decoration section. All sorts of shiny things and fuzzy stuff, some things that burn and some that flash, some things in plastic, or metal, or wood, or glass… all for prices that keep you merry thru the new year. With arms already full of coat hangers and bbq brushes in addition to the requisite dishwasher implement (all things i desperately needed, i assure you – those who laugh must never have been to Ikea and undergone the Scandanavian forces of persuasion) i paused to marvel at the low-low prices and make mental note to acquire a cart (or at least, a big yellow bag) at the store entrance on my next trip, so as not to limit my wanton consumerism to only that which i could physically carry. I may not be spending much time this holiday season at home (either here in Seattle or home-home, in Montana) so i will likely allow myself to spend extra money to compensate with an overly mirth-laden abode. Plus, i love this time of year more than any other, especially in the city, even despite the increasingly hectic and hair-tearing-out whirlwind it usually is. A chance to visit family, to share quality time with friends, to send gifts and/or warm words to those i care about… to eat more varieties of pie and in greater quantities than is possible during any other period of festivity. Who could not love that?

In case you haven’t already seen it, memorized it, and rescheduled your life around it, my Christmas wishlist is available and constantly updated for your shopping ease. I’ve tried to fill it with things that are fun to buy as well as to receive, nothing too practical or boring, and varied enough in price to satisfy any budget while still being realistic. There are of course a few dream items, should any of you win the lottery before i have a chance to, and feel the need to spoil me this Christmas outside of the normal parameters of casual gift-giving. If you really want to surprise me with something extravagant, tho, you might wish to venture beyond the boundaries of the list. For example, my Z would love you as much as i if you indulged us both in a set of Professor SP-1’s by japanese wheel-maker SSR. I need 18×9’s in the front, and 18×10’s in the back, in the black chrome finish. No idea which offset is correct – if you can figure that out you’re better at math than me. Feel free to choose the center caps you prefer, in order to further personalize your generous bestowal. Here’s a nice preview picture i put together using gimp today at work, showing just how freakishly awesome that would look. In addition to being increasingly stylish and sexy, these wheels would also make my car faster, as they’re lighter (less than 20 lbs each without tires!). Really, it’s a win-win situation for everyone. I don’t know what’s left to hold you back.

Danielle is also in the Christmas mood today, calling to invite me over for dinner and an evening of pretending-it’s-almost-Christmas with pot roast and gingerbread cookies. Since it never really looks like winter here (other than a few days ago when it was really foggy, and reminded me of what a snowstorm looks like) the line between fall and winter is kind of blurry and easily adjusted to fit your mood. For example, if it’s a crisp, sunny day and you want to drive your car around town with the t-tops off (this is just a random example, of course) then you can tell yourself it’s fall. However if, like Danielle is today, you’re in the mood for cookies that have eyes and the liberal use of sprinkles, then you can proclaim winter to be upon us, and indulge in the appropriate festivities. So, in the spirit of the latter, don’t hestiate to keep tabs on my wishlist and check back often for new and cool items!