Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pike Place Market And Fun

I took the kids down to the market today to see the street fair. It was pretty interesting, crowded but not bad. It reminded me of everything I missed about living downtown (walking the streets, people watching, lots of coffee and food) and everything I did not (homeless guys coughing on me, homeless women making comments about my whiteness, basically homeless people bothering me. Though I do miss gravely-voiced crackhead. He was great.)

We walked all around the market, saw some fun stuff, and got vegan cinnamon rolls! It was fun. I'm glad I live where I do, especially for the kids. But someday I want to live downtown again. Mostly for the food and coffee. But also for the walks around the city, and the fun feel you get on a Sunday afternoon in a big city. The city is alive, and energetic. I love the craziness, even if the homeless people frighten and bother me a little. They bother me a lot less than the drunken rednecks I grew up fearing, to be honest. I basically don' t deal well with shouting or drinking. Which explains why I stay out of bars, and hockey arenas. And Wisconsin.

The Pike Place Market is also the perfect place to see some fun people. Everyone from old hippies doing versions of magic tricks obviously thought up when stoned to red-faced tourists expecting emboldened liberals will jump out and gay marry them from behind a bush. It's fun. They see me with tattoos and kids and can't decide if I'm evil or good. I imagine most people think I'm a strange character, and few guess that I'm a stay at home dad. Or maybe they do, I don't know. I need a tattoo that says that. It'll look a little silly when I'm sixty, but I'll just tattoo on "grand" in front of dad. I'll still mostly stay at home. I'm not terribly employable.

So, when visiting Seattle, be sure to watch people and drink coffee and eat vegan treats at the Market. I'll be there walking around too, if it's one of those five days a year. Otherwise I'm staying at home.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Three Forks Park And Rock Skipping Course

We visited Three Forks Park again today. It's a great spot, seriously one of my favorite places I have ever been. It has mountains and rivers, basically, so it's perfect. It reminds me a lot of the places I love in WV, but with panoramic views of the Cascades surrounding it. We are over on that side of the county because Jaime has a clinic shift in Carnation, and without that I never would have discovered the awesome places over there. Today included skipping rocks on the river and vintage motorcycles. If most of my days included those two activities with my kids and friends, I would be happy. Herc and Sarah came along for rock throwing and general hanging out. Arkaedi even said "Sarah" a few times, which was cute. This week she has added blueberries and belly button. So, Sarah is a natural next word.

Throwing rocks in water is one of Viri's favorite pastimes, and it is quickly becoming one of Arkaedi's. She was in super cut toddler mode again today. She made for an easy evening too. She played "toddle around and giggle at myself" for a bit, then climbed up into bed and fell asleep. If every day was that easy I would sign up for a thousand more kids. Having gorgeous summer days like today would help too. Although I can't keep enough water and food on hand for them anymore. The really eat and drink a ton on these hot days. They are Seattle kids, trained to expect constant water falling from the sky, and fresh organic food every ten paces. The desolate wilderness of eastside is a challenge. I'm bringing a full portable kitchen staff next time.

We ended the day with a re-watching of Ratatouille. Viri is at the age where he is starting to enjoy it. We argued for a bit about the rats. He insists they are simply old or wet bunnies. I argued for a bit, but then I gave up. I can't win an argument with him, and I eventually realize I have been saying things like "No, the RAT is cooking, there is no bunny!" and "Even old bunnies wouldn't have long thin tails!" to a three year old.

I did get many "I love you, Papa" statements and everyone in bed by nine. So I sort of did win the day. They'll rest up to challenge me again tomorrow. I'm able to maintain official Papa status as long as I can still throw a rock further across the river than my kids. So, eight or nine more years!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hierarchy Of The Barker Clan

I'm at the bottom of the chain of command of our family. I realized this the moment Viri was born. I thought, possibly, that I could move up to second to last when the next kid came, but that was obviously ridiculous. I'm still at the bottom. It currently goes like this:

Dr. Jaime, Commander-in-Chief. The undisputed leader.

Viri, Generalissimo. In his words, he is Commander of Earth (where my house lives) and West Virginia, Seattle, and California (which is fun-fun.)

Arkaedi Sue. Pretty Princess and Head of State. All power really rests with J, and Pretty is the figurehead. But she pouts if you tell her that. And shouts for General Bubba, aka Viri.

Ryan. Assistant Janitor Trainee (Probationary)

I don't foresee any changes to the command structure in my lifetime. Actually, I'd better hold off having kids, because I can only go down. At least now I am fourth, which sounds better than last. If it were the Presidential order of succession, I'd be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton!

(And speaking of that: WV Senator Byrd is third in line now. Wow. I really don't think I'd trust any of us WVians as President. But, hey, good for Byrd. He must be 137 years old.)

This has been an insane week for our family though. Busy, and rushed. We are all anxious for Jaime to be graduated. It's under a month away! I will heave a huge sigh of relief. Then get on to my next chapter of Waiting for Jaime.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Carkeek And Arkaedi Lessons In The Mellowness

I spent a very pleasant day at Carkeek park today. I'm getting to be a regular there. It's an amazing place, and I highly recommend it. It's quickly becoming my favorite Seattle spot. Well, my favorite non-food Seattle spot. The favorites would be Mighty-O and Wayward, followed by a lot of parks. I would be a liar if I said my absolute top spot in Seattle didn't include coffee.

The summertime reminds me of the fun of Seattle, as well as the craziness. The park was packed tonight, and people were crazy. It gets a little sunny here and people start driving like maniacs and shouting. It's like they are suddenly in a film about LA. Relax, my friends. We are still mellow Seattlites, lost in our own thoughts. Perhaps we should mellow? Here, check out a mellow Arkaedi Sue:

See? She knows how to do it.

Speaking of Arkaedi Sue, she is into full toddler mode. It's really fun. She is racing with Viri, and throwing rocks into puddles. Viri is only a few months away from having a real playmate who can keep up with him. Which is making my job a ton easier. Even with Viri starting the exploration of his big kid boundaries, things have been easier lately. Maybe it's just the nice weather. Either way, I'll take it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

You're Going To Be Okay. Just Dance.

As Haruki Murakami put it. "Dance. So it all keeps spinning."

Sayings of Susan

I actually used an old line of my mother's today, in exactly the situation she would have. I was preparing my kids for bedtime, and Viri was fussing. He said the standard "I'm not tired," and without pausing I said, "Well I'm tired of ya, so it's bedtime." I must have heard that a million times growing up, and I hadn't thought of it in years. It brought up fond memories, oddly. I guess the remembrance of being forced to go to bed is nice, even as the experience was, to my young mind, traumatic.

I do a lot of things differently than my mother did. I would never subject my kids to the bedtime song. (The complete transcript: "B-E-D-T-I-M-E, HA HA HA!" The pitch and speed increased as bedtime became closer.) The song is seared into my head as a death knell, but again I remember it with some fondness. The distance, and understanding of the joys of your children going to sleep after twelve hours of craziness, changes my perspective.

One of the things that is hardest about losing a parent young is the experiences that you have that allow you to relate to them are not able to be shared. Having two small kids, I get a lot of what mom was always saying. Even if I am quite different in many ways in my parenting style, and we are really different in our life experiences, I still come out with some of the things I heard as a boy from her.

Actually, maybe the bedtime song isn't such a bad idea. I really could get into the HA HA HA chorus.

Friday, May 22, 2009

We Fear Change

When I was a wee punk rock lad of 19, things were different. Crust punks were skinny, not huge. (Jaime: "Maybe it's a west coast thing? Like the big raccoons?") Punk rock clothing was random and optional, not available in malls, and emo meant intense screamy music for hardcore kids.

At some point, this changed. I was in the University District today. Which, as I have written before, one should never do. But, this was for Pizza Pi, so it was worth it. It was for Italian Melt Sammichs, so definitely worth it. So, in addition to vegan yumminess, we encountered the giant gutter punks. (Which, now that I think of it, may have a lot to do with Pizza Pi...) And we saw the usual gaggle of fashion shows, from generic hippie ("Peace Love and Wander About Aimlessly!") to the increasingly frustrating "emo" kid.

I admit, I fear and hate change. So, when it comes to the metamorphosis of the term emo to mean pasty semi-goth kids with horrible indie rock and dagger sharp hair, I am angered and nauseated. I think I may have vomited in rage.

Why did this term escape us? How did they get their pudgy little hands on it? Who lets them out of the house looking like that?

I'll accept some stuff as my fault. Straight edge was all righteous rage, that turned into strange gangsta hoodlum-core. Okay, we could have seen that coming. Anarcho-primitivist earth firsters were self-righteous suburban kids on activist vacations, we could have guessed they would have flown off to the post-apocalyptic Mad Max gatherings in Oregon. We struck out there. But the emo thing? That was insanely unexpected. (Okay the chubby crust kids kinda gets me too.)

I think there has been a conspiracy. Some CIA guy way down on the totem pole infiltrated the hardcore scene, decided he was mad at his superiors, then started this crazy project with his buddies in the goth and indie rock divisions. They concocted it all, and since it was the Bush years, no one was paying any attention to the intelligence community. Now they are assigned to another department, and we are stuck with Fall Out Boy.

If Obama unearths this and ships every guy with a flop to Guantanamo, I'm voting for him.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mountains And Rivers (And A Discussion Without End)

I'm really into Harpers Ferry lately. Jaime and I have a continuing debate about where to live and why, and I continually look up Harpers Ferry and get really excited. I like the town, of course. It's on the Appalachian Trail, it's at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. It's a short trip to DC for my vegan food and social networks. It's got a lot of what I want. It's too small, really, but with the nearness of everything back east I wouldn't feel like it. (And it really is small. Not thirty thousand people small. Three hundred people small. After living in Seattle, with a metro area of over three million, that us unimaginable. Three hundred people live within fifty feet of me. )

I miss the east, though. I feel silly for it. I don't feel like I should miss it. I'm not a history buff, and I don't like humidity. But the honest truth is I miss it. I need to live within a decent distance of culture and food, so I need a city. I also don't want insane traffic and crime, so I need some distance. And those green rolling hills of WV...

The cannons are optional.

I have no idea where J and I will end up. I like Seattle, and I could take settling down here. I admit, objectively, that it is a better place for the kids to grow up. Easier, at least. We do have mountains and rivers here, and I enjoy them. They don't feel the same, though. Here it is harsh, intense and beautiful. In WV, it is simpler. The land is comfortable and human sized. The scale is reduced, and everything seems to fit my personality better. I'm at a loss as to what to do, but I do look up information about Harpers Ferry a good deal more than anything else. Maybe it's a good sign. Or maybe it's a chance for me to find something that turns me away from it for good. Either way, we need to decide in the next few months if we are staying here or moving. I'm not up for the decision yet, certainly. Harpers Ferry sure is pretty, though. I need to get a cannon.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My New Favorite Player

The Mariners had a great walk off win tonight, and I got to hear it on the radio. It was a great game all around, the kind of game where you just knew they were going to come through with a win. It meant they took the series from the Red Sox, too, which is always great. (If you live in Boston, congratulations for having a good team and supporting them. If you live anywhere outside of New England and wear Red Sox gear, then boo to you, sir or madam.)

I also have a new favorite player, as the photo at the top of this post will tell you. It's new Mariner Mike Sweeney. I don't know much about him, except that he is a longtime Royal and getting ready to retire. But I heard a radio story about him babysitting Mariner's catcher Rob Johnson's baby boy so that Rob and wife could have a date, and I was impressed. Okay, so I am mostly a stay at home dad, and I have a lot of love for people that don't pawn their kids off to daycare forty hours a week, sure. But a major league player volunteering to watch a baby for a teammate? That is first class. You are awesome, Sweeney. You get extra cheers from me.

This game also had some great defense, which doesn't translate quite as well on the radio. Overall, baseball is the perfect game for the radio, but I do have to check out video highlights of the great defensive plays. It says a lot about me that my two favorite baseball plays are throwing out a runner, and hits after intentional walks. I like justice and redemption, apparently. Tonight had both, with a game winning hit after an intentional walk to Ichiro. I love when the hitter makes you pay for thinking he is an easy out.

This is all I ask from baseball. I don't need a World Series champion, or even a perennial playoff winner. I just want good games, with some great plays, and some nice numbers to look at in the box score. (Ichiro's hitting .321, by the by)

I won't make my Father's Day game, since J is getting crowned Dr. Jaime the next day. Maybe I'll catch Minnesota the first week of June. I need to cheer on Mike Sweeney, show him he has the stay at home dad support. He'll appreciate that.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

There Were Times Like Before

I have really reworked my music collection in the past few years. I haven't added a ton, but I have filed away a good portion to digital storage. Or purgatory. I don't really listen to a lot of music that I listened to in college, much less high school. I occasionally listen to a song here and there, and Jaime listens to more than I do, so I hear it. I feel like they do not have the resonance with me they did, even the ones I can still artistically appreciate. The few I can artistically appreciate, I should say. The one band I will periodically dust off and really enjoy is Avail. Jaime has a real soft spot for them, since she hung out with them more than me. She even helped them with their Japanese during their tour in Osaka. She has some funny stories of karaoke with bewildered Japanese girls and tattooed Virginia boys that I still get a kick out of hearing. That was in '98, I believe, which seems like a really long time ago. Of course, I first heard Satiate in 1992, almost exactly 17 years ago, which really seems a long time ago. I greatly enjoyed the first four albums they did, and didn't hear anything after that.

I don't know what it is about that band. The music is fun, and pretty good, but they don't blow you away with amazing work. There is just a consistent quality about the sound, and a relevancy to the lyrics that most punk rock, and especially most of that era, miss. They weren't exceptionally ponderous or dull, or pseudo-poetic. I can't take a lot of the early 90s hardcore now for that reason; so much of it sounds like it was written for an English class with an especially pompous professor. Avail was made up of reasonably smart but normal guys. They embodied a style we (mostly) jokingly referred to as "southern hardcore," and defined how I dressed to this day. If you see me on a normal day, I am wearing Dickies, a black tee, a boy scout belt, with a hoodie or simple fleece zip up. I don't wear boots as much, simply because I need running shoes to chase my kids. But I dress how I dressed in 1992 when I first heard of Avail, and saw they dressed like me. The only difference is I typically don't wear the shop shirt. I still have a closet full, though. I could break 'em out at any time.

When my kids ask me about my high school and college experience, I think I'll be honor bound to point them towards Avail. If I am totally honest with myself, they were the band that I liked the best, and listened to the most. That's not bad; there are a lot worse bands out there. There are probably better, I suppose. But there are none that my young self more resembled or appreciated.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You'll Miss It

I sat in on a Conscious Fathering class today, a class that I'm preparing to teach. It was really interesting, with some great information about the first few months of being a father. The one thing I wanted to say to the dads was that they will miss that early time.

You don't think about it, and you might think you'll be glad it is done. But I miss the baby smell, and the tiny little person. I'm glad they don't stay that way. Children grow up, they move away. (Sometimes, as Woody Allen reminds us, to ridiculous places like Cincinnati, or Boise, Idaho.) I'm glad my kids are growing. But enjoy that baby time, dads.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Viri Has A Room

He won't use it, of course. But he does have a room. And mere minutes after getting his own room, he ran in and slammed the door in a pout. I think that is a record. So far he does love playing in it, though, and keeping Arkaedi Sue from destroying everything. It's really cute to watch him arranging it. He is a Jaime junior.

I have a new favorite Viri quote too. We were at the PCC today, and we walked past a sign. It had a girl, just a normal woman, standing there. Viri looks at it, shakes his head, and says, "That stupid girl." And walks on. Okay, Viri... and What?!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Action Ryan! With Kung Fu Grip!

I have a few jobs that I would love, if myself, or the world, where slightly different. These are jobs that I have no way of doing, basically, but have some level of fantasy about performing. Some, like the police/military ones, I couldn't do because I can't imagine supporting the government or institution to which they are attached. Some, like the musical ones, I just don't have the talent or youth or experience necessary. In no particular order, these are:

1. Parody songwriter. Like Weird Al. I like comedy, and I like songs. This would be fun. And less pretentious than:

2. Country music legend. I want Willie Nelson to bring me out on stage to riotous applause. He won't, of course. But it would be awesome.

3. Bodyguard. Not totally out there, I guess. I've always had a fantasy about protecting people. I'm kind of lazy and forgetful, though, so that could end badly. I'd better stick to kids. They don't need me to carry a gun.

4. Hip hop artist. Yeah, this is really not going to happen. But I would love to have Kanye West bring me out to loud cheers and booty clappin.

5. Secret Service agent. This is my most realistic one, for a few reasons. I could imagine actually joining the Treasury department, for one. They don'y do too many objectionable things, and they get to protect someone. It fits into my bodyguard fantasy, too, and for the same reasons it probably isn't a good idea for the president to count on me. Especially Mr. Obama, he seems cool. He deserves better. Call me when Jeb Bush gets elected.

6. Butler. This is weird, I admit. I don't know what else to say.

7. Hermit monk. Gotta be the hermit kind. I don't want people bugging me about enlightenment.

8. Starship captain. The least possible, obviously. But if we build a super advanced starship in the next few years, I might give it a try. I've got my "Lock photon torpedos and fire at will" voice down pretty well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I, Uh... Don't Know Them

The recent Star Trek movie has reminded me of a list I started compiling a few months ago. The list is made up of things which I technically am, or am involved in, and yet do not want to associate with other members of. Star Trek fans is on the list. I am a fan of the shows, and the movies. I like the universe. But I do not associate with Star Trek fans, or acknowledge them in any way.

Obviously this is not one hundred percent. I don't shun people who are fans of the show. I just make an extra effort to avoid the crowd. There is an ever growing list of these things, and it concerns me a bit. It says something about either me, or the members of these groups. Remember, I consider myself a member of these groups, at least technically. The list, off the top of my head and in order of most avoided, is this.

1. Straight edge kids. You get a pass if I've known you for more than ten years. Otherwise, I see a sXe patch, I'm running.

2. Vegans. Again, I am vegan. I like being vegan. But unless I have known you since college, if you are vegan I probably don't want much to do with you. If veganism is central to your identity, I am more concerned.

3. Politically active, especially anarchist. I know, I am condemned to sit in a sensitivity workshop, and come to a consensus about my lack of engagement and "lifestylism" that has led me to sell out. But I won't. In fact, I will hide from you. If you drag me to a sit in against my will, I will be forced to explain that the members of the anarchist community are the greatest reason anarchism is impractical. I still love the idea; but you people ruin it.

There are actually a few more, some more obscure than others. But people who write long blogs could be on this list easily, and I'm trying to prevent becoming a member of that crowd.

PS. Miffy is a sweet little bunny.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Boldly Went

I got to see the new Star Trek movie today, and like most of the reviews I've read, I have to say it is awesome. I didn't think I would have time to see it, but last minute I ran out and caught the seven pm showing. If I didn't see it today, I'd have to wait for a few weeks, and I was too excited about this film to wait. I wasn't disappointed. It was very different from previous incarnations, which is a good thing. I love Star Trek. I really do. But it needed a shot in the arm, and this movie was that.

There were the fun nods to the past series, with some catch phrases placed in certain scenes. It was a gesture to the fan community, to explain that they loved the old stuff, no offense gentlemen, but we're doing our own thing. And it really worked. The characters were fun, the performances were spot on, and it was exciting and fun.

We went to the old Neptune theater, which I haven't visited in a while. It's a great old theater, and a surprisingly nice place to see a film. We sat in the balcony, which is the place to be in both Cinerama and the Neptune. Mostly because I'm short.

This movie will easily be one of my favorites, I can already tell. It's just what I want from a film: Fun, some nice action, good characters that I care about. Plus, there is a sword fight in the upper atmosphere. Who doesn't love that?

So, go see it. You'll have fun.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Extreme Mellowness Advised

I am a huge fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and among the various episodes there are few as awesome as Riding With Death. The movie itself is a cobbled together monstrosity from two episodes of the 70s TV show "Gemini Man." I doubt that the title made any sense even in context, but "Riding With Death" is silly enough, I suppose. The movie paints a picture of the 70s as a dark horrible time, like an American bubonic plague of idiocy and horrible clothes. I understand that is fairly accurate. I only had to see a few brief years of the 70s, and I was spared. I'll take the worst episode of "Charles in Charge" over "Gemini Man," and so would you, I imagine.

I have watched this a million times. It's really easy to get into, and repeat viewings just make the various jokes better. Plus, we get the swine flu jokes in a new way now in 2009. I challenge anyone to find a more quotable episode of MST3K. Some of my favorites:

"Casey was pumping Buffalo for..."
"Pumping Buffalo?!"

"You're as elusive as Robert Denby!"

"I'm Ben Murphy!"

"Well, it's hardly worth it, but... Boo!"

"Shut up! Everybody shut up!"

"The defiant loads."

"Executive story consultant? Yes, I advise you to hire the most annoying cracker you can find, and slam together too incomprehensible stories."

"Any similarity to actual persons would be really sad."

Seriously, check this out. It will be fun. I promise.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Our House Is Soggy

We got a ton of water flowing, uninvited, into our bedroom. All of the things got moved away, into the living room. Or den, if you are into that kind of labeling. The kids and J are sleeping in the living room now, and I am in the office surrounded by stuff that belongs in the bedroom. It's fun, oddly, but irritating. Fun is often irritating to me.

It's our first experience of a flooded room in Seattle. It happens, and sometimes it's even dangerous. We were nowhere near that kind of excitement. We simply got a really wet carpet and moved our stuff. No big deal, really. It even inspired me to do another round of cleaning and donating. When stuff you didn't even know you had gets wet, it feels a little silly to have it. I'm ready to simplify.

These kinds of disruptions to our routine can be good for me. I'm not a terribly motivated person, and I get into my little routines quickly, and stay in them until a crisis, or a child, shakes me up. This has some advantages, certainly. But there are downsides too. Strange events like this remind me to stay prepared, because you really don't know what the day will bring.

So, hopefully all will dry out and be well tomorrow. We have powerful heaters and fans working for us, so there is cause for optimism. I spent the day not really worried about where to live, so that was a plus. I spent the day feeling like no matter where I live, I'll be okay. There will be daily work, a little rest, rare crises. It will be stuff that happens, no matter what. That's a good take home from any day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mariners Take Another Series...Without Me

I watched 12 innings of a fantastic 15 inning baseball game tonight. I had to rush home, due to tired children and baths and dishes and such. I didn't mind, really. I'm happy the Mariners won. It would have been fun to actually see the winning run score, but 12 innings of baseball free of child wrangling, with a good friend, under a lovely spring sky in Seattle is pretty fine, regardless.

Safeco Field is the perfect place to spend a spring day. It's an amazing ballpark, with great sight lines, good crowds. Today was in the 60s and sunny, the stadium was mostly filled. It was an awesome day to be at the ballpark. Even the preponderance of silly things like the wave, and CGI boat races can't ruin an experience at Safeco. I seriously hate these things. I understand the kids get a kick out of them, and that's fine. But I am a purist. Give me a nice big screen for replays and lists of stats, and leave the rest of the stuff out of it. I like the opening of the game, the national anthem (even if we do have a stupid anthem) and the first pitch. I like the seventh inning stretch, if only because my knees are killing me after a few hours. I'll tolerate "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," even if it's a little silly. Can we all just agree, though, to mostly leave the day for baseball? CGI boat races on the big screen, extended editions of "God Bless America," these are not why most of us came to the park. The wave, especially after hours of sitting, is definitely not why I came to the ballpark.

Today's game was why most of us came to the park. A game-tying home run by Kenji Johjima in the ninth, bunt singles. Ichiro tying the game again in the 13th. Jose Lopez getting another walk off hit. That is the way the game is played, gentlemen. Good job. As Viri might say, you are all, each of you, very useful engines. Now let us go forth, and in our own ways be very useful engines unto the world.

Okay he wouldn't say 'unto.' But he would say that was a fine, fine ballgame. I'll be taking myself out to another one soon.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mister Buff And The Legion Of Doom

I'm exercising. That's it. I have no qualifying term. I can't say "a lot," or "for the first time." I've often exercised a little, now I am continuing to exercise a little, only on a slightly quicker schedule. I'm having fun with it, though, and that is new. For the first time since I played baseball as a teenager, I like exercising. There are a few reasons for this, the most important being that I am doing it on my schedule, with my goals in mind. The gym people stare at me scornfully, but I enjoy forty-five minute workouts. I like my little routine. I think it's having good effects, too. I feel better, I look better. I'm still around my new normal weight of 185, which is okay. I kinda sorta have a goal of getting down to 175, but I'm in no hurry. I've always been a fairly solid guy, and with some weight training, I'm gaining a little muscle. So, as long as my weight isn't hanging in rolls over my belt, I'm not watching the scales.

Exercise is a weird thing. There is an all or nothing mentality in this country, and exercise really stirs people up, for some reason. I don't really get that. It's just something to do to keep in shape, when you don't have a ton of physical activity in your life. Or, like me, when you want to eat a Mighty-O donut a few times a week.

So, I'm working on staying healthy. Or at least in better shape. I like that I can run now, and that my aches are fewer. And that when I have aches, they sometimes come from actual physical work, and not just years of laziness. The years of laziness are behind me. Ahead of me: less laziness, more donuts, and playing baseball with my kids without wheezing.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Seattle Tip of the Week Three: Sound Language

Seattle is a pretty smart city. I like that, by and large. I enjoy the fact that I don't need to define my terms in a casual conversation, or explain what vegan means. I got really tired of that over the years. Living in rural West Virginia, you develop an appreciation for education when you finally meet it. Irrelevant to that opening statement, here is a picture of Pretty Sue at Carkeek park.

Then, there is the dark side. The correctors and the know it alls. They flock to locations in Seattle, ready to scowl disapprovingly at you for your errors, or correct you with layers of condescending facial expressions until you are more knowledgeable and annoyed than you were previously. This is a well known Seattle trait, and people often comment on it, apparently under the mistaken assumption that mentioning something makes it less of a problem.

One of my favorite examples of this is the Puget Sound. I often, casually, refer to it as a the ocean, or the bordering sand as the beach. This is a gigantic affront to the water, I have learned. Although it seems to me to be technically correct, it is not appropriate. Some of the weird corrections I get make sense, if they are irritating. Some parents yell at me about the level of clothing my kids wear; one woman practically threatened me once when Viri went out on a pier at Green Lake without me. But this makes no sense. Why does anyone care? I often get the same look as Arkaedi Sue when people do this:

This is one thing I won't miss about Seattle, if I ever move. Oddly enough, I will really miss the sound itself. I'm sorry, I mean the ocean.