Monday, May 29, 2006

Must Be Summer in Seattle...

Rain. I love rain. Right now the windows in Casa GVB are wide open and it is POURING outside. I'd worry about the gutters and the roof and the leak in the shed, but this ain't my house anymore. Screw it.

Still, rain sucks when you are dreaming about a long bike ride on a Sunday morning. The plan was to take the GVB Family up to see the progress on the framing of the New Casa GVB, stay behind with the Fuji, and weave together a couple of my favorite rides for a 50 mile total back to this crumbling pile of rural living. Not gonna happen. It rained all night, and when I rolled out of bed at o-dark-thirty it was still raining. Hard.

So I spent the morning packing boxes (Shit I have a lot of books) and watching for the NOAA-promised "partly cloudy" weather that was supposed to fill my afternoon.

Rain. Slugs started populating the garage.

Mrs GVB: "Hey, Grouch-o. Go do something."
GVB: "It's totally raining."
Mrs GVB: "Perceptive. It's Seattle. It does this sometimes."
GVB: (looks sadly at the Fuji hanging in the garage above the boxes of books he's just packed): "50 miles in this rain? No thanks."
Mrs GVB: "Do something ELSE"
GVB: (looks at Mrs GVB)
Mrs GVB: "Not that."

So I did what I usually do during bad weather...I went to the climbing gym and hoped they hadn't canceled my membership in the 3 weeks I'd been away.

Oh, look, dozens of new climbs that can kick my ass. Fun. I worked some new boulder problems for an hour or so, took a nice fall from a lieback move, knocked the wind out of myself, and then drove gingerly home with my inhaler at the ready.

Still, felt good to pull plastic again. Will get back down there this week and finish off that lieback bullshit. Why do they let 15 year old boys with 6.5 foot wingspans set routes?

Home to find both kids sound asleep on the floors of their respective bedrooms...we bought you beds why? So I Nanoed up and went for a run in the rain. A very nice 7 mile out-and-back route across the Rez. I won't miss running here, though. Unleashed drunken dogs, speeding Ford pickups, and signs that say "Trespassers will be Totally Fucking Killed" don't inspire much but fear in me.

Here's the weirdness of today's run: 3.5 miles out: 24:46. 3.5 miles back 24:47. No lie. Think my pace was working? Sheesh.

Congrats to Al B for his 3:42 in the Buffalo Marathon. That's something like an 8:30 pace, yes? Kick ass.

Happy Whatever Federal Holiday This Is.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Heavy Lifting

Really. Some of this stuff is heavy. The offical "Get Out of Casa GVB" date has been moved up. Homelessness is pending on June 10th. So we're moving out on the 9th. Friday.

So all you able-backed folks within 3,000 miles of the Tulalip Indian Reservation are invited to move furniture from the inside of my house to a packing container in the driveway.

Incentives? Ok...

First, let's talk working conditions. No stairs. Wide hallways. No actual packing. We're talking only furniture. No refrigerators. No trucks. No unloading (well, until September).

In return? Food, beer, Jack Johnson music, and the chance to hide things in the house for the new owners to discover.

See you there.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Why I Love TiVO

Al Bangorhard inquires as to my TiVO preferences. TV is a wasteland, he says. I'm a TV whore. I love it. I endlessly mock my colleagues and students who claim they "never watch TV" because it is so mind-numbing. Surely they're all busy consuming high culture and reading Shakespeare. Bullshit. TV rocks.

Well, that's not true. I suffer through live TV these days. In hotels I sit on the edge of the bed looking for the Fast Forward button ("da-dink, da-dink"). When I have the misfortune to sit down in front of a live show, I become painfully aware of how much time is lost to commercials. I think it's safe to say that without TiVO I wouldn't watch much TV at all.

Oh, and I like the little TiVO mascot who sits on top of the menu screen and waves his little antennae at me. "Hi There."

Ok, so let's see what's on the "Now Playing" list:

•9 weeks worth of "Survivor", which is only interesting when someone loses their mind, and the rest can be Super Fast Forwarded ("da-dink, da-dink, da-dink"). We know who won, so these will go unwatched.
•Sex and the City reruns from TBS. Because I love shows about blowjobs and STDs. In fact, this is how we refer to the show in our house, "You wanna watch the Blowjob Show or Survivor?"
•Reruns of Chappelle's Show, all in hopes of seeing the episode with "Ask a Gay Dude" on it.
•CSI Miami. Duh. Hot chicks, bad acting, worse writing. How can you not love it?
•Numbers. I am secretly in love with Rob Morrow. Sorry Al.
•Family Guy. Duh. "Whose leg do you have to hump to get a dry martini around here?"
•American Dad.
•Girls Gone Wild. Who ordered this? Oops. Delete.
•American Idol. I really don't care how much you mock me on this one. Elliott Yamin kicks ass, and I will watch his rendition of "A Song for You" as often as I like. Bite me.
•The Daily Show. The best source for fake news on TV. Plus Lewis Black.
•The Colbert Report. I'm still trying to figure out the appeal of Colbert, but he has some good guests on...

What is more interesting than what I tell TiVO to grab from space for me are the choices it makes based on...what...ESP? My credit report?

•South Park. This show stopped being funny a long time ago. But it's on ALL THE TIME. There are always three or four episodes waiting for me. I watch anything that heavily features Chef. Chocolate Salty Balls.
•MASH. Late at night, this show is still pretty good. I love their idea of a martini. Gin in a glass.
•Girls Gone Wild. Again? Ok. But this is the last time...
•A wide variety of movies and talk shows featuring any of the following: Jon Stewart, Rob Morrow (see above), Adam Sandler, Chris Farley ("Lots of people go to college for 7 years" "Yeah, they're called 'Doctors'"), John Corbett, Kevin Spacey, and others.
•And porn. Lots and lots of porn.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Yes, It's True. I'm a Geek

I did a nice easy 6 this morning. It was bloody brilliant out. Cool, clear, still. Going to be a decent day. Mrs. GVB is out doing the Off Broadway thing today, so I am taking the kids out on the boat for the afternoon. Might as well start practicing those toddler-overboard drills.

Feeling in a somewhat sappy old-school mood this morning. Here is my playlist from today, straight from my Nano to your screen. Some great songs on here. The source and inspiration for the list? That is today's POP QUIZ. Winner gets a free ride on the back of Cap'n Ron's new Buell motorcycle. You did become a new road hazard today, didn't you Cap'n?

Donny Hathaway - 'A Song for You'
James Ingram - 'Just Once'
Sam Cooke – “You Send Me”
Tony Bennett – “It Had to Be You”
Rod Stewart - 'These Foolish Things'
Joe Cocker - 'You Are So Beautiful'
Otis Redding - 'Try a Little Tenderness'
Ray Charles - 'I Believe to My Soul'
Ray LaMontagne - 'Trouble'
Michael Bublé - 'Home'
Gary Allan - 'Best I Ever Had'
Train - 'Drops of Jupiter'
Nat King Cole - 'When I Fall in Love'
Al Jarreau - 'Teach Me Tonight'
Michael Jackson - 'Butterflies'
James Moody - 'Moody's Mood For Love'
Bobby Caldwell - 'What You Won't Do for Love'

Extra credit for those who can tell me (without a Google assist) which of the above songs are by their original recording artist and which ones are covers.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Twitchy: ADJ

Twtichy (adj):
1. Characterized by jerky or spasmodic motion: the twitchy whiskers of a cat.
2. Nervous; jittery.

Sometimes you hear someone use a word and it sticks with you for a while. On Friday I heard someone use the word “twitchy” and thought nothing of it. Ok, well, I thought a little about it: context is everything.

Saturday afternoon, as I was riding down into the Stillaguamish valley from the site for the future Casa GVB (we have progressed beyond pile of dirt phase: we have a foundation now) doing 33 miles per hour with a 20 knot cross wind, I got twitchy. Or, to be more accurate, the Fuji got twitchy. I went from riding the fog line to taking up the whole damn lane (I was doing the speed limit, after all) to avoid being blown into the massive drainage ditch the lines the road. I was actually relieved to hit the hard right turn at the bottom of the hill so I could lean into something rather than just trying to stay upright.

All told I did a 42 mile loop from the Future Casa to La Conner and back. Here is a map of the route. With the wind at my back from Stanwood to Fir Island, I was doing 25 miles per hour most of the time. Once I turned back to Stanwood, the southerly buster was in my face, and things got slower and less fun. iPod to the rescue.

Here is a sample of the playlist from today. And yes, I know I shouldn’t ride with headphones on. Shut up. You’re not my mom. Well, except for you, Mom. Hi.

“Everybody Out of the Water” – The Wallflowers
“Breakdown” – Jack Johnson
“Brain Stew” – Green Day
“St. Teresa” Joan Osborne
“Till I Collapse” – Eminem
“Song for the Dumped” – Ben Folds Five
“All I Really Want” – Alanis Morissette
“Fuckin’ With My Head” – Beck
“Stitched Up” – John Mayer

There are some keepers on there. And, Al B, don’t worry, your CDs are in the mail this week. Enjoy. And don’t bitch about stuff you don’t like.

Rumor is Cap’n Ron got suckered into sailing a Mid Distance race today on Blade Runner. How’d that work out for ya, Cap’n?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Exam Day

Here’s a multiple choice quiz for you. Please do your own work. Cheaters will be forced to read Middlemarch

Instructions. Please select the best answer for each question. Be prepared to defend your selections.

New cycling shoes + New pedals = ______________________

a. more speed
b. more power
c. more happiness
d. sore knees

What is the likely result of a long weekend sailing in the sun with no zinc for your lips?

a. a nice even tan to impress the ladies
b. that smooth kissable feeling
c. a strengthened immunity to sunburn
d. burned and blistering lips

What do you do when your home builder wants $9,000 for granite countertops in your new house?

a. realize that over the length of a 30 year mortgage that will only cost $8.00 a month and do the upgrade
b. ask if there is a more expensive option
c. rationalize that you will get that $9,000 back in resale
d. say “fuck right off” and design a tile kitchen instead.

It’s 9:30 p.m. and you have just finished grading a set of the worst student papers in history. You:

a. curve the scores up to account for the fact that you overestimated the ability of the class
b. plan an extensive lesson designed to fix the errors you noticed in grading
c. adjust the next assignment to be more reasonable
d. make a Hendrick’s martini and watch American Idol on TiVO

At 8:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, where are you most likely to run into all of the following: The Colleague, The Math Dude, RPD, and The Outgoing Dean?

a. Faculty offices on campus
b. At a meeting on institutional effectiveness
c. In the mailroom
d. At the Aloha.

How did GVB spend his lunch hour on Tuesday after writing a massive check to the Home Builder?

a. eating lunch with Mrs. GVB
b. transferring money to keep the massive check from bouncing
c. lounging in the sun
d. test driving an Audi A3 through the streets of Bellevue

Answers and Grades will be Posted on Thursday.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Let’s Do Another Lap!

‘Round Whidbey has come and gone, complete with an ugly orange hat Cap’n Ron bought for me. I owe you 12 bucks, Cap’n. Plus or minus.

For the full-bore, blow-by-blow, actual sailing-related entry, tack on over to the SailBlog and read the version fit for public consumption. For the rest of us, here is the profanity-laced, honest, and somewhat less accurate version.


Leave Everett: Noon on Friday.
Arrive Cornet Bay: 5:00 p.m. Friday.
Drink Beer @ Cornet Bay: 5:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Friday.
Race Around a Big Ass Island: 9:00 a.m. to 11:45 p.m. Saturday
Leave Oak Harbor: Midnight Saturday.
Arrive Everett: 4:00 a.m. Sunday.
Pass Out on the ‘Hood: 5:00 a.m. Sunday.

As you may recall, Skipper Krumm pulled the Lion out from under us after realizing that the ice box onboard couldn’t possibly handle enough grog for the whole crew for three days of “racing”. Since Cap’n Ron and I had already used ‘Round Whidbey as an excuse for potentially missing Mother’s Day festivities, we HAD to race. And while there were no doubt many Milltown boats we could have hooked up with (Heart of Gold, Mistral, and some grotesque Beneteau recreational vehicle were there from the club), I wanted a piece of the action on Blade Runner, the boat I drool over every time I motor past her leaving my slip…Turns out the good Cap’n and I were the last two pieces Skipper Rod needed to commit to the race. We were on.

The race goes like this:

1. Deliver the boat to Cornet Bay on the inside of Deception Pass on Friday. Drink yourself silly Friday evening with the other crews at Cornet Bay, much to the distaste of the Park Ranger, who spends his time writing tickets for parked cars and boats.

(“Let’s see, I have 14 dollars, it’s 50 cents a foot…I guess that makes my boat 28 feet long. – Skipper Rod Merry)

2. Saturday morning, ride the ebb tide out of Deception Pass for a drifting start just off of West Point. From there you have roughly 36 hours to get around Whidbey Island (65 nautical miles in total if you sail a perfect straight line course) all the while knowing that the wind will die at Possession Point and again after dark. If you’re lucky there will be enough breeze to keep moving through the night until the wind comes up in the morning.

3. Sunday, limp home with sunburned faces and exhausted limbs. Sleep for 20 hours.

So let’s start with the boat. Blade Runner is a Jeanneau Sun Fast 37. By all accounts a hot boat with great design. Everything is where it should be, and everything works. She is clean, fast, well-rigged, and, as modern boats go, pretty sexy. And comfortable? Yup. You bet. After a few minutes of the delivery cruise north to Cornet Bay from Everett, Cap’n Ron looks at me and says, “Wow. This cockpit is pretty damn comfortable.” Sure is. And there were six of us splayed out in the sun with plenty of room for our egos and beer left over.

The mighty crew of Blade Runner muscled that piece of shit around the island in 14 hours and 42 minutes. Fast. A couple of spinnaker runs in Admiralty Inlet had us pegging 10 knots, and after dark we were close-reaching in 18 knots of apparent wind, doing 7.5 knots toward the finish. Only one crash-tack over a rock reef 20 yards from the finish line could have stopped us. Rockin’.

Bottom line? Kick ass race. I’m still tired. And sunburned.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Comments and Observations Go Here

Fucking busy this week. I haven't even had time to unpack from Portland. Got a suitcase here full of hotel towels, wine glasses, and 800 thread count sheets lifted from the Hilton.

Just imagine more lines of text here complete with run times, ride plans, and previews of 'Round Whidbey:

Meanwhile, I'm grading papers. Hint: Never ask college freshman to analyze T.S. Eliot poems. Ever.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Rose City with Bloodshot Eyes

This morning dawned early, and once I managed to convinced myself that 3 hours of sleep was enough (thanks...sleep optional), I dragged my sorry ass to a presentation I was supposed to give on..uh...something about teaching...I think it went ok...there was ice water...and bad coffee.

Then it was a nice long, long run (13 miles at 8:20 per mile for those keeping track) followed by a trip into Portlandia to see Former Student #2, a senior at Portland State and a newly welcomed masters student in the Publishing department. Former Student #2 also works at WordStock, a kick ass literary festival fiasco in Portland...

I really do like Portland, generally speaking. Nice cafes, hip people, and good shopping. I parked myself in a park near PSU and worked out some lines of a new poem before suffering through a beer with FS#2 (honest, she drank iced tea: she's 19).

But tell me this, how can a city half the size of Seattle have traffic that is twice as bad? Fuck me. Getting back to the "couv" was a trick. This joint needs to extend the train across the river. Seriously.

BUT, I did get the sheer pleasure of covorting with Poolio, the poet and basic ass who runs WordStock. Gotta love Poolio. When it gets weird is after the two of us hatch plans for a late summer Mariner's game (hey dad, I need your tickets, by the way...or maybe Jim can hook me up with that oft promised media spot? Hmmm? Hmmm?) and WE are planning to bring our oldest children.

Now, who ever decided that Poolio and GVB should be fathers? Nice call. Are there two less likely candidates? (And yes, it is true, the Red Lion at the Quay is officially the white trashiest joint in western Washington. We fit right in..."Can I get some french fries?" "Sure, Hon, you want Chili or Cheese on those?")

More importantly, what are our kids going to do after the game while we are at the strip club? Dear NPAW...

Doing a fast 4 miler in the morning before heading home. Pretty sure it would be cheaper to ship my truck home than to drive it. Thanks GW.

Al B: Tell me you weren't at Shea tonight for that 14 inning puke fest with the Braves?

Bitches, er, Beaches.

I introduced The Colleague to my man Ralph on Thursday night. Drinks and dinner (in that order) at the tragic riverside restaurant "Beaches" in Vancouver.

I apologize in advance to The Colleague's husband, because Ralph is in love. And I think the crush is mutual.

Ralph: thanks for a fantastic evening.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Put it on "Underhill"

The greatest thing about attending conferences is the Room Charge. I go all week and never have to take my wallet out of my pocket (except on some occasions when I have to check my ID to remember my name, but that's another issue entirely).

Last night two of us had a wonderful dinner, capped off by some of the best 12 year old scotch I have tasted in a long time (Lagavulin). The bill wasn't small, but what the hell? Put on Underhill. Room 7.


This morning, after learning that my presentation had been moved to the ill-fated late afternoon slot (on a sunny 80 degree forecast day, no less) I decided to see the world. The New Balance and I set off on a nice 7 mile trip along the river. Here are my splits: 8:02, 8:10, 8:07, 7:50, 7:38, 7:22, 7:29. Guess which way was upwind? Sheesh.

This is my first real run since the Sun Run (aside from some little jogs in the neighborhood) and my first since a bizarre and crippling sleeping accident (ask RPD, he knows). Good news: everything feels great.

Yesterday I took a trip in the Way-Back machine and drove out to Hood River to see how much had changed since my old windsurfing days. Turns out the breweries are still there. Most of the windsurfing shops are gone, and the town has turned into something that looks like a cross between Bellingham and Telluride. Weird.

Here's a list for today:

LIKE: Long runs in warm weather
DISLIKE: Large mean dogs with pinch collars lunging at me from their leash.

LIKE: Hanging out with people I never get to spend any time with
DISLIKE: Hanging out with people who bitch about everything (the airconditioning in your room is too loud? Awwww. Here's a big helping of I don't give a rat's ass about your problems).

LIKE: Good 12 Year Old Scotch.
DISLIKE: Waitresses who try to hitchike on private jokes at your table. (No, you WON'T have what she's having. Nice try, though.)

LIKE: Charles Barkley talking about losing 10 million dollars gambling
DISLIKE: John Daly talking about losing 10 million dollars gambling. Seriously John, $5,000 slot machines? At least Barkley lost his money at the tables and on the golf course. Can't you just imagine the "closest to the pin" wagers Barkley and Jordan must throw down during their Sunday afternoon scramble?

LIKE: Hotels.
DISLIKE: Hotels that only have room service until 11:00.

LIKE: Sailing Round Whidbey
DISLIKE: Not getting to do it on the Lion (see below). We'll miss ya Krumm.


Skipper Krumm has pulled the plug. His captain's credentials are under review by the committee. The crew is eyeing the helm and the captain's cabin; they are stockpiling weapons in preparation for a mutiny.

There is another ship in the distance that looks promising.

Cap'n Ron and GVB are abandoning ship. We WILL sail around that island, but not on Dent de Lion. Blade Runner, a SunFast 37, will be our ride. I've raced on her before, and she is a hot damn boat. Much fun. And still has that "new boat" smell, complete with cancer-causing off-gassing of epoxy and fiberglass laminates.

I'm not sure how I will react to racing on a boat that was built in this century, but I KNOW I'll be able to deal with that cozy berth instead of sleeping draped over the cockpit winches on the Lion.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Stay The Course!

'Round Whidbey is still on the table. The Skipper hasn't changed his OFFICIAL stance as yet, but Cap'n Ron is taking over as the official persuader.

Get out your creativity Maties because the Decider has decided not to decide.You guys had me going. So do you want to try again? Say Wed or Thurs? Hope the IPA doesn't run dry.

Randi and I had the pleasure of being in the certified storm on Sat. Not nice but it was really wet and cold.

Skipper Krumm

and then

Damn it Skipper, we expressly directed you to continue medication until the decision was made to sail. I may be able to see how much IPA we can get on my one little visa card on Thursday. I've got a feeling it would be futile and all I would get out of the deal is more canvas color advice... but hey, I'm game. I like a good challenge.
Cap'n Ron

Best of luck to you, Cap'n. I will be available for conference calls on Thursday. Perhaps I can find a similarly equipped meeting space in Portland for the call. Hey. Yeah. I like that idea.

In other news, Al Bangorhard has sent me a training schedule for *GASP* a marathon. I must be high. But...the training can't hurt, even if I don't do the 'thon, right? I'm definitely doing the SeaFair and Seattle Half Marathons this year. That's all I know.

In other other news, I seem to remember (somewhere around Monroe?) agreeing to riding the Seattle to Portland next year? Really? In a day? I must be high.

More from the Rose City soon enough.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Decider, Persuasion, and the Flip Flop

It's almost Mother's Day boys and girls. Let's all order our pastel flower arrangements and go out of our way to make sure Mom gets to sleep in. Whatever.

Mother's Day in my world means one thing: 'Round Whidbey. This sailing race around the island is very conveniently scheduled each year on Mother's Day weekend, and if you include the one-day boat delivery to the start on Friday, the race all day and through the night on Saturday, it's a full weekend of NOT buying cards or flowers and, with my In Laws, NOT watching people eat under-cooked meat.

So as I am filling out my sick (COUGH) leave slip for the Friday trip from Everett to Deception Pass, the following email pings into my in-box:

Dearest Swabs
After careful deliberation I have decided to not sail Round Whidbey. It's just too far to sail given our beer capacity
Let's see what the Fall brings re: racing.
Capt "I am the Decider"

Skipper Krumm has pulled the plug on 'Round Whidbey? It's not that I want to do the race, but PLEASE don't make me endure Mother's Day!!!

This calls for an intervention. The real purpose of last Friday's lunch and beers at the Butt can now be revealed: Krumm must be convinced to sail.

Every man has his breaking point. Krumm's is 3 Scuttlebutt IPAs.

Was that some wavering I saw there across the table? Were Cap'n Ron and I really that persuasive? Was it the realization that one less crew member would mean both more beer carrying capacity AND fewer beer drinkers?

We await the official Flip Flop from The Decider...