Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pile pour at SeaTac

As mentioned below. Amazing work - imagine trying to pat your head, rub your belly AND dance a mazurka. And remember, you're doing this work with materials the size of a 4-foot-diameter, 63-foot-long steel pipe pile weighting something like 40,000 pounds.

Construction can be jaw-droppingly impressive at times. Makes up for the nasty little slumdivisions and crappy stop-n-robs I've helped litter the Willamette Valley with over the past 15 years.

Not that I don't love my job!

Back soon with: firefights and a camel...

Motionless in Seattle

The road to blogwriting is paved with good intentions but founded on a crushed rock base of ambition, distraction, uglification and derision. Or, in this case, time spent doing things like sitting in traffic on the I-405.

I have not words enough to describe the state of traffic congestion in the Seattle area. It's fiendish in a sort of steel-and-concrete-constipation way that makes me wonder why we don't hear more often of some tormented soul being led away in chains for having lept from his or her idling vehicle to pound some particularly obnoxious fellow inmate's head against the guardrail. The typical rush hour "expressway" in Seattle is a truly, deeply, unspeakable horrible thing.


The only two positive parts of last week's trip were 1) IKEA [a warehouse full of proof that the ingenious Swedes have a lock on home furnishing in the way they have figured out meatballs, pornography and skijoring], and 2) Drilled pier construction at SeaTac. BIG whomping pier, constructed using possibly the biggest vibratory hammer I've ever seen. Watching the pour, where the contractor juggled the hammer and pile, tremie tube, rebar cage and basket lift was like watching a dance performed by a 20 ton steel corps de ballet.

Very cool.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Well, damn, that was ugly.

Our friend Cassandra needed some mommy-break time. She is dealing with the leftovers from the ugly suicide of her estranged husband and though her boys are great kids, sometimes a gal just has to get a little time to herself.

So, good pals that we are, I say, lemme help you get out of the house, girlfriend. We help her score some tickets to the Gina Gibney recital and I volunteer to take her kids for the evening.

In a moment of utter and completely mindless insanity, I utter the fatal words:

"C'mon, I'll take you guys to Chuck E. Cheese."

Those of you without children, or whose children are not yet of selfportable age, will fail to understand the true horror of this. But those who know are doubtlessly taking on that cringing but defiant posture, like a sort of truculent Uriah Heep, at the sight of those words. They are pursing their lips and shaking their heads, asking "What the FUCK were you thinking?!

I'm not sure now. But what's so embarassing is it didn't involve either drugs or alcohol.

So Friday night comes and off we go to the Chuckster's; myself and Cassandra's two boys in our little Honda, Mojo and the Peep in her truck. Note to parents: always check the feet. We arrive only to realize that the Peeper is wearing his little red bedroom slippies.

Oh well.

So we open the doors, passing the huge cartoon critters who must be something in the Chuck Universe but I have no idea who, under the sign reading "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", get our hand stamped by the nice girl at the Studio 54 velvet rope gate and enter into this:

Ohmifuckinggod. It was...I'm not sure how do describe it. Prepubescent Hell with the lid off? A trainwreck colliding with a boiler explosion? Words just don't do it justice. First, there were kids. Kids of all types, shapes, sizes, genders and colors. All of them shrieking. And running. There were games. Clanging games, flashing games, games that whirred, sloshed, blinked and rattled. There was an enormous plastic colon through which partially digested children passed in a sort of shriek-o-peristalsis.

There was pizza, of the most cardboard and horrible sort. And an animatronic Chuck that hosted a karaoke bar at one end of the room, pounding out frightful versions of stuff like the Chicken Dance song. Sweetsufferingbabyjesus.

Through all this the kids were sweethearts. Little Peep found some sort of goofy train game which he enjoyed, and another which involved punching revolving ducks. He ate fries and a bite of the loathsome pizza (ah, sweet genetics! He hated it. Breeding will out...). Cassandra's two boys enjoyed the games and had fun, which was the point. Eeyan, the older boy and I even had some genuine fun playing some sort of firefighter game, agreeing that the Mayor was a dork who deserved to get toasted...

Poor Little Peeper threw a huge tantrum when we left, tho, screaming and ranting "I hate you!!" until he collapsed in his car seat, exhausted. We put him in his little bed complete with red slippers on. And got something decent to eat in the soothingly quiet kitchen.

And Cassandra enjoyed the dance recital and her time with herself. Which was more to the point. So I'm glad we could help.

But I feel like a trooper who has just emerged, terrified but whole, from his first real combat. I have been tried in the furnace and emerged, not victorious, but alive. And I have learned: stare into the Rodent long enough and the Rodent stares back at you...

The Mouse is evil. Evil, I say. Beware the Chuckster, for he will lead you among dark places and into ways that are vain. Don't believe me? Believe your eyes - here's the proof:

Friday, January 12, 2007

Everything old is new again

What does this man...

...have to do with this one..?We interrupt our domestic political crises to bring you this rambling memory of the heroes of my youth and how their story is evergreen, coming to the MLS franchise near you.

If you follow the Beautiful Game - or are a Kiera Knightly fan - at all you probably recognize the first lad. That's David "Becks" Beckham, former Real Madrid and England midfielder, fashion diva, husband of "Posh" Spice and overall tabloid personality.

But you might not recall the other fellow.

His name is Giorgio Chinaglia, and he was once one of the golden boys of that gilded age of the North American Soccer League that was the New York Cosmos.

Why are these two, players from thirty years apart, pictured in the same post in some crappy little weblog that nobody reads?

Well, it all started with a PBS television show called "Soccer Made In Germany". In the early Seventies this wonderful little artifact showed edited highlights of Bundesliga matches during the glory days of that league, when giants like Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller strode the turf, siezing the Weltmeisterschaft - the World Cup - and generally making all things soccer pretty damned exciting.

In my parent's living room in Chicago I used to watch and dream of the grey, grey grass of Bayern Munich (this was black-and-white, remember). SMIG made soccer magic for me.

Well, we had our own, new league right here - not that Chicago had a team, or anything. But we all had the New York Cosmos. International stars: Pele, Pete Best, Giorgio...playing in our own U.S.A.!!!!

Wow! Now that was magic, too...

I HAD to have a Giorgio Chinaglia soccer ball to emulate my hero. Thirty years later, it's still somewhere around the house. And, like me and my magical soccer heroes, it hasn't aged terrifically well. It's cheap leather and heavy as a bag of bricks. It actually hurts to kick it, especially when it's wet, and what at-the-time seemed like cool red-white-and-green Italian colors now look tawdry and foolish.

Likewise those great internationals, once the stars of the NASL, can be seen as the has-beens they were, playing out the string for crazy money in an upstart league. Pale shades of their once brilliant playing selves. A little sad, a little sleazy. Ah, well.

And now...Becks. The guy's washed up, or all but. He was never a particularly gifted midfielder, never a shifty dribbler or playmaker. He can't play with his back to the goal, and he can't run or pass well enough to play on a team with any speed. He had a wicked curling set kick, and could poach goals when he got the service (though never a true English-style "target man"). For the past four years or so he has been known exclusively as a set-piece specialist, scoring almost exclusively off of frees and penalties, and always with less playing time at Real.

And he's the newest, and most over-hyped, member of the L.A. Galaxy.

The thing is, the whole Pele-Chinaglia-Best era came at the end of the NASL's glory years. The overpaid foreign players never produced the soccer they were touted for, their cost helped bankrupt teams and the league died.

MLS has done well to avoid this shopping-for-washed-up-foreign-players obsession. Until now.

I wish Becks and Posh all the best in their new L.A. digs. I really do. But, as an American soccer fan, I hope that Beckham is a freak, an aberration, a one-and-only.

Our game needs to be about the promise of Freddy Adu and Alex Nimo, not the memory of David Beckham.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Why this man is pissed off

Thoughts on Bush's speech last night:

1. Lots of talk about a change of "strategy" but what I get out of it is a) just more guys doing more cordon-and-search (thats tactics, not strategy, nimrod), b) IG held to "benchmarks", whatever the hell these are, and is supposed to "disarm" the militias (Note - pause in posting for hysterical laughter here), and c) 1b for "reconstruction" (because the, umm, 200b we spent lost! Yeah, it got lost. We lost it! Ummm. Damn. Or something...)

2. Apocalyptic talk about dominos and Iran and Syria - and WTF with Patriots in Bahrain??? - if we withdraw. No rational argument for who Saudis "turn to" if we leave. Just scary talk and boogeymen.

3. I meant to keep track of the word "sacrifice", but it never showed up until the end, without any sort of, like, you know, actual "sacrifice". No "Laura and I have both agreed to donate the proceeds of our tax cuts to the boys in the wards at Walter Reed"...or "My new "Buy More Bonds Today! program will ensure our fighting men the tools to finish the job without bankrupting our great nation"...or "my daughters have both volunteered to roll bandages for our heroic wounded"...or "my daughters have both volunteered to be comfort women for the Third Brigade of the 82nd Airborne..."

Oops. Sorry. Got a little carried away there.

3. Is Maliki in his pocket, or what? Pretty blunt talk from the Pres to a "soverign" leader of a "soverign" nation: you be kickin' ass on some Sadr or you my bee-yotch, bee-yotch!

4. "But victory in Iraq will bring something new in the Arab world -- a functioning democracy that polices its territory, upholds the rule of law, respects fundamental human liberties, and answers to its people." Huffing glue again? Yep.

5. "From Afghanistan to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories, millions of ordinary people are sick of the violence, and want a future of peace and opportunity for their children." This is dangerous stuff. Millions of ordinary Arabs just shouted at their TV screen "What about Israel, fuckstick??!!" For him to say stuff like this is to invite scorn and skepticism. He either needs to do something about the Palestinians or STFU.

6. "I recently ordered the deployment of an additional carrier strike group to the region." WTF!!?? (Shorter version: Game on, mothafukas! Gonna get some Persians!)

Lots of talk about diplomacy. I'll believe that when I see it. Hope somebody from State reminded him that diplomacy ISN'T "repeating what we expect them to do until they run screaming from the room"...

I'm kinda depressed. I didn't expect much, but this is just same shit, different day. No real plan to give the factions some bargaining power, no levers to get the Sunni to come into the tent, or the Shia to work with the Sunni, or the Kurds to give up dreams of independance. More bluff thrown at the Iranians. More booga-booga scare talk about dirty brown beardie-wierdies. More instant, painless war - now with 60% fewer taxes! Sacrifice? Sure, we'll sacrifice - we'll sacrifice YOUR ass!


What the hell am I doing here without a bottle of Laphroig?

One more thought before I start drinking heavily:

The first wave of the surge will probably be the brigade from my old buddies in the Eighty-Deuce now in Kuwait. I love my old Division.

I would gladly jump again with the boys from the 1/505, busted knees and all.

But paratroopers often make REALLY poor counterinsurgents. They are, by inclination and training, extremely aggro and hard men. Just think of two incidents: Derry, 1972 and Fallujah, April 2003.

Common factor? Paras of one sort or another vs. civilian protestors. Not a good mix. I know that we're hard up for bodies, but the paras? Great at direct action, raids and such. Patient, slow-moving, painstaking civil-military operations? Not so good.

Come to think of it, barkeep, make it a triple.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I got your surge right here...

So tomorrow our Imperious Leader will deign to tell us where he will lead our legions in our Glorious War to Bring Peace and a Pony To Iraq. I'm about as happy about that as I am about getting prostate surgery. Or as the guy on the left is about his new recruit (that's Kaneda from Akira, BTW. Domo arigato, Otomo-san). But more ranting in a bit.

This is a kinda odd week, begun in Coos Bay (again) showing some skin for the press but continuing back in PDX with very little in the way of billable work. Good? Not so much. But it does let me spend more time with my sweeties.

Peep and I went to "his" "ice cream house" (Baskin-Robbins) after I picked him up from daycare yesterday - he was such a lovie, he offered to share his green ice cream cone (mint chocolate chip, his favorite) with two little girls there with their mom. That and we looked at stuff on Google, one of his favorite pastimes. He sets the search criteria ("I want to look at toy army tanker trucks" he will announce) and I type in the image search terms and then we look at stuff. And he predicts he will buy it. I agree. And we move on to the next thing he sees.

I was initially alarmed by this, the implication being that the objects viewed needed to be purchased, until I understood that the statement alone was sufficient. Peeper just needed it to be known that he would buy these trucks, trains, whatever. No actual money needed to be involved.


I need to get showered and get to work, but I'll be back tomorrow with reactions to The Speech and some opinions on adoption. Just what you wanted to hear, right?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Wendie Blogging

Wendie Malick, that is.

I've been a huge fan of hers ever since her turn as the smart, sexy ex-wife on the series Dream On back in the early '90's. She specializes in the type of character she played in that earlier show: strong, clever, delicious in a very grown-up way.

Now she's in a new series on ABC called Big Day. (I apologize for the annoying embedded video - it's network TV, forchrissake...)

I'll be right up front and say I haven't watched anything on the nets since, hell, maybe the last season of Buffy. Naah, I couldn't bear to watch it regularly by the last season, so maybe the year before that. So my advice on network TV may be pretty suspect. But I have to say that I'm reserving a spot on Tuesday nights for Wendie and company. This show is that fucking funny.

Don't take my word for it. Watch. Laugh.

Coming this month: more Tiger Island and January rants off the top of the Chief's BCS...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

...and your little dog, too!

Is this the part where Marilyn huffs out "Happy Birthday" like her girdle is too tight?

Never mind. HB, Nic.

Monday, January 01, 2007


...will be warmer then 2006. I suspect there will be much more of the same stuff we saw in 2006, except less of Brittany Spears' vagina. Sweet Baby Jesus.

...should damn well see impeachment proceedings against the Fool on the Hill, who is starting to remind me of Nixon in the old joke: Ford; see no evil, Carter; hear no evil, Nixon; evil.

...will be the Peeper's fourth birthday! Yaay, Peep!

...will be another year in Iraq.

...will be another Republican lawyer quail season, so Deadeye Dick Cheney will have to check the bag limit. They're fairly easy to hit but real hard to clean...

...will be the Women's World Cup in China. Go, you US women!

...will be Mojo's 41st birthday - and my 50th.

...should be the year we hold our daughter Mei-mei for the first time.

May the coming year bring you and yours love, peace, happiness and goodwill.