Another win for McGinn!

It looks like our bufoonish Mayor McGinn has yet another epic fail to pad his resume in anticipation of the voters tossing him out on his ass next election. Seems Seattle’s recently awarded 20 million dollar federal grant for green jobs isn’t working out quite as well as intended.

“Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city had won a coveted $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy – able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint – and the announcement came with great fanfare.

McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.

But more than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers. Some people wonder if the original goals are now achievable. Organizers and policy experts blame the economy, bureaucracy and bad timing for the program’s mediocre results.”

To review: A new bureaucracy is created, timed to provide jobs in a down economy, and it fails due to bureaucracy, bad timing, and the economy. And how ’bout those “mediocre” results! Three homes insulated by fourteen employees over the course of a year. Yes, out of the multitude of available words to describe this fiasco, mediocre is the word we’re looking for here.

We’re in the best of hands.

Bears vs Bulls

Normally, I don’t follow the stock markets too closely. I’ve got a 401K like a lot of people but I long ago transferred the majority of the balance into a money market account, soon to be followed by a coffee can buried in the back yard account if things continue as they are. Today however I found myself watching the final ten minutes of the days trading as I would my favorite football team defending against the winning touchdown in the final minutes. With two minutes left the score was hovering between -575 and -595 with the possibility of a late Bull rally to offset some of the days loses. With seconds left on the clock and the tension palpable, the Bears drove the length of the field and scored the winning goal. Final score? Dow Jones -634.

As I watch and listen to our ruling classes flounder rather than take action and double down on their Keynesian theories, the attempt to cast blame on those who disagree with their theories seems the only concrete action that they are capable of taking. And the clock winds down. Will Socratic ideals of reason and action make a last minute comeback, or will the Frankfurt School at long last run out the clock. It’s become fairly obvious that we’re going to find out in short order, and everything we have is riding on the outcome.

Goin’ up the country…

First posted in 2009.

Things haven’t changed too much. Same eight dogs (I think). Same wife (I’m pretty sure, although the wonders of menopause arouse my skeptical nature from time to time). The boys now 14 and 16 look more or less like the ones who lived here a couple of years ago though their minds have been colonized, temporarily one hopes, by the teenage male MTV as gospel virus.

Life goes on.


When I lived in the city, I had a dog that would sing along when the old Canned Heat standard would occasionally play on the radio. She would stare intently at the music box then throw her head back, tail wagging madly, and let loose in a joyous howl that would do her Ice Age ancestors proud. Some people said that she was merely responding to tones in the melody that unconsciously triggered her howling instinct, but I knew that wasn’t it. As she regarded the radio like a person blind from birth would in passing a roadside billboard when anything other than “Going up the Country” was playing, that she was singing out of pure joy while maybe not a reasonable observation, was an obvious one to me.

As city dwellers we were a fairly typical two kid one dog family and we trekked regularly from our house made out of ticky tacky to the local park where other city dwellers would gather their dogs to run in a make believe pack.  They would bark and sniff and lift their legs on anything not moving faster than themselves but any growling, displays of dominance, or other behavior deemed unsociable was frowned upon and met with sharp rebuke or the sharper jerk of  leash and choke collar. Surrounded by chain link, we would watch as they learned the desired urban traits of submission and playing well with others. The dogs seemed happy enough, as is their nature, but something was lacking in those dogs that didn’t dawn on me until I was well clear of Seattle.

The first home we purchased in the city was located in what was fashionably referred to among young urbanists as a “neighborhood in transition”. Generally they were in poorer areas and were intended to be transformed magically into islands of  Caucasian sophistication by the mere presence of our fabulous selves. Of course folks who had no choice but to live in these neighborhoods called them something of a more derogatory nature. By and by reality revealed itself as it often does and an unfortunate incident involving a neighboring home, illicit substances, and 40 heavily armed members of a SWAT team descending on said house while my wife was loading our infant sons in the car caused what in hindsight was an over reaction, and we immediately put our home in the transitional neighborhood that was not transitioning quite fast enough up for sale. With the help of a real estate agent friend, my wife and I sold our home in the hood and it wasn’t long before we found just what we thought we were looking for. A gated community of homes in a safe area of the city moated on all sides by golf course, and this in turn surrounded by a tall wall of cinder block. The homes were mostly of a modest 1950′s rambler style with the streets narrow and meandering. “Just the place” we told ourselves, to raise our boys free from the more unruly side of city life. We signed the papers on what would turn out to be our last home in the city.

Once reasonably settled into our new home, I decided on a walk about with the task of getting to know some of the neighbors. One of my first discoveries while going about the task was that everyone in this community surrounded by greens and fairways traveled not on foot or by car but via golf cart. It turned out that in my haste to please my wife and provide new horizons for our boys that didn’t include possible death or injury by crossfire, the obvious observation that the inhabitants of this community were quite passionate about golf somehow escaped me.  I quickly surmised that this could pose a potential problem in integrating into our new surroundings as I do not care for golf. Or more precisely, I do not care for golfers. It was becoming belatedly apparent to me after meeting a few of these new neighbors that if given the choice between exchanging neighborly small talk with a drug dealer or with the average Izod and Khaki clad wanker typical to this private golf club community, I would probably tend to choose the pusher unless he was an exceptionally boring variety of criminal.  As I walked the meandering streets back to our new home wearing my Levi’s and Converse All-Stars, the color coordinated Argyle and Oxford clad men and women piloting these newly noticed carts to T-times stared silently and  I was sure suspiciously at me as they passed.  A mild concern, some might call it a panic, started to build in my mind as the thought began to form that perhaps I had made a rash decision in so quickly dismissing our old neighborhood. Completing my walk about and entering my carport still full of boxes and other assorted flotsam from the move, I encountered a small, fastidiously dressed man who identified himself as “President of the Community Maintenance Association”.  A title that I was unfamiliar with in the context of any other neighborhood that I had lived in up until that point.

After informing me of his honorific, the man told me that it was against association rules for anything other than cars to be stored in the carports of homes in the community. I pleasantly explained to him that since my wife and I had just moved from a larger home and were pressed for time with two infant sons and both of us working full time, surely a bit of time could be provided to find additional storage, to begin to clear the boxes out and do our best to comply with the rules in a reasonable time frame…surely.  Casually glancing at my footwear, he told me I had 24 hours to comply and that I would be fined fifty bucks a day for each day we remained in violation of association rules. He was wearing tan tasselled loafers as I recall.

I didn’t recognise it at the time but this was one of those forks in the road of life where a few words or actions can determine a very different future. I could have easily said “Fine, I’ll do what is necessary to get it cleaned out”. I could have accepted the ways of the gated community and done the sociable thing, choosing to run with the make believe pack. I could have submitted and learned to play well with these others. Perhaps even complimented his shoes. It would have been good for the kids. I would have been happy…probably…as is my nature. But that was not to be on this day. My hackles went up. I growled and bit, and invited him to go fuck himself as he was standing in my carport and I would do whatever I pleased with the crap in it.

Bad dog.

For five years we ran with the make believe pack, constantly bucking the authorities and feeling the jerk of the leash via letters of reprimand and attempted fines whenever we displayed what was deemed  by the Association as ”aggressive” behavior. I eventually cleared the carport of the junk only to fill it with a piece of shit 1968 Chevy Suburban sporting a very loud rectangular port 427 ci V-8 producing 425 hp. This produced endless hours of amusement for all as they tried to write me up every time I fired it up, but it was technically a car and within the rules so they didn’t have a leg to stand on. Eventually I grew bored with whacking the association hornets nest with a stick and as our home value had appreciated nicely in the five years surrounding the start of the new millennium, we began contemplating a move again. Our beautiful singing dog had died of cancer at the relatively young age of seven and as we reflected on her love of the old Canned Heat song we considered the lyrics.

“I’m goin’ up the country, baby don’t you want to go.

I’m goin’ up the country, baby don’t you want to go.

I’m goin’ to someplace that I’ve never been before.

I’m goin’ where the water tastes like wine.

Goin’ where the water tastes like wine.

We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time.

I’m goin’ to leave this city, got to get away.

I’m goin’ to leave this city, got to get away.

All this fussin’ and fightin’ man, you know I sure can’t stay.”

We’ve been out of the city six years now. None of the eight dogs we currently have sing, but the joy apparent in their faces at being free to run on the beach in a pack where they set the rules is as unmistakable as was Luna’s at hearing her favorite song. Joy is what was lacking in those other dogs not permitted to fully become dogs. Now we have that joy as well.

Learn it. Live it. Love it.

Playing off of my recent post on making unauthorized purchases and how this can have detrimental effects on one’s matrimonial bliss, reader Al sends a helpful tutorial. This is going on the refrigerator door alongside my yellowing and incomplete to-do list. (-50)


In the world of romance, one single rule applies: Make the woman
happy. Do something she likes and you get points. Do something she
dislikes and points are subtracted. You don’t get any points for doing
something she expects to be automatic. Sorry, that’s the way the game
is played. Here is a guide to the point system:

you make the bed (+1)
you make the bed, but forget the decorative pillow (0)
you throw the bedspread over rumpled sheets (-1)
you go out to buy her what she wants (+5) in the rain (+8)
but return with beer (-5)
you check out a suspicious noise at night (+1)
you check out a suspicious noise, and it is nothing (0)
you check out a suspicious noise and it is something (+5)
you pummel it with iron rod (+10)
it’s her cat (-20)

you stay by her side the entire party (0)
you stay by her side for a while, then leave to chat with an old
school friend (-2)
named Tina (-10)
Tina is a dancer (-20)
Tina has silicone implants (-80)

you take her out to dinner (+2)
you take her out to dinner and it’s not a sports bar (+3)
okay, it’s a sports bar (-2)
and it’s all-you-can-eat night (-3)
it’s a sports bar, it’s all-you-can-eat night, and team colors are
painted somewhere on your body (-10)

you take her to a movie (+1)
you take her to a movie she likes (+3)
you take her to a movie you hate (+6)
you take her to a movie you like (-2)
it’s called Death Cop (-3)
you lied and said it was a foreign film about orphans (-15)

you develop a noticeable potbelly (-15)
you develop a noticeable potbelly and exercise to get rid of it (+10)
you develop a noticeable potbelly and resort to baggy jeans and baggy
Hawaiian shirts (-30)
you say, “It doesn’t matter, you have one too.” (-8000)

she asks, “Do I look fat?” (-5)
you hesitate in responding (-10)
you reply, “Where?” (-35)
any other response (-20) (yes, you lose points no matter what)

when she wants to talk about a problem, you listen, displaying what
looks like a concerned expression (0)
you listen, for over 30 minutes (+50)
you listen for more than 30 minutes without looking at the TV (+500)
she realizes this is because you have fallen asleep (-4000)

Not so fast…

They don’t call it the culture wars for nothing.

As I watch conservatives and their libertarian allies pummel each other over whether we are to take a hard-line against the creeping socialism infecting our culture or take a more incremental approach in addressing the problems brought to the forefront with the election of our current President, I can’t help but be reminded of an old story. Like most of the readers here I would love to see the Republican’s take a solid, no compromise stand on upholding the Constitution in any number of areas from the debt crisis to social issues, but only if they have a chance at succeeding in the overall objective of returning our culture to a more classically liberal foundation. For the previous fifty years, the Left has patiently and incrementally taken over the institutions that disseminate information in our country until it has reached the point that positions held by the majority of the citizenry can be presented and sold as “extreme” by the minority who seek to impose their vision of what the country should be on the rest of us. In a society such as our own in which most of the people do not, and will not ever, pay attention to differing political philosophies and how they can affect their lives over time, many who consider themselves classical liberals in the spirit of our founders seek to enter the race at this late date and win merely by shouting into a crowd no longer listening that our ideas are provably superior than theirs . This is not the way culture works. Culture evolves over decades and while we have elected to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as is our right, others have been doing the dirty work of undermining those rights. Progressives having done the hard decades long work of marching through the institutions now see their vision as attainable, and are making the final push to transform this nation into something it was never intended to be. “Standing athwart history and shouting Stop!” was a quote attributed to William F. Buckley and as much as I admire the sentiment, we are too far down the left fork in the road for it to be of much use in this day and age. The culture has changed.

To my Tea Party brethren, I say I am with you. When you say no compromise, now is the time, I say don’t play hare to the progressive tortoise. There is much work ahead and many good people willing to do it if they are not staring at defeat right out of the starting gate. If a bit of strategic retreat in the current battles being waged in DC offer the chance of overall victory, then let’s take that defeat with our true objective in mind. To be free of the statist project pushed by both of our ruling parties will require time and a change of culture. Fight as if it is the last battle, take all the ground that you can, but accept that winning a battle is not the same as winning the war and that there will be set backs along the way.

Not so fast.

It beats talking to the dogs

At some point yesterday, westsoundmodern recieved its 100,000 page view. Thanks to the 8 to 10 all of you who have stopped by regularly to sop up my mindless drivel the past couple of years.

Nothing personal in the title post. It’s just that that’s what I was doing before I pulled the starting rope on this thing.

Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results

I’m in dutch with the wife.

After spending more hours and dollars than might be considered wise on getting my most recent maritime project up and running, I did what any normal member of the schizophrenic community would do and purchased another boat over the weekend. Same year and model as the other one but with a flybridge,  and in quite a bit better cosmetic condition. Somehow, in the clear light of this Monday morning, I find myself in possession of one boat that looks bad and runs good, one that runs bad but looks good, and a very pissed off spouse.

If anyone has any tips on how I can convince her that this decision was arrived at through a logical and reasonable weighing of cost vs benefit, I’d sure appreciate it as sleeping on the couch is wrecking my back.

Animal husbandry goes postmodern

“Of course I can use a typewriter. Now get me another banana before I report your anti-speciesist bigotry to the university administration.”

Critical Animal Studies

“advances a holistic understanding of the commonality of oppressions, such that speciesism, sexism, racism, ablism, statism, classism, militarism and other hierarchical ideologies and institutions are viewed as parts of a larger, interlocking, global system of domination.”

If while writing Animal Farm, Orwell had been able to take a peek into early twenty-first century academia, he probably would have bagged the whole thing and just gone out for a nice steak dinner instead.

H/T Maggie’s Farm

Break Out Another Thousand

For those of you who have stopped by my place on a regular basis over the last couple of years, my lovehate relationship with the sport of boating is known and has been well documented in this space. I realize now that the words I have written regarding this subject are just so much blather and that the fantasy vs the reality of boat ownership can be neatly summed up in the following two photo’s and the acronym below them.


Break Out Another Thousand

Once again, the sirens of the sea have lured me onto the rocks of poor judgement and this past spring I purchased a “fixer upper” that would surely, this time, be the one to provide me with endless hours of relaxation in the sun, floating on the blue green summer waters of Puget Sound. Before I took her out on our maiden voyage I thought it might be a good idea to have a mechanic friend take a look as a minor precaution. Just in case there was an item or two that might cause a bit of inconvenience once underway. No problem…surely.


After hearing the engine run for about a minute, the mechanic casually advised against me ever taking her further from the dock than I was willing to swim. He also informed me that in his opinion the wiring was of such ancient vintage and poor quality that merely turning the key had caused him to involuntarily flinch and close his eyes tightly, as the old steel fuel tanks had started to rust through and spill gasoline into the bilge. In the space of five minutes I had gone from the mountainous heights of maritime ecstasy, the purchase and maiden voyage of a new boat, to the depths of my bank accounts valley. “Let me know if you think she’s worth fixing.” he said as he skipped back onto the dock, tossing the keys in my direction and leaving me standing there feeling very alone. “I’ve got about a six week back log and might be able to get to it around mid-June.”

Topping off the brand new stainless steel fuel tanks I turned the ignition, which carried a spark through the born again electrical system to the completely rebuilt and refurbished 302 cubic inch Chevy providing power to the recently serviced out-drive. It jumped effortlessly to life and as I motored back to my moorage, I thought of the joy and pleasure that would finally be mine in just two short days, anchored in the middle of the bay on a warm summer evening with a cool six pack of my favorite brand watching the city sponsored Fourth of July fireworks display. Life. Is. Good!


Arriving at the dock around eight so as to have plenty of time to warm up the engine and find a suitable anchorage from which to watch the pyrotechnics, I hopped aboard, opened the cabin hatch, and was met with a strong smell of gasoline. Flipping open the deck hatch and looking below, I could see about two or three inches of greasy gasoline sloshing in the bilge, and the only piece of material below decks that hadn’t been replaced in the last two weeks, a six inch run of rubber fuel line, steadily dripping more. For those unfamiliar with the characteristics of gasoline when sloshing around in a confined space, it tends to vaporize and become extremely explosive. Even a small spark would have the potential to transform my small watercraft into the most spectacular display of the evening. About then, a group of kids on shore about thirty yards away set off a volley of bottle rockets in my general direction. On any other day of the year I might have done the environmentally responsible thing and carefully pumped the escaped gasoline into plastic containers to be properly disposed of. On this particular evening with bottle rockets and fire crackers zipping and popping, I chose the course of not blowing myself up and without delay activated the overboard bilge pump and into the bay it went. All was going well when unfortunately for me some tree hugger in a kayak spotted my impersonation of British Petroleum and reported me to the harbor master, who as luck would have it was a veteran of long years in the service of Greenpeace and took a dim view toward my act of self preservation. The fine was substantial. By the time I soaped the bilges down and got everything cleaned up, the fireworks display was long over and I was again left wondering just what it is about boats that, like women, keep me coming back no matter how shabbily I am treated.

Sometimes I think that if a campaign were enacted in which all boats forever more were to be referred to as he rather than she, they might be magically transformed into objects requiring little to no cost or maintenance, and be forever ready at a moments notice to provide a no questions asked platform for the excessive drinking and smoking activities of their fellow men. Until then the she’s that come and go in my life will demand acceptance of that which I will willingly, if perhaps secretly defer to.


“I don’t have the assault rifle…I thought you had the assault rifle!”

All of us have absent-mindedly left a wallet, cup of coffee or whatnot on the car and then walked or driven off, but this I think crosses a line between simple carelessness and criminal negligence. Call me old fashioned.

Maybe the taxpayers should spring for a Ginko-Biloba allowance come contract negotiation time between the city and the police officers union.