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57 entries from October 2005

I hate colds

And I want to know why it is lately that when I get a cold, it starts out very mild, makes me think, “No problem, I’ll be over this in a few days tops,” and then a couple days in it opens up on me with both barrels and leaves me stupid and sleepless and utterly useless.

blah.


Woo, batteries

Yep, I had some.

My mouse no longer blinks forlornly at me. All I have to do now is remember to turn the mouse off when I close things down in a little while, so it doesn’t waste these new batteries in useless searches for Bluetooth pairings.

Only the third pair of batteries I’ve needed for the mouse, but two of them were this week because I keep forgetting to turn the damned thing off....


My mouse is blinking at me

RadTech BT500 Bluetooth Mouse
Shamelessly cribbed from the RadTech product page
Bluetooth mouse for my PowerBook.

Low batteries. The scroll wheel blinks a bright blue light at you every 3 or 4 seconds to let you know the batteries are low and also, apparently, to eat up the remaining power that much faster.

I wonder if I’ve any AAAs lying about the house. Ah well, time for a new round of cold meds anyway, off I go to find power sources as well.

(Such a happening Sunday night I’m living here)


Songs for old times

I use the Grouping field in iTunes to classify some of my music according to moods, favorites, certain listening qualities, and so on.

This morning I fired up my OldTimes grouping, a list-in-progress of songs I associate with specific events or periods of my life over the last 15 or 20 years.

In song-title alphabetical order....

Song – Artist, Album
  1. A — Barenaked Ladies, Maybe You Should Drive

  2. A Horse with No Name — America, History: America’s Greatest Hits

  3. Because the Night — 10,000 Maniacs, MTV Unplugged

  4. Birmingham — Amanda Marshall, Amanda Marshall

  5. Blame It On Me — Barenaked Ladies, Gordon

  6. Box Set — Barenaked Ladies, Gordon

  7. Bring Down the Moon — Boy Meets Girl, Reel Life

  8. Crazy — Barenaked Ladies, Gordon

  9. Eden — 10,000 Maniacs, Our Time in Eden

  10. Enid — Barenaked Ladies, Gordon

Continue reading "Songs for old times" »


Platinum Select!

Credit-card companies’ logic mystifies me sometimes.

I hold two Visa cards under the brand of one of the large nationwide issuers. I’d carried balances on these cards for about two years ending in June. While I had outstanding balances, I paid on time and got absolutely no benefit for it, other than the joy of paying down the balances—no special benefit from the credit-card issuer for being an on-time customer or anything like that.

I hadn’t used either card for new purchases in about the two years I had carried balances, and I still haven’t used them since I paid the balances off.

So earlier this week I received notice: The issuer has decided that now I am a Preferred Customer and has bumped my credit limits for both cards and flung at me Platinum Select status, which so far as I can tell means they issue new cards with the same account numbers but with new color schemes. Does nothing for my interest rate or anything actually useful, financially speaking.

Oh, wait, it turns out I do get some sort of awards points on these cards now, points I can redeem for various small incentives (coffee gift cards and the like).

Yeah, definitely will use the cards to stack up points for coffee, because it would be foolish just to buy coffee directly with cash!


Spam subject lines fascinate me

Today’s harvest in date order:

  1. Re: An smoke at crackers exultant
  2. mandrake a graves and citation on hasn't try
  3. barometer see oilseed may directorate may savage may
  4. baseboard or downdraft or dacca
  5. kettle the groundwork be demonic
  6. Fw: or mendacious be infest
  7. diction , shareown try electrode
  8. Re: That read or risk
  9. Which close no swordstick
  10. Fw: but damascus or bat

Links: Oct 29, 2005


Better check your Halloween decorations, just to be sure

Today’s WTF moment:

Yahoo! News: Suicide Mistaken for Halloween Decoration

FREDERICA, Del.—The apparent suicide of a woman found hanging from a tree went unreported for hours because passers-by thought the body was a Halloween decoration, authorities said.

The 42-year-old woman used rope to hang herself across the street from some homes on a moderately busy road late Tuesday or early Wednesday, state police said.

The body, suspended about 15 feet above the ground, could be easily seen from passing vehicles.

State police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Oldham and neighbors said people noticed the body at breakfast time Wednesday but dismissed it as a holiday prank. Authorities were called to the scene more than three hours later.

"They thought it was a Halloween decoration," Fay Glanden, wife of Mayor William Glanden, told The (Wilmington) News Journal.

"It looked like something somebody would have rigged up," she said.

Via substitute and Buzzworthy


LOUDLY RANG THE CELL-PHONE ALARM

Sure enough, I did leave my phone here at work. I always worry when I don’t have the phone at home that maybe I didn’t leave it at work after all, maybe I left it at the store or on the gas pump or on my hood as I drove away from work, but none of those disasters occurred this time.

I wasn’t around to hear the phone’s alarm, of course. I was 7.8 miles away waking up to my cats’ much better alarm service at 05:55.

My phone valiantly signaled its alarm every four minutes from 06:00, however. I imagine the plants and stuffed animals at other desks around mine are plenty awake this morning.


Oh also: Normal fridgery returns

Yay cold storage! Fridge is back to normal operation. The apartment’s maintenance guy and two fridge repairmen showed up before 07:19 to begin work. Apartment guy was absolutely serious when he said “first thing in the morning.”

I was in the shower when they arrived and didn’t realize anyone was in the house until I was getting dressed and heard a CLUNK downstairs. If I’d been a bit more observant, I would have noticed my two cats cowering at the far corner of the bed, but they’re adorably weird sometimes anyway, so it didn’t register with me.

I gave the apartment guy permission for them to enter no matter what, so I suppose I should’ve considered the possibility of their early arrival. In my experience, however, “first thing in the morning” to apartment-management folk means, oh, say, how about 11:00 or noonish? And then we’ll actually show up at 15:30!


I hate it when I leave my cell phone at work

Especially because it’s my only phone outside the office. Absolutely useless when I am outside the office without it, dammit.

If (the five or so of) you (who know my cell number and would have reason to call me) happen to need me before tomorrow morning, please email me. I’ll be checking mail regularly.

:: — :: — ::

UPDATE 21:42: I’m offline and unavailable until 07:00 tomorrow when I arrive at my office.


Light at the end of the tunnel?

I maintain this site at TypePad because I haven’t yet reached the point of geekery that I want to keep it on a server in my own home. That’s partly because, for the first time in many years, I have just one functional computer in my house, a PowerBook that wouldn’t handle hosting a site very well at all.

But it’s mostly because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed TypePad’s service, its flexibility with weblog design and its ease of use, particularly for someone like me whose knowledge of HTML, CSS, scripting, and other web-publishing goodness was limited but growing. I figured a hosted service would let me get my feet wet with the basics of bloggery and design and publishing, and would offer some flexibility to move from hosted to self-hosting via Movable Type if I decided that was the way to go.

I’ve now been with TypePad for over two years, first as a beta tester and later (and still) with a paid account. And with a couple of (unfortunately glaring) exceptions, I’ve been quite pleased with it. On the plus side, when I have had problems, the support I’ve received has been phenomenal. Generally quite fast response times, helpful information and suggestions to solve problems, and so on. These people really know how to run an email-only help desk, and from my own experience running a telephone-based help desk, I have exacting standards about it.

The downsides have been at times like the last two weeks as TypePad has experienced another period of growing pains, phenomenal growth and combined with limitations in its data center that prohibit adding equipment and capacity. When I start to see error messages and daily "performance degraded" notices and nothing beyond that, the frustration level mounts rapidly.

So I’m pleased today to see a detailed post on Mena’s Corner (via Everything TypePad) with details about the causes of the recent problems and what’s being to done to alleviate them.

I already knew TypePad was moving to a new data center; I’ve had a status update about it atop this site since Sun 10/23 (though I removed that notice this morning, changed the wording a bit to reflect my mounting frustration). I’m happy to know it’s in progress and to see more information about the nuts-and-bolts operation of TypePad.

Frustration level way down. Not gone, but it’s much better to get explicit confirmation that they are aware of the annoyance this causes, they’re already working on it, and when they expect to have it finished.

I’ve included the full text of Mena’s post after the jump so I have it for posterity in case it updates.

Continue reading "Light at the end of the tunnel?" »


Sweet story of acceptance and friendship

This story choked me up a bit when I saw it this afternoon.

Seattle Times: Marysville team welcomes “Z-dog”

By Brian Alexander
Times Snohomish County bureau


Other players have embraced “Z-dog” as a friend and teammate, cheering and chanting when he gets a turn running the football.

Zach Weaver is not so unlike the rest of the kids on the Cedarcrest School junior-high football team in Marysville.

No. 96 practices with the rest of the kids and roots them on from the sidelines, and everyone knows him.

But Zach, 14, has fragile X syndrome, a genetic disability caused by the mutation of a gene on the X chromosome that affects about one in 5,000 people. Behaviorally, it has some of the characteristics of autism.

He won’t look strangers in the eye, he has trouble communicating, and he is easily excited or deflated to the point of sobbing.

But this story isn’t just about Zach—it’s about all of the other kids dressed in red who play for the Timberwolves.

Julie and Randy Weaver, Zach’s parents, wanted to get their oldest son involved in a new activity, and though it seemed like a remote possibility, why not try to get him into the biggest sport at Cedarcrest School?

Julie, who is an educational assistant for the Marysville School District, thought the football coaches wouldn’t go for it—it’s too much of a risk, she thought they’d say.

But Randy insisted that his son could do it.

“Let’s put him in a uniform,” he said.

Randy went to the practices at first so he could help Zach suit up and make sure his son was fitting in, and the Weavers hoped to hire someone to take over that responsibility. That’s when something unexpected happened.

Zach’s peers started taking care of him.

full story at Seattle Times site

This Wednesday evening kinda blew

Got home from a busy but otherwise unremarkable day at work and opened the fridge to get a glass of water from the Brita filtered-pitcher thing, and I noticed the water didn’t taste all that cold as I gulped a couple times.

I hate appliances sometimesSo I opened the fridge again and felt the milk bottle and a metal baking dish and both of those felt warm too. Well, not warm exactly, but not cold the way they should be when the fridge is operating properly.

Yep, it’s dead. Not sure when it fritzed out but it must have been sometime today, because it was working this morning when I got out the creamer for my coffee. I remembered it had been making an odd squeaking sound last night but foolishly I paid it no heed.

The apartment complex’s on-call maintenance guy arrived about 20 minutes after I called, fiddled this way and that and diagnosed it as a dead compressor, but stressed he had no way to be certain. He contacted a local repair company and they’ll be out first thing in the morning to get the fridge back on its feet.

I spent an hour cleaning the fridge out and tossing about $70 of groceries I only bought Sunday, dammit, but by tomorrow all should be well once more.

I hate appliances sometimes.


Trivia night!

I found out last night that while I used to be pretty good at Trivial Pursuit, I now suck heinously at it.

Julie Anne hosted a Trivia Night gathering at her Queen Anne apartment. First we feasted on soups—a minestrone and a bean-with-sausage from JA and a pumpkin curry from JA’s friend and coworker Barb—along with salad and these insanely good blue-cheese rolls.

Also alcohol. Oh the alcohol. Although I never felt much more than a mild buzz, but it turned out the several of us who were drinking wine went through the equivalent of five 750mL bottles of a couple of whites, and there was an open bottle of red but I don’t think anyone had any.

We were eight players, so we divided into two teams and started in on the game, Julie Anne’s 20th Anniversary edition. We figured, hey, we’re all in our late 20s to mid-30s, it’s the trivia of our generation, right? And it is. It turns out, however, that none of us knows the trivia of our generation, though Barb and her boyfriend Don did pull a couple of obscure answers right out of the goddamned air a time or two. Their team won (although it was really the two of them, as their teammates had already left by then) and we didn’t even actually finish the game, we gave up with their four pie wedges to our three and called the game on their final correct answer.

I think that was when the mid-30s part of us decided we’d been up way too late and laughing too much and we needed immediately to enter into hibernation to restore our aching bodies.

And speaking of trivia, something I just noticed: Julie Anne and Queen Anne and minestrone all have 10 characters (including the space in the first two).

Yeah, I need to sleep more. . . .


Fiddling around with MarsEdit

MarsEditIconLarge.pngThought I’d try out this MarsEdit app, see how it compares to ecto for desktop blogging.

I’ve tried to get into the habit of using ecto but I never manage more than a couple or three days before I revert to using TypePad’s web interface for posting and managing my site. I suppose that’s mainly because I’m rarely without an Internet connection but I find myself frequently without my laptop. Just easier to maintain connectivity via the web interface than to rely on an application I may not have available all the time.

Now to see how this posts....


“Venti” is Starbucks-ese for “too much coffee”

Stopped at my Starbucks on the way to the office this morning. Ordered a venti non-fat no-whip white chocolate mocha, because I slept horrendously and figured, hey, I could use the full caffeine pick-me-up effect of a 20-OZ COFFEE BOMB!.

That was two hours ago and I’m still sipping at the damned thing. I’ve stuck it in the microwave twice to return it to drinkable temperature, because I am now determined to finish it.

As if it were some worthwhile goal, the complete consumption of this beverage is now the central focus of my life.

I’m so glad it’s Friday.


I like this “personal status page” idea

Link: Everybody needs a personal “status” page | 43 Folders

Lots of sites have status pages. I wish more people had them.

I’ve done this so some extent with this site’s sidebar. It includes my mood (when I remember to update it), my last.fm user page, events I’m tracking via Upcoming.org, and some other stuff.

I also use iChat when I’m online at home, in large part because it allows me to set status messages when I’m available as well as when I’m away. Those available status messages aren’t visible to AIM users, unfortunately; it’d be nice if the various IM clients all had custom available messages in addition to the away status. It’s a great way to let friends and family know what’s going on when they see your name in their buddy lists.

My status info isn’t dynamic otherwise, and in fact I like it that way. I can update the items selectively or not at all; I can quit the last.fm client so my played songs aren’t updated to their site; I can leave my mood unchanged for days or even weeks—I hadn’t changed my mood for about 6 months before a few weeks ago.


Bakery closure ends Wonder Bread for OR, WA

The horror! But all is not lost; apparently we’re keeping our Twinkies:

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Bakery closure means no more Wonder Bread in Washington, Oregon


TACOMA, Wash.—Come December, the Wonder Bread box will be bare in Washington and Oregon.

A decision by bankrupt Interstate Bakeries Corp. to close a bakery in Lakewood will cut off the supply of Wonder Bread, hamburger buns and rolls made by Interstate in both states

About 200 employees will lose their jobs.

The closure is the latest cost-cutting measure by Kansas City, Mo.-based Interstate. The company was forced into bankruptcy protection in 2004 as increasingly health-conscious eaters grew less interested in the company’s famous white bread and other treats, such as Hostess Cup Cakes and Twinkies.

The two states will continue to get a supply of the snack cakes from a Seattle plant that will remain open.

Vacation photos

Central Plaza flowers 04
Central Plaza flowers 04
Flickr: Don Nunn
Finally created a set of photos from the images I captured during our trip to Disneyland two weeks ago.

They’re available two places:

The Flickr set allows commenting and offers higher-resolution images, should that figure into your viewing-others’-travel-pictures decision-making process.

I’m planning to write up a tongue-in-cheek travelogue similar to the story of our Labor Day-weekend trip to Victoria, BC, but without the metric conversions of course. They don’t use metric in Disneyland; everything's measured in whimsical moments per unit time, and I haven’t yet determined the conversions to smiles per hour.

<silly grin>


Apparently my straw and cup lid make a noise like an illicit-drug ingestion

Lunch at Ruby’s Diner today, got an Oreo™ shake to go. Got back to my desk and I was adjusting the straw in the lid for optimal suction angle when my coworker Kate’s voice came over the cubicle wall:

“Don, what are you doing?”

“Why?” I wanted to know. I heard her stepping around the cubicle wall so I said, “It's my straw.”

She said, “You know what that sounded like, right?”

I assumed she meant it sounded like a fart, but I was wrong:

“It sounded like you were taking a bong hit!”


Links: Oct 18, 2005


Washington state politics and history in convenient nugget form

Via Washington’s Secretary of State and the vote.wa.gov and Snohomish County Auditor web sites, we glean, in no particular order, the following appetizing clumps of state/county/local political and historical goodness:

  • There are no statewide elections this year, and not all counties held primaries
  • In the counties (or portions thereof) which did hold primaries, there was a vast “who cares?” attitude from the public, which fact surprises absolutely no one
  • Based on his name alone, Snohomish County Auditor Bob Terwilliger quite likely is a refugee from The Simpsons—though I have it on reasonably good authority that our guy has five fingers on each hand
  • On the Washington state elections calendar—a pretty colorful affair even to color-deficient persons such as myself—the vast majority of the little colored blocks refer to filing deadlines of one type or another
  • The secretary of state’s web site may be translated into six languages besides English via a handy drop-down menu. If only spoken languages were so easily handled
  • There’s a whole list of oral histories provided by legislators, state officials, and citizens who have shaped the state’s political landscape; some of the histories are absolutely fascinating
  • The original die and press for the State Seal is still used by the Secretary of State to impress the seal on official documents—and you can buy official State Seal items too
  • Washington state didn’t have an official design for its state flag until 1923, more than 30 years after statehood
  • A cubic assload: roughly the number of officially filed candidates for the various county-wide and local elections in Snohomish County
  • The list of ballot initiatives is relatively short this time around
  • Government by voter initiative pretty much blows chunks (though I knew this independently of the web sites), though this time we haven’t had to listen to Tim Eyman’s incessant wonkery
  • The recent flap about Voter ID Required (QuickTime video link) is pretty silly for several reasons, among them that the types of acceptable ID are pretty wide-ranging and if you somehow can't provide acceptable ID at your polling place, you'll be given a provisional ballot which counts the same as any other ballot once the validity of your voter registration is established
  • Inexplicably mildly amusing: There’s a brief overview of state history located on a server called concrete.k12.wa.us
  • The Secretary of State’s history site is pretty detailed, with a slew of maps, photographs, and historical documents (including the entire 78-page Washington State Constitution) readily available online. I need to spend a bit of time there

A plethora of visitors

I rarely have unannounced visitors. In the nine months I’ve lived in this townhouse, I believe I’ve had unannounced visitors perhaps one time.

Today, I’ve had unexpected knocks at my door four separate times. On a Sunday.

My family and friends call before they come by, and I’d yet to experience a solicitor at this townhouse. I think that has less to do with the “no soliciting” signs at each end of the property and more to do with the fact that this complex has been here for more than three years and it’s still relatively unknown even though it’s just off a major Snohomish County highway used by a few tens of thousands of vehicles each day. The various online mapping services don’t even recognize my address as valid, for that matter, and they’re usually pretty good about updates within a few months.

So when I had a knock at the door just after 09:00, first I nearly jumped out of my skin, and then when I’d wiped off the splashed bit of coffee I went to the door and yanked it open to find a pair of neighborhood kids who’d lost their baseball on my porch and were afraid of retrieving it without asking me first.

No worries there, we got the ball and off they went.

A couple hours later, another knock, this time a plastic-looking way-too-perky wonk from the LA Fitness down the street with a magnet and a “free companion membership for new members!” offer.

Just after 15:00, another sharp knock. It was a Domino’s driver who’d misread his delivery sheet—the pizzas he had were for unit W3. This was momentarily strange because I’d briefly considered ordering a pizza about an hour before that but hadn't done it and I wondered if they’d developed some method of anticipatory delivery. But anyway, when I order pizza I get it from Papa John’s, because it’s both usually less expensive around here, and I like it a little better.

And finally, at 18:18, a representative for some guy who’s running for some office in Snohomish County wanted to drop by and chat a bit about politics and why her candidate was The Right Guy For The Job!, and also did I have any concerns I wanted her to pass along to her candidate?

My answer: An abruptly closing door.


Links: Oct 16, 2005


Links: Oct 14, 2005


ZONK

Back from Disneyland about an hour ago, thanking myself for taking tomorrow off to cushion the return to work....

We had a FANTASTIC time. Photos/scribbles (possibly) to come.


I had rather a strange night

About 19:45 yesterday, exhaustion slammed down on me like a ten-ton truck. I was out like a freakin' light until 06:30 today.

WTF?

Perhaps the anticipation of the start of my vacation on Thursday overtook me. I hadn't slept a lot the last few nights, though what time I did sleep was good sleep—I woke up feeling refreshed and ahead of my phone alarm, which I don't usually do if I haven't slept well.

Ah well. Today's the last workday for me until next Wednesday, and I'm counting the milliseconds to 17:00 so I can go home and do a last load of laundry and pack and the millions of other little preparatory things (paying my rent for October would be a good one to remember, thank God for those until-the-5th-of-the-month rules) before I leave the house tomorrow.