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40 entries from November 2006

Links for 2006-11-28


You may be in Seattle in winter if:

  • your school is closed because of the possibility of ONE INCH of snow
  • your school-closure reporting web site is overwhelmed by the load of traffic generated from that same possible inch of snow
  • your 13-mile commute takes an hour when snow is falling at the rate of one inch per day
  • your local broadcast-news media have already used three different logos and musical themes for their ongoing BREAKING NEWS! weather coverage
  • your four-foot-tall snowman completely clears the snow accumulation from the 100-square-foot patch of lawn on which it’s standing
  • in the time it takes you to clear ice from your windshield, you ingest more than two shots of espresso
  • you’re wearing four or more layers, and two of those are sweaters
  • you long for the days when high temperatures hit the low 50s—but you normally turn on the space heater if the temp is below 70°
  • your snowball fight ranges across two or more acres because you need an eighth of an acre’s snow accumulation to make a single remotely acceptable snowball

Isn’t this redundant?

I was browsing Rotten TomatoesIn Theaters feature, a listing of currently playing releases in descending order of “freshness” (the scoring system they use), and I scrolled to the bottom to see what the lowest-rated movies were. Not at all surprised to see The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause at that end of the list.

Figured I’d read Rotten Tomatoes’ synopsis to see what pithy comments reviewers had made, and then I saw Rotten Tomatoes’ own “consensus” blurb of the movie:

Playing Jack Frost as an evil cross between Liza Minnelli and Liberace, Martin Short is a welcome presence, but this tired series continues drawing from its bag of bland gags and dumb slapstick.

I thought: Wouldn’t a cross between Liza Minnelli and Liberace by definition be evil?


Chilled

Flickr photo sharing: Chilled
Chilled
Flickr: Don Nunn
When I walked into the living room just now, I saw that my townhouse cooled down quite a bit overnight.

I don’t turn on the heat very often, mainly because when I’m home I’m often in the upstairs part of the house and it stays fairly warm no matter what. I usually don’t even notice the temp changes until there’s enough difference that I can feel the temperature drop with each step down toward the ground floor.

Today is definitely one of those days—right after I snapped this photo, I turned around to crank up the fireplace!


Over the pass

I’d set my phone alarm for 08:00 so I could suck down a pint or so of water and a few ibuprofen tablets to ward off a headache from yesterday’s several hours of slow but consistent (and exclusive) alcohol consumption. I set the alarm volume at “6” on the 1-to-7 scale, and I chose the most piercing irritating godawful alarm sound my phone offers.

I snapped awake at 08:42 to the short and quiet (volume “2”) text-message “bing bong” sound triggered by my friend Michelle’s request that I drive with her over Snoqualmie Pass to help her dad with tire chains so he could complete his road trip into the Seattle area for the holiday weekend.

I jumped out of bed, hopped in turn into the shower, into some clothes, and into the car, and we were off for chains at Les Schwab just up the road from us. Quick stop to fill up the Escape’s fuel tank and we were on the road.

We ran into a bit of weather over Snoqualmie Pass, of course. It was snowing pretty steadily but not really sticking or making the road all that treacherous beyond the wetness. We didn’t run into trouble at all until about 7 or 8 miles past the summit, when we hit stopped traffic from an earlier car crash, and that’s when I whipped out the camera phone.

Flickr photo sharing: Over the pass
Over the pass
Flickr: Don Nunn
I forget each year how much I love the sight of new snowfall on the ground and on trees, and it’s particularly beautiful in the mountains.

Flickr photo sharing: Over the pass
Over the pass
Flickr: Don Nunn
The miles of taillights, however, not so nice. But the stoppages didn’t last very long for us, and on the return trip we beat the planned road closures at 13:30 for avalanche control with plenty of time to spare.


Happy Thanksgiving. :-)

Katharine and I are enjoying the holiday at our friend Julie Anne’s house. A few other friends will be joining us later in the day, but right now we’re caffeinating over the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC.

I’d forgotten how weird these parades are, with the big staged musical numbers and the too-smiley performers and the network shilling its shows.

I broke the coffeemaker last night, so we’ve fallen back to Julie Anne’s espresso maker for our caffeine needs, and Martin Short is being funny (allegedly) as he narrates the parade-route presentation.

I remember now why I haven’t watched this parade since I was a kid!

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Happy holidays, everyone. May you enjoy the warmth of the season, the love of family and friends, and the joy of successes past and possibilities ahead.


Links for 2006-11-22


Seattle Post-Intelligencer continuing coverage of Bellevue construction-crane collapse

Links to today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer stories about the Thu 11/16/06 collapse and its aftermath. Story content or excerpts after the jump; first, all the links:

Continue reading "Seattle Post-Intelligencer continuing coverage of Bellevue construction-crane collapse" »


Links for 2006-11-21


213

I’ve had iTunes running for much of the last 24 hours and, via the magic of a smart playlist, just found out I went through two hundred and change songs.

About music sharing

Music I'm willing to share is linked directly from this page. No link, no sharing—don't email asking for files.
So of course my next impulse was to post the list here.

In play order:

Song — Artist, Album

Continue reading "213" »


Updates on the Bellevue construction-crane collapse

Links to some of the newer stories from the Seattle daily papers’ web sites (some with full story content) after the jump.

First, the links alone for fastest access:

I will say up front that it’s interesting to me how The Seattle Times’ stories concentrate on analysis of all the factors under scrutiny for contributing to the collapse, while Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s main story goes right for the lurid angle, the mildly shocking headline an obvious attempt to sell a few more newspapers the same way television news goes for the easy ratings point with annoying teasers.

Continue reading "Updates on the Bellevue construction-crane collapse" »


I doubt the haters will admit it, but he was a good choice after all

Saw Casino Royale today. (See also the movie’s official Sony Pictures site.)

Normally I avoid movies on their opening days/weekends because of the crowds, but the magic of not working is that I can attend a matinée screening without worrying about taking a three-hour lunch break.

I hadn’t followed the saga of The Choice of Actor to Play James Bond very closely, but I did know two things:

  1. Daniel Craig got the part, and
  2. many Bond fans were outraged by the choice of a blond actor to play the traditionally dark-haired British spy.

Movie poster reproductionI can say without hesitation that Casino Royale is my favorite James Bond movie, and Daniel Craig makes a far more convincing Bond in many ways than anyone has before him.

Oh sure, Sean Connery had the swagger to play the 1960s version of Bond, with the cheesy gadgets and the amusingly named female characters and the sly one-liners and double entendres. And Roger Moore made a refined, gentlemanly Bond who could also kick ass when necessary. And certainly Pierce Brosnan had the suave and polished look down, complete to determinedly pursed lips in each of the four Bond movies he made. Timothy Dalton was okay but generally forgettable, and George Lazenby, well, I haven’t seen his one foray in the film series.

But Craig’s Bond has substance, a bit of a background, some ego and a hint of a few faults and humanity, a combination none of the other Bonds has managed. The film itself is a crackerjack story, smartly edited at a breathless pace with some truly astounding camera and stunt work and no reliance on outlandish gadgetry to get the job done. The Bond of Casino Royale relies on his wits, his brain, his body and fighting skills, occasionally a firearm or three, and comes out ahead of all the others without benefit of a watch with a built-in laser or an automobile that can fire missiles out of its headlight ports.

I remember when Judi Dench was cast as M in 1995’s GoldenEye and in the several Bond movies that followed. She far outclassed the role when it was still in the old flash-and-camp Bond universe; in this newer, grittier, and more realistic Bond world, she makes the part her own as the perfect controlling counterpart to Bond’s occasionally reckless and unpredictable agent. Finally the part has grown to be worthy of Dench’s talents.

Casino Royale is a wholly believable adventure and a reboot of the Bond franchise that makes me look forward to the line at the end of the credits:

JAMES BOND WILL RETURN

More movie info:


Links for 2006-11-17


Crane collapse in Bellevue

I was on my way home from dinner with Julie Anne in downtown Seattle, was listening to the 23:00 national and local news update on the radio, and they didn’t mention this story at all. Very odd.

The crane came down at about 19:45 as the operator was securing it for the night. He rode the crane down and had to be rescued from the cab about 30 feet above the ground when the crane came to rest across one building after clipping parts of at least two others.

Accident location on Google Maps—the crane is visible in this satellite image/road-map hybrid view.

The same location on Live.com Maps—this one offers the “bird’s-eye view” option, a lower-altitude photographic view showing the buildings from several angles.

After the jump, I’ve included the content of initial stories from the two major local daily newspapers’ web sites.

Continue reading "Crane collapse in Bellevue" »


New Google Maps logo

Google Maps logo - AfricaJust fired up Google Maps and noticed a new logo with Africa in place of the lower-case g.

Usually such logos highlight world events or important days or the like, and clicking them leads to related search results. This one only reloads the main Google Maps screen, however. But it’s a cool incorporation of geography into a logo to indicate quickly what the site’s purpose is.


Broken RAZR and hinge pivot

Flickr photo sharing: Broken RAZR and hinge pivot
Broken RAZR and hinge pivot
Flickr: Don Nunn
I dropped my RAZR in the kitchen tonight. The phone skittered toward the fridge; the hinge pivot bounced wildly across the kitchen and landed with several distinctly clattering *plink* sounds next to the dishwasher.

Phone still works but it flops uselessly about, no spring force to hold it open or closed.

Update Sun 11/19/06: RAZR’s dead after a week. Dropped on a tile floor.


Links for 2006-11-10


More rain coming

Weather Underground 5-day forecast for 98012Speaking of rain, looks like we’re in for another series of storms over the next five days.

It’s all listed as “light rain” of varying degrees (“definite,” “likely,” “chance of”) in the detail pages, and no indication of expected totals. They often list even the most intense downpours as “light rain mist,” however, so I’m not so sure I’d trust their accumulation predictions anyway.


Thursday, randomly

Katharine called me up Tuesday afternoon, wanted a ride to an eye appointment Wednesday at 10:30 and would treat me to lunch and a massage at InSpa for my (considerably negligible) trouble.

So I appeared at her apartment Wednesday at 10:00, waited for her to finish a couple of things in her apartment, and then we drove to her eye appointment and around various parts of Kirkland, Woodinville, and Bothell with the Magellan RoadMate 3000T GPS receiver she won by playing some game at McDonald’s.

Over the few hours we were together, she had to remind me several times to drive the damned car, she would fiddle with the GPS so we’d know where we were and where we were going. Even though we were going places we’ve been hundreds of times before, but we had to be able to track it and get directions via high technology in the geeky way of the 21st century.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

I had the InSpa Signature massage, same thing I’ve had every time I’ve ever been there. Except they recently changed their services menu a bit so the Signature massage now includes the option of some sort of pseudo-manicure/pedicure thing while you’re on the table.

I stayed away from that, but I did end up smelling like a tub of IcyHot because the masseuse asked if I’d like a mild analgesic cream rubbed into my back while she worked a couple of knots out from below my shoulder blades.

I didn’t notice the full-blown cool/heat sensation I’ve had from actual IcyHot treatment—turned out this was their own menthol concoction, probably available in quantity in the lobby right now for only $69 per ounce!—but the fragrance was quite distinct for the next half hour or so.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

All day today my cats have been engaged in their own version of SmackDown!, wherein they spend hours rushing back and forth between the master bedroom and the guest bedroom/office, occasionally stopping for a few minutes of what looks like really violent (and painful, damn those claws) wrasslin’.

My cats weigh about six pounds each. How they manage to make the building rattle so loudly is entirely beyond me, but they’ve been keeping me entertained all day.

Of course the moment I make a move to grab my camera for a video clip, they stop. Evil creatures.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

I had a telephone interview yesterday and at one point I was asked to rattle off a sample SQL query I’d use for a simple last-names-beginning-with-S extraction from a data table.

I found it briefly brain-cramp-inducing to try to say a SQL query, instead of the usual typing it out. I need to brush up a bit anyway, maybe it’s time to make my PowerBook crash a few times as I slam around with MySQL.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

In today’s post I had (what I hope was) the last gasp of elections-related mail for 2006. A couple of the local candidates’ mailings must have been delayed and appeared in my mailbox today.

I noticed immediately after Election Day ended, the campaign signs I saw most often were for the losing candidates. I guess their campaign volunteers got a bit discouraged after their candidates’ losses and didn’t put as much effort into the removal of campaign materials as possible, huh?

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Snohomish County maintains a web site voters can use to determine if their mail-in ballots have been received. I checked yesterday afternoon because I figured, since I dropped off my ballot midday Tuesday at a collection spot, my votes would be counted pretty quickly. No joy, though.

Still no joy as of tonight, in fact. But I imagine particularly at the end of the ballot-submission period, they’re backlogged with the data entry to confirm the ballots’ status.

Anyway, I already know all of my candidate choices won their races, whether or not my votes have been explicitly counted. The magic of exit polling and statistical projections.

Democracy in action, 2006. The biggest problem we’ve had in Washington state is the recent heavy rain that resulted in flooding, land- and mudslides, and other problems which are delaying some precincts’ ballot submissions. But in most cases those ballots won’t change the outcomes of any races.

I am so glad the elections season is over for another year. The bullshit negative advertising was starting to irritate me beyond belief, to the point that I would stab at my car radio tuner buttons the moment a commercial break began so I wouldn’t have to listen to any more of the crap flowing freely from all sides.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

The two trees directly in front of my townhouse are holding on to their leaves most tenaciously. The leaves have changed color but only a few have fallen from each tree, and with the daily visits from the apartment complex’s landscaping company and their 200-mph Blowers From Hell, what leaves have fallen disappeared almost instantly.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Speaking of apartment complexes, they painted our doors over the last two weeks. They had to sand the previous paint coatings down to ensure adhesion, then they had to remove the weatherstripping and apply the new paint, and then they had to come back 24 hours later to reinstall the weatherstripping.

All of these activities freaked out the various pets in my building, but they utterly intrigued my two cats, both of whom sat staring intently at the door last Thursday when the worker was here doing the sanding. The swish-swish-swish sound of the sanding just completely enthralled them; neither made a move the entire half-hour or so the worker was at his task.

The painting itself happened Monday. From about 11:00 onward my apartment was full of the scent of fast-drying enamel paint, and the door was surrounded by fluorescently bright  WET PAINT DO NOT TOUCH  tape.

It was like my own little crime scene for a day or so.


Victoria, BC’s “Dine Around & Stay in Town” event in Feb/Mar 2007

Victoria, BC Dine Around & Stay in Town logoSimilar to the Dine Around Seattle event going on right now, Victoria restaurants (and some hotels) participate in the Dine Around & Stay in Town event from Feb 15 to Mar 04, 2007.

The restaurants offer three-course meals at one or or more of three price points: $15.00 CDN/$13.00 US, $25.00 CDN/$23.00 US, or $35.00 CDN/$32.00 US per person. The hotels offer accommodations at $79.00 CDN/$71.00 US, $99.00 CDN/$90.00 US, and $129.00 CDN/$117.00 US, making a quick trip to Victoria to sample a few restaurants a fairly economical proposition.

I looked at the list of restaurants that participated in the 2006 event and saw several of my Victoria-area favorites included on the list, at each of the three menu prices.

Victoria is already a pretty special little town for me. They keep giving me reasons like this to visit and eventually I won’t want to leave.


Links for 2006-11-09


Election Day 2006

Election Day for me lasted just 16 minutes.

First, I spent 14 minutes at my dining-room table, filling out my mail-in ballot. I had spent several hours over the last few weeks reading the two voters’ pamphlets I received (Washington state and Snohomish County), so I was up on the various propositions and initiatives and I’d read the candidates’ personal statements.

I needed about 10 minutes to draw my connecting lines across the arrow parts that indicated my votes. This was the first time I’d ever voted a straight party ticket, and the party vote wasn’t a single option—it happened that all the candidates I chose in the partisan races were Democrats.

It took me, to my annoyance, four minutes or so to discern the exact method by which Snohomish County intended me to seal my ballot first in its “secrecy envelope” and then in its mailing envelope, which I had to sign and then fold in an only-in-government origami method to hide the signature from prying eyes while preserving its status for later verification, if that becomes necessary.

Then I remembered a page in the SnoCo pamphlet, a listing of drop-off locations for the mail-in ballots in case voters wanted to save a stamp. My local drop-off was at a QFC store about a mile and a half away, so I donned my jacket and a hat and walked down Main Street to complete my civic duty.

The drop-off location workers offered me a Snickers bar and/or a cookie for my trouble, but I declined. They didn’t have any “I Voted!” stickers, which I really wanted so I could photograph myself looking goofy with an oversize (and probably brightly colored) badge of honor affixed to my chest.

So instead I wandered further into the store and picked up a couple grocery items while I was out and about.