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31 entries from January 2005

“I hurt my ass” is a fun way to be greeted when you answer the phone

My cell phone (the only phone I have right now) rang just after 09:00 Friday. I glanced at the external screen and saw Katharine’s smiling countenance (picture caller ID rox!); I figured she had a morning update from her business trip to Irvine.

So I flipped open the phone and greeted her in my usual way of late: “’Sup, chica?”

Her reply: “I fell and hurt my ass!”

When the laughter died down, she told me the whole story, paraphrased:

Walking from hotel out to car with backpack over left shoulder, duffel bag over left arm, orange muffin in right hand. Shifting bag on left arm to right hand, missed a stair, went down, landed on ass. Smashed muffin by reflexive grip motion of right hand; bruised ass on stair.

She did the “Did anyone see this happen?” glance as she stood up, but happily no one did see it. So her ego at least was intact, if her breakfast and her ass didn’t fare so well.

Mon dieu, an actually HELPFUL customer-service person!

I disconnected my cable and high-speed Internet services at my old Salt Lake City address effective Jan 05, but in yesterday's post I received a bill from Comcast informing me I owed the usual monthly amount for service from Jan 05 to Feb 04. The bill was postmarked 01/07/05 with a due date of 01/14/05, but with the several dozen mail-forwarding orders and corrections I've had over the last month, it didn't arrive until yesterday's post.

This morning I called and spoke with Nancy, a highly energetic and very friendly (I could hear her smiling) customer service associate in Comcast's SLC-area office. I told her I'd requested a service disconnect as of 01/05/05 but I'd just received a bill for service for the month beginning that date.

She commiserated.

"I'm so sorry," she said. "Our system generated the bill that day and the entry about the disconnect completion didn't happen until after the bill was printed and mailed."

And then she gave me the good news: I'm due a refund of just under $84, the check's going out this weekend (so she said). I've no idea why I'm due this refund, because I had no outstanding balance at the time the disconnect occurred, but if they want to refund me my last month of actual service too, I'm not about to save them from themselves.

One of the few actually helpful customer-service folks I've ever encountered. Kinda nice way to start a Thursday morning. :-)

Houseguest 101: How to tell your visitor is a woman

In no particular order and presuming the obvious physical attributes leave you unconvinced:

  1. Your own hair is only about 1.5 inches long, but you regularly remove 8"-or-longer brown hairs from various parts of your anatomy.

  2. The number of bottles, containers, and implements in your shower doubles in the space between heartbeats.

  3. Purses and other bags. Everywhere.

  4. Your morning routine suddenly includes a runway-model demonstration of how pretty that day's outfit is.

  5. Also, see how well the pantyhose coordinate with the earrings?

  6. All formerly bare bathroom counter space now holds at least 14 beauty implements.

  7. The Masque of the White Death* every night.

  8. Scented candles appear throughout the house as if by magic.

Motorola RAZR V3: First impressions

Motorola RAZR V3 silverI picked up Motorola’s flagship (for now) RAZR V3 phone through Cingular on Sat 01/22. I’m a whore for cool-looking technology, and though my previous experience with Motorola’s phones was limited to a single month with a T720 flip phone with AT&T Wireless service a couple of years ago, I was ready to take the plunge once more.

This is the third day I’ve used the RAZR V3; I still have 27 days remaining on the 30-day “no questions asked” satisfaction policy if I decide to return it. Here are my impressions so far, in no particular order.

  • It is sleek, but a bit more clunky-looking than the advertisements would have you believe. My first thought when I saw it in person at the Cingular store: "Damn, it’s so wide!" Very thin and squarish, certainly, but the thinness does require a bit more width. After these three days, however, I’ve found I like the wider body; helps me keep a secure grip on the phone.
  • The camera offers VGA-quality resolution (640x480). About twice the resolution of my previous cameraphone, the pictures still show some distortion which may be an imperfection in the lens assembly. Since I only intend to use the RAZR V3’s camera for quick shots when I don’t have another (better-quality) camera available, it’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept.
  • The phone does not offer the ability to rotate photos shot with the camera, so I’m stuck with the image’s orientation. Makes remote posting of photos to Flickr and my photo album a bit less attractive if I know I’ll have to rotate the images later.
  • The die-cut aluminum keypad is beautiful to view, something of a pain to use. Since the keys aren’t raised above the surface of the keypad, I don’t have the immediate tactile feedback I could rely on with other phones to find they key I want. The 5 key does have a slightly raised rubberized face, however, so once I’m used to it, I expect I’ll be able to dial without looking at the phone much.
  • I’m still stumbling over the menu structure and the fact that many of the softkey functions (the two keys immediately below the screen and to the left and right of the multi-direction "joystick"-type key in the middle) are exactly the reverse of phones I’ve used before.
  • Speaking of softkeys: The volume keys and "smart" keys (which have different functions based on the phone’s use at a given moment) are mounted on the flip, not on the main phone body as with Motorola’s previous flip-style phones. This makes them hard to manipulate if I’m on the phone, say, and want to adjust the handset volume. Bad design choice there, in my view.
  • The predictive-text function for messages isn’t the T9 system I’m accustomed to using with the Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones I’ve used before. Motorola uses its own system called iTap and it takes some adjustment, but after a couple of days I’m pretty proficient with it. I still often press the 0 key to get a space (T9-style) when in fact that changes the shift mode in iTap.
  • I absolutely hate how Motorola phones play the same sound for both regular calls and incoming text messages for contacts I’ve assigned custom ringtones. I hated this with the T720 a couple years ago, I despise it now.
  • I really wish the RAZR V3 was compatible with my Palm Tungsten T3, but I’ve yet to figure out a way to get them to talk to each other nicely. The RAZR V3 does handle iSync pretty well, but only via USB cable—no Bluetooth for that function. I haven’t tried using the phone as a Bluetooth modem for my PowerBook yet.
  • The HS810 headset sounds phenomenally clear and is so lightweight, I’ve forgotten a couple of times when I had it clipped to my ear. If only it wouldn’t do its annoying flashing-blue-light number to let me know it’s turned on; very distracting if I happen to be wearing it and someone is talking to me in person.

All in all, I’m happy with the phone and even if I decide it isn’t right for me, I’ll use it the full three weeks remaining in the 30-day return window. I didn’t give my last Motorola phone enough of a chance, so this time I’ll go the opposite direction to make sure I don’t jump the gun with a return.

UPDATE 05/03/05 19:29: The RAZR V3 is now compatible with iSync via Bluetooth, according to the compatible-devices list. I haven't tried syncing my RAZR via Bluetooth yet, gotta back up the contacts to the SIM card.

Friends (and their business ventures) in the news

This snippet appeared in the Talk of the Town column of Jul 01, 2004, when I'd been back in Salt Lake City just shy of one month after the abortive run to the Phoenix area (argh).

Link in the title leads to the entire column; I've excerpted the applicable section:

Seattle Times: Eat frites
by Nancy Leson

When a friend tipped me off to a new Belgian frites joint on Capitol Hill—explaining that this hard-to-spot storefront with the nebulous address was on Tenth Avenue between Pike and Union—I made a beeline for the spuds-line. It was well into the lunch-hour when I cadged a lucky parking space right in front of Frites and plastered my nose to the glass only to find that fry me a river had turned into cry me a river: The place was closed. Hungry and despondent, I went around the corner to console myself with Vietnamese noodles and returned to find the place open.

"Bus trouble," explained co-owner Corey Allred, who with his pal Anthony Falco opened this funky frites shop that made its debut two months ago, plying fries to patrons of the adjacent nightclub, Neumo's. Soon I was straddling one of seven stools (there's also a single table), bellying up to the scarred wooden bar to watch as Allred—who studies music theory at Shoreline Community College and had a jazz textbook on the countertop to prove it—fried up a batch of frites.

Story goes his buddy Falco had spent six months in Amsterdam and returned to Seattle with a wicked jones for Belgium's national snack, passing his passion on to Allred, who has cooked in various kitchens around town for years. "He'd bring in all these potatoes to the place I was working," said the fry-cook, who, through trial and error, found the right recipe, the right potatoes (russets) and the precise frying time (there is no precise frying time due to the vagaries of potatoes' water content, he learned). Next he worked up a batch of sauces and is now doing business serving Belgian frites (and the occasional tofu corn dog) Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.—bus-schedule-snafus notwithstanding.

Served as is customary in paper cones, with fat flat toothpicks for those who'd rather not scorch their fingers, these chubby salted fries are crisp outside and fluffy within and available in three sizes: grotes (large, $5.50), middel (medium, $4) and klein (small, $2.50). A single sauce is complimentary, and a quarter buys an "extra." For my money, the five-sauce sampler ($1) is worth it, and gives you leave to taste five of the 15 sauces offered. These include such Belgian standards as "fritesous," tartar sauce and curry ketchup, available in addition to the likes of roasted red pepper chipotle, tzatiki and pesto mayo. Check it out.

Corey's a longtime friend of mine from back in the 1990s in Salt Lake. I haven't had a chance to stop by Frites yet—I haven't seen Corey in a few years now, in fact—but I plan to do so in the next short while, and before even trying the place I can heartily recommend you give it a shot as well.

Frites on Google Maps for easy reference.

First night in the new townhouse

Moved the bed into the bedroom so I'd have a place to sleep—first sleep on my own bed since Jan 03, woo hoo!—and I moved a single chair into the living room so I could relax a bit when I got here. Tomorrow I'll be moving the rest of the furniture up with help from my sister Katharine and several of our friends, and then it'll be time to organize and get accustomed to the new space.

It's so quiet tonight. My two cats are staying one more night at Katharine's so we won't stumble over them while we're moving furniture around tomorrow. With luck they'll only have this one more place to get used to over the next few days, and then they'll be able to settle into a routine.

I took a few dozen photos of the empty space when I got the keys yesterday. One of these days I'll post them, but today's not that day. Right now, today's "go to bed" day.

Late night at the lab

Putting together a bunch of data for a client on a Friday deadline.

Someone nearby has "Safety Dance" playing at high volume from a cheap radio. The combination of Pop Flashback From Hell and tinny sound is driving me insane.

Oh yes, also. I moved into the townhouse today. By which I mean, "I got the keys and will be moving my furniture in fits and starts from the basement to the rest of the house over the next several days."

I'm most pleased finally to be in the address I've been giving out for the last 8 days. :-)

The headline alone makes this story. Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider
Most say inauguration festivities should be toned down

(CNN)—On the eve of President Bush’s inauguration, a poll shows the nation is split over whether he has united or divided the nation, but a majority believe his inauguration festivities should be toned down because of the war.

During the 2000 campaign, Bush promised to be a “uniter, not a divider.”

Forty-nine percent of 1,007 adult Americans said in phone interviews they believe Bush is a “uniter,” according to the CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday. Another 49 percent called him a “divider,” and 2 percent had no opinion.

The results nearly match those of a poll taken in October 2004, which showed 48 percent considered Bush a “uniter” and 48 percent called him a “divider,” with 4 percent having no opinion.

Bush’s inauguration was viewed by 69 percent, more than two-thirds of respondents, as a celebration by the winning presidential candidate’s supporters rather than a celebration of democracy by all Americans, as 29 percent saw it. Two percent had no opinion.

And 79 percent of poll respondents said they believe the inauguration ceremony will not do much to heal political divisions in the country. Eighteen percent said it would, and 3 percent had no opinion.

Also, 54 percent said the celebration should be toned down this year, compared with other inaugurations, because the country is at war. Forty-five percent said the inauguration should be held just as in other years, and 1 percent had no opinion.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said they believe protests during the inaugural celebration would be inappropriate, regardless of whether they believed people had a right to protest. When the same question was asked in January 2001, 71 percent said protests are inappropriate.

Asked about the president’s most important role, 34 percent of respondents said it should be to manage the federal government and 24 percent said it should be to provide moral leadership.

Another 20 percent said it is acting as commander-in-chief of the military, up from 9 percent in a poll taken eight months before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The telephone poll was conducted Friday through Sunday. It has a 95 percent confidence rate, and the margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Construction worker changing jobs after nail removed from head

Patrick Lawler with nail removed from his skull
At a news conference Tuesday, Patrick Lawler studies the nail that was removed from his head. (AP/Rocky Mtn News)
LITTLETON, Colorado (AP)—A construction worker who shot himself in the head with a nail gun—an accident he didn't discover until he went to the dentist with a nagging toothache—said he'll change his line of work.

"I'll make pizzas," Patrick Lawler, 23, said Tuesday.

Lawler, who may be released from the hospital as early as Wednesday, was working on a house near Breckenridge when he accidentally fired the nail into his head. He said it felt like he had been hit with a steel baseball bat.

Lawler didn't realize the gun had fired a 4-inch nail through his mouth and 1 1/2 inches into his brain until six days later, when he went to a dental office complaining of a toothache that just wouldn't go away.

An X-ray revealed the nail, and surgeons removed it last week.

"The nail could have been millimeters to one side and it would have severed an optic nerve, leaving him blind," said Dr. Sean Markey, who operated on Lawler. "He's unbelievably lucky."

Lawler said he doesn't know how he'll pay medical bills estimated to reach $100,000. He's uninsured.

"I was self-employed on the job," he said. "I would have had to carry my own health insurance. But I didn't think I'd shoot myself with a nail, you know?"

When I first heard this story I was amazed the guy didn't lobotomize himself, but this confirms he had little to worry about. You can't damage what isn't there.

If he goes in to the pizza biz, he'll probably end up with a whole pepperoni embedded in his right nostril and won't notice it until he goes to the otolaryngologist complaining of sinus trouble. Attorney meets the 'jury pool from hell'

Sex, drugs and bias—prospective jurors acknowledge all

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP)—Defense attorney Leslie Ballin called it the "jury pool from hell."

The group of prospective jurors was summoned to listen to a case of Tennessee trailer park violence.

Right after jury selection began last week, one man got up and left, announcing, "I'm on morphine and I'm higher than a kite."

When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted of a crime, a prospective juror said that he had been arrested and taken to a mental hospital after he almost shot his nephew. He said he was provoked because his nephew just would not come out from under the bed.

Another would-be juror said he had had alcohol problems and was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. "I should have known something was up," he said. "She had all her teeth."

Another prospect volunteered he probably should not be on the jury: "In my neighborhood, everyone knows that if you get Mr. Ballin (as your lawyer), you're probably guilty." He was not chosen.

The case involved a woman accused of hitting her brother's girlfriend in the face with a brick. Ballin's client was found not guilty.

So... yeah.

Menino Macaco

Menino Macaco
Menino Macaco
Originally uploaded by mrsdalloway
Ah, the joys of childhood....

When I was a kid, our neighbours had a huge (rapidly dying, as it turned out) cherry tree, perfect for climbing, in their back yard. We spent many a summer day crawling this way and that among the tree's branches, and when their dad built a platform in a wye about 12' off the ground, we spent a few nights up there too.

What a grand time.

Moved in, sort of

Life on a truckThe movers arrived at 09:15 and unloaded my belongings (in just one hour) into the garage of the townhouse, and now my two cats and I are temporary residents in my sister's living room. Her two cats are dealing with things in stride, mostly. But her younger cat, a Siamese named Buto, is being a world-class wonk about the whole thing: Hissing, spitting, general bitchiness.

My life in a garageThe load went from the truck, where it was so tightly packed you couldn't slip a piece of paper between the items, into the garage, where it's spread out over maybe 240 square feet at one end of the space. I could still fit my car in the garage if I wanted; guess I don't have as much crap as I thought. It must be the moving-twice-in-8-weeks thing last summer that did it.

Only six nights to go!

Toenail fungus treatment for $1100?

Better keep those toenails trimmed—from The Seattle Times, a story of medical billing gone utterly bananas:

Patient sues over fee for toenail procedure
By Carol M. Ostrom
Seattle Times staff reporter

Lori Mill is an accountant. She’s also one of an increasing number of people whose health insurance pays only 80 percent of her medical costs.

So when she got a $1,133 bill for a 30-second procedure in Virginia Mason Medical Center’s downtown outpatient clinic—the doctor clipped her toenail and sent it to the lab to be tested for fungus—she read it carefully. And she started asking questions.

She learned that if she’d gone to a different Virginia Mason outpatient clinic, such as the Kirkland clinic, where her doctor also practices, the bill would have been at least $418 less—the amount included on her bill as “miscellaneous hospital charges.”

Nobody at Virginia Mason told her any of this ahead of time, said Mill, who lives in Everett and works in downtown Seattle.

“When I’m paying 20 percent of that bill, if I had known about [the charges] up front, I would not have been in that downtown clinic,“ she said. Virginia Mason refused to change her bill, Mill said, even after she asked her insurer’s fraud department to review the case. So Mill told her story to a lawyer.

Yesterday, John Phillips filed a lawsuit he hopes to have certified as a class action against Virginia Mason, alleging unfair and deceptive practices in charging patients more at one clinic than the other, and not telling patients ahead of time.

Also named as a plaintiff in the suit is DeLois Gibson, another insured patient who says she had virtually the same experience. After she had a small bump on her neck excised at the same downtown clinic, her bill for $1,451 included $846 for hospital charges, according to the lawsuit. Like Mill, she pays 20 percent of her medical bills, and says she was never warned that her choice of clinics would make a huge difference in the cost.

Patti Crome, Virginia Mason senior vice president and clinic administrator, said she was unable to comment specifically about the lawsuit because officials there had not had time to analyze it.

“We’re obviously taking this very seriously. We need some time to investigate what the issues are, and gather the facts,” she said.

In general, Crome said, “patients are our top priority, and we believe we bill them appropriately. We’re happy to talk with them about any concerns they might have about their bill or their care.”

Phillips, working in conjunction with a Mississippi lawyer who has pursued class actions against nonprofit hospitals across the country, filed lawsuits against two health systems in Washington and Oregon last year. Those suits alleged that uninsured patients pay inflated “sticker prices” for care, while insured patients get deep discounts.

He says the lawsuits signal a change in health care: Patients are having to learn to be consumers because “increasingly, as a population, they are being required to pay the costs.”

But for patients to be good consumers, Phillips said, health-care providers must give patients enough information to make choices.

And that, he said, rarely happens.

The American Medical Association, Phillips notes, has said that patients insured by Medicare who have surgical procedures done at hospital-based facilities “should be protected” from significantly greater charges than they would have received at non-hospital-affiliated centers. It also encourages consumer groups to inform patients of price differences “so as to facilitate informed choice of care.”

On its Web site, the Virginia Mason Seattle Main Clinic appears similar in every way but size and number of practitioners to the Kirkland clinic.

Mill was able to discover what the charge would have been if she’d gone to the Kirkland clinic only because she had the diagnostic code from her bill for the procedure, she said.

“Lori Mill is a pioneer in that regard,” Phillips said. “At minimum, it will make hospitals—this hospital—more transparent in their pricing. If you’re transparent, you have to be fair. Because you can’t be transparent and unfair for very long.”r />
Phillips brought the lawsuit under the Washington Consumer Protection Act, which could result in triple damages being awarded each patient in the class, up to a maximum of $10,000 per patient. He has a “tandard”contingency-fee arrangement with the patients, he said. Attorney fees also could be awarded directly to him under the statute if the patients prevail.

Brain... scattered....

As part of my recent habit of switching apartments about as often as I change socks, I'm finding myself scatterbrained much more often.

Last night I left my sunglasses at the office and this morning spent several frantic minutes looking around the apartment for them before I had a "Eureka!" moment: Suddenly clearly remembered leaving them on the desk at work.

This morning I walked into the kitchen with my cell phone in my hand (I'd just finished a call with my sister). A couple of minutes later I left and was in the act of scraping ice off my windshield when my mom came running out to the parking lot to give me my phone, which was important because I'm waiting to hear from the movers today.

No phone, no belongings. Not that it matters much, as they'll be unloading into the garage beneath the townhouse in which I'll be living eventually, but I'd sure as hell like to know when they're going to be here. And I have to confirm the address change with the driver.

I've also lost, on varying days and for varying lengths of time (and in no particular order):

  • The power adapter for my PowerBook
  • The case with my Palm handheld, my driver license, and my credit cards
  • My car and house keys
  • Various papers related to my new job (mostly forms I took home to fill out)
  • The three movies I had out from Netflix when I left SLC

Next to go will be my mind. Here's hoping I'll be able to find it.

Bad Coffee Mojo

You know your day may not go so well when you leave the house, stop at a local coffee house for a venti mocha and a little pastry, drive 10 miles to work without incident, and then stumble and spill your coffee all over the stairs when you get to the office.

I didn't even get a sip, dammit.

If that isn't a sure sign of a hell day ahead, I don't know what is.

(It also says a lot about our society that a spilled cuppa marks the worst part of my day....)

Light at the end of the tunnel?

So I’ve been dealing with this apartment idiocy for a couple days now. Today I spoke to the complex’s manager and we may be close to figuring out a solution.

It seems there are no immediate openings in the non-ADA-accessible two-bedroom/two-bathroom floor plan I have now. The earliest opening is at the end of this month, but it’s also an ADA version; no known regular versions coming up in the next 40 days.

Until I have the signed papers and keys and I’ve moved my belongings (clothes, towels, cats, laptops) from this empty apartment to that empty townhouse, I’m still knocking on woodSo I asked about their two-bedroom/one-bathroom floor plan. Again, no soap; there’s one coming available at the end of this month, but the one that was available now was rented yesterday.

But it turns out they do have at least one unit available in each of two of their townhouse floor plans, The Dawnville and The Daycrest.

Honestly, could the names be any cheesier?

So I looked at the two plans online and saw the emtpy spaces in person and decided the Dawnville was the way to go, and tomorrow I’ll be working with the manager to make it all happen. I’ll be getting the same lease rate as I have on this 2-bedroom fiasco, which should work out to several hundred bucks’ savings, according to the absurdly high rates they list on their web site.

Can’t happen soon enough, far as I’m concerned. While I was in the complex office tonight, the “leasing consultant" who was helping me admitted she’d also recently been burned by an unknown ADA-accessible layout in a condo she’d bought, and is in fact still in a several-months-long battle with her real-estate agent over the whole thing.

My first thought: “You bought a condo without looking at it first?” But I didn’t want to ask because she was scatterbrained enough without the interruptions.

So things may be settling down here soon, but until I have the signed papers and keys and I’ve moved my belongings (clothes, towels, cats, laptops) from this empty apartment to that empty townhouse, I’m still knocking on wood.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

And how’s your Tuesday?

Knee-deep in the hoopla

We arrived safely in the Seattle area Fri 01/07 at about 20:00. Flogged our way through snow in OR and much of eastern and central WA, saw probably a dozen or so cars that had slid off the road on the several miles of I-90 leading to Snoqualmie Pass. As soon as we crossed the pass, the roads were dry and we zoomed into Lynnwood at about 70mph.

Spent Saturday signing my name and initials a lot and unloading the car (clothes, cats, some miscellaneous straggler items from the SLC apartment), and then we ran errands. The new gig starts Mon 01/10 and the rest of the week is more organizing, more waiting for the moving van to arrive.

I'll still be out of touch somewhat—new high-speed Internet service won't be active until Wednesday—but keep an eye on for image updates.

Into the apartment, but still in limbo

Signed my name and initials at least 100 times yesterday and took possession of my new apartment around noon. We're still in a form of stasis, though, because my belongings won't arrive until later in the week, so we're spending the nights on the floor in sleeping bags while the cats wrestle and play around us.

My apartment has a cool dark color scheme—black appliances, dark countertops, beige walls that are quite a change from the standard-issue stark-white used in most apartments nowadays. But there's one thing I didn't know when I accepted the paperwork for this place:

The apartment is also ADA-accessible.

This means it has nice wide walking spaces—the entrance hallway, for example, is nearly 4' wide—but it also means odd trade-offs in storage spaces for a person like me who does not need the ADA features. For example, part of the kitchen is given over to a lower-height counter with open space beneath it to accommodate a wheelchair, so almost 1/3 of the available cabinet space below the counters is just gone, and there's only one full-width drawer in the kitchen (suitable for a silverware holder). The rest of the drawers are all these half-width or narrower numbers.

There's one thing I didn't know when I accepted the paperwork for this place:

This apartment is
And then there's the bathrooms. The master bathroom's counter ends a good 4' from the toilet. The toilets in both bathrooms are those taller-than-usual numbers to allow wheelchair-bound users to shift easily from chair to toilet and back without having to raise or lower themselves significantly. Both tubs have shower heads mounted on those raise-or-lower bars so a seated person could use the shower effectively, but for a standing person, the water streams are irritatingly low.

And one glaring ommission for a supposedly ADA-accessible apartment: The bathrooms have no grab bars. I guess maybe they install the bars if a renter requests them, but I'd expect them to be installed by default and have to be removed if a renter didn't need them.

All in all, these are features I don't need or want and are causing me a good deal of annoyance in the 24 hours or so I've been in the place. The trade-offs to storage space don't seem worth it, especially since I plan to live here for at least two years and/or until I own a house of my own.

So I must go to the apartment office when they open at noon and find out if all the ground-floor apartments are ADA-accessible, as the one leasing consultant (oh how I hate that title) told me back in November. If so, I'm gonna have to figure out exactly what to do—stay here, find something at another property? If not, I'll be asking them if there are any non-ADA apartments available right now so I can switch around and not be annoyed for the next few years.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

And how's your Sunday?

And we're here

Arrived in the Puget Sound area about 19:30 and drove into the hotel parking lot about 20:15. We're checked in, our belongings in the room, now headed to dinner and relaxation for a while.

We had no problems with snow (didn't see any snow, in fact) until past Ontario, OR, on I-84. Even then we weren't slowed by it; the road was clear and not at all slick even where some snow was sticking to the surface. When we got to Ellensburg, WA, and headed toward Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, we encountered a lot of skittish drivers and many vehicles off the road, but we weren't encumbered by it either.

Tomorrow I sign the lease for my apartment and then we start the daily routine Monday, first day on the job. :-)

And away we go....

Packing and loading done, now begins the waiting

The packing crew finished in record time Monday. They arrived at 08:50 and left at 12:30, and they took a 20-minute break at 10:00. I was just astounded—everything packed much better than I've ever done it, in fewer boxes, with better breakage protection and much better "what's in this box" info on the outside.

The loaders were scheduled to arrive between 13:00 and 14:00 yesterday but actually arrived at 12:45, and they were finished by 15:15. Their load/unload schedule means my belongings will likely arrive on 01/14, the final day of the Jan 06-14 delivery window they originally estimated.

We'd originally planned to start driving to Seattle today, but now we're waiting until Friday and will drive straight through, barring EVILE WEATHER. It'll be nice to have two of us in the car with my cats, so one can drive and the other entertain the cats and we can switch off when the driver gets tired.

And the best part of it all: The snow waited a day so it didn't cause the movers any problems with my load yesterday. I woke up this morning to a couple inches of snow on the ground and snow still sifting down, and my first reaction was a little dance of joy. Because shoveling snow off the lawn blows utterly.

Photos of the empty-again apartment at

CNET Man arrested in tsunami death e-mail hoax

May there be a special place reserved in Hell for bastards such as this:


LONDON—British police said on Sunday they had arrested a man after a hoaxer posing as a government official e-mailed relatives of people missing since the Asian tsunami, saying their loved ones had been confirmed dead.

The hoaxer, claiming to be from the "Foreign Office Bureau" in Thailand, targeted people who had placed appeals for information about relatives and friends on the Web site of TV station Sky News.

Police said they had arrested a 40-year-old man and seized computer equipment. The man was being questioned at a London police station, a police statement said.

Seattle Times: Note to “blog,” “sale event,” “body wash”: You’re fired!

So many of the words listed in this story struck me as perfect candidates for immediate and perpetual banning from the language. I’m one of those people who shouts at my radio or television when some idiot uses the latest buzzword . . . now I can post this story and let it rest.

Entire article below the cut.

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