I've mentioned singer/songwriter/musician Vienna Teng many times before, and tonight I have the pleasure of talking her up once more.
If you're familiar with Ms. Teng's music at all, run over to ViennaTeng.com: Media and consider making a donation to view the QuickTime stream of a performance she gave 03/11/05 in Oakland, CA. The performance includes several new songs and some old favourites and is well worth the donation amounts requested, which go toward defraying bandwidth costs and to Doctors Without Borders (see also their international site).
If you aren't familiar with her work, check out some audio clips in the discography section of her site.
UPDATE: The fundraising effort was a success—more than $1600 raised—and the performance stream has ended. Check out the tour page to find a live performance near you.
I just had to teach Microsoft Outlook how to spell colonoscopy.
I had to teach it this spelling because I was responding to an email from my friend JA about a CNN.com story:
I suppose I'm pleased that Outlook doesn't know the word colonoscopy by default. I don't encounter the word in regular daily conversation—the times I have discussed colonoscopy have been mainly to rant about mispronunciations I've heard—and I've now written colonoscopy more times in this entry than I'd written it in my entire life. In my experience, when you encounter such words, you're in pretty intimate territory and any of three things should apply:
I usually remember when I lodge complaints with hotels or airlines or restaurants, primarily because if something bothers me enough to take the time to complain, I expect some sort of resolution to my complaint.
In today's post I received from the Embassy Suites Lynnwood a letter of apology, over the signatures of the Front Office Manager and the Guest Service Manager both. Actually signed, in real ballpoint pen and everything. Or their signature machines use real pens. But I digress.
I have absolutely no memory of filing the survey responsesThe letter, which is dated March 1 but arrived March 30 in an envelope postmarked March 23, thanks me for filling out their online customer-satisfaction survey and apologizes for their lack of complimentary high-speed Internet service. It helpfully points out their complimentary business center which is open 24 hours a day and is conveniently located near the front desk, and that Embassy Suites is looking into providing complimentary high-speed Internet access in 2006.
Also, it asks me to accept their sincere apologies for the lighting in the bathroom. They assure me they have contacted their Chief Engineer to look into the lighting further.
So I'm pleased to receive this response, more so because it's actually signed by two persons with the word "manager" in their job titles, and I am as ever easily impressed by such things.
Except I have absolutely no memory of filing the survey responses that resulted in the letter.
I remember being mildly annoyed that the only high-speed Internet access was of the "pay a fee, get access until noon the next day" variety, but I immediately fired up my laptop anyway and paid the $9.95 charge (more accurately, I applied it to the room bill), the better to be geekily connected to the world.
The bathroom lighting? No clue there. I remember nothing about the bathroom save it was centrally located between the living room at the front of the suite and the bedroom at the back, with the fridge/wet bar area directly across from the bathroom door.
I thought perhaps my mom might have filled out the survey—we shared the suite the night of Jan 07 after our drive straight through from Salt Lake City—and the letter came to me because I made the room reservation. So I called her to ask about it.
No memory of a survey there either. We're both utterly mystified.
And we didn't even get a discount for a future stay, merely Embassy Suites' thanks for sharing our thoughts. Allows them to improve all guests' experiences, I am informed by the final paragraph.
So I ask that you enjoy your complimentary high-speed Internet access in the well-lighted bathroom during your next Embassy Suites stay. You'll have me to thank for it, even though I don't remember it.
My refrigerator was already stuffed to the gills before today's holiday gathering with family and friends.
The fridge is now even more stuffed with various containers holding the remnants of today's feasting:
We spent a good three hours over cocktails and such as everything finished cooking. Then it was time to put everything together, carve ham, pull dishes from the oven, arrange the table, and on and on. The last guest left around 20:00 when the clean-up was completed, and may I say what a blessing are friends who stay to help with the last dirty dish. :-)
I find quite telling Dr. Thomas Gallagher's comment about how some patients' families view money as the way to ensure changes are really taking place after medical mistakes of this magnitude. View the full story at the Times' site for details.
Seattle Times Local News: Suit filed over Virginia Mason Medical Center's error
By Carol M. Ostrom
Seattle Times staff reporter
The family of Mary McClinton, who died after being mistakenly injected with an antiseptic solution at Virginia Mason Medical Center, has sued the hospital, which had publicly disclosed and apologized for the "preventable medical error."
"Virginia Mason's statement was public-relations spin pure and simple," said Gerald McClinton, one of McClinton's four sons. "Apology is no substitute for atonement when our mother's death should never have happened."
Virginia Mason, in a statement released yesterday, said the Seattle hospital had approached the McClinton family and was "ready to proceed" with a settlement. "Our hope is to quickly reach a resolution that will support the healing process for the family," the statement continued.
The family's attorney, Lawrence Kahn of Bellevue, said the hospital had rejected his settlement offer—which he wouldn't specify—and had made no counterproposal. The lack of an offer was "shocking and disappointing" to the family, he said.
McClinton, 69, of Everett, died Nov. 23 after being injected with Chlorhexidine, a colorless antiseptic, during a procedure for a brain aneurysm. The antiseptic was mistaken for another substance to be used in the procedure.
Via the Transportation Security Administration's helpful list of prohibited items for air-travel carry-on baggage, revised 08/23/04 (here's a local download in case the TSA-based link changes), we learn....
There's a rather limited listing of sharp/pointy things on Page 3 that are limited to checked bags only, in fact. Limited enough that I wondered why they don't just say "all edged weapons," but I suppose that could be too broadly phrased, legally speaking. For that matter, it could even be too limiting, due to the magic of our legal system.
I learned this because my mom is visiting us for Easter and asked specificially about the lighters, but of course I had to read the entire listing and be a smart-ass about it.
Ahh, if only....
Seattle Times: Problem at pump: too few 2s
By Seattle Times staff and news services
It turns out that when regular-gasoline prices top $2 a gallon, it can be a pain for station owners, too. Sometimes there aren't enough 2s to go around for their signs.
And in areas where gas prices traditionally have been higher, such as the West Coast, dealers are worried about the terrible 3s.
As average prices for regular unleaded top $2 nationwide, there has been a growing demand for the number 2 in some parts of the country.
"The large numbers cost about $150 each, so stores don't keep a large inventory of them around," said Bobby Joslin of Joslin and Son Sign in Nashville, Tenn.
Station owners in Washington state, where gasoline prices tend to be higher than in other regions of the country, are no strangers to such shortages.
Indeed, station owners in Washington ran out of 2s for a short time about two years ago, said Tim Hamilton, executive director of the Automotive United Trades Organization, which represents about 400 gas stations in the state.
"We don't have a 2 problem," Hamilton said. "Our problem arises when we run out of the number 3."
Who'd'a thunk it?
Had green beer at Elliott Bay Brewing Company in West Seattle last night.
I only had two pints of green, but my tongue is still green this morning despite last night's and this morning's efforts with my toothbrush and a few swirls of Listerine.
I'm now minty-fresh and I have the tongue color to prove it.
UPDATE 09:08: Coffee did the trick. Wondrous substance, 'tis.
I don't follow the NCAA basketball tournament with any real interest, but this year I'm keeping track of it in a half-assed way because I'm participating in a pool.
I filled out my bracket about 12 minutes ago, using the decidedly unscientific method of glancing at each team's seeding and its regular-season record. Then I started writing and whatever my hand wrote is what I picked.
I wonder if I'll even make it to the second round....
What's the best way to pick teams for these events when you don't follow the sport much, if at all? I find myself interested in college basketball only when teams I know are doing well, so I was pleased to see Utah's 6th-seed placement and Washington's 1st-seed placement in the first round. Otherwise, though, I'm clueless.
So how do you pick 'em?
A little note to the coffee snobs of the world:
If you're going to order a drink that takes 30 seconds to describe ("Nonfat half-caf triple short mocha latte with light foam, extra hot, partridge in a pear tree"), remember what you ordered.
By remembering your order, you won't look like a towering fool and a flaming bitch when the barista simultaneously places on the counter your drink and that of the customer on line behind you and calls out both orders as completed, and you
I'd have trouble working in a place like Starbucks or any quick-service place of that type. I'd probably be fired for "accidentally" spilling coffee all over a customer's head and chest.
Funny how those cups just... leap out of your hands sometimes...!
I was pleased to find out today's Silly Day designation via Cingular's SMS alert service, specifically their Strange Fact alert.
I'm so happy our society has reached a point where not only do we have a National Hiccup Day, but I can find out about it in a suitably geeky way.
Had a scheduled-maintenance appointment at Saturn of Lynnwood this afternoon. It was time for my car's 51,000-mile maintenance routine and I needed them to check into the worsening headlight-dimming problem the car has exhibited since I took delivery in October 2001.
My appointment was at 11:45. I arrived a few minutes late and they got me right in. I planned to leave the car because I dropped it off during my lunch break; Katharine picked me up and we met a few other friends for lunch at Old Spaghetti Factory in Lynnwood. I'd asked the Saturn folks to call me when the car was ready because I figured they'd need at least a few hours to do electrical checks.
Shawna (not sure of spelling) called about 16:45 with good news and with neutral news: The scheduled maintenance was done, everything looked great. However, the electrical checks had yielded nothing, and the national customer-care folks at Saturn World HQ in Spring Hill, TN still haven't figured out a fix for the dimming-headlights problem, about which they've received a few hundred complaints from L-Series sedan owners. So I'm not alone in this problem but that only means there are a bunch of us waiting for a fix.
All in all, I was happy with today's experience. Quickly in and out both at drop-off and at pickup, and my car is now sparkly clean inside and out, in addition to being lubed and oiled and otherwise expertly maintained. And they called to let me know how things were going, which was my chief complaint before. (See previous: Saturn of Lynnwood continues abominable service record (12/24/03), Saturn of Lynnwood feels slighted by my web site (01/24/04).)
Nice job for the local team. Now to get the national folks to figure out and fix the headlight problem once and for all....
I was waiting in line at Starbucks for my triple grande nonfat no-whip white chocolate mocha (itself a sure sign of my own full-immersion suburbia experience) while...
I was browsing around Nick Kelly's web site tonight and stumbled across a news item that pleased me greatly:
One of my all-time favourite bands, responsible for my three all-time favourite songs, and they're getting back together to release their best-known work after it's been so hard to find for years.
If you haven't heard Nick's music or that of The Fat Lady Sings, drop me a line and I'll be happy to provide you a sample. Well worth a listen and certainly worth the bandwidth.
Links to the several articles I've seen about the spill which was discovered early Sunday morning. Hazmat crews experienced hours of confusion and frustration as varying sources disagreed over the exact content of the leaking rail car, and at least 6,000 residents of nearby neighborhoods were evacuated when an orange plume of fumes arose from the site. The spill also forced closure of I-15, the main north-south arterial, for most of the day.
Article links below the cut.
Two trucks from a local moving company, Bumble Bee Movers!, with their toll-free phone number in huge lettering along the sides of the trucks.
I don't remember the whole number; what stuck out was the last six digits:
Hiring movers whose phone number identifies them this way is just asking for trouble, seems to me....
I’ve lived in this townhouse for more than a month now and I hereby declare the following Things I Find Odd About the Design.
In no particular order:
Several things I’ve decided are odd about the design choices (most of them absurd and unnecessary trade-offs) in these townhouses
There are other strange little things but these popped immediately to mind, and now I have to go to bed so I can get up with the goddamned roosters tomorrow.
Happy weekend, everyone. :-)
First time through; I may take it again when I know all the answer keys are posted so I can see where I'm missing things.
You scored 100% Beginner, 93% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 72% Expert!
You have an extremely good understanding of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level commonly confused English words, getting at least 75% of each of these three levels' questions correct. This is an exceptional score. Remember, these are commonly confused English words, which means most people don't use them properly. You got an extremely respectable score.
The stats on the results page show that 100% of the people who took the test and are in my age group had lower scores in all word-level categories, and the highest-scoring age group for all categories is the 55-59 crowd.
Bold: States I've visited. Underline: States where I've lived. Italics: Current state.
Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington, D.C.
Big deal. First Health, the managed-care company where I used to work in Salt Lake City, had been doing this in a pilot program for about one year by the time I left in March 2002.