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52 entries from August 2005

You're kidding, right? Seriously!

Just saw the entry Katrina assistance at

A reader inquires:

When the tsunami struck Asia last year, was quick to post a donation link on its front page. Don't you think they should do the same for the victims of Katrina? How about using that platform of yours to apply some leverage to Jeff and the crew to get a link up there?
Amazon's lack of a donation link was noted in our household this morning as well. How about it, Amazon? (thx scott)

In the meantime, you can donate directly to the Red Cross (the site seems a little slow right now, so be patient).

I am so sick of comparisons to the tsunami disaster in Asia in December 2004. This hurricane is a horrifying disaster, certainly, but anyone who compares it to the hundreds of thousands of lives lost and the terrifying destruction in the nations affected by the tsunami last year is simply an arrogant ass.

So Amazon doesn't have a donation link yet. So the fuck what? There are plenty of other donation opportunities out there and if you're so goddamned lazy that you won't donate unless a major Internet retailer puts up a link directly on their home page, perhaps you should think your priorities through and do a little research of your own.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

UPDATE: Jason Kottke added to his original post.

Update: Please stop emailing me about the tsunami/Katrina comparison thing. I don't wish to debate the relative scale of natural disasters or who deserves more attention and aid when bad stuff happens. Individuals and corporations alike need to determine who they wish to aid on their own terms. In the past, Amazon has been a place to go to give's the first place I thought of going when I heard of the escalating problems in the Gulf states (and I don't think I'm alone here) because if they had a donation mechanism, it would be a fast link and easy for people to donate. That Amazon has chosen to not to set up a donation mechanism in this case is their choice and I certainly don't fault them for it.

Update #2: InternetWeek is reporting that Amazon has decided not to add a donation mechanism to their site. (thx, julio)

Update #3: Amazon now has a donation link on the front page which goes to this donation page. (thx to several who wrote in, including those at Amazon.)

Woo, my teams won

Seattle Storm over Houston Comets 75-67 in Game 1 of their three-game First Round playoff series. I'm attending their second game at KeyArena Thursday night; I'll be surprised if they need that third game.

And Seattle Mariners victorious over New York Yankees 8-3 in the second game of their four-game stand at Safeco Field. I'll be at game 3 tomorrow at 19:05, section 115 row 30 staring intently at the first basemen over my beer cup.

Play ball! :-)

Randomness of a Tuesday afternoon

Tried Mega M&Ms (warning: annoying Flash interface with cutesy audio) today. They're certainly bigger, and the colors look weird to me. Package says they're "Rich Colors," they just look... strange.

Also the red M&M character has a speech balloon: "More of me to love."

You know, because we super-size Americans definitely need our food items bigger in every way, for the more-ness of the thing.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Video clip showing Earth as seen from Johns Hopkins'/NASA's Messenger spacecraft during its recent gravity-assist fly-by on the way to Mercury.

Creole Escape

So we had dinner at Rock Bottom Brewery in Seattle Wednesday night. I had jambalaya, which I adore but didn’t finish, so I asked for a box to take the rest home. The only problem was I had absolutely no recollection of taking that box into the house, even though I clearly remembered taking it from the restaurant.

I glanced through the car yesterday morning and didn’t see the box so I assumed I must’ve placed it in the back of the fridge, or maybe on the top wire shelf, which is difficult to see without bending down nearly to the floor (would that apartment management would put in side-by-side refrigerators!). But I didn’t think more about it until this morning, when my mom said she’d gone through the fridge front to back and no sign of the take-out box.

Yeah, it was still in the car. Wedged under the driver’s seat and just starting to get fragrant.

My Escape smells like a New Orleans café this morning.

43 Things: No real need for the full-time all-wheel-drive

So the Ford Escape I got in June 2005 would probably hold its own in the off-road experiences I can see myself having—mainly driving down unpaved, rocky, rutted roads in backcountry areas that still have cell-phone service—but I’ve yet to take it off-road at all. Unless I cound the gravel and dirt roads I drove on Lopez Island in the San Juans in August, but those were weenie roads and we were only about half a mile off the paved highway.

Anyone have recommendations on a good place to start the off-road experience?

See more progress on actually take my SUV off-road at 43 Things

Over a thousand

Six songs I’ve played more than a thousand times in iTunes.

Song – Artist, Album – Plays – Time

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.

  • Between – Vienna Teng, Waking Hour – 1044 – 3:34
  • Drunkard Logic – The Fat Lady Sings, Johnson – 1095 – 4:19
  • Hard Times – Eastmountainsouth, Eastmountainsouth – 1206 – 3:45
  • On Your Way – Eastmountainsouth, Eastmountainsouth – 1166 – 4:16
  • Providence – The Fat Lady Sings, Johnson – 1015 – 5:3
  • You Dance – Eastmountainsouth, Eastmountainsouth – 1154 – 3:57

For these six songs alone, I’ve racked up total playing time of 19.5 days. That’s about 10% of the total playing time for all the songs I’ve played at least once in my entire music library. And these counts don’t include the times I’ve played these songs on CDs I’ve burned for my car’s stereo or the bedroom stereo. Or my PC at work, which has a couple of these songs on it too.

Perhaps I should hit “Shuffle” a little more often...?

Vienna Teng at The Triple Door in November

Vienna Teng (swiped from
Swiped from
Woo hoo, I’m so pleased. I missed her swing through Seattle last year.

Performance listing on the tour page. David Berkeley is opening the show, sounds like a talented singer/songwriter as well.

Previous related posts:

More WTF

Dennis Avner, known as the Catman, recently moved to Freeland from Southern California. Avner, who is part Huron and part Lakota, has had several surgeries and tattoos to transform himself into a tiger, his totem animal.
Good Lord. This is just.... Yeah.

Story after the jump. I added some of the informational links (places, conditions mentioned, etc.).

Continue reading "More WTF" »

What I Did This Summer

Really just this weekend, but I was having a Back-To-School Moment there. Used to drive me nuts when on the first day or two of school each year, you had to stand in front of the class and explain to 14 dozen bored kids (in Utah, remember, we did class sizes Extra Super Huge) how you spent your summer and it was difficult to do because when school let out a few months previous, you felt like there was an endless parade of days ahead, that the new school year was in reality centuries away, and now here you were at the first of September forced to recall events from June, which was thousands of years ago—as much as you understood lengths of time in those days—and so all you ended up telling them was about your one-week Day Camp Experience in July.

Fisherman Bay sunset
Fisherman Bay sunset
View related Flickr photo set
I'm 33 now, and I have a much better perception of the reality of time, or at least the reality of my perception of time, and I carry a Palm Tungsten T3 PDA pretty much all the time anyway and I use this device to record details about many events down to the minute. This device eventually will prove to be either my saviour or my downfall when I need to prove my whereabouts following some untoward event.

So with absolutely no fear of contradiction I hereby declare that of the just under 48 hours I spent on Lopez Island this weekend,

  • 92 minutes were occupied skipping stones and/or the teaching of same to others
  • 28 minutes involved drinking $4 cups of coffee
  • We spent 8 hours 34 minutes at a waterfront restaurant, 7h59m of that trying to get the servers' attention
  • We racked up 15 hours of waving at strangers as we drove past them, because Lopez is "The Friendly Island" and waving is their national sport

So now that I have (some of) the cynicism out of my system....

Continue reading "What I Did This Summer" »

Dill Chicken with QWERTY

I'm at my desk nibbling on my lunch, a yummy chicken dish with rice and a mild dill sauce the recipe for which my sister cooked up last summer following a visit to Bell Street Diner. Anyway, I had lifted the plastic container to get at a bit of rice that had so far eluded my fork and while I was scraping at the container, I dropped it.

I now am picking bits of rice and chicken and dill out of my keyboard while I type this.

I hate Mondays.

Off to Lopez Island for the weekend

I'm spending the weekend on Lopez Island, part of the San Juan Islands in the Puget Sound. Heading to the Anacortes ferry terminal around 13:00 for the 14:30 sailing.

I'll be staying in a small cabin on the northwest part of the island. No phone, which will be nice, although with our cell phones we'll certainly not be entirely out of touch. We'll be wandering the farmer's market and checking out a winery on the island and just generally relaxing away from the hubbub of the world.

When the sun sets tonight, we'll be looking northeast to spot the Perseid meteor shower. I'm hoping it'll be dark enough that my lame attempts at long-exposure photography may actually turn out successful.

I'll be back in town Sunday afternoon. Have a good weekend!

Utah's Highway 6 laid waste by truck explosion

Yowza: Truck of explosives detonates on highway
Truck was 'pretty much vaporized'

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP)—A truck carrying 35,500 pounds of explosives crashed and exploded Wednesday, leaving a huge crater in a Utah highway and injuring at least four people.

The driver was able to get out and warn other motorists away before the truck exploded. But a passenger in the truck cab and other motorists were rushed to hospitals with injuries, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce said.

Two people were in critical condition, and another was in satisfactory condition at a hospital in Provo, LDS Hospital spokesman Jess Gomez said.

The truck driver, a 30-year-old man, was taken to University of Utah Hospital where he was alert and talking when he arrived, spokesman Chris Nelson said.

It wasn't immediately clear why the truck crashed, Royce said. He said the truck was "pretty much vaporized" in the explosion. And both lanes of Highway 6 in Spanish Fork Canyon, about 60 miles south of Salt Lake City, were gutted by the blast.

J.D. Herbert, a nephew of Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, said the explosion blew him off his motorcycle. Afterward, he looked up "at a mushroom cloud of fire, and shrapnel just starts falling down," he told KUTV of Salt Lake City.

Several small fires in the hills above the accident scene were believed to have been triggered by flying debris, and nearby rail lines were damaged.

The rig with a 6-foot trailer from R&R Trucking of Missouri had just left commercial explosives maker Ensign-Bickford at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon when the accident happened. The truck was headed to Oklahoma, company officials said.

Officials wouldn't say what type of explosives the truck was carrying.

Hal Jaussi, an Ensign-Bickford manager, said the trucking company "met federal regulations for transporting explosives."
:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

UPDATE 08/11/05 08:00: Deseret Morning News story offers photographs and diagrams and updates the injury count to 10; notes construction crews are already on the scene with the goal of reopening the road by the weekend.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

UPDATE 08/15/05 19:00: (San Francisco/Oakland) story offers video clip of the fireball captured by drivers approaching the scene from about half a mile away.

Salt Lake City's story notes that speed definitely played a role in the crash. Crews had the crater filled in within several hours and expected the roadway to reopen Friday morning.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

UPDATE 08/16/05 09:00: Salt Lake Tribune editorial: Fix dangerous highway

Been a while since a random iTunes listing

Shuffled the entire library, here are the first 15 in play order:

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.

  1. Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips, Modern Love Songs
  2. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper, Twelve Deadly Cyns...And Then Some
  3. Endless Love – Lionel Richie, Back to Front
  4. Good Vibrations – Marky Mark, Pure Party (Disc 2)
  5. Rack Em Up – Jonny Lang, Lie To Me
  6. Angel – Sarah McLachlan, Mirrorball
  7. Take On Me – A-Ha, Hunting High and Low
  8. A Punch Up At A Wedding (No No No No No No No No) – Radiohead, Hail To The Thief
  9. Hey Jude – The Beatles, 1967-1970 (Disc 1)
  10. Complainte De La Butte – Rufus Wainwright, Moulin Rouge
  11. Track 01 – Mason Jennings, The Best of Mason Jennings
  12. Tequila – The Champs, Oldies But Goodies Vol. 7
  13. Puppy Love – Paul Anka, Oldies But Goodies Vol. 8
  14. Empty Room – Marjorie Fair, Empty Room (Single)
  15. African Tango – Karl Jenkins, Adiemus 3: Dances of Time

I should do this every night just to add a little more variety to my iTunes radio-station set-up. Another layer of unrated or absolutely random input certainly can’t hurt.

Suddenly everyone's traveling

Sonya's on vacation for two weeks and today Katharine found out she'll be spending the rest of the week in Nashville conducting training on part of the lab's software system which is being installed at that location for the first time.

Michelle moves to Portland on Saturday, dammit.

And I may end up having to go to Nashville on Sunday if they need additional help with training on the general lab information-management system—logging in and tracking samples, preparing reports, and other Fun Administrative Tasks.

I've never been to Nashville but these last-minute trips are just insane.

How's your Tuesday?

Spider Night, and also the In-Sink-Erator hates me

So I got home anticipating a nice relaxing evening of making something for dinner, maybe sipping at a glass of wine in the post-work wind-down period, entertaining the cats with a bit of tuna because Flex in particular goes absolutely bananas for it and Annie could give a shit but she will occasionally deign to accept a small morsel which she then bats around the kitchen before wandering away. Then I step on the bit of fish and it's ground into the rug or into my sock when I step on it twice because I don't react quite quickly enough to prevent it.

None of that, however, happened.

I walked from the garage up the stairs to the living room where Flex and Annie were waiting for me, both flopped in the rays of sunlight streaming in the wide-open living-room sliding door. That meant I'd forgotten to close the damned blinds before I left this morning, the better to keep the afternoon sun from setting fire to the carpet and overheating the main floor.

I don't understand how fur-covered beasties can enjoy sunbathing when the ambient temperature's in the mid-80s, but these are the same cats who routinely pressed their wet noses against the too-warm glass in front of the fireplace a few months ago, resulting in horrible sizzling noises followed by cat yowls and acrobatic thumps as they jumped backward in stunned disbelief, only to creep forward to try it all again a few minutes later.

So first order of business was the skritchies, because I also don't much care for playing the part of the Six-Foot Mobile Climbing Apparatus to small creatures whose claws draw blood merely by their existence. A quick rub under the chin, a scratch of the ears, and they're content long enough for me to clear the 15 feet across the living room and draw the blinds.

To the fridge, then, for the bottle of Hogue Chardonnay I'd bought some weeks back. I reached for the Rabbit Corkscrew-Handling Device—I understand how the thing works but it's still just amazing, somehow, every time I use it—and two lever thrusts later, the wine was open and the cork (I use the term loosely, it was really that weird rubber/plastic foam-style cork material many winemakers use nowadays) was skittering across the floor accompanied by the two felines whose ability to chase small randomly moving objects is second only to their amazing skill at snapping full awake and dancing on my cranium at 04:59 daily.

Shrug. I reached for a wine glass, one of the high-quality set of six I use when I want to impress people or when I haven't washed the $2-a-piece set of six from Pottery Barn. The six glasses in that set are lying in a heap in my sink, and part of my relaxing evening is to wash them. Normally housework figures into a relaxing evening the same way Ebola figures into an adventurous African safari experience, but tonight I was also eager to get things mildly organized because the kitchen's looking a bit... well, "federal disaster area" is the term that leaps to mind.

Wine poured, I swirled and sniffed deeply and took a small sip and tried to discern the flavors and appreciate the color and bouquet and what I got was: "Inexpensive alcoholic grape juice with hints of spice and dust bunny." I did this because I saw Sideways yesterday, so I was trying to use what little wine knowledge I gleaned because I would kind of like to be a fully qualified wine snob and learn to appreciate the flavors and match them to food in the most pleasing ways possible. But through most of the movie I was too busy thinking:

Sandra Oh is hot! I wonder if that's why I liked Grey's Anatomy
since I just now realized that's where I've seen her?

and also

Virginia Madsen is hot! and I've never liked Virginia Madsen much before now.

And then Sandra Oh used her helmet to beat the hell out of Thomas Haden Church and I cringed and it brought me back to the now, which was really the then of watching the movie, versus the now of my own attempt at wine-tasting earlier tonight and the even more immediate now of my writing this.

So anyway, I sipped and inhaled to appreciate the wine and thought, fuck it, what I want is to drink the stuff, not appreciate it. It tastes fine for drinking; appreciating is what I do with a bottle that costs 5% of a paycheck. So I started sippin' and figured I'd do the dishes at that moment, because I also wanted to use one of my spreader knives to make a sandwich, and that knife was under the stack of inexpensive wine glasses in the sink.

Set down the wine glass, turned on the water, dribbled some Palmolive on my sponge, reached my left hand to put down the Palmolive bottle and pick up a dirty glass. That's when I noticed the spider on my right hand and my Dipshit Instincts took over and caused me to jump backward and toss the sponge one way and the Palmolive bottle the other.

The sponge landed in the sink—I never could have made that shot if I'd tried—and the Palmolive bottle hit the floor. It ejaculated a small stream of detergent as the pressure of bouncing from a four-foot fall overwhelmed the bottle's seal. No idea where the spider went, I was by this point nearly climbing onto the stove directly opposite the sink. It was I would estimate 45 seconds before I managed to cross the five-foot space to pick up the detergent bottle and wipe up the spilled detergent and only after an extremely careful examination would I return to the sink and finish washing the damned glasses.

So much for relaxing.

Oh, and somehow during this whole thing I splashed detergent in my wine glass, the active one I was sipping. I didn't notice, however, until I reached for it to take a big healthy swig, the better to calm my frayed nerves, and got a strong taste of soap to add to the hints of pear and oak and glass shards from the first taste.

You're wondering, however, where the disposer comes into this? Well, figuring the spider might have fallen into the sink and been washed into the drain, I turned on the water again and reached for the disposer switch to mince the little bastard and send it straight to the depths of hell, and that's when the finned rubber drain-blocker device came loose and the water and nasties that were in the disposer shot out directly toward my face.

If you've seen the 1988 remake of The Blob, the part where the kitchen worker gets eaten by the slime when it jets out of the kitchen sink, you know just how I felt.

Finished that bottle of wine in about an hour, didn't even burp.

Breakfast of Nearly Dead Persons

On the menu this morning:

  • Coffee freshly brewed by the timer I set for 06:30 but didn't notice the machine's clock was off by two hours, so it's been sitting here acidifying for a while now
  • Honey Nut Cheerios with too-ripe banana slices (urk)
  • Store-brand daytime cold meds, the Fluorescent Orange LiquiGel variety
  • Side of cat fur (daily fiber intake)


I should mention that my nearly dead experience is not from the cold, which is mostly gone (it's settled into the Post-Nasal Drip From Hell stage). The nearly dead part is from short sleep, a combination of my usual "go to bed when I feel tired," some idiot's deciding that 02:30 was the perfect time to tune his motorcycle in the bank of garages outside my bedroom window, and my cats' uncanny ability to sense the exact moment when the clock hits 04:59, immediately triggering their Morning Play-time Mode.


Why flying is safer now

Via Buzzworthy.

Christian Science Monitor: Why flying is safer now
By Alexandra Marks | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Contrary to popular belief, most airline accidents are now survivable.

While people used words like "miraculous" to describe the fact that everyone got out alive of the Air France jet that crashed upon landing in Toronto this week, aviation experts are also crediting 20 years of advances in technology, training, and safety practices.

From improved fire retardants in the cabin to slow the spread of flames and smoke so people can be evacuated to "phenomenal" weather tracking devices that can alert crews to wind shear and violent storm cells, the combined efforts of the federal government and the aviation community have made flying far safer than ever before.

Twenty years ago, the chances of surviving a crash were indeed minimal. While the accident rate has declined only slightly since then, the seriousness of the those crashes has declined significantly.

Another death at a Disney park Girl dies after collapsing at Disney water park

ORLANDO, Florida (AP)—A 12-year-old girl collapsed at a Disney World water park Thursday and later died, authorities said.

The girl was in the wave pool at Typhoon Lagoon at about 6 p.m. when lifeguards noticed her lying on a ledge, out of the water, the Orange County Sheriff's Office said.

Lifeguards asked her if she was OK, and the girl told them she was, but then passed out when she stood up.

The lifeguards performed CPR until paramedics arrived. She was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.

"This is someone we approached and talked to, and after we engaged in conversation with her, she became ill," said Disney spokesman Bill Warren.

The girl was with relatives from Newport News, Virginia. They said she had no known medical problems, the sheriff's office said.

Her name was being withheld until her parents in Virginia were notified. An autopsy was planned.

In June, another child died at the theme park after riding Epcot's "Mission: Space," which simulates a shuttle ride to Mars. The cause of the 4-year-old boy's death remains under investigation.

All posts about injuries or deaths in Disney theme parks (most recent listed first):

Fremont music-scene randomness

A few odds and ends from my sojourn to High Dive for my friend Corey Allred's band Hyoka's gig last night.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Fantastic people-watching, as is typical for most parts of Seattle proper. I live in the dull boring bland suburbs, and I live closer to Everett than to Seattle, so the people around my house and work are pretty vanilla, watching-the-street-scene-wise.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Last night's crowd seemed pretty well mixed, however. Big age range—I'm sure my 33 years put me right in the middle of the pack—and the personalities ran the gamut too, the quiet solo-at-the-bar types (I did that for a while because the only people I knew there were performing, of course) all the way to the social-butterfly-for-drinks who asked me about a dozen times if she could borrow a cigarette. Finally it percolated through her awareness that as a non-smoker, I had no cigarettes to lend her.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

I saw a woman who could have been my high-school French teacher, Miss Hamstead, circa 1970. Presuming Miss Hamstead ever actually cracked a smile and ever went to bars and ever dyed her hair black.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

So I have no clue how to dress for the bar/club scene. All I wore was jeans and a white twill shirt and I was wildly overdressed. But I don't have enough frayed jeans or torn T-shirts and when I have such things, I think of them as my grubbies for wearing when I'm moving or cleaning the garage or other evile domestic tasks.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Cover was $5 but I walked right past the ticket-taker dude when I arrived at High Dive just before 20:30. I ended up having to track the ticket guy down so I could get it cleared up; they were pretty lax about it all. Which kinda sux when the bands are relying on ticket counts to ensure they get paid.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

I was at the bar for the first two bands' performances. Ended up at a stool by the beer taps and noticed one of their draught offerings is Stella Artois. Every time someone ordered one, it was all I could do to avoid a Stanley Kowalski moment.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Next time: Take earplugs. My ears are still ringing a bit, urk.

:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

And how was your Tuesday night?

My ears are still ringing a bit

Just back from High Dive in Fremont, where my friend Corey Allred's band Hyoka's band had a gig tonight.

I got there about 20:30 for the 21:00 show of Hyoka and two other bands, channel and Henkensiefken. I'd assumed Henkensiefken was the headline act because that's how High Dive's calendar page listed them (in fact, Hyoka wasn't listed as part of the show on High Dive's calendar), but it turned out Hyoka got the headliner spot after all, based on my experience with multiple bands on a given night and the headline act going on at about 23:00.

So they ended up taking the stage at 23:30, after Henkensiefken went on at 21:30 and tortured me with too-loud annoying guitar and too-loud annoying vocals. I think, anyway; it may have just been the eponymous lead singer wailing at random into the microphone. Channel performed next and they were a little less annoying but still too loud, so I was quite pleased when they finished and finally Corey's band set up.

I really liked Hyoka's set. First because it wasn't as loud, so even though my ears were still a bit tweaked, I could actually tell they were playing, you know, music. And second, their music was good. Rock but not obnoxious guitars and no irritating feedback, kind of mellow and easy to follow the beat, the way I like music.

I'd never heard Hyoka perform so I couldn't keep track of the lyrics or identify the songs, but I could hear them distinctly, instead of the MUSH OF SOUND we'd endured with the two previous acts.

Must remember earplugs next time, I don't like the ringing sensation more than an hour later.

Anyway, Hyoka played for an hour and did a one-song encore, and I've already decided I'll be going to all their gigs I can. For one thing, it'll expand my horizons on the bars and clubs around town, and for another, I like their work. Knowing the lead singer certainly helps, of course.

If you're in Seattle and know of a Hyoka gig, by all means check them out.

...must away.... to bed.....