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85 entries from February 2006

Links: Feb 10, 2006

I can’t cut it

For lunch today I am enjoying rather a delicious pork chop with rice in a sauce of mushrooms, dill, garlic, and cream. This combination was concocted by my sister, who has always claimed she can’t cook. Obviously she has been lying outright and probably should be the one preparing all the meals for her friends and family within 20 miles.

The “I’m inept” part about this:

My lunch is in a 4-cup GLAD container, one of those types that’s marketed to be disposable but I usually only toss a container when something truly evile and sentient has grown in it because I forgot about it at the back of the fridge for six weeks and now the Clam Dip Creature threatens my life when I reach for the coffee creamer. I’m trying to cut the pork chop in this container with a plastic fork and knife and I can’t even see the chop because it is covered by the rice and sauce. When I spear the chop and raise it to the surface to get a visual, it immediately drops down as I apply cutting pressure.

And I think I’m cutting a bite-size piece but I end up with a full loin of pork or with a microscopic bit of flesh dangling off the fork. No middle ground here.

And then I lose track of the bit I’ve just cut and I have to start all over again.

Trivia: Feb 10, 2006

  • Today in history: 1763 France ceded Canada to England—1846 Mormons began exodus west from Illinois—1933 First singing telegram introduced

  • News of the weird: MADRID, Spain—The Spanish Winter Olympic team has had much of their luggage go missing after departing from Madrid. (Reuters)

  • Strange fact: In 2005, only 9% of the players in Major League Baseball are African-American. That’s down from 27% in 1975.

  • Daily quote: When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.Seneca

  • Daily word: podiatry—medical study and care of the human foot

  • Daily trivia: What is the capital of Norway? (Oslo)

  • Celebrity birthdays: George Stephanopoulos (45)—Laura Dern (39)—Lance Berkman (30)

Weather weirdness

One strange thing about living in the Seattle area but closer to Puget Sound than to the Cascades is that the weather can be absolutely wild only 30 to 45 minutes away but you’ll have no idea of it.

Case in point: I’m being blinded by sunlight right now. The sky is clear, beautiful morning; a bit chilly (frost on the cars and lawns) but not a cloud in the sky, and there’s almost no breeze.

The Cascade foothills, however, are experiencing winds of 30 to 45 mph with gusts in the 60-mph range. There are power outages and houses damaged by downed trees or limbs and the whole range of problems associated with winds of that magnitude.

I had no idea of any of this until the KOMO 1000 weatherdude talked about it on my way to work. They also cut live to a reporter in Kent as she described the branches blowing this way and that and how the Kent-Kangley Road is closed westbound because there’s a tree about this close to crashing down over the roadway—with every gust of wind, you could see the roots pulling out!, or so she said—and with traffic lights out some places, please treat intersections as 4-way stops.

This type of thing happened a lot during the recent run of rainy days. As the sky dripped down on us, the mountain passes were often buried in snow and wind and other craziness. Less than an hour away, the roads were being closed for avalanche control or were restricted to chained vehicles only or certain tire types or various other things, and here in the metro area we were mainly blissfully unaware.

Strange media world. So easy to be fully aware of events halfway around the globe when the news in the next county remains completely untold.

Links: Feb 09, 2006

It was a busy day, linkritudinally speaking.

A day short

Received in yesterday’s e-post a newsletter from Bumbershoot announcing the dates for this year’s festival: Labor Day weekend, Sep 02-04. Saturday to Monday, a day shorter than previous Bumbershootses.

I haven’t attended Bumbershoot for a few years now, and I only went one day when I attended previously. I hope they’ll still be able to cram in all the musical acts, though. I keep an eye on the schedules pretty diligently so I can determine which days I might want to attend based on who’s performing. With a shorter festival schedule and the organizers’ vow to unleash “a virtual explosion of artistry” it may well be worth attending through the entire weekend.

It helps certainly that Julie Anne lives on Lower Queen Anne, so we can have a home base of sorts that radically reduces our having to deal with traffic around Seattle Center. We can park the few blocks away and wander down the hill, avoid the gridlock, stumble back up the hill later on.

Here’s the event listing at, should you be inclined to indicate your attendance plans.

Welcome to Safety Awareness Month

The laboratory’s Safety Czars have deemed February as the month when we are to be aware of our safety, with each week of the month further devoted to awareness of a particular safety issue.

NFPA symbol exampleThis Awareness Month does not match the Calendar Month, however. Safety Awareness Month is off by a week, so it spills into March.

This week (Feb 06-10) is Glassware and Cuts Week. I have seen the evile that is broken or chipped glassware and the hell it can inflict on unsuspecting (or even completely suspecting) lab technicians—just a few weeks ago, one of the techs had a nasty set of cuts when a piece of glassware came apart in her hands. Blood everywhere, though the cuts turned out not to be horribly serious (no tendon or nerve damage).

Next week we have Ergonomics, which means we’ll all be slouched in conference-room chairs holding our arms at odd angles with our tongues lolling out while the meeting leader tells us about the importance of Sitting Up Straight and Arranging Our Work Areas and Keeping Our Wrists Aligned and so on. I imagine she’ll do this by reading verbatim the content of the inevitable PowerPoint slideshow, because if we read them ourselves, she hasn’t really led the meeting at all.

‘Danger: Eye Protection Required’ signWeek 3 is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)—learn the benefits of lab coats and latex (or non-latex for the sensitive folks) gloves and safety glasses.

I’m hoping Safety Person will also land hard on the few people in this lab who ignore some parts of the PPE requirements but have not yet been disciplined for same.

And finally, for Week 4: Handling Chemicals. Definitely something worth knowing in a building with strong acids and bases and various gases and other fun substances, many stored in glass containers.


I broke my phone last week.

This by itself is hardly news. I often break phones. Since I closed down my land-line phone and went solely wireless, I’ve lived in constant fear that I would destroy my cell phone in some absurdly comical way that would render me incommunicado instantly. I’ve tried to be careful with my phones over the years but it never matters, I always end up breaking them.

So my RAZR was due for some damage, and it happened last week. I dropped the thing on concrete for probably the sixth time in the year I’ve had the phone, and this time the battery cover popped off and shot one direction while the battery itself flew a second direction and the remainder of the phone skittered off in a third direction. But I noticed when I tried to put the phone back together, the battery cover would fall off immediately again—the clip that holds the cover in place had also broken free, its adhesive finally failing.

Cingular stores don’t carry parts for the phones they sell, of course. They’ll gladly sell you a phone and a range of accessories for it, but they do not, never have, and never will carry the parts of those phones and accessories. For parts you’re required to deal with the manufacturer directly.

And how do I get in touch with them? I asked.

888-BUY-MOTO, Cingular Person told me.

So I placed a call. I listened to a folksy, chatty menu system that’s meant to appeal to the coveted 18-to-27 demographic, and it annoyed me—even when I was 18 to 27, I didn’t care about the marketing to that group. I hung up and went online, hoping I could find the battery cover as a replacement part that way, and I found success and placed the order last week.

This morning it occurred to me I hadn’t yet received the battery cover. It shipped via UPS Ground on Feb 02 with a scheduled delivery date of Feb 07, but the status shows as


That worried me.

Turns out the driver apparently left the package behind at the UPS station when he departed for his route, adding a day to the transit time and making my phone’s battery wait another 24 hours to be clothed once again.

Poor naked battery.

Links: Feb 07, 2006

Links: Feb 06, 2006

Power outages linger for some Puget Sound customers

Seattle Times: Thousands powerless for Super Bowl

Steve Manche was thinking about having a Super Bowl gathering at his home north of Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

Then the power went out early Saturday. And it stayed out.

So, Sunday afternoon, the chief petty officer in the Navy was sitting in the All Sports Pub and Eatery in Oak Harbor, waiting for the game to begin.

“We were thinking, OK, if the sports bar was too crazy, we’d caravan back to our house,” he said. But with the turn of events, he said, “We’re going to watch it here.”

Manche’s was one of thousands of households left without power in Western Washington on Super Bowl Sunday, a day after a windstorm walloped much of the region. Several hundred people also lost cable-television service.

Winds on Saturday topped 60 mph across much of the area. That was replaced by calm, sunny weather Sunday, which is expected to continue through the week, according to the National Weather Service.

Puget Sound Energy said roughly 12,000 people remained without power at 3:15 p.m. Sunday, down from a high of 140,000 early Saturday afternoon, said PSE spokeswoman Lynn Carlson.


Trivia: Feb 06, 2006


Walked past the “who’s here” board a minute ago on my way to the break room. One of the national account managers who’s based in this office has this status listed by her name:


I ground to a halt, wondering how meth figured into her business trip to Nashville, when finally I recognized what the status actually read:


Such is the story of my Monday morning.

Links: Feb 05, 2006

The headline alone makes me chuckle

Not that I would have any personal knowledge of the odd cravings which might follow the ingestion of the marginally legal substance discussed in this story....

Yahoo! News: I’m here for my prescription, and 6,000 cookies

AMSTERDAM (Reuters)—The Dutch city of Groningen looks set to open the Netherlands’ first pharmacy totally dedicated to providing high-quality cannabis for pain relief at affordable prices, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Although cannabis is readily available in Dutch coffee shops, the foundation for Medicinal Cannabis Netherlands, a support group for patients, intends launching a pharmacy in the northern Dutch city so people can have access to high-grade cannabis for medical use, the daily NRC Handelsblad said.

Groningen city council member Fleur Woudstra, who supports the cannabis pharmacy, told the paper that while pot may be cheaper in coffee shops—usually around 10 euros ($12) for the equivalent of 3 or 4 joints—quality often suffers.

The Office of Medicinal Cannabis, a Dutch government agency, and the community of Groningen as well as the local police back the idea and a site has been chosen. It was not immediately clear just when the pharmacy would open for business.

Two more cannabis pharmacies are planned in the towns of Hoogezand and Assen, the paper said.

Incidentally, my iTunes library contains 63 songs with a playing time of 4min 20sec. I may list them at some point (on media.~); for now, however, I thought you might get a slight chuckle from knowing the thought process that led me to looking this up:

  1. Read Dutch cannabis pharmacy news story
  2. Mind goes, “cannabis = 420”
  3. iTunes is open right now, hmm
  4. I wonder how many songs I have with a playing time of 00:04:20?
  5. Create Smart Playlist: Time is 4:20
  6. View playlist with 63 songs
  7. Update post for chucklez
Source: Bug via IM

Yep, they lost

Seattle Times Seahawks Super Bowl headline
Seattle Times’ home page shows game’s result
The Seahawks led the game at one point, which was something of a joy. The rest of it was mainly shouting at the occasional questionable call and at the sometimes amusing advertisements (though most of those blew chunks too) and screaming obscenities about the little things that annoyed us, like sports broadcasters’ inscrutable insistence on tight facial close-ups from across the stadium—close-ups so tight you could count the nose hairs were you inclined—and on the commentators’ endless babble (John Madden, please shut up!) and the one sideline reporter’s stupid necklace. (That last was Katharine’s observation.)

On the plus side, the clam dip RAWKED! and the minestrone was delicious and we only went through one 12-pack of Diet Coke (I wasn’t in a beer-drinkin’ mood after last night’s Game Night festivities. Cranium and Scene It? are fun games, the more so when you’re buzzed) but we all did get pretty quiet at the one Diet Pepsi commercial when Jackie Chan was kickin’ ass and then they paused to bring in the Diet Pepsi stunt double and the can of Diet Coke got stomped. It was like watching a family member in the hospital or something, and it didn’t help that for the three of us fair-weather football fans, our home team was getting stomped too.

Ah well. A fun afternoon and perhaps the ’hawks will carry the momentum of their winning season into next year. I think either way I’ll actually go to a home game or two; Qwest Field’s a nice stadium and I haven’t been to a game there since late 2003.

Of course Dave at work will be utterly insufferable (previously: 1, 2, 3), but he’s also low-key enough that he’ll probably wait a few days, get us nice and complacent, and then we’ll arrive at work to find our work areas knee-deep in gold and black confetti or something similarly evile.

That shit takes forever to clean up. And I’m probably just giving him ideas now....

Super Bowlery. Also I didn’t get blowed away yesterday.

A single entry that covers this weekend’s Two Big Topics:

The storm yesterday made my lights flicker a total of four times, none long enough to reset my alarm clock or anything else. They even opened the SR 520 floating bridge (Google Local map/satellite imagery) early this morning, so apart from a few tens of thousands who still are without power, things are back to normal around the Sound.

That said....

Katharine and I are off to Julie Anne’s in a bit for Super Bowl XL festivities involving clam dip, minestrone, brownies, wild cheering for the Seattle Seahawks, etc.

Go Hawks and so on. :-)

Trivia: Feb 05, 2006

Power outages and bridge closures as this windstorm moves through the Puget Sound

My power has flickered a couple times, though only enough to dim lights briefly—my Internet connection has remained stable and my alarm clock, which is stupidly sensitive to power flickers, is keeping time just fine.

Oddly, though there have been some insane wind gusts here,the empty 5-gallon bucket sitting on my back balcony hasn’t moved an inch.

Seattle Times article after the jump.

Continue reading "Power outages and bridge closures as this windstorm moves through the Puget Sound" »

And so the wind begins

I intended to sleep in a bit today. The wind, however, had other ideas, and for once it arrived on schedule according to the wind advisories and warnings and other weather news of the last couple days.

My townhouse is oriented east-west—in warmer months when it’s breezy, I often open the living-room sliding glass door on the west end and dining-room window on the east end and I end up with the wind-tunnel effect. Keeps things a bit cooler in spring and autumn when the house holds on to heat a little longer and gets a bit stifling.

It also means, however, that the vents for the fans in the bathrooms and for the stove fan are on the west wall, and they’re particularly sensitive to south and southwest winds.

So right on cue just after 06:00, the master bathroom fan started clanking as the wind velocities reached high enough to rattle things around. Shortly after that I could hear the kitchen fan (on the main floor, walking distance of 75 feet or so) clanking over the noise of the bathroom fan (upstairs and only 10 feet away). A few minutes after that, the wind was heavy enough to induce the ghostly wailing around some windows, and it obviously was time to get up.

While I was brushing my teeth, my lights flickered three times, so I finished hurriedly and dashed downstairs to make coffee before the power went out entirely. That’s when I noticed I hadn’t poured out the remnants of the pot I made last weekend.

I didn’t know coffee could mold. My coffee-making ritual (grind, water, blah blah blah) was delayed while I washed the pot a couple times, because how wretchedly nasty is mold in one’s coffee?

Happy Saturday. :-)

Links: Feb 03, 2006

Qdoba really is fresh

Qdoba’s pico de gallo salsa
Qdoba’s pico de gallo salsa
Katharine and I took a quick break from work to run up the road to Qdoba in Bothell (Google Local map).

I’d never been to Qdoba before. I tried La Salsa a time or two while I still lived in Utah, and it’s the same general concept: Fresh Mexican food made to order right in front of you. The chicken and beef and such are pre-cooked, but nothing’s assembled until you place your order, and (a little like Subway) you then choose things like what kind of beans you want (pinto or black) and which type of salsa you prefer (they’re ranked by relative heat) as your meal makes its way from the tortilla end of the bar down to the cash register.

Qdoba’s Queso Burrito
Qdoba’s Queso Burrito
I ordered the Queso Burrito with chicken and the pico de gallo salsa, which made a tasty combination of flavors. I ended up with a burrito that was about 6 inches long and 4 wide; the thing was stuffed to the gills. The Burrito Assembly Worker (or whatever they call themselves) placed the ingredients on the tortilla in stripes which worried me at first, but the ingredients and flavors combined really well when she rolled the burrito up, and I found it kinda cool that the hot (actual temperature, not spice) of the chicken and rice and the coolness of the sour cream were initially on opposite sides of the finished burrito.

Katharine ordered soft chicken tacos that looked delicious. She also ordered a side of guacamole which was delicious. I believe them when they say their guac starts out each day as a shopping list.

Total tab, lunch for two with drinks and chocolate-chip cookies for dessert: $17 and change.

I now have yet another restaurant loyalty card to accumulate points I’ll likely never redeem. But I do get a free order of chips and salsa on my next visit just for the trouble of asking for the Qdoba Card to begin with.

Trivia: Feb 03, 2006

The earlier I wake up, the later I get to work

I set the alarm on my cell phone for 07:30 on weekdays. That’s my fail-safe time, the time by which I want to be out of bed and showering and getting dressed and such to arrive at work at my usual time, which can be anywhere between 08:15 and 08:45.

This morning I was fully awake about twenty seconds after 06:00, and I actually got up at that time too, and I was showered and dressed before 07:00. I should have just leapt into my trusty horseless carriage and gone to work right then but instead I futzed. Made a pot of coffee, which I sipped slowly while I caught up on the news and muttered complaints about the too-perky personalities on the morning news shows (Daryn Kagan must stop smiling all the time) and teased my cats with the feather/string/stick toy and whatnot.

I ended up arriving a little after 09:00.

Which is okay, I see this morning, because as of last night I had just under 36 hours for the week and we’re watching overtime expenses. (I like being hourly in some ways, but punching a clock kinda blows too.)

So I may even be able to break out of here a little early today. If I were a homeowner, I’d use that early departure to prepare for the storm that’s blowing in overnight, with winds forecast at 40mph sustained and 60mph gusts, but I live in a townhouse with a balcony about 8 inches deep and thus have no outdoor furniture nor anything else that can blow away, apart from the structure itself.

I hate windstorms.

The building’s intact, no blood on the walls or body parts strewn in the corridors

Flickr photo sharing: The 12th Window, outside
The 12th Window, outside (redux)
Flickr: Don Nunn
Looks like our QA manager took his office’s decoration in stride. I haven’t seen him yet, and the blinds on his windows are closed, so it’s entirely possible he is in some form of rage and has sequestered himself until he gets over it.

I love sports-fan rivalries. :-)


Links: Feb 02, 2006

Photographic evidence of The Decorating

Paper, streamers, balloons, and tape combine with a slight streak of evile humour to needle a Pittsburgh Steelers fan now living in Seattle Seahawks territory:

Flickr photo sharing: The 12th Wall
The 12th Wall
Flickr: Don Nunn
12s everywhere, with balloons and streamers for added visual flair.

Flickr photo sharing: The 12th Window
The 12th Window
Flickr: Don Nunn
Backward for readability from outside the building as our QA manager drives up in the morning. :-)

Flickr photo sharing: The 12th Window, outside
The 12th Window, outside
Flickr: Don Nunn
External evidence of the decoration inside. It's visible from a couple hundred yards away.

View the entire set: Super Bowl XL at the lab.

I knew there must be a reason they call it “Happy Valley”

They grows ’em smart in Utah!

Via an email from my mom:

Salt Lake Tribune: Stoner sets up his own pot bust
Where’s my weed? He calls cops after his stash is stolen from his home

Dude, who stole my weed?

That, in essence, is the question an 18-year-old Orem man posed to police after a thief broke into his home Monday and made off with his stash of marijuana.

It wasn’t long before Orem police tracked down the alleged thief—then arrested the victim for possession of the illegal drug.

The teenager had apparently refused to sell marijuana to an acquaintance who had called earlier in the day, said police spokesman Doug Edwards.

After the teen went to work, the acquaintance allegedly broke into the home and snatched the pot.

When the teen returned home, he realized his stash was gone and called police to report the burglary. He gave police a description of his acquaintance, a 23-year-old man, whom he believed broke into his house, Edwards said.

Police tracked down the man, who had a cut on his arm and blood on his jeans, and recovered six ounces of marijuana. He was booked into the Utah County jail on suspicion of burglary, theft and possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone with the intent to distribute.

Officers called the teen and asked him to come to the police station to identify his pot.

He did and was promptly arrested then booked into jail on suspicion of possession of marijuana in a drug-free zone with intent to distribute.

Let the Super Bowl baiting begin

A couple of my coworkers spent time this afternoon decorating the lab quality assurance manager’s office in the regalia of the Seattle Seahawks ahead of this weekend’s Super Bowl.

Our QA manager hails from the Pittsburgh area and is an avowed Steelers fan. He’s been wearing team T-shirts and whatnot all week but there hasn’t been any outright teasing until tonight.

QA dude works earlier in the day, which left plenty of time after his day ended for coworkers to steal into his office and up the ante.

Photos eventually because of course I don’t have my card reader on me.

Links: Feb 01, 2006

Here’s why I dislike falling asleep wearing my eyeglasses

Somehow I end up covering the lenses with fingerprints. I must fondle the damned things whilst I snooze.

The bedside light is really bright when you start awake just after 04:00.

Annie, my tabby cat, likes to chew narrow things like speaker wires and earphone cords and eyeglass earpieces. I became aware that I’d fallen asleep with my glasses on when I stirred awake at 04:09 to the sound of Annie nibbling the earpiece. No damage—she must just have started in on it.

Because getting eaten by a large jungle creature isn’t in the cards and apparently my autonomic nervous system has decided it must somehow provide me the infrequent fight-or-flight response to keep me grounded in reality, I now experience such responses over mundane events like the sound of nibbling on an eyeglass earpiece. Took me about 20 minutes to doze off again.

Last night was one of those strange times when I don’t remember even why I didn’t take my glasses off and switch off the lamp the moment I crawled into bed, which is my usual schtick. I rarely read or watch TV in bed, and I don’t go to bed until I feel tired so I want dark and quiet (maybe music, but nothing requiring visual attention).

Obviously what I did was slip my mind into the bedside table drawer and leave everything else untouched.