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October 2006

40 entries from September 2006

Impromptu road trip to Astoria and Cannon Beach, OR

Flickr photo sharing: Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock
Flickr: Don Nunn
Last Saturday at 23:00 I started driving south toward Astoria, OR with the goal of whiling away a quiet Sunday on the beach. Ended up spending a few hours wandering up and down the sand at Cannon Beach, waving my PowerShot around as I went.

Flickr photo sharing: Shadow walking
Shadow walking
Flickr: Don Nunn
From the parking area, walked about two miles north past Haystock Rock as the sun warmed my ocean-numbed toes and the crashing surf made fleeting memories of the daily grind.

Flickr photo sharing: Waves
Flickr: Don Nunn
It was almost a crime to have to go back home.

View the full set of 18 images at Flickr.

Which Programming Language Are You?

Just returned to my desk from an 80-minute product demo by conference call of a software package intended to make our lives easier in the data-package production world. In its current iteration, this software package would add levels of complexity and error possibility that utterly stagger my mind, so when I saw an IM from Bug with a quiz link about programming languages, off I went:

Summary of the day, 15 minutes in

Kat (09:17): :-)
Don (09:17): yo
Kat (09:17): How are you this fine morning?
Don (09:18): I have determined that (1) I stop at Starbucks at all based on my initial take of how sucky a given day will be, and (2) the size of the coffee beverage I buy and the number of shots included increases with my anticipation of the suckitude.
Kat (09:19): So you got a viente triple?
Don (09:19): Thus today I am drinking a triple venti nonfat no-whip white chocolate mocha. I’d been getting a tall single-shot the last few times I stopped, and I hadn’t stopped for about a month before today.
Kat (09:19): nice
Don (09:19): (also I just got to work about 6 minutes ago)

I was going to post some photos

of the spur-of-the-moment road trip I took to Astoria and Cannon Beach, OR, Saturday night (into very early Sunday morning—the drive took 4.5 hours thanks to the stupid convoys on two-lane highways!), but with Flickr’s recent (as in, within the last several hours) sign-in methodology change (see Flickr: News), FlickrExport is broken. And I don’t feel like importing the photos manually because then I’d have to assign tags and titles and descriptions and whatnot all over again.

So I’m hoping Fraser Spiers knows about the authentication burping and releases a maintenance update for FlickrExport toot sweet.

In the meantime:

It was a beautiful day, sunlight and warm and breezy, cloudless skies, and waves breaking endlessly along the beach near Haystack Rock (map). And Rogue Ales Public House’s service blows chunks but the beer’s pretty good, and the black-bean dip is delicious.

Bright lights

Flickr photo sharing: Bright lights
Bright lights
Flickr: Don Nunn
Now we enter the period of weeks each year, both spring and autumn, when the sun is low enough in the sky that it burns out my eyeballs in the later morning hours, and no amount of dropping the blinds will help me.

I like having a window as the right-side wall of my workspace, but damn if the bright light isn’t a bit counter-productive for an hour or so each day. And my dark lenses don’t help all that much because they’re polarized, and the angle of my PC monitor’s polarization is just so that the images are unusable unless I tilt my head about 35° to the left.

Friday’s Feast: One Hundred Eleven

Questions here; I found this on verbatim.

  • Appetizer: What was the very last song you listened to?
    “Shine” — Vienna Teng, Waking Hour
  • Soup: What is one company/store/corporation you would recommend that people stay away from?
    There’s a Seattle-area drug-store chain, Bartell, that drives me up the damned wall.
  • Salad: On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy having your picture made?
    3 or 4. I dislike most photos of me.
  • Main Course: Besides a bookmark, what is something you’ve used to keep your place in a book? My most common placeholder is a receipt, often from the restaurant where I most recently had lunch (I often read on my lunch breaks).
  • Dessert: Name a food that you like that most people don’t.
    Hmm, I can’t think of anything here. I was going to say “Calamari,” but I think that’s become a pretty common food item nowadays, or at least I don’t hear people talk about how much they dislike it anymore.

On Vox: QotD: Collector’s Item

View Don’s blogWhat do you collect?

The only thing I’ve made a specific attempt to collect in recent years has been logo pint glasses from brewpubs I’ve visited. I’m trying to start a wine collection of sorts but I tend to drink it about the same rate I buy it, so I’m just now at a point where I can say I have a collection at all—40 or so bottles I intend to keep around for a while.

» Read also on Vox

Links for 2006-09-15

If they say “an early return for fall” one more time . . . .

Rain today. Also cooler temperatures, so the weatherdorks are all clamoring to say in old and repetetive ways that fall is returning before its “official” start of Sep 23.

Seattle-area radar grab 09/14/06 09:15 PDTIt is cooler today, cloudy too, steady rain from the first time I stirred at 06:30 or so. I love the sound of rain. It’s also that unusual time of year when it’s just dark enough in the morning commute that I feel compelled to turn on my car’s headlights, but just bright enough that I like to use my sunglasses too.

They say possibly thunderstorms this afternoon. That’s one thing I miss about not living in Salt Lake City—it’s rare for a rainstorm here to generate lightning and thunder, but they were a regular part of the summer weather of my youth.

I miss my lightning even though it scares the hell out of me.

Links for 2006-09-13

CBS comedy preview as Discovery Channel paid program

That was strange.

I saw on my TiVo menu that I could record a sneak preview of the new CBS comedy The Class, about a group of 27-or-so-year-olds who knew each other from third grade and are reunited when one of them throws a party for his fiancée on the 20th anniversary of the day they met, in third grade.

Looked at least mildly funny from the CBS preview clip show I saw a few days ago, so I clicked into the menu item and set up the recording. But I didn’t notice how the recording was made possible.

Turns out it set up a recording on Discovery Channel. The recording was listed as a 30-minute block of paid programming, 04:00-04:30 on Sep 11, 2006. When I watched it last night, the opening mentioned specifically that it was a preview of a CBS show exclusively for TiVo users, and it even had Discovery Channel’s standard “the opinions expressed in this paid program do not necessarily reflect those of Discovery Channel blah blah blah” disclaimer.

I hadn’t realized CBS and Discovery had any corporate kinship, or any relationship at all. I wonder if it truly was simply a paid-programming placement and happened to be booked on Discovery at an hour they probably have little or no viewership beyond stoners and/or insomniacs?

6.9 million pints, give or take a few thousand

Beer is big business in Utah, accounting for three-quarters of a billion dollars added to the state's economy and for nearly 11,000 jobs according to this Salt Lake Tribune story my mom sent me (I added the links and corrected a couple of editorial mistakes):

Utah’s Fermentation Economy

Beer is big in Utah. How big gets a little lost in the numbers, but it’s safe to say that the state’s economy would feel the impact if the flow of suds ever dried up.

$754 million: Amount the beer industry generates to Utah’s economy each year.

$67.5 million: Beer excise taxes collected from 2001 to 2006.

$497 million: Total profits to the state and state taxes generated from sales of beer, wine and spirits during the past six years.

14 and 12: Number of Utah brewers and independent beer distributors, respectively, along with 2,900 outlets selling beer.

28,000: Barrels of beer produced this year by the state's largest brewer, Utah Brewers Cooperative, makers of Squatters and Wasatch labels.

Sources: National Beer Wholesalers Association, Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Utah Brewers Cooperative
The people who produce, distribute and sell beer say it generates three-quarters of a billion dollars in Utah each year and provides jobs for 10,670 Utahns, directly or indirectly. It also generates $255 million annually in wages and benefits, according to a study released by the National Beer Wholesalers Association and Beer Institute.

“This study demonstrates that the beer industry is more than just those who make and distribute our products,” Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “We are an industry of farmers, can manufacturers, truck drivers, retailers and many others located in virtually every state and local community across the country.”

How the institute came by those numbers can be traced to its Web site, beerservesamerica .org, where it lists reports from such agencies the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as selected distillers and retail outlets.

Although officials at the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control—which regulates and enforces Utah’s liquor laws—could not confirm the institute’s numbers, they do estimate that the state has collected nearly $12.5 million in beer excise taxes this year alone.

The 22-year-old beer tax is used to pay for prevention programs and mandatory training for clerks at grocery and convenience stores to ensure minors do not buy beer. Some of that money also goes into the state’s general fund.

Nationwide, the beer industry payroll exceeds $21 billion, with federal, state and local governments receiving tax revenue in excess of $30 billion annually, according to the Beer Institute’s study, which was conducted by John Dunham & Associates, an economic-research firm.

Although beer is likely to always be a part of Utah’s future, it was not always easy in the past to find a place that sold beer.

This year is the fifth anniversary of a federal ruling that forced Utah to lift a ban against advertising for heavy beer and liquor. And even before that, some Utah beer retailers sidestepped the letter of a law outlawing all beer advertising by simply misspelling the word. One retailer posted a sign saying:

“Cold Bee?” followed by a smaller inscription, “Welcome to Utah.”

Another had a sign that read:

“Cold Beer,” followed by “Nuts” in smaller letters.

That’s enough beer for roughly 3 pints per Utahn!

Ahh, massage

Chris’s comment on my neck-pain complaint post clicked my brain into “Oh yeah, I should follow up on that story” mode:

I stopped at InSpa in Mill Creek on my way home last night. Had a 30-minute Tension Relief Massage which did wonders to loosen up the muscles on the left side of my neck. The LMP commented on the insane tightness of the knot she felt just below the occipital right before she applied pressure at just the right (wrong?) angle and depth to induce a full-body twitch.

When I got home, there was some tenderness still, but the leftward range of motion was greatly increased. I iced it for a while before I went to bed and when I woke up, the muscles had tightened up a bit, but the warm shower immediately relaxed them.

Now there’s a tiny twinge occasionally if I turn my head fully to the left too quickly, or if I turn to the left while I look down. Otherwise, all good. :-)

Everything is closed

Apple has a media event today, starting in about 15 minutes at 10:00 PDT. They’re expected to announce products and services related to movies and music, or perhaps to movies and television, or perhaps to mobile video, or all of the above.

Or none of the above, depending upon which rumors site and technology pundit(s) you believe.

Apple Store “Back soon” graphicThe Apple Store and the iTunes Music Store are both closed, leaving thousands of tech faithful drooling over the possibilities.

I am, of course, in anticipatory geek glee, because even though I never buy things from Apple immediately following their release, it’s always great to see what they’re working on. I need to find a site with a text transcript of the event, ideally updated live (or close to it), so I can follow what’s going on.

Update 10:19:’s live-update site has the scoop.

The little wavering in her voice is so endearing, though

One of our invoicing folks—I’ll call her JL—is on vacation for a week starting today. She also normally handles phone duties during the day, and has developed a crisp and professional manner of paging calls via the public-address system so recipients know who us on the line, what extension to pick up, and often exactly how to pick up that extension. Our phone system’s voodoo-like transfer-to-hold method makes the instructions seem redundant but if you aren’t reminded every time a call is paged for you, you’ll be left completely flummoxed by the utterly unhelpful prompts on the phones’ little digital displays.

In JL’s absence, the phones (for this morning anyway) are being answered and calls paged by one of our accounts receivable persons, an older woman (seriously, she could be on a charm bracelet) I’ll call TB. Because TB covers the phones far less frequently, she has not developed a comfort level with making overhead pages, nor has she become accustomed enough to the phones’ transfer-to-hold and other operations that she can remember what she did with a given call between the time she does it and the time she pages the call recipient.

This often results in overhead pages similar to:

Don, you have a call holding on . . . uh, holding on One Two . . . no, holding on One One . . . on your line.

About a third of the time, a page such as this is followed by the recipient attempting to retrieve the call but finding the caller has been disconnected, because our phone system delights in confirming and maintaining a call’s hold status just long enough for the recipient to be paged.

TB’s voice does this charming little warbling thing while she makes the pages. We’ll get to enjoy it for the next week, presuming by tomorrow afternoon she doesn’t run screaming—softly, I don’t think her voice goes above about 20 dB—from the building to crawl into her SUV and drive carefully and slowly into the hills.

Stupid neck

I was brushing my teeth this morning when I turned my head slightly to the left to look into the medicine cabinet. Somehow that minor movement, not even done with a snapping motion, resulted in a tweak that has since left me mostly unable to turn my head to the left without this charmingly searing pain lancing upward from the base of my neck to the base of my skull.

The musculature SHRIEKS OUT every time I turn slightly to the left, because somehow the first time I turned slightly to the left this morning, I pulled something or sent the nerves into twitchy hell or God knows what.

I hate anatomy sometimes.

Links for 2006-09-11

Links for 2006-09-10

Tonight’s playlist: “loud”

I use iTunes’s Grouping field for keywords that describe the way a particular song hits me, or that indicate certain characteristics of the song. For example, I mark most songs with female vocalists female in the Grouping field—easy way to generate other playlists to fit a certain mood or singer type or whatever.

This playlist is all the songs I can never hear loud enough; I mark these loud.

The songs, in playlist order:

Song — Artist, Album

Continue reading "Tonight’s playlist: “loud”" »

it IS the sun!

sun burned through the overcast a little while ago and almost immediately the space heaters turned off and people started complaining about how warm it is today.

hello, people—it’s only a few degrees warmer now than it was three hours ago!

perception’s such a wonderful thing.

friday friday friday

all lower-case, too.


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woo freakin’ hoo, short work week ends today.

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i woke up with a mild headache. first thought was the couple pints i had last night but that can’t be it, those were before 21:00 and i was fine when i went to bed around 22:30. next thought: weather change? it is supposed to rain tomorrow, so that’s a possibility, i suppose.

final thought: bah. slamming ibuprofen like it’s going out of fashion.

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the lab’s wet-chemistry supervisor leaves today, going to work for a government lab, which means killer benefits and monday holidays out the wazoo, which would rock.

when i worked in managed care in salt lake city, the company at the time had something like 15 holidays each year, many of them the well-known monday holidays (presidents’ day, memorial day, labor day, columbus day). we also had good friday off, which was odd in the city that functioned as the world hq of the lds church.

the lab observes new year’s day, then nothing until memorial day. we’re open on days most of our clients are closed, and stupider still, the post office and banks are closed. if only ups and fedex would shut down on most of those days too, so we could say since we can’t send or receive anything, no point in being open at all.

but i digress. the actual point of this little rambling:

the wet-chem supervisor’s departure is one more in a long list of recent resignations which have left the lab (not just the seattle office, but the entire west coast network) in a state of disarray, which in turn leads more people to resign, increasing the chaos, &c.

it’s an evil circle that looks to be continuing indefinitely.

must find new gig toot sweet.

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i’ve noticed that most people who feel cold in seattle are reacting not to the temperature itself, but to the overcast or lack of same. this morning is overcast, gray and dry, not particularly cooler or warmer than any other days this week. but there are space heaters on at several desks because with the lack of sunlight, people feel colder.

i’m starting to formulate a theory that perhaps it’s really 70° here year-round, but the 9-hour days of midwinter feel like it’s low 40s and we bitch about heat in the summer because we have 16 hours of sunlight.

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katharine asked me tuesday morning to install windows live messenger on my work pc so she could talk to me from work.

i installed it that same day and she hasn’t been online since.

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speaking of fries, i’m really craving them. maybe that’ll be the centerpiece of my decision on what to do for lunch today, since i forgot the container that has my veal/mushrooms/rice leftovers.

at least, however, the container is still in the fridge. i didn’t leave it on the counter, which is something i have done a couple times in the past, so i can still have the leftovers for lunch another day.

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i started posting photos of our labor day weekend trip to victoria, bc, on my flickr account. eventually i may write about the trip too, but since i haven’t even finished writing up the july oregon-and-california trip log, don’t hold your breath.

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when i write these posts, i first type the bit of code that produces the little colons-and-bullets divider, then copy and paste the code several times so i won’t have to type it again. then i notice i try to write as many little randomy bits as necessary to fill in the spaces between the dividers i pasted.

i’m having trouble filling them today.

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yeah, i’m done for now. happy day-before-the-weekend, and see how many things i couldn’t think of today:

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Delta flight-status scoop

Mom’s flight to SLC was delayed to 15:40 for some small period time this morning. Shortly thereafter they expected it would, in fact, depart at its scheduled 15:15; it actually left the gate at 15:14.

But they didn’t update the status information available to their web site, nor did their phone agents know about the delay at all. “It’s always been scheduled for 15:15,” the agent who answered my mom’s call said. She had no clue there had been any change to the flight’s status; it took asking a supervisor, who contacted the control tower to find out what was up, to get the straight answer.

Good thing we weren’t relying solely on Delta’s status alerts. I didn’t get the update about it until about 10 minutes into the trek to the airport.

A month of silence

Monday marked a month since I activated the registration requirement for commenting on this site, which requires a verifiable email address from potential commenters.

It also marked a month of silence from my buddy Michael Manfredi, who had relied on fake email addresses for his previous comment submissions. I think I’ll turn off the registration requirement again, see if it gives Manfredi back his voice.