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November 2006
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35 entries from December 2006

2006 in cities

Rehashing the same idea from last year, the list of cities I spent at least one day (a contiguous 24-hour period) in 2006, in roughly chronological order. Asterisks indicate multiple visits; links lead to Google Maps:

I was going to list the cities where I spent at least a few hours as well, but that would number into the dozens—maybe even a hundred or more with the several road trips I took this year. I might do that later if I decide to scrape the info directly out of my Palm database.


Links for 2006-12-30


A wonderful holiday

We spent the holiday among family and friends.

Started Christmas Eve with our traditional holiday dinner. Mom, Katharine, and I spent much of the afternoon cooking, and our good friend Julie Anne joined us midafternoon to add another person to the kitchen entourage with her baked Brie appetizer and two kinds of pie. Our newer friends Dave and Jack joined us for dinner and we spent the evening reveling in the spirit of the season, telling our oldest stories and enjoying the good meal and chance to get to know everyone.

On Christmas Day, we made waffles with my new waffle iron (rocked utterly) and spent the late morning with gifts and coffee and a bit of reminiscing. In the afternoon we brought out Katharine’s game Mad Gab, an amusing (and sometimes incredibly difficult) game of nonsense phrases put together to sound like common words or sentences. You try to guess the actual word or sentence by sounding out the printed phrases, with sometimes comical results (see tagline).

We spent half an hour or so in the early evening trying to filter out and package the turkey stock we’d created overnight. Turns out it takes several containers to hold the fluid volume of a 12-quart stock pot. Seems plainly evident now but last night it was such a shock as we cast about trying to find just one more jar or canister or plastic container to fit the last of the stock for the ride back to Julie Anne’s kitchen.

Today brings the return to work, our return to normalcy somewhat. I’m working with Katharine tonight (we get just Christmas Day as a work holiday, even though everyone else has today off too), so I won’t be in the office until tomorrow, which is why I can be lounging around my townhouse in shorts and a T-shirt just before 09:00, making this web-site entry instead of freaking out about being late for work.

I hope your holiday brought the joy of family of friends and the warmth of togetherness similar to what we enjoyed. Merry Christmas. :-)


Links for 2006-12-23


Friday-morning pre-holiday randomness

My drive to work took 28 minutes door-to-door. Absolutely no delays anywhere, exactly as I expected.

Now this is the way I like it.

My drive home—actually, into downtown Seattle, as I’m meeting family and friends for dinner—will likely take considerably longer as everyone tries to flee the city for their own holiday celebrations. I’ll be monitoring bridge traffic quite closely all afternoon.

:: • :: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Last night I carried a couple bags of trash out to the bins but they were full, so I carried the bags back to my garage for quick disposal after the apartment folks empty the bins into the big compactor.

When I got back into the kitchen a minute or so later, my left index finger was completely numbed out from the last knuckle to the tip. It’s an odd sensation—the tip of my finger feels about twice as large as it really is because the skin’s touch sensitivity is reduced so much.

No idea why it happened. No bruising or pain, just the numb feeling, and it goes away if I rub vigorously at the fingertip or while I’m typing with the repetitive striking of keys. But the numb sensation returns after a minute or so of inactivity.

:: • :: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Speaking of odd sensations:

Last night I pulled my car up to the front door when I arrived home. I had some groceries and I wanted to unload them through the front door directly into the dining room rather than trooping through the garage, up the stairs to the living room, down the corridor past the kitchen, and finally to the dining room.

I forgot I’d left the car out front until about two hours later, by which time I’d changed into my usual alone-at-home casual clothes, cotton shorts and a T-shirt. I was also barefoot because in the trash-bin trek earlier, I’d soaked the soles of my slippers, and they were drying in the garage.

So when I remembered about the car, I just walked outside in shorts and T-shirt, barefoot, and hopped across the (cold! wet!) lawn into the car for the quick drive around the building to the garage.

It’s weird to drive a car barefoot. I’m used to the thickness of my shoes and I nearly sent myself through the windshield twice when I stepped on the brake a bit too hard.

:: • :: • :: • :: • :: • ::

On my way to the grocery store last night, I managed a 6.4-mile stretch without a single stop for red lights on my old back-roads route home from the lab.

In the nearly two years I’ve lived in this area, I’ve never managed to make that stretch without stopping for at least two red lights. I was pleased.

:: • :: • :: • :: • :: • ::

Today promises to be fairly dead at work, which means it would normally be a good day to learn a lot of stuff. Except nothing much is happening, and since the best (for me) learning experiences happen with active projects, it’ll probably be a day of chatting with the three other workers on-site and the occasional allegedly high-priority problem report and a fair bit of coffee-drinkin’.

Also counting the seconds to the end of the shift. :-)

:: • :: • :: • :: • :: • ::

I thought I had a lot more to say today but it’s all dribbled out of me brane. Have a good weekend and a Merry Christmas.


Links for 2006-12-22


Holiday trains

Holiday trains at Seattle Center Winterfest
Holiday trains at Seattle Center Winterfest
Seattle Center’s Winterfest in full swing with an extensive train set-up mimicking an 1880s town. Kids can take a guest-conductor turn for a $5 suggested donation.


We’re back

Absolutely no fanfare when the lights came back on five minutes ago, just as I was drifting off to sleep. :-)


. . . and turning around I am


View larger map
Got to the Beardslee/195th area of I-405 southbound when Katharine called. She was checking various sources and determined there was little reason to head in today, so I jumped off the freeway and turned around, now heading to her place to check email and connect with the world again (if only briefly).

The ongoing news-radio coverage is still highlighting the widespread power outages, downed trees, some flooding, and now snow and general inaccessibility of many areas. Occasionally they juxtapose that with the oddity of lengthy power outages in some areas where right next door the power never even flickered, and then the utility companies’ spokesentities give new estimates on total numbers of affected customers and how long it might take to restore service to everyone. The phrase “up to several days” keeps floating around.


Well, in I go

Power is on starting immediately south of the Town Center and what traffic exist is moving well, even at the intersections converted to all-way stops by the outages.

I tried to make several updates through the night when particularly strong gusts woke me up—I think I got maybe an hour and a half of sleep in total—but I’ve no idea if they worked because my data coverage was irregular at best.

More when (if, in fact) I get to the office.


. . . and still in the dark

No power yet, not unexpected. The radio news coverage is a mix of normal fare (standard business coverage, sports updates twice an hour, commercial breaks as always) and mildly hysterical listener call-in reports. KIRO 710 spent 10 minutes rattling off a list of just the private– and parochial-school closures, abd KOMO 1000’s traffic updates spotlight mild volumes and major road closures.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to brave the dark roads to head to work. I can see indirect light to the southwest and the northwest, so areas around me have power, and from my experience of major storms in Salt Lake City in my youth, the idea of staying home because of this storm seems absurd. But I don’t want to struggle to get there only to find the place shut down.


Crazy gusting winds

I’ve been using my iPod to try to mask the sounds of this storm, but about every 50 minutes (almost like clockwork) a particularly strong gust rattles the entire house and stirs me fully awake. I haven’t been able to sleep really deeply yet anyway, so I will probably be next to useless in the morning.

The winds are also scaring the hell out of my cats—they’re both huddled right up against me and every time a new howl blows through, Flex in particular tries to shrink further into himself. He’s usually pretty nonchalant but tonight everything is out to get him.

I set the alarm for 06:00 so I can check the news and find out if it’s worthwhile to shower and dress for the ride to work. If I drop off NOW and sleep like a rock continuously, I’ll get a bit more than three hours of sleep tonight.

Oh joy!


Darker still

The distant glow has faded a bit. Could be more outages or heavier rain, can’t really tell. I’m looking forward to seeing news coverage of this storm in the morning—earlier they were already talking about some school closures and the 520 bridge being closed through the morning commute at least.

I am not looking forward to the drive to work.... blargh.


And we’re dark

Just went out, no sound but the wind and rain.

I can see the general glow of other lights in the distance, though, so at least for now this outage is fairly localized.

And I’m already curled up under my blankets. :-)


Booms nearby

Keep hearing what sounds like transformers giving up the ghost, buy power’s stayed steady so far. The trees are lashing wildly about, however.


Geek moment of joy

So as I was preparing the maps of my commute home for my latest-memorable-storm entry, I noticed that Google Maps has added the ability to plot directions with multiple destinations, similar to the way Yahoo! Maps has allowed directions in their beta version for several months.

I also noticed a few days ago that you can expand the map on the Google Maps page to take up the whole page—just click the little expander triangle to the map’s immediate left.

So even if I’m in the dark all night, I’ve had my moment of nerdly bliss tonight, and I’ll be okay.

Have a [safe (if in the Puget Sound area)|good (outside the Sound area)] evening! :-)


So far all this wind has done is blow-dry the pavement

We have the latest Memorably Powerful Storm well into its tenth (or so) hour now. It started around 12:30 with rain, a steady drizzle at first that developed into an amazing downpour that dumped about two inches on parts of the Puget Sound by 17:00. Predictably, the afternoon commute was hell, and (also predictably) the freeways cleared up well ahead of the surface streets where localized power outages and some standing water (and a couple mudslides) brought vehicles to a soggy halt.

My own commute home took about 40 minutes because of the jammed traffic I encountered on Redmond Way and, after I bagged the left turn from 148th Ave NE and continued north on Willows Road, on NE 124th St between Willows and I-405. Once I was on the freeway, though, the drive flew right along, even when I encountered a fresh round of torrential rains just past the I-405/SR 527 junction and on I-5 north to the 128th St SE exit.

So far only a few power flickers, none enough even to make the network twitch. But they newsies are saying the worst of the winds haven’t reached us yet so I’ve gathered up the flashlights and some candles and will huddle up under the blankets when bedtime arrives.

If the wind goes shrieking along all night, it’ll be a long one. I don’t much care for windstorms anyway and this townhouse has a wind-tunnel property that can enhance the whistling/moaning effect of strong winds.

The newsies are talking about the pending closure of the 520 floating bridge and the possible closure of the I-90 floating bridge, along with delays or cancellations at SEA.

Yargh(!).


After a week

Some observations about my first five days on this job. I may add more later:

  • Men leave huge puddles of water all over the sink areas in all office buildings, not just in the small ones. (Does this happen in womens’ restrooms too?)
  • People you have never met feel no qualms about quizzing you about your color vision when they notice you’ve configured your PC to use a primarily gray-scale color scheme.
  • Laptops are the new Trapper Keepers. Seriously, people walk around with them here the way I walked around with my loose-leaf binders and spiral-bound notebooks in junior high.
  • Voice modulation is amusingly absent among many of the people who work in this building. My job isn’t dependent on quiet, thank God, because at times there’s none of that here.
  • I look, as usual, like a thug on my ID/card-key badge. I hate those damned things.

A month later, the P-I kinda sorta backpedals

Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Robert L. Jamieson asks how Warren Yeakey’s life has changed in the month since a construction crane collapsed in Bellevue, killing a 31-year-old Microsoft attorney. Yeakey was operating the crane and was in its cab during the collapse, falling with the machinery about 200 feet; he was injured but walked away from the crash.

Upshot of the story (content after the jump): Yeakey’s life has been hell, with endless media scrutiny and the P-I’s own tabloid-style coverage of Yeakey’s past that likely has no bearing on the crane collapse. The commenters on Jamieson’s column largely seem to agree that it’s disingenuous for Jamieson to ask how Yeakey’s life is going, since the problems the Yeakeys have experienced were created almost entirely by the P-I’s lurid coverage in the days immediately following the collapse.

Continue reading "A month later, the P-I kinda sorta backpedals" »


Acronymery from hell

I thought the lab was evile for acronyms and abbreviations but I have already encountered I would estimate 400,000 acronyms/abbreviations/etc. in just my first 11 hours here.

Melting. Brane.


Starter fluid

Flickr photo sharing: Starter fluid
Starter fluid
Flickr: Don Nunn
I tried a back-roads route to work and ended up nearly 45 minutes early, so I swerved into the coffee shop for a wake-up beverage. This Starbucks does amazing volume—I had to fight my way through the lengthy drive-thru line for parking, but the inside line moved FAST.


First school night in a while

Mill Creek to Redmond route mapSince I left my last job on Oct 30, I’ve had 27 weekdays off. My weekends became just two more days in the cycling periods of light and dark that marked the passage of time. I went from writing the date up to a couple hundred times per day to writing it maybe once a week for a little more than a month until I had to fill out a stack of forms I would conservatively estimate contained 300 pages at the staffing agency Tuesday afternoon.

Tonight marks the first night since Oct 29 that I’ve given any thought to going to bed at a reasonable time so I can be out of bed, showered/shaved/dressed, and out the door with sufficient time to reach my new place of employment, which is about 18 miles away via the most direct route that includes freeways I’ll probably be avoiding after tomorrow.

I’ve never started a job on a Thursday before. I’ve only started on Mondays or Wednesdays. In fact, my two most recent jobs started on the same date, Jun 26, but seven years apart—1995 a Monday, 2002 a Wednesday. It’ll be a bit strange for my first work week to be just two days long, stranger still for my first paycheck to include just those two days (pay period ends this week).

It will certainly rock to be back among the workforce again.

So for the next several workdays I’ll be struggling along various routes to find a viable back-roads path that will take as little time as possible while avoiding as much traffic as possible. I also have the joy of a laughably absurd crowded-parking-lots situation when I get to the office, who knows how that part will go. And there’s the drive home as well.

I’ll be glad when my regular graveyard shift kicks into place. No worries about commuting at 23:30 most days and the drive home at 08:00 might be annoying at times, but it’ll be against the major flow of traffic at least while I’m living in Mill Creek.

So happy Thursday, a few hours in advance, and wish me luck in the next phase of my life. I’m really looking forward to it.


Another problem with a Bellevue construction crane

Recent increased scrutiny of Bellevue-area tower-type construction cranes similar to the one that collapsed in November has resulted in a few stories of flaws found in two cranes’ support structures. Today’s stories, links only—click through for story content:


Christmas meme

Got tagged for this one by my old friend Chris, so I’ll continue it and pass it on to Katharine (if she ever has a site of her own, or she can do it here if she likes) and to Julie Anne:

  1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
    Hot chocolate. I like egg nog, but absurdly sparingly—it’s so rich, a single small glass is all I need to last me the entire season.
  2. Does Santa wrap presents or just place them under the tree?
    Wraps. Everything under the tree is wrapped no matter the source.
  3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
    When I was a kid, we had a riot of different colors and sizes of lights on our tree, including some of my all-time favorites, the bubble lights. Now, we use the small-bulb white strands and the effect is simply spectacular.

Continue reading "Christmas meme" »


Potential problems found in crane at another Bellevue construction site

Both Seattle dailies included stories noting the shutting down of another Bellevue construction site yesterday following the discovery of what appeared to be cracks in tower crane’s structure. No excerpts on these stories; please click through to the papers’ sites: