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22 entries from February 2008

Hurricane Charlie

It didn’t occur to me until about, oh, 30 seconds ago that I could have photographed this for posterity, but the description will have to do because I already cleaned up the debris.

Backing up a bit, though:

This morning I went out to the hospital to upgrade the gift shop’s cash registers to the latest version of their point-of-sale software. I was hoping to solve a problem whereby manually entered credit-card transactions are declined because the register software we had wasn’t sending a “card is present” flag to our credit-card processing software, which then assumed the card was NOT present and in turn passed that on to our card processor. Our card processor does not accept such transactions without an explicit declaration of the card’s physical presence, even if you provide the CVV2, which the register software is not providing and does not have a setting I can change to ensure the declaration is made. So the transactions are denied with the helpful message:


We thought an upgrade to the latest version of the register software might resolve this. The upgrade proceeded smoothly and the register program launched just fine, a few visual tweaks to the interface but nothing momentous, and then I tried a manual credit-card transaction and—

(wait for it)

I got:


The shop doesn’t open until 12:30 today, which is good, because only the stuffed animals and Easter bunnies and candy bars heard the string of curses I emitted after that response code appeared on the screen.

And apropos of nothing whatever, it’s wildly appropriate that the abbreviation for “point of sale” is POS.

And it’s Sunday, so no sales or technical support available, which means this now will be what I do Monday. Oh joy.

But perspective counts for a lot on a day like today, and when I got back to the house I found out that the register silliness wasn’t actually so bad. Because Charlie, adorable little almost-14-week-old Charlie, had romped about the house in a spectacular imitation of an M1 Abrams tank in a china shop.

Charlie had managed to knock a plant entirely off its stand, somehow not spilling much dirt and not cracking the pot in the process, but the plant knocked over Mom’s CD storage tower, sending CD cases all over the living room. The flying CDs in turn knocked over and broke a glass hurricane lamp that contained a wad of small lights as a decorative accent.

And then Charlie found the potpourri bowl on the coffee table, and the scents of cinnamon and dried oranges and other nice things proved irresistible, and now that potpourri rests mainly in the Shop-Vac.

But Chuckles wasn’t done yet. From the dining room, he grabbed a quilted bag that held several catalogs and stapled sets of papers and managed somehow to scatter the papers about (most of them were in the entry hall) without chewing them up. And the bag shows no damage either; I have a feeling that was because I returned right as he was starting with the bag.

Scarves and coats scattered about too, because they dangle from hooks on the wall by the stairs just inside the front door, and oooh! swinging things!

Needless to say, Charlie’s a bit on my shit list, which is difficult because of the cute. He does seem to get the badness, I suppose, though I think most of the teaching-him-not-to-eat-potpourri is going to be achieved by removing the potpourri from areas he can reach until he’s past the nibbles stage with the new teefs.

Time for a walk, I think. He can chew up the trees as we wander the neighborhood in the wind!

When pinheads attack

Flickr photo sharing: When pinheads attack
When pinheads attack
Flickr: Don Nunn
Apartment maintenance guys using shovels and a pickax to break up hardened soil in some planters on the ground floor. They’re throwing the soil chunks into the bushes on the east side of the property, but one chunk got away and invaded southbound Aurora Avenue. They rushed down to remove the 3-foot chunk before any vehicles hit it.

One of my all-time favorite songs

I may have posted this before, in which case, here it is again.

The Fat Lady Sings: Arclight
Hear the song:

shine like an arclight
sing like a bird might sing
when he was higher than heaven
higher than every other thing
some kind of arclight
sparks in the street
I know that you’ve no answers
all I need is for you to shine

shine like an arclight
like I want you to shine
I know that you’ve nobody
and I know that you’re not mine
but the light that you are
and the light you could be
is the only thing I want
the only light I can see

you don’t have to know the words
and you don’t have to know the rules

you just shine in the morning like the sun
burn like a candle in the night
shine like a book that’s never been read
burn like a saint who knows he’s right
shine like a shard of glass
on the forest ground
when you shine you know
you burn me down

well I don’t wear no chains
I’ve got no cross to bear
and I’m as free as the wind
I am as free as the air
I am as free as the old
I am as cold as the dawn
and I’m as lost as you are
you are my only law

you don’t have to know the words
and you don’t have to know the rules
and you never had to speak
you never had to speak, oh no, oh no, oh no
you never had to speak
you never had to speak, oh no, oh no, oh no

you just shine in the morning like the sun
burn like a candle in the night
shine like a book that’s never been read
burn like a saint who knows he’s right
shine like a shard of glass
on the forest ground
when you shine you know
you burn me

shine in the morning like the sun
burn like a candle in the night
shine like a book that’s never been read
burn like a saint who knows he’s right
shine like a shard of glass
on the forest ground
when you shine you know
you burn me down

down, down, down
you burn me down

Mac OS X 10.5.2

Mac OS X Leopard boxI usually wait a day or two when Mac OS X updates come out so I can see what horrors they may cause for others, but I decided to throw caution to the wind this time and install an update only a few hours after I knew it was available.

Turned out to be a very simple update. Did a full backup—Time Machine, handy that, actually did it for me—and installed the 10.5.2 update via Apple’s Software Update routine.

Now I’ve reduced the translucence of the OS X menu bar, which though it didn’t bother me much directly would occasionally wig me out when my desktop background would do its every-5-minutes automatic change. That’s about the single most obvious change for me, other than the Time Machine status indicator in the menu bar being on by default. The rest of the update is just structural/performance stuff I’ll possibly never notice directly.

Oh, and got a QuickTime update which also installed successfully but once more I haven’t found anything new yet.

So yeah. Happy Monday, eh?

Air travel is achieved by voodoo

I spent much of the last two days attempting to book airline tickets from Seattle to Salt Lake City via Delta Air Lines.

I can hear your question: Why Delta? I can’t hear my answer very well, however, because the guy who lives above me is walking around his apartment like an overweight elephant on steroids, so I’ll fall back to my default: I have the most miles with Delta and they have the most non-stop flights between SEA and SLC. And they’re the legacy airline from my youth when we flew Western a lot. Some sort of demented brand loyalty, I suppose.

Anyway, a few days ago my mom emailed me: Would I like to fly to SLC for a few days later this month? Because she’ll be in Denver over a weekend on business, and if I was in SLC, we could hang out some and I could keep an eye on her house and cats while she’s out of town, in addition to doing some stuff around her house and keeping her hospital gift shop running smoothly while she’s gone. Normally she inflicts the gift-shop duty on one or more of her friends at the hospital, but she figures if I’m available I ought to get the chore since I’m the one who inflicted their point-of-sale system on them back in 2004.

So I thought, sure, a quick trip to the hometown would be fun. And I could drive, I likes me road trips, though with the crazy weather we’ve had over the last few weeks in the Cascades passes, it would be a bit of a gamble. I decided to check flight options before I made any final decision.

Fired up the Delta web site and put in various travel dates. I got a lovely list of flights, all of which showed “available” seats in the seat-choice portion of the booking. The fares were in the $250 to $300 range, which is pretty normal for a SEA-SLC round trip.

But when I tried to finish a booking, Delta’s system would helpfully inform me that no seats were available at the fare class I had chosen. By “fare class” they apparently meant “paid seats,” because while I was looking for a coach seat, it was showing me all available seats each time, including the first-class cabin. But I couldn’t actually select anything because the booking system was on a break or something.

So I called. I talked to a friendly woman who told me she understood I might be having problems with the Delta web site, but that’s where the lowest fares are, and if I booked through her it would be $50 higher or more, for the same flights and seat assignments I had just seen online moments before.

I thought I’d just wait a few hours, try again, see if I could get the system to work. But I forgot the voodoo step required of the customer, namely the eviscerating of the chickens—it was a no-go until midday today.

And then, not only did the booking work, but the same flights and seats I’d tried to book yesterday came up today at $150 round-trip.

$100 fare savings for just the cost of the annoyance of not being able to book at a higher price for 12 or more hours.

No wonder the airline industry is in such trouble.

Dinner and a movie

Some time ago, I think in the middle 15th century although lately my sense of time has been, to put it mildly, a bit warped, I added all three Jason Bourne movies to my Netflix queue. I’d thought, at the time, that though I had already seen the first two—I rented The Bourne Identity from Netflix shortly after it came out, and I saw The Bourne Supremacy both at the cinema and by Netflix rental—it would be good to see them both once more before I saw The Bourne Ultimatum, the trilogy’s final installment.

Turns out Julie Anne hadn’t seen the final movie either, and when Katharine wanted to see Ultimatum in the cinema last summer, we both begged off because we wanted to see the first two movies again. Refresh our memories, you see. So I added the first two movies to my Netflix queue.

Just barely got caught up on them tonight, and I have the third movie too, because we never did see it in the theaters. Julie Anne came over and we saw the first two flicks, pausing in the middle for spaghetti with homemade sauce (I made the sauce, Julie Anne brought the spaghetti). Finished the second movie over tea from the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC, along with a slice of the spice cake I happened to make this morning, with the cream-cheese frosting I happened to make last night because I found the cake mix in my cupboards and thought it would be kinda good to make.

Third movie is waiting impatiently on my DVD player, probably will watch it sometime over the weekend. For now, though, it’s a school night of sorts for both of us, so I’m off to bed.

Soup! Er... Tuesday?

Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley 2006 RieslingMassive voting day here in the USA, 24 states have primary elections today. I am thus avoiding the cable news channels like the plague, an approach made easier because I have my friend Matt to provide me updates via IM.

I also opened a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling, their 2006 vintage. Easily drinkable with slight sweetness and many lovely fruity notes. It’s from a local winery and sells at a delightfully low price, usually $7 or under per bottle—this was the wine we sipped in late November and all of December as we prepared the various holiday meals.

Tonight I am preparing leftovers, because when I got home from some errands today (after lunch with Katharine, and let me tell you, driving across the 520 bridge in a howling windstorm is quite an enjoyable adventure), I meant to thaw a couple of chicken breasts for grilling, but I forgot to do that. So it was either pasta leftovers from late last week, or a PB&J, and I’m out of peanut butter. Which is stupid, it was on my shopping list and I was at the grocery today. But my grocery list was on my refrigerator, silently mocking me across the empty miles.

Anyway. Washington state has its caucuses (for Democrats) on Saturday, and then primaries on Feb 19. We do both caucuses and primaries and then perform some sort of voodoo to determine which method’s results will make a damned bit of difference, but we voters aren’t apprised of that bit of info, so who knows. (Actually, see.)

The winds from today’s storms have abated somewhat tonight, and since I am so carefully avoiding news coverage of the ongoing election insanity, I think I’ll have another glass of wine while I do a few things around the house. Nothing makes cleaning easier, after all, than a bit of liquid courage.