HOLIDAY OVERDOSE: “Leavenworth’s Christmas Lighting Festival helped earn this Bavarian themed town the title of ‘Ultimate Holiday Town USA’ from the A&E Network last year.”
This was a major WTF moment for me last night. I had looked at the Seattle Times site a couple of times through the afternoon and evening but saw nothing about this until it was covered on CNN, which I had on as background noise for much of the time between 17:00 and 21:00. Then I checked the Times’ site once more and finally saw a story about it, and this morning I found the story after the jump.
And on my way to work I heard a news story indicating the mall would reopen midday today, an hour or so before the alleged shooter appears in court for a bail hearing.
The (what I thought would be a) micro-cold I had last week has now settled into my chest and sinuses for a longer-term visit, so I enjoy Fun Sinus Pressure and Amusing Coughing Fits every hour or so the last few days. I’m so happy!
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Yesterday I dealt with a total of 109 data sets containing 140,000 data points. When I arrived home last night, my eyes were still glazed over from all the spreadsheets and semicolon-delimited text files and macros and EDD checkers on web sites and in poorly written Windows executable files dating to the early 1990s.
So what did I do last night to rest my eyes and avoid data overload?
Balanced my checking, savings, and credit-card accounts!
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Today is election day, which means it’s the last day we’ll have to listen to all the stupid propaganda on the radio and television. Also the forests of campaign signs will start to disappear over the next few days. On the back-road route I take to work, I stopped counting the campaign signs at 250 when I was about a mile and a half into my commute this morning.
Bad enough all the signage, but I’ve also been buried in campaign mailers this time around. I received one county council candidate’s postcard-style mailer a total of 18 times in the last two weeks. Dave Gossett apparently believes his words are so important, I need to see them at least once a day for most of the month leading up to the election.
Or perhaps he knows those words are empty and believes that only by endless repetition will he achieve a win.
In any case, I haven’t seen a single campaign flyer or postcard from his opponent, Eva Davies. I don’t even know what she looks like and I didn’t see her blurb in the election-information pamphlet either. Of course I wasn’t looking for it, no surprise there.
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We have three four-day weekends in November and December because of the holidays. This is the first year we’ve had two days off for each holiday. If I had known about it far enough in advance, I could have requested three days off and enjoyed nearly two weeks total with the proximity of the Christmas and New Year holiday weekends. As it is, I’ll be staying in Seattle this holiday season. Mom’s visiting for the December holiday week, and we’ll probably make a jaunt up to Victoria, BC, to see Butchart Gardens in all its holiday finery. It was gorgeous enough by itself with the plants and trees and flowers; decked up for the holidays, it must be spectacular.
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I guess I’d better do some work now. I’ve been bouncing around on the phone and back and forth among some spreadsheets and report formats and this ongoing randomness for an hour, time to concentrate on one thing for a while.
I found out just now, via a crash of my PDA and ensuing restoration attempt, that my calendar contains nearly 11,000 records.
These records date back to Jan 01, 1999, which was when I began tracking my life electronically in any meaningful (read: supremely nerdly) way. I received a Handspring Visor Deluxe for Christmas 1998 but backorders and shipping delays meant I didn't have it in hand until January 1999, and from that point forward I started keeping somewhat casual track of my workdays and my personal life—movies I saw, when, and with whom; dining times, places, and companions; travel locations and purposes, along with dates; and so on.
That was also the time when I was getting promoted through the ranks of the help desk at the managed-care company where I worked, and I found it handy to synchronize my handheld to my work email/calendar program so I'd have a ready reference for employees' days off and other scheduling information.
I'd say maybe 45% of the records from 1999 to 2002 are direct results of my job. To that point I was pretty lax in recording personal events, but when I left Salt Lake City in March 2002 I began noting personal events much more carefully. Now the events breakdown runs I'd guess 75% personal, 24% work events, and 1% random things like news events I want to remember or historical anniversaries I like to track.
Man, what geekery the last six years of my life represent.
I love summer for the chance to linger over a meal or even just a beer or a cup of coffee in a nice outdoor setting, and the Seattle area offers a boatload of opportunities, nicely summarized (though by no means exhaustively) in The Seattle Times story below.
98011 is the ZIP code for my office. It is also a prime number, I found out just now by way of A9.com.
Utah's official cooking pot is the Dutch oven. I discovered this in The Plates of America, a deseretnews.com article I've quoted below the cut because it includes an amazingly comprehensive listing of the food-related symbols of all the states.
Though in some cases their take on "food-related" is a bit... thick.
There's an Atlas Van Lines tractor-trailer that's now circled the block seven times. I can't imagine anyone would really be moving in at 22:30 and I wonder why the driver and his (at least) two helpers don't stop and knock on a door to ask for directions if they're having trouble finding the address they need, but then again they are men, and we don't ask for help.
Or so I'm repeatedly told by the women in my life.
I spent much of today being annoyed by a dully throbbing and persistent headache which started about half an hour after I woke up as a mild pressure and by 10:30 was pounding away just behind my eyes. By then I'd partaken of a few Advil tablets to no avail; did that a couple more times throughout the day but the damned ache lasted until around 21:00. Now it's been about 90 minutes gone and I'm hoping it doesn't return before I go to bed sometime soon.
Hmm, I thought I had more to say but I've just screeched to a halt, random-thoughts-wise.
Have a good night.
A couple albums I picked up from the in the last few months (I received a $30 gift card for Christmas and I just used the last $9 and change two days ago), along with a selection of my all-time favourites and some songs of the moment.
In the order the shuffle’s playing them as I type.
My mom pointed out this story earlier today. I post it here without further comment because it’s so wonderfully representative of the ultraconservative Utah mindset.
Salt Lake Tribune story link; it’s only available in the newspaper’s paid archive now.
Well now. Seems he's removed all doubt surrounding the circumstances of his first disappearance.
Entire story (Trib's update posted today at 17:06) below the cut.
I hadn’t planned to post this when I saw a snippet about it early Tuesday, but I’ve had enough hits from searches for it that I figured I might as well oblige people seeking it.
The link in the post title leads to a registration-required version of the article on the latimes.com site.
Los Angeles Times: Disney Float Knocks Woman Unconscious
A 25-year-old Guatemalan woman was knocked unconscious by part of a float during Disneyland’s Christmas Fantasy parade Monday, officials said.
The woman, whose name was not released, was one of four people struck by a simulated carpet on the Aladdin float, a park spokesman said.
The incident occurred about 8:15 p.m. near the end of the parade route. The three others were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
The woman was treated at Western Medical Center-Anaheim. Disney spokesman Rob Doughty said park officials were trying to determine how the accident occurred and who was at fault.
“The Aladdin’s magic carpet extends out the back of the [float] with tassels,” he said. “We believe it’s that portion of the float that made contact with the guests. It was not raining at the time, but the pavement was a little slick, so that may have contributed to this.”
Disneyland removed the float from the parade to examine it and found it in proper mechanical condition, park officials said. They said it would return to service when its safety was fully established. The state said it was not investigating the incident because it did not occur on a ride.
The Anaheim Police Department filed a report but deemed the incident too minor to investigate.
All posts about injuries or deaths in Disney theme parks (most recent listed first):
I'm at my mom's house getting ready for the Christmas Eve dinner that's become traditional in the last several years. Giving the turkey breast a last-minute thawing and preparing the salt/sugar brine I'll be using and now the sink is screaming at me.
My Wal-Mart adventure ended at Kmart, which seemed strange to me. Especially when I ran into Ronda, a former coworker whom I hadn’t seen in, what, the 9 years since I left Kmart for bigger and better things.
I ended up buying a case of standard-issue white-with-red-and-green-stripes peppermint candy canes. 48 boxes, 12 canes each, for a total of 576 canes. More than we needed, but the extras can go into the giant Christmas stockings they raffle off to employees each year as another token of thanks for their service.
I also bought eight 2-quart bottles of apple cider, which we’ll use in the gift shop to make wassail customers can sample so we can sell more of the wassail mix.
Eight 2-quart bottles of apple cider weigh a lot when you try to grab them all out of the cart and put them into your car’s trunk. And when two bottles leap out of your arms, you look pretty silly chasing them as they bounce merrily across the parking lot.
I found myself answering two other Kmart customers’ “Where do I find ___?” questions as I walked through the store to find the candy canes and apple juice.
I was wearing jeans, a green shirt, and a long black coat, looked nothing like a Kmartian, but they accepted my help as though I were some authority figure.
And my brain was shrieking, “No! Don’t do it! NOOOOOOOOO...!!!” as I spoke each time.
I really should listen to my brain.
The Wal-Mart had a vast quantity of peppermint candy canes but the store manager (“I’m the store director,” he haughtily informed me) wouldn’t sell me more than two boxes (24 canes) in any single purchase. As if making 21 separate transactions was even remotely a possibility.
The guy had a guaranteed sale but did everything in his power to subvert it.
Some people shouldn’t be in positions with any authority.
They make bubble-gum-flavor candy canes, I discovered today.
These candy canes are hideously pink, such that I could tell they’re hideously pink, despite my trouble with colour vision.
When I first saw these candy canes, I thought: “Who’d have guessed they’d make Pepto Canes now.”
I half-expected those idiot Pepto Dancers to appear down the aisle.
Time to fire up the phone and get utilities and such connected, and then I must decide if I want to switch my cell phone to a Cingular plan (which I’m sure would require a new phone, something I’m not ready to do yet) immediately when I arrive in WA or keep my UT number for a period of time.
All my family and friends have cell phones too, so they’d be able to reach me without long-distance charges. (I think. I guess I shouldn’t make that assumption because I don’t know the details of my friends’ cell plans.) It’d only be work and similar entities who’d have to pay to call me. So keeping the SLC number for a while longer appeals to me.
I wonder if I can have a Mill Creek-area number assigned to me now, while I’m still in Salt Lake?
Then again, I don’t want to cause Cingular’s employees grief, especially since they’re probably AT&T Wireless employees who are still wondering if their jobs will continue beyond the next few months.
So wait I will. And I know how fascinating this little debate has been with myself, hence my need to publish it to the world.
I was invited to a holiday gathering at Red Butte Café in Foothill Village, a strip mall on Foothill Boulevard on the east bench. Red Butte Café is located directly beneath a TGI Friday’s we used to frequent before they stopped with the striped shirts and the buttons and hats and general fun and went serious and all-black and stupid-menu. So we don’t go there anymore, also because the server who knew us so well, Donna, has long since left there too.
But anyway, there were 12 or so in our party at Red Butte and I was the only man. We were all from the hospital, so we knew we all had that in common, but they’d established a “No talking about work!” rule. So we didn’t talk about the hospital at all until about 17 minutes into the event.
I hadn’t been to Red Butte Café in years, since the time my sister and I took our mom there for brunch on Mother’s Day sometime in the 1990s (no idea what year). I had carne asada tacos which were delicious; nearly everyone else had a salad. I had a draft beer; nearly everyone else had dainty little margaritas, with the exception of a glass of wine here and there.
And we all exchanged little gifts. We were required to take a holiday ornament wrapped for exchange, which we did by way of a Fun Holiday Story with characters named RIGHT who did things that LEFT them in certain circumstances blah blah blah. Every time the storyteller said the words RIGHT or LEFT, we’d pass the gifts the indicated direction. The bags and small wrapped packages must have made four or five complete trips around the table before the story ended.
The other restaurant patrons certainly enjoyed the spectacle. I think we scared the hell out of the server.
My ornament is a little frosted acrylic snowman. All I need now is a tree upon which to hang it.
Speaking of trees: My friend Julie Anne’s tree, which is barely six feet tall, has 22 strands of small white lights on it.
I’m pretty sure it’s the lights holding up the tree now, and the ornaments are just kinda floating along with it all.
Note to Red Butte Café: If it takes the server 5 minutes to describe a Pasta Salad of the Day that would take just two minutes to eat, the salad has too many ingredients.
I had to go to Toys R Us a couple days ago to pick up a new Radio Flyer metal wagon for the gift shop. Their previous wagon was stolen by a hospital visitor who told one of the volunteers he was taking the wagon to his truck to carry something and then never returned, the bastard. I imagine this person also steals the money from those little “donate to get Billy a new kidney!” jars at the grocery stores.
But anyway. We’d called the nearest Toys R Annoying store to find out if they carried Radio Flyer items and if so, did they have the classic metal wagon with detachable wood sides to give the wagon greater carrying capacity. The clerk told us they had a few in stock and they were $120, about what we expected based on our previous experience of ordering a few wagons wholesale for the shop, but we needed one now! so the wholesale thing was out the window. So off I went.
The first person with whom I spoke, when I had some difficulty locating the wagons in the bicycles-and-other-ride-on-toys section of Toys R Big Biz, directed me to some plastic knock-off versions of the classic Radio Flyer steel/wood wagon. She also kept pronouncing it “baggins.” When I asked her where the wagons were, she said, “The baggins are back here by the bikes.” Several times, even, so I’m pretty sure she wasn’t just messing with my head. Also she didn’t seem with-it enough to do that.
So then. Eventually I found Oscar, who knew right where the wagons were. He first showed me the $139 “all-terrain” Radio Flyer wagon. They call it “all-terrain” because it has big rubber bouncy wheels and it’s all-wood construction. It’s the SUV of wagons, as it were. I told him we were looking for the steel-and-wood non–off-road model and he first told me they did not have any of those in stock, whereupon he immediately turned around and handed me the little slip of paper you take to the checkouts to buy such larger boxed items. The slip read:
RADIO FLYER TRAV-LER WAGON
$59 / $69 ASSEMBLED
TAKE TICKET TO CASHIER
TO PURCHASE THIS ITEM
And he sent me to the cashier area, where I was immediately rung up (after refusing to give my phone number, which refusal sent the checker into a momentary fit of uncertainty) and directed to wait up to 20 minutes because it turned out the employee who was supposed to be retrieving the larger purchases for customers had just gone home immediately after he’d been given a list of items requiring retrieval, and they were scrambling to figure out how to get the items to the cluster of 4 or 5 customers standing in the waiting area.
They must have figured it out quickly enough because I was only there another five minutes tops. Classic red wagon in hand, I dashed from the store just as a symphony of crying children reached its crescendo, barely drowning out the nursery-rhyme songs and Happy Christmas Music blaring over the store’s public-address system.
Somehow I managed to finish that day without a headache.
Yesterday was the hospital’s annual bazaar to support their Employee Assistance Fund, which provides financial assistance to employees who experience hardships (deaths, job losses, etc.). The bazaar ran from 08:00 to 13:00 in the main lobby and included some really nice handcrafted afghans and blankets which were sold by silent auction—amazing to me how many times I had to explain to people how a silent auction works—as well as some other more run-of-the-mill Christmas decorations and the like that were sold based on a marked price.
There was also a selection of baked goods, some of which looked utterly delicious. I find it amusing that foods can look like they taste good, it’s always been one of those sensory cross-overs I’ve wondered about. Anyway, the baked items were sold on a donation basis, people made what seemed like reasonable donations and we weighed those donations against our own ideas of reasonableness and either accepted and handed over the item or smacked the buyer about the head and neck while pointing and chuckling to induce shame.
I tried one of the cinnamon crumble muffins that were available and it was pretty tasty, but the bundt cakes and other items sold too quickly for me to make a donation offer on them.
But I’m a bit ahead of myself here.
We arrived at the hospital at 06:30 to set up tables and arrange the items and all that fun stuff. By 07:30 we had a crowd of excited hospital workers and a smaller crowd of visitors. They were all pawing through the items and shouting out price offers and we had to send them away because we didn’t have any money to make change yet. Nowhere near a riot but by the looks in their eyes, I could tell we’d have to be ready to go IMMEDIATELY!!! at 08:00 or we’d be overrun by herds of bargain-hunters.
By the end of the bazaar, we’d topped the $1,000 mark, and that didn’t include the silent-auction items. We collected on many of those in the afternoon, but a few people were out of their offices (or the visitors who’d won the bids were gone home already), but based on the general numbers of the bids, I think the fund will receive around $1,600 or $1,700 total. Good haul for a five-hour effort.
In the middle of all this, the gift-shop volunteers had a couple of “I’ve forgotten everything!” meltdowns, so I was rushing from the lobby to the shop at about 40-minute intervals to help things move along. And we were taking credit cards at the bazaar by ringing them up in the shop and then transfering the funds over, so that helped with the bazaar haul but also caused some confusion as we tried to figure out how to ring up non–bar-coded items when we also didn’t want to put them in the shop’s inventory.
There was also a hot-dog eating contest, another EAF fund-raiser with sponsors paying a per-hot-dog donation for the participants’ efforts. The winner, who managed to snork down 12 (or maybe 13, I didn’t see it first-hand) dogs in 10 minutes, dunked his hot dogs (with buns) in water to soften them up and then gulped ’em down. The second-place finisher used a blender to make an Oscar Mayer Frappe and then drank the whole mess, but after the contest he ended up puking for several minutes. They raised a few hundred more dollars and got the glory of their success, but no prizes, for their efforts.
I spent the last part of the afternoon putting together the Radio Flyer wagon from the previous day’s Toys R Maddening experience. The assembly went pretty well, and the instructions, as much as I needed them, were actually very easy to follow. I was expecting some sort of written-by-Japanese-translated-to-English-by-Germans type of thing, but it was all pictures. Reminded me of the picture menus some restaurants use for the kids, or of the instructions that accompany LEGO toys, minus the pretty colors.
Today’s laundry day, and we’re taking Julie Anne, the amazingly helpful hospital marketing worker who agreed to be the on-call person for the gift shop while we were in Seattle, to Squatters tonight to thank her for the trouble we inflicted upon her. If we play our cards right, we might even be able to make her forget about all of it, the better to ask her to do it again in the future.
Amazing to me that we live in a time when I can have breakfast in Woodinville, WA, and be home for lunch in Salt Lake City.
We wondered if we’d make it, however, because of some odd events right after we boarded our 09:30 flight at SEA.
First, the auxiliary power unit they use to blow air over the jet engines wasn’t working, so they were trying to find the equipment they’d need to start the engines externally once we’d pushed back from the gate. But after a quick round of maintenance, they managed to get things working again, so we pushed back only about 10 minutes later than expected.
Then as we rolled slowly backward, there was this terrific CLANGcrashcrunch sound and the entire plane jolted first up, then sideways, and then jostled for about 5 more seconds before coming to a quick halt. We all looked out the windows to see what truck or other plane or whatever we’d hit, but we couldn't see a thing.
Pilot was on the PA system in no time informing us the noise and jostling were caused by a sudden break of the tow-bar attaching our plane’s nose gear to the tug truck that was pushing us back from the gate. The ground crew was scrambling to find another tow-bar after determining the break hadn’t damaged our plane (thank God!), so we were delayed another five minutes or so.
Finally we pushed back, they fired up the engines (I love MD-90s with their rear-mounted engines; in first class, we heard almost no engine noise at all), and we taxied to the runway for take-off. We were second in line by the time we arrived and we clawed our way into the air after only a few more minutes for what we all hoped would be an uneventful flight.
And it was, until we began the descent to SLC, when we hit rough air and jostled and rattled our way down from about 10,000 feet. One of the few times I’ve heard a pilot instruct the flight attendants to take their seats too, which didn’t faze me much but I was worried about my mom’s coffee spilling everywhere, so my reaction was to grip the cup and keep it pinned to the console between us while I fired up my iPod for a few more tunes before I had to stow my backpack again for landing.
We beat the snow in Salt Lake City by an hour or so. From the weather forecasts I’d seen in Seattle, I’d expected snow on the valley floor, but there was none yet. Cloudy, of course, and the storm was obviously blowing in from over the Great Salt Lake. I got home about 13:15 and the snow began 14:15ish.
We’ll be spending the Christmas holiday here in Salt Lake and I’ll be relocating to Mill Creek, WA, in the first week or so of the new year.
Time to call some moving companies for estimates.
Inventory, UPC/SKU/description/price files from suppliers, 10-key data entry from hell:
All of these add up to a few days' work to get the gift shop ready for the point-of-sale registers we'll be installing in the next couple of weeks.
We also have to teach the volunteers how to use the system, which will make their jobs easier (and their work more accurate) in the long run, but which will scare the shit out of them in the short run. I'd say that with one or two exceptions, all of the volunteers who staff the shop (shops, in fact; there's a small satellite shop in the Women's Pavilion) are 60 or over, and what computer experience they have is mostly from being near the registers at the grocery-store checkout counters.
Off I go then to the storeroom to catalog the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas items.
Nearly 13 years old, the purebred yellow Lab had the trouble with his hindquarters that’s so common among older dogs of that breed. He had developed muscle and nerve problems over a few years and had experienced some ups and downs in the last few months.
Jake lived at my mom’s house. He was a gift to my sister Katharine and me at Christmas 1991. He was a couple months old when we got him, wrapped in a huge red ribbon with that adorable puppy “What the hell?” expression as he saw everything for the first time. He house-trained pretty easily, as I remember—but then things of that type we all manage to gloss over because, hey, who dwells on the wet newspapers and mad dashes to the back yard when the pup gives a little whimper?
Jake was our dog at first. Katharine and I looked forward to getting home from school or work so we could run around the back yard, take him for a walk, teach him to sit or stay, just watch him grow into his ears and paws and into the world around him.
Jake lounging in the living roomBut within a couple of years both Katharine and I had moved out of the house, and Jake became Mom’s dog. He knew all of us, of course—he was true to the sobriquet “man’s best friend” to the very end—but he was Mom’s shadow, knew her moods and her routine, waited anxiously for her at the door each afternoon. He was leash-trained but didn’t need one for walks... though at times it would’ve been nice not to have to chase him across the neighborhood when he’d wander away from the front of the house when we were mowing the lawn or checking the mail or just standing on the porch.
In the last few months as Jake had more trouble moving about, he also stopped eating regularly, and Mom knew his time was approaching. She scheduled a veterinary appointment for Wednesday afternoon and left work at midday to spend those last few hours with Jake at home.
Then she drove with Jake to the vet’s office and stayed with him to the last. Instead of the cold stainless steel of an examination table, they had an area set aside with a comfortable blanket. They had to weigh Jake to make sure they had the dosages correct so he wouldn’t be hurt. He weighed a little over 70 pounds, well off his peak of just over 100 pounds in his prime.
The veterinarians described the procedure to Mom, telling her there might be muscle twitches for some time after Jake’s heart had stopped and his brain function ceased.
Jake and Sam on the back-yard patioJake didn’t react that way, however, and it was very quick.
I talked to Mom tonight. She’s unbelievably sad—but sad is a wholly inappropriate word, does absolutely no justice to the magnitude of her emotion. She made a difficult and necessary decision at the right time, which does absolutely nothing to lessen the pain. Makes it worse, in fact, in many ways.
I had no comforting words for her on the phone 30 minutes ago and I have none now. We had a good many years with Jake. I’m sure he knew the joy he brought into our lives too.
Strange how the end of a life so well lived brings with it such deep sadness.
Flickr: Don NunnAt today's No More Homeless Pets in Utah adopt-a-thon near the PETsMART on 300 W and 1800 S—which I found out about by way of a flyer in the basement of Squatters when I was there for dinner last night—I came across a pair of cats that immediately caught my eye.
The four-month-old female tabby joined me at home tonight. The eight-month-old male, an all-black cat named "Magic" by the shelter folks, is spending the night in their "Big Fix" mobile neuter lab. I pick him up tomorrow afternon.
Black cat attack
Flickr: Don NunnThe tabby spent the first hour or so darting about the house, sniffing in corners (and unearthing long-forgotten dust bunnies, aaiieeee) and nosing into cabinets and knocking books off shelves and pots and pans off the kitchen counter. She decided it was time to be loved, and spent an hour jamming her face into my nose, my eyes, my ears, my neck, and so on, and then she settled on my lap and began the kneading. She's a crawly kneader—in the next half-hour, she'd managed to knead her way up my left arm, around the back of my neck, and down my right arm back to my lap. Then she was hungry and needed a drink of water, and it was time for a nap.
Right now she's zonked out on the sofa behind me, curled ecstatically over the electric-green MOGU pillow thing I got for Christmas from Katharine.
Now I just have to figure out names and get them actually to answer to those names.
Copyright 2004 Deseret Morning News
OREM—It was the Thursday after Lori Hacking was reported missing and Thelma Soares, Lori's mother, had gone to the hospital to see her son-in-law, Mark.
At the time it seemed that Mark Hacking had collapsed with grief over the disappearance of his newly pregnant wife. He was undergoing psychological testing at the University of Utah Medical Center and had been incoherent when Soares first visited two days before.
Miles away, volunteers were combing the hillsides above City Creek Canyon and nearby neighborhoods looking for any trace of Lori, the girl with the wide smile and the cascade of curly brown hair.
But a day earlier, police had revealed that Mark Hacking had lied about his plans to attend medical school in North Carolina, and there was growing suspicion about whether his pretty wife would be found.
Mark was standing with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders when Soares entered the room.
"I hugged him and said, 'Marky, didn't you know my love was not conditional on your becoming a doctor? It was because of you, Mark, and how you treated Lori,'" Soares said in an interview with the Deseret Morning News. "And he kind of sobbed ... and he looked me straight in the eye and said, "I promise, I promise I had nothing to do with it.'
"I desperately wanted to believe him," Soares goes on. "But I didn't. I had this uneasy feeling. I did desperately want to, because I love him ... , but I just knew he wasn't telling the truth."
'A sweet baby'
Lori became Soares' adoptive daughter on April 21, 1977. The wait for Lori was at least two years. Soares can't remember exactly but said that she and her then-husband, Eraldo Soares, had first inquired about the adoption when their first child, Paul, who is also adopted, was about 4. Paul was 7 when Lori came home.
"I can't remember who picked her up first; it was probably me," Soares said. "She was such a sweet baby. She had this hair from the beginning. It was dark and curly and grew really fast. When we'd walk in the mall with her everyone would say they had to stop and look at the baby with all the hair. Finally I had to cut it because it was too thick and too curly, even to part it, and she cried."
Soares still has remnants of that first haircut, a long brown braid in an envelope that bears Lori's name.
In fact, Soares has safeguarded many keepsakes from her daughter's life. Lori's pictures, awards, dolls and other mementos were on display Saturday at the memorial service for the former stockbroker's assistant, held at the Windsor LDS Stake Center in Orem. In one corner were her tiny brown rocking chair, stuffed animals and childhood books, in the other her beaded wedding dress.
Lori Hacking is believed to have been killed July 19 while asleep in the Salt Lake apartment she shared with her husband.
Prosecutors have charged Mark Hacking with first-degree murder in connection with his wife's death. In an alleged confession to his older brothers, Mark Hacking said he shot his wife with a .22-caliber rifle and then abandoned her body in a Dumpster, the contents of which were taken to the Salt Lake County landfill. Her body has not been found.
"She's on the cover. She's on the latest edition of People magazine, sister," Thelma Soares is saying to the woman on the other end of the telephone as she shakes her head and breaks into tears. "Lori's picture is on the cover."
The words sound like both a statement and a question.
'The Mark I know'
At the moment, Soares says, she has many questions.
"The best news I could get is that (Mark) has a brain tumor or brain injury or something that would make him do this. I'm just really speechless; I have no way to explain it," she said: "Unless he's this evil guy. ... He was helpful. A generous spirit. He seemed to care about people. He came and put all of my Christmas lights up every year. This is the Mark that I know, not this Mark who killed her and did this horrible thing."
The Mark Hacking who started buzzing around Lori Soares in high school was always a big teddy bear of a guy. He'd bang on the front door each time he'd call for Lori. On her birthday one year, Mark and another friend filled Lori's bedroom with balloons and silly string.
He was a polite boy from a good family who once wrote Soares a note that read: "If I didn't have my own mother, I'd choose you to be my mother."
"Maybe he was schmoozing because he wanted Lori," Soares ponders. "But maybe not."
The coffee table in the living room of Soares' Orem home is covered with sympathy cards and vases of flowers. Outside, the tan siding is dotted with yellow ribbons tied in bows. On the front door, a polite note reads, "Thelma is resting," and begs the visitor to respect the 66-year-old woman's privacy.
Soares is grieving but somehow seems calm as she pads around house in her bare feet, her toenails painted bright pink.
When she speaks of Lori, she glows.
"We kept an orthodontist in business for several years. She was beautiful," Soares says and then begins to tick off the list of Lori's accomplishments.
An award from a kindergarten teacher for best bookmark. In sixth grade, Lori's first full school year in Utah after her parents divorced and she and Thelma moved here from Fullerton, Calif., she was a finalist for the Hope of America award. She was also elected president of her ninth-grade class.
Lori excelled in other arenas as well. She played piano and took ballet lessons. She loved to swim and Rollerblade. She took up running later after marrying Mark, Soares said.
From an early age, Lori had plenty of determination and specific goals. For a while, she even set her sights on attending Stanford University.
"She couldn't understand why anybody wouldn't want to go to college. That was always part of her plan," Soares said. "She said, 'I want to be independent like you are so that if anything happens I'll be able to take care of myself.'"
Weber State University was Lori's first collegiate destination, but after a year, she transferred to the University of Utah, Soares said.
'Web of lies'
There were plenty of young men to choose from, but Lori seemed to have her heart set on Mark, whom she had met on a high school trip to Lake Powell. From the first she said she was comfortable with Mark. They could talk about anything.
Married on Aug. 7, 1999, Lori and Mark seemed like the happiest of couples, Soares said. They supported each other's interests, alternately going to the Broadway-type theater productions Lori enjoyed and taking camping trips in Utah's wilderness, which was Mark's love.
"They did that in their marriage," Soares said, adding that Mark was the more demonstrative of the two, but that the couple was affectionate. "It wasn't perfect, you know, and maybe sometimes she would be the one to raise her voice, but she loved him. If ever there was anything that I would wonder about Mark, she would defend him."
If Lori had ever learned about Mark's now well-known deceptions or failures—like his LDS mission that was cut short, or the lies about his college graduation and medical school acceptance—she never let on, Soares said. She believes her daughter would have been devastated by such lies.
"I don't think Lori ever told a lie in her life," Soares said.
But it seems Mark Hacking told more than a few, the extent of which might not yet be known. Court documents released Friday show police are looking at cell phone, computer and bank records in trying to establish a case, all of which could lead to new information and insights.
"This elaborate web of lies, that takes a lot of thinking to do that. It wasn't that he lacked the intellect, he was always very smart," Soares said, adding that she wonders if Mark's actions might be traced to a fall he took from a roof about eight years ago while working a construction job. Mark, she said, apparently hit his head on a cement floor during the fall.
"As I sit here trying to make some semblance of sense of this, it's the only thing I could come up with," Soares said. "It's hard for me to believe that he's this evil because the Mark I know is just the opposite of that. All of my interaction and experience with him says it's not so. He's this sweet, gentle, quiet, funny guy."
'I do want justice'
Still, Thelma Soares is angry.
"I am angry at what he did to her, and that he left her to rot in this terrible place," she said. "And you know, there are moments when I just want to tear his heart out with my bare hands, but what good would it do?"
That prosecutors didn't charge Mark with a capital crime is all right with Soares.
"I don't want to be the person that sends him to the death chamber," she said. "I do want justice. He needs to pay for what he did to Lori. If that means a life sentence, that's fine with me."
No one should ever think that Mark's actions have divided Soares and any other member of the Hacking family, she is quick to add. The families have remained close in the weeks since Lori disappeared, and Mark's father, Douglas Hacking, said the opening prayer at Lori's memorial service Saturday.
With Mark's future in the hands of the judicial system—a court hearing is scheduled for Monday—Soares is filled with compassion for his parents, Douglas and Janet.
"As anguished and heartbroken as I am about Lori, I think they are facing a more difficult future than I am, because he's their son. You can't turn your love off and on like a faucet," Soares said. "I'm sure the Hackings would give their life for Mark. He's their child, and they still love him."
Soares is finding comfort in her religious convictions and says she is certain that Lori is at peace. She also hopes that time in prison might give Mark time to repent his crimes.
"In my way of belief, what he did was about as bad as it gets. He took two lives, and if he doesn't repent of this then his eternal future looks pretty bleak," said Soares. "I hope that isn't the case because there is good in Mark. Somewhere down in there, there's this person that I knew and and have known and loved like a son.
"There's man's law and there's God's law, and those are quite often two different things," she adds. "I have no doubt in my mind and in my heart that he will receive the judgment from God that he deserves."
I'm past the point of offering any commentary on the articles related to this case. My main purpose is to have an archive of the content separate from its original source; many of the newspapers' archives require paid access for anything older than 30 days, so this site will function as a free-access archive for at least excerpts of the stories.
Another first-time go for one of these.
Before I moved to Seattle, I worked for a company that was based in the Chicago area. I traveled to Chicago a couple times per year on business, and on one of those trips I happened across Taylor Brewing Company in Lombard. It had the distinct advantage of being located on Butterfield Road, which was my regular route between the office and the hotel where I usually stayed. And it was a brewpub, so of course I had to stop there.
They make a good Raspberry Wheat. Was the first time I'd tasted a beer that had a distinct fruit-flavor component to it, and this was a pleasant and very drinkable beer with an alcohol content low enough that I could sip several over a period of hours while I was working on budgets and such (which of course I did all the time, yeah... right) and not get completely smashed.
Ever since then I've had an affinity for fruit beers, but I haven't encountered many that were worth much of anything beyond a sip or two. Until I moved to Seattle in 2002, that is, and first found McMenamins and their Ruby Ale, and then Henry Weinhard's Blackberry Wheat.
McMenamins' Ruby is another relatively low-alcohol brew, 3.3% by volume, so more than anything else it's thirst-quenching. Weinhard's Blackberry Wheat is a bottled beer—although I probably should say "was," since I haven't been able to find it in Seattle or Salt Lake since before Christmas, and from a couple of message-board postings I've found, it appears they've stopped brewing it entirely.
So I was pleased when I came across Widmer Bros.' Widberry, a 4.6% black-raspberry beer that sounds pretty good from the description. I doubt I'll be able to find it around here, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for it when I'm in the Seattle area.
Anyone tried Widberry and care to give me a review of it? I'd appreciate knowing how it's regarded.
I was fiddling around and created a smart playlist to match any of various color words (blue, red, green, gold, black, yellow, white, etc.) in the artist name, song name, or album name.
It matched up just 200 songs out of my library of 7100+.
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.The first 15 tunes at random from my library of 5643.
UPDATE 04/27/04: I'm no longer living in the Seattle area, so I haven't had any direct experience with Saturn of Lynnwood in several months now. I note this because I see my site is still appearing relatively high in many Google searches for terms such as saturn of lynnwood. My unsatisfactory experiences with their service department occurred between 2002 and late 2003, nothing more recently than that.
UPDATE 01/14/05: I'm back in the Seattle area but haven't been to any of the Saturn dealerships this time around. When I've had an appointment, I may make another update.
UPDATE 03/10/05: See details of my most recent Saturn of Lynnwood experience—a good one this time.
In a 12/24/03 post, I ranted—admittedly, ranted lamely—about Saturn of Lynnwood's difficulty in making call-backs to customers whose cars are in for service or awaiting parts or whatever. A few days later I noticed via my hit stats that this post was appearing regularly among visitors' results for searches on the phrase saturn of lynnwood. In fact, at the time of this entry, my previous post appears among the top five results returned by searches at Google and Yahoo!.
Last night I received a call from the Saturn of Lynnwood service department. My 2002 L200 is there this week while I'm out of town. The car needed a part for the drainage system that prevents water damage around the windshield and sunroof, and the part finally arrived last week after the initial service appointment on Christmas Eve when they determined they'd need this part.
So I dropped off the car Monday night and flew to Chicago Tuesday morning. I'd spoken with another service person, let her know I'd be back in town Sun 01/25 and would need to pick up the car that afternoon, figuring they'd do the work at some point during the week but not caring exactly when it happened since I wouldn't be using it. Thus when my regular "service consultant"—I think his name may be John; I've not paid attention closely enough for the name to stick in my mind—called me last night, I was surprised.
He told me they'd put in the part and done two days of drainage testing with fantastic results, and the car was ready for me to pick up at my earliest convenience. And then he shifted gears.
My sister and I got together this morning to exchange gifts and spend a couple hours on the phone with our mom in Salt Lake City, and then the two of us spent the remainder of the day at some friends' in Fox Island, eating a lot and drinking some too.
This friend of ours is a maniac in the kitchen. A damned fine cook, and she loves to do it. She prepared a turkey and prime rib, along with the usual side dishes. I think she managed to get every single cooking utensil dirty three or four times over.
Got home about 22:30 and now about to hit the sack since I have to work tomorrow. Should be a fairly quiet day at the lab, since most of our clients are closed. Probably only be sending out results to our clients whose projects are due tomorrow, since we don't consider the day after Christmas a non-business day.
CNN.com lists under its MORE TOP STORIES heading the death of one of Queen Elizabeth II's corgis at the jaws of an English bull terrier belonging to her daughter, Princess Anne.
A pall cast over the Christmas holiday.
LONDON—Are there ghostly goings-on at Henry VIII's palace, or is that hazy image of a fellow in fancy robes just a bit of Christmas cheer?
Closed-circuit security cameras at Hampton Court Palace, the huge Tudor castle outside London, seem to have snagged an ethereal visitor. Could it be a ghost?
"We're baffled too—it's not a joke, we haven't manufactured it," said Vikki Wood, a Hampton Court spokeswoman, when asked if the photo the palace released was a Christmas hoax. "We genuinely don't know who it is or what it is."
Wood said security guards had seen the figure in closed-circuit television footage after checking it to see who kept leaving open one of the palace's fire doors.
In the still photograph, the figure of a man in a robelike garment is shown stepping from the shadowy doorway, one arm reaching out for the door handle.
The area around the man is somewhat blurred, and his face appears unnaturally white compared with his outstretched hand.
"It was incredibly spooky because the face just didn't look human," said James Faukes, one of the palace security guards.
14 days to Christmas, and none of my family has travel plans yet. My sister and I traveled to Salt Lake City for Thanksgiving, and my sister can't take any more time off work this year. As well, my mom's gift shop gets progressively more insane as the holiday approaches, and time off is difficult for her around this part of the year.
Maybe I'll fly down to SLC for a couple of days around Christmas. I should check flights leaving on 12/24 and returning 12/27, so I'd have the Sunday back here to get into the groove of things before work 12/28.
Off to Delta....
Went into a Bartell Drugs tonight for the first time in my life. Came away vastly unimpressed, not only because of their ubiquitous radio advertisements but because of friends who've recommended Bartell stores for service and speed, in addition to good prices.
Ever since I moved here in March 2002, I've heard ads on the radio for Bartell's, using just-folks "real customer" sound bites of people raving about the Bartell Drugs shopping experience: Good prices, friendly and efficient clerks, locations close by, faboo weekly specials, blah blah blah.
Tonight I was at a Tully's in Bella Botega, a shopping area in the 8800 block of 161st Ave NE in Redmond. There's a Bartell Drugs right next door to Tully's, and I thought, what the hell, I needed shaving cream and some other sundries, so in I went.
Christmas-tree lots already appearing...!
A DONNA'S TREES lot appeared overnight at the intersection of SRs 527 and 524 in Bothell. It wasn't there when I drove home at 22:00 yesterday, but was fully set up (with fences, lights, the trailer for the office, etc.) when I drove by a couple hours ago.
I think there oughta be a law about Christmas stuff in general. Nothing allowed until the day after Thanksgiving at the earliest, and in fact Dec 1 oughta be the cut-off under penalty of death.
Capital One just had an advertisement for their mileage-accumulation card, themed to Santa's arrival on Christmas Eve. The family steals the sleigh to get around blackouts imposed by their airline mileage program.
It's only the ides of October, for crying out loud!
Found out a couple of hours ago that my cousin Tammy died sometime in the past couple of days. She was 32, 6 months older than I.
She was on my dad’s side of the family. We didn’t spend much time around his brothers or sister and their assorted children; we were by no means close. We all lived in the Salt Lake area until the last few years, but we never saw them save for an every-few-years get-together on Independence Day or the occasional wedding or similar Big Event.
The last time we saw them all was Christmas 2000, a family dinner at some cheapo Italian restaurant. (In the loosest possible sense of the term; the spaghetti sauce was red, but it may have been watered-down ketchup.) My sister and I were struck by how vastly different our lives were than theirs, how we fit it not even a bit, and we left with some relief.
Tammy had been experiencing health problems for years, both physical and mental. She had never taken her doctors’ advice or treatment plans as seriously as she should, however, and it claimed her life. Now, a member of my family close to me in age has died, and all I feel is the remnants of a sense of foreboding that’s now found its resolution.
Rest well, Tammy. I hope you can find in death the peace and comfort you missed in life.
I actually broke out the long-sleeve shirts today, which means my mind's slowly turning toward recognition that the seasons march on. It's 48° on my patio right now, raining slightly, and I'm remembering again why I like this part of the year so much: Cool nights and mornings, warm afternoons, the fall foliage and the endless sights and sounds of autumn, Hallowe'en, the trek toward the holiday season.
Soon it'll be time to drag the Christmas music out of storage. (Which means simply putting checkmarks in the box next to each song in iTunes....)