After the jump, lists of the custom “available” and “away” status messages I used in iChat in 2007.
They made it easier to extract this info from iChat in Leopard. You can now choose “Edit Status Menu” from iChat’s buddy-list window, select the item(s) you want from the list(s), and use the Copy command to get a comma-separated text list. Only problem for me is I use commas in some of my statuses, so it’s not a simple search-and-replace function to get the list into a usable format, but it sure beats having to fire up Property List Editor and extract the list that way. Minor trade-offs, I suppose.
On the bandwagon of the “year in review” posts everyone seems to adore this time of year, I hereby present the full listing of status messages I used in iChat in 2006, in the order I originally entered them.
I like this time of year specifically because it’s so easy to fill dead air. :-)
Without further delay. . . .
Katharine and I are enjoying the holiday at our friend Julie Anne’s house. A few other friends will be joining us later in the day, but right now we’re caffeinating over the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on NBC.
I’d forgotten how weird these parades are, with the big staged musical numbers and the too-smiley performers and the network shilling its shows.
I broke the coffeemaker last night, so we’ve fallen back to Julie Anne’s espresso maker for our caffeine needs, and Martin Short is being funny (allegedly) as he narrates the parade-route presentation.
I remember now why I haven’t watched this parade since I was a kid!
:: • :: • :: • :: • ::
Happy holidays, everyone. May you enjoy the warmth of the season, the love of family and friends, and the joy of successes past and possibilities ahead.
The Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau unveiled their newest marketing campaign, an effort aimed at encouraging continued tourism in Seattle’s non-peak season.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Seattle’s cold-weather tourism is heating up
Luring visitors to rain-swept city? Try conventions and a brand-new word
By ANDREA JAMES
The clouds are rolling in, and the cruise ships are sailing out on their final voyages for the season. Ticket lines dwindle at the Space Needle just as foot traffic tapers off at Pike Place Market.
It’s the end of Seattle’s peak tourism season and the beginning of an annual challenge for the city’s marketing gurus: how to break through the national perception that this is a rain-drenched outpost and get people, and their money, to visit.
“Winter tourism is sort of interesting because locals think, ‘Why would anyone come to Seattle?’” said Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesman David Blandford. “But they do.”
Even as the weather changes, new hotels are popping up all over downtown, and room bookings are setting records.
In fact, officials plan to announce today a new marketing campaign that will serve as Seattle’s image to the world, bureau President and Chief Executive Don Welsh said Thursday. It took about a year to develop and cost $200,000, he said.
The bureau will spend $300,000 promoting the brand, which includes a newly invented word—“metronatural”—and the concept of a metropolis juxtaposed against natural beauty, Welsh said.
The trademarked word will replace the current logo designed in 1999, which features an eyeball, the @ symbol and the letter L. (See-@-L.)
In the gray months, Portlanders and Vancouverites stay overnight to see the opera, cheer on some football and holiday shop. But even those vacationers aren’t enough to close the seasonal tourism gap.
Instead, the city fills its hotels in autumn by selling conventions and marketing the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, a hulking state-owned building on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Pike Street.
Since it was built using public bond money in 1988, the convention center has grown to become one of Seattle’s tourism staples, last year contributing $13.5 million in revenue to the state. In 2005, the center’s 507 events drew almost 400,000 attendees.
That’s why the biggest portion of the tourism bureau’s $8.2 million operating budget is spent selling meetings and conventions. It’s not that tourists aren’t welcome, say officials, it’s just that business travelers and convention delegates spend more—about $640 per trip, compared with the average tourist’s $474.
The tourism bureau’s job is to sell the city to meeting planners and tourists. It holds contracts with the city of Seattle, the Port of Seattle and about 1,000 dues-paying businesses, including hotels, airlines, cruise lines and attractions.
“We operate very much as a business because tourism is a very competitive one,” Blandford said.
Differentiation is key, he said. Seattle’s convention center promises that delegates can be in lectures by day and on ski hills by night, boasts a chef that hails from the Four Seasons and puts visitors steps away from shopping and restaurants.
Conventioneers also get a discount—hotel room rates fall 15 percent to 25 percent in the fall and winter, according to the Seattle Hotel Association.
All that, with some help from positive national press clippings and the cruise ships, helped King County post a record 9.1 million overnight visitors in 2005.
Tourism is a $12.4 billion industry in Washington—which puts it on par with aerospace, software and wood products in terms of its contribution to the gross state product, according to state research. King County is the state’s travel engine, accounting for more than half of the total spending and room sales collection, according to the state tourism office.
Seattle covets conventions that will fill 1,000 hotel rooms. Downtown has 6,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center, according to the bureau.
Just about every U.S. city has a convention center. . The tourism bureau employs two people in Washington, D.C., to push Seattle to the 20,000 associations located in and around the Capital Beltway. A third marketer works full time in Chicago to cater to the 9,000 associations based there, Welsh said.
Seattle’s advantage over big-time convention cities, such as Chicago, is the lack of bitter cold.
“We have a bit of a challenge in convincing meeting planners that that’s the way it is,” Blandford said. “People mistakenly believe it’s snowy, too. It’s satisfying to say, ‘No, it doesn’t snow in the city.’”
About one-third of the conventions are health care related, according to Michael McQuade, the convention center’s director of sales and marketing. As medical associations become more specific—recent conventions included the American Association of Blood Banks and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons—more delegates will be heading to Seattle, he said.
Other conventions vary—ranging from international trade groups to professional societies to niche groups such as the Brewers Association, which held its beer conference in Seattle in April.
Convention season peaks from now until Thanksgiving and picks up again in spring, according to the bureau.
The winter holidays always have softer demand and more vacancies. To combat that, hotels turn to rate cuts and packages. For example, The Westin Seattle offers a $3,000 Seahawks package that includes a limo ride to the game and high-end tailgate food, said Elisabeth James, general manager of the city’s largest hotel.
Also, hoteliers change their marketing philosophy to promote holiday shopping and eco-tourism, rather than spectacular views, said Karl Kruger, president of the Seattle Hotel Association.
“The one thing that we need to work on as a destination is to create an event which will highlight our city in the shoulder and low periods,” he said. “Perhaps a festival in January, maybe an art fair in November. There needs to be some attraction where we can market ourselves to our 500-mile radius.”
The tourism bureau also plans a campaign to encourage people who live elsewhere in the Puget Sound region to come into the city to see the attractions.
People like Tukwila resident Kathleen Davis-Wright, 63, who wandered in the rain outside the Space Needle this week after viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit.
“I’m doing Christmas shopping,” she said, holding up a key chain souvenir marked at 30 percent off. “It’s fun to go to the different places. Little rain drops won’t hurt anybody.”
Katharine and I ventured south to the Portland area for the holiday. We drove down Thursday morning, left Bothell at 09:10, and ran into a few slowdowns south of Olympia and just before Chehalis. Didn’t cut much into our travel time, however, because we stuck to the slow lane and moved through the slow areas at 40-50 mph while the left-lane wonks repeatedly sped up and slammed on their brakes.
And we were fortunate with weather. A little fog at the start but otherwise only clouds and maybe 25 drops of rain.
We arrived at Michelle and Shannae’s townhouse at 12:45, a little earlier than I expected after the slowdowns. They pressed intoxicants on us immediately—I hadn’t had a mimosa in, what, I don’t even know how long, but years anyway—and we watched the Broncos-Cowboys game while we played Go Fish with Shannae’s son Austin, who at 7 years old has that absolute adoration of simple card games which we can all remember from our own childhoods but which annoys us a bit as adults. I hadn’t played Go Fish in long enough that I had to get a rules refresher from Austin, and it was delivered in the typically breathlessly excited way of all kids when they tell a story faster than their minds can track their tongues.
We’d been there about an hour when it occurred to me that I’d seen absolutely no signs of cooking when we arrived. There were no scents wafting about and the kitchen was immaculate, no dishes or pots and pans scattered everywhere, everything was absolutely in order. I knew we were having the holiday meal around 16:00, or so Katharine had said Michelle told her, but in that moment I wondered if perhaps we were in the right time zone.
Turns out Shannae had started the turkey roasting at 08:30 or thereabouts and everything was well under control, and my nose just doesn’t work, because they were all saying how good everything smelled and I was sniffing the air like a woodchuck, wondering WTF was going on.
That’s when Shannae opened the oven to baste the turkey and BAM there was the wave of smells that’s so comforting around the holiday season.
So shortly after the Cowboys lost in overtime and the fitful rain had begun, the dinner hour approached, and we took our seats around a fully decked-out table. I had my camera with me and didn’t take on photos, stupidly, so I can only describe the perfectly arranged table and the flavors and sights we were to enjoy.
The turkey was delicious, moist and flavorful and done just so, and it was accompanied by the usual spread: Mashed potatoes (delish!), stuffing (yum!), gravy, white and yellow corn, rolls, cranberry sauce with the correct ridges. Michelle’s uncle Donald spoke a brief prayer of thanks and off we went.
I’d chosen a Pinot Gris for the wine drinkers (me, Michelle, Shannae). Of course I don’t remember the vineyard right now, and I can’t find the receipt from the grocery store a few days ago, so I’ll have to recall it later. It was a Northwest wine, however, and went well with the vast mixture of flavors of the day.
But anyway. After dinner came Poker Night, with a lot of Texas Hold’em and a little five-card draw and a lot more wine consumption. The imbibing was pretty slow, in fact; it was the fact that from 13:00 onward I only had alcohol that left me thinking I was going to wake up deathly hungover Friday.
I dodged that bullet, however. I was so pleased. I was absolutely dehydrated, of course, and the cup of coffee certainly didn’t help that, nor did the hot shower. But the pancakes and sausage were absolutely the best meal to assuage what mild symptoms I was experiencing.
We spent the day in Full Relaxation Mode. Katharine’s still getting over a chest cold, so when we headed home at about 16:30, it was mainly so she could rest for the weekend before a new work week. Of course as soon as I stood up to gather my stuff, the rain started coming down by buckets. We drove home in significantly worse weather but the roads were dry again by the time we got to Chehalis.
All in all, an uneventful drive, just the way I like them. A great way to close out a relaxing and fun trip to visit friends for the holiday.
From an instant-message exchange a short time ago, because I don’t think I could say it any better now:
David: What are you thankful for?
Don: My oldest friends, offline and on, who have supported me in ways I could not and should never have expected over the last 15 years. And my newest friends, who surprise and delight me in ways I never would have imagined were possible.
David: Cheers to that. :-)
Don: I have been blessed beyond all men that way.
May the best of this holiday season find you now and follow you through the coming year.
One thing I like about the holidays is the absolute lack of concrete demands on my time.
Katharine and I are driving to Portland tomorrow to spend the holiday with our friends Michelle and Shannae and their family. We’re planning to leave the Seattle area at 09:00, which is fine as a general idea but is in no way an absolutely required make-or-break deadline. We chose 09:00 because, barring insane traffic, we’d arrive in the Portland at 12:30 or so, which would give us a few hours of hanging-out time before the big holiday meal in the later afternoon. But if we arrive earlier or later, no big deal.
Tonight, after I had left work and returned home for a bit and driven into Seattle to drop off a loaf pan and camera for Julie Anne, I was making my way north along I-5 toward home and the one load of laundry waiting for me (so I’d have the clothes I want to wear this weekend), and I decided the hell with it, the laundry could sit in the washing machine for a while—I wanna imbibe.
So I stopped at McMenamins Mill Creek and had a few pints and enjoyed the company of strangers while I finished The Belgariad, Vol. 2 and read through the recent issue of Seattle Weekly and talked some more and otherwise had a fine time, ignoring the fact that I probably should wake up at 07:00 tomorrow to make sure I’m showered and shaved and packed and the Escape is ready and I pick up Katharine on time and blah blah blah.
I like the lack of deadlines around the holidays.
Our air-stagnation advisory is still set to expire Wednesday 16:00. They say a front will move through the area Thanksgiving Day, breaking the temperature inversion’s hold on the area and clearing out the fog and gunk that are slowly accumulating.
Last night the fog was thick enough on my way home that I couldn’t see cars more than about a fifth of a mile ahead of me, and when I arrived home, the townhouses across Main Street were slightly obscured. Naturally I was almost ecstatic. I like everything about it, even the additional chill the moisture gives to the air.
It’s worth not having four plainly delineated seasons here just for the large number of foggy days we get each winter.
Hooray for weather alerts by email:
URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SEATTLE WA
905 AM PST MON NOV 21 2005
SAN JUAN COUNTY-WESTERN WHATCOM COUNTY-NORTHERN CASCADE FOOTHILLS-CENTRAL CASCADE FOOTHILLS-NORTHWEST INTERIOR-EVERETT AND VICINITY-SEATTLE METROPOLITAN AREA-TACOMA AREA-ADMIRALTY INLET AREA-HOOD CANAL/KITSAP PENINSULA-SOUTHWEST INTERIOR-EASTERN STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-WESTERN STRAIT OF JUAN DE FUCA-905 AM PST MON NOV 21 2005
...AIR STAGNATION ADVISORY NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 4 PM PST WEDNESDAY...
STRONG HIGH PRESSURE WILL REMAIN OVER THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST THROUGH AT LEAST WEDNESDAY. THIS PATTERN TRAPS COLDER AIR NEAR THE SURFACE UNDER WARMER AIR ALOFT. LIGHT SURFACE WINDS ACCOMPANY THE TEMPERATURE INVERSION...ALLOWING POLLUTANTS SUCH AS WOOD SMOKE...AUTO EXHAUST...AND INDUSTRIAL EMISSIONS TO DEGRADE AIR QUALITY OVER THE LOWLANDS OF WESTERN WASHINGTON DURING THE NEXT FEW DAYS.
WEATHER FORECAST MODELS INDICATE A FRONT WILL APPROACH THE COAST ON THANKSGIVING DAY AND THAT IT WILL MOVE THROUGH WESTERN WASHINGTON ON FRIDAY. IF THE MODELS ARE CORRECT...THIS FRONT WOULD LIKELY END THE TEMPERATURE INVERSION AND IMPROVE AIR QUALITY.
CHECK WITH YOUR LOCAL AIR QUALITY AGENCY FOR POSSIBLE RESTRICTIONS IN YOUR AREA.
It’s spectacularly foggy this morning. Combined with the idiocy of road construction along the back-road route I usually take, and the fact that they always do such work during the morning rush hour (and just what the FUCK is that?), the gray day is perfectly is matching my mood.
’Tis a short week, the only saving grace for this day.
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!
:: • :: • :: • :: • ::
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!
:: • :: • :: • :: • ::
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.
:: • :: • :: • :: • ::
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.
:: • :: • :: • :: • ::
:: • :: • :: • :: • ::
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.
We got an early start to the day's Enormous Meal prep by cleaning our fresh (Never Frozen!) Butterball turkey and dunking it into a Home Depot blinding-orange 5-gallon bucket with the brine I prepared last night.
We did this while fighting off the aggressive advances of Buto, a young female Siamese cat experiencing her first Thanksgiving. This cat has a taste for nearly any food; your hands are in danger anytime you unwrap anything in plastic, whether it be food or not, because in true Pavlovian style the sound alone is enough to set off Buto's hunting instincts.
She talks a lot too. MEOW MROW ROWR and so on as she stalks the countertops seeking sustenance, because she's so underfed.
Anyway. The bird's brining, we're about to have breakfast while we relax and enjoy the day and read the newspaper and marvel over the absurdly early hours many stores have advertised for tomorrow, the looniest shopping day of the year.
We're staying miles away from any and all malls and shopping centers for the remainder of the weekend.
Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season. :-)
Interesting takes on some of the traditional and "everyone knows" cooking methods.
Entire content below the cut; the link in the title leads to a no-registry-required version of the article at the NYT site.
So I've been at this hospital every day for the last three weeks, and before that I was here at least two or three days a week for a couple of months. Here are some things I've noticed in that time.
No particular order:
I think that's all for now. I'm in the midst of verifying our inventory list to remove any duplications and this has taken the better part of an hour to write as I've jumped back'n'forth between the two.
::continue to count seconds to Fri 11/19 15:06::
Tonight's gift-shop volunteer is picking up on the register operation pretty quickly. She was absent last week, and the woman who was here is on a leave of absence through Thanksgiving at least, so instead of being here to help with any questions I'm here training a new person once more.
The ladies on the morning and midday shifts did all right but they thought too much. If they'd just relax and use the little cheater cards we prepared, and not think so hard about the possibility that they might make a mistake at some point ever in the rest of their lives, they'd be fine.
And I arrived at 11:15 today, instead of at 7:30 or 8:00 like last week. So it's been a shorter day. All in all, not so hellish, even if I am less patient this week.
Only two more weeks and then off to Seattle for the holiday, woo hoo....
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.
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....
Returned from Salt Lake City this morning on a flight that Delta had apparently triple-booked, based on the huge numbers of confused passengers with what they thought were conflicting seat assignments and whatnot.
I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my family at my mom’s house. We did the turkey in a brine for 12 hours or so, came out juicy and very tender but roasted in record time of only 3 hours versus the 5 or 6 I thought it would take based on its weight. But the oven kept the turkey warm without drying it out, so we didn’t have to have Thanksgiving Late Lunch.
My mom’s having her house’s roof redone, and she hired my cousin’s husband (what would he be, my cousin-in-law?) to do the job, so we saw him Thanksgiving Day and also heard a lot of pounding and banging and sawing and staple-gunning and the like all weekend. Then there was the unrelated bird-slamming-into-the-living-room-window episode late yesterday, which got my mom’s three Siamese cats all excited for several minutes.
I’m in the process of unpacking, checking to make sure all my belongings made it through the TSA random inspection of my checked suitcase, and starting the several loads of laundry I’ll have to finish if I’m to have anything to wear to work the next few days.
Ah, back to the grind....
Salt Lake City, just after 01:00 on Thanksgiving Day 2003. Turkey's in its brine, I'm already feeling the first effects of a hangover as I get ready to climb into the hide-a-bed in my old room at my mom's house, and I decided to dial up on a Qwest ISP account I had deactivated in March 2002 (uh huh, right) to make this quick post.
If you celebrate this holiday, may your day be joyous and bright, a reminder of the good times you've enjoyed through the years.
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.
Hit count down to an average of 450 per day over the last 24 hours, and the search-engine hits now come in about every 11-12 minutes on average.
Back to the daily routine this morning. I was out of town over the weekend in addition to holding off posts to see what happened with hit counts, and I haven't yet crammed my mind into go-to-work mode. Blah. And since I was out Thu and Fri, I've used all the paid time off I had accrued to this point, so gotta let that build up again before I take any more long weekends that aren't centered around Monday-holiday weeks or Thanksgiving.