Archive for January, 2005



January 31, 2005

Read about some Seattle Tacos.

Makes me proud of our fine youth and of the quality of everything in a fast food restaurant.



January 30, 2005

The profound satisfaction of having installed a new faucet in the kitchen.

I am not, as some may think, incapable of home repair tasks. I do, however, always need to balance the cost of my doing something myself (and the potential cost if I screw it up) with the cost of hiring someone else to do it.

On Friday as I was leaving work I got a message from my wife that the kitchen faucet had stopped working. She heard a “pop” and then it didn’t work any more. I assured her, in my calm and assuring way it would be ok (well, maybe I was not that calm or assuring).

When I got home I did some very careful investigation (lift lever, no water, repeat, observe) and confirmed her original assessment — the faucet was broken. Given it was a book club night for her and I was headed out, not much I could do except sweat and worry nervously about the apparent failure of a complicated piece of plumbing hardware.

Sometime in my fever dream sleep on Friday night some little voice in my head reminded me that faucets with a single handle use some sort of cartridge thing inside to do some sort of cartridge thing. A quick look online confirmed that cartridge theory to be true.

I went out to the HD and bought the appropriate cartridge (all of $15). I came home and using my full masculine tool-use capabilities (yes, I had to buy some wrenches I didn’t actually need while at the HD, but that only to demonstrate to the cashier that I was not just buying a replacement part but also adding to my masculine tool wardrobe (notwithstanding the fact that I used the self-serve checkout so had no cashier)) installed the cartridge. It was pretty easy. Very clear instructions and no real hassle. Pulled the old one out, pop the new one in. Seal it all up. Lift the handle to a beautiful cascade of


Repeat. Pull it out, put it in. Reread directions. Check water on (it was turned off in one of my first crisis-appropriate behaviors upon finding out the faucet had been taken out of commission by suspected terrorists). Repeat. Lift handle one more time to a beautiful cascade of


Now, panic can officially set in. Now I can feel my stomach turning over and over as I begin the process of worrying, estimating that I will need to draw down the full amount of my home equity line in order to afford replacing this faucet. Perhaps the whole kitchen should just be redone now as a way to cover-up the busted faucet? I can just see myself saying to the contractor, “yeah, that faucet is great, but just tear everything out and bring in the new stuff!”.

Ok, time to figure out what to do. Need to replace the faucet, but that would entail my crawling under the sink and it is wet and dark down there. Rats and snakes and alligators and Carrot Top all live down there. It is not for me. Plus, did I mention it is under the sink?! Not for me at all.

Call Tanya, Her husband built the Golden Gate bridge by hand and he forges his own tools on the anvil in their garage. She must know what to do. She can give me confidence and strength.

So, Tanya, taking time away from watching her husband build them a new roof using only a toothpick and a old pack of tic-tacs (or something equally impressive, I am sure) tells me I can either call or a plumber or I can put in a new faucet myself. She doesn’t tell me the thoughts going through her (and most of metropolitan Seattle’s) head — namely, Norman is a total home repair loser! She is kind and gentle, and for that I am thankful. Meanwhile, I am certain, Tanya and her husband have built a new yacht for Paul Allen in the space of an hour using only the back page from a 1984 issue of People and some nails. Ah, I am humbled by the materially competent.

I go back to the HD, strutting with new found confidence. I buy a new faucet ($140) and a basin wrench ($20). Come home knowing that I will conquer my fears and make a faucet happen today. Read directions, brace myself for the action.

Crawl under the sink, pushing aside the skin from that snake in the movie Python, and start removing old faucet. Wife and daughter are watching diligently. Wife is thinking “perhaps I should have married one of the ten thousand other men I have know who could do this stuff instead of this guy” and 2 yr old daughter is thinking “Daddy looks funny under there, he usually is cooking something fancy or examining his face for wrinkles”.

I will not keep you in suspense any longer. It took about 45 minutes (but seemed like much more) and some help from the wife (who was checking her old address books for the numbers of those guys she knew who could do this stuff) and the new faucet was in. Yes, pull the handle and get a beautiful cascade of water. Sweet clean water.

I did not actually beat my chest after this triumph, but the urge was there.

I sent Tanya a note thanking her for her help. She probably got it while advising some foreign dignitary on how to rebuild the Indonesian fresh water supply using only empty raisin boxes, yogurt, and a Duran Duran album (we have one of those in our house).

We have a cool new faucet. I am paralyzed with fear that any moment it will explode.



January 28, 2005

Some days are more blogful than others. This is not one of them.

The world has ceased rotating on its axis, as Tanya has created her blog! Please visit.



January 21, 2005

This is not a political blog. This is not a political blog.

I hereby declare that this is not a political blog.

However, I am actually afraid of the where and how of our place in the world today, and of the coming encroachment on my personal freedom. I am not particularly politically minded, nor am I one that will get up and protest most things. But, I feel the ill wind of a repressive society beginning to really curl the hairs on the back of my neck. My freedom of speech could be shoved down my throat at any minute by a government that has decided that conservatism can mean repression of liberal thinking.

So, I hereby declare that this is not a political blog. Of course, I could be lying.



January 18, 2005

Wait, slow down! There are children here. Yes, you!

I live in an lovely neighborhood on the top of a little hill in beautiful Redmond Washington. There is a single street, we’ll call it “Hill Ave”, that winds its way up the hill, with turnoffs for the side street along the way. Hill Ave is one lane each way. My house is on the corner of a cul-de-sac and Hill Ave. Just behind my house is the local elementary school.

Now, as you might expect, the speed limit on Hill Ave is kinda low. In fact, it is 25 MPH. Given that the distance from the bottom of the hill to the top is a bit over a mile, it is not really an issue in terms of travel. Along Hill Ave there are at least 3 school bus stops. Adults and kids and dogs and bicycles are always going up and down the street.

So, why the F*** can’t people even attempt to drive the f*!!ing speed limit?

I was leaving the house to drive my daughter to day care the other day. From my street to the “bottom” of the hill is 7/10 of a mile. I looked left and right before turning, no one coming. I turn right down the hill.

No sooner have I turned and I look in my rear view mirror and there is a van approaching rapidly. I just assume, naive and liberal schmuck that I am, that the approaching van will realize he is traveling a bit fast when he nears me (I am doing my 24 – 26 as I usually do) and slow down. Not a chance. He comes right up my rear and then passes me (in a no passing zone). Whizzes on by doing at least 45. I laid into my horn as he was passing by and I doubt he even turned to look.

This is not the first time this has happened to me (in fact, it happened again just a couple of days later). We have had cops on the street and just a couple of weeks ago had one of those insta-radar things that tell you how fast you are going. The neighborhood knows this is a problem. But, that is just not good enough for me.

When the vanf***er was zooming by me, on his way to some important meeting with the President or a double brain transplant or something, I literally wanted to either (a) ram him off the road or (b) chase him and ram him off the road. Some small vestige of common sense and the fact that my 21-month old was in the back seat, kept me from doing either. Additionally, ether one was illegal and would make me little better than him (ok, I am still better than that f***er under any circumstances).

It is one thing to speed on the highway, maybe pushing 70 in a 60 zone. Frankly, I do it all the time. If I catch myself doing it, I try and slow down. The traffic is likely doing much the same around me. No excuses, it is illegal, but it is not necessarily deliberately dangerous.

This asshole, however, is on a residential street. Signs are posted every few hundred yards with 25 MPH. Kids are waiting for the school bus. The car in front is doing the speed limit. The solid yellow line means “don’t pass here”. But, these people still have to get to their fucking (note I am sick of the *** crap) hair appointment or budget meeting or stove installation or yoga class (slow down, breathe deeply) and have to save a minute or two on this critical 1 mile stretch of drag strip.

There needs to be a solution. I need to either have the legal right to run them off the road, go over to their car in the ditch and spit in their face OR be able to shoot the ball-bearing shotgun mounted on the front of my car into their windshield OR be able to report their license number to the police and actually have the police FUCKING DO SOMETHING.

Choices one and two above are not really good ideas. But, choice three, that the police FUCKING DO SOMETHING when I report the speeding asshole, sounds like some damn fine civil governance to me.

This is a societal problem at its core, don’t you think? What could possibly compel someone to knowingly speed down this street? Has society so inured us all to the reality of the world and people around us that we just race along as if there is no one else there? Are we so hopped up on caffeine or sugar or whatever that we don’t think that the presence of a school on a residential only street with just one lane each way in the rain with signs posted everywhere and cars all around going slow might indicate that we need to slow down? Guess not.

We all speed on occasion. We all talk on our mobile or read a map or make an illegal U. We are all human. Some people, it seems, are just more important than the children and puppies and generally law-abiding citizens around them. I am working on my own solution for these people, and I just know it will involve steel bear traps, rabid vermin, high current, and some paint thinner. So, just speed on by my house when you feel the need for some action.


Apple drive

January 14, 2005

Friday notes on a week gone.

The Apple service is really good. Two days after I reported my hard disk crashing (and I reported it about 8 pm), there was a brand new hard disk on my front steps. That is nice.

However, it appears that either (a) all the data is lost from my disk or (b) I will need to send it to Drive Savers and spend a thousand bucks to have them try and retrieve it. If it were more than data from the last two months which had not been backed up, then the thousand bucks might be worth it. However, in this case I am going to lose the data and move my backup schedule from weekly partial and quarterly full to a daily full (and that requires a new hard drive to essentially serve as the mirror of my primary system). Ah, the joys of data.

I have noticed that many visitors to this site (yes, I am obsessed with site stats) are searching for Macallan Elegancia 1992, a nice whisky I picked up in Heathrow back in December. I guess it has some buzz going and people are looking for more info. It is evidently not available in the US, so it has to be acquired at duty free shops in Europe and Asia.

Well, it is really fine drinking Scotch. Not a lot of peat, nice sweet finish, just what you want when you don’t want anything too demanding. I highly recommend.

Now, of course, two different pages of this blog will come up when people search for Macallan Elegancia 1992.



January 12, 2005

A reader poll. Marketing guys want to know…

Sometimes I just can’t stop asking questions. Must be my insatiable desire to understand the why well before I think about the how.

Please let me know why you read this blog. This might be your first time here, or you visit frequently (please, visit frequently). Just leave a comment and tell me why you are here, what you get from it, and what you might want to get from it in the future.

Remember, past laughs are no guarantee of future wit.

Also, my hard disk crashed last night on my primary home system. Yes, it is a Mac. In fact, a 2-month old iMac. Big screen, big drive, big memory, etc.

So, for all my friends that mock me for having a Mac, this is sure to be a pleasant treat.

All I can say is (a) Apple doesn’t make the hard drives, so the 250 gig unit in my Mac is likely the same as in someone else’s PC or external drive; (b) Apple support is awesome and once they determined the problem with me it was no hassle to request service and have them start the process to send me a shipping box so I can return the unit to them; and (c) I think my iMac may just have been jealous over all the hoopla yesterday with the introduction of the new iPod and Mac mini — it may have been deliberate self-inflicted wounds on the part of an iMac with a weak ego.



January 11, 2005

I got the music in me. I got the music in ME!

By now the whole world has seen the new iPod Shuffle. Good, bad, or indifferent (I think “good”) it certainly continues to accelerate Apple’s lead in the digital music arena. Combine that with the 4.5 million iPods sold over the holidays (yes, that is 4.5 MILLION) and you have a company that understands the value of an integrated and seamless experience for the typical user. Control the hardware platform and control the software platform and everything works together like a charm. Compare this to the experiences Harry is having with his digital music solutions.

Now, both the Apple approach to digital music and the Microsoft approach have merits. They originate from different core philosophies around how to build a market, how to include partners, where innovation on the software and hardware fronts lives, and how the consumer thinks. What always gets me, however, is that for all my own personal technical prowess I ultimately much prefer the Apple solution.

Why? When it comes to music (and TV, the same reason I use TiVo) I want complete and utter simplicity. I have no additional bandwidth to give to figuring things out. All my mental power when on the computer lately is spent on digital imagery. That is where I am trying to be creative and use all the power available. That is where I am willing to invest time and effort in technical complexity. Not in music.

Most consumers are like this — give me complexity where I want it, simplicity where I don’t. Apple gets this. Not everyone else does.



January 7, 2005

To blog, how to blog, what to blog, why to blog, blog, blog

So, mere minutes ago I was having a discussion with two of my co-workers, the blognificent Harry Pierson and the nonblogging Tanya. Tanya is all fired up to start her blog (due in no small part to the relentless pressure from Harry and me), but she is torn as to which blogging service to use. So, herein I present the solution for Tanya.

Use whatever you like!

I admit to being a technology junkie, and will also admit to having established accounts on every major blog service (yes, Tanya, LiveJournal included). The decision criteria for me was simple: how easy was it to use, especially given the limited amount of time I have to dedicate to blog maintenance. I tried them all, played around with the basic things I needed to do, and made a decision to use Blogger.

The second criteria for me was the look of the final product. Again, I wanted it to be easy to do, but also wanted something that I felt was clean and simple and indicative of my own personal design aesthetic. Blogger solved that problem for me. The default templates were nice and I can make all the changes to them I want (when I have time).

Blogging should not be a chore. It should be something you enjoy doing and not take any more of your time than necessary.

Now, part of our discussion was also around using the technology provided by our employer (Microsoft) versus by some other company. For my part, when I started using Blogger it was an independent company. It was subsequently acquired by Google in a smart business extension. The blogging solution from Microsoft (MSN Spaces) did not even exist when I began my blog. Do I feel disloyal to Microsoft because I am using software from Google? Not at all. Interoperability and mixed environments is the way the world works. If it is good enough for my customers, it is good enough for me.

So, look for a link to Tanya’s blog soon. I hope.



January 6, 2005

The Plot Against America : A Novel — Philip Roth

I am reading this novel and even though I have not finished it (I know how it turns out, having read a boatload of reviews since it was released) I do want to recommend it highly. The recommendation is based as much on the scary prospect of “it could happen” as on the beauty of the writing. Truth is, I have never been a big fan of Philip Roth. Although highly regarded as one of the best of our living authors, his writing has always left me cold and unmoved. That is certainly not the case here. I feel moved, frightened, and ultimately inspired by this book.