Archive for December 2003

A Newer Tradition?

Test post.

A Newer Tradition?

A picture named Clipboard.jpgThis one’s for Paul Hinrichs.  (go there now to horn in on the Christmas dinner he’s preparing).  Our Buckeyes are going to the Fiesta Bowl again this year, albeit not to play for the national championship again. 

Slacking Towards Bethlehem

A picture named xmas 04.jpgIt’s been a sort of half-throttle week since I got home from Milwaukee Friday night.  I had done little or no shopping, I was groggy from almost a month’s worth of travel, and got caught up in the malaise that the dampness and early darkness of the Pacific Northwest solstice.  Plus, I had a lot of work to do Monday and Tuesday, so there just wasn’t much time to get “into the season”.  I made a half-hearted sortie down to the University district Saturday, but ended up spending most of the afternoon drinking espresso and reading my new copy of Shroud (see panel at left).

I finally sucked it up yesterday afternoon and drove up to the Northgate mall in a last desperate attempt to at least get everyone SOMETHING to unwrap.   I was mostly successful, but I usually do a much better job.

My wife bought a tree last week at the Greenlake Elementary school’s treelot, and it sat in a bucket on the front porch until last night.  Christmas isn’t a religious holiday at our house, as none of us is a believer at this point, but we’ve accumulated over 30 years’ worth of ornaments, and I enjoy the ceremony of taking them out each year, discussing their origins, and hanging them.  We even retrieve and save each year the tinsel we first bought 20 years ago at Toys ‘R Us.  The purple ornament at right was presented to me on my first Christmas.  You can still make out the ‘1949′ on it.

Everyone have a great holiday week and enjoy your own traditions and the people you share them with.

Health Marketing Trend

A picture named xmas 05.jpgThis contraption has graced the top of our trees for at least 25 years (my wife will correct any rounding errors).  It’s from an old dime store in Seattle’s Chinatown/International District.  I believe it commemorates Chinese new year.  The pinwheels used to spin festively, but too many packings and unpackings have flattened them and rendered their joints arthritic.  Still, over the years it’s made odd trees look good and good trees look better.

Health Marketing Trend

I’ve noticed an interesting little marketing trend in the last week or so.  Purveyors of the kinds of things you can spend your Cafeteria/Flexible Spending Plan money on - eyeglasses, chiropractors, pain clinics - are advertising to folks who are approaching the end of the year and still have unspent money in their plan banks.  It’s actually sort of clever, they’ve found this untapped little bundle of money to pitch for.

For those not familiar with these things, some employers sponsor Cafeteria plans in which employees can have money withheld from paychecks in order to pay for health-related expenses not covered by their health insurance, such as deductibles, eyeglasses, orthodonture, etc.  The amounts withheld reduce the employee’s federal taxable income.  However, any amount unspent at the end of the year reverts to the employer, and the employee loses out.  It behooves participants to plan carefully, adjust their withholding when plans change, and try to come up a bit short at year-end.

If you have money left over, I guess you have to consider whether your employer is a more worthy recipient of the unspent funds than some quasi-quack importuning you with unwanted procedures or paraphernalia.

Wandering Synaptics Cursor Redux

I get googled fairly regularly on the topic of the Dell Inspiron Wandering Touchpad Cursor, which I wrote about last spring, so I thought I’d add an update.  This seems to be something that happens fairly regularly with this model of laptop - the cursor starts migrating across the screen by itself, and often heads off into a corner and you can’t coax it back.

Turns out this is a hardware flaw and is fixed by having a circuit board replaced under the wrist rests.  Dell support will have you reinstall drivers and do all kinds of software calisthenics, but in the end you need a visit from a tech.

I bring this up because I just had to have mine replaced again.  I had it fixed in the spring and it was fine for a few months, but the little bugger started its peregrinations again in September.  I only have 40 or so days left on my 3-year warranty (ALWAYS purchase these warranties from Dell.  I’ve had this cursor thing fixed twice, and had my screen replaced once, too).  I’m not really that rough on my laptop, but I do carry it with me everywhere, and I guess that’s just a hazard of laptop ownership.

Listening To…

The Electric Rosary album of the Seattle jazz/funk trio The Living Daylights.  They’re comprised of a drummer, bass and saxophone.  We heard them last Saturday night at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, where they played two high-energy sets.  We first encountered them about 4 years ago, and seldom miss a chance to see them.  We first saw their sax player, Jessica Lurie, as a member of the Billy Tipton Memorial Saxophone Quartet at Bumbershoot.  Later, my wife heard a cut from Living Daylights’ 500-pound Cat album on KCMU (now KEXP) and remembered her.  We bought the CD and got to see them live a bit later at the Break Room (now Chop Suey), and were hooked.  Jessica probably weighs 110 pounds soaking wet, but plays alto and tenor sax with a huge sound.  The drummer appears to be borderline ADD, and bears striking resemblance to the Muppets’ drummer “Animal”. 

They toured pretty hard for a couple years trying to break into the next level, including teaming with Bill Frisell on Rosary (not a particularly good match - he doesn’t have their energy, and basically just couldn’t keep up), but it seems they’ve given up on it now, and only appear together every couple months or so.  Catch them if you can - they’re a real treat.

Slacker Week

I’ve been blog-blocked this week, daunted by a fixation that the next post would have to be a detailed recounting of my Baja trip, a task that I have not had the energy to mount as yet.  While in Baja, I was completely out of contact, either by cell phone or computer, with work, the first vacation I believe I’ve had where I’ve not done at least some work.  So, I’ve been paying for that this week.  I took some notes on my Palm in Baja just to keep the chronology straight, so I will tell some tales as I wind down the next two weeks - maybe I can figure out how to use the “stories” feature of the Abuserland software.



A picture named combo_baja.jpgI’m back from my 9-day kayak/mountain bike trip in Baja.  While I decompress and sort through about 450 photos and a bunch of dirty, soggy gear, here are a few snapshots of the trip.

I got home Thursday night, and had to fly off to Milwaukee Sunday, so I’m a bit disoriented right now, trying to quit using pidgin (and sometimes hilariously inaccurate) Spanish to order coffee and food and ask directions. 






Our “luxury” hotel in Loreto.













Lunch stop on a beach on Isla San Carmen











Sunrise over our campsite on Isla San Carmen












Beach on Isla Danzante

Me Llamo….Mojito