Archive for July, 2012

Wired.com redesigned for obscurity

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I read wired.com every day, or rather I used to, up until the change they made recently, that took away the chronological stream of articles. Now, you have to visit each individual blog and section, to see their latest posts, and gone are the usable summaries. d’ohwell.

Victorian Adventure

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

I’ve been wanting to check out the Victoria Clipper, and try one of the ziplines in the northwest, so this weekend, I did both. On the ride up, it was semi-amusing, to watch the lengths one woman went to, to keep from having to share her row with a stranger, up to being willing to delay the entire boat while people searched for the last remaining seat in the fully booked boat. I hope someone wasn’t forced to wait for another boat. If there is any justice in the world, that severe look of anger she used to drive people away will give her tons of wrinkles.

With a groupon for the fare, I stayed at the Chateau Victoria, a decent enough hotel, with an 18th floor bar/restaurant that featured live music Saturday night, by a trio doing jazz standards in a reasonable fashion. I did find it odd how there was a portable A/C unit, permanently installed in the room. Looking over the hotel booklet, it turns out that they have 3 different kinds of heating/cooling, depending on which range of floors you were on. My door was directly across from an elevator, so got noisy as people turned in after last call.

Victoria is distinctly Canadian. Despite being further south portions of Washington state, there was no mistaking it for a different country. It is also very dedicated to the tourism industry, or at least better than Seattle, at concentrating it all within easy walking distance. Their harbor is busy with purely tourist traffic, plus the ferry and floatplanes. There’s a pirate ship zipping back and forth several times a day, plus a constant stream of little water taxi/tour boats, and the waves of whale watchers.

There was a busking festival in progress, which meant lots of entertainment, and crowded spots here and there.

I checked out Miniature World, a small museum of small scenes, some from American history, some Canadian, World War II, and some just every day life, in a range of scales, from completely custom, N-scale and HO-scale, and traditional dollhouse. I didn’t make it to the bug museum, I used the flash so much at the mini museum, I wasn’t able to take pictures past the 3rd hour in town. d’oh.

On Sunday, I got up near my regular, ungodly early, hour. I passed on spending $14 for a cup of yogurt at the hotel, checked-out, and went in search of a starbucks, where for half the price, I got the yogurt and fruit, AND a hot chocolate. Not a chocolati hot chocolate, but nothing is perfect.

Victoria is very quiet in the early morning, much more so than Seattle’s downtown. I saw a seal in the harbor, thankfully I had at least my cell phone to capture the moment. Eventually I found the shuttle van to the zipline. There are confusing directions that point you to two places. It turns out they go to both places because of said confusion, so I didn’t feel alone. The drive out is pleasant enough, when there’s no traffic. There was an accident on the only road to Sooke, while we were up in the trees, so we passed a long line of people waiting to get up the hill, on our way down. Adrena Line Zipline Adventure Tours seemed a nicely professional outfit, though they didn’t give me any discount on the video camera package, which is supposed to come with a print from their static camera, even though the static camera was broken, something they didn’t mention until we got to that particular zipline. The sign also says they put your video on a custom USB drive, made to look like a carabiner, but you actually got a 16gb SD card. whatever, the point is the experience, so any memory aids are really just gravy, and the videos did turn out (not ETA on upload, editing video is annoying). Two guides and seven people, including me, two hours in the trees, and one piece of maple sugar candy. Lots of standard adventure-guide patter (one of the guides mentioned how well the South Park episode on ziplines captures their spiel/attitude), and a good time all around. Even with the traffic issues, we were back in town in reasonable time.

Waiting for the return ferry, I checked out the Victorian floating homes. Unlike in Seattle, where they are private and just another way of living, the houseboats of Victoria seemed to have to work for their existence, sharing dockspace with tourist attractions, and allowing people full access to their entire dock. They also had quite a few for sale, all at the same time. They also have a more haphazard feel.

The one thing I wonder about most is their seagull poop situation. It is everywhere, and they don’t seem to make any effort to clean it off the buildings. We’ve got plenty of gulls in Seattle, but even at our fisherman’s wharf, I don’t recall seeing this level of splatter.

I ate poutine twice, I really don’t understand how this isn’t a thing in America too.

I found it odd, the way immigration is in Canada for both directions of the trip (canada border patrol on the way in, US on the way out), but customs was done on the home soils only.

3 good bands

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

When there are three bands on the bill, and the cover is only $6, expectations are set accordingly, so it was nice to have them blown out of the water.

First band was Faire du Surf, with a nice set of tuneful songs, sung to a crowd that was small, and mostly made up of the second band. It didn’t stop them from putting themselves out there and they entertained me.

Second band was Moose Portrait, a funky electric hip-hop experimental sort of sound, fronted by the traditional super-thin and tall geeky dude. While they made up half the audience for the first band, by the time they were themselves setup on stage, the crowd had tripled in size, and didn’t seem to be members of the next band waiting for their turn, but rather actual intentional fans. The singer was an active stage presence, and the songs worked well.

The third and final band of the evening, Werebearcat!, brought the most people into the club. Sometimes a female singer, sometimes a male, they worked through their set and actually had some CD’s available for name-your-own-price. Like the second band, there were people who had come to hear them, in double digit numbers. They even managed to get one woman in a mood to dance in front of the stage.

All in all, an entertaining evening close to home.

Guy on a flagpole

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
Guy on a flagpole by Xymon
Guy on a flagpole, a photo by Xymon on Flickr.

I would not want this job. He is at the top of a flagpole, with an electric saw, cutting off a piece of metal. At times, the pole is flexing back and forth in the middle, leaving me wondering if it is really rated for a man at the top in high winds.

Rare Bug

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I’ve always considered my Beetle a special car, one of only 10,000 in it’s special edition color. Add in the fact that I’ve made what I consider tasteful upgrades, and kept it in near mint condition over it’s 12+ years of life, and less than 10,000 miles per year, you end up with a car that people often think is new, even though it’s almost ready for Jr High.

Today, I got a letter from a local car dealer, offering me a minimum of 125% of Kelly Blue Book + $500; there’s even a $10 starbucks card in it for just letting them appraise my car, and turn them down. The letter claims there is a bunch of interest in 2000 Beetles in the used market, but I suspect it’s just marketing.

Over the Wine Dark Sea

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Over the Wine-Dark SeaOver the Wine-Dark Sea by H.N. Turteltaub
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is an interesting way of portraying an average man’s perspective on life during the time after the death of Alexander The Great, with the generals fighting and scheming, and the little men caught in the middle. Not that life wasn’t already a difficult proposition, especially for a tradesman of the sea, before the knowledge of celestial and magnetic navigation had made the notion of aiming for a destination with any hope of accuracy actually possible.

On to the second book….

View all my reviews

Doctor recommendations in Seattle?

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

That is it, I am done with University of Washington’s neighborhood clinics and their medical center. Anyone with recommendations on regular and eye-specific doctors are welcome to send them my way.

I called the doctor’s office this morning, because the eye had stopped improving, and was starting to get worse. The person who answered the appointment-request line felt I should talk to the nurse before scheduling an appointment, but of course the nurse didn’t call back until after the only open appointment for today was in the past. Then after hearing that my infection had survived a round of high-powered antibiotics, and was coming back, suggested that it would be OK to wait 4 more days, because infections that have bested antibiotics are totally safe to let fester and culture on one of my two irreplaceable eyes. I don’t know what the standard of care is at UW medicine these days, but it doesn’t seem like it even meets even the lowest expectations.

Back I go

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Headed back to the eye doctor today. Things had seemed to be getting better last week, though never quite back to 100%, but from yesterday to today, the eyelid has started getting red and puffy again, and I’m blinking through a haze of goop again.

So fine

Saturday, July 21st, 2012

I got on the bus to head home from the train station, and sit on the back seat.
There is a fine looking young man sitting in the bench seat in front of my, with a slightly chunky girl mackin on him hardcore.

I like to eat.
I’m a whole package deal.
So, do you like white women?

The guy’s answer didn’t please her, but didn’t piss her off enough to stop talkin with him, until she had to get off the bus. Afterwords, those of us who had witnessed the exchange, and the guy, chat a little bit about the interesting things you can see and experience on the bus.

When we get to the stop where they all get off, the guy turns and asks if I’m going to the Bite (of Seattle), but sadly, I still had my bag from PDX, and couldn’t go with, which is a pity, ’cause it sure seemed like he was interested in me, and he had the kinda body I can understand the girl wanting =p

Lucky Me

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Some days, things go not so well. Some days, things go much better.

I had a groupon for a trip on the Victoria Clipper (high speed boat from Seattle to Victoria-Canada), that I had to book by today. I’ve been wanting to go check out the zip-line tour they are associated with, and made the call. I pick a weekend at random, based on an empty calendar, and start the booking process. As I’m talking with the agent, setting up the hotel and the zip-line, I surf to the hotels website to see what kind of a place I’m getting, and find out that there will be both busking and electronic music festivals going down, while I’m in town. I couldn’t have picked a weekend with a more compatible set of events.