Archive for January, 2006

Busy news day

Wow, what a busy news day:

Plus lots of other stuff I’m neglecting. In any case, that’s a lot for one day!

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Cars honking at buses

This morning something funny happened on the way to work, and I figured it was worth a post. A car honked at the bus. 

Ok… so why is that funny, you ask? Well, it’s just something that doesn’t often happen while I’m riding the bus, I suppose. We were pulling back into traffic from a side-of-the-highway stop, and evidently the bus ended up merging in front of a car in the flow of traffic. Now, these buses are friggin huge — double-length “articulated” New Flyer buses. So, generally, they just kind of go wherever the heck they want and drivers of smaller vehicles (ie – anything else) have the good sense to get the heck out of the way.

But not so this morning. That little sedan was bound and determined to race the bus and “not let us back in”. Yeah, good luck buddy; I wonder who’s going to win that one.

Honk, says the car. And take a guess who eventually got out of the way.

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Memoirs of a Geisha

We finally got around to seeing the movie last night, so it’s time to blog about it. I had read the book back in late-December through early-January and was chomping at the bit to see the movie. I’ll break this up into a couple of parts.

Let’s start with the movie:

I liked the movie. I had heard that many folks who have read the book don’t like the movie, and I totally understand why. But I still liked it and am glad to have seen it.

That said, perhaps it’s a shame that I read the unabridged version of the book. It would have been nearly impossible for even a 2 1/2 hour movie to compete with the 17 1/2 hour audible book in terms of detail. They had to cut, cut, cut all over the place and even so the movie felt frantically paced! Speaking with Jodi after the movie, she admitted that there was so little screen-time given to some of the important characters — and the pace at which we were whisked through Sayuri’s life, bouncing back and forth between all of these supporting characters — that she wasn’t entirely sure who some of the folks were… even at the end of the film.

<not really spoilers here, but don’t read if you want to read the book and be surprised>

But what got me the most was that they made a bunch of changes to the plot. I was particularly surprised and uncertain about why they changed the terms of Mameha’s deal with mother, for instance? All it did was make Mameha look more selfless than she was in the book, and it raised early questions about “what was in it for her”… questions that lead too early to the Chairman. The second big thing that frustrated me was the constant presence of the Chairman throughout, to the almost complete exclusion of Nobu. I realize we had to wrap up the happy ending very rapidly without lots of explanation, but even I (having read the book and knowing what it was supposed to be portraying) had a hard time following the combination of several events (separate in the book) that led to Nobu disappearing from the story.

Things I wish had had more focus in the movie:

  • Nobu and his decades-long relationship with Sayuri
  • The problems Hatsumomo caused during Sayuri’s apprenticeship
  • The lead-up to war and wartime
  • Sayuri’s move to America

Ok, enough about the movie. Let’s talk about the book!

I really liked this book. A lot. It’s quite likely my favorite book I’ve read in the last year. It was one of those books where by the time it’s over, you end up really “missing” the characters for having finished. This was made even worse for me, by the realization that since it was not published until after Sayuri’s death, there is not a single person who plays a direct/named role in the book who is still alive today. That made me very sad.

But all in all, a very good read and an engaging story. Highly recommended.

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Skagit Valley Bald Eagles

Beth, Dennis, Jodi and I went up to Skagit Valley this morning to see the Bald Eagles who fly down from Canada and north to “clean up” (my words) the mess left behind by the earlier salmon runs.

From the website:

Each winter, hundreds of bald eagles converge in the Upper Skagit River Watershed in Northwestern Washington. They are drawn by the thousands of spawned out salmon along the rivers. The eagles come from as far north as the Yukon and Alaska to enjoy this easy food source. They make up one of the two largest seasonal concentrations of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. The eagle migration peaks mid December to late January. On one overcast day, January 19, 2005, 451 eagles were counted between the towns of Newhalem and Sedro-Woolley.

We were a week early for the official festival, which gave us a bit more space to move around and get some good photos.

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One year to the day – January 27th

Jodi pointed out to me this morning that it’s January 27th… one full year to the day from her “neurology match” results. Last year on this date we were eagerly anticipating discovery of “where we would be going for her residency”.

Now, of course, we know it ended up being Seattle — our first choice. But leading up to January 27th there was quite a bit of worry and anticipation! I wasn’t really able to jump-start the job search process out here in Seattle until we knew for sure it was going to be our destination, etc. Our life was in virtual limbo from the time we made the match rankings in November or December until the results came back.

But here we are a year later… well settled in Seattle, and enjoying the change immensely. What a difference just a short year makes!

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Washington anti-discrimination law passes!

Washington finally passed the long-suffering anti-discrimination bill today (see Seattle PI article). For reference, HB 2661. I’m pleased to note that my two state representatives (Eric Pettigrew and Sharon Tamiko Santos) both sponsored the bill in the house and along with my state senator (Adam Kline) all three voted in favor of passage.

It’s been brought up every year for a decade, and voted down by the senate each time. Bravo to the house and the senate for passing it this year and allowing Washington to become the 17th state in the nation with an anti-discrimination law that covers sexual orientation!

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Bus Data Detects Traffic Snarls (in Seattle)

Interesting article in Wired magazine about the work being done in Seattle by the University of Washington’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Research Program to model traffic flow using bus data.

These are the same wonderful people who provide the “Mybus” service I am so totally dependent on for coordinating my daily bus commute.

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Books Books Books

Quickly catching up on some of the books I’ve read lately. I ran through the first two books of the Narnia series (first time since childhood) so that we could go see the Lion Witch and the Wardrobe while Jodi’s mom was here at Christmas.

The Magician’s Nephew – this is a good one, I’ve always quite liked as it sets up the land of Narnia and introduces the witch (quite an interesting, innately evil character) and Aslan (the innately good character). I’d probably read this one 3–4 times before, perhaps because since it’s the first one in the series, each time I “start and eventually don’t finish” the series I still read this one. In any case, good book.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – This is the well known classic from which the movie was made. The movie covered the book pretty well, although (our neighbor with whom we saw the movie) Beth and I chuckled about how some of the controversial points were softened a bit for contemporary audiences. For instance, the whole overtly sexist scene with Santa Claus telling the women that they shouldn’t fight in the upcoming battle was glossed right over without comment. I realize this sort of stuff in the Narnia series was par for the times so I’m not overly critical… but it’s still interesting to see how these things change over time. In any case, good book.

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More on the Tunnel Boring Machine

Props to a fellow who goes by the name greenlaker98103 on one of the lists I read for sending out these great links: Article in the Seattle Times about the TBM and some great pictures and diagrams of the TBM planned drilling path and station positioning.

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Scott Adams proves that Evolution is “Not Completely True”

The world of science may well crumble after the astounding revelation that evolution is not not completely true. Good stuff.

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