Archive for August, 2006

OH NO! Makeup on the airplane!

This past weekend I took a whirlwind trip out to New York City to visit my little sister Catherine as she starts Medical School at Columbia. The trip was a good bit of fun. I enjoyed seeing Catherine and the great city of New York, even for just two quick days. I posted some photos of the trip over at Doddsnet.

This next effect will hopefully be long forgotten if you’re reading this in the distant future, but at the time of this trip we were under heightened security alert for the airports (see here and here). There were signs EVERYWHERE in the airport reminding you that not only did you have to take off your shoes (yes, even flip-flops person in front of me in line and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T PUT THEM IN THE BINS, the TSA person reminded us all) but you also couldn’t bring anything liquid or gel onto the plane. Not a bottle of water, not a tiny canister of lens-cleaning solution I had overlooked in my camera bag, no liquid-or-gel-based makeup or lotion, and not even a starbucks coffee purchased across from the departure gate. See their breakdown of what’s not allowed at this link.

So, that said, I am absolutely amazed that my plane did not nose-dive into the ground on this trip. I mean, really… we totally SHOULD have crashed going one way or the other. On the way out to NYC I was sitting next to a nice woman from Spain. Much to my astonishment, as we were about 20 mins from landing, she reached into her purse and proceeded to touch up all of her makeup from the stockpile of liquid and gel-based products in her purse. Oops. Like I said, it’s amazing we didn’t crash.

Then, on the way back, even though we didn’t have anyone blatantly smuggling lipstick and mascara through in their purse as far as I could tell, we DID have this cool plane (rolled back into the Delta fleet after the dissolution of “Song” airline) where each of the seats had independently controllable audio/video setups. You could watch DishTV live, play video games, listen to music, etc. Very cool. AND VERY DANGEROUS! These units were enabled right from the start — even while we were sitting at the gate, while we taxied out for takeoff, and while we took off!!!

If the FAA is to be believed, anything more electronically nefarious than a wrist-watch used below 10,000 feet will cause the plane to lose control and crash into the ocean (even if you’re not flying over the ocean, presumably). That’s why I have to turn off my MP3 player from the time we close the airplane door until the pilot dings the bell twice at 10,000 feet. So it seems like a terrible risk to allow something as sophisticated as DishTV to not only PICK UP SIGNALS FROM A SATELLITE but to also PUSH THESE SIGNALS THROUGH A DECODER SOMEWHERE ON THE PLANE and then PUSH THE SIGNAL OUT TO DOZENS OR HUNDREDS OF LITTLE TELEVISIONS!

I’m totally kidding, of course. They probably just wrap this all in tinfoil (very thin, transparent tinfoil) to keep it from interfering with the rest of the plane’s electronics. So no harm done, and I’m totally okay with them leaving the TVs on the whole time. But no, I still can’t use my laptop or MP3 player until we hit 10,000 feet. Because it’s not wrapped in this same sort of tinfoil, I guess.

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Little Miss Sunshine

Jodi and I went Sunday night to see “Little Miss Sunshine”. This… movie… was… hilarious!

It was much funnier than I had expected, even with the suitably hilarious cast already known to me. Also, even though not a single one of the characters had any particular similarity to my family, somehow I found myself relating to the off-the-wall antics and the lengths they had to go to. Maybe it was their terrible car for such a long trip… we always had terrible and unreliable cars for our trips when I was growing up.

Anywho, the story was unexpectedly sweet and definitely funny… right up through the performance at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant and the resulting fallout.

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Welch Plaza is sold out

I’m actually a month or so behind in making this post, but some exciting news on the Welch Plaza Condos front: the building sold out earlier this summer! I’d been intending to post about how the number of available units was dwindling… but then the last couple went ahead and sold before I got around to doing it!

We had a building “sell out” party thanks to former onsite-agent Ralph (of Watson Gamble Real Estate) back in July and a bunch of folks from around the building had some barbecue and met their new neighbors. Now that we’re all sold out and everyone is moved in, things can stabilize a little bit more in terms of our association and building events, etc.

In other “sold out” news, the big wooden Condos For Sale signs all around the property are already gone and the huge 4–story advertising banner near the front entrance is being taken down tomorrow.

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Strange Jetta radio ads

I heard a Volkswagen Jetta commercial the other day that caught my attention. It caught my attention for two reasons:

  1. It used the very catchy phrase “Pre-loved” Volkswagen to refer to their used car resales.
  2. It was really creepy if you actually thought about the meaning of the ad.

Maybe I’m still just thinking too much as I observe these commercials (see my previous thoughts on the “stays in Las Vegas” blackmail ad for another example). But it just seems like someone on the ad team wasn’t thinking when they put this ad together, as seemingly sincere as it was.

So the point of the ad is that you’ve traded in your Jetta, which you really liked cause – of course – it’s a great car. Standard stuff so far. Someone else bought your used… er, “pre-loved” Jetta and they love it too, of course. Here’s where it takes a turn. The new owner somehow figures out who the previous owner was (VIN number records lookup at the DMV, or maybe breaks into the dealership and raids their files) and then also finds the previous owner’s phone number… AND CALLS THE PREVIOUS OWNER. Ostensibly just to chat about how great the car is, ask if the previous owner wants to see the car, etc. Ewww!

So, a cute ad about how much the Jetta owners love their great cars becomes an ad about crazy new Jetta owners stalking the previous owners. Yes, if anything makes me want to buy a Jetta, it’s the implication that if I ever decide to trade it in, I will be stalked by a crazy person.

I noticed a few days later that the ad had changed its focus (or maybe it’s just another variation on the ad that I hadn’t previously heard): Now the ad context is that the original owner misses his car so much that he calls up the new owner to see how it’s working out, and ask to hang out, wash the car, etc.

That’s a little less creepy, I suppose… but just barely so.

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Misc local stuff

Couple of interesting things in the last week or so, linking to the photos at Doddsnet.

  • A week-end ago, we host a “Steve Wozniak Birthday Party” in Seattle (See the spread Jodi put together in the last 4 photos on this page).
  • Then on Saturday, we take a neighborhood walk and visit the nearly-finished remodeling of the Douglass Truth library, which is set to open on October 14th, 2006! See the (first couple photos on this page). Note that these photos were taken about 12 hours before the tragic accident (at this very spot) which killed SPD officer Joselito Barber.
  • Then we walked a few more blocks up 23rd Ave and took some photos of the ‘tear down’ of Garfield High School (next couple of photos on this page)
  • This past week, a construction crew was retrofitting the entrance of one of the portables next door at Washington Middle School (photos once again on this page).
  • And finally, Jodi and I “spent” our “Wine Lovers Gift Package” out in Redmond this weekend (which we won at the Redmond Elementary Hawk Walk/Run last spring, and totally didn’t include in that blog post for some reason… whoops). Anyway, we had a great time being “tourists” out in Redmond. Had a nice steak dinner at Beck’s, stayed at the Redmond Inn, had some Family Pancake House breakfast next door, and then meandered over to Woodinville for some proper wine tasting. Good times (photos also on this page)!

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Ricky Bobby

Jodi and I saw the Ricky Bobby movie last night. It was hilarious!

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R8A and two-way HOV on I-90 – update

Amazing coincidence! Just the other day I was wondering “whatever happened to the plan to add two-way HOV lanes to the I-90 bridge?” (to supplement the current reversible lanes and eventually replace them when the reversible express lanes are switched to dedicated transit lanes).

So I started digging around on the WSDOT site, and eventually ended up at this project on the SoundTransit site. When I first looked at this page, it still said “Estimated Start: 2006”, but no additional timeline detail. But it did list Andrew Glass Hastings as a contact, so I sent him an email.

He quickly replied, answered my timeline question, and included a preview of the announcement newsletter that had just gone out. The newsletter is available online now also, and the website is updated with the timeline details.

It has some good news, and some bad news…

The good news: It’s getting started ASAP! We should (finally) see the beginnings of this in 2007!
The bad news: It’s being dragged out into three stages, and we won’t see end-to-end two-way HOV lanes until TBD.  (TBD = we have no idea when we’ll get it done).

And of course, the worst news is that without the HOV lanes running end-to-end, buses and carpools will continue to get stuck in traffic during peak commute times. Ugh. I suppose it’s unreasonable — and it would cause even worse commute problems while it was being done — but it sure would be nice to just get some of this stuff DONE!

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SeaFair Sunday 2006

August 6, 2006: Semi-professional photographer Michael Palermizzle cast a helpful eye on my photos from yesterday and provided some insight into the problems. So today’s photos are a sight better, or at least, a sight less fuzzy. 🙂

See today’s photos.

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What happens in Vegas leads to blackmail

Ok, I must be stupid because I don’t get it. I just saw a commercial on the tee-vee about “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Although I don’t normally watch commercials (thank you media center!), I was watching live so didn’t get an opportunity to skip.

What caught my attention about the ad was how creepy it was. The whole point of this slogan (as far as I can tell) is that you can get away with doing stuff in Vegas that you would not normally do. But the pretext of the ad was that a “normal” homeowner was getting blackmailed by his lawncare person who saw him doing naughty stuff in Las Vegas.

So not only was “what happened in Vegas” not (staying) “in Vegas”… but it was coming back to haunt this homeowner with open-ended and potentially disastrous consequences.

Oh yeah. I totally want to go to Vegas now because of that ad. Such a great selling point. But then again, maybe I just don’t get it and it’s saying something totally different…

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Seafair Saturday 2006

August 5, 2006: Some of my Microsoft folks headed over to the west side and we went down to see the Blue Angels Saturday show. Good stuff, although I’m discovering that my 70-300 lens is a little fuzzy when it’s extended all the way to 300mm… make note of that for tomorrow and try again.

See the photos.

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