Archive for November, 2006

Whoops, missed a book

I’d meant to include this as a second book topic in my post yesterday and it totally slipped my mind. I also recently finished another audible book to which I’m going to give a luke-warm review.

I listened to “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel over the course of about 3 weeks. As always, since it was available, I listened to the unabridged version of the book and this was one of the first that I was kind of wishing had been abridged-only from Audible.

Now don’t get me wrong. It was ok. But it really dragged for the first 2/5, really really dragged for the next 2/5, and had an overly tidy but interesting wrap-up at the end.

The story, in short, is that a young man who is uncomfortable with his name is living in India and his family runs a zoo (the first 2/5). Then his family decides to move to Canada, selling and/or keeping the various animals – they are traveling in a ship which goes down in the middle of the ocean, and he (Pi – the young man) ends up in a lifeboat with a couple of the animals. Then at the end of the book — the most interesting part in my opinion – he tells some executives from the shipping company both the story that you, the reader, have already been told. The execs don’t believe it, so he constructs a “more plausible” version of the story for them, casting significant doubt on the credibility of the narration you’ve just read.

So that unreliable narrator bit was pretty good, but the rest of the book was a bit boring to me. Between this one and the last one, I’ve really fallen behind in my reading schedule (I now have 5 books queued up at Audible that I have not yet started!). Need to get back on track or I’ll never catch up!

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Another book review

This one for a book (an Audible book) I finished probably at least a month ago: “Christ, the Lord: Out of Egypt” by Anne Rice.

I had enjoyed both the book and the movie Interview with the Vampire many years ago (and, admittedly, had an effect since it was the primary reason I was so spooked the first time I went to New Orleans!). That said, I had read some tepid reviews of this book before deciding to give it a chance and wasn’t sure quite what to expect.

I was a little disappointed, but perhaps not as much as the reviews had told me to be. It was a bit dragging, and although she does a good job of conveying the first-person narrative of young Jesus, it struck me as hollow at several points where his magical, miracle ability was presented and immediately hushed over. Ah yes, the miracle-child cover-up… so believable.

In any case, it was not the worst thing I’ve ever read and if you get into Anne Rice books perhaps you’ll find this one a suitable twist on her previous tales. Hard to say.

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Did Evan fall off the face of the earth?

Fairly regularly (at least once a week or so) for the past year or more, I’ve been posting useless bits of trivia and/or details about stuff going on in my life here to the blog. But then all of a sudden… November 5th (ironically, with a week late post about Halloween)… without a hint of explanation, all went silent.

And the answer is “no”. I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. But I did get really, really busy.

What has Evan been  up to that is so important as to distract from regular blog posts? Here’s a quick sampler:

  • Trip to Vegas to present an Exchange 2007 session at Exchange Connections
  • Preparation for aforementioned “Trip to Vegas to present…”
  • Follow-up from aforementioned “Trip to Vegas to present…”
  • Late nights catching up from the days out of the office while at aforementioned “Trip to Vegas to present…” after I got back
  • Work
  • Weekend day-trip to the WA ocean coast with Jodi
  • Seeing Borat (here’s my mini review: It’s hilarious. Go see it. Expect to be offended. Expect to laugh.)
  • Saw Demetri Martin at the Paramount in Seattle
  • Got a second crown (the first one was feeling lonely)
  • More Work
  • Got out the humidifier since now that it’s starting to rain in Seattle, it’s dry as heck inside and you get dry throat and shocks from touching anything metal. Seriously. I agree it makes no sense, but it is what it is.
  • Presented a bunch of times and did demos on the cool new Exchange 2007 console and shell for internal and external audiences.
  • Finally (I’ve been waiting nearly 2 years for this) ordered a 46″ DLP Samsung HDTV. Our trusty 27″ Sony will need to find a new home shortly. 🙂
  • Was surprised by how amazingly busy the 3 work days of this holiday week actually turned out to be (and also the resulting traffic) — didn’t anyone take these days off?!
  • And let’s round it up with a predictable one: Even More Work

So, without getting into any more detail than the list above, you can see that I’ve just mostly been busy with work, work, and work.

Although I intend to enjoy my 4-day holiday weekend, I also will try to catch up a bit with things like my blog posts and (get this) some leftover work from this week.

Hope you have/had a great holiday!

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Halloween 2006

Jodi and I each did a little bit of dress-up for Halloween this year. Mine was a little bit more work… literally… as I wore it through the whole day at the office, including for a technical presentation I made to a group of certified architect candidates in the morning. 🙂

I went as a medical physician, dressed in scrubs. Jodi had also planned for me to bring her stethoscope along to make it even more obvious. But when I asked how much they cost to replace and she told me, the door closed on that possibility (medical devices are EXPENSIVE!)

When I got home from work, Jodi and I went down to Beth and Dennis’ place for a halloween get-together wtih a bunch of folks from the building and that’s when Jodi’s costume began. We figured that if I was going as a doctor, she should go as a, well, “computer nerd”, I guess. We dressed her up in a technology tshirt (Windows PowerShell — the ultimate tool in an awesome “computer nerd” toolbox) and loaded her up with pagers and phones (I think she ended up with 2 or 3 phones clipped to her belt!). A good time was had by all!

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Douglass Truth Library architecture criticized by PI

I noticed the other morning in the Seattle PI an article by Lawrence Cheek talking about the Douglass Truth Library branch, and in particular, it’s new architecture after the rebuild.

It was an interesting article, and I agree with a number of his points. However, on his key point — that the new design just doesn’t work… principally because the historic Carnegie library structure was retained — I disagree.

Having watched this reconstruction from the day it started (the library closed for the renovation 2 days after we moved into our condo), it was an amazing thing to see the transformation. And he’s right, it is a little bit like the modern half of the facility stick out the east side of the historic building like a growth.

As I read it, he doesn’t seem to have any issues with the new addition, just with having retained the historic building. I think doing that would have been a loss to the neighborhood. The historic building is so grand compared to most of the other construction nearby. Having a mini-central-library (ie- all modern) at the site would have been “cool”, but I think it would have missed some of the point. This library is all about reconnecting the new with the old — a link to the past. Heck, that’s what I would have come up wtih for a “motto” for this particular branch. 🙂

And, in any case, it looks great from both the outside and on the inside, so I consider it a great win. Seattle has some great libraries now, and the Douglass Truth branch is one of the best!

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More Bus Adventures

Yesterday I had two interesting experiences on the bus.

545 bus home from work (which I took all the way into the downtown so we could go to the movie). SR520 was backed up all the way from Lake Washington to NE 40th… even up the on-ramp traffic was at a dead stop and/or inching along.

To the rescue comes our heroic bus driver! After taking >20 minutes to make it from the overlake transit center to 148th St, he got fed-up with the terrible traffic and got off at the exit! We took a shortcut on the backroads of Bellevue and ended up shooting ahead of all the stopped traffic by the time we ended up back on the highway. Ordinarily this particular bus driver causes me some grief since I often end up standing and he doesn’t follow the strategy of “feathering the brakes”.

But not yesterday… yesterday I had a seat and I was glad to have a bus-driver who drives the thing like a taxi. Everything but up-on-the-grass to go around stupid drivers who stopped in the defective 520 HOV lane while trying to merge in, etc. Good stuff! Excepting the 20+ minute slow start, we made it into the city even faster than we’d have made it on a lot of typical high-traffic days! Sweet!

14 bus home from the movie. This one wasn’t quite so ideal, but it’s a lot more typical. After JUST MISSING the 14 bus at the end of our film, we knew we’d have a bit of a wait for any of the potential buses we could catch to get close to the house (4, 14, 27, even the 3 bus would have been a possibility).

Sure enough, we had to wait 25 minutes before the first of these arrived – a 14. That’s fine, because of course it could have been much worse than 25 minutes, I suppose. But what was frustrating about this was that at the first stop-light after getting on the 14 bus, I noticed that a 4-bus was in the lane directly next to us and the 27 bus was directly behind us. Nice. 3 buses that all run together through the downtown instead of staggering them by 10 minutes to make the system flow a little better.

It would have made sense for us (10 min wait instead of 25 minute wait) and it would have made more sense for anyone trying to transfer between the routes (folks on the 27 bus would have had a hard time transfering to the 4 that was always 20 yards ahead, for instance). Ugh.

As Jodi pointed out, this is the sort of experience that makes it very hard to justify riding the bus downtown when you could pay a few $$ for parking and not have to stand around for 25 minutes at 10pm.

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Marie Antoinette – The Movie

Jodi and I went to see this one last night, and it was pretty good. It was a bit longer than I had expected (and hopefully no spoilers here), that’s even without all of the nastiness at the end of her life included as part of the film.

Having read the Wikipedia entry about her, I felt prepared (or at least much more prepared than I would have been several weeks earlier, when I knew almost nothing of the history). I found the film to be well made and interesting. There were a couple of times where it seemed to drag a bit and spend too long on one activity, but it seemed pretty clear that these were intentional to show how utterly boring it would have been to live that “life of privilege” (more like “life of duty and expectation”).

In the film, you really could empathize with her predicament. Here she is, a young teenage girl, and all the (much, MUCH older) adults in her life keep telling her what a horrible failure she is/will-be if she can’t convince her asexual teenage husband to impregnate her. This problem she faced is a well-known secret of their marriage 200+ years later, but it was probably just awful for her to have to face this day in and day out at the time. Not to mention the way it must have felt to have many people in her court (and in the country at large) sniping at her behind her back. No wonder she escaped to her little village!

In other news, AMC Theatres are the bomb. Although they are not Landmark or IFC(see this previous blog post and this one too) and are therefore not perfect in every way, they are definitely a close runner-up. There were two key things last night that made this clear to me:

  1. The theatre had about 30-40 people in it (probably not bad for a weekday evening show) but it was totally quiet apart from the movie — almost uncomfortably so during a few moments of silence as the movie was starting and I was chewing loudly! No cellphone ringing, nobody talking through the movie, nobody yelling at the screen. Awesome!
  2. We hadn’t had dinner yet and were hesitant about having hotdogs, pretzels, and popcorn as our official dinner. But AMC to the rescue, they told me that I could bring in outside food and that this is their standard policy! I ran out and got a quick burger to go and brought it back into the threatre as a very satisfied customer! Bravo AMC!

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Evan Can Stop Breaking Jodi’s GPS Watch Now

As much as I liked using Jodi’s Forerunner 305 GPS watch while I was doing my bike rides, it was always a bit of a hassle to see my current speed, etc while I was biking (trust me, it’s hard to twist your wrist that way while you’re going at speed down a steep hill!).

Plus, although she would never come out and say so, I suspect Jodi doesn’t really like me wearing her watch when I am continually falling (and landing on it… and scratching it up a bit). It’s time I start breaking my OWN GPS training assistant.

That’s right, Jodi bought me the bicycling equivalent of the Forerunner — the Edge 305 — for my birthday! With heartrate monitor AND cadence sensor!! Sweet! So now (once I can figure out how to set up the cadence sensor) I can get started with my training rides for next summer! 🙂

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