Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I can't decide if I want to try to shoot fireworks tonight. It looks like it's sprinkling and I just realized my remote control doesn't work with the D700 -- probably should've noticed that before, making it much harder to keep the camera steady. I'll also be pretty tired in an hour. In the absence of a decision I'm idly googling homemade rain covers and willing myself awake.

Jer works tonight so my personal New Year's Eve celebration has involved World of Warcraft and two cups of coffee. It's not the worst NYE ever. That belongs to the Christmas break I worked at Blockbuster Video and had to vacuum while the fireworks went off outside. Yay.

Without getting into it too much, these last couple of weeks have been very strange at work. My company was acquired by a much larger entity and on Monday we all had to go through HR training and start over from scratch. Vacation, seniority, sensitivity training, it all begins anew and there has been some culture shock as a result. I continue to hold the same job title, which if you caught my hints, changed about 3 months ago when I took over for my boss. One of the side effects of this change is that I've started peppering phrases like "low hanging fruit" and "where the rubber meets the road" into my speech patterns... and then I slap myself in the face as punishment.

So there's that.

I think what I really want is permission to go to sleep and not worry about fireworks and rain. Ignoring them makes me feel guilty though since this should be the last New Year's Eve in this apartment. Bah. I'll figure something out.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy In Between Holiday Time

It was a low key Christmas this year. Just me and Jer, the cats, a stack of presents, snow, and World of Warcraft. I'm not complaining. We were both spoiled and received a lot of very nice things.

I got almost entirely cooking items such as cookbooks and cooking implements -- I asked for them, it was not a statement on my abilities. My mother even got me a stand mixer, which is awesome.

I guess I will learn to bake now. :)

The snow seems to have all melted leaving behind startingly green grass. I am looking forward to getting back on a schedule and riding the bus reliably again. Although I just looked at the web site and they are operating reduced weekday schedules for my bus this week, which is stupid, since it only runs during commuter time anyway. And it's not entirely clear what "reduced weekday" means. I am getting really really sick of this.

It just translates to a lot of time standing on the street with my fingers crossed.

But now is not a time for bitterness. It is a time for laundry.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas, Snow

Dear Snow,

I see you are falling again.

This will be my first white Christmas ever, and while that's neat, we've been out of Bailey's for 4 days. Please take a break, snow. Chambord is just not as good.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sometimes I get drunk by design

West Seattle Blog has been a great resource during this whole winter weather extravaganza. This morning I saw an article linked explaining why the city shuts down at snow sign: Seattle refuses to salt. Apparently they just pack the snow down by design. In my business we say "by design" when we really mean "we don't want to fix it and we don't want to talk about it anymore, okay?"

I am working from home again. I rescheduled the holiday potluck and my meetings are all set up as conference calls, but it still feels like cheating. There is no reason to go in now though, so I should just let it go. As for my sale, I used the post office Web site to print postage and since it's under 13 ounces I can drop it in the mailbox.

We are all about problem solving over here.

And in a minute we will be all about brewing coffee.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crème Brûlée Snow

It's 8pm, note that. I just went downstairs and cleared the snow off my car, snow covered by thin sheets of ice that cracked like caramelized sugar when pressed upon, covered by more powdery snow.

I sunk a good 6 inches to the ground as I brushed and cracked and swept and cursed.

I would really like to make it into work tomorrow and at least get my laptop, but the weather report says it will freeze tonight and snow tomorrow night, which means no buses. I am a big wuss and don't really want to drive in a town full of hills and bridges that only owns 27 plows with rubber tips. But then I feel like I am making excuses and I need to mail my sale and deposit my reimbursement check, but bah. I could barely clear my front window of ice, why do I think it'll be better after it has all night to freeze solid?

I am clearly not cut out for this.

More photos: Homebound edition

View of snow looking out towards Salty's:

View from my desk:

The bus was cancelled again so I'm working from home. Better get to it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Color Calibration is a Right!

Jer has been encouraging me to pick a new monitor. Unfortunately I just did.

I want this: NEC LCD2690WUXi-BK-SV Black 25.5".


I can hardly imagine what it would be like to use a monitor where I trusted the contrast and the colors and I didn't keep mistaking the permanent smudge in the upper right corner of the screen with dust that needs to be rubber stamped out. Always with the rubber stamping of the nothing.

Also and P.S. I need Photoshop CS4. Need, I say. That is all.

Snow Photos

Looking up the hill behind our place:

Looking at the street towards Salty's:

I just watched a kid snowboard down the hill shown in the first picture. The snowflakes are huge -- they actually look like the pieces of paper I used to cut up in elementary school.

It Just Keeps Coming...

As far as I can tell, it snowed all night. When I went to bed after midnight it was still falling, wind was still blustery, and the line between street and sidewalk had continued melding to become a distant memory.

It's stopped for now, but the weather report says it isn't finished. If the timing weren't so bad it'd be a lot more fun. I'm supposed to get into work tomorrow to sign benefits paperwork to prevent an interruption in service. Apparently life keeps happening even when the city shuts down. I will see if the forms can be emailed, I guess.

Check out this news story. Two buses hang over I-5 after sliding down a steep hill. Scary.

I know if you're reading this in a place where snow is common, this doesn't make much sense to you. I might seem to be blowing it out of proportion. I mean, it's just a few inches of snow, right? I saw this linked today about Seattle and snow, and it helped put it in persective.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Grocery Shopping and Post Office: Starring Frightful Weather

We just braved the weather and returned triumphant from the grocery store and post office. Once we left Harbor Ave behind, the streets were not as ice and snow covered so we were able to get up the hill on Avalon, no problem. As you may expect the post office and grocery store (Safeway by the Alaska Junction) were both very very crowded.

Surrounded by carts and people and narrow aisles... I have never had a panic attack, but that was as close as I ever want to come. Luckily I made a list and focusing on checking off items made it into a game.

I have now obtained ingredients for kale and chorizo soup and we have stocked up on other main supplies, including a bottle of Eos Red Zinfandel and a liter of club soda to go with the Ginger Vodka. There will be no starving, or possibly sobriety. I even bought my holiday potluck contribution, which assumes the buses will be running on Tuesday. Doesn't look good so far.

At the grocery store, it started to snow again, right on schedule. There's this other big storm rolling in now, I guess, and this is all very strange for Seattle. I am just happy we made it to the store and back without any difficulty, after brushing the 4 inches of snow off my car.

And now it is back to World of Warcraft. Whee!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Come scavenge with us

Well, for now I still have the same position. Only the bureaucracy structure has changed. Some things I was promised didn't pan out and reservations, I have one or two. For example I may have just lost all of my accrued vacation time, but at least I'll have direct deposit and a 401(k) again.

Bright side. I haz it.

That's enough words about the place I spend most of my time.

I am sort of snowed in here, since it isn't safe to be driving on the icy hilly streets with my poor blue car. We are playing the scavenge home game for food. While Jer was still asleep I microwaved 4 meatballs and deconstructed a string cheese. For dinner we will probably have grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

I always seem to have plenty of cheese on hand.

Neither of us will starve on my watch. No sir. Even if I have to be creative with the remaining ingredients. Cous cous and meatballs! American cheese on bagels! Hot chocolate spiked with brandy!

37 route suspended Friday

According to Metro's Web site, my local bus service has been suspended.

On the bright side, considering this is the day I learn about the future of my job -- at least the first step -- I can scan in documents on my flatbed scanner and email them in, and my phone has a (newly discovered to me) convenient mute feature for the 2 hour conference call I'm scheduled for later.

Necessity is the mother of reading the instruction manual.

So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow Adventures

View from the bus after we got stuck on the West Seattle Bridge on-ramp

I understand that occasionally cold white flakes fall from the sky, and in many parts of the world, the infrastructure takes it in stride. Not so in Seattle. In Seattle, we panic.

As you may have guessed from the above photo, my bus got stuck in the snow. All of the passengers had to hike down the on-ramp and find another bus stop. Eventually another bus came. It was cramped, standing room only, shoulder-to-shoulder, reminded me of Tokyo during the commuter time. I got to work an hour and a half after I left my house -- normally it takes 20 minutes. That's the short version.

The snow never let up. I left the office a little after noon and waited on the street for a half hour. (I was the only one who made it to work, by the way. Okay, one other guy came in but he left a little before I did.) No one on the street had seen a bus pass by in an hour. No one was sure if one would come. One eventually came. It is colder when you have little hope.

The driver took side streets, an arbitrary adverse weather route. I begged him to let me off by the Chelan Cafe instead of proceeding up Delridge. He did so. I walked home from the West Seattle Bridge in the snow. Cold. Pretty. Tiring.

I brought my D700 and took some photos. Got home and realized my software can't read the high-techness of this fancy camera. Will have to upgrade software. In the mean time, I can convert to jpg and be hokey about it. See above.

Tomorrow I absolutely have to make it into work. Or something. We have Big Work Stuff to get done. Bah.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Where'd everybody go?

I walked into work this morning a little later than usual at 8am, surprised to find the lights still off. Apparently there is a big storm a'comin' (at least big by Seattle standards), and there is ice treachery and snow madness to the North of us, soon to be sweeping to a home near me.

The irony is it was my easiest commute day this week; I only waited 15 minutes for a bus with chains to pull up instead of 25.

As my main winter accessory, I have selected a comically long white scarf from H&M, which is ever so soft, yet on close inspection resembles chains of cheese curds. I feel like Great Father Winter whenever I wear it and look down over a billow of white hanging from my chin.

Warmth supersedes looking silly in my fashion handbook.

I put my foot down, in a totally passive-aggressive way, and informed everyone in my company (which sounds more impressive than it actually is) that I am bringing meatballs to work next Tuesday at noon, and if they want to eat them that'd be awesome. Oh? And if they wanted to bring food too, I totally wouldn't mind. In fact, let's call it a Holiday Potluck, just for fun. And I'll schedule it on Outlook. Won't that be fun?

I am forcing good cheer down their throats. And meatballs.

The last 2 nights I've played World of Warcraft (surprise!), and got past a wall I hit with my Tauren Warrior back when I stopped a couple of years ago. Since my gaming epiphany, I've managed to advance almost 3 levels to 44 and I am more proud than you would expect to have done what I've done.

I am brewing coffee for myself and idly glancing at my to do list. I wonder if anyone will come in and entertain me.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

To catch you up

Good day to you.

It was a busy week. Tuesday night, shopped for a dress. Wednesday night, happy hour and wrapped Jer's Christmas and birthday presents. Thursday night, met up with Courtney to see Jonathan Richman at the Triple Door, which was a lot of fun. The Triple Door is how I've always pictured a dinner club. People serve you food; you enjoy the show. No opening band, just two guys on a stage, some twinkly lights that look like stars on the backdrop behind them, and a bottle of red Zin. Fun times.

Friday night, Jer's birthday. I left work about 2:30pm, stopped at the grocery store, then came home to play WarCraft until 2am. It's what Jer wanted to do and birthday boy gets what he wants.

Saturday night, Jer's holiday party. Also, it snowed. As I sit here now in our office, I can see a patchy blanket of white on the trees and the ground. Cold but pretty.

My hands smell like coffee. I am still in my pajamas wearing fingerless pink and black stripped gloves with white skulls on them. It's about as close to Christmas feeling as I get.

Friday I am supposed to hear news about some big happenings at work. I really hope the day hurries up and arrives.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I wag my finger at Nordstrom Rack

I just had the oddest customer service experience at Nordstrom Rack. As the clerk rang me up for my purchase, he recited his spiel about a rewards card and how it could save me money, was free, and would take only 1 minute of my time. I said sure, why not.

He asked for my ID and input the information into his computer. Then he pushed a keypad forward and asked me to enter my Social Security Number.

Hold that thought for impact. Roll it around on your tongue. My. Social. Security. Number.

I chuckled and said no. He explained it was necessary in case I lost my card. It was to protect ME from MYSELF. I declined again. He continued the transaction, vaguely, and I still assumed I was being signed up for the rewards card and saving $20. I asked him about it when he handed me the receipt and he said, "Oh, without your social security number, I can't sign you up."

I blinked and said, "Really? I'm surprised you get anyone at all to give you that information. What about identity theft? Most companies use a phone number." He shrugged.

And that was that.

I'm just plan flabbergasted. They took my ID, with my birthday, address, driver's license number, and then they wanted my social security number? Incredible! Why don't I provide my bank account number while I'm at it, my mother's maiden name, and my first pet's name? It's not even a credit card application. It's a rewards card!

For the first time I wished I used Twitter so I might alert the whole Internet to this madness post-haste.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Allow myself to introduce ... myself

There was a moment today when I texted Jer, "Shoot me."

It was just that kind of day.

Of course because I'm paranoid I spent the rest of the day worried I was tempting fate, which was later exacerbated by the homeless man on the corner shouting nonsense about his Gun.

And then a jet crashed into a San Diego neighborhood.

None of this is related.

I am planning to post a notice on my photoblog that I am taking December off and will be back with lots more photos on January 1. Work is just taking too much out of me right now. World of Warcraft gets about 10% of the blame, but it's not the root of the problem. I have my fancy new camera and together we will take lots of photos, but right now my hands are cold and my shoulders are tense. There are too many projects taking my attention and in the mean time I feel like I'm drowning in filth. This apartment nees a thorough cleansing.

I just don't want to face any of it. I am not being very grown up, I know. As my minor rebellion I requested December 26 off from work. You rebel, you!

In other news I registered for Japanese 2 today, so it will be another 10 weeks of class starting in January. I bought some black button thread to try and sew the buttons back onto my winter coat. Lately I just hold it closed with my hands, which may very well explain why my hands are always cold. And that's all the nonsense I can muster.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

apathy to start the week

I only used the d700 for about a half hour and then I put it away. It's awesome, exactly what I wanted, and there are lots of new buttons to learn about. Better to take it slowly. We have time.

Been playing more WoW. I am being scolded that it is not World of AuctionCraft. Yet, my enchanter needs gold to buy stuff so he can level and make better stuff. It is neverending.

Sunday night and I managed to replace the halogen light in the living room, wrap a few presents (poorly), and pack them for shipping. I also renewed my city business license and ran a few errands last night with Jer. ... and that's it.

It is a slow and lazy month. I am supposed to know more about XSD and XSLT than I do. But that's what tomorrow is for. Tonight I am just not up to participating in productive society.

I sure hope I have enough clean clothes for tomorrow. Durn.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Time flies. Yesterday was my last Japanese class of the quarter. As I wait for my coffee to brew I will share with you my recent adventures.

After checking the UPS web site before work and verifying that the Customer Care Center indeed opened at 8am, I drove there. The lot was entirely full of cars and I parked about a quarter of a mile away thinking, "Gee, Christmas time is busy!." Upon arriving at the door to pick up my wonderful and fabulous dream camera I was confronted with harsh reality. A sign taped to the door said, "Hours: 8:30am to 8pm."

I drove to work in sadness. Nothing ever goes quite right with UPS, but I've written about that here before.

As part of a teambuilding exercise, my work group went to lunch and then to see "Quantum of Solace" at the Cinerama. I don't think I've ever willingly watched a Bond film before but I kind of liked it. Dark and a few clever moments mixed up with all of the action. Current Bond has some seriously cold dead eyes.

After work I drove back to UPS, picked up my camera after a 20-minute wait, and then headed off to class. Well, first I ripped open the box in the parking lot, standing over the trunk of my car. Then I stuffed the camera body into my camera bag so I could carry it with me for the rest of the night. No leaving unattended valuables in my car for me!

Oh, coffee's ready!

It's Friday and I'm very happy because of it. World of Warcraft is going swimmingly. My Blood Elf Hunter, Nyl, is about to reach level 25. I've spent most of the week in the Barrens killing mobs to try to get a recipe for Savory Deviate Delight. Because that right there is a big ol' moneymaker and doing so also let me kill things without getting experience -- so I wouldn't outpace Jer's character. I'm up to about 75 gold in the game, which is kind of a lot for my character level, based entirely on the auction house. I spend a lot of time at the auction house, just so we're all clear.

That's all I got.