October 31, 2014

A reintroduction

Wow, this blog is 9.5 years old. That’s 2/5 my time on Earth. There’s more before this at xanga and livejournal too.

I’m certainly not going to go back and read all my old posts, but if you do, keep in mind that some of them are very old.

October 31, 2014

finally tried bikeshare, WA edition

If you recall, I used Hubway, the bikesharing system in Boston, with great glee and trepidation with Ellen when visiting this summer — it was useful, the drivers of Camberville were very forgiving, and I did not become the first bikeshare casualty who would forever live (die) in ignominy.

So I tried it today in Seattle. For background, I have WAY too many ways to get to work, from Bellevue and Olive to Bellevue-the-city:

1a. go downhill, take 550 (seattle -> bellevue direct, goes through tunnel, which is odious in the summer because there is no sun, the air is bad, there is no internet in the tunnel; the lake it crosses has less pretty views. It’s less odious in the winter because there’s no sun anyway and fog looks the same from any bridge. It’s still odious in the winter because I have to go down hill and then down stairs for it.)

1b. take one of the four buses that go downhill, take 550. Still have to go down stairs.

2. cross the street, take the 545, get off at Montlake, and furiously check on phone to see which stop — upstairs (271) or downstairs (555) is better. “Better” is not straightforward because downstairs is faster.

I think I’ve discovered a way to hedge: walk upstairs, gaze eastward; if the 555 is coming, carefully scramble down. This will work only on days with good visibility and when I can be bothered.

This is by far the preferred method, and I think it has made me allergic to longer bus rides where I don’t get a break / lake every 15 minutes.

3. take a connector (lumpy, slow, have to reserve a seat, too early in the morning, still manages to be late and there’s no real time notification, feel like a target, drops me off at same place as (1), which is farther than (2)) The connector wasn’t intended to stop on my block; it’s supposed to hit right in the middle of Broadway, to save those people a walk downhill, but got moved to my block because of construction.

4. Vanpool. Our driver had a back injury a while ago, though, and while I hope he’s back in commission, I haven’t checked.

I now also have a bikeshare pen across the street.

I was wearing spandex anyway and woke up late. I didn’t want to risk a bridge closure (/opening, for boats), so I decided to do option 1 but go downhill on a bike.

Getting the bike was pretty easy — I enjoyed the experience of receiving the laffy taffy-like keyfob; kudos to the designers. I mostly figured out how to use the bike (all except shifting — I was going downhill on the lowest gear; woe betide). Didn’t die or drop my bag (tantamount to death); caught my bus. This was like, 10:30; I would still be unsure how to go down Pine safely and without annoying the real cyclists [TM] during rush hour.

On the way home, I emerged from the tunnel and got a bike; I was headed to meet up with friend Andrey at Genki Sushi on lower Broadway.

This was the most woeful use of the bike today: I didn’t figure out how to gear until I was already at Pine and Bellevue, at which point the hill increases so that lowest gear is appropriate. There was no awful clanging sound when I changed gears! My old bike always had that problem.

At Broadway, I realized that I hadn’t decided on a dock when I began the trip, so was confusedly batting at my phone-browser-map on the sidewalk. Someone might have yelled at me at this point, or maybe it was at a car.

The map showed that there was a nearer one at SCCC, but once resolving that I had no chance of finding the SCCC dock in the dark, I decided I would be better off going to the one on the other side of Cal Anderson. This was when I learned that people parallel parking occupy the same part of the lane as you. Docked the bike, ran off to sushi.

It’s ok. The error is entirely between the saddle and the handlebars, and for a second use (uphill, in the rain), perfectly acceptable.

I walked Andrey home and hopped on another bike. This was mostly cruising down Olive. Is it ok to do that? I know I caught a light really well so that I had the road to myself for much of it, but I know it to be a pretty busy street. I took it because it’s shorter (diagonals!) and with fewer intersections — if I’d gone down Broadway, I’d also have to figure out how to get into the bikeway.

I’m not so sure about biking as a mode. Uphill biking takes a long time! I can’t read when doing it, or do anything except pay attention. My usual approach to endurance activities is to go slowly, muse happily to myself, and look at pretty things that pass by.

There’s also some guilt — I mean, day pass + fob = many people’s weekly food budget, on a whim? I needed another way to get places I could already get to? It’s another green-colored thing that yuppies ride?

[god on Thursday I had to get to LQA at 6 so I took the connector to its Belltown terminus; we blocked the bike lane crossing 4th? ave on Stewart and there was so_much_hate. Then we illegally used the bus lane and I continued to feel bad, even though there was an amusing giant backpack in the jansport shop window. Clearly I had left enough buffer in my schedule that day or I'd been cheering that we'd used the bus lane.]

That (aside) aside, I think it’ll show its worth for when it’s: 4:30 am Sunday morning and inexplicably I have to get from Belltown to Capitol Hill, any weekends when there are no buses downhill and I don’t want to walk, evenings when I want something from Trader Joes and a workout.

I’m not sure if it will help the U-District seem less far away, since the ride back is no picnic, and if it’s going to take half an hour, I would rather be twaddling at the phone or eavesdropping on strangers rather than continuing my quest to not be bikeshare’s first casualty.

bonus: Microsoft Commute has also changed its stance from “No we have no plans to subsidize such a silly thing that could be part of your commute but never your primary mode” to “Oh, right, we’re subsidizing car2go which is exceedingly similar to bikeshare, so, uh, we’re looking into it.”

July 15, 2013

crash dump summary (yes, something is wrong with Sum Ting Wong)

Stack top:

Surely you’ve seen the Asiana fake pilot names thing by now.

It’s hilarious! And problematic. It is possible for something to be both, for sure, but when I encounter something horrible and hilarious, I try to be precise about why the thing is horrible, then laugh. The problem in the Asiana pilots case is that I haven’t seen much acknowledgement that there is anything amiss with these made up names.

Continue reading

March 17, 2013

Not just in software

You know that image with the client’s spec on the swing set, and what they actually needed was a tire swing? I just did that to my esthetician. 

Continue reading

December 29, 2012

movies about creating worlds

  1. Being John Malkovich
  2. Shutter Island
  3. Inception
  4. Argo (+ the transcendent power of storytelling, yes yes)
  5. The Truman Show (added 7/21/13)
September 4, 2012

the thoughts that go through your mind

Parking lot -> Bandera Mountain -> summit of Bandera mountain -> back down -> for (int i = 1; i <= 8; i++) lake -> Denny River -> Parking lot

Justifications: “mike’s cool; these guys are probably going to be cool” (certainly); “it’s only twice the distance from U-district to Golden Gardens” (note: but markedly less flat, and no Starbucks at the 3/4 mark); “Jens did a half marathon — I should too”; “might as well get some use out of the hiking boots” (oh boy they proved their worth today); “soak up the outside while it is not misting” (get dust-colored tan);

Ways that hiking is like China (c. 2009? when I last remember it)

  • bathrooms where you have to bring your own toilet paper
  • dust in everything
  • about 13 miles /hours — except no one brings you beverages or foily meals.

Morbid thoughts that go through my mind, miles 1-15

  1. scamper scamper; guys, stop being tall
  2. What would this march feel like on reduced calories? Rephrase: what does a death march feel like?
  3. hips: <climb>; ribs: we want to go this way!; brain: no, ribcage, that direction is off the mountain. we should not go there.; abs: <whistle, for we do not exist>; arms: flail, throw onto nearest forward rock
  4. If something should happen — not that I think it would, but if something should ever happen — what are the chances that I could trek to somewhere with cell reception and describe my location with precision? Is there some experienced hiker who sits in the command center and tries to figure out what the confused and startled hikelet means? I mean, I thought we were between exits 42 and 45, and we were actually between 45 and 47; oops.
  5. Total elevation gain is a LIE because we are going up and down and up and down and; hey, intermediate value theorem / displacement / velocity / bloop bloop bloop
  6. “wish I were the prom queen, fightin’ for the title / ‘stead of being 16 and burning up a bible / feeling super super super! suicidal” (official hike soundtrack)
  7. Feel that soreness in your hips? That is roughly what period cramps feel like.
  8. This is a three apple, one clif bar, one shot block, one one thousand year old egg on wheat sandwich kind of hike. Why are there no apple trees around here?
  9. We’re going over there? Ok.
  10. That part of the hike where panting turns into sobbing because blood sugar has pulled a c. 2000 NASDAQ
  11. rock rock rock ok, this is just a dorm room where someone has left tons of stuff on the floor; you can get through it
  12. more rock??
  13. pain(waxing) <<<<<< pain(this hike)
  14. motivation: commune with nature, escape civilization, feel the grandness of scale, get to the damn car
  15. body: FUUUUUUUUUUUU ok but we’re almost there, almost there, almost there; man, it’s cold.

I am not climbing a single stair for the next month.

August 10, 2012

unlikely stories of children and their names

Inspired by a sign, “Stone Way” (?) — but also related to “the Los Angeles Angels” and “the La Brea tarpits.”

Wei Wei Stone lived among kids who loved language but not him, not his two, which became one, then three, then one again. Or they did like him but they liked language more and so they toyed with him with language.

“Hey Wei Wei, how much you weigh weigh?”

“A stone!”

“Look out, it’s a two-Wei street!”

His name promised greatness but his mother gave the reduplicated diminutive form. In high school Wei Wei was William but his signature was W^{2}_S. He liked thinking that his Latin name was Vevilius so he could be addressed as Vevili, like a reduplicated perfect.

In college Willam studied geophysics. He now works for Shell Oil and lives in the outskirts of Houston with his wife and two kids.

Carroty and Broccoli Friend

Carroty’s name is Carroty Friend, but only Broccoli is afflicted with being called by his full name. Broccoli Friend sheds a lot. They live on my couch.

July 13, 2012

from Alyosha Efros’s facebook

(via Vadim Kantorov)

There once was a man who said ‘Damn!
It is borne in upon me I am
An engine that moves
In predestinate grooves.
I’m not even a bus, I’m a tram.’
–Maurice Evan Hare (St. John’s College, Oxford, 1905)

July 3, 2012

minor regret

Not acquiring a pair of Björn Borg underthings.

Because when you wear them, you’re no longer bare.

[*] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjorn

Maybe this was the kind of thing that was supposed to go on on illegitimatepuns.tumblr.com…


July 2, 2012

back in the USSR

culinary highlight of trip:
Dumplings — in an exceedingly endearing cafe in Tartu, Estonia. These dumplings are virtually identical to the ones I eat at home in flavor and texture (pork and cabbage, I think), with one major exception: instead of Chinkiang (black rice vinegar) for acidity, sour cream is added.
We are all one world.

eta: I have no way of knowing whether the cafe proprietor got some of Ling Ling’s finest frozen dumplings and boiled them according to the package instructions, or if these are a locally-originated thing, but I think the use of sour cream makes it different enough to note.


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