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July 30, 2006

Cheated Death For Another Week

I'm still alive, and sadly haven't yet popped by skydiving cherry. Bonnie and I drove two hours just to hang around a hangar for two hours waiting for the cloudy skies to clear up. The clouds were not cooperating and the jump was cancelled. What annoyed me was that the instructors didn't tell us that the weather was a factor until after we paid. According to the contract we had to sign, there were no refunds, only reschedules, for bad weather. So we're signed up for next Saturday, weather permitting. This time, we're calling ahead to see if the weather in Toledo is more conducive to jumping out of an airplane.

21:10 | Stuff | Comments (1)

July 28, 2006

12,000 Feet And Dropping

Tomorrow Bonnie and I are traveling to Toledo, Washington. Well, more accurately, 12,000 feet above Toledo. For her birthday last year she was given a gift certificate to go skydiving, and guess who get to come along.

I'm not afraid of heights, but I do have a totally irrational fear of falling out of an airplane to my death, so I'm a little nervous about it. Almost everyone I talked to who had done it thought it was the most incredible, exhilarating experience in their lives, and 100% of those people are currently alive, so I like those odds.

I assume we'll be doing a "tandem" jump, where an instructor is strapped to your back and they actually pull the chute open. A coworker asked me if I would be uncomfortable with a man strapped so snugly to my backside. I told him that if I was going to fall to my death, I would want someone strong to hold me.

I'll be sure to blog about my experience when I get back. If you don't hear from me by Monday, it was great having you as a reader.

08:17 | Stuff | Comments (0)

July 26, 2006

By Doremus Jessup, Newspaper Editor

The tyranny of this dictatorship isn't primarily the fault of Big Business, nor of the demagogues who do their dirty work. It's the fault of Doremus Jessup! Of all the conscientious, respectable, lazy-minded Doremus Jessups who have let the demagogues wriggle in, without fierce enough protest.

From It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis.

08:00 | Quotes | Comments (0)

July 24, 2006

It's Too Hot Today

Seattle is in the midst of a week-long heat wave that should (blessedly) be breaking early this week. Although many parts of the US and Canada are in worse shape than our measly 90+°F (32+°C) with a mere 50% humidity, Seattle is woefully unprepared for any kind of humidity, let alone above-room temperature heat. Few apartments have air conditioning, and the apartments with nice views (including mine) are west-facing, which bear the brunt of the afternoon sun.

It's a curious thing to see Seattle residents in oppressive heat. On the one hand, we don't want to squander the few precious days of sunshine a year, but on the other, it's too damn hot to be in the sun. So many people end up doing almost exactly what they would normally do, that is sit around coffee shops, drinking iced versions of their regular espresso drinks.

Bonnie and I spontaneously decided to see an afternoon showing of Thank You For Smoking for the opportunity to get out of the heat (incidentally, a movie I highly recommend).

Saturday was the annual Microsoft Company Picnic. This was my fifth picnic, so I was less than enthused about taking part in the sweat-generating activities, and having just gotten back from Vegas, the fake casino didn't have the usual allure. That is not to say we didn't have a good time. The group of us took part in one of my favourite activities: sitting in the shade drinking beer and eating ribs.

It's now Sunday night, I'm covered in sweat, and I'm really looking forward to going to the air conditioned office tomorrow. In fact, I may even show up early.

00:00 | Seattle | Comments (1)

July 20, 2006

Technical Difficulties

I upgraded my blog software to Movable Type 3.31 the other day, and it unfortunately didn't go so smoothly. If any of you loyal readers experience any problems reading, searching, or commenting on my blog, please drop me a note so I can get it fixed.

Oh, and if any of you know how to fix the following error message, I'd appreciate it (I get it when I try to view comments):

maketext doesn't know how to say: _USAGE_COMMENTS_LIST as needed at lib/MT.pm line 917

Update:: fixed the problem. I forgot to copy over the MT\tmpl directory.

08:19 | Blog , Nerd | Comments (1)

July 18, 2006

Broke Even (Not Broke, Even) In Vegas

I got back from Vegas safe, unmarried and not broke. I won $135 on blackjack on Friday night and slowly lost it over the next two days, essentially breaking even. I stuck with blackjack mostly, but tried Pai Gow Poker (a great way to make $20 last an hour) and craps. It took me a couple rounds to figure out the jist of craps, but I think I can summarize it like this: you put money on the table, someone rolls dice, and then they take your money away. I'm a quick learner, and after dropping $40, realized I could skip the first step and save myself a lot of grief.

We stayed at the fabulous Tropicana Hotel on the strip, with an excellent view of the MGM Grand's video billboard advertising a Howie Mandel show. Between those ads and the ads for Carrot Top, it became clear that Vegas is the place where bad comedians go to die.

It was 115°F (46°C) the whole weekend, so we spent a good chunk of Saturday at the pool, drinking weak fruity drinks from plastic football-shaped jugs. We caught a "rock" show that night (note to producers of "Erocktica": the song "It's Getting Hot In Here" is not rock).

Sadly most of the fine establishments we patronized didn't allow photographs to be taken (I'm talking about the casinos, what were you thinking?), so I didn't end up taking many photos all weekend.

Overall, a great weekend of booze, gambling, my first steak dinner of 2006, and most importantly, no trips to the desert to bury a dead hooker.

07:20 | Stuff | Comments (3)

July 13, 2006

100 Dollars On Black

Tomorrow I hop on a plane and leave overcast Seattle for fabulous Las Vegas to celebrate the last shreds of Shawn's bachelorhood. As some of my long-time readers (namely, my mom) may remember, I last took a trip to Vegas three years ago, and I'm expecting this experience to be a little more wild (despite the fact Siegfried and Roy are no longer performing).

Assuming I haven't hawked my plane ticket home, or drunkenly got married to a half-silicone waitress in a drive-thru chapel, I'll have a full report and photos early next week.

22:20 | Stuff | Comments (1)

July 9, 2006

Happy Toes

Happy Toes

(No, these aren't my toes.)

20:47 | Stuff | Comments (1)

July 8, 2006

Mr. Glitch's Retirement

I was walking down my street last night when I was confronted face to face with an enemy from the past. There, a metre tall, is the face of the ill-tempered Mr. Glitch, who will eat you if you are wrong. For those of you who didn't watch Square One Television, it was my favourite math-themed TV show as a child. Mr. Glitch was Mathman's arch-nemesis in a math-related PacMan-ripoff videogame. So what was he doing plastered on the side of a bus in Seattle?

It looks like since finally defeating his life-long enemy Mathman (who was finally eaten after guessing 9 was prime), Mr. Glitch's life has been somewhat devoid of purpose. With no big football helmet to grumble at, Mr. Glitch has moved out of the math business altogether and became a spokesperson for Beacon Plumbing.

The Ill-tempered Mr Glitch Beacon Plumbing Mascot

22:22 | Nerd , Seattle | Comments (3)

July 6, 2006

Birthday Gifts For W

Prime Minister Harper will be presenting President Bush with some authentic Canadiana for his 60th birthday, in the form of a belt buckle and a genuine Mountie Stetson.

These gifts will probably be more appreciated than former PM Martin's gift of an Inuit sculpture, valued at $350, or Chrétien's fantastic wooden pen rest, valued at approximitely $20.

Wow, a pen rest... I wonder if Jean forgot it was George's birthday and picked it up at the airport.

00:26 | America , Canada , Politics | Comments (0)

July 2, 2006

Worst Synopsis Ever

Last Wednesday, our division at work was treated to an advance screening of Superman Returns. Although not a great movie, my expectations were low, so I wasn't disappointed. The best part of the movie was Kevin Spacey's Lex Luthor.

Surfing the web, I happened to stumble on this Australian News.com review of the movie. The review itself it fine, but the synopsis at the top of the page was clearly written by someone who had never seen the movie, and apparently pieced together the plot from a game of broken telephone (my comments in italics).

In this sequel to the first two films, Superman returns to Earth after having been missing for six long years.

Actually, it was five years, but who's counting?

What he finds astounds him - the world he knew has changed for the worse. In his absence, the forces of evil have regrouped like never before.

Here's where the synopsis goes way off the mark. Superman returns alright, but the forces of evil have not regrouped, and the world is just about as he left it.

Even Lex Luthor, once an outcast, has risen to the heights of power in Metropolis.

If by "outcast", they mean "inmate" and by "risen to the heights of power" they mean "swindled some old rich lady out of her fortune", then yes, that statement is correct.

And when an old enemy from Krypton reappears, Superman must fight his neverending battle like never before, amidst a world that has forgotten what it's like to have a hero.

Nope, no old enemy from Krypton. The only other character from Krypton is Jor-El, in the form of Marlon Brando's recycled footage from the first film.

About the only thing this synopsis got almost right, is that this movie picks up after the first, not the second, Superman film (unless Lois has a terrible memory about Superman's secret identity) second film (my mistake, I forgot Superman invoked the rarely-used Super kiss to make Lois forget), and thankfully ignores Superman's misadventures with Richard Pryor, and his epic battle against Nuclear Man.

12:02 | Entertainment | Comments (1)

July 1, 2006

Canada Day Mixed Bag

The nice thing about getting the 4th of July off work, is that it usually shares a weekend with Canada Day. So today, after dropping Bonnie off at the airport (she's going back to New Mexico for a wedding), I'm kicking back. Sadly, good Canadian food is hard to find around here (no peameal bacon, no Creemore, although one of the Microsoft cafeterias was serving poutine on Wednesday), so I had my customary swig from the maple syrup bottle, for that little taste of home.

So far, 2006 has been an interesting year for Canada. The planned terrorist attack in Toronto, complete with threats to behead the Prime Minister, had me shaken up, and I was relieved the plot could be foiled before anyone was hurt. South of the border, the news didn't get much attention. Most of my peers either hadn't heard of it, or didn't care. I just hope Canada can handle the situation without the government taking illegal measures, like what's happening here.

Also, today is the day the much-hated GST is reduced by a percentage point. I must say, paying the measly 8.8% sales tax here in Washington State has spoiled me.

Well, back to my weekend of house parties, barbeques and fireworks. Happy Canada Day!

11:31 | America , Canada | Comments (1)