The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 27, 2011

How Luxury is Made – A Visit to the Hermès Festival des Métiers

Filed under: shopping — Tags: , , — Brian Lutz @ 1:14 am

Although I’ve never been particularly good at dressing the part, it seems that I live in a rather fashionable neighborhood these days.  With next-door neighbors with names like Louis Vutton, Jimmy Choo and Salvatore Ferragmo, I figured from day one when I moved into this place that I’ve never had much chance of keeping up, and an offhand trip to Neiman-Marcus while killing some time one day pretty much confirmed that I’ve got a long way to go before I can afford any of this stuff.  Actually that’s not true;  I can probably find a few things at some of these shops that I could afford if I was to eliminate some unnecessary expenses like food and electricity.  Sure I’d starve in the dark, but at least I’d look really snappy while I was doing it, right?

Although I’m (currently) not part of the intended audience for the really high-end stuff you’ll find around here, it’s clear that someone is, as the Bravern hosts a number of high-end stures you won’t find anywhere else in the Seattle area, one of which is the only Hermès boutique in the Pacific Northwest.  Normally, I wouldn’t have any particular reason to go anywhere near the place, but during the past week they have been hosting an event in an unoccupied store space at the Bravern called the Festival des Métiers (which translates to “Festival of Crafts.”  In essence, this event (for which Seattle is the first stop on what is expected to be a worldwide tour, with stops in Chicago and Washington DC to follow this one) is a chance for them to bring some of their master craftsmen (and women) out of the workshops in France to their customers to demonstrate their skills, and show how some of their most popular items are handmade.  Even though I seriously doubt I’ll ever buy any of these items, I’ve always had a keen interest in seeing how things are made (a marathon of the Science Channel’s How It’s Made show can easily cause me to spend a whole weekend on the couch without even noticing,) so yesterday I made the short trip over to the Bravern to check this out. 

There were a number of different craftspeople on hand demonstrating the making of shirts, ties, leather goods, watches, jewelry, and even saddles (which is where  Hermès got its start.)  Even with all the demonstrations on hand, the big attention-grabber seemed to be the demonstration of how Hermès famous silk scarves are screenprinted, aided no doubt by the two charming French men performing the printing and providing an interesting commentary on the process.  After the jump, you will find a number of additional photos of this process, along with some facts that I picked up along the way.  I don’t think I’m going to be rushing out and buying any of this stuff anytime soon, but I will say that this might be the first time that I’ve ever found myself thinking that such high-end luxury goods might not entirely be a waste of money.  If nothing else, I can certainly see where the high prices come from, and can appreciate the effort that goes into making such goods by hand. 

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February 24, 2011

Random Thoughts: Slightly Under the Weather, Need More Input

Filed under: Random Stuff, Technology, weather — Brian Lutz @ 2:11 am

It took a bit longer than it was expected to (just long enough for the usual mess of overheated Internet commenters to whip themselves into a frenzy blaming the weather forecasters for all the social evils they haven’t already blamed on the Republican Party earlier,) but it looks like we finally have some decent snow going here again.  Although with my walkable commute it doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference to me how bad the roads are (as long as I don’t slip in the middle of a frozen crosswalk and get plowed into by some jackknifing semi I don’t get affected much by road conditions these days.)  A trip to the supermarket a couple of evenings ago means that I’ve got just about enough food in the house to make it to the Spring Thaw, and if it came down to that point I could probably walk to the supermarket if I really needed to.  For the most part I just leave the car parked down in the garage when the weather starts getting dubious these days, but I don’t actually think my car would have too much trouble driving in this weather anyway if I conveniently ignore the usual traffic messes that result from this type of thing.  The snow was also nice enough to conveniently wait until I got home from work to start, which means that most of the evening commute was done by then, and even then, it didn’t start actually sticking to the roads until a couple of hours after that.  Based on what I’m seeing out the window right now I’m guessing we haven’t got more than an inch or two.  I suppose if I wasn’t lazy I’d actually go down to street level and check, but that “if I wasn’t lazy” part seems to be the big hangup for that plan right now.  I suppose that surviving this type of weather would be the type of thing that would build character if I wasn’t conveniently staying out of it here in my high and lofty perch and contemplating whether or not I want to take the opportunity to go swimming at 2am in the middle of a snowstorm just because I can.  I think the answer to that is  probably not, since I still have to work tomorrow and even the weather doesn’t really make a good excuse not to be there when you’re two blocks away. 

Anyway, while the snow keeps falling outside, a few random thoughts:

  • In the corner of that photo is a gift certificate for a free pizza from Mod Pizza that I need to figure out some way to give away.  I won one from a trivia question on Twitter, but due to a mix-up in the mail I ended up with two.  I’ll probably come up with something in the next couple of days, so watch for this in an upcoming post.
  • You’ll probably get sick of hearing me talk about this soon enough, but the cruise is now about 4 1/2 weeks away, and to be honest I haven’t got much to wear for it right now.  Which I suppose would be fine if I was going to go spend the trip hanging out on Orient Beach in St. Martin, but I hear the dining rooms on the ship tend to frown upon nudity, so I should probably do some clothes shopping between now and then.
  • Even with the snow outside, it looks like there’s still construction work going on right now out on 405.  Of all the people who might take a day off for weather you’d think they’d be pretty high on the list as far as having a legitimate excuse goes.  I suppose as long as you’re equipped for it snow might actually be somewhat easier to work in than rain.
  • I’ve still got the leftover sheets of acrylic from the Christmas ornament project in November sitting next to the desk here, presumably on the basis that I might theoretically find some use for the stuff again at some point. 
  • About a week ago the right button on the mouse on my desktop PC decided to stop working, and had to be replaced.  It’s one of those things that just fades into the background and rarely gets noticed until something breaks, then it turns into a borderline crisis.  When you reach that point, it’s usually a bad idea to order a replacement online and go for the cheapest shipping you can get away with in order to save a few bucks, then spend the next six days dealing with a broken mouse.  Not that I’d ever do something like that…  *whistles innocently*
  • Come to think it, I’m still using the el cheapo keyboard  I bought as a stopgap when the fancy ominously glowing Logitech keyboard I had previously decided to bite the dust, and planned to replace as soon as possible.  But then that requires shopping for a keyboard, and we all know how much fun that turns out to be.  I’m really not too picky about this type of thing, but most keyboards are either cheap garbage (as seems to be the case with this one,) have “features” that do more to hinder their usefulness than to enhance it, or just plain cost way too much money in the first place.  I suppose one of these days I should really do something about this, but I’ll probably wait for this one to provide some convenient excuse to replace it first.
  • Speaking of keyboards, I’ve been meaning to pick one up for the iPad before I go on the trip so I can actually type on it, but the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to think that an iPad isn’t really the right solution to the problem I’m trying to solve here.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a device that has its purpose (and serves that purpose well) but the more I think about it, the more I’m inclined to believe that it’s a great device for reading things, but a really lousy device to create things on.  As an alternative, I’ve been looking at some of the various subnotebooks (stuff in the 12-14″ screen size range)  out on the market, and finding that the one perfect device for everything I’d want to do with one of these pretty much doesn’t exist right now, but there are some that are fairly close (particularly some of the Asus and HP models.)  I have yet to see a netbook that I could stand to use for any length of time, and the Android tablets seem to be some distance out still and saddled with high pricetags and ridiculous carrier restrictions.  This is something that’s more in the “Nice to have” category than the “Must have” category right now, but right now I almost think I’d have an easier time spending $5-600 for a new subnotebook than I would spending $70 on an overpriced Apple keyboard for the iPad.
  • If I do buy a new portable computer around now, it would make an interesting bit of symmetry.  I happened to buy my current notebook (a 15″ Dell Inspiron 6000) at just around the same time I went on my last cruise on the Star Princess back in 2005.  After six years, I’d say it’s probably a good time for an upgrade and another cruise.  Don’t you agree?
  • In the time I’ve spent writing this, most of the roads I can see from my desk here have now been plowed.  Good news for drivers, not so good news for people hoping for an excuse to skip work tomorrow.The overpasses seem to be pretty icy still though.
  • I should probably wrap this up before it turns into another Fun with Insomnia post.  If I had a bedtime I’m pretty sure I’d be up past it now.

February 19, 2011

Can You Really Get Away From It All Anymore?

Filed under: travel — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 2:54 am
Artwork from the Star Princess. Remember kids, do not try this at home.

When people go on vacations, they do so for all sorts of different reasons.  Some people want to go see new places and explore strange and distant lands (such as Montana or Sequim.)  Other people want to go out into the wilderness for adventure, scenery, and half a zillion bug bites (give or take a few.)  Still others want to cram as much fun and/or partying into their vacation as they possibly can.  This is what I usually end up doing when I’m on vacation, and although I’m not the type to go out and party, I do find I tend on occasion to just try to cram too much stuff into a trip.  I suspect part of this has to do with the relative lack of vacation time I’ve had in the past, and the short trips I’ve generally been taking as a result of this.  When I’m on vacation I seem to have this little voice in the back of my head that likes to remind me that I only have 47 hours of vacation remaining, and I’ve only been on the Haunted Mansion five times on this trip, and I should really hurry if I’m going to get another 12 rides in.  This is a tendency that is pretty much completely incompatible with a relaxing vacation. 

Then again, it could be worse.  On the Disney boards I read when I’m planning trips to the various  parks, there are a fair number of people who plan the heck out of their trips, , some going as far as to create timetables down to the minute of what rides they should be on at what times, and when they should be grabbing what Fastpasses.  While the planners are quick to point out that careful planning can seriously cut back on line-waiting and make a busy day a lot more productive than it would otherwise be, but predictably, things rarely go according to plan, and when things go off the rails, it can’t be pretty.  Unofficially, it seems that Epcot has developed something of a reputation as being the Meltdowniest Place on Earth (don’t expect to see that one in the commercials anytime soon,) and some members of the board have come to describe the conditions that can be caused by such obsessive planning by the derisive name of “Death March Tourism.”  And yes, the term has come to mind when I found myself at the back of the Epcot World Showcase after the fireworks with my feet threatening to go on strike due to unfair working conditions, a crowd of people headed for the exits, more than a mile of walking to get to the bus stop (and yes, I checked that distance,) and the knowledge that the bus back to the hotel was going to be standing room only when I actually made it there.

Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to the other major reason people go on vacations:  To get away from it all.  With all the various pressures of day-to-day living, it’s no wonder a lot of people want vacations to be as uneventful as they can possibly be.  Although I know I’m not one of them, I know plenty of people whose vacations consist of heading to somewhere sunny and tropical and doing as little as they can get away with while they’re there, up to and including nothing at all.  This is pretty much the exact opposite to how I take vacations, but I can definitely see the merits of a nice relaxing getaway.  And what better place to get away than the high seas?  In fact, the current marketing slogan for Princess Cruise Lines is “Escape Completely.”  On the surface, a cruise ship seems like the ideal place to get away from it all.  Even though you’ll be making a number of port calls along the way, much of the trip will be spent out in the middle of nowhere.  You’ll be surrounded by all the amenities you could possibly want, but at the same time surrounded by nothing but the high seas for miles around, and nothing on the horizon but the occasional island, oil rig or other passing ship.  But even on a cruise ship in the middle of nowhere these days you can’t quite manage to get away from it all.  In the modern world, it all tends to be a bit more difficult to get away from than you might think.

As of when I am writing this post, my upcoming vacation is now approximately five weeks away, but I’ve had it booked since early December.  Given my longstanding tendencies to plan vacations with relatively short notice, I generally have only weeks rather than months to anticipate an upcoming trip, and as most people who know me will attest, I am not exactly the most patient person in the world.  I’m not saying I already have a suitcase packed or anything like that (I suppose I should at least do some laundry first,) but I’ve spent a bunch of time researching various things, planning out stuff (or mostly planning stuff that I’m not going to do really) and generally just spending way too much time wishing vacation would hurry up and get here.  Having been on a couple of cruises before on one of the Princess Grand Class ships (the Star Princess) I think I’ve got a reasonable idea of what to expect, and I’ve been to a couple of the ports on this trip before as well, but  for the most part, it’s going to be a whole week of nothing in particular to look forward to.  I’ve got a couple of things planned which I would like to do, but beyond that, pretty much everything’s up in the air.

One thing that I don’t plan to do on this trip is spend a bunch of time on the computer.  I do intend to bring the iPad to use for some reading and writing, and believe it or not most cruise ships do have Internet access these days, but if the fact that you’ve got a big 950 foot long, 116,000 ton floating city full of things to do up to and (including nothing at all) doesn’t give you a good excuse to get off the computer, the exorbitant cost of Internet access (as much as 75 cents per minute for a connection of sometimes dubious reliability) will.  Oh, and if you really want you can even use your cell phone on board, but that’s even more ridiculously expensive at $2.49 a minute (and yes, there are horror stories of people getting home from their vacation with $5,000 phone bills because they forgot to turn off their iPhones when they went on their trip.)  Now there are obviously perfectly valid reasons why one would need to be on the Internet while on vacation, but there’s also plenty of reasons why you wouldn’t want to be.   The staterooms on the ship are also equipped with televisions that get a number of channels, and if a major sporting event happens while you’re at sea there’s a pretty good chance they’ll have it on the giant screen out on the pool deck (the cruise I’m going to be on happens to coincide with the first couple of games of the NCAA Final Four. )  Sure you can get away from the world, but sometimes the world manages to find you anyway.
 
Granted, this is only a 7-day cruise, with only two days that are spent completely at sea,  a round trip totalling a couple thousand miles.  For a 100,000 ton cruise ship, that’s practically a run to the grocery store.  At the end of the Caribbean cruising season, the Ruby Princess will be spending the summer in the Mediterranean, which means a Transatlantic voyage with seven straight days at sea to get there.  The first cruise that I went on back in 2003 was a nonstop repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver, with three days at sea.  Even with a giant ship loaded with amenities, I can see where someone might get a bit of cabin fever on a trip like that, especially when one is prone to seasickness.  I don’t necessarily think I’m immune to it, but on the last cruise I took, I had some issues the first night and then none at all for the rest of the week.  For the most part the weather was reasonable (if a bit rainy) on that trip though, and I’m not sure how I’d handle rougher seas, especially the ones you might run into on a longer trip.   Still, if there’s anywhere you’re going to get away from it all that doesn’t involve a campout in the Sahara Desert, that seems like as good a place as any.  I suppose a lot of this depends on your attitude.  If you come on board with all your cares and troubles packed in your suitcase, you’re obviously not going to get away from them.  Then again, if you leave them on the dock and don’t worry about things, you’ll be a lot happier.
 
Can you truly escape completely these days?  To be honest, I’m not sure, but at least the getaway vehicle makes for a nice ride.

February 13, 2011

Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup 2011: Love Isn’t as Blind as You Think

Filed under: Holidays — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 1:39 am

Valentine’s Day is coming up once again, and as seems to be the case far too often, it looks like I’ll be spending it in annoyingly single fashion, same as I’ve spent pretty much every Valentine’s Day since, oh, about 1989 or so.  Most of it is, of course, my own fault (sometimes I wonder if I enjoy being single just a little bit too much,) but I figure as long as I haven’t got much else going on, I might as well at least snark a bit about the whole thing in what has now become customary fashion over the course of the 3 1/2 years I’ve been Blogging here.  It’s not that I have anything against Valentine’s Day, of course.  I’d be glad to join in the festivities in the event that someone else was interested in doing so, but it’s not like any of this stuff is going to help with that anyway.

I don’t make any pretense of being any sort of expert on the subject of Valentine’s Day gift-giving, but I will say that by now I think I have a pretty good idea of plenty of things NOT to do.  For those of you who might not be familiar with these posts, basically what I do is go out and find the oddest, tackiest and most ill-advised examples of Valentine’s day merchandise to be found on the shelves of the various stores around here, and put together a bit of a “Do not do this” list.  I suspect that the vast majority of people reading this will have enough common sense to figure this stuff out on their own, but  even though I haven’t ever made a thorough examination of the dumpsters behind the store at the conclusion of the after-Valentine’s Day closeouts, I suspect someone’s buying this stuff, otherwise they wouldn’t keep cranking it out at an alarming rate.  Then again, love has been known to make men act irrationally, which isn’t generally the best trait to have in situations where common sense is indicated, so who knows?  Anyway, whatever you choose to do on behalf of the lover in your life, be careful out there, and when you’re being chased out the door with a rolling pin, don’t blame me.  I’m just the messenger here, OK?

So, without further ado, the 2011 Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup begins after the jump.

Previous  Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundups:

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February 8, 2011

Fun with Late Night Jackhammering Outside the Window

Filed under: Fun With Insomnia — Brian Lutz @ 1:42 am

Most of the time, living right next to the freeway is actually an advantage compared to where I lived previously.  After all, with a major 405 onramp literally right outside my window, I can pretty much go right out of the parking garage, wait a minute or two for the light to change, and be on the freeway almost immediately.  It also provides nice little animated backdrop out the window, although it has proven a bit disappointing in the weather-related carnage department this year (there’s still time though…)  On the other hand, living next to the freeway does have its drawbacks too.  Right now, this manifests itself in the form of a major construction project that’s going to completely change around the way people get to 520 from northbound 405 by moving access to 520 to a new onramp on NE 12th, and removing it from the existing NE 8th interchange.  If you’ve ever wondered where spaghetti junctions come from, this illustration (PDF) should give you a pretty good idea of what’s being added to an already convoluted 520-to-405 interchange.  And somehow, all this is supposed to make getting around easier.  If I was a traffic engineer I’d probably know why, but for now I can just take their word for it and keep sending over tax dollars.

Although usually the construction doesn’t create any unusual distractions beyond some occasional flashing lights outside the window, around 11pm this evening, someone began jackhammering.  Actually, to be perfectly honest I don’t know what the sound is (probably some sort of pile driver, now that I think of it, or perhaps a freakish mutant woodpecker escaped from some lab full of twisted biological experiments) but I do know that it’s loud, and that it’s been going pretty much nonstop for the past two hours.  I suppose that all things considered, it’s really not that bad.  It’s not too incredibly loud (most of the time) and if needs be I can probably sleep through it.  The problem is that, just a bit before Midnight, the smoke detector in my room decided that it would be a great time to start beeping every 30 seconds.  Jackhammering and piledriving I can probably abide.  Beeping every thirty seconds, on the other hand, is pretty much a guaranteed one-way-ticket to a sleepless night of looking up the name of the guy who invented smoke detectors on Wikipedia and then cursing it for the rest of the night (yeah, I know the guy has saved millions from fiery death, but what has he done for us lately?)  Anyway, I’m guessing the solution to the problem is a replacement battery, but since I don’t know if I have anything else in the house that uses a 9-volt battery anymore, the only solution to the problem is going to involve a Midnight trip to the store for batteries.

Of course, by the time you’re making the effort to get dressed back up, make the journey down to the depths of the parking garage (at least if they wanted to try to ticket my car down there it would take them the better part of an hour to make the trek down there)  and drive over to the store, you might as well do some other shopping too.  Assuming I can manage to navigate through the maze of pallets and boxes full of stuff for the overnight crew to stock on the shelves without tripping over something and faceplanting in the cereal aisle (*kkkkshhhht* Rick, cleanup on aisle 9, cleanup on aisle 9 *click*) I might as well pick up some milk, and some popcorn since I’ve been meaning to grab some.  Oh, and some onions, because I might run out eventually if I use up the stuff I’ve got on top of the fridge.  Oh, and look, they’ve got steaks on sale, might as well grab one while I’m there.  An item here, an item there, and pretty quick a late-night trip to the store for a battery turns into $30 worth of groceries.  Granted, it is groceries, which I’m probably going to need eventually anyway, but it still seems like it’s kind of missing the point.  At least I managed to actually get the battery I was looking for, unlike the times when I’ve made a late-night trip to the store and walked out with $50 worth of stuff, none of which was the one specific item I went to get in the first place.  Of course, just to make the whole exercise even more pointless than it already was, the beeping had stopped by the time I got home.  I changed the battery anyway, because I’ve never been a big fan of fiery death.  The jackhammering/piledriving/mutant woodpecker rampage outside continues unabated though, and I don’t think a trip to the store is going to fix that.  Oh well, I suppose if it saves me 37 seconds of waiting in traffic three years from now I’ll put up with it.

Oh, and the smoke detector?  This guy is the one who is credited with inventing it.  An associate of Thomas Edison, but then again, it seems like practically every major invention of the late 19th century had Edison’s name on it somewhere.

February 6, 2011

More Random Thoughts: Too Many Toys and Not Enough Time

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 12:41 am

Just a few more random thoughts I was a bit too scatterbrained to write down while I was doing yesterday’s post.

  • Apparently I spoke a bit too soon on the whole dogsitting thing last night going a bit too well.  Shortly after I got up this morning I found that Minardi had thrown up on the floor of the family room. While there’s definitely worse things to be doing than cleaning up dog puke, I don’t particularly recommend it to start off your day.
  • How bored does someone one have to be to rush over to the washing machine to make sure they get there in time to catch the good part of the spin cycle?  Granted, the spin cycle on the washer I have in my apartment is probably a lot cooler than the spin cycle I had in my old place, but still…
  • Between the 24 Hours of Daytona on Speed Channel and the How It’s Made marathon they were running on Science Channel at the same time, it’s a wonder I even made it off the couch last Saturday.  There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned endurance race to give you a perfectly valid excuse to spend six hours on the couch in one sitting.
  • Apparently there’s supposed to be some sort of a football game going on today, and everyone seems to be making a big deal out of it.  I’m thinking I probably won’t bother watching since I really can’t stand the Pittsburgh Steelers, but as often tends to be the case, everyone’s trying to sell you stuff to watch the officially unofficially non trademark-infringing “Big Game”.  During the three or four minutes I’ve spent listening to the radio this week, I noted that there have been a number of ads touting the combination of Ritz Crackers and Coke Zero as some sort of abnormally great snack combination for your assorted parties.  I suspect this particular combination resulted from a late-night brainstorming session at the ad agency where they drew names out of a hat, and decided to market the living daylights out of whatever combination, nonsensical though it may be, came out of the hat.  After all, when was the last time you grabbed a handful of Ritz(R) Crackers and thought “Man, you know what would make this snack complete?  A nice refreshing Coke Zero(TM)!”  Yeah, me neither.

  • You know, even for a mannequin, this looks painful.
  • Valentine’s Day is coming up in a little bit more than a week.  I suppose this gives me two options.  I could either: a) go fall madly in love with someone; or b)start working on my Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup post.  Since I don’t anticipate option A happening anytime soon (that pesky part where other people have to be involved tends to get in the way), I suppose I should start working on option B.
  • Right now in my living room, there are four different video games that are still sitting in their shrinkwrap unopened, and a whole bunch more that I bought, played for all of about two hours, then never bothered playing again.  Something tells me it’s time to start cutting back on my game collection a bit  At least I don’t still have a Sega Genesis hooked up to the TV in the living room, I guess that’s a start…
  • Speaking of video games, why is it that I can never just turn on my PS3 and play a game?  Every single freakin’ time I turn the thing on, it seems like I’ve got another system update that takes 20 minutes to download before it’ll let me even start my games.  And it’s not like these patches are adding  new features either.  Mostly it’s some sort of nebulous 3.5x-to-3.5×1 “Security update” stuff which, as just about anyone who reads one of the major gaming Blogs can quickly figure out, usually means that they’ve got some random hacker eating their proverbial lunch again.  And then after I download the pointless updates and try to start a game, more often than not there will be a patch I have to download for that too (which can be anywhere from 50 to 600 megabytes, and will take three times as long as it should because PSN can’t be bothered to use more than 25% of my available download bandwidth at any given time.)  Granted, it’s not necessarily every game doing this every time, but it certainly happens often enough to be annoying as heck. 
  • Come to think of it, would I really even miss my PS3 if I just flat-our got rid of it?  There’s still a few games I’d like to be able to play on it, but I’m really starting to think that the answer to that question is no.
  • Or, for that matter, my iPad?  That one might be a little bit trickier since I use that a lot more than I use any of my gaming consoles these days, but I really wish the Android Honeycomb tablets would hurry up and make it to market so I could find a decent alternative.  This is something that I’ll probably turn into a full post of its own at some point, but  the more I think about this, the more I start to think that it’s not so much that I’m really a big fan of the  iPad itself as I am of the general form factor it comes in.  In fact, I find that in spite of my efforts to be more objective about these things than I used to be, I still find it very difficult not to thoroughly dislike Apple as a company even if I do make occasional use of their products these days.  The same could be said of Sony, for the reasons outlined above.  Again, this is something that’ll probably warrant its own post later on.
  • I have no idea what’s been going on with the various Words with Friends games I have going on my iPad, but for the past few days, I’ve been hitting some really lousy letters.  Anyone know what I’m supposed to do with 3 Es, 2 Is, a Q and an L?
  • Why the heck is the WordPress spellchecker flagging “20” as a typo?  Did I forget the comma or something?

February 4, 2011

Random Thoughts: Gone to the Dogs

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 2:24 pm

image

As evidenced by the photo above (assuming it actually managed to upload somehow, the Photobucket app on my phone was being finicky so I had to try uploading to WordPress instead) I am once again dog sitting for Imola and Minardi this evening. This time it’s only a one day stint since my parents are out visiting my sister in Pullman, and the dogs are actually behaving pretty well so far. Normally around this time i’d have a week and a half (give or take a day or two) penciled in for an extended dog sitting stint coming up while my Mom and Dad cruise off to some sunny tropical destination, but somewhere along the line I got some crazy idea about actually going on this one, which means that around this time seven weeks from now I will most likely be flying somewhere over Utah en route to Fort Lauderdale, composing what is sure to be an epic Fun With Insomnia post. Believe me, you won’t want to miss this one. Actually, scratch that, you probably will. but still…

Anyway, given the choice between Blogging and watching old Benny Hill reruns on some channel my TiVo has carefully prevented me from ever acknowledging the existence of, it looks like you get this. I’m typing on my iPad again, so nonsensical autocorrected words are, as usual, the fault of the equipment. So, without further ado, a few random thoughts:

* I’m too lazy to try to figure out how to do proper HTML markup on the iPad WordPress app, which means you’ll have to settle for asterisks for now. Maybe if I find myself sufficiently appalled by my incoherent grammar and spelling later I’ll fix these.

*Ironically, the Android version of the WordPress app seems to be a lot better at handling this stuff than the iPad version. Too bad the soft keyboard on my phone sucks like a Dyson in an electrical storm for typing anything with more than eleven words in it.

*Upon checking, it turns out there’s an update to the iOS WordPress app, but the App Store requires jumping through about half a zillion hoops any time I want to download anything. And the updated app really doesn’t actually do much anything but fix bugs I never run into.

*I suppose if I was a little bit less lazy I could go grab the notebook PC from upstairs and just use that. Come to think of it…

  • (about 5 minutes later, from the notebook) Ahh, much better.    Well OK, more like marginally better, but better nonetheless.  Seriously, how the heck can anybody manage to type on one of those blasted things for more than five minutes at a time?
  • Which reminds me, I still need to try to get one of the wireless keyboards for the iPad before I go on the cruise.  I’ve been meaning to get one, but I’ve been putting it off since I’ve found that I’m slightly allergic to paying $70 for a keyboard, and less slightly allergic to giving money to Apple.  Even so, I really don’t feel like I should be taking a notebook on the boat.  Even though cruise ships all have Internet these days (for a slightly exorbitant fee, of course) I really could use to spend some time not being glued to a computer. 
  • Oh, and speaking of cruises, I’ve already booked another one, just a few weeks after the first one.  Well, to be honest it’s not really a cruise per se, just a 1-night trip on the Sapphire Princess from Vancouver to Seattle.  Owing to the vagaries of an obscure Maritime law from the 1870s known as the Passenger Vessel services Act, a non US-flagged ship is not allowed to provide one-way service between two US ports without a stop in a distant foreign port (with “Distant” in this case meaning somewhere in South America, which isn’t exactly the type of thing you want to be doing when you’re trying to get a ship from LA to Seattle for the Alaska cruise season.)  This means that even though the Sapphire Princess sails out of Seattle for its Alaska cruises, getting the ship there requires sailing it up to Vancouver, disembarking all the passengers, then sailing down to Seattle in a separate voyage with a separate set of passengers.  Fortunately that second trip is pretty cheap for a night on a cruise ship, and through a bit of a loophole  in the Princess Captain’s Circle program, I can get credit for 2 trips with just one day on the boat, meaning I’ll be at Platinum status for the next cruise I take after that.   Sure, I’ll be the fakest Platinum Captain’s Circle member in the fleet (and when I go on my next cruise after that the Captain will probably come down to my stateroom and tell me to be sure to drink my Ovaltine) but even besides that, it’s a night on a cruise ship, complete with a fancy dinner.  And it’s practically right in my backyard too.  And, assuming they decide to go, my sisters and their husbands should be along for the ride too. 
  • Aside from a couple of moderate and relatively short-lived snowstorms, the Winter has really been pretty boring around here so far.  Granted, there’s still another month and a half of Winter to go, and the only reason Punxutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow was that he was probably buried under roughly twelve feet of snow, but at this point it seems a tad unlikely we’re going to get much in the way of Snowpocalyptic disasters anytime in the remaining Winter months.  With the way the weather’s been on the other side of the country though, I wouldn’t be too surprised if when I do go on the cruise it’s 75 and sunny the whole time up here, and we hit a blizzard on St. Thomas.
  • I thought I’d do better with writing this on the notebook instead of the iPad, but the WiFi seems to keep cutting out on this one.  It’s my work notebook (since I am supposed to be working this weekend to finish up the testing for the current sprint) so I’ll just invoke rule number 1, and always blame the equipment.
  • On that note, I should probably get on to doing something a bit more productive with my time (like, for example, sleeping)and wrap this up here.  Have a good weekend, dog-free or otherwise.
  • Oh, and incidentally, there’s a lot more typos in the stuff I wrote on the notebook than in the stuff I wrote on the iPad when I spell check this.  Go figure…

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