Sunday, August 31, 2008

She's back

The Younger Daughter e-mailed yesterday and then called later in the day to let me know she's safely back in east Texas. So now I can stop worrying about the various dangers of firefighting and switch to worrying about her being in the general area that Gustav is predicted to roll through. A mother's work is never done.

Tammi put in a plug for yoga -- she had been worried about the steep terrain and higher altitudes than she's used to, but said she never had any trouble worth mentioning. She credits her yoga routine and its breathing techniques for improving lung capacity as well as helping with general agility and endurance.

(And that tool in her hand is a Pulaski.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Katrina, Gustav, and natural disasters

Through pure coincidence this week I happened to read two books relating to hurricane Katrina, one fiction and one nonfiction. The Tin Roof Blowdown, a James Lee Burke mystery, uses Katrina as background and plot element while Phyllis Montana-LeBlanc's memoir, Not Just the Levees Broke, takes a very personal look at the storm. Yesterday was the third anniversary of Katrina hitting New Orleans. Reading both I had the same reaction: how the fuck could something like that happen here?

It's a question a lot of people asked (and are still asking). Even the die-hard libertarians who have absolutely no use for the government believe that in a true emergency there is a safety net. Well, it turned out that's not true if you're poor, disabled, and/or black. Montana-LeBlanc lived in an apartment complex where quite a few of the residents did not evacuate -- they were elderly, or they didn't have cars, or they simply believed after years of living through storms that didn't turn out to be as bad as predicted that the danger was being exaggerated. They spent several days marooned in buildings surrounded by chest-deep water while helicopters flew over and ignored them. Even worse, on at least one occasion, a helicopter dropped down low enough for the pilot to look people in the face and then left -- and never came back. In the end, the tenants banded together to turn refrigerators from the first floor apartments into rafts so they could begin evacuating to higher ground on their own.

And now Gustav is rolling towards the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. This time around the various politicians seem to be a little better prepared. Mayor Nagin is claiming they know where everyone is, and that arrangements have been made to use buses to evacuate those who cannot evacuate themselves, like the elderly who do not drive. All the mortality reports for Katrina indicate that over 50 percent of the people who died last time were the elderly, and the main reason they died were they had no way to leave. As usual for Saturday morning, C-SPAN is on, and at the moment they're talking about a news article that includes a photo of nursing home residents being evacuated inland -- so maybe this time no one's going to end dying of thirst or the heat in a hospital bed.

Large Nameless Agency sent around e-mails reminding people to make sure their contact information is up to date in case they have to be deployed in response to Gustav. I am on a call-up list, although I've wondered since the day I was asked if I was willing to deploy in response to emergencies just what good having a technical writer on the scene would do (maybe The Director doesn't want to take a chance on saying the equivalent of "heckuva a job, Brownie"? LNA wants to be sure all the commas are in the right places in the press releases?). Actually, if I do get a call, it won't be to go to the Gulf Coast. It will be to head in to LNA's emergency operations center to help write or proofread press releases providing updates to the public. My name is probably pretty far down the list, though, so I don't think my phone will be ringing.

The good news about McCain picking Palin

For many years there's been a saying that for a woman to be considered seriously for the same position as a man she had to work twice as hard and be twice as good. Thank you, Sarah Palin, for providing evidence that's no longer true.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What happened, John? Did your first 20 or 30 picks say no?

Have I internalized misognynism if I find myself thinking that McCain picked Palin because, not being content to screw the country, he also wants to screw his possible VP? There's already at least one web site up ( that implies other guys find her attractive, so I'm obviously not the only person on the planet to think that way.

If McCain wanted youth and conservatism coupled with not much experience, there was the governor of Louisiana -- definitely young, definitely hard right wing and loved by the fundies, and but also definitely not so totally inexperienced as Palin. If he wanted a vagina to pander to PUMAs (who are all going to vote for him anyway), there's Condi and Kay Bailey Hutchinson and a bunch of other Republican women who have been paying their party dues for many, many years. Instead what does he get? A perky hockey mom who's been governor of a low population state for barely a year. The Republicans are touting her as having "executive experience" because she was the part-time mayor of a town where the moose probably outnumber the people. It makes no sense . . . unless (a) it's yet another move on his part hoping to ensure his defeat because he really doesn't want to have to deal with the mess he knows Bush is leaving; and/or (b) Mitt, Bobby, and the rest of the gang told him, no thanks, they had no interest in watching their political futures crash and burn with his. Sarah, however, was naive enough to return John's phone call and to be seduced by the idea of making history. (Who knows -- maybe she's positioning herself for the eventual presidency of the NRA.)

I saw Palin on one of the Sunday news shows a few months ago. She didn't totally embarrass herself then, but there was a lot less pressure on her. It'll be interesting to see how she does with the media and campaigning in general.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Politics and work

I'm listening to the roll call vote at the convention and being reminded of that old saying about there being two processes you never want to see up close: sausage-making and politics. Which may be why my back is to the television.

Was involved in an interesting conference call at work today. I've been a tad cynical about the project I'm assigned to. We're doing strategic planning right as administrations are changing, so I had visions of the document being rather a wasted effort. Apparently not. One of the people much higher up the food chain than I am, a fellow who spends a fair amount of time wandering the halls of Congress briefing various senators and representatives on one aspect of this project, says there's a lot of pressure coming from both sides of the aisle. According to him, doesn't matter who's in the White House, this strategic plan will go forward. I'm not sure if that makes me feel better about the work or not. Guess it does add some pressure to make sure nothing too truly stupid or short-sighted sneaks into it.

Update: Well, that was good theater. Nicely staged, although it happened faster than I thought it would.

Weekend plans

Dragon Con. How can I resist? Robert Englund is going to be there reminiscing about his role on "V".

Monday, August 25, 2008

A product endorsement

Behold the FURminator. This thing actually works. I just removed enough fur from one of my cats to build two or three additional varmints. And Cleo loves it! She stood there making little happy noises as I removed more fur in less time than I would have thought was possible short of shaving her. The same cannot be said of the previous brush (and I have the scars to prove it).

It comes in multiple sizes so dog owners can acquire one scaled appropriately up. I got mine from the Cat Faeries but shop around -- lots of places are selling it, including local veterinarians (which is how I first heard about it). You might be able to find a better price than I did.

Am I the only person who wonders how cats can shed constantly but never go bald?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Old fashioned snail mail and the penal system

Way back in junior high I got started on a hobby that I still indulge in: writing to pen pals. There's something very satisfying about getting actual letters in the mail box occasionally instead of only a zillion credit card offers. There are a few people I've been writing to since before my kids were born; there are others where it's only been a few months or a year. It's kind of like blogging -- some people drop into your life and you hit it off and the letters just get better and better; others turn out to be folks who write the same thing every time ("How are you? I am fine. The weather is nice. Write back soon." Or words to that effect) or turn out to be more than slightly nuts. It generally becomes clear fairly quickly if they're worth either the effort or the stamp.

People find pen pals through various mechanisms: web sites, newsletters, magazines, friendship books and slams. Friendship books (aka FBs) are handmade little booklets that people sign, maybe mention a hobby or two, and then pass on. Slams are similar, but incorporate a questionnaire -- they're like mini-surveys of people's favorite movies, colors, flowers, songs, whatever. There's a random element to FBs -- you never quite know where they're going to end up as they pass from person to person.

Which brings me to pen pals who are literally pen pals. Every so often one of those FBs wanders through a prison, or someone who does pen pal newsletters lifts names and addresses from FBs and the newsletter wanders through a prison. . . which in turn means letters from prisoners land in my mail box.

I used to write to a few convicts, and I've known quite a few other people who did, too. I always told the ones I chose to correspond with that there were 2 conditions: one was to be absolutely clear the only thing they'd ever get from me was a letter (no money, no stamps, no tennis shoes)(apparently good shoes are hard to get in prison) and the other was absolutely nothing sexual. If they wanted to chat about Heinlein's science fiction, speculate about who might win the presidential race, or reminisce about their classic car, fine. The first time they asked about my underwear, though, they'd never hear from me again. I had no problem helping them pass time while they sat behind bars -- if someone's writing letters he's not quite as likely to be causing problems for the guards, at least not while he's actually writing letters -- and I always enjoy arguing politics. If they needed wank material, they needed to look elsewhere. Over the years I probably corresponded with half a dozen guys, we chatted about books, camping, politics, whatever, and when their sentences ended, so did the correspondence.

Anyway, back when she still had religion one of my long-time pals used to correspond with prisoners on death row in an attempt to "bring them to the Lord." I have a hunch that it's more likely they just conned her into supplying them with negotiable goods for use in the prison economy, like cigarettes, but you never know. Other pals wrote to more ordinary prisoners, run-of-the-mill burglars, car thieves, and dope dealers, and weren't as adamant about drawing the lines as I was. They'd occasionally lose their grip on reality and slide into romantic involvements. In one case it actually turned out okay (the snail mail equivalent of a successful relationship through; unlikely but not impossible) -- the guy was in prison on a relatively minor charge, a nonviolent crime, and following his release was never in trouble with the law again. They got married, they had kids, and they lived relatively happily ever after for quite a few years until he unfortunately became ill and died much too young.

In most cases, of course, what happened is the convict would lay it on thick about his wrongful conviction (the prisons are filled with innocent men, which always makes me wonder just who is committing all the crimes), convince my pal to send him various gifts and money, make extravagent promises about how wonderful life would be once he got out, and as soon as those prison doors opened she never heard from the douchehound again. One pal, a divorced mother of three, actually fell for the same line of shit at least four times. In one case she actually took a Greyhound from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma and booked a motel room to wait for her True Love to meet her when he was released. He never showed. For all I know, she's still repeating that pattern. Either that, or one of the psychotic losers she wrote to actually looked her up after he was released and she's now dead in a ditch somewhere; we stopped corresponding about 15 years ago.

The reason I'm thinking about this today is yesterday, for the first time in many months, there was a letter with the tell-tale return address (e.g., Joe Smith C123456, PO Box . . . ). And, if the address wasn't a dead give-away, the phrase "Mailed from a Correctional Facility" stamped front and back on the envelope was a pretty good clue. As usual, I was moderately surprised by the high literacy levels the fellow displayed -- no mispelled words, no incomplete sentences -- as well as his chattiness. It was not a short letter. Then again, he has had plenty of time to polish his spiel. I felt almost sorry for the man. I don't know where he got my address from, but it's real clear there was no personal info with it, like my age, or he wouldn't have bothered.

He's also apparently never heard of the internet. He did the usual long, long explication on his innocence, even threw a new twist on it --the Innocence Project is working on his case. Dude, someone needs to tell you that it's now possible to type in a convict's name and search a multitude of free databases. (Thank you, John Walsh, and the many others who have helped with that.) One crime, yes, it's possible the poor sap was misidentified, had incompetent legal representation, whatever. A crime spree? With clear images captured on closed circuit TV? House packed full of stolen goods? I don't think so.

This particular case isn't quite as blatant an example of denying reality, however, as the serial killer who wrote to me from San Quentin a few years ago. He was on death row (and probably still is, given the slow pace of executions in California). In his introductory letter he laid it on thick about how he was innocent, pure as the driven snow, wouldn't have harmed a fly, had been railroaded, framed, the cops had set him up. So I Googled him. Turned out he had set a record for length of time there and number of appeals that had gone awry (one attorney died, for example, so that kicked the process back to stage one or something). His case was a textbook example of everything that can wrong with the process in terms of things being resolved as speedily as they should. No case should ever take over 20 years to drag through the appellate courts.

Bottom line, though, is it's going to be really, really hard for him to ever get anyone to believe in his innocence when the police found three bodies buried in his backyard.

[Top graphic stolen from Politits -- saw it right after I finished writing the above and could not resist.]

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good news from one of my favorite parks

Ranger Bob let me know yesterday that one of my favorite places on the planet, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, can boast another addition to the National Register of Historic Places. Apostles already boasted an impressive list of historic sites, but effective July 3, 2008, the Rocky Island fishing community was added when it was officially recognized as a unique and historically significant place. The Rocky Island historic district preserves both a type of structure and a way of life that played a significant role in the history of the region.

Apostles is so well-known for its historic lighthouses --there are six light stations within the park's boundaries -- that it's easy to overlook the fact the park also has a rich and deep history in the economic development and history of the upper Great Lakes. Commercial fishing, lumbering, and brownstone quarries are all part of the park's history.

The Rocky Island community began as a summer fish camp used by Norwegian immigrant fishermen and their families. It evolved into a summer recreational community, but with descendants of the same families returning each summer for multiple generations.

The nomination for Rocky has been in process for at least 7 years now, maybe longer -- if you go back to the original nomination of the Hadland Fish Camp, a site that is now considered a contributing element within the larger district, it's been more like 30 -- so it's good to see it finally officially recognized.

The black and white photo is from 1947 and shows the Nelson cabin on its way to Rocky from one of the other islands. The photo right below it shows that same cabin as it looked in July 2006. All photos courtesy Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, of course. The district nomination is not yet available through the National Register website, but I'm looking forward to reading it once it's up.


Well, I'm engaged in my usual Saturday morning masochism: listening to C-Span while drinking coffee and waking up. It is, as usual, Stupidity on Parade. For every caller who presents an interesting question or comment to the moderator or to the featured guest there appear to be half a dozen who spent way too many hours huffing Testor's back before they took the good stuff out. I'm not sure just who has a lock:

The Obsessed -- the single issue voters who really don't care about anything other than their own personal obsession, whether it's abortion, guns, taxes, Iraq, you name it, they'd probably vote for Osama bin Ladn if he promised to guarantee another abortion would never take place in this country or to eliminate the personal income tax.

The Die Hard Party Loyalists -- nothing else matters except they were born a Republican (or a Democrat), have voted Republican (or Democrat) for the past 30/40/50 years, and they will always vote a straight party line. The head of their ticket could be an amoral senile geezer with a hair trigger temper and a long history of flip-flopping and hypocrisy, but "My grandfather was a Republican, my father was a Republican, and, by God, I'm a Republican, too. And, by the way, John McCain is a hero." I didn't realize party affiliation was genetic, but I guess I was wrong.

The Clintonistas -- the insane cult of personality that has deified Hillary. All they can do is continue to sound aggrieved and do the "we're going to punish Obama for being mean to our girl" even if doing so means that in the process they're also punishing themselves and the country. They sound almost as crazy when they call in to C-Span as they look on their websites. Someone needs to slip those ladies some nice old fashioned Quaaludes. They've gotten so focused on the fate of just one person that they're forgetting the actual issues that supposedly made them feminists to begin with.

The Libertarians -- Bob Barr is going to lead them to the promised land now that Ron Paul is out of the picture, although you can tell they're still in mourning for the loss of the opportunity to vote for Dr. Paul in November. Bob Barr is actually going to lead his followers into raising his profile sufficiently for him to command higher speaking fees -- which I guess is the libertarian way, capitalism in action. More power to Mr. Barr for maximizing his resources -- maybe his speaking calendar will fill up to the point where he won't go back to writing his opinion column for the AJC come November 5.

And, of course, The Closet Racists -- the folks who had been leaning Democratic, but there' s "just something about Obama" that they're not comfortable with. He's smart, energetic, on his first wife, a self-made success, a man with only one house and who just recently finished paying off his student loans, . . . the ultimate American success story. What's not to like? Well, you know, "he's just not like us." Stop tapdancing, people, and face the truth: you don't want to vote for a black man. What, can't do that because it would mean acknowledging that what blacks say about racism still being a problem just might be true? Well, then find a more nuanced argument to use to justify your reasoning so your bigotry isn't quite so screamingly obvious.

Every weekend I find myself hoping the callers to C-SPAN don't represent a true cross section of the American electorate, but I fear I'm wrong.

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Seattle neon

Located close to the Ballard bridge, and really nifty -- it's a multi-parter. Not sure just where this bar was -- the SCA tour bus did a fair amount of zigging around in its quest for neon.
This Dick's is close to the University.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oregon is burning

And my kid is there earning her Forest Service wages as part of a 20-person hand crew somewhere in the Cascades. I'm going to be a bit distracted for the next 14 days. This isn't what she does most of the time, so I'm still getting used to it when she gets called out on fire details.

The kid herself is psyched. This fire means she gets to escape Texas heat for two weeks -- which goes to show just how incredibly steamy east Texas is in August if fighting a forest fire in Oregon looks like a break.

(Photo lifted from National Interagency Fire Center web site)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wish fulfillment courtesy xkcd

I wonder if the same equipment would work on car alarms? One of my neighbors drives us all crazy with his car alarm that goes off whenever there's a thunderstorm.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Corps of Engineers strikes again

Why does this not surprise me?

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Damaged by Border Wall Flood Obstruction
New Park Service Report Details Environmental, Infrastructure Damage Caused by Predictable Border Wall Flood Problems
A newly obtained National Park Service report details ecological and infrastructure damage in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument caused by flood obstruction and debris accumulation along recently constructed portions of the border wall. Damage includes severe erosion, infrastructure damage, and movement of floodwaters and drainages behind debris obstructions into adjacent deserts and, in one case, through a border-crossing station.
Although Homeland Security is responsible for oversight of the project, the Corps of Engineers did the construction work. DHS had, of course, reassured the Park Service and other interested parties that the fence had been designed in such a way that it would cause no environmental problems.

Update: Posted this on Saturday, and on Sunday afternoon I happened to catch a report on PBS's NOW about the fence. Apparently the much-touted border defense is being built with huge gaping holes in it as well as being sited several miles back from the border along some stretches. Boondoggle doesn't even begin to cover it. And, on the same subject, this is a great song. (One of these days I'm going to solve the mystery of why Blogger won't let me embed videos.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Large Nameless Agency Achieves the Impossible

A zero on the Flesch-Kincaid Readability test. Zero. Absolute rock bottom. I didn't think it was possible for anyone, even government bureaucrats, to produce a document that scores out at totally unreadable, but Large Nameless Agency (or, more accurately, its minions) did.

True, it's not the entire document. It's just one piece of it, a page, a section about three paragraphs long -- at least I assume they're paragraphs. They do seem to consist of orderly strings of words with appropriate punctuation interspersed throughout with an occasional hard return to create breaks between the blocks of text on the page. I just have no idea what they say. I even resorted to diagramming sentences in an attempt to unpack that page, and it's still effectively written in Sanskrit. The individual words are English, but when they're strung together in some sort of strange mutant mix of business school jargon and homeland security paranoia they meld into total impenetrability.

Fortunately, there is hope. There has to be some actual meaningful language hiding in there somewhere because the document as a whole scores a 6.9. Out of 100.

This is the document I'm supposed to edit into some sort of coherent national strategy report, a document that will be easily accessible by Congressional staffers (i.e., ambitious coke heads with poli sci degrees), which in turn means a document that could be understood by a mildly brain-damaged 7th grader addicted to video games. I definitely have my work cut out for me.

I probably didn't win any friends at work today if the persons responsible for this particular section of the draft were anywhere in ear shot. They're already unhappy with me for telling them they suffer from a bad case of acronym overdose, so perhaps I shouldn't have been quite so vocal with the "WTF?! A zero! A zero on the Flesch-Kinkaid! You guys did the impossible! Wait until the other editors in Creative Services hear about this one! A zero! Unbelievable. You guys set a new record for bad writing. Unreal. A zero! I've never seen writing this bad before. Wow. A zero!"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More non-news

Or, as Kate Harding put it, The Duh Truck Rides Again. What a shock. It turns out thin people die, too:

You can look great in a swimsuit and still be a heart attack waiting to happen.

This shouldn't be news to anyone -- the drug companies pushing Lipitor, Crestor, and the zillion other "ors" all designed to fight the evils of high cholesterol use models intended to look like "average" people -- but apparently it is.

I've said it for years -- you can't tell how fit or healthy someone is just by looking at them.

(And exercise will kill you -- just ask Isaac Hayes.)

Update: I thought I'd add one of my personal pet peeves: the American obsession with weight as a number. What the numbers say when people step on scales often don't have a whole lot to do with whether they look thin, fat, or somewhere in between. Two people can weigh the same thing and look radically different, even if other variables (age, height, and gender) are similar. I'm always annoyed when various celebrities will get raked over the coals for weighing X amount of pounds. A few years ago, back when she was playing Xena, the actress Lucy Lawless made the mistake of admitting to weighing over 150 pounds. It was like, WTF, the woman's a whale if she weighs that much! Well, she's also 6 feet tall. Would anyone flip out if a man who was 6 feet tall said he weighed 150 pounds? No, it would be like, "dude, what's wrong with you. Why are you so thin?" For some screwy (undoubtedly deeply woman-hating) reason, if you're female your weight is supposed to hover down there around 100, maybe 110, regardless of height or bone structure.

I could go on. Suffice to say that back in my younger days I looked forward to the day when I could relax, kick back, look matronly (I've got my grandmother's nose; I might as well accept her body type, too), never step on a scale again, and enjoy my cronehood. No longer an option -- well padded grandmothers have become an endangered species, and crones are expected to spend their free time in pilates class.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Well, I've now been on the new detail for more or less two weeks. It's been interesting. The unit I'm with temporarily was created in response to a specific presidential directive. Turns out everyone connected with the unit, from the director on down to the secretary, is either detailed or a contractor -- there are no permanent employees associated with it. It's the government's internal version of the infamous unfunded mandate, where an agency is told "Do this work, but you can't have any FTEs to do it with." Which, in practice, is often another way of saying "We're going to do some posturing, pretend that we're concerned, but we don't really give a rat's patoot if the task is completed or not so we're not giving you any money or hiring authority." (And the Secretary of Health & Human Services or Agriculture or Defense or whoever's turn it is in the barrel will get to take the heat about not getting the job done instead of the President.) If an agency can't add permanent, full-time employees to an organization chart, then it doesn't matter what you call a unit or division -- it's automatically the ugly stepchild no one takes particularly seriously.

So the agency that's been handed the job, a job that often doesn't really need to be done but someone in Washington has decided it would look good to talk about, tries to figure a way to go through the motions of complying with the directive -- and they do it by cobbling together a unit or a task force with bodies borrowed from here and there and those bodies do the best they can for a few months, produce the requisite document, which then goes off to gather dust someplace, and nothing real ever happens. And of course no one really wants to acknowledge that this project addresses essentially the same issue that the current occupant of the White House has issued multiple previous directives regarding (with similar results, documents produced that then grow cobwebs) and that our happy little group of worker bees is setting out to duplicate a task that, in slightly different language, has been handed off to at least four other agencies over the past 6-1/2 years. As far as I can tell, based on several days of internet research as I tried to nail down a specific meaning for one of the key words in the directive, so far only one of the agencies involved in this general endeavor has succeeded in producing anything tangible: Homeland Security managed to come up with a truly scary logo, a strange mutation of the warning sign for biological hazards and radiation and some other weirdness that overall looks like it was cribbed from "Resident Evil" or some other video game.

Well, actually it's not quite true that all they've produced is a logo -- the Inspector General for DHS also produced a rather scathing indictment of the agency's failure to come up with anything much beyond the over-the-top graphic, and documented quite effectively the set-up-to-fail climate that prevails when a new unit has no real FTEs, all the civil service employees supposedly running the unit are on details so rotate in and out, and the contractors come and go almost as quickly.

The whole logo thing is rather amusing, too, because an astounding amount of energy is being expended in my own current work setting to design an appropriate logo for our unit. There seems to be way too much fretting about what the cover will look like and still not enough about what's actually going into the "book."

As for the specific project Large Nameless Agency has been tasked with completing, although from the outside this definitely looks like one of those typical government ratholes (aka boondoggles) that money gets poured into and nothing useful comes out, I have no doubt LNA will succeed in putting together a nice overview of the problem, the document will clearly point out existing gaps and barriers, it will make a number of logical and useful suggestions on improvements to the existing system, the logo will not cause a cringe reaction, . . . and, who knows, maybe the next administration will actually read it.

In short, the project itself may be a waste of money and/or an exercise in futility, but taxpayers can rest assured we're all going to work really hard so it's a quality waste of money rather than a mediocre one.

Friday, August 8, 2008

It's not neon

But it's definitely way cool. Thanks to Dave at The Lake is the Boss for this great photo from Grand Marais, Minnesota.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some favorite neon

For some reason I was thinking about Seattle today. This is always the first thing I think of when someone says Seattle -- the elephant of your dreams: Harvey's isn't exactly in Seattle -- it's actually over the line on Highway 99 in Lynnwood in Snohomish County -- but I do like the sign.
This one's a classic -- can't remember exactly where we spotted it other than it was somewhere close to downtown but north of Pike Place Market.
Speaking of which. . .
And here's what the elephant looks like at night. Both elephants rotate and drops of neon water cascade down. The car wash is on a piece of prime real estate, so for all I know these guys no longer exist -- but I sure hope they're still there.
Would have sworn I had a good one of the Bardahl sign, too, but if I do I forgot to label it -- and it's been a long enough day that I'm not up to spending any more time digging through the archive.

Knowing when to quit

I don't normally think much about sports, but I do wish Brett Favre had figured out it was time to express his love of football in a different way, like maybe coaching, instead of trying to hang in there as a quarterback for another season or two. Or three. Or four. It's looking like he's decided he wants to top Vinnie Testaverde's record for most consecutive seasons of throwing at least one successful touchdown pass, and at this point that requires several seasons to go.

Packers Trade Favre to the Jets
Green Bay Makes Deal for Draft Pick, Ending Protracted Dispute With QB

The Green Bay Packers agreed last night to trade quarterback Brett Favre to the New York Jets, a final surprising twist to a football soap opera that already had been full of them.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not a good day at work

I got asked for my cell phone number. I said I didn't have one. After staring at me as though she'd just seen a unicorn or I'd suddenly sprouted a second head the project manager said these dread words:

"We'll get you a BlackBerry."

There goes my quiet time on the bus.

Friday, August 1, 2008

One idiot with a firecracker

This is what our complex looked like before one person decided it would be fun to play with firecrackers indoors.

Result? A parking lot full of firetrucks, a building gutted, and eight households homeless. I'm fine, but a bunch of my neighbors weren't nearly as lucky -- their building, a two story brick multiple-unit structure like the one beyond the pool, is totally gone.

No human lives lost, so far as anyone knows, but the fire spread so fast not everyone was able to grab their pets. Firetrucks are still in the parking lot up the hill, satellite trucks and media types in the lower parking lot, some perky blonde from the CBS affiliate preparing to do a stand-up live at 11 report close to my front door. I have no clue what caused the fire to spread as fast and as hot as it did, but it was definitely one of the most frightening things I've ever seen.

Update -- and here's the video from Channel 11.