Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Christmastime already!

Because I've already finished off a carton of egg nog and our office chocolate supply is becoming populated by red, silver, and green wrappers, I've deduced it's almost Christmas!

And thus . . . time for a song:

It's Christmas in Heaven
All the children sing
It's Christmas in Heaven
Hark, hark, those church bells ring

It's Christmas in Heaven
The snow falls from the sky
But it's nice and warm, and everyone
Looks smart and wears a tie

It's Christmas in Heaven
There's great films on TV
"The Sound of Music" twice an hour
And "Jaws" One, Two, and Three

There's gifts for all the family
There's toiletries and trains
There's Sony Walkman Headphone sets
And the latest video games

It's Christmas! It's Christmas in Heaven!
Hip hip hip hip hip hooray!
Every single day
Is Christmas day!

It's Christmas! It's Christmas in Heaven!
Hip hip hip hip hip hooray!
Every single day
Is Christmas day!

Today is Tuesday

Just in case you were thinking it was Wednesday.

. . . Although I suppose some of you would easily be able to tell the difference, eh Mamurd?

Obituary for Pink Flamingos

I heard on the news this morning that the plastic pink flamingo factory is shutting down tomorrow. It's so sad! How could they ever go out of business? Everybody needs a plastic pink flamingo or two or ten in their yard. They're so stylish!

I have the urge to go buy at least a pair of flamingos. The only store I know of, though, is Archie McPhee's in Ballard. Maybe that's part of why they're going out of business: their product isn't available in enough stores!

I used to have a pair of pink flamingos, a few years ago. I got them at a company Christmas party. I displayed them on my apartment's balcony for the whole year, then gave them away at the next year's company Christmas party. My boss Tom got them and said he would stick them in his friend Ron's yard. I haven't seen them since.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Hey, look. The sun is setting!

Aren't there supposed to be clouds obscuring my view?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Boy Who Cried "Bear!"

For the past five or six years, as the economy has steadily improved, there have been a constant stream of pundits on the television and in the newspapers claiming that a crash is just around the corner.

"The housing bubble is about to burst!"

"We're headed for a depression or at least a recession or at least a slowdown!"

But it doesn't happen. The economy keeps chugging along.

When (hopefully in the distant future), these bearish pundits are finally correct, nobody will believe them. Everyone will have tuned them out. And thus all their predictions will be for naught.

But at least they'll finally get to say, "I told you so."

How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?

Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!
Vegetables taste better than donuts!

"Can't-Do-Well" Cantwell Doesn't Do Well

Usually, one of the main reasons (often the *only* reason) to keep an incumbent in office is because of the clout and power they have accumulated. So how has Washington's junior senator done in the past six years?

Maria Cantwell has worked her way up to being ranked number 99 out of 100! Way to go!

Oh wait. That means she's next to last.

At least she's more powerful than Senator Pryor of Arkansas. . . But he's only been in office four years, so you've got to give him some leeway.

Never mind that the nine other senators from the class of 2002 already have more power than Cantwell. Never mind that all nine senators from the class of 2004 already have more power than Cantwell. Never mind that this includes both Democrats elected that year (Obama of Illinois and Salazar of Colorado). Never mind all that. I'm sure Cantwell is serving our state's interests well.

That next-to-last slice of pie tastes just as good as the first slice, right?

(ht: Sound Politics)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fun with Babelfish

Can you guess what language I translated it to (and back) in Babelfish?

James Dean dean, James
I knew any you meant
James you dean, said it all therefore cleans
And I knew my life can look all is good
If I can look at it in the silver screen

You are the low-down rebel if had once were
Since you did not have the cause
James you dean, said it all is very clean
And I knew my life can look all is good
If I can look at it in the silver screen

We will discuss a low-down bad refrigerator
You are just too cooling for the school
The sock hops, the soda water
The basketball and the automobile repair store
Obtains your only matter to violate all customs

James Dean, James Dean
Very hungry and is very thin
James you dean, said it all therefore cleans
And I knew my life can look all is good
If I can look at it in the silver screen

Young James Dean, in the screen
Wants to know perhaps who he is
Along has come Spyder and has carried off the rider
And brings him under the road to the eternal

James you dean, dean,
James bought its sight not to see

You too fast down to cannot live
Too is young down to cannot die
You will fast to live
Too will be young down to cannot die
-"James Dean" by the Eagles

And the Rest

The Professor and Mary Ann

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ahh, Prison

I guess it's not just the prisons in New Hampshire that are so swanky and comfortable that people want to live there. It's also true in Germany:

A 59-year-old German man who has spent the last 34 years in jail has turned down offers to be let out, an official says.

"He rejected an offer to leave in 1992," Thomas Melzer, a spokesman for the Brandenburg state justice ministry, told Bild newspaper.

"We can't do anything if someone sentenced to life in prison doesn't want to leave."

new deodorant

How can they get away with calling it "invisible solid" when it leaves a quite visible white powder on my skin (and hairs)? You'd think someone would have looked in the dictionary before they used a strange, new word like "invisible."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Best of My Pancake

Am I alone in thinking that the Eagles' song, "The Best of My Love," sounds like a pancake?

Smooth, even-thickness, warm. . . you know?

Too bad it's about a couple falling apart, though.


'Twas turning into a sunny day, but now a dense fog has rolled in. I can't even see the transit center or the mall anymore.

Ah well. 'Twill be sunny once more, soon enough.

Does anyone have any favorite Kuwaiti recipes they'd be willing to share with me?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Closer to Home

And now to finish off the Voters' Pamphlet, for those of you in Seattle.

United States Representative, 7th District: STEVE BEREN
Old Baghdad Jim has got to go. He's part of the problem in DC, not part of the solution. Please, let's get rid of him.

State Senator, 46th District: BRIAN TRAVIS
The incumbent, Jacobsen, wants to get rid of the initiative system. I guess he thinks the government in Olympia is doing a swell job. . . I beg to differ.

State Representative, 46th Dist., Pos. 1: SEPTEMBER SECRIST
Her entire blurb is NO TUNNEL!! Good enough for me.

State Representative, 46th Dist., Pos. 2: KEITH NILS LJUNGHAMMAR
His entire blurb is NO TUNNEL!! Sounds familiar? Well, it still works for me.

King County Proposition 1: YES
Let's get the county government out of the real estate business and give usable land to people who will actually be productive with it.

King County Proposition 2: NO
More taxes for transportation goodies that the county promised us with the last transportation tax increase? I don't think so. Use the money you're already taking from us. It should be more than enough.

Seattle City Council Position 9: STAN LIPPMANN
His opponent, Clark, was hand-picked as a replacement councilperson by the rest of the city council. No matter what Stan Lippmann will say and do, he'll be an independent voice on a council that otherwise might as well be just one person instead of nine.

Seattle Initiative 91: YES
No special treatment and government subsidies for sports teams just because they're sports teams.

Seattle Referendum Measure 1: NO
Our city's latent conservativism rears its ugly head again. The city council want to abolish strip clubs. While I've never been to one, I think other adults should be able to, if they so desire.

Seattle Charter Amendment 6: YES
I've read/seen enough disaster/armageddon scifi books/movies/etc. to know that emergency planning is a good thing.

Seattle Charter Amendment 7: YES
See number 6, above.

Seattle Charter Amendment 8: YES
This will put three department heads on the same 4-year reconfirmation schedule as all the other department heads. Accountability is good.

Seattle Charter Amendment 9: NO
Ten years ago, Seattle replaced two positions which were directly elected by the populace with the city auditor, which is an appointed position. And now the council wants even more direct control. Consolidating power is a bad thing.

Seattle Charter Amendment 10: YES
This would spread out the power of who chooses the people who control the zoning laws. Spreading out the power is a good thing.

Seattle Charter Amendment 11: YES
Paperwork. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Charter Amendment 12: NO
This would let appointed council members (See Position 9, above) vote on proposing charter amendments. I think it's reasonable to only allow elected members mess with the city charter. No coup d'états allowed!

Seattle Charter Amendment 13: YES
Paperwork. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Charter Amendment 14: YES
Paperwork. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Charter Amendment 15: YES
Fixing typos. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Charter Amendment 16: YES
Fixing typos. Nothing to see here.

Seattle Proposition 1: NO
You don't really want to give the government more of your hard-earned money, do you? Have you seen what they've done with all the rest of the taxes they've collected? No? Well, that's because they're incompetent and haven't accomplished anything.

So, there you go. On November 7, vote. And be sure to vote right!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Street!!

And not thirty seconds before, either. Look in the direction of the oncoming traffic of the lane in which you are about to step as you step into that lane. Even if it's a crosswalk. Even if you didn't think you saw a car there.

Because behind that huge SUV (at a safe and generous distance) is a little, beige sedan. You lucked out this time because the sedan's driver saw you, but just think what might happen to your pretty, little, iPod-wearing head if the driver of that car were as inattentive as you!

Just a friendly reminder, that's all. . .

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Your government could be worse

You could live in Aurangabad, Bihar, India, after all.

As a solution to the high incidences of "killing, extortion, kidnapping and inter-caste wars," the city government has decided to paint every building in the city pink:

Officials say the idea of painting the city pink originated from the dominant Rajput community, who migrated from the western state of Rajasthan where the capital, Jaipur is known as the pink city of India.

"Only a few buildings (in Jaipur) bear the pink colour. Aurangabad will actually be the country's real pink city," said Arvind Kumar Singh, a senior government official overseeing the work who is also a Rajput.

With the city's 2 million residents complaining about poor quality of life and depression due to crime, officials said they had decided to paint the city pink ahead of the Hindu festival of light, Diwali, on October 21.

How's that for government inaction?

I'm just waiting for Dear Leader Nickels to try the same thing in Seattle. . .

Your government could be worse

You could live in Kazakhstan, after all.

Last November, the central bank of Kazakhstan released new bank notes with the work "bank" misspelled on them. Yeah, they don't even know how to spell their own name in their own language. In Cyrillic, they apparently spelt it "banq" instead.

How's that for government incompetence?

They've gradually culled them out of circulation, but it isn't fast enough for some Kazakhs. Language is a touchy issue there, since the last few generations were forced to use Russian in official transactions, etc.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Voters' Pamphlet, page 42

My favorite section of this election's pamphlet is the race for State Representative from the 43rd Legislative District, Position 1. Position 2 is pretty good, too, but only as spice to the Position 1 race.

The 43rd District comprises the heart of Seattle: Downtown, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, Madison Park, Fremont, Wallingford, Ravenna, and the U-District. Included are the neighborhoods that fight each other for the title of "most insanely liberal."

The current holder of Position 1, Ed Murray (D), is running for State Senator from the same district. The current 43rd District Senator, Pat Thibaudeau (D), isn't running for anything this year. Maybe she lost the primary and I didn't notice.

For Position 1, we have three candidates: Jamie Pedersen (D), a clean-cut, 37-year-old man (who is a lawyer and "community leader"); Hugh Foskett (R), a spiky-haired UW sophomore majoring in math; and Linde Knighton (Progressive), a gray-haired, round-faced, elderly woman.

So the Democrat is the status-quo mainstreamer. The Republican is the young up-and-comer. And the Progressive is the kind old lady. Or so it seems from appearances.

Foskett (R) is running on education and the environment, which certainly are not the usual conservative fare (taxes and transportation would be that, for these races). The oldest candidate, Knighton, wants to turn the political and cultural system on its ear. And Pedersen strongly hints at his homosexuality twice in his short blurb.

I predict the Democrat, Pedersen, will win 60% of the vote. Two years ago, the Democrats won 87% and 85% for Positions 1 and 2 in the 43rd District.

Oh, and what about Position 2? The incumbent, Frank Chopp (D), a friendly looking middle-aged man, is being challenged by Will "Chopper" Sohn (R), a UW junior who just happens to have the same campaign address as Hugh Foskett.

I wish the young friends the best of luck. They're gonna need it.

Voters' Pamphlet

Here's some opinion for you, if you live in Washington State. Or maybe I should make it a royal decree. . .

In any case, there's not much on the statewide ballot this year.

United States Senator: MIKE MCGAVICK.
I'd like to be able to endorse the Libertarian, but Guthrie is just too weak on defense. What does he think the federal government is for, anyway? (The incumbent Democrat, Cantwell, was never an option. I mean, come on.)

Justice of the Supreme Court: STEPHEN JOHNSON.
The incumbent, Owens, is endorsed by a long list of traditional liberals. Stephen Johnson is endorsed by a long list of conservatives, but also some Democrats. So who do you think is claiming bipartisan support?

Oh, and Stephen Johnson is a friend/acquaintance of my parents.

Initiative Measure 920: YES.
Taxes are bad. Taxes on dead people are even worse.

Initiative Measure 933: YES.
Government regulations on private property have gotten out of hand. Some landowners aren't allowed to use the vast majority of their parcels due the various environmental regulations. That's just crazy. If we the people value a piece of land enough to protect it from development, we'd better be willing to put a monetary amount to that value and pay up.

Initiative Measure 937: NO.
Electric companies should encourage their customers to conserve energy, but the government should not *force* them to do so.

House Joint Resolution 4223: YES.
At first I thought this was a pointless law, but then I realized that it will help small business owners. If this is approved, they'll be able to quintuple their tax exemptions on office equipment. I just hope nobody abuses it. . .

Okay, so I guess there were several items on the statewide ballot. Oh well.


Happy Halloween!

We have the Halloween decorations out at work now (well, starting last week). It's a couple months late per my schedule, but no bother.

Andy has two rubber skeletons by her desk. I modified one as seen below:

That's Just Not Right

Cassie's response, upon seeing me place the skeleton, was, "That's just not right."

But I say, why can't a skeleton be sexy? A little life after death!

Thunder God!

Today (Mars only) is the Holy Day of Huro, the God of Thunder.

Happy birthday, ya big lug.

. . .

Oh great. Now I have "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC stuck in my head. I do believe it was my junior high's official school song for a couple years when I was there. . .

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Don't Be Cruel, Hound Dog

Yesterday, I bought an Elvis Presley cd: 30 #1 Hits.

I like Elvis.

Buddy Holly is good, too, but he always has the same sound.

Elvis could (and did) sing anything. He had songs that were simultaneously #1 on the Pop, R&B, and Country charts. How is that even possible? Has anyone else ever done that? Would that be possible today?

Monday, October 16, 2006


Lordy, but that sweet-and-sour sauce is a downright unnatural shade of red!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Overhaul the NCAA

I was talking about fixing the college football championship, but I'd really like to completely change the organization of the NCAA. I just don't like the fact that a good football team like Boise State or Montana, or a good basketball team like Gonzaga, is stuck playing against poor-quality teams year after year.

And there are perennially bad teams, like Baylor, that play in the top conferences when they don't really deserve it.

So I suggest a system where the worst team of a region's top conference drops down to the secondary conference and the best team of the secondary conference rises up the next year to play in the top conference. This concept has worked quite well for a long time between the English soccer leagues.

This system could continue down through all the schools, and not just the top tiers. It could be set up to have vertical mobility from Division I-A all the way through Division III. Currently, the NCAA divisions are separated basically by how much the athletes are paid (in scholarships, etc.). While fair, I think it could also be fair to separate the teams based on performance.

A college could have a football team in a middling conference, a basketball team at the bottom, and a women's rugby team in a top tier. There would be no reason to rope all a college's different sports together in the same division. They could just float as performance dictates.

Since the current conferences don't have a one-to-one geographic relationship between top tier conferences, secondary conferences, tertiary, etc., the whole NCAA organization would have to be realigned based on regions.

I would propose dividing the country into six regions of 50 to 60 Division I schools. Divisions II and III are most common in the Midwest and East Coast, so those regions would have many more lower-tier conferences than the West. The top-tier conferences, however, would be equally strong from region to region. Or, at least, as close as we can make it. For example, the Northeast is strong in basketball, but weak in football, so they'd have more "undeserving" teams in the football top tier than other regions. But that's just the way it would have to be if we want it to work for all sports.

My regions are as follows: West, Central, North, Southeast, East, Northeast.

The top conferences in each region could be called Pacific, Central, Midwest, Southeast, Atlantic Coast, and East, just to confuse things. The secondary conferences could be called, um. . . , Western, Missouri Valley, Mid-America, Sunbelt, Mid-Eastern, and Atlantic. But the names don't really matter.

Each conference would have the same number of teams. This could be ten or twelve, but I think the best would be nine. That way, a football team could have eight conference games (which is how many the Big Ten currently has, for instance) and four non-conference games, and play all the teams in their conference. A basketball team could have sixteen conference games (which is how many the SEC currently has, for instance), and twelve or however many non-conference games, and play all the teams in their conference twice.

The West Region would have 126 teams, the Central 121, North 197, South 117, East 152, and Northeast 333.

The West Region would be divided into fourteen conferences in six tiers (grouped 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 4). The Northeast Region, on the other hand, would be 34 conferences in seven tiers (grouped 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 8, 16). The first four tiers of each region would be equivilent to Division I. (Central would be 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 4; North 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 4, 8; South 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 4; East 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, 8.)

At the third tier, the region would be divided in half geographically into two equal-level conferences. The same would happen when those divide to 4, 8, or 16 in a region. For each pair with one "parent" conference, both champions would rise to the higher tier. The bottom two from the "parent" conference would be dropped down. If the teams from the "parent" conference happen to be from the same mini-region, the dividing line between the two mini-regions would shift to keep the conferences even. Potentially, a geographically middle college would switch back and forth between the mini-regions from year to year, but I think that's a minor drawback. They'd have marginal ties to either group, anyway.

The top-tier Pacific football conference, using the way things stand now, would include all the Pac-10 except Stanford. Colorado would also get bumped to the second-tier Western football conference. Those two would be playing against schools like Boise State, Idaho, Hawaii, Air Force, BYU, Utah, and Colorado State. I think Boise State would quickly rise up to the top-tier conference and not look back. Perhaps Arizona would fall down and stay awhile in the Western. And Idaho might just lose and go down to play with Montana or North Dakota.

The top-tier Pacific basketball conference, however, would not include Washington State or Arizona State, but would include Colorado. Gonzaga would start in the third-tier conference, just for tradition's sake, but they'd probably nose out Oregon State or someone for a permanent spot at the big kids' table.

So that's how it might look if this plan were inacted. But do I really think the schools would even consider this plan if I could get it in front of them? Not really. But I can dream, can't I?

Friday, October 13, 2006


Bituminous! Bituminous! Bituminous!


For weeks, I've had less and less stuff to do at work. I would mention this every Monday-morning meeting. I'd help out on other projects and still have time to clean my desk.

My desk is now messy again. This week, my bosses threw six new projects my way (at least partially my way). So now I have plenty to think about.

I might be even too busy to get them anything for Bosses' Day on Monday. . .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Scrap the BCS

As far as I'm concerned, the method used by the NCAA to pick a college football champion is fatally flawed. Division I-A football is the only college sport to not have a tournament. The other sports have national tournaments. The other football divisions, I-AA on down, have national tournaments. So why not Division I-A football?

Tradition, really, is the only explanation. The colleges have a long tradition with the bowl system, and they don't want to cut their friends loose. And rightly so.

But I think I have a solution that can give us the tournament we need without throwing out the bowl system we want to keep.

The major problems with the current system are that not enough deserving teams get a shot at the championship and that the non-BCS-6 conferences are penalized for not being big and rich. This year, the BCS is switching from eight to ten teams, but still only two have a shot at the championship; and they're making it an automatic berth for a non-BCS-6 conference champion team in the top 12 as opposed to the top 6 as they had it before. But that still doesn't give them a chance at the title.

The system that I will explain below solves both of the two problems by including every conference champion and essentially the top twelve teams ranked in the polls. No longer will a #3 team be on the outside looking in at the trophy game. No longer will a zero-loss or one-loss team from a mid-major conference be complaining all winter and spring.

In this system, there would be a tournament of sixteen teams. Each of the eleven conference champions would have automatic berths. The other five berths would be selected by a committee and would essentially be the top five teams in the polls who weren't conference champions.

Using the 2005 season as an example:

Southern Cal*
Penn State*
Ohio State
Notre Dame
Miami, Florida
West Virginia*
Texas Christian*
Florida State*
Boise State*
(* denotes conference champion)

On the Saturday after the conference championships (eg December 10, 2005), the top eight conference champions would host the other eight teams.

Louisiana-Lafayette* (16) at Southern Cal* (1)
Akron* (15) at Texas* (2)
Boise State* (14) at Penn State* (3)
Auburn (9) at Georgia* (7)
Miami, Florida (8) at West Virginia* (10)
Notre Dame (6) at Texas Christian* (11)
Oregon (5) at Florida State* (12)
Ohio State (4) at Tulsa* (13)

It may seem unfair that a high-ranked team like Oregon or Ohio State has to travel to Florida or Oklahoma, but the way I see it, if they couldn't win their conference, they're lucky to be in the tournament at all. And Notre Dame? It's time to suck it up and join a conference. No sympathy here.

The quarterfinals, semifinals, and national championship game would all be bowl games. In addition to the wealthy BCS four (Fiesta, Sugar, Orange, and Rose), I would include the three bowls with the next largest current payouts. These are the Capital One (Florida Citrus), Cotton, and Outback.

Since the Rose and Orange have the longest histories, I have kept them both on January 1 as the two semifinal games. The national championship game would either alternate between the Fiesta and the Sugar, or rotate between all five of the remaining bowls.

In the quarterfinals, the top four winners (as ranked by the committee) of the first round would play the lower four. The matchups would be located in the bowl game that makes the most geographic sense when considering all of the top four teams. The westernmost top-four team would play in the Fiesta, the next-most-western team would play in the Cotton, and so on. In our example, these games would have taken place on Saturday, December 17, 2005.

Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, Ariz.): USC (1) vs. TCU (8)
Cotton Bowl (Dallas, Texas): Texas (2) vs. West Virginia (7)
Capital One Bowl (Orlando, Flor.): Penn State (3) vs. Georgia (5)
Outback Bowl (Tampa, Flor.): Ohio State (4) vs. Oregon (7)

The higher-ranked teams would have games relatively close to their fan base, thus increasing ticket sales (and that's what it's all about).

In the semifinals, the four teams would be re-ranked and matched up similarly to the quarterfinals. In our example, these games would take place January 1, 2006.

Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.): USC (1) vs. Georgia (4)
Orange Bowl (Miami, Flor.): Texas (2) vs. Ohio State (3)

The national championship game would take place on a good day approximately a week later (January 9, 2006).

Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, La. (in Atlanta that year)): USC vs. Texas

And thus, everyone gets their shot at the crown. High-ranked conference champions (Southern Cal, Texas) have favorable schedules without much travel (home, Tempe, Pasadena; home, Dallas, Miami). High-ranked non-champions (Ohio State, Oregon) have tougher schedules with more travel (Tulsa, Tampa, Miami; Panama City (Florida), Tampa, Pasadena).

A mid-ranked conference champion will have the reward of a home game in the first round, but it will be against a tough opponent. A low-ranked conference champion won't even have the home-field advantage, but at least they're at the dance, and I'm sure the Ragin' Cajuns would want that opportunity.

Inattentive Driving

Or perhaps I should call it Ignorant Driving? Do you think people who drive slow in the left and middle lanes when there's plenty of room for them to move right are ignorant of the laws or are they just not paying attention?

I wrote an email to the Washington State Patrol earlier this week:

How often is the "Keep Right Except to Pass" law enforced? It seems like a lot of congestion and dangerous situations on the highways are caused by slow cars in middle and left lanes. I've never heard of anyone receiving a ticket or even a warning for this violation.

I recived a quick reply:

Thank you for your inquiry to the Washington State Patrol.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) takes dangerous driving very seriously, and is dedicated to enforcing all traffic safely laws in order to increase public safety on our highways.

The WSP has numerous programs we use to assist us in educating and enforcing the laws on our highways such as our online reporting tool for citizens to report aggressive driving and unsecured loads. These programs allow citizens to notify us about violations in specific locations to determine where hot spots are so we can then focus our enforcement in those areas. Last year alone, the WSP contacted over 4,700 left lane violators, over 9,000 right-of-way violators, over 10,500 HOV violators, and 56,000 aggressive drivers. We will continue to enforce theses laws, and more importantly educate drivers on the laws so that they can make the right decisions.

We are always looking for input and new ideas to increase awareness for safe driving issues. Please feel free to volunteer your ideas to increase the safety of the citizens utilizing the roads of Washington.

If we may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to write or call.


WSP Webmaster

So that's 4,700 people who didn't keep right and 56,000 agressive drivers. When you drive the freeways around Seattle, though, you'll see that inattentive/ignorant drivers are about 100 times as common as agressive drivers (an honest scale-of-magnitude estimation).

So if the state patrol "contacted" 56,000 agressive drivers, they should have contacted 5,600,000 ignorant/inattentive drivers -- not the 4,700 they actually did "contact."

That's a bit of a difference, don't you think?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Today is October 10, and do you know what that means?

It's time to put up your Christmas decorations!!



I'm now halfway done going back through my old posts and adding tags to them. 412 out of 824. See the list at the bottom of the sidebar.

I've written a lot on this blog thing. I'm entertaining myself by re-reading what I posted long ago (well, I'm only back to March of this year...).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Memento Gone

I had a small shard of plastic at my desk. It was a memento from my Europe trip last year. When I shipped stuff home from Dubrovnik, I included my guidebook pages from Greece. In transit, the box split open and the guidebook pages fell out. The plastic shard fell in. Or perhaps the one transmuted into the other. I'll never know.

But the plastic shard is now gone. Did the cleaning crew throw it out, thinking they were doing me a favor? Did a coworker pick it up and forget he had it with him as he walked away? The shard was sitting right beside the little rock that came through my driver's-side window while driving on I-5 last year and hit me in the shoulder. Why'd they take the plastic shard and not the rock? If it was the cleaning crew who threw it out, why didn't they think these two objects were related, equal in importance? More than likely, I'll never know.

It just looks wrong now, to just have the rock.

Memento gone.


"Do you like children?" I asked.

The tall, blond man smirked and replied, "Yes, with a nice hollandaise. Yum yum."

I glanced down at my platter of condiments and pulled out the closest I could find. "How about ketchup? You like ketchup?"

The blond shrugged. "Meh. It'll hafta do." He yanked the glass bottle from my hand and immediately proceeded to race off across the soccer field, right at the two teams of eight-year-olds.

"Ha-ha-ha-ha!!" he cried.

"Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" the kids screamed as they scattered.

The ref blew his whistle and held up his yellow card.

The tall blond clocked the ref on the back of the head with his ketchup bottle as he charged past. The ref crumpled to his knees then pitched fowards onto his face.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Song from Summer Camp

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your right hand."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your left hand."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your right foot."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your left foot."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your butt."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your forehead."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "No."
He said, "Push this button with your tongue."

Hi, my name is Joe and I work in a button factory.
I’ve got a wife and a dog and a family.
One day, my boss came up to me and said,
"Joe, are you busy?" I said, "Yes!"

IgNobels Announced!

The IgNobels are alternative prizes for scientists whose research isn't deemed serious enough for the Nobel committee, but still is pretty interesting stuff. This year's winners include:

Two Australian researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO) have won an IgNobel for their research on how many photos you need to take to ensure that nobody in a group photo has their eyes closed.

Ivan Schwab, of the University of California Davis, and the late Philip May, of the University of California Los Angeles, have won the ornithology prize for their pioneering work on the ability of the humble woodpecker to avoid head injury.

Wasmia Al-Houty, of Kuwait University, and Faten Al-Mussalam, of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, have taken home the nutrition prize for showing that dung beetles are in fact finicky eaters.

Francis Fesmire, of the University of Tennessee, has been awarded the medicine Ig for his report Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage.

Physics laureates Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch of Paris University are to be honoured for their insights into why dry spaghetti tends to break into more than two pieces.

Howard Stapleton of Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, has been awarded the peace prize for inventing an electromechanical teenager repellent. The device makes an annoying noise designed to be audible to teenagers but not to adults. He later used the same technology to make telephone ringtones that are audible to teenagers but not to their teachers.

Three US scientists - Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand - have been awarded the acoustics prize for conducting experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.

While the conclusions of a group of scientists from Valencia University and the University of Illes Balears in Spain are not immediately clear, the judges have deemed their study Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature worthy of the chemistry prize.

Also honoured for cheese research, Bart Knols from Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands has won the biology award for his part in research showing that female malaria mosquito are equally attracted to limburger cheese and human feet.
The scientists take this award seriously nowadays, with 8 of this year's 10 recipients flying to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the ceremony.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Hobby

I just had a great idea. You know how people sometimes use the strangest search words to find my/your blog? Wouldn't it be fun to do searches for random phrases and then click on the links to the blogs that have nothing to do with those phrases?

F'rinstance, at blogger.com, I did a search for "potatoes of death," except I didn't put the phrase in quotes, so it pulled up every recent blog post with "potato" and "death" even though they aren't together in the same phrase.

So if one of those bloggers is perusing his or her site meter, he or she will have a head-scratcher at why anybody could possibly be searching for potatoes of death. Cool, huh?

The only problem now, though, is that this very post will now be tops for "potatoes of death"!

Midday Malaise

I am quite ready to go home for the day. Why must work be such a drag sometimes?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Yay! Today Blogger let me switch to Beta! I haven't changed the template yet, so it's still old school officially, but at least I can add some labels and I wonder what this is going to look like. . .

UPDATE: I changed it all to the new template. Look at the Archive! ---->

And another: I've added labels to my most recent 150 posts. So play around where it says "Index" below here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dry Falls

Last weekend, I went to Dry Falls in eastern Washington on a Mountaineers outing. We spent two nights in cabins at Camp Delany in Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park. Very basic amenities, but the scenery made up for it.


I went on a short dayhike on Saturday, wandering around the bottom of Lower Grand Coulee, up and over a gap in Umatilla Rock, halfway up Dry Falls, over to Green Lake, and to another viewpoint above Meadow Creek, and back to camp.



Green Lake didn't drain anywhere, so there was muddy salt flats around the edge. And it wasn't very green, either.

A short drive took us up to the visitors' center at the top of the cliffs.


For those of you who don't know, Dry Falls and the surrounding terrain of coulees and channels were created by repeated catastrophic floods at the end of the last ice age. The cliffs in the picture above are 400 feet tall. Try to imagine 300 feet of water flowing over them.


The floods left boulders scattered all across eastern Washington and even some in the Willamette valley of Oregon, south of Portland. The boulders were most likely stuck into icebergs from the disintegrating glaciers and just floated along top of the floodwaters.

On Sunday, we drove back via SR 20 through the North Cascades. We stopped at Washington Pass. The road to the lookout was closed for the winter already, so we had to walk the half mile.


My parents have a picture from this viewpoint, with Liberty Bell Mtn (above) in the background, of me as a kid clinging to a tree that looks like it's hanging over a cliff, but my sister is standing in midair beside me. I couldn't find that tree. Maybe it died or was removed for handrail construction. Or maybe I just couldn't figure out which three-foot cliff it was on.

The larches were quite yellow up there, but none of them are near the road, so I only have distant shots.


A little bit down the road is Diablo Lake.


I remember, from probably that same family vacation, the four of us renting a motor boat on this lake. On the way back, my parents let me steer. I recall driving at full speed through the narrow channel between the little rock islands in the bottom left of this picture. All my mom could say was, "Mark, Mark, Mark, Mark!" I made it through just fine, thank you.

The drive back to Seattle was stop-and-go in Everett, of course, but we made it home in time for about 45 minutes to unpack and clean up before it was time to go eat Mongolian food and watch The Amazing Race. Yum yum.


I was all ready to switch to Blogger Beta when I realized that I don't have that option. It's only available to a portion of blogger accounts currently, and apparently I'm not one of them. )-:

I thought for sure I'd seen that link last week.

La Lune!

When you see the moon this evening, make sure to sing her the following song (to the tune of London Bridge Is Falling Down):

La la la, la lune est là,
Lune est là,
Lune est là.
La la la, la lune est là,
Lune est là!

Because it's Her holy day, after all.

Monday, October 02, 2006

World Alphabets

Here's a map of the world's writing systems, as found on a site called World Standards:


The Amazing Race, in its first four episodes this season, has gone to three different East Asian countries: China, Mongolia, and Vietnam. Judging by the scenery in the previews for next week, I think they're going to Thailand next.

Do you know what I notice about those four countries that would make travelling between them disorienting? They all use different methods of writing. So as soon as the racers start to be able to read the Cyrillic alphabet in Mongolia, they're sent to Vietnam, where it's the Roman alphabet, but with all sorts of accent marks and specialized pronuncications of consonants. And then once they start to figure *that* out, they're packed off to Thailand, where the Thais have their own alphabet that's not used anywhere else.

Compare this to how all other seasons have gone, where the racers start in South America or Western Europe.

Bright Yellow

Am I just going crazy, or has somebody repainted the parking stripes on the Northgate south parking lot? Aren't they supposed to be tearing it up?

... Maybe they just cleaned it. Odd.