Thursday, July 31, 2008

One More Article on Critical Mass

This one has the best reporting I have seen on the issue. It shows both sides and even has quotes from the people involved.


The Times has a Question for You!

The Seattle Times is looking for feedback from both riders and drivers in Seattle. Click here to tell them what concerns you have about sharing the road.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Less Drama, More Fun

Someone wrote my opinion way better than I did: Times Editorial on the Seattle Bike Scene

Libraryland news: New search engine the cuil

4 out of 5 librarians agree--not a research tool. Good for shopping, but not searching. I tried several searches and compared them with Google and all of the google searches were more relevant. Guess there is something to that "most popular" sites thing.

Yesterday was bike ride number 3 and I am hoping that tomorrow will be ride number 4, but we shall see.

The Boy went back to his dad's house yesterday morning and I miss him already. Teenage boys sure are messy though, and it brings it to a new level when the things that are littering the house are needle tips. Luckily with the caps on, but I think I had to raise my voice 3 times to get them picked up and it happened more than once. I went in his room last night and noticed that they were on the floor and on his desk again, so I guess I get to pick them up. Yay.

I got the LG Voyager last night which caused me to stay up way too late figuring out how to tweak it. I also spent some time this morning adding music to my microsd to play on it. Good thing I did, because the computers were freezing up this morning at work, and the neighbors were playing a really loud movie. Before going insane I turned on the tunes and tuned out the distractions. So far I am very happy with my Voyager.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Seattle Bicyclist Saga Continues

Upon further investigation, it seems that the city agrees with me that more education is needed. I haven't found a timeline yet for when they will start implementing it. I am impressed that hey are covering all the avenues of education that I could think of, and have a few more that I didn't. The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan is readily available for perusal on the web, although it is interesting trying to find specific information. The headings help somewhat and the map is great, although it isn't easy to manipulate.

I found out about an article in the paper today from the MyBallard Blog about a biker that fell over the short wall on the ballard bridge and into traffic last year. He sustained terrible injuries, including the loss of an arm and some brain damage. He is suing the city.

The sad thing is that the article devolves into a distorted recounting of the Critical Mass incident last Friday. I don't really see any connection between the two stories, other than the fact that they both involve bicycles. Many of the statements in the article aren't followed up on, either. Not impressed with the reporting.

While I feel terribly sorry for the man, I don't think that he is going to win his suit. The city already has a plan to place a separate pedestrian and bike bridge to the west of the existing Ballard Bridge (not sure how that is going to work...). They can't go back in time and change how it was done originally. He had an accident and got hurt. We all take the risk, whether we are in our car, on a bike or walking.

Seattle isn't the only city having some biker/driver relations problems; Portland also had an altercation in early July. The "funny" thing about this incident was that the driver was an avid biker and lecturing a rider that had blown through a stop light when the rider assaulted him. And the rider was a city employee of 31 years! And drunk!

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Finally Trying Feevy

I am trying out Feevy, which my internet-friend Silver uses on his blog. I thought it might liven things up a bit over. Instead of just links to other's blogs, it shows the most recently updated blogs and a blurb of what they are posting about.

The website itself doesn't tell you much about how it works, and I haven't been able to get it to upload real pictures instead of the head cut-outs, but otherwise it is fabulous and, luckily, easy to use.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

The Incredible Invisible Customer

Do you ever feel like you are invisible? That the fact that you have an account with a company doesn't matter? I banked with WAMU for over 18 years and they didn't even bat an eyelash when I complained then switched to a credit union.

While switching between bank accounts, I had a snaffu with my line of credit payment for another bank. This is my only account with them, they bought my account from MBNA and in the past they have denied me a lower intrest rate, even though MBNA had promised they could lower it after a certain amount of time.

This time, as I was updating all of my bank information for the online payment, there was a mishap. It was the day before the bill was due and I looked to make sure the payment was set. Well, it didn't appear to be--it said that there was no payer information even though I had updated it all a couple of weeks before. So I paid it. And it came out twice. $500x2=$1000 I don't usually have that much extra in my account.

So I called them and they guy I talked to said they would reverse the second payment and that it would be a day or two, which sounded about right since it only takes a day for the payment to come out--if even that.

Nope, that was a week ago. I have talked to them again since then, and while the representatives are always nice and sympathetic, they can't do anything for me. The second time I talked to someone, they told me that it takes 8 days to put the money in. Unless you have a checking account with them. So I have been broke for a week, having to use my credit card to buy groceries and waiting anxiously for the money to come back.

When I talk to the managers at this company, they make me feel ineffectual. They put on a nice front, but since I don't bank with them otherwise, they are unwilling to help me. It is their policy. I can't wait to pay them off and say goodbye forever. Funnily enough, the last manager I talked to congratulated me on my good credit and told me to call back when I was ready to buy my first house.


I called them again today, because the money still wasn't back. The first guy I talked to wouldn't let me talk and he was a jerk. He wouldn't let me speak to a manager and ended up hanging up on me. The only information that he imparted to me was that it could be up to 30 days before the credit showed up!

The second woman listened to me and put me through to a manager. He also listened to me, credited my account for the 2 overdraft fees that I got due to this fiasco. There is nothing they could do for me in the mean time, but I asked that he make sure that his staff were better educated and the website looked into. That first payment never did show up on there, although my balance reflected both.

Their initials are BoA, but I doubt they are all that different from the other big banks out there. I am just tired.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bikers Gone Bad?

I have only recently started biking again, but I used to commute that way a lot. I am getting older now (mid 30's! Yuck!) and I get new aches and pains with different types of exercises. It is frustrating, but I am trying not to let it stop me.

There was an altercation during Seattle's Critical Mass this month. If you haven't heard of them, here is their What and Why:

on the last Friday of every month in over 100 cities around the world cyclists congregate together to ride in demonstration and in celebration. critical mass has no leaders and no set agenda and people come together to ride for many different reasons.
just a few of those reasons are...
to assert cyclists right to the road, to promote bikes as a fun, healthy, viable alternative to cars, to build a greater sense of community, to get more folks on bikes, or simply to celebrate bike love and ride in solidarity with other like minded individuals and have some fun!
overall the ride is what you make it!

Critical Mass's route took them to Capitol Hill on Friday where they swarmed the streets. They ride en mass, on both sides of the street, blocking traffic, going through lights and basically stopping everything for 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Some riders are creative and will circle back to cause the delay to be longer. On Friday, a man was in the process of backing out of a parking spot when Critical Mass swarmed around his car. The bikers sat on his car and pounded on the hood. The man tried to go back into the spot, but bumped a biker while doing so. He also stepped on the gas at some point, whether on accident or in panic or anger, and bumped a couple more bikers. The bikers broke out his windows and when he tried to get away, they spit at him and assaulted his car further. He got out of the car and was hit on the back of the head, causing a gash. His girlfriend was in the car and rumors report (comment rumors I haven't been able to verify) that she is pregnant and it was her birthday. Happy Birthday! That must have been a lovely day, first the car you are in is attacked, then you get to spend the rest of the day with the police.

I try my best to be both a conscientious biker and driver. I have and will make mistakes. I see a lot of stupid riding and driving behavior when I am out there. Cars not signaling, being aggressive, bikers riding on the sidewalk, not wearing helmets and disobeying traffic laws. With all these miles of bike lanes the Mayor is having put in and the rise of gas prices encouraging more riders to hit the streets, perhaps we should be having a little more in the way of public education about sharing the road.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Yay, Watchmen!

I had meetings like crazy on Thursday. In fact, I forgot that I had even been at work when I thought back on it. I went into work on Friday, opened my email and thought, why didn't I look at any of this yesterday? Was I off? No, because I hadn't had a day off since Monday... Total brain spasm.

I also got off early on Thursday and took The Boy and Dr. T to see Dark Knight at the AMC Cinerama. We went with friend elJope and a couple of his friends. It was a good movie, but I guess I am not geeky enough to get the applause after the bat car turned into a bat motorcycle. It was cool, don't get me wrong, but clap-worthy? Not so sure.

I loved the previews though. There is going to be a movie of the Watchmen coming out in 2009.

Continuing the fantasy theme in my movie madness, we watched Beowolf last night. I hate that kind of animation. It ruined the movie for me, although I made it all the way through.

The garden is producing a lot of lettuce right now and in a couple weeks I will have some yellow zuccini and cucumbers. The pumpkins have started to form and the pickling cucumbers have just started sprouting little tiny spiny fingers. All the tomatoes are flowering, so I will likely have a ton all at once in a few weeks. The golden cherry tomatoes have started fruiting though and could be ready in a day or two.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Link-Worthy Blog

An aquaintance of mine is thick in her journey through secondary education and she is learning about all the things we want to know--green living, alternative sources of energy--and has started a blog. I quote:

I promise to bring you the latest in Alternative Energy technology as I learn it, as well as many sarcastic political jabs.

So, stop by Green Expressions and give it a look-see.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hands Up, Mouths Closed!

We got home yesterday. The Boy was still in one piece when I picked him up from camp. In fact, his A1C was a 7 (which in diabetes speak is excellent) and he was so active that they were able to have him change his carb serving size to 20 instead of 15. Yes, I know, still mumbo jumbo to you.

Since we have gotten back...well, he must be eating sugar out of the jar, because his numbers have been high. I also think he must not have gotten much sleep, cause he is a cranky boy! Or maybe it is the teenage cooties. Right now he owes me about $50 for the cell phone bill and of course he has no money, so I have put him to work. Or I would, if he would just finish a job. It is more work for me to have to chase him around and make him finish everything. :P

Guess I will have 2 cell phones soon if it doesn't improve.

He had a great time at camp, though. He was really inspired by the other campers and the counselors. I was impressed by his attitude. They were all really cool people there, very friendly and positive. I am so glad he went.

I rode my bike for the second time today. It was supposed to happen last Thursday, but I woke up feeling yucky, so I didn't. Today's ride was nice in the cool air. I love riding through Fremont and looking at the calm water of the canal. The water is just barely rippled and otherwise reflects like a green mirror. The ride was smooth but I definitely got a work out. It's about time.

Ooh, my sis has a blog over here. You should check it out! Good writing, interesting local content.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

The Little Engine that Could (That's Me!)

I made it to Spokane today with no problems. No flashing lights and I don't think I have forgotten anything... I left the direction to The Boy's camp at home, but I just downloaded them and printed them out again, so I am golden there. Picking him up tomorrow at 10am, then I get to keep him around for a week.

I got to hold my beautiful niece tonight and hope to several more times before I head back to the West side of the mountains. We had some yummy wild salmon, french bread with garlic, butter and cheese, and broccoli for dinner, then some sponge cake with strawberries for dessert.

There will be swimming this weekend and probably some bbqing. And now I am heading to bed, because I am tired!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Poor Little Car, I Mean Stove...

On Wednesday, my car and I had a little snafu. I said "start" and it said "no." The battery was dead for no good reason. Luckily, I have roadside assistance, so I called them, called work, then went in to make a boca burger. The handyman that lives and works around the house was down doing laundry. I turned on the range and started the burger, then decided I wanted to warm up my bun from refridgerator temp to toasty temp. I turned on the broil option and "POP!"--sparks flying! I gave a cry of dismay, turned it off and handyman guy came in to see what is the matter.

"It exploded!" I said--"ok, just a little bit."
"What did you do?" he asked.
"This" I said and turned the oven back on.
"POP!" said the oven, more sparks, then all the lights went dead.
"Augh!" I exclaimed.
"Hmmm," said handiman.

So, might be getting a new-to-me stove. Wish it could be gas...

And I should probably stay away from electrical type things for a bit.


Late Birthday Pics

Us :)
Originally uploaded by Srcsmgrl
Finally uploaded (scanned in, even!) pictures from my birthday in Spokane. We went to Dr. T's mom's place out in the countryside. That sounds strange--it is only about 15 minutes outside of Spokane.

Isn't he handsome?

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blogging Programs and Biking to Work

I rode to work on Tuesday! I was running late when I left but I made it on time. I rode along the Burke Gilman Trail on the way there; the canal section was beautiful and I love seeing the big, orange Wall of Death. I couldn't stop to take pictures, but hopefully on Thursday. I rode home too, but went along the North end of Green Lake that time. I think it took longer, but it is hard to say. The hills weren't as long, but they were pretty steep. The new bike is working out very well. It is nice and light, I don't feel hunched over and it is comfortable. My hands get a little numb, but it was less on the way home, so maybe I just needed to get used the the new posture.

I had a blogging class yesterday. I only had one teen, but an adult came and I had my directed fieldwork student and my teen volunteer there, so it didn't feel too lonely. I talked about online identity, compared blogging sites and types of content. A student from the UW came and talked about Puget Sound Off--a local social networking site for teens interested in social issues and change. By the end, my voice was fading, I had talked so much.

Today's class may not go too well if I can't get the internet to speed up. Last weeks class had to switch from modifying MySpace to building a simple web page using Notepad and Explorer--not on the internet. We still had a good time, but the younger kids didn't like it as much.

Another beautiful day in Seattle. Who would have thought we were even going to have a summer a month ago? I love 70 degree weather.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That

My computer class yesterday went well, with 5 attendees. I taught one teen how to build a basic webpage from scratch, with HTML and CSS. We had some trouble getting the computers to connect with the internet, but eventually it started working. Of course, everything worked perfectly over at my other branch on Tuesday, where no one came to the class... Next week's class is on blogging and likely to be less popular.

Amazon has been having some amazing (heh) deals lately. I barely missed the gold box deal on Buffy--the entire series for $89. I was so sad. But today I got all three seasons of Veronica Mars for $20 each and yesterday I got the entire series of Angel for $62. Somebody needs to take away my clicking privileges.

The gaming tournament on Thursday went great. We had about 5 participants, with a couple more kids showing up late. We got our two teen winners, but only one under 13 winner, but he was a champ. He had never played DDR before, but by the end was getting a ton of perfects. I had two older teen volunteers there and they were wonderful help, along with our Directed Fieldwork Student. I have a hard time delegating in these situations, but all three appointed themselves tasks and really followed through. I will need them even more at the finale.

The garden is looking great. I thinned the lettuces today, so we will be having a baby lettuce salad later on. I wish I had some tomatoes ready, but they will be soon.

I finally got a bike, despite being thwarted by Bike Nashbar. I even got something a little more sturdy and reliable than I would have. It is the Trek 3700 Three Series:

Now I need to start riding!

We tried to go see North Twin at the Sunset last night with my friend and her dentist husband. The music didn't start until 10 (which should have been a bad sign to this old fogey anyhow), so we all chatted at my place for an hour or so before. We watched the first band, which were ok, the second band totally ticked me off. I think they got a little too tipsy, took about 45 minutes to set up and do their sound check, so they didn't start until almost 11:30. This meant that North Twin wouldn't be going on until after midnight. I also didn't like the second band, so we left without seeing the headliner. Quite a disappointment. I finally got my old butt out of the house after 10 and I didn't even get to see the band I wanted to see. Guess I am just not as hard core as others.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Home Again, Home Again...

I am back and had a wonderful weekend. For the 4th, Dr. T and I went to a co-worker/friend's party. It was nice to hang out with librarians outside of Libraryland. We only talked about books once (I swear!). Later the teens of the house let off illegal fireworks and we got off lucky because during a break, the police came by and busted the neighbors. Then we watched the city's fireworks display over Gasworks from her front yard. There was only one tree in the way.

On Saturday I watched The Golden Compass and was sad when it was over... I need to find out if they will be making the others. I can see why it didn't do as well as it could have. Dr. T was confused by parts and I had to explain it to him. I liked it quite well though and felt they had all the important bits in there. There is a page for The Subtle Knife on IMDB, but no information aside from the year 2009, which seems a bit optimistic.

Sunday we had a going away party for our beloved Children's librarian. She isn't going far, and I am sure I will still see her, but I will miss having her at the branch. We went to Tutta Bella and had wonderful pizza, salad and tiramisu. Yummm!

The rest of the weekend was spent playing Legend of Zelda, which my sister was so nice to get for me when they had it for cheap in the Amazon Gold Box.

Today I have my first computer class. I hope some kids show up...

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Airports Are Fun

I am so glad to be going home. 10 days in California was about 5 days too long. Right now I am at the airport, typing this as a word document because the wi-fi signal is too weak.

Have I ever mentioned that I love to people watch. I have little commentaries that go through my head for every strange outfit, poufy hairdo and screaming child. There are plenty of the latter here. Maybe there is something in the water, or perhaps the let-down of regular stimulation after days in the Disney atmosphere have robbed the little buggers of their good cheer. I have not seen one happy child since I left Anaheim.

Security officers at John Wayne could take some customer service lessons from our own SeaTac officers. I have been on several airplanes lately, and the officers at John Wayne are by far the least friendly.

I went to Starbucks here, hoping to get a decent latte. I asked for a double short, my usual, and the girl says, “we don’t have a short, I can’t sell you one.” If you have a tall…doesn’t that imply that there is a short somewhere? Oh well, so I told her to give me a tall with a lot of room. So I paid the most that I have anywhere for a latte--$4.80. Can you believe it? It was too hot (a phenomenon of the Anaheim area, I’ve found) so I haven’t even tried it yet.

(The latte at the John Wayne Airport sucked, and when I was in the Oakland Airport, the Starbucks also didn't have short sizes, but the price was about .75 less)

But at least I am on my way home. I am looking forward to seeing my man, my boy and my garden. Oh, and my snake! Cleo. She has been very patient while I have been gone, I’m sure. I am sure she hasn’t broken out of her aquarium and commenced eating the mice, bugs and rats that undoubtedly live around the house.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cool from the New York Zoo!

It is so much fun to create your own wild self!

Thanks to Librarisaurus Rex