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Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 5-11

October 2nd, 2008

Just a reminder that next week is Mental Illness Awareness Week.  Please take the time to tell your friends and family, “Wow, you are totally fucked up.  Thought you should be aware of it.”

Little bundles of joy

July 28th, 2008

Coming to work this morning, I stopped to watch a semi driver try to get his VERY large trailer into the alley behind Smith Tower.  Tight squeeze to be sure, especially with the pretty Lexus parked out on the side of the street.  The semi driver seemed very confident, the owner of the Lexus, coming onto the scene partway through the exercise, seemed less confident.  He stood by with his four little girls watching the semi go back and forth, back and forth, getting ever closer to the hood of his car.  It got a bit tense for a while there, but the semi driver finally earned his pay and completed the turn.  The Lexus owner wiped his brow and pressed the Unlock button on his remote.  One of the little girls dutifully scampered up to the car, yanked open the door …

and smashed it into a lightpost.

Big brother is listening, and so is everyone else

June 3rd, 2008

Last night on the bus, the girl across the aisle from me was having a relatively loud phone conversation. This is not uncommon, unfortunately, but this instance was particularly interesting. The girl was merely setting up a massage appointment for a friend of hers, but what’s interesting is the amount of information that was tossed around.

Had I bothered to write this stuff down, I’d now know:

  • This girl’s name and phone number
  • The general areas in which she lives and works, based on her bus stops
  • The friend’s name, conveniently spelled for me
  • The friend’s phone number
  • The general area in which the friend lives, “Oh, that’s perfect, she lives right near X”
  • The name and location of the massage business where the friend will be, and what kind of services she’ll be getting, on June 22nd at 12:15pm

Seems like an awful lot of information. Certainly enough to create a problem.

“Hey Angie, fancy seeing you here! I’m Bob, a friend of Carrie’s, we met once a long time ago. Did you just a massage here? I’m on my way in, they have the best hot-stone treatments, you should try it. You just did? Wow, what a coincidence!”

Not only did I overhear this stuff, but so did 15-20 other people. I guess the point is, try to remember that you really don’t know who may be passively listening to your calls. No matter how benign the call may seem to you, maybe wait till you’re somewhere a bit more private? It’s smarter, potentially safer, and the people around you will appreciate it. Well, except for the stalkers.

And before you get on me for eavesdropping, go ride the bus for 2 hours a day crammed in with people who smell like Polo and curry sweat. The mind tends to wander, seeking out any form of distraction.

Adventures in commuting, part 1

May 15th, 2008

As most of you know, I’ve been working in downtown Seattle for a while now. Living in Redmond makes for a heck of a commute; about 85 minutes each way including driving, riding the bus, and walking. Overall, I kinda like it, as it gives me time to read the daily geek news and nap on the bus.

Tomorrow is Ride Your Bike to Work Day, and considering I live pretty close to the Park & Ride, I figured I’d give it a test run this morning. Over the past few days I’ve gotten my bike tuned up and my helmet cleaned off, and got a spankin’ new backpack. I was all set, and even a bit excited for my first Bike to Work experience. The fact that you’re reading this at all should indicate that this feeling, sadly, would be coming to an abrupt end.

I set off from home a bit early, leaving myself plenty of time to explore shortcuts, or stop for a couple smoke breaks along the way. :) The sun was out, the air was clean from last night’s rain, the temperature was perfect. I went swooshing down the hill and out onto the main street, sticking to the bike lane, enjoying the occasional spray of water on my face as my front tire sloshed through the leftover puddles. Riding to work kicks ass! I’m going to start doing this every …

Hang on … that doesn’t taste like water. That tastes more like, ugh … dirt-oil-grease-grime-garbage! Yeah, puddles on the side of the road, no matter how recent the rainfall, are not nice. I realized this just as I noticed a slightly damp feeling at the base of my spine. A dampness which was slowly creeping downward. I pulled off onto a side street, pulled off my glove, and felt the back of my pants. My hand, as you’ve already guessed, came back covered in brown sludge. Looking down, I noticed that the front of my shirt and jacket were also covered in the same viscous road goo. “Ok, well, I can’t go to work like this.” My first Ride to Work Day had come to an end.

I rode back home, pulled the bike through the front door, and walked into the bathroom to look myself over. What I saw was surprising, to say the least. My entire body was covered in dime-sized blotches of black evil, from my helmet, to my face, my jacket, my backpack, and my shoes. Even my head, where visible through the vents in the helmet, was dotted with sweat-diluted grime, each of which was making an inexorable push toward one eye or the other. My pants, however, were surprisingly clean, not a splotch or speckle to be found, until I remembered to check the backside. To put it bluntly, and there really isn’t any other way to put it, I looked like I’d crapped myself.

I changed my clothes, salvaging only my shoes, wiped down my backpack, hopped in my truck, lit a cigarette, and drove .92 miles to the Park & Ride. Parking was its usual hassle, but I found a spot and grabbed the next bus, the irritation of my morning slowly giving way to thoughts of how I was going to write about it later. The bus took its normal meandering route, dropping me a few blocks from work about an hour later. I walked down the sidewalk and rounded the corner …

Actually, before we go on, there are a couple things you need to know. I work in the Smith Tower, which is right in the middle of Pioneer Square. That area, if you haven’t been there, is where a vast number of our homeless population reside. This makes for an interesting mix of sights, sounds, and smells, many of which aren’t available in other parts of the city. The guidelines, as I’ve come to understand them, are as follows:

1) If the pigeons don’t hang around after dark, neither should you.
2) If it’s on the ground, it’s either happy or dead, leave it there.
3) If it’s wet, it’s urine.
4) The city pressure washes the alley behind Smith Tower at 9am.

It’s these last two points that we need to bear in mind as we continue on …

I walked down the sidewalk and rounded the corner just as the pressure washer technician spun around to douse me, full in the face. For the second time in as many hours, this was not just water, and I knew it. Nodding and waving off the apologies lobbed at me, I made a hasty retreat into the building and hurried to the restroom. And again, I found myself staring at a blotched and speckled me in the mirror, this time with petite bits of trash and God-knows-what clinging here and there. I cleaned myself up the best I could, but it was inevitable that I was to spend my day smelling as if many, many people had peed on me.

But hey, at least I didn’t look like I’d crapped my pants. That would really suck.

RIP, Nikkie

April 21st, 2008

I got the news today that Toby’s mother is no longer with us. Guy’s Little Nicole was born on July 31st 1994 and passed away on April 1st 2008. She loved to hunt with Guy, and held a CGC Canine Good Citizen title, as well as Working, Junior Hunter, and CD-Obedience certificates. To me, her most important accomplishment was mothering 3 litters of 22 puppies, and giving me Toby.

Nikkie’s ashes will be scattered across the pond of the 40 acres where we spent many cold days hunting ducks.

13 years, how they come and go

February 29th, 2008

Yesterday marked the 13th anniversary of my first day at Microsoft. When I mentioned this to my dad, he responded, “Lot of water under the bridge, some good, some not so. Life goes on.” Good point. Over the past 13 years of my life, I:

  • Had 16 offices or cubicles, and 14 bosses
  • Purchased 12 cars, trucks, motorcycles, and watercraft
  • Drove my favorite car on a racetrack, and wrecked it the following week
  • Had 5 car insurance policies, 1 insurance claim (see above)
  • Had 5 flat tires
  • Purchased or built 9 PC’s or laptops. Accidentally shot 1 of them, intentionally shot 2 others
  • Purchased 2 homes; gave one away, lost the other
  • Had 9 “permanent” addresses
  • Had 13 email addresses, 10 phone numbers, and 12 cell phones. Shot one of those too
  • Had 2 hairstyles and 2 last names, both of which changed at the same time
  • Purchased 5 TiVo’s, 4 receivers, 4 subwoofers, 4 sets of speakers, and 4 TV’s
  • Had 1 pair of sunglasses
  • Dated 7 women, lived with 3, proposed to 1
  • Tried playing step-dad to 2 children, failed miserably
  • Saw 4 weddings and 5 divorces
  • Became an uncle twice, and learned that the third installment is on his way
  • Saw friends and family become parents roughly 20 times
  • Saw friends and family miscarry 4 children, and bury 1
  • Said goodbye to 6 friends or coworkers
  • Took off, flew, and landed an airplane 3 times
  • Flew a helicopter twice
  • Went skydiving twice
  • Tried snowboarding once (not successful) and wakeboarding twice (somewhat successful)
  • Was shot in the chest with 1 roman candle, and narrowly avoided many others
  • Kept a plant alive for 9 years (and counting)
  • Graduated from high school with a long-delayed GED
  • Attended 2 quarters of college
  • Visited Idaho ~10 times, the San Juan Islands ~7 times, Oregon 5 times, Canada 3 times, Nevada 3 times, California twice, New York twice, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Georgia, and Utah
  • Saw Les Miserables 4 times, Cirque du Soleil 4 times, Phantom of the Opera 3 times, the Blue Man Group twice, the Vagina Monologues, the Magic Flute, Dialogues des Carmelites, Jonathan Coulton 3 times, Def Leppard, Billy Joel, the Dixie Chicks, Counting Crows, Steven Wright, and Rodney Carrington
  • Had 4 cats and 2 dogs
  • Broke no bones, lost very little blood, never landed in the hospital, and heard the phrase, “Dude, you are so lucky” about 132 times

I’m sure there are more noteworthy events, and I’m sure some of these numbers are low, but it’s all I can think of right now. The list as it is reminds me of one my favorite quotes;

You know what a learning experience is?
A learning experience is one of those things that says,
“You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”

– Douglas Adams