Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mac OS X 10.4.8 update and Airport problems

Many people are reporting that after updating to Mac OS X v. 10.4.8 their Macs are dropping their wireless internet connections. (I'm one of them. My Intel iMac can see our wireless network, but I have to manually reconnect every time I awaken the computer.)

The folks at MacFixIt have got some advice for fixing this.

Are you married?

Chances are this advice on being married to a photographer will ring a bell, no matter what professional or avocation your spouse pursues.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Blogging tips

Everyone has blogging tips. A few people have good ones. Like these.

And here's an entry, from a political blog, that's an example of a good, provocative teaser and call to action.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Keeping kitty cozy

My cat Betaille is 17. (I think she's "our cat" but both she and Zorg think she's my cat.)

She's old. She's frail. She's grouchy. She communicates by glaring rather than meowing. We sometimes think she's losing her sight or her hearing, but tests indicate that when she wants to, she can hear and see just fine. And, being lightweight, she can move at an astonishing rate of speed and even leap onto things (though I think the leaping is a bit painful for her).

Betaille has always been fussy. She doesn't sit on laps. She loves to be petted, though only when she is in certain "Designated Petting Places." If we say "DPP?" to her, she'll lead us to one.

For some reason, Betaille insists on living outdoors. She makes her home in a sheltered storage alcove that's just outside the basement and underneath my office. (If I get out of my chair to go into the kitchen, she hears the chair and the footsteps overhead and often meets me at the back door.) We have fabricated some shelters for her out of cardboard boxes and equipped them with hard plastic heated pads (used for barn animals) topped by faux-fleece cats beds. (Two boxes because our pushy cat Zoe kept nudging Betaille out of the first heated box and occupying it herself.)

Despite these efforts, there's something pathetic about going down to visit Betaille on a cold, rainy winter afternoon and seeing this skinny cat huddled on her heated cat pad while the wind howls through the yard.

Each year, Betaille gets frailer. And each fall, I find myself trying to engineer warmer and more sheltered environments for her. I've lined the cardboard boxes with fleece rugs; I've covered the sides and tops of the boxes with thick slabs of styrofoam.

Today I ordered this inflatable, insulated dog house that was apparently used by some teams in the Iditarod races. Equipped with the heated pad and cat bed, it could be the perfect home for Betaille this winter. If she agrees, I'll post another picture of it with her inside.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Corkscrew Hazel, Contorted Filbert...

...aka Harry Lauder's Walking Stick...is one of the stunning highlights of a winter garden. Never mind that in the summer the tree looks like a haystack covered in ugly wrinkled dull green leaves. In winter it drops the leaves to reveal a fascinating structure of twisted, nearly coiled, branches.

My Contorted Filbert, purchased a year ago, sent up some vigorous shoots from the root stock this spring, and these are straight, not contorted. I suspected I should cut them off, but wasn't sure. Paghat's Garden website provided an apparently exhaustive description of the plant and how to handle it (cut the straight shoots; they take energy away from the desirable contorted branches), along with interesting background about its names.

The Paghat's Garden site, apparently a labor of love by a couple of gardeners across the Sound in Bremerton, has similarly detailed pages on a great number of popular Northwest plants. Highly recommended.

Creative retirement

My mom is currently looking for a condo or apartment that's part of an independent living retirement complex. She got the idea this summer after we visited a few of her 80-something friends back east who live in elegant and secluded retirement villages. My mother thought those places were delightful (so clean! so new!) but they threw me into the kind of depression I associate with a long dinner at a Republican country club.

Clearly my expectations for retirement differ from hers!

At last, some heartening news, reported in the New York Times: In Burbank, CA, The Burbank Senior Artists Colony has created a senior apartment complex with amenities including a digital film editing lab, drama classes, and art studios -- all available round the clock. The developer, Meta Housing, is apparently planning similar complexes in other cities. (Thanks to Rebecca's Pocket for the link.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Serious pizza

Seriously great pizza means seriously great equipment. This fellow explains how he gets his oven up to 800 degrees.

Excellent crust recipe, by the way.

Source: LifeHacker

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My search string identity

Doug Plummer ponders the most common search strings used to reach his popular site Dispatches and concludes "A poetic mix, don’t you think? Maybe I should try reading it at a slam."

I'd been wondering what to blog about today. Here it is, the Mysterious Traveler's search string identity poem. (I like the way it starts with home repair, moves on to food, then back to home repair and finally into online activities.)

pet locator
kitchen aid error messages f2 e1
remove plastic wall anchors
kugel recipes noodle apples prunes dried
brandied pears
san marzano tomatoes of italy
waring ice cream parlor instructions
do it yourself bathtub caulking
reconditioning leather
palm mac file busy
create your own south park character


Friday, September 22, 2006

Only 65 more cooking days until Thanksgiving

Roasted turkey or deep-fried? Herbed stuffing or cornbread with oysters? Cranberry relish or cranberry sauce? Yams, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, or all three? Will there be enough gravy? Store-bought pumpkin pie or homemade?

Ah, yes, the first days of fall mean thoughts of Thanksgiving. And the announcement of the release of Joe Kissell's new ebook Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner. The downloadable ebook, complete with Print Me files of recipes and schedules, brings method to the holiday madness.

Kissell, a San Francisco technology writer and longtime foodie, has taken a step-by-step approach to preparing a classic Thanksgiving dinner. You read the book, consult the ingredient and equipment lists, follow the recipes (including detailed instructions on techniques for brining, stuffing a turkey, and making gravy) and the schedules and Kissell promises you'll not only have delicious food, but all the dishes will be ready to serve on time.

He offers a customizable schedule if you want to substitute in your own recipes, or have guests bring some of the food, and there's a "Last-Minute Thanksgiving" section to help people who find themselves throwing together a feast on short notice.

Find out more about Joe and the book at his website GeekyGourmet.com.

TAGS: ; ;

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kitchen essentials

I've been belatedly reading the September issue of Martha Stewart Living, with an article on Martha's new kitchen. The kitchen is huge (of course) and very cool and classic, with stainless counters and black, off-white, and cafe-au-lait walls and trim. One picture showed a massive stainless steel restaurant-style prep table. The top was bare, but the bottom shelf had a pair of wicker baskets filled with towels. And in one of the baskets, nicely color-coordinated with new the kitchen, was one of Martha's Himalayan cats.

The September issue also has a very helpful and well illustrated article on identifying, choosing, and installing various types of wall anchors.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Don't go in the garden shed!

Within a hour of waking up this morning I chewed out and "fired" a subcontractor who turned out to have been lying to me for the past three weeks, apologized profusely to two of my most valued clients (the end-victims of the lies), begged a favor from one of those clients, and then drove like a mad woman to Capitol Hill to meet with a new subcontractor who is going to do the piece of work on a "rush" basis. Bless his soul.

I've been working doggedly since then (I'm due to touch base with the new subcontractor at 6:30 tonight) and a few minutes ago decided to step into the back yard to enjoy the balmy 72-degree weather before evening. It was then I noticed the door to the garden shed had been left open during the night. I walked across the yard to close it -- walking carefully, because our elderly cat has taken to using the lawn as a litter box.

Then I discovered that the cat had found an alternative to using the lawn in the rain. She'd turned the garden shed into her own personal feline outhouse. Unfortunately, there's no hole in the flooring.

So, how's your day going?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

New pizza; dark dining in Seattle

Suddenly, there's pizza everywhere. Or at least a tantalizing whiff of it. Tutta Bella, which has been serving some excellent thin-crust pizza in Columbia City, has opened a place on Stone Way, just south of 45th St. I've driven by a few times and it always seems to be packed.

There's a mysterious storefront under construction on the south side of Market Street in downtown Ballard with a sign that says "Snoose Junction Pizza" (will there be lutefisk toppings?). And now Seattle Bon Vivant reports that Tom Douglas (Lola, Etta's, Dahlia Lounge) will be opening a pizza place at 4th and Virginia called Serious Pie.

Speaking of food, I'm interested in Dark Dining, happening Oct. 3, 4, and 5 in Seattle. I'd be particularly interested in the Oct. 4 dinner at Nell's at Green Lake. If you'd like to do this dinner thing with me (I'm afraid we're talking $135 a person here) get in touch and we can see if there are still spaces available. (Is Zorg going? No, Dark Dining is not a Zorg thing.)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Updating software

I spent much of this evening updating software and placing serial numbers into Yojimbo in the hopes that I'll later be able to find them there.

There are a few developers who make updating software a painless process. Unfortunately, I spent only a few minutes with their products, and long periods of time with the convoluted and poorly documented work of their less talented brethren. Software updates that tell me to restart my machine post-update are irritating -- but not nearly as irritating as one measly little app that requires post-installation restart but doesn't tell you that.

Grrr.

But I want to close with kind words for the brilliant VersionTracker Pro service, and its "lite" incarnation, VersionTracker Plus. Whichever of these you choose, you'll be able to go to the VersionTracker website and see real-world user reviews, rankings, and advice on using every piece of software, shareware, and freeware imaginable. Outstanding for both Mac and Windows.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hey! Broisma is back

"Numa Numa" video guy Gary Broisma is back with a "New Numa" video.

I know too much

Zorg likes to say that you can take me anywhere in Seattle and I'll run into someone I know.

Turns out, he's right. And, boy, is this embarrassing.

Andy Baio at the tech site Waxy.org blogged about a Seattle web developer named Jason Fortuny (who I do not know) who recently ran an experiment using the local Craig's List. Posing (er, literally) as a "submissive woman" Fortuny advertised under "Casual Encounters" for "an aggressive dom." His hidden agenda was to find out how many men would reply with the requested photos and contact information within 24 hours.

When the answers arrived...178 of them, 145 accompanied by photographic evidence... Fortuny then posted them on a web page [WARNING: this link leads to explicit content]. As Baio notes, many of the victims of Fortuny's hoax had provided names, addresses, phone numbers, email accounts (even work emails!), photos, and other details that made them immediately recognizable.

Baio's post goes on to explore the social, ethnical and legal issues that may be involved.

Now I've lived in Seattle for 22 years; I was single for more than a decade of that time. Quite frankly, I was, well, curious to see if I'd recognize anyone.

I did.

There was an email address on Fortuny's list that I recognized immediately. And, sure enough, when I clicked on it the photo that appeared (not explicit) matched up with the email address. When my surprise and dismay wore off, I read the full text of the reply and was quite amused to see that the fellow had adjusted his age downward...by about 12 years. Oh, vanity, thy name is...probably about to become public.

Hilarious. Depressing. Human.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It's school, not business school

Dismissing Guy Kawasaki's list of "10 things you should learn this school year" as "advice on how to be a business toady," educator Stephen Downes goes on to propose his own list -- and it's one that puts Kawasaki's rather glib suggestions to shame.

Net lingo

Today I sent an email that contained all its info in the subject line. To indicate that there was no text in the body of the email, I ended the subject line with "n/t".

Thanks for the fish. n/t

When the puzzled recipient replied "n/t?" I realized the usage wasn't as common as I'd thought.

Apparently the placement of "n/t," to denote no next in the body of the email, dates back to the days of Usenet. (I found the reference at UserFriendly.Org.)

Also worth checkout is NetLingo, The Internet Dictionary, which talks about an email/chat adjunct I'd love to try out, called a Zaplet. Ever used one?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Before and after

Buyer experience vs. user experience. The picture says it all.

Caught in the glare

I like to get the cats in by 10 every night, but sometimes it happens that one of the Stripe Sisters is still out roaming around at midnight. Tonight I went down the front steps in search of Kaylee, headed toward our driveway -- and froze, as a high-intensity search light snapped on and caught me in its glare.

No gun-toting security guards appeared to order me to put my hands in the air, and, squinting at the beam, I realized that the next door neighbors had installed a set of motion-detector security lights on the edge of their roof. The lights are positioned so they pick up any motion on our front lawn, the street, or the alleyway.

Yikes.

I've always liked the quiet, almost rural atmosphere of our street. We have a few streetlights and most of us have dim porch lights. You can sit out front at night and not see a car, or even a person, go by for an hour or two. I've never heard of a burglary or an assault, though once this year some kids drove down the street and tossed some beer bottles (full!) out the window.

I am trying to imagine why the neighbors installed security lights of the intensity one usually associates with isolated commercial warehouses. (These are not the sort of motion-triggered soft-glow lights people put up to give guests some lighting as they walk up the driveway or front steps.) It seems doubly odd, because there is a streetlight right in front of their house.

I'd like very much to say something to them about the lights, except I can't imagine what would do any good, now that they've invested in such an expensive system.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The ins and outs of pet doors

Considering a pet door? Moore Pet Doors has a site that sells and exhaustively explains every type of pet door imaginable -- ones that fit in overhead-type garage doors, ones that can be installed in screens, "bite-guard" doors (for pets who chew on regular flap doors), heavy-duty plastic dual-flap doors, and our favorite, the raccoon-proof door ("Keeps out: Raccoons, snakes, rodents, opossums, skunks, alligators, monkeys, scorpions, other pets"). They also make custom pet doors, and replacement flaps.

And, for those of you with indoor cats who want to keep the cat box in a closet, the Cat Hole -- a very attractive wooden doorway with an optional brush attachment that, yes, grooms your kitty as it goes in and out.

We've installed, tried out, and modified cat doors for years, but I've never before come across such a comprehensive online catalog of doors, complete with ratings and reviews. (Speaking of which...we own the Solo raccoon-proof door, and I can testify that we have never yet had an alligator get into the house!)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Getting creative with bamboo

I'm in the midst of so many projects that I can't seem to get any substantive work done on any of them. Frustrating!

I'll spare you any further whining and instead feature the creative work of a North Seattle neighbor. He carted away all the bamboo poles left over from our annual bamboo thinning and turned them into garden art: