Saturday, July 24, 2004


Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot.

The fan on my iMac was running unusually loudly this afternoon. I realized it, too, was hot. It's now 9 p.m. and 88 degrees in our livingroom, even with both the front and back doors open and a fan running. The upstairs, a converted attic, is unspeakable. The basement TV room is about 78.

Perfect weather to listen to a ballgame on the radio. The Mariners are leading Anaheim 3-2 in the 7th...

Friday, July 23, 2004

Perhaps it looked good on paper?

Everytime I battle my way into one of the ladiesrooms in the Southwest terminal of the San Jose airport, I expect to encounter a group of architecture students taking notes on the utter idiocy of the bathroom design. It must be a textbook example of how not to design a public restroom.

The doorless entrances are twisting, narrow corridors that put luggage-toting women entering the room on a collision-course with women who have washed their hands and trying to find the paper towel dispensers. The two towel dispensers are positioned at the far ends of the long counter lined with sinks. Anyone who has used one of the five sinks and needs a towel must back away from the sink, hands dripping, leave her luggage blocking access to the sink, and clamber over the luggage of every other woman at the counter before colliding with the incoming stream of travelers entering next to the towels. Dripping, leaping and exhausted, the handwashers look like Pacific salmon heading upstream.

The toilet stalls are obviously the work of the same clueless designer. They can accommodate a toilet, you, and your luggage—but whoever designed them did not take into account the fact that the user would need to open the door to get herself and her luggage in and out of the stall. (Perhaps they though she'd heave the bag over the top, or push the bag in and vault over it?) I admit that I take the risk and leave my luggage outside the stall door. My bag is large, and my reasoning is that anyone trying to make off with it would get stuck in the bottleneck at the towel dispensers long enough for me to flush, get out, and reclaim my bag.

The looks on the faces of women as they try to get into those stalls range from grim determination (frequent fliers, they've been there before) to horror and panic--that usually from women who must try to figure out how to squeeze in with both their luggage and their squirming kids.

The restroom entrances are dog-leg bends without any doors, so the exterior signage for "Men" and "Women" must be posted elsewhere (such as high above the doors). Since the restrooms for "Men" and "Women" are right next to each other, it can be tricky to differentiate between the two. At least that's my explanation for what I witnessed a few weeks ago. I was sitting in a Southwest waiting area, facing the restrooms, and noticed a male business traveler clearly looking for the facilities. In his hurry, he turned one entryway too soon. There were shrieks from a herd of female towel-seekers; he emerged red-faced and hurried down the concourse, headed in the direction of the International terminal where, one hopes, they have normal restrooms.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Music for the Mariners

I went to my annual Mariners' game last night—seats behind third base for a Red Sox game were my gift to my mother for her 86th birthday. (And, yes, seats in a decent section are worth $120 each.)

It was about as good as baseball gets. Both teams are having lousy seasons, characterized by weak hitting in the bottom of the order for both. But it was a tight game, with lots of runners on base and full counts. It went extra innings, displayed a total of 10 pitchers (!), and included stolen bases, errors, hit batters, brilliant line drives, sacrifices, bunts, home runs, and a grand slam. About all we were missing was a manager yelling at an umpire and stomping on his hat--but they probably don't do that on the West Coast.

Pitching ranged from excellent (Boston's Arroyo went 7 innings, allowed only 1 run, and got Ichiro to strike out looking in the 6th) to wild (Seattle's Villone and the Sox's Foulke, who each hit a batter). I'd never seen the Mariner's reliever Mike Myers pitch before--his pitch appears to be underhand, quite fast, and, with two out and a runner on second in the top of the 11th, saved the game by befuddling Johnny Damon into flying out.

Safeco Stadium is a great stadium, well lit without glare, outdoors yet sheltered, and very "retro" in its feel. The fans were for the most part well-behaved. Though I think it's rude to depart in the 7th inning just because your team is losing at that point. And, as it turned out, it was stupid as well.

Initially I was appalled by the snippets of loud rock and pop music (not organ versions, but the actual tracks) that blast over the loudspeaker after every play. I fantasized that if I were Paul Allen I'd pay to have an evening in which the only music would be the traditional ballpark organ (the Mariners have a good organist). But I had to admit that the DJ programming the tracks was pretty damn sharp. After a runner was caught between first and second, he (she?) played The Clash ("Should I Stay or Should I Go?"); as the coaches huddled to discuss yanking a beseiged pitched, it was the Dave Clark Five's "Do You Love Me?"

If you've lost touch with baseball, this season with the Mariners could be the time to get back in the groove. Safeco Field is probably one of the best fields in baseball (terrific food, including the suishi bar featuring the Ichiro Roll, and Hebrew National hot dogs). And, if you haven't seen the brilliant fielding and selfless batting of Ichiro Suzuki, you haven't seen baseball as an art form.

A nice place to follow the games is on the Major League Baseball section of the well-designed Sports Networks site, where you can see plenty of game info absolutely free: Previews, Matchups, Lineups, a wonderful narrative Log, a Wrap, and the Box Score.

For tickets, try the official Mariners site, which will lead you to TicketMaster, or, for good seats, go to the Mariners section of Stub Hub where you can pick up tickets that season ticket holders are selling. The closer you get to game day, the cheaper the ticket prices.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

10 good things this weekend

1. Free lunch. I had lunch at a local breakfast/sandwich place, family owned. When I went to pay, the fellow at the register asked me how long I'd been a customer. "Twenty years," I said. He smiled and said "I thought so," and said that many years ago, when he'd been working on the kitchen weekends and learning the business from his uncle, he'd seen me jump up from breakfast and bus tables to help a swamped waitress. Now he owns the place--and he wouldn't let me pay for my lunch!

2. Free beret. Every summer a 60-something woman who lives a few blocks from us has a huge yard sale. It's very cool, and a little scary, because it's obvious she has a house just overflowing with items: Vases, boxes, candleholders, baskets, rugs, kitchen items, etc. The sale is on tables all over her backyard, amidst a garden with beautiful flowers, shrubs, and vines. At the back of the garden is a shabby chic garden shed with strange metal items hung all over the exterior and all sorts of treasures inside. It's clear she'll never get rid of it all, no matter how many yard sales she has. I bought a hooked rug, and then noticed a purple sequined beret. She went in the garden shed, got me a mirror, and we agreed the beret was just right. And she insisted on giving it to me! I felt like I was being officially initiated into the cult of Crazy Old Bats. It could be worse. I could become one of those uptight old gals with astroturf on the porch stair, black wrought-iron railings, plastic ducks on the lawn, and plastic pots with bright red geraniums and bright purple lobelia.

3. Kittens. The kittens, now named Zoe and Kaylee (after the characters in Firefly) are 11 weeks old. They have the sweetest dispositions, and want to curl up in your lap and get petted.

4. Salad. I bought two enormous bags of gourmet salad greens at the Cash and Carry for a party we had Thursday. Now we are living on leftover greens. They're so delicious you don't even need to put salad dressing on them--just a few drops of vinegar.

5. Quail eggs. Ken brought us a half-dozen quail eggs Thursday. I can hardly wait to make French toast.

6. Karam's garlic sauce. While planning a huge salad for a potluck this evening (those salad greens!) I remembered Karam's garlic sauce. Fortunately, the QFC still carries it. Outrageous stuff. I used it, tempered half and half with vinaigrette, as the dressing for a Greek salad.

7. The storage locker. Every time I visit our storage locker and imagine all the stuff in there (30 boxes of Stanglware, a trunk full of vintage comics, the original boxes for all our computer gear, a dozen framed paintings we don't want on our walls, and extra pieces of our vinyl flooring, marmoleum, and Corian) cluttering up the garage instead, I want to get down on my knees and bless the person who invented storage lockers.

8. My husband. Who let me weasel out of going to the potluck this evening.

9. SF collections. So I can read without getting so wrapped up in a full-length novel that I stay up until 2 a.m.

10. Sheba, our deaf white cat. She has stopped attacking the next door neighbors' cat. The means we can now let her outside without hearing the bloodcurdling screams of her victim--and the victim's owners.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Need DayDoubler for OS X

A useful Mac utility called DayDoubler was mentioned in the MailBITS section of a 1994 issue of TidBITS. Does anyone know if it's now available for Mac OS X? I didn't try it at the time, but I think I could use it now. Here's the description of the original version:
DayDoubler is a new product from Connectrix that gives you those extra hours in each day that we've been asking for. Using sophisticated time mapping and compression techniques to double the number of hours in the day, DayDoubler gives you access to 48 hours each day. With the shareware hack MaxDay, you can easily stretch your day to 60, 72, or even 96 hours! Connectrix warns that at the higher numbers DayDoubler becomes less stable and that you run the risk of a temporal crash in which everything from the beginning of time to the present would come crashing down around you, sucking you into a black hole.

Should this occur, be sure to reboot with the shift key down.

I tried contacting the fellow who reviewed the product for TidBITS, but mail to his email address bounced.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Turquoise moth (test)

Every night there is a small bright turquoise moth in our bathroom, visiting our cat, who seems very excited to see it. I searched the internet for information on turquoise moths, but all the information was about mottled, pale turquoise moths. This one is plain, bright, turquoise--verging on a blue-green.

Any ideas?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The revolt of the machines

I'll bet there's a "law" of some sort describing the tendency of household appliances to malfunction in groups of threes. I've always referred to it as "the revolt of the machines," and it seems to happen every couple of years. It's happening right now: First it was the coffeemaker (flooding); then the toaster oven (powering on and off at will); and finally the ancient fax machine (choking when I tried to fax a multi-page fax).

It was only after replacing the fax machine and discovering the problem was not with the old machine but with my employer's fancy fax server (it was accepting the first page of our faxed expense reports, then cutting off the connection) that I came to the chilling realization: Somewhere in the house, there is a third appliance getting ready to fail.

While ironing in the laundry room tonight I heard a tell-tale screeching from the washing machine. It sounds as though a belt or some such is in dire distress. Oh no! That machine has got to hold out until the gas company runs a line to our house in the next month or so and I can get a washer/dryer set with a gas dryer.

Maybe the cheap clock radio would like to sacrifice itself?