Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm melting!

Start the holiday weekend off with a seasonal meme: What flavor ice cream are you?

I'm chocolate chip!

New Blogger feature...

...easy uploading of images from your computer or from the web (by URL). Here's a recent portrait of Zoe (Big Stripe).

Let's go out for cold dead fish

To read the New York Times online, you must register. But registration is free, and David Pogue's weekly Circuits column (also available to Times members by email subscription) is one of the reasons to sign up.

This week, Pogue presents readers' comments about his June 13 column on the inanity of technology product names such as "IEEE-139" and "802.11."

"Engineers are responsible," one reader said, hypothesizing: "If HP were selling sushi, they would describe it as cold dead fish -- accurate and unappetizing."

"No matter what anyone else tells you, PCMICIA stands for People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms," another quipped.

Pogue also heard from Michael Jonas Teener, one of the engineers who named FireWire, and passes along the story-behind-the story of how that engineering team got it right.

Finally, Pogue offers a link to Scott Kelby's new spoof ad for the iPod Flea and its many, many accessory kits, including the Flea Collar. The spoof video hasn't turned up anywhere else online, so, once again, Pogue has the exclusive. (For whatever reason, I had to click on the link three times, but it launched eventually, and was worth it ).

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The mysterious fava

One of the signs of early summer at the vegetable market is fava beans. They look a bit like limas and come in big, soft, downy pods. Once you release the beans from the pod, the light green outer hull (which is bitter) has to be peeled to reveal the darker green bean inside. (It's important to get fresh local beans, as tired favas can be dull or bitter all the way through.)

Where I lived in Italy (Genoa), the spring favas were shelled, peeled and eaten at the table with coarse dried salame, cut into chunks, accompanied by a robust olive oil and bread.

Dolce Vita, a website on Italian travel, describes several ways to enjoy fresh fava beans. They don't mention the Genoese style, but they describe a Tuscan presentation, using thin shavings of parmesan in stead of salame, that's similar.

Before the "discovery" of the Americas, favas were the only beans available in Europe. A small percentage of people of Mediterranean ancestry have a condition (G6PD deficiency) which can cause them to have an unpleasant, even dangerous, reaction (called hemolytic anemia) when the eat favas, so I remain a little reluctant to feed them to guests.

I bought favas at the Ballard Farmers Market this morning and we had them at dinner. They were delicious, and Zorg seems none the worse for the exposure. Bon apetito!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Need a charming bungalow?

Friends of ours are selling their Craftsman bungalow in South Green Lake (Tangletown). It's on a side street just a few blocks from Zoka, and very convenient to the bus line to downtown.

Glow, little kitty

Betaille is back from her radiation treatment at the Feline Hyperthyroid Clinic in Shoreline. I can't imagine that the treatment takes effect so quickly, but Betaille certainly seems a much improved cat. Instead of huddling under the porch with a desperate, disoriented look in her eyes, she's coming in the house, curling up in one of the cat beds in my office, and ignoring Zoe's bullying. Perhaps she's just grateful to be back from the clinic, which must have seemed like a strange place to her. A number of our cats have been strays and accustomed to changes of scenery. Betaille has been with us since she was 5 weeks old, and her only adventures trips to the vet (the same vet for 15 years).

Betaille, who is quite small and has had impaired kidney function all her life, was given a low-end dose of radiation therapy. Our vet will check her in a month or two to see if her thyroid levels are down to normal and her kidneys are "normal" for her.

It's nice go out the back door and see her sitting happily on her cedar bench in the yard.

10 years

Zorg and I celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary today. We also celebrated it last night, when we went out on the town for a fabulous dinner at Ruth's Chris steakhouse followed by an off-beat comedy show (Margaret Cho's "Assassin") at the Paramount.

A heart-felt "thank you" to all the friends who have supported us, individually and as a pair, in our marriage!

The 10th anniversary commemoration is traditionally tin or aluminum. Must be why the cats had us several cans of Fancy Feast waiting for us in the kitchen this morning.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

More lingerie

I was in San Jose for a meeting last week and was astonished when I glanced across the conference table and saw one of the women marketing execs wearing what looked like a nightgown: a low-cut camisole in shiny lavender satin with spaghetti straps. Since she was wearing it with designer jeans and a casual beige cotton jacket, my first thought was that perhaps she was having a nervous breakdown and had forgotten her bra and shirt while getting dressed.

My concerns about her mental health (though not her business sense) were allayed by a Cox News Service article in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporting that satin camisoles are now the dernier cri in officewear.

I now find myself trying to think of a situation in which a low-cut, bras-less satin camisole would be appropriate for the workplace. Perhaps if you worked in a bordello? Or perhaps if you had the body of a movie star? My colleague, unfortunately, falls into neither of these categories. She just looked like a desperately single business bimbo who's been reading too much Cosmo.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Girls only

A few months ago the online community of women folkdancers to which I belong had a discussion of bras. It wasn't pretty. The marketing line about bras is that 50 percent of American woman wear the wrong size of bra; the consumer line is that no manufacturer makes bras that are comfortable and attractive and actually fit (if they accidentally do, they seem to promptly discontinue that model).

I didn't leap into the online discussion because I didn't have much to contribute except more gripes: I'm small but busty and almost all the bras available in my size make me look like I should be wearing a horned helmet and singing Wagnerian opera. The rest of them look good only if I don't try to move or breathe.

Well, I finally found a no-wire bra that has support but doesn't look like it was designed and constructed by Orcs in Mordor.

Chico's, the boutique chain that sells sort of ethnic/slinky stuff for middle-aged gals has started a lingerie line called Soma.

The Soma line includes the no-wire "Agnes" bra that is just drop-dead gorgeous: a smooth, silky fabric; seamless cups; and it even comes in black! They also have several underwire models. Not cheap, but not as expensive as Wacoal bras at Nordies. (And if you're a Chico's Passport member, they've always got coupon deals going.)

I can't image that any guys have been reading a blog entry on bras, but, if you have, feel free to pass the info along to the woman in your life. If you want to order one for her yourself, you're either very experienced at that or completely out of your mind. Anyway, here's the eHow guide to buying lingerie as a gift. Step one of that ought to be enough to keep you busy for a while.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Qwest now offers ultra-fast DSL in our area and it turns out to be cheaper than the moderately accelerated (but increasingly flakey) DSL we've been getting via Covad. Taking no chances, we ordered the Qwest DSL for the fax line while keeping the Covad DSL live on the phone line until we could make sure the Qwest service was working for all our various ethernet and Airport configurations.

Finally got it nailed down this a.m. when my VPN service for work was configured, and now it's farewell to Covad. I just checked the download speed using CNET's bandwidth test and it tested faster than a T1 line.

Now to do something about the Ethernet cables running up and down the hall. Zorg got some longer cables from Radio Shack and we'll run the cables through the basement this weekend.

Kudos to our ISP, Seanet, which told me about the Qwest deal and stayed on the line while I dealt with the Qwest sales airhead who said things like:

"Is this for Windows 2000, or Windows XP?" (Me: "No.")

"With this service, you get MSN as your ISP." (Me: "I think not. Did you notice this call to you was placed by the ISP I already have, Seanet?")

I just got the Qwest bill, replete with hidden costs like the $9.95 shipping and handling charge for the modem I purchased from them. Grrrr.

Incidentally, the Mac OS X Tiger install on the PowerBook last night went smoothly. Take Control of Upgrading to Tiger included Joe's Compromise Method, midway between an archive-and-install and an erase-and-install, and it worked for me. I haven't even had to use the Restore Missing Files advice.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Great writing

One of the nicest pieces of writing I've come across in a long time is Joe Kissell's introduction to his new book Take Control of Upgrading to Tiger for (Take Control Publishers).

"Upgrading your Mac's operating system is a bit like removing your house's existing foundation to add a new garage underneath -- something that happens frequently here in San Francisco," he begins, and goes on to describe the processes.

This works well for most home owners (and Mac owners) but can, on occasion, go wrong. Kissell, who says he installed Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger 44 times while developing the book, promises his readers "a fanatastic experience" upgrading their own computers. "This ebook is your anti-anxiety guide to every step of the process," he says.

I used Kissell's earlier Take Control of Upgrading to Panther while upgrading my iMac and PowerBook to 10.3 (Panther). When 10.4 came out, I worked without a net, simply making a bootable copy of the iMac hard drive and installing Tiger using only the disk's guidance. However, I'm approaching the upgrade of the PowerBook a good deal more cautiously, and am going to study Joe's ebook before clicking any irrevocable buttons. And, of course, I made a bootable copy of the existing 10.3.9 PowerBook hard drive. Should it turn out that any essential apps on the PowerBook don't work in Tiger, I can always hook up the hard drive and boot into 10.3.9.

FireWire external hard drives. Backup software. Don't leave home without them.

Animals, wild and domestic

As the animal control folks remove an army of squirrels from our friend Geoff's attic, our next door neighbor has apparently achieved a humane end to our local raccoon infestation. Yesterday he caught the second raccoon in a large "live trap" and carted her off to the same park where he had earlier released her mate. A happy reunion, we hope.

Meanwhile, on the domestic pet front, we had good news that our elderly prima donna cat Betaille qualified for radiation treatment for her hyperthyroid condition. We went through this with Bosco the Mystery Cat eight years ago, and were very pleased with the results.

Bosco, a happy hypochondriac, apparently thought his three days at the cushy hyperthyroid treatment facility were a spa vacation (they cost about as much). Betaille, who is set off by the most minor changes in her environment, will probably not be such a happy camper. She is currently in a snit, in part because of the raccoon battles next door, and in part because one of our year-old kittens, Zoe (Big Stripe), is bullying her.

Zoe doesn't hiss or swat, she just "bumps" other animals, sort of herding them around. She is now taking this to an extreme. I told Zorg last night that I'd seen her bump a life-size concrete cat statue in the garden and knock it flat. Zorg looked mildly surprised, and said "But I picked it up!" Apparent she is now bullying the concrete statue repeatedly. Either she's not very bright, or she's using it as some kind of warning to real cats.

Betaille's snit involves refusing to eat unless I keep the kittens out of sight and sit beside her while she dines. I guess it could be worse.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Whatever makes you happy

In celebration of the 2-year anniversary of The Mysterious Traveler Sets Out, here is a meme about posessions that I developed based on a "Domains" profile in a recent issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Most treasured object in the house:
What is always with you:
Broken item that you can't part with:
Most recent bargain or yard sale find:
Newest gadget:
Best award:
Most distinctive family heirloom:
Best recent gift received:
Next big purchase:
Most-read book:
Most valuable possession:
The object you most identify with:

If you use this meme, please email me either a copy of your answers or a link to your blog entry.

Here are my responses:

Most treasured object in the house:
My computer's hard drive.

What is always with you:
My glasses. I don't think I've ever left the house without them. (I certainly wouldn't get very far.)

Broken item that you can't part with: The red and blue quilt I made for myself in college. Some of the material is too worn to wash, so I can't use the quilt. But I can't get rid of it, either.

Most recent bargain or yard sale find:
A Northwest Indian-motif green glass paperweight.

Newest gadget:
iPod shuffle. It was a gift from my employer.

Best award:
Framed poster of an Apple "LP" commemorating the 1,000,000th download at the iTunes Music Store. (I was on the Music Store launch team.)

Most distinctive family heirloom:
An antique wooden spelling toy that my father used as a child.

Best recent gift received:
Silver earrings my mother bought for me at the Folklife Festival.

Next big purchase:
Some sort of hutch/buffet for our dining room.

Most-read book:
The Bone is Pointed, by Arthur Upfield. I read through Upfield's Napoleon Bonaparte detective series every two or three years. The Bone is Pointed is one of my favorites.

Most valuable possession:
My engagement ring.

The object you most identify with:
Definitely the iMac!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Another raccoon ruckus

After we installed the raccoon-proof cat door, the two raccoons that had been plundering our basement for cat food moved on to our neighbors' basement for easier pickings.

Well, the guy next door wasn't going to take any shit from a raccoon! He put a catch-and-release trap in their basement and caught one of the coons Wednesday night. He then drove it over to the park on the other side of the Cut (our local canal) and released it.

Tonight at 10 there was the most horrible screaming out back. It wasn't a cat; it sounded like a dog yelping. I turned on the back porch light and made sure our cat Betaille was OK. Looking over to the neighbors' back yard, I saw two green eyes up in the air. The neighbors flipped on their porch lights and I realized it was a raccoon up in their apple tree, shrieking piteously.

The poor thing obviously knew that its mate had gone into their basement and never come out again. It was hard not to feel bad for the bereaved raccoon. I hope it will go into the basement, get trapped, and be released in the park and be reunited with its mate. I didn't mind two friendly raccoons in the neighborhood, but I'm definitely disturbed by one frantic one.

Bird identified; news of the day

Nina tells me that the bird whose photo I posted on Flickr is...a flicker. Too funny!

Quick update: Started the day at the annual Camp Fire Boys and Girls breakfast at the Westin, then walked over to the Seattle Art Museum to attend Jesse James Garrett's web architecture seminar, The Elements of User Experience. At lunchtime we dashed upstairs for the opening of the museum's Isamu Noguchi scuptural design exhibit. It's a small but dramatic exhibit and the museum has a special exhibit store with Noguchi lamps and furniture reproductions and Noguchi-inspired fountains, dinnerware, jewelry, etc.

I arrived home just in time to take delivery of my vintage patio furniture, which had been electro-painted at New Finishes. The shipment included a stray retro patio chair I'd spotted at the shop and asked them to throw in with my order. Pictures to come soon!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Can anyone identify this bird?

Originally uploaded by Mysterious Traveler.
This large, colorful bird sat on top of the shed outside my office window for 10 minutes this morning. Anyone have any idea what kind of bird this is?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Is this the solution?

I am now a couple weeks behind in my life and despairing of ever catching up.

Is this the answer?

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Originally uploaded by Mysterious Traveler.
We took quite a few pictures. Two cameras, both with flash. The raccoons could have cared less.

Saturday, June 04, 2005