Thursday, December 31, 2009

A look back at the year 2000

(With thanks to David Levine, who wrote on this topic in Facebook)

Excerpts from my holiday letter from 10 years ago:
...After two years as managing editor of Northwest Health magazine, I have begun a job-share arrangement with another senior editor so that I can spend two days a week writing book reviews for and working on a mystery reader's travel guide to the Pacific Northwest. If all goes well, you’ll be able to buy the book on in 2001.
(Within three months, this arrangement led not to a book but to a new job with Apple, writing website reviews for iReview.)
1999 was a good year for visitors from out of state: My cousin Carol and her son Michael were here this summer (Michael was doing an internship at Microsoft on his way to U.C. Berkeley for grad school).
(Michael, after a stint in high tech, now has an MBA and is involved in politics and socially responsible businesses.)
...our friend Bob, a computer programmer and country dance caller from England, stayed with us for the Northwest Folklife Festival in May on his way to a new job in Australia. Two weeks later he was back from Australia, having left the new job to return to Seattle and pursue a romance with Laura, a wonderful woman he had met at Folklife!
(Bob and Laura are now married; I later moved to Ballard, and they are neighbors.)
My parents spent much of this year’s visit to Seattle looking at condominiums. They plan to shift their summer residence from Cape Cod to Edmonds, Washington—a beautiful town on Puget Sound, about 20 minutes north of Seattle. Winters will still find them in Naples, Florida.
(My father has since died, and now my mother has the Edmonds condo they purchased up for sale; she's planning on moving to a retirement community in Naples.)
The big-hearted lynxpoint Siamese, Solomon, died very suddenly of cancer in September. Solomon had made many friends up and down the block, and now it is not uncommon to find a neighbor standing on the sidewalk in front of the house, gazing at his resting place in the garden. They’ll explain “I’m talking to Solomon.” The four remaining cats (Bosco, Betaille, Sam, and Socks) are not among Sol’s mourners—nor are they out recruiting a replacement.
(Sadly, none of those remaining cats are left. Sam was hit by a car (which precipitated the move to a very quiet street in Ballard); Bosco died of cancer; Socks died after the move to Ballard in a rare complication after dental surgery; and Betaille went out, of old age and cancer, three years ago. Sheba, who joined the household nine years ago, is the only cat left from the Wallingford era.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Today was just funny

I've been editing all evening — a rambling, poorly organized "how-to" article that goes on, and on, and on in excruciating detail. When I got to a bullet point (the eighth or ninth in a long, pontificating series) that said:

Be concise. People don't want to ready anything that's more than a page long.

I laughed so hard I fell out of my chair.

It's been that kind of day.

Still laughing

Thanks to a Facebook note from Doug Plummer, I'm still laughing. This time it's a Garrison Keillor column on the Republicans and healthcare.

Why I'm a cat owner

Maybe it was my recent dog-sitting experience, but I've been sitting here for the past hour chuckling over this story in the Seattle Times. I can only wonder what the cats, mentioned in the story, thought about the situation.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The new MacBook Pro

I am in the midst of setting up my MacBook Pro (13") which replaces my four-year-old 12" Titanium PowerBook. The Titanium had pretty much recovered from The Cat Pee incident, but it wasn't able to run Snow Leopard. As I'm now commuting to Olympia, I needed a reliable laptop, and I want to be able to use Snow Leopard's "Back to My Mac" feature to access the iMac at home.

First impressions:
  • The new environmentally aware packaging is pretty elegant for cardboard. It was nice not to wrassle with a lot of plastic wrapping.
  • I like the magnetic power cord (not new on MacBooks, but new for me).
  • I love the backlit keyboard (again, not new for MacBooks, but new for me — I remember when this was just for the highest-end models).
  • Choosing an account photo made me smile — I recognized several of the images (flowers) from the early iCards galleries I worked with.
  • The screen seems wide, but not very tall.
  • The new track pad with one, two, three and four-finger controls looks intriguing.
  • I noticed that I will have been a member of .Mac (Mobile Me) for 10 years come Valentine's Day.
  • The set-up, including settings and a complete sync of mail, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, via Mobile Me was complete 30 minutes from when I opened the shipping box.
All that remains is to install Microsoft Office, iWork '09, Yojimbo (which syncs), and Storyist.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

Tonight the energy shifted from pre-holiday frenzy to actually enjoying the season.

I got out today and went up to Swanson's Nursery to spend my holiday "Swan Dollars" on some white pansies for the doorstep planter.

There is a camel at Swanson's Nursery. He seems very friendly, and is sharing his yard with shaggy burro (see photo of snorgling). There are also two magnificently antlered reindeer, who were busy attacking two Christmas trees suspended from the rafters. For that purpose.

I stopped by the new gourmet shop on Market Street in Ballard, Savour, and discovered the cheesemonger there is an old friend from Brie and Bordeaux (the cheese shop in the old Meridian neighborhood in Wallingford/Green Lake).

Savour has cheeses, Spanish ham, olives, and things you can't get anywhere else in town (except Pike Place Market). It's expensive. It's worth it. And they have gift certificates, one of which I bought for a friend.

Finally, I swung by Classic Consignment and got a beautiful Banana Republic A-line wool skirt for work ($18.99). I'm going to be working in Olympia two or three days a week in January and need "real" clothes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Broken promise

Discouraging news for pet owners: Pet Promise cat food, a nutritious line developed under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Weil, is no longer available. According to the website, making and distributing pet food made from organic meats, and selling it at reasonable prices in supermarkets, didn't make enough money for the company.

So, there you have it. I'm back to the choice of crappy food I can afford and can pick up while doing my regular grocery shopping, or jaw-droppingly expensive organic food (well, the sanctimonious sales people insist it's organic) that I have to traipse off to special pet products stores to purchase.

Actually, I split the difference. The only wet cat food the cats will eat is Fancy Feast (definitely the Bad Commercial stuff) but I can get them to eat various types of premium or organic dry foods. The wet food is important for Garibaldi, the feral cat, because feral cats often don't have adequate access to water in the dry months.

Mabel, the new house cat, loves Pet Promise Healthy Weight forumula, as does Sheba the deaf white cat. Their last bowls of it are nearly gone. I've been scouring the area stores for it. If you see it, please let me know.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

And tomorrow is Friday!

The week started out with a nasty email and floundered along until this morning when, at last, the karmic sun began to shine.

My new MacBook Pro arrived and is ready to be unpacked this weekend. It will replace the 12" PowerBook G4 that has been a little unpredictable after Kaylee the tabby peed on it and I poured odor neutralizer over the keyboard. I plan to keep it around as a loaner machine for people who just need to get webmail.

Garibaldi the feral cat, last seen on the heated outdoor cat bed Monday night, has reappeared again, demanding food. I think a neighbor who feeds several of the local ferals may have locked a bunch of them in his garage at night to keep them from freezing during the cold spell.

Two difficult writing projects got past road blocks today, and I made an amazing find on eBay — an item that perfectly matches a Company Store item I purchased three years ago, one that is no longer carried by the company store.

Everything I've ordered for Christmas gifts has arrived, so all that's left to fuss over is Christmas cookies (gingerbread this year) and shipping.

We've been invited to three parties this Saturday night, and are trying to figure out which ones to attend when. (A dance friend's annual white elephant Christmas/Hanukkah gift exchange is a must, but the neighbors' evening event is renowned for delicious seafood. Hmmm.) Other than that, our holiday calendar is relatively low key. There's nothing corporate, so I can wear steampunk fashion: lace, velvet, and boots!

The two nodding lawn reindeer we picked up at a church rummage sale this summer are already set up and entertaining the neighbors' kids, and I brought several boxes of Christmas decorations over from the storage locker this morning. It turns out to be a very odd mix of stuff, and much of it will be listed on Freecycle this weekend.

As for a tree, we'll get that next weekend at the Top Banana tree stand. They were nice enough to let me leave my car there over night last week after the tire exploded.

Yes, it's been like that recently. And today I couldn't get the garage door (one of two large swinging doors) to open. That's because the wet ground under the driveway froze, expanded, and raised the asphalt up nearly an inch. (In New England, this is a called a "frost heave.") The door can no longer swing out over the asphalt. Fortunately, I don't keep the car in the garage, so this does not constitute an emergency. Frost heaves rarely resolve when the ground thaws; I suspect this will require taking the large door off the hinges and planing the bottom a good half inch.

But I think, for a while, I'll just ignore it and go out the back door.