Best food review ever

Kate and I had a lovely dinner out at the Verve Wine Bar last Thursday.  We had a flight of dessert wines to cap the evening which included a 1971 Pedro Ximenez Madeira.  It’s pretty thick and sweet, and my response:

“It’s like drinking a carebear!”

The waiter was only slightly amused.  We’d had a lot to drink.  🙂

10 out of 10

An article in today’s paper discussed your carbon footprint. They talk about some cars, and how each one gets an EPA “greenhouse gas score” out of 10 (higher is better). A GMC Yukon gets a 3 out of 10; a Prius gets 10 out of 10.

A perfect score? For a car which only reduces greenhouse gas emissions by a 1/3 compared to a behemoth SUV?

A bicycle should be 10/10. Walking should be 10/10. A fuel-cell car with hydrogen generated from a solar source should be 10/10. But the Prius is far from perfect, and it’s doing us all a disservice to pretend that’s the best we can do.

This Morning On The Bus

On this morning’s bus ride there was a woman with two little girls (2 or 3 years old?) in a double pram.  One of the girls was unhappy and would occasionally scream.

This was a bus at 7am, full of morning commuters.  The pram took up a bunch of extra space.  Screaming on a bus at seven in the morning is kind of hard to tolerate.

But still, one can only assume that she wasn’t happy about the situation either.  It’s hard to imagine that she wasn taking a 7am bus ride with two unhappy toddlers just for the sheer joy of it.

Zippy Mouse

Here’s a weird one: changing the refresh rate on my monitor here at work makes my mouse noticeably faster.  Usually I run at 60Hz, but to deal with some hardware issues I sometimes change to 120Hz.  And then my mouse cursor becomes so responsive it’s actually hard to control.  Is the mouse software running off the monitor’s refresh rate?

I have two identical monitors, both plugged into the same video card, and when they’re running at different refresh rates I can compare the mouse behavior for each, and it is clearly different.  It seems that it’s the cursor acceleration which is different as opposed to the overall speed.  Anyway, I wouldn’t have expected a relationship between mouse performance and display hardware refresh rate, but there you go.

My Advice for the Seattle Bus

I ride the bus to and from work every day. It’s about 45 minutes door-to-door, including about four blocks of walking. Not too bad, although about twice as long as a car would take. I don’t mind taking the bus, though, since it’s cheaper than gas, parking, and payments on a second car. Plus, I enjoy the time to read.

Still, the bus could be better. Here are my tips (short of investing in mass transit, like the rest of the civilized world) for Seattle Metro:

  1. Eliminate the ride-free zone. This is the source of tons of problems. First of all, it introduces tons of distasteful characters on the bus. One stinky bum can ruin a bus ride for dozens of people. Before people accuse me of classism, let me say there’s a reason some odors are labeled “offensive”. They offend people! But at the same time, it’s not like it’s the end of the world. And besides, we’ve all had to fart in a crowd at some point in our lives, haven’t we?
  2. The ride free zone also means that people need to sometimes pay on the way in, and sometimes on the way out, and sometimes they can enter or exit either door and sometimes the back door can’t be used for either. So what happens is everybody always leaves from the front and it takes twice as long at a bus stop while the people who want to enter wait for the people who want to leave.
  3. Furthermore, for some reason people in Seattle often feel like it’s okay to wait until the bus is at a complete stop before standing up and meandering their way to the front door. Be ready to exit before the bus stops! You’re slowing everyone down!
  4. And finally, the bus stops are too close together. On my route (66 Roosevelt) there’s one every block. They could cut the number of stops in half without inconveniencing people to any large degree, and drastically improve the speed of the bus.

A discussion about this was started on the Slog a few days ago, and it quickly devolved into class warfare between advocates for snobby white liberals on one side and smelly poor people on the other. If that’s the farthest that the debaters on this issue can see, then I don’t hold out much hope for things improving.

Selling My Camera Gear

I’m parting with all my old camera equipment (it’s up on ebay right now). This is the last of the gear from my photography days at Microsoft — when I was flush with spending money and I didn’t meet a lens I didn’t like. I already went through and sold the majority of it last year so that I could buy a new digital body, but now I’m selling the rest — my four favorite lenses, the body, and the flash.

Two days ago, I was trying to take pictures of Ruby and struggling with the incredibly slow focusing of the Pentax system. I was missing shots, switching back and forth between manual and autofocus, and generally spending too much time fighting the camera instead of taking pictures. We’re already using our lower-quality camera way more often than the fancy SLR because it’s so much easier to use. But that night was the last straw.

So, I’m auctioning it all off. I’ll use the proceeds to buy a new system — whether it’ll be a new SLR or a souped-up point-and-shoot, I’m not sure.

Swarthy Choice

There’s an ad on the bus warning everyone to be vigilant of stray packages. These ads are sad and ultimately destructive of the society they’re supposed to protect. I wish we could learn to think more rationally about risk.

But anyway, that’s not what prompted this post. The ad has a picture of a suitcase-like bag sitting alone on a seat. In the frame next to it, squinting at the bag, is a close-up of a face that is nothing if not Arab-looking (or perhaps Indian, it’s hard to tell). Now, it’s not clear if this guy is squinting at the supposed bomb because he’s being vigilant, or if he’s squinting because he’s the bad guy with a hard, unapproachable look. Either way, did they have to make him look Arabic? There’s no such thing as “accidental” choices in the advertising world.
(As an aside: In the 1990’s, twice as many people were killed by roving death squads in Los Angeles County as were killed by foreign terrorists on 9/11.)

Packing It Off

I’m officially about 20 pounds overweight.  There’s a couple of reasons behind it — a bit of a lazy summer leading to a back injury which really cut down on my exercise.  Then a new job which both cut down on my exercise time and put me in the midst of overly tempting food choices for lunch.  Then a groin injury which limited my exercise options again.

I’m now paying attention to losing my weight, but I having a hard time feeling comfortable in my body.  My pants are too tight and hunger doesn’t suit my personality.  The lack of exercise is leading to other assorted aches and pains, and generally just making me feel out of sorts.

I feel like things are slowly improving, but the start of any weight loss program is always a frustrating time.

Ruby’s 2nd Hallowe’en

Ruby had a good time.  She loved her costume and walked from house to house like a pro.  She quickly figured out that it was all about the candy, even though she’s never really had any candy before.  “Trick or Treat” is still a mouthful for her, but at least she said please, thank you, and the occasional “meow”.  Occasionally she’d try to wander into people’s houses after they’d given her a treat.

She had one peanut butter cup when we got home, and she was definitely in the mood for more, but we’re holding her to one per day. And tomorrow, it won’t be so close to bedtime.