Archive for September, 2007

Fall Apple Odyssey

Fall Colored HillsideOn Saturday we resurrected an old fall tradition of mine. We drove to apple orchard country in Wenatchee to buy some cider and a case of fresh-picked apples.

Even though it was grey and drizzly, Stevens Pass was gorgeous with fall color. Every avalanche canyon, every meadow, was on fire with scarlet and gold. The mountains above us were dusted with new snow, and at the top of the pass we stopped and wandered around in the crisp, cold air.

Why did we stop? Well, we took the dogs with us. All three. And Zach had a cold. So, near the top of the pass, he decided to take some Dayquil cold medicine – and white and hyper Panda decided to jump on him while he was doing it. Instant sticky creamsicle dog! We rinsed her as best we could with water bottles and Kleenex, but she remained a little sticky until we got her home and in the bath.

Anyway, we made it over the pass, through Leavenworth which was traffic-jammed with some sort of fall festival, and on to the orchards & fruit stands. We stopped at one of the first ones we saw, and it was a great pick. They had cases and pallets and bags and crates of apples, of every variety, and some we hadn’t even heard of!

Crooked Orchard

  • Winter Banana (crisp and Jolly Rancher sour)
  • Tsugurai (sweet & mellow)
  • Spartan (a late season firm, tart cooking apple)
  • Sekai Ichi (huge, crisp, sweet-tart eating apple)
  • Honey Crisp (sweet, apple-cider juicy)

All were excellent. We picked out a case of the Sekai Ichi, we’d never heard of them before and they were excellent! They are too big for our apple corer/slicer though. I added a bag of Macintoshes for cooking, and a few Honey Crisp and Winter Banana for eating. We topped off our cart with a blue hubbard squash (yum!), fresh cider and caramel apples all around.

The fruit stand had a beautiful little park-like setting, and we wandered around and admired the orderly rows of apple trees, branches bent under their fruit, marching up the hills in every direction.

We turned around, got a hamburger in Leavenworth, and headed home. It was a long drive, but worth it for the sights and the ultra-fresh apples.

Note: photos were taken by Zach, photography club member extraordinaire!

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: travel | 2 Comments »

Two Faces of Work

I am in Anchorage this week for project stuff.

Most of the time, when I work at home, I work in complete silent isolation, except for the puppies. I spend hours every day on the phone to Anchorage, but it’s just — phone contact. Occasionally I go into the Seattle office, which is thinly populated, and we all sit side by side and spend hourse on the phone to Anchorage.

When I’m in Anchorage, my workday is totally different. It’s face time, problem solving, and management by walking around, ten or more hours a day. There’s no time for documentation, reporting, analysis – my job becomes all about communication & interpersonal interaction.

Together it’s a good balance. I can catch up on organizational, analysis and documentation work when I work at home, and can balance that with the focused people time in Anchorage.

I have to admit, though, that while a bout of pure analysis can be very satisfying, I enjoy and really prefer the people-focused Anchorage work sessions.

Posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: work | 1 Comment »

Too Old for All-Nighters

Sleepy WomanBack in college, I would pull studying all-nighters with some degree of regularity. I’d stock up on caffeine & snacks, turn on good music, open the window for some cool air and work my butt off. Usually, I’d be either prepping for a test, developing code or writing a paper.

Even as a young adult, I would continue the habit with whatever procrastinated chore was required. Company coming? All night cleaning jag. Behind on a work project? All night catch-up session. Need to drive somewhere without losing any time? All night road trip.

I’ve gotten much older, and hopefully somewhat wiser. Unfortunately, my job still occasionally requires the all night approach, and my body doesn’t have the resilience to handle it.

Last night I was up at 1:30 am for a system cutover, and never went back to bed. The night before, I got up at 4am to get to the airport. I am just wiped out today, bone-deep tired. I can’t type accurately, speak clearly or focus at all. I have to be careful because sleep deprivation can trigger a migraine.

To add insult to injury, I have given up caffeine. Mostly. Compensating for lack of sleep with caffeine is an old, bad habit and I don’t want to fall back into it. Occasionally when I’m really tired I’ll have a cup of tea, which has about a third the caffeine of coffee, and this morning I did indulge, but it didn’t make much difference.

After my noon meeting, I can go take a nap. I probably won’t come back into the office afterward, but will just check email after I wake up.

Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: health, work | 5 Comments »

Movie Rant

As you can see from my prior post, I really like movies. I like talking about them, quoting them, and critiquing them. Hollywood, however, hasn’t made it very easy to be a movie lover anymore.

Now, I recognize that blaming “Hollywood” for ills is not a new thing; it’s a game that gets played for a lot of different reasons, a lot of different ways. Further, moviemaking has become a lot more diverse than just what’s made in that Los Angeles suburb. So, when I say ‘Hollywood”, I’m not just talking about the movie manufacturers there, I’m talking about the whole industry. Broad brush. Maybe that’s not fair, but the issue of the way movies are given the green light, made, sold and distributed is killing me.

First off, the experience of going to a theater is a ridiculously expensive grind. $9-$10 to get in. $10 for popcorn and a soda. Noisy people. Dirty theaters. Many times (I’ll admit not always) uncomfortable seating. Inadequately lit screens. Most of all, God help us, commercials. Result: Jeri and I rarely go anymore. It just isn’t worth the better viewing experience of the big screen and good sound; indeed, the only reason to go is something that is very good that we know will play best on a big screen with good sound. Our recently purchased plasma TV even kills some of that, though.

Second: Can we occasionally make something other than a sequel, please? Look, there are sequels I enjoy; there’s even one on my movie favorites list. But Hollywood is sucking the life out of stories and characters. Example: Shrek I, cute. Shrek II, still cute, but only because new characters were added and it still felt a little worn. Shrek III, pretty stale. Shrek IV: coming in 2010, whether you want it or not. Another example: Pirates of the Caribbean. Same sort of pattern, though in my opinion, both the second and the third movies were waaaaaaay over long. Apparently that franchise isn’t done either; next up, I understand, is Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Johnny Depp Discovering Making Money is OK. Mind you, there’s a difference between a sequel and a series: Harry Potter is series, based on a book series. James Bond renews itself with new Bonds, and is also based (albeit very loosely) on a book series.

Third: Take your useless, grotesque, pornographic horror movies and dispose of them in the proper receptacle…the one that flushes. Why are those entertainment? What’s the draw to seeing someone tortured to death? I suppose they sell, but (and this is a big question that someone probably has or should write a book on) doesn’t an artist have some moral responsibility to create art that isn’t just, well, sicko?

Finally, I think that if you are selective, TV is doing better stuff. We’ve gotten a ton more enjoyment out of Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, and Big Love, than movies. Others I know were very into The Sopranos, and 24. They are more complex and better written. They have more time to tell their stories, true, but that doesn’t excuse that TV may be outmaneuvering traditional Hollywood.

So Hollywood, get off your duffs and do a better job!

Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007 by Bryan
Under: movies | 2 Comments »

Disgusting

sea.gifAfter a slow starting but satisfying beating of Tampa Bay at home last week, the Seawhawks decided to try the same pattern again this week in Arizona. The Cardinals decided that they didn’t like that script…and so the Hawks lost 23-20.

Much is being made of the fumbled handoff near the end of the game between Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander. That’s overblown. It stinks, but you can’t heap on the blame on them alone. First off, I don’t think you can blame Matt at all; apparently, Shaun blew the play by his own admission. Second, there was a Cardinal in the backfield…that meant any problem would have resulted in a big loss at best anyway, and that’s on the line. Third, the defense didn’t stop Arizona from marching right down for a field goal. Finally, the coaching staff didn’t even try to manage the clock on that last Arizona drive after the fumble…the Cardinals kicker made the kick with 1 second left, putting all the pressure on the kick returner to win the game…that’s not gonna happen often. So, if that pretty much sounds like a team failure, it is. This is not to mention letting the other team go up 17-0 on you before you get on the board.

I’m mostly concerned with the Seahawks’ offense right now. Matt looks good, for the most part. The receivers are doing ok. The problem is the line and Shaun, and I’m not sure who’s more to blame. Shaun looks very sluggish, especially early in the game. He’s not hitting the line with authority, and he’s giving up on plays. The line isn’t opening very good holes, and the pass blocking could be better too, though it’s been ok. Maybe Shaun ought to look at the way Nate Burleson scored his first touchdown…after catching the ball at the five, he just flat refused to go down, and ended up spinning into the end zone to get the team on the board and on the way to coming back.

The defense is playing the run a bit soft, but I think some of that is because they are undersized, and are missing Marcus Tubbs, who is out for the year (again), and draws at least a double team, eating blockers. Still, they hit hard and yesterday they just got left on the field far too long…no help from the offense.

So I was pretty disgusted by the performance yesterday overall. Now we play Cincinnati at home. Their fans are no doubt disgusted too, as they managed to lose to the Browns, a fairly cruddy team, 51-45. Nice defense, there, guys. Must have been fun to watch, though.

Posted on Monday, September 17th, 2007 by Bryan
Under: sports | Comments Off