Archive for December, 2004

tsunami relief

I have been thinking about the tsunami that occurred last Sunday, and how modern society will remember this event. This is the type of event that accounts for all the creation and flood stories seen throughout every culture. As technical people, we have a concept of what is occuring, and can explain that a tsunami is created when an uplift, vertical movement, occurs between two plates. We understand that these events are normal geological processes of our planet, and not the works of vengeful gods.

This understanding does not stop the need for help and money in these areas. While I don’t have much money to give or the ability to fly to these ravaged parts of the world I do have the ability to help generate donations via the web.

“How can you do that?” you ask.

Well, after being one to eat bad things, take pictures of them, but never post them… and seeing Steve, Don’t Eat It (via kristyk) I have decided to test out odd things from the asian and russian grocery stores. I will be going to visit the stores later tonight, picking up items that no sane human would eat, and then eat them right in front of you.

Okay, you said what you are doing, now why are you doing it?

I will be eating these things, and posting them, until I see that my reader’s have donated a total of $500.00 to the tsunami relief effort.

Please, go to the following link:
Select your favorite organization, donate your desired amount, and then send an email to telling me how much you donated. I will update the total as people donate.

Why not just do money collection through paypal?

Paypal would be taking a cut both ways, and I want you to have the choice of where you donate. I’m trusting you to donate what you tell me.

Does this sound like a good idea? Will you help?

I’m taking request for items you would like me to eat until the end of the day.

Posts and photos will be at

service journalism in reverse

Dear the Internet,

What’s going on for New Year’s Eve in Seattle? I’m still hanging out in the snowy midwestern territories, basking in the holiday afterglow yet starting to think about needing a plan for Friday night. Without usual access to traditional media, I’m wondering about the best options for ringing out 2004.

Talk amongst yourselves / share the love —

[ j ]

Unanswered questions

“Recommendation” is a strange word. It has a certain sense of choice about it, as though you could take it or leave it. “Recommendation” as strictly defined by, is the act of recommending, of presenting as worthy of acceptance or trial. One might imagine “presenting” involves a certain lack of force.

I fly out of SeaTac airport very rarely, and it’s always interesting to see what’s changed over the course of a year. For instance, it was only a couple of years ago I was standing in line at the United Airlines check-in counter. This year (on christmas eve), the counter is virtually deserted — no doubt a testament to the number of people who have checked in on-line to escape the queues.

The line at the security checkpoint moves swiftly now; they have plasma screens up now, reminding people about what to do, and we are a people cowed, who will do everything we can to avoid being strip-searched and felt up. There’s only one question on my mind, that the husband absolutely will not let me stop and ask, since it might mark me as a terrorist, or someone worthy of being put on the no-fly list.

If it’s a “recommendation” that you take off your shoes, why are the guards forbidding passage through the xray machines until you’re shoeless? What sort of “recommendation” is that? And has anyone ever refused to obey their recommendation and lived to tell the tale? And why isn’t this shoe-removing procedure standard at all airports? Are Seattle-ites particularly prone to hiding contraband in their sneakers?

planes and trains, no automobiles?

In this, the season of national spending, it looks like those who hoped for a way to catch a flight that didn’t involve cashing in on airport karma, pricey taxis, or the 194 from downtown will only need to wait five more years for their wishes to come true. Sound Transit is finally planning to make he light rail system a little less pointless. For now, it’s just a proposal and not a full-blown $holiday miracle, but I’m willing to concede that it’s a bit of good news. And just in time for the 2010 Olympics — who knew?


strangercrombie final

With the end of the auction, so does our Strangercrombie 2004 obsession comes to an end. The crack team of metblogs statisticians and eBay scrapers present this updated graph of final bid vs. stated value for non-“priceless” items:

[data (csv)]

Markers are sized proportional to the number of bids. By our back of the envelope calculations, the bids totaled $32,258 for items worth $23,979 to $413,901 (depending if you value “priceless” items at $1 or $9,999). The biggest absolute difference between value and bid went for the Showbox package, possibly reflecting a gamble on likelihood of sold out events. At the cheap extreme was the package for Pet Lovers, raising questions about this town’s love of their furry friends. On the other side, the most expensive packages were “does your band suck?” and “you answer the questions in Savage Love” proving that people still hope that money really does buy influence in this town.

Readers — did you buy something in this year’s auction? Or did it seem like letdown after last year’s “Kathleen Wilson leaves Capitol Hill” video (cruelly bidded away from us at the last moment! curses eBay snipers!)? Help us continue our fixation and let us know how it turns out! We do love to readed purchased editorial content.

stranger sellout watch

The Stranger’s annual “Strangercrombie” charity auction # ends in just under five hours. As a public service, we present a look at the savviness of eBay bidders.

As of 12:30 pm, most non-“priceless” items were going for below their stated value. The graph below plots current bids against actual package value. (the red line represents the line of actual value.)

Right now, the (second) most underpriced non-priceless package is for Club Medusa Mirabeau Room (worth $3000, going for $61) and the most overpriced is for Neumo’s (worth $200, going for $203.50). Biggest spenders are for “you write I, anonymous”, “you write Savage Love” (both “priceless), and “does your band suck?” (a steal at $1525 for a $5000+ package).

Hit the auction before 5:30 to get in on the action. [ebay]

(graphs & data after the jump)

Tastes like birthday

I’m going to digress immediately, to show you guys the pendant my friend gave me for my birthday, made by Anna Sim (actual pendant about 1 inch long). We were wandering around Northgate Mall, which is not a place I usually go to due to the whole “getting across the 520 bridge” thing that I hate to do. I saw a store called Silverworks, which I found out later is actually related to the Silverworks CART that has been at the mall for a long time. Anyway, the Silverworks STORE has only been at the mall since about May. They rock (the cart probably also rocked, but I never stop at those carts). There are a lot of pretty things that I’ve not seen anywhere else, and apparently the people who own the store go on buying trips all over the place so that’s probably why their stuff is a bit more unique than the usual. If you do go there, ask to see their silver pendants with the inset feathers. Yes, I said FEATHERS. They only had 3 or 4 left when I was there, and these things are definitely a conversation piece.

Back to the topic at hand: today’s my birthday, and as usual I had to stop at Wibbley’s for my birthday shake. Yes, I know it’s about zero degrees outside and bitterly cold, and for more reasons than one I really wish my birthday was in July, but damnit, Wibbley’s gives you a free shake for your birthday, and I am going to drink that shake because it’s free. And it’s tasty.

My husband gazed at me fondly from across the table as I tried my hardest to suck my shake container inside-out. “Does it taste like birthday?” he quipped.

It sure does.

If anyone knows of other stores giving out freebies for the birthday crowd, please announce it in the comments. I’ve got a birthday coming up next year too, and I want to accumulate a whole free meal. PS don’t tell me about the Nara Grill free dessert: it was only ice cream and really not worth sitting through the meal for.

And you people who are heading over to Wibbley’s to get YOUR free shake: please observe the freebie-etiquette and don’t just demand a free shake and run off. BUY something to eat, and then wash it down with the free shake.



Originally uploaded by joshc.

After two days of sunshine, people are already abandoning their winterization accessories.

Yesterday, I saw students in shorts and flip
flops. Today, a cast aside scarf.

10 shopping days

With just ten shopping days left to find the perfect object to represent your consumer holiday feelings, it’s likely that most of us are starting to panic. For those seeking options of a non-mass-produced nature, the good people from I heart rummage have been convening more often than usual.

This month’s last chance to check out the goods comes this Sunday at the Crocodile Cafe from noon to four pm. Stumble over after brunch and find the perfect gift and stimulate the local economy in the process.

Any other great local places to engage in holiday related shopping activities? Help your favorite procrastinators by filling the comments area with suggestions.

Erasing the Boundaries

Today’s New York Times article on e-books in libraries is quite interesting (the article is titled “Libraries Reach Out, Online” but I don’t intend to link to a website demanding a login and password so you’ll have to find it yourself). In summary, the article notes that the New York Public Library has 3000 electronic books. It also mentions the King County Library System (yay) — they have 8500 e-books and as of November, 634 e-audiobooks. I will spend as little time as possible stating the obvious benefits: immediate gratification, and when your time is up, your authorization to access to the book is simply removed. And for you germ-a-phobes — yes, someone may have taken that e-book into the bathroom with them, but you will never need to fear that germs have followed the book back to the library and contaminated all the other e-books. (Oh. Is that just me?)

I stumbled across the KCLS e-book system about a year ago I think, and after a rather steep and flailing learning curve (installing and configuring a new version of Adobe Reader), I was finally on my way. I “borrowed” a few books, but I suspect that I’ll always be one of those readers who finds it easier to read a paper book than an electronic one. However, the lure is there: I was extremely turned on by the fact that I didn’t have to drive to the library to get the book. And I knew that if I ever went on one of those “restful” vacations I keep promising myself, I’d be able to load up the laptop with a dozen novels, instead of having to carry around a lot of potentially dead weight.

But I digress. The point is this NY Times article, and how my imagination has been captured by it. Right now, there’s a reasonably painless way for me to get books from other libraries through inter-library loan. I wonder if in the near future, I’m going to see the same thing for e-books? With the internet at my fingertips and living in my house, I don’t want to be restricted to the 8500 e-books at KCLS. Hell, I don’t even want to be restricted by this country. I want to know what they have at the Sydney Library in Australia.

I know there are already “internet libraries” out there offering classic titles in public domain. But I think the time is right for libraries to form a network offering e-books to a wider audience (Libraries of the world, Unite!!), and when that time happens, well, someone just point me to the line for membership cards. The future is bright. But what am I doing here? There’s an electronic copy of Coraline by Neil Gaiman — a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while — waiting for me right here, right now, on my laptop. RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NOW.

How hot is that?

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