Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pure Genius

As I was walking through the B terminal of the SeaTac airport yesterday, I spotted this interesting contraption, the "chargecarte" - it's a machine that you use to charge your cell phone. It has slots for all of the major phone manufacturers. It makes a lot of sense- people forget to bring cell phone chargers all the time. When you need one, you really need one. Looks like it's made by the SmarteCarte people - you know, the ones who give you $0.25 back when you return the luggage cart that you rented for $3. Somehow, at $3 for 30 minutes, the price for this device actually seems surprisingly reasonable, especially given its utility!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Speaking of lightning...

A few years ago we had a fantastic lightning storm here. I spent a long time out on the balcony desperately trying to take pictures of the storm with my old Fuji digital camera. The camera could only go down to 1/4 of a second, and had no manual focus, so it was perpetually unhappy about the adventure. After some hundreds of completely black images, I did manage to catch a few pictures of lightning - this one originally looked like a mostly black picture with a small white line in the lower right, but some photoshopping by pl (thanks!) really brought out the details. Guess I should have used a tripod though, eh? Were such a storm to happen again I think I'd be able to get a better shot with my current camera - but storms are quite rare here, so I may have to wait a while longer :)

Seattle, MI?

Today my labmate tr and I ventured outside the building for lunch, determined to finally check out the newly relocated Dexter Deli [bwst]. After eating (I had a turkey sandwich - perfectly edible, a nice change of pace, though nothing to really write home about...) we looked outside and noticed it had started to rain. Then there was some lightening and a crack of thunder fewer than 5 seconds later. (tr, being from the midwest, scoffed at the paltry thunder and lightning.) Well, we thought to ourselves, best get back to lab before it starts raining harder. Heh. Apparently the gods were putting us in our place for daring to actually take a lunch break because no sooner did we get about a block down Dexter before the skies opened up and started pelting us with hail! Sideways hail, about the size of peas, and it HURT. We started running, but had to wait at a stoplight, so hid behind a telephone pole to escape the ravaging storm. By the time we made it back to the lab, my jeans and shoes were soaked. Glancing out the windows at the streets below we noticed that there were mini icebergs floating down the gutters of the inundated streets. Definitely crazy weather. Some 10 or 15 minutes later the storm abated for the most part. KOMO4's webcam managed to capture some of the excitement - not every day you see a shot like this.
Thanks to Samantha at metblogs for the link to the photo.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Only a little over a week late, here is a shot of all the stamps I had to put on my absentee ballot this year. The ballot's large number of votable things contributed to its longer length, heavier weight, and requirement for 63 cents postage. The election, of course, turned out rather nicely.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Windy City

Note to those who are as naive as me: if you're walking around Chicago on a windy afternoon, freezing your butt off as the wind whips between the buildings and makes you shiver to your core, and you decide to remark that Chicago's nickname sure is apt, you WILL get pounced on and told by anyone "in the know" that, in fact, that nickname did not arise because of Chicago's most famous weather pattern. Instead, it originated from olde-tyme Chicagonians' love for telling long stories (i.e., long-winded). Huh? I'm SURE that the irony of the nickname was not lost on whoever came up with it, but come on, it's WINDY there! Like, air moving fast, cold air at that, blowing your hair around, pushing you over, making the trees sway, WINDY. Sheesh.

That said, I spent a few days in Chicago last month for the BMES conference, which meant I didn't see much of the city except for the inside of the conference hotel for the majority of the time I was there. Luckily I had a little time after the conference was over to explore before flying home. I checked out the "Bean" - i.e. the Gehry structure at Millenium Park (see pic above), and also walked the "Mag Mile" - Michigan Avenue. I then turned south, but along the lakeshore, and walked down to Navy Pier and eventually down to Grant Park before heading north again to complete my loop. I was disappointed to miss the Art Institute - it came highly recommended - so I will have to go there the next time I'm in the gateway to the midwest. I also didn't have time to make it to the Sears or Hancock towers.

I was also fortunate to be in the company of people who grew up in Chicago, so I managed to get some great food while I was there! Italian food was wonderful at both Rosebud on Rush and Club Lucky. Giordano's for pizza tasted alarmingly like Delfino's - go figure. Lunch at Potbelly Sandwich works (twice!) was awesome (and so much better than the truly craptacular lunch the conference provided).

As for the bean, I actually went there twice - once in the evening and again the following day. As I first approached it, I thought it was enormously overrated - till I came within about 20 feet of it, and then it became obvious that it really was all it was cracked up to be. Ond of the neatest things about it is that if you stand underneath the curved part and look up, it looks like you are standing at the bast of a long cylindrical shaft - when in reality it's just a smooth surface. The picture only sort of conveys this phenomenon.

Anyway, the rest of my pics are here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Transit of Mercury

Today is a rare celestial event - Mercury is passing in front of the sun (the small circular dot in the lower left portion of the sun in the above image). If the sun was actually out and if I had a solar filter and a telescope, I could be viewing it myself. But instead, I'll just have to be satisfied with images from the SOHO satellite.

Blue sky!

View of Queen Anne hill from my desk - blue sky!

Monday, November 06, 2006

More rain news

Interesting blog entry from the Washington Trails Association about the rain/flooding today. The crazy thing is, there has only been about half as much rain today as there was that day in October of 2003. Sure doesn't feel like it.

They weren't kidding.

It's been doing nothing but rain for the past few days... and hard rain at that. Hence, flooding imminent.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Here we go again...

Well, we can't say we weren't warned!