Archive for November, 2006

Snow for the Holidays

November 28, 2006 Leave a comment

When we got to our gate in Chicago O’Hare, I saw that the temperature in Seattle was 33° F. I thought to myself, "If it were to rain today, we might end up with a little dusting of snow." Sure enough, once on the plane the pilot announced that it was snowing in Seattle. Here we spent nearly a week in northern Illinois without snow and relatively warm nights, and it was snowing in Seattle at near sea level.

As we flew over Seattle about to land, we could see there was a light dusting of snow but some dark clouds were looming. As we passed through Bellevue on I-5 the snow started really falling, but as large pebbles – more like hail, except consisting of slush. After we picked up Suzie in Woodinville and got home, I started to leave to head to the grocery store for milk and a few items for chicken parmesan I planned on making. The snow was now really coming down. There was actually ice on the road in less-traveled lanes. Good thing my Audi has full-time all-wheel drive, but what scares me is the idiots on the road who don’t know how to drive in such conditions. Granted, many people aren’t used to this weather that live here, but when it’s icy you don’t try to peel out in order to "break" free from the ice sheets. And you don’t take a corner fast, like those dumbasses that wouldn’t hit me hard had I been to the intersection coming out of the grocery store just a second or two later.

It took quite some time to get home, which isn’t far from the grocery store. Traffic didn’t come idiot drivers much change to show their stupidity, but traffic was going a little too slow (main lanes were merely wet). It’s supposed to snow through tomorrow morning and remain icy through the night, so I’m not sure if greater Seattle will be open for business.

At least the chicken parmesan turned out good. I made our own merlot marinara and threw together the breading on egg-washed chicken breasts. Tracy made good parmesan and olive oil noodles and Suzie – as always – chewed on her bone under the table, joining the family for dinner.

Categories: Holiday

How not to Run a Business

November 28, 2006 Leave a comment

For Thanksgiving Tracy and I travelled to her parent’s house in Illinois. Our flight left at 8:25 AM on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Because of holiday travel, Tracy and I left with plenty of time to make it through check-in and security. Just before arriving at the airport, I got a call from an unusual looking phone number and figured it was another one of those crank calls. Several minutes later I checked my new voicemail to find that our flight to Chicago had been canceled.

The problems began there.

With the short warning, there was no time to make a flight at 7:30 AM so we were confirmed for a 3:48 PM flight. That would put us back her parent’s house at 1:00 AM Thanksgiving day. The lady at the counter said that our flight wasn’t canceled but was delayed because of mechanical failure. Later at one of the four gates that we may leave from on standby, I learned that the mechanical failure was found the night before. I’m glad they found it, but if they had that much warning why couldn’t they had a plan ready on one of the busiest travel days of the year?

We were put on standby for a 10:30 AM flight but that flight was already overbooked by 8, and they screwed up our place on the standby list, so with just one first class seat left, Tracy and I weren’t about to split up. The lady at the gate then put us on the standby list for our original flight which we barely made because it was about to close the doors. We finally got out of SeaTac some time after 11:00 AM.

We’ve been placed on standby for flights that we were confirmed for, but I have learned that if you aren’t confirmed by the airlines’ sites themselves, you aren’t actually confirmed – at least, that’s what one airline told me once and it seems to hold true with our experience. We also have pieces of our luggage missing almost every time we fly, and on the first trip we took when our luggage was new the frame was broken on the largest piece. The airline wouldn’t fix it, claiming it was normal wear and tear. Again, the frame was broken and partly sticking out of the fabric. Currently, our luggage has missing logos, zippers, and a lock that wasn’t even on the zipper when we traveled (and it was a TSA-approved lock anyway).

If there was any better way of traveling in about as little as time, we would.

This is a perfect example of how not to run a business.

Categories: Holiday

Review of Casino Royale

November 19, 2006 Leave a comment
Tracy and I went to see Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale – the latest installment of James Bond. Daniel Craig turned out to be a good Bond, but was the 21st film in the series as good as GoldenEye, arguably one of the best Bond films of all time? In my opinion, it was on par.
The movie is supposed to be the prequel, starting from how Bond got his ’00’ status through his first mission – nevermind the fact that ‘M’ is a woman (the original was a man), the cars are new as are the dresses, and so on. But that’s one thing that makes Bond so fun – it doesn’t really matter, because it’s about the action and the chase. Bond also learns some important lessons and makes a few decisions about his drinks during his first mission, which adds some humor – just like another scene that, frankly, was painful to laugh at. Toward the end, there was a bit of a lull, but necessary for not only the plot of the movie but also the series.
Casino Royale was one of the best Bond films in my opinion.
Categories: Entertainment

Our New HD DVD Player

November 18, 2006 Leave a comment
The difference between night and day: that’s the difference you see right away when you plug-in your HD DVD player and pop in a movie.
Recently Microsoft released the Xbox 360 HD DVD drive for a very reasonable price, if you already have the Xbox 360. It’s really just the drive with the Xbox 360 – with all its graphic power – doing most of the work. The package comes with Peter Jackson’s King Kong. It was an okay movie (just long, and not as enthralling as Lord of the Rings) but in HD DVD it was truly stunning. Even the initial FBI warning was crystal clear with great color, especially when we compared it to Lord of the Rings (since both were produced at WETA, they should be comparable).
We aren’t considering replacing our current DVD collection (except, perhaps, for Lord of the Rings since I believe it will be a timeless classic), but will probably look to HD DVDs first. There aren’t too many right now. Blu-ray has more movies available currently, but players are at least twice as expensive (one thing driving up the cost of the PlayStation 3 since a Blu-ray drive is built-in, and they are sold at a severe loss still) and Blu-ray failed to deliver on some of its promises – one reason Microsoft is strongly backing HD DVD. Lots of comparisons are available.
Categories: Entertainment

Microsoft Photosynth CTP

November 10, 2006 Leave a comment
Microsoft demonstrated an acquisition that I’m sure will eventually transform photo sharing as we know it, and supersede all photo sharing sites today. We recently release a Community Technical Preview (pre-beta) of Microsoft Photosynth, which splices pictures together in a revolutionary way to allow you to browse areas in 3D. This is also a great way to access tons of photos in an easily and natural way – similar to how you browse the environment around you.
Check it out. If you’re on dial-up, it’s not recommended but should work. Frankly, I think it’s worth the way for downloads.