Merry Christmas

Another Christmas has come and gone, and we’re approaching the New Year. It was a tough season, with my crushing work deadlines running right up to January 1; we didn’t do all the decorating and hoo-rah that we normally do, but you know what? As the Grinch discovered,

“[Christmas] came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!”

He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!
Continue Reading...

New Look, Same Great Taste

You may notice that the look and feel of my blog has changed. I felt like it was time for a facelift.

The only real change you might see is that I’ve added a menu at the top. Not that there a lot of navigation that you might want to do, but there it is.

Hope you enjoy the updated theme, and let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvements.

Cold, Dark, and Rainy

At last the weather has entered the classic Washington pattern of short, dim days, heavy cloud cover, and copious rain. Not that I prefer these conditions, but as a Washington native, it doesn’t feel like winter until the rain starts.

Well, yesterday the rain certainly started… And didn’t stop. By the time I got home, nary a square inch of me remained dry. That’s no big deal, but it was also quite windy, which I don’t care for.

Because of the wind, and the difficulty of seeing in dark, rainy conditions, I opted to take the Burke-Gilman Trail home from Seattle, rather than going across the 520 bridge and up through Kirkland. Especially lately, I’ve felt really nervous about riding down Market Street. At every intersection, cars turn right across the bike lane, and they never stop or seem to notice me. It’s very anxiety-inducing.

Plus, riding in the dark with car headlights blazing into my eyes, with raindrops refracting their light, it’s nearly impossible to see what’s ahead of me. I have super-powerful lights, but they don’t help when my vision is obscured.

So I took the Burke.

In the summer I don’t care for the Burke: too many other people, too flat, too boring, and a couple miles longer.

But in these conditions, there aren’t many other people, and flat and boring mean predictable, which is exactly what I want. Plus, with no cars, it not only feels safer, but it’s much easier to see.

When I got home, I realized something else: going across 520, I have 14 stoplights from the time I leave the UW to the time I get home. But riding on the Burke, I have only two stoplights.

Here’s a typical across-the-520-bridge commute:

Here’s the on-the-Burke around the north end route:

As a result, when I checked my times at the end, I had the odd experience of having a longer moving time (1:22 for 21.4 miles, versus 1:16 for 19.5 miles… Don’t judge me! It’s December, it’s dark, wet, windy, and nasty. You try riding faster.) but a shorter overall time (1:23 versus 1:29). I spent almost 15 minutes stopped when I went through Kirkland, compared with only one minute stopped going on the Burke.

So that’s interesting. My take-away: I may mix up my commutes more, especially on those dark, wet days when riding in traffic is extra-dangerous.

Cozy Coloring

Computers sure do smooth out some things. Coloring on my Surface allows him to erase more easily, use colors that can’t exist in real life (rainbow, star sparkle, and hot lava are popular), and — best of all — undo mistakes.

I also like not using up reams of paper on half-finished scribbles.

We keep computer usage under close control, but this is a case where it really does work for us.

Let Them Eat Cake

I work for a software company. The thing about software companies is they’re always making improvements to their software. And so periodically — typically every 60 days or so — we release those changes out into the wild. When that happens, the other technical writer and I have to make sure the Help Center is all up to date and reflecting those changes.

But the previous release, scheduled for early November, was canceled. I guess the devs needed more time for the new features. Unfortunately, I’d already made changes to the Help Center, and it would’ve been a huge waste of time and effort to try to roll it back. (Don’t ask why.) Continue Reading...

Christmas Movie Madness

My team at work is doing a rainbow unicorn Christmas decoration theme (I found this!). In the spirit of embracing the utter silliness, I have embarked upon an ambitious scheme of watching one Hallmark-style* Christmas movie every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Madness, indeed.

Not that they’re hard to find on Netflix, but I’ve found a handy list of all the Christmas movies available right now.

I’m just going to give my elevator-pitch summary of the experience. I’m not going recap plots, which are trivially easy to find online (let’s be honest: so are reviews). I’ll also include a link to a review I think pretty accurately reflects the experience. Continue Reading...