Thursday, July 28, 2005

Amazing Breakdancing Video

Check out this video for a new album from a band called "Mint Royale". As near as I can tell, Mint Royale is a UK based band, and the have some sort of connection with the hip hop dancers in the video. I've seen some of the guys in the video in other dance-offs and movies (although I can't recall where or what movies right now), and they are sick.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Insurance Fraud? It Should Be

I'm pissed at my insurance company (and all other companies in general, but this one in particular).

About 2 months ago, my car quit working. I parked it in my driveway, and just let it sit for a while, planning to get it fixed eventually, but not really needing the car right away. So I changed my insurance on it to a Comprehensive plan only, saving myself about $50 a month. Since they had already billed me for the next months service, I had a credit on my account. So far, no big deal.

About one month ago, I was going to rent a car and drive to Canada (which is in itself a long story, and to be told another time). Instead of paying out a ton of money for crappy rental car insurance, I changed my policy back to the original amounts for the weekend only (three days) just to be insured while driving a rental car. They assured me that this would cost about $15 for the weekend. As it turns out, I didn't go to Canada due to a slightly enlarged spleen. But I did change my policy back to the Comprehensive coverage only after the three days, and when I could see straight again.

Two days ago, I got a note from my bank saying that I had $130 in overdraft fees. This certainly annoyed me, especially since I had no idea why I should be paying anything out of that account, since I had a credit in my insurance and no other bills coming due. As it turns out, during those three days, the insurance company sent me a bill for the full coverage amount (and took it out of my bank account since I have automatic payment). Basically, I paid $60 for three days worth of coverage, and then they were nice enough to put another credit on my account.

What really pisses me off is how readily companies will take money out of a bank account, and how much of a fit they will go into when they have to put it back. I know that it isn't the bank's fault, because it is much easier (and takes less clearance) to put money into an account than to take it out. In essence, my insurance company pre-paid themselves for their service that they hadn't performed yet, kept the money as a "credit" on my account when I changed my policy (which is like saying "I'm going to keep this money safe for you, even though technically it's mine"), billed me again, caused me $130 in overdraft fees, but then were nice enough to give me another "credit" for my own money, minus the fees. Sweet. Now that is a deal if I've ever heard of one.

And it isn't just insurance companies that do this: cable companies, cell phones, land lines, etc. Everyone gets paid up front for a service that they haven't performed yet, and may not perform. I think that I am going to try to do this at work. I can imagine how well HR will take it when I tell them that I want my paychecks up front, with no guarantees that I will be working those hours, and any money over the amount that I work will be applied to the next paycheck and not given back to the company. I think that they will like that.

Monday, July 25, 2005

That Whole Blingo Thing

Well, it turns out that Blingo isn't just a shot in the dark after all. Today I received my first confirmed "winnings" in the mail. True, it was only a coupon to see a movie, but that is $10 that I now don't have to spend to see some dumb movie (which basically describes all the movies that are out right now).

I'm sure that the times that you will win an Ipod, Playstation, or Computer are very few and very far between, but a free movie now and again ain't that bad either.

So if you want to see a free movie, sign up for Blingo today!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Team USA Wins the Gold!

The past three days has seen the ultimate frisbee games at the World Games in Duisburg, Germany. The World Games is a sort of tryout for sports to see if they are feasible as an Olympic sport, and so the IOC is present and taking notes during the Games.

That being said, Team USA has finished with the Gold medal, beating Australia in the finals 13-11. Why does this matter to you? Well, because my girlfriend is on the team, and I'm happy for her, that's why. And also because it is pretty sweet for Ultimate Frisbee in general, as the IOC has been pretty amazed by the level of the sport (athleticism, community support, organization, etc). So we may see Ultimate Frisbee in some Summer Olympics within an 8-12 year period.

Here are some pictures taken by one of Team USA's wives who got to go along for the ride. Lucky girl.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Swat. Step. Squish. Survey. Repeat

I was at the local park, walking my dog (well to be honest, he was walking me, but that is another story), and I spent some time watching this woman.

Usually that comment is followed by a description of how hot this particular woman was, which would be why I stared at her for about 20 minutes. But this time, it was something different. I think that this particular woman was singlehandedly trying to eradicate the entire bee population of the park. It wasn't just an ordinary woman, it was a woman bent on genocide.

I didn't pay much attention at first, since quite a few homeless people hang out around that park day and night doing strange things, but her actions finally got to me. She would find a "target", swat with a rolled up newspaper, step on it, squish it to ensure death, and then look up and survey the surrounding area for more bees.

Swat. Step. Squish. Survey. Repeat.

It was brutally efficient, and totally unnecessary. Had she had some bee related incindent in her past that caused this action? Had a swarm run her out of house and home? Or was she just opposed to bees? Who knows. I just hope that when I am old I have a hobby that I can pursue with as much tenacity as she.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

You know, I'm kind of suprised by the lack of reference to the new Harry Potter book around the blogging community (or, at least, the blogging community that I associate myself with). I would have thought that there would be reviews, spoilers, pictures of people dressed like Hagrid and Dumbledore going to some convention, and the like. But so far, nothing.

That being said, I am going to undertake to fix this problem. I recently acquired the new Harry Potter book by JK Rowling, and what follows is my review:

It's a rather large book, coming in at 652 pages in the hardcover edition. The first chapter (the only one that I have read so far), isn't all that exciting. I don't think that will set the tone for the rest of the book, although I have some doubts as to what exactly will occur in this book.

According to the blurb on the dust jacket, it sounds like this installment in the Harry Potter series will only serve to set up later installments. It says, and I quote:

...Harry will search for the full and complex story of the boy who becamse Lord Voldemort-and thereby find what may be his only vulnerability.

To me, it sounds like JK Rowling has come across something that every writer of a long series runs into: boredom with her characters. Basically, authors start writing about certain characters and they have all these ideas for plots, adventures, twists, turns, asides, insides, outsides, and themes. Sooner or later, these ideas run out, but the overarching story isn't complete yet. What do they do when this happens? Well, they don't give up, because their editors and fans would have their heads. So instead of taking a break and re-connecting with the characters, they cop out. They write another story in the series, but this story has nothing to do with the actual series. By this I mean that they write a pre-history, or they create a story of one of the supporting characters, or something along the lines of stepping away from the direct storyline.

What it boils down to is that most authors need to expand their creativity as artists, while most editors want to narrow it down to what has been selling well for them.

Of course, I have only read the first chapter of the book, so I can't really say that this will happen. But, once I'm done with the book (sometime between 8 hours from now to 1 week from now), I'll let you know a little more.

What Do I Do With An iBook?

Here's a question for you: what should I do with my old (and the emphasis is on old here) iBook? It was a gift, and I never really used it at all. I've got some files on there, but nothing that I need and/or want anymore.

Here are the specs:
  • 3 Gig G3 iBook

  • 300MHz

  • Mac OS 9.0

  • 64MB virtual memory

  • 32 MB SDRAM built in memory

And here are what I am considering using it for:
  1. Give it away as a contest

  2. Use it for an internet only hookup

  3. ...

What I'm asking is this: does anyone out there in technology-land have a better idea of what I could use this for? I suppose that I could put some playlists on it and use it as a really big ipod for at home. But there has to be something better than that...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Head, The Shield

Evidently the last line of defense that I employ (after negotiation, dodging and weaving, and running away) is to take it in the head.

I spent last Monday night in the Emergency Room of the local hospital (which just goes to show what happens when you get cocky), and ended up getting my 23rd through 30th stitch underneath my right eye. Now you may think that this makes me look badass and tough, and you may be right, but that is beside the point. The point is that all 30 of these stitches occurred within a 7 1/4" diameter, that being my hat size and ergo, my head size.

Does my head emit some sort of subsonic signal that just screams to the world "C'mon! Give me your best shot you pantywaist!"? And if so, how do I turn that off (or better yet, turn it into "C'mon! You know you want me!")?

Updates, 7/22/05: I went in today to get my stitches removed, and I have a feeling that I would have been better off taking them out myself. The first nurse that looked at me had hands that shook like an epileptic at a Laser Floyd show (I'm going to hell for that one), and she only managed to get out 5 of the stitches before calling in her counterpart, big Doug, because she couldn't see the stitches.

Now big Doug had surprisingly tender hands for such a large human being. Unfortunately, he didn't have eyesight any better than Twitchy McShakes, my first nurse. When I got home, I went into my bathroom, looked in the mirror and actually saw parts of the thread that they had left in my face. Fortunately, I also have surprisingly tender hands for such a large person (larger than life, perhaps), and I managed to get the rest of the stitches out with some tweezers and a small pair of scissors. Fun times, let me tell you.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

KEXP Bar-B-Que

This past weekend I went to the KEXP Barbeque in the parking lot of the studio (pictures here). And I have to say, it was amazing. I only had one ticket, so I went by myself and just hung out, enjoying the bands, the people watching, the sun, and the food.

Speaking of the bands, four of them played throughout the day. Starting off was Crooked Fingers, who I hadn't heard of before, but I am a big fan now. I think it is nicer to have no preconceived notions of a band (or movie, book, idea, etc), and then being totally blown away by them, which is what happened for me with Crooked Fingers.

Next on the menu was Smoosh, an 11 and 13 year old sister combo. I don't know if I am more impressed that they sounded as good as all the other bands, or scared for that same reason. All things considered though, I think that this band is going to be something special, and something to keep track of in the next 5-10 years (just imagine how good they will be when they are 19 and 21?)

The third set was played by the United States of Electronica, a band that was thrown together as a farce for one show. But the problem was that they were too good for just one show, and their fans wouldn't let them quit. And I now know why: they rocked. Even for Seattle, a town where the crowd will sit and passionlessly watch a great band play a great set, U.S.E. rocked enough to get the crowd moving.

Finally, the Super Secret Headliner band turned out to be none other than The Go! Team. And like I said before about Seattle crowds being way too snobby and sitting with hands crossed while listening to a live show, the Go! Team rocked them as well. You can see in the pictures that I took that the crowd is actually responding to the animated Ninja (the lead singer). Now that is rocking.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

D.B. Cooper's Disappearing Act

Cooper simply did it for the money:

I had heard references to DB Cooper in different form for quite a while, but I had no idea who he was or why he was so famous. But, recently I watched the movie Without a Paddle, which is centered around some guys trying to find his treasure. Since it was a rental, that meant that I could sit and watch the movie, figure out the entire history of D. B. Cooper, and even determine where they were in Oregon during their adventrues.

Yes, I'm a geek.

What Happened to DisneyWorld?

News - Finger Scanning At Disney Parks Causes Concern: Isn't Disney World supposed to be a safe place for kids and their parents?

Then why am I so suspicious of this new implementation at the Disney parks? They say that they aren't actually scanning for fingerprints, just the "finger geometry", which is like saying that your signature isn't your signature, it is just how you write your name on all your checks in cursive.

It should be interesting to see where this goes with the consumer rights groups/Civil Liberties Unions.

Friday, July 15, 2005

How to Get Fired in Under 12 Hours

I stopped by my old place of employment to see some people and say hi, and I got this letter from them. I don' think that I should, but I really can't not share this with everyone. So, this is my advice if you want to get fired immediately: send this letter to everyone in your company.

An employee’s answer to a certain managerial publication.
“On second thought, reality and open communication aren’t so bad.”
-Company Newsletter, June 2005

Well, in the interest of this assertion by our fearless Vice President of Marketing, I thought perhaps it might be prudent to get some “open communication” out there from someone other than a manager. One thing I learned from my journalism studies is that one of the purposes of journalism is to serve as a watchdog for the community. This “watchdog” capacity seems to be lacking in our recent “corporate” environment these days, and could benefit hardworking employees that are feeling a bit under-valued as of late. Thus, here is my attempt at leveling the playing field and bringing the upstairs, upper management, upper-salaried persons “back in the loop.”

Here’s my reality
Reality #1: I currently earn $14.50 per hour. Which equates to $30,160 per year. So far in 2005, inflation has been averaging about 3%. What happens when prices have risen 3% and my salary has not? My salary is actually worth $29,255.20, or $904.80 less. This is equal to about 62 hours of work at $14.50 per hour which I will not be paid for.

Reality #2: “Simply put, there’s a philosophical difference between increasing pay based on taking up office space for a period of time and increasing pay based on value, effort and commitment brought to the company.” -Company Newsletter, June 2005. There you have it, fellow employees. If ever you were wondering how the managers viewed you, here is your stark reality: you take up office space for a period of time. Apparently those of us who did not receive raises do not bring value, effort, or commitment. Those two weekends I worked overtime were just for fun.

Reality #3: We have absolutely no clue what our healthcare benefits will be when we switch over to the new plan in August. August also happens to be in two months. Don’t be surprised when employee contributions to healthcare goes significantly up and that 3% decrease in salary because of inflation is decreased even more.

Reality #4: The average one-bedroom apartment in Seattle rents for $700 per month. This amounts to about $8,400 per year. With my gross annual earnings currently at $24,429.60, this leaves me with $16,029.60 per year to live off of after I put a roof over my head. After 3% inflation and no cost-of-living raise, this will actually be $15,548.71 to live off of. Paying your dues and putting in two years at a company does not appear to be paying off. One might think that perhaps it has something to do with my performance, but my most recent performance review was nothing but positive.

Reality #5: With all this difficulty getting raises these days, perhaps the best route to go is to shoot for a promotion. We are in fact a growing company that has created many positions over the past year. I was even told in an email from our fearless Vice President on October 18, 2004: “If you’re patient, there will be growth opportunities for our star performers.” In an email from the Vice President on October 19, 2004, I was also told, “…where there’s growth, there’s opportunity.”

My experience has shown that this is not the case. On May 6, 2005 I emailed the Vice President, asking if the new sales coordinator position in development would be open for everyone in the company to apply. Here was his response:

Hi. We expect to have three positions to post internally in the next week or so and all employees will be welcome to apply. They are: 1) Sales Coordinator; 2) Northwest Regional Sales Manager; and 3) Marketing Manager. The CFO will let us know when they're ready to post.

Thanks for your interest,

On May 9, 2005, a posting for the Sales Coordinator position was sent out via email to the company. We have yet to see a posting for the Northwest Regional Sales Manager position (although there have been several outside applicants coming in to interview for it, as some of you sharp observers may have already noticed), and the mystery Marketing Manager position.

On May 13, I was allowed the opportunity to interview for the Sales Coordinator position. “Rumor-mongering” and a sick feeling in my stomach tells me that the certain outside applicant to which the job was awarded had probably already been awarded the job prior to my interview (management, please correct me if I’m wrong). When I sent an email requesting the reasons they had decided to go with another applicant (information which would be helpful to me if I am to improve and hopefully next time be awarded that future promotion I might apply for), I received no response.

I was informed by the CFO that the Sales Coordinator position would be offered a salary in the range of $32,000 to $37,000 per year. What does this mean to me? A brand-spanking new employee to the company with equal responsibilities is making $2,000 to $7,000 annually more than I am.

Management: Super in the loop
Our company has been sold and this all leaves me wondering: was the collective managerial conscience included in that sale? GASP! How could I write something like this and hit send? This surely is an emotionally-charged, reactionary response to a poorly-worded news article.

I beg to differ. These are issues which have been weighing on my mind for quite some time. Call me a liar, but I actually am a firm believer in the benefits of straight-forward, open communication. So, sans rumor-mongering and innuendo, this is my reality. I would encourage other employees experiencing similar frustrations to also take the route of open communication and put their issues and concerns out there on the table. Who else is going to stand up for you but YOU?

I guess if all else fails, we all know where the door is. Don’t let it hit you on the way out.

This was sent at the end of a working day, and within 10 minutes of walking into the building the next morning, the person that sent this email was fired. And from what I hear, the door did hit her on the way out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blingo=Google with Prizes

Blingo Search:

"How Blingo works:

1. We pick a bunch of random winning times.

2. Search at the right time and you win. No registration required.

3. Then tell us where to send your prize."

Join now at Blingo and you too could win prizes just for searching. It is the same as a Google search, but with your first 10 searches of the day, you are eligible to win prizes (Sony Playstation, Apple Ipod, Movie Passes, a years worth of Blockbuster movies, etc). Go ahead and sign up, then start searching.

It is also a referral based system, so people that sign up under your link also give you prizes (if I win a prize, James Archer also wins a prize, so good luck James!). And if you sign up under my link, if you win I win. It's a win-win situation.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Apple Lowers Price on Ipod Battery Replacements

AppleInsider | Apple Retail offering $59 iPod battery replacements [Update]: this is only for qualifying Ipods, but if your is anything like mine, it qualifies.

I felt like I had to share this article after my earlier rant about my Ipod and how the battery sucks. I think it is safe to say that mine no longer holds a 50% charge. In truth, it is closer to a 0% charge. There is enough juice for it to tell me there is a low battery when I try and reset the thing, so I know that the Ipod itself still works.

And please don't get the impression that this is a Mac or Apple site. It just happens that these two stories had to be put up, since they are near and dear to my heart.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Avalanches: Frontier Psychiatrist

The Avalanches: Frontier Psychiatrist:

One of the websites that got me through the slow and painful days at my old job was Milk and Cookies, and I would spend a goodly amount of time there just searching through the archives.

Well, I checked in today, and what did I find? The music video to a song that is amazingly sweet, The Avalanches' "Frontier Psychiatrist". If you haven't heard it before, I recommend that you watch the video, and then also go out and get the song somewhere since the sound isn't the greatest on this video.

On the bright side, I now know half of the words that they are saying trhough the song that I didn't before.

Oh, and by the way, the song is sweet. Did I say that yet?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

My #@*%ed Up Ipod

Does anyone know how to fix Ipods? Because mine is broke, flat broke.

I don't know why, but the battery will no longer charge up through the adapter. And I know that the adapter is working, through various other tests that I have run to try and get the damn thing working again.

What I've got is a 3G 10Gig piece, Ipod. And I got it off Ebay, so I can't get the Ipod Settlement battery replacement.

Or, on the other hand, if only two more people sign up for a Free Ipod under my referral link, this whole point will be moot and I'll just toss the damn thing away.

Or, and this is where things get interesting, a contest of sorts. For the next person that signs up and completes an offer under my referral id#, I will send you a $50 Gap gift card. The gift card is real, and I'll do everything that I can to prove that to you if you need it. And for the person that signs up and completes an offer after that, I'll give you a $25 Gap gift card, and the old Ipod (I'm sure this has some value to someone, just not me), complete with charger and earphones. I may even have the original instructions, operating CD with iTunes, and everything else that came with it that I will throw in as well.

I'm sure you are wondering about the Gap Gift Cards, well here's the story: they are from the place I used to work. They were a parting gift for my years of service when I finally quit. I've meant to use them, but every time I go to the Gap I can't find anything that I want. Basically, they are real, they will work, and you can have them.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments. Thanks.

Another 4th, and no trip to the ER

When I was 14, I had to go the the Emergency Room on the 4th of July. It had nothing to do with fireworks, or any sort of interesting story at all (I fell off the top of the monkey bars at a playground and broke my arm), but I did hear a pretty good story while I was waiting for my x-rays to get back.

It turns out that the guy in the curtain next to me (the one with the boxing glove bandages on) had been trying to make something go boom. He had taken apart multiple fireworks and made a pile of black powder on a stump in his back yard the size of a small anthill. After fruitlessly throwing matches onto the pile from a distance (which I assure you doesn't work, I've tried it too), he decided that a lighter was what he needed.

And I think that you can tell where this story is going, and yes, it is third degree burns over 95% of his right and left hands.

But I couldn't help but feel for the guy, mostly because I'm a pyro just like him. Well, not just like him. I'm not stupid. I enjoy blowing up apples, empty two litre bottles, the occasional pineapple, and etcetera, but I don't enjoy lighting myself on fire.

The biggest problem with this is that the last three years, I've played at a frisbee tournament on the 4th of July, and one that doesn't allow fireworks of any sort. Which means that I haven't had the opportunity to employ my "skills" in about 4 years.

And I'm itching to burn things.

I think that I may have to plan a trip to go see my brother, who is also a pyro, and always ready to get into any sort of fire fight (roman candle wars, throwing black cats at each other, concocting elaborate bombs that make incredibly loud noises, etc). If I live through it, I'll try to get pictures and stories to share.

And if anyone knows how to turn ordinary fireworks into something extraordinary, please feel free to write me and let me in on the secret.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Song of the Day

DJ Z-Trip - "Breakfast Club"
Kings of Leon - "Four Kicks"
Beck - "Que Onda Guero"
Snow Patrol - "Run"
Smog - "Say Valley Maker"
Jim White - "Still Waters"
Gorillaz - "Feel Good Inc"
Mountain Goats - "You or Your Memory"
Kaiser Chiefs - "I Predict A Riot"

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Quantity vs. Quality

As you may have noticed, I've changed my blogging habits as of late. I have moved away from a strict "this is what happened to me" style of blogging, and into more of a "wow, check out this cool stuff I've found" sort of blogging. I still add in the occasional post about parties that I've been too, and I still post the pictures that everyone wants to see, I just add other stuff now too.

Of course, I have been running into the issue of Quality vs Quantity lately with my posts. I went through a day or two with quite a few posts, and then slowed myself down as I looked back and realized that some of the stuff that I posted wasn't all that interesting (I'm going to leave it though, as a learning experience). I think that it stems from my efforts to try and draw in a bigger community to this site. I've added a wider variety of posts in hopes that a wider variety of audience will find the Party Season blog, like it, and stick around.

Unfortunately, I went a little "post crazy" for a while. Partially it was due to the w.Bloggar that has made posting so much easier, as well as the "Blog This" feature of the Blogger Blogs, but mostly it was me being post happy.

I'm not entirely sure what the future of the Seattle Party Season blog will involve. I have some ideas about where I want it to go, and what I want it to be, but I'm not sure what road I am going to take to get there. On the bright side, with my limited readership I don't have to listen to that many opinions when I make a choice that isn't that great.

I think that I just have to listen to my heart...

What's your pokename?


My Pokename is Drowwhirl:
Evidently, I live in the rivers of Sweden, and my diet consists mostly of meatballs, cows and kerosene (you'd be surprised how close this really is).

Characteristics (Combat and Non-combat):
I can puke hot death. I can throw acid. I have ten-inch claws. I can shoot rocks. I have cool shades. I can swim in air. I have a fear of sand.

My natural enemy is Lochu.

Go ahead a see what your Pokename is, you know you want to...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Potlatch Time Again!

This past weekend served up another year of Potlatch, the biggest Coed ultimate frisbee tournament in the United States. Bringing teams from around the country, and even some international appearances, it is always a fun time with some fun people. This year had Team Canada (the Canadian national team chosen to compete in the World Games at the end of July) beating out the Vagabonds, a Portland area team in the A-pool finals.

I admit that I wasn't my usual photographic self, and I only ended up taking about 45 pictures. Fortunately, there are many other photographers that make the journey to the tournament, and you can catch some better pictures at their sites. Here are a couple:

Ali and Cedar's Page

Rathbone Images

Bil Elsinger's Photos

And I'm sure that there will be more to come...

The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Making Your Own Pizza

Pizza: "There are a few 'secrets of the trade' in making your own pizza; once you know them, it is not hard to make your own and it takes very little time."

I will admit that this is a ridiculously thorough guide to making pizza, from what kind of baking supplies you need, to how messy your counter will be, to what kind of cheese is best.

On the other hand, I don't really know why a web designer felt the need to put all the work into creating such a thorough "how-to" for making pizza on his business site. Things that make you go "Hmmm".

Friday, July 01, 2005

10 Tips to Create Greater Balance at Work

10 Tips to Create Greater Balance at Work: "Be calmly active and actively calm: this is the secret to success at work"

Probably the best advice that I've heard about being productive. I remember times that I've seemed to work at an intense level for a short period of time while angry, but I can never seem to manipulate that situation to occur again. It is always something that just happens. For the rest of the time, the best advice I can give is stated above.

The rest of the 10 tips aren't bad either.

For help on how to get enough sleep, check out this article by Steve Pavlina on how to become an early riser.

Thanks to Forever Geek and Maniacal Rage for the link to Steve's article.