Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bike Shop +

A friend sent me this article about a bike maintenance vending machine.  Actually, it's more than that; it's a supply depot, information center, training facility, and community message board all in one.  I think it's a great idea, and would love to see more like it outside the bike shops in my area.  I don't think they would work anywhere - I think they would work best in tandem with a shop, like the the free air offered at many shops already.  More pictures and information from Trek here.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Getting the Runaround

Aaron passed through DC again this weekend for work, and was able to come and visit.  We made our usual visits to Poblano and the Dairy Godmother.  Flavor of the Day: S'mores.  One of my favorites, so the timing could not have been better.

Before he had to go on Sunday, we thought we might go see a movie.  There were movies he had seen that I wanted to, and we're trying to get tickets to the Imax showings of The Dark Knight in a few weeks when he is in town again.  So we ended up getting tickets for the new X-Files movie.  If only it were so simple.

We were early, so we just kind of camped out and waited.  Eventually, more people started showing up.  Aaron noticed that the scheduled start time had come and gone.  The audience started to grumble.  Soon, folks were leaving their seats to go out and complain.  Still, nothing happened.  Then, the pre-movie local ads and trivia cut out, and we were left sitting there, puzzled.

A low-level employee then came in and made an announcement.  After they had sold us our tickets, and sent us to this theater, they had switched the showing to another theater in the multiplex.  And it had started on time.  So we had missed a significant amount of the movie.  Complaints all around as we exchanged our tickets for the next showing.  We left the theater to run some minor errands before returning for the show.

We took our tickets and headed for the 3rd theater of the day.  However, the digital marquee at the door tells us that Mamma Mia!, the same show that took over the 1st theater, was playing here as well.  It seems the staff was not having their past day, logistically.  We ask any member of the staff we can find, mostly stereotypically surly teenagers.  They tell us to go upstairs to a fourth theater.

That theater is labeled as playing Mamma Mia!.  The groups of women headed inside humming "Fernando" was also a good clue.  We head to the service desk, and are told to return to the 3rd theater, though it is still listed as showing the ABBA musical.  At this point, the "answer" comes in the form of shrugs, "I dunno where it's playing" and a resigned handwave towards one theater or another.  We settle into our seats, and begin to observe our fellow audience members.  They do not look like stereotypical X-Files fans.  They do look like they know all the words to "Dancing Queen."  Someone was in for a disappointment.

Eventually, a very nice woman, a customer, comes in and asks if anyone is here to see Mamma Mia!, because she has spoken to the manager and that is being shown at a fifth theater.  About half of the audience gets up and leaves.  One woman laughs as she left, "I did think there were an awful lot of men here for Mamma Mia!"

The movie itself was all right.  Basically a decent episode of the old show stretched to feature length.  The story to get to the movie was probably more entertaining, though.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

America's Vacationland

This past weekend I took a quick trip north to Portland to visit my family. This was the last free weekend everyone had before the expected arrival of Ryan & Bethany's son, so we made plans to get together.

We didn't do much once we were all there, mind you. We are a pretty low maintenance clan when we get together. I helped Dad get parts for some home improvement projects at the hardware store. We had a few nice meals - Mom made pulled pork, Ryan made french toast with cinnamon swirl bread, etc. Mostly it was just spending time with each other, not doing anything in particular.

We did go out to Crescent Beach south of Portland and had an extremely filling barbecue. I was a little woozy after eating, since we had stayed up late the night before at Ryan & Bethany's playing their new Wii. But we had a nice walk along the beach, and it was a beautiful day. Any trip that includes time by or on the ocean is a good one for me.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Who Are the People In Your Neighborhood

So my friend Z is dog-sitting a few blocks away, and stopped by while walking said dog last night.  This thing is huge - a Great Pyrenees that has got to be nearly 200 pounds.  Very well behaved though.  In fact, despite her size I was able to finally get some use out of the fence enclosing my yard - we were able to just let her out there without any worries.  Apparently a very lazy dog.

I can't remember the last time any one of my friends lived close enough they could just drop in while walking the dog, going for groceries, etc.  It's kind of a neat.  I'd go over to where she is dog sitting and ask to borrow a cup of sugar, but she only uses sugar substitutes like Equal.  What's the point?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Celebrate Myself

It is almost time for me to stop feeling so full of myself for passing the PE. I've passed the word at work, and had a discussion regarding how a PE should be a Senior or Principal Engineer instead of an Associate. Purely hypothetical, of course. I just got my stamp and seal for marking any drawings that I review and find satisfactory. "Within 30 days of ... notification" I should get my official certificate, "suitable for framing." Steph & Aaron sent the awesome "cookie bouqet" pictured here. I was treated (very generously, I might add) to dinner by Paul & Sarah, and had a final "study session" at Poblano with Jane, Jackie, and Sarah, along with some other friends. Much more will seem like self-aggrandizement.

Actually, I'm embarassed to admit that while Steph & Aaron were considerate enough to get me the very delicious congratulations, I barely did anything for her latest big achievement. She was promoted, becoming a Lieutenant Commander. For my money, that is a much bigger deal than my certification. And that's just one example - if I paid more attention, I'm sure I would find that most of my friends and family are pulling off stuff like this all the time. So I learned something. Another step forward in the personal growth program.

Also, now that the decks are completely clear, as it were, I have no excuse not to work on my paper for the MAST Conference. I should probably be working on it now... I wonder what's on tv?

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