Sunday, July 20, 2008


Ooooh wow! I got my name in the paper! A few weeks back, we had a little discussion on our neighborhood listserv over the use of the term "BeHi" as a nickname for Beacon Hill. Well, it turns out that yesterday was a slow news day and the Seattle Times ran an article on the gent who came up with the moniker. The author of the article also lifted my listserv posting in its entirety. Now I'm aglow with my new found fame.

Last I checked, the responses to the article are nigh unanimous in their distaste of the nickname. Either "BeHi" is not as popular as the article makes it out to be, or the "BeHi" faction were out enjoying the sunshine. I mean, if I was younger, hipper, more urban, had a sense of humor and didn't take life too seriously, I suppose I'd be out there too.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I'm going to cheat and let someone else write a blog entry for me. Back in the halcyon days of my childhood, I often enjoyed reading Bible stories. As I got older, I "grew out" of them and was expected to read the actual Bible. (It took me a while to start enjoying that, but that's another story.) Finally, when I had kids of my own, I got to encounter Bible stories again. As I read them to my children, I discovered that all retellings are not the same. Some editing to the tale needs to be done, of course, to make them more understandable to children. Sometimes the author would put their own spin on the tale to flesh out the narrative or to draw a lesson out of the story. Sometimes these embellishments were enjoyable, sometimes they reeked to high heaven. (no pun intended)

Well, there are no Bible story books for grown-ups, but if Gila Weiss ever writes one, I will certainly get a copy to put on my shelf. Please enjoy her retelling of the story of Balaam and his verbose donkey. (And here's a link to the original, in case you want to see what liberties Ms. Weiss has taken with the text.)

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Tree hugging 

One thing that happened during my hiatus is that I was appointed to guide Yoyodyne into the wonderful world of FSC certification. Now if you're like me, when you first read that, you asked yourself, "What the heck is FSC?" You could, like me, start to do a Google search, but I'll save you the trouble and tell you that "FSC" stands for the Forest Stewardship Council. (I mention this not because I'm a helpful guy, but rather to prevent anyone from thinking that I'm working on First Satanic Church certification.) Of course, it took me quite awhile to figure that out. When I searched for "FSC certified Seattle" I got a bunch of hits about lumber and forests. I figured I must have misheard what my boss said and so searched for "FSE certified Seattle". That just got me info on field service engineers and fire safety equipment. Fortunately, this all happened towards the end of the workday, so I could leave work and forget about it. The next day I was able to dig once more and this time was able to find a webpage from a local printing company that was bragging about its own certification and thereby unravel the mystery.

The whole FSC certification thing is a movement to label well managed forests and their products, so that environmentally conscious consumers can vote with their dollars. To put their green behind the green, so to speak. Some of the sites I visited speak of it all in glowing terms of social responsibility and all that. Unfortunately, the term "boondoggle" also kept cropping up in my mind as I was reading. If your company is FSC certified, that means that you've paid a few grand to have the official agencies check out your workflows and come by occasionally to do an audit. You certainly don't need certification to produce printed products with paper from well managed forests. But in that case, all your customer has is your word that their print jobs are green. An FSC certified company, on the other hand, can affix an FSC label on their products, so that their customers can take FSC's word that the printing is good to the environment. (Well, the paper part, anyway.)

Ah, well, such is life in our modern age. Hopefully we can jump through the appropriate hoops and our customers will send their socially responsible dollars our way.

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Monday, July 07, 2008


Boy, I wish I was rich again. In the past few weeks I took the time between Stargate SG-1 episodes and did some number crunching. Unless we keep getting little presents like the one from Uncle Sam a few months ago, we're going to be spending about $100 more than we take in each month. Getting a raise from Yoyodyne doesn't seem likely, and for various reasons I'm reluctant to go out searching for a different employer. I thought about trying to get a second job to make up the shortfall, but when I mentioned the idea to Noodles, she nixed it in no uncertain terms. Um, perhaps I should instead say that she strongly requested that I not pursue that course of action, lest I give you the impression that I'm not lord and master of my household or something like that.

Then today I had to deal with another low-income irritation. Ever since coming back home, we've been taking advantage of the health insurance that Washington State offers. It seems like what we save in dollars and cents we make up for in paperwork. Like a good steward of the taxpayers' money, the folks at Basic Health insist that we document our income in order to prove our need for assistance. That might work fine for a lot of folks, but it seems like the system wasn't designed for us. The requirement is that, if we have a significant change in monthly income, we document the change and send it in to them. Well, when we applied for Basic Health, we were unemployed, though receiving a rental income. Then I got a job and the renters moved out. Then Noodles got a one time writing assignment. Then Noodles got a part time music teaching gig. A few months later, after we began to realize that my salary wasn't cutting it, she managed to rouse up a second client for her music class. Each time that meant I needed to send in an income adjustment form. What fun!

But it appears that Basic Health was doing their own number crunching. In December, they announced that we were making too much money and no longer qualified for the program. I booted up Quicken and ran the reports. Much as I would have liked to have made too much money, we hadn't. So I sent my data in and they cancelled our cancellation. The other day, I got another notice that we were too rich for the program. Once again I did the math and once again I found out that we were as poor as I thought. This time, however, Noodles called down to Olympia and talked to a real, live, somewhat snippy human being. According to her, the folks down there were using last year's tax return for their calculations. By figuring in our rental and Noodles' writing income, we would be making too much money to qualify. So now I'm sending another note explaining why they shouldn't cancel our health insurance. But this time I'm light on the documentation. I mean, how do you document that we're not making money?

Part of me longs to just do without health insurance. The rationale goes, "Hey, we're poor*, so lets just live like poor people do." But then all I have to do is think about the friends who've had to deal with catastrophic illnesses and I know that paying off the insurance man is worth whatever scrimping and saving we might have to do. Ah, well. At least blogging's free.
*I use this term jokingly. I don't think we're close to real poverty, even by American standards.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

From the mailbag 

I'd like to share some spam with you, for your entertainment. As a rule, I try not to mock the writing mistakes of other people, but in the case of spammers I feel justified in employing a moral double standard. The name of the financial institution has been changed to protect the $137.48 in my account from unscrupulous people. My comments will be in italics.
(Official Big Honking Bank Logo)

Dear member (Tricky. They have done a very good job of imitating a soulless, impersonal corporation.)

During our usual security enhancement protocol, we observed multiple login attempt error while login in to your online banking account. (Hmmm, bad grammar. The first mistake. Soulless corporations usually have good grammar and proofreading.) We have believed (What? Does this mean you've stopped believing?) that someone other than you is trying to access your account for security reasons, (whew! for a minute there I thought they were trying to access it to steal my money.) we have temporarily suspend your account and your access to online banking and will be restricted if you fail to update. (I'm sorry to hear that you will be restricted if I fail to update, but I will not let a guilt trip alter my behavior.)

To get started :
> Log on to https://www.bighonkingbank.com/privacy/update.jsp

Please Note:
If we do no receive the appropriate account verification within 48 hours, then we will assume this Bank account is fraudulent (if the bank account is fraudulent, why are you worrying about who accesses it?) and will be suspended. (I'm sorry to hear that you will be suspended if you do not receive appropriate account verification. Man, is your boss a hard case.) The purpose of this verification is to ensure that your bank account has not been fraudulently used and to combat the fraud from our community. (I'm glad somebody is combating fraud from your community. But wouldn't it be better if you just kept the fraud in your community?)(Well, better for us, at least.)

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Insult to injury 

The dreaded KJR has added insult to injury with their latest self-promo spots. Since all twelve of the songs they play are fun to sing along with, the spots feature some jamoke warbling along with some classic rock tune. It's bad enough that I have to listen to the same songs day after day after day, but do I have to listen to them sung off-key as well? (I know, I know, I need to get myself an iPod....)

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Might as well write 

(Actually, I wrote this yesterday, but am posting it today so I don't have a June '08 archive with one puny post.)
Okay, I'm back. I doubt if I'll be much more prolific than I was a few months ago, but I think it might be good to keep up the writing skills, such as they are.

Yesterday I became a full fledged deacon of my church. For those unfamiliar with the term, a deacon is simply... well, actually that term is used for quite a variety of roles. In the Bible, the original deacons were seven fellows who the apostles appointed to "wait tables" when the management of the church's food bank began cutting into the twelve's preaching and teaching time. We then immediately get to hear the tale about how one of those seven, Stephen, ended up getting into a theological argument and getting stoned to death. Of course, modern day "deacons" don't quite match that example. In some congregations, the deacons are really just the pastor's henchmen, keeping the congregation in line and taking care of all the messy jobs that need doing. In other congregations, the deacons are the true power of the church, the mighty personages to whom the pastor must either submit or struggle against. What sort of deacon I'll be, I don't know. Generally at Dry Bones we haven't got into those big power struggles. We tend to be like a bunch of cats, doing our own thing. We all gather together when there's food, of course, but then it's off to our own little areas of service. On the other hand, if you take that last sentence as a metaphor, we could be headed towards trouble. There's a potential worship war on the horizon--disagreement about one area that affects the entire membership. So I may end up being a pastoral flunky after all. I wonder if I can get a shirt with a cool nickname on it, just like the henchmen on Batman.

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