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Monday, June 30, 2008

Imminent tomatoes

Better Boy tomatoes are on the way in the garden.

The heirloom varieties, like Old German, are a little slower.

But lots of blossoms promise plenty of those, too.

I've collected my garden pictures on Flickr, in case you're interested.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Whiffle Cream Pie

At reunion last weekend:

Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie (still in the wrapper) + whiffle ball bat = a hit

Flies farther than a whiffle ball, actually.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I had a great time at my five-year Carleton reunion this weekend, as well as hanging out in Minneapolis for a couple extra days. Photos are on Flickr if you want to see 'em.

(FYI: A half-empty 6 oz tube of toothpaste is still a 6 oz tube as far as the TSA is concerned.)

Monday, June 16, 2008


Today I ate my first thing from the garden -- the lettuce in the salad I brought to work. It was very tasty, though I made a note to myself to get a lettuce mix with less arugula next year.

Here's what the garden beds looked like in late April when I was in the middle of tilling them:

The pile of weeds I took out of them (now being composted):

I haven't used my car since January, and I was determined to get this stuff home without one. I did get a couple weird looks on the way home.

And here's what the garden looks like now:

It's coming along pretty well, with the first tiny green tomatoes now visible. The cast includes:
  • tomatoes (Better Boy, Yellow Plum, Old German, Cherokee Purple)

  • green garlic (found in garden beds, as seen in first picture)

  • zucchini

  • lettuce mix

  • broccoli

  • carrots

  • green beans (two varieties)

  • dill, basil, mint (in pots)

If you come visit in a month or so, it may be all-you-can-eat tomatoes.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Catoctin Camping

I had a nice escape from the city this weekend -- camping with Zach, Emily, Erin, Sophie and Karen. We were at a Maryland state park on Catoctin Mountain, which forms the eastern edge of the Appalachians. This being car camping, we ate pretty well...here are Saturday night's kabobs:

Extensive photographic documentation is available courtesy of Erin.

Plus, I got back to DC in time to see Lisa's band, Society of Strangers, perform at Artomatic. A good weekend!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


If you're obsessed with the presidential election, but find yourself pining for more precision than pundit prognostications can provide, perhaps you should check out FiveThirtyEight.com. More smart statistical slicing and dicing than you can shake a stick at.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Listening to other people's consumer grievances tends to be a drag -- important to them, but not really the kind of thing you want to hear about. But if you would indulge me for a moment (or just move on to something more interesting), I experienced such profound consumer exasperation today that I need to vent:

A couple months ago, I purchased a $399 round-trip fare on Northwest Airlines from DC to Minneapolis for reunion weekend. This week, my colleagues at work asked me to go to Indianapolis for some meetings the two days prior to my Minnesota trip. I wouldn't be able to get back to DC in time to make my flight to Minneapolis, but the travel folks at work said I could just fly to Minneapolis instead of flying home. Works out well -- I waste half my flight, but no harm.

Then I call NWA to tell them I no longer need the outbound half of my flight, and things just go downhill. The friendly rep tells me that because I'm not showing up for the outbound leg, my ticket gets cancelled and I won't be able to fly the return leg. So I need to alter my reservation to make it a one-way flight, which will cost me...$785. Yes, $785. To make my two-way $399 round-trip into a one-way. He explains all the reasons (short notice, one-ways priced differently from round trips, new fuel surcharges, etc) this is true. I tell him that while I understand, it just doesn't seem reasonable.

For the first time ever in my life, I pull the "Can I speak to a manager?" thing. I talk to Scott, to whom I make the following "business case" for not charging me to change to a one-way:
- I bought a service, and am now trying to use only half of it, but this for some reason costs almost three times as much as using the entire service.
- If NWA changes my ticket to one-way, they can resell the seat I'm no longer using, but keep my money for the whole fare.
- I was about to book a business trip on NWA (the only direct flights to Indy from DC), but if I can't change this conflicting personal trip, I cannot book this second, revenue-generating trip.
- Furthermore, if they refuse to be reasonable, I will remain extremely disgruntled for an extended period of time, not likely to leap at the chance to fly NWA again.

I did not yell, and I was not even unpleasant -- I just laid out a rational case. Scott did not acknowledge my arguments, and told me that he had no authority to override what the system said. He said he could transfer me to the Customer Care Center, where they did have authority to make exceptions, but he didn't see a reason why they would do so in my case. I told him to transfer me, and I spent 20 minutes exploring the branches of the phone tree but never found anything other than automated messages referring me to the website or the reservations phone number. I might have gotten snippy at that point if there had been anyone to talk to.

So, I'm not going to the work meetings in Indianapolis, Northwest lost a few hundred dollars in revenue, and I developed enough hard feelings to extend to NWA and their merger partner, Delta.

Sorry, I won't post any other consumer rants. But this totally ruined my afternoon.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Songs of the Moment (An Occasional Feature)

> The Flaming Lips - A Spoonful Weighs a Ton [mp3]

> My Morning Jacket - It's About Twilight Now

> Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Roberta C. [stream]

> Modest Mouse - Other People's Lives

> LCD Soundsystem - Someone Great [mp3]

> The Mountain Goats - Song for Dennis Brown [live mp3]

> Wilco - When You Wake Up Feeling Old

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Weekend in WVA

Zach kindly invited me out to his parents' place in West Virginia for Memorial Day weekend. It was quite relaxing. A belated photo recap:

Porch swing reading? Check.

Adorable kitten? Check.

Potato gun? Check.

I should add that there was also delicious food, but I was too busy chewing to take any pictures...