You should be using an RSS reader to keep up with the content here

albert - July 19, 2012 @ 9:37 pm

A protip for the uninitiated; When you want to keep up with content on slow-moving sites like this one, there’s a better way than just visiting it a couple times a week. Use an RSS reader. RSS, often expanded as Really Simple Syndication, is a special machine readable version of the content on a website that can be easily read by a third party application, in this case an RSS reader. For example, here are the feeds for

Blog Posts
New Photo Albums

When I get up in the morning, I fire up my reader and it aggregates the contents from a couple dozen different sites I follow. Some of these sites are updated 10 times a day, some are updated once every other year. Either way, the content is there for me to discover and consume and I don’t have to go visit a couple dozen different sites on a daily basis like I used to. It makes it possible for me to follow sites that I would never have been able to keep current with in the past.

A great option for getting started is Google Reader, which is what I use. Here’s how you would subscribe to the feeds I gave you links for above.

  • Right click on the link
  • In the context menu that pops up, click on the option that says something like “Copy link location”
  • Alternately, just left clink on the link, highlight the web address in the location bar, goto the edit menu and select the Copy option
  • Go to Google Reader, click the subscribe button and paste the web address you copied into the box that pops up
  • Click the “Add” button.

You should now be subscribed to the feed and any new items that we post here will show up in the items list in google reader next time you use it.

If you can’t make these instructions work for you, please don’t hesitate to mail me at author @ (remove the spaces).

My first XC ride for the year – Tiger Mountain

albert - July 14, 2012 @ 8:26 pm

I can’t get wordpress to embed this map right now so I’m just going to leave it as a link. Ugh

View 2012-07-1t4 16:59 tiger mt in a larger map

Distance: 10.4 miles

Time: 1:42

Elevation Gain 2185 ft

Elevation Loss: 2216 ft

Average Speed: 7.1 mph

Max Speed: 16.2 mph (dubious if you ask me)

Overall, I rode like a bitch but in my defense, the Preston Railroad Grade trail is totally unreasonable in some ways. My god, so many loose rocks.

Grass is greenerism

albert - @ 8:15 pm

It’s difficult to objectively evaluate the results of the decisions we make in life because it’s rare that the variables we’ve altered stay isolated for long. For one thing, if you have to wait to see how you like something, you’ll find that the fact that you’ve grown older while you were waiting may affect the results. I got my first real taste of this when I moved to Fredericksburg Virginia in 2002. I hated Fredericksburg. Living out there by myself taught me a lot of unpleasant truths about myself and I missed the social circle and city I’d left with a physical ache that was with me wherever I went. But 11 months later, when I went back, I didn’t return to the same situation I’d left. I returned to a third situation. Eventually I settled in but for a while it was unnerving.

If Fredericksburg gave me a taste, Seattle stuffed me full. I left Richmond behind and compared everything I saw to what I’d left behind. We were oh so progressive. I started gardening and composting because I had very moral concerns about how I ate. And then I went back to visit and all my friends were gardening too and they’d all become significantly foodier and some of them had compost piles and I read Style weekly and I said “Man, this city is getting better all the time”. I wasn’t part of something special that was happening just in Seattle. I was part of something that was happening nationally or maybe something that just happens to people who grow up, I don’t know. Now that I’ve been gone for 6 years, I really have no objective way to compare what life will be like in Richmond versus what it’s like in Seattle. Too much has changed. I’ve grown up too much, so have my friends, our world has moved too far.

By the way, is anyone still reading this drivel?


albert - @ 8:02 pm

I’m clearing out old drafts in my wordpress queue. I started this one in August 2010. Having just been in VA where there was a heat index of 110 degrees for four days in a row, this still rings totally true. I think this kind of knowledge dies out within a single generation raised under a good air conditioner.

What do you do when it’s 85 degrees or higher outside?

I’d guess most people have the AC running at this point. Most of the places I’ve lived that’s been the case. Seattle has taught me an interesting thing though. What do you do when you don’t have AC? The first couple of years I mainly spent a lot of time crying about it.

The idea that I can’t live anywhere too hot without having a giant AC unit kind of bothers me. So what do you do? Well, I’m learning a lot of tricks. First off, pay some decent money and get some good fans. Then get some real thick curtains.

During the hottest part of the day, close all the windows and close all the curtains, get your house nice and dark. Hang out in the basement. A trick I learned from the Fijians: get your shit done early and late in the day, the middle of the day is to be taken slow.

Then get yourself a well insulated house, preferably with windows you can open near the ceiling of the top floor.

I didn’t know any of that, I lived my whole life in the AC. So much of what we call common sense is cultural wisdom and it can disappear so quickly.


Playing web designer

albert - July 12, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

Here’s an attempt at a new homepage for Someday there will be more content maybe.

Keep your keys in your carryon

albert - July 11, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

What follows is a detailed recap of my hideous day of travel from my parents house in Reston, VA to my home in Seattle, WA. All times are in EDT to reflect my body clock.

July 10, 2012 10:15 AM

I arrive at Washington Dulles by car and kiss Catie and Olivia goodbye. I walk into the airport and check in and remember for the first time that my flight has two layovers, one in Boston and one in Chicago. Neither layover looks like it leaves much free time at the airports. “Meh” I think and head through security.

When I get to the gate I see that my first flight is delayed for 35 minutes waiting for the aircraft to arrive. I plant myself at the airport bar to have some crab/chicken noodle soup, a crabcake sandwich and a couple Yuenglings and to think about the delay. Eventually I work out that the delay is going to leave me about 20 minutes to catch my connection in Boston and go to the gate to talk it out with the airline reps.

I start explaining my problem and am interrupted by one of the reps.

“You’re our guy! We’ve been looking for you!”


“Yeah, we found you a direct flight to Chicago that should be much better.”

“Well. That was nice of them”, I think. And now I have an extra couple hours to kill so I go to a different bar for a few more beers.

July 10, 2012 ~2:00 PM

I finally stumble onto an aircraft. I turn my ipod and kindle off when the cabin door closes and fall asleep during the safety brief. I wake up thirsty with a headache on final approach to Chicago.

July 10, 2012 ~4:30 PM

I make it to a departures board in Chicago to discover that my 6:45 flight to Seattle is cancelled. I stand in a long impatient line at the United customer service counter. When I’m finally seen by a rep, she asks me if I have to get to Seattle today. Filled with visions of sleeping in my own bed, I indicate that I would prefer to do so. She first tries to get me a flight with American and when that fails, grabs me the last seat on the 9:27 United flight to Seattle, middle seat in an exit row. Later I will wonder if staying the night in Chicago would have made things easier. I ask about compensation and she hands me a $10 food voucher and tells me to head over to concourse B, I assume she means the food is better over there.

I go through the famous tunnel between concourses C and B, the one with the mirrors on the ceiling, the United theme song played softly on piano and the swirly neon bulbs flashing on and off. When I get to concourse B I walk up and down and don’t see any food options that are super appealing and I don’t really feel up for eating yet so I wander back down the tunnel to concourse C and walk up and down that concourse killing time. At some point I realize that my gate is over in the B concourse, slap my forehead and walk back down the tunnel again. I end up at Chilis but the only space is at the bar. I choke down a Budweiser with my meal so I don’t seem like a bad bar customer.

July 10, 2012 ~8:00 PM

I walk up to my new gate and discover that my new flight is delayed until 11:00 due to weather so I’ve got yet another two hours to kill. Right around this time I start really hating O’hare. The noise level is way too high in their terminals and I have to crank Conglomerate International to ear killing levels to drown it out. Around this time I curse myself for drunk purchasing the lord of the rings trilogy for my kindle realizing that I’m never going to feel like reading it again. I buy Wind Through The Keyhole and start reading that instead. Around a half hour in I realize I’m alone at the gate. I go to the departure board and find out that the flight has been moved over to C26 so I go walk through the tunnel for the fourth time.

Around this time I realize that what’s waiting for me at the end of all these hours of sitting around being bored is another few hours of being bored and even less comfortable on an airplane.

I have little to report about my flight to Seattle. The exit row has a ton of legroom but my seat was uncomfortable otherwise. Channel 9 on United flights still lets you listen in on the ATC radio chatter which was pretty awesome even though they turned it off after we left Chicago airspace and never turned it back on.

July 11, 2012 3:00 AM

On the flight back to Seattle, I was think about my keys in my checkin. First off, I really hope they are in there and that I remember correctly. Secondly, think about how much I’d been rerouted. When I realize that my bag isn’t at the claim in Seattle, I’m not really all that surprised. After standing in a 15 passenger deep line at the baggage counter for a while, I find the baggage info machine which informs me that my bag is in Boston. I’d been rerouted but my bag hadn’t and, unsurprisingly, my concerns about missing the connection were valid.

I sit down and try to think. The urge to go looking through the stack of bags again is almost undeniable even though I have a slip of paper that tells me it’s in Boston. I’m so tired.

Eventually I decide to call the number on the baggage claim receipt. The representative tells me that there isn’t a definite confirmation yet but my bag had been scheduled to fly to Seattle via New York and should have actually arrived before me. I thank her profusely and run back to the piles of bags. My bag isn’t there. And when I check the monitors, I can find no flight like the one she’d described. I talk to the representatives at the baggage counter and they have no idea what she’d been talking about.

The options as I see it are to:

  1. Wait at the airport until the morning and then try to get a hold of the lady who’d been caring for our cats and see if I can get her to meet me at the house.
  2. Go home now and call a locksmith.
Eventually the desire to go to sleep in my own bed wins.

July 11, 2012 5:00 am

I catch a cab. The driver is a talker which is unfortunate on any day but an order of magnitude more unfortunate today.

When I get to the house, I go to the backyard, plug my phone into the outside outlet and look for a locksmith. I’d say about half of the information on the web about emergency locksmiths is warnings about emergency locksmith scams. All the locksmiths that seem reputable on the internet don’t answer their phone at 3 AM (local time). After trying and failing to reach a couple well reviewed businesses, I call one I’m not so sure of. I talk to a dispatcher who takes my information, and tells me it will be 20 minutes. After 45 minutes I get a call and a guy with a middle eastern or indian accent tells me he’ll be there in 20 minutes. The sky is starting to lighten up.

July 11, 2012 8:00 AM

I’m finally inside the house, my wallet $240 dollars lighter. This is almost certainly a ripoff. At this point, I have trouble caring. Finally I go to sleep in my own bed, 22 hours after getting to the airport in VA.

July 11, 2012 9:19 PM (PDT)

Just 10 minutes ago I got a call from United and they have my bag. As of 30 minutes ago when I checked their website for status of my claim, they had no updates. I’m feeling relieved to get it back but also vaguely furious about all this; vaguely because I’m not sure there’s anything that could have been done except to improve the flow of information back to me. I’m sure that once the process for getting bags from the customer onto the plane is started, it’s super difficult to get the bag rerouted along with the customer. Maybe there are ways to make loading more efficient so that they can keep the bags on the tarmac until the last second, making it easy to grab the bag and queue it up for another plane if the customer changes plans. I’m not really sure if they could have done anything better, my day just sucked and I’d love to have someone to blame it on.


albert - July 1, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

Wow! That upgrade did not go well even slightly.


I’ll update with a play by play later. At the moment I’m just pleased to have my blog back up.

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