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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in lackthere0f's LiveJournal:

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Monday, May 30th, 2011
2:11 am
Stoner issues
So about 9 months ago I stopped smoking weed.  I was trying to get a new job, and didn't want to have to plan ahead for a piss-test.  

Last week I (finally) get a job offer.  Doesn't look like they're going to test me, and I start next week.  
The next day some of my friends at work mention they're setting up a group weed buy, I tell them to count me in for a quarter.  Figure I'll celebrate my new job in style.

Now I can't find my grinder, lighter, pipes, or the Game Boy bag I was storing them all in.  A sober person has been keeping house here for 9 months and STILL can't find anything.
That figures.
Sunday, April 10th, 2011
3:40 am
And every single meeting with his so called superior is a humiliating kick in the crotch
The food service industry is SO STUPID.

All I want in life at this point is to work in a job where the management doesn't spend all their time contradicting each other.  Even the documented, set-in-stone policies are contradictory.  

With a sales-volume under $85/hr only one customer-service person should be working.  
Under no circumstances should the front counter be unattended.  
Drive-thru, on the opposite side of the store, is the first priority at all times.  
You are required to stock these specific items, and purchase them from our exclusive approved vendor.  
Your budget for these items is less than the exclusive approved vendor charges.
It goes on and on.  Every day I become more and more convinced that no matter how high I climb on this damn corporate ladder, I will still be surrounded by stupidity.
It's no wonder the American economy is collapsing; the goddamn lunatics are running the motherfucking asylum.
Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
11:46 am
I might be getting out of the service industry soon.  This is somewhat exciting.

A couple of years back I dropped out of college for what I swore would be the last time, and started trying to get into a trade apprenticeship instead.  I started with utility work, drawn to that for the stability, but I've been gradually widening my proverbial net.  A few months back an apprenticeship program opened up locally for electrical work; a program for prospective inside wiremen (a.k.a. construction electricians).  I feel like I really blew the doors off of their entrance & placement exams.

I've got the all-important interview tomorrow.  The process here moves slowly, but I'm approaching the end.  If I pull this off, I might actually be out of the service industry within a month.

I'm so sick of this business.  Sick of being surrounded by ignorance and incompetence.  Sick of being told I should be thankful for my "management" position, and a 10¢ "merit" ­­pay raise that ends up being smaller than the state's annual cost of living adjustment to the minimum wage.  Sick of the night shift, sick of working 40 hours a week and still paying 80% of my income as rent.  Sick of food stamps.

Being in this industry feels like enslavement.  15 years of this crap and still no advancement.
Monday, August 30th, 2010
12:49 am
Friday, May 14th, 2010
8:44 pm
Bill the Butcher
A few months ago a new butcher shop opened up near our apartment. It's called Bill the Butcher, I guess they're a chain or something. I was momentarily excited by the idea of having a proper butcher shop in the neighborhood, but my excitement disappeared fast.

While just 2 miles down the #8 bus line from our cheap apartment, this butcher shop is in a long strip of high-end retail in the Madison Valley, which may as well be in another world. They advertise a full selection of locally sourced, certified organic meats. The prices are astronomical, much higher than the organic meats that occasionally pop up at the weekly farmers market, and far out of reach of a simple wage earner like myself. So I promptly forgot about them.

Then The Stranger did a feature story on them. And although there's significant sensationalism in the writing, they've leveled some serious charges at Bill the Butcher:
  • Owners admit that some of their meat is not certified organic or natural
  • Signs and advertising at the shops say that all their meat is certified
  • They will not reveal the sources of most of their meat
  • Of the 18 certified organic ranches in Washington State, all 18 confirm they do not sell to Bill the Butcher
One of the few meat sources they do reveal is a chicken farm in Carnation; a truly local operation.  The farm owner was very forthcoming with The Stranger, and openly complains that Bill the Butcher is mislabeling his chicken.  The butcher shop is advertising it as certified organic, scavenger chicken, when it reality it is simply ordinary free range chicken.  Very good, high end free range chicken, but that's all.  The owners of BtB say they do sell organic chicken, but "it comes from another farm", one they don't want to reveal.

The Stranger went ahead and contacted the only other meat supplier they could, based on seeing Nicky USA Farms trucks making deliveries at the shop.  That outfit, based in Oregon, confirmed that Bill the Butcher is a customer.  They also said they don't deal in organic meats.  

So, there you go.  You can't trust businesses.  You can, however, trust these guys.  At least, if you have to choose between them.
Saturday, May 8th, 2010
8:41 pm
So I guess I'm married now or something?

Current Mood: accomplished
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
1:29 pm
If this guy writes a song about the ordeal he could be a country music superstar.

You gotta feel sorry for cops in this town, sometimes.
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
1:28 pm
On the 69th anniversary of the closing of the Seattle Streetcars
69 years ago yesterday, the last streetcar line in Seattle stopped service.  At that time, it made sense.

In the 1930's, the streetcars operating in Seattle were suffering from a lack of maintenance.  The agency had no money to pay the operators, and had told them to take their wages directly from the nickels and dimes in the farebox.  The rails and cars both were completely worn out.  The obsolete turn-of-the-century streetcars struggled up Seattle's steep hills at a walking pace.  When they were installed, they'd been a vast improvement over the horse-drawn streetcars that preceded them, but now they were a joke.  

 In 1937, a bus manufacturer brought a demonstration "trackless trolley"  to Seattle. This was simply an electric bus, custom-wired to run on the same 600v DC overhead wires that powered the city's electric streetcars*.  He proposed a demonstration race, his bus against a Seattle streetcar on the steep Queen Anne Hill line.  His bus did the route in half the time of the ancient streetcar.  

The city of Seattle, much like today, was strapped for cash and had no money to upgrade their streetcar system.  However, federal subsidies and loans were available for buses.  Seattle secured the money and ordered 235 electric "trackless trolleys" and 102 conventional buses.  Because the new buses were so much faster than the old streetcars, no one complained much that the ride was much less comfortable, or that the buses held much fewer people.  

Nowadays, Seattle is building streetcars again; the technological challenges that slowed them down in the prewar era have long sense been solved.  The limitations of bus service in an urban area have become readily apparent.  There's not enough room on them for all the passengers, and bus congestion at busy stops is screwing up the schedules (3rd ave at 5:00 is nothing but bus gridlock, and all the buses are standing room only).  Now, it's the diesel buses that are struggling to maintain a decent speed on hills, hills that streetcars have become able to climb in the past several decades.

People are arguing against streetcars still, but the argument has changed.  Anti-transit activists often argue against rail-based transit (streetcars, trams, etc.) now on the basis that buses are "more flexible" and can have their routes changed if demand changes.

Today in Seattle, we have our "more flexible" buses running the exact same routes that our streetcars ran 69 years ago.  I say, bring 'em back.  Flexibility really isn't everything, especially in a well-established urban center.  I'd settle for a comfortable ride in a vehicle with enough room for all the passengers, rather than standing in the isle bouncing against all the other passengers at every pothole. 

*Aside:  Today, our transit system still operates this system on a handful of high-ridership routes.  The vehicles are now called ETBs, for Electric Trolley Bus, but we're still using the same century-old 600v DC system on dual overhead wires.  These ETBs are also still the system's best hill climbers, rocketing up steep grades at speeds nothing else can touch.  They're all slated to be scrapped soon, though, as the new hybrid diesel buses are even cheaper to operate, and (As always) Metro Transit is strapped for cash.
Sunday, March 21st, 2010
5:48 am
Trival Crimes of Great Importance.
Charles Mudede is a man who writes for The Stranger, and also a professor of something or other at a private college on the nice side of town.  I don't always agree with the slant in his stories - sometimes it seems like he can't see the forest for the trees -  but I do love the way he writes.

He writes the weekly police blotter wrap-up, as well as the occasional feature article.  This week's Police Beat is especially good, I think.
Friday, February 19th, 2010
10:21 pm
 Can't I just order my wedding mail-order from China via Ebay, like everything else?
Friday, February 12th, 2010
2:56 pm
By now, everyone in the US with a pulse knows about these two high-school freshman girls:

What lead up to this altercation is not clear. Both the victim and the suspects stories about what lead up to this event have changed several times, and are full of inconsistencies. What we do know is pretty basic. The two girls knew each other. They had a fight in the Macy's and the Seattle Police were called to remove them. The police responded twice more later in the day to separate them during verbal disturbances. Seeing no violence or threats of violence, after the last incident SPD advised the victim to "go home". Eventually, the victim went into the bus tunnel; presumably to catch a train home. As soon as she set foot in the tunnel, she was out of SPD's jurisdiction, and on County property, patrolled only by private security guards with no authority to enforce law. The guards are only allowed to "observe and report", to call the sheriffs at the first sign of trouble - anything more and they are fired. As private security, they get none of the legal protections that city cops or county sheriffs enjoy; if they were to physically intervene to break up a fight, they would be guilty of assault.

I believe that this is right. I don't think the solution to any crime problem is arming and empowering rent-a-cops. I also believe that the King County government is a bunch of fucking taxaphobic cheapskates, not willing to pay for proper, uniformed deputies to patrol their property.

That is the context.

This has been extensively covered in our local news, and has grabbed some relatively sizable airtime on national news as well. The citizen response to this coverage has been nearly universal.

"THESE THREE MEN"  they all exclaim. "How dare they stand there and let this poor girl be beaten! Screw the contract, screw the law, screw the danger. They are MEN, they must attempt to stop this, to their dying breath!"

To be fair to these three men, the suspect had an entourage of about 10 older males with her, just off-camera; you can see some of them swooping in to scoop up the victim's purse, iPod, and other belongings.  So, I mean, it's not as clear cut as it seems - Security was hopelessly outnumbered.  It doesn't change anything, though.

These comments have not been said by any journalist that I know of, save Charles Mudede, but they are omnipresent in man-on-the-street reaction interviews, in letters to the editor, in the comment threads on news websites.  So... if these three folks from Olympic Security had been women, how would the citizen response be different?  What if it were two males fighting instead of two females?  Many suggest that it was sexism that prevented the guards from stepping in; I think that the sexism factor would have encouraged these guards to step in.

I mean, I understand the societal obligation that comes with being male.  I'm expected to put myself in harms way to protect a female, at any time, for any reason.  I've been trained to do so from an early age, by media and my peers.  And the training is thorough - it's an instinct that's hard to fight.  If I was one of those three men, I probably would have tried to step in and grabbed the suspect or something, consequences be damned.  

And that's why I'm NOT a security guard.  I don't have the discipline, the self-control to stop myself from doing the instinctual thing.  I wouldn't last 5 minutes as a cop or security guard, I'd get my ass thrown right out.  They're trained to ignore emotions and follow procedures.  It's their job.

But yeah, these comments, denigrating THESE THREE MEN, I dunno, there's just something not right, there.  Are we still in the age where women aren't allowed in the military, and the men have to go overseas in their stead to protect them?
Sunday, February 7th, 2010
4:36 pm
Birth song?
So I guess there's this meme now where you find the #1 song on the day you were born, and post the video.

This site will find the #1 song in the US/UK on any date. Of course, for me it's an easily forgotten Steve Miller Band single. But it makes my mother's hairstyle in all my baby pictures make so much more sense.
Thursday, February 4th, 2010
1:59 am
So recent Toyotas have been having this "unintended acceleration" problem.

Toyota first blamed this on incorrectly installed floormats, and then on the gas pedal. They instructed dealers first to remove floormats, and then later to cut the bottom couple of inches off of the pedal. So far, nothing they've done has fixed the problem.

Drivers who have experienced the issues report that their gas pedals never got stuck. They've wedged toes under, gotten down on hands and knees with the car off and played with it with their hands, and found nothing stuck.

This has all the hallmarks of a throttle body problem. This is exactly the kind of thing that would happen if a screw was loose or missing on the butterfly; it could get slightly out of position and wedge open in the throttle body. Poorly installed butterflies or throttle bodies that develop leaks would do this. Bad electronics on the "fly by wire" system that controls the actual throttle could do this.

But all this hubbub they're making about the gas pedal assemblies? I'm simply not buying it. It's obvious that Toyota's known about this issue for a long time, and they've been stonewalling every step so far; there's no reason to believe they aren't still stonewalling now. This response is worse than Ford's response to the Pinto rear-end vulnerability. At least in that case, Ford acknowledged the existence of the problem, they simply argued to the government that it was inconsequential.

In the Pinto case, the design flaw did not cause accidents, but worsened injuries in routine rear-end accidents.
In the Toyota case, the flaw is causing accidents which would not have otherwise occurred.

So far, there have been 16 documented deaths resulting from the Toyota issue.
The Pinto issue caused 27 documented deaths over the life of the vehicles.

Catching up fast, huh?

Part of Toyota's reluctance to admit to a problem with their throttle bodies is that the replacement costs are high. Several hundred dollars each. Ford's Pinto safety retrofit kit was $11; a piece of puncture-stopping plastic, and a color-coded gas-cap to identify the car as retrofitted.

But I guess today we don't have Ralph Nader, or a catch slogan like "The barbecue that seats four". Oh wait, we do have Ralph Nader, he's just sold out to his own ego.
Monday, January 18th, 2010
2:26 pm
On cars
So I'm supposed to have been planning my wedding to mj_automatic these past few weeks, but in reality I've been mostly dealing with car issues. On new years eve, in the middle of the afternoon rush-hour, I got in a relatively minor fender-bender on 23rd. An oncoming car made a left turn onto a side street right in front of me. Due to line-of-sight issues caused by stopped left-turn traffic in the other lane, we couldn't see each other until it was far too late for me to stop completely, and I t-boned her at a low speed with the brakes locked.

I was tempted to say "If you can't see the oncoming traffic, don't cross it!", but I didn't want to be a dick about it, and it was an honest mistake. That's why they're called accidents.

The damage was pretty minor, and mostly cosmetic. Her car, a '07 Forester, had the bumper knocked loose and a sizable dent in the front fender - her right front tire took most of the impact. Our car, a '97 Saturn, had a broken headlight, cracks in the front edges of both front fenders, a bent hood, and a dent in the bumper. My considerable bulk also bent the brake pedal in the impact, making the brake lights stay on permanently. We were both able to drive our cars home.

Our Saturn, with numerous pre-existing cosmetic flaws and a clean retail value of around $3000, was declared a total loss almost immediately by the insurance company. The appraiser scoured the car for pre-existing problems and carefully documented each one. By the time we finally got our settlement check, they had sliced $600 off of the value of the car. They presented us with a list of the flaws. A list almost entirely composed of things I had been "getting around to" fixing, things like the dome light and the power locks. It was maybe $200 in repairs, total, but it all added up to a car that would have been completely unsellable at retail.

So I set out trying to find a low-mileage 4-cylinder car with ABS and an automatic for under $2,500. I found exactly 2, and we bought a replacement Saturn (this time a 2000), for $2100. Now we're in the nervous honeymoon stage with this car, waiting for the previous owner's unresolved problems to crop up so I can fix them. It didn't take long, on day 2 with the new Saturn, it refused to start, and I ended up having to replace the starter motor in my work parking lot. And now on day 4 the check engine light has come on. My code-reader tells me it believes there is a vapor leak in the gas tank, which is supposed to be airtight. This is a minor problem, but one that it's going to take me forever to track down.

But at least now the worst of it is over, maybe by wednesday I can get back to wedding plans.
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009
1:38 pm
Christmas Carol #2

Lots of good shots of my old neighborhood in the U-district in that video.
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
10:41 am
Christmas Carol #3

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
3:37 pm
So, I'm back in the land of the internet again, thanks to a bunch of flashy new parts and a new install of Windows 7.

My old motherboard had some sort of bios bug - If I ran any windows OS more recent than XP SP2, my graphics performance would plummet, making both WoW and TF2 completely unplayable. The manufacturer released a patch a while ago, but all that did was make Vista actually usable, not fix in-game performance issues.

Now I have a fancy new AM3 mobo and proc, (along with 4 gigs of ram) courtesy of sycomonkey and everything is super. Except during my slash-and-burn reinstall I backed almost nothing up. It's almost a week later now, and I think I've got everything set up the way I like it. And I'm trying to piece back together my bookmarks - took me better than a week to remember that there's this Livejournal thing on das intarwebs.

Can't wait to try out this machine in Icecrown IF THE SERVERS EVER COME BACK UP.
Sunday, November 1st, 2009
2:17 pm
Last night, a few blocks up East Yesler from my apartment, a Seattle Police officer and trainee were sitting in their parked patrol car, discussing a traffic stop they had just completed. A grey/white Toyota Tercel hatchback, the type usually taken for joyrides by high-schoolers, pulled up alongside the patrol car.

Someone in the Tercel pulled a rifle, and fired multiple shots into the cruiser, killing the officer in the passenger seat. The trainee, with one bullet in her back, fired multiple shots at the Toyota as it fled.

This is the first time since 1994 a SPD officer has been shot and killed on-duty.

If you're in the Seattle area, drop off some flowers or something for the family, either at the scene (29th and Yesler) or the East Precinct (12th and Pine).

Current Mood: sad
Friday, October 16th, 2009
1:24 pm
Thank you for your interest in the Seattle City Light Apprenticeship Program.
At this time, we do not anticipate our programs opening until 2011. We appreciate your patience during this tough economic time, and we hope that you will continue to check our website for other employment opportunities that may be of interest to you (www.seattle.gov/jobs).

Son of a BITCH

Yup. I'll be in it fall of 2009. Sure.

Why have I not yet learned to distrust any information given to me by potential employers?
Monday, August 31st, 2009
3:30 pm
I really do love this town.

more after the jumpCollapse )
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