I’ve been avoiding posting

It might sound kind of stupid, but I wanted to leave my post about Ray as sort of a tribute and not distract from it by posting about anything else for a while. Reading back on that post, I can see that it was too self-centered. The only attempt at an excuse that I can offer was that I really was completely knocked for a loop by what happened and was trying to make sense of it for myself. Although, I’m not sure why I chose to do that in public.

This is what I should have said:

Ray was great. She was funny, and she loved to laugh. I saw her go through every emotion over the years and through some really tough times, but she was always a joy to be around, and she was an amazing singer.

Whenever I needed a singer for some project, she was at the top of my list. Not just because of her voice, but also because she was fun to work with.

I didn’t know her as a mother, but I can imagine that she was amazing. She was tremendously compassionate and caring.

Since it happened, I’ve heard from many of her friends in Portland or her old friends that she never lost touch with. It is clear that over the years, she never lost those wonderful elements of her personality that we in Seattle got to know and love.

The earth will be less for her not being here.

LuRay Hodder Kuca: Rest In Peace – 1968-2007

Portland family of three dead in apparent murder-suicide – OregonLive.com: Breaking News Updates

This kicks me in the teeth. I heard about it when the Oregonian called to get my thoughts and, at first, I thought they must have the wrong Ray. I couldn’t believe it. I played with her for years in Vassily and The Fellini Outtakes. She was on the first Intonarumori record. I lost touch with her after she left Seattle. I didn’t know she got married. I didn’t know she had a child. I didn’t know that she moved back to the northwest.

This is all manner of fucked up.

If there is a memorial service for them please contact me here. There are a lot of friends and former band mates in Seattle that would want to be there.

The Local Vine

So, The Local Vine opened up mere steps from our front door in Belltown, but we avoided it for months. Partially because we were annoyed by the way they cordoned off the public sidewalk. Partially for the crowds of annoying smokers that always surrounded it, taking up what was left of the sidewalk and partially because we were waiting for the crowds to die down a bit.

Imagine our surprise when we found the place mostly empty at 8:30 on a Saturday night, on a holiday weekend, with Bumbershoot happening a few blocks away.

Counting ourselves lucky, we found a spot amongst the a-bit-too-modern-for-comfort furniture and sat down. We had read some of the reviews, so we knew the back story. This place was founded by two recent Harvard MBA grads looking to create a chain of neighborhood wine bars. They wanted to get people excited about wine in the way that Starbucks got them excited (and knowledgeable) about coffee. They were even offering free wireless as an enticement to sit and relax in their space.

Over our stay there, we found some fatal flaws for their business plan. The dark, candle-lit atmosphere screams romance (especially with wine). The lack of sound baffling unfortunately made that quite impossible as more people entered and the noise level became uncomfortable quickly. Speaking of uncomfortable, the low, backless furniture that is the majority of the place’s seating options is not very comfortable and makes it extremely difficult to have a meal without either hunching over the low table or risking spilling food over yourself as you make the long journey from your place to your mouth. The menu doesn’t help as it features a number of dishes dripping with sauces or other things dangerous to clothing. Their business plan may say “come, relax”, but their business actually says “go away.” The atmosphere itself was all about Belltown-cool which I can appreciate, but I have to admit that I’ve gotten tired of having hipster 20-somethings slouching and talking on a cellphone through their entire meal in my eye-line.

As we were here to actually eat and not lounge around drinking wine alone, we were excited that The Local Vine had gotten the chef from Crush in charge of the menu. The food itself was pretty good. For the portions and atmosphere it did feel overpriced. Most of the menu consists of small dishes, each priced between $8-$15. It took about 6 of them to feed the two of us. I would consider that a reasonably priced meal for the quality in a restaurant, but in the Local Vine it didn’t seem right.

The service was quite good when we sat down, but went down-hill as the restaurant filled up. By the end of the meal we were spending a lot of time trying to flag down someone to get our bill. This especially seemed strange because the employee to customer ratio was really high, even when the place was crowded. I’m really not sure how it devolved that badly.

Overall, I liked it. There are some serious problems there to be sure. The only thing that would get me to come back would be the food and then only early in the day when it isn’t too crowded. And then only if I wanted a snack and not a full meal. As far as the Starbucks-as-wine-bar concept, I think these MBAs need to learn a few more lessons before they’ll be able to successfully export this idea to other less-hip neighborhoods in Seattle, let alone other cities.

Local Vine in Seattle

Microsoft buys itself a Swedish Standard – Updated

It looks like the Swedish Standards Committee was going to vote “no, with comments” on Microsoft’s OOXML proposal. Then, in the 3 days before the vote, 24 new companies paid the fees to join the committee. The result being that the standard was passed. Of those 24 companies, 18 of them were Microsoft Gold Certified Partners.

This is a huge blunder for Microsoft, which has been switching their position from ignoring standards to proposing them over the last few years in order to engender better PR.

links:
http://computersweden.idg.se/2.2683/1.118249
http://stupid.domain.name/node/385

Update – 9/1/07
Looks like the SIS board canceled the vote because of the irregularities  and so Sweden won’t vote in the ISO.

link: http://stupid.domain.name/node/389

The Bush Administration doesn’t want to hear dissent

In a healthy Democracy, all voices are heard. In a dictatorship or fascist regime all measures are taken to move those who do not agree to the margins to minimize their influence and maximize the impact of the thought control emanated from the leaders. Once the campaign was over, Bush was supposed to be everybody’s president. By tightly controlling their events so that only the approved loyalists can attend, Bush is telling the 49% that didn’t vote for him or the 70+% that don’t approve of him, “I don’t care what you think.” What if instead of surrounding himself by toadying yes-men, he instead had a debate with the hecklers and showed his depth of understanding on the issues? That’d be amazing if he had any understanding of the issues. Well, maybe the next president.

White House Manual Details How to Deal With Protesters – washingtonpost.com

Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by “rally squads” stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.

Drop Foreseen in Median Price of U.S. Homes – New York Times

Drop Foreseen in Median Price of U.S. Homes – New York Times

Perhaps the most prominent housing booster was David Lereah, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors until April. In 2005, he published a book titled, “Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?” In 2006, it was updated and rereleased as “Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust.” This year, Mr. Lereah published a new book, “All Real Estate Is Local.”

In an interview, Mr. Lereah, now an executive at Move Inc., which operates a real estate Web site, acknowledged he had gotten it wrong, saying he did not fully realize how loose lending standards had become and how quickly they would tighten up again this summer. But he argued that many of his critics have also been proved wrong, because they were bearish as early as 2002.

“The bears were bears way too early, and the bulls were bulls too late,” he said. “You need to know when you are straying from fundamentals. It’s hard, when you are in the middle of the storm, to know.”

f’ing A! CSS Positioning sux

Every time I try to use CSS for positioning, I hit the wall. Gradually, this wall has been getting further and further, but I still always hit it. First I couldn’t get things to lay out correctly at all. Now I can get them to lay out, but only on three of the four browsers at any one time. Then I read this and it makes me feel better:
jwz – CSS is BS

I have learned or in some cases reconfirmed a few other things about CSS, too:

  • Web designers, and especially blogging web designers, are self-important fuckheads. This might be tolerable if they were right, but by and large theyre also dumbasses.
  • Everybody who fancies themself a CSS expert uses pixel-based layout for everything. Their shining examples of elegance always include boxes that are exactly 400 pixels wide, and that specify font sizes in pixels not even points This is better than auto-flowing auto-sizing table layout… why?
  • Most of the time, these examples look like ass on my screen, presumably because Im not running Windows and dont have the same fonts that they do. Or maybe because theyre all using 50-inch monitors and sit with their noses on the glass, the only way those miniscule fonts could actually look readable to someone.
  • They never measure in “em” units, so that their boxes might have at least some relation to the size of the text inside them.
  • This may or may not be because “em” doesnt work consistently across various browsers.
  • Oh, “em”, a term from the world of physical typesetting, is supposed to be the width of a capital letter M, and used only for horizontal measure; the vertical measures are ascent, descent, leading, and sometimes “ex” height of a lower case “x”. CSS defines “em” as being the height of an M instead making it synonymous with “ascent”, which makes it generally about twice as big as youd expect if you know anything about this stuff. Nice. Thats like redefining “centimeter” because it seemed more convenient at the time. Except sillier, since “em” is an older unit of measure than centimeter is.

Is Second Life over yet?

How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life

Ever since BusinessWeek ran a breathless cover story titled “My Virtual Life” more than a year ago, reporters have been heralding Second Life as the here-and-now incarnation of the fictional Metaverse that Neal Stephenson conjured up 15 years ago in Snow Crash. Wired created a 12-page “Travel Guide” last fall. Unfortunately, the reality doesnt justify the excitement.

Second Life partisans claim meteoric growth, with the number of “residents,” or avatars created, surpassing 7 million in June. Theres no question that more and more people are trying Second Life, but that figure turns out to be wildly misleading. For starters, many people make more than one avatar. According to Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, the number of avatars created by distinct individuals was closer to 4 million. Of those, only about 1 million had logged on in the previous 30 days the standard measure of Internet traffic, and barely a third of that total had bothered to drop by in the previous week. Most of those who did were from Europe or Asia, leaving a little more than 100,000 Americans per week to be targeted by US marketers.

Bank Failure in Second Life Leads to Calls for Regulation

Last week, Ginko Financial — an unregulated bank that promised investors astronomical returns (in excess of 40 percent) and was run by a faceless owner whose identity is still a mystery — announced it would no longer exist as a financial entity.

The declared insolvency meant the bank would be unable to repay approximately 200,000,000 Lindens (U.S. $750,000) to Second Life residents who had invested their money with the bank over the course of its three and a half years of existence.