Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

A Working Girl.

12.25.2008

Perhaps you've been wondering what it is that I do for a living. My company, Widemile, is an internet marketing company. We have a platform for landing page optimization. I build the web pages from creative compositions and set up the optimization tests in our platform. Check out these links for more information.

You can also read my past blogs on the topic at http://www.pewpewlaser.com/tag/widemile.

The Least Christmasy Christmas Movie.

12.21.2008

Last night, the husband and I watched It's a Wonderful Life. This was the first time either of us had seen anything more than snatches of the film. We sat down and watched the whole thing, uncut and commercial free. Watching it was enchanting; a far cry from the saccharine love-fest you might have in mind.

I think the film breaks out of the narrow classification of "holiday movie". It's much more complex than that. George Bailey is a wonderfully sympathetic character with a carefully crafted life story, and I can't imagine anyone other than Jimmy Stewart in the part. The other characters were tightly written with no fluff or wasted dialog.

It also struck me that the "what the world would be like if George was never born" theme was a theme that had been or would be commonly used in science fiction. It certainly hints very strongly of the "alternate reality" or "parallel universe" ideas.

Lastly, I might be wrong, but I think that It's a Wonderful Life actually had Jesus as a character, though IMDB says "Senior Angel (voice)". He was the galaxy talking to Joseph. Think carefully now, how many popular Christmas movies actually roles for any of "Jesus, Mary and Joseph"?

Do Not Taunt Seattle Weather.

12.18.2008

Yesterday's Seattle news headline: Seattle paralyzed by chance of snow. It may sound bizarre, but the Northwest is known for this sort of thing; Seattle in particular. We have these completely serious tips for abandoning your car in snow.

Snowy Backyard Today's Seattle news headline: Beware of icy roads as temps fall. There were a couple inches on the ground in the morning, and it kept snowing lightly all day. The husband and I tele-commuted from home today. The cats love work from home days. We did walk down the hill to pick up some provisions and snap a few pictures.

The smart and lucky folks stay home. This kind of weather doesn't phase other parts of the country - it's only a few inches! But Seattle doesn't have infrastructure (such as an armada of snowplows) or the culture (snow-driving smarts) that Detroit does. We also have a lot of hills.

Winter Update.

12.16.2008

It's been cold cold cold in Seattle lately. We even got a bit of snow on Saturday night, and and quite a bit of it's still downtown. The cold has driven the kitties to sleep with us on the bed more frequently. I sure wish the new soup joint at the bottom of the building would open up already.

I've been doing a lot of baking lately. As a warm up, I made the some of the sugar cookies filled with jam from last year. Then I made some snickerdoodles; sadly, using a 75% shortening / 25% butter mix (instead of the normal 50%/50% model) didn't work too well. I'll have to try some different techniques for a nice fluffy snickerdoodle. Most recently, I made some gingerbread in a festive baking mold. Note gingerbread - not cookies - but a lovely festive cake / bread. Tasty!

Information When it's Needed.

12.11.2008

At the beginning of the year, I bought an daily calendar with photos from the National Gallery of Art for each day. Each day is a single glossy photo on heavy card stock. To save on paper, the manufacturer printed one day on each side of the cards.

At the end of June, one of the cards had instructions telling me to flip the whole stack of cards around to start the second half of the year.

That's good usability, people. I got the information right when I needed it; rather than having to fish out some documentation from 6 months ago.

Free Advice.

12.7.2008

How do you find a good referral for a service provider? The internet is chock full of information - but it's often too anonymous to be trusted. Fortunately, there are plenty of old-fashioned sources for great recommendations.

Looking for a painter, house cleaner, or someone else to work on your home? Ask your real estate agent. If you don't have a good real estate agent, I'd gladly recommend ours - we've found great ones in Seattle and Portland.

Are you wandering around a downtown, and need a recommendation for a restaurant? Saunter into a hotel and ask the concierge. Or ask the parking valets.

Why ask these people? Can you image how often a real estate agent needs a handyman? Do you think that handyman is going to provide less than stellar service to the agent, or the agent's customers? Perhaps; but only once.

DS Lite Randomly Powers Down.

12.3.2008

Last month, the father in law told us that he'd been having some trouble with his Nintendo DS Lite. Yes, this the baby boomer for whom I insidiously instrumented a birthday gift of a Nintendo DS Lite, Clubhouse Games, and Brain Age. He loves it.

Anyhoo, the problem was the the DS would randomly shut down during play, sometimes only after a minute of play. The husband and I theorized that the root cause of the problem could be a bad cartridge, a bad connection socket in the DS, or a problem with the battery. We suggested changes to his DS - playing work flow that could resolve the trouble, or at least narrow down the cause.

It turned out to be battery trouble - dad-in-law tended to keep the DS fully charged, and even play at his desk with the power plugged in. Since giving the battery a more natural cycle of charge and discharge, he hasn't seen any troubles.

Thanksgiving at Our Place.

12.2.2008

This year, the husband and I hosted Thanksgiving for the very first time. My mom, two sisters, and a sister's fiancé came up from Portland to celebrate with us. All in all, it went pretty darn well.

Wednesday night was the most troublesome. I tried to make some buttery warm yeast-based rolls, but the recipe didn't work. I found another recipe for rolls, but they required 24 hours of rising time. Alas, no rolls for Thanksgiving. The husband had some trouble with the first pie crust recipe, but a second recipe (with alcohol) worked much better. We stayed up pretty late on Wednesday, but eventually got enough done. Next time I host turkey day, we must take the entire Wednesday off for prep work.

Thursday was busy, busy, busy as the husband was cooking almost non-stop for a few hours. My mom was very helpful in the kitchen as the sous-chef, and even whipped up some fancy molded butter pats. I did a lot of dishes. The sisters were very entertained by the Wii; Boom Blox was a big hit, and one sister was enthralled by Bubble Bobble.

In the end, we had a perfectly roasted turkey, a sourdough bread stuffing, apple and sweet potato casserole, mushroom gravy, and a fancy salad of pears, candied walnuts and blue cheese; and a Tofurky for the "special needs" family members. We were especially pleased that we were able to provide a variety of food for the vegetarians. Vegan sides would be a challenge; and probably not very tasty either. And, of course, the husband's much lauded apple pie for dessert.

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