Saturday, July 26, 2008

Personal Blog -

FYI - my personal blog is It ain't much so far, but is for my random jottings, notes and fevered delusions. Everyone's got to have a place to ramble, right? I am the HippyGeek, BTW. Pretty much sums up who I am and what I like in life.

The breakdown for my writing: is my local town website is the archive of my professional articles is just day to day thoughts

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Crestline Living - things are going well!

My new town blog - Crestline Living - is rolling along well. My goal is to introduce this gorgeous yet little known area to more people and prepare people for the realities of living here. If you ever wanted to live in Mayberry, this is a good place to consider moving to!

I will post as many pictures as possible. Here is one to start, of Big Bear Lake, of a wooden boardwalk trail over a lovely marsh.

I am slowly adding reviews of different businesses, restaurants, hiking trails, event, activities and lodging along the San Bernardino Mountains.

My logo is currently being worked up from a concept I designed. I'm pretty excited to see how it comes out. :-)

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Content being moved to

As I no longer live in Bellevue, I am in the process of moving this content over to my writing portfolio website

All my writings over the last 20 years are slowly being organized in that one spot - wooo hoo! It's feeling good to get organized. As I am trying to not overwhelm myself I am moving things slowly...old articles from various blogs and websites like and first. Then I will have to dig back into older stored media, like floppy discs and zip disks. (You know, I LIKED zip discs. They weren't the Big Thing for long though...). I actually have a portable zip drive in my drawer for this purpose, and I am keeping around my old floppy drive computer too, for when I set aside the time to dig in and retrieve old works.

Thursday, July 17, 2008 - Dynamic Flash Sites to be Indexed By Google

Google and Yahoo have announced that they now have the ability to index dynamic web content via the Flash player. polyGeek has created an experiment called to see how dynamic Flash sites will be indexed. Fleximagically is a Wordpress blog with a Flash sites interface - created with Adobe Flex. It uses the same Admin backend as any other Wordpress blog but everything the user sees is loaded dynamically - using AMFPHP - to get data from the database and present it to the user.

The site uses SWFAddress and SWFObject to lend support for deepLinking and browser history - back and forward buttons. So the site looks and behaves much as any blog would.

polyGeek will be sharing the tips and tricks he learns about search engine optimization - SEO - for the Flash player as time goes on.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Avoid Flu Germs at Home

There are flu shots, the flu mist and antiviral medications. These have their promise, in a limited way. The flu shot is only effective against certain flu strains, and, in some communities, is rationed. The flu mist, ditto. Antiviral medications have limited effectiveness, and best used in hospitals and dormitories - places where people are packed tightly into one breathing space. Antibiotics, which are only deadly to bacteria, are useless.

The best protection is prevention -

Avoid personal contact in general. Don't approach the coughing vicinity of folks who are sick. Wash your hands before touching your face in public places, at work, or even around a sick family member. Don't touch tissues that someone else has used for coughing, sneezing or nose blowing. Ask people (especially children) to cover their nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing. Do not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, towels or other personal items. Clean your hands often – with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based, waterless hand sanitizer. Try not to use public restrooms.

People at extreme risk (babies, elderly, the immunocompromised) should wear a mask when going out. Or even gloves. People who have the flu can also wear a mask, to prevent spreading those germs in public.

In the home -

Lysol should be a help. Spray your doorknobs, fridge handle, phones, remotes, computer keyboards, switch plates, sink taps - anything often touched by multiple persons. Bleach is a wonderful antibacterial cleanser for most of these surfaces.

Healthlink, at the University of Wisconsin suggests cleaning surfaces thoroughly with soap and water or another strong cleanser. They continue: "After cleaning, if you need to use a disinfectant, apply it to the area, and let it stand for a few minutes or longer, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations. This keeps the germs in contact with the disinfectant longer. Wipe the surface with paper towels that can be thrown away or cloth towels that can be washed afterwards. Even if you use gloves, wash your hands after cleaning or disinfecting surfaces."

The University of Vermont Center for Health and Wellbeing website offers:
"Don't share silverware, towels, or bedding with anyone in your home until these items have been washed with soap and hot water.Clean surfaces (counter or tabletops, door knobs, bathroom fixtures, etc.) that have been contaminated by body fluids (sweat, saliva, mucous, or even vomit or urine) from the patient with a household disinfectant used according to the manufacturer's instructions. Wear disposable gloves during all cleaning activities. Throw these out when you are done. Do not reuse them."

You can also boil your toothbrush (for just a minute in water and vinegar) or get a new one (and keep it in a separate place) if you share a bathroom with someone who has the flu.

Prevention from within -

Take this time to eat right, get enough sleep, lessen your stress levels, and make sure you are getting enough vitamins, whether in supplements or the food you buy (ie - organic is a good bet, or food fresh from a farmer's market). Drink lots of fluids to help keep your immune system up. Be good to yourself.

The Daily Buzz recommends taking at least 250 milligrams of vitamin C, a B-complex, and vitamin E. They also mention adding garlic to your diet. Garlic contains allicin, a compound with antiviral effects.

The Alternative Medicine site at Bella also offers great tips to keep your immunity up to par this season, with this Total Immunity article.

There's another great piece about using aromatherapy to prevent or treat flu bugs at Bella's Fragrance topic.

Not abandoned, just behind :)

This blog is considerably behind. I am not staying at the Paragon Hotel any longer - I stopped working on this blog as soon as I moved into 989 Elements, which is a great living space (with some points of contention for the resident - I'll get to that later).

Prevent Flu Germs at Work

Steps towards a cleaner, safer, flu-free workplace:

Have you thought about how many people have touched that lightswitch, doorknob, keyboard and pen? How many folks have put their face up to the phone receiver? I'm not trying to scare you, but since viri and bacteria are commonly passed through touching common items (or by having someone cough on them), it's way too easy for germs to gain the upper hand in an office environment.

The Canadian Health Website writes: "Viruses can live for up to 48 hours on the surfaces of toys, coffee makers, doorknobs, computer keyboards, and other hard surfaces. It can take up to a week for flu symptoms to appear, and in that time you can infect others. To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, it's a good practice to wash your hands often with hot water and soap."

I like to also carry an antibacterial hand gel in my purse, and use this frequently during the day - especially after shaking hands (don't do this in their presence!). Lysol is nice to keep in your desk drawer for morning and post-lunch spray downs (someone might have used your phone, pen or computer while you were out).

Try to (quietly) keep a few feet of distance between you and your co-workers. Wash your hands after personal contact or using common items; use your own coffee mug and utensils. Use your own pen. Try not to touch your face a lot or rub your eyes - those fragile membranes are prime portals for those viruses to enter your body.

Honestly, I don't espouse germ paranoia, but during the flu season, it only makes sense to use preventative techniques. The recent flu viruses are worse than usual, lasting several weeks, decimating employees in their workspaces. Lots of those who are sick are even still working, contaminating everything they touch, sneeze and cough on. Don't catch it!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baking Powder Uses

Everybody knows how useful Baking SODA is. Did you know that Baking POWDER can be just as useful in keeping your home clean?

Baking soda is actually the primary component IN baking powder, so it's no surprise that pretty much anything you can do with baking soda, you can do with baking powder. If you get confused between the two, baking powder usually comes in a can. Baking soda usually comes in a box.

Since most people use far more baking soda when cooking, they often end up with leftover baking powder that has expired. Here are some great uses for your old baking powder.

Carpet Freshener
One of my favorite uses, it really does well with odors. Mix in a drop or two of your favorite fragrance, and sprinkle on the carpet. Let sit for 10 minutes before vaccuuming up.

Scrubbing Compound
Sprinkle the baking powder onto your counter, sink or tub. Use a wet sponge to scrub out the stains, and then rinse clean.

Dishwasher / Washing Machine

Sprinkle some baking powder into your washing machine or dishwasher to add an extra boost of cleaning power.

Organize Your Scarves

I like fashion scarves and have a lot of them - silk scarves, handpainted ones, vintage ones. Scarves are an easy way to add personality, color and versatility to an outfit. The problem: how to organize them?

I've tried many storage solutions, from sticking them in a drawer or a basket (in which I find I never use the scarves on the bottom), to draping them over a clothesline behind the bedroom door (which works but looks messy).

So I like my newest solution: a Scarf Hanger Spinner I found at The Container Store. It features six loops of chrome dangling from a natural wood frame that hangs in my closet. I have two scarves on each loop to store 12 scarves.

I like that this hanger spins, so I can easily view all my scarves and not just reach for the same three I seem to wear most often. With the wood handle, it's a nice-looking addition to my coat closet (where I use only wood hangers).

The chrome loops are also attractive, but, being thin metal, tend to put bend creases in my scarves at their hanging point. So this isn't a perfect solution by any means for scarf display and storage. It's just the best answer I've stumbled across. The hanger is also rather expensive at 7.99, but there may be less expensive options on the market.

The scarf spinner I found at the Container Store is not available as far as I can see at Amazon, but there are a few options there if you like to look at some pictures of other scarf hangers -

Monday, May 22, 2006

989 Elements Move-In - Once More Delayed

We've been put up in a hotel, because - surprise, surprise - our move-in date at 989 Elements has been delayed another 5 or 7 days (they are not sure how long we will be in limbo).

Let's make it clear I am not blaming the staff or anyone involved with the 989 Elements construction. As far as I know, the hold-up is via the Bellevue City Hall occupancy permits. I don't really know what that means, but the result is that my husband and I can put our belongings into our apartment, but we can't sleep there. In fact, we can't even enter our apartment without a 989 Elements leasing agent as chaperone.

In the meantime, this hotel, the Paragon, is a decent abode wherein we wait for the move; waiting, waiting once more. It's certainly nicer than the hotel we were provided when construction and move-in was delayed on the home we owned, once upon a recent time in Flagstaff, AZ.

The Paragon looks like a dive from the outside, but the inside has a nice feeling of faded and newly revisited luxury. More on this nice-on-the-inside hotel later.

In the meantime, I can look right out my balcony here...and gaze up to our intended 8th floor apartment across the street.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Urban Living - Power Washing Hell

You win some; you lose some. I have a love/hate affair with the Belle Arts Apartments. It's really just timing, but we all know (if you've been keeping up with this blog) I moved in from San Diego, the day after they tarped the building. That was not so good for my SAD situation. Then when the tarps came down, they turned the courtyard fountain on, the sun shone, and I was in love with Belle Arts.

Which is when the management decided to spend a week powerwashing the courtyard. I am all in favor of a clean courtyard and after-winter sprucing. However, it's taken four days long, loud days already and will continue tomorrow for a 5th. And then, sadly, I move out. Just when peace will finally reign here, someone else will be able to enjoy it. Why couldn't my short time here have been quiet enough - and untarped enough - to get some honest work done? [grumble, grumble]

All I have to say about power washers is they are loud. They make jet engine sound seem like a lullaby. And so, now the sound of power washers has joined the short list of intolerable urban noises; along with jack hammers, leaf blowers and car commercials. And remember, this is coming from a girl who doesn't mind the sound of traffic (it's white noise, like the ocean).

Here is a fragment of yesterday's email to the poor spouse, after being frazzled out from hours of power washing music: "But I can't stand that crazy loud noise of the power wash outside and must take off now. It's driving me CRAZY! crazy crazy crazy hahhahahahahaha must....kill...something.....crush...destroy....."

So, yep; that's me, crazy and incredibly irritated as we speak. Turn it off! Turn it off! Turn that frakking thing off. Some people are trying to work here....

Ah well; I guess city living isn't totally perfect. I will adjust. I hope the new apartment at 989 Elements will be a better work environment.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Belle Arts Courtyard Fountain

It's the little things that add up to a good life. Right now I am loving the Zen-inspired fountain within the Belle Arts Apartments inner courtyard, here in Downtown Bellevue.

When I first moved in to this studio, the one large window was completely covered in an opaque, white tarp. Made it look deeply overcast all the time; very depressing.

When the tarp came down, I could actually see a very pretty courtyard below. There were tall standing rocks, a few European-like columns, bushes, fruit trees in flower, tall and lush grasses and lovely slate tile.

And then, just a few days ago, the management deigned to turn on the fountain: I'm in love. It sounds very romantic with water gently burbling out of those tall standing stones, to cascade onto the gravel pool below.

What a difference this makes! I have to keep the window wide open, even if it's chilly out - the better to hear the falling water. I do have a nature sound simulator, but this is really a bit better, being real sound in the real world. It may not be an actual mountain stream, but I'm not complaining. And it's sunny out today. What more could I want as I sit by the window and work?

989 Elements ACTUAL Move In Date

It's a good thing I had an extra month paid for here at our Belle Arts studio. My husband and I would be out on the street if we'd believed for a second that that our 989 Elements May 6 move-in was a go.

That said, we finally have an actual, for real, move-in date - May 20th. This is fine for me, since the remainer of the month at our new place will be prorated; it's cheaper for us to move in later than sooner.

That still gives us 11 days left in the rest of May for a lazy move. We only need to transfer our possessions across the rather compact Bellevue downtown, from Belle Arts on 108th to 989 Elements on 112th. Easy. All part of the plan to decrease our overall "moving stress".

I'll start transferring things to my car immediately. A few things bought down, here and there, household items I won't miss for the two weeks while I wait. I've moved so many times recently - eight times in the last year and a half - that I've realized the value of not leaving packing until the last minute.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bellevue and the Flowering Fall of Spring

It's the end of the first Fall in Bellevue. Did you know Spring has a Fall? It's the time when all the little trees drop their flowers, coating the street curbs with piles of soft pink petals. It's really quite lovely, and carries a tinge of sadness...we will have to wait until next year to watch these notes of pink breezing about.

The major compensation is the onset of better weather. It's still not reliably sunny, but the days are longer and mostly clearer. The air feels softer, lacking the bite we've become used to all winter long.

All the trees have fully entered Springtime, at least. There is no mistaking the light green tufts, thicker by the day. Annuals grow thickly in Downtown medians and planters, and the perennials are sending up preliminary shafts and buds.

Winter is over, Amen.

Related Blog: Bellevue and the Flowering Trees of Spring

Sunday, April 30, 2006

SAD notes - Belle Arts Tarps update

After much begging and making a nuisance of myself, the Bellevue Belle Arts plastic tarps finally came down.

My relief knew no bounds. I had been losing my mind. I kept trying to follow up on WHEN the damned things were to be removed. No one knew. It became obvious that few people take Seasonal Affective Disorder seriously. The work on the windows was finished weeks prior and it was not just an inconvenience to have them left up. The thick white tarps were turning into a health problem for me: they were adding a deeper level into my SAD depression that I had not anticipated or planned for. I moved up here from sunny CA and AZ, after all.

I am surprised that in Seattle, of all places, SAD isn't given due respect. I figure, it's got to be worse here, and more understood here, than in, say, San Diego.

Although it's possible that anyone with SAD just doesn't stick around Seattle, either. Perhaps I am being foolishly optimistic about living here. I do have a plan to make this work, though. And summer is coming, the best time to be in the Pacific Northwest.

So when the tarps came down, I was deliriously happy. I drank in the view - although it's a north-facing courtyard view, I was so plainly happy to see actual sky.

It was even sunny for three or four days in a row, just for me.

I could have cried. Instead I handed Starbucks Double-Shot Lattes to all the construction workers hanging on the scaffolding. I felt like throwing money out the window, if I'd had any. I spent the next few days drunk on sunshine. Ridiculously, absurdly happy.

It's overcast this weekend, drizzling, and I am off my high. But at least I can see out the window.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rate Your Bellevue Apartment

I actually enjoy apartment shopping. I spent a fantastic week last February checking out the different buildings in downtown Bellevue, meeting leasing agents, drinking free coffee and checking out potential living situations.

This has made life easier on Dan, who hates apartment shopping and thus, didn't have to go with me. Well, that's why it's great that people have differences. :)

Speaking of differences, here is a website where people can email their two cents on apartments they've lived in. For the most part, it seems Bellevue residents are unhappy with downtown living. Most of the reports are negative. it's possible that unhappy residents are doing the bulk of the posting. Either that, or downtown Bellevue complexes have yet to learn the value of excellent customer service.

To be fair, very few reports are current enough, datewise, to give a valuable picture of present management policies. So this website is not a decent baseline on which to determine a place to live.

If you are (or have been) a renter in Bellevue, or anywhere in Seattle or otherwise, you might want to enter a more up-to-date apartment review. I will be adding my own reviews right here, in my own blog.

Feel free to add your comments here as well. :-)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

989 Elements Move-in Delayed

I really did expect this, but our move-in date has been pushed back to May 13th. It seems 989 Elements' construction schedule has been running a bit behind.

An industry insider told me the 989 Elements building is going up with "scab work", which means non-union workers. I have no problem with that per se, but I disagree that planners should go with the lowest bid on any construction project. My thinking: You Get What You Pay For.

Look at the Belle Arts building, which is purportedly only five years old. The windows ended up being leaky, and the entire thing had to be scaffolded and tarped.

Would it not have been cheaper to put in better windows, or use more qualified labor and craftsmanship in the first place?

Back to our upcoming move: I never expected that May 6 was actually going to be our 989 Elements move-in date, and I won't bet that May 13 will happen, either. At least I won't hold my breath on it.

I'm just pleased Dan and I had the luck to have rented out Belle Arts sublet for an extra month, just in case. In other words, we are not out on the street, this merry month of May.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bellevue Wiki Entry and Drawing Seattle's Boundary

What is Bellevue? Where is it, what's the history? Is is really part of Seattle?

The esteemed Wikipedia is increasingly the best source for background on most things. There's have a decent and readable Bellevue Entry. The entry traces a perimter around Bellevue and its adjoining townships.

So...Is Bellevue really a part of Seattle? The Wiki doesn't address this point, not yet. But, IMO, yes. Seattleites sneeringly decry it The Eastside, but it's still integral to the Seattle Metro Region. Just like Fremont is a part of Seattle...and Greenlake...Renton...and Woodinville and Kirland and Redmond, et al.

Where do you draw the line, then? I'd say Tacoma is not in Seattle, to the South, and Everett, to the north, is not Seattle either.

To the West, include Bainbridge Island but not Bremerton. Going East, North Bend is just barely in the Seattle area, but Snoqualmie Pass is surely out of range.

Feel free to argue these arbitrary boundaries with me.

The fact that Bellevue has its own skyscrapers just adds to the coolness and character of this burgeoning Seattle town.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bellevue Blogs - Gregg's BlogCycle

Looking around for other friendly, neighborhood Bellevue blogs and found well-regarded Bellevue wrench Greggs Cycles started a blog of their own. There's some good stuff in there but it's not updated enough. At this point, looks to be a monthly.

Still, check out the useful Your Bike Doesn't Have to Hurt You. This is great info for bike enthusiasts who wonder why their necks, wrists, palms and butt bones hurt so much.

I like how they've divided up the pain into 1. Physical, 2. Good Pain and 3. Mechanical Pain. Mechanical Pain - the easiest pain to manage - is further subdivided into 1. Fit, 2. Form, and 3. Prior Injury. Obviously Fit and Form are the simplest to fix within in the Mechanical Pain uber-category. And these are the areas a competant local shop, like Gregg's, comes in most handy for a visit. :)

This kind of useful-to-anyone article is a superb example of how a locals-oriented blog can really help people. I do like their other information, but a lot of it is for gear geeks who appreciate the newest Shimano rear specific 140mm disc rotors. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I also enjoyed the So, You Want To Race blog - great, again, for those casual cyclists who find they are stronger and faster than they thought they could be, and are curious to test their limits. Several "starter races" are recommended, with registration links. Nice job, Greggs' guys.

More on Greggs:
Check out the History of Greggs Cycles, on their website. The Greggs Cycles website itself is a bit dodgy; could stand a fresh redesign. Easy nav, but clunky on the eyes.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bellevue Public Spaces - Crossroads Mall

If you appreciate public spaces, as I do, this interesting New Statesman article ties the Bellevue Crossroads Mall with such upscale public arenas enjoyed in Rome, Lyons and Barcelona. The Crossroads Mall, doubling as gathering place, extended communal livingroom, Mexican-style Zocolo? Well, in a word, yes.

My husband literally lived at Crossroads when he first moved here. At least, he used the mall as living space, business office and dining room.

He slept in his car nearby, rolled out of bed and grabbed a cuppa at Starbucks. He'd join the newstand crowd and read the papers, then take his laptop to the mall's own Public Library outlet for the free WIFI. He'd work work work, then stroll the food court and eat.

It's a surprisingly good place to grab some chow. Growing up in the 80's I know all about mallish food courts. As the clever teen movie, "Mean Girls" observes, food courts are like watering holes in the Serengi, where young animals come to display and strut their courtship rituals.

This food court is actually worth your dime, your time. The ethnically-oriented fooderies are locally-owned and the result is real food, not plastic-tasting microwave reheats. I approve. Nice, multi-generational and tolerant ambience.

I also personally recommend the Thai food cashew-chicken with salad and the huge Italian cheese calzones.

Back to Dan: after food-foraging, he could join the chess players on either the small tables or the giant floor set, or do a bit of shopping for basic supplies, and then settle in for more computer work. In the evenings, he'd either read in the bookstore or stroll into the movie theater. Free, live shows often entertained appreciative local crowds in the central mall area. What's NOT to like?

My cynical self initially derided the place as just another enclosed, aging mall. Cripes, it's only one level high - how could it compete with Downtown Bellevue's ritzy shopping experience? But a newly emerging, more hopeful and tender self agrees this "mall" is really just a heck of a nice place to hang out with other humans. Other humans also responding to the primal urge to "hang around". To congregate. Mingle. To even relax a bit.

The author of the New Stateman article admits he'd rather be in Barcelona, frankly, or even at Seattle's own Pike Place Market. But, he adds, "so would many people who live in Crossroads. But the fact is they live in Bellevue, and it's a great thing that they have a mall where they can run errands, meet their neighbours and have some fun."

More on the Crossroads Bellevue Mall at their Website.

Friday, April 14, 2006

SAD and Belle Arts - life under tarps

I am starting to settle in to Bellevue a bit. The husband has already noticed I feel better. I need to get a light box to deal with this SAD business, and a dawn simulator (or maybe a dawn-simulating blanket)- it's just so damned dark under this tarped Belle Arts apartment building.

You know how disorienting a windowless cruise ship cabin is? It's like that here, but for a MONTH already. Very dark, and there's nothing I can do about it. Our real one bedroom apartment at 989 Elements won't be ready for business until some time in May (they are saying May 6th; maybe earlier, we'll see).

At least I picked up some pretty curtains to hide the ugly tarping. It's a rich chocolate brown, crushed silky material, from Bed, Bath and Beyond, at the Crossroads Mall.

I also bought a ton of lights and keep them all on. Even the bathroom light. "Do we have to have so many lights on?", Dan asks.

Well, in a word, yes. Seattle is gloomy enough without having to live in a cave.

The curtains and excess of lights keep me from feeling re-pissed-off every time I see our one window to the world, all covered up. The entire Belle Arts midrise sweats under this white, white blankness. It's just a waiting they take the tarp off first, do I lose my mind, or just limp along wondering which comes first?

SAD in Seattle - Fabric Lights

I am not sure if having fabric automatically light up in response to environmental changes will help me with my battle against Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the interest of science and my own well-being, I'm willing to try it.

An innovative European company developed a technique, which, according to Wired Magazine, features "light display[s] of floral designs whose patterns and movement are animated by changes in barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind speed". Sounds like a study in Chaos/Complexity iteration for the home environment!

Heading to the company's own website, I thought of those glowing stars I used to stick on my bedroom ceiling. The lighted swirls look like photo-reactive phosphorus cells simply embedded in textiles, but what do I know? Rachel Wingfield and Mathias Gmachl of Loop.pH present their gracefully looped techniques as new art forms; you can see their admittedly lovely designs in person at Amsterdam's agressively innovative, think-tankoid Droog Design Gallery.

Loop.pH's stated aim is, "to provide a more intuitive understanding of our natural environment, from day-night cycles to power consumption."

Can this help sufferers of SAD? Maybe. They can arrange for blankets, pillows and curtains to emit gradually stronger rays of blue light, like a unique sort of dawn-simulator. The bedding is created with SAD-sufferers in mind, concludes in their interview with London co-developer Rachel Wingfield.

Loop.pH's "Light Sleeper" is very pretty, albeit surprisingly icy in tone. I suspect I'd wake wondering why the heck I slept in an ice cave, but it would probably help combat the effects of SAD, after all.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

More on Cottonelle Toilet Paper

I wish this product had some recycled paper content in it, but according to the Cottonelle Ripples Website FAQ, it's made entirely of virgin wood fibers. Maybe we can ask Cottonelle nicely to reconsider this. I did try to email them about it, but found that the link was broken.

Oh, well. You do get 12 Puppy Points with the purchase. Anyone ever use Puppy Points? Buy a puppy towel? Wouldn't it be better to put the money towards the Humane Society or something more socially responsible?

Poking around their website a bit more I see there is a chance to do some good for the world via buying from Cottonelle. You have to sign up for their Save For College program, but at least it's something, a 5%-towards-education-thing.

Why am I going on about Cottonelle toilet paper? Their triple ply "Ripples" paper rolls work out better in my small Bellevue studio than any other paper I've found. Tell me if you've found something else that's good, especially if it has any recycled paper content.

Studio Apartment Living - buying toilet paper

Living in a studio apartment - our sublet here at Belle Arts is all of 414 square feet - we have to economize on storage. One little thing I've discovered is that Cottonelle Triple layer toilet paper is a great compromise between storing lots of toilet paper, and having to run out to the store.

My old routine was to buy large, economy amounts of TP when they go on sale. You know, those packs of 20, 40, and even 80 rolls at Costco or something. I just don't have the room for that any more.

So my next plan was buying those tightly packed Scott Tissue single-ply rolls and only buying a few extras to store. Those suckers last forever, but my husband doesn't like wiping his rear with what he calls scratchy paper. He likes the quilted stuff.

So enter Cottonelle triple layer. It cost me $6.99 at the Factoria Mall Target store.

It's thick, which Dan likes, and dense enough to last and last (which I like). It's not quilted; it's "rippled". Okay, so same thing, really. They call it their longest-lasting roll. I have to remember to use less of it, since three layers is far more absorbant than I am used to from my old scratchy-butt Scott single ply.

My 8 pack is, thus far, lasting as long as a typical 24 pack. I'm quite pleased with my cleverness.

The upshot - less waste (less paper needed per use), less toilet paper rolls to find reuses for, cheaper price than a 24 pack for the same amount of rear-time, and - HUGELY important - takes up less space in my tiny Bellevue studio.

Is this a responsible product? I can say they are trying, but could stand to do better as a company. Here are my expanded thoughts about Cottonelle.

Geek Like Me

Well, it's official. I have a high nerd rating. I know that, although I prefer to call myself a geek according to Dan's Rules of Geekdom. My husband had an 86%, but he is better at math. I'm the artist one in the family. And while I did vote for the Vulcan Ears on the girl, I do suspect she is actually wearing Elvish tips. What, you say? Take your own darn test.

Anyway, here is my score and your chance to see how you rank:

I am nerdier than 83% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Bellevue Insider - Life of a MicroSoft Geek

Dan Florio is posting all kinds of life secrets on professional geek work in the high-tech galaxy called Seattle's Eastside.

Here's his blog, titled PolyGeek, and that link goes to his interesting Life of a Geek section. It documents his rise from living in his car while temping as a Capitol Hill Flash Developer, to being hired by the "Evil Empire" (as they call Microsoft here). He's now an X-Box Flash Prototyper. Sounds cool? I think it is. For a gamer it's a dream. And loving his job keeps him - my husband - more agreeable to live with.

If you know anything about Flash design and development, I can somewhat biasedly but also deservedly say, this is a guy to watch.

More on Dan Florio?

Washington Square Updates, Multi-Use and Frank Lloyd Wright

Curious about the new multi-use condominiums going up at Washington Square? Here is a useful tidbit from a local real estate blog:

New Bellevue Condo Complex Previewed [Asset Realty Group, Feb 24 2006]

I love multi-use planning and rezoning initiatives. I don't want to use my car and I like walking everywhere when I need something. According to this blog's resources, Washington Square will have five 20-story multi-use residential highrises.

Well, that explains the huge pit in the ground and the giganto-cranes scoring the skyline.

There will be, according to the blog's sources, "a collection of neighborhood-oriented retail shops and restaurants, a upscale “European-style'’ Zupan’s Market grocery store, an amenities center that includes community meeting rooms and a fitness center, pedestrian walkways, landscaped terrace gardens, underground parking...", yadda yadda yadda. Sounds great to me.

As a Frank Lloyd Wright/Arcosanti devotee, I believe a city should have concentrated use - go high! Go deep! Go long! :-) Pack it in; do it with clean lines and attention to detail, lots of texture and plants and art and fountains. Then leave the greenspaces green, and gradually dispense with the presence of PEOPLE and let wilderness reign. Amen.

Seattle's Educated Population Influx

The Seattle Times just published this interesting article about the impact of educated people moving into the Seattle/Bellevue/Puget Sound metro:

Seattle ranks as nation's best-educated big city

The article states, "Educated Americans are gravitating to the country's big cities, chasing jobs and culture and driving up home prices." It's perfectly true. The cost of living here is exceptionally high. Not as bad as NYC, Aspen or San Fran, but more than LA, DC, Boulder or Atlanta, for example.

I do feel you get what you pay for, here: the Seattle and Bellevue Downtowns are beautiful. There are open spaces and manicured parks everywhere. Incredible access to hiking. Fine dining, waterfront walks, lively museums, free jazz music, cafes/bookstores/wine bars/great food...the whole drill that makes city living so alluring. Bellevue is especially exciting since its growing up as a walkable city. [No, I don't work for the city. I just love it here.]

More info. The US Census page for Bellevue reports the percentage of people with at least a Bachelor's degree or higher is 54%.

I completely buy this. It's like a sense of coming home to find so many like-minded folks in this one area. Such a relief after spending the last decade and a half mostly in Arizona (no offense to that beautiful state, but it DID, as a whole, vote for Bush...).

To sum, as my husband says, "You'd have to be some kind of stupid NOT to move here. :-)"

Friday, April 07, 2006

Urban Living - the Sounds of Nature

There's a little bit of sensory deprivation between the brain and nature when you live in an urban environment. If you have a window that looks out into another bulding, or a wall, or like me you are trapped under plastic tarps and scaffolding (some kind of window renovation here at Belle Arts Apartments), then you need a bit of artificial nature to soothe the soul.

That's my excuse for spending extra money, anyway.

Start with the sounds of nature. You can buy consumer items to re-create nature's little moods and play them after work or all night long.

I went to the Bed, Bath and Beyond at Crossroads Mall. Bought a Homeomedics Nature Alarm Clock - $29.99. It plays the radio, sure, but also gives me choices of Thunder, Summer Night, Rainforest, Rain and Ocean. There's also a button for Waterfall, but everyone who has heard it agrees it's really just White Noise. Which is fine if you like that. I enjoy all the other choices tremendously. Summer Night reminds me of my childhood in Upstate New York.

We also have a nice big, slim profile fan that oscillates. There's a setting for breeze, which is odd, since the sounds that emits is really more like Wind Storm Blowing Outside in the Fields. I like it anyway - there's a cozy feeling to it, plus you get the sensation of an actual breeze (it IS a fan, after all).

Couple the Breeze sound with the clock's rain and you have a the opportunity for a real cozy evening. I would even go so far as to buy a Negative Ion Machine to create that clean, rainstorm feeling. Then turn off the Breeze and the rain and play Summer Night with it' cricket noises and drift to sleep. Ahhhh.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Urban Living - Mini vs Full-size Washer and Dryer

One thing I've discovered from living in the city is that many apartments make great use of small spaces. I always had a full-size washer and dryer. Now, while temporarily in this studio apartment sublet, we have a stacking washer and dryer. And I LOVE it.

It's so much more appropriate to an urban lifestyle. For one, we don't have the room for a lot of clothes, so I have to do more frequent, smaller washes. This is both water and energy wasting in a large washer/dryer set. And if I decide to wait until I have enough clothes for a full load, then I don't have enough clothes left in my wardrobe to wear!

Also along these lines, I don't have the room for a full-size laundry basket anywhere - it simply takes up too much space. I can handle storing a mini-basket for my mini-loads. I just use a 2.5 gallon Readi-Tote from Rite Aid (it was $2.99).

Lastly, and very nicely, is that the dryer is on top of the washer. I never realized how convenient that would be. I don't have to hurt my back bending over, and it's actually far, far easier to actually get the wet stuff into the dryer without dropping anything.

Anyway, it was amazing to realize I prefer a smaller, stacking W/D to the full-size set. I don't have children nor huge laundry loads, and this is the perfect set of conservation-friendly appliances for my husband and myself.

Now I need a mini-dishwasher to wash our four forks every few days... :)

Here is a link to a related topic thread on my Living Simply website at BellaOnline: Have Fun Doing your Laundry.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Clothes for Living in the Rain

I've had to change my attire since moving to Washington. After all, I've spent my entire adult life in Arizona and California. So I am used to open toed shoes and sunglasses and lots of hats and those long yoga pants.

Here in Bellevue, I need closed toed shoes, which I hate. I feel like they trap my feet. And I had to Goodwill-ize all my long yoga pants, since they drag on the ground. That was fine in dry San Diego and arid Arizona. Here the pant bottoms just get muddy, and the capillary action draws the moisture right up my pant leg. Ick.

Back at the Bellevue Goodwill, I found some decent closed toed shoes that I don't hate. And my cargo pants stop at a decent length above my shoes.

It's all about learning to adapt. I still carry my sunglasses around everywhere (really don't need them here, not until summer, I bet). My sun hat lives in my car, ready for imprompu hikes and walks. And now there's an umbrella living in the car - a new creature for me. I keep forgetting to actually USE it.

Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't rain here. Honestly, a good, hard rain is rare. But it does seem to mist and drizzle for weeks on end.

Even so, it's incredibly beautiful here. Once I completely adapt to the Pacific Northwest, I think I won't want to be anywhere else.

Bellevue and the Flowering Trees of Spring

It seems that the last two weeks in March are the peak fruit tree flowering time. Looking around today, the blooms are sadly falling and tiny, pretty green leaves are replacing those once-uproarious bursts of color. The princess pinks of cherry tree and the fluffy clouds of dogwoods.

The yellow forsythias are waaay over - those seemed to start in early February, peaking in early March. I don't see any more crocuses but the daffoldils are bravely standing tall in road medians. All decidious trees are veiled in barest green. I guess spring is really coming to Downtown Bellevue.

Bellevue Stop Lights

Bellevue has the longest stop lights in the world. Or at at least in the US; I can't account for the world. These are lights that you can actually take the time to read something at. Or apply makeup. Or use a pad and pen to make lists and check things off - great for those errand-running days.

Note I am not saying to actually DO these things - you really should pay attention to traffic when you are behind the wheel. Plus, I've noticed that if I do start reading, sometimes I don't notice when the light turns green and I hold everyone else up - an unforgivable sin.

So if I SHOULDN'T be reading, then these lights give me the chance to practice Zen Driving. Slowing down the racing pace of my thoughts. Sometimes it actually works. :-)

I'll try to make a note of which lights seem to take the longest and add those posts here.