Parking garage clearance

Across street from my apartment is the Pacific Science Center. From my apartment I can clearly see the entrance to their parking garage including the Clearance 6’6″ boom hanging from the chains — one presumes — at 6’6″ above the entrance.1

After watching numerous vehicles enter the garage over the past 6 months, I’ve decided these booms are usability failures. For those of you who drive sedans or other small vehicles, as I do, you probably haven’t ever stopped to think about these things. Really – what small car isn’t going to fit into a modern parking structure? It’s the SUVs that are the source of all the amusement. Those of you who’ve ever driven an SUV (either because you own one, driven a family member’s or been given one as a rental car) let me ask you: do you have any idea how tall the beast is? Yeah, didn’t think so, I sure don’t.

It usually goes something like this: someone pulls up in a large vehicle, sees the sign from the street and pauses. You can almost hear the wheels turning and them going “crap, how tall is my SUV?” and then without fail, they pull forward and it’s clear that it isn’t because they know how tall it is. Those that have said “fuck it” pull forward without hesitation under the boom. Some of them make it and some of them don’t.

Those that have doubts pull slowly forward, roll down their window, and crane their necks to see if their vehicle will make it under. Most of the cars with a passenger have the passenger get out and see if they make it under or not. At this point some realize they can’t get in and try to negotiate with the cars behind them (that are invariably waiting to get into the garage themselves) to back up and let them out. Some think “it’s only scraping a little bit, I’ll risk it” and pull forward with the boom dragging across the top of their vehicle. The most amusing ones are those that have a foot or more of clearance.

And really, lets step back and evaluate the usability nightmare of this situation. Whose idea was it to wait until the entrance bottleneck to tell people if they will or won’t be able to make it into the garage, and doing so with a gauge that only a person who isn’t driving can clearly see? At a minimum, they should have an IR sensor at the desired height with a visual indicator at driver level letting them know if they’ll make it or not. Ideally this would be at a point before they’re creating a bottleneck at the entrance, but that’s clearly not possible given the limited space available at the Pacific Science Center.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to chuckle heartily at the show for which I have a front-row seat.

1 Assuming that it really is at 6’6″. I do wonder how much variability there is between what is written on the boom, the height that the boom is hanging at, and how accurate it is given that it’s hanging what appears to be level above an uneven surface.

Seattle Visitor’s Guide

Knowing there are more folks coming up to visit, I decided it was worth throwing a list together of some cool things to see. Most importantly a list of all the museums and theatres to see what’s showing when someone comes up! I expect to add more things to this list as I find them (either myself or via replies to this entry :)

Seattle attractions or fun oddities:

Seattle theatres:

Seattle museums:

Seattle parks:

Area attractions:

Dearth of favorite restaurants

Seattle has some great eating establishments, but so very few of my favorites. I was so nostaglic for them this morning that I mapped out how far some of them were away.

  • Amy’s Ice Cream – 2118 miles (Austin, TX)
  • Chipotle – 1 mile (Seattle, WA)
  • Chuy’s – 2150 miles (Dallas, TX)
  • Freebirds – 1170 miles (Orange, CA)
  • Rudy’s “Country Store” BBQ – 1400 miles (Colorado Springs, CO)
  • Sonic – 26 miles (Tacoma, WA)
  • Schlotzsky’s – 240 miles (Veradale, WA)
  • Taco Cabana – >1000 miles (their locator errored out!)
  • Z-Tejas – 11 miles (Bellevue, WA)

but most importantly:

  • My Granny’s kitchen – 1719 miles (Littlefield, TX)

I see a road-trip to Tacoma in my near future. I’m in dire need of a Route 44 Cherry Coke, easy ice.

I hate clothes

Today I’m wearing jeans I purchased a couple of weeks ago. When I tried them on they fit great. They even fit great the first time after I washed them. Today? They’re too big in the waist and I know I haven’t lost weight or my hips suddenly shrunk.

About a month ago I purchased some new T-shirts from Macy’s. The smalls fit perfectly (small is the new medium after all) and the mediums looked way too baggy. Now that they’ve been washed, the smalls are just a smidge too small to wear to work.

I hate clothes.

Thinking = crappy workouts

I have the most “I look cute” moments on days I have a good morning workout. I have a good workout on days that I don’t think too much during the workout. Today I’m destined to have negative “I look cute” moments. Apparently my mind was so engaged in other things that one of the staff asked “Are you OK? You look like you’re thinking too much.” Ouch.

Going carless again?

I use my car, on average, once a week on Saturdays to drive out to Redmond to join friends for running out at Marymoore Park. For that luxury I pay about $102.50, not including gas. Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole idea of having a car.

The monthly expenses break down like this:
$86 – insurance
$130 – parking
$194 – car payment
total: $410

I can get around most anywhere I need to go with the bus pass my employer provides at no cost to me — including out to Redmond. And for those times when I do need a car, there are several ZipCars just around the corner from my apartment. Even using one for a whole day is just $71.

And if I sold the car before I register it with the state, that’d be even fewer pennies out of my pocket. (Yes, I’m suppose to have registered it already. I finally got it emissions tested last week so I’m one step closer.) And given my car gets between 40 and 50 mpg, it’d probably sell quite decently with today’s gas prices.

It all comes down to how much I’m willing to pay for convenience. Right now it looks like at least $102.50/week.

Speeling spelling appalling

I joke that I almost failed 4th grade because I can’t spell. Only half of that sentence is true however, and it isn’t the failing 4th grade part.

I have a fairly decent vocabulary due likely to my voracious reading habits as a teenager. My spelling abilities never kept up however and over the past 10 years I’ve become totally reliant on spell check. This isn’t a problem in most all of my written communication as most everything I do these days is on the computer. Worst-case I have a word that even spell check won’t recognize, Google comes to the rescue and figures out which word I’m aiming for with the jumble of characters I’ve thrown together.

Recently, however, I’ve started texting more and there are times that the iPhone isn’t able to figure out what I meant. (And I’m a full-sentence texter, including capitalization and punctuation – no ‘how r u’. Ever.) Sometimes I think I’ve even unintentionally trained it with my misspelled words which pisses me off to no end. I find it sad and frustrating that I’ve become so dependent upon electronic tools to be able to effectively communicate in the manner I wish.

So with that, it appears that roughly 24 years after the 4th grade I may really have to learn how to spell words like the following without the help of spellcheck:

  • fiery (not firey!?)
  • serendipitous (not serindipitous)
  • definitely (not definately and certainly not defiantly)
  • fortuitous (not fortuitious)
  • nonexistent  (not nonexistant)
  • witty (not whitty, this one was perhaps the saddest of all)

And those are just the ones I’ve encountered in the past 48 hours.

Supplement validation

Sometimes I feel like a druggie given how many pills I take in the morning and night. Most of them are for my cholesterol (fish oil, flax seed oil, and niacin) although I’ve been taking vitamin D since moving to Seattle.

I’ve taken the supplements mentioned because they’ve either been recommended by my doctor or I’ve read enough evidence of their effectiveness to warrant giving them a shot. My cholesterol levels have been under control since I started the omega 3 / omega 6 / vitamin B3 trifecta so I have some personal evidence to back it up.

Information is Beautiful has a great interactive infographic ranking common supplements based on the existing scientific evidence. All of mine rank above their ‘worth it’ line – what about yours?

Amazon MP3 Downloader for Fedora 14? Nah, go clamz

I remember futzing for hours a year ago trying to get the Amazon MP3 Downloader (amazonmp3) working on my Fedora 12 (or 13?) instance. I eventually got it working but it’s a pain because the Fedora 11 binary Amazon provides requires a libboost version that isn’t provided with modern Fedora releases.

Now, however, there’s an opensource implementation: clamz. It’s available in most repositories (Fedora 14 for instance). Opening an .amz file will start clamz and download the music to $HOMEDIR/Music by default (you can customize this and more by editing $HOMEDIR/.clamz/config). In other words: it just works.