Quote of the Moment

"It's never wrong to hope, Byx," said my mother. "Unless the truth says otherwise."
- from Endling #1: The Last, by Katherine Applegate

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Big Wheel Keep On Turnin'...

We spent today (or a few hours of it, at any rate) playing tourists aboard the Queen of Seattle, a paddleboat on Lake Union.  Things got off to a bit of a rough start; the website failed to mention that construction had closed off most of the parking, and construction fences forced a further massive walking detour.  Then a local fluff-news crew stopped by, evidently with little warning, to do a "short" segment on the ship that ended up delaying departure for nearly half an hour (no compensation for the lost time for those of us standing around waiting to board.) Other than that, for the cost, it wasn't that bad, though I get the impression that the crew is still getting the hang of the whole "old-timey tourist boat and banter" part of things.  In addition to the narrated tour of the waterways, we were treated to the occasional steam calliope concert (with a steam calliope that could use a little work, as the notes would randomly not play... that, and the player was used to a piano keyboard and not the calliope controls, making for oft-mangled tunes.) On the way back to dock, they had a little cabaret show, which was just one gal singing Gold Rush era tunes and a guy playing the slightly-out-of-tune saloon piano while providing the aforementioned unpolished banter. The lady had a nice voice, at least...

Afterwards, we hit lunch and wound up visiting a little place we've been driving by forever but never managed to stop in at: Barone Gardens, whose cruddy website doesn't do justice to the zillions of statuary items, birdbaths, and fountains on site.  They're actually reasonably priced, too; not exactly bargain-basement, but not priced through the roof, either.

I'd post more pictures, of the paddleboat trip and the statuary, but my computer has decided to pitch a minor fit today: every time I try to play with graphics from the file folder where I stored these photos, the window locks up for upwards of a minute.  I've got a disc-check scheduled for my next bootup; since I just tested with another photo folder with no lockups, I'm hopeful it's just a bad sector. (I just copied the folder to a different part of My Pictures, and it works just fine there, too.) I know I'm pushing my luck insofar as age corrupting hard drives with this machine, but I'm really not in a fit financial state to consider a replacement at this point.

EDIT - Okay, got the pictures relocated to a less snarky folder, so I'll try posting some links.

Shipboard Singer
One of the costumed staff aboard the Queen of Seattle.

Voyeur on Houseboat
Hey, you don't see me taking pictures of everyone who floats by my house in an authentic steam-powered paddlewheel, do you?

Houseboat, or Floating Mansion?  You Decide...
There was quite a range of styles in the houseboat neighborhoods we paddlewheeled past, depending on when they were built and how much money people were willing to shell out. According to our tour guides, some modern houseboats even have basements with underwater windows.

Gasworks Park with Duck
A former power plant converted into a "safe" park. (How safe is it? If you picnic there and drop anything, it's not advised to pick it up...) In front is one of the amphibious vehicles from the "Ride the Ducks" Seattle tour.

So Much for the Extinction Theory...
An unfinished topiary project from the Jurassic era.

TARDIS sighting
I can only assume that, in the original timeline, the drawbridge failed to open and a major disaster ensued. (Okay, I know the scale's way off... still looks like the blue box to me...)

Mama Tug and Babies
Ah, ain't that cute?

Arc to Arcturus
In memory of Jack "Star Gazer" Horkheimer, as he speeds on to Spica.

The aforementioned Big Wheel, actually turning
Yep, that there's a paddlewheel...

The Calliope Whistles
After the cabaret show started and the little kids left the top deck, the staff dropped the "Authorized Personel Only" cable and let those adults remaining get a closer look at the steam-powered calliope. The buckets are for runoff/drainage.

Not the most dynamic show, but with a little polish it'll be more impressive, I expect.

Sail the Rainbow
The Center for Wooden Boats must run some sort of sailing day camp or school in the summers.  Earlier, they had kids out kayaking, too.

Barone Garden Decor: Catfish, Eagle, and Gargoyle Fountain
Because it was a darned cool place to wander through, even without a yard to decorate.  Or a budget to spend on said decoration.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Well, that went faster than I thought...

I just updated Brightdreamer Books, with the new ratings system and a new book list page that organizes reviews by genre. Turns out upgrading the ratings went quite a bit quicker than I anticipated, so I went ahead and tackled the genre-list project. That went faster than I thought it would, too. (My classifications may make little to no sense for most people, but they were the way I had them organized in my mind, if not on my shelf.)

Next up, with any luck, some more enhancements for the September update. I figure I ought to do something special, at least... Brightdreamer Books - at least, the new and improved incarnation of it - turns one year old on September 8.

Talk about things going faster than I thought...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Too True...

Courtesy of as SciFi Wire (sorry... now renamed SyFy Blastr, in keeping the the general degradation of the network's target  IQ)... Well, actually, they got from another site, but the ads there are even more obnoxious than the ones on SyFy.

The Lifespan of a TV Show

Enjoy... or cringe in sympathy as you remember favorite series of years past as they trudged along the arc of death.

Oh - and just so you don't leave on a totally depressed note:

Technovelgy, a site that shows how sci-fi-predicted gadgetry has become reality.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Web of Eternity

Offline, I just finished the Great Cross-Linking Project for Brightdreamer Books, a project I started in April.  This will be shown to the world (or rather the one or two people who stumble across the place) in the August update, but it has been such a monumentally time-consuming task that I had to note when I finished.

This is good news.

I also decided I needed to change how I reviewed books, namely adding a half-star for those books that fall right on the line between one rating and the next.

This is bad news.

It will require retrofitting over 600 pages and giving a quick re-scan to over 680 reviews to see where the half-star might apply.  It will be a pain in the tail to get done, but I know I'll be eternally bugged if I don't do it.  The site is also screaming for new graphics and a nicer layout.  I ought to consider listing books by genre as well as by author, too, one of these days.

Oh, yeah... I also wanted to try promoting the danged place in some way.  And I haven't even looked at Skyhaven in far, far too long...

Ah, well... I suppose the only finished website is a dead website.

Back at it...

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Red Skies at Night

Today, the skies seemed hazy, in contrast with the area weather forecasts.

On the way to the weekly family gathering, I noticed an unusual amount of dust on my car.

As the day went on, the light took on an odd, orange tone, as if filtered through a slice of agate... a tone which shifted toward an unsettling reddish hue.

Tonight, I saw perhaps the strangest sunset I have ever seen in my life, something I can't recall witnessing outside of a sci-fi film set on planets far, far away.

Finally, it clicked. Wildfires east of the mountains have kicked up enough ash to dust my car and color the skies. (Actually, the news claims it was the fires in British Columbia behind it.)

Still creepy as heck, though...

(Yeah, this was mostly an excuse to post an I'm-not-dead-my-life's-just-dull update. I got new glasses which may or may not need realigning - still trying to figure out if it's me or the lenses - and I hit ten posts in a month over on Brightdreamer's Book Reviews, but nothing else has leapt out as postworthy.)