Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mother Flippin Rhymenoscerous

A few weeks ago I wrote about the awesome viral campaign Flight of the Conchords -- my favorite band and TV show -- are running. They're asking fans to create videos of themselves lip synching to the Conchords song, Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros. Of course we had to create a MatassaLosi version. Here it is, starring Gina and Franny.

video

Thursday, December 25, 2008

No Eggs, No Coke



Went shopping yesterday to buy eggs so we could have breakfast for dinner on Christmas Eve. But lo, they were out -- out of eggs, out of Coke -- the basic staples. Not only that, but the snow meant that a number of our gifts didn't arrive, so we gave each other coupons!

Nicolosi Kid Photos

My sister Renee got an awesome photo scanner for xmas, and scanned in these old negatives of a trip we took to Britain when we were kids, given to her a few years ago by my Great Uncle John.




To see the version with bigger pix, go here.

Here's some more Nicolosi kid pictures, from the Fabled Italy Days.




To see the version with bigger pix, go here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Internet Overtakes Newspapers As News Source


Amazing chart from a Pew study published yesterday: For the first time since Pew started asking, the number of people who say the Internet is their main source for national and international news is larger than the number of people who say the newspaper is their main source.

I've been thinking lately how funny it seems that most newspapers have 90 percent of their staff pointed at paper tasks, and maybe 10 percent pointed mainly at the web. It really feels old school to me right now that that formula hasn't been flipped yet. I'm guessing in the next five years we're going to see more news staffs start to designate the bulk of their people "online-only" and start to have 10 percent of their people working to repurpose what's been done on the web and put it together in a tidy package for the paper.

Kind of boring Christmas Eve ruminations, I guess. The fun never ends!

In other news, waiting for Domino's pizza to deliver our xmas eve dinner. Yum.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why I don't drive in the snow

I telecommuted to work Thursday and Friday, and here's why:



I saw this video last year, and man, has it ever stuck with me. Snow driving is crazy! Even when you think it's going to be normal, because the roads are cleared and blah blah, what have you, you never know when -- blammo -- you're going to be the one hitting that weird patch and -- slammo -- you're driving like one of these guys. I've only tried driving in the snow twice, and both times had horrible close calls. Scary yo. Not. Gonna. Do it.

It's been hard to run a rapidly moving story from home though, so I'm going to try to get into work on the bus tomorrow. More later.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Humor. It's all relative.

One of the fun aspects of surfing the health-care industry is switching to a new insurer when the old work-based health insurance runs out. That's especially true when the new individual health plan includes a drug "benefit" that uses the word as loosely as my new provider, Group Health Cooperative, does.

I can't say I was surprised at the expense today when, credit card in hand, I ventured out onto the snowy roads to pick up my monthly round of chemotherapy. I had researched all this a month ago before I switched insurers. Even laid it out in a spreadsheet to suss the damage. And reconfirmed it on the phone earlier this week. But still, when they say the words, the copayment of $865 kinda bites. Catches you up short.

At the Group Health pharmacy in Burien it took three stops at three adjacent windows to complete the transaction. At Window 1, I gave the grim old clerk my ID number and she tapped her keyboard. "OK," she said, "I see this is a new order. Did they tell you about the copyament on this?" She had a sick, worried look on her face.

"Yes," I said. "They said it would be 20 bucks."

To me this is hilarious, just to watch the lady's face contort as she prepares to break the news about the actual price.

"Well, no," she said, wincing. "I'm afraid it's a bit more. It's going to be, um, eight hundred sixty-four dollars and ninety cents."

Yeah, I know, I said, I'm just kidding around. Haha. But she wasn't amused. She glared at me and told me to sit down and wait for my name to be called, since the pharmacist would want to discuss my prescription with me.

Ten minutes later someone called me to the next window and the young woman, all business, asked if my doctor had explained to me the procedure for taking the chemo. (It's a ballet of timing, waiting a certain period after eating, popping some nausea drugs at another certain time, downing the chemo and then hoping you can get to sleep before ralphing. So far, most months, I've been pretty lucky on that count.)

Oh sure, I said, I've been taking this for a year and a half (actually longer). No sweat.

The druggist looked annoyed, and groused a bit about preparing all the explanatory material for nothing. To give her something to do, I offered that although I was experienced with the chemo it was my first time paying this much for it, so I could maybe use a little counseling on that score. Always thinking of others, that's me.

"I'm sorry, honey, I wish I could help," she said. She directed me to Window 3, next door, to pay my bill.

When yet another woman appeared to ring me up she did an actual double-take at the invoice printout. "Wow, I can go home early today," she said brightly. "I think I've met my sales quota for the day."

Now this, to me, is not funny. More like rubbing it in. Some people have no sense of humor.

Gamely, I asked her how my total compared with other pharmacy sales. She did a little whistle through her teeth. Sometimes at the end of the year people on Medicare will exhaust their benefits and have to pay as much as $200 or $250 for their medication, she said.

My chemo, I was given to understand, was a record in her experience.

So, Merry Christmas, Group Health Pharmacy. And bah, humbug, with an extra lump of coal, to your stupid copayments.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jingle Bell Run!


About a block into this morning's Jingle Bell Run through downtown Seattle, on a slight incline up Fifth Avenue, I pulled out a stock M&M joke: "Who put this giant hill here?"

Franny, with the hubris of youth: "Dad, it's barely even a hill!"

That was the last time I saw her. She bounced off up ahead of me and disappeared into the sea of Santas, elves, penguins, gift boxes and other cleverly costumed runners.

No shock there. Last weekend, Fran joined Michelle and me for a one-mile practice run around our neighborhood -- or, really, she didn't join us, she just sprinted through the loop and waited for us back at the house. So this morning, before we started, I asked her if she was going to run with me or go fast and leave me in the dust.

"I'm not going to go fast," she said, "but I'll probably still leave you in the dust." Ho ho ho. Can you put a kid on the naughty list for telling the truth?

With the timing of a practical joker or old St. Nick himself, this year's Jingle Bell Run happened to coincide with what the Seattle Times might call "a significant weather event" -- snow, ice and, they tell us, the coldest temperatures forecast around here since 1990.


Truth is, the ultra-frigid temps haven't materialized yet, but Franny and I did wake up to several inches of snow and slick sidewalks and roads. We'd already paid our entry fee for the 5k run -- that's 3.1 miles to you and me -- and we weren't about to pass on the "free" long sleeve t-shirt. We scraped the snow off the car and headed into town. Gina and Michelle had contemplated joining us but thought better of it and stayed tucked snugly in their beds.

The Jingle Bell Run is a great event, one Michelle and I have run together a couple of times. Except for a few dedicated racers who get their own starting gun 10 minutes before everyone else, the focus is on fun, costumes and the spirit of the season, not on running. They hand out little jingle bells that everyone ties to their shoes, so the run lives up to its name. When the course enters a tunnel, runners spontaneously break into a group singalong, "... jingle all the way ..."

Now in its 24th year, the event is a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation, which expected to collect a quarter of a million dollars today. Runners go off in three groups. The serious competitors wear red number bibs and start first, followed by the vast throng of green-bib joggers like us, and then the white-bibbed walkers and baby strollers.

Without the pressure of keeping up with Franny, I slowed down, dropped back and stopped several times to walk or take pictures. Between the early hour, the icy patches, the crowd, the years, the gut and last night's gin (a key part of my training regimen), I probably only ran half the course. It was cold, but dressed in multiple layers I got warm fast, even at my slow pace.

At one point the course turns and doubles back on the same stretch of closed-down freeway express lanes, so I thought I might see Fran coming back the other way -- especially when I spotted a running gift box that started the race right next to us. But no. She was too fast and long gone by the time my straggler group hit the turnaround.

In fact I looked up eventually to see a bunch of white bibs around me -- the walkers! who started after we joggers! -- and decided I needed to kick it back into gear. I finished strong, by which I mean I jogged the last block or so to the finish line.

Afterward, panting and sweaty, I found Franny back at our meeting place, downstairs at Westlake Center. She was fully rested and told me excitedly about her adventure -- only stopped briefly once or twice, found herself competing with a little group around her -- and we drove home to an awesome "victory breakfast" of eggs, bacon and blueberry pancakes, by Michelle and Gina.

Very fun day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A visit to the rainforest




For a slideshow with larger images go here.

There's audio with this one, so lissen to it!

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Job is So Awesome Sometimes

Today I spent 20 minutes or so judging seattlepi.com's Holiday Pet Photo Contest. Here's one of my favorite pet photos ever, of a golden retriever names Stelah:



Come on, is that AWESOME or what. Can you say "new desktop art?"

See the rest of the awesomeness at myseattlepets.com.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The coolest viral thing I have ever seen

O my god, This is the most incredible piece of viral marketing I have seen in 28 years -- no wait -- make that my whole life!



Wow. Flight of the Conchords, my favorite band and TV show, is inviting fans to lip synch to their song, Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros. They'll edit them together to make a "megamix" fan piece, and air the best of on HBO Jan. 18th. They're calling it the Lip Dub Video Fansterpiece. I am a fan and I approve this message! Check out the other fan vids so far here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dorky words I use now that I'm a dork Internet manager

Soon after I left newspapers for online lo these many years ago, I noticed that the online people love to use ridiculous words to talk about ordinary things.

I'm trying to remember now what word it was the marketing lady at HomePage.com was always using -- I couldn't stop rolling my eyes at her.

But now, nearly a decade later, I'm using silly words left and right. At first, I used them to make fun of people. Then, I used them ironically. Then, I'd use them and think, hey, I just used that word -- not ironically. I'm a dufus just like that marketing lady.

Now, I just use them, and hardly even notice. The transformation is complete.

I can't remember if I've posted this before -- maybe so. But tonight I was thinking again what a silly talker I've become. And so, I thought I'd slap a few of my silly words together for your pleasure today:

1. Robust. As in "We need to create a robust user experience." Wouldn't good suffice here? I don't know. My mouth keeps saying robust. This was the word that was making me realize today what a silly talker I am.

2. UI. This isn't really a word, but I use it like it is. As in "that lady has bad UI." (as in, user interface.)

3. Effort. As in "We're going to effort that photo." If you say effort, then later, when you don't end up getting the photo, you're not in as bad of trouble as you would be if you had said you were going to get it, right? I got this from the news meetings at the PI. I really hate myself when I say this one. I mostly am able to stop myself.

4. Monetize. As in "we'll never monetize that!" (make money off it. Yeah. I know.)

5. Deploy. "We'll deploy that by March." Uh, yeah. Publish. Post. What have you.

6. Iterate. "We'll launch and then iterate." Um. Modify.

7. UGC. Yeah, I said it. User generated content. Stuff the readers posted.

8. Uniques. That's what we call readers now.

9. ROI. This is my personal ROLF.

10. Optimize. 'That person isn't really optimized." (Being put to highest and best use.)

Got some dorky terms you personally use? Let's hear 'em. Janice, let's get some good lawyer terms in here. Val -- I'll go for either techie or fly boy terms -- both if you got 'em.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

West Seattle Xmas Tree Lighting

Much fun had by all at the West Seattle Christmas Tree lighting tonite, where Tracy Record and fam of West Seattle Blog did the honors. Here's a gallery of pix, with a special focus on excellent hat fashions.




For a slideshow with larger images go here.

Handy notes for SealBeachDaily denizens: Use free VoiceNotes program on IPhone to record audio. Open GarageBand on the mac, delete the default track, drag your audio file into GarageBand. Click Share, send to ITunes, save as MP3. Import into Soundslides.