I feel the earth move, under my… um… butt.

I was sitting in the living room, enjoying a wee dram of Glenmorangie, when I felt the whole house wiggle. I iChatted a friend, who lives in Olympia, which is 100 miles away from here, and asked if he felt it. He said no, so I knew it could not be a very widespread one.

The image above is from a the nearest seismograph from my house in the UW network. It is located in Trafton, just off of Jim Creek road, which is as the crow flies maybe a kilometer from my home.

I have no idea where exactly on the Richter it measured, but my guess would be in the “low fours”.

The worst nurse in the world.

My wife had some minor surgery today, and it is her fate to be married to a guy that is completely lacking in the whole “nurture” gene. I mean… I can barely take care of myself, and a neon tetra in a bowl at my office – thankfully one is a cold blooded animal requiring very little care, and the other is a fish.

Somehow I managed to not kill my kids when they were babies (but let me tell you, there were a few close calls when I was left alone with them!) I am just not really cut out to care for anything… sorry. At least not anything actually alive. I’m fine with inanimate objects. A car, a computer, a network, my right leg… all will do fine under my not so watchful eye. But a human being, and especially my wife? She’s doomed.

Thankfully, she’s pretty self-sufficient and is not so bad off. She is on pain meds, and has tasked me with monitoring her medicine intake. Now THAT is something I can do… read the labels, enter the intervals into my Treo, set the alarms, etc. The key will be whether the Treo alarms will actually wake me up in the middle of the night. I sleep through everything but earthquakes greater than 5.4 on the Richter scale. For some inexplicable reason, I’ll snooze through a 5.3 and under, but once the wave or shake hits 5.4 I am bolt-upright and ready for action. Go figure. We’ll see. Hopefully she’s back to her high-functioning self again soon.

If she were to ever become incapacitated in a major way, we’d have to make polygamy legal so I could pick up a spare wife to take care of her (because I’m too cheap to actually pay somebody to be a caretaker!)


My son, the (potential) teenage terrorist.

My son is hoping to further his study of languages by spending a semester abroad, in either a Spanish or German-speaking country next year. In order to accomplish this we tried to renew his US passport. He had one 10 years ago, when we were in the UK, but it has long ago expired. Besides, he is about 2x the size of the photo in that passport, since he was six years old when it was taken. He’d be embarrassed to travel with that photo, so we had a new one taken. His mother took him and his photo (and birth certificate, and Social Security card, etc etc) down to the post office in Everett today (a 30 minute drive) because in order to get a new US Passoprt he must appear IN PERSON, with his parent, since he is a minor. We brought along the above photo.

The fine civil servant refused to accept the photo, and sent them away.

The reasons? The background is “too blue”… and the words on his shirt.

For those of you not aware of what turns the crank of the under-18 crowd, it is a quote from this clip. I gave him the shirt for Christmas, and I think he hasn’t taken it off since. Yep. Refused a passport due to a video game cartoon T-shirt.

When my wife enquired as to why, the outstanding, ever-vigilant civil servant hero replied: “It is all because of 9/11”

My wife replied, “None of the 9/11 hijackers had a US Passport.”

The government representative had no response to that.

So we’re going for a second try next Monday with this photo:

Ah, the magic of Photoshop!

Quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

I’ve waited until almost midnight on the west coast to say this (as I don’t really like to toot my own horn) but I was quoted in a technology story in the WSJ today. Pretty cool.

It was an interesting social experiment to see who among my “Internet friends” spotted it and emailed me today. A lot of people I assumed would be WSJ readers did not notice and many who I would not pick as WSJ readers did. Interesting.


Some pictures from recent events…

1. A couple of weekends ago I took two boys up to Mt. Baker for some skiing. Well I did some skiing, but the boys chose to give snowboarding a try. I used to snowboard about 15 years ago, but gave it up after getting involved in a collision (and NO, it was not my fault!) with two drunken skiers up on Snoqualmie Pass. Plus, I think snowboarding is only fun when the snow is really wet and deep, otherwise it is just a pain in the ass. Literally.

I don’t think the boys had as much fun as they thought they would. I think Nick is going to stick to skiing.

Here are the pictures.

2. The Jaguar Clubs of North America are having their Annual General Meeting here in Seattle, in fact a stones throw from my office. So I’m attending (actually speaking to the group with Roger Los & Steven DuChene about XKEdata.com). They had a dinner last night at Boeing’s Museum of Flight (even CLOSER to my office) so I took some pictures. The first new Jaguar XK on the west coast was there, so lots of pics of it too.

Here are those pictures.

A Visit to Wigton.

(note: this post is backdated a bit over a week)

I’m in Colorado on vacation (and marooned in 1990’s technology… using dial-up for the first time in this millennium!) visiting my parents. Took the day off from sliding down hills on sticks to drive down to the flatlands northeast of Denver to finally meet the man who has saved my ass more times than I can count. You see I am a mechanical midget whose greatest skill with a wrench is making musical tones by dropping them on the garage floor, which I have to admit I do quite well. Making wrenches do what they are supposed to do? Well I haven’t quite mastered that yet.

However, with access to smarter people than me, via the Internet (specifically the Jag-Lovers E-type mailing list), I manage to keep my old car running. One of those smarter people is Paul Wigton. I set aside a day of my vacation to meet this man who has offered, free of charge and with endless humor and patience, infinite amounts of advice and counselling concerning the collection of parts and British engineering that I am the caretaker for, the 65E. Paul has been working with, and lived around Jaguars literally since BIRTH, and has forgotten more than I’ll ever know about these cars. He’s also a genuinely nice guy. Like me, he is the caretaker of an E-type that belonged to his parents. In his case the (in)famous “Tweety”… named for an odd noise it makes. I was finally able to hear it first hand, as well as shake the hand that hit the starter button.

Above: Christopher Goolsbee (laughing), Paul Wigton (smirking), and “Tweety” (not rusting).

Above: Click the image and you’ll get a short QuickTime movie of Paul starting up Tweety (and Christopher running away?!) This was taken with my digital camera, not a true video cam, so the quality is not great, BUT you can clearly hear the famous “Tweet” note to the exhaust. Paul says the noise orginates in the head, as his dad removed the exhaust (LOUD!) and it continued tweeting.

Paul gets a lot of crap for having a purple E-type. But now having seen it, the color has actually grown on me. His mom chose the color apparently, and topped it off with a white tuck&roll and purple shag carpet interior (which I’ll … ahem… reserve comment on). The exterior though is interesting. The color has depth and behaves a lot like my OSB car… highlighting the curves and reflecting the colors around it. I’d love to see it: 1. Complete and clean, and 2. Under varying light conditions (sunset, dusk, stormy weather, etc) as I imagine it would really photograph well. As it was, I was under harsh, BRIGHT sunlight on one of those high-plains winter, high-pressure days. Even so, it looked good. So my vote to Paul is: Keep the “Poiple” when it comes time to finish the job.

Above: Yep, it IS Purple. It is dusty and scratched, but under there is a nice color in an odd sort of way.

The car has its original 3.8 engine, with close to 200k on it. Purists will cringe at the Series II cam covers, but hey, whatever works… besides the car is PURPLE! Paul says the ribbed cam covers don’t crack as easy, which I can understand. I like my shiny aluminum ones, but they are a royal pain to keep looking good, that is for sure.

Did I mention it was freezing cold? It was barely above 0° on the Fahrenheit scale, and yet…

Above: Click the image and watch as Wiggy & Tweety zoom off into the … um… gravel road. Note that I was expecting Paul to just back the car into the garage, as he had removed his jacket for some odd reason. Instead he blasts down the road at a full clip, minus a coat, a door, and a windscreen! As you will see snow covered tires don’t grip a cold garage floor very well, as Wiggy had a real hard time getting the car into the right spot on the garage… too much torque! Stay tuned to the end where the affect of all that cold is revealed.

We went inside and spent the next couple of hours warming up with hot cocoa and pleasant conversation. Paul filled me in on the history of his parents’ other famous Jag, the factory works lightweight XK 120, aka the ‘LT2’ or ‘Silverstone.’ The Wigton’s were the last owners until the current one bought it in the 70’s and restored it to factory-new condition. It appeared at the Monterey Historics in 2005 and Paul made a pilgrimage to see it. Here are two old photos of the car on Paul’s wall (in a poor Photoshop montage from two photos I snapped). The one on the left is Stirling Moss autographing the car as his parents look on, and the one on the right is Paul’s mother at the wheel of the LT2.

Big thanks to Wiggy for the hospitality! Big thanks also for keeping my usually morose teenager laughing so hard he almost wet his pants. It was a wonderful, Wiggalicious Day.