Saturday, May 22, 2010

Weather forecasting terms explained

There is something to be said about using terms that have the most precise meaning possible.  However, in scientific circles, you may have a better understanding of the nuance in different terms than the colloquial understanding.  Weather forecasting is definitely one of those areas.  The one that I have been wanting to understand recently is showers vs. rain (because you also hear 'scattered showers' which seemed redundant to me if showers are just scattered rain in the first place):

Meteorologist Forecasting Terms: Differences Explained Between Scattered Showers and Rain at Times

  • Rain - forms from stratus clouds, more widespread, steady, less intense
  • Showers - forms from cumulus clouds, more isolated, short-lived, affects a smaller area, sometimes more intense

So, scattered showers does seem to be a bit redundant if they are already "isolated" and "affect a smaller area".

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Deleting lines and non-matching lines with VIM

I'm always forgetting how to do this but here's how to delete matching lines:
And the more difficult thing to do that vim makes easy is deleting non-matching lines.  All you do is negate the pattern:
Daily Vim: Text Editor Tips, Tricks, Tutorials, and HOWTOs: Delete Lines Matching Keyword

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dispute with Seattle Public Utilities over alley trash collection

We were given a big "FU" by SPU (Seattle Public Utilities) last week and told that alley trash service would stop tomorrow and we would have to somehow haul our cans up to the street level every week.  This is complete bullshit, of course, as I point out in a letter to SPU I just submitted.  All of my neighbors affected are protesting by continuing to put the cans in the alley tomorrow.  We'll see what happens.  We've all been calling to complain the past week but so far there seems to be no recourse at all.  I plan to keep escalating this until we get a reasonable response.
"All houses on my alley were given only a week's notice that alley garbage and recycling and yard waste service were to be discontinued starting 5/11/2010 and that we would have to put our bins on the street level.  We have all brought this to the attention of SPU that this is a ridiculous request for our block due to the nature of the terrain.  That is the reason that we have had alley garbage service for the over 5 years that I have lived here and beyond that.

Alley service is the only option that makes any pragmatic sense due to the terrain that our houses are built on.  The houses main floors are on a grade level _below_ the street.  The lower floors of the houses are on yet another grade lower than that but on par with the grade of the alley.

There are at least 9 houses on my block that all have alley garbage service for this reason:  [redacted 9 specific addresses] are all addresses on this street receiving alley service. 

My house alone has 8 steps to reach the street level that make it simply impractical to haul one, let alone three or four cans up and down the stairs each week.  Other houses have more stairs and many even have twisting staircases that would make it treacherous to lug the garbage up and down.

Waste Management needs to have SPU tell them "no" and to resume alley service and ensure that we continue to receive this service from now into the future.

We have been told that Waste Management's contract has the option to arbitrarily change the collection location at their decision, however I have read the contract posted online and do not see that they have that authority at all.  It says in section 135 that "collections from Residential Structures shall be made at the curbside or alley, as
determined by the City", meaning that the discretion is entirely the city's.   It goes on to say that, "Subject to special arrangements made by mutual agreement between the Contractor and the City on a case-by-case basis to accommodate extraordinary situations, Residential Structures on the same side of the street on the same block shall place all Containers on the curbside or all on the alley.  However, if a particular property does not abut the alley or have alley
access, Container placement shall be at the curb."  So, our case is already covered in this language since all of the houses who do not abut our dead-end alley do not have alley access.  Even if they did, our case would fall under the 'extraordinary situations' case anyhow due to the uneven, steep terrain that our houses have been built upon.  See

None of us are going to be putting our cans at the street level and will expect that our waste service will continue in the alley as it has been or else we will continue to report missed collections every week that goes by and will continue escalating this issue higher in the governmental chain until we get a reasonable resolution."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Notable quotable: Skeptic is not a bad word

I find myself reticent to use the word 'skeptic' to describe myself because it is often incorrectly equated to 'cynic' or some other malcontent or negative connotation.  I've used "rigorous doubt" in its stead on occasion since it takes a bit more thought to contemplate and avoids the knee-jerk emotional reaction that can accompany the term 'skeptic'.

But, I came across this quote from Eugenie Scott on Skepchick that nicely summarizes what being a skeptic is and how it is really a neutral position:
“Skepticism is a perspective that does not accept or reject claims at face value, but withholds judgment until specific evidence is available.” ~ Eugenie Scott

Excellent infographic on health care reform implementation plan

If only the government or the media reporting on this could be this clear...

Health Care Reform Infographic – Changes Coming!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Passwordcard - a low-tech wallet password manager

Visit this site and it will automatically generate a card with symbols for columns and colors for rows with randomly-generated digits on it.  You can then use this card to generate very strong passwords that you don't have to remember.  And no bad guy can guess them and even if they get a copy of your card, they won't know which subset of the random characters are your password so it provides protection against a physical attack on your wallet.

It's an alternative to writing your passwords down directly and keeping them in your wallet (which is actually not a bad thing since it allows you to have varying passwords with better quality).

Your PasswordCard