Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Rent a Ruminant

Look who’s eating this empty lot near the Congregational Church on SE 46th Ave:

Rent a Ruminent : goats eating blackberry bushes.

That’s a herd of goats, from Rent-a-Ruminant.  The animals are voracious eaters, and one of their favorites is blackberry bushes – the invasive species that seems to have taken over every vacant lot on Mercer Island.  Supposedly the goats eat every trace of the bushes, down to the roots.


So what does it cost to get rid of the weeds on your property?  The farmer charges by the day, usually in increments of a quarter acre.  Something like $825/day, plus moving fees.   That sounds like a deal to me, especially if they do a thorough job without leaving toxic herbicides that will run off onto other lots.   I wonder if you can also work out a deal to eat your weed-eater when it’s done.  Did you know that goat is the most widely-consumed meat in the world? Yummy.


Best High Schools Report Update

Mercer Island High School isn’t the best in Washington State.  That honor belongs to International Community School in Kirkland, according to Business Week’s new article on America’s best high schools.

Ballard: 5, Mercer Island: 2 ?

The Seattle neighborhood of Ballard has at least five blogs devoted to the local area.  As best I can tell, Mercer Island has only two: yours truly and Surrounded by Water

The Seattle P-I is going out of business.  Even the New York Times is running out of money and could be shut down by May (okay, a little far-fetched but read this article in The Atlantic Monthly). What’s going to replace the newspaper business?   It’s going to be online information from sources that produce content you really care about, which for most people will be highly skewed to hyper-local news about your neighborhood.

It’s not as though Mercer Islanders are doing nothing online.  There are local neighborhood Google groups, email discussion lists, Facebook pages, and more.  It’s just a matter of time before these online news sources catch up to the rest of the world.  Or Ballard.

Mercer Island rated “most educated” small town

Look who made number 20 in the new Forbes list of “most educated small towns”.  The article has a photo of a Blue Angels flyby and this summary of our fair city:

Total Population: 23,688
Advanced degrees: 37.1%
Bachelor’s degrees: 37.2%
Associate degrees: 2.3%

This idyllic island near Seattle is home to enormous houses, hiking and equestrian trails, and over 35 parks. That’s enough to attract the wealthy and highly educated staffs of Seattle University, University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University.

We’re the third smallest of all the towns listed (most of the "small towns” have populations double or triple ours.  But we’re also the only one in Washington State, and the only non-Silicon Valley one listed from the entire West Coast.

I can think of a whole bunch of jokes about some of my apparently under-educated neighbors, but I’ll shut up and go back to playing this fun new game I saw at the game store in Crossroads Mall a few days ago.


Where’s the mailman?

More snow today. The post office didn’t deliver mail on Forest Avenue for, like, a week during the last blizzard. I sure hope that doesn’t happen again.

Snow and Ice

Newspapers shout bad snow day

Island roads have been terrible since the Big Snow hit on Thursday leaving many of us stuck in our homes, afraid to take our cars up and down slippery hills.

When I finally ventured out on Friday afternoon, I found unplowed, icy roads everywhere.  Just look at the ABS indicator on my dashboard, telling me that I’m losing traction as I drive up 40th from Island Crest Way.

Danger!  car is slipping

The City of Mercer Island is “prepared with sanders and snow plows to work around the clock if necessary”, according to the Mercer Island Winter Weather Update on the city website, which also includes a map of the snow and ice routes.  But I saw precious little plowing or sanding yet during my drive.  In fact, my Prius was completely unable to make it up the Merrimount Drive hill, in spite of two attempts.

Some streets, like 24th ave, were completely blocked off by city-erected barricades

Don't go up 24th.

Saturday morning looks to be a little better, but maybe not for long.  Another big storm is scheduled to hit tonight.

Click here to see a map of photos taken during my drive around the island.

Mercer Island’s most accurate weather forecaster

Surrounded by Water took a walk to see how the island is coping with all this snow today, but some of us are wondering when it will let up.  Weather forecasts are so unreliable we think it’s almost a waste of time to pay attention to weather reports.  Don’t the forecasters get graded on accuracy?

Yes they do and evaluation service Forecastadvisor says the best weather source is MyForecast, with 80.61% overall accuracy last year.  Weather Channel is so close that you might as well assume they’re the leader, since you’ve probably heard of them more.

But on days like yesterday, when the forecast assumed tons of snow that never materialized, we really care about the accuracy of precipitation forecasts, and there Accuweather is tops.

ForecastAdvisor summary of Mercer Island forecasts

Of course, some days you can just look at the weather and judge for yourself:

iTaxes in Washington

From CNet:

Did you know that our state is one of 17 states that tax music downloads.

Washington state law, for instance, does not explicitly permit the taxation of digital downloads, but the state taxes them anyway. Previously, the Washington Department of Revenue told CNET that it taxes downloads on the basis that they fall under the definition of computer software, which is taxable.

"As these technologies meet, there is this question of what is digital goods and what is software," said Drew Shirk, a legislative policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Revenue.

To answer those questions, the state legislature commissioned a committee, chaired by State Representative Ross Hunter, to provide a report to the legislature by the end of the year "to define where technology is today and how it should be taxed," Shirk said.

I wonder if illegal downloads are taxed too?

The Parks Levy

Opponents of the new Parks Levy have made an impressive new site to tell the world what they think:

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