We’ve got your hotel surrounded (on one side) (and not even the entire side)

A local hotel advertises itself like so:

Surrounding the hotel are popular Seattle attractions such as Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Safeco Park, home of baseball's Seattle Mariners, and Qwest Field, home of football's Seattle Seahawks, all just a short drive away.

Okay, first, it's Safeco Field, not Safeco Park. Mind you, I've misspelled Qwest Field in the past, so maybe I shouldn't complain.

But let's look at those Seattle attractions which "surround" the hotel:

They all lie in the same direction and subtend a total of twelve degrees of arc. This is a sense of the word "surround" I was previously unfamiliar with.

Let's hope these marketing folks never end up working for the police department.

"Before we continue, we need to surround the building."

No problem, Chief, I've already got that.

And then the bad guys sneak out the back door.

I don't understand how they got away. We had the place surrounded!

Comments (35)
  1. Karellen says:

    “But let’s look at those Seattle attractions which “surround” the hotel:

    The web browser on this computer and the Maps site may not work well together.

    To continue, install a browser that is more compatible with this site. Or, continue to use your current browser, keeping in mind that some features may not work correctly.

    Install Internet Explorer

    Install Firefox

    Go to the map using this browser”

    Seems to work OK once I click through, but that message is a somewhat jarring step. FWIW, Google Maps “just works” for me without any of that sort of annoyance.

    (Using Konqueror 4.3.1)

    [Not sure why you’re telling me this. Try the “Feedback” link on the map page. -Raymond]
  2. David Walker says:

    Yes, and when you read a comma-separated list of items, and one of them is "Safeco Park", and the next one is "home of baseball’s Seattle Mariners", you naturally expect a new and different item to come next.  The same is true for "Qwest Field".  Most writers use semicolons to delimit a list when they need to put commas in some of the items.  Oh well, maybe we programmers are too picky.

    Karellen:  The map said "loading" for a long time until I turned off my ad-blocker and refreshed the page, then it showed up fine.

    Hmm, same captcha that I had yesterday.  

  3. Pierre B. says:

    Chen’s law of commenting: the more nitpicks you preempt, the more nitpicks you’ll get.

  4. Karellen says:

    Just thought it possible that you might want to use a map service which seems more likely to work “out of the box” for more of your readers in the future.

    As for sending feedback to Bing, I’m not sure it will help. I wrote a mini rant about why on the subject, but it’s the sort of completely offtopic and self-indulgent tripe that I hate when others post that sort of thing. I deleted it to save myself some embarrassment.

    [If I link to Google, people scold me for not linking to Bing. And now, if I link to Bing, people scold me for not linking to Google. (Curiously, nobody complained the last time I linked to a Microsoft map site.) I guess the only safe thing is to not link to anything. (By the way, Bing makes it easy to place markers and draw on the map, which is a major reason why I picked it.) -Raymond]
  5. James Schend says:

    Raymond, Karellen knows (as all open source programmers do!) that all Microsoft products are made by a single person. So he figures if he complains to you, you can just let him know next time you see him in the cafeteria.

    (Seriously, open source fans. When you find a flaw in, say, the Python interpreter, do you immediately go off and find Linus Torvalds to complain to? I’ve always wondered that.)

  6. Josh says:

    Personally, whenever I have any problems with my home computer, I dig up the corpse of Leibniz and berate it for hours.

  7. Someone You Know says:


    First you have to dig up the corpse of Isaac Newton and berate that for hours, but not tell anyone about it.

  8. Karellen says:

    Sorry, I wasn’t meaning to scold or complain to you, I was just trying to make an observation. The "FWIW" was meant to indicate that if my observation was something you happened to care about, there’s at least one alternative which doesn’t do that, but that if it wasn’t then, you know, whatever dude.

    My attempts to explain this were unreadably wordy, and also felt either too defensive or passive-aggressive, so I just deleted them and hoped that you’d magically psychically take it in exactly the way it was intended. What hopelessly optimistic wishful thinking, huh? I really should have learned better by now…

    Damn those missing sub-linguistic cues like tone of voice and body language from this low-bandwidth medium!


  9. Spike says:

    If it was 12 radians instead of degrees, the hotel would have been surrounded almost twice ^^

  10. peterchen says:

    Seee, the 12° arc is the only safe escape route with a chance of being mugged less than 50% per week.

  11. someone else says:

    An actual link would have been nice, though. You know, to copy and paste into IE.

  12. - says:

    I knew beforehand a large percentage of comments were going to be about the map embedding.

    In any case it’d be good if you made the IFRAME 900 pixels wide or so, since it needs that in order to avoid the horizontal scrollbar.

    Otherwise the Bing map things works really, really well, even if the (closeable) left box and the heading are jarring.

    As usual with contemporary Microsoft products, the problems are hardly technical and more a matter of design and reputation.

  13. Gabe says:

    Surrounded? These places are barely even nearby! A mall is surrounded by parking even if there are gaps in the parking lots; you could claim a peninsula is surrounded by water. No aspect of the word ‘surrounded’ applies to this situation.

  14. map-related says:

    To complain more about the map, it doesn’t seem to work at all in for me, potentially because I’m in Australia (it just defaults to that). Tried in numerous browsers.

    To go back on topic:

    I also think that using the word ‘Such as’ allows them to not provide full details of the entire surrounds. Though I agree with the general sentiment.

  15. Kyle Sluder says:

    To me, "surrounding" when used in this context just means "within walking distance."

    Here, you’d need to be willing to walk across Lake Washington.  Don’t think many people are up for that.  But if they wait 40 years, they can take the light rail!

  16. Clinton Pierce says:

    Maybe if you looked at them from your hotel window with a Kaleidoscope…."We’re surrounded!"

    (thanks to Steven Wright)

  17. chris says:

    my guess is they just got a list of stuff that was near, and didnt pay any attention to their relative locations.

  18. ulric says:

    Hey, you found that one guy who uses Konqueror! (And he reads Microsoft developer blogs with it!?)

    but seriously, I thought that Bing page was a bitmap screenshot, you could have embedded that instead.  I’m just noticing now with all these comments that it’s an actual page I can interact with.  And now it makes a lot more sense to me why there is an large ‘Explore Canada’ ad taking half of the left side – I was wondering why you were talking about Canada!

  19. Neal says:

    First you have to dig up the corpse of Isaac Newton and berate that for hours, but not tell anyone about it.

    That’s a win, for sure

  20. HDV says:

    Actually I got the same error message. I use rekonq, which uses webkit, but in Akregator it’s displayed using KHTML, so there is actually more than one person using KHTML :)

    As an aside, I think that it’s not so unexpected that the guy using konqueror would be reading this blog. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally find this blog very interesting, even though I don’t personally use Microsoft products myself, because the topics discussed are usually not specific to MS but rather are applicable in some way to other pieces of software (e.g., supporting legacy code, design decisions, etc…).

  21. Miral says:

    Bonus points for using "subtend" in a sentence.

    Otherwise, I agree with Gabe — even if they were in a full circle they’re sufficiently distant (across two bridges even) to make the claim of being surrounded dubious at best.

    (Which I’m sure was one of the points you were making.)

  22. Drak says:

    Next they’ll claim to be

    ‘Hotel in Outer Space’.

    We are surrounded by Outer Space.

    (Just not within walking distance).

  23. Mark says:

    Interesting: this usage must have spread from "in the surrounding area" – but it feels adverbial.  By the way, it’s more like 10°, or 20 minutes on a clock face.

  24. ::Wendy:: says:

    IA qualifying phrases like ‘such as’ implies that further attractions around the hotel that are not mentioned. Not mentioned attractions could be on other sides of the hotel.  That doesn’t make Raymonds observations any less entertaining, very funny.  I would not have ‘seen’ the possibilities that Raymond saw.

    Do vague qualifiers like ‘such as’, ‘maybe’, ‘sometimes’, ‘possibly’ exist in the software code languages?  What if software coders could use ambiguity in coding?  Maybe they can…..

    [Of course, there are attractions on the other sides and much closer, too, like the bowling alley and the Costco. In software, the qualifier “MAY” – must be capitalized – indicates amgibuity. (My favorite qualifier is “up to X or more”.) -Raymond]
  25. someone else says:

    “Hey, you found that one guy who uses Konqueror!”

    Actually, Opera has the same problem.

  26. al says:

    "Before we continue, we need to surround the building."

    As the classic goes:

    • We had all exits blocked, but still they managed to get away!

    • How??

    • They left through an entrance!

  27. someone else says:

    Interesting observation: Opera has no problem displaying the map when masking as IE.

    I vote for a speedy execution of whoever designed that.

  28. Stephen Tordoff says:

    That map is useless. There is a horizontal scroll bar, and I can’t even see most of the map without scrolling.

  29. Rich M says:

    We know you hate nitpickers Raymond.  But you’ve become one yourself with this post!

  30. Adam says:

    Total dis on the the Seattle Sounders FC soccer team. Qwest Field is their home too.

    And what about the future home of Seattle’s newest strip club? http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2009914742_webstripclub21m.html

  31. Hex says:

    If you want to complain, you could always email the webmaster of their website: correspondence@larkspurhotels.com

  32. ::Wendy:: says:

    From now on I will consider the Month of MAY a celebration of ambiguity and opportunity for getting ‘up to X or more’.  

  33. Frode A. says:

    "Actually, Opera has the same problem."

    Which problem are you referring to? It can’t display the map, or it only has one user?

    Karellen: Google Maps doesn’t work for me using IE8 so I guess he’ll have to use Yahoo next time.

    *rolls eyes*

  34. John Fuex h says:

    Perhaps they don’t understand the definition of ‘surrounded’, but you have clearly misunderstood the definition of marketing and confused it with some other word that connotes accuracy.

  35. Joseph Koss says:


    The last time you linked to a Microsoft map site, it wasn’t embedded, and therefor wasn’t a big giant "your browser is probably not worthy" sign in the middle of this blog.

    For the record, Opera 10 works fine (it’s very snappy even) with the Bing map site, even though there is a big giant "you’re not worthy" sign here.

    Its a shame that Opera doesn’t get the respect it does. Its #1 in quite a few countries.

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