Category Archives: News

5 years in Seattle

Seattle Sunset

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living in Seattle for 5 years now. I drove out here from Connecticut in July of 2002 without much of a plan, but it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. In my time here, I’ve worked a few different odd jobs but now feel like I’ve found a great niche in the web/technology industry that I hardly knew existed back when I was in school.

I originally intended to stay for just a year or two and then move back East, but I caught the Northwest bug pretty bad and the years have just flown past. I’m still feeling quite happy about the city and the surrounding area, and I know there’s a ton more that I have yet to discover. Am I going to stay here forever? Probably not, but when I’m asked that question now it’s harder and harder to say exactly when I might think of leaving.

Who knows what the next 5 years will hold.

iPhone Day is Upon Us

I just got back from visiting a coworker waiting in line for the iPhone at the downtown Seattle mall AT&T store location. He’s been blogging his experience all day since 5AM, when he arrived first in line. He’s gotten Starbucks, lunch and the all-important Top Pot Doughnuts delivered to him in line, and somehow his laptop battery has been holding out too.

There were a lot of tired-looking folk in the line, and about 60 total in the line that stretched out of the mall. Apple sure does know how to handle a product launch. Here’s hoping the reviews and feedback remains positive on the new phone. Apple really does have something big started here. Who knows what might be next for future revisions of the phone, iPods or laptops if the multi-touch display and interface proves its worth.

It’s been a while

Wow, it’s been more than a month since writing an actual post here. This fixes that, and I hope to pick it up more going forward. The Spring has been pretty scattered with work and play, and weeks of rain and then sun. Some things that have been keeping me busy/distracted…

  • TV season finales – They’re old news by now, but I was hooked on a few too many TV shows this year. In short… Heroes: Season = thumbs up, Finale = thumbs down. Lost: Season = thumbs mixed, Finale thumbs up. The Office: two thumbs way up. Veronica Mars: almost done, but thumbs up so far. Entourage: thumbs up all around (the Yom Kippur episode was one of the funniest I’ve seen).
  • HDTV – I finally took the plunge on a lovely HDTV and watched some of the above in glorious HD. My old, heavy 27″ JVC was starting to burn in in places, but had served me well over the years. I’ve found myself watching much more sports than usual now because they just look so damn good in HD.
  • Xbox 360 – To kind of go along with the TV (it was my birthday, I splurged) I decided to go for a 360 Elite and really put the HD to the test. I’m quite happy with the system, and I really think Microsoft has nailed the online gaming experience with the buddy system, matchmaking, etc. I’ve played a few of the latest shooters, but I’m really a sucker for the simple puzzle games. Lumines (I never played it on the PSP) is quite addictive, and Catan is a perfect rendition of the board game. But really I can’t wait for Mass Effect.
  • Settlers of Catan – This deserved it’s own bullet. A friend of mine introduced me to the board game a couple months ago, and then I discovered the Xbox Live version. I’ve played both quite a bit more since and the game is just so good. The mechanics are so simple, but the strategy and variety from game to game is always different and surprising. I remember there was a copy of the game in the house I lived in during college, and now I regret never joining the regular players. Those Germans know how to make a mean board game.
  • Sun – All of the geeky indoors activities aside, this is the time of year in Seattle where we start having as many sunny days as rainy days from week to week. The following commodities are now in high demand, and take up a good deal of non-working hours: Rooftop decks, patios (preferably at bars), parks, hikes, and street festivals.
  • Photos – One of the more productive things I think I’ve been good about keeping up is photo-taking and posting. I try to make a point of getting out on most sunny days to take some pictures around the neighborhood at least. My Lensbaby with macro attachment ring has been great to capture the Spring flowers and critters in the garden next to my building. My new favorite lens now the prime 50mm f1.4 which has been great for capturing portraits and just about anything else in all lighting conditions.

Now, go read the live updates from Jobs’ keynote at WWDC and drool over some new Apple announcements.

Edward Scissorhands in Dance

Sunday evening I went and saw Matthew Bourne’s Edward Scissorhands at the 5th Avenue Theater in downtown Seattle. I’m a big fan of the movie and love the Danny Elfman score, and when I heard they’d turned it into a stage show, at first I was a bit skeptical. When I saw that there was no dialogue at all, and it was purely a dance performance, I was even more usure. But all of my skepticism was quickly put to rest. The show was absolutely amazing.

Danny Elfman’s original score was used and expanded a bit, and it works wonderfully as the backdrop (and sometimes the star) of the show. I was never bored of the dancing, and actually thought it was a great way to tell what’s already a very surreal, magical story. I also found a lot of the performance much funnier than I expected. The suburban scenes and elaborate group dances did an excellent job of demonstrating the variety of quirky characterizations.

Check out some of the short videos online here, as well as the longer interview/montage with the Director/Choreographer Matthew Bourne. And if you’re in Seattle, I highly recommend checking out the show. It’s playing through May 13th.

Trivia Team Names

As I’ve described before, our regular Monday night trivia group tries to come up with some creative names for our team. We try to stick to jokes about current events (some more tasteful than others), although not quite as pun-ny as some bowling team names. We usually get a laugh or two out of the crowd. Here are some of our recent trivia team names we’ve used, with references:

Oops I shaved it again (1)
Trimspa worked too well (1, 2)
Vote tunnel for make benefit glorious city of Seattle (1, 2)
Sanjaya 2008 (1)
I’m Larry Birkhead’s father (1)
One more drink to Boris (1)

This year’s trivia season is winding down, with only one week left, and two of our valued team members won’t be around in the fall when it starts up again. We’ve had a number of wins, eaten plenty of pizza, drank much PBR, and answered plenty of questions.

Do you know which animal on the Earth has the largest eyes?
Avogadro’s number is defined as the number of what that makes up a mole?
What’s the capital of Malaysia?

IA Summit 2007: Vegas, Part I

I’m currently in Las Vegas attending the 2007 IA Summit. Tons of geeking-out over Information Architecture with a lot of great people… in a crazy, crazy city.

The internet connection is incredibly flaky here, otherwise I’d be trying to update more often. I’ll write up some more thoughts and stories when I can. I’ve been trying out Twitter without too much fanfare, mainly because I don’t want to take the phone/text message plunge (SMSes aren’t free for me). But I’m absolutely seeing the draw to Twitter via text-message now, with people using it to keep in touch at a busy event, find out what’s going on, and adding color commentary during the presentations.

I’ve tried uploading a couple Flickr photos, but again the connection is too flaky to do much. Plus, there’s just too much going on to stop and spend time sorting and uploading all my photos right now. There are a lot of great shots under the iasummit2007 tag on Flickr too.

More to come!

RIP, Jean Baudrillard

I was sad to see that author and theorist, Jean Baudrillard, died yesterday. In a number of my college courses we read many of his writings and essays, and while I didn’t always understand them, I did enjoy the challenging thoughts he offered up. The Wikipedia entry on Baudrillard gives a great overview of a number of his theories and how they interconnect (and intersect) with other postmodern theories.

Kicking off the Two-Double-Oh-Seven

Space Needle Fireworks Happy belated New Year! I had a great holiday back home in CT and returned to a busy Seattle, just as I left it. So far, work has been… interesting… There are plenty of people and things to catch up with… an exciting Seahawks playoff game… getting stuck in Snoqualmie Pass traffic trying to go snowboarding… and some crazy Winter weather that’s more suited for New England. And now we’re into the New Year, full force.

Do I have any New Year’s resolutions? No, I don’t really go for those. I think Sam captured my attitude perfectly when she wrote:

I don’t confine my resolutions to this time of year. After all, there’s a whole year in which to neurotically commit myself to making massive changes in my life which I’ll then blow off a week later!

There’s nothing I’d resolve to do now that I haven’t already resolved weeks or months or years ago. So what now? Well, there’s a whole new year of fun to be had and plenty of changes to be made (planned or not). Now to kick myself back into this blogging thing. Watch out, or I’m gonna blog the shit out of this year. Happy 2007!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Stockings
Yup, I’ve got the biggest stocking, although my sister’s is surprisingly stretchy.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday! The best quote from this morning’s present opening came from my mother:

“Yay, a hammer drill! Now I can drill holes in rocks!”

Does anyone else’s mother buy themselves a hammer drill for Christmas?

Seattle or Connecticut Weather?

So here I was looking up the weather forecast for the holiday week where I’ll be visiting my family in New Hartford, CT. The weather looked suspiciously similar to that in Seattle. Between these two forecasts, can you guess which is Connecticut and which is Seattle?

Similar weather
Seattle or Connecticut? Click for the full-size version.

5 Facts That Not Many People Know About Me

I don’t usually hop on these memes, but I’ve been tagged and certainly don’t want to be the one to break this modern day chain letter. The name of the game is to list 5 interesting/odd/unique things about yourself that most people may not know.

1. I play (or at least know how to play) the bagpipes. I learned at Trinity College, where I joined the Trinity Pipes and Drums in it’s founding year. We performed on campus, hosted a campus Ceilidh, and marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hartford, CT (in the sleet/freezing rain).

2. I have a 1 inch diameter birthmark on the inside of my left ankle. And even after all these years, I can never remember which ankle it’s on without checking.

3. In highschool I took a series of computer art classes, where I did 3D animation on some old Amiga computers. An animation of mine was accepted into SIGGRAPH 97 as part of the Student Poster and Animation Competition and Exhibition. As the only highschool entry in animation, I guess I “won” my category. I didn’t win anything except the honor of having my animation played as part of the collection loop, on a TV at a small booth just outside the exhibition hall. I attended SIGGRAPH 97 in LA (during a heat wave) that summer, and didn’t even get a free admission, although I still had a great time.

4. My parents own a Christmas tree farm in New Hartford, CT. I think it’s about 5 acres, and I spent many a summer with more than enough yard/farm work to keep me busy if I wanted. Worst job ever: Trimming the white pines in August with a heavy machete, wearing long sleeves and pants for protection.

5. Proudest moment from grade school is when I tripped the neighborhood bully as he was walking down the aisle to get off the school bus. He couldn’t catch himself and fell flat on his face in the middle of the bus, with everyone laughing. He got up, shaken, and then turned and punched me in the top of the head. I’m positive it hurt his hand much more than my head. He didn’t bother us quite as much after that.

Well, there you have it. 5 things you may or may not have known. Now it’s your turn. Tag, suckers:

Seattle Windstorm Xtreme 2006

Thursday night we had a little bit of wind here in Seattle. At about 4:15PM the rain started blowing sideways into my office building windows, and the walls were creaking a little more than usual. The high-rise bank of elevators stopped working and fireman arrived with sirens blaring. The bank of elevators for the lower levels (my section of the building) kept working for a while, but they eventually went out at about 5:15PM. I was already out of there and didn’t end up having to take the 16 flights of stairs, like some others.

That night the wind kept blowing, and as all the news stories are saying, more than 1 million people lost power. There were large trees and branches knocked down everywhere. In just a 3-4 block radius from my apartment, there were a number of large trees down. I took a bunch of pictures of the damage and put them up here. One of the big trees that came down crushed the back of a pickup truck right near my bus stop. Another one came down just 50 feet from where I had parked my car. Close call!

Windstorm 2006

I lucked out and didn’t lose power from the Thursday night storm, although my lights flickered a bit. Two days earlier, I did actually lose power in the morning, when the first bit of wind blew through. There were quite a lot of coworkers without power and a lot of them opted to stay home on Friday. I didn’t quite understand the rationale for staying home from work when you don’t have power. I mean, you can’t really do much there, so you might as well come in. Anyway, I hope everyone’s keeping warm and there wasn’t much serious damage. Xtreme!

Kicking off the Winter Season

Layers of Lights As if last week’s “perfect storm” wasn’t enough, this past weekend was chock-full of Winter fun. Friday night was my company’s holiday party, which took place at the Space Needle. Cocktail hour on the observation deck, then down to the lower 100′ high Skyline level for dinner, and then back up to the top for more drinks and dancing. Because of the swanky setting, a lot more people attended than last year, and everyone had a great time. Eric posted some great photos of the fog that rolled through the city. During dinner, there were small patches of fog blowing around Seattle Center, and apparently the big bank of fog blew straight through in the course of 15 minutes.

And if celebrating the holidays on the Space Needle wasn’t enough to kick off the winter, some freinds and I went snowboarding on Sunday. This year I took the plunge and bought myself a snowboard and a season pass to Summit at Snoqualmie. I really got into it last year, but I’m still a beginner, so Snoqualmie is just my pace. It’s not the biggest or best around, but it’s a good place to learn and it’s pretty darn easy to drive the 45 minutes from Seattle. Sunday’s conditions were great, and the sun was out for most of the day. I got the hang of things again after a couple runs, and I’m anxious to go again. Here’s hoping for a long winter!

Still feeling like a scrooge? Well, apparently there are 5 different Santa Claus in the country. 307 Jack Frost. One of the 22 last names of Frosty must be a snowman, and maybe one of the 9,000 last names Nicholas will change their first name to Saint. There are even some Elf and Elves out there. There’s plenty of Holiday Spirit to go around.

Irregardless is a Word

In a conversation at work the other day I was making a statement and for some reason my brain just decided to use the word “irregardless” instead of “regardless”. I know that “regardless” is more common, but the “ir-” just popped in there and I spit it out. Two coworkers immediately turned to me and said, “Um, irregardless is not a word, it’s ‘regardless’.” I shrugged and moved on, but it stuck in my head, and I suspected that there was more to the story. At the very least, I like to think that I don’t just make up gramatically incorrect words on the spot.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online entry for irregardless:

Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

It is indeed a word. Sure, it’s messy, it’s “still a long way from general acceptance” but it’s one of those words that’s stuck around for whatever reason. I propose we further bastardize this word and add yet another negative prefix. I give you: nonirregardless