Category Archives: Seattle

Weekend Ups and Downs

Low point:
Car breaking down on the I-405 exit ramp on I-90, while on the way to the Sub Pop 20th Anniversary Music Festival, and waiting 2 hours for a tow truck.

Especially frustrating:
I just had my car serviced 3 weeks ago for the big 100,000 mile recommended maintenance and didn’t hear any mention of the hoses that were supposedly very corroded and needed replacing.

High point:
Still making it to the last half of the Sub Pop festival to catch the big acts I wanted to see. The Flight of the Conchords were especially awesome and I snapped this short clip of their robo-banter before they started the song…

Artopia 2008

This past Saturday I ventured down to the Georgetown neighborhood to check out Artopia. It was an exciting mish-mash of galleries, installations, performances, and people generally expressing themselves in interesting ways. Where else can you find power tool races, opera singers in an old brewery, and graffiti artists tasked with covering a delivery truck all mixed together. I shot more than 400 photos while I was there, and whittled the best down to 60 or so, which I’ve posted here.

Artopia Graffiti Wall

I ran into a few friends of mine while there, all of whom recommended I check out the Gallagher impersonator (artist Christopher Pfeifle) later in the afternoon. At about 5:15, I found the alley where he was just about to start. Almost half of the photos I shot from the day were from his performance. It was hilarious and spot-on. I remember watching that comedy special as a kid and just marveling at the absurdity. As an adult, the hot afternoon alley-way sideshow performance was even better. Check out the action shots, fake moustache, and flying fruit

Gallagher at Artopia Gallagher at Artopia

Smith Garage Door Accident

Friday evening I was on my way to meet a friend at the bar Smith in our neighborhood and upon rounding the corner I saw a firetruck, ambulance and a large crowd of people gathered outside. As I got closer I noticed there was something not-quite-right about the garage door that usually covers the front. There were large blood spots on the sidewalk in front and a guy lying down on the side holding a wound somewhere on his head/face.

Smith Garage Door Accident

The Stranger’s blog had more info from Friday night (with commenters joking that the Stranger is always first to report news at bars), and details confirming the victim will be OK. And Smith was open for business the next day with a few jury-rigged windows. Just beware of the vicious garage door attacks!

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.

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.

Thread – Stranger Video

On assignment from the Stranger, Chuy, Paul and I put together a short video of the Seattle Thread Fashion & Lifestyle Show.

I contributed the editing, but much more credit goes to Chuy and Paul for heading out and shooting last Sunday (alas, I was preoccupied). For having not done much video at all in a few years, it was imperfect, rough, and scrappy. We brushed up on a lot of the details and I spent much time cursing iMovie. We’re pleased with the results, and I think it was just what we needed to kick our butts back into video-shape. Stay tuned for more!

Thoughts on the Olympic Sculpture Park

I finally made it down to the Olympic Sculpture Park this past weekend. It was still quite crowded 3 weeks after opening, but not nearly the mess it was on opening weekend. The setting is quite impressive for what it is. There’s plenty of well-landscaped space, and you hardly notice the busy Elliott Ave running right underneath you.

On the downside, the only real view from the park is looking West and a bit South, and while it’s a really great view of the sound and the Olympic Mountains, every other direction is a massive block of trendy new condominiums. That’s just what you get in Belltown. The Space Needle is visible in a few places, but is mostly obscured by the buildings. On the Western-most side of the park, you can look South all the way along the train tracks to Pioneer Square, which is pretty cool.

The sculpture itself was presented really well, except for the flourescent blue signage that was everywhere, asking people not to touch anything. The signs were a more common conversation topic than some of the art. And people were still touching everything. I’m a big fan of Alexander Calder, so his Eagle was a favorite, along with Richard Serra’s Wake. I do miss having the Calder right in my neighborhood in Volunteer Park, but the new location is a bit more fitting.

I look forward to heading back on a sunnier day, and catching some sunsets from the park. And for now I’ve got a small set of photos that most everyone gets from walking around the park:

Olympic Sculpture Park

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.

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!

Let’s Ignite Seattle

Bridge Building Last night I attended the first Ignite Seattle event, hosted by Make magazine and O’Reilly Radar. I took quite a few photos of the bridge-building contest and there are plenty more photos of the bridges and presentations in the Ignite Flickr pool. There was plenty of hot glue flying and some impressive bridges for a 30-minute time limit.

After the bridge contest and a short break, the Ask Later talks began, with the whirlwind format of 5 minute presentations, 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide (not under the speaker’s control). There were some really well organized talks for having to fit in just 5 minutes, and a wide range of topics. This roundup covers some of the highlights better than I can. RealityAllStarz got a good laugh, and many people seemed impressed by the Dorkbot presentation on technological art projects, which got some oohs and aahs from the crowd.

Scott Berkun gave an all-too-brief teaser of his upcoming book about innovation and the myths of innovation, pointing out a couple common misconceptions about famous innovators and “eureka” moments of discovery. I’m anxious to read more. Bre Pettis from Make magazine gave a really funny disjointed presentation on all sorts of random things he’s made, including a bat detecting watch. Damn cool. Buster McLeod from The Robot Co-op and 43 Things also gave an inspiring talk on the currency of motivation, and how motivation of yourself (through others) can help inspire you to tackle larger and larger challenges. He also mentioned his new venture, the McLeod Residence which is an art and technology gallery/bar in downtown Seattle, which sounds interesting. His hand-drawn slides were also great.

By far, the oddest, most confusing presentation was by Kathleen Dollard from GenDotNet. I still don’t know what exactly she was pitching, or whether it was coming from Microsoft or not. It was something (software? service? tool?) called “Workflow” which is designed to help engineers interact with their managers and coworkers better. It was literally a flowchart of “What do I do next?” for people who have zero interpersonal skills whatsoever. Say you e-mail the boss with a question and a) he doesn’t respond, b) he responds this way, c) he responds that way… here’s what you do next. I couldn’t help thinking that the whole thing was a joke, but it really wasn’t. Somebody next to me muttered, “It’s like Office Space the flowchart.” I’m sorry, but if you have individuals in your organization that can’t interact with each other, or their managers, the answer isn’t to give them a flowchart of how to work. I might suggest you instead look at finding some better managers or engineers that can work with each other. I could see a suite of development process flows being helpful to some organizations, but this example seemed like a little too much micromanagement.

Event thoughts
Overall I thought the event was pretty interesting, especially considering I’ve missed the past Seattle Mindcamps. The CHAC Lower Level was a decent venue, although the setup of the main room and the single entrance caused a bottleneck. There was plenty of space in the room for people to stand and sit, but tables blocked people’s way. Also, having a loud DJ start in the bar area when people are still giving presentations was a bit obnoxious.

The presentations themselves were often more on the product/website/group promotion side. I would have liked more of the 5-minute presentations devoted to a single drilled-down topic, or more practical coverage of some subjects rather than the common, “Here’s the business/site I started, isn’t it cool?” Some of the presentations that seemed to work best were the editorializing on a specific area (motivation, innovation, startup funding…) rather than the tip-of-the-iceberg presentations of a really big topic (although it was fun seeing people jam those into 20 slides and 5 minutes).

I’m sure there will be plenty of refining for the next event, and I’m looking forward to see what comes of it. A big thanks to everyone who helped make it happen. I’ll see you next time.

Seattle Don’t Know Snow

SnowflakeAlthough the Seahawks pulled off a great victory Monday night on a snow-covered field (yes, that game really took place in Seattle, and not Greenbay), it is otherwise clear that Seattle just doesn’t know snow or cold weather. Our first snow appeared late Sunday for a few hours, but nothing stuck around. The forecast for Monday called for snow or sleet late in the evening, or early in the night. What came down at 5:00PM, was a bit earlier than they predicted, and it was a weird freezing rain, with very large round balls rather than flakes (almost like a light hail). But it was still warm enough outside (at least in the city) that the roads were just wet. But alas, Seattle-ites don’t even know how to drive in rainy conditions, let alone a mix of colder wet stuff. Add in the factor of early Seahawks traffic for the downtown home game and the recipe was there for disaster. A few stories of commutes I heard were: 1 1/2 hours from downtown Seattle to Greenwood by car (normally 15-20 minutes), 1 1/2 hours from downtown to Magnolia by bus (normally 20 minutes), 4 hours from Kirkland to Seattle by bus (normally 1 hour), 4 hours from Sea-Tac Airport by shuttle and bus (normally 30 minutes), 4 1/2 hours from Seattle to Tacoma (normally 45 minutes).

But it continues…
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