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Drenched

Posted on October 25th, 2014

Dave!Not the best of drives over the mountains, but it could be worse. Could be snowing.

Which is probably waiting for me when I have to go home.


Seattle Pass Drive

   

Such is the month of October in the Pacific Northwest.

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Mariners

Posted on June 14th, 2014

Dave!I haven't been to a Mariners game in six years.

w00t!


Mariners at Safeco Field

Mariners at Safeco Field

Mariners at Safeco Field

Dave!

Mariners at Safeco Field

Mariners at Safeco Field

Mariners at Safeco Field

Mariners at Safeco Field

   

Would have been great if the Mariners had won. :-(

   

Traffic

Posted on June 5th, 2014

Dave!I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of horrible traffic. Every major US city has some traffic problems due to the sheer volume of cars and trucks and things that go on the roads. But there are definitely cities worse off than others. Los Angeles is pretty much the gold standard for horrible traffic. San Francisco isn't much better. Boston has ensnared me more times than I can count. Some of the worst traffic I've ever seen was spotted as I was trying to drive into Atlanta one day. New York is an obvious target but, to me, never seems to be as bad as people think.

But, in my humble opinion, none of these cities compare to Seattle.

Seattle traffic is hellaciously bad and in a league of its own.

Most of the reason is simple geography. The bulk of Seattle is surrounded on three sides by water... Lake Washington to the East, Lake Union to the North, and Puget Sound on the West. You can't add "ring roads" around Seattle to alleviate congestion because there's no place to put them. The rest of the problem is just the sheer volume of vehicles on the road. Auto density in Seattle is absurdly high, and no matter how the city tries fix the problem, people love their cars too much to give them up.

And the problem isn't limited to Seattle, as the traffic there bleeds out into surrounding areas as people do whatever they can to avoid driving in the city.

Which makes driving to SeaTac airport a real crapshoot.

Technically, the drive takes 2-1/2 hours for me if the traffic isn't horrible. But since the traffic almost always is horrible and you never know how many times you'll have to stop for road construction, I leave anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes early. Most of the time I'm glad I did. But today the traffic was merely "bad" and not horrible at all...

SeaTac Traffic

18 minutes to drive 12 miles is practically lightspeed so far as Seattle traffic is concerned.

And so here I am, sitting at the airport with two hours and 45 minutes to kill before my flight. If only I had known, I would have stayed in bed an extra hour.

But you just know the day I sleep in is the day that a truckload of fish overturns on the 405 and backs up traffic for an hour.

Stupid fish.

The good news is that I have plenty of time to eat at Qdoba for breakfast. Sure the line is always long but, unlike Seattle traffic, it moves fairly quickly.

   

Bullet Sunday 283

Posted on June 17th, 2012

Dave!Put that Father's Day barbecue on hold... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Meh-crosoft. The big news in technology is that Microsoft will be making a major announcement tomorrow... probably some kind of tablet... and nobody cares! Tablets have been done. So unless they've got a tablet with a 3-D holographic display and free unlimited satellite internet connectivity, stop wasting our time! You want to really impress me? I'm still waiting for my flying car. Why not announce that shit tomorrow?

Microsoft Flying DeLorean

But noooooo... odds are we get yet another tablet. Which probably won't be as good as an iPad anyway. Yawn.

   
• Glass According to the Seattle PI Blog, The Space Needle is getting "glass window box" upgrades. As if it wasn't already scary enough...

Space Needle Glass Box

The glass window boxes at Chicago's Willis Tower, known as "The Ledge," were enough to make me nearly wet myself. And they were on a building. These are going to be on a frickin' tower. Guess it's still not as bad as The Grand Canyon Skywalk though.

   
• Holes The movie Prometheus was a beautiful disaster that looked stunning (especial in IMAX 3D) but, unfortunately, had so many story problems that I had a hard time enjoying it. Red Letter Media has encapsulated many of those problems in an amusing, SPOILER-FILLED, chat...

If you haven't listened to the amazing "Mr. Plinkett Reviews" of such films as the Star Wars prequels, and various Star Trek films, and other flicks like Avatar and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull... you're really missing out. Yes, they're meant to be funny, but the insight Red Letter Media has into the art of filmmaking is brilliant.

   
• Nowalla So much for Gowalla's promises of being able to download your check-in data and stamp collection from their now-dead service... Gowalla.com is down and the domain doesn't even resolve any more. So glad that I spent huge chunks of my time adding spot data, correcting spot errors, and spending my money buying custom stamps. But, hey, they got bought out by Facebook and got paid... so screw all the people who helped build their service! You'd think they'd AT LEAST allow you to import your check-ins and stamps into Facebook or something.

   
And... I'm prematurely out of bullets. I'd be embarrassed, but I hear it happens to every guy from time to time.

   

Bullet Sunday 228

Posted on April 17th, 2011

Dave!I can't believe it's the two-hundred-and-twenty-seventh episode of Bullet Sunday! That's like 60% of a full year's worth!

   
• Needle! Today is the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking for Seattle's Space Needle. Originally created for the 1962 "Century 21 World's Fair," it quickly became a symbol of the city (if not the entire Pacific Northwest). What I love about the structure is that it doesn't look dated despite its classic 1960's styling. On top of that, it's a beautiful cornerstone of the Seattle skyline and a cool tourist attraction...

Sunny Seattle

Space Needle Seattle

View out the Space Needle

Seattle Panorama Photo from the Space Needle

I've visited dozens of times, and the view from the top still takes my breath away. If you'd like to read more about the history of Seattle's landmark, there's a nice wrap-up at Wikipedia.

   
• Happy! What's kind of a mash-up between Friends and Coupling but somehow manages to be uniquely hilarious television in its own right? It's Happy Endings! I have to admit, I thought the whole "group-of-six-friends-half-girls-half-boys" sitcom concept had been played into the ground (usually to horrible effect). But I was dead wrong. Happy Endings is funny, funny, stuff. The premiere episode is available for FREE on iTunes and well-worth your time to check out...

Happy Endings Cast

   
• Proof? On the other end of the spectrum... the new television drama Body of Proof is just so bad. Dana Delany is great as a surgeon-turned-medical-examiner, but just about every other character on the show is total crap. The writing is so lame that it's almost comical. It's as if they set out to make everybody be intentionally annoying and unwatchable. I was hoping for another Quincy, M.E. but got Cliched B.S. instead...

Body of Proof Cast

   
• Collectorz. If you're a Macintosh whore who wants to enter your comic book collection in a computer database, you're pretty much screwed. Years ago I used a program called "ComicBase" which was originally created for Macs, but then they switched to Windows and dropped development for the Mac version (nice!). Over the years there's been a few new programs for Mac, but they haven't been very feature-rich. Enter "Comic Collector for Mac OS X" which is coming May 17th. It looks fairly complete and very affordable ($29.95 or $49.95 for a "pro" version)...

Comic Collector for Mac OS X

It pulls data and cover images off their web server, and allows for quick and easy barcode entry. In anticipation of its release, I've been using a trial membership for their companion "cloud" service: "Comic Book Collector Connect." It's a little cumbersome for adding comics, but still very cool. What's sweet about this company is that even if their OS X software sucks, I can still use the online Connect service to index my collection (unlimited access and database size for $19.95 a year!). If you're a fellow Mac whore with a comic book collection, check it out.

   
• AirPrint. One of the more serious omissions from iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.) was printing. Apple finally addressed this a while back with a technology they call AirPrint. The problem is that this "feature" is half-baked at best. First you either have to buy an AirPrint-Enabled printer or find a 3rd party solution which makes your non-Airport printer be recognized by the iOS. And then the fun begins... figuring out which apps can actually print worth a crap. Most don't. Apple's "Photos" app, for example, doesn't allow you to fill the page with your photo when you print it. Instead, it prints a tiny image in the middle of the page. Other apps print okay, but the lack of control over orientation, scale, and placement is a serious detriment. Only apps which are specifically designed for printing (like Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) seem to produce expected results. This is kind of embarrassing for Apple. Usually they don't release something until it's polished and functional, and AirPrint isn't there yet. Still... it is a promising glimpse of the functionality that devices like these will need in a "post PC world."

   
Annnnnd... now it's time for the new Burn Notice movie... The Fall of Sam Axe! As a huge fan of Bruce Campbell, it's must-see TV.

   

Day One: Seattle

Posted on January 27th, 2011

Dave!For those who don't fly very often... i.e. people who jet off on vacation every other year and make an occasional trip home for the holidays... air travel can be a mystifying, frustrating, and altogether torturous experience. I try to keep this in mind when people feel the need to say something like "OH GAWD! YOU'RE TRAVELING AGAIN?!? I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU DO IT! I WOULD DIE IF I HAD TO FLY AS OFTEN AS YOU DO!" To which I usually reply "Well, eventually you get used to it."

But the truth of the matter is that the travel experience for a frequent flier can be considerably different than that of somebody who doesn't travel much.

It would have to be, or else those of us who fly 180,000 miles a year would be blowing our fucking brains out.

Fortunately, most airlines understand that frequent travelers have a different set of needs and an entirely different mind-set from the huddled masses, and work really hard to make their travels as pleasant as possible. Mostly in the hopes that their best customers stay their best customers.

So now I am going to give a list of the top-five reasons my constant travel isn't quite as horrible as it might sound. I've only gotten "elite-plus" status at Alaska Air and Delta (two airlines I love more than chocolate pudding), but I'm guessing the experience is similar for other airline's frequent flier programs...

  1. Upgrade Perks. The people you see in First Class who are drinking champagne and eating brie while lounging in seats so spacious that they could accommodate a family of four, probably didn't pay the outrageous pricetag to be there. More likely they are just very good customers with tons of miles, and the airline upgrades them for free when a seat is available. So as you are schlepping to the back of the plane to sit on a chair the size of a Triscuit cracker with no legroom to speak of, try to resist the urge to punch the First Class passengers in the face as you pass. Odds are they've missed a lot of time with their family and friends, spent more time in airports than at home, and have endured unbelievable travel horror stories to get there. Instead, pity them. Theirs is not the easy life it appears. Besides, the person you punch in the face might be me and I don't want to spill my chanpagne.
  2. Early Boarding Perks. When I travel it's usually for business and I'm carrying important shit that would render the entire purpose of my trip moot if it were lost. For me there's rarely an option to check my carry-on bag, as I simply must have it with me when I arrive at my destination. Fortunately I don't have to worry about running out of overhead space because I'm one of the first people on the plane. In the event I don't get an upgrade, I still have no trouble finding a spot for my important shit. Elite flyers also have the option of carrying on an extra bag which comes in handy from time to time. In a day and age where people bring their entire luggage set onboard and filling three overhead bins to avoid paying baggage fees, this is probably my most favorite (and necessary) perk.
  3. Luggage Perks. Since I try hard not to abuse the overhead storage, I check my luggage at the departure desk whenever I can. Mostly because A) I don't have to pay for it since all luggage fees are waived for Elite fliers and B) My luggage is flagged as "priority" so it has a better chance of not getting lost AND being one of the first bags out of the chute at baggage claim. I try very hard to resist the urge to scream "SO LONG, SUCKERS!" when this happens but, as somebody who has had their luggage lost or delayed multiple times while trying to live out of a suitcase, it's tough.
  4. Security Perks. In addition to being one of the first people on one the plane, I can also be the one of the first people through security. Most major airports have a separate, much shorter security line for elite fliers. I don't always use it since I try to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare, but on those back-to-back-to-back schedules where I'm trying to fit a half-dozen appointments into a single week, it has come in very handy. I still have just as big a chance for a TSA "enhanced screening" hand-job as you do though, so don't feel too sorry for me because you think I'm missing out.
  5. Lounge Access Perks. Today I have a 6-1/2 hour layover in Seattle. But, since this is an international flight, the wait is not quite so bad because I have access to the lovely "Delta Sky Club" lounge. I get a desk, a phone, plug-ins, internet, a comfy chair, and (most important of all) free mini-muffins and Coke! This may seem like kind of a trivial perk, but when you spend the horrible amount of time in airports that I do, it's sometimes the difference between life and death. Well, not literally life and death... but sometimes those banana-nut mini-muffins are the only thing keeping me sane when forced to waste lots of time waiting for a flight...

My FREE Mini Muffins!
MY MINI-MUFFINS!

The last couple of years have been relatively "light" travel years for me, which means I only accumulated around 150,000 miles annually. That's still a lot, but pales when compared to those heady days of 2002-2006 where I flew over 200,000 miles annually and held top-level elite status at three airlines. But I still get treated very well, so that's the real reason I don't mind flying so often. It's just difficult to explain all that when somebody says ZOMFG! I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU CAN STAND TO FLY SO MUCH!!"

Though today I was kind of lucky to be flying at all because of the weather. Fog blanketed Seattle this morning, which added an air of eerie spookiness when we landed...

Foggy SeaTac Morning!

Things weren't looking too much better after sunrise...

Foggy Sunrise

Foggy Sunrise

It's not so bad out now, so hopefully I won't have any problems getting to Europe today.

Well, unless the airplane should explode into a massive ball of flames and fall in the ocean as I'm crossing the Atlantic. That kind of thing can totally put a damper on your trip no matter how many frequent flier miles you have.

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Categories: Travel 2011Click To It: Permalink  23 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Sleepytime

Posted on November 1st, 2010

Dave!I've been making twice-weekly trips over to Seattle for entirely too long and it's starting to wear on me. Especially now that the weather is getting all nasty and the deer are running. Today's trip found me with such poor visibility that I wasn't able to see the road much of the time. This was made worse when I very nearly plowed into some deer that ran onto the highway in front of me. The drive would have made for some cool photos, but the window-mount I constructed so I can shoot hands-free iPhone photos didn't seem to want to stick to the window, so I didn't get many shots at all. This one was taken at 1:30 in the afternoon before things got really bad...

Rainy Foggy Mountain Passes

Seattle was equally miserable, with rain pouring down on me as I attempted to run errands downtown. At one point I was forced to navigate a lake which had formed in the crosswalk, and ended up with soaking wet feet on top of everything else. Fortunately, I had a warm and comfy hotel room waiting for me...

The Edgewater Hotel Bed

Complete with my new Black Bear Sleepytime Pal...

Stuffed Black Bear Teddy

And a nice view as well. Look at those awesome trees...

The Edgewater Hotel Room View

I have everything except a glass. Or a cup. Or a mug. Or anything that lets me get a drink of water without sticking my head under the faucet. At least without having to buy a bottle of water for $5.50. Kind of douchey for a hotel that I enjoy quite a lot otherwise.

Now my challenge will be trying to get a few hours of work done before that big comfy bed makes me fall asleep. I fully expect to fail.

But I think I can live with that.

Washington State votes by mail, so I've already taken care of business. But since most everybody else votes tomorrow, I thought I would post this amusing cartoon that's been working its way through the interwebs over the past week. Much of it is rather obtuse in the way it presents Tea Party positions on the issues... but I do like the way it hammers home how most Tea Partiers seem to have no fucking clue what they're talking about. Every single interview I've ever seen with a Tea Partier has been chocked full of such blinding ignorance that I'm left speechless. All these people know how to do is parrot the crap they've been conditioned to believe, and not bother actually thinking or researching anything for themselves. It's all at once mind-bogglingly sad and so fucking typical...

Interestingly enough, some of the Tea Party's core beliefs for accountability in government spending and limitations of government intrusion into our lives actually sound like a good thing to me. The problem is that Tea-Partiers seem to pick-and-choose how these concepts are applied. On one hand they don't want the government telling us how to live our lives, but then turn around and say that the government should pass laws preventing two people of the same sex from getting married. On one hand they don't want the government to be in the health-care business, but then turn around and say that the government should be forbidden from making any changes to Medicare. These seemingly endless contradictions make little or no sense. And when you add in the many lies and distortions that Tea-Partiers seem so fond of propagating, I am left scared as hell as to what might happen if these people actually start getting into office.

Sadly, it looks as though we might be finding out very soon.

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Day One: PAX Seattle

Posted on September 4th, 2010

Dave!VACATION AT LAST!!

Technically, my vacation isn't scheduled to start until tomorrow when I skip the country, but I was able to get a day pass to PAX, the "video gaming festival" going on in Seattle over the weekend. I don't have a lot of time to play video games anymore, but I still love them, and this was a great opportunity to see what's coming up from all the big gaming companies.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My vacation did not get off to the best start. This was made clear to me just as I was heading into Seattle...

  • BAD: Getting a speeding ticket because you didn't see the sign changing the speed from 70mph to 60mph.
  • BADDER: Having just 15 days to respond to the ticket when you'll be out of the country 16 days.
  • WORSE: Having to go to "Money Tree" so you can hand over your hard-earned cash to get a money order so your ticket is paid within the 15-day window.
  • WORSER: Standing in line behind a man at "Money Tree" who has no concept of what "personal hygiene" means.
  • ARMAGEDDON: Having to listen to the Glee soundtrack at full volume as you stand behind a man at "Money Tree" who has no concept of what "personal hygiene" means because you have to get a money order for a speeding ticket you got because you didn't see the sign changing the speed limit from 70mph to 60mph.

Yes. Not so much a good time so far.

But then I made it to PAX, and everything got better again.*

What I was most interested in was seeing the sequel to one of the best games ever. The line was really long to play, but I did get to see... PORTAL 2!!

Portal 2 Booth at PAX Seattle

Portal 2 Booth at PAX Seattle

Uniquely awesome in every way. I cannot WAIT for it to be released! My beloved Weighted Companion Cube lives on!

Lil' Dave with his Weighted Companion Cube

Surprisingly, many of the other "hot" games at the show all looked like Worlds of Warcraft clones. They all had guys running around with a shield and sword killing monsters... Guild Wars 2, Rift, Alion, Tera, Lord of the Rings, etc. etc. And if it wasn't a "swords and sorcery" Massive Multiplayer Online Game, it was a military shoot 'em up in either a modern, future, space, or post-apocalyptic theme.

FORTUNATELY, there were some properties that takes this kind of gameplay and makes it interesting just because of the property attached. The Disney-themed Epic Mickey was pretty darn cool (even if the controls weren't that tight) but it was Star Wars: The Old Republic that took it to the next level. You haven't lived until you're hacking everything in sight with dual-lightsabers and blowing the crap out of stuff with Force lightning!

Star Wars The Old Republic

The biggest disappointment to me was the Xbox "Kinect" where the games were somewhat boring (the dance game was just plain stupid)... and I didn't really get the sense that the "virtual controller" was being used in any way more revolutionary than just holding onto the Nintendo Wii controllers. Of course I didn't get a chance to play for very long or see all the games, so maybe there's more to it than what I got to see. Otherwise, it was definitely "meh."

The second biggest disappointment was the number of "closed" booths, where you could ONLY see the game if you stood in line to play it behind closed doors. This SUCKS because some of the lines are so long I had -zero- chance of that. I wanted quite badly to see Dragon Age 2, but wasn't able to. BOOOOOO!

Since I only had four hours on the Exhibit Floor, I didn't get a very good PAX experience, but I still had a lot of fun...

PAX 2010 Shots

Maybe next year!

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Categories: Travel 2010Click To It: Permalink  4 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Smert

Posted on August 11th, 2010

Dave!Apparently, we have more tax dollars than we know what to do with here in Washington State.

Yesterday Seattle pressed the "on button" for their new "Smart Highway" project. In theory, it sounds fantastic. Highways which adapt to traffic conditions and help to regulate congestion by controlling the speed and position of vehicles on the road.

These new "Smart Highways" interact with reconfigurable signs like this...

Smert Highway!

In the above example, there's been a car collision, and the right two lanes have been closed. In preparation for this, there were instructions to merge earlier up the road...

Smert Highway!

And even earlier up the road, the traffic was slowed in order to make the merge happen more smoothly... and also to compensate for the loss of two lanes.

Smert Highway!

See? Fantastic. In theory.

In practice? Not so much.

Because the big glaring flaw in all this is that drivers aren't going to give a shit about any of it. People are going to wait until the last second before they merge (as always). People are going to ignore the reduced speed limits and go as fast as they can (as always). People are going to slow to a crawl as they approach the accident so they can gawk (as always). And it doesn't matter if you tell everybody that police will be enforcing compliance with the signage, because they don't really comply with the signage we have now.

And controlling traffic around an accident is the BEST CASE SCENARIO for making use of the "Smart Highway" signs. It's completely ineffectual for anything else. Case in point? It's ineffectual for managing heavy Seattle traffic, because no sign can change the fact that I-5 Northbound goes from five lanes to two lanes once you hit downtown. What can a sign... even a changeable sign... do with that bottleneck? And every time I saw that the speed had been reduced to "help with the lane flow" it was still posted as faster than what anybody was driving. And, even if somebody could exceed the ever-changing speed-limit, how the hell are the police going to enforce anything? The speed is 50 MPH one second and 40 MPH the next. How do you enforce that?

And, everything else aside, is it even SAFE to take people's eyes off the road for constant changes, updates, warnings, instructions, or what-not?

Millions spent. Nothing's changed. Maybe things are even worse.

So sadly typical.

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Categories: Travel 2010Click To It: Permalink  11 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Muskrattle2

Posted on August 10th, 2010

Dave!After a long morning of work... lunch with my sister... then more work... it was time to meet up with Muskrat again for dinner in Seattle.

Being a little selfish, I do what I always do when guests are in town, take them to MY favorite restaurant, Ray's Boathouse (as I've detailed on my Secret Seattle Restaurants Page... shhhhh!). The views and food really can't be beat, and I highly recommend the place to anybody looking for an amazing meal experience in Seattle. Especially at sunset...

Rays Boathouse

Sunset at Rays Boathouse

Sunset at Rays Boathouse

After that, we went to West Seattle's Alki Point so Muskrat could take a look at that picture-postcard-perfect Seattle Skyline view. Having photographed it dozens of times, I decided to play around with the "Hipstamatic" app on my iPhone to see what it would pick up. Generally I avoid Hipstamatic because it's so overused anymore, but there's no arguing with the freaky and wonderful results...

Hipstamatic Seattle View

Of course, no photo can capture the experience of being there, which is why Alki is one of Seattle's "must-see" travel experiences.

   
And speaking of travel experiences... can I just say that Steven Slater is totally my hero now?

Steven Slater HERO!

I am absolutely not kidding. While I am sorry he had to go through a melt-down while on the job, I am so sick and tired of the numerous abusive douchebags on planes anymore that ANYTHING which draws attention to these assholes is a good thing. If you're going to fly, be respectful and considerate and FOLLOW THE FUCKING RULES... OR DON'T FUCKING FLY!

I would never have the patience to deal with plane passenger dickwads for five minutes... let alone 28 years... so congratulations Mr. Slater for lasting this long. And especially for going out in such style when you'd finally had enough.

It's only a matter of time before a flight attendant has taken more than enough of people's shit and the killings begin. I, for one, can't wait. Maybe if being a fucking asshole could get you killed, people wouldn't be fucking assholes anymore.

Sure it's wishful thinking, but dreams can come true!

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