Archive for July, 2005

Best little ferry ride

The ferry docking at Jetty Island

I know, I know, you think I’m about to start in again with the Bainbridge Ferry spiel, and all things considered it’s a pretty short ferry ride, but this is a really REALLY short ferry ride. The captain of the good ship MV Queen’s Launch welcomed us on board, told us he would be our captain for the next, oh, 5 minutes or so, and told us where the lifejackets were (under our seats) by which time it was time to dock on the other side of the bay. So I think it actually takes 3 minutes, but you could call it 5 minutes if you counted the boarding time. What’s up with the Queen’s Launch, anyway? Do we get a loaner from Argosy Cruises every summer? Is it a free loaner? Because Everett isn’t charging for the ride, so, it’d be nice if they weren’t having to pay for ferry rental.

Jetty Island Daze
As for our destination, Jetty Island, what can I say about it that hasn’t already been said? A little history: It was created about a hundred years ago (back when we had a lot more wooden boats), to be a jetty — sort of keeping the fresh water in the marina, and the salt water out-ish. Then it transmogrified into a dumping ground for construction materials, as well as a landing ground for whatever was floating in the Sound. Then twenty years ago, the Everett parks and rec people started organising little trips out there during the summer. Now, it’s a Thing — during the summer, up til about Labor Day, they’ll ferry you out there, for free, or you can drag out the old canoe and ferry yourself out there.

Give me an umbrella, a sandy beach, a sunny day, and a good book.

I love the smell of suntan lotion in the morning
As soon as we docked, everyone immediately headed in a swarm for the beach. They were dragging coolers, and little bbq cookers, and food, and squalling children. We diverged a little way north to the lagoon, where we and half a dozen other birdwatchers watched a stinking mudhole transform itself into a sparkling lake within the course of 2 hours. Isn’t high tide wonderful? And a nine-foot high tide is especially so. It hides all the ugly stuff, and makes everything smell nice again. Every so often, a flock of sandpipers would startle at an incoming wave, or the bad-tempered cry of a Caspian tern, and take flight, swooping around in the air as though they were connected to each other.

If you go: They hardly ever have a problem with the numbers, but be warned, they do a headcount and if too many people seem to be headed out, they’ll just discontinue outgoing ferries until the numbers decrease.

Favorite find: Would have to be the kitesurfers.

Scenes Around Town: Your Gift from the SW

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Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… the Ameriquest Soaring Dreams Airship! Today was a perfect day for flying, and not only were there a bunch of planes zipping about, there was also this one plane dragging a tail of letters, advertising some sort of waterfall store (things that make you go “buh?”), and our favorite — the colorful blimp that didn’t really seem to be advertising anything.

The blimp is apparently on a nationwide tour to “inspire children to aim high with their goals and dreams.” But they may not be able to figure it out just by looking at the psychedelic mess. So be sure and point it out if you see it, and then kick their little butts into gear. It’s never too early to aim them high.

pelting Tootsie Rolls at clamoring children

On Wednesday night, I was walking down Greenwood, pelting candy at the heads of children.

I was asked to do this.

For the first time in my life, I appeared in a parade. The Greenwood Seafair parade, to be exact. Most years, I have little to do with Seafair, other than craning my neck at the unexpected shrieking of the Blue Angels flying over my head on practice runs. But this year, I marched with this group, affiliated with this national writing center, founded by this young master of irony and internet tendencies. It’s a good organization, and I’m one of the volunteer teachers. Or rather, I will be, once the tutoring center, with the space supplies store out front, opens its doors in the fall at 85th and Greenwood

So a group of us disparate writers gathered on 101st and Greenwood, in the surging Seattle heat, somewhere around 6 pm. We all met each other, happily, warily, ironically. We donned t-shirts with the telescope icon on front, and “Don’t forget to write” on the back. We exchanged ideas and quips. Mostly, we tried not to complain about the fact that the parade seemed to not be going anywhere for nearly an hour. And that the Sultan marching band and drill team, dressed in green polo shirts and pressed white slacks, practiced Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” incessantly behind us.

Finally, we began moving. Pirates (most of whom seemed to be drunk, honestly) bellowed from their pirate ship on wheels, passing us with impunity. The Baby Dangerettes, the drill team made up of four-year-olds, kicked their pom-pommed cowboy boots and gleamed their smiles. The baton twirlers in front of us–ten little girls and one awkward ten-year-old boy–threw their silver sticks in their air to the Mission Impossible theme, and “Great Balls of Fire,” over and over again. And the obviously overheated mascot for this improbable team worked the crowd into a frenzy by just showing up. I didn’t know that Seattlites were that excited about hockey in July.

We marched, our little, bedraggled group, gainfully waving at the large crowd sitting on the curbs. Two of our members held up a banner (sadly, it was vertical, and thus improbable for a parade), with the words 826 Seattle and the telescope icon. Whenever I saw an adult staring at us, with head cocked sideways, and a confused look in her eyes, I ran over and gave her a lime-green brochure.

Still, it wasn’t the same as candy. One of my fellow writers had a booming, side-show-carny voice, and he yelled at the clamoring kids, “Who wants sugar?” It was strange to see how much the kids were willing to prostitute themselves for a Tootsie Roll. “Me! Me! Me!” they would shout up and down, their faces already smeared with chocolate.

We quickly ran out of literate brochures and just gave in to the tenor of the day. Who wants a blue raspberry Jolly Rancher? Melting Butterfinger? A smooshy Snickers bar? Oddly, middle-aged men with large moustaches seemed to want the candy most.

So it was fun. And strange. All for a good cause. You should check it out.

But the Seafair clowns still scare me.

Tully’s Up North

Those Seattleites who spend their summer vacations in Stockholm may do a double-take when they take a stroll down Götgatan, the main drag on the southern island of Södermalm:

Tully's Stockholm

Think of it as a small bit of payback for all the IKEA furniture cluttering up your apartment. Despite official denials, globalization seems to work both ways.

Free Coffee

I have a theory that Starbucks coffee is your ultimate “comfort coffee” because it will taste pretty much the same, no matter where you go. My theory is about to be put to the test. On Saturday, at the Madison Park Starbucks, members of our female basketball team Seattle Storm will be working as baristas and more: not only are they serving up your tasty green tea fraps, they’ll be signing autographs and posing for photos. They shoot! They score! They make coffee!

But enough about them. What about the coffee? Can it possibly taste the same with all the hoopla? If in doubt, come between 5 and 6PM when the drinks will be free (although your charitable donation to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance is appreciated).

weekend outlook: blocking

Compare & Contrast: Block Party vs. Bloc Party

A public service announcement regarding homophone clarity: those who hear about Block Party on Capitol Hill this weekend should know that it isn’t one of this Spring’s hot British buzz bands taking over the middle section of the Pike/Pine corridor starting at 11:30 on Saturday. Instead, it’s the neighborhood’s biggest annual event that doesn’t revolve around proud marching gays with aspirations of re-settling in Seattle Center.

That’s right — it’s the annual Capitol Hill Block Party! Presented by the Stranger, the party is so packed with great bands from the Pacific Northwest that highlighting a few favorites like Built to Spill, the Thermals, Aqueduct, and Band of Horses just seems crazy because the lineup is so good that the list of hyperlinks would go on forever. Beyond the band there are other diversions like dildo ring tosses and the chance to buy DIY crafts from all of your friends at I ♥ Rummage.

With all of the fun going on, how can you even think of missing it? If local festivals would only be as kind to webloggers as last summer’s big political conventions, they might even get someone to “live ‘blog” from the party.

Guns, Bombs, and Freedom, Northwest Style

Christiana Dominquez at the San Francisco Metroblog reads the London Metroblog and is inspired to ask her fellow city dwellers how they feel about increased public surveillance.

Up here in Seattle we’re at least as fond of our individualism and rights to privacy as they are down in SF, if not even more so, but for all the vague talk I still hear about how our privacy rights are being invaded and eroded by post-9/11 reactionary law, I haven’t had any first-hand experience with having my rights trampled. This doesn’t change my (negative, very negative) opinion of most portions of the Homeland Security Act, but I do wonder how invasive those laws are, actually, for the average citizen.

A friend reports seeing K-9 units in the bus tunnel [MSN article about increased security in Seattle], but I rely on public transportation daily and I’ve not seen any overt signs of increased security outside the tunnel. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t any–I’ve worked in the security industry and it’s amazing how discreet cameras can be. It doesn’t bother me to know that if I’m in the bus tunnel or waiting at a bus stop or even on the bus itself, I’m appearing on Metro’s own candid camera–I’m no more exposed there than I am when I’m walking through any local grocery or department store, all of whom rely on security guards and security hardware/software to monitor what’s going on in their stores.

What I wonder is how you feel about it, Seattle? Does it bother you to know that you’re being filmed while you wait for a bus? (Or, for that matter, while you check out the new fall fashions.) Have tightened security measured effected your daily life in other ways? I catch a bus in the morning near the Federal Building; even badged employees have to go through a security screen, including an x-ray of their bags–are these sort of measures in place anywhere else?

In NYC, you might be subject to a search just getting on the subway. Would you tolerate such a thing for the sake of safety, or would you object? We live with searches to board the ferry, attend a sporting event or visit public officials as it is–do you feel any safer with these measures in place? Do you feel as if your right to privacy is being invaded? Do you think a loss of privacy is worth an increased sense of security?

I’ve heard it said that anyone who would sacrifice liberty for security deserves neither, but I don’t think that’s quite fair. Is it possible to negotiate a balance between the two?

Dine alfresco for the downtown Out to Lunch Concert Series

Can you believe it’s August next week already? I dread thinking that half of the summer has swiftly passed, yet it inspires me to make the most of the other half of this splendid, sweltering summer season.

To enjoy today’s glorious 80-degree weather, for lunch, I didn’t dine inside a neighborhood caf

photographic evidence

Perhaps you thought that we were kidding about these monthly meet-up / happy hour / dinner events? Some may have doubted that people who write for a weblog would actually step away from their computers to face the harsh light of day?

For those disbelievers, perhaps a photo of Seattle Metroblogging authors, spouses, friends, and fans from Tuesday’s event at the Elysian will convince you to join us next time?

Surrounding the cupcakes: Joann, Shauna, Josh, Naiah, Ms. Andrei, Mr. Naiah, Andrei, Kelly, & Peter.

Gear Junkie: The All Purpose Camping Mug


You’d think that hiking and camping could be fairly inexpensive hobbies, but somehow that’s not how things work out for me. It’s almost as if there’s an unwritten Law of Camping Physics that requires that I spend a buttload of money at REI before every outing. In reality, the more serious I become about getting back to nature, the more my gear addiction grows.

The problem with REI is that the gear they sell is almost always really, really good. Sure, it’s expensive. Sure, a lot of it is frivolous. But I’ve almost never bought anything there that wasn’t durable, perfectly suited to its purpose, and — not unimportantly — aesthetically pleasing. In that sense, what you buy is a good deal even if it isn’t inexpensive.

All of this said, my absolute favorite recent REI purchase is this plastic Thermo mug. I had been needing a good camping mug and was very tempted by the Snow Peak Titanium Double-Wall Cup. However, I became a little disenchanted with this titanium marvel when a friend told me that it tends to get uncomfortably hot when you fill it with hot liquids, despite the double-wall construction. That, and the fact that it costs $37.95! Looking for another option, I discovered the Thermo mug, far more moderately priced — only $3.95 when I bought it, but since raised to $4.50 — and at 6 ounces only 1.8 ounces heavier than its titanium counterpart.

Immediately after buying my Thermo mug, I had the barrista who works the REI coffee stand make me an americano in it. He was worried that the hot water would shatter the plastic, but the mug survived this ordeal — and the outside stayed cool to the touch!

I’ve since taken the Thermo mug on several camping trips and it has become my one essential utensil. Of course it’s perfect for holding tea and coffee, but I’ve also used it for oatmeal, soup, chili, cous-cous and curry, etc. It’s got handy ounce measurements on one side (perfect for making oatmeal) and seems to be virtually indestructible.

Before leaving for another camping trip this weekend, the boyfriend and I are going to stop at REI to pick up one for him. Which means we’ll probably end up dropping a buttload of money on other odds and ends that suddenly seem utterly indispensable.

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