Archive for October, 2007

Rainy Halloween

Jack O’LanternAs a former Alaskan, I have to observe that it just doesn’t feel like Halloween without snow.

More often than not, Anchorage celebrates a white, frigid Halloween. Kids either find costumes big enough to fit over parka, gloves, hat & winter boots – or just wear a really cool mask over their everyday coat.

The plow berm along the edge of streets & driveways is often a couple feet tall by the end of October, so there’s no cutting through yards. Parents shiver in the dark street as their sugar-fueled offspring dash up and down driveways. Pumpkins, favorite snack food of wandering moose, are frozen solid on front porches, and if it’s windy, the candles won’t stay lit.

The candy haul is usually self-regulated by the amount of time parents and kids are willing to brave the cold.

Now, in the wet green Puget Sound area, the biggest challenge to the Halloween adventure is the rain. Makeup jobs are especially vulnerable! Trick or treaters juggle a candy bag, a flashlight and an umbrella, and try to miss the biggest puddles.

My oldest is beyond trick or treating, although he still enjoys wearing costumes if the occasion is right. My youngest should be, in my opinion… When you’re 15, 6’2”, and shave before you put on your mask, you might want to think carefully about your evening’s plans. It doesn’t matter to him, though, a gang of kids from school are going and he’s going to tag along. He borrowed Bryan’s infamous Klingon gear and will be wandering around like a Star Trek extra.

I hope everyone has a great evening, with lots of cute, benign trick-or-treaters on your doorstep, a fun time with your kids, and all the chocolate you desire. Save the Mounds and Hershey’s special dark for me. ;)

Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 by Jeri
Under: holidays | 2 Comments »

New Office

Westlake ParkOver the last week, my office has moved. The new office is pretty fabulous- it’s in the white building right behind the plaza.

We used to be in the lovely and historic Smith Tower, on the edge of Pioneer Square. Because the building has applied for permits to convert to condominiums, each office must move out as its lease expires.

Project managing the details of an office move is annoyingly tedious, especially when your resources are limited. The various bits & pieces include:

  • lease details
  • the improvements and refitting of the new space
  • office layout design
  • the physical move
  • the fairly complex technical details
  • disentanglement from the old space.

We had a point person on the refitting, office layout and physical layout – and he rocked! My focus was the technical detail and implementation, which didn’t come together quite so smoothly because it was late getting kicked off and we had some service delivery issues. It’s almost done now – we’re just missing a few little details like a printer/fax machine (tomorrow). And Seattle dial tone. ;)

The location is lovely, in the heart of downtown, right across from Westlake Center mall and fronting Westlake Park. We have huge glass windows and can watch the fairly fascinating park happenings all day long. We see leaf blowing, downtown volunteers assembling, the fountain being turned on (and back off, when a prankster puts soap in it), goth kids, executives, homeless, transvestites, retail fashion victims, street musicians, preachers, drug dealers, and many, many pigeons. On Saturday (move-in day) there was a zombie march and choreographed Thriller performance in the park.

There is a fabulous coffee shop across the street in Westlake Center, Dilettante Mocha Café, with 8 different varieties of mocha. I highly recommend the 63% dark chocolate mocha – and will have to ration myself. The mall also boasts an excellent international food court with about 20 different small, inexpensive restaurants.

We are a couple blocks from Pike Place market, Pacific Place mall, the major downtown hotels, the convention center and the opera house. There are so many shops and restaurants in a 5-block radius I could live here and never send a dime of my paycheck home. I may be trekking across to work in-office more often – and my kids will be volunteering to go to work with me for the day!

Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: seattle, work | 6 Comments »

Random Musings

So, there was no Seahawks game this weekend, thus eliminating my usual blog topic. So what do I do instead? Random musings, sports and otherwise:

Pat Helmet1. I watched some of the Patriots game this weekend (52-7 over the Redskins. It wasn’t that close). Barring injury, the rest of the league is playing for second place and below. New England is that good. I declare this, knowing full well the Pats are playing the Colts this weekend, and both are undefeated, and that game is this season’s “Game of the Millennium”. The Colts are good. The Pats are better. I admit am saying this in the hopes that my endorsement is as good as putting the entire Patriots squad on the covers of both Sports Illustrated AND the Madden NFL video games. That’s extreme bad luck to all you non-sporty types.

2. Why is Jerry Seinfeld making an animated movie about bees being treated as the second coming? Seriously, I have nothing against the guy, or animated movies, or even bees, but come on!

gore_tshirt.jpg3. If Al Gore is on top of the world, ask yourself: why isn’t he running for President? Then look at Hillary, and ask who will be her Secretary of State, if she wins. You heard it here first – at least a high cabinet position for staying out of the race.

4. So the Red Sox win the Series in 4. Combined with the Patriots, this will make Boston sports fans insufferable. (I would mention the Boston Celtics looking pretty good as well, but I have banned myself from thinking or talking about the NBA – and not because of the Sonics. I was a Blazers fan. I think the NBA is a wasteland now).

Alton5. Heroes needs to step it up this season. Battlestar Galactica and Lost need to get back on the air, already. When The Next Iron Chef is the most compelling TV I am watching, something is oddly wrong. However, I must say Alton Brown joins his long lost cousin Seahawk kicker Josh Brown in the pantheon of the gods.

6. Lost and Mission Impossible III’s J. J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek movie reboot fascinates me (pun fully intended, Spock fans). Weird casting. Rumors of a Spock-centered, alternate universe theme. Paramount praying that between this and Indiana Jones and the Lost Bottle of Geritol (ok, ok, I can’t resist the age joke, but will cop to hoping that Indy movie is good), they can be a mighty studio again. My prediction for now is that the failure to get a true big name A-lister to be in the movie dooms it to mediocre box office, something I’ve harped on Paramount about for a long time…they refuse to spend bucks on acting in the ST movie series and then are pissed the films don’t do better money- and critic- wise. The biggest name in this movie is Eric Bana; that’s better, but not great. Also, why the hell is Leonard Nimoy in this movie, and Shatner, in the midst of the most unlikely career renaissance ever, not in it? I know, Kirk is dead. Yeah, right, so was Spock.

Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2007 by Bryan
Under: entertainment, sports | 2 Comments »

Museum of Glass

Glass ArtThis weekend, my good friend Barb was in town, and we went exploring.

On Sunday, we visited the Tacoma Museum of Glass. It was not what I expected, but it was fascinating.

There were three main rooms with varied glass art exhibits, plus a glass-focused gift shop. Some of the installations were amazing – my favorite was a 40 square foot spider web suspended from the ceiling, covered with clear glass bubble ‘dewdrops’.

The part that I didn’t expect was the Hot Shop ampitheatre, where the visiting artist, this week Lino Tagliapietra, and his team created glass objects, live, in front of an audience.

It was, as I said, fascinating. We probably sat there and watched, on and off, for a couple of hours. The process was so complex and intricate, we had no idea where the artist was going with the piece until he was almost completely done with it.

The artist had a team of 8-10 people working in various support roles, and his process included layers of molten glass, colored cane or fused bits, shaping, glassblowing, axis changes, stretching, and finishing, creating pieces with total clarity, intricate patterns and improbably fragile, graceful shapes.

If you’re in Tacoma area, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: seattle | Comments Off

Writing I Like – and Dislike

I recently read a great how-to book on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) – No Plot, No Problem, by Chris Baty.

In addition to wise and hilarious writing advice, he incorporated some good exercises. One, in particular, got me thinking. What are traits of books I like – and, on the flip side, what are traits of books I do not like. Identifying these should help me focus my writing efforts and avoid bad habits.

Characteristics of Books I Like

  • Humorous writing style
  • Complex plotting
  • Romantic chemistry or understated romance
  • Feisty main character
  • Older protagonist
  • Ordinary people who grow to become heroes
  • Fast pacing
  • Poignant or bittersweet plot points
  • Twilight zone spookiness
  • Music as part of scene setting
  • Complex issues, no-win decisions
  • A sense of poetry and literature
  • Introductory quotes for chapters
  • Fictional news articles and letters
  • Mastery of intriguing background subject matter
  • Clever technical extrapolation
  • Mind-expanding perspectives

Characteristics of Books I Don’t Like

  • Formulaic romance
  • Bad sex scenes
  • Excessive military action and detail
  • Focus on concept and setting rather than characters
  • Unsmpathetic main characters
  • Unnecessarily cryptic writing; need to decode story terminology & settings
  • Car chases. Westerns. Monster books.
  • Depressing ending
  • Violence to children
  • Stupid horror heroines
  • Urban fantasy – i.e. elves & fairies in the big city
  • Political or religious agenda that doesn’t serve the story
  • Stock funny, homely sidekick
  • Villains who are uniformly bad, rather than complex
  • Bizarre character names
  • Never ending trilogies or series that don’t serve as a standalone story
  • Use of regional or fictional dialect in dialogue
  • Using qualifiers other than “said” in dialogue, i.e. “she shouted”, “she admitted”, “she whispered, anxiously”.
  • Shifting point of view among many characters & storylines

Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 by Jeri
Under: writing | 5 Comments »