There’s a very popular bike trail running through Seattle, that happens to start in my neighborhood and pass through the backyard of Omni’s building. The first day I rode my bike to work, I discovered that the western Seattle sky at sunset is a lovely purple. The second day I rode my bike to work, I fell off and ripped up my right hand into a bloody mess. I couldn’t even play my new _Gradius V_, _Guilty Gear Isuka_, or _Sakura Taisen Monogatari_. While it heals, I’ve been driving to work while listening to Robert Jordan’s _The Eye of the World_, since Jon fulfilled his end of the book-exchange by reading not only _A Game of Thrones_, but also the other two books in Martin’s series!
Archive for August, 2004
Here’s the graffiti on the walls of the Portland Coffee House, where I spent a morning trying to finish up a submission for Tokyopop’s Rising Stars of Manga contest. K of [greeneyes] wanted to enter, and I got the happy privilege of toning, translating, lettering, sound-effecting, laying out, printing, slicing, packaging, and mailing the entry. In all I think I spent about 40 hours on it over the course of about four days. It was a nightmare. : http://greeneyes.metalbat.com
It’s pretty surreal to see people you’ve always known in one context, brought into some other context you’ve always seen without them. Seeing Jeff Melody, a guy I always hung out with during high school in Chicago, here in Portland, where I have been exploring with Wisconsin friends, is one of those situations. Anyway, here’s a nice photo of a nice couple.
Back when I was still planning to move to Portland, my good friend Jeff and his girlfriend Jackie bought tickets to come visit me. So the weekend before I started work at Omni, I drove down there to hang out with them. Jeff and I had a good time reverting to our high-school-days styled joking, making fun of the _Macaroni and Cheese du Jour_ or discussing intricacies of video games while poor Jackie looked on helplessly. Here’s a nice photograph from our visit to the Oregon Zoo. Looking at all of the animals helped drive home some of the points in Dawkins’ _The Blind Watchmaker_, which I was reading at the time.
Uh, if you don’t know what this is, I don’t even know how to explain it to you. Anyway, I got the job.
Well, you are looking at the setting of my life for the past week or so. I was sitting outside the Apple Store using their AirPort network when an employee came out to have lunch. We talked a bit and he recommended that I talk to one of the other employees who had moved here from Chicago. I did, and she gave me some recommendations about neighborhoods to check out. I ended up wandering around Ballard, an old Scandinavian fishing town that has been assimilated into Seattle and has even turned semi-hip. I bumbled into an open-house on the third floor of this little building on an out-of-the-way street, took one look at it, and phoned the manager, who as it turns out was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Chicago. Within two hours I had the key in my pocket. After two trips to the hotel to move stuff and one trip to Ikea to pick up essentials, I was as settled as I’ll be until Hiroko is here. This is my life now. I’ve jumped through a couple of more hoops for Omni Group, and am still awaiting their decision. Piroko and I talk on the phone for several hours each day. Most of the rest of what’s been going on with me can be illustrated by purchases I’ve made, so I’ll list significant purchases I’ve made since arriving. * Dawkins’ _The Blind Watchmaker_, Luk Chun Bond’s _The First Sixteen Secrets of Chi_, _Fuyu Monogatari_ volumes 1 and 2, and (major score) the first two _Sakura Taisen_ comics, at Powell’s in Portland. * _Inside Bjork_ DVD, at the record shop across from Powell’s. * Comcast cable internet service. I could complain about their crappy service but I’m tired of complaining about big companies’ crappy service. * Futon, sheets, shower curtain, and wastebasket at Ikea. * _Shinseiki Evangelion_ vol. 8 comic, and _Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou_, at Kinokuniya in Seattle. * A Giant Cypress bicycle, which has helped me discover just how hilly Seattle really is. * Buckwheat-husk pillow, at some new-age bedding shop. * AirPort Express, at The Mac Store. Uh, I think that’s it.
Maybe the lifestyle or diet is getting to me, but this strikes me as really hilarious. It seems to me like someone commissioned [the Brothers Chaps] to design their silica gel packet. : http://www.homestarrunner.com
This car passed me as I was looking for a parking spot, and luckily when I got out to visit Uwajimaya I found it parked where I could get a photo of it. Apparently it’s for sale. I can only imagine what kind of story is behind this thing.
Peter and I drove down to Portland so that he could check it out for his own future moving plans. Having been there briefly before, I was able to show him around a bit. We stayed at an international hostel, which is something neither of us had done before. The atmosphere was very inviting and friendly, as if we were staying at a friend’s house. Here’s a guy preaching to some semi-disinterested people at Portland’s Pioneer Square. In the past week or so I’ve run into a lot of zealous Christianity: this guy, the creepy teenager-oriented evangelism show Generation Church on late-night Washington TV, the bewildering guys at [Christian Anime Alliance] (“We believe all other religions and religious movements other than Christianity are sinful and wrong.”), and the nearly-too-ridiculous-to-be-for-real [Dr. Richard Paley] (about OS X: “to open up certain locked files one has to … type in a secret code: ‘chmod 666’. What other horrors lurk in this thing?”), who simultaneously attacked Apple, probably my favorite company, and Richard Dawkins, now one of my favorite writers. Wacky stuff going on. : http://www.christiananime.net : http://objective.jesussave.us/propaganda.html
Peter found an Ethiopian restaurant listed in the first guide book I bought, and having seen something about it on the TV show _Arthur_ (“having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card,” etc.), expressed interest in checking it out. We made the long walk there and had a nice time scooping up piles of stuff with shreds of flat bread. I even had half a glass of Ethiopian beer, just to be able to say I’ve had Ethiopian beer.
Through 2000 miles and six states, hundreds of bugs gave their lives to our car’s front bumper, grill, headlights, and windshield. I wonder if a knowledgeable entomologist could reconstruct our trip’s path just from analyzing the layers of bugs encrusted onto the front of the car.
After the interview, I had some time to kill before Peter showed up. I eagerly latched on to a nearby cafe’s wireless network and caught up on three days of computer geekery. eBay transactions, e-mails, IRC friends, blogs, and loaded RSS feeds were waiting for me. The next several days we lived by bouncing between open wireless access points. When we first arrived in Seattle, though, and wardrove through downtown with a “ting” sound to alert us to open wireless networks, there was a ting every two to three seconds. This is an unwired town. In fact, this very shop contained eleven customers, _ten_ of whom were using notebook computers. By the way, I think I could get used to this whole Seattle coffee thing.
I was amazed at how much of Washington is just nothingness. It’s harder to tell from this picture, but while driving along this road it felt we were on a narrow strip of land extending out into emptiness, surrounded by emptiness, driving into emptiness. Mostly this is just a picture of bugs smashed into the windshield, though.
One of our more fortuitous stop-offs was in this Idaho town. I don’t think either of us had any substantial previous images of Idaho except that it produces potatoes, but wow it’s gorgeous.
This is Ghost Cave, one of three main caves at Pictograph Cave State Park in Montana. Artifacts have been found dating back five thousand years, and ancient paintings covered the cave walls. Sadly, vandalism and erosion have ruined most of the interesting stuff here. The rock formations themselves, and the stories of tens of thousands of years of human activity, however, were cool enough. Reading Richard Dawkins really gives me an appreciation for the huge time-scales over which life on our planet has developed. His books are about what is probably the most interesting and significant stuff in the whole world, or possibly the whole universe, so you might want to check them out.
MapQuest, in its infinite wisdom, told us to take I-90 east to Seattle. The phrase “east to Seattle” somehow didn’t seem quite right to us, and we stopped at a semi-abandoned cafe and rock shop in the middle of nowhere Montana. This dog came out and befriended us. Behind the shop was a house, and inside the house was a kindly old lady with a road atlas. She ran the shop until a local resident turned her in for having styrofoam in the ceiling. The cafe is shut down for now, but she and her husband make a living selling homemade lamps around the area and on eBay. By the way, the correct way to Seattle is I-90 _west_.
Apparently the badlands extend into North Dakota, and Theodore Roosevelt spent some significant years here. We took a walking trail that I’m surprised people are even allowed to use. It was interesting, exciting, and a little perilous; usually the general public isn’t trusted to take care of itself in such situations. After enjoying the views and the fresh air, we settled down for some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yes.
This is what much of North Dakota looks like. It’s pretty refreshing to see just how much of our country is still just wide open. Peter and I took shifts driving, overused inside jokes, fluctuated between silence and pretending to hate each other, and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Peter’s mom and aunt had provided us with a startling amount of food, random items of which we occasionally reached into the back seat and discovered. PBJ was our main sustenance for three days. We even used a Burger King’s outside table to have a PBJ picnic.
Last Monday night, I took a couple of hours off from work to say goodbye to local friends. I’d been feeling crappy since the night before, though, and ended up taking off the rest of my final night at work. The part of me that likes to believe in kismet thought my sudden illness might have occurred in order to prevent me from getting the job in Seattle. When I started feeling better while on the road, that same part of me thought the illness came just to get me out of my last day of work so I could pack up and still have time to rest. So the next day, Peter and I loaded my car to the bursting point and set off for the wild frontier. On our first day we made it all the way across Wisconsin and Minnesota, and well into North Dakota. We met a stereotypically cynical teenaged girl at a Fargo gas station. That night we parked at a Jamestown, ND gas station and slept in the car. Every half hour or so we woke up, thinking, “this is a bad idea”. Taking a picture while driving through a tunnel like this is pretty much a free ticket to a cool-looking photo.