The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

March 10, 2008

Totem Lake Mall: An Update and Info Dump

Filed under: History, Kirkland, Malls — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 11:28 pm

 Update:  Yeah, it’s still empty.  The fly-by-night ink store in the lower mall shut down and it looks like a small closeout store is currently occupying the former Grab Bag location for the time being, but there’s not much to report.  The City of Kirkland hasn’t reported anything  new with regards to the redevelopment plans, and the DDR webpage for the mall hasn’t even bothered to update to reflect the closing of the CompUSA store more than a year ago. 

With that out of the way, I would like to go ahead and give a quick summary of what I have been able to learn so far with regards to the history of this mall.  When I originally wrote my Totem Lake Mall profile, just about all I had to work with was a mostly empty mall sitting in the middle of Kirkland and a few random facts from a Wikipedia article.  Since I wrote that post, it has become one of the more popular ones on my Blog, since information on this mall seems to be rather scarce on the Web.  Since then, I have begun doing some research into the mall and its history in order to show the mall in better days, and give some more insight into how the property has reached its present state.  I intend to do the same with the other malls in the area (I am trying to collect info on the history of Crossroads now, although I haven’t found a lot there yet.  Factoria Mall and Bellevue Square will come later.)  Most of what I have found so far has come from some (admittedly brief) searching in microfilm archives from the East Side Journal, which was a weekly newspaper based out of Kirkland at the time.  The summary can be found after the jump.

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How Do I Say “Carbon Offsets” in French?

Filed under: Culture — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 2:46 pm

If you’re an environmentalist these days, it probably doesn’t take a whole lot to convince you that the planet is headed for some form of unspecified generic Eschaton in a pollutant spewing hydrocarbon handbasket.  Sure, you might be living in an Earth-friendly yurt made out of recycled fair trade organic hemp and biking 150 miles a day to work and back, but what about all those other people who have the audacity to actually enjoy the conveniences of modern society?  There has to be some way to convince them to see the error of their ways, but since the last street corner protest ended with a trip to jail on an indecent exposure charge, some other approach is going to be needed. 

The good news for local commuters is that in an effort to get people out of their single-occupant vehicles and into other more Earth-friendly forms of transportation, the Washington State Rideshare Organization has begun offering a number of prizes for people who use alternative forms of transportation to commute.  On the other hand, the grand prize in this contest isn’t  exactly what I’d call Earth-friendly:

That’s right, you can help save the Earth and reduce your carbon footprint by getting out of your car for a couple of days (to enter the contest requires using some alternative to commuting in a single-occupant vehicle just twice during the contest period,) only to drastically increase your personal carbon footprint by flying more than 10,000 miles (roughly 5,000 miles in each direction) from Seattle to Paris on a CO2-spewing jet plane.  For that matter, just how many people would have to participate in something like this for the resulting reduction in carbon output to not be completely obliterated by the 3.7 tons of CO2 (according to the calculator on this site) generated by the round trip to Paris?  For comparison, that site estimates my car’s annual CO2 output to be just a little bit less than 5 (4.954)tons.  Based on an estimate that I will drive my relatively average (on fuel efficiency) car somewhere around 13,000 miles this year to generate those 5 tons of CO2, offsetting the carbon generated by the trip to Paris would require this program to result in about 9,650 miles less driving by people in order to break even on the flight.  That’s not even counting any carbon-generating activities that might occur during the 7-day trip, nor does it include any of the other prizes in the contest (which include a TV/DVD player combo, a couple of shorter weekend trips within Washington, and a number of various gift cards.) 

Although I tend to be skeptical about much of the current global warming hysteria going on, and I don’t doubt that there will be enough participation in the program to cover those 9,650 miles, I suspect that the trip is probably going to end up negating the majority of whatever benefit this program might have for the environment. 

What Was I Supposed to Be Excited About Again?

Filed under: Advertising — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 12:35 am

Let’s face it, even on a good day I don’t think you’re going to convince anyone that a bank is anything besides a necessary evil. Apparently that’s not going to stop them from trying though.  As part of WaMu’s latest ad campaign,  a number of these billboards have popped up around town:

OK, so I’m supposed to be excited about my bank, but these cheery but suspiciously minimalist billboards don’t seem to have bothered to explain why.  The decorations in the window of the local bank branch provide a little bit more context, which seems to be mostly in the “We’re not charging as many fees as we used to” vein.  Of course, if you’re already baking there you’re still getting all the same old fees and low interest rates that you were getting previously, which means that as a valued longtime customer, you are presumably still entitled to grumble quietly to yourself about one thing or another as you exit the bank.

I’m also guessing that WaMu’s investors aren’t nearly as excited as their banking customers are supposed to be, these days especially after they posted a 1.6 bllion dollar loss in the fourth quarter of 2007, mostly as the result of numerous subprime loan defaults.

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