The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 26, 2010

A Tiring Ordeal

Filed under: Cars — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 12:42 am

 Of all the various parts of a car that an automotive enthusiast might like to talk about, tires tend not to be all that high on the list.  Sure, you’ll hear plenty about the stuff inside the engine, upgrades to suspension and handling, and you’ll probably even hear about the wheels, but chances are that you will rarely hear more than a passing mention of the rubber wrapped around those wheels.  Although the importance of having a good set of tires on your car cannot be overstated, tires are, for the most part, boring.  If you’re sitting next to some hot little sportscar at a stoplight, chances are you’ll pay attention to the wheels, but five seconds after the light turns green you probably wouldn’t be able to tell someone what kind of tires the car had on it if you were asked.  After all, from a purely aesthetic standpoint they’re pretty much just big black donuts of rubber that happen to go around the wheels.  In earlier years, whitewall tires were a common sight on many cars.  In fact The earliest rubber tires were all white rubber (as seen on the 1898 version of the Michelin Man above,) and black tires came later as carbon came to be added to the tread portions of the tires to improve wear.  Ultimately, as tires improved, the whitewalls became purely aesthetic (although desirable for luxury cars,) and eventually fell out of favor entirely, now being virtually nonexistent except on classic cars which originally used them.

For the most part, drivers don’t pay much attention to the tires on their cars until they stop behaving they way they’re supposed to.  Being stranded on the side of a busy freeway tends to have that effect on people, but more often than not tires will wear out long before falling victim to some random road hazard (in 13 years of driving, I’ve only had it happen once.)   It is in this situation that I recently found myself as the factory-installed tires on my car recently began to approach the end of their useful life, and it came time for the ordeal of shopping for a new set of tires.  I’d like to think that I have a reasonable amount of knowledge concerning cars and the stuff that makes them work, but I have to admit that when I started this, I was pretty much lost when it came to tires.  From the very beginning of the process you’re confronted by arcane sets of numbers and letters like 195/65R15 91H and 215/75R16-95v that, at least until you have the good sense to write them down somewhere, you will probably need to go back to the car, bend over and read off the tire again every time you get asked for your tire size.  Once you’ve got that, and figure out the 3 or 4 possible tires that a place has which will fit your car, you get to take a look at a bunch of big black things with seemingly random tread patterns on them, and pretty much no information to figure out which ones are any good.  A few particularly dedicated car junkies or tire design engineers who just happen to be out shopping for new tires might actually have some clue what they’re doing, but there’s a pretty good chance you will be neither of those.  If you aren’t feeling all that ambitious you do have the option of picking the one with the coolest looking tread pattern, at which point you might be able to skip a few steps.

So after a bit of random wandering around town trying to make heads or tails of all this stuff you can head for the Internet and figure out that for the most part, the good tires are the ones that no store  within 100 miles of here carries (at least not in your size, which you probably had to go out to the car and look up AGAIN.)  You’ll also find them a lot cheaper than you’d find them locally…  Well at least you would until you figure out that you need to add 40 bucks worth of shipping to the price, making the whole thing just a tad pointless unless the local places are really gouging on their prices (but at least sometimes they’ll throw some free beef into the deal to make it up.)  Usually you’ll also find out that those tires with the cool looking treads tend to suck pretty badly once you actually try putting them onto a car. 

Eventually you’ll find some reasonable compromise between price, performance and ratings, find some place that actually has the things in stock (or bite the bullet and get them shipped) and settle on a set of tires.  This doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet, because you still need to get them installed.  This usually involves a process of handing over your keys to some random guy with his name on his shirt and sitting around in a dingy waiting room with a staticky 15-inch TV playing college basketball for two hours (or three if you go on a Saturday.)  It seems that tire installation is one of those tasks that requires all sorts of deep voodoo that ordinary humans could not hope to comprehend (or at least a whole bunch of equipment that very few people are going to happen to have sitting around the garage at home.)  Even if you know the inside of a small block Chevy like the back of your hand, it is highly unlikely that you’re going to be able to mount, balance and align your own tires at home.  Even for the most dedicated of car nuts, there are still some tasks that are best left to the professionals.

And what do you get for all that effort?  Well, for one thing, you’ll probably have a wallet lighter by at least the better part of $500, if not much more (if you’re lucky enough to own a Bugatti Veyron, you can look forward to paying upwards of $38,000 for a set of tires, and more than $11,500 each for a new set of wheels at every fourth tire change) and you’ll quickly go back to not noticing the tires on your car for a while.  If you got a set of high performance tires, you might also be able to zip around the corners with slightly less risk of incinerating yourself or others in a horrific fashion while doing so.  All in all, it’s one of those things that has to be done eventually, kind of like going to the doctor and getting shots.  Not much fun now, but it prevents stuff that would be a lot less fun later on…

As for my car, I ended up with a set of these when all was said and done.  The tires that came on the car when I bought it (Continentals) actually handled reasonably well for the most part, but they were pretty much worn out after 30,000 miles, and they were also a bit on the noisy side.  So far, I think I have all of about five miles on the new tires, so I haven’t had a chance to really try them out yet.  If I get really bored and/or short on Blog material, I might post a bit more on this later…  And yes, that’s probably a threat.

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February 24, 2010

More Fun with Voiding Warranties

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 12:36 am

When you think about the ongoing advancements of technology over the years, the rate at which storage capacity has increased is particularly impressive.  It really wasn’t that long ago when the sizes of hard disks were still being measured in megabytes, and most of the larger hard drives (relatively speaking) sold for amounts of money that will easily buy an entire mid-range PC today (and that’s not even adjusting for inflation.)    For example, this chart provides historical pricing data on hard drives going back to 1986, and from this we can see that at roughly this time fifteen years ago, the best “bang for the buck” in terms of cost and size was a 540 megabyte drive at a price of $299.  At the high end on the chart was a 1.2 gigabyte drive, selling for $999, although at that point, a year’s worth of patience would have gotten you almost twice the capacity for just about half the price (in March of 1996, a 2.1 gigabyte drive could be had for $510.)  To be honest, I’m not entirely convinced of the accuracy of this particular set of data, since around this time I frequently spent a fair bit of time poring through the mammoth 800-page Computer Shopper Magazines around this time seem to suggest that gigabyte-sized disks were around several years before this, although at the time disks of this size were horrendously expensive, and required the addition of a SCSI card to a system, which by itself could be rather pricey.)  Nonetheless, disk storage at this time was nowhere near the prices and capacities we have available today.

The reason I bring this topic up is that this past weekend, I made a trip to the Fry’s in Renton in an attempt to find a fan to replace the one that had gone bad in my TiVo.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything suitable there (apparently they use a somewhat oddball 70mm fan size in the TiVo HD, and although you can easily find 60mm and 80mm fans, 70mm fans are nowhere to be found except in obscure corners of the Internet.  While I was looking at some of the various TiVo-related websites to figure out what the heck I was doing inside my TiVo  (besides voiding the warranty, of course,) I noted that the procedure for upgrading the hard drive in a TiVo had somehow managed become a whole heck of a lot easier than I remember it being last time I looked into the possibility.  Sure, there’s the official way of doing it by adding one of the two TiVo-approved DVR expander external drives, but those tend not to be particularly cheap.  The other alternative is to replace the internal hard drive inside the TiVo with a larger one, which isn’t too hard to do given the fact that the one built into the TiVo HD is “only” 160 gigabytes.  Back in the old days this would have been an unimaginably huge hard disk, but with all the stuff we’re throwing at our storage devices these days, it’s only good for 20 hours of HD recordings.  As a result, while I was down at Fry’s, I ended up picking up a new terabyte hard disk with which to upgrade the storage in the TiVo, at a cost of $90.  To put that into a bit of perspective, at those aforementioned 1995 prices, it would have taken a thousand of those 1 gigabyte hard disks at a cost of $720,000 to match the capacity of the drive I just paid $90 for.  And that’s not even counting the insane amount of hardware it would take to run all of those disks.  And you probably don’t want to think too much about the mean time between failures…

After I got home with my semi-unexpected purchase, I had to figure out a way to copy the data off the old hard drive from the Tivo onto the new one.  Thankfully, I’m well equipped for such tasks here, and aside from a bit of scrambling to find another serial ATA cable before I remembered that there was one in the box the new drive came in, the whole process was pretty simple (thanks to MFSLve) if not particularly pretty.

Once I got everything put back together, this is the end result.  I’d like to say that the whole thing went off without a hitch, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t, and that there might be a minor issue or two lurking about in there which still needs to be sorted out (not the least of which is the kludged-up fan hanging on by one screw until I can find one of the right size to replace the bad one.)  Nonetheless, the end result is enough space on my Tivo for 142 hours of HD programming.  Now I just need to figure out if there’s anything worth actually putting on there…

February 18, 2010

Sit Down, Shut Up and Hang On

Filed under: Seattle — Brian Lutz @ 11:06 pm

Source: Flickr user Atomic Taco, Creative Commons License

 As I discussed a couple of posts ago on this Blog, for the past few weeks I have been working in downtown Seattle.  I know I’ve been a bit light on posting here recently, although this isn’t because my life is exceptionally boring or anything like that right now (far from it in fact.)  I’ve actually got quite a bit of interesting stuff going on, it’s just that all of seems to be subject to non-disclosure agreements for the time being.  I’ll eventually talk about some of this stuff once it gets out into the general public.  In the meantime.  there are still a few aspects of working in downtown Seattle  that I am not all that fond of.  Perhaps the biggest one of these right now is the fact that it requires spending an hour and a half riding on the bus most days. 

Not that this is anything new to me.  Back when I worked my first tech support job in downtown Seattle I rode the bus to work daily.  Back in those days, I was generally getting on the bus at 6am to arrive at work by 7, so I spent most of my time on the bus sleeping (or whatever reasonable facsimile thereof I am capable of sustaining on a moving vehicle, which pretty much meant closing my eyes and pretending to be asleep.)  Although I’ve never been a big fan of the transit system around here, if there’s one thing they do well, it’s getting people in and out of Seattle.  Back in those days, the buses to Redmond went through the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, which allowed them to dodge the traffic and get around a lot quicker.  Generally, the ride would be on one of these busses, which are apparently old enough by now to be considered historic (although, based on some of the comments on these photos, “historic” isn’t the word most of their drivers would use to describe them.)  

Fast forward 13 years to now, when I find myself once again commuting daily to downtown Seattle and once again riding the bus on a daily basis.  These days, the buses are actually a fair bit nicer than the old ones I used to ride.  Of course, “nice” is a relative term when you’re used to doing your daily commuting in a three-year old German hatchback with seat heaters and the steering wheel in your hands, but the New Flyer buses they have these days are a definite improvement over the old ones I used to ride on in the Mid Nineties.  In fact, I’d say that the interior of the current ST Express busses seem to be more along the lines of an airplane than what you’re going to find in the standard-issue Metro bus, with things like overhead storage bins (that I’ve never seen anyone actually use.) individual lights for each seat and even reclining seats.  A number of them even apparently have wi-fi, although I don’t generally have any device that would actually use it besides my phone, which can just use its EVDO connection.  It’s about as nice as you’d expect to find in coach class on an MD-80, which isn’t saying much, but you don’t (usually) have to spend three hours sitting in one spot to get to your destination, and it’s not nearly as claustrophobic either.  The windows are also a whole lot bigger too. 

Then again, if you actually take the time to look out the windows, you might not necessarily like what you see.  Although most of the bus drivers are relatively sane, it seems that every once in a while you get one of the other kinds.  I suppose it takes a certain bit of brute force to get a one of these busses through the mess of traffic in downtown Seattle (especially the mess they’ve got on 4th Avenue, which is currently torn up throughout most of downtown for some unspecified construction project)  but on the few occasions I’ve found myself actually paying attention to the driving, I’ve not liked what I’ve seen.  It’s one thing for someone in a small car to drive through a stale yellow light that’s just about to turn red (generally not a good idea, but it does happen on occasion.)  It’s another thing entirely to do the same in a 40 60-foot articulated bus (corrected) with people already stepping into the crosswalk.  I’ve also seen drivers use shoulder (which I’m reasonably certain isn’t exactly a valid lane) to get around the east 520 backup heading into downtown Redmond in the evening.  Generally, there’s  no shortage of not-so-legal driving going on if you happen to pay attention.  Probably not “unlicensed bus drivers in India” level mayhem, but probably not quite according to the book either.  Most of the people riding the bus tend to have their noses buried in books or electronic devices of some sort, and don’t notice any of this (I swear that on some of the buses around here fully three quarters of the people on the bus are using iPhones, and most of the rest have Amazon Kindles.)  To be honest, that’s probably not a bad idea, given some of the alternatives.  

To be honest, if it wasn’t for the horrendous cost of parking in downtown Seattle I’d probably just drive (and on a number of occasions when I’ve needed to do some testing for a location-aware app, I have) Then again, at $5 per round trip on the buses, it’s not even that much more expensive to park than to ride (as long as you can get one of the lots with the before 9:30 rates,) and I get home a lot faster that way too, since unlike the buses, driving in my own car gives me the ability to actually dodge the traffic instead of stubbornly slogging through it and making a dozen stops along the way.  Especially with the aforementioned mess on 4th in downtown, there has been more than one occasion where I can get on a bus at 4th and James and it takes fifteen minutes to make it to Pine Street (Remember, the mnemonic for the streets in Downtown is “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest,” for Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike and Pine.)  Once I manage to get through that, there’s the usual messes on I-5 and 520 to deal with.  I suppose the fact that I don’t need to actually drive when I ride the bus (not that I’d particularly want to drive one of those)  does offset this somewhat, but spending an hour on a bus after spending eight hours at work isn’t exactly my idea of a fun evening.  

Still, I suppose I can’t complain too much about a little thing like an occasional bus ride.  Yeah, the busses can be a bit of a pain, but at least I do have the option to drive if I want, the work I’m doing pays pretty well, and I’m actually quite enjoying it too.  It’s given me a chance to work on some stuff I haven’t done before on platforms I haven’t worked on. It’s also nice having the opportunity to take full responsibility for testing on a product, instead of being buried three managers deep in a test team with half a dozen project managers punting all your bugs for arcane reasons and spending more time fighting the test automation than it would take to just do the testing manually.   There’s a time and a place for all of that (after all, if you’re selling high-powered enterprise class stuff with pricetags to match, the customers are going to expect there to be just a bit more testing than you’d find on iPhone applications selling for $5 a pop)  but to be honest, the whole process can get to be just a little bit soul-crushing after a while.  And getting a chance to get away from it all for a while is a nice little breath of fresh air.

February 14, 2010

There is a Story Out There For Everyone

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 6:52 pm

As is the case with just about everything else in my den/office, the small bookshelf over in the corner is a bit of a cluttered mess these days.  Yet among a pile of various technical manuals which may or may not be obsolete by now, some of the miscellaneous literary detritus I have accumulated over the years and the various software boxes that I happen to be saving for some unknown reason, there is one particular book that stands out.  Several years ago, my Opa (the Dutch word for Grandfather) wrote and published his life story in book form, giving copies of the book to every member of his family.  Although I have never read the whole story cover-to-cover, his story (as well as those of my dearly departed Oma and their children) is covered in detail, from growing up in a poor family in the Netherlands, living through World War 2 in Holland and Germany, then immigrating while maintaining a long-distance relationship with his future wife until they could finally be united in America.  It was there that they raised their family, moving around frequently and living in many different places before finally settling down in Federal Way, where the family has been based since the mid Seventies.  There is a lot in this book that I did not know about my Opa until I read this, and although we are fortunate that he is still with us at this time, there are many little details contained in this book that would otherwise be completely lost to us upon his passing.  I am grateful that I have this book, and that I will be able to share it with future generations.

Although there are a number of extraordinary circumstances along the way, I’m sure that when my Opa was living through all of these experiences, it is unlikely that he ever gave much thought to how all of this would look in print sixty years later.  Sometimes we’re just too busy living our lives and going through our everyday routines to realize that as we go along, there is a story that is constantly developing and unfolding.  Although there are some people out there who would dispute this assertion, I still believe this to be true.  While there are times in people’s lives where the plot may not be moving particularly quickly, as well as other times of great excitement or turmoil, over time a story develops, unwritten page by unwritten page.  Some people may tend to think that they have nothing interesting going on in their lives at times, but as I read through my Opa’s story, sometimes it seems that some of the most mundane details can become the ones which stand out the most.  Reading of some of my Opa’s travails in dealing with a series of decrepit old vehicles (a subject near and dear to my heart, whether I like it or not) or reading of some of the odd jobs that they worked over the years to try to make ends meet provide some of the most interesting portions of the story.  Of course, the big important details (immigration, marriage, having children and other such major events) provide the highlights of the story, but unless you happen to live in the middle of a big-budget action flick, chances are there’s going to be plenty of life going on in the middle of all that, and if you give it some thought, that life can be a lot more interesting than you might give it credit for.

One of my favorite TV shows these days is Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, in which host Mike Rowe meets with people who, as the intro to the show describes, make an honest living doing the kind of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us.  Throughout his travels, he performs a seemingly endless series of inglorious labors that many people would consider to be mundane or even demeaning, wisecracking his way through dirt, grime, mud, and more than a little bit of danger along the way.  In spite of the “dirty” nature of the work he performs, he often finds surprisingly happy people doing the work, including a number of people who gave up the 9-to-5 routine for this type of thing.  There is a TED talk that Mike Rowe gave a little more than a year ago which talks about this very subject.  I must warn you that the talk contains some pretty graphic descriptions of sheep castration, so I’d strongly recommend against eating anything while you watch this, but try not let that dissuade you from watching this, because he says some very interesting things here.  That said, you can find the video here.  In short, Mr. Rowe has managed not to somehow make the jobs that he performs and the people he performs them with seem more interesting than they are, but he has just managed to show us that a lot of these mundane tasks aren’t nearly as mundane as we might think.

This also holds true for forming new relationships with people.  If you think about it, whenever you meet new people and try to get acquainted with them, your goal is to learn what their story is.  Oftentimes this tends to be done in something of a roundabout way, but in essence, this is what you are ultimately hoping to gain from the conversation.  Some people fear that their story may not be interesting enough to share with people, but to anyone who thinks that, I would have to remind them that the story is still being written, and there’s still time to change the plot, the setting, and even the characters.  Not only that, but I think that people also tend to shortchange themselves on this one quite frequently.  You don’t need to be living the life of a millionaire socialite, a globetrotting adventurer or an action hero to have a compelling story.  In the right circumstances, even the most mundane things can be surprisingly compelling.  While it’s true that at times the story ends in tragedy or despair, or that sometimes the plot takes an unexpected twist for better or for worse, one can never truly know how things will turn out until they happen. 

There is, however, one story that I take a particular interest in, even though I don’t know it yet.  That story belongs to the woman who I will find someday, who will someday become my companion for time and all eternity.  I’m pretty sure if someone had asked me ten years ago what my life’s plans were, being 31 and still single probably wouldn’t have been included anywhere in the list, but for better or for worse, that’s the way things have worked out.  I’d like to think that I haven’t completely given up the search for the one who is to become my eternal companion just yet, but sometimes I do find myself wondering if I really am destined to try to complete my life’s journey on my own, fully aware of the consequences of doing so.  Even so, I do still have reason to believe that somewhere, there’s someone out there destined to have some slightly nerdy and occasionally scatterbrained  guy show up and completely rewrite the rest of her story.  I also tend to believe that I haven’t met this person yet, but if I happen to be wrong about this (as I haven’t been known to have the best record on accuracy in this department,) please feel free to correct me on that…

February 9, 2010

All’s Fair in Love and Merchandising: Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup 2010

Filed under: Holidays — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:00 am

Once again, it’s that time of year, when a young man’s fancy turns to love, and a retailer’s fancy turns to the prospects of painting everything pink and making a boatload of money out of the whole deal.  Yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner once again, and once again the shelves of the local shops are crammed with all sorts of pink heart-shaped merchandise, whole aisles filled with stuffed animals, and all of the supplies needed for a happy Valentine’s day (well OK, maybe not all of them, that stuff falls outside the scope of this Blog.)  And, as usual, the aisles of Valentine’s Day stuff at your friendly neighborhood megamarts contain no  shortage of odd, questionable, or downright regrettable selections of merchandise guaranteed to fill your Valentine’s day with awkward silence and vaguely threatening glares.   Sure, there’s plenty of odd and otherwise offbeat merchandise that accompanies all the other big candy selling holidays, but Easter, Halloween or even Christmas don’t come with anywhere near the sheer quantity of peril that can arise from the wrong Valentine’s Day gift.  In continuing with one of the very few traditions I’ve been able to establish on this Blog and actually follow up on every once in a while, I present this year’s Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup.  Hopefully in the process I might manage to actually save someone somewhere from making a huge mistake.  That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.  Without further ado, the roundup may be found after the jump.

You can find the previous two Valentine’s Day Kitsch Roundup posts here:

(more…)

February 1, 2010

A Fool For the City?

Filed under: Seattle — Brian Lutz @ 12:37 am

As anyone who has lived in this area for any length of time is probably aware, there’s always been something of a vague mutual antipathy between the residents of Seattle and the Eastside.  Although for the most part it stays below the surface, it doesn’t take a whole lot of goading to bring it out into the open.  A fair number of Seattleites seem to regard the Eastside as some bland suburban holding pen for uncultured yuppies, and Eastsiders seem to return the favor by dismissing Seattle as a tax-addled mess of urban crowding, traffic jams and expensive parking.  I’ll admit that under normal circumstances, I very rarely make the trip across the lake into Seattle unless I’ve got a specific reason to be there, which ends up being somewhere in the neighborhood of two or three times a year.  This hasn’t always been the case.

In fact, I actually worked in downtown Seattle for a year, back when I worked tech support out of high school.  Although I was never all that fond of that particular job, it was actually reasonably tolerable at the time, and didn’t truly start going downhill until after they packed up and moved the call center to Kirkland, where I worked another year (probably about six months longer than I should have stuck around there, when I look back at it.)  Although most of the issue was the degradation of the work environment  through a  combination of excessive productivity demands and an obsession with some vague concept of “quality” that resulted in some truly insipid policies, the location certainly didn’t help much.  Ultimately, I can’t blame the company for moving (after all, I suspect that 3 1/2 floors of downtown Seattle real estate can’t have been cheap, especially for a typically skinflint operation like a tech support call center) but the place they moved to seemed to have some sort of inexplicable soul-crushing austerity to it.  It also happened to be a far enough from any food or other services that at least 20 minutes of a 30-minute lunch break would be spent just getting to one of the four or five places within a semi-reasonable walking distance (I didn’t have my driver’s license until several months after the move took place.)  In comparison, the downtown Seattle location the company moved from had easy bus access, plenty of food choices, and a lot better scenery to boot (for much of the time I was there, I was on a part of the floor with a window facing out to Puget Sound.)  At the time, I was also working an early schedule which had me getting into the office around 7:30am or so (apparently I was a bit less of a night owl back then) which had me getting off work at 3.  Since I was rarely in any particular hurry to get home at that point, it gave me plenty of opportunity to wander around downtown Seattle and put together a pretty good mental map of the area, and to probably spend way too much time and money at the then newly opened Gameworks arcade on 7th and Pike (but that’s another story.)

Now nearly fifteen years later, I find myself (at least temporarily) working in downtown Seattle again.  Although a few things here and there have been rearranged, I’d say the part about this that most surprises me is that a lot of it has stayed pretty much the same in those fifteen years.  I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised that not much has changed when they’re working in a 120-year-old building (more on that one later,) most of my previous favorite places to eat are still there, there really haven’t been any major changes to the layout of the city of any of its major buildings (if they had ever managed to actually build the monorail they were talking about a few years back I doubt this would still be the case though) and the Seattle of 2010 bears a lot more resemblance to the Seattle of 1997 than one would have expected back then.  

Sure, working in the city does have its disadvantages (the choice between two hours of daily bus commuting or $12 of daily parking being the primary one) but it does also have its perks.  It’s definitely nice being close to things, and to an accidental amateur historian such as myself the Pioneer Square neighborhood provides plenty of interesting material.  On Friday, I got a chance to take the brief walk down to the waterfront for lunch, which is (almost) always a nice break from staring at a computer screen all day.  And if you manage to look up every once in a while, you can even get some nice views, such as this shot of the moon rising over the Smith Tower which I caught on the way home from work last week.  I know that some people don’t really care much for the city (at least not until baseball season rolls around and the Mariners start playing again) but I really think I could get used to working in downtown Seattle again.  Just don’t ask about the parking… 

Oh, and before you ask, this DOESN’T mean that I’m going to be browsing through Belltown real estate listings anytime soon.   It’s a nice place to visit, but I seriously doubt I’d ever want to actually live there.

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