The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

June 23, 2010

A Stroll Through the Neighborhood on a Somewhat Sunny Summer Day

Filed under: Seattle — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:53 am

Much has been made of the relative crumminess in the weather department of the Spring that we have just finished relegating to the history books as we proceed into Summer.  In particular, the local weathermen have made frequent emphasis of the fact that we have yet to reach a temperature of 75 degrees at Sea-Tac Airport.  This seems like a bit of an arbitrary number really, but since we’re already nearly two weeks past the previous latest 75 degree temperature, apparently that means we’ve been getting shortchanged in the weather department or something like that.  Maybe it’s suppose to be some sign of the apocalypse, or doom-bringing climate change, or something equally calamitous, but although it’s true that we have yet to encounter a really warm day this year, there have been a few reasonably nice ones scattered around.  Yesterday was one of the nicer ones (relatively speaking) we’ve had, and with Summer officially here, I thought it might be a good day to go out for a little walk around Pioneer Square on my lunch break and snap a few pictures.

Sure, the neighborhood has its fair share of nightclubs and other loud entertainment, but in reality most of the time it’s a relatively quiet place.  As you can see, nobody would dream of making any significant noise before 7:30am…

Um….  Wait.  Scratch that.  (Mental note:  Sleep in.)

Speaking of the World Cup, apparently it’s kind of a big deal around here (having the Sounders as a neighbor probably has something to do with that.)  Sure there’s plenty of restaurants and bars one can watch the games in should they be so inclined, but a local group has devised this impromptu outdoor viewing area in an alley near Occidental Park, and used it to broadcast many of the games.  As you can see, it seems to be a popular spot.

Over in Occidental park, interspersed between one of the random art pieces that seems to pop up in the area every so often were these discarded signs, devised for some unknown purpose.

Over at King Street Station where there’s been ongoing construction for a while now, we see a somewhat rare glimpse of the exposed innards of an escalator from which much of the surrounding brickwork has been removed.  Not being all that familiar with what’s going on here, I can’t tell for sure if this is coming or going, but based on the apparent condition I’m going to guess the latter.

I don’t think it’s a big loss though; there seems to be no shortage of bricks to go around in the area.  In fact, quite a few of them still carry the remnants of some interesting ghost ads. This one on the back side of the FX McCrory Building, seems to be one of the more interesting (and surprisingly well-preserved) instances, but there’s a lot more.  At some point I need to try to get pictures of a few more.

Finally, at the corner of First and King we see this patch of new asphalt, which belies the mess on this spot just a week ago when the water main broke.  I actually think this might be the first new pavement that this part of First Avenue has seen since the Kennedy Administration.  The sidewalks aren’t in any better shape, but apparently those are historic (read: uneven as heck) so they have a convenient excuse to leave them that way.  I overheard one of the Underground Tours going by back when I worked at our old First and Yesler location saying that the sidewalks in the area are more than 100 years old.  I’d believe it too.  To avoid turning this into too much of a rant, I’ll just say that there are some things that age far more gracefully than others, and concrete isn’t one of them.

June 21, 2010

An Apartment is the Leased of Your Worries

Filed under: Bellevue, Random Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 2:37 am

Although I have been quite enjoying the job that I have been at for the past few months now, if there’s one thing I don’t particularly like about my current situation it’s the commute.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve ranted at least twice on this Blog about how much of a pain it can be to commute to and from Downtown Seattle from Redmond, especially by bus.  For the most part, I’ve stopped taking the 545 to and from work, and I now instead drive down to the Eastgate Park and Ride and take the 212 from there.  This makes for a much shorter bus ride by having a lot less stops (ironically enough, it makes one less stop than the ST “Express” bus along the same route),  but this approach still requires going through seven miles of traffic each way, and ultimately it isn’t much quicker than the other way, but at least I get to do most of the drive in my own car instead of on a crowded bus.  On the other hand, if the Mariners aren’t playing at home I can park in the Qwest Field garage for $5 a day.  This is as much as I’d spend on bus fare anyway, but it does require an extra 20 miles of driving compared to parking at Eastgate, nearly a half mile each way of walking from the car to the office and back (although this doesn’t bother me unless the weather happens to be particularly miserable,) and usually takes at least as long to get home as the bus does due to the traffic. 

To make a long story short, my apartment lease is coming up for renewal again, and it’s starting to look like some commute reduction might be on the agenda.  I moved into my current apartment five years ago back when I was still working at Microsoft (Man, that seems so long ago and a world away now, but in reality it’s only been six months since I was last working there,) and for the roughly 3-mile commute to Microsoft campus this place worked pretty well.  Sure it’s a bit rough around the edges these days and I think some of the appliances here are old enough to vote, but  it’s a decent amount of space, the grounds are very well-kept, and aside from needing to write a nice little nastygram explaining, with copious evidence, that they were off their proverbial rockers if they thought I was going to pay their 2008-level quoted renewal rate last year, I’ve not really had any issues with the management.  On the other hand I’ve had my carpets in here flooded by the upstairs neighbors’ leaky plumbing twice now, maintenance request responses have slowed down in the past couple of years, and quite frankly, a change of scenery might just do me some good, so even though I haven’t actually decided anything yet, I’ve found that once again it’s time to start at least looking into moving into a different apartment.

Now I’m not exactly saying that trying to find a new apartment is an ordeal on the order of, say, dental surgery or anything like that, but in the relatively short time that I have spent on this task, there has been a time or two in which I have suspected that Novocaine might have improved the experience.  For one thing, unless the particular apartment complex you’re looking at has a reasonably well-built website of their own, the vast majority of Internet apartment search websites out there range from terrible to utterly useless.  A search on one of these sites generally brings up a page containing just enough information to make it look like you might be able to get some useful info, but further investigation almost always reveals some screen at which you are prompted to register on the site so they can spam the living daylights out of your inbox ’til the cows come home provide more useful and detailed information.  Once you’ve completed the registration, generally you’ll be presented with all sorts of exciting new information that has absolutely nothing to do with what you happened to be looking for.  It turns out the stuff you’re looking for is on another website.  That doesn’t happen to be linked (or even acknowledged to exist) anywhere from the current website.  Or anywhere on the first three pages of a Google search, for that matter.  Add to this the fact that most of these sites seem to behave as though they were built by one of the “My Baby Can Code in VB!” classes at the daycare center, and all you tend to end up with for your troubles is another 27 messages in your inbox that need to be moved to the junk mail folder.

And then there’s  This particular site, which seems to feature prominently in the web searches for many apartment complexes, serves mostly as a collection point for alarmingly large quantities of petty grievances and frothing complaints about various “surprises” that were probably spelled out quite clearly in the lease they never bothered to read before they signed it.  That’s not to say that the site is completely useless (after all, if an apartment complex has 100 reviews and is getting recommended by only 8 of those you probably have a good reason to steer clear,) but when virtually every apartment complex in town seems to have at least a dozen reviews that consist of little more than two sentences of frothing vitriol, it’s kind of hard to take this stuff too seriously.  Should someone have the gall to do something as foolhardy as posting a positive review, they can be assured that within days there will be at least 2 anonymous comments on their review accusing them of shilling for management.  Needless to say, an appropriate grain of salt needs to be applied when taking this approach. 

While there are sites that serve as exceptions to the rules noted above, I have found that in many cases it can be shockingly difficult to get something as simple as a list of available apartments and rents for a given complex.  And it’s not like we’re talking about little mom-and-pop places either.  Even some of the big fancy Downtown Bellevue High-rises are impossible to find much info on.  Sure, one might be tempted to put those into the “If you have to ask” category, but the market for rentals in Downtown Bellevue is glutted right now, and I’ve found some places with apartments only slightly smaller than my current one which are much nicer (to be honest that doesn’t take much doing,) have some cool views and don’t cost too much more than what I’m paying now.  I figure that I’ll eventually end up writing those ones off into the “Delusions of Grandeur” category (at least until I can get my car paid off, which actually isn’t too far off at this point) and settling on something a bit more affordable and/or mundane around the Eastgate area, but I figure that as long as I’m in the market I might as well at least take a look.

To be honest, I’m not even certain I’m even going to move in the first place, or exactly where I’d end up if I did, but it’s clear that if I wanted to I could definitely get into a nicer place than what I’ve got right now.  Unlike with some things though, when it comes to apartment shopping, the journey isn’t exactly half the fun.  Half the trouble maybe, but definitely not half the fun.

June 18, 2010

Picture Dump: SoDo Uh-Oh

Filed under: Random Stuff, Seattle — Brian Lutz @ 1:53 am

One of the nice things about my new phone is that I finally have the ability to take pictures from my phone that don’t look like there’s half a jar of suspiciously pixellated Vaseline smeared on the lens.  That doesn’t necessarily mean I can toss out my regular camera; although the camera in my Evo is supposed capable of shooting 8 megapixel photos and HD video, in reality the results are still only so-so compared to my regular Canon point-and-shoot (although the suspiciously blue skies do add a bit of a nice touch.) but it’s a whole heck of a lot better than what I’ve been using.  This means that some of the random shots I take as I wander around actually even come out every so often.  In this post, I’m going to share a few photos from the last couple of weeks.  You will find these after the jump.


June 16, 2010

In With the Old

Filed under: Games — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 2:33 am

As you probably know if you have any sort of interest in video games whatsoever, this week is the Electronic Entertainment Expo (more commonly known as E3) in Los Angeles.  This is the one week out of the year in which all the  latest and allegedly greatest in interactive entertainment for the coming year gets shown off to the public.  Although the show itself is restricted to members of the industry, you’d practically have to live under a rock to avoid all the coverage in the various media, and as such E3 is quite the spectacle these days.  To be perfectly honest, I haven’t really paid all that much attention to E3 this year, but based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m not particularly impressed with most of what’s being shown.  I might elaborate on this a little bit later on, but the offerings this year seem to be heavy on gimmicks and light on content, and don’t really make a compelling case for the shiny new toys being shown off.  Then again, all the interesting stuff from E3 tends to make its way to PAX, which is now less than three months away, so I’ll hold off on getting too specific until then. 

Providing a stark contrast to all the new stuff down in LA this week was this past weekend’s Northwest Pinball and Gameroom show, held in a few conference rooms in an bscure corner of Seattle Center that I apparently didn’t even know existed until now.  As anyone who has been reading this site for any length of time knows, I’ve written a number of posts about growing up as an arcade junkie (much to my parents’ chagrin I’m sure) and lamenting the demise of the arcades.  Yet at the same time arcades are disappearing (a few scattered diehards notwithstanding) collectors have picked up the slack and gone to great lengths to preserve the legacy of the arcades.  By their very nature arcade collectors are diehards (you almost have to be, the space commitment required to collect full-size video games and pinball machines mandates that,) and by drawing upon the resources of local arcade collectors, a rather impressive collection of classic arcade video games and  pinball machines was brought together in one place for a weekend of old-school arcade goodness.  Once the (slightly steep) admission fee was paid at the door, all of the games were set on free play, so it wasn’t even necessary to worry about bringing quarters along.

The show was set up in two main rooms:  One for the video games, and one for the pinball machines.  On the video game side, all but a handful of the machines were made prior to 1990, making this a truly classic arcade experience.  In addition to the usual Atari, Williams and Midway fare you’d expect to find (and plenty of it,) there were a number of oddities on offer as well, including a surprisingly large number of 70s games, a couple of Cinematronics vector games (including Armor Attack, one of my favorites I haven’t played in years) and even an electromechanical game or two.  For the most part, the games were in original dedicated cabinets, and were in surprisingly good shape given their age, a testament to the efforts of the collectors that have in some cases gone to great lengths to restore and preserve these games.  Unfortunately, it does also tend to put my decrepit old conversion cabinet to shame…

In spite of the impressive showing of video games, it was pretty clear that pinball was getting top billing at this show.  A number of special guests (including some prominent pinball designers) were in attendance, and the pinball room included machines throughout much of the history of pinball.  Electromechanical Bally and Gottlieb machines dating back as far as the early Sixties could be found sitting next to the latest Stern games, with just about everything in between represented.  I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to play too many of the pinball machines (if I was a bit more patient I probably could have done so) but one of the highlights of the show was getting to play Nip-it, a Bally table from 1974, for the first time.  This table’s most prominent claim to fame was its presence at Arnold’s on the show Happy Days, but in my case, it was of particular interest because a number of years ago I actually did most of the coding to build a version of this table in Visual Pinball, a pinball simulator which I got involved in development for back in the early part of the last decade and built a number of tables for.  Although I did have a bit of help along the way from someone who owned a machine, I was glad to learn that although I could think of a number of tweaks that could use to be applied, I at least managed to get the rules of the table mostly correct.  Oh, and it still quite a fun table too.  Unlike some of the game’s contemporaries with their relatively lethargic ball action and minuature flippers with all the raw ball-pushing power of an asthmatic housefly, the action on this game moves at a relatively rapid pace for an electromechanical table (just don’t try to compare it to a Steve Richie table, OK?) and the Zipper Flippers (a rather short-lived Bally invention which causes the flippers to “Zip” in and temporarily cover up the center drain) add a bit of interest as well.  Maybe one of these days if I can ever get the table back into shape (it appears that Visual Pinball has some rendering problems for me on my current machine) I’ll put up a post with the stuff I’ve done.  I’m actually surprised to see that there’s still a rather active Visual Pinball community out there, so it might actually be worth doing.

All in all, the Pinball and Gameroom Show was a nice chance to reacquaint myself with some of the dubious distractions of my youth, if only for one weekend.  As tends to be the case every so often, I find myself briefly considering the possibility of actually getting a pinball machine once again, but that usually runs into cold hard reality pretty quickly as I remember that not only are the good tables expensive as heck, but I have no space for one (heck, I have no space for an arcade game either, but I didn’t figure that out until I got one.)  I’m trying not to let myself live in the past, but it is still OK if I visit every once in a while, right?

June 9, 2010

We Have A Blue Light Special on 148th?

Filed under: Bellevue — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 7:24 pm

Update 11/4/2010:  An article from the Bellevue Reporter today provides some insight on future plans for the Kelsey Creek Center, suggesting a target of May 2011 for a start to construction activity, and suggesting that there will be renovation of the existing buildings on the site to split the old Kmart building into smaller stores (with a maximum size of 65,000 square feet, roughly the size of a large grocery store)  as well as new construction of a third building.  It also mentions KeyBank as redeveloping the former Shell station on the corner (presumably into a bank branch,) although that site is not a part of the Kelsey Creek Center property.  You can find the article with more details here.  And by the way, the Chevron station which was vacant at the time I wrote the original post has since been renovated and reopened, but you probably already know that if you ever drive by there.

Some time ago on this Blog, I wrote about the former Kmart store on 148th in Bellevue, a store which closed back in 2002 and has remained vacant with few signs of life since that time.  Costco has now twice abandoned tentative plans to redevelop the former store (first into a concept grocery store which was to be known as Costco Fresh, then later into a more conventional Costco warehouse,) on both occasions being priced out of the property by a City of Bellevue zoning requirement for any new development in the Kelsey Creek Center to “daylight” the  Creek, a stream which currently runs underneath the property in a concrete culvert.  Not only would this requirement have resulted in an expense of over half a million dollars for the required stream improvements, but it would have also significantly reduced the amount of parking available at the site.  In short, these zoning requirements have basically made the site all but completely impractical to develop anything on.  That may be about to change.

According to this Bellevue Reporter article, the City of Bellevue has approved a zoning change to the Kelsey Creek Center site that will eliminate the requirement for a redevelopment project to daylight the creek by having Franklin West LLC (the property owner of the site) perform $585,000 worth of mitigation activities elsewhere on Kelsey Creek and on Larsen Lake (which the creek feeds into.) 

As you can see, the culvert through which the creek flows under the parking lot is far from a pretty sight, and I can’t say I’d blame the city for wanting to daylight the stream.  On the other hand, without the zoning change in question, it is highly likely that the property would just remain vacant for the foreseeable future, a scenario which doesn’t benefit anyone. 

In addition to the long-vacant Kmart store, there are now two vacant former gas stations on two corners of 148th and Main which have both closed recently.  The first one above is a former Chevron station (as should be fairly obvious from the colors,) while the second was originally a Texaco and later became a Shell (in fact, there used to be two Texaco stations across from each other at this intersection; the other became the 76 you see in the background,)  As you can see here, when Shell abandoned the station (and another on 140th in the Overlake area) they painted everything a uniform shade of grey to hide any signs of the station’s former heritage.  Some time ago there was a land use application sign at this location indicating plans to demolish it, although it is unclear what  will happen here.  The other station across the street appears has had some recent activity, although it is unclear if this activity is to repurpose the station, or if it is merely to dismantle it and remove whatever equipment may be used elsewhere. 

With the daylighting requirement on Kelsey Creek removed, a redevelopment of the site may actually become feasible, although it is not entirely clear at this point what interest there may be in the site if any.  As mentioned above, Costco has now twice abandoned plans for the former Kmart store, and with the proposed Redmond Costco store remaining in limbo in spite of having the required permit approvals in place, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll be trying again in Bellevue anytime soon.  Walmart seems like a slight possibility (aside from one Sams Club store in North Seattle there are no Walmart stores between Renton and Lynwood currently, and I suspect Mike McGinn would personally be leading the pitchforks-and-torches mob if they ever tried to put a Walmart in Seattle,) but I’d guess the possibility is remote at best.  Target had planned to build a new store as part of the now greatly scaled-down Factoria Mall redevelopment, but now seems content to stay put in their existing store there.  If I had to guess, I’d say that any project on this site would probably be a mixed-use development of some sort, possibly with an undetermined box store anchor.

At this point, I suppose anything would be better than what’s currently here, which is nothing.

June 7, 2010

How Much Phone Do You Really Need?

Filed under: Technology — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 12:22 am

It was about 16 years ago when my parents purchased their first cell phone, one of the old Motorola DynaTAC models that was the standard for wireless communication throughout the Eighties and the early Nineties, and is now widely known as being the “brick” phone of yore.  For at a height of 13 inches and nearly two pounds of weight you got roughly a half hour of talk time and eight hours of standby time.  As far as features went you had a seven-character LED display, the ability to store 30 numbers and…  Well, that was just about it really.  To be honest, cellular phones in the early to mid Nineties were not all that far removed from the first-generation phones that were first introduced in 1983.  It wasn’t really until the late Nineties that the first generation of what would now be recognizable as being “Modern” cell phones were released, and over the pass several years it’s become apparent that the market is moving increasingly toward Smartphones. 

On the other hand, I’ve already been using Smartphones for over four years now, starting with a Sprint PPC6700 purchased back in 2006, and later moving up to a Mogul in 2008, which was my phone up until just last week.  As you might have noticed from some of the grumbling I have done on this site about that phone, it was not in particularly good shape by the time I was done with it.  The battery had degraded to the point where I was lucky to more than about 4 hours of standby time out of the thing while I was at Disneyland a couple of weeks ago, and actually trying to use the phone would drastically reduce that to the point where just a couple of days before I finally retired it I ended up draining the battery on a 2-minute call.  In addition to the diminished battery capacity, I also found myself having difficulties with worn-out keys on the keyboard (which I suppose isn’t a big deal if you never happen to use any words with the letter “O” in them) and signal issues that would drain the battery even faster than usual.  I’m also quite certain I don’t have to remind any of my readers here of the notoriously blur-o-riffic quality of the camera on the thing (To be honest, that’s been a bit of a sore spot for a while now, but I eventually learned to embrace the mediocrity and just stubbornly post whatever crud came out of it anyway.)  In other words, it was long past time for an upgrade, and this past Friday, I was finally able to put my old phone out to pasture and replace it with the HTC EVO 4G, a phone that comes with everything but the kitchen sink, and will probably be adding that in the next firmware update.

As you might know from some of the stuff I’ve written here, I’ve been pretty stubborn about sticking with Windows Mobile long past the point where most people dismissed it.  Part of this has to do with the fact that I’ve spent time working on Windows Mobile and some of its applications at Microsoft, and part of it is the fact that I’ve just never really cared for any of the alternatives.  In fact, up until the point that I somehow found myself employed as a tester on iPhone apps I had managed to avoid the platform almost entirely, mostly because I’d prefer to avoid dealing with either Apple products or AT&T as much as possible.  In addition to the iPhone/iPad apps which make up the majority of my job responsibilities, there have also been a couple of Android apps thrown in (as well as a Blackberry app, but I’ll refrain from ranting about that particular platform for the time being.)  This has given me a chance to spend a fair bit of time using the Nexus One, a device released earlier this year as a flagship device for the Android platform, although it was rather quickly surpassed in capabilities by other devices like the Droid Incredible on Verizon and the EVO on Sprint.  Even so, I’ve been rather impressed by the Nexus One, and if not for the fact that a planned CDMA version for Verizon and Sprint was cancelled I probably would have seriously considered getting one for personal use. 

With Windows Phone 7 announced earlier this year, for a brief period of time I would have been inclined to wait for that to reach the market, but to be honest, even though I spent a bit of time working with it at MS before it was officially announced, I get the sneaking suspicion that the platform is, to put it bluntly, doomed from day 1.  For one thing, if there was going to be any chance for it to make any significant dent in the current Smartphone market it would have had to been out at least a year ago, possibly even more than that.  Instead, we’ll be lucky to see phones running WP7 by September, and I suspect by then there’s just not going to be a lot of people out there who don’t already have something that works well enough for their purposes.  Microsoft also has a history of building these types of things, announcing them in grand fashion with a lot of fanfare, then all but abandoning them shortly afterward.  I would like to be proven wrong about this and I’d like to see WP7 do well, but I gt the sneaking suspicion that the excessively long delays in getting it to market are going to ultimately leave it as being a niche product at best.

On the other hand, the Android device that the CDMA Nexus One got cancelled in favor of is one heck of a phone.  The first thing most people will notice is its size.  With a 4.3 inch 480×800 screen (compared to 3.5 inches at 320×480 on the various iPhone models, although the upcoming fourth generation iPhone is likely to double that resolution to 640×960,) an 8 megapixel camera (and a second camera on the front for video chat,) 4G WiMax support and other specs that generally put this device into “phone that  ate New York” territory, this phone is a beast.  So much so, in fact, that I’m beginning to wonder if all of these features are really all that necessary, especially in light of the fact that the EVO comes with one major checkmark in the minus column as a result:  The battery life leaves plenty to be desired.  Gone are the days when we could expect only the DynaTAC’s 30 minutes of talk time and 8 hours of standby, but modern Smartphones have definitely proven to be a step backwards from the previous few generations of not-so-smart phones on battery life.  Back in the days before I used Smartphones, I had a couple of devices which were easily capable of running for the better part of a week on a single battery charge.  With almost all of the modern Smartphones, having to charge your battery daily (if not even more than that) is pretty much considered normal anymore.  Although I haven’t figured out the absolute limit of how long I can go on a charge on my EVO, I’ve already seen the phone drop to below 50% charge in an alarmingly short period of time when I start using the data connection heavily.  This isn’t a new problem though:  notoriously short battery life has been an ongoing issue for Smartphones for at least the last couple of generations.  It’s quite clear that battery technology has not kept up, and I suspect it will be quite some time before it does so.  I’m sure they’ll manage to work this out eventually, but in the meantime, I guess I just need to stock up on chargers and hope I don’t find myself stranded too far away from civilization for a while…

As I said back in my younger, more cynical days, I suppose that being on the cutting edge of technology means you’re going to be left bleeding every once in a while.  Or stranded out in the desert, ehichever comes first.  At least now the final photos I take chronicling my untimely demise out in the wilderness won’t be blurry anymore…

June 6, 2010

Three Years and Still Hammering Away (Sort of)

Filed under: Site Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 3:18 pm

On June 6th 2007, this Blog was first created.  Somehow, three years later, this Blog is still around.  Although I have definitely been slacking a bit (well OK, a lot) on the Blogging lately, I’m trying to make sure that I keep posting at least frequently enough to keep the site from drifting too far off into oblivion.  As might be expected to result from a relatively low post volume, site traffic has been down somewhat lately, although it remains fairly steady at its current levels.  I suspect the fact that I have wandered a bit recently from the local interest coverage has something to do with this as well.  Although spending most of my days in Seattle tends to make it a bit tough to do too much stuff here on the Eastside these days, I do intend to try to get back into Redmond, Kirkland and Bellevue a bit more, and to try to spend a bit more time in the newspaper archives as well since I haven’t had much opportunity to do that recently.  Since I’ve finally replaced my old cell phone and its blur-o-riffic camera with a decidedly less blurry one (apparently someone at HTC finally figured out that focusing is a good thing) so I might actually be able to use it every once in a while without getting results that look like an explosion at the Vaseline factory.  I’ll have more on that in an upcoming post (assuming I don’t write 90% of it and leave it rotting in the drafts folder, that is.)

I’ll have more on that a bit later in another post, but in the meantime, I’ve put together the usual statistical overview of the site at this point in time, as seen below.  These stats are done mostly for my own benefit, so I can go back and use this info to track the growth (or otherwise) of the site.  I also like to have this data around because largely meaningless stats are fun, right?  Anyway, here you go:


  • Total posts (including this one:) 426
  • Posts since June 6th 2009:  87
  • Posts since January 1st 2010: 33
  • Total Comments: 662
  • Total hits since June 6th 2007:  140,450
  • Total hits since January 1st  2010: 23,822
  • Total hits since June 6th 2009: 55,090

Top 10 most viewed posts (Last year):

Retail Wasteland – A Tour of the Totem Lake Mall 6,143
Sampling the Whitman’s Sampler: A Guide to America’s Favorite Box of Enigmatic Chocolates  3,080
Classical Gas – Abandoned Route 66 Gas Stations 2,457
Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of the Factoria Mall 2,204
The Redmond Costco Moves Forward 2,166
A Tour of Crossroads Bellevue – Part 1: The Mall 1,636
My Very Nearly Award-Winning Chili Recipe, and Other Deep Dark Secrets 1,277
Malls of the Seattle Area: A Tour of The Everett Mall 1,249
A Brief Tour of the Bellevue Galleria, Bungie’s Future Home 1,068
An Early Look at the New Redmond Center 893

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who visits my site either regularly or occasionally, and I hope you will continue to do so in the future.

June 3, 2010

It’s the Happiest Filler Post on Earth

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 12:53 am


I had fully intended to put together some sort of long detailed post on my Disneyland trip, but quite frankly, my attempts to do so have thus far yielded little besides alarming quantities of drivel.  Since I think that one’s got a pretty good chance of heading for the Draft Queue of Oblivion, I thought I’d share a few more pictures from the park here.  You’ll find these, and a little traveler’s brainteaser for you to solve, after the jump.


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