The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

March 30, 2011

Random Thoughts From Life at Sea

Filed under: travel, Wanderings — Brian Lutz @ 8:57 pm

At sea, en route to St. Thomas
Position: 17 57.90N, 6430.7 W
Heading: 255.9 degrees
Speed 10.9 knots

The halfway point of the journey has now been reached, and since I have Internet connectivity in St. Thomas on my phone, I thought I would put together a quick post to keep the Blog warm. There will be plenty to write about once I get home, but I have been enjoying the trip so far. As usual, it seems like there hasn’t been nearly enough opportunity to just take some time to do nothing. Between the family, the shore excursions and the various activities aboard the ship, things have been busier than you would expect them to be.

With three days and two stops to make before returning to Fort Lauderdale (and another day after that before returning home) there is still plenty of vacation to go, but already it seems like we’ve been here for a while. Perhaps this is the fact that I haven’t had the opportunity to take a “real” vacation of much more than a long weekend in quite a while, but time seems to flow differently on a ship like this. Although there is usually plenty on the schedule, the only true obligation I have on a daily basis is a 6pm dinnertime. To be honest, a nightly four-course dinner can get to be a bit too much after a while, but the food has been pretty good, and we’ve got a good server in the dining room as well. In particular, tonight’s dinner was particularly loaded with excellent choices. Not really bothering to count calories at this point, mostly because I am not sure I would want to know the results.

Anyway, most of the details of the trip will be saved for my return home, but in the meantime, here are a few random thoughts on the trip so far:

-I seem to be having trouble finding many opportunities to go swimming on the ship. Between the sunburn I picked up on Eleuthera (don’t ask), the port and dinner schedules and the relatively early closing times of the pools, there just doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to actually go swim. Which is a shame, because the pools on the ship are lovely.
-The next time I start to consider playing Bingo, someone save me the trouble and just set 40 bucks out of my wallet on fire, OK? Granted, my aunt did win $400 the other day, but still…
-Come to think of it, I’m trying to figure out how I even justify gambling in the first place. Even at low limits, it mostly seems like it is throwing money away that could better be used elsewhere. I would enjoy playing some of the table games (Roulette in particular) if it didn’t involve so much money. of course, the “proper” strategies to reduce house advantage on these games are to play them in just about the most boring way possible.
-As of when I am writing this (as a local draft on my iPad) I have been completely offline since the ship left port on Sunday. And I haven’t really cared much about this, which is odd because normally I hardly go more than a few hours at a time offline.
-Does anyone know what day it is? I forgot.
-The sheer number of fake designer watches and handbags in St. Maarten is just plain ridiculous. Practically every other shop in Phillpsburg sells the things. And nobody been bothers trying to hide it either.
-I really wish we had more time in some of these ports. An eight hour stop is hardly enough to see much of anything, especially if half that is being taken up by a shore excursion.
-Whose bright idea was it to stick a Diamondvision right in the main pool area on the ship and fill it with stuff at blaringly loud volume all day anyway? I need to have a nice long chat with that person…
-The weather on this trip has been quite lovely. Don’t think I’ve seen a single drop of rain yet.
-Occasional faults aside, Where do I sign up for the next boat?

Once again, more later when I am back on land.

March 26, 2011

Fun With Insomnia, Sleep Deprivation And Jet Lag

Filed under: Fun With Insomnia, travel, Wanderings — Brian Lutz @ 1:49 am

You would think that with as much traveling as I have done over the years I might manage to actually get used to it at some point. Even though I currently have two different frequent flyer cards to my name, I would hardly use the term “frequent” to describe my travel habits. For that matter, “infrequent” is kind of pushing it too, Nonetheless, over time I have presumably accumulated enough time on airplanes and on car trips (not to mention the occasional cruise or two) to make it look like I have some idea what I’m doing here. That said, I’m pretty sure I am far from an expert on the subject. And it isn’t the vaguely entertaining comical ineptitude version of lacking expertise either. I mean. Its not like I go get chased by rhinos in the African veldt, cause international incidents by wearing the wrong pair of pants in an Italian restaurant or anything like that. Mostly i just forget things, carry around too much useless crud and occasionally overdo things and end up getting home in need of the proverbial vacation from one’s vacation.

As I write this, I am currently on the San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale leg of my outbound flight for the cruise, about 2,243 miles away and somewhere over middle-of-nowhere Nevada. Thanks to the handy screens they have here on the plane, I know all of that, as well as current ground speed, outside temperature (-73f) and what inflight movie options i would have if i wasn’t busy writing this and/or lacking the attention span required for inflight movies. Combine all that with inflight Wifi and an iPad, and I’m pretty sure i wont be getting much sleep on this flight, thus ensuring that I should be a barrel of somewhat dubious fun tomorrow morning. Oh, and i am also running on about five hours of sleep last night, and it’s a wonder any of the stuff i am writing rit now is coherent at all. Actually, for all i know, it may all just be blather anyway. I am typing on the iPad, so if it doesn’t make any sense I’ll just blame the hardware, same as usual.

This particular trip started off this morning with one of those awkward customer service calls that goes nowhere to Virgin America trying to figure out why I was supposed to not only pay twice for my checked bag, but to also go claim it at SFO, recheck it, and then go back through security. That didn’t accomplish much, so the next step was to post a complaint on Twitter, which got a surprisingly prompt response, although I soon learned that writing a complaint letter in 140 characters is a lot harder than it looks (and it looks pretty dang hard.). By the time I got that resolved it became a bit of a moot point anyway as my checked bag ended up with my parents (who had two checked bags included in their reservation) on a different flight. So when all is said and done I am flying to Fort Lauderdale through San Francisco, my luggage is (hopefully) getting there a couple hours later via Charlotte, and if I’m lucky enough with all that I may not have to wear a big oak barrel to Formal Night.

Aside from that, the travel has been mostly uneventful so far. The airport shuttle from the hotel near my apartment ended up being an Escalade, which sounds more luxurious than it really was (but I have to get my delusions of grandeur from somewhere, right?) the flight got delayed in Seattle by about an hour, but with three hours in SFO expected, that was no big deal. Not much to report beyond that , aside from a mildly regrettable meal at Sea-Tac. Oh yeah, I also have that old hippie song about wearing flowers in your hair if you’re going to San Francisco stuck in my head right now (and you probably have it there too now if you’re old enough to know it or listen to classic rock radio) but that’s a minor detail.

As noted previously, blogging will be light to semi-nonexistent for the next week or so (i will probably manage to come up with something in St. Thomas where my phone will have coverage) but there should be plenty on this when I get back. I don’t know if i am going to do one of those full excruciatingly detailed trip reports like I did for Disney World a couple of years ago, but there should be plenty of material to work with here.

Meanwhile, i have 1,893 miles to go to get to Fort Lauderdale, and I am pretty sure I won’t be sleeping for any of those. At least there are plenty of new and exciting ways to be bored in style on this flight.

March 21, 2011

Set an Open Course for the Virgin Sea

Filed under: travel, Wanderings — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 2:06 am

Finally, after several months of waiting and slogging through what passes for a Seattle winter, the cruise is now less than a week away.  In fact, exactly seven days from the time I am writing this, I fully expect to be aboard the Ruby Princess and halfway to Eleuthera.  Of course, along with being less than a week away, there’s also a whole bunch of prep work I have to do to get ready.  I’ve already made several updates to my Loud Tropical Shirt collection (living around here doesn’t provide much opportunity to put such things to good use unfortunately), and sent my suit off to the somewhat pricey dry cleaning service they have here in the building so I have it ready for the two formal nights aboard the ship, but there’s still plenty that needs to be done before leaving.  I’ve still got a week of work to get through, end-of-the-month bills to pay, a bunch of documents to print and stuff to get (and I need to figure out how to pack it all in the meantime), and I suppose  if I was good I’d probably try to get my taxes done before I go too so I can see how much I need to win in the casino on this trip (Editor’s note:  This is a really bad idea.  Don’t try this.  Ever.  I mean it.

I don’t think that any of these things are going to be anything I am going to have any trouble getting done between now and then, but it occurs to me that sometimes it can take a lot of work just to get ready to spend a week not really doing much.  In particular, the whole idea of having Formal Nights on the ship seems to set a lot of expectations that some people might not necessarily want to deal with on their vacations.  On the cruising board I’ve been reading a fair bit of in preparation for this cruise, I’ve seen that there are three particular topics that seem to generate heated debate:  Smoking in cabins, formal nights, and chair hogs on the Lido deck.  On one side, you’ve got the people who think that their whole cruise is going to be ruined if they have to look at someone who dares to enter the dining room without a tuxedo on a formal night, while on the other side you’ve got the people who think they should be able to wander in wearing t-shirts and flip flops and nobody should complain.  You can probably imagine the results.  In reality, from my previous cruise the average seems to be a nice dark suit and tie, which is how I plan to go.  I think they’ve only ever managed to get me in a tux once, and that was for my sister’s wedding reception.  Not that the result was disastrous or anything like that (well, at least I didn’t try to burn the pictures or anything) but I’ve never been big on dressing up, even though I can usually manage it when the occasion permits. 

But even with the formal night there are alternatives if you don’t want to participate (you can still visit the specialty restaurants on the ship in the “smart casual” dress that’s the norm for the dining rooms on the other days, or there’s always the buffet and room service if you don’t want to bother with those,) and the only truly “must do” activity aboard the ship for the whole entire week is the Coast Guard mandated muster drill that takes place before the ship leaves port.  It’s the kind of vacation that gives you options to do as much stuff as you want, or none at all.  Of course, as I’ve probably alluded to a number of times here, I am terrible at doing nothing when I’m on vacation, and even worse at not completely overdoing it.  You’d think that boarding a ship that’s going to be spending most of a week out in the open ocean would be a good place to just sit back and relax for a while, but modern cruise ships aren’t exactly the tiny little Love Boat type ships you used to find most lines sailing (a few of those ships do still exist, but they tend to stick to itineraries that are just a bit too exotic for the amount of vacation time I’ve got available right now.)  The Princess Grand and Crown class ships are all 951 feet long, 118 feet wide, and too big to fit in the Panama Canal (at least until the new set of locks under construction is completed.)  This means that if you’re on one end of the ship (the cabin I’ve been assigned for this trip is the second cabin from the bow on deck 5) and the other people you’re with are on the other end, it’s not going to be a trivial walk to get there.  One of the defining features of the Grand Class Princess ships is a Promenade deck that goes all the way around the ship in one continuous loop.  Walking a mile requires just three laps around the Promenade.  It’s a bit cliché to say that these large ships are cities at sea, but it’s an apt description.  There’s plenty to see and plenty to do to fill up a week without ever leaving the ship (in fact, on the two gigantic Royal Caribbean Oasis class ships, it’s apparently fairly common to have passengers just never get off the ship at any of the ports.)  Personally, I couldn’t see doing this (in fact, if there’s one fundamental flaw to cruising it’s that there’s just not enough time in some of the ports) but the option is definitely there if you want it.

All in all, a lot of how I plan to spend this trip is, even now, still up in the air.  However it happens though, you should be hearing about it soon enough.  Given the high cost of Internet on the ship, chances are you won’t be hearing much from me while I’m aboard (St. Thomas has Sprint coverage so I may post something from there) but there should be plenty when I get back.  If I ever actually decide to come back, that is. I seriously doubt it would ever come to that (cruising is nice, but I suspect I’d get sick of it sooner than later if I did too much of it) but if it did, at least the weather would probably be nice.

March 17, 2011

The Schlock of the Irish: St. Patrick’s Day Kitsch

Filed under: Holidays — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:14 am

As is the case with many of the holidays we celebrate, St. Patrick’s Day has its roots in religious observance.  The Saint Patrick from which the holiday gets its name (and at least traditionally, its purpose) was a Catholic missionary and bishop who has become the patron saint of Ireland, as well as a number of other places (most notably the cities of New York and Boston.)  St. Patrick’s Day is a feast day held on March 17th, which is generally believed to be the death date of Saint Patrick, and is recognized as an official holiday in Ireland, and is considered to be a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland.  Outside of Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day has become a decidedly more secular affair, which serves mostly as a celebration of Irish heritage and culture, marked mostly by the traditional Wearing of the Green, parades in many cities (Seattle included) and lots and lots of drinking.  Surprisingly, there is actually some basis for the tradition of drinking on St. Patrick’s Day.  Over the years, the day has served as something of a one-day break during the traditional 4o-day period of Lent in which various vices are given up in preparation for Easter. 

Although St. Patrick’s Day is considered to be a minor holiday outside of Ireland, in recent years a fair bit of merchandise for the holiday has begun to make its way into the stores.  Granted, the quantity is still dwarfed by what you’d find on the shelves for Christmas, Easter, Halloween or Valentine’s Day, but the stuff that’s out there tends to make up what it lacks in quantity with quality (of the dubious sort, otherwise it wouldn’t merit much attention here.)   And as you might imagine from the various St. Patrick’s Day traditions, drinking figures heavily into the various merchandise you’ll find.  How much so?  Find out after the jump.

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March 15, 2011

Random Thoughts: Spring, Um, Well Somewhere.

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 1:52 am

This evening, I’m getting off another (largely uneventful) weekend dogsitting stint for my parents, and trying to get my apartment back in some semblance of order.  I’ve actually got a St. Patrick’s Day Kitsch Roundup post in the works for later on this week (having said that, I suppose I should check and make sure I haven’t done one previously before saying that) but in the meantime, I’ll leave a few random thoughts to keep the Blog warm for a bit. 

  • Something tells me I’m doing this whole “Spring Forward, Fall Back” bit wrong.  Since the time change a couple of days ago, I seem to be getting tired earlier in the evening, rather than later as you’d seem to expect.  I suppose waking up to the Doggy Alarm Clock (see above) for the past couple of days may have something to do with it, but given the fact that on several recent occasions I’ve found myself taking nice long refreshing naps that just happen to have me waking up at 9pm (and subsequently up until 3 or 4) I’m probably just getting my sleep schedule messed up in entirely the wrong direction.  Something tells me throwing an extra three hours of time difference into the mix in a couple of weeks isn’t going to help matters much.  But, as I’ve probably been saying for way too long now, the resulting Fun with Insomnia, Sleep Deprivation, Jet Lag (and in-flight WiFi) should be EPIC.  I’m not sure if that’s meant to be an advertisement or a warning though.  Guess we’ll find out later.

Not naming any names, but...

  • Whoever it was that came up with those miniature shopping cart/basket hybrid things that have been showing up lately at a lot of the stores is a genius.  As a result of spending the last few days over at my parents’ place dogsitting, I found my apartment a bit short on food this evening and had to make a trip over to the grocery store.  I ended up at a store that doesn’t use these (or at least didn’t have any readily available when I was there) and when it became apparent that I had more than a basket’s worth of stuff I was going to need to get, I had to switch over to a cart (incidentally, you know I’m REALLY low on groceries when I have to start actually using a cart in a grocery store that isn’t Costco,) but it seemed the only type of cart they had on hand was the big industrial-strength type you’d typically use for hauling around 5-gallon buckets of mayonnaise at Costco.  Which, quite frankly, looks just a tad silly when you’re pushing one around a store with only a few items in it, which in turn means you have to start looking around for excuses to fill it up, and pretty soon you end up walking out of the store with a lot more food than you planned on.     
  • Today on seeing a news item about the passing of legendary jazz drummer Joe Morello, I went on Zune to listen to some of the stuff he played with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  Since jazz (Big Band in particular) is still a relatively recent entry to my music listening habits I can’t say that I was familar with any of the songs of the Dave Brubeck Quartet (although at least a couple of them resulted in “Oh, I think I’ve heard that before” moments) but the stuff certainly is interesting.  One of the signatures of the Dave Brubeck Quartet seems to be the use of unusual time signatures and odd rhythms, and it must have taken one heck of a drummer to keep up with all this stuff.  It’s the kind of music you have to pay attention to or you can get yourself completely lost, which is about the last thing you’d expect from easy listening jazz.  One minute you’re listening to a simple little tune, then without warning suddenly the piano will be playing in a completely different meter than the drummer, who apparently didn’t notice.  I know that if I was ever trying to play this stuff something like a random meter change would completely throw me off into the proverbial weeds, and yet Mr. Morello just keeps drumming like nothing ever happened.  I suppose I really have a lot to learn if I’m ever going to figure all this stuff out.  Fortunately, being able to pick up whatever you happen to be interested in and being able to listen to it right away is one of the nice things about a ZunePass.
  • Speaking of jazz, apparently living a block away from Meydenbauer Center means that I’ll be within easy walking distance of all the main performances of the Bellevue Jazz Festival at the beginning of June.  I should probably consider going to some of the performances.

  • In other goings on around town, a couple of weeks ago I headed out from the office to grab some lunch, and found this scene out in the parking lot near my office.  Apparently Food Network was in town filming a segment for an upcoming episode of Meat and Potatoes at the Skillet Street Food trailer that wanders into the neighborhood occasionally.  I’ve tried the place once some time ago, and the food was good but a bit too expensive ($13 for a burger and fries.)  Partially because I’ve been wanting to try it again and partially because of sheer morbid curiosity, I decided to hang around a bit to try to get some food, but I quickly learned that trying to get lunch from the place with all the TV cameras around it seems to be a good way to starve, and after about 20 minutes in line they ran out of food for the day.  Not sure when the episode is going to air, but I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.  Incidentally, I tried going back when they came around a week later, but when I got there a small kitchen fire had put them out of commission.  I still need to give the place a second try at some point, but maybe next time I’ll need to bring my own fire extinguisher.

  • Um, are there any teenagers out there who could translate this?  I haven’t got a freakin’ clue what any of these phones are supposed to be saying here.  All I know is that somewhere out there, there’s an English teacher who saw this PSA on the back of a bus and is now off in a dark corner weeping for the impending downfall of civilization.   

  • And speaking of disclaimers, since when do we need a disclaimer for this?  I suppose it is better than having the whole thing plastered with some sort of “WARNING: Contains sodium, keep 500 yards away at all times” warnings, but you’d think most of the pretzel-buying public would be able to figure out the bit where you need to have salt available if you wish your pretzels to be salted. 

  • OK, I think I’m ready for Winter to be done with by now.  How about you?  Almost there, just another week until Spring arrives.  Hang in there.

March 9, 2011

The Wrong Kind of Nerd

Filed under: Random Stuff — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:29 am

PLEASE NOTE: Blogger in photo may not be actual size.

 Through a set of circumstances that I have yet to fully comprehend, this past Saturday I found myself spending the day at Emerald City ComicCon at the Convention Center in Downtown Seattle.  Exactly why it is that I felt it necessary to go is beyond me, as I don’t think I’ve actually sat down and read through an entire comic book since roughly the Clinton Administration, but I figured that there might be a few things there I’d be interested in.  And there were, although somewhat surprisingly, less than I expected there to be.  

The headliner for this show was none other than William Shatner (who, as I found out at his panel discussion, is quite funny, but is also the type of guy who you’d be afraid to say hello into an elevator because he’d talk your ear off with some rambling story that would ultimately take an hour to get to the  “hello” in response.)  Also present among a number of assorted stars from various sci-fi TV shows I don’t watch were Jonathan Frakes and Brent Spiner, known primarily for their roles as Riker and Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I particularly enjoyed this discussion (these two can be outright hilarious,) but I do have to say that it’s probably a sign that I’m getting old to see the TV stars of my childhood up on a stage in front of a thousand people (with a significant portion of them in various costumes) discussing their recent colonoscopies.  Exactly what any of this has to do with comic books is beyond me, but apparently these shows have been moving a lot more in the direction of general entertainment over the past decade or so, and the really big one in San Diego is just as much Hollywood stuff as it is comic book stuff anymore.  Surprisingly, video games seem to have made little to no impact on the show here in spite of the obvious crossover between the two mediums these days, but then again, there’s PAX for that (the East Coast PAX is this coming weekend, but PAX Prime is still about six months out.  As usual, I’ll be planning to go to that one.)

Unfortunately, beyond the various celebrity appearances and the panels, I do have to admit that most of the show was lost on me.  Perhaps this is because I’ve never cared much for comic books, but even though there were a few things scattered among the crowd that looked interesting, most of it was  more than a little bit out of my league.  On one hand, I get the nagging feeling that I should really know more about this stuff than I do.  I’ve long been a fan of animated cartoons and other graphic arts, but when it comes to things like comic book characters, my knowledge is pretty much limited to what can be gained from a few bored sessions of skimming through various Wikipedia pages on specific characters.  Some of which have been lovingly crafted with the kind of ridiculously minute detail that simultaneously impresses the heck out of you and makes you wonder where the whole Humanity thing went so terribly wrong all at once. 

Although traditional comic books took center stage as you would expect, much of the show floor was taken up by tables populated by individual artists seeking to promote and/or sell their various works to the convention-going public.  Although the names in the Artist’s Alley included a handful of webcomics that I may have stumbled into a time or two, I mostly found myself lost among the crowd in this section, but overall the level of the work being shown was quite high.  Granted, by the time you’re at a comic book show and paying the presumably high prices of securing a table on the show floor to  promote your work there’s a pretty good chance that you’re not some random doodler who wandered in off the street, but it seemed like just about everyone had their glossy compilations, their professional-looking books and graphic novels and all the trimmings you’d expect to see from any respectable publisher.  I suspect that for most of this we have digital technology to thank. 

If there’s one thing that can be singled out ad the big important fundamental change that modern technology (and the Internet in particular) has made to our society, it’s the fact that it’s made it possible for anyone with enough motivation and a modest outlay of funds to be able to produce the type of work that only a couple of decades ago would have required a monolithic publishing company and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to match (and that’ assuming that the publishers will even let you in the front door.)  Thanks to the technological advances that have been made in communication and digital publishing over the past 10-15 years, those gatekeepers are now easily bypassed, with a number of self-publishing options for content creators ranging from on-demand printing to  just forgoing print entirely and publishing in digital form.  All this does, of course, still require an audience that will actually read (and hopefully pay for) your stuff, but the tools are definitely out there, and you can see that there are definitely people putting them to good use.  The big publishers are still out there and don’t seem ready to shrivel up and die just yet, but when you look at the big picture, you get to realize that the products coming out of the Marvels and the DCs of the world is, although still entertaining under the proper circumstances, just as much a commodity anymore as it is a creative work. 

So that’s the main takeaway that I got from the show, but if there’s anything else I picked up out of the whole experience, it’s that I really need to get back into drawing again at some point.  I’ve messed around with cartooning at various points in my life thus far (mostly little one-panel comics ranging from homages to Gary Larson and The Far Side to out-and-out shameless ripoffs of Gary Larson and The Far Side) but none of the stuff I’ve ever done really made it much past the doodle stage.  In fact, I’d be inclined to say that most of the time I spent on the stuff back in the day would have been better spent on other things, such as the Math classes I was busy not paying any attention to at the time.  Even so, if I spent enough time on something like this I could probably even manage to come up with something vaguely presentable.  Mostly it’s a matter of patience, something I’ve always been just a tad short on.  Maybe if I ever come up with something reasonable I’ll post it up here, if only to see how many people tell me I shouldn’t quit my day job.

As with many other areas in life, some things are just better left to the professionals.  Or at least the really talented amateurs.

March 3, 2011

A Sampling of Items Found on Downtown Bellevue Sidewalks

Filed under: Bellevue, Wanderings — Brian Lutz @ 2:07 am

Between walking to work and back daily and taking frequent walks around the vicinity of my office during my afternoon breaks, I’d say that these days I almost spend more time on the sidewalks in Downtown Bellevue than I spend on the roads anymore.  And for the most part, the scenery along the way tends not to change all that much.  Sure. the mannequin ends up getting dressed in a new set of clothes every once in a while, and on most weekdays someone fills up the newspaper vending machines with the latest reasons why we’re all doomed in 72-point bold headline type, but for the most part, things pretty much stay the same as they’ve always been on the typical path I take to work.    The same alley behind my building.  The same vaguely creepy “Look Better Naked” signs on the health club windows.  The same nondescript sidewalk next to the same nondescript office buildings.  It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re doing this twice a day every day.  But if something unusual appears along the way, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll notice it whether I’m trying to notice it or not.

Thanks to a little portion of the human brain known as the Reticular Activating System, there is a tendency in situations like this for things that seem out of place to command an inordinate amount of attention. which is probably why I’d end up laying awake in bed all night if I knew I left one of the kitchen cabinets open but was too lazy to go actually do something about it.    For better or for worse, objects that are out of place do tend to attract one’s attention.  Depending on the way one’s brain is wired, some people have no problem just continuing to walk on by without a second thought, but other people will see something on the sidewalk and have to completely drop what they’re doing and pay attention, at least until they can safely determine that it’s just another random bit of the cast-of detritus of an urban society.  Even for someone with a wandering mind such as myself I don’t necessarily think that this is always the case, but if something shows up that just happens to be bright and/or shiny, then all bets are off.

Given the fact that I have not found myself oddly compelled to wander aimlessly into oncoming traffic anytime recently, this probably turns out to be one of those harmless little habits, and for the most part, there really isn’t a whole lot to see anyway.  Most of the stuff you find on the ground while walking around here is the usual mishmash of wrappers, bottles, cans. cigarette butts (a LOT of cigarette butts.  Seriously, there are  piles of the things all over the place) and the occasional paper or two.  Every once in a while, something genuinely interesting does show up though, for a number of different reasons.  Sometimes something is just so out of place that you can’t help but notice.  Other times it’s something that you see at the side of the road and just know that it just has to have a story behind it, and on rare occasions you might even come across something of value, if not to you then to someone.  After the jump, you’ll find a few of the things that I have come across in my wanderings around Bellevue.

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