Sunday, September 30, 2007

This Week I Will Post Photos

This week's post is all about things you can see. That's right - if the title wasn't enough of a hint for you, I'll spell it out for you: P-H-O-T-O-S! I'm going to post them here! These are pictures I took during my first week here that didn't make it into the first post.


I'm gonna get all show-and tell on ya, dawgs. Not only am I giving you pictures; I'm giving you context. Am I a nice guy or what?
Here's the view from an overpass I cross on my way to town.

Take a few more steps and you see this. I'm not entirely sure about what city that is in the distance. My first guess was downtown Bellevue, but my roommate insists that it's Seattle.

Here's an exciting one. When I moved here, I didn't have any furniture, so I was on the lookout for garage sales, and this sign definitely caught my attention. I spent a few hours looking for it. Couldn't find it. I've now lived here for... what, five weeks? The sign's still there.

I don't know what this is. Looks like some sort of ordinary office building to me.

Oh, that's right! It's Microsoft. Or, at least, part of Microsoft. Microsoft rules Redmond.

And where do all the Microsoft employees live? Why, in beautiful mansions! This is a pretty standard example of the incredible houses that can be found here. You'll walk around see dozens of street signs for Private Road. It's not enough to have an amazing home, you have to have an amazing, secluded home. Still, with 75% of the people here working at Microsoft, not all of them live in extravagant palaces. Some of them live in the same apartment building as me. Take that, Microsoft! Your employees live in the same place as me! And I'm a poor college kid!
This is sort of a weird one. Before I moved here, when I was visiting my school's Website and talking to the people in my apartment complex's office, I kept hearing about the 7-Eleven across the street. Now that I'm here, I keep hearing about it, and I still don't get it. It's the most successful 7-Eleven in the northwest, so that's something. I guess. I've gotten a few Slurpees. They're pretty good.

This is my school. This picture's not very good. I took this picture and the last on my first night in Washington, when I was more excited about visiting my school than I was about taking good pictures. I'm going to cover DigiPen Institute of Technology more extensively in the future.

This is my Space Needle. I love the Space Needle.

It's so tall! What do they put under there? Besides pricey gift shops, obviously.

Duh. A pricey theme park. And what about that weird pink reflection?

It's coming from the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project museum. It's a tricky building to photograph. Clearly, I didn't get the pink side at all.

This is the Ronald McDonald-designed Super Size Combo museum.

This fountain is enormous! See those "children" splashing in the water? They're fully-grown adults; easily six feet tall. This fountain is the size of Pluto. To be honest, I wonder if it is Pluto. Like, what if Pluto fell out of space? And... and the government captured it a shiny globe and made to spray water? Right? That could happen, right?

Starbucks Stage. I can't wait to see a concert here.

All of the things between the first photo of the Space Needle and the Starbucks Stage are under the Space Needle, but there are plenty of cool places in Seattle otherwise. Even this picture of nothing is pretty cool.

Ocean + Mountains + Bike trail + Railroad
Me like.

This is... I dunno. It's the headquarters for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which is some newspaper I've never read. The top of the building was pretty cool, but I only took a picture of the boring part. Anyway... Jaime, you like newspapers, right? I'm going to pretend that I put this picture here for you so that all of the people who are exaggerating yawns and looking down at their watches will be tricked into thinking that there's some reason for these boring pictures to be here.

Aw, Lincoln Logs! I love Lincoln Logs!

A nice view.

This picture was taken from the same place as the last, but this time you get to see a naked statue fountain. Fortunately, this is pretty zoomed-out, 'cause in real life, I could see his statue-butt. Gross!

This is from the same spot. No butts.

If you click on this one and look in the middle, off in the distance you'll see Mt. Rainier. You'll also see a guy with a parachute. My camera's quality isn't great, so he looks like a parachuter and more like Gonzo in that fair scene from the Muppet Movie. Hey Gonzo, what are you doing? About seven knots!

A boatload of boats.

This picture and the next are of the historic Pike Place Market. I don't know what that history is. It's some sort of hippie mall.

Most of it was closed when I visited. Everything closes really early in Seattle. It's bizarre.

My city is so nerdy.

Here's where it gets really strange. Seattle is overrun with mutant pigs, but anytime you take a picture of one, it looks like an inanimate statue. No, seriously, though, they're everywhere and I don't know how much longer we'll be able to hold them off. Reports say that if we can't find some way to turn the tides soon, the mutant pigs will run Seattle in just four short years. Fortunately, one of the local weekly papers has proposed a solution.

The Seattle streets weren't very busy on day that I took these pictures. Then, early that night, the streets exploded with people. They poured forth from everywhere and they all headed in the same direction. I followed along until I saw their destination - Young Frankenstein: The Musical. It's gotten pretty rotten reviews, but that theatre is pretty nice.

You know what I like about Washington? Even my apartment's parking lot is nice.

This golf course surrounds my apartment complex. It's the place to go if you want rub elbows with Microsoft's elite.

I should eat lunch here some time. We're still in my apartment complex, by the way.

I live in a nice place, but my fountain can't compare to the radioactive steam-jets of Pluto. On the other hand, we don't have mutant pigs in Bellevue, so I suppose it's a fair trade.

Those of you who don't live in Texas may not be blown away by this, but having only recently moved from the desolate wasteland of Katy, seeing an abundance of green plants is astonishing to me.

A little creek. A couple things for the Texas residents to note: Not only is the water clear enough to see through, it's been outside for more than ten minutes and it hasn't evaporated. How surreal, this Evergreen State.

I live here. Wasn't Hampton the full name of the Porky-equivalent from Tiny Tunes?

Here's another Microsoft campus. I'll have to give you a tour of the Internet division some day. It's a great hang out. By the way, does anyone have Mrs. Nash's e-mail address? She'd freak if she saw where I was living.

Remember that stuff about me not having furniture? I meant all my stuff went on the floor. Messy!

That's the end of the tour. Next week I'll pick up with a look at my clean, furnished apartment. Well, uh, furnished. My stuff isn't on the floor.

Monday, September 3, 2007

One Night in Bellevue and the World's Your Oyster

When I moved, I decided that a good way to keep my friends and family up to date with my goings-on would be to start a regular blog. It turns out that living on your own for the first time in an unfurnished apartment and going to college doesn't leave as much time for blogging as one might expect. Still, I valiantly tried. What follows is my first attempt at a Web Log. Though unfinished, I invite you to take a look at this... well, rough draft, really. Please join us after the blog fragment for punch, cookies, and a discussion of what works, what doesn't and how future posting will be handled as a result.

Hi, hello, welcome. Thanks for joining me here. Please, take a seat, make yourself at home. Can I get you anything to drink? No. You sure? Good, great. Sooooo...


Alright, before we get down to business, let me get a few formalities ou
t of the way. I have lots of family and friends (Way more friends than you, in fact. I am a very popular boy.) who are living very far away from me and want to keep up with how I'm doing, so, simply put, this is my way of ensuring that everyone who's interested can keep up with how I'm doing. However, "everyone" is a bit of tricky word. In this case, it means, "only the people I invite." Some people have missed the invitation simply because I don't have their e-mail addresses. If you think there's someone I might have missed who would enjoy this blog, I hope you'll invite them, but please ask me for permission before passing along the web address (which you should bookmark right now, by the way). Sorry for all the exclusivity but, as you're about to see, there may be some fairly personal information revealed here and, though any Googler could stumble upon this page, I don't want to go out of my way to contribute to Stranger Danger. I could probably avoid this mess entirely by making the page Private, in which case it would be viewable only to approved Blogger users, but that would be a needless hassle compared to simply shutting your big yap and following my advice.

I swear I'll get to the good stuff soon. Just a few last notes.

For those of you unfamiliar with the blog format, after each post you will be given a chance to leave a comment. Please do! And if you do comment, be
sure to leave your name. I am pretty sick of writing a bunch of boring, unnecessary rules. I want to write about Washington life, so this is the last thing for now. There will likely be many links integrated throughout my posts. They may be informative, they may be entertaining, but they're probably not vital to your understanding of my ramblings. If you have some time to kill, click them or come back later. Otherwise, move on.

Now I am going to tell you about my first week in Washington. Finally.


This blog is primarily about my adventures in Washington, but the fun actually began even before I had arrived. My departure marked my first time to ride on a plane all by myself like a big boy, so I was pretty excited. I'm pleased to say that I had good time, though I'll admit that for seasoned plane passengers, the ride undoubtedly would've felt completely routine. However, as a relative newbie to the world of aviation flying alone, I made a few amateurish mistakes. For instance, I thought that I'd be allowed to hold on to a carry-on bag during the flight. It turns out that you're supposed to stow them in a closed overhead compartment, which was no big deal, but I had left the books I was planning to read during the trip in a difficult to access place. An inconvenience, sure, but I'm flexible. When an overhead storage compartment door closes, I open a window. I'm a guy who's perfectly content to turn on my CD player and watch the world pass below the plane. It would've been perfectly relaxing if not for this:

The wing was partially obstructing my view! Nuts! Oh well, the music was good, I could still mostly see around the wing, and the plane was filled with all sorts of fun stuff. I got to drink apple juice! I got to read a really boring magazine! They even had a TV on the back of each headrest! Unfortunately they were charging money for the chance to watch TV and movies, but thanks to MapQuest and a number of other sponsors, the TV could be tuned to a free channel that would allow you to track the planes location, altitude, and velocity. It was a fun way to see just how far and fast I was traveling and never tired of me asking, "Are we there yet?" It was also very informative, offering me an interesting perspective on just how little time I had to live when one of the engines spontaneously combusted and we hurtled to the ground in a fiery tailspin. Nah, I'm kidding. Seriously the most exciting thing that happened was this:

Pretty uneventful, really. Dull. We landed soon enough. Oddly, though, the TV still said we had an altitude of something like 5,000 feet. This was because I had a crossover in Denver, "the mile-high city", so even though the plane had landed, I was Rocky Mountain high. Fun fact: While searching for a Website to link, I discovered that John Denver sings a song called "Please, Daddy (Don't Get Drunk On Christmas)". Weird. So, I found the gate for my next plane, which was delayed for around an hour, so I sat in the terminal, just listening to announcements about the Homeland Security threat level (orange that day) and reading a book. The next flight was about the same as the first except that I had my book (Microserfs, if you were curious, which I finished reading for what I think was about the 15th time, though I lost count many re-reads ago) and my Game Boy Advance with a copy of Pokemon Emerald. What did grab my attention was the sudden appearance of Mount Rainier. It was incredible. You're just flying along and there's nothing out the window except for and endless carpet of great, puffy clouds, pure and white and soft and then suddenly - FWOOSH! - this enormous rock just shooting up into the sky. I really wish I would've gotten a picture. It's unbelievable.

My time in the Seattle airport was a little more comical and would've been fairly stressful had I not been so excited by the prospect of simply being in Seattle. I brought an fully-loaded carry-on bag and my guitar on the plane (just in case any sick little girls needed me to cheer them up) as well as two checked suitcases. These suitcases were very big, very full, and very heavy, and one had a broken handle. I tried stacking them, I tried dragging one and pulling the other, and I tried relaying them, taking one group of things about 10 feet and then running back for the other. I got some strange looks. After about half an hour of this, I finally paid three bucks to rent a large cart, which made pushing my junk around the airport easy, but I still didn't know exactly where to push it, since every person I asked gave me different direction to the shuttle that would take me to my new home. By the way, if you every pack your bags and set out for a new life in a new setting, let a shuttle take you there. Listening to a thirty-something shuttle driver complain about being a thirty-something shuttle driver is exactly the sort of contrast that will make you feel great about leaving your old problems behind and doing what you want to do.

The driver kindly helped me carry my things to the curb and tore off to find some lunch (he only had an hour before he'd have to pick up his next passenger) while I carried everything up the stairs to my apartment. This was it. I would finallysee my home for the next year. I knocked on the door. I knocked again. And again. No answer. I went to the apartment's office where I was told that someone had already been given all of the keys for my apartment. Great. I went back to the apartment to wait, eating Airheads (thanks Nina!) and playing with my camera.

View of my door

View from my door

It was probably less than half-an-hour before someone walked up the stairs and asked if I was Jake. It was the Robert and Peter's dad and, not far behind him, Robert and Peter, two of my three roommates. He let me in, I introduced myself to the twins, who go by Bobby and Pete. and I took a look around at the new space while they sat at the kitchen table with laptops. It turns out they had rented a pickup truck and had been spending the day searching Craigslist for furniture (which, I learned, had been the source of our very nice table and chair set.

So, there you have it. Let's start with the obvious: it's very detailed. It's wordy, rambling, and lengthy, and devolves into linguistic tail-chasing rather than proceeding forthwith to the point. As much as I enjoy writing meandering prose of that sort, it requires more time than I should be spending in the blogosphere, and you probably don't have the patience to read that much about me.

So, then, what to do? Well, I'm going to write less. This was written when I first got my computer, just a week or two after I got my computer. It had been an exciting time; I had lots to say, but capturing all of it was too daunting a task in addition to everything else I had to do (plus, Washington is a nice enough place that I chose to spend my free-time doing things other than sitting on the floor in front of a computer screen - did I mention that I didn't have furniture?), and the blog fell by the wayside. That's a thing, right? Wayside? It's not just a school? Wait, what was I talking about?

I guess what I'm saying is that I'll still write way more than is necessary, just because that's the kinda guy I am, but I'm going to keep my subjects concise. I'm going to shoot for weekly updates. I'll also keep to a single subject per week, as opposed to writing about
every detail of every week. I think I can do that. If that feels reasonable, I may add more. If it's too much, I'll do less. That's adaptability!