Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sustainable Ballard Festival

Sustainable Ballard was a hoot. Yes, my experience was colored by my shift as a carnival barker, during which time I hollered at innocent passersby and danced with various incarnations of the Bag Monster. While wearing a plastic tutu. Volunteering with the Bring Your Own Bag Coalition - never a dull moment.

I am happy to report that the rest of the festival was also worth the forty minute bus ride. I spent a happy half hour perusing Re-Store's Booth of Wonderful Junk - I now have the beginnings of this year's amazing Halloween costume. I missed most of the cooking demonstrations, though I got to try some mighty tasty cider. And I was happy to discover that the Local Food Movement folks make nifty t-shirts, of which I bought two (they were that nifty).

There were other good things besides loot. Some of my favorite local organizations made an appearance: Washington Bus, City Light and their free CFLs, YES! Magazine, and People for Puget Sound. In the interests of full disclosure, yes, I did work for the last two at one point, but that just means I know that they're awesome inside and out.

If you couldn't make it this year, I'm sure they're going to have another one next year - if they've managed to pull it off five times, I think they can manage six. And you can see more pictures at the MyBallard blog.

Speaking of green festivals, Green October 2008 promises to make this coming month action packed. I was planning on going to the Seattle Bioneers conference anyway, but I guess I'll see what else I can fit in.

Friday, September 26, 2008

World's Smallest Protest

I was walking past Caffe Vita today when I saw the itty bittiest little picket line. It was just two guys with Teamsters on Strike signs standing behind the truck that was delivery green coffee beans to the Roastery. And the Caffe Vita worker going back and forth past the picket line to get the beans.

What have I gotten myself into

I have spent most of my evenings this week dropping off John and Summit Park donation letters with local businesses. I will be spending Saturday afternoon as a carnival barker in a plastic tutu for the Bring Your Own Bag Coalition. The things I do for love...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mmmmm, government bailout - a short rant

I understand why the government is doing the bailout. What I don't understand is why anyone, even if they're a part of the Bush administration, would think that it's a good idea to hand over $700 billion with no strings attached. To people who have run the economy into the ground, no less.

This is the country that won't help lower and middle class individuals who've gotten themselves into debt because the dominant rhetoric says that it's their own damn fault - no matter how bad that collective debt is for the nation's economy. And now we want to put the government even more into the red because some Wall Street cowboys thought the bubble would never burst. If I was going to fork over that kind of cash, I'd make damn sure that 1)this never happened again and 2)that I'd make a profit in the long run.

But that's just me. And I'm obviously way too poor to understand the complex workings of Wall Street and the global economy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Update from the last Parks design meeting

The good news and bad news from the last Parks Design Meeting

Good news: Design looks awesome!
Bad news: We now have to raise almost double the money we thought we did.

Seriously everybody, consider donating at the Unpaving Paradise blog. $150K is not a small amount of money. Although the UP folks (including myself) are a plucky and determined bunch, it's pretty obvious we can't just pull the money out of our butts. We're basically relying on the community to give a damn about this park. Well, that and help us raise some money.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Friday was National Park(ing) Day

National Park(ing) Day was the awesome. We had just enough people to make for a fast set up and take down, and in between the park looked great. We had the plans of the park out (both the no money and the we raised all the money options) and Mithun dropped off their cute little model for us to show off. The best part was the green - sod, an ass-ton of potted plants, and even a tree :) Sometime soon I will have pictures - in the meantime, check out Catherine Antsett's wonderful collection of National Park(ing) Day pics .

We also got press, but I'm having a hard time tracking it down - King 5 News, Fox News, and the PI showed up, and all I've got to show for it is a short paragraph in the PI. Argh.

Speaking of eco-theatre hijinks - I'll be at Sustainable Ballard this coming Sunday afternoon with the Bring Your Own Bag folks. They're still fighting for the bag fee since the Plastics Industry undid the fee legislation and made the city put it on the ballot, presumably later this fall. Anywho, they'll have a info and game booth, and I'll be the carnival barker. Just look for the chick in the foofy plastic bag tutu.

Oooh, I got hits!

It looks like my stickers are working...mwah ha ha ha ha!

No really - I checked my shiny new Google Analytics and it said people are coming to the site! Woot! And I got my very first comment - thank you, anonymous geek girl.

Also - if you click the tiny ads, you help me save up for grad school. Just saying.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We want more trees!

That was the gist of Sustainable Capitol Hill's street tree meeting. Our action plan is to map a small area (13th to 15th, Thomas to Mercer), tell SDOT about tree planting areas to target within the mapped area, and then pick out a tree planting project area for ourselves. That should work as a tutorial so we know what we're dealing with when we move on to the rest of the neighborhood.

Hurray for trees!

Density vs. Livability in SLU

The Stranger's POV on the proposed upzoning of South Lake Union: Losing that Space Needle view?

They bring up a good point - we do need to make sure that density doesn't cost us livability and neighborhood character. I'm still worried that Vulcan and the city actually want to go for the gigantic heights of the preferred alternative, which would leave the Hill, Queen Anne and most of SLU staring at giant chunks of concrete instead of the Space Needle, the Olympics, and the Sound.

I'll put up the SLU alternatives and a ton of other stuff once I get to a scanner...someday....

Trivia Night is the Awesomest

Just got back from Trivia Night at Clever Dunnes - much hilarity as always. Last week they had a round all about boobies. The best part is always the team names - cuz there's a bunch of hipsters with nothing to do on a Tuesday night, they get really inventive. They usually involve a joke about current events...the best team name the week before last was "Just the tip, Bristol, just the tip". Ah hipsters - is there nothing they can't laugh at?

My team endeared itself to the host by naming itself "Flash!(Aahhhhh-Aaahhh!) Savior of the Universe!" Apparently he really likes ridiculous movies and Queen. He played the song for us and everything :).

So many stickers, so little time

I got the idea in my head that I should advertise my blog. You know, so it won't only be me and my mom reading it - Hi Mom!

Anyway, I printed out an ass-ton of ad cards and stickers and have been putting up everywhere I go, which is mostly just Capitol Hill. The ad cards are pretty cool - they're sheets of rotary cards that my work was getting rid of. You know, the cards with the funny divots on the bottom that go on a Rolodex. They look awesome pinned to a telephone pole and they were absolutely free. (For some reason I feel like there's a dead baby joke in there. It must be my sister's influence).

The point of the story is that I really hope people see all these ad thingies and their curiosity is piqued enough that they come and check out the blargh.

That would be nifty.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I got prayer flags from Richard Gere

The International Campaign for Tibet sent me a letter asking for money. This isn't unusual at all - once I signed up with a couple of environmental magazines, every charity and foundation who wanted a buck started sending me junk mail. I looked through it - usual stuff, help us stop the atrocities against Tibet, please sign this petition, send some money, etc. Then I came across the part where they mentioned prayer flags. Sure enough, there was a tiny little set of prayer flags in the envelope. And then I looked at the signature on the ask letter - Richard Gere sent me prayer flags.

It's a good cause, but I think the real reason I ended up sending them money was because of the amusement value of their 'free' gift.

From Richard Gere.

So about those meetings...

The study and proposed legislation for a Pike/Pine conservation district looks very interesting. The idea is to promote development that fits in well with the present neighborhood structure, so it addresses issues like new development lot size, preservation of heritage buildings (75 years old and up), and inclusion of low-income/affordable housing. The nice people from the city said this was just the first piece, so I guess the next step will address signage rules that will discourage big box stores and national chains a.k.a. encourage local businesses along the Pike/Pine corridor.

The Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council (PPUNC) meeting also had a parking study on the agenda that I couldn't stay to hear about. However, I'll post up both reports once I get a chance to scan them.

As for the park - the design looks good. The urban meander theme has really worked out well, Mithun is including native plants wherever they can, and there's a good mix of garden space and park space. The only problem is that the community has to raise $112,000 if they want the plan as it is...otherwise all we get is a grassy slope. Sigh. National Park(ing) Day and our first big outreach event is Friday, so we're off to a good start anyway.

Tonight is another double-header - I've got to hoof is down to South Lake Union right after work for what is basically the "how do we want to densify SLU" meeting, and then back to the hill at 7 to hit the Sustainable Capitol Hill Street Tree Plan meeting. More community updates soon :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Meetings and more meetings

I just got back from sitting in on the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council and hearing about the studies done and suggested legislation that's coming up about a Pike/Pine Conservation District. Tonight I'll run up the Hill after work to Capitol Hill Presbyterian to meet with Lynn Sullivan of the Parks Dept. and my Unpaving Paradise partners-in-crime to talk about the development of the park-to-be at John and Summit. And then there's the public meeting for the same park right after that.

I am so tired.

Coming soon: details on all the neighborhoody goodness...

PAX Notes IV: Epilogue

These articles finally got published, so here is the very end of the PAX Notes....

PAX takes over Seattle
PAX: our yearly three days of awesomeness

...or it it?


Monday, September 8, 2008

It's good to walk through the city at night

Even though my feet hurt because I walked across half the city.

Even though my shoulder will have a permanent groove in it from my bag strap.

I love walking through my city at night.

There are some places in Seattle that remind me that however mundane my day might have been, this is still my bright city.

I decided to go to the International District after the Neighborhood Plan Update meeting(more on that later) because it was so close to city hall. And I wanted black bean buns.

I obtained the desired baked goods and wandered around Uwajimaya/Kinukuniya for awhile before I headed back up Jackson toward home. Jackson has great views of the the Harborview Building up on Beacon Hill. I know it's only a hospital, but it looks like an art deco citadel, especially when it's lit up at night.

I also like Jackson St. because it's beat up in places. Weeds grow up through the cracks and blackberries cascade down support walls so that the sidewalk starts to look more like an empty field than another piece of pavement.

I wandered home on beautifully neglected streets and stuck "Life on the Hill" stickers in easy to see places. An observation: self-promotion is hard work for my feet. But now I've got tiny little advertisements on 12th Avenue from Jackson to Pike. Here's to more blargh readers.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Save Views for Capitol Hill!

In case you're interested in the SLU re-zone:

There's an urban form alternatives open house coming up. The fancy phrasing just means that the Dept. of Planning and Development is going to show off their plans for redeveloping and densifying South Lake Union, including the one with the 400 ft. tall view-killing towers (grrrrr).

The meeting will be on Tuesday, September 16th at the South Lake Union Armory (Naval Reserve Bldg. @ South Lake Union Park), 860 Terry Ave. N. The event opens at 5:30pm with the plans presentation running from 6-7:30pm.

For more info, visit the DPD's SLU planning website.
To get on the SLU mailing list, contact Jim Holmes at jim.holmes@seattle.gov or (206) 684-8372

Let's build up South Lake Union! Or maybe not.

I've been hearing about the proposed upzoning and redevelopment of South Lake Union for awhile now. It was only recently that I heard how much this was going to suck for Capitol Hill. Building up South Lake Union is fine with me, but if buildings get above a certain height they block views of the Space Needle, Puget Sound, and the Olympics for the entire city.

The alternative that South Lake Union Friends and Neighbors Community Council (SLUFAN) has proposed to alleviate this, pin towers, doesn't work like they'd like us to think it does. All those needly little 400 ft. towers line up just right to block views just the same as chunkier towers would. Needless to say, residents of Capitol Hill and Queen Anne who are in the know are pissed.

It looks like there are some folks in South Lake Union that are pretty pissed too. In a design review meeting with the city last week, they showed their disatisfaction. A member of my neighborhood association attended - he reported that though the city was peeved at the uproar, DPD director Diane Sugimura said that'd she see what she could do about addressing the concerns of angry residents.

The new group made up of these angry residents, Lake Union Opportunity Alliance (LUOA), supports one of the alternate densification plan that was proposed by SLUFAN. The alternate plan calls for much more moderate height increases than SLUFAN's pet proposal, and results in an increase of population that's only a third of that of SLUFAN's pet plan. The moral of the story is: SLU residents don't mind growth, as they're not screwed out of their lovely views.

Interesting note about SLUFAN: The group has 13 board members, only one of which is required to be a neighborhood resident. And the last resident to hold that position, Diane Masson, was kicked off the board after she opposed SLUFAN's pet 400 ft. plan. Huh.

Interesting note about LUOA: This group is mostly made up of retirees who have bought condos in the massive Miranda building, a spanking new condo project on Denny Way. Ironically, the Miranda blocks views for its neighbors in more moderately sized buildings nearby. That said, these moneyed viewmongers might just have the resources and the fury to save Seattle from becoming another faceless and viewless metropolis.

Four and a Half Hours of Inappropriate Conversation

I just got back from my friend's party, which consisted of eating tasty peanut soup, making really inappropriate jokes, and laughing until we hurt. Some discoveries we made during the conversation were:
  • We need to make t-shirts with two women's bathroom symbols on it and a cup in between them, white on black print. It'll look cool, and the only people who will get the joke have heard the thing it's referring too.
  • Kapow Coffee is the only place in Seattle where you can get a South Lake Union Trolley t-shirt. I still can't believe that the city didn't catch the acronym before they released the name. I mean really - "Come on everybody and ride the S.L.U.T.?" It doesn't matter how quickly you change the name afterward. Everyone will always call it the S.L.U.T.
  • In the best company, poop and fart jokes are always funny. Always.
I just had to share some of that. It was definitely worth the bus ride to Sand Point.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Castle Crashers! Woot!

We discovered this game at PAX, and my roommate just bought it yesterday on XBox Live. Castle Crashers is amazing.

At first glance, it's just a normal sidescrolling beat-'em-up. Actually, at first glance it's frickin' adorable. Your characters are these cute little guys in adorable flat-topped little helmets. Everything in this game is tiny and cartoony and cute, even the big baddies.

So, yeah, sidescrolling beat-'em-up. Castle Crashers also has great graphics, amazing controls, and tons of re-playability. Although re-playability assumes that you can put down your controller in the first place - this game is addictive.

It's also really easy to pick up and start playing. I almost never play video games, especially beat-'em-ups, and I got sucked right into this one. It helps that it's so damn cute, but the controls are so good and easy to figure out that I just kept on going. I think my little green poison-power guy is already at level 7.

If you've got an XBox, go on XBox live and pick this game up. It's well worth the fifteen bucks.

P.S. Did I mention that the soundtrack is really great, too?

Something I forgot to say

Alternate title: "It's always worth getting up in the morning on Capitol Hill"

This Monday, I stumbled onto a sight of surreal awesomeness. Several, actually.

I was still recuperating from my PAX-filled weekend, and it was late morning when I made it out the door for food/caffeine. On my way to sustenance, I saw the first wonderous sight - art installations in the emptied buildings on Broadway.

A block and a half is to be demolished for the light rail station, and the Seattle Dept. of Transportation has kicked out all the tenants of the buildings on the said block and a half in preparation. To keep down graffiti and cranky neighborhood types, they've put art pieces in the empty storefronts.

Some of it's just posters put up to cover the boarded-over windows. There's also more elaborate installations, like the missile surrounded by a bunch of tiny stuffed tanks in the window of what used to be Twice Sold Tales (John and Broadway). My personal favorite is the installation at the former Chang's Mongolian Barbecue: neon signs in the window flash messages to passers-by like "Please Lie" and "Forget".

On my way back from sustenance, I walked through Cal Anderson park, where I spied a wedding party and a man in a rabbit suit. The wedding party wasn't out of the ordinary; the man in the rabbit suit in the wedding pictures with them was.

Turns out that there were a couple of people filming some kind of chocolate milk promotional video to put up on You-Tube...that involved a grown man and a guy in a rabbit suit playing on a swingset. Hmm. The wedding party ran into them and asked the bunny-man to be in some of the wedding photos. There's no accounting for taste.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Job :D

I just accepted a job at an environmental engineering firm last Friday. It's nothing super amazing, since I'm a B.A. and not a B.S., but after two years I finally have something in my field. Hurray! Eco-goodness!

Here's something perverse: my last day at my current job is Sept. 11th. Weird.


I picked up the Seattle Concious Choice magazine and their definition this issue made me giggle:

{me-troh-spir-i-choo-uhl} noun

n. 1) An urbanite who practices yoga, maintains a healthy lifestyle, seeks to make the world a better place, strives, to have no attachments to material goods and is unabashed to admit he or she is seeking God or a connection to a high source.

n. 2) In extreme cases, a person whose worldview combines watered-down adherence to Eastern mysticism and full-blown consumericanism.

n. 3) A person who dabbles in pop spirituality

If you live in Seattle, you know someone like this. Or you are someone like this. I've got both.

Monday, September 1, 2008

PAX Notes III: The Return of PAX Notes

I'm going to have to go a little bit out of order here so I can relate the beauty and hilarity that was MC Frontalot's Saturday night show. (I was wrong, the Minibosses were not the highlight of the Saturday night concert).

First of all, MC Frontalot is hilarious. He's a nerdcore rapper - it's required. And he puts on a great show - lots of crowd interaction, completely spastic stage presence. His band gets into it too. He also completely endeared himself to me by singing two of his filthier pieces, "Yellow Lasers" and "The Pr0n Song". (Clickity here for lyrics).

Second of all, there were handpuppets. Everyone who managed to get into the Fallout 3 preview got tons of goodies, including handpuppets of VaultBoy, the Fallout series mascot (picture to your left). It is so godddamned cute when there's a crowd of holding their puppets all up at once, making them clap and dance around. Words can't express how adorable it was.

Third of all was MC Frontalot's mom. She was at the merch table. It wasn't that she was funny in and of herself - she actually seemed like a perfectly nice lady. Had an Obama button and everything. The hilarious part was the simple fact that a nerdcore rapper had his mom at the merch table. It was so perfect. There were so many completely inappropriate "your mom" jokes that (fortunately) went unsaid.

Let's see here...the last PAX bit I wanted to mention was the final round of the Omegathon. I missed the all the other rounds, which was a shame - I heard that the Jenga round was intense. In any case, the BF and I manage to get into the final round by merit of me needing to take a nap, so I figured I'd multi-task and wait in line while I did it.

The game was Vs. Excitebike - it's a BMX racing game that came out when I was about two. It ended up being a perfectly good last round game, except for the fact that Joey Gecko wiped out Fallout Boy by winning the first four races. Since all he needed was four out of seven races to win, it was over pretty quick. Watching Mike and Jerry play was cute, but Mike wiped out Jerry in four races, too. Where was the suspense?! The anticipation!?

The only reason I don't consider the hour and a half wait a waste of my time was because 1) I got to take a nap and 2) they gave us pipe cleaners to play with. I was very proud of my creations: I made a 2-D bunny and a 3-D tree which actually stood up on it's own. I still have the bunny, though I gave the tree away because it was a request from someone sitting next to us.

Final PAX verdict: I got way more than my money's worth from that $40 3-day pass. I am going to wrangle as many friends as I can into going next year. And I am definitely going to bring more caffeine.

Unpaving Paradise Logo

I wanted to show this off - my boyfriend's little brother was awesome enough to do some pro bono design work and made this logo for Unpaving Paradise. It's just so pretty! It actually makes me look forward to making posters so I can put the logo on them and put them up all over the Hill. I'm also hoping the official-looking coolness factor will make people want to give us a lots of money because it looks like we know what we're doing. :D

PAX Notes the 2nd

Dear God I'm tired.

PAX is kind of like the holidays - they're great, you're sad when they're over, but at the same time you're really, really happy they only happen once a year.

I have been dead all day today. I am very grateful that I had a third day in the weekend with which to recover from the rest of the weekend.

This is not to say that PAX wasn't freaking amazing.

Yesterday was great. The boyfriend and I got up early(ish) and hoofed it down the Convention Center to see Family Feud, PAX edition. The line was long, but it was worth it. This is due in part to the fact that I met a fellow geek girl in the line for coffee (BF was holding the place in line). We found her boyfriend, they came up in line with us, and we made two new friends. Hurray for geeky community!

Family Feud was hilarious. My favorite round was entitled "What to do when the power goes out". The answers were (in approximately this order):

2)Play handheld/ laptop
3)Play non-electronic games (cards, board games, etc.)
6)Have Sex
7)Stare at wall/cry
(Their wording was "pleasure yourself", but my wording was the answer the contestant gave. And it's funnier)

One of the contestants did guess "Go outside", but as you can see, that wasn't the answer PAX attendees gave. Ah, nerd conventions.

The BF and I also caught a Q&A panel with "Gabe" and "Tycho" (aka Jerry and Mike) of Penny Arcade. These guys are hilarious. As much as they claim they're really boring to hang out with, I still wish I could spend some time with them. Play some video games, drink some beer, and listen to them being really, really funny would be awesome.

Panel highlight:

Jerry and Mike were inducted into the Evil League of Evil (see Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog if you have no idea what I'm talking about). I am absolutely serious.

On the penultimate question of the session, the guy asking says that he has an urgent delivery for them, and asks to run it up to the stage. Jerry says sure, the guy drops off the envelope, and Jerry says that he'll take a last question. As Jerry opens the envelope, the guy he runs back to the microphone where he's joined by two of his friends. They proceed to put on mustaches and cowboy hats and start singing the Bad Horse theme/ Evil League of Evil induction song.

This actually happened.

It was amazing.