Reliable gourmet.

Saturday, February 22nd, 2020

At the southern end of Lake City Way, past seemingly endless used car lots and pot and vape shops, lies a culinary promised land:

Really yummy food in a very unpreposessing setting. Nice way to end our visit.

(Live) van life.

Friday, February 21st, 2020

I really need a picture for this post to be complete, but I’ve seen 6 or 7 apparent van conversions out here in Seattle where people have crafted various rolling behemoths into their day-in, day-out home. Often parked near the ocean or in an out of the way park, these mobile homes range from the deluxe to the scavenged-looking, and for some reason they seem to include one or more large dogs along with the young couple who have decided to live The Life Nomadic.

Today down by Golden Gardens Park I spotted an early-2000s Ford Van that had (to me) an obvious provenience: it was a former TV News ENG truck, probably one with a large mast (now gone) on top. Its initial conversion, from empty box to one brimming with TV gear, was done by Frontline Communications of Clearwater, Florida. Easy to tell: it still had the Frontline stickers and the large panel on the right side that engineers plugged cable after cable into…and the platform on top that they would climb on to point the antenna toward the microwave receiver at the station.

Now, it would seem, it is a home. Dog included.

Tonight’s topic.

Thursday, February 20th, 2020

A circuitboard for a really old minicomputer made by the Digital Equipment Company in the 1970s. Seen at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle.

I’m of a certain age that I know enough people who discovered communicating through computers and the internet roughly on the same timetable as me and for many of us, there was a prime moment when the thing called the blog was in fact, the thing. The idea that you could have your own domain and write whatever you wanted and you could reach a potential audience of untold…well, probably not millions. Probably not even thousands. But an audience! Humans! Clicking and reading!

Just as you are doing right now.

Sure, all kinds of much more powerful and flexible and sometimes quite Orwellian services made it easier to share what was on your mind or in front of your eyeballs at any given moment with a quick flick, twitch, or poke, but for sheer purity of presentation, this here blog thing is not a bad way to go.

But it’s not the late 1990s anymore, it’s the early 2020s, and the things people think about and the stuff they might want to “put out there” have doubtless changed. So I spent a few minutes scrolling and reading the words published by friends like Nancy and the fabled Kayak Woman, and of course, my favorite for so many reasons, Sammy. They put a lot into these discrete online collections of who they are, and as I read, I feel as if I’m spending a moment with them at the end of their day, as they pour a thought or two into a WordPress template and hit ‘publish’ with great satisfaction.

And, hmm. What’s tonight’s topic? What’s new in their worlds? Maybe their blogs are not so different over the years in tone and focus…just the particulars of the story have changed. And the resolution of the cameras have improved.

But topics? The continued decline of American society. The magic of a place close to their hearts. The triumphs and challenges of family and other loved ones.

Human things.

Frayed nerves.

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

Okay, this is the first democratic debate (of this campaign) I watched.

And there were indeed “fireworks”, as cable pundits would like to say.

First there was Mike Bloomberg, an easy target. In the first few minutes, Bloomberg was eviscerated by Elizabeth Warren over his stop-and-frisk policies and his general billionariness; she later challenged him on an ambiguous number of harassment suits held under NDAs. How many, Mike? Will you release the women from the NDA component? Nope, he wouldn’t.

After a Telemundo questioner pointed out that Amy Klobuchar was unable to name the President of Mexico in an interview, Pete Buttigieg piled on to Klobuchar making a not-invalid case about being prepared and informed. The senator looked (to me) as if she was more than prepared to violently remove the head of the former South Bend mayor.

Now they’re thrashing through climate change.

My takeaway at this hour remains: Elizabeth Warren is so smart. And I really like smart candidates and presidents.

Goin’ coastal.

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

There was a restaurant around the corner from our Atlanta home for a while with that name, with that exact punctuation. Yes, indeed, they had fish!

But I’m using the term this evening to mean that we have wandered away from Positively Atlanta and we’re looking here at Puget Sound, which means for many intents and purposes we’re looking at the Pacific Ocean. We’ve gone coastal, western style.

It was gusty and cool but very bright and sunny today. The sound had those windsurfer paraglider whatchamacall-them (the red shape out just above the water) along with Washington State Ferries and tethered sailboats and people walking their dogs along the pebbly coast. Quite idyllic, and the sunshine on the Olympic Mountains (in the distance, off to the west of Seattle) was just our visual icing on the cake.

Moog 2020.

Monday, February 17th, 2020

Spent some quality time this afternoon with nephew the elder, who is taking an undergrad course in Music Synthesis and Recording. This means he’s using technology to capture performances, to edit and quantize audio tracks, to layer beats and rhythms into something we’d call music.

He said today that the course started with early electronic music recording and his dad said “ah, like the gramophone?” And he got a blank look in return.

No, the early history of electronic music starts, well, in the late sixties early seventies, with those Wendy Carlos-operated cobbled-together systems (like the Moog synth), laden with patch panels and dangling cords and lots and lots of knobs, all to emit very very rudimentary tones. Sine waves and sawtooths at play in the garden of Mozart’s delight.

And, appropriately, the plug-in-rich music creation software our nephew’s learning on has some modules that actually emulate that functionality, right down to the simulated rack mounts and patch cords.

VCV Rack’s VST Bridge, explained by Patches!

He’s learning a jargon and techniques rich with allusions to the past old ways, and I sure find it entertaining to see him start to pull past tech and present tech together to create his future.

A day in Grit City.

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

I’ve been through Tacoma, Washington many times, at speed, on Interstate 5, where it seems like an industrial blur fronted by a Jupiter 2-shaped building called the Tacoma Dome perched on the edge of the freeway.

But today we went into Tacoma proper, to the Museum of Glass, a modern building with a conic cylinder of glass and steel along the waterfront. Really nice museum, with a ‘hot room’ (right in the conical part) where trained artisans pull molten blobs out of furnaces and shape them into decanters and pitchers and elegant glassware.

And in their very fine gift shop, where you can buy decanters and pitchers and elegant glassware and earrings, they had copies of Grit City Magazine for sale, shown here.

So…Grit City? Is that really what Tacoma’s called? Turns out it’s a long story, and this Grit City Magazine article tells it well, and, spoiler alert, it has nothing to do with cornmeal.

Points Nordic.

Saturday, February 15th, 2020

I had heard from, well, the internet and social media and all the modern ways that people “hear” about things, that the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle had a museum of all things Danish, Norse, Swedish, and Finnish…a veritable Nordic Museum, the National Nordic Museum, in fact.

The clean-lined modernist structure in Ballard held a collection of artifacts and stories of those who immigrated from the northern latitudes in Europe and found themselves scattered across the American landscape but (as one of the stories on the museum’s screens told), many were especially happy to end up in the Pacific Northwest, with all of its familiarities: climate and landscape and ways to make a living.

The museum’s neighbors include a lot of businesses and infrastructure that connect, directly and indirectly, to the sea, and that’s still a part, although a lesser one, of modern Seattle.

Seattle in 2020 is a more interesting and diverse city, with immigrants arriving from more parts of the world, and it was interesting to browse a presentation of what is just one immigrant group’s stories that forms the American mosaic.

Also, where else would you see a nyckelharpa on exhibit or see the dubious claim that rabbit-ear antenna was invented in Sweden…or is it Finland…or Denmark?

Posts published on February 23