Category: Seattle

The Internet ROCKS.

The Internet ROCKS.

I swear, I don’t know what I’d do if we’d never come up with this whole interconnected awesomeness thing.

I re-launched my business earlier this year, which involved picking a new business name. It was incredibly hard to come up with a name I liked that was also what my business needed, and I was so much better at it when I had help from lots of Twitter and ADN friends. People were so generous and pragmatic and willing to share their expertise. Plus, I found a couple great blogs with loads of helpful naming advice. I wasn’t able to shell out for those experts like I hoped to, but they were still incredibly supportive of me, and I know I’d go to them if I had to name a more grown-up company with a proper budget in the future. I learned so much about this entire naming field that I didn’t even know existed when I named my thing this time around. Which is clear, because that name and URL sucked, and they’re much better now. :)

IMG_3978Since the big rename and relaunch, I’ve predictably had many woes getting the technical details of my new website together, not to mention the graphical stuff that just totally loses me. My husband Grant has been my biggest helper in the graphics department, but the amazing Berklee has been a close second. He’s been ever so generous with his time and energy, throwing business card ideas and mockups at me faster than I can download the files. This was the final design*, in case you were wondering, although I plan to change the “consultant” terminology to something that better encapsulates what I actually do. (“Coach” is the closest I’ve got right now.)

Bryan Redeagle of Capsule DX offered to help me with web stuff, and he was so appalled by some of the shoddy code in my former theme that he just full-on wrote me a new one, all custom from scratch and designed to fix exactly the stuff that was frustrating me. He never charged me a penny, because we worked out a special deal, but mostly because he’s fucking awesome and he honestly just wanted to help (and wanted code to shine like all perfectionist programmers do). I can’t thank him enough, or recommend his work loudly enough. I’ve never gotten this level of service out of anyone I’ve hired for any project, except for the amazingly affordable florist at our otherwise overpriced wedding. Most of you who know me know that praise does not come from me unless it is sincerely deserved.

Marie of Code it Pretty has also been a very generous donor of her time and expertise. She already generously writes a blog that just helps people figure out frustrating web crap, and she’s so cool about chiming in when I have something tricky to solve. And oh, remember when I wanted to make that app? Well, it’s still in the works; I’ve had to kind of put it aside in favor of earning money via my main business. But Marie is weighing in about user experience and will probably help with an Android port someday.

Martin and Doug and some other generous folks all piped up wanting to assist me, which is fan-freaking-tastic and also incredibly generous. (Oh, and I never would have gotten in touch with them if it weren’t for Rob Rix by way of The Modern Scientist, who connected things via Twitter, and whom I met via Keith Bradnam whom I originally connected to because of some Marco or some 5by5 thing.) Oh, and I’m totally going to connect with Brandon Wright to make completely different apps down the road, because we just find each other awesome to work with and he reached out to me because of Quit.

Dude, even my ergonomics are improving, not as much as I’d like but still some. Fellow standing desk enthusiasts, from Lex Friedman to Kelly Guimont have chimed in about footwear and other tips for making my home work setup more reasonable, and Twitter-whining about various aspects of it has often produced helpful results. The most helpful thing of all, though, was a visit to the Fully showroom in Portland. I urge you to set up an appointment if you’re near there. Either way, some of the best recommendations  and price quotes I’ve gotten were from them, and of course I discovered them online.

Oh, and you know how I suck at being new to Mac? Well, of course loads of people have helped me out with that. Heck, Paul Holbrook sent me a PayPal contribution towards buying the damn thing because he could tell how badly I needed to switch, and Michael Clifford straight up bought me a license for Moom because he knew it would solve my problems. Oh, and the fantastic Jean MacDonald reached out, helped me get settled with some fantastic software, and has generally been insanely helpful and fun. So all those folks and everyone else I’ve mentioned and then some have just been so full of great links, tips, and advice. Let’s see, what other resources have I fallen in love with online, thanks to Internet connections? Mixergy. Marie Forleo. Heck, even Jenna Marbles inspires me. Laura Roeder. So many more I’m forgetting. But I never would have found any of those sources on my own!

And how did I forge most of these connections? Why, by listening to shows on 5by5 and communicating with that network’s general audience. A huge chunk of my most interesting Twitter following also grew out of me baiting Marco Arment into retweeting something useful or funny or silly or random I posted, and then following every single person who favorited or retweeted whatever that thing was. And you know what? That strategy has put me in touch with some of the coolest Internet pals I’ve met to date. I’ve had great conversations with many a jackal, and I’m also launching a podcast soon with Kai Davis and Chris Zaborowski.

And, of course, Quit. Most people who are bothering to read this know that I’ve called in to that show a good number of times, and that I’ve finally taken my online dating coaching business full time thanks in large part to the nudges I’ve received from Dan Benjamin, and to the inspiration that a number of shows on his network have provided. I continue to seek ways to make it more sustainable thanks to his relentlessly business-minded approach. And, of course, his shows inspired me, but so do the connections I’ve made from listening to them and appearing on them. I even got one (just one so far, but still) paying client who heard me first on Quit! Altogether, the social aspects of the Internet and of 5by5 in particular have skyrocketed my own success and happiness and ability to easily and quickly find affordable and effective solutions to at least 75% of my tech problems on this earth.

Lastly, I made many of these connections happen because of my own output, lest you think it’s ALL just Internet magick [sic]. I made them because I was open to socializing with people and learning new things. I was willing to put myself out there even when exhaustion or shyness or House of Cards would rather prevail. I followed up on leads, wrote things down, Skyped/FaceTimed/GooglePlusHung my little heart out, learned a bunch of new stuff, flared up my tendinitis, lost sleep, called 5by5 and waited on hold for hours, checked my email/DMs/etc., read, wrote, retweeted, subscribed, shook hands, followed back, spent money, and generally put myself out there and followed up on shit. But that effort has been so incredibly rewarding, and SO much easier than it would have been without all this great Internet infrastructure.

So to my friends and family members who don’t get why the Internet is so important to me and why I sometimes can’t stop checking my iPhone, well, you’ll probably never read this anyway so never fucking mind. But the Internet rocks. :)




*Special Business Card Footnote: Futura on the front, since I know .05 people are going to ask, and a weirdly condensed Franklin Gothic Medium on the back logo. Vistaprint; wouldn’t use ’em again; saving up for proper letterpressing but first things first financially, thanks Dan. Going with a press guy in Chicago who can paint the edges red too because OMG sexy. Curt Stevens of Lithocraft if you need ANYTHING printed in Seattle; tell him I sent you. Avoid Allegra Graphics in Greenwood no matter how good a deal you thin you’re getting; you’re welcome.

Old school marketing

Old school marketing

We order pizza kind of a lot. We shouldn’t, but we do; it’s easy and  yummy and one of the few delivery options we have at our house. We usually get Pagliacci, because it’s delicious and predictable and they have great customer service and even a few healthy options. But every once in a while, we like to switch it up and try ordering from different pizza places, just to see if there’s anything better we’ve been missing.

The other non-chainy pizza joint that delivers to us is called Stacia’s. Stacia’s is quite expensive, but they offer deep discoiunts with ValPak coupons. Now, I hate coupons, and I especially hate unsolicited envelopes full of small pieces of paper. (I grew up a Washington State Hippie when it comes to recycling.) But I get that some older-school businesses firmly believe in the whole direct mail marketing model. And ValPak now has an iPhone and iPad app with mobile coupons, so that helps a ton. Often not every deal is listed there that would appear on a print coupon, but this is a nice little compromise for a nerd like me.

I just fired up the ValPak app, and not only does it have deals for Stacia’s, but it also has a neat little feature where you can export a specific deal to Passbook. It’s a bit cumbersome (and hitchy and takes forever even on a solid Wi-Fi connection), but it’s nice of them to think of that, and I like to think it could minimize annoyance for both customers and businesses, right? Right. Except no. I clicked on the “Disclaimers” link just to double-check, and lookie here:

Sooo, uh, mobile coupons are great according to ValPak, but not necessarily ValPak’s advertisers. Fine. Maybe they’re just extra-careful with these because some customers abuse them? (It’s worth noting that I’ve totally used the mobile ValPak app before to buy pizza from these guys. Maybe I’M the reason they added this fun little disclaimer.)

I called the place up, and asked about this disclaimer. The guy who picked up was extremely befuddled. He said, and I quote, “You can’t just print it out?”

I suppose I could print out the QR code, in theory, but I’m not gonna. A) Our printer keeps conking out from expensive low ink reserves, and I don’t want to futz with it for half an hour to make sure it’s working only to deplete its ink for this. B) I shouldn’t freaking have to, right? The whole point of tha ValPak APP is that it’s mobile, paperless, painless, and your delivery dude even gets a little Passbook QR code to scan. Why print? And C) the guy was kind of a dick about it, so now I really don’t want to comply with his backwards request; I want to muster up the gentleness to coax him into letting me use the goddamn iPhone coupon because it’s 2013.

I explain that our printer isn’t working, that we’ve used mobile coupons before and haven’t ordered in several months (i.e. I’m not taking advantage of some high-tech loophole every night), and that I don’t think printing it out is how this is meant to work. This last bit clearly wasn’t the right tack. He immediately switches to Confusion Masked by Authoritative Dismissive Voice, and says, “Yeah, we don’t do that phone stuff. Paper coupon only.”

Sigh. “That phone stuff.” Why build the tech, why integrate the feature, if business owners are too old-school to learn how to play nice with the new tools? Can’t ValPak train businesses to figure this out? Is there no Unique Pizza Discount Code number I could read to you to have you write down and check against some database (undoubtedly stored in a three-ring binder) so you know I’m not allowed to claim this deal a second time, just as if I’d handed you a piece of paper? Must you charge so much in your base menu that I’m unwilling to conduct any kind of transaction with you unless I have a valid coupon to bring the whole deal down to a reasonable range?

I thanked him lamely, hung up, and ordered dinner from Pagliacci.

A love/breakup letter to Big Tech

A love/breakup letter to Big Tech

As you might know from my recent QUIT post, I recently left my year and a halfish of various contract positions as a corporate stooge in a major Seattle tech company. That active verb “quit”  is a little misleading; said tech company is most certainly the one who decided to end my short-term contract this last time around, but the timing was pure serendipity for me since I was conflicted about having accepted this most recent leg of work with them. I had been itching for a graceful exit, yet majorly chicken about initiating one myself. (I had been having an amazing summer focusing on fun, gardening, getting healthy, and growing my consulting practice,  and I wasn’t sure I wanted to give all that fun and freedom up just yet. But a job is a job and a paycheck is a paycheck, so I went back to Big Tech even though I wasn’t quite ready to return.) My corporate stooge overlord was both an amazing and an amazingly frustrating employer, and when I didn’t get hired on full time the first time around, it really broke my heart like no one has broken my heart since my early twenties. Like all heartbreaks, I came away from that bummer having learned a lot and figured myself out a bit better. I gained so much from my time working there, and I’ve been ruminating on how to quantify and describe those huge gains in wisdom and experience.

The positives:

Metrics matter. My stooge overlord former employer is very vocal and public in said corporate values about metrics and data, and thanks to working there, I’ve learned to better quantify my successes and back them up with numbers. (I always fumbled at this during actual interviews, but I feel like I’ve learned how to do this better in other areas of life, including what used to be just my side business.) I’ve installed better analytics tracking on all my sites. I use data-driven decision making now, when before I would call it “gut instinct.” One of the most helpful tips I got while interviewing there was about said gut. My interviewer gave me a helpful note about how, when she was working with non-data-minded people, she wouldn’t accept “it just feels right” or “my gut says X” as an answer. She would ask targeted questions to drill down into WHY someone felt that way in their gut, and invariably this would produce a more quantifiable, justified, analytical line of reason than the opinion-holder even realized they had in them. Her approach stuck with me, and I think I analyze everything that draws my attention more, well, analytically after that conversation. If I do ever go back to a Big Tech role, I think I’ll be able to represent my successes and strengths better with hard details instead of just enthusiasm.

Adapt or die! Unlike many corporate stooge overlord companies, this particular one does not appreciate people or processes that are stuck in old ways, or unable to cast aside prior notions and reevaluate their goals or methods. That Office Space archetype? Totally not applicable. The place is constantly shifting and changing, and they value culling the old out more than any environment I’ve ever been in. As someone who enjoys spotting and fixing the holes in an organization or team or its processes or documentation or whatever, I really liked that they valued my input that usually went beyond QAing my assignment and encroached upon QAing our specs, tools, policies, management, QAing the company itself, etc. Even if half my ideas were rejected for various totally reasonable reasons, it helped me learn to adapt better in my own ways. I’m now pursuing new and different revenue streams in my business and am open to approaches that in the past I had shied away from.

HUSTLE. I haven’t worked my ass off in quite that way for YEARS. When we burned the midnight oil or churned through craziness, we really really churned. I appreciate being able to really burn rubber at a major Forture 500 company; not since working for a crazy busy law firm have I been reminded how to buckle down and get shit DONE. I learned not just to get loads done but to be proactive and solve problems myself, and develop excellent judgment about when to self-help and when to escalate (and how much to holler about it). It made me better at learning solutions, finding DIY workarounds, and generally solving my problems instead of fretting about them or letting them block me.

Poise and pause. My first role in this stint was very reactive. I worked for an incredibly stressy and tightly-run team, with a powerhouse of a manager who still baffles me with her badassery. (She is literally the only person I’ve ever met who is allowed to use the phrase “works hard, plays harder” in any kind of profile anywhere ever.) My job was essentially to jump when she or any of her higher-ups (or the workflows they managed) said jump, so I did a lot of  putting out fires and reacting to the freakouts of various internal and external stakeholders. However, one note she gave me when I pressed her for candid feedback was about how quick to react I was, and  how that could be perceived as negative even though I was trying for a positive. Even though reacting quickly and taking care of issues smoothly was an important part of my job description, I would get a little too enthusiastically worked up about putting out the Fire of the Hour. She urged me to take a minute, take a breath, step back from what the emergency was, restate it to the requester, and then roll up my sleeves and tackle it, pointing out that such poise in the face of crisis is a trait that many higher-ups in corporate culture displayed. I utterly failed to implement this level of poise and pause when, say, answering questions during a FTE interview loop, but the feedback still stuck with me nonetheless. Now I think I’m learning to handle crisis or perceived crisis a bit better, and I’m OK pushing back on everyone from clients to contractors who are overly demanding when it comes to getting a response out of me. I still have a long way to come in this department, but I’ve never received this kind of high-level critical feedback in the thoughtful way I did from anyone at any other company. I keep the Christmas card said boss wrote for me on display in my office, because compliments from someone like her frankly mean more to me than from just your Average Joe coworker.

Picky coworkers! I LOVED how opinionated and high-standarded (shut up) my coworkers were. The wit and fervor that would emerge on things like wiki pages, For Sale listservs, signs in the kitchen or elevators, etc. was a total delight. If I ever needed a referral for a type of business, not only would I get great recommendations I knew I could trust, but I’d get detailed dossiers backing up those choices. Yelp could never be as useful. The pickypants fights that would sometimes break out were hilarious, too. There was literally an internal wiki page called something like “we are not SAVAGES, people” which contained instructions on how to flush toilets and make coffee properly. LOVE.

Perceptive coworkers. The feedback I received from mangers and from people who interviewed me was some of the most helpful I’ve ever heard in my life. Because this company deeply values reflection and self-improvement, I feel like people were more at liberty to be practical and candid in how they evaluated my strengths and weaknesses, and while the more critical points were never easy to hear, they were always deeply appreciated. I feel like I could have paid a career coach for five years of regular input and not gotten even a fraction of the insight and assistance I received for free from my generous coworkers, friends, bosses, and mentors there. People who work there are sort of conditioned to a certain type of analytical directness that was so refreshing. Mentor-type people there immediately identified the traits in my personality that suited me well for certain types of work, and they honed in on what I enjoyed and what mattered to me better than I myself knew how to do. It was disarming but very welcome.

Concision. While every blog post I ever write including this one might lead you to believe otherwise, I swear working in this particular sector of corporate stoogehood really did help me learn to tighten up my business communication. The company I was at valued keeping it short short SHORT and need-to-know only. Because of that, I’m getting better at getting to the point and summarizing my often complex or confusing feedback in a more digestible format, and I’m better at deciding when to provide top-level information as opposed to going into too much detail. Sort of. :) I’m at least conscious of needing to whittle down to the main message with certain audiences now. Nope, not you; other audiences. :P

The negatives: There were, of course, a few things I liked less about this particular Big Tech stint. Like how, after a year of pouring my heart and soul and sanity and every spare moment into trying to land a full-time role there, I was sorta groomed and encouraged and then ultimately turned down. Yeah, that part stung. I still completely understand why I didn’t wind up fitting that mold, at least for the roles I tried out for, and I’ve learned much about how to present myself better both at lean companies like that and in general to the world. Before I went there, I was considering consulting full time instead of getting a Proper Corporate Stooge Jobby Job, but a dose of that invigorating culture made me recommit to having a J-O-B job and really work at it. I’ve never wanted a corporate stooge position so badly, or tried so hard to get one, only to fall so very hard. In the end, it worked out for the best since I don’t think I’m cut from quite the same cloth as the people that make Big Tech great, but I still say it was like having my heart broken after being, well, let’s say proto-corporate-engaged. Anyway. All that said, here’s some of the stuff that I certainly don’t miss:

Extreme budget consciousness. This is a big one. The company’s desire to cut costs wherever possible was certainly understandable, and definitely had a lot of positive consequences for them as a market leader. But sometimes, when your monitor size is restricted for insane Office-Space-seeming reasons, or when your corporate-kitchen-supplied compostable fork dissolves into mush (yes, like that episode of VEEP) when you stir lukewarm leftovers with it, you sorta wish they’d just spend an extra buck and make their employees’ lives easier or more comfortable or ergonomic. Until recently, I had never been one to expense much in my life, but my very severe tennis elbow that developed in 2008 has meant that I’m extremely sensitive to shitty ergonomic setups now. I had also come from a fairly cushy and accommodating PC gaming company that was sensitive to wanting to avoid RSI in its employees. So in that sense, I suppose I had been a bit spoiled. But still. Curved split keyboards and adjustable height desks, people. They make a big difference! I know such things add up, but I don’t miss feeling like I had to whine and seem like a special case, or deal with constant dumbass comments over the fact that my monitor and laptop were stacked precariously upon piles of dictionaries and reams of copy paper to hack a reasonably healthy setup. (That may be more a commentary on social acceptance of proper ergonomics in general. I’m much more sympathetic to my friends who require special diets or medical aid now—it sucks to feel like the squeaky wheel to get your basic needs met.)

Get there first. I can’t deny that the company I worked for beats lots of other companies at lots of different games because they get there first, and make big-picture moves that sometimes seem baffling in the small picture. But as a perfectionist and a pickypants, I hate the model of placing what I perceived as more value on winning the tech race than on perfecting the journey. I think this is partly unique to QA, so I suspect that only working somewhere as polish-obsessed as Apple could really ever satisfy this itch of mine. (I’ve always felt that we released imperfect stuff at every QA or editing role I’ve ever held. So maybe it’s just me. But still.)

Infrastructure. Many things about working at this tech powerhouse felt slapped-together, right down to its campus. The flow of the numerous lines in the overstuffed cafeterias was exhausting. The friggin’ Starbucks across the way from my building had only one standard width door, so people constantly jammed coming in and out of it. One FTE coworker was on a waiting list for a company (paid) parking spot the entire time I worked with her. One of my contract roles shifted between three different buildings, at numerous different desks and on different floors, and I hear it’s scheduled to move again… partly because it seems like the whole leg of the company I belonged to didn’t anticipate their own success and growth. I don’t miss feeling like everything was done after the fact, or that I have to fight everyone for a spot in line or a parking place or a cup of tea in the kitchen. For all the company valued efficiency on paper (if you will), so many basic human comfort things (like don’t block all the silverware drawers with the only microwave, what?) felt less than efficiently planned out at times. (Then again, I’ve felt that way about other corporate stoogey jobs/buildings/systems, too. I guess I was just hoping that working for the Efficiency Kings would mean fewer silly problems like that.)

SLOW YOUR ROLL! While a huge part of me thrives in a busy and fast pace, I feel like the culture in this last stoogeship engendered a very unhealthy work-life balance for most employees, particularly the full-timers. People raced down the hallways, scrambled through lunch/ate it at their desks/skipped it entirely, hunched their shoulders and carpaled their tunnels, kept their networking-only coffee meetings to a tight 15 minutes, skipped from meeting to meeting, and just generally felt like they were always huffing and puffing from one emergency to the next. I never got that same feeling of constant urgency and upset  during my tenure at other mega tech companies, stressy though everyone was there. It was a less SPEEDY kind of stress elsewhere. I think the place I just left attracts a certain go-get-em wife-and-kids-be-damned attitude that burns people out quickly, but rewards those who get off on cortisol spikes. I loved it while I was there most of the time, but there were definitely moments of not-love, and I’m not sure how sustainable it is in the long run.  I’m still friends with a lot of very stressed-out full-timers there who envy my  newfound freedom despite their fancy résumés and reliable paychecks and whatnot.

The takeaway. All in all, despite the negatives I LOVED the culture of this fast-paced startup-feeling company. I’ll always be grateful I had the chance to soak it up and learn from it. Who knows; maybe someday I’ll find myself back there or at another tech powerhouse. But something tells me that this might have been my last taste of Big Tech from the inside, and I’m kinda happy about it since I seem to have more fun using it than creating it. So thanks, guys, for teaching me lots, mostly that I totally have it in me to make it on my own now that you’ve cut me loose. ♥ I sincerely loved working with the amazing people I encountered in Big Tech, and I hope they all identify with more positive points than negative points from this tome!

PAX recs for out-of-towners

PAX recs for out-of-towners

Here are my PAX 2012 tips for out-of-towners, since I found myself giving them verbally to many people. Hope they’re useful! Stay sane, well hydrated and fed, and above all enjoy your PAX experience. And wash your damn hands!

Noc Noc (Goth-ish bar) for drinks. Try the chili; surprisingly edible.
Cupcake Royale for sweets. If you’re stuck just go with salted caramel like everyone else; popular for a reason.
• City Target for a weirdly NYC-like shopping experience.
• The crêpes in front of the con are way better than Subway and the line is always shorter, silly. Branch out!
• Food at the Internet-eschewing gyro place on Pine between 1st and 2nd is totally solid and cheap, but runs spicy.
Market Grill for a grilled halibut sandwich. Ask the Chukar Cherries people if you can’t find it. Worth the $15; skip the chowder.
Le Pichet and the Virginia Inn are yummy, low-key, and less overloaded than closer places. Don’t be a wuss because of the Frenchy menu; it’s delish.
• If you want the market guys to throw a fish, it helps to buy one. Chat up a local who will take it off your hands for a discounted price.

Pink Gorilla and Kinokuniya in the ID are kind of (y)our mothership. Don’t take photos of merch. While there, hit Beard Papa and/or Samurai Noodle. Worth the cramped conditions.
Local 360 for fancy foodie fare. Try the rabbit anything.
• Gamma Ray Games in Capitol Hill wants & deserves your business.
Shorty’s has legit pinball machines, rad hot dogs, and grown-ass drinks.

• If you have a car, get thee to a Full Tilt Arcade—pinball, beer and local ice cream. Multiple non-downtown locations.
Homegrown makes the best goddamn sandwiches you’ll ever eat (and I don’t even *like* sandwiches). Skip the soup.
Card Kingdom is like it sounds; heaven for tabletop geeks.
Brouer’s is another Goth-vibed joint with a mind-blowing beer section. Daytime darkness, too, if you’re into that. Close to The Troll by car so you might as well drive past it.
• If you wanna drop some dough on a really amazing meal, try to visit Canlis. Get the prawns (non-cocktail) appetizer.

• If you’re doing any scenic WA drives anyway, make your way to Bandy’s Troll Haven. Worth the minor detour, and you needn’t even exit your vehicle. No spoilers!

• Restroom best bets near PAX are Macy’s, Nordstrom and Pacific Place.
• Pay phones still exist in the bus tunnel underneath Macy’s and in the lobbies of hotels. You might just need them when the networks predictably crash and you can’t call or text anyone. Figure out how to dial in to your voicemail remotely and get quarters.
• Don’t get peed on by the freak tenants in the apartments on the SE corner of 2nd & Pine. For reals, look up & think fast.
• Wash your hands. Seek the free Purel swag on day 1 and use it often. There’s a Walgreens and Bartell’s and Target and more all within a couple blocks if you lose it or run out. Down with crowdsourcing plagues!
Fox Sports Bar, Taproom and Cheesecake Factory all have cold cold AC. Said AC is the only real reason to patronize these establishments. Better yet, make friends with someone who works for a downtown dev studio and go cool off there. (Works best on Friday when normal office facilities are on.)
• Stay away from Pioneer Square itself. Just… you don’t need that. Belltown should be explored for overpriced fancy food/drinks, but not for nightlife. These two neighborhoods are not for us geeks, trust me.
• Look both ways, dummy. Cross when it says to or when it’s for real clear, INCLUDING CYCLISTS. They will cut you. Use your signal. Walk on the right. Don’t sidewalk or car text. Wait for everyone to exit the elevator/bus/streetcar before you enter. Everyone here does all that shit wrong all of the time, of course, but there’s an assload more people in town right now so please aim to be smart and courteous.

• You unlock a Seattle achievement if you sneak into the ladies’ room of the Columbia Tower Club (75th floor, members only, no spoilers for the tourists plz).

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

I decided to host Thanksgiving this year with my mum, hubby and five friends — this would be the first time we cooked for anyone else since our July wedding! Eek! It was a wonderful affair, though — I got to use literally every single wedding/engagement gift we had received, and all the foods turned out delicious (if not perfect). This post is hecka long and detailed, so read on if you’re brave or hungry!

Read More Read More

Piece of Mind

Piece of Mind

So there’s this stupid little head shop in Fremont and Lake City called Piece of Mind.  Now you MIGHT think that’s a cute little pun, but let’s examine things closer.  Take a look at their logo to the left.

So that’s a PEACE symbol, right? Like, world peace, peace on earth, peace and goodwill. Or PEACE of MIND. So you see, the name PIECE OF MIND would only be a good pun if the interpretation of the homonym /pIs/ that they were going for was, in fact, the PIECE meaning. I.e. a piece of pie, let me give you a piece of my mind, etc. FOR EXAMPLE.

So unless they’re trying to indicate that their shop, instead of giving one ‘piece of mind’, actually somehow robs them of a small piece of their mind, then they’re clearly not quite grasping the concept here.  And if, in fact, the whole piece thing IS in fact their desired marketing angle, then God help us all.

As another case study, let’s take a looksie at an example of a GOOD pun using the term /pIs/: Peace a Pizza, whose logo and name ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE.  Because, you see, traditionally you eat a PIECE of pizza, so changing their name to reflect the PEACE meaning instead is actually a valid pun here, that’s witty and consistent with their logo and branding.  Please take note, stoners of Seattle. Put down the pipe and pick up a thesaurus.

GOD THIS INFURIATES ME SO MUCH EVERY TIME I DRIVE BY THE PLACE.  Thank you for letting me get it off my chest, Imaginary Readers.  All better now.

Most Irrationally Annoying Shop of 2008 Award

Most Irrationally Annoying Shop of 2008 Award

Another year, another bizzarely boring and silly retail idea: glassybaby. While Christmas shopping and running errands at Bellevue Square, I spotted the following store. (Keep in mind that this is during the INSANELY busy season, on a particularly insanely packed evening. And yes, that is one lone customer you see.  I actually peeked in a few more times over the course of the evening and saw no one at all.)

When one of these shops turned up in U-Village months before, I was perplexed and then quickly irritated. I like retail real estate to be filled with cute and /or useful shops that contain a variety of delightful goods, not sparse minimalist spaces displaying a single product that is… a little glass candle jar. Not even the friggin’ candles to put in the jar, mind you: just the jar itself. AND OH MY GOD THEY ARE FORTY DOLLARS APIECE THAT IS BALLS.

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Redmond, Capitol of Innovation

Redmond, Capitol of Innovation

I was running errands in Redmond the other day on my lunch break, and I drove by what has to be the most pathetically-named city park in the history of pathetically-named city parks:

(To be fair, there are indeed grass lawns throughout this park.)

This, coming from the city that houses Microsoft and other major names in technology and innovation.

Coming next month: “Wet Water Lake”. Should be a friggin’ riot.

Prosciutto & Fig Primo at Pagliacci

Prosciutto & Fig Primo at Pagliacci

I’ve never been a huge fig person before — not because I don’t like them, per se, but more because I have no idea whether I like them or not. I guess they don’t seem to have a particularly distinctive flavor, at least according to my palate. I know they’re all the rage with foodies, though, and I was feeling hungry, bored and adventurous. And Grant was off at some football thing, so I was left to myself to figure out dinner plans.

Enter Pagliacci. Their current seasonal offering is the Prosciutto Fig Primo, and it made my mouth water when I heard the description over the phone (text doesn’t do it justice):

The thought of a sweet fruit on a pizza is often considered a foreign concept. We pushed the boundaries of pizza making with our Pear Primo and thanks to its continued popularity, we knew figs could be a hit too. We combine figs with prosciutto, basil and fresh mozzarella on an olive oil base for the perfect balance of lightly sweet and salty flavor.

Our usual standard is their Parma Primo, which has prosciutto plus basil, tomato, olive oil, mushrooms, fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese on an olive oil base. So this was close to home while still being adventurous and fun. And I actually think there’s a higher ratio of prosciutto to other stuff with this special.

At the end of the day, the fig primo had definitely won me over, even though it was a bit pricier than our usual (extremely expensive) favorite. The only improvement I would make is to add some tomatoes.  It was so very sweet that it seemed like it could use something tangy to balance it all out.  Still, it turns out that a) I like figs in some contexts, and b) I’m not yet over the fruity pizza trend.  Mmm mmm!