Black Friday

I don’t go much for Black Friday sales, but there was a time that I tried to survive the mob and I realized that story hasn’t appeared on this site before…

I believe it was my junior year of college (Nov 2000) when I decided I wanted to buy a sound system, DVD player and TV for our dorm room. All of it was pretty entry level stuff but it was going to be a major upgrade! I went shopping at Best Buy and figured out what I wanted. The sales guy hinted that there were going to be some big sales on Black Friday so I decided I’d wait and save some money.

Dad kindly waited with me that morning. I don’t remember the specifics but I think we got there around 5am and it was below 20 degrees. We were about 10th or so in line and we waited for hours for the store to open. As the doors open, everyone mobbed the doors and pushed their way in so we probably weren’t the 10th people to get in. Dad and I had a plan so we went directly for the stuff we wanted, grabbed it and reconvened. That maybe took 60 seconds, but the store was already completely full. It took forever (half an hour?) to make it back to the cash registers.

As the cashier rang up my total, I happily said, “How much did I save?” … “Save? Nothing. None of this was on sale.”

Yep, we waited in the freezing cold for hours to save… nothing. The TV and DVD player are long gone, but that sound system has traveled all over the country with me and is currently in our theater room (complete with birdseed and a mouse carcass inside the subwoofer but that’s a story for another day.) I think about that Black Friday regularly when I flip on the sound system. Thank you, Dad, for suffering through that with me and not giving me grief.

255 Life

Aside from the campus bus service while I was at Purdue, I’ve never lived close to convenient public transport until I moved into our current house. All I have to do is walk up to the stop light and I can hop on the 255 bus that takes me all the way, non-stop, to downtown Seattle. It’s like the bus route was designed for us. It stops at the Kirkland waterfront and the Kirkland train store before making its way across I-90 to Pike Place Market and and Pioneer Square. We don’t use the bus a lot, but wow, that’s a pretty convenient one.

Unfortunately it sounds like that’s going to change when they redesign the bus routes. If you live on the east side, there’s a survey to fill out so you can share your thoughts on the changes.

Thankfully I already have a general ban on going into Seattle and this helps to enforce it.

Lego Old Fishing Store

My birthday was a couple weeks ago and I received a lot of nice gifts. Thank you! However, I had a little extra smile when I opened the joint gift from Tyla and Elijah because I couldn’t remember the last time that I received something that was nothing other than a toy. They got me the giant Old Fishing Store Lego set!

After putting together the Lego Diner earlier this summer, I put that fishing set on my wish list. These big sets are so much fun and it’s great to spend time with Elijah working on it. The fishing village came out a while back but it’s always stuck in my mind for the insane level of detail. After assembling it, I can say that it lived up to my expectations! And as with the diner set, I’m not going to post my own photos because plenty are available online. I also recommend that you watch the JANGBRiCKS video review.

It’s hard to say whether I like this set more or less than the diner. On the plus side, this has more detail crammed into a smaller space. On the downside, a bunch of that detail comes from specialized pieces. Both the diner and this fishing store have lots of studs-on-the-side construction to support siding on the walls but the fishing store has an interesting take on it. The whole structure is built to look old so some of the siding pieces are put on at an angle. It’s a neat effect.

When I built the diner I thought it would be a one-and-done thing. But now I have two. Hmm…

Smoke Forecast

Seattle is in the midst of some record-breaking bad air quality due to the wildfires in British Columbia, eastern Washington and California. Unless the wind is blowing form the west, it gets smokey in Seattle and an inversion layer traps the smoke down here between the mountains.

There are a couple handy sites for helping to check how bad it is right now and how it’s going to look in the future. The first is the Puget Sound Clean Air site. It shows a short timeline of the particle count in the air.

The second is an experimental forecast from NOAA that predicts where the smoke will be going. Choose your overlay on the top left and then choose the hour of the forecast on the bottom left. (Note that if you slide it all the way to the right it appears to jump back in time.) The forecast only goes out about 24 hours, but, for example, today you can at least have some hope that tomorrow will be a little better.

I found both of these links by reading Cliff Mass’s blog and he has a lot more info about the smoke there as well as an analysis of whether or not there is a trend of these fires getting worse (global warming?!)

Quick Photo Tips

I’m currently editing a bunch of photos from our last trip. While we were there, we talked about combining video from everyone’s phone for a little video montage. I’m still working on that, but I thought I’d pass along the three things I asked everyone to do for the video:

  1. Shoot at eye level. If you only remember one thing, this is it. Whether you’re doing pictures or video, you’ll get dramatically better results if you are at eye level with your subject.
  2. Hold your camera/phone in landscape mode not portrait. This is critical for video but is more of a personal preference for photos. I default to landscape photos and only use portrait when specifically required.
  3. Be still. Frame the shot and let the subject move around in it. If you’re moving around following something, it’s almost certainly going to be too uneven and jerky to use in an edit.