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.

Lego Downtown Diner

Elijah loves Legos. (And yes, I know the plural is technically “Lego” but too bad. This is ‘merica and most people say “Legos”.) We watch JANGBRiCKS YouTube videos daily. I guess all the Legos floating around the house and the videos got to me, because I finally caved to one of my childhood dreams and bought an enormous set.

Lego has a set of modular buildings in their Creator Expert series that are extremely impression. The detail is beyond anything I’ve ever assembled and it seemed like a fun project to work on with Elijah. It was fun to see the look on his face when the 2480-piece Lego Downtown Diner arrived in the mail.

He sat with me for most of the assembly, but a lot of it was too complex. He had fun looking through all the pieces and finding the new ones that we haven’t had before. It took us 6.5 hours to assemble the whole thing.

I thought about taking pictures, but then I realized that it’s exactly the same as the one that everyone else has built. If you want to really dive in, check out the JANGBRiCKS video review. I’ve also posted some photos below.

If you stop by for a visit, remind me to show this to you! We will be leaving this one fully assembled.

Good Brewing Company Taproom

“My neighbor brews beer in his garage.” When I say that, people usually have a picture in their head that doesn’t equate to what is really happening. Five houses down from me, Kevin is making some epic beer. He has over a dozen taps in his garage and some fancy brewing equipment. He’s had his license for a little over a year and he’s already won second place at the Washington Beer Awards for his Pink Boots Double IPA. He makes a lot of great beers, but that one is my favorite.

His garage is a very convenient walk from my house and Elijah loves taking bike rides to see “Mr. Kevin”, but now his garage door is closed a lot more frequently. That’s because he has taken a big step and opened his first taproom! It’s located northwest of the Woodinville Costco and we headed there for the grand opening. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it certainly was NOT what we actually witnessed. There were well over 100 people there with live music, a BBQ trailer and tons of people in line for beer. Kevin seemed happily in awe of the turnout.

I’ve been back a couple times since then and he always seems to have a good crowd on hand. In addition to a big variety of beers on tap, he also has some limited food (pizza and pretzel bread) available for sale. I’ll have to see if I can convince Tyla that this is a viable dinner location. Pizza, beer and cornhole? How could she say no?

Congrats to Kevin for an incredible start to his taproom. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing what the next year brings!

Instagram: @goodbrewingco

Safeway Monopoly

Every year I get sucked into the Monopoly game at Safeway, and most times I finish thinking, “Well that wasn’t at all worth my time.” This year was probably the worst though. Last year was pretty good with the easy ability to collect lots of free movie rentals on Fandango and some gift cards. This year the only thing I got was one gas discount ($0.10/gallon for one fillup), one free Fandango rental and three free donut coupons. They made the free Fandango rentals extremely difficult to acquire and threw in a bunch of ridiculous coupons and discounts that hold no interest for me.

One big positive for this year was that the phone app not only lets you scan in the second chance pieces, but it also keeps track of your Monopoly properties for you. The skeptic would say that I never won anything because their app was “keeping track of my pieces”. Possible but not plausible.

I got a few free item coupons too but those items are always out of stock and is it really worth it to spend time trying to hunt down free packets of gravy?

So this year was a bust, but I’ll probably get suckered in again next year.