Paper Please

Seattle is a very environmentally conscious city: there are all-electric buses, people bike everywhere, and most of the city is powered hydroelectricity. One of the most noticeable  city wide environmental efforts is the ban on plastic bags at retailer stores. This seems like a good step forward towards removing objects which are significantly harmful to the environment, but I’ve found that in most places within the city its been taken a little to far; “Paper or plastic?” has become “Will you be needing bags?“. Moving away from plastic bags the effort has been made to skip paper bags and jump to reusable ones. So whenever one goes shopping there is an expectation to remember to bring along however many tote bags as will be needed. This is nothing out of the ordinary, as many grocers and shopping centers around the nation have also adopted this model. The Seattle system only breaks down when you forget to bring the reusable bags.

Here is a stage by stage breakdown of how most of my checkouts have gone:

Stage 1: The cashier sees that you do not have any reusable totes with you, but asks anyway if you need any of their precious stock of paper bags. You answer “Yes, I’ll be needing some paper bags today” and you add a bit about how you’ve forgotten your usual reusable bags if you your feeling extra guilty that day.

Stage 2: The cashier gives you a look like you are the single most responsible person for all the environmental damage man has caused over the past century. They then begins ringing up and bagging your items.

Stage 3: Out of concern for the environment, or simply being out of practice, the cashiers proceed to do the worst job possible. Because the bags are paper, they must be as fragile and easy to rip as tissue; so it would be irresponsible to put too many items in a bag. Maybe four will do? Nah, too much just stick with three. These bags were once living breathing trees, remember that too. So any Item that’s larger than a loaf of bread should be placed outside the bags or directly into the cart. In the end you end up with a few items loosely in bags and a lot of loose items in your cart. I don’t think they fully understand that I, a single person, have to carry my purchase and awkwardly sized loose items require two hands when a bag does not.

Step 4: Charge the customer for the bags. I understand that this is meant as a financial slap on the wrist for not remembering to bring a reusable tote bag, but after going through a process where the person working the counter has treated each of these bags as precious store resources I find out I’m purchasing them! If the bags are costing me then I would please like you to use as many as are needed. An extra $0.05 per bag to carry a hundred dollars worth of groceries is really trivial.

 

There’s No Place Like Home

The long search and application process has finally come to an end, and I now have the keys to my new apartment in hand! The apartment is completely empty, no furnishings, not even a shower curtain. Its a completely blank slate to be decorated. I’m just awaiting the delivery of an air mattress I ordered online to move in.

The building is an apartment building from the 1920’s. It has the original hardwood floors intact, which I think are great, even if they are a little squeaky. The walls are plaster stucco, and there are arched door frames. The kitchen appliances are fairly new, and there are several closets, but the most amazing this is the space. The emptiness of the apartment make it seem bigger, but its still a lot of room for one person with no furniture to fill.

The Waiting Game

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Oculus has started shipping their VR developer headsets this week to those who pre-ordered them early enough. As someone who put in an order on the day of the announcement back in March I have been patiently waiting a while for this. This week I got my email, “Your Oculus Rift has shipped”. Whoo, this is what I’ve waited so long for. This could be a massive change in human interaction, a new technology that must be experienced to believe, and I will have it in my hands soon….

soon…

How soon?

Tracking data says it will take a week to get here, Damn.

Night gathers and now my wait begins.

A Light Snack

Coming out to the west coast I knew that I would have to leave a lot of things behind. I was under the impression that Fives Guys, a burger chain based out of Washington, D.C., had not made it out west yet.

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With this meal I humbly revisit and alter my assumptions.

The Aquabats Super Show

Last night I went to a show with a friend, a band he suggested that I had never heard of, The Aquabats. I looked them up on youtube and found this:

Of course I was amazed! Burger Rain is musical artistry at its highest level. I immediately purchased the tickets and was excited to see them live. The show was amazingly fun and went far beyond any expectations that I ever could have mustered. The Aquabats are a ska band that have been staring The Aquabats’ Super Show, a children’s music television show, for about 20 years. This leads to a show with a wide a demographic as imaginable. There were a lot of teen and 20s punk rockers moshing in the front. On the sides the older generation stood nursing their drinks and in the quiet middle ground where the little kids, four and up riding their parents shoulders dressed in blue spandex with an A embossed on their chests.

Some highlights:

  • Quality family friendly music
  • A bit of mosh pitting
  • A man in a chicken suit throwing fried chicken over the audience
  • Said chicken man fighting a giant crab in slow motion
  • Beach balls and inflatable toys thrown around a small venue
  • A six year old crowd surfing on top a shark

To sum it up it was a fun and amazingly unique show!

Unicorns are native to Seattle

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This weekend held an exciting trip to Seattle’s famous EMP Museum and caught the end of their Myth & Magic Faire. The unicorns were brought out for the faire (and yes it was ‘faire’ not ‘fair’), but the museum was worth visiting without the special event. The Sci-Fi props exhibit had meek geeking out at every turn. I got to see Kirk’s captain chair and the uniform worn by Brent Spiner when he played Lt. Commander Data. They had Jack O’Neill’s famous sunglasses from Stargate Sg-1 and Ronon Dex’s mysterious blaster from Stargate Atlantis. Every plexiglass case had some cool wonder that I had seen in film or television. It was amazingly cool but also very disappointing. Seeing the props personally you can tell that they are just that, props. Kirk’s chair is obviously made from particle-board and painted matte grey, with the tan wood showing through chips in the paint. Its not the tritainium alloy that every fan hopes it to be. Seeing the props gives you a personal relation to you favorite Sci-Fi experiences, but you must go in ready to have some of the illusion spoiled.

Packing

One wouldn’t think that for someone who has spent the past four years moving from dorm room to dorm room and jumping around off campus apartments that another pack and move would be problematic. This was exactly my mindset before going into the details of how different a move across the country would be compared to moving around the same town. with a collage move one can think short term because you know exactly when you will be back next. One can plan a year ahead, sometime less and pack like it’s an extremely long vacation.

“Ohhh I’ll just leave my winter stuff, and pick it up when I’m back for Thanksgiving”.

Packing for an unknown leave meant everything had to be given consideration. My goal was to get everything I wanted with me in Seattle into a box to be shipped, and everything else to be thrown out, recycled or given away. This was not as easy of a task as I thought it would be. I never considered the amount of stuff that I had accumulated over the years. I found that I was holding on to old homework assignments dating at least back to middle school. If I were a narcissistic anthropologist I would be writing a lengthy dissertation right now and not a blog.  Here is a small list of some of the more surprising things I found:

  • Old homework
  • Boxes that haven’t been opened since they were packed in 2004
  • Fish Food and a fish tank filter ( I haven’t had a fish for 10+ years)
  • Amazingly large numbers of old birthday cards

Some things made the cut and a lot more have been trashed. It is hard to understand how challenging it can be sorting through one’s own possessions. Finding old doodles from high school which I have no need to keep; they are not something I spent any time or thought on when I made them, I haven’t missed them for the past five years that they have been sitting in a paper tower, but finding them again triggers an association with the memories around their origin. One picks up the paper and on recognizing the content is hit by a tide of nostalgia, but consciously realizing its just clutter stuffs it in the trash and moves to the next piece in the pile. It was very emotionally draining.

In the end I filled about six garbage bags of trash, a large pile of recyclables and an overstuffed hamper with clothes along with six boxes ready to be moved out with me. A good deal was left behind, so I had not been fully successful in moving out all of my belongings; but I had my room cleaner than it’s been in a very long time, I had packed everything that was a necessity and more, and my flight was in a few hours.