Sunday, October 25, 2015

Your Sunday Squirrel

I took a lot of pictures this week.  And many of them are really good.  I posted many of them on Facebook and Instagram.  If you've already seen them, then I apologize, but I'm really happy with how they turned out:
 OK, that's enough for now.

Pumpkin Bash!

Well, this weekend was the annual Pumpkin Bash at the zoo.  They give the animals pumpkins and they make things fun.  By far, the most amusing are the small-clawed river otters.  There was much capering among them.  The folk put fish in the pumpkin, so there was much zaniness as the otters tried to get at the treats.

OK, so the otters were a lot of fun, but the hippos are great to watch.  They really like to chomp things and pumpkins are pretty ideal for that.  Here's one during the aftermath to all that chomping.

I saw the red panda today!  Usually, they're asleep and no fun at all.  Today, one was walking around for a brief time.  It would have been a really bad photo.  But believe me, he looked exactly like this picture.  They didn't give the red pandas pumpkins.  In fact, they don't give them to most of the animals.  We saw the maned wolves, who were clearly uncomfortable with eating things out of pumpkins.  And that was it for pumpkin bashing for this year.
On the way out, they were feeding the penguins.  There were a few thieving seagulls and some very ingenious (and also thieving) crows.  The penguins were also kind of entertaining.  I mean, most of them are pretty boring, but there are enough of them so that one or two of them are doing something amusing.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

I'm a Drummer - Again

And these are my drums!  Yeah, I bought them two weeks ago.  I actually was pretty good back in the day, but apartment living did not permit me to continue with them.  There was, however, a time a few years back when I had some very loud kids and their ineffectual parents living up above me and nearly every day I vowed to borrow a drum kit so I could return their excessive noise in kind.  That didn't happen, but they moved to another unit, so that was the end of my drum ambitions for the time - even if I wanted a set for the wrong reasons.  Then a few months ago, a very good drummer let me know that this set was up for sale.  It took me a while to clear space, but now it's mine.  Yes, it's an electronic kit.  You have to wear headphones, otherwise it just sounds like tapping.  That's the best thing about it; I can play anytime and nobody hears.  Now, there are a lot of things that it can't do and the feel isn't exactly the same as a real set, but it does let you build some real drum chops.  It's also really good exercise.  And it promises to keep me warm this winter.  Oh, and I plan to play drums on my next album.  That's my hope.  Wish me luck.

Your Sunday Squirrel

The good stuff continues from Denny Park.  And it doesn't even have to be sunny.  But it helps

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Your Sunday Squirrel

I'm really starting to favor the phone.  These are some shots from the last week.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Your Sunday Squirrel

I still take my camera to Denny Park, but I'm using the phone more and more.  I've gotten a lot of great shots that way.  For every shot that I take with the camera, I can take about 50 with the phone.  True, many will be bad, but the law of averages gives me many more great photos.  The above shot was taken with the camera.  It's not super-great, but you can tell it's a squirrel.  The two below are from the phone.  The top one is what happens when the fellow stands still for a second or two.  The bottom one is when there's some motion.  I'll tell you, although the focus isn't perfect, I really like that second shot.  Plus, for some reason, the phone doesn't freak squirrels out like the camera does.  I have no idea why that is because both make noise.  Anyhow, I'm becoming more pleased with the phone, so the 2017 calendar might have to be in the square format.  Unless, of course, I get a really good quick-shooting camera.  Sadly, I don't have $500 just laying around.  So the phone it is.    

New Place!

I don't know how new.  All I know is that it was here after I got back.  It's called Villa Escondida and it's in the former Frontier Room space at 1st & Blanchard.  In case you were wondering, it's a Mexican restaurant.  I am always on the lookout for an uplifting burrito experience, so I was excited to try.  First off, nothing remains of the old Frontier Room, its former dimness and dank appeal.  In recent years, it was a barbecue joint and then it closed.  But it's been completely remodeled.  It's almost totally without character.  It's just brightly lit and kind of sterile.  But if the food is awesome, who cares about the decor?  I had the wet burrito with chicken and lots of hot sauce.  It was good; more authentic than Mama's, but I was looking for a punch that it didn't have.  Maybe I'm in the extreme minority here, but their hot sauce wasn't hot enough and the burrito itself wasn't very spicy, which is what I was really hoping for.  Oh well, like I said, it was good.  I plan to go back some other time for more stuff on the menu.  They have an interesting breakfast selection and happy hour specials, too.  So we shall see...
Once again, I'm not the most observant guy in the world and I assume that this branch of El Camion on South Lake Union (on Thomas, between 9th & Westlake) has been operating for a while.  It's just a block away from the squirrel park, but I failed to notice it.  When I found out, I was pretty elated.  The Ballard El Camion (on 54th between 14th & 15th) is superb.  I eat there a lot (more like constantly) when I record.  Even though the El Camion restaurant is just ten blocks down the street, for some reason, the truck is always superior.  I have never had anything bad from there and the service is really fast.  I can't say the same about the restaurant - on both counts.  I thought that this place would uphold the high quality of the Ballard truck.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  I got a chorizo burrito and took it home.  That's a 15-minute walk.  When I got home, it was cold.  The only thing that saved it was the sauces - they have the best sauces in the universe.  I'm especially partial to their habanero and chipotle.  They are very hot and flavorful.  So yeah, disappointed with the SLU truck.  OK, so I'll have to try them again and I will report back.  Even if they aren't that great, it's not like the Ballard truck is going anywhere.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bad Neighbors on a Bad Block

You have to admit, 2nd Ave. between Blanchard & Lenora is not a good block.  There are only four real businesses, one of which seems to draw a lot of unsavory types.  There is also the El Rey with its sundry crazy people.  Most are OK, but a few are constantly panhandling or compulsively rummaging through every trash can they run across.  It's not the greatest block.  In fact, it's bad.

For years and years, Action Small Appliance was my downstairs neighbor.  They were great.  You never knew they were there, they were so quiet.  Well, they moved over to Bellevue and the storefront was vacant for quite a while.  Then this summer, it became a workspace called Common Area Maintenance - not a very catchy name, but it wasn't my call.  There was a lot of renovation that went on.  I was OK with that activity, because it didn't seem to go on for too long at a stretch.  It only became slightly annoying when they added a sound system.  This wasn't just some stereo; it was a small PA that could generate a lot of volume.  Sometimes it did just that.  Being directly upstairs wasn't a treat, especially since they seemed to play fairly bland pop music along the lines of Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen.  I kind of expected artists to have a little more adventurous taste in music, but alas.  After having quite a loud event when the space was mostly remodeled, things settled down.  I figured that would be like that forever.  We would coexist with mutual respect and so forth.  That's how it was for the most part.  Well, earlier in the week they hung up these signs in the hallway:
OK, so last night started out fine.  I figured that they were going to be adults about this.  Everything was quiet and nice, but at nine, it turned into a mini-rave/dance party/disco complete with bad boots-and-pants electro.  The volume kept going up until almost everything was shaking in my apartment.  I figured things would shut down at 10, per building rules.  They did not.  The volume kept going up over the next hour and the sidewalk out front was a sea of loud conversation.  It was just awful.  There was no escaping it.  With each passing minute, I got angrier.  By 11:00, I had had enough.  I went downstairs, found the DJ and told him to shut it down or I was gonna call the cops.  I was referred to the guy who organized it.  He was clearly on drugs.  He kept calling me "sir," like I was some miffed restaurant patron and promised to shut the whole thing down.  He didn't.  I called the cops.  In fact, I called them three times over the next 45 minutes.  They never showed, though I did see no less than three police cars pass by without stopping.  The music finally shut off around midnight, but that just meant that everybody was out on the sidewalk, talking very loudly.  I finally had to shout from my window for them to go home circa 12:30.  I wasn't rude, I didn't swear; I just reminded them that people live in this building.  Whaddaya know, folks, people live in Belltown!  Ain't that a thing?  Well, I hope I can come to your houses and apartments, play loud music and shout at my friends, too!  What jolly fun!

OK, so bottom line: they're bad neighbors.  I have separate issues with the cops, namely that they didn't show, but this was a real shitty thing for these gallery folk to do to their neighbors.  I know the old trick: invite the whole building and be as loud as you want, because everybody was invited/warned.  Sorry guys, it doesn't work that way.  I'm told that they're going to have more events like this in the future.  Uh, no they're not.  They're either going to be a gallery, not a club, or they're going to leave the neighborhood.  They can make noise until 10:00, but after that, they shut it down.  From now on, at one minute after ten, I call the cops.  I don't want this to become a war, but it may come to that.  I believe they rely on grants to operate, so when it comes time for more funding, I can round up a bunch of people from this building to speak against it.  It's great to live with mutual respect with your neighbors.  The gallery mooks crossed a line last night and I'm very unhappy having them in this building.