Or Would It All Just Be The Same: Part 1

After taking all of those photos, I headed back to the U. District. To cool off, I got a boba iced tea at Yunnie's. I asked if they had grass jelly. They didn't but they did have angel jelly. So I got a tea with angel jelly. I still don't know what that is and my web searches for "angel jelly" have found some disturbing religious children's fiction and some marital aids, but nothing edible. I tried a search for '"angel jelly" tea' and turned up a passing reference--on a page by a student at the University of Washington. If this jelly was prepared by means of killing angels and rendering them into jelly, then I take this opportunity to apologize to the heavenly host.

That's Where I'll Go With You

I sat in the basement cafe at the Elliott Bay Book Company, noting the complete lack of mention of the Honeybear. It was as if that cafe had never existed. Then Ron arrived, first to greet me, just as he had been my first co-worker to go over to Amazon.

Other people showed up and we ambled over to Trattoria Mitchelli and more people showed up: Dave, Penny, Jon, Mike, Chuck, and Devin. They'd all worked at Blue Mug until that company's demise. (I'd jumped ship earlier, going to work for a company that went under faster.) These people had moved up to Seattle the week days before and started working at Amazon on Monday.

They were new to Seattle, trying to figure it out. Mike, Chuck, and Devin had come to dinner from a lease-signing for a house. Everyone but Ron was new to Amazon and was figuring out that it was insane. Used to the luxury of Debian, they were mired in the grueling RedHat setup. They certainly didn't talk about any of the Amazon.com security holes they were learning about, or how you might use them to add embarrassing items to someone's "wish list".

Jon took some time to call up his wife Irene, who was still back in California until he could figure out the Seattle housing situation. She talked about the heat wave going on back home. Apparently, you can use cats to measure ambient temperature. The hotter it is, the straighter they lay when sleeping. The cats were sleeping at full extension.

Those People Got a Weird Idea

After dinner, some of us headed over to Mike's temporary housing in Belltown. I hadn't been to Belltown much after my first couple of visits, and it had changed a lot in the intervening years. Now there were plenty of dot-com-boom-inspired apartment and condo high-rises with plenty of dot-bomb-panic-inspired vacancies. Thus, our heroes had found easy housing here upon arrival, giving them time to track down high-quality housing later.

Jon made his way from the downtown lowlands to the hills of Belltown by unicycle, because that's the kind of guy he is.

If I were King of Geek Island, I would make Mike Touloumtzis the Minister of Culture. He had a copy of Gizmo, with lots of documentary footage of inventors demonstrating their usually-disastrous inventions. The best part was hearing the inventors hubristically explain their success. I'd never heard of the film, yet it was brilliant.

Then it was late, and Mike was the only one sober enough to drive me back to the motel. So there was a tourist giving directions to a resident--who'd spent less time in Seattle than the tourist had. So I told him to make a left turn which turned out to be, uhm, illegal. Fortunately, there were no cops around.

It Don't Feel Right

Friday morning, I was awake at 4:30. Nature boy, waking with the sunrise. It sounds so healthy, but it was clearly inappropriate here. Eventually, I gave up on trying to go back to sleep, dragged my sorry carcass out of bed and to a cafe, consumed caffeinated beverages and pastries until I was ready to face the world.

When I'd planned this trip, I knew that I'd visited most of Seattle's big permanent tourist sites. So I'd searched for conventions that would be going on at the time. I'd found out about a Bruce Lee Collector's Exhibit. Then, the night before my trip, I'd visited their website, which was displaying a Default.asp not found error. (Loosely translated, this error means "We used MicroSoft, so our site broke.") I'd wanted to find out details--and the closest thing I found to details was a site which announced that the exhibit was postponed until July. But at last night's dinner, Penny had mentioned that someone had handed her a flyer--the exhibit was open. It had been postponed a while, but not as much as previously feared.

[Photo: Under the Montlake bridge]

But I didn't know what time of day the exhibit would open, and so I took the long, rampling way to the international district. I walked through the UW campus, through red square, past a vaguely-remembered fountain, and down to the Montlake bridge. I took a little detour down to a river-view under the bridge. There I saw a gardener napping on a bench, his weedwhacker lying down with amongst its eternal enemies, the weeds.

I crossed the bridge, and walked a few blocks until I found the Northern part of the U.W. arboretum. Approaching the Arboretum from the North, you don't encounter the visitor center or labelled stands of trees or decorative benches. Instead, you see some roads passing overhead. And eventually, you might spot an on-ramp that doesn't actually have a road leading up to it. And then you might hop up onto that on-ramp and snap some photos. (Including some photos of some dangly things. There were wires suspended between ramps which supported these things dangling in the water. Were they art? Flow-meters? I wish I knew.)

[Photo: onramp] [Photo: watch that first step] [Photo: dangly things]

The arboretum proper was much prettier than the onramps, lush layers of green surrounding me in hushed verdant... uhm, whatever. The thing is, it was layers of green on green, which I don't know how to photograph. So you'll just have to imagine it. Sorry about that. Anyhow, it was a very nice route, but it didn't take nearly long enough, so when I reached the entrance to the Japanese garden, I bought a bag of fish food and went in.

I wasn't the first person to choose fish-feeding as a morning loiter activity. A little girl named Julia and her mom were on the fish-feeding bridge, tossing pellets to the eager koi. I didn't have the heart to hijack the fish away, so I tottered to a bench where I could peacefully contemplate the garden. I contemplated the garden for a couple of whiles, jotted notes for a couple more whiles, caught up on my wireless email for yet another couple of whiles, and then I wondered how long it would take Julia and her mom to finish off a bag of fish food.

When my turn came to feed the koi, it was, of course, fun. I made a game of it, keeping the food away from the duck. I'd never seen fingerling koi before, but there were plenty there that day.

[Photo: Julia's mom, Julia, two other tourists, Julia's dad] [Photo: Medium koi, small koi]

We'll Be Away From Here

I emerged from the park in a residential neighborhood and made my way towards civilization, or at least Broadway. Along the way I spotted a pay phone and called up Matt, another recent transplant to Seattle. He wasn't an Amazon--he was working for Openwave, where I'd been working. He, Davina, and their children had been living in Colorado. He'd planned to move back to the SF bay area, but noticed that house prices were still astronomical. So someone had suggested that he move to Seattle and work in the Openwave Seattle office. He'd weaseled out of the previous night's dinner, so I was trying to set up a meet. The phone wasn't very good, and he was on a cell phone. It sounded like they couldn't find a sitter and their house was too messy for visitors. I told Matt I'd call back when I could hear what he was saying, but mostly I was hoping that he'd figure out some activity which didn't involve leaving his kids unattended or anyone dying of embarrassment over a still-unpacking house.

I continued walking. I wondered if I could get invited to Matt's front yard if I promised not to look inside the house. As I thought about this, I ran my fingers through my hair. Then I remembered that my fingers were covered with powdered fish food residue.

Soon I was on Broadway, the Capitol Hill district. There might be good restaurants in this district, but I haven't heard of them, nor have I found them. (Though I haven't looked very hard for them, since reviews have been so discouraging.) I chose a restaurant called Julia's, in honor of the little girl in the garden. I had some wonderful lemonade and a bland omelette, which was about all I could hope for in a Capitol Hill place.

I went to the Broadway Market, a little mall, where there were pay phones away from the traffic noise. I called Matt--no reply. He was probably at lunch. I took a while to check out the balcony on the second floor. From Saturday at 5pm until Sunday at 5pm, some cartoonists, including Phil Foglio, were supposed to complete 24-hour comic books. Maybe the mall people would have some comic art on display ahead of time-- apparently not. I tried calling Matt again, got no answer, and took off.

I was still making my haphazard way towards the Bruce Lee Collector's Exhibit.

I walked a ways, and got overheated at the same time I reached the free downtown bus area. So I stood and cooled off in an underground bus shelter and caught a bus to the office building which housed Openwave's Seattle offices. I tried calling Matt from the bus station. Maybe I could lure him downstairs and we could talk without cellular static? No answer. He was probably still at lunch. I checked out the building lobby. There were more pay phones there, so I tried calling him again. No answer. He was probably still at lunch. I loitered in a nearby plaza for 15 minutes before giving Matt's phone one last chance. I called--no answer.

Oh well. I resumed my Southward walk towards the International District, and ran into Matt crossing the street. Don Listwin, the Openwave CEO had taken a bunch of Openwavelets out to lunch, Matt among them. And now they were waddling back. Matt said that they'd decided that the house could handle visitors. He'd invited over Dave and Penny, and asked them to let me mooch a ride. Excellent.

I Was All Pumped Up

I wasn't much of a Bruce Lee collector. I had one Bruce Lee doll which hung on my front door to ward off evil. I first decided to visit the Bruce Lee Collector's Exhibit when I thought it was a Bruce Lee Collectors Convention. I went to mock. I went to see losers sitting at card tables with sad fragments of Bruciana spread out before them.

In this, I was disappointed, but it was nice to be disappointed. This was an exhibit, a tastefully done exhibit. It was interesting in its own right, without the filter of mockery. It happens.

The interpretive text gave details of Lee's biography and philosophy. Videos showed his acting work, his martial arts style, and memories of his friends and students. There were collectibles, and some of them were tacky, but some of them were tasteful, too, and reminded you that this man had touched millions of lives.

If you're reading this during the summer of 2003 and you're in Seattle, I recommend it.

And You Know Why

I had an early dinner at Cedars--the correct Cedars this time. I had a salt lassi to replenish what I'd lost through sweat. (Salt lassi wasn't on the menu, but they had it.) And I had chana masala and onion kulcha. They were wonderful, just wonderful, and I had leftover chana masala to take back to my suite's kitchen.

That night, I heard explosions. It was easier to buy fireworks around Seattle than around San Francisco. Some pyromaniacs couldn't wait.

The Same

I work up far too early, failed to go back to sleep. I dragged my carcass over to the Longshoreman's Daughter. Figuring that' I'd had a lot of omelettes recently, I ordered the Muselix (sp?). I should have ordered the omelette.

I made my way past the troll, up past a dimly-remembered marine equipment store, through the familiar Wallingford area, past the former site of the Honeybear.

I was running early for my day's scheduled visit, so I stopped at Zoka. I remembered how Ron and I had embarrassed ourselves the previous time I'd loitered at Zoka, so I was determined to be on my best behavior. Yet somehow I spilled my coffee all over the place when putting it down on a table. It's a good thing I only go there once every few years, or else they'd probably recognize me and stop serving me or something.

Those Mothers

I was tall, my cousin Nancy was taller, and her husband Cedric was even taller. Looking at Nancy's belly, I guessed that their son was going to be taller than the three of us combined.

We talked about the hypothetical son, code-named "Cuthbert". This was just a code name while he remained hypothetical. They were going to name him, but would wait to make up the name until he was born. "Yeah, he looks like a Splorktap," Cedric said. "Isn't that how Frank Zappa did it? Looked at the new kid and said, 'Yeah, he looks like a Dweazil.'" I considered: not many things rhymed with splorktap. A boy named Splorktap might not get teased too much. The theory seemed sound.

(A few weeks later, Cedric wrote: Paul Wesley Krumbein made his appearance on July 22 at 9:24 p.m. by Cesarean birth. He weighed 9 lbs. 11 oz. (4.4 kg) (ouch!) and was 22 inches (56 cm) long. Paul is very healthy and robust. His calm, steady nature has already been a great support to his parents.)

Cedric was no longer working at MicroSoft, had found a new place that did natural-language translation software. I said I was glad that he wasn't working for MicroSoft, because that meant I could go back to hating the company. But the truth was that I'd never stopped hating the company--but while he worked there, I'd felt bad for hating them. It sounds like towards the end, Cedric had learned to hate the place, too. Like when he heard about exec Brian Valentine's attitude towards engineers who didn't want to submit to a new policy: "F*ck 'em, we can always hire new ones."

Cedric and I dropped of Nancy at a massage place and then we went shopping for some folding chairs and a fan so that guests could endure the heat wave by sitting on the back porch or at least feeling a breeze. (And then I could say that I've been to a Fred Meyers, but not to a Wal-Mart. Suddenly, I felt like a Washington native.)

We went to pick up Nancy at the massage place, which turned out to be a massage place and herbal apothecary. There were various jars of medicaments on wall shelves. I checked some of the labels. Most of them contained at least one thing that I was allergic to. I drew away from the walls, caught myself taking shallow breaths.

When Nancy emerged into the lobby, I was a little surprised to see the exercise ball. Little did I know that midwives had figured out that exercise balls were good for pregnant and laboring women to sit on. So exercise balls were now also "birthing balls". Nancy's masseuse was loaning her a birthing ball. I felt a little conspicuous walking to the car, three tall people carrying a huge bright yellow ball. I wanted to tell the gawkers, "Yeah, we're so tall, we use this little thing for soccer," I thought.

Nancy told us about the strange dance between scientists who are good at science and scientists who are good at office politics. The political scientists want to lobby for things, but they need the scientific scientists to point out goals. Mad scientists and glad-hand scientists.

We walked down to Green Lake. Along the way, Cedric stopped us and told me to listen. The whoop whoop of howler monkeys drifted to us from the zoo. A little bit of the jungle making its presence felt in this residential neighborhood.

The lake was green with algae and bird poop. Nancy talked about some measures the city had taken to shoo waterfowl away. Egg twizzlers had scrambled the eggs of nesting birds. If they had broken the eggs, the birds would lay new ones. By carefully scramble the contents of eggs without breaking them, they fooled the birds. No baby waterfowl hatch from swizzled eggs; fewer birds come back each year.

On the way back, Nancy and Cedric pointed out plants, naming them, while I did my best not to pass out of heat prostration. Back at the house, it was time for Nancy's nap, and time for me to head out and get ready for my next social engagement.

It's Too Late Now[^]

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