Familiar Voice on Marketplace

Marketplace is one of my favorite daily radio programs. If you've never heard it, it is worth a listen*. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an e-mail in response to a story. (Feedback, both positive and negative*, is a great way to help programs, blogs, authors, companies, etc. connect to the actual end consumer. I'm a big fan of feedback.) Anyway, I got a call yesterday asking me to read or paraphrase my letter, so they could broadcast it in their "letters from listeners" section. Needless to say, I was pretty freaking stoked.

Unfortunately, Marketplace was preempted on KUOW today by campaign coverage so no one got to hear it. (I did, however, get an e-mail from a friend back in Maine that heard my 15 seconds of fame.) Anyway, for any one interested, you can listen to/read the story on their website or I've edit it down to just my blurb for archival purposes here. I don't know if this counts as my 15 minutes of fame, but it's pretty neat anyway.

(Because it fits in so nicely, I thought I would at least mention it for those who don't remember: A couple of years ago, I got a little NPR air time on Weekend Edition Sunday, doing their weekly puzzle (with puzzle master Will Shortz). That clip is archived here. Two "appearances" on popular NPR shows. Once I win that pesky Car Talk puzzler and do something significant enough to get Terry Gross to interview me, I'll have completed the circuit!!)
Tuesday June 3 2008File under: misc

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Our Town Our Park

For those readers who reside in the Anacortes area, this is probably old news; it has been the talk of the town, front page news, etc. For the rest of you, I wanted to clue you in on a great project going on here in town.

Our Town Our Park is a community project to build a new playground at Storvik Park. The park was designed by the community (with input from kids), funded by community fund raising, and constructed using volunteer labor from the community, with all sorts of other community involvement (donated meals for the volunteer crews, donated materials, etc.). The organization and enthusiasm for the project have been great and it looks like everything is coming together wonderfully.

I went and put in my shift of volunteer labor yesterday. My team put up a little hut in the 2-5 year old section, a hut that I will be able to forever feel a special pride in*. It was amazing how many people I ran into on the build site: old teachers, parents of friends, high school friends who I haven't seen in ages. Granted the majority of the volunteers have some personal stake in the project (i.e. have kids of their own), but there were other who were there just for the community involvement.

The grand opening for the park is this evening at 5:00pm. Hopefully their website will be updated with pictures of the build in progress as well as the final project (which, I must say, comes close to rivaling the best playground of all time, South Whidbey). The whole deal has been another one of those I-sure-am-happy-to-live-in-Anacortes experiences.
Sunday June 1 2008File under: Anacortes

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FC 34 - An Industry Trend I Can Support

A non-negligible percentage of comic ideas that pass through my comic ideas list are editorial in nature. I do my best to weed those out before they make it to the big time, because the whole point of this Friday comic series is to celebrate the end of the week with a little chuckle, not stir the pot*. At least one has slipped through the cracks way back in the beginning, but all in all I've been pretty good.

This week's comic isn't blatantly editorial. In fact, one might argue that it isn't at all editorial. Good comics have allusions to real world stuff frequently. Making light of the world around us is the bread and butter of comic writers
Anyway, without further defense, here is this week's comic. As with last week's comic, I drew* it myself. This week, however, the research was much more fun.
Thursday May 29 2008File under: comic

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Frisbee Season Has Begun

It's that time of year again; the weather is warm(ish) and dry(ish) and I am starting to think about shedding a little of my winter "insulation". Everything is pointing to frisbee time again! This season started last night* with a bang. We had an amazing turnout with a great mix of veterans and first-timers. No more games of 3-on-3 or 4-on-4; we will be playing UPA regulation 7-on-7 and I couldn't be happier about it.

If you find yourself in the Anacortes area, come join us or swing by to watch. We play every Tuesday at 6:00 at Smiley's Bottom, until around September when will we move up to Storvik. All skill levels welcome!
Wednesday May 28 2008File under: Anacortes

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Folk Life 2008

"Play, Dance, Sing, Taste, Learn, Participate" – this is the slogan for the 2008 Seattle Folk Life Festival*. I think it would be fair to say that I took about 91% of that advice*. If you've ever been to a Folk Life festival at the Seattle Center, you have a general idea of the scene. For those of you who haven't, let me paint a picture.

There are stages everywhere with all kinds of music and dance that you can imagine*. In between stages, there are food and vendor booths selling your typical array of festival foods and goods. On just about every corner and tucked into any open space between stalls, there are buskers galore: jugglers, musicians, little kids doing their cute thing, and the smattering of 'performance art' folk. Just about every inch of remaining space is filled with people, esp. at midday when the weather was so gorgeous. It all combines for an atmosphere that does well to support the festival's slogan.

Highlights for me included: Spoonshine on stage and on the street corner, having an 'in' with a troupe of street performers and being able to watch their show evolve and progress*, juggling with friends new and old on the lawn as the sun was going down, and lazy, directionless time where I was free to follow my nose to good food and ears to good music.

To have a listen to some of the music from the weekend, click here. No clips from the Spoonshine or Citizen's Band shows unfortunately, but it might be worth checking out the June Madrona show from Saturday. Also, here are a few photos I snapped: people galore around the International Fountain, me seeking shelter from the sun, and the ever present Space Needle in the setting sun and at night.
Monday May 26 2008File under: Seattle, misc

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FC 33 - An Udder Cow Comic

Easily the highlight of this week's comic is not the punch line (weak at best) or the concept (hacky and obvious), but the corn. I'm pretty proud of the corn. In fact, outside of the comic part of this comic, I'm rather proud of the whole thing. I'm really starting to dig this half trace, half cut and paste, and half paint fill bucket art style I've got going on*.

(Also worth diverting your attention to* is the title. If there's such a thing as a bad cow joke, I haven't heard it. I'm all of the sudden remembering someone telling me a series of cow jokes which, taken individually, were a little on the weak side, but told as a series had me really laughing hard. I know someone was there with me. If you happen to be reading this, please remind me of these jokes or at least of the situation. It can be so frustrating having something on the tip of your memory and not being to fully grasp it....AHA!! I remember it all now! I knew having a blog was good for something. Now I can sleep tonite*.)**
Friday May 23 2008File under: comic

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Ode to Seattle Bus Tunnel

Buried beneath the bustling streets
With your single focused mind
Your people need no longer worry
About delays, weather, taxi interference

Where were you when I rode daily
This vast city's bus system
That sometimes feels so tacked on
Almost as an afterthought

You bring modernity to us
To this already modern city
And you promise us more modernity still
When light rail graces your sterile halls
Wednesday May 21 2008File under: transportation, poetry

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Greyhound Alternatives

I've mentioned before the qualms I have with Greyhound. While I appreciate the coverage they offer–bringing transportation to places that may have no other options–I've had enough bad experiences* to actively seek out alternatives. Until I started looking, I didn't even know they existed. "Bus travel" and "Greyound" were always synonymous in my mind. I was pleased to see that this isn't the case. On the off chance that you have some of the problems with Greyhound that I do, I thought I would share some alternatives I've come across.
Megabus: Serving 3 different regions (CA,NV; Midwest; Northeast) with "low cost daily express bus service". Book early and you might only pay $1 for your seat*.
Sample fare comparision: Megabus vs. Greyhound
Chicago -> Cincinnati: tomorrow $37 vs. $46; a month from now $36 vs. $50


Bolt Bus: Serving DC, Philly, NYC, and Boston with inexpensive direct routes. They also do the ticket for a buck thing, if you book far enough in advance. Free WiFi on the bus is another perk.
Sample fare comparision: Bolt Bus vs. Greyhound
D.C. -> NYC: tomorrow $20 vs. $42; a month from now $15 vs. $34


Chinatown Buses: Chinatown buses started springing up as a cheap way for people (and wares) to get from Chinatown district to Chinatown district of major cities in the Northeast corridor. It has recently become a very popular way to get from city to city for anybody. With a straightforward loading process and very extensive schedule, this is the preferred method for many east coast corridor travelers.
Sample fare comparision: NYDC Express vs. Greyhound
D.C. -> NYC: tomorrow $20 vs. $42; a month from now $20 vs. $34


Concord Trailways: Serving Maine,New Hampshire, and Boston, this is a great example of a regional alternative. Benefits over Greyhound that I've personally experienced are movies on the buses and better connection/station location in Portland, along with saving a few bucks.
Sample fare comparision: Concord Trailways vs. Greyhound
Boston -> Berlin, NH: tomorrow $20 vs. $42; (4.5 hrs vs. 14 hrs (with two transfers))



These are a few alternatives I've come across in my travels. While I haven't ridden all of them, the ones that I have proved a better experience for me than GH. I don't always discount Greyhound because they occasionally have better rates or better schedules. I've found, though, that it is always nice to have options.
Monday May 19 2008File under: travel, transportation

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Easy Like a....

After a week of hard work, Sunday mornings are supposed to be that time when we can all relax. Staying in bed late while listening to the puzzler on NPR. A big breakfast, of french toast and eggs – maybe even some fresh carrot, celery, apple juice if I am feeling saucy. Divvying up the paper and everyone retreating to read; comics here, sports page there, ads in the recycling.

For the past 8 years or so, every time I see a newspaper, there is really only one section for me: the crossword. It has become somewhat of an obsession, actually. I've worked my way through my back stash of puzzles and am now always on the lookout for more. I find myself going through recycling bins in public places to get my fix (ferries and airports are treasure troves of discarded papers). To eat breakfast without a crossword is my own little torture.

All this is to say that if in your household competition for the crossword puzzle is stiff, fear not! I've just finished creating my 5th crossword*, and I am glad to say that there are no clues* that I am ashamed of, making it my best yet. If it wasn't for a minor oversight in the grid construction*, I would be submitting it to the powers that be and expecting my $60 check in the mail.

Without further ado, I present Large Places. If you do give it a try, and I hope you do, I would love any feedback you can share. My journey to be a published crossword puzzle author can use all the help it can get.
Sunday May 18 2008File under: games

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FC 32 - For Great Service

It isn't often that I get to work directly with an artist on a comic. Most are either done via e-mail or the quick exchange of a sheet of paper. The coloring and captioning is left to me sitting by my lonely old self in front of my computer. Well, this week I had the artist on site. It was quite exciting. I got to share my input on the drawing (bald or not bald) and she got to share her input on the color ("darker!").

Gabriella not only handled the wonderful drawing this week, but she also came up with the idea, so yet again I was off the hook from trying to be clever (which is a good thing because my go to list of comics is getting pretty sparse*)

Anyway, Gabriella and I both agree that this is a good comic. And since you don't want to have a contrary opinion, I can only assume you do too.
Thursday May 15 2008File under: comic

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