Monday, February 1, 2010

Competition is good

Una nueva tienda de comestibles se ha abierto en Spokane. Es muy bueno. Espera, ¿por qué es que sale en español?

Let's start again. A new grocery store has opened in Spokane. El Mercado del Pueblo is located at 1814 North division just north of the White Elephant (a store worth its own love letter for another time). Being so used to large grocery stores that never seem to have much actual selection (is half this isle nothing but Doritos?), El Mercado del Pueblo is a small space surprisingly full of merchandise including a full-service bakery and a small deli. They have an amazing selection of dried chilies. They have varietal chili powders and other herbs and spices you won't find in glass bottles at the local supermarket. Sodas, canned cactus, 4 meeelion
piñatas and the candy needed to fill them.

But the most impressive aspect of El Mercado del Pueblo is filling our basket with tomatillos, dried chilies, four bottles of Jarritos and some bakery items, our bag of groceries cost less than $9. A quick cost comparison with De Leon puts
El Mercado del Pueblo in the winning category on price alone.

El Mercado del Pueblo isn't the only new store in town. Main Market, Spokane's new co-op grocery, has also opened bringing some much need competition for Huckleberry's. Located at 44 West Main in an old Goodyear service center, the grocery is still ramping up to full operation. It is hard to tell yet, but I hope the Main Market won't follow Huckleberry's lead and imagine that selling niche varieties of products is more important than selling staples. For example, Huckleberry's sells 40 different types of rice but they don't stock medium grain white rice. If Main Market gets their mix together, hopefully it will force Huckleberry's to reexamine their stocking issues.

Here's to competition waking up some businesses that havn't had much up to this point. Hopefully, it will be better for everyone.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Let's check in on the Charming Wreck

So, one of the major topics of this blog, as stated in our masthead, is "the ongoing trials of an old mostly-not-haunted Charming Wreck of a house."

Today I am happy to announce the completion of a project. We have a room we call The Nexus. It serves the same function as a hallway, except that The Nexus is more or less square with 7 doors, one linen cupboard and a telephone nook. The Nexus connects to every room upstairs (except the living room) and also grants access to the basement.

As you might imagine, this room gets a lot of traffic and it has a LOT of trim ... and doors ... and drawers ... and a telephone bench ... which have all now been painted white. The walls are gray (not yellow). The ceiling is blue (not old house white). The light fixture has been replaced with something that doesn't cast a yellow light. And The Nexus looks good. This project is done! Let the re-population of the linen closet commence!

Of course, "done" doesn't mean "finished." The Charming Wreck is far too old to ever be finished, and The Nexus is no exception. The new current house project is to complete a long delayed office remodel in the basement. Once that room is available, we can move the current office out of the guest bedroom. Then the guest bedroom (just off The Nexus) can be painted with blue walls, a gray ceiling and white trim (using some paint we happen to have left over). THEN we will re-enter The Nexus as both it and the Guest Bedroom get matching ceiling moldings to tie them together.

But all that is for the future. Today's secret word is DONE.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Notes from a 2007 Dreamweaver Class

In 2007, my company sent three of us to a Dreamweaver class put on by Compumaster at the airport Ramada. We learned nothing except why you should never take classes from Compumaster. Apparently I did make some notes (and doodles) on various sheets of Ramada note pad stationary which I rediscovered this morning.

------- Sheet 1 -------
9:00 AM
*Ad for Silverlight
*Ad for Tablet PC
Wow! The program has an Interface AND it works "like a program"!

9:30 AM
How to set up preferences - you won't know how you'll want them set until you know how to use the program
It records history > "like a macro"
Bitterness about adapting to change

10:00 AM
Index.htm should be your root page. Good thing the program automatically names it that way then.
Don't make live updates to the server
*An ad for Microsoft servers. Unix is apparently bad.

10:30 AM
"I have a big bladder"
Tools work great if everyone follows standard procedure. Which apparently he's not covering in this class.
Story board your site before you create it.

11:00 AM
*Don't use Dreamweaver - No one will support it in a few years.
*Hey! Compumaster sells books!
Only reason to use Dreamweaver is for database work. "Any free editor is better" I'm so glad we're paying you to teach us about this "useless" program then!

1:00 PM
*Silverlight Ad part 2 -- Apparently Flash Video sucks and will be dead within a year.
*Tablet PC Ad -- Boy do you want one of these.
*While we're at it, SQL Server is awesome.
*Flash is dead. Consumers only want Silverlight.
You kids don't know how lucky you have it.

3:00 PM
*Expressions Web ad -- So much better than Dreamweaver. You should have taken that class.
*Silverlight Suite! You'll love it!

-------Sheet 2------
Drinking game! (I remember we brainstormed this durring the lunch break)
"Son of a glitch"
"I'm under contract"
"S will happen"
"I can not mention names"
"Guess what?"
"I'm a partner with Microsoft." <-- Really?!? NEVER would have guessed. -------Sheet 3------- I'm teaching you DREAMWEAVER and I'm a bitter man. (This is paired with a sketch of a funny/grumpy face)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ginkgo Watch 2008 - April

Last year, I posted about my special secret tree friend, a ginkgo that grew on one end of Riverfront Park. I use the past tense because, late last summer, the ginkgo and many other trees in the vicinity were cut down. Those trees surrounded an amphitheater at the east end of the park. And honestly, they were originally planted 35 years ago to shield the theater from the pathways beyond. It takes a lot of young trees to shield a theater. After 30 years of growing and over growing, it was time for a change.

And, it really was a positive change. The amphitheater is visible again (and rehabilitation has begun). You can see the river now where it splits to surround the park. And this area now looks like it is part of Riverfront Park, and not some forgotten corner.

So the parks department thinned the trees. And, on a second little hill that used to be jammed full of pines, there is another ginkgo.

Man my observation skills aren't very good. Goodbye ginkgo friend. Hello new ginkgo friend. I'll see you next month.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Road Trip! - Chicago

In March, I traveled to Chicago for a convention. It was called GlobalShop and it was about store fixtures and Point-of-Purchase advertising. Woo-hoo! But I did do a little sight seeing, and ate a lot of pizza while I was there.

First I had to get there though. I flew Northwest into St. Paul. Which is an odd airport in that all of the terminals you can easily get to are operated by Northwest or an affiliate airline. As Airports go it is a very busy closed shop. Oh sure, they have one international terminal. But even that is used primarily by KLM, an affiliate.

Apparently, it is also the home of the Mall of America. Honestly, I thought it would be, well, bigger.

It rained while I was in Chicago, but it wasn't very windy. My hotel was in an area of the city called North Loop. The original Pizzaria Uno was just a few blocks away (very yummy) and I was also just a block or two from the Miracle Mile (high end shops and an Apple Store) and about six blocks away from this view of the river. The tower under construction is the Trump Tower and Hotel. My hotel, a Courtyard Marriott, was a 12-story place hiding behind the Trump.

I was also fairly close to Millennium Park which is home to the big silver bean, some giant video walls and a great outdoor concert facility. Parking? under your feet. The bean is a lot more impressive than I believed from just looking at pictures.

Under your feet. If I have any lasting impression of Chicago, it is layers upon layers of city. Many of the roadways are stacked two to three deep in places. On one bus, we came out of a tunnel to a busy intersection, took a ramp up to another covered area with a busy intersection and then came up again into a covered intersection (many stories of parking above) before heading out into the light. Its like, every time Chicago reinvented itself, it covered up the layer before but left the systems in place.

I had a fun three days in Chicago. But am happy to be back in Spokane.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring almost here

Yes, the first day of spring was back on March 20th. But it snowed again last Sunday (briefly) and there is still some snow in the yard. Climate change is not going well for those of us who would prefer a bit more warm. But things may actually start warming up this week and the last ofthe snow drifts may be gone soon. Its just that the last time it felt like this, we woke up to many inches of snow. Here's hoping spring will actually start soon.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


So there's a meteor crater outside of Winslow, Arizona. It is a very large hole in the ground.

You aren't allowed to hike to the bottom of the crater for "scientific" reasons, although I would guess in this instance, "scientific" = "liability. So instead, the gift shop has set up a diorama for photo ops, so you can send out pictures of yourself at the "bottom of the meteor crater."

Interpret Matt's expression here:

a) I have made an important scientific discovery at the bottom of this large hole!
c) I have paid $30 so that my wife can take a picture of me in front of a picture of rocks!