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Gari of Sushi No Longer Blindingly Yellow!

· Posted Tuesday July 1, 2008 by jamie

I don’t make it out to the Lincoln District very often, especially since Gari of Sushi had a fire. But I thought I’d swing by and check on the progress of their remodel yesterday after a stop at REI on my way to Puget Sound Pizza, and wow… I’m sure many of you have already seen this, but the building has shed its crazy yellow cladding, and is now a normal looking brick building! Wish I had pictures, but I was sans camera. Last I heard, they are aiming for re-opening around the end of July. My only fear is that with the building being all classed up, people formerly scared of trying sushi in a bright yellow building will crowd the place up and ruin it for those of us who loved it when it was but an ugly duckling (with, mind you, the best sushi in town). I’m just excited to have great sushi again.


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Software Gardening

· Posted Sunday June 29, 2008 by jamie

I was reading the now-classic Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas software engineering bible “The Pragmatic Programmer” the other day and came across the following great passage in the refactoring section:

Rather than construction, software is more like gardening—it is more organic than concrete. You plant many things in a garden according to an initial plan and conditions. Some thrive, others are destined to end up as compost. You may move plantings relative to each other to take advantage of the interplay of light and shadow, wind and rain. Overgrown plants get split or pruned, and colors that clash may get moved to more aesthetically pleasing locations. You pull weeds, and you fertilize plantings that are in need of some extra help. You constantly monitor the health of the garden, and make adjustments (to the soil, the plants, the layout) as needed.

The engineering/construction thing is so often used in the software field that “software engineer” has come to be the accepted term (though still much to the chagrin of licensed professional engineers, I suppose). Yet this quote really captures something with this gardening idea that is more similar to what writing software is all about.

We can’t write software like we build bridges, there’s a bit more artistry to it, much as there’s artistry to gardening. Designing up front is important to have a grasp of the big picture and the pieces required to make it happen, but just important is the ability to adapt along the way, change course, do things different, ultimately with the ends of making a more elegant, more beautiful garden of code.

I think I might need to start calling myself a Software Gardener instead of a Software Engineer…


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Mini-Reviews: Maxwell's and Masa

· Posted Thursday June 26, 2008 by jamie

Over the last week, we dined at Maxwell’s Speakeasy + Lounge on St. Helens and Masa on Sixth, so I thought I’d share some thoughts.

Maxwell’s wowed us big-time. Fun and swanky 1920s-with-a-twist-of-hipness atmosphere and impressively food, which we were excited to hear was locally-sourced. Our foursome chose to order a series of appetizers and small plates, which worked really well. Highlights included the grilled broccoli, which was more the long brassica sort of broccoli than florets, and was sprinkled with delicious crispy sourdough bread crumbs. We were also impressed by the amount of food in the halibut cheeks small plate–excellent deal here! And be sure not to miss the amaretto brownie soufflé on the dessert menu, it is quite excellent. We’ll definitely be returning…I’m excited to check out the weekday “free food” happy hour sometime, which apparently happens from 4-6pm Monday-Thursday.

Masa is only 2 blocks from our house, and they’ve been open for more than two years now, but for some reason it’s the only one of the Sixth Ave “usual suspects” that we’ve never bothered to visit. (Well, ok, I’ve never eaten at Chopstix, but that’s because I don’t have to go there to know that it sucks.) I guess mixed reviews have kept us away, but we were looking to eat outside and decided to forgo our usual walkable-and-outdoor choice of E9 and finally give Masa a try. To start with, the upstairs porch is great on a sunny day, but I am somewhat fascinated by the dynamics of eating there. Apparently they don’t serve their draft beers on the porch (!?), so I opted for a bottled Negra Modelo rather than the preferred draft Dos Equis. And the shot of tequila I ordered came in a clear plastic cup…WTF? But we can get beyond those things… The food itself? Not bad, but also nothing to write home about. My veggie enchiladas were maybe a bit bland, but I will say that I enjoyed the accompanying black beans with cotija cheese, and the jicama slaw was a nice touch as well. I would be interested to see how the experience might be different in the dining room downstairs, but the food quality won’t exactly have me banging down their door for another visit. Maybe during a happy hour sometime…


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Biodiesel Homebrew Class Recap

· Posted Monday June 9, 2008 by jamie

41 brave souls came out to check out the biodiesel homebrewing class yesterday, presented by BioLyle at Suite133. We learned some chemistry, did some titration, checked out Lyle’s portable processor, and even made our own tiny batches of biodiesel in pop bottles. A good time was had by all, including (especially?) at the Paddy Coyne’s afterparty. Now we can all fight over the waste oil around town…

If you’re interested in getting involved in a co-op for biodiesel production, shoot an email to info@tacomabiodiesel.org and we’ll get you in the loop!

(All pictures courtesy of BioLyle.)


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Sponsor a Birder!

· Posted Thursday May 8, 2008 by jamie

The Tahoma Audubon Birdathon is going on right now, and birders are accepting pledges for their birding voyages, either on a per-species or flat-value basis. This is one of TAS’s biggest fundraisers of the year, which helps support their mission to “conserve and restore ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and earth’s biological diversity”.

A certain occupant of ThriceAllAmerican HQ will be journeying from “Purdy to Paradise” this Saturday on a trip that typically sees over 100 species of bird.

If you’re interested in sponsoring a birder, contact TAS, or, if you want to support Melissa, shoot me an email.


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Tacoma Biodiesel Happenings!

· Posted Tuesday April 29, 2008 by jamie

There are two really exciting biodiesel events coming up June 8th, the first being a biodiesel homebrewing class to be presented by biodiesel guru Lyle Rudensey, and the latter being a free-free-FREE biodiesel party/mixer later in the afternoon. (That’s more in the vein of free as in speech, not as in beer. Anyone is welcome to attend, but you’re on the spot to pay for any food or beverages you wish to consume.)


Image courtesy ktpupp@flickr.

I’m especially excited about the homebrew class… Petrodiesel is getting up near the $4.50/gallon mark, and commercial biodiesel is in some places well over $5.00/gallon. (APP, as of writing, is still at $4.749.) The possibility of making fuel for $1/gallon, or even anywhere under $2, is really appealing even if it means more work for me. And price aside, use of virgin oilstock for commercial biodiesel, and its effect on food supply, deforestation, and biodiversity, are increasingly troubling…switching to a waste-stream source will be awesome.

So without further ado, more details!

Biodiesel Homebrewing Class
Sunday, June 8 , 2008, 10am – 4pm

A hands-on workshop to learn all the basics to make your own high quality fuel for about $1 per gallon. In this workshop you will do titrations, make small batches of biodiesel with different oils, and learn the tricks to make quality biodiesel every time. We will also operate a small-scale “Appleseed” reactor during class. This system will be compared with the automated BioPro system which the instructor uses to facilitate fuel-making for a Bring-Your-Own-Oil type coop. The class will also cover topics, such as chemistry of the reaction, quality control, vehicle compatibility, cold weather issues, methanol recovery, disposal of wastes, and how to run a successful coop.

Class Fee: $60 each or $100 for couples
To Register: PayPal to: classes@biolyle.com, or online at: http://biolyle.com/workshops
Location: Provided upon registration
Instructor: Lyle Rudensey, M.Ed. aka “BioLyle.” Experienced biodiesel educator and biodiesel homebrewer for over 5 years. www.biolyle.com

Biodiesel Enthusiasts Afterparty/Mixer
Sunday, June 8 , 2008, 4pm-ish,
Paddy Coyne’s Irish Pub, 815 Pacific Ave, Tacoma

Following the workshop, we will be gathering at Paddy Coyne’s for drinks/food (no-host) and a chance to talk informally about biodiesel issues, network with other “enthusiasts”, and potentially even form some small homebrewing co-ops. Both class attendees and non-attendees are encouraged to join us, veterans and newbies alike! (Paddy Coyne’s is family friendly, so the under-aged are welcome.) No charge to attend!


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Tree Butchering on Stadium Way

· Posted Wednesday April 16, 2008 by jamie

I got a report and some pictures from Claudia that some of the trees along Stadium Way had fallen victim to something of a hatchet job.

Seems we’re perhaps seeing the reverse of the latest from the old Mattson Mansion site there, neighbors are complaining about the new trees being planted by historical destructionist and future McMansion resident Eric Russell. Here, the millionaires appear to be taking the trees down.

I believe these trees are location on public land. I think it also is worth mentioning that the Mayor’s “Green Ribbon” task force also set a goal of planting 200,000 new trees in the city to combat global warming.

Now, I will admit out front that I don’t know all of the details of what happened here closely, but Claudia’s contact at the city suggested that property owners were most likely able to get a permit to cut the trees, possibly in part because view properties are more highly taxed. (The only problem being that the Granville is subject to the 10 year tax abatement for downtown, multi-unit buildings.)

Pull it all together, and here’s what I find troubling:

I hope that I’m just jumping to conclusions, that this is all a big misunderstanding, that somehow there’s a valid reason beyond selfishness that these trees were cut down. But it’s hard to understand how in any world the public good should come after the individual good, why we should be allowing trees to get uglied all up while we’re saying we want more of them… And if it really is about selfishness, I hope we can find ways to keep it from happening next time, and the time after, and…


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How Did I Miss This?

· Posted Tuesday April 15, 2008 by jamie

New Seattle local-Onion-wannabe The Naked Loon featured our own Tacoma Dome as the new home of the Sonics in their inaugural April Fools issue. Go T-Dome!

(In a post on the P-I’s Big Blog, Naked Loon creator Tim Ellis stated, “It’s always fun to poke fun at Tacoma,” so I guess we can expect more…)

Check it out at The Naked Loon.


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Another Waterfront Ballpark Option

· Posted Thursday April 3, 2008 by jamie

Seems architect David Boe has his own ideas about a downtown waterfront location for the Rainiers ballpark, as he mentioned over on my earlier post.

Using the New York San Francisco Giants ballpark as inspiration…

Boe immediately thought of the end of the peninsula on the east side of the Foss Waterway, where the infamous tank farm now sits:

Busting out his trusty sketchpad, we get this awesome rendering of what could be (click for larger):

I’ve gotta say, it would be awfully tempting to quit my job and become a water taxi pilot of something like this ever came to fruition.

Update: More discussion here.


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Play Ball! (On the Water?)

· Posted Thursday April 3, 2008 by jamie

It’s here! Opening Day for your Tacoma Rainiers! We’ve got our 7 game series tickets and I’m excited for game one tonight at Cheney Stadium.

Speaking of Cheney, there has been some interesting discussion lately on the topic of the stadium. It seems that the City of Tacoma, Pierce County, Metro Parks, and the Tacoma School District are tossing around some ideas involving redevelopment of the complex that includes Cheney Stadium into a “recreational village” with condos, shopping, etc. (much to the consternation of many neighborhood activists, mind you). But regardless of its merits, the topic did reignite some of the “what if” scenarios that have come up in the past regarding the ideal location for baseball in Tacoma.

In the past, several creative ideas have been suggested. One of my favorites proposed a new waterfront stadium at the former Asarco site. Another interesting suggestion that came up was to tear down the struggling Tacoma Dome and rebuild there (but would that make us too much like Seattle?).

In a recent Tacoma Daily Index article, Justin Carleton (aka Frinklin) of No Rhubarb offered his thoughts on the ideal “home of the Rainiers”:

...my best-case scenario would be to tear down Cheney Stadium, not rebuild on that site, and find a place where they could go back downtown or back down to the Hilltop. Be closer to where people are. Baseball is meant to be downtown. For all of baseball’s romanticizing itself as the sport being born on the plains — this ‘Field of Dreams’ kind of stuff — baseball was built in downtown New York. It was built in Manhattan. It moved out of Manhattan when it moved to Queens.

...which lead to this thread of conversation on FeedTacoma, wherein I tossed out a few ideas of my own.

Historically, the home of baseball in Tacoma was the Athletic Park (below) at 15th and Sprague, now the site of Peck Field.

I appreciate the historical significance of this site quite a bit, and it would be neat to see that recognized by the organization. It doesn’t hurt that I could walk there quite easily, too. But unfortunately I don’t think there is enough space for both a stadium and the supporting parking on the site…

Besides, I like the appeal of a site that is downtown, maybe even on the water, so I took a look at the aerial views to see what might be possible. Not seeing a lot on the west side of the Foss Waterway, I peeked into the Tideflats, where my attention was immediately grabbed by the site of the Supervalu warehouse, circled in the below image (near Johnny’s Dock restaurant).

Now, granted I don’t even know if Supervalu would be interested in forfeiting this location, but let’s just dream for a sec. Plop in a cut-and-paste image of Portland’s much-touted PGE Park, home of the minor-league Beavers, and voilà!

Killer! A stadium right on the water. Lots of room for parking. We could even add some additional mixed-use stuff on the site: condos, retail, what have you…create the “recreational village” here.

So maybe it’s not right in the downtown core… But as long as we’re dreaming, if we toss in a foot ferry that runs from the promenade by the Museum of Glass and Thea’s Landing across to a dock in front of the Stadium, we’ve effectively connected it to downtown. (If we want to be really fancy, add additional foot ferry stops at other waterfront locations: base of the Murray Morgan Bridge, Thea’s Park, the upcoming Urban Waters, even out in Old Town. Fun commute option for people who live in Old Town or work at Urban Waters. Anyone checked out the ones in Vancouver, B.C.?)

One more assist from PGE Park in the cut-and-paste department…let’s imagine the view of downtown from my proto-stadium:

Ahhh…with views like that, I might buy season tickets just for the right to go take it in all summer long.

Update: David Boe revealed his location idea in the comments below, and sent some sketches along. See here for his killer idea…

Update: More discussion here.


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