leff got a bonus

leff got a bonus, originally uploaded by rakkadeer.

The end of the quarter is upon us. Actually, it's well past. But bonus checks post this week. So I converted all that crunch time hard work into a time sink.

xbox looks pretty awesome on this dowhoppy. It has special 'game ports' that don't do the goofy filtering stuff that these new fangled tv's so love to do. So maybe I'll replay bioshock. It'll look so purty.

Achievement Unlocked

I'm talking about Mass Effect again (not Redfin engineering employee of the quarter, although that did happen this week. go me!). My obsessive drive to complete it finally paid off today, when I, um, completed it. This makes me a 'completionist' according to the game. It's not a word, but that hardly matters.

magnum Shepard

What does matter is I kicked the bad guy in the nuts. Figuratively of course. More technically I shot him a whole bunch of times. And his metal minions.

I enjoyed the game pretty well after I realized I was doing it in the wrong order. Trying to do the second to last big thing, right out of the starting gate, was pretty frustrating. I kept thinking how hard this thing was and trying not to throw the controller.

So then I over compensated. Did every last little mission. Got tons of XP; leveled up really high. Got rich enough to have all the best equipment. The mission of death and failure was actually pretty easy when properly equipped. So was the last, big climax.

But that's ok. I play games, as I've said, to explore. Unfortunately, that got a little tedious. Only a few of the small missions stood out. There were only about three building layouts. Most planets had 1 annomoly, 1 debris field, and 1 building to explore. You get tired of running through the same halls all the time, even if the shipping containers are laid out slightly differently.

Still, I might replay it. I want to see what it would be like to play it as an asshole (instead of the nice guy that I did this time).

pictures of the warwick! [architecture friday update]

In defiance of the unwritten law of the Warwick, I have photographed the outside. If you don't hear from me again, it's because the Warwick's secret police have come for me. They will have shipped me off to the the labor camps in the eastern wasteland (Spokane).

The Warwick Hotel
It's a little severe, wouldn't you say?

I don't know what they're afraid of though. This picture doesn't reveal the existence of the secret KGB elevators or how the surveillance equipment is hidden (fire alarms, phone, tv, pinholes in all the pictures).

Oh, I've said too much. They are coming. I...

The view from the Warwick [architecture friday]

Last week I had the chance to go up the Warwick. The Warwick itself is an ugly bit of concrete with a rather comical definition of 'balcony'.

balcony at the Warwick hotel
Guest: Hello, room service, can we get some deck chairs?
RS: Sure, but you have to leave them in the hall.

The view from one of those south facing ledges (with disturbingly shaky railings) is fantastic. I posted some of these on flickr last week. 1 2 3. Here are some of my other favorites.

downtown closeup
Old and newish

fancy roof deck, downtown, seattle
Roof Deck Jealousy is the name of my next band

I have to admit to liking that new wa-mu tower (the one with SAM in it)

almost done
I'm not sure I like this one. I think it was better as a skeleton

You'll notice that there aren't any pictures of the Warwick itself (except to make fun of the balconies). It's so ugly that their own website doesn't even have any outside shots. The best I could find for you is this virtual tour.

warwick hotel virtual tour screenshot
"I'm so ugly I give me

can't blog, gaming

I was going to interview Rakka (sorry, inside joke, she will die laughing when she sees this. update: she did). Instead I'm going to play mass effect (I told you I'd get stuck on it).

Oh, but here's a thing. We beat craft blog to the punch again.

That pillow is already winging it's way to my couch. You snooze you loose, bitches!

It's a party: counter balance park opens

counter balance park opening, originally uploaded by leff.

I've been wanting them to do something with the gravel pit at Queen Anne and Roy since I moved to Seattle. Apparently they've been thinking the same thing, for a long time. One of the speakers said the project has been chugging along at the grass roots level for 11 years.

Thanks people, I'm gonna go to this park all the time!

more pictures

Ruby on Rails Position...

I've been a bad blogger this week, I know. It's another one of those crunch time things. But I have to take 5 minutes to tell you this story.

I've spent the whole day trying to train gmail to treat these new "Ruby on Rails Position..." spam messages as spam. I've received 87 of them since I turned off the computer late last night. Then, just now I get a "Please Stop Group Replies [Was: Ruby on Rails position...]" and I'm thinking damn, these spammers are getting devious! This spam bot is simulating a real conversation!

So I look at it again. It's not actually a spam bot. All those names are real names. Those emails are real emails. Some dude collected a list of address, probably by hand, and tried to crowd source his dev position. Apparently he couldn't find the BCC field.

I was shocked. Hats off to the 'No more reply all' guy though.

Here we go again

mass effect, originally uploaded by leff.

Another video game? Already. I just finished BioShock and GTA4. It's no reason to stop gaming. Or even to pause. Instead, it's time for Mass Effect.

There wasn't that much customization possible for an rpg. This is as crazy as I could make my dude look.

magnum Shepard

That's not that crazy. Unfortunately.

There seems to be a pretty steep learning curve with the combat. Maybe it's because I don't play a lot of games with squads, but it's not clicking in to place very quick.

The driving sucks. Aiming changes the camera angle, which changes what up does. That's stupid. Can we get GTA driving controls stuck on the snow tank please?

Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center [architecture friday]

You saw this one coming, right? I told you I would be talking about it all week.

Let me start by explaining how much I love the us national park aesthetic. Ok. Picture me sticking my arms out all the way, with just the tips of my fingers metaphorically wrapped around my love and saying "this much". Some of my favorite memories of my grandparents involve trailer camping in national parks. I guess the visuals just sort of stuck.

Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center

What surprised me is that what I like about national parks has a name: National Park Service Rustic. Not that it should be surprising. The aesthetic is so consistent, right across the country, that it must be built to a clear style guide.

But of course, the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center isn't NPS Rustic. It was built as part of Mission 66, an initiative to catch up with the massive post war demand in the 50s. The thing about NPS Rustic is that very labor intensive. Great for WPA projects, not so much when you're in a hurry.

Observation Deck, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
Observation Deck, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center

So what we've got here is a mid century modern public building with a little NPS Rustic thrown in. How could I not be in love with this place? Answer: no way. I'm super sad that it's getting torn down next year. I'm incredibly happy I got to experience it before it went. I'm sorry the pictures don't really convey how... perfect it feels to be there.

Ovservation Deck Celing, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
Observation Deck Celing, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center

The reason that they're tearing it down is because it's incredibly inefficient. One of the principles of NPS Rustic is that the building should be suited its the environment. Mid century modern, on the other hand, couldn't give two shits. The future was so bright that practical considerations, like how many hundreds of gallons of fuel a day it might take to keep the 96 feet of snow from collapsing a lightly domed roof, were not considered important enough to stop construction.

Ramp, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
Ramp, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center

Now that gas is so expensive that the pumps max dollar limit hits before the tank is full, it maybe is time to rethink that. Sill, I wish they could move it down the hill, instead of just crushing it up.

Picnic Area, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
Picnic Area, Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
at least, that's what the sign said

Rakka had some better pictures than me. Here's one.

Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
Photo Credit: Rakka

[where: paradise, washington]

mel in passing.

I saw Mel today (well, Kristen Schaal). She's in town for sp20, but today she was just strolling down first in Bell Town with her man. I was on the bus so I didn't say hi. Maybe this will come up if she ever ego surfs. Hi Kristen!


I did say at one point that I wasn't sure about bioshock. At Chris' urging I gave it another try. I'm glad I did. I finished it this weekend (yes, I've been obsessing over two video games. It's called multi-tasking). Suspension of disbelief was still an issue, but I got into it after I finally got through the "three big daddies and no weapons" room. The rocket launcher changed a lot.

See what I did there? I made the assumption that you know what big daddies are. BioShock has been out for a while, so I just assumed. But that makes an ass out of u and me. This is a big daddy (note, like the movie with adam sandler, he is not funny):

big daddy
He's one mean mother... shut your mouth! just talking about big daddy.

(Sorry about the image cross posting. Blogger is being stupid with uploads right this minute, and I'm impatient)

The story grew on me, eventually. Then it was too short. But the thing I really liked is the setting. It would be beautiful if it wasn't full of splicer crap. Freaking splicers and their crap. I'd do a whole architecture post about it if I could get the pictures to come out.

big daddy with little sister
Awww. The big sweetie is just protecting the little girl...
while she extracts magic fluid from corpses. Ewww.
What a difference a vowel makes.

Speaking of which, all video game systems are networked, and they all have a dash thing that comes up over the game. Why is there not a built in screen shot button that can send a jpg to an email address? I would use the hell out of that.

Plasmids get to be more fun as it gets easier to get them

Really though. The setting would be so nice if it was clean and well lit. Can we set an animal crossing type game in BioShock (Rapture Crossing?). A game where I can get an apartment under the sea and just stroll around going to shows and enjoying how pretty everything is? Is it weird that this is my big take away from the game?

everything at once

No, not a set on flickr. It's an online presence aggregator. It's swurl.com. Mine: leff.swurl.com.

I think it's kind of slashdotted right now, but we'll see how it does after a couple days.

mt. rainier is out and I'm not on it

mt. rainier is out and I'm not on it, originally uploaded by leff.

See, this is what I'm talking about. Today was beautiful. I'd totally would have been able to see that mountain if I was all up ons.

a mt. rainier 4th... well 6th.

Ah, it was so nice to get out of town. I would have been pretty awesome if we saw the mountain, since drove half way up the damn thing (and yes, today it's sunny and I'm not at work and it would have been perfect). I have terrible luck with weather on volcanoes, ref.

It's ok though. Because it was still a fantastic day. Outdoorsy Seattlites already know how easy it is to get to Mt. Rainier, but for us city mice it wasn't intuitively obvious. Only now am I beginning to understand the full potential of car sharing.

You've already seen the pictures on flickr, so why don't we do some blog exclusives. eh?

Interior of Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
Interior of Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center

I really love the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center. I'll probably bore you with details on friday. For now, I'm just glad I made it up there before they tear it down next year. This is the outside:
Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center

Observation Deck, upstairs in the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center
Observation Deck, upstairs in the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center

Visibility on top of the mountain wasn't just kind of bad, it was very bad. We walked around the back of the Paradise Inn because we couldn't tell where the front was. We found it eventually.

Paradise Inn Entryway, Paradise, Mt. Rainier, Washington
Paradise Inn Entryway

There are a couple of fantastic waterfalls on the road up to paradise. Narada falls, for all it's beauty, was also very wet. My pictures didn't come out all that well. Christine falls was easy to photograph though.

Christine Falls

Christine Falls, falling

Ok, enough of this for now. Just be warned, it's probably all I'll talk about all week.

[where: Mt. Rainier, Washington]

The Exchange Building [architecture friday]

I was really busy last week, and so I skipped my building fetish post. Well, today's the start of a four day weekend, so let's look at some reinforced concrete!

This week it's the Exchange Building, in downtown. It's deco! *swoons*

Top View, Exchange Building, Seattle, WA

It's so hot, I'm going to let it speak for itself. For the most part. You know I can't help a quick ramble now and again. Anyway, check this place out. Even the signage is nice.

Signage, Exchange Building, Seattle, WA

Lots of nice details.

Close up, Exchange Building, Seattle, WA

And quite a nice shape.

Exchange Building, Seattle, WA

The entrance is on 2nd is so pretty that my first week working downtown I went to the sundries store in the lobby for lunch. It was a crummy lunch, but a wonderful excuse to mill around in the building.

2nd Ave Entrance, Exchange Building, Seattle, WA

Speaking of work, I really need to do a post about the Dexter Horton building. Which is where I work. See, this is all coming together. It was designed by the same dude as what did the Exchange. He had a certain flair. I think I'm a fan of this John Graham.

[where: 821 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98104] [map]

finally made the credits roll on gta iv

GTA IVYes, many autos were theifed. Many pedestrians run down. Ramps were jumped. And missions accomplished. But Earth was not shattered.

I played it obsessively, but not as much as some of the previous ones. I had hoped for a big jump in gameplay, but alas, it was only an incremental improvement. A small increment.

Also, I hated all but two of the characters. Especially the ones that were supposed to be my friends. I enjoyed being able to knife the busker over and over, but why couldn't I do it to Brucie? God, I wanted to stab that guy soooo bad.

So, this gameplay thing. The city is huge, and detailed, and I can buy hot dogs for health. But I still can't pick stuff up unless it's a gun (or I'm on one specific mission at the begining that got my hopes up). There's just so much detail I wanted to be able to treat the city like it was real and I was a real person in it. But yah can't.

In the end it's still just an overblown arcade game.