Category Archive: Bellevue

Hot Tub Time Machine: 64 copies now available at King County Libraries

Your tax dollars at work: King County Library System is the proud owner of 64 copies of Hot Tub Time Machine. Now, you can debate the merits of our libraries carrying large video collections, but there’s no debate that this is a frivolous use of money.

  • Why can’t people who want to watch Hot Tub Time Machine go to Netflix, Blockbuster, or rent the video on demand?
  • Why is the government competing with private companies to provide this service?

Here’s a scarier fact: The waiting list to watch Hot Tub Time Machine is 516 people long. Come on, people! There are plenty of copies of Schindler’s List available. (Or 147 copies of Paul Blart: Mall Cop)

“Buying Locally” from big businesses makes sense too

I’m a big fan of buying locally. For items like food at a farmer’s market, there are huge benefits to the buyer, seller, and community:

  • Buyer: Healthier food that has not been siting in a warehouse or trailer bed for days or weeks
  • Seller: Lower costs of shipping and disintermediation
  • Community: Stimulates local economy by keeping more money in the community; reduces externalities like fossil fuels

While Seattle has double digit farmers markets, there isn’t a similar rally around other products and services based in the Seattle area, especially for big, locally-based companies. The number of iPhones in this town is shocking, as Seattleites spurn local companies HTC, Microsoft, and T-Mobile. Nobody’s selecting their airline tickets based on if the plane is a Boeing or Airbus. People weren’t flocking to wear Eddie Bauer during the company’s recent struggles.

While the benefits of “Buy Local” aren’t as big or obvious for products other than food, the community benefits just as much. It keeps more money in the local economy. It generates more jobs, keeping the local economy healthy. And a healthier Seattle economy reduces unemployment, increases salaries, and improves home values.

Buying locally doesn’t always make sense. For instance, if the price is significantly higher, your personal cost might outweigh the benefits to the community. But in instances where there is little/no cost difference, “Buying Locally” is the way to go.

I’ve already been instituting a change. When I moved here I got a T-Mobile phone. Bing is my default search engine. And my shopping on Amazon.com has increased, to the detriment of other ecommerce sites. Can I go further? Sure. But it’s a good start.

No trains in our neighborhood!

“Not in my backyard” is a common phrase people say in response to initiatives that are positive for society but could have negative impacts to the surrounding area. Nuclear power plants, landfills, and homeless shelters are a few examples.

Add light rail to the list. Folks in South Bellevue have taken it a step further by actually printing up signs with a modified form of the phrase: “No trains in our neighborhood.”

The signs are part of an initiative by BetterBellevue.org to stop Sound Transit from running light rail through the neighborhood.

I think the signs are a bit much.

Candidate for Senate from Washington state – Goodspaceguy

“Goodspaceguy” is quite a senatorial name (3rd from top in the picture below from my primary ballot). But, who is “Goodspaceguy,” and why is he running for Senate?

His blog states “And I’m just some guy who has studied astronomy who advocates getting our orbital space colonies started. You have already paid the money, but we don’t have the starter colonies.”

That’s about all I needed to read. Reminds me of Dirt Woman who ran for mayor of Richmond – not worth the time.

May was a cold, wet month in Seattle

As far as weather goes, May sucked. And June isn’t off to a very good start.

It wasn’t just that it felt cold. May’s temperatures were significantly lower than normal. In May, 21 of the 31 days had temperatures below the normal low. Only 9 days were above the average high. The temperature was in the 40s 25 of 31 days.

And it was a rainy month, with 21 days seeing some precipitation. Rainfall was 44% above normal – 2.8 inches versus the normal of 2.0 inches. April showers brought… May showers.

When will summer start?

Great Marketing: Zeeks Pizza incorporates Google Maps on mailer

I was really impressed when I opened up my mailbox today. Zeeks Pizza, a new restaurant opening in Bellevue in a few days, sent a flyer with coupons. But that’s not all. Inside was a map with directions on how to get there from my house.

I’ve never seen Google Maps integrated into something offline so effectively. Kudos, Zeeks. I will definitely plan on cashing in your coupons to try your pizza.

Winning restaurant concept? Sardines, Grilled Cheese, and PB&J

Lot No. 3 is a new restaurant that just opened in Bellevue. It’s owner is the same group that created Barrio and Purple, both Downtown Bellevue staples and huge successes. However, the concept behind Lot No. 3 appears to be misguided.

Here are some of the sandwiches offered on the menu

  • PB & J $6.75 – with bacon
  • GRILLED CHEESE $7.25
  • BACON & EGG SALAD $8.50
  • THE DOG $6.50

Now, which one sounds like something you’d order – the $6.75 Peanut butter & jelly (and bacon) sandwich, or the $7.25 grilled cheese sandwich. All these things you can make at home in a few minutes. Also, you won’t be spending an arm and a leg for them. You can get a cheaper hot dog at a Mariners or Seahawks game. Anyone who orders a $7.25 grilled cheese sandwich deserves a scolding from their mother.

Perhaps there’s a novelty of eating here once. But what would make you come back? Are you really going to want another $8.50 Egg Salad Sandwich when you could buy 4 dozen eggs for the same price and make your own?

The appetizer menu isn’t much better.

  • POPCORN – $3.00
  • PRETZEL – $3.25
  • SARDINES – $6.25
  • DEVIL’ISH EGGS – $4.25
  • PLATE O’ BACON – $6.00

$3.00 for popcorn? The movie theater has cheaper prices (and bigger bags). I can’t wait to see the stats on sardines sales. The only thing this menu is missing is SPAM.

Whoever came up with this concept will find out very quickly if consumers are willing to shell out this much money for basic food. My guess is no.

Floating bridges make for a fun drive during a storm

I’ve never seen such a proliferation of floating bridges until I came out to the Pacific Northwest. We have many of them out here, including the two connectors across Lake Washington – SR-520 and I-90. It’s cheaper to build a bridge on pontoons than a standing bridge, and that’s the method planners have chosen, including the upcoming 520 replacement bridge.

A really cool part about a floating bridge is how the bridge affects waves on the water; during a storm, one side of the bridge will be rocking, while the other side calm as if nothing is happening. During a recent trek across the bridge during a particularly windy day that took out power in West Seattle, I witnessed the following…

Note how choppy the right side is, but the left side appears unaffected. The pontoons block the wind and waves from affecting Lake Washington north of 520.

Here’s another picture of how the waves of water were actually crashing onto the road itself. It was an interesting drive.

Seattle’s shortcut to getting an NBA team back

There’s no quick remedy for getting an NBA team back in the state of Washington. Fans are angry infuriated, and need time to heal the deep wounds. There’s no stadium suitable for a successful franchise. There are no franchises that are immediately movable to the Seattle area. Clearly, this is a long term problem that needs some creative solutions.

However, there is one scenario where a team could become available quicker than expected…

  1. LeBron James leaves Cleveland for New York / New Jersey
  2. Fans stop attending Cavs games
  3. Cleveland franchise looks to move

Cleveland is not impervious to franchise pressure. The Browns moved in 1996, something previously unthinkable for the city’s most beloved team.

Cleveland isn’t exactly a thriving mecca. It’s population has been on a steady decline, although the metropolitan population hasn’t fallen as fast. Cleveland, like nearby Detroit, has suffered greatly during the great recession.

Don’t get me wrong, Seattle still has a lot of problems on its end to solve. Finding a suitable stadium location downtown will be a very difficult process. An NBA franchise might need to look to Bellevue or a similar suburb for more affordable land. Further, pairing the NBA team with an NHL team is critical to a fully-utilized stadium.

But, there’s hope. And Cleveland’s loss could be Seattle’s gain. How does the “Seattle Cavaliers” sound?

2001 building to be torn down due to shoddy construction; what’s next

A 25-story apartment building in Seattle was deemed unsafe for habitation a few weeks ago and will be torn down due to the astronomical price tag of the repairs. The shocker is that the building was only built 9 years ago.

Will we see more buildings and houses deemed unsafe? This building came before the housing bubble, so one can only imagine how much worse construction got in the boom years. Was this a fluke or a trend?

Everyone’s heard of the horror stories of boom housing: Defective Chinese drywall, mold, and other housing maladies are traits of construction and renovation from 2004-2008. But the problem could be more wide spread than that.

But who’s ever heard of a recently constructed building needing to be torn down? With hundred-year-old buildings standing intact, what made this one so dangerous and costly to correct?

If we start to see more of these across the country, it could cause a shift in the housing market. By forcing the of dismantling our worst housing stock, the government could shore up the housing glut right now and bring stability to the market.

Here’s what would happen if suddenly the government deemed x% of units unsafe…

The units sold/rented would decrease, but the price would increase. It’s the perfect scenario for housing.

Now, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and I don’t think there will actually be a coordinated effort  to make this happen. But if the construction is as bad as it appears, it could happen anyway.

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