Friday, January 18, 2013

Most People Only See The Outsides Of Things

Scribe Jo Sinel said that to me when I called on him one day in 1964. He was writing a sign, and he apologized for his sweat shirt and jeans. I said, “Good heavens, Mr. Sinel, I go to (a notoriously casual school)!”, and he responded, “I know, dear, but most people only see the outsides of things.”

A couple of years ago, I was walking past a University District commercial building that was being remodeled. The contractor was water-blasting many layers of paint off the rear facade, and I stopped to photograph some interesting textures. The boss came over to see what I was doing, and said, “If you want to see interesting textures, come inside.”

He was wringing his hands in distress at being required to vandalize a collection of Egyptian murals left from the building’s days as a movie house. I grabbed a few mediocre shots, and the city sent a historian by to make a competent record of the art. The theater lives on in spirit on Capitol Hill. 

The new business is covered by a false ceiling that I hope spares the remnants of the originals that celebrated the recent discovery of Tut’s tomb.

-30-  More after the jump.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Photo courtesy Flickr

A few weeks ago, I decided that it might be just as easy to paint a floor as thrash with waxing it now and then. The shiny new surfaces on the second story have tightened my cleaning game. The fresh paint is a snap to maintain, and the other day I found a way to make tending it even simpler.

The canister vacuum has a wand with an extension unit. There’s a wide floor brush with natural bristles, and I discovered I can lay a clean high-tech polyester dusting cloth on the floor, set the brush/wand array on it, and use the combination as a separate cleaning tool for dusting or light washing with a dampened cloth.

Last week-end’s hardware-fest yielded a one-gallon pressure sprayer from the garden department. Kept free of toxins, it’s good for spraying a floor with diluted neutral pH detergent from a janitorial supply. Left damp for a minute or two (janitors call this “dwell time”), a grubby floor is easy to wipe clean with the wand combination described above, or an Italian anodized aluminum extension handle and scrubbing pad holder from a janitorial supply. It’s the cheap, archival version of the system sold in grocery stores.

--30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Seattle 2013

Photo courtesy Flickr

As I approached a downtown bus stop over the last, bitter cold week-end, I noticed a man down on the pavement. He wasn’t moving, and as I approached and considered pulling out my phone, a fellow stooped over him to shake his shoulder and see if he was still breathing.

A familiar neighborhood figure stood there, too, just putting her phone away, and she said, “People were just walking by….” The other good Sam stood over the man who was down to fend off potential traffic from the alley where he lay. 

The aid car showed up in seconds, but I’m saddened by the callous behavior of the crowd. Years ago, I learned the significance of being down when I mentioned a fallen pedestrian to the desk person at the Y: three trained staffers sprinted out to see to her while a fourth called 911.

-30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hardware Heaven

Photo courtesy Flickr

One of the joys of living without a car has been discovering The Great Big Local McHardware Chain in Renton. Thanks to the county’s traffic engineers, I can hop an express bus in the downtown tunnel (as easy a walk as a transfer) and land across the street from the mothership in twenty minutes. An artisanal doughnut trailer stands at the entry, and a fine sausage stand waits at the exit.

The Ave’s Righteous Value store is good for a quick dash for one or two items, but they’re limited to serving students art and otherwise, science faculty, street kids, local landlords, and the odd homeowner and tenant. Every year or so I find it productive to do a slow cruise of the aisles of the biggest big box store I can find. I love finding the odd fifty cent item with a five hundred dollar payoff.

Saturday my partner and I started with separate carts at either end of the day’s challenge, met halfway to consult and take a breather, and made our way home with a rolling duffel full of swag. The store is a breath of fresh air in the big box world of highly evolved merchandising: it’s near Boeing turf and feels like the square old Seattle I remember from before 1980, when the local hippies wore saddle shoes when they weren’t water skiing. I came home with my wallet as thin as it would have been after a visit to a national chain, but I don’t feel used.

-30-  More after the jump.