Articles

2022

A New Look for This Site

Starting today, I’ve upgraded this web site to use newer software and style, and to feature some more information on the front page. I hope it makes this si...

The New Costs of Travel

In the summer of 2019, I redeemed some frequent flyer miles for a vacation to Scandinavia that I intended to take during the following spring. I postponed ...

The Pandemic’s Third Year

It’s been over three months since I started my new job and I have spent zero days in the office. I continue to work from home (WFH) every day and I expect ...

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2021

The Bus Has Never Been Such a Great Value

The last time I flew out of Seattle, last week to visit family for Thanksgiving, I opened the Lyft app on my phone. For the roughly 18-mile trip to the airpo...

Boomerang!

Earlier this month I said goodbye to Tableau after 7 years of service. I accepted and started a new position at Amazon Web Services as a Senior Front-End Eng...

Doing Normal Things

I spent last week in New York visiting my family, the first time I had seen my parents and brothers in person since December 2019. Aside from a trip to Man...

Old Games Mania and My Box of Nostalgia

Despite, or maybe because of, the COVID-19 pandemic, people with money have been buying all sorts of investments with money they might otherwise spend on t...

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2020

Grounded

For me, 2020 has been a year more notable for what I didn’t do than for what I did. In making it through this year alive, well, and employed, I didn’t leave ...

The WFH MVPs, Part 3

Following my first and second posts on the WFH MVPs, the Most Valuable Players of my year spent largely working from home, here’s the third and final (for ...

The WFH MVPs, Part 2

To follow my post last week on the WFH MVPs, the Most Valuable Players of the 8-plus months I’ve spent working from home daily, here are a few more product...

The WFH MVPs

November, the grayest month on the Seattle calendar, has seen some encouraging news for the world. My Internet-troll president is on his way out and we may ...

I Still Believe in the City

The poison air has mercifully left Seattle. Autumn has begun with a mixture of rain and sunshine. Now is a great time to go outside, weather permitting, es...

The Poison Air is Back

Seattle has heavily polluted air with fine particulates (PM2.5) more than triple the maximum safe levels. Wildfires pose no direct danger to Seattle, but t...

Nothing Better To Do

I’m still working from home every day. All my 2020 travel plans are postponed, cancelled, or otherwise not yet booked. Local events, with the exception of ...

Andrea Betza, 1981–2020

Andrea Sappe Betza, my nursery-school sweetheart and one of the most extraordinarily unlikely people I’ve ever known, died on June 23. She was 39.

Two Months of Self-Isolation

King County, Washington remains largely locked down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Non-essential businesses are closed, state parks are just startin...

The Top of the Curve Is In Sight

According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), we are less than 2 weeks from a peak of both hospital usage...

Morbid Curiosity

Every night, usually around the time I go to bed, I get a recap of the day’s COVID-19 news from Public Health — Seattle & King County. The two key stat...

Social Distancing and Cognitive Dissonance

I’ve worked from home for a few days in Seattle. My company, like many others, closed its Seattle-area offices for the month of March and is having many of...

Work-from-Home City

Within an hour of my declaring Seattle “Alive and Mostly Well” yesterday, I received a notice from my employer to work from home for the next several week...

Seattle is Alive and Mostly Well

The Seattle metro area is the United States’s ground zero for Coronavirus disease 2019. As I write this, 10 people of my area’s approximately 3.8 million h...

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2019

Seattle Bikeshare at a Crossroads Again

I’m a big fan of free-floating transportation. When I sold my car in 2007, I pivoted to using cars rented by the hour from Zipcar and, later, to cars rented ...

Life on 59½th Street

I held a housewarming party recently for my new townhouse in Ballard. As friends and colleagues admired the view out towards other neighborhoods and all t...

Ballard Bound

The year isn’t even two months old and I’m placing a big bet already: I’m trading in condo ownership for townhouse ownership, in so doing bidding goodbye to ...

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2018

Weill in Japan 3: A Trip to the North

On a mild Saturday evening strolling through Sapporo’s Odori Park, I felt an emotion I don’t often experience on a tourism trip: I was sad to be leaving.

Making Big Bets on Housing in Seattle

The Seattle metropolitan area continues to grow at a torrid pace, adding over 1,000 new residents a week, yet the city remains largely opposed to building ...

Seattle’s Big Bikeshare Bounceback

Just six months after Seattle’s Pronto! Cycle Share ceased operations, America’s second-hilliest city started its second experiment with bikesharing. First...

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2017

Seattle Steelers Meetups Visualized

I took over hosting Seattle's Pittsburgh Steelers Meetup, the 5th-largest Steelers club in the U.S., before the start of the 2017 season.

Utilities, Hotels, and Tech Companies

Every software company where I’ve worked has aspired to build “platforms.” A platform is a way of turning specialized software into a generalized offering ...

An Appropriate Level of Outrage

In July 2016, as the New York Times gave Donald Trump about a 50% chance of winning the Presidency, I wrote “At Peace With Politics.” In that essay I wrote...

The Digital Bouncer

A few months ago, Amazon with great fanfare announced Amazon Go, a new concept for a physical retail store. Its introductory video, which includes appearanc...

A Pronto! Bike Share Success Story

Seattle’s Pronto! Cycle Share is on its way out. The system let people borrow bikes for 30 or 45 minutes at a time to ride between a small network of stati...

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2016

On Optimism and Gratitude

10 Years, 10 Things to Love Prologue Part 1: Citizens, Not Just Residents Part 2: The Many Ways of Getting Around Part 3: Obliga...

Happiness Is The Company You Keep

10 Years, 10 Things to Love Prologue Part 1: Citizens, Not Just Residents Part 2: The Many Ways of Getting Around Part 3: Obliga...

Seattle’s Dogs and Their Owners

10 Years, 10 Things to Love Prologue Part 1: Citizens, Not Just Residents Part 2: The Many Ways of Getting Around Part 3: Obliga...

The Unsung Genius of Microsoft

10 Years, 10 Things to Love Prologue Part 1: Citizens, Not Just Residents Part 2: The Many Ways of Getting Around Part 3: Obliga...

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2015

Exiting the Pittsburgh real estate market

I bought a 1200 square foot carriage house in Pittsburgh on April 28, 2005. After 10 years of owning it, 9 years to the day of not living in it, and multiple...

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2014

Farewell to Amazon, Hello Tableau

After eight amazing years, I’ve decided to leave Amazon.com and take a Senior Software Engineer position at Tableau Software.

Weill in Japan 2: Kyoto

On my last full day in Kyoto I remember being underwhelmed by seeing another temple from the 9th century. “This is pretty,” I thought, “but is it worth $5 to...

Weill in Japan 2: Hiroshima

I felt a profound sadness walking through the streets of Hiroshima on my last night here. I hadn’t been to the atomic bomb memorial yet, but it was already o...

On falling off the trivia wagon

“Boys never grow up. Their ego, their competitive spirit, their ‘Mum, look at me!’ never really goes away. And nothing brings that male ego like a quiz.” ...

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2013

Seattle, still rising

The city of Seattle continues to grow in 2013. Since I wrote “Seattle, rising” last March, the only thing going up faster than new residential buildings is ...

A new home page in the cloud

My new web site is now live on the Amazon cloud. Welcome! After using my ISP's hosting, hitching a ride on a friend's domain, and for over 10 years paying ...

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2012

A Trip to an Apodment Complex

More than a dozen new buildings in my Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill have an uncommon trait in common: they're "microhousing" buildings. I stopped by f...

Seattle, rising

Eleven stories above a former parking lot, construction workers are hanging windows on Arizona, the capstone of Amazon.com's 11-building headquarters in Sout...

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2011

In Search of Online Video Standards

Over 4 years ago I cut cable out of my monthly bills: I downgraded from the $80 basic digital cable package to a $13 option that includes little more than lo...

What I’ve Been Doing For the Last Year

Just over a year ago I changed jobs at Amazon: after nearly four years in Email Platform (as it was known when I left), I transferred to the Kindle Content S...

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2010

Kiva: A Microcredit Post-Mortem

In 2006 I dipped my toes into the world of microfinance with two investments: one in Kiva, a non-profit that specializes in the developing world, and Prosper...

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2009

I’m a PC, and I’m Not a Criminal

Microsoft has been praised, by others and by their own ads, for improvements in Windows 7. One thing hasn't changed: their awful, mandatory product activatio...

1 vs 100 Beta on Xbox Live: My Impressions

Yesterday I got to play in the Xbox Live 1 vs. 100 beta, the first live game show playable on a game console. The game worked incredibly smoothly considerin...

I’m going to the Olympics

I'm going to the Winter Olympics up in Vancouver in February. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to go someday. I never made it as an athlete, but the ingots...

I Can Has Roethlisberger!

I Can Has Roethlisberger!, originally uploaded by charness. Presenting I Can Has Roethlisberger?, a new site blending the LOLcat phenomenon with 2008...

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2008

Snow showers Seattle; city surrenders

Update Jan. 5, 2009: "For the first time in more than a decade, salt was being used to de-ice Seattle streets Sunday night." The city finally came to its sen...

Seventeen07: From pretentious to desperate

Update Oct. 20, 2008: The auction was yesterday. Matt at Urbnlivn reports that 14 of the 17 units sold, while 3 were held back. No word on prices yet. Updat...

Ten-letter phone number shortcuts

"Some companies like to spell out words so you can remember their names, but they use too many letters. 'Give us a call at 1-800-I-LOVE-BRAND-NEW-CARPET.' I ...

When Starbucks competes with itself

At my local QFC supermarket there's a Starbucks counter just inside the entrance. They sell coffee beans for $10.49 a pound, in bags of a pound, pre-measured...

Weills in Italy: Venice

Venice was our final stop on my family's two-week visit to Italy, and as tourists we were in for one touristy ride here. It amazes me that people actually li...

Weills in Italy: A Trip to Tuscany

With the keys to an Opel Zafira in hand we were free to leave Rome and head on to explore Italy's picturesque center. Gas and tolls notwithstanding, we had s...

Weills in Italy: Attractions in Rome

In between jaunts on tiny electric buses and superfast expressways, we got to see a nice little chunk of Italy during our stay. We spent time in Rome, Siena,...

Weills in Italy: Transportation

If you're thinking about traveling to Italy and renting a car, here's a tip: don't. Take buses and trains. They're cheaper and they involve less yelling. You...

Weills in Italy: Prologue

As I returned the rental car to take a taxi to the Amtrak train to the Long Island Rail Road to the AirTrain, I thought, "this is no way to earn 13,000 frequ...

I’m Pulling Out of Prosper

In August 2006 I put $1,000 into each of two new microlending institutions. Kiva facilitates loans to entrepreneurs in countries such as Uganda, Ecuador, and...

Planning a trip the 21st-century way

(The map above is interactive. Double-click the left mouse button to zoom in, double-click the right mouse button to zoom out, and click any of the pushpin...

Water polo players for Obama?

There's a car in my neighborhood that has a small circular sticker in its window bearing the logo of the USA Water Polo Association: Every time I see it I...

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2007

Alive but damp

On Saturday, December 1, I was shopping in downtown Seattle when huge snowflakes started to fall. I was overjoyed -- we never get snow! Not much of it stuc...

Amazon’s Christmas Decorations

I work at Amazon.com in the e-mail team, which manages mail-related applications for six of the countries where Amazon does business. This means that some d...

Flexcar and Zipcar Will Merge

Big news today in the world of car-sharing: Cambridge, Mass.-based Zipcar and Seattle-based Flexcar will merge. The combined company will be called simply Z...

Living in a Missile Silo

Real estate is much more pricey in Seattle than in Pittsburgh, but a bargain hunter can always find a good buy. Seattle Bubble, a great counterpoint to the ...

How I Built an LED Confession Board

text confessional: it works! Originally uploaded by Lele McLeod. Earlier this year, a co-worker pitched to me the McLeod Residence, an off-b...

The Weirdest Local Candidate Ever

Tomorrow is Seattle's local primary election. I received a pamphlet in the mail but hadn't intended to read it or vote -- the election is only a primary, and...

Auditioning for Temptation

You win this round, Hollywood.I’m in LA staying with my cousins who have graciously offered me room and board during my effort to get myself on a game ...

Temptation Auditions in Los Angeles Only

One of my old favorite game shows, $ale of the Century, is being remade as Temptation. Now that I’m old enough to try out, I found an ad on-line and r...

The Media Box Has Arrived!

After two months of delays, the hatbox-shaped Sony VAIO VGX-TP1 PC is finally shipping. Mine arrived last week, and I took a few photos of the various comp...

I Am Car-Free

As of tonight I am no longer a car owner. I sold my 2000 VW New Beetle, which I got brand new nearly seven years ago, to a co-worker. Flexcar meets my need...

TV Without Cable: April Review

Last month I spent just under $20 on Internet-delivered video versus $70 for my typical cable TV bill. Year-to-date, my spending is $127.14 versus $280 for ...

Happy Birthday to E-mail Spam!

On this day in 1978, the very first unsolicited commercial e-mail message was sent. It promoted a DEC product presentation and was sent to hundreds of recip...

Coffee Cuppings at Victrola on Pike

Victrola Coffee Roasters’ new location on Pike Street is located only a block from my apartment. They do public cuppings every Wednesday at 1:00 PM. ...

Amazon EC2 to Encode Video?

I just got an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) account. With EC2 and Simple Storage Service (S3), I think I can convert my DVDs into iPod-video-sized file...

What the Hell is Twitter?

After days of holding out, my co-worker iseff finally got me to join Twitter. Twitter is the newest trend among techies, and there are already many thousand...

TV Without Cable: March Review

As my DVD stockpile has grown and as I've spent more time at work, I didn't buy very much video in March. In fact, I'm still working through the $50 of iTun...

Podcast on Kibbutzim

Mark of BicycleMark's Communique wrote to me last week: he found my writings about Israel last year and asked if I would like to talk to him about the experi...

TV Without Cable: February Review

February has come and gone. 24 is getting more intense though I still like season 5 better than this season. The Office continues to stand out as a great s...

TV Without Cable: January Review

In January I spent $61.94 on video, all of it from the iTunes Store.  Compared to a baseline digital cable rate of $70.00, I've saved $8.06 year-to-date. Mo...

Flexcar: Time vs. Money

"Flexcar 2.0" launches this Thursday.  It is a total revamp of the fee structure from before: Instead of a flat rate per hour, cars now have "peak" and "of...

Joost Looks Amazing

The Joost user interface features several unobtrusive widgets that disappear when the user stops using the mouse and keyboard. (enlarge) The folks who broug...

Media Boxes: No Good News at Macworld

Today was the hugely-anticipated keynote at the Macworld Conference & Expo. As expected, we saw the final version of the iTV (now called Apple TV) which...

Woot! Bag of Crap

I was lucky enough to snag one of Woot's famous "Bags of Crap" on Christmas day 2006. It arrived today. For $3.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling, I got ...

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2006

2006 In Review

What started in the East will finish in the West. This was 2006, a momentous year that saw me celebrate a Steelers Super Bowl victory only to leave the firs...

The Cost of Nothing: Cutting the Cable

I'm already starting work on my first new year's resolution: I'm cutting cable out of my expenses. Comcast quoted me a promotional rate of $30 a month for d...

Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout Ale

I made my first trip to a PCC today to do some grocery shopping the all-natural organic sustainable way. (I actually went there expecting to get some Afri-C...

A Reunification 19 Years in the Making

"This is by a wide margin the least likely thing that has ever happened." -- Leela, Futurama episode "Godfellas" I'm not normally such a spiritual man, but ...

Halloween as a Series of Tubes

Today I went into work dressed as "the Internet" in the form of a series of tubes. The homemade costume was made of 12 cardboard mailing tubes I bought o...

Google Says to Cross the Highway

Google made its Transit feature available for Seattle, though it's still in "Labs" (Google-speak for "alpha") form. I can see why: to go from my office to...

AAAAAAAAAAGGGG

This bizarre graphic pretty much sums up my reaction to tonight's Steelers-Jaguars game on Monday Night Football. The Steelers lost 9-0 on a national ES...

Exploring Media Box Options

I do own a television. During the week I usually watch about an hour's worth of TV a day, give or take. Beside the TV is a small storage unit with about 50...

Microfinance For Profit with Prosper

It's been about a month since I signed up with Kiva, a microfinance organization dedicated to providing loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. Sinc...

Nintendo DS: To Feel 9 Years Old Again

Tetris DS High Score Originally uploaded by genericman. The first game system I ever owned was an original Game Boy. Its pea-soup-colored s...

The Most Patriotic Hotel Ever

Last weekend I traveled back to Pennsylvania for the first time since my move to Seattle. The occasion: my friend Jeremy's wedding at the German Cultural He...

Lending a Little at a Time With Kiva

Recently I came across Kiva, an organization dedicated to microcredit. In short, Kiva works with local lenders in developing countries to get cash from indi...

Warning: Seattle Contains Nudity

A few weeks ago I was detoured off Pike Street by several dozen people riding bicycles naked through the city, shouting slogans about our energy policy as th...

Low-Tech Mail Checking with MailCheck®

I've had a mailbox at a local UPS Store, formerly Mail Boxes Etc., since I moved here a few weeks ago. It's proven very useful for receiving mail and packag...

I, Seattleite

There's an apartment with my name on it in First Hill. My car and other possessions are making their way into town and should arrive this week. My first we...

Leaving Pittsburgh

As of Tuesday, May 23, I no longer live in Pittsburgh. I'm typing this from a temporary apartment in Seattle's International District within sight distance ...

Weill in Israel: The Rest

During the week of May 1-5 I lived on Kibbutz Givat Brenner in Rehovot, Israel, and spent a little time seeing the sights in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. For mor...

Renting the Slate

In less than 24 hours all my things will be packed up and I'll say goodbye to my current home. After putting it on the sale market for a while I've decided ...

Weill in Israel: Jerusalem

Two weeks ago I visited Israel for the first time. I lived on Kibbutz Givat Brenner with some of my distant relatives and visited some of the sights in Tel ...

Weill in Israel: Tel Aviv

I spent a week in Israel recently, living on Kibbutz Givat Brenner while seeing some of the sights Israel has to offer in the major cities of Tel Aviv and Je...

Weill in Israel: The Kibbutz

Last week I spent six fantastic days in Israel, my first visit to the Middle East ever and my first international travel since visiting Japan nearly four yea...

Ask.com Maps and Earth

I've been playing with Ask.com Maps (use Firefox or Internet Explorer; Safari isn't supported) for a few weeks now and I've been pretty impressed. It suppor...

Selling the Slate

It's been just under one year since I became a homeowner, and now I'm in talks with the same Realtor who sold me my home. The house is now the same as it wa...

I’m Going West

"Be prepared to accept a wondrous opportunity in the days ahead!" -- fortune cookie, April 10, 2006 I'm going to Seattle in late May to accept a position wi...

Photos are Getting Flickrized

Earlier this year I finally gave in and signed up with Flickr, the popular photo-sharing site now owned by Yahoo!. (I'm genericman on Flickr if you want to ...

Camouflarage

Term of the moment that I just made up: camouflarage. camouflarage (cam'-oh-fluh-raj'') n. The decreased amount of attention paid to a residential house tha...

VZ Navigator First Impressions

Right now I'm at 1177 North Highland Avenue in Pittsburgh. How do I know? My phone told me. Actually my phone, a Motorola v325, is wrong. Enrico's Tazza ...

When an Athlete Goes Catty

I'm glad someone collected a smattering of quotes from the U.S.'s very outspoken figure skater Johnny Weir (whose name I keep mistyping as "Weird"). Being i...

Gray Days in Austin

I've been 25 for a little more than a week now. We celebrated with what has become a tradition among my friends: an outing to Green Forest, a Brazilian-styl...

I’ve Got a Date With the Couch

Tonight I had a party to burn off all the extra food I had from Super Bowl Sunday in the guise of an "Olympics Opening Ceremonies" party. Partway through th...

Victory!

All around my house you can hear fireworks going off. It's indescribable to stand outside in the cold and snow holding a Terrible Towel in one hand and a gl...

Best Dumb Spam Yet

I don't often read my spam folder, but when I do, I appreciate gems like this: Sm0k1ng is not a bad thing when you are smoking decent ñigarettes. Smoking ma...

Pittsburgh’s Going to the Super Bowl

Oh, Pittsburgh's going nuts right now. The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl! After beating the first, second, and third seeds in the AFC, the Steelers ...

LiveJournal Owned

Apparently my LiveJournal account was hit by the recent "bantown" cross-site scripting attack. Thanks to Mav for pointing this out. Apparently my interests...

Instant Updating Stock Quotes

Visit this news story between 9:30 AM and 4:00 PM EST during a weekday. I really don't care about the content of the story -- I'm just amazed that those sto...

Dear Comcast: Your DVR Sucks

While watching the season premiere of 24 last night, my Comcast cable box (a Motorola DCT6412) froze up on me. This is not new behavior, and it is not behav...

Everybody Poops at the White House

While I was reading a Yahoo! News story I decided to click on the "President Bush" link to see what Yahoo! would suggest as search results. The second link ...

eBay Alert: Broken Palm III

I'm selling my dad's old, broken Palm III on eBay. Bidding starts at 99 cents. If you're handy with little electronic gizmos, you could have a working unit...

Chocolate Waffles

Tonight I made chocolate waffles using a recipe from Good Eats. They're pretty rich. I still have about half the batter left over. The recipe includes thr...

Wild Eep!

I am happy tonight. My PowerBook now eeps with displeasure. I found a link to the Mac OS Classic Sound Pack which includes all the classic sound effects th...

College Football: Why Do I Try?

I went to an NCAA Division III school after graduating from a high school that didn't care about football. I actually made an effort today to watch the FedE...

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2005

What I Learned in 2005

It's been quite an eventful year in 2005 as I reflect from my family's home in New York. The last twelve months have further established my future in Pittsb...

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