Thursday, November 28, 2013

Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge: Part Uno

This week, and for the next several, Chuck has an experiment going where you write 200 words of a flash fiction.  Each week you will select another story and add 200 words to it, building a flash fiction in five part from (theoretically) five different authors.

Chuck's blog is here -

The Tunnel

The tunnel shook again, small cracks creeping through old masonry, and Nora grabbed onto Billy to keep her feet.  Jack was trying to urge Marie forward but he couldn't get her to stop crying.  Nora didn't blame her, the whole thing was terrifying and nobody had a clue what was going on.  They'd pushed forward through the old river tunnels after their normal entrance collapsed and now they were down to two flashlights.

"Are those bombs?" Jack asked, his voice cracking from the dust in his throat.

"Who would bomb fucking Trenton?  We have like two thousand people in the whole town." Billy snapped back.  Nora swept her light ahead, a large metal door at the end of the hallway coming into view.

"What then?  An earthquake?" Marie managed between sobs.  Nora stepped back and grabbed Marie's other hand, finding it slick with blood from the fall.

"No, honey.  We're nowhere near a fault line." she replied, doing her best to sound comforting.

"Shit, man.  This is fucked," Jack moaned, his bravado fading. "I just wanted to smoke some pot and get laid..." He fell silent as the door ahead of them suddenly creaked and began to swing open.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Seattle Visit Day #2: Caffeine A-Gogo

So, today wasn't particularly eventful.  I had intended to begin begging looking for jobs today but I was too lagged and sick from the flight.  Instead, I picked up some cold medicine and watched horrible movies all day on Netflix.  So, now seems a good time to start my coffee roundup.

Coffee Talk

The term coffee talk here is a misnomer.  I hate coffee.  If you drown it in sugar and milk I can stand it, but I don't think it even qualifies as coffee when I alter it that much.  I do, however, love tea.  Chai tea in particular.  In my search for the best chai options in Seattle, I've visited four places.  I will be using the CtS scale for measuring these places.  The Compared to Starbucks scale exists because Starbucks is where I usually pick up my chai options in Florida and therefore I can make them the baseline.  Starbucks will get 3's in all categories to make them the absolute average for comparison.


Not a coffee house, but I did try their chai tea when I grabbed a bagel the other morning.

Space: 5/5.  They have a lot of room here, a dozen tables and counter space that can accomdate a large crowd.
Amenities: 4/5. They post a puzzle every week for their customers to work on, which is a nice time waster.
Chai: 1/5. Terrible.  Practically water.  I can't fault them too much.  They are a bagel place, after all.  But man, this was god awful stuff.

Black Coffee Coop:

Space: 4/5.  Big area here.  Couches, tables and counter space to accommodate the writer crowd.  The place feels very open.  They do share a bathroom with the lounge next door, which could be a problem on a busy day.
Amenities: 5/5.  So much to do.  Shelves full of books, newspapers and board games make this an ideal hang out for a lazy Sunday.
Chai: 5/5.  Exceptional blend here.  Not too strong, but enough flavor to keep me coming back.  This is the kind of thing I would buy on a regular basis.


Space: 3/5. A few tables and small counters.  The building is small so it's not a good socializing point.
Amenities: 1/5.  Get your coffee and go, really.  If you like metal they were blasting it but if you want to focus on something else you'd be hard-pressed.
Chai: 4/5.  This is good stuff, but situational.  The blend is strong enough to feel it in the back of your throat, so a bit more than I want.  If I needed a kick-in-the-mouth morning pickup this might be the blend of choice but for most days I would probably opt for something smoother.

Analog Coffee:

Space: 3/5.  About the size of Stumptown but better layout.  More counters keep the walking area pretty clear.
Amenities: 3/5 Some books on the tables and free wifi give this an average rating.
Chai: N/A - Ok, this place doesn't actually have chai but I'm mentioning them anyways.  I was cold when I got here and I wanted a warm drink, so I went with a chocolate latte and it was really good.  On my coffee scale I'd say a 4/5.  Not too much coffee taste after a bit of honey and milk.  Honorable mention for doing well at what they do.

It's interesting to me that all the coffee shops around here have simple syrup available at their fixins counter.  I've tried it and I think I prefer it to honey or sugar.  It definitely mixes better, given it's composition, and the sweetness isn't as shocking.

Tomorrow I will talk about my first job walk-ins and mass transit.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seattle Visit Day #1: Slopes and Grades

It is a balmy 47 degrees in Seattle as I step out for my wanderings.  Sunday, the day of rest, and a good first day here as it will allow me to acclimate without worrying about job hunting.  My first goal is to connect where I am presently staying with the area I remember from previous visits on my mental map.  It is evident that fall is turning into winter as I wind through the narrow streets.

Those colored leaves indicate seasons.  Florida was never much for having seasons beyond Summer and Not Summer.  Back on the subject of narrow streets, my god...two cars could barely pass one another on these roads and people park on both sides to form this narrow channel that you'd have to navigate.  Seattle is not a huge driving culture, though.  I've passed more people walking here than I'd see walking in Florida in a year.  The weather is much more accommodating too it, though.  You don't die of heat stroke after ten blocks.  More on mass transit and biking in a later post, I think

 This picture shows more of the seasonal look for Seattle but it doesn't convey what I am aiming to show.  This street is at a steep grade, like many in Seattle, and hiking up that sidewalk was a chore.  If I'd known I was taking this trip earlier I would have gotten back into running to build up leg strength.  Even in my underprepared state, though, I didn't find the walking to be unbearable.

This is something you see a lot of in Seattle.  Parking is a real pain in the ass because the city isn't exactly rolling in space.  Most of the buildings are multistory for that same reason.  So this is another downside to owning a car here.  Not only do you have to pay to park in a lot of places but most residential buildings also have a monthly parking fee associated with them.  No thank you.

After about fifteen minutes of walking I came across an area that looked familiar.  Sure enough, the campus for Seattle Community College in Capitol Hill was my first landmark.  From there I followed the streets I recalled until I found Pine and spent a few minutes walking through Cal Anderson park.  A soccer field, tennis courts, a fountain.  Very relaxing stuff.  Public works is big here and it is nice to see that the parks are well maintained.  From there it was just a few blocks to my first stop of the day.  Eltana.

 Eltana serves wood-fired bagels with a variety of interesting spreads.  Sweet and savory options line their board and they change frequently.  After running through a few fruit blend options, I settled on a salt bagel with the caramelized onion hummus spread.  Excellent choice.   Too bad the chai tea didn't exactly hold up.  More on that in my first Coffee Talk later this week.  Check out that bitchin' flannel that some awesome people got me.

From there I wound my back down Pike and stopped at the QFC to pick up some groceries for my stay.  I intend to eat one interesting meal a day while I am here so that I can showcase some of the excellent restaurants around.  That said, I'm also not a millionaire so my remaining meals will be Banquet frozen dinners and cereal.

On the way back I passed the Raygun Lounge.  This is a gaming lounge set up by Gamma Ray Games, a local RPG and board game store.  They have a nice drink list and the store itself was staffed by friendly folk when I was here last.  I will have to stop in this week and check it out.

No sun in Seattle, eh?
All told I probably did three miles in my wandering today.  It didn't feel like three miles but my legs might disagree in the morning.  Sadly, I feel like I have a cold coming on from the stupid sick children I got stuck next to in the airplane.  I never seem to make it through a flight unscathed in that sense.  Southwest does have nice seats and plenty of leg room but if you get stuck in a C boarding phase you are not going to like what kind of seating options are left to you.

On the weather, it was dry all day today.  Rain is supposed to come late tomorrow afternoon, so we'll see.  Even with the temperature in the low forties I never felt cold.  A heavy sweatshirt or a light jacket kept me comfortable.  I brought gloves and a hat just in case, and the temperature is supposed to drop over the weekend so that may have been smart, but even in the colder weather on my previous trip I never felt miserable like I do in Florida heat.

Oh, to conclude.

The rest of the day was spent getting settled in at the apartment.  Having realized on my walk home that In the Bowl was only 3 minutes from where I was staying, I couldn't resist.  Below, I present you with my dinner for the evening.  Pumpkin curry, melting culture and a thai iced tea.  And yes, I made my wife watch me eat it over the computer because I am just that kind of a jerk.