My Favorite Pedestrian Tunnel

Phillip and I met up after work this evening, to see A Quiet Place at the Regal 16.

Phillip rode the 49 bus from work to the theater. I walked to the theater from my office.

For me, it was an opportunity to walk through my favorite pedestrian tunnel. This tunnel goes from Rainier Tower, on 4th Avenue, to Union Square, between 6th and 7th Avenues. Along the way, there are displays of Seattle History, a food court, and one of the Cobb Building’s “Terracotta Indians”. It’s a pleasant and easy way to cover two and a half blocks of Downtown Seattle.

ped tunnel

The problem, I knew, was that there’s a skyscraper under construction next door to Rainier Tower. Most, if not all, of the Rainier Plaza shopping center is gone. It may not even be possible to get to the tunnel through Rainier Tower anymore.

I got to Rainier Tower. The entrance on 4th Avenue was gone, and so was the entrance on University Street. There were people coming down some stairs that probably led into the building, and the 5th Avenue entrance was certainly still open. But I didn’t take the time to investigate.

I knew there are ways into the tunnel from other buildings, and from at least one hotel, but I wasn’t sure where they are. Someday, I’ll investigate the tunnel more, but I didn’t this evening.

I crossed 5th Avenue, intending to walk the sidewalks to the movie theater. There, next door to The 5th Avenue Theater, I found an entrance into tunnel food court, and, of course, into the tunnel.

I got to the Regal 16 a few minutes before Phillip.

A Quiet Place was an excellent movie. It was well photographed, well directed, well acted, and scary as hell.

We decided to catch a 10 bus home, rather than wait another five minutes for the 47.

Catching the 10, and exiting on the other side of Olive Way, gave Phillip the idea to stop into Hillcrest Market to get two orders of chicken yakisobi, to go, for our dinner.

A Book I Borrowed Or That Was Given To Me As A Gift

Ice Station Zebra, by Alistair MacLean, was first published in 1963.

The first sentence is: “Commander James D. Swanson of the U.S. Navy was short, plump and crowding forty.

Ice Station ZebraU.S. nuclear submarine Dolphin and its crew have been sent on a rescue mission. Sixty hours ago, a ham radio operator in Norway picked up a faint SOS signal. Twenty-four hours ago, a trawler picked up a message sent from Ice Station Zebra, a British meteorological research station, situated on ice drifts approximately 300 miles from the North Pole. There had been a fire which had destroyed most of the station. Bombers from the USA, Great Britain, and Russia had searched for Ice Station Zebra, but because of weather conditions, had been unable to locate it. Because of the drifting Arctic ice, the exact location of Ice Station Zebra is unknown. A Russian submarine had been dispatched, but it was determined that it would be unable to break through the ice. Now it’s up to the Dolphin, the pride of the U.S. Navy, to rescue the survivors of Drift Ice Station Zebra.

The narrator is Dr. Carpenter, who has been assigned to the Dolphin in an unorthodox fashion. The captain of the Dolphin is suspicious of him, and under interrogation, Dr. Carpenter reveals that he is “loosely connected” with the Royal Navy, and claims to be an expert in frostbite and gangrene.

Dr. Carpenter is allowed to stay on the Dolphin as it makes its way, heading due north, toward the possible location of Ice Station Zebra. Dr. Carpenter is even given a detailed tour of the cutting-edge technology of the U.S.S. Dolphin.

Since bombers from three countries, with sophisticated scanning technology, had been unable to find Drift Ice Station Zebra, it’s possible that none of the buildings are no longer there. If the buildings are gone, then the researchers are already dead, and the Dolphin‘s mission is already doomed to failure.

It’s not a spoiler to say that neither Dr. Carpenter nor Ice Station Zebra are what they claim to be. The real mystery is what’s been going on, 300 miles from the North Pole.

Ice Station Zebra is a thrilling adventure. It’s a straightforward tale of military procedure, combined with detective work. With all the detailed descriptions of its advanced technology, the U.S.S. Dolphin becomes a main character.

I was intrigued by the idea that the story is told by the man who is at the center of the mystery, and it still remained a mystery until the end.

I enjoyed Ice Station Zebra a lot more than I thought I would. Military thrillers are not my usual choice for reading material. But I did like this book.

Why I chose this book:

I saw this book in the employee lending library at work. I borrowed it from there, which I suppose qualifies it for this category. Actually, by that reasoning, any book I check out from the Seattle Public Library would qualify for this category. I’m not especially fond of this Reading Challenge category.

All I knew about Ice Station Zebra is the esoteric trivia that Howard Hughes supposedly watched the film adaptation continuously, for several days, during the last years of his life. So it was the name recognition that caught my eye.

Curiously, there were two paperback copies of Ice Station Zebra on the shelf. One declared, on the front cover: “Now an exciting motion picture!”. There were photos of the movie’s stars on the back cover. The covers of the other one looked exactly the same, except that they didn’t have the movie tie-in. I borrowed the latter one. I don’t like reading books that advertise movies on the cover. I guess there is a side of me that’s a book snob.

Late Night Entertainment

Last night, after our naps, Phillip and I went out to see the Boylesque Festival at The Triple Door. Proceeds from the show benefited Burlycon.

The 47 stopped running at 7:00. Both the 10 and Link light rail were running every ten minutes, and both would get us about a block from The Triple Door. We chose the 10.

It had been pouring down rain during the day, but when we set out last night, it was just a drizzle.

We got to the bus stop on Olive Way. OneBusAway told us we had an 8 minute wait for the next 10 bus. That was fine. We’d allowed ourselves plenty of time.

The bus arrived 8 minutes later. As it was pulling into the stop, some guy, probably high on something, came out of Starbucks, nearly ran into me, nearly ran into Phillip, and stepped off the curb, inches in front of the still-moving bus. Fortunately, the bus stopped in time. Someone, possibly Phillip, told him to watch out. He turned around, said something along the lines of “ah, the bus’ll stop”, and kept walking across busy Olive Way without waiting for traffic to clear.

As I boarded the bus, the driver said to me, “Did you see that?!” I replied, “Yeah, I’m glad your brakes work.”

Boarding the bus with us was a guy pushing an office chair. Balanced on top of the office chair was a plastic case, like you’d file papers in. Balanced on top of the plastic case was a wicker case. (It didn’t occur to me until now, as I’m writing this post, that his belongings fit an office theme. He wasn’t dressed like someone who works in an office.) The bus driver waited patiently while he transferred his precarious belongings on the bus. The driver of that 10 was awesome.

There was a sociably vocal fellow on the bus who kept commenting on people and things. He did it in a friendly way, but he didn’t seem to want to actually engage anyone in a conversation. He speculated on what was inside that wicker case. (He didn’t get an answer.) He told Phillip and me that we look like twins. (We told him we took that as a complement.)

We got to The Triple Door a half hour before the doors opened. We had reserved seats. We had some drinks in the lounge while we waited.

We had counter top seating. (I forgot the exact term, but we were sitting at a counter, as opposed to a table.) Here’s the weird thing: When we bought our tickets online, we were sure our seats were on an aisle. We both remember that. Yet, our seats ended up in the middle of the row. There was no mistake. Our seat numbers matched our tickets. We had great seats. It’s not a big deal. It’s just a mystery.

During the show, we ordered more drinks. I ordered a lamb dinner. Phillip ordered stuffed chicken. It was an expensive night, but worth it.

fire dancersAt the beginning of the show, the MC told us that photography, as well as video, was allowed, as long as we didn’t use a flash. There was an audible reaction from the audience. Allowing photography at a burlesque (or boylesque) show is unusual.

The show was awesome, with many acts and a lot of variety. My favorites, in no particular order, were the fire dancers, the juggler, the tribute to African culture, and the trapeze act.

It was a well produced, polished show. My only quibble was that I wished the MC had a better microphone – that it was at least as good as the juggler’s mic.

There were craft booths during intermission. Phillip bought us each a set of cuff links. (Neither one of us has a shirt we can us them on, but we were supporting the arts.) There were raffle tickets, of course (it was a benefit show), but we didn’t win anything.

We got out of The Triple Door at 1 AM. OneBusAway told us that there were no arrivals at University Street Station for the next hour and 30 minutes – which I think was its way of telling us the transit tunnel was closed for the night. It told us a 49 bus would be arriving at 4th & Pike in 4 minutes. That was a block and a half away, and we made it in time without running.

The 49 was a sleeper coach, with a lot of street people using it as a warm, dry, safe place to get some sleep. That’s a very good idea, I think.

Phillip and I played Pokémon Go on our ride home. For the first time in (I don’t know when) Pokémon Go worked on a moving bus. Sure, I got the occasional notice that I was moving too fast, and I’d have to tell it that I was a passenger, but I was able to grab several Pokéstops and catch a few Pokémon. It never works on my weekday rides home on the 47, although I keep trying.

We exited the 49 on Broadway, and walked home. We have no firm plans for today, so we both slept late.

Last night was a whole lot of fun.

Saturday Plans And Otherwise

Today was Writers’ Group. There was also a lunch planned with friends in Everett. I planned to go to the former, even though I hadn’t written anything. Phillip planned to go to the lunch.

Then Kelly needed us. I called Barbara this morning, and explained that I wouldn’t be at Writers’ Group.

Phillip and I drove to Everett. It was raining. Traffic was moving no faster than 25 MPH from Capitol Hill to Northgate. We were late picking up Kelly and her mom.

Lunch was at The New Mexicans, in Downtown Everett. Seated around the table was Brian, Joe, Jason, Daniel, me, Kelly’s mom, Kelly, and Phillip. Food was amazing. Lunch was fun.

We drove Kelly and her mom home. Afterwards, Phillip drove us home. It was still raining, and the WSDOT app on my phone was showing red on I-5 most of the way home. So, we took surface streets home from Everett to Capitol Hill.

When we got home, we took naps because we plan to be out late tonight.

Train Delay, And Movies

Starting at 5:43 this morning, I received a series of texted Transit Alerts. First: Link light rail is interrupted by a blockage on the tracks. Then: Link is not serving the northbound platform at Othello Station. Use the southbound platform.

Then: Link is not operating between Rainier Beach and Columbia City. Alternate transportation is being provided. Then: Link is back to serving the southbound platform at Othello Station, but not the northbound platform.

Finally, at 6:38: Link light rail has resumed normal operations at all stations, with service delays.

I rode the 47 bus to Westlake Station. The southbound platform was jammed with people and suitcases. Two northbound Link trains came and went, and I remembered this morning’s text messages. Several southbound buses came and went, and I remembered that I don’t have to ride light rail – anything moving through the tunnel will take me to Pioneer Square. (I’ve become used to seamless, reliable light rail service.)

I began making my way up to the front of the platform. Then a southbound Link train arrived. It was a 2-car train, and it was packed full. I managed to find a space inside, near the door.

If I’d trusted my initial instinct, I would have had a seat on a bus rather than crammed into the aisle of a light rail train.

I don’t know what caused the delay – signal malfunction, car running a red light, or something else. Whatever it was, it wasn’t big enough to make the local news. It doesn’t really matter. It was handled swiftly, I was kept informed, and I wasn’t late for work.

Meanwhile, I’m on a Wes Anderson kick. His films are beautiful and thoughtful. He has a unique, immediately recognizable style.

At the moment, Moonrise Kingdom is my favorite Wes Anderson film, with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in a close second. I loved The Darjeeling Limited and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Fantastic Mr. Fox didn’t grab me, unfortunately. It was lovely to watch, but I just didn’t get into the story.

I haven’t seen either The Royal Tenebaums and Rushmore (yet).

A Book Set On A Different Planet

Sundiver, by David Brin, was first published in 1980. It is the first book in the Uplift series.

The first sentence is: “‘Makakai, are you ready?’

Sundiver

It’s 2246. Jacob Demwa is working with a research team, studying intelligence in dolphins, when one of his colleagues informs him that he received a message from a Kanten named Fagin.

Jacob considers ignoring his friend’s call. There had been times when Fagin had called just to say hello, or to ask about the dolphins, and there had been times when a call from Fagin had resulted in trouble.

Jacob returns Fagin’s call. Fagin invites Jacob to “a small and amicable meeting with some worthy beings of diverse species” to discuss a problem of a purely intellectual nature. Fagin is vague on the details.

Jacob is skeptical, but doesn’t want to disappoint his old friend. He says goodbye to Makakai, the uplifted dolphin, and leaves for the meeting. Jacob drives to Tijuana, one of Earth’s many Extraterrestrial Reserves, established to control the influx of E.T. refugees.

Earth is in the middle of a conflict of belief. It has been discovered that the universe is populated by multiple species of beings who have been “uplifted” (given sapience) by other species of beings. On Earth, there are humans who believe that humanity is unique, and had evolved on its own, as Charles Darwin had written in On the Origin of Species. These believers are known as “Skins” and show their affiliation by wearing “caveman” attire. There are other humans, known as “Shirts”, who believe that there must be a species out there that uplifted humanity, as Erich von Däniken had written in Chariots of the Gods. Although he tends to remain neutral, Jacob Demwa is a Shirt. In fact, Jacob works for the Center for Uplift, which has been uplifting dolphins and chimpanzees.

Among the humans and E.T.s at Fagin’s meeting is Doctor Dwayne Kepler, of the Sundiver Expedition. Jacob had heard of Sundiver, a team based on Mercury, researching the Sun by sending humans into the solar chromosphere in specially designed ships. Jacob learns the reason he’s at the meeting: Fagin has recommended him for the Sundiver Expedition. (But, Jacob wonders, why would a parapsychologist be needed to study the Sun?)

There is evidence that the Sun may be “haunted”. That’s why Jacob is needed. Soon, Jacob Demwa is a passenger on a ship heading to Mercury.

There are many questions: Are these sightings actual beings, or merely optical illusions? If they are beings, are they intelligent? If they are intelligent beings, are they the patron species that uplifted humans? If they are humanity’s patron species, why don’t humans remember them?

For the majority of the book, at least eighty percent of the 799 ePage eBook, Jacob Demwa is stationed on the planet Mercury, along with a team of humans, E.T.s, and an uplifted chimpanzee, working toward solving the mystery of the Ghosts in the Sun. It eventually becomes another mystery, involving the death of a Sundiver crew member. There is more to this novel than just those two mysteries – there is a lot more. It took me weeks to read it.

Sundiver is a long and complex book, full of ideas and thoughts. It introduces us to multiple extraterrestrial species, their histories, and their societal norms. Being the first in a series, Sundiver spends a lot of time building a new universe.

Sundiver is a story of science fiction, with some hard science. I don’t know if the curved mirrored surface of the Sundiver ships, with their refrigerator lasers, would actually work, but the book convinced me that it could. (Still the overall technology felt dated, with computers controlled by dials, and computations read on paper printouts.)

It’s also a story of political intrigue.

I enjoyed it a lot.

Why I chose this book:

I stopped reading through a list of “books set on a different planet” as soon as I saw the name David Brin. A few months ago, my friends Kelly and Louie asked me to read Kiln People, by David Brin. I loved the book, and I was excited to read another book by this author.