Twenty-One Dollar Movie Tickets

Last night, Phillip and I watched a film named A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. It was the latest from our Netfix DVD queue. I loved it a lot. It’s about a vampire, but I wouldn’t call it a vampire movie. It takes place in a fictional Iranian town named Bad City. Everyone speaks Persian. It was filmed in California, and shot in gorgeous black & white. One main character is known only as the girl. She’s the vampire. The other main character is a rockabilly loner named Arash. The girl and Arash have a platonic romance going, but I wouldn’t call it a romantic movie.

Here’s the trailer, which doesn’t describe the film any better than I did:

Today, Phillip and I rode light rail to Downtown, to watch the movie Atomic Blonde. We’d planned on watching it in 2D. Because of the Seafair parade, we planned on getting there early, and just hanging around a bit.

We arrived at the theater ten minutes before the 4DX showing of Atomic Blonde would start. We decided to experience what 4DX is all about. Our tickets cost $21 each.

4dx

4DX is this new gimmick that supposedly immerses you in the whole movie experience. Your big living room style moves, rolls, and shakes with what’s going on in the movie. Air and water mist blow on you at appropriate times. Strobe lights flash.

Atomic Blonde was a great, action-packed movie. The 4DX experience wasn’t so impressive.

Midway through the movie, Phillip whispered to me: “Never again”. I agree. It was a unique experience, but not worth twenty-one bucks.

There were a few times when the 4DX worked well. A character is surprised by a sudden gunshot, and I felt air whiz past my ear. It added to the shock. During a fight scene, my chair jerked around, and punched me in the back. It was quite effective. Most of the time, however, it felt unnecessary. When a car in driving along a road, it didn’t add to anything to feel my chair vibrating.

After the movie, Phillip and I walked over to Target and did some shopping.

Then we stopped into Steak n Shake for lunch. We’d never been there before. It lived up to the hype.

Steak n Shake

Then we walked over to University Street Station, and caught light rail to International District/Chinatown Station. From there, we rode the streetcar to Capitol Hill.

Japantown

On Capitol Hill, we stopped into Phoenix Comics and Games, long enough for me to buy Volume Four of Saga.

Then we stopped into Rocket Fizz to stock up on weird candy and soda.

Then we walked home.

It’s been a fun day.

Not A Typical Morning

I decided, on a whim, to walk up the hill this morning and catch light rail all the way to Pioneer Square – rather than ride the 47.

I walked out of Pioneer Square Station and, on a whim, stopped into Biscuit Bitch for breakfast to go. I got a Straight Up Bitch (biscuits & gravy) and, instead of my typical latte, I tried something called Seattle Fog.

Seattle Fog is not coffee. It’s Earl Grey tea with streamed milk and orange zest. It was delicious, and a nice change of routine, but it won’t be replacing my lattes.

I got into work, and planned out how my day should go. Should I devote my morning to packing or working? Should I save the packing for the last hour of the day? Or should I alternate between the two?

I decided to go for the third option: packing, working, packing, working throughout the day.

Then, at 11:00 this morning, with a half-filled box at my feet and a half-finished project on my desk, movers showed up at my desk and announced that they were ready to move my computer.

I logged off and shut down my computer. The movers took my computer away. I was confused. This wasn’t supposed to happen until this weekend, while I was at home. I looked around and saw that it was happening to all of my coworkers.

My computer, and those of two of my coworkers, were moved into the tiny room we’ll be sharing for the next month. But there were already computers in the room. So we worked on other people’s computers for a while. Bookmarks and program links we use every day weren’t there, and had to be rediscovered.

Our director stopped by and apologized for the mix-up. The move was supposed to happen this weekend, but signals got crossed. Our computers were soon set up.

I’m not complaining. I’m not placing blame. This is a complicated move, and there are bound to be hiccups along the way. Having the director stop by to personally apologize went a long way to making it all better.

I knew I’d be in a tiny room, working out of boxes, for a month. It just started a few hours earlier than expected, that’s all. It’s all good.

Phillip had a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. We met up at Cal Anderson Park, outside of Capitol Hill Station. We had a nice walk through the park, and an early dinner at Lost Lake. Then we caught a 9 bus home.

It’s been an unusual day.

The Big Move Of ’14

There are a few of my coworkers who did not experience the big move of 2014. There are many, like me, who were there when our company moved its office from Cascade to Downtown. I feel like an old-timer telling the kids how it was back then.

Compared to the move ahead of us, the big move in January of 2014 was a whole lot easier – at least from the perspective of my coworkers and me. Over the course of a week, we took our personal belongings home. Then, on Friday afternoon, we packed our desks into shipping crates, labeled everything, and went home. After a three day weekend, we reported to work on Tuesday morning in Downtown, found our new cubicles, unpacked, admired the new view, and adjusted to the new surroundings.

The move ahead of us will be both smaller and more complicated. Our department is switching locations with another department on another floor. It’s not going to be as easy as switching desks, however. Our two departments are different sizes, so cubicles in both locations will be torn down and rebuilt with new configurations. It’s going to take most of the month of August. Plus, office work is going to continue during the move. I’m glad I wasn’t on the committee that figured it all out.

Those with the ability to telecommute will work from home for the duration of the move. For them, it will be like the big move of ’14 – stretched from a weekend to a month. Those of us who are in the office five days a week will be moved into conference rooms, storerooms, and cubbyholes.  We’ll be working out of boxes at our feet, while constructions goes on around us – for a month.

My job was entirely analog – paper and pen work – when I started here, five years ago. It’s a lot more digital now, but not entirely – I still need a place to store physical files and I need desk space for more than just a keyboard.

I have a bamboo plant that moved with me from Cascade to Downtown. I have a few more plants at my desk now, thanks to the recently-retired office gardener. All of our plants will have their own space in a conference room.

I’ll be sharing a table with two coworkers in a tiny room currently used for one-on-one conferencing.

August is going to be an interesting month.

An Eccentric Immigrant

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka, was published in 2005.

Short History of Tractors in UkranianInternet searches for “a book with an eccentric character” lead me to this novel. I downloaded the eBook from the Seattle Public Library and read it on my phone. I’m really liking that Libby by Overdrive app.

About a third of the way through the book, I decided that it was more about an immigrant than it was about an eccentric character. So I switched the book’s Category.

The story takes place in Peterborough, England. Nadezha and her older sister, Vera, are concerned about their 84-year-old, widowed father, Nikolai, who has announced his intent to marry a Ukrainian immigrant named Valentina. Valentina is a flamboyant 36-year-old woman with enormous breasts and an alleged degree in Pharmacy. Nadezha and Vera rarely agree with each other, but they both question the motives behind this upcoming marriage.

Nadezha is the story’s narrator.

Nadezha and Vera’s parents lived a frugal life in Ukraine, under Stalin’s oppression – mending rather than replacing, making rather than buying – until saving enough money to immigrate to Britain. When Mother died, Nadezha and Vera fought over her possessions. The sisters became bitter enemies, until Valentina brought them back together.

Nikolai doesn’t deny that he’s marrying Valentia so she can become a British citizen. Her visa runs out in three weeks, and she’ll have to divorce her Ukrainian husband before she marries Nikolai, but Nikolai is determined to help all suffering Ukrainians.

Nadezha reminds Pappa that Ukraine isn’t the same as it was when he left, as a refugee from World War II, fifty years ago.

Nikolai Mayevskyj is a man filled with love – love for Valentina and for Ukraine. He thinks with his heart. Even when Valentina leaves for Ukraine, without saying goodbye, with the 1,800 pounds he gave her, Nikolai knows she will go home, divorce her husband, return to Britain, and marry him.

Nadezha and Vera secretly contact the Home Office together, trying to stop Valentina’s return. Their father must never know what they’ve done.

Vera is using Valentina’s example to support her anti-immigrant stance. Nadezha can’t understand how an immigrant can be so opposed to immigration.

Nikolai is an engineer and a writer. Before he came to England, he and his fellow writers would write poetry in Ukrainian, defying the Soviet ban on all languages except Russian. He worked in a tractor factory, because it was safer, under the watching eyes of the Soviets, than working in an airplane factory. Now, Nikolai is writing his master work: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. He’s writing it first in Ukrainian and then translating it into English.

Excerpts from Nikolai’s book, which is about exactly what the title says it’s about, appear in the novel.

I actually found Nikolai’s book more interesting than the novel.

Actually, I didn’t like this book. The characters were one-dimensional caricatures, like they were walking into a sitcom. The book wasn’t funny, however. Valentina’s treatment of Nikolai bordered on elder abuse. The flashbacks to the genocide from the Soviet and Nazi occupations of Ukraine were gruesome.

And yet, the book obviously wants to be a comedy. Nadezha is a professor of sociology, and is constantly angered by people thinking she’s a social worker. One of the many broken down cars in the story is named Crap Car, and so on.

I’m sure there was more to Valentina’s side of the story than just her being a shallow gold digger, and I wanted to hear it. I wanted something to suggest that Nadezha might be wrong.

If you want to know the history of tractors, skim through this book until you find the excerpts. Otherwise, I don’t recommend it.

  • A book about an immigrant or refugee

Co-Designs

In an earlier post, I wrote about a tram service bridge that connects Moonlight Fields’ leisure/tourist line with the tram depot. This bridge, I wrote, was extremely popular with pedestrians.

After that post, I decided to extend the tram line across the bridge. Citizens could still walk across the bridge, over the freeway, or they could catch a ride on the tram.

The design challenge was that Cities: Skylines does not allow end-to-end tram lines. Trams must make a loop. Making a loop in this area, where space is small, and the tram enters from a steep decline, and exits up a steep incline, gave me impossibly sharp turns. (The game allowed the trams to make less-than-45-degree turns, but it doesn’t look realistic.) Demolishing the nearby park, to make more room, was an option – but an option I wanted to avoid.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Phillip and I, working together, came with this final design. The bridge branches into a Y intersection, to lessen the grade and soften the turns. There’s one, busy stop at the bottom. Citizens can still walk over the bridge, if they prefer. The park wasn’t demolished. I like this design we came up with.

Tram Bridge redesign

Phillip doesn’t play Cities: Skylines, but he does offer advice and critiques occasionally. And, sometimes, he helps me design things like the tram bridge or this bicycle bridge that loops for an easy ride between the lakeside bike path and the office district above it.

Bike Ramp

Mexican Food In Everett

Phillip and I drove to Everett Saturday morning. Brian and Kathi had organized a picnic centered around the Star Trek gang. The party had originally been planned to be at the Mukilteo lighthouse, but had to relocated, with less than 24 hours to go, to Forrest Park.

Phillip and I stopped by Kelly’s place, to drop some of our stuff off before heading over to the park. Kelly was in the middle of a remodel, and would join us at the picnic later.

Brian and Kathi did a fine job of not only organizing the picnic, but also of organizing a change of venue at the last minute.

There was a bocce tournament, in my honor.

Amy couldn’t make it to the picnic, but she and I had a good game of Words With Friends going. I shared the game highlights with Brian, so in a sense, Amy was at the picnic. (Yes, I was playing on my phone during a picnic, but I think this was special circumstances.)

Kelly sent me a text message. She was tired from the remodel, and would be skipping the picnic.

We finally returned Jason’s books to him, and got the computer monitors to Brian and Kathi.

After the picnic, Phillip and I drove back to Kelly’s place. We decided to go out to dinner, but none of us could decide on where we wanted to go. We finally agreed to pick a Mexican restaurant at random – some place none of us had ever been.

We found a nice little restaurant. It wasn’t too fancy, yet it had a live guitarist. The food was good. The three of us ordered the day’s special: super burritos. When our check came, and we pointed out that we’d been charged too much, our server discovered that someone had forgotten to change the “Special of the Day” sign. They corrected our bill anyway, and marked our burritos down to the special price.

The three of us went back to Kelly’s place and had a movie night in our pajamas. We watched an odd combination of Kubo and the Two Strings and Hot Fuzz.

Phillip and I spent the night at Kelly’s place. Phillip had a leftover burrito for breakfast, and Kelly and I had coffee and berries.

Phillip and I drove home this morning.

It’s been a terrific weekend.