Greetings from Spokane

I may not be posting much in this blog, but damnit, I've got plenty of photos.

Review Tower Monroe St. Bridge / Spokane River Spokane Falls, Long Exposure
Riverfront Park

Yeah, I've been messing around with Photomatix Pro (for those HDR shots) and Autostitch to do the panoramic images. Gimmicky, but fun.

I'll most likely be updating that Spokane photoset throughout the summer, so keep checking that out for updates, I suppose.

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Also of note is that my previous post, Small World, was picked up and mentioned by the STL Hops beer blog. Pretty sweet.

Small World

I owe you some stories from the first week, I know. I'll get to that later, though.

Feeling sick of my small (and spartan) apartment, I wander around town tonight, looking for something to do. I'd felt a bit too much of a stranger, just wandering downtown the past few days... Most of downtown just seems a bit too upscale for me — at least, on a night like tonight — so I go a bit off the beaten path: downtown, but not quite the city center. I stumble upon the Empyrean Coffee House, this little coffee shop / bar / music venue just a few blocks from where I live...

Really reminds me of the places I used to hang out at back home. You know, the Blue Fugue, or Lakota, or the Cherry Street Artisan... Soulful music — and by that I mean your smalltime touring musicians and local artists — really nice people, and a little artsy/cultured/counterculture (that's a weird mix, I know) feel to the establishment.

I walk up to the bar and get myself a beer. One man at the bar immediately notices the St. Louis Cardinals hat I'm wearing.
"Hey man, nice hat."

"Thanks."

"I love baseball. Nobody up here really seems to; hell, my bandmates usually give me crap for it, always talking about how boring it is."

The man's name is Luke — he'd played here solo earlier tonight, as part of a little tour he's doing through the Northwest. He lives in Montana but cheers the Cardinals because his folks all live in St. Louis. We shoot the shit as time passes by: his folks have season tickets, he watched one of the playoff games against the Mets back during that year we won the World Series...

"So where in St. Louis are you from?" he asks me.

"Florissant, that's up in North County."

"I know where that is, that's actually where my folks live."

"No shit?"

"On Lindbergh somewhere. I used to visit them every summer."

"Wow. I live right off New Halls Ferry, at the north part of the town."

He mentions hanging out at Jamestown Mall throughout his summers, until he "got beat up there one day." This is the same ol' ghetto Jamestown Mall that I grew up going to, where I got to know some of my closest friends today. Which leads us to a conversation on the whole place becoming a hole and the white flight problem all over St. Louis.

...At some point I mentally remind myself that I'm in Spokane, Washington — I'm nowhere near Missouri. But strangely enough, it's like home followed me straight out here, over a thousand miles away. This was a natural conversation that could've easily happened in Columbia, at any random bar over there. Every other person over there is from St. Louis. Right now? I'm in Washington. This is something else entirely.

He tells me he's heading though the Midwest in September, and I mention that he should stop by Columbia if given the chance (and name drop the Fugue). He's played in Columbia before, a few years back.

I churn through another beer and before I know it, the place is about to close. (I've come to notice that most places I frequent near here seem to close at like 11pm at the very very latest.) We part ways and I wish him the best as he continues touring.

I get home and I smile at the irony: the first random bar conversation I have in Washington is with a guy who knows where Florissant is and who used to hang out at Jamestown Mall — the places of my youth. The odds of such a thing are near-miraculous.

I guess I've found a place to frequent in Spokane. Such grand irony cannot be ignored.

Untitled

Browsing my Flickr account just now, I'm almost disappointed in the collective Internet for the popularity of this faux Natty Light ad I made. It's in my top 15 photos, seriously. More interesting than the Cathedral Basilica, Chris Carpenter, or a 9/11 vigil? I call BS.

Steady Denial

Three days from now I'll be flying over the western half of the continental United States. I'll be moving up to the Inland Empire, where I don't know anyone, and where I'll be starting some really awesome work. In five days, I'm going to be working at the Spokesman-Review, starting my work in an awesome full-scale Django project they're cooking up — possibly the largest and most fulfilling project I'll have worked on yet. If anything, it seems as if adulthood and age are starting to catch up with me here.

"Are you nervous?" friends have often asked me. It's a natural thing to ask, with such a big summer in store for me. But it's practically the only thing they ask.

"No," I said once. "I'm keeping it off my mind." My voice carries the tone of a graduating high schooler — a naïve calm and the underestimation of significant changes ahead.

I've kept up a steady and blank state of denial for the past month or so, keeping my emotions down and taking care of business — such as signing my apartment — with an almost mechanical stoicism. I'm not thinking about it. I'm just doing it.

"Do you need anything else from us? Is there anything else we can help you with?" ask the folks at the Spokesman-Review — the newspaper that I'll soon call my job.

"Nope," I say. "I think I've gotten most things on my end figured out. I'll just wing everything else when I get there." Again, I was simply putting it off my mind.

I'm starting to pack my things, trying to figure out what's necessary and what's not — I need to survive three months on my own two feet and I need to choose carefully here. I can't ignore it now.

"Now that I think about it, I'm not that nervous," I told one friend. "Actually, I'm looking forward to it more than anything."

Untitled

Wired's aggregated coverage of the San Francisco Olympic torch relay is awesome. I'm enthralled by the event simply because of the up-to-the-minute, user-submitted material which includes a live video feed from a user's phone, a Flickr link for recent "olympic" tagged photos, and CNN's iReports. The everyman has turned into the most up-to-date and most comprehensive event journalist. This stuff is awesome.

I'm reading into Qik right now, which is what the phone-based video feed is using. This looks like an excellent idea; I'm probably getting a new phone in the next couple months and might have to plan around using this.