Hello, Museum of Museums in Seattle, Washington

Tempo had a small company get-together in the Seattle Metropolitan Area earlier today, so my friend and employee Ben Shumaker came to visit. Before the gathering, I showed him around downtown Seattle, then we decided to visit the Museum of Museums, an art museum in the First Hill district west of Seattle University.

It was a very strange museum. The best way that I can think of describing it is that it had an extremely progressive feel to it, and I noticed that it was try­ing to push some extremist liberal viewpoints, some subtly and some others not so subtly. It’s almost as if it was a museum dedicated to forming a col­lec­tion of art pieces that would otherwise not be accepted for display at mainstream art museums.

Funny enough, I actually found it pretty amusing. Although I personally don’t agree with a lot of the messaging of a lot of the art pieces, it was still very refreshing to see something different, bold, and unrelenting.

This was somewhat of an impromptu visit, so I didn’t bring my good camera and only had my phone for photos. They also didn’t have air conditioning, so I was dripping sweat the entire time and we wrapped up our tour quicker than anticipated so we could get out of the heat and make our way over to the company event. Admission was US$20.00 per person, which was unusually high for a museum of this size.

Overall, I don’t regret going, but it’s definitely not something that I would return to, nor is it something I’d recommend to others if you have limited time in Seattle and want to get the most out of your time and money.

 

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Re: “Why don’t you post on social media?”

Since June 1, 2022, the date on which I began my homelessness and roamed across the United States and Canada as a nomad, I’ve published 115 blog posts, 94 of which were related to my travel in some way. I like taking photographs of everything around me, not only because I want to save them as mem­o­ries, but also because I want to share them with the rest of the world so they can see what I see from my perspective, and I think blog posts are a great way to achieve this.

Naturally, one of the questions I regularly receive is why I do this on my own website and not on social media. In a broader sense, I get asked once in a while as to why I tend to just avoid using much social media in general. After getting my fair share of “you could have a cool Instagram account with all these travel pictures,” I decided to address why I have been running a personal website since 2003, blogging regularly since 2007, and avoiding social me­di­a platforms.

 
I do not want to give free content to other companies.

I’m not a particularly money-hungry person. You may have noticed that my website (at least as of today) does not have any advertisements or pro­mo­tion­al content, because I want my readers to be able to enjoy my content without interruption. I’m also willing to do things for friends without charg­ing them—for example, I’ll give them rides to places or run errands for them without an expectation of mileage reimbursement or payment, just as a way for me to have an excuse to go outside, move my body, and get some fresh air.

With that being said, I do not give anything for free to people who do not deserve it, and especially not to companies that do not deserve it.

If I upload content to social media, I perceive that as giving my content to massive social media corporations for free. A majority of social media plat­forms would not pay me for my content, and even if some of them did, the amount of money I would receive from them is so negligible that I’d rather just decline it and keep full ownership of my own content.

Sure, you could look at it as the social media plat­forms paying me with exposure by promoting my content to a wider audience, but my objective here is not to try and get famous off my content—all I want to do is leave behind a memoir of my life and share it with those who care enough to come search­ing for it on my personal website.

 
Social media doesn’t last forever.

I pretty much do not delete anything. Ever since around the middle of high school, I have obsessively kept everything that I’ve ever created from that point forward, and also went back and archived a lot of content I created as a younger kid. I believe in keeping as comprehensive of a library of my cre­a­tions as possible, so I make sure to keep backups and never put the “primary” copy of things anywhere it could be easily lost.

The stuff from high school that I mentioned above? It literally still exists, live, on this very website. I have intentionally made the navigation to older con­tent pretty difficult in order to avoid people from uncovering some of my cringey content from my past, but it’s still technically all there for the par­tic­u­lar­ly dedicated detectives who want to see what I was like as a teenager.

Imagine if I had written all that content on social media instead. Back then, I guess I would’ve been writing blog posts on MySpace. After MySpace ba­si­cal­ly died, I imagine I would’ve transitioned onto Facebook. Nowadays, Facebook is sort of falling out of favor… and there isn’t really even a great plat­form to write long-form content anymore. Would I post my photos on Instagram now, then write 3,000-word captions to the photos?

Not only would this make my work spread out all over the place, but if any of these social media platforms go out of business, my work that was o­rig­i­nally published there would be lost unless I go manually transfer them over… but it wouldn’t be a one-to-one transfer, because then that would mod­ern­ize the date stamps.

There are plenty of examples of companies going out of business and nuking their users’ content along with it. In a milder-case scenario, even if your content doesn’t get deleted, these websites could force you to pay to continue using their services—which is exactly what happened to Flickr, and pre­cise­ly why I no longer use them and instead just decided to stop worrying about bandwidth and start hosting all my media in-house now.

 
I want to have full control over the presentation of my content.

If I want to write something short and make it look artistic, I want to be able to do that. If I want to post photos of varying different dimensions and wrap text around it, I want to be able to do that. If I want to do a massive personal finance breakdown with charts and tables, I want to be able to do that. If I want to publish a humongous block of text like I am today, I want to be able to do that.

Social media platforms heavily restrict the amount of personalization and customization you can implement into your publications. In the old days, I re­member social media platforms being far more liberal with the types of HTML and CSS you could integrate into your profiles—I remember going ma­jor­ly overboard on my Neopets and MySpace profiles—but with so many web exploits nowadays, it’s not really safe or practical anymore.

Instead, all I can do is type plain text or BBCode markup at most, and conform to the existing permissible structure of the social media platform. I find that to be boring and restrictive, and would prefer to have my own space where I can literally code any PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and whatever other features I want directly into the page.

For example, in the website theme I’m using today, you might think that it’s just plain black text on a white background. However, that’s not actually true—the text is a very dark charcoal, and the background is slightly off-white to resemble paper. These extremely subtle color changes are supposed to make the website subconsciously look a bit classier without a majority of readers even realizing why, and it’s something that I can do because I have the full power to do whatever I want to with my website.

 
I want to stay true to my own voice without falling into the trap of optimizing to an algorithm.

No matter how stubborn someone may be, the number of interactions on social media posts eventually gets to almost everyone’s head. Low interactions can make a creator feel like they’re doing something wrong, while high interactions can lead the creator astray from what they truly want to do.

The most dangerous kind of bias is one that you don’t know exists. I don’t want to become overconfident and assume that I’m able to ignore the peer pres­sure from social interactions, only to be betrayed by myself.

The target audience for my blog is … myself. I literally create content on my website to please myself first, and to please everyone else second. Because of this, I don’t see any reason to put myself in a situation where I may subconsciously change my core objective by trying to satisfy a social media algorithm to earn the approval of people who I consider to be less important than myself when it comes to the scope of my website.

The best part about this is that this is usually the best way to retain long-term followers and supporters. Optimizing your content just for the surge of views and interactions by conforming to the latest trend will help you in the short-term, but those people will come and go. Staying true to yourself and consistently putting out content that you think is great content will result in slower growth but more reliable retention.

In a similar vein, I have noticed that social media platforms nowadays have become dangerously liberal, as opposed to remaining neutral. I have per­son­al­ly seen instances where people who wish to debate liberal and progressive viewpoints have been shut down and removed from the platform un­der the guise of being “hateful” or “spreading misinformation.” I, as someone who is non-partisan and moderate, have opinions that lean in both di­rec­tions of the liberal-to-conservative spectrum, and I do not want to have to think twice about what I write out of fear that the social media platform may unjustly ban me and lock me out of my account.

 

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Hello, Schack Art Center in Everett, Washington

While in Everett, and before heading back to the central Seattle Metropolitan Area, I decided to do one more tourist activity up north, and selected the Schack Art Center.

Admission to the art exhibits was free, and it seemed like they made most of their money off classes that they offer. Unfortunately, there were none a­vail­a­ble at the time that I visited, though I was still able to peek in and look at glassblowing equipment.

Afterwards, I snapped some photos of my favorite art pieces.

 

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Hello, Jetty Island in Everett, Washington

Since starting my road trip and living out of hotel rooms, I generally roam around to wherever has the most affordable hotel rates. This methodology recently brought me to Everett, Washington, a city inside Snohomish County on the northern end of the Seattle Metropolitan Area.

For one of my tourist activities, I decided to explore Jetty Island, an island about a thousand feet (a little over 300 meters) off the coast of Everett. Jetty Island is a popular tourist area, and it recently opened up for tourism via the passenger ferry.

After parking my truck at the lot, paying a few dollars for the ferry ride, and making it onto the island, I started my hike by heading north.

There was a short trail that had been cleared, but in general, hiking was fairly difficult because I was part of some of the first batches of tourists arriving on the island for the season. I ended up being one of the trailblazers flattening wild grasses under my feet to form a path, or climbing up fallen tree trunks in areas where the grasses were too tall.

Continuing off the path and into deeper vegetation led me to a swampy area.

Eventually, it became a bit unmanageably muddy and difficult to proceed, so I retraced my steps for a little bit, then started heading towards the beach.

On the beach, I saw some sea foam that was a lot more colorful than I’m used to seeing—it was a rich tan color, as opposed to off-white like I’ve seen before.

The shoreline also had a lot of random tree stumps.

As expected, there were also plenty of shells. This one had an ornate, purple, stone-like substance on the outside.

I eventually made it to the northern tip of the island, where I saw a flock of seagulls perched on some rocks.

After looping around and continuing on the east shoreline, I saw more seagulls, and even a few seals.

There was a row of rocks surrounded by upright logs; I’m not sure if this was intended to be a path at some point, but the rocks seemed far too slippery to be reliably safe, so I continued trailblazing through the grassy area.

I have pretty bad eyesight, so I didn’t realize this at the time, but when I was browsing through the photos I took, I noticed something in the corner. Upon zooming all the way in, I discovered a colony of seals poking their heads out of the water.

Jetty Island is known for being home to a lot of bird species, so I saw a lot of loose feathers lying around. I came across one that was sticking upright out of the sand, which I found intriguing, so I reached down and picked it up… then proceeded to immediately regret doing so. I stabbed it back into the sand and took a picture of it, pretending like it had never left the ground…

After making a figure 8 and making a long trip down the west coastline, I walked past the more popular beach area, then came across a flock of geese taking a dip in Possession Sound.

Even further south, I noticed a wrecked and abandoned ship.

Eventually, I made it all the way to the southern tip of the island. If I was a risk-taker, I could’ve continued further south on the tree trunks and rocks, but after slipping and falling on rocks at Sacred Cove Beach in Rancho Palos Verdes, California earlier this year that left me with a painful bruise that lasted months, I decided that just taking a picture would suffice.

This southern tip also had a lot more algae than other areas of the island. I found it very intriguing that algae in moderate volumes would make it look goopy.

Overall, my adventure across the island was a little over four and a half miles (7.39 kilometers) and took over 2 hours due to taking many stops from photos and navigating carefully through the wilder areas. If you like exploring nature, this is a great trip that you can knock out in one day.

If you just want a day to relax, there is a nice beach not too far away from the ferry unloading zone where you can enjoy the sand and water. If you’re a bird­watching enthusiast, it is definitely worth heading to the northern part of the island, bringing a lawn chair or something to camp out, and watching all the interesting species on the island.

 

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I spent a week surrounded by two dogs and a cat

Almost a year ago, I blogged about meeting Erin Krell’s pets for the first time—Bullet and Kaya the Alaskan Klee Kais, and Drake the domestic longhair. I’ve obviously visited them many times since then, but recently for a week, I petsit them while Erin went on vacation with her husband.

This was the first time I had lived with animals ever since moving out from my previous living situation with a roommate who had three cats. It can ob­vi­ously get pretty distracting, but it was nice having them around, and usually, it was a healthy type of distraction—they would prompt me to get off my computer for a bit and move around with them.

The day before I took over petsitting for a week, Erin, her husband, and I went to pick up some burgers and a fish sandwich from a restaurant and brought the dogs along. Here are Bullet and Kaya patiently awaiting their parents’ return.

The dogs enjoyed spending time outside, which was useful for me to go out and get some fresh air. We went on walks every day except for one day when it rained all day, and I took them out to the backyard an additional four times per day so they could go to the bathroom.

One convenient part about their house was that the exercise room had a direct view of the backyard, so the dogs were able to sunbathe, while I would be indoors lifting weights and keeping an eye on them to make sure they weren’t doing anything too wild.

Drake, as you’d expect from a fairly normal cat, was very independent. He would roam around the house at his leisure, then make his way downstairs when his internal clock told him it’s time for his next meal. After eating, he would make his way back upstairs to a comfortable spot and clean himself up.

Here is Bullet staring deep into my soul and trying to figure out why I won’t give him another treat, even though it’s already been AN ENTIRE 12 MI­NUTES since his last treat.

Kaya had a little bit of separation anxiety, laid by the front door a lot, and slept in Erin and her husband’s bed for a while. However, at some point, I think she realized that her parents were on vacation and hadn’t just gotten lost coming back from the grocery store, so she curled up in a ball and slept overnight next to me in the guest room for the second half of the week.

Here is Bullet, exhausted after a session of fetch. And by a session of fetch, I mean me fetching the toy, and Bullet running back and forth giving e­mo­tion­al support.

Bullet is probably one of the smartest and most intuitive dogs I’ve ever met, but even the smartest dogs sometimes have internal clock errors. Here is Bul­let miscalculating the time and asking for his dinner half an hour too early.

Here is Drake after dinner one day, forgetting to retract his tongue back into his mouth after finishing grooming himself.

And for some bonus photos, here is Kaya sitting below Erin’s desk while she works, which I took a few weeks ago…

… as well as Drake staring off into the distance, looking like a wise old man, probably solving integral calculus and differential equations in his head.

 

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Hello, Manito Park in Spokane, Washington

On my way back from Canada, I re-entered through Idaho and drove across through the panhandle for my second visit to Spokane, Washington. I had a great time exploring downtown Spokane during my last visit, and this time, I decided to visit Manito Park, about a mile south of Interstate 90.

I parked in the northern-most lot northwest of the roundabout connecting East 18th Avenue and South Tekoa Street, then started walking around Mirror Pond. Most of the paths were paved with asphalt, but there were a few dirt trails around the northwestern area of the park.

The northwestern area also had the Lilac Garden, containing, as you may have guessed, lilacs.

Next up was Rose Hill.

After Rose Hill, I crossed West 21st Avenue and looked at some of the flower arrangements east of Rose Garden Path.

South of this was Duncan Garden, a manicured garden with a very pleasant display of flowers and trimmed shrubs.

The steps going up from Duncan Garden led to the Gaiser Conservatory.

The Gaiser Conservatory had two sections, with the one to the east having a more humid environment.

The west side of the conservatory was drier and featured vegetation you’d see in an arid climate.

I continued my walk down south near the playground and kickball field, then circled back around through the picnic area to where I had parked. Back by the pond, I saw some ducks waddling around in the grass.

Even with partly cloudy skies, it was still pretty sunny and got pretty warm. I think Manito Park would be a great place to find a spot in the shade and relax if the weather is nice, and a pleasant (and free) place to go for a walk if you like looking at flowers.

 

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