News Headlines

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pic Taken On My Walk Today

Friday, December 29, 2006

Blog for the New Year

So I'm thinking about what to do with this blog for the upcoming year. I think it's already pretty cool. My family and friends can check this out and communicate outside of the usual means of phone, email, etc. As you can tell, I get bored with repeating the same conversations via phone 5-6 times weekly with my out of town family and friends. Time now isn't an issue since people can read and comment 24 hours a day or whenever their schedule permits. And another cool thing is, this blog has steadily grown in popularity without much of a push. Many of my buddies haven't even checked this out yet since many of us haven't hung out since before the holidays. In other words, things are looking up as far as keeping the blog moving forward. But that doesn't mean we can't take a look and see what would make this better. Would adding more news, topical news, pics, or anything else make this even more useful? Please let me know. I think the new format makes the blog easier on the eyes. And, the entire page is used more efficiently. The old page had these margins that would drive me nuts. What else should be added? What changes should be made? What could be added that would make you want to show this off and share with other people? I'm interested in seeing how far I can push this thing, so any suggesstions are very much appreciated. Thanks!!!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Soul Brother Number One

Man, I was bummed to hear that James Brown passed away. I love that dude's music. He was a total original. I regret never seeing him perform live. It would have easily been one of the most memorable moments in my life, no joke. I remember hearing some history on him during a history of popular music class that I was taking during my time at UW (University of Washington-Seattle). I was blown away by the stuff I was hearing. There's still no one out there that sounds like him or had the lyrics that he had. He once said that the two big American originals were Elvis and himself. And in many ways, he was absolutely right. James was a superstar back when a black guy could only be a superstar to a portion of the willing and open American population. James' music was so bad, "It makes me want to look in a mirror, jump back, and kiss myself. 'Cause I'm SuperBad." Here's to the "Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother Number One." Hopefully Heaven is having a funk good time.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


In case you hadn't noticed, Hilltopia's look has changed considerably. I wanted something that looked cleaner and better utilized the entire page. I think the blog looks more crisp and a bit more light. Hopefully you like it. Let me know if there's anything else you would like to see. This will be an ongoing, continuing improvement process; forgive the mess.


New Year's Resolution

Have you made your New Year's Resolution yet? Tell us what it is! I haven't put much thought into it yet. It could possibly be that I want to be in better shape. Or maybe that this blog get bigger and more popular. Or possibly go on a great vacation? So many choices. Do you stick to your resolutions? I'm not very good at it. I think it's usually out of sight and mind by the end of February. Tell us what your resolution is and how you think you'll do at it. Bust out the champagne, whistles, and poppers!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Nighttime Trees


How's everyone doing? This is just a general post to get back into the swing of things. Hopefully everyone had a good Christmas. I survived and I think it went fairly well. I did return to work and I must admit that it felt pretty good to get back to a semi-normal schedule. I know some people out there took some extended time off; have fun while you're out galavanting. Hopefully I'll be doing the same either in late January or February. I'm not sure if anyone watched any football, but did the Seahawks give up the big play or what? I'm not feeling good about our chances. We're pretty weak in one too many areas to do much damage in the playoffs. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. Well, if I think of more stuff I'll write. But, with the holidays underway, it may be a little sporadic. See ya!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blue Olive Closing?

The folks over at The Weekly Volcano are reporting that The Blue Olive is closing shortly. That's too bad, I thought the place was alright. It was a nice place to catch a drink with a friend. I didn't go there often, mainly because it was a little out of the way from everything else. But nontheless, I thought it was definitely one of the better bars around. So, what should go there? I'm not sure that's the space, but I still think Tacoma needs a good diner or place that has good old fashioned American food. The place needs to be open late and be centrally located. I love Knapps, but it's out in Procter and it's not a late night joint. Something akin to the 5 Spot (located in Seattle) would be nice. What do you think? Anyone else have any ideas?

Weekly Volcano

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Good Downtown (or City)

So what makes a good downtown? With Tacoma and Hilltop changing so much, I figured I would throw the question out there. Is it good restaurants? That seems like as good a start as any. With good restaurants, you have a place to go to meet up with friends and family for a good bite to eat. People in business can treat and meet clients there. Entertaining can be much easier with a good restaurant. Is it good shopping? And what does good shopping consist of? Does a downtown have to have fancier stores than what you would find in a mall in anytown USA? Or do the stores have to be more eclectic and "urban"? How about good bars and nightlife? Is there supposed to be barhopping or club areas for people to get their groove on at night (or early morning)? Or do there have to be just professional jobs in big ominous buildings? I'm thinking maybe a mix of things, but it would be foolish to think that I would know exactly what other people would assume to be good downtown areas. What do you think? What is it that you look for when deciding if you want to go to some urban area for fun or even to live?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Husky Hoops

Did anyone see the Huskies play last night? The Dawgs were looking good. They came out and dominated LSU from the start. For such a young team, we're looking really good. We've got good big men and our guards are playing fairly solid. I'm not sold on all of our bench support, and besides Pondexter, I don't know if we have any other options at small forward, but regardless, we're talented. I wasn't quite sure how such a young team would do, but I think Romar will have a nice overall record and wil set himself up nicely for next year. If he has another great recruiting class, we could make a serious push next year. Who knows, maybe we'll even make some noise this year at the big dance. It's safe to say that Spencer Hawes is an absolute stud player and will make a pro team very happy in the not-so-distant future. Meanwhile, about the Sonics...


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Burrito Treatment

I get a call today from my wife, Sheila, who says that she is going to hang out with our nieces after work today. We decide to do our own thing for dinner since I knew I was going to have a bad commute home and she wasn't sure how the timing of her little hang out was going to work. Since I had the time and didn't want to sit in traffic, I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a couple of books. FYI, I'm a Barnes and Noble addict. I love to read and I like hanging out there and checking everything out. It's a little tough on my wallet. Afterwards, I head towards Tacoma.

I'm headed towards Fife on Pacific Highway (where there is still no working lights) and I'm hoping that I don't hit some deer in the almost pitch black of the road. I hadn't eaten yet and I'm still not sure what to do. Once I'm in Fife, I see Taco Del Mar and decide that I really need a much too large, but very tasty burrito. I go inside and there's this lady working and she says that it might be a couple of minutes. I say that it's ok and watch her burrito-making-magic powers at work. I keep thinking that any minute the other Taco Del Mar worker will come out from their smoke break and help me with my burrito construction and purchase (if you've been to a Taco Del Mar, you know the whole build it in front of you drill). Well, that doesn't happen because this lady is working alone. Ok, let's break this down. There was a dad and his daughter in front of me. Apparently the dad is ordering for his huge family at home because these people are ordering everything on the menu. There was already a family there eating (with two little kids) and a random guy eating by himself. The lady gets to me and helps me with my burrito. By that time everyone else has ordered, received the goods, paid and left... It's just me, the lady, and a burrito.

This lady was the nicest lady that may have ever sold food to me. I couldn't believe it; I was kind of freaked out. I thought that maybe Taco Del Mar had started a credit card and she would butter me up for the sale while enticing me with a 10% discount if I filled out the credit app now. Or she thought I had the gift of burrito making. Either way, I was suspicious. So I get my burrito, begin eating and am watching this lady clean up the joint. I'm kind of peeking over my shoulder just to make sure she's not sizing me up for the kill. Amazingly enough, she wasn't just then and we're chatting a little about work, fish tacos, etc. So I finish my burrito and kind of felt a moment of weirdness thinking about how crazy it is when we freak out when people are just really nice. I felt like something needed to be done. I tell Wendy (that's her name) that I was going to write about her tonight and that she should check this out. She said she didn't care if I wrote about her (which I took as a "yes, I grant you permission to write about my burrito-making skills"). I then said thanks again and wished her a good night. I think she said "Happy Holidays" and then this moving truck pulled up to the joint and she was off to make the next magical burrito (since I had violently killed mine in front of her).

That may have been almost the most memorable time for me at Taco Del Mar. The other memorable time I was in downtown Seattle with my buddy Brian. Before a night of rabble-rousing (I was single then), we decided what better way to start off the night than with a huge burrito (not a great idea before a long night of drinking and shaking the boote')? We go in, order a burrito and begin eating. During my dinner and fine conversation, a crackhead (we'll call him Crackie since he didn't introduce himself) comes in, walks up to us, takes my aluminum foil off my burrito basket, says "Hey man, I need to borrow this", smiles and busts out of the joint with my aluminum foil. I was so dismayed that I look at Brian with a "What the hell just happened?" look and with my naked burrito still in hand. I proceed to finish my burrito. Needless to say, Crackie didn't return the aluminum foil he borrowed from me. What the hell? What if I wanted to smoke some phat rocks? I would then have to steal from my brother Brian just to get my crack groove on. Do you see how the vicious cyle begins now? Ok, I'm getting sidetracked. The point is that the experience I had with Wendy helping me was the best moment that I've had at Taco Del Mar. Maybe not as crazy as my special time with Crackie, but much better overall. So, for better or for worse, you made it to Hilltopia Wendy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Walk on 6th Ave

So Sheila and I went for a walk on 6th Ave today. We stopped in at Posh Home and checked the new store out. In case you didn't know, they had a smaller store on 6th Ave and recently moved into a bigger storefront. The place was cool, lots of trendy stuff for your house. If you're looking for some really snazzy stuff for your place (or are looking for good ideas), you should stop by and check it out. We also stopped in at some of the other shops and had a nice time although it was really cold. We ended it all with a late lunch (or early dinner) at Engine House 9 (E-9). As usual, good bar food and good beer. I always forget that I really dig that place.

Super Bowl Picks

So before the playoffs begin and everybody tries to act like they knew all along who is going to the Super Bowl, I want to see what people think. Who are you picking to be in the Super Bowl? Initially, I'm picking the Bears and ??? The other easy pick would probably be San Diego, but I'm not so sure about that. I don't think Indy is going to do it (average defense, have choked in the past). I think New Englaind will be back in the big game. Good defense, efficient offense, maybe the best coaching, and they'll have the best defensive schemes that they will not have used during the regular season (and no one will have seen). I'd love to see the Seahawks go all the way, but they're really looking weak in all areas of the team. Other teams to watch include: New Orleans, Dallas and Cincinnati (and possibly Baltimore).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Shopping

So I think I'm done Christmas shopping. I'm definitely happy about it. But about the point I was going to make, is it just me or does it seem like Christmas gifts and Christmas shopping in general has gotten more expensive? I realize that families grow and there's more people to buy for, but I just got back from shopping today and I was continuously surprised at how much crap costs these days. I mean it, I was really kind of surprised. I'm not complaining about buying nice quality stuff, I'm talking about all of the cheap "for sale" stuff that stores try to lure you in with. That stuff advertised today was lame and not so cheap. Are people just buying whatever now and so stores don't have to try as hard? I don't think I'm all that cheap; my Christmas bill will certainly be on par with everyone else's, but geez, can we get some cool stuff? On a side note, could it be that Americans just have so much junk that we have now resorted to buying crap so that we can say that we bought something for everyone? We need a better system to do this.


Hey folks, as you may or may not have noticed, there has been some significant changes to the blog. I'm trying to make it even more user friendly and possibly even helpful. It's one thing to mention a book or article that I read and thought was insightful, helpful, educational or even interesting. It's another thing entirely to able to share or point people to many of the resources that I use for education, fun, information, etc. This will probably be an ongoing process, so I hope you're open to change. But, I think it will be more helpful to us all if you can get more of what you're looking for or need from one place. I think that's a little better than a guy like me pointing directions to things or news and not really giving easier direction or ways to get there. Happy trails and thanks again!

PS There will be no post on the Seahawks as I'm rather disgusted with them currently.


Whew, I woke up this morning and I was still alive (or so I think). I have never heard or been in such strong winds. The drive home last night was crazy. There were trees blowing sideways and branches were flying and hitting my car. Drivers were freaking out and were driving all over the place basically ignoring any traffic signals or stop signs. You forget how tall the trees are here in WA until you think that they might fall. It was hard sleeping last night because of the howling winds. But, here I am pretty much safe and sound. Let's see...we've had floods, heavy rain, high winds...I believe hellfire, brimstone or locusts are next. I'd rather pass on the frogs...heh, heh, I'm so clever and my plague knowledge is rather sound if I say so myself.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Shopping

So does everyone have their Christmas shopping completed? I think we're almost done. That's a relief because I'm rather tired of the shopping. With a bigger family now, the whole process has gotten monstrous. But we've survived thus far. You know what people should give other? Vacation time, that's gift that employers should allow. You should be able to buy a gift card chock full of annual leave. Or airlines should sell really cheap flights to somewhere cool; a sort of loss leader type of deal. I'm not sure the airlines are capable of figuring something like that out though.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Super Fast!


All I've got to say is "Does anyone have a kite?". Dang, it's windy, rainy, stormy and everything else. I heard creaks, whistles, rustles and everything else around my house while I was getting ready for work this morning. I've got a pretty new house; I can't imagine what older houses where sounding like this morning. That was crazy. The forecast says it could be getting worse. How the hell is that possible? I've never seen so much rain. I'm about to go and try to catch two of every animal just in case...By the way, anybody have a boat I can borrow?

New Years Parties

So does anyone know what they're doing for New Years? Me neither, no real plans yet. Last year there was a small group of us and we went to Indochine in downtown Tacoma. Michael Powers (who's a jazz musician) was playing and it was a fun time. The place wasn't very crowded, the music was good, the staff was friendly, and we had a really good time. I wouldn't mind going back there this year, but we've also got some other new places, so who knows. What about you people in cyber land?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Big Kitty


So I was thinking that I would start talking about some good books that I've read lately. But I also wanted to see if anyone else out there has read anything good as well. I'm always trying to find some good new material to read, so if you know of anything that's caught your fancy, speak up and let me know. I'll bust out with what I've read as well.

Monday, December 11, 2006


6th Ave

I was on 6th Ave last Saturday night and was quite surprised at all of the activity. The street was hoppin' with all of the bars, restaurants, and businesses packing out with people. It was a real change from the not-too-distant past. There were valets out parking cars, people walking and hanging out, and even a Santa dressed in his own self-powered Christmas lights. The sight was great and hopefully one that will continue on for some time. We could still use a little more retail on 6th, but I'll take what I can get for now.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Christmas at Wright Park


Man, did they suck it up tonight or what? And against the Cardinals? Geez, we really need to win against the lesser opponents. It just looked like we were flat again in the first half. We spot the Cards 14 points and then try to halfheartedly rally. Piss poor performance... It was nice to see Alexander's streak of games with a 10-plus yard run continue. I just don't get it though; are we really that much worse without Hutchinson? You would think more good receivers might negate that a little, but it doesn't appear to be that way. And what's up with DJ Hackett? That dude is making the plays and he's like our seventh stringer. If he doesn't move up the depth chart soon, I've got to figure he'll be good trade bait in the future.


So Sheila and I went on a drive last night to look at houses in Hilltop (kind of a spur of the moment thing). Wow, the place really has gotten much nicer. The housing areas are all much cleaner, renovated, and downright nice. I always knew Hilltop was coming along, but once I got into some of the other neighborhoods (that I don't typically spend a lot of time in) and did some out of the way snooping, I was really impressed. For as much as we talk about how things are changing, I think we may tend to forget how far we've already come. Very encouraging indeed. The place is looking spiffy gangsta!

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Matador/Meconi's/Katie Downs

I was down by the Matador and Meconi's in downtown Tacoma just a little bit ago. The places seemed to be busy and doing quite well at night. That's good to see since it wasn't long ago that quite a bit of business left as soon as all of the downtown workers clocked out for the day or weekend. It also seems like there are more people hanging out downtown as well. All good signs about the way Tacoma is growing and picking up as far as foot traffic and life downtown goes. I was also at Katie Downs for dinner and I'm quite happy with that place. The remodel looks good and the food was good (as usual). There didn't seem to be a bad seat if you wanted to eat and watch a game down there. I'm a fan of the Varsity Grill, but Katie Downs is definitely a good place to meet up with friends for some sporting action/food/beer. And you can't beat the view either. Tacoma definitely needs many good places to watch a game since there aren't many sports bars around here. But things are on the up in T-Town.

Friday, December 8, 2006


So what is everyone doing for the holidays? I'm staying in town and hanging out with the in-laws. We'll be heading off to see my family after the new year rolls around. Anybody have any big party plans for the New Year? Any big resolutions or plans for 2007? Speak up!

Other Great References

I wanted to take a second to let people know that there are some really good sites or blogs that I read regularly and that are both interesting and informative. These sites are definitely about Tacoma, so if you do not live in Grit City, these may not be quite as relevant or interesting. But, I did want to let people know about these sites. They are:

Now go out there and read!

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Iraq? A Study Group?

I think I'm a little more hopeful that there may be some chance to salvaging an already poor situation in Iraq. It appears that between the Iraq Study Group and a new Secretary of Defense, maybe we're getting some more talent on board to help guide this thing. Does anyone else out there feel any better about this? I can't help but think that some more (hopefully) rational voices may help drown out any ignorance that has us mired in a grave mess that we now find ourselves in...

Sonics, OK?

I heard through the news that the Sonic's new ownership group has hired a company called HOK to design a new arena for the team. I guess in a way that is encouraging. There is already an NBA ready arena in Oklahoma, so there would be no need to hire a firm to design a new arena if there wasn't any thought to trying to keep the Sonics in the Northwest. I had practically written them off and to Timbuktu when I heard the news that Mr. Starbucks had sold our hoops team to a group in Oklahoma. I'm not at ease with where things are headed yet, but I'm a little more hopeful about keeping our team here in the state. I've heard rumors (like everyone else) that Bellevue and Renton are interested in moving the team to those cities, but there certainly hasn't been anything definite as far as concrete plans for an arena site and dates to begin construction. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but I'm still pretty worried about our chances to keep the Sonics. At least the Dawgs have a good team; that's helping to ease my hoops anxiety.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Dome District

The Tacoma News Tribune had an article today about a North Carolina developer stating their intention to build condos in the Dome District. That's pretty exciting news and I'm anxious to see how everything turns out. It really seems like the Dome District could one day be really cool. There's the industrial/urban feel mixed with some new mass transit structures and easy access to the freeway and downtown Tacoma. For those moving into the area, there's the really cool perk of having the Tacoma Link Light Rail right there at your doorstep. And to top it off, the condos are being built in an old mattress factory. If the building rehab goes well, those units could end up being cool. I really dig the whole updating old warehouses and buildings and then turning them into all new work or living spaces. The whole vibe is raw and renewed.

Hopefully there's more development to follow. There needs to be more to downtown than what is currently there. A fairly short walk and you've gone through the whole thing. I'm definitely needing some more coffee shops and restaurants to hang out and read in during the long rainy winter. And if we could get a 24 Hour Fitness and a cool bookstore...

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Long Walk Home


Apparently the national housing market still isn't quite as healthy as here in the Pacific Northwest. It has seemed to be business as usual here in our little corner and we've just steamrolled along. Toll Brother's latest forecast indicates that maybe they've hit the floor and the national market will soon begin growing again. I have doubts that housing will stay dormant for long given that the economy seems to be plugging along with solid growth, strength, etc. Not to say that everything out there is hunky-dorey, but as far as the national scene economically, I think things look fairly solid.

Another interesting tidbit is the fact that Bush nominee Robert Gates seems to think that we're not doing so well in Iraq. You think? It's about time that someone loosely affiliated with Bush acknowledges the challenges that we do have overseas. Maybe rational thought is making a comeback? We can only hope... Another note, maybe our UN Rep. Bolton resigning is also a good thing? Stay tuned...

Monday, December 4, 2006

Newt and Carville

This past weekend I saw some speeches on tv given by Newt Gingrich and James Carville. Two pretty interesting guys commenting on the state of America and the upcoming election. It'll be pretty interesting in that there are so many big names in politics eyeing their chance to throw their hat in the ring. I wonder if Vegas is taking odds yet...? Speaking of Vegas, who's able to accurately call the line on any Seahawks game this year? And Wake Forest winning the ACC? Shoot, that would've been a payday.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Saturday Night

A successful night of broomball occured. There were no broken bones or sprained body parts. I don't even feel that sore. Also, on the drive home it was quite apparent that the Matador and Syren were doing quite well. The Tacoma nightlife is starting to pick up a little bit. Lately I've noticed a little more pedestrian traffic downtown. Hopefully the trend grows or at the very least continues. I think our little town is still moving in the right direction.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

Friday, December 1, 2006

Friday Night!

Well, it's Friday and I'm glad the weekend's here. Have some plans to hang out with the guys, play some broomball and just have a merry ol' time. The Seahawks play Sunday night and I'll definitely be watching. The Broncos are tough, so it'll be a good indicator to see if we're for real this year. Well, I'll be sure to let everyone in on any other exciting news as it comes along. Try to stay warm, it's cold out there!