News Headlines

Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Media-Will It Change the World?

With the mass proliferation of blogs, websites, podcasts, etc., it is apparent that these new forms of media are not going away. I would rather argue that these forms will continue to grow, change, and adapt and eventually spawn even new forms of media that we haven’t quite gotten to yet. The interesting thing about these new forms is that many of the producers of this new media are people outside the traditional world of media (books, newspapers, tv, etc.). All of a sudden, there’s an entirely new flavor of media, material and information. Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, has become immensely popular without advertising in the more traditional forms of media. Rather, he advertised and used word of mouth marketing via websites, meetings, blogs, etc. (in other words, new media sources). Can these new forms change the world? Can they move new ideas to the public? I would argue that they can and I would also state that they may already be more effective than the traditional forms today. The success of YouTube and MySpace are great examples of user generated media. What I find interesting is how these users and producers are going to be able to shift thinking and business in ways unknown previously in the marketplace. The proliferation of ideas is occurring at a rate previously unknown. Can it make for greater positive change? I guess we’ll see, but I’d be willing to bet on it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Politics-Will Anyone Address Real Problems?

As the barrage of messages from political candidates continues, I begin to wonder about a question that is pointed to all of the candidates. Can any of these people really solve real problems experienced by real people? We’re only now beginning to hear about how to fix health care and that’s about it. I still don’t think I’ve heard anything (including the health care platforms) that makes me think that we’re going to get somewhere good with these people. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think cryptic or let’s take a simple approach and tax the rich answers will suffice this time around. Simplicity to gain popularity for popularity’s sake doesn’t truly solve any problems. And does anyone really believe that taxing the rich will work with all of the special interest groups and political pressure the wealthy can exert on candidates? I have to believe that’s a far cry answer from reality (sorry Barack). What we really need is someone who is willing to come forward with big answers that have realistic chances to succeed. I’m just not confident that has happened. Everyone is so busy raising money that no one really has an answer to the war, health care (with viable funding), Social Security deficits, efficient infrastructure, excellent education, environmental protections, and a truly green plan for the future. And by the way, the debates are turning out to be more political rhetoric spewing sessions as opposed to giving the public a well-thought out agenda for success and progress. When did politics become so lame and unoriginal?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Book Review-The 4-Hour Workweek

I just got done with The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I got the audiobook and listened to it during time spent in the car. The book is really interesting and there is some helpful information in it. If you're looking for a new way to live and work, this book is a good starting point for you. Basically it's a very entrepreneurial book in that it describes how the author found his own online retail niche that ended up freeing his work time thus allowing him to live the life that he truly wants to live (he's quite the travel fanatic). Anyways, I really enjoyed the book and learned some pretty new things and ideas in the process. If you don't have the time to read it, you can always download it from audible.com and listen to it as you drive, workout, etc.

UFC-Great Night!

If you watched the Ultimate Fighting Pay-Per-View, you may be as shocked as I was on Saturday night. I really didn’t think Rampage Jackson was going to destroy the Iceman like that. I was wrong, really wrong. Rampage Jackson rolled through Liddell like he was nothing. I couldn’t believe it. After what the Iceman has done to Randy Couter and Tito Ortiz, I at least figured the fight would go for more than a round and with Chuck Liddell winning. Well, that didn’t happen (not by a long shot) and Rampage has all of my respect. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a true stud. By the way, the under card fights were great if you missed those as well. Houston Alexander? Who the heck is that guy? Well, apparently he’s a monster; you’ve got to see it. And Din Thomas is still looking like a really good fighter. Overall, it was a great night for fights.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Weekend Events-UFC

Well, this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and there's gonna be a good fight. Chuck "Iceman" Liddell is fighting Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. If you've been living under a rock, those are two of the more popular ultimate fighters out there. The fight should be pretty good although I think Liddell will handle Jackson and retain his title (and avenge a loss from a few years back). Other than that, not a whole lot else going on. The weather should be nice so I guess cutting some grass may be in my future.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On the Web-Audible.com

I recently began subscribing to audible.com. Audible.com is a pretty cool site that features audiobook downloads that would typically be featured in stores like Borders or Barnes and Noble (but probably in book form of course). The idea of audible.com is that you can buy audiobook downloads and download them to your iPod or mp3 player. There are subscription plans that allow you to purchase these downloads for a pretty good price. If you’ve ever bought audiobooks on cd or tape, you know how expensive it can be to buy these things on an ongoing basis. For a fraction of that price, you can subscribe to audible.com and get audiobook downloads on to your iPod and be on your way. It’s a pretty cool setup and I’ve had no real problems with it. If you’re an information junkie or bookworm on-the-go, audible.com is definitely worth checking out. If you’re the occasional purchaser of audiobooks, I’m not so sure that the subscription cost would be worth it for you. But for those of us that consume information like food (and happen to commute as well), then audible.com may end up saving you quite a bit of change. One tip, give the download plenty of time since downloading an entire book takes a lot longer than downloading a song or short podcast.

audible.com

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Could a “Central Park” Work for Tacoma?

As I drive through downtown Tacoma, it occurs to me, could a central park work? I mean, could a city block or two of greenery, jogging paths, sitting areas and a fountain make a difference around here? I think it could. Because of all of the still lingering urban decay, a central park would help soften the landscape and provide a much more appealing and interesting place to be and linger. A park would also allow residents to gather and meet. This could especially be helpful and useful during the warm, dry months where meeting outside is actually desirable. Also, it gives the public another community meeting and gathering space for events. I think this is especially important in a city where everyone is seemingly trying to get more people to live and entertain themselves downtown. If the city is concerned about costs, maybe a building could be added and rented out for weddings, events, banquets, etc. If this park is anywhere near UW Tacoma, students would certainly make use of it during sunny days and times in between classes. I also think this park would spur more business development. Businesses seeking to fill a need for park patrons would begin to set up shop around the perimeter of the park. If a small amphitheater or stage is set up, the events can showcase artists, speakers, and musicians here in Tacoma. This doesn’t have to be large, but interesting and welcoming. This park would also give visitors and hotel occupants something else to see and visit while in town. In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s not a lot for hotel occupants to do on a Sunday night when everything in a ten mile radius is closed. Who knows, maybe even a smaller version of a sculpture park could work. Nonetheless, as I make my trek through downtown everyday, it appears that there just isn’t enough greenery and nature to balance out the look of the city. You can only take so much of the bombed building look before you decide that something else better can be done.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tacoma-Starting to Perk Up?

Last Friday I went for a pretty long walk downtown along Pacific Avenue. It was encouraging to see UW Tacoma students and downtown workers outside and working on their various tasks, projects, etc. It was also nice to see downtown with some more life. Usually my walks take place after business hours when downtown feels eerie and deserted. But, on that sunny day, life was there. Something else that I found encouraging is the area down by Meconi’s is starting feel more populated and alive. With the new various businesses there, it’s beginning to feel like that end of Pacific Ave. isn’t lost or forgotten. I still wish something would happen with the old Drake nightclub. Maybe a live music venue? I also think more can be done with outdoor vendors downtown. During my walk, it just felt like you had to go into a building for everything and couldn’t just shop or get food/drinks/etc. while meandering downtown. I have no idea if there is some sort of permitting/legal process for this, but it sure would make the whole downtown experience feel more vibrant if there were more reasons to stop and look around.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Thanks for stopping by!

Hey everybody, I wanted to say thanks for stopping by. It seems as if Hilltopia has had an up tick in traffic. So again, thanks and have a great weekend!

Peter

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Worthy Goal-More Preventative Measures to Protect Against Violent Crime

As news comes out about how security at colleges is somewhat inadequate, it got me thinking about this problem. At the University of Washington, a student was recently killed by her stalker ex-boyfriend even after campus police knew about the stalker. And what happened at Virginia Tech is all too recent to even begin to forget about that sad event. But what can be done? For one, I can’t imagine that the large universities have nearly enough security personnel. During my time at UW, I can rarely recall security personnel or police being all too present except for sporting events or weekends when parties were underway. Unfortunately, I felt that the reason for the security or police presence was more for trying to bust up parties as opposed to preventing violent crime. Should there be a shift in thinking about what police and security should focus on? I think that may be a possibility. While underage drinking could pose a problem, violent stalkers and mentally ill students armed for World War III is a much more serious matter. And personally, I think those issues are worth reviewing. Can certain violent crimes be prevented? Is there a better policing method to enhance safety? I’m not so sure that relying on tried and true policing and security methods will gain any new efficiencies. So if that’s the case, how do we adjust to our changing times?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Health Insurance-How Expensive Can It Get?

The attached article by Kyung Song from The Seattle Times discusses how rates for many people with individual health plans are going up. How much longer can this continue? Americans who have hesitated to vote for politicians with a real health plan agenda cannot afford to wait much longer. I think at this point many Americans are beginning to feel the squeeze from rising health care premiums and deductibles. Tinkering with the system cannot be the real answer. Sweeping changes and dramatic action steps are necessary. To think that annual cost increases can continue much longer is simply unrealistic. Action needs to be taken sooner rather than later. If numerous countries the world over can figure this out, surely America can come up with a viable, appropriate answer to our specific problem. What must happen is accountability. The public must absolutely require a specific plan of action from every public leader in government. Health care isn’t the sexy, exciting topic that gets the blood boiling or gets people moving. But it needs to become that or the problem will consume families that are already on the brink of poverty. Make this an issue that political candidates cannot ignore or remain non-committal towards solving. For once, politics needs to take a back seat to productivity, planning and action.

The Seattle Times

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Politics-Is There Change on the Way (for One Party)?

As Republicans begin to jump off the sinking ship of the Bush Administration, can those who jump begin to craft a platform that actually represents their constituency? And no, I’m not talking about the loud religious right who only think they represent the actual population. In case you missed it, I actually believe the “moral majority” really only represents the smaller, louder population within the Republican Party. Unfortunately, they’ve also been highly successful in subjugating the party to their own narrow needs. But that aside, will moderate Republicans be able to rise and help create a different vision for that party? I’m a little skeptical. Giuliani and Romney have had an awful lot of mud thrown their way for supporting or believing in ideas a little different from their party’s majority. Oddly, the party leadership is more uniform and less diverse than ever before. I think it will speak volumes to see how the conservatives treat their own party candidates who speak, pray, believe or act a little different than the run-of-the-mill Republican that we’ve grown used to seeing in the past few years.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Branford Marsalis

Last night I went to Jazz Alley. Branford Marsalis was playing. His band was great and the improvisation of the band added to the fun. If you ever get the chance, Branford is definitely worth checking out. Jazz Alley was a good time. The show wasn't very long, but the music, food and drinks were definitely up to par. If you want a good show in an intimate setting, Jazz Alley may be a good pick for you.

Jazz Alley

Friday, May 11, 2007

Vanessa: Unplugged! Still Great!

Vanessa had some really nice things to say about Hilltopia and myself over on her blog, Vanessa: Unplugged! I began to read Vanessa’s blog almost as soon as I started blogging. I think she’s one of the brightest stars in the constellation of blogs (heck, there may be more blogs than stars now…). Anyways, Vanessa breaks life down to a format that is very entertaining and she’s one of the best at putting together a visually stunning blog (I could definitely learn from her on that). In case you don’t know, blogging can be a solitary work in progress. To get some encouragement out there in cyberspace is a big deal. So here’s my way of passing on the goodness; go check out Vanessa’s blog, we can be fans together!

Vanessa: Unplugged!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Eat at Le-Le

I went to dinner at Le-Le Restaurant last night. If you’ve never been there, it’s a Vietnamese restaurant on MLK (close to Tempest and People’s Park). The food has been good every time I’ve gone there. It’s a Vietnamese restaurant, but there are some Thai and Korean dishes as well. And apparently, it’s a pseudo-hangout spot. They have free wi-fi and even while we were there, people were reading, hanging out, and one guy was listening to his iPod while he was doing his own thing. The vibe was very relaxed and the staff just seems to be happy that people are eating and spending time there. If you’re in the neighborhood, check it out. MLK doesn’t have any coffee shops that I know of, so I guess Le-Le is there to fill in on double duty. And what’s better than that? Good food, cheap prices, relaxed atmosphere and free wi-fi? And if that’s not enough, you could walk to Tempest for a drink (or three) afterwards.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Got Cash, Looking for a Home?

Well, it appears as if housing in Pierce County has really come up on some slower times. Price appreciation isn’t as strong as in neighboring counties. With more inventory and slower sales, does this begin to put Pierce County in a more precarious position economically? Certainly the local economy will be affected in some way. But with so many residents commuting elsewhere to work does this really matter? If the only real hit is in price appreciation, would the only people truly hurt by this movement be those with ARM mortgages coming up on rate adjustments? I’m not so sure that I’m the one to figure this out, but it does seem like now is a ripe time to buy a new home if you’re in the market for one. With more housing inventory and slower sales, a cash rich buyer would be sitting in a very enviable position right now.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Could/Would Tacoma Support a Big Box Retailer Downtown?

With so much talk about the possibility or need for more shopping downtown, what are the chances of real success for a large retail business? Would you make it a point to shop in Downtown Tacoma just to prove that it could work? What if the store were something like a Wal-Mart? Would you refuse to shop there because of any previous beliefs about the business or would you shop there because they took a chance when it’s obvious that other big retailers are reluctant to move into downtown currently? I think these are valid questions. The residential density downtown isn’t very high for an urban area. But, could the local residents make up for that by showing a little more loyalty in spending their dollars in a place that has shown a willingness to take a chance? And what if the first retailer failed? Would that be the signal of doom to other prospective retailers thinking about coming into Downtown Tacoma? What do you think?

Politics-I’m Already Bored

Can I just say that I’m already a little tired of the upcoming presidential election? With all of the posturing, and very little real debate, I’m over it. It’s flash and sizzle and little to no substance thus far. Even the debates have no real substance. Leave it to a bunch of politicians to take the answers out of a debate. Maybe we have to require politicians to write and publish answers regarding their specific platform or stance on issues. Take Barack for instance, where’s the real answers or platform? I like the idea of Barack, I’m just not sure I’ve heard nearly enough to want to vote for the guy. To be honest, I don’t know that anyone in the race has really put forward a clear, concise plan for America. And I definitely couldn’t vote for someone governing only on ideology and not a plan; we’ve already seen what that can do and it’s not pretty.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Blogosphere in Tacoma

For those of you that live in the Tacoma area, I’m noticing a pretty cool trend. It appears that more blogs are proliferating in the area. I’m pretty happy with the development and I’ve learned a lot just by getting online and checking out some other peoples’ work. What I truly appreciate is the involvement and cooperation that everyone has put forward while collectively trying to help rehab this city. If you live in the area, check out www.feedtacoma.com for starters. You can begin to see the great work that people are putting out there for everyone to witness in cyberspace. This motley group (without Nikki Sixx) of do-gooders is out, about, and publishing some cool stuff that’s informative, entertaining and up-to-date. Check it out.

Sports-Boxing was Good Again (For a Night Anyways)

What’s up everybody? The Mayweather vs. De La Hoya fight was great. One of the best fights I’ve seen in a long, long time. Expect a rematch, no one really got hurt and it was pretty close throughout although I felt Mayweather should have won in a unanimous decision. Boxing needed some good PR. Unfortunately for boxing, I think the UFC will continue to steal boxing’s long lost thunder. Also, it looks like Clemens is a Yankee again. His announcement during the game against the M’s was all that was really worth watching on Sunday.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Friday, May 4, 2007

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tacoma Needs More Coffee

This past week I went to the Firehouse Coffee Company on 6th Ave. A pretty cool place and the coffee was good. It’s a wi-fi spot so you get online if you bring a laptop. Overall, the vibe was pretty cool. There’s plenty of space and it’s quite nice and comfy inside. I like all of the big windows and the d├ęcor (a nice change from Starbucks green). If you’re a people watcher, it’s a really good corner to drink coffee and hang out. The building itself is a nice, new addition to 6th Ave. But again, I was apprehended by the early closing time for a coffee shop (9pm). Not that I’m a night owl, I just don’t like having to leave when I’m not ready. Besides Bertolino’s on Union Ave., there is a severe lack of late night coffee shops in Tacoma. And because Bertolino’s is consistently full, it’s not always a great option, especially if you can’t get a table. So why am I going on about this? Because Tacoma needs a late night coffee shop in a really bad way. How can the late night artists, students and professionals all congregate if the only option is one small coffee shop that’s already packed? And besides, options and variety are good. It’s not that there aren’t coffee shops or drive-thrus in Tacoma. There are, they just close really early as compared to any other larger cities’ coffee shops. Heck, by the time I get home, a few of the coffee shops on Pacific Ave. are already closed (we’re talking 6pm folks). So if you want to open a coffee shop, please come to Tacoma and stay open past 9pm. Your shop will be packed, I know from experience.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

On the Web-World of Warcraft

I like video games. I grew up with most of the now famous video game consoles (dating all the way back to the Sears version of the Atari 2600). But, with work and everything else in life (including a spouse), I don't play as much as I used to previously. A couple of months ago I bought a game that I normally wouldn't have purchased. It was World of Warcraft. I've never been much of a fantasy type gamer. As a matter of fact, the sports games and strategy games were more to my liking (Madden, Civilization, Sim City, etc.). But World of Warcraft really is great. While online, you can communicate and go on quests with other online gamers. And, if you don't want to be bothered, you can go it alone as well. The game itself is in a huge world that takes quite a bit of time just to get acquainted with while on your journey. Exploring is a whole new issue as the world itself is large and takes some time to cover on foot. Although it's an adventure game, there is plenty of action and tasks to complete. The game is as fast or as slow as you want to make it. If you're looking for something to occupy your time or are looking for an entirely new diversion, this game could be it. The place is massive and there's plenty to do. If you've got some time and boredom to kill, check out World of Warcraft. Just be sure to keep a watch handy; you may snap out of it sometime next week if you're not careful.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The World is Ending! What’s Up with the Republicans?

Well, you know the world is ending when the President will veto a bill that puts any emphasis on a timetable to get his messy war cleaned up. How long will the present administration be in complete denial of the disaster that they’ve created? I get the fact that there were some really poor decisions made. I also get the idea that there were more poor decisions made regarding strategy and planning the war effort after we invaded and infiltrated Iraq. But c’mon, when will the Republicans get back to the reality that everyone else is living in now? We have one of the most disastrous wars in American history on our hands and there is no effort to reconvene and try to make things right. Instead, political banter and a complete refusal to go back to the drawing board is the continued method of operation by this current administration. Maybe we all don’t have to agree on everything about the war. But to act like this current war effort is all according to plan and to then act as if we are presently headed to a successful outcome is complete insanity or at the very least, foolish. To accept the existence of major obstacles or setbacks does not emphasize defeat among Republicans. What it does is show that the Republican Party can accept that things haven’t gone according to plan and that they are working towards a successful solution by re-evaluating the current situation or reality. Going back to the drawing board doesn’t signal defeat. Acting like nothing is wrong when the sky is falling shows something much, much worse.