Woodland Park Zoo

We visited the Woodland Park Zoo near downtown Seattle this afternoon. The temperature was in the 70’s, the sky was clear and the sun felt great on my face.

We visited a number of the exhibits. The kids loved watching the howler monkeys climb up high in the trees and make goofy but very loud noises. My favorite exhibit was the birds of prey area. Several times during the day the zoo brings out a person to show and talk about the different birds. Today he brought a Peregrine Falcon. What an awesome bird! That tiny red spot near the falcon’s mouth is a piece of meat the handler had just given her.

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Here’s what I learned about this magnificent bird:

  • It’s considered one of the best hunting birds if not the best.
  • It’s such a good hunter that eagles will follow it knowing it will catch prey.
  • It can kill and eat ducks.
  • It has an average wingspan of 45 inches.
  • It can reach speeds of 200 MPH while diving after prey

Watching today’s show made me want to return to learn about the other birds of prey. Well worth the visit, but call ahead to confirm exhibit times.

Bill Simmons on the Seattle Seahawks

I’m so excited for the football season I can hardly stand it. A good friend invited me to the season opener against the Bucs tomorrow and I’ve been thinking about it all week. Qwest Field is going to be rocking.  hawks

I’ve been listening to sports radio, watching ESPN and reading Sports Illustrated and it seems like people expect Seattle to be very good this year but they are no longer the trendy pick to reach the Super Bowl and that’s for the better. I like the moves the made in the off season and their skill players are still some of the best around.

Bill Simmons from ESPN gives his season picks and has this to say about the Seahawks which he rates #2.

I wrote it last week, I’ll write it again: Everyone is sleeping on these guys. They finished 9-7 during a season when nearly everything went wrong; now they’re healthy and happy; they dumped their clubhouse cancer guys; they added a pass rusher (Patrick Kerney) and an overqualified defensive assistant (Jim Mora Jr., who nearly made the Super Bowl 30 months ago); they’re playing in one of the easiest divisions (the NFC West); and they’ll probably be favored in every 2007 game except Pittsburgh in Week 5 and Philly in Week 12. And it’s not like they haven’t done it before. Throw in their homefield advantage and skill position guys and they seem like the safest bet in the NFC.

So why can you currently get 25-to-1 Super Bowl odds for them in Vegas? Because it’s no fun to pick the Seahawks. They’ve been there before, they play in a smaller market, they have a bald quarterback, their uniforms are boring, their best player is boring, their coach looks like he should be wearing a sheriff’s outfit and buying donuts, and if you say you’ve met more than three Seahawks fans in your entire life and you’re not from Seattle, you’re lying. Really, the only thing that stands out about them is their crowd. Switch their roster with Dallas’ roster and they’d be 7-to-1 odds right now. Since they’re in Seattle, nobody cares yet. But you will. Give it a couple of months.

Snoqualmie Falls Candy Factory & Cafe

We took our kids to Snoqualmie Falls to see the waterfall this afternoon. They enjoyed climbing the rocks and playing on the grassy area. Here is a picture I took of the falls.

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After the kids were tired of running around, we drove to the small downtown of Snoqualmie and had dinner and dessert. We ended up at the Snoqualmie Falls Candy Factory & Cafe. This place is your typical 50’s style cafe. It probably doesn’t look much different than it did 30 or 40 years ago. I like how they have menus scattered throughout the store. Some food items are listed on a board behind the counter, some are written on paper and taped to the soda machine and cash register. Several “specials” were taped to the back wall. There was fresh berry pie next to the cash register along with homemade caramels.

One thing I enjoy about small, family run businesses like this one is the attention each customer receives. This isn’t McDonald’s or Taco Bell that have countdown clocks where the rule of the game is to spend as little time with the customer as possible. No, at this cafe just the opposite is true. A simple ice cream order turns into a conversation about the town or the story behind the pie recipe. They don’t yell out a number when you’re order is ready. They don’t weigh your ice cream. They don’t wear uniforms or ask if you’d like to supersize. They talk to each customer like a friend would. It’s refreshing.

As we were about to leave the store I spotted the bins of taffy for which they are well-known. I grabbed a small bag and let the kids pick their favorite flavors.  Luca picked apple, Lincoln picked watermelon and Anna picked licorice. I took the bag of taffy up to the counter to be weighed. The gentlemen punched in some numbers into the register then looked at me and said, “I’m going to take a nickel off the price to compensate for the weight of that bag”.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anyone mention the word, nickel, but that’s the type of place this is. And if you ever pay them a visit, make sure you stock up on the peppermint taffy. It’s delicious!

Ignite Seattle

Here’s my mini review of Ignite Seattle that I attended tonight. I was so tired I only stayed for the first half of talks. I’ll have to catch the 2nd half when the videos are posted online.

Scotto Moore – “Make art not content” Scott was fantastic. His slides didn’t overwhelm and his preparation impeccable. But it was his delivery that really set him apart from the others. He moved through his slides at a very fast pace but every one was interesting. There was no filler. Probably the best of the night that I saw.

Deepak Singh – “Small medicine: Nanotechnology and biology” Maybe it’s because I was sitting near the back of the room, but I had a tough time understanding Scott. Others seemed to enjoy his talk a lot. He started right into his topic and I knew nothing about nanotechnology so I was lost right from the start. I’d like to see this one again.

Maegan Ashworth – “No, not skin: Epidemiology for the layman” I really enjoyed Maegan’s talk. The slides got a way from her a bit but her content was fascinating. I’d like to see her do this again and I hope that she’s chosen to present at Gnomedex. I won’t soon forget her slide showing the glass of alcohol and the damaged lung. The crowd loved her. Very fascinating talk.

Rob Gruhl – “How to buy a new car” I think this might go down as the most popular talk of the night. Rob was so prepared and so concise that his delivery was perfectly suited to the medium. He was funny yet provided very valuable information such as selling your car instead of trading at the dealer, secure your own financing and walking out of the deal the minute they jerk you around. This is the talk I will remember a month from now.

HB Siegel – “Werewolf Strategy” Have you been in the middle of a conversation when someone starts talking about World of Warcraft or other complex game you’ve never played and you have no idea what they are talking about? That’s how I felt listening to this talk. Siegel was well-prepared and had interesting slides. But I could not figure out the rules to this crazy game for the life of me. It sounded me to me that the goal of the game was to get 13 to 17 people around the table and yell at each other.

Dave McClure – “Startup metrics for Pirates: AARRR!” Although his slides were a mess at times Dave is one of the best public speakers I’ve seen. His delivery was fantastic. Much of his content was over my head but his explanations helped me understand what entrepreneurs should focus on. Does Dave do this for a living? He seemed like a pro.  

Shawn Murphy – “Hacking Chocolate” I had no idea what to expect from Shawn. The content seemed out of place when I heard the topic but turned out to be great for this event. He started out slow but really hit his stride after a minute into his talk. You could tell that Shawn really loves chocolate! I loved his list of spices and other foods that go well with chocolate such as cinnamon and exotic fruits. His slides were great and he had a good grasp of his content. Excellent.

Randy Stewart also covered the evening and has a good number of links

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