46 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Gigapixel Seattle”

  1. Amtrak has temporarily modified the schedule of the Empire Builder to leave Seattle 3 hours earlier (at 140pm) and arrive in Spokane at 945pm. Those are much friendlier times for Seattle to Spokane passengers. The westbound trip, however, will leave Spokane at 0345am and arrive in Seattle at 1155am–not much better than the current schedule. The main reason for the schedule change is congestion and track construction around the North Dakota oil fields.

      1. Do the Empire Builder trips take RailPlus? If so, we now effectively have a North Sounder trip in the middle of the day (at least for anyone not getting off at Mukilteo).

    1. The new schedule is much better for anyone headed between Seattle and Leavenworth or Wenatchee. But 8 hours to go between Seattle and Spokane! The Amtrak bus I was on, once, to replace a canceled train run, did it in 4 1/2, leaving Seattle right in the middle of afternoon rush hour.

      1. I agree that 8hrs is far too long to travel between Seattle and Spokane. Could a Bolt route exist, sometime in the future, between Seattle and Spokane?

      2. Did the Amtrak bus to Spokane stop in Edmonds and Everett, and then take US 2 through Leavenworth, Wenatchee and Ephrata to Spokane? In fairness, I don’t think you can compare a 19th century routing (and has the railroad made any major realignments in the past 40 years?) to 21st century highway technology. Besides, the Empire Builder’s primary destination is far beyond Spokane. I’ve never ridden Bolt Bus. Is there enough of a market for an I-90 Seattle-Spokane route?

      3. The bus to replace the canceled train was nonstop down I-90. I’m assuming that those headed to Leavenworth or Wenatchee got a separate bus that took highway 2.

        As to whether a market exists for Bolt-style service, I think the 16 flights a day offered by Alaska Airlines speaks for itself – they wouldn’t offer so many trips if the demand weren’t there. By eliminating the TSA lines, etc., a bus trip wouldn’t be that much longer, but I’m sure Bolt could sell tickets for way less than the $200’ish Alaska charges for a round trip and make plenty of profit.

      4. Is any of the Alaska Airlines traffic subsidized? The Portlad – Astoria flights being offered for a while sometimes only one passenger, but were supported by a mixture of state funds and federal Essential Air Services grants.

        The problem with BoltBus is that there seats are horribly uncomfortable for anything over about 2 hours. The seats don’t recline, and they are so close together that its close to airline seat density. There are power outlets, but no work tables so its really only useful for handheld ectronics.

        I have nothing against BoltBus, and have taken them a few times when no other cost effective choice existed. However, I notice that most of my fellow passengers were in the 25 and under crowd. I think the on board arrangements would have to change a bit to satisfy the comforts of a more diverse ridership to meet Spokane – Seattle.

        Something like a leito style bus as found in South America could probably work well. Among other things, the seats recline to about 45 degrees, making them. passably comfortable for sleep.

    2. A fun Inland Washington Vacation might be to take the Empire Builder from Seattle to Spokane, then backtrack on the Portland route, then travel back north on the Cascades. Getting off with a bicycle or renting a car at major attractions like Wenatchee, Pasco, Bonneville.

      Would the cost of getting off an on be as much as doing the end to end route?

      1. It would cost more, but you could get a railpass. I think those are 8 trip segments.

      2. Follow the Rick Steves method for Euro-Rail passes.

        Since you have to book specific dates/times for the USA Railpass, first flesh out the trip in individual segments and find out the prices.

        Then see if the same group of trips is cheaper with the pass.

        The rail pass only covers trips where seats are in the ‘Value’ price range.
        If one of the segments has only the highest fare seats available, you have to cough up the difference.

      3. Ok, not too far off if I use the Multi-stop method. $137 for four stops, Seattle-Leavenworth-Spokane-Bingham/White Salmon-Seattle

        Sunday, April 13, 2014
        8 Empire Builder (SEA – LWA)

        Depart: 4:40 pm, Sun, Apr 13, 2014
        Arrive: 8:00 pm, Sun, Apr 13, 2014
        Duration: 3 hr, 20 min
        1 Adult

        1 Reserved Coach Seat

        Subtotal $23.00

        Tuesday, April 15, 2014
        1008 (LWA – SPK)

        Depart: 5:00 pm, Tue, Apr 15, 2014
        Arrive: 9:45 pm, Tue, Apr 15, 2014
        Duration: 4 hr, 45 min
        1 Adult

        1 Reserved Coach Seat

        Subtotal $34.00

        Friday, April 18, 2014
        27 Empire Builder (SPK – BNG)

        Depart: 4:15 am, Fri, Apr 18, 2014
        Arrive: 9:34 am, Fri, Apr 18, 2014
        Duration: 5 hr, 19 min
        1 Adult

        1 Reserved Coach Seat

        Subtotal $43.00

        Sunday, April 20, 2014
        27 Empire Builder (BNG – PDX)

        Depart: 9:34 am, Sun, Apr 20, 2014
        Arrive: 11:40 am, Sun, Apr 20, 2014
        Duration: 2 hr, 6 min
        508 Amtrak Cascades (PDX – SEA)

        Depart: 6:50 pm, Sun, Apr 20, 2014
        Arrive: 10:30 pm, Sun, Apr 20, 2014
        Duration: 3 hr, 40 min
        1 Adult

        1 Reserved Coach Seat

        Subtotal $37.00
        Terms & Conditions Total $137.00

  2. I don’t think it’s a good habit for a country’s people to use the word “scared” as much as we do nowadays. So I’ll just state the fact that I don’t know which makes my skin crawl worse: this technology or the people cheerfully advertising it.

    Probably the second. Either these people have no imagination, read no history, or already have a contract with the National Security Agency locked up. Or maybe worst of all, and most likely, think it’s just great for the commercial world to be able to follow every one of us in person as they now do with our e-mail.

    In addition to Microsoft, which itself is enough to make a large number of people walk around 24-7 with bags over our heads. Without eye holes- retinal scans, you know.

    Right, left, or center- ideology really doesn’t matter. The biggest favor the present Administration in DC has done us is to alert us to the fact that people with power will always get used to its possession, and find excuses to expand it with every camera- or computer click. That’s why even the Founding Fathers who owned slaves insisted on powerful checks and balances even on governments they personally liked.

    Everybody who is just fine with the depicted capabilities in the hands of Barack Obama, imagine Ted Cruz behind both the Presidential Shield and the shutter- all right, it doesn’t need one, but I’m still stuck in nostalgia for “1984”, which was written 66 years ago predicting something 30 years ago. Or if Ted’s ok with you….Hillary Clinton?

    Counter-argument that ordinary people are constantly using both cameras and the Internet to evade and embarrass authority are valid and reasonable. But even on sale at Fry’s Electronics down in Renton- any STB reader going to give it for Christmas? We’re not talking Smart Phones here.

    I wonder if the happy performers cavorting in the sunshine have thought about these cameras and computers in the hands and in front of the eyes of people who don’t like conceptual art at all- as most totalitarians don’t. Both Hitler and Stalin would have shot anybody who wouldn’t buy Thomas P. Kincaid. Or who didn’t think leotards are pornographic. Maybe a certain local glass artist would just sulk, but wouldn’t want to tempt him.

    Best end of that footage would be like the Almost Live sketch where after a local TV station driven mad by lack of anything at all in Seattle to cover sent a camera crew up to the station roof to just stand there waiting for something to happen. What happened is that one reporter pushed the other one off the roof.

    Wouldn’t that have made a great finale for this Gigapixel? Resistance is futile so willl sign this:

    Mark Dublin

    Wouldn’t that

    1. Do you realize that any photograph in this composition could have been taken 50 years ago with a telephoto lens on a film camera from the same condominium where these photos were taken digitally? The “invasion of privacy” aspect isn’t new here at all. It’s a terrestrial camera taking photos of publicly visible scenes. No retinal scans required. The technology being celebrated here isn’t a new way to take photos (e.g., cameras mounted on self-driving cars that go through neighborhoods or digitally enhanced super-zoom cameras mounted on satellites orbiting earth.) The technology being celebrated here is the ability to stich these individual scenes together seamlessly.

      Even though I work for Microsoft I sympathize with the idea that we, as a society, have become too dependent on computers and that we devalue our privacy in ways we don’t fully comprehend. But stitching digital photos together isn’t one of those things that makes me grab my tinfoil hat. These are not the droids you are looking for, Mr. Dublin.

      Three last points, one to make it a little bit transit related:
      1. Cool link, Martin! Thank you, I hadn’t realized Microsoft had done this project.
      2. Monorail! Monorail! Monorail!
      3. Almost Live was never funny. Its only purpose was to let you sober up after SNL before you stumbled home.

      1. “self-driving cars”, not “self-driving cards”. Sigh, we need an “edit” function on this blog. Then I can edit it to “self-driving birds” to reflect the imminent Drone Invasion.

      2. Just as I feared, AP: condition of employment at Microsoft is to not think “The Ballard Driving Academy” is funny. Okay:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBgIvH0tu6Y ! Copy has been sent to Bill too with your initials on the e-mail, and artfully doctored Gigapixel footage of you texting it. You’re fired and he’s on the floor howling.

        What’s not funny at all is that no one picture is enough evidence to convict. Or arrest on suspicion. Or, much easier with digital than old-fashioned film, fake. Surveillance with punishment in mind is mostly about combination of context and prosecutorial motivation. Which making this much easier makes just as many times more likely. And deadly.

        The Gestapo kept a huge number of its Jew-identification files in shoe boxes-really all that’s needed for country and a continent so full of hatred that fear is unnecessary to gain villages and neighborhoods full of informers. Is it any more comforting that Gigapixel is now available to their contemporary successors, who are by all accounts doing very well in Europe right now?

        Also seriously, what’s my recourse if I choose to spend a lot of time outdoors in public and extremely recognizable and not have permanent evidence of my whereabouts, date and time to the microsecond, available with a keystroke to a secret policeman twenty years from now? Or a sheriff’s deputy, you name the county.

        Fact that nobody asked me for permission to tear up that right makes it imperative to take all measures necessary to get it back. Tempted to mention that slingshots and ball bearings are both available and legal without a permit- but hacking works much better, and renders more expensive damage to the forces behind the camera.

        Don’t want to harp on Germany. But what people who don’t read history need to know is that the reason more Jews didn’t escape was that through most of their history the German people were the most advanced and civilized population in Europe. Until the Crash of 1929, coupled with WWI just before it, both unforeseen, took politics away from the civilized ones.

        Good thing our economy is Depression-proof, and we never get lied into wars. And necessary correctives like Almost Live are never removed by lame management that generally makes secret police redundant.

        Mark Dublin

    2. Mark texted last line immediately after jumping off the top of the Capitol dome as last pathetic effort to atone for continued bad editing. Fitting epitaph though: his last words were “Wouldn’t that….”

      Signed: Passing pigeon on a suicide mission to splatter a Gigapixel lens. Best memory possible for:


  3. I’m reading the new biography about the Beatles, Tune In. (Volume 1 of “The Beatles: All These Years” by Mark Lewisohn.) 800+ pages long and only takes us up to 1962. Being a big Beatles fan in my youth, there’s not a lot new that I’ve learned, but I guess I didn’t realize until now how important public transportation was for the Beatles. Cars in working class households were pretty rare. As young teens, they went all over Liverpool via bus. George & Paul once heard of a guy way out in the suburbs who knew how to play a B7 chord, so they got out their transit map. It was 3 bus rides out there and then 3 buses back, but off they went and learned B7. Ringo used only a snare drum usually, and played it standing up because that was all he could haul on the bus. Eventually, after lugging his who drum kit around, he bought a car.

    Anyway, if someone is looking for a new angle on the Beatles, or for new evidence that public transportation helps the economy, I recommend this book.

    1. Good observation, Emily. But since I date long enough before 1962, born about 10 years before the death of the Chicago and North Shore “Electroliner” and therefore old enough to grieve for it lifelong, we can thank public transit for something else:

      The explosive spread of public transit almost completely by private automobile. With the troops coming home from WWII to a country rejoicing at the end of the (previous) Great Depression, where the average person finally had a snowball’s chance of of owning a car, literally nobody could imagine a world with so many cars nobody could move.

      Reason for above being that like with the great forests and the game and the trout, people also thought that there were so many streetcars, subways, buses and trains (local, continental, and interurban like the Electroliner) that these things would just be around forever.

      Continuing to carry enough passengers to keep car travel within reason, meaning moving, instead of parked with their engines running on a long, linear lot with green signs and a red, white, and blue shield at every interchange.


      Read it and don’t weep, but get ready to fight. For too long, Sound Transit’s light rail system has not only worn the wrong colors and failed to have a bistro section with white tablecloths and real coffee…come on, LINK? Like a sausage? All former Chicagoans should petition for at least “The CENTRAL PUGET SOUND FLASH”. With Jake and Elliot Blues on screens in every car.

      Maybe we would then be able to comfortably accommodate the giant shopping malls like they have in Gothenburg,Sweden, where you could lose Southcenter in a single building and not find it in a month. With regional bus stations in parking lots full of cars, and a streetcar stop in the basement.

      Strange: the older I get, the more I like the Beatles. Now thanks to you, I know why.

      Mark Dublin

    2. That book is great. And the transit angle on this period of the Beatles’ life will contrast greatly with the next part, where they can’t go out in public at all without being mobbed.

    3. Every once in a while I still see bands packing equipment onto a bus. Usually, it is TriMet’s #14 as that is the route I sometimes take that has a few such useful venues along it.

  4. It must take hours or even days to pan the entire city. Looks like they are going up and down and then rotating so the same bus could show up on every block; not to mention the lighting shadows changing constantly.

    1. Great. Do they make a night vision lens worth a damn?
      I want to look for intelligent life on distant planets using moving target software to determine how this Rail – Brt – Rex – Vanpool – Carpool – Sov – Bike – Walk thing was settled.
      Obviously we are not the smartest society in the neighborhood.

  5. Eery and sad. A helicopter is either landing or taking off from Fisher Plaza. Looks like the same pilot.

  6. AP and everybody else: I won’t back away from anything else I said, or will say, about an unquestioning celebration of a technology I really think is dangerous.

    But my mention of actual violence was completely out of line. Any projectile-throwing hand-weapon has strong potential to injure innocent and harmless people, even in the hands of a trained and experienced user.

    Someone pointed out on the radio about a month ago that the point of the story of David’s fight with Goliath was that David went in with a decisive advantage. David’s weapon had the “stopping” -meaning killing, power of a .45 caliber automatic.

    In addition, one of my own persistent public activities is taking pictures, openly and visibly using a very visible small camera. While I try to be respectful of privacy rights, around transit there are always a lot of people, in a variety of moods.

    I could get a taste of my own medicine any day. Also, chiefly using SolidWorks because of inability to comprehend a schematic, let alone a whole map or wiring diagram, or…(horror) programming well enough to hack a piece of firewood.

    Cross the wrong person, like one who really appreciates the artistic, educational, and emergency safety uses for Gigapixel, and has worked very hard on this presentation, and with a mouse-click my beloved Dell will become a puddle of smoking black glue.

    Best confine combat to words- which can really, if well used, aggravate, but never dreadfully injure anyone. But again, require constant practice and lifelong reading and effort.

    Mark Dublin

  7. Okay. This week’s question is in regards to headsigns:

    Should Metro put in more sign codes to remove redundant “via” tags?

    For example, why should the 120’s signs continue to say “via Westwood Village” when the bus is already past Westwood Village?

    1. Ideally, yes. But I seem to recall someone here saying Metro’s current system has a limited number of sign codes, and there’re many higher priorities for funding than replacing that system.

    2. My personal peeve is the 235 that pulls into S.Kirkland P&R displaying alternately, Kirkland – Bellevue T.C. How the hell is anyone supposed to know which direction it’s going?

      1. The real problem is a crappy P&R ride design where buses traveling opposite directions share the same stop (and get stuck behind each other). Common sense says when they did their construction work, they should have taken the opportunity to move the bus stops to the street.

      2. I think the northbound 235 would display… whichever farther north destination it goes to (Totem Lake? Kenmore?). But South Kirkland P&R really is confusing — even with less ambiguous headsigns people still get on the 255 going the wrong way fairly often.

      3. To asdf and Al, yes and yes. Metro had the chance to reconfigure this P&R so that it not only made sense for the riders but would significantly reduce the loop de loop time for buses; and almost entirely with free money from the feds. But NO; they made it worse. Rewarding stupidity with a tax increase… I don’t think so.

    3. After they introduced the automatic announcements, aren’t the signs changed automatically now though? For example, the 255 displays “Brickyard P&R” or “Seattle” + “via Kirkland”. After passing through Kirkland TC the “via” message is no longer displayed.

      1. Maybe on some newer buses. I routinely get on a 235 southbound at Totem Lake that says it’s going to Kingsgate. That’s OK until they get to S. Kirkland where you then have some irate customers who don’t board only to find out the next bus (correctly) says Kingsgate. I always alert the driver who then has to manually reset the signage at a stoplight.

      2. Bernie, most all-day routes on the Eastside are based out of Bellevue Base, which has a fleet of Gillig Phantoms — now Metro’s oldest equipment. The signage situation will get better when that equipment is replaced. The 35′ buses that will replace the 30′ Phantoms are arriving soon. A few 40′ buses will follow, with more to come if Prop 1 passes.

    4. Well many routes have solved the problem indicated here. Route 150 for instance removes southcenter when it leaves that stop. But I know there are others that don’t. The one that irks me is NB st 594 that says “seattle Tacoma”.

  8. Since my wife works at night and sleeps during the day our blinds were closed. Nice picture of our Co-Op apartment on Republican (and Melrose).

  9. For those people who are worried about this visual technology, just remember that this is not the only use for it. Just like in the 60’s when technology was being developed for NASA that eventually wound down to commercial uses, this kind of technology will be able to be used for all sorts of future-unknown purposes. Maybe more powerful telescopes and microscopes? Better surveying equipment for future construction projects?

    1. You’re right about the possible positive uses for Gigapixel technology, Cinesea. But unfortunately even the most advanced technology- especially the advanced kind- doesn’t get to pick its own use.

      On the simpler end of the spectrum, a large flat knife, called, depending on the owner, in Africa a machete or a panga, or in the West Indies a cutlass, is absolutely necessary for the average farmer to earn a living. It can also be used very effectively for genocide.

      In more advanced industrial countries, electricity can be used in operating rooms or torture chambers. In this country, what’s on the other end of the switch depends entirely on us the people let our representatives know what want out of that voltage, what we won’t stand for, and what we’ll remove an elected politician for doing with our electricity- or our work tools.

      Including a President who opposed torture throughout his campaign, and in office jailed more people for reporting torture through the wrong channels than for committing it. Our founders rightly made impeachment very hard to do even when your party controls Congress, let alone when it doesn’t. Too bad. It would only take one on this count to send a valuable message to successors.

      My own worst fear for the liberty and safety of our own country is less about foreign terror, or torture on any side, than about an infrastructure whose maintenance has been so long deferred that all a terror group has to do is claim credit for its collapse- without needing a single bomb or box cutter.

      Bringing on another round of repression and massive diversion, in the name of security, of resources needed to prevent the disaster in the first place.

      It’s also about the number of extremely able and intelligent young people I speak with who find politics too repulsive to touch. And also people old enough to know better, especially those whose paycheck comes from government service, specifically public who despise the institution and vocally say so at every opportunity.

      My point about technology holds quintuple for government itself- which in our country is really supposed to be the people’s own instrument for work beyond their individual capabilities, particularly work that private industry won’t touch without a government check that includes large returns for stockholders and huge salaries for executives.

      What happens behind the Gigapixel lens is largely responsible for whether an honest focus would reveal beauty or horror.

      Mark Dublin

  10. I remember reading of the Gigapixel project about 10-15 years ago. At that time, the efforts were aimed at the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, if I remember right, as there was concern over how fast those places were changing due to the sheer number of visitors. As digital technology hadn’t advanced enough by then, they were using very large format film cameras to do the work.

    1. Complete free market capitalism at its best!

      The reason that community was created was that piece of land was in a spot where no governing authority wanted to claim jurisdiction, and thus people could do whatever they wanted.

      Thus, the creation of a completely unzoned and unregulated housing market.

      Eventually it became a bit of a diplomatic crisis between the UK and China, and eventually authorities from both found the situation intolerable.

      Yet, there were some that lived there that liked living without any authority from either side.

      Demolition was completed in 1992.

  11. CRC not dead? It’s worth reading the comments on the story for a lengthy comment by Rep. Pike that lays out her thoughts in greater detail. Her proposal would include fixing the rail bridge, but MAX across any rebuilt I-5 is a non-starter for her.

    More commentary at Portland Transport.

  12. just received the following email from sound transit, to complete a survey regarding the potential use of pictograms within their system. seems like a good follow-on to some of the comments above regarding signage.

    the link to take the survey:

    the text of the email received:
    “Sound Transit is developing pictograms for future Link light rail stations. A pictogram is an icon that conveys meaning through its pictorial resemblance of a physical object. Pictograms are used on Sound Transit’s Link light rail station signage and way-finding materials. Paired with station names, they help identify stations and the surrounding neighborhood. Pictograms serve as station identification symbols for non-English customers, primarily those that use a non-Roman based alphabet.

    Sound Transit would like to begin the process by getting input from you. Please take a moment to share your ideas by completing this questionnaire. “

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