The Amazon Go store here in downtown Seattle opened today to the public (required for entry: an Amazon account and a phone with the Amazon Go app). I still have to go and check it out.
The main store concept is that there are no check-out lines. There are hundreds of cameras in the ceiling, sensors on the shelves, and bluetooth beacons in the store, to track and update what is taken as the shopper goes through the store. As far as I can tell there are no physical carts that one pushes through the store (I don’t see any in pictures from inside the store). The shopper brings a carry bag/ shoulder bag to put items directly into. So this is smaller volume and higher-end grocery shopping than at say, one’s traditional grocery store.
I went marching again today (here is 2017), joining friends in the Seattle’s Women’s March (protesting the Trump Administration).
We were not as plentiful as last year’s 100,000+ marchers; the crowd size estimated to have been around 40,000. It was cold and rainy, and the weather might have been a factor. Some 300,000 people packed the streets in Chicago, and 120,000 in New York City. And in Austin and Dallas, Texas, the crowds were larger than last year.
It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day here in the northwest corner of the United States (56 °F/ 13 °C). I made my way down to Pike Place Market and the waterfront and bought a book at a second-hand book store there. Where are you from? inquired the owner. ‘Oh – South Africa’ I said, simply. My camera bag completed my appearance as an international tourist.
P.S. It’s a white Christmas in Seattle, with an inch or two of snow falling overnight in the city. White Christmases are rare in Seattle, but in 2008 four inches of snow blanketed the city on Christmas Day.
Deadlines have to be met, and time costs money – so construction on the new downtown Seattle buildings soldiers on, regardless of the season. The crews do take a break on Sundays, and then I can go check on their progress. Here are two buildings near Westlake Avenue and Denny Way.
I replaced just about all the light bulbs inside my house with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs this year. It’s amazing: a tungsten-filament bulb that used to run at 60 Watt, can now be replaced with one that run only at 9 W! This is much better still, than the 13 W for compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. General Electric is now stopping production of domestic CFL lamps in favor of LEDs.
So for Christmas lights, many home-owners can now install strings of LED lights as well. Yes, these cost more to purchase, but a lot less to operate. (Every year we see reports of home-owners that set up displays with 100,000 bulbs or more, and that ‘borrow’ electricity from their neighbors to power it all up). LEDs also last longer than traditional incandescent glass lights, and are a safer light source since the bulbs do not get as hot, and are made of epoxy, not glass.
Black Friday has some and come, and Small Business Saturday – but I still have not done any shopping. I guess I will venture out to downtown Seattle soon to go check on the merchandise (it’s still nice to go out to the store and look at stuff) .. and I will pull the trigger on a few books, and other items, that I let lie in my Amazon cart for several days now.
Bloomberg Businessweek says the single biggest mistake a department store such as Macy’s had made, was to buy up all the other failing department stores over the years. Macy’s have now had sales declines for the last 11 quarters. Management knows they have to train sales staff better, and improve in other ways the in-store experience for the 41 million shoppers that still come into their stores every year.
There’s a friendly ‘Christmas dragon’ on a parking lot close by my house, where they sell Christmas trees every year. The trees are said to be up to 10% more expensive this year. The reason: in the 2007-2008 recession fewer trees were planted, and those are the ones now being harvested.
Microsoft’s Connector bus service started in 2007, and shuttles its employees from the Seattle side to Redmond and Bellevue. The King County public bus Route 545 does run an express service out there as well, and some say that Microsoft is taking commuters out of the public transportation system. In 2014 a small group of protesters blocked Connector buses in Capitol Hill, blaming them for ‘enabling’ local Microsoft employees to drive up property prices. (It’s complicated. There is also Amazon’s impact – and Seattle City Council policies lacking incentives for encouraging affordable housing construction. And a new tax on international buyers in Vancouver in 2016 just made Seattle more popular for these buyers as well).
Microsoft did support the ‘Yes’ initiative for ST3, the expansion of light rail service over to the East side. So in a few years, commuters to the East side will have even more options. I think it’s all good. The more buses and trains and street cars, the better.
I managed to walk down 1st Avenue from Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square today, before the rain caught up with me and I had to call it quits. I took a few pictures of the Pioneer Building. For awhile, it was the tallest building in Seattle and Washington state – from 1892 to 1904. In December 2015, the building was purchased by workspace provider Level Office. They renovated the building’s interior to create private offices and co-working space for small businesses.
It’s the end of Daylight Saving Time in the USA. At 2 am we’re all* setting our clocks here in the USA back by one hour. Yay! An extra hour for the party animals that hang out in the bars until 2 am – and an extra hour of snooze time for me on Sunday morning.
*Not Hawaii, Arizona— nor the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands. They do not observe DST.
I took advantage of the nice fall weather here (sunny, 60°F/ 15°C) before the next rain storm sweeps in, and went down to Seattle Art Museum (SAM) in downtown. I just checked out the artsy offerings in the museum store, and took a few pictures on the streets nearby.
I went down to South Lake Union today to check out the construction on the old Seattle Times Building’s site.
The original Seattle Times Building was completed in 1931 with offices and newspaper printing presses and all. Operations stopped there in 2011, and were moved to Bothell (some 20 miles from of Seattle). The real estate and buildings were sold in 2013 to a company from Vancouver. The developer has to preserve the exterior facade and roof of the Seattle Times Building, since these were designated a Seattle city landmark in 1996. It’s a little weird that only the exterior walls and roof of a building can be designated a landmark! .. but at least some semblance of the old building remains. The developer has already demolished all of the inside, and while the rooftop is not built on, it is getting a make-over with landscaping and seating.