The Northwest

My family and I have been living in the Seattle area for about seven months now. So far, so good. Here are a few differences (good and bad) I’ve noticed between Washington and Virginia.

Weather: obvious difference, the rumors that Seattle is rainy are true, making it seem like a dreary place to live; however, the mild temperature (not too cold in the winter, not too hot in the summer; low humidity) offsets the high rainfall tremendously compared to the four climatic extremes Virginia takes each year. We’ve had one day of snow, back in November, and it melted within hours. It rarely gets below freezing.

Traffic: while not the 495 beltway, Seattle’s I-405 suffers from topographic restrictions to its expansion. During rush hour, traffic in and out of the city stays at a steady crawl. As a plus, Drivers here tend to be more courteous than in NoVa; as a minus Seattle lacks a public transit system, so no Metro equivalent.

Less law enforcement presence: Normally, I’d chalk this up as a positive. It’s nice to see that my tax dollars aren’t being poured into a self perpetuating police revenue activity, such as having patrolmen constantly sit at speed traps every quarter mile of highway. The downside to the more liberal law enforcement is that car thefts appear to be more common here (that, and the fact that thieves can just drive a stolen car up to Canada and dump it there).

No state income tax: hear hear.

Politics: Seattle is an interesting change of pace. It’s traditionally home to far left organizations like the more or less defunct Wobblies (IWW). WA state has its share of Conservatives and Libertarians also — but they’re more prevelant in central WA and out in Spokane. It’s barely a “blue state” with the Democrats, partially because the Greens are active here, taking away some of the Dems’ electoral base. I’d always viewed NoVa as a wealthy enclave surrounded by rural areas — so, it’s more or less polarized conservative there, no matter how you look at it (fiscal conservatives in Fairfax and Loudoun counties — NRA and religious conservatives out in the hills).

Communications (West Coast in general, not Seattle): I didn’t expect to run into this, but business communications in particular are much more concise here. I think this has to do with a faster pace — you basically get a few minutes to make your point before your listener gets distracted and that’s it. Emails look more like chat sessions — I think because more people use mobile devices for email. This is funny: the mutual thank you’s you get at the end of transactions and conversations back East don’t happen here. Example: buy a pack of smokes at the store, say “thanks,” get “okay, sure” in response.

Work/life balance: A nice thing about this area, and the West in general is that people are a little less preoccupied with their careers and have more hobbies. I think Zinger’d fit right in here with his fish tanks and other projects (except maybe the gun range thing, they have them here, but they’re harder to find). In Virginia “what do you do” seems like a common introductory question; here, it’s seen to be in bad form.

What’s with these people and their dogs? At least in my area, there are lots of dog owners and kennels for pets. It seems that it’s very socially acceptable to have your unleashed dog run around, but don’t try to light up a cigarette in public, since that’s a health hazard.

That’s it for this installment of the Northwest report.

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3 Responses to The Northwest

  1. zinger says:

    He lives! It’s good to see you’re still around and kicking EB. Thanks for the review and contrast on SEA vs IAD. I’ve never been to Seattle, but it’s on my list of places that I want to see.

  2. zinger says:

    Oh yea, speaking of Washington State – interesting story about top ten agricultural products there.

  3. Evil_bastard says:

    Indeed, Oregon’s infamous for that as well.

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