Sam as he ever was...

Author: Sam Hamm (Page 1 of 2)

I am a tech educator and software developer based in Seattle. I also spent eight years as a music professor.

Vagueposting: The past few weeks

Lots going on in my world, but I am not too inclined to get into details in this venue at the moment. I’ll leave a few breadcrumbs nonetheless. Starting in the last week-ish of May there has been:

  • A weekend trip to the coast
  • A family medical emergency (was quite scary initially but turned out OK)
  • New furry family members (one who will be permanent and two who are temporary)
  • An unfortunate outcome on a job application that I thought I had nailed
  • A friend in town I haven’t seen for a long long time; visiting with him was a load of fun
  • A “thinking about it” becoming “getting a plan underway” toward moving somewhere that we can have more space and more quiet

See? It’s been busy.

And here we go

Vague-posting a bit here, but I want to mark the day without getting into details at the moment.

When I moved to Seattle in 2014, my musical life and personality was figuratively stored away in a little box. It was a necessary compartmentalization to facilitate some major life and career changes.

I knew I had to completely let go of the past to live in the present and prepare a new future. So I just put it away. I tried taking it back out on a few occasions, but it was never the right time, and didn’t feel right. It made me sad for what I missed from the past.

In recent months there has been a scratching noise coming from that box, like something trying to escape. It’s been getting more intense.

I had a conversation with a friend this morning that led to me creating some blank staff paper this afternoon.

This conversation was not a singular or first manifestation of this re-emergence of my musical side. I had a conversation with a different friend a few days ago about her own similar path in this regard, and how that has been going for her. I have also started playing in a local brass band.

Hell, even getting this site redone, and this blog space fired up, is part of that entire mental shift of getting back to being a creator again.

Things are happening. I think the use for that box is coming to a close.

Mavis attacked at the dog park

Well, this was scary. She’s OK, but there will be an urgent care vet visit this afternoon to verify that.

I was at the dog park with Mavis and Janet, and a grand old time was being had by all:

Less than 10 minutes later, while I was posting that photo to social media, a very large black dog, who we’d seen already and had no trouble with, attacked Mavis. It happened instantly: the commotion, Mavis screaming, Mavis on the ground with a dog 4x-5x bigger than her on top of her, only about 10 feet away from me.

I yelled and ran to intervene. The owner of the other dog was 30-50 feet away, and by the she got near, I had already broken up the scuffle and taken Mavis away. She never did say anything to me or apologize or anything like that, which is really shitty. She just wandered off while I was checking to see if Mavis was injured.

I got this photo then, while sitting on a bench. Mavis was panting and trembling, and her neck and shoulders had a lot of saliva on them. But thankfully, no evidence of bleeding or abrasions, though clearly Mavis had to have been chomped to be so damp.

This was about 11:25am; our usual vet was unable to get her in today or tomorrow, so we’re going to an urgent care vet appointment for a check-up at 4:45pm. I expect Mavis will end up with some swelling and bruising and probably need some pain meds.

I hope she’ll eventually be able to return to the dog park and have fun again. She was very nervous and stayed very close to me as we walked back to the car. Usually she runs with Janet on fetches, but not after the attack.

Mavis is a gentle soul with a long memory. When she gets skeered it sticks with her. She still does not like walking past a house in our neighborhood where a gust of wind once made an inflatable Santa move unexpectedly, and that was 18 months ago. When walking by there we have to go to the other side of the street.

Seeing that happen to your sweet little doggy girl is upsetting. I remain discombobulated by it.

Shooting in our neighborhood last night

This all happened within a block-ish or so of our house. We were just returning from an outing when it happened, so, fortunately, we missed hearing the gunshots and got home before the police swarmed in and traffic got messy.

The shooting was in a playground with kids in it at the time. Some reports suggest an argument or fight, others suggest a drug deal gone bad. Knowing nothing factual but my own experience living here, I think the former is more plausible, and the second is a dog-whistle.

This was the first warm and nice Saturday night of the lead-up to summer, so this does not bode well for the months ahead. The area where we live has become louder and more unhinged on weekends in recent years.

Used to be: Teenagers drinking and partying around bonfires while lo-riders cruise the beach strip. I have zero problem with that.

Becoming: Guys in luxury vehicles shooting each other and all-night motorcycle racing. It’s becoming concerning.

Seattle PD has a Twitter feed of incidents, and there were nearly two dozen other calls to the neighborhood (say, 6-7 block radius) that were not related to this shooting. It was a wild night.

My friend Jason’s album release!

Album cover for "Start It!" by Jason Mingledorff
Bandcamp link here!

I’ve had the good fortune of knowing and playing with a lot of outstanding musicians over the years, and one of them, my friend Jason Mingledorff from undergrad years at Alabama who is now based in New Orleans, released his first solo album today.

He’s had a career of being in bands (such as Grammy-winning New Orleans Nightcrawlers, plus Dr. John’s band, Papa Grows Funk, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Galactic, and many others), but not leading a band of his own. That has changed in a big way!

The album kicks. It slaps. It is 🔥. It’s jazz with an aroma of funky NOLA stank, and is both cerebral and visceral. Jason is a monster sax player, the tunes are excellent, and the whole thing sounds like a million bucks. Congrats to him!

Maybe I’ll write up a review of this album at some point. There’s some really interesting things in there.


I woke up this morning (no alarm; I almost never use one), stretched and opened my eyes. “What is it, like 7:20?” I thought.

It was. It was exactly 7:20.

This happens to me a lot, where I wake up, mentally guess the time, and hit it right on the nose. This is the third time in the past few days that has happened.

As a musician, has my sense of time become that expansive?

Obviously, light (or lack of it) in the room can be a clue to a general time, but that marker moves, too, especially here in the Pacific Northwest where we are entering that part of year with amazing long twilights in the evenings.

The only explanation: I am an android whose internal chronometer occasionally leaks into my conscious thought. Guess I need a new gasket or something.

Constraints inspire creativity

My tweet that was a response to this tweet about the origin of Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat”

I am a big believer in using constraints to inspire creativity. I once had a composition teacher tell me “To be more creative, define problems for yourself, and then solve them.”

In other words, use the truth of “necessity is the mother of invention” in a deliberate way.

Post-Covid concert updates

With Covid waning, it is time to get back to hearing live music!

In the past year, I have attended shows by Bauhaus and Joe Jackson.

Upcoming, I’ll be seeing They Might Be Giants in a couple of weeks, and Tears For Fears in a few months. I am very excited about both of those.

Flashlight and scissors

One of the best things I’ve done for myself: I bought a small flashlight and a pair of scissors to keep in a standardized place in every room. I never need to bother looking for them, and I use them often.

In addition, they’re labeled, so that if by chance they do migrate to another room, we know where to return them.

Los Angeles Angels vs. Seattle Mariners

Game recap from

I went to this Wednesday afternoon game at T-Mobile Park in Seattle to get my first Mariners game in for the season, and to take in the massive star power:

  • The amazing generational talent Shohei Ohtani pitching for the Angels
  • Future Hall-of-Famer Mike Trout, who I had not seen play before
  • Julio Rodríguez (2022 Rookie of the Year) of the Mariners early in his second season

It was a great time all around, even though the Mariners lost 4-3. Weather was good, just a little chilly but not bad. I sat in one of my favorite parts of the park: Section 328, in the upper level but low in the section in Row 4, which offers a great overall view of the field plus the southern end of downtown.

View of a baseball stadium
View from my seat with Shohei Ohtani at bat

One thing I love about where I live is that I can go to games without needing to take the car out of the garage, so no screwing around with traffic or parking! I can walk (35minutes) or get a free Metro shuttle (5-10 minutes) to the dock for the King County Water Taxi ($5.75), and then have a lovely scenic ride across Elliott Bay to downtown. From there it is maybe a 15-minute walk to the stadium.

This was the view back toward West Seattle:

View of West Seattle from the King County Water Taxi
View of West Seattle from the King County Water Taxi

Looking the other direction, toward the south end of downtown:

View of south end of Seattle downtown from a boat
View from the Water Taxi approaching the southern end of downtown, with the baseball stadium just to the right of center

Again, the star power in this game was off the hook. Here’s Ohtani delivering a pitch to Julio in the bottom of the first inning:

Baseball game with Shohei Otani pitching to Julio Rodríguez
Shohei Ohtani pitching to Julio Rodríguez

Of course, being at a baseball game, snacks were a necessity!

Sam with a bag of Cracker Jack
Gotta have some Cracker Jack at a baseball game!

In the last few innings of the game I set out on foot to explore the stadium and see what was new this season. This was the first time I had seen the Julio photo booth, so of course:

Sam in the Julio Rodríguez photo booth
Here I am in the Julio Rodríguez photo booth

All in all, an enjoyable afternoon. The Mariners have a few more of these “businessman special” (forgive the gendered antiquated term for weekday day games) games this season and I’ll definitely want to go again.

After the game, I walked back to the water taxi and walked home. Pretty great to go to a game and be home before 6pm.

This was also the first game I had been to with the new pitch clock and other game-speed-up rules, and the accelerated pace was noticeable in a pleasant way. I grew up playing baseball every summer from ages 5-20, so the pacing is innate for me, and this felt good.

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