Oops We Did It Again

Oops, we did it again. We went on another international, dirt cheap, one-way cruise. Two cruises in 6 months seems like it is setting a bit of a bad precedent. But what can I say? They are good fun and a good value.

This cruise was a 3-day Miami to Colon, Panama. Three days is hardly enough to even find your groove in the ships routine, but did our best. We ate good, watched some shows*, and generally had a great time.

Second time around, cruising lost a little of it's magic. Or perhaps it was just this cruise: the food wasn't as great, the shows weren't as fun, and the ship wasn't as awesome. But the second go also afforded some great chances for comparison* and also a head start on knowing the ropes*

But just because some of the magic was gone doesn't by any means mean that I didn't enjoy myself...because I totally did. Highlights included watching "Wizard of Oz" on a giant outdoor screen while in the hot tub, seeing Cuba off the starboard bow, watching the pilot disembark in high seas, and shuffleboard! And, to top it all off, I'm in Panama! (more on that soon)
Monday November 18 2013File under: travel, cruise

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Supporting Public Radio(ish)

I'm a big public radio guy. Three of my 6 car* radio buttons are dedicated to the different public radio stations around my area and their various translator stations. I enjoy being intellectually engaged, knowing what's happening in the world*, and being entertained.

But of late, NPR, esp. Morning Edition and All Things Considered, haven't been doing it for me. I started noticing last year that their political coverage esp. was becoming what I hate, why I can't stand to listen to CNN/Fox News/major network news. Since then, I've noticed it creeping into much of their "reporting" and find myself turning off the radio rather than listening to it.

I've been a contributing member of one NPR station or another since sophomore year in college*. I like what they offer and I'm happy to support. But lately, I'm less happy about supporting. When donating last year, I included a note with my check that explained why it was less than years past and I would love to see things change. They haven't.

So this year, I decided to try something new. I decided to support the shows I enjoy rather than the station (although I did contribute a little to my favorite station, Northwest Public Radio, as well). This concept of cutting out the middle man reflects how my listening has evolved; I'm downloading podcasts of my favorite shows (radiolab and freakonomics for example) rather than planning my radio time around them.

It feels good to know that my meager contribution is going directly to what I enjoy. The feeling is very much like those first couple years of donating to Maine Public Radio. So while I hope the news programs that I once really enjoyed find their way back from the icky mass media scene, in the meantime, bring on the podcasts.

(Are you a public radio fan? Do you contribute? If not, you should consider it. It feels great and is the right thing to do.)
Monday November 4 2013File under: misc

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Travel Lists

I'm a bit of a list keeper, as anyone who has spent any time on my blog knows. I have a list of books I've read, of places I've slept, of states and countries I've geocached in, and more. So it's only natural that I keep travel lists. I was prompted the other day to review a few of my travel lists and I thought they might be fun to share here.

First off, my countries/territories visited. Why "countries/territories"? Well, it's a funny thing. Should Tahiti be the same thing as France? Or how about Hong Kong and China? Political designations are complicated. So instead of categorizing them myself, I'm using a list from the Travelers Century Club, a group dedicated to this kind of thing, of which I hope to someday be a member. While I may not agree with 100% of territory distinctions (Turkey in Europe vs. Turkey in Asia, e.g.), it is a somewhat official and current list that is easy.

My current count is 47, which ain't bad if I do say so myself. I look forward to seeing it continue to go up over the years. Maybe when I hit 100, I'll have a party!

Countries/Territories
  • * Alaska
  • * Albania
  • * Belize
  • * Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • * Cambodia
  • * Canada
  • * Canary Islands
  • * China
  • * Crete
  • * Croatia
  • * Denmark
  • * Ecuador
  • * England
  • * France
  • * French Polynesia
  • * Galapagos Islands
  • * Germany
  • * Greece
  • * Grenada
  • * Guetamala
  • * Hawaiian Islands
  • * Hong Kong
  • * Italy
  • * Japan
  • * Korea, south
  • * Kosovo
  • * Line/Phoenix Islands
  • * Macau
  • * Mexico
  • * Montenegro
  • * Morroco, Kingdom
  • * Morocco, Spanish
  • * Netherlands
  • * New Zealand
  • * Peru
  • * Portugal
  • * Puerto Rico
  • * Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa)
  • * Spain
  • * St. Maarten
  • * Taiwan
  • * Thailand
  • * Turkey in Asia
  • * Turkey in Europe
  • * United States
  • * Vatican City
  • * Vietnam


The other travel list that I very much enjoy keeping is one I've posted about before. It's Hillman's Top 100 Wonders of the World, a list of some dude's best places in the world. The list includes most of what you would expect from a "wonders" list: pyramids, Great Wall of China, Taj Mahal, etc. There are also some lesser knowns. I check out this list before I go anywhere just to make sure I'm not missing anything.

My count of Hillman's wonders is at 39, having added only 13 in the 6.5 years since I last posted about it. I guess I'll have to step up pursuit of that one, a challenge that I'm happy to pursue. Anyway, here's my list. As with last post, feel free to post your list/numbers in the comments below.

Hillman's Top 100 Wonders of the World
  • 2 Great Wall of China
  • 5 Galapagos Islands
  • 6 Grand Canyon
  • 7 Machu Picchu
  • 11 Amazon Rainforest (ish)
  • 14 Angkor Wat
  • 16 Forbidden City
  • 21 Bora Bora
  • 22 Acropolis
  • 25 TerraCotta Warriors
  • 26 Chichen Itza
  • 30 Cappadocia
  • 31 Colosseum of Rome
  • 33 St Peter's Basilica
  • 37 Hong Kong
  • 38 Sistine Chapel
  • 40 Alhambra
  • 41 Louvre Museum
  • 42 Canals of Venice
  • 43 Versailles
  • 47 Metropolitan Museum
  • 49 Temple Emerald Buddha
  • 50 Hagia Sophia
  • 60 Dubrovnik
  • 61 Uffizi Gallery
  • 63 Golden Pavilion
  • 67 St. Mark's Basilica
  • 68 Florence Cityscape
  • 71 Li River Cruise
  • 73 Sahara Desert
  • 81 Yellowstone NP
  • 82 Santorini
  • 85 Marrakesh
  • 86 Eiffel Tower
  • 88 Niagara Falls
  • 89 British Museum?
  • 91 Yangtze River Cruise
  • 99 San Francisco

Saturday November 2 2013File under: travel

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Anacortes Ultimate Points Naming

I've been playing ultimate frisbee here in Anacortes for, gosh, over 10 years now? (Tuesdays 6:30 @ Smiley's bottom except in late Sept and Oct when we go up to Storvik for lights. Join us!) It is a great way to get out and get some exercise and it's a total hoot to boot!

For that last year or so, we've been trying to compile names for every possible combination of points in hopes of us being able to remember the score better between points. It all started with the Richard Nixon Point when the score was 2 to 2. From there, it just exploded. Here's is my attempt to preserve, for posterity, the official Anacortes Ultimate Frisbee points naming conventions. Hopefully they will get picked up internationally and beyond!

Oh, and it should go without saying that yes I realize these are incredible nerdy. Like uber nerdy. But I'm okay with that.
ScoreNameExplanation (if necessary)
0-1Baby pointAmong the more crude explanations. Requires a bit of a visual.
1-1Oh, deerfingers look like horns
1-2Jack Blackopposite of Blackjack
2-1Blackjack
2-2Richard NixonI am not a crook
3-1Blastoff!"Three to one..."
3-2 WiiWhen held up on the fingers, it looks like a "W" and two "i"s
4-2Jackie RobinsonWas the universe point, but that's already a thing
4-0HighFour to zero = 420 = pot smokers' bingo!
3-3Forest"threes" sounds like "trees"
5-0Po poDo you smell bacon? I smell bacon.
4-4Star WarsMay the fours be with you
4-57-inchRecord speed/size
5-5MimeWhen holding up two open hands, it can look like you are a mime hitting a wall

I might be forgetting a few, and I know new ones will crop up. If you feel so inclined, contribute below. Whoop!
Tuesday October 22 2013File under: Anacortes, games

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Warehouse Expansion Concrete Pour

Almost 3 years ago, over a dozen dudes well versed in concrete work* got together to pour the floor for the warehouse out at the quarry. It was quite an event (covered here) with much fanfare. Well, last week, a considerably fewer number of fellas with considerably less concrete pouring knowledge poured the floor for the quarry warehouse expansion. The experience was both nostalgia and back-breaking*.

The expansion of the warehouse has been long in the works and when completed, it will include more dwelling units, a proper kitchen, showers, and FLUSH TOILETS! After much preparation of plumbing, insulation, radiant heating tubes, forms, and more, 20 yards of concrete arrived. The 5 or so of us did the best we could, and it turned out pretty nice. There was a blowout or two of forms and everything set up quicker than we wished leading to not the smoothest finish, but throw a rug on it and we're good to go.

In reading back over the last post, I laughed at the ever so naive last line: "Hopefully I'll have a post about putting up the warehouse in just a couple weeks!" Three months later was a post about putting up some of the first beams and 8 months later was a post about insulating the place. This time around, I understand that anything that resembles a building is still a long way off. But that doesn't mean it will be any less cool when it is complete! Yeehaw for progress!
Thursday October 17 2013File under: quarry

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Community Solar - A Project I Am Proud To Be A Part Of

The sun is shining outside so I can happily play frisbee, bike to trivia*, or get in some outdoor juggling practice. But now I've got another reason to be happy that the sun is shining: it's making me money!

Through the exhaustive legwork and vision of a few very environmentally minded local folks, the Skagit County Community Solar project was born. The idea behind it is this: not everyone can put solar panels on their home (maybe they rent, live in a shaded area, or can't afford the cost of a whole system) but many want to support solar energy. So, if we all pool our money and find a well-lit spot, we can all share in a piece of the solar energy experience. The state of Washington encourages exactly this type of thing with a program called Community Solar. From their side, it encourages local jobs*, raises awareness of solar energy, and helps delay* building new power plants.

In short, the financial arrangement works like this: 20-30 folks bought "shares" to fund the purchase, install, and start a maintenance fund. Then, for the next 7 years, all governmental subsidies/payments get divvied up among the share holders. The money earned from selling our power back to the local power company goes to pay for the lease on the community roof we are using. Then, at the end of 7 years, we will sell the system to the Middle School (where the system is installed) and those profits, plus what is left out of the maintenance fund will be distributed among the shareholders. The idea is that shareholders will recoup their investment plus maybe 4%, depending on weather, maintenance, etc.

All in all, it's really an awesome kind of project to be involved in. We earn money, support the environment, and raise awareness about how others can support the environment as well. Win win win!
Wednesday October 9 2013File under: environment, Anacortes

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Kitty Corner Beard

It feels like it's been a long while since I've done a good old ridiculous beard post. That doesn't mean I haven't been creating ridiculous beards, just that they all seem to be repeats of previous ridiculousness that have already been posted here on BdW. Well, this last time around, we* came up with a fun-ish one. The mark of a truly ridiculous beard, in my opinion, is whether one would wear said beard out in public. And while my adventurousness for wearing ridiculous beards in public has grown, it's not nearly to this point.

Speaking of required adventurousness, one's would have to be very high to wear this one out in public. Maybe someday. Maybe someday.
Thursday October 3 2013File under: beard

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Street Performing and More

I've often proclaimed that I'm not really a performer when it comes to juggling/circus. And while I still somewhat maintain that, it is getting harder and harder to say as I find myself performing more and more. Take last week for example: I performed 2 different times, once at the Bellingham Co-op for their Eat Local Festival* and once street performing at the Anacortes Farmer's market.

Street performing is something I really didn't see myself getting into. Any successful street performer can tell you that it isn't about your juggling skills as it is about your show: how you keep a crowd, build to a climax, have a good hat line, etc. That stuff doesn't interest me. Instead, I'll show you a trick or two, and if you like it, you can drop a buck in my hat.

With the help of Della, I gathered all* my props and headed down to put my style of street performance into effect. After the fact I can say this: my way is a whole lot of fun. And while it doesn't bring in the huge hats that some of the big guys can, it was definitely worth while*. It was so much fun, in fact, that I could see getting into the habit of it. Yeehaw.

Yep, I guess when you have spent as much time juggling and playing as I have, performance is kind of unavoidable. I think I'm okay with that.
Wednesday September 25 2013File under: juggling

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ShBang 2013 In Review


Sh'bang, the annual festival of awesomeness out at the Lookout Arts Quarry, again went off without a hitch. Well, more specifically, there were lots and lots of hitches, just like usual that included but were not limited to running out of toilet paper, oodles of mud*, high ticket prices, blown sound system, and a super frazzled organization staff. But, despite all that, it was a pretty dang neat festival.

The highlights of the weekend seem to fall into a few categories: stage fun, racing fun, and swimming fun.
  • I myself am not much of a fan of live music, but the bands that found their way to the stage(s) even gave me pause to tap my foot a time or two. And the fact that circus acts took the stage throughout the weekend was a definite plus.
  • The soapbox derby racing was as fun as always, this time without too many crashes*. I brought old Al the Pallet out of retirement for one more trip down the hill. He performed admirably. But the real action was with the serious racers, those who put more than 3 hours into building their carts and actually know how to weld. Those guys keep the festival more than just another cool music festival.
  • Each year for Sh'Bang, it seems we have a new water feature. Two years ago it was a janky carpet and tarp waterslide that lasted a total of a couple dozen trips down. Last year it was a much improved waterslide complete with minimal ass scraping. This year's addition tops them all: a zip line across the quarry into the water. Needless to say, there was a line most of the weekend. Many got in on the action.
Another bonus highlight for me this year was the turnout of so many family and friends. The quarry is a place I'm proud to be a part of and I really like showing it off. It sometimes takes a festival to get people to come out and enjoy it with me.

The passing of Sh'Bang ushers in the close of Quarry Season, as it were. I'll still try to pop up there a time or two to work on my cabin (or have a rustic getaway weekend from gritty city life.) But I doubt there's many more runs in the zip line for me this year. It's all good though. It's that much more to look forward to next season that, again, will all build up to Sh.......BANG!
Tuesday September 17 2013File under: quarry

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First Night In the Cabin

My cabin has now officially been used...like a cabin...for sleeping in*! Della and I spent our first night up there this past weekend, and despite there still being no door, a few critter-sized gaps in the walls, and nothing but temporary furniture, it was awesome.

As the cabin turns more from a place to work to a place for just being, I'm starting to get an idea of how it might be as a living space. I've had people over to chat, I'm starting to figure out the logistics of where stuff can get stored, and I'm starting to feel comfortable in knowing that this is my space, a concept that hasn't been in my world much lately.

My hope is that in the next couple weeks, I'll get the door in, fix those critter-sized holes, and maybe even get the wood stove in or roofing on. Then it will really start to feel like a real thing, rather than a pile of rocks and plywood out in the woods. And when it is starting to really be a real thing, I'm sure I'll do a big post, have a nice cabin-warming party, and more. Until then, it's one night at a time, wake up, and onto the next improvement.
Wednesday August 28 2013File under: quarry

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