Knitting Season

As the days grow shorter and colder and the leaves change colors and drop from the trees, we are all reminded* that fall is here again. I, myself, couldn't be happier. Sure summer is nice with the long days and sunshine, but I'm always ready for that nip in the air that signifies one thing: hot chocolate season is here.

Besides drinking hot chocolate, fall lends itself to all sorts of things*. One of the things that I wasn't expecting to be excited about this year but was is knitting. Sitting down in the evening in front of some t.v. show that you don't really feel deserves your full attention* but is worth looking up for every now and again and just going to town on the knitting - yes, that is on the top of my list for this fall.

I am no knitting expert, mind you. I've still not yet learned how to purl. (Yeah, I know you say it is simple, but I just haven't learned yet, so back off!) I'm still a mostly scarves and hat guy (well, scarf and hats, to be precise), but perhaps this year I will expand into wash cloths and pot holders. Get ready family, there is going to be quite a bounty under the Christmas Crassula Ovata this year.
Wednesday September 26 2007File under: misc, pics

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Starbucks Startbucks Everywhere


Image found on Alien Loves Predator
Starbucks are everywhere. I've been around the world and seen them in some unexpected places (like the Forbidden City (although it looks like they are about to be banned)). While on the one hand, I think it represents a company that has found its niche by creating a product/service that people really want, I have a hard time getting behind some of their other business practices. Those with similar reservations might be interested in this tool, created by a friend, which helps you find alternative local coffee shops*. But I digress....

If you stand at 15th and Commercial Ave. in Anacortes, WA, you will be within 3 blocks of 3, count them, 3 Starbucks; two of them are within 1.5 blocks of each other! To be fair, 2 of the 3 are inside grocery stores, which, I guess, makes it a little easier to understand, but still...

Anyway, in all my travels, I haven't seen quite this density anywhere else. Does this make Anacortes an anomaly in that way? Can we start adding that to our travel brochures to entice those SUV driving, suburb dwellers (or whomever it is that keeps Starbucks going) to visit Anacortes?* Tell me, have you ever seen a higher number of Starbucks stores nestled together?
Sunday September 23 2007File under: Anacortes, misc

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Tree House Livin

I would wager that at least half of you, at some point in your life, have wanted to live in a tree house. Perhaps the desire has waned since you were, say, 12, but let me tell you: One night in a properly built tree house (complete with inter-tree rope bridge) will rekindle that dream.

Recently, I had a chance to briefly live that dream. My travel schedule* required me to pass a night in Bellingham. In asking around for a place to stay, a friend suggested that I might sleep in his tree house. I was hesitant at first, because if it is anything like the few tree houses I have built over the years, morning would find me lying on the ground with broken 2x4s all around and an extremely sore back.

Anyhoo, after watching a lovely sunset from Boulevard Park and crashing a party where I knew absolutely no one, I made my way through the complete darkness to find this arboreal masterpiece. I can't say enough good things about the place: hard wood floors, french doors opening onto a gorgeous view of the pond, and christmas lights to complete the magical aura. It has completely rekindled my desire to spend my nights high off the ground. This is the view I had while falling asleep. (Oh, the one glitch in the evening was the puma* that was audibly stalking around the roof to find an opening to come in and devour me.)

Anyway, keep your eyes out for good tree house trees. I'm officially in the market.
Tuesday September 4 2007File under: misc

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Travel Essentials


1. A pen: This is the single most indispensable thing for me when I travel. You never know when you'll need to fill out border declaration forms, copy down phone numbers, schedules, or addresses, or give your number to a sexy flight attendant*.

2. A crossword puzzle: Not only does a crossword work great for killing those minutes spent waiting for your bus to come, your food to come, or a late friend to arrive, but it also functions as a great notepad for phone numbers, addresses, schedules, todos, travel observations, and more. I always try to carry single sided crosswords when I travel just for this reason. Looking over the notes taken on the back of them when you return from your trip is always a hoot. (Oh, and I guess Sudorkus could work in a pinch.)

3. Reading material: For the waits that are longer than a few minutes, having a book/magazine/travel guide handy can greatly help pass the time. The one thing that is guaranteed* in travel is that you will always have down time. Paperbacks works great and can often be exchanged with other travelers you meet along the way.

4. Camera: I try to keep my camera handy while traveling, but not to the point of being one of those guys*. You never know when a good shot will present itself. I take pictures not only to remember my trip later, but also to share my travels with my friends and family (via this blog of course. Who actually looks at printed pictures anymore?).

5. Ear plugs: Those $.50 yellow thingies you squish up and jam in your ears can be a lifesaver for flights with crying babies, shared hostel rooms with snorers, or time when you just want to block everything out. I rarely go anywhere with a pair of these handy.

6. Spare change: Having a dollar or two of spare change can save lots of headaches when traveling. Many public transportation systems require exact change (or at least don't give change), vending machines are often the only choice for a quick meal before hopping on a bus, some fountains simply require having a wishing penny thrown in, and for the 11 people left in the world without a cell phone*, public pay phones rarely accept dollar bills.

7. Fork and spoon: While these don't lend themselves well to air travel*, they are great to have around when exploring new places. Often times when you are trying to travel on the cheap, the grocery store provides meals. Eating yogurt with a spoon is much easier than eating it with an expired driver's license. (Using your own utensils is also a great way to avoid sending more plastic to the land fill.)
Wednesday August 29 2007File under: travel, misc

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Supertasters

I've found myself explaining it so much recently, I thought I might throw a quick post up about supertasterism*. Basically, as I understand it, it is the ability to taste certain substances that others can't, specifically some particular chemical. The chemical is very bitter to those who can taste it, therefore foods that contain this chemical are generally disliked by supertasters. Before I heard about this phenomenon, I, and often people I ate with, just figured that I was picky. After hearing about it, though, I found that many of the foods I dislike are disliked by other supertasters. While I guess it doesn't completely save me from coming across as a picky eater, it does make me feel at least somewhat validated.

Coffee, grapefruit juice, and many dark green leafy vegetables have a bitter taste to me that other people don't seem to share. Wikipedia has a list of food associated with this chemical, and a very scientific exaplanation, here. Noticeably missing from their list is broccoli which I always heard was the main culprit. (And I was really looking for an excuse to avoid my broccoli too.)

Curious as to whether you are a supertaster? Try this experiment or, for the lazier among us, this quiz.
Sunday August 26 2007File under: food, misc

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Skimboarding

One thing about living in the same place you grew up is that friends who have moved on to bigger and better things always return for a visit. This week is one of those times where loads of people are all back in town, from Boston, Quebec, Yukon, California, and more. And when so many people are around, lots of activities ensue.

The activity du jour was skimboarding (previously covered here). With new boards in hand and enthusiasm to beat the band, we found ourselves a great sand bar down at Rocky Point for some schralpin'. To kill time until the tide was right, we all tried our hand at building sand castles. And after the tide passed, we investigated various ways of hucking ourselves into the ocean.

Yes, besides the bumps and bruises, a sun burn, and the extremely sore legs I will have tomorrow, this skimboarding mission was an complete success.
Wednesday August 15 2007File under: Anacortes, misc

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Wiffle Ball

The universe often sends out its energy in waves. The wave of late has been wiffle ball energy. Having not played (or thought about) the game in ages, the opportunity to play two games in almost as many days is the universe's way of telling me it has been too long.

Game 1: It was no contest. Team Birthday Boys trompled the heavily favored Hometown Heroes 11-2. I hit one over the fence in the fatty-batty inning to really put the nail in the coffin. The score, however, doesn't do justice to Hometown Heroes. They were worthy opponents. Perhaps next year, a rematch is in the wind.

Game 2: (also covered here) There must be a resurgence of wiffle ball in Bellingham because bats are difficult to find. We found possibly the last bat in town after visiting a number of stores. But with equipment in hand, we got down to business. The Flying Platypi held their own in this 10-10 tie, even with the disadvantage of missing out on the fatty batty inning. (Those $2 bats just don't last as long as they used to, even when pre-wrapped with duct tape.) Again, it was a fun game where everybody won.

Yep, wiffle ball isn't just for kids. It is good fun for late twenty-somethings clutching desperately at their long gone childhoods. Or wait, maybe that is just me. Anyway, thanks to all that made it such a fun time.
Tuesday August 14 2007File under: Anacortes, misc

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110 in the Shade


A few nights ago, Emily and I went up Red Rocks Canyon to the Super Summer Theatre. The venue is gorgeous with the red rock cliffs surrounding a grassy lawn and professional stage. Everyone brings their blankets and chairs, along with picnic dinners, and enjoys an evening outdoors watching legitimate theater. Because it is a couple thousand feet higher than Vegas, the temperature is bearable, some might even say pleasant*.

110 in the Shade was the name of the play we saw, not a description of the weather where we were seeing it. And I guess I should call it a musical instead of a play. There was lots of singing. It immediately brought to mind that Simpsons episode about painting the wagon red. Hilarious. It also struck me as completely the opposite of what kind of experience one might expect to have in Vegas. Rather than high gloss, air-conditioned casino entertainment, it was more old-timey community-oriented fun.

While the atmosphere was spectacular, the temperature was bearable, and Pei Wei hit the spot, we opted to beat the crowds and head out early before we found out if Lizzie hooked up with Sheriff File and if Starbuck made the rains come. I imagine it all worked out. All in all, it was an awesome evening.
Monday July 30 2007File under: travel, misc

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Bling Bling

Gambling with other people's money is good times, esp. when it forces you to try new extremely intimidating games. Chris, with his convoluted craps plan, was the big winner for the night (although we quickly deviated from his plan, but it worked out great). "Daddy needs a new graphing calculator" drew a few looks from the table attendents, but it was worth the extra 5%. His take...drum roll please...$33.50 (plus the initial $10). I'll take the appropriate action and finally utilize that donation box on IHJ.

Taking second place on the winner list was Sarah who doubled her money on quarter slots (not to mention the free Bud Lite that Emily got from the appropriately*-dressed cocktail waitress). We found an old school machine with actual reels and an honest to goodness pull-arm and let the money roll in. Unfortunately, it wasn't old school enough to have the coins come tumbling out. We had to deal with a printed ticket instead.

On the converse side of things, both Julie and Andrew walk away empty handed. Julie, since we couldn't find a $.25 slot machine with hearts on it, we put your dollar on a machine with dolphins (appropriate, eh?) but it went away just as quickly. Since we didn't conform to your specifications, however, you are off the hook on payback. Andrew, your bet gave us the least trouble because 17 seconds after it was placed, it was gone*. Because it was so easy, I will let you off the hook for paying me back if you agree to put it towards future debts accrued on the frisbee golf course.

As for the only bet that requires research, synthesis, and understanding, we will have to wait until February to find out how Ryan did. It does give me a reason to follow football this year, though. Go Steelers!!

All in all, a great night at the casino. The only downside is that Emily has now become afflicted with the "There's No Way I Can Lose at Craps" bug, which we all know will come back to haunt her. As for me, I think my own personal Gamblor* has been sated and Senior Tuesdays at the Northern Lights Casino will tide me over until my next Vegas Vacation.
Sunday July 29 2007File under: travel, misc

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Get Rich Quick (or Gambling By Proxy)

I once again find myself in the Las Vegas area. "Who goes to Las Vegas in July on purpose?", you ask. Good question. In its defense, the weather has been quite exciting with thunder storms, flash floods, and temperatures that have more or less stayed below the 100 degree mark. But enough pleasantries; let's get down to business.

Last time I passed this way, I talked to a few people about my idea of gambling by proxy. This time, I want to make that dream a reality for us all. The concept is this: for all of you who aren't able to make it to casinos, whether because of time, geography, or overbearing spousal reasons, I offer you my time and location* so that together we might both become rich.

The rules go like this. You name the amount, game, and bet (e.g. $10 on roulette 15) and I will go place it. I'm thinking the games that lend themselves to this would be roulette, craps, slots (please be as specific as you like with the type of machine), and blackjack (although you would have to accept my decisions*. If you lose, you pay me the amount lost. Kind of like if you were here, but without having to deal with the crowds, stress, and heat. If you win, we split the winnings 75/25 (yes, the bigger amount is for you*).

The concept here is to allow anyone to be a part of the BdW experience, to participate in this adventure that I am on, to have a little innocent fun while on your government-mandated 15-minute coffee break at the office. The action and outcome will be documented here. And besides the excitement and fun this will create, you will be helping to support BdW (web hosting ain't free, ya know.) So get your bets in by Friday night and then leave the rest to me.
Wednesday July 25 2007File under: travel, misc

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