Easy Like a....

After a week of hard work, Sunday mornings are supposed to be that time when we can all relax. Staying in bed late while listening to the puzzler on NPR. A big breakfast, of french toast and eggs – maybe even some fresh carrot, celery, apple juice if I am feeling saucy. Divvying up the paper and everyone retreating to read; comics here, sports page there, ads in the recycling.

For the past 8 years or so, every time I see a newspaper, there is really only one section for me: the crossword. It has become somewhat of an obsession, actually. I've worked my way through my back stash of puzzles and am now always on the lookout for more. I find myself going through recycling bins in public places to get my fix (ferries and airports are treasure troves of discarded papers). To eat breakfast without a crossword is my own little torture.

All this is to say that if in your household competition for the crossword puzzle is stiff, fear not! I've just finished creating my 5th crossword*, and I am glad to say that there are no clues* that I am ashamed of, making it my best yet. If it wasn't for a minor oversight in the grid construction*, I would be submitting it to the powers that be and expecting my $60 check in the mail.

Without further ado, I present Large Places. If you do give it a try, and I hope you do, I would love any feedback you can share. My journey to be a published crossword puzzle author can use all the help it can get.
Sunday May 18 2008File under: games

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FC 32 - For Great Service

It isn't often that I get to work directly with an artist on a comic. Most are either done via e-mail or the quick exchange of a sheet of paper. The coloring and captioning is left to me sitting by my lonely old self in front of my computer. Well, this week I had the artist on site. It was quite exciting. I got to share my input on the drawing (bald or not bald) and she got to share her input on the color ("darker!").

Gabriella not only handled the wonderful drawing this week, but she also came up with the idea, so yet again I was off the hook from trying to be clever (which is a good thing because my go to list of comics is getting pretty sparse*)

Anyway, Gabriella and I both agree that this is a good comic. And since you don't want to have a contrary opinion, I can only assume you do too.
Thursday May 15 2008File under: comic

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Relaunch


A couple of months ago, I posted about a little project I was working on that had high hopes of promoting public transportation use in the North Sound region: the working name was North Sound City to City Public Transportation Guide. When it came to revamp, the name was the first thing to change. The NSC2CPTG has now become the North Sound Transit Guide with a fancy web address of www.northsoundtransitguide.com*. While the main guts of the site, the trip planner, haven't changed much beyond the addition of a few more routes, I added a little window dressing to the rest of the site, along with other helpful tidbits such as tips for travelers and links to other related sites. It is still somewhat a work in progress, but I feel it is now ready to release out of the "proof of concept" stage and into that ever ubiquitous "beta" stage. To the non-computer nerd, that means it is open and ready to go. So help me spread the word: www.northsoundtransitguide.com!

(In getting nstg up and going, I also spend a little time cleaning up www.peoplesguidetoanacortes.com to get the domain name directly properly and the layout to better accommodate various window sizes etc. And since we are just getting into tourist season here in Anacortes, I thought it might be worth putting a reminder out there: if you or anyone you know happens to be traveling through Anacortes and is look for all the area has to offer that doesn't require you to take out your wallet, check out the People's Guide to Anacortes.)

((Okay, I'll try to hold off on the self promotion for at least the next week. No promises though.))
Wednesday May 14 2008File under: coding, links

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Not Stupid Enough


Here's the story*: while waiting in line to attend the David Letterman show, they make you fill out a survey with your name, age, where you're from, etc. It also has a place to highlight any stupid pet tricks your pet might be able to do, famous people you may have met, and stupid human tricks you might be able to do. Thinking that the field was required (and that if anyone knows a stupid human trick or two it would be me), I filled it in, thinking nothing further of it.

Sure enough, the next day, I get an e-mail from the show asking how I came about knowing this unique trick of mine and if I had a video I could share with them. I was on the road so I postponed a filming session until I got home. And after practicing a bit*, this is what I got (view the video above or check it out here on YouTube).

I sent it off last week and haven't heard back. Judging by the speed of their response last time and lack of a response this time, I can only assume that my trick just isn't stupid enough for them. Or maybe it is too stupid. Either way, there went my hopes and dreams of being on the David Letterman show, at least for now. Next on the agenda: come up with an even stupider trick.
Monday May 12 2008File under: video, misc

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Farmers Market Time


Society for Creative Anachronisms folk boff at each other at the Port Orchard Farmer's Market

That time of year has returned again: farmer's market time! Granted early May is a little before most local farms are producing anything edible (at least in the Northwest), but communities are still gathering around those blue- and white-topped booths to look in on local crafts that were knitted, painted, and hot-glued over the winter months. Also prominent are little vegetable plants ready for transplant in your garden. The vendors, however, know that your plants won't produce nearly enough and that you'll be back.

This weekend, I've been to two new markets, one of which I've been wanting to visit for a long time. I've been hearing about Olympia's farmer's market for a long time from friends and family that have lived there. Sure enough, after a visit, I can see why it gets all the hype. Besides having a good selection of local produce and crafts, there is local meat, honey, and baked goods*. We moseyed on down for lunch from one of the many hot food vendors and listened to some of the live music. And as is often the case with every farmer's market I've been to, we ran into people we know.

Good food for now, good food for later, and good friends to enjoy both with: yep, I'm glad it's farmer's market time again.
Saturday May 10 2008File under: food

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FC 31 - War

Because of the huge positive response (and wealth of material on the subject), I present you another entry in the MS Paint Paper Scissors Rock* collection (MSPPSR #1 and #2). Present is pretty much all I get to do with this comic, because unlike other comics where I've at least had a hand in conceiving, coloring, or captioning, this one is all Annie. She not only artistically crafted this one pixel by pixel, but also came up with the idea for it. When I was visiting her recently, she joked about possibly starting her own comic series to rival mine. (At least I hope she was joking.)
Friday May 9 2008File under: comic

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Rejected Photos Slideshow

I took a bunch of photos on my latest little adventure. Some of the good ones made it into pertinent blog posts. Others, due to theme, quality, or time restraint, never made the cut. Well, here's their big chance! I've compiled all the good-but-not-good-enough photos into this fancy slideshow*. So if you are looking to kill some time, click here and enjoy.

There are 72 photos in the slideshow, so it might take a second or two to load up. I figure if my old laptop can handle it, your's should have no problem.

Oh, and it should be noted that not all the photos are mine. I stole–er, I mean reused a few photos from I Heart Jonahbees and Sir Maxalot, so there might be repeats for those of you that read those blogs*. I also snatched a picture or two from Sara's camera while she wasn't looking. You really gotta love the age of digital photography.

And second Oh: no fair making snide comments about how many self portraits there are. Being creative with picture taking while traveling is hard.
Tuesday May 6 2008File under: travel, pics

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The Other Local Food

We have all, undoubtedly, heard me go on and on about local foods, right? Well, I now offer you a slightly different version of the same concept: foods whose ingredients don't necessarily come from the immediate area, but foods which are closely tied to a place either because that is where they were invented/popularized or for some other reason. I took special care to experience as many of these foods as I could while on my trip. Here's the list.

Chicago deep dish pizza in Chicago; Philly cheese steak in Philly (sold from great little sidewalk stands); scrapple served up by Amish people in Phillie; crab cakes in Baltimore*; BBQ, hush puppies, and sweet tea in North Carolina; and New York City bagels* in New York City. Pretty much everything was awesome; each food stuff deserves the recognition it has achieved.

(Also worthy of note, although not famous except in certain circles, is my brief stop in Fredricksburg, VA at Carl's ice cream joint. I can't remember who recommended it to me along the way, but what a place. It was a local place that was so hoppin, I had to wait in quite a line for my shake. Totally worth it (both the wait and the riding my bike all over town to find it after a hard day on the road). It is worth including in this post because in my eyes, it captures exactly what a local establishment can be. Anyhoo, if you happen through Fredricksburg, you should definitely check it out.)
Sunday May 4 2008File under: food, travel

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FC 30 - Believe (a.k.a Skip To My Lou)

I know. I know. I promised you good comics by good artists starting this week. Well, you're stuck with me again and this time I don't even have the magic stylus to draw people without hands. I do, however, have my beloved Paint Shop Pro 5.0 back which at least brings me comfort if it doesn't bring me magical drawing abilities.

So with the disclaimer disclaimed, I present to you this week's Friday Comic*. Oh, in addition, I should disclaim that my choice in cities was [almost] completely random. I originally was thinking Dallas, but it just didn't fit. Anyway, I hope you all get a chuckle. As for you Baltimortarians, please don't kill me. You are the only ones that will get the partial joke in the title.
Thursday May 1 2008File under: comic

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Tuesday Trivia - USA Edition

Over at IHJ, Chris has started a nice little routine of posting trivia question(s) each and every Tuesday*. His questions are less of the you-know-it-or-you-don't* variety and more of the if-you-put-your-mind-to-it-you-should-be-able-to-figure-it-out* type. However you choose to hyphenate the description, they are good fun.

It fits nicely that I've been preparing for a trivia post for some time, inspired by my recent travels. I thought I would throw them in the Tuesday Trivia realm so we can all exercise our brains together. For answers, hover over question number at the end. Feel free to post your score, or any qualms you have with the questions, in the comments.

State Capitals:
1) How many U.S. state capitals have more than one word? (ex: Kansas City (if that was the capital))
2) Which U.S. capital's name shares no letters with the name of the state it's in? (ex: Not Salem, Oregon because they both have an "E")
3) Which 4 U.S. state capitals start with the same letter as the state they are in?*
Other Geography(ish):
4) Name as many popular U.S. cities with 6 or more syllables.*
5) What letter isn't used in the spelling of any states name?
6) Rank the 4 major timezones in the U.S. by population, greatest to least.
Other:
7) What state has the most vanity license plates?
8) Name which presidents have memorials on the National Mall in D.C.
9) Which is the only U.S. state that has a non-rectangular flag?

Answers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 61, 72, 8, 9
Tuesday April 29 2008File under: misc

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