Whale Watching

If I told you that I have lived in the San Juan Islands for 18 years and have only seen Orca whales twice in the wild, would you believe me? Well, it's true, and I consider myself lucky to have seen them that much. Once was at WaPa where 60+* cruised by no more than a stone's throw from the beach. The other time was off the head at Rosario. Both were pretty spectacular.

This past weekend, I increased my orca sightings by 50%! Emily, who used to work at Island Adventures, managed to score us tickets to go out whale watching. Although it is on the top of some people's list when they come to Anacortes, I have yet to be out on a whale watching boat. I knew that I was in for a real treat.

The weather was quintessential for fall in the northwest. There was a chill to the air, wind gusts here and there, and non-rain moisture coming out of the air somehow, as it so mysteryously wont to do. I was afraid the weather would curtail the adventure, but, at least in my eyes, it only added to it. (Plus, it gave me the excuse to drink a whole thermos of hot chocolate!)

To read more (and see pictures!), click here.
Tuesday October 9 2007File under: Anacortes, pics

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Friday Comic Number 1



Every Friday this month, we here at BdW will be featuring a home brew comic written by myself* me and drawn by Deanna. Our first collaboration, Dating a Jeopardy Writer, can be seen here. I hope you enjoy!

Click on the image to get a larger version.
Thursday October 4 2007File under: comic

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Troothpicks

I'm happy to intoduce* troothpicks. Over 2 years have gone into developing a printing technique, phrases, logos, website, packaging, and more. I'm proud of the result. I think you will be impressed.

Troothpicks are essentially phrases (proverbs, fortunes, sayings) printed on toothpicks. The idea started as having something to fill the role of fortune cookies at non-Chinese restaurants and quickly blossomed into what it is today. Troothpicks are great for pre-dinner hors d'oeuvres, after dinner picking, and everything in between. They are also great for gifts, esp. for anyone you know who loves to entertain. You can get them for all occasions (birthday, holidays, graduations, etc.) or you can create your own custom picks with your business name on them or custom messages for your event. More information, photos, and how to order can be found at the website www.troothpicks.com.

For anyone who shares my enthusiasm for this product (and who couldn't?), I would love to have you tell your friends about the website. And if you have a non-themed* blog on which a post about a clever product that makes people smile might fit (Dave, Amanda, Andrew, Ryan, Myke, Blake, Saxtor*, I'm looking your way here), I would be ever so much appreciative if you found it in your hearts to maybe mention troothpicks in a post. I'd be happy to return the favor* if you ever have a word that needs spreading.
Wednesday October 3 2007File under: work, misc

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Link Letter

Huzzah huzzah! BdW has to come the rescue to save you all from another boring Monday*. That's right, folks, I am pleased to announce the debut of my eighth self-conceived*, home-coded nerd game. (To view all the games, be sure and check out the games page so conveniently listed on the left hand column of this very page.)

The goal of Link Letter is to create a chain of words, each one letter apart, starting at one word and working your way to another (hopefully the in-game instructions will be a little more articulate than that). Currently, there are 20 levels with the possibility of adding more levels (or maybe even separate tracks) later, so get some while the getting is good. Oh, and I've brought back the community high score board with this one, so you can fight tooth and nail to beat out Joe Mama.

Link Letter is written with a javascript front end, so I must deliver my standard hasn't-been-tested-on-Mac caveat. If someone gives it a go, please let me know if it works. As the matter of fact, I'd love any kind of feedback anybody has. I'd love to make this game as good as possible so it might have a shelf life of more than, say, a week*, like all the other games.

Happy linking!
Sunday September 30 2007File under: games, coding

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Chuckanut Dr.

As summer is coming to an end, that also means an end to the [comfortable] scooter season. Time will tell if I am still able to use it as my prime form of transportation. It's been a fine run with the little guy. I often think back on some of the wonderful roads we've taken together (e.g. 395 and 1 as covered here before.) Recently. I was reminded of another spectucular road we have right here in the northwest, almost perfectly suited to Scoot Scoot. I've had occasion to ride it a few times recently, and I didn't think it was fair not giving it a shout out after calling attention to those other roads.

Chuckanut Dr. from the Skagit flats to Fairhaven has got to be one of the best roads of all time. I happened to hit it as the sun was going down on a beautiful autumn day. Returning on a clear night with the moon reflecting off the water was just as spectacular. While traveling via a scooter immerses you in the environment all the more, the road is worth driving in a car as well.

It's a road I recommend to friends visiting from out of town who are headed up to Bellingham, and it is a road to I recommend to all of you who might be passing that way.
Saturday September 29 2007File under: transportation, Anacortes

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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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www.peoplesGuideToAncortes.com


In hopes of making the People's Guide to Anacortes more accessible, I've recently acquired the domain name www.peoplesguidetoanacortes.com. Hopefully, this will make it easier for everyone to spread the word.

For those of you who don't remember the original post, the people's guide to Anacortes is a list of non-commercial activities on Fidalgo Island with an easy to use interface. It is geared towards travelers and residents alike who want to pass a day (or a week) enjoying the non-commercial (which also all happen to be free) things Anacortes has to offer.

I hope you have checked it out already or will do so soon. If you think it is a helpful service, spread the word to your friends and family who might be traveling this way.
Tuesday September 25 2007File under: Anacortes

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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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Lopez Island JuggleFest

Sometimes a tiny step can take you to a world away. This point was well illustrated to me as I hopped on the ferry and journeyed out to Lopez for their annual jugglefest. Within the minutes of getting off the ferry, there were strangers hugging strangers in introduction and conversations of the 3 "D"s of Taoism. I couldn't help but note that experiences like these, which are far from my normal practices, are the norm for some people and they would be equally as unaccustomed to being told to shush when Alex is reading the clue for final Jeopardy*. Anyway, it felt good to be exposed to this different style of life.

But enough with the esoteric crap, let's now discuss the festival. The Lopez JuggleFest ranks right up at the top of my list of favorite juggling events. It is held all outdoors* with camping on site. The property consists of a great big lawn for juggling with a beautiful garden (from which comes a portion of the big meal), a great campfire circle, fruit trees, and a lake nearby for swimming. The atmosphere is laid back with cooperation and community oozing* from every person. Everyone pitches in to make the big Saturday meal. In the years past, I have been on cider squishing and ice cream cranking patrol, but this year I got to do the salmon marinade. When the first line on the "recipe" calls for 6 quarts of soy sauce, you know it is going to be a feast!

The highlight for most first time attendees is the naked fire juggling*. I, myself, tend to shy away from participation in this tradition. I'll leave that to the pros.

Yep, a weekend away from my little bubble is a good thing. My mind has been going non-stop since (hence the disarray of this post.)
Wednesday September 19 2007File under: juggling

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Pacific Northwest Clean Energy Expo

By now, anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a bit of an eco-geek: I like public transit, local foods, solar energy, etc. When the opportunity to attend the Pacific Northwest Clean Energy Expo* arose, you shouldn't be surprised that I didn't pass it up.

The expo was held at the Seattle Center Pavilion. The room was split space-wise equally between alternative-fuel vehicles and booths with products for your home. Additionally, there was a podium and seating for the various lecturers scheduled throughout the day.

The vehicles were very interesting. While there was nothing overly cutting edge represented (like that oh-so-sexy Tesla), there were some home-brew electric cars, factory electric cars, bio-diesels, and "neighborhood" cars. One of the speakers was the president of the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association, who I caught after the presentation to further delve into the details of converting a gas powered vehicle into an electric*. The general gist I got from all the vehicle stuff was to do anything truly alternative, it will cost you.

The home booths ranged from tankless water heaters to solar panel salesmen. In talking with the representatives, it seemed like they were more there to transact business than discuss the finer points of energy savings with a non-homeowning eco-geek, but I got a few concepts clarified. My favorite booth, however, was a little old(ish)* lady who had made up her own guide to transportation in the north Puget Sound area. It has rate and schedule information on all transportation choices from public transit (SKAT, WTA, Island Transit, etc.) to Greyhound, Amtrak, and the Airporter. She and I chatted for a good long while.

While the Expo didn't blow me away with the latest and greatest, it gave me the opportunity to see what is actually available consumer-wise, hear about what type of projects people are pursuing on their own, and filled me with motivation, enthusiasm, and inspiration that you get by being surrounded by like minded people.
Sunday September 16 2007File under: environment

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