The Long Way Home

I've been on a bit of a carless kick recently. I'm essentially experimenting with what life would be like for me without a personal car. I consider it a goal to aspire to for environmental, consumeristic, financial, and simplicity reasons. But for now, I am just investigating.

This weekend, I undertook the ambitious goal of going from Anacortes to Seattle on all public transportation. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem as I have done the same thing on weekdays a number of times. (If you ever need to figure out a carfree way to go from Anacortes to Seattle, talk to me. I know them all.) But since the commuter buses I used to rely on for my north to south jaunt don't run on the weekends, I was forced to seek out a new route. And a new route I found, although it is not what you would call convenient. For those fellow public transportation geeks out there, here's what I did:
Island Transit 411W March Point to Mt. Vernon (free)
Island Transit 411C Mt. Vernon to Stanwood (free)
Community Transit 240 Stanwood to Smokey Point ($1.25)
Community Transit 201 Smokey Point to Lynnwood Park and Ride(free with transfer)
Sound Transit 511 Lynnwood Park and Ride to Seattle ($1.00 with CT transfer)

Total travel time was about 4 hours, plus 20 minute or so to bike out to the March Point park and ride. Total cost was $2.25. I'm glad I did it to prove it is possible, but my final conclusion is that it might be worth the extra $10.00 to take the greyound therefore saving 2.5 hours. Either way, I'm counting it a success for my experiments in carlessness!
Monday January 29 2007File under: transportation

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Word Racer Meet Up

Hey, I've got an idea: Let's play word racer! Come on. It'll be fun. You know you want to. It may sound nerdy, but it is a hoot.
Monday, Jan 29th, 7:00PM PST
Social Lounge 6

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it is very similar to boggle, but on the computer playing with people around the country/world. To get started, go here. You'll need a yahoo account, but they are free (and the best free, web-based e-mail around). Then click on Social Lounge 6. Then wait for me to invite you to our table. If you haven't played before, it might be good to get a few practice rounds in before Monday.

So, leave a comment on this post with your username if you are going to be joining us so I can know who to invite in. Yeehaw!
Saturday January 27 2007File under: meet-ups

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On Being a Tourist in Your Own Town

I've lived in Anacortes a long time now and I feel that I know it pretty well. I can tell you where the best pizza is (Village, of course), how many stop lights there are (13), and the best hike (depends on the weather). But it isn't often that I get to play tourist in my own town.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to do just that. A friend was visiting from the East Coast who had never properly seen Fidalgo Island. (Passing through to the ferry totally doesn't count.) We got to see Deception Pass, Cap Sante, Burrows Island lookout on the WaPa loop, the funny house down by Matt Kanarr's old house, Whistle Lake (with so many new downed trees!), Causland Park, and much more. Some of these I happen upon in my daily life. Others I rarely visit. All of them take on new dimensions when seen through non-resident's eyes.

Being exposed to the beauty that is Fidalgo Island on a daily basis can sometimes cause me to forget how spectacular it is here. Anne's frequent "This is so beautiful!" helped remind me to take a step back and appreciate this beautiful place in which we live.

Wednesday January 24 2007File under: Anacortes, pics

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You Can Quote Me On That

With all my free time these days, I've been trying to get as much reading in as I can, although the pile of yet-to-be-read books seems to get larger rather than smaller. Being that I am a hopeless listmaker, I have a number of book related lists that I keep. I have a list of every book I've read since the beginning of high school, which is always good for a browse whether to remind you of an old favorite author or if a friend is looking for reading suggestions. But one of my favorite book related lists to browse through is my quotes list. When I read, I try to keep a pen and paper near by to record memorable quotes. I then transfer them to the master list kept in my computer.

In the interest of fun, I thought I'd share a few of my favorites here. Please feel free to share one of your own. Please note that I don't necessarily support or reject this ideas presented. I just found them interesting.
  • "It is to erase the fixed smiles of sleeping couples that Satan trained roosters to crow at 5 in the morning." -Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
  • "The universe always conspires to help the dreamer." -Paul Coehlo, By the River Piedra I Wept
  • "Listen: We are here on earth to fart around. Don't let anyone tell you any different." -Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake(?)
  • "Sober men don't dance." -Will Ferguson, Happiness
  • "Don't let the muggles get you down." -J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter
  • "There's birth, there's death, and in between, there's maintainence." -Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from a Hot Climate
  • "Lunch justifies any morning and sedates the worst of afternoons" -Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from a Hot Climate
  • "Just keep your bowels open and try to lead clean lives." -Ernest Hemingway, Islands in the Stream
  • "But I comfort myself by believing that shallowness is a key part of being a complicated male." -Randy Wayne White, Everglades
  • "The mind's ability to rationalize its own short comings is unlimited" -Robert Heinlein, Stranger from a Strange Land
  • "Mayhem was mayhem even if people were having a good time." John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany


Saturday January 20 2007File under: books

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Senior Tuesdays

It is quite amazing how just talking to one person about what they do can so influence some people. It happens to all of us. Well, to my friend, it happened to be a professional blackjack player that did the influencing. Being the kind of guy that supports his friends in any endeavor, whether level-headed or not, I scheduled us a trip to the casino. In preparation, he sent me this link to start practicing, a great online blackjack game with tips.

Well, luck was on our side from the get go. Tuesdays are Senior Tuesday out at Northern Lights Casino with lower table limits, raffle prizes, and more. While you don't have to be a senior to enjoy the fun, if you're not a senior, you're going to be outnumbered. All my casino experience to date has been with the slot machines (mostly penny slots). I've always looked in awe at the confident table gamers, hoping that maybe someday I will work up the courage to join them. Today was that day. Dave and I found a table with a $1 minimum and said, "hit me". Well, it turns out they only say that in the movies. That was to be the first of many lessons learned.

After an hour and half at the tables, I walked away only $1.50 down, while Dave was up $10. Disregarding the $10 I lost on the slots, not bad for a couple hours of entertainment. Is anybody up for some blackjack next Tuesday?
Wednesday January 17 2007File under:

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What a Wondrous World

The world in which we live is a pretty spectacular place filled with all sorts of wondrous things. To see some of these things, both man made and natural, are among the reasons I like to travel so much. Often, seeing pictures doesn't come close to relaying the beautiful and awesomeness as does being there in real life.

Throughout my travels, esp. when in proximity to some especially wonderful place or building, the conversation often turns to The Seven Wonders of the World. I've yet to meet someone who can name all of them (without the help of the internet). It was amidst one of these converstations that I got to thinking about the wonders of the modern world.

Well, it turns out I am not alone. Days after I had this conversation, I ran across this site on one of the blogs. It is accepting votes on what should be included on the new seven wonders list. Unfortunately it requires signing up for something which makes me think it is some promotion or something, but the concept is good and browsing the nominations is very interesting.

Perhaps the best site I've seen on world wonders is Hillman Wonders of the World. This list contains 100 wonders and is good for killing a whole afternoon's worth of productivity. I've visited to 26 of the wonders, 8 of which were in this last trip. How many have you been to?
Tuesday January 16 2007File under: travel, links

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Still Cold

For anyone that lives or has spent a winter in either the midwest or the northeast, you can pretty much discount this post. Us northwesterners have a slightly different sense of cold. So when it snows (for the second time in a winter!) and there is still ice on the roads 4 days later, that is something of note. So I shall note.

Billy the snowman still guards our front door, although he has already started his eventual journey to the ground. He is also missing a face, for which I put the blame on either mischievous neighbor kids or hungry crows. Our water feature (a.k.a. pond) in back of the house has some great ice on it but still keeps plodding along. The earlier heavy rains caused a bit of a flood at Smiley's Bottom which has now frozen over and turned into a great ice sliding spot. (We northwesterners don't really have ice skates as they would only get used even less than once in a blue moon.)

Luckily I'm in a place to enjoy the snow, cold, and ice how it should be. I've got nowhere to go (and even if I did, my car isn't agreeable to taking me). The cold even makes some things better. Last night, for example, I had the pleasure of a dip in a hot tub under the clear cold sky. A scandinavian style roll in the snow made it that much more refreshing.

So to Jack Frost, I say this: Keep up the good work!
Sunday January 14 2007File under: misc

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Billy the Snowman

What a couple of good looking fellas, eh? Sure, one looks a little weird and is giving a bit of a goofy smile, and sure, one of them is made of snow, but still...

Jack Frost graced Anacortes with a beautiful blanket of snow today. The little kid in me (which accounts for about 95%) couldn't help but be giddy. I've got nowhere to go so let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Since the temperature is hovering right around freezing (and maybe even a little over), the snow is perfect for packing. It took only 20 minutes or so to put my masterpiece together. If the weather turns warm tomorrow, I'm prepared to build a tent and an elaborate chill tunnel from the fridge to keep Billy around.

Oh, and for some size perspective, try this one.
Thursday January 11 2007File under: pics

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Snowboarding (a.k.a Shralping the Gnar)

My first and foremost goal for my long anticipated day on the slopes was to not get hurt. I'm happy to report mission accomplished.

For the first time in 10 years, I strapped myself to a narrow board (courtesy of Heavy Chevy) and paid a bunch of money to let gravity have its way with me. I've been wanting to go up to the mountain for the last 3 years or so, but something always seems to come up. Work, weather, deserted pacific islands - it's always something. Now that I am unemployed, I hardly have an excuse.

Jule and I drove up to Mt. Baker to find a morning's worth of beautiful weather, decent snow, and exremely uncrowded slopes. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could ride almost as well as I could last time I was up 10 years ago. I guess it is just like riding a bike (at much greater speeds with less control in a much colder environment.) I was so pleased, in fact, I may have to try it again. And this time, I might not wait 10 years.
Tuesday January 9 2007File under:

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The Joys of Owning an Old Car

I own an old car. I'm proud of that fact. Marilyn has 309,811 miles on her and I would love to see her go further. But along with the pride of owning an old car comes the, well, let's call it adventure.

Let me share with you the adventure Marilyn has taken me on the past week or so. Firstly, I had to reawaken her from her 4 month slumber, which took some doing: two trips to the gas station on bike to bring back some fresh fuel, reinflating a flat time, and 3 jump starts. (Oh and the rear passenger door has now decided it doesn't want to open, so I am down to just the one functioning door.) Anyhoo, I get her up and running and take her out to stretch her legs. While approaching a friend's house, I down shift in preparation for the big hill. This, for some reason, triggers the radio, which normally just fades on and off from time to time, to kick into seach mode. Hmm...

In anticipation of the car not starting, I park headed down a hill. (Any old-car owner knows this trick.) While climbing across the front seat to get out of the car, my foot must have knocked the gear level out of park, because I suddenly find myself rolling (at a steadily increasing rate) down the hill towards a garden with my body half out of the passenger door. I quickly dive back across the seat and slam my hand on the break pedal. I guess that proves the e-brake doesn't work.

All it took was rocking my way out of the mud and just one more jump start to get us both home in one piece. I foresee some quality time under the hood in my future.
Monday January 8 2007File under: transportation

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