October 30, 2007

Staying busy

While Real Estate and Lending are quiet, I am working at the parents of a friend to build a deck. I built decks for about 7 years before getting into Real Estate. There are times I miss being outside, working with my hands, creating something. Today wasn't one of those days.

I spent most of the day cutting through concrete in order to dig some footings for the deck. It took longer than expected. The first concrete saw I rented didn't work. Fortunately the rental place brought out a new one. It was some dirty, dusty frustrating work. Then there was digging!

One of the things I like about construction is seeing progress each day on a project. The first couple of days of any deck goes slowly. Tomorrow will be another limited progress day as I work on the siding and ledger while I wait for the inspector. He needs to stop by to say "Yep, those are holes" before I can pour the concrete.

October 29, 2007

Hasta Luego Bill

It was great hanging out, playing golf, and watching a terrible football game with you. Glad we had a chance to have dinner with you and Veronica on Saturday. Looking forward to seeing you again soon!

On the run again

I am training again. I am signed up to run an early Spring marathon. The weather here has been hit and miss. A week ago, I ran in the rain and earned my first set of bloody nipples. I could have done without that right of passage. Two days later on Tuesday, it was in the high 70s, a one day anomaly. We are headed toward some cooler temperatures, so the long sleeves, hats and gloves are coming out.

I recently read a book "Run Less, Run Faster". It is about the FIRST program (Furman Institute of Running& Scientific Training). The program has you running 3 days a week, with 2 additional days of cross-training. This is what I have been doing when I train in the hopes that less running will mean less chance of injury. The program makes the most of the three days of running by detailing specific paces as well as mileage. One of the days each week is speed training on the track.

I am not ready for the program this time around - I don't have enough base miles. I am hoping to try it out this summer though. The game plan (always subject to revision/sanity) is to run a marathon in February, one in May, and hopefully one in the Fall.

October 28, 2007

What would you save?

People being evacuated from the California fires often didn't have much time to pack up their house. Often when they showed up at the evacuation center, they had no idea what they had thrown into their suitcases. Along with the expected things like photos and important papers, an article lists people who grabbed their tuxedo, skateboard, concert tickets, and college dissertations.

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, going through my father-in-law's things has reminded me of the boxes and boxes of stuff that I have not opened in the last few moves. I am sure a lot of it has some sentimental meaning to me, but not having looked at it in so long, who really knows. If I were in a rush, those boxes certainly wouldn't make the cut.

Not having thought it through yet, I am sure my first instinct would be to grab:
  • The pooch and her stuff.
  • My laptop (handy, and most of our photos are there)
  • Some clothes
  • Our tent, sleeping bag and other handy camping equipment.
  • Maybe our bikes depending on the disaster.
There would be no way to grab everything important. I suppose I should try to grab some of our papers as well. One more reason to go through our stuff, walk down memory lane and get a bit more organized.

October 26, 2007

Friday's Eco-tip

My local public utility district sent a postcard offering a free low-flow shower head and faucet aerator. The shower head lowered the flow from 2.5 gal/min to 2.0 gal/min. The difference in the shower wasn't too noticeable. The wife's not too impressed with the sink aerator yet.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I turn the shower on to full-blast hot when warming up the shower. If I'm shaving, I turn on the hot water for brushing my teeth. It still takes probably 10 seconds to get mildly warm water. Instead of letting it go down the drain I've started filling up a container. Between warming up the shower and the sink for shaving, it adds up to more than a half gallon. I've been using the water to refill the toilet tank. Probably not for everyone, but the water could be used for plants, your coffee pot or your Brita water pitcher.

October 24, 2007

Reverse 911 calls help spread the word

A very clever solution is being used in San Diego to alert people during these horrific fires. The local 911 call center computers dial out recorded messages alerting residents of evacuation orders. It is a very efficient way to make sure people know when to get out. You can also register your cell phone to receive the alerts.

The city and county of San Diego have been alerting residents via home phones to evacuate in the wake of various fires for several days.

But city of San Diego residents can also register their cell phones to receive emergency alerts, such as an evacuation notice. To register, go to this Web site -- www.sandiego.gov/ohs/reverse911/index.shtml -- and enter the number, account address and personal e-mail.

The county launched Alert San Diego -- a technologically advanced version of Reverse 911 -- last month and also has the capability to contact residents via cell phone. But county officials said they have yet to set up a Web site where people can register.

-- Craig Gustafson, staff writer. Posted by Union-Tribune

A very clever solution indeed. I imagine/hope that this sort of system will be installed nationwide.

October 23, 2007

California Fires

Nothing I could write is of more importance than the safety of friends and family as they watch fire move closer and closer to their homes. One of our friends has already been evacuated, and many more are threatened. Fortunately all are safe. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Here are some sites of interest:

San Diego fire map
Santa Ana Fire map

October 19, 2007

Friday's Eco-tip

I hate waste!

Materials, time, money - resources of any kind. When I see waste it irritates me. When I look at things, my mind naturally tries to figure out how waste can be eliminated, how it can be done more efficiently. I see all resources as finite and that we have a responsibility to use them wisely. I think that every little bit helps. Every switch turned off, every piece recycled, every bit not used.

I suppose that is the basis for my green thinking. All the day to day things I do are really to reduce waste. As George Carlin says, "The planet is fine. The people are f**ed." The planet will be here long after we're gone. It is really about being responsible stewards, and saving a comfortable living environment.

Anywho, I have made it a habit to keep a travel coffee cup in my car. By using my cup I can avoid using many paper cups (I stop at a lot of coffee shops). As an added bonus, Starbucks takes $.10 off.

Some more cool news on coffee - Tully's has not only gone 100% fair trade organic on their coffee, but they have created a fully compostable paper cup. I guess normal coffee cups have a petroleum based lining to prevent leaking. The Tully's Green Cup uses a bio-plastic, corn based lining - renewable and BPI certified compostable.

So if you forget your travel mug, swing into Tully's for your cup of joe. They even have free wifi!

Updates and additions

As a follow up to my entry on Into the Wild, I figured out what the PBS show was. It is called Alone in the Wilderness and you can check it out here and here.

As a follow up to my previous entry on language, my wife reminded me that last week they were interviewing someone at work. The prospect mistakenly said ubitchwitous instead of ubiquitous. Everyone there tried desparately not to laugh. One of the people had to leave the room. She may get the job anyway.

Also, SeanH has an excellent post on his thoughts on grammer.

October 18, 2007

The death of the adverb

I was listening to a radio show the other day. People were calling in with their pet peeves regarding misuse of language. Some of the examples were:

· The use of the word irregardless instead of regardless
· Adding an ‘s’ to Fred Meyer
· Saying “I seen it” instead of “I saw it”
· Saying “I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less”

One that has always bugged me is when people leave off the ‘ly’ on adverbs. It is pretty prevalent. I saw this at Home Depot today.

It also bugs me when people say supposably and anyways.

October 17, 2007

More PRETTY! for Holly

A long walk to the bathroom

The city of Bothell has a population of about 31,000 residents, and it covers roughly 12 square miles. The odd thing about Bothell is that roughly half of the land area is in King County, the other half in Snohomish County.

A new condominium complex adds to this confusion. The county line splits the complex so that thirteen of the buildings are in Snohomish County and three in King County. Worse yet there is one building that actually straddles the line. This means that a home’s bedroom might be in a different county than the bathroom. I imagine the permit process for this building was a nightmare.

I wonder if they will get a property assessment from each county. Will the King County half be worth more than the Snohomish County half?

October 15, 2007

Some foods that are poison to Dogs

I had a friend send me an e-mail detailing how a 5 yr old lab died after eating half a canister of raisins. In general it is best to avoid giving your pets "people food", but the list below is a partial list of foods to avoid:

Chocolate - staggering, laboured breathing, vomiting, diarhea, abdominal pain, tremours, fever, heart rate increase, arrythmia, seizures, coma, death

Onions and Garlic - Hemolytic Anemia, laboured breathing, liver damage, vomiting, diarhea, discoloured urine

Grapes and Raisins: Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill a dog.

Coffee, Coffee grounds, tea and tea bags: Drinks/foods containing caffeine cause many of the same symptoms chocolate causes

Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis.

Animal fat and fried foods: Excessive fat can cause pancreatitis.

Bones: Bones can splinter and damage a dog’s internal organs.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes can cause tremors and heart arrhythmias. Tomato plants and the most toxic, but tomatoes themselves are also unsafe.

Avocados: The fruit, pit and plant are all toxic. They can cause difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart

Nutmeg: Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures and death

Apples, Cherries, Peaches and similar fruit: The seeds of these fruits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to dogs as well as humans. Unlike humans, dogs do not know to stop eating at the core/pit and easily ingest them.

Raw eggs: Raw eggs can cause salmonella poisoning in dogs. Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans and are not as likely to suffer from food poisoning, but it is still possible.

Salt: Excessive salt intake can cause kidney problems.

Alcohol, cheese, ham, liver, milk, mushrooms, moldy foods, potato peels and tuna are also listed as foods to avoid giving your dog. Best to stick with the doggie biscuits.

Dogs – not for everyone

Some people shouldn’t have dogs. I have been down at the mother-in-laws a few times in the past month. Several of her neighbors have dogs, and leave them outside at all hours, in the rain, barking. I am guessing by the pitch of the barks that these aren’t hunting or working dogs. Why have a dog as a pet if you leave them outside all the time? Dogs are social animals.

People who put ther dogs in the back of an open pickup – don’t deserve a dog.

The guys who get pit bulls or rottweilers because they fall into some manly image along with their 4 x 4’s, but don’t do anything to train or control them – shouldn’t have a dog. Like this guy. Certain breeds require more work, more activity, more training, more discipline. Many people do not think this through, and they are unable (or unwilling) to do what it takes to be a good pet owner.

October 14, 2007

Race Directors getting serious about Ipods

Running with headphones/Ipods has been against the rules at any USA Track & Field sanctioned event. Enforcement has not been very consistent. Now the no-headphones rule, No. 144.3(b), has become mandatory for sanctioned road races in 2007.

Grandmas Marathon in Duluth Minnesota warns:

Runners entering the starting area wearing headphones will be asked to surrender them, and they’ll be mailed to the runner at the race’s expense. If the headphones aren’t turned over, officials will record the runner’s race number and the runner will be disqualified. Runners seen wearing headphones on the course by race officials also will have their numbers reported.
Disqualified runners won’t be eligible for prize money or age-group awards, but they will be allowed to run the race. A disqualified runner also won’t be listed in the official race results book, although all results will be listed with the official timing company, ChampionChip Timing.

Applefest Half Marathon in Hollis New Hampshire warned:

- Runners only - "No walkers", and none of the following are allowed. No pets, baby stollers, skates, headsets earbuds, mini-speakers anywhere on or around the body. And just to be clear, that means that IPODS in any form or by any other name are not allowed. This is a safety/insurance issue and has nothing to do with a like or dislike of music. It has to do with the potential future cost of insurance and/or the possible lack of availability of insurance for our race.Runners violating this safety rule will be disqualified.

The results show that 8 runners were disqualified for using prohibited items. Not many, but I'm sure these types of lists will grow. Bringing along your Ipod is certainly not worth the risk of getting disqualified after all that training.

October 13, 2007

Into the Wild

I went to see the movie Into the Wild with my brother on Thursday. The movie is based on the book of the same name by John Krakauer, and we had both read the book a while back. The movie’s soundtrack is also done by Eddie Vedder, so that was another draw.

The movie was quite good. For those that don’t know the story, it details the life of a 23 year old that leaves the world behind after graduating college. He gives away $24,000 earmarked for his graduate degree, burns the rest of his money, abandons his car and starts backpacking/hitching his way around the western United States. He kayaks down to Mexico on the Colorado, works a farm in South Dakota, and hangs out with some modern day hippies in Arizona. Though he spends about a year bouncing around, his ultimate destination is Alaska to see the wilderness and to live off the land.

A big part of me sees the draw of this type of life. I have Thoreau’s desire to “live life deliberately” off in a cabin in the woods. I enjoy walking away from the world’s comforts and responsibilities when I can - to slow things down, to simplify things. I have particularly enjoyed my one and two week biking/camping trips, though we certainly weren’t without some of life’s comforts. As my friends consider camper trailers, I continue to resist leaving the tent life behind because I truly enjoy cooking over the fire or fighting with my 50 year old gas stove.

There was a great PBS series some years ago about a man who moves to the Alaska wilderness to see if he can make it for a year. He brought a camera along and filmed his progress as he builds a log home and lives off the land. His year-long experiment turns into a decades long way of life, as he stays there until his age and health force him to come back to society. I need to see if I can find the series on DVD. From my memory of it, the guy reminds me a bit of my father-in-law.

As I was heading out to see the movie, the wife says something like “now make sure you come back”. She understands the draw heading off to the woods has for me. It is just a dream really, but a nice one to hang on to. For now I am satisfied for my little trips into the woods, not into the wild. I’m not sure I’m ready to kill dinner just yet.

October 12, 2007

Friday's Eco-tip

This Friday's eco-tip is brought to you by Clff Bar. I need to dust off my old hybrid bike and get some panniers. There are plenty of shops within 2 miles of home.


October 11, 2007

If it ain't Bud, it ain't sh**

Coors and Miller are looking merge their U.S. operations. They are hoping this will help them compete. If the merger is approved, 80% of the U.S. beer market would be controlled by two companies.

More disturbing is that Anheuser-Busch already controls just under half the market. It is just so wrong.

It's what's on the outside that counts

Some are making a stink because Barack Obama doesn't wear a flag pin on his lapel. Now we need to spend time asking all the candidates what they think and how often they wear their pin.

Barack's response - "My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals." I would have to agree.

Oh, and Google is saluting communism.

October 8, 2007

The results are in

Bellingham Half Marathon

Sean 2:01:22
Tami 2:07:35
Wendy 2:22:08
Cherie 2:35:54

Congrats to all, and to a new half marathon PR by Tami! She shaved off 7:21 off our time at Whidbey in April.

Weather.com reports that winds were between 21-27 mph while we were running, with much higher gusts. My Polar watch recorded that we climbed about 700' as well. Great job everyone on a windy and hilly day.

October 7, 2007

An odd combination

When we were unpacking our food Friday night, these two were next to each other in one of my friend's boxes. I thought it was funny. All part of being "Team Drunken Promise".

Bellingham Half Marathon

I am the proud owner of a new half marathon PR!

It was the inagural running of the Bellingham Bay Marathon. There were a few attractive things about this run. One of our friends grew up in Bellingham, and we always enjoy hanging out at his Mom's property. Along with the marathon and half marathon, the event also had a 10k. Something for everyone! We had three people walk the 10k and four of us running the half. Plus it is always cool to do a first-time event.

We headed up Friday night, so we had Saturday to relax and get settled. The packet pickup was just that, no expo. No cool running gadgets to spend money on. We had a traditional pasta dinner and some tasty beverages. While we were having dinner, the weather turned ugly. The wind was blowing pretty hard and the rain was coming down. Lots off branches were coming down in the wind. It was not looking good for tomorrow.

In the morning, the wind was still blowing pretty hard, but the rain had subsided. We bundled up and headed down to the start line near the waterfront, and the wind was even worse by the water. A whole line of porta-potties had been blown over (not pretty). I had jumped online to check the weather, and I was pretty sure we were going to get rained on before we were done. We were all pretty bundled up. The walkers headed out at 7:30 and the runners at 8:00.

The route was nice, running through Fairhaven, along the waterfront, and up through a shwanky neighborhood before doubling back. It was relatively hilly, but mostly in the first half. We were also running into the wind in the first half, so the route home was much easier. My IT band issues resurfaced in the last 2 miles and the last mile or so was back into the wind, so the end was a little tough.

I really didn't have a definite time goal in mind. I haven't been running regularly and the farthest I had run was an 8 miler five weeks ago. The runs I have done recently have gone pretty well though, so I had some hope. Outside of the knee trouble, the day went pretty well. I kept a pretty steady pace throughout. My previous best was 2:14:56 so I was hoping for around 2:10 if all went well. I came in today at 2:01:22, so I was pretty happy. So now I'm only 3:32 from my current half marathon goal.

October 5, 2007

Another doper caught

Marion Jones has admitted to taking steroids. She began taking "the clear" before her 5 medal performance in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She claims she only found out that she was taking steroids when she stopped in 2002. She will be arrested for lying to federal authorities. Article here.

Another in a long line of disappointing stories. I apparently missed the announcement that Floyd Landis lost his hearing and is now banned for two years. I still remember watching his performance that day to snatch back the Tour de France. It was inspiring, but now tainted. I still like to believe he is innocent.

In this year's Tour, more doping was exposed. Alexander Vinokourov made a couple of "heroic" comebacks, only to be found to have doped his blood a couple of days later. Barry Bonds still hasn't confessed, so his home run record may stand.

It is to the point where any athlete that does something extraordinary is assumed to be guilty of some sort of doping. You don't want to get too excited about their performance until the tests come back.

Friday's Eco-tip

Avoid products that are packaged for single use (i.e., drinks, school lunches, candy, cat and dog food, etc.). Instead, buy in bulk and transfer the products to your own reusable containers. Many health food stores have bulk bins where they sell everything from grains to cereal to cleaning products.

Try to avoid any small packaging. Ironically, the smaller the package, the greater the waste.

October 3, 2007

Marathon Haikus

Found while surfing the net

Training ain't easy
Yet I signed up anyway...
What was I thinking?

Nursing inflamed joints
What is best form of treatment?
Yes. Ibuprofen.

Start a little slow
Keep steady pace in middle
The clock will thank you

The rabbit learns soon
The joy of meeting strangers
Passing from behind

Poor decision: I
had another glass of wine.
Dehydration sucks.

I'm at mile eighteen,
someone hands me goo on stick:
Vaseline tastes BAD!!

Fall begins

October 2, 2007

Need a RAM upgrade, or maybe a new motherboard

So I’m running around Lake Sacajawea again the other day. The running trail dips in toward the lake to pass under the bridges so you don’t need to wait for traffic. Very nice touch. The bridges are not terribly new, and the posts supporting the structure are large posts similar to pier supports. They are treated with the same chemicals and have that dock/waterfront smell. I tried to remember what the treatment was called. I kept running, kept passing under bridges, kept waiting for that sensory memory to kick in and give me the name of the treatment. Nothing.

It was a word used to know, and now it was gone. I began wondering how many other things have fallen out. More importantly, if my brain capacity is finite (it is), what information bumped out the name of the wood treatment. Was it more important or more useful than the treatment name?

I’m driving down the road the next day. A song comes on the radio that I haven’t heard in probably 10 years. I knew every word. I couldn’t even remember what the song was until the chorus rolled around, but I remembered every word.

The brain is an amazing thing, something we will probably never fully understand. How does it work, how are things stored - what to leave in, what to leave out. Why as you age does the long-term memory improve and the short-term memory degrade? Will I ever turn to my wife and ask, “Do I like this?”

P.S. the word came to me a day and a half later - creosote. The song was “Don’t Let it End” by Styx.

October 1, 2007


"Your mind is a greater limiter to what you can achieve than your body ever will be," - Mark McCampbell, Seattle, WA - from "Late Bloomers: Age is Just a Number,"

The new plates are here!

I have changed the license plates on my truck. I have had various personalized plates for the last 13 or so years. Washington has begun issuing “special design plates” which can show your support of schools, organizations and hobbies. I had been waiting until you could also personalize the plates before getting one, but the state has been dragging its feet.

So anyway, I am back to being a number, but supporting the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

This Weekend

Well the book club was a success, or as one of our readers put it, the “wine club”. We had a couple new faces that were really faces from long ago. We had a great time catching up before we repaired to dinner and then discussion of the books.

The discussion wasn’t quite as good as last time, mostly I think because people didn’t enjoy the books quite as much this time around. The Glass Castle is the memoir of some neglectful/delusional/drunk parents and their suffering children. The kids were extremely intelligent and were able to break free of the family one by one when they became juniors in high school. They grew to depend on each other early and late in life, as their parents were essentially worthless.

Many of the readers found the story irritating and frustrating, but it was a good read. In the beginning of the story, I almost found myself envious of pieces of their vagabond life. A common complaint was “why didn’t they do something”, i.e. get out of this abusive situation. I find myself thinking about what I would do, but in reality this is me thinking as a 40 year old, not as a 10 year old. Would I have the strength then to get out? The book actually deals with this pretty well when one of the daughters takes over while the mother is out of town.

The Traveler was the thriller with some “big brother” themes to it. Not the best thriller out there, but I found it pretty interesting. The technology of the book is pretty much here already. Not everyone finished the book, so the discussion was pretty limited. The book is supposed to be the first in a trilogy, and it was good enough for me to pick up the next one.

Sunday started pretty lazily (probably the wine). And it was raining. I had some things to do outside, so I checked weather.com to see how long the rain would last. The radar was green (rain) everywhere with no end in sight. So I put on my work clothes and headed out.

The first task was to clean out the bed of the truck. There were some things I had picked up from my father-in-law’s storage that I hadn’t unloaded yet. The next step was to take the canopy off of the truck for the next trip down. I have had the canopy on for over 7 years and it has never come off. I originally didn’t like getting one, but I needed it for carrying around tools for work. The wife was inside listening to a presentation on fabulous vacuum cleaner. Some neighbor kid (20 something) wanted to try out his sales technique, and the wife took pity.

So anyway, I was on my own to get the canopy off. It is a bit heavy, and of course awkward. It took some prying just to get it unstuck from the bed of the truck. Seven years of heat and weather is pretty good glue for the weather-stripping. It actually took up some paint. I crawled up under it and did my best Atlas impersonation and lifted and spun the canopy so now it was sideways on the bed. Now I had to get it down. Some towels and patience and I had it slid off and walked across the side yard. I have found I am a pretty good MacGyver when figuring out how to get something done. For a while building decks I was on my own, and you have to get kinda creative when doing things that should be a two-man job.

As I was wet already, I started trimming back one of our trees so that our yard waste can would be full for Monday’s pick up. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but the wife said it looked better than when I started. By the time I headed back in, the sales presentation was over. It had gone way over on time, something the “kid” needs to work on. True to his word though, he hadn’t tried to sell it to her - she had to ask what the vacuum cost. The wife was in no way tempted to buy the system as the price tag with all the attachments was $2,000. He will have a tough time out there