Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Do Sailors Get Drunk Before or After They Go Below the Waves?

It's time for a party down at Vasataté's castle under the sea! It's His holy day and He's really doling out the divine brew (more than on a typical day!). He's got ales, lagers, porters, stouts, hefeweizens, bitters, pilsners, and even some shirazes.

So come on down, under the waves, where everything is so much fun!

. . . and just a little bit wet.

4j-Cupecoy Caribbean Sea
Aegean Sunset
80-North Jetty Sunset Rocks

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blue Pen Went a-Walking

And so I go a-walking for a blue pen.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Last Bits of Remodeling

Dealing with contractors can be a headache, but it beats banging my head against the wall trying to do home construction ourselves.

We spent almost the entire weekend at the Pinehurst house, trying to finish it off before the renters move in May 1. The only tasks left were to install insulation and plywood in the storage room under the porch and install lights, switches, and an outlet down there, too. We went to Home Depot and Lowe's about five times over the course of the weekend, plus another trip to the King County Transfer Station to get rid of the old plywood that we decided not to use.

Reminder: 48 + 18 ≠ 86. 48 + 18 = 66.

We hired a friend of a friend to help us with the electrical work. I thought we would hire an electrician, who would know what things to buy and all that, but we ended up doing the shopping and the physical installations of everything, and all the electrically minded guy did was connect the wires.

Apparently there's a tool to find out if a wire is hot, even when the copper is not exposed. He didn't have one, though. His cutters (or rather, our cutters) discovered the wire was hot with a zap. He wasn't hurt, but the breaker tripped. The wire we thought went to a closet light and a couple outlets actually went to an electric heater.

We left at 10 p.m. yesterday, but we still need to go back and clean up all the tools and such. The storage room looks nice, now that it has clean plywood and light. I hope our renters appreciate it. I want my weekend back.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Move over, St. Patrick! Today's St. George's Day!

I haven't been to England in fifteen years, but I hear it's still nice. Right, Iris?

. . . And just to be clear, when I say the title of this post in my head, I hear the crew of Red Dwarf cheering it loudly to the newly-undead McIntyre. Just to be clear. . .

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Excuse Me?

Excuse me a minute, but I need to go take a cello to Lincoln.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

It Wasn't Snowing in Canada

On Saturday, we took a little drive up north, finishing off I-5 and taking in a dayhike to Fragrance Lake on Chuckanut Mountain.

2-Peace Arch Wait
It was sunny in Canada, and yet everybody was trying to get into the United States.

When I told the Canadian border guard about having just finished driving I-5 in Washington State, he seemed suspicious of the whole affair. He let me into Canada, though, and gave me directions for a quick turnaround. The US border guard, on the other hand, didn't seem suspicious at all, although I'm not sure he fully comprehended what I was telling him. His last question was: "Are you on vacation?" My reply: "No, just a day trip."

3-Chunlin Peace Arch Prov Park
We walked around a bit in Peace Arch Provinical Park.

12-Boundary Marker United States
And then drove back into the United States.

Next stop, Larrabee State Park, south of Bellingham. It was Washington's first state park, when a Mr. Larrabee granted the land to the state. We thank you, Mr. Larrabee.

18a-Jack Island Ch(Chunlin's photo)

The trail to Fragrance Lake had a brief offshoot to a lookout over Samish Bay and to the San Juan Islands. I think that's Orcas hidden in the clouds.

20-Mark Chunlin Larrabee Lookout St
A kind young man from Western Washington University took our photo for us.

21-Fragrance Lake Outlet
After two miles and 1000' gain (we're starting small this year), we arrived at Fragrance Lake. Small, but looked deep enough to swim in . . . if it wasn't cold enough to snow.

26-Fragrance Lake Snow
Oh look. Snow.

Let's play a game:
25-Fragrance Lake Flower Reflection
Name! . . . that! . . . flower!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Last Saturday. . .

Remember the summer last week?
77-Mark Mt Rainier Ch

69-Chunlin MV Kaleetan

90-Downtown Seattle Reflection

65-Sun Japanese Maple

74-First Quarter Moon

85-Mt Rainier Puget Sound

60-Fountain Volcano 2 Kids

Ah, those were the days. More photos on flickr and flickr.

Oh, Bugger.

I guess we won't get a summer this year, after all.

Tulips Snow

Pink Flowers Snow

Pink Tree Snow

Or at least, we won't have a summer if we get a big volcanic eruption in the next couple of months.

Pretty snow on the flowers, though!

Update: 1.5 inches at 10 p.m., Friday, April 18, 2008. Channel 13 News showed 8.5 inches in Everett, though, so I guess we got off easy.
April Snow 1.5"

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Subdivision, part 4

Once I got through the initial layer of bureaucracy, things moved pretty quickly. Someone actually went out to the house on Monday to do the Site Visit.

We got her report in the mail yesterday. It was a bit cryptic, but as far as I can tell, the only thing missing on our survey/siteplan is the driplines of all trees over 6" in diameter (whether on our lot or overhanging), with common and scientific names.

The surveyor hadn't heard of the dripline requirement in his years of subdivision surveys for Seattle, but he's willing to add them. He doesn't know tree names, however. Pedicularis, what did you say the trees in front are?

I called DPD several times today to get confirmation that this is all we indeed need to do, but didn't get much information. I left lots of voicemail messages, all of which have been unreturned.

When I actually spoke to someone, I scheduled an Intake Appointment for May 6 (the first week they have available).

Now if I can only get someone at DPD to tell me where I can find the Intake Appointment form. . .

Monday, April 14, 2008


When the cat starts pawing at the carpet at your feet, you can safely assume that you dropped something small and shiny.

Weekend Trip to Bremerton

On Saturday, Chunlin convinced me to take the ferry to Bremerton to go see the condos that will be auctioned off next Sunday. The condos were okay, but we're not going to buy one. Negative cash flow, even at the opening bid.

What made the trip worthwhile, however, was the beautiful sunny day crossing the sound:

2-Ferry Dock Flag WaMu

8-MV Puyallup

12-Seattle Downtown Ferries Bird

18-Seagull Side

22-Two Seagulls

23-Seagull Headturn

29-Downtown Seattle Sailboat

30-Mt Rainier Puget Sound

37-The Brothers Sailboat

I've posted more photos on flickr and flickr, but I don't have the whole day there yet. Just our first crossing. Soon, though, the rest of the trip will be posted. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Subdivision, part 3

As I said, I took a trip to Seattle's Department of Planning and Development today.

I stood in line at the "triage" counter, which didn't take too long. She apologized that no one responded to my faxes (and checked that I had the correct fax number), took my form, and told me it would take about a half hour to get me a project number, after which I would go to the cashier and pay my fee, then return the form to the triage counter.

I thought to myself, "How can it possibly take thirty minutes to generate a project number?" Little did I know.

I took a seat.

Forty-five minutes later, I got back in line. Once at the counter again (now an hour after I first arrived), I was told that the woman handling these forms had been at lunch and that it would only be ten or fifteen more minutes.

I took a seat.

After twenty minutes, I short-circuited the triage line. The woman running the counter apologized and disappeared to the back office to check on the forms (apparently others had also been left high and dry by the unseen woman). The desk woman returned and told me that I needed to fill out a Preliminary Application form because they didn't have my contact information.

This was complete nonsense. Not only was my contact information on the Site Visit form, but the first page of the Preliminary Application form quite clearly states that the form is not required for subdivisions!

The desk woman said she didn't know anything about that, and went back to helping the next person in line while I filled out the unnecessary Preliminary Application form.

At this point, I was ready to start breaking things.

I stood near the triage desk, waiting.

About one and a half hours after I first arrived, a woman from the back office (probably the one who went on lunch break, but I'm not certain) emerged and handed a form back to a woman who had also been waiting for well over an hour. She then came up to me and told me that since I wasn't in their system, she needed the Preliminary Application form to get my contact information. I pointed out that the information was on the Site Visit Request form. She said I didn't have to be rude and, "I'm only trying to help you."

Funny way of helping, if you ask me.

She took the Site Visit Request form back, now that I'd pointed out the contact information on it, and turned to leave. I stopped her and handed her the Preliminary Application form as well, since I'd gone to the trouble of filling it out.

She disappeared.

I stood and waited.

I took a sheet of paper from a pamplet display and began folding and refolding it neatly, and then I tore it to shreds. I threw it in the garbage can.

I stood and waited.

I took another sheet of paper and began folding and refolding it neatly.

The woman from the back office finally returned and gave me my form and the page to give the cashier. Despite all the words I wanted to say to her, I held my tongue. Perhaps the silent treatment was a bit petty, though.

I threw the pamphlet paper in the garbage on my way to the cashier. With a smile, I paid my $100+ fee. The cashier gave me my receipt.

I returned to the triage desk, but nobody was there (except the five people in line). That was okay, though, since I had to go back to the cashier to get her to stamp my Site Visit Request form (which I had set on her desk when I handed her the check, but she hadn't asked for it). Back to the triage desk I went, just as the desk woman came back. I handed her the form and left.

Two hours total.

And it should have taken two minutes . . . over the phone . . . a week ago.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Subdivision, part 2

Apparently, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development's fax machine feeds directly into the recycle bin. (It wouldn't be the garbage can; this is Seattle, after all.)

A week ago Thursday, I faxed in a Pre-Application Site Visit Request form, after having been told that a cashier would call me back shortly thereafter to arrange credit card payment over the phone. After I didn't receive a call by Monday, I called them. DPD is not very good at answering their phones. I called them again on Tuesday, actually got to speak with someone, and ended up faxing the same form again.

Now, a couple days later, I've still received no call from the cashier. The cashier's office doesn't have it on their stack. And, of course, the DPD Applicant Services Center doesn't return my phone calls.

It looks like I'll have to go visit them in person tomorrow. A week-plus wasted.

When they said this subdivision process would take six to eight months, I didn't realize that half of that would be waiting for them to acknowledge my existence.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Fly, Fly Away

Mt Rainier Lake Meridian
There's a nice view of Mt Rainier from Lake Meridian, don't you think?

Mt Rainier Hills
And from further up the hills. . .

Seatac Prop
Oh, and here's part of the plane I flew to Spokane in.

And just for kicks, here's a few pictures that Chunlin took from the car last weekend:
8-Columbia River Stella Ch
10-Lake Sakajawea Park Ch
13-Lewis and Clark Bridge Ch
26-Wet I-5 Ch
27-Seattle Downtown Ch

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Rollercoasters and a Sunset

Remember my business trip to Minnesota a couple weeks ago?

Didn't think so.

In any case, here are some photos from the second/final day.

11-Food Court Roller Coaster
This is at the Mall of America, where you can eat your lunch and lose your lunch, all without leaving the room.

14-Roller Coaster Twist

I think it was above freezing, but Minneapolis-St Paul Airport takes no chances. We had de-icer truck #13.

30-I-494 @ Pilot Knob Rd
I-494, not too far below...

32-Minnesota Clouds
Much of the flight was in/over clouds. Most weren't this pretty, though.

34-Fredonia Lakes North
Some lakes in North Dakota. When does spring start, again?

38-Lake Oahe Missouri Riv
The upper end of a reservoir on the Missouri River.

48-Big Salmon Lake
A wilderness area in Montana, peeking through the clouds.

Have you ever been to Spokane?

How about Mansfield?

58-Mt Dickerman
You've hiked Mt Dickerman, haven't you? If not, you should. It's a great dayhike.

62-Port Madison Sun
Back by Puget Sound, we start to land.

68-Downtown Seattle
Seattle fly-by!

I've posted more photos on flickr, flickr, flickr, and flickr (separated by location, of course!).