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  • 11/08/15--17:21: Schmupdate
  • Yesterday was our fifth anniversary. The anniversary of our formal ceremony we had when we became domestic partners, two years after we met, and two years and change before marriage equality came to Washington state, at which point we got married the first day it was allowed. We decided to celebrate at our neighborhood bar, and will probably do a nice dinner out sometime this week.

    We visited Garrett's parents today. Bella was being her usual impish self.

    Where"d she go?

    Some recent cuteness from Steve.

    Cozy af
    Chillin" like a villain

    I put a bird feeder/cat TV in the window recently but we haven't seen any birds just yet. I hope they discover it soon.


    Saw these at Dollar Tree the other day. They really have everything there.

    This store has everything.

    Did I post this before? The neighborhood cat we call Janet loves to sit outside and torment Sam and Steve.

    Neighborhood cat Janet, such an asshole.

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  • 11/10/15--05:04: Hillin' and Chillin'
  • The main thing that's lacking in my walking options when the gulch isn't available is that they're mostly too flat. The gulch is good for climbing around a lot, and that's what I feel is most beneficial. One place I can go is the road that leads to the Boeing Recreation Area. It's not as nice, since it's a walk on the side of the road, but it's a climb nonetheless. So I went.

    As you drive in, you go down a big hill and back up another, so by parking and walking back out the way I came, I have the option to climb twice. I got down to the lowest part and was just in the mood for one climb, so I turned around and came back up instead of climbing up, down, and back up.

    Yesterday"s awesome walk, 2.78 miles in 56 minutes, 5,970 steps, 263ft gain
    2.78 miles in 56 minutes, 5,970 steps, 263ft gain

    The area runs alongside the Eastern portion of the gulch, and I couldn't resist popping in for a look.


    But it was extremely hard to even get in, as every path was very muddy and lots of them were also covered with tons of wet leaves.


    So I jumped back off the trails, did an extra lap around the ballfields for more distance, then walked over to the fancier part of the trail that's got all the woodchips.


    When the whole thing was over, I wished I'd taken that second climb. Mondays are sometimes creaky and sore days for me, though, and it's ok to ease back into the week.

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  • 11/10/15--14:57: Island life
  • I looked out the window when I woke up and saw tons of thick fog, and reflexively thought, Spencer Island. It and the Langus Riverfront Park have been where I've spent so many foggy mornings recently, and it's also an ideal destination right now. It opens early, it's safe in the dark, and a lot of the path over there is paved. And the most important thing for me is that it's isolated. I like walking by myself and having the whole place to myself, and it's pretty rare that I see anyone else over there.

    It was too dark to see much as I pulled in, but it didn't take long for the light to arrive. And the fog I'd seen when I got up was long gone.


    This is a good route, and it's just about the length that I like for a routine walk, but I think I'll modify it a bit so I don't have to walk over the grassiest area, which is just before the 3-mile mark. My feet got a little too wet today, and that leads to blisters.

    Today"s awesome walk, 4.55 miles in 1:26, 9,793 steps
    4.55 miles in 1:26, 9,793 steps

    I was just lamenting the lack of really good sunrises due to all the cloud cover we've had. But then I turned around and saw a pretty decent one.


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  • 11/11/15--18:27: I made dinner
  • Salmon from frozen prepared my normal way, baked with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon zest. Tri-color roasted tiny potatoes. Broccolini prepared similarly to Melissa d'Arabian's Simple and Satifsying Broccoli. Not pictured, a wedge of lemon for squeezing on the broccolini and salmon.

    I made dinner

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  • 11/12/15--15:22: Answer for question 4498.
  • Some winning Powerball numbers on a very high payout.

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  • 11/13/15--05:32: Schmupdate
  • Yesterday and the day before were the first two days that we did the most important of my new job duties, which is testing. Going forward, the testing days will be much smoother, but as this was our first one, and various people have been on and still are on vacation, it was all a little nuts. No walks because no time, and after two super-sized days in my crappy office chair, my back is killing me. I'm definitely doing yoga later today.

    The only time I stepped away from the computer on Wednesday was for my annual exam. Unfortunately, after five months of part-time veganism, drastically-reduced sodium intake, and tons of exercise, my blood pressure isn't that much better. I've managed to get the top number down a lot, but the bottom one is still far too high. So it's time to try medication, which I started yesterday.


    I was really stressed about it after reading all the warnings, but when I posted the picture on Facebook, a surprising number of people replied that they were also taking it and nobody mentioned any terrible side effects except lots of peeing. I already pee all the time, so hopefully that won't increase too much.

    I'll definitely be taking it easy today, workwise. I just finished updating some documentation to reflect the latest of the changes we tested yesterday. It's a good day to be coming off of a couple of extra-long days, as I have several errands. At 7:15, I'll get some blood drawn at the doctor's office. I'm choking down black coffee right now because that's all I can have. Gross. I also need to go to the post office because I sold my old Utilikilt on eBay last night. Not sure how much I paid for it back in the early 2000s, but I looked at their site on and they were going for $100-140. I sold it for $128, which is awesome.

    I have another appointment this afternoon, but that'll be covered later. Mostly I'd like to just lounge around; I'm channeling the boys yesterday on the heated floor.


    I'm excited to report that I'm basically debt free, for the first time in ages. There's about $60 on one credit card, and the amount that I got paid for the kilt will cover my Paypal balance. My credit score is also very awesome right now, too. Priority #1 for spending is a new office chair, for sure. I'd like to just order one on Amazon so I don't have to go find one and get it home, but I'm worried about buying one without trying it out first.

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  • 11/13/15--05:35: SchadenFriday

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    It was to re-do my hair color!

    Hair update.

    It was pretty blonde before and now it's a nice, almost bluish type of silver. I wanted go to a little darker now that my roots are showing a bit, and this isn't as dark as I had in mind, but I really like it. I can go back in a couple more weeks for something darker.

    I never got around to the yoga, but it was a very productive day. I shipped off the kilt I sold, dropped off the checks to roll my retirement plan over to the new financial investor, and even stopped by Staples and bought a new office chair. Plus there was the hair appointment, and then a handyman visit. He'll be back, hopefully soon, to install our microwave that Best Buy decided they couldn't install for us recently. It'd be great to have that done before Thanksgiving.

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  • 11/14/15--07:17: CATURDAY

  • RIP Daniel, 1999-2015

    BONUS Saturdogs

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  • 11/15/15--09:23: Back to basics
  • My love affair with bagels began in college, when an Einstein Bros. bagel shop opened across the street from the Southeast corner of campus. I worked on campus, which meant very long days out of the house, and it was great to be able to stop by there for a sandwich and walk out with a second bagel and cream cheese in my backpack for later. They're inexpensive, too.

    When I graduated and had my first agency job, I'd stop by another of their locations about halfway through my journey across town, have a couple of bagels with cream cheese and some coffee, then meet one of my coworkers at the gym before finally heading into the office.

    After I transferred to the Seattle office, I was happy to find that the Seattle Bagel Bakery was in the building next to our office building. I stopped by every morning after the gym for one bagel and a banana. Nothing on that bagel, during that period I just kept a jar of flavored peanut butter at my desk.

    Later, when I was unemployed and broke, I visited a friend who worked at Noah's bagels just about every day. I ordered a Lox and Chives Egg Mit on an onion bagel, toasted, with tomatoes, onions, capers, and cheddar, plus another sweet bagel with cream cheese. She was pissed that Noah's corporate refused to put a tip line on the receipts for credit card payments, so she always rang me up for the price of a single plain bagel. I paid with a $5 bill, and tipped her the $4+ in change. It was a great system we had worked out.

    Fast forward a few years. I still didn't really know how to cook, but I at least wasn't broke any more. I started to get extremely adventurous with bagels, and documented the whole thing here. Here are some highlights from the flickr set, which now has 135 pictures! Holy shit!

    BagelMr Bento 6Bagel

    Bagels have definitely been vilified in this carb-fearing society, but I certainly was thinner back when I ate two a day. I was also much younger, so there's that. I definitely need to have them more often, though. I'm not sure who supplies the ones they sell at WinCo, but they're amazing. I bought a dozen this week.

    Lox and bagels is one of my favorite meals of all time. They're such a pain to put together, but always so worth it. For those who aren't familiar, these onion bagels have cream cheese, capers, lox, red onions, tomatoes, salt and pepper, plus a wedge of lemon for squeezing. Perfection.

    Lox and bagels. Very labor intensive, always worth it.

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  • 11/16/15--17:22: Brrr
  • Today was my first day out walking again since early last week, but I remembered before heading out that I'd been pretty cold. Not quite cold enough to switch to my winter tights, but cold enough to add a long-sleeved shirt under my hoodie. I always hold out as long as possible for those winter tights, because they're pretty annoying. Tight as all get out, and much less flexible than the others. They're warmer, for sure, but that warmth comes at a cost.

    I wanted to see today how much distance I could cover if I did the "bra" route but doubled back every time I encountered wet grass. When I arrived, I saw that there was going to be a pretty decent sunrise because the sky was mostly clear, so I headed straight East instead of doing the Western loop first.

    Today"s awesome walk, 3.46 miles in 1:09, 7,436 steps
    3.46 miles in 1:09, 7,436 steps

    As is typically the case, things didn't go quite as planned. I was going to go to point A on the map, then turn around and go to point B and turn around. All the wooden bridges were very slippery, almost is if they were iced over, so I gave up when I got to the longest one. Just before I got to the path that heads East on the way back, another guy headed out that way, and it would have been awkward if I followed so close. But I didn't feel like I missed out on much, since I was just skipping four more slippery bridge crossings. And I still got to enjoy a nice sunrise.


    I expected to drive into this bank of fog on my way home, but that never materialized.


    One last shot on the way out of the mountains and their smaller copycats.


    I'm glad I take so many pictures, because today I reached for my phone and realized it was gone. My gloves had been making it harder to put my phone in my shorts pocket, so I was trying to use the pocket in my hoodie instead. It's definitely not a good enough pocket for that phone, as it managed to pop out when I stepped off the trail for a pee break. But thankfully it wasn't long before I realized what had happened, and I knew exactly where to go to find it. Shorts pocket only.

    Another odd thing from this morning: as I headed East on the first part of the walk on the road that I normally only walk West on, I noticed that it appeared to be foggy over the Southernmost part of the waste water treatment plant. Then I realized, no, it's just that the water is warm, and steamy. And the steam was drifting across the road, and I had to walk through that. Normally you can just smell it and that's gross enough, but being able to see the stink you're about to walk into is a whole different experience. Bleh.

    It's colder right now than it's been in a long time. 43 degrees and the floor down here in the basement is very cold. Nothing else bothers me, but my feet are freezing. Thankfully I have a heating pad that's just big enough for the footrest on the recliner.

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  • 11/17/15--12:59: WindWatch 2015
  • There was a severe weather warning for wind today. From 5am onward, we're to expect winds up to 60mph, though I've heard 70mph as well. We live in the woods and the trees around here are very tall, so we're highly likely to have a power outage. I got a new tank of propane yesterday, so we can cook using the bbq out on the deck if need be. We specifically chose one with a side burner because it'll be super handy when we need to cook or even boil water. No need to use the entire grill for a small job. There have been a couple of scary gusts, but nothing over about 25mph so far.

    Yesterday I thought we were out of pre-made vegan lunches after I sent one portion of roasted vegetable pasta with Garrett to work and planned to eat the other portion, so I ran to the store to grab the stuff I would need to make a Mexican-style bean and rice casserole. Like a lot of these recipes, it was pretty labor intensive, because you have to make the faux cheese sauce first. Thankfully I realized I could use the casserole dish to hold the chopped vegetables before adding them to the pan, saving me some cleanup work.

    One advantage with recipes like this is that it's not dangerous to taste the mix because there's no raw meat. As long as you remember to do it. I forgot, and I'm honestly not sure if the chili powder is used is the one called for in the recipe. My friend Paul brought corn cobs and chili powder to our July 4th party, and there was a lot of chili powder left over, so I used it. I would have added more if I'd tasted it. Which is to say the casserole came out a little bland. Not a huge problem, as I'm eating it with hot sauce and pickled red onions right now. I also wish I'd baked it longer, as it might have thickened up even more.

    If I make it again, I'll make some changes. Garrett probably picked out all the peppers, for one thing. I'm not sure what I'll replace the chopped red pepper with when I try again. It might be smartest just to be inspired by whatever's in the store. I'd also like to try a different faux cheese sauce. snatchbeast recommends this one highly, and it just sounds way better. Potato and carrot instead of onion and pepper? It just makes more sense. In fact, I think I'll try making it soon just to try it, no casserole needed.

    And finally, I wish I had a batch of faux sour cream onhand. Everything Mexican is better with sour cream.

    It turns out there are several smoky sweet potato burgers waiting in the freezer, which I found when I was putting away three portions of the casserole away. The situation wasn't as urgent as I thought. Still need to choose something else to make a batch of this week. Something that freezes and reheats well, specifically. I'm happy to report the roasted vegetable pasta does. That one's a do-over.

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  • 11/18/15--16:06: Wind aftermath
  • Our power went out for about 90 minutes yesterday afternoon, was back for a while, and then out again from 3:30 or so until 5:00am today. That made yesterday evening a little dull. Dinner wasn't easy to cook, as I did it outside on the barbecue. When we were shopping for one, we chose one with a side burner specifically for boiling water, and it's handy. I made macaroni and cheese there, and grilled some spam.


    I chose that specifically because it didn't require opening the refrigerator or freezer, which stayed nice and cold because we left them alone. Maneuvering that lantern while cooking was annoying, so I think I'll pick up a headlamp soon.

    When I checked the yards this morning, I noticed they were covered with tons of small branches and leaves, and I knew those would be a pain to clean up, but nothing I couldn't handle. I didn't notice until later that our largest tree in back lost a lot of really big branches. Too big for me to move, so we'll have to have the yard guys we use sometimes come over and cut them up with chainsaws and haul them away.

    Big tree in back lost a bunch of branches in last night"s wind.

    I'm sure they got tons of calls and texts today, and I definitely don't expect to hear back about it right away. I skipped this morning's walk figuring pretty much anywhere might be a big mess, and that ended up being for the best because I was exhausted after cleaning up outside. I cleaned the driveway with the leaf blower, and that was my first time using it. Handy device!


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  • 11/20/15--05:08: A fine mess
  • I like living in the woods a lot, but the huge windstorms we get about once a year definitely leave a huge mess behind. The main reason I don't walk in my own neighborhood is that I prefer to go where there are fewer people, but right now it wouldn't be ideal around here even if I wanted to. All the sidewalks and paths are completely covered in fallen branches, leaves, and pine needles. The busy street around the corner that leads up to the neighborhood park is especially bad. But there are no trees at the beach, so I figured a nice stroll around there would be perfect.

    Somehow even the road from the train station to the beach is trashed. Or maybe it's always been rocky like this and I'm only noticing now because of the storm.


    It was an awesomely clear morning. I love when you can see layers of clouds settling in the mountains.


    There are these large concrete areas between the beach and the railroad tracks with walls and fences partially around them. I have no idea what their purpose was. They can be really lovely, though.


    Yesterday"s awesome walk, 3.04 miles in 56:30, 6,539 steps
    3.04 miles in 56:30, 6,539 steps

    Two laps around the beach is pretty nice. Lots of time to stare at the water and mountains


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  • 11/20/15--05:10: SchadenFriday

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    I've been meaning to go to Big Gulch and see if it holds up better in bad weather than Japanese Gulch does. I should have done this sooner, because it's doing pretty well. Since I haven't been in a gulch in a while, the climb was pretty difficult. I need to keep at it so I don't lose my climbing strength, for sure. And what's great about that place is that I walk down via a regular street, so even if it'd been crappy, I could have just climbed back up the way I came.

    Today"s awesome walk, 2.8 miles in 1:04, 6,028 steps, 319ft gain
    2.8 miles in 1:04, 6,028 steps, 319ft gain

    I know I've talked a lot about thick, crazy fog here lately, but today was something else entirely. It was the first frost of the year, much colder than it's been lately, and that plus the fog I encountered as I left my neighborhood was a strange combo. Everything felt heavy and sinister, and I could tell I wasn't the only one who thought so. Everyone was driving very cautiously and nobody was in their usual hurry to head into Boeing.

    One cool treat was finally getting a glimpse at what's at the end of the access road that leads to the bottom of the gulch trail. I knew it had something to do with sewers because there are signs saying as much, but I always figured it was just some kind of fenced off area. I had no idea it was a big treatment facility, but enough leaves (and whole trees) have fallen that you get a pretty good view of it. It'd also never occurred to me to look at a satellite view. I've circled in yellow on the map above.


    The trail was in great shape. A few wet spots, but nothing like the huge mud disaster at the other gulch. A couple of trees have fallen across the trail, but nothing insurmountable.


    I don't really recommend Big Gulch if you're afraid of heights. But then again, there are tons of equally scary drops at Japanese Gulch, and the trails there aren't held up with little retaining walls or anything.


    It was cold enough today that the lawn at the park almost looked like snow, and the puddles there had a layer of ice.


    The main reason I've always liked Japanese Gulch more than Big Gulch is the extensive trail system, which provides lots of options. When you go up Big Gulch, there's one trail. It makes me sad, because there's a lot of space for more trails, they just haven't been created yet. When you get to the top, you can either leave via the park, or walk the loop, and there are a couple of places on the loop where you can exit. Totally different experience when you're used to exploring. But still, a climb's a climb, and I definitely need to spend more time in my second favorite gulch.

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  • 11/21/15--06:23: CATURDAY

  • BONUS Saturdogs

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  • 11/22/15--14:17: Ice Ice Baby
  • It's dark enough, late enough, that I decided I didn't really need to have an alarm set for this morning. It had been for 6:15, and without it, I was fully awake at 6:22. I lounged around a little more and got up to head for the riverfront. I've been annoyed with how dangerous it is to get back on the highway when driving out of there, so I figured Sunday's a great day to visit.

    It was cold enough that my defroster was losing the battle against window fog and I had to turn the fan up to the second level. That's never happened. I checked the phone's weather app when I parked and it was 27 degrees!

    "I'll look later, Clark. My eyes are frozen."

    I also saw that, even though it wasn't foggy in the parking area, I could see the edge of the fog about 100 feet away. That was pretty neat. It looked like bad special effects.

    It's definitely difficult starting out when it's cold like that, but after about 20 minutes, it's fine. Warming up a bit helps a lot. But since I started out late and since it was quite cold, I figured I'd stay off all the bridges and do either a lap around the larger loop, or get to the service road and double back for some more distance. As is often the case, I let other people make my decision. I saw what looked like a photographer setting up a tripod off in the distance on the access road, and a hunter on the bridge that leads to the island. So I turned back and had a longer walk. I'm glad that happened when it did, though, because the sun was emerging.


    Today"s awesome walk, 3.56 miles in one hour, 7,647 steps
    3.56 miles in one hour, 7,647 steps

    It's been a lovely day back at home relaxing with the cats and catching up on the DVR. The neighborhood cat we call Janet stopped by to annoy Sam and Steve.

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  • 11/23/15--04:18: Friday, I'm in love
  • I got an email from Garrett on Friday saying he had a surprise for me, and that I should get on the 2pm ferry leaving Mukilteo.

    Thank goodness for Uber. There's a bus that goes to the ferry terminal, but its scheduled arrival is at 54 minutes after the hour, once an hour. Pretty much every time I've been on an Everett bus, people who aren't in a real hurry hold everyone else up by taking their time getting on, paying, getting their kids and strollers settled, etc. If the bus was every half hour, I'd take the earlier one, but waiting around an hour just to ensure an on-time arrival is pretty annoying. I briefly thought about leaving my car at the Japanese Gulch parking area, but figured it'd be just my luck that someone would think a hiker had slipped off the trail and there would be a rescue operation. So Uber it was. And that ride was free for me. Not only did I have a nice credits balance, which I used and didn't even use up, but I still have a free ride waiting on top of those credits. I've done very well with their referral program.

    The ferry ride is only 20 minutes, so there's not a lot of time to take pictures. But I always like getting a picture of people taking pictures.

    No smoking. Yes fog.

    Garrett found us a really cool little cabin with a sunset view in Clinton, which is on Whidbey Island. He picked up wine and some groceries for breakfast, and we grabbed snacks and stuff for dinner on the way from the ferry terminal to the cabin. And the cabin is very lovely.


    The beach is right at the back wall of the patio, which has a regular fire pit, a gas fire pit, a grill, and a nice little garden off to the side.

    This will do.

    I make Garrett pose for the "G Wave" wherever we go.


    It's not called Sunset Cottage for nothing.


    Those are fresh flowers on the table, and they even left us wine! We brought that back with us to enjoy some other time.

    Hair update from the cabin:

    We had tons of bread left over from dinner, so the seagulls lucked out.

    Seagulls love him.

    It's a very long and lovely beach. I'm surprised we didn't see anyone walking by.


    The next morning was very frosty. The garden was lovely, but I suspect a lot of that loveliness will be gone soon.


    A rare reverse view of the Mukilteo Lighthouse Park from the ferry on the way back in.


    What a nice little getaway. I love living somewhere that has such awesome places less than an hour away. And having someone so awesome to go to them with.

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  • 11/24/15--05:09: Always the optimist
  • Yesterday I was thinking maybe Japanese Gulch might have had time to dry out a bit because I couldn't really remember any rain since the big storms on Tuesday. Silly me. I got there and the lower parts of the center trail that have been muddy still were. A lot more gravel there would help a lot, but I think another issue is that it's a flat area that everything above it drains to, and then there's nowhere for the water to go once it gets there.

    The rest of the center trail was fine, but I wanted to climb one or both sides as well. I got about ten steps into one side trail on the West side, and turned back because of mud and leaves. Same thing with another one heading East. At least there was a nice view of the sky once I made it to the top.


    A little trivia that I've surely mentioned before. The building in the bottom of the photo is Boeing's Everett Factory, which is the world's largest building by volume. And I just learned while looking that up that the second largest building by usable volume, Target's import warehouse, is also in Washington state.

    Since I didn't want to go back the way I came, that left only one option.

    Yesterday"s awesome walk, 4.71 miles in 1:32, 10,121 steps, 596ft gain
    4.71 miles in 1:32, 10,121 steps, 596ft gain

    I really don't enjoy that huge zig-zag, but at least it's paved.

    Yesterday was a very long day. Obviously there were breaks like this walk involved, but I started work at 4am and got home from a work meeting at 7:10pm. The drives to and from campus went pretty well thanks to the express toll lanes on I-405, but my back was still pretty sore from the car seat. Today will be a yoga day. I planned to sleep in and turned my alarm off before going to bed, but managed to wake up at 3:59 instead of 4:00 without it. Not sure why if my internal alarm clock works so well that I can't also turn it off.

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