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  • 03/02/16--09:38: I went to the mothership
  • Unfortunately, the tour was expensive and too long, so we didn't do it. Got
    some cool stuff I'll share later, though.

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  • 03/03/16--18:49: I like this island
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  • 03/04/16--06:01: SchadenFriday

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  • 03/05/16--06:01: CATURDAY

  • BONUS Saturdogs

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  • 03/06/16--09:55: Goodbye, bitchin rental
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  • 03/07/16--15:57: Vacation highlights - Kona
  • Obviously I took tons of photos and videos while we were gone. You can see them all at my flickr set, but here's a selection.

    My room in Kona. The house we rented was really cool. Four bedrooms and two bathrooms on the main floor, plus a little bedroom/bathroom suite with its own entrance. That room was a little musty, so we only used it the first night when we needed all five rooms. Garrett and I chose the two rooms connected by a bathroom, which worked out nicely. I really liked the little sitting area outside of mine.


    On Sunday, the first full day, I set out with my oldest friend and his wife who I finally met for the first time. We had lunch with my cousin who I hadn't previously met who showed us some interesting spots on the Hilo side of the island.


    Our ultimate destination was Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Our timing was good, because we got to see the steam vents, the lava tube, an overlook trail, and still got to the volcano before it was dark. It's best to see it then and watch the view get brighter as the sky gets darker.


    It's a long way back to Kona from the volcano, but thankfully we were able to find a nice buffet in Hilo about an hour before it closed.

    The next morning, we were visited by one of the neighborhood feral cats.


    There's a big bird feeder at the house, so there are always tons of finches around.


    The main activity that day was a visit to a coffee farm, which we visited in 2010, but I could swear I took some photos anyway. But I don't see any. We had dinner that night at Lemongrass Bistro, which I'd go to quite often if I lived in the area.

    Our final full day on the big island was a deja vu for me, because I showed Garrett and our friend Melissa some of the same stuff my cousin showed me on the first day, and then we went up to the volcano.

    I recommend the place where we stayed highly. You have to put all your food in the fridge or a sealed container due to ants, but that's going to be the case in probably any house around there. As this was our second trip to Kona, it's not high on my list, but there are still things I'd like to do there. Specifically, a nighttime visit to the observatory, and a trip to the seahorse farm.

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  • 03/08/16--04:55: Vacation highlights - Kauai
  • After a few days with friends at the Kona Treehouse, we headed over to Kauai for a few days to ourselves. Long story short, we've now been to Oahu, Kona, and Kauai, and Kauai is our favorite of the three.

    Our condo there was in a really awesome location with tons of restaurants and bars within walking distance, and an awesome view.


    The first morning, I found a beach chair behind the resort next door to watch the sunrise.


    The view of this lighthouse was spectacular, but unfortunately the area is under construction and we couldn't go all the way to it.


    We never found Puff the Magic Dragon, but Hanalei is stunning even without him.


    There's a botanical gardens tour, which is expensive and runs kinda long, but why do that when you can play miniature golf in there to play through instead?


    The highlight of the entire trip, by far, was our charter to the Napali Coast. It's a pretty good deal. For $150 or so, you go out on a boat and are served breakfast, lunch, and beverages, plus free beer, wine, and mai tais as you head back. We stopped for an hour to do some snorkeling on the way out to the coast, and saw tons of dolphins and even a couple of whales, one of which jumped all the way out of the water and flipped over.


    The Napali Coast is stunning. You've probably seen it in lots of movies.


    Glass Beach is next to the boat tour company's office, and is completely covered with old broken bottles that have been worn down to the size of gravel. There's also a cemetery next door.


    Waimaea Canyon is their equivalent to the Grand Canyon, but I like it better because when you leave it, you're in Hawaii instead of Arizona.


    We did another coffee farm tour. This one's neater than the one we did in Kona because they've created a nicer gift shop and have a walking path you can take a tour on, but also have the self-guided option.


    Kauai is really great. We had amazing food and tons of fun, and there are wild chickens everywhere. I'd go back any time.

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  • 03/09/16--13:28: Back at it
  • It's been very nice to hang out with the cats again.


    I'm so tired, though. It all started the last morning of the trip. About 90 minutes before the time the alarm was set for, I woke up to the sound of someone either next door or downstairs pounding. That was the intended purpose of the sound, though. I was snoring like crazy and they were trying to wake me up. I never fell back asleep that day, but was still up until 1am our first night home because we'd been staying up later on the vacation, and Hawaii is two hours earlier. I'm slowly inching toward a regular schedule, but still feel like my sleep isn't all that great.

    Yesterday was especially weird. I nodded off while we were watching TV in the afternoon. That kind be kind of refreshing, but it's always unnerving because I wake up choking again and again when I fall asleep sitting up. It went on for quite a while this time, and when I woke up, I felt even more tired than before. And for a couple of hours after that, I kept feeling like I might fall right back asleep any moment. That was the final straw. I decided to finally check into sleep apnea solutions and sent a message to our dentist's office, which also specializes in it.

    I should have done it years ago, but it's one of those problems I didn't feel like escalating until it bothered me more. I tried sleeping with a strap to keep my mouth closed once, and couldn't stand the way it felt, so adding a bunch of other straps and a loud machine didn't sound great. But I've heard nothing but great things about CPAP from most of my friends who have on, and the dentist has other options that might be a little less severe.

    Another reason I haven't gotten around to investigating the options is the expense, so I specifically used the "question about insurance" dropdown on the dentist's web form and asked them to investigate whether it's eligible for coverage if I go through them first.

    Today was the "wake up and hunker down and get tons of work done" kind of day we do about once a month, so I worked straight through and finished all that before lunch. I briefly thought about having a swim or a walk, but decided I'd probably feel better if I just relaxed and worked on the DVR backlog this afternoon. I got a nice swim in yesterday morning, so the week isn't a total workout wash just yet.

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  • 03/10/16--15:54: From the bubble to the flood
  • Our neighborhood is carved out of a hilly area in a forest. It's great living here, and the trees really shield us from the worst of the weather sometimes. It rained really hard all day yesterday, but that never concerns me since the house is on a hill and the street also has quite a bit of a slope. I looked down at the street as I closed the blinds last night and there was quite a stream raging past the bottom of the driveway. My only thought at the time was, if I walk in the morning, it should be somewhere paved.

    My left shoulder was a little stiff for the second morning in a row, probably from sleeping wrong. Swimming didn't sound very fun, so I headed out for a walk at Spencer Island/Langus Riverfront Park. I regretted that decision almost as soon as I pulled out of the neighborhood, because it was extremely windy. Was it windy the whole morning and I just didn't notice because of all the trees? Or did it happen to pick up as I pulled out? I have no idea. But I didn't feel like turning back, taking off all my gear, and getting dressed again in regular clothes.

    There are signs on the roads leading into the park warning that the roads may flood, but I'd never seen that happen until today. I didn't see the situation with the river right away because I decided to park in the lot I recently found on the access road. When I arrived, I saw that it was higher than I'd ever seen. It occurred to me that the path might be flooded and inaccessible, and I was right.


    So, I turned back and walked past my car toward the island. It was pretty disturbing to see the water all the way up to the bottom of the bridge that I've seen people pass under in boats before.


    This area is usually a marsh with a trail leading pretty far out to some bird watching spots. Today, it's a lake.


    With all the wind and rain, I figured it'd be a good day to follow the trail that heads North that people hunt from, since it wouldn't be a great day for hunting. I could tell in a few spots that the water had come all the way up to that level before receding.


    Looks like nobody will be using the benches for a while.


    The trail that leads to the boardwalk and more bird watching spots was flooded, and those spots were almost completely submerged.


    I wanted to follow that land bridge in the photo above, but couldn't get too far.


    The water treatment plant was pretty stinky today, but at least there was a nice rainbow above it.


    Today"s awesome walk, 3.9 miles in 1:15, 8,390 steps
    3.9 miles in 1:15, 8,390 steps

    I'm glad I was able to get almost four miles in even though I had to keep turning back. And it turns out that our neighborhood isn't completely safe from the wind, either. I had to turn back when I tried to leave to get some lunch because a cherry tree at the end of the street had fallen and was blocking the way. That was a bummer, because I needed to pick up some forms from our financial adviser, and was really craving some banh hoi. On my third attempt to leave, enough of the (former) top of the tree had been taken off to allow people to drive around, and when I eventually had finished lunch at the errand, it was cleared completely. Here's the banh hoi I eventually got.

    Banh hoi achieved.

    And just because it's looking so great, here's a picture of our air plant. I love it and I'm somewhat tempted to buy four or five more.

    Air plant update

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  • 03/10/16--19:47: Article 0

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  • 03/11/16--06:00: SchadenFriday

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  • 03/12/16--06:00: CATURDAY

  • BONUS Saturdogs

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  • 03/13/16--10:18: A story in three parts

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  • 03/14/16--11:55: Back into darkness we go
  • Most of my life I was never too bothered by Daylight Saving Time, but this year in particular, I'm having trouble with the transition. I already spent all week having trouble sleeping, then having trouble staying awake, only to find myself mostly adjusted when I went to bed Saturday night. Womp womp. Decided to just sleep in Sunday and go for a swim this morning since it'd be pitch black out. It's a real bummer to lose an hour's worth of progress we've made toward brighter morning walks.

    I also swam Friday afternoon, which was a pretty different experience. Completely different set of people, naturally, but no huge groups of athletes like in the morning. Today when I got there, all ten lanes were in use. Thankfully, I only had to wait about ten minutes in the hot tub before a group of US Champions left, presumably because they had to head to school.

    On Friday when I was taking my gear off, I broke the clip that held the snorkel to the mask. I decided to look into other types of snorkels first before looking for replacement parts, because I've never liked the way having the snorkel attached to the side of the goggles constantly pulls on them. Thankfully, while I was searching on Amazon, I found a new kind I didn't previously know existed: center-mount snorkels.

    I would have bought this one, but I agreed with the reviewer who pointed out that the 138 5-star reviews are clearly gaming the system. Not wanting to reward a company who would send out tons of free stuff in exchange for "honest" reviews, I bought a similar one made by Speedo.


    I also haven't been happy with my nose plugs, I also picked up a replacement for those. The kind that pinches your nose shut doesn't work very well on me because I have a very wide nose and oily skin. In order to keep it on at all, it has to pinch very hard, and it still slowly creeps up, at which point it just becomes another thing pressing against my goggles and messing up the seal. I found another one that goes up the nostrils instead.

    Shoving two large silicone ovals up your nose isn't comfortable by any means, but it doesn't hurt as much as the pinching did. I also found that the seal isn't quite as tight, but I was able to blow air out my nose once in a while to even things out. All in all, I had a really great swim today. The new snorkel has an open top instead of a filter that flips closed if you go underwater, and I found it easier to get a lot more air. And since it straps to the forehead, I was able to keep it in place with very little effort. Rather than having to bite down all the time, the it stayed in place pretty with tension against my upper teeth. That was nice.

    My next task is to find the best way to keep my goggles from fogging up. I'm hoping to find a trial size of baby shampoo at the store first. There are products specifically made for keeping goggles fog-free, but lots of reviewers complain about eye irritation. And of course tons of people swear by hacking up phlegm, smearing it around the lenses, and then rinsing them, but that's just not dignified at a public pool. I'm doing a full hour now when I do laps and it'd be nice to not have to stop several times to rinse out the goggles. Having to stop to let my sinuses drain a bit at least once may not be avoidable. I'd love to be able to use a mask that covers my nose, but that would require some facial hair loss I'm just not willing to endure.

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    I've mentioned several times that the trees in our neighborhood really protect us from the brunt of the major windstorms. But they always end up a little worse for the wear. Our big tree in the back corner lost a couple more branches this time around. You can see a circle for every branch that's gone, and the two groups of two that are darker at the top are the most recent casualties.



    It doesn't look like too much from those two photos, but I spent an hour this afternoon picking up the branches so the lawn can be mowed this week. We use landscapers when the lawn's wet so that Garrett doesn't have to deal with repeatedly cleaning the wet grass out of the mower, and I don't know what day they'll come, so it just had to be done today. And then Garrett can put down some desperately-needed moss killer. You can see little patches of yellow peeking through, but the moss is only hidden so well because the grass is way too long.

    Yard work is exponentially more annoying when a cat is relaxing and watching you do it.

    It"s so fun when a cat relaxes in the window while I do yard work.

    I'd seen all those branches the last few days and knew Japanese Gulch would be a mess, so I set out this morning for a quick climb up to the top via the tracks and back. All the side trails were quite tempting, but I didn't bother because I wasn't in the mood to be disappointed by all the mud and fallen trees. It was still a nice walk, though.

    Here's why I like to walk there in the morning.


    If it was the afternoon and a train might come along, the path alongside the tracks isn't an option. It carries extra-wide loads (15 feet wide!) to Boeing and there's nowhere to go if a train should come. I know from the one time I saw one that they go very slowly and are watching for people, but I'd hate to be the guy they wait for as I walk a quarter mile before the next place you can get out of the way. It just drops off until then.

    Today"s awesome walk, 3.59 miles in 1:10, 7,709 steps, 396ft gain
    3.59 miles in 1:10, 7,709 steps, 396ft gain

    This is a nice walk that's mostly not affected by weather and mud and is completely inside the gulch. I wish it was a little longer, but there are options to go a little further. Being short today was fine since I got a late start since it was my first walk post-DST and I didn't know what to expect. On Thursday I might try setting out half an hour earlier and heading to the same parking spot, and if it's too dark, I can drive up to the top.

    I took a moment to look at the graffiti under the bridge on the way back to the car. Most of it is crap, but I really like the effect where the moss surrounds the lower image. I'll get a closer shot next time.


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    They already stopped by to mow today!

    A freshly-mowed lawn is a thing of beauty

    I just love a stripey, freshly-mowed lawn. It looks so fake and neat.

    Decided to swim with the small goggles today to have a break from the big clear ones. Their visibility is great, but it's hard to maintain the giant, continuous seal that goes all the way around them. And if you push too much air out, it feels like your eyes are being sucked out of your head. And there's really nothing to see at the pool anyway. Just the bottom of the pool scrolling past. So the smaller, darker goggles were fine and I didn't really care when they got foggy. But I found a trial size of baby shampoo at the store today, so I can try that as a defogger soon.

    I recently picked up a dashcam because I saw a really good deal on them. Of course it could come in handy if there's an accident or something, but mostly I'd like to be able to show things I happen to see while driving.

    Such as, the neighborhood weed store's St. Patrick's Day billboard!

    I accidentally left it on when I went out for lunch today, but remembered while I was gone that I did, so I waved on the way back to the car.

    One really great thing about Everett is the parking downtown. The spot where I parked was an entire block of free, empty street parking. One of the big parking structures only charges during work hours and the rest of the time, it's free. I never think twice when I want to go downtown for lunch, because it's not a pain at all.

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    I decided to try the "stand up and get ready 30 minutes before dawn" thing again this morning but decided I'd head to the lower gulch parking area even if it still seemed pretty dark. Not planning on seeing any of the side trails, I figured it didn't need to be all that bright starting out. It was indeed pretty dark out but just light enough. I might try 40 minutes before next time.

    It turns out that last time I went there made 200 photos in my Japanese Gulch album. Now there are 206. I'm quite proud of it!


    After I mentioned on Tuesday that the trains that go through there carry 15-foot wide loads, I started to think that didn't seem very wide after all. This is what the sign actually reads.


    So, yeah, they're probably wider than that.

    I'm starting to think there's an abandoned trail on the Western edge of the creek that runs down the center of the gulch. I recently noticed what looks like a trail. It's hard to see in this picture but it's near the center.


    And today I saw what are possibly some old bridges.


    I'll have a look sometime once the weather is dry. Not just because it'll be safer, but because this is in my way.


    It's never bothered me that I can't cross there because I won't go down the trail that leads to it. I call it Bootie Scoot because it's the one that's so steep and dusty, I had to sit and kind of slide down the single time I've been there. But I recently decided I'd like to walk/climb up it. It's probably not that hard to go up, and I'd like to so I can make a note of where it emerges up top. It's good to know where to turn back for routes I won't use.

    Today"s awesome walk, 3.78 miles in 1:18, 8,128 steps, 397ft gain
    3.78 miles in 1:18, 8,128 steps, 397ft gain

    This is only slightly different that what I did on Tuesday. I was surprised to see a woman walking up as I went back down, and a guy getting ready to do some mountain biking when I got to the parking lot. Mostly, people don't head out as early as I do, but I've been going later due to the time change and the light. I can't wait until it's really bright, really early, and I never see anyone. Ha.

    Something else that occurred to me this week was that there were probably perfectly good dashcam phone apps, and sure enough, there were several in the Google Play store. I installed one when I got to the car, hoping to run two cams at the same time and compare the results. Unfortunately, the spot where my phone mounts when I need it for navigation isn't quite right due to the drastic angle the windshield's at. I tried moving it, but can't figure out how to get the suction cup to release. What I'd like is to try a really high mount, so I ordered a kit that can mount on the dash, a vent, the windshield, or a visor, and I'm eyeing the visor as the best spot. But we'll see. The nice thing is that I got it for free because I had lots of Amazon rewards to spend. And there's still quite a bit left.

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  • 03/17/16--14:48: Article 0

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  • 03/18/16--04:24: SchadenFriday

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