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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Apr '17

Trip Report: Spring Break For Jonathan

This week just a quick little trip a couple of hours north to celebrate Jonathan’s Spring Break at the WorldMark Blaine.

Nice little two-bedroom place:

With a pretty nice view…

Our room would be one floor down, right hand balcony:

And even a rarely used lounge (at least in the times I’ve visited this property):

To me, the downside of this place is that the decks don’t have BBQs – just a couple of shared ones outside the lounge:

Marinated chicken thighs the first night. Pork loin the second night. Pretty much cooked all the meals in. The second night the wind had kicked up so I had to use the grill cover to block the howling wind from blowing out the flames.

You can see what the wind was doing to the bay…

And I was definitely bundled up…

But the end result was worth it! We even did our breakfast’s in… scrambled eggs, bacon, fried risotto cakes.

All too soon it was time to return to Seattle, somebody (that would be me) is leaving the country Friday, but it was a fun little quick holiday.

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Jul '16

Home Report: Jonathan Fixes The Honkin’ Huge Printer

You might remember a couple of weeks ago (maybe a month) when I posted this video:

And said I was just going to roll the Honkin’ Huge Printer to the curb – until Jonathan volunteered to install a new carriage belt – so, this is really a HUGE HONKIN’ SHOUTOUT to Jonathan. Thanks – I’ve already printed all the tourist maps I’ll need for my upcoming Puerto Vallarta trip.

A pro can do this in an hour….Jonathan took longer, but was meticulous in his effort:

As the parts pile up in the living room – you really DO have to break this thing down to the carcass to get to this belt:

That pesky belt – it’s supposed to be in one piece, not shredded:

And his reward!

Thank you Jonathan for fixing my printer.


If you got here from a direct link from FaceBook, you can see all the posts at: https://blog.unclemarkie.com.

Apr '09

More Test Results.

And Dinner With Jonathan.

Fuck, I’m not going to die anytime soon….

Here are the results from my doctor’s appointment yesterday… yes, test results in a little over 24 hours. I like them already!

So, here are the results (and his comments):

Your cholesterol looks fine.  Some values are elevated, but you were not fasting for these labs so this is fine.


Triglycerides: 264 (goal < 150)

Total Cholesterol: 214 (goal < 200)

HDL “good” cholesterol: 46 (goal > 40)

LDL “bad” cholesterol: 115 (goal < 130)


Your glucose was 183 (like to see that below 100), but again you were not fasting.  Your other labs looking at your kidneys and liver were normal.


Your tests for HIV and syphilis were both negative and the test we did for your prostate was also normal.  All good news.

So — apparently I’m not checking out any time soon. Damn. Guess I’d better get that DNR necklace for myself. (Inside Joke). And to think what I drink!

So — work today. Checks signed, cashed, spent. Yard mowed and trimmed. Dinner cooked for Jonathan (Fillet Mignon, Lamb, Chicken, Beans, Salad, Bread, Wine).

Finished a nice run through the equipment tonight, god I love cleaning the new machine.


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And Dinner With Jonathan.

Mar '19

Trip Report: Vegas – Friends And Food

The main reason for the trip was the tour of the Nevada National Security Site, but you have to eat and hang out as well!

After the tour, we actually went out for a nice dinner – a rarity for us since we all are good cooks, but someone (Jonathan) was in the mood for Prime Rib. After a full day, I refused to go to a casino with the bad memories of my unexpected trip to Vegas last month due to a flight diversion. We ended up, upscale, at Lawry’s, which the original location is in LA, and I’ve heard many people wax poetic.

Cocktails, appetizers, the works (well, no dessert).

Then salads….

And then the big hunks of meat served in a big meat zeppelin!

Yes, a good time was had – and we had leftovers!

But we also cooked in the condo…

And Rache and I had lunch after the Mob Museum at the Triple George Grill

Ruben for me…

Clam chowder and salad for Rache:

Another fun trip to Vegas, with nary a foot inside of a casino.


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Mar '19

Trip Report: Vegas – It’s More Than Gambling

There is more to do in Vegas other than gambling – if I’m going to throw my money away, I’d rather drink it away. If you want to gamble, you can even gamble in the grocery store!

That said, there are LOTS of things to do without hitting the strip. Like tour a chocolate factory like Ethel M (M as in Mars, the candy bar people):

Wich also features a cactus garden—I was here in July when it was 118 degrees (no kidding!), today it’s just overcast, which is much nicer:

Other attractions that we checked out were the Burlesque Hall of Fame

We joined a tour halfway through lead by Buttercup, who I’m assuming does a little burlesque (they teach it at the museum in the evenings). We got in through our North American Reciprocal Museum card courtesy of Rache and I’s membership in the Ogden Museum of Sothern Art in New Orleans.

Next up is the Mob Museum which is reasonably close by – but MASSIVE in scale (and technology) ….

And there is a bar and distillery in the basement!

All-in-all, it would have been more interesting if it weren’t jam-packed with people (on a Thursday), but your wrist band is good for all day, and it’s open until 9pm. Not cheap to get into even on the basic ticket (but there is a senior discount for 65+ or your Atomic Testing Museum wristband will get you 25% off), there are all sorts of add-ons like the “Crime Lab Experience”, “Firearms Simulator Training”, “Distillery Tour”.

Speaking of the Atomic Testing Museum, Rache and Jonathan went (I slept in) and we ended up leaving Jonathan in the “Reading Room” for HOURS. He wished that he’d worn his boots from the day before to check out the radiation he might have picked up.

There is a TON of other stuff to do in Vegas rather than gamble – like Red Rocks National Conservation Area, Hoover Dam, Clark County Museum, Neon Museum – and more.

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Mar '19

Trip Report: Nevada National Security Site (NNSS)

Better known as the Atomic Testing Grounds north of Las Vegas.

The tale of this trip starts last June when I’m on the NNSS site trying to get a tour (http://www.nnss.gov/pages/PublicAffairsOutreach/NNSStours.html) which book up about nine months out as they are thirty people, once a month. Upside is that it is free. We finally got accepted in early July 2018 for a March 2019 tour. And, apparently, we all passed our security clearances.

Booked a three-bedroom at the WorldMark Las Vegas Boulevard for the week of the tour…and then it’s the waiting game to get airline tickets, rental car the rest.

Four of us (Myself, Rache, DancingBear, Jonathan) flew in on a variety of flights with Jonathan and I arriving first and picking up a rental car and some groceries….

Yes, I rented a pickup truck – it was supposed to be the HUGE F-150. What I got was a mid-size Nissan Frontier. I should have gotten the Jaguar F8 ragtop from Sixt! And, yes, I re-parked the truck better after the photoshoot.

 Part of the groceries were fixings for breakfast sandwiches for Tuesday, the day of the tour. DancingBear got up early to make them, so we had some food in our stomachs to show up at 7:30am at the National Atomic Testing Museum where the tour began (museum ticket not included in the free tour):

If you look closely, you can see our 85-year-old tour guide Ernie in the front window of the bus – he’s worked in the field for most of his adult life after growing up as a farmer in Nebraska.

Here is the itinerary of the full-day tour…

And with Jonathan on the tour, he marked a copy of map with all the stops the night before the tour:

Notice how close we are to Area 51? I notice the map doesn’t show the airstrip in Area 51 that a jet lands everyday from Vegas for commuters to commute. Also, Area 25 isn’t on the tour as that was the Nuclear Rocket Engine test site.

At the museum (the following day), Rache found this on display – from the Jackass and Western Railroad which was a spur line that moved around the rocket engines:

I bring this up because Rache and I had the opportunity several years ago to ride on the switch engine (I was the engineer!):

If you want to see the whole post on that adventure: CLICK HERE

Thanks, Rache for these web-scrapped photos since we were all required to leave our phone in our cars – to photos, no booze, no, well, lots of things. Here is the poster:

But back to the tour…it’s an hour and a half on a bus before you see this sign.

You get a clue about the terrain, but here is a better shot of the 1350 square miles where we also saw Predator Drones doing “touch and goes”:

Here is the link to the Wikipedia link about the site: CLICK HERE

With the 90-minute bus ride, first stop is a bathroom/snack bar stop, which is good because I’m out of liquid, then we are off to Icecap, which could be reactivated in a year if we decide to no longer ban testing (which, with our current administration, be tomorrow).

Which I really wish I’d had a camera for – it’s a building in 40-foot chunks that san be craned off and shipped to the next test site – well, before they blow a big hole in the ground.

Speaking of big holes in the ground, our next stop was Sedan Crater, which was the most sobering of visits of the day, when 12,000,000 short tons (11,000,000 t) of earth of material were moved in 11 minutes.

Standing on the rim looking down, which was TRULY sobering, they could have ended the tour after this and I would be satisfied – but we had five more hours (starts at 8am, ends at 5pm).

More driving before we arrive at the Apple II houses – structures that they built to see how the “blast” from a bomb would react with structures….this one was fine except all the windows were blown out:

Thank god the next stop was lunch at what was basically a commissary that had a bus-load of people showing up at once. Guessing the cheeseburger would have been better as a one-off rather than done ten at a time.

And there were also train trestles that were bent by the shock waves – which all the photos are heavily copyrighted, but the warping was three feet across twenty feet.

You should also be aware that during all these tests, soldiers were out there watching. It was a coveted assignment – watching something big blow up.

We were shown wooden benches on hillsides still in place (and rotting into the dessert).

All-in-all it was a fact-filled-feast with someone who was there throughout the years.

Personally, I was exhausted by the end of the day – but they did send us a commemorative photo collage of our day around radiation. The big photo is on the rim of Sedan Crater, the inset from in front of the museum:

In a little bit of weird, the world is a small place, we met a friend of our friend Sierra, another Ranger, who was on the tour, along with a bunch of SpaceX/Tesla folk (though not “on business”).

Fun day.

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For more posts, click here.

Want to see the report on the Hanford Nuclear Reactor B tour, click here.

Or the Atomic Museum in Albuquerque, click here.

Dec '18

Trip Report: Waikiki!

Time to head for sunshine…but first, got to bottle the holiday Cinnamon Brandy…by Christmas the liquid will be a dark mahogany color:

And get the wine shop’s
wine club boxing started – and I get to do it in our new space (so I can actually start it on a Sunday while the shop is open):

Some hiccups, but easier than last month.

Off to the airport in the morning…no upgrade (sigh). I hit the lounge, but bought the sandwich onboard since it’s a five-hour flight:

The Granola Bar is a freebie are a perk of Premium Class (along with doubles of Woodford Reserve) is a and the JcoCo Chocolate is a perk of being either an MVP Gold, or MVP Gold 75K.

Since I just had smaller carry on, I opted to take the “cheap” way to get to Waikiki – TheBus, the local city bus, a whopping $2.75 and an hour of my time. You can do the airport shuttle, or 808-EXPRESS for a direct transfer if there a couple of people. Don’t know what the UBER would be, but there is service.

I got into Waikiki in the early afternoon – and they gave me a choice of rooms that were ready:

  • 23rd floor, no lanai (that’s deck in Hawaiian)
  • 7th floor, lanai

Uncle Markie always loves a deck.

Not much of a kitchen (microwave, fridge, toaster, coffee maker, but plates, glasses, dishes, etc).

The closest grocery store is a dozen blocks away, and I’d rather have food now, rather than later. Headed down the street to Cheeseburger Waikiki, which used to be Cheeseburger in Paradise, but are still under the same corporate umbrella.

I started with some weird drink special of whiskey, gin, orange juice….

One was enough, and I ordered something for the starter menu, the Cheeseburger Sliders – still a lot of food. Should have taken one home for breakfast!

Headed back to the condo to just hangout and recover from the trip – nice view:

And plenty warm:

Yes, there are Speedos involved.

Wonderful pillows meant a wonderful night’s sleep – so I could get up in the morning and revisit a place Bliss and I had breakfast on our trip here: IHOP for the 55+ Menu.

Next up was another local bus ($5.75 for the full-day bus pass) to the Salvation Army because it’s Senior Day which is a 15% discount. I usually am able to find nice Aloha Shirts at a great price. I DID find some finds, at .50 each – and one of them a TRUE FIND.

Yep, the middle one is a PanAm glass, the other two, Hawaiian Airlines.

Across the street at Ross Cross Dress For Less…

Oh, I bought a new small carry-on suitcase – I started the trip with a Hawaiian print small duffle with a shoulder strap – I wasn’t even to the Alaska Lounge in Seattle before I realized my mistake. I needed something small enough for the city bus…but with wheels.

On the way home courtesy of my “all-day bus pass” was a stop at Food Pantry for a little pupu stuff for dinner – go Poke!

Here are some more pictures from my deck, but during the daytime…

And some of the Royal Gardens amenities….

The next noon thirty I was off for a Wyndham Timeshare presentation…Wyndham is the parent company of WorldMark, where I usually stay, but they have no places in Waikiki so I traded points with The Colonels for this stay, and my next one – which, as part of the tour, was a two-bedroom deluxe upper floor at the Waikiki Beachwalk – sadly, next door to this:

But here is the Wyndham Waikiki Beachwalk property…

And some nice additions…

And the view….

For the ninety-minute presentation I got a $125 AMEX card, and a tour of the type of unit I’ll have the first week of January when I’m back in Waikiki with DancingBear.

Next stop was at CVS to see if I could transfer a prescription that I had two doses left – and my pharmacy in Seattle, while truly wonderful, is only open Monday-Friday, and I’m on the road M-F this week and next. Since I’d just changed insurance, I wasn’t sure….but they said they’d text me when it was ready.

Across the street was a Tommy Bahama, with a bar on the second floor and a restaurant on the third… a little snack was in order. Turns out their happy hour was 2-5. Woohoo!

With a decent Manhattan ($12.50, not Happy Hour pricing):

A great view:

And KILLER Two For $10 Mahi Fish Tacos!

The “signature” coconut prawns were good, but next the tacos…..

Turns out both the CVS and Tommy Bahama are just across the street (and down an alley) from The In Between (and the porno store upstairs):

Dinner tonight was going to be the Wailea Coffee Shop….which Rache and I ate at on another visit…now closed, along with Hy’s Steakhouse next to the Royal Garden. Lot’s of “old school” restaurants seem to be closing. I ended up at the Korean place across the street sub-street-level. Korean Kang Nam Style BBQ Yakiniku.

I should have just ordered a “Highballu”, because the concept of whiskey and Diet Coke (they served Pepsi) barely made it through translation:

But it was served with Kim Chi! And some interior shots:

I ordered the BiBimBap in a stone pot:

Nice to have some more vegetables in my system.

Waikiki, being a tourist Mecca, you have t-shirt shops with Obama’s picture, saying, “Miss Me Yet?”, and this:


The next day found me poolside:

And then back in yesterday’s neighborhood to check on my prescription (it was ready, but no text), and another stop for Fish Tacos at Tommy Bahama – this time I went for the Happy Hour Cocktail of a Vodka Martini (which my mother claimed, “There is NO such thing as a VODKA martini!”). It nicely came with small olives, but they were stuffed with Blue Cheese – rest in peace Swanda.

Sadly, check out at the Royal Garden is 10AM. Meaning I ate some cubed papaya, and got back on the city bus to the airport – and with no checked luggage, soon I was in the shared AA/JAL Lounge with a Hot Asian Buffet!

And a “pour-it-yourself” bar!

With a nice view of the Japanese Garden that is in the middle of the airport:

And even bidets in the loo!

Before long I was back on the plane, yet again, not upgraded…but free cocktails, and thanks to Jonathan, a ride home from the airport.

Another week, another journey.

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Sep '18

Trip Report: The Big Easy

Months ago, Rache was visiting, and NCIS: New Orleans came on, and by the end of the show we’d booked a room and flights. Same thing happens occasionally when I watch Hawaii 5 0. The shows remind me of how much I like a particular city. At the time I even had enough Alaska Gold MVP Guest Upgrades that we travelled in style both ways after a stop for a Caesar (Bloody Mary made with Clamato) in the Alaska Lounge:

They do make a good one! Almost like breakfast in a glass. Got to the airport ridiculously early so we could get a free ride from Jonathan before he went to work. It also allowed me a have a nice little nap in the room, which was good because I didn’t get very much sleep the night before.

Settled in, and lunch is on the way!

During the trip, I noticed this sign in the bathroom.

So – how I read this is: Return To Your Seat, or Ring For A Cocktail. I’ll take option B.

For some reason, the nuts come near the end of the flight…

And once again, heavy on the almonds, which aren’t my favorites. I passed the pecans to Rache, who isn’t an almond fan either.

The original plan was that “The Colonels” would pick us up and we’d go out to dinner and then they’d drop us off. Plans changed last week as the weather changed – so Uber us into the city!

Got settled into our one-bedroom condo, with Rache graciously taking the fold out couch, leaving the bedroom for me. We did get a great view of the city from our rooms:

Basically, we dumped our bags and headed down the street to Houston’s, which is my standard first night dinner and music to get me into the New Orleans mood:

This might very well be the best French Dip that I’ve ever had in my life!

And the fried oysters looked pretty good, too!

And then there is the sign on the way to the bathroom that I loved:

Per the way we usually travel together, Rache is up and out and exploring during the morning hours while I lollygag in bed – getting together late morning for our lunch stop of the day. A place that neither of us has been before – Central City BBQ:

Got some cocktails ordered…

And some BBQ! I went with the pulled pork sandwich, potato salad, which came with these house-pickled pickles and onions — yum

Rache went for a single rib, sweet corn spoon bread, and roast Brussel sprouts.

We were debating a second round of cocktails when the skies opened up and started dumping rain. Decision made.

After the rain cleared, we headed back in the direction of the condo, but stopped by Dryade’s Market to check out what had changed. When I was there earlier this year, the bar was closed – but today, were fortunate to find it open, and my favorite bartender Kevin, manning the bar.

Found this display at the end of the bar – guessing this can’t be very good wine, though it does come in its own glass:

Headed to our next stop, I spotted some lovely graffiti:

How sweet is, “Tell My Mother I Love Her”.

Before long we were off to celebrate Happy Hour (like we haven’t all day) at Samuel’s Blind Pelican – home of the 25-cent oyster.

A dozen charbroiled oysters ($10).

A dozen raw ($3)

Fried Green Tomatoes.

And dessert – another two dozen on the half shell!

In our quest to try new places – the next lunch was at Bacchanal:

It’s deceiving because from the fence to the right, all the way behind the trees on the left is the wine shop/restaurant.

There is an outside eating/drinking/entertainment area:

We opted for inside, upstairs in the bar as it was over 90 degrees outside:

Where they were also having a wine tasting! Coals to New Castle.

Three UNIQUE wines open – my kinda place!

  1. 2016 Envinate Taganan Vinos Atlanticos Tino
  2. 2015 Bodegas Ordonez Tineta DO Ribera del Duero Tinto
  3. 2009 Forster Jesuitengarten Riesling Spatlese

Plus, we’d ordered a glass of rosé to go with our lunch:

And then topped it off with cocktails!

Great staff! Including the bartender who isn’t present in the photo:

And they had one of the more amusing restroom signs that I’ve seen:

More running (well, streetcarring) around the city until the heat got to us – headed back to the condo for naps, and eventually some take out dinner – Rache went for the Brother’s Fried Chicken on the corner, I went for the Thai-ish food next door to the chicken convenience store:

It was an early night for both of us.

Our last full day in town is devoted to one of Rache’s favorites, The Dry Dock over in Algiers – which requires a couple of street cars and a ferry:

And, The Dry Dock and their wonderful food. Gator sausage and shrimp bisque for me:

Garlic shrimp for Rache:

Home for a little nap, then it’s off to The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, where we are members – for a concert in the atrium, with the galleries open (though our cocktails were banned). OK music, great, thought provoking art:

And decent views of the National WWII Museum from the rooftop deck:

And even of the formerly known as “Lee Circle“:

Took the St. Charles streetcar line towards the condo and hopped off at the St. Charles Tavern, recommended by one of my wine shop customers. Seems we were there on cheap 14oz. ribeye night!

We took the leftovers home with us – and promptly dropped into a food coma.

For our final lunch, we went to Toups South, which is in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (and it has a GREAT used book section). Rache had the cracklings, followed by the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich (which is a TON of food – I helped with the fries)

I opted for something lighter – the Fried Green Tomato Salad, I think, or something delicious.

Bought a couple of books before we headed back to the condo to hang out in the owners lounge since we’d checked out before lunch. We hung out for a couple of hours, both of us napping at points on the comfy leather couches before Ubering to the airport…we were early, but still had to battle Friday “get out of town” traffic.

Back in our First Class seats, too tired to even take pictures of the evening meal.


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Apr '18

Home Report: Scholarship Time!

If it’s spring, it must be time to read scholarship applications!

For those of you that don’t know – I have an endowed scholarship that I set up back in the 90’s (when I was WAY more liquid) at The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington. That would be The Mark Stephen Souder Scholarship For Information Dissemination, whose selection criteria is, as follows:

Offered to a new or currently enrolled student attending full time who demonstrates an interest in information dissemination, e.g., writer, Web designer, teacher, musician, activist—anyone helping to influence the way people think about their world, to change the concepts of “nons”—non-residents, non-Caucasians, non-heterosexuals—to create a more equal, intelligent and compassionate society. Preference will be given to non-resident gay or lesbian students, demonstrating quality and creativity of prior work in the area of information dissemination. Financial need will also be considered.


  • Letter of application addressing your passion for and level of expertise in the dissemination of information. Tell us where you have been with this concept, what you are doing now, and where you want to go in exploring how information is shared.
  • A portfolio of work that expresses your beliefs about information dissemination and demonstrates how you have put those beliefs into action.
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals, other than relatives, who have personally experienced the power of your work in information dissemination.
  • FAFSA or Renewal Application.

Some of the verbiage is in the criteria because of Washington State passage of I-200 floated by shyster Tim Eyman who routinely uses political contributions to support his lifestyle. The gist of the initiative was to prevent “prohibit racial and gender preferences by state and local government”. Sadly, it passed with 58.2% of the voters who actually bothered to vote.

For the last five years or so, we’ve been holding the scholarship readings at The Camlin Hotel, now a WorldMark property in downtown Seattle:

Generally, I try to get one of the three penthouse units because of the size of the living room area, and the attached rooftop deck, which, sad to say, does not have a hot tub (though there is a hot tub and pool on the first floor, along with a small museum in the basement).

This year we had 10 applicants, down from 15 for last year’s reading, and 11 for 2016. It tends to bounce between 10 and 20 applicants per year.

We got a late start because I worked closing at the shop, which means I didn’t get there until 7:30. Usually we start earlier. We had 7 readers this year, down a couple from last year owing to it being on a Saturday night. Here is a shot of the “crowd”:

Yes, I’m in my bathrobe and slippers!

And the fabled rooftop deck view (thanks Randy for both these shots):

Jonathan stayed late to finish reading applications (he is thorough) and do the math on what the ranking is for each of the applicants. We give Evergreen the results ranked in order. Usually the top applicant gets the scholarship, but occasionally, our first choice is lots of other scholarship’s first choice, and they spread the wealth. Here are the redacted numbers:

It always amuses me that even though people grade on different scales, the chart seems to line up. Interestingly enough, last year’s recipient was also the one that we chose this year as the top ranked.

Next year’s reading will be on Tuesday, April 9th, same venue.

So, that’s how I spent my Saturday night.


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Mar '18

Trip Report: Another Return Home

Early, but not wretchedly early flight from Nagoya to Tokyo…8:30am.

The plan was to have breakfast in the Japan Air Lines lounge rather than the hotel. I should have had a little something at the hotel since the lounge was comfortable, but underserved in the food category:

One the upside – look, it’s a machine that dispenses highballs (whiskey and soda) AND beer!

Guess which one I went for, though I used better whiskey than was in the machine:

Nagoya is a nice airport…

But this doesn’t look like enough people to fill a 787…

So, once again, a HUGE airplane for a 45-minute flight (think Seattle to Portland). And again, my seat was listed as “Economy”, which if this is economy, I’ll take it!

But with only enough time to get some of their “signature” Kiwi Punch. Looks like a radioactive urine sample to me.

It wasn’t long before I was in Tokyo’s Narita Airport for a six-and-a-half-hour layover. Long enough to get bored, not long enough to leave the airport and do something even though I had to go back through security.

Fortunately, the Japan Air Lines lounge in Narita is MUCH better – including a second-floor cafeteria…

Which yielded these plates over the course of the day…breakfast:

And lunch:

At least I could get some work done…

Hours later I was able to board the flight to Vancouver (when you use miles for Business Class, you take whatever routing they give you):

Not as private as on the way over, but not bad.

But the dinner was excellent:

As was the meal before landing:

Watched an interesting Vietnamese movie with some vague homosexual undertones…

And availed myself of the bidet in the airplane bathroom…

Had to do customs and immigration into the US in Canada, which meant that I could have brought back unlimited amounts of alcohol, but I already had two carry-ons because of my gift purchases. Lounge in Vancouver was mediocre, so much so that I didn’t even get a picture (though I did get two cocktails).

By mid-afternoon I was back in Seattle, preparing a meal for Jonathan and myself, including fresh baked bread.

Doesn’t everyone do that after they’ve been travelling for 24 hours?

[? ? ?]

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Jan '18

Home Report: Twelve Hours To Party

Nothing like being home twelve hours between trips – and have a dinner party. Got back from the coast at 3:30pm, got up for my flight at 3:30am the next morning.

And it was a wild dinner party – thanks to a new device in my kitchen. That would be a shot chiller that dispenses Sweet Vermouth and Bourbon. Just add a cherry and some bitters to a martini glass, and press the buttons for 14-degree chilled liquor to come out the spout:

It works so well, Jonathan was able to prove that you can use the TV to make drinks!

Much fun was had, which might have been why I overcooked the pork a bit. For your amusement, some pictures from dinner:

Wow, no pictures of the food, other than the shrimp appetizer. Might be a new record.

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Aug '17

Trip Report: Day Three On Kauai – More Thrifting

No particular plan for today. Tried visiting the meadery across the road, but each time I went there were like 15 people crammed into a small apace – maybe tomorrow.

My walk also discovered this small place – aloha Hawaii!

And this great decal on one of the cars in the parking lot…

Through people who are in my life still from my Microsoft days, I tracked down the condo complex that I stayed at in 1990 – to my memory, it was four women and myself in a 1-bedroom condo. Turns out it was TWO DOORS DOWN from where I’m staying!

Went into Lihue (again), hit another thrift store (Humane Society), found another shirt (Quick Silver embroidered – $4), and another Tommy Bahama ($6) at the Hospital Thrift Store.

The two items on the right of today’s haul are two three-packs of Brita Water Filter knockoffs at 50% off, from the Safeway across from the condo, which REALLY needs more checkers:

I’d seen these the day before, and finally found them again in the store:

They were surprisingly good! I actually managed to save some to take home for Jonathan.

It was a lazy evening for me, just laying around in the heat.

[? ? ?]

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May '17

Tour Report: 520 West Approach Project

If you’re a longtime reader, you know I love my infrastructure, so when I got an email for the bridge tour, I jumped on it – these things fill up instantly. Had to randomly think about who would be available on a Wednesday – chose Mags. When I got the acceptance for the tour – learned Mags couldn’t make it, so subbed in Jonathan.

When the details arrived Monday (for the Wednesday tour), there was a work/hiking boot requirement. Hello, Payless. Actually, got a decent pair of hiking boots for $35 – and I’ll need them for late June hiking around Whistler (yes, I hike – from bar to bar on loop trails from each of the mountain tops).

What the details DIDN’T mention was that this was a two-mile hike:

The blue line was our path – luckily our group did the long walk first.

Don’t we look great in our safety gear?

The first stop on our hike:

Nice day for a hike in the city.

This is where we are headed

A gaggle of orange ducklings…definitely in an active construction site:

Intersting to see the “ramps to nowhere” being torn down


Our tour was interrupted by a big bang – the sound of air brakes engaging fully. Apparently, a Microsoft Shuttle lost air power, which means the brakes instantly lock up. These people no longer have a good commute.

Man am I glad I don’t do that commute anymore!

These expansion joins are ready to be installed:

Soon, we were under the bridge

Here is a shot of the seismic bumpers the new bridge approach:

All in all, it was great to explore the Arboretum hiking back to the visitor’s center. Thirty-plus years in Seattle and I’d never explore one of our cities treasures.

And speaking of traffic messes…this truck got itself stuck trying to make an illegal turn….

Yep – that is a full 53′ trailer and a long cab tractor –stuck and trying to back out into rush hour traffic – ignoring the clearly posted sign that says, “No Combination Trucks”.

We found another way home that didn’t use that freeway entrance.


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Sep '16

City Report: Two Tours Not Open To The Public

Being in town the week – I know, how unusual – got to keep busy. I set up these two tours a month or so ago for when Jonathan is out of school (and not working).

Tour Number One:

Not open to the public, it just happens that my buddy Seth is one of three machinists at the, part of UW’s Nuclear Program.

What you need to understand is that Jonathan is an engineering student at South Seattle – so this is cooler for him than me, that and I’ve been here before to meet Seth for lunch.

Here is the overview of the place – a view I HADN’T seen before:

And some of the individual machines….

Most of the equipment is World War II vintage – but as you can see, has be upgraded to the modern world. I wouldn’t want to help move ANY of these machines.

One of my favorites of this shop is how they recycle stuff that has served its original purpose, but is now “upcycled” into other useful things:

Nice reworking of Lucite shipping mounts.

Tour Number Two:

This tour WILL be open to the public in about a year and a half – it’s of the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Kent, Washington. Turns out that I know the guy that is in charge of all the center tours in the US – like the one that I had booked in Indiana for October 4th, that I cancelled when I got a much better option called, no airfare, hotel, rental car, just ugly traffic.

The downside, blogging wise, is that it’s a photography prohibited area, so, you get the outside…

And the lobby signage:

And the secure nature of the faculty – badge coming in, metal detector coming out – my buddy has a plastic belt buckle and a wooden watch (I kid you not, CLICK HERE for Wooden Watches on Amazon) to speed the process (and the watch is cool!)

But it was an amazing tour – it was an incredibly efficient Rube Goldberg Device of pick, pack, robots, multiple sorting, dump it on a truck. Our hosts quest is to eventually make this the “gold star” tour of fulfillment centers in the US, to couple with the tour of Amazon Headquarters that Mags and I did in August. CLICK HERE for ink to that post.

If you’d like a list of Amazon Fulfillment Centers that are currently open for public tours, CLICK HERE. Mind you, they are popular and book up quickly.

So, that’s how I spend my non-travelling weeks, exploring the odd bits of my region.


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Apr '16

Trip Report: Puget Sound Circle Tour

You never know when you book several weeks out what the weather is going to be like. This time I lucked out.

This trip started because of KPop – Korean Pop music which I know nothing about, but the 13-year-old daughter of a friend is nuts about it. During a random conversation at the shop, it was mentioned that the 19th was said daughter’s birthday, and that she’d already gotten her birthday present in advance (a different KPop concert), but her actual birthday her favorite band was playing in Vancouver. As a surprise in case the parents relented, I booked a two-bedroom at the WorldMark Vancouver that just happened to be available.

In the end, they couldn’t make the date work, and rather than cancel the room, I decided to keep it for myself and string it along with a couple of other nights – and this was the result:

Day One – WorldMark Seattle – The Camlin

I already had the Camlin booked for this year’s scholarship reading party (part two), so after work it was setting up the nibbles for the readers (Salamander, Roxy, Courtney, Mr. Whippet, Jonathan and Rodney). Here is what the results were:

And all of us hard at work!

It wouldn’t be a post of mine without a couple of shots of the rest of the two-bedroom unit…

Day Two – WorldMark Victoria

The morning found me up early – off to an 8:30am “Owner ReEducation” presentation that “promised” to me an “information” session rather than a “don’t you want to get to the next level” hard sell. I agreed to an hour (for a $100 AMEX card), which was taken up with the information part, leaving no time for the hard sell since I had a ferry to catch to get to the next WorldMark…

Yes, that would be my ferry – and below, arriving at Bainbridge Island – I love the Olympics in the background of both these photos:

It was a good thing that I made a reservation on the Coho Ferry – I didn’t get to the terminal until a little after 1pm for a 2pm sailing because the rarely opened Hood Canal Bridge was OPEN, delaying my about half an hour. As you can see, I’m at the end of the line:

They even managed to get all the standby cars on!

And me looking grim with the mountains in the background…

Goodbye United States…

Hello Canada! Victoria, British Columbia to be precise.

Got all checked in – here is the view:

Since Courtney liked the video in a previous post I put a video here of the inside of the unit:

So far, I’ve had two-bedroom units, and no one to share them with – tonight, none of my Victoria peeps have the time to hang and have dinner. Sigh. I did get to see Royce since he is a checker at the Thrifty grocery store where I shop. Came back with a steak and a salad (and a view):

I do love the WorldMark Victoria – think it is my favorite of all the WorldMark Resorts.

Day Three – WorldMark Vancouver

Another day, another ferry ride. Had a reservation for this one as well, but it was only 25% full (MUCH larger boat). But the reservation did get me onto the boat before those without. A nice perk:

And it was a beautiful day for a ferry ride:

A slight hiccup checking in at the WorldMark Vancouver – I’d forgotten to change the name on the reservation – it was still in Courtney’s name – luckily as the owner, it was OK once they found the correct paperwork.

Here is the WorldMark Vancouver unit:

At least on this stop I have company for dinner:

The 2-bedroom at the WorldMark Vancouver is described as “Compact – No Dining Room” – which means eating on TV tables – but look how we made a table! Whole splayed (flattened) chicken, salad, rosé – though Epick and Tom weren’t drinking – Sebastian and I MORE than made up for them, also killing off a good portion of a bottle of whiskey as well. My kind of boy!

Our rosé…

Not bad – I’d buy it again. And again, nobody to fill the second bedroom on this stop either.

Day Four – WorldMark Birch Bay

Out of the unit at noon – US bound. Stopped at Duty Free – 10% off because of my Nexus Card, plus the 25% off because of the exchange rate – it’s like they like paying me to drink!

Got to the condo around 2pm – room wasn’t ready, but they weren’t full so they moved me to a unit that was clean – which was 308:

Not bad views:

That would be the sun going down over Birch Bay – I was here two weeks ago and we stayed with a MUCH better view (and it was available, but do I REALLY need 3-bedrooms and a hot tub just for me?)

Had a late lunch next door at The Shores – yes, a Rueben. Not the best but pretty good, didn’t realize it came with fries, would have ordered a side salad – because, yes, I ate all the fries:

What I couldn’t believe was a BRAND NEW BBQ on the deck – never used!

No company tonight – though it was on the agenda. Luckily I’m fine with flying solo.

Next time I think I might add the WorldMark Discovery Bay (east of Port Angeles) and one or both of the WorldMark Whistler resorts into the Circle Tour.


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Feb '16

Trip Report: Annual Victoria Getaway

Well, with all the other travel, and the Coho Ferry (Port Angeles – Victoria) being dry-docked longer, only one trip planned to Victoria this winter.

The trip didn’t start well – my Uber driver was stuck on 1 minute away for 15 minutes, killing any spare time I had to get to the boat – I ended up driving after finding out he a flat (which I didn’t find out for 20 minutes because he wouldn’t answer phone or text) – it, worrying that the car wouldn’t start when I returned from Victoria since the battery is weak and I’d had it on the charger all the previous night. Not the way I like to start a trip – stressed. You all know how I am about getting to airports/ship terminals/etc. in plenty of time.

This helped the stress:

This is Maia’s second trip with the boys to Victoria. Maia belongs to Seth. Maia likes my roller board and wants to help even though she has two bags of her own. Good Maia:

That would be Daddy Seth‘s foot to the right.

Miracle of miracles, our condo is ready – before noon! Usually, check-in time isn’t until 4pm. We have a 2-bedroom Penthouse unit on the second floor (yes, Penthouse doesn’t mean the top floor in this case, just the level of creature comforts – like our own personal hot tub):

And the view is good, even if it is the second (out of eight) floor:

You can sort of see our “pet”, Jonathan, in this shot – here is a better one:

And no – we don’t feed him – that’s against the rules.

Lunch out is at the Blue Heron Bistro, in the same complex as the grocery store. I start with a Caesar – which is a Bloody Mary made with Clamato. The Canadians are crazy about Clamato:

Lots of fun stuff on the specials menu –

I went with the Rabbit & Chorizo Poutine – that is French Fries, then a layer of cheese curds, then a Chorizo Rabbit Gravy over the top – others went for the duck curry:

Nap time for DancingBear and me – while Seth, MoSis (his BF), and Maia went out to explore the city.

But soon, it was time for dinner….and the couple of racks of ribs I brought up from the states.

Did I mention we bought a little duty-free booze? And here is the dinner, ribs on the upper right:

We do eat well on holidays. And we do relax well on holidays as well…

This is how DancingBear and I spent our time in Victoria, in bathrobes, cycling in/out of the hot tub, reading, playing Word With Friends, staring out at the planes landing on the Inner Harbour.

That and cooking:

Yes, Seth is having greens and sauerkraut with his eggs, babel and cream cheese (where is the salmon I brought?)

More relaxing for DB and I on Wednesday, with the rest of the kids out exploring (aka trying to run Maia out of energy) while we worked on dinner which included a vegan (it was supposed to include TWO vegans). Apparently we were having too much fun to get any pictures of the second night’s dinner which was olive tapenade stuffed portabellas for the vegan(s) and chicken cordon blu for the rest of us.

We were a little short on guest this visit at our favorites RobinHood and CrowDog are on the Sunshine Coast mourning the loss of a close friend – guess I should plan for next year in Victoria!

Before you know it the last afternoon is upon us – and a BIG shout out to DancingBear for renting a full-size car to get us around town and occupy us on the last day when checkout is at noon, and the boat is at five.

Final lunch was at Nautical Nellies – Seth’s suggestion and it was a good one.

I wanted light, so I went for the tempura green beans…

Fish Tacos for MoSis:

DancingBear went for the Cheddar and Crab sandwich – which I really should have taken some of:

And before you know it, we are back on the boat headed out of Victoria –

And eating again….

Cheese, crackers, Chicken Caesar wrap, leftover cranberry juice and vodka we packed for the trip…

The car started when I got back to the garage. Because of the discount from The Clipper, parking was $30 for the three days rather than the $61 that was on the ticket. In the end the price was probably cheaper than Uber to/from.


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Feb '16

Trip Report:

Pigletté In Vietnam – Eighth Leg: The Long Trip Home

The trip is winding down – time for Pigletté and Uncle Markie to head back to Seattle. The flight to Dubai is scheduled for a little before midnight – and when the check-in counter opened, I was the third person in the business line…this is what the economy line looked like:

And there is a shared lounge for Emirates business class passengers…not bad, but no open bar, just unlimited wine. Sigh. But there is a big open buffet:

My office for a couple of hours:

Wine, seltzer, beef noodle soup…a little post dinner, pre-flight food.

Another 777-300ER on the Saigon to Dubai flight. Pigletté gets settled in:

But he has to share his seat with Uncle Markie. Thanks to the lady in the window seat for this shot:

Soon it was movie time (Specter – a 007 movie):

We watched the movie while the flight attendant worked on my Manhattan:

Which came with some hot nuts – Uncle Markie LOVES hot nuts:

Even Bond, James Bond, enjoys a drink with us:

Before long, it was dinner time – and NO, that is NOT a potato, that’s a dinner roll. The starters:

The main:

Time for some more movies:

And the controller that also runs the system (in addition to buttons on the phone) – WAY too many options:

Here is a partial list of the movies I watched on the return flight:

  • Spectre (007)
  • Martians

And then there was a little sleep before arriving in Dubai at 4am in the morning – 4-hour layover, but the lounge is comfy and has “quiet areas”:

Don’t I look comfortable?

After a nap it’s time for a little breakfast before the breakfast on the Dubai to Houston flight:

Got to love Emirates Business Class Lounges in Dubai (they have three, each of which are the length of the terminal) – and how is this for boarding. The Business Class lounge is on 5 (in this terminal), First Class on 4, 3 is god-knows-what:

I love the “Upper Deck Boarding”, “Lower Deck Boarding” buttons, which correspond this this:

Yes, that is THREE jet skyways to the jet…Emirates A380-800 from Dubai to Houston is configured with

  • 14 First Class closed suites
  • 76 Business Class lay-flat seats
  • 399 Economy seats

With almost 500 seats you got to board these things from every orifice.

Wonder what economy looks like?

That would be a wild-body seating configuration of 3-4-3 (10-across). Upstairs, well, these are the back stairs – the front stairs go to First Class:

And the Business Class section which is a 1-2-1 configuration:

And my pod…

This was before I moved across the aisle so that I didn’t have to squeeze past the end table (which the feet of the person behind me slides into. Fresh flowers even:

Which was right above my 22″ tough-screen display…more reasons for changing seats.

Lots of charging opportunities…(and noise-cancelling headphone jack):

Add reading material (and Champagne) ….

And leg room …

And seat controls ….

Bye-bye Dubai …

A shot from above …

Time to settle in:

And then the food begins….

And yummy it is… another breakfast!

I opted for the Middle Eastern version of the main breakfast course… when in Rome (or Dubai) ….and more drinks:

Rob Roys with 18-year-old Chivas:

And since it’s a 15-hour flight, mid-flight mini-sandwiches:

And mid-flight work….

The flights movie list:

  • Life with father – William Powell

5 hours of sleep (Ambien washed down with Rob Roys)

  • The Man Who Knew Too Much – Kimmy Stewart, Doris Day
  • Philadelphia Story – jimmy steward, Cary grant, Hepburn
  • Desk Set – Hepburn/Tracy

Along with some hot appetizers:

At the back bar:

I think there was lunch in there someplace —

And the cheese course with a 2000 Warre’s Tawny Port:

I love some of the FaceBook comments on the cheese course photo:

Catherine: A GLASS glass?! METAL silverware!? An actual ceramic PLATE?!

Alexis: it looks to me like you are having too much carbs, only one cracker please ! x

Carlotta: Your cheese COURSE? There’ a vegetable, meat and dessert course? Soup too?

Retta: I could live off that.

Mark: I opted for the cheese and port over the chocolate lava cake, espresso and Cointreau. And yes, three courses before that. Redeeming 75000 miles gets you good airline food.

Kathy: I need to charge more on our mileage credit card, clearly!!

Mark: Happy to be anyone’s mileage consultant!

Carlotta: Well dear, you Are The Expert!

Mark: Catherine, that was a real piece of wood under that cheese.

Sean: It is so painful to see a man suffer

Jonathan: Not used to seeing you consuming grapes that haven’t been squashed and left to ferment for several years…

David: I approve!

Mikal: Pigletté loves cheese …

And then the party ended. Arrived in Houston with a two-hour layover which included customs/immigration, a terminal change, another round of security. Thank you Alaska for digital boarding passes that kept me from having to produce TWO quart bags since I’d collected all these toiletries from Janet to put in her church’s homeless packets. The downside of the Alaska gate in Houston is that there is no lounge access. Luckily I was exhausted because this was my seat for the four-hour Houston to Seattle run, in coach. At least it was bulkhead aisle:

One free drink, one bought drink, 3 hours of sleep which I dearly needed.

Cab home from the airport (about $30) about 9 in the evening – and here what was in the mailbox:

And what remained when I pitched all the junk:

International trip number one of four planned this year (next is Greece [June], then Mexico [September], then France [November]).

Next up is Victoria, British Columbia (which because it’s so close I don’t consider to be international).

[? ? ?]

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Pigletté In Vietnam – Eighth Leg: The Long Trip Home

Apr '15

Trip Report: Spring Break Number Two – Birch Bay & Vancouver

Spring Break trip number two – another student: Jonathan. Student Spring Break trips are on the cheap: driving. Teacher Spring Break trips, frugal, but flying.

The route:

Lots of miles on the Miata this Spring…speaking of which, when you travel in a small car, forget hard-side luggage, think lots of small, squishable bags:

And my stuff and ½ of Jonathan’s stuff in the trunk…not much room left:

But the reason that you own a convertible is for a little Miata on Miata action…..I really don’t know why they didn’t have their top down:

Thanks Jonathan for the great cell-phone photo with Dad’s Habitat For Humanity hat on backwards.

What I’d booked in Birch Bay was the WorldMark Blaine. I’ve stayed next door at the WorldMark Birch Bay in the 3-bedroom Penthouse units with the private hot tub that are out of a student’s network are lovely, but they just added the place next door (no private hot tub, no private BBQ). I’d booked the “2-bedroom Standard” and was somehow rewarded with a Penthouse Unit (again, no private hot tub, but the BBQs were just down the deck).

Top floor – out unit was on the end, at the other end was the communal lounge:

And then there is the view….

Before long, I was settled in on the deck in the sun, cocktail in hand…

It’s not a bad little place….

It was a two-bedroom 2-bath unit. Not quite up to WorldMark standards (no BBQ tongs, no non-stick fry pan), but the furniture was comfy.

Steaks for dinner the first night, then for me, it was off to WorldMark Owner ReEduction for a $100 AMEX gift card for an hour and a half of them trying to sell me more points. No more point purchases until I sell the next house, or Mom dies – and I don’t think either of those are coming soon.

The LITTLE “event” for today is Jonathan trimming my locks – thoughts? It’s short!

The BIG “event” for today is the Scholarship Reading….

The following morning we were up and out by noon (thanks for the GREAT breakfast strata DancingBear!). The only downside was that my laptop pack got put in the wrong car – no laptop on my next stop Vancouver.

But before I move on, a couple of other pictures:

It’s just me headed to Vancouver. Jonathan didn’t get his Enhanced Washington State ID figured out in town.

Easy border transit even with having to cross several lanes of stopped traffic to get from Duty Free and back into the Nexus lane…hopefully this will be fixed once they open the new lanes.

Destination is the WorldMark at The Canadian in Vancouver. One of my favorites. And when I got there after shopping for dinner, the unit wasn’t ready, but Hummingbird had already been by just getting off “work”. That would assume that being a priest is “work”.

But we did get a unit early – they switched us to get us in earlier…not a bad room:

Time for Hummingbird to start reading scholarships! And me to start working on the Pu Pu Platter for the friends arriving for dinner…

It was salmon on the menu tonight (with bread, salad, wine). Much fun. Guests were: Solus, Hummingbird, and his friend Kevin who was standing in for BamBam who couldn’t make it.

Slept in, and then couldn’t find the Cathedral where Hummingbird was doing the Maundy Service (the Thursday before Easter) so I went back to the condo and went back to bed. Another dinner tonight.

Second dinner of the visit was steak, brazed green onions, salad, bread – and of course — starting it off, the Pu Pu Platter.

No pictures—don’t know what I was thinking. Guests Helene, Tom, Stephen – and much good conversation (and knitting on Helene’s visit).

Out of the condo a little before noon – and the signs were saying 70 minute delay for the truck crossing – even the Nexus line was backed up past Duty Free – but I took a shortcut via the truck entrance to get to Duty Free which as a Nexus pass holder you get to park right out front AND get 10% off your purchases. Talk about cheap whiskey!

Between the 10% discount and the 20% exchange difference… that’s some mighty cheap whiskey, and a 1.14 liter bottle at that!

But back in the line (they shunt you into the existing line if you show your receipt) there were only a dozen or so cars in front of me:

And before you knew it I was home (after picking up my laptop bag that got put in the wrong car yesterday).


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Mar '15

Trip Report: NGO-NRT-SEA

As the trip comes to an end, there are just a couple of final flights.

  • Nagoya (NGO) to Tokyo Narita (NRT)
  • Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Seattle (SEA)

But first I have to get to the airport – and it’s basically a two-hour train ride, but only one transfer…..and by taking the semi-express, I save 340yen ($3 – should have taken the express!).

Not my train – going in the wrong direction:


My train, going away from my destination but hooking up with the main line to the airport:

A little nerve racking with the maps on this train all in Kanji – but then I remembered back to my Kanji Character Matching from my first trips to Nippon 30 years ago.

Got to the airport with plenty of time (as I always do), got through security with only a double scanning, then found the lounge to settle in and write the previous blog report, and have a cocktail or three. Sparse but comfortable service. Only one bottle of hard liquor open (luckily whiskey), but draft beer and packaged cocktail mix. No English language papers alas…. I’ll have to wait for Tokyo:

And my office in the lounge:

It was an hour flight to Narita (Tokyo) on a full flight, at least they were mostly tiny Japanese people since I was in the back (no First or Business on this Airbus A320):

But soon I was doing the maze of Narita airport, having to clear Immigration – thank goodness for the Gold/Business lanes – all I saw in the other lanes were panicked people. Personally I barely had a chance to do my duty-free shopping – to spend my last 7,000+ yen (guess I didn’t need to change that final $50 bill. Did find some “odd” things in duty-free to buy. Whiskey with emperor’s armor:

And some off menthol (though I didn’t know that until later) cigarettes that come 8 or so to a square box in different colors – perfect for Jerod. Then it was off to the Lounge – which the pictures of didn’t come out because I was in a hurry, but there was food, booze, and English language newspapers – that’s all I need.

Inserted just for amusement – this is what happens when you don’t check your images….

Did some final shopping to whittle down the change (750+ yen) – bought an overpriced sticker for my suitcase and some sushi shaped erasers for Jonathan (since he has drafting classes).

And then it was time to get settled in for my Business Class flight home on an ANA 878-800. Welcome to my “throne”:

It DOES feel like a throne. And the service:

I found the lay-flat beds in the ANA plane more comfortable than the Emirates, with the Emirates bed feeling like a sofa-sleeper with the ribs in unfortunate places. And soon it was time for breakfast:

Landed a little before 11 – and by a little after 11:30 I was through immigration, grabbed my bag, through customs, and home bringing in the mail. A five-hour nap before going to the shop to work 3 hours for a private event. And working Friday, Saturday, Sunday. No time for jetlag.

[222.4] Nothing like a couple of days do drop the flight water weight.



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Dec '14

Status Report: More Travel Plans – Dinner With Friends – How I Spend A Couple Of Weeks At Home.

A couple of weeks at home (working lots, though) and its dinner with friends and succumbing to the joys of Cyber Monday. Here is a quick photo round-up of the last couple of weeks.

Before Turkey Day it’s a visit from friends returning from Hawaii and New Zealand and Roxy out of college (Evergreen) for Turkey Day Break:

And the return of a long lost (OK, only three years) piece of artwork – the Legs of Christ but David Best (best known for making the structures at Burning Man that get torched):

The Legs of Christ would be on the left, and weighs about a hundred pounds and comes with a box of parts. Here is it in its original state (from the Butterfield and Butterfield auction catalog in the supporting AIDS benefit in the 80’s which I tried to find the catalog for – it’s somewhere in boxes of books in the garage)


As you can see, the man on the top, along with the canes, and the fish at the bottom are now in a box below the painting. Another dinner had the arrival of a friend of Roxy’s who actually knows David Best, as does one of my contractors. Sorry, no pictures, but suffice it to say I ended up with a Malaysian couchsurfer in my bed in the morning. A first (bedding a couchsurfer). Sorry, no pictures – check back for and update of the evening – he took lots of pics.


And then we are at Thanksgiving…I worked the 11-3pm shift at the shop (http://www.madronawinemerchants.com) and then it was off to dinner at Swanda’s place, and here was the spread:



Several miscues on dinner – turkey cooked upside down (damned moist) and the combined Green Bean/Yam Casserole (it was supposed to be two different dishes, but still worked).


My response to the excess of Turkey the following day was just a Ribeye Steak and a Wedge Salad:


With the trip to Detroit and Santa Fe coming up, it’s time to start wrapping presents – it’s nice to be able to print your own wrapping paper, albeit on bright yellow paper with an image of a late seventies world map…

Saturday brought around me at work, closing the shop, and the annual Shop Small Saturday from AMEX which this year give you back $10 for each $10 you spend at three different small merchants on the Saturday after Thanksgiving… I spent it at St. Clouds:

Manhattan (2), with the cheese burger with Mexican Cheese and a Green Chili Aioli and swapped the fries out for a fresh Caesar that you could actually taste the anchovies in! GREAT.

Dinner with SalamandarHellbender on Sunday – had to send him home in an Uber as it was late and seriously COLD in Seattle. Really nice lamb chops:

And Alaska Air started their “Cyber Monday” fares at 4PM on Sunday so chock up two more (ignore Spokane, I booked that for SalamadarHellBender). Think I’m taken care of this winter for travel:

I still have two mid-weeks in February. There are two trips that aren’t on here, late January in Victoria with Lunettaand Onyx, and late February again in Victoria that I’m looking at partners for.

Monday’s project was an alcohol Menorah – keep in mind that there will be bottles on each side of the display I created since it’s nine candles/bottles for Chanukah, but only seven for the temple:

At the shop it will have nine bottles of Kosher Wine. The shop was so cold I had to come in the house and varnish the piece because my fingers were numb – not a good thing when working with power tools.

Dinner with Jonathan – another food fest – cranking up three burners on the Wolf:

50% off Safeway T-Bones on the left, asparagus center, carrots sautéed in butter, triple sec and fresh squeezed orange juice.

Black Olive Challah (with a Bloody Mary Ceviché in the small bowl next to the butter)….

And Jonathan who has his first shift as a UPS Driver Assistant in the morning. No, he isn’t having any of my wine! His is Caffeine Free Diet Coke…in a wine glass.

A crazy day at the shop today…the first work day of the month is running all the wine club sales…manually. We don’t store our customer’s credit cards electronically.

Dropped wine off with Swanda (two cocktail delivery fee, often times dinner, but not tonight as I didn’t get off until 7 and it was almost 8 by the time I arrived) and home for another steak and salad dinner.

And tomorrow it’s back in the freezing garage to build some more storage for the shop – that and the dentist (thank goodness they use Nitrous when they clean my teeth).


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