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Oct '19

Trip Report: Headed to Vietnam

Headed back to Vietnam after a two-and-a-half-year gap.

And using miles to fly business class on Korean Airlines, which gets me into the Delta Sky Club…


Also checked out their other one on the South Concourse…


Since I’ll get fed on the plane, I try to not stuff myself. The food is much better than the Alaska Lounge, but then, the Alaska Lounge if half the price, and I don’t have to be flying with them to get entrance.

My home for the next 11+ hours…

Sadly, we were stuck on the ground for almost two hours because of traffic delays, and a change of runways. Without Champagne!

But eventually the booze and food started flowing….

And I found the “unicorn” bathroom – the HUGE handicapped one.

Couple of movies before a nap. Tried Zorba The Greek, then Spartacus, finally settled on The Dead Poet’s Society. I’d forgotten there are very “dark” parts to that movie.

Here is the bed all laid out – sadly, Korean doesn’t provide a topper for the seat, or pajamas.

And then more food and booze…

With our late departure, no time to visit the lounge, barely had enough time to hit duty free so I’d have some whiskey when I get to Saigon.

New plane, but more food and booze:


Second leg was only 5 hours, but I did manage to get about an hour or so of fitful sleep – these are the older style business class seats that don’t fully (but close) recline.

Landed half an hour late, immigration was a breeze, but it was another 30+ minutes for my “priority tagged” bag to appear. Fortunately, Sean is a patient man, who I talked into picking me up at the airport.

Tomorrow, the Saigon adventure begins in earnest.

[? ? ?]

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Sep '19

Life Report: What If We Went Back To College

While I was visiting Dan and Lisa – Dan talked about returning to school for a degree at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. It got me thinking – so I looked up what courses they offered, and found this link to a “what am I suited for” quiz as it related to the CSU curriculum: https://csu.mymajors.com/quiz/

I was curious as to what they would recommend for me. I found the answers amusing (rated for best match in interest and down):

  • Fermentation Science and Technology
    Your Score: 529
  • Interior Architecture and Design
    Your Score: 410
  • Apparel and Merchandising
    Your Score: 407
  • Hospitality Management
    Your Score: 383
  • Women’s and Gender Studies
    Your Score: 317
  • Journalism and Media Communication
    Your Score: 299
  • Political Science
    Your Score: 299
  • Philosophy
    Your Score: 297
  • Sociology
    Your Score: 285
  • Human Resource Management Concentration
    Your Score: 283

Interesting, really. Fermentation Science and Technology – that might be good for my moonshine fascination and my love of pickles as my late night salty/crunchy snack.

Mentioned the test to Dan, who results were:

  • Fermentation Science and Technology
    Your Score: 516
  • Hospitality Management
    Your Score: 463
  • English
    Your Score: 450
  • Human Resource Management Concentration
    Your Score: 377
  • Business Administration
    Your Score: 377
  • Social Work
    Your Score: 316
  • Animal Science
    Your Score: 313
  • Equine Science
    Your Score: 313
  • Zoology
    Your Score: 313
  • Human Development and Family Studies
    Your Score: 266

WOW – apparently both Dan AND I are supposed to be on a Fermentation Science and Technology track. Wondering what that is?

Fermentation Science and Technology is a multidisciplinary major focusing on the science of fermented foods and beverages. The curriculum focuses on the science of the processes and methods involved with using microorganisms in the commercial production of fermented products. Courses in the major also emphasize the safety, culinary, and nutritional aspects of fermented foods and beverages. This major prepares students for employment in the fermented food and beverage industries in such roles as product development, processing, quality assurance and control, sensory evaluation, packaging, distribution, and plant management. Students enrolled in this major have the opportunity to participate in industry activities and professional organizations to increase their practical understanding of fermented food and beverage production, processing methods, and specific techniques. Learning Outcomes Students will demonstrate: Ability to integrate biological and chemical processes to quality and stability of fermented foods, and to critique and effectively communicate the relationships among processing of fermented foods, nutrition, and food safety. Discipline specific knowledge of the skills and competencies needed in fermentation science and technology. Examples include knowledge of food chemistry, sensory evaluation of fermented products, brewing processes, refining and packaging technology, food production management, and fermentation microbiology. Understanding of classification, production, financial aspects, consumption, and service of controlled beverages, including effective management of facilities and people with emphasis on safe service training and management. Competent application of science, history, culture, safety, health, and nutrition dimensions of fermented foods and beverages.

Potential Careers: Potential Occupations Partnerships with industry help provide field experience and internships for majors in Fermentation Science and Technology. The food industry is the largest in the world and fermentation science is a rapidly emerging area, so the future is promising. Examples of careers include fermentation scientist, food scientist, food technologist, food health inspector, food safety specialist, brewer, biotechnologist, quality control analyst, sensory analyst, food microbiologist, or entrepreneur.

Now let’s throw Lisa into the mix with her results:

  • Human Development and Family Studies
    Your Score: 617
  • Family and Consumer Sciences
    Your Score: 617
  • Neuroscience
    Your Score: 588
  • Psychology
    Your Score: 588
  • Nutrition and Food Science
    Your Score: 580
  • Animal Science
    Your Score: 570
  • Equine Science
    Your Score: 570
  • Zoology
    Your Score: 570
  • Fermentation Science and Technology
    Your Score: 530
  • Social Work
    Your Score: 444

So, even though Lisa’s score in the Fermentation Science category was number nine on her list – the level of appropriateness was right in the same numerical range as Dan and I.

Maybe the three of us should start a business that relies on fermentation. Beer? Whiskey? Pickles?

Here is a graph of where the three of us interact in our interests:

Please feel free to take the test and see where you end up. Granted, this is for a state-run land-grant college with some unique degree choices.

Definitely one of the most geeky posts I’ve done.


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Sep '19

Trip Report: Denver For Towelettes

OK, when I booked Denver, I wasn’t thinking towelettes. That was just the bonus. And getting upgraded to/from. And then there was the other bonus of old Virgin America metal in an Alaska paintjob First Class seat. I’m going to miss these:

It’s like flying in a white leather BarcoLounger. Only 10 inches of recline, but that’s double than the rest of the fleet in First. Upgrades are scarce (so I’m really lucky) on these planes because they only have 8 First Class seats, compared to 12-16 on the rest of their fleet.

And someone brings you breakfast and cocktails, though it looks like I’ve already finished my first one. Those are knock off Egg Bites (Starbucks) with potatoes and grapes.

Meet my host!

Who is hard at work about to brine one big-ass pork butt:

We have a mutual friend in Saigon (oddly enough, I get to say that I will see him in a week or so) who had a request for Kirkland Khakis in a 42/30. We looked at all the pants, and they started at 32 and ended at 40. So, no pants for Sean, and if Dan (my host) wanted any, no 30-inch waist for him. We did, however, find a Christmas Carousel for sale in the middle of September.

But the first dinner was salmon (with a side of bacon):

If you cook bacon on the grill – watch for smoke!

It was a stunning meal, and after a full night’s sleep, it was time for another feast. Some pictures of the making of carnitos:

I don’t really compliment gas grills much, but if you want to heat up some tortillas….

Before I knew it, packing time. I’m sure TSA will want to do a secondary search of my laptop bags with these empties packed inside:

The 1983 and 1984 Port bottles are from the mid-nineties when I worked at MSFT and Trader Joes had them for very cheap. The 1912 and the 1900 Madeira Dan and I drank in 2000 (yes, we were drinking 100-year-old liquor) after dinner at Andres (not to be confused with the movies, “Dinner With Andre”) where the policy was: “Drink the last of the bottle, keep the bottle.” That policy did not include the Louis XIV Cognac in the Baccarat Crystal decanter.

The towelettes I’ll be checking…


It was a quick two-night visit – and before I knew it, I was back in the air headed home, though not in as nice a seat (but still upgraded):

And food (Turkey Burger), and more empty drinks:

Coming into Seattle….

And over my house, which would be just diagonal bottom left just beyond the industrial section:

Headed home to work.


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Sep '19

Trip Report: Kansas City Quickie

This picture should explain how I felt the morning of this trip:

Apparently, so did the guy in the fourth row.

A quick trip to Kansas City since we are running out of Arthur Bryant’s BBQ Sauce, and they won’t sell and ship to me wholesale, but if I show up at the restaurant they will give me a case discount.

It’s also a good excuse to visit friends.

Went straight from the airport with Paul to Lawrence to have dinner at Merchants with Wendy.

Inside of an old bank building, where the restrooms are in the old safe.

An interesting cocktail to start. In A Pickle was my choice:

Lots of appetizers split three ways:

And a split sandwich…Brussel sprouts and mac & cheese as sides:

And because Paul was there, dessert:

Got back to Kansas City around 9PM to meet up with Gail who had a meeting conflict with dinner…stayed up until 3AM (well, Paul and I) chatting away, catching up from a year between visits.

In the morning, it was coffee before heading to the Nelson-Atkins for lunch and art…

Gail left before Paul and I wandered around a bit, then took off for Arthur Bryants for a case of sauce.

A bit of a panic ensued…my plan was to pick up two cases of their sauce in plastic bottles – which they didn’t have I stock so I had to do glass. With plastic I could just slap a bag tag on it and check it. With glass we had to stop by Office Depot for bubble wrap and an exterior box. Total pain that doesn’t bode well for future purchases.

Not sure why they didn’t have it in plastic – found it in plastic behind security albeit at double the price I paid with the case discount.

A fun, but brief trip. There is the possibility of a March trip as a four night stay with Rache as it’s on his list of places to visit.


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4 Responses to “Trip Report: Kansas City Quickie”

  1. Conan L. Hall Says:

    Did you visit the “walking wall?” Lemme know when you return in March.

  2. UncleMarkie Says:

    They were in the process of dismantling it when I was there.

  3. Helicopterkc.com Says:

    The foods looks delicious! But is this in KCK or KCMO?

  4. UncleMarkie Says:


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Sep '19

Destination Report: Kamaka Ukulele Factory Tour

I have so many pictures of the Kamaka Ukulele Factory in downtown Honolulu that I thought a separate post would be easier. This was probably my tenth tour of their facility –yes, I drag all my friends and family on this tour, and no one seems to regret the time.

They have been in business for 103 years, and the son (94 years old) still gives the intro part of the tour four days a week at 10:30am. The founder’s grandson (who is now the production manager) give the shop part of the tour.

This visit was with my sis-in-law and her husband


It starts with stacks of Koa wood, which they air dry onsite for 3-4 years.

Past their CNC machine

And soon we are inside the shop…where they use heat to shape the sides:

Then the shaping of the body…

The gluing of the book matched front and back panels…

The application of all the internal supports….

And the assembly of fronts, sides, backs…

And in their last stages…

Thought I’d include their current price list. Currently there is about an 18-month wait list for a new standard model. Longer on custom woods, etc. Got one to repair? That’s only 12 months out.

The last part of this post is for Jonathan since it has to do with dust collection…

Well, that’s it for this post. Headed to Kansas City next week.

[? ? ?]

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One Response to “Destination Report: Kamaka Ukulele Factory Tour”

  1. C H Says:

    Now I want the tour.

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Sep '19

Trip Report: Waikiki With The In-Laws

It feels “odd” to call them “My In-laws”, but there is no blood connection with them, just very strong bonds. Jen is my dead brother Karl’s widow. Kennan is her husband. Jameson and Julian, who you’ve read about in this blog are Kennan’s nephews. In many ways, when they married, we became a three-family unit.

Jen and Kennan got to Hawaii a few days before me to check out the North Shore in a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner). Sounds like they had a great time, but you’ll have to ask them about that.

Do you think I packed enough for four nights at the beach?

It’s the wine that adds a bit to the packing. Sadly, it being a box and a bag style that usually has tools – it was unloaded with the other boxes. You think I pack a lot? This is just about half of the crates from my flight:

The place wasn’t ready as I arrived at noon for a 4pm check-in –this particular Wyndham has a bad reputation for slow room turnover, even with a mandatory 10am check-out. I headed next door to Giovanni’s with a 10% off coupon from the activities desk:

Nice place, though it feels like it’s the end of its lifespan (as in, it’s ready for a refresh):

Here is a panoramic video from our massive deck:

Tuesday as our big day:

  • Kamaka Ukulele Factory Tour
  • Liliha Bakery Café
  • Salvation Army for Aloha Shirts
  • Waikiki Farmers Market
  • Dinner at the condo

I’ll save the Kamaka Ukulele Factory Tour since that one will have a lot of photos.

So, that takes us to the Liliha Bakery Café, where I really like the fried chicken, which seems to be battered in a fish and chips-style beer batter. We got there a little before noon, and still had to wait to even get a seat at the counter. I blame the table of 20 elderly islanders, probably on their once-a-month lunch outing.

And, in a shocking twist, they now serve wine and beer – though the staff has no idea what “brand” it is. I took a chance with the “red” – which apparently, they store in the refrigerator. Because of that, it wasn’t bad. I assume it was out of a box. Didn’t ask what beer, that, they might have had a clue about (certainly, not on tap).

My chicken. I paid an extra $1.25 for the fried rice, but it also came with corn and a potato/mac salad:

Jen and Kennan split the grilled Mahi Mahi, also with fried rice and corn, but with a green salad.

Next stop was the Salvation Army on Nimitz, which Tuesday is Senior Discount Day with a 25% discount. Trust me, we are all over 55!

Sadly, their selection of Aloha Shirts was a third of what I’ve seen in the past, but at least Kennan found one.

Uber makes it really easy to get around, but all the places we’ve visited are on bus routes for a $5.50-day pass. With three people, it was Uber.

Next was the Waikiki Farmers Market – we came home with cut fruit, chicken curry, jerky, salad stuff – add some leftover rice and corn.

Wednesday was Pearl Harbor for Jen and Kennan – my chore was to find a real grocery store since the one that I have relied on for a decade of visiting Waikiki has been torn down for a new condo. Contrary to the Front Desk, who said there was no grocery store left in Waikiki – the Food Pantry just moved!

Yep – it’s a decent sized grocery store that is MUCH cheaper than the ABC Store and Deli (LARGE for an ABC Store).

I had a late lunch at Tommy Bahama’s Bar (above their store which is a block from the condo):

Blue cheese stuffed olives for their $10 Grey Goose Happy Hour Martini:

And the $10 2 for $10 Mahi Mahi Tacos…

They even brought a breadbasket with cinnamon butter!

But what caught my eye was this promotion that they were running – add $5 to your tab and get a $20 gift card valid next month (when I happen to be returning). Sign me up! Great cause, feeding hungry kids.

But going back to the in-condo cooking, the Food Pantry has everything from rice (for our rice cooker):

To Spam, panko flakes (for our last night’s dinner), whiskey, wine, you name it.

The one thing Food Pantry doesn’t have is Trump Memorabilia, which the ABC Store has a huge section:

We made some great meals in the condo!

On our last day, I got Kennan and Jen to come back to Tommy Bahama with me for an afternoon Happy Hour dessert….

As you can tell, I drank my dessert, just like my mother!

Friday, and we were all headed home, me a little later, and with time to grab breakfast in the combination AA/JAL lounge:

Yes, ramen and miso soup for breakfast.

I really like the Honolulu Airport because of the outdoor garden in the center of it (outside), but there are also the performances:

And next to the lounge, a public bathroom tucked away with bidet seats!

And a shot of the new ANA A380 that is dedicated to the Tokyo/Honolulu route (it’s a double decker):

Got upgraded to First Class (though via Portland) for the way home which meant a nice dinner on the plane.

It was a great trip with great company.


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2 Responses to “Trip Report: Waikiki With The In-Laws”

  1. Lifestyle Says:

    Very good blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..
    Any tips? Cheers!

  2. UncleMarkie Says:

    I use a heavily reformatted WordPress template that is hosted on a private server. I’d go for free until until you build an audience.

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Sep '19

Trip Report: PDX Mileage Run

In my quest to get to Alaska MVP Gold 75K faster than December, I decided to take a little day hop down to Portland. Even booked it in First (only a few dollars more since they are such short flights) so that I could have my favorite seat on an E175 – which is 1A, which is both a window and an aisle, and for the return, bulkhead aisle in one of the last Virgin America planes (they were bought by Alaska a couple of years ago) that hasn’t been renovated. They are much more comfortable than Alaskas, though their new First-Class seats are a step in that direction.

Here is what the numbers look like:


Flight 1901 PDX SEA






Flight 2662 SEA PDX





Last three columns are: Actual Miles, Bonus Miles, Total Miles Credited

The reason for some many bonus miles is that the minimum credit is 500 miles, and as an Alaska Gold MVP 75K I get a 125% bonus on top of that, and since I purchased the ticket in First Class (rather than upgraded), I get another 100% bonus. Whew.

Started the day in the C Concourse Lounge for a bagel-cream cheese and a hard-boiled egg (and some bubbles).

Then onto the plane:

Got settled into Seat 1A – and they came by to take drink orders for the quick flight:

One of the night reasons for getting 1A is that it is both a window and an aisle seat – and it’s on the mountain side of the flight path, though it was socked in today:

Got to Portland where to docked us at the FAR FAR end of the Horizon gates…got my steps in! And they’ve remodeled the Portland Lounge over the summer. Still no full bar, but there is now an Espresso Bar in addition to the beer and wines.

The footprint didn’t change, they just knocked out a conference room, turning it into a small administrative office, and put the check-in desk was, turning the former check-in desk into the espresso bar. It really opens the place up. Much lighter and airier.

After a couple of hours, it was back on the plane, which, being a full-size jet, was parked just across from the club.

And this is the former Virgin America First Class seat that I was talking about:

And now with me in it!

Got back to Seattle right about the time my buddy, Shua, got off. He works at Florette, which is affiliated with Café Flora in the Madison Valley. Went back to the C Concourse Lounge to hang out and wait for him.

Yes, they’ve added an espresso section to this lounge as well – the test for the concept was at the JFK Lounge.

And Shua finally made it during my third cocktail!

Last year I’d taken him into the United Club when I was on my way to Barcelona, and now I have a goal to get him into all the private lounges at the airport he works at, since as an employee he doesn’t get access to them.

Had a cocktail and a snack (no, not the green onions he is bringing home from work), walked down the beginning of C/D Concourse, popped in that lounge to show him around (it’s a two-floor affair), had another cocktail and some soup, and then took the train to the newest of the Alaska Lounges, the monstrous one on top of the North Concourse (see my review a couple of posts ago).

It was a fun day of playing around in airports/planes/clubs.

Curious where else I’m off to in the future?

Purchased reservations


Confirmation code


Seattle (SEA)

Fri, Sep 6, 2019


Kansas City (MCI)

Tue, Sep 10, 2019


Denver (DEN)

Tue, Sep 17, 2019


Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)

Mon, Sep 30, 2019


Honolulu (HNL)

Mon, Oct 14, 2019


Seattle (SEA)

Fri, Oct 18, 2019


Bogota (BOG)

Mon, Jan 27, 2020


Tokyo-Tokyo Narita (NRT)

Mon, Mar 2, 2020


London-Heathrow (LHR)

Tue, Mar 10, 2020



Still have to figure out my trip to Santa Fe in December to see sis/bro-in-law and The Colonels, And Shanghai to visit a friend who is teaching there.

Added bonus for today – I hit the Safeway discount racks on the way home. Here is the score:

And the savings.

Well, that it for today’s post.

[? ? ?]

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Sep '19

Trip Report: San Diego

Hard to believe that I haven’t flown anywhere in two months. I’m surprised my hands aren’t shaking.

Destination: San Diego WorldMark Balboa Park.

Haven’t stayed at the location in quite a while. An inexpensive Uber ride in from the airport, oddly with a driver I think I’ve had before. Cuban. Unlike WorldMark’s Inn At The Park, a bit further north, this closer to downtown location is just in a bit of what some might consider a “sketchy” neighborhood at night.

And at night:

And maybe it isn’t as “sketchy” since I saw this exotic sports car owner putting windshield washer fluid in at the gas station kitty corner from the resort…

Went out for food a couple of times. Brunch at the 12th and Broadway Restaurant. The menu was as uninspired at the name, but it was a $5.99 (cash only, +tax and tip):

Grabbed dinner from a couple of other places to bring back to the room, since neither served cocktails…one night it was Albert’s Fresh Mexican for the Chicken Mole Enchiladas (which were lukewarm after a two-block walk, so they didn’t start out super hot):

The next even was a little better grabbing something from the Dog Haus…their traditional brat with sauerkraut and brown mustard…

If you look closely (and I didn’t notice when I was in their – the sign says, “We Love Wieners”, and so do I. And that is a bunch of soldiers behind the beer taps (great place if you like beer). And they serve their dogs on Kings Hawaiian buns.

And I did a little window shopping at the Salvation Army – where I’ve scored really amazing stuff in the past.

Went back later in the visit to pick up the gown…$14.99, nice brocade work.

I’ll close this post with the most amusing sign that I saw at the resort, on the stairs to the rooftop deck. Please note the last prohibited item:

Just a quick trip south to keep my hands from shaking.

[? ? ?]

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Aug '19

Lounge Report: Alaska’s New Seattle N Concourse Lounge

Hard to believe I haven’t been in the air for TWO MONTHS. Might be a record. A couple of “firsts” for me today. The first time I’ve used CLEAR to clear security (took like two minutes – much faster than TSAPre) and my first visit to the new Alaska Lounge in the N Concourse.

16,000 square feet of bliss, that’s how I’d describe it:


Love the hanging lamps in the form of jet nacelles!

And the plane spotting!

Yes, this is one happy Uncle Markie.

Headed to San Diego for a couple of nights – getting back into travel mode!

[? ? ?]

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Aug '19

Home Report: Upgrading The Shop

Being home for the summer (other than a couple of trips to Whistler) give me more time to devote to the wine shop.

My business partner went out of town for 10 days and I decided to remodel the shop – first by widening the entry into the bathroom, turning a doorway into an opening and moving the wine fridge into the opening so people would actually know that we have cold whites, roses, and bubbles:

Our glasses cart is behind the fridge – and I made a display bit for all our corkscrews and other wine accessories.

Jim provided this new sink for the shop months ago, including a one-hole IKEA faucet.

I found a maple fronted drawer set at EarthWise (a house recycle place) for $35:

And Home Depot sliced down a sheet of ½” sheet of MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard)

Which got worked into this…

Which went into here…wish I’d taken a picture with the previous cobbled together counter and dishwasher cabinet…

Dishwasher is on the left above, to the right below.

I am not responsible for the water heater plumbing – that would be the clusterfuck of the previous landlord’s brother. At least I didn’t have to move any of it!

Here are the installed pieces:

I didn’t cut the sink hole out because as nice as MDF to mimic Maple, it doesn’t have much strength unless it is supported. It also shows the untreated wood. The Agua Spar is like $42 a pint – beautiful finish for cheap wood, but not cheap. It was the one piece that I actually made sawdust in the shop to cut it out.

Also note the floor is so uneven that I left space for a kickplate that I could taper back to the wall.

To get the kickplate trim routed out (1/4 round) with the right connections, I used some picture frame clamps….

Nice to have a woodshop in your garage.

Sink in!

And when you have a box of plumbing parts….which means I’ve done WAY more plumbing than I’d like to:

Only had to go back to the store to replace one pick that I had – but had a crack in it.

But the end result….

The counter let me move the microwave off a shelf across the room, and now the icemaker (that aqua-colored box) is on the counter.

Detail note – that is a wooden 6-bottle wine box that we are using as a lined trashcan.

Sadly, now I want to build a cabinet around the water heater and the Frankenstein plumbing.

But that is for another day.


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Aug '19

Home Report: Blue Angels

Last post I showed pictures of the Blue Angels parked – now see them in the air!

This will give you an idea of the viewing platform (aka Jonathan’s balcony):

Went online and got the live feed from King County Airport which was holding all traffic while the show was going.

Made some chicken salad and cole slaw on Hawaiian buns, brought over some cocktails. A great way to enjoy the VERY RARE Sunday off when I’m actually in Seattle.


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Aug '19

Home Report: TPG (The Points Guy) Event At The Museum Of Flight

Not on the road as much this summer, so fewer posts. This one so close to home that I could have (but didn’t) walk it. The Museum of Flight is about a mile from my house.

Oddly, the parking lot was closed, as was the east entrance – and now I know why.

Yep – the parking lot was filled with Blue Angels who are performing this weekend at SeaFair.

The Points Guy event was, of course, filled with Aviation Geeks. I might have passed on it but your $100 entrance fee was a donation to the Rainbow Railroad, which provides support (and funds) to get LGBTQ folks out of countries where their love is a crime. And the event came with a swag bag:

Free wine (and beer, and soda):

And seriously delicious nibbles from McCormick and Schmick’s catering.

Mostly it was people milling about, eating, drinking…

And the presentation was only 30-45 minutes. Learned a few things. Got to brag to people about my March Around The Globe trip for only 140,000 miles in a combination of business and first.

Most of the museum was closed, though you could wander around the main gallery.

Fun way to spend a Tuesday night. Definitely came home stuffed and buzzed.


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Jul '19

Life Report: Happy 13th Anniversary

Realized that today is the 13th Anniversary of my first blog post.

Wonder what is was? I was starting a trip to China to go on a Viking River Cruise with The Colonels.

Here is the link: https://blog.unclemarkie.com/2006/07/30/seattle/

What a long strange trip it’s been – thank you for coming along.


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2 Responses to “Life Report: Happy 13th Anniversary”

  1. Debora Dye Says:

    13 years…is that all? I’m glad you do this.Pretty joyful! Thank you!

  2. UncleMarkie Says:

    Every year around the anniversary I wonder if anyone actually reads my blog. Thank you for reading all these years!

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Jul '19

Trip Report: Whistler For The Last Time This Summer

Last trip to Whistler – this time with Bliss. Nice to have someone to share the expenses and the driving.

You’ve all seen the pictures of the units I stay in, so this will be a brief post.

Stopped at Duty Free (as always), and since Kevin doesn’t drink much (somebody has to even me out), I grabbed two 1.14ltrs of Jack Daniels. Not my favorite whiskey, but they had a “two-fer” with a Jack Daniels bag (to go with my Jack Daniels hat from a couple of years ago, which is my “Miata Hat”.

It’s a surprisingly well-made bag. Thick canvas that’s lined. To bad there isn’t a pocket or two.

Got to check in a little early – which means dumping stuff and heading to Guest Services to pick up a season pass. Amazingly, they keep using the picture from five years ago for mine:

We caught almost the last lift up for the day…not even time for a cocktail, but Tuesday, we were up the mountain and onto Whistler Express to the top.

It was a GREAT weather day on Whistler…here is a view of the sky bridge:

But if you want a 360-degree tour, click on the video:

And as long as I’m doing videos, here is one going down the Blackcomb Gonola towards the village.

We rewarded ourselves for the big hick earlier with lunch in Blackcomb Village at Milestones – a favorite:

Apparently, I was hungry and ate the food before getting a picture! But they make a GREAT Gin and Tonic (garnished with fresh sage and a skewered ribbon of cucumber.

Wednesday was a little more socked in…

Probably should have worn long pants – but at least I refueled with an Old Fashioned at the Umbrella Bar:

We grabbed lunch in the Rendezvous Lodge (20% off for Season Pass holders) – I went for the Kid’s Fish and Chips – which comes with 3 “sides” (two edamame, one protein bar), Bliss went for the grilled salmon burger on a gluten-free bun. There were twice as many fries before I got the camera out:

See the water bottle on the tray – a new one. Ordered it off of Amazon and bought a sticker up on the mountain for it.

It’s a really good water bottle with two lids (complete seal and pop-top drinking). At the end of the day, there were still ice cubes tinkling around!

Lots of stuff going on in Whistler in the summer – live performances…

Sort of a bogey-wogey band – she’s a great singer, and a decent bugle player – yes, BUGLE – look in her left hand.

The last day on the mountain, Bliss went hiking. I went for more gondola rides and ended up at the Umbrella Bar for an afternoon snack of their Ensalada Caprese, and a Collins…

They really do have GREAT food.

Now that I am at the end of my Whistler trips for the summer, I’ll share the results of the ROI on my Season 360 Experience pass:

That’s the last adventure until the end of August.


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Jul '19

Trip Report: Whistler Second Visit

One of these days I get tired of Whistler in the Summer. Not yet.

Trip number two this summer, mostly in pictures. The trip started with a Sunday night at Birch Bay.

Ribs on the grill, whiskey in the glass. Not a bad way to pass an evening.

Morning finds us on the road again!

Picked up DancingBear’s Summer Pass and grabbed a late afternoon gondola up the mountainside:

And a cocktail and a split sandwich at The Umbrella Bar:

Great scenery! Even with a few clouds.

Our late lunch meant a late steak dinner…

And look what we have for breakfast the next morning!

And up the hill, and across the valley we go:

And onto a bus, and up another hill to have a glass of wine…and watch some glacier skiing.

Here is a little video of the way down….

Lunch in Blackcomb Village (Milestones):

And we saw a bear on the way back up the mountain!

A little more “gondolaing” and down the hill we went to fix our dinner:

Oh, what a difference a day makes…weather wise.

So, we grabbed a little lunch….back at the Umbrella Bar:

Before heading up Whistler Mountain…in the clouds…

Yep – not a warm day for the middle of July.

We found a Farmer’s Market at Blackcomb Village and grabbed some vegies for dinner.

Mick signed up the “The Sasquatch” Zip Line – a little over a hundred Canadian.

And back up the mountain:

Here is the video of his mountain-to-mountain zipline:

While DancingBear was Zipping, I was Zogging – as in Zog’s Dogs.

Sadly, not as good as I remembered. And slow to boot.

Before I realized it, it was time to head back to Seattle.

Another trip to Whistler done.

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Jul '19

Trip Report: Return From The Big Apple

One of the downsides of the Wyndham New York Midtown is the 10am checkout. It’s a serious drag to get packed up, bags put in storage for the afternoon since my flight isn’t until 6:30.

Caught an early lunch with Russ (11:30am, when they opened) at The Grand Central Oyster Bar – close to where Russ works, and just a couple of blocks from the condo. About 11:15 a line started forming…

Nothing like a breakfast Beefeater Martini…

Followed by oysters…

Followed by Lox Eggs Benedict….

Great way to finish a trip to NYC with Russ:

Found this picture of both Russ and Ranger Sierra after the last post, so, randomly, here it is:

Back to the condo for the bags, then back to Grand Central to catch the train to JFK…

Got slightly misdirected getting to the airport, but finally found my way – though I was sweaty when I arrived, and not to the terminal I was leaving from. I wanted to see the new TWA Hotel, the 60’s JFK icon repurposed into a hotel. Downside is that the JetBlue terminal it’s attached to is a long walk from the SkyTrain.

They are still working through the last bits of the Punch List, but it’s a cool space, though underutilized, and a long haul walking (especially with luggage). They should pick up a couple of Checker Aeroporters and runs a shuttle from all the terminals. I couldn’t check my bags until four hours before my flight, so I was plenty tired by the time I hit check-in (which, thankfully, was quick). This should give you an idea why…

As I was in the short line I got a text that my plane was now delayed by at least four hours…though about going back to the TWA Hotel for a cocktail in the restored Connie, but I was done walking any further than the lounge.

Nice office, right? And great plane spotting! A BA 747 in the retro-BOAC livery.

And their usual livery…

And then all the random national airlines like Air Serbia, and Aerolineas Argentinas…

If there is a silver lining about the flight delay, it’s that I looked on-line, and they swapped aircraft. I was supposed to be on old Virgin America metal, now I’m on one of new NEO’s with the updated interior…and the new First Class seats!

And on the flight we have a boat load up high school juniors on our flight:

Not that I care, since with the new interior, there are 16 first class seats as opposed to 8 – and I got one!

And the new interior!

And it came with dinner – which is good because the lounge shut down at 10pm – and they’d pulled the soup and salad at eight.

I was surprised that they had DigiPlayers on board, thought those were being phased out. Ended up watching The Aftermath – set in WWII. Worth watching, though not a light drama.

Didn’t get to bed until 2:45am, but actually managed a couple of hours of sleep on the plane – a rarity.


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Jul '19

Trip Report: Big Apple

New York isn’t someplace that I really want to visit in July due to the heat and no cheap plane tickets.

Flew into Newark (EWR) on United, using a ton (50,000 miles) for my First Class seat. Before the airline switched to “dynamic pricing” of its award seats, it would have been half that. But I had them in the account, so why not (other than it would have gotten me one-way to Europe in Busienss). And I did get my favorite seat…

Nothing like a pre-flight cocktail when you had to get up at 4:30am. And then there was breakfast:

Actually got a couple of hours of sleep on the plane – must be exhaustion since I don’t usually sleep on planes.

And, the plane was running about 45 minutes late. Add being next to the last stop on the airport shuttle, I was almost 5pm by the time I got to the condo – but boys (Gnarlene and Scott) had already been hanging out for an hour in the lobby – pooped from walking.

Nice place The Colonels got us:

Sadly, no balcony, though there is a communal one up on 33 – we are on the 20th Floor. Decent place, decent view:

A big shout out to Scott for the FABULOUS pictures from his iPhone. Compare his to mine – mind you, it was evening when I took mine.

From the 33rd Floor common area which was PACKED with people. Lots of things lit up in the city to celebrate World Pride this weekend, which we will miss.

The first evening we had company… Ranger Sierra, who is now a Park Ranger for Grant’s Tomb.

Heavy appetizers and more whiskey than Sierra is used to. Made good use of the fold-out couch!

Everybody in the condo slept in with all the travelling, and it being Sierra’s day off. Nice to have someone make coffee!

With the UN being just a couple of blocks away, we decided to get tickets for the tour:

I had taken the tour a decade ago, but Sierra hadn’t ever, and it was on his list.

Without an oven in our kitchen (though it does have a four burner stovetop), most of our dinners in were heavy appetizers from the Amish Market just up the street:

Not the cheapest, but they have an amazing amount of stuff packed into that space.

And then Russ (another friend who lives in the city) showed up with a more substantial meal of empanadas and salad.

I met Russ during my Microsoft days – I don’t see him often enough.

We all took in the sunset up on the balcony:

Lovely evening….always nice hanging with friends you haven’t seen for years.

The next day found me at Grant’s Tomb, though Sierra tour was cancelled sadly.


On my NYC adventure I’ve been trying to just do one big thing a day – blame it on the heat, or my laziness. Final day’s “thing” is dinner with Gnarlene and Scott in Chinatown.

Our restaurant choice…Ping:

With its odd payment rules:

Usually it NO American Express because the fees are more expensive.

Just the right around of food – enough to be full, but nothing left to take home. And yes, I was drinking a beer (they don’t serve hard liquor).

And then over to Little Italy:

Back on the subway to Grand Central – thought I show you that even the Metro Cards are celebrating Pride:

A fun four nights in the city that doesn’t sleep.

Tomorrow I’ll post the return home as it is its own adventure.

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Jun '19

Trip Report: Whistler — First Trip Of The Summer

Nothing like this on a driving trip:

Had a BUNCH of 10 cent off Safeway Rewards. They only let me use 10 of them.

We left on Sunday after I got off work – fortunately Mags lives close to the shop. Was only able to grab a one-bedroom at Birch Bay – Mags was on the Murphy Bed.

Since we had a grill, we grilled, we ate, we slept.

Morning brought an early “Owner Re-education Camp” at 8:30am – which I shouldn’t do, and won’t, ever again. Here was my “breakfast”:

Got out of the meeting, packed up, and headed north over the border, to have lunch with Solus+ at Two Lions Public House….Burger and cocktail special…$8.50 doubles

And Larry’s Poutine….

We were in Whistler by 3, and our room was even ready. Dumped our shit and headed into the village to get our lift tickets.

And our lovely dinner that evening…

In the morning, up the mountain we go!

And across to Whistler Mountain…

Onto a bus…

And up further and further – on the 7th Heaven Express…

To see Glacier skiing…

And to film a birthday video for one of my vendors from my Microsoft days…

Before heading back down Blackcomb Mountain…

To have lunch in Blackcomb Village at Milestones, which used to have a great Old Fashioned, but now it’s a Peach Bellini…

Here is the list of lifts that are open this visit:

We decided to walk back to Whistler and the condo….

And hang out by the pool since the sun was out…

The next day Larry went up early, but I was rewarded with the first bear sighting (for me) of the season!

It’s early in the season, so they are still at the lower elevations. It was a pretty clear day on the mountains:

And I was rewarded with two more bears in the afternoon!

Days were spent on the mountain during the day and cooking our meals at night. The car didn’t move once for the four nights we were there.

The final day, saw the final bear of the trip (other than me):

This was trip number of either three or four…last one in August is up in the air as it isn’t in Whistler, but Creekside and the lifts are running for sightseeing this year

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Jun '19

Trip Report: Portland For A Food Show

Got back on the train headed to Portland (from my overnight stop in Centralia) at this wonderful 1912 station:

This time I’m travelling in coach, but it was in the transition car with Bistro at the other end, so the seating layout was the same as Business, just no coupon for $3.00 or newspapers. It’s only an hour and a half, so no bit deal considering I get 20% off Bistro items when I use my Amtrak Mastercard. No photo – sorry.

Hello Portland!

And hello to the new WorldMark Portland Waterfront after a short Uber ride:

And some of their common areas:

And our room!

Dinner tonight is a LeChon – specializing in South American dishes. We started with Martinis (how South American!), and then ordered several small plates: pork belly with leek griddle cake, asparagus, and our favorite, the grilled octopus:

The main reason for the trip was a food show by one of my suppliers – two floors of food, snacks and WAY too much cheese. Again, no photos – it was sensory overload of samples to eat, samples to take home and I could only take it for an hour. Had to go back to the condo (via the liquor store) and take a nap. The fact that we were running around the city in 90-degree heat didn’t help.

Evening found us entertaining a mutual old friend for a couple of cocktails and conversation before heading out to Portland Burger for some take-out. It was a good decision since the place was also a music venue and loud as crap.

Had to check out by noon – and our train wasn’t until 3:30, so off to Jakes Crawfish for a decadent lunch courtesy of a $50 certificate (but the bill was another $50 on top of that). Jakes is one of my treats – Martinis, oysters, and salads.

Off to the train station – an access to the lounge for both of us (courtesy of me being in Business Class) was a nice end to our visit. Rache is getting off in Kelso.

I’ll close with some scenery shots from the train home:

I do love a good train trip.


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Jun '19

Trip Report: Train To Centralia

After being home for weeks, I’m finally back on the road – well, the rails. Headed to Portland for a food show, but Centralia is the first stop.

King Street Station in Seattle is as lovely as always:

And there was a cool “company car” parked on a siding…

It belongs to the Department of Transportation’s Federal Railway Administration. Here are the details on the car labeled DOTX 221:

Rail Car DOTX 221 which is part of Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Automated Track Inspection Program (ATIP). This car, built in 1954 has a long history It is the former CNRR to VIA “CAPE BULE”. Sold into private ownership for many years then to FRA.  Built as a 4 double-bedroom, buffet, lounge.  No rear facing windows. The car has been retrofitted to do autonomous survey work. No longer requires crews on it. 

Got upgraded to Business by using a coupon, so I had a little more room:

And, at least until the end of the year, it followed the sound through Tacoma.

I’d booked a room at McMennimans Olympic Hotel, which has a long history and is as old as the current Centralia train station:

With a beautiful check in area…

But the entrance is next door and up a bunch of stairs:

All the rooms share baths – fortunately they are plentiful.

There is also an on-site restaurant with some of the nicest urinals I’ve seen:

Along with a nice interior…

I started with a flight of McMenamins reds:

It was happy hour so I ordered a couple of things (which I couldn’t finish). The Pulled Pork Sliders (a little dry) and the Cajun Tots (WAY too many):

Followed by a whiskey drink:

And then an early bedroom. No TV (or phone) in the room, but Wi-Fi.

Breakfast the next morning found me there again for the half order of Eggs Benedict:

I’ll pick up the tail tomorrow as my trip continues to Portland.

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