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Archive for June, 2005

A Weekend at San Juan

June 27, 2005 Leave a comment

Last week Tracy and I decided to take a weekend trip to the San Juan Islands. We left Saturday afternoon but didn’t get in until late Saturday night because there was an accident outside of Everett. Traffic on I-5 crawled for tens of miles.

We did have a nice seafood dinner on the cheap. You have to love the coast. We walked around Friday Harbor and out onto the piers.

Sunday morning we traveled to the west side of the island to Salish Sea Charters, who’s motto is "Start where the whales are". Quite true. As several places stated, most of the boats are from Victoria and have to travel quite far to get to San Juan Island’s west coast, and other tours depart from Friday Harbor on the east side of the island. It was a nice trip and we got to see a lot of orcas, as well as many facts from our naturalist. We also saw orcas from 3 different pods – the J, K, and L pods that stick around the Pacific Northwest.

We ended Sunday with a ride from Friday Harbor to the American Camp in the southeast corner of the island in what’s called a scootcar. It’s a half-covered, two-rider car that’s rather small but fun to drive. When we landed back on the mainland we stopped by an old-fashioned A&W that actually had mozza burgers – the only A&W in Washington we’ve found so far that even knows what a mozza burger is!

I’ll post a few pictures of our trip in the photo album.

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Categories: Travel

Best Online Site for Real Estate in Seattle

June 25, 2005 Leave a comment

While lounging around and talking Friday evening in our test manager’s office, one of our PMs alerted us to what’s quite possibly the best online site for real estate in Seattle: Redfin.

It uses a Flash animation with detailed satellite imagery like maps.google.com (though they don’t use Flash) but shows the houses currently for sale along with pictures and shows what houses sold for in the past, which Boris, our PM, pointed out was a little eerie but definitely helpful for home buyers.

It’s also nice because they charge you a mere $500 to list your home on Redfin but also in the MLS, or Multiple Listing Service – a national listing of homes for sale. $500 compared to the 3% or, more commonly, 6% of your home’s value is a huge difference when decent homes start at about $350,000 currently.

Loose Spark Plugs Causing Gas Fumes

June 17, 2005 Leave a comment

We finally got our Saturn in to the mechanic to have it examined to determine why we were smelling gas – not exhaust – fumes. It was recently in for a 30,000 mile check-up (about 4,000 miles late) and was fine. Soon after we started smelling gas, especially when idling.

So we took it back into the mechanic and they looked it over and said there was no gas leaks (I could’ve told them that) and that if it persisted to bring it in. To make a long story short, we finally brought it back in.

They weren’t able to figure it out this time, either, so I called Saturn to set up an appointment. The mechanic at Saturn said this sounded odd, but familiar, and that they worked on a the same problem before and to have the mechanic to check the torque on the spark plugs.

After a couple rounds of "call the other guy" the first mechanic did and found 3 loose spark plugs. There was just enough gap that you couldn’t hear them rattle but that the fuel/air mixture was escaping into the engine compartment. They tightened them and the smell is almost gone (a little residual, but should be fine by this weekend).

What’s bad is that these were the OEM spark plugs and neither the mechanic nor I have touched them. But hey, at least it’s not a Ford!

Categories: Travel

A Day at Twin Falls

June 13, 2005 Leave a comment

Tracy and I spent the day at Twin Falls off I-90 near North Bend, WA. It was a nice hike that gave us some good exercise but was also relaxing at times. I got a chance to go rock-jumping again like I used to, bounding across the rocks in the South Fork of Snoqualmie River. Tracy tried too, and you can see what happened below!  Oops!

The cascading falls were very lovely. Near the trail head was a sign that says during the peak of the winter thaw 75,000 gallons of water per second rush over the cascading falls! I doubt there was that much after our dry winter this year, but even half of that is still a lot of water!

We almost made it to the end of the trail but got so close to I-90 that we could barely hear each other and were starting to hike under power lines. It was hardly natural and it was getting late anyway.

We did see a lot of berries along the way. They looked like raspberries but were much more prickly. Don’t worry, though, Tracy didn’t actually eat it. I’m still trying to determine what they are. The wildlife must like them, though – this was one of the only ripe ones we could find and few bushes had many left on them anyway.

We hope you enjoy the pictures.

Categories: Travel

I’m Happy about Blisters

June 12, 2005 Leave a comment

For the first time in sooo many years I have blisters from drumming again!

Tracy and I spent the evening with friends in one of their Seattle apartments and he has an electric set and thick walls. I played for quite some time and got a couple of blisters. It’s no where close to the calluses on my fingers and my palms below the finger joints like I had when I was in high school and had played percussion for a decade and a half, but it’s certainly a good start! Playing my djembe will help tone the ol’ bones to handle the vibrations, too.

Categories: Hobbies