Sunday, September 10, 2017

What is special?

The good new is we can see the Sun again. Breathe the air, go outside, see blue sky (rare enough here). Had rain. (Never been so grateful.)

The bad news is now that the Sun is out, I can't see it. Not when I wake up anyway. This actually started August 31st: My alarm clock sounded before sunrise.

Worse: Just when it starts to go the other way - literally, the day it would be sunrise at or before 6:30 am again - Daylight Saving Time shifts the clock an hour and we start all over. Which means it's April 12th before I see the light of day again (in my waking moments). This, in addition to my current occupation, may contribute to my overall grumpiness in Spring. Be prepared. (Or send chocolate.)

Is this preemptive grumpiness? Yes. It is a warning.

Lest we leave it on a sour note, more good news: A blind long snapper finally got to enter a live game in the fourth quarter of USC’s win over Western Michigan. Jake Olson "nailed the snap while his teammates and the crowd went wild." (Pete Carroll cried.)

Special, indeed.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The hills are on fire.

Eagle Creek is 30 miles from where I live, although on the other side of the Columbia River.

This article from The Columbian includes a pretty amazing photo as well:
Officials extend air-pollution advisory
(Stevenson, by the way, is halfway between where I live and where my brother lived until very recently.)

Ash has been falling here since Monday. I didn't go outside at all on Tuesday and I haven't been outside at all today. No doubt, the ash is clogging our A/C filters. The ash in the air is think enough to block the sun's rays. Not completely, but it feels a little like the eclipse. The available light is eerie and temperatures are slightly lower because of the diffused light. The sun is glowing a deep orange rather than a bright yellow, looking more like Mars than the Sun.

I-84 and Highway 14 have been closed, school and outdoor events have been canceled, towns have been evacuated.

Wildfires aren't new. What is new is how close I am to them now. (Rather, how close they are to me.) I'm not native to the area but I've lived here most of my life now. As for ash, I moved here after the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980. Then, the ash spewed was far worse as you can see here.

We are headed to Seattle this weekend, a little more than 150 miles north of here, where ash is falling from fires in Central Washington.

This map will show you how much these (and other) fires are affecting the country. Just showing the fires and smoke layers yielded this image:

This is truly spooky, a little bit scary, and a very sad for the people whose lives are forever altered by these fires. NOAA is reporting a Red Flag Warning for the area which means thunderstorms with abundant lightning is forecast, combined with critically dry fuels which may result in numerous fire starts. These conditions "can contribute to extreme fire behavior." West winds will continue through Thursday.

We could use the rain but lightning we can do without. Maybe a quick trip to Boston is in order. I hear there a lot of rain out there. (Flash floods? Egads! Is no one safe?)

Friday, September 1, 2017

A three-day brews cruise - just in time for Labor Day Weekend

Last weekend, we took a few days to visit breweries in the Puget Sound area and the Georgetown, SoDo, and Capital Hill neighborhoods of Seattle. But first, the commute. On the way we stopped at Dick's Brewing NW Sausage & Deli in Centralia where we had a French Dip sandwich and a Pale Ale. Dick's is located in what we call the "beer desert" - the 110 miles between Vancouver (WA) and Olympia, 60 miles south of Seattle, with only half a dozen breweries between the two. The good news is there are more coming: McMenamin's is building a new location in Kalama, Dick's will have a new location in downtown Central, both coming in 2018, and we just discovered Flood Valley Brewing is in Chehalis. Finally, an oasis!

While several breweries in the Puget Sound area are accessible by boat, we did this cruise by car. Our next stop was at Silver City Restaurant and Brewery in Silverdale where we paired their Clear Creek Pale Ale with their Crispy Cod Tacos for a satisfying snack. Next, was Downpour Brewing in Kingston where we shared a flight and tossed the bags on their back patio. Downpour is an easy, albeit uphill, walk a half mile from the Kingston Ferry Terminal (from Edmonds) and Port of Kingston which means it is absolutely accessible by boat. If you're in Kingston by boat, I recommend making the trek uphill.

Further away, is Hood Canal Brewery which is another four miles away. It's a small brewery worth your time, but you will need a car. The buses don't go that far and Uber and taxi service are non-existent. If you're a WABL member and filling out your passport, note that nearby CB's Nuts is a WABL sponsor. Stop in, check them out, and get a stamp. I didn't figure this out until after we had left Kingston so I'm not sure what the connection between organic roasted nuts and craft beer is (do they also roast malts?). The only way to find out is vast them and ask so be sure you do and let them know you appreciate their WABL sponsorship.

Our last stop for this Thursday was Rainy Daze Brewing in Poulsbo. We shared a flight there where the Rainy Daze Rye IPA stood out for me. Rainy Daze where "it's not the size of your system—it's how you use it" is a larger facility, with a cool vibe and where their nearly 20 wood tap handles are crafted by local artists. Award winning beers, with front row seating to the brewing facilities, and a beautiful bar make for a good experience.

Friday's expedition started with a flight at Slippery Pig in Poulsbo. Of the three we tried, the Boldur's Blonde stood out for us. We also stopped at Valhöll Brewing Company, also in Poulsbo, where the bartender/owner was very gracious. We enjoyed a pint of the Dry Hop Warrior Golden Ale. Both these breweries are accessible by foot if you are staying at the Port of Poulsbo Marina. Slippery Pig is a few short steps from the marina while Valhöll is a quarter mile away.

Before leaving Poulsbo, we made a quick stop at Sound Brewery. This is only 1.5 miles away from the Port. The roads were busy in some places but it is possible to navigate by bike or bus, if you happen to be in in Poulsbo by way of boat. There, we had a very smooth Munich Dunkel which was quite satisfying. They also have food, if you're hungry.

Our last stop for the day was Bainbridge Island Brewing where we sampled a flight of northwest IPAs. Our favorite was the Windfall Grapefruit IPA. Despite their logo, which looks like a ferry boat, Bainbridge Island Brewing does not supply beers to the Washington State ferry system. Although there are several local craft breweries that do, Bainbridge Island Brewing isn't one of them. (The breweries that have that honor are listed here.) This brewery is located in an industrial complex that also features a winery, a distillery, and a coffee roaster. There is also a gym located there that we studiously avoided.

Saturday was a busy day of focused brewery touring. After taking the ferry from Eagle Harbor to Seattle, we headed to Counterbalance Brewing. This small, out of the way spot in the Georgetown neighborhood south of Seattle seemed to be favored by locals and other beer industry types. We tried the Passion Fruit Hibiscus Farmhouse Ale and the Bohemian Pilsner, both delicious in their respective lanes.

From there we ventured to Lowercase Brewing where the bartenders are friendly, the menu is informative (thank you), and the beer is delicious. A former auto shop, their remodeled interior used  reclaimed wood from nearby Boeing for their wood paneled walls. We had the Double Black IPA, a collaboration with Flying Lion, which was outstanding. From there, it was only a quarter mile to Machine House Brewery where we had the Matrimonial Pale Ale which, brewed specifically for the brewer's wedding. Cheers!

A mere 52 feet away, we stopped by another WABL sponsor, Full Throttle Bottles, who was closed for remodeling after a recent ownership change. Nothing to do but venture forth so we headed to Two Beers Brewing Company who was celebrating with Seattle Cider the latter's fourth anniversary. We were still outside while this video was being taken (posted on Facebook). Once we gained entrance, however, we savored a pint of Return of the Tonic. "Looks weird but tastes good," was the advice and it was correct on both counts. This cider was made with ginger, carrot, turmeric and who knows what else? Highly unusual and extraordinarily delicious.

Next was Schooner Exact Brewing which was also crowded as we happened by while they were participating in a block party with their nine winery neighbors. Unable to find parking, we purchased a bomber to go and moved on to Seapine Brewing which was closed for a private event. This place looked interesting so we will definitely want to come back. Luckily, Ghostfish Brewing was right around the corner. And, we were able to find on-street parking.

Everything on the Ghostfish menu is gluten free - the beer as well as the food. They use traditional brewing methods with non traditional ingredients to produce some really great beers. Their taproom is big and open with indoor and outdoor seating with friendly and knowledgeable servers. The samples we tasted were varied and creative. We settled on the Vanishing Point Pale and Grapefruit IPA and liked them both.

Although we would have liked to have sampled some of Ghostfish's food items, we settled on the Ultimate Beer Burger - because bacon jam - at Pyramid Brewing Company at their Seattle Alehouse. Located across the street from Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, this place can be busy on game days. It was not, the day we visited, so we had ample parking and quick, friendly service. There, we shared a Outburst Citrus IPA (7% ABV) which was just perfect on the outside patio.

Before wrapping up our day's tour, we stopped by a WABL sponsor, The Pine Box, where they have 32 beers and ciders on tap from a wide range of breweries and cideries. Located on the Capital Hill neighborhood of Seattle, this place was just starting to get busy on a Saturday evening when we arrived.

Just as the sun was starting to set, we had our last beer of the day at Redhook's new Brewlab which opened August 14th. Located in the old Pike Motorworks Building, we had no trouble finding the place since we used to have our cars serviced there some years ago. This is one of the largest spaces we've visited. Plenty of room which included two patios and two fire pits for cooler Seattle evenings. Redhook has a long history in Seattle as its first microbrewery. While their main operations are consolidated in Portland, the Seattle Brewlab is a place where they will create the next generation of Redhook brews.

Sunday was draft day for our NFL fantasy team so we didn't make any brewery visits which isn't to say we didn't enjoy any beer. We cracked open a Gin Botanical that we purchased earlier from Seattle Cider and the Hopvine IPA we purchased at Schooner Exact. No doubt they aided in our draft picks for the season.

What ever you end up doing this Labor Day weekend, be sure to stop in and visit your favorite craft brewery for refreshment. We will be home, painting the house. But, it won't be long before we're on the road again, looking for new craft breweries to try.

To our friends who will be in Poulsbo this weekend, sorry we could be there with you. Cheers!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Brews Cruise

In an ongoing effort to visit more craft breweries in the state of Washington than anyone else (watch out, Bob - you know who you are), we set out to visit the breweries of the Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods of Seattle. We managed to visit twelve in a single day and we did it by boat. (Actually, mostly on foot.)

Near Urban Family Brewing Co.
We cruised on a 2002 Formula 37PC from Lake Washington to Fishermen's Terminal, got a slip for the night, then set off on foot to Urban Family Brewing Company which specializes in the eclectic. Although they have a couple of IPAs, their focus is on experimental beers (mostly sours) using a variety of fruits. While sipping a flight of sours, we downloaded the app for an urban bike sharing program called Lime Bike. We found and rented a couple of bikes which allowed us to get to Hale's Ales, about 2.5 miles away.

There were certainly better routes to choose (via the South Ship Canal Trail or over the Ballard/Hiram M. Chittendon Locks) but we crossed the Lake Washington Ship Canal via the Ballard Bridge. The narrow sidewalks and opposing bike and pedestrian traffic made for a harrowing experience but the ride was free*.

Our route, first half:

See promo codes below for your free ride.
We were certainly ready for refreshment by the time we got to Hale's Ales. We cooled off with a pale ale and a sausage and spinach popover. Bad Jimmy's Brewing was less than 500 feet away so we locked the bikes and left them at Hale's Ales. Bad Jimmy's is a small brewery housed in what feels like a large garage (or small warehouse) with a roll up door, small but comfortable patio, and lofted space with more than a half dozen pinball machines. We had the Cucumber Lime Blonde and broke out the quarters.

Our next stop was about a half mile away, Populuxe Brewing. They had a large selection of IPAs on tap. This is a good place to have a flight to compare the profiles of various hops. They also had a large, family friendly, outdoor space complete with two corn hole sets and an adjacent food truck. This was where we encountered our first Cycle Saloon which was a great endorsement for Pupuluxe. We were just glad we had ordered before they got there!

Next was Lucky Envelope Brewing which was just a couple blocks away and where we encountered our second Cycle Saloon. We were on a popular pilgrimage! This time, we weren't as lucky with the beer line. We shared a Blood Orange Session IPA while watching a couple of corn hole games in progress on their smallish outdoor patio.

From there, we made our way to Stoup Brewing. Stoup had a young vibe, crowded on this now early Saturday evening. This was clearly a popular spot. There, we shared a pint of their Mosaic Pale Ale - a good one. (Stoup Brewing was also the 100th unique Washington craft brewery visit since I started keeping track with the WABL passport. Cheers!)

Tap list at Reuben's Brews
A few blocks later, we were at Reuben's Brews. This place was really hopping! There, we shared an r&R Pilsner - a collaboration beer with Rainier Beer. This combination elicited an "ew" when I first heard about it. Nothing against Rainier Beer - iconic in these part of the woods. However, the thought of Rainier Beer reminds me of the cheap swill I drank many years ago. What I can tell you now, however, is that I highly recommend the r&R Pilsner. It's definitely worthy of your time. Speaking of time, it's time for me to reconsider Rainier Beer!

About a third of a mile away was Maritime Pacific Brewing Company which had large indoor and outdoor spaces and food. From there, we walked the half mile to  NW Peaks Brewery at the old Spinnaker Bay Brewing location. There, I would recommend the Eldorado Pale Ale. A short block away was Peddler Brewing which is not exclusive to cyclists. Rather, this place was busy with people using all modes of transportation. It featured a large outdoor space with corn hole and a food truck out back.

Crossing the Ballard Bridge again (this time on foot), we aimed for Rooftop Brew Co where they just celebrated their fourth anniversary. This is a small, family-friendly place that is, quite literally, located on a rooftop.

Our route, second half:

Even though we had snacked our way through the afternoon at several locations, we took a dinner break, feasting on a whole crab at Chinook's at Salmon Bay. Sated, we visited our last brewery for the day, Figurehead Brewing Company, only steps away. We sampled the Bigger Than Brown in this friendly and intimate spot and enjoyed the company of like-minded patrons.

The best way to visit a brewery is to sit at the bar and order a flight or a pint. Whoever is behind the bar, if not the owner, is likely to be very informative about their beers. You're also likely to chat with other patrons who are invariably friendly. But, if your goal is to visit as many breweries as possible, you have to pace yourself. Give yourself plenty of time, don't drive, and don't order full pints unless you're sharing it with someone. 10oz, 8oz, 4oz, or even 2oz options are often available. Remember to eat and drink plenty of water. If you're not feeling fine the next morning, you did it wrong. Or, spread out your visits. This tour would be easy enough if you spent a weekend taking the time to enjoy each brewery in turn.

Washington craft breweries are becoming more and more ubiquitous. I finished writing this post at the Vancouver Library where, behind me, sits a man with a shirt from Bushnell Craft Brewing Company which is located in Redmond, WA.  We visited that brewery the day before this Brews Cruise but that's a different story.

*Use one of these promo codes for Lime Bike and your first three rides are free.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hubby to Father who is planning to visit: Don't come here. It's hot and smoky.

Father: Sorry, son. I thought you were saved.
Barista: Can I get a drink started for you?

Me: No, thanks. Just a pound of coffee beans today.

Barista: Need them ground?

Me: No, thanks.

Barista: Old school, huh? Tell me: how do you do it? Do you just dump the beans in and push a button to make coffee, or what?

Me: No, I have separate machines: coffee grinder and espresso maker. I can only make coffee one cup at a time.

Barista: That really is old school.

Me: The machine is made by Saeco but I bought it 15-20 years ago when it was sold under your label.

Barista: I should get a machine like that.

Me: I have a spare. . . .

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Crickets cannot tell time

... but they can tell the temperature. According to the Farmer's Almanac:
To convert cricket chirps to degrees Fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 14 seconds, then add 40 to get the temperature.  
Example: 30 chirps + 40 = 70° F 
This was verified by
Dr. Peggy LeMone of The GLOBE Program (a science education program funded by NASA, NOAA, NSF, and others). . . .
However, she concluded that temperature was more accurately measured by chirp counts at 13 seconds plus 40.

The ones who cannot tell neither the time nor the temperature end up here.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Starbucks denies rumor of discounts for immigrants

How would that work anyway?

Aug 11 ...
Barista: Are you an undocumented immigrant? 
Customer: Yes. 
Barista: Can you prove it? 
Customer: Er, no?

What Just Happened?

Besides Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, this:

Blue Angels performing at Seafair over Lake Washington

Flowers floating

As for the Conference, I didn't attend. I'm still practicing.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


Why does coffee ground for espresso have less static electricity than coffee ground for a French press? Same grinder, same bean so I think it has something to do with surface area.

While I wasn't able to find the answer to my query, a quick search on the internet revealed that static in coffee grinding is a common problem. Cook's Illustrated offers that the only thing to do to get rid of static is give the static time to dissipate on its own:
" For medium-grind coffee (appropriate for a regular drip coffee maker), grind the coffee, wait for 5 minutes, and then remove the grind chamber from the machine. "
Five minutes? Clearly, they jest.

The most interesting (and most expensive) solution was a Zerostat 3. Cool.

I wonder if Amazon sells a holster that I can attach to my bathrobe.

From the Desk of Captain Obvious

WSU study suggests pot use relieves stress

Friday, July 14, 2017

Career Planning?

I have a handy app on my phone that tells me where the closest brewery is from my current location. Good thing to have if you're looking for some suds.

There are 20 breweries within 5.25 miles from my front door. That's as the crow flies but theoretically, I should be able to walk or bike to all of them. (Eleven of them are in the #Couve.)

From my office, the 20 closest breweries are within a 7.25 radius.

Would it be a bad idea to quit my job?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Beach Update

The beach is back! Back in March the river was at 17 feet and up to the sidewalk at this spot and over the sidewalk just behind where this photo was taken. Now, the water level ranges between four and six feet between low and high tides which is about normal.  Meanwhile, the rock next to the piling at the far right side of the frame looks about the same.

The osprey nest (if you're falling along) appeared to be in great peril this morning, rocking violently. The chicks had better fledge soon or they may not get a choice about it. Even if they survive their first flight, I will be shocked if that perch is still here when it comes time to lay eggs again next year.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Surprise, Beach!

Surprise Beach
The beach known, quite possibly only to Google Maps, as Surprise Beach made its first appearance of the year just in time for the Summer Solstice. You can just see the slightest sliver of it above. (If you look up Surprise Beach on Google Maps, you can see at least one photo of what the beach usually looks like.)

As the river returned one beach, it took away from another. Just recently, the river claimed a sign belonging to Beaches Restaurant which is just out of frame, upstream from the above image.For 22 years, the sign stood atop a group of pilings outside the restaurant, about 150 steps from my front door. We used it as an unofficial depth gauge to see how high the river was. I don't know how high the river was when the photo (found at link) was taken. At its high, the river reached the bottom of the phone.

Osprey perch and nest.
The river also threatened to take these two pilings which are currently home to a pair of nesting osprey. (You have to zoom in real close to see an osprey on one piling. The nest is barely visible on the other.) They wobbled and swayed at the higher depths and currents. The pilings remain but a horizontal perch that was just atop the nest is now missing.

The river is down about 7 feet from it's high of 17+ in March. If you scroll back through some of my posts (here, for example), you can see that the river was up over the sidewalk (a short distance downriver from where these photos were taken). 

Floating rock.
If you zoom in real close on this other image you will see a rock near the base of another piling. (All three images were taken from the same vantage point.) We are confounded by the fact that this rock looks exactly the same as when the river was 7 feet higher. We walk by this point every day. This photo was taken yesterday but the rock looked exactly the same in March. We can come to no other conclusion than this rock floats.

That's biggest surprise of them all.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Now You Don't

Our living room.
Our garage.
Thankfully, this is not our condo. The above is the neighbor's condo. The extent of damage in our place is minimal by comparison.

Upside: We've been thinking about updating our base moulding anyway and since half of it's been ripped out the living room, we might as well do it now. And if we're doing that, we might as well update the flooring - go to hardwoods. Perhaps, we should update the kitchen flooring while we're at it. (Wait, that was the good news?)

Downside: Insurance doesn't cover the upgrades, not that I expected it to. But I did expect it to cover the damage. At present, our condo still looks like these pictures because we haven't reached an agreement with the insurance company on the cost to repair.

So far, the adjuster, from his office 350 miles from here, thinks it should cost about $1500 to restore the condo to it's previous condition. Meanwhile, the contractor, who has actually been here, thinks it'll run about three times as much. I'd be irritatated but we didn't have to move out like our neighbor did.

As it happens, the neighbor (and her roommate) have moved back in but their furniture has not. They have use of their kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms only. Meanwhile, the insulation, which is only on our side of the common wall, has not been replaced. Which means, we have become very friendly with one another.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Impromptu Remodel

Now you see it ...

Neighbor's pipe burst in the common wall yesterday. She was having a new washing machine installed on the third floor of her condo when the pipe burst flooding the two floors below. Luckily, our damage will be somewhat minimal although a contractor is preparing to rip out the bottom two feet of our second floor living room wall so the space behind it can dry out. Water damage to the den and garage walls on the first floor was also detected.

Our neighbor, on the other hand, is having to replace the second story ceiling and the laminate flooring she recently had installed.

I don't mind the damage so much as dealing with the insurance people.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Church of Starbucks

Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room, Seattle
Tour bus parked outside said Roastery. 

I had no intention of going in. But there was a pack of tourists milling around taking selfies and I thought, What the hell is this?

The experience was surreal. It was more crowded than a nightclub, with music pumping throughout the space. Only, instead of dancing, patrons were sipping on tasting flights of either coffee or tea.

One employee moved through the crowd with his iPad taking orders, while servers brought out tiny coffee cups lined up and labeled on a naturally sourced, organic, free trade bamboo tray with all the seriousness of a sommelier.

The coffee was poured from various brewing devices that looked more like the set up in a mad scientist's lab.

Image result for mad scientist lab

There was also ample retail space where one could buy exotic coffee beans as well as a wide variety of exotic means by which to grind, brew, and drink the stuff. And everyone was, quite literally, drinking it up.

I'm dangerously close enough to joining the cult myself but I got out of there fast, headed across the street, and grabbed a beer before the jitters could set in.

Monday, May 22, 2017

I just attended the most awesome funeral ...

... said no one ever. But just last weekend, I did.

Home again, I woke up this morning with a feeling that's hard to describe. Travel, jet lag, thinking juice, and whole lot of awesomeness combined to produce sadness and longing wrapped in a thick cushion of joy, nostalgia, love, and gratefulness.

We reconnected with people we haven't seen in a while, and we made new friends. We laughed, cried, and laughed some more.

And, celebrated. Family and close friends went to Buca di Beppo for dinner after the service and our large party was placed in a back room where, it appeared, all the large parties got seated. The first thing the waiter asked was, What are you celebrating?

A funeral, someone answered. Then, A celebration of life - which it was.

The room was loud with conversation and even more loud when a team of wait staff came to deliver birthday cake amidst clapping and singing in the manner one hopes one is never subjected to in a restaurant.

And, then, in a rare lull, someone at our table (and I know who) started clapping. I joined in and soon the whole table started clapping. No one knew why we were clapping but at that point it didn't matter. The next table joined in and it was certain we would have had the whole room clapping if we hadn't ended it with a joyous cheer.

As we left, someone at the next table asked, What were you celebrating?

Oddly, one responded, a funeral.

Actually, it was a celebration. And that's just the way Phil would have wanted it.

Rest in peace, Philip R. Compton.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Still Up

The Columbia River got as high as 17 feet in March but started to recede by early April. Before we left town, I was hopeful that the beach would be back when we returned.

It was not. 

A week ago, it was at 11 feet and is now around 15 above normal. I know it rained while we were gone, but jeez.

We were sitting by the river earlier this week. It was a sunny day and everybody was out, walking the boardwalk. Many were seeing the river for the first time since the last sunny day - sometime last August. They would stop and point to where the beach used to be and explain to their children, "Once upon a time, there was a beach. Right. There."

Interestingly, the Bonneville Dam's spill rate over the last few days was at a low of 134 and high of 259. (I think the unit of measure is cubic feet per second. Not sure about that.) What's going on there? 

On that same sunny evening, we watched as PDX reversed the flight pattern for takeoff and landing.
The wind appeared to be from the West as evidenced by the spinnakers on sailboats racing upstream and, for a while, we watched planes leaving PDX headed West.

Then, it reversed. Even as the spinnakers continued to indicate winds from the West, planes were now taking off to the East. We usually observe one or the other flight pattern but this was the first time we saw both in a single span of time.

Who makes the decision to reverse the flight pattern? If the wind direction is different on the river than higher up, at what height does it reverse? (I wish Phil were here to explain this to me.)

I don't have any answers but I'll be sure to keep an eye on the situation. I hope to post pictures of the beach when it returns.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


The Maui News continues to report on the export of sand, with Mayor Arakawa calling for a moratorium. Honolulu Construction & Draying, "the premier producer of concrete on Oahu," was identified as the exporter. Not to worry, they said, we are planning on importing sand from British Columbia to make up for it.

This is clearly above my pay grade.

Meanwhile, Maui County is under a flash flood watch. If I wanted to sit in the rain, I could have just stayed home where we had the wettest winter since 1895. No wonder I was depressed!

While a rainstorm could be the perfect recipe for a steaming cup of coffee, I recently discovered Japanese iced coffee. Boiled down, the method calls for replacing half the amount of water used to brew the coffee with ice. I made it using a 10-cup Cuisinart drip coffee maker and it turned out great, consistently. I highly recommend trying it, especially if your coffee maker doesn't make especially good coffee. It's quick, easy, and makes an incredibly smooth cold brew. Add some coconut milk, and you have the perfect island coffee.

Last, but not least, cancer sucks. I would love to say more on the subject but the words won't come. They'd be inadequate anyway. Rest in peace, Phil. And peace to everyone who loved him. He will be missed by many.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Shifting Sands

On April 23rd, in a regular feature of The Maui News called "Ask the Mayor," Mayor Arakawa explained the policy issues surrounding the export of sand from Maui to Oahu. On April 27th, The Maui News reported that $9.3 million is included for Kaanapali Beach restoration as part of Hawaii's proposed legislative budget for $1.1 billion in capital improvement projects.

Interested in the problem - even the concept - of beach restoration I tried to find out more about Kaanapali's restoration project. What I found was more about the problem than the solution - articles going back to December 1997. This one, prepared by University of Hawaii Sea Grant Extension Service and County of Maui Planning Department entitled "Beach Management Plan for Maui," does a good job of not only explaining the problem but references studies going back to 1971 which illustrates just how large a problem this is.

Regular visitors to Kaanapali Beach may be aware of the seasonal shifting of beaches as a result of currents. But unless they have been long time visitors, they may not be aware of the total effect of erosion.  Take a look at this promotional video from 1964 to see what the Kaanapali Beach looked like once upon a time:

You can get a glimpse of what it looks like right now:

Maui Eldorado Web Cam

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Got out of town after Tax Day.

The in-flight movie was The Accountant.

No, really.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Publisher's Weekly Ranks Mercy over Not Giving a F*ck

The Maui News - Sunday, April 23, 2107
And Bill O'Reilly over "The True Jesus." Should we be worried?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sweet Dreams?

Hardly. I dreamt about partnership basis last night.

At least I'm somewhere warm.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Yes, please, automate my job.

The software we already use comes close and I suspect the IRS has some pretty sophisticated software to process all those tax returns on their end. It won't be long and Amen to that.

The last week before Tax Day is when the most complicated returns get done. (Extended, to be precise.) I don't know why this is - whether it's on the part of the taxpayer or the tax preparer or a combination of both. Just a week ago, a client came in with 300 pages of tax documents. (That's an exaggeration. It was actually a little more.) Can we get an extension ready for him, he wants to know.

While an extension is a single piece of paper, it's worthless if a reasonable attempt to prepare the return and estimate the tax has not been made. An extension only provides additional time to file the return, not pay the tax, so the return needs to get at least to the point of figuring out whether the taxpayer needs to pay and how much.

I am thankful to my employer who has invested in the software that helps me get through those 300 pages in a matter of a couple hours. 300 pages (whether paper or digital images) get converted to TIF files which get read by software that organizes them into sorted and bookmarked PDFs. Another process extracts the information to populate the tax return in the tax program. And viola. Tax return.

Not exactly that simple but it's getting better every year. The software doesn't read most deductions yet, for example. (Or capital gains or losses from sale of stock.) Which means, I'm late for work. I was handed a list yesterday of the returns that still need to get extended. It was in teeny tiny print so it was only the length of my arm.

Please send coffee to my work address. If you can't do that, bring coffee to your closest tax preparer. I guarantee they will appreciate it. (And there's a pretty good chance they're in the office today.)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Searching for a document this morning, I was surprised to see I had one named "To Do List." Thankfully, there was nothing on it.

That was a close one.


Saturday, April 8, 2017


I didn't want to get up this morning but I could see daylight creeping around the window shade and knew, by definition, I was late for work.

Almost Back to Normal

March 25 (two weeks ago)

March 27 (even higher)

April 5 (three days ago)

April 7 (yesterday)

Where did it all go? The ocean surely must be full now. But, yesterday, we had high winds. (Did they blow all the water away?) 

" South wind 25 to 35 mph with gusts 35 to 50 mph. Local gusts to 60 mph. "
We noticed.

On our walk/run yesterday, we had to lean into the wind or be swept off our feet. We watched as an Alaska flight, on approach from the west to PDX, was diverted. Tugboats had trouble keeping control of their barges. One, approaching the I-5 Bridge, spun completely around. Another, upriver, managed to hold steady mid-river but was using a lot of power to do it.

It'll be interesting to see what's in store for the river today.

Friday, March 31, 2017


If you zoom in, you will see this is a picture of a duck swimming on a sidewalk. (No, a real one. And, no, it isn't wearing sunglasses.) The Columbia River was up 16.6 feet on Tuesday. It is predicted to get as high as 17.3 feet today. (This article shows you a picture of the same scene from the other direction.)

If you zoom in on the next one, you will see a tug pushing a barge under a lifted span of the Interstate Bridge. The river is now at flood stage (which is reached at 16 feet) and there is not only less room for boats to pass under the bridge but currents are faster, both of which result in more bridge lifts which now average nearly 2 per day. The span, which provides 176 feet of river clearance when open, is usually raised 10-20 times per month. (The bridge celebrates its 100th birthday this year.)

Also, new fun fact, the Columbia River is tidal, meaning, it has tides. I've noticed the river is higher or lower on any given day but I imagined that was a result of either the tides of the Pacific Ocean somehow reaching us 150 miles upstream or the operation of the Bonneville Dam another 45 miles upstream. But, as you can see here, the river can rise and fall 3.5 feet per day.

It'll be interesting to see what remains of our beach. Should we ever see it again.

Who's ready for summer?