Tuesday, August 27, 2019

We drove by a public square recently that was surrounded by a heavy police presence. There were a couple of guys dressed entirely in black with red bandannas over their faces. Anti-Nazi Rally posters were here and there but otherwise, the square was empty. Some of the police officers smoked cigars.

I wondered who was going to show up for the Pro side. I know there are a lot of people who have a lot of viewpoints but Pro Nazi was hard to fathom.

We didn't stick around to see if anyone else showed up which was probably a good thing.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Tips for New Homeowners

If you have multiple bathrooms, they will run out of toilet paper on a simultaneous schedule. Every time. Do not let your reserves get down to less than the equivalent number of bathrooms.

Smoke alarms emit a chirping sound when the batteries run low. If this should happen, it will be 2 a.m. and you will be awakened from a dead sleep. You would be wise to change the batteries in all existing alarms at this time. Otherwise, you will be awakened at 3 a.m.

Our research department advises that your batteries must be changed every six months regardless of what the battery package says. The smoke alarm has an internal countdown set at six months. Batteries that are good for ten years in the package are only good for six months in a smoke alarm. (What would happen if you just switch the batteries around?? I'll ask my research dude.)

Your smoke alarm also emits a chirp when the alarm itself expires. This chirping follows the rule of expired battery chirping in that it will happen in the dead of night. One smoke alarm will signal all your other alarms that they are expired resulting in a cacophony of mind shattering shrills. Removing the batteries will be futile. Your smoke alarms will take on alien life and chirp independent of power. Insanity is inevitable as you consider whether the smoke detectors can be flushed down the toilet. If you are lucky, you can lock your spouse out of the bedroom and let him figure it out while you save yourself. The ultimate answer, as soon as the ringing in your ears ceases, is to replace all of your smoke detectors and sell the house before they expire again ten years later.

You will likely never hear a smoke detector activated by smoke. Unless you have a toaster like mine. Then, you will hear it daily. Don't eat toast.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Good bye, my darling

I woke to find Hubby by my side, playing a game on his iPad, popping bubbles. “Coffee,” I was thinking. “Where is my coffee?” He may have not wanted to wake me, thought I might want to sleep some more. Yet, all he had to do was to pull on his pants and go downstairs to where the coffee was already prepared.


Instead, I got up, went to the bathroom and washed my hands. I came back, crossing the room to get my toothbrush and hair brush. I crossed in front of the bed again, returning to the bathroom to brush my teeth and hair. Back in the bedroom, I put on clothes. I was thinking, either he’s a fool or he doesn’t want coffee. Why is there still no coffee?


I turned to him as I was leaving, “Would you like coffee?”


Turns out he was a fool.


When my cup was empty, I spent a few minutes in the bathroom thinking he must be on a suicide mission. It is the only explanation that makes sense. This was confirmed when I returned to the bedroom to find my cup has not been refilled. Again, I got dressed while Hubby popped bubbles. Again, I asked him if he would like coffee. Again, he accepted although this time he did not bother to explain where the coffee is located (as if I might not know).


Again, I delivered coffee to his bedside. I kissed him gently on the forehead and whisper, “It was nice knowing you.”

Monday, August 12, 2019

Glamping in Tacoma

... a style of camping with amenities.

We stayed at Hotel Murano which was not camping by any means but on Sunday I visited three - three! - coffeeshops and all of them were closed. Closed, I tell you! One of these was a Starbucks.

What?, you say. Starbucks was closed?

That is roughing it.

Toto, we are not in Seattle any more.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Because some are more special

As football season *ahem* kicks off, make note of these special teams stats:

Baltimore Ravens' payroll for special teams is the highest in the league at $11 million. They also have more special teams players - five. The lowest is $1.9 million with the Philadelphia Eagles (three players). The Seahawks (three players) and Bears (five players) are near the bottom at $3.9 million each which make the Bears special teams players some of the least paid in the league.

The most paid to kickers (two) is $5.3 million by the Green Bay Packers while the Dallas Cowboys pay their one kicker $570,000. The most a team will spend on punters is by the Los Angeles Rams at $4.5 million. The least is $570,000 by the Denver Broncos for their one. 

Again, the Baltimore Ravens come out on top in terms of payroll for long snappers - a total of $1.8 million for two. The Buccaneers pay $495,000 for their one. 

Top paid kicker is Mason Crosby of Green Bay at $4.85 million. The two lowest paid at $495,000 are both with the Bears. Top paid punter is Thomas Morstead at $4.2 million while the least paid gets only $495,000. (There are five of them.) Best paid long snapper is Beau Brinkley at $1.4 million with the Tennessee Titans (although Charley Hughlett's contract with Cleveland is worth more) while the five least paid are each earning $495,000.

Long snappers don't get paid as much as punters and kickers but I could figure out how to live on a million or so a year. And long snappers are somewhat protected. The NFL prohibits contact with the head or neck of a long snapper or else be penalized 15 yards.

Anyway, I'm a fan of special teams. Because they're more special.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Let The Avoiding Begin

I've been on staycation all week and you would think I would get something done. Something productive, like cleaning a closet or planting those seeds that have been sitting on my kitchen counter for months. But, no. I've managed to fill my time with - I DON'T HAVE ANY IDEA WITH WHAT! Seriously, how can a whole day get away from me?

I can tell you I'm quite relaxed. And enjoying it.

I read in the mornings. Work out. Shower. Suddenly, it's afternoon and I have to scramble to get to some summer activity or outdoor event. I have time to go on errands I would otherwise avoid. I get to bed at a reasonable time but feel no need to set an alarm. Instead, lazing in an extra hour. Leisurely savoring my coffee in my jammies the next morning. Why would I ever go back to work?

Why indeed.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Palms Up

Place Both Hands Palms Up, And Toward Back

Does this meant it won't dispense towels if your Hands are Palms Down? My sister-in-law used her foot and it worked just fine so I don't understand. 

Plus, the magic eye - the gizmo you're trying to trigger with your upward facing palms - isn't in the back. You can't see it in this picture but it's actually front and center so regardless of which way your hands are facing, it won't dispense anything if you're on either side of said gizmo and Toward the Back.

And What's With The Capital Letters? Did They Run Out Of Little Ones?

My suggestion is make sure you know how to operate all the bathroom equipment before using it. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a handful of soap and no way to rinse them. Or, dripping hands with no way to dry them. I would say that the stall doors have changed relatively little over the years and are still easy and simple to operate but I know that's not strictly true.

And toilets? Don't Get Me Started

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Now we can get back to what's really important ...

Eating.

There have been some changes at Lapellah and not all of them have been good. Fortunately, for those of us who stuck it out, Lapellah has returned to their roots (as it were) and refocused on their mission of fresh, farm-to-table menus. Now under the direction of Jeremy Penrod, the kitchen is turning out exactly what people have become accustomed to from Lapellah: fresh, locally sourced, inventive preparations. Their prices are reasonable and the entire staff is professional and friendly.

I can't speak to the entire menu because I generally go for brunch on the weekends or Sunday Supper on Monday-eve. Just one look at the description for Sunday Supper lets you know that Shaun is in the kitchen:
1st course cucumber and tomato salad, nduja vinaigrette, avocado hummus / preserved lemon / fried chickpeas ~ 2nd course spaghetti and meatballs, roasted tomato sauce, crispy coppa, hazelnuts, pecorino
I don't even know what all of those words mean but I do know that if Shaun is behind them, they'll be combined into an extraordinary event for the palate. That was last Sunday's Supper and it was magnificent. I don't know what it'll be this weekend but you can bet I'll be having some. Wine is also half off on Sundays so you can't lose! 

We're glad things are back to the way things were and the staff seems to be happy about it, too. It's okay to change things up once in a while, Lapellah, but you have a good thing going there and your regulars appreciate it just the way it is.

If you live in Vancouver (USA), be sure to visit Lapellah. If you're from out of town, please stop by. Lapellah does not have a view. It's not in the new downtown waterfront project. But, the parking is free and the food is seriously good - maybe the best in town. It's not far - only one mile east of downtown Vancouver so you really don't have any reason not to go.

So, just go already.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The Productivity Tools You Never Knew You Always Had

Pen* and paper.

They're inexpensive and easy to obtain. Batteries are not required and disposal is mostly environmentally friendly. There are no storage limitations (other than the availability of shelf space or an empty drawer) and while there are no passwords required they remain free from security risk so long as you're in physical control of the notebook.

My first boss taught me the value of using a notebook and I still keep one on my desk at all times. When I remodeled our first house, I kept track of things in a spiral notebook - everything from contractor bids to receipts which was extraordinarily useful after the hot water heater burst, requiring us to do the work all over again.

When I was a stay-at-home parent, I carried a notebook with everything in it from the kids' soccer schedules to health insurance numbers for the entire family. When they got bus cards, I kept track of their login information to reload bus fare. It was an invaluable, mobile, and easy-to-use tool that helped me keep track of a very busy family.

Sometime during the 90's, I went electronic and started carrying what was called a PDA (personal digital assistant). Mine was the Cassiopeia made by Casio. It came with a writing stylus and could do some pretty cool things. Beyond keeping appointments, it could translate my notes from script to text which was a neat trick. The kids could draw pictures which served to amuse. I used the spreadsheet function to keep track of golf scores and handicaps for the entire family which kept us all competitive.

Then, came smartphones. Now, you can pretty much keep track of everything on your phone. You would think pen and paper would be obsolete but I say no!

Have you ever picked up your phone and then forgotten why you picked it up? Most likely, you got distracted with a notification or message. Pen and paper have no such distractions. Plus, pen and paper don't seem as invasive in social situations. For example, let's say someone mentions something you want to remember for later and you take out your phone. Rude! However, if you take out pen and paper, you appear interested, smart, perhaps taller and even better looking. Plus, it takes less time in, my opinion, to jot down a reminder to circle back to later.

I admit that I don't carry a notebook anymore but I'm a huge fan and keep one at my desk. When I need to make a quick list of tasks that I want to tackle, I can jot them down. It relieves by brain space from having to keep it all in my head which reduces stress for me. Sometimes, I'll attack the list by doing the most important thing first. Other times, I'll do whatever seems easiest just so I can cross it off my list. Still other times, I just set the list aside. If it sits there long enough, I find most of the stuff wasn't all that important in the first place.

A notebook is also a great place to make notes of important conversations and recalling information is easy. Even minor details can be recorded facilitating a timeline, if needed. (I remember I called my credit card company about that issue on the 21st and spoke with ....) Or a follow up. (I'm calling about the the refund that you said should arrive in two weeks.) Or where you left off. (I left off with "Smith" in the client review last week when I got interrupted with another project.)

Need to be more productive? Write it down. On paper.

Okay, put a reminder in your smartphone first.



* Pencil, if you prefer.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Did I mention?

I meant to let you know there would be no leap second at the end of June but I forgot. You probably didn't miss it.

While I'm at it, there won't be a leap second on December 31st either so you'll not get an extra kiss on New Year's Eve.

In the meantime the difference between Coordinated Universal Time UTC and the International Atomic Time TAI is:
 from 2017 January 1, 0h UTC, until further notice : UTC-TAI = -37 s
You can get more information from the Earth Orientation Center.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

File these under Totally Unnecessary

Dunkin Donuts Lip Balm - As tempted as you might be, please do not get this for my birthday. Or, for any other reason.

Slurpee Home Delivery - 7-Eleven will now deliver your Slurpee directly to your couch. With their 7Now: Food & Alcohol Delivery app (on Apple or Android), 7-Eleven can also deliver your Slurpee, as well as a six-pack of Bud Light and a Snickers bar, directly to a park bench near you. While I have no need for a Slurpee - ever - there were times when I wanted a pizza delivered to my boat. While that's not available yet, Domino's is close. Their service, like 7-Eleven's, involves delivery to "hot spots" which, in my neighborhood, includes the local high school.

Coffee that tastes like S'Mores - a "limited edition" coffee with "marshmallow & and graham notes." I've always stood up for you, Starbucks - mostly because I'm hopelessly addicted to your overly-roasted goodness - but this I cannot defend. Can we make this coffee a little more limited? Like, extinct?

What's necessary is unadulterated, black coffee. What's necessary is a collection of at least 25 moisturizers, each with a specific purpose (e.g., one for the delicate tissue around your eyes, one for sagging kneecaps, etc.). What's totally necessary is multiple pairs of black shoes.

The rest I can do without.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Could I just have an empty glass?

Out with friends last night where, for dinner, one's three-year-old ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, hold the cheese. The chef came out of the kitchen, "What? He just wants toast?" The boy was emphatic, "Grilled cheese, no cheese!" Gotta love it.

Reminds me of a time when one of our kids ordered a mocktail - a virgin martini - which, as far as I can tell, is an empty glass. (Or maybe, just the olive.)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Bathroom Rant



I know, I know. You've heard it before - the bathroom rant - but a poorly designed restroom I do not understand. A sink like this is very pretty but I fail to see how it is practical. It does a good job of wetting the side of the bowl (again, very pretty) but doesn't wet my hands past my fingertips. Maybe I'm missing something. Are we only supposed to wash our fingertips? If so, what is the rest of the bowl for?

Drying one's hands, says Dyson. They built the hand dryer right into a faucet - the Airblade Tap Hand Dryer (which you can purchase from Restroom Direct). It looks a little bit like a motorcycle handlebar mounted over a sink. OK, it doesn't look anything like a motorcycle handlebar but I can't think of any other way to describe it.

One of the things that drives me crazy about restroom design is that someone, somewhere, decided to change things up. I understand wanting to make things more efficient or more sanitary. What I don't understand is going into a restroom and not being able to perform the functions the room was designed for, namely flushing my bodily wastes and washing and drying my hands.

I'm sorry. Was that too much information? I should have warned your earlier.

My bad.

I haven't met a toilet that I couldn't figure out how to flush, eventually, but I have been stymied by sinks and dryers. You know the drill: waving, dancing, surreptitiously looking for the magic eye or handle to make a thing work, hoping no one else is looking, only to find out it was manual in the first place. You hope the soap will dispense, the water will flow, and, dripping, you will be able to blow or wipe your hands dry on something other than your clothing, all the while timing when you can reasonably give up and leave the restroom while still looking somewhat cool.

This one particular time, I came out of a bathroom stall and was confronted by a handlebar apparatus in the sink that made me think of a motorcycle handlebar - the Dyson Airblade Tap Hand Dryer. Luckily, another woman was working the device so I was able to proceed as if I was an expert. I washed my hands under the stem of the handlebar and later moved my hands out to the handles to dry them.

Brava! No dripping on the floor from sink to towel!

I walked out of the ladies room like I know what I was doing, cool as a cucumber, and just after I rejoined my husband at our table, he leaned over and whispered into my ear, "You forgot to zip your fly."

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Party's Over

Apparently, a shortage of helium is making things tough for party planners. It's making things tough for the medical industry as well. According to USA Today,
" As helium prices surge to new highs, some researchers and companies in the medical industry, which uses the gas as a coolant in magnetic resonance imaging and nuclear magnetic resonance, are suggesting a ban on party balloons. "
No party for you!

But with smart balloon practices as recommended by The Balloon Council, we can get through this together. Wait, there's a Balloon Council?

Yes! They are here to protect the "consumer’s rights to obtain full enjoyment from balloons," Also, "affirming America's ongoing love affair with balloons" so there's that.

Can you imagine the board meetings? All those squeaky voices....

Monday, May 6, 2019

Stiffed

Pennsylvania’s worst turnpike toll evader to pay up | philly.com
" Jarrett Stiff, 36, of Trevose, didn’t pay for trips on the Pennsylvania Turnpike 2,264 times between 2012 and 2017, more than anyone else in the state, according to turnpike records. He accumulated $127,967.40 in unpaid tolls and subsequent fines. "

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Topper offer?

The only good thing about those coffee makers in hotel rooms that make single servings of coffee from a one-use-only plastic filter into a paper cup is that it's only a single serving. There's absolutely no reason to have more than one cup of that flavorless joe. (Come to think if it, there's no reason to have even one but what are you going to do?) 

However, when temporary accommodations provide coffee makers that make more than one cup, we will make a full pot regardless of how many people may be willing to drink it. Yet, it's no more flavorful than the single servings. Simply because it's there, we will continue to top off our cups until the whole pot is gone. 

At home, I make one cup of coffee at a time, Americano-style, with an espresso maker. Maybe it's just me, but I think it's pretty good and while I hate to see an empty cup, one is enough (until I indulge in my mid-morning latte).

Except, I've just returned home after traveling for eleven days. Eleven days of topping off my coffee cup until there's no more coffee to drink. Now I'm home drinking something rich and flavorful.

... and then it's gone.

I can have one more, right?

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tax Day

A few more hours and it'll be all over, kids.

Maybe I should do mine... :-\

Friday, April 12, 2019

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Friday, March 15, 2019

Get to Know VanWA

If you live here, you should get to know your Port of Vancouver. We live in an amazing place, alongside the Columbia River.
Columbia River seaports, especially the Ports of Vancouver, Kalama, and Longview, play major roles in the movement of exported agricultural products, including being the largest grain export gateway for wheat and second largest soybean export gateway. In 2011, these three ports had 861 vessel calls and shipped 20.2 million metric tons of commodities between them. (Washington State Legislature Transportation Resource Manual)
Eight million metric tons of that cargo moves in and out of the Port of Vancouver alone.

You can learn more about the Port of Vancouver by taking a free tour. I've taken it and it's fascinating. Julie Rawls led the tour and she was informative, knowledgeable, and entertaining. I not only recommend the tour highly, I would say it's worth doing a second time. The tour is an hour and a half long and very much worth your time.

Tours dates start in April and run through August. Reservations are required. For more information, see the Port Tours page on the Port of Vancouver USA website. Dates and times can also be found on the WUV calendar.

I don't think you'll regret your investment in getting to know VanWA.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Avoiding Work

Hubby makes fun of me when I try to make the bed while I'm still in it but it makes perfect sense to me. We have a king-sized bed and I can't reach to make both sides at the same time. I can pull up the covers on one side but then I have to walk around to the other side to pull up the covers over there. Then, of course, I have to walk back to the first side to straighten the covers, making it neat, with a final walkaround for last adjustments and smoothing.

From the middle of the bed, I can make both sides at once. Plus, pulling up the covers in the middle of the bed is far more difficult from outside the bed, at its edges. Once made, the only ripple is me and I can just slip out one side. Hubby accuses me of making the bed from inside as an excuse for staying in there longer and he's not entirely wrong. I maintain, however, that is simply efficient bed making.

Of course, if a cup of coffee appeared while I was doing this ... well, that's an entirely different story.

I wonder if it's possible to strip the bed from within the bed....

Monday, March 4, 2019

Ronald McDonald

In clothing, I have never paired red with yellow. I like both these colors but could never bring myself to wear them together. Independent of one another, they are joyful colors. I favor red for non-clothing objects (especially coffee mugs) with yellow being more dominant in my wardrobe. It's impossible for me to pair them together, however, without escaping the image of Ronald McDonald.

Someone gave me a bag of socks recently - joyful, colorful socks. Some were striped and some had polka dots. This is what kind of friend she is: She went to the trouble of removing all the little metal staple-like clips that pair socks to one another, she mismatched the socks, and then she clipped them all together again in pairs. Oh, the joy! (I have an affinity for mismatched socks.)

I've been wearing a new pair of joyful, mismatched socks each day, pulling the next pair out of the bag at random. Until yesterday.

Clearly, avoiding work.
Yesterday's were polka dotted socks, one on a yellow background and one on a red background. I set them aside and pulled out the next pair. I just couldn't get over my Ronald McDonald fashion phobia.

Today, for unknown reasons, I had a different outlook. Ronald McDonald wears strips not polka dots, does he not? I put on the socks and felt instant happiness. I was already wearing a red t-shirt so why not go with it? I donned a yellow fleece as well.

It could very well be that I have made some sort of psychological breakthrough here. It could be that I will embrace red and yellow as a badge of courage, smashing old preconceptions, giving way to new ways of dressing and color combinations, and clearing the path to becoming Chief Happiness Officer. I feel empowered to face the future, whatever it brings.

Unless, of course, I run across the Hamburglar. Then, never mind.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Out Box

I find when I turn my In Box piles (yes, piles) upside down, they seem a lot less urgent. Like, completely unimportant.

i  n  v   i     s     i     b        l           e



#AvoidWork

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Change Is Hard

Lapellah has been my go-to restaurant ever since I moved to Vancouver. It has the advantage of being within walking distance of where I live although there are much closer restaurants. Their menu features fresh and local ingredients. The food has always been consistent, creative, and fairly priced. If I could have my every meal there, I would. To that end, I make it there once or twice a week and often bring friends.

Recently, however, Lapellah lost its head chef and the new one has made some changes. I can understand that. The new guy wants to change things up, make his own individual mark on what it is that makes Lapellah, Lapellah. And, of course, not everyone is going to like it. Mercifully, Sunday Supper remains the same.

Sunday Supper is a two-course prix fixe menu created weekly by Lapellah's sous chef, Shaun. He is assisted in the kitchen by Hannah, Erik, Chris, and Brent. (I hope I got all your names right and didn't leave anyone out!) It's always inventive and always delicious. Don't let the changes to their regular menu keep you from coming to supper on Sunday but don't be late. It sells out early. It's a value at $20 per person or $30 per couple. Plus, on Sunday, bottles of wine are half off (for bottles selling for $70 or less, I believe). The best place to sit is at the kitchen counter or in the bar, imo.

No doubt, Lapellah will lose customers over changes to the regular menu. But, maybe they'll gain a new following.

Well, good luck with that. I love Lapellah, just not crazy about the changes.

Nevertheless, I'll be there Sunday.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Today is...

National Do A Grouch A Favor Day

I called my dad.

(Love you, Dad.)

Roses are Red .... How does that go again?

My favorite place to get greeting cards is Emily McDowell Studio. I dare you to look and not find something you love there. When I visit her site, I invariably think of the people in my life and buy cards that are perfect for them, or perfect for a situation.

The last time I placed, an order, I made sure to get a really great birthday card for Hubby who was going to turn 60 this year. We were traveling the week of his birthday, so I made sure to pack the card and bring it with me. By the time his birthday rolled around, though, I had completely forgotten about it and ended up giving it to him the next day, unsigned.

I told him that if I had remembered to give it to him, I would have written in it that I love him and wished him a happy birthday. That's okay, he said, I can give it to him again next year.

Valentine's Day was the following week and I completely forgot, again, to give him a card I had purchased and put away for the occasion. I guess I now have two cards I can give him next year.

This certainly isn't the first (or second) time I've forgotten to give someone a special card I picked out just for them. I bought a birthday card with a bunch of pink flamingos - an inside joke - for a friend's birthday, put it in my closet with my collection of other cards, and then forgot to send it. For years, I would come across it when sifting through the cards looking for one that would make a good thank you note or note of congratulations and I'd think, Oh, yeah. I forgot about that card. I should send that to her next year. But, I never did.

Eventually, we sold the house and I was going through all the stuff that accumulates in a house over ten years and was giving away or selling anything and everything just so I wouldn't have to move it. I found the flamingo card and thought, I'll be damned if I'm going to pack this card! So, I sent it to her and wished her a happy birthday, whenever that was.

If you know me, you've either received an Emily McDowell card from me or you will. You might check this out, too. I haven't read it yet but I'm thinking I will. (I'm definitely a fan.)

Happy birthday! Happy Valentine's Day, too, while I'm at it. (You know, just in case I forget to send your card.)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Orientation, part 2

Boaters know this feeling: it's a slight feeling of disorientation on land after spending a lot of time on a boat. Especially in the shower, for some reason, it feels as if the room is rocking back and forth ever so slightly.

I sort of remember a similar sensation after ice skating, oh so many years ago. Walking in street shoes after gliding on ice was like a mermaid becoming mortal. My feet felt weird, sluggish, sticking heavily to the ground.

I've been traveling a lot lately and getting disoriented in hotels has become a common occurrence. Last night, I woke up and I wasn't sure of where I was at first and I was in my own bed!

Don't worry. It'll wear off.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Alert!

The last hotel I stayed in, I could not see the TV from the bathroom which is a clear violation of hotel layout regulations. A couple of steps away from the sink, I could. Not that I necessarily need to see the TV from any given bathroom in any given location, rules are rules and hotel architecture cannot be exempt. It would be a slippery slope indeed if suddenly hotels considered bathrooms as a relatively private space rather than an extension of the room itself. What would be next? Soft toilet tissue? Quiet closing doors? Thick, plush carpets and tasteful art? Breakfast after 9am? Espresso machines?????

Hotels are meant to provide a consistent experience so frequent travelers know what to expect: subtle discomfort sufficient enough to ensure check out. Any departure from the hotel layout regulations could lead to happy travelers contemplating long term stays which could disrupt the entire multi-billion dollar travel industry.

Also of note, unaided moms traveling with children appear universally tired. All should be awarded a perfectly chilled martini at day's end (if not immediately).

Lastly, there was a small sign above the sink in the bathroom at the Phoenix airport that read, "Automatic turn on. Do not push." That kinda cracked me up but I'll leave it to you to imagine why.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Orientation

I was staying in a hotel recently where I went through my usual routine of mapping my route from bed to bath so I could navigate my way in the dark without stubbing a toe. While I was successful in that endeavor, I never quite got the hang of navigating my way to the room itself.

The carpet in the hallways had a busy pattern of the sort you might find in a Las Vegas casino, although in slightly muted colors, with the exception of a small area in front of the elevator. Without this differentiation in the pattern, I was lost every time I left the room. Once I found the elevator, I was fine. All I had to remember to find my way back was to turn right out of the elevator (or was it left?) and my room number (which was 2-something.)

I'll be home soon and my orientation will get reset. My focus will be tax returns for a while and I'm not going anywhere. Mark my words, though: I'll be on the road again April 16th and trying to figure out where the hell I am.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Dedicated to Galina

She's still nagging me to write a book. I thought she forgot about it but, nope. She asked me just the other day, How's the book coming?"

She's not my muse. She's more of a cheerleader, someone that refuses to stop pushing me. Not that it will change anything but if I ever write one, I told her, I'd dedicate it to her. 

This will have to be good enough, Galina. For now. 

Or, this:

Don't stop pushing, Galina. Maybe, someday, it'll actually happen. And if it does, your name will be on the dedication page. 

Oh, by the way, if you're looking for a hair stylist, you should look her up (whether you're writing a book or not). She's at Parkwest Studio, #VanWA. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Borderline

Whenever someone is talking about "The Wall" in the media, it often features someone talking in front of a wall. This got me to thinking. If there's already a wall (or fence), why do we need another one? How much of our border already has one? What problem are we trying to fix?

I asked Google and found this:

Borderline - The Washington Post


Take a look. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Welcome Home

CNN: Washington is under a state of emergency as measles cases rise

" Last week, a person infected with measles attended a Portland Trail Blazers home game in Oregon amid the outbreak. Contagious people also went to Portland International Airport, as well as to hospitals, schools, stores, churches and restaurants across Washington's Clark County and the two-state region, county officials said. "
From The Columbian:  "The virus lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person, and can survive for up to two hours in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed."

Like in an airplane?

We arrived at Portland International Airport yesterday from Phoenix. Our flight was packed and it seemed everyone was sneezing.

It started even before we got on the plane. We had to take a shuttle from the rental car area to the main terminal and we were surrounded by small children, most too young to know to cover one's mouth. We considered holding our breath for the entirety of our commute but figured we wouldn't last the two mile journey.

The flight was similarly packed with children. (On a Monday. Don't these kids have school?) Even the adults were coughing and sneezing, all around us.

Of the 36 cases of measles in Clark County, 31 involve people who were not immunized. According to the Washington State Department of Health, 7.9% of children entering kindergarten had a vaccine exemption - meaning a signed Certificate of Exemption excusing the student from one or more vaccinations due to medical, personal, or religious beliefs - during the 2017-18 school year in Clark County compared to 4.7% of the kindergarteners statewide. For all grades K-12, 7.5% of students in Clark County had some exemption from immunizations versus 4.9% for all of Washington (which breaks down to 7.5% for private schools versus 4.7% for public schools statewide).

Here in Clark County, 12.2% of students in the Battle Ground School District alone had exemptions (with an enrollment of 14,523). The worst school district in the state, by the way, is Orchard Prairie School District (40.7%) in Spokane County while the worst school is St. John of Kronstadt Orthodox Christian School in Yakima (68%) so I guess things could be worse.

I've been immunized against the measles as well as the flu but I loaded up on Vitamin C today anyway. And I plan to stay in bed until March as a safeguard.

Seriously, if you think you have the measles, call your healthcare provider before going to see the doctor to safeguard against spreading the infection to others in the waiting room. And, if you're a parent, consider getting your kids vaccinated. (The Washington state legislature has introduced a bill that would ban personal exemptions for the measles vaccine.)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019

We Are Number Two!

Vancouver No. 2 ‘coffee city’ in U.S.

" In absolute terms, Vancouver’s 78 coffee shops are substantially outnumbered by Portland’s 246 and Seattle’s 278. But on a residents-per-shop basis, Vancouver outranks them both, coming in at No. 2 on the overall list with one coffee business for every 2,224 residents, according to the report. "
But we're No. 1 in 'hipster.'

Friday, January 18, 2019

Hotels Rooms

No matter where you stay, you will find similarities as well as differences. You might say there are variations on themes however there are some constants. The artwork is almost universally bad. There is a universal, sole supplier of hotel toilet paper. (It is not available to the public because the public would never buy it.) All bathroom mirrors are oriented so that you can see the TV either from the bathroom sink or the commode. The coffee maker, if there is one, universally makes bad coffee. However, a coffee maker in the room ranks much higher than one without. (Rooms where they bring you a pot of coffee always arrive late but are of the highest quality, strongly correlated with room price.)

Bed firmness positively correlates with room price as does the slight variations in mattress height.  Creakiness of bed frames correlate negatively. (This article does not cover hotel beds that take quarters but I'll send you a roll of quarters if you venture to stay in one.) While the quality of the furniture also correlates strongly with room price, all hotel furniture features a certain sheen of ick. (Ick sheen is negatively correlated with price.)

I have little to say about the free toiletries (other than none of them are good) while I have a lot to say about bathroom layout. While most layouts work reasonably well for a single traveler, many present a challenge for two. Electrical outlets not arranged near mirrors make hair drying difficult (unless hairstyle is not important) while a lack of mirrors in some hotels makes simultaneous preening nearly impossible for a couple.

Sinks are a particular pet peeve. At one particular hotel, one sink has a residential sized kitchen faucet over an airplane sized sink making it nearly impossible to wash one's hands without the water cascading over the counter and down the front of one's pants. The other sink has a faucet so small that it's impossible to wash one's hands without also rubbing ones hands along back wall of the sink (which brings us back to ick).

Beyond the bathroom, room layout varies from comfortable and inviting to "What were they thinking?" Doors that swing open to block access to something else such as a closet or sink, for example, or closets that are nothing more than a coat rack. Drawers at floor level to replace a typical dresser might be perfect for toddlers but can be a literal pain in the back for older folks.

Some have motion-sensitive nightlights (with varying degrees of brightness and sensitivity) while others are pitch dark. We recently checked into a hotel room and after I claimed my side of the bed, I noticed our room's lack of nightlights, automatic or otherwise. My side was farthest from the bathroom; that plus the room's layout made reconnaissance necessary. A midnight trip to the bathroom would require navigation around the bed, avoidance of an ottoman (Dick Van Dyke style), and walking down a short corridor to a door that automatically swung closed to the dark and windowless bathroom. I made note of the orientation of the commode. (Which way did it face?) I made note of where the toilet paper was. (Would it be on my left or right?)

There's nothing more disorienting than waking up in the middle of the night in unfamiliar surroundings, unable to see, with an urgency to pee.

I moved the ottoman out of the way and propped the bathroom door open. I filled the coffee maker with water and loaded it with a plastic coffee pod. I brushed my teeth and readied for bed. When I climbed under the covers and snapped off the reading light, I discovered the light from outside our window would be glaringly sufficient to light my way (or see from outer space). My logistical preparations, which have become standard operating procedure, were completely unnecessary.

The coffee was still terrible.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tax Season - sorta

I can't really work until the new tax software arrives. It's updated every year, at a minimum, to account for inflation adjustments to standard deductions and various phaseouts, and changes in mileage allowances, etc. Congress will often enact tax law, usually late in the year, which requires additional programming that must be substantially completed before the software can be delivered. (Updates are made throughout the tax filing season.) This year, the changes are drastic, requiring all new tax forms and schedules.

This means my workload around the Holidays is somewhere between nil and something I can do before my coffee gets cold. All I can do is get ready because once the tax software arrives, it's time to get to work.

The tax software arrived last Friday. Yippee!

As far as the IRS is concerned, however, Tax Season doesn't start until January 28th and that's if they can get anyone to show up for work. While the IRS doesn't usually process refunds during a government shutdown, this year they say they will. This means they will be recalling furloughed workers who will not be paid until the shutdown ends. The IRS expects to have enough employees to answer 60-70% of phone calls from taxpayers needing help.

You can prepare your taxes but no one will care for another three weeks. And then, the IRS will care about 65%.

This is news. Just a week before, the IRS's contingency plan for a governmental shutdown did not allow for the processing of refunds although taxes owed would still be due. Phone calls would not be answered and amended returns from prior years would not be processed. The contingency plan has now been updated to include refunds although no one is exactly sure how that will happen. I still haven't received my refund for the 2017 tax year and that's not bound to be fixed anytime soon.

People who are expecting refunds usually file early and while tax preparers now have the software to prepare 2018 tax returns, the IRS won't accept them before January 28th. On the other hand, people who owe generally file later; whether they file an extension or not, taxes are due April 15th.

Unless it's April 17th.

How can you not get excited about this stuff?

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Just In

I'm sure I've lamented here before about the upstairs neighbors we used to have. We were temporarily living in a mother-in-law unit on the bottom level of a massive house in an affluent neighborhood. The unit was small but it was comfortable, furnished, and private. We had a large, west facing deck that offered peek-a-boo views and plenty of shade. One of its few drawbacks was schlepping groceries in the rain from the curb around back to our entrance. That, and our upstairs neighbors.

Our landlords, who lived above us, were a married couple. She was a tightly packed, petite woman and was home during the day most of the time. Small as she was, she was a heavy walker. Back and forth, we could hear her and it seemed she never stood still.

In the evenings, as we heard her - back and forth, back and forth - we imagined that she cleared the dinner table one spoon, fork, and knife at a time. Stack your dishes!, we would yell at the ceiling. Save yourself a trip!

The husband traveled and was often away on business. We could always tell his comings and goings because we could hear him dragging his rolling bag across the kitchen tiles. Early in the morning, we could hear him - padump padump padump - as he rolled over to what we imagined was the coffee maker. Then - padump padump padump - back to the kitchen table. Then - padump padump padump - to deposit the cup in the sink. Then - padump padump padump - out the front door.

If he was home on the weekends, he would work in his wood shop which was located on the bottom floor next to our bedroom. Late at night, we could hear him using a buzz saw just on the other side of our headboard.

They didn't entertain much. Once, there was a cocktail party held on the deck above ours. It seemed jolly but not raucous. The footsteps on the deck above didn't resonate like they did inside the house. Another time, however, she hosted a birthday party for one of her small grandchildren. On that occasion I could have sworn that she hired dancing elephants. It was a whole family of heavy walkers!

We lived there for less than a year before we purchased a condo and moved. The new location was in the flight path of a major airport, a half mile from a small regional airport, yards from a railroad and state highway, and steps from a major river supporting tug and barge traffic. Even with all that, it was quieter than the mother-in-law unit we previously occupied.

Our condo is a three story, townhouse style place. No neighbors above, but we have neighbors on either side. When we moved in, a confirmed bachelor was on one side and a librarian lived on the other. Both were sociable but quiet neighbors. For two years, all was well until the librarian moved out.

A self-described hedonist moved in and we can hear everything. He likes to crank up the stereo at 6 am and entertain women at night. When I say we can hear everything, I mean we can hear everything. We know how many women he entertains, how often, and for how long. We've approached him about this and even tried to befriend him to no avail.

In the summertime, when he cranks up the music and starts to cook an odoriferous meal, we could just jump on our bikes and pedal to a brewery, sit in the sunshine, or attend the local independent movie theater. Now, our prospects for escaping are more dismal. It's not impossible to get away, to avoid the noise. Sometimes, we escape to a different floor, one he isn't occupying.

There may be an assessment coming and we welcome it; the required repairs are necessary. We've been here long enough, and bought at the right time, to have the equity to support such an assessment. Our neighbor, however, just bought in at a $100,000 more than we paid next door. He's not so happy about it. While the repairs won't fix the soundproofing between units, we're hoping it improves the neighborhood. (We hope he moves out.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Slipping into 2019

This morning, I made the last entry into my 2018 (paper) diary that was sent to us when we subscribed to The Economist. I enjoyed writing in it more than I thought I would. In fact, I’m not sure I started writing in it right away since I already keep an electronic journal plus two blogs.

I left it on the kitchen counter thinking it would be part diary and part guest book. It was never intended to be the kind of diary where I recorded my most secret feelings. (That’s in my electronic diary. Even there, I don’t like to disparage anyone, much, lest someone were to actually read it.)

Either we didn’t have people over much in 2018 or when we did no one was nosy enough to crack it open, much less contribute to it without invitation.

There are a couple pages in the back to tide me over into the first week of 2019 but I’m afraid I will miss the practice of writing each yesterday’s events down as I make my morning coffee, a brief but comfortable ritual. A mini-time-out for myself. One last quiet moment before my day begins.

No, I did not expect to like that 2018 diary from The Economist but even one day later, on New Year’s Day, I already miss it. I guess I’ll have to get another diary. (Maybe I should renew my subscription to The Economist while I’m at it.)

2018 is over; that book is closed. It's time to turn the page and to slip into 2019.