Saturday, December 19, 2009

Home search photos

I'm keeping all the photos I take of various houses/condos that I come across during my real estate search Here. Updated today with some pictures I lifted from other listings in one of the complexes I am interested in. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I drove a lot yesterday.

I drove a lot of places yesterday. Got lost a few times, got detoured by stupid freeway construction a few times. I decided to waste part of my life googlemapping the route I took, which is provided for your amusement below in two parts, because google maps couldn't handle all the waypoints properly. Ugh. I thought that tank of gas was going fast -- I guess that's what 104.8 miles of in-town driving on 5 different freeways will do to you.

Part 1 | Part 2

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Home Search Photos 12/9/2009

I went out today to take more pictures of a place I am strongly considering buying. You can get to a gallery of those pictures Here. If you're savvy enough to poke around elsewhere on my flickr account, you'll find some photos from other places I've looked at as well.

Friday, December 4, 2009


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


On the weekend of October 10, I met my mom, my sister, and her boyfriend at Disneyland. We spent the weekend wandering the park and going on rides and whatnot. The place was overly crowded, but it was still fun. Here are some pictures.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seattle 2009

On the final morning of our trip, we had some time to explore downtown Seattle. We were fortunate enough to secure a late checkout (1pm) from our hotel, which enabled us to spend the morning at Pike Place Market while leaving our bags in the hotel room and our car in the valet.

After spending a couple hours checking out the market, we checked out of the hotel and I drove Darrick to the Tukwila Amtrak "station" which, as it turns out, is nothing more than a temporary wooden platform. It almost looks like one of those stations where you'd expect a train to just kind of slow down and make passengers jump instead of actually stopping to let them on/off. It is, however, the closest train station to SeaTac airport, which is why we chose it. We arrived early and used that time to watch some more TV on my laptop. When it was time for Darrick to head up to the platform to ensure the train actually stopped as it was passing through, I drove to the airport, returned the car, and started waiting for my flight to San Diego. And thus the trip concluded.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Vancouver 2009: M.V. Coho

Unfortunately, our last day in Victoria was largely wasted with waiting around for things. While we were downtown the previous night, we stopped by the Black Ball Ferry office to make a reservation for the 3:00 ferry to Port Angeles, WA on Friday. The woman at the counter informed me that my timing was superb -- there were only two slots left on that sailing. The gentleman behind me reserved the last slot on that particular boat. We were then instructed to be at the ferry terminal no later than 1:00pm for customs.

In the morning, we checked out of our hotel and headed to the fine Canadian dining establishment named Denny's for lunch. This was a poor decision, as lunch at Denny's can only be described as terrible. From there, we walked over to the Toyota and Honda dealers next door to see what new cars cost in Canada. We found the costs to be roughly similar to the U.S., despite Canada's weaker dollar. actually tells me that the Matrix has a lower base price in Canada than the US by about $500, but this could easily be due to the fact that they are manufactured in Cambridge, Ontario. The thing that was striking, though, was the insanely liberal estimation used to determine gas mileage on these vehicles. The listed MPG rating on a Toyota Matrix, for example, is 36 city/46 highway in Canada. The identical car in the US has an EPA rating of 21/29. Assuming the current model year Matrix is anything remotely similar to the 2004 version I own, I can vouch for the 21/29 numbers being much closer to reality. Even the 29/35 that was advertised when I bought my car was a pipe dream which has never materialized.

Anyhow, back on topic. After walking around the dealer lots for a few minutes without being pounced by slimy salespeople, we hopped in the car and drove across the street to get gas. We got just enough to last us for the small road trip we had planned to kill our time before needing to be at the ferry terminal -- the plan was to drive north and see how far we got before we needed to turn around and head back to the ferry. We planned this out well; We had less than two gallons of gas left in the tank by the time we arrived at the Coho at 1:00pm for customs.

Customs was an interesting process and utter waste of time. We basically sat there for an hour watching some episodes of The Office on my laptop while waiting for the Customs agent to get to us. They asked the cursory questions, told me that they didn't actually care about the thing that I was told I would have to declare when I purchased said item, and made me go stand in line for 20 minutes while they scanned our passports. Finally, it was time to drive onto the boat.

The M.V. Coho is a small, old boat. Currently in its 50th year of service, it has been taking autos back and forth across the strait of Juan de Fuca since 1959. As you will be able to tell from the pictures, the boat also hasn't been given a facelift or new furniture since then -- a much different and less comfortable experience than BC Ferries. The foodservice counter on the boat accepted both US and Canadian dollars, so I spent my last few Loonies on "lunch" at 3:00 as we were setting sail.

Upon our arrival in Port Angeles at 4:30pm, we headed directly for the Safeway to top off the gas tank at reasonable prices and began the drive to Seattle. I almost ran a few red lights, turned down a few one-way streets in the wrong direction, and just generally almost killed us several times while trying to navigate the terrible street system that is Downtown Seattle, but we eventually got to the hotel and put the car in valet. There was a Cheesecake Factory a few blocks from the hotel, so we had a (very late) dinner there and then retired to the room for the evening, where we were treated to brand-new ultra-comfortable pillowtop mattresses. A treat for the last night, and WAY better than the Red Lion in Victoria.

Vancouver 2009: Victoria, BC

After getting back from our journey out to Sooke, we headed toward downtown Victoria for some proper touristy sight-seeing. We of course checked out the Empress Hotel, which was quite formal and British. We also walked around a bit downtown, trying to avoid the direction of the very low-setting and incredibly bright sun. You'll notice a lot of the pictures either are overly washed out or have tons of glare -- this is due to the sub-optimal lighting conditions present at the time. For dinner, we went to a real sushi place -- the first one I've ever been to that serves albacore instead of bluefin or yellowfin when you order tuna. Since albacore is my favorite kind of tuna, I was quite thrilled with this. Their salmon was equally amazing -- so fresh, it didn't even taste fishy... which is quite a feat for salmon.

Vancouver 2009: Sooke, BC

After departing the Butchart Gardens, we attempted to take a drive out to the South/West Coast of Vancouver Island. The goal was to get off the peninsula and try to see out toward Olympic National Park in Washington. We were successful in getting to Sooke, which is a town that roughly fits that description. The road we were following was more or less right on the water's edge, but after traveling for several miles without being able to find much of a break in the trees, we finally opted to turn off into a bed and breakfast which was conveniently perched atop a hill tall enough to see out over the trees and toward the water. Darrick hopped out and took a few pictures here, and then we decided to turn around and head back. It was at about this time that my phone started making all sorts of weird noises -- text messages, voicemails, etc... so we stopped at the one good turnout just down the road where we could actually see the water. Here, we found blackberries and rose hips growing in abundance along the roadside as well as a nice view toward Washington.

As I was investigating why my iPhone was making so many strange noises, I noticed that our coastal location with line of sight to the US tricked my phone into thinking it was, in fact, in the US. This is likely why all the text messages and voice mails suddenly came through after almost a whole week of silence from the thing. Darrick caught me taking advantage like the horrible technology-addict that I am and snapped a picture.

Vancouver 2009: The Butchart Gardens, Italian Garden

The final stop on the loop of the Butchart Gardens is the Italian Garden. It was mainly contained inside a tiny little courtyard up against a building, where they predictably had a Gelato stand for those who felt so inclined. After finishing the loop around the gardens, we stopped in at the cafe for lunch (it was 1:30pm by this point, and we had skipped breakfast) and then spent some time in the gift shop. If my suitcase hadn't already been pushing its weight and capacity limits, this place could have been quite expensive for me. Luckily for my bank account, I had a good excuse to not spend too much money.

The Italian Garden Gallery

Vancouver 2009: The Butchart Gardens, Japanese Garden

In the natural progression of the self-paced tour through the Butchart Gardens, the next stop after the Rose Garden is the Japanese Garden.

Vancouver 2009: The Butchart Gardens, Rose Garden

Once finished with the Sunken Garden, we went over toward the Rose Gardens. Unfortunately, there were about a thousand people in this very small space, so it was difficult to get good pictures without tons of people getting in the way and such. I tried, though.

It's not a rose, but it's still pretty.

Vancouver 2009: The Butchart Gardens, Sunken Garden

On Thursday morning, we headed straight from the hotel out to the Butchart Gardens. The first portion of the Butchart Gardens that we walked through was the Sunken Garden, which was literally planted in an old quarry. Needless to say, it now looks nothing like a quarry.

An overview of the Sunken Garden
A small portion of the Sunken Garden

A Sunflower just outside the Sunken Garden.

Click here to see the entire Sunken Garden gallery. There are quite a few photos in this one.

Vancouver 2009: Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay Ferry

On Wednesday morning, we had room service breakfast delivered to our hotel room. Darrick got pancakes and hot chocolate while I got scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, toast, and pineapple juice. After breakfast, I showered and re-packed (but forgot to use the free robe!) in preparation for check-out. Luckily, the cooler had dried sufficently enough overnight that it was no longer wet. (Sidebar: my collapsible cooler apparently has a leak that results in water getting everywhere once the ice melts.)

After checking out of the hotel, we drove around Whistler a bit, hoping to find a place where we could do a little bit of hiking. Instead we encountered a trailhead with a parking lot that was closed... so we didn't hike. Instead, we drove North for a bit to see what else was out there, then turned around and headed back through Whistler toward Vancouver to catch a ferry to Victoria.

Our destination was the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, because BC Ferries runs ferries every hour on the hour from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay. Unfortunately, Tsawwassen is almost all the way back down at the US border, which means we had to drive through downtown Vancouver to get there. A combination of construction and a traffic jam meant that though we were merging onto the Lions Gate Bridge at 2:05pm, we didn't get out of downtown Vancouver until about 3:05pm. In that hour, we covered maybe three miles at most.

By 3:30 or so we had arrived at the ferry terminal in time for the 4:00pm ferry. BC Ferries runs a nice operation: nice, clean boats with ample seating, shopping, and entertainment on board for the 90 minute ferry trip. Since I had been driving all day, my preferred method of entertainment involved taking a nap for the majority of the trip. Darrick took a few pictures, though.

Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay Ferry Gallery

Upon our arrival in Swartz Bay, we proceeded directly to our hotel in Victoria to check in, as it was now approaching 6:00 PM and we wanted to drop off our stuff and find somewhere to go eat dinner. For the first time all trip, we had a bit of bad luck with our hotel booking: This place had a single entrance for the entire hotel. The elevator we tried first took us to a half-floor that was connected to the lobby by a half flight of stairs for seemingly no reason. The elevator that actually went to the guest rooms was barely large enough for two people *without* luggage. When we got to the room, we discovered that although this place had free internet, it was not wireless. A cable was not provided with the room -- we had to check one out from the front desk. After the resort in Whistler, this was quite a let-down. The other fine establishments sharing a building with our hotel included a liquor store, chinese restaurant, and a night club.

After doing a bit of research, we selected a Japanese Benihana-esque steakhouse for dinner. It was delicious but took forever -- we didn't get back to the hotel until about 9:30pm. (We also made a pit-stop at Wal-Mart on the way back -- more on that in a bit.) Due to the aforementioned nightclub that is physically attached to the hotel, parking was a disaster. There was simply none to be found anywhere. Along with about 10 other cars, I drove circles around the block and the parking lot for a good 10 minutes or so before being hit with some sort of magic bit of luck and catching someone who happened to be leaving.

So... Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart in Victoria is The. Most. Ghetto. Wal-Mart. Ever. I'm not even kidding. First of all, the store is shaped like a T. You enter at the bottom of the T, and it's this little weird narrow store where the line of registers is perpendicular to the exit doors. Walk through that, and then suddenly it opens up into a larger box store. There were random pallets of crap everywhere. The clothing and luggage sections were physically connected to the electronics section. I was checking out the luggage area because I was going to potentially buy a small suitcase to split my stuff up for the return trip, assuming I could find one cheap enough that would justify its likely one-time use. Shelves that even had prices posted on them at all did not have merchandise that corresponded with the price on the shelf -- what I was hoping to be a $17 disposable small roller bag rang up at the register for $45, so I told them I didn't want it. Darrick bought seasons 2 through 4 of The Office on DVD, since I only had the first three discs of my Season 3 box set ripped to my hard drive due to space limitations. He wanted to watch the 4th disk.

Vancouver 2009: Whistler

After leaving the Capilano Suspension Bridge, we met up with the Trans-Canada highway for the 60-mile (about 90 minutes because of massive construction and low speed limits) drive to Whistler. Our hotel in Whistler was literally steps from the ski lifts at the base of the mountain, and we had a great view out our balcony of the mountain. I took advantage of the hotel's laundry facilities, gym, and vending machines, and then we went for a stroll around the pedestrian village and stopped at the Olympic gift shop. It was starting to get cold outside, so we ducked into a nice steakhouse for dinner. After dinner we headed back to the room, changed into some warmer clothes, and went for an evening stroll in search of dessert. :)

Did I mention that our hotel room had a fully functional kitchenette with dishwasher, stove, oven, microwave, and full size refrigerator/freezer, dining table with 4 chairs, TV and DVD player, fireplace, side chair, a closet with an ironing board and bathrobes, a queen size sofa bed, and a queen size Nelson bed all in 411 square feet, which is less than half the size of my apartment? Oh, and this was the view from our patio:

Whistler Photo Gallery

Vancouver 2009: Capilano Suspension Bridge

On Tuesday morning, we checked out of our hotel in downtown Vancouver and headed toward Whistler for the evening. On our way, we made a few-hour stop in North Vancouver to get gas (at 1.189 per liter, which translates to roughly $4.50 CAD per US Gallon, which corresponds to roughly $4.18 USD) and have brunch at a fine Canadian establishment named Denny's. From there we went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which was just up the road.

As we were entering the parking lot, some guy leaving flagged us down, waving a parking pass at us. Apparently, the parking passes are good for the whole day and most visitors there are so offended by the price of admission that they give away their parking passes when they're leaving. Score! Saved us $5. Unfortunately when we left there was nobody entering the lot we could give ours to.

Basically, the park consists of a suspension bridge that was built across the canyon carved by the Capilano River. For those afraid of heights, it's a bit scary -- but this bridge survived when a GIANT tree fell on it in a storm, so it's definitely stable enough. On the far side, there's a little nature walk area and a "Treetops Adventure" which basically consists of more little mini suspension bridges that span from treetop to treetop.

Vancouver 2009: Miscellaneous Vancouver

This gallery contains photos that we took in Vancouver, but don't neatly fit into any of the other galleries. They include such awesomeness as the Pocky Store on Robson.

Vancouver 2009: Brockton Point

After checking out the totems, we wandered over toward Brockton Point along the seawall path. We took some pictures of the lighthouse and some sea planes, and then worked our way back around the loop to the totems and our car.

Vancouver 2009: Stanley Park Totems

By 3:30, we finally made it over to the totems near Brockton point. We parked in the Brockton Cricket Pavilion parking lot and walked over to the totems, then walked out to Brockton point and back around to Halleujah point before sitting down in the large grassy area outside the Cricket Pavilion to people-watch for a few minutes.

Vancouver 2009: Prospect Point

We returned to our car which was parked near the Aquarium after checking out the Rose Garden and having a snack and drinks. We decided to drive the perimeter of Stanley Park and then find a place to park that was closer to the other things we wanted to see. We stopped at a few places along the way, including Prospect Point which overlooks the Lions Gate Bridge and the waterfront. The Lions Gate Bridge is the main highway (BC-99) that connects downtown Vancouver to North Vancouver and (indirectly) to the Trans-Canada Highway. From Prospect Point, we were able to walk downhill to the foot of the bridge and then even continue on downhill from there toward the waterfront.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Vancouver 2009: Stanley Park Rose Garden

After visiting the aquarium, we walked through Stanley Park toward the main entrance and on to the Rose Garden. We took a whole bunch of pictures and wandered back to our car. We stopped for drinks and snacks on the way, and then found a playground in the woods with a swing set.

Vancouver 2009: Vancouver Aquarium

On Monday morning, we drove to Stanley Park. We started off with a trip through the Vancouver Aquarium. Their big attraction there is the Beluga Whales, but they weren't doing any whale shows because one of them had just given birth.

Vancouver 2009: Gastown and Waterfront

After Chinatown, we headed to McDonalds (yeah, yeah... shut up) for liquid refreshments and then headed toward Gastown and the waterfront. We were enjoying a nice breeze at the cruise ship terminal and convention centre while watching the tugboats clear some barges out of the way for a large cruise ship to leave... and then some beggar started harassing us, so we left and headed toward the seawall. Later that evening, we walked back to the hotel to drop our stuff, then headed (on foot) to Yaletown for dinner, where we found a great Thai place.

Gastown and Waterfront Gallery

Vancouver 2009: Chinatown

For the first album of the 2009 road trip to Vancouver, I present to you the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Park and Garden and other areas around Vancouver's Chinatown. Upon arriving in Vancouver (very, very late) Saturday night, we went straight to bed. After breakfast on Sunday morning, we took a cab to Chinatown.

The cabbie dropped us off about 10 blocks past the entrance to the garden... probably to make an extra buck off of some American tourists. This is the last time we took a cab in Vancouver... it took us a half an hour of looking at bad maps to figure out where the hell we were and where we were supposed to be going. The first pictures are from the park outside of the garden, which is a free city park. On the other side of the moat is the actual garden that requires paid entrance. We took some pictures in the park first and then headed into the garden in time for the noon tour.

After Chinatown, we headed toward the adjacent Gastown neighborhood. This is somewhat like San Diego's gaslamp quarter in the sense that there's tons of trendy shopping and other crap there... and it's near the waterfront, but separated by heavy and light rail tracks.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Server DNS Update

Hopefully nobody will notice, but I made some major changes to the back-end of the site tonight. Same content, different computer hosting it. Some DNS records were modified in the process, so it's possible that some links that used to work are now busted. If you find anything, let me know.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vancouver Itinerary Materializing

Darrick and I took some time this evening to sit down and hash out the details of our Vancouver road trip next month. We need to start booking hotels, and before we can do that it helps to know which cities correspond with which nights.

Here is a road map of the proposed trip. The tentative schedule is as follows:

Saturday 8/22: Travel to Seattle. Rent Car. Dinner in Bellingham. Hotel in Vancouver.
Sunday 8/23: Vancouver. Hotel in Vancouver.
Monday 8/24: Vancouver. Hotel in Vancouver.

Tuesday 8/25: Drive to Whistler Early AM. Do touristy things. Hotel in Whistler.

Wednesday 8/26: Spend morning in Whistler, afternoon drive/ferry to Victoria. Hotel in Victoria.

Thursday 8/27: Victoria. Hotel in Victoria.

Friday 8/28: Drive/ferry to Seattle Early AM. Do touristy things. Hotel in Seattle.

Saturday 8/29: Spend the morning in Seattle, return rental Automobile, and travel home via Planes and Trains.

If we keep to this schedule, we'll be out of the country for about 5.5 days. If we can't find at least one hotel in Canada with free WiFi, we may both go through some pretty serious Internet detox withdrawls.

Eyewear Experiment Update

So, the new $34 glasses arrived on Saturday. After a quick trip over to LensCrafters to have them adjusted to fit my face, they have been available for me to use.

I think I need to take them and get them adjusted a little bit more -- they still sit too high on my nose and are a little loose behind the ears, but those are things that can be easily fixed. Aside from the adjustment issues, the only real complaint I have with them is the anti-reflective coating. Either they forgot to add it, or the one added sucks. There's plenty of glare (from any light source) on the lenses when I wear them indoors.

As far as the frame goes, it's pretty representative of the picture they provided on the website. The metal surrounding the lenses is a bit shinier than I expected, but hopefully I will wear this off quickly. If I'd had the opportunity to try them on in the store first, I suspect I would've vetoed them on account of the color. For the price I paid though, I'll quit complaining. The most important thing -- the prescription -- is correct, as far as I can tell.

For anyone else who wants to try their luck with blind* shopping for their optical needs, they can find the web site of the company I bought my glasses from here.

I'll post a photo once I get my new camera on Friday.

* pun intended.

Minor Updates

I made some minor changes to the blog layout yesterday. Over on the right column, I added a "recommended reading" section. This section shows the most recent posts on some of the blogs and news feeds that I follow on Google Reader. I was toying with the idea of adding a Google search box as well, but I didn't like the way it looked on the screen. Let me know what you think.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mobile Posting

Testing out "Mobile Posting" for my blog. Says the Blogger autobot: "Success! Ur phone is verified. Snd msgs 2 BLOGGR 2 post 2 ur blog.Txt STOP 2 stop receiving SMS, HELP 4 info. Std msg chrgs aply"

Wow. Someone must've spent some time on that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sac Visits

For anyone who cares:

I am currently planning to be in Sacramento from August 7 through 10, October 1 through {undefined*}, and November 24-27.

* Undefined = 10/5 or 10/10 depending on several external circumstances such as: (a) whether I can actually take that much time off work, (b) what the weather is like while I'm up there, and (c) whether I can stand sleeping on that horrible twin mattress for that long.


Last month when I was in Ohio with my sister, I used her camera to take some pictures. I had brought my SLR, but found that most of the time I was there I didn't want to use it because it's too bulky and a bit of a pain for just taking simple snapshots of things. I have an old Olympus C740UZ camera, but it has essentially been retired because it is (a) too slow, (b) too bulky for a point and shoot, and (c) only takes 3-megapixel images.

Fast forward to today: I received a small amount of compensation for participating in a survey. Also, some rebates came for me in the mail last week. Though normally I'd be stingy and put that toward the "buy a house" fund, I decided to actually spend it for once. I liked Nicole's camera when I was in Ohio (with the exception of its being pink) and decided to buy one for myself because it was on sale for $50 off. Currently it's listed for $179 at Amazon if you get the silver color, and $199 for the others. Here's what it looks like:

Canon PowerShot SD1200IS Front View

Canon PowerShot SD1200IS Rear View

Some statistics: This camera has a 6.2-18.6mm 3x Image Stabilized zoom lens, which equates to about a 35-105mm range on a standard 35mm camera. Or, if you have a Canon SLR like mine with the 1.6 crop factor, it equates to about 21-65mm. I take most of my pictures within this range anyhow. It can shoot 1.4 frames per second and takes SDHC memory cards. Supposedly, an 8GB card (sold separately, of course) holds about 3,000 pictures or just a shade over 1 hour of 640x480 video at 30fps. A single card should be more than adequate. The CCD comes in at 10 Megapixels, which is actually a 25% improvement over my 8MP Digital Rebel XT.

Most importantly though, this camera weighs a whopping 4.23 ounces and has dimensions of 3.48 x 2.16 x 0.86 inches. At nearly 5 pounds fully equipped, my Digital Rebel is roughly 19 times as heavy.

If the shipping gods look upon me favorably, I should have this new toy in my hands in time for Walter's wedding next weekend.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Canada Trip = Large Phone Bill

From AT&T's website:

International data roaming can get expensive quickly. For example, opening an email with a 5 megapixel picture in it, or downloading a 3-minute video on YouTube, each takes about 2 MB of data. The cost would be almost $40, based on pay-per-use international data rates of $0.0195/KB.

$24.99 per month - 20 MB Data Global Plan (Overage is $0.005/KB)

Translation: Good thing I checked this before leaving. Options: Turn off data entirely while out of the country, or pay at least $25 to check email in the mornings and hope I don't need Google Maps.

Sending Text Messages When Outside the U.S.: $0.50 per message sent. Home package rates apply to all text messages received when roaming internationally.

Translation: You can send, but I may not respond. This seems somewhat lenient for AT&T.

Calling and Traveling to Canada: AT&T Canada ($4.99 per month; $0.59 per minute while roaming in Canada.)

Translation: I can pay $4.99 for the right to only pay 59 cents per minute to use my phone in Canada. Without this plan, it costs 79 cents per minute. The break-even point on this is 25 minutes. Will I use my phone for more than 25 minutes the whole time I'm in Canada? Hmm...

Monday, July 6, 2009


On Friday, I came into the office (company holiday) to make some modifications to my office in hopes of stopping all the annoying rattling in my ceiling. I popped out the HVAC return register and lined the ceiling grid with felt... then put it back in. It stopped those rattles.

Problem is, now the supply register is rattling. I may have to do the same with it. Hopefully, once I do that it won't extend the problem to the light fixtures -- but it might. My office is cursed.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Experiment Update

Got an e-mail today saying that my new eyeglasses have shipped USPS. The Saturday holiday will surely screw with the timely delivery of said package, but it should be here early next week nonetheless.

UPDATE 7/11/09, 1:31 AM: "Your item was processed through and left our SAN DIEGO, CA 92186 facility at 12:24 AM on July 11, 2009. The item is currently in transit to the destination. Information, if available, is updated periodically throughout the day. Please check again later."

Sounds like they should be delivered tomorrow (well technically, later today.) Hooray!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hard Water

Also received the annual "Drinking Water Quality Report" in the mail today. It tells me that the average Total Hardness of my drinking water is 241ppm. Google tells me that this falls well into the "Fairly Hard" category, which should not be a surprise to anyone who has ever frozen San Diego tap water and then melted the ice cubes...

Jury Summons

Received a Jury Summons in the mail today. According to this blog, I served on a trial a little less than two years ago. If you've served at any time in the last three years, you're exempt from reporting. Shouldn't the county keep better track of such things, and mail my summons to someone who isn't exempt? They're just wasting money. Plus, it cost me a stamp to mail it back to them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Upcoming Roadtrip

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm going to be taking another road trip this summer. I should be saving my money to buy a house, but I can't be a cheapskate ALL the time and still stay sane. Also, I have lots and lots of vacation time that I have to either use or forfeit soon. Using it seemed to be the better option.

The details are still sketchy, and complicated by the fact that though my airfare and rental vehicle have been booked, lodging for the trip has not yet been secured. Though with how much the SUV and airfare cost, we might be sleeping in the car and/or some really borderline hotels.

Here's the general structure of the trip:

Saturday, August 22: Fly to Seattle. Arrive around 4:00 PM. Rent SUV. Act like tourists in Seattle.

Sometime after August 22: Drive to Vancouver, BC. Act like tourists. Maybe go salmon fishing. Maybe just stay on solid ground.

Sometime after that: Drive up to Whistler. Act like tourists. Try to find venues for 2010 Olympics. Maybe do some hiking or photography.

Once that is done: Drive back to Vancouver, then back to Seattle. Be tourists in Seattle.

Saturday, August 29: Return vehicle. Fly home.


I think I rather like having a family member who works for a car rental agency. She just saved me almost 50% (nearly $400) on a one-week SUV rental for my upcoming road trip. Plus, the rate comes with a free additional driver AND the collision damage waiver insurance. In other news, check out these rental car fee and tax rates at SeaTac Airport:

Customer Facility Chg 5.00/day
Concession Recovery Fee 11.10 Pct
Vehicle License Recovery Fee .31/day

Rental Car Tax (9.70%)
Sales Tax (9.50%)

That comes out to a total of 30.3% over the base rental rate plus an extra $5.31 a day. Maybe this is not so bad on a single-day mid size rental paid for by your corporate office, but for a week long SUV booking going on someone's personal card, it gets real ugly real fast.


Recently, I've been annoyed with my current eyeglasses. I don't have to wear them ALL the time, but I've started to notice when I do wear them that the frame itself is a little bit too narrow for my face. They are probably also a bit mis-adjusted, but that's not such a big deal. I compared the physical frame for my regular eyeglasses with my prescription sunglasses (which fit comfortably) and found that the eyeglass frames are a full 10mm narrower than the sunglass frames.

This got me to thinking about how I was going to get a new pair of glasses back around November, but never followed through with it because all those designer frames at the Optometrist, though partially covered by my insurance, would still cost me several hundred dollars out of pocket to get ones that don't completely suck. I'm cheap, and this cost was unacceptable, so I put the idea on indefinite hold.

While searching for frames back in November I came across a web site that promises to sell high quality, accurate prescription eyewear for a fraction of the cost of any traditional provider -- as low as $8 for frame+lenses, and another $5 shipping. At this cost, I can afford to try out new styles to see how I like them without sinking a large amount of money into the process. The worst-case scenario here would basically be that I end up with a marginal-quality pair of backup glasses that look ugly on me, so I figured it was worth a shot. (I don't currently have a backup pair of glasses that is even close to my current Rx.) How do they keep their prices so low, you ask? I suspect it has something to do with China's cheap manufacturing and blatant disregard for international copyright. I'm OK with that.

Thus, I bought a pair of cheap eyeglasses. I present to you:

Cheap Glasses! (Click image for full size)

Oh, did I mention that UV and anti-scratch coatings are included in their low, low price? In a moment of weakness, I decided to shell out the extra $5 for the anti-reflective coating as well. Probably just as well, since they'll probably get most of their use while I'm driving. I did not, however, fork over the extra $4 for a clip-on polarized 80% sunshade because I already have a pair of prescription polarized sunglasses that work quite nicely. For those of you keeping score at home, that's a grand total of $33.85 (Though stingy, I am also incredibly picky and ended up choosing pretty much the most expensive frames they carried) for a pair of prescription eyeglasses with UV, anti-scratch, and anti-reflective coatings as well as 180-degree spring hinges on the arms. They should arrive by July 15. I'm excited to see what I end up with.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ohio Trip 2009

From June 4 through June 9, 2009 Nicole and I took a trip to Ohio. Officially the purpose of the trip was to attend my cousin Mason's high school graduation party, but we also managed to see lots of family, friends, and places while we were there.

We flew into Cleveland on the 4th, got in (very) late, and headed to my Aunt's house in Bath (just outside of Akron) from the airport after renting a vehicle. We stayed there all day Friday, for the Graduation Party on Saturday, the actual Graduation on Sunday, and Sunday night. On Monday morning, we headed across the state to Jewell to see Grandma. Tuesday morning, we headed from there to Findlay for a whirlwind tour to see some friends and what was left of our old house. After that, we drive straight back to the Cleveland Airport and flew home. That's the trip in a nutshell.

Pictures Link:

Grandma's Pond

Monday, April 13, 2009

Death Valley/Vegas Trip

Darrick and I went to Racetrack Playa in Death Valley and to Las Vegas recently. He has posted the photos, I have not done so yet. I'll get around to it eventually.