April 2009 Archives

Happy Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day everyone!  I hope the earth is treating you well, and more importantly, you are treating the earth well.  Every year around this time I like to reflect on what I am doing to try to be more environmentally friendly and grade what I've done in the past.  If you look through my April blog archives over the years you can see how I did.  For this year, here is what I've been doing:

1.  Bring my own bags when grocery shopping nearly every single time.
2.  I joined a CSA which means I get fresh, local, organically grown produce delivered to my house every 2 weeks.
3.  I no longer eat out of season fruits and vegetables (for the most part), and I try to eat local and/or organic wherever possible.
4.  I very rarely run the air conditioner.  I'll typically use a fan first and also open the windows at night if it cools down at night.
5.  I put in a lot of effort over the last month to start a large, sustainable garden.  It may take a while to get results, but it should be very good.
6.  I got a drying rack and try to use that all the time.

Areas where I digressed:
1.  Driving.  My commute is 4 times farther now and I do not want to take the Vespa on the highway.  I really need to get a more fuel efficient vehicle when I get a new one.

Goals for the coming year:
1.  Find ways to improve mileage.
2.  Keep working on the garden.
3.  Replace either the refridgerator or the dishwasher with a more energy efficient model.

Finally Found Tulips

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Timber and I finally found tulips that were blooming in Skagit Valley. We got there about two weeks early (best guess) for the tulips, but we finally found them at Tulip Town and Roozengarte. It was Easter Day and it was raining a lot, but we put on our rain gear and powered through. It was kind of tough to keep the lenses from getting water on the glass but we kept them pointed down whenever they were not being used. We also had to think about which way the wind was blowing and try to keep the glass protected when we did take pictures. After a successful but rainy Easter we left for Seattle on Monday. We stopped at the Seattle Premium outlets along the way. After that we pretty much went straight to the airport. We hit rush hour traffic along the way, but we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport and get checked in. We bought gas for the prius just before returning it, and for our 400 miles of driving we paid only $19 to fill it up. This at $2.33 a gallon. Not bad! Overall it was a fun trip and I would definitely go back to the Seattle area to do more things.

Made It To Skagit County

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On Friday we got up, checked out of our hotel, and walked down to Pike Place Market again, this time with lots of hustle and bustle. As we walked around we snacked on some treats, checked out the first Starbucks every, and took some photos. After we were done we went back to the hotel, picked up our bags and car, and the proceeded to check out a double decker Krispy Kreme near the Seahawks football stadium, visit the REI flagship store, and get out of town. It took roughly an hour to make it up to Skagit Valley. We are staying in Burlington.

On Saturday we got up, had breakfast, and headed out to find Tulips and Daffodils. We stopped at an information center where they gave us directions to the tulip fields and to Laconner. There was a parade going on there so we rushed to get there in time. Once we got to town we watched the parade and then we took a float plane trip to check out the tulip and daffodil fields from the air. It was a great experience. After the flight we had a late lunch and then decided to go check out Snow Goose Produce. Timber told me that they have 48 different kinds of ice cream and other goodies. Once we got there we saw thousands of snow geese flying around the nearby fields and tried to take a few decent pictures of them. Unfortunately they were so far away that we probably didn't get any good shots. After Snow Goose Produce we decided to drive to Anacortes and see where the ferry terminal (that takes you to the San Juan Islands and to Vancouver Island) is located. It was a nice drive and we saw a few bald eagles along the way. We also stopped to take lots of photos of the daffodils. I don't know how many there were out there but I would guess high hundreds of thousands or millions. After that we stopped in downdown Anacortes to have some Thai food for dinner. After that it was time to call it a night.

Made It To Seattle

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Yesterday Timber and I departed San Jose for Seattle. From Seattle we are going about an hour's drive north to Skagit Valley for the Tulip Festival. Timber worked from home yesterday while I went into the office for a little while. I left work around noon and went to Keeble & Schucat in Palo Alto to pick up two lenses that I rented, a 17-40 mm and a 25 - 105 mm. After I picked up the lenses I headed home I put them on the cameras and finished packing while Timber worked. Once it was time to go we put our stuff in the car, grabbed Wookie, and headed out. On our way to the airport we dropped Wookie off at Spots and then parked in long term parking and then caught the shuttle to our terminal. After the obligatory stripping for security we were ready for our flight. Overall the flight went smoothly and we landed in Seattle about 5 minutes ahead of schedule. Once we picked up our bags we made our way to the car rental counter and paid a little extra to rent a Toyota Prius. I wanted to rent one to do an extended test drive because I don't think a simple test drive before buying a car is enough. I want to see how the car does in the day, night, sunny, rainy, traffic, etc... Unfortunately you can't rent most cars before you buy them, so you have to sieze the opportunity when it arrises. Once we left the airport we got on the highway and headed north for downtown Seattle. We had reserved a room at the Alexis Hotel on 1st Aveneue. When we got there we learned that they normally charge $34 a night for parking, but hybrid vehicle parking was free. Sweet! Once we got checked in and situated we grabbed our cameras and headed down to the street. We walked a few blocks to Pike Place Market, and after seeing that most of it was closed up we walked around in search of food. We eventually found food at the Frontier Room (they were serving dinner until 11 PM) and I got a small bowl of chili, small bowl of mac & cheese, and a cornbread muffin while Timber got a pulled pork sandwich. It also happened to be ladie's night, so Timber also got a mixed drink for $3. Overall the food was pretty good and they put beef brisket in their chili. After dinner we made our way back to our hotel and called it a night.
Back when Timber and I bought our condo and the property was assessed by the county higher and higher every year, which meant we had to pay more in property taxes every year I wondered something.  I wondered if the county would lower the assessed value of our property if and when it started to go back down.  This article answers my questions.  I'm too lazy do to a deep dive into this, but I'm sure that they were faster to tack on the gains to the property taxes than they are to take off the losses as the values go down.  Its just a hunch.  But in general I think it is safe to assume that the government is going to try to get as much money out of you as possible.

Pistachio Recall

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Over the weekend while Timber and I were running around looking for wildflowers we stopped in at Casa de Fruta and picked up some pistachios and other goodies.  The day after that news spread about a pistachio recall and the FDA was recommending people get rid of anything with pistachios in it.  My mom also asked me if I had gotten rid of our pistachios.  I said no because I did not have enough information yet to either continue eating them or throw them out.  Plus pistachios are expensive and the ones we got were really good (one batch of rosemary pistachios and one batch of gaucamole pistachios) and I didn't want to throw them out without a good reason.  I also asked Timber about it and she just kept eating them even though she heard about the recall.  :-)  So I decided to email Casa de Fruta to see if they got their pistachios from the affected company.  Luckily they did not.  Here is their response to me:

"Thank you for contacting us. We are aware of the product recall. We are happy to report our product is not affected by the recall. Our product was purchased prior to the contamination and have confirmed it with the FDA. You may eat you pistachios. We will be posting this notice in our stores by the end of the day. Please contact me if you have any other questions."

September 2010

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