Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Observations About Oregon

  • Salespeople always count out your change for you.
  • Signs for garage sales/yard sales just say, “SALE –>”
  • There are a lot of little huts around that sell espresso.
  • The symbol for the Oregon Lottery is *hilarious*!

Oregon Lottery Sign

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The Delinquent Traveler

Whenever I go on a trip, I do as little planning as possible. Generally, I travel with people who either like to plan or are resigned to it. Case in point: the trip I’m currently on. All the research about the destination, hotel, attractions, etc. were handled by my sister and her boyfriend. I basically just had to show up. Well, show up and buy beer and diapers along the way, as Nancy, Jeff and the kids are flying in from  Toronto1 and it wasn’t worth lugging that kind of stuff on the airplane.

Of course, for this trip I actually had to get myself to Portland.  I had decided to drive because flights were more expensive than they were worth. Knowing that I am too cheap to use my cell phone in the States, I had printed out at Google Map with the directions to get to the hotel – basically down the I-5 to the I-205. I also have a giant map book that has all the states and provinces in it, so I brought that along as well. I decided to leave very early in the morning to try to beat them long weekend border traffic. This was a good plan, because I left my house at about 6:15 a.m. and I only ended up waiting about 15 minutes at the border2. Though I had plotted the direct route to Portland on Google Maps, I knew I would have *tonnes* of time to kill as my family wasn’t going to be arriving until about 8 p.m.3. I toyed with the idea of driving at least part of the way down the coast instead of the I-54, but not far as doing any actual planning. You know, like mapping out an actual route. Anyway, as I was driving along the I-5, I saw a sign that said, “Ocean Beaches” and thought, “What the hell?” and went in that direction to take the more scenic route. I had my giant map book, which has the major highways on it and figured out basically where I’d end up going if I followed this spur-of-the-moment plan. Basically, I took Hwy 8/Hwy 12/Hwy 105 through Aberdeen, Grayland, the hilariously named Tokeland, down to Raymond, around South Bend and down Hwy 101 through Lewis & Clark National Park and over the most awesomest bridge ever into Astoria.

Just before I went over the awesome bridge, I stopped in at the Dismal Nitch Rest Area:

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

 

 

That “No Fish Cleaning” sign made me really wish I had a fish in need of cleaning!

But I have to say, Dismal Nitch is so not dismal!

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Hell, even the restroom had flowers:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dismal Nitch Rest Area - the restroom had flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

This is the awesome bridge that links Washington State to Astoria, Oregon. I’m pretty sure it’s the longest bridge I’ve ever driven on, and is certainly the awesomest (the photo does not do it justice!):Dismal Nitch Rest Area

Strangely, I was listening to my music on shuffle at the time and just as I was about to go over the bridge, the song “Stan” by Eminem came on. For anyone not familiar with the song, it ends with an Enimem fan committing murder-suicide by driving off a bridge with his pregnant girlfriend being held captive in the trunk of his car. Definitely an eerie song to listen to on a bridge5! Also, that’s how long the bridge is – by the time it got to that part of the song, I was still on the bridge!

In Astoria, I stopped for a (late) lunch and took a couple of photos – the place was as cute as button, and the photos don’t do it justice at all:

Astoria, OR

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Upon leaving Astoria, I was a wee bit nervous because I was now going to be approaching Portland, and thus my hotel, from a totally different direction than the original Google Map that I’d printed and, as you know, I ‘m directionally challenged. I managed to get most of the way there, but then there was a giant clusterfuck of Hwy 30, Hwy 30 Bypass, Hwy 84, Hwy 205, Hwy 405 and the I-5 all having a giant orgy and I got totally and completely lost. To the point that I actually had to turn on my phone’s data to ask Google Maps to save me. It only took me like 5 seconds to do that, but I’m sure that will cost me eleventy billion dollars in data roaming fees. But it did the job because I’m now sitting in my hotel room, writing this blog posting, and waiting for my family to arrive!

I am sure I’ll chime back in with more stories of our Portland adventures (Voodoo Doughnut, I’m looking in your direction!) soon!

 

 

  1. Dragon Dictate just wrote “Tron” instead of Toronto []
  2. The sign said the wait was going to be 40 minutes, so that was a pleasant surprise. []
  3. and the direct route only takes about 5 hours. []
  4. Sarah had suggested that, since I had so much time to kill, I take a detour to check out Mount St. Helens. I thought about it, but I realized that a trip to Mount St. Helens would be way more fun with someone else as opposed to by myself, so I decided to save it for another time []
  5. Clearly, Bellatrix has a twisted sense of humour! []

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Officially On Vacation!

I had a ridiculously productive day at work today, getting three major things done that needed to be done, as well as helping out two people with computer problems1, and reviewed a paper for a colleague. Like I said, ridiculously productive. So I feel that I have extra super duper earned the vacation that I am now on. I ended up staying a bit late to get all this done, but I left the office by about 5:45 p.m. and by 5:54 p.m. I was at home drinking a beer. Drinking this beer, in fact:

IMG_2359

And thus begins my vacation. Of course, this first night of my vacation won’t be that exciting. I’ll be packing my bags and going to bed early so that I can get up at the crack of dawn to try to beat  some of the long weekend border traffic. But I am super stoked that by a roughly this time tomorrow I will be hanging out with my sister, my brother-in-common law, my niece, and my nephew!

In unrelated news, while uploading my beer photo, I also uploaded a few other photos that I had sitting on my iPhone. Photos such as this awesome  sign that I saw on the weekend:

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And this photo that I took for Dr. Dan:

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As you know, Dan and I have a thing for disobeying signs while taking photos of us disobeying said signs go to sleep. Guess what I was about to do in that photo? If you guessed proceed through that door uncautiously, you win!

Also, I took a screenshot on my iPhone when I checked in on Foursquare at the Mercedes dealership when I took my Smart car in for its service appointment because the tip at the bottom was just too hilarious:

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And with that, I am off to pack my bags for Portland and then play with my new Dragon Dictate2 some more before bed.  I love this vacation already!

  1. I’m the unofficial IT support person in my office, thanks to my mad computer skillz. Where “mad computer skillz” = I know how to use AutoFilter in Microsoft Excel and I know how to format things in Microsoft Word. []
  2. Believe it or not, Dragon Dictate just wrote “Dragon Dictate” as “Reagan Dictate.” FAIL! []

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Less Than A Month To Go!

Can you believe that it’s less than a month until the Longest Ever Game of Hockey in the History of Ever to Raise Money for Cystic Fibrosis?

As it stands, I am about halfway to my goal of raising $2,000 by the time the game starts on August 26th. And, hey, remember that time I said I’d find more ways to use the Tumblbeasts? Well, I thought of a way. A help-Beth-raise-money-for-a-really-good-cause kind of way!

Look at this sweet, innocent adorable Tumblbeast who wants nothing more than for you to donate to my fundraising efforts:

please-donate tumblbeasts

He knows that Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that has a profound effect on those who have it and their families. He also knows that great strides have been made in extending the life expectancy of those with CF thanks for research, but that more research (and thus, more money to do that research) is needed before we can see the day that “CF” stands for “Cure Found.”

And if that doesn’t work to get you to donate, I might have to unleash in the mean Tumblbeasts!

donate now or else tumblbeasts

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The Tumblbeasts Are Mine!

I freaking love The Oatmeal. It’s one of the first things I read in my Google Reader when I see there’s a new posting1. So when I saw on The Oatmeal’s recent posting saying that I could use The Oatmeal’s adorable Tumblbeasts on my very own blog I, of course, jumped at the chance! First up: my new 404 error page.

I expect I’ll find many more ways to use the Tumblbeasts in coming days.

tbservers

  1. Along with xkcd, Savage Chickens, and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal []

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(no title)

I’m too tired to blog anything of substance today (and I have Bootcamp tonight, so I don’t anticipate getting any less tired!), so here’s a picture of the adorable sticker that I put on my iPhone case:

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I know this is the kind of hard hitting news that you’ve come to expect here. You’re welcome.

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Student Loans – Update and a Plan

vipezz 153As you may have seen my complain about from time to time here on NTBTWK, I wracked up a crazy amount of student debt while going through school. $71,504 to be exact. Now, when you consider that I was in post-secondary education for 11 years, it’s not actually that much – a mere $6,500 per year on average1 or $5,500 per letter I get to put after my name. And, as you’ve also seen me talk about here from time to time, I’m paying off my student loans as aggressively as I can, while still trying to have some sort of balance in my life2. I’m making sacrifices – not doing nearly as much travel as I would like, and renting a place in Surrey, where it’s much cheaper than Vancouver – as I’m putting the money I’m not spending on those things towards my student loans instead. The sooner I get them paid off, the sooner I don’t have to make giant student loan payments every month. Short-term pain for long-term gain, right?

Well, I did some number crunching on the weekend and I think I have a plan in place that means that I can have my student loans paid off by the end of next summer! When I first started paying off my loans, the loans were set up such that it would take me 9.5 years to pay off. That was April 2007, which means I was scheduled to have them paid off by October 2016! A combination of falling interest rates and me putting extra money that I have made towards the loans sure looks like it’s paying off!

At the moment, I have $24,000 left to pay. I currently pay $1,400 per month, meaning that I’ll pay $16,800 in a year. This, of course, leaves $7,200, plus all the interest on my balance3, unaccounted for, if I wanted to have my student loans paid off in a year. Fortunately, I have a some contract work that I’m doing and I figure that I can put all of the after-tax amount I make onto my students loans. But even that isn’t quite enough, so I’ve decided to do something drastic.

Ages ago, I started saving for a trip for my 40th birthday. Every two weeks, ~$25 is automatically transferred into a separate account that I’ve been using to save up for this trip. The idea, of course, is that you don’t really even notice $25 missing and then all this money piles up. Well, I can verify that such a system works, as I really have mostly forgotten that that money was sitting there. Until, that is, I realized how close I was to being within a year of my student loan freedom date, and then, all of the sudden, I noticed this $2,700 sitting in my birthday trip account that looked like something that I could really put to better use. I mean, I’m still a good 5.5 years away from my 40th birthday – that’s plenty of time to save! So I made the executive decision that I will take that $2,700 and I will give it to the student loan peeps and I will be that much closer to having this student loan monkey off my back. And then we will party.

Image Credit: Posted by vipez on Flickr.

  1. And that’s pretty much tuition fees and books most years. Jobs and scholarships were added into the mix so I could do things like eat food and not be homeless. []
  2. Some money to student loans, some money for laser eye surgery. Some money to student loans, some money for braces. []
  3. Interest on my student loans is currently 5.5%, except for a small chunk that is 4.5% []

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Countdown to Vacation!

I am a mere five workdays away from my first true vacation in a year and a half! I say “true” vacation because, though I have had time off from work, my last two trips have been to Ontario1 and trips to Ontario are not restful for me. I mean, I have a great time seeing family and old friends, but there is so much pressure to run around and see everyone that I really don’t get to relax at all. So my last relaxing vacation was my trip to the Dominican in January 2010! That is just waaaay too long ago.

So, I have to say that I’m *very* much looking forward to my upcoming eight day sojourn to Portland, Oregon. As I mentioned before, my sister and her posse are flying to Portland and I shall be driving Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car to meet them. Our plans for Portland consist of doing whatever the hell we feel like, whenever the hell we feel like it. Portland is supposed to be a super awesome city, so I’m sure we won’t have much trouble finding fun things to do each day.

Driving across the border on a long weekend, however2, is going to suck donkey balls, but my plan is that I’ll leave super early on Saturday morning, which hopefully means the border lineup will only be half crazy instead of completely batshit, and I can always entertain myself in a long border lineup by doing some studying. Then I can take my time driving down the coast (Sarah‘s suggestion is that I check out Mount St. Helens on the way) and then putter around in Portland until Nancy et al arrives that evening.

But before then – five more workdays3. So I should really get to bed so that I can get up for work!

  1. December 2010 and June 2011 []
  2. Especially a long weekend where the Canadian dollar is so strong []
  3. And about 10 days worth of work that need to be done in those five workdays! []

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Car Detailing

Also, I recently detailed my car. OK, someone taught me how to detail my car. OK, actually, someone who loves cars detailed my car for me and I sort of watched. And here’s the thing about car “detailing” – it’s just another word for cleaning. I’m assuming that they had to invent a different word for it because a guy would never admit to enjoying cleaning. But really, it just means cleaning your car like you have OCD. I think from now on I’ll be calling it “detailing my apartment” instead of cleaning.

And here’s the other thing about car detailing: it actually makes a surprising difference to your car. We used the best of the best cleaning detailing products and they really did make the inside of my car shine. And smell good. And honestly, it makes it seem like your car is better after you are done detailing it. So now I think I’m kind of into detailing my car. Which is just awesome, because I barely have enough time in my week to do things like feed myself and ensure I have clean clothes to wear, so adding on another time sink into my life is a great idea.

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I Drive A Lot. And A Review of Fuelly.

I took my beloved Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car in for its 45,000 km service appointment this week, so I figured it was as good a time as any to write an update about my beloved car. Also, it gives me a chance to tell all y’all about the new fun website I’ve been using to track my gas usage (spoiler: it makes graphs!)

Ever since I got my car, I’ve been tracking my mileage. To do this, I’ve been using a handy dandy spreadsheet1. And because of this, I can easily tell you that in the 2 years and 2 months that I’ve owned my car, I have:

  • driven 45,609 km2 – that’s an average of 57 km per day!
  • used 2,839L of gas
  • spent $3,656 in gas and about $1,300 in other car maintenance-related expenses3

But I was recently introduced to Fuelly 4, a website that tracks your mileage for you… and gives you pretty graphs and infographics! Being a graph-loving nerd, I naturally had to try it out. Fortunately, Fuelly lets you import data so I could just import the data I’d been tracking on my handy dandy spreadsheet and viola – graphs!

fuelly 1

fuelly 2

fuelly 3

fuelly 4

Aren’t they pretty?

If you are interested in my ongoing tracking of Zaphod’s mileage – and who wouldn’t be, really? – you can “follow” me on Fuelly.

  1. Spreadsheets. Is there anything they can’t do? []
  2. For my American readers, that’s 28,340 miles []
  3. e.g., regular service appointments, deductible for replacement windshield, replacement of flat tire. []
  4. As per usu, I have no affiliation with Fuelly other than that I use their free service []