Thursday, November 30, 2017

This Past Tuesday in Seattle

Here is a cut and paste from this article.

SEATTLE -- If it seemed like it was dusk at lunchtime on Tuesday, you weren't that far off from being right. In fact, it was actually darker during the noon hour Tuesday in Seattle than it was during the peak of the solar eclipse on Aug. 21!

A thick cloud layer courtesy of an moderately-strong inbound cold front did a fantastic job of not only dumping a decent amount of rain in the city, but blocking out the sun.

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I am trying to keep it firmly locked in my head why we can not live there again; along with real estate prices, the taxes, and the traffic. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

More Hike From the Sarasota Trailhead

Sunday we hiked a loop counter clock-wise that we had done in March of this year.  In March we did it clock-wise.  It had been awhile, but we knew there was a turn off somewhere to make a loop.  It was also 90 degrees.  We walked, and walked and did not see a turn off.  Then we saw what we thought was our trail heading out into the hinterlands.  We flagged down a mountain biker and asked him if we were close to the turn off. 

We must have looked really old to this guy.  He told us that the trail would be steep and arduous and that the best thing for us would be to turn around and go back the way we came.  We were probably within five to 10 feet of the turn off, we just could not see it from where we were standing.  We were hot, I was concerned that we didn’t have enough water, so we turned around and retraced our steps.  We should have ignored the guy on the bike. 

So, I am going to document this hike some more, and maybe do a better job than last time, so we can remember it next year.

One leaves the trail head at the end of Sarasota and walks up the trail. Go past the map on the kiosk, that is the trail you want.  The trail will split and you will go left.  At this point there is nothing to do except follow the trail.  Eventually this rock formation will come into view.

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The trail continues on and goes down into a wash, and then comes back up.

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When you come up out of the wash, you’ll see what looks like a four way intersection.  There is actually a well defined section that has been ridden by many mountain bikes.  You don’t want that.  Make a sharp right and continue on keeping the wash, and that rock formation, on your right.  It doesn’t look like a trail, it looks like a drainage ditch, but that is where you want to be.

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The trail will eventually go back into the wash and then head left.  Here you can see the trail about to drop into the wash, over on the right is where you just came from.

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After the wash, there is nothing to do except stay on the trail.  It climbs up, and you can see this.  The notch between those two hills is where you’re heading.

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This is what confused us Sunday.  This is the Yetman trail, we could see it from where we were standing, and we knew we did not want to go in that direction.

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This is the turnoff to complete the loop.  The hill that one climbs is not arduous, it’s just a little steep.  If we had continued on, instead of turning around we would have seen this turn and would be been fine.

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Eventually the trail will come to this wide space at the base of the Cat Mountain trail.  Hang a right into the gravel filled wash, take the first right out, and continue back to the original split in the trail.

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So, there are now more instructions for this hike, half of which is not on the trail map at the trail head.

What is this?  It’s not poop.  When I poke at it with a pole, it’s soft and looses its shape easily. Poop generally has some structure to it.  There are no bones in it, so I don’t think it’s owl pellets.  Did you know you can buy owl pellets on Amazon?  They’re sterilized and sold as a teaching tool for kids to see what owls can make.  It appears to be compacted fur, but I’m at a loss as to which end of the animal it came out of.

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It was a good hike.  The temperature finally dropped so we were much more comfortable and not worried about sun stroke.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thank You

Thank you for all your comments and good wishes.  It meant a lot to me to hear from you. 

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Laurence Passes On

Laurence was my younger, and only, brother.  He died this morning in his sleep at the memory care unit where he had lived for some years.  It was a good death, he escaped before the final awful stages of death by Alzheimer’s. 

He was one of the smartest people I ever knew.  And he could be a total pain in the butt.  In 2006 he lived with us for awhile in Bellevue.  He arrived shortly before Jim broke his pelvis, and was a great help to us both. 

This was taken at the Paradise Lodge at Mount Rainier.  Laurence was always happiest when he was on a bicycle.

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Later we lived with him for awhile in South Carolina while we waited for the 5th wheel we’d bought to be delivered.  This was taken in an RV park somewhere in the south.  We were close to heading out and I wanted pictures of us for posterity.

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It took awhile, but eventually one picture turned out to not be too bad.

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In addition to being smart, and a talented IT guy, he was a really good photographer.  It’s unfortunate that I don’t have more of his photos.  This is one that he took at Xavier del Bac.  He was standing and aiming where Ansel Adams had once stood.

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He’s been gone from us for quite awhile, but now he’s really gone and we will miss him.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a good day.  It was a beautiful, albeit hot, day in the desert and we enjoyed it on the bikes.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Hike, House, Bike

Yesterday was a glorious day.  We drove up to the Tortolitas at Dove Mountain.  It’s always interesting how different the terrain is about 15 miles north of the Tucson Mountains.  I like the big round rocks at Dove Mountain, they don’t hurt as bad as the local pointy rocks.

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This is one of our favorite cacti.

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This guy has a lot going on.  It was a nice hike.  There is a lot of up and down and up and down.  I love that area.  If the Ritz Carlton would put in an RV park on their grounds, we’d be relocating rapidly to the north.

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Then we went an looked at a house.  We still can not articulate what problem would be solved with the purchase of a house, but this was worth checking out.  It’s interesting architecturally.

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However, this is the main selling point.  It’s a salt water pool, and it’s just lovely.  The land behind the house is a preserve and will never be developed.

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Isn’t this a great outdoor living space?  I could be very happy on the patio.  And yet, we hesitate.  It might have something to do with the giant barking dog next door.  One thing we’ve learned is that most residential swimming pools are not heated.  People who live here year round use them in the summer, and then not in the winter.  Unless we’re willing to commit to living here full time, the pool is kind of pointless.  I think we’re still climate refugees, not willing to suffer the extremes of summer and winter.  So, no exit plan for us at this time.

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Good news!  I was wrong.  The giant pit next to the bike trail is not the apartment pit.  That pit is one block over from the trail.  It’s the excavation for the new regional headquarters for Caterpillar.  The Rio Nuevo improvement Project and some other development agencies put in money to encourage them to relocate here.  It’s an economically depressed part of Tucson, so bringing in well paying jobs will be a good thing.  You can read about the project here and here.

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This was a landfill between 1920 and 1960.  They’re digging it up and taking in to a different landfill so that construction can begin.

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We had a pretty good sunset tonight.  Too bad I cut the top of the palm tree off.

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Other than this maties, I have nothing to report.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

El Tour de Tucson

Today was the Tour de Tucson, also known as The Day When You Can Not Drive Any Where Because Traffic is so Snarled.  It’s a ride around the perimeter of the city held every year. There are a lot of road closures in all parts of Tucson.  I felt bad for the people trapped in traffic.  It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, they need to go shopping and they’re in bicycle induced gridlock.  Unlike 2013, the weather was perfection.  It was in the mid-70s with light breezes.  Jim and I rode up the trail awhile.

This is new in Tucson.  It’s TuGo, a bike share program.  Unlike the bike shares in the Seattle area, bikes must be returned to a docking station.  Seattle lets you leave the bike anywhere you want.  People frequently abuse that policy by putting them in trees, or the middle of a sidewalk.  It will be interesting to see how well this works.  It’s $8 for a day pass, but you can only have the bike for thirty minutes at a time.  If you over run the thirty minute time frame, then it’s $4 for another thirty minutes. It seems sort of expensive to me, but I have zero knowledge of these systems.  The payment algorithm seems stupid as well.

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We stood on Congress for awhile watching the Tour go by.  A local man won this year with help from the P&S Group.  They are a really good team from Hermosillo.  Apparently the top two finishers this year had P&S riding tempo for them.  The two local guys and P&S swept the top six positions. 

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This is part of the course.  It runs across a wash.  The sand is very deep, people have to dismount and run until they get to the bottom of the hill on the far side.  If I were to ever do this ride, I would leave the course rather than do this.  The kid in the picture was on a mountain bike and he could not make it through.

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The cue for the turn.

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The course this year was different.  I will give the organizer credit for the fact that they changed the route so that no one would have to ride across the tracks of the Modern Street Car.  The tracks are deep and have caused a lot of falls since its inception.  Having groups of fast movers going across tracks would have resulted in injuries. 

We’re feeling much better about things now that it is not so dang hot!  It’s much nicer to do the bike or the hike when one’s flesh is not sizzling.

Friday, November 17, 2017

As Seen From the Cat Mountain Trail

There is nothing like an uphill trail to let you know what kind of shape you’re in.  Nevertheless, it was a spectacular walk in the desert.

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That’s it!  That’s all I’ve got.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Weather, Construction and Car Crashes

Yee hah!!!!!!!!!!  It is hot!  It’s still hitting 89 degrees in the afternoon.  We’re having to be up and out early for the biking.

The weather has been spectacular, other than the hot-ness.

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One of my favorite churches in Tucson.

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This is taken along the Santa Cruz Trail.  Yet another giant apartment building is going in.  We’re not happy about this many people locating within feet of the trail.  The UofA students in the high rise dorms have a distressing habit of dropping beer bottles on the mosque next door to them.  One hopes that there will be no balconies over looking the trail.

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This is going to be enormous.

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Here is Jim at the restrooms and ride turn around.  We started off riding the mountain bikes because they’re heavy (more work) and stable, but we’re going back to the road bikes.  Rolling resistance on those tires is just brutal.  Once again it’s going to be a long slog back to any level of fitness.

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This is why you don’t immediately enter an intersection after a light turns green in Tucson.  Since the state took the red light cameras down, red light running has just become rampant.  There are a lot of accidents due to people failing to yield right of way.  This was just outside of the RV park, on Mission Road.

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The SUV is a total loss.

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Notice that the air bag deployed. 

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Traffic was backed up forever.  It takes awhile for wreckers to arrive on scene in the city limits.  Generally, unless it’s a blocking accident or someone is hurt, police will not respond to crashes.  It’s on you, the motorist, to get enough photos to convince your insurance company that it wasn’t your fault.

Anyway, since the traffic was so horrible, Jim gave up on going out for a hair cut.  Since he was looking totally wolfy, I took a 4 blade to his head.  It doesn’t look all that bad.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Hot Water and an RV Show

Greetings from the desert where it is still running 10 degrees above normal.  We keep looking at the radar for the GPNW and are very happy we’re not there anymore.

The Hydro-Hot is fixed!  We are now free to shower as long and as hot as we want to.  This is the new aluminum casting for the burner.  It’s a nice piece of metal.  One wonders why the other one failed.

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Upper left are bearings and bushings that were toasted when the burner self destructed.  Lower right are electronics.  I can’t remember what that round thing is.

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Here we are, rebuilt and reassembled.  It went surprisingly quickly.  Most things like this seem like a really big deal to me, but to the professionals it’s not.

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There is a table in the RV park next to the dumpsters.  It’s supposed to be used to cut up large card board boxes.  Instead, the denizens of the park use it to display treasures they no longer want, but are too good to put in the dumpster.  I thought this was particularly special.  It’s some sort of liquor bottle with two shot glasses attached to it. 

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Today we went to an RV show out at the fairgrounds.  Is this not adorable?  It’s a Terry and it’s very retro and shiny.

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Inside, it’s a little spartan.  One of the things we’ve talked about as an exit would be to buy a house in Tucson.  I keep reminding us that we can not live in the GPNW over the winter.  Living in Tucson in the summer is also not so pleasant.  So we thought maybe we’ll get a travel trailer and haul it up to the GPNW for the summer.  This is not happening!  Build quality on travel trailers is so terrible, I can not believe how terrible quality control is.  We were in one and none of the interior doors would close.  How does that get off the line in the factory?  One hates to store a diesel pusher for months at a whack, but it may come to that.  We are now back to the drawing board.

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A sad thing happened last week.  There’s a business in Junction City that provided indoor storage for Class As and also sold Country Coaches.  He had some beautiful high line coaches for sale as well as in storage.  Many were from the mid to late 2000s when companies used real wood and made a quality product.  It burned.  One coach caught on fire and it spread and destroyed a lot of coaches and the building.  It caused about $8M damage.  We left our truck with them one May, the owner was just a lovely person.  Here is a report from the local news.  Here, also, is a you tube report.  It’s just a sad thing.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Hike, Dermatology, Madera Canyon

We’ve had some cloudy days, one night we had the almost full moon with some moody atmospherics.  I wish I had a camera that would do better with the night sky.

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Sunday we hiked.  We took a flattish route out to the Stone Hut.  Jim’s not quite as fast he was, but it’s to be expected, given how long he was beached.  Of course, I’m not either! 

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The Stone Hut.  It was a gorgeous day. It was just wonderful to be outside and warm.

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This morning we were up and out early for a dermatologist appointment for Jim.  He had another squamous removed.  The dermo dude here does the scrape and burn, which is a procedure we like better than excision, which tends to leave divots and scars.  Jim was also sprayed with a lot of liquid nitrogen for spots on his head.  There was one bump behind the ear that required extra attention.  As is always the case, he looks like he was attacked by a cheese grater.

Afterwards we drove out to Madera Canyon.  We were there in February of this year and it was very cold and windy.  Today was better.  It’s a gorgeous area.  Since it was a spur of the moment trip, we didn’t have boots or packs, so we didn’t walk very far.

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There are a lot of sycamore trees in the area.  I like the bark.

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Look at the size of the boulders in the creek.  This must be something to see during monsoon.

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Look dead center.  That is a giant turkey.  Unfortunately she proceeded to jump off that wall, so I couldn’t get a photo of her head.

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Have you been reading about what’s in the Paradise Papers?  Fourteen some odd terabytes of documents about off shore banking have been leaked and shared with journalists.  The papers detail the shady underworld of who is hiding money off shore and not paying taxes.  It’s pretty shocking how much money is hidden.  New York Times did an article whose focus is Apple and their efforts to not pay taxes in the US.

The documents reveal how big law firms help clients weave their way through the gaps between different countries’ tax rules. Appleby clients have transferred trademarks, patent rights and other valuable assets into offshore shell companies, avoiding billions of dollars in taxes. The rights to Nike’s Swoosh trademark, Uber’s taxi-hailing app, Allergan’s Botox patents and Facebook’s social media technology have all resided in shell companies that listed as their headquarters Appleby offices in Bermuda and Grand Cayman, the records show.

“U.S. multinational firms are the global grandmasters of tax avoidance schemes that deplete not just U.S. tax collection but the tax collection of most every large economy in the world,” said Edward D. Kleinbard, a former corporate tax adviser to such companies who is now a law professor at the University of Southern California.

Indeed, tax strategies like the ones used by Apple — as well as Amazon, Google, Starbucks and others — cost governments around the world as much as $240 billion a year in lost revenue, according to a 2015 estimate by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The disclosures come on the heels of last week’s proposals by Republican lawmakers to provide several new tax benefits for multinational companies, including cutting the federal corporate income tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. President Trump has said that American businesses are getting a bad deal under current rules.

But the documents show how major American companies find creative ways to avoid paying anything close to 35 percent.

The last paragraph I cut and pasted from the article (with full attribution) is particularly annoying.  The proposed tax plan will shower the uber rich and tax avoiding corporations with tax benefits.  To pay for them, the plan takes away deductions for mortgage interest, medical expenses, state income tax, school supplies bought by teachers for their class rooms and moving relocation fees.  That’s not a complete list, but these are things that hurt real people.  I think the one percenters are doing well enough, thank you.  There is a good thread on Twitter written by Senator Casey that talks about this.  INHO it’s a really mean spirited bill.

Tomorrow we are off to the Social Security Office.  After waiting on hold for 57 minutes I was able to talk to a human and confirm that I do have an appointment with them.  With any luck I will leave there with a myssa account.