Thursday, December 29, 2011

asian grocery (s)hopping

I just went to four Asian groceries to do some comparison shopping. I had purged my apartment of food prior to the winter holidays and now it was time to restock. No better time to do a grand run of a few of the groceries in the International District! Granted, after hitting four stored, I was getting bored and I had to pee so I left. The four that I went to were:

Note, I'm basing my judgement on a few things: staples (egg noodles, instant noodles, oyster sauce, produce (freshness, packaging, price), and a dash of meat. I also needed to buy a few random things like chopsticks, spoons, and tea cups. Amazingly, I only found spoons and am still searching for good tea cups and chopsticks (more on this below).

Lam's Seafood (King St east of 12th)
This place is like a wannabe Uwajimaya. It's pretty well organized and has a lot of variety. The people who work there speak mainly (as in almost exclusively) Mandarin and the product selection reflects that a bit. What I mean is that they don't have as many egg noodles to choose from. )-: But, they do have super fresh looking produce (I suspect it may be trick lighting) and great prices. They're among the cheapest for produce, which combined with freshness is a win.

Surprisingly, despite the abundance of checkout counters, the checkout process is a bit of a cluster. The whole store is also a bit crowded, especially in by the refrigerated sections. Still, the place has a good combination of great produce at great prices. They also had the cheapest sauces around, with the fancy oyster sauce being about $4 (compared to $4.80 at the other ID places and probably $7? at Uwajimaya?). Given my goal of finding a place to "drop by" on my way home from work, I think this may be the place. I just wish they spoke Cantonese.
  • Why go there? Great produce section at great prices. They also have a decent seafood section with crab, lobster, oysters, etc at pretty good prices. Cheaper than going out and catching them yourself, although less fun I'm sure.
  • What not to get there? They basically just speak Mandarin and they don't have the noodles I like.
Hop Than Super Market - 12th and Jackson (SW)
Less people at this one than the other markets, but despite that, they had fairly fresh looking produce, and at reasonable prices. Oranges for about 80c a pound here (less than half of Uwajimaya's price).
  • Why go there? Cheap! Not Hau Hau (好好) cheap, but comparable and they had pretty decent produce. Not the cheapest or freshest, but decent all around. They also pack their veggies in slightly smaller bundles than Hau Hau (好好). The store is also organized and not crowded, which is a definite plus. And they speak Cantonese!
  • What not to get there? IIt's on the wrong side of the street. I guess that isn't really a problem.

Hau Hau (好好) - 12th and King (NE)
This is the massive one that's hard to miss up on top of the hill that had more stuff outside than inside. My parents went here and had positive comments, and I've been meaning to go.

Pricewise, this place was the best. They also had a large assortment of egg noodles for about $1 each (less than half of what Uwajimaya charges, and 15% less than most other places in the ID). They also had by far the cheapest veggies. Baby bok choy for 50c a pound compared to Uwajimaya WTF $2 a pound. The downside is that the veggies looked like crap and were packaged to feed a family of four for several days. In other words, not for me.

The other downside of this place is that the store isn't organized at all. The same products show up in multiple places and none of it makes sense.

  • Why go there? Cheap! Great for noodles and other non-perishable staples that are common. Oddly, not the cheapest for sauce (oyster, soy, etc.). And they speak Cantonese!
  • What not to get there? Anything perishable. Anything that's not high volume, they may not have (like thousand year old egg).

Uwajimaya - Bellevue
Ah.... finally... the flagship Asian grocer. I went here first, typed this first, but putting it at the end since it's a rant.

A few words to describe Uwajimaya... fancy, clean, touristy, Japanese, not Chinese.

Touristy is the new word from this visit. I was looking for the kitchen wares listed above and was able to find the steamer and spoons here as expected, but I was miraculously unsuccessful finding "good" chopsticks or tea cups. All the chopsticks they carried were Japanese style (as in pointy and mostly metal). I wanted some Chinese bamboo/wood ones. They only had one set that wasn't metal and it was some toxic yellow that I didn't want to buy. As for the tea cups, note that I am looking for some "old man" tea cups that no one uses nowadays. I expected them to not have them at all, but instead they had some that looked like them but were functionally all fucked up. This is how they earned the tourist tag - by selling products that don't/shouldn't appeal to real Asians.

To close, Uwajimaya, as expected, continued being overpriced (but being Bellevue, it was priced like a mainstream American grocery... 79c for green onions, over $2 for overpackaged egg noodles, $1.79 for apples and around that for oranges) and lacking in selection for certain staples like egg noodles and tea. Or maybe I'm an old man in wanting loose leaf tea that isn't generic "green tea." Oh... the new location is a total pain in the ass to get in and out of... even worse than when it was at Crossroads.... and somehow the store is less spacious with aisles that aren't quite wide enough for passing carts (or a single cart in the produce section).

  • Why go there? They have a great selection of fancy snacks (like soup rice balls with black sesame) and great meat. And their ID location sucks much less than the Bellevue location in terms of convenience and price (on produce.... I think). They also have a good selection of kitchen stuff. They speak English.
  • What not to buy there? Tea, noodles, and basically anything that isn't perishable that you can buy somewhere else. Other places have better selection and better prices.

Monday, November 07, 2011

most used airports

Why? Because I know no one cares. To be clear, these numbers are for the end of 2011 and include travel that hasn't happened yet. Why do I tell you this? Because I know you don't care.
  1. Seattle - 87 trips
  2. Cleveland - 58 trips
  3. NYC JFK - 33 trips
  4. Chicago ORD - 22 trips
  5. Hong Kong (Lantau Island) - 16 trips
  6. Los Angeles LAX - 9
Another detail for those who cared to notice (meaning, none of you). There's an odd number of trips to/from Seattle. That's from the one time that I had a connection here on my way home from Japan.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

this sandwich tastes like death

Feedback to Microsoft Dining Services:


I ordered the special ex-Yugoslavian sandwich (in café 86) figuring it would be good to try something new. I like it when there are new things at the cafeteria, but this time it was a big mistake. The sandwich is dripping in grease – both from the cheese as well as the seemingly deep fried super salty sausage. The sausage would be fine in moderation, but there is a generous portion of it. Sorry about rambling. Here’s a more orderly list of feedback.

The good:

  • Variety! I like the introduction of new items
  • Generous portion of meat/sausage
  • Onions were nice and fresh and tasty
  • It’s super filling. I walked in hungry since I skipped lunch this morning. I ate half of this sandwich and I’m full.

The bad

  • Sausage was too salty and greasy… and I love salt. It’s right below the threshold of what I can tolerate. But given the generous portion of sausage, it’s too much. I decided I needed a break from the sandwich so I can process the salt and grease. I’m using that break to write this email. This email is getting long because I am still recovering and my taste buds aren’t quite ready for more.
  • Overall grease level is super high – the cheese melts into more grease. See attached photos. The grease has soaked through the pita, soaked through the paper tray, and soaked through a bunch of napkins. I can feel it soaking through my fingers and back out through my pores while clogging my arteries and stopping my heart along the way. After writing this, maybe I shouldn’t finish this. I don’t want to die sitting here.
  • Visual appeal – lacks color. Brown sausage, pita, and white cheese and onions isn’t very visually stimulating. Some tomatoes or greens would make it seem more appetizing, although I don’t know if that’s straying too far from the ex-Yugoslavian recipe. For better or worse, the grease makes it glisten.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

fantasy football

I was going to write about how awesome my Fantasy Football draft was halfway through the season, but after taking a look again, it wasn't all that great. After all, the only players still on the team are my picks from rounds 1, 2, 4, 6, and 9. That's 5 players our of 14 picked and only three of them (Vick, Johnson, and Pittsburgh) regularly start.

Thankfully, picking up Calvin Johnson in the 2nd round helps to cover up a lot of mistakes. Calvin Johnson has +23 points over the next highest scoring WR/TE and about double (or more) the production of all but the top 10 receivers. Calvin Johnson is like having an two or three WRs filling a single roster slot. Thank you.

I also did a good job with pickups throughout the season.
  • Antonio Brown is ranked 14th in points scored among WR/TE
  • Rob Gronkowski is ranked 10th in points scored among WR/TE
  • Darren Sproles is ranked 6th in points scored among RB
  • Dan Bailey is ranked 4th in points scored by K
Right now I'm 5-3 with hopefully some better luck the rest of the season. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 28, 2011

customer feedback - gloves

I just shot this email off to Gordini. Too bad my dad destroyed the awesome pair I had from the 1990's.


I purchased a set of Gordini Gore II gloves a few years ago and I've been having a recurring problem with them. I've only used these gloves about 10-15 times. The stitching on the fingers comes apart very easily.

This first happened on the ring finger after using the gloves about 3 times. I repaired it myself and that finger has been problem free.
This happened again after a few more uses on the ring finger on the other glove. Again, I repaired it myself and it has been problem free.
Now this happened yet again on the little finger.

If I didn't have a fantastic experience with my last set of Gordini gloves (which had a similar design sans Gore-Tex and lasted well beyond fashion), I probably would have been immediately upset and returned the gloves right away. However, I had faith that the gloves weren't poorly made. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I tried returning the gloves to REI today, but apparently that wasn't where I bought them because it wasn't in their system. They suggested that I contact you directly, so here I am.

I am primarily writing to give you some late feedback about the build quality of these gloves. It's terrible. Hopefully you've fixed this. On the other hand, the gloves were very waterproof and have kept my hands warm despite the bad stitching. Keep that up! I'm not sure what I'll get for my next set of gloves. I get constant recommendations from friends.

I for years used to be the one raving about how awesome my Gordini gloves were, but sadly for the past year most of my glove interactions have been people offering to help my mend my gloves while at Mt. Baker, Whistler or some other group outing. I suppose in a way it fits my personality, but it's probably not the brand image you want to portray.

For your reference:
RN# 56385
CA# 00281

Saturday, October 15, 2011

glove shopping at rei

A couple fellows at REI today were annoying. I'm not sure if it's totally justified - mostly because I know that I was already annoyed because they were talking about things that reminded me of people I went to undergrad with. That doesn't make them bad people or generally annoying - just annoying to me.

The set things off though. They didn't move out the way when I was browsing gloves right by where they were standing. They weren't completely in my way. If they were I would have asked them to move. They were just in the way enough that any normal person would have seen they were in the way and would have moved. After all, they weren't looking at gloves at that moment anyway.

Eventually, they did start looking at gloves. One of them made a comment about Pearl Izumi gloves. Pearl Izumi is "my brand," but their gloves are honestly a little sketchy. I was curious what he had to say since I myself was looking for new gloves. He said something to the effect of "it's a Japanese company and because of that all their gloves are really small." This makes sense, but is factually wrong on every level. First, Pearl Izumi is an American company (based on Colorado that got the branding rights for the US market from the Japanese company... like the reverse of what happened with 7-Eleven). Secondly, of all the gloves on the rack, Pearl Izumis run the largest. I have big hands (obviously, because I'm Asian and we have big hands) and Pearl Izumi is the only brand where I can fit into a Medium. By comparison, with Gore, an All-American company, I can't even fit my hands in their XL sizes (a big fail on their part).

They are ignorant racists
I am easily and justifiably annoyed by people who remind me of people from undergrad

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


We've had an odd relationship for a little under 5 years. Funny how never once did I think I was going to stay with you long term. I always knew that you didn't really want me. It only surprised me how long it took for you to finally push me away.

Sure, there were some nice benefits. Your Canadian connection and your good relationship with many of my friends made it easy for me to justify those five years, but that in itself isn't enough for me to be with you any longer. I knew that at some point you would either reject me or take advantage of me. I'm not surprised that you chose the latter. I always knew you were a gold-digging .

I think the letter by post that you sent me was a nice gesture. Very business-like... then again you always were. Thankfully, I was never emotionally invested in our relationship, so I was not upset when I discovered it in my mailbox after returning from a week traveling. I simply read it and decided that it was time to move on. I'm doing alright and I'm sure I wouldn't have a hard time finding someone else. Don't worry about me.

What did surprise me is how much you were asking for in your ultimatum. (Yes, it was basically an ultimatum.) You technically left the door open for things to continue, but your demands were a bit much. Some demands are within reason - especially considering your reputation - but what you were asking for was absurd.

I had a chat with my barista this morning about the whole thing. Somehow the whole thing came up because I didn't have enough cash in my wallet. Anyway... he thought me leaving you was long overdue - especially in light of some of your other antics which I wasn't even aware of. I guess you've overextended yourself or made some bad investments, because apparently you're asking everyone for money.

Sure, we've known each other for a few years, but I don't think that justifies making us all responsible for your mistakes. I'm sorry you screwed up, but please don't come out of nowhere to ask me and everyone for some absurdly high contribution to your personal bailout fund. A bailout stemming from your attempt to screw us in the first place, I might add. If things get desperate, file for bankruptcy or find some sugar daddy like Warren Buffett (which I've heard you've already done). As for us - it's over.

Bank of America, good luck, and have a nice life.


Friday, August 26, 2011

land owner

I just realised that I own 0.002% of the town of Port Gamble. You should visit. It's nice.

I guess I also indirectly own 2.25 acres of land here in the PNW.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

surly sight unseen

I just committed to buying a bike without seeing it. I think I'll be OK. I'm writing this post to justify all this nonsense.
  • Frame - $450 new, $200-$450 used
    It's the frame I want in the size I want. If it doesn't fit, I'm pretty sure Lee would be able to use it. No risk! Yay!
  • Ultegra Shifters - $350 new, $150 used
    I want a double on the front with 9 speeds in the back. If it's a 10 speed then I'll have to downgrade, but it would also mean that they're worth $50-$150 more. Plus, I may be able to sell them to Angela who's looking to turn her double into a triple... maybe. Slight risk, but not too terrible.
  • XT derailleurs - $200 new, $60 used?
    I'm pretty sure I can use these. There's a small chance I can't. I'll try my odds.
  • Wheels
    I'll probably be swapping out my wheels anyway. Given the high end components elsewhere, I might get lucky and get some nice wheels. I already have the replacement wheels on my other bike. (-:
  • Hutchinson Tour de France Tires - $90 new, who buys 6 year old tires?
    These tires are getting replaced. I am finicky about my tires after various flats around town. I'll be replacing them with some fancy Vittoria Randonneur Hypers! Stupid name, but they are nice slick fat tires.
  • Avid Canti Brakes - $80 new
    These are the brakes I want. Actually, they are nicer than the brakes that I want!
  • Extra brake levers - $80 new
    I may not need these. They're a nice bonus.
All in all, it may not be perfect, but at $525 (no tax!) it's a great deal. I was planning on having to pop about $200 in parts and I think it'll land somewhere in that neighborhood. I just hope I like the color.

I know no one cares about anything that I just wrote. Here are some pictures while they last:


For those who fear that I'll get destroyed in some cycling accident, here's an alternative scenario to consider.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

bike to do list

If I'm seeking novelty, I've still got some work to do. Unlike running where I repeat the same streets after a year or two, with a 50-100 mile range, I have some pretty diverse options. (-:

  • Bike to/from work
  • Bike to the beach (Discovery Park)
  • Bike to a hike (Discovery Park)
  • Bike camping (Lopez Island)
  • Take a ferry (to the San Juans)
  • Bike to a gas station (Chevron at NE 65th St and 35th Ave NE)
  • Bike to Vancouver
  • Bike across the border (Canada)
  • Bike to the duty free store
  • Carry some beer across town to a party
  • Carry some dim sum across town for a party
  • Bike to dim sum
  • Bike through an airport (Renton)
  • Bike to catch a flight (Seatac to JFK)
  • Bike to Sears (Overlake)
  • Bike on a highway (Barnet Hwy in Burnaby, BC)
  • Bike across a floating bridge (SR520)
  • Bike across an extradosed bridge (Golden Ear Bridge)
  • Bike 116 miles in a day (RSVP Day 1)
  • Bike the North Interurban Trail
  • Bike the South Interurban Trail
  • Bike all of the Burke Gilman Trail
  • Bike the Sammamish River Trail
  • Bike around Lake Sammamish
  • Bike through Duvall and Carnation
To do:
  • Bike to a "real" hike
  • Bike to an auto parts store
  • Bike to Target
  • Bike to dump off antifreeze at the hazardous waste site
  • Bike while carrying all my ski gear
  • Bike to go skiing???
  • Bike to Fu Man Dumpling House
  • Get some fried chicken on the way home from work
  • Cedar River Trail
  • Green River Trail
  • Sound to Mountains trail
  • Bike to Mount Si
  • Bike to hike Mount Si
  • Bike to hike Mount Pilchuck (or something else along that highway)
  • Bike across a suspension bridge
  • Bike across the Lions Gate Bridge (I guess I should have done this last weekend)
  • Go over 50mph
  • Bike to West Seattle
  • Bike the western side of the Puget Sound (RAPsody?)
  • Do the Chilly Hilly
  • Bike across the Cascades

Thursday, August 04, 2011

cost cutting hulu plus

I get most of my TV through hulu. Usually I don't get hulu plus, but I do enjoy some of the benefits, such as the archive of old shows and the ability to stream to my XBox and iPad. So how do I get hulu plus without paying for it?
  • IE9 - If you run IE9 and pin hulu to your taskbar in Windows 7, you get a free month
  • Facebook - If you "like" hulu on Facebook, you get a free month
  • Bing - I'm about to get three months of hulu plus by redeeming rewards from using Bing
  • Cheating - Sometimes I'll put my hulu plus subscription on hold. This way my free month could become 3 free months. I can put it on hold for 12 weeks at a time and take it off hold whenever I want.
So how much would I save? Next to nothing... or $8 a month, depending on how you look at it.

Monday, August 01, 2011

saving electricity

My parents do this thing where they always unplug things and/or switch them off to save electricity. I know that some electronics are really bad about this, but I never knew whether my electronics were "good" or "bad."

I decided to find out for sure. I just got a "Kill A Watt" power meter. It costed me $19.77 after shipping and handling. Compared to my parents (and most of my friends) electricity is cheap. 4.61 cents per kWh including delivery. That ridiculously cheap - probably the cheapest 95% in the country and the cheapest 1% in the world. Still, I like data. (-:

Since getting home I've been testing all sorts of things. Mostly I've been testing various AC adapters and chargers for things like phones and such. I was happy to find that the chargers for the iPad/iPhone, Samsung Focus Windows Phone, and my Lenovo Thinkpad all drew zero current when they were idle. The older Energizer battery charger that I've been using drew 0.3W, and I've replaced it with the newer model that I had laying around which draws zero.

On to computers....
  • My desktop computer (and peripherals) drew 18W when idle, and anywhere from 200-250W while in use. That computer will be shut down at the source - just like my parents. 432Wh saved per day, or about 10% of my power consumption.
  • My laptop computer draws 55-95W when charging and running. About 20W less when at full charge. The screen brightness has an impact of 9W. This is all a lot more than I had expected.
On to the entertainment system.
  • My HTPC draws 60-100W when running, but 0W when it's off. It used to draw 70W, but I changed some BIOS settings and now it idles at 10W less than before.
  • The PS2 was drawing about 3W. It's now unplugged since I haven't used it in a very very long time.
  • The XBox 360 draws about 3W when off, a steady 150W when running. 115W when it's "off" but downloading content. Lame. )-:
  • The iHome cheapo clock radio draws 6W when idling and 8W when powered on. WTF?
  • None of this is much compared to the 300W that the TV draws. Ouch. Thankfully it draws nothing when it's turned off. This is motivation for me to turn the TV off and use the other monitor in the kitchen.That'll save me a penny an hour. Ooooooh....
On appliances - the only appliance I really have is my fridge. It draws 93-120W when running. As for the microwave (which I never use), does it matter?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

burke gilman detour

The usual "long way" or scenic route home would be to take the Burke Gilman trail north around Lake Washington. This summer it's closed for construction, so I had to find another way. Today was my first attempt.

It started out well. The wind was to my back and I was cruising. Usually I would be cruising at 14-16mph, but today with the help of the wind I was doing 17-19mph. Good times. I even picked up a drafter. Somewhere by Woodinville the guy who was following me thanked me for the fast pace. He hadn't biked that fast before. I think what he said was something like "I wanted to thank you for keeping up the fast pace. I've never gone this fast before." I was feeling pretty good about things.

It would be all downhill from there (not literally). Whereas the normal north route would be flat till Capitol Hill, the detour that I was taking took me up another 500' hill at mile 16. After cresting that plateau, my left calf cramped up. Not cool. I could have stopped, but I just drank some liquids and kept going. At some point my right calf cramped up too and I was biking along in some really weird looking position. Not pretty, but it still worked. Good thing I didn't adjust my seat up. If I did my weird stance may not have worked. I still managed to maintain speed and passed some guy while I was totally cramped up (the slight downhill helped, I'm sure).

The middle section of the northern Interurban Trail kinda sucks. It's along Fremont Ave, but in that part of town, Fremont is a side street. That means lots of parked cars, little traffic circles, and cars rushing through the traffic circles. Not particularly safe. I need to find an alternate route next time. It was also in this section that my adductors cramped up. That has never happened before and it just felt bizarre. I didn't even think I used those muscles when cycling. Apparently I do, although I'm not sure for what. I was still passing people.

Thankfully, most of this section is downhill... all 10 miles of it. It was a nice break, despite the random cramping. When I finally descended down to Lake Union on Stone Way, I was going about 33mph. I probably should have stopped pedaling because after I started back up the Burke Gilman I think my butt cramped. Really bizarre. At this point though, anything like that seemed minor. My calves were cramping here and there and I didn't want to cramp up my adductors again. The important thing was that my quads were still working. That, and I was still passing people. Since the cramps at mile 17 after cresting that plateau, not a single cyclist passed me.

Of course, from this point on, everything is uphill. Capitol Hill. The unpleasant side. There's three parts to the climb. They all suck. The first section is on Harvard Ave coming up from Eastlake to Roanoke. I only got a mild cramp, and passed some lady while I was at it. Getting a cramp that early wasn't a good sign, but I managed to get up the second section up 10th Ave OK too... meaning I made it up. I passed yet another dude after that too. Of course the final section had to be the steepest section... going from 10th Ave E up to my place on 13th Ave E. It's about 100' in elevation gain with maybe 30' in the last block. It's not that bad for me usually, but usually I'm not cramping up after 30 miles and 1000' of climbing. The last section was the worst. My calves were already cramped up, and I had to go up a block that people go sledding on in the winter. WTF. Oh. And there were people watching. I think my whole leg cramped up almost immediately. Somehow I managed to keep them moving and actually make it up the hill as if my legs functioned. It was pretty amazing. It's good knowing that I can pull that off, but just to be clear, my legs were not at all happy with me.

The moment I got to the top of the hill and got off my bike, my legs just literally wanted to shrivel up. Anything aside from a squat hurt like hell. If I try to stretch my right quads, my left quads would cramp up horribly. I tried to stretch my right calf, my right quad and whole left leg wanted no part of it (and were very vocal about that too). But, I made it. It sucked. It was a really scenic and pleasant route, but it took forever and it hurt like hell. I'll try it again someday I think. It would be good training. But first things first - I had to carry the bike up the steps to get into my apartment. Ouch.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New camera lens

I just blew $607 on a replacement lens for my camera. Granted, the last one was bought in March 2005 for $257. It lasted 6 years @ $43/year. I suppose I am saving $30 off list price and another $60 on sales tax. It also will use the 62mm filters that I already have from the lens that broke, saving me another $80 or so. Still pricey, though.

I am keeping the camera body - a Digital Rebel XT. Apparently it's still comparable to the camera that I would buy today. $900 well spent back in 2005? How does this compare to constant replacement of point and shoot cameras?

Cameras: 900+224 = $1124
Memory cards: 176+236+7 = $419
Lenses: $257-$70+???
Total: $1730

$288 a year... I guess that's comparable to what I did prior which was blow about that much a year on a new point and shoot... and the only thing that is broken is the $257 item...
2005 - $270 on a PowerShot SD200
2004 - $246 on a PowerShot A75
2003 - $270 on a Powershot S230 (I think this was a gift)

Monday, May 16, 2011

apple survey

Question: What one thing would you most like to see Apple improve upon, and why?

iTunes. It's slow, the update process is terrible, it's huge, it erases content from my iPhones a ton, works terribly with multiple iOS devices, works terribly with multiple computers, installs crapware like Safari and Bonjour, causes problems when syncing libraries across devices. I mean, it's just an awful awful piece of shit... er.... software.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

day 13 - end of days

We took our third overnight bus of the trip last night to return to
Istanbul. Let's just say that some overnight buses are ok while others
aren't after a good experience with Metro between Pamukkale and
Göreme, we had a terrible experience with them coming back to Istanbul.

So far I've been a bit disappointed with the Lonely Planet for this
trip. They were pretty inaccurate for accomodations in Göreme as well
as very incomplete/inaccurate with top sights, tours, food, etc. What
gives? The book is only two months old!

My take on Instanbul would include the following: best area to get
food is behind the New Mosque by the post office. The Grand Bazaar is
an overrated tourist trap. It lacks any authenticity anymore
(especially compared to the 15 year old LP we came across) and is way
overpriced. The merchants there aren't even willing to bargain to a
10% markup over normal prices outside the Bazaar on things like
magnets. Obviously we got our magnets somewhere else since no one
seemed interested in doing business at fair tourist prices.

Other random thoughts:
Favorite mosque is the Little Aya Sofya
Favorite site: The aquaduct and around, or the Bosphorus
Least favorite site: the Genoan Tower

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

day 12 - çay çay çay!

Spending the day writing postcards while drinking 45 Kr (30 cent) çay
with a bunch of old men. It's been a good trip. I'll have plenty of
retroactive blogging to do.

I just finished writing my 15 postcards. 5 to the DC area, 5 to the
Cleveland area, 3 to the northeast, and 2 to the great state of Texas.
There would have been more to Seattle, but I miscounted addresses by
forgetting to include the names of work friends from Progressive who
get postcards. Sorry. I'll get you other things!

Overall, Turkey has been great. Lots to see, friendly people, and
generally reasonable prices. Things may be different in peak season
though, so I'm glad I'm here in May and not June. I'll hear from the
parents what that's like, but I imagine a lot of sights may be
overcrowded and the locals may be lost in the sea of tourists, which
would be a damn shame, especially in Pumakkale, Marmaris, and Göreme.

Other brief descriptors:
Great roads
Çay çay çay!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

day 5 - rodos

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

day 4 - selçuk and efes(us)

Took an overnight bus from Istanbul to Selçuk, the town by Ephesus.
The bus ride kinda sucked. I'm pretty convinced by this point that
these fancy Mercedes buses have inadequate a/c. On the upside, we
got to take a ferry, plus we got to Selçuk a little past 6am and we
got to Efes about a half hour before it opened.

We started off at the lower entrance, where the tour buses pick people
up, so we were going in reverse of the typical order. The early
arrival and the reverse order meant that we had the entire place to
ourselves for the first half hour. It was pretty awesome running
around the coliseum like idiots. Since most of the most impressive
sights were down towards we were, we definitely made it out ahead.

After walking 3km back to Selçuk, which the LP wrongly advises
against, we got a super tasty lunch way behind the bus station. Great
food at 1/4 the price of the LP recommended places. Yummy.

After, we hopped on another bus to Aydin where we connected to a bus
to Marmaris.

Now, I am on a boat right now to Rodos. I am kinda waiting to see if
anyone is going to throw up. (-:

Monday, May 02, 2011

day 3 - istanbul

A park without benches is like a living room with no couch.

Monday, March 14, 2011


The blog is back. I am *assuming* there is no more stalking action going on. Yes, I am talking about you, Alison Grande.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

ridiculous "security"

Some of this I find personally annoying. Some of this is just plain stupid. I am speaking of the password security requirements for WSDOT's GoodToGo! electronic toll pass.

Password - 10 characters/numbers, at least one upper case character, one lower case character and one number. Password cannot contain spaces or special character.
  • OK. This isn't terrible. It's just personally annoying because my passwords are generally, but not always!) 8 characters long. Enabling special characters makes the passwords stronger, but also theoretically puts a greater burden to the developer to make sure the characters aren't special in a bad way.
Security Questions - must not contain special characters and must be at least 6 characters long and maximum of 16 characters long.
  • What is your sister's middle name (no sister)
  • What is the name of your first pet? (4 characters)
  • In what city were you born (7 characters... phew)
  • What street did you grow up on (has a space, I hope that's OK)
  • What was the make of your first car? (5 characters - about half of cars have makes less than 6 characters long)
  • What was the name of your (first) elementary school? (6 characters, woo!)
  • What is your brother's middle name? (has a special character)
This would be fine if they had security questions that worked well with these requirements. Unfortunately my options are limited. I get to use the city I was born in (which generally brings up confusion as to whether to include the state), the street I grew up on (where there's two options, and my the name of my first elementary school (which I barely remember). Great. Thanks, jerks.

Car makes under 6 characters (FAIL):
  • Acura
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Buick
  • Chevy
  • Dodge
  • Fiat
  • Ford
  • GMC
  • Honda
  • Jeep
  • Kia
  • Lexus
  • Lotus
  • Mazda
  • Mini
  • Saab
  • Scion
  • smart
  • Tesla
  • Volvo
Cars with makes 6 characters or longer:
  • Aston Martin
  • Bentley
  • Bugatti
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Ferrari
  • Hyundai
  • Infinity
  • Jaguar
  • Lamborghini
  • Land Rover
  • Lincoln
  • Maserati
  • Mayback
  • McLaren
  • Mercedes
  • Mercury
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Porsche
  • Rolls-Royce
  • Spyker
  • Subaru
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen

Friday, January 07, 2011


Greg: I don't know when you're planning on replacing this car...

Paul: When it's gone.

Glass Guy 2 (as he's working on the rear quarter glass of a red VW Beetle):
Whatever you do, don't get one of these!

Paul: I know. The glass falls down. I don't know a single VW owner who
hasn't had that problem. Good business for you, right?

Greg: Yeah. They really do a bad job with those.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

what is this saying about microsoft?