Gypped

It’s not often I get annoyed by a box of graham crackers.

But seriously, when I open a new box and find that the top inch of the box is empty space, and there’s around half an inch of gap on the sides as well, it’s annoying. They could easily have fit another 2-3 crackers horizontally, and just shortened the box to the height of the bags inside it. What’s with all the tomfoolery here?

Trivial friends

Pepper and I headed up to Flathead Brewing Co, which is a local brewpub that hosts a trivia night every Wednesday evening. We knew the food was good (we’ve been there before) and we were looking for something social.

When we walked in, we met a small group of friends who invited us to join their team. Although we did horribly (the categories were things like “presidential nicknames” and “birthstones”), we had a good time chatting with our new friends. We stayed well after the game was over, talking about the area, our lives, our kids, and so on. It was a ton of fun.

At the close of the evening we bid farewell to Ashley, Cheryl, and Adam… hopefully we’ll go back some future Wednesday and team up with them again!

Nerds

Out of the blue, I just got a text from Bech:

So of course I pulled out a piece of scratch paper and did some math. I sent the answer back, and we agreed it was right (he doesn’t actually know the correct answer, so he had done the math as well).

Then Pepper walked into the room and asked why I was doing math on a piece of scratch paper. I showed her the text. She just shook her head and said, “You guys are such nerds.”

Our own street!

All along Highway 35, people have fake road signs posted by their driveways. I think it’s mainly because on the east side, driveways simply meander up into the forest without any clear markings, making it difficult to find houses as you’re flying past at 50mph. Our postman, George, told us that many years ago, the Postal Service allowed some of the people to change their fake streets into real “addressable” roads. For example, our friends the Zavalas were able to create Zavala Lane, and you can find it on Google Maps and write a letter to that address.

Although we can’t have an official USPS street in our name, we needed a way to help people find our house. After deciding against the Easter Island head idea, we opted for a fake road sign. Today we put it up!

Now we won’t have to navigate using the red van (which is no longer there) or even the mailbox with a lawnmower. We can just tell people to turn into Cosmo and Pepper’s Place. Boom.

Cool streets

In Spokane there are streets called Thor and Freya. Cool!

Study in Blue

The other day I had my cell phone in the vest pocket of my blue jacket, and I heard a bunch of beeps. Apparently I bumped the button somehow and took a whole series of pictures. Here’s a compilation of all nine shots, which are basically photos of the inside of my jacket pocket.

Clearly I should be an artist!

RIP neoBox

When I first struck out on my own, I named my new company L5. It was in reference to the Lagrangian Point in astrophysics– I’m a rocket scientist, after all. Within a few months I’d realized that L5 was a horrible name for a company, not only because it doesn’t mean anything to people who aren’t rocket scientists, but because the domain– l5inc.com– had its own set of problems. Is that a lowercase “L” at the beginning? A capital “I”? The number “1”? Is the “5” an “S”? And so on. A new name was in order, and after at least ten minutes of thought I came up with neoBox. If nothing else, the logo was breathtaking.

Umm, yeah. A graphic designer I’m not.

Anyway, neoBox was born and it took a few years before a second renaming landed on Zing Studios (with the help of my partner Lily, who’s much better at marketing than me). But for the past eighteen years, I’ve owned the neobox.net domain, even though the company has technically been defunct for nearly that entire time.

Now it’s time to renew the domain, and I’m going to have to let it die. There’s no reason to perpetuate it, and the dozens of email addresses I’ve used over the years will just have to bounce.

So, another (small) piece of my business history will be relegated to the trash heap of history. Sayonara, neoBox.

Wenatchee

Over the weekend, we trucked out to Wenatchee to visit Thom and Katie. Although they’d already been to our new house twice, we still hadn’t been to their almost-a-year-old “new” house. The architecture of their house is definitely unique: a mix of modern (roughly ten years old) and an old farmhouse (right around a century old).

In true form, Thom and Katie took us on a hike into the hills behind their house. It was a beautiful day– a little chilly, but in mid-November you expect that.

Julian showed off his parkour skills at the trailhead:

We missed the height of the fall colors, but the trees were still pretty.

The hike took us through a gorgeous golden meadow.

Sefton alternated between running up the trail to catch up to Noni (aka Julian), and being carried in a backpack or on shoulders. To a two-year-old, there’s always something to point at in excitement.

At the summit, we had a commanding view of the entire Wenatchee Valley. I can see why Thom loves this area.

Although we couldn’t (quite) see their house behind the ridges, we could see the entire city spread beneath us.

Julian took some great photos. And I took one of him taking one of me.

Julian installed some retro game emulator, and we had a grand time playing Tetris and Mario Bros (the ones from the early 90’s). Katie fired up Mario Kart, which is somewhat of a disappointment after playing the updated Wii version.

On Saturday we went up to Leavenworth, which is a fun little town whose theme is “Bavarian”, to the point where all the businesses are required by statute to use certain German-looking script fonts. Even the Subway has this font, rather than its usual logo. The town was decked out for the holidays, and the lights were pretty cool.

Also, we found a shark hat and a giant bear. What a great city!

We hiked along Icicle Creek, which is a pretty hike that heads up into the Enchantments. It was, in fact, the same trail Thom and Katie came down after their wedding. I managed to get a nice shot of the creek:

And a few fall colors, for good measure.

On Sunday went on a ten-mile bike ride across the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers. It was a ton of fun, and the trail was populated by other bikers and walkers out to enjoy the nice weather. Sefton was in heaven, because not only did we ride (and walk) across bridges…

… but we rode a 10-gauge mini railroad! What two-year-old wouldn’t love that? Thom, on the other hand, appeared to be underwhelmed by the train. (Pepper is having fun in the back with the caboose guy.)

We loved the weekend and can totally understand why Thom and Katie decided to make Wenatchee their new home.

Halloween

I love inventing a costume for Halloween and then dressing up for parties or trick-or-treaters or just to go to the office. I’m pretty proud of a few of my latest creations: the Dread Pirate Roberts and Doc Brown, or even the more generic hippie and plain old pirate.

Alex and his work cohorts all dressed up as ghetto Marvel superheroes, and some of their costumes are so bad they’re good. He sent this picture:

Sadly, we don’t yet know enough people in the area to throw a party, I don’t have an office to go to, and there’s zero chance of trick-or-treaters coming to our house. So I was kind of bummed that I wouldn’t get to wear anything fun. But then Pepper discovered that Bigfork has an annual Halloween event on the main street, Electric Avenue (yes, insert 80’s reference joke here). All the local businesses hand out candy to trick-or-treaters.

So I donned my pirate hat and dressed all in black, and Pepper dug out a witch hat, and we headed downtown.

It was a chilly evening, but there was a huge crowd. Hundreds of families were walking along the shops getting candy, and we managed to score some as well. My favorite costumes were this couple, dressed as Bert and Mary Poppins:

So Halloween wasn’t a total bust. Afterward we went out to a little Italian restaurant to wrap up the evening.

I told Pepper that next year we’re definitely throwing a big party.

Tracks

A few days ago, we had about three inches of snow fall in the area. When Pepper and I went outside for a walk, we saw some tracks in our front yard. One set was definitely from a wild turkey:

The other set looked like a large dog made them:

Since it’s incredibly unlikely a regular dog made its way up the mountain into our yard, I’m guessing these are wolf tracks. They’re too big to be coyote, and not shaped right for a bear.

We also saw some deer tracks along the driveway, and of course a few smaller critters (squirrels and rabbits, probably). It appears we have quite the menagerie of animals in our yard…

Yet another sunset

It was barely a week ago that I posted a picture of a beautiful sunset across the lake. Well, tonight Pepper and I were sitting in the office and glanced out the window. Here’s what we saw:

I can’t get enough of these…

A beautiful sunset

After a cloudy grey day, we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset tonight.

I’m pretty much an expert

I’ve never really liked doing electrical work, and that was reinforced lately when I attempted to install some motion-sensor switches only to fail utterly (partly because the switches sucked). But my to-do list isn’t getting shorter, so today I rolled up my sleeves and went to work. I installed some dimmer switches, which are really nice in certain areas and generally simple to install.

Then I then headed to the garage. In there we have ten eight-foot fluorescent bulbs in gigantic baffles, all sucking down a huge amount of power whenever we turn on the garage lights. Of course I have to change them all to LEDs. Unlike the other bulbs throughout the house, it’s not as simple as just replacing the bulbs… I had to remove the fluorescent power supplies and bypass them. After a bit of reading online and a YouTube video or two, I was ready. I went to work and a little over an hour later, our garage was lit with LEDs.

(Shout out to Pepper, who spent some time today organizing the garage, which until today had been kind of a mess with all our moving stuff. Also shout out to Thom, who suggested I buy wire cutters and a live-wire tester, both of which are turning out to be tremendously useful.)

These lights are amazing. Not only are they crazy bright, but you can rotate the bulbs to throw light in specific directions (unlike fluorescents, which waste a lot of light shining upward). So I turned them for better coverage, and the result looks great.

Despite my general incompetence at electrical projects, I feel like I’m gradually getting the hang of them. Pretty soon I’ll be an expert!

Italian

Yesterday, Pepper and I went to the Big K (aka Kalispell) to see a movie, do some shopping, and enjoy dinner together. Since all of the restaurants are basically new to us, we have to just test them one by one to find the good ones. We chose an Italian place. It was awesome.

They even had real flowers on the table, which happened to match her pullover!

Turn at the big head

Despite our new mailbox, it’s still tricky to find our house, so we’re thinking of ideas about something we could put alongside the road as a landmark. Pepper mused that we could get a life-size Easter Island statue and just tell people to “turn at the big head”. Of course you can buy such a thing:

Unfortunately they’re around a thousand bucks, which is more than I’d like to spend to help people find the house…

Last day on the water

A few days ago, the temperature was almost 60, so we decided to take the jet skis out one last time before winterizing them. Although it was cloudy, the sun peeked through now and then to make it a beautiful fall day. Considering it’s mid-October, we counted ourselves lucky to get out on the water. And since the wind was calm, the water was really smooth.

The other times we’d been out, the water was choppy and we were forced to “wave hop”, not getting much above 20mph. This time we could really open the throttles; I topped out at 43mph while Pepper managed to get to 47mph (her jet ski is slightly upgraded compared with mine).

We crossed the lake to the western shore and stopped in at Wild Horse Island, which is the largest island on Flathead Lake and home to (surprise!) wild horses. Most of the island is a state park, although there are some private residences along the shore. We went on a short hike.

We also cruised past Cromwell Island, just to the west. It’s completely private and the owner has an enormous mansion (visible on the far right):

It was a blast to cruise across such beautifully smooth water. I’m glad we had one last opportunity before it’s too cold, and I’m excited for the spring season when we can get our toys out again.

Tom and Goldberry

It’s official. Ben and Rachel came up with my all-time favorite Halloween costumes this year.

For those heathens who don’t recognize these two, it’s Tom Bombadil and his wife Goldberry, from The Lord of the Rings. Tom is an enigmatic character who is as awesome as he is confusing. And honestly, Ben is the only person I know who could pull this off so well.

20826

I admit, it was a little weird to move into a house that didn’t have a mailbox. I guess I kind of figured everyone has a mailbox, but in this case, the former owner didn’t. That meant when we’d give directions to our house, we’d have to say things like “our driveway is across the street from the red van”. Yes, the red van. But a couple weeks ago, the red van– which had been parked there literally since March– was gone! So now our directions became, “our driveway is across the street from the mailbox that has a lawnmower sitting on it”. Yes, a lawnmower. Sitting on the mailbox.

But finally we bought a mailbox and a post. We talked with George, our mailman, and had the utility companies spray-paint the area so we know where the conduits are, and installed an honest-to-goodness mailbox.

Now maybe we can tell people “it’s 20826” and that’ll be good enough.

O Canada

On Tuesday, Pepper and I drove up to Canada. We figured heck, it’s right there.

No, really we went up to attend the temple. The nearest temple to us is in Cardston, Alberta– a drive of a little more than three hours. It was built a hundred years ago, and dedicated in 1920.

After crossing into Canada, I had to switch my car to metric, so naturally I felt like I was flying along the highway when in fact I wasn’t going very fast at all.

Cardston is a small town of roughly 3,500 people. They have about half a dozen restaurants, including the iconic A&W. Apparently A&W is to Canada what Subway is to America: pretty much everywhere. We had lunch there, and I remembered why it’s been about two decades since I ate at A&W. The burger was, in a word, “meh”.

After spending some time in the temple, we stopped by to visit Grandma Claudia.

She lives across the street from the temple, and her granddaughter Cindy is a good friend of mine back in Longmont. Months ago, when Cindy heard that we were moving to Montana, she told us her grandma lived up in Cardston, so we figured we should meet her. We had a fun visit and chatted for a while. She told us she was sorry she hadn’t prepared dinner for us, but that we were welcome back any time. So now we have a new Canadian friend!

On the way home, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous.

The long line of mountains is the eastern edge of Waterton National Park in Canada, which becomes Glacier National Park when you cross the border. Now that winter is approaching, some of the high roads are closed, but we’re excited to visit both parks in the spring and summer to explore all those majestic peaks.