Monday, August 25, 2008

You'd think hotels would figure this stuff out

I'm pretty used to the idea of living spaces being a little quirky. If you miss something in the original plans, and want to fix it later, it's expensive, dusty, and inconvenient to change plumbing or drywall or whatever.

But you'd think hotels would figure this stuff out. The rooms are small, they're all very similar to each other, and this is their area of speciality, right?

So I'm sitting in a room near Niagara Falls, at the desk. My laptop power supply is plugged in to an outlet on the ugly lamp on the desk. But get this: the lamp has to be on for the outlet to work. I'm not talking about a wall switch that controls a wall power outlet; this switch is 3in (7.6cm) from the outlet.

The bathroom (washroom) has a little cubby with an extra sink. There's no where near the sink to hang a hand towel. There's a blank wall in just the right spot to put a towel bar.

There's a scale for guest use. It's the kind I remember from the doctor's office. A balance scale. It's in the room with the indoor pool, right next to the entrance to the showers. Probably quite expensive, and accurate (and precise!) throughout its range, at least when new. There's a sign on it saying that it's off by 8-10lbs (so much for Canadian metric....). And a sign on the wall next to it asking that you not use it while it's wet, because it is rusting. But it's by the pool. If you don't want it to get wet, don't put it by the pool. Duh?

It said that Dylan was 36lbs, Zephyr 42, and I 282lbs. I don't know how to map from that to real weights. *shrug*.

Friday, August 08, 2008


We used to order Paggliacci Pizza, before I quit work. Now we're trying to save money, and the pizza in PT is not quite as good as Paggliacci, and we think we can make more nutritious pizza.
We started by buying premade sprouted-grain crusts, adding toppings, and heating. These were definitely good pies.

Then we found frozen dough made by Village Bakery, which is just across the bay in Port Hadlock. It's white flour, which is a bummer, but wow is a good, fresh dough fantastic.
Here you see two pies that we made recently. They're similar, but spiced differently - kids vs. adults. Olive oil, garlic, pepper, oregano, mozzarella, kalamata olives, mushrooms, sausage.

This is a bicycle?

A couple years ago, when I started taking Reid to school in the mornings, I got a tandem trailer for the bicycle. It bolts on to my bike, giving Reid his own seat, handlebars, pedals, and wheel. No brakes, of course.

When the twins were big enough to go along with it, I took one of those enclosed trailers for 1 or 2 kids and pulled them around in it.

Sometimes I wanted to pull all 3 kids somewhere, so I'd hook it all up together. Bikes + passengers were 450+ lbs. 5 wheels. Impossible to back up. Tight turns need extra clearance. It was certainly good for looks & comments of passers-by. I finally got a picture of the "full train" as I call it, to share with you, dear reader.

Reid got comfortable riding his own bike this spring. He was also getting so big that there was too much flex in the rig when going slowly up a big hill. It was time for him to graduate to riding on his own.

I wasn't sure if I should hold on to his tandem trailer for the 1.5yrs or so until the twins were ready, or sell it now & look for a replacement when the time comes. I don't know how I'd take both of them anyway, since two of these things bolted in tandem would be very unstable. I've seen a picture of one with two seats, for two kids. But I don't think they can be found in the US. Maybe I could get a kidback tandem and bolt a tandem trailer on to it. Maybe I'll learn to weld and build something custom. Who knows?

I decided to offer the tandem trailer as a loan to some friends, and at the same time, post it on Craigslist for a high price. I figured that if it sells at a high price, then I can use that money to buy whatever I decide I want when the time comes, and have less clutter in the meantime.

Sure enough, someone in town decided to buy it. So, it's gone for now.

If you're considering biking with kids, remember that flex will matter a lot. The extra weight of the load + the extra pedal force you put in trying to pull it will push your frame harder. If you have a cheap bike, or a racing bike, it'll suck. My touring bike is built stronger than average, and I still wanted more stiffness. If I was doing it over, I think I'd go with the Burley Piccolo, which connects to a rear rack, not the seat post. It's stiffer, and the tandem trailer leans properly in turns.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Bobcat sail #7

It was a pretty day so we took the boat out again.

I'd like to find ways to make the whole process faster. Right now it looks like this:


  1. Hook trailer up to the van
  2. Back it up the driveway to the garage
  3. Remove cover & stow
  4. Load and secure spars
  5. Load, test, and secure battery
  6. Load life vests
  7. Ensure all lines are in order

I know that sounds simple, but yesterday I was doing it with a couple 2-year-olds underfoot, so it took 1/2 an hour. Then of course there's the non-boat prep: sunscreen, clothing, water, food, etc.


  1. Hang launch pass on rear view mirror
  2. Remove spar supports
  3. Remove trailer lights & wire
  4. Place sail hoops over mast partner
  5. Climb up on boat, lift mast up & step it
  6. Stow spar supports in van
  7. Place spar/sail bundle in place
  8. Tie boom and gaff parells; hank sail on to hoops
  9. Reeve sheet through 3 blocks, fasten to boom
  10. Remove all but 2 sail ties
  11. Untangle the 4 lines that run aloft (would be 5, but I don't have a flag halyard yet)
  12. For each of peak halyard, throat halyard, and topping lift:
    1. Untie the ends
    2. Reeve one end through deck block & tie stopper knot
    3. Tie other end to the appropriate part of the gaff

  13. Pass lazyjacks through boom, tie off
  14. Mount motor
  15. Attach motor leads to battery; test it
  16. Mount rudder on stern
  17. Mount tiller on rudder
  18. Set out fenders
  19. Uncoil dock lines; ensure they run fair
  20. Remove strap that holds boat on trailer

That seems to take me about 35 minutes solo. When I did it with Jack's help, it was much, much, faster. At this point, I drive around to get in line for the boat launch.

Yesterday there was only one person ahead of me in line, but he was solo and very, very slow. The tide was almost exactly at mean low low. That made the launch ramp quite long. He backed his truck down, then walked all the way up the ramp & down the dock. Then led the boat to the trailer, then walked all the way up & back down, etc. I'm not complaining, though - gotta have patience at the boat launch.


  1. Back down ranch (a long way this time, but I did it pretty smoothly)
  2. Pass dock lines to Reid on dock
  3. Cast off bow hook
  4. Push boat back
  5. Drive away & park
  6. Walk back to boat
  7. Don PFDs
  8. Lower motor; test it
  9. Cast off
  10. Let Reid motor out of the marina
  11. Raise fenders

Of course, we're not sailing yet.


  1. Turn in to the wind
  2. Cast off sail ties
  3. Haul both halyards
  4. Turn off & raise motor
  5. Go!

There, that's the list. I wonder what I missed? I'll edit this blog post later, and probably carry a printout as a checklist.

On this trip, we took the same path as the third trip. If you look closely on the satellite map, you can see the old railroad spur that would carry train cars out over the water to interface with boats. A big section of that trestle was removed, but the piles are all there, cut off right below the mean low low water level. By putting the centerboard up, and the motor part-way down, we were able to thread our way between them, but just barely.

On the beach, there was no where to tie up, because the water was so far out. So we just held the painter for the 10 minutes that we were there.

In the background in this picture you can see a bald eagle perched up high. We also saw a raccoon swim the stretch between the rock wall on the left and the railroad structure on the right. I didn't know raccoon could swim, but I guess I'm not surprised.

Reid wanted to stay ashore, so I took Zephyr in the boat on the way back. I didn't want to deal with the under-water piles again, so instead we sailed the narrow, shallow, but sandy-bottomed gap that you can see behind the boat.

It was a quick run back, but Zephyr got annoyed with me for tacking back and forth, instead of going in the right direction, heh.

I sailed the whole way back through the channel and up the dock. It helps that I'm getting to know the tacking quirks better. It also helped that the wind was coming from a favorable direction, from one side of the channel instead of straight down it.

After hauling the boat out of the water, I wash the trailer down thoroughly, undo all the rigging work that I listed above, and go home. At home, there's more to be done to put the boat to bed. Last night I skipped it, because I think today I'll go sailing again. And maybe tomorrow, too!

EDIT: Fixed photograph to link to a big version.

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