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A Challenging New Year

Well 2014 hasn’t started very well for us in the Givens household! Granted, everyone in the Seattle area were partying with the Seahawks winning their first ever Super Bowl and that was a helluva party and something to cheer for!! And except for a couple of bumps in the road, thing are still going good for us. Now for those bumps! Back in August I did something to my right heel which created a knot on the inside of where the Achilles tendon inserts itself in to the heel bone. Deb and I went on an easy three-mile, level trail run and I felt fine. No holes or rocks were hit and no trauma was experienced. I had been breaking in some new Brooks Adrenaline shoes and they just never felt right! When we were through, my foot felt fine, but the next day I noted some soreness in my heel. I gave it a day or two then tried another run, and barely got out of the neighborhood and had to turn back. Haven’t run since!!! I kept it quiet for a while and finally gave into going to physical therapy! They worked on it for over a month and it wasn’t getting any better, so I resorted to seeing my foot and ankle sports medicine guy. We have worked on it with anti inflammatory, ice, and six weeks in the below walking boot! I remained working, but I did have to remove the boot while I drove the bus! It was a pain, but after a while, I was used to the boot and it actually felt good when I had it on. There has been improvement and I am back in physical therapy to strengthen the tendons and try to get back to normal. I am just trying to avoid surgery, because it will be major and I will be out of commission for three months!

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My Walking Boot

Speaking of surgery, our poor little boy Cordell had to have some to remove a small tumor discovered during his last physical. We were very worried about our little guy and luckily the test results came back benign. He is on the mend and has almost fully recovered, although he still has a hairless patch on his side. He was a real trooper through the whole thing!

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Poor Cordell has an oowie!

Now while all this was going on and we didn’t have enough to worry about, the scumbag in the photos below hacked our debit card account and ripped off almost $10,000 out of our bank account!! We presume he somehow phished our information by a fake reader or something because we still had possession of the card. Since the debit card was linked to all of our accounts, he took from savings, checking, and also a personal line of credit. What a hassle it was getting it all sorted out and changing bank account numbers and re establishing bill pays and etc. We are no longer going to use a debit card in such a manner for the future. We opened a local account that we will transfer a limited amount of money into and use it. Below are photos captured from multiple ATM’s he was using and while they are not the best, if you see or know this piece of shit scumbag, contact police. He used ATM’s at only Seven Elevens in the following places: Bellevue, Factoria, Kent on Meeker Street, Seattle on Denny Way, Woodinville, Crossroads, and once in Marysville.

Finally as things have slowly returned to normal I am going through tests to possibly get surgery to fix my GERD I have lived with for years! I had multiple tests done which included a manometry, endoscopy, and a Bravo pH study done. I go back shortly to have a consult on where to go from here! Wish me luck, I will need it!

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Life As Metro Bus Driver

A very well written article of what it is like on my job and how my working conditions are deteriorating! Maybe Kathy Lambert and the rest of the King County Council should read it also, since she and some others on the Council have put targets on our backs!

http://www.pstransitoperators.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/layoverrecovery-time-and-operator-rest-periods/

Our Searing Heat Wave

Wow it is hot and it sucks big ass! The Seattle area has been in the grip of a unprecedented heat wave. During an average summer, we might hit the 90’s a couple of times and when we have a string of them, they usually only last a couple of days. Some past record strings of 90’s have lasted 5 days. In 2005, we never even hit 90 the whole summer. Seattle is not know for very hot weather and I prefer it that way myself. Twice since official weather records began 118 years ago did Seattle hit 100, once in 1941 and again in 1994. Well that has been shattered as of late. Yesterday Seattle broke an all time high reading of 103 degrees. Out east where we live it hit 108 in Snoqualmie and 113 in North Bend. We have broken two overnight lows where we didn’t go below 70. That is just ridiculous heat!! Not only has it been hot, but it has also been incredibly humid which makes it even worse! This heat wave will last well over a week before finally breaking loose and hopefully bringing temperatures back down to a more livable range.

Now most of us Seattlites are not used to this kind of heat and do more than our fair share of whining about it, yours truly included in the whining process. Actually I add bitching, moaning, groaning, yelling, crying, sobbing…..well you get the picture. We also have reason to whine about excessive heat because most of us live in homes that do not have the luxury of air conditioning. Most of the year it is not needed. As a matter of fact, most of the transit buses, including the ones I drive, do not have air conditioning either. I was driving yesterday with an interior temperature of 110. This makes getting any sort of relief from the heat almost impossible. Debbie and I ended up going to a hotel where I sit in wonderful cool posting this! Now what really annoys me are the folks living in scorching climates telling us we don’t know what hot is until we live where they do. I recently saw a post somewhere of a guy who lived in Phoenix listing the last 20 or so days of the highs there. All where in the triple digits and mostly above 110. He quipped at the end that the overnight low was 92 so we should just enjoy our weather and mug up! I wonder if he lives through that heat without air conditioning. I doubt it. I am sure he posted his spew sitting in an air conditioned office, then he drives home in an air conditioned car and lives in a wonderfully cooled home. Let’s see how he man’s up if he turns it all off, opens a window, and sits around fans blowing all his hot air around him! Wonder how long he would last! Well that’s how most of us Western Washingtonians do it!! Who are the real pussies out there? I guess the ones who are sitting in an air conditioned room blogging about it! Heh heh heh!!

Another Vacation on the Boat

Well we just finished our second annual boating vacation (I presume it will be an annual event), and we had a great time. We went further from home in her than we have ever gone before. During most of the Spring we performed annual maintenance, changing oil and filters in both engines and the generator, checking fuel filters, belts, hoses, repaired a raw water impeller, checking the diesel furnace, replacing all the zincs, and even installed a new electric fresh water toilet. Work was also done to our dinghy. Due to the fact we have no davits and can’t hoist it up onto our larger boat, it sits in the water tied up to the rear of the big boat. It sat in the water through the winter until we finally found a trailer to haul it out on. By then the barnacles had created a crusty coating on the whole bottom. Nothing we could do on our own would bring it back to near new, so we had to take it to a boat detailer and had it scraped and bottom painted with anti fouling paint and it wasn’t cheap. Now we were ready for anything.

Our first stop of our cruising adventure was at Snug Harbor Resort on the west side of San Juan Island. It is a very quaint kind of rustic setting and very beautiful. Our good friends Larry & Lynette met us there on their boat. For some reason, even after all my docking experience thus so far, I looked like a rookie boater when I attempted to dock the boat! I had to end the first attempt and turn her around and I backed her in on the second. It was ugly and an embarrassment for me and even Debbie was appalled at the misadventure! I never repeated the travesty again! We settled in for some cocktails and then cruised our dinghys over to Roche Harbor for dinner. Another couple, the Hillstrom’s, met us there and we had a very enjoyable dinner together. They once lived near us in Snoqualmie and now live on San Juan Island enjoying the good life the island has to offer.

We then headed for our next destination which took us into Canada! We have never taken the boat to Canada before and it was an interesting venture going through customs. Larry & Lynette also went up with us. We were in Bedwell Harbor at the Poets Cove Resort and it was a beautiful place. We had to check in at the customs dock before we could get to our assigned slip. Only one person from each boat could go up to the customs office to check in and Debbie did that while I stayed with the boat. It was very windy there and many other boats were pulling in to check in also. Twice I had to catch the lines on boats pulling in next to Larry’s boat as the wind was shoving them right at it! Once we had cleared customs, then it was time to pull out and go to our slips! This was another docking adventure as I had to pull in right next to another boat and the wind was carrying me toward it as I came in. I had to try twice and it took six people on the dock and Larry on the guys boat to get me in without banging into him. I guess I did a pretty good job considering a boat tried seven times before me to get into the same slip and finally gave up. It was a white knuckle experience! We spent two nights there and had a great time. Larry & Lynette went home the morning of the second day and we were on own from there.

Next stop took us to the Ganges Harbor and the town of Ganges. It is the largest town in the Gulf Islands and was a fun place and a little crowded in the harbor when you come in. Not only do have the contingent of boaters going in and out, but multitudes of crab pots everywhere and sea planes landing and taking off all around you. As we pulled into the marina, Debbie heard someone calling her name from another boat. Just so happens, Debbie had worked with her in the past. Small world huh! Ganges is located on Salt Spring Island and we discovered a golf course near by, hmmmmmmmm……..imagine that! Although the weather turned gray and wet, we got on our bikes which we had brought along, and rode up to Salt Springs Country Club and played nine holes of golf. I always enjoy playing golf courses in different out of the way places. It was a pretty good course. Being that Ganges was an actual town unlike Poets Cove, we could shop and eat out and get stuff we needed for the boat and even managed to do a load of laundry. I think Debbie liked it the most!

Off we went to Sidney BC and got a slip in the Port of Sidney Marina. Now this was a nice marina! It was huge and much newer than the previous marinas. They had a nice shop, and laundry where you could watch TV or surf the net while you washed your clothes, and even showed movies at certain times. As a marina, this was my favorite. Sidney itself, seemed like any other town you’d find here in the States, but it was still nice. We didn’t have allot of time to do much here, dinner in a nice restaurant, took a night dinghy ride into the channel, a little shopping, etc. Then we headed back to the US.

Back to San Juan Island we went, this time heading into Friday Harbor. We have been to Friday Harbor before, but never in our own boat. It is a nice place and would be a great area to move to down the road. Tori again met us and we had a great visit. I listen to quite a few podcasts and one of them is called the Gastrocast hosted by Chef Neal Foley (the Podchef) He lives on Shaw Island which is right next to Friday Harbor. I had always wanted to visit the Podchef so I figured this would be a good time. I had contacted him ahead of time and we set up a meet on his farm. We took the dinghy over, including Tori to Shaw Island. He lives right by the water and has a dock we tied up to.  The Podchef and his family really live a different life than most. He raises most of the food they eat which includes vegetables, pigs, chickens, rabbits, milking cow, etc. He is also a trained chef and has worked in restaurants and privately and does catering today, blogs, does his podcast, and works the farm! He has a great family, a wife and four beautiful daughters (two sets of twins)! I find it funny that all that hard work he has to do and has no other male to help out, but I’m sure the girls do what they can. We toured his farm and he treated us to a wonderful lunch prepared from foods he raised on the farm. We had a great time and it was awesome to finally get to meet him!

After the visit we dinghy’d around to the north part of San Juan Island where Tori showed us their waterfront lot where they will build their future home. It is lovely and they will have great views. Hopefully they will have a mooring bouy that we could tie our boat up to. Next we did a drive around the island and visited Bert, their Corgi, and had dinner. It was a nice visit, but it was too bad Kevin was out of town and couldn’t be there. Our final leg of our trip took us back to Seattle for one last night before going back to our home dock in Tacoma. We went through beautiful Deception Pass where the tidal currents can get real strong and nasty. We went against a 6.6 knot current, but handled it just fine! The only hitch in our trip came just as we were about a half hour from Seattle when we looked back to check the dinghy and it was gone!!! The tow line had snapped! Using our binoculars, we located it about half a mile back just bobbing in the waves. We had to scramble back and get it somehow tied up to the boat because we were in the shipping lanes and two cargo ships were bearing down on us! They do not stop! We did manage to finally secure the dinghy so we could tow it to Seattle after many bumps, bangs, against the boat and Debbie’s arms (bruises to prove it). In Seattle we pulled into Bell Harbor Marina where Larry & Lynette were waiting. Just by chance, some friends that live near us in Snoqualmie, the Sheehans, were in Seattle so they came down also. We had a great time and went for dinner. Larry, Paul, and I had many Jaeger shots. I laughed so hard my sides ached. The next morning we went home and ended our cruising vacation. It was fun, exciting, adventurous, and full of happy times with my girl! You can find pictures and videos on the links to the right! Until next time!!

Party Time At Finaghty’s

Well this past weekend our local watering hole, Finaghty’s Irish Pub, had a great three day party to celebrate their first anniversary and recent expansion! Deb and I were only able to go to Saturday nights show, but it was the main event, so to say! The place was packed and everyone there had an absolute blast! We were treated to the music from Chicago blues man, Keith Scott, Seattle based rockers, Sugar Farm, and to highlight the night, the rock band Everclear played a fantastic set! I just happened to record a podcast for my Just Joe Podcast Show, so you can go there to listen or click here for the direct link to the file to download! I interviewed Keith Scott, the guys from Love Truckers who played the night before, and also Art Alexakis from Everclear. It is a loud and raw podcast, but I cleaned it up the best I could! We took great photos so check them out here. And check out a great video shot of Art doing an acoustic solo of Brown Eyed Girl here! It was a great event!!!

Back On The Water

Well after a long hiatus of boating due to repairs being made and things needing fixing, we have finally made our firstreal voyage of the season! We drove her up to Seattle for the Opening Day of Boating Season which was our first on our boat! It is a big deal up here in the Northwest and one big party! Our baby is looking real good also as we had her washed, waxed, and thoroughly detailed. We also had an engine problem which turned out to be a very stubborn air leakage into the fuel line which was finally solved by our mechanic from Breakwater Marina. We also bought a new dinghy which actually is what they call a tender. We got an 11 foot Boston Whaler with a 25 HP Mercury outboard on it. It is real cute and will last us forever. We got it delivered just the day before we were to head out to Seattle and can’t put it on our boat as it is too heavy for our existing davits, so we had to leave it in our slip. What we plan on doing is to tow it behind us when we go on trips and just leave it in the water behind our boat when we are in our slip. Debbie is learning how to tow and set up the lines to do it. We had a tow line rigged up for us and hope it gets delivered by next weekend so we can start practicing. Since gas and diesel is so expensive these days, we plan on doing just short trips in our boat and allot of dinghying to explore.

Being that is was our first long trip of the season and we’d had problems with our fuel, we were a bit nervous. We also were going to go through the Ballard Locks for the first time and we were going to do it alone on a very busy day. we ended up going through the small locks which are much easier and it went off without a hitch. Then we had to make our way through unfamiliar waters such as Lake Union and the Montlake Cut and there were allot of boats. We also had to find Larry and Lynette’s boat and anchor next to them. Everything worked out fine! We also realized we had a stern anchor too and set that out with help from Larry and a new friend Bob (and Amy)! It was a great time although the weather wasn’t that great until the day we left. The only hitch now is that our brand new inverter isn’t working correctly which I think might be the inverter battery. So we had to run or generator for electricity which is no big deal just noisy and uses fuel. Also I had a run in with some punk that wanted to tie up to us but wouldn’t let him because he and his pals were so ripped and didn’t know what they were doing. He threatened to come aboard to kick my ass but backed down after I got a little crazy with the fool. There always has to be a drunk dumb ass at every event it seems. Our trip back to Tacoma took us through the big locks and there were many boats going through too. It was a bit nerve wracking, but we did it without a hitch and got her back home with no problems. It was allot of fun and now it’s time for more boating!!! We took many pictures which you can see here and also Deb took a video of some sailboats doing some fancy maneuvering by going to our boating YouTube Page and watching it there. We also recorded a podcast of our adventure and you can hear it at our Boat Virgins Podcast Page show number 30. Until next time…..aloha!!!

Sick Thoughts

Yes I am sick and have been all week and have also been off work for the last three days, so I thought I’d take a moment and write a post since it has been awhile. What did you think I meant? I hate being sick, like most I assume. I am miserable! I am on the tail end of this crud though and I hope I am feeling better tomorrow, because it’s the big game!!! More on that later!!! If the game were today, I would have to drag myself there!!

So I haven’t written since before Christmas so how was yours? We had a nice one although I had to work that evening. Ryan came over Christmas Eve and spent the night. Alex and Mo came over that morning and we opened presents and celebrated. Even though we had promised to keep our spending down a bit this year, I think we all enjoyed what we received. I got a nice new leather jacket, new photo editing software, cologne, books, and a poker set!!! That was a surprise since I don’t play. It is really nice and we did play on New Year’s Eve. I also got a new phone, but it really wasn’t a present, well maybe for myself. After much prodding from Debbie to join the 21st Century and get a better phone with web and email capabilities, I finally jumped ship with AT&T and went with T-Mobile and got a new Wing Phone!! It is really cool and I am glad I finally did. It only costs me $20 a month than I was paying before with just phone service. Now I have web and email on my phone!!! Yes I know, I am a late bloomer when it comes to the latest technology!!

Debbie didn’t do too bad with her Christmas either. Among her many presents, she also got a Garmin Nuvu 760 GPS for her car! We had to order it online and it was back-ordered until it was finally delivered yesterday. She played with it all last night……… the Nuvu……. that is! It has blue tooth and syncs up with her Blackberry so she can actually use her phone through her GPS. It even uses the Blackberry voice recognition and she can just talk to make calls. All hands free which is good since it will be used in the car most of the time. The great thing is, that it is not in dash and we can also take it with us on hikes or walks and know where we are all the time. Is that too important?

New Year’s was fun. It was the first holiday of the season that I didn’t have to work. I decided to take a week’s vacation just so I would have it. Our friends Kevin and Tori Hillstrom and Larry and Lynette came over to our house. We broke out my new poker set and Kevin taught me the ins and outs of Texas Hold em! I can’t say I am ready for the Casinos yet, but I did learn a bunch. We had a great time and Larry and Lynette stayed over since their drive back home was quite long. Larry and I played a little too hard with night caps of Tequila shots. Needless to say neither of us felt to good the next morning. Maybe that’s what reduced my immunity that allowed these vicious germs to sneak aboard and wreck the havoc they have all week in my body!!!

We Are Cheesheads!


Like I said earlier, the big game is tomorrow and if you know me, well enough said. It’s the big playoff game between the Packers and Seahawks! I am actually nervous even though the game is in Green Bay. The Packers are the youngest team in the NFL, and I am worried about all these young players and how they will act in their first playoff game. I am sure the Seahawks will be playing with allot of heart, so the Pack better be ready. I hope I am ready!!! Our Club The Northwest Packer Backers is the biggest Packer Club in the whole Northwest and we are even on the radar of our local TV stations. Fox News 13 will be on hand sometime tomorrow covering the fans at the game. Hell, you might even see Deb and I on TV!!! Well I have to dose myself with some more Mucinex and chill out for awhile. Catch Ya Later!!!

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