Financial disclosure

Last night, today, and tonight are full of fun. I’m doing federal and state taxes at home, and applying for a home equity line of credit and a mortgage refinancing at work. I’m just applying for either the line of credit or the refi – I’ll choose one after I have all the info (gotta pay for that vacation place).

Hopefully, I’ll have time to watch “Sopranos” tonight. Oh, and go to Trader Joe’s – I’m addicted to their soy chips, pitas, and cereal.

This week’s show

was last night. Oh well.

I got my daily digest of emails from the Da Vinci’s Notebook email list yesterday. Paul and Storm from the group had a late breaking announcement: They were opening for the Asylum Street Spankers at Iota – that night. They were supposed to go on before the group’s 8:30 start time. It wasn’t too hard to stay an extra hour at the office, so I went.

They said they’d only do five songs and they did. They were all new and very funny. Storm played the guitar, while Paul held his (although he played a mean tin whistle). The crowd was laughing very hard for most of the set, especially the middle three.

The Asylum Street Spankers harken back to vaudeville. Normally their show is without amplification (one singer was losing her voice and used a mic), and even in the usually noisy confines of Iota worked nicely (except the jackass next to me kept talking to his friends). It’s an eclectic mix of rock and ragtime that was fun – I didn’t stay for the whole show, but I will next time.

On a related note, the Canadian attempted censorship of DVN I mentioned back in January has now made News Of The Weird.

Weekend update

A fine, fine weekend started Friday when my bud Seth rolled through town (well, he actually got here Thursday, but that’s not technically part of the weekend). He had his normal fine timing – Friday was a farewell happy hour at Bailey’s Smokehouse & Tavern (in Ballston Mall) for the old management, and a couple of other former co-workers showed up as well (Jill snuck in, too). Especially nice was that they covered the tab (with appetizers) from 4-8PM. I’m not sure how many drinks I had, but I’m assured it was a lot. We stopped by Thai Terrace for some food afterwards.

Saturday I dropped Seth at the airport, then hung around the house most of the day. I pulled out the record player so I could transfer some vinyl to CD, then read the paper. I took a walk with Jill (in the rain) through downtown Herndon, noticing a new kabob place where the Revolution coffee place used to be. I made poblano stuffed steaks for dinner, before Jill left for work and I caught 4 Way Street at Iota. They were great and we chatted for a while about web site updates. I’m doing a phpBB install for them, thankfully they’re ok with me being a newbie to it.

Sunday was gorgeous weather. Good thing, ’cause I was busy. I thought I was sleeping in until Jill got home and discovered she still had the code pager. I told her I’d take it back, and got going quickly. It wasn’t a total sacrifice, as I was going to Tyson’s Corner for a record show. My friend and former record store co-owner Eric was there, so we caught up for a while. On the way back home, I dropped off the mixed paper recycling and went grocery shopping. I went rollerblading after I unloaded the car, then read the Post on the deck. Jill helped me make Buffalo wings for dinner (actually thighs, they’re meatier and easier to chop), as well as our patented hamburger patties (2/1 ratio of 90/10 ground beef to ground turkey, lean and hard to tell the difference). We watched some TV, including an action packed Alias (I decided to not make her watch Sopranos – it’s not like I can’t catch one of the 50 times HBO will show it this week).

Two more jobs

My favorite story from the Post this morning: W. excited about adding two jobs in a stock-car firm to the economy in California. Gentlemen, start your engines!

The vacation place

When we went to purchase the dog sled trip, the lady at the Whistler Activity Center asked us if we had heard of Club Intrawest. Someone had mentioned it as we passed the day before, but we’re used to DC (and people stopping you for anything) and said “No, thanks”. We had looked into dog sled trips at another place, and they told us we’d get a discount if we sat through a time share presentation. That started a rant on my part how I’d never want a timeshare, we like to travel all over the place. Apparently Club Intrawest was different – not only could you stay in the club properties, but there were thousands of other choices. Plus we’d get $150 off the dog sled trip.

I went in with a skeptical attitude, but became intrigued the more I heard. It’s not a time share, it’s a points program. You join the program by purchasing a membership – the minimum was 120 points, we bought 200. You then receive a specified number of points every year, you can redeem them at the 7 Club Intrawest locations (with another 2 opening in a year) or exchange them with brokers like Resort Condominiums International (RCI), which has 3,700 affiliated resorts worldwide. You also pay an annual fee for upkeep and maintenance; the amount of the fee depends on the number of points you own.

The number of points required to obtain accommodations will usually vary with the accommodations selected. Factors influencing the number of points required for your requested accommodations include:
· The popularity of the resort
· The size of the accommodations
· The number of nights of occupancy
· The specific nights requested (weekend and holiday nights usually require more points per night than do mid-week nights)
· The season of the year.

Club Intrawest’s points are mostly set in stone (you’ll need the same amount of points now as you will 20 years from now), but brokers like RCI can change the contract (most likely depends on the value of the property). You can also borrow up to a year’s worth of points, or bank a year’s worth for the future, if you need a bigger place for longer. I particularly like the saleslady’s method of getting a 3 bedroom (which sleeps 8), then getting friends to pay her airfare and staying with her. You can also pay a reduced cash price for places under certain circumstances.

It was a soft sell after the presentation, I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to buy, but we liked the program. We calculated our future lodging costs, and we’d spend what the 200 points cost in about 7 years – I think it’s a good deal. We also got a free 7 day lodging anywhere in the world for signing up (as well as a discount on the price per point).

Base station

In which our intrepid heroes made it through the ski trip with only sore and bruised bodies.

I was surprised to make it through all five skiing days (out of six). I finished my last two days on Whistler. Blackcomb was great, but I liked the trails on Whistler better. Dave Murray was a rush, and my favorites were Harmony Ridge and Harmony Piste. Twist and Shout on Blackcomb was good as well. I had a slight muscle pull on Thursday, but I managed to work it out so I was fine on Friday. I was pretty worn out on Saturday, but I felt fine.

They never got more than a couple inches of snow on the mountain each night, but that was fine with me. I went through some deep powder and didn’t like it that much.

No more slopeside accidents, though one lady in our group came precariously close to marrying a guy she’d met at happy hour 3 hours before (I think bartender/ordained ministers are extremely dangerous).

Wednesday Jill and I left the group and got sushi at Sachi Sushi. I got an assortment of Nigiri that was amazing. Thursday we went to the Keg steakhouse, where I had a 20 ounce T-bone. Friday, we joined the group at the Old Spaghetti Factory. I tried the Pesto Linguini (it’s odd to eat regular pasta after eating the low carb stuff for a while), pretty good (the club subsidized our meal). The Mexican place I mentioned previously was Gaitors (in the Shoestring Lodge, a 10 minute walk from the village). I had the beef fajitas and half a pitcher of strawberry daiquiris. My favorite meal, although the sushi and steak places were close seconds.

The dog sled ride we took on Tuesday was something I’ve always been interested in (my family’s only owned Huskys). The driver had us help him harness the dogs and attach them to the sled. The dogs were named (left to right, front to back, best seen in the eighth dog sled picture) Kona, Apache (lead dog), Saila, Bucket, Mercedes and Tank. Tank tried to get away every time we stopped.

The track we took led next to a riverbed for a couple miles, then we turned around and took it back. The sled driver, Eric, stopped after about five minutes and let me ride on back. Since Jill didn’t want to, I rode almost the rest of way, until we were near the end. We had to stop every couple of minutes to stop from running into the team in front of us. On the way back Eric let me yell “Let’s Go” to the dogs to start them. No, “Mush” is not used, although he said they’ll take anything yelled at them, so once I yelled “Magic Hat” (after our favorite beer, natch). At the end, they got treats, and even Kona, who wasn’t friendly earlier, was happy to take one.

The big news of the trip was buying a vacation place (kinda). I’ll explain more tomorrow, but when it’s paid off, our lodging for vacations will be (essentially) free.

Recovery

The number one thing I don’t like about vacations? The mass of emails awaiting my return. And we’re in a crunch on a project, so no vacation wrap-up today – tomorrow at the earliest.

I did upload the pictures I took, though.