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Cute coincidence

Yesterday I was catching up on my friends list and a question in one of the posts was whether I had ever painted a rock. I haven't that I can remember, but I see them around a lot. Is it like that everywhere, that it's a big trend to paint rocks and leave them around? I mentioned that not only haven't I done it, but I also see bad ones all the time. Well, today I found the best one I've ever seen!

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It has info on the back about where you can share photos in private groups on Facebook and NextDoor, and the most recent photo in the FB group is where the last person who found it moved it to. I think maybe I'll keep it for the time being, and if we move away from the area I'll leave it in the same park on one of my farewell trips there. That'll blow their minds for it to disappear and reappear after so long.
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Ink tracking

I finally made spreadsheet tabs for my tattoo inventory and the list of ones I want to do. I used to just search for previous versions of the list in Facebook posts I'd made, but that's terribly inefficient. If you count my sleeve and back as one tattoo each, I now have 23.

Mammal bone seahorse skeleton
Starheadboy Focus Group
Starheadboy Burritocorn
Starheadboy Cat in box
Zima bottle
Clearly Canadian logo
Orbitz logo
Crystal Pepsi logo
Garfield phone
Lursa and B'Etor
Freckle
Abbath kewpie
Sark and Master Control Program kewpie
Fire skull
Skull and bones
Question mark shark
The More You Know
Weeping willow, pagoda, peacock, Moonbeam City sleeve
80s Fantasy back
Friday the 31st
Threshold Tom Paris and abandoned salamander babies
Dinosaur Comics panel 2
Him (PowerPuff Girls) with Magic Worm friend

Updated list of tattoos I want to do. How unfortunate that the artist I want to work with on my next large one opened his books up again right as I lost my job!

Snoopy and Woodstock
Night of the Comet think tank symbol palm tattoo
Babies attacking man statue (next large tattoo)
Room 2704 knuckles
Snakes on a Plane logo
Tron leg sleeve
Blockbuster Video logo changed to ROCKLOBSTER E-O-O-O
You Worry Too Much
Get the cheese to sick bay
Clear '90s phone
Escher elves
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Doing the needful

Why did I wait so long to put together a writing portfolio? I can't really say. But it's up. I was about to do a site on SquareSpace but noticed while checking it out that they charge $12-18 for them! Absolutely ridiculous when all I wanted was a quick, minimal site. After all, the writing should speak for itself. I remembered that tumblr recently added the option to pin a post at the top of blogs, and was happy when I checked that my name was available there. So I added to my long list of tumblrs:

http://christopherbragg.tumblr.com

I really like the idea of having a portfolio that's also a blog. If I decide I want to blog there, I can just do a post and it will appear right under the writing portfolio. Perfect! Minimal navigation to go with my minimal design.
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A small victory

Today I'm celebrating because after nearly seven years in this house I finally found something to use for litter that is the exact width of the closet where we keep the litter boxes. They kick a lot so there has always been a big pile all along both sides and the back when it was time to do a deep clean. The reason I was able to pick these up today is because I emailed myself the dimensions of the closet two years ago. What I really need to do is put a tab in my master spreadsheet where I keep all kinds of things for dimensions of everything I'm looking for, like frames for unframed art.

A small victory
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Accidental virality

I've definitely been enjoying TikTok a lot. There are lots of awesome creators on there and their algorithm really does get pretty good at making suggestions after you use the app for a while. As far as what I create there, I find there are still a few issues I have, but overall it offers better options for sound and editing than Instagram and Snapchat stories do. And they're designed to hang around instead of disappear. Of course Instagram has copied the concept with Reels, but for some reason they limit those to 30 seconds.

I had a wild week on there, though. On Tuesday, a couple of videos came up on my Timehop of when we went to the mall two years prior during a break between some friends' wedding and the reception. We found Dragon's Breath treats there, which are like giant pieces of cereal that are frozen in liquid nitrogen. I thought, hey, those videos would be a good TikTok, and I was more right about that than I ever could have imagined.

TikTok by [profile] xtopher575

https://www.tiktok.com/@xtopher575/video/6968861273056365829

As of this writing, it's at 1.2 million views with 78,000 likes and 470 comments, and it just keeps going. Plus I've gained 2,500 new followers or so. I guess it was inevitable, I've made up to a dozen videos in a day so something was bound to eventually click.

The cool part is that the next in my series of videos about reality TV did very well. I've been reposting the others and some of my other favorite older stuff, and it's been cool to see those videos almost instantly get as many views as they did in their original run.

I decided to write about the experience on Medium in the hopes that the post will also get a lot of attention because writers there can make money. I should probably also try to think of other things to write there, I've been in Everett/Snohomish County mode for a long time and it was fun to write about a general interest topic for a change.
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366 days of hair growth

We decided to forgo professional services during the pandemic to avoid as much exposure as possible. So while I went to doctor and dentist appointments, I stopped going to the barber, the waxer, the tattoo shop, and the Korean spa. The Korean spa was the first place I went after I was vaccinated, and the tattoo shop was next. I have significantly less spending money than I did before the pandemic started, so I don't know if and when I'll go back for more waxing. That leaves the hair. It was already a little long when the shit hit the fan, and eventually Garrett started shaving the sides and back for me every few weeks. Even with just the hair on top, I still have quite a bit.

I usually keep it in a ponytail or a bun, but this morning as it was drying I realized the day before I saw a perfect photo in my memories from a year before that I could use to track the growth.

366 days of hair growth

It's kind of nice not having to pay for haircuts or go in every three weeks for them. And being able to just tie it back is pretty great. Sometimes it looks a little fuzzy so I'll put a little gel in for the flyaway bits, but I enjoy how it looks and get a lot of compliments. Undershave haircuts were very popular in the '90s and it's been cool to see them have another resurgence because they're pretty easy to do at home.
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Weekend schmupdate

Friday was my first tattoo appointment since before the pandemic and 13 days beforehand, I saw this video (caution, LOUD). I'd never seen a sticker style tattoo before and absolutely loved it, and thankfully the artist was able to incorporate it. And he did an excellent job! If you don't recognize the character, that's Him from PowerPuff Girls, and we gave him a Magic Worm friend he's wearing as a boa. The artist is Miguel Ortiz from Lion's Paw Tattoo.

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We didn't have a shopping list ready yet yesterday so I walked instead. Just to our neighborhood park, which is really quite nice. I'm embracing neighborhood walks more lately. It's neat to see it in the fog.

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The park is so big that the field you see in the photo above is used for overflow parking during big events. That tiny dot on the left is a bench. I finally looked in the window of the swim center that's been closed since last year and was surprised to see they drained the pool. I figured they were just maintaining it full.

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I also met Lisa at the Northwest Stream Center, where she's now a member, and we went to lunch after that. Our original plan to get sushi was thwarted due to an issue with the sushi bar at the place we tried to visit, but we got delicious Vietnamese instead so that was nice.

Then Garrett and I met my nieces and nephew, who we also hadn't seen since before the pandemic, and that's when we learned niece Tiffany bought a house in Texas and is moving away. Her new job is permanently remote, so it's mainly a real estate decision. She and her family need a new home and Washington is just a terrible place to buy one right now. To give you an idea, our house has more than doubled in value in 7 years. I just checked for the first time in a while and it's more like 120% of an increase in value! By moving she can take her new, larger salary and buy a gigantic house in a great school district. Of course she'll have one of the worst senators in our entire country to go with it, haha.

Speaking of mail, I got the it from the box on the way to get groceries this morning and there was a mailer from one of the local agencies. I always toss their stuff since we aren't looking to sell at the moment but noticed just in time that the back had a photo about the sub shop near their office, which I wrote about for their blog. Have they always put their blog posts in the mailers? Have I tossed lots of my own work straight into the recycle bin? I'll have to check the next time I write for them.

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Seaside is lovely and the name is appropriate

Before this week, our only covid-era travel was a quick trip to Anacortes, a lovely town just over an hour north of us. We decided to venture out a little farther post-vaccination and Garrett surprised me with a view condo in Seaside, Oregon. Not that the trip was a complete surprise or anything, we had the time off planned. I don't really like being part of the planning if the plan is subject to change, so I've previously said we can choose a place together and make it happen, but if he wants to check around for cool deals before finalizing everything, I'd rather just not know until it's for sure.

One cool thing was getting to stop in Astoria on the way down. I've wanted to see it since I was a kid because it's a filming location for a lot of movies. You may have seen it in The Goonies, Short Circuit, and Kindergarten Cop to name a few. We drove by the Short Circuit house after visiting the Astoria Column, a very amazing viewpoint. You can't climb the column now due to covid, but the views all around the grounds are great.

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One thing I love about the Pacific Northwest is that beach neighborhoods can still be green and cool. A very different experience from Florida or California. The water is one block away in this photo.

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Our first meal at a restaurant since the pandemic started was lunch at the Rogue brewery in Astoria on the way down, and our first cocktails were at Bridge Tender in Seaside where they had the sign below. Strangely it looked exactly like the last bar we ever went to together in the before times, Gene's in Burlington, WA. It was super weird to see plexiglass between all of the video games. Dinner after that was outdoors at Finn's Fish House, which was nice.

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One thing I definitely look forward to in beach towns is stuff like arcades and mini golf, and unfortunately the one in Seaside is indoors and still closed. But we had a great time at the aquarium and even got to feed seals!

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Sometimes you shoot some random footage and with very little effort, a video you make with it comes out great!

TikTok by [profile] xtopher575

https://www.tiktok.com/@xtopher575/video/6961911650152615174
(I've been really enjoying TikTok, by the way, if you use it please add me there.)

We also made sure to visit Sunset Beach to the north, plus Fort Stevens. But mostly we just relaxed, which was wonderful.

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As always, there are a lot more photos on flickr, full album here.
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Revisiting the gulch

Today is the Everett half marathon which means my normal Sunday spot would not be easy to get to. Not impossible, but one would have to go pretty far past it via the interstate and then double back. I was there yesterday for a bit anyway. We finally had some dry weather so I finally went over to try skating again for the first time in 20 years. That wasn't my best idea, I was awkward from the get-go and fell pretty quickly.

I'm older, bigger, and stiffer than I was last time, so even though I was practically born on skates and always found it easy, I don't now. I need some kind of practice. Maybe after my second dose I'll hit the skating rink sometime so there's at least a wall to hang on to. I also thought it might be smart to bring trekking poles along for something to hang onto. After all, that's my favorite use for them in actual hiking: something to hang onto when there's nothing, such as when crossing a stream by stepping from rock to rock.

Rain is one of two reasons I'd been avoiding Japanese Gulch since the fall. Normally rain's not a dealbreaker there because I can go up via the railroad tracks and the gravel part next to them, but a while back they started tearing that up and piles of railroad ties made me wonder if they were rebuilding the tracks. Since I wasn't heading to Langus today, I figured I may as well go see.

Strangely, when I got there, the tracks looked pretty much like they did before. The gravel next to them was put back in place, but the ties were nowhere in sight and not installed below any tracks. Did they bury them to reinforce the gravel hill? No clue. But the cool thing is that they put gravel down on the lowest trail up the center, which would always get very muddy in wet weather. It was really cool to be able to walk down that without worrying about possibly having to turn back because of ankle-deep mud and running water.

I also saw a spot where someone's building a new bridge from the center to one of the side trails over a perpetually-muddy spot. And then I got pretty confused after spotting a bridge that's always been there on what I always figured was a mostly-abandoned trail. The time I crossed it, a board cracked and I fell through, but I didn't see any broken boards. Did someone fix it? Why would they? Maybe it's not as abandoned as I thought.

The center having new gravel is also a little confusing, because it's not officially part of the park. Maybe it's getting bigger? I can't find any info suggesting that.

It's been a very busy month and I'm now two weeks late with my zine. So maybe in two weeks I'll have it ready and just skip a month. Thankfully I never said it was monthly and there are just issue numbers anyway. It's got a pretty small readership so no need to panic.
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RIP, Doc

Yaphet Kotto has died so I will share a story. Garrett and I were at a bar at Sea-Tac before a flight and a woman who we chatted with revealed she was once a celebrity personal assistant. I said that was neat and that I worked with a former celebrity personal assistant and asked who she worked for. She didn't want to say because I probably wouldn't know who they were. I bet her that I probably would, and was correct. It was Yaphet Kotto. I was a little offended by the implication that I hadn't seen classics like Alien or The Running Man, and I'll wonder forever if she ever even saw Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare.