How To Earn $200,000 And Just Get By… Bogus meme

One of the unfortunate aspects of Linked In is the abundance of stupid or bogus memes.  When someone gets really bad, I disconnect them.  However, a meme that recently caught my eye was this graphic titled “How To Earn $200,000 And Just Get By” with a link to a viral-wannabe ad (that I didn’t watch).

About five minutes of research confirmed that the author of this piece needs a different kind of help.

Warning: may contain bad assumptions
Source: may contain up to 50% bad assumptions

First, the author needs to hire an accountant.  Not only are the wrong base rates being used for taxes (overestimating it by $6k), there is also no evidence they’ve taken allowed deductions (standard deduction, mortgage interest childcare).  Net salary is closer to $146k.  (Source: IRS Topic 751)

Their cost of childcare is about 2x national average for a center-based childcare.  Savings: $12k.  Source: The Boston Globe.

The author feels entitled to take two $4k vacations, which is the average cost per week for an affluent family of four.  (Source: American Express.)  Since things are so tight, perhaps a staycation for one?  Savings: $4k with virtually no effort.

Gas is too high.  Assuming $4/gallon, 20mpg, 12k miles a year, I come up with $2,400 savings.  (Gas is currently under $2.05/gallon  Source: AAA).

Mortgage seems a skosh high.  If their house is $700k (based on the property tax note), and they have 20% down and a 30-year note, they should be able to get a monthly payment of ~$2650.  (Source.)  Savings: $4,200.

So with an hour into it, I found ways to shave the “what’s left” to be closer to $48k.  With that margin, I would pay off my Consumer Debt (unspecified in this), ditch the BMW for something modest, max out my Roth IRA contributions, and add to a 529 college savings.

One hour, and I saved them $40k
One hour, and I saved them $40k

In other words, we should not be rallying to the original author’s aid.

Removing Scratches from a Garmin GPSMAP 64s screen

A year+ of hiking has wrought havoc on the screen of my Garmin GPSMAP 64 screen in the form of numerous scratches from the unit rolling 70 feet down Rattlesnake Ridge viewpoint (when the carabiner prematurely unclicked) and rubbing up against several rock faces as I scooted along a narrow ledge to get to some insane geocache.  By last week, it was seriously hard to read:

Scratched Garmin Screen
Scratched Garmin Screen

Garmin offers an out-of-warranty repair for $99 (and three weeks), but since this is largely external damage, I looked into options for replacement glass.  The only one I’ve found was some dude in the Russian Federation offering one for $32 and six weeks.  Before I tried that, I considered some other options:

Toothpaste – this made no difference, but my GPS briefly had a minty-fresh smell to it.

Brasso – This removed the minty-fresh smell and replaced it with a petroleum distillate smell.  The screen seemed slightly shinier, but the scratches continued to mock me.

Headlight restoration kit – for about $12 (Amazon Gold Box), the kits include a spindly thing that fit in a drill, three grades of sandpaper and some polish.  This worked better.

Step 1: Disassemble the GPS.  There are six 1.3mm Torx screws on the back.

Disassemble the GPS.  There are six 1.3mm hex screws on the back.
Hex screws exposed.

Step 2: Gently pry the two sections apart a tiny bit.  The screen and antenna assembly (bottom) are just sitting on the case.  You’ll need to pry up the bottom, then slide it to the right so the antenna comes out of its shell.  You can then leave everything else connected to the “bottom” of the case.

Innards.  The front of the GPS is facing down.

The combination will look like this:

Sensitive electronics

Put this part in a dry place.  Now with the plastic shell, push the keyboard membrane until the whole thing pops out:

Pop out the rubber keyboard membrane.
Pop out the rubber keyboard membrane.

There are a lot of scratches on this screen!

Scratched screen
Scratched screen

Since I was going off the headlight kit directions, I taped off the other plastic bits of the case.  In retrospect, I don’t think this was particularly necessary since the screen juts out just a little bit higher.

Taping off the case bits
Taping off the case bits

Step 3: To the extent you can, clamp the GPS body to something that’s going to hold it firm, because you’ll want both hands to control the spinney motion of the drill.

Step 4: Dab some water on the pad/GPS.  Using the 800 grit sandpaper (the coarsest), sand the screen.  You’re going to feel bad about doing this, but it’ll get prettier.

Dab some water on the screen and sand.  You'll want to keep the screen wet throughout.
Dab some water on the screen and sand. You’ll want to keep the screen wet throughout.

As you sand, the screen is going to get a little goopy.  That’s okay.  Just keep adding water occasionally and sanding as evenly as you can.

Step 5: Switch out the 800 grit sandpaper for the 1500 grit sandpaper.  On the Goldilocks scale, this is “mama sandpaper,” not as gritty as the 800.  Repeat keeping things wet and sanding as evenly as you can.

Clamped in case after step #2
Clamped in case after step #2

This was the stage where I decided the masking tape probably wasn’t necessary, because guess what gets gradually sanded off?

Step 6: Rinse everything off and inspect.  The glass may be a little hazy.  If you see signs of the original scratches, repeat the two previous sanding steps again.

Step 7: Rinse everything off and swap the 1500 grit for the 2000 grit pad.  Repeat.  The more time you spend using 2000 grit, the better the results will be.

Step 8: Dry the screen well.  The headlight kit came with some goo that you dab onto the cloth pad and use to polish the screen.  You’ll want to keep it moist.  Also plan to spend a lot of time on this step.

Step 9: Rinse and inspect.  If everything looks great, remove the tape, clean both sides of the screen with Windex and reassemble the GPS.  If the screen isn’t clear, you will want to polish it some more.

Step 10: Dry and clean.  Assemble the GPS and test.


What can go wrong:

  1. You still have scratches: start the sanding process over with the 800 grit paper.
  2. Screen is hazy: Try polishing more with the 2000 grit.  If that’s not doing it, back down to 1500 a little bit, then go back to 2000.  Again, the super fine 2000 grit should make it look beautiful.
  3. There is a round spot in the middle: This can be caused by uneven pressure applied by the drill spinner thingie.  Your options are to either live with it — which is fine if it’s subtle — or get a block sander, the 800 grit and try to smooth it out.
  4. The case doesn’t go back together: It’s hard to see in the photos, but there is a rubber gasket that goes around the perimeter of the case.  Remove the six Torx screws, gently open the case, and reseat the gasket into the detente.

McClinchy Mile 2015

Shortly after last year’s McClinchy Mile, the Oso mudslide happened.  This year, they changed the route from Arlington to Granite Falls, to Arlington to Darrington via the new road through Oso.  A small donation was provided to the community.

Since this was both an excuse to get on my bike again after nearly six months off, and an opportunity to ride in a new area, I was pretty motivated to get out, even in the record-setting rain.  So were a lot of other folks.  Attendance was estimated to be above 200 people.  (300 pre-registered + 80 day-of)

Highway 503
Highway 503

Anticipating a moderate rain most of the day, I went straight for the REI rain pants and Showers Pass jacket.  I also had my very dorky Da Brim from last year’s Cycle Canada.  As long as I was pedaling, I stayed warm enough.   I didn’t have to think too hard about the route as it was essentially an out-and-back on 503.

Oso Mudslide
Oso Mudslide

There is a small pull-out at a viewpoint of the Oso Mudslide.  Anticipating people would want to reflect, a porta potty has been left there.  It’s weird seeing half the hill missing and the area generally covered with mud.  Here is a panoramic view on my Flickr page.

Rest stop - biscuits and gravy
Rhodes River Ranch – biscuits and gravy

On the way back, the stop at Rhodes River Ranch offered us the most delightful biscuits and gravy and fresh coffee.   The facility is a working horse ranch that had such success feeding its workers that people also come there for the food.  I really wanted to stay longer, but I was getting soooo cold not moving.

Considering how long I’ve been remiss in cycling, and how utterly rainy it was, the ride went pretty well.  I was glad I had a few dry sundries to change into, but I needed a serious dose of hot coffee and car heater blasting to shake the chills.

This would be an outstanding route in nicer weather.

Makeshift memorial

My walk into work takes me across the Lenora Street pedestrian bridge, a walkway that goes under the Alaskan Way Viaduct and over the pair of railroad tracks running north-south through downtown.  To the south of the walkway, and underneath the roar of traffic on the Viaduct, is the the fourth version of fence erected by the city to discourage people from going under the bridge.

Razor fence
The fourth version of the fence, with razors replacing the barbed wire. It still doesn’t stop people.


As evidenced by the bent razors, increasing graffiti, and garbage, the city is only slowing the activity.  People sleep along the corner of the walkway, sometimes well until noon.

Residentially challenged
Residentially challenged

Later in the day, there will be piles and piles of garbage.

Garbage strewn all over
Later that day: Garbage strewn all over

An doorway to the adjacent parking garage is a river of urine.   It is an area I try to spend as little time transiting as possible.  (I will be very glad when my office moves in a few months.)

Fence from afar.
Fence from afar.

Last Wednesday morning (the 4th), I happened to see this photo and narrative taped to the base of the middle of the fence:

Christopher Lee Davis
Christopher Lee Davis

It is a picture of Christopher Lee Davis – in younger and happier times – with an orange, bottle of water, and two spent tea candles.  The white note reads:

To you, who has found this simple offering, please choose something among it to enjoy.  That is the spirit of which I Have placed it here.  It is in honor of my son, Christopher Lee Davis, who died one year ago on this ground hear of an overdose.  There is no more that I can do for him in this life than to honor the joy and beauty he brought me by trying to share something with others, whether or not you knew him is of no concern.

Please enjoy some if you choose and if possible, leave some to be enjoyed by others as well.

It would be a great honor for as many souls as possible to share in this simple offering for Christopher, my beautiful and only child.  I do have a favor to ask and that is for those of you who find this to please leave these little things of his here in memory of him today, Tuesday, March 3, 2015.  I am unable to be here to light this candle, so if someone would light this candle here on this spot for Chistopher at night fall, it would mean very much to me.  Thank you.

Because the name is so common, I have had little success finding anything specific about him.  I feel very sad for the parents.

Cycling Events

This is going to be another light cycling event year simply because I’ll have a lot of weekends sucked up by touring colleges with the kiddo; however, I think the big three are selected:

Oso slide

McClinchy Mile – March 15.  I think this is the only local organized ride in March.  This year’s event has a route taking us along the Stillaguamish River through the Oso landslide zone.


Pendleton has wide open roads, sun

Century Ride of the Centuries
– May 23 – 25.  I think this may be the event I’ve participated in the most often.  Pendleton has great roads, the CRoC rest stops have food second only to R.A.P.S.O.D.Y. (may it rest in peace), and the weather is usually pretty okay.

Home of the Oreo Cows!
Home of the Oreo Cows!

Cycle Oregon – September 12 – 19.  This year’s “Hell on Wheels” is similar to the route I rode in 2008, my first Cycle Oregon:

  • Baker City – Farewell Bend – 51 miles, 1500′ gain
  • Farewell Bend – Cambridge, ID – 53 miles, 2600′ gain
  • Cambridge to Halfway, OR – 103 miles, 6600′ gain, including the out-and-back to the Hells Canyon Dam.

    Hells Canyon Dam
    Hells Canyon Dam
  • Halfway to Wallowa Lake – 84 miles, 7530′ gain – Over the top of the dam to an amazing viewpoint.

    Hells Canyon overlook
    Hells Canyon overlook
  • Rest day – there’s an optional 44-miles, but after the previous two days, I am going to want to take the tram ride up.
  • Wallowa Lake to La Grande – 85 miles, 2800′ gain
  • La Grande to Baker City – 59 miles – 1800′ gain

50k elevation challenge

After 3 3/4 years, I finally completed the 50k elevation challenge (for geocaching) in October with my friend Jes.

Spoiler alert: Victory!

I logged far more than than 50k of elevation over the period, but the challenge had so many rules that many of my hikes didn’t count.  In fact, for a while I had kind of given up even tracking gain.  I was tantalizingly close after a huge boost in July from Cycle Canada but resigned to completing the official challenge in 2015.  In September, Jes mentioned that she wanted to go to Mailbox Peak, and let me tag along.  The elevation gain (>4000′) put us both over the cutoff.  On that trip, we schemed on how we might finish it off while not completely incurring the wrath of our respective spouses.

Checking the mail at Mailbox Peak
Checking the mail at Mailbox Peak.  I would completely destroy those shorts on the way down.

Armed with the three rules (credit to my soon-to-be-ex-coworker Ronni):

  1. Remain friends
  2. Don’t get hurt
  3. Have fun
Geocache hint: Under a pile of rocks.


Oh Dark 30
Oh Dark 30.  Oh, so dark.

So at oh-dark-thirty, we arrived at the Mt Si trailhead to see four other cars in the abject darkness. Thanks to improved stamina, the hike up to SiHi went very quickly and felt far less strenuous than Mailbox Peak did a few weeks earlier. After Haystack, we were in find-or-bust mode for the 50k, zig-zagging up a vein on the side of the mountain.

Jes made the find of the cache.  Once the log was signed, we broke out the ceremonial cupcakes and sandwiches hauled up the mountain as our reward.

Lemon, Espresso, Pumpkin Spice


Roast beef, provolone, heirloom tomato and avocado.

Now as most of you know, when you do a hike like this on a cool/windy day, and you stop actually climbing, you get quite cold. That’s pretty much what happened to us. With half-sandwiches in hand, we set out to the east to the next set of caches. This was an adventure as the BirdsEye imagery supplied by Garmin seemed like BirdsCrap. There was bushwhacking. Lots of bushwhacking. However, in looking back at the tracks, I still think it took about 40% of the time than it would have to find the trail we came in on and circle back.

Once on “Unmarked road”, we headed east with the intent of getting to the top of Teneriffe and returning west to the caches we passed.  About halfway, we heard intermittent rumbling of thunder. Then it completely opened up. We were huddled under trees for a while when Jes spotted an oasis – a small shelter made for the trailworkers’ stuff.  We stood under that for a while.


Despite my poker face, I was pretty cold and wet, starting to shiver while standing around watching the weather.  Self-preservation overcame social awkwardness and I lifted up the tarp and suggested we hang out inside for a little while.  Being dry gave me a chance to rifle through my backpack for the pair of mylar blankets I tossed in the night before.  We each huddled under one.  When the rain subsided, they were stuffed into the jacket as an extra layer of insulation.  The crinkling noise was obnoxious, but being warm was nice.

Can’t hear you, crinkling.


Resigned that goal 2 (Teneriffe) was a dicey proposition — altitude + bad weather — we headed back west for the caches we’d skipped over.  Three DNFs in a row due to trail work.  As appetite returned, Jes served up a lovely pasta salad made with roasted pine nuts.

pastasaladWe headed down the zig-zag until the cross-trail to Kamikaze Falls.

On the way to Kamikaze Falls. Daylight, schmaylight.

With 90 minutes until official sunset, we hoped we might be able to get the trio of caches at Kamikaze Falls. Once at the falls, we had 40 minutes on the clock, but the sun was definitely below the mountain line and it getting dark fast. We punted on the other two caches because one of them felt rather insanely dangerous with the conditions (tired hikers, rain, dark) and turned around. That takes a lot of willpower when a cache is so dangerously close.  The falls were very nice, though:

Kamikaze Falls with about 2 minutes of daylight remaining.


It was probably a good thing we left when we did because the trail looked completely different at night, what bits we could see.  We just sort of plodded west, climbing over things along the way, until the trail got less minor.

Daytime version of the trail

The thunder returned, as did the rain.  Being under the tree canopy tempered the effect until we got back to the main trail.  There, it was pouring enough that pools of water were collecting in the horse tracks, which made for slower going downhill.

Close to the bottom, we were debating whether to take the “closer” trip that would bring us to a main road, then walk back along that a mile to the car, or power through the paths leading us to parking.  I suggested the latter simply because we’d been out for over twelve hours and I was tired.

This section of trails was in good condition.  As we continued, we saw an occasional reflective tack from a night cache in the area.  The thunder subsided enough for us to hear owls in the trees above.  It was pretty cool.

Nearly 14 hours and 16 miles after we started, we were back at the car.  This was the longest hike either of us had done.  Jes’ fitbit claimed it was 45,000 steps.