2016 Year in Cities

Apparently I did a lot of flying last year — 101584 miles worth. I was lucky enough to carried via British 747-400 for many of my trips (my first trip on a 747 since 2006). I climbed the Alaska Airlines points ladder pretty quickly, finally hit MVP Gold 75K (after a couple of close years), and was in their top 10% of mileage earners for 2016.

Many new cities this year, and one state (Hawaii) and one new country (Spain).

  • Seattle, Washington*
  • Bournemouth, United Kingdom*
  • Arbon, Switzerland
  • Lindau, Germany
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Retford, United Kingdom*
  • Tenerife, Spain
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Heathrow, United Kingdom*
  • Snoqualmie, Washington
  • Stanwood, Washington
  • Lucerne, Switzerland
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Orange County, California
  • Jamaica, New York
  • Kaua’i, Hawaii

One or more nights were spent in each place. Those cities marked with an asterisk (*) were visited mul­ti­ple times on non-consec­u­tive days. Roughly in order of appear­ance.

Cunningham Seawall 10K

It’s been a long time since I’ve run a race—I kind of just stopped running in 20121.

I got back into doing something fitness related in June 2015 with CrossFit, which has been a boon for me…especially with all my travel I’ve done this year2. I signed up to run a 10K with Rachel and some friends in Vancouver, BC some months ago and that’s what got me really running again. With help from Coach Monica at Twenty Pound Hammer I got a running plan together to make this my best race yet.

After doing lots of free runs and looking at the data, I set a goal pace of 5:30 min/km ± 15 seconds3. For me, this amounts to around 80 strides a minute. I built a playlist around this pace that I trained with and raced to.

It’s also cool to see how far technology has come in the last few years. I used to run with a Nike+ sensor that I placed on my shoe to detect steps and eventually moved up to using their iPhone app. I recently switched to using iSmoothRun with Smashrun and Strava and I get so much more data…which is what also helped me pick my goal pace.

I also have sinus tachycardia …nothing serious, just something I have to keep an eye on. I’ve found through trial and error that so long as I can keep my HR below 190 I don’t get winded such that I have to slow down (e.g. think about how long you can run a sprint). This seems to put me at around 5:30 min/km on flat surfaces, though with more training I’m hoping to best this.

Official Stats:

10K time: 58:40 (5:52 min/km)

5K time: 27:54 (5:35 min/km)

Overall ranking: 850 / 3071

Division Ranking (Male 30-34): 81 / 1424

Gender (Male): 467 / 1048



0006 0004 0008

  1. 2012 July 2nd was my last recorded run 

  2. but that’s a another story 

  3. 8:51 min/mi 

  4. Sabo finished 79th and Charlie 80th…even though I didn’t run with them 

The Life of Alex King

NB: This is in response to: http://alexking.org/blog/2015/08/24/rememberances. Alex King passed away on 2015 September 27 after battling cancer for more than two and a half years. Alex was one of the original WordPress developers, and leaves a lasting legacy and impact on the WordPress community.1

Dear Caitlin,

I met your dad at the 2009 WordPress Denver meetup, a “conference created for enthusiasts, users, developers, designers, and fans of WordPress“. It was basically a time to geek out with fellow programmers, developers, and bloggers. I must have know of Alex before I actually met him because I wrote this in my blog:

“It was also great to finally meet Alex King and most of the rest of his crew (Devin, Shawn, Sean, Gordon, and Jeremy) at Crowd Favorite. They did a great job organizing the event and without them this would have never gotten off the ground. I also think that if I ever got tired of engineering and wanted to do web development full time, Alex/Crowd Favorite would be the first person I’d talk to.

Interesting side note: Alex grew up in Seattle just around the block from me. Small world, eh?” (Source: https://andrewferguson.net/2009/03/06/wordcamp-denver-2/)

This was six years ago and I was just about to graduate from the Colorado School of Mines. I moved back to Seattle, not far from where Alex grew up, and have been working at Boeing as an engineer (still not tired of it). I have continued to follow Alex and have have some interaction with him over the years, mostly support related questions. We were, at best, acquaintances.

But that’s not the point. This is:

Over the years, there have been maybe — maybe — five or so people I would go and work for blindly if they called me up…Alex was one of them.

The importance of this sentiment cannot be overstated. There was something very special about him outside of the specialness I’m sure he had as a husband and a father. He was a strong, but humble leader who had vision. He cared about those around him in a way which was empowering and inspiring. And the world was better for it.

Alex actually did offer me a job (or at least an interview…it’s been a while since that conversation, so I may have mis-remembered). I turned it down because I was already committed to Boeing at the time. I’ve always had some regret over that choice — though regret isn’t quite the right word, more a sadness and frustration that I couldn’t be in two places at once.


Andrew Ferguson, PE

  1. Source: Rest in peace, Alex King 

Seattle to Heathrow: Time Lapse

On my latest flight from Seattle to Heathrow I took a stab at making a time lapse.


We were scheduled to leave Seattle at 7:20pm1, so I was hoping capture the aurora borealis during the night portion of the flight since we would be flying at at a pretty high latitude, even dipping into the arctic circle for a bit.


Unfortunately I failed to account for the fact that during the summer darkness is at a premium which I should have remembered given my prior travels to high northern latitudes. So, we never reached night and I didn’t capture any auroras.


It was still a good test and I’ve learned some things to refine for next time2. I’ll be getting a larger SD card for sure and will probably use a slightly different mounting technique so I don’t have to shoot through the Go Pro case. I also want to figure out a window cover I can put over it so A) my reflection doesn’t show up; and B) I’m not blasting the entire cabin with light while everyone tries to sleep (sorry guys!).

Gear list:

  • GoPro HD HERO2 with BacPac
  • Generic suction cup mount w/ tripod mount
  • 8GB SD Card
  • Time Lapse Assembler for OSX

  1. we were delayed a half-hour because of a gauge issue on the potable water tank 

  2. tentatively early September 

The Bank Transfer Solution

Problem: I have a checking account at Bank A and at Bank B, and I want to transfer money between the two.

A bank-to-bank transfer takes three days and costs $5 per a transfer. There’s an option to setup an account through another interbank organization, but I really don’t want to sign up for yet another account. Plus I would have to sign up twice…once for Bank A and once for Bank B.

I received a single check when I opened the account at Bank B, but I need to facilitate these transfers several times. I could order checks, but that costs money and takes time.

Question: How can I relatively easily transfer money without signing up for anything or paying any money?

Andrew’s Creative Solution: Create a check for Bank B on the computer — I used FreeCheck: http://www.sandeen.net/freecheck/. Then using the mobile bank app for Bank A, take a picture of the check (on the screen of the computer) and deposit it. I could print it out, but there doesn’t appear to be a need for that.

Reminds me of the story about Patrick Combs who deposited a junk-mail check for $95,000 as a joke and the bank cashed it. Apparently lots of things can pass for a check.

Right Hand Drive (Timelapse)

Having never driven on the left, I was actually surprised about how quickly I adapted as well as the things that ultimately tripped me up, roughly in ascending order of frequency:

  • Shifting with my left hand was pretty easy…didn’t have any problems with this.
  • Remembering to keep on the left required some mental concentration, but I only tried to drive on the right side once in the two weeks I was in the UK.
  • There were several times I almost got into the car on the left side.
  • Probably at least once a day I could be found trying to grasp at an imaginary seat belt over left shoulder. It was, of course, over my right shoulder.
  • Constantly expecting the rearview mirror to be in my upper right field-of-vision when it was in my upper-left. This took the entire two weeks to really get ironed out.