36 entries categorized "Weather"

So this is adulthood?

Twelve-year-old me really really really wanted this morning to watch Seattle City Light deal with the fallen tree a block down the road. The tree went down as a fast-moving storm blew through the neighborhood Friday evening, taking out or cable service and snapping a power pole in the process, and my 12-year-old self was all about gawking at the work to fix the problems because: Ooh! Big powerful machines!!!

Tree down up the streetForty-year-old me knew that if I didn’t mow the damned lawn, it would overtake the house in a matter of hours. It had been three weeks since the last mowing, a combination of weekend plans and bad weather repeatedly delaying the next mow.

Somehow my brain arrived at a perfect compromise: Mow the front yard first!

So that’s what I did, and I managed to avoid chopping off any digits and scalping the turf even though I kept my eyes on the work down the street even more than I kept my eyes on the task immediately at hand.

And how was your Saturday?


Casually overwrought

Without comment, I present in its umodified entirety the severe-weather alert I saw for Seattle just now:

... SNOW POTENTIAL THIS WEEKEND AND IN THE WEEK TO COME... A COLD AND SHOWERY AIR MASS WILL SPREAD ACROSS WESTERN WASHINGTON THIS WEEKEND. SNOW LEVELS WILL FALL TO 1000 FEET ON SATURDAY AND THEN TO NEAR SEA LEVEL OR JUST A COUPLE HUNDRED FEET ON SUNDAY MORNING. IN SHOWERY PATTERNS... SNOW ACCUMULATIONS CAN BE HIGHLY LOCALIZED... DEPENDING ON ELEVATION AND HOW CONVERGENCE ZONES DECIDE TO FORM. LOCATIONS FROM SEATTLE NORTH TO THE ISLANDS AND SKAGIT COUNTY WOULD BE THE MOST LIKELY PLACES TO SEE ACCUMULATING SNOW... BUT ANYWHERE STANDS A CHANCE. LOCATIONS THAT GET SNOW COULD GET A FEW INCHES... WHILE MANY OTHER LOCATIONS WILL JUST GET FLURRIES OR LEFT OUT ALTOGETHER. THE CHARACTER OF THE EVENT WILL BE SIMILAR TO THE ONE THAT HAPPENED ON DECEMBER 29TH... THOUGH THE EXACT LOCATION OF THE HEAVIER SNOWS COULD VERY WELL BE DIFFERENT. MONDAY AND TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK WILL BE COLD AND DRY. STARTING WEDNESDAY THROUGH THE END OF NEXT WEEK... THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR A WIDESPREAD HEAVY SNOW EVENT SOMEWHERE IN WESTERN WASHINGTON. GREAT UNCERTAINTY INHERENTLY EXISTS IN A FORECAST WITH THIS MUCH LEAD TIME... AND IT IS POSSIBLE THAT A HEAVY SNOW SITUATION WILL NOT HAPPEN. CHECK BACK LATE THIS WEEKEND OR BY MONDAY FOR THE LATEST ON THIS POTENTIAL HIGH-IMPACT EVENT. IF THE POTENTIAL STILL EXISTS AT THAT TIME... THEN THE DRY WEATHER ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY WOULD AFFORD AN EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY TO PREPARE.

You can HEAR the anguished wringing of hands

It’s snowing in the Seattle area, which means two things.

  1. Area school districts started announcing changes to their schedules, or outright closures, more than 24 hours ago, at the first hint of snow in the forecasts.
  2. Drivers are freaked the hell out.

The snow is sticking to lawns, roofs, and trees, but it’s barely making the roads wet yet. However, the forecast calls for up to 3 inches of accumulation from Seattle southward by this afternoon.

I am of course in heaven. I was born and raised (and more importantly learned to drive) in Salt Lake City, where men are men and holy underwear is the norm, and where they get REAL snow. Where by “real” I mean in quantities of inches at a time, sometimes a foot or more, and as the license plates will confirm it’s the greatest snow on Earth.

Which means that anytime the Seattle weather forecasts mention snow or La Niña or “Arctic flow” or the other winter-weather flag phrases, I get a little giddy. I remember the years of walking to school uphill in the snow (but one way only) and the inevitable late-night sledding sessions down the block-long alley across the street, including that time Matt almost got crushed by the bus on 6th Avenue but only his sled bit the dust because of his expertly timed ninja dodge maneuver, and the look of utter horror on the bus driver’s face when he felt the bus’s front right tire go over SOMETHING (and probably felt the crunching of the sled’s wood deck) and he had seen a teenager waving wildly on the sidewalk just before that.

Ahh, the memories.

Anyway, back to now. Yesterday we had several brief periods of “snow”—really, it was the hardened version of Seattle’s famous misty rain. You had squint to see it—it made NOTHING wet, not roads, not cars, certainly not exposed skin. Immortalized in a conversation with Julie Anne as we had a late pre-Thanksgiving-shopping breakfast at Original Pancake House in Crown Hill:

Don: Oh look, it’s snowing again.

Julie Anne [squinting]: It is?

Don: You have to really want to see it.

Julie Anne [pause, still squinting]: Oooohh.

Laffs all ’round!

It certainly doesn’t help that the media here in Seattle buy into the frenzy wholeheartedly. KOMO News radio usually switches to their astoundingly lame “driver to driver coverage”: Joe Sixpack calls in on their news line and reports what he may or may have seen, or sometimes what he expects to see, or what his wife’s coworker’s neighbor said she once saw. And somehow the metro area hangs on his every word. Usually delivered all in a rush, because Joe Sixpack is not a professional radio personality and so has no clue about modulation and pace:

KOMO personality: We have Joe from Medina on the KOMO News Line. Joe, tell us what you see.

Joe: Yeah so I was driving on 520 toward I-5 and as I got to Montlake I saw a snowflake and I slammed on the brakes and a semi and a bus behind me almost crashed as they tried to avoid me and I spilled my Starbucks all over the dashboard and now I have to go to the detailer.

KOMO: O...kay, thanks, Joe. Now to Melinda in Shoreline, you have have something to tell us about the power up there?

Melinda: Well our schools are all closed and our power is on, it hasn’t even flickered. But we have about an inch of snow and my driveway is really icy.

KOMO: ...

And so on. It just never ends. I know (or at least I think) they think they’re providing a necessary civic service, but come on.

Really they’re just enabling the cold-weather-pansy mentality.


Bruises I can’t explain, and other bits about last week

Last week was good! Fairly normal work week, random signs of injury I can’t recall, absolutely smashing good weekend!

So then.

I think it must have been... Tuesday? Wednesday, actually, now that I think about it. Anyway, when I noticed on my right forearm a large(ish) bruised area, maybe two inches wide. Hurt a bit when I pressed on it, that first day, but the second day nothing but discoloration.

This is one of those bruises I cannot for the life of me figure out how I got. I don’t recall slamming my arm into furniture or bouncing hard off any walls. Nothing fell on me or hit me within the last 10 days, and I haven’t been in a physical fight in well over a year. The bruise’s shape gives no clue to its origin—there are no faint outlines of baseball stitching or backward sports-equipment logo typography embedded in my arm.

But the highlight of the week was a weekend jaunt to San Francisco with Katharine and Julie Anne to attend a live-album recording show by my favorite singer/songwriter, Vienna Teng, and her frequent collaborator (and producer of her last album, Inland Territory), Alex Wong.

Fantastic time. We had VIP tickets for the Sunday evening early show at The Independent, got us some face time with the musicians while they were doing their sound checks. Also I’ve a newly signed poster I need to get framed at some point. It was a fascinating crowd, too, all ages (21+ only) and just about every type of person you could imagine, all clearly fans of the music and really into the show.

No idea when the album comes out, but I’m hoping to hear my voice among the whoops and hollers from the crowd. Maybe it’ll list where each track was recorded as well so I won’t be one of those fools who says, “That’s me clapping first,” only to be told that song was taken from a recording made in New York, where I’ve never been.

San Francisco was lovely otherwise. We flew in Saturday morning, took BART from SFO to Powell Street Station, checked into our hotel with no fuss (our rooms were available even though check-in time was still 4+ hours away), and were out wandering the city a little after 10:30. Spent the afternoon at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, marveling at the planetarium show and chuckling at the penguins’ antics and bemused by the free-flying butterflies in the rainforest globe. Beautiful building, they pack a lot into a relatively small space, but it isn’t at all claustrophobic—the exhibit spaces are thoughtfully laid out with plenty of room for people to move around, and the exhibits themselves are an engaging mix of old (dioramas, animal enclosures, blocks of descriptive text on wall signs) and new (Surface-style computer-driven information about the California coast and such, an all-digital planetarium with a 75-foot projection dome, a state-of-the-art living roof, the works).

We flew home this morning, allowed an hour for bag check and security screening and barely made it onto the plane for the 09:20 departure—and, as it turned out, only because the TSA agents handling the lengthy security lines were canvassing the crowds for departure times 40 or so minutes away at any given time. The bag-check agent had claimed a 45– to 60-minute wait in security; if we hadn’t jumped the line at the TSA agent’s behest, we would have missed our flight, and we had a bit over 60 minutes from bag-check finish to our entry into the security line.

The flight back to Seattle was packed tight. The Alaska Airlines check-in kiosk had even asked us if we would be willing to accept booking on a later flight (with a travel voucher to be used in the future) because our flight was overbooked, and the crowding aboard clearly indicated it would be a busy travel day all around. I think we ended up among the last half-dozen or so passengers to board, which meant that my laptop bag flew home overhead row 18 while our seats were in rows 23 and 24 (in a 27-row 737-400, oh joy).

We did get to enjoy the log-sawing stylings of the Western Conference Champion snorer. This guy could go pro, probably get taken high in the second or late in the first round. He had snorted himself awake five times before the plane was even off the runway at SFO, and several times during the flight—each time, his rowmates would all flinch with the surprise of it.

Sometime during this flight I also noticed the couple of bruises on my right upper arm, a couple of little quarter-inch dark spots on my biceps.

Seems parts of me were beaten senseless over the last several days and I’ve no memory of it.

Anywho. Back home now, all is good and I have a two-day work week because of the Christmas holiday—we get both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, for some reason I absolutely am not questioning aloud but still wonder about frequently. Bag is unpacked, cats won’t leave me alone, the wind is rattling my balcony door, and the weather forecast calls for rain and chance of snow tonight and tomorrow.

Just as things should be for December in Seattle. :-)

So how was your week?


Wherein Don gets hot chocolate solely to warm his hands

It’s not cold in this room. I know this for two reasons.

First, I have photographic proof:

Temperbature
And second, I don’t feel cold.

But my hands do not know this.

My hands! They feel frozen and have for most of the day, dammit!

So, having achieved fluid equilibrium a few hours ago, that state where I must expel fluids at roughly the same rate I am consuming them, I went down the hallway a bit ago for a refresh of my beverage. And I thought:

Ah ha! Hot chocolate!

Which I am now not drinking but am hugging closely to my person, in an attempt (so far vain, because I have taken my hands off the warm cup so I can type this post) to warm my poor frozen hands.

Also, earlier (and unrelated), I sneezed five times in a row. Best sneezes EVER.

So how’s your Friday?


Of late

Been a while since I had a non-photo, non-posted-by-mobile something-to-say prattling. Figured I’d catch things up a bit, in no particular order.

:: • :: • :: • ::

Had my eyes examined twice in four days. Bright lights shone INTO MY EYEBALLS at various times, some after I had been given eye drops that would prevent my eyes’ normal response to bright light to safeguard my vision. Institutional evile, it is.

Eye exams are such an odd thing. A bunch of tests designed to safeguard and even enhance our visual acuity, each test resulting in its own odd killing of vision for a short time.

Today’s tests involved digital photos of my retinas. The pics were cool, blood vessels in a circular cut-out on the computer screen, but the method kinda blew. The technician had me watch for the little red blinky light, just focus on the light, she had to make some adjustments and get things just so, don't worry about blinking, just blink like you normally would and keep focused on the red light, almost there, keep watching the light, another slight adjus—ZORCH the camera flash detonated INSIDE MY EYEBALL, practically. Pretty photos, but I saw the flash afterimage for almost an hour.

And within that hour I got to take an extended field-of-vision exam—I stared at a little yellow light and pressed a button each time I saw, somewhere in my field of view, a little secondary spot of light appear briefly. At one point I got a little button-happy and they had to repeat the test for my left eye because I spotted roughly 12,000 non-existent light blips, but I think it was just the machine getting annoyed with my predictive capabilities.

All of that took only 26 minutes. I think that’s like the old cigarette thing, the one where they say each ciggie cuts something like, what, 7 minutes or 23 hours or 800 years off your life? Yeah, that 26 minutes of eye exam from hell cost me 100 hours of sensitivity to light.

Sometimes at night, when I close my eyes really hard, I can still see the spots.

:: • :: • :: • ::

In other news:

We had a thunderstorm over Seattle tonight. I was on the phone with my friend David, because I LAFF AT DEATH and ignore the old saw that you should never use the phone in a thunderstorm, and also I only have a cell phone so if I managed to get zapped by the phone lines, it would definitely be newsworthy. But anyway, I was chatting with David and gazing out over the city, watching the storm move across town and thinking, definitely a good night for Safeco Field to have a retractable roof, eh wot?, and there was a lightning strike atop the Space Needle.

The Needle is maybe 6 blocks from my apartment, so it was roughly, well, NO TIME AT ALL before the thunderclap sounded. But it was quieter than I expected, and though my usual thunderstorm freak-out nerves were jangling, I was fascinated to see a building strike so closely and so uneventfully. Right at that moment David was talking about his recent visit to Cotton Eyed Joe (WARNING: Flash site, loud audio), how crazy it was and how much fun he had, and I was doing all in my power not to run into my bedroom and shimmy under the bed if for no other reason than I will NOT appear that unmanly in front of my cats, both of whom sat at the balcony door watching the storm and didn’t even twitch when the thunder rumbled over us.

:: • :: • :: • ::

Speaking of phones:

My Verizon Wireless contract ended Saturday.

First time in my personal-cell-phone-having life—thanks to the miracle of Palm devices, I can tell you that’s been since March 11, 2000—that I’ve hit the twin milestones of

  1. Finishing a two-year cell contract without making changes to my service, and
  2. Keeping a single phone alive through the entire contract period.

See, I’m usually hell on phones. I’ve damaged or outright killed a couple myself, drops and bangs and general use-and-abuse, and then there was the time my RAZR got smacked out of my hands and shattered into pieces on the tile floor of a downtown restaurant when I was only, what, a month shy of the end of the cell contract I was on at the time. So my keeping alive for (so far) 2.5 years a device that’s both a phone and a PDA is something of achievement in my little world.

Even more than that, I’m not running right out to replace the phone. I’m sticking with the current plan on month-to-month for now, because it suits me and I have a couple of ideas on phones I may want to try, but I’m holding off until I know more about them.

I really hope this isn’t some hideous sign of maturity. I’m only 37, I can’t be grown up yet.

:: • :: • :: • ::

So then, what else?

Oh, I started a 3-person carpool a few weeks ago. Doesn’t matter so much on the drive to work—we use the SR 520 floating bridge to get to Redmond, and there’s no HOV advantage eastbound.

Westbound, however, the HOV lane between I-405 and the floating bridge on SR 520 is a 3+ lane, and we sail past all those fools in their 1– and 2-person cars as they sit in traffic, mostly idling but occasionally moving forward by a car length or two, and I have to discourage my carpoolers from laughing maniacally and pointing and otherwise possibly causing road-rage incidents even though I secretly want to laugh and point as well.

But I was one of those non-HOV fools until earlier this month. Now I’m routinely home less than 40 minutes after I leave the office, and that includes dropping two people off when I’m driving.

Nice to be home by 5 each day, especially when there are still 3 or 4 hours of daylight to go.

:: • :: • :: • ::

Saw two movies in cinema the weekend before last: Star Trek, which I loved, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which I kinda liked.

I always want to type Wolvering. Have to correct it every time.

Anyway, two movies at the cinema in one weekend is a lot for me. Usually I’ll see two movies at the cinema in a span of several months, and I’ve realized why. It isn’t the opening-day (or even –weekend) crowds, or the occasionally shoddy projection or the sometimes uncomfy seats or whatever. It’s the people sitting immediately around me who act like they’re in their personal living-room THX auditoriums with the talking and the crinkling plastic and the God knows what other noises are emanating, to say nothing of the occasional dipshit who didn’t silence the cell phone.

I’d usually rather wait for Netflix to deliver the film experience in my own living room, where I know when I’m going to make crinkling noises and I can ignore myself easily.

But yeah. Loved loved Star Trek. I saw it courtesy my friend Matt, who turns 27 tomorrow. (Had to get that in there, of course.) He was dying to see the movie, already had tickets to an IMAX showing on the weekend, but he scored us seats at the 7pm showing on Thursday, May 7th, because he just couldn’t wait two more days for the IMAX showing on the 9th. Good loud visually exciting popcorn movie I’m sure I’ll see at least once more in the theaters and then at least once more on DVD, if I don’t end up owning it.

WolveringWolverine entertained me but didn’t wow me, or even strike me as a very compelling story. Hugh Jackman was good, he’s made the part his own, but I couldn’t buy Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. Something just didn’t ring true, and in a summer blockbuster of mutants with retractable metal claws and sharp fangs and the like, if you can’t buy an actor in a part, something’s just not right there.

And if I never see Will Ferrell again, it’ll be too soon. They showed the fucking trailer for Land of the Lost FOUR TIMES in those two movies, and I’m sure all the remotely funny bits were in the trailer.

FOUR. TIMES.

:: • :: • :: • ::

OK, I’m done for tonight.

Have a good Wednesday, everyone.


A lovely drive home

My commute from work in Redmond to Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood is just over 14 miles, about a 20-minute drive at posted speed limits with no traffic. In the usual afternoon traffic volumes, it’s 25 to 30 minutes.

Tonight’s commute took 107 minutes, about five times longer than normal.

And it gets better.

The first 7.6 miles, from the office to the east end of the SR 520 bridge deck, took 91 of those minutes, for a blistering average speed of 5 mph.

The remaining 6.6 miles required just 16 minutes to travel, including the surface streets. Averaged 25 mph on that leg.

The floating bridge was fun, however. It was swaying noticeably on the rises at the east and west ends, and the spray over the road surface was better than the heaviest rainfall. Quite enjoyable, particularly because by then traffic was moving at nearly the posted 50-mph limit, and keeping the cars in their lanes while the road surface was moving a foot or so left and right was a bit of a trick indeed.

Oh how I love driving in Seattle in any type of inclement weather. :-)


Who goes there?

It’s a little blustery tonight.

Across the street is a tree that moves in the breeze across the line of sight between my balcony and the security light on the building directly south of mine.

The tree’s crossing the light keeps making me think there is someone walking across my balcony. In the last few minutes I’ve had several WTF moments.

Time, methinks, for bed. Have a nice Sunday night. :-)


On the rain in Seattle

We have a Pineapple Express-style storm rolling through Seattle today and tomorrow. I’m quite enjoying it, mainly because I’ve been home from work for five hours now and avoided the majority of the afternoon rush hour, one advantage to my early work schedule. I usually beat traffic unless there’s a crash or something.

I did, however, experience some of the usual Seattle Rainy Day joy. In this city with its reputation for endless rain and the gorgeously green landscape that accompanies, once again I was amazed by the sameness of the rainy-weather experience.

Some things never change:

  • I was angrily glared at, flipped off, honked at, passed stupidly closely, or cut off several times on my way west on SR 520, all because I was leaving several carlengths of empty space ahead of me and apparently Seattleites aren’t happy unless EVERY GODDAMNED INCH OF HIGHWAY is covered over by crawling vehicles.
  • Several spin-out crashes reported on the traffic updates in the 30 minutes I was on the road between Redmond and Queen Anne. This lack of willingness to slow down just mystifies me, particularly when people aren’t very good at braking correctly even when the pavement’s bone-dry.
  • Several cars I saw, the drivers seemed dead set against using the windshield wipers. At a couple points I was wishing my car’s wipers had something beyond the normal and fast options, perhaps an OH SHIT I CAN’T SEE A DAMNED THING setting that made the wipers invisible, they were zapping back and forth so fast. How can anyone think not using wipers at all is a good thing, even in the mildly misty rain we usually have?

Each of these happens every time we get rain here, particularly if there’s been more than about 12 minutes since the last storm. I just don’t get it, EVERY TIME.

Can anyone splain this to me?


BUH

I have an irrational fear of lightning already, which stories like this DO NOT HELP:

Seattle Times: NY man survives lightning strike at gas station

BARKER, N.Y. — Authorities say a man filling up his truck at an upstate New York gas station was struck by lightning but survived with barely a scratch.

A surveillance camera at the K&K Food Mart in Barker shows the lightning bolt hitting the parking lot in a burst of smoke and orange light Wednesday. Forty-four-year-old William Hall is shown on the damp concrete near his pickup.

Hall says he was unconscious for about five minutes but felt the current travel through him before he passed out. His muscles are sore and he has slight blistering, but he says otherwise he feels fine.

Actually my fear isn’t entirely irrational. I have been within 20 yards of lightning strikes on four separate occasions in my life, though never struck directly.

Lightning is HOT. And LOUD. And VERY BRIGHT.


Weekend in a minute

  1. Beautiful weather. This was all weekend, but it started Friday, so chronologically it goes first.
  2. Drinks and dinner with Katharine and our coworker friend Ian at Macaroni Grill Friday night. Second time I’d been there in a week, but only once for a meal. And while we were there . . . .
  3. Ran into my friend Matt and his roommate Liz, who were there to wait for their other friend Jason, who is one of the bartenders. So of course I had to hang out with them a bit once the dinner part of the evening was over, and somehow that meant a trip to the grocery store to buy a foot-long sub that was actually 14 inches (I called it “the baker’s foot”—I am such a card) and a 12-pack of Coca-Cola. For Jason, that is. I still had my lasagna leftovers.
  4. SLEPT. Ahh.
  5. Relaxing Saturday morning and early afternoon of household stuff. Never used to relax me, now I find it enormously satisfying. Damned adulthood.
  6. A complete reset of my TiVo, which had been doing Spanish-language and cooking shows again, but oddly, no Spanish-cooking shows. Also insisted it was out of program info as of yesterday even though the listings actually ran through the 18th. The little TiVo dude may be cute and cuddly, but damn if I don’t want to slap the shit out of him sometimes.
  7. Lovely happy hour and dinner with Julie Anne at Bell Street Diner on the Seattle waterfront. Watched some cruise ships pull away, watched some drama with a whole passel of Seattle Fire Department trucks and personnel including divers for a water rescue that wasn’t actually necessary. Also a lot of BYU fans who were just pleased as non-alcoholic punch by their football team’s one-point victory over the Washington Huskies, though the one set of blue-wearing jackasses on our left did spend a good part of their meal whining about how the Cougars beat the Huskies by “only” one point, woe are they, their team is better than that! The one guy ordered the salmon pot pie, which Julie Anne hates and would normally warn persons she likes against ordering it. This BYU-fan numbnuts she encouraged to order it.
  8. Home by 21:00 Saturday so I had a nice evening of warm weather, lovely Seattle city views, and my new rope lights on the balcony to add a bit of ambience, and to blind me to the views of the closer neighborhood. Hadn’t quite thought that all the way through, but it works well enough for the light I actually want out there sometimes.
  9. SLEPT more. Ahhhhh.
  10. Woke up absurdly early, silly body getting used to the work schedule and holding me to it on the weekends. Drank 12oz Diet Coke, which seems like way TMI but is important a point or two down the line.
  11. Met Matt for coffee at Borders in Alderwood Mall. Twelve ounces of non-fat white chocolate mocha there (again, not really TMI, just wait for it), ahead of
  12. The 11:30 showing of The Dark Knight in Lynnwood, accompanied by roughly half of a 32oz (they call that “small”) Diet Coke at the theater, so that when the (3-hour!) movie was over
  13. I could barely stand up, my bladder was so stretched. RESTROOM EMERGENCY, I walked out of the theater bent over like Igor from Young Frankenstein, but I made it with no lasting ill effect. Ahhhhhhh.
  14. Late lunch with Matt in Edmonds at Anthony’s Beach Cafe, or Bell Street Diner North as I’ve decided to call it. Similar menu, similar waterfront experience (though the sandbox and screaming children added a whole level of Family Fun! to the meal), absolutely GORGEOUS afternoon.
  15. Home to wind down the weekend with a few more householdy things while I get into the mindset for my first full five-day work week in what seems like months, but is really only a few weeks, after the last few work weeks were shortened by holidays and visiting family.

Seems like such a more happenin’ life when it’s listed in 15 items like this, go figure.