Sunday, January 28, 2007

Day 4 - Auckland

Another computer where I can't upload photos. Bummer. The USB ports on these don't work, they say. At a hostel in downtown Auckland, right beneath the SkyTower. That's a tall tower. Good view from up there. Too cloudy for a proper sunset, though. Oh well. We saw the city in day and night from atop, yesterday evening.

This place reminds me of California, without the Spanish influence. Chunlin said it's too cold (upper 60s) and not enough palm trees for California; must be Seattle. But I saw palm trees.

A San Francisco vibe, of sorts, with a heavy Chinese influence -- in this neighborhood, at least. Certainly not a Chinatown, but still we found a sushi restaurant run by Chinese speakers. And hills and fog rolling in off the harbour. A big, spread out place.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Day 3 - Nadi

Bula! Greetings from Fiji!

Our two flights so far were uneventful. Even managed to sleep on the trans-oceanic flight from LA to here. When we arrived at 5:30 yesterday morning, we caught a taxi to show us around town and drive us the hour south to our hotel. Natadola Beach Resort. Highly recommended. Huge room - bigger than my condo! And the pounding of the surf shakes the bed.

Walk along the white-sand beach. Local kids frolicking in the turquoise surf. (Sorry, no photos from this computer.) Bright blue sky, sun almost directly overhead. Hot. Humid. Reminds me of Houston. Very warm ocean. Warmer than the swimming pool at the hotel. The kids swam in it all day, for it was Saturday. The men played volleyball and rugby on the beach. The women sat in the shade of the trees. It was nice under the trees, with the cooling breeze off the ocean. Smart women.

Heavy rainstorms in the evening, pounding the roof down, just about.

The colorful Hindu temple here in Nadi is in the middle of a festival. Worshippers circle the temple (the largest Hindu temple in the Southern Hemisphere) several times, with flames and fruit carried, then go inside. Or inside one of the small side temples. Bright colors everywhere. Incense in the air. Flaming butter pats on coconuts. . .

Lush forests, farmlands. Goats and cows and horses roam freely. But this is the dry side of the island. Pine trees up in the hills, the halfway point between Nadi and Natadola. Christian natives, Hindus (and Muslims) from India. Churches and temples and mosques. The coup friction is a world away in Suva. But even so, it feels like the groups merely tolerate each other, not integrate with each other.

The native Fijian men wear straight skirts when they dress up to go to church. With shirt and tie.

Did I mention this place is as hot and sticky as Houston? Yeah, I think I did. It's summer here. The low season when it comes to tourism.

Chunlin says hi!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Day 1 - Seattle

I think I've used this post title before. . .

I'm all packed and ready to go - and that's just my desk stuff at work! Yup, while I'm on vacation, I'm switching desks. So all my drawings and things are boxed up with my name on them. I'll find out the location of my new desk when I get back. Hopefully still by a window, but you never can tell if you're not there to say anything!

It's about time for me to go home, gather my belongings into the two backpacks, do one last go-over, and head to the airport. Well, actually, I still have three hours before we drive away. I'm sure I can find something to do to keep myself busy.

I wore a Hawaiian shirt to work today, just to rub it in everybody's noses that I'm going on vacation today. Mwa-ha-ha! But I'm not taking this shirt with me. I don't want any photographic evidence of me wearing it. . .

I don't know how often I'll get/take the chance to post in the next two weeks. But please stop by every now and then in the off chance that I post some wonderful photographs that will make you jealous. Okay?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sunshine came softly through my window today. . .

It's so nice and warm and sunny and blue-sky-y, I almost feel like I'm on vacation in the summery southern hemisphere already.

Alas, no. I still have work to do.


Are You Packed Yet?

'Cause I am. Mostly. A few things remain outside my bags. Shaver, camera, drivers license, knife, watch, that sort of thing. I'm taking my big green backpack and my orange daypack. You know, these:


My green pack is fairly empty, but it ties down well. I've figured out how to tuck in all the straps, too. It will be useful on our backpacking trip next Wednesday/Thursday. No tent to carry, but I'll have two sleeping bags. I offered Chunlin my orange pack for the backpacking trip.

I don't know what Chunlin is using as luggage...

I'm tired right now, but still excited to be leaving soon. Just put me on a plane and wake me up when we get to Fiji. I want to leave now!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Photo Phun!

Here are some photographs from my business trip to Minneapolis last Thursday/Friday. I'm getting kinda slow in posting these things, aren't I?

The plane broke through the cloud layer and banked to present me with this view of Mt Rainier:

A bit later, looking mostly backwards into the sun, a nicer shot with the mountain:

Then it got cloudy and mountainless, so I fell asleep. I woke up for the sunset, though:

The next day, I was at the Minneapolis airport when the sun went down:

I didn't have a window seat on the way back. )-:

And just for fun, here's a couple shots from a week ago in Bellevue:

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sacre Bleu!

From the repository of all knowledge ever known, Wikipedia:

Sacrebleu is an old French swearword, meant as a cry of surprise or anger. It would be equivalent to gosh or by Jove.

In French, sacrebleu or sacredieu is always written as one word without accent, the 'e' in the middle being pronounced like a faint and short 'eu' (ə). In English though, the phrase is often written with two words sacre bleu.

Most likely, it comes from old blasphemous curses relating to God, used from the late Middle-Age (some are attested as early as the 12th century) to the 14th at the latest, with many variants: morbleu or mordieu, corbleu, palsambleu, jarnidieu, tudieu, respectively standing for mort [de] Dieu (God's death), corps [de] Dieu (God's body), par le sang [de] Dieu (by God's blood, the two latters possibly referring to the Eucharistic bread and wine), je renie Dieu (I deny God), tue Dieu (kill God)... Those curses may be compared to the old english [God']sdeath, sblood, struth or zounds (God's wounds).

They were considered so offensive that Dieu was sublimated into the neutral syllable bleu which sounds similarly, but doesn't mean anything in that case.

The verb sacrer has several meanings, including to crown, to anoint, and nowadays to name someone [champion, best actor, etc]. But here, it's probably the old meaning, rarely used in France but more common in French Canada, of swear, curse. Therefore, sacrebleu would be in modern French je sacre par Dieu and in English I curse by God.

Some think that the value of the word blue is used to designate the blue of the vein. As opposed to an artery, carrying red blood, a vein is flowing back to the hart. Deoxygenated blood is to represent the empty or evil. "Sacre bleu" is any omen of bad news or schocking ill fortune.

Nowadays those words are totally obsolete in French, unless you want to sound "mediaeval" or "classical". Nevertheless, they are still in the modern dictionaries.

It is often considered in the English-speaking world as a quintessential French phrase. Written with two words (sacre bleu!), it has been popularized by Agatha Christie's belgian hero Hercule Poirot.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I Win!

Chunlin must've given me all her luck. We went to the Bellevue Home Show last weekend, and each filled out several slips for prize drawings.

She hasn't won anything, but I've now won a home stereo system, three nights accommodation in Oregon or B.C., a Lake Washington champagne cruise, and a home security/fire alarm system.

I told the alarm system guy that I'd be selling my current home soon. He said it could wait till my new place.

The catch on the stereo, hotel, and boatride is that I have to go sit through a 90-minute spiel about a resort travel agency timeshare (and pay for travel/food for the three-night trip). The catch on the alarm system is that I'd have to pay for monitoring (about $400/year).

But then again, I don't really need monitoring if just the system itself (and a sign out front) will deter burglars, now do I? After all, the man on the phone said homes with systems are 1,500% less likely to be burgled. So it doesn't really matter if anyone's listening, if no one is going to break in!

I wonder what percentage of those entered win prizes? I'd guess 100% for the timeshare. . .

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Happy Snow and Ice Day!

Thank You, O glorious Vítí, great goddess of all that is wet and very cold, for leaving us finally on this, Your holy day!

We appreciate the beauty of Your handiwork upon the landscape, but it sure does mess up our day-to-day routines. So cunning of You!


I hear that other parts of the kingdom are now receiving Your blessings. I'm sure they appreciate Your wonderfulness, as well, if not for the deaths and millions of dollars of damage. . .

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fun Snow!

It's good compacting snow for snowballs and snowmen. So, if you don't have anything urgent this morning (and you live in the Seattle area), get outside and play!

I made a snowman, but only a short one. Barely 3' tall. I didn't have gloves. Always wear good gloves when handling frozen objects.

Back when I was a teenager, I rolled a 4'-diameter snowball at my parents house. I left it in the middle of the driveway. A couple days later, it was the only snow around. It was still 3' in diameter. It had either slid or been pushed to the bottom of the hill. Probably pushed.

If I remember correctly, I wore gloves when I made that giant snowball, but not long pants.

Monday, January 15, 2007

This Isn't Cold

I'll be business tripping to Minneapolis later this week. According to the weather channel, they'll have a high of 16 degrees F on Friday, low of 8. But that's better than tonight's low of -4. It's a good thing I'm getting used to highs in the low 30s. I might survive the week.

Where's my balaclava?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Carbon! Carbon! Carbon!

Carbon dioxide contributes to a quarter of 1% of the earth's greenhouse effect. But for some reason, Environmentalists want to blame it (and thus humankind) for "Global Warming."

The problem with this is that there is no correlation between the rate of increase of carbon dioxide in the atomosphere with the rate of increase/decrease of the air temperature.

So is there anything that correlates with the air temperature? Why, sure! It's the sun. When the sun emits more heat, the earth's air warms up.

Seems simple enough, if you ask me.

But why, then, is the carbon dioxide level going sky high? Surely that's caused by humankind!

Alas, no. There's a long-term correlation between air temperature and carbon dioxide, but the carbon dioxide increases/decreases a few hundred years after the temperature. Yeah, you heard me. The Environmentalists have their cause and effect completely switched.

Note that the time scale is in 1000s of years. Between red lines is approximately 100,000 years.
If the carbon dioxide is rising quickly right now, was there a corresponding air temperature increase a few hundred years ago?

Yes. The earth was just then beginning to come out of the "Little Ice Age."

So what does it all mean? Will humankind destroy the planet by driving SUVs? My answer: nah, probably not.

(ht: Moonbattery)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Today at Lunch

I took a little walk to the park near my office, Thornton Creek Park. Actually, I was walking to the mall to get food, camera in hand, but I was visually pulled to the park. Trees, snow, sunshine.





Oh wait. That last one's from our snowshoeing hike last Saturday. . .

I thought it was rather sad (but not surprising) that Seattle schools were closed today, with only two inches of snow on the ground in the morning (and bare streets in the afternoon), but I learned that West Seattle received more than six inches. So maybe it's reasonable for them to close.

Lots of teenagers killing time at the mall today, though!

And Now, Some Music

To the tune of Dolly Parton's "Jolene":

Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin
I'm begging of you, please come take my hand
Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin
Please take it and let me be your man

Your beauty is beyond compare
With flowing locks of raven hair
Your voice is like a forest in the Spring

With skin so smooth and eyes of brown
Your smile lifts me off the ground
And I cannot resist you, Chunlin

I dream about you in my sleep
There's nothing I can do to keep
From grinning when you call my name, Chunlin

And I could easily understand
How you could easily have any man
But you don't know what you mean to me, Chunlin

Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin
I'm begging of you, please come take my hand
Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin
Please take it and let me be your man

You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
You're the only one for me, Chunlin

I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do, Chunlin

Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin
I'm begging of you, please come take my hand
Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin
Please take it and let me be your man

Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin
I'm begging of you, please come take my hand
Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin, Chunlin
Please take it and let me be your man

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It's Snowing!

The snow storm that was supposed to hit at 10 p.m. last night is finally here. A few flakes flurrying about, more sideways than down, followed by even more small flakes gusting down. It looks more like fog than snow. The trees the other side of the freeway are almost lost in the haze.

It's more than a mist, though. Can snow drizzle?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

We'll Trade Stanford for Boise State, Okay?

If I got to have my say in how NCAA conferences were run, Boise State would be playing football in the Pac-10 next year. In fact, so would Mountain West champions BYU.

It's part of my strategy of keeping the good teams playing the good teams. I've discussed it before, but I've modified it as a more reasonable beginning. I like to think of it as a Unified Western Conference, consisting of the Pacific 10, Western Athletic, and Mountain West conferences.

Sport by sport, the champions of the WAC and MWC would play in the Pac-10, starting the next year. The lowest two in the Pac-10 in each sport would get bumped down to make room.

For football, this means that Stanford and Washington would be in the WAC next year. Louisiana Tech would move from the WAC to the MWC to keep them even at nine apiece.

But don't worry, Husky fans. I'm sure the UW can whollop all the lowly WAC teams and rejoin the Pac-10 in 2008. After all, two of Washington's five wins were against WAC opponents this season. . .

Monday, January 08, 2007

Welcome to Adulthood!

On one of my calendars, today is Coming-of-Age Day (Japan). On another, today is Adults Day (Japan). The first name is a better translation. Today is the day when twenty-year-olds (the legal age of voting, drinking, etc.) dress up for ceremonies celebrating their ascension to adulthood. The new men wear suits. The new women wear traditional _furisode_ dresses.

In the past, Japanese boys became men at fifteen. Girls became women at thirteen. In 1876, though, twenty became the legal adulthood age.

In the U.S., a recent University of Chicago survey asked Americans when they thought adulthood started. The average answer was 26.

Physically, the fifteen/thirteen is probably closer to the truth. Emotionally, though, I'd say that these days even 26 is too early for a lot of people. . .

Too much coddling by parents/teachers/governments!

PS: Happy birthday, Elvis! And the rest of you, clean off your desk!

Things to Do This Year, in Chronological Order

Vacation in New Zealand
Plan Wedding & Reception
Take CSI CCS Professional Development Test
Move in with Chunlin
Sell Condo
Plan Honeymoon
Get Married
Go on Honeymoon
Buy New House
Move in to New House
Sell Chunlin's House

or maybe those last few go in the reverse order with a rental in between. . .

Friday, January 05, 2007

Now They Have Guns. It Must Be War.

Now the Mexican invaders are brandishing guns and overrunning border posts. And what did the National Guard stationed there do? Run away!

What kind of stupid policies are in effect that our guardsmen aren't allowed to guard our country? Isn't that what they're there for?

Or am I missing something?

(ht: Moonbattery and LGF)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I didn't write it. . . I just posted it.

Controversial statements for the sake of controversy, courtesy of IMAO's Frank J:

* It should be illegal for women to get abortions under any circumstances. Also, the federal government should be able to impregnate women whenever it feels like it.

* The only people who should pay taxes are the poor as punishment for how little they produce.

* Gays should be allowed to marry... if they promise to stop being gay.

* American Indians should be deported back to Russia.

* The only legitimate reason for war is a slow news cycle.

* Not only should all Americans be able to carry guns at all times, they must carry guns! Also, they must carry katanas because my country is not going to be a place vulnerable to ninja attacks.

* There should be a holiday to celebrate rich white men.

* The Jews are responsible for all wars... both real and those depicted in movies. Also, the Cola War is all about oil.

* Let's not say "genocide" like it's a bad thing.

* There's no time to check for papers; anyone Mexican-looking should be immediately deported... as well as anyone seen eating a burrito. Taco Bell employees should be deported as well.

* Instead of Iraq being controlled by different Islamic factions, the government should be handed over to the Scientologists.

* Maybe Bush should be more like Hitler.

* In order to moderate Islamic beliefs, all us critics must first convert to Islam.

* I'm glad the Crocodile Hunter is dead.

With a good addition in the comments by Remulak MoxArgon:

*A "Hot Chicks Only" immigration policy.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Polar Bears Just Fine, Thank You

Despite the UN and liberal Environmentalists around the world declaring that polar bears are threatened because of "Global Warming," the truth is that polar bear populations are growing in areas with warmer weather.

In regions such as Baffin Island, which is experiencing colder weather like neighboring Greenland, the polar bear populations are decreasing.

Therefore, if we really want to save the polar bears, we need to heat up the atmosphere world-wide!

If only there were a way for humans to affect the climate. . .

(ht: Moonbattery)

Do the Invaders Have to Carry Weapons for It to Be War?

If you needed more proof that the Mexican government is promoting and aiding the invasion of the United States by Mexican citizens, look no further.

Mexico is giving the invaders (ahem. . . illegal immigrants) satellite devices so they can call for help if caught in bad weather. Apparently the Mexican government's pamphlet on how to cross the border safely wasn't working well enough.

Can we please defend our border? Pretty please with sugar on top? Just a few soldiers. . .

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bellevue Lights

It's all over now, but here's a picture from a few days ago. The Bellevue Botanical Garden had lights on display, all done up to look like plants and animals. The rhododendrons had fake flowers of bundles of Christmas lights in them. Other plants were entirely lights. And a slug, and a frog, and a spider, and a . . .


Before that, we went to see Bellevue's Celebration Lane lights and music and bubble-snow show. Drummer girls handed out party horns, even though it was only December 30.

Aren't they cute?

Here's me:
Two horns are better than one!

More photos at Flickr.

92¢ and Time Spent

On New Year's Eve, whilst driving from a party to a fireworks viewing spot, I stopped at a stoplight, turn signal blinking. Suddenly, BUMP! A car hits us from behind.

I turn off my engine, get out, and walk to the back. The woman has reversed back and has her head out the window: "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"

I look at the bumper. No dent. I say, "There's no damage. Don't worry about it," and get back in my car.

(I should've gotten her insurance information, I know, but I didn't want to deal with it then.)

A couple blocks later, Chunlin wants to see the bumper herself. I stop and we look. I notice that the license plate light is broken. A bit of black plastic comes off in my hand. The light doesn't come on. Darn it, I think. Electrical problem. $100 deductible!

But we find a spot above I-5 with a great view of the Space Needle and watch the fireworks from the car. Chunlin is great luck to have around when looking for parking spaces, apparently. She was even better the next day, actually.

(Side note: Traffic flows better on streets with a lane each direction than on two-way, one-lane streets.)

Today, I went to a car parts store, took the broken light fixture out, removed the burnt-out bulb. The little bit of bumper frame between the two lights was dented slightly, an eighth of an inch at most from straight, maybe less. The broken light came out fine, but the non-broken one is stuck. Maybe with a screwdriver, I could remove it. I buy two lightbulbs. $1.85. They don't sell the fixtures, of course.

I put the new bulb in the fixture, shove the broken fixture back up in its slot, and turn on the lights. Both lights work, even the one that I couldn't remove. So now I have one bulb too many and nary a good spot to store it.

This morning, I was upset that I'd have to spend $100. Now I'm upset that I wasted 92¢.

Happy New Year

Back to work, back to old routines.

Back to getting up before sunrise. Blech. It's still quite dark outside, but that's probably due to clouds.

Twenty-three days till my next vacation. . .