Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mt Si photos

The view from atop Mt. Si:
08-BenchesTree

The two of us:
09-BenchesMarkChunlin

It was cold. Good thing I had extra clothing to share.

07-BenchesChunlinChristina

Partway up the hill, on the old trail:
03-SiRockChunlinChristina
My camera didn't have a wide enough angle lens, so this is two photos stitched together.

The camprobbers don't seem as aggressive when they're cold and wet.
06-BenchesCamprobber

More photos at flickr.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Red Rose

RedRoseOne

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tired of Al Gore, et al?

When next you have a spare hour (or maybe you should just make time), watch The Great Global Warming Swindle, from Britain's Channel 4.

If you hadn't guessed, it's a step-by-step refutation of the "global warming" hoax. With nifty graphics.

Why I Take the Window Seat

Some photos from between here and Spokane:

z-GlacierPeak
Glacier Peak, or . . . um . . . Mt. Tyler

s-RainierAdams
Mt. Rainier (Mt. Polk) with Mt. Adams beyond

t-SpokaneFields2
Fields southeast of Spokane, as we circled the airport due to ground equipment malfunction

v-ChelanColumbia
Lake Chelan and the Columbia River

I posted more on flickr. . .

Friday is upon us once again

Another week has reached its end. How quickly they fly by.

Yay! Three-day weekend!!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

51st State

Who should be the US of A's next state? Throughout history, there have been numerous suggestions. Some of them are so old, they were calling for the 49th state (or 14th state, depending!).

The big ones these days are New Columbia (Washington, D.C.), Puerto Rico, and Pacifica (a combination of Guam, Northern Marianas, and the currently independent countries of Palau, Micronesia, and Marshall Islands). Pacifica would have a population between Alaska and Wyoming and an area almost as big as Rhode Island. In other words, it would be small.

Other foreign countries with citizens calling for admission to the United States are the Phillipines, Guyana, Taiwan, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sicily (in 1944).

A hundred years ago, the Phillipines were a territory of the US (thanks to the Spanish-American War). That was back when the US was much more expansionist than it is today (in terms of direct governance). In 1935, the islands gained commonwealth status, followed by independence in 1946. Some people in the Phillipines would like their country to rejoin the US, as three separate states, based upon the major island groupings.

350,000 Guyanese currently reside in the United States. 751,000 still live in Guyana. They're joining the US whether you like it or not!

From Wikipedia: "A recent poll conducted in Taiwan showed that 15% of the people, when asked about where the future of Taiwan lay, believed that it should try to become the 51st state of the United States of America."

Some potential internal 51st states:

Denizens of New York City and Upstate New York have both discussed separating from the other, as have Chicago and southern Illinois.

Southern Oregon and far northern California have been calling themselves the State of Jefferson for a long time now, even going to far as to set up highway checkpoints back in 1941.

Eastern Washington and the Idaho Panhandle have been proposed as a State of Lincoln, or Columbia, or Columbiana, or just Eastern Washington.

Way back in the 1700s, Knoxville and the surrounding counties in Tennessee and North Carolina declared themselves the State of Franklin, but Congress didn't act on it. Tennessee's constitution, though, does reflect the sentiment by establishing three Grand Divisions with specific legal ramifications. The eastern Grand Division roughly matches Franklin.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula has often called for separation, sometimes including adjacent counties from Wisconsin. I've heard this proposed state called Superior or Wilderness.

Some denizens of Cincinnati's Kentucky suburb counties as well as Louisville have suggested a State of Northern Kentucky.

And of course, there's California.

If we take all these proposals, we'll have many more than 51 states. We'd have 84. Wouldn't that be fun? We might as well annex Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and the whole rest of the world, while we're at it. . .

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mount J.Q. Adams

Where is Mt. J.Q. Adams, you ask? Why, it exists in the mind of a man long dead, one Mr. Hall J. Kelley.

He was a proponent of American settlement of Oregon way back in the early 1800s. In 1835, he proposed renaming the big volcanos of "Oregon and High California" to honor our presidents.

I guess he never traveled further north than Portland, since he starts with Mt. St. Helens being renamed Mt. Washington.

Here's a list of his proposal from a USGS webpage:

Territory of Oregon and High California, by Hall J. Kelley, 1834-35 -- map courtesy College of the Siskiyous Online Map Collection, 2002

"Mt. Washington" (Mount St. Helens)
"Mt. Adams (Mount Hood)
"Mt. Jefferson (Mount Jefferson)
"Mt. Madison" (Three Sisters)
"Mt. Monroe" (Diamond Peak)
"Mt. J. Q. Adams" (Mount McLoughlin)
"Mt. Jackson" (Mount Shasta)
So back to the original question: Where is Mt. J.Q. Adams? Well, where is Mt. McLoughlin, for that matter? Answer: very southern Oregon. It's a cone similar in shape to Mt. Hood.

Here's a map of the Cascade volcanos.

Andrew Jackson was president at the time of this proposal. If the government accepted this proposal, we couldn't have continued much further southward with new presidents. Lassen Peak would have been Mt. Van Buren, and then what?

Note also that Mt. Adams hadn't been discovered by the Americans at this point. A map-maker who liked Kelly's idea misplaced Mt. Hood on the wrong side of the Columbia River, accidentally locating it almost exactly where another volcano existed. When it was discovered a few years later, the name stuck.

A volcanic Mt. Washington now exists in Oregon, between Mt. Jefferson and Three Sisters, which would be completely out of order.

Maybe we should start back at the northern border for new presidents:

Mt. Baker would be Mt. Harrison.
Glacier Peak would be Mt. Tyler.
Mt. Rainier would be Mt. Polk.
Mt. Adams (or Mt. Hood) would be Mt. Taylor.
Three-Fingered Jack would be Mt. Fillmore.
Mt. Washington would be Mt. Pierce.
Broken Top would be Mt. Buchanan.
Mt. Bachelor would be Mt. Lincoln.
Mt. Bailey would be Mt. Johnson.
Mt. Thielsen would be Mt. Grant.

Or not.

American Idol

How many times did you vote for Jordin Sparks?

I didn't bother counting, but I'd guess I dialed over twenty times. Thirty or forty, perhaps. I was phoning while I watched television.

Speaker, Redial, "Hi, this is Jor--", Speaker. Speaker, Redial, "Hi, this is Jor--", Speaker. Speaker, Redial, "Hi, this is Jor--", Speaker. Speaker, Redial, "Hi, this is Jor--", Speaker. Speaker, Redial, "Hi, this is Jor--", Speaker. Speaker, Redial, "Hi, this is Jor--", Speaker. . . .

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mansfield

On my way back from Spokane this afternoon, I spotted this town from the sky:



It's Mansfield, Washington. Out in the middle of the open plains, they built their city at an angle, shoved into the corner of a square-mile section.

Why?

The railroad, of course, which forms the hypotenuse of town and then apparently turns due east, although I couldn't spot it alongside the highway.

Mansfield also looks incredibly cramped, given the broad expanse of farmland surrounding it.



Right smack dab in the middle of Douglas County, it is.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wedding Invites

Less than a third of our invitees have responded. The wedding is less than six weeks away. How variable are their lives? Can they not plan that far in advance? Or did they forget about our wedding shortly after receiving the invitation? It's been a month or so since we sent them out.

On the invite, I asked them to "kindly please respond" by May 25, this Friday. Perhaps we'll get a slew of them this week. Who knows.

But if people don't reply back in a timely fashion, is it proper etiquette to call them up and tell them that they better not come to the wedding because there won't be a chair or food for them?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Joys of Gardening

It's Springtime!

BackyardRedRose
Bloom, rose, bloom! This one looks like a muppet to me. It's got Kermit the Frog's collar.

We don't do anything for these roses, and yet they blossom.
FrontyardPinkRoseOne

VasePinkRoseThree

We transplanted some irises a month ago. *Somebody* told us they wouldn't bloom because it was too late in the season. But what do you know? Add sunlight and water and look what you get:
BackyardIrisOne

BackyardIrisTwo

BackyardIrisTwoDown

And here are some flowers I don't know the name of. We water these occasionally, because we planted them just a month ago.
FrontyardPurpleFlower

FrontyardPinkFlower
Pretty, huh?

A few more roses, to close out the show:
FrontyardPinkRoseTwoOne

FrontyardPinkRoseTwo

BackyardBurgundyRose

Friday, May 18, 2007

Ow

I think I just broke my toe.

I banged my foot into the wheel of my chair as I was getting up. My "ring" toe is still in pain. I think it's swelling up.

I've never broken a bone (of mine) before.

Woe is me.

First Wedding Gift

Is it proper protocol to open wedding presents as soon as they arrive on the doorstep? We got a box today with a pair of wrapped gifts inside (and lots of polystyrene peanuts). Judging against what Macy's says people have purchased, I think it's glasses. So are we allowed to open it up and use them?

Another thing: nowhere does it say who the gift is from. The return address is Macy's. How are we supposed to know who got us what? How can we send a thank-you card? Surely whoever bought them expected Macy's to include a card letting us know his or her name. But they didn't.

So if you or anyone you know bought us glasses, make sure to tell us, okay? Otherwise, don't expect a thank-you.

Diet Coke with Lime

I haven't drunk a carbonated beverage in the past week and a half.

Should I have a Diet Coke today?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Architectural Dreams

What kind of place do your dreams take place in?

More often than not, mine involve staircases. Sometimes they're concrete and steel, like in a parking garage. Sometimes they're carpet and polished wood, like at a fancy lodge.

Oftentimes, the stairs lead to very tight spaces that I have to squeeze through to continue my journey. Other times (especially in the industrial concrete stair towers), they lead up to handrail-less portions where I have to jump to the next landing over a bottomless chasm.

In the warm, comfortable lodge setting, the stairs often penetrate straight through bedrooms, criss-crossing here and there, as if each level of the hotel/dorm/lodge is a series of skinny bedrooms connected end-to-end by open doorways horizontally and open stairwells vertically. Curiously, the stairs are rarely spiral.

These dreams always have other people in them. In the dorm/lodge version, everybody else goes about their daily business while I race up, down, across, up, and down again. Am I searching for something? Am I running away from something? I don't know.

In the parking garage/industrial version, most of the other people in the dream are climbing the stairs with me. And we only go up. It has a definite feel as if we're escaping something. Once, I remember that we emerged onto a rooftop into the daylight. People were on the green lawn below, going about their business. Buildings across the street, just a normal day. ... Or was there a gunfight going on? It's hard to remember.

Long ago, these strange stair dreams often took place at my great-aunt Ethel's house, but not anytime recently. I recall secret staircases in the basement, just barely large enough to climb through, that would emerge on the second floor. Go down one and back up another.

I mention all of this because I read a post at Bldg Blog about such things. More specifically, about dreams of hidden rooms within apartments/houses:

A friend of mine once told me about the "typical dream of a New Yorker," as he described it, wherein a homeowner pushes aside some coats and sweaters in the upstairs closet... only to reveal a door, and, behind that, another room, and, beyond that, perhaps even a whole new wing secretly attached to the back of the house...

Always fantasizing about having more space in Manhattan.

And so I was thinking today that you could go around Manhattan with a microphone, asking people who have had that dream to describe it, recording all this, live, for the radio – or you ask people who have never had that dream simply to ad lib about what it might be like to discover another room, and you ask them to think about what kind of room they would most like to discover, tucked away inside a closet somewhere in their apartment.

What additions to space do the people of New York secretly long for?
I know I definitely wished for more space when I lived in Manhattan! A bedroom of my own, perhaps, or a real kitchen. How about a solarium?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Boxes Are My Friends

I like boxes. Boxes are my friends. It pains me dearly to every dispose of a box, unless it no longer is capable of holding its shape or its cargo.

I even like empty boxes. I store them under my desk at work. I stack them one inside another and pile them in my garage at home.

Empty boxes are the ultimate in the "you never know" mentality. You never know if you might need a box just that size tomorrow, next week, next month. It could be for anything. Containing a stack of loose-leaf paper for delivery, carrying some food to a potluck, storing mementos for long periods, or disguising a Mothers Day or Christmas present.

Empty boxes are beautiful in their universial usefulness.

I'm a bit of a pack rat, so throwing anything away can be difficult for me, but oftentimes the object in question has no merit. It has no purpose in life, other than a tenuous connection to a memory of days gone past.

Boxes, though, are all about the future. They will become useful and necessary in your future. You will need a box sometime soon.

And so I collect them, waiting for that day.

Don't worry, little cardboard box. Your day will come. Your day will come.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oh My Goodness!

What's that behind you?

Look out!!!

Sotosoroto's Rule of TV Viewing

Wait until the end of the season before watching any new programs.
That way, you won't have the heartbreak of losing a show so soon after you became interested and emotionally involved.

You wait till the chaff falls away, then watch the best shows as they rise to greatness.

I've tuned in for the season finale of Jericho and the last couple episodes of Heroes, both really good, interesting shows.

I also tuned in for the last couple episodes of Survivor: Fiji. I know it's not a new show, but Survivor can still get rather boring in the middle. Best to wait till the end to tune in, but only if something interesting is happening.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Small-Town Desert

Part I of my novel is all posted. You should go read it.

This draft looks like it will be 700 pages +/-. Maybe it will need to be two books, eventually: One Day in a Small Town Desert: Parts I-IV and One Day in a Small Town Desert: Parts V-VIII. Kinda like "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" by Pink Floyd.

It would have nice symmetry that way. One book out, one book in. Not that I expect anybody to understand what I mean by that...

Where did those drawings go?

Have you seen them?

They were here on Friday. And now they're gone. My desk isn't *that* messy that I'd lose them for very long. Who would walk off with such things?

Weird.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Nevada, part 2

Our last day of our April vacation. We didn't leave the unincorporated town of Paradise, Nevada, until our 10 p.m. flight that night.

Aladdin (Planet Hollywood) Hotel, Casino, & Shopping Mall:
4b2-AladdinPoolMarkFootCh
(Chunlin's photo above)

Aladdin (Planet Hollywood) Hotel, Casino, & Shopping Mall:
4b7-AladdinMallDrink

Aladdin (Planet Hollywood) Hotel, Casino, & Shopping Mall:
4b12-AladdinMallChunlinChristina

New York, New York Hotel & Casino:
4b14-MGMGrandNewYorkNewYork

Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino:
4c2-MonteCarloFountain

Bellagio Hotel & Casino:
4c14-BellagioFountain

And the rest of the photos are on flickr. Well, at least the ones that I decided to post. Many more that you don't get to see. ... Not that you'd want to see all those. They're not as good. That's why I didn't post them.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mothers Day

As long as I have the RvB season 2 dvd in the player, I might as well transcribe something more.

A public service announcement from Red vs Blue:

SARGE: Why, hello! I'm Sarge from the popular web series, Red vs Blue.

TUCKER: And I'm Private Tucker.

SARGE: We're here to talk to you about a very special event happening this weekend for many women -- maybe even one you know!

TUCKER: That's right! This Saturday is Ladies' Night at the Rusty --

SARGE: Aaah... Actually, Tucker, I was talking about Mothers Day.

TUCKER: What? Oh. Dammit.

SARGE: I know a lot of kids out there are probably wondering what to get their ma on this special day.

TUCKER: Not me. She was a dirty tramp.

SARGE: That explains a lot.

TUCKER: Finding the right gift for your mom might be difficult.

SARGE: When giving a gift on Mothers Day, try to remember that your ma is a unique and special person--

TUCKER: Whore.

SARGE: That can mean going the safe route might not always be so safe.

TUCKER: Why, whatever do you mean, Sarge?

SARGE: Let's take a look at an example. Grif and Simmons have politely agreed to help us demonstrate by performing a little skit.

GRIF: I don't want to do this!

SIMMONS: What are you complaining about? You got the easy part. I'm the one wearing pantyhose under my armor because Sarge believes in method acting.

SARGE: Don't you two make me come over there. Now get to demonstrating!

GRIF: [sigh] Mother, I love you because you violently squeezed me out of your womb. Here are some flowers I bought for you at a flower place. Happy Offical Day for Mothers.

SIMMONS: Worthless daughter, how could you be so thoughtless? You know I am allergic to flowers. Also, you are adopted and I never loved you. I will now send you to live in shame with a robot foster family.

SARGE: Whoa nelly! That didn't go very well at all!

TUCKER: Flowers seem like the perfect gift, because they are pretty and boring, like most women, but that plan sure backfired.

SARGE: Now, let's take a look at what happens when you go to a little extra effort.

TUCKER: Take it away, Donut and Caboose!

DONUT: Hello, son. How are you.

CABOOSE: Sheila? ... I mean "Mother?" Because it is Mothers Day and I love you so, I made you a very ugly coffee mug in shop class today.

DONUT: Oh, thank you, my son. Where is it?

CABOOSE: I left it at school. Also, it is broken.

DONUT: Thank you, my child. You always think of the perfect thing to do for me.

CABOOSE: I spent my allowance on Yu-Gi-Oh trading cards and meat-flavored bubble gum.

DONUT: My angel.

SARGE: Aaaand scene. So now you see how the personal touch is what really makes all the difference when selecting a Mothers Day gift.

TUCKER: What? That last gift didn't make sense, whatsoever!

SARGE: Exactly.

TUCKER: This is retarded. I'm leaving.

SARGE: Remember, kids: You only have one mother -- unless you come from a progressive home like Donut's -- so be good to her on Mothers Day. And now, for those of you who still don't have any good gift ideas, here's a list of Sarge-approved items you might want to consider:

[very quick text on screen:

Extra-bendy Cactus
Exotic Flightless Bird
Undercarriage Washer
Dispenser of Goodies
Yoga-tizing Spatula
Mutant Goblin
Argentine Man-Servant
Space Goo (or similar)
Fractal Misnomer
Rhinoplasty
Donkeyplasty
Nastyplasty
Old Shoe Horn
Old Horn
New Shoe
Smaller Crawdads
Sandbox (with box)
Transparent Ding-Gong
Articulated Thing
Round One (or likewise)
Extras
Candy with Tips
Sonambulent Honkie
Misguided Dobro
Banjo Spaceship
Parachutes and Fishes
Tu Blave
Macchu Picchu
Most Postacio
Mustafa Portencio
Claven (sans nuts)
Shanks (all types)
Wind Samples
Mutton
Extraordinary Slorf
Fineries]

SARGE: Happy Mothers Day!

DONUT: Hey, wait a minute! It's over already? I didn't even get a chance to breastfeed anyone! Oh, man. My nipples are already lactating!

Happy Mothers Day, everyone! And especially you, Mom! I'm going to see if I can get some mutton for you. Or maybe a mutant goblin...

Quote of the Whatever

It's a bit crass, but it brings a smile every time...

From Red vs Blue, season 2:

DOC: I joined the army as a conscientious objector.

TUCKER: A consci-- who?

DOC: I'm a pacifist.

CABOOSE: You're a thing that babies suck on?

TUCKER: No, dude. That's a pedophile.

CHURCH: Tucker, I think he means a pacifier.

TUCKER: Oh, yeah. Right. Man, I was totally thinking about something else.

CHURCH: That's real classy, Tucker.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Terraformed Mars

Today, I discovered a rendition of a terraformed Mars, created by Daein Ballard:



Cool, huh? Note the Vallis Marineris, filled up with water.

The ocean level almost exactly matches what I have envisioned for my terraformed Mars in the alternate reality for my novels. Of course, in those, the terraformation is by magic, so the atmosphere wouldn't be as tall as in this picture. The planet would magically have more gravity, see?

The large area north of Vallis Marineris, and heading west to the night side, is the nation of Sarıma in my alternate reality. Forests up in the northern part, deserts in the south, port cities all around. The western part of Sarıma can be seen in this next pseudo-photo, which also shows the Tharsis Montes:



And here's one more Daien created, showing the transition from the current Mars to the terraformed Mars:



He has many more pictures, including some of a terraformed Moon (although most are imaginary worlds) at Lego Quisquilarium.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Arizona

From way back in early April, a drive across northwestern Arizona produced these photos, plus more:

Little Colorado River Gorge:
3a6-LittleColoradoGorgeMarkScreamCh
(Chunlin's photo above)

Desert View, Grand Canyon National Park:
3a12-DesertViewTowerChristinaChunlin

Moran Point, Grand Canyon National Park:
3b7-MoranPtAyerPtShadow

Powell Point, Grand Canyon National Park:
3b26-PowellPointDanaButte

Pima Point, Grand Canyon National Park:
3b35-PimaPtOsirisTemple

Mather Point, Grand Canyon National Park:
3b42-MatherPtVishnuTemple

Hoover Dam:
3b51-HooverDamShadows

Northgate Mall Parking Garage

It's been over a week since I've walked to the mall for lunch. But today I did, and lo and behold, what did I discover? The parking garage is open for use!

It's only been under construction for, what, fourteen months?

It has a bridge to the food court on the third level, if you're averse to climbing stairs.

A few drivers had found the garage, but it was mostly empty, unlike the rest of the parking lots, which are full within a hundred yards of the entrances.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Utah+

I had a few photos that I didn't get posted on flickr last night. They're from the same Utah day, but the photos are actually taken in Arizona. They're all on flickr now, if you care to look. But here's a taste:

Cliff Dwellers Lodge, Arizona:
2e12-SoapCreekCarMushroom

Tselgiizhil, Arizona:
2e21-Tselgiizhil
Curiously, the USGS maps for this bit of land disagree as to the peak's name. The 7.5' quadrangle calls it Tselgiizhil, but the 15' quadrangle calls it Tsetgiizhii. The 7.5' map was made a year after, so I guess it's correct...

Utah

Just in case you're not one of the people who regularly drop by my flickr page to see if I've posted any new photos, here are some from our early-April vacation to the Southwest. Or more particularly, from April 7, mostly in Utah (with a bit in Arizona).

Court of the Patriarchs, Zion National Park:
2a10-MtMoroniJacobCathedralMtn

Temple of Sinewava, Zion National Park:
2b7-TempleOfSinewavaTrees

The Narrows, Zion National Park:
2c11-NarrowsGorgeHikers

Virgin River, Zion National Park:
2c15-VirginRiverMarkCh
(Chunlin's photo above)

Virgin River, Zion National Park:
2c16-VirginRiverSun

Zion Lodge, Zion National Park:
2c34-ZionLodgeChristinaChunlin

Pine Creek, Zion National Park:
2d12-PineCreekRocksTrees

House Rock Valley, Arizona:
2e1-HouseRockValley

And there's almost a hundred more photos from that day on flickr. I tried to cull it down. I really tried!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Yay, Sarko!

Just when you thought Europe (and especially France) had gone over the edge and were beyond salvation, the French go and elect a pro-American president!

I just hope that the parliamentary elections in a month go the same way. Otherwise, he might have trouble getting his reforms enacted.

Everything I've read about the French government's stranglehold on businesses and "tolerance" for criminals has left me utterly devoid of hope for the French people. But just maybe, they've seen the results of those cushy liberal policies and have realized their country needs an abrupt change of direction.

Britain's having an election soon, too, right? Go Tories!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Annette Lake

Ah, good ol' Annette Lake. Fourth time there for me. First time was when I was six years old, so it can't be all too difficult of a hike, right?

All I really remember from that hike way back when was that I was in a real "I don't wanna!" mood when we returned home. Tired and pouting. I wouldn't even pose for photographs.

Yesterday, the trail was covered in snow everywhere above 2900' elevation -- which is less than halfway up to the lake. Needless to say, it slowed us down quite a bit. What should have taken us a bit over an hour took two full hours. Add in a late start, and we didn't get home till after six o'clock.

Actually, I tried to go over to Mt Margaret, but we didn't even make it up to the trailhead because there was too much snow on the road. That and a snowmobile-hauling pickup with trailer blocking the road where the snow began.

1-HumpbackCreekClose

4-SnowTrailChunlin

7-AnnetteLkAbielPk

12-AnnetteLkMark

14-HumpbackMtnTrees

16-HumpbackCrChunlinClose

More photos at flickr, as usual.