Friday, August 31, 2007

Lakeland Annexations

I just realized that the annexation areas on the ballot last week for the unincorporated region between Federal Way and Auburn neatly follows the boundary between the two school district. The entire area, however, has Auburn addresses.

(Federal Way is a much newer city than Auburn. In fact, the US Post Office still lets you write "Auburn" as the city for all addresses in Federal Way!)

The Auburn area of the annexation vote passed, 57% to 43%. The Federal Way area(s) of the annexation vote failed, 66% to 34%.

They've been writing "Auburn" as their city for years, and Federal Way thought they could take them over? Not even being in Federal Way School District was enough to override that.

Maybe they should incorporate as their own city, Lakeland, like Fairwood has considered (Renton addresses, Kent School District). Too bad Lakeland is almost entirely cut in two by Federal Way and Auburn. Only the width of Peasley Canyon Road connects the two halves. Stranger things have happened, though. Look at Centennial, Colorado.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mixed Headlines

"City looks at ways to save Pollution in Budd Inlet"
"small, landmark buildings may cost more to clean"

. . . or was it supposed to be:

"City looks at ways to save
small, landmark buildings"


"Pollution in Budd Inlet
may cost more to clean"

The Daily Journal of Commerce needs to be careful when the squash two articles together. . .

The sun came out, finally.

82-Cape Disappointment Sunbeams
Sunset at Cape Disappointment, the mouth of the Columbia River, south of Long Beach, Saturday evening.

69-Cape Disappointment Sunset Kite
Still windy enough for kites, of course.

Before that, we visited Fort Columbia. It's on US 101, just before you get to the bridge to Oregon.
62-Chunlin Passageway
Pre-WWI battery that never was used, thankfully. They started upgrading it in WWII, but stopped before they installed the guns.

In 1993, the parks department shipped a pair of guns (of the WWII intended variety) over from Newfoundland.
58-Chunlin Fort Columbia Gun

Over the bridge in Astoria, it was a bit cloudy and rainy.
51-Chunlin Column Top
But we went to the top of the Astoria Column anyway.
48-Astoria Column Stairs

The clouds lifted eventually so we could see across the river to Washington, but barely.

And here's one more of my beautiful wife, watching the sunset at Cape Disappointment.
77-Chunlin Sunset Close

The rest of Saturday's photos can be seen on flickr. This is but a small sampling. Trust me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Ultimate ZIP Code Map

Google Maps with ZIP code overlay. Very cool.

At a regional level, it shows areas deliniated by the first three digits of the ZIP code. Zoom in further for a typical ZIP code map that you can pan across the entire country.

Sadly, some ZIP codes that comprise a sole building are non-functional on the map. Zoom in on Midtown Manhattan to see what I mean.


We made an offer on a house, Monday. Yesterday, we heard their answer: no.

Flat-out rejection.

No wiggle room. No counter-offer. No compromise.

We offered less than the asking price, but still well above the assessed value per the county. It wasn't completely unreasonable. But the sellers thought so.

Should we raise our offer a couple thousand and submit again? And if they reject it again, bump it up again? And if they reject it again, . . . Eventually they'll accept, right? It's been on the market two months. How long are they willing to wait?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Let's Go Fly a Kite

How many songs from Mary Poppins can you sing?

Why, there's "Let's Go Fly a Kite," which was the one that brought this to my attention on Saturday. And "A Spoonful of Sugar." And "Chim Chim Cher-ee."

And "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," of course.

"If I Were a Rich Man" isn't from Mary Poppins like I thought. It's from Fiddler on the Roof. But I bet you already knew that.

Let's Go Fly a Kite

Flying a kite in the rain isn't as fun as it sounds. The kite just doesn't fly very high or manoeuver well when it's drenched with water and covered in wet sand. For a few minutes, though, we had some fun. And before it started raining, we enjoyed the other kites in the Long Beach Kite Festival.
3-Many Kites

Huge spinning "crowns," anchored by SUVs:
28a-Crowns Ch
(Chunlin's photo above)
29-Crowns Wires

Look out! A dragon!

Is that a penguin? Since when do penguins fly?
9-Penguin Kite

But flying cats and pandas, well, that's okay:
7-Animal Kites

Teddy bears only fly when they have a parachute:
19a-Teddy Bear Crowd Ch
(Chunlin's photo above)

More photos of the non-kite variety have yet to be sorted, but when they do, they'll join the 39 kite-related photos on flickr.

Watch out! Rívorí is coming!!


O Rívorí, please don't destroy my home! O Rívorí, please don't destroy my city! O Rívorí, please don't kill my family! O Rívorí, please don't devestate my country! O Rívorí, please don't erupt any volcanos when I'm nearby!

O Rívorí, please do all that nasty stuff to my enemies!

Thank You!

The photo above is the crater dome in Mt. St. Helens, taken about ten years ago. Supposedly it has grown since then. I'll find out in a couple weeks when we climb the mountain again!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Food on the Run

My banana tried to run away, but I was quicker.

Don't worry. It's subdued now.

All Hail Mother Earth, the Goddess Kara!


All hail Mother Earth! Go plant a tree, till a field, smell the roses, or run your fingers through the dirt, because today is the Holy Day of Kara, Goddess of Soil (and oh, so much more!).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

New Zealand ATM Giving Extra Money

Down in Queenstown, a traveler discovered the ATM gave him twice as much money as he asked for -- $20s instead of $10s. What did he do next? He told his friends.

Some lucky backpackers in New Zealand have hit the jackpot thanks to an unusually generous ATM in the South Island ski resort of Queenstown.


A contractor mistakenly stacked $20 notes in the $10 box and vice versa and by the time authorities were alerted hours later, scores of visitors had cashed-in - some making dozens of withdrawals.

A bank spokesman says it is unlikely it will pursue them but it is arranging to reimburse the unlucky customers who got short-changed by the same mix-up.

When we were in Queenstown, I'm pretty sure we were withdrawing $50s. Those per-transaction fees can really add up if you're not careful!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Day at Sea

Life onboard ship can be kinda boring. No matter how many pounds of food they shovel down your throat, it's still quite easy to get cabin fever.

Not that you'll see that in these photos!

6d-Chunlin Sunset Close

6i-Mark Sunset

6m-Mark Chunlin Sunset Ship

6p-Chunlin Ocean Sunset


5l-Blackbeard's Tower Flags
5q-Blackbeard's Castle Statues
The top of Government Hill in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands has a bit of a pirate theme...

Nice view, though.
5n-Charlotte Amalie Carean Hill

Name that plant!
5ze-Haagensen House Tree

The happy couple and our boat:
5zu3-Chunlin Mark Crown Bay

5zze-West Gregerie Channel Boats
Goodbye, St. Thomas.

Goodbye, sun.
5zzn-Savanna Island Bird

Blog Post 1,203

Chunlin says I don't need a haircut.

Blog Post 1,202

I still need a haircut.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Blog Post 1,201

I need a haircut.

Monday, August 20, 2007

AL good, NL bad

In case you didn't know, the Seattle Mariners currently hold the Wild Card slot for the AL postseason. They're only a half game ahead of the Yankees, though, and 3.5 games ahead of the Tigers. The Red Sox, Indians, and Angels all hold their respective division leads, but the Mariners, Yankees, and Tigers are all close. The Twins have an outside chance of taking the Central, since they're only six games back. None of the other seven AL teams have any shot for the postseason, if you ask me.

In the NL, the Mets, Cubs, and Diamondbacks hold the division leads, with the Padres holding the Wild Card slot. The Phillies, Braves, Dodgers, Rockies, Brewers, and Cardinals are all within six games of the Padres. Of those, the Dodgers and Rockies are the only teams out of the running for their own divisions. The other six NL teams aren't worth mentioning.

In summary, seven out of the fourteen AL teams still have hopes, while ten out of the sixteen NL teams still have hopes. Why does the NL always seem to be mushier like this than the AL?

I like to divide MLB teams into "good," "average," and "bad" groupings based on winning percentage, with dividing lines of .450 and .550. The NL's only two good teams are the Mets and the Diamondbacks. They have five unmentionable bad teams. The AL's good teams are the Red Sox, Angels, Mariners, Yankees, and Indians. The AL only has four bad teams.

So the NL is -3 on average, while the AL is +1 on average. What's wrong with the NL this year?

America's Future?

Sex changes a 'constitutional right' in Brazil

Brazil's public health care system will cover the cost of sex-change operations, the Government said after a federal court ruled the procedure was a constitutional right.

To qualify for health care, the operation will first have to be approved by a panel of doctors, after appropriate psychological and medical evaluations are made of the patient, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The ruling issued late on Thursday by the Regional Federal Court of Porto Alegre, in the south, sided with the Public Ministry's argument that sexual reassignment surgery was a constitutional right, along with human dignity, equality, privacy and health care.

At Least I Don't Have to Water the Plants

Do you remember when I said it never rains in Seattle? Well, what I really meant was: it never rains in Seattle in the summer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pork is a vegetable.


What, you don't belive me? Would I lie to you? Of course not.

Just Forget the Words and Sing Along!

It's music time here at Royal Ramblings.

I was just about to mail a letter to my evil twin
When I got a nasty papercut
And, well, to make a long story short
It got infected and I died
So now I'm up in heaven with St. Peter
By the pearly gates
And it's obvious he doesn't like
The Nehru jacket that I'm wearing
He tells me that they've got a dress code
Well, he lets me into heaven anyway
But I get the room next to the noisy ice machine
For all eternity
And every day he runs by screaming:

Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you used to think was so important
Doesn't really matter anymore
Because the simple fact remains that
Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong
Everything you know is wrong

"Everything You Know Is Wrong"
"Weird Al" Yankovic

Life on Mars

If there was life on Mars, it's dead now. So let's put some Earth life there!


Today is the Holy Day of Vuzhí, Goddess of Life, on the Martian calendar.

What does this mean? Why, it's the start of springtime on the red planet's northern hemisphere! But let's make it a green planet. Go, now, make it green. Terraform the thing, already! It's what Vuzhí would want.

Earth won't last forever...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Don't Play This Game

Don't play this game. It's cruel and inhumane.




My high score is 885 ft.

Happy Fourth of July!

4zi-Orient Beach Flag
This past July 4th, we were on our cruise, stopping for the day in St. Maarten/St. Martin. Half of the island (St. Maarten) is Dutch. Half of the island (St. Martin) is French. Locals on both sides spoke English and took American Dollars. In St. Martin, they also flew American flags proudly! But maybe that was just for the day. And really, that was just at Orient Beach. The capital city of Marigot had just about every other flag, but no American.
4s-Marigot Flags

If our cruise ship tries to leave port, the Dutch at Ft. Amsterdam will sink it!
4zp-Ft Amsterdam Ship

Over on the French side of the island, the Ft. Louis cannons pointed every which way, but I knew our ship was protected by the Dutch, so I need not fear.
4t-Ft Louis

Cupecoy Beach, on the Dutch side, didn't have much of a beach. We were probably there near high tide.
4h1-Cupecoy Beach Path Ch
Pretty, though! (That's Chunlin's photo, by the way.)

It rained on us at Friar's Bay, but we went swimming anyhow.
4zc-Friar's Bay Chunlin
The ocean was still warm.

I'm slowly processing our honeymoon photos, but you can see what all's been posted at flickr.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stop It with the Carbon, Already!

Every time I see or hear something about reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, I feel like bashing my head against a wall. They've got cause and effect completely switched.

Take a can of Coke out of the fridge, open it, and pour the Coke into a glass. Have a drink. Fizzy! Let the rest sit on the counter for a few hours till it warms up to room temperature. Have a drink. Not so fizzy.

What just happened? The Coke warmed up, releasing carbon dioxide (the fizz) into the air. When water is cold, it can hold more carbon dioxide than when it's warm.

The oceans of Earth hold two-thirds of the planet's carbon dioxide, just like a really dilute can of Coke. If something were to warm up the oceans, what do you think would happen to the fizz? Into the air it goes!

The ocean is so big that it takes a few hundred years for the carbon dioxide release to catch up to the warming, but release it, it does.

So, what's warming the oceans? Could it be an increase in solar activity?

What could be causing an increase of airborne carbon dioxide now? Could it be an increase in solar activity several hundred years ago? . . . Nah. That would make too much sense.

Oh, and by the way, plants really love it when they get more carbon dioxide. Farmers often triple the amount of carbon dioxide in their greenhouses to get the plants to grow better. Curiously, that tripled level of carbon dioxide approximates the conditions during the age of dinosaurs. They had giant plants back then, too, didn't they?

The Future of Mankind

If humanity survives the next seventeen mass extinctions, we'll live long enough to see all the water vapor in the atmosphere boil away into space due to an overheating sun. Hopefully we'll have spread to other planets by then.

1.1 billion years is a long time, especially for a species that's only been around 0.0002 billion years. I'm sure we'll work something out by then.

Bleego Gel an' a Rhino

Bleego gel an' a rhino
Don't carry me too far away
Oh, bleego gel an' a rhino
'Cause it's here that I've got to stay

Oh, bleego gel an' a rhino
Carry me to my home
Oh, bleego gel an' a rhino
'Cause it's there that I belong

- "Bleego Gel an' a Rhino"
Steve Miller Band

Mass Extinctions Explained

We're living in a period of mass extinction that started within the past million years and will last five to thirty more million years. Away went the mastadon and the dodo, the moa and the sabertooth cat, but which species will die out next? It's possible that only 20% of genera will die out, but perhaps 95% will.

Will human beings be part of the survivors? I think so, but maybe the gorillas won't make it. Come back in thirty million years and ask me again.

Most mass extinctions are tied to the wobble of the solar system as we orbit the center of the Milky Way. Due to various gravitational effects, we regularly bob up and down like a horse on a carousel. From one high point to the next high point is approximately 64 million years (+/- 3 million).

As we pass through the galactic plane from the southern side to the northern side, we become subject to more cosmic radiation since the northern side is the "front" of the Milky Way as it travels through intergalactic space. Being on the northern side of the galaxy is like sitting on the front bumper of a pickup truck: you get hit by a lot more bugs than if you're in the bed behind the cab.

It is theorized that those cosmic radiation "bugs" cause bad things (cancer, mutations, clouds, etc.) which cause species to die out.

Some extinctions last only a few million years during the transition from the back of the galaxy to the front, but some last the entire 32 million years the Earth is on the front of the galactic pickup truck.

Right now, we passed through the galactic plane, south to north, within the past three million years. Thus, a mass extinction is beginning. How long it will last, no one knows. But let's get that cure for cancer before it's too late.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Per Capita Executions by State

Data courtesy of DPIC.

Green states are the safe ones to live in. Red ones, you take your life in your own hands.

Of course, if you're a criminal, the opposite applies. . .

It's not as hot as you think it's been.

You probably already know this, but we have some shady characters in our government's employ.

NASA revised their temperature data last week to reflect a Y2K bug found in their calculations. 1998 is no longer the warmest year in America's past century. That honor has been returned to 1934. Not that a look at NASA's website would enlighten you to this fact. There are no press releases. Nothing in any of their articles reflects this change. They just quietly changed the data after someone pointed out an error in their temperature calculations.

"Calculations?" you ask. "What calculations?" Apparently our public officials have been doing alchemy on the measured data to "fix" it for heat-island effect and other such things. No one outside NASA GISS knows what their calculations are, because they refuse to let anyone else see them.

The Y2K bug meant that from year 2000-2007, they calculated the heat-island effect as if the cities were of a density from 1900-1907. It's as if they thought someone tore up all the concrete and asphalt from all the cities.

How does this affect 1998? Why, because of further hocus pocus, of course. The official numbers are actually a five-year average!

This doesn't explain all the "adjustments" to their data. There's problems like air conditioners being install next to thermometers. They also fiddle with data from natural-setting thermometers to fit urban thermometers, which are notoriously less reliable. And they've certainly increased the reported temperatures over the past few decades a lot more than they ever did before.

A good quote from the last link, CoyoteBlog, which explains what's going on here: "Temperatures that don't increase as they expect are treated as an error to be corrected, rather than a measurement that disputes their hypothesis."

In summation, the so-called scientists fiddle with any data that gets in the way of their next global-warming-hysteria-provided paycheck.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Upper Anderson Lakes

Way up Baker Lake way, there's a little trail with many branches. One branch goes to Anderson Butte, one branch goes to Watson Lakes, one branch goes to Anderson Lakes, and one super-secret-special branch goes to Upper Anderson Lakes!

16-Slalom Ridge Chunlin Up
The trail is a bit steep and hard to follow, but that's okay. We made it.

Nice view from the ridge, too.
19-Watson Lakes
That's Watson Lakes down there, and Bacon Peak off to the right.

And here's Upper Anderson Lake with Mt. Watson behind:
24-Mt Watson Upper Anderson Lake

Must go swimming!
28-Mark Swim

Not Chunlin, though. She prefers tropical waters.
30-Chunlin Watson Ridge

And just through the trees, over the little ridge is . . . Mt. Baker!
33-Mt Baker Haze Zoom

Can you spot the mosquitos in this photo?
34-Mt Baker Mosquitos
They had hundreds of friends... What do the mosquitos eat when nobody's around? It's not as if many people came this way. Only one other couple stayed the night, and we only saw two other dayhikers on Saturday on the upper lake trail. Them skeeters must've been starving!

Clouds rolled in. No meteor shower visible. Hmph. And then it rained. Next morning:
40-Upper Anderson Lake Fog
43-Trees Fog

The hike down to the main trail was slow and slippery. It took 45 minutes for what had to be no more than three-quarters of a mile. We got wet.

51-Slalom Ridge Chunlin Down
I stopped for photos, of course!

Watson Lakes looked a bit different today.
50-Watson Lakes Fog

More photos on flickr. You know you want to...