Wednesday, October 31, 2007

El Norte Blanco Rides Again!

Back from the depths of the cold, white north, El Norte Blanco has returned in disguise as a typical office worker . . . but how typical is he??

Some might mistake him for Andy Warhol, if not for the glasses style. Some might mistake him for a woman, if they're drunk. But nobody will know his true identity!

. . . Is today a holiday? I have an urge to build a bonfire in my back yard.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Off by One

Do you remember, a month ago, when I predicted the World Series? Red Sox over Rockies in 5, I said. Well, I got the two league champions right, but the Sox won in four.

Pretty good pick for someone who only marginally followed baseball this year, huh?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Donuts

When our company donut-provider brings Krispy Kreme, the donuts are much easier to resist.

Read a Book Lately?

I finished posting Part III of my novel, One Day in a Small Town Desert, so why don't you go read it and tell me what you think?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Election Picks - Short Form

Wa 960: Yes
Wa 67: No
Wa 8206: Reject
Wa 8212: Approve
Wa 4204: Reject
Wa 4215: Reject
KC 25: Yes
KC 1: Reject
Sea 17: No
Sea 18: No

KC Attorney: Satterberg
KC Assessor: Nobles
Port 2: Edwards
Port 5: Bryant
Sea Coun 1: Godden
Sea Coun 3: Harrell
Sea Coun 7: Burgess
Sea Coun 9: Fenton
Sea Sch 1: Maier
Sea Sch 2: Carr
Sea Sch 3: Martin-Morris
Sea Sch 6: Sundquist

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Remember the scene from Galaxy Quest where the little aliens are chanting "Rock! Rock! Rock!" while Tim Allen is standing around triumphant after beating the little beast? And then this giant creature made entirely of rock unfolds from the ground and starts thrashing on him?

Well, that's what I think of, when I think of Rékaré, God of Rock.

Today is His holy day. Don't make Him upset.


Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock! Rock!

Monday, October 22, 2007


There's something *very* bright and hot outside my office window. I closed the blinds, but I think it's still there. What should I do?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Hail photos

Remember when I said it hailed on Friday? Well, here are some photos. A few others on flickr.

Z-Hail Window

X-Parking Lot Streams

Apparently this storm was limited to north Seattle.

A Little Hiking Music

On our hike back this afternoon, we listened to Chulin's ipod.
19-Chunlin Speakers

It played Morcheeba's "Aqualung" twice in a row, so I looked at it. It wasn't on repeat one. I picked another song. "'Round Midnight" from the cd Jazz for a Rainy Afternoon (a good pick for a rainy afternoon, I thought).

I didn't realize immediately, though, that it was alphabetical. That little apostrophe bumped "'Round Midnight" to the top of the list.

We had four Elvis songs in a row. I thought that was odd. It turns out that they all started with parentheses.

It wasn't until we got to the number songs ("24," "25 or 6 to 4," "59th Street Bridge Song," "1812 Overture," etc.) that I figured out the alphabetical thing.

When we got to Toto's "Africa," we were listening to songs we heard Saturday night in the tent.

We arrived at the trailhead just as the Moody Blues' "Afternoon" ended.

The ipod played "59th Street Bridge Song" twice, just like "Aqualung," so I'm guessing I put two copies of each on the ipod. I didn't think you could do that. . .

Chunlin's Poncho

2-Chunlin Dingford

Chunlin is good at thinking outside the box.

She knows that I prefer the temperature of the middle pool, but don't like the cold rain, and so she suggests I get her poncho to wear.

It felt a bit odd, sitting in the pool with nothing on but a blue transparent plastic poncho, but it did the trick. Warm and protected.

I soon discovered that it was even warmer if I collected the hot water in the front of the poncho and held it to my chest like a hot-water bottle.

This morning when were exiting the springs for the last time, Chunlin asked for me to get her poncho. Not really having any idea why, I did.

She then came over to the shelter where I was dressing and poured hot water out of the poncho onto the wood-slat floor at her feet. She cleaned both her feet and the area of floor in one fell swoop.

She had enough water for me to do the same.

And to think I was just going to wipe the dirt off my feet with a sock!

I married one smart cookie.

Pothole Avoidance School Training Track

The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road isn't in too good of condition these days. We really need some logging companies to come back and invest in the infrastructure. The trees will just grow back, right?

In any case, the road has so many potholes that I truly had a difficult time avoiding them.

Chunlin will tell you, I'm amazingly good at driving dirt roads and avoiding potholes. But this road was a battle zone. Craters everywhere.

Before long, I was concentrating on avoiding potholes with the right-side tires only, if I was forced to make a choice. Smoother ride for Chunlin, that way.

Some of the worst bits were getting on and off bridges, of course. Even with this knowledge, I still didn't slow down soon enough for some of the hefty bumps.

On the one-lane road, Chunlin didn't feel comfortable above twenty miles per hour. On the two-lane road, she didn't feel comfortable above twenty-five or so.

Parts of the road had been "improved" with new layers of gravel. They must have used round pea gravel instead of proper crushed rock, because that stuff was as slick as snow. I almost preferred the potholes.

My Tent Leaks

I need to seam-seal my tent.

It still works, mind you, at keeping us mostly dry, but that little drip, drip, drip right beside my head is quite annoying. It gets the Thermarest wet, too.

Down by our feet this morning, we had a couple tiny puddles. No problem, really.

I set up the tent on a beautifully made gravel square in the group campsite, so at least we didn't have any rain-related rivers entering our tent from below.

The outside of the rainfly was far wetter than the inside. It got drenched. Just like my raincoat. . .

After we got home, I hung the tent and rainfly out to dry on our porch railing (under cover, thankfully). But I didn't have time to flip them before dark, so now they're over chairs in the dining room. At least I got the wetter side dry first!

Goldmyer Hot Springs

11-Goldmyer Hot Springs

Goldmyer Hot Springs started out life as a mine. I don't think they found any gold or coal or whatever it was they were looking for. Instead, they found water (with a very mild sulfur smell). They stopped mining and turned the place into a vacation destination.

There was a train, which cut the travel time considerably. Part of the trail on the south side of the river is still along the old railroad bed. I blame the forest service for stopping the train, but it might have been economics. Dunno.

Somewhere over the years, the entrance to the mine was blocked off halfway to create a deep pool in the cave. It's proper stonework, with mortared joints and all. There's even a drain at the bottom. The cave has the hottest water, since that's the source.

At the back of the cave, there's a small bench, just above water level. If you sit on that, it's just like a sauna. Unfortunately, it's not nearly comfortable for two people to relax on. The rocks nearby are too pointy to be proper headrests.

Chunlin had an idea to bring an air-mattress raft for the cave. It's wide enough. I think we'll have to try that, next time.

Very steamy.
15-Chunlin Goldmyer Steam

The water from the cave then spills into a small, middle pool. This pool is all manmade, but of natural rock from the area. Looks good. The water here is fairly shallow, and there's not much room to stretch out. But the water is a perfect temperature. Except for the cold drips off the trees above.

Even when it's not raining, the moisture from the hot springs gets the tree branches above wet, and so they drip. Cold drops.

Chunlin lent me her poncho so I could sit in that pool and not get cold splashed. Very considerate. It worked, too.

From the small pool, the water cascades into a large, shallow pool. This is the coolest water, but it's still bathtub temperature. It's as deep as a bathtub, though, and large enough for four people comfortably.

You can sit under the falls for a hot-water massage. Very nice.
13-Goldmyer Pools Falls

The lower pool gets all the rain, so we didn't spend much time there Saturday. Sunday, however, was much better.

Near the springs is Burntboot Creek, a raging torrent of near-freezing water.
9-Burntboot Creek Flow

My second time to Goldmyer was in the springtime (my other three trips have been in autumn). That time, the creek level was low enough that you could dunk yourself in it. Not this weekend, though. Or rather, not if you valued your life.
10-Burntboot Creek Crash

By the way, the springs are clothing-optional, but bring a swimsuit just in case someone has children or you're prone to giving in to clothing peer pressure.

Saffron's Bottle

When we decided to head back to camp Saturday night, I couldn't find one of my waterbottles. Right next to where we left it, though, was another Nalgene bottle. Instead of grayish green, it was yellowish green. This difference would be understandable, since it was nighttime.

However, this bottle also had a bright green cap (mine was black), a carabiner attached (mine had none), and the word "Saffron" painted down the side (mine, of course, did not).

We took it back to camp with us.

We figured that perhaps one of the Ukrainian girls was named Saffron. Our opinion of them wasn't too high after our brief encounter.

Also suspected were a pair of women that we never saw, but heard. They arrived after dark, when Chunlin and I were in the back of the cave. They left before we emerged.

The next morning, I took Saffron's bottle up to the springs. A half hour later, two women arrived, presumable the same two. As I entered the shelter, I saw my waterbottle sitting beside the yellowish one.

Still, I asked, "Is this your waterbottle?"

It was . . . sort of.

As it so happens, Saffron was a trail nickname of one of their friends. Which explains, to some degree, why they couldn't recognize it in the dark.

So I got my bottle back. All is well in the world.

The Ukrainians

When I called Goldmyer's office to tell them our arrival time would be in the afternoon instead of morning (unneccessary now -- they don't require precise arrival times), I was told that a group of twelve would be at the hot springs on Saturday during the day. Therefore, a late arrival would be perfect, since we'd be arriving just as they were leaving.

I calculated a good departure time would be three o'clock, to get back to the freeway before dark. (Based on their four-hour travel time.)

The group of twelve was still signing in when we arrived at four o'clock.

Half of them had matching red-and-gray ponchos. Some of the girls had fur-lined coats. The caretaker said that one of them asked if there were any restaurants nearby.

I guessed they were Russian, from their accents, but they were actually from Ukraine. Or Sacramento. Or both.

Chunlin and I picked a campsite and set up the tent while they tramped up the hill. We decided to go eat dinner at the shelter by the springs, and then get in the water when they left.

Some of them hadn't even made it into the springs by the time we got up the hill.

Chunlin and I ate our dinner of snacks, but the Ukrainians hadn't left yet. So we joined them in the pools. They all wore swimsuits, so we did too. And here I thought Europeans were more open about public nudity.

Around 5:30, they started getting dressed, getting out their flashlights, and heading down the trail. I'm sure the long walk in the dark was fun, especially with the heavy rain and the mud puddles.

I wonder if they'll ever come back?

Guess What? It Rained!

It rained a lot this weekend. . .

Usually when it rains on backpacking trips, I don't *know* that's it's going to rain, beforehand. Sometimes there's a chance of rain, or perhaps it's a multi-day trip and we just don't trust the forecast that far out.

This time, however, there was absolutely no chance that it would not rain on Saturday. It had dumped on Thursday, dumped on Friday, and -- guess what? -- it rained Saturday. No downpours. No hail. No lightning. But rain it did, all day long.

And into the night, too.

When we arrived at Goldmyer, one of the men from a large group asked the caretaker, "Does it always rain here?"

She answered, "Yes."

I chimed in, "I though it had stopped raining!" Which it had, sort of. Down to a heavy mist.

It rained well into the night. My tent kept us warm and dry (other than a few drip spots, such as over my face). By morning, however, it had mostly stopped raining. True, it didn't sound like it from inside the tent, but that was just tree-drip.

Halfway back to the car, the rain had started up again, but not enough for me to dig out my pack cover, or Chunlin her poncho.

Travel to Goldmyer

It used to be that you needed a high-clearance vehicle to drive up the road to Goldmyer Hot Springs. Last spring, though, the forest service upgraded the road so now my little car can handle it.

Except that they gated the road off 4.5 miles before Goldmyer, at Dingford Creek.
1-Dingford Creek

So instead of having the option of a very bumpy road and a 1/4-mile walk or an okay road and a twelve-mile walk, you now have the option of an okay road and a 4.5-mile walk or an okay road and a twelve-mile walk. I don't know why anyone would choose the longer hike anymore. Especially in the rain. That trailhead had several cars today, however, I noticed.

Also, the twelve-mile walk ends with a very cold creek crossing. The 1/4-mile walk used to start with a very cold river crossing, but the forest service has now put in a bridge. Much warmer and dryer!
3-Goldmyer Bridge Chunlin
5-Goldmyer Bridge Under

The improved road (upgraded from very bumpy to okay) still has numerous potholes and is actually only one-lane (two tracks). The road that's always been okay has actually degredated since last year, with just as many potholes as the further-in stretch. But it's two lanes, so you can drive 25 mph instead of 18 mph.

I found it odd that the road goes from two lanes to one lane with no 1.5-lane stretch. Three-track dirt roads are fairly common in the Cascades, but not on the Middle Fork Snoqualmie, I guess!

From Seattle, the total trip is now three hours. Goldmyer Hot Springs will tell you four, but I think they drive and walk slow.
16-Chunlin Goldmyer Trail

Eighty-some years ago, you could make the trip in two, but that's when they had a train.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Holy Badwater!

Today is the Holy Day of Ríhíví, Goddess of Poisonous Water!

Just because her purview is poison, it doesn't mean She's not the nicest goddess you've ever met. In fact, She is. You don't see any others of Them fighting fires or playing with cats, do you?

Plus, She's the wife of Zhaké, the wisest god of Them all. And They are quite the loving and ever-faithful couple (unlike most of Their relatives!).

To celebrate Her holy day, we're going to the local hot springs. Yay!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Dime-Sized Hail!

Was that in the weather forecast today? Not that I pay attention to the weather forecasts, usually, but did they really predict that Seattle would have dime-sized hail, lightning, high winds, and flash-flooding in the streets?

Because, if any of them did, well done!

For a few minutes there, I was afraid our west windows were going to break from the pounding hail. Luckily, not.

Fifth Avenue in front of our office turned into a river of water and ice flowing quickly down to Thornton Creek.

Fifteen minutes later, just a light sprinkle...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Lopez Weekend

I finished posting photos from last weekend's Lopez Island trip. So go look at them all, if you please.

Saturday, Chunlin and I took a 35 (or 40) mile bike ride around the island.

Shark Reef:
37-Shark Reef Fog

54-Shark Reef Mark Hands Ch

Davis Road, on the south end of the island:
58-Davis Bay Road Sheep

Iceberg Point (or rather, a spot a ways to the east of Iceberg Point):
70-Iceberg Point West

76-Chunlin Iceberg Point Rock

And back to Odlin Park for the night:
93-Odlin Sunset Silhouette

On the Odlin Park dock:
102-Chunlin Mark Odlin Dock

We had some time Sunday morning, so we drove over to Spencer Spit:
110-Lopez Sound Driftwood

The tip of the spit is a couple hundred feet short of Frost Island:
113-Frost Island Spencer Spit

And then my camera battery died, but rest assured that the view of Mt. Baker from the ferryboat was breathtaking.

As you can tell, we got a lot of chaperoning done!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Another Trip to Spokane, Yay!

This year, I've made flights to Spokane in February, March, April, May, June, August, September, and now (as of today) October. I plan to fly there November and December, as well.

I'm now up to a grand total of 30 flights, all told, in 2007. 34 in the past twelve months.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jersey City Division of Zoning

The entirety of the content on the Jersey City Division of Zoning website:

Division of Zoning

30 Montgomery Street
Room 409
Jersey City, NJ 07302
Tel: (201) 547-6564
Fax: (201) 547-5216

Anthony Lambiase, Zoning Officer

The Division of xxx does cool stuff. Mostly.

Friday to Lopez

3-Anacortes Ferry Dock

I took Friday off work to go with Christina's high school outdoor group on a three-day weekend trip to Lopez Island. Chunlin drove up Friday evening, not arriving till 10:15. She couldn't get the day off. Darn you, big company!

Chaperoning this group was actually pretty easy. The kids organized and ran the outing themselves.
12-Lopez Unloading Kids
With 70+/- high school kids, that was no simple feat!
13-Ferry Road Kids
The five in the back look like trouble, though. . .

Once at the park (about 3 p.m.), there was kickball and frisbeeing galore. Us chaperones did a lot of standing around talking. Or sitting.

Christina learned how to get out of a flipped kayak, right it, and get back in.
21-Christina Kayak Flip

The sun set.
29-Odlin Geese Sunset

And then we had dinner cooked by the kids. . .

More photos on flickr. Saturday and Sunday to come.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Translate the pun. . .

"I have no argent to make the camion aller!"

Hint: French art thief gets caught in his getaway vehicle.

a dark day

Remind me again: when's the sun going to rise today?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore Vindicated

. . . in his own mind.

Mr. Cold himself has won the Nobel Peace Prize for . . . being a cult leader? Something like that.

Or maybe it had something to do with all the factual errors in that movie of his.

But let's take a look at other recent Nobel Peace Prize Winners, shall we?

2005 - IAEA, for letting Iran and others build nuclear bombs under their noses.
2002 - Jimmy Carter, for hating Israel so vehemently.
2001 - Kofi Annan and the UN, for being corrupt and a bunch of corrupt thugs.
1994 - Yasser Arafat, for hating Israel so vehemently.

And these are just the names I recognize. . .

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Pay Your Taxes

The government will getcha if you don't!

A US couple in their 60s who had barricaded themselves in their house for several months armed with guns and explosives to avoid being jailed for tax evasion have been arrested, officials said. [...]

In the end, two US marshals managed to sneak into the home through the front door, posing as supporters who have been providing the elderly couple with weapons, food and supplies since the stand-off began.
I remember reading about this couple a few months ago. As much as I sympathize with their dislike of the federal government, I'm glad they didn't get to use their guns and IEDs.


Apparently the French are having a hard time translating the word "subprime" into their language. While some news reporters are using the English word when discussing the mortgage problems of the US, the government says they should use the phrase "prets hypothecaires a haut risque," which means "high-risk mortgage loans."

It's not as if "subprime" by itself makes much sense in English, so I don't know why they're reluctant to use a similarly nonsensical, yet easy, phrase, like "sous-premier." It has the same Latin roots. Why not?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Ride in the Rain!

Yesterday was the Kitsap Color Classic. Chunlin, my dad, and I rode the Hansville loop despite the threat of rain, rain, rain!

Apparently about half the registered riders didn't show up to ride. For shame! But there were still a few hundred.

Not many on the 10:10 ferry, though. About ten or twelve.
4-Ferry Chunlin Dad

The Hansville loop went from Kingston to the northerly tip of the Kitsap Peninsula, home of the hamlet of Hansville and the Point No Point lighthouse.
13-Point-No-Point Flag

It didn't rain on the ride north. In fact, we had a tailwind so it was rather warm.

Rain was nearby though, as evidenced by the rainbow over Whidbey Island.
17-Mark Rainbow Ch

On the way back, though, the rain kicked in. And with the headwind, it was wet.

I got mud splattered on my back, just like everyone else, but I also got mud splattered on the front of my shirt. I think it was because my tires have more tread than average road bikes. The front-wheel tread caught the water and threw it forward. Then, thanks to my airspeed, the mud droplets turned around and hit me.

Chunlin brought a change of clothes for after. I didn't.
28-Kingston Chunlin

We had one really steep hill and one really long hill. I managed to ride to the top of both, in my "granny" gear. One woman on the long hill yelled that I was cheating (as I passed her), but that's what the low gear is for!

Here's the top of the steep hill:
23-Cliffside Road Dad

Speaking of gears, my chain fell off the front sprockets four times. The first two times, it fell off the inside when shifting from the middle sprocket to the small sprocket. I adjusted the shifter thingy. Then it fell off the outside when shifting from the middle sprocket to the large one. I adjusted it again. The chain then fell off the inside when shifting from the small sprocket to the middle sprocket. How did that happen? I didn't make any further adjustments, and yet it didn't fall off again.

Despite the inclement conditions, we all had a good time. Next year, the STP!
29-Ferry Dad

Happy Columbus Day (Observed)!

It doesn't mean much to me, since I still have to work today. Chunlin, on the other hand, gets the day off. Yay, Chunlin! Have a relaxing holiday.

Of course, the real Columbus Day is October 12, but nobody in the US has celebrated that date since 1970. 1971 was the first year the federal government shifted it to the second Monday.

October 12, 1492, is the day when Christopher Columbus first landed in the Bahamas, which would've looked something like this:
7a-Eleuthera South Point Morning
Exciting, no?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Wanna Donut?

If I can't have a donut, nobody can have a donut!


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hunting Goddess/Moon Goddess


When the moon arises late tonight, Tarénara's spirit will be in the air. Go hunting with Her. Find that stag. Shoot it with your bow and arrow. Roast it up good, but be sure to leave a large portion for Her. She guided your arrow, after all!

It's Her holy day!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

This Month's Photo of Chunlin

At my office desk, I have a calendar with a different photo of Chunlin each month. Since I'm enjoying staring at her so much, I decided to share the photo with you.



Recently, I've taken to adding an herbal tea to my caffeine tea. It's mainly to disguise the flavor of the Lipton. (Blech.)

My current favorites are Lemon Zinger (Celestial Seasonings) and Licorice Spice (Stash). There's probably better ones out there, but the choices at my office are limited.

Chamomile/green tea is pretty good, too.

Red Sox over the Rockies in 5

The baseball playoff lineup didn't turn out quite like I predicted, thanks to a couple teams' late-season runs.

The Phillies won 4 of their last 5 while the Mets lost 6 of their last 7. How was I supposed to predict that? So now the Phillies are in, and the team to beat, right?


That would be the Rockies. They won 14 of their last 15 to take the Wild Card spot from the Padres, who lost their last 3 games.

So the Rockies will beat the Phillies, then the Cubs, and then lose to the Red Sox.

And that's that. You can start paying attention again in April.