Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The End of Tahoe

I finally finished uploading photos from our Tahoe trip four weeks ago. Whew.

267-Secret Cove
A lovely little beach on the east side of Lake Tahoe, in a "rural area" of Carson City.

278-Reno In-N-Out Burger
Lunch stop!

282-Reno Arch
The view from our hotel room in Reno.

286-Chunlin Reno Arch
Proof we actually went outside the casino.

295-Thomas Flyer Alaska Map
At the National Automobile Museum, a display on the 1908 around-the-world driving race showed a map of the planned and actual routes. They intended to drive across Alaska to Siberia, but ended up heading from Seattle to Japan. Who would've thought that Alaska in early spring is still kinda cold and snowy?

302-1909 Red Ford Model T
A Model T from before Ford switched to a choice of black or black.

317-Reno Silver Legacy Slots 2
Beware the slot machines!

323-Reno Eldorado Sculpture
Once you manage to find the hotel lobby in the casino, this sculpture is there to please you.

325-Christina Chunlin Reach

330-Reno Airport Sunset Smoke
Sunset with forest fires over the horizon.

Head on over to flickr to see all 320 photos from our trip.

Friday, July 25, 2008


I've been too busy tabbing old notebooks (so I can find useful information from the past for my writing), so I haven't posted anything here all week.

I uploaded some more Tahoe photos on flickr last night, though, so go look at those.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Slight Mishap

I tried to take a photo of Chunlin launching her boat, but . . .
39-Chunlin Golden Gardens Launch

Friday, July 18, 2008

Who Needs Donuts?

Chunlin made me promise to eat no donuts today, but that's okay. I have some cookies that Mamurd made me!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Easterbunny is Makemake

Oh, look! Another (dwarf) planet!

Makemake has been declared a dwarf planet today by the IAU.

It used to be called Easterbunny, but I guess that didn't sound respectable enough. Makemake is the creator god from the mythology of the islanders from Rapa Nui (aka Isla de Pascua (aka Easter Island)).

Easterbunny, Easter Island. Cute, huh?

Makemake's orbit is just outside Pluto, and behind Pluto and Eris (ex-Xena) in terms of dwarf-planet size.

Therefore, all you kids be sure to memorize the new list:


Got it?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Our Anniversary, Two Weeks Ago

"Look out! Marmots!"
122-Christina Point

120-Waca Camp Marmot

And a good morning to you.

I've finally posted photos from June 30 onto flickr. When I spend all day walking around with a camera in hand, it makes for rather a lot of photos to sort through!

We spent the day (Chunlin's and my first wedding anniversary) tromping around the Desolation Valley, along the shore of Lake Aloha, across snowfields, to a waterfall that we had spotted in the distance (I dubbed it Isabel Falls, after Chunlin's chosen name for herself at work), and back to camp.

125-Chunlin Christina Pyramid Pk
134-Lk Aloha Peninsula Christina
151-Lk Aloha Pine Cove Jacks Pk
162-Chunlin Snowfield Lake Aloha
165-Chunlin Christina Snowfield
172-Waterfall Cove Jacks Peak
178-Mark Isabel Falls Ch
185-Chunlin Christina Snowfield Flowers

We didn't go swimming in Lake Aloha because it was too windy. Waca Lake was more sheltered, so I jumped in there. Neither Chunlin and Christina went in the water, though. Chunlin took photos of me, instead.
198-Mark Splash Waca Lake Ch

And that's about all we did that day.

Without clouds in the sky, the sunset wasn't much of anything. What a shame.
213-Christina Chunlin Evening

Seventy-four more photos from that day on flickr! I told you I had to work hard to trim the stack to a reasonable number. . .

Friday, July 11, 2008

Subdivision, part 10

I got answers to my questions on Wednesday. I don't need to wait for Seattle City Light to respond before supplying corrected surveys in response to DPD's land-use comments.

I only need to provide two copies, one for each of the reviewers who sent correction notices to me.

However, the corrections need to be made by the surveyor. I emailed instructions to my surveyor. He responded rather promptly, but there's no telling how soon he'll get the corrections made.

Also, the "No Protest Agreement" is no longer available online, so I don't know how I'm supposed to sign and notarize the forms. The city reviewer didn't return my call yesterday concerning this.

I have my response letter all typed up, with photographs of the garage (inside and out), everything ready to go as soon as I get the survey and the form.

Sunspots and the Stock Market

As a corollary to the previous post, I looked up the chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average to compare it to the solar activity cycle.

Curiously enough, the Dow doesn't follow the eleven-year sunspot cycle, but it does relate to a smoothed-out version of the cycle, on a decade-to-decade level.

The solar maximum in the late 1920s was weaker than the maximum in the late 1910s, which then correlates to the drop in the stock market leading to the Great Depression (and some rather nasty weather in the early 1930s).

The solar maximums of the late 1930s, the late 1940s, and the late 1950s are each progressively stronger, with the period of solar maximum in the 1950s being almost three times as strong as that of the 1920s. During this time, from the bottom in 1932 until 1965, the Dow Jones Industrial Average steadily climbed (discounting hiccups every few years).

What happened in the late 1960s to kill the Dow's climb?

The sun got weak.

The solar maximum in the late 1960s/early 1970s was weaker than even the maximum in the late 1930s.

The Dow didn't recover until 1982 or so, which corresponds to a stronger solar maximum.

The next climb lasts from 1982 till 1999, which just so happens to be the start of a slightly weaker solar maximum (but, contrarily, one with even hotter temperatures).

The sun is now dead calm. Solar scientists had predicted a strong cycle peaking in 2011, but have recently revised their predictions to perhaps a very weak cycle peaking in 2013. In other words, don't expect great things from the stock market until 2020 at the earliest.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I must be getting pessimistic due to the lack of energy from the sun.

Weak Sun, Pessimism, Unemployment

I saw, today, a graph of the United States' unemployment for the past few decades.

It hit me rather quickly that the peaks and troughs of this graph are almost exactly the opposite of the highs and lows of the solar activity cycle. Unemployment is highest when the sun is less active (and thus the Earth is cooler).

High unemployment peaks centered in 1961, 1975, 1983, and 1997 match up with the solar activity troughs centered in 1964, 1975, 1986, and 1995. Low unemployment valleys centered in 1969, 1979, 1989, and 2000 line up with solar activity peaks centered in 1968, 1980, 1990, and 2001.

Perhaps it has to do with pessimism brought on by the lower temperatures and "bad" weather. After all, it's well-known in real estate that the market is hottest in the spring and summer, when folks are all rosy-eyed about their future in their brightly lit new homes. In the winter, people hunker down.

And so, with longer winters and cooler summers, business owners stay hunkered down, hiring fewer people. Unemployed men and women are less inclined to go out searching for new jobs.

So, what does this tell us about the near future?

We are at an (extended) extreme low in solar activity. Unemployment should be rampant. In fact, it peaked in 2003, but then dropped till 2007, but is now back on the rise. I guess our economy had been doing better than usual.

I predict that unemployment rates in the United States will continue to rise until the sun kicks into gear again, which might be tomorrow or might be 2010. The peak of solar activity will likely be in 2012, which will thus be a low in unemployment.

I further predict politicians to claim responsibility for the reduced unemployment in the coming years, especially in the 2012 elections.

11 Postponed

I was going to drive State Route 11 tomorrow, but some idiot ran into the overpass at the southern end of the highway, where it crosses I-5.

The overpass was damaged Thursday afternoon near milepost 231 when an excavator on a tractor-trailer failed to make the clearance. Three of the six support beams were badly damaged, and 22 steel cables were broken along with some of the concrete.

Westbound (northbound) traffic is being re-routed to a different overpass, which is quite clearly not part of Highway 11.

Luckily, the temporary repairs will be done in less than a week, so maybe I can drive the route on July 20. . .

Vote for Gramm!

From what I've heard of what Phil Gramm said this week, I just want everyone to know that I agree with him.

Thanks to the Liberal mentality, we have become a nations of whiners, incapable of taking responsibility for our personal actions. We always blame someone else and expect the government to take care of us.

Thanks to the news media, we are in a mental recession -- not a real recession, but just in our heads, thanks to the news media pounding gloom and doom into our brains every hour of every day.

And so, when John McCain denounced Gramm's words, it really made me throw in the towel on the Arizona senator. I never liked his PC-pandering liberal streak, and I never will.

I won't vote for McCain.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I Think I Need to Sharpen My Axe

Not a metaphor.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

My Brief Encounter with a Red Mustang Convertible

In Spokane today, Hertz was running short on cars. Actually, when I told the lady I had a car reserved, she called somebody and asked, "Do you have any cars?" She had to repeat herself.

Without fanfare, she walked down the counter and picked up a set of keys. Usually, rental agencies give me a choice ("We don't have any sedans. Do you want the Nissan Pathfinder or the Mazda Whoziwhatsit?"), but this time she didn't say anything.

She told me where it was parked and rather reluctantly handed me the keys. I glanced at the tag.

"Ford Mustang Convertible."

And so it was.

Red, too.

Red Mustang Convertible

It's sure a nice looking car, and it has a wonderful engine. Corners well, too. But I certainly didn't want to go above the speed limit in this eye-catcher! I felt very conspicuous. I noticed people looking at it.

A few problems, though. The rear window is tiny. I'm sure the non-convertible Mustang doesn't have this problem. The front window felt very short, and the mirror blocked a good chunk of vision, until I realized I could lower the seat. After that, the front view was adequate. The side windows were wonderful, nothing blocking at all.

That car needs better bass speakers.

The backseat has almost zero legroom.
Mustang Backseat

I drove for a while with the top down, just to see what it was like.
Red Mustang Convertible Rear

Something definitely felt missing.

And it was kinda windy and noisy.

Vision was greatly improved, though.

I didn't leave the top down for long though. Just between the project site and the gas station. I didn't have sunscreen with me, after all.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Subdivision, part 9

The week before our glorious vacation (ahhh. . . vacation!), I called up the Land Use Planner in charge of my subdivision project to ask when to expect the overdue review comments.

She replied that my project was two-thirds of the way down a stack of two thousand, but her personal deadline was four to six weeks after the end of the public comment period. This would put her deadline at July 2 to July 16.

But the Thursday before we left, she emailed me her comments. Because we had talked about the project, she did her review. If I had known it would work like that, I should have called her earlier!

I called her that day and discussed her comments. No project killers:

Provide lot coverage information for the house's new, smaller lot.

Provide a "No Protest Agreement" for any street improvements because the street easement isn't as wide as an arterial usually is. It's not as if we'd be able to stop Seattle from widening the street in any case.

Provide notes on the survey and a photograph showing the existing parking in the basement.

Provide a copy of the 1965 easement referenced on the survey. . . In our conversation, I nullified this point. She didn't read the legal description closely enough to realize that the south parcel had a new easement that overlapped the 1965 easement for the western eastern neighbors.

Provide a note stating that the detached garage will be demolished before transfer of the property, as I was told I would be told. The reviewer, however, said that if we build a house on the new lot, the garage won't have to be demolished. As long as it's an accessory building, it can stay. I'll put a note to that regard on the drawings. Chunlin wants to build a house there, anyway.

And so the next step is to go down to the city and pick up the drawings and make revisions, or is it?

City Light hasn't made comments yet. They might still have a copy of the drawings. They're notorious for being exceptionally slow in reviewing land use projects. Apparently, they only have one engineer reviewing projects for all of North Seattle.

I can't make revisions until all eight copies are available for picking up, or else I'll receive a $300 penalty. The instructions must be followed precisely!

Plans Routing told me to talk to a certain person, who directed me back to the reviewer in charge of the project, who won't be back in the office till Wednesday. I guess I'll just have to wait.

This Month's Photo of Chunlin

I'm finally back at work. Yay.

This means that instead of getting to look at Chunlin all day, I get to look at my calendar with her photos. This month's photo harkens back to a very buggy day at Lake Margaret last summer.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

One Week Ago

One week ago, we started a backpacking trip into the Desolation Wilderness Area southwest of Lake Tahoe. 'Twas my birthday.

The trip started with a water taxi three miles up Echo Lakes.
52-Lower Echo Lake Boat

53-Christina Lower Echo Lk Boat

54-Chunlin Lower Echo Lk Boat

And then we had to start walking. A couple hundred yards in, we were on the Pacific Crest Trail.
63-Echo Valley PCT

Shade was appreciated. Chunlin danced to Christina's ipod.
68-Chunlin Ipod Tamarack PCT

At Lake of the Woods, we stopped for lunch.
77-Christina Chunlin Naptime

It was a good thing we rested so long, because my shortcut leaving Lake of the Woods wasn't all that great.
82-Christina Chunlin Woods Hill
Who would've thought that there wasn't a good trail all the way around the lake? Big boulders and cliffs kept pushing us further and further up the hill. A perfectly good trail sat unused on the far side of this hill, a quarter mile away. But we pressed onward.

We waded across Pyramid Creek and climbed up the cliff on the other side.
99-Channel Hill American Lk
It certainly wasn't the quickest way to our destination that I took. Coming back on Tuesday, we didn't take the quick route either. But now, after two circuitous cross-country routes, I know the best path to take.

It was getting late. Six o'clock or so. I was worried we weren't going to make it. We could've camped many locations along our route, but we had a permit for the Waca Lake area, and that was really where I wanted to camp. When we finally caught sight of Waca Lake, we dropped our packs.
102-Waca Lake

Chunlin started cooking soup. I went to find a campsite. I had wanted to camp between Waca Lake and Lake Aloha, but cliffs blocked us, so we camped on the hill southeast of Waca Lake.
106-Chunlin Waca Camp

This turned out all right, however, because it gave us a great sunset.
116-Waca Pond Lake Sunset

After 2.25 days of vacation, I've posted 121 photos on flickr. No such thing as too much of a good thing!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Traveling to Tahoe

Friday evening, we caught a plane for Reno. We didn't get to see the sunset from the plane, but we were on the Mt. Rainier side, so it's all okay.
7-Twilight Mt Rainier

11 o'clock at night (or so), we land in Reno. It was very smoky from forest fires in California. Smile!
9-Christina Chunlin Reno Airport

The next day, we drove to Tahoe. Here's the view from the north end of the lake. If not for the smoke, you'd be able to see to the south end. But, as I said, smoke.
13-Incline Village Lk Tahoe South

And then we went to the beach. Christina was very happy to discover that we were in California and not Utah.
16-Kings Beach

After a couple hours at the beach, we continued around the lake, stopping at Tahoe City for a walk in the lake's outlet. I'd been here before, two years ago.
27-Truckee River Chunlin

They had flowers there.
36-More Lupines Tahoe City

Further down the shore, Emerald Bay. The sun was setting.
39-Emerald Bay Lookout

We finally checked in at the Motel 6 in South Lake Tahoe Saturday evening.
50-Chunlin South Lake Tahoe Pool

A swim in a pool, a trip to Grocery Outlet, and it was time for bed. . .

Forty-three more photos (so far) on flickr for your viewing pleasure.

Friday, July 04, 2008

It's Good to Be Home

We're back home. Wonderful vacation over. Happy Fourth of July. Our house is a mess now. Luggage and tents all over. Tahoe was very nice.