Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's Alive!

The fish is alive! It's a miracle!

Still rather sedentary, though.

R.I.P. Figaro 2008-2009

Figaro the Betta 2

We hardly knew thee.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Tale of Vuzhí

Spring is just around the corner. Vuzhí is coming! In fact, the planet Vuzhí is high in the evening sky, shining Her brilliance down on us all.

Hooray for Vuzhí!

14-Lewisia Osborn Pt

When Vuzhí was born, daughter of Nuvíní, High Goddess of Earth, and Sozho, High God of Air, Sozho promised Her eventual hand in marriage to His brother, Pétíso, God of the Dead. Neither Nuvíní nor Vuzhí knew of this promise for many years. Nevertheless, Nuvíní kept Her daughter hidden from potential suitors, for Vuzhí was so beautiful that Nuvíní knew that trouble would ensue if any of the gods or demigods were to cast His eyes upon Her.

So Vuzhí would pass Her days wandering through the wilderness with Her goddess friends, bringing life to flowers and trees, granting fertility to rabbits and chickens and such, and generally spreading joy everywhere She went. All of this was well away from any roads or routes that any gods or even any mortals would ever use. Vuzhí quite enjoyed Her life as the maiden goddess. It was quiet, peaceful, and full of bounding energy.

One day, Vuzhí was in a mountain meadow with Hívuítoví, Goddess of Rain, blooming the wildflowers and picking them to make chains to wear upon Their heads. A colony of rabbits danced around Vuzhí, attracted by Her fertility. Using Her Golden Egg, Vuzhí would touch a dying plant and it would spring to life. She would touch the Golden Egg to a horse and soon the mare would have a foal. The rabbits loved Her dearly.

Suddenly, while Hívuítoví was at the far end of the meadow giving extra rain to a wilted shrub, the ground beside Vuzhí ripped apart. She fell down onto Her knees, looking up to see a team of black horses erupt from the chasm, pulling an ink-black chariot guided by Pétíso.

Before Vuzhí could scream, Pétíso reached down, snatched Her up, and absconded back down the chasm into His underworld. Hívuítoví turned around and frowned when She didn’t see Vuzhí. She called out, but there was no answer. Hívuítoví crossed the meadow to where Vuzhí had been, but the earth had sealed as it had been, so nothing tipped off the rain goddess as to Vuzhí’s abduction. The rabbits hopped around in confusion. The maiden goddess was simply gone.

Hívuítoví looked around for Vuzhí, but soon had to let Nuvíní know that Her daughter had disappeared. The earth goddess searched relentlessly for Vuzhí, to no avail. She didn’t want to ask for help, since She was trying to hide the beautiful maiden from the gods. While hunting for Vuzhí, Nuvíní neglected Her duties. Plants withered and died. With no food, animals began to die, as well.

Meanwhile, in the underworld, Pétíso took Vuzhí to His castle and treated Her to a fabulous banquet. Vuzhí refused to eat, however, and demanded to be returned above ground. Tenderly, she cradled a rabbit who had fallen through the chasm with Them.

Pétíso proffered a bowl of beef stew. The smell was intoxicating, but Vuzhí turned away. Pétíso poured a cup of wine and held it out for Her. The wine glittered in the torchlight, severely tempting Vuzhí, but She managed to decline. The King of the Underworld picked up an apple and suggested Vuzhí needed to eat at least something.

Vuzhí eyed the apple, golden green and without a blemish. The rabbit sniffed it, but rabbits don’t like apples. Vuzhí was indeed hungry and the apple seemed pure and harmless. She took the fruit and ate it.

Pétíso smiled wickedly. He informed Vuzhí that once anyone eats the food of the underworld, they cannot leave. She was stuck with Him for all time. He then told Her that Her father, Sozho, had promised Her hand in marriage to Him, and said that as long as She would be in the underworld for eternity, She might as well wed Pétíso.

Vuzhí broke into tears, screaming that it was not possible. She had to return to the world of the living and help Her mother. Vuzhí called out to Nuvíní, but the earth goddess did not hear Her. Desperate, Vuzhí called out to Zhíanoso, High God of Fire. Zhíanoso appeared and asked what all the ruckus was about.

Through Her sobs, Vuzhí told Him about Pétíso’s claims. The fire god shrugged and confirmed what Pétíso had said. Zhíanoso had witnessed Sozho’s promise. Vuzhí was promised to the King of the Underworld.

Composing Herself, the maiden goddess stopped Her crying and wiped Her face dry. If She was destined to be married, Vuzhí would wed with aplomb and a calm demeanor, accepting the marriage and all to follow. In that banquet hall, with Zhíanoso presiding, Pétíso and Vuzhí wed. The maiden goddess was now the Queen of the Dead.

In the world of the living, Zhíanoso tracked down Nuvíní and informed Her of Vuzhí’s whereabouts and Her updated marital status. Outraged, Nuvíní screamed at the fire god. She hurled boulders His way, but Zhíanoso fluttered like flames, unharmed. He ran away laughing. Nuvíní pelted Her husband Sozho with full mountains, but the air god ran away and hid.

Eventually, the earth goddess calmed. She descended through Her earth to Pétíso’s castle and demanded that Pétíso return Her daughter to Her. The God of the Dead refused, for They were husband and wife. Vuzhí ran to Her mother’s arms, but acknowledged Her marriage. Despite Her longing to return to Her previous lifestyle, She had responsibilities at Her husband’s home.

At an impasse, with neither Nuvíní nor Pétíso backing down from Their demands, Vuzhí had to make a decision. She announced a compromise. She would stay with Pétíso for half the year and travel the world with Nuvíní for the other half, bringing life to all the plants and animals. Reluctantly, Vuzhí’s mother and husband agreed.

Vuzhí kissed Pétíso goodbye and returned to the surface with Nuvíní and the rabbit. Thus began the first season of spring. Vuzhí traveled the lands, touching the Golden Egg to every plant and animal She could find. Flowers bloomed. Trees bore fruit. Animals and humans bred. Life and the vitality of youth filled the world. Overjoyed, the rabbits prospered.

Unfortunately, half a year passes much too quickly for a goddess. Soon it was autumn. Distraught but with Her chin held high, Vuzhí said goodbye to Nuvíní, Hívuítoví, and the rabbits, and descended to the underworld. Upon entering Pétíso’s castle, Vuzhí kissed Her husband, Who She had begun to miss. Together, They climbed the dais of Their great hall and sat upon the giant throne, King and Queen of the Dead.

Wrapped around Her shoulders, Vuzhí wore a constrictor snake as a shawl. Upon Her head, She wore a viper for a crown. Pétíso gave Her a huge dagger to wear on Her belt, to help guard the souls of the departed until their resurrections.

The spirits of the recently deceased would enter Their great hall and face judgment. Some souls knew what to expect; others did not. This upset Vuzhí, for She had explained the mysteries of the afterlife to Her mortal followers. She knew Her followers were trying their best to let everyone know, so long as they agreed to worship Vuzhí.

Some souls were good. To these people, Vuzhí granted a pleasant and short afterlife, to be followed by a privileged resurrection. Some souls were evil. Vuzhí sentenced these people to a long, painful afterlife, filled with fire, torture, and psychological agony. The evil souls would eventually be resurrected as lower life form, such as mosquitoes or rats.

Occasionally, a living mortal would venture into the underworld. One such mortal was Surovíhoso, a musician whose wife had recently died. She was a good soul and should have been enjoying her afterlife, but she was instead moping around the underworld, quite depressed. Surovíhoso was also exceptionally melancholy.

He managed to get past Pétíso’s guard dog by lulling him to sleep with a song. Surovíhoso then entered the great hall, carrying his harp and a dour expression. Pétíso exploded in rage at the sight of a mortal in His castle, but Vuzhí calmed Her husband and asked Surovíhoso why he dared to appear before Them while still living.

As a reply, Surovíhoso began plucking a soulful melody on his harp, soon accompanying it with a haunting song he had written on his way to Their castle. He sang of his lost love, their future plans destroyed, and the meaninglessness of his life without her. The song was so gut-wrenching that Vuzhí wept. She agreed to let Surovíhoso’s wife return to the world of the living as herself and not a typical reincarnation, under certain conditions.

Surovíhoso’s wife would have to follow behind Surovíhoso for their ascent to the surface, they would not be allowed to speak during the climb, and Surovíhoso could not turn to look at her till they reached daylight. Vuzhí wanted to test Surovíhoso’s willpower and his trust in Her.

The musician widower gladly accepted Vuzhí’s conditions and stood by the doorway with his back turned. Vuzhí had his wife informed of the deal and brought in. She then told the couple it was time for them to leave. Quietly, they exited the great hall and Pétíso’s castle, passed Pétíso’s guard dog, and began up the path to the surface.

With the circle of daylight in sight ahead, Surovíhoso’s longing for his wife overcame him. He turned to cast his eyes upon her beautiful countenance. Instantly, Pétíso sucked her back down to the underworld, to forever be separated from her husband.

Surovíhoso erupted in tears, knowing how close he had been to happiness and how he had erased that chance. He crawled out of the cave, not caring if he should live or die. He knew he should have trusted Vuzhí. He should have believed Her. Surovíhoso had doubted the Iron Queen and received a life of misery for that doubt.

Trust in Vuzhí. She wants what is best for you -- in this life and the next. Honor Vuzhí and She will bring you fertility and growth. Listen to Her and She will prepare you for the afterlife. Live to please Vuzhí and you will have a good soul. Have a good soul and the Queen of the Dead will make sure your afterlife will be pleasant. Ignore the Iron Queen and your afterlife will be an eternity of pain.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

3" Snow: Winter's Still Here

Apparently the City of Seattle hasn't gone back to just sand on their roads, because driving to work today was easy peasy. Salt is good.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Curve Ahead!

These photos are from the Washington State Department of Transportation. They sent a crew up to Washington Pass yesterday to measure the snow and estimate when they'll open the pass.

Watch out for the curve!

Slow down!

It will be over a month before I can finish Highway 20. Alas!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


As today is the first day of National Invasive Weeds Awareness Week, I thought I'd let you know the following.

The blackberries and ivy survived the extended sub-freezing winter just fine and are, in fact, thriving. The morning glory, however, seems to have been satisfactorily killed by the month of cold.


I think some of our non-weeds died this winter, too.


Saturday, February 21, 2009


I de-dandelioned our front yard today with a trowel. Very satisfying. Last year they won; this year I'll take 'em.

We couldn't find our hand-held clippers, despite looking around for far too long. Very annoying. They have a red handle. Have you seen them?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Tale of Nazhoro

If you think this is cold, try jumping out of scalding-hot smithy into a snowbank high on a mountaintop!

That'll cool you off.

Happy Holy Day of Nazhoro!


When Nuvíní, High Goddess of Earth, gave birth to twins, One of Them was blond, fair-skinned, beautiful, and perfect; while the other was dark, ugly, crippled, and blind. The beautiful child-goddess was Rézhíní, Goddess of Plants. The hideous, lame child-god was Nazhoro, Who Nuvíní tossed out of Her castle in disgust.

The infant Nazhoro lay helpless on the dirt until Kérasa, High Goddess of Water, rescued Him. She took Him back to Her home, high on Mount Farasa, and raised Him Herself. Kérasa taught Nazhoro many crafts and skills. She taught Him to be even-tempered and proud of His capabilities, despite His blindness and gnarled leg.

With Kérasa’s hearty meals, Nazhoro grew muscular and tall. He worked hard and honed His skill in the smithy. Even though He could not see the metal He pounded, He formed wondrous and strong chains, swords, and shields by touch, sound, and smell alone. Nazhoro became the greatest blacksmith of all time. The mortals who lived around Mount Farasa trekked high up the slopes to obtain His services.

So high up the mountain, a freezing wind continuously blew across the landscape. At night, when the mortals would go away, Nazhoro would leave His smithy and wander the mountainside. He took great pleasure in the cold, biting wind. Because He could not see, Nazhoro enjoyed the sensation of touch most of all. To exit His scalding-hot smithy out onto the frigid, snow-encrusted mountain was among the most exhilarating experiences in His life.

The solitude of nighttime comforted Him. When the wind blew strong, it removed all sounds, leaving Nazhoro blessedly alone. He knew that the mortals always looked down upon Him because of His deformities, even though He was a god, so He was quite happy to be away from them. Nazhoro was glad His mother Nuvíní and the other gods had shunned Him. Kérasa had done so much for Him, but even being around Her for too long grew wearying.

Eventually, though, all good things must end. The other gods heard about Nazhoro’s marvelous skills as a blacksmith and began pestering Him for work. Vítí, Goddess of Ice, requested He make Her a new sword, which He gladly did. Tarénara, Goddess of Hunting, asked Him for a set of arrow tips, which Nazhoro forged for Her. Sozho, High God of Air and Nazhoro’s father, told Nazhoro to fashion a stronger magic shield for Him. Reluctantly, Nazhoro agreed to create the new shield. Zhoro, God of Heat, demanded that Nazhoro make Him a new breastplate. Nazhoro refused.

Zhoro, a perennial hot-head if there ever was one, whipped His sword out of its sheath and pointed it at Nazhoro’s face. Even though the blacksmith god could not see, He heard the sword and felt the wind on His face, thus determining the location of the blade. Zhoro insisted that Nazhoro make the breastplate, or He would kill Him.

Nazhoro refused, telling the God of Heat to leave His smithy. Zhoro laughed in reply, asking how Nazhoro intended to back up His words, since He was lame and blind. Furthermore, Zhoro snidely asked if Nazhoro expected His babysitter, Kérasa, to help Him by transforming into Her dragon shape, calling upon Her evil hordes of demons, and trying to challenge Zhoro in a duel She had lost once before.

Upon hearing this affront to the honor of the solitary person Who had ever helped Him, Nazhoro snatched up His mighty axe and swung it at Zhoro’s sword. The God of Heat did not react quickly enough. His blade shattered as Nazhoro’s axe sliced clean through it. Zhoro gasped in disbelief.

Nazhoro informed Zhoro that if He ever again insulted Kérasa, Nazhoro would not stop at destroying just His sword. Zhoro glanced down at His broken blade, gulped, and sprinted from the smithy. The blacksmith god quietly set down His axe and resumed work on Sozho’s new magic shield.

When He had the shield complete, He took it to Sozho’s castle. Many gods and goddesses were in the great hall, deeply engrossed in a raucous party. Nazhoro gritted His teeth at the considerable din and entered the room, searching for Sozho.

Unbeknownst to Nazhoro, earlier that fourday, His twin sister Rézhíní had had a dream about Her own death. She told of this dream to Her mother, Nuvíní, High Goddess of Earth, Who promptly made every object in the world swear an oath to never hurt Rézhíní. At the party, the gods were having fun with this new distraction, hurling random and sundry objects and weapons at Rézhíní and watching them deflect, leaving Her beautiful form unharmed completely.

Somehow, whether by mistake or by intent, Nuvíní had not extracted a promise from mistletoe. Zhíanoso, High God of Fire, noticed this oversight and, just for a laugh, created an arrow made solely from mistletoe wood and leaves.

Nazhoro finally discerned Sozho’s voice through the noisy crowd and handed the high god His new shield. Sozho thanked Him and then invited Nazhoro to join in the festivities, telling Him of Rézhíní’s new invulnerability. Nazhoro protested, saying that He could not throw anything at Her because He couldn’t see Her. In fact, He could locate Her precisely just by the slight sounds She made, but Nazhoro wanted an excuse to escape the overwhelming multitude.

At that moment, Zhíanoso stepped forward and offered to aim for Nazhoro, and, oh look, He had a bow and arrow ready to go. Nazhoro agreed, if only to speed His departure. The blind god accepted the bow and arrow and took aim at His sister, allowing Zhíanoso to assist.

The assembled gods and goddesses held Their breaths, waiting to laugh and exclaim when the arrow would bounce off the golden-haired goddess. But when Nazhoro released the arrow, it flew straight and true, piercing Her heart.

Everyone gasped. Rézhíní fell to the floor, the arrow protruding from Her chest. Zhíanoso exclaimed that Nazhoro had killed Her, somehow over-riding Nuvíní’s oaths. Goddesses shrieked. The other gods began advancing on Nazhoro, muttering darkly.

Knowing that He had somehow been tricked by Zhíanoso, Nazhoro fled the castle. The other gods chased Him, but Nazhoro was faster and more stealthy than They expected from a blind and lame god, so He quickly lost Them. Píríuso, God of the Sun and half-brother of the twins, vowed revenge for Rézhíní’s death. While the other gods returned to mourn the dead goddess, Píríuso charged across the land with blood boiling in His eyes, searching for Nazhoro.

The blind god returned to His home on Mount Farasa. He sat outside in the snow, letting the cold wind ease His grief the best it could. He had killed His sister. Nazhoro cried and the tears froze to His face. This was just another reason to avoid the other gods. They’re mean and evil and will trick you into doing evil things, just for Their amusement. Nazhoro did not want to see anyone ever again, even the magnificent goddess, Kérasa. For years and years, Nazhoro sat in the cold and wept.

During this time, Píríuso continued His search for Nazhoro. Since the sun god could see everything under the sun and had infinite time at His disposal, He eventually was able to spot Nazhoro sitting on the slopes of Mount Farasa, just outside His home. Píríuso swooped down toward Nazhoro and challenged the blind god to a duel to avenge Their sister’s death.

Nazhoro stood to face His challenger. The blind god’s face was grotesquely covered with frozen tears. He told the sun god that He was overcome with grief for killing Rézhíní and that Zhíanoso had tricked Him into doing it.

Naturally, Píríuso would not believe anything bad about His ally, the fire god. He ordered Nazhoro to stop talking and pick up His weapon. Nazhoro refused, saying He had no right to defend Himself after what He had done. Píríuso yelled at Him again to pick up His axe, or He would kill Him where He stood. Nazhoro refused once more, commanding Píríuso to follow through with His threat.

Píríuso did. He stabbed Nazhoro through the heart. The blind god collapsed, the soft snow engulfing His body. Satisfied, Píríuso wiped the blood from His sword and left.

Nazhoro’s spirit departed, as well. It headed for the great hall of Pétíso, God of the Dead, where all souls must go eventually. Once there, Nazhoro asked to forget everything when He would be reincarnated. Sívorí, Goddess of the Stars and Keeper of the Book of the Dead, told Pétíso to refuse. She told Pétíso that Nazhoro had lived a good and honest life. She told Him that Nazhoro was feeling guilty for killing Rézhíní, when in fact He had been tricked by Zhíanoso.

Upon His throne, Pétíso leaned forward and contemplated. Like the sun god, He too was an ally of Zhíanoso and did not believe ill of the fire god. Instead, He saw a chance to punish the blind god. Pétíso told Nazhoro that He would return to the world of the living and remember everything. And so it was.

Nazhoro awoke on the slopes of Mount Farasa, exactly where Píríuso had killed Him. Kérasa ran across the snowfield and grasped Him in Her arms, welcoming Him back to the living. Despite His giant size, Kérasa picked up the lame god and carried Him back to His smithy. Once there, Nazhoro thanked Her and announced that He wished to return to work.

And so He did. With every heft of His mighty hammer, Nazhoro feels the bow and arrow in His hands. With every clang of metal on metal, He hears His arrow slamming into Rézhíní’s chest. With every whiff of hot iron, He smells Her blood.

Eventually, Nazhoro will eradicate the memory of murdering His sister, but that time has yet to come. Until then, He continues to work in solitude, enjoying the company of no one.

Nazhoro knows what is right. Nazhoro knows what is honorable. Nazhoro knows what it means to take responsibility for His own actions.

Do you?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Since my bosses are at their annual meeting in Victoria, I had an urge to double-park in their reserved spaces.

Didn't, though.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Samsung Bad; LG Good

I went to the Verizon Wireless store to replace my three (four?) year old phone, since you can get a replacement after two years. I tried a couple cheap phones and decided to get the Samsung.

An hour later, Christina called me. The sound quality was awful, and it wasn't Christina's fault. It was the phone. We tested it at home last night with the same results.

Today, I went back to Verizon Wireless and told them that the sound quality was horrible and that the phone didn't meet the basic requirements to be called a telephone and should instead be only marketed as an oversized pocketwatch.

The VZW guy said that Samsung was actually one of the better brands for sound quality. That's sad.

The conversations lasted a half hour, but in summary, I was able to replace the Samsung with the cheapest LG phone (much better sound quality), which was listed at a higher price but they didn't charge me extra for, and I was able to get them to waive the $35 restocking fee on the crap Samsung phone.

So now I just need to navigate this mail-in rebate they gave me to get my money back to make it "free."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Snow, Snow Go Away. . .

It's been snowing all day with zero accumulation.

What's up with that?

The Tale of Néhété

Don't sit too close to your fire, inhale the smoke, asphyxiate, and die. Today's the Holy Day of Néhété, God of Smoke and Poisonous Air, and that would just be ironic and sad.

Kalambaka at night

Mists of darkness swirled thick and slow, deep in the primordial age, long before there was earth or mankind. Far above the murky fluids of the sea, the heavens revolved sedately around the darkness. The sea was both Kérasa, High Goddess of Water, and Her dishonest husband Hívo, God of Clean Water; the heavens were Their daughter Sívorí, Goddess of Stars; and the darkness was none other than Their son, Néhété.

Far above Their quiet parents, Sívorí and Néhété held an eternal discussion on as many subjects as there are stars in the sky, if not more. Néhété would ask a question, such as why the stars twinkle like they do, and Sívorí would always have an answer, such as stars twinkle because they are so far away and all extremely distant objects twinkle. Néhété would then ask another question, such as how we know that all distant objects twinkle. Years, cycles, and great cycles passed without notice as the two gods entertained each other this way.

During this wonderful conversation, Néhété and Sívorí managed to beget children, as did Their parents and Their siblings. The most powerful new god was Sorosotuzho, God of the Atmosphere and so much more. Sorosotuzho didn’t like how dark the universe had always been, so He created the sun to bring light to the world. Néhété, however, felt that the light was completely unnecessary, and so He returned the world to darkness, the way it had always been.

Néhété returned the peaceful darkness to every nook and cranny of the universe, cloaking the world with heavy mists. Néhété’s daughter Rakazhazhíní, Goddess of Clean Air, did not like the mist, so She undid Her father’s work, wafting away the clouds. Rakazhazhíní pulled away the darkness, letting the sun shine again.

Néhété scolded His daughter, asking Her why She would do such a thing. He promptly regenerated the darkness and cloaked the world in night, which Rakazhazhíní turned back to day. Néhété turned it back to night. His daughter turned it to day. And so the cycle of dark and light continues to this day without cessation.

After many years of creating darkness, all the while still holding enlightening discussions with Sívorí, Néhété and His close family were caught up in Korutuzho’s battle for control of the universe. Korutuzho, God of Agriculture, was the son of Sorosotuzho. Without rationale, Korutuzho despised all the elder gods -- Néhété, Sívorí, and Rakazhazhíní among Them -- so when He became King of the Gods, He banished all the elders to the underworld.

Néhété was understandably upset to lose His position in the sky, but He and Rakazhazhíní continued to make day and night unabated. Néhété and Sívorí began a lengthy discussion about Their new home, discovering all sorts of intricacies about the underworld and the afterlife, about departed souls and the path to reincarnation. Sívorí took the time to write down a synopsis of Their learning, crafting the Book of the Dead, with instructions and incantations for every soul of god and man alike.

At the gate to the underworld, Néhété created two rooms for every soul to pass through. One room holds a smoldering fire with noxious fumes that erase a soul’s memory. The other room is full of burning incense, the scent of which causes a soul to remember its past after reincarnation. Néhété presides over these rooms, questioning every approaching soul on which it would prefer and why it chooses as such.

Eventually, Sorosotuzho and the other elder gods escaped from the underworld to return to Their diminished places in the pantheon, but Néhété decided to stay behind. To this day, He and Sívorí still assist Pétíso, God of Death, in His judgment of all deceased souls. Néhété asks penetrating questions of the arriving souls while Sívorí gives Pétíso sage advice and interpretation of the souls’ answers.

One day, a non-deceased soul arrived at Néhété’s doors. She was Vuzhí, Goddess of Life, but She wanted to control more. She already was mistress of all living things, causing plants to grow and animals to run strong. She could bring human beings into existence, but Vuzhí also wanted to control them after they died.

When Vuzhí stopped at the gate, Néhété asked Her why She wanted to enter the underworld while She lived. Vuzhí claimed She wanted to talk to Pétíso about a personal matter. Néhété could sense Vuzhí’s circumspection, so He pressed Her further. He asked why She would want to go to the underworld when She was needed up above to keep the flowers blooming and life thriving.

Vuzhí claimed it would be just a short visit, but Néhété did not believe Her. He turned Her away, refusing entrance to either room and reminding Vuzhí that only the dead could enter Pétíso’s great hall.

So Vuzhí went away, but the next time Pétíso was above ground, taking His team of ink-black horses for a ride, Vuzhí made sure to be on His route. Vuzhí and Her friends danced through a meadow along the road, plucking flowers and singing songs. Vuzhí wore Her finest white gown, with Her golden hair tied up with ribbons and jewels. Exactly as She planned, Pétíso rode His chariot through the meadow and stopped abruptly at the sight of the beautiful dancing goddesses. Vuzhí sauntered over to Him and, with a calculated giggle, introduced Herself.

Barely a minute had passed till Pétíso, completely smitten by Vuzhí’s wily feminine charms, split the earth asunder, creating a chasm route directly to His home. Vuzhí climbed aboard His chariot and down They rode, completely bypassing Néhété’s doors.

Without Vuzhí, much as Néhété had feared, the world died. Leaves fell from the trees, leaving scraggly branches scraping the sky. Flowers wilted and shriveled into moist lumps of rot. Without food, animals either fled the land or starved to death. Human beings struggled on the best they could, hunkering down around their fires for warmth against the cold storms that wracked the land.

Néhété closed both entry doors at His post and went to see Pétíso. The God of Death and the Goddess of Life sat side by side on Pétíso’s throne. Vuzhí watched gleefully over all the souls now in Her charge. Pétíso looked nowhere but at Vuzhí. Néhété told Them of the destruction and devastation occurring above and asked the two gods if They cared. Neither did.

Thus rebuffed, Néhété left the underworld and traveled across the desolate terrain to the castle of Sozho, High God of Air and King of the Gods. All the gods were in such a tizzy. They saw the damage done to Their world, They knew it was Vuzhí’s fault, but They couldn’t find Her. Néhété immediately informed Them of Her location.

Storming into Pétíso’s great hall, Sozho ordered Vuzhí back to Her duties above ground. Vuzhí refused, quite enjoying Her new role as Queen of the Dead. Sozho demanded His brother Pétíso help Him. Pétíso refused, announcing that Vuzhí and He had married. Vuzhí could not be forcibly removed from Her husband’s house. The brother gods drew Their swords, just a twitch away from starting a war.

Néhété stepped between Them and held up His hands. He asked Them if They truly wanted to kill each other. Sozho remarked that He’d done it before and could do it again. Néhété said to let that be the last time, for He had a plan. Vuzhí would stay with Pétíso for half the year, but would return to Her duties above ground for the other half the year.

Nobody was satisfied, but They agreed that Néhété’s proposal was good and fair. Vuzhí returned to the surface, causing the plants to sprout and animals to bear young. This was the first spring season. It is thanks to Néhété’s wisdom that our world is fit for habitation at all. When winter ends, be sure to thank Him for His determination and glory.

Néhété is an ancient god and we must honor Him with the respect and sacrifices He deserves. Burn incense in His name. Breathe deeply of the smoke and question yourself. Inquire deep into your soul, for when you die, Néhété will penetrate it further than you can ever imagine.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

This Month's Photo of Chunlin

I'm only a week late. That's not too bad, is it?

For the world's enjoyment, here's February's photo from my personal calendar of Chunlin, from a year ago when we were in Victoria:

2-Chunlin Fort Rodd Wall

Ain't she a cutie?

Friday, February 06, 2009

I Had Always Wondered . . .

Thanks to xkcd, the "bases" have finally been explained:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


WA is for Western Australia.
Wa. and Wash. are for Washington.

Don't believe the federal government. What do they know?

Only use WA for Washington when mailing a letter via the United States Postal Service, because that's their rule.

Also, USPS made up ZIP codes for their own convenience, so why should we use them any other time?

Happy Naraka Day!

Today is, of course, the anniversary of the day when King Furoíso I began the unification of the kingdom of Naraka.

Hip hip hurray! Hip hip hurray! Hip hip hurray!

As such, I will now present to you a few excerpts from Furoíso's memoir/diary.

But first, the Narakan flag:

The year was 3/46/3 . . . or 1, depending on how you want to count it. For everyone at the time, it was the former. Years later, we would call it the latter, but not at the time, no. You see, I did not know that I would revitalize the Narakan nation; I did not know that I would become king.

I had left home to find the world aboard a trade ship. The captain did not tell me how long the voyage would be, and I did not care anyway. I was twenty-two.

The captain also failed to mention how often I would be paid. Unfortunately (for him), it turned out to be never. That is why I mutinied, revolted, and left. Headed for home on foot.

I knew that Rízhoso‘ono was somewhere to the southeast because I had stolen the navigator’s world map. I was at that inlet there, home was that dot there. Only a few inches! Should not take long, right? Gods, I was an idiot!

I will skip the mutiny bit for now and start with the journey.

We were hiding out in the tiny port town of Sírépaga, but not doing a very good job of it since there were only three taverns in town and we were in the closest one to the docks. But they did not find us. Go figure.

It was in that tavern that I first noticed I could understand the natives. All up and down the coasts, I became accustomed to ignoring the babble of the locals, but here in Sírépaga, they spoke Narakan! Well, almost. Enough so that I asked about it. After receiving a few growls, one old geezer deigned to answer.

“Them folk north and south speak odd, but over the pass, they speak the words normal-like.”

And what did he call the language?

“I never bothered to give it a name. Why should it have one? The words are the words.”

He seemed unimpressed by “Narakan,” but that is okay because I am sure he is dead now.

I convinced Zho and Vaví that we should head east, over the mountains. They readily agreed because, first, we were on the run, and second, I was the leader. So east we went, around the south end of Mafínopono Lake and into the hills.

Thinking back, we might as well have stolen a few horses, but we did all right on foot. The Road was made for foot traffic then. (I really should not call it “The Road,” but it was at least “the road” back then.) There were inns placed about every ten miles. We stopped at the first of these we came to and promptly started complaining.

“Oh, my feet!”

“I cannot walk another step!”

“Whose idea was this, anyway? Furo?!”

“Shut up. I hurt as much as you, but it was either this or be hung by our necks. Which would you prefer?”

“I would give my life to be dead. . .”

You would think that life aboard ship would keep us in shape. But I suppose climbing up and down ropes and swabbing decks use different muscles or something. In any case, we were sore and tired, and it was still early afternoon.

It was in the hamlet of Hurovo that I first met my wife- and queen-to-be, Rosí. I do not think she believed me when I said I would return, but I did and we got married the next year. You probably should not believe the tales about me walking across the continent for love. She was on my mind, true, but I had plenty of other reasons, as well. I was working to improve travel conditions, I was creating a trading corridor, I was uniting the Narakan nation!

Love? Yes, there was love. The first time I saw her, it was all I could do to keep from staring like a slack-jawed yokel. She was definitely the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. When I later learned that she was unmarried, I had a plan. A goal. What a smile! And those eyes. . . those eyes. . . She did not notice me at first, of course. I was but another traveler amongst many. But I stayed in Hurovo until she did know me, and fall in love with me, and agree to marry me.

For some reason, Zho and Vaví stayed with me then. Perhaps they were entertained by seeing their friend stricken so with love. Perhaps they felt Hurovo was as good of a town as any to settle down in. But if so, why did they follow me all the way on to Rízhoso‘ono? For friends, I really did not know them well.

But Rosí and I, we knew each other’s innermost thoughts and secrets after only two weeks. From a nod of recognition to such intimacy in eight days. . . I sit here now, disbelieving my old-man memories. I should have written this down back then. I would have; I planned to, but I was always so busy! Kingdoms do not start themselves, I will have you know!

Our second day we did better—a full twenty miles. We were not really in poor shape and it is not as if we had heavy loads to carry. In fact, all that we were carrying was the gold and silver we had swiped from the captain. “Back wages” we told ourselves. I worried whether or not the money would last until home. I need not have worried, though. Apparently, trade ships deal with an entirely different level of monetary sums than rural inns. I probably could have started my kingdom right then and there with the money in my purse, if I had known how.

But we had a plan, and we were sticking to it. Eastwards we went, mostly uphill that day, through farmlands and forests. Occasionally having to stop and ask directions at a fork in the road, asking for “the pass” and receiving helpful information.

We had lunch after ten miles, near Zanérífí Lake in the village of Rísorokama. I was there last year; it is still a nice place. Green hills surrounding you, piling taller and taller, hiding behind each other and jumping out at a curve in the creek. The winters in this region can get gray and dreary, but the summers are wonderful. Blue sky all around, blue lakes and clear streams to swim in, birds singing the day along. Everything is green, bright and varied greens. . . Occasionally winter days can be like that here, too—only colder. It is not like Karasalétu where everything dies in the winter and turns brown. Luckily it was not a typical gray winter day when we arrived, or else I probably would not have gotten off the ship! Instead, it was late winter pretending to be early spring and the sun was out and the world was a beautiful place.

. . . I really should not have decided to winter in Sírépaga this year. This has been a very gray winter. I should be down in Rízhoso‘ono where it is summer already! But here I am, rambling about the climate like an old fool. Ah, well. At least I will get some writing written while the weather’s wet.

That was one of my explanations of the flag, you know. Blue and green summer over gray winter. Of course now people say it is blue for Mafínopono, green for Karasalétu, and gray for Tékasara, but they do not seem to know why the duchies have those specific colors. Oh, sure, Mafínopono has water, Karasalétu has trees, and Tékasara has cities, but they all have all of them! To tell the truth, I designed the national colors while sitting beside a creek in Ríkoro County (it was not called that yet). I saw the rocks in the streambed, the trees and bushes along the creek, and the perfect blue sky. Epiphany! I had our flag!

My mother sewed the first Narakan flag. I did not tell her why I wanted it, but she made it anyway, bless her soul. The colors were darker than I had envisioned them, but you do not insult your mother—especially after she does you a favor. That flag is probably still floating around this palace somewhere, not doubt. We do not seem to throw anything away. . . . At least I think we left it up here in Sírépaga. I could be wrong. I often am, these days. I will ask Rosí about it tomorrow.

Well, I asked Rosí about the flag, and she said, “Do not you remember? My father burnt it!” And so he did. Threw it right in the fireplace the first time he saw it. If I remember correctly (and obviously I do not), Rosí’s father was one of the local leaders and did not want me upsetting the power structure. He would rather have his little chiefdom than be royalty!

Ha! He also forbade me to see his daughter! A lot of good that did him. It just convinced Rosí to run away with me. We went to Sírépaga, but we could have stopped much sooner. His power did not even reach to the next town. It does not matter in any case, because he is dead now.

Everyone is dead nowadays. Zho, Vaví, Koríso, everyone. Just me and Rosí, here in obscurity, whiling away our final years. I did not want to die when I was young, but I certainly did not want to end up like this! An old king with no kingdom and only half a brain left! Oh, the memories are still in there, but I need Rosí to get them out. Without her, . . .

Why did I give up my kingdom?! Because I felt old. What did I know then? Eleven more years of my body falling apart, failing on me. Now I am old. And my son forgets me. My dear sweet Furo, trying to ignore his feeble father, waiting for me to die. Soon, now doubt, it will be soon.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Unbuilt Highways

In Washington, there are several highways "on the books" that have yet to be built. Most of these will not be constructed before I get to their numbers because the Department of Transportation has no plans to build them.

SR 35: Created in 1995 and meant to be a short connecter across the Columbia River near White Salmon, Highway 35 would align with Oregon Route 35. A study was completed, but the bridge was never built. WSDOT does not list it among their projects.

SR 109: The northern third, from Taholah to Queets, has yet to be built. I believe this is because of jurisdictional issues with the Quinault Tribe. It's been listed since 1970, when the state renumbered its highways. WSDOT does not list its completion among their projects.

SR 168: This route has been talked about for ages, since before 1970. It's a highway over Naches Pass, bascially an all-weather shortcut for SR 410. Not only does Chinook Pass close in the winter, Highway 410 goes through Mount Rainier National Park, which doesn't allow commercial trucks. Despite the traffic that this road would alleviate from I-90, WSDOT does not list it among their projects.

SR 171: The Moses Lake portion of this highway exists (as city streets), but the much longer portion heading to Odessa has not been built, even though it's been listed since the restructuring of 1970. WSDOT does not list its completion among their projects.

SR 213: This route was defined in 1973, but has yet to be built. It would be a connection from SR 20 southward to US 97, south of Okanogan. Currently, there are county roads in that area that do the job. WSDOT does not list it among their projects. [UPDATE: The bridge across the Okanogan River connecting US 97 to Malott is now maintained by WSDOT and officially SR 213, even though it is unsigned as such.]

SR 230: This would be a wonderful new highway heading due east from I-90 at Ritzville. It would be a quicker, safer way to get to Pullman and WSU from Seattle than the current popular route of SR 26. Even though it's been legislated since 1970, WSDOT does not list it among their projects.

SR 276: Created in 1973 to be a bypass around the northern side of Pullman and WSU, this road has not been built, even though WSDOT bought the necessary rights-of-way for the route. Perhaps WSDOT has an institutional grudge against WSU. In Feburary 2007, WSDOT completed a routing development plan with the community's input, which doesn't quite make sense to me since they already have the land for the route. WSDOT does not list any plans to actually build the highway.

SR 339: This route was legislated in 1994 and still exists, sort of. It's the passenger-only ferry from Seattle to Vashon. King County now pays the state to operate the route, which makes it the equivalent of a county road that the county pays the state to maintain. Presumably the legislature will remove this route from their books, but that bill hasn't been introduced yet this term.

SR 501: The south and north ends of this highway have been constructed, in Vancouver and Ridgefield, but four miles along the Columbia River have yet to be built. WSDOT actually built part of the connecting highway already, but it doesn't go as far as the old highway, so the old highway still is the official route, and it gets shorter every time the river washes a section of it away. The route has been on the books since 1970 at least. Nowadays, however, Google Maps shows Highway 501 relocated to some county roads closer to I-5, but nothing from WSDOT or the legislature shows this change. WSDOT does not list any plans to complete this highway.

SR 704: This is the famed cross-base highway, legislated in 2002. WSDOT is finally beginning construction on it, but they haven't made it very far yet. As of today, they've made some improvements to a half-mile existing street, but won't finish that short stretch till this summer. Since only 13.5% of the full project has been funded, I wonder if it ever will be finished. With that amount of money, they might be able to make it another half mile. [UPDATE: The eastern 1/2 mile of this route ("Phase 1") is now open for traffic and signed as SR 704, even though it's just a widening of an existing road.]