Um... Have a *happy* new year!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Having no water service is much worse than no electricity...
Thanks to a burst water main or somesuch, our neighborhood is currently without water.
I'm getting thirsty.
If it's not back on when we get back from dinner, maybe I'll have to take a trip to the lake to pump some water...
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Have a look at this pre-filed bill in the Washington State Legislature for next year's session. Basically, it says that the federal government is constitutionally prohibited from owning land in the state of Washington without the state's consent, so the state is taking it back.
Oddly enough, I had this very idea a few months ago, as a way to curb the federal government's power. All states should do this.
But I doubt this bill will ever see the light of day. It will probably be "x-filed" or lost in a subcomittee for all time.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
My novel is "complete"! I've reached the 50,000-word goal for Nanowrimo! Hurrah!
In the wide and dusty valley, a herder minded his cattle. His dog ran to and fro, keeping the herd together. The herder walked slowly behind the herd, twirling a stick in his hand.
“You should honor Tíngnopok,” had said his wife, “for He watches over your cattle. He watches over you.”
The herder had not listened to his wife, however, and never bothered to go to Tíngnopok’s temple or even say a prayer of thanks to the Black God.
After thirteen months of such behavior, Tíngnopok became agitated.
And thus 50k words have been written. My work here is done...
Friday, November 26, 2010
I don't have much time to get to 50,000 words before the end of Nanowrimo, but I still plan to finish. I just need to remember to stop editing as I go!
Here are the words that got me to the 40k mark:
Íngna puffed out his cheeks to say something disrespectful, but then he noticed little clouds of dust around the knight’s body. The dust had kicked up when Íngna set him down and was only now just settling back to the earth. Had it really been so soon? Had he truly dug a grave in but a few seconds? Apparently, so.
“I am sorry, my father,” said Íngna with humility. “I see now what has happened. Somehow when the dying knight touched my forehead, the lightning gave me amazing power. With his last command of his body, the knight gave his strength to me.”
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Last night at 5 p.m., I had my quickest commute home in ages. Clear sailing. Not many cars on the roads. Plenty of green lights going my way.
When I saw the horror traffic jams on the late news, I was quite shocked. This morning, people who had been stuck in traffic all night?!
My drive in to work today was easy peasy, as well. More snow on the roads than last night, but it's dry, granular snow that makes good traction, even in the driveway. Hopefully SDOT doesn't spray too much of the de-icer on the streets to turn the good snow into nasty brown soup like two years ago...
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I've been lax the past few days on my writing. I fell behind schedule for the first time all month. Now, late on Sunday, I've reached 30,000 words, which I meant to reach on Friday. Here are the paragraphs about the witchy Mongana which took me over the 30k mark:
“Oh my,” said the blonde maiden. “Your hair is very black!”
“And yours is quite golden,” replied Mongana.
The pale goddess stepped into the water beside the maiden and stood close. The blonde girl did not flinch, but stood firm and gazed into Mongana’s dark eyes.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
I'm now over 2/5 through my goal of 50,000 words in my novel for November. Only slightly behind schedule, too. Here is the section which put me over the 20k milestone:
“It’s a wonderful day,” said Íkmí. “Is it not?”
Her two sisters were too busy combing their hair to reply.
Íkmí did not mind, for she was enjoying the warmth of Hahumí upon her skin from head to toe. The river water glistened upon her body, sparkling like a thousand jewels. Íkmí smiled tranquilly as the sun embraced her.
“Eeek!” shouted her sisters. “A snake!”
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Sunday, November 07, 2010
I have reached 10,000 words this week, this month. I am approximately one-fifth of the way done with my grand story, Chronicle of the Universe.
Here are the paragraphs that put me over the milestone:
Kíngtíní, old daughter of the great mother Anuhut, floated away from Nınom, disappearing from his sight. She walked through the village, none of the folk wise to Her presense. They acted as if She were not among them, for they could not see Her.
The Old Crone searched for a man named Manguhıng. Manguhıng was an old man and a rich man. He had amassed great wealth and was the richest man in the village, by far. Manguhıng had a flock of eighty-one sheep, all healthy and strong.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
RIMMER: You can scoff, Lister. That's nothing new. They laughed at
Galileo. They laughed at Edison. They laughed at Columbo.
LISTER: Who's Columbo?
RIMMER: The man with the dirty mac who discovered America.
- "Waiting for God," Red Dwarf
Saturday, October 09, 2010
WAC, huhDid you know that the Western Athletic Conference will be down to six schools in a couple years? There's a distinct possibility that it may dissolve and disappear. Kinda sad, really, for a conference that's been around since 1958 and had 24 members (but not all at the same time).
Good God y'all
What is it good for?
Say it again
WAC, whoa, Lord
What is it good for?
Listen to me
The charter members were, of course, BYU, Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The Arizona schools left in 1978 and the rest in 1999.
From six schools to eight to seven to eight to nine, where it held for twelve years, then to ten and to sixteen for three years, then to eight to nine to to ten to nine, and soon to eight and then six: Hawaii (since 1979), San Jose (since 1996), Lousiana Tech (2001), Idaho (2005), New Mexico State (2005), and Utah State (2005).
Maybe they should disband an all join the Big Sky Conference...
Friday, October 08, 2010
Time to finish packing. Time to leave China. Time to go back to work.
We needed three more suitcases... Chunyu found a couple old suitcases for us to use. We got everything packed away.
On the way to the airport, we stopped briefly for Chunlin to get a haircut touch-up, for Chunyu to buy us some donkey sandwiches, and back home to get the couple things for Jason that we forgot. Onto the expressway and airport-bound.
Jason was waiting at the airport. Chunlin and I took the luggage in and got our boarding passes, then went back out to sit and drink tea with her brothers.
An hour before the departure time, we headed to the newstand then finally through customs and security to the gate with twenty minutes to spare. Too tight for me.
At the gate was a bus. An empty bus arrived and ours left full. We boarded the plane up the stairs in the sun. The airport was far enough outside Beijing that the air is not too smoggy.
A couple more buses after ours. A few seats empty. The door closes ten or fifteen minutes late.
Wait wait wait in line to take off.
Finally in the air. Zai jian, Beijing. I spotted Pangu Plaza in the haze. Chunlin had the window seat. She spotted the Great Wall. Our seats were over th wing, so it was hard to see down.
The map function on the seatbacks wasn't functioning.
Still over China so it's six p.m. Still sunny on the northwest side of the plane. We closed the blinds because it was too hot, not because of the grumpy sleepers in the middle seats. It was still daytime! Wear an eye mask if you want darkness. I'd suggest earplugs, too...
The sunset turned into a sunrise, Venus disappeared into the haze, the clock changed to Tuesday and back to Monday, and then the San Juans were in sight. Back in the U.S. of A.
Coming in for a *yawn* landing.
Home sweet home. It's kinda cold here...
Thursday, October 07, 2010
One morning, Chunyu, Yüfang, Chunlin, and I went to a pharmacy. Down Chaoyang Bei Lu all the way into town -- almost to the Third Ring Road.
Shelves and shelves of Chinese medicine.
The labels on the cupboards were helpfully in English, too.
Almost English, that is.
The pharmacy had a scale. With shoes, etc., I weighed 207 lbs. My backpack that I'd been carrying every day weighed 13 lbs.
We next went to a clinic for Chunlin's shoulder and back problems. I hoped they could help, but I guessed they'd have the same efficacy as the chiropracter.
Red buckets hanging on the wall near the indoor fountain -- fire extinguishers?
Banners on the medical clinic's walls are the equivilant of certificates in frames in clinics back home. All I could read were the dates. The "0" zero has almost completely replaced the complex "ling" character (which means zero), even on these fancy banners -- completely replaced it on posters, etc. "Arabic" numerals have almost replaced Chinese numerals, in general. Chinese practacality -- use the simpler character that means the exact same thing.
A couple days later, Jason took us along with Shannon and Apple to the mega souvenir store for last-day purchases. First, though, we stopped at the shopping mall for mango smoothies and other desserts. This was in the embassy district. Tons of foreigners from all over the world.
We bought an abacus for Dad, a dragon mask for me, stuffed animals on a string for Mom (and Chunlin's boss), a silk shirt for Christina.
Out of curiosity, I asked a tshirt vendor her price for an "I Climbed the Great Wall." 80 yuan, she said. I told her the asking price on the wall the previous day had been 40 yuan, but we had talked that vendor down to 20. This tshirt vendor quickly dropped her price to 15 yuan, but I wasn't really interested. I already had one! "Why you ask me price if you don't want?" "Sorry! Sorry!" Ah. Silly American.
The next morning, our last day in China, Chunyu took us into Tongzhou (the satellite town near their home) to a big supermarket. We bought lots of candy.
Across the store, a fight broke out between a store clerk and a customer. The two women were grabbing at each other and throwing punches, screaming all the while. What was that about???
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
From the middle of Beijing, we walked and took the subway north and west to the Lama Temple. The bus was too crowded. The temple was originally an imperial residence, but was converted to a Tibetan Buddhist lamasery in 1744.
Lots of worshippers. 'Twas a Sunday, so the Buddhists were taking advantage of their day off work. I felt a bit self-conscious being a tourist while all these people were worshipping.
The Lama Temple was actually a series of halls, each one bigger and more ornate than the previous.
The statues inside got bigger and more ornate, too. But you're not allowed to take pictures inside the halls (or burn incense inside, for that matter). The final statue is an 18-meter-high colossus of Buddha in the penultimate hall. Huge. Golden. Peaceful. Carved from a single tree? Perhaps.
An epilogue hall, then back through the incense-filled courtyards to the main gate.
I've posted more photos of Lama Temple on flickr.
And that was that for sightseeing in China. We stood by the 2nd Ring Road and got picked up by Chunyu. Time to go home.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
At the heart of old Beijing rises the Drum Tower, from which drummers would beat out the times of the day (and occasional warnings).
Chunyu dropped us off -- Yüfang, Steven, Chunlin, and I -- and up we climbed.
Red columns and beams similar to the Southeast Watchtower. Later Ming Dynasty.
We had a half hour to wait till the 1:30 drum performance.
Views out over the hazy city. Visitors are only allowed on the south balcony -- into the sun, blech.
The tourists were gathering. No time for lunch.
Boom boom bada boom! Impressive five-man drum show on the big drums.
Then we descended and headed next door to the east to the same restaurant as Monday evening. At 2 p.m. it was slightly easier to get a table. Hao chi baozi, pi jiu goes down smooth from a bowl.
We said goodby to Yüfang and Steven. She took food to Chunyu, who was still at the car.
I took a brief look at the nearby Bell Tower, but didn't go inside.
More photos from our visit are on flickr, if you'd like to see them.
Monday, October 04, 2010
A typical Chinese city arterial street. Note the secondary lanes to the sides, primarily for bicycles, separated from the car lanes. Wide enough for cars, but you need to drive slowly. The street doesn't seem much wider than a typical American street, does it? If Seattle were serious about bicycles, we'd have avenues like this, instead of the stupid "sharrows" all over.
Another feature on Chinese streets: the countdown clock. They tell you how many seconds are remaining for the signal, whether it's red, green, or an arrow. In Seattle, we have countdown clocks on the pedestrian crossing signals, which I sometimes look at while driving to know how much is left in my green light. Wouldn't it be simpler to have it overhead? It's helpful to drivers so they know when they're not going to make a green or to minimize their impatience while waiting at a red.
Expressways are always fun, if they're flowing...
The blue streaks overhead are actually green arrows. The expressways (toll required, so not freeways) in Beijing are all very controlled. Variable speed limits, arrows for merging around blocking -- similar to what WSDOT installed in south Seattle on I-5 this year. But Beijing also has large signs that are maps of the near section of the expressway system, with red, yellow, and green lights showing where backups are. The closest we have in Seattle are a few "this way is 11 minutes, this way is 15 minutes" signs that don't really help you if you're not going to downtown Seattle or downtown Bellevue.
The Jingcheng Expressway north out of town, like many Chinese expressways, had different speed limits (maxima and minima) for different lanes.
Didn't we try that in the US and decide it didn't work?
Along with large signs saying "no overheight loads" (cartoon giraffe in a truck), "no overweight loads" (cartoon elephant in a truck), "no drunk driving" (various alcohol bottles and glasses), Beijing also had entertaining "no littering" signs.
Also this "Don't Use Neutral on the Downhill" sign...
I saw these signs along the expressway, when approaching tollbooths. At first, I assumed they meant "etc." for "all other vehicles," but that didn't really make sense. The ETC lanes didn't have to stop, and why would the Chinese abbreviate in Latin? And then we figured out that it stood for "Electronic Transmitter C-doohickey," or whatever. Electronic tolling like WSDOT's Good-to-Go program where you put a transmitter in your car, linked to a prepaid account.
Chunyu's car had a built-in GPS.
It worked swell most of the time, but when we drove out to the Great Wall on the new Jingcheng Expressway, it failed.
The GPS told Chunyu to exit the expressway and get on the old highway, but I convinced him not to exit. Soon we were wandering across the countryside, flying over rivers and through mountains, nary a road in sight (on the map, at least), while the GPS tried to recalculate...
Oh well. At least it played DVDs.
A DVD player in the front seat of the car is a delightfully dangerous distraction. Kung fu!
I wasn't entirely comfortable with Chunyu watching the movie while driving. Drift in the lane, drift slower and slower, speed up again. Eyes on the road, please.
On Sunday morning, 'twas an empty city. Our whole family piled into the car, going down the relatively empty road.
A donkey pulling a cart down the boulevard...
Chunyu wasn't quite sure how to get to the Drum Tower, so he turned left down an alley shortcut to the expressway and we wound up three miles off-course -- in the middle of a traffic jam. Nice. How come Chaoyang Road was so clear? How come he didn't know it went straight into town? When we finally got near the Drum Tower, traffic was so slow that pedestrians passed us. The heart of Beijing is made for bicycles and pedestrians, not automobiles.
On Chaoyang Road, dozens and dozens of apartment skyscrapers were under construction, vacant. Three-story worker shelters cowered nearby. Who will live in this new city? A half million new residents -- from older parts of Beijing? From the provinces? And they'll be served by two or three new subway stops on the 6 line (under construction -- Coming 2011!).
No city's subway is as complex as New York's, I'd say. Big? Yes. Busy? Yes. Complex? No. Beijing and Shanghai both need a lot more crisscrossing lines to get to New York's level. Beijing is trying to have New York's subway system overlayed with Los Angeles's expressway system, but they're not there yet. Right now, they have Houston's expressway system with ten times the traffic. A car town desperately trying to catch up.