Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baby it's cold outside ..

Yes, I am a Dean Martin fan, but this is really true. Under normal circumstances, it doesn't really snow much around Seattle. It does up in the passes, but not in Seattle and it's surrounding suburbs.

Now for the strange and bizarre. It started snowing Sunday morning. Off and on it still is, but the strange part is the 3 days on below freezing temperatures. Seattle is surrounded by ice. Cool.

Most of my office is working from home today, in fact so many that we are overloading our VPN services. My boss, the brave man he is (no he doesn't read this) decided to make a brave attempt to go into the office. It just so happens he drives the van pool. I really don't have anything to say near as entertaining as he, so I thought I would share his email into the office this morning. (Names of the nearly-innocent have been changed).


A blistery, snow blown winter day. I remember thinking a little snow is fun but a sheet of ice is hell. Winter jacket, hat, gloves and boots. All set. I headed out with full knowledge the traffic was light today. I checked and cross checked several Internet traffic cams. Others fear of snow is an advantage. It keeps the roads a little less hazardous for risk takers. Ready, Steady, Go.

Started the engine earlier to get the ride warm and defrosted. Got to plan ahead for these things. I headed off on the regular vanpool route. Darn, need gas. Guess I'll have to plan better next time. Something smells funny and a strange noise. Ah, the emergency brake is frozen closed. It will probably unstick itself by the time I get to the gas station. The route is going to be a little late today.

I was right, the ebrake broke lose but there is something wrong with the fuel gauge now. It isn't registering that I just put forty bucks of gas in. Oh well, I know it is there. Back on the road, windows defrosted but still frozen shut. It is cold out there anyway.

Now for some fun, the gulch by the next rider's house on 192 street. Car in front just lost it. Several in the ditch. Tow trucks are going to make a killing this month. That one is up-side-down. How did they even manage that? I guess anyone can get a license. Time to make my attempt down the little hill and up the big one. I wonder if I should get a run at it. Looks too iced over and the vehicle graveyard says otherwise. I'll go real slow, controlled. Hum, I'm not in control anymore. Better stop. I said stop. Whew. Steering is useless. I can not move without going to the apex of the hill (and a big pile of cars). Guess I'll pull the chains out of the back and see if I can drive over them for steering traction. Nada. These things are worthless on ice. I'm going to slide into that ditched Camry if I try to move again. Time to stay put and give this some thought.

(five minutes later) ...

Sweet, a sander. I didn't know Renton had a sander. All of us who are stuck are going to need to move enough so he can get by the graveyard. I can't move. Guess it has to be the guy in the Civic stuck trying to go up the little hill. No English? Perfect. Maybe one of these other people know Spanish. No? Time to play charades.

(five minutes later) ...

Lucky we had enough chains to make a track so we could push the Civic nearly into the ditch. I think he is going to need a tow truck. Here comes the sand. Awesome.

Huh. There is something you don't see everyday. Sand truck driver hopped out and his rig is rolling away without him. He is pretty good at running on the ice. I think I would break my neck if I tried that. I can't believe he caught it. Ok, here he comes and now he is sideways. All 14 wheels of his sander are sliding sideways down an iced over hill at the Metro Van that is nearly up against the Camry in the ditch. Not good. At least he is still spreading sand as he slides down the hill.

Good recovery. Sander missed the van by an inch. Scoop some sand from the street and pack the van's front tires. Lay down the chains. I'm on the road again. I'm feeling pretty lucky but I think I'll stop while I am ahead. 25 more miles of this isn't going to happen.

Thanks boss, you made my day!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Rainy days and Thursdays

I made it to work on time today, for the first time in over a week, two weeks maybe. I unload my laptop on my desk and take my jacket off when the head IT guy comes over and asks: "What's that big yellow-orange circle in the sky?" As I turned I noticed it as well, big, impressive and warm. I was in awe, it had been a long time since I had seen that big ball in the sky, and in a field of blue as well.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, at the halfway point of November we have already broke records. The headline reads that this is 'The wettest November on record ... already", and I think I read elsewhere that this has been the second or third wettest month ever. Again, we are only half way through. But today looks better.

Here's a question for my reader out there: When skies are gray and rain falls everywhere, it can be really depressing (Seattle has one of the highest suicide rates in the country this time of year), but when the sky turns clear and blue and the sun shines everywhere, it's a happy time. Why then is someone who is depressed said to be 'blue'? Out here the blue sky marks the end of the rainy season, those days from June to December, and the beginning of all manners of enjoyment.

What tomorrow brings, who knows, I certainly don't. I will open the blinds and enjoy this strange warmth that comes from the sky above, I will embrace change. For now.

Hope you day goes well.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The rise and fall of kings

I am reading a book series at the moment and really enjoying it. I have had problems in the past with non-fiction, finding it mostly dry. Car chases don't happen that often in real life and thus don't make it into non-fiction that often either. However, I was feeling that I was missing something and so I looked for a way to get into the genre. I found it in 'Historical Fiction'.

The series I am reading is written by Conn Iggulden, and is called the 'Emperor' series and is a piece of historical fiction concerning the life of Gaius Julius Caesar. Starting with his life in his early teens, the series gets personal and shows some of the make-up of the to-be-emperor. Better than that its describes and elaborates on times of the Roman Empire and the politics involved there. It gives a glimpse of how life was at that time, and what the ideal of Republic truly meant. I am currently on book two, Death of Kings, and find this a great read. The author even discusses, at the back of the book, which pieces are historical fact and likewise, which parts are embellishment. I recommend this series to anyone who likes history, with a flair.

The only thing I have yet to figure out is whether Julius Caesar was a good guy or a bad guy. As so often true with history, maybe there is no dividing line here. After all the Romans were the masters of re-writing history in there favor.


Friday, November 03, 2006

This Ain't Your Daddy's Prohibition

Just when you thought it might be safe for our children at school, the Candyman strikes.

Maybe just appropriate for the Halloween season, maybe just plain apropos. The Seattle Times ran a article yesterday on a specific school's policy towards sweets and other unhealthy snacks. Ingraham High School, of Seattle Public Schools, passed a rule banning sweets and unhealthy snacks, The schools have candy and snack machines, they're just full of bran flakes and bottled water. Blech! One student took this as an opportunity to test his entrepreneurial skills, he became the black market source for candy in school. The funny part is that not only is the newspaper protecting his identity, so are the school's teachers. Apparently, they buy on the black market as well and do not want to give up their source.

On the downside, he almost got busted for dealing drugs when trying to sell a '100 Grand' bar, the teacher thought she heard '100 grams'.

On another note: ine benefit of having 4 children, is four candy bags to raid from?