November 2006

Monthly Archive

Proof from a Scientist

Posted by on 30 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

As of 28 November (so not counting yesterday and last night), the precipitation totals in Olympia were:

Nov 2006:
19.16″
average Nov:
8.13″
Nov record precip:
15.51″ (1962)
record any month:
19.84″ (01/1953)

Normally, we get more than at the weather station, because we are actually slightly closer to Shelton than Olympia. So I suspect it isn’t just my imagination that things seem a bit soggier than normal…
From the office of the Washington state Climatologist

http://www.climate.washington.edu/events/2006NovRain.html#Table

Yep. Rainiest Month, EVER!

Posted by on 30 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: rain, Uncategorized, weather

Ever, ever, ever — since they started keeping records in Washington state NO month has has more precipitation than this one. It’s almost over, but it’s still raining.

So what?

Along with other climate change things, this has the potential to really impact the quality of life, and in some places the quantity of life. We are just not used to really dry (3 months, no rain) summers and really wet (constant rain many weeks) winters. Though last year we set a record for longest stretch of rainy days.

It will change the kinds of plants that can grow successfully, and therefore the animals that can live here.

It will change our fuel consumption, as we go from a moderate clime that requires no air conditioning (in these lightweight, huge houses once they’re hot they need air con, unlike old small, partially stone ones). It will change our exercise habits as mid-day outside becomes unbearable in the summer.

It might change our driving habits, working habits — is already changing school operations — if we continue to have really cold weather like this (not really likely, but possible).

Looking forward to seeing the analysis of this past year’s weather!

A Call to Action

Posted by on 29 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: caring, Giving, poverty, Uncategorized

I wrote this note to people on an email list today. As a quick update, I have managed to knit on the scarves for at least an hour each of the last two days and hope to knit some more today.

Original Post Title: It’s Cold. Where will you sleep tonight?

It has been very cold (for our area) for several days. It has also just begun to snow again. All this following a record wet month. With enough snow today King County to the north of me will break the all-time one-month record for precipitation.

I am lucky to have a well-insulated house in a relatively moderate climate. So many people don’t. The emergency shelters all over our state are open.

I don’t have a lot of the external signs of prosperity, but I know how fortunate I am. I went through my closet last week and pulled out some blankets and clothes we can live without. As soon as it’s safe to drive into town, I will take them to the people who run the shelters.

I continue to knit scarves and hats of the left-over yarn other people have given me, and try to find things like soap and toothbrushes at the discount stores when I have a little extra, to put into the bags with the scarves.

I have also helped buy supplies to make lunches for habitat for humanity workers in the past. And we have some construction materials we are donating to the Habitat-run recycled material store…

And still I wonder — what else can I do? What more can I contribute to make things just a little easier, a little safer, a littler better? I know I can’t save everyone – where do I focus my energy?

We have been talking about how we need to use our resources to support our church — it does take money to run, the people who work for our benefit deserve to have comfortable homes and living wages. We have also been talking about things happening around the world — the needs and hopes and fears of people on the other side of the world, and political responses to these things. How do we balance their needs, our needs, with the needs right here at our doorsteps?

I focus first on my family — then on my neighbors — then on those in the community. I “think globally, act locally” to the best of my ability.

This balancing act, of staying sane while caring about others; of helping others while maintaining your own security… this is hard going.

And this time of year, the traditional time of giving, makes my efforts feel so inadequate. But I keep at it. Someday, maybe, I will have more to give — in the meantime, maybe one person will have a warmer day because of my small contribution.

I would be interested in hearing how others of us approach this problem, so many people with so many needs: how to prioritize out of your limited resources?

New Look to Web Page

Posted by on 28 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I played around with the css for the page and added a background image of the lights and baubles on our holiday tree.

Yes, holiday tree.  We don’t celebrate Christmas, but have a tree for the season.

If something seems buggy or ugly, let me know.  I am just thrilled I was able to figure out how to add a background to someone else’s css…

SNOW!

Posted by on 27 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

And to prove it, here are pics from yesterday and today!

snow on the halloween pumpkins

the boys waiting for the school bus

my little cedar and the heathers by the driveway

and there you have it — snow accumulated on the ground, more expected tonight.  The kids are enjoying it, the dogs and parents slightly less so.

SNOW!

Posted by on 27 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: garden, Uncategorized, weather

Three pics (also posted on my family blog) from yesterday and today:

and yes, the kids were very excited!

Poverty

Posted by on 27 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: poverty, Uncategorized

Poverty is a topic that we avoid, at least in my family of origin.

We live comfortable lives, with plenty to eat and a roof over our heads.

We have a little bit extra so we can have computer access, or cable TV, or a collection of something or another.

Granted, so often those of us with, don’t even see those without. They are invisible because they don’t inhabit the same location. They are elsewhere: in rural areas, in the part of the city we don’t visit, in other countries entirely. It’s easier to ignore them when they aren’t there.

But they are there.

I challenge the few people who read this blog to think about just one thing they can to do alleviate poverty each day through the end of 2006. Drop a penny (or a dollar) in the red salvation army bucket. Buy an extra can of chili at the store and take it by the food bank. Make an online donation to the Salvation Army — or the food bank. Donate that unused jacket to the homeless shelter, or the shelter for battered women.

After giving thanks for your blessings:

What can you do to make the world a better place — in a very material way — today?

Another cute quiz

Posted by on 25 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I got 100% on my first try. 13 short questions. How will you do?

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know “no” from “know.” Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?

Pictures from the exhibition

Posted by on 25 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: Family Matters, Uncategorized

Okay, eight of the better pics of the fellows… outside OMSI, then by the Millenium Falcon exhibit…
outside OMSIboys outside Millenium Falcon

Jedi with Yoda ad Mace Windu, then meeting the Princess and her droids…

Jedi with Yoda and Mace WinduJedi meets Leia and droids

Jedi with a wookie and a scoundrel, and a young man with cool ride…

Jedi, wookie and scoundrelG next to Luke's landspeeder

finally Three Jedi Knights, then a Jedi with friendly storm troopers.

Three Jedi KnightsStorm Troopers with Jedi

Star Wars in Portland

Posted by on 25 Nov 2006 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Here are the promised pics, and my review of the exhibit…. a few more pics at my regular blog.



As mentioned yesterday, we paid to do the Millenium Falcon simulation. At $5 entry fee + $2 handling per ticket, I thought it was a bit steep, but based on previous experiences with simulators, I figured the kids would enjoy it and get a bit from it. After more tha 40 minutes waiting in line (nothing to sit on until you got right up to the entrance), on concrete, we finally got to go in. For a five-minute show where the concept was good but the four seats (two of which had only partial views) merely shook occasionally to make it seem as if something were happening. Ideally, a person would take away from this the idea that the universe is SO BIG and SO AMAZING that real-life scientists are actually working on the theory and practical matters that will someday make journeys to other star systems and galaxies possible.

But the discomfort in my back and legs, and the irritability of the long wait, made the partial view and the low-tech simulation very much not worth the money. Our younger child think he would have paid at most $2 to see this, and I agree. Definitely NOT worth even the $5 if we had picked up tickets earlier in the day (and all those tickets had sold out by the time we arrived). I might be more charitable toward this part of the exhibit if they had done the timed entry differently and if they had provided more seating in the waiting line. Rather than have all the tickets for the hour start at the same time, simply making them for quarter-hour intervals would have allowed people to explore other parts of the museum while waiting. Granted, we did try to let the kids explore around the area, but because we didn’t know how many people were being let in at a time nor how long it lasted, it was hard to judge how long and far away to let them go.

That was a major disappointment.

So. The main exhibit, with actual maquettes and models and costumes from the movies, was excellent. There was enough space for every person to spread out and look at things without getting in the way. In addition, there were kid-friendly activities and explanations scattered around the entire two-story space. The entrance, upstairs, focused on motion and prosthetics, including a really well-thought out mag-lev experiment using legos and magnets over tracks that ran through electromagnetic loops. There was an awesome-cool game with three stations, where moving cards on a table generated hologram-type images on a computer screen. The object of the games was to simulate life on Tattooine.

Downstairs, the emphasis was on robotics and life on other planets. In addition to the models and costumes, there were demonstrations of real-life robots, including a very nice 15-minute presentation (complete with some real robots and a few robotic characters) in a small theater set up at one end of the room. There was a trivia game about star wars in one area, the actual real-life landspeeder from Episode 4, and a very interesting hands-on demonstration on how difficult it is to program a robot for walking motion.

If we lived closer, I would go see the star wars exhibit again, in the middle of a week day. It was definitely interesting, and worth the price. In the interest of full disclosure, I calculated that if we bought a family membership to OMSI, then $3 entry fee was reasonable. Our other alternative was to pay $17 x 3 + $15 (for the younger child) entry fee. I don’t know that it would be worth going twice if I had to pay that amount more than once.

Summary: If the Star Wars exhibit (currently at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) comes close enough to your location for you to see it, especially if you are a fan, go! Lots of cool things to see and do. Don’t waste your money or time on the Millenium Falcon simulator.

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