Skiing and Snowboarding – Winter 2012

A collection of stills from my GoPro HD Hero camera from this winter’s trips to Stevens Pass. This is my second season of snowboarding and it’s really starting to gel for me, but some days I’m just in the mood to ski (or the snow isn’t soft enough that I’m willing to fall off my snowboard into it) so I strap on the sticks for a bit instead. The GoPro constantly amazes me with the results it turns out running on automatic. If I end up with any video footage I’m happy with I might add it into this gallery, too.

Gallery is here – slideshow button is at the top-right corner.

A little less snowflake, a little more sunshine.

Its another beautiful winter day in Seattle, of the sunny sparkly variety, as opposed to yesterday’s giant white flakes. The apocalyptic forecast from the drama-hungry tv news completely overvalued the little burp of winter that actually arrived, but the ensuing orange-alert freakout that swept Puget Sound kept nearly everyone home today. Most of the management at my office wimped out and cancelled any awesome holiday festivities that were planned for yesterday and today, postponing them halfway into January-slash-won’t-ever-happen, but I came to work today anyway on the off-chance a cool impromptu celebration happens with my fellow members of the skeleton crew. It’s also my last workday before I’m on vacation for 2 weeks so i wanted to make the most of any face-time I could get with people before I go off the grid. January will be really busy with career-related activity and I won’t have the luxury like I did today to wander through the halls sipping my coffee and extending Christmas wishes to my beloved comrades.

I hope any of you that venture outside of your homes today stay safe on the road, and I’d encourage the brave and well-equipped to do so and enjoy the spectacle of winter. The power and beauty of nature are truly breathtaking.

fire hydrant seattle pioneer square snow

October Retrospect – Part 3

Not all of October has been sunshine and rainbows. Actually none of it, since this is Seattle October – it’s been more foggy mornings, hazy afternoons, fallen leaves covering the sidewalks and the occasional bitterly cold wind cutting through my five layers of clothing. Yes, layering is still in – look it up, people.

In addition to our first newsworthy winter storm (admittedly a very low bar for our drama-starved local news stations) I’ve also been brewing a storm of my own since early October, inside my head. As the chaos of this storm has grown with each torturous day and each insomnia-filled night, so has my sanity quickly but silently slipped from my grasp like so many grains of sand pouring out between my outstretched fingers. Lacking clarity of purpose and with no clean space inside my mind on which to organize my jumble of memories, dreams and hallucinations into coherent thoughts, I have been drifting through each day a ragged, hollow shell of a man, consumed in my own anguish.

For you see, I have lost my iPod. Picture a world without music. Like a movie that has no soundtrack, mine has been a journey that lacks accompaniment. My secret weapon for maintaining sanity amidst a tumultuous life, my crutch, my companion, my addiction… stripped from me by cruel fate and a messy apartment.

I don’t truly know when it happened. I’ve re-examined every flash of recollection in my mind so many times that the true memories are intermingled now with both the hopes and the fears, creating a fable that is woven so tightly I have lost faith it will ever be unraveled to separate the yarns of truth from the red herrings spun into gold. There was a day, however, that sticks in the flurries of my mind. A day when I broke routine, when I didn’t put my iPod in the usual place. I needed a little extra 160-beats-per-minute fix that evening and indulged in such on the walk to my parking lot, rather than tucking my friend safely into my bag. When I switched from “walk” to “drive” I moved it from pocket to cupholder – still within arm’s reach. At home it was transported safely into my room, unloaded on the bed along with the other contents of my pockets – or at least, that’s one of the clips played so much in my mind that I’m convinced it must have happened that way. I stacked it with the other things I intended to pack for vacation the next day.

A day went by before I packed to leave, and on that day it was nowhere. I settled on traveling without it – against my better judgement – and left for a week empty of both hand and heart. When I returned the memories were foggy, the clutter piled even higher, and the last known location of the iPod lost deeper and deeper in my mind’s abyss.

Weeks have gone by and the detachment has grown severe. Each day I cease to function a little more, slowly but continuously wilting like a plant denied the sun, retreating into a confused malaise of mumbling, self-doubt and misanthropy. In a rare moment of clarity today I determined to cut my losses, to sever the bleeding limb and cauterize the wound to salvage what of life’s blood still flows in my mind’s musical veins. I found another iPod on ebay, and bid on it, and won. The same model as before, a 60gb iPod Photo, far from the cutting edge but a seamless replacement for the missing puzzle block in my life whose lack has rendered the puzzle’s image irrecognizable.

My purgatory has a limit, and it is marked by a UPS tracking number.

Winter in Seattle; come and gone

I’ve been meaning to wax poetic about Seattle’s epic 4 days of winter last week (yes, that’s right – winter lasts four whole days here) but am just finally getting the photos off my camera. Not that they’re anything to curl up by the fire with, but week-old news is at least slightly more interesting when there’s visual aids.

These are all from Monday night, the 27th, on my way home from work. It took me about 2 hours to travel the 11 miles from downtown, but I overheard people in my local grocery the next day claiming 5-6 hour commutes that fateful night. Granted, these may be the same people that caught a fish “this big” and are close “like this” with important Hollywood celebrities.

The whole thing was like a Bruce Willis movie, and I found it rather exciting and fun exercising some cunning and survival instincts and testing my knowledge of north Seattle’s backroads, all while “cut off from society” because the cell networks were too busy to be useful. I’m not sure many of my fellow travelers regarded the adventure with such enthusiasm, but (as Danielle and I keep reminding each other) what we regard with our Montana threshold for winter as the first decent snow of the season and a visible sign of the upcoming holidays must be for Seattlites who have never experienced it one of the seven signs of the apocalypse. The number of people who refused to leave their homes until the storm passed, who abandoned their cars on the freeway and didn’t return for them for days, and who bundled up their children and escorted them outside to snap pictures touching real, non-mall-Santa snow work to justify my exaggeration.

I toughed out the freeway long enough to cross the ship canal – there are only so many bridges, after all – before giving up on it. This may have been the 6-hour drive some people suffered:

I gave up on that mess at the first opportunity, putting my 4WD to work climbing into and out of a grassy median to the (relative) sanity of surface roads. Offramps were moving, but not much faster, so I still had plenty of time to look around, marvel at the ridiculousness of it all, and attempt artsy shots in between swaths of the wipers:

Highway 99 was working in my favor for a little while, until articulated city buses started repeatedly appearing in the ditch. In the first shot, notice how the rear tires are sliding as the driver guns the engine. This turned out to be not a great strategy (surprise!) as the rear end jack-knifed around a lightpole:

The news said 150 city bus drivers walked away their buses Monday, but local tv newscasters are *definitely* the kind of people that catch a fish “this big” so I’m assuming that number is more like 14.

I abandoned major thoroughfares at some point and turned down a side street I knew went all the way through; reference my knowledge of Seattle streets, as indicated above, which I feel confident in saying is above average even for lifetime residents. I guess I read maps, and I pay attention. Also, I drive around a lot. Anyway, tonight this shortcut was short-circuited by a FedEx-type truck sliding sideways down a narrow hill lined with parked cars. No place I wanted to be, thank you!

I don’t have any pictures after this, because this is when I got serious. 🙂 This was the last ten minutes of any good action movie, where the stuntmen take over and the bulk of the special effects budget is spent. There were shortcuts through shipping yards. There were parking-lot 4-wheel drifts. Curbs were scaled. Used-car lots were used as passageways. Hapless, dry-weather-optimized vehicles and their confused drivers were outmaneuvered. Ice, snow, slush, sleet – all were taunted for their ineffective attempt at keeping me from dinner.

In the end I rather enjoyed it, much like I imagine Chuck Norris enjoys standing victorious over a roomful of incapacitated masked assassins. Nevertheless, I opted to work from home Tuesday. After all, the sequel is never as good as the first one.

Countdown to absolute zero

The rain returned yesterday, which means it’s mercifully back above freezing. I was wearing three shirts, a sweater, a scarf and a wool coat and still couldn’t stay warm – and it’s not for lack of bodyfat. It was only a test of my cold-weather hardiness – which i failed and which indicates i’m not ready to cross three mountain passes friday and spend next week in montana for the holidays. If there was any lingering chance i might be the next antarctic blogger this winter has put that soundly to rest. Just thinking about it has me wishing for a hot drink.

I’m ready in nearly every other way, tho, or getting close. My Z should be back home in it’s garage, safe and warm, by thursday or so. All the quibbling between the body shop, the insurance company and myself (you can guess which of those three was the royal cheapskate causing all the turbulence – no, shut up, it wasn’t me) has finally subsided and the hood will be replaced proper with a factory aluminum one, which you bet your ass i’ll be inspecting very carefully in person on thursday morning to verify it’s the *real* aluminum deal and not the steel ripoff. If it weighs more than my garage door, heads will roll, people.

Other than a couple of gifts that will have to be belated due to my slacker friends taking off for the holidays already without warning me ahead of time to adjust my shopping deadlines, everything is purchased, wrapped, distributed and – in some cases – already unwrapped and covered with sticky fingerprints. I’ve had so much fun shopping this year for everyone; it’s really a bummer the rush was so brief and the high so expensive. 😉 At it’s peak (before the distribution phase) my plastic evergeen looked all kinds of festive. People with january birthdays can expect cool gifts, as i’m sure i’ll need another hit off the pipe by then.

I’m not packed, but i know what i need to pack (lots of wool). Also, ski gear. Hopefully i’ll get a chance to use it proper, but if not i’m sure goggles and a full face mask will come in handy walking out to get the paper for Dad. I’m hoping there will also be some seat time on the ‘rents’ sweet Honda ATV’s, and enough snow to plow the driveway with the big one, which is always 95% fun and only 5% chore, especially in ski goggles and a funny hat.

I’m ready to unplug for a bit, as well, not in a move to deflate my budding interweb stardom but just to live at a montana pace for a week, where my phone doesn’t work so i won’t get those daily SMS low-checking-balance warnings from my bank. To stop thinking about resumes i’ve sent that have gone unanswered, about bills that need to be paid with money that doesn’t exist, about house-buying and traffic and overdue auto repairs and not spending enough time at the gym. It will be great to think about everything but my regular life for a few days, even if it will all be waiting to greet me on my return. For 9 days, though, normal life will be frozen, along with everything else outside my parents’ four walls, so in that way the cold will be a welcome change.

Snow in Seattle! (always a catastrophe)

“Snow day! Three inches on the ground downtown and the city has shut down. We always makes jokes about that, about how little it takes for Seattlites to throw in the towel in the face of winter weather. But we really do have a low threshold for winter. 😉 I’m watching news footage of the hundreds of people armed with sleds, snowboards, skiis, and whatever else they can find sliding down the counterbalance – a really steep part of Queen Anne Ave a few blocks north of the Space Needle. With schools closed, government agencies on holiday, the buses largely not running or not running very effectively, cab drivers headed home for the day, and even Starbucks locking up the doors, there’s not much reason to go outside anyway, and not much keeping people from playing in the streets in whatever neighborhood they can walk to.

My office, too, declared a company holiday and sent us home. Thinking ahead, i opted not to go in at all in anticipation of a much-appreciated snow day. Can lying in bed until 10am be considered good planning?

I spent a little time finding some good pics for ya. You can also check out my live webcam conglomerate page – not my cams, i just put them all one page. Most of the credit goes to the WA dept of transportation. Anyway, here’s some fun shots of Seattle’s snowy madness.

One of metro’s articulated buses has a little trouble with an onramp.

I’m glad this isn’t my car! Looks like somebody took out a lightpole and an Audi in one swoop. Yet another reason not to be parked downtown today. Course i’m not parking anywhere lately…

Here’s a sound transit bus stuck sideways on 4th Ave downtown in front of the new public library construction site – which is on hold today, as well.

A nice crosstown shot from Lake City area, framed in snowy evergreens.

Foggy view of downtown over I-5 near UW. Of note here is the middle lane, which is supposed to be the express lanes. Not much express about that!

Instead of being in school or at work, residents of Queen Anne are taking to the streets on whatever will slide down the hill.

Okay, that’s all i got for ya. Going to go work out, take a shower, and microwave something to eat. Enjoy the weather!

Somewhere in here is what’s left of my optimism

So my motor was supposed to show up today, but G.I. Trucking sucks and is too lazy to get it here. Something about their truck breaking or whatever and they’ll try again friday. It’s been sitting at the seattle terminal since dec 17th. Seriously, people, what am i paying you for? And don’t get me started on fedex and ups… leaving notes on my door, coming during the day despite my specific requests to come after work, being generally incompetent and disorganized. Ugh.

In other news, seattle is all snowy and wintery, very very weird to see out the window. Downtown covered with snow, very disturbing. I don’t like it. I want it to go away. Had a nice breakfast with Kim and Erika, welcoming them back to our supposedly-mild-weathered home. Steph and i grabbed lunch supplies and raced to her house to meet the engine shipment that never arrived… oh, wait, i was going to change the subject. Sorry. So anyway, first car payment is due in 15 days. Sure getting my money’s worth there. I pick up a rental car friday morning so i can drive all over town running errands, buying tools and come up to Steph’s with a trunk full of supplies and work on my car. Oh, wait, not gonna get much done without that order of parts from Courtesy Nissan i placed on the 12th that hasn’t arrived because they lost the invoice. Didn’t stop them from already billing my credit card. And people say big business is evil… small business is just as bad.

Oh, right, i had somethign funny to show you. Check out the funny mac-related t-shirts on this website, I think this one is my favorite. If they had any left besides XXL i might actually buy one and wear it to work.