Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Every So Often…

2010年 9月 4日

Every so often, Mount Ranier shows it’s face; and on a rare occasion, it is completely exposed for our enjoyment. Reportedly about 120 days a year are sunny in Seattle and about 90 days a year Ranier is visible. When I took my parents-in-law to visit in August about 6 of 9 days gave us views like this. This was shot from a cruise on Elliott Bay with the Port of Seattle in the foreground and nothing but Ranier in all its glory in the background. Note the tremendous glaciers and snow pack in August, which are at all time record levels.Mount Ranier

Long-Awaited Earthquake

2009年 2月 18日

Recently I was noting how long it has been since we felt a quake here. At 6:56 this morning my wait has ended. Hokuriku (北陸) is a ways from here, but the earthquake, centered there, gave my house a sturdy jolt. It was a relatively short quake. I woke up early to see if there was any snow or ice that would trouble my commute, otherwise I would have been sleeping when it hit.

I’m fine. I’ll give  you more updates if we get aftershocks. I hope you are all well wherever you are.

Wacky Weather

2009年 2月 17日

Woke up this morning not realizing anything special until I opened the water closet window and saw snow on my car. Fortunately there was nothing on the roadway and I got to work without incident. All day the weather was changing. At least once an hour, the snow would stop, the clouds would part, and the sun would come out and melt everything; only to be followed by a fresh flurry under dark gray cloud cover. Needless to say, this kind of rapid weather change was accompanied by strong winds.

Currently harboring a little concern over tomorrow’s conditions, because the snow had frozen on my window before I went to my evening class at the community center. Perhaps I should get up early to check: then I can watch the replay of SG-1 that I missed tonight.

Japanese people are completely sold on the concept of global warming. We call it chikyuu ondanka (地球温暖化), which is an odd word; on means ‘warm’ and dan means ‘warm’, and together they mean ‘warm’. Anyhow, on days like today, I like to mess with people’s concepts a little. (OK, I like to challenge people’s positions every day, but back to the point…) Global temperatures have been low for a couple years and Japan is no exception, but nobody is throwing off the chokehold yet. I like to tell people (on these days) that, “I am worried about chikyuu kanreika (地球寒冷化).” I replaced ondan with kanrei, which is made of two characters, each individually meaning ‘cold’; together they mean – you guessed it – ‘cold’.

Let me just be clear, throwing around a term like ‘global cooling’ gets a look of total bewilderment from educators. Partly this must be because nobody generally uses this term, but I think a big factor is that teaching is really closer to indoctrinating. When I was a child, all of my teachers told me I came from a monkey… Come to think of it, when I was in college they insisted I came from primordial slime. Had I said something audacious like, “Just because you found two things that look similar in different places, doesn’t mean one turned into the other.”, I surely would have gotten similar blank looks.

Certainly I am an odd fish, but I always enjoy the feeling when someone asks me a tough question about what I’m teaching and I realize I’ve been mistaken. Rather than being unsettled, I realize that I don’t have all knowledge yet, and this is just an aspect of learning… a process that all good teachers should continually be following. Teachers are students too.

No, I’m Not Ashamed

2009年 1月 5日

I did something tonight which I can’t blog about. No, I’m not ashamed. Actually, I’m quite proud of it. If you want to know, you’ll have to ask me after the eighth. With any luck I will remember to write about it and post a photo.

It’s just after 3am and I have to be out the door at 9:30AM. After a short nap, I’ll get up and finish packing. The weight juggling is going so-so. My three extra bags are a few pounds under just in case the airline has funny scales, but one of my free bags is five pounds overweight. What to do? My baggage fees will run something between $450 and $550.

Shocking? Not really, I purged so many items from my storage locker to get down to that weight. Now that the locker is empty I can stop paying about $80/month for that. I wouldn’t have another chance to close the unit until at least fall which would be at least $700 in fees, so I’ll be happy at $450.

Having my knives and nice pots and pans will give me a little joy in the kitchen. Also, everytime my girlfriend works in my kitchen, I am embarrassed and apologetic. This will be a big relief. I was a little sad to dump several nice mixing bowls and some pyrex measuring cups at Goodwill, but along with some vases they accounted for a healthy chunk of weight. My crystal bowls are making the trip, however.

One insane purchase was about 1300 candy canes for my students. It seems that a lot of Japanese folks aren’t aware of their pepperminty goodness, so I view this as an educational tool. Also, some students were asking me to bring presents and couldn’t grasp the idea that if I spent a dollar on each student it would be as much as the airplane ticket. I picked up the sweets for a little over $10 total on a Christmas clearance sale.

Another aside: we had a freak snowstorm this evening; giving me quite a scare. Fortunately, it started raining hard around midnight, so the roads should be clear.

I’d love to write more, but am worried I’ll miss my wake up call. G’night!

Algebra Class

2009年 1月 1日

Once again it is almost time for me to head west on my return to the East; so, number crunching commences. Airline baggage regulations and fees seem to change every few months now, requiring a carrier of many things to be forward thinking. On this trip, I am hoping to empty the remaining items from my rental storage unit. Ideally, I would like to sort through all my remaining items and:

  • sell unwanted items which are generally valuable
  • sell items which are easy to replace in Japan (especially heavy ones)
  • give away items that friends or family would likely use
  • donate items charities would likely use
  • throw away items of no particular long-term value
  • take anything left to Japan (e.g., expensive, hard to replace, useful)

Unfortunately in my first five days, I was prevented from accessing the unit and all that sorting, selling, giving, discarding, and packaging takes time. Most likely I will be shipping more to Japan than wanted and sorting there; however, the airlines want money for each bag shipped. Here’s a few things I learned (for NWA from US to Asia) about that:

  • there is no apparent weight limit on carry-on bags! (22x14x9″)
  • you can carry a lot of other stuff on board
  • in addition to a carry-on bag, a backpack is OK (15x11x6″)
  • two bags under 50 pounds can be checked for free
  • if the free bags exceed 50 pounds they incur a $50 fee, but can’t exceed 70 pounds
  • extra bags under 70 pounds are $150
  • extra bags up to 100 pounds are OK… at $450 each

Rule 1: put heaviest items into carry-on and backpack. Remember this requires you toting a lot of weight around, so there is a physical cost you may not want to pay.

Rule 2: never pack a bag over 70 pounds! Three 70 pounders add up to 210 pounds for the same cost as a 71 pound bag. Clearly they are strongly discouraging the shipping of large bags and promoting the financial oppression of people with poor math skills.

Rule 3: don’t pack three 46 pound bags for a $150 excess bag fee, when you could pack two 69 pound bags for $100 in overweight baggage fees.

Rule 4: if you are checking two 48 pound bags and two 68 pound bags – even if the heavy bags are your normal luggage and the light bags are (excess-baggage-looking) shipping boxes – check the light ones as the free bags. The natural psychological action would be to go on appearance, running up a bill of $400 vs. $300.

When I arrive in Japan with several extra bags, I will take advantage of a wonderful service. At my airport (NGO), immediately after exiting customs, we have a shipping company who will send my bags to my home. The cost is reasonable, and the convenience is incredible. Because we travel by train, bus, boat, and taxi so much, there are many services related to getting our stuff to our destination.

Well, enough talk… I better go start planning.