Tuesday, September 30, 2008

August in Seaside, Part II

Ladybug's dad and I took a day trip excursion south of Seaside about an hour to visit the Tillamook Air Museum.

The museum houses the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world. That link was from Wikipedia, who also has this to say about the museum:

Constructed by the US Navy in 1942 during World War II for Naval Air Station Tillamook, the hangar building housing the aircraft is 1,072 feet long and 296 feet wide, giving it over six acres of space. It stands at 192 feet tall. The doors weigh 30 tons each and are 120 feet tall. Hangar "B" is one of two that were built on the site originally, Hangar "A" was destroyed by fire in 1992.

The place is very big. It is easy to spot from miles away and is just as impressive close up. Using meatball math, I figure it is about nine football fields in size. It took a lot of trees to make it too.

(Small aside...I apologize for the graininess of some of my pictures. This camera is cheap and less adaptable than I would like. I think my next camera will be the old style...my expensive digital camera only lasted about 6 years. Not enough.)

This place is a wonder for anyone who loves a beautiful airplane. I think a few other Snabulus readers share my regard for the designs of pre-1960s aircraft. I took a few pictures to give you a taste, but you should really go see the place to get the full sense of it. I am sure my dad, Moody Minstrel, and Pandabonium could give you more details and I might even mess up IDing the planes, but believe me when I say that my attachment to these pieces of engineering is an emotional one. I've seen precious few of these in the air, but for some reason I've had aviation dreams my whole life. I'm the annoying person in the passenger jet with the shades up during the movie staring at the clouds and the geomorphology of the space below me. I've even had my share of flying dreams. I probably should have been a pilot.

Anyhoo, after stepping into the heat, we paid our admission and stepped into this giant, cool space. One of the first planes I laid eyes on was not American, but instead a Soviet Mig-17.

If you need to fold your plane for storage, then a Grumman FM-2 Wildcat might be right up your alley.

This Douglas DC-3 is certainly more than any craft the tiny town of Garibaldi, Oregon has now, but it seemed necessary at the time.

The Grumman J2F-6 Duck was a biplane used right into WWII.

The Spanish Hispano HA-1112 was a German ME-109 with a Rolls Royce engine instead of Daimler Benz. The Germans (notice the Nazi swastika) assisted Francisco Franco in the Spanish civil war in the late 30s.

Indeed there were big planes and very small ones like this Chris-Tena Mini-coupe...

The Czech built Aero L-29 Delphin is a gorgeous trainer craft. There is something about the mirror steel finish with the aerodynamic smoothness that always catches my eye.

What trip to a WWII era aircraft hangar would be complete without a glimpse of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning.

As this simulator shows, flying a plane involved very little that might take your attention away from the skies in front of you. It isn't as if there were dozens of switches and gauges to keep track of, were there?

Over 100 million people died in World War II, so when it was finally over, the word PEACE! was a big deal. It is still possible that we could sense the good in such a concept now. Of course, they didn't have OJ Simpson to obsess on then.

On the way home, we stopped in Nehalem for a bit of antique store browsing and the weather was gorgeous.

In part 3, we will check out the fog and a disturbing look at today's Coastal mountain range.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

August in Seaside, Part I

Here we are over a month later and I finally get the time to write about our week in Seaside, Oregon. It was fun for everyone, but I would say that it was better for my companions (Ladybug and her Dad) than it was for me.

As happens so often, the old "ball and chain" got in the way of R & R (I meant work, silly. My wife is wonderful and accommodating and is in no way my ball and chain.) In addition to the other hats I wear, I am currently (also) in charge of our hosted IT infrastructure. We had MAJOR server farm issues that occurred just prior to this vacation that required a great deal of quick and dedicated action to rectify. Luckily, the customers were only minorly inconvenienced, but the aftereffects in tech support were a constant drain on my time and well-being. I brought my laptop to my vacation to conduct triage and answer questions. As if that weren't enough, the powers-that-be chose Wednesday of my vacation to terminate my coworker. That meant driving back to Portland to collect keys, etc. and manage his reaction, etc. Thankfully he took it well and I hope is happy to have that chaos out of his life. On that day, I had more tech support issues to solve before I could leave again in the afternoon.

Okay, I am whining. I get to do that on my blog and you must be a good listener to have made it this far. Thank you.

With all that said, we managed to let some good times roll in between distractions. We stayed at a brand spanking new TrendWest (now owned by the Wyndham chain) resort thanks to Ladybug's father's membership. It is a very nice hotel built on the ruins of an oceanside amusement park and a number of subsequent ramshackle enterprises that couldn't apparently make money off of this prime real estate.

We got a room fairly high up. In fact, we were able to look down on a lovely bed-and-breakfast we stayed at in the past (nice, but thin walls and squeaky old beds). The Victorian look is a good one.

The best thing about the Oregon Coast in August is the weather. Portland was an oven all week with temperatures between 90 and 102 F (32-39C) all week. The warmest day in Seaside was probably 72F (22C). A bank of fog and low clouds would either threaten offshore, blanket the headlands, or roll all the way in. In all cases, the temperatures were very comfortable. In fact, our fancy new hotel didn't bother with air conditioning at all. We used a ceiling fan and open doors to keep the temperature quite comfortable. Here is the fog bank hanging over Tillamook Head.

(Tillamook is a Chinook language term for "the people of Nehalem." Nehalem is the name of a river in the area. Chinook is a kind of "common tongue" for northwest tribes to communicate with one another.)

The picture above is an external view of our hotel for posterity.

The food in Seaside is good just about everywhere you go. Obviously, some places are better than others. Since we had a kitchen with a refrigerator, we ate most of our breakfasts in our room. To save some $$$, we ate some lunches and dinners there as well. The highlights of this trip included:

  • L'il Bayou restaurant which has very good remoulades and gumbos.

  • McKeown's Restaurant: The cioppino here is very nice. I thoroughly enjoyed mine. Their lunch fare is solid as well. Definitely a worthy place to eat.

  • the Seaside Oceanfront Inn and Restaurant: Wonderful traditional Oregon coast food and service. We did have a bit of bad luck with chowder where I think they let the milk boil, but everything else was exquisite.

The nasturtiums did very well this year at the coast...

This is a montage including Ladybug and myself along with some other nice floral gardens along the Seaside "promenade."

Kite culture is alive and well in Seaside.

Here on the west coast, we had no shortage of beautiful sunsets...

...and as the sun set, the moon would rise.

With all the distractions, it was nice to get back. I got up very early on Friday to drive back to Portland in a vain attempt to keep the house cool and pick the MiniSnab up from her Audubon backpacking trip to the Olympic mountains in Washington State. Sadly, it was 80F by 8:30am and the house became an oven for the day anyway. Sigh.

We will try it again some day with a bit less distraction and a bit more activity. Next up will be a day trip to the Tillamook Air Museum with some nice vintage aircraft pictures. Stay tuned for that.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Periodic Table of Videos

While we're waiting for Snabby tell us about Seaside, I thought you all might find this interesting.

I read about this project a couple of weeks ago and shared it with the Chemistry department and those that wrote back, loved it. My favorite person is by far Professor Martyn Poliakoff, although all the people involved are very good. I'm slowly working my way through the table and learning something each time I watch one. Here's the introductory video:

If you liked that, mayble you'll also like this version of the Periodic Table

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nowhere International Airport

So, I was doing a little research on Alaska's whole "Highway to Nowhere" scandal. There is a little red meat wherever you look, but there is a bit more to the story that people aren't telling you. All I've heard the last couple years about this is that a remote area of Alaska needed a bridge between the mainland and an island of 50 inhabitants. That wacky pork barrel Congress wanted to throw a couple hundred million free dollars to replace ferries on this desolate island.

However, a short trip to Wikipedia revealed that this desolate island housed Ketchikan International Airport. Funny, the news missed that. Also, Wikipedia had a link to the stats for the ferries for the year. It turns out the annual traffic on that desolate island was 350,000 people per year.

Seems more than a little weird that everyone on TV and the paper left that little fact out. Kind of an important thing when calling something a Bridge to Nowhere to acknowledge that Nowhere apparently has an international airport and that boats carry a great deal of people and freight each day.

The Astoria-Megler bridge here in Oregon runs 4.1 miles across the Columbia River to a remote backwater area of Washington with no major highways.

The Astoria-Warrenton Chamber of Commerce said of their bridge:

It didn’t take long for the bridge to prove its detractors wrong. The critics of the “Bridge to Nowhere” wondered out loud who would want to take a bridge from a small town to an empty shore. The answer came quickly: plenty of people. In the last five months of 1966, the bridge carried about 240,000 vehicles, the state’s projected figure for all of 1967. By 1993, more than 1.6 million vehicles a year were crossing the “Bridge to Nowhere.” On December 24, 1993, more than two years early, the bonds were paid off and the the toll removed.

Contruction started in 1962 and the bridge cost $24 million dollars. In current dollars, $171 million.

The fact that the Untested Gimmick, Sarah Palin, was recently nailed by conservative commentator Chris Matthews for lying at least 7 times about her part in this Bridge to Nowhere notwithstanding, I am concerned that the lust for red meat news reporting has overshadowed the fact that infrastructure is a low priority.

The other interesting point is that Gov. Palin and Alaska kept the money including building a road to meet the non-existent bridge.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that the truth was a casualty to the promotion of a pointless left-right debate about a bridge that was misrepresented from the get-go. How are we supposed to make an informed decision when the whole goddamned media is geared toward phosphorescent debates about contrived narratives? The answer is, "We aren't." We are supposed to walk back and forth in our little ideological ruts.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Catching up on the previous summer

School is in session and the punch has gone out of the local heat waves as summer bids adieu to the northwest. For those that recall, we painted our house and the MiniSnab (and friend) painted and redecorated her bedroom. Here is a short visual chronicle of those events...

This is the color scheme. For some odd reason, we haven't taken many pictures of the place. Nonetheless, we are happy with the outcome.

MiniSnab's pre-makeover bedroom. Ouch!

After picture 1 shows that MiniSnab is not afraid of color. Vivid is the keyword.

After picture 2 shows the sweet look of organization. While there have been brief periods of degradation, the overall choice to letting her choose her own colors and decor (within a certain budget) has been a positive experience for all of us. I must admit that I feared the color scheme would be too LOUD, but in reality it cheers up the whole house. In addition, her investment in her own vision propels her to not let her invention become ruined with clutter. Definitely a win-win.

Next up, Seaside!!! (possibly a 3 part gig)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Happy Birthday GNU

Let's face it, the Large Hadron Collider Rap is a hard act to follow, but with the help of Mr. Fry here, I think I can share something with you I've been wanting to share for the last couple of days.

I'm confident most Snabby readers are Windows, Mac or (OS2?) users. I migrated to Ubuntu Linux about 18 months ago. I've experienced both a lot of fun, and honestly at times, a lot of frustration. I seem to learn something new every day.

Typing of learning; I learnt the other day the GNU operating system will be celebrating it's 25th birthday on the 27th of this month. To help celebrate the 25th birthday, Stephen Fry has produced a short video clip talking about the Free Software Foundation. I knew Mr. Fry has his own blog and I also knew he's a bit of a tech geek, but I didn't realize he is a supporter of open source software.

If you can spare 5 minutes 51 seconds, I encourage you to watch Mr. Fry's video. In true Mr. Fry fashion, it's clever, entertaining, informative and just plain fun. I doubt it will convince many people to change operating systems, but it's still worth a gander. Enjoy!

Update: I forgot to give credit to GNU for the photo of Mr. Fry, sorry!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Large Hadron Collider Rap

Wired Mag has an article about it here.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

August was Stupid Anyway

Hi there friends, Romans, countrymen, and ex-pats. Thanks for lending me your eyes. It isn't as though nothing worth reporting has happened this summer, for it certainly has. However, circumstances and a lack of gumption combined to mark my absence for most of the summer.

The good news is that we were out doing things much of the time. The bad news is that a work-related sequence of events made life a royal pain in the kiester for me for most of August. I am still trying to dig out from that stuff.

In the mean time, the following things caused media frenzy (and a few might actually be important)...

  • Happy birthday everybody! Our entire family turned non-descript ages (mine was a prime number!) in late July and August.

  • Ladybug and I celebrated our 7th anniversary. Time for me to get the "itch," buy a 'Vette and bang some hookers. Then again, maybe not. (though a Studebaker is not out of the question if the circumstances are right.)

  • We spent the least relaxing week at a seaside resort that I've ever experienced.

  • Iraq adopted Obama's exit strategy...Bush says, "Alrighty."

  • Gas reached prices I haven't seen since I was in Japan in 1993.

  • Our house is painted!

  • Our Comcast connection quality has slowly spiraled down the toilet.

  • Obama vs McCain! (vs Barr vs Nader)

  • The reality presented by the news media bears so little resemblance to actual reality that it is now a series of programs on the Sci-Fi channel.

  • A horror I'd warned people about for years came to pass, only this time it was at work instead of the foreign policy sphere. I spent a lot of personal time and sanity points fixing it.

  • Obama chooses "The Innocuous Corporate Tool" as a running mate. (GNU license)

  • McCain chooses "The Untested Gimmick" as a running mate. (that's copyrighted buddy)

  • I saw the "probably" last Police concert. I saw the thinly veiled contempt the band members had for each other professionally concealed without affecting the musical experience.

  • I missed my first Oregon Country Fair in several years. :((

  • Gustav is the next Katrina!!!! Oh never mind, it only centered over the facility the refines half of our oil. Yawn.

  • I spent Labor Day laboring...at least it wasn't for work.

  • Russia/Georgia: Bear has cat's leg in it's mouth. Cat swats at bear to remove leg. Bear eats cat's leg and its tail. Eagle scowls but does nothing. Cat probably didn't learn anything from it.

  • I am teaching the MiniSnab how to drive. Luckily for her future, she is already knowledgeable in the use of public transportation.

  • I read and commented on all your blogs. It is this temporary form of permanence that I crave.

Pictures from the Seaside trip are pending!!!

UPDATE: Moody Minstrel reminded me that I forgot one bullet point...I added it up above.