Thursday, May 29, 2014
Monday, May 26, 2014
|The time is 2:43|
The flipside came at noon or midnight, when all the steel balls would dump in a jarring noise into a plastic cup at noon. And the cycle repeated.
They're still being made and sold in some novelty shops.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
Friday, May 23, 2014
|On May 23, 2013, the Skagit River Bridge between Mount Vernon and Burlington, WA collapsed, illustrating the dire need for improved maintenance and upgrading of America's highway system.|
It was a typical late spring night in the Skagit Valley of Washington State. An idyllic place this time of year, very laid back and the end of the evening rush hour was winding down and people were coming home to enjoy their evenings. Yours Truly had just crossed this very bridge only a few hours earlier.
Suddenly at 7:00pm, a truck carrying an oversize load rammed a lower truss at the entry point of the southbound lanes of the Skagit River Bridge on Interstate 5, causing the north section of the bridge to buckle and destabilize off it's pilings. The truck which caused the accident successfully crossed the bridge. The vehicles behind the truck weren't so lucky.
Fortunately, aside from a few minor injuries and ruined vehicles, no one was killed.
But it magnified a long festering problem with America's highway bridges; Many are dangerously old, obsolete, and long in need of upgrading and replacement.
The news shocked America and made headlines worldwide. But none were shocked more than the people of Skagit County and it's two most populous cities, Mount Vernon and Burlington which were connected by the bridge. The bridge was also a vital trade and travel link between Vancouver, Canada and Seattle.
The I-5 Skagit River Bridge was long overdue for a modern replacement and considered functionally obsolete. Built in 1955, it was constructed at a time when there were far fewer vehicles on America's highways. The truss height at the bridge's southbound entry was 14'7" The height of the truck trailer was several inches higher.
|The southbound portion of the I-5 Skagit River Bridge just before the collapse. The truck was in the outer lane and struck the curved truss.|
The oversize truck also damaged a sway strut of the second span, but not enough to initiate a collapse. That span is being repaired, and all three remaining spans are returning to full use. (Wikipedia)
|Inspectors inspecting the Canadian semi which caused the bridge collapse.|
We never did get the brand new permanent bridge we were promised (It was a battle with the Canadian insurance company to get what we were owed.) All we got was a replacement section.
Today, the bridge has been renamed the Trooper Sean O'Connell Memorial Bridge, after a state trooper who was killed while directing traffic around the bridge.
Sunday, May 18, 2014
Tell Chairman Wheeler: Don't help Verizon kill Net Neutrality.
Net Neutrality is a principle that says that Internet users, not Internet service providers (ISPs), should be in control. It ensures that Internet service providers can’t speed up, slow down, or block web content based on its source, ownership, or destination.
Net Neutrality is dead for the time being – but the FCC could stand up to Verizon and AT&T and pass strong rules.
Instead, Wheeler's proposed rules would divide the Internet into fast lanes for wealthy corporations and slow lanes for the rest of us. Internet service providers (ISPs) would be allowed to relegate content to the slow lane unless the content provider paid up.
That means that the speed you could stream a video, for example, would not just depend on the kind of Internet plan you purchase from your ISP. It would also heavily depend upon whether the entity hosting the video paid for the express lane so that it didn’t take forever to download. Not only is this anti-consumer, allowing corporations to decide what kind of content you can access on the Internet is fundamentally anti-democratic.
Sign The Petition
One Frightening Chart Shows What You Might Pay For Internet Once Net Neutrality Is Gone
Amid protests, U.S. FCC proposes new 'net neutrality' rules
Write directly to the FCC and let them know the importance of net neutrality
My fellow bloggers and I depend on net neutrality to keep our content going. You need it if you use social networking like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest, Instagram or others. Or enjoy streaming audio/video from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Pandora or other sources.
WE ALL make the content that makes the internet. Not the corporations or the wealthy few. If we lose net neutrality, only a handful of voices by comparison will be able to be heard and seen online. This is dangerous for both democracy and the medium by limiting the amount of information people can obtain by how much the content provider can pay to provide it. And inevitably even you to access it.
Save the internet!
It was an idyllic Sunday morning not unlike this one 34 years ago today.
I put a shredded wheat biscuit in my cereal bowl and reached for the milk and heard what sounded like a muffled explosion off in the distance.
Not very loud, just barely above the threshold of all the other ambient noise around. But noticeable.
It was probably somebody's car backfiring I thought. But it didn't sound like that. Oh well. It was probably nothing.
My mom had Robert Schuller, a "possibility thinking" televangelist I never really understood playing on TV. But with my 12 year old mind in 1980, there was a lot I didn't understand about anything and especially her taste in everything.
|Namely this guy.|
About 10 minutes later, the TV broke in with a special report. Mount St. Helens had a massive eruption.
I changed the channel and immediately my mom told me to change it back. The same program came on another channel in the next hour and I told her Mount St. Helens had just erupted.
We watched for most of that morning (sorry Schuller.) I didn't know much about volcanoes. Other than they were cool because they covered everything with lava everywhere, just like the documentaries they showed on TV.
Starting in March, something was happening at a mountain I never heard of before called Mount St. Helens. First a bunch of earthquakes, but the news reporters said it was a volcano and it could be reawakening. Then a week later, the worst was confirmed, it was going to erupt. The first crater on the top of the volcano appeared and ugly black ash had coated the peak of what was a nearly perfectly symmetrical mountain with a snowy white top.
|A first crater was formed at the peak of the mountain on March 27, 1980, followed by a second smaller crater in April (left) with a noticeable bulge on the north side of the mountain. But nobody could have predicted what would happen on May 18, 1980. The science of volcanoes overall is still little known - especially those that formed the Cascade Mountain range. Which are composed of several similar volcanoes, all of them active. Mount Rainier, southeast of Seattle has had a swarm of recent small earthquakes and Mount Baker, which is a mere 40 miles from where I sit currently still has small steam plumes that rise above it occasionally, though nothing alarming.....For now....|
When it was apparent Mount St. Helens was coming back to life, camping and all recreational activity was restricted from the volcano and people living nearby were evacuated. All complied without hesitation.
Truman, a three times divorced, but then single old man (obviously) with 16 cats stubbornly refused to leave, fearing the government or developers would take his land. No amount of warning could convince him he was at serious risk. Yet he was frequently in denial of the magnitude of that risk, thinking the wilderness surrounding his lodge and Spirit Lake itself would protect him. "If the mountain goes, I'm going with it" he was quoted as saying. He became a minor celebrity but it was doubtful he actually enjoyed the attention.
He became a folk hero to some, but disregarded as a foolish old man by many. He flatly refused to go.
His time during the last few months of his life on Mount St. Helens was made into a 1981 movie St. Helens, starring legendary actor Art Carney as Harry Truman.
But while Harry Truman stayed on his mountain, everybody else wanted to get the hell away from it. 57 people perished in the disaster. One very lucky Seattle TV photographer barely made it out alive.
|The remains of Dave Crockett's KOMO-TV news car are still on view at the Mount St. Helens Historical Area.|
However, the most unusual thing about the eruption was the ash distribution. Ash closest to the mountain was like coarse sand, yet further away it was a talc-like powder, which made it easier to be carried by winds. And while the north side of the mountain collapsed in the eruption, very little ash made it into the Seattle area beyond a trace dusting. The dense ash blew straight into Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR. But the fine ash blew across the country mostly into Eastern Washington state, during day into night as far east as the Idaho panhandle and clouding skies into Minnesota and even Oklahoma with confirmed samples as far away as Virginia and North Carolina a few days after the eruption.
The eruption of course made for a quick industry in souvenirs. Millions of dollars were made by enterprising people selling Mount St. Helens ash to a history hungry public across America. But mostly in Washington State and Oregon.
|Photo: Conclusions Drawn|
There were also other products....
|Photo: Conclusions Drawn|
As well as songs about Mount St. Helens....
Mount St. Helens never had another major eruption since that fateful day. But don't let the returning forestry, wildlife, tourists and campers fool you. She's still very capable of re-erupting at any time. And living proof that no matter how clever we are, nature can and will surprise us at any time. And anywhere.
And we don't hold a wet match to it.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
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