Saturday–25 February 2017

Much happenings since last post. We went to CA to see the newest granddaughter (and the rest of that great family). All the kids were cute, as expected. Pam flew down on a Thursday (she couldn’t wait); I drove down on the following Monday (Church things: a talk, and organist, plus the usual meetings). Drive was uneventful; the weather was mostly partly cloudy.

Although there had been much rain in CA before I left. The Oroville Dam (my uncle was an engineer for the dam) had problems with the spillway (main and emergency), with overtopping the emergency spillway causing some flooding concerns. They had a mandatory evacuation of low-lying areas below the dam. Lots of water in the flood plains as I drove down that area.

We drove back on a Friday. Big rainstorm that day, heavy from about Woodland to south of Red Bluff. But the freeways were above water – although that wasn’t the case the next day. Flooding across all lanes of I-5 north of Woodland (CA), but we missed it.

Our big concern was another landslide across the northbound lanes of I-5 above Woodland (WA). We were on the wrong side of that stretch during our return from CA a previous trip. Had to stay in Woodland, then a 50-mile detour that took 8 hours due to traffic. That closure lasted 3 days, so we were concerned a bit with the landslide that happened very near the first one.

But, we lucked out. The WDOT folks had only one lane (of three NB) blocked by the time we got there. Other than that excitement, a usual trip home. Although we had to stop in Roseburg for Pam to check out a sale at JoAnn’s – big sale, and no sales tax. I found it interesting that there were a half-dozen men waiting in that parking lot with me.

Since returning, I’ve been working on a ‘Learn to Read’ programming project. Found out that Windows 10 has an acceptable reading ‘voice’, so have spent some time designing a web-based site that includes reading and speaking words. Interesting to do.

Weather here has been typical – cloudy and showery some days, and showery with ‘sun-breaks’ other days. Temps ranging from 25-45F.

We got the electric bill for last month – there was a lot of cold weather (below freezing) which made our heat pump work overtime. The bill was $400. Our only alternative for heat is a propane fireplace insert, so not sure of savings there.

But I decided to do a wholesale replacement of all of the ‘can lights’ bulbs to LEDs. Found a 6-pack of LED 65W-equivalent bulbs for $18, so bought 3 of them. When they arrive, we’ll replace almost all of the existing bulbs (some CFL, some ‘old-fashioned’) with the LEDs. One on-line calculator said that I could recover the cost in electricity savings in about 7 weeks. And then the LED’s will only use about 10% of the power that incandescent use. Since there are some can lights that are on most of the time, this might save a bit on the next electric bill.

A trip to UT is planned for next month. We’ll drive there, then fly to TX for Pam to visit her mother (the flight goes from SLC to SEA to TX, but we got a cheap deal using Alaska air miles). Then drive from TX to UT (we’re bringing a car back to UT), then driving home. We’ve made the TX to UT drive before; it is quite scenic. Not sure how weather will affect us; hoping for minimal snow problems.

Friday–10 February 2017

Long day yesterday. Took Pam to the airport so she could visit the new granddaughter in CA. On the way back, some heavy rain around Tacoma (slow-down-to-30mph and the wipers still can’t keep up with the water). Stopped in Silverdale at The Habit (great stuff); they had a short power outage while I was finishing up the great cheeseburger. Filled up the gas tank. Headed to  WallyWorld to pick up prescriptions and a few other things. As I was getting ready to leave, got a text about the Hood Canal Bridge being closed because of high winds.

This happens when the winds on that floating bridge get above 45mph, and can be exacerbated by higher tides. That combines to put pressure of the current on the floating part of the bridge. (Years ago, that combination of things caused a section of the bridge to float away.)

Since the bridge was between my current location and home, I knew there would be a long wait to get home. I’d usually take the long way around Hood Canal (head south then over to Highway 101 north), which is about a ‘three hour tour’. Nice scenery, so not too bad.

Except there was a landslide across 101 near Hoodsport (south end of Hood Canal), so there was no telling when that would be fixed. So I resigned myself to an extended wait. I headed the back way to Port Gamble (right next to the bridge); that would put me close to the head of the line if/when the bridge opened – instead of waiting for a 6 mile backlog to filter across the bridge when it opened.

So, I parked next to the Port Gamble Cemetery – an open spot with few trees; since trees across roads or falling branches are not a good thing to be next to during high winds. Got quite windy; winds 25-30, with a few gusts that appeared to be 50+mph. And my view included the wind-whipped whitecaps on the Canal.

I got there about 2pm. The bridge opened at 830pm. A long wait, but I had an ebook to read, and stayed warm in the car. Finally got home about 900pm. Discovered there had been a power outage while I was gone (caused by a tree across the road home near here taking out a power line), but the lights were on when I got home.

This morning, rain (heavy at times), with another wind advisory. High winds have stopped ferry service near here. Getting gusts to 25mph here at home (my place is sort of wind-protected; the winds will be higher out on the Puget Sound). I suspect another closure of the Hood Canal Bridge, so today am staying home, hoping the lights stay on.

Wednesday–8 February 2017

A bit of snow falling earlier this morning – much less than 1/2 inch. It’s warming up outside now – to 33.4F, so the lightly falling snow flakes are starting to turn to a light drizzle. Weather dweebs are forecasting a rise in temperatures, so just light rain in the forecast.

Which is good for some areas around here. Just to the east, there was quite a bit of rain/sleet/snow, causing lots of ice on the tree branches. And that caused a bunch of power outages, with ice on the power lines, and trees falling across the lines because of the weight of the ice and snow on the branches. Some places have been without power since Monday, and it may take until tomorrow (Thursday) or Friday to get everyone back on.

Been lucky here; no power outages. Ready for them, though, with the generator. Still haven’t gotten around to installing the generator bypass switch for some of the power circuits here in the house. But I have lots of long orange power cords. Only need to run three of them: one each for refrigerator, chest freezer, and the DirecTV/TV in the den. With those, and the nice battery-powered LED lanterns, we have survived this winters’ outages.

Some bug-fixing on the WordPress plugins this morning. Geeky stuff, and easy enough to fix. Waiting for the sixth plugin to be approved by the WP guys before I can release it.

Tuesday–7 February 2017

The day started out cloudy and cold, but now, as the sun starts setting soon, the skies are mostly clear but still cold at 34F. Cold tonight, but slowly warming up this week until more rain comes in Friday.

Worked on a new WordPress plugin today, figuring out a problem that was bugging me (well, it was a ‘bug’) for a couple of days. Did the final cleanup of the plugin, and submitted it to WordPress for inclusion in their ‘approved’ plugins. I enjoy doing the programming, sitting here in the living room, with glances out the window at the clouds and skies and the occasional ship transiting Puget Sound.

Another interesting project will be started in a few days. Not sure how it will turn out; it may ‘stretch’ me a bit to get it working properly. But have been interested in it for a while. More on that project later.

Pam will be flying to CA to see the new granddaughter on Thursday. I’ll follow by driving down Monday. I have to give a talk and be the organist at Church on Sunday, or I’d go with her. No backup for those tasks…I *am* the backup.

Monday-6 February 2017

Today is travel day. Or was. Left the house at 630am to make a 12:00 flight out of Seattle to Sacramento to visit the newest granddaughter. But a big snowstorm (for this area) started last evening. This morning, the roads were slushy and icy on the main roads, but we drove carefully in our 4WD Highlander (with the ‘snow’ setting on). We passed a dozen cars on the side of the road, including the Audi who passed us, then slid off the road a couple of hundred feet in front of us.

About an hour into the drive, as the snow falling a bit thicker, got a text from Alaska Airlines that the flight was cancelled. The snow storm is not expected to end until this afternoon, so we turned around and headed back home.

At our house, under an inch on the ground, and some light snow falling right now. It is pretty to look at, though; during the drive, the trees (there are lots of them around here) had ‘rime’ (ice and snow covered branches), so that was nice to look at (while concentrating on the road, and dodging a few large branches that had fallen in the road).

So, staying inside today. Cancelled our flights (both direction), got the mail and FedEx/UPS off of vacation hold. Planning on going next Monday; may drive, as the weather is supposed to be better next week – this storm system is supposed to clear out by tomorrow, with warming forecaset – perhaps up to 50F !

Friday–3 February 2017

Woke up this morning to a light dusting of snow, which melted as it got a bit warmer. Temps now at 1300PST are around 38F, so just some light (radar green) to medium (radar yellow) rain now. That will continue for a few days as this area transitions back to the usual cloudy/rainy weather.

I knew that today was going to be rainy, so yesterday did the supply trip to ‘town’ to get a few groceries and pick up some meds (prescribed). Took advantage of the trip to have a late lunch/early dinner at The Habit Burger, which is now in Silverdale. Great burgers there, along with a tri-tip on sourdough with BBQ sauce that the wife likes. I think their burger are better than In-n-Out, and they also have some great onion rings.

The trip was rounded out with a trip to the wife’s favorite craft store, while I went next door to pick up some pens/pencils for the church library. Then, filled up the gas tank on the way home, saving about $0.25/gallon over prices that are closer to home.

Also of note this morning: saw one of the neighborhood eagles take a route directly over my house about 20 feet above, going directly towards my big windows looking east. Nice. Apparently, eagle sightings are a harbinger of good luck.

Wednesday-1 February 2017

Happy February!

Clear blue skies, but chilly. Currently 40F, with overnight lows in the 20sF. Rainy weather forecast for later in the week.

Clear skies and clear air, with the waters of Puget Sound also a nice blue. Visibility is unlimited, I can see the Cascade mountain range, which is about 100+ miles to the NNE.

Sad news about a young man I knew in Syracuse UT; passed way to early. Not an easy thing for his family; we’ve been there.