Monday/ new smoke alarms on order


The new smoke-and-carbon-monoxide alarms from Nest are internet enabled, so one gets a notification one one’s phone if the alarm went off, or if the battery has a low voltage. No chirping. Yay!

It’s time to jump on Amazon and order new smoke alarm devices for my house, I decided.   The ones I have are 14 years old, and each has the very annoying habit of starting to chirp when the battery inside starts to lose its voltage.

A good rule of thumb here in the United States is to just change out the smoke alarm batteries when the Daylight Savings Time ends in November – which I did not do. ‘My bad’, as the (North American slang) saying goes.  And sure enough, this Friday, just as I was talking on a conference call for work, the alarm right by me started chirping noisily. (It gives out a chirp once every minute).   Sometimes I would come home from a trip, and one of the three alarms in the house would chirp – making me wonder if I annoyed the neighbors.


it’s Monday but I don’t have an airplane picture to show. Check out theIMG_9972 sm California sky from my hotel room as I checked in tonight.  (Earlier than usual; usually it’s dark!).  I had an isle seat on the plane and people squeezed in beside me before I could take a picture (how rude!).  And a little later when I had my tray table down and notebook computer open and three other things on it, and then the window passenger needed to get out.   So – ahem – bad timing with that request for me to get up – but hey, normally I welcome the opportunity to get up and stretch my legs.  And we all know that ‘trapped’ feeling if you’re squished against the window and you have to go !

Sunday/ Carkeek Park

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The foot bridge over the railway track offers a nice panorama of Puget Sound, its shoreline and the Olympics in the distance.  (There are no views of the Seattle downtown skyline .. probably a good thing, right?).

I drove out to Carkeek* Park on the northern outskirts of the Seattle metropolitan area this Sunday afternoon to enjoy some of the sunny weather.  The Park is big .. 216 acres, and offers hiking trails and playgrounds in addition to the strip of pebbles and rough along Puget Sound.   I waited for a train to come by, and my patience was rewarded : a Burlington North-Santa Fe oil train came along.  I counted about 110 cars on the train!

*named after an English building contractor who came to Seattle in 1875.

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Carkeek Park’s location on the Puget Sound.

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I am on the bridge and looking north, and the train has just – all of it, finally – passed under the foot bridge. The front engine is already out of sight, snaking around the corner in the far distance up ahead.

Sunday/ football overdose

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Check out the enormous warming jacket (I think that’s what it is) that No 11 Julian Edelman (on the left) is wearing.  He plays for the New England Patriots (from the greater Boston area).

It was a BIG weekend for the National Football League with four play-off games.  Looking back, I am a little shocked to realize how much football I had watched ! Probably more than I have watched all season, yikes.  The Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers here on our home turf on Saturday to go through to next weekend, where they will meet the Greenbay Packers from Wisconsin.


The standings in the NFL playoffs after this weekend’s games.



Saturday/ Snowpiercer


The graphic novel for Snowpiercer recently became available in an English print edition.

Bryan, Gary and I watched a movie called ‘Snowpiercer’ on Saturday night.  It is loosely based on a three-part French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette, published in 1982.  It became a cult sensation after being published. The story is set in the near future (2031) and tells of a dystopian world destroyed by a new ice age (due to atmospheric engineering by a coalition of nations that had gone awry).  The last of humanity rushed onto a special train 1,001 cars long and are endlessly circling the globe.  The tail section of the train is where the poorest people live in cramped conditions, and are kept there by force.  In the first-class section in the front (of course!), the richest live in luxury.  The film is not for the faint of heart, with its violent hand-to-hand fight scenes and bloodshed.  These scenes are all precipitated by an uprising lead by Curtis (portrayed by Chris Evans) to get to the front of the train and seize control of the engine.   But the movie certainly makes important commentaries about social injustice, class, privilege, power, limited resources, survival and the environment.

Friday/ la plume est plus forte que l’epee

That’s French for ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ .. a phrase first mentioned in 1839 in a play called Cardinal Richelieu by playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  The phrase became commonplace soon after that, and today its translations are used in many languages (my information obtained from

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‘You are armed!’ says the gunman, on this front page from a Dutch newspaper that refers to the terrible events in Paris this week.


Thursday/ made it in

I was well enough to travel today and made it in home, albeit with some discomfort and pain in my ears as we descended.

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This London-bound British Airways 747 was just getting pushed back from the gate at San Francisco airport.  I am in the ‘AirTrain’, on my way to the International Terminal.


Wednesday/ the common cold


[From Wikipedia] What the (evil) rhinovirus molecule looks like up close.

One of the 200+ virus strains implicated in the cause of the common cold have infiltrated my system.  So I ran out to the pharmacist on Wednesday night.  Help! I said, I need something that will make my nose stop running and sneezing, but still leave my sinuses clear so that I can fly on Thursday.   He gave me an antihistamine, which seemed to help.   I don’t have a fever, so it’s probably not the flu.   I read on line that one can actually have the flu and not run a fever!

Tuesday/ ‘high tech’ burritos

IMG_6775 smWe had burritos for lunch at a ‘High Tech’ Burrito close to the office.  The burritos were tasty enough, but certainly not high tech in and of themselves.  I suppose the clientele it hopes to attract are high tech workers .. or it’s simply a reference to Silicon Valley to the south of us.  The term Silicon Valley for the high-tech industry in the Santa Clara Valley area was first used in 1971 and already in widespread use by 1986.

And what was state-of-the-art technology back then?  No internet, and no cell phones of course – but Intel’s classic 80386 microprocessor appeared in 1986.   And that year IBM introduced its first ‘laptop’ computer : a flat, boxy machine that weighed a hefty 12 lbs, cost $1,995 ($4,200 in today’s dollars), and that had all of 256k bytes of random access memory (RAM).

Monday/ go west (to stay warm)

My flight out today was full as usual, but went without incident, and we arrived on time at San Francisco airport.   The winter’s coldest weather is pushing into the midwest and all the way south into Texas, but on the West coast we have relatively warmer temperatures.   I love the graphics on the weather underground’s maps. (Check out


This one shows temperatures in Fahrenheit, and the red pin is Walnut Creek where our project office is.


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This map shows temperatures in Celsius. 5 °C is not so bad after all. It is very cold in Canada .. brrr.


Sunday/ my bags are packed

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It was blustery and rainy all day, and still like that early in the evening.

It’s time to go back to work and travel out to the project site in the Bay Area again.  Late today I ran out to Bergman’s luggage store in downtown to buy a new roller bag.  The casing and zippers of the one I have are totally fine, but the wheels are coming off !  Not good! Maybe I can have them replaced, but that will take time.  I ended up buying a TravelPro bag that was slightly more expensive than the Samsonite ones. I really wanted a bag with two big wheels, not a ‘spinner’ with the four little ones.


Saturday/ the Astoria-Megler Bridge

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This tsunami evacuation route sign is in the little downtown area of Cannon Beach. In 1964 an earthquake in Alaska triggered a tsunami that reached a height of almost 13 ft (4 m) at Seaview, Washington. Geological evidence also shows that around 1700 a powerful earthquake (magnitude 8 to 9) and large tsunami hit Washington’s coastline.

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This late afternoon picture is from a viewpoint on the west shoulder of Neahkahnie Mountain, looking south. We’re on a cliff about 1,661 ft (506 m) above sea level.

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This is Saturday morning on my drive back to Seattle. The Abominable Snowman advertises coffee from the little orange espresso stand behind it.

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Before I went onto the bridge, I drove up a hill overlooking the Columbia river and the Astoria-Megler bridge. (I am looking north toward Washington State on the other side). The main span is a 2,468-foot steel cantilever through truss, and is flanked by five steel deck trusses, and one hundred forty 80-foot concrete deck girder spans.

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Here is a picture taken by someone while crossing the bridge.

We checked out the town of Cannon Beach on Friday after visiting Hug Point.

I started back to Seattle on Saturday and I crossed the Astoria-Megler Bridge again.  I stopped to take more pictures of it.

The bridge stretches 4.1 mi (6.6 km) from Astoria, Oregon, across the mouth of the Columbia River, to Point Ellice, Washington. The bridge replaced previous ferry lines running from Astoria to Washington.   Construction on the bridge began in 1962 and it was formally dedicated August 27, 1966.  The bridge was initially a toll bridge, but by 1993, the bridge had been paid off and the toll was removed.

Friday/ Hug Point, Oregon


[From Wikipedia] A stagecoach low on a carved-out road at the Hug Point. The rocks and the road surface are still there today.

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In this panorama, Hug Point is on the far left. There are caves in the cliff sides, and a little seasonal stream and waterfall as well (in the middle).

We drove a little up and down the northern Oregon coast on Friday.  When I saw the signs for a turn-out to ‘Hug Point State Recreation Area’, I suggested we stop and go check it out.

I later learned that the name comes from 19th century stagecoach drivers that used the beach as a highway, and they had to ‘hug’ this particular point even at low tide to get around it.

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I’m trying not to get my shoes and socks wet! (Yes – I should have just taken them off and walked through, but the water is icily cold).

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One of the cavernous spaces in the cliff-side.  My friend Tony had to use the flash on my camera to light me up. At high tide the cave fills half-way up with water.


Thursday/ snowing

The snow flakes started coming down just as we were leaving the project site today, and it 1-10-2013 8-17-42 PMhas been sifting down steadily since then.  A total accumulation of 5 to 8 inches is expected in the lower areas;  much more in the mountains.  I will definitely have to navigate some snowy roads on the way to the airport tomorrow (Friday) !

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Here is the Old Post Office across from the Marriott Ogden. I couldn’t venture out very far, since it’s very cold and still snowing lightly even though it does not look like it on the photo.

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This is about 8 pm. The streets in downtown Ogden (yes, I know – no skyscrapers here!) have a layer of snow, and are almost deserted.

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This is around 4 pm  We’re driving back to Ogden from the project site.  The snow is just starting to stick to the road surface.