Monday, February 28, 2011

shake, rattle and roll

"Where were you 10 years ago today ?" 

I've been hearing this question non-stop on the local news since this morning. Where was I 10 years ago, around 11:00 a.m. ?  I was sitting through a booooooooring staff meeting in a conference room at the UW, on a skybridge about 3 stories up.  I wasn't the only one thinking "what do we have to do to get this god-awful thing to end ?' - believe me.  Suddenly, the light fixtures above us started to rain down on our tables and the room began to sway.  Then all those things we learned during the umpteen practice disaster drills we'd been subjected to went out the proverbial window and all hell broke loose.   Some people ran, some got under tables (hey - we did learn one thing), some yelled, some froze in silence.  All kidding aside, it was pretty surreal.  

Dan was in the bathtub at home when the quake struck.  With shampoo still in his hair and a towel around him, he scooped up the cat and ran outside.  That must have been a sight.  

10 years later, the city is still recovering.  Some positive developments since the 2001 quake include: 

  • Refinement of hazard maps and models to give better estimates of the shaking expected in future earthquakes.
  • Documentation of new faults. The Seattle and Price Lake (Olympic Peninsula) faults were known in 2001. Several others have been documented since, including Tacoma, Frigid Creek, Canyon River, South Whidbey Island (which probably has had the largest previous quakes), Utsalady and, in eastern Washington, Ellensburg and Umtanum Ridge.
  • Shake maps and “Did You Feel It” reporting available to the public automatically within 10 minutes of larger earthquakes.
  • Building code changes based on improvements in seismic engineering and adoption of the International Building Code, with standards linked to the best seismic science.
  • Increased public awareness and preparedness.
  • Discovery of episodic tremor and slip, or slow-slip. These unfelt events happen about every 15 months, last for several weeks and release as much energy as a magnitude 6.5 earthquake. They are adding to an already complex regional seismic picture.
  • Improved and more numerous broadband seismometers to see earthquakes clearly over the entire region.

( file)

(Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

(Tom Reese/The Seattle Times)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hooray for Susan Guy !

I've been a bit remiss and haven't posted anything here in a week.  Sometimes there just isn't anything happening that seems to be post-worthy.   But I heard a story on the news last night (and this morning) that made me smile, about a Memphis Domino's Pizza delivery driver who saved the life of a customer.  A woman who ordered a pizza a day for the past three years hadn't placed an order in a few days. The woman's normal delivery driver told her boss to "clock her out if necessary" and went to check on her regular.  Sure enough, the women was in need of help.  

So way to go, Susan Guy.  Your perseverance paid off.  What do I take away from this ?  We should all be a bit more aware of what is happening around us and act on our instincts.  We may just save a life someday.  

I do wonder, however, how someone could eat a Domino's pizza every day for three years straight.  Every day.  Whew.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Luke !

Our "second-born" hairy son turned 15 today.  He has slowed down a bit in the past couple years and his hearing seems to be a bit [selectively] compromised, but who can't say the same thing in this household !  We feel super lucky to have had him all these years and he continues to amaze us with his youthful attitude.   

Monday, February 14, 2011

I did not know that . . .

I realized this morning that I did not know much about the history of Valentine's Day - beyond its roots in the Hallmark card industry.  Here's what I learned from

The history of Valentine's Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first "valentine" greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed "From your Valentine," an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial — which probably occurred around 270 A.D — others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to "christianize" celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.
According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)
Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.
Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap."

Happy Valentine's Day !

Friday, February 11, 2011

it's a brand new day for Egypt

I always say that I am grateful to have witnessed all the major local and world events that have occurred in the past 42 years.  I add another to that list today ...

Ed Ou for The New York Times

Moises Saman for The New York Times

Ed Ou for The New York Times

Felipe Trueba/European Pressphoto Agency

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gōng xǐ fā cái !

Happy Chinese New Year !

(from   Today, February 3, 2011, marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, also known to many Chinese as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival. The festival begins on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar, so the exact date on the Gregorian calendar varies each year, usually between January 21 and February 19. It is widely celebrated across China and in Chinese communities around the world over a period between one day and three weeks.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, following 2010's Year of the Tiger. Each year corresponds to one of twelve animals that cycle every twelve years. The previous Year of the Rabbit was in 1999, while the next Rabbit Year occurs in 2023. One legend tells how Buddha invited all animals to a gathering and the first twelve animals to arrive were honored with a zodiac year.
The Chinese New Year Festival is a time for family and friends to pay respects to gods, spirits, and ancestors, as well as wish each other good fortune in the upcoming year. A common greeting is "Gong Xi Fa Cai" in Mandarin Chinese or "Kung Hei Fat Choy" in Cantonese, which can be literally translated to "congratulations, get rich!" In China, where the festival is observed as a weeklong national holiday, hundreds of millions of Chinese head home in what has been called the world's largest annual human migration.
Symbolic traditions are an important part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Many Chinese fully clean their homes ahead of the New Year, with the belief of sweeping away bad luck and starting anew. However, cleaning during the first few days of the New Year is avoided, since it might result in sweeping away good luck.
Red is considered a lucky color, so homes and businesses are often decorated in red. Similarly, red clothing is worn. Red envelopes filled with money, called hong bao in Mandarin and lai see in Cantonese, are traditionally given as gifts from married to unmarried people, particularly to children. For Chinese families who might not celebrate holidays such as Christmas or Hanukkah, the Chinese New Year represents the principal time of gift-giving to children and grandchildren.
According to Chinese tradition, debts should be paid before the New Year begins. Otherwise, it is believed that if one begins the New Year in debt, such will continue for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

not today

There are many days when I really miss living in Chicago.  Today is definitely not one of them.

(E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune /February 2, 2011) 

(Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune / February 2, 2011)

(William DeShazer, Chicago Tribune / February 2, 2011)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

already anxious for baseball season

I've always been a baseball fan.  I attribute this mostly to my maternal grandparents who lived in a split household.  Both hailed from Chicago  - but my grandmother was White Sox fan and my grandfather was a Cubs fan.  An old school rivalry.  Which made for some really fun summers.   The photo above was taken outside of their garage when I was four.  The bat is almost as tall as me.  

I'm looking forward to the upcoming MLB season and am hopeful for a better year for the Mariner's.  Something better than 101 losses, at least.  As dismal as 2010's season was, here are some highlights from

5. Wakamatsu out; Wedge in
With the Mariners struggling to meet expectations on the field, Wakamatsu was dismissed on Aug. 9 and replaced by interim manager Daren Brown. General manager Jack Zduriencik then led a postseason search process that resulted in the hiring of Wedge on Oct. 18. The former Indians skipper promises to bring a renewed intensity to the club, as well as a history of working well with young players in Cleveland. The Indians came within one game of the World Series in '07 when Wedge was named American League Manager of the Year.
4. Ichiro makes history
For 10 years, nobody has done it better than Ichiro when it comes to knocking out hits and getting on base. On Sept. 23 at Toronto, Ichiro recorded his 200th hit of the season, extending his Major League record for consecutive 200-hit seasons to 10 and tying Pete Rose for the most 200-hit seasons in a career. For a little perspective, the Mariners have had just three other 200-hit seasons in their history (two by Alex Rodriguez and one by Bret Boone). And since Ichiro began his streak in '01, nine Major League teams -- the White Sox, Indians, Royals, Twins, Astros, Rays, D-backs, Braves and Reds -- have yielded no 200-hit players.
3. Junior calls it a career
On June 2, exactly 23 years to the day after being selected as the first overall pick of the '87 Draft by the Mariners, the best player in franchise history called it quits. Much like the rest of the team, Griffey didn't have the season he expected, but he, too, had his moments, including a dramatic walk-off single on May 20 against the Blue Jays to cap a three-run comeback in the ninth inning at Safeco Field. He ended his career ranked fifth on MLB's all-time list in home runs (630), sixth in extra-base hits (1,192), 14th in RBIs (1,836) and 31st in runs scored (1,662).
2. Cy Young for King Felix
Great players rise above the circumstances surrounding them, and that certainly was the case with Felix Hernandez, who posted one of the best pitching performances in franchise history for a team that scored the fewest runs per game of any Major League team since 1973. Hernandez was so impressive that Baseball Writers' Association of America voters elected him as the AL Cy Young Award winner, despite his modest 13-12 win-loss record. Hernandez set a club record for ERA (2.27) and the most strikeouts by a right-hander (232), leading the AL in both categories as well as innings pitched (249 2/3), quality starts (30) and opponent's batting average (.212). And, yeah, all that at age 24.
1. The Voice falls silent
For 34 years, Dave Niehaus served as the Mariners' play-by-play announcer, calling nearly every game since the team's inception in 1977. Players, managers and ownership groups came and went, but Niehaus was the constant for Mariners fans. When Griffey scored on Edgar Martinez's double to beat the Yankees in the '95 playoffs, it was Niehaus who recorded the electric moment. When Safeco Field opened in '99, he threw out the first pitch. When baseball inducted him into the Hall of Fame in '08, Niehaus said no one would ever be more appreciative. And when he passed away of a heart attack on Nov. 10, the entire Mariners Nation mourned. The team held two public memorials at Safeco Field, both poignant reminders of his impact on the entire region. As Griffey noted, "It will never be the same, because there's nobody better."