August 2011 Archives

Megaloads in Moscow


Tonight I snuck out of the house after everyone was asleep to take pictures of a "megaload" passing through our sweet little town. If you don't know the backstory, it goes something like this:

The Megaloads are large oil-factory modules that were manufactured in South Korea and shipped overseas, then by barge to Lewiston, Idaho. Their final destination is in Alberta, Canada. Originally they were supposed to travel along Highway 12 in Idaho and Montana. I believe that route has now been blocked by legal wrangling. Instead they are now being driven on Highway 95, which passes through Moscow, Idaho. It is also my understanding that the loads were originally larger and have been divided into smaller pieces, at some expense. The megaload tonight was 24 feet wide, 14 feet high, and 193 feet long. Approximately 60 of them will be sent this way.

Last week, a handful of people were arrested in Moscow for blocking their path (sitting in the crosswalk). In addition to the stress they put on the roads and the occasional traffic delays, the modules are also controversial for their impact on the environment when in operation in Canada. Google for "tar sands."

The convoy apparently leaves Lewiston around 10pm. The first sign of them in Moscow -- a pilot car -- was about 11:30pm. Then, after a 10 minute wait, a couple more trucks appeared carrying lighted "oversize load ahead" signs. Then a few more support vehicles here and there. Finally, at 11:50pm the police-escorted megaload turns onto Washington Street:


I don't know how many police officers were present last week, but many of the protesters are surprised by the number tonight. If I had to, I'd guess maybe 20 walking around. There were 3 patrol cars (State, I assume) directly in front of the megaload itself.

I was actually disappointed by the verbal abuses from the protestors to the police officers. There were many shouts about taxes paying for security escorts, and so on.

I was standing in a little median of sorts, right where Washington Street turns back to join Main. I thought it would be a good spot for a head-on shot of the megaload, but it really wasn't. The lights of the oncoming cars and trucks were too bright, and they wouldn't stop and pose for me. This is about the best I could manage (click for embiggen):


It looks a little lopsided here because the truck is beginning a turn. Its not clear to me if this is a real megaload or just another practice run. The load itself was basically just a large frame with nothing inside. I was surprised by the number of additional vehicles in the convoy.

As far as protests go, this one was pretty tame. The police officers seemed to take the brunt of it. There were no crosswalk-sitters and no arrests that I saw.

First Day of Second Grade

No, thats not a toupée, its a glue-like hair gel that Mom uses to put "horns" in his hair.


Struck By Lightning

We had a pretty exciting lightning storm here on Sunday. C was a little frightened but watching AFV was a good distraction. There may have been one or two brownouts causing a number of UPSes around the house to beep, but not much else. Monday morning everything was fine, until just a few minutes before we all left the house there was another brownout and then our Internet stopped working.

It wasn't working again by 3pm Monday so I walked over to the ISP, Cactus Computer (aka They blamed the phone company, Frontier, and said that about 25% of their customers using Frontier wiring were affected. That evening I rigged up a soekris box in the window to "borrow" some Internet from a neighbor using a different ISP.

Tuesday wasn't any better. There was a rumour that Frontier fixed their sh!t, but nothing was working at our house.

Wednesday morning we're still down. I went to Cactus again to get an update. Still the phone company's problem, etc, lots of people working on it, etc, etc. Just around Noon it started working again. Hooray.

Ironically, the most recent newsletter from Cactus talks about how you should really lock down your wifi access points so that your neighbors or others don't steal from you. I'm glad my neighbor didn't, and plan to return the favor by unlocking ours again.

Lincoln City Vacation

Grandma Theresa joined us for a short vacation to the Oregon Coast. This year we rented a small house in Lincoln City. Upon arrival I made the comment that it was "dumpy" and Colin cleverly nicknamed it the Dumpsite.

We had a nice view of the beach from the back deck, but no direct access. We had to walk down the street a ways to actually get on the beach, which wasn't anything special, but not very crowded either.

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We had one day of very nice weather, but otherwise it was foggy and hazy.

On a previous visit to the coast I spent a little time at Arch Cape, where it is easy to see lots of starfish and other interesting things around the rocks. We set out to drive there, not realizing at first that it was an hour and 50 minutes away, rather than just 50 minutes away. We had lunch in Tillamook and then turned back.

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I think the highlight for everyone was kite flying. Grandma and I took our two broken kites into Northwest Winds Kites & Toys, where they were nice enough to fix them for very little. Colin got a new "pocket sled" kite, which was perfect for him. The wind wasn't quite strong enough for my steerable 2-line kite on the first outing, but it was great the next day when we visited Agate Beach.

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Seems like we spent too much time driving around. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe it was the location. Colin became irritated with all the stops to see beaches, viewpoints, lighthouses, and so on. One day we tried to hike the The North Lincoln Hospital Optimist Trail, but we couldn't find it. I don't think it exists any more.

Colin did have fun learning about the tides, I think, thanks in part to a free ipod app that graphs the tide level over the course of a day. We also had a lot of fun tracking Hurricane Irene on the weather channel.

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On our last day I gave into the temptation of taking pictures of a waterfall. Driving to the Drift Creek Falls Trail, hiking 1.5 miles in, then out, then driving back took about an hour longer than I expected. I was delaying everyone's dinner. It was a cold reception upon my triumphant return, to say the least. The hike was nice, but the pictures were not worth it. I'm sure the falls are more impressive in the spring time.



A company trip took me to Pennsylvania. We had to sign up for one of four activities: paintball, trap shooting, off-road driving, or a tour of Fallingwater. At first I thought it was a hike to see some waterfalls. Then I learned that we'd be touring a very famous house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Almost every picture that you see of this house looks just like this one. It is operated as a museum and they don't allow photographs inside or from the house itself. There is one good viewpoint a short hike away.

The tour was pretty interesting, although it was a little crowded. It was raining and so they went into "rain mode" which meant more people in the house and less time outside. Our guide kept referring to Wright in the present tense ("See these windows? Wright does this because blah blah blah") which I found odd, but maybe its required for devotees.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

I went to Washington DC this week for a business trip and had some free time the morning after arriving. Originally I thought maybe I'd wake up before sunrise and take some pictures on the National Mall as the sun came up. But it was an overcast day, so I slept in. Not quite as nice as my last visit. Actually it was a little more than just overcast. When I did venture out, I got a little bit wet.


Eventually I made it as far as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I'd been here one time before, but didn't realize that they have these laminated books where you can find people by their last name:


I found one Wessels and, I thought, a Kopczynski (the pages were tattered and faded), but upon finding his name, I saw that it was only close.


I tried a few times to get a "perfect" reflection of this flag in the wall. This about the best I could manage:


Potty Humor

Just got this joke from Colin in email:


16th Notes and Triplets


Colin has been taking drum lessons at GTR Music Studio thanks to Mom's high bid on an auction item. He's about half way through his 8-week lesson and enjoying it quite a bit!

A couple weeks ago we were killing time in downtown Pullman and wandered into Atom Heart Music. He really just wanted to hit some drums but we walked out of there with a practice pad and some sticks. I had to McGuyver an attachment to a spare tripod, but it's working out so far.

From what I can tell, he's picking it up quickly. Quarter notes, sixteenth notes, accents, crescendos, and even triplets.