Two Steps Forward, One Back

I haven’t been goofing off the last couple of days. My sons have been doing upgrades to the server that drives this bus and moving DedicatedIT’s equipment to a better service provider in Miami. I was planning to publish photos of that move and explain some of the stuff behind the curtain that brings this blog to you.

Unfortunately, a piece of the program that resizes photos when I upload them isn’t working correctly. Son Matt, who provides tech support for the blog posted this as his Facebook status:

Post 1:Malcolm is in bed. Sarah is in Cocoa Beach this week and I’m exhausted from two late nights at the data center. If you need me, I’ll be in bed, asleep.”

Post 2: “PS: Don’t need me.”

Let’s see if we can get back in the groove Monday.


Waiting for Hurricane Irene

I pulled into West Palm Beach shortly after 6 p.m. Monday night. It was an incredibly smooth trip: the new transmission transmitted, traffic was fast and light. Either traffic going through Nashville, Chattanooga and Atlanta was a lot less congested than usual or my driving experiences in Seattle have made anything short of a one-hour parking lot seem fast.

I hit the Florida line’s Welcome Center right about sunset Sunday night. The first thing I noticed was that our cost-conscious Governor Rick Scott had two signs (that I saw) telling everyone that he’s the Gov. I called Wife Lila and Mother to let them know my progress, then I went in for a – as they say in the Tour de France – a natural break.

That’s where I was greeted by a sign that had me a little worried. There are some things I’d rather do myself. I didn’t know if robot arms were involved or if this was some kind of new stimulus project. I waited until the room had cleared out before I grabbed my cell phone to capture this photo. I was afraid to hang around too long lest someone mistake me for a Congressman and pull out handcuffs. The fly I saw at Lambert Airport was less unsettling.

Where’s Hurricane Irene going?

Last night’s track was a bit troubling. You don’t want to see your home right in the middle of a Cat 2 Cone of Uncertainty. The news tonight is both better and worse. Now it looks like it’s going to be a Category 4 storm when it’s offshore West Palm Beach. Offshore is a good thing, but it doesn’t take much of a wobble to really spoil your day.

The tracking map, by the way, was done by SkeetobiteWeather. They do some of the best and most useful maps I’ve seen anywhere.

Tuesday’s track will determine what I do next. I stopped in Ocala in central Florida to pick up bottled water, batteries, a new Coleman LED lantern, some Coleman chemcial Glow Lights and a selection of fruit.

I like Glow Lights

I’m a big fan of chemical glow sticks. They have a long shelf life, they’re safe for kids to use and they throw out a surprising amount of light without generating heat. The Coleman lantern is very bright for using only four D-cell batteries. LEDs don’t burn out like bulbs and they burn cooler. The one I bought looks like the same one in the link, but mine says it’ll run 86 hours on high and 122 hours on low. It’s a lot safer than the old-fashioned propane or white gas lantern with their delicate mantels. A more expensive model is available with rechargeable batteries, but I think that’s a bad buy for an emergency light: if you don’t use it all the time, the battery will be dead when you need it, and if the power’s out, how are you going to charge it? A stack of alkaline batteries makes more sense.

I noticed I wasn’t the only one with a cart full of water, but the clerk said they hadn’t had a run on supplies yet. If it still looks close, I’ll pull the generator out, change the oil, hook it into the gas line and fire it up for a test run. I adapted it to run on gasoline, propane or natural gas. Since we already had a line for our kitchen stove, hot water heater and clothes dryer, I tapped off it as fuel of first choice.

Seattle Aquarium: Shooting Fish in a Barrel

The Seattle Aquarium is a nice place to spend a couple of hours. My only issue is that I kept getting the feeling I was shooting fish in a barrel. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like theme parks like Walt Disney World in our neck of the woods. They aren’t real.

Even though the fish and plants are real, it feels artificial to me, unlike the salmon going up the fish ladder at Crittenden Locks.

Colorful exhibits

You can’t fault the quality of the exhibits. The aquarium features 380 species of birds, fish, invertebrates and marine mammals. I’m most intrigued by the invertebrates, many of which look like living rocks.

Divers doing windows

The spectators in the 400,000-gallon underwater dome were more mesmerized by divers cleaning the viewing windows than they were by the fish swimming around.

“Enjoy the sun”

It was a beautiful day, so we spent some time outside the museum. A particularly Seattle phrase is, “Enjoy the sun.” Residents will point out that the city gets a bum rap for rain; Boston and Miami, among others, get more inches of rain per year. Seattle, though, can have days and weeks of gray skies, so they appreciate the days when the sun is out.

The first time I looked up and saw a jet looking like it was headed for the building towers, I had an uncomfortable flashback. After a while, though, I realized that they were in the approach pattern for the airport and started looking for them.

Crab cakes best part of Museum

Wife Lila and I wanted to get something to eat before boarding a harbor tour, so we headed up to the Aquarium Cafe for what we expected to be overpriced plastic food served by indifferent help.

We were in for a big surprise. The kid who waited on us was friendly and offered some good menu suggestions. The Dungeness crab cakes served with wilted veggie slaw and potato hay were some of the best I’ve ever had. The portions were large enough that we could have split the $13.49 order and still felt full.

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a better bowl of clam chowder, either. Everything I saw the cook prepare made me wish I had a bigger appetite.

Seattle Aquarium photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Other recent Seattle stories


Hiram M. Crittenden Locks

The Hiram M. Crittenden Locks in Seattle can raise a 760 by 80-foot-wide vessel 26 feet from the level of Puget Sound to the level of Salmon Bay in 10 to 15 minutes. There are two parallel locks, one for large vessels and the other for smaller craft.

We showed the adjacent Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden yesterday.

Pedestrians can cross locks

There is considerable pedestrian traffic crossing the locks. Cyclists have to walk their bikes, but I counted a dozen or more using the gardens and park as a shortcut.

Locks form permeable barrier

The locks form a permeable barrier between Lake Washington’s freshwater ecosystem and the potentially damaging saltwater of Puget Sound. They are designed to allow the passage of vessels while minimizing saltwater intrusion, something we Florida folks understand too well.

Second Renaissance Revival Style

When engineer Hiram M. Crittenden arrived in Seattle in 1906, he saw a shallow canal used for floating logs from Lake Washington to Puget Sound. His notebooks show that he envisioned a set of locks big enough to accommodate The Lusitania, the largest ship of her day.

What had begun a shallow log flume became an 8-mile-long canal, 100 feet wide and 30 feet deep, a park brochure says.

The construction of the locks began in 1911. Crittenden retired in ill health before his project was officially dedicated on July 4, 1917.

The administration building was designed in the Second Renaissance Revival Style in 1914. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fish ladder constructed in 1916

As salmon move upstream from saltwater to the fresh water to spawn, they have to pass the locks and dam. In 1916, the Corps of Engineers constructed a fish ladder consisting of 10 steps.

I’ve seen and been through enough locks that they didn’t interest me that much. The fish ladder, though, plowed new ground.

Ladder replaced in 1976

The original fish ladder was replaced with a 21-step ladder and underwater viewing gallery in 1976. Program director Jay Wells had his audience’s rapt attention until someone noticed some Sockeye salmon heading up the ladder behind him.

Those babies are HUGE

The Sockeye was impressive enough to this 3-Mile Creek fisherman, but then a King came into the chamber.

That’s the kind of fish they were tossing around in the photos of the Pike Place Fish Market. We’re talking about something the size of a respectable log with fins.

Some of the fish were netted and tagged as they passed through the facility.

Crittenden Locks Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.