Friday, July 15, 2011

Tree Cravings

I'm down to the final hour before I leave to go camping for the weekend, and what better way to spend it than blogging.  (Okay, Minecrafting, but I don't think I have time to get into that right now).

Just a couple random updates:

I have a fully functional laptop again.  For those of you who hadn't already heard (and somehow still care to know, which I'm sure is few of you), the gravitational force between my window fan and the earth was strong enough to move the window fan.  Window fan failed to quantum tunnel through my closed laptop, resulting in a very broken screen on laptop:

I do like the way the keyboard reflects on the screen...
Screen replacement wasn't terribly much of an issue (mostly because my dad was nice enough not to make me pay for it), but it did take longer than I would have liked (a week).  I did, as you probably noticed, have access to other computers but its just not the same... I couldn't get anything substantial done.

In the meantime, my internship posted my first blog post (the second one was delayed by my broken screen).  That said, if any of you see anything remotely environment related and interesting, you should send it to me (thanks to the couple of people who already have), so I can write about it.

A couple other notes: King County Metro is surprisingly easy to use compared to merging across 5 lanes of traffic on I-5 to get off in time to be in downtown Seattle.  Not that I've dared try that yet, and at this rate, I doubt I ever will... unless Metro has to cut service like they keep saying.

My two and a half week non-voluntary Minecraft sabbatical has ended, finally.

I'm dying to be out in the middle of nature right now.  I went on a hike with my family the day before the 4th and the air was so clean and oxygen filled, I wasn't sure I could ever stand to leave it.  I'm looking forward to a weekend of easy breathing and heavy sleeping (and relaxing, and campfires, and banana boats, etc.)

Oh, and my mom bought stand-up paddleboards.  Best thing ever.  We're pretty sure we'll have our money's worth out of them by the end of the summer.  :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Matter of Convenience

As I pulled out of my driveway this morning to the horrific realization that I was almost out of gas.  Already late for work, I bargained with myself for a while, hoped I had enough to get to my job (in reality, I had plenty, but I can't always tell if the gas meter is messing with me when its on the last quarter gallon).

I'd meant to go get gas last night on my way back from the mall (because on the way back from the mall and from church is really the only time a gas station is actually "on the way" for me).  But after a longer-than-usual shopping trip to get a wedding present, I totally forgot.

As I left work, I figured I should get around to stopping at the station so I wouldn't spend too much time driving on the last dregs... especially since I don't really have time between now and when I'd have run out to fill up.

I bargained with myself for a while, trying to decide which gas station would be the least out of the way.  I finally picked the one that I could stop by when I was about halfway home, which would mean a longer drive but hopefully a more pleasant one.  Unfortunately, I didn't know there was significant amounts of construction along this route, and, by the time I finally got home, my usual fifteen minute drive home from work had taken me forty-five minutes, due to the detour and time waiting for my tank to fill up.  (It also cost seventy dollars...)

This is the kind of thing I think of every time I hear people say that electric cars aren't "convenient" because the batteries only last a certain amount of time and then you have to wait for it to recharge.  I understand that the first modern electric car only had a range of 60 miles (quickly upgraded to 100), and the Nissan Leaf can only go around 70, so if you frequently need to drive more than 60 miles (approximately the driving distance from Seattle to Olympia) before you had an opportunity to plug your car in, that might be a problem.  Of course, if you got a Tesla Roadster, you could drive from Seattle to Salem, Oregon without a problem, so long as you could charge it before driving home (Roadsters have a range of 245 miles).

But if you're like me, and the longest drive you ever drive regularly is from Seattle to Tacoma, and while you are wherever you are, you have the opportunity to plug your car into a standard electrical outlet... maybe it would be more convenient to wake up in the morning to a fully fueled car, and not have to take a half hour and seventy dollars out of your day just so you know for sure you can make it to your friends wedding... two days later.

But, I suppose that depends on your definition of convenience.  If you'd rather have the freedom to drive from Seattle to Eugene without once stopping for an hour (or half an hour, if you have a Leaf) at one of the quick charge stations currently being installed along the way than be able to wake up every morning knowing your car has plenty of fuel to drive 30 miles to work and back, then keep your gasoline car.  I, for one, would rather not have the stress of wondering if I have enough gasoline to get to work when I'm already late.  I, for one, would rather have the convenience of an electric car.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Strange title for the fifth of July, eh?

But seriously.  Did you make any?  Back in January, that is.  Or late December.

I didn't.  Well, I made a pact with someone that I wouldn't do something and neither would he, and we're going strong on that.  But officially, I made no resolutions.

Why?  Why am I talking about this now?  I know you're wondering, but here's a question... do you remember what your New Years resolutions were this year?  Are you still actively working on them?

I used to make resolutions every year - faithfully - and year after year look at my list from the previous year and find that I'd written down things that I no longer cared about by mid-March, or goals that I had met by the end of January.  So much for a whole year's resolution, yeah?

So I ditched the idea of the New Year's Resolution.  I am thinking, however, that I might start some sort of a goal book, so when I have something I want to do that would go on a resolution list, I can write it down and date it... then I'll remember what I intended, when I started trying to accomplish something, etc.

I wish I'd written down the day I decided to read the Bible from front to back.  It must have been years ago (I'm not terribly dedicated) and, just last night, I passed the halfway point.  Somewhere around Psalm 130, I think.

Of course, if you did make New Year's Resolutions... consider this your reminder to drag out the list and remind yourself of what you want to improve on.  If you're anything like me, you could probably use it.  If not, congratulations!

Monday, July 4, 2011

It's a baseball game

I guess there can't really be a better way to spend my evening on the 3rd of July than at a baseball game, eating hot dogs and peanuts (and unfortunately no cracker jacks, but I'm not complaining).  It was a great game, one of the more exciting baseball games I've been to, though this might be due in part to my being much older now and much closer to the field than usual (somehow, even the furthest back seats in a small stadium are great seats).

I've grown up with baseball.  I won't say for sure this is an American thing, except maybe it is.  My physics professor freshman year was endlessly using baseball analogies to explain things, which, in turn, would only confuse our Chinese student further.  My family doesn't do sports, so I don't really understand much about the rest of them: football is lost on me, I can hardly follow soccer, and I honestly don't think I've ever watched a basketball game.  But somehow I've reached adulthood understanding baseball, with its overly complex rules and unimaginable intricacies.  (This line here?  If the ball crosses it, that counts as swinging and missing, but only twice...)

The thing that really struck me while I was there, and I'm not sure if it was because it was baseball or the day before the Fourth of July or both, was the level of patriotism involved.  Singing the national anthem at the beginning is normal.  Singing "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch (of all crazy terms) has been standard for the past ten years (though I'm not sure I've been to a game where they sang it, which dates how long its been).  Maybe the team mascot comes out on the dugout in a shiny red and blue shirt at every game here.  I think they do fireworks after every game at this stadium, but I was wondering about the music.  They started with classic fireworks music (ie Katy Perry's "Firework"), and moved on through a bunch of patriotic songs.  Do they do that every time?

Anyways, I was reminiscing about the patriotic songs unit in junior year Humanities.  We looked at the lyrics of popular "patriotic" songs and wondered: why are these considered patriotic?  Take Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" for example.  Classic "I'm proud to live in this country" song, but has the most depressing lyrics ever.  He talks about having a hard life, being sent to Vietnam "to go and kill the yellow man" and coming back and having nothing left to live for, basically.  Is this why we're proud to be Americans?

Maybe it is.  Sometime later, they played "It's America" by Rodney Atkins, whose music I generally like.  This wasn't an exception by any means.  I felt it captured our country surprisingly well, Springsteen and all... everything but the fireworks.

And what could beat fireworks after an adrenaline filled win in a chilly outdoor stadium by a minor league team with some players playing their second game in the league.

Perhaps... the team mascot in a Snuggie?