Monday, December 18, 2006

New developments...

Saturday morning, I commenced to tear down the fence that had blown over during the windstorm on Thursday night, when I noticed something a little odd about one of our trees. Our family used to get live Christmas trees and transplant them in the yard after the holiday season was over. This one particular Christmas tree that we had around 10 years ago looked normal from the vantage point in which we normally see it, but a closer look revealed it was angled directly at our neighbor's house at a 30 degree angle! Needless to say, I spent the majority of the day working with my dad and the neighbor whose house was miraculously spared sawing off branches, cutting up the tree and by the end of the day I was able to dig out the stump. Here are some photos from this very productive weekend.



Later on that day, the Isenbergers hosted a rather spectacular Christmas party. Thank you Chad and Dana!

Sunday was the Faith Presbyterian Church Children's Christmas Program, and my nephew Patrick got to perform publicly for the first time. Here is the segment of the program where he is supposed to be a singing angel, although he didn't quite act like one.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Chaos in the state of Washington

As you might have heard in the news (or perhaps experienced yourself), the Northwest experienced perhaps the worst windstorm in over a decade with 100+ MPH winds on Thursday night. As I was driving to and from Seattle yesterday, I saw the beginnings of the storm and some of the worst traffic I had ever seen before. I was talking to my sister Diane online yesterday when the power cut out. The electric company shuts off electricity when there are severe winds due to trees falling over and branches striking power lines to prevent shorts and possible fires. Being as dependent on electricity as Americans are, it would seem the world stops rotating in such instances. With all traffic lights out, all intersections are basically four-way stops. Anyway, for those non-Washingtonians, the first critical skill for survival one most master in such an instance is brewing coffee, as I demonstrate in the photo to the left. If you don't have a gas stove, use your fireplace or maybe a bunch of candles. You boil water and pour it directly in the filter full of coffee grounds. Make sure you have a pot underneath to catch the water. Then be sure to thank me when this information one day saves your life.

Anyway, a good 18-foot section of the fence in the back yard was blown over in the storm. Looks like I'm going to have some more work around the house in the next few days. I'm not suprised the fence fell over, since it was built 14 years ago so most of the wood was rotting away, and an excess of dirt growing on our side of the fence due to annual compost and mulch spreads were enough to finally do it in. I guess I'll get started on that tomorrow; I couldn't do it today since I was scheduled to do some workin Gig Harbor today working for Mr. Bechtel, the organist at my church in Tacoma. My sister Sarah had part of her house's roof blown off and water leaking through into the upstairs bathroom. I'll be taking a look at that too tomorrow. Here are some photos I shot of the fence:



At the Bechtels' house, I helped clear away debris scattered by the wind. Their neighborhood looked as though a tornado had passed through the area. Fortunately for them, they have a bottomless compost pile, and they're actually allowed to burn debris on their property. I was pondering how much easier things would be if only you were permitted to burn yard waste in your backyard in Puyallup! Well, actually, I'm not quite sure about that, but probably not. Instead, we're restricted to an 80 gallon blue bin for organic debris which is emptied only every other week, and unless you own a truck and are able to take the debris to the dump yourself, there's really no way to prevent an obtrusive compost pile from building up. I also built a trench in order to lay some French drains.

Yesterday, I was watching Tucker Carlson's MSNBC commentaries, and Willie Geist introduced me to www.elfyourself.com, where you can Elfamorphize yourself. (Click on the photo to watch me make an elf of myself!) I had a long overdue half-hour laugh. You upload any photo of yourself, rotate it and resize it so your head fits in a face template, and watch yourself do the elf dance. You can also call a number, leave a voice recording, and have your elf speak!

Well, it's been a productive day, and I got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, so I better stop here and hit the sack. Good night!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yay, snow!

Today, the great city of Puyallup experienced around 2¾ inches of snow, which was a pleasant surprise for me having been in the desert for the last three winter seasons. Can't wait to go skiing again! I got an email from my Archaeology instructor informing me that classes had been cancelled for the entire day. When I was in grade school, it is always a welcoming thing to hear that classes had been cancelled. Unfortunately, my Chemistry and Calculus teachers were both going to give us information today about what to study for comprehensive final exams next week. I'm just not as capable for fully appreciating a full day without school as I would like to be. I just finished shovelling the driveway and the sidewalk, and plan to study a little, learn some Christmas music on the piano, and later have dinner with some friends.

Anyway, here are some photos that I took around the house while the snow was still fresh:

Monday, November 27, 2006

A visit to a graveyard


Today, I involved my mom in an extra credit assignment, namely to visit a graveyard and snap various photos of headstones, categorize them by decade, and draw conclusions based on evolving headstone styles. We went to the Woodbine Cemetary in Puyallup. This is the same cemetary in which Ezra Meeker is buried, one of the late 19th century Oregon Trail pioneers and the one who named the city of Puyallup (which supposedly means 'generous people' in some Indian dialect) and its first mayor. Although one of his greater contributions to society was his introduction of hops to the area (horray, beer!), and was even recognized as the "Hop King of the World", until his crops were destroyed by hop lice. Then around the same time Anheuser-Busch adopted the nomenclature "King of Beer". His Victorian mansion is now a museum in down-town Puyallup and is still one of the major attractions of the city alongside the Puyallup Fair itself. Besides Ezra Meeker's grave, I also saw Vitt Ferrucci's grave (actually, future grave, since he's not quite dead yet, although his wife died in 2005). He is a vetrinarian who served on the Puyallup Board of Education, and who has a junior high school named after him. Two of my sisters, Sarah and Diane, attended Ferrucci Jr. High.

Visiting graveyards is something I should probably do a little more often, since it reinforces to me the idea that we will only live a little while on Earth, and and the manner in which you live has direct implications on whether you face eternal life or damnation. Just last night, I heard a sermon by Rev. Robert Raburn based on Phillipians 1:27 - "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" (ESV), and how it is too often to not think seriously about the manner in which we live, but such is the critical factor which determines life or death in the afterlife. Every gravestone represents a soul that must face judgement and go either to heaven or hell, when all the sudden, your accomplishments, the amount of joy you've had in life or size of your gravestone doesn't really matter anymore.

It started snowing today, which would be the first time in over four years I have seen it snow (last four holiday seaons, I was in Texas, Qatar, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. It's kind of hard to get Christmas spirit in any of those places. Ironically, Christ was born in the Middle East. Funny how that works. To the left is a shot I took in the back yard when it was snowing pretty hard. And if you're reading this post, Sarah, for memory's sake, I posted a few photos of the tree Andrew proposed to you under before and after I obliterated it:

Before:




After:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sammy meets great grandmother

Today my sister Sarah, Andrew, and my parents drove down to Portland, Oregon to visit my dad's mother who is now living in a rather nice care facility, and is my only living grandparent. Needless to say, she was suffering from Alzheimer's, so she was unable to even remember who her own sons were. It used to be that whenever I visited her, hugs and kisses were manditory before laying foot in the house, but it seems that's changed a little bit. Needless to say, we succeded at conveying to her the idea that she had a new great grandchild, and afterwards she was in very good spirits. My dad duplicated several old photos of relatives, siblings, parents, and children, with which we decorated her walls. The entire time, she preoccupied herself with stuffing Patrick's mouth with multiple cookies. I learned a new side of my grandmother today, as she was more comical than I had ever seen her before.

Here are two video clips and some photos I captured.





Some photos:



Leona holding her great grandchildren.


Grandma pondering over a photo of her family. After recognizing herself in the picture, she responded "What am I doing in that photo?"

Friday, November 24, 2006

My very first blog post

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I found a little bit of free time since I was given a five-day weekend, so I decided I'd finaly cave in and submerge myself in the blogosphere. I had a web page a while back, but I haven't had very much time or effort to keep it updated regularly; a web page is a lot more maintenance. I guess the growing trend for keeping a personal diary or journal is to submit your entries to the entire world so that anybody can read what you have to say and then leave comments on your blog, leaving the poster with some sense of social satisfaction. Being a social networking participant myself (YouTube, MySpace, and now I guess Blogger.com), I am quite aware of how cruel people can be, especially on the internet (having submitted degenerative comments myself, in the spirit of love of course), so I don't see how many people have the audacity to upload their soul onto the internet when they could get a little diary equipped with a lock and key and then hide it under your pillow, considering how sensitive most people are to criticism. I find it interesting that nowdays people are willing to share things that 10 years ago they would have kept under lock and key. I guess this trend is a facet of what Neil Postman described as the surrender of culture to technology...

Well, anyway, today I sawed down the tree my sister Sarah and Andrew proposed under. My dad declared the death sentence and I was the executioner. They don't even know I did it yet, but I can imagine how they will feel when the figure out that one of the things that brought joy to their lives has been destroyed without a second thought, and now some of their best memories can never be revisited. To the left is the photograph of the same tree taken by my sister the day she was engaged. Now what's left of it is a pile of small debris. How sad.

This weekend, Sarah, Andrew, my parents and I are heading down to Portland, OR for the weekend to visit my Grandma, and introduce her to Samuel, my new nephew and her new great grandchild. Looking forward to some good times with relatives. Then on Monday, I'm going to be visiting a cemetary for my Archaeology class, taking photos of various grave stones, then apply seriation to determine if there is any correlation between head stone styles and time. Then I got finals to these next couple weeks, so I got a fair deal of cramming and information overload to look forward to in the near future.