June 16, 2010


I had a day off last week.  Driving around running errands I saw a nice new Toyota Highlander with a "custom" sticker on the back.

From Drop Box
The fact that someone would put a sticker like this on any car, much less a new car, lends credence to my opinion that fallen soldiers are not appropriately memorialized by stickers on the backs of cars.

Run in with an Elk

So last Friday I left work in my truck, headed for Mt. Ranier for crevasse rescue training, the last trip for the Mountain School class I had been taking all Spring.  On the way I picked up Paul, an acquaintance from class who needed a lift.  We drove for three hours across the Columbia basin, turned south at the hamlet of Ellensburg, passed through the Yakima valley, heading south of the great Washington volcano.  About 50 miles east of Yakima on highway 12, just past picturesque Rim Rock Lake, I hit a large elk.

I distinctly remember the events in slow motion.  It was 9:30 pm and dusk was just settling in.  We were about 30 miles from our destination, enjoying a pleasant conversation when Paul suddenly exclaimed, "Look out!!"  I saw the elk, barely recognizing what it was, but could see it starting to trot to the left, attempting to get beyond the driver's side of the truck's front end.  I put my foot on the brake but can't remember how hard I was pushing.  The world around me rocked back and forth ever so slightly and the truck started to slow, though I could still feel its weight and inertia.  Then there was a whump, a hollow thump and the truck softly lurched forward, as if entering a bog.  The pelvis of the elk hadn't cleared the bumper and headlight.

As things sped back into normal motion, there was the sound of glass raining on asphalt and the crunch of metal and the tearing of plastic.  A few feet beyond the animal the truck came to a stop.  Without even taking stock of what had just happened, I inched the car forward, pulling to the soft, sandy shoulder of the two lane highway.  "I can't believe I just hit him.  I think our trip is over."

I could see Paul trying to look back to my side of the truck.  He wasn't hurt, I wasn't hurt.  The impact really hadn't been that great.  The airbags hadn't even blown.  I went to open my door and immediately felt a strange resistance.  Something was dented, tweaked to the point that the door was stuck.  I forced it open a few inches and slid out.  Just then a large pickup with a camper in its bed heading east, slowed as it approached the scene.  I can't remember what was said, but the man recognized what had happened.  From the corner of my eye I saw the elk attempt to stand, dragging its back legs to the opposite side of the road and over a guardrail.  "Do you have a gun?" I asked.  They didn't.  It wasn't hunting season.

I checked my cell phone.  No service.  The couple in the truck asked if we needed help.  I didn't know if we did or not.  I wasn't processing clearly.  We needed help.  Looking at the damage to the truck, I decided it wasn't driveable.  The battery was cracked, there was some unidentified fluid splashed everywhere, and the front wheel well liner was off.  The check engine light was on on the dashboard.

The man retrieved a broom from his camper and swept the debris to the side of the road, cleared their large retriever from the double cab of the truck and got him into the back.  I grabbed a coat, a map, and my ipad.  Paul got a coat and bag of food.  The couple drove us to a small resort area 3 miles east, back at Rim Rock Lake.  The resort was all but shut down, no phone book could be found.  A few Lion's Club members were having a leadership meeting at the resort.  They didn't have much to offer.  Paul had spotty service, but it was good enough.  After a few attempts, we contacted a towing service that would send someone out.  They'd be there in an hour.  We waited in the couple's camper while I called my insurance and Vanessa.

The couple stayed far longer than they needed to or should have--they were on vacation after all.  They left and Paul and I moved into the lobby of the resort to continue our wait.  About 15 minutes later the tow truck showed up.  The driver insisted on calling the state patrol, saying he legally had to and that my insurance would probably require a police report.  He called and the state trooper was already at the truck.  We quickly headed out.  Without difficulty and despite the dark, the truck was loaded onto the tow truck platform.  The state trooper was empathetic and gave me the necessary police report--no ticket.  Paul and I got in the cab of the tow truck and enjoyed the 1 hour drive back to Yakima where the truck was deposited at the impound yard and I was dropped off at the Holiday Inn.  It was about 2 am.

From Drop Box

Paul had called a friend earlier who just happened to be driving from Seattle to Spokane that night and convinced him to make a detour from I-90 and pick him up for an early morning drive home.  I was glad he went.  I felt guilty for ruining his weekend.  This way, at least, he'd salvage his Saturday.

I had a hard time falling asleep.  I was given a handicap friendly room just off the lobby of the hotel.  I joked with myself that the guy behind the counter only gave it to me after finding out that I had hit a large, slow moving animal with my brand new truck earlier that evening.  I was awakened by my cell phone ring.  My mom called to make sure I was ok after seeing a picture of the damaged truck I had posted on Facebook the night before.  I thought it was early, but it was already 8 am.  I went to the lobby for the complementary breakfast then made a few calls before finding a rental car.  I quickly showered and called a taxi that took me to the rental car office (they wouldn't come get me despite their sign that says they will--lazy employee).

From Drop Box

Then I drove straight home, not stopping for three hours.  I was home by mid afternoon, got the lawn mowed, enjoyed my kids and wife and slept in my own bed feeling much better.

The positive in all this?  It turns out that there is no deductible and my insurance will cover the cost of  the emergency travel etc.  Plus, we are planning a tip to the North Cascades in July and will just take a detour then to pick up the truck that is currently getting repaired in Yakima.  Plus, I had almost driven my smaller blue car but at the last minute decided not to.  I can only imagine the damage an elk would have done to that car and to me.  The truck may have saved my life.

Cycling is for Dorks

A co worker with a good sense of humor recently forwarded this to me in an email and highlighted number 30 for me:

Thought Provoking Statements
>       1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately
>      clear your computer history if you die.
>       2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you
>      realize you're wrong.
>       3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I
>      was younger.
>       4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
>       5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
>       6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
>       7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm
>      pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
>       8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how
>      the Person died.
>       9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
>       10. Bad decisions make good stories.
>       11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at
>      work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything
>      productive for the rest of the day.
>       12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I
>      don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
>       13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it
>      asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper
>      that I swear I did not make any changes to.
>       14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this
>      - ever.
>       15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?
>      Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and
>      goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the
>      phone and run away?
>       16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not
>      seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
>       17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know
>      not to answer when they call.
>       18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
>       19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or
>      Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
>       21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger
>      and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I
>      first saw it.
>       22. I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand
>      than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
>       23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying
>      to finish a text.
>      24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and
>      hunger.
>       25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just
>      nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they
>      said?
>       26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team
>      up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong,
>      brothers and sisters!
>       27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get
>      dirty, and you can wear them forever.
>       28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every
>      year?
>       29. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you
>      are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
>       30. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate
>      drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate
>      cyclists.
>       31. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and
>      still not know what time it is.
>       32. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their
>      car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail
>      on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the
>      snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed,
>      first time, every time!
>       33. Even when opportunity knocks, you still have to get up
>      and open the door.

I wish I could disagree with the sentiment of number 30, but I can't.  I have recently come to realize that I am a self loathing bike commuter.  As a group, cyclists are unpredictable and a challenge to walk around or drive near.  I try to be predictable, but I'm sure there are times that I frustrate drivers.  And I think I'm ok with that.

I participated in Bike to Work Week, which means I went to the Monday morning dorkfest--I mean kickoff breakfast.

From Drop Box
I wanted to participate in bike to work week last year, but was working in Seattle.  My hotel was close enough to work that I walked.  This year I was working the night shift so I had just gotten finished with an 11 hour overnight shift when I was trying to shove undercooked pancakes in my mouth at the breakfast.  Overall I biked nearly every day during my week of night shifts.  And it was actually rather pleasant.

As to the dorkitude of cyclists in general, why is it that we have to claim recumbent riders and weirdos like this:

From Drop Box
This was at Artfest in Couer d'Alene park in Brown's Addition a few weekends ago.  There were a pair of these guys. I suppose technically speaking there are two wheels on this contraption, so it is indeed a bicycle.  But c'mon, what's the point of this?

Incidentally at the same event I spotted this guy, whom I had seen a year or two ago at our local Hastings media store.  This time there wasn't as much bird excrement on his shirt.  It seemed a little more normal to have the bird perched there since we were outdoors instead of in a store.

From Drop Box

Come to think of it, bird fanciers are even dorkier than cyclists.  I guess that makes me feel better.

June 13, 2010

Thoughts on a Sixth Grade Graduation

Last Thursday we enjoyed Savanna's 6th grade graduation.  It was an experience seeing the two sixth grade classes celebrate 7 years of schooling, many of whom started kindergarten together.  They had students from each class share memories from each of the seven years of school.  For me it was kind of emotional to think about my daughter and her peers sharing so much time together over the years while I've been at work, seldom wondering exactly what she was up to.  Time has passed and she is growing up too fast.  The principal had requested photos from parents a few weeks earlier and made a nice slideshow.  There were pictures from all the way back in kindergarten.  I think we've been lucky to more or less be in the same place for so long and offer our kids such a level of stability.  It seems to be more and more rare these days to go through elementary and beyond in one school district.

Savanna had a great teacher this year.  He is the sort of guy who likes to have fun with the kids and understands their awkward stage of development sixth graders face.  He gave all the kids nicknames at the beginning of the year and took time to talk about the special characteristics of each of the children as they handed out the diplomas.  He was a good fit for Savanna and gave her artistic and writing abilities a lot of praise.  I remember my sixth grade teacher as my favorite because she helped me see that I had the ability to do many things that I didn't realize I could do.  She gave me confidence that helped me through the rest of my schooling and life in general.  I think Savanna's teacher did much the same for her.

Savanna, like Vanessa and I, has always been pretty quiet at school with a small circle of friends.  It was good to discover that there were many good kids in her class beyond the ones I had gotten to know.  It gave me a glimmer of hope for the future of society.

A few awards were passed out, two of which Savanna was nominated for but didn't ultimately win.  We were proud of her.  We know she has the ability to learn quickly and is interested in drawing and art.  But we've worried about her socially and physically.  We would love to see her have more friends and find a sport she enjoyed.  And I am hoping she will develop a better work ethic.  I don't think her schooling has challenged her enough to require her to work hard.  She is intelligent enough that what is required of her is too easy.  She is our first and oldest and, as parents, we are rookies when it comes to teenagers.  I think our worries with Savanna are merely the icing on the cake.  I don't see us dealing with real teenager problems like drugs and crime or pregnancy that many other parents have to.

But despite our concerns, the friends she does have are good friends.  And maybe the honors classes she is preparing for in 7th grade will give her the challenge she needs.  In fact, she has required reading this summer, though it is only two books.  And we are requiring her to join the orchestra and play the viola.  Perhaps this will give her opportunities beyond class to make more friends.  And perhaps we are rushing her.  Again, we're new at this and I think we both want to know sooner than later that Savanna is going to be ok.  We want to know that she is going to be happy and successful for the long run.

June 11, 2010

Am I the Only One...

that can fall asleep at the computer with my hand carefully balanced on the mouse without clicking.

June 9, 2010

Project Update: Vegetable Garden

Last Saturday we finally planted all the starter vegetable plants in the garden.  A few weeks ago I planted seeds in the raised beds.  Last night we enjoyed the first leaves of baby spinach with dinner.  Here is documentation of our garden in early June.  By mid July I hope it is the same jungle it was last year.

So far we have carrots, spinach, mixed greens, green leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, beets, snow peas, bush beans, 4 types of tomatos, cucumbers, green and red peppers, zucchini, and eggplant.  One of these years I'm going to start from seed indoors in March and learn how to cultivate a greater variety of vegetables.

June 7, 2010

Palouse Falls Video

I'm trying to get on top of and stay on top of all the little videos I've been taking of our weekend trips.  The evening after our trip to Palouse Falls I spent a couple hours putting this together while Vanessa spent a couple hours downloading and editing photos.  It is a lot of work documenting this stuff.  But not enough work to discourage us and get us to actually stay home.

In this video I did a better job with the sound, getting the background music volume to go up and down and normalizing the sound track of the actual clips.  I don't entirely understand the normalize function on iMovie yet, but I'm getting there.  So much to learn.  Here it is:

Palouse Falls June 6, 2010 from Corey Judd on Vimeo.

The Palouse and Palouse Falls and Palouse

This weeekend we finally made the trip to Palouse Falls.  We have wanted to check this place out for at least a year.  So we enjoyed a drive through the Palouse that is covered with a carpet of verdant green winter wheat.  We trekked across some scablands along the southeastern fringe of the Columbia Basin to the small state park that houses the great horse tail falls of the Palouse River.  I stole the below photos from Vanessa as she wears the camera straps in the family (though I'm currently making a bid for designated videographer).
It is impressive, but is even bigger than this earlier in the spring.
Here is a video of a guy kayaking off the falls, which was a world record at the time (186 ft.)
Below is a stiff family portrait.  We were just getting geared up for the photo frenzy that is Vanessa.
Starting to loosen up:
Ansel is a little too loose, and leaky:

Of course he got a lot less loose after he saw this guy near the railroad tracks:

For the rest of the hike he stayed close to a parent and had a few episodes of panic when he "thought he heard something."  I'll have to put that in my bag of bad parenting tips for when I want him to stay close by--"Ansel, I think there's a rattlesnake over there."
Upper Palouse Falls:

Castle Rock (No photos of Vanessa, no video of me.  We have to make sure we switch jobs from time to time).

More Palouse Falls:

Palouse Falls Canyon from the top of the falls.

Cool bearded mountain guy in the parking lot:

Later, back on the Palouse, on our way to the town of Palouse:

Green brick wall in the town of Palouse, a nice little artsy community just north and east of Pullman:

Video to follow.

June 6, 2010

Helpful Hint of the Day

Everyone gets a song stuck in their head from time to time and it can be a devil getting rid of it.  I may have found a solution.

This morning as I vacuumed the detritus from the kids' movie and popcorn gorging last night in the TV room, I got the old Whitney Houston song "Greatest Love of All" (or whatever the proper title is) stuck in my head.  I don't know why or where it came from.  As I rhythmically pushed the vacuum back and forth it threatened to really nestle into the gyri and sulci of my brain.  I had to do something.

Luckily, I didn't panic.  Instead I started analyzing the lyrics and began dictating a sort of thesis of deconstruction in my head.  I didn't even get past the first line--"I believe the children are our future."  Of course children are the future.  They're children and will most likely be here longer than those older than them.  What's to believe about that?  In fact, they have a bigger stake in the future and it is more in their interest than mine to prepare for it.  Perhaps the elderly who, by extension, have less of a stake in the future, should be eyed with suspicion as they are typically the ones who wield power in government and business. 

And I went on and on in this ridiculous way, trying to make Derrida proud until, POOF!, the song was gone.  Success...until a half hour later when I heard Vanessa's voice echoing throughout the house, "Treat them well and let them know the way.  Tell them all the beauty they possess insiiiiide."  

I must have been whistling the tune earlier and didn't realize I infected her as well.  I've got no cure for that.

June 5, 2010

Daily Opinion

Like most people, I am typically enthusiastic when something is new.  This new space for my blog is no different.  So within the space of only one day, I am posting a second time.  Unprecedented and unlikely to happen again.

Today, as I went about my weekend activities, I generated a few unimportant opinions.  They are as follows:

1.  If you ride a loud, annoying motorcycle you shouldn't be allowed to wear ear plugs to mask the sound for yourself.

2.  Local art festivals really only need to be attended once every couple years since much of the same stuff is there every time.

3.  I think I have the discipline to be a vegetarian, but not the discipline to cook vegetarian food.

4.  A good paid house cleaner is awesome and addicting.

5.  Rogue advertising signs along rural roadways are tantamount to littering.

Playing Catch Up

Here's a video I finished 99% of the way a few months back.  Thought I should post it somewhere after all that work.  Of course the music is a little off, but I don't have too much on my computer to choose from--Broken Social Scene with Leslie Feist singing and a banjo covering the rhythm.

Go Savanna!

Skiiing Lookout Pass, February 27 2010 from Corey Judd on Vimeo.