Monthly Archives: June 2007

Sun 17 Jun 07

A while back I lamented the loss of my twice weekly full-court basketball game, commenting on what a rare thing I felt it was to find a fun, accepting group of people who are still competitive and energetic.

Well, I think we’ve done one better. Ultimate Frisbee, baby! I had heard rumblings from a friend out here about a group of people who get together a couple times a week to play Frisbee, so I did a little online research, dropped a few emails, and showed up at a park with Mary last Sunday to find what ended up being fourteen other players strapping on cleats and tossing warmup throws.

And it was incredible. Competent, competitive Frisbee is a beautiful thing to watch and even better to participate in. Everyone was super welcoming and friendly (patiently explaining rules and talking with us in between games about Yakima and past residences), most in their twenties or early thirties, and all pretty much down to earth.

Our throws (and legs) were definitely a little rusty the first time out, but after playing again last Wednesday and again this afternoon (and practicing with each other a couple of times the past few days) I think I’m developing a pretty solid forehand to go with an already comfortable backhand and hammer. Mary’s been playing really well too and has already figured out a forehand that took me forever to even start to learn. And of course it was also great to have an excuse to run around for a couple of hours. It sounds like the playing season extends roughly from March through October, twice a week whenever possible, with a few tourneys in the fall. Pretty sweet!

Mary took a few pictures while subbed out for a couple of minutes during a game this afternoon (I’m the one in the green sleeveless shirt).

Later Taylor drank a beer and then we took all three dogs for their usual nightly run at the school across the street where they caught Frisbees and frolicked in the sprinklers. It really has become a nightly routine and the dogs start to get all antsy and whimpery around dusk in anticipation (for the run, not the beer).

Sat 16 Jun 07

Mary and I drove down to Zillah, WA this afternoon and spent a couple of hours doing the wine tour thing. Not really my first choice for how to spend a day, but Mary got fired up after re-watching Sideways some time over the past couple of days and I suppose when you’re in an area that supposedly rivals Napa Valley for quality wine production, it’s something that needs to be done. And really it turned out to be fairly interesting. And free of course. We tasted wine at two vineyards, Claar Cellars and Bonair Vineyards, with a stop at El Ranchito Restaurant in between (cleansing our palates with tacos and refried beans). We sampled about a dozen wines in total at Claar and Bonair. Not being a wine connoisseur, they were all good.

Sat 9 Jun 07

Mary and I drove up to Mount Rainier National Park yesterday afternoon. Roughly a ninety minute drive from our front door to the park entrance. Most of the park roads are closed due to massive flooding last fall, but we were able to drive in a couple of miles and were waved in for free by a bored-looking ranger manning the entrance booth. Only saw one other couple the whole time we were there. We spent a few hours hiking along the Ohanapecosh River, checking out Silver Falls, and scrambling around on boulders before heading home. Many pictures…

Here are a couple of short clips from our outing. Below left are a series of rapids and drops right above Silver Falls (they might even be part of Silver falls, not sure how waterfalls are classified). And below right is Silver Falls (main drop).

Fri 8 Jun 07

A tour of our backyard trees. Our cherry tree, robust and heavy with fruit. I think the birds have been pecking at the cherries a little, but from the looks of it there will be more than enough to go around. I think some pruning is order on this guy, but that’s something I’ll probably have to read up on.

The peach tree. In a less ideal spot than the cherry, right by the fence line where it can get buffeted by winds whipping across the school field and subjected to the hands of passerbys. Still looks reasonably healthy (a bit of leaf curl in spots) and fuzzy fruit starting to grow.

Tree pictured below on the left is a crab apple, not sure what the one on the right is. Any suggestions?

Our oak tree. Stately and great for climbing. I don’t think you usually see oaks bifurcate this low to the ground (or at least I haven’t seen that many). Makes for a beautifully balanced tree (and a massive spread of acorns).

And just because, here’s a lily growing in the front yard.

Thu 7 Jun 07

So what is it exactly that an Environmental Planner does? After almost a month on the job I’m still not entirely sure, but I’m at least starting to get a handle on my position.

Things I do know… I work four 10-hour days per week in order to get a three-day weekend. I haven’t decided if this is worth it yet though. It always seems worth it by the time I get to Thursday, but certainly not on the three days prior. This schedule means that wake up at about 5 AM to make sure I’m walking through the front door by 6 AM so that I can leave work by 4:30 PM. That’s a long day. And also a very early day. I know it sounds insane (5 AM?!), but really I’ve been having no problems getting up, usually waking before my alarm goes off. A strange thing about this latitude seems to be an early rising summer sun (I often wake at 4:30 AM to sun starting to peak through the blinds). So the early morning obviously isn’t great, but I am functioning at this point. At some point I’d like to start biking the five miles to work, but that will just add to the insanity of the morning, so we’ll see.

I also know that I work in a cubicle staring at a computer screen for hours on end. Here’s a very sterile picture of my office. I’ll need to add some more homey pictures and trinkets one of these days.

So office life isn’t ideal, but I run around on my breaks and always make sure I print things to the farthest printer so I have to run up and down stairs to get my documents. And so far the work has been fairly interesting. I’m learning a ton and am particularly enjoying working with mapping software. I’m told that this is a particularly good project to be a part of. We’re working jointly with the Washington State Department of Transportation on a $400 million project to rework a five-mile stretch of I-90 through Snoqualmie Pass (there are also plans to continue the project for another ten miles or so). Here’s a picture that I did not take of part of the first phase of the project.

Anyway, right now I really don’t have much responsibility, which is kind of nice. There is some level of ingenuity required, but really I spend most of my time helping out the other planners with their functions. Creating documents as needed, tracking down information, running copies, nothing too tough.

In other news the company I work for, URS Corp, just acquired a rival engineering firm for $2.6 billion, adding 25,000 new employees to the current 30,000. Those are some mammoth numbers. And no end to the future potential job openings I suppose.