Obvious Warnings aren't new

We tend to think that obvious warnings (like this one) are a product of our modern litigious society, and that those lawsuits can be traced all the way back to Judge Wapner's People's Court with Doug Llewelyn's admission of "Don't take the law into your own hands; you take them to court."

But silly warning have been around for much longer, as this sign (ostensibly for children) from a 1910 Seattle Cable Car indicates:

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A contained Tulip Festival

The weather was not kind to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival this year.  The chilly spring and non-stop drizzle delayed the tulip blooms quite a bit. Whereas during many years you could drive up there in the mid-April and see acres and acres of brilliant color that looked like you could set sail on and float across a sea of red, this year, it wasn’t quite to be.

When my Mother and I took the drive up there one afternoon, there was plenty of green, and the occasional spot of yellow as the Daffodils made their last stand, the tulip blooms remained scarce.
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Fortunately, we still got to experience the reds and purples of the Roozengaarde display gardens. The contained and disciplined gardens showcase a variety of blooms and it was a enough of a tulip fix for the year.
I shot these images using the same macro lens I brought to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.
This is just a sampling of the pictures from that day.  You can find more of my pictures from that day here, on my Flickr page.

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Of course it was drizzling that day, which made walking in the nature more complicated, but it did do some interesting things to the flowers. The water droplets clung to the tulips as though they feared being soaked up by the ground.

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They also did something that’s I’d only every seen on CSI. They captured the reflection of neighboring plants, the sky, and me. Granted, it was more of a silhouette and a bit distorted. It would never result in my conviction for anything, but it was still quite cool. 

I’m not sure how well that translates to the small image posted in Blogger; you may need to open the images to their full size on Flickr to check it out (Image 1, Image 2, Image 3).
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In this shot, I used the flash.  It made the water droplets on the ruffled petal edges sparkle like an artificial, fiber optic Christmas tree. It’s a little challenging to see it in this post, but you can see a larger version here.
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I was able to get very tight on this one.
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They did some creative stuff with the flowers, creating a blue river of Irises through the beds.

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It wasn’t the wide swaths of color I’d seen in previous years, but it was still worth the visit.
You can find posts from previous visits to the Tulip Festival here:

Tulips and Hail

And you can find more pictures from various years here.


Tickling a Penguin

This may be the cutest thing I've seen all year. The Penguin is named Cookie.

Here's the short version that's been all over the 'net they past couple days:


Here's a slightly longer version that's higher quality on YouTube:



Not much has changed in 90 years

My Mother and I visited the Museum of History and Industry last week, and it is a fascinating look back at Seattle through the years.  They currently have an exhibit called Now and Then, which showcases historical photos of Seattle next to the an image shot from essentially the same location today.

They showed classic images of the opening of the first floating bridge across Lake Washington.  Years later, it would become part of I-90.

Floating Bridge opening

What struck me most was the placard next to it.

Floating Bridge opening

The first line reads:

After 20 years of debate about whether to build it, and where and how, the first bridge across Lake Washington took 18 months to complete.

Twenty years.

Twenty years to make that simple decision.

The most frustrating thing about Seattle and probably what will keep Seattle from ever achieving its potential is its inability to make a decision and do anything in a timely manner. The Seattle characteristic that drove the city to discuss this bridge for 20 years in the past is the same reason why we don't have a significant rail system today. It's why we have 3 yes votes before having a no vote and scrapping the monorail.  It's why we're still arguing about how to get light rail to the east side and why we're still arguing about replacing our crumbling viaduct that was severely damaged in an earthquake 10 years ago.  The contracts are signed and we still may have another vote on it.

I guess it's reassuring to know that this is not a new phenomenon.  Seattle has never been able to make up it's mind about infrastructure in anything resembling a sensible time frame.

I guess this also means it's never going to get any better.


Dinner and a Soda

So on Thursday I turned 27 for the 14th time (everyone else is telling me that is actually 40,but I refuse to believe it).

Here are some random observations about the concept and the day.

  • Dinner at Sullivan's in Seattle?  Definitely a good choice. Located at the former site of the Union Square Grill, it's easy to walk to from my apartment. And they have plenty of meat, which is awesome.
  • Apparently you can get cases of soda from Jones with custom labels. The Shoebox Chef created a batch for me with what had been one of my sillier Facebook profile pictures. It's quite good.
  • My Mother is in town, and that's always fun.  It gives me an excuse to some of the remaining tourist things in the area, and it's always great to see her. Visiting MOHAI was particularly interesting especially when this article in the Seattle Times followed that visit.
  • The age itself?  Yeah. That's a little weird.  I'm still not sure how I feel about that.  There comes a point when you start to realize you are no longer preparing for your adult life, but actually living it.  I can see that in the distance.
  • I'm kind of stunned by the number of birthday greetings I got on Facebook this year.  It's awesome, and quite different from years passed.  It's great hearing from the awesome folks I've known over the years, and it's fascinating how this appears to represent a larger cultural shift...but now is not the time to drift into an analysis of the impacts of social media.
  • Perhaps next year it will be time to turn 28. We'll see what happens next spring.

It's been a great 26+14 years so far, and I am grateful for all the awesome people who have been a part of that and contributed in large part and small to making me the person I am today.

Now, let's see what the next 160 years have to bring...


Hurricane Ridge

After a visit to the Olympic Game Farm, The GF and I headed into Olympic National Park to visit Hurricane Ridge.  The trip up there is a beautiful, windy drive through the trees.

This video shows part of the drive.  The GF just held the camera up to the windshield.  We are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country.

You can also see the video on Youtube here.

One the drive, we pulled off at a scenic turnout.  The overlook was at Ancient Lake Morse.

Thousans of years ago, a great ice sheet from Canada flowed south through the Puget Sound and west through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The ice shee abutted alpine glaciers flowing from the Olympic Mountains. As warming occurred, meltwater from mountain glaciers was dammed by the ice sheet, forming ancient Lake Morse. Continued warming caused the ice sheet to withdraw, draining the lake. Morse creek now parallels the road. In ancient times it flowed over a ridge of soft sediments connecting Blue and Round Mountains. When glaciers dammed the creek, it was diverted to a new path between Round Mountain and the present road, cutting through hard lava rocks. The resulting gorge is visible as you drive down the road or from the short trail at the Tunnels parking area.

The science is cool, but the scene is impressive.  I shot these pcitures with a 10mm - 17mm fish eye lens.  It was my best shot at capturing the land scape, but it's still a poor substitute for the real thing.

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I didn't expect this to be a great portrait lens, but I really like how this turned out.  I had the camera 3 feet from the GF's face, and she thought I was nuts (which puts her into a rather large group).  But I think it worked out.

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She shot some, as well.

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We continued up the road to the visitors center and gift shop.  The views were much more open there. And the crowds were much larger.  From here, we could see the glaciers in the mountains and the August snow in the park.

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From there we drove a short distance to the Hurricane Ridge trail head.  Then we began walking.  Uphill.  It took a little longer than I expected -- probably about an hour (maybe a little more).  It's 1.5 miles to the ridge, but we stopped a bunch of times to take pictures and to take in the scenery. While the guidebooks talked about cold weather in the middle of summer, we lucked out and had gorgeous weather the whole time.

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It was quite a walk, but the views up top made it all worthwhile.  Once we got up there. a deer walked right past us.  It was pretty amazing how close it was.

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When we turned around, we had fantastic views of the Strait on Juan de Fuca.  See that land across the water?  That's Canada.

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The GF had a lot of fun, too.

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Eventually, it was time to head back.  We made sure to spend enough time up there to be sure the walk was worth it.

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If you go, dress in layers.  We got lucky with how warm it was.  Also, be aware that the trail isn't wide.  And there are no gurad rails or hand holds.  And off to one side there are major dropoffs.  Bring water and snacks to stay fueld up.  And take your time. The views are worth it and your lungs will appreciate it, especially if you aren't acclimated to the 5700 foot elevation.  You can't count on cell phone service along the way, although I did manage to check in on foursquare at the top of the trail.

It was a fantastic, if tiring experience.

You can see more pictures here.


Life in the Garden Part 46: Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2011

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Somehow it survived and once February rolled around it was again time for the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. The last serveral Christmases my mother gave me a new lens for my camera, and I've always used that new lens as the sole one I bring to the garden show,  This year, that lens is a Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Medium Telephoto Macro Lens.

The lens gave me some nice reach and was fast enough for most shots I wanted to take (especially when I used a monopod).  The great thing about it, especially for this event, was the macro capability.  I got some really detailed shots.  The disadvantage for many of the shots, though, was that same long reach I mentiond a moment ago.  There were shots I couldn't take because I couldn't stand back far enough without other people getting in the shot, or me knocking over everything that was behind me.

I find this to be a good exercise from time-to-time.  It forces me to think more about the pictures I want to take, and I have to make decisions that I don't have to make when I carry my full kit.

This was a neat idea for a fake Koi pond -- fish figurines in black grass.

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This was from the section on Ikebana.

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The show gardens had a fictional character theme.

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The small gardens section in the atrium over Pike St. always has asome great views and creative designs.

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The doll diorama was also interesting.  They were all having a BBQ in the back yard. And the whole display was in a converted day bed.

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The tradeshow has lots of neat stuff for an actual dirt-based garden for people who have "land" or "space." Neither of which really applies to me, but there was still stuff worth seeing.

I managed to spend very little money at the show, except, of course, for the two container sized apple trees I bought for my deck. I may now be just a year away from growing my own apples.

If you're into gardening, plants, flowers, vegetables and related stuff, and are in the Seattle area, check out the show next year.  And good luck on not spending so much on stuff you can't afford seeds.

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More pictures from this year's show are available here.

Other posts I've written about the Garden show:

2011-03-01: Problem with a QR Code
2010-06-04: Life in the Garden Part 40: Northwest Flower and Garden Show – 2010
2009-02-22: The strengths and limitations of my new lens
2009-09-21: Life in the Garden Part 09: Photography and the Garden Show