Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The World’s Unluckiest Man

In the fall of 1988, a tornado descended on the city of Moore, Oklahoma and in the process damaged the home of Donald Staley, a local building contractor. The following spring on May 3, 1999, Mr. Staley stepped out of his garage only to see another massive tornado once again approaching his recently repaired home. This storm ripped the roof off of his house; the storm was determined to be a F5 tornado whose winds ranged between 261 and 318 mile per hour. This storm became the single most destructive storm in the United States to date as it was responsible for damaging or destroying 10,000 homes in the Oklahoma City area.

Following his second loss, Mr. Staley relocated to a new house across town, only to have disaster strike once again. On May 8, 2003, a tornado completely leveled his third house while he huddled in a concrete safe room.

Is Donald Staley the world’s unluckiest man? It’s difficult to say for sure, but the odds of having your home destroyed three times by tornadoes in a six year period are on the order of 1 in 3 billion chance!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The eBay Scamster

Twice in the past month I have attempted to sell an old digital camera on eBay only to fall prey to a scamster! The pattern has been the same; in the first few days of the auction there were no bids. About three days before the auction closes, someone bid the minimum amount followed by a seconds bid the following day that raised the amount by a few dollars. Then in the auction’s closing hours, the bidding went wild! In this auction the bids went from about $12.52 to $68.00 in less than an hour. Believe me, no five year-old point and shoot camera is worth sixty-eight bucks, no way!

When the auction has closed, I immediately received an email from a yemi wale, who incidentally was not the party placing the bid, requesting the following:

(Actual Text From yemi wale’s email)

How are you today.I'm the winner of your great item,I'm sending the item to my son as a christmas gift in west Africa (Nigeria) so for the shipping,and i willlike you to make the shipment via (Global Express International EMS)for the shipping and i will add extra $100 with the total cost of the itemand arrange for the payment as soon as possible through pay pal,soplease kindly help to ship the item to him cos i would have love tosend it my self but i am busy with my special assignment here inAustralia on behalf of my company in the US, so here is my son'sshipping address below. NAME :: Adesanwo Adeyemi ADDRESS :: 109 Akinola Street Orogun Ojoo CITY :: Ibadan STATE:: Oyo State COUNTRY :: Nigeria ZIPCODE ::23402

Yea, sure; I’ll be happy to send my old camera to your son in Nigeria while you are busy in Australia! Mr. Wale, to you I offer the following suggestion: email you son and tell him to bring a big lunch with him to the post office because he'll be waiting there a while!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Airline Employees Get Sick After Company-Provided Thanksgiving Dinner

It reads like a script from the popular 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy. Can’t you just hear Ricky Ricardo yelling “Lucy, you've got some 'splainin' to do!”

Apparently, United Airlines offered a free turkey dinner to 3,000 workers at O’Hare airport as a reconciliatory gesture from the company to its employees. United Airlines has been the target of employee criticism the past few years because it awarded large pay increases and bonuses to top managers while the rank and file employees took pay cuts to help keep the company afloat.

The meals were prepared and provided by a catering service. Hopefully it’s not the same service that provides United with the in-flight meals!


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Does The Weather Fascinate You?

I have always been fascinated by the daily changes in the weather. My interest began in the early 1960’s as a Boy Scout when we attempted to plan camp outs on weekends that would hopefully be rain free. Years later, as a forester, projects such as tree planting, herbicide applications, and controlled burns owed their very success to accurate weather information.

In 1858, the Smithsonian Institution reported that one of its most popular exhibits was the first publicly displayed weather map. Information on temperature, barometric pressure, and wind direction were collected by ordinary citizens at more than 300 locations. These volunteers would send daily observations by telegraph to the Smithsonian and their measurements would be displayed on the large map. Circular colored disks were attached to represent the location of each reporting station. The color of the disk represented the current state of the atmosphere; white signified clear weather; gray, cloudy; black, rain, and so forth.

How the science of weather prediction and long range forecasting have changed. Today, up to the minute weather information is available around the clock from the National Weather Service. Regional offices are located in major cities across the United States and provide nearly endless information on the local, regional, and national weather.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Let Us All Give Thanks

Of Plymouth Plantation is considered to be the most complete source of the Pilgrim’s story. The following is a passage written by William Bradford, the first governor of Plymouth Colony describing the Pilgrim’s arrival to the shores of the New World in November of 1620:

Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the fast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.”

On this day, let us all give thanks for our arrival in a good and safe harbor!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Columbia River Estuary

Be it sunshine or rain, one of my favorite places to make photos is in the estuary at Fort Stevens State Park. These two photos were taken in a portion of the park that is behind the jetty that holds back the roaring waves of the Pacific Ocean. If you arrive in the early morning hours, you will also be treated to an incredible display of water fowl of every species found on the north coast of Oregon.

The photos below show how a small section of the estuary looked between rain squalls, late one afternoon in October of 2007.

Which photo do you prefer?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Those Who Go Down To The Sea In Ships

It’s very likely that every large port city has a memorial to those who lost their lives while sailing one of the seven seas. Astoria is no exception; our memorial is located beneath the big bridge and behind the big white building known as Suomi Hall. The Astoria Maritime Memorial Park is dedicated to the memory of those who have served the maritime industry. It is also dedicated to the brave men and woman of the U. S. Coast Guard who have lost their lives with serving on the Columbia River.

The park is a great place to visit and to spend a few moments in quiet contemplation. It also affords unmatched views of the Columbia River.

The park's entrance with the Columbia River and Washington state in the background.

Attached to the memorial's walls are black granite tablets engraved with the names of those who served in the maritime industry. The tablet depicted commemorates the brave men of the USS Astoria who were lost while serving during World War II.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thirty Years – Where Did It Go?

Today marks the passing of a milestone in my life, by day’s end; I will have been employed by the Oregon Department of Forestry for thirty years. Who would have known that I would have stayed so long? At the age of 24 and a recent collage graduate, I had no concept of the future and what it might hold.

I still remember my first day on the job as if it were only yesterday. Determined to show my commitment, I arrived for work thirty minutes early. This action allowed me to hang out in a darkened parking lot until about 7:45 AM when everyone else arrived for the day. I was further disheartened as my supervisor was late that day, so I just sat in the reception area and waited while everyone else went about their daily activity totally unaware of my presences!

Later that morning, my supervisor took me to the break room to meet the cast of character, many of whom have become my life long friends. As the new guy, I was frequently tested to see how I would react to a given situation. One morning, someone suggested that as the new guy it should be my responsibility to make the coffee. Yea, sure; that was one test for which I had a plan! The first batch of coffee I used about twenty scoops of coffee grounds. Needless to say, the coffee was like liquid tar and drew endless complaints. The next day I made the coffee using only one-half scoop so the finished product was the color of weak tea. Mission accomplished; I was never asked to make coffee again!!

Today will be a day of celebration, reflection on the past, and thoughts of what the future will bring.

This is how I appeared on one spring day in May of 1978.

This is me standing in the woods near Westport, Oregon in Noveber of 2007. Oh, how time has passed, the trees have grown, and so have I!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nothing Stays The Same - Time Changes Everything!

The area shown in this photo was logged during the summer of 1998 and replanted during February of 1999. The photo shows the same area as it looked in the early morning hours of May 6, 2003, just five years following replanting.

This photo shows the same area as seen from the same vantage point but on November 16, 2007, eight years following replanting. The majority of the trees are greater than fifteen feet in height. In another three years, the view from this vantage point will be totally obscured!

If you want to see a really impressive example of the progression of time, visit the Bike Riding Donut Guy’s blog and view what he calls “The Front Door Pictures”. These photos depict his son and daughter as they appeared annually on their birthday. Pretty neat stuff!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Life In Politics - I Thing Not

I was recently cleaning out some old papers and found this picture of my ninth grade civics class trip. At King Philip Regional High School, it was tradition for civics classes to make a trip to Boston and tour the State House. It also gave you a chance to meet your state senator and hopefully learn something about the workings of government and the political process.

As I studied the picture, it occurred to me why I was never suited for a life in politics. One, a politician would not likely be standing in the back row; note where Senator Quinlan stood. Secondly, politicians tend to smile incessantly; again note Senator Quinlan.

I suppose the biggest reason my life in politics never got off the ground is because I am too prone to say exactly what’s on my mind. That is definitely a fatal flaw for any want-a-be politician!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

America’s First National Park

In the past forty years, I have been blessed to be able to visit Yellowstone National Park and explore its majasty in every season of the year. Without a doubt, my most memorable trip was during December of 1997. On that trip, I did not take my camera so the photos I am sharing today were made during our visit in October of 2004.

This is how Old Faithful Geyser looked during 1/60 of a second on October 7, 2004. If you want to see how it looks today, visit the Old Faithful web cam and see for yourself. You will need to be patient because it does not erupt on demand!

When you visit the park, be sure to take time to take a look inside of the Old Faithful Inn; the interior lobby is without equal!

This view of the inn was taken in October of 2004 while standing near the thermal basin looking west.

I know that you will enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why Did I Wait So Long?

The desk in my office sits a mere 1,300 feet from where I took this photo. For nearly thirty years I have pondered walking out to the bridge with camera in hand to see what was possible from this vantage point. Boy, am I ever glad that on Sunday I finally took the walk!