Monday, May 31, 2010


In Perspective: Visualizing the BP Oil Disaster: "See how the oil spill in the gulf would look over your hometown"

Second Beach, Rain Rain Rain

Much to tell, but I wore myself out, and have Things To Do this morning. Here only the headline news: Did reach the ocean in time for the -1.3 low tide but you still couldn't walk out to Crying Lady Rock.

Second Beach, May 30, 2010

The Kalebergs have pictures taken on a -0.9 tide day when there was enough sand built up on the beach to make a magic sandbar that you could walk dry-shod out to the rock. (The 07/09/08 entry at the bottom of the page) So it's not just tide. Also depends on the beach profile. I'll keep trying. There's -2's in June and July, but even earlier in the morning alas... Still, the tide was plenty low enough for wonders.

Pisaster ochraceus, Second Beach. (Click for larger image.)

It rained all day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

6 AM, Gotta Go

Trying to catch the minus tide at Second Beach, a drive and a hike from here. Appearances to the contrary, it's going to rain; but appearances will get me out of the house and out to the coast, and what I do then remains to be seen. Tomorrow might be better as to weather, but I've already postponed one day because of the forecast. Am at risk of throwing away a 3-day weekend and not going anywhere at all... Leaving.

Webcam at First Beach (Click for larger image.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

First Thing Every Morning

Environmental catastrophe. The best place I have found for intelligent discussion is The Oil Drum. They've collectively been thinking about Peak Oil for a long time, and seem to know what they are talking about.

An earlier post there had this image from the Minerals Management Service. 3359 active platforms. Well, 3358 now that one blew up and sank. How could there not be a disaster sooner or later. How is it only BP's fault, or the government's, and not also mine?

Withdrew the counter widget I posted a few minutes ago. Numbers for how much oil don't quite matter: 'already enough for a catastrophe' is the number.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Meta-Post 2 : Into It Now

I just shifted the images in September, 2008, to blogger/blogspot, and deleted them from my ISP. I see why I hesitated for so long before making the shift in November , 2008. Blogger's notion of a large-size anchor image is 400 pixels wide, and I had been making mine 500 pixels wide. Liked it better that way. Having done September 2008, I've thought of a way to trick blogger, but it's twice as much work per image. We'll see.

While I was in there I lost my head and made tags (labels) for pelicans, Lillian Ridge, and marmots. Until I edit all the other posts with pelicans or marmots in them, it won't be very effective. Shall I also put the label 'birds' on every post in which I go out to Ediz Hook to look for ducks? Oh mercy, I'm not going to have to touch all 530 posts for one reason or another, am I?

I'm a lot smarter than I was a couple or three hours ago, but I think I'll stop for now...

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Over the next little while, will be making changes in old posts: mending tagging decisions, and experimenting with moving photos out of my ISP and into blogger. (Either a good idea or not: depending on which is likely to happen first, moving the blog to wordpress, or finally choosing a domain name and shifting ISPs at last. Odds are, both or neither.)

I mention this because your RSS reader is liable to 'read' a revised post as new, even if it's because I shifted JK's large photo files from our September 2008 day in the Hoh Rainforest out of storage I'm paying for and into blogger/picasa...

Also I thought I would mention that since mid-April I still have not caused the universe to produce a small container just to deliver me sodapop. Can't quite say I haven't caused any can use at all because the tomato juice I drank on the airplane was probably poured out of a can. Six weeks and counting. #730aluminumcansperyear #notproducedonmybehalf

Lastly, reading news confession. I've been tending the reading-greed list: ordering from ABE, suggesting library purchases, tracking forthcoming titles from now into the fall (OMG finally, there will be a new Nicholas Kilmer in November!). But I care enough about the good opinion of the folks at Port Book and News that I can't bring myself to drop off a list of mass market paperback mysteries for them to order for me. The ones I don't ask the library to get are lightweight. Punny titles or chicklit-ish covers, even. Am having to sternly remind myself of Betty Rosenberg's First Law of Reading: "Never apologize for your reading taste."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Most Beautiful Beach in the World

Rialto Beach to Hole-in-the-Wall.

Rialto Beach to Hole-in-theWall (Click for larger image.)

Sunset News

The sun has swung so far to the north I can see both the sunrise and sunset points from my front windows.

Sunset, May 21, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

In winter the sun sets well behind the north face of the Olympics, but now the sunset light falls lovely on Klahane Ridge and Mount Angeles.

Sunset, May 21, 2010 (Click for larger image.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Seasonal Signs

Thursday, May 20, up at the college library, where the windows are tall and wide and look across the harbor and the Strait, all the way to Canada. "You just missed a submarine," said J. when I arrived. "I looked on and it wasn't listed." "Nah, the coast guard cutters and the escort vessels and the subs are never listed. Obviously they transmit, but on other frequencies and other people watch them." Later there was a container freighter passing the end of the Hook. With binoculars you could read the big "Hapag-Lloyd" on the side, but not the little letters on the bow. said she was Bremen Express, en route to Tokyo.

Later still the ferry caught my eye. There it goes. I waved at it, then looked wildly at the clock. Why is it on the move at 1PM? Ah. Early summer schedule: three runs a day, beginning today. 8:20 12:45 5:15. Last return from Victoria docks at 9PM. Sure enough at 9 I heard its horn in the darkening evening, 'hoooooome-home-home'.

Darkening evening, 9 PM. The days already nearing as-long-as-they-get. Right now:
   Thursday 20 May 2010 Pacific Daylight Time
    Sunrise 5:29 a.m.
    Sunset 8:53 p.m.
    End civil twilight 9:31 p.m.

Earliest sunrise seems to arrive on (and stay the same for a few days after)
   Saturday 12 June 2010 Pacific Daylight Time
    Sunrise 5:13 a.m.
    Sunset 9:14 p.m.
    End civil twilight 9:55 p.m.

Latest sunset seems to arrive on (and stay the same for a few days after)
   Saturday 19 June 2010 Pacific Daylight
    Sunrise 5:13 a.m.
    Sunset 9:17 p.m.
    End civil twilight 9:59 p.m.

This post serves as your annual reminder that the earth is tilted, and this daylight thing—the earlying of sunrise and the latening of sunset, and back again—is not symmetrical. I've never succeed in explaining it, barely can grok it myself. Whenever the topic arises I look at the first analemma photo (a one year multiexposure photo of the sun at the same time of day), the one taken by Dennis Diciccio in 1978. I see the tilt. I sigh and say, ok, I get it, just for a thought-moment.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


He had flown away from the corner of 8th and C in my neighborhood overnight, and wasn't at Swain's general store either. The lady at the duck derby table in Swain's gave me a number to call, and it turned out he was now tethered at the car dealerships to the east of town...

... (Click for larger image.)

Home Again, Home Again

Wheels go round and round, sliding walkways slide along, elevators and escalators and airplanes go up and down, and like magic I am delivered back to where big ships cross the bottom of the street, eagles cruise over the supermarket parking lot, and really ridiculously large duck balloons appear next to the road to advertise the Memorial Day duck derby. (You buy a certificate for a numbered plastic duckie. On Sunday, "All of the numbered ducks are dumped into the Nippon Paper Industries canal on race day, and the 'owners' of the first 42 ducks to cross the finish line will win great prizes." It's a fund-raiser for Olympic Medical Center.)

Also the radio attempts to distract you from the working life, by telling you there's a high surf advisory at La Push. No, no-o-o, I didn't hear that, I have to stay late at the college library for a staff meeting. So it might be the last storm surf until next winter, so what.

NWS Warnings, At the Moment, (Click for larger image.)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Car Is at the Port Angeles Airport

I'm in Florida. It's hot and humid and has my family in it, and that's all I'm saying about that.

Olympic Mountains and a certain vehicle, as seen on the airport cam (Click for larger image.)

I'd rather be thinking about how the snow has begun to melt up on top of the mountain, but just barely, and it will take a while. Last year they didn't open the Obstruction Point Road until 4th of July weekend. Wonder how long it will take this year. We got a lot of snow, and there's a lot of water locked up on top of the Olympics.

Snow-water equivalent at the Waterhole Sno-Tel, halfway between Hurricane Ridge and Obstruction Point (Click for larger image.)

The Basin Snow-Water Content at the three Olympic stations is 163% of average, and the total precipitation up there for this water year (since October 1, 2009) is 147% of average.

The graphical maps are way more fun than the numbers:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gray Whales

Journey North has posted their FINAL Migration Update: May 12, 2010 for the gray whales. The most interesting/worrisome information is about this year's cow-calf count, from Wayne Perryman at Point Piedras Blancas.

Monday, May 10, 2010

No Beaks, No Wings, No Birdy Feet

Saturday, May 8. Beach survey in glorious weather. No beaks, no wings, no birdy feet. JL from COASST says none of the volunteers are finding beached birds; still, I worry that I'm missing them, and wherever I see loose feathers I look even more carefully. No little corpses, buried or not.

There remains a lot of trash on the beach. I make a strategic error and start filling a trash bag on the outbound leg, toting it up and down the beach face clanking as I go and worrying that something will cut the bag (or my best jeans)... By the turnaround point it's as heavy as I want to carry, I have to tote it all the way back, and I haven't kept track of what I should be recording on the marine debris sheet. The wrack line contains a lot of small small plastic pieces, and there are a number of intact glass bottles. As long as the lids are stuck on so that they will float, apparently glass bottles are happy to bob around in the ocean indefinitely and perhaps wash up intact on one side of the ocean or the other. Why isn't every one of them broken and settled to the bottom of the sea?

Wind from the southwest, colors like the tropics (Click for larger image.)

It was shirt-sleeve weather. There were a couple of shorebirds whom I startled away before noticing them; we don't see very many on Rialto Beach, and I wish I know who they were. An eagle flying low, another in a tree.

No beached birds to record in either beach segment. A couple of dead skates in the surf line, and a sea star. The wind swung around so it was coming from the northwest, and blew stronger. It was colder, the air was less clear, clouds toward the horizon. Still the sun shone. The days are long, and surveys don't take much time if there are no dead birds to identify, measure, photograph. I recorded the finish time in my notebook, and went back to the car to change packs and put on walk-in-the-water shoes.

Rialto Beach, looking north (Click for larger image.)

I try to pay attention to how the beach profile changes, and to watch if time continues to size-sort the stones delivered to the beach this spring when they dredged the mouth of the Quillayute River. But it's as much about personal greed as it is about understanding. Found the right patch of small flat stones, and happily dropped myself on it; hands sifting, gathering; pockets filling.

Some Pebbles in Sun (Click for larger image.)

JL told me that earlier this month when she and MS surveyed Hobuck Beach there was a lot of trash. MS is the boss scientist, and very formal, always does a Marine Debris form starting from exactly the same point each time. MS picked up, JL recorded on the clipboard. More than 30 plastic bottles in the relatively short stretch of beach they survey for debris. But also, JL found a large green glass fishing float. OMG, I am drenched with envy.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Imagine If You Lived in Iceland

...and it's not getting any darker than this at night. It's a clear beautiful night, and you could walk out in the field and see:

Eyjafjallajökull from the camera at Hvolsvelli (Click for larger image.)

There is good English-language description of what is happening on the mountain, day by day. Thanks to C. for finding it.

Eyjafjallajökull from the camera at Þórólfsfelli (Click for larger image.)

Salt Water View

This whole little town watches the Strait: there it is, at the bottom of every cross street. When it's blue and windy out, whitecaps 'way out there visible from anywhere. When it's thick and gray, Canada disappears. Big ships, little boats. At night, the lights of Victoria. The ferry, chugging out, coming home again. It's not the outer coast, but it is by golly salt water, and highly entertaining.

With luck, one has the 'dual view', able to look south to the Olympic Mountains and north to the harbor, the Strait, another country across the water. Now that the leaves are back on the trees, my own patchy water view between roofs, powerlines and conifers is even more interrupted. But water view it is. A cruise ship made a rare visit to our harbor on Friday. Had I been home, I'd have watched Zuiderdam come cruising by, caught a picture of it as seen from my front room; but I was at work, up at the college, where we are high up on the hill and have an improbable expanse of windows. Tweeted it:

We are much distracted, watching from our windows as _Zuiderdam_ comes into port. Will be here a few hours. Bigger than all of downtown. (1)Fri May 07 via web

(2) Binoculars #atthecollege ; truly, it's bigger than all downtown and it's coming around the end of the Hook NOWFri May 07 via web

Zuiderdam seen from the Peninsula College Library (Click for larger image.)

And it is so small-town a town. The ship had to tie up at the terminal where they work on the big ships, out there between the plywood mill and the dock where workmen were banging and clanging away on a repair to the tanker Overseas Long Beach. 2000 people off the ship wandered towards downtown wondering "Is this all there is?", while the official tourist-honchos and their volunteers made every effort to catch the tourists' attention, and the locals swarmed the dock to take pictures of this ship which was Bigger Than All of Downtown. We all but paddled out in our canoes hoping they'd throw trinkets and coins at us.

Zuiderdam at Terminal 1 (Click for larger image.)

Here comes the Showboat!
Here comes the Showboat!
Puff puff puff puff puff puff puffing along.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Neap Tides And No Swell To Speak Of

Just sitting at my desk under (looking out at) the blue sky is quite wonderful. But I need to trek out to the Outer Coast for this month's COASST survey. (Also, MS has requested beach glass, which I'm not all that likely to find, last weekend being a fluke.) Next weekend will be with family.

The news from the Ocean Prediction Center: boring (Click for larger image.)

Sitting at my desk also means watching the action at Eyjafjallajökull online, the Þórólfsfelli cam now has an infrared view so you can admire the earth's sometimes psychedelic choices day or night, clouds or no. Meanwhile the earth is also choosing to pump out oil through the hole we made in the bottom of the ocean. Whether and whenever BP manages to stop the flow, we have already destroyed the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys. We. Me.

Pay close attention now. See me get in my car soon and drive 90 minutes to get to where I want to be. When I give up recreational driving, Port Angeles will be a nice place to be stuck, I like it here very much. But it will mean I should have moved to an Actual-Outside-Ocean beach town to grow old in, small and lonely though such a place might have been in other senses.

Eyjafjallajökull frá Þórólfsfelli Cam (Click for larger image.)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Additional Implicit Desiderata

Saturday, May 1. Saturday forecast mostly cloudy but not rain, Sunday forecast wet, so this is the day to go to the outer coast. Already from the parking lot, skeins of geese were passing by now and then, heading north; and they kept on intermittently all day. I couldn't get a good look, they were quite high up. Their noise did seem sort of honk-ish, but not entirely, so maybe they were ducks. Nah. Do ducks fly in big v-shaped flocks, and lines and skeins?

Also a couple of eagles, one cruisin' around very high up. One sitting out on a snag in the middle of the Quileute River, not moving.

In theory all I wanted from the day was to sit and fill my shirt pocket with flat smooth stones of a certain quite small size. In truth, there were a couple of additional implicit desiderata: that the light would be good for taking pictures of these perfect stones, that it would be dry enough weather that I could read a library book. (I'm desperately bored with Anchee Min's Pearl of China and hoped to finish it.)

But no. It was rainy on and off. Sound of waves, washing foam, layers of clothes and raingear on and off, damp sandy hands, sound of waves.

There was a baffling lot of trash on the beach. Many plastic bottles, often of unfamiliar sizes and shapes and with Chinese or Japanese labels. For a while I thought some passing ship had dumped its trash— but some of the stuff had barnacles growing on it so it had been out at sea a while. I fetched a trash bag from the car and trotted around through rain showers, gathering up about half a sack of mostly plastic, a large square whiskey bottle, some bits of rope, a piece of pipe.

Plastic bottles (Click for larger image.)

A ranger in the parking lot said that at this time of year and when the swell is coming in from the southwest, we get a lot of trash; and the origins are quite international. And, he said, we get the little blue/purple jelly fish, Velella velella, another thing that happens in these conditions. I got sidetracked right there, thinking about Velella which blows in from the middle of the ocean,

('Oh I've never seen Velella here,' sez I. 'Saw some just the other day at Kalaloch,' sez he)

and didn't follow up— but I think he must have been saying that all the bottles and other pieces of plastic were coming out of the Garbage Patch. Aiiiiieeee. Rialto Beach is not usually an accumulation zone, and despite the frequent visits I've made, this is the first time I've had a personal encounter with the garbage conveyor in the North Pacific Gyre.

Barnacles on whiskey bottle, barnacles on plastic bottle. (Click for larger image.)

Oh, Velella velella, by-the-wind sailor. According to Ed Ricketts, they are thought to occur in mixed populations in mid-Pacific, their diagonal sails set either northwest to southeast or northeast to southwest, and they are "sorted by the action of the wind," so that on our side of the ocean one form arrives, on the Japanese side, another. Oh, Velella, oh.

Actually Kind of Gray But Mild Outside

Supposed weather.

Storm warning, gale warning, etc. May 2, 2010. (Click for larger image.)