Friday, January 29, 2010

In the Matter of Tides

Cliff Mass had a fairly astonishing post earlier this week, Inversions and Inverse Barometers. During that ferocious low pressure off the coast that caused all the storms in Southern California etc., what we had here were tides up to two feet higher than predicted. Tides, not storm waves. Without thinking about it, and despite knowing about storm surges in general, I'd thought that tide tables were sort of like the laws of physics. A description of immutable fact, not a prediction... Here's the key chart he gave us, showing the week of high difference between observed and predicted water levels at Neah Bay.

What is ? I was out at Rialto Beach on the 16th and the 23rd. Can I make it show me the same information for La Push... Yikes. Yes, and look. No wonder I encountered too much water to beach-walk when it was still only halfway between high and low on the 16th! Oh, you are my new favorite toy.

Adjourning to the couch now with the 2010 TideLog that KF sent me, to try to learn some more.

Unless I decide to go to the beach.

Reading Is My Darling Pleasure

Zipped out of the laundromat during the wash cycle to go to my PO box, then to the library to pick up two books being held for me. I had to walk around a library clerk who was putting more books on the hold shelves. "You guys make me very happy," I told her. After checking the books out I detoured back past her to add, "Every day."

There is actually a sufficiency of desirable mysteries in the house, at least seven; a rare occurence. Partly they accumulated because I've been grinding along for days on one of the Newbery honor books, Jacqueline Kelly's The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, which is very nice in a stately, didactic sort of way: one of those books the Newbery committee loves, but it's not exactly compelling me to stop twittering and get back to the book (and probably won't compel the readers in its intended audience either); and also being determined to finally finish Willard Bascom's Waves and Beaches, which I've been happily reexaming the photograph sections of, and nibbling on seductive chapters about surf and sand in various little bits, for weeks— but am now finally reading end to end. What a delight. In between chapters with technical stuff to overlook and diagrams be baffled by, there he is: sixty years ago, the passionate young scientist, gaily driving dukw transects through wild winter waters on our outer coast (image of Mr. Bascom in the truck-boat; it's from the book). "Somehow, in innocence and ignorance, I was persuaded that 15-foot breakers smashing down on a 32-foot tin boat were nothing to be disturbed about."

As soon as I'm done with Bascom I'm going to see if I can make any headway in one of the two used oceanography texts I bought if I use the same technique: ignoring any math and skipping anything I don't understand. Might read two or three mysteries first. And right away, have to rummage up that Bobbie Louise Hawkins quote whence I took my title above: it's from the opening chapter of Back to Texas, which ends, "...what I really want to mention, and it took me until yesterday to get it into the air, is that all that time, and right from the first, reading was my darling pleasure."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Library Day in the Life, Round 4, Day 4

I took notes all day and have no place else to put my contribution to the Library Day in the Life project, so here it is. This would actually have worked better on Twitter, but I'm finding Twitter so sticky these days that I dared not try to post a continuous record while on the desk. This is a play-by-play account of a four-hour shift on the desk at the Peninsula College Library Media Center in Port Angeles, where I am technically a part-time Librarian and more realistically the Busy-Time-Backup-Person.

*    Day begins with the usual cognitive exercise: memorize where I am parking the car. Parking lot is always full at the hour I arrive, so I can't choose to be consistent, have to cruise around until I find a hole and then recite the location to myself as I walk away from the car. I am carrying three tote bags today. More or less as usual.
*    Long talk with my boss about a horribly failed reference transaction yesterday. I suggest a small practical ameliorative arrangement, we need a bigger sign by the catalog computer so people will notice it.
*    Ask boss for search logs from the catalog. I want some idea how the students look for things, and what they look for. She will email some to me.
*    Arrive at desk. Various bits of information are passed along about library users in the building, or about to appear in the building, or just left the building. Then since I'm there to cover, my co-worker tells me she will "return to the pit", the periodical room, where she is doing a massive weeding project. (It's one of the reasons I was hired, to cover the desk so off-desk projects can get done by others.)
*    Conversation about keys. (I don't get to have one.) I am shown how to retrieve the most important key from my boss's office, but for the day I'll keep it clipped to my belt.
*    Where is the pencil sharpener?
*    Please would I unlock Study Room B? (Convenient that the key is on my belt.)
*    Another staff person comes out of the back room, opens a drawer, and removes a key on a large block of wood. OK, far-enough key coincidences for one morning, kthnxbai.
*    Do we have any kleenex? Yes, take several.
*    Finally I get logged into the several places I need to be logged into.
*    Student needs a book about Antietam. Check catalog, get call number, take him into stacks. Mention I also noticed we had a couple of EBrary titles which if this here book in hand doesn't suit he could read them online. He doesn't seem interested. He says he's never checked a book out, doesn't know what to do. Just give me your student number I say. He doesn't know it. (He is the first student I've worked with who can't recite his or her 895- number. Some of the international students are too timid of their English to say the numbers and hand me their student ID, but otherwise everyone can just rattle them off.)
*    Student needs to find a VHS tape her professor says he showed in class when she was absent that she will find useful for her paper on August Wilson. Unfortunately he misremembered all the details about it, and Wilson is nowhere in the title or subject headings and this catalog system doesn't show note fields, so it took detective work to find. She stayed patient, which not all students would do. Found tape, set her up at the workstation that plays VHS, with the special headset that jacks into the desk.
*    Student who comes in almost every day for two of the books on reserve for English 110 comes and asks for them.
*    Student checks out book on Eli Whitney.
*    Might mention that through all this the signup sheet for study rooms 1 through 7 is leading a lively life of its own. Only the big conference rooms, A and B, require our involvement, they have to be booked in the shared Outlook calendar. Also the newspapers on the west end of the counter are coming and going quite lively.
*    A lull. Quickie conversation with colleague who also followed the iPad announcement yesterday morning. I tell him the rapture has worn off and I'm back to thinking I'll get a Nook this spring and a netbook later on when one of my other two machines dies. He says he's not doing anything until Apple cuts the umbilical to AT&T.
*    Do we have a paper phone book for Everett, WA? No. Shall I call the public library and see if they do? No thanks, I can do that.
*    Here are some sunglasses that were found "in the girls' room." I add them to the collection of found glasses on the east end of the counter. Last week it was a collection of found water containers.
*    A lull. I am reading/winnowing email from the CJC-L (College and Junior College Libraries section of ALA) and CLAMS (College Librarians and Media Specialists of Washington State) email lists.
*    Conversation with the library intern about some magazine boxes that seemed to be available. Yes the brown ones are available, I can take them to the library at Elwha (my volunteer gig).
*    A confusion about available study rooms.
*    My boss has already made a new stand-up sign to place by the catalog station.
*    Instantly somebody sits down next to the sign, although nobody else sits there to look things up for the rest of my shift.
*    Class ends in the big library classroom, a bunch of people stream out, and another bunch of people stream in for the next class. (Once the new classroom building is finished, there won't be such a crunch for spaces for classes to meet, but at present there two flocks of kids here on Tuesdays and Thursday who don't relate to the library at all, might previously never have set foot in the library, this is just where one of their classes is this quarter.)
*    Student needs a... well she doesn't know what it's called. She needs things about tanning beds and skin cancer that are written by doctors. Hmmm. A journal perhaps? Yes! That's the word. I show her how to search in EBSCO for peer-reviewed journal articles, then have her log into one of the computers and do it herself so she can choose articles and print them.
*    A student I have a nodding acquaintance with because she works in the Goodwill where I shop strides by in an impossibly pink diaphanous shalwar kameez, and black and white wool mittens. We nod. She strides back out again almost immediately, now also wearing a head set and singing loudly to the music only she can hear. Letting her walk out much simpler than shushing her.
*    A student checks out Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. Score one for the physical collection, yaay!! We have a little conversation about Zinn's death.
*    Can I check out a headset? Oh, please can I have the old kind instead of the new kind? (Or perhaps the other way around. I forgot to write them in these notes, but the headsets come and go all day— check out, check in, rubberband up the wires, check out again— and all the users have preferences for either the old batch or the new ones. Occasionally someone asks for the set with attached microphone.)
*    I have a little conversation with colleague about how we actually had the Howard Zinn book on the shelf. He had not heard that Zinn died, is distressed.
*    Student complains that someone's music is turned up so loud that it's disturbing her even though he has a headset on. It's true, I can hear it distantly muttering all the way over here. I go back among the computers, find the noisy station and shush the occupant, also shush another student whose music I can hear once I'm halfway across the floor.
*    I check my record at the public library to see if any more holds came in (it's a compulsion, I do it many times a day), and check their New Books list. Email a friend with a truly comic title from the new books. (What? Oh. Love from both sides : a true story of soul survival and sacred sexuality.)
*    A late student gallops in the door, across the floor, and into the classroom.
*    I help someone boot the previous scheduled person out of study room 6.
*    A tutor wants to book Study Room B. My coworker has a terrible time getting me to understand how to put it on the shared calendar in Outlook. Eventually succeeds.
*    The giant search log has turned up in my mailbox. I will start playing with it next week.
*    Behind the desk we are discussing children's author Mo Willems. Someone reports meeting him at a conference; he was not a nice man.
*    Frequent library user, community member not student, comes in to read the newspaper. Seems to be chewing on something. Coworker hopes he has has not been eating food out of the trash cans.
*    I go on break. My coworker, who takes very literally the direction that all business she does should be done under her own login, logs me out of everything even though she's using the other PC at the desk.
*    Back from break, log back in to everything.
*    Having trouble with the printing system.
*    A WorkFirst Work Study student has me sign her time sheet.
*    Custodian is in a swivet because the new giant recycling bin on wheels is so full of discarded magazines he can barely move it.
*    There's a question on CJC-L about the use of EBrary and Netlibrary books. I'm so interested in the topic I keep checking my email in case anyone has answered already.
*    Discussion behind the desk of two skulls which are in large red zippered containers. Skulls? Yes skulls. They belong to the dental hygiene program conducted by Pierce College. Pierce thinks they have all their skulls back, but here are these two that are plainly still here. Someone will call Pierce College. (I'm not making this up.)
*    Colleague says he is giving a class in research methods to some education students this afternoon right at the end of my shift, do I want to observe. Oh yes. (This is mostly what the library classroom is used for.)(It's got all these computers and a projection setup and so on.)
*    Help with printing.
*    A community user who used to be a student wants to know if he is still in the system. Not, but I can put him back in. I have a hard time getting his email address in there, and have made other mistakes in creating his record. I'm not exactly the sharpest newbie ever to join this staff, which has been together for years. I had trouble finding where to enter things in the same field last week. OK, maybe the system isn't altogether user friendly. There's about three places to edit address, and they all do different things.
*    Student comes in with overdue ILL book. Can she renew it. I bring her to the ILL person's office.
*    Leave desk. My work week at the college over. (Will be at the tribal library tomorrow.) Attend colleague's 'Education Search' class; a good proportion of these folks are paying attention, unlike the search class for English 101 that I observed earlier in the week.
*    Fail my daily mental acuity test: I remember where in its aisle the car is parked, but not which aisle. It's not in the first three places I look...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Can't Get There From Here

The ferry to Victoria, the Coho, went into its annual drydock today. Returns to service on February 10. Though I had no plan to go to Victoria in the next month or so, I'm ridiculously nervous about the situation. I can see the Other Country over there out my window, lights gleaming from the other side of the Strait. But you can't really get there. No ferry from here, and the ferry from Anacortes doesn't go to Vancouver Island in the winter; the Sidney run starts up again at the end of March.

AND a landslide has closed the road to Hurricane Ridge, nearly totally removed it. Two month, two million dollar repair. AND oh-by-the-way, they keep announcing brief closures of the Hood Canal Bridge, for tests on the opening mechanism.

... (Click for larger image.)

We're just here, you know, on the Northwest Corner of the continent. Not going anywhere.

High Surf Warning

Boy I'd sure be out there tomorrow if I didn't have a JOB. Even when I was on contract at the tribal library I allowed myself to go when I had to go, i.e. stunningly excellent weather, or high surf. But alas.

This is from (Click for larger image.)

When I was sitting up on Rialto Jetty Saturday, at the turnaround point of my #2 beach walk, I considered what one could do just there in the event of a tsunami. The ocean withdraws to fill the oncoming wave, and... what? Everywhere else, go uphill, go uphill immediately. But there is no straight-up-the-cliff from there. Really not a good idea to stay put and be washed over the jetty and into the river with all the logs. Best to arrange to be somewhere else.

Also while sitting out on the jetty, I took a careful portrait of my bird pack, which was otherwise going to get no proper respect for the foreseeable future, being as month in and month out there will likely be no beached birds to study. Here it is. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary pack #70, issued to me by COASST. Note the small paint brush for brushing sand off found birds, only one of the many tools stuffed into the pack:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Data Points at the One Same Beach

On Saturday, went to do the January beached birds survey for COASST on my two assigned segments of Rialto Beach (1)(2). No birds to report. Not much to report at all, other than the usual beauty,

At Ellen Creek (Click for larger image.)

...and that some very recent storm swell has shovelled all sizes of wood except the giant logs, and all sizes of beach stones except big buried rocks, up and even over the top of the berm in many places, filling the woods behind the beach with cobble and shingle and the newly accumulated driftwood which has come back since the giant-wave storm in November.

Since I am supposed only to work the beach and not what lies behind it, and usually proceed without penetrating far into the drift except by eye whilst leaning over logs, this caused me serious bafflement. Is it beach or not beach, this new cobble wilderness under the trees? Had there been any dead birds before the storm to record on the data sheets, they'd now be washed back and under all that thrown rock.

Some of the freshest drift apparently came after the waves swept things into the woods. A cedar so newly washed away that the root wad still had soil embedded in it, and the broken roots and branch stubs smelled of fresh wood. And improbably neon red alders.

Red alder. I'm not making this up. (Click for larger image.)

On the Ellen Creek beach segment, no live birds either, not a one. Later, along Rialto Jetty, one eagle, a few gulls, some ravens heard but not seen on the other side of the jetty. Oh, and many happy people.

Every Tourist Dressed Warmly Enough Immediately Loves It Here (Click for larger image.)

Along the roads, many fishermen; vehicles with trailers at every access they could use to get into the Sol Duc River. I asked at the public access near Three Rivers, what they were fishing for. "Steelhead, when they're biting," a young man answered. "This is the world Mecca for steelhead." He hadn't caught anything, but they had a nice boat ride, he said. Hmmm, I thought, steelhead. You don't suppose they are jumping yet, a further 45 miles upstream, do you? It was early, so on the way home I detoured up the Soc Duc Road to Salmon Cascade. And by golly saw one jumping fish, just one. Are they going to keep it up from now until April?

The forest at the cascade (Click for larger image.)

Friday, January 22, 2010


Once again have only posted about place, and bypassed the question of my online presence though I think about it nearly all the time: how to make room for posting about my working life somewhere besides Twitter (here? homepage?), putting the Broadside to bed (yes we think we are done, decided when I was in Santa Fe), the question of my next tech purchase (ebook device? netbook?), choosing a domain name...

Looking for Ducks

I keep going down to the harbor "looking for ducks". What I'm actually looking for are my current favorites, the goldeneyes. No photos I can find on the web do them justice. There were some Barrow's Goldeneyes near the city pier when I went down to the OCNMS office last week. They are so beautiful. Better get my fill, soon they (and all the other ducks around the harbor) will be heading off to wherever they go in the summers, to nest.

Monday went out on Ediz Hook "to look for ducks" but though there were a few, watched ships instead. Bear Paw had dropped her crab pots right along the outside of the Hook and was checking them right in plain view of the shipwatchers. The two-man crew would come alongside a buoy, pull it up, bring the crab pot on board, throw back this and that, tie on a fresh pot, drop it in.

Bear Paw. Vancouver Island in the background. (Click for larger image.)

Italia Laguna, looking as if she had carefully composed her array of green and brown containers for visuals, hauled herself out of Puget Sound and headed for the ocean. The ferry departed for Victoria, one of the last runs before her 3-week winter drydock.

Italia Laguna with pilot boat (Click for larger image.)
M/V Coho (Click for larger image.)

Map, this time showing just a scrap of Ediz Hook: parked cars, pilot station, the small boat docks. If you zoom in you can see that the tide is very low, lower than I've ever seen it out there; and the 'cars' are actually all vehicles with empty boat trailers. There must have been a fishing opening on, and likely it was a weekend day when the satellite flew over. You can see two small boats at the public docks, and one of the pilot boats... Zoom out and eventually you can see Port Angeles itself.


The worst is over. Sunrise before 8AM. Sunset thisclose to 5 PM.

Friday 22 January 2010 Pacific Standard Time

Begin civil twilight 7:19 a.m.
Sunrise 7:53 a.m.
Sun transit 12:25 p.m.
Sunset 4:58 p.m.
End civil twilight 5:33 p.m.
Sunrise Season (Click for larger image.)

Regarding Wood

The Kalebergs say the driftwood is coming back to Second Beach, just as it is to Rialto Beach. (They have pictures.) There is so-o-o much I don't understand about waves, tides, storms, beaches...

Our Bit of Outer Coast (thank you Google Maps) (Click for larger image.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Always the Same Place

C. says she never tires of pics from the one same beach. OK. I sure don't ever tire of being there.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Watching the Tide Come in On a Sunny Day

There was WAY too much water for parading up and down the beach. The low had been the higher low, and the tide was already halfway back up, washing the edge of the drift. Arriving an hour earlier wouldn't have made a difference. So without guilt I changed plans and did 'sitting on logs in the sunshine watching the tide come in' instead. Which was of course what I wanted anyway. Ditched the bird pack and went back out with snacks and a book to read. A woman in an aqua windbreaker was doing sun salutations up behind a big log. There was one eagle. Gulls and crows and little flitty birds were all elsewhere. The big big log had moved since last month, and there's a lot more medium wood than there had been. At highest tide, some quite impressive breakers. I'd been sitting there reading about bubblenet feeding of humpback whales, got absorbed in the book and nearly neglected to move to a position further up the foreshore until an arriving wave reminded me.

The tides are not going to be different enough tomorrow or Monday. (Why only an hour's change in two days? Need to understand tides better.) Much as I love being a citizen scientist and producing data points for COASST's records, I think I'll just wait a week for the tides to be right, and do my beached-bird survey next Saturday regardless of weather.

The camera's full of pictures and little videos. But it's always the same place...

Trying to Go Out

7:03 AM. Gotta keep moving. My outdoor life is ruled by big inexorable forces; tide, weather and daylight predictions come together to mean I gotta do my beach surveys for COASST way early today; today's the only day possibly dry-ish for the forseeable future, but an 8.4 foot high tide at 12:38, and sunset being at 4:50 PM means I can't wait until after the high to start...

I dunno. Don't much feel like stirring out this minute, it's still DARK. Moreover, can't really get there early enough to do both little survey walks before the tide is chasing me up into the drift. I could just do it absolutely in the rain on Monday: lower high tide and later in the afternoon.

Now. Gotta move now, and here I am tied to my desk chair.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Warm Storm

WebCam on Hurricane Ridge (Click for larger image.)

The rivers are touching flood stage, and precipitation is way above average up on the Ridge, but snow is not accumulating (see Waterhole Snotel graph below). This is one of the consequences they have told us to expect as the climate changes, though certainly warm winter storms and big melts have happened in the past. If we see it year after year— more floods as all the precip runs away to sea as it falls, and low streamflow through the summers for lack of snow to melt— then we'll know...

Elwha Gauge, Waterhole Snotel, Basin Precipitation (Click for larger image.)

Someplace Else

I lived in New Mexico for 23 years, and this weekend staged a four-day runaway to visit a lot of people I love who are very far away from where I live now. One of them is my hiking buddy P., and we went off for part of an afternoon to As Exotic As It Gets, the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (map). It was icy in the slot canyon, and we turned around when we were satisfied, which in effect could have been immediately— Ah, here it is— though in fact we went further.

Tent Rocks (Click for larger image.)

Plus, there was a party, long leisurely talking mornings, familiar restaurants, Railrunner (2) sightings, and a couple of long travel days. Thanks, everybody.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Long Slow Party

Pursuant to my geographically and calendrically spread-out revel in connecting with the people I left behind when I moved to the Northwest Corner (November at Crestone Mountain Zen Center, next month San Francisco), I'm in Santa Fe for a long weekend. Breakfast lunch and dinner dates, and this afternoon an 'at home' at M&R's house where I might see a dozen people at once; I went to Party City and, the selection of party lights being unappealing, got a packet of Mardi Gras beads to festivize the occasion...

"How does it feel to be back in Santa Fe?" asked a chance-met acquaintance I bumped into while doing retail therapy on Cordova Road. Answer: very familiar, and it has nothing to do with me anymore. I'm here for the people, and entirely disconnected from the place.

Internet access is iffy at M&R's house. There may not be pictures.

As to the notion in the title of this post, that's PW's voice in my head. The practice period he was shuso at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center he said in a lecture, "Sesshin is a long slow party."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Mount Baker View

Before sunrise, January 7. No fog today! Mount Baker, ninety or so miles away, peeking over roofs and under wires.

Mt. Baker, 10,781 ft. (Click for larger image.)
Horizon north of the vacant lot. (Click for larger image.)
The straight line, here to there (Click for larger image.)

OMG, look. Now Google gives us the sea floor!

View Larger Map

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Sea Voyage to Another Country

(Continuing to catch up.) Then I went over to Victoria for a couple of days, to visit with W. & P. The ferry still had its holiday decorations, lights on the superstructure, ribbons wrapping the vent pipes.

Cloudy early morning on the ferry, not yet full daylight (Click for larger image.)

It rained and rained. On New Years Day we drove out the West Coast Road, and it rained and rained. The creeks flowing down off Jordan Ridge and San Juan Ridge were all running hard (and fluffed up with cafe au lait water), a sight to see while peering out the passenger seat window at the roadside as we went. No views. Picnic lunch in the car at Jordan River. Even the surfers were off the water, sheltering from the rain. The otters didn't seem to be minding, though.

We didn't look for ducks at Esquimalt. We didn't go down to the shore at French Beach, as we usually do on lazy days. We didn't eat pastries at Point No Point. It rained. We drove. Map from Atlas of Canada (live, just keep clicking along to the NW, change scale, play around; or there are a couple of captured images below.)(I'm not Canadian. Not sure I should make free with the Atlas of Canada the way I feel permission with US gov't sites. But the images are below anyway.)

We looked at maps a lot, in the car and later at home. Next trip has to be when there are longer days and better weather, so we can try the Pacific Marine Circle Route. The fact that it's now paved actually represents something bad about future development in the wake of the Provincial government having somehow given away the rights to the lands to Western Forest Products, so we understand. But the road on the maps is wildly seductive.

Thanks to P.'s sister, a fellow librarian, for the link leading to the Atlas of Canada...

Atlas of Canada image, French Beach to River Jordan (Click for larger image.)
Loss Creek to Kuitche Creek, where the creek flow was spectacular (Click for larger image.)

CatchUp 1

Last week ambled out to Salt Creek to see whether there still seemed to be kelp beds off the shore, as there had been in summer, and on into September. This is pursuant to the question of the brown algae, and because I hadn't seen heaps of beached algae out at Rialto. Definite heaps up against the rocks at Tongue Point in Salt Creek County Park:

Bull kelp (Nereocystis) (Click for larger image.)

and also some apparently still holding on where they grow. Am having trouble visualizing the cycle. They are still there but are they alive? Still photosynthesizing in their chlorophyll C fashion, or nevermore? When the new ones begin to grow in the spring from the spore patches which the current generation dropped, will all the old ones already be gone?

This all will take much more investigation. The Race Rocks page about Nereocystis is terrific, and you can easily see Race Rocks across the Strait from Salt Creek, weather permitting. So can assume they are talking about our very same lifeforms.

There were lots of harlequin ducks, and an eagle.