Monday, September 1, 2014

Planes, Trains and Bears, Oh My!

TRANSPORTATION:  Every so often at the foot of our hill, you get to see something pretty darn unique - planes on trains! No doubt they're coming from the Everett manufacturing facility. 

I wish I knew more about just what fuselages these are. Obviously, the're not super big, but they're definitely Boeing. I suggested Christian post the photo to Seattle Reddit. I bet he gets an answer post haste about what we're seeing here. 

IT COUNTS:  Christian taught the kids how to play cribbage today. I haven't played in years, but found myself saying "fifteen two ..." and so on automatically. 
What a great game to teach kids arithmetic and strategy. 

WALK IN THEATER: So, because it's September and summer is practically OVER, we finally decided to test drive our outdoor movie setup tonight. For a couple years we've had a cheap hook-it-up-to-your-laptop projector thanks to a Groupon or Woot deal or something like that, and for Christmas, I bought Christian an outdoor movie screen. Tonight we finally set it all up and watched "Bad News Bears."

Happily, the technology served us well. We were all up on the roofdeck.  The kids watched cozily, from their cots, and Christian and I sat on the swing we scored for free on the roadside.  If only we hadn't been out of popcorn, it would have been perfect!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Ship Shape

MUY MAGNIFICO!  We had the great fortune this morning of touring the jaw-dropping, tall-masted Mexican navy ship, Cuauhtémoc. 
A teaching vessel, on which navy cadets are trained, it's in Seattle at Pier 66 for a four-day visit. We spied it yesterday by chance, and headed down to the waterfront this morning, determined to get a closer look.

As we approached the ship, this creature (below) greeted us. I'd love to know if it has a name and what its story is.
We were some of the first people to arrive for a tour, and the crew had to get the gangplank ready for us to board.  While we waited, Annabelle asked one of the sailors about the name of the vessel, how to pronounce it, and what it means.  The young man informed us that the Cuauhtémoc was named after Mexico's last emperor. 
CJ asked one of the sailors how long the boat has been in service.  The young man thought about it for a moment and replied "Fifteen days. Yes, days!" We smiled and nodded, suspecting that 'days' wasn't quite the right word.  A plaque on board let us know that it was, indeed, a bit older. It shows a construction year of 1982. It was built in Spain, and has been sailing for over 30 years.
Once on board, we were allowed to roam the top deck at will, well, except for a few signs like this ...
We wondered how high the masts were, and wished we could climb 'em.
The woodwork on the ship is gorgeous, and the benches are built high, so you can see over the ship's railing while seated.

We found two wheels. The kids just had to try them both!

There were lots of pretty brass parts on board, and navigation equipment, of course.
 There was gorgeous wood everywhere, including on the lifeboats ... 
and on the stairs ...
 There were dozens of flags hanging from the boat.  
On board, we found this poster, and figured maybe it was a tutorial on how to hang the flags.
We were so happy to have the opportunity to tour such a unique vessel.  I reminded the kids as we were walking away, they are lucky to live in Seattle where rare opportunities seem to pop up on a not-so-rare basis! 
As we strolled back to our parking spot, about a mile away, we paused along the waterfront to admire the Edgewater hotel, where  The Beatles stayed during their 1964 visit. It's Seattle's only hotel built out over the water.
In the distance in the shot below, you can see a couple of cruise ships parked at the bottom of our hilly neighborhood, Magnolia.
Once back at home, we learned Cuāuhtemōc was the Aztec ruler (tlatoani) of Tenochtitlan from 1520 to 1521. According to Wikipedia, the name  means "One That Has Descended Like an Eagle." 
IT'S A PHASE:  "Who wants to eat Oreos, er, I mean learn about the moon!?" I asked this afternoon. 
Not surprisingly, CJ and Annabelle answered in the affirmative.
We used a NASA Space Place tutorial that explained that the moon looks a little different to us each night during its one-month orbit of our planet. 
We were also reminded that the Moon has no light of its own  Rather, the light we see is sunlight bouncing off the Moon's surface. That sunlight lights up whatever side of the Moon is facing it. If you were on the sun, you'd always see a full moon! And, if you were up in space, right over the North Pole, you'd always see a half light/half dark moon. Here on Earth, we see the Moon from the center of its orbit, so we see different portions of the lit side of the Moon.

PDF above available on NASA's Space Place site:

We used it to model Oreos to look like moon phases.

"Who knew learning about the moon could be so delish?" Annabelle marveled when we were done.
GRILLIN':  I was just a couple of minutes away from firing up our barbecue this evening when I read a Facebook post from NASA Solar System Exploration.  It read, "Did you know that the propane known to be present on Saturn's moon Titan is sufficient enough to fuel 150 billion BBQs?"
Why, no, in fact, I did *not* know that. They even had a cute little graphic.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Catching Up

PROMENADE: Here's a 'leftover' from our whirlwind trip down to Clark County on Tuesday. The kids are on the north shore of the Columbia River, which forms the boundary between Oregon and Washington at this spot.

CRAFTY: Inspired by the book "The Secret of the Fortune Wookie," this morning the kids made little folded paper fortune tellers. Fun!

MISERABLE MATINEE:  Yesterday, we attended a Mariners' matinee with Rick and Grandma and Grandpa. Too bad horrible pitching by the Ms' starter made it a long afternoon. 
Erasmo Ramirez basically threw batting practice for the Texas Rangers. They had a 9-run lead after just four innings.

The Mariners' bats couldn't overcome that kind of a deficit, darn it.
The 'highlight' of the game was Ramirez finally getting pulled in the fourth inning.
We did take the time to go out and visit the new Lou Piniella display in the Mariners Hall of Fame.
Is it just me, or does this 3D plaque look more like Joe Torre than Lou Piniella?
HANG ON TIME: We came across a cool video today, showing us Seattle like we've never seen it before ... from Blue Angels' cockpits! Check it out!

RAINING BUCKETS:   I still don't see why me filming three of my four kids having ice water dumped over their heads can't count as *my* #ALSIceBucketChallenge (ha ha), but I'm a good sport, so since I was nominated - twice - I went ahead and took on water myself today. We did it with a twist, putting my cell phone in a Ziploc bag on top of my head, and Annabelle poured the water right on it. It was so cold, it took my breath away. It felt like it just kept coming and coming, but the video shows it was mere seconds.
As of Wednesday, August 27, he ALS Association had received $94.3 million in donations, compared to $2.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 27). These donations have come from existing donors and 2.1 million new donors. 

From the ALSA Web site, we learned that Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) "is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord.  When these cells die, voluntary muscle control and movement dies with them.  Patients in the later stages of the disease are totally paralyzed, yet in most cases, their minds remain sharp and alert.  Every day, an average of 15 people are newly diagnosed with ALS — more than 5,600 people per year. As many as 30,000 Americans may currently be affected by ALS. Annually, ALS is responsible for two deaths per 100,000 people."

It will be interesting to watch this story continue to unfold.  Let's hope this Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon is a game changer for ALS victims, present and future.

STUNNING SHIP: We were headed home from dropping G&G off at the train station this morning, and drove along the Elliott Bay waterfront. Our eyes about popped out of our head when we saw a ship docked at Pier 66.

We couldn't make out the name on the hull, but we sure could see HUNDREDS of sailors standing at attention, an enormous Mexican flag flying in the wind, and mariachi music blaring. It was seriously AMAZING.

Later, I found a story in the Seattle PI about the Mexican navy tall ship, Cuauhtémoc.  The ship is on an instruction tour called "America 2014." A teaching vessel, cadets aboard Cuauhtémoc are trained in international waters before graduating as officials. 

The beauty was built in Spain in 1982 and it has sailed around the world for more than 30 years.  The Seattle PI has a photo gallery of Cuauhtémoc! You can see it here:

We hope to head down there tomorrow to take our own photos and take a MUCH closer look. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Checking In

Apologies for the radio silence yesterday and the brevity of today.  As summer winds down, we've been on the road. We were just north of Portland this a.m., but back in home in time to see the Mariners lose in epic fashion. 

The best part of today was the kids answering an #ALSIceBucketChallenge! I'd received a challenge from a friend, as had eldest son Rick, so I offered up the two young uns and Rick as our physical contribution.
l Planning ahead and knowing we wanted to do the ALS challenge at the stadium after the game, we bought a 'bottomless' soda. I brought a Ziploc bag with, and in the 9th inning, I went to a concession stand and requested a 'soda' refill of ice only. I poured it into the Ziploc and requested refill of ice only and another and another. They couldn't refuse, what with the 'bottomless' offer. And that ice wound up on the willing victims' heads.

Lou Gehrig only lived to age 38 :/
Here he is sliding into home plate.

Gehrig was the first 
MLB player to have his uniform number retired, and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer Stretch

SUMMER FUN: Busy weekend 'round MPA. We spent Saturday working long and hard with a neighbor on the ongoing "alley beautification project."  Sunday, we were ready for some fun, so we headed to the Engineer It "weekend" (the quotes become important later) at the Pacific Science Center.

So, we got to the center around 11:30, and walked around a bit, but we couldn't seem to find the engineering event in the usual spots we'd expect to find a special event like that.  Christian and I wondered, "What gives?"  

In the meantime, the kids were having a blast looking at displays we haven't paid much attention to on previous trips. For instance, in the Wellbody Academy exhibit, they got a real boot out of seeing gnarly virtual wounds on their arms.  

CJ was also brave enough to risk getting 'sneezed' on, in a big way. 

They also enjoyed playing educational 'drive in.'  Christian didn't hold back, super sizing most everything, to CJ's delight. The order wound up being an entire day's worth of calories, and then some. 
Eventually, as we ran out of places to find the engineering 'weekend.' Turns out the 'weekend' was Friday and Saturday only. :/  Next time I'll pay a LOT more attention to the fine print!

It certainly wasn't a wasted trip. The kids had a great time learning, and CJ got to participate in a Seattle rite of passage - riding the bike over the ponds in the courtyard of the Pacific Science Center!
He was Super Duper reluctant at first, but to his credit, CJ soldiered on and made the circuit! And he enjoyed it so much, he did it again. :) This photo doesn't do a good job at all of showing how high up it is when you're out there on that tiny rain on the bike!

MONDAY FUN: We started our morning by watching a few more lectures for our class, "The Camera Never Lies."  Afterward, we were ready to take our first quiz of the class - a midterm, really, because we're halfway through the 6-week class. Fortunately, we all passed the exam with flying colors. 

That out of the way, we set out for what wound up to be a two-hour workout. We parked near the Fremont Bridge along the west side of Lake Union and then walked and walked and walked down around to the south end of the lake, by the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI). There, awaited a fun water feature, which the kids frolicked in for a good 45 minutes plus. 

After the fountains, we headed over to the beach/swimming area of South Lake Union Park. Along the way, we stopped and talked to teens who were jumping off the bridge clearly marked no jumping, swimming or diving. 
They were really sweet to CJ and Annabelle, and not rotten teenagers at all. ;)
The kids enjoyed lounging in the shallow water at the beach, watching sea planes come and go. 

They were splashing around when all of the sudden, a pirate ship appeared!! I honestly think they were a little freaked out for at least three or four seconds. :)
Turns out it wasn't pirates, it was the Hawaiian Chieftain, out of Grays Harbor. 

Per the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority's Web site, the ship was built of steel in Hawaii in 1988, originally designed for cargo trade among the Hawaiian Islands.  Designed by naval architect Raymond H. Richards, it was influenced by the early colonial passenger and coastal packets that traded among Atlantic coastal cities and towns.
Pretty cool when your view includes something like the Hawaiian Chieftain, an electric boat and sailboats!