December 31st, 2008

Menlo WWL

Very Quiet

The word has come down that the office where I normally work in San Mateo closes at Noon today, and that if there is nothing else pressing, everyone can leave. And that describes my day about as well as it could, so there's no point in my sitting around here when I could be doing anything more productive, such as, say, napping.

I have no exciting New Year's Eve plans. We'll probably stay in and play India Rails or some other train-related game. We'd go out for a walk, but a nasty-sounding storm is heading this way.
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Kevin and Lisa

We're Such Geeks

As you may have heard, a leap second was added to the final minute (UTC) of 2008. That final minute was actually 15:59 in the Pacific Time Zone. A few minutes ago, Lisa dialed up WWV on the short-wave radio to see out The Longest Year (leap second in a leap year), and we counted out the 61-second minute. Happy New Year!

Addendum, 1 Jan 2009 14:20: Note that, despite what some media reports may have implied, the "leap second" is not added at 23:59 local time in each time zone, but as the second between 23:59:59 and 00:00:00 UTC. See this site for more details.
Kuma Bear

A Tale of Two Backpacks

As it's now a new year (UTC), it's time for out with the old and in with the new. Just before ConJose in 2002, Lisa bought a small day-pack specifically to carry Kuma Bear. Since then, Kuma has toured the world, sometimes riding on the outside of the pack, although usually inside for safety.

This is more than just a carrying case for a small bear. This is Lisa's primary purse and day-to-day Carrier of Stuff, and she was quite attached to it.

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Lisa says that she and Kuma Bear send best wishes to all of Kevin's readers, and that they look forward to seeing all their friends (and Kuma's admirers) at all of the new year's coming conventions.
Kevin and Lisa

Sometimes, There IS a Cop Around When You Want One

This afternoon, Lisa and I decided to walk over to the Gene's Meat Market, located on the other side of Oregon Highway 22 from most of the rest of the town. Oregonians who have driven from Salem to Detroit Lake or Bend may know this place as the junction with a roadside restaurant called The Gingerbread House. (I recommend their Elk Burgers.) Pausing at the highway to wait for a break in the traffic, we saw that a Marion County Sheriff Department deputy was parked there clocking traffic coming into the 45 MPH speed zone in which Mehama is located. This isn't a "speed trap" -- there's a solid safety reason for putting a speed zone here: Besides having a small town astride the highway, it's also the junction with Oregon Highway 226, and people have a tendency to otherwise pick up speed on this three-mile straightaway before heading up the canyon, making the place dangerous. There's a flashing yellow warning light at the junction, but no traffic light -- presumably not quite enough fatalities to justify the expense.

We saw what I considered an amazing sight. Cars were slowing down for the speed zone, except for one big black pickup truck, which tore around the slowing vehicles and passed them in the two-way turn lane. We watched in open-mouthed amazement as the driver roared through town at what I estimate was at least twenty miles over the speed limit, breaking several other traffic laws as well.

The deputy looked stunned for a moment, then shook his head and climbed into his cruiser and quickly headed off after the apparent madman, lights a-flashing. You can see a mile or so in each direction at this point, and we could see that the pickup truck was already slowing and pulling over as the sheriff chased him down. (A good thing, that; highway 22 narrows and starts to wind not too far east of here and a chase could be very dangerous.)

Frankly, I was delighted to see this. I've seen so many examples of stupid driving of this nature, with fools deciding that traffic laws don't really apply to them, that it's a real pleasure to see someone get caught. This wasn't slightly exceeding the speed limit or having a tail-light burnt out, or even forgetting to renew your vehicle registration; this was blatantly ignoring safety and the law and recklessly endangering other drivers, not to mention two pedestrians (Lisa and me) waiting to cross the road at the intersection. I hope the traffic court makes an example of this idiot.
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