Wednesday, December 24, 2008


As of December 23rd, I am retired from federal service. Well, actually the paper will not be processed until Jan 02, 2009, but I have checked out from the Shipyard and turned in my badge. I am on leave thru the rest of the year. I was actually planning on checking out today, but I got nervous with the predicted snow and was concerned that if the Shipyard curtailled operations again, it could make things difficult. I was not the only one. The admin folks recommended getting out while I could and there was a lot of people leaving yesterday. At 1300 I was the eleventh person thru pass and ID and there was many behind me.

So now, I start a new phase of my life. When I left yesterday, I did not look back. This morning I woke up at 0430 and had trouble getting back to sleep. This is all going to take some time to get used to!

Merry Christmas to all!!

It Could Be Worse #4

Another 3 inches of snow fell last night. But the temp is now above freezing. I drove out to Costco and once I got away from my home, the streets were very driveable. The Costco parking lot was clear of snow and the wind was blowing from the south and it was raining. Drove most of the way home on back roads in two wheel drive. The stort dead end street that I live on does not get plowed and it is still covered in several inches of pure white snow. There is a possibility of some more snow tonight and possibly Christmas Day.

My neighbor set this up yesterday, kinda cool! It is lit up at night too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

It Could Be Worse #3

It snowed most of Sunday and on Monday morning this is the accumulated snowfall since Thursday, about 10 inches. Just short of having to find a yard stick to measure with. The forecast is for some warming and decreasing snow showers turning to rain showers. Still sounds like it may take awhile to get rid of the accumulated snow. Some snow showers predicted thru Christmas.

Now why am I home taking pictures instead of at work during my last few days at work? Sunday night the Shipyard announced that work would be curtailled for Monday except for essential services(who are these people?). The announcenent came at the right time, I was just going to make Monday's lunch. In my 31 years of working at the Shipyard, I do not remember a complete shutdown due to weather. May sound funny, but I really need to go to work this week, I have to complete my retirement checkout and finish cleaning out my cubicle. Still have a little work to finish, but that is not as important anymore. I guess Keyport has shut down too. I wonder about a friend that commutes to Everett.......?

With all the new snow yesterday, I was able to x-country ski around the neighborhood and around the roads of Illahee State Park. Actually put in about 3 miles.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It Could Be Worse #2

Yesterday afternoon the "big" storm hit. The Kitsap area was predicted to havs 4-16 inches and high winds. The snow started yesterday around 1400 and snowed all night, followed by a thin crust of freezing rain. I measured the new snow at a little over 6". The accumulated totals are 7 1/2-8. The winds did not blow here, the destructive winds were over at Enumclaw and North Bend area where it blew sustained at 50 mph with gusts to 70.

The street is well covered and the kids are using it as there sledding track. I will probably go out and try skiing again.

The snow could continue for a few more days with accumulations of 2-4". The bad thing is that it is warming tomorrow and we will see a cycle of melting during the day and freezing at night.

Friday was slick going to work, and I did a spin with the Bronco, but did not hit anything. The roads were mainly ice. Today, I went out for breakfast and church and the snow is dry enough and the temp cool enough that it was really pretty easy to get around. Not many people at church.
The Shipyard started 2 hours late on Friday, but the announcement was not made until after I left the house. Wondered why nobody was at work. My checkout hearing test was first thing in the morning and I had to wait an hour before someone showed up.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snowy weather has arrived!

I have been following other blogs. One is written by a Shipyard retiree living in his RV near Pheonix Arizona. He was commenting a couple days ago about rain keeping him inside. I understand it could be agravating living in an area of sun and warmth and having the weather be less than sunny and warm.

Well, it could be worse!

This is this afternoon at my home in East Bremerton. It finally started snowing this morning about the time I got up at 0430. When I left to go to work, there was about 1/2 to 3/4 inch. I know, not much. The Seattle area was hit a lot harder. The snow picked up mid day and by the time I got home at 1500, it was about 3-1/2 inches. Again, probably not much, but with the hills in this area, the driving was interesting. The temp is 26, and expected to get colder tonight. More snow is predicted for this weekend and not suppose to get above freezing again until Dec 24th.

Although I don't have pics, I got out my old X-country skis and carved some tracks in my yard and a 1/4 mile down the road to the mail box. I enjoy the snow, so skiing in my yard was fun!
Something the retirees might like, the Shipyard sent everyone home two hours early. How many times has that happened? That is fine if you work a normal shift, but since I start at 0530, going home at 1402 is pretty normal for me! I told the boss I was leaving 20 minute early to beat the rush.

So enjoy your warm , sunny weather if you have it! :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter Vashon Island Race-South Sound Series #1

We are fortunate in Puget Sound, we can race and use our boats throughout the year. Sure it can be cold and wet, but unlike the Northeast and Great Lake sailors, our waters don't freeze and our boats are left in the water.

This weekend was the Winter Vashon Island Race. This is the first race of the 4 race Southern Sound series and is a 30.7 nautical mile race from Tacoma Yacht Club around Vashon Island.

I took off Friday and delivered the boat to the Tacoma Yacht Club. I left Brownsville at 0730 and was at TYC at around 1130 before the rush of boats that fills the moorage. The day was cool in the morning and then warmed up by mid day. Very nice calm day that made for a easy delivery. That evening TYC sponsored their usual excellant pasta dinner/social event completed with a raffle by West Marine.

Sturday was the race with the starts beginning at 0900. The weather was pleasant and there was actually wind. This race has been run in light winds, very heavy winds and even snow.

We were out on the course early and after some descrepency on the starting signals, we started right behind one of the favorites in our class, an Express 37 named "Declaration of Independence" (DOI). More about the start later. We set the spinaker and ran into Colvos Pass trying to avoid the adverse currents. DOI slipped away and "Grace E"(another J35) passed us before the wind filled in well. The rest of the run up Colvis was a drag race with DOI and Grace E staying just ahead. One more boat passed us just before the mark at the north end of Vashon Is, so we rounded in 4th.

On the beat back, the wind stayed at 10-15 knots and was shiffty, so we played the shifts and got a lift on the right side of the course that took us parallel to the east shore of Vashon Is. We passed the 3rd place boat and closed up on Grace E. A hole developed at Pt Robinson and both DOI and Grace E slowed down and we closed up more. By the time we got to Pt Robinson, the hole had partially collapsed and we had wind thru it. The wind had shifted more SW turning the final leg into a beat. DOI and Grace E went to the shore on the right side. We opted to cross to the Pierce County shore. A couple miles from the finish Grace E came to our shore and passed behind us. We covered and tried to stay between them and the finish. The winds actually got lighter and shiftier and Grace E got slightly ahead for a while, but we finally passed them again in the last two tacks and finished ahead of them. DOI had already finished ahead of us.

Now as Paul Harvey used to say: "Here is the rest of the story".

When we finished, we did not get a finishing horn. Neither did a lot of the boats that finished around us. Seems that the descrepency in the starting horns actually caused most of the fleet to start early. Out of 70+ boats that started, only 12 were leagl starters and ultimatly finishers. The race commitee started one class and then took a three minute break to let the ferry leave before restarting the start process. Most people were starting on times based on the first class start without the delay. Normally a postponment is signaled by horns and a specific pennant. Does not appear that that happened. A protest hearing is going to happen and probably the proper thing would be to throw the race out. I feel bad because I am usually really good about keeping track of the starting sequence and I let the crew down. But this time, it wasn't just a few boats that were confused, nearly 80% were. Have to wait and see how this works out.

Otherwise, it was a great day for racing. We meshed well as a crew, made good decisions and had really good boat speed. We potentially got second in our class.

Since the wind had been good, we finished in daylight and it was still light for the first hour of the motor home. Was back to Brownsville by 1915.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Torture Chamber

I normally like to go bike riding after work(after I already ride home from work), but now the days are getting shorter and it becomes harder to find the time in the evening.

So now I have to resort to abusing my body in the "Torture Chamber"!

I have an additional small room in the basement. It is not a bedroom(has no closet), so I guess the explanation is a "bonus" room. Anyway, I fitted it out with a spin bike, Bowflex and bench and magic, we have a home gym. I really find working out indoors is really boring, so I added a TV, DVD player and large wall mounted fan to keep me cool. I put down some diamond tread rubber mat to protect the carpet.
Well, back to torturing myself!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fowl Weather Race, Gobble Gobble!

Today, I took the boat to Port Orchard for the Fowl Weather race. This is suppose to be a three race regatta and the prize is, well, a Turkey. I started this race for the club 20 years ago. Around my family the joke is not to thaw out a turkey until we know the results of this race.

I was underway this morning at 0715. It was calm with patchy fog that always seemd to clear just as I got to the patch.

We started the first race on time at 1000 with light winds. There was 12 boats that showed up. The committee set a 3.8 mile course with a downwind start. It actually was a bit long. We do not have separated classes for this race and the smaller, slower boats had trouble completing within the 2 hour time limit. The winds were light and shifty and it took a while before we started separating from the fleet. But when we did, we started incresing our lead and by the time we finished we had saved our time by a lot over the other boats. By the time we finished, the wind built to 12knots SW.

Near the end of the first race, the wind did increase enough until we felt that we needed the heavy No.1 genoa. So between races we changed to it, but before the start of the second race the wind lightened and we went back to the light No.1. Fortunatly we had not hoisted the Heavy No.1 or even unzipped the bag.

The commitee did not learn their lesson and for the second race, set a 6.8 mile course to Waterman and back. Again a downwind start. And again we had trouble getting away from slower boats in the shifty conditions. We were second around the mark, but on the beat back we immediately passed the lead boat and built a big lead before the wind died all together. We ran out of time in front of the ferry terminal. Since both races took over two hours each, there was no more time for any more races. The committe did not have a turkey or gift card so like last year, I will have to wait until they send me a card. Last year it was the middle of December. Good thing that I don't need a turkey for Thanksgiving!

Had a nice motor home and arrived at the dock at 1700. Very nice day and a great time to spend on the water! I think I got a little sunburned!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Convoluted Trip Home!

I am safe at home after a convoluted trip home from Norfolk.

For some reason, our new travel system(lowest bidder?) routed a couple of us thru DC, Chicago to Seatac. It made for a long day. Left the hotel at 0400. Had to turn in the rental car and then caught a 0612 flight to Dulles. There, some of my coworkers caught a flight straight to Seatac. Larry and I had about two hours to wait, so it was a good time to get some coffee and breakfast. Arrived a half hour early into Chicago where we met up with somemore of my coworkers who had a later flight from Norfolk straight to Chicago. All worked out well as the flight from Chicago to Seatac arrived a half hour early again. A miracle happened at Seatac, my luggage was waiting on the baggage claim when I got there. This has never happened before with United! I was more concerned that my luggage would be lost. I picked up my car and with only mild congestion on I5, arrived home at 1600.

Why did I put up with this? Several reasons. 1) More frequent flyer mileage, 2) More travel comptime, 3) Did not travel with most of my coworkers! :-)

I hope to post some pics of the large rattlesnake that we saw in North Carolina if I can get them from Larry.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Stormy Weather

A storm came in last night and by this afternoon the wind was gusting to 50 knots. The waves breaking on the beach were awesome. The rain was heavy with lots of standing water on the roads. Since I forgot to bring a raincoat, I got pretty soaked when I went outside.
Well, the election is over. Hopefully we can all get on with our lives now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Outer Banks

On Sunday, two coworkers and I drove down to the Outer Banks in North Carolina to Cape Hatteras. I have done this trip twice before. It was a great day for a road trip. The sun was out with the temp at about 65.

We did not stop at the Wright Memorial in Kitty Hawk. I have been there before and everyone else was too cheap to pay $4 to enter.

We did stop at the Bodie Island light. When we left there and got on the main road, we past something on the road. We turned around and there in the road, moving slowly across it, was a l
arge Timber Rattlesnake. It was about 4 ft long and
very thick in the middle. We could not tell if
it had been run over or just cold, but it took quite a
while to crawl into the brush.

Cape Hatteras light was spetacular as always. It is the tallest lighthouse in North America at 208 feet. Built in 1870, it's location was being eroded away by the sea. So in 1999, it was moved 2900 feet to a location farther way from the ocean.

Hatteras Lighthouse

The stairs in the Lighthouse

The path that the Lighthouse moved

Bodie Island light

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Arena Racing!

What is Arena Racing? It is auto racing with small cars on a banked track inside on an area about the size of a hockey rink.

Now the longer answer. On saturday night, I went with a coworker to the Hampton Coloseum to watch Arena Racing.

The track is 0.1 miles long and is a portable banked track that is made of aluminum. The surface is roughned and coated with some sticky black coating.

The cars are approximately 1/2 the size of a NASCAR stock car. They are 9 feet long and weigh about 750 pounds. They are built with a full cage and a fiberglass shell. The engine is a 13hp Honda generator engine mounted in the rear. The driver sits in the middle of the car and enters thru a hatch in the top. The driver wears a helmet and full head, neck and arm restraints. The cars are fitted with transponders to record lap and finishing positions. Nothing could be changed or modifyed except the suspension alignment could be adjusted. All the cars are from the same builder.

During racing, these cars go about 55 miles an hourand turn lap speeds of around 10 seconds. A typical race is 50 laps. No pitting is needed and repairs are actually performed by the officials!

The racing was wild. There were three preliminary races and a final event. There must have been qualifying during the day. Each prelim had between 10 and 12 cars. The top four were tken from race "B" and "C" and 6 from race "A" for 14 total for the final race. Starting positions for the final were drawn from a hat.

These guys really are agressive. Two and three wide was common. Just like the big cars, you could see the effect of tires wearing out and loose cars hitting the wall. There were lots of chrashes.
Kind of funny because very little damage actually
seemed to occur. One car hit the wall so hard that the body behind the rear window was almost broken off. If the car will run, the officials will use lots of duct tape to hold the body together and send them out again. When one rolls over, two officials come out and roll the car upright and they seem to restart easily. One car rolled over in turn 4 skidded a ways on it's top, rolled upright and kept going without the engine dying. Hitting the wall was a resounding "WHAP"!

Lots of fun and glad I went!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Saturday Work

Here I am working overtime on Saturday. Had to take a side trip to one of the ships that we shipchecked two years ago. It is about half way thru it's overhaul and some of us took a field trip to the shipyard where it is being overhauled. Alas, my equipment has not been installed in the machinery rooms yet. Still nice to see the removals complete and the foundations installed.

Typical overhaul, the ship is in a state of chaos. Dust, smoke and people everywhere.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Vashon Challenge Race

On Aug 15th I went down to Tacoma with the boat. The reaason was to attend a skippers meeting for the Vashon Challenge sailboat race around Vashon Island. The race was to start on Sat, Aug 16th.

To get easily to the restaurant where the meeting was to be held, I elected to stay at the Dock Street Marina in the Foss Waterway. This is a fairly new marina. It is RIGHT at the entrance to the Dale Chihuly Glass Museum. That is the strange cone in the pictures. Behind the museum is abridge that crosses the railroad tracks and takes you to the old downtown area of Tacoma. Along with lots of cafes, shops and the Tacoma UW campus is also the Washington State History museum and the old Union Pacific rail station that is now a Federal Courthouse. I am going to return to this marina on Labor Day with my yacht club and spend three days. I will take the time then to go to the museums and maybe take more pictures.

The race on saturday was a singlehanded(1 person) or doublehanded(2 person race). I was the only singlehander, but still raced in a doublehanded class. There was 19 competitors. This race is around Vashon Island for about 33 miles. The winds were light at the start and then died for a couple of hours. The fleet drifted together until the wind built with a nice beat up Colvos Pass and a great run down the east side of Vashon Island. The winds built to about 18 knots, but the commitee shortened the course at Pt Robinson knocking off about 8 miles. I finished 2nd, but 4 boats that were behind that I owed time to corrected on me. I was still happy with the results. I had come from behind after the wind died and left me near the back of the fleet. One boat that is like mine but was sailing doublehanded finished about 45 minutes behind. It was a very hot day. I finished at about 4:15 and motored straight home getting back to a hot house by 8pm.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Work can be such a hair raising experiance!

Yesterday, I took a big step toward retirement. I submitted my paperwork to the regional HRO for processing. My retirement date is not until Jan2,2009, but they like the papers at least 120 days prior. I was not planning on submitting the papers until early Sept, but my local Admin office also has to originate documents that set up a schedule and sign off sheet for physical exams, tool room, security briefing and drawing/tech manual checkouts. I ask the admin assistant in our office about how to start the process, and she initiated it immediately.

Retirement is kind of a scary thing to do. I really don't think that money will be an issue. The big item I have is what to do with myself. Sure, I have lots of activities, but I need to keep motivated and not sit around and veg. I am sure I will miss the work, but not some of my coworkers :-). I will consider a second career, again not necessarily for the money. I will look into volunteer oppurtunities, but one of the big things I really want to do is travel. In my 30 years of traveling for the government, I have seen lots of the country along the shorelines. I want to see the Rocky Mountain states, Alaska, even Washington DC! One of the really neat things I am looking forward to is to sleep in (untill 6AM), have breakfast at the kitchen island, read the newspaper, watch the local news and PLAN MY DAY!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This is my first post.