If I owned a ski resort, this would be paradise

If living on the prairies taught me anything, it’s that it’s far better to shovel 2″ of snow twice rather than 4″ of snow once. So in that spirit, I attacked the driveway here at 2100, clearing the roughly 3″ that had accumulated since Snowpocalypse, Round III began at ~1700. I then went and did other things for 4 hours, only to come back to five more inches — thank you, increasingly heavy snowfall! That took an hour to clear. There’s now enough snow around that I’ve run out of places to put it; my neatly-constructed piles are avalanching themselves, and I can’t seem to keep anything in place. I have given up trying to keep the sidewalk clear — I can’t even find the sidewalk anymore. Unshoveled areas feature suicidally high cliffs of snow, and I am dreading daybreak.

Okay, what the heck happened?

I was gone for ten days. I went from this:



Science World, Vancouver, BC. 10 January, 2007.

To this:



Kahalu’u-Keauhou, HI. 18 January, 2007.

And back again. And on my return, I discover:

  • there are giant potholes in virtually every street in Victoria, including some large enough to swallow a tire on my Acura,
  • that the Chinese smacked a satellite in sun-synchronous orbit,
  • that Stephane Dion said something excruciatingly dumb,
  • that it is, in fact, still cold here,
  • that work is still, in fact, fucked up,
  • that I’m looking hard for reasons why I don’t just chuck it all, move to Kona, and become a SCUBA instructor.

And then I realize the answer to the last question is probably something along the lines of, “Because you’re not legally entitled to work in the United States, doofus.” (Spare the comments about illegal immigrants, ok?) And the answers to the others.. well, they’re not really questions, so they don’t need answers. Still, it’s hard to shake the feeling that I want to be back on the beach, where everything seemed simpler and less irritating.

This is crap.

Life sucks. Work is a mess and won’t get better any time soon; if the administrative crap hasn’t been enough, I’ve had a couple of tough cases lately, and they’ve been bugging more than they should. I’ve gained a bunch of weight, nothing is really interesting anymore, and it’s tough to find reasons to stay motivated in my chosen profession.

The weather here’s been miserable. It rained today, for the 8,152nd consecutive day, and it was rock-you-like-a-hurricane windy for what was probably the 436th consecutive day. And then there’s this:


Tonight... Rain showers or wet flurries and small hail changing to flurries near midnight. Snowfall amount 2 cm. Windy. Low zero.
Wednesday... Flurries ending late in the morning then cloudy with 40 percent chance of flurries. Amount 2 cm. High plus 4.
Wednesday night... Clearing near midnight. Becoming windy in the evening. Low minus 5.
Thursday... Sunny. High minus 1.

But wait! There’s more!


4:12 PM PST Tuesday 9 January 2007
Wind warning for
Greater Victoria continued

West to northwest winds of 60 to 90 km/h easing later this evening.

This is a warning that damaging winds are imminent or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..Listen for updated statements.

An intense cold front crossing the south coast is producing strong west to northwest winds of 60 to 90 km/h over much of the south coast early this evening. The strong winds will gradually ease this later evening as the front moves well east of the region.

In the wake of the front flurries are being reported in many coastal. Locations and snowfall warnings remain in effect for northern Vancouver Island the central coast where an additional 5 to 10 cm is expected tonight. Flurries will extend across the Fraser Valley overnight where 5 to 10 cm is expected by Wednesday morning.

I’m sorry for saying, but: FUCK. THIS. SHIT. I’ve had enough of it. If anybody needs me, I’ll be over here. Since I gotta wait for things to suck less, I might as well wait on a nice beach.

NOT. FUNNY.

I guess this is our annual taste of winter:

Greater Victoria
3:19 PM PST Saturday 25 November 2006
Snowfall warning for
Greater Victoria continued

10 cm of snow expected for the Queen Charlottes and 20 to 30 cm of snow expected for the other regions by Sunday evening.

A strengthening Arctic ridge over the British Columbia interior is pushing cold Arctic air up against the east slopes of the north and central coast mountains. Strong outflow winds have developed through the valleys and inlets as the Arctic air rushes through the gaps towards the coast. As the high continues to strengthen winds will increase and temperatures will continue to fall resulting in windchills in the minus 20 to minus 30 range. These conditions are expected to persist for several days.

The Arctic air is making its way through the valleys of the south coast and will arrive in the Lower Mainland by Sunday morning. An intensifying low over the pacific will approach Washington state Sunday morning. The moisture associated with the low will interact with the Arctic air giving significant snowfall for much of the south coast beginning tonight. 10 cm of snow is expected for the Queen Charlottes and 20 to 30 cm of snow is expected for the other regions by Sunday evening.

The snow has changed to rain in the West Vancouver Island region and as a result the warning has been ended.

Awesome. Thank god tomorrow is Sunday and therefore it will be OK for everyone to stay home. Which people actually do in this town without any actual advice from the Authoritahs — unlike back in Alberta, where the RCMP would say “travel not recommended,” and people would immediately pile into their cars solely to show that they didn’t listen to the RCMP advisories. They were, for the most part, right — except when they weren’t, and one ended up in the middle of a farmer’s field on the other side of an unbroken fence. I’m just saying, is all.

On an equally not funny note: Nooooooooooooooo!

Yugh

This is what I have to say about Vienna, in the briefest of terms (we’re only here for another 8+ hours, so I need to keep this short):

Conditions at Jun 22, 2006 - 06:20 EDT (1020 UTC)
Wind variable at 3 MPH (3 KT)
Visibility greater than 7 mile(s)
Sky conditions 	mostly cloudy
Temperature 75 F (24 C)
Dew Point 64 F (18 C)
Relative Humidity 69%
Pressure (altimeter) 29.97 in. Hg (1015 hPa)
ob LOWW 221020Z VRB03KT 9999 FEW035 BKN130 24/18 Q1015 NOSIG

It feels like I’m stuck back in the hammam in Istanbul!

Morning glory

I woke up around 5:35 EDT somewhere over Lake Huron, after two hours of fitful sleep. It had been fitful, thanks to some loud girls two rows behind me, and because in spite of the added legroom and assroom, there’s something uncomfortable about the J seats on an Air Canada-configured A321 that makes sleeping difficult. The climate control system had run away on us overnight, leading to a moment where I woke up soaked with sweat, and another where I realized I was freezing cold. But it didn’t matter: 5:35, heading east-southeast over the Great Lakes, and the sun was coming up, peeking its way above the cloud deck hanging out around 20,000. It teased us for a while, the top of the disc popping up above the clouds as we traded altitude and angle and it rose in the sky. And then, as we left FL350, it finally rose, exploding in the cabin like a fireball, bathing everyone and everything in its brilliant red light.

Morning in the air — beautiful, even on two hours of (bad) sleep.

Climbout from Calgary was… interesting. I’d never before seen a thunderstorm from 9,000 feet, never mind been in one, and the lightning strobed all around us. Sitting on the ramp at CYYC, at the departure end of 34, I looked out the window at the city, lit in the glare of God’s own flashgun, a dozen within the space of about a minute. I wondered about the turbulance on climb, whether this would be the rollercoaster ride to end all rollercoaster rides, with thermal currents and microbursts and downdrafts and all the other meteorological phenomena hated by pilots… and it actually turned out to be pretty benign, much better than the WJA flight I took last month that was bumpy as all hell going into the same airport on final. A couple of ripples, a few nice thumps, but that was it. By the time we hit the flight levels, the storm was below and behind us.

The flight itself was OK. The service was suitably fawning and the food was surprisingly good, though I think whoever makes the menus at Air Canada should seriously reconsider putting noodles on a guy’s plate in mid-air. I’m not sure there’s an elegant way to eat fat noodles in an airplane, and it doesn’t help that my brain defaults to, “duh, slurp ’em,” which works in Shinjuku, but not in this part of the world. But whatever. I somehow managed to not make a mess, and figured out how my seat worked, and how to make the massage function work properly (result: about as well as any in-chair massage system you’ve ever used, meaning, of course, “not that well”). I think that’s about all that’s worth writing home about. The A321 is, of course, a hilariously uninspiring aircraft from a company with a hilariously uninspiring name that, in the process, manages to capture most of what’s wrong with commercial aviation today. Airbus?? Be serious. This is not a bus in the air, this is a damn airplane. Show a little respect for the thing. You don’t get to see sunrises over Lake Huron at 35,000 feet in a bus.