Monday, May 30, 2011

Wikipedia Has An Article About Burlington-Edison High School

I am not much of a fan of Facebook.


This afternoon I came upon something that seemed Facebook share-worthy.

Share-worthy with Facebook Friends who also happen to be people I went to high school with in Washington.

Burlington, Washington, to be precise.

Burlington-Edison High School to be even more precise.

The Share-worthy thing was being surprised to find Wikipedia has an article about Burlington-Edison High School.

I tried to share this on Facebook, via the Facebook share status deal. But, apparently I can not concisely explain anything. Facebook kept telling me I was way above the permitted number of words. I grew tired of trying to whittle down the length.

Then I remembered I have blogs.

So, I decided since Burlington-Edison High School is in Washington, this could go on my Washington Blog where I can be as long-winded as I want with no one able to tell me to quit talking so much.

I tried to find a picture of the old high school, to no avail. Then I remembered one in an annual. I scanned it. So, there is now a picture on the internet of the long-demolished old high school many of us went to school in.

I also saw a picture of myself that I don't remember. It appears we are some sort of totem pole with me at the top. I can tell that right below me is Janice J., below Janice is Beth S., aka Honey Lulu, below Honey is Lori M., aka Carlotta Camano, below Carlotta is a little blond twerp named Jake, who also happens to be my brother.

I'm digressing badly from what I read in the Wikipedia article about B-EHS.

One interesting part of the article is a list of 6 notable B-E graduates.

I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that I was not on the list of notables.

Of the six notables, I knew of three. Edward R. Murrow, Mary Mapes and the most notable, number one on the list, Danielle Fisher, youngest daughter of Jerome and Karen Fisher, who happens to be the youngest person to climb to the summit of the tallest mountain on each of the 7 continents.

One of the six notables confused me. "Ezekiel Engle- Best football player to never get a start because of Shearer."

Shearer? Who is Shearer? Then when I read the rest of the article I learned that in recent years a guy, last name of Shearer, has been the B-E football coach. I suspect someone named Ezekiel Engle had himself a little Wikipedia editing fun. The entry may have been deleted by now.

The following paragraph also confused me...

The Tiger football team has won state championships in 1971, 1977 and 1986 led by legendary Glenn Rickert. The Tigers have found recent success in the past decade under coach Bruce Shearer. They have made the state playoffs 6 straight years from 2005 and present, including a state championship run against the Prosser Mustangs in 2007.

It has been a few years, and my memory is not what it used to be. But, I do not remember there being high school football playoffs ending with a champion. I do remember B-E ending up in the top spot in those poll type things they do for football. But, I also remember going to a B-E football game in the Kingdome in the late 80s or early 90s. That had to be some sort of championship/tournament game.

I won't rest until I get to the bottom of this B-EHS football state championships mystery.

I had not heard of the B-EHS Intelligent Design Scandal til reading the Wikipedia article.

Football is almost as big a deal in Burlington as it is in Texas. I learned something new about Burlington football in the below paragraph....

The football game between the Burlington-Edison Tigers and the Mount Vernon Bulldogs, known as the "Battle of the Bridge" is played every year either at Kirkby Field or Bulldog Stadium. The Tigers have won the past 8 meetings from 2003 to present, recently winning the 105th battle at Kirkby Field 20-6.

You do not grow up in Burlington and not know that the annual football game between Mount Vernon and Burlington is a big deal. But, I do not ever remember hearing the game called the "Battle of the Bridge."

I do remember one year, I think it was after I was out of high school. Burlington and Mount Vernon were number 1 and 2 in the football poll, with the winner the state champion, as determined, then, I think, by poll. I remember the game was played in Burlington, with extra bleachers brought in, creating a sort of bowl-like effect.

I am almost 100% certain Burlington won that "Battle of the Bridge" and thus one more state championship.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Visiting the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument 31 Years After the May 18, 1980 Eruption

In the picture you are looking at a screencap of the USDA Forest Service's website for Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

It is 31 years ago, this morning, that Mount St. Helens erupted.

There was no such thing as a website when the mountain blew up. And now Mount St. Helens has a website. From the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument website....

At 8:32 Sunday Morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens Erupted. Mount St. Helens Shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face of this tall symmetrical mountain collapsed in a massive rock debris avalanche. In a few moments this slab of rock and ice slammed into Spirit Lake, crossed a ridge 1,300 feet high, and roared 14 miles down the Toutle River.

The avalanche rapidly released pressurized gases within the volcano. A tremendous lateral explosion ripped through the avalanche and developed into a turbulent, stone-filled wind that swept over ridges and toppled trees. Nearly 150 square miles of forest was blown over or left dead and standing.

At the same time a mushroom-shaped column of ash rose thousands of feet skyward and drifted downwind, turning day into night as dark, gray ash fell over eastern Washington and beyond. Wet, cement-like slurries of rock and mud scoured all sides of the volcano. Searing flows of pumice poured from the crater. The eruption lasted 9 hours, but Mount St. Helens and the surrounding landscape were dramatically changed within moments.

A vast, gray landscape lay where once the forested slopes of Mount St. Helens grew. In 1982 the President and Congress created the 110,000-acre National Volcanic Monument for research, recreation, and education. Inside the Monument, the environment is left to respond naturally to the disturbance.

It is hard to grasp that the eruption was over 3 decades ago. I remember the morning of the eruption as if it happened yesterday.

From my location at the time of the eruption, in Mount Vernon, in the Skagit Valley, about 150 miles north, what I heard was 5 loud, concussive booms, like bombs exploding. About 15 minutes later a neighbor informed me that the volcano had exploded. The rest of that day, and several to follow, were spent watching incredible sights on TV.

Before the eruption, while the mountain was having fits fortelling the explosion, after a large area surrounding St. Helens had been ordered closed by then Washington State Governor, Dixie Lee Ray, I drove down to the St. Helens zone to see if I could get a look at the smoldering volcano. I could get about 30 miles from it. But I saw nothing. It was too cloudy.

About 10 years after Mount St. Helens exploded I drove into the blast zone for the first time. This was before a marvel of engineering highway was built that takes you all the way to the Johnson Ridge Observatory and its direct view into the crater.

My first drive into the blast zone was over a logging road. The logging road twisted and turned through a dense forest of tall firs. And then, suddenly a turn in the road and I was in the blast zone. Utter destruction. Remains of trees knocked over like toothpicks. The further I drove in the more utter the destruction. After a few miles it was nothing but scorched earth.

And then you come to the overlook of the remains of Spirit Lake. And a view looking into the gaping hole in the side of Mount St. Helens.

Almost another 10 years later I revisited the now Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The new highway built to take you to the mountain is one of the most scenic I have ever driven on. There are several visitors centers, all interesting, as you drive into the Monument.

This would have been in, I think, 1998. It was astonishing how much recovering Mother Nature had done. There was vegetation growing again on the blast zone. Animals had returned. The park service had built many facilities. And trails. It was hard to believe you were at ground zero of a force of nature many times stronger than the most poweful nuclear bomb.

If you are planning a visit to Washington and the Pacific Northwest, trust me, you do not want to miss driving the Spirit Lake Highway all the way to Johnson Ridge Observatory.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Start of Sound Transit's University Link Has Me Thinking About Tunnel Ventilation in Seattle

Yesterday Senator Patty Murray ran a bottle of champagne down a zipline to christen a pair of tunnel digging machines that will be working next to each other to dig southbound and northbound tunnels under Capitol Hill to connect the University of Washington with Capitol Hill and Westlake Center,

This will be Sound Transit's University Link of the ever growing Puget Sound light rail system.

University Link will cost around $2 billion. The tunnel part of the link is two miles long. The tunneling phase will last 14 to 18 months, with the link scheduled to be completed in 2016.

Soon the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunneling will begin. Seattle has a lot of tunneling going on.

All this tunneling had me thinking back to when the downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel was built back in the 1990s. That tunnel was built with future rail in mind. But, they got the rails wrong and that had to be re-done. The buses that run in the Seattle Transit Tunnel have to be dual buses. Meaning they run on both diesel and electricity. This makes for very expensive buses.

To enter the tunnel a bus has to stop and attach the electric power from a line over head.

I remembering wondering at the time the transit tunnel was built why a ventilation system was not doable, rather than having to have dual powered buses.

Now I'm really wondering about this, due to the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel. Vehicles entering that tunnel will not be required to be dual powered vehicles. The Viaduct replacement tunnel is deeper than the Seattle Transit Tunnel.

So, how is the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel to be ventilated? It seems like a tunnel with cars running through it is going to generate a lot more to ventilate than buses running through a tunnel.

The need for the dual buses in the Seattle Transit Tunnel, rather than ventilation, has perplexed me for almost 20 years. And now it perplexes me more than ever.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On July 1 You Will Need A Discover Pass to Discover Washington State Parks

Way back in 2004 I was in Washington and discovered that you now needed a permit to park at Rosario Beach in Deception Pass State Park. Or to park at the parking lot at the south end of the bridge. Not long after that I read that the public did not like having to buy permits to play on Washington State Public Park Lands. And so the park fee revenue raising scheme was dropped.

I remember being appalled when I learned Washington had gone to such a fee scheme. When I moved to Texas one of the things I was surprised by was the fact that to enter a Texas State Park you either pay an entry free or buy a season's pass.

I think the last year I bought a Texas park pass it cost around $60. I don't know what it costs in 2011.

Texas was charging the entry fees back when the state did not have budget woes.

Washington is now resorting back to state park entry fees, due to the state's budget crisis, with shrinking revenue generated by current taxes not bringing in enough money to maintain existing parks.

The Annual Pass in Washington is called The Discover Pass and costs $30. Any vehicle you want to drive on to public state park land will require the $30 sticker on the windshield. If you are caught without a sticker it is a $99 fine.

Day passes cost $10.

The Discover Pass gives you access to nearly 7 million acres of state recreation lands in Washington, including:

    * More than 100 developed state parks
    * More than 350 primitive recreation sites, including campgrounds and picnic areas
    * Nearly 700 water access points
    * Nearly 2,000 miles of designated water and land recreation trails
    * More than 80 natural areas
    * More than 30 wildlife areas

Visitors from out of state will need to buy a pass to enter Washington State Park Land.

Washington State's budget shortfall is projected to be in the $5 billion range. The Discover Pass is expected to being in $64 million every two years.

$64 million?

That is barely a tiny dent in a $5 billion deficit.

The Discover Pass goes into play on July 1, 2011.

I think this Discover Pass idea is wrong in so many ways. First off, the concept of state parks is to provide recreational opportunity for everyone. Charging a set fee for that access is a very regressive tax.

How many families barely getting by, will now forego going to a state park? How much revenue will be lost due to fewer customers buying stuff at businesses that operate near state parks? Like stores selling supplies, fast food joints and others.

If the amount being raised is only $64 million, why not come up with some other means of raising that relatively paltry sum? How about a special Bill Gates tax? It'd be sorta anti-regressive and probably all sorts of not legal.

But Bill Gates makes an awful lot of money with his Microsoft operations in Washington. I know Bill Gates already gets nicked for a lot of taxes, in various ways, but, $64 million, every two years, to keep Washington's State Parks open to everyone, that seems like a bargain.

Bill Gates grew up in Washington. And it still is his home, even though he could live anywhere he wanted to in the world. I'm sure Bill Gates has been to Washington State Parks many times over the years.

If I were Bill Gates, the state legislature would not have to pass some special tax Bill Gates to keep the parks open for free law. I'd just call the governor and ask what I could do to help stop this Discover Pass thing from going into play.

The state may be having a serious budget crisis, but it found enough money to make a Discover Pass website.