Friday, February 27, 2009

A Slacker's Friday

The morning was looking pretty grim. Not for the weather outside because it is an awesome spring-like day here today. You would never know we had 4" of snow yesterday morning. It was looking grim because I had finished most of my work yesterday and it was looking like a whole lot of hours stretching out in front of me till the end of the day.

Luckily Jay solved that with a un-planned road trip for me to go down to Tacoma to pick up parts. I'd been chatting (IM'ing) with Kathy about mountains this morning so my goal was to get some pictures on the way down. After deciding to live rather then attempt to photograph Mt. Rainer from I-5, I came up with a different plan.

So after I drove 45 south to pick up the parts, only to find out I that I then had to drive north for an hour to deliver them I decided to stop here: (click on the pictures to make bigger)

This Stair-Master wannabe is the old water tower that sits in Volunteer Park in downtown Seattle.

Local history: Volunteer Park was so name for the men who volunteered to fight in the Spanish American war. They gathered at this site to sign up to fight. The land that the park sits on, and the adjacent cemetery was once set aside in a bid for the state capitol. A fight that Seattle lost to the current state capital Olympia.
Here's why it's worth the climb.

Holy Names & St. Joe's

South Bellevue & Lake Washington

Mt. Rainer

Kirkland & The 520 floating bridge

Downtown Bellevue & The Cascade foothills

Downtown Seattle
I still need to work on my camera skills. I'm sure it must take better color shots then this. It's a 360* view from up there at one of the highest points in the city. I miss living downtown sometimes - like today.

My birthday is tomorrow, thank you for the birthday greetings. I'll be 46. My mother and her husband are taking us out for dinner and to a jazz club tonight. Their friend owns the club and step-papa's paying so I'm sure we'll have a great time. I'm not sure what Jay has up his sleeve but I'll let you know.
I took the video below last night while Jay was out in the goat barn. Yes, we now have a baby monitor in the barn. I didn't post it last night because I was laughing so hard while taking the shot it almost seems mean, like I'm laughing AT him - not the case. I'm laughing because he's just so dang sweet. I might lose my nerve and pull it. Jay does look at this blog every once in a while and he'd skin me alive if he knew I posted this.
Hope you all have a great weekend. I can't wait to get back out into the SUN!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Meanwhile...Out in the barn

Speaker on?

He turns into a big kid around the animals.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Day (or) Why I Hate The Department Of Planning

Yup - time for Mr. Crankypants again.

I heard on the news last week that the city is reducing staff at Ye Old Permit Office. Well, this makes sense - no money floating around means no new buildings being built and equals no need for permits. I did not however think of the downstream impact. I went downtown last week to get a simple permit to install an exhaust fan. No big deal. There are different kinds of permits. 'Over The Counter' for simple stuff, and Full Plan Review for more complex jobs. (i.e. leave your first born) One type of the OTC permits is called a 'Subject To Field Inspection' or STFI - yes, they call it a 'Stiffy', it's supposed to be the simplified permit to save us all money.

There are a myriad of rules applicable to each type of permit. The Department of Planing posts these rules on what the call 'Customer Assistance Memos' or CAM's. Now these rules are all suppose to be followed for each permit but once you've been getting permits for a while you learn which pieces of information you really need as opposed to what's in the CAM. And by 'learn' I mean you get tired of watching the counter staff tear apart your permit application packet, tossing what they don't feel they need. It's completely arbitrary how they enforce the rules and totally depends on who you get at the counter. Oh, and just to make it interesting they can, and do change the rules at their whim and do not update the CAM or notify their customers.

Woe to those who might be tempted to point out to the ridiculous-ness of it all to the counter staff, your going to have to deal with these folks again. Believe it or not these people know me, and pretend to like me. Lovely.

So I go in last week with my dinky little permit application for a job that has a total cost under a $1000. The first new twist is that they now require a schematic drawing of the work. The dude hands me a blank sheet of paper. (?) He thinks I can scratch this out on the counter. Like I have all the measurements in my head. (???) Not knowing any of the details of the job, I tuck tail and head back to the office. Jay will have to draw them up. So we get that together and I go back in today with my little drawing and application packet and I'm told that I also need the legal description of the property. Ok, I can handle that. It's on the application form, always has been, no matter that they've never required it before. The gal gives me the phone number of the city agency that has that information. So after dialing the number and wading through the 7 part telephone dialing tree. I get to the right department and I'm told the description is too long to give out over the phone. I'll need to look it up online and print it out. The funny part you ask? They are asking me for information that they already have in their own computer system!

So! Fine. I head back to my house as it's closer than the office and print out my legal descriptions and go back to the permit office. Now bear in mind the cost of the permit and the labor to get them is charged to the customer. So the city has just cost the customer double my labor on top of the permit cost that is already about 1/5 of the total project. What it really comes down to is they're positions are under scrutiny so they are going to go by the book the whole way. If it takes twice as long to get a permit, fine it's no matter to them. It's job security.

I finally leave victorious with my permit in hand and start the climb back up the 8, long, up hill blocks, in the rain, to my car. I'm with in sight of it. I've almost made it and...

a pigeon poops on me.

I'm certain it's in the employ of The City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development.

The End.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Weekend stew with just a dash of goat

In the end Bess delivered 3 kids still born. We took her back into the vet on Saturday morning as she wasn't standing. She'd developed toxemia that was making her joints sore. The Doc gave her a shot of antihistamine which seemed to do the trick. She's doing much better now. She looks impossibly skinny. It's hard to believe that's how she normally looks. Belle is doing just fine. She looks all sturdy and motherly. Bess was just too small.

After that fun Bear and I took a walk down to Kuboto Garden. We walked down through the woods rather then driving around. Walking through our/the woods give you a healthy respect for forestry management. It's just a jungle. It was hard to keep to the path. It was pretty easy to navigate just a couple of years ago. Now it's so over grown and has so many downed trees. It's not exactly a safe place to walk. A few years ago when we were down the a sudden wind storm came up and started blowing the trees hard enough to send a limb crashing down on poor Bear. At least we know now to get the hec out of there when it's windy. The walk was good exercise but that was about it. The garden does have a lot of exotic and unique plants but it's still way too early.

I got back to the house, showered and called my friend Lorrie to go meet me for lunch. We didn't have a plan but ended up at 13 Coins since it was close to where we met up. It's a old local chain of about 4 or 5 restaurants. It was one of 'the' upscale places our parents used to take us for 'grown up' meals and special occasions. Going there typically meant we kids would get wine with dinner. The one we went to is near the Seattle Times building. It's got that old hack reporter kind of feel to it. I'm sure if you go to the bar at 5:00 on any weekday you can find the newsroom crew all there drinking scotch. Some things never change. We had a nice lunch talking about our families. I'd been carrying around one of their gift cards for over a year and only remembered it as we were eating. I gave it to the waiter when we paid the bill thinking it would have had most of the 'gift' whittled away over time. We were pleasantly surprised when the waiter came back and told us it covered our lunch with 1 penny left over. I kept the card for good luck and tipped the waiter like 45%. After that we wandered around a couple of my favorite antique stores. Nothing insisted on coming home with me. It's always that way we I actually have money to spend. Which I don't. Cuz it should stay in the bank. I just have to keep telling myself that.

Got back to the house and helped Jay build a new shelter for Mr. Deeds. He's now got his own paddock now near the top of the hill with his new house smack dab in the middle of it. The house was Jay's design, scratched out on a piece of plywood as he built it. It's about 4' wide and 8' long with 5' side walls and a very steeply peaked roof. It's big enough to get inside comfortably enough to clean it. With the peaked roof it looks like a small clapboard church. I teased Jay that I was going to put a cross on the top with a sign out front reading: 'The Right Reverend Mr. Deeds'. He didn't think I was too funny. But, a couple of hours later when he asked me what color he should paint it he didn't even pick up on it when I said white. Some times it's just too easy, like taking candy from a baby. I'll have to make the cross and the sign here at work on the QT while he's out in the field. - pictures soon.

I never did hear from Bruce this weekend. I assume he got caught in up having fun. I'll bug him later for details on who he saw (at least the people I know) and how everyone is. He was here to see old theater friends, either those that are still here in Seattle or those who went to NY or LA and are back licking their wounds. Which is a common thing for actors here in Seattle, I mean it's a good home base to come back to for them when times get tough. For me they're people who it's nice to see once in a while but not people I want in my everyday life. It's simple enough: Theater people = drama.

Now it's Monday, post lunch and I'd better scratch up some busy work to do or it's going to be a long afternoon.

Be good, and play well with others.