December 30, 2003

Great photo sequence

Check out this sequence of photos from a fire in our part of the world.

These pictures were apparently from one of my sister papers (one of the two dailies). A competitor had one full page devoted to the story and their six-frame sequence. Pretty amazing--not just that they captured the fall, but that they were quick-enough and prepared-enough to capture a burst of images.

Posted by JRC at 09:43 PM | Comments (1)

No more pressure-treated lumber?

I generally feel pretty-well plugged in, having ready access to the print versions of three local daily newspapers, as well as the Washington Post. I also read news online to supplement that.

So when I saw an article on Yahoo News that a 22-month process to phase out pressure-treated lumber ends this week, I was surprised.

Apparently, the chemicals used in pressure-treated lumber to prevent wood from decaying include arsenic, which is BAD.

How can such a large industry lose such a chunk of business due to government regulation without much hue-and-cry? And with all our modern technology, how can there not be a suitable alternative?

So what does one do in the meantime for construction projects that call for pressure-treated wood? Playsets, decks, fences, etc. will all be constructed with wood that rots fairly quickly.

I guess the creosote-soaked railroad ties become a hot seller now.

Posted by JRC at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

Aunt & uncle-to-be

Well, it's starting now. We're already working on being a doting aunt-uncle combination.

Darla's brother and his wife are expecting a baby on July 7. I'm hoping it's a day late, so it'll share a birthday with its future favorite uncle. And babies do come late sometimes. I disappointed my grandmother and my aunt by staying in past their birthdays (and my due date).

Congrats, Michael and Deanna!

Posted by JRC at 09:13 PM | Comments (1)

Back from the wild west

We've just returned from a quick trip to visit my wife's grandparents, aunts, and uncles in Washington state. We flew out on Dec. 23 with zero trouble at security/connections/etc.

Our ride (friends Andy and Wendy Alsup) pulled up just as we got our luggage, so they didn't even have to wait for us. We spent time in the car with them enroute to meet our family.

To get to the grandparents' house, we had to drive over a snowy mountain pass. As we crested, the snow was coming down in earnest, though not enough to make driving a problem. The next morning we awoke to six inches of fresh snow on top of the 22 inches already on the ground.

So we headed back to the pass with Darla's brother and cousin to go skiing at Stevens Pass.
You couldn't ask for a better day skiing. We had no lift lines and there were snow showers all day.

The rest of the trip was spent with family, pretty much staying at the house. The only problem was that our sister-in-law had to fly back early to get to her grandfather's funeral.

We went snowshoeing and sledding, along with doing some sightseeing. It was my first time on snowshoes.

The time with family was good. It was my first time to meet some of them, so hopefully I did OK. Got to hear lots of good stories, for sure. And I managed to snap a *few* photos.

You might see some eventually. It doesn't help that I left most of them on a CD-ROM at the grandparents' house.

Posted by JRC at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2003

Today's front-page roundup

The Newseum, a museum dedicated to journalism, has a daily roundup of front pages from newspapers around the world. They have print versions at their museum(s?) every day. They also post online.

Click here to view the front pages about Saddam Hussein's capture. There are more than 200, so it will take a while to load. (When I did it, some pages failed to load.) You can click on the thumbnails to load larger images.

Good stuff.

Posted by JRC at 09:10 PM | Comments (2)

December 14, 2003

We got him!

I doubt it's news to anyone by now that we caught Saddam...I think it will be interesting to find out more details about the capture and handling of Saddam.

A military news conference said that the hole Saddam was hiding in was covered by a styrofoam plug and a rug. Wonder how our guys found it. Did someone notice the difference by walking over it or did infrared equipment pick up on it? Or something else?

ABC News reports that the Iraqi governing council visited Saddam and that he was "unrepentant." But the U.S. says he was talkative and cordial.

I have a friend in intelligence--pretty high up, too--who has told me about interrogation processes. I imagine that in addition to standard interrogation techniques, the months of running, the stress of hiding from the U.S. forces, and Saddam's age will lead him to talk. It may actually be a relief for him to be caught; you know he's being cared for decently. (Maybe I need to turn myself in to the U.S. forces. I could use a haircut, too.)

But even if Saddam does talk, he may have built enough buffers that he doesn't actually know some of the details. There's a lot that remains to be seen.

God bless our troops, our commander-in-chief, and our country.

Posted by JRC at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2003


I was in my second floor office on Tuesday when our whole building shook for several seconds. Everyone gathered, wondering with different expressions what happened. I was pretty sure it was an earthquake, so I thought I'd check...

So I jumped on the web and went to the US Geological Survey. I'd seen they have a wealth of information on seismic activity in years past after travelling in CA.

Within 15 minutes, I found seismic readings from Blacksburg, VA and Charlottesville, VA. The both showed significant activity at the time we felt the movement. So I knew it wasn't just a local thing. (Both are over an hour from where we are in the northern Shenandoah Valley.) I could have looked at other seismographs, but I didn't feel the need.

Nothing else showed up on the USGS website except a magnitude 2-something quake a month earlier in the same general area of Tuesday's quake for several minutes. But within 30 minutes of the quake, the site was updated. It showed a 4.5 magnitude quake in the Richmond area. The page has continued to be updated as more info comes in.

That's the web at it's best.

This was the first time I ever felt a tremor, even though I have seen in the news from time to time that I experienced one...(make sense?)

Here are some cool links. If you look around much, you'll see there's much more seismic activity than Average Joe realizes.

Preliminary earthquake report. This page has been updated everytime I've been to it.
Recent earthquakes. A map which shows where in the US earthquakes have happened recently. The map will lead to the reports like above. You can also link to a world map.
Seismograph readings. This is what lead me to the seismographs that I used on Tuesday.
Did you feel it? This will lead you to a pretty thorough form that you can fill out to report feeling a tremor. I filled it out. My review of what I felt matched the intensity of what they said we felt. This page will also lead to the link below.
Event map. This map shows where the USGS has reports of people feeling the tremor. It shows a lot of detail, including intensity by county. Map's constantly updated. You'd be surprised how widespread Tuesday's quake was.

FWIW, those of you in SC could feel a quake sometime too. I remember reading about the faults in that part of the country as I grew up. I think there's a fault down near Charleston, but I can't come with the info quickly.

Did you feel Tuesday's quake? Have you ever felt one?

Posted by JRC at 09:45 PM | Comments (2)

December 07, 2003

62 years ago

December 7, 1941. A date which will live in infamy.

After noting the anniversary of 9/11, I would be remiss if I did not mention another dark day in U.S. history. While many have drawn comparisons between the attack at Pearl Harbor and the attacks on 9/11, they are two entirely different tragedies.

I don't want to underplay Pearl Harbor, but the 9/11 attacks were mostly aimed at civilians, unlike Pearl Harbor. The loss of life was similar both times.

And an interesting parallel: along with the military targets in Hawaii, the Japanese also went after targets that had to do with fire suppression. Anything such as fire stations, fire engines, water tanks was a target. (That's not to say that the hijackers planned to kill 343 firefighters in NYC.)

The scope of the Pearl Harbor attack must have been mind-boggling. Even a Boy Scout troop went into action as a firefighting crew to battle the blazes on the island.

Thank you to the service men and women who served in both the Pacific and European theaters during WWII.

Posted by JRC at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2003

Yet another double standard

The world's full of double standards. Here's one that's bothered me recently:

How can the feminist crowd stifle negative --real or perceived--stereotypes of women while a large corporation (Dominos Pizza) airs a series of ads equating men to Pavlov's dogs? I'm offended, but not surprised. It goes right along with the trend in schools to not allow boys to be boys--and thus curtailing manly traits.

And we wonder why men are failing their families?

Posted by JRC at 10:30 PM | Comments (2)

Weird weather

As of Wednesday this past week, our forecast called for a wintry mix. Thursday brought light snow, which started accumulating on grassy areas late in the day. Friday morning, we had about 6 inches of snow on the ground.

During the day, the forecast was updated to say we might get as much as 18 inches of snow. It snowed lightly all day without really accumulating much more. But the heaviest snowfall was predicted about midnight Friday.

We awoke today to about 7 inches total.

...Could it be there's a higher power out there with a sense of humor? ...


Posted by JRC at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2003

Bush to Santa

At tonight's "Pageant of Peace" at the White House, President Bush addressed Santa. Bush told the audience that Santa comes in the dead of night, arrives without anyone knowing, and leaves before anyone knows he's been there.

"Well, Santa, I can assure you that it's a lot easier in a sleigh than in Air Force One," Bush said.

Posted by JRC at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

First snow

We've got snow flakes falling outside. Few are sticking, but we've got a messy forecast for the next few days.

Makes me happy.

Posted by JRC at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2003

In the big leagues now

Yesterday I had a post (In the Washington Post today...) about my colleague's getting a photo in the Washington Post.

Now the Associated Press has picked up the story, and the photo has been distributed through them. There's no telling where it's running now. One of my coworkers even saw the photo with the story on the CBS Evening News last night.

Way to go Dawn!

Posted by JRC at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2003

Sad but true

Today's NY Post reports a sad trend in the FDNY. Traditionally, firefighters take care of the widows and children of their comrades who die in the line of duty. That continued in 9/11. But several of the helpers--the liaisons for the grief-stricken families--have abandoned their own families in favor of the widows.

Here's the main article: FDNY wives get burned. The same edition also has a couple stories that accompany the one I linked to.

It's a shame for so many reasons.

Posted by JRC at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)

In the Washington Post today...

One of my colleagues has a photo in the Washington Post today. The Post article stems from a story we broke in our paper a few weeks ago. The Post story uses the story we broke to talk about a broader issue: adultery and the laws against it.

Here's a link to the story and the photo: VA Adultery Case Roils Divorce Industry

The story appears on the bottom of page B1.

Congrats, Dawn!

[If the link doesn't work, search for "adultery." Look for the result with the headline above.]

Posted by JRC at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)