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Month: December 2008

Snow updates

Snow updates

It stopped snowing most of today.  I see people outside.  But state DMV says you must have chains to drive around the city right now (4WD isn’t enough).  Apparently less than 30% of streets in eastern Portland are traversable right now and they’re trying to declare a state of emergency.
Only about half the flights leaving PDX are getting out – but all are delayed at least 2-6 hours right now.  Maybe I’ll be having my first Christmas in Portland…

It’s been snowing

It’s been snowing

In rare Oregon fashion, we have been getting snow in the city.  And in even rarer fashion, it’s been sticking – and how.  Right now there is a mandatory chain or 4WD+studded tires restriction on all roads.  My car can’t be fitted with chains, but it wouldn’t matter anyway – cars are buried in place as there has been no snowplows down my street since this started over a week ago.  In fact, as I type this, there are people cross country skiing around outside my windows in the street – and it seems to be the preferred method to get around town.

It all started simple enough mid-last week:

Snow had been coming on/off over the end of last week.  It would stick and make things slick as it froze up and turned to ice.  When you don’t use salt and have only half a dozen plow trucks, the roads really do get slick when they aren’t touched (see the previous post on yakkity-driving of Portland).  As of today, the streets around my house haven’t been plowed once since this all started a week ago.

But starting on Friday, it got going in a serious way.  It’s been snowing almost solid for 2 days now and the winds have been bitter and hard.  I ventured out during one break and now it looks like this:

That’s about a foot or better of unplowed snow.  Here’s my neighbor’s mini – yep there’s a car in there somewhere:

But this is revealing, here’s how the last *two* days of snow have piled up.  It snowed for about 36 hours very hard, then we had about an hour or so of freezing rain, a break, then about 12 more hours of snow.  When digging through a car, it looks like this.  That’s whats on everything right now (including the streets)

I-84 closes in the Columbia gorge for days
The only eastern road out of Portland is closed indefinitely – for at least a few days.  Right now, I-84 out in the gorge was closed after 50mph winds and 1-2 feet of snow fell in just about 24 hours.  Video of what it looked like even before it closed is here (Troutdale is at the exit of the gorge – not even in the actual gorge itself).  Visibility was below 10 feet and there were semi’s jackknifed and cars that simply got buried in the snow *as they were driving* as the winds moved around feet of snow at a time.  The TV crews sat at this gas station right at the entrance of the gorge and interviewed semi-shell-shocked folks as the cops and rescue folks pulled them out of the gorge – leaving cars/etc behind.  Right now, 24 hours later, the storm is still blowing 60mph winds and even the road crews aren’t going in.

Admiral Ackbar says: “We’re trapped!”
Right now the Portland airport looks like this – and it’s not too bad today:

Needless to say, very few, if any flights have gotten out the last two days.  Folks that were trapped there 2 days ago are just now getting scheduled for flight after Christmas day. I put my prospects of getting home for Christmas at slightly less than 50/50.

All the highways west to the coast range are closed as is the major east route of I84.  All trains going north to Seattle or south to Cali are canceled, Greyhound has been only sporadically getting people in/out.  Salem to the south is having an ice storm right now that should just about shut I5 down in that area.  In other words folks – we aren’t going anywhere:

But, I stocked up on groceries a few days ago and living downtown I can walk or take a few of the remaining buses around if needed.  So, I sit at home with the news on and work at home.  Thank goodness I can write code anywhere. Things are looking up though – it appears that temps will increase, snowing has mostly passed, and today doesn’t look too bad.  Maybe I’ll go out for another walk…

News from the flip side

News from the flip side

Lots going on.  More than the usual Christmas – that’s for sure.

1. I need a new roommate: my old roommate is moving out – so I need someone for January.  Anyone looking for a good place downtown?  Contact me (mattfife at!

2. Holidays: Got a bit bogged down with running the name exchange for my family.  Funny part was doing the name drawing.  Here I was thinking about writing this clever program to draw names for other folks.  We have some members in school so you want each person’s gift giver to be a mix of folks that have money and don’t have money.  Each person got two or three names depending on ability to pay, etc.  After pondering the problem I realized the fastest solution was just to write the correct number of names on paper slip, drop them (literally) into a bucket and draw.  First round produced almost perfect results.  The only conflicts and clumps were resolved by just re-drawing with only the affected names.  Took 5 minutes tops.  Sometimes you can try to out-smart yourself – and the easiest solutions are also the fastest. Thank you Jamie from Mythbusters – I took his motivation to always to do the quickest, easiest approach and not try to over-engineer something when a much simpler and faster solution is available.  As Fr. Bob would say – “Be brief, Be holy, Be done”

3.  We might get snowed on:  Oregon is funny.  It’s like they haven’t seen snow – even though the mountains have dozens of feet on them.  But everyone’s been talking ALL WEEK about the *blizzard* we might get this weekend.  If I had my bets (and I’m putting one down now) the WORST we’ll get is 2″ of snow that’ll melt off in a day or two at most.  My real guess is that it might flurry but it won’t even stick.  Oh, the mountains will get good snow, and the coast will get some bad rain storms for sure – but the “blizzards” out here don’t even beat the average snow front in the midwest.  Still, one never drives when it snows out here.  They simply can’t drive on it.  I’m parking my car in a safe spot away from traffic and intersections for the inevitable bumper cars.

GTR’s and Pre-sale passwords

GTR’s and Pre-sale passwords

Skyline GT-R madness:
My buddy Marty got his Skyline GTR reviewed by a local car group:

There are LOTS of 1600×1200 images of everything in the car – definitely take a look.

Presale ticket passwords galore:
Everyone knows the good tickets for concerts/shows/plays/etc sell out during the pre-sale.  I get updates of upcoming shows, but unless you sign up for every stupid mailing list from the bands/shows you might want to see (and live in a sea of junk email), you won’t get the pre-sale codes.  Unless you go here to Ticket Horde

The sad Black Friday…

The sad Black Friday…

I love a deal.

But after going to my usual suspect sites that tracks all things deal related – and the specific Black Friday ads and the essential Black Friday tracker page – I found this year not even worth getting up for.  There was only one thing I was interested in, the Hauppauge HD TV tuner card for $19 at Circuit City (I wanted a spare).  I showed up at the store at 11am and they were predictably sold out of this door-buster deal, but after getting a sales rep over, he got one ordered for me from a stock of 30-some in his machine for the $19 price and I walked out the door.  Outside that and a $100 color laser printer that I didn’t really need – there just wasn’t much interesting to be had.  Noteably missing: hard drive and video card deals.  Not one single decent one to be found.

It was also terribly stupid to wait in line or really even go to the brick-and-morter versions of the stores this year.  All the deals had been started at their online shops at wee hours of the morning (2am/5am/6am, etc).  Some places had even started their BF sales online earlier in the week.  I also don’t understand what deals people are expecting on BF for just normal shopping.  Unless you’re going in for the specific door-buster deals (usually there are only about 20-30 of such items with limited quantities and they sell out just seconds after the doors open) the sales on BF really aren’t that any better than the regular sale prices.  Just come some other sale weekend and you’ll likely get the exact same price for those non-doorbuster items.

News reports show that BF made a good showing (which undoubtably made retailers sigh in relief) but people were buying less quantity. Let’s see how it all pans out the rest of the shopping season.

Anybody out there get something interesting?