Refueling in Kwajalein

Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands hosts two notable population centers: the American Bucholz Army Airfield, and Ebeye Island, where perhaps 12,000 Marshallese live. Despite being US military property, Continental Airlines stops here five times weekly.

Photography is supposedly prohibited (by 18 USC 795), though that didn't get in the way of taking this shot. It's a US Army refueling truck topping off our 737 with jet fuel. The vital military installation beyond that is the golf course.

Marshall Islands Funeral

A funeral procession winds along the only real road in Majuro, the biggest of the Marshall Islands. The mood was not conducive to photography, so I hung back to catch this fragipani blossom with the police-chaperoned hearse in the distance.

I was surprised to learn that citizens of the Republic of the Marshall Islands here can live and work in the United States without requiring a visa or employment authorization. Consequently, there is a population of many hundreds of them in Spokane.

Hawaiian Outrigger

This outrigger canoe sits in Kuli'ou'ou Beach Park in Oahu as a bit of stormy weather passes through. It was quite windy, and there were periods of pretty dark cloud, but it didn't rain down at the coast that afternoon.

Chuuk Barrier Reef

Chuuk, a state of the Federated States of Micronesia, has a spectacular barrier reef extending outwards from its volcanic islands. Here is a segment of it; the ocean falls off quickly to the top right.

The reef is huge, enclosing a lagoon of over 2000 sq km. It was Japan's last naval stronghold in WWII, and is a graveyard that was filled with numerous Japanese ships and airplanes when the US captured it in February 1944.

Brant Geese

This skein of Brant Geese is just passing through Seattle, on their migration from the Californian coast up through to the Arctic. They don't fly in organized V's like other geese, and they're much smaller - we mistook them for ducks. Here they're alighting near the shore of Discovery Park.

Graffiti Alternative

A bright cartoonish mural is a great alternative to employing the city to endlessly repaint a grey concrete wall. 46th St under Aurora was a wall in need of just such an improvement.

The Freemont Neighborhood Council raised $1000, and the city matched that amount. This is Todd Lown's design, though the actual painting was done by a bunch of volunteers and a separate youth make-work project.

Matson Maui

Sister to the Matson Kauai, the Maui heads out of Puget Sound for the Pacific, with the Olympic mountains behind her.

It may look like a boring container ship, but she can carry an interesting ballast. Below deck sits a ballast tank that can carry 2600 short tons of molasses. Hawaii doesn't export much molasses anymore, so the capability probably doesn't profit the shipping line.

Freemont Tugboat Co

This is not a collection of nautical kitsch - it is the headquarters of the Freemont Tugboat Co. Some subset of the four owners (Erik, Tom, Mark, and Margie) live here on Lake Union in the shadow of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

They run a fleet of small tugs, and claim that they commute from this location in a vessel called The Jeep.

Raised Sidewalk

The sidewalk of the Montlake lift bridge strikes a jaunty angle as the span is raised for marine traffic.

I was the first car to be snared by the opening, so I popped out for some photography during the wait. A few others followed the example. When the span was being lowered back into place, other motorists rushed back to their cars. "No need to rush," I called out, "as you'll be waiting for me anyway!"

Sunny Snowfall

It is rare to experience heavy snowfall in full sunlight. A small amount of overnight snow had adhered to everything above perhaps 1000ft or so, and full morning sun was just coming out as we got up to that height. The snow continuously slid off the firs, and the ambiance was spectacular. It was cold enough that the snow was still crisp and powdery.

It didn't take long until the warmth of the sun led to drippy, slushy, unpleasant precipitation, still from the trees above.

Stryker Convoy

This is a long convoy of fully crewed Stryker armored fighting vehicles, coming off Snoqualmie Pass westbound towards Seattle. It's unclear their purpose in the area.

Each of the fellows riding atop their very capable 18-ton 8x8 jeeps returned a cheerful wave. I too would be in good spirits approaching the coast, after traversing a 3000ft pass in mid-March at 60mph.

Edge of Fog

This marine cloud layer was losing the battle against the strong sun, and we found the very edge of it on this forest trail.

Sun doesn't penetrate very far through these dense clouds, and this effect requires the top of the cloud to be very close indeed. The path was completely clear in dazzling sunlight 60 seconds after this.


Snow crocus will pop up as soon as their wee bulbs feel the first warming of spring, even if there's a bit of snow still around.

Here in Seattle we've had an odd spring - initial warmth drawing out the witchhazel and early bulbs, but then weeks of coldness making the cherries and plums wait a bit more.

BierCraft Bistro

This L-shaped space was Tomato, then Stella's, now the BierCraft Bistro. The nook of the L is a barbershop, occupying the corner of the block.

My visit was consistent with experiences at other Belgian beer places. Nice ambiance, tasty beer, but expensive.

Skyviewing Sculpture

Here at Western Washington University lies a set of unremarkable public buildings erected in the 1960s. It's depressingly familiar to anyone who has visited any campus in North America built in that era.

There are some interesting sculptures around the campus, including Isamu Noguchi's
Skyviewing Sculpture (1969). It looks vastly different as you walk around it.

Cafe Calabria

Cafe Calabria is on Commercial Drive, an interesting stretch of liveliness on Vancouver's east side. The coffee was mediocre, but the ambiance was fantastic. The decor can only be described as substantial.

There are numerous competing places for coffee in the surrounding blocks, from dark male-dominated sports bars to top-quality espresso cafes. There's also a Tim Hortons.


It's not uncommon to see interesting cars in and around Seattle. This Lotus Elise is about to head over to the Eastside.

Other cars spotted during regular commuting include a Corbin Sparrow (questionably asserting motorcycle privileges in the carpool lane), a Tesla Roadster, and an Ariel Atom.

Depth of Field

A close-up diopter lens is basically a magnifying glass that screws on as a filter for a camera lens. It shortens the minimum focal distance of the lens, and magnifies the view.

The effect is a great reduction in the depth of field. Here the range of sharp focus is perhaps only 1 or 2mm, compounding the properties of a wide aperture (f/2.5) and the diopter magnification.

Ramp Metering

Metering of highway onramps serves a few purposes. It allows queue-jumping for favored classes of traffic (carpools, police). A meter also reduces the arrival rate of vehicles joining an already-congested road, to reduce the ratio of merging cars to through cars.

The final purpose is a bit less intuitive: it serves to divert traffic to other routes. A driver might choose a different route entirely rather than wait in a lengthy metering queue. This diversion reduces demand on the mainline road, allowing a greater through capacity.

No Longer In My Head

These wisdom teeth are no longer attached to my jaw. They came out today, as one was decaying and the other ... well, I guess the dentist believes in the package deal for this sort of thing.

The oral surgeon noted that she donates extracted teeth to a kid in Grade 4 who is putting together a science project. I graciously agreed to take the teeth home myself. Perhaps the tooth fairy will visit tonight?

Early Spring Cycle

A cyclist crosses NW Market St at NW 22nd Ave in Ballard.

We also enjoyed the sunny warmth of early spring, and took in a ride to Ballard. Saturdays are not nearly as crazy as market day, so there was no trouble wandering around and getting a coffee.

Canada Goose

This common and delicious creature is a Canada Goose. I recall seeing a pair in Germany, and was not mistaken, as there is an introduced population covering a number of parts of Europe. Somehow they found their way to New Zealand as well.

I-15 Traffic Jam

Sunlight glints off westbound traffic stuck in a 5-mile queue on the I-15 between Las Vegas and the California border. On a regular day, the road would look a lot more like this.

Salty Dog

This salty dog was guarding Dock 3 of Seattle's Fisherman's Terminal. He clearly saw his owner's boat and the associated patch of the pier to be his land, but that territory had a very clear boundary.

Image metadata notes distance of 12m at 270mm crop-frame (405mm equivalent on 35mm). Depth of field is only 42cm or so, seen in the quickly blurring grain of the cement dock.

Seedy Underbelly

This is the underside of the western edge of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. From this angle, it looks very well built. The structure didn't really vibrate or sway even as heavy traffic passed above.

Nonetheless, the bridge is likely to fall apart in either an earthquake (shear stress breaking hollow pillars) or in a winter storm (unmooring the pontoons). Tolling will soon begin to pay for its replacement.