Category Archives: travel

Winter Storm Warning
Spokane Area (Washington)
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPOKANE WA
1038 PM PST WED DEC 24 2008
...SNOW STORM THROUGH CHRISTMAS DAY...
.A SIGNIFICANT WINTER STORM IS BRINGING HEAVY SNOW TO MUCH OF THE
INLAND NORTHWEST TONIGHT INTO CHRISTMAS DAY. THE HEAVIEST SNOW
WILL DEVELOP DURING THE EVENING AND SPREAD ACROSS EASTERN
WASHINGTON INTO NORTHERN IDAHO BY EARLY CHRISTMAS MORNING.
IDZ002-WAZ036-251300-
/O.CON.KOTX.WS.W.0012.000000T0000Z-081225T2000Z/
COEUR D`ALENE AREA-SPOKANE AREA-
INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...COEUR D`ALENE...POST FALLS...
HAYDEN...SPOKANE...CHENEY...DAVENPORT...ROCKFORD
1038 PM PST WED DEC 24 2008
...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 12 PM PST
THURSDAY...
A WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 12 PM PST
THURSDAY.
STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 8 TO 10 INCHES ARE EXPECTED IN
THE SPOKANE AND COEUR D`ALENE AREAS BY LATE MORNING ON CHRISTMAS
DAY. LIGHT SNOW HAS INTENSIFIED THIS EVENING...WITH OVERNIGHT
ACCUMULATIONS OF 5 TO 7 INCHES EXPECTED. THE SNOW WILL DECREASE
BY DAWN... BUT SNOW SHOWERS WITH AN ADDITIONAL INCH OR TWO
ACCUMULATION WILL LINGER INTO CHRISTMAS MORNING.
TRAVEL ON CHRISTMAS MORNING WILL LIKELY BE DIFFICULT. HOLIDAY
TRAVELERS SHOULD PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE WEATHER.
A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER
CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW
ARE FORECAST THAT WILL MAKE TRAVEL DANGEROUS. ONLY TRAVEL IN AN
EMERGENCY. IF YOU MUST...KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT...FOOD...AND
WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.
THIS WARNING INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...COEUR D`ALENE...
POST FALLS...HAYDEN...SPOKANE...CHENEY...DAVENPORT...ROCKFORD.
$$

See the original warning.

Mid-trip Report

I'm asleep. I was that brave.So I was just reading through my quasi-roommate Gabe Proulx’s blog and I realized that I felt like blogging myself. I’ve been sitting here all night sort of bored yet engaged in writing a mysterious new piece of software which shall be known to you only as “Siegfried”, but code-slavery just wasn’t doing it. I’ve been inspired to make the shift back into the realm of natural languages.

I’ve been in Washington for a while. You know, that’s where I grew up. I’m back in my sweet, sweet homeland of southeastern Washington State, and I find myself still in love with the place and its people.

The Trip

A week after arriving in Washington, I went with my sister and her family to California, which was really cool. I hadn’t been to Disneyland since I was something like 8 years old, so going back was a significant return to childhood for me. I really liked it, and, as I have told a few people, I think that visits there early in my life are part of why I never cared much for any other amusement park I’ve been to: Disneyland is an amusement park the way an amusement park should be: It’s clean. There are lots of drinking fountains. Smoking is minimal. Once you’re in, you can go on any ride (no tickets required). They don’t care if you take pictures of the photo previews they show at the end of a ride. The atmosphere is happy! Every ride is detailed and exciting, and seems like an attempt to let you experience something incredible that you have little chance of experiencing in real life, like space flight, or a pirate raid, or an Indiana Jones-style escape from a runaway boulder.

Beach PanoramaOn the way home we drove through Northern California’s redwoods, which were magnificent. We stopped on a beach and just walked around for a while. The ocean is freaky and mysterious, but I also find it soothing to simply be there and hear the waves and smell the clean air.

Confronting Fear

100_5658While we were at California Adventure I surprised myself by confronting my fears of heights (Soarin’ Over California), upside-down rollercoasters (California Screamin’), and plummeting to likely death (Tower of Terror). For me this was a really big deal. I have always been such a scaredy-cat! No, seriously, a real wimp! Well, big, grown-up boy that I am, I was actually able to go on all of these rides that made me so nervous beforehand. It was like slaying an until-then undefeatable giant.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen and experienced some very scary things that I didn’t know how to deal with, but I’ve noticed that my fears are always way out of proportion to actuality. My fears about the rides at California Adventure were that way—none of them was even half as frightening an experience as I expected. It was also like that when I ended my over-long hiatus from meaningful dating early this year. Paralysis because I feared devastating heartbreak had to give way to actually trying and to actually caring in order for me to progress, but I was terrified! The seeming caprice of prior failures, the painful losses of invested emotion. It took some counsel from compassionate friends to help me to make the leap of faith. And it worked out. It wasn’t so bad. It was a good experience.

Shrapnel Removal

Maybe more terrifying still was confronting one of my past interests in order to find out why exactly she had chosen not to pursue things. I didn’t realize just how hard the ambiguity was for me until a friend discussed a similar situation. I then realized that that would continue gnawing at me until I had the guts to ask her why, to cut through the generalities which were meant to protect me but which were really like a piece of shrapnel festering under the scar-marked surface. It’s a hard thing to walk up to somebody and demand that they perform an invasive shrapnel removal operation. But that’s what I had to do.

When she acquiesced, it set me free somehow. It was wonderful! She gave me her real reasons for calling a halt to the relationship, and they conformed exactly to my earlier suspicions. It wasn’t the knowledge of the reasons that made a difference, really. It was getting her to deal straight with me. It was having enough respect for myself to ask for an explanation. To stop telling myself to just ignore that dull, occasionally stabbing, pain underneath the old wound, but to let myself get that hunk of rusted old metal removed.

“You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are”

An interesting observation resulting from staying at my sister’s house: I think I actually could do the parenting thing. I know I’ve still only had to deal with a small portion of my niece’s and my nephews’ craziness, and yet I feel confident that, especially with some of the skills I’ve begun to learn while here, I could do it. That’s a pretty encouraging thought!

A good friend of mine told me several times, “You’re stronger than you think you are, Josh,” and I think I’ve actually started to believe it. To believe that perhaps the long-raging fires of adversity have wrought something more than just pain within me. What if they really have tempered me, made me stronger?

The Other Trip

We’re also mid-way through the year (or very nearly). I’ve really been blessed this year. All of these blessings—including those resulting from this trip home—I attribute to God’s great kindness in my life.

Well, my eyes are drooping downward in sleep. Thanks for reading, and good night!

– Josh

En españa—totally soaked, newly conscious

I’m completely wet. Tonight we’re going to see the new Pirates movie, Piratas del carribe 3: en el fin del mundo, as they call it here. So to accompany that, we’re going to watch the first movie on a projector here at the school. Well, we were supposed to meet at 4pm, so I headed out into a nice thunderstorm to get there on time-ish. I had an umbrella, I had a sweatshirt, I rolled up the bottom of each pant leg, but to no avail. The front of me got soaked all the way to my hips, and my backpack was hit just as hard!

Well, it should be dry at least by the time we watch the new movie at 8:30 tonight. Meanwhile, I’ve had some interesting realizations about America and Europe. To summarize: I’m more grateful for my homeland than ever. There are certainly problems there, but in many ways it’s like a fairy tale compared to the rest of the world. I didn’t realize how much we have, materially, culturally, spiritually. Also, I’m more grateful for our friends here in Europe. While the United States made great sacrifices in the second World War and in providing an alternative to communism, we never had our country overcome by dictators or destroyed by nightly bombing raids. We never lived in the shadow of the Soviet Union or had to endure German occupation. In other words, many of our sacrifices were made from a safe distance. Theirs were made right at home. I’ve had conversations with people here in which I’ve been able to understand a little better their frustrations with our involvement in Iraq. They see the Iraq war as having been a misguided quest for petroleum. They also feel like the Iraq war has been the cause of the terror attacks in London and Madrid by radicalizing muslims into islamists. Europeans speak much of the fall of the American “empire,” which has always confused me. But they (some of them, anyway) also realize that they themselves are part of that empire. The whole of the west enjoys the protection of American strength. Spanish and Dutch people I’ve talked to feel that America has gone in search of terrorists far away in Iraq, while we already know that such people can be found amongst our own populations, in terror cells in Spain, France, Holland, whatever.

Most people acknowledge that we’re seeing a clash of civilizations. The disagreement is really in the implementation details. The question we have to face is whether it’s best to stay the course in Iraq. If so (and I think it probably is so) then we must decide how to best improve the situation there. If not, we have to find an exit strategy that is minimally harmful, though I don’t know if we can hope to influence things too much as we’re on our way out. Either way we need to keep the confidence of our allies in Europe. While in many ways western culture as embodied in western Europe is quite an embarrassment in its abandonment of almost all forms of morality and in its paranoiac fear of armed conflict. But, western culture is my culture, one way or another. Here in Spain, there are so many similarities in thought and values to those I am accustomed to that it is clear that we and they have some common roots. We, meaning the United States, need to accept that and encourage solidarity amongst all of the West.

We also want to avoid self-fulfilling prophecies. I think there is truth to the observation that much of the conflict we see right now is a result of East-West culture differences. However, let’s not let that observation guide our possibilities too much. We should do whatever we can do to encourage good relations and cultural and economic exchange with the Arab/Muslim/Eastern world. Let us fight the war on terror in the way it’s being waged against us. This does not mean that we will adopt the tactics of fear and pointless destruction that we face. Instead, it means that we need to work smart. We’ve already given in to the temptation to try to bludgeon terrorism with the blunt end of our military might. Instead, we need a specialized intelligence corps – not the FBI, not the CIA, not Special Forces, but something different. Instead of “terror cells” we need antiterror cells. Instead of letting radical propoganda win on the Internet and in public forums, we need people to communicate our message. What is that message? That there is a better way. That America doesn’t want to control your destiny. Here, it’s yours, take it. Do something good with it. Strengthen your people. Build a beautiful culture. But don’t resort to hate. Instead of a cry of jihad let us make a cry of libertad! Let’s make Western culture something worth defending. We must not only be the guardians of democracy, but let us also be good people. So to libertad let’s add bondad! The jihadists make some accusations against us, such as that we are immoral and materialistic. Let’s make sure there’s as little truth to those charges as possible. Just as NATO provided an alternative culture in contrast to the Soviet empire, the free world needs to provide if not an entire culture than at least cultural elements that members of the Arab world seeking an alternative can turn to instead of jihadism.

Anyway, I’m sort of rambling. I’ll need to refine these thoughts a bit, but here are some kernels of my latest ideas. Take care!