Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We Escaped!

We flew on a different airline and to a different city than initially planned, but on Sunday night, my wife and I escaped the clutches of the winter storm currently incapacitating Seattle. I overheard one Southwest Airlines employee say we were the last plane to leave Seatac. I'm not sure if that was on Southwest, or in the whole airport. I wouldn't be surprised if it was the latter: we had to wait for more than 30 minutes just so the snow could be cleared on the tarmac between the plane and the runway. Our departure insured that our luggage did not make it into any "sorry, your flight was canceled, please collect your belongings in baggage claim" collections like this:

Susan was able to get to her interview at UCSF on Monday. I spent the day in the UCSF emergency departments for a 'second look.' Today, I interview across the bay at Oakland's Highland Hospital.

There are several reasons to be glad not to be in Seattle! It would be fun to play in the snow and all, but it turns out there's a reason why the city couldn't handle an inch of snow last week: Seattle refuses to use salt on its roads and the sand they do use is not enough to ensure safe motorist transit. The stated reason is the salt might impact Puget Sound's endangered salmon populations. Some biologists argue sand is actually worse because it fills the spaces between streambed pebbles such that insects and other fauna important to waterway health perish. Seattle is the only municipality (according to one article) that has a ban on salt. Sand is also 20% the cost of salt. My guess is that only the tincture of time and climate would benefit this picture:

With grades up to 20% in places, it's Mr. Sun who can restore normalcy to Seattle. Given this time of year's 8 hours of sunlight and perpetual winter clouds, I wish everyone there a hearty good luck! That packed ice takes a lot longer to melt than the fluffy stuff the kids are playing in. From a distance, Denny Way looks more like a ski slope than a road. In fact, there were intrepid young men snowboarding down Queen Anne Ave., NE 70th St., and I'm sure many others.

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