The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

November 25, 2009

Going Around the Table Again

Filed under: Holidays — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 6:32 pm

Well, it looks like Thanksgiving is just about here once again.  As some of my regular readers (in other words, my Mom and my siblings, and a few other people out there here and there) may recall, last year when Thanksgiving came around, I put together a post that served as something of a virtual version of the Vanderhoeven family tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving and talking about some of the things that we’re thankful for.  Although this Thanksgiving will see the Lutz family returning to the traditional Vanderhoeven get-together after a year’s absence, I thought it would also be good to revisit this here.

I suppose one could say that this past year has been interesting, in much the way the same thing could be said of a slow-motion train wreck.  Between the economy, politics, the outbreak of Porky’s Revenge and all the other various things that have been going on, it hasn’t exactly been the easiest of times to live in.  I’ve also found myself needing to make a difficult transition or two during this past year, and  for a brief period, it even looked like there was a very real possibility that I could have ended up pulling up stakes and moving down to Utah, although that one ended up never actually materializing for some reason that I have never been able to figure out.  This past year has definitely been one of those “interesting” times that end up being both a blessing and a curse at the same time.

And yet, somehow I’ve managed to make it through all of this, and come out the other side relatively unscathed.  Sure I still have some things I haven’t quite figured out (like the little matter of trying to figure out how to stop being so freakin’ single all the time,) but one way or another, I’ve managed to get through all of this.  I’m still here and in one piece, I’m employed, The bills are getting paid without too much trouble, and I have my health.  Somehow, I’ve managed to dodge the Swine Flu on at least two occasions that I know of, and aside from what is probably a slightly irrational aversion to the Whitman’s Sampler (long story) I have managed to get through the year with no ill effects.  I’m especially grateful that I have my family nearby, that I gained a new nephew this year (and have another niece/nephew on the way sometime around May of next year,) and that as long as you don’t lock us all up in a crowded apartment for three days we all get along quite well.  I am thankful for the opportunities that I have had to travel over the course of the last year, and for the natural curiosity that I have about things that leads me to dig more deeply into many of them than most people would (even if it has been known to get me into trouble a time or two.)  In short, I am thankful that the Lord is mindful of me,  provides the things that I need, and even manages to put up with me and my slightly-too-abundant shortcomings.  Sometimes I don’t quite end up taking the path I would have preferred, but ultimately I do eventually manage to end up where I’m supposed to be, and I have faith that I will continue to do so.

So…  Who’s next?

November 19, 2009

Is it Northup Way or Northrup Way? Take Your Pick.

Filed under: Bellevue, History, Recycled Newspaper — Brian Lutz @ 11:11 pm
If you asked a newly minted resident of the Eastside what the name of the main east/west street that cuts through the Overlake neighborhood is called, chances are that the first answer you’d get would probably be “Huh?”  If pressed for details, you might get one of two answers:  Either Northup Way or Northrup Way (well OK, you might get a third answer of Northeast 20th Street, which would be correct, but that’s beside the point.)  As you can see from the (slightly blurry) photo above, the correct answer is “Northup” (although the “wrong” spelling seems to be surprisingly common as well,) but with a little bit of digging, it turns out not to be quite that simple.

Bellevue American, September 7 1972 (Click for larger version)

From the September 7th 1972 edition of the Bellevue American, we find out that at one time, the street was offiically known as Northrup Way.  This, it would seem, turned out to be the result of a clerical error somewhere along the way when the street received its name.  Northup way was named for James and Benson Northup, who were early settlers of the Yarrow Bay area of what is was originally Houghton, and later part of Kirkland.  From a site of Northup family geneaology, we learn a bit more about Benson Northup, who was one of the founders of a Seattle newspaper known as the Post (which later merged with the Seattle Intelligencer to form the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) and served on the Seattle City Council for several years during the 1880s.  Unfortunately, little information about the James Northup referred to in the article seems to be available.

Fast forward to 1972, where Barb Keane, a descendent of Benson Northup (most likely a great-granddaughter, but the links on the site don’t seem to go that far) sought to correct the incorrect spelling of the family name that had managed to become the name of what was then Northrup Way.  From the article, it would seem that even among city officials there was debate as to which of the two names was correct, with some preferring the official spelling of the name, and others striving to correct the error.  Although the article seems to hold out little hope of getting the name of Northrup Way corrected to the proper spelling, at some point the street did get returned to the “proper” name, although I do not know when this would have happened.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how you spell it, chances are you would have been right somewhere along the line.

November 13, 2009

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow (Somewhere Else, if You Don’t Mind)

Filed under: weather — Brian Lutz @ 10:26 pm

Don’t look now, but in case you haven’t noticed, somehow we’ve managed to end up nearly halfway through November.  and more than halfway through Autumn already.  Sure, there’s still leaves on some of the trees, but it’s pretty clear they’ve all served the trunk with their notice of intent to vacate the premises.  I suppose the part where it started getting dark at 5pm should have been a bit of a tip-off that we we’re heading for the cold season, but somehow I manage to keep telling myself that it’s not really quite as late in the year than it actually is.  Then again, it’s kind of hard to ignore the ominous little snowflake that appears on the dash of my car when the thermometer registers a temperature of 39 degrees or colder, indicating that it’s probably a lot colder than I think.

On one hand, this means that Thanksgiving is now less than two weeks away, and Christmas isn’t all that much farther away(as the stores have been quite helpful to point out to you for the last month and a half,  just in case you somehow managed to miss that part.)  Unfortunately, it also means that Winter is on the way, and if the current weather forecasts are to believe, might be even closer than you think.  The mountains have already either begun to accumulate their annual blanket of snow or will be getting a good head start this weekend (a couple of ski areas have even managed to open already,) and this weekend’s forecasts suggest that some of that snow might even reach some of the higher hills here in the Puget Sound area.  I can’t exactly say that I’m thrilled by the prospect myself.

There has been some disagreement on the prospects for this year’s Winter around here, with the National Weather Service suggesting that El Nino conditions and the global warming bogeyman will result in a warmer than usual Winter around here, while the Farmer’s Almanac seems to think that we’re going to be in for a colder than usual winter.  Either way, If last Winter’s weather is any indication, it might not be a bad idea to prepare for some snow.  As anyone who was caught unaware by last December’s snowstorms (or, in some cases, anyone who made an ill-fated attempt to dodge it by heading to Florida for a few days, only to get home in time to catch the worst of it) probably figured out from unfortunate experience, by the time the snow showed up, every store in a 100-mile radius had been completely cleaned out in the shovel department.  Since a lot of stores seem to sell these things as seasonal items (meaning that they bring in one big load and don’t bother restocking once they’re gone) even when the snow had passed most stores never got any more of them in.  In order to keep the walkway in front of my apartment clear, I found myself having to improvise a bit, until I eventually manage to come up with a big metal dustpan that would do the job, albeit not particularly well, and with a whole lot more bending than would have liked (apparently I’m getting to be practically old enough for Arthritis at this point, so that’s probably not such a good thing.) 

Eleven months later, the Winter gear has managed to make its way back into the stores, and as I wandered over to Target for no apparent reason this evening, I found myself contemplating the purchase of such a shovel.  On one hand, if we do get anything close to last year’s Winter weather, I’d be really glad that I’ve got one of these around, and that I don’t have to trudge through forty miles of snow and ice in an effort to find one (uphill both ways, of course) trying to find one of the things.  On the other hand, if the Winter turns out to be milder as some people have predicted, then the thing would end up seeing little use, and would just end up taking up space in the closet for the next 12 months until next Winter.   I’ve also got all of about 20 feet worth of walkway in front of my apartment that I’d even need to shovel if it did actually snow.  So is it worth getting a shovel on merely the possibility that it might snow?  I guess I won’t know the answer until Spring arrives.

November 6, 2009

A Battle of Wits with an Eight-Legged Opponent

Filed under: Dogs — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 10:38 pm

Sometime tomorrow, my parents will be returning home from their latest sunny tropical adventure (and from the looks of the forecast, they should have some LOVELY weather waiting for them when they get home) which means that my recent dogsitting stint will soon be coming to an end.  I will say that although there have been a couple of issues here and there, for the most part Imola and Minardi have been pretty well behaved this time around, in spite of my occasional lack of diligence on the evening walks.  They do have one particular habit that they have no apparent intention of ever breaking though:  They still love to dig at the dog park.

This isn’t to say that they’ll just go dig holes at random.  Usually there’s a couple of particular spots that get their attention, and one spot that you just can’t seem to drag them away from.  Out toward the back corner of the Marymoor Dog Park, there’s one particular hole (hereafter referred to as “The Hole”) next to the trail that these two will sprint to from 50 yards away, and I suspect if you let them they’d dig halfway to China in this spot.  I have no idea what’s supposed to be so appealing about this particular patch of dirt (Maybe there’s some sort of dead animal in there or something,) but Imola and Minardi just can’t seem to get enough of it.  You can try to chase them away, they’ll run right back to this little pit.  You can try to bribe them away with treats, but at first they’ll just ignore them (which considering the usual response to offering treats for these two, is quite odd) and then they might eventually follow you, grab the treat, and as soon as they can get away with it, sprint right back over to The Hole.  About the only thing I’ve found that’ll get them away from The Hole is to just slowly walk away, not look back, and eventually they’ll figure out that I’m not there anymore and maybe move along before I decide to just leave them there (although if I did, I’m pretty sure I know where to find them when I come back.)  Even then, most of the time I have to get their attention with a treat (not a big deal, since this is the part of the walk when I usually give them a treat anyway,) make sure we’re all quite a distance from the hole, and then give it to them, so they don’t just grab it and run back (it’s happened a time or two,)  Usually if I can get them past this part, the rest of the walk is pretty routine. 

With ss much of a time commitment  as it takes to keep these two happy and healthy (and that’s just the daily dogsitting tasks like feeding and walking, not the other stuff like vet visits, baths and whatnot,) I still have serious doubts at times if I’d be ready to keep a dog of my own at this point.  On the other hand, it’s always nice having a couple of dogs around.  They’re always happy to see me (then again, that may be because I’ve never tried to give them a bath,) they put up with my occasionally scatterbrained substitute pack leader impersonation and my somewhat off-the-wall schedule, and they only occasionally bark half the night these days.  Another nice side effect of the whole dogsitting bit is that even with the morning walk,  I’ve gotten into work at least 45 minutes early every day this week.  I’ve been wondering what the whole “go home at 5” thing was like…  I’m sure I’ll be back to my usual “up at the crack of Ten” schedule soon enough, but at least it will be my own bed that I’ll be groggily rising from…

November 2, 2009

Beagles Don’t Come With a Snooze Button

Filed under: Dogs — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 7:46 pm

This week, with my parents off to yet another sunny and exotic destination (well, compared to around here at least,) I find myself once again taking care of Imola and Minardi for the next week or so.  I’ve already been on this particular dogsitting stint for a couple of days, and I can tell that even though I pretend to be a responsible dog owner for roughly 2 or 3 weeks out of the year, apparently I’m familiar enough with the whole routine that one of the regulars at the Marymoor dog park saw me there yesterday, and immediately asked, “Where did they go this time?”  It worries me slightly that I even recognize any of the regulars at the dog park, not to mention the fact that I might be in the process of becoming one myself in spite of not even owning any dogs of my own.  While it’s kind of nice to get a chance to spend time with Imola and Minardi every once in a while (and they seem to enjoy it too, or at least tolerate my presence in their territory well enough that I can usually manage to avoid getting any limbs gnawed off) it does definitely take some adjustments.

As most people who know me can probably attest, I’m a serious night owl.  These two are, for lack of a better term, morning dogs.  This means that I usually end up waking up with a faceful of dog noses at an inconvenient hour.  At the slightest hint of wakefulness, both of them will jump in (well, maybe not jump per se, they generally save that particular behavior for feeding time) and start face licking.  Granted, I’m pretty sure that’s mostly a greeting behavior, but I’m sure there’s at least a slight undertone of “will you get up and FEED us already, you lazy bum?” in the whole thing.  If the hour is too ridiculously early (depending on one’s definition of course) you might be able to pretend that you didn’t notice a faceful of dog slobber and roll over for a few more minutes of pseudo-sleep, but you generally won’t get away with that particular routine for too long.  Generally, the end result of this is that you end up waking up a lot earlier than you might like, and you’ve got a couple of overly energetic dogs waiting for breakfast and their walk.  Eventually you manage to shake off the cobwebs and (sort of) catch up, but if dogs have a tough time waking up in the morning, they sure don’t seem to show it at all.  They also have no concept of such esoteric concepts as Daylight Savings time, so you start getting the whole wake-up routine somewhere around 6 AM or so.  Most of the time, these two have actually been pretty reasonable though, and even seem to put up with my off-the-wall schedule (to some extent anyway, It’s probably a lot easier to do when you sleep eighteen hours out of the day in the first place and don’t have anything on your schedule except for feeding time and walks.)  

Sure, they’re excitable, easily distracted and will bark for 15 minutes straight at anything that isn’t nailed down, but all things considered, they’re actually being pretty well-behaved this time around.  I’m still pretty sure I’m not ready for full-time dog ownership at this point, but I would like to think that I wouldn’t be a completely disastrous pet owner at this point if I did actually have dogs of my own…

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