A “Discovery” Pass

Discover Pass logo with link to http://discoverpass.wa.gov/Decades ago when I was a student at Saint Martin’s College I would go into the woods a wonder for days and commune with nature on the Olympic Peninsula. For free. Sometime I would park my 1973 Dodge Dart at a private residence, pay them a dollar a day, and be off to the wilderness.

Then a small fee was instituted for the back country, park fees increased and finally a State Pass was instituted. At first I was furious that welfare dwellers could go to lakes all day on a free pass while I went to work. It just struck me as wrong. The State was making me pay while other people got a free ride. Eventually I decided to give in and to gain access to lakes and parks again.

A few years ago, I put out the cash and got an annual Discover Pass. It was really OK. If you want access to 3 million acres of state owned property, purchase your Discover Pass at discoverpass.wa.gov or call them at (866) 320-9933. Discover Passes can also be purchased in person from any of nearly 600 recreational license vendors where state fishing and hunting licenses are sold. You will not regret it.

JamesNugent

James Nugent is a local author who has 102 e-books, 95 paperbacks, and 53 audio books available at Amazon.com

Mr. Nugent's books include Fifty-Two Vacations A Year. "Most of us work Monday thru Friday and then try to have a little fun during the weekend. Some of us live for the weekend. If we have chosen a life of wage slavery, then there is nothing left for us to do except to maximize our enjoyment of our freedom during those precious two days a week."

Annual Community Meeting Thursday, January 26

Click to download a 2-part flyer; give one to a neighbor!

An Introduction to Our Neighbors: A History and Activities of the Squaxin Island Tribe

You are invited to join us for our Annual Community Meeting on Thursday, January 26th. The evening begins with a half-hour for socializing and speaking with representatives of local organizations present at the event. Local elected officials, too, are expected to attend.

The evening’s program begins with a brief business meeting. This includes an update on this year’s activities of the GNA. There will also be nominations and an election of members of the Griffin Neighborhood Association Board of Directors. Voting is open only to current members of the Association; now is a great time to renew your membership online or at the meeting.

The featured topic of this year’s meeting is by Rhonda Foster, Director of Cultural Resources for the Squaxin Island Tribe, and Joseph Peters, Natural Resources Policy Representative. Their presentation, An Introduction to Our Neighbors: A History and Activities of the Squaxin Island Tribe, will introduce you to the Squaxin Island Tribe, also known as the People of the Water. The presentation may include a description of some of the annual cultural events in which the Tribe participates – the First Salmon Ceremony, the Canoe Journey, and others – and the significance of those. Foster and Peters may also talk about the health and sustainability of the Tribe’s fishery programs, the Squaxin Island Museum, and other areas of interest.

Thursday, January 26
6:30pm: Join us for a half-hour of socializing. The program begins at 7:00pm.
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters

3707 Steamboat Loop NW

US Geological Survey Studies the Ground Beneath Our Feet

Both gravitational and magnetic data is used to describe the underground geology. This illustration is of gravitational readings locating structures in the South Sound. Click the image for a larger view.

A few years ago, the Steamboat Peninsula was visited by a research team from the Geologic Hazards Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey. These researchers were using equipment to view cross-sections of geologic structures far beneath the ground. This last July, the results of this research, a paper entitled, Shallow geophysical imaging of the Olympia anomaly: An enigmatic structure in the southern Puget Lowland, Washington State, was published.

A significant benefit of this kind of research is to identify areas where stress might build and quickly release in the form of an earthquake. The Puget Sound occupies a seismically active area, located along a line where the Juan de Fuca plate is squeezed under the North America plate.

The convergence of the Juan de Fuca plate, at a rate of ~50 mm/yr (Atwater, 1970; DeMets et al., 1994), has historically produced great (magnitude, M8–9) earthquakes on the Cascadia subduction zone (e.g., Nelson et al., 2006) that pose a primary seismic hazard for the region (Petersen et al., 2002).

But what’s the story, closer to our home here on the Steamboat Peninsula?Read More

At US-101 and the WA-8 Underpass, It’s Called a “Zipper Merge,” and We’ve Been Doing it Wrong

Most weekday mornings traffic begins to stack up where southbound US-101 merges from two lanes, to one, under WA-8. Drivers line up in the left hand lane and sometimes traffic slows almost all the way back to the onramp at Steamboat Island Road. As traffic slows, drivers entering US-101 at Steamboat Island Road scramble to join the line forming in the left lane. It sometimes creates a dangerous situation. And those drivers who cannot move left, or choose to remain in the right lane, feel like they are cheating, cutting into the line closer to the actual point the two lanes merge into one.

Transportation engineers call it a “zipper merge.” It is not taught in driver’s education. And the Washington Department of Transportation doesn’t normally provide the correct signage instructing drivers how it’s supposed to work. And it turns out we’ve been doing it wrong, all along.

At normal highway speeds, when traffic is moving smoothly through the WA-8 underpass, it’s correct for drivers to move to the left lane early, when the sign indicates there is a merge ahead.

But, when traffic begins to stack up and slow down, the correct way to use a zipper merge is for drivers to fill in both lanes. If the roadway was signed correctly, long before the right lane merges into the left, there would be a sign reading, “Use both lanes to merge point.”

Then, actually at the point the right lane merges into the right, drivers should file through the underpass one at a time. First a car from the left lane, then a car from the right, then the left, and so forth.

Cars from each lane file together, at the merge point, just like the teeth of a zipper.

If the roadway was signed correctly, there would be a sign at the merge reading, “Take turns merge here.”

Or perhaps a single sign, like the one pictured at the bottom of this article, would suffice to notify drivers that, when there is congestion, they should use both lanes and then take turns at the merge.

When both lanes are used correctly, a zipper merge could reduce by 50% the length of the backup along US-101. At the height of out little morning rush hour, drivers using the Steamboat Island Road onramp would easily be able to get into either the right or left lane. And everyone would get under WA-8 and on their way, just as quickly as before.

In traffic engineering, the late merge or zipper method is a convention for merging traffic into a reduced number of lanes. Drivers in merging lanes are expected to use both lanes to advance to the lane reduction point and merge at that location, alternating turns.
Wikipedia

In countries such as Germany, the zipper merge is taught to drivers and it’s normal. But here in the U.S., we prefer to queue up as soon as we see there’s a merge ahead. Especially as traffic begins to move more slowly. On US-101 we think of the drivers that remain in the right lane as “cheaters” who are “cutting in line” by not moving to the left. But it turns out, we’ve been wrong. It’s not rude to use both lanes; that’s the way a zipper merge is supposed to work, when traffic congestion is higher. But what would it take to develop a critical mass of local drivers, who use this route most days, to begin to change how we use both lanes along US-101?

Talk to your neighbors who regularly travel this route. Share this article. The Washington Department of Transportation usually only signs for a zipper merge in construction zones. They’ve done it, up in Seattle. But we can create a safer situation right here, if our own zipper merge were correctly signed. Contact WSDOT to ask for the “Use both lanes to merge point’ and “Take turns merge here” signs to be installed along US-101. The WSDOT representative is Angel Hubbard at (360) 705-7281.

Update (1/11/2017): Washington DOT replied to an email sent to them, about this issue.

WSDOT considered this very issue a while back. After some investigation, we elected not to implement any zipper signing at this particular location for two main reasons:

1. Our literature search and past WSDOT experience show that encouraging drivers to zipper merge can be beneficial in slow-moving traffic conditions, and is most often employed in temporary construction situations. This location is a high-speed corridor (60 mph) that experiences congestion for only about 30 minutes a day, during the a.m. commute.

2. At the US 101 merge onto SR 8, a tight single-lane curve immediately follows after the two US 101 lanes drop to one. The tight merge operates at full capacity during the morning rush, and traffic engineers did not believe a zipper merge would notably increase through-put or travel times. This was confirmed with visual field verifications, and from traffic modeling.

It’s clear the zipper merge is useful when there’s congestion, and not at normal highway speed. That does present a challenge to clearly signing the road. However, we don’t expect use of both lanes, as a zipper merge, to decrease travel times. Instead, we want to reduce the numbers of unsafe merges into the left lane, when congestion causes traffic to back up in that lane nearly to Steamboat Island Road. Also, we have seen instances when cars drive down the middle of US-101, straddling the center line, specifically to prevent others from using the right lane.

What steps can be taken to legitimize use of the right lane, when there is congestion at this merge?

Update (1/20/2017): The only available solution may be an educational campaign.

A dialog with Representative MacEwen’s office and WSDOT representatives has disclosed how complicated merely signing this location may actually be. Apparently, except for use in a construction zone, standards for signing a zipper merge don’t exist along US highways. The Washington State Patrol, too, has expressed concerns they wouldn’t be able to accurately assign fault to accidents occurring where it wasn’t clear, at the merge point, which lane was ending.

In the short term, we may be left with the only remedy being an educational campaign. But are there enough drivers coming from the Steamboat Peninsula to have an impact on the behavior of drivers coming from further up US-101? Time will tell.

McLane Creek a Little Bit of Pacific Northwest Paradise

Photo by Bob and Barb, Washington State Trails Association.

Part of the pleasure of living here is the easy access to Capitol State Forest. One piece of the State Forest is less than 6 miles from the Steamboat Island Road exit. If you go to Mud Bay and then go up the hill toward Olympia; take a right at the top of the hill. Follow Delphi Road SW for 3.2 miles. You will then find on the right side, McLane Creek and Forest Trails. Click here to map your own directions.

The park is run by the Department of Natural Resources and closes at dusk. There are picnic shelters and restrooms and wonderful viewpoints. There are three trails, two of which circumnavigate a large pond and a small lake.

Click image for a downloadable trail map.

Numerous birds, amphibians, and beavers live at the water. Salmon swim home in the fall. The trails are short and protected from the rain by trees. You should always dress for the weather and stay out of the woods when it is windy. Enjoy this little bit of Pacific Northwest paradise.

A state Discovery pass is needed to park at McLane Creek. You can buy a pass online or at 22 locations in Thurston County. Check it out at discoverpass.wa.gov.

Old-Fashioned Christmas Caroling Returns to Prosperity Grange

Come join your neighbors this Saturday, December 17, at the Prosperity Grange for what’s rapidly becoming a cherished annual event: Old-Fashioned Christmas Caroling. Hosted by Restoration Hope. Complementary hot chocolate, cider, coffee, chili, and Christmas cookies will be available. Photos with Santa and his sleigh!

This is a free event, but any donations will go to Griffin School’s ‘Friendship Fund’ to help kids in need, and to St. Christopher’s Community Church for them to distribute to Steamboat families in need and to their Helping Hands Community Garden.

Old-Fashioned Christmas Caroling
3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Saturday, December 17
Prosperity Grange
3701 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia

You Can Be a Self-Published Author

Click the image for a downloadable version

In an average year, there are more than 225 overcast days in Olympia. And we're coming into the darkest, rainiest part of the year. What's a body to do? Winter is a great time to write that book you've always wanted. In the past, getting published was as difficult - or more so - than writing the text in the first place. Nowadays, with the tools available online, it is easy to publish and sell your work.

Here are some steps you can use to publish and sell your paperback, ebook, and audio book.

What accounts do I need to set up?

kdp.amazon.com Kindle Direct Publishing is your route to publish online to customers in the U.S., Canada, UK, Germany, India, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and more.

www.createspace.com CreateSpace provides easy tools to create your paperback edition.

www.acx.com ACX provides the tools to turn your book into an audio book, for sale on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. "ACX Puts You in the Director's Chair."

Amazon will produce and sell your work, and pay you up to 70% royalties. People buy your book worldwide and the royalty is sent directly to your bank account. Amazon, CreateSpace and ACX will mail tax documents to you.

How do I publish my works?

Upload your Microsoft Word document (minimum of 24 pages for paperback) to the above sites. You select the book cover and artwork from the site or provide your own. Amazon will then publish your work in 160 countries with 13 on-line book stores.

Marketing

Amazon has several promotional programs. They will guide you through the process. These may result in increased sales. You select your book price and royalty amount given the promotion program.

Copyrights

You retain the copyright for all of your published work through Amazon.com.

Royalty Payments

Are made by direct deposit or mail. You may want to consider creating a separate bank account, for tax reporting purposes, to receive your royalty payments.

Sovereign Cellars Offers Holiday Discount on Local Wines

sovereign_cellars_2016

Dennis Gross, winemaster at Sovereign Cellars asks, “What better way to celebrate the season than with fine wines from Sovereign Cellars for your table or as a gift? All of our award winning wines are now 20% off!”

This local winery is open through December.

If you are interested in purchasing wine, simply call or email Sovereign Cellars. Or just come on over.

Happy Holidays, from our local winery, Sovereign Cellars.

Sovereign Cellars
(360) 866-7991
dwgrosswine@yahoo.com
7408 Manzanita Dr. NW, Olympia

Feline Friends Holiday Bazaar and Griffin Holiday Market, Saturday, December 3

2016ff-bazaar-flyer1

Click for a larger image.

This Saturday sees the return of two holiday events to the Griffin/Steamboat Peninsula area. One is the Feline Friends Cat Adoption Day, Santa, and Holiday Bazaar. The other is the Griffin Holiday Market. Between these two events, you’re bound to find a lot of goodies you want for this season’s gift-giving.

Santa will be available at the Feline Friends Holiday Bazaar to have photos taken with your pets (on a leash only) or children.

Stop by to visit with friends and neighbors and to shop for those extra special gifts made by local artisans and have some Hot Apple Cider. Check out their Raffle and Bake Sale with lots of cookies.

Of course, the Feline Friends Cat House will be open with cats hoping to find a loving forever home before the New Year.

Feline Friends Cat Adoption Day, Santa, and Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, December 3
10 AM to 3 PM
Griffin Fire Department Headquarters
3707 Steamboat Island Loop NW, Olympia

On the same day, the Griffin School invites you to come peruse their Griffin Holiday Market. More 30 vendors are featured, with the focus on vendors selling homemade items. There will be a great variety at this event, which is a fundraiser to support the Griffin Middle School band’s Disney trip in April.

There will also be a bake sale, silent auction, and performances by individual band students.

Griffin Holiday Market
Saturday, December 3
10 AM to 3 PM
Griffin School Gymnasium
6530 33rd Ave NW, Olympia

We hope to see you shopping locally at both these holiday events, this Saturday.

Your Purchases on Amazon Can Help Support the GNA

amazon_black_fridayjpgThe Griffin Neighborhood Association, budget-wise, runs a pretty slim operation. For example, thanks to a generous contribution by South Sound IT and the work of a volunteer webmaster, this web site operates at pretty much no cost, to the GNA. But if you’ve picked up one of the several thousand “Steamboat Neighborhood” stickers we’ve distributed, then you’ve received at least one tiny benefit from the Association. If you are a contributing member, thank you so much! And if you’re not, please click here to join us (we’ve been around for more than 26 years and, with your help, the Griffin Neighborhood Association will be here for many years to come).

But your membership in the GNA isn’t the only way you can lend some financial support to the Association. When you shop on Amazon.com, your purchases can produce a small commission to the GNA. If, that is, you start your shopping at http://steamboatisland.org/amazon Even better: click on the link http://steamboatisland.org/amazon and then bookmark it as your Amazon link, so all your shopping on Amazon will help support the Griffin Neighborhood Association.

Our families wish you and yours all the best, this Thanksgiving. And we thank you for your support of the Griffin Neighborhood Association.