Yes, I’m still here!

….but shockingly enough while I was out of town for a few days my computer didn’t miraculously fix whatever had started to go wrong with it before I left – who’d have guessed huh??! 😆

So…… I’m here but today is busy and tomorrow I’ll hopefully find out what needs to be done to fix it and then maybe I’ll get some pictures and updates posted one way or another. In the meantime here is Taryn showing off some of her local fauna on a bike ride that she and Colton took with David while we were down in the steamy south 😊

  

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timing 😉

rolled out of bed this morning, rode the elevator upstairs and what did I see when I pulled up the blind?(top right hand corner)image
Yep, that  blurry  airplane shape in the clouds is you know who 10 minutes from touching down – boy I’m good 😆
That gave me enough time to have an espresso and then get on the bike trainer so that my workout was almost done by the time he walked in the door. And yes of course everything was cleaned up from the night before – my neighbourhood Monday happy hours are nothing if not full of restraint and decorum …… see??!
imageimageimage …. well that and great neighbours who load the dishwasher and take the empties out with them 😄

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take a wild guess…..

yes of course I watched the first Mariners game of the season!
First game, first win – all is wonderful so far :) Well, unless you actually went to the game and wanted to park relatively close – rumour has it that some lots were charging $60 – ouch!
Tonight I’ll be rooting for Wisconsin in the big basketball game since we have good friends from there but it is a little weird to be seeing the beginning of one sports season and the end of anothers all on the same day. Good job I have happy hour in between to break it up, haha :)

Let’s see, apart from spectating we had a friend from the East Coast come to stay again IMG_3917 and then apparently Grandad had to teach Cora how to suck eggs for Easter ;) IMG_0453_2IMG_0454_2 I just made sure she had a real Cadburys chocolate Easter egg from England to start things off properly and I did manage to enjoy the odd sunset before David gets home tomorrow and life gets busy again.
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something else I didn’t know!

After seeing two decommissioned aircraft carriers head out of Bremerton fairly recently to Brownsville, Texas to be scrapped, this article on what happens to nuclear submarines at the end of their lives caught my attention the other day. Initially that was because we are lucky enough to not just see aircraft carriers, but submarines like this one…
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glide past us now and again. Until I read this I had no clue that the sealed, de-fuelled reactor blocks ended up at the nuclear waste facility in Hanford, Washington though. And really – you can see submarine graveyards on GoogleMaps?? That’s weird!

BBC Future

IN DEPTH| 30 March 2015
How do you dismantle a nuclear submarine?
By Paul Marks
Technology Science & Environment Military Nuclear Ocean Weapon

When nuclear-powered submarines reach the end of their lives, dismantling them is a complicated and laborious process. Paul Marks investigates.

Nuclear submarines have long been a favourite in popular fiction. From movies such as The Hunt for Red October to long-running TV series like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, they have always been portrayed as awesome instruments of geopolitical power gliding quietly through the gloomy deep on secret, serious missions.

An aquarium of radioactive junk — The Kara Sea, a submarine graveyard
But at the end of their useful lives the subs essentially become floating nuclear hazards, fizzing with lethal, spent nuclear fuel that’s extremely hard to get out. Nuclear navies have had to go to extraordinary lengths to cope with their bloated and ageing Cold War fleets of hunter-killer and ballistic missile nuclear subs.

As a result, some of the strangest industrial graveyards on the planet have been created – stretching from the US Pacific Northwest, via the Arctic Circle to Russia’s Pacific Fleet home of Vladivostok.

These submarine cemeteries take many forms. At the filthy end of the spectrum, in the Kara Sea north of Siberia, they are essentially nuclear dumping grounds, with submarine reactors and fuel strewn across the 300m-deep seabed. Here the Russians appear to have continued, until the early 1990s, disposing of their nuclear subs in the same manner as their diesel-powered compatriots: dropping them into the ocean.

Rusting remains

The diesel sub scrapyard in the inlets around Olenya Bay in north-west Russia’s arctic Kola Peninsula is an arresting sight: rusted-through prows expose torpedo tubes inside, corroded conning towers keel over at bizarre angles and hulls are burst asunder, like mussels smashed on rocks by gulls.

The Soviets turned the Kara Sea into “an aquarium of radioactive junk” says Norway’s Bellona Foundation, an environmental watchdog based in Oslo. The seabed is littered with some 17,000 naval radioactive waste containers, 16 nuclear reactors and five complete nuclear submarines – one has both its reactors still fully fuelled.

Russian reactors have been stored in the harbour at Vladivostok The Kara Sea area is now a target for oil and gas companies – and accidental drilling into such waste could, in principle, breach reactor containments or fuel rod cladding, and release radionuclides into the fishing grounds, warns Bellona’s managing director Nils Bohmer.

Official submarine graveyards are much more visible: you can even see them on Google Maps or Google Earth. Zoom in on America’s biggest nuclear waste repository in Hanford, Washington, Sayda Bay in the arctic Kola Peninsula, or the shipyards near Vladivostok and you’ll see them. There are row after row of massive steel canisters, each around 12m long. They are lined up in ranks in Hanford’s long, earthen pits awaiting a future mass burial, sitting in regimented rows on a Sayda Bay dockside, or floating on the waters of the Sea of Japan, shackled to a pier at the Pavlovks sub base near Vladivostok.

Drained and removed

These canisters are all that remain of hundreds of nuclear subs. Known as “three-compartment units” they are the sealed, de-fuelled reactor blocks produced in a decommissioning process perfected at the US Department of Defense’s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington.

It’s a meticulous process. First, the defunct sub is towed to a secure de-fuelling dock where its reactor compartment is drained of all liquids to expose its spent nuclear fuel assemblies. Each assembly is then removed and placed in spent nuclear fuel casks and put on secure trains for disposal at a long-term waste storage and reprocessing plant. In the US, this is the Naval Reactor Facility at the sprawling Idaho National Laboratory, and in Russia the Mayak plutonium production and reprocessing plant in Siberia is the final destination.

Although the reactor machinery – steam generators, pumps, valves and piping – now contains no enriched uranium, the metals in it are rendered radioactive by decades of neutron bombardment shredding their atoms. So after fuel removal, the sub is towed into dry dock where cutting tools and blowtorches are used to sever the reactor compartment, plus an emptied compartment either side of it, from the submarine’s hull. Then thick steel seals are welded to either end. So the canisters are not merely receptacles: they are giant high-pressure steel segments of the nuclear submarine itself – all that remains of it, in fact, as all nonradioactive submarine sections are then recycled.

Russia also uses this technique because the West feared that its less rigorous decommissioning processes risked fissile materials getting into unfriendly hands. At Andreeva Bay, near Sayda, for instance, Russia still stores spent fuel from 90 subs from the 1960s and 1970s, for instance. So in 2002, the G8 nations started a 10-year, $20bn programme to transfer Puget Sound’s decommissioning knowhow to the Russian Federation. That involved vastly improving technology and storage at their de-fuelling facility in Severodvinsk and their dismantling facility, and by building a land-based storage dock for the decommissioned reactors.

Floating menace

Safer land-based storage matters because the reactor blocks had been left afloat at Sayda Bay, as the air-filled compartments either side of the reactor compartment provide buoyancy, says Bohmer. But at Pavlovks, near Vladivostok, 54 of the canisters are still afloat and at the mercy of the weather.

Decommissioning this way is not always possible, however, says Bohmer. Some Soviet subs had liquid metal cooled reactors – using a lead-bismuth mixture to remove heat from the core – rather than the common pressurised water reactor (PWR). In a cold, defunct reactor the lead-bismuth coolant freezes, turning it into an unwieldy solid block. Bohmer says two such submarines are not yet decommissioned and have had to be moved to an extremely remote dockyard at Gremikha Bay – also on the Kola Peninsula – for safety’s sake.

When nuclear submarines reach the end of their lives, some of their hulks remain dangerously radioactive
Using the three-compartment-unit method, Russia has so far decommissioned 120 nuclear submarines of the Northern Fleet and 75 subs from its Pacific Fleet. In the US, meanwhile, 125 Cold War-era subs have been dismantled this way. France, too, has used the same procedure. In Britain, however, Royal Navy nuclear subs are designed so that the reactor module can be removed without having to sever compartments from the midsection. “The reactor pressure vessel can be removed in one piece, encased, transported and stored,” says a spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence.

However Britain’s plans to decommission 12 defunct submarines stored at Devonport in the south of England and seven at Rosyth in Scotland won’t happen any time soon as the government still has to decide which of five possible UK sites will eventually store those pressure vessels and spent fuel. This has raised community concerns as the numbers of defunct nuclear-fuelled subs is building up at Devonport and Rosyth, as BBC News reported last year.

Water fears

Environmental groups have also raised concerns about fuel storage in the US. The Idaho National Lab has been the ultimate destination for all US Navy high-level spent fuel since the first nuclear sub, USS Nautilus, was developed in 1953. “The prototype reactor for the USS Nautilus was tested at INL and since then every scrap of spent fuel from the nuclear navy has ended up in Idaho. It is stored above the upstream end of the Snake River Aquifer, the second largest unified underground body of water on the North American continent,” says Beatrice Brailsford of the Snake River Alliance, an environmental lobby group.

“The spent fuel is stored above ground, but the rest of the waste is buried above the aquifer and that practice may continue for another half century. It is a source of concern for many people in Idaho.” It’s not only the aquifer’s fresh water that’s at risk: the state’s signature crop, potatoes, would also be affected.

Even with high security, radioactive material can occasionally escape – sometimes in bizarre ways. For instance both INL and Hanford have suffered unusual radiation leaks from tumbleweeds blowing into waste cooling ponds, picking up contaminated water, and then being blown over the facility’s perimeter by the wind.

The expensive, long-term measures that have to be taken to render a defunct nuclear sub safe don’t seem to deter military planners from building more vessels. “As far as the US is concerned there is no indication that the Navy believes nuclear submarines have been anything less than a stellar success and replacements for the major submarine classes are in the works.” says Edwin Lyman, nuclear policy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a pressure group, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The Russian Navy is planning to launch several new submarines
The US is not alone: Russia has four new nuclear subs under construction at Severodvinsk and may build a further eight before 2020. “Despite limited budgets Russia is committed to building up its nuclear fleet again,” says Bohmer. China is doing likewise.

The submarine graveyards and spent fuel stores, it appears, will continue to be busy.

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and breathe out…….

417KuC5lNGL
Just finished this book and now a few things have to happen –
Number One, having read this as an ebook from the library I have to find a First Edition Hardcover edition and own it.
Number Two, I have to add this to my Top Ten Books of All Time List (no I’m not going to tell you the other 9 because they change every time I think about it!).
Number Three, I have to take a couple of days off before I start my next read because I need to keep thinking about this one for just a while longer…..
and Number Four, yes you need to go out and read it but be warned that it is very difficult to read at times and I don’t think that I have ever said that about a book before, but it is oh so worth it and by the time the scene in Nikitaris’ Fishmongers arrives you will be completely undone by it. Don’t put it down and don’t start it until you have the time to surrender to it. I don’t have the words to illuminate the power of this piece of work but scan these editorial reviews care of Amazon and they will give you a clue.
Number Five – you bet I’m going to read it a second time!

Editorial Reviews
Review
“Some years, very good books win the Man Booker Prize, but this year a masterpiece has won it.” —A.C. Grayling, Chair of Judges, Man Booker Prize 2014

“Richard Flanagan has written a sort of Australian War and Peace.” —Alan Cheuse, NPR

“A symphony of tenderness and love, a moving and powerful story that captures the weight and breadth of a life . . . A masterpiece.” —The Guardian

“I suspect that on rereading, this magnificent novel will seem even more intricate, more carefully and beautifully constructed.” —New York Times Book Review

“Captivating . . . This is a classic work of war fiction from a world-class writer . . . Nothing since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has shaken me like this.” —Ron Charles, Washington Post

“Elegantly wrought, measured, and without an ounce of melodrama, Flanagan’s novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.” —Financial Times

“A moving and necessary work of devastating humanity and lasting significance.” —Seattle Times

“A novel of extraordinary power, deftly told and hugely affecting. A classic in the making.” —The Observer

“Nothing could have prepared us for this immense achievement . . . The Narrow Road to the Deep North is beyond comparison.” —The Australian

“A devastatingly beautiful novel.” —The Sunday Times (London)

“The book Richard Flanagan was born to write.” —The Economist

“It is the story of Dorrigo, as one man among many POWs in the Asian jungle, that is the beating heart of this book: an excruciating, terrifying, life-altering story that is an indelible fictional testament to the prisoners there.” —Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

“Exhilarating . . . Life affirming.” —Sydney Morning Herald

“A supple meditation on memory, trauma, and empathy that is also a sublime war novel . . . Pellucid, epic, and sincerely touching.” —Publishers Weekly

“Homeric . . . Flanagan’s feel for language, history’s persistent undercurrent, and subtle detail sets his fiction apart. There isn’t a false note in this book.” —Irish Times

“The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a big, magnificent novel of passion and horror and tragic irony. Its scope, its themes and its people all seem to grow richer and deeper in significance with the progress of the story, as it moves to its extraordinary resolution. It’s by far the best new novel I’ve read in ages.” —Patrick McGrath, author of Constance

“I loved this book. Not just a great novel but an important book in its ability to look at terrible things and create something beautiful. Everyone should read it.” —Evie Wyld, author of All the Birds, Singing

“The luminous imagination of Richard Flanagan is among the most precious of Australian literary treasures.” —Newcastle Herald

“In an already sparkling career, this might be his biggest, best, most moving work yet.” —Sunday Age (Melbourne)

“An unforgettable story of men at war . . . Flanagan’s prose is richly innovative and captures perfectly the Australian demotic of tough blokes, with their love of nicknames and excellent swearing. He evokes Evans’s affair with Amy, and his subsequent soulless wanderings, with an intensity and beauty that is as poetic as the classical Japanese literature that peppers this novel.” —The Times (London)

“Extraordinarily beautiful, intelligent, and sharply insightful . . . Flanagan handles the horrifyingly grim details of the wartime conditions with lapidary precision and is equally good on the romance of the youthful indiscretion that haunts Evans.” —Booklist

“Virtuosic . . . Flanagan’s book is as harrowing and brutal as it is beautiful and moving . . . This deeply affecting, elegiac novel will stay with readers long after it’s over.” —Shelf Awareness

“Devastating . . . Flanagan’s father died the day this book was finished. But he would, no doubt, have been as proud of it as his son was of him.” —The Independent (UK)

“Despite the novel’s epic sprawl it retains the delicate vignettes that characterise Flanagan’s work, those beautiful brush strokes of poignancy and veracity that remain in the reader’s mind long afterwards.” —West Australian News

“Mesmerising . . . A profound meditation on life and time, memory and forgetting . . . A magnificent achievement, truly the crown on an already illustrious career.” —Adelaide Advertiser
About the Author
Richard Flanagan is the author of five previous novels—Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould’s Book of Fish, The Unknown Terrorist, and Wanting—which have received numerous honors and have been published in twenty-six countries. He lives in Tasmania.

http://www.richardflanagan.com

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Saturday sights

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I’m up to 2 hour stints most mornings in my standing frame these days. The routine is to eat breakfast, read the Seattle Times, then the New York Times, do the ken ken attempt the crossword and at regular intervals keep rolling around because standing still for that amount of time can make you decidedly lightheaded. I’ve worked out that I can put away some of the mugs and glasses into the higher cupboards when I’m in it and wipe off the bar counter. I can also raise and lower the blinds so I try and keep myself amused so that I don’t bail out before my 2 hours is up but it’s icing on the cake to have bald eagles and yacht races to watch like this morning ;)
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Sadly it’s Saturday morning and that still means I have to wash the floors now that I’m back in my wheelchair. Once that’s done I get to read for the rest of the day though because you-know-who is not back until tomorrow :)

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new shoes!

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Not quite the same as a new pair of Jimmy Choo’s but the latest addition to my wheelchair is a pair of holders that strap my feet/shoes into place on the footrest. The sidewalks here in West Seattle are so old and bumpy that my feet would keep coming off the footrest and I’d have to keep stopping to drag them back on again only to have them bounce right off when I went over the next bump. So far so good although we had to move them a little further forward than we originally thought because I have to be able to lean down and use both hands to fasten them. When we first tried it my feet were further back and I’d fall out of the chair trying to reach them – not a good thing! Having my feet a little more forward does change my position enough to make it tougher to go up inclines though so I’ll have to work on that a bit. On the flat it’s great though :)

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Monday morning view

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Got up just in time to see the USS John C Stennis slip past on it’s way out for more sea trials this morning ;)

Yesterday I managed to squeeze in my workout and a shower before heading off to a baby shower where I had an uproariously good time and somehow only came home with this picture of Judy’s amazing deviled eggs with Mom-to-be Lyndsey way in the background. FullSizeRender_2Just goes to show you what a good time I had! :)

And hey, Judy says if you give her black olives she can make penguins too! Now that’s talent! ;)

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Spring Sunset watch

couldn’t see this Springs’ first sunset because of the cloud cover on Friday but last nights’ was gorgeous and I got to soak it up with one of my favorite girls ;)

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Hard at work as usual ;)

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Here I am with my two Class of ’44 West Seattle High School buddies hanging out at The Log House Museum just like every Thursday afternoon. Bill just got back from a month in Honolulu and brought us some chocolate covered macadamia nuts which we had no trouble devouring. On my roll home it started to rain and I was forced to take shelter in the house of the new friends I made when I was out walking with Barb last weekend. What do you mean, was there wine involved??!! hahaha ;)

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