The Great Sailing Debacle

B was visiting, and the weather was clear, save for the usual intermittent Seattle drizzle, so we thought it would be a good day to go out onto Lake Union. Despite January’s balmy 50-degree weather, the only other watercraft on the lake was a hot tub boat. The hot tub boat was an incongruous site in the middle of the lake, as though some powerful force had plucked a hot tub from someone’s backyard and placed it in the middle of the lake. We could hear the easygoing laughter of the bikini-clad partiers as we sailed by.

The wind was moderate, so much so that some seaplanes would takeoff downwind. After half an hour of aimless cruising just using the main sail, we decided to pick up some speed and unfurled the jib. B jibbed towards Gas Works Park. I had taken one introductory sailing lesson several years ago, but many things seemed unintuitive to me and I forgot most of what I had learned. I was excited to be out on the water with B, who sailed the busy Hudson River back when he was living on the East Coast. I had a general lack of experience, and I figured after enough excursions, sailing would finally make sense.

Earlier, B had been piloting a larger sailboat in a test to prove his skills. When the boat keeled, I was scared as my head tipped towards the sea, and white froth licked over the side of the boat. But the proctor laughed, assuring us that it was practically impossible for this particular boat to capsize, and it was fun sport to aggressively keel.

But now we were on a cute little sailboat, which, unbeknownst to us, also had a cute little keel (a structure on the centerline of the boat’s hull that makes the boat more stable). The boat was so small that, whenever the mainsail changed sides, we had to duck so that we were not clotheslined by its boom. There was a bit of multitasking, and B kept glancing at the tell tale yarns since the wind would frequently and dramatically change direction.

After more than an hour on the lake, we were at the Aurora Bridge, and decided it would be a good time to head back. We had travelled a good distance back to the southern shore. B was going to tack, but then we saw a couple staff members from the boating organization were headed towards us on a motorboat. B stalled for a moment and furrowed his brows, wondering why they were coming to us. They were probably concerned that we had been away for a long time. The boat was keeling (which we had done many times earlier).

“Are you okay?” the driver of the motorboat asked in a megaphone.

“Yes, we’re fine,” B replied back.

In the next few seconds, time moved like molasses. All of a sudden, B shouted to me, “Pull the rope!” There were many ropes, so I was unsure which one he was referring to. The boat keeled past some inflection point, like a rollercoaster reaching the apex, and now the boat was slowly flipping over and there was nothing we could do. I felt a surge of panic and disbelief.

B and I were dumped into Lake Union, which was cold, but not frigid. Luckily, the motorboat was right next to us. The staff members kindly helped us out of the water then righted the sailboat. They were very concerned and kept asking if we were okay. I was grateful for their concern. But truly, we were fine. We had just taken a dip, it’s not as though we were hit by anything.

All my clothes were soaked through— wool sweater and socks, jeans, t-shirt, thick winter overcoat, and especially my Seahawks pom pom beanie that I wore in spite of their elimination in the playoffs. I was concerned about our phones as well, but it turns out that they are highly water resistant, and at least mine recovered okay.

The motorboat made slow progress back to shore, as the sailboat had to be brought back as well, so the staff members asked some others to bring us back on a faster motorboat. Everyone was so kind and sympathetic, making small talk. They asked how our jaunt was before capsizing, and I gushed about how much fun we had.

Inside, I was asked, “Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, I’ve stopped slurring my words, thank you.” A pool of water had formed on the concrete below me. Some people glanced at me, but were polite and did not stare at this damp, musky creature.

That was enough adventure for me for one day, but B has endless reserves of energy. As we walked back to the car, B remained undeterred, and said we would sail again soon. I have no qualms about it. I never thought that we would capsize, because in all my previous times sailing that had never happened. B believes that, had we not been checked on, then ironically, we would not have capsized. After the great sailing debacle, we’ve learned our lesson, and the impossible will truly be impossible.

When I sat in bed thinking about it, sailing is truly remarkable. People can travel on water with minimal effort on their part, harnessing the wind, neither burning fossil fuels nor generating waste. Not only can you sail in the direction in which the wind is blowing, but you can also travel against the wind. There is so much freedom. We look back on our excursion, debacle included, with endearment.

The Museum of Flight

I visited the Museum of Flight in Tukwila, which has a vast collection of aircraft spanning multiple decades.

In the Red Barn, we learned about the history of the Boeing Company. William Boeing started out building seaplanes, then moved on to building planes with cabins. He built a network of runways to send people to and fro. But then the Boeing Company was hit with an anti-monopoly ruling, so the company was split into two companies: the Boeing Company as it is today which makes aircraft, and United Airlines. William Boeing was upset that the government would want to break up a successful company, and so he ceased involvement with the business.

Great Gallery
Great Gallery

In the Great Gallery, various aircraft are suspended in the sun-dappled hall. One unique aircraft is the Lockheed M-21 Blackbird. Attached to the Lockheed’s back is a drone (the drone is significantly larger than modern drones, such as the 3-foot long drone on display in the Great Gallery that was able to circumnavigate the globe). The Lockheed M-21 Blackbird is the only one in existence, because the other Lockheed of the same model was a complete failure. Its mission was something straight out of a James Bond film. The Lockheed was to fly over the Soviet Union, then deploy the drone. The drone would collect information, then land in the Pacific Ocean, where it would be collected by a submarine. But what actually happened was, the drone was launched, then immediately crashed into the Lockheed, downing both aircraft.

Old Air Force One
Old Air Force One

In the Aviation Pavilion, there is an old Air Force one and a decommissioned Boeing 737 test plane.

Yakovlev Yak-9U Frank WWII fighter plane
Yakovlev Yak-9U Frank WWII fighter plane

In the Personal Courage Wing, there was a Yakovlev Yak-9U Frank WWII fighter plane replica, emblazoned with a tiger crushing a deer with Hitler’s face.

Seattle Aquarium

My brother visited over the weekend. We walked around the city with his co-workers. Coming from conservative towns, they were surprised by the massive turnout for the Women’s March. From the Space Needle, we could see the march stretching from the Seattle Center down south into the city until the view was impeded by skyscrapers. An hour later, after taking the monorail to Westlake, we saw the march was still going strong, with no sign of the tail end.

Marchers blanketing 4th Ave
Marchers blanketing 4th Ave

We visited the typical Seattle tourist attractions. For the first time ever, I visited the Seattle Aquarium. The aquarium was definitely geared towards small children. I found it rather small. Except for a Hawaiian fish section, the species were all native to the Puget Sound. In the tide pools where visitors could touch the invertebrates, I saw a familiar sight: the green anemones and pink algae from the Olympic National Park beach tide pools. The anemones’ tentacles gripped my finger when I prodded them.

Life on the Edge tide pool exhibit
Life on the Edge tide pool exhibit

There was a fish tank modeled after Neah Bay. A diver inside the tank talked about the ecosystem and fed krill to coho salmon. At the end of the talk, the diver asked if there were any questions. A boy raised his hand.

“What’s your question?”

“I like fish.”

Jellyfish
Jellyfish

The flounder glided with an awkward sideways grace. A crab methodically ate some kind of debris off the edges of the anemone. Everything underwater was so slow and unhurried, and so colorful. There was an octopus that remained suctioned to the glass all day. A caretaker gave it fish on a stick, and it grabbed the fish with one tentacle. Otherwise, it remained immobile. The octopuses, seals, otters— they were well-fed, but their tanks were so small compared to the natural environment outside the aquarium. Where would the animals prefer to live, or did they even know any better? I enjoyed watching the otters. They had a lot of energy, swimming on their backs, diving, harassing each other. And they would laze about in a relatable way.

Company picnic

I went to my third company picnic of family-friendly fun. The company picnic is held at a farm, and though the event is tailored for small children, I have a blast!

My friend and I had a paddleboat race with two middle schoolers. We had a firm lead, but near the end we pretended to be tired. Then when the children approached the finish line and could taste victory, we cycled furiously to dash their hopes of winning. I believe no one learned a lesson from that, and life continued on as normal.

There’s a zip line, bounce houses, driving range, rock climbing. I shamelessly queued up with the five-year-olds to go on the inflatable slide, until I had an unlucky run that gave me a rug burn.

weeeeeeeeeee
weeeeeeeeeee

My favorite thing at the picnic is the animal petting zoo. There are goats, maras, bunnies. I rarely see non-humans in my day-to-day life, perhaps a garter snake in the yard or a robin. It is a reminder that the planet has such rich biodiversity, and I’ve seen the tiniest fraction of it.

Holding a chicken
Holding a chicken

Someone from the Reptile Zoo brought a van full of plastic bins. From each bin, he pulled out a reptile and told us interesting facts. For example, the snapping turtle has a bright pink tongue that it uses to lure its prey.

I enjoyed holding the juvenile alligator for the novelty of it. I thought the alligator would be dangerous to hold, but it was surprisingly mellow.

Alligator, picnic #2
Alligator, picnic #2

Alligator, picnic #3
Alligator, picnic #3

It was like holding a baby. An even-tempered baby that is as smooth as a handbag.

When I drive on Highway 2, I pass by the Reptile Zoo. Curiously, its neighbor is a BBQ joint, so we crack jokes about the kind of BBQ served there.

Pokémon Go

I work for a company that made an announcement that Pokémon Go will have a limited contribution to its earnings. The opinions below are my own.

I downloaded Pokémon Go as soon as it was released in the US. At first, I would walk around local parks, and perhaps run across a few other people holding out their phones in front of them. We would exchange knowing glances, that yes, we were catching virtual creatures on our phone. At some inflection point, the majority of the people I came across on my walks were playing the game.

Pokémon Go players at Bellevue Downtown Park
Pokémon Go players at Bellevue Downtown Park

I went to the Bellevue Downtown Park, which was thronged by players. The park’s traffic reached a peak. Someone would yell out a rare Pokémon, such as Dragonite, and a mob of over a hundred people would sprint across the park to that PokéStop.

My favorite feature by far is taking photos of Pokémon.

Jynx at Safeco Field
Jynx at Safeco Field

Gym leader of my gym
Gym leader of my gym

Vulpix at Snoqualmie Falls
Vulpix at Snoqualmie Falls

Bellsprout on a riverbank
Bellsprout on a riverbank

Krabby at Rattlesnake Lake
Krabby at Rattlesnake Lake

Eventually, I got tired of grinding for the ridiculous number of experience points needed to advance to the next level. The battle system lacks the depth that I enjoy in the core Pokémon series. So the game is uninstalled, for now.