Summer Conference Marathon

The solstice is a few days away yet, but the unofficial start of summer is traditionally Memorial Day, when days become longer and travel is easier. And, travel we have, despite the average price of gasoline hovering around $4. If time is nature’s way of preventing everything from happening all at once, it isn’t working this year.

Olympia Weavers Guild display at ANWG 2011

The month of June opened with a quick dash south from the southern reaches of Puget Sound, down the Cowlitz River, up the Columbia and Willamette rivers, between the capitol cities of Washington and Oregon, accompanied by frequent showers. Our destination was the biennial ANWG conference. The Association of Northwest Weaver’s Guilds (the initials of which are pronounced “anweg”) combines tutorials with a showcase and trade show. Having limited time, we went for the showcase–displays by each of the member guilds–and the trade show. We’re members of two of the guilds, the Tacoma Weavers Guild and the Olympia Weavers Guild. The Nice Person contributed to the Olympia display, which won the award for best interpretation of the conference theme, “Exploring Fiber Horizons.”

Judy with her "challenge of the day" project at the quilting retreat

After spending way too much money at the vendor show on tools and yarn and drooling over looms we can’t afford, we headed northwest to Montana, where the Nice Person attended the Jackie Robinson quilting retreat at Lakeside, on Flathead Lake and the Unix Curmudgeon plied his trade at his primary client’s site further south and did a bit of pruning on winter-damaged trees and shrubs at the old house, including opening the sprinkler system for the season. The quilt retreat is actually a marathon exercise in which the 40-odd attendees focus on assembling extremely complex and beautiful quilts, inspired by brief glimpses of the stunning landscape.

The Unix Curmudgeon spent most of the week in meetings, bracketed by coding and testing to recover files from a damaged backup archive, for the second time this year. More on this phenomenon later: it is almost inevitable to have errors in very large data sets, and new techniques need to be devised to ensure the integrity of data that takes days to write and results in a structure many terabytes in size. The meetings were largely to discuss implementing policy and infrastructure to support handling and preservation of large data sets.

Record snowpack turns our "intermittent watercourse," a dry swale for the past few decades, to a babbling brook during late spring runoff..

At the end of the Montana week, we spent a day at the Big Sky Fiber Fest in Hamilton, where the Nice Person took a class in Magic Warp, then headed north to open up our tiny cabin (formerly the Y2K Bunker) in the Mission mountains south of Flathead Lake, where the melting record snowpack has turned what is marked on the topo maps of our property as an “intermittent watercourse” into a babbling brook winding through what has been a dry swale for the quarter-century we have been associated with this area. The stream was rapidly cutting through the road above and the neighbor’s driveway below. A few hundred meters to the south, the saturated earth had created a sinkhole in the road and inundated another neighbor’s basement. We watched in amazement as the mountainside oozed trickles and torrents that combined into streams and rivers dropping toward the sea, explaining why the spillways of all the dams along the Flathead, Clark Fork, Pend Oreille, and Columbia rivers are wide-open.

Returning to Washington down the Clark Fork and Pend Oreille rivers, across the coulees marking the path of the great deluges of Glacial Lake Missoula, and up the Wenatchee over the Cascades, we repacked our suitcases–after a quick visit with grandkids–and headed back south to Portland, the City of Roses, for the USENIX Federated Conferences Week, where the Unix Curmudgeon spent two intense days in tutorials on Linux security and performance tuning, while the Nice Person toured the city’s historic and shopping districts.

The City of Roses, from the Pittock Mansion

Escaping Portland during rush hour, we arrived home at dusk, just in time to get ready for the annual Olympia weavers picnic the next day. We have a couple of weeks of “taking care of business” and wading through a mound of mail at Chaos Central before heading east again. Oh, yes, we did get in two brief shakedown cruises on the big Green Machine in Montana, then it went back into its trailer for the trip home: somewhere in the next two months, we need to train for our September tour in Upper Michigan.