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Posted by Frank Chiachiere

TIBS Link Station, southbound platform.

Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times [$]:

Sound Transit and its allies in Congress say they’ll fight a 2018 budget proposal by President Donald Trump that yanks $1.1 billion to build the Lynnwood-Northgate light-rail extension — half of that project’s entire funding.

The White House policy change would also remove an anticipated $500 million grant for the Angle Lake-Federal Way extension, scheduled to open in 2024, and 12 other projects still in development.

The White House policy change would also remove an anticipated $500 million grant for the Angle Lake-Federal Way extension, scheduled to open in 2024, and 12 other projects still in development.

Not a good development for Sound Transit.  The agency took an additional step to issue a joint statement with Los Angeles Metro:

“The administration’s assertion that our regions can deliver transit solutions for our citizens without federal partnership is uninformed, misguided, and unfair. The voters of our communities stepped up and voted to tax themselves to provide a path out of punishing congestion. For that bold action, they should be rewarded at the federal level, not punished.

It’s too soon to speculate what exactly Sound Transit would do if it lost all federal funding.  Presidential budgets are typically thrown in the recycling bin by congressional appropriations committees, but at the same time this one does represent the ideological commitments and priorities of a large faction of the Republican party, and the Republican party does have near-complete control of D.C. right now.

Earlier this month, Congress got together on a six-month spending bill that restored funding [$] for Lynnwood link and other local rail projects (such as the Center City Connector streetcar), so it’s possible something similar may happen when the budget process resumes.

Meanwhile here in the Other Washington Heidi Groover at The Stranger notes that HB 2201 passed the House in Olympia.  The bill would lower car tabs for ST3, costing Sound Transit as much as $2B.

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Posted by Carolyn Yates

May is Masturbation Month! Here's how the AS staff does it, featuring first time stories, all the weird places we've masturbated, how we feel about that and more.
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Posted by Beth

In this month's Follow Your Arrow, Klara shares the story of her gender-neutral barbershop business, how she made the leap from office-worker to sole-trader, and the importance of building trust in the community she serves.
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Posted by Knute Berger

The Monorail isn’t supposed to be here.

It was built as a demonstration project for mass transit for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair and was originally slated to come down after the exposition. Ideas to expand it came to naught. In the early 2000s, when monorail mania revived in Seattle, it was going to be demolished for a new “Green Line” as part of a new citywide monorail system, until the voters pulled the plug on the plan.

Despite challenges, the Monorail is not only still standing but arguably is more essential than ever with an important role to play in the remaking of Seattle Center.  As the city considers two half-billion dollar proposals to remake KeyArena into a world-class concert and NBA/NHL venue, the Monorail comes up as a critical part of any transportation plan getting people to games and events.

At 55 years old, rather than frail, the Monorail is pretty robust. The trains are maintained in a cramped underground space under the Seattle Center station. Many of the parts are off-the-shelf technology, such the rubber tires it runs on that come not from some futuristic lab but Les Schwab. Good, durable design has kept the Monorail going.

I got a sense of that as I sat in the driver’s seat of the Blue train recently. I noticed two things. First, the control panel is a computer screen that displays the number of miles the Monorail has traveled since the beginning: more than 1.3 million. That’s a bit more than the odometer reading on a used Volvo. Second, as I pushed the joystick forward to make the train go I could feel its strength. With 700 volts of electricity powering it, the experience was Jetsons-like: smooth, quiet, zippy and far above the madding crowd. The train feels anything but antique.

According to Seattle Monorail Service, the private company that operates the system for the city, the Monorail is still a workhorse. During the six months of the world’s fair, the Monorail’s two trains, Red and Blue, hauled some 8 million passengers. The annual haul in 2016: 2.2 million. The Monorail operates 363 days a year and is self-sustaining.

Keepsakes from the Seattle Center Monorail's past adorn the walls of its headquarters building at Seattle Center, which has not moved since its inception in 1962.
Keepsakes from the Seattle Center Monorail’s past adorn the walls of its headquarters building at Seattle Center, which has not moved since its inception in 1962.

While today’s annual demand is smaller than in ‘62, it’s still significant. For big summer weekends like Northwest Folklife and Bite of Seattle, the trains carry up to 22,000 people per day. Its current maximum capacity is about 6,000 per hour (3,000 in each direction). Monorail general manager Thomas Ditty tells me the busiest 45 minutes of the year follows the New Year’s Eve fireworks show at the Space Needle as they convey “the cold, wet and intoxicated.” And servicing the KeyArena is nothing new: the Monorail carried Sonics fans when the team was here before and they still adjust operating hours to work overtime to accommodate KeyArena events, from wrestling to pop concerts.

Still, there are improvements that could expand capacity and alleviate traffic and parking challenges if KeyArena gets more use.

Getting people on and off faster is a major point of improvement. Accepting ORCA cards, selling e-tickets or selling Monorail tickets as part of other event passes (buy a concert ticket that includes a Monorail ride) would help. Having to move everyone through the old ticket booth bottleneck is inefficient. The Monorail, in fact, is already working on moving to electronic payment.

Stuffing more people in the cars is not viable — current train capacity is about 250, with seats for 110. That’s fewer people than used to cram in during the world’s fair. But in 1962, there were no ADA requirements, folks didn’t lug backpacks or push strollers the size of small SUVs. People are also bigger now. Ditty also notes there is an increased number of passengers with luggage because they can quickly link from airport light rail to the Monorail to get to cheaper hotels near Seattle Center. “They can save $80 per night,” he says.

Seattle Center Monorail general manager Thomas Ditty points out the monorail has always run on high-voltage electricity, with oversized rubber wheels that hug the track.
Seattle Center Monorail general manager Thomas Ditty points out the monorail has always run on high-voltage electricity, with oversized rubber wheels that hug the track.

Eventually, light rail will go right to Seattle Center, but people often forget there is already a direct link between Westlake Station and the Westlake Center Monorail station (via elevator). Upgrading the “vertical connection” with a bigger, faster elevator or adding a second one would facilitate getting people from the tunnel to the Monorail station quicker. Better elevators, better stairway-to-tunnel connection and reduced ticket booth gridlock could speed loading and unloading significantly, Ditty says.

Expanding Westlake’s Monorail platform would also help. This has been considered before, moving it out or lengthening it. In the 1990s, one idea was to have it connect to what is now Nordstrom’s flagship store. This is conceivable because the two Monorail stations, the rails, and the support pylons are not protected by the Monorail’s 2003 landmark designation. Only the cars are fully protected by the preservation ordinance. Meaning, station and track improvements could be made without running afoul of restrictions.

The original Westlake Monorail station was torn down for Westlake Park. It was designed so both trains could load and unload simultaneously. The current configuration only allows one train in Westlake at a time. When the station was moved into the new Westlake mall in the late 1980s, the Monorail tracks were moved at a bend that created a section now called “the gauntlet” where the two trains cannot pass each other without colliding, which happened in 2005.

The pinch point hurts turnaround time. If the Westlake station platform was redone and the gauntlet removed you could maybe double the Monorail’s capacity from 6,000 to 10,000 or 12,000 per hour, according to the Monorail’s director of marketing Megan Ching.

Both bidders on the KeyArena makeover, Seattle Partners and Oak View Group, have said that boosting Monorail capacity is crucial to their plans, though their bids do not include those costs. Presumably, they would be borne by the city of Seattle, Sound Transit, King County, private investment or some combination.

The Monorail in Seattle has had a somewhat bumpy ride but has proved to be resilient. With some tweaks, investment and ingenuity, it can continue to carry a big load when it comes to Seattle Center’s future.


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Posted by Casey

These gritty and glittery queer urban fantasy novels feature sex-work activism, genetic experiments, polyamory, erotic antique-postcard painting, sibling rivalry and more — and a ton of queer women characters.

Athena’s Graduation, in Pictures

May. 28th, 2017 06:58 pm
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Posted by John Scalzi

Yup, she did it, and here is the photographic proofa photo set with her (and Hunter, her boyfriend) before, during and after the graduation ceremony. Enjoy it as if you were there your very own self!

(And for those wondering, it was a fine ceremony, and very quick, since Athena had a graduating class of 32. Small rural schools, man. But it was enough time to get all misty-eyed.)

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Posted by Cliff Mass

Every spring it happens---the eastern Pacific, offshore of the West Coast, fills with stratus--and this year is no different.  This norming's Norhtwest visible satellite imagery show stratus/stratocumulus over the offshore waters, with some of it extending eastward  into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and south of the Olympics.   This onshore extension is being encouraged by a weak onshore pressure gradient (about 1 hPa higher at Hoquiam than Seattle).  Small variations in the east-west pressure differences controls our summer weather.

Pulling back to see the entire West Coast,  there are clouds offshore from southern California to British Columbia.  We are all in this coastal soup together.  And for the same reason:  an extensive area of high pressure!

A few days ago, a ridge of high pressure started building offshore (see upper level, 500 hPa, map for 5 AM Thursday.

But as the days passed, the ridge slowly drifted eastward (see map for 5 AM Saturday).  But still impressive.

Building high pressure offshore is good for coastal stratus development in many ways. High pressure aloft is associated with sinking (or subsidence) that weakens towards the surface.  Sinking causes warming by compression, so there is more warming aloft.  Plus, air near the surface is cooled by contact with the cold Pacific.  Both of these mechanism tends to create an inversion (warming with height) above the surface, which is very stable (fights against vertical mixing).  That leaves a shallow layer near the ocean that is cold and moist--and full of stratus/stratocumulus.   Higher pressure offshore at low levels helps to gently push the marine air into western Washington.

Let me illustrate what is going to by showing you a vertical sounding at 5 AM this morning from a balloon-borne radiosonde at Quillayute, on the WA coast. Red is temperature, blue dots indicate dew point, a measure of moisture. Very nice inversion at low levels (temp increasing with height) and shallow saturated layer (temp and dew point the same) near the surface.  The air is actually quite dry aloft (dew point and temperature are separated).

High pressure becomes more persistent in June over the eastern Pacific and low clouds will be a familiar sight.  The result for the Northwest?   June gloom with lots of low clouds and temperatures in the 60s.  Enjoy.

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Posted by Oran Viriyincy

Using the same technology licensed from Alweg, Tokyo’s monorail opened two years after Seattle’s monorail for the 1964 Summer Olympics. It is ten times longer and connects central Tokyo to the airport. There’s that and they also built a bullet train.

NSFW Lesbosexy Sunday Just Saw A Face

May. 28th, 2017 03:00 pm
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Posted by Carolyn Yates

How to take perfect naked selfies, why people like masochism, how much sex (some) people are having, seeing the same faces on dating apps over and over and more.
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Posted by KaeLyn

U.S. national soccer is sporting rainbow letters for pride, super gay sneakers from Nike and Converse if that's your thing, self-care according to the laaaadies, Astrea's Fueling the Frontlines Award are intersectional feminist fire, a new album from artists living in countries where being gay is dangerous or illegal, and more good queer stuff!
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Posted by jwz

Insulting headline aside, I kind of love this:

The forgotten joys of the screen saver:

If screen savers still have an eschatological tinge for me, it's also because of their own demise. We no longer need them now, when our phones nudge us at all hours, our inboxes bloat, and dystopian headlines scorch themselves onto our consciousnesses. Our laptops, when we look away from them, have optimized screen protection with a bland and dreamless sleep mode. What we abandoned with the death of screen savers -- themselves testifiers of disuse -- was a culture that could accept walking away from life onscreen.

Might we call the screen saver an artistic ideal? F. T. Marinetti, in 1909, planted the flag of futurism in the art world with the following declaration: "Up to now, literature has extolled a contemplative stillness, rapture, and reverie. We intend to glorify aggressive action, a restive wakefulness, life at the double, the slap and the punching fist." Despite screen savers' frequent tendency towards futurist abstractions, they revel in the stillness, rapture, and reverie Marinetti despised. Their banality approaches sublimity. Of course, we're now used to the heroic nostalgia with which custodians of culture acquire relics from the Internet's own dusty, evanescent museum. As emoticons, computer games, and GIFs are exhumed and then corralled into prestige institutions to be coated with the respectable patina of Art, we marvel at how what once was ubiquitous or clunky can now be considered aesthetically or conceptually profound. But of all the overlooked digital antiques of the computer's youth, perhaps the most thrilling is the screen saver. Visually mesmerizing, intellectually engaging, and nearly decommodified, the best screen savers achieve the virtues of multiple art movements. They even make a damning statement: the faintest human touch breaks their spell. [...]

You can't consume a screen saver in an instant. You can't fast-forward or rewind one. The genre, its own kind of endurance art, shuns immediacy. Fugitives from time, screen savers possess no real beginning or end. Their ouroboric nature is perhaps why preservations on YouTube, whether ten minutes or twelve hours long, tend to evoke disenchantment. Decades ago, stumbling upon a screen saver in a shared living room -- or perhaps finding an entire office full of them at lunchtime, cubicles lambent with workers' judiciously chosen modules -- likely signaled your own solitude. When you're watching one intentionally, that feeling never arrives. [...]

Then there are the slick stock photographs of fjords and aurora borealis so endemic to LCD and plasma, the islands we long to be marooned on. Screen savers depict what we desire -- often with a Ken Burns panning effect. [...]

If the nineties and early aughts were a time of collaborative whimsy for screen savers, our current era treats them as an afterthought. Inspecting my laptop's default modes, which include jubilant penguins, pastoral landscapes, and the cosmos, it becomes apparent that today's screen savers are designed to tranquilize. That's a shame. The screen savers of my youth told me life was full of rapture and reverie, and stillness, too.

Previously, previously.

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