Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Military center tracking Santa's sleigh ride
By IVAN MORENO – 7 hours ago
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Who says Santa Claus doesn't exist?
The military personnel charged with being the eyes in the sky are certainly acting like he does — and they've been joined on the Internet by millions of believers.
Even doubters have reason to pause when they hear the North American Aerospace Defense Command — or NORAD, which monitors air and space threats against the U.S. and Canada — is in charge of the annual Christmas mission to keep children informed of Santa's worldwide journey to their homes.
"They challenge it, but only to a point," said Senior Master Sgt. Sharon Ryder-Platts, 49, who for five years has been a Santa tracker, taking calls from those wanting to know the location of jolly old St. Nick.
According to NORAD, Santa began his latest flight early Wednesday at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean. Historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. NORAD points out that only Santa knows his route.
Last year, NORAD's Santa tracking center answered 94,000 calls and responded to 10,000 e-mails. About 10.6 million visitors went to the Web site, which can be viewed in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese and Chinese.
NORAD's holiday tradition can by traced to 1955, when a Colorado Springs newspaper printed a Sears, Roebuck & Co. ad telling children of a phone number to talk to Santa. The number was one digit off, and the first child to get through reached the Continental Air Defense Command, NORAD's predecessor.
Col. Harry W. Shoup answered.
Shoup's daughter, Terri Van Keuren, said her dad, now 91, was surprised to hear that the little voice on the other end thought he was Santa.
"Dad thought, `What the heck? This must be some kind of code,'" said Van Keuren, 59.
Shoup, described by his daughter as "just a nut about Christmas," didn't want to break the boy's heart, so he sounded a booming "Ho, ho, ho!" and pretended to be Santa Claus.
Enough calls followed that Shoup assigned an officer to answer them while the problem was fixed. But Shoup and the staff he was directing to "locate" Santa on radar ended up embracing the idea. NORAD picked up the tradition when it was formed 50 years ago.
"If we didn't do it, truly I don't know who else would track Santa," Maj. Stacia Reddish said.
The task that began with no computers and only a 60-by-80-foot glass map of North America now includes two big screens on a wall showing the world and information on each country Santa Claus visits. It took off with the Web site's 1997 launch, Reddish said.
Now, curious youngsters can follow Santa's path online with a Google two-dimensional map or in 3D using Google Earth, where he can be seen flying through different landscapes in his sleigh.
NORAD officials are hesitant to list all the potential sites Santa will visit with certainty.
"Historically, Santa has loved the Great Wall of China. He loves the (Space) Needle in Seattle. He of course loves the Eiffel Tower," Reddish said. "But his path is completely unpredictable, so we won't know."
Ryder-Platts, 49, who has a 17-year-old son, said taking calls from children helps her keep her Christmas spirit.
"For someone like myself, my son is older, you know it just keeps you in touch with the spirit of Santa Claus," she said. "I miss out on that at home so this keeps me close to Santa. I believe! It keeps me in touch with other believers."
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Usually Santa Claus giveth—today he taketh away-eth. It is with heavy heart that I announce the departure of editor Amy J. Ruiz from our news team. While I'm sure she'll regret this decision for the rest of her life, she's moving on to a pretty cool job: Amy will be joining the new Mayor Sam Adams administration as a "Strategic Planning and Sustainability Policy Advisor." I have no idea what it means either—but apparently it's a wonkalicious position where Amy will geek out over green building and neighborhood plans, and make Portland a far better place than it is now.
So congratulations to Amy! We'll miss you terribly! And as for YOU, Mayor elect Sam Adams, if you think purchasing our employees is going to stop the Mercury from dogging your every decision and step, you are horribly mistaken. In fact, our next news hire will make you wish you'd never been born—in a fair and accurate way, of course. (P.S. Hot shit reporters with excellent writing/editing skills should check out the employment ads in this Thursday's Mercury for details, and then send clips and resumes HERE.)
Monday, December 22, 2008
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (CAP) - Search engine firm, Google has agreed in principle to acquire the planet Earth for a record $590.6 billion in cash and assets. The takeover tops Google's recent deal for the web advertising network, Doubleclick for a paltry $3.1 billion.
"With the completion of our Google Earth project, we have analyzed every square mile of this beautiful planet and are poised to take Google to a whole new level," Google co-founder and president Sergey Brin said in a prepared statement. "The world at large will not be able to sneeze without Google knowing about it, and we believe that's a good thing."
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Blue Line trains are running every 10 minutes between Hatfield Government and 197th/Ruby Junction. Buses are serving the last two Gresham stations.
Red Line is being served by shuttle buses between Gateway Transit Center and PDX. One of the shuttle buses will provide direct service between Gateway and the airport.
Yellow Line is being served by buses from Expo Center to Rose Quarter.
All buses remain chained; expect delays of 20-30 minutes. About 20 bus lines are on snow routes or canceled.
LIFT will provide life-sustaining trips only. Check service alerts for updates on MAX and bus service.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
December 19, 2008
By General Manager Fred Hansen
As all of you know by now, we are officially in a recession. Last year, I told you at the beginning of our budget process that FY09 would be a tight budget year and I share with you today, the next fiscal year will be even tighter.
As you know there has been some good news. Passenger revenue has increased by 15% and diesel fuel is $5- $6 million under budget. Unfortunately, we are still making up for past increases in diesel.
Our situation is further compromised because the payroll tax is behind budgeted growth rates. The FY09 budget had assumed a 5.5% underlying growth rate. The actual rate of growth is trending between 1% to 2%. This means $7 million to $9 million less than anticipated. But unlike previous recessions we are experiencing stock market and other market losses that haven�t been seen in the history of TriMet. TriMet�s pension plans, like other defined benefit pension plans, will now require significantly greater TriMet funding to make up these market losses.
All pension benefits are being paid in full and on time. That has been true since 1979. The assets used to pay plan benefits are held in two separate tax-exempt trust funds. TriMet contributes funds to the trusts and independent actuarial firms annually review the plan�s funding status. Although most of the funds have recently had negative returns, I am confident the funds are being invested wisely based on the current market.
To ensure appropriate pension plan funding and to make-up for reduced payroll tax revenue, I have had to make some difficult budget decisions for FY10.
During the budget meetings in January you will be receiving more specific information about budget reductions and constraints, however, I want you to be aware of three major areas for reductions.
First, I am asking for a 5% reduction in continuing expenses in both service and division budgets. This would result in a savings of approximately $11 million.
Second, we will lengthen the pension funding to soften the impact of recent market losses for a $7.7 million annual savings. As payroll tax revenue and the general economic picture improve we will return to previous pension funding timelines. And third, this year we will stop capital spending except for what is absolutely necessary. In FY10 we will cut capital spending for three years by $11 million in one-time only expenses.
As you know, I believe the most important thing we provide is the service we deliver each and every day. The necessary reductions will inevitably require some service reduction in low performing lines. I do not make this decision lightly. We are, however, in difficult and hard economic times with hard decisions to make. I also know that all reductions will impose hardships on each of the departments. I am asking all of us to do more with less.
When I have asked this in the past, you have always risen to the challenge and I am confident you will do that again.
I believe our long-term future is bright. Our economy will recover in time and there will be more jobs on the horizon.
I thank you in advance for the tough decisions and sacrifices you will have to make in upcoming budget. I know we will make the right choices and continue to make serving our customers our highest priority.
Friday, December 19, 2008
No leader for some unexplained reason
Never had as many people crammed in a bus before.
Ran 20 to 25 Minutes late all night
Had to listen to the drone and feel the vibrations of the tire chains all night.
Only the second day I've worked this week but it feels like I've worked three weeks non stop
Had a great time out there tonight, hope tomorrow will be just as wonderful!
I forgot to mention the guy who told me "fuck you" when I told him not to smoke while waiting in line to board the bus. The asshole was blowing smoke right into other passenger's faces!!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Thanks to Merlo Operator Robert Bishop, a select group of operators now have a warm spot to wait for road reliefs at the Millikan Way Transit Center. Bob (now known as Millikan Bob) parked his 1982 Mazda pickup at the Transit Center earlier this week. Drivers with the special access key can read one of the magazines he has left or listen to the AM radio while waiting.
Sunset Bob was elated when he learned of this newest addition to TriMet's facilities. "I'm glad to see another operator step up to the plate and make the workplace a little more pleasant for other operators." "Now if we get someone to take ownership of the Beaverton TC, Willow Creek, and Hillsboro Transit Centers, we can make our TriMet work experience better."
Thanks again Millikan Bob!!