Archive for January, 2008

Additional evidence of my creeping insanity…

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

For the second year in a row, I decided to suspend common sense even more than usual, and participate in the Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Washington Special Olympics. Each year, approximately 100 of us from around the Tri-Cities jump into the January waters of the Columbia River in Kennewick, then swim or dog paddle our way back to shore in search of a warm towel and a hot cocoa.

Last year I did my first plunge, and raised nearly $1,700 for Special Olympics. I also found out that it’s a lot of fun.
So this year, the big day dawned, foggy and cold (27 F) but not bitterly so. Still, not a day you’d normally hope to jump in the river.

Laura and I went out for our usual Saturday morning routine down at the bagel shop — I read the local paper over breakfast of an “everything” bagel for me, toasted with smoked salmon cream cheese, Laura reads whatever book she’s working on while nibbling on a raisin bagel. We did so with a bit more urgency than usual, since I had some errands to run before heading down to registration at 10:30 a.m.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

By the time we got to the park, the fog had burned off, and the thermometer read 37 degrees F (where it pretty much topped out for the day). The sun broke through a high overcast and I felt almost like I was getting away with something, especially knowing that it was probably colder in Atlanta than up here at 46 degrees N latitude!

Here’s the scene we found when we arrived:

This year, I jumped as part of a team — “Team Battelle,” made up of co-workers from the Laboratory. We gathered in the sidelines during the preliminary festivities, and I tried to reassure them that this would all be a lot of fun.

Thereby assuring that I’ll have even less credibility around the office than I do already.

In our region, the Plunge is co-sponsored by Law Enforcement agencies, so they are out in various forms and functions, both as polar bears and to keep the polar bears safe:

Some of them even did a little impromtu line dance in the water. Got to get that blood moving!

As the time neared, I always have a brief moment where I wonder WTF I have gotten myself into. This is what that looks like:

At around 11:50, they announced the costume contest. I didn’t wear a costume this year, but this guy did:

Then, around noon, Santa paid for his elaborate costume by being the first to jump — er, get pushed, into the water:

The next group in was, I think, local law enforcement (the badge taped to the guy’s chest is a clue).

The guy getting carried in is the chief of police, if memory serves me…

The little girl on daddy’s back is our youngest polar bear cub — only 4 years old. Don’t worry — ALL of us felt like she looks for a few minutes. You get over it quickly.

Finally, it was time for Team Battelle to jump in. Somehow, I always get stuck at the deep end of the dock, even though I’m a poor (slow) swimmer.

I wasn’t about to take the Nikon into the water (besides, my son Sean was very capably using it to take these pics) but I did bring along a disposable waterproof camera:

which afforded me a view from the dock:

finally, the count down came: 3 – 2 – 1….

Remember I told you that we ALL looked like someone had taken our candy away?

Proud to say, though, that I still had the presence of mind to stop when my feet found bottom, and take a picture. But I’m a slow swimmer so it’s mostly of butts:

But by the time I got my feet on dry ground, it was all smiles!

All in all, our group raised more than $4,000 — not bad for a bunch of nerds!
That’ll keep you warm.

The endorphin rush was every bit as good as I remembered from last year. What a great time! And the timing was perfect — 4 hours later, the rain started, the wind kicked up….and of course the sun went down. In fact, here’s what the morning looked like on Sunday:

What a difference a day makes!

Thanks again to all who donated. Remember that the fundraising site remains active until mid-February. So you can still donate if you want to!

January 2008 Update

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Well, the holidays are over with. My kids will be heading back to college soon. I’m back at work. Might as well get the blog updated!

Just a few updates on things:

I’ve gotten holiday letters or news from one or two of you, and promised to pass these along. So here you go:

  • John Webber’s holiday blog from Munich. Interesting stuff — would you believe that John recently finished his first half-marathon? John will be visiting the US in May 2008, by the way, and we are discussing the possibility of some sort of get together for his friends at that time, since he doesn’t make it back to the US all that often.
  • Daneen Dustin has published a novel! Here’s what Daneen has to say about that:

    “…the title is Secret of the Covenant and the ISBN is 978-0-9783483-5-9 *smile* It is available at Barnes and Noble,, Borders Online, Ingram, Bakers and Taylor etc…. I do have some available if anyone would like one that has my signature *smile* I have been so excited about this book and now another author from Canada and I are working on a sequel to it. That one will be called Highland’s History. You can give my email address for anyone who would like to get ahold of me for a copy of Secret of the Covenant *smile* I am donating 10 percent of the profits to the Ronald MacDonald House. My daughter’s son was a couple of months premature and while he was in the Neonatal Intensive care unit, my daughter stayed at the Ronald MacDonald House. We are SO grateful to them for that and I was amazed at just how much they help the families of loved ones who are in the hospital.

  • Sharon (Verg) Johnson reports that she has, at age 50, obtained her Master’s degree. Here’s what she has to say about that:

    “I finally, after so many years, have completed my MBA and will be accepting a blank peice of paper to symbolize the diploma granted for that acheivement. After all fees are covered they will send me the “real” deal.

    Of course there will be the obligatory photo opportunity with Secretary Donna Shalala who is now the President of the University of Miami. Available for purchase at a nominal charge – of course.

    I am excited to have hit the milestone. BS at 35, MBA at 50, at this rate I’ll be 65 before I get my PhD…”

    I had to remind Sharon that she’ll still get her PhD before I do….

  • Steve Conlon sent a brief update, and asked me to share it:
    • “…If you are doing a Class of 76 holiday update, here is a picture of my family at my oldest son’s HS graduation in June 2007. He is now a freshman at University of California Santa Cruz, major undecided with an emphasis in surfing and lacrosse. My younger son (the one that looks a lot like I did at Mariner) is a HS freshman (surfing and lacrosse as well), and my daughter is a 6th grader (playing clarinet in band, just like the old man, but she is a swim-teamer and not a golfer). My wife Vicki and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary next year. See what happens when you paddle up to a surfer girl and start up a conversation!”

    • I have, as usual, put a family Christmas letter online on another corner of this bizzare collection of stuff that is If you’re interested in meeting my family, or seeing lots of pictures of people fishing — well, that would be the place to do so!
    • As I announced late last year, a reunion planning committee meeting was held at Zippy’s in Everett, on December 14, 2007. Despite some no-shows and last minute schedule conflicts (one of the perils of planning something like this during the holidays), a few intrepid souls showed up — specifically Kevin Hayes (who was also very involved in the planning of the 30th reunion) and Chris Huddleson. My son, Ryan, also sat in on the meeting, as did Zippy the Dalmation.
    • Chris is teaching in the Edmonds School District these days, and plans on being at the next reunion. I’ve included a photo (below), demonstrating yet again that you can dress me up, but can’t make me pretty.
    • Basically, it’s too early to do any serious planning for the 35th reunion, but we all agreed that developing the mailing list was a priority. Chris came up with the idea to post the list of people we DO know about, which I’ve now done.
    • I should note: we will try this again once or twice per year — but will avoid trying to do something close to Christmas, as people’s schedules are simply too busy. Several people expressed an interest in attending but couldn’t due to family obligations. Live and learn.

    Mariner High School Class of 1976 35th Reunion Planning

    That’s about it for now, boys and girls. Expect to hear back from me sometime around late April 2008, with an announcement of another informal “planning committee” meeting (as always, just an excuse to get old friends together). We’re kinda-sorta-maybe thinking of something in the second week of May, to coincide with John Webber’s visit to the US.
    And as always, if you have anything you wish to share with your former classmates from Mariner High, feel free to send stuff to me to pass along via this blog.

    take care of yourselves….

    Scott Butner
    Deputy rabble-rouser and improbable cheerleader
    MHS Class of 1976