Posts Tagged ‘weather’

Spring sightings

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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I feel like spring wants to be here, but winter keeps shoving itself back in the picture here and there. Today was craaaazy windy out! I look forward to things getting warm for good before I head off to grad school, though I’ll miss things like these…

spring hail outside office window from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

double rainbow from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

loud rain on car from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

ladybug on 8th floor window from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Blizzard 2016!

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Well, we’re almost done with this major storm of the season and it’s been pretty crazy! I happened to start getting sick this week and by Thursday, I was coughing and sneezing constantly. I was glad that we didn’t go to work on Friday and began to hunker down for the storm. All day today I’ve been coughing and trying to stay warm, but I don’t think I’ve made much progress. I did go out a few times to peek at the snow building up. Here’s a look at some pics!

snow level on cars before blizzard 2016

It started around 1pm Friday for us in Loudoun/Fairfax Counties.

snow level on cars one hour into blizzard 2016

An hour into it, we were seeing accumulation.

snow level on cars four hours into blizzard 2016

Three hours later, everything was pretty white.

snow level on cars seventeen hours into blizzard 2016

I woke up at 6 today to find the cars disappearing.

snow level on cars twenty-seven hours into blizzard 2016

27 hours in and the cars can hardly be found.

snow level on cars thirty hours into blizzard 2016

They’re pretty encased, but the wind keeps moving snow around.

snowblower pieces on ground with cable previously caught in blade

The first time Panda used his new snowblower, he ran over the power cable and we spent a long time taking it apart to release the cable.

man pushing snowblower outside on driveway during blizzard 2016

It works quite well, but then the blizzard would blow the snow right back.

snow crusting on windows and screens during blizzard 2016

The wind pummeled snow onto the windows and it became hard to see outside.

snow gathering on porch during blizzard 2016

The porch even got a fair amount of snow.

snow in plastic buckets/tubs to clear porch during blizzard 2016

To remove the snow from the porch, we began to take buckets of it to the bathtub so our neighbor below wouldn’t get all the stuff we swept off.

snow piled in tub during blizzard 2016

Melting snow in the tub!

cat pawprints on cleaned porch during blizzard 2016

Smokey took the opportunity to enjoy the newly cleaned porch.

sidewalk shoveled and recovered by blizzard 2016

Our neighbors were very diligent in shoveling their sidewalk every few hours only to have the snow blown back.

man crawling on belly in deep snow during blizzard 2016

One neighbor found it easier to crawl out to the road.

snow drifts by front door from blizzard 2016

The wind blew a ton of snow to our front door area!

partially-shoveled snow accumulation of blizzard 2016

Panda began to shovel a path out to the driveway.

blizzard 2016 piling snow past windows

On the right is our neighbor’s front door area, which is completely snowed in.

surrounded by high piles of snow from blizzard 2016

So much snow! I was hoping for more than 3 feet, which it is around me, but out in the open areas it was about 27.3 inches.

Do you know what to do in a power outage?

laelene Posted in how to guides, stories,Tags: , , , , , , , ,
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The back story…

Yesterday morning I was woken up from a dream by Panda’s voice. It took me some time to figure out he was trying to talk to me. “The power’s out,” he said. Huh? That woke me up a bit He explained it had been out since 1 and asked if I knew how to open the garage door. I explained it to him and settled in for some more sleep before I had to get up. Moments later, his phone started ringing. The neighbor was calling to ask for helping opening her garage door.

Panda went to practice on our door first, and then called me to help make sure it was done right. For some reason, ours was not staying up once you pushed it. It took a lot of maneuvering to get it to a precarious position where it didn’t start sliding down. Luckily, the neighbor’s was working fine and stayed up the way it should. We both backed our cars out of the garages and Panda went off to work. The neighbor then asked me with help closing the garage door.

It was pretty high and took a little jumping to grab the handle and pull it back down. Once in place, I pushed in the manual lock to keep it in place and we went through her home so I could leave from the front door. She decided to show me the lighter she placed by the gas stove, explaining that she had no idea she could still use the stove! Panda had explained that to her. Then she did something that showed me she really hadn’t gone through power outages before – she opened the freezer door wide open.

She wanted to show me the ice packs she was afraid would melt and start leaking. I quickly got her to close the door and explained that if she kept her fridge and freezer sealed, they can retain their cold temperature for hours. I made sure to emphasize to NOT open either door until the power came back on.

This experience was surprising for me. I thought everyone knew the basics of what to do (and what you can/can’t do) in a power outage. While power outages aren’t commonplace in the US, they certainly do happen here and there, whether due to equipment failures or weather conditions. Haven’t we all been through one at some point? Perhaps not. So with Hurricane Joaquin and other impending weather conditions likely to cause a lot of flooding, it’s likely there will be more power outages up and down the eastern seaboard.

Are you prepared for a power outage? Here are my tips and suggestions:

Before the Outage

-Prepare supplies. This includes everything from extra food (canned or dry goods) and water to flashlights and candles. Don’t forget those long reach lighters! Make sure to have some warm clothing and/or blankets available if temperatures have been cooling in your area as they have been here.

-If you have any sort of health concern, have tons of medication or equipment pieces ready to use. If what you need requires power, it might be best to go somewhere that will have a backup generator and professionals who can help you.

-Get a battery/solar/hand crank powered radio. In case your phone signal has issues, this can allow you to get news.

-Try to fill up on gas now so you aren’t in crazy lines later. Just in case you need to evacuate (and assuming you can actually drive out of the area).

-Speaking of evacuating, throw together a “go bag” with power bars, some water, clothing, and other items you’d need if you have to make a quick run for it.

-Charge up devices, battery packs, and anything else that needs or stores power. It’s always better to have plenty of backups.

-Transfer some ice packs to the fridge to help keep the temperature down in there during the outage.

-When anticipating a storm, bring in anything from the outside that might get damaged or blown away.

-Gather up some books, board games, and other activities you can do without any electricity.

During the Outage

-Once there is an outage, be sure to unplug devices hooked up directly to the wall. Turn off any surge protectors just to be extra safe. Larger things like fridges and microwaves should be fine, so no need to go climbing in some dusty area trying to unplug those.

-Do not open the fridge or freezer doors! Feel free to throw down a rag by the freezer door to absorb any leakage from melting ice, but don’t look in there until the power has come back on.

-If it’s light out and not crazy windy or rainy, go outside and enjoy! If it is raining heavily and that’s why the power went out, grab a book and read by the window or spend some time chatting/playing games with your loved ones.

-Use the radio to stay tuned to any emergency news, especially potential evacuations or worsening conditions.

-If it’s dark out, snuggle up in a blanket, light some candles, and enjoy the peaceful flickers of light. Take advantage of the opportunity to get a little extra rest and sleep early!

-To open the garage door, pull firmly down on the red thing dangling down. This releases it and allows you to manually pull the door up. If you push it past your head and as far up as you can, you should be able to get it to stay there. To close, grab the handle (you might need a chair to help) and start pulling the door down. Make sure you support the weight and bring it down in a controlled fashion so it doesn’t slam down to the ground. From the inside, there’s at least one side with a metal bar that you can push to lock the door in place so someone from the outside can’t open it. Secure that in place and you’re done!

-For those with gas burners, when you try to turn on the flame and hear that clicking noise, light up a flame and stick it by the burner. It will catch the natural gas on fire and allow you to heat up food. Be careful not to get too close when lighting.

-Depending on the severity of conditions, carefully ration the food you eat so you don’t rush through it all. Same with the water supply, if your piping is affected and the water gets contaminated.

After the Outage

-Open up the fridge and check for anything that might have spoiled, depending on the length of time the power was out (say, more than 4 hours). If anything is above 40 degrees, it might be spoiled. The freezer can last up to 48 hours by some accounts, so your food should be ok if the outage wasn’t long. If you’re concerned, feel how warm the food is and make your judgement call on what to keep or toss.

-Replug anything that you’d unplugged and turn those surge protectors back on. Do a spot check of lights around the home. They should work, but you never know.

-Those with garage doors, you can pull the metal lock out and press the garage door opener. The piece will move until it clicks back into place and then you can open and close the door electronically like before.

-And then you can start moving everything else back into their original places too!

-Be sure to restock on anything that got low so you’re prepared for the next one.


I’ve shared what I’ve learned from personal experience. I’ve never had flooding, so you’ll find that area lacking in my points. Let me know if I missed anything else! I personally like a minor power outage since it forces us to live more simply for a little while.

When the weather is dreary…

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,
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We are so listless

We are so down

Lethargy is tangible in the air and conversations consist of how icky it is outside, how tired we are, how awful it all is…

All I want to do is drink cozy hot drinks like apple cider, hot chocolate, and tea. I want a fireplace to sit near, a soft comfy couch. I don’t want to have to think too hard. I don’t want to go outside.

My coworkers feel it too. We commiserate over the lack of light, lack of energy, and short days. Was it this bad last year? I suppose it was, but at least we had a room where we could close the door and turn up the music. This time around we barely see each other. I’m often off in a room or a corner, conducting a demo or webinar. When I’m at my desk, our faces are all buried in our computer screens. The day drags, yet the time still flies. The longest week manages to be the shortest and the weekends never last. Soon enough, we’re at it again. It gets darker earlier and earlier. Oftentimes it’s raining, cold. There’s no hope of getting home when it’s still light out. Oh how I miss the fairer seasons.

Yet, I get home and after dinner the night zooms past. Too soon, I need to rest but my body and mind aren’t ready to. If only there were more hours in the day, right? So then I succumb, finally. Rest is a wonderful thing. While it may be gloomy outside and totally zapping my motivation to move, at least it’s warm in here. If only I could sleep in a little more and just enjoy it.

Thunder and lightning

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog, video blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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The dark clouds were rolling in just as I arrived home today. I had driven home taking advantage of the warm air by opening my moon roof to the sky and sticking my hand out every chance I got. At red lights, I’d blissfully turn my face up to the gathering clouds, watching their ever-changing patterns. It was serene. At home, I spent the next hour gleefully enjoying the air before the storm. I love this weather! (Certainly have written about it quite a bit too.)

As the workers laid bricks on the new homes next door, I dutifully stood outside on the porch with my camera, determined to catch a photo of lightning this time around. I just can’t get enough of how they split the sky and make the whole area glow. Those crooked lines crawling across the clouds, flashing in and out before I can even react… they’re so elusive. I could sit and stare for hours as they danced around me. I really wish I had a panoramic room since I found myself chasing the light of flashes from one end of the house to the other.

After awhile, the grumbling of thunder began and a light rain splattered down. I watched as plane after plane kept coming in to the airport amid all that insanity. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be on one of those planes, watching lightning flashing around me! I’ve always been fascinated by how things look differently when you’re up in the sky and I wish I could have experienced that. Those lucky passengers. As I admired their good fortune, I noticed that I could hear birds chirping. Strange, since I would have thought they’d be hiding somewhere. Perhaps they knew the storm wasn’t that big, so they stuck around to wait it out and sing it off.

What a peaceful way to start the evening. Thunderstorms calm and excite me all at once, and always bring a sense of contentment.

moon shining in distance as storm clouds creep across sky

When I first looked out, I noticed the moon just peeking out in the distance.

glow of light from lightning flash brightening storm clouds

For the longest time I got no more than the glow from a lightning strike.

dark grey storm clouds brewing in sky

That same view without the flash of light!

lightning bolt from Mary Qin on Vimeo.


Construction guys kept banging away as the storm brewed. Here are some freeze frames:

flash of lightning in thunderstorm

thin lightning bolt in thunderstorm

unfocused shot of lightning in sky

Then the one flash I did capture confused my lens and made it blurry.

lightning flash from Mary Qin on Vimeo.


Such a quick burst! Totally explosive.

giant glob of lightning flashing from thunder clouds

cat laying in kitchen behind screen door

Smokey was really enjoying the weather too.

airplane lightning from Mary Qin on Vimeo.


If only I was on that plane!!!

plane flying near lightning bolt

plane engulfed in light of lightning in thunderstorm

small streak of lightning stretching horizontally across sky

I managed to get a little horizontal one!

curling lightning bolt in dark sky

I changed my view from east to north and was rewarded with this beauty. Success!!!

Bird calls

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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Whenever spring rolls around, I always look out for the emergence of birds. Last year they were everywhere! I’m finally starting to hear them again as the weather warms up. It’s supposed to get over 80 tomorrow!

birds swarming tree from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

symphony of birds from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

birds galore from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Winter storm Pax

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , ,
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Here comes the snow! What a crazy snow event we’re expecting here in Northern Virginia. A few days ago when I first heard of it, I figured it’d be another small thing that would pass. But then they started predicting 4 inches, then it grew to 8 and 12 and now possibly 15-18 for higher elevations! I started to take it seriously and today I decided to head out of the office at 6 just to get home before the insanity. The snow wasn’t slated to start until around 8, but by 6:15 I was seeing my first flakes. Check out some pictures from the night…

snow plows idling under overpass waiting for snow

The snow plows were out, hanging out as they waited for the snow to start.

beginning of snow storm with flakes falling on road

Then it started to pick up momentum.

small drops of melted snow on windshield

It was melting on my windshield, but quickly started to stick to the ground.

light dusting of snow on driveway and sidewalk with footprints

By the time I got home 15 minutes later, there was a light dusting. I made some tire marks and left some footprints that were quickly covered.

glittery layer of snow dusting on roof of car

Such pretty snow that is shiny and sparkly! Snuggling in for the night and there’s already quite a bit of snow building up out there.

December Favorites 2013

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collage of december 2013 favorites including home ownership, vitabath lotion, julep, wrapp deals, sweaters, reading, wireless mouse, red lips, cat time, and snowI nearly forgot to get this together before the month was over! Oh boy, it’s already time to think about Jan favs and I’m still putting together the Dec ones…

1. home ownership – As of Dec 13th, 2013, we officially became homeowners. The keys were handed to us and since then we’ve been slowly planning the move. Meanwhile, all our neighbors are in and everyone is wondering when we’ll finally get into this condo they keep hearing about. 😛

2. VitaBath lotion – I got this in my Influenster Rose VoxBox in the fall and boy do I love it! I’ve been using it frequently after showers and I absolutely adore the lightly sweet scent that is also cooling and fresh. Even with frequent usage, I’ve barely used up a quarter of it and it’s wonderful how long it’s lasting me.

3. Julep – I finally caved and got Julep when they came out with a mystery box I couldn’t resist. I was totally impressed by it and will definitely get more, plus I’ve subscribed as a Maven to get some new nail polish colors every now and then. I actually really like the beauty products that Julep makes and will use my subscription as a way to explore them.

4. Wrapp deals – When I first found these shoes, I took that picture to remember to look for something similar. Then I got a great Wrapp gift card deal for something like $12 at Charlotte Russe (which cost me and Panda nothing to send to each other) so I ended up getting that exact style of shoe for a fantastic price. I only take advantage of the free offers in the app, which saves me a good amount.

5. sweaters – Well, my first proper winter in over a decade prompted me to go out and buy some sweaters to wear. I was also goaded on by Autumnfall, who laughed when I showed her what I considered to be a sweater, all proud that I finally bought one. I’ve since gotten ones that even she can’t dismiss as not “real” sweaters. 😛

6. reading – For that period when my life was a hot mess of confusion, I escaped into reading again. My childhood was filled with books and it was nice to get back into it. I hadn’t read fiction in many years, whenever that 4th Harry Potter book came out. I was surprised that I blew through the 50 Shades series the way I did (I thought I’d long since lost patience for fiction since it’s not a business book that I can learn a ton from).

7. wireless mouse – The touchpad on my new laptop gets wonky at times (kind of often). Thankfully, a wireless mouse makes it easy to move the mouse around and strains my fingers, hands, and wrists less. I’m rather particular about the feel of the mouse and I’m glad I found this one for my personal use. I even have a blog post drafted for my pickiness when it comes to this and what I look for in the perfect mouse.

8. red lips – I went through a few weeks when I experimented with bright red lips. It was fun, bold, and playful. I even tried making lip prints like this one on Panda’s cheek. Prior to getting that red lip crayon in my November Ipsy bag, I probably only used red lipstick twice before. Now I’m much more comfortable with something attention-grabbing like that, but usually only at night, special events, and the weekends. Still not a normal thing for me.

9. cat time – Going home for the holidays and spending time with Missy again was amazing. I can’t wait to settle enough to bring her over here. Having a cat around calms me and gives me something relaxing to do whenever I’m home. There shall be no ennui when I can cuddle with my kitty or play around with her. I absolutely love waking up to a cat on my chest or next to my legs, though I may never want to get up for work (or anything else) again.

10. snow – This was before the intense polar vortex/arctic chill madness. It was exciting to get snow again and get to sit by the window and watch it fall down. I’d be happy to get stranded indoors for a few days from a snowstorm so long as I have heat and food. 🙂

Oops, I left out a picture from frolicking at the beach, but I had a whole blog post on that so you can check them out. Returning to Los Angeles was wonderful and a much-need reprieve from everything else. What did you find to be your favorites in December?

365great Day 320: videos

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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365great day 320: videosWhen changes over time or audio components are key to understanding a point, nothing works better than a video to convey that message. Whether it’s watching the sequence of certain actions or seeing and hearing something happening, they’re able to offer a different experience beyond pure visual or auditory things. Today when I was heading back to the office after a morning in DC, I took a few seconds to get to the edge of the Potomac and see the iced over water for myself. It wasn’t until you got close and actually heard the creaking of the ice as it heaved against itself that you really felt the power of such a large surface being frozen. A video can share that feeling far more readily than just a picture or an audio recording. Likewise, with things like the way people move or how their eyes light up as they laugh – these are experiences best shared with the visual and auditory components synced up as they are in real life. It’s far more powerful that way and I’m glad that’s one way we can share parts of ourselves. It makes for far greater memories recorded.

Artic chill

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It’s snowing outside again and the cars are getting yet another layer of powder. Good thing I didn’t wash my car, which I considered doing at one of those gas station drive-thrus since I thought the snow craziness might have ended. This morning it was colder here in Virginia than it was in my hometown of Shenyang and as far as I know, that never happens. I mean, my birthplace is so cold in the winter that it’s like Russia or North Korea. Have you seen what they wear in those countries? Talk about bundling up like crazy. Even the Potomac has frozen with quite a thick layer of ice, which I got a chance to see today when I went into DC to apply for a visa.

So while we freeze our butts off here, let me reminisce about a beautiful spring afternoon in which I went to get the mail and found the tree humming with sound. Turns out there were many bees working quite hard.

buzzing tree from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

busy bee with pollen leg from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

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