The Daily Troll: 3 more flu deaths. Fire on a 787. Taiko drumming.

Three women in Snohomish County have died from the flu. A fire broke out on one of Boeing's new 787s. Breakaway Democrat Rodney Tom will meet with public, and Democratic colleagues.

By Joe Copeland

January 07, 2013.

3 flu deaths

The warnings about a potentially severe influenza season took on some extra meaning today. Three Snohomish County women have died from influenza, The Herald in Everett reported late this morning. The head of the countywide Shohomish Health District, Dr. Gary Goldbaum, told reporter Sharon Salyer, "To have three deaths at this stage in the influenza season is pretty unusual." One of the victims was in her 40s. Goldbaum said plenty of flu vaccine is still available. Three other deaths had been reported earlier. The state Department of Health's flu information is here

787 fire

People who fly on the new 787s tend to rave about them: sleek, modern amenities (it feels like they know what devices you will carry and want to use, a relative says), maybe even a little more comfortable. But there's a narrative developing around electrical problems, and today a 787 caught fire while parked at Boston's Logan Airport, according to reports by Associated Press and others. 

A Bloomberg story sums up the concerns in striking fashion:

Boeing's newest model has been plagued by incidents since it entered commercial service in late 2011 and suffered an electrical fire that grounded the test fleet in 2010. The Dreamliner is the first jet with a fuselage made chiefly of composite materials instead of aluminum and has more electrically operated systems than other airliners.

"Anything that involves a fire does not get the luxury of being called a teething problem," Carter Leake, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets in Richmond, Va., said by telephone. "Boeing needs to get ahead of this quickly, because now you run the risk of getting into a passenger aversion issue."

The Associated Press account is, at last check anyway, less dramatic than Bloomberg's, so this may require some time to be assessed. At Logan, all the passengers had already exited from a Tokyo-Boston flight.

Ballard sewer overflows

Crosscut has reported on the problems with rain gardens installed by Seattle Public Utilities in the Ballard area, but the truth is that the rain gardens are designed to solve a very real problem: During rapid runoff, heavy flows of rainwater overwhelm the capacity of the drainage systems there and mix with sewage flows. So, untreated raw sewage pours into Puget Sound. The Ballard News-Tribune has a good look today at the size of the problem with rainstorm flows in the area. Zachariah Bryan writes:

If there's one thing that Ballard is good at, it's polluting the Puget Sound. It’s the grim picture painted by statistics for combined sewer overflows in the month of November.

Trendy Ballard? Say it ain't so. Ballard contributes a disproportionately large amount of the city's overall problem with sewage mixing into the regular drainage system during storms. As Bryan explains, the problem stems from the haphazard way sewage and drainage systems developed there over a century. And SPU is having a hard time finding a spot to put a very large underground storage tank to help regulate the water flow during storms.

Eagles on the Skagit

The number of eagles wintering along the upper Skagit River has already peaked for this year, somewhat earlier than normal, according to a weekend report in the Mount Vernon-based Skagit Valley Herald. Things are looking better downstream in the Skagit flats, although that hasn't spared some visitors from disappointingly small numbers of sitings. Reporter Lynsi Burton adds one other unfortunate note:

Things are looking grim for the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center, too, located at the Howard Miller Steelhead Park.

Kelly Regan, coordinator of the interpretive center, said that if they don’t get enough donations and sponsors this year, they will have to close the center’s doors next year.

The Friday school program, which hosted 300 students each January from as far away as Seattle, was the first victim of the center’s financial troubles. The program was cut this year.

Information about the Bald Eagle center, a registered charity that is changing its name to the Skagit River Bald Eagle Awareness Team, can be found here.

Town Hall for Rodney Tom

State legislative delegations often hold town hall gatherings together, particularly if all three of a district's members (one senator and two members of the state House) are from the same party. So, it's not surprising that the three legislators in the Eastside's 48th Legislative District, as Kirkland Patch reports, are planning to meet the public (Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall) together. All are Democrats, but one is Rodney Tom, the Republican choice for Senate majority leader as part of a coalition of himself, one other breakaway Democrat and the Senate's Republican members. It's the Eastside, so doubtless everyone will be polite.

Pounding at Mochi festival

Bainbridge's IslandWood environmental education center held its annual Mochi Tsuki Festival over the weekend, and the pounding of rice into flour was accompanied by another kind of pounding: a Seattle taiko group, Seattle Kokon Taiko, performed. 

A YouTube of the group's self-introduction can be seen here. And here's a bit of the performance recorded on YouTube by Joan Lin:

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Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at

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Printed on January 30, 2015