Wednesday/ it’s still summer

We only got  72 °F (22 °C)  here in the city today, but it looks like Sunday will be warm: 90 °F (32 °C).

Here’s a set of whimsical forest fairytale items that I found next to the sidewalk in a garden here on Capitol Hill. 

Tuesday/ 1984, 2016, 2020: third time’s a charm?

It’s official: 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (age 77) has picked Senator Kamala Harris (55) as his running mate for vice president. Ms Harris’s father is Donald Harris, a renowned Stanford professor and an immigrant from Jamaica. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was an India born Tamil American cancer researcher and civil rights activist (she passed away in 2009).

The pundits say at least part of Biden’s choice of Harris was driven by demographics: he needs women, and African American voters to turn out in 2008 numbers (when they came out to vote for Obama).

In 1984 we had Walter Mondale that picked Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, only to lose big against Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. That was the last time a Republican presidential candidate won the state of Washington. (Good).

Then just in 2016, we had Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket with Senator Tim Kaine, narrowly losing to Trump. (Will we ever forget that in this lifetime? No).

P.S. On the Republican side there was John McCain in 2008 and his ‘maverick’ pick for VP, Sarah Palin.

Monday/ don’t be a Maskenmuffel

die Maskenmuffel
definition of Maskenmuffel:
Grouches that refuse to wear masks, as in ‘Die Maskenmuffel weigern sich, Masken zu tragen‘.

Trust the Germans to come up with one word for the grouches that refuse to wear masks in this pandemic: Maskenmuffel.  The word is surely a contender for top new word for 2020, in Germany.

Translation: Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (Transport Network) takes action with a fine: in the future, ‘mask grouches’ will have to dig deep into their pockets (reportedly €50/ US$60). [Hamburger Morgenpost on Twitter @mopo].

Sunday/ the Model Y

Here’s a black Tesla Model Y that I found here on 17th Ave. It has a range of 315 miles, and sports a very sleek look.

‘While the introduction of the Model Y wasn’t as groundbreaking as the hoopla around Models 3, S, and X, it’s clear it is going to be big. SUV and crossover sales continue to dwarf sedan sales in the United States, and the Model X is probably a bit too radical and expensive for most potential EV* buyers, so the Model Y appears to hit the sweet spot buyers are looking for: an EV with plenty of cargo space and a high sitting position’.
– From a review on

*Electrical vehicle

Black is beautiful, but man! it shows dirt very quickly. If one gets the black paint, one should probably spring for the black wheels as well, instead of the silver.

Saturday/ a 4×6 escape to Kaunas

Here’s another ‘4×6 escape’ card from my neighborhood, featuring Kaunas, Lithuania. This is the old town square, and the confluence of the Neris and Nemunas rivers is close by.

Kaunas is a city in south-central Lithuania at the confluence of the Neris and Nemunas rivers, with a population of about 300,000 people. Lithuania is one of the Baltic states, situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the southeast of Sweden and Denmark.

Here’s the Google Street View image of the picture, from 2012.
P.S. Lithuania has a population of 2.8 million people, and has reported 81 fatalities from Covid-19 as of Aug 7. If Lithuania’s number is a true count, that’s about 1/15th of the fatality rate recorded in the United States so far (on a per capita basis).

Friday/ more protesting, peacefully

There was a little crowd tonight in front of Uncle Ike’s on 15th Ave, chanting ‘Black Lives Matter!’ and ‘Defund the Police!’.
There was no visible police presence, but it seemed the organizers of the gathering designated a handful of ‘marshals’ that kept an eye out for vandals and troublemakers.

There’s Uncle Ike’s in the distance (purveyor of marijuana products). I was not about to wade into the crowd, but it did seem that just about everyone was wearing a mask.
The intersection of Republican & 15th Ave was blocked for a good 30 or 40 minutes, and I don’t know what the buses on No 10 route did to get through or around the crowd.

Thursday/ a little welcome rain

There was a little welcome rain this morning, with mild highs later on (70 °F/ 21 °C).

Pinks in the sky tonight, and in this hollyhock flower (genus Alcea). Alcea is a genus of about 60 species of flowering plants in the mallow family Malvaceae. This one is about 6 ft tall.

Wednesday/ rain on the way

There is rain on the way for Thursday, says the meteorologists.
Yes! I need it to dissolve and disperse the dry moss treatment that the gutter cleaners had left on my roof.

Tuesday/ the explosion in Beirut

‘This is like Hiroshima
– Mayor of Beirut, Marwan Abboud, while appearing to be in tears while addressing reporters a few hours after the massive explosion that rocked the city on Monday evening

As someone said on Twitter: in a city that still bears the scars of a civil war of 15 years (1975-1990), the people of Beirut deserve better than this.
Early indications are that the explosion was the accidental ignition of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate used in fertilisers and bombs had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures.

It looks like a war zone in Beirut. France has promised to send help. Trump expressed sympathy and said the USA would help, but said ‘Looks like a terrible attack’ and ‘It was a bomb of some kind’ .. offering no evidence or that intelligence was gathered or obtained, of course.  [Picture was reposted on Twitter, original source unknown]

Monday/ caramelized shallots

My house smell of shallot onions and garlic.
It’s from a caramelized paste that I had cooked earlier.
The stuff is potent, and enough for 5 or 6 days to scoop onto fried eggs, or use as is, on toast.
The shallot onions and garlic are sliced thin and cooked down in olive oil.
After a while, l add in a small tin of anchovy fillets, tomato paste and salt & pepper.
When the tomato paste has turned a deeper red – it’s done!

Sunday/ wild blackberries

These wild blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) are by the Amy Yee tennis courts where I played a little social-distance tennis today. The plant is a prickly, scrambling, woody shrub, and is actually considered an invasive species in many areas.

The dry summer weather continues here in the city (79 °F/ 26 °C today).
There were clouds and a chance of drizzle on Saturday morning, but it stayed dry.

The average number of rainfall days in July is 5, and for August it is even lower at 4.8.

Saturday/ more help needed, right away

It’s going awfully bad for many millions of people here in the United States.
With 153, 000 lives lost, there is no end in sight for the pandemic.
There is no national strategy to contain it.
The country’s GDP had declined by 9.5% in the second quarter, wiping out 5 years of economic growth.
Unemployment benefits for tens of millions of workers have expired at the end of July.
Mitch McConnell & his Senate Republicans have let legislation languish for months— proposed by the House for additional help from the government to people in dire need.

Infographic from the Washington Post, showing how the bad the pandemic was in the Northeast, but that it has now moved to the Southeast and the Southwest.
From The Washington Post, Aug. 3. Let’s just note: Congress = The House + The Senate. It’s Mitch McConnell & his Senate Republicans that are to blame for doing nothing.

Friday/ decoding street art

I walked down to the former Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone by the East Precinct police station today.

All was quiet with not much traffic on the streets – but right then three police patrol vans erupted out of the police station garage, piercing sirens going and headlights flashing.  There was an emergency somewhere that they were rushing to.

Here’s artwork on the boarded up street corner where CHOP was (Pine St & 11th Ave): a gallery of pop culture characters.
At the back, left to right: Barney Rubble from The Flintstones (first appearance 1959), Luigi from Super Mario Bros., Inspector Gadget from the namesake animated TV series (1983), Ned Flanders from The Simpsons (1989), and The Kool-Aid Man, primary mascot for Kool-Aid (1975).
In front, left to right: Rocko the wallaby from Rocko’s Modern Life (1993), Nibbler from the cartoon series Futurama (1999), Underdog from the animated movie (2007).
And this one makes one wonder what Anti-Anti-Antifa would mean. Well: Antifa is short for anti-fascist* or anti-fascism. So Anti-Antifa would presumably support a right-wing fascistic stance, and Anti-Anti-Antifa would bring us back to a reiterated Antifa. (Just as in math, where a double negative becomes a positive).
*Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe [Wikipedia].

Thursday/ John Lewis laid to rest

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.
– John Lewis (80), in an essay he wrote shortly before his death on July 17.

Civil rights icon and former congressman John Lewis was laid to rest today after three former presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama) had delivered eulogies for him at a service in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Sunday March 7, 1965: Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) Chairman John Lewis (far right) and Hosea Williams of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) lead peaceful voting rights demonstrators across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. | © Alabama Department of Archives and History.  Photo by Tom Lankford, Birmingham News.
Minutes later, with white onlookers cheering them on, Alabama State troopers in riot gear brutalized and trampled unarmed men, women and children, beating them with clubs and unleashing tear gas. Lewis was hit on the head and fell to the ground and when he tried to get up, was struck again, leaving him unconscious.

Wednesday/ a slice of Irish

My Tintin book in Irish landed on my porch today.
Irish (written Gaeilge in Ireland and pronounced ‘gail-gyuh’) is spoken by some 2 million* people in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
It has been the dominant language of the Irish people for most of their recorded history, with inscriptions in primitive Irish of the names of people going back to at least the 4th century.

*These are level 2 speakers with some knowledge of the language. There are fewer than 100,000 daily speakers (outside the education system).

Here’s my little collection of objects in the house with an Irish connection: Kerrygold pure Irish butter, McCann’s Irish oatmeal, the Waterford crystal paperweight that I had bought in Dublin in 2013; the Tintin adventure ‘King Ottokar’s Sceptre’, translated into Irish as ‘Slat ríoga Ottokar‘ (2019), from the original 1939 version in French.
Here is the panel again with the English words. Tintin has detectives Thomson & Thompson on the back of the bike in a hot pursuit, one of them holding his dog Snowy.
This time around, the English reader will find it impossible to decipher the meaning of the Irish words (compared to the Scots translation, which can be made out, for the most part).
The clumsy detectives Thomson & Thompson are called Mac Grianma & O’Grianma in the Irish translation. (Mac means ‘son of’ and so does O’).
Tintin’s dog Snowy is Báinín, which is the Irish word for a collarless reverseless unlined man’s jacket made of white close-woven wool.

Tuesday/ the frenzy of the VP sweepstakes

Who will Joe Biden pick as 2020 Vice-Presidential running mate?
Well, we know it’s going to be a woman: Biden said it will be, some time ago.
Some political experts say that he has taken care of the ‘heavy lifting’ already, in terms of commiting to picking a woman. That would build on the success of female Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections, and be a nod to  empowering women in politics (and a thorn in Trump’s side). So it does not matter too much which woman he chooses.

Here’s the political betting site PredictIt giving California Senator Kamala Harris a 58% shot, and former national security advisor Susan Rice 27%. Senator Elizabeth Warren is a distant third. The wonderful thing is that a Biden win, will have him replace all the incompetent nincompoops in the Trump cabinet with talented and experienced people.
So how does this site work? Well, you can buy shares at the price listed, and if the event turns out in your favor, you get $1 per share (minus a fee). If your candidate loses, you lose all your money!

Monday/ toasty

There was nary a cloud in the blue sky today, and at Seattle-Tacoma Airport a high of 94°F (34.5 °C) was recorded.

My asters (genus: Kalimeris) don’t seem to mind the heat.

Sunday/ waiting for a little rain

The white stuff on my garage roof will kill the moss that had taken hold on it, but it needs a little rain to dissolve in.
The crew that had put it on (it’s environmentally friendly, they assured me), will be back in 4 to 6 weeks to brush off the moss and clean out the gutters.
I will have to be patient: July and August are the driest months in Seattle, each with about 1 in. of total rainfall, on average.

This picture is from Wednesday. We have had clear blue skies the last few days, and that will continue for a few more. Monday’s high will reach 86°F (30 °C) here in the city.

Saturday/ more rioting & vandalism

Some 45 people were arrested here in Seattle today, and several police officers were injured in scuffles with the protestors.
We could hear the helicopters hovering, sirens that were wailing at times, and loud flash-bang explosions, a dozen times or so.

A handful of people vandalized a Starbucks on 12th Ave and set fire to construction trailers at the site of the new juvenile detention center nearby. It seems to me that the vandals are doing serious damage to the Black Lives Matter message of the peaceful protestors, as well.

Major damage at the 12th Ave & Columbia Street Starbucks. Starbucks does not deserve this and I’m not sure why they were targeted. When there was an incident at ONE of the thousands of Starbuckses a year or two ago (two African-American customers asked to leave unless they buy something), the entire company shut was down for a half-day to train baristas and managers to be more aware of their biases, and to treat everyone with respect.
One of the construction trailers at the new juvenile detention center site were still smoldering as we walked by tonight. Someone there told us that the fire brigade was on the way to come and squelch it. King County Executive Dow Constantine has committed to get all incarcerated youth out of the city’s youth jails by 2025.

Friday/ Tintin, in Scots

Some of the Adventures of Tintin tales have now been translated into Scots*.
So of course, I had to add one of these books to my collection.
I ordered it on

*Scots is spoken in Scotland and parts of Ulster in Ireland. It is sometimes called Lowland Scots to distinguish it from Scottish Gaelic, the Goidelic Celtic language that was historically restricted to most of the Highlands, the Hebrides and Galloway after the 16th century. [Source: Wikipedia]

The 2019 translation into Scots is titled ‘Auld King Ottokar’s Sceptre‘ (Old King Ottokar’s Sceptre), just to distinguish the title of the book from the English translation, I suspect.
The King Ottokar’s Sceptre adventure is the 8th in the series. It was published in French in 1939, and first translated into English in 1958.
Alright, here’s a panel from ‘King Ottokar’s Sceptre’ (English). Tintin has the bungling detectives Thomson & Thompson on the back of the bike, one of them holding his dog Snowy. (The text is in Herge’s handwritten font, now digitized and called Remi).
Now look at the 2019 Scots translation: still quite understandable, right? It helps that it is written only, so the English reader does not ‘hear’ the Scottish accent. It is also an illustration that even in languages as close as English & Scots, differences and nuances emerge in the the two translated versions. The detectives are called Nesbit & Nisbet in the Scottish translation, and Snowy is Tarry.