Thursday/ ten years of light rail in Seattle

Today marks ten years since the opening of the Seattle light rail transit system. I was one of the 45,000 riders that boarded the light rail train for the first time, on July 18, 2009.

The initial line ran from downtown to Seattle-Tacoma airport. Three more stops have opened since then (Angle Lake to the south, Capitol Hill and University of Washington to the north). The next extension of three more stops to the north will open in 2021.

I made a run to the downtown station today, to buy this 10-year anniversary transit card. There’s the train in the background. There are currently 62 train cars in the system. They are made by a train car manufacturer called Kinkisharyo, in Osaka, Japan.

Wednesday/ ‘That means he has no bones’

Trump: ‘I don’t have a racist bone in my body’.
Joe Biden, asked about it by a reporter: ‘That means he has no bones’.


It’s Wednesday, and the furor over Trump’s tweets from the weekend, urging four female members of color of the House of Representatives to ‘go back to their countries’ (all four are American citizens, of course) has not died down.

Hmm. Let’s see. The C fits Completely. The P? .. Probably, I would say. Picture tweeted by Michael James Schneider (on Twitter: Michael James Schneider@BLCKSMTHdesign).

Tuesday/ hey, aster, aster

Ai, aster, aster, vat my hand en druk my vaster,
want my kop voel deurmekaar as ek na jou skoonheid staar*
*a rough translation: (young man to his girlfriend) ‘hey aster, aster, take my hand and hold me faster, for my head is humming, you are so stunning’.
– from the 1970’s Afrikaans folk song ‘Ai, meisie, meisie‘ by Jan de Wet


The aster in front of my house is flowering. Its genus is Kalimeris, from the sunflower family. It was first described in 1825 by the French botanist Alexandre Henri Gabriel de Cassini.

Sunday/ jumped on a bike

I went bicycling with my friends on today, and tried out an electric-assist bicycle for the first time.

The bicycle has three gears, and performed very well. As far as I could tell, the electric assist from the battery is always-on (so no way to turn it off).
On even grades, the electric assist feels a little like cheating! – but it does come in very handy on long uphill climbs.

I’m ready! I found this bike a few blocks away from my friends’ house, with the help of Uber’s app, scanned its QR code with my phone, unlocked it, and it was ready to go. JUMP is Uber’s bike-share service that competes with Lime, the other bike rental player in Seattle.
Here’s Lake Washington, during a quick stop in Seward Park. It was a beautiful day (75°F/ 24°C) with sun and puffy white clouds.

Saturday/ Nadal, 33 and Federer, 37

The Federer-Nadal semi-final at Wimbledon produced an incredible display of tennis — nevermind that the protagonists were 33 and 37 (almost 38) years old.

They have played each other some 40 times, but last met at Wimbledon in 2008 – so this match was in the making for 11 years. In all this time, they both only got sharper, fitter and even better than they already had been at their game, so long ago.

Federer (Switzerland) celebrates after defeating Nadal (Spain) 7-6(3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 on Saturday in the Wimbledon Men’s Semi-final. It was a very memorable match to watch. I love the fan that simply waves the little Swiss flag. Picture from the official Wimbledon ‘The Championship’ website. Credit: AELTC/Thomas Lovelock.

Friday/ we had a little earthquake

Newspaper front page after the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.

I woke up to a shaking house at 3 a.m. this morning.
The shaking went on for only a few seconds, but I was sure it was an earthquake. It turned out there was a magnitude 3.5 quake, and the one I experienced must have been the 4.6 quake that followed just two minutes later.

The epicenter of the quake is about 26 miles from my house.  No real damage or injuries in the Puget Sound area or from elsewhere, were reported.

P.S. The Nisqually earthquake of 2001 near Olympia was several orders of magnitude stronger, at 6.8. It damaged the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the dome of the State Capitol building in Olympia, and Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.

Map and information from U.S. Geological Survey

Thursday/ a double rainbow

Here’s a beautiful double rainbow, that we saw on Wednesday night from my friends’ house in the Mt Baker neighborhood.

P.S. Yes, it’s not your imagination, there really is a second one above the first!

A double rainbow is seen when sunlight is reflected and refracted into its different wavelengths twice (in the suspended drops in the atmosphere). So the observer sees two different reflections, coming from different angles.

Wednesday/ ready to draw hypocycloids

Alright!
My new set of Spirograph has arrived, and I’m ready to draw up a storm of hypocycloids: the lines formed when tracing a point on a disk, while running it inside a circle.

The red tray below has the original classic 1967 Spirograph set. The green ring is from the new ‘Shapes’ set. The ‘Shapes’ set comes in a cheapy hexagonal box and it has putty to fix the rings to the paper (yuck) instead of pins. I’m old school, and I still prefer the pins. I suppose in 2019, parents will sue the toy company if kids stick the pins in their fingers, or in their siblings!

Tuesday/ new Spirograph set .. can’t wait

Here’s a spirograph set I had ordered on Amazon. It should land on my porch by tomorrow night.

It sports 12 outrageously shaped, geared wheels: barrel, trapezoid, pentagon, heart, egg, square, hexagon, star, teardrop, ellipse, shield and star.
The biggest reason for getting it though, I think, is the perfectly round ring (168 teeth outside/ 120 inside), that I expect to be able to use with the 18 round wheels that I already have.

For more than 50 years, Spirograph enthusiasts had two rings to work with: the 150/105 and the 144/ 96. Now there is a third one.

Monday/ a June beetle

June beetles are about 1 in. long when fully grown like this male. It uses its antennae to detect pheromones from females.

Here’s a ten-lined June beetle (sometimes called the watermelon beetle), that had landed on my porch.

They don’t bite, but they hiss and squeal when handled, I read online. (Handled? Who does that with a scary-looking bug? I flicked it off the porch with a piece of paper).

Sunday, sans sun

It was a gray Sunday, with a little rain, here in the city today.
I did run out to go check on the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s gradual disappearance (on-going demolition), and the new buildings under construction nearby.

Looking south from the upper deck at Pike Place Market. No Mt Rainier in the distance, just low clouds.
Looking north. There’s the Norwegian Bliss at the Bell Street Cruise Terminal (Pier 66), just getting ready to set sail for a round trip to Skagway, Alaska. It will be back early next Sunday morning.
The neon sign at Pike Place Market is almost as iconic as the Space Needle. It has been there much longer (since 1935), and was designed by architect Andrew Willatsen.
Nearby is The Emerald, a 40-story, 265-unit condominium high-rise. The mural artwork is for outdoor store Fjällräven (Swedish for arctic fox), around the corner.  (Scientists recently published an article that tells of a female arctic fox that had trekked an astonishing 2,700 miles from Norway to Canada, across arctic ice, in just 21 days).
And how is the new Rainier Square Tower on 5th Avenue progressing? I believe it still has 15 to 20 floors to go before topping out.
I always walk by this building on the way back from Pike Place Market and even though it now sells discount clothing, it has a storied history. It was built in 1940 as a major West coast store for the F. W. Woolworth Company. These the waning days of Art Deco architecture, but the building still has many Art Deco traits. The terracotta and lighter cream colors go together nicely, and I love the styling of the clock with its horizontal ‘wing’ accents.

Saturday/ woodpecker visit

Here’s the woodpecker (northern flicker/ Colaptes auratus), that I see now and again by my house, searching for ants and bugs in the paving, and in the tree. This one is a male, with its bright red cheek.
They eat fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts, but their primary food is insects. Ants alone can make up 45% of their diet. [Source: Wikipedia].

 

Friday/ ‘today was not my day’

I watched a little Wimbledon tennis every day this week.
New kid on the block, 15-year old American Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff, continues to make waves. Today, she clawed her way back to a 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 victory over Slovenian ‘veteran’ Polona Hercog (28), in the third round.

To the disappointment of many (and mine), 16-year old Leo Borg, son of Bjorn Borg, lost at his first bid to make it into the Wimbledon Junior tournament main draw. ‘I was very happy to play, and I am very thankful to play here, but today was not my day’, he said afterwards.

Leo Borg made his appearance on Thursday at the junior Wimbledon Qualifying event on Thursday. He did his best, but came up short against No.9 seeded Frenchman Loris Pourroy: 1-6 and 4-6. [Picture from Wimbledon.com].

4th of July 2019

It’s America’s 243rd birthday.
I plan to ignore the TV coverage of the military parade in Washington DC, and the ‘Salute to America’ speech by Trump! .. but here’s a little impromptu artwork, done with the help of a 1967 Spirograph set that I had recently bought on EBay.

Wednesday/ ‘Christmas roses’ in July

My hydrangea’s flowers are starting to appear. In South Africa we call them krismisrose (‘Christmas roses’) in Afrikaans.

Hydrangea is a genus of 70–75 species of flowering plants native to Asia and the Americas. Most hydrangeas thrive in rich, porous, somewhat moist soils.

Tuesday/ a little rain

We had light rain for most of the day here in the city – a welcome change in the weather, given the dry conditions around Western Washington.
July is the driest month of the year, though*. So we may not see a whole lot more rain, soon.

*July average rainfall is 0.9 in., compared to 6.1 in. for December.

Current drought conditions in Washington State. The city of Seattle falls in the ‘D2- Severe Drought’ area on the map. So far there is no large wildfires burning in in the State – always an elevated risk when conditions are dry. [Source: https://www.drought.gov/drought/states/washington].

Monday/ a Canadian lynx

Happy Canada Day!
Here’s a Canadian lynx being a ‘cool cat’, to celebrate.

The Canadian lynx (Lynx canadensis) is slightly larger than the bobcat, with which it shares parts of its range, and over twice the size of a typical domestic cat. They can weigh up to 40 lbs (18 kg).

Sunday/ Happy Pride!

Happy Pride! My friends and I checked in on the Seattle Pride Parade today, and here are a few pictures.

Here comes the Amazon contingent. (Very convenient that ‘Amazon’ has 7 letters that exactly match the number of colors in the gay rainbow flag!).
I loved the ‘pink unicorn’ walking with the Walmart delegation.
Drug manufacturer Gilead. The giant blue pill in the truck is the miracle HIV prevention pill called Truvada, that have already saved countless lives all over the world. Only thing is: in the United States a month’s supply cost health insurers a fortune (almost $2,000). Gilead generated global Truvada sales of nearly $3 billion last year, of which about $2.6 billion came from the United States. In Gilead’s defense: they have spent some $6 billion on HIV/AIDS research since 2000.
Yay! for University of Washington Medicine, and their beautiful big rainbow flags.

Saturday/ the Stonewall riots, 50 years on

The fight for LGBT goes on, says this logo [Picture from Twitter]. Yes, minority communities need to fight for social justice, but they cannot do it all on their own. They need the support of the majority, or the establishment, before major changes will make their way into legislation and into the mainstream.

It has been 50 years since the Stonewall riots in 1969.

A series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations were made by members of the gay (LGBTQ+) community, against a police raid that had begun in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

The Stonewall riots are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States.