Saturday/ summer days

We have had a mild, average summer so far, with temperatures in the high 60s or 70s (18 to 24 °C). The sun still sets after 9 pm .. so even after dinner, there is still lots of time to go for a walk or to water the garden.

In the South and Southwest of the United States a phenomenon called a ‘heat dome*’ has developed, which will lead to historic high temperatures the next few weeks. It is possible for Phoenix, AZ, to see 120 °F (48 °C).

*Occurs when strong, high-pressure atmospheric conditions trap hot ocean air like a lid or cap.

‘Garden Party in Wonderland’ .. postcard from Germany, circa 1930. I found it on a website called AbeBooks. 
P.S. That would be .. apple juice, that the jovial guy in the apron is serving up?

Friday/ mystery bird: solved

I had to scroll through hundreds of Botswana bird photos to identify this white-crested helmetshrike, that I took a picture of long ago. (Googling ‘White bird with orange-ringed eye’ and several other similar attempts, did not do it).

We call a shrike laksman (sayla- ks-mon’) in Afrikaans: literally, executioner. The crimson-breasted shrikes in our garden in South Africa would find frogs or big insects, and impale them on the thorns of a bush before devouring them!

White-crested helmetshrike (Prionops plumatus), Tuli Block, Botswana, Jul. 1988.

Thursday/ hydrangea time

A lot more flowers are blooming on my hydrangea this year, compared to last year. They are as always a deep pink (which means that I have neutral or slightly alkaline soil).
A neighbor right around the corner has beautiful blue ones (acidic soil).

Hydrangea is a genus of 70–75 species of flowering plants native to Asia and the Americas. By far the greatest species diversity is in eastern Asia, notably Korea, China, and Japan [From Wikipedia].

Wednesday/ the future: even more impossible to foretell

I see political science professor Helmut Norpoth — who has correctly predicted five out of six elections since 1996 — gives Trump a 91% shot at winning in November. (The model places an emphasis on how much enthusiasm candidates were able to generate early in the nominating process, and Joe Biden did particularly poorly in the early Democratic primaries. The Cult of Trump barely had any opposition in the Republican primaries).

Hey, professor: add in 11% unemployment/ 40 million still out of work by Nov., and therefore tens of millions with no health insurance in a pandemic, 250,000 lives lost in preventable deaths, and 4x more people needing housing & help with meals than before the pandemic.

What does your model predict for that scenario?

The staggering failure of the Trump Administration and their corruption of the CDC. Where will that blue line be in November?

Tuesday/ another 4×6 ‘escape’

Here’s another 4×6 ‘escape’ photo that I found on a lamp post, of the Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland.  It’s about 50 miles (80 km) as the crow flies from the capital of Reykjavik, and 75 miles (120 km) to drive out there with a car.

Monday/ bare face? please leave

Businesses in Washington State are required to turn bare-faced customers away from tomorrow, Tuesday.
No mask, no service.

‘You can’t have it both ways’. Posted by TheBrownOneInMT@TheBigDad3 on Twitter. This is in Missoula, Montana.
Detailed instructions from the Red Chair Salon (hairdresser) here on 15th Ave. That’s Christopher Walken*’s mug that is used to demonstrate different face coverings. Schedule your appointment online – and no ‘dirty’ dollar bills for payment, please: debit or credit cards only.
*American actor (77). Walken won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Michael Cimino’s 1978 film The Deer Hunter, a movie about three steelworkers whose lives were forever changed after fighting in the Vietnam War.

Sunday/ a sunny day

It was a sunny day (70 °F/ 21 °C) and I walked down to the erstwhile CHOP (Capital Hill Organized Protest) zone.
The streets are cleaned up, but there is graffiti everywhere, that will have to be cleaned up at some point. There are still a few police cars parked on street corners to keep an eye on things.

Humm .. one of my favorite record stores (for second-hand CDs) is located right there in the CHOP zone and is still completely boarded up. I fear it might go out of business.
P.S. Crude language explainer for the picture. ‘ACAB’  stands for All Cops Are Bastards. The acronym goes back all the way to the 1940s, referring to run-ins with the British police.

Friday/ the ‘other’ Mt Rushmore

Mt Rushmore, reimagined by Twitter.

Trump is holding another (stupid, insane) political rally today, this time at Mt Rushmore in South Dakota. In the middle of an epidemic spiraling out of control in many states, there is no social distancing and no mandatory mask wearing at his event.

Besides, noted a political commentator: Trump’s politics of hate and division must fly in those faces of Presidents Roosevelt, Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, carved out of the granite.

I learned today that there is another giant granite carve-out that has already been many decades in the making, just 17 miles from Mt Rushmore: the unfinished memorial dedicated to the Sioux leader Crazy Horse.
Here is a 2019 write-up about it from Business Insider.

The unfinished memorial in South Dakota dedicated to the Sioux leader Crazy Horse. (Crazy Horse is famous for being one of the leaders in a victory against the US army in the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876).  Polish American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski designed the sculpture, thinking it would take 30 years to build. Work began in 1948, and it’s now been 73 years, and it is not nearly finished. The complete sculpture will have the Sioux leader sitting on his horse. [Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Thursday/ memories from Botswana

I cleaned up some pictures from my old 35 mm negative scan archives.
These were all taken in the nineties in Botswana’s Tuli block⁠ — the eastern tip of the country wedged between Zimbabwe in the north and South Africa in the south.

Picture from 1993. Giraffes are the tallest terrestrial mammals. Taxonomists have gone back and forth debating how many species and subspecies there are. Giraffes are native to Africa only, and this one is the Southern giraffe (G. giraffa).
The bush buck (Tragelaphus sylvaticus) likes forests, savanna bush and woodland. Picture from 1994.
This is a giant rock scorpion (Hadogenes troglodytes), native to southern Africa. These scorpions are not poisonous and sold on the exotic pet market. Scorpions are arachnids (eight legs), and their evolutionary history goes back to the Silurian period 435 million years ago. Picture from 1994.
Bibron’s thick-toed gecko (Chondrodactylus bibronii), also called Bibron’s sand gecko or simply Bibron’s gecko, is a species of lizard in the family Gekkonidae. The species is native to southern Africa. Picture taken in 1994.
The Nile monitor (Varanus niloticus). They are found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa and along the Nile. I knew they in this outcropping of rocks, hiding from me. So I waited patiently for them to come out. Picture taken in 1988.
P.S. See if you can spot a second shy lizard in the picture!
The impala (Aepyceros melampus) is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa.
This picture was taken in 1990. We had to manoeuvre through a herd of elephants on the way in to the camp. It made this African elephant (Loxodonta africana) angry enough that he chased after us for disturbing them.
This white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus) is approaching its nest. I see they are now listed as Critically Endangered. Picture from 1993.
One of the rangers at the camp took me to this hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) that was basking in the sun on the banks of the Limpopo river. I had a telephoto lens to catch it as it jumped up and bolted into the river. Hippos are surprisingly agile and extremely dangerous. Picture from 1994.
The most memorable picture I took in Botswana, no question. There were eight of us locking eyes with the big cat from an OPEN Jeep. The ranger might have had a firearm – I’m not even sure. His confidence made up for the lack of a weapon. My dad had a piece of metal pipe that he had grabbed as we piled into the Jeep to go find the lion (Panthera leo). Picture from 1997.
A southern yellow-billed hornbill (Tockus leucomelas). They are common and wide-spread in southern Africa. They use their bills to forage for seeds, small insects, spiders and scorpions on the ground.

Wednesday/ CHOP gets the chop

Early this morning, the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP, formerly called CHAZ) people were forced out of their turf that they had occupied for 23 days. A total of 44 people were arrested.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan had no choice. Two teenagers were killed in the last few days. and three other people were injured in shootings in or near the CHOP, since the protest began on June 8. Businesses and residents had long vented their frustration at the chaos and the noise in the area.

What had been a peaceful protest and street fair of sorts, had turned violent and unsustainable. City workers made quick work of it, removing concrete barriers with front loaders, picking up the ‘Honey bucket’ toilets and dismantling other structures. There is extensive graffiti on the structures in neighboring Cal Anderson Park, and some on the streets and buildings in the area as well. [Post from @jospehsuttner on Twitter]

Tuesday/ only in Florida

I saw this old news clip from 2016 on Twitter. A 99-year old woman in Miami woke up with a strange animal sleeping on her chest: a kinkajou (Potos flavus).

Luckily, says the veterinarian that took care of the kinkajou, it was a ‘domesticated’ animal. (They did track the owners down. Kinkajous cannot really be domesticated, but the animal was obviously used to humans).

Still from the Miami TV station’s video that reported the kinkajou incident. I object to the language the reporter used:  ‘Imagine waking up to THIS (thing) sleeping on your chest’.  Hey: it’s an animal that should not have been taken out of its natural environment.

Monday/ street work

There was an asphalt truck on busy on the corner this morning, and I went to check out its handywork tonight : two new speed bumps and bicyclist sign on the road surface.

One of the two speed bumps, this one on Republican St. The bump could have been made much worse, so it’s just a gentle reminder to slow down. (The problem with big bumps is that they slow down ambulances & fire trucks as well).
Whoah! Watch out for all the bicycles. Electric-assist bicycles can go at a good clip, so it’s a good reminder for cyclists to keep right around the island. I hope those rough hand-drawn lines will fade quickly.

Sunday/ a rainbow bus

I didn’t make it to the Space Needle today to get a picture of the rainbow flag on it, but here is a rainbow bus.

King County Metro’s 2020 Pride bus makes its outdoor debut at Ryerson base. With social distancing, this year’s Pride may look and feel different compared to the past. But as Metro employee Jennifer Mayer recently said, “We’re out, even though we’re staying in!” [Source: King County Metro blog]

Saturday/ Gay Pride – sans parades

Happy Pride!  It’s Gay Pride weekend, and (as far as I know) there is no parade held anywhere this June, in the Northern hemisphere. These pictures are all from around Broadway here on Capitol Hill.

Julia’s on Broadway early on Friday night. (By the way, the light blue-pink-white-pink-light blue flag is the transgender flag).
The old Broadway Grill location had been closed for many years, so it’s great to see it being reincarnated into its newest restaurant, Olmstead. The rainbow unicorn hanging from the roof is a nice touch.
Yes, the famous mid-20th century classic kitsch pink flamingo ornaments are still around. They were originally created by artist Don Featherstone in 1957. When their popularity started to fade, John Waters’ 1972 film “Pink Flamingos” (a movie about bad taste!) put them back into the public consciousness.
It’s nice to see that the rainbow crosswalks around Broadway get a new coat of paint now and again from the city.

 

Thursday/ masks: now mandatory

From Friday, Washington State residents have to wear masks in any public setting where social distancing is difficult or impossible. The governor says he trusts the public will do the right thing, and that extensive enforcement or issuing fines will hopefully not be needed.

Seattle’s King county is doing O.K., but not great. There has been a steady increase in cases in Yakima county.

Infographic from the Seattle Times.
Cases by age are pretty evenly spread in the 20-40, 40-60 and 60+ age brackets.
Deaths by age is dramatically different, with 90% of deaths in the 60+ bracket.

Wednesday/ a juvenile jay rescue

A Steller’s jay made such a ruckus in the tree in front of my house last night, that I had to go investigate. Sure enough, there was a second one on the ground, unable to fly. Oh no, I thought, I’ll have to do something.

I put the struggling bird in a shoebox, and left a message for the wildlife rescue center in Lynnwood. They called back in the morning.  I texted them these pictures, and they said to bring it in.

They found an injury below its left eye; could have been the work of a crow. It was also a little thin and they were going to take care of it for a while and set it free. What could also be going on, is that the bird is just learning to fly, said the bird expert. Most fledgling birds don’t fly straight out of the nest. They spend a day or two on the ground flapping their wings (and hope they don’t catch the attention of predators), and then get going.

I only noticed it was a juvenile in the morning (fluffy feathers on the sides).
The youngster started squawking loudly when I opened the box outside on my deck. Soon another jay showed up – possibly a parent. Jays are intelligent birds with complex social systems and family bonds. They can live up to 16 years of age.

Tuesday/ that tennis party in Zadar: so, so over

Don’t @ me for anything I’ve done that has been ‘irresponsible’ or classified as ‘stupidity’ – this takes the cake.
– Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios on Twitter, commenting on footage of Djokovic and others partying shirtless, maskless and distance-less in a nightclub in Belgrade


The Adria Tour debacle is an exhibition tennis tournament series that kicked off in Zadar, a city on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Only: they did everything wrong, and the whole tour has now been canceled.

From the New York Times: Social distancing was not enforced in the stands during the series, and face masks were a rare sight. Players mingled freely, exchanging hugs and handshakes, playing pickup soccer and basketball, and even dancing the limbo one night in Belgrade, Serbia. At the tournament, players posed for photographs with workers, tournament officials and spectators. No systematic coronavirus testing was required of the participants before the event began, according to the organizers. Some Croatian tennis officials are calling for the resignation of Nikolina Babic, president of the Croatian Tennis Federation.

The result: Novak Djokovic (world’s No 1 player), his wife, two coaches and at least three prominent players tested positive for the virus: Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki, a Serb whose wife, Aleksandra, also tested positive.  Officials in Zadar were left to scramble to try to trace and test people that had contact with those that had tested positive. There had been no confirmed infections in Zadar before the tennis.

Novak Djokovic during a match against Nino Serdarusic in Zadar, Croatia, on Sunday. Djokovic & the tournament officials displayed complete disregard for the risks of the coronavirus pandemic. Djokovic is president of the ATP Player Council and recruited the players. In April he expressed doubts that he would be vaccinated, even if a vaccine were to become available. [Photo Credit: Antonio Bronic/Reuters]

Monday/ quelle belle journée!

It was a fine day here in the city: eighty (27°C) and sunny.
My English-French illustrated dictionary has landed on my porch.
It is illustrated with panels from Belgian cartoonist Hergé’s Tintin characters, which is why I had to have it, of course.

From Harrap’s Tintin Illustrated Dictionary, published 1989. The panels are from ‘The Castafiore Emerald’ (first appearance in newspapers: 1961-1962).
The top panel has Tintin, Captain Haddock, and Snowy (French name: Milou).
The traffic officer is apologizing to the Milanese opera diva Bianca Castafiore, for daring to write her a ticket for a fine.