Confession: I did not set my alarm to 5 am Seattle time to catch the TV coverage of the royal wedding. No matter – it was replayed later, with no detail too minute to mention.
Oprah feared her original dress would photograph ‘too white’, so British designer Stella McCartney and her team worked through the night to make a new one. The wedding cake had elderflower cordial in. Meghan Markle’s wedding band was made of Welsh gold, donated by the Queen. The prince and his bride had modern vows with no ‘honor and obey’ in.
I got my first of two shots, of a new shingles vaccine called Shingrix, yesterday. My left shoulder was sore for a good day or so. I thought o-ouch! every time I lifted up my arm, but I am much better today.
The vaccine is effective, and strongly recommended for everyone over 50. Shingles can be a debilitating affliction with long-term consequences. This new vaccine has an adjuvant (agent) that will boost the body’s response to it, and it does not contain the live virus – just parts of the dead virus.
The Space Needle’s $100 million renovation project is coming to a close. Crews have started to remove the covers on the top. The paneling that is obscuring the rotating glass floor will be removed over the next four weeks as well.
Update Fri 5/18: All the construction wrap was removed by Friday morning.
I saw this jay sitting on my garage roof this morning, so I ran upstairs and snapped the Mr Jay Bird from my bedroom window. This one is called a Stellar’s jay, named after German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller. (Blue jays are close relatives, but a different species. Their feathers are mid-blues and they have a ‘black necklace’ on their off-white throats).
We hit 85°F (29°C) on Sunday – but now we are back to normal May temperatures of around 68°F (20°C). It’s great to have daylight left after dinner (sunset is at 8.40 pm). That way I can escape from my house and the relentlessly bad Trump Administration news on cable TV. (Yes, I know: I should just turn it off).
The Seattle City Council passed a controversial ‘head’ tax on large businesses in the city today (a tax per employee, instead of a payroll tax). The tax is about half of the original proposed amount, and will sunset in 2024. It is meant to address homelessness and affordable housing.
The Downtown Seattle Association (business association) does not support it, though*, and Amazon is still not happy about it, either. However, Amazon will resume construction on a building that it had halted, to protest the much larger head tax that was originally proposed.
*Nor do residents, with only 38% in support of the tax, per a poll by a local TV station. Critics – and Amazon – point out that the City of Seattle revenues have grown dramatically from $2.8 billion in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2017, and will be even higher in 2018. Why is this not enough?
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted last week, causing lava at 2,200 °F (1,204 °C) to burst through cracks, and into people’s backyards in the Leilani Estates neighborhood on the Big Island. So far 36 structures, including 26 homes, have been destroyed.
Residents and the Hawaii National Guard are now on standby for a possible evacuation of 2,000 people. The lava level inside the volcano could drop below sea level. Once that happens, water will pour onto the lava, and generate steam that will likely explode from the summit in a shower or rocks, ash and sulfur dioxide gases.
We now know Trump’s Swamp Administrator and beleaguered Lawyer-Fixer, Michael Cohen, ran a slush fund* that had received large payments from the likes of AT&T, drug company Novartis and a Korean aerospace company.
*Cohen set up a limited-liability corporation called Essential Consulting LLC, that had no employees, and offered no official services.
Then there is the $500k contribution from investment firm Columbus Nova, with a connection to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg (who is surely connected to Putin). The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Vekselberg and his Renova Group and reportedly froze between $1.5 billion to $2 billion of their U.S. assets.
Special Counsel Mueller’s investigators knew all of this months ago. It is not yet public knowledge what Trump’s involvement was in Cohen’s activities, and where all the slush fund money ultimately ended up. But we will surely find out.
WASHINGTON — President Trump announced on Tuesday that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and is preparing to reinstate all sanctions it had waived as part of the accord. The administration is planning to impose additional economic penalties as well.
The decision unravels the signature foreign policy achievement of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and isolates the United States from its European allies.
REPORTER: Mr. President, how does this make America safer? How does this make America safer?
TRUMP: Thank you very much. This will make America much safer. Thank you very much.
(ME: Answer the $%@# question).
Here is President Obama’s response to the withdrawal from the agreement:
Residents of Cape Town recorded a record low water usage of 505 million litres (133 million US gals) for the city per day for last week. Still, the target is 450 million litres per day (50 litres/ 13 US gallons per person per day).
Day Zero (no water for faucets) continues to be pushed out, and the winter rainy season has started – but it is still uncertain how much rain it will bring.
My walkabout today was in South Lake Union, the area next to Seattle’s downtown that is a booming hub for Amazon, Google and the biotech industry. The new Denny Substation and duct banks under the streets (for power distribution) are scheduled for completion in late summer.
Bryan and I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island today, to visit our friend Paul on the Kitsap Peninsula to the north. The ferry passed by a container ship called the North Star, from the TOTE Maritime Alaska company. The ship provides twice weekly shipments to Alaska, from the Port of Tacoma.
The price of a hot dog at Costco — $1.50 with a giant cup of soda — has not changed since 1985. So I had to snap a photo of it in the little food court section while I stopped by there today!
Costco is a no-frills warehouse store chain (488 locations in the US) that was founded in Seattle in 1983. Shoppers pay an annual membership fee ($60) to be able to buy anything from food and household items (usually in bulk quantities), to watches to TVs, at low prices. The store has 75 million members nationwide. Ardent fans love the ‘treasures’ they find at stores: electronics, appliances or other less frequent purchases offered at extremely good prices.
Karl Marx was born on May 5, 1818, in the southern German town of Trier (at the time Trier was in the Kingdom of Prussia). To celebrate the bicentennial of his birthday, the town issued a souvenir zero euro bill, that proved to be very popular. (I am tempted to buy one on E-bay).
I also need to brush up on my understanding of Marxism. The Wikipedia entry is probably a good start: Marxism holds that human societies develop through class struggle. In capitalism, this manifests itself in the conflict between the ruling classes (known as the bourgeoisie) that control the means of production and the working classes (known as the proletariat) that enable these means by selling their labor power in return for wages. .. Marx predicted that, like previous socio-economic systems, capitalism produced internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system: socialism.
Here in the United States socialism is a toxic word, but man! since the 1980s, the forces of capitalism have resulted in a very unequal sharing of prosperity (no real wage increases for middle class worker, and spectacular riches for the one-percenters at the top). Something will have to give.
Cruise ship season is starting up here in Seattle. We saw the Norwegian Pearl from Norwegian Cruise Lines at the pier today. She was scheduled to leave at 4 pm.
Also departing Seattle, were a line-up of yachts taking part in the Clipper Round the World race. The yachts are heading out to Panama, and will make their way up the East Coast to New York. It will take an estimated 26 days to reach Panama, and another 12 to get to New York City from there. Bon voyage!