Thursday/ Mazatlán churches

I walked to two beautiful churches here in the city so that I could take a closer look.

The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception is the main religious building in Mazatlan and is located in the historical center. The original building was completed in 1899.
This is the inside of the church, looking forward towards the altar.
Here is the Parroquia Cristo Rey (Parish of Christ the King). Its style is unusual and I could not immediately find more information about it online.
The main entrance to Parroquia Cristo Rey (Parish of Christ the King). Those pesky telephone cables interfere with my picture!

Wednesday/ Mazatlán Malecón

The Mazatlán Malecón is a 13-mi. (20 km) promenade that is lined with street vendors, shops and restaurants, and Pacific ocean views.

Viva Mexico! This enormous flagpole and Mexican flag is just south of the central Mazatlán district. It makes the humans down below look like ants. (The flag is not always up; today was President Benito Juárez’s birthday). The green umbrella below is part of a coconut stand. The Malecón was quiet today, but will fill up with people as soon as the weekend starts.
This is the view of the Malecón from the rooftop of the Hotel Posada Freeman where we had a beer at sunset, looking towards the north. The gray paving is brand new.  The hill up ahead with the radio towers, is Icebox Hill, home to limestone caves once used to store ice imported from San Francisco during the mid-1800s. Mazatlán families used this ice to preserve their seafood and other perishables before the days of household refrigerators.
Here’s a view of Icebox Hill looking east from the Malecón. Inset:  An entrance to the old limestone caves, now off limits to the public. ‘Cueva del Diablo’, Cave of the Devil, says the lettering.

Tuesday/ Mexico’s Day of the Dead /Día de Muertos

We went to see Disney’s animated movie Coco (2017)* in a local arts theater here.  The movie revolves around a Mexican boy Miguel, and the annual Day of the Dead/ Día de Muertos celebration.  Before the movie started, Mazatlán resident Laura Medina explained the Day of the Dead to us.  ‘Life and death is a duality, and cannot be completely separated’. Day of the Dead is about gatherings of family and friends, to pray for, and remember, friends and family who have died – and help support their spiritual journey.

*To quote IMDb: a touching, massively heartwarming story of the strongest familial variety.

Day of the Dead/ Día de Muertos characters for sale at a local art store here in Mazatlan.

Monday/ arrival in Mazatlán

I made it into Mazatlán on Monday.  My Uber driver showed up in just a few minutes after I had summoned him, even though this was 3 am in the morning!  (to make my frightfully early departure out of Seattle airport at 5 am).
I arrived in Mazatlán on a national holiday, Benito Juarez’s Birthday. Juárez was a national hero and president of Mexico (1858-1872).

Top: Alaska Airlines, at the gate at LAX after our arrival at 7.30 am. Bottom: Shortly after our arrival at Mazatlan airport. The airport is really small – only one other jet was there at our arrival. There may be only as many as 4 or 5 jets on the gates at the airport at any one time.

This is near the beach, on the edge of the historic old town center.  The beautiful mosaic of the Mazatlán municipality is in the foreground. Mazatlán’s population is a little over 400,000 people.
The beachfront across from the old town center.  It has a beautiful new promenade and street. Late afternoon it fills up with joggers, tourists, and families hanging out, waiting for sunset to come before they disperse. This is a rocky stretch of beach, but there are plenty of sandy areas as well.

Sunday/ going to Mazatlán

My bags are packed .. for a trip to Mazatlán, Mexico, to visit my friends Bryan and Dale there. I will take Alaska Air: two 2 ½ -hr flights, with a stop at LAX.  I’ve been to Puerto Vallarta, to Nogales (border city south of Tucson, Arizona), and to Cancun, but not to Mazatlan.

Mazatlan is on the Pacific just across the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, and in Sinaloa province.

Saturday/ St Patrick’s Day

Left: The finish line of the St Patrick’s Day Dash. | Right:The Monorail and the new Hyatt House hotel with its vanishing edge. The Space Needle’s $100 million restoration and glass floor installation should be complete some time this summer. | Bottom: The Seattle Public Library’s Book Sale in an exhibition hall at the Seattle Center. | Inset: Four-leaf clover Waterford crystal paperweight, that I had bought in Dublin in 2013.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!  Here in Seattle we had the annual 1K and 5K St Patrick’s Day Dash, ending at the Seattle Center.  My mission for Saturday was to dash down to the Seattle Public Library’s Book Sale which was right there, as well.

I did pick up a few books at the huge book sale ($1 and $2 a book! Yay!) : a thick Archie Comics cartoon book; travel guides for Washington DC and Switzerland, and a few others.

Friday/ the snow in the North Cascades

Washington State Dept of Traffic recently tweeted a picture of State Route 20 at the Early Winter Spires. The road is closed for winter, but they will evaluate next week what needs to be done to start clearing the road.  I compared their picture with mine, which I took on a road trip last year.

Left: Picture from WSDOT, from an airplane. Right: My picture from Sept last year, from a viewpoint from across the Early Winter Spires.
The big asterisk * marks the location of the pictures. It looks as if 19% more snow than normal, had fallen there this 2017/18 winter season. [Prepared by USDA/ NRCS]

Thursday/ trouble at Toys-R-Us

Menacing Sasquatches at Toys-R-Us. (Winter Sasquatch and Summer Sasquatch, I suppose). Sasquatch is the Pacific Northwest’s abominable snowman from folklore.

The nationwide toy store franchise Toys-R-Us is in trouble and is said to be closing or selling all of its stores soon.  (Aw. I like Toys-R-Us). The company just has too much debt, and this dates back to before competition from Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart all took their toll.

So I made a run to the store here in the area today, and bought a giant box of special Only-at-Toys-R-Us Lego bricks, for myself, of course.(‘Age 5-99’ said the box, and I fall in that age range, see?).

3.14 Pi Day/ celebrate Tau, not Pi

These are ‘exhibits’ from Michael Hartl’s Tau manifesto, making the case that Tau is a better constant than Pi. Bottom: One full rotation is one Tau radians (right circle) and 2 Pi radians (left circle)-so Tau is simpler to use. Top Left: Euler’s identity is written more elegantly with Tau (the bottom equation). Top Right: If Tau is used for circular area, the formula looks the same as several other expressions used in physics.

March 14 is Pi* Day, celebrated by math geeks.  But Michael Hartl says we should celebrate ‘Tau Day’ instead, in his Tau manifesto. Tau is an alternative circle constant referred to by the Greek letter τ that equals 2π, or approximately 6.28. (So Tau Day would be June 28).

*Pi is the Greek letter used in math for the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. No matter the size of the circle, this is always the same value (approx. 3.14): a mathematical constant.

One big thing that Tau fixes, is radian angles (see diagram).  It also makes sine and cosine functions simpler, and higher math like integrals in polar coordinates, the Fourier transform, and Cauchy’s integral, simpler.

Postscript: I found this great cartoon tribute to theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking that had passed away on Mar 14.

He once said ‘The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge’.


Tuesday/ the ‘Rexit’, finally

Headline from ‘Tillerson, a career oilman from blunt-spoken Texas, had come to the State Department with significant overseas business experience but was still very much a novice in the ways of international diplomacy’, writes Susan Glasser. Tillerson leaves the State Department understaffed and demoralized. There is a lot of work to be done to repair the damage.

Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is out, fired via Trump tweet.  (Tillerson got a heads-up on Friday that ‘something is up’, from Chief of Staff Kelley). Trump and Tillerson never got along, and Tillerson was fired almost immediately after contradicting the official White House line on the murder of a Russian double agent in London, though. Coincidence, or the last straw? (Tillerson called Trump an ‘f** moron’ last July).

Also: Trump’s personal aide (‘body man’) Johnny McEntee is also out over ‘serious financial crimes’ and security issues, escorted out of the White House today, not allowed to retrieve even his jacket or any personal stuff.

Finally: It looks like the Democrat will win the Special Election for House Representative in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, held today. This is a district that Trump carried by 20%. Trump, Don Trump Jr and VP Mike Pence were all there to campaign for the Republican.   So the loss is not a good sign for the Republicans for the mid-term elections* in November this year.

*Representatives of the House have two-year terms, and Senators have six-year terms.

Monday/ Van Riebeeck’s three ships

My 1975 South African ten rand note that I had bought on Ebay, arrived in the mail today. I wanted one – correction: had to have one – for my bank note collection. I have fond memories of the note.  When I was very young, I saw it as a lot of money, almost a fortune.  I still remember my mom pulling out two of these green notes from her wallet, to pay for a semi-automatic knitting machine that she had bought at a store. Whoah! How cool, I thought.

This R10 note (R for Rand) was part of the Second Series of notes of the Republic of South Africa and was in use from 1966 through 1978.  Front: Dutch navigator and colonial administrator Jan van Riebeeck; Union Buildings in Pretoria that form the official seat of the South African Government; Springbok, national animal of South Africa and mascot for many national sport teams.  Back: Table Bay and Table Mountain with Van Riebeeck’s three ships at his arrival on April 6, 1652: the Dromedaris; the Reijger and the Goede Hoop. [Picture: Ebay]

Sunday/ ferry to Bremerton

The Seattle-Bremerton ferry is about 60 minutes one way.

It was a beautiful sunny, blue-sky day (61° F/ 16°C), and I hopped onto the Bremerton ferry, to go check out the marina there, and the Navy Museum. Bremerton is home to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bremerton Annex of Naval Base Kitsap.

This is Pier 50 on the Seattle waterfront, and I am on the Bremerton-bound ferry called Chimacum (this vessel started service in 2017, 1500 passengers, 144 vehicles). The ferry in the picture is the Wenatchee (launched 1998, 2500 passengers, 202 vehicles). It is just pushing back from the terminal as well, going to Bainbridge Island. The sharp-looking, swank new building with the triangular faces, in the skyline, is the F5 Tower, also known as The Mark.
This is outside the Naval Museum, the ‘sail’ of the Sturgeon-class attack submarine, the USS Parche (SSN-683). Commissioned in 1974 and decommissioned 2004, she is said to be ‘the most highly decorated vessel in U.S. history’. The letters and striping stand for awards such as Battle Efficiency, Navigation Excellence and Communication Excellence. Inset: USS Parche returns to port for the last time at Naval Base Kitsap at Bangor, WA on Sept 20, 2004. [Picture: WIkipedia]
We had the ferry called Kaleetan on the way back from Bremerton to Seattle. She can hold 144 vehicles, and 1868 passengers; has been in service since 1968 and will be replaced in a few years.

Friday/ progress?

I walked by a new condo development here on Capitol Hill this afternoon, and wondered what was there before. It turns out there was a stately 1901 home there with triangles and bay windows – which will now become boxes and rectangles.

Before: a multiple occupancy home, built 1901, 5 bed 3 bath, 2,820 sq ft, sold for $1.7 million to the developer. After: 6 townhomes, about 1,500 sq ft each. My guess is they will go for at least $800,000 each.  The big tree in front survived winter, as well as the construction, at least. [Before picture from]

Thursday/ Trump and Kim Jong-un to meet. Huh?

Nuclear war? Trade war? Maybe just a trade war.

The State Dept stated just this morning that talks between the US and North Korea were ‘a long way off’. This evening, a delegation of South Korean envoys announced on the White House driveway that President Trump and Kim Jong-un will meet before the end of May.  This will be the first time ever that a US President meet with North Korea since the Korean War Armistice of 1953. (Oh, and never mind that annual US-South Korea military exercises are to take place in April – and that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun resigned just two weeks ago).

Why did the South Koreans announce the talks (and not the White House)?
Can Kim Jong-un be trusted?
What is even on the table?

Update Fri 3/9: By Friday night Press Secretary Sanders had walked back Trump’s commitment to meet with Kim Jong-un. (‘No meeting without concrete steps and action’). And then her walk-back was walked back by the White House – sort of.

German newspaper ‘Heuberger Bote’ illustrating on which products tariffs could be slapped, as retaliation to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. (Hmm. Bourbon comes from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin).

Wednesday/ gone: Chief Economic Advisor

Brett Stephens writes in the NYT that we do not know if Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn quit ‘out of horror of the president’s protectionist turn, or merely out of the pique of losing a policy argument’ (over the trade tariffs).   What is certain, is that the Trump Administration is looking increasingly unstable and unable to retain key personnel.

The Republicans are finally getting worried that Trump’s economic and trade policies might make trouble. (They were not too worried about the tax cuts massively increasing the deficit). The House sent a letter today, signed by 107 representatives, asking Trump to refrain from implementing broad-based tariff measures that could trigger trade wars with Europe, China, and even Canada.

Will we be OK? It’s been 10 years since 2008’s global financial crisis. During a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ last week, Bill Gates was asked if, in the near future, the U.S. will have another crisis similar to 2008.  ‘Yes’, he said, admitting that the question would be better directed at Warren Buffet. ‘It is hard to say when, but this is a certainty’.

The conclusion of Matt Taibbi’s article called ‘The Great American Bubble Machine’ that appeared in Rolling Stone Magazine in 2009.  The article detailed the excesses and greed from the giant financial firms such as Goldman Sachs, and the lack of government oversight, that led to the 2008 crisis. Here we are in 2018, and I don’t think anything has changed. 

Tuesday/ tulip base dining table with white marble top

A mid-century modern Eero Saarinen tulip base dining table with white carrara marble top (mid 1960s). Several of these tables, with different tops, are offered on This one will set its new owner back $2,800. [Picture from]
I read a description today of an ‘Eero Saarinen tulip base dining table with white marble top’ in an article about decorating. Well. Let’s find out what this table looks like, I thought.  (Redeem myself a little from the cheap Ikea furniture I still have, by improving my designer furniture knowledge).

Saarinen (1910-1961) was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer, noted for his neo-futuristic style. I also learned that Saarinen was the architect of the Gateway Arch in St Louis.

I took this picture of the Arch in St Louis in Oct ’96. (I lived in St Louis from ’95 to ’98). Inset: Saarinen with a model of the Arch in 1957. Construction started in 1963. Sadly, Saarinen never saw the completed Arch. He passed away in 1961, during an operation for a brain tumor.


Monday/ go big or go home

As computing power increases, ever larger prime numbers can be found. [Graphic by the WSJ].
The 50th Mersenne prime* was discovered in December, by Jonathan Pace in Tennessee.  Yay! The gargantuan number is 277,232,917-1 (multiply together 77,232,917 twos and subtract one). The number has more than 23 million digits, and is also written as M77232917.

Alright – as of now, there is no real use for these monster numbers, but modestly large primes are put to good use in computer encryption.

The Great Internet Prime Search foundation will award $150,000 for the discovery of the first prime number with 100 million digits, and $250,000 for the first prime with at least a billion digits.  The search is on!

*Prime numbers are whole numbers that can be divided only by themselves, and by 1.  The number 1 is not considered a prime, but then the primes are 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 and so on. Mersenne primes are named for the French monk that studied them some 350 years ago.  They are written in the form 2n -1.  (So 3 is the first Mersenne prime, since it can be expressed as 22 -1). Euclid’s proof shows that there are infinitely many regular primes. We do not know if that is the case for Mersenne primes.

Sunday/ Oscar notes

The Wall Street Journal had a little report about Oscar enthusiasts that watch all 59 movies before the big night, driving many miles to art theatres for the foreign films or documentaries. (That’s not me!).

Gary Oldman (59) with his Best Actor Oscar for ‘Darkest Hour’. He addressed his 99-year old mom watching the Oscars on TV: ‘Put on the kettle; I’m bringing an Oscar home’. Oldman is British by birth, but now American. He married Gisele Schmidt in Sept 2017 and lives in Los Angeles.

I still want to go see Darkest Hour with Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Winston Churchill in WW2, though, and also on my list: The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name and animated film winner Coco.

Nice to see Bladerunner 2049 winning in Visual Effects as well as Cinematography.

Someone noted on Twitter that none of the movies directed by women, won any Oscars: a disappointment.

Harvey Weinstein, and several other men in the Hollywood industry accused of sexual harassment, now persona non grata, were nowhere to be seen.

Saturday/ Wakanda forever

Clockwise from the Bottom Left: Wakanda’s all-women army | Black Panther in his super-powered ‘vibranium’ suit | Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa  aka Black Panther | Michael B. Jordan as N’Jadaka aka Erik “Killmonger” Stevens | the newest comic incarnation from Marvel has award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates as writer | Lupita Nyong’o as T’Challa’s love interest Nakia | the high-tech world of Wakanda, created by Industrial Light & Magic studios


A real black panther [from Wikipedia]. Black panthers in Asia and Africa are black leopards, and those in the Americas are black jaguars (picture). What a magnificent beast .. but man, would I hate to run into one in the night, in a rainforest!
Black Panther is ‘a movie about what it means to be black in both America and Africa—and, more broadly, in the world’ says Jamil Smith in TIME magazine. Of course, it does not hurt that it is also a great action flick, full of beautiful people and gorgeous scenes of the utopian world of Wakanda.

The movie is not not devoid of racism – in more than one scene, a white character finds out what it’s like to be in a world in which black people have wealth, technology and military might.  (A world where white people are not allowed, in fact!).  Overall, the movie has a great message, though: in the real world full of different nations and ethnicities, we are all our brother’s keeper.

Friday/ President Chaos, flailing at it

It was another week of Trump chaos.  (‘Never have we seen such chaos and corruption‘, opines Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post). As Alec Baldwin’s tweet says: we are hanging in there until we have the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech, and the farewell helicopter ride to Mar-a-Lago.

Trump’s long-time Communications Director (Hope Hicks) announced she is resigning, after admitting she tells ‘white lies’ for the President.
It’s been more than a year since Trump himself gave a press conference.

It now looks as if son-in-law Jared Kushner punished Qatar last April, by supporting a blockade against them, just weeks after they refused to invest in his private firm.
Do these people do anything at all for American citizens, for the country? Kushner never, ever says anything on the record, and does not speak to the press, or in public.

On Thursday, Trump announced* trade tariffs of 25% and 10% on steel and aluminum imports, out of the blue, defying the advice of economic advisor Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin. ‘Trump starts trade war’, said all the major European and Asian newspapers this morning. Economists universally agree: trade wars are bad.        *Still to be signed into law, some time next week.

As many observers note:
1.  It’s unsettling to have a President with no impulse control.
2. These crises are all of Trump’s making. What will he do when a real one hits?

This morning’s classic Trump tweet: petty, demeaning, lashing out. This Trump tweet is the one with the corrections Alex > Alec and dieing > dying. Our President does not read, and therefore cannot spell. Sad. (SNL is Saturday Night Live, a comedy show on which Baldwin frequently portrays President Trump).