Monday/ vote him out

My ballot has been counted.
The man they call ‘President’ (of the United States) attacked Dr. Fauci today, and called Joe Biden a criminal – and all journalists criminals as well.
Those are not good arguments to make with 15 days to go, and given that you are the criminal and the liar!

Sunday/ no sun today

The sun did not come out today, but the soft rain had cleared up by the afternoon so that I could go for a walk.
The high was 60 °F/ 15 °C.

The letter balloon display by this house was a little deflated — but it is still getting its message out.
And here is a new sign by the Biden campaign. Get it? Bi-den = Bye Don(ald Trump). It’s not a done deal, of course. The Washington Post reports of a Democratic voter that says ‘I am feeling anxious and trapped between a sense of unbridled optimism and sheer dread’. How can we not, remembering 2016?

Saturday/ Tintin, in Spanish

And here is the Spanish translation of King Ottokar’s Sceptre (see my recent posts about its translations into Scots, Irish and Welsh).

Below is the panel from the book again that I use to compare the translations with (Tintin and detectives on the motorcycle). The two bungling detectives with similar-sounding names (in Spanish: Hernández & Fernández) say the same thing as usual, but just in different words.

This Spanish language edition of King Ottokar’s Sceptre, El Cetro de Ottokar, is from 2017, by publisher Editorial Juventud. The original colored comic strip book (French) was published in 1947, and the first Spanish translation came in 1958.
Detective Hernández: ¡Andando! Let’s go! Estamos listos. We are ready.
Detective Fernández: Yo aún diría más. I would even say more. ¡Estamos listas! We are ready.
Tintin: All right!  (curious that the English ‘All right!’ is used. Could ¡Está bien! have been used? I’m not sure.
Tintin’s white pooch Snowy is named Milú in the Spanish translation.

Friday/ my vote is in

18 days until Nov 3.
I walked down to the ballot drop box on Broadway this afternoon to drop in my ballot.

There it goes! Yay! There was a lot more than just Joe Biden for president, to vote for on the ballot. We vote for Washington State governor (Jay Inslee), for our House of Representatives member (Pramila Jayapal is mine), and for a number of local ballot initiatives as well. The two US senators for Washington State are not on the ballot. US senators serve 6 years, and Patty Murray was re-elected in 2016, and Maria Cantwell in 2018.
Here comes the Seattle streetcar. This is on Broadway, right where the ballot box is. The new apartment buildings across the street are coming together nicely. They might take a little longer to fill up with renters, with the pandemic hit that the economy has taken under the Trump Disaster Administration.
A little further down is the Broadway Performance Hall, part of Seattle Central College. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1911 and renovated in 1979. The performers (singers, speakers, poets, musicians, dancers) will be back, but not any time soon.

Thursday/ 17 million, plus mine

17 million people have voted in the election already, a number vastly outpacing the early vote numbers from 2016.

My mail-in ballot arrived in the mail today, and I will get it in the mail ASAP. Psst! Donald Trump, I’ll let you in on a secret. You’re not getting my vote.

P.S. Check out the appeal to voters from the New York Times editorial board, in the black frames below.

Not even 2 out of 3 eligible voters (US citizens older than 18) vote. 138 million, which is 58.1%, voted in 2016. Those 80% numbers from the 19th century are the most accurate available, but exclude large swaths of voters that were still disenfranchised. Women only got to vote in 1920. And it was really only in 1965 when the majority of African Americans in the South were able/ allowed to vote. Voter suppression efforts by the Republican Party continue to this day. Every election, voters from some states still report that they had to stand in line for 8, 9, 10 hours to vote. That is not democracy. That is voter suppression.



Wednesday/ the last of the superheavies .. for now

Below is the last batch of superheavy element slides that I had made for my collection.

Oganesson, atomic number 118, is the element with the heaviest atoms. Can even heavier elements be made, with atomic numbers 119 and 120?
Here’s what Samanth Subramanian wrote for Bloomberg Businessweek in an article from Sept. 2019:
‘The periodic table was never expected to furl out endlessly. In these extreme reaches of the table, cramming proton after proton into a nucleus renders it more and more precarious. The positive charges repel one another until the nucleus decays near-instantly—before electrons have had a chance to settle into orbit to provide an atomic structure and before the passage of a hundred-trillionth of a second, the time an atom must exist to count as a new element.

Were you to reach element 173, scientists theorize, matters could get even stickier. The effects of Einsteinian relativity would kick in, and electrons would behave in peculiar ways. Those atoms may not even be atoms as we know them—their electron clouds dissolving and the regular periodicity of their properties swerving wildly off course.

But physics presents difficulties long before 173. Even for 119, waiting just offstage, scientists aren’t sure which two elements they might fuse. Oganesson, No. 118, was the product of an especially stable isotope of calcium slamming into californium. But that calcium can’t just be directed toward einsteinium, the next element after californium; a handful of nuclear reactors around the world generate only a milligram or so of einsteinium for research every year.

Seven years ago at GSI, Christoph Düllmann and his team tried a combination of titanium (22 protons) and berkelium (97 protons), without results. In Japan, Haba has been working with vanadium (23 protons) and curium (96 protons). In a $60 million Superheavy Element Factory in Dubna, inaugurated in March, scientists are pelting berkelium with an extra-stable titanium isotope, its nucleus fat with six neutrons more than standard titanium. But at the moment, Düllmann says, 118 “is the end of the story. We now need one more idea. Maybe we’ll get enough einsteinium at some point. But we have no idea what combination of elements is best for 119 and 120. The number of theories is the same as the number of theorists you talk to.’


Tuesday/ got my flu shot

Sign at Bartell Drugs, where I got my flu shot. (Not a very compelling tagline there – ‘Don’t Let Flu Stop You’. Maybe say ‘Flu Can Kill You’? .. or is that too harsh, seeing that we are in a deadly pandemic already?

I waited a little this year to get my flu shot, but got it today.

I got it too early last year – in August! – and then I learned that the protection from it wanes a little too early as well (when flu is still going around, at the end of the season).

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that in the 2018–2019 season, some 35.5 million Americans came down with the flu and that about 34,000 of them died from it. Flu shots prevented another 4.4 million cases and about 3,500 deaths. [Source: Scientific American].

Monday/ Indigenous Peoples’ Day

It was Indigenous Peoples’ Day today here in the United States, and I wondered how long ago the first humans had reached the North American continent.

The answer: We don’t know for sure! Some 10,000 to 25,000 yrs ago. Indigenous Americans, who include Alaska Natives, Canadian First Nations, and Native Americans, descend from humans who crossed an ancient land bridge called Beringia, connecting Siberia in Russia to Alaska.

P.S. Anatomically modern Homo sapiens evolved by at least 130,000 years ago from ancestors who had remained in Africa. As far back as 2.5 million years ago, our ancestors – apelike creatures in Africa that began to walk habitually on two legs – were flaking crude stone tools.

Different groups have mixed and migrated throughout Siberia in Russia and into North America over the past 40,000 years. [Map by MARTIN SIKORA, from an article at]

Sunday/ Rafa makes it 20

There was French Open tennis very early this morning on TV: the final between Rafael Nadal (Spain, 34) and Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 33).

Nadal played like the champ that he is, against a Djokovic that could not find his footing, and won in straight sets, 6-0 ( a rare bagel for Djokovic), 6-2, 7-5.

Nadal and Roger Federer each holds 20 Gram Slam tennis titles now, the largest number amassed by any player in the history of the game.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his second round match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno-Busta in the recent Italian Open at Foro Italico, Rome, Italy, Sept. 16, 2020 [Photo by REUTERS/Clive Brunskill]
Nadal serving against Djokovic in the final today. The sparse, socially-distanced crowd got their tickets by lottery. It did make a difference to have onlookers in the stands, cheering the players on. This French Open final was the first to be played under a roof with lights. [Picture Credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images]

Here’s a look at the new retractable roof over Philippe Chatrier stadium.
Earlier this week, the officials let a little too much rain come down before they closed the roof. So in came a few wheelbarrows of clay (wheelbarrow in the distance), that they swept onto the court to clear up muddied patches. Yes, that’s Djokovic himself in the red shorts, pitching in and clearing some clay dust from the baseline!
The top layer of clay is very thin, followed by crushed limestone, clinker, and crushed gravel. That red clay dust gets into EVERYTHING: the tennis balls, the racquet strings, the players’ shoes and socks, and even their clothes (when you fall down because you did not slide properly into a deadly drop shot or wide shot!).

Saturday/ ‘your mesh connection is great’

‘A mesh network is a group of devices that act as a single Wi-Fi network; so there are multiple sources of Wi-Fi around your house, instead of just a single router. These additional Wi-Fi sources are called points or nodes’.
– definition from

My Wi-Fi signal downstairs was too weak for my new smart TV, so I opted for a mesh network to get a better signal downstairs — instead of adding a Wi-Fi extender to my existing network. Per my limited understanding, Wi-Fi extenders repeat the signal and thereby slows down its speed. Many times extenders broadcast a new network name, which could be a hassle for a user moving around a lot in the space.

I went with Google Nest Wi-Fi. For a small apartment, one node will do, but for a bigger space two nodes or more can be used.

Once I had the issues with my old Wi-Fi-enabled modem-router resolved (aka throwing it out and replacing it altogether with just a simple cable modem!), the set-up of the Google Nest Wifi mesh network was straightforward.

These little orbs (officially ‘Google Nest Wifi routers’) are the nodes in the mesh network. One of them is connected to the modem via an Ethernet cable (connector plugs are hidden on the bottom). All the other identical nodes are simply plugged in to a power outlet (not further apart than two rooms or so from any other). My node by the modem is upstairs in the study, with one more node downstairs in the living room.
Here’s what the walkthrough on the Google Home app looks like.
‘Your mesh connection is great’ .. music to the ears after the slog I had to replace the modem (50 mins on the phone with the ISP’s tech support only to conclude the old modem was not cutting it, and that I needed a new one!).

Friday/ the White House: a superspreader

Trump and at least 34 White House staff members & other contacts have tested positive for the virus. If anything, it’s a surprise that it took so long for this spate of White House infections to happen. All of them from Trump & Pence down, regularly flaunted standard safety measures.

Just recently 200 people were packed into the Rose Garden for the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. Was it a super spreader event? Yes, it probably was, says Dr. Tony Fauci.

The cover of the latest TIME magazine: the White House as coronavirus superspreader.

Thursday/ the fattest of them all

It’s Fat Bear week in Katmai National Park in Alaska, and the winner has been announced: Bear 747, nicknamed ‘Jumbo Jet’. Rangers post pictures of the bears online (just a handful of the more than 2,000 in the park), and fans get to cast a vote for Fattest Bear.

These last few weeks bears could gorge themselves one last time before winter sets in, on the salmon swimming upstream to spawn in the Brooks River, in Katmai National Park. Bears can lose up to 40% of their weight while hibernating through winter.

Here’s Bear 747 aka ‘Jumbo Jet’, a 16 yr old male, photographed in June. Already looking good, but there was still a lot of summer left in June. [Photo: U.S. National Park Service]
And this picture is from September. Bear 747 is said to be a very efficient salmon catcher. (They can eat up to 30 salmon in a single day). 747’s voluminous visage is estimated to tip the scales at some 1,400 lbs (640 kg).  [Photo: U.S. National Park Service]

Wednesday/ Lord of the Fly

Lord of the Flies is a 1954 novel by Nobel Prize-winning British author William Golding. The book focuses on a group of British boys stranded on an uninhabited island and their disastrous attempt to govern themselves.

The vice presidential debate between candidates Kamala Harris (Democrat) and Mike Pence (Republican) took place in Salt Lake City, Utah tonight.

There was a fly that made itself comfortable in Mike Pence’s hair for a good 4 minutes, and screenshots made the rounds on Twitter  (naturally).

The fly in Pence’s hair. Pence has been in charge of the White House Coronavirus Task Force that was established on Jan 29, 2020. The Task Force’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, have been undermined at every turn by Trump. My impression is that Pence has been no help at all, either. 
And the debate was barely done, when the Joe Biden campaign tweeted out this cheeky picture. ‘Pitch in $5 to help this campaign fly’ said the caption to the tweet.


Tuesday/ four weeks to go

Only four weeks remain until The Election of a Lifetime on Tuesday, Nov 3.
Polling done after that disastrous debate, shows that candidate Joe Biden had widened his lead over Trump in the national polls. (Trump’s positive Covid test and the drama of the last few days have not been factored in).
Biden also holds sizable leads in most of the swing states, and is at a statistical draw in Florida (come on, Florida – don’t vote for Trump!).

The FiveThirtyEight website (owned by the New York Times) give Biden an 82% chance at winning. Look at that Fivey Fox mascot on the left, though: ‘Upset wins are surprising but not impossible’. Well. Let’s just say if Trump does win, there WILL BE VERY, VERY MANY PEOPLE THAT WILL BE MIGHTILY, MIGHTILY UPSET, and I will be one of them.

Sunday/ but not much sun

The paint on the Black Lives Matter artwork on East Pine St was recently refreshed. I trust that those hands in white paint are from the artists, and not from imposters!

It was a gray Sunday, with just a little bit of sunshine coming late in the day.
I walked down to the Pike/Pine corridor to check on the freshly repainted Black Lives Matter artwork on the street.

P.S. It’s impossible to know how seriously ill Trump is. One of the doctors ducked and sidestepped questions about the president’s condition. Trump said he’s doing well, but his chief of staff (Mark Meadows) said he was not. So far Trump has gotten oxygen and remdesivir and antibodies .. were all these necessary, or just given as a precaution? Trump even went for a jolly ride today in The Beast, around the hospital, to wave at his supporters gathered there. Did he care that the Secret Service or other staff might get infected by him? Of course not.

Saturday/ foggy and mild

It’s been foggy in the morning here in the city all week.
The air quality has been decent, in spite of a number of fires still burning in Washington State and on the West Coast.

Tiny droplets stick to the spider webs in the morning and make them stand out sharply. Later, as the sun comes out, the drops will disappear, and Mr Spider will regain the stealthiness of his trap.

Friday/ three more ‘superheavies’

Here are the next three elements that I had made little panels for, to add to my extended ‘Elements’ picture collection.

Life is short for these, the elements with the heaviest atoms. Their atoms emerge from high-energy nuclear collisions, usually with scant time for detection before they break up into lighter atoms.

Thursday/ October surprise

October surprise
(United States) any political event orchestrated (or apparently orchestrated) in the month before an election, in the hopes of affecting the outcome.
“even the much-vaunted October surprise might fail to move the race in one direction or another”

It was still 1st of October here on the West Coast, when Trump tweeted that he and wife Melania had tested positive for Covid-19.  They may have gotten it from aide Hope Hicks, who came down with mild symptoms on Wednesday and then tested positive.

Trump has to cancel his campaign rallies for now, and the two remaining presidential debates will probably be cancelled as well.

And if Trump gets sick? Under the 25th Amendment, a medically incapacitated president has the option of temporarily transferring power to the vice president and can reclaim his authority whenever he deems himself fit for duty.

A little history from the New York Times:
Four presidents have died in office of natural causes: William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Warren G. Harding and Franklin D. Roosevelt, while Wilson endured a debilitating stroke and Dwight D. Eisenhower had a heart attack in his first term and a stroke in his second.
Four others were assassinated while in office: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy.

Here is the New York Times from late afternoon on the East Coast on Friday.


Wednesday/ my TV is now smart

My Samsung TV was 10 years old, and at long last it was time to upgrade to a smart 4K* TV.  I picked a Samsung again, and was planning to replace my 55″ screen with a similar size .. and then at the last minute in the store, opted for one with a 65″ screen.

I paid  $1,899 in 2010 dollars for the old TV (that’s $2,264 in 2020 dollars). The new one was all of $529, practically given away for free. (Alright, so not completely free).

*Smart= the TV can connect to the internet and offer all kinds of online content from providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and others.
4K= the screen resolution is 3840 x 2160; a fourfold increase over Full HD (1920×1080 pixels).

The 2020 French Open is underway in Paris. The silly American networks are VERY STINGY with their coverage. I should sign up for Tennis Channel’s content (it’s $100 per year).
YouTube posts highlights of the matches every day. My wifi signal is poor in the corner of my living room where the TV is, so what I did here is connect my laptop computer to the TV with an HDMI cable to get the tennis on the big screen. I’m still trying to find out why the laptop can pick up the wifi signal OK but the TV cannot! Anyway, here is the King of Clay (Spaniard Rafael Nadal, 34 yrs, nearside in the turquoise and pink!) in the second round against American Mackenzie McDonald, 25). Nadal won easily, but it was a triumph for McDonald just to be able to play. He tore his hamstring tendon last year in May and could not walk for two months after the operation to mend it.