Saturday/ what a crazy week ..

Rick Wilson writes in the New York Daily News:
“Our great American companies are hereby ordered…”
The subtle meter in Americans’ brains that tracks the degree to which the universe seems off its axis has been in a state of constant flux since Donald
Trump’s election in 2016, but this week the needle slammed hard into the peg on the right side of the gauge. Red warning lights are flashing across Washington as even the now-typical levels of uncertainty and political chaos reach epic proportions.

It’s almost as if we need a recalibration of the insanity of the Trump era, a new set of definitions about what comprises normal presidential behavior.

Because what’s happening now left normal five towns back, stopped for smokes and brown liquor, and tossed the GPS out the window. This week wasn’t normal, and no amount of whistling past the graveyard will make it any different.

This is the week in which Trump had wanted to buy Greenland, and insulted Denmark’s PM. He proclaimed himself ‘King of Israel’ and the ‘Chosen One’ (to deal with China, but is that not blasphemy?). He proposed on-again, off-again payroll tax cuts & capital gains tax indexing. Compared the Fed Chairman to Xi Jinping as an ‘enemy of the state’. The craziest one of all came on Friday: a tweet that ‘ordered’ – ordered? say whaaat? – all American companies to retreat out of China immediately. So now the USA is a command economy, run the way the dictators of Cuba and North Korea run theirs?

Friday/ a dystopian Seattle

Tintin pursues a gang of counterfeiters in The Black Island (it’s in Scotland, hence his Scottish garb). It was originally published in French as L’Île Noire in 1937 by Belgian cartoonist Hergé.

Check out Tintin’s gangster look, and Snowy’s spiked collar! Here’s my effort at cataloging the Seattle icons in the mural. Clockwise from bottom left: pink ‘Toe Truck’ from Lincoln Towing Co., now on display in Washington State Museum of History and Industry | I don’t know the upside down blue boat or its driver | to its left a Route 8/48 bus stop sign | and a purple starfish trying to survive (Puget Sound has had a massive starfish die-off tied to global warming) | the Kalakala ferry that operated on Puget Sound from 1935 until her retirement in 1967 | red container cranes from Port of Seattle | building of Rainier Brewing Company (operated 1878–1999) at south end of town, next to I-5 | Chubby & Tubby (operated 1946–2003) was a Seattle institution, offering bargains in hardware, housewares & garden supplies | Coca-cola vending machine from John St | skeleton biker is prob. from Bethel Saloon, a popular biker bar in Port Orchard | Dick’s Drive-in burgers & milkshakes (founded 1954), has three popular locations in the Seattle area | George Washington Memorial Bridge, commonly known as the Aurora Bridge, opened in 1932 | Deano’s 24-hour grocery store on Madison St closed in 2007 | endangered Puget Sound orca below the bridge | the iconic Pink Elephant Car Wash sign off Denny Way | not sure where the Sink or Swim bottle & buoy is from | sea lion eating clams could be from Elliott Bay. [Mural by Ton Chan & Lawrence Genette].
The newest incarnation of the restaurant & bar space at 1407 14th Ave is called Bar Sue. The mural in front of the bar is definitely an homage to the seventh volume of the Adventures of Tintin, called The Black Island.

The mural shows several Seattle iconic signs and objects awash in seawater. I guess it could be seawater that had swept over the city from a tsunami .. or the elevated sea levels from Earth’s melting ice caps.

Some signs are from beloved businesses that had closed years ago, and others are from places that are very much still around.


Thursday/ torching the Amazon

And the world had to watch: Catastrophe for the climate – wildfires devour the Brazilian rainforest, says the front page of the Tagespiegel newspaper.

I cannot bear to watch news coverage of the torching of the Amazon rainforest. The Bolsonaro government of Brazil is defiant and doing nothing to stop it.

This is what happens when nationalistic dictators get into positions of power, and there is no one to stop them. Does this even register on the radar screen of the Trump Administration? Bah. Forget about it.

Wednesday/ about Greenland

I just had to check out Greenland again on my Earth globe (with the stupid and completely unnecessary flap created around it, and all ⁠— by You-Know-Who in the White House).

Greenland is the world’s largest island and is a semi-autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark. It has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for more than a millennium.

Greenland sits almost due north of the United States. It has some 56,000 inhabitants, 1/4 of which live in the capital, Nuuk. Ethnicity of its people: 88% Greenlandic Inuit (including Inuit-Danish mixed); 12% Danes and other Europeans. Insets: Coat-of-arms (a polar bear) and national flag.
It’s fun to use Google Streetview to do virtual tours of Greenland. In a few places they mounted the Streetview camera on a boat and recorded some views. This one in the bay by Narsaq.
Here is a little store in the capital Nuuk. Let’s see what the Danish translate into: Møbler: furniture, gaveartikler: gifts, slik & chokolade: sweets & candy, festartikler: party items, friske blomster: fresh flowers.
.. and a little Danish design flair for a new apartment building. Very nice.

Tuesday/ the Douglass-Truth branch library

I checked out the Douglass-Truth branch library today, on the corner of 23rd Ave and Yesler Way.

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York after he escaped from slavery in Maryland. Sojourner Truth (1797-1883) was similarly an abolitionist and women’s rights activist who had escaped from slavery.

The ornate entrance of the Douglass-Truth branch of the Seattle Public Library. The building opened in 1914. The library houses the largest collection of African American literature and history on the West Coast.

Monday/ got my flu shot!

I was at the pharmacy today, and the pharmacist said ‘just so you know’, that they already have a shipment of the 2019/ 20 flu shots. ‘Let’s do it!’ I said, and got my flu shot right there and then.

It was a quadrivalent shot: a vaccine for four strains of the flu virus — for what it’s worth. I read online that the 2018/ 19 season’s flu shot was only about 30% effective. There was a late-surging strain, against which it was no help at all.

Missing the mark: cartoon by Dave Granlund, published during the 2014/ 15 season when the vaccine was even less than 30% effective.  P.S. I would say it’s not really the lab that misses the mark — it’s the panel of experts that try to predict which strains of the flu virus will circulate around the regions of the world for the upcoming flu season.

Sunday/ the one who does not risk, does not drink champagne

I watched the final of the Cincinnati Masters tennis tournament on TV today.
Daniil Medvedev* (Russia) beat David Goffin (Belgium) 7-6, 6-4 in the final. He went all-out for his serve in the final game, serving three aces.

In the post-match meeting with the press, Medvedev said he was starting to get cramps, and ‘as we say in Russia, Кто не рискует, тот не пьёт шампанского/ the one who does not risk, does not drink champagne’.

*On the way to the final, Medvedev also beat world No 1 Novak Djokovic.

A still from a YouTube video from vlogger Angelos Georgakis. He walked around in a park in Kiev, Russia, and asked people what their favorite Russian proverb is. This lovely couple mentioned the same one tennis player Medvedev did: ‘The one who does not risk, does not drink champagne’.

Saturday/ celebrating another birthday

Another birthday is rushing up to me, and we celebrated it on Saturday night at my house.
It did not take long to lose the helium balloon I was given for my birthday, though. (Aw. It became unmoored from where it was tied to the porch rail and floated up, up and away).
While we were outside on the deck, we spent a little time tracking the overhead incoming flights to Seattle-Tacoma airport (just 12 miles to the south of my house as the crow flies).
The nicest of them all was the new Airbus A350-900 (with its quiet twin jet engines) from Cathay Pacific Airlines, directly from Hong Kong, that flew over shortly after 8 pm.

Picture from Sunday morning: flowers & cards from my friends for my birthday .. looking great in my kitchen.

Friday/ Cape Town’s dams: doing fine

As the rainy season draws to a close in Cape Town, South Africa, the six dams in the greater area around it are doing much, much better than they did in 2017 and 2018.
A big rainstorm this July boosted the levels of several dams by more than 5%.

49, 418 megalitres of water is enough for about 430,000 large swimming pools. [Infographic by Climate System Analysis Group at University of Cape Town].
‘Theewaterskloof puffs out its chest’: The Theewaterskloof Dam is the largest of the six in the Cape Town region. It was at only 13% in January 2018. All the parched spots in the picture from that time, are now covered by at least 3 feet of water.  [Source: Die Burger newspaper].

Thursday/ where the brutality of American capitalism comes from

The New York Times has launched a project called the 1619 Project. ‘The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are’.

Here is an excerpt from an essay written by Matthew Desmond, professor of sociology at Princeton University for the Times’s 1619 Project.

‘Those searching for reasons the American economy is uniquely severe and unbridled have found answers in many places (religion, politics, culture). But recently, historians have pointed persuasively to the gnatty fields of Georgia and Alabama, to the cotton houses and slave auction blocks, as the birthplace of America’s low-road approach to capitalism.

Slavery was undeniably a font of phenomenal wealth. By the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was the nation’s most valuable export. The combined value of enslaved people exceeded that of all the railroads and factories in the nation. New Orleans boasted a denser concentration of banking capital than New York City. What made the cotton economy boom in the United States, and not in all the other far-flung parts of the world with climates and soil suitable to the crop, was our nation’s unflinching willingness to use violence on non-white people and to exert its will on seemingly endless supplies of land and labor. Given the choice between modernity and barbarism, prosperity and poverty, lawfulness and cruelty, democracy and totalitarianism, America chose all of the above’.

Wednesday/ a kaleidoscope of colors

Here is the result of another experiment to make artwork with my Wild Gears.
• Draw a wheel-in-a-wheel-in-a-ring pattern with a black needlepoint pen on white paper.
• Scan to create a .jpg picture (I used my document scanner).
• Color electronically with a basic editing utility such as Windows Paint 3D. (Yes, hand-coloring it would look more authentic .. but man! that’s a lot more work. Maybe next time).

Tuesday/ reviving my iPhone

My iPhone (not even a year old, Xs) died all of a sudden today, even though it was about 75% charged.
I finally revived it by trying the Device Firmware Update button sequence several times:
Press & release Volume Up button;
Press & release Volume Down button;
Press and hold the Sleep/Wake button ..
.. and then the Apple logo came on and it came back to life.

Who knows what constellation of firmware, software and hardware settings was to blame for the system ‘s black-out .. but from now on, I’m going to close all open screens and turn the phone completely off & on again, at least once a week.

Maybe I take too many pictures with my phone, more than it can handle. This picture is the downtown Barnes & Noble Bookstore dinosaur figurine display. They were all jumbled up, and I straightened out the two Carnotauruses (orange, foreground) and Velociraptors at the back. These both roamed around on Earth some 72 million years ago.

Monday/ how will the Hong Kong protests end?

Wow .. it is Tuesday in Hong Kong and protesters are again flooding into Hong Kong airport. (The airport was brought to a standstill on Monday).

Who will ultimately win the public’s support, and will it matter once the Chinese army moves in? Hong Kong law states that the People’s Liberation Army (the Chinese armed forces) stationed in the Hong Kong region cannot interfere in local affairs, but the law does allow for their deployment at the request of the Hong Kong government to ‘maintain public order’.

What started as protests against changes to Hong Kong’s extradition laws to China, have now morphed into protests against police brutality (against the protestors), and against the Hong Kong government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam in general.

Protestors doing a peaceful sit-in at the airport on Monday, although the latest reports say that they have gone to the departures halls as well, preventing passengers from checking in.

Sunday/ Amazon’s Block 20 & Block 21 buildings

My Sunday afternoon walk in the Denny Triangle was thwarted a little by a rain shower.  I did get a few pictures of the newest Amazon buildings that are almost completed, though.

The brown building with 8 storeys is Amazon Block 20, seen from the corner of 8th Ave and Blanchard.
This water feature is on the other side of the Block 20 building, on 7th Avenue.  It was designed by local sculptor Gerry Tsutakawa and is part of the public plaza there.
Here is Amazon Block 21 (2200 7th Ave), seen from the corner of 7th Ave and Blanchard St. It is part of Amazon’s expanding headquarters. The office tower on the left is 24 stories tall, and the building in the foreground 8 stories.  The oval building in the back is the McKenzie Apartments building, 40 stories tall. It was completed last year, and has 450 apartments.

Saturday/ two have gotten the axe

We are getting new disabled accessible ramps on the pavements here at Republican Street and 16th Avenue .. but at the price of two big trees that have been taken out.

Two big trees have been taken out on the corner area of Republican Street and 16th Avenue: one right on the corner and one further back.
This picture is from Monday Aug 12. The tree’s roots were just too big and too close to the surface for the city workers to save it, so it had to be taken out.

Friday/ bushtits

There was a bunch of little bushtits in the camelia in front of my house this morning, and I took a few pictures.

Bushtits (Psaltriparus minimus) are tiny little drab-gray birds that are very active and social. They do not migrate, and are found year-round on the west coast of Mexico and North America, all the way to the Pacific Northwest.
Their diet consists mostly of larvae and insects, as well as spiders. They do eat seeds, berries, and fruit — in seasons when insects are not as abundant.

Thursday/ red & blue

Here’s one more spiro-graphy twirl, for now.
The design took several attempts to get a clean drawing without any slip-ups. It was done with repeated wheel-in-a-wheel-in-a-ring runs.

Blue: Align Hole 1A in Wheel 42 inside Ring 63 in Wheel 135, all inside Ring 180. Draw 1A-2A-3A-4A. Align Hole 1B at the top and draw 1B-2B-3B-4B. Red: Turn 90º and repeat.

Wednesday/ on a (gelly) roll

I bought another fistful of Sakura Gelly Roll® pens at the Blick Art store as I walked by it on Broadway, today .. and came home to realize that I had bought some duplicates (of course).

So! Time for a phone picture that I can have handy next time, to make sure I know which colors I already have.

My first attempt at a picture of my pen collection. Not good enough, though – the same color can come in medium point or fine point ..
.. so I rolled them out on the sheet of paper to show both the color and the size of the pen point.

Tuesday/ my first new spirals

Here are my first colored spirals with the Wild Gears. I’m still getting used to the gears. They are a little harder to use than Spirograph, but they can produce very different results.

Smooth-finished, heavy paper (card stock) works best, and I have discovered Sakura Gelly Roll® pens which even come in metallic colors.

Wheel 35 in Ring 96. Hole No 1 Pink for 2 cycles & No 1 Black fine point for 7 cycles. (These are the technical details of how the pattern was produced, more for my own reference than anything else).
Wheel 45 in Ring 64. Hole No 1 Black fine point with final cycle in Silver gel.
Wheel 45 in Ring 64. Hole No 1 Orange fiber tip with final cycle in Black needlepoint.
Triangle 69 in Ring 96. Hole No 1-2-3-4-5-6, Black fine point No 12-13-14-15.
Alright. Let’s do something complicated, that could never be done with Spirograph gears. What’s going on here? I started out at bottom left with Hole 1 in Wheel 32, as close as I could get it to the Ring 140. As I rolled Wheel 32 counter-clockwise with the pen in Hole 1, (all the while inside Ring 56), the big Wheel 126 starts to roll counter-clockwise as well. So this is a trace of a fixed point (Hole No 1) on a small disk (Wheel 32) that rolls in a circle (Ring 56), all of which is part of a larger disk (Wheel 126) that rolls inside another larger circle (Ring 140). Whoah!
Here is the end result, drawn in 0.7 mm black liner. The Wheel 32 made 18 rotations in the Ring 56 while the Wheel 126 turned in the Ring 140, and then ended up in the same place.

Monday/ fake speech! fake speech!

Trump read something from the teleprompter today as a response to the mass shootings. I turned the TV off as soon as he came on.

Afterwards, I saw on Twitter that he couldn’t even read his fake speech right – a speech in which he blamed video games & mental illness for the shootings, and said nothing about any new legislation that could make a difference.

The teleprompter said “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Texas and Ohio….”. Trump read it as “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo….” and didn’t even bother to correct himself. Picture from Reuters, tweet by Andrew Feinberg.