Saturday/ cleaned out

Superb Cleaners dry cleaners on 15th Avenue has gone out of business.
No wonder, right?
In a stay-home-pandemic, people do not need much dry cleaning — not for business trips, not for the opera, and not for a Saturday night dinner party at a fancy friend’s house.

2021: Permanently closed, Superb Cleaners on 15th Avenue. Time will tell if another dry cleaning business will be operated in that space, or if another kind of business altogether will set up shop.
1955: The Hill Top Cafe, Philco Radio & TV shop, and Superb Cleaners with its original scaffolded sign. ‘Complete Plant’ simply means the dry cleaning is done right there on site, and not sent out somewhere else for cleaning. 
P.S. That stylish wagon with its white-wall tires and wood trim is a 1955 Ford Country Squire Station Wagon. 
[Source: Seattle Before and After at http://octopup.org/]

Friday/ Volunteer Park’s ducks

We had a lot of sun today.
It’s January, though – the doldrums of winter – and the day’s highs only made it to 45 °F (7 °C).
These pictures are from Monday.

Here’s the Volunteer Park reservoir, here on Capitol Hill in the city. Its water is not considered usable for drinking water (the city has already covered several other reservoirs with lids, but not this one). The Cedar River’s water filled the 22 million-gallon reservoir for the first time in January 1901. The chlorophyll in the moss on the parapet (low wall) around the reservoir, is glowing neon green in the sunlight.
Here’s a female mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), at one of the two duck ponds near the reservoir.
The male with its glossy green head, doing the duck thing, paddling in the water. Mallards are dabbling ducks: freshwater ducks that feed in shallow water by dabbling and upending as they look for food.
This species is the main ancestor of most breeds of domesticated ducks (the white ones that are kept for their meat, eggs and down). Mallard ducks were first domesticated in Southeast Asia, at least 4,000 years ago. [Source: Wikipedia]

Thursday/ time is fleeting

Art is long, and Time is fleeting ..
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from his poem ‘A Psalm of Life’ (1839)


An iPhone home screen from Twitter, showing 21:21 on Jan 21.

I know that our Gregorian calendar and Arabic numerals, used for date & time notation, is a completely man-made construct.

Even so: the clock here on the Pacific coast is about to run into a cascade of 21s, the way it has all over the world today.

At 9.21:21 pm tonight it will be the ..
21st second into the
21st minute into the
21st hour into the
21st day into the
21st year into the
21st century.

In Earth’s geological timeframe of 4.6 billion years, humans find themselves in the Halocene epoch of the Quarternary Period.  The Halocene epoch started some 11,650 years ago. I love the pictures of the dinosaurs and animals. That must be a Neanderthal man, and hey, a space shuttle right at the end. Last space shuttle flight was in 2011, but that’s OK. That was just a moment ago. [Source: A blog called NaturPhilosophie, run out of Glasgow, Scotland]

Wednesday/ The Biden has landed

‘There is always light.
Only if we are brave enough to see it.
There is always light.
Only if we are brave enough to be it.’

— National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman (22), delivering a poem at President Biden’s inauguration


It’s been a wonderful day here in the United States.
We now have President Joe Biden and Madam Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Before they were both sworn in, Lady Gaga sang The Star-Spangled Banner in her Schiaparelli scarlet & black couture, and wearing the largest golden peace dove brooch I had ever seen.
She made me cry (but Garth Brooks did not).

Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, as Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, holds the Bible. Harris’ purple coat was designed by rising-star designer Christopher John Rogers. [Photo by Andrew Harnik / Pool via Getty Images]
Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., just before noon Eastern Standard Time.  His wife, Dr. Jill Biden, is holding a hefty Bible, accented with a Celtic cross, that has been in his family since 1893. [Picture by REUTERS/ Kevin Lamarque]
President Obama looked impeccable as always. As a Twitter fan noted, about ‘Forever First Lady’ Michele Obama: she did not come to play. She came to slay, with a burgundy-shaded jacket & matching turtleneck sweater and wide-leg trousers. The designer is Sergio Hudson, a Black designer from South Carolina. She completed her chic outfit with an oversized gold belt buckle, black leather gloves, simple black mask; her hair down in bouncy curls. [Picture by Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post]

Tuesday/ more than 400,000 lives lost

Exactly one year ago on Jan. 19, 2020, a 35-year-old man checked into an urgent-care clinic in Snohomish County, Washington, with a 4-day history of cough & fever. He had arrived at Seattle-Tacoma airport on Jan. 15, after traveling back from visiting family in Wuhan, China, for three months.

The next day, the CDC confirmed that the patient’s nose and throat swabs had tested positive for 2019-nCoV, in a PCR test. He was the first known case of Covid-19 in the States. The patient got worse before he got better, but by Feb. 3, he was well enough to go home.

There must already have been many other unknown carriers of the virus in the Seattle area, though. The Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, was the first Covid-19 hotspot in the US. In February and March, 46 people lost their lives there.

By Jan. 19, 2021, the virus had made it into every county in the entire United States, and had killed 400,000 people.

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. with his wife, Jill Biden, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff. Today, Mr. Biden paid tribute to the victims of the pandemic, the same day that the death toll in the United States topped a staggering 400,000.

[caption from the New York Times/ Photo by Doug Mills/ NYT]

Monday/ it’s Martin Luther King Day

[Photo credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images]
Here is Dr Martin Luther King Jr, speaking on the Mall in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963, after a civil rights march. This is where he delivered his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.

Fast forward some 57 years, and in that time the United States had  inaugurated its first black president — twice.

In 2016, though, the archaic electoral college system, and vast social media disinformation campaigns, resulted in the first white supremacist president to be elected.

In 2021, that Capitol building in the distance would be overrun by violent white supremacists, seeking to overturn the free & fair* election results of 2020.
So now there is a vast amount of work to do, to eradicate a pandemic of lies about the election, along with the pandemic of the Covid-19 virus.

*A generous characterization? .. given the voter suppression, the non-stop gaslighting of voters by the sitting president and his allies, and the damage done to the US Postal service, in order to interfere with mail-in ballots and mail-in votes.

Sunday/ the Mall is closed

The long, grassy National Mall in Washington DC is home to the Lincoln Memorial and the equally iconic Washington Monument. It fills up with people during the inauguration of a newly elected American president. That will not happen this year with Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

The Capitol building, and a large area around it, is patrolled and filled to the hilt with National Guardsmen, US Capitol Police, Washington DC police, the Secret Service – you name it.

I guess it is all a fitting end to the unmitigated disaster that was the Trump presidency.  The FBI published dozens of ‘FBI Seeking Information’ posters with pictures of the Jan 6. attackers. Several characters been marked ‘ARRESTED’ (dude with feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk; dude with horns & furs, and megaphone; ‘Baked Alaska’, a right-wing social media personality that live-streamed the scene from inside the Capitol with more than 5,100 viewers watching).

Trump is said to entertain the pardoning of at least 100 more criminals, in the final hours of his presidency. One wonders if any of those already arrested by the FBI, will get a pardon. I would hazard a guess and say they will not.    

That non-scalable fence is 8 ft high, but even so, razor wire is also being installed along its top. [Picture from Sunday taken by Evelyn Hockstein/for The Washington Post]

Saturday/ winter tennis

My social tennis club organized a special winter session for us: outdoors at the courts at Lower Woodland Park by Green Lake.
The sun did not really shine (48 °F/ 9 °C), and the courts were not completely dry – but hey, we got to play some tennis.

The sports fields at Lower Woodland Park by Green Lake. Is that thing the sun? Why yes, it is.
A company called Curative operates this Covid-19 testing kiosk at Lower Woodland Park. One collects one’s own sample by swabbing a Q-tip inside each cheek, upper and lower gums, underneath and top of the tongue, and the roof of the mouth. Results in 48 hours, by text & e-mail. The test is 90% accurate. Cost is $325 and per Curative’s website ‘COVID-19 testing could be reimbursed by your health plan or the government’. So that’s a definite maybe.

Thursday/ my new animals

My shipment from Amazon Japan* has arrived: a chess set, which I will show later, and three animal figures to add to my collection.

*German international courier DHL picked the package up in Tokyo, flew it to their hub in Cincinnati, and then on to Seattle where it was put on the delivery truck. Yes, I know, I am a bad person. I should not burn fossil fuels to buy a product that is made from fossil fuels (plastic). Sorry.

I had to get the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), because I had one in my hand in the Yodobashi store in Tokyo, and put it back on the shelf. There are fewer than 2,000 pandas left in the wild. An additional 400 are in captivity, most of those in China. Pandas play an enormous role as ambassadors for China, and to generate goodwill towards the country around the world. (Model is Schleich 14772 Giant Panda, Male. Introduced 2017).
The gray wolf (Canis lupus), a native Washington State species, nearly became extinct in the state in the early 1900s. The Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife reported in 2019 that there were at least 145 wolves living in 26 packs in the state. (They are elusive and hard to count). (Model is Schleich 14821 Wolf, Introduced 2019).
And my collection did not have an American bison (Bison bison) until today, so that could certainly not stand! The vast herds on the North American continent are estimated to have had 60 million animals at their peak. They were just about hunted into extinction by the animal called Homo sapiens: by 1889 there were 541 left. Recovery efforts were put in place, and today there are some 31,000 in the wild. (Schleich 14714 American Bison. Introduced 2014).

Wednesday/ impeached, again

And there it is.

From the Washington Post, today. 
Trump’s Senate Trial will start on Jan. 19 at the earliest. Joe Biden’s inauguration is on Jan. 20, at which time Moscow Mitch also gets downgraded to minority leader in the Senate. Trump has no legal team, no credible defense, and the events of Jan. 6 looks worse every day now, as more of what happened is revealed. [Front page of the New York Times for Thu Jan 14]

Tuesday/ welcome on board

Cabin crew dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE) await passengers before a flight from Amsterdam to China. [Photo: Justin Jin for South China Morning Post newspaper]
We still have airplane passengers here in the States that get away with wearing no mask on the airplane. Why is that? They need to be removed and added to the no-fly list for 10 years, with the rest of the FBI’s domestic terrorists.

Here are a few excerpts from photojournalist Justin Jin’s recent visit to Shanghai (to visit his cancer-stricken dad in the hospital), as described in the South China Morning Post:

To get on one of the few exorbitantly priced flights, I have to pass two Covid-19 tests. One will draw a sample from my nose and the other from my blood, with both needed to be taken within 48 hours before departure at a lab approved by the local Chinese consulate. When I get my results, I have to upload them together with a long list of personal data via a phone app to the consulate, which then activates a QR “health” code on my phone required for boarding my plane in Amsterdam.

Many of the mostly Chinese passengers come fully protected, too. Since each of us carries double-negative results to get on the flight, this cabin must be one of the safest places in Europe. The Chinese passengers also follow instructions to stay in their seats as much as possible, even avoiding the toilet during the 12-hour flight. I also avoid the bathroom, my confidence shaken by the behavior of those around me.

Upon landing, customs officers comb through the plane to see if anyone has fallen ill. Our flight gets the all-clear to disembark, and we file into a Covid-19 testing station, getting another QR code and passport check along the way. Almost everything is shielded and contactless, a precise choreography of anticipated human movement.

Even though I have by now three certified negative test results, I am still a suspect in China’s eyes. There’s always a chance of catching something on the way. And since the tests I have had are not perfect, I shall endure a 14-day strict quarantine at my own cost. (At the hotel, Justin describes the severe cleaning procedures at the hotel. The hallway is disinfected every time a person had entered it, for example).

. . .

In free and democratic Europe, people live under the repressive shadow of Covid-19. In China, the system is restrictive, but people are almost completely safe from the virus imprisoning much of the world. They are free to hug, to party and to prosper.

The same night my brother takes me to a crowded wine bar in Shanghai with friends. There are no masks, no talk of vaccines and, for a moment, no worries. It feels so 2023.

Monday/ Article I: Incitement of Insurrection

Part of the Article of Impeachment. There is a reference to the Sat. Jan. 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger as well, in which Trump repeatedly tried to strong-arm him, and then threatened him, in his attempt to overturn the certified Georgia results. One can argue that that phone call alone, is an impeachable offense. And then came the run-up to Jan. 6, and Trump’s incitement of his followers at a rally in Georgia. When the assault on the Capitol happened on Jan. 6, the Trump family were watching it unfold on TV, and cheering.

It’s Monday night, and the Instigator-in-Chief is still in the White House.
The Article of Impeachment document has been published.
The latest is that the House will call for a vote on the Article of Impeachment by Wednesday night.

Here’s MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, explaining how Trump could be ousted. The Democrats want A or B, so that Biden can start his Presidency without lengthy impeachment hearings in the Senate. If the Dems are forced to impeach Trump in the House, they may wait several months before sending the Article to the Senate. (Yes, Trump can be impeached in the Senate even though he would already be out of office).
Plan A: Trump resigns, after getting VP Mike Pence to pardon him afterwards (the way Ford pardoned Nixon).
Plan B: Trump is removed by 25th Amendment.  Not likely, but if enough Republicans stay away and do not vote on the Amendment, it will be easier to get to 2/3 from those present in the Senate to vote Trump out with the 25th. 
Plan C: Trump is impeached (again). Also unclear if 2/3 in the Senate will find him guilty. What an indictment of the Republicans: that it’s doubtful if even 17 out of 50 would honor their vow to the Constitution.  (50 Dems + 17 Republicans = 2/3 of 100 Senators).

Sunday/ scenes from Gas Works Park

I felt like a change of scenery today for my walk, and went down to the Gas Works Park area on Lake Union.

Looking south here. That’s Interstate 5 and the Ship Canal Bridge with its double-deck truss (opened Dec. 1962). On the left edge is the fishing vessel Peggy Jo, built in Tacoma in 1966. This may be a fueling dock. I believe that orange ‘float’ line is to keep accidental oil or gas spills from spreading out further on the water. Look for the Space-Needle-in-a-haystack elsewhere in the picture.
A view across Lake Union to the southeast. Merrymakers on the water and a lone sailboat. That prominent square building on the horizon, towards the right, is St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. Its intended architecture was never completed. The reason is the fateful date of its groundbreaking for construction: Sept. 1928, a year before the start of the Great Depression. Construction was incomplete when the cathedral was dedicated on April 25, 1931, and the parish was in default on its mortgage throughout the 1930s. The cathedral was foreclosed upon in 1941 and shut for the next two years. From 1943 -44, the US Army used the cathedral as an anti-aircraft training facility. The mortgage was finally paid off in 1947. [Source: Wikipedia].
This raft of waterfowl is a group of American coots (Fulica americana). They are not ducks: they belong to the rail family, Rallidae.
I finally arrived at Gas Works Park: a 19.1-acre public park on the site of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, located on the north shore of Lake Union at the south end of the Wallingford neighborhood. [Wikipedia]
Just some interesting geometric lines to look at. Maybe a cylinder or some other structure had rested on these as a foundation.
Needles, all the way down?*. A view from the little promenade that overlooks Lake Union.
*It’s my picture – but I’m borrowing the title from a similar picture that I had seen a while ago on Reddit.
And the clear view, almost due south, of the ever-changing city skyline. That’s Queen Anne Hill on the right, one of the highest spots in the city at an elevation of 456 feet (139 m).

Saturday

It’s Caturday, as ailurophiles (cat lovers) like to say.

Look at those beautiful eyes. A picture posted in Nov. 2020 on the popular Instagram account ‘missenell’ from Copenhagen, Denmark. On the left is Gilbert, a 4-year old Bengal, and on the right is Nelly, a 5-year old Birman-Ragdoll mix.

Friday/ Pelosi to Trump: you have to resign

Letter from Pelosi’s office today. (I corrected the date for them).

It is starting to look as if Trump is going to be impeached for a second time, with 12 days left in his term.
The rats have started to jump ship. Education Secretary Betsy De Vos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger and others have resigned, possibly to avoid getting drawn into supporting Trump’s removal from office with the 25th Amendment.  First step to do this is for VP Mike Pence and for a majority of the cabinet, to provide a written declaration to the Senate .. but Pence is not going to do it. (25th Amendment removal requires 2/3 majorities in both the House and in the Senate).

So now to Impeachment 101 again.
It only requires a majority vote in the House to impeach. (The Democrats are in the majority, check).
Three House members already have a draft with one article for insurrection. (Trump encouraged & egged on the rioters of Wednesday; 5 people died, including a US Capitol Police officer).

Nancy Pelosi seems to be ready to have a vote on Monday.
Impeachment in the House is followed by a Senate trial. Conviction & removal requires 2/3 of the Senate, though. Neither the 25th Amendment nor impeachment automatically disqualifies Trump from running in 2024, but a clause in the 14th Amendment Section III can be written into the impeachment, to bar Trump from ever running again.

Whatever happens: Trump is not going to run again for president.
His Twitter account was permanently suspended today (for inciting violence), leaving himself & his 88 million followers in the dark.
He is likely going to be prosecuted for tax fraud and money laundering by New York State. He pardoned criminals, but he will not be able to pardon himself out of crimes that he would be found guilty of by the state of New York.

Thursday/ new utility poles

It looks like my street block is getting some new utility poles.
We worked with the data for these utility poles on my project at Southern California Edison. That utility company covers an enormous area, and the utility pole database had some 5 million records (for 5 million utility poles).

The fun starts when you also carry joint-use poles in the database. These are poles owned by one utility (say, it is owned by Seattle City Light, and carries overhead power cables), which then leases space on it to other utilities (say, to CenturyLink for hooking telephone coaxial cable onto).

The standard utility pole in the United States is about 40 ft (12 m) long and is buried about 6 ft (2 m) in the ground. The wood is pressure-treated and this pole is probably Douglas fir or Pacific silver fir, firs native to the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday/ the trashing of American democracy

‘It was like an attempted coup wrapped inside a violent riot wrapped inside some cosmetic protests on the outside’.
– Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, several days after the events of Jan 6.


It was a hell of a news day here in the United States.
It started out well enough, with news that the Democratic contenders for Senator were projected to win their races in Georgia.

At the same time, in Washington DC, hundreds of rioters had gathered by the US Capitol, and then many broke into the hallowed US Capitol building while Congress was counting the certified electoral votes.

Members of Congress had to be rushed away to safety, and could only come back several hours later to proceed with the counting. (They were still at it by midnight DC time).

The rioters took the nameplate off of Pelosi’s office door, shattered a mirror in her office and left a threatening note, and just trashed the US Capitol in general.

A female Trump supporter was shot dead in the Capitol. (Late tonight it was reported that four people had died in and around the Capitol).

So far, only 52 arrests have been made (there were many more than 52 invaders in the Capitol & many crimes committed today).
Three suspicious devices with pipe components and wires were found and were removed.

Trump issued a pathetic video (his staff had to prod him), reiterating his lie ‘the election was stolen’ and to the rioters that ‘we love you’ and that they need to go home.
Three of his violence-inciting tweets were removed and his Twitter account was locked for 12 hours on Wednesday night.

We have 14 days to go to January 20. Is Trump plotting his next attack? asked cable news anchor Rachel Maddow.

The cover of the latest Bloomberg Businessweek. Mid-day Wednesday: a hodge-podge of militia men, Confederate flaggers, Trumpers, QAnon conspiracy theorists, Covid-iots (no masks) and just vanilla idiots that call  themselves patriots, on the steps of the US Capitol building. These people think that they own the country, that they own democracy, and that they own all of us. Well: you do not get to do what you want. We still have ‘law and order’, to quote your ‘President’.

Tuesday/ testing, at a cost

The pandemic killed the second-hand clothing consignment store that used to be here on 15th Ave. & Republican St on Capitol Hill.
I see a same-day Covid-19 testing service has set up shop there, next to Rudy’s barbershop. The PCR test* they offer is not cheap: $195. They promise results within 36 hours. Another option is the quicker, but less reliable, rapid antigen test ($175).

*The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test actually detects RNA (the genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection. The antigen test looks for protein fragments created by the immune system’s response to the presence of the virus.

The same-day clinic on 15th Avenue, is run by Praesidium Diagnostics, based in Venice, California. To be sure, there are several other options for testing in Seattle, and some are free. I guess it might be difficult to get an immediate appointment, though – or the wait in the walk-up/ drive-up line, might be several hours.
2021 … The Year We Make Contact, says this cartoon. Yes: I hope to get by without needing a test, until I get my vaccine. We just have to get the vaccines that have landed, out of the freezers that they were sent in, and into the arms of the humans that are clamoring for it. We need to use those empty sports stadiums & convention centers, and run thousands of people through them every day. 
Cartoon Credit: AMORIM
Source: Correio do Povo – Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Provider: CartoonArts International

Monday/ what will Pence do?

I cannot wait (rubbing my hands together) for Jan. 20, when the Trump family and their enablers will be evicted from the White House.

Before that, though, tomorrow Tuesday, there is the two Georgia 2020 Senate race run-off elections tomorrow. Each of the Democrats has a slim lead in the polls.  (There was Trump’s subversive phone call on Saturday to Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, urging him to overturn the certified Presidential election results in Georgia. By now Trump should have been impeached 6 or 7 times already). 

Then on Wednesday, Trump lap dog and VP Mike Pence has to preside over a joint session of Congress. Sealed certificates from each state, that contain a record of their certified electoral votes, will be opened. A dozen or so Republican Senators and a 100+ Republican House members are reportedly going to contest the certified results.

What will Pence do?

Conservative political commentator and Never Trumper offering outside-the-box thoughts, on what Pence would do on Wednesday. I cannot see that happening, though. Pence is the blandest of politicians. He will sit there and ‘hear’ the ‘objections’ to the certified results. Then he will something like ‘it’s time to move on/ to heal the country’, and verify that Joe Biden has won the election. Done.