Thursday/ making like an otter

Here’s a scanned 35mm photo negative, from my newest Google Photos album called ‘1990 Otter Hiking Trail’. (Yes, that’s me in 1990, striking an ‘otter’ pose for the camera. The water from the mountain stream is perfectly fine for drinking. The brown color comes from tannins leaching into the water from tree roots and decaying vegetation).

The Otter Hiking Trail is a five-day hiking trail along the Garden Route coast of South Africa and is named for the Cape clawless otter which occurs in this region.

Wednesday/ another debate .. yawn

A panel of opinion writers at the Times gave Elizabeth Warren the nod as the winner of the debate. Is anybody paying any attention anymore? Debate host CNN caught some flak for setting up a Sanders-Warren feud and fanning the flames, about the electability of a woman as president. (Sanders denied he said that explicitly, Warren insists that he did).

There was another Democratic debate on TV on Tuesday night. There have been too many.
If we are to believe the polls, these are the top contenders, in no particular order –
Joe Biden
Bernie Sanders
Elizabeth Warren
Pete Buttigieg
Tom Steyer
Amy Klobuchar

Joe Biden is not a good debater, but he’s still most likely to be the Democrats’ nominee to face Trump in the 2020 election. (Yes, it really does not look as if Moscow Mitch and his jellyfish caucus of Republican Senators will allow witnesses & a fair hearing to oust the criminal and immoral President of the United States in the upcoming impeachment trial in the US Senate).

Tuesday/ more snow coming

My crude snow gauge (a ruler stuck into the snow on my deck railing), shows 59 mm (2.3 in) at my house the last 48 hrs.

It was nice to see the clouds clear a little this afternoon, with a little sun and blue sky.

There is a lot more snow coming tonight, moving in from over the Pacific.

Most of it will be to the north of Seattle, and on the mountains to the east and the west of the city.

Monday/ Anna’s hummingbird

A hummingbird visited my backyard today, attracted by my cold-hardy mahonia’s bright yellow flowers.
(There was a little more snow on the ground on Monday morning, but not enough to make too much trouble on the city’s streets).

An Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna), sitting in the light snow on a tree branch in my backyard. These are medium-sized hummingbirds, native to the west coast of North America. The bird was named after Anna Masséna, Duchess of Rivoli (from France) in 1829.
I hope the hummingbird found a little nectar in the mahonia flowers. Those amazing little ‘motorized’ wings are powered by special muscle fibers — called fast glycolytic fibers —that respond rapidly to nerve impulses, and are fatigue-resistant.

Sunday/ light snow

A system with rain met arctic air from the Fraser Valley in Canada tonight here in the Pacific Northwest, and made for light snow on the ground here in the city.

I took this picture of my street is at 11 pm on Sunday night. There might be an inch or two more snow on the ground by Monday morning, say the meteorologists. Monday’s high will hover just below freezing (30°F/ -1 °C). Brrr!

Saturday/ South Africa’s diamonds and animals

My bundle of mail held by the post office arrived on Saturday.
One of them was a package of books & magazines I had shipped to myself from South Africa in October. The package was plastered with stamps of fabulous diamonds and ‘big five’ animals.

Famous diamonds from South Africa: The Star of South Africa (1869), The Eureka (1866), The Centenary (1986), The De Beers (1988) and the newest one of fame, the Blue Moon of Josephine (2014), a flawless 12-carat blue diamond, sold at auction in 2015 for a record $48.4 million.   The Big Five: African buffalo, Black Rhinoceros*, Leopard, Lion and African Elephant. *My usual disclaimer: the Big Five are for conservation and NOT FOR HUNTING. Only 5,000 black rhinos remain in the wild, a number that is double the 1995 number, though. The White Rhinoceros should really be a big fiver too, with some 20,000 still in the wild. Giraffes and hippos could certainly qualify, as well.

Friday/ unpacking my bags

My bags are unpacked.
As usual,  I dug out several items between the layers of clothes in my suitcases that I had ‘acquired’ during my visit to Tokyo and Perth.

I admit I may have gone a little overboard this time with my animal figures, but they are all great additions to my collection. Clockwise from top left: Giant Sable Antelope, Black Wildebeest, Eland, Three-toed Sloth, American Bison, Bald Eagle, Raccoon, baby Polar Bear, Scarlet Macaw.
And I added three small cones (aluminum, brass, copper), and three spheres to complete my collection of geometric shapes. These are from the Tokyo Hands craft store.

Thursday morning/ arrival in Seattle

Flying east from the Far East, and across the international dateline, makes one end up in the Far West. And hey, if your day was off to a bad start, you get to start it ‘again’!
Here’s the bird that flew all the way to Seattle from Tokyo, at the gate after its arrival at Seattle-Tacoma airport. It’s a twin-jet Boeing 787-8.

My flight on Japan Airlines was off to a late start (an hour delay), but after that everything went without a hitch.

There wasn’t an empty seat on the plane.

Thursday night/ at Narita airport

I’m at Narita airport, ready to board for my flight to Seattle.
It was 52 °F/ 11 °C and sunny in Tokyo today, so it was great to be outside and enjoy the sun.
I did get to see the inside of the new scarlet red Marunouchi Line train cars. It is really not much different, or more luxurious, than the older cars.

Lots of Japan Airlines tail fins. This is from the observation deck at Narita Airport’s Terminal 2.
Here comes the green train from the Yamanote Line, as it approaches the Akihabara station.
This is the platform at the Kanda station on the Yamamote Line. Classic old train station ironwork for the pillars and roof trusses.
The stairs down from the Kanda platform with the stepped rail, makes a nice abstract art picture.

Wednesday night/ around Tokyo station

I had a nice nap on Wednesday morning to make up for the sleep I had lost on the red-eye flight from Perth to Tokyo, and then I went out for a bit.

I ran out to Yodobashi camera store in Akiba to have my Seiko watch’s battery replaced (20 mins wait, and only ¥1,020/ US $9.34, a bargain).
Hey! And here is one of the brand new Marunouchi Line 2000 series trains. I was tempted to lean over the railing to get a better picture with the train at a stop, but that would definitely have gotten me in trouble. I should have gotten on it for a little ride though, even though it went the other way. I will go look for one again on Thursday. These trains have ‘glowing scarlet’ exterior paintwork, as the Marunouchi carriages return to their trademark red color for the first time in 30 years.
Lots of red taxi cab tail lights, near Tokyo station. The city’s fleet of gleaming black Tokyo 2020 taxi cabs are ready to ferry the foreigners coming to the Olympic Games this summer, around the city.
A luxury bus pulling up at Tokyo station. These go to cities like Osaka and Yohohama, a slower but cheap alternative to the expensive shinkansen (bullet trains).

Wednesday morning/ arrival in Tokyo

It was rainy and  4 °C ( 39 °F) at my arrival at Tokyo’s Narita airport, and much the same when the Narita Express pulled into the 5th floor below Tokyo station.  I made it to the hotel OK, without getting too wet.

Hmm .. a little bit of my favorite Häagen-Dazs ice cream flavor (Belgian chocolate), served frozen brick solid on the airplane. Luckily for me, the Second Law of Thermodynamics apply 30,000 ft up in the air as well: systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium, and so the ice cream melted and softened in due time.
Welcome to Japan! .. on the way downstairs to pick up my luggage and go catch the Narita Express train.
Here comes the beast ⁠—the 9.15 am Narita Express to Tokyo Station ⁠— albeit 20 minutes LATE. We were only told that there was an ‘accident’. I read online that sometimes (most times?) an ‘accident’ means someone was attempting suicide by jumping in front of the train.
Once on the train, the world flies by for an hour: fields and tress, buildings, houses, bridges, level crossings.

Tuesday night/ Tokyo bound

My time in Perth has come to an end, and so I am heading north, the way I came.

It’s 9½ hours to Tokyo, and I will stay over on Wednesday night.

These friendly ‘air personnel’ Kinder candy characters are from the duty free store at Perth airport.

Tuesday morning/ ATP Cup tennis

The 2020 ATP Cup is a new annual 24-country tennis team competition, hosted by Tennis Australia in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney. So we jumped at it when we got complimentary tickets to watch some of the action here in Perth.

The sparse crowd inside of Perth’s RAC Arena (constructed in 2012). We watched the two singles matches (there is also one doubles match) in the Russia vs. Norway match-up in Group D. This is the little opening ceremony with Norway’s flag on the left and Russia’s on the right. We all stood while they played the national anthems. Let me just note:  Russia has one of the world’s great national anthems (composer Alexander Alexandrov; Stalin commissioned him and lyrist Sergey Mikhalkovto create a national anthem and it was adopted in 1944).
This is the Russia team’s No 2 player, 23-year old Karen Khachanov, 1.98 m (6 ft 6 in) tall. He was born in Moscow, and is of Armenian descent.
Here is Viktor Durasovic, Norway’s No 2, serving against Khachanov as his team mates and captain look on. In team tennis, the team mates and coaches can offer advice and support from the court side .. which is not allowed on the ATP professional tennis circuit tournaments.
The Durasovic double-handed backhand. Good form, meeting the ball down low and in front, but not good enough for a win against Khachanov. He lost 1-6, 2-6.
The next singles match between the No 1’s on the teams, had Russia’s Daniil Medvedev take on Norway’s Casper Ruud. Here he is hitting a powerful forehand on a short ball. Medvedev had compiled a very good  record in 2019, pushing him up all the way to No 5 in the ATP world rankings.
And here is Norway’s Casper Ruud, playing against Medvedev.  The match was fairly close: Ruud losing 3-6, 6-7 (6-8), in the end. By then Norway was down 0-2 matches, and Russia had effectively won the tie.

Sunday/ my big film scanning project

Two weeks ago, I discovered an entire shoe box of my old ’80s and ’90s film negatives (35 mm) and slides in my brother’s house.

We promptly went out and bought a cheap flatbed scanner (Epson perfection v370) that can scan slides and film, and I have been patiently feeding the scanner reams of 35 mm film.

The plan is to upload all the pictures to Google Photos, but only after I had date-stamped and geo-tagged them as well.

That way the Google photo engine will be able to search for, and group all the faces for me, put them on a timeline sequence, and also on a world map by location: very nice.

‘Nothing escapes Agfa’ was a tagline long used for Agfa’s 35 mm film. This colorful print envelope from 1998 could accommodate panoramic prints and must have been a high point in the consumer film development and printing age. Alas, digital cameras made its film obsolete, and 2004, Agfa-Gevaert withdrew its products from the consumer market, including photographic film, cameras and other photographic equipment.
Check it out: no squinting at your 35 mm negatives, there is an index printed on the inside of the envelope. And that date printed at the top of the printed index could prove to be very valuable later. I have to engage in some serious sleuthing to put even a accurate YEAR on some of my 35 mm negatives that are undated.

Saturday/ Perth Cultural Centre

Here are a few pictures from my walkabout in Perth’s Cultural Centre on Friday.

An eye-catching mural on the corner of Aberdeen Street and Museum Street.
I love the colorful triangles on the sidewalk. This is right by the New Museum for Western Australia, scheduled to open in November of this year.
And here is the New Museum of Western Australia (WA). Its lines remind me just a little bit of Seattle’s Public Library. It was designed by a collaboration of Australian architecture firm Hassell and Dutch architectural firm OMA. Here are pictures, of the inside. 
This gorgeous building at 27 Museum Street is the only surviving residential building in the area. It was built in 1897, and is a pair of two-story semi-detached houses in the Federation Queen Anne style. The building now serves as offices for a Perth college.

Friday/ ten-pin bowling is fun

I went bowling with my family on Friday night.
The bowling alley looks and feels much the same — almost identical! — as the old Imperial Lanes bowling alley off Rainier Ave in Seattle. (Sadly, it closed down in 2015).

Check out my form in the ‘action sequence’ below. Not bad, but I have work to do: not a single strike in the ten frames*.  I did clean up the spares that had remained after the first ball, on several frames.
*It’s a strike when all ten pins are knocked down with the first ball rolled.

Thursday/ the train to Fremantle

I was in downtown Perth, and took the train to Fremantle today from there.
It takes about 30 minutes, and the train stops at 14 stations along the way.
To get back home to Bull Creek, there is no train: one has to take the bus.

Left: The train route from Perth station to Fremont station (about 30 mins). Right: The No 501 bus route from Fremont station to Bull Creek station (about 30 mins).
Here is Perth station. The Fremantle southbound line runs from on Platform 7. This one is above ground, and should not to be confused with Perth Underground station.
I arrived at Fremantle station at 4.00 pm on the nose. Note the white swan ornaments on the roof line. This station building was constructed in 1907, near the site of the original Fremantle station that was established in 1881.
I am sure the stories that the Federal Hotel at 23 William St in Fremantle can tell, are many and legendary. (Among others, it has seen a double murder upstairs). The hotel opened in July 1887, and has been renovated several times since then.
This cute dinosaur near the Fremantle station in a park, makes noises and opens and closes its eyes. It is a Parasaurolophus, and roamed around in Canada some 70 million years ago.
Here is the Fremantle town hall building and its tower. It opened in 1887. The crane behind it is located on King’s Square.
The Kings Square Renewal Project aims to revitalize the centre of Fremantle’s civic and commercial heart. Western Australia is doing well with the upswing in the commodities industry (record prices were paid for iron ore exported from the state in 2019, for example).
The colorful courtyard of an old shopping center called. Westgate Mall. I guess that’s graffiti on the walls, but I like the pattern painted on the paving.
Fremantle has a number of these gorgeous old ficus trees (at least that’s what I think they are).
This old brick building is near the railway line, and the port of Fremantle. Back in its heyday i twas used to store bales of wool from the interior of the country, for export.
Here is the train from Perth, running south towards Fremantle station.

Wednesday/ sharpening its beak

Alright .. one more picture of the pink and gray cockatoo called the galah.
This one was in an eucalyptus by the tennis courts here in Bull Creek.
It is steadying itself, while sharpening its beak on the hard bark of the tree trunk.

Hello, 2020

2020 is a leap year. Not all years divisible by 4 are leap years — centennial years not divisible by 400 are not.
So 2000 was a leap year, but 2100 will not be a leap year.

Monday/ sunset at Bathers Beach

The city of Fremantle is just south of the Swan River’s outlet into the Indian Ocean. We went there for fish & chips on Sunday night, and I had time for just a few pictures before it started to rain.

Bathers Beach is straight ahead, and to the left are eateries and the Two Fins fish & chips restaurant where we had a bite.
It was blustery as the sun was setting, and so the bathers at Bathers Beach were long gone!
Here is the old and the new in Cliff Street in Fremantle. To the left is a building that now houses the Western Australia Shipwrecks Museum, and to the right an administrative building of the University of Notre Dame Australia.