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.
‘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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
‘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 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.
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.