Tuesday/ the hellscapes of summer

There was a place in the greater Los Angeles area that hit 121°F last week. That’s 49.5 °C. And so many fires— the fires that get worse every summer— in California, in Oregon and in Washington State.

Mostly sunny & smoke haze (87 °F/ 30.5 °C) for the city of Seattle tomorrow.

476 027 acres is 743 sq miles. I asked Google how many acres get scorched by wildfires every year, in Washington State. It seems the average is around 1 million acres (1,500 sq miles). That’s 2% of Washington State (71,000 sq miles).

Monday/ the US men are all out

Frances Tiafoe (22, coached by South African-born Wayne Ferreira) was last man standing of the American men, in the 2020 US Open tennis tournament. He lost against Russian Daniil Medvedev in straight sets today.

Tiafoe won the prestigious 2013 Orange Bowl at 15 years old, making him the youngest boys’ singles champion in the history of the tournament.

Serena Williams won in three sets over Maria Sakkari though, who had just beaten her two weeks ago in an earlier tournament.

Frances Tiafoe in action against Daniil Medvedev during today’s 4th round men’s singles match at the 2020 US Open. (Photo by Simon Bruty/USTA)
Frances Tiafoe in action against Daniil Medvedev. Medvedev, No 5 in the world, was too consistent and too sharp for Tiafoe to be a threat to him. (Photo by Simon Bruty/USTA)
Tiafoe had a Black Lives Matter sweater & mask on, as he came onto the court, and made sure that down to his shoes he makes makes a statement as well. There is none of the controversy around tennis players taking a stand about BLM, as there still seems to be to some extent in the National Football League, for example. (Photo by Simon Bruty/USTA)

Sunday/ shocker: Djokovic disqualified

From the US Open website:
In tennis, there are two ways to be defaulted from a match: through an accumulation of code violations or by a singularly egregious act.
In Novak Djokovic’s case from the US Open on Sunday, the incident was firmly the latter. After losing his service game to trail 6-5 in the opening set of his Round 4 match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, Djokovic struck a line umpire with a ball hit in anger, and was ultimately defaulted from the tournament by US Open Referee Soeren Friemel.

Not only is the overwhelming favorite to have won, out of the tournament— he also forfeited his 2020 US Open prize money for reaching the 4th round (a whopping $250,000) and the ATP ranking points he would have gotten.

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, checks on the lineswoman after accidentally hitting her on the throat with a ball, in reaction to losing a point to Pablo Carreno Busta, of Spain. A replay of the incident shows he just swatted the ball to the back fence, not hard, but carelessly, without looking where it might go.  A similar incident at Wimbledon in 1995, saw former British No 1 Tim Henman disqualified from Wimbledon, after hitting a ball girl. [Photo Credit: Seth Wenig, AP]

Saturday/ the Lake Travis Trump Boat Parade: a sinking proposition

It’s Labor Day weekend, and people are up to all kinds of crazy things .. like going onto a lake in relatively calm weather, and still managing to sink four boats.

There were no injuries. So it’s hard for me not to have a little schadenfreude over the mishap during the Lake Travis Trump Boat Parade.

From the New York Times:
Mr. Salinas (organizer of the boat parade) said he had seen boats of all sizes Saturday — from 60-foot yachts to eight-foot boats. Mixed with the number of boats headed in the same direction, their various sizes and the choppy water, Mr. Salinas said, accidents were bound to happen.
“You can have really great water one second, and it could get some pretty heavy swells in a matter of minutes,” he said. “Once boats get on a lake, mother nature has its own plans.”
Boaters were set to travel around the lake, which is about 15 miles northwest of Austin, at 10 miles per hour, according to the event’s Facebook page.
Other boat parades to display support for President Trump have taken place this summer.

Friday/ school starts .. sort of

The 2020/21 school year has started here in the Seattle school district, all online.  It was a ‘soft start’, so as to allow for connectivity issues to be resolved, and for everyone to get settled in with the technology that will be used.

Thursday/ two months to Nov. 3

There it was, on the radio today: the undecided voter. Some clueless person from Pennsylvania that told the interviewer that neither Trump nor Biden was an appealing option, and that she ‘had not made up her mind’.

So! I thought: you’re telling us that you cannot choose between the blue skies of a sunny day, or the pitch black of a moonless night; between candidates that are polar opposites — one good, and one a destroyer of decency and democracy.
We cannot help you. Don’t bother. Just stay home.

A banner that has been up for quite some time, near Madison & 20th Ave. (Apologies for the f-bomb). The banner assumes (correctly), that voters in Seattle will overwhelmly vote for the right candidate .. if only they can be convinced to vote.
‘This week, a slew of new, high-quality polls out this week confirmed their off-record observations: Biden continues to hold a steady lead over President Trump’. – Amy Walter writing for the Cook Political Report.

Wednesday/ Table Mountain’s table cloth

Table Mountain (elevation 3,563 ft/ 1 086 m) in Cape Town, South Africa, has an inch of snow on it.
Snow on the mountain is unusual, but not unheard of (there was snow in 2017).
The cable car up to the top has reopened (with masks required & a limited number of passengers).

A rock hyrax, also called the Cape hyrax, tries to catch a few rays of sun to warm up.  That’s Cape Town and Table Bay in the distance. [Photo Credit: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company]

Monday/ 50 yrs ago: no visa for Arthur Ashe

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
– Arthur Ashe, American tennis player (b. 1943- d. 1993)

The US Open tennis tournament starts in Queens, New York City today.
There will be no crowds at the courts, nor in Arthur Ashe stadium —the largest tennis stadium in the world (capacity 23,771).

It was 50 years ago, in Jan. 1970, when the South African apartheid government took an outrageous stand: it refused Ashe a visa to play in the South African Open tennis tournament. The fallout and damage to South African sport were extensive. It solidified South Africa’s pariah status in the sports world. The country had already been banned from the Olympics in 1964 & 1968. It would be until 1992 before South African athletes could again compete in the Games.

Reporting from the New York Times in Jan. 1970. It was in 1968 that Ashe had won the US Open, at the time of this controversy he had just won the Australian Open in 1970. In perhaps his most celebrated win, he won Wimbledon in 1975.

Sunday/ Lake Charles: a lot of damage

Hurricane Laura left a lot of damage behind in Lake Charles, La. There is still no water and no electricity, and it might take 6 weeks to restore both. Look at the hit that the Capital One Tower took. It opened in 1983, 22 floors, the tallest in the city.

Hurricane Rita damaged the building in 2005, and it went through years of renovations that was said to include ‘ballistic protection’ for the glass panels.
Well, it seems Hurricane Laura scoffed at that. One wonders what will be done now, to repair it. I question the wisdom of the architects, that had designed such a building for a hurricane-prone area, in the first place.

Saturday/ a dry August

We have only had 0.29 in of rain this August (average 0.75 in), and there is no precipitation in the forecast through the end of next week.

A glimpse of the sun from 18th Ave here on Capitol Hill. Monday marks the end of meteorological summer here in the north: June, July & August. (Meteorological seasons that use the exact calendar months make it much easier for meteorologists and climatologists to analyze seasonal statistics, which is crucial information for agriculture, commerce, and many other parts of the economy).

Friday/ new tires & old neon

My car needed new tires, so I went down to the Les Schwab tire center in Georgetown this morning.
They needed some time before they could get to my car, so I went for a walk.
By the time I got back at 11 am, there was already a line of people at the St. Vincent de Paul food bank across the street.
There was also a King County mobile medical clinic (big van) right next to the food bank building that provide a lifeline to homeless people.

The Marco Polo Bar & Grill with its 50’s neon sign is hanging in there. It’s a family-owned bar serving roasted chicken & pub grub.
A little further north I found this sign for the New La Hacienda Motel. (La Hacienda: ‘The Ranch’). The sign at the Vac Shop in the back says BLACK LIVES MATTER. Just last Sunday, there was another horrible police shooting of an unarmed black man (Jacob Blake) in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Then during the protests there on Tuesday, there was a white domestic terror attack (perpetrator: 17 yrs old with AR-15-style rifle) that left 2 people dead and one wounded. Pictures of the attacker sitting in the front row at a Trump rally surfaced soon thereafter. 

Thursday/ all the Trumpublicans

Here are some 1,500 people (very few masks, no social distancing in the seating), sitting through 71 minutes of Trump’s rambling acceptance speech for his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate, in front of the White House at the final night of the Republican National Convention.

All this violates the Hatch Act of 1939*. And now the White House is good enough as a prop for Trump .. did he not once call the White House a ‘dump’?

*The Hatch Act (1939), an ‘Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activities’, prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while they are working in an official capacity (such as setting up & hosting a political convention at the White House!).

Here is Steve Schmidt on Twitter@SteveSchmidtSES, mincing no words:

The desecration of the White House for Trump’s perverse political use is an abomination. The question of whether voters care about the Hatch Act is beside the point. It is the law. Trump’s convention was a pageant of breathtaking dishonesty, racial incitement and demagoguery. 1/

It was an exposition of lawlessness where the powerful symbols of State that belong to all of us were profoundly abused in the name of Trump’s personal vanity and political narcissism. The playing of Hail to the Chief and the use of USMC sentries attired in dress uniforms for 2/

political purposes was grotesque. Make no mistake about what Trump declared over these last four days. In essence he said, I AM THE TRUTH, I AM THE LAW, I AM THE STATE. The Republican Party’s platform has but one demand. One requirement. Obedience and loyalty to Trump. 3/

It is the definition of a cult of personality. This cult of personality is sustained by a vast, disaggregated and pernicious propaganda network that includes misinformation incepted and distributed by Russian Intelligence Services and other state actors, Fox News, OAN, 4/

Breitbart, a rancid collection of pundits and talk radio hosts , Internet trolls, Q Anon, and a thousand Facebook sites that teem and boil with conspiracy theories, extremism, menace, racism, antisemitism and misogyny. All of it together represents a grave danger to our 5/

national unity and democracy. There is a war being waged on truth and it turns out truth like the concepts of duty and patriotism was surrounded by many faithless friends. The complicity through both deed and silence of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins and 6/

so many more in service to the maliced alternate reality of Trumpism seen this week isn’t just disgraceful, it’s tragic and deadly. The RNC began with the appearance of the contemptible McCloskeys. Their awfulness was experienced by the children of the Synagogue who have 7/

the misfortune of worshipping God next door to the McCloskeys. The children established bee hives to curate honey for the Jewish holidays. The hives were accidentally placed inches over the property line. McCloskey took an axe to them. The only reason they were on television 8/

this week was for pointing weapons at Black people who were peacefully marching for justice and equality on their street. Their message speaks for itself. Their words had meaning. Matt Gaetz’ words had meaning. Kimberly Guilfoyle’s messianic blatherings of devotion had meaning.9/

A 17 year old heard the message. He lived in Indiana. He sat in the front row of a Trump rally. He heard it all. He took it all in. He was poisoned by it. He was converted by it. He was radicalized by Trumpism the same way young men in the Middle East are radicalized by extremism 10/

He drove to Wisconsin with his AR-15 to join the fight. He became a killer there. We ignore this radicalization at our great peril. There is indisputable cause and effect. We do not have the luxury to pretend there is not. 11/

This was another week of needless suffering and death in America. Thousands are dead since the gavel was struck on Monday. More families are shattered and more businesses are shuttered. That is the reality. School openings are in chaos and there is no plan. This week was 12/

Another putrid chapter in this ghastly Trump era. America knows the truth and the truth is this. Trump is untrustworthy and dishonest. He is a liar. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone but himself. He doesn’t care about your family or mine. He doesn’t care for our troops 13/

And he doesn’t care for America. He lacks humanity and decency and processes none of the noble virtues that built our nation. It is all on the line in November. Vote. @ProjectLincoln

Wednesday/ hurricane Laura

Hurricane season has started, and hurricane Laura is bearing down on the Texas & Louisiana coastline.  The storm had sustained winds of about 140 miles per hour in the Gulf of Mexico, and will dump up to 10 inches of rain onto areas close to the coast.

City and county officials in Texas and Louisiana have issued evacuation orders affecting more than 500,000 residents, particularly those living in low-lying areas. The Covid-19 epidemic is and added complication, and many of these residents simply do not have the means to evacuate.
Laura is expected to make landfall late Wednesday night or early Thursday, most likely in the marshy plains near the Texas-Louisiana state line. [Graphic from the New York Times].

Tuesday/ a hospital in Art Deco

I made a quick stop at a clinic in Harborview Medical Center this morning. (All is well).
The hospital was founded in 1877 as King County Hospital, a six-bed welfare hospital in a two-story south Seattle building.
By 1906, it had moved into a new building in Georgetown, with room for 225 patients. Another move occurred in 1931, when the center wing of the present hospital on First Hill was completed, and the hospital’s name was changed to Harborview.

The 2005 ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy ‘Seattle Grace’ Hospital was based on Harborview Medical Center.

Harborview Medical Center’s Art Deco entrance on 8th Ave in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood.

Monday/ the uncertainty of everything

Everything remains entirely uncertain.
– Andreas Kluth writing in an article for Bloomberg titled ‘An epidemic of depression and anxiety among young adults’

Credit: VAN DAM | Source: Landsmeer, Netherlands | Provider: CartoonArts International

As we careen toward the election-of-a-lifetime of Nov. 3, the Republican National Convention, with its scaremongers and ‘they are coming for you’ themes, has started.

The Trump Republican Party ditched its party platform this election cycle— essentially saying, we’re all-in with Trump, whatever he does and plans. In a way, they have no choice. They have destroyed everything, down to the US Postal Service, which had reliably been delivering mail for 240 years.

Trump is trying to steal the election again – the only way he can win. So will the lies & propaganda get the criminal, immoral, idiotic president into office again? .. with no plan to stop another 100,000 Americans from dying from the pandemic that has BY THE WAY also destroyed our ability to see family and friends, and celebrate life?

P.S. I’m really OK, I just feel bad for young adults, starting out in their lives and careers, and that did not deserve any of this mess.

Sunday/ pasta & parmesan

The region in Italy in which Parmigiano-Reggiano can be produced: the regions named Parma, Reggio Emilio and Modena. [From Wikipedia].
I like to make pasta on weekends — it’s quick and easy. The spaghetti & sauce that I use are cheap, but I don’t skimp on the cheese. I try to always have some Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand.

Parmesan was known as early as 1348. In the writings of Boccaccio (in the Decameron), he invents a ‘mountain, all of grated Parmesan cheese’, on which ‘dwell folk that do nought else but make macaroni and ravioli, and boil them in capon’s broth, and then throw them down to be scrambled for; and hard by flows a rivulet of Vernaccia, the best that ever was drunk, and never a drop of water therein.’

During the Great Fire of London of 1666, Samuel Pepys buried his ‘Parmazan cheese, as well as his wine and some other things’ to preserve them. [Source: Wikipedia].

PARMIGIANO, says the lettering on the rind of my little block of parmesan cheese.

Saturday/ most restaurants will have to close

Among a long list of requirements, restaurants here in King County are to operate at only 50% capacity or less, a maximum 5 people per table, and 6 ft of social distancing between tables and patrons.

Five months in, it’s early in the pandemic. As many as 85% of independent restaurants (they make up 70% of all restaurants) may go out of business by the end of 2020, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Yikes.

Coastal Kitchen’s sign was lit up on Friday night, but the doors were closed. I hope that this means that they are just temporarily closed, and not for good.
Some restaurants have added outdoor space that now goes right into the street. It’s good that this section of street was closed for the night, because traffic would drive by with very little room to spare. Rain and colder weather may come in September, definitely in October, and then this will no longer be possible to do.

Friday/ a blue falcon?

blue falcon, plural blue falcons (US, military, euphemistic definition)
A supposed comrade-in-arms whose actions harm his friends, often but not always, for his own benefit.

I edited O’Neill’s now-deleted tweet for him. [Robert J. O’Neill@mchooyah on Twitter]
Here is ex-Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill. He claims to have killed Osama bin Laden during the raid on his Abbottabad compound on May 1, 2011.

He tweeted this from a Delta Airlines flight to his 380k followers on Twitter. (The tweet has since been taken down).
He is now banned from flying on Delta Airlines.

Twitterati speculated that he might get an invite to speak at the Republican National Convention next week.

Thursday/ and here’s Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s acceptance speech, of his Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 general election, was well received.

Next week is the Republican Party’s Carnival of White Grievance (they call it a convention). Then there will be three debates —as if there is anything to debate— between Joe Biden and Donald Trump on Sep. 29, Oct. 15 & Oct. 22.