Monday/ the Democratic National Convention starts

“Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is”.
-Former First Lady Michelle Obama, in her speech closing out the first night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention


It was a great speech. That phrase ‘It is what it is’ is a reference to Donald Trump’s dismissive assessment of the state of the Covid-19 pandemic and its destruction of lives and jobs.

Even so, one has to wonder if a single voter in America will be ‘convinced’ by any Convention speaker’s entreatments to vote for Biden, and not for Trump.

You know already very well that Trump belongs in jail — OR you still support him after 3½ years, closing your eyes & ears to the destruction he still sows to this day. 

Caturday

Here’s a cute picture for caturday, as cat people like to call Saturday.
I don’t know the name of the artist.

Tuesday/ St Patrick’s Day

I would have loved to go out for a beer for St Patrick’s Day, but it will just have to wait. Everyone has to stay home to fight the spread of the epidemic.

P.S. It is also not a happy St Patrick’s Day in Boston for football fans. Tom Brady announced that he is leaving The Patriots.

It’s only Wednesday

• WHO declares COVID-19 disease a pandemic (at last)
• Seattle district schools closed for two weeks, as are gatherings of 250+ people, or smaller – if people are going to be ‘packed in like sardines’
• Italy closed for business (except drug stores & grocery stores)
• Stock market falls further; Boeing stock slumps a stunning 18% just today
• NBA league games cancelled, nationwide
• St Patrick Day’s parades cancelled in Boston & NYC
• Crowds at political rallies cancelled
• Stock market falls further; Boeing stock slumps a stunning 18% just today
• Late Wednesday, Trump read something from the teleprompter in the Oval Office that bans foreigners arriving from Europe for 30 days, excluding the UK

My friends and I debated if we should go out for our Wednesday night beers. In the end we said: let’s go eat, drink and be merry.
Who knows what tomorrow, next week and next month will bring?

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.

Black Friday/ dead?

No, not dead, but it’s bleeding all over Thanksgiving week and into Sunday. Some retailers already offered Black Friday sales last week.

There is Black Friday backlash as well. Seattle-based outdoor goods store REI closed its doors today. The company encouraged people to go outside, instead of going to the mall or shopping online. (Yes, I agree outside is better! It was sunny today, but too cold to spend the whole day outside, though).

An eye-catching (at least for me) Black Friday print ad from a newspaper. Oh! I thought at first. It’s a puzzle I have to solve, some sort of code. But no, it’s for a furniture and rug seller.

Sunday/ lots of ‘knuffels’

knuffel [Dutch] (plural knuffels, diminutive knuffeltje)
1. hug, cuddle
2. stuffed toy, plushie, soft toy (stuffed doll)
3. also (stuffed toy): knuffelbeest, knuffeldier


I found these stuffed animals in the Whole Foods grocery store (it’s Amazon-owned) on Westlake Ave. I liked the stuffed alpaca* best, Peruvian blanket on its back and all. The T-rexes at the back, are nice, as well. I’m just not sure they make the same excellent cuddle material as the alpaca. (Scary teeth).

*Llamas have long, banana-shaped ears, so this is not a llama.

A stuffed alpaca, mama & baby sloth, orangutan, and more.
And here’s the inimitable Captain Haddock, getting himself in trouble with a llama, in the Tintin Adventure called ‘Prisoners of the Sun’.

Saturday night

The hurricane is still a threat, but now it looks as if it might crawl up along the Florida panhandle instead of crossing it.

Another mass shooting. It started at a traffic stop, in Odessa, Texas. 5 dead, 21 wounded. I suspect we have one every other day, and not all of them even make the national news anymore.

There was spectacular US Open tennis on TV all day — broadcast from the courts at Flushing Meadows in the northern part of Queens, New York City.

I plan to go to Perth, Australia again for Christmas, and booked a fare on the new non-stop to Perth from Tokyo, on the All Nippon Airlines Boeing 787-8. So no Hong Kong for me this year — not even a stop at the airport.

Monday/ on scuba line duty

Kudos to French astronaut Thomas Pesquet for tweeting this picture from the Adventures of Tintin (it’s from Red Rackham’s Treasure, to be exact) alongside his own picture. The cartoon shows the bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson* doing lifeline duty on the deck of the ship, while Tintin is scuba diving in the water.

*In the French translation they are Dupond and Dupont; in Dutch: Jansen and Janssen; in Afrikaans: Uys and Buys.

Translation of the French text in the cartoon: ‘A fortnight later .. Thomson: Here we are,  pumping as usual … Thompson: As usual …’.

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.

Saturday/ Sandy Hook 2012, now already long gone

The massacres continue unabated here in the United States.
Saturday at an El Paso Walmart: 20 dead, dozens wounded. 
Early Sunday in Dayton, Ohio: 9 dead, 27 wounded.
Both are acts of domestic terrorism, committed by home-grown white nationalist Americans.

The Republicans and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell have repeatedly blocked laws passed by the House in the Senate.

The New York Times notes: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

It should be noted, though, that in 2013, Connecticut State lawmakers did make sweeping changes to the state’s gun laws. It did not impact gun sales very much, but today Connecticut has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation. (‘Lowest gun death rates’ is still a problem).

The United States of America with its lax gun laws: Awash in guns, awash in mass murderers. P.S. 2019 figures: 393 million guns in America, population 327 million.

Tuesday/ at the carwash

I learned not to park my car under the trees when I go play tennis at the Woodland Park tennis courts. Little spots of pine gum end up all over the car. Luckily, there is Uncle Ike’s Car Wash to take care of that.

The car wash used to be the ‘Brown Bear’ Car Wash, but it was bought out and taken over by Uncle Ike’s, the local marijuana products franchise.
Business must be booming for Uncle Ike’s!

My car wash routine is very simple. STEP 1: Rinse the car with the high-pressure rinser. STEP 2: Use the soapy broom with the soft bristles to go over the whole car & all windows. GO FOR IT and be THOROUGH but QUICK! You pay for every minute that you use the equipment! STEP 3: Final rinse with the high-pressure rinser (shown in picture), to get the soap off. All of this takes 5 or 6 minutes, and costs $6. And voila! you have a clean car.

Friday/ photo album conversion

I have completed the conversion of the best photos from my (physical) albums from yesteryear, into digital albums for my iPhone and iPad. It was a lot of work, but I am pleased with the results.

I had to scan in photos, adjust their image quality, research and add metadata such as Date Taken and Geotag coordinates.   I also created an ‘infographic’ starter image for each album – not essential, but I liked doing it.

I found out that syncing from a Windows PC to an iPhone or iPad has its limits, especially if more pictures are added later to the album, or if the metadata is changed in Windows.
The sync program does not pick up all metadata changes, and then one has to rename the file (ugh!) to get it to sync everything again to the iPhone or iPad.

Below are some of the albums as they appear on my iPhone.

Thursday/ shirt by Banana Republic

This beautiful orange polo shirt that I had ordered online from Banana Republic, arrived on my doorstep today. I love it – and it was only $24 (that’s a 40% discounted sale price).

Monday/ a shoe box light box

Necessity is the mother of invention, goes the saying, and I needed a light box to look at a shoe box full of old 35mm film negatives that I have. So I made a light box with a shoe box and a glass plate.

The other little problem: it is no longer possible to run down to the pharmacy on the corner, and get prints made in an hour from 35mm film*. Besides, one would want to have scans made directly from the film, instead of prints that would have to be scanned. It seems to me the options are to use an online service for film scanning, or to invest in a film scanner that will do the trick.

*Digital photography took over film some 15 years ago (in 2003, digital cameras outsold film cameras for the first time). So I’d have to ponder whether I want to buy a film scanner to bring some of these pictures back to life.

My shoe box light box. Hmm. How many of these are worth scanning or printing?, is what I am pondering. I see thedarkroom. com offers a service that runs $1 per frame for a Standard 1024×1536 (4.5 Mb) scan; $2 per frame for an Enhanced 2048×3072 (18.1 Mb) scan; $4 per frame for a Super 4492×6774 (87.1 Mb) scan. So I’d say if one is going to want any more than say, 100 frames scanned, a $200 scanner or even a more expensive $600 one, one might be worthwhile investing in.

Friday/ Easter

Easter is late this year, but here it is. (It is also Passover).
In Western Christianity, Easter Sunday must always follow the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Here in Seattle there has been a drizzle all day.
We call it motreën in Afrikaans: a ‘moth rain’.