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’.

Wednesday/ the bad, the worse, and the absolute worst

We don’t even know exactly what’s in the Mueller Report yet (we only know the Barr Summary of the Mueller Report), but Trump and his supporters have been taking a victory lap all week.

There Trump was on TV, in all his fake news & lying glory, gesturing while saying ‘the report is a complete and total exoneration‘ – while the report took great pains to specifically say its findings are not an exoneration.

On Monday night’s Late Show, Stephen Colbert crossed off ‘colluded with Russia’ from this list (since Mueller’s Report apparently says he did not do that – even though Trump Jr did). The title of this list is way too kind to Trump. He is not just bad. He has to be the absolute worst president the United States of America has had. [Source: CBS Television, YouTube]
Just look at this list of open investigations. It’s a real list. Seventeen. Other presidents (think: Obama) had NONE, or maybe one. Or two. So yes, looks like we can cross No 1 off the list. Trump did not collude with Russia. But he broke campaign finance laws in 2016 and lied about it; probably has not paid his taxes the last 10 years, or ever; employed undocumented workers; overruled the FBI to get security clearances for Jared and Ivanka .. on and on and on. [Source: CBS Television, YouTube]

Monday/ books galore

I went out to the annual book sale of the Seattle Public Library on Saturday. Part of the attraction for me to the sale, is just the browsing through all the books – not so much the cheap prices.

There was a long line to get in to the cavernous hall at Seattle Center, and all the while people were leaving with armsful and roller bags full of books. Will there be any left? wondered those of us in line. But once we got in, there were still plenty to choose from.

I (think) I have somewhat unusual preferences when it comes to books: foreign languages, dictionaries, technical/ math books, and children’s books with nice pictures in. Here is what I ended up taking away, all for just $12. (And yes, now I will have to go visit Ireland and Estonia).
‘The Buck Book’ did not make the final cut of books that I bought .. but it shows some very unusual origami projects for a dollar bill. This one is for folding one into an elephant!
Nor did the Goldilocks and the Three Bears children’s book make the final cut .. and now I kind of regret that I did not take the book. Baby bear, Papa bear and Mama bear are all very cutely drawn.

St Patrick’s Day

Sunday was St Patrick’s Day, all over the Western world.
From Wikipedia: Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461), the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

I took this picture on St Patrick’s day in Chicago in 2005. The tradition of dyeing the Chicago river green with vegetable dye started in 1962.

Thursday 3.14 (159265359 ..)

It’s Thursday March 14 !
Happy Pi Day!

From Wikipedia: The number π (/paɪ/) is a mathematical constant.
Originally defined as the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, it now has various equivalent definitions and appears in many formulas in all areas of mathematics and physics. It is approximately equal to 3.14159. It has been represented by the Greek letter “π” since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes spelled out as “pi”. It is also called Archimedes’ constant.

Check it out: PIE is 3.14 in the mirror (is that another universe?) .. yes, I cheated a little with the period in there and all, but it’s still fun to do.

Tuesday/ arrival in Cape Town

I made it in to Cape Town.
The flight out of Schiphol airport was 10 ½ hrs, on a Boeing 777 from KLM.
It was midnight by the time I had checked in to the airport hotel with my rental car.

Life-size LEGO figures of  Dutch colonialists at Schiphol airport, outside the airport’s mini-Rijksmuseum.
Over the Namib desert, with 2 hrs to go.
Our Boeing 777, at the gate at Cape Town International Airport. A lot of Dutch people were on board, looking to catch the back end of the summer weather in Cape Town.

Tuesday/ it’s the Year of the Pig!

Tuesday marked the start of the Chinese lunar year.
2019 is the Year of the Pig (Boar).

This Year of the Pig (Boar) display was in the foyer of the Mitsukoshi department store in Ginza, Tokyo, when I was there in December. The boar depicts what the Japanese call ‘chototsumoushin’ (ちょとつもうしん): to run and push forward (to the future) powerfully and headlong. P.S. Check out the little piggies down below on the table. Maybe they are little hedgehogs :).
Here is another piggie. I found this display of a Year of the Pig stamp in the window of the Hong Kong Post Office when I was there in December.

Wednesday

The days are slowly getting longer here in the Pacific Northwest.
It has not been ‘too cold’ (always a relative term: 50 °F/10 °C) and we have had a nice stretch of six days of dry weather.
The rain is coming back tomorrow, though, and will bring more snow to the mountains as well.
P.S. The traffic adjustments and volumes with the Alaskan Viaduct now closed, has not been too terrible at all.

It’s 5.15 pm and I’m heading out towards 15th Ave for our Wednesday night beer & bite. It’s nice that some houses on my block, like this one, still have their holiday lights on. It brightens up the winter darkness a little bit.

Saturday/ ready for the red-eye to Hong Kong

I’m taking a red-eye flight to Hong Kong tonight, to stay there over New Years Eve, and for another day or two.

Here’s a new A$50 that landed in my wallet; it features David Unaipon, indigenous Australian of the Ngarrindjeri people, a preacher, inventor and author. The polymer note has all kinds of security features, and four birds of which only three are visible. Green swan, white swan, flying bird above it, and the fourth one is only visible under UV light. How come the USA has such blah banknotes?
I love this cartoon that appeared in today’s The Australian’s Weekend Edition. The cartoonist is Jon Kudelka.
This Instagram picture was taken in March by Tom Cannon, but was also printed in the newspapers as one of the top tourist pictures of the year. Coral Bay is some 1,100 km/ 700 mi up north the coast of Western Australia from Perth. (It’s an optical illusion; the fish did not ram the boat).

Wednesday/ who is the monster?

The big pink monster living inside the vacation villa, almost stepped on the little brown monster basking outside on the brick paving.

A bobtail skink/ western shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa) scuttling out of my way, grumpily. It has a heavily armored body and a stumpy tail, and a bright blue tongue. The creatures are omnivores, eating herbs and seedlings, snails and insects. Fat in the tail helps it survive lean times.

Saturday/ fun with Kakuro

Kakuro – derived from the Japanese kasan kurosu (加算クロス, ‘addition cross’) is my new favorite puzzle game, for now. (Sooner or later I always go back to playing Scrabble against ‘Expert Computer’ as my favorite).

I find Kakuro games in online newspapers, and print them out larger, so that I can write clues for myself into the tops of the boxes.  I see there are free puzzles available online as well.

Here’s a completed game. Read the rules at the bottom, and then you’re ready to go! Remember, 1 to 9 only, and no duplicates in a string down, or across. Here’s an example of how to figure it out. We know the 7 DOWN (at top left) can only be a combination of 1,2 & 4 (combinations of 3+2+2 are not allowed, nor 5+1+1). That means the 12 ACROSS can only be 4+8, since 1+11 and 2+10 will not work.

Black Friday/ I saved 100%

Men’s Amore E Psiche Print Short-Sleeve Shirt by Versace. If money were no object, would I buy this shirt? It’s marked down 25% from $850 to $637.00. One would think it’s made of rare silk, but no: viscose, a cheap fabric. Has to be dry-cleaned. But hey: it was made in Italy. [Picture from Bergdorf Goodman]
I did not run out to a store or a mall today to go and shop. The United States’ consumer economy had better not look at people like me for keeping it going, I thought.  I will look for something and buy it when I really need it, and not just because it’s out there on Black Friday.

Just for fun, I clicked around on luxury purveyor Bergdorf Goodman’s website (see left).

A long time ago, I was in New York City, and I stepped into the revolving door at the Bergdorf Goodman store on Fifth Avenue, to go inside and check out the merchandise. It was then that I saw the inside, and realized that the store was stratospherically out of my league. Keep going, keep going, I thought, pushing the revolving door to escape onto the sidewalk again.

Monday/ Trump’s visit to California

Sigh* .. at least Trump visited California (on Saturday), and saw the devastation firsthand.  He seemed to get along swimmingly with the new Governor-elect of California, Gavin Newsom. This after he had been pretty rude to him in Tweets in the past. (Gossip: Could it be because Newsom’s ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle now dates Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr.?).

*Trump felt the need to repeat his ‘assessment’ of California’s forest management: ‘In Finland they rake the forest floors’. (This baffles the Finns, and prompted a denial from the Finnish president that he had ever told Trump that).  Then Trump got the devastated town’s name wrong, calling Paradise ‘Pleasure’, instead. When he did it a second time, FEMA administrator Brock Long (and Governor Jerry Brown) could no longer stand it and corrected him loudly.

From left to right Gavin Newsom, new Governor-elect of California, Trump, Jerry Brown, California Governor, Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, and Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  [Picture from Sacramento Bee].

Thursday/ please be shocked

At least 12 people were killed in a shooting late Wednesday at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif.  Borderline Bar and Grill was holding its weekly event for college students.   The gunman (28) was a troubled Marine Corps veteran that turned his gun on himself.

Here is Roxane Gay writing under a heading ‘Please Be Shocked at the Thousand Oaks Shooting’ in the New York Times:

According to statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 307 mass shootings in the 312 days of 2018. They are a commonplace occurrence. This is a horrifying thing to say, but it is the truth. We need to say this truth over and over. We need to face this horror without looking away. We live in a country where there are relatively few restrictions on gun ownership and where our cultural tolerance for mass murder appears to be infinite.

It is a peculiarly American affliction that this epidemic of gun violence doesn’t move us to take any real steps toward curbing gun violence and access to guns.

It is painfully obvious that there is no shooting appalling enough to make American politicians stand up to the National Rifle Association and gunmakers. A congressman was shot and critically wounded. Children at Sandy Hook Elementary were murdered. Revelers at the Pulse nightclub were murdered. Concertgoers in Las Vegas were murdered.

A man outside the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, Calif., where a gunman killed 12 other people Wednesday night. [Mike Nelson/EPA, via Shutterstock]

Wednesday/ Amazon’s one click: too easy

Here’s an article in The Atlantic that confirms that I was on to something, when I resisted turning on Amazon’s one-click option.  (Needing only one click to make a purchase; so no final confirmation, no entering of an address or credit card – it’s all stored on Amazon and ready to go).

I browse, and first put stuff I want in my Amazon cart, and most of the time, I let it stay there overnight. And then I still make myself walk through a few clicks to buy it. There are a lot of things in my cart, that I end up not buying .. and that’s a good thing.

Amazon is on its way to join Apple as a company with a trillion dollar market cap. There is just so many things to buy! Yay! And it is so easy .. too easy.  Amazon started its Prime program in 2005, and now more than 100 million people have signed on to pay $119 a year for “free” two-day shipping. 

Sunday/ my birthday date is a palindrome

The way we write dates in America – Month/ Day/ Year – made all the dates this week palindromes (sort of). So one can write 8/19/18 as 81918 by dropping the slash characters.

Yes, it’s a giant slice of chocolate cake ((fancy, ‘artisanal’, says the label), that I had bought at the store and dressed up a little, with the numbers and the tea candle.

Saturday/ Oaxaca, Grumpy Cat & helium

I’m about to hop onto the No 10 bus. The Mexican flag & Oaxaca sign at the Coastal Kitchen restaurant entrance indicate that a few Oaxaca dishes are on the menu right now. Oaxaca is famous for its moles (sauces).

Here’s the No 10 bus stop closest to my house, that I frequently take to go to downtown.

One of my favorite Grumpy Cat memes. Grumpy Cat is an American internet celebrity cat.

Oaxaca (say ‘wa-HAH-ka’) is in southwestern Mexico and best known for its Zapotec and Mixtec indigenous peoples and cultures.

Look for a Grumpy Cat helium balloon carried by the child in the bottom middle of the picture.

As it happens, helium was discovered 150 years ago to the day, on August 18, 1868, by the French astronomer, Jules Janssen, during a total solar eclipse. There is a strong case to be made that helium balloons be banned.

We have a limited helium supply in Earth’s crust; we cannot manufacture it, and we need it for superconductors and MRI scanners. So putting helium in balloons is a frivolous waste.  Once helium ends up in the atmosphere, it is lost forever into space – it is too light to be contained in the atmosphere by gravity.