Friday/ let the shopping start 💵

It’s the third Black Friday after the start of the pandemic, and we are in an economy giving off wildly mixed signals with inflation hopefully past its peak— but with a recession still not out of the question.
Retailers are hoping that despite all the discounts that they offer, they will move enough merchandise to put them in the black, of course.


It’s officially the holiday season at Westlake Park after Friday evening’s Tree Lighting Celebration in downtown Seattle.
[Caption from the Seattle Times and photo by Kevin Clark / The Seattle Times]

Tuesday/ the energy crisis in Europe

It certainly looks like the pair of explosions on Monday that damaged the gas pipelines from Russia called Nord Stream 1 & 2 were acts of sabotage.

These tweets are from @FortuneMagazine on Twitter.

An energy crisis the likes of which hasn’t been seen in decades is unfolding around the world.

1) Europe’s long-standing gambit on cheap Russian gas could backfire into one of the worst energy crises on the continent since the 1970s.

2) Before the war in Ukraine, EU nations relied on Russia for 40% of their natural gas—the second most common energy source in Europe behind petroleum oil.
Now, the limited supplies have more than doubled the price of natural gas and tripled electricity bills.

3) The situation is so dire that governments that previously renounced fossil fuels and nuclear power are desperately reopening coal plants and nuclear sites, and nationalizing utility companies to save them from going bankrupt.

4) But as bad as it is now, these might still be the good days for Europe.
With winter and higher gas demand on the way, even the slightest uptick in energy demand anywhere in the world could entirely shut down some manufacturing sectors.

5) Expanding natural gas infrastructure is expensive, demands years of investment, and the results likely won’t kick in until the summer of next year,
That’s why many countries focus mainly on saving energy to increase reserves for winter.

6) European governments have already implemented some energy measures:

💡turning of traffic lights at night
💡dimming lighting on historic buildings

During the winter, consumer use might also have to be restricted.

7) So far, most European factories have reduced their capacity.
But the worst-case scenario would be a shutdown of European manufacturing industries most reliant on natural gas—including glassmakers and steel companies.

8) Cutting back on industrial capacity could lead to lower economic activity, higher unemployment rate, and even recession.

9) If rising bills combine with a wave of unemployment and economic downturn, the crisis could spill out onto the streets (which has already begun in some countries like Germany and the Czech Republic).

10) “EU and members will work in solidarity, supporting each other  .. or there is another scenario: everybody is for himself,” said
Fatih Birol, head of the watchdog International Energy Agency.

Monday/ dishwasher drama, Part 2 💦

Russian troops are using parts from dishwashers and refrigerators to fix their broken military equipment in Ukraine, a top U.S. official has said.
– Fortune magazine, May 12, 2022

It’s now a year later after I had last attempted— and failed— to procure the dishwasher of my choice.

I have now set my sights on a Bosch dishwasher.  The web page of the Lowe’s hardware store on Rainier Ave reported that they had several models in stock, and off we went. (Shout-out to B. who’s invaluable help I had enlisted).

We checked them out, and the quiet Series 800 one with the outside handle bar and hidden controls on top of the door, is definitely the one to get.
‘No. There is one on display, but none for sale anymore’, said the appliance person at Rainier Lowe’s. Six to 12 months lead time, and they have stopped taking orders for now.  We should check other Lowe’s stores for stock, and pounce on any we find. It looked like the store in Issaquah might have inventory. We gave them a call, but no luck. They have black ones, but my whole kitchen is stainless steel and the black will really look out of place).

Right then a guy with a Bosch logo on his shirt walked by (a Bosch representative). ‘Yes, these Series 800 machines are selling like hot cakes’, said the Bosch guy. They are made in North Carolina, but the stainless steel linings come from Ukraine. So: supply chain troubles.

He checked the Lowe’s website, said there seemed to be five machines at the North Seattle store on Aurora Avenue. I jumped on my phone, logged onto the North Seattle Lowe’s store website and ordered one on the spot.
Sure enough, it charged my credit card, and promised delivery on Thursday.

I should know by Thursday if I had ordered a phantom item or not!

Thursday/ signs of a recession 📉

The GDP number for Q2 is out: -0.2%.
So technically, we’re in a recession (two quarters of negative GDP), but per the New York Times: declaring a recession falls to a private, nonprofit research organization, the National Bureau of Economic Research. The group defines a recession as “a significant decline in economic activity that is spread across the economy and lasts more than a few months,” and it bases its decisions on a variety of indicators — usually only months after the fact.

Some economists dismissed the Q1 number as a ‘quirk’ or a blip, but the negative Q2 number is harder to dismiss. Inflation is still running very high, and the economy has definitely slowed down. The higher interest rates (Fed funds rate now 2.25-2.5%) has cooled down the housing market. Unemployment is still sitting at 3.6%, though, and it is unheard of to be in a recession with such a low unemployment number.

Tuesday/ it’s hot ☀ ☀ ☀

It was hot outside today— and inside my house!
I don’t have central air conditioning.
We got to 94 °F (34 °C) today here in the city, and the heat is here to stay until Friday night.
Looking west, just as the sun was setting tonight at 8.51 pm. The blue in the distance behind the Space Needle are the Olympic Mountains.

Al lê die berge nog so blou*,
al lê die berge nog so blou,
al lê die berge nog so blou,
haar woorde sal ek steeds onthou.
– Afrikaans folk song

*A rough translation:
Even as the mountains lie there so blue x3
her words I will still hark back to

Wednesday/ there’s a tiger on the court 🐯

There is ATP Tennis in Hamburg, Germany, and in Gstaad, Switzerland, this week.

On Tuesday, Aslan Karatsev (28, from a country that shall not be named) played against Nikoloz Basilashvili (30, Georgia 🇬🇪) in Hamburg, in a wild outfit made by clothier Hydrogen from Italy.

Karatsev won 6-4 6-0.

The ‘Camo Tech’ shirt and the shorts worn by Karatsev, both have a camo pattern on the back.
Side note: Basilashvili played in his Wimbledon whites.
The front of the shirt is white, with the front of the shorts in black.

Thursday/ moving out

Whoah, said my brain as I spotted the bright red moving truck on the street while I came down the stairs. Someone must be moving out.

Yes, confirmed my neighbor next door: it’s the pink house further down.
They have lived there for 30 years. The time has come to leave the big old house for something smaller, and with support at hand.

Friday/ 100 days of death and destruction

Ukrainians crowded under a destroyed bridge on the outskirts of Kyiv over a week after the invasion.

It’s been 100 days since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. There is no end in sight, say observers of the war.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday that since the day of the invasion,
4,149 civilians had been confirmed killed and
4,945 civilians had been injured.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says up to 100 Ukrainian soldiers might be dying each day on the front lines in the east of the country.
As of April 16, between 2,500 and 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, with up to 10,000 injured.

Russia’s Defense Ministry had said in late March that 1,351 Russian soldiers had died – a lie. Western governments estimate that as many as 15,000 Russian soldiers have died.
(That’s already more than the total casualties over the course of the Soviet Union’s disastrous 1979-89 war in Afghanistan. This war contributed significantly to the collapse of the USSR in 1991).

The UN estimates that more than 14 million Ukrainians have fled their homes.
Some 7 million more are displaced in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s economic output is expected to fall 50% this year.
Rebuilding the country could amount to as much as 500 billion euros (US $537 billion).
Last month the U.N. lowered its forecast for global economic growth in 2022 to 3.1% from 4%, and its forecast for U.S. economic growth to 2.6% from 3.5%.
– Figures from a report by Ann M. Simmons and Courtney McBride in the Wall Street Journal


Here is a puzzle for today, Saturday— Caturday, as ailurophiles like to call it.

[Source: Picture is from a game called Seekers Notes in Apple’s app store].

Tuesday/ more of the same

Even though I watch almost no cable news programs anymore, it feels as if the news is the same for many weeks at a time.
Are the Olympic Games done? No.
(So the Russian skater blames her grandpa’s meds for her failed drug test. Hard to believe. Shout-out to the IOC for their on-going mismanagement of Russia’s 2014 state-sponsored doping scandal. The Russians should have been banned for oh, 10 years).
Have the truckers in Ottawa gone home? No. Arrest them. Law and order, right, conservatives?
Is Russia going to invade Ukraine? We still don’t know .. but tomorrow is a new day, and time will tell.

Oh boy. People think that waving a flag while you’re doing something illegal, makes you a patriot.

Caturday/ bodega cat

1.  (in the US) a small grocery store, especially in a Spanish-speaking neighborhood.
2.  (in a Spanish-speaking country) a wine shop or wine cellar.

Photos from @Bodegacats_ on Twitter.

Friday/ watching US Open tennis

I watched most of the Djokovic-Zverev men’s semifinal match tonight— just not all the way to the end.
I could not get myself to watch Djokovic triumph over Zverev. No one can deny that the man plays great tennis, but I am not a fan of him otherwise.

Watching tennis on my 4K big-screen TV, popcorn and all. Alexander (Sacha) Zverev (Germany, 24) took the 1st and 4th sets, but lost in 5 sets against Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 34), in the end.
This is the streaming feed from the ESPN+ app on my TV. 
ESPN+ is a subscription video streaming service for sport, owned by Disney company.
It offers both live feeds and on-demand recorded sports events ($7 per month, unsubscribe at any time). It has been worth it to me 20 times over already, just for watching US Open tennis.

Friday/ the lawn needs a trim

Early afternoon, the doorbell rang.
It was Jesús from the lawn services company, inquiring if it’s OK for them to start mowing the lawn again now that spring is here. ‘Of course‘, I said, ‘I was the lookout for you guys, hoping you would start again, soon‘.

There’s the neat white truck of the lawn services company. I suppose now that I no longer travel for work, I could mow the lawn myself — but for the life of me, I never mastered the art of using a string trimmer, to trim the edges by the flower beds & walkways in a perfectly straight line. So I leave that to the professionals.
The blossoms are out on the trees, and the leaves are slowly appearing. It seems the Joe Biden for President sign on my neighbors’ picket fence has become a permanent installation (which I am completely OK with).