Sunday/ Seattle Times building update

I went down to South Lake Union today to check out the construction on the old Seattle Times Building’s site.

The original Seattle Times Building was completed in 1931 with offices and newspaper printing presses and all.  Operations stopped there in 2011, and were moved to Bothell (some 20 miles from of Seattle).  The real estate and buildings were sold in 2013 to a company from Vancouver.  The developer has to preserve the exterior facade and roof of the Seattle Times Building, since these were designated a Seattle city landmark in 1996.  It’s a little weird that only the exterior walls and roof of a building can be designated a landmark! .. but at least some semblance of the old building remains. The developer has already demolished all of the inside, and while the rooftop is not built on, it is getting a make-over with landscaping and seating.

Top left to right: The Seattle Times building in 1946; the side facade of the main building from behind (there is a support framework on the front); Art Deco elements on the side of the building and by the main entrance. Main picture: 1 Exterior landscaped amenity deck for building residents | 2 Double-height indoor amenity space adjacent to outdoor deck | 3 Tall landscaping elements kept back from roof deck perimeter to give priority to the landmark Seattle Times facade | 4 Bridge element connects roofdeck with podium over breezeway | 5 Display of Seattle Times industrial artifact.
Here is the proposed massing of the tower buildings around the Seattle Times Building (in red outline). ‘Massing’ in architecture refers to the perception of the general shapes, forms and sizes of a buildings.


Sunday/ light jacket weather

Here’s a collage of pictures from my random walk around Seattle downtown this afternoon.  It was sunny but only 60°F/ 15°C, so ‘light jacket’ weather. ‘Scarf weather’ is coming, sometime in November.

Clockwise from top left: iconic Pike Place Market sign | Cloudburst microbrewery on Western Ave, with a hole-in-the-wall beer hall downstairs | long-ago furniture store turned into offices | Bladerunner 2049 at the Cinerama (will go see it there next weekend) | construction truck mirror near Denny Way | new billboard for Amazon Web Services off Denny Way | is this a ‘Christmas’ pedestrian crossing? this at c/r of Boren & Howell | yellow & green on Amazon Tower II | monorail from Space Needle, going to downtown.

Friday/ the end of the cruise season

Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas (built 1999, passengers 3,825) was at the Seattle cruise terminal at Pier 91 on Friday. This one was the very last of the cruise ships for the season.

It was blustery and cool on the top deck of the ferry as we came in on Friday afternoon to Seattle from Bainbridge Island.

We spotted a cruise ship, unusual for October. The 2017 cruise season is now over, and the 2018 season will start in May.

The Seattle skyline, seen from the ferry. Thursday’s blue skies gave way to lots of low clouds.

Thursday/ Norwegian Point

Bryan and I made a run out to Kitsap peninsula for dinner with friends. We stopped at Norwegian Point to catch a little of the beautiful fall weather, and then made it down to Bainbridge Island for dinner at a restaurant-store called Via Rosa 11: great wood-fired pizza, and other Italian food.

Norwegian Point’s little storage houses with their colorful maritime flags; the Kitsap County logo* from a ballot box/ mail box right there; the view from Norwegian Point looking south west; the bridge crossing at Agate Point onto Bainbridge Island. *As far as I can tell this is a depiction of a thunderbird (rainbird), a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples’ history and culture.

Thursday/ the North Cascades

We stayed over in the town of Omak on Wednesday night, and made our way back to Seattle on Thursday over the North Cascades* with Highway 20.  It’s about a 5 hr drive without stops, to go from Omak to Twisp, Winthrop, Newhalem, Darrington and then with I-5 (or I-405) to Seattle.  It was a crisp morning when we started back from Omak (47 °F/ 8°C), but back in Seattle it was a record warm day for Sept 28 at (85°F/ 29 °C).

*The Cascade Range or ‘Cascades’ is a major mountain range of western North America, extending from southern British Columbia in Canada through Washington State and Oregon and into Northern California.

Clockwise from top left: view over the Skagit River Valley, with the Diablo Dam’s dam wall directly ahead; vintage ‘Wild West’ storefront in Winthrop; town hall of Okanogan; viewpoint in Washington Pass on Highway 20, with the Early Winter Spires (7,807 ft / 2 380 m); at Newhalem by the Gorge Dam and Power station; the diagram shows the Ross Dam and the Diablo Dam as well.
Here’s a cool topographical map that I generated with a Google search for ‘Early Winter Spires’ that shows how Highway 20 follows the lowest contour lines through the North Cascades. The web site is   There is a hairpin bend in the road by the Spires, and the map also shows several alpine lakes. These are lakes or reservoirs at high altitudes, usually starting around 5,000 feet (1,500 m). These is still snow and ice visible further up, from small glaciers. Highway 20 gets so much snow in winter that it is completely closed for traffic, sometimes only opening again as late as June.
View from a foot bridge overlooking the Skagit River at Newhalem; this is just downstream of the Gorge Dam. Flooding in the Skagit Valley has become a rare event due to the three dams that had been built upstream in the Skagit River (the Gorge, the Diablo, the Ross).

Wednesday/ about the sea otter

A sea otter.  AVG LIFE SPAN IN THE WILD: Up to 23 years, SIZE: 4 ft, WEIGHT: 65 lbs Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Archives

The Seattle Aquarium biologists are hosting a ‘Sea Otter Awareness’ day this weekend. Sea otters are native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean.

Once almost hunted to extinction for their fur (the densest fur on all animals), their numbers have improved over the last century, but they are still an endangered species. Sea otters keep sea urchin populations in check, which would otherwise inflict extensive damage to kelp forest ecosystems (information from Wikipedia).

I acted like a Seattle tourist today with Bryan, Dale and our friend Marina that was visiting (from St Petersburg, Russia. Wow!). This friendly sea otter is at Pier 56 on the Seattle waterfront.

Wednesday/ fire and ash

I swept fine ash from the wildfires off my deck and front porch on Wednesday. The smoky, hazy sky hung around, but on-shore breezes on Thursday should start to take care of some of the smoke.  But to help the firefighters, it really needs to start raining here in the Pacific Northwest.

What a frightening scene – can anything to stop this mountainside wildfire?  This Monday photo provided by KATU-TV shows a wildfire as seen from near Stevenson Wash., across the Columbia River. The fire is burning in the Columbia River Gorge above Cascade Locks, Ore. (Tristan Fortsch/KATU-TV via AP).
The Eagle Creek wildfire covers 30,000 acres : about 46 square miles. As of Wednesday, the fire was contained at only 5% or so.   The location of the town of Stevemson in the previous picture, is just a little further up along the Columbia river, on the Washington State side. 

Sunday night/ a walk on 15th Ave

I love this barber shop’s old-fashioned neon sign with the scissor clock. Neon signs have been around since they were first demonstrated at the Paris Motor Show in 1910. These red RED letters might be the Wild West font called Romantique.
And here is the kitchen counter in a brand new studio apartment called Vitality on Howell St off 15th Ave. So this kitchen-living room-bedroom is all in one space, with the bathroom the only other room. A 350 sqft studio apartment goes for $1,400/month. It’s expensive, but I think in San Francisco these apartments would easily go for $2,000/month. 


The sunset (7.45 pm) catches me some of these days, before I start out on my after-dinner walk, and then I have to stick to the main streets with lighting.  It’s OK/ safe to walk in the dark here, but one can bump into people coming around the corner, or stumble on uneven paving!   Here are two pictures from 15th Ave here on Capitol Hill.



Friday/ hello, September

The little spritz of rain we had in the city on Thursday ended one of the driest July-Augusts on record, and revealed a little sheet spiderweb by the cement path to my front door. (Yes, my front lawn is completely yellowed out by now, and will start to green up as the rain starts falling).


Here in Seattle we leave behind one of the driest July-Augusts on record.  The rainfall total of 0.02 inches at Seattle-Tacoma airport ties the figure for 1914.

The new school year is starting here, reminding me that Sept. 1 was called lentedag (‘spring day*’) when I was a kid in school in South Africa. To mark the day, we were allowed not to wear our school uniforms .. and I would always scratch my head as to what to wear!

*Even though the official start of spring would start later in September, same day when fall starts here in the North.

Thursday/ sharks in Puget Sound

Do we have sharks in Puget Sound? I wondered, when I saw a shark ‘floatie’ at a store here in Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula.  Answer: yes, some 11 species, shown on the handy guide produced by the Seattle Times.  These are mostly docile sharks (no Great White), and only three are seen regularly and called ‘resident’ sharks.


Monday/ still a long way from ‘no more nukes’

I went out to Seattle’s Green Lake on Sunday night to catch a little bit of the annual ‘From Hiroshima to Hope‘ gathering there.  It’s been 72 years since the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  A banner at Green Lake pointed out that barely 20 miles west of Seattle, at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base, one finds the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the United States.  Last month, the United Nations reached its first agreement to ban nuclear weapons.  But it’s complicated : Japan, alongside the nine nuclear-armed nations*, including the United States, refused to take part in the negotiations and the vote.

*United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea (!).  The entire Southern Hemisphere is free of nuclear weapons.

The scene at the ‘From Hiroshima to Hope’ gathering at Green Lake on Sunday night.
Sunday marked 72 years since the U.S. dropped one of two atomic bombs on Japan. On the eve of the anniversary, organizers of a peace event lit up torches on floats on the Motoyasu River next to the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima. Picture : Mari Yamaguchi/AP

Sunday/ Seafair 2017

It’s Seafair weekend here in the city, a tradition since 1950 : air shows over Lake Washington, a hydroplane race, and warships at the waterfront that are open to visitors. So we went on down to the waterfront to check out the USS Michael Murphy there.

The USS Michael Murphy is an Arleigh Burke class destroyer with guided missiles, heavy artillery guns and up to three helicopters. (Seattle to Bainbridge ferry in the background). She was named in honor of Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. The USS Michael Murphy was commissioned in Oct 2012. The ship is ‘dressed up’ for display, with the colorful flags and pennants from the bow to the main tower and back to the stern. At sea, the flags and pennants can be used one at a time, or in combinations to send visual messages to other ships or aircraft.
This is inside one of the helicopter bays. Everyone on the ship is a firefighter. Any sailor must be able to get fully dressed in two minutes, and at the fire in five. Everything stowed on the racks is tied down, of course.
The view from the bow to the main tower. The radar equipment is behind those light patches. The main gun with the bronze cap is a MK 45 5-inch 62 caliber gun (inset picture shows it firing). The square hatches on the deck right behind the gun is where the guided missiles will come out, vertically, until it is far enough from the ship to start honing in on their targets.
This is the quarterdeck, where visitors first set foot on the ship, and are signed in to the visitor’s log (at the back). The four posts on the corners of the colorful mat, are partly made of empty shells from the 5-inch gun.
We were handed out this little pamphlet that highlights Washington State’s naval history.

Thursday/ hot and hazy

Source: King5 news. The haziness is smoke!

Well, we got up to 94°F (34°C) today, a new same-day record high.

There is lot of smoke is drifting down from wildfires in Canada, and the air is noticeably hazy, even at short distances.

With the haze, it’s possible to see sunspots on the sun as it rises and sets, using a telescope. (Sunspots are regions of reduced surface temperature caused by concentrations of magnetic field flux. They may last a few days or a few weeks or months, but eventually decay).

Wednesday/ König Pilsener

König Pilsner, in a 500 ml can. It comes in bottles as well. Some connoisseurs say beer in cans taste different than beer in glass bottles. (Or is it one’s imagination? Time for a blindfold test!).
The König brewery is located in the west of Germany, in Duisburg.
Thursday’s projected highs : 95 °F (35°C) in Seattle and 103 °F (39°C) around other places in Puget Sound.

We ducked into the cool inside of a restaurant called ‘Smiths’ here on 15th Avenue tonight, for our regular Wednesday-night-beer-and-bite.

My favorite beer is a pilsener, and so I had a König Pilsener – brewed in Duisburg, Germany.

I thought the beer’s name might mean ‘the king’s beer’, but no, it’s named after brewmaster Theodor König who started brewing the beer in 1858.

Today the brewery belongs to Bitburger Braugruppe GmbH.
Their tagline is ‘Bitte ein Bit’.




Tuesday/ it’s getting hot!

It’s high summer here in Seattle, and the meteorologists say we will hit 98°F (37°C) by Thursday, before it cools down a bit.  Still no rain in sight.  So after a record 44″ of rain this past winter (average is 30″), we’re now headed for a record number of dry days of no rain (measured at Seattle-Tacoma airport; there was just a smidge of rain in the city last Thursday).

A no-nonsense warning from the Suquamish Police Dept on the Kitsap Peninsula: Do NOT leave children or pets unattended in cars!  I love the eye-catching badge with all the Native American elements in it.

Sunday/ biosphere progress

Hopefully the giant ficus tree from California is settling into its new home! [Picture from ‘mabahamo’s Flickr stream].
The outer construction on Amazon’s three biospheres in downtown Seattle looked complete, as I walked by there on Sunday.

There is an artificial turf lawn on the outside. I could also see misters and lights on the inside of the sphere, but there is still work to be done to bring furnishing for humans into the spheres!


Here is part of the artificial lawn outside the spheres. I thought I’d find an on-line version of the picture on the fence, but was not successful. (Picture that super-imposes the spheres on an old Seattle picture with Denny Hill still intact). I will take a picture of it next time!


Tuesday/ 38 dry days (so far)

It’s been a great summer so far here in Seattle, with temperatures in the 70’s to low 80’s (20 to 28°C).  It’s been drier than usual though, with the blue skies now closing in on a record stretch of days with no measurable rain.

Seattle’s University District on Sunday (black Tesla Model X in the foreground). As of Tuesday July 25, the count was 38 days with no rain. There is none forecast for the next several days, either. The longest stretch on record with no rain was 1951 with 51 days.

Sunday/ disasters that start with M

King 5 (local TV station here in Seattle) is running a campaign to make residents aware of the need to be prepared for a disaster.  It could be .. a Meteor | a Missile from North Korea | a Magnitude 9.0 earthquake & tsunami.  I think the quake is most likely, given that we are way overdue, now 317 years into an estimated 243-year cycle (gulp) for the region’s recorded 9.0 earthquakes over the last 10,000 years. (The last 9.0 quake was in 1700 and there should have been another one by 1943!).

Below is King 5’s suggested check list. I highlighted the main topics in bold for myself. It’s very important for the supply kit to contain critical medicines, some bills of money, some food, and identification! Presumably it would be difficult or impossible to use one’s car to drive somewhere (traffic jams, road blocks). Some people would say what about needing guns or knives for self-defense? Oh my. That kind of thinking is very survivalist/ apocalyptic, not so? I don’t have a gun in the house. Maybe grab a sharp kitchen knife on the way out?

This is King 5’s suggested check list, reformatted and with highlighted keywords.
King 5’s starter list for a disaster kit.



Saturday/ Seattle Skyline

Here’s the Seattle skyline as seen from the Bainbridge ferry on Friday afternoon.  I stitched together three photos, and marked it up with some of the tallest and most iconic buildings.

The Seattle skyline as seen from the Bainbridge ferry on Friday.  The 76-story Columbia Center, 937 feet (286 m) tall, and completed in 1985, is still the tallest of them all.  The cruise ship in the foreground is the MS Regatta (1998), operated by Oceania Cruises.