Wednesday/ gangsters in downtown Seattle

A gangster-style shooting altercation in downtown Seattle, just at the close of the working day, left one dead and 7 people wounded — and the perpetrators are still on the loose. Terrible.

My friends and I did not let that deter us from venturing out for our Wednesday night beer and bite, though.

My friends and I were about to walk down to 12th Ave to our Wednesday night watering hole for a beer and a bite when news of the shooting broke. We watched the TV reporting for 15 minutes or so, and decided it was safe to go. The Irish pub ‘The Chieftain’ had beer for us, but no food! The kitchen’s cook had not made it in for some reason. So after a beer, we went to a wood-fired pizza parlor called Southpaw, nearby.

Sunday/ more Convention Center space

Here’s a peek over the fence at the construction site for the Washington State Convention Center expansion, on the edge of Seattle downtown.

The steel columns and rafters that will create the cavernous spaces for the $1.8 billion Washington State Convention Center addition are starting to rise. The extension will be called ‘The Summit’ and open in 2022 for business. It is expected to bring in some $200 million a year from out of state, and is said to already have bookings for events as far out as 2026.
Here is what the completed city block on Olive Way will look like. The structure will be 6 stories tall, with retail on the ground floor, a ball room, and an exhibition hall of 150,000 sq ft. The structure was designed by LMN Architects. They did the design of the University of Washington light rail station, as well as the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union. [Image: Courtesy of LMN Architects].

Saturday/ the downtown Barnes & Noble bookstore closes

I went down to the Barnes & Noble bookstore in downtown Seattle today one more time, before it closed its doors for good today. This leaves downtown without a big bookstore*, a somewhat shocking state of affairs. People just don’t buy new books like they used to, or: they buy them on Amazon at a  discount, of course.

*There is still a Barnes & Noble at Northgate, the Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill, and the University Bookstore in U-District, as well as a smattering of second hand bookstores.

Paintwork inside the Barnes & Noble. Left to right: Mary Shelley, English novelist who wrote the Gothic novel Frankenstein; Walt Whitman, influential American poet; Herman Melville, novelist, short-story writer and poet perhaps most famous for writing Moby-Dick.
Aw. No more storytelling for the kids with Winnie-the-Pooh bear’s Hundred Acre Wood as a backdrop. The bear sits on a branch in the tree on the right. Says Winnie-the-Pooh: ‘The only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey, is so I can eat it’.
The Barnes and Noble was in the basement of the 4-storey Pacific Place mall, and there is no official word yet about the use of that space now. The entire mall is getting a makeover of sorts.

Friday/ checking the snowpacks

Wow .. the snowpack levels in the mountains and higher elevations have improved dramatically. Snoqualmie Pass (at 3,000 ft on Interstate 90) had 6.7 feet/ 2.04 m of snow in 6 days.

There should still be more accumulation to come, though.
April 1 of every year is (on average) when the snowpack depths peak, and the snow starts to melt in spring.

The latest snow telemetry (SNOTEL) report shows values that are now near normal for this time of year.

Tuesday/ more snow coming

My crude snow gauge (a ruler stuck into the snow on my deck railing), shows 59 mm (2.3 in) at my house the last 48 hrs.

It was nice to see the clouds clear a little this afternoon, with a little sun and blue sky.

There is a lot more snow coming tonight, moving in from over the Pacific.

Most of it will be to the north of Seattle, and on the mountains to the east and the west of the city.

Sunday/ light snow

A system with rain met arctic air from the Fraser Valley in Canada tonight here in the Pacific Northwest, and made for light snow on the ground here in the city.

I took this picture of my street is at 11 pm on Sunday night. There might be an inch or two more snow on the ground by Monday morning, say the meteorologists. Monday’s high will hover just below freezing (30°F/ -1 °C). Brrr!

Friday morning/ at Seattle-Tacoma airport

I am at the aeroporte, camping out at the gate here in South Terminal for my flight to Tokyo.

Here’s my Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner that will fly to Tokyo. I went into ‘aviation geek’ mode and looked up the details for the air frame registration code on the tail (JA842J). The air frame is 4.6 yrs old, and was produced in Everett right here in Washington State.
Here is the sky bridge that is under construction, as seen here from the South Terminal. The span of the bridge is 900 ft, and it sits 85 ft above the active taxiway below. The construction is a little bit behind schedule; it was supposed to open late this year. The sky bridge is part of improvements for the International Arrivals Facility.
Here is an artist’s rendering of the completed sky bridge. Arriving passengers at South Satellite terminal (the planes parked on the left) will go across the bridge and over Concourse A (bottom right) to customs, inside the IAF (on the far right). The bridge is 900 ft long, and 85 ft above the active taxiway below.

Tuesday/ 15th Avenue

Here’s 15th Avenue at 4.20 pm today.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Coastal Kitchen. The sign in the distance says they have Barcelona dishes. Maybe some tapas to go and try? Or bombas (meat and mash potato balls, fried).  Also: I can see why movie directors are notorious for calling on the local fire brigade, to spray down the streets for shooting a scene. Wet asphalt adds reflections and brighter lighting, or sparkle to a romantic scene. 

Monday/ there goes the Space Needle

Here is another entry for the category ‘Then and Now’.
Jul. 2005 : The unobstructed view of the Space Needle from the top of Denny Way, where it crosses over I-5.

Dec. 2019 : The giant 41-story apartment towers at 1120 Denny Way are now squeezing out the Space Needle views that had remained.  If one stands in just the right spot, the Needle’s top can still be seen — between the tree branches and the apartment towers.
I marked up just a few of the new South Lake Union buildings that had filled in the cityscape since 2005.


Saturday/ low on snow

We had relatively warm weather here the last week or so. A massive warmer-than-normal blob of water in the Pacific Ocean off the Washington coast may be to blame.

We also had the driest November in 40 years (only 1.71 in. of rain at Sea-Tac Airport, 26% of the average). That also means that the snowpack levels on the mountains in Washington State are lagging far behind the normal levels for this time of the year.

The leaves are all gone now – the scene on 20th Ave here on Capitol Hill on Saturday afternoon. It was definitely warm enough to go for a walk: 49°F/ 9.5°C.
The Washington State Snow Telemetry (SNOTEL) report of Dec 8 shows the snowpacks lagging far behind their normal levels. I guess there is still time to make up the difference.

Friday/ around Denny Substation, at dusk

Here are a few pictures I took around Denny Substation at dusk on Thursday.
The surrounding scenery along Denny Way is changing rapidly, as three really big construction projects are gaining steam.

The pyramid-shaped shell around the Denny Substation shows ‘City’ and ‘Light’ on the northwest corner at night. (The city’s electric power utility is Seattle City Light). Up in the sky is an Alaska Air Bombardier Q400, and a half-moon⁠ — to its right the recently completed Nexus condominium tower. (The Kinect residential apartment tower on the far right was completed in 2017).
A closer look at the Nexus condominium tower (left) and the Kinect residential apartment tower (right), from the top of the walkway alongside Denny Substation.
From the same spot, looking west, along Denny Way. Two Westbank cranes (Vancouver construction company) are working on what will become a pair of 44-story apartment towers with wavy outsides, on top of a three-story podium (1200 Stewart St). That green & blue crane is used for the Denny Center at Denny Way & Fairview Ave North, a 41-story apartment building. Oh! And here comes the No 8 bus, which now has its own dedicated bus lane. It used to have a devil of a time to make it through rush-hour traffic along Denny Way.

Monday/ we will see if WeWork works out

The transformation of the Kelly-Springfield building on 11th Ave in Capitol Hill into a modern office block is complete. Will WeWork move in, though — as advertised on the windows and doors?

WeWork is an international shared workspace & real estate company, and it is turmoil. It recently canceled its IPO, and is laying off thousands of employees (20% of its workforce). Bankruptcy loomed in October, and the start-up was rescued by a huge bail-out/ investment from Japanese company Softbank.

THEN: The warehouse-style building was constructed in 1917 for the Kelly-Springfield Truck Company. This 1937 picture shows its then-tenant Dewey’s Auto Service. Outdoor goods company Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI) was a tenant from 1963-1996, and lastly it housed the thrift store Value Village.
NOW: The updated Kelly-Springfield building with its facade newly renovated, and with a 5-story office building added. WeWork has leased all of the space, and last everyone heard, they will move in come January.

Sunday/ it’s December ..

.. and so here’s a nice picture of the Christmas tree at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle, being lit up on Friday night.

There’s somewhat of a shortage of Christmas tree this year (the real ones). Millennials prefer to buy real trees, and in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, tree farms cut back on the planting of trees that take 6 to 10 years to mature.

5 pm on Friday: The crowd cheers as the Christmas tree is lit up, with fireworks to go with it. Behind the tree, Macy’s department store and star is visible. The store is closing down in February, and it was unsure if the iconic star will even be there this year. Then Amazon announced it would pay $250,000 to have the star repaired for this holiday season. The star is 161 ft tall and has 3,600 light bulbs, but 250k still sounds like a lot of money to repair it. Whoah.  [Picture by the Seattle Times]

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.

Wednesday/ clear and cold

The Pacific Northwest is not plagued by any of the large storm systems that are sweeping over the continent*, but it is chilly outside.  We are at that point where one opens the front door and go: Whoah! Feels colder than my refrigerator! The high was 42°F / 5°C today.

*Making trouble for Thanksgiving travelers and Black Friday shoppers, alike.

Here’s a streetcar at the Broadway & Denny stop today, the end of the First Hill line. Sunset is only 35 minutes away here (now at 4.22 pm), the shadows already creeping up on the new apartment buildings across the street. There was news today that the outcome of Initiative 976 — the ‘Yes’ for the $30 car tab measure (a disaster for public transport funding)— has been put on hold while a legal challenge moves forward. A King County Superior Court judge ruled that opponents had adequately argued that the measure’s ballot title was misleading, and he issued an injunction. [Source:].

Tuesday/ a train car with a snarl

I made my weekly jaunt up to the University District today, using the the light rail train to get there, and the No 48 bus to get back home.

Here’s the Capitol Hill station platform. I am just stepping onto the northbound train. The northbound & southbound trains do not always arrive at the same time, but today they did. The northbound train (left) runs to the University of Washington. (The line is being extended by three more northbound stations, completion due in 2021). The southbound train runs to Seattle-Tacoma airport and Angle Lake.
Rowr! Here’s a car named the ‘Coug Car’, at the front of the train about to depart the University of Washington station. The cougar is the mascot of Washington State University in Pullman, Washington.  Pullman is all the way over on the eastern side of the state, some 300 miles away.

Sunday/ winter tennis: has to be indoors

It’s winter (well, almost) – so the days are short and cold, and it rains a lot. Luckily for me, the Amy Yee Tennis Center has opened its doors after it had been closed for 6 months.

The courts themselves have not changed much, but insulation was added into the roof and walls. (It used to feel like playing inside a giant refrigerator in winter time). A new fire alarm system was installed, and the locker rooms were improved as well.

The new and improved Amy Yee Tennis Center on Martin Luther King Jr Way South. The paintwork outside is new, as are the parking area and entrance plaza accessibility improvements. The court fees are $38 for singles play and $42 for doubles (for 1 h 15 mins). 

Friday/ the door is: red

The exterior paintwork for the house on my street block, is done.
Now I can stop wondering what the colors would be!

It turned out that the upper floor would get the same gray as down below, making the white trim color to really pop. The front door is a dramatic red. It’s darker than scarlet – it could be a shade of vermilion.

Thursday/ the sun is out, and the Mountain

On Wednesday and today, it was sunny, with lots of blue sky — a high of only 48°F/ 9°C, though.

The sun is out, and so is the Mountain. (Mt Rainier). In the Seattle city skyline, look for the new Rainier Square Tower, just to the right of the tallest skyscraper in the middle of the picture, the black Columbia Tower (opened 1985). [Picture taken today by Seattle photographer Tim Durkan, presumably from his bird’s eye view on an incoming flight. (Picture posted on Twitter @timdurkan)].
Here is my picture from last Friday of Rainier Square Tower (left), as I was walking towards 4th Ave. on University St. There is just a few more floors to cover up at the top. That’s Rainier Tower on the right (opened 1977).

Monday/ not a lot of rain, so far

November is Seattle’s rainiest month, with an average total of some 6 or 7 in. of rain.
So far this month, though, the rain gauge at Seattle-Tacoma airport had recorded only 0.86 in of rain through Sunday night.

Blobs of rain water, big and small, stick to the waxy leaves of the ‘Ascot Rainbow’ Euphorbia at the back of my house.