Friday/ the tulips are out

Friday was a beautiful sunny day in the city (66 °F/ 19 °C).
I finally see tulips blooming here in my neighborhood .. Seattle’s chilly winter weather meant that flowers, especially ones from bulbs like tulips and daffodils, are blooming a bit later than in past years.

Bright red tulips here on my block.

My Japanese maple is budding with beautiful colors in its new leaves.


Sunday/ Amazon construction update

The city of Seattle had a decent Sunday (with sun!), and I used the opportunity to go check out the progress on the Amazon biospheres.   There is also a third Amazon tower building for which construction had started in the fall of 2016, with its completion scheduled for some time in 2018.

The three biospheres all have complete outer shells, but there is still work needed on the inside. What must surely be the city’s smallest dog park, is in the lower right of the picture : an enclosure barely bigger than my sitting room. Just behind the white containers on the left of the picture, is the foundation of Amazon Tower III, slated for completion in 2018.

Here is an artistic rendering of the three Amazon Towers. From left to right : Amazon I is the set of buildings with the red & green; Amazon II is the blue one to the right of the biospheres, and Tower III is the one on the far right, still under construction (37 floors). © Magnusson Klemencic Associates

This is the view on the north-facing side of Amazon II. There is an Amazon Go grocery concept store* on the far corner (where the yellow paneling ends) – but the store is not yet open to the public. *There are no check-out lines. The store uses technology to detect when a shopper takes an item from the shelf, and then syncs the data to the shopper’s smart phone.

Tuesday/ Bertha sees daylight

Yay! The tunnel boring machine called Bertha, digging the State Route 99 tunnel under the city to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, emerged today into the sunlight.  The tunnel is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) long.  Digging started four years ago in April 2013, but came to a halt in December 2013 when damage to the the main bearing was sustained.  It would be two years, until December 2015, before digging could resume.

So .. now the tunnel is dug, but it will still take until early 2019 before the current above-ground section of State Route 99 can be moved below ground, by using the tunnel.

The moment the tunneling machine broke into the end wall. What happens next? Well, the braces in the disassembly pit will be removed, the tunneling machine pushed forward so that the cutter head can be removed. then the rest of the machine will be taken back through the tunnel to the starting point. (The crane that can lift the very heavy machinery, is located).

Sunday/ Puget Sound low tide

We had some sun on Sunday, and even though it was not warm! (50 °F/ 10 °C), it was still nice to get outside.  My friends Bill & Dave and I took their dogs to the beach at the edge of Puget Sound between Golden Gardens, and Carkeek Park.

1. The main picture shows the edge of Puget Sound looking southwest, more or less where the bubble no 10 is on the map.   2.  I’m no crap expert, but I think this is a dungeness crab we ran into on the beach.   3.  Just out of curiosity, I looked up the rules for catching crab on the Washington State Dept of Fisheries and Wildlife.  When the season is open, there is a limit of 5 adult males.  (For area 10 the season is closed right now).

Saturday/ (I don’t like) April Fools’ Day

It turns out ‘fake news’ goes back a long way – in the case of fake news regarding the collapse of the Space Needle, all the way back to April Fools’ Day in 1989.   Local TV station King5 reports that an April Fools’ Day joke that year, was taken as seriously real news, in spite of a bold ‘APRIL FOOLS DAY’ caption on the fake picture that was aired.   So many people called 911 that the local 911 system was shut down.  The story made national headlines, and jokesters John Keister and Steve Wilson that put the footage together (including a hysterical ‘eyewitness’) had to apologize on air.

Fake news from April 1, 1989 : that the Space Needle had collapsed. (No such thing happened).

Wednesday/ can confirm: sun in Seattle

This February and March have been the wettest in at least a century here in the Pacific Northwest.  So when the sun came out today, our local TV station tweeted this tongue-in-cheek picture of a sun-lit downtown Seattle.  And as I walked into my kitchen late afternoon to start with dinner, I thought Whoah! The sun is so bright!

Thursday/ lots of rain

We have has a lot of rain (in addition to the snow), this February in the Seattle area.
From the Seattle Times : With 7.84 inches of rain for the month by 6 a.m. Thursday, February is the sixth-wettest. Wednesday was a record-setter all by itself, with 1.63 inches of rain, drowning the daily record of 0.94 inches set in 1970.
At this rate, all Seattle needs is an additional 1.28 inches to float right to the top, breaking the record for the month set in 1961, said Dustin Guy, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle.

The rain had stopped and it was a beautiful day outside on Thursday, with the air scrubbed clean from the rain, and mild temperatures ( 52 °F/ 11°C).

Check out this interesting map showing the ‘rain shadow’ here in Puget Sound. The Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula form a barrier against the moist air and precipitation that comes in from a south westerly direction from Hawaii. In some places none of the rain make it to the other side of the peninsula. I guess here in the city we’re a little in between. We get some of the rain but not nearly as much as the Olympic Peninsula.

Monday/ Mr Blue Sky

The snow stopped early afternoon on Monday, and Mr Blue Sky* came out.  I scraped the steps and the path to my front door clean, if only for the mailman that comes up to the mail box on the porch (to fill it with junk mail every day).

*A reference to the 1977 song from Electric Light Orchestra

Hey – I see blue sky from my front porch. The temperature warmed up just enough this afternoon to melt the thin layer of snow and ice left on the clean-scraped sections of the path and sidewalk. The rest of the snow will melt in the next two or three days, I think.

Monday/ snow day in Seattle

Winter storm Maya will move across the northern United States and the Midwest through Tuesday. (Source: The Weather Channel)

Here’s a close-up of the cities and snowfalls from winter storm Maya. (Source: The Weather Channel).

Here’s a picture I took around 5.30 am this morning, of 17th Ave on Capitol Hill.

And these fir trees are in my back yard. It is 11 am on Monday and big fluffy snow flakes are sifting down.

There were widespread snowfalls in the low elevations of Puget Sound since Sunday night.   It’s a somewhat unusual weather event: the biggest February snowfall in the city in 13 years.  I measured about 4 inches at my house by noon on Monday.

Overnight temperatures hovered around freezing (32 °F/ 0 °C), and daytime will only add a few degrees to that.  Hopefully most of the snow will melt and not freeze again into ice.  Ice makes for a lot of trouble on streets and sidewalks!


Saturday/ Seattle’s protest march

Liberty and justice for all people!

This is an hour and some into the march. That is Seattle’s old Union Station in the background.

Hey, I marched in Seattle’s Trump protest march today. Offcially/ unofficially called the Women’s March Seattle, it really featured as just about as many men as women, and the signs I saw covered a very wide range of concerns with the incoming administration – all based on what President Trump ran his campaign on.   By the local TV station’s estimate, there were some 130,000 people in the march here in Seattle.

Update Sun 1/22: Organizers now say the number of people in the Seattle Women’s March on Washington is estimated to have been 175,000.

And this is at the corner of 4th Ave and Washington, in lower downtown Seattle.


Sunday/ construction update

It was finally warm enough* for me to venture out for a walk-about in the city today, to ‘inspect’ the construction going on in downtown Seattle.

*43°F/ 6°C .. so still pretty chilly, just not freezing !

The cladding of ‘The Mark’ is progressing. The 660 ft-tall building has 44 floors and is scheduled for completion in April 2017. (I’m not an expert, but just looking at it from the outside, I think the completion will be a few months later than April!).

The three Amazon biospheres have all their panels fitted, but there is still a lot of work to be done on the inside. They are scheduled for completion in the spring of 2018.

Saturday/ the Sounders have it

The Seattle Sounders, our Major League Soccer team, won the 2016 championship title on Saturday night against Toronto.  It was 28 °F (-2°C) at kick-off !  More than 90 minutes later it was still 0-0 and the game went into overtime. Swiss-born Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei made a monster save (below), and the Sounders went on to win the penalty shoot- out with the winning penalty kick by Roman Torres. Go Sounders!


Friday/ snow day

It doesn’t snow every winter in Seattle – and I’m not used to snow, anyway! – so when it does snow, I run out and take some pictures.  Here are two of my favorites of the pictures I took this time.

It’s midnight on Thursday on 17th Ave in North Capitol Hill with its big trees, and bright white LED street lights.

This picture was taken at about 7 am this morning, at sunrise.  The snow on the cars was still soft and fluffy, and easy to clean off.

Sunday/ cold but sunny

It was a cold but sunny day here in Seattle, and I chased myself out of the house in the early afternoon.   The dark comes quickly (4.18 pm today), like a thief that stole the light while you were not looking.    The weatherman says there may be a dusting of snow in the lowlands in the morning.   I will be able to tell if he is right early on, but I will be heading out to the airport and to San Francisco one more time, in the early hours.


It was 4.10 pm when I took this picture, twilight already! – as I was making my way up East John St toward the top of Capitol Hill.


Thursday/ Uncle Ike’s

Here’s my local Uncle Ike’s pot shop, the one on 15th Ave here on Capitol Hill.  (It’s on my way to the grocery store, but I have not set foot inside of it yet).  I see on the Uncle Ike website that they have multi-lingual ‘bud tenders’ .. a good thing given the dizzying array of cannabis products listed.  Cannabis comes in all kinds of incarnations : flowers, concentrates, edibles (cookies), and of course – joints.  I have also learned that the two major types of cannabis plants are Indica and Sativa.


Uncle Ike’s on 15th Avenue. The lights on the bare trees in front of Uncle Ike’s, and even the green light bulbs lining the roof, brings a little cheer to the gloomy gray winter sky.


Wednesday/ November’s gone

There goes November .. the year is running out on us.  It’s great to be home from the road a little earlier this week.   Daytime and night time temperatures are falling here as winter approaches.  On Monday night the first dip below freezing is expected at 30 °F (-1.1 °C).


Our approach into Seattle-Tacoma airport took us over downtown Seattle as usual. We came up from the south over Puget Sound, then made a wide turn east that took us over the city and on to the airport. The Space Needle has its white LED ‘Christmas Tree’ on .. look for it in the middle at the top of the picture.

Saturday/ the smoke alarms are in


At night, the Nest smoke detector turns on an overhead night light if it detects movement below. (The iPhone picture that I took is quite a bit darker, than in reality).

My three new smoke/ CO detectors from Nest have been installed (with Bryan and Gary’s help).   Despite the step-by-step instructions, it was definitely not straightforward to do the connection of each of the three devices to my home network .. so this may be something the manufacturers could work on to improve.

Tuesday/ back from California already

Well, I left Seattle-Tacoma airport wet on Sunday night, and it was wet again when I returned tonight.   And we have a soggy Thanksgiving weekend ahead of us (Thanksgiving is Thursday), says the weather forecasters.    San Francisco airport was full of holiday weekend travelers.  One mom and dad herded five small kids with strollers stacked up on a cart and roller-bag luggage strung together in threes, through the airport.  ‘Wow .. quite an operation you have going there’, said my colleague admiringly.


The gates at the C concourse at Seattle-Tacoma airport at our arrival tonight.