Sunday walkabout

The walkways around the Denny Substation opened yesterday, and I went to take a look today.

The view at the top of the walkway at Denny Substation. This is at a 2nd floor elevation, and close to the corner of Denny Way & Stewart St.
One can now stand under the ‘Transforest’ artwork and, um, learn to appreciate it a little more!
Here’s a view from Stewart Street towards the Space Needle. The site in the middle of the picture is under construction (1200 Stewart St), and this current view will change dramatically over the next 18 months or so. Two 45-story towers on a 3-story podium will be constructed with some 1,050 apartments and retail space. (Whoah). The new building partially fitted with its glass windows is 1120 Denny Way: a complex of two 41-story apartments buildings. Upon completion, it will be the largest apartment building in the city’s history with 1,179 apartments.
The construction of the new ‘Building Cure‘ for Seattle Children’s Research Hospital is about to be completed. I love the mirror finish on the lettering. This is on Terry Avenue.
Also by the Building Cure are these colorful sidewalk chairs that can swivel.
A giant astronaut in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, promoting an exhibit of the 1969 moon landing in Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

Thursday/ ten years of light rail in Seattle

Today marks ten years since the opening of the Seattle light rail transit system. I was one of the 45,000 riders that boarded the light rail train for the first time, on July 18, 2009.

The initial line ran from downtown to Tukwila International Boulevard (close to Seattle-Tacoma airport). Four more stops have opened since then (Seattle-Tacoma airport & Angle Lake to the south, Capitol Hill and University of Washington to the north). The next extension of three more stops to the north, will open in 2021.

I made a run to the downtown station today, to buy this 10-year anniversary transit card. There’s the train in the background. There are currently 62 train cars in the system. They are made by a train car manufacturer called Kinkisharyo, in Osaka, Japan.

Sunday/ jumped on a bike

I went bicycling with my friends on today, and tried out an electric-assist bicycle for the first time.

The bicycle has three gears, and performed very well. As far as I could tell, the electric assist from the battery is always-on (so no way to turn it off).
On even grades, the electric assist feels a little like cheating! – but it does come in very handy on long uphill climbs.

I’m ready! I found this bike a few blocks away from my friends’ house, with the help of Uber’s app, scanned its QR code with my phone, unlocked it, and it was ready to go. JUMP is Uber’s bike-share service that competes with Lime, the other bike rental player in Seattle.
Here’s Lake Washington, during a quick stop in Seward Park. It was a beautiful day (75°F/ 24°C) with sun and puffy white clouds.

Friday/ we had a little earthquake

Newspaper front page after the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.

I woke up to a shaking house at 3 a.m. this morning.
The shaking went on for only a few seconds, but I was sure it was an earthquake. It turned out there was a magnitude 3.5 quake, and the one I experienced must have been the 4.6 quake that followed just two minutes later.

The epicenter of the quake is about 26 miles from my house.  No real damage or injuries in the Puget Sound area or from elsewhere, were reported.

P.S. The Nisqually earthquake of 2001 near Olympia was several orders of magnitude stronger, at 6.8. It damaged the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the dome of the State Capitol building in Olympia, and Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.

Map and information from U.S. Geological Survey

Thursday/ a double rainbow

Here’s a beautiful double rainbow, that we saw on Wednesday night from my friends’ house in the Mt Baker neighborhood.

P.S. Yes, it’s not your imagination, there really is a second one above the first!

A double rainbow is seen when sunlight is reflected and refracted into its different wavelengths twice (in the suspended drops in the atmosphere). So the observer sees two different reflections, coming from different angles.

Sunday, sans sun

It was a gray Sunday, with a little rain, here in the city today.
I did run out to go check on the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s gradual disappearance (on-going demolition), and the new buildings under construction nearby.

Looking south from the upper deck at Pike Place Market. No Mt Rainier in the distance, just low clouds.
Looking north. There’s the Norwegian Bliss at the Bell Street Cruise Terminal (Pier 66), just getting ready to set sail for a round trip to Skagway, Alaska. It will be back early next Sunday morning.
The neon sign at Pike Place Market is almost as iconic as the Space Needle. It has been there much longer (since 1935), and was designed by architect Andrew Willatsen.
Nearby is The Emerald, a 40-story, 265-unit condominium high-rise. The mural artwork is for outdoor store Fjällräven (Swedish for arctic fox), around the corner.  (Scientists recently published an article that tells of a female arctic fox that had trekked an astonishing 2,700 miles from Norway to Canada, across arctic ice, in just 21 days).
And how is the new Rainier Square Tower on 5th Avenue progressing? I believe it still has 15 to 20 floors to go before topping out.
I always walk by this building on the way back from Pike Place Market and even though it now sells discount clothing, it has a storied history. It was built in 1940 as a major West coast store for the F. W. Woolworth Company. These the waning days of Art Deco architecture, but the building still has many Art Deco traits. The terracotta and lighter cream colors go together nicely, and I love the styling of the clock with its horizontal ‘wing’ accents.

Tuesday/ a little rain

We had light rain for most of the day here in the city – a welcome change in the weather, given the dry conditions around Western Washington.
July is the driest month of the year, though*. So we may not see a whole lot more rain, soon.

*July average rainfall is 0.9 in., compared to 6.1 in. for December.

Current drought conditions in Washington State. The city of Seattle falls in the ‘D2- Severe Drought’ area on the map. So far there is no large wildfires burning in in the State – always an elevated risk when conditions are dry. [Source:].

Sunday/ Happy Pride!

Happy Pride! My friends and I checked in on the Seattle Pride Parade today, and here are a few pictures.

Here comes the Amazon contingent. (Very convenient that ‘Amazon’ has 7 letters that exactly match the number of colors in the gay rainbow flag!).
I loved the ‘pink unicorn’ walking with the Walmart delegation.
Drug manufacturer Gilead. The giant blue pill in the truck is the miracle HIV prevention pill called Truvada, that have already saved countless lives all over the world. Only thing is: in the United States a month’s supply cost health insurers a fortune (almost $2,000). Gilead generated global Truvada sales of nearly $3 billion last year, of which about $2.6 billion came from the United States. In Gilead’s defense: they have spent some $6 billion on HIV/AIDS research since 2000.
Yay! for University of Washington Medicine, and their beautiful big rainbow flags.

Friday/ on tennis tournament duty

I helped out as a volunteer at the Seattle Classic tennis tournament today.
The tournament is sanctioned by the Gay & Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA). The GLTA is an international body that oversees an impressive worldwide circuit of tennis tournaments (check out the table below).

The tournaments do not have prize money to speak of, but it is a great way of encouraging the LGBT community to participate in the wonderful sport of tennis (of which I am a lifelong fan).

Doubles play in progress today on one of the six outdoor courts at the Lloyd Nordstrom Tennis Center at the University of Washington. The speck at the top left is a float plane.
There are six indoor courts as well. The different divisions for different skill levels: Open, A, B, C and D. Some tournaments add draws for over-35 or over-45 players.
JuneAlegria OpenRotterdam, NetherlandsClay
JuneSeattle ClassicSeattle, WA-USAIndoor and Outdoor Hard
JulyPrague Friendly Tennis OpenPrague, Czech RepublicRed Clay
JulySan Diego OpenSan Diego, CA-USAHard
JulyLiberty OpenNew York, NY-USAOutdoor Hard
JulyEurogamesRome, ItalyTBD
JulyHanse Cup HamburgHamburg, GermanyClay
JulyThe Philadelphia OpenPhiladelphia, PA-USAHard court
JulyMadrid Tennis Open (Masters)Madrid, SpainGreen set (outdoor) and clay (covered)
AugChillli Tennis Open (Masters)Katowice, PolandClay
AugVIP (Vancouver International Pride)Vancouver, BC, CanadaHard Court
AugSecond City Tennis ClassicChicago, IL-USAIndoor Hard
AugAd-OUT CologneCologne, GermanyClay
AugParis Summer CupParis, FranceClay
AugZurich Rainbow OpenZurich, SwitzerlandRed Clay
AugBarcelona Open (Masters)Barcelona, SpainClay
AugNew Hope OpenNew Hope, PA-USAHard Court/Clay
AugTallinn Colour GamesTallinn, EstoniaHard Court/Carpet
AugMontréal Coupe de la ReineMontréal, Québec, CanadaIndoor Hard
AugThe Peach InternationalAtlanta, GA-USAHard
AugRose City OpenBeaverton, OR-USAHard
SeptIGO-Italian Gay OpenMilan, ItalyClay
SeptKiss My Ace-Manchester GLTAManchester, EnglandGrass
SeptIndyTennis ClassicIndianapolis, IN-USAHard Court
SeptBali G-SlamBali, IndonesiaHard Court
SeptThe Capital ClassicWashington, DC, DC-USAHard and Clay
SeptWrocLove CupWroclaw, PolandHard Court
SeptQueen City OpenCincinnati, OH-USAHard
SeptVicTennis Hard Court ChampionshipsMelbourne, AustraliaHard
SeptTexas Open (Masters)Dallas, TX-USAHard
OctGran Canaria OpenMaspalomas, Gran CanariaClay
OctOut in Hong Kong OpenHong Kong, Hong KongArtificial Grass
OctPeter Deacon TournamentSydney (Concord), NSW, AustraliaSynthetic Grass
OctSan Diego DoublesSan Diego, CA-USAHard Court
OctTennis London InternationalLondon, EnglandIndoor Hard
OctBrilliant Games (Masters)Antwerp, BelgiumHard
NovHOUTEXHouston, TX-USAHard Court
NovSunshine Doubles Gran CanariaMaspalomas, Gran CanariaClay
NovSegundo Abierto del Orgullo Argentino LGBTBuenos Aires, ArgentinaClay/Hard Courts
NovPalm Springs OpenRancho Mirage, CA-USAHard Court
NovCitrus Classic (Masters)Tampa, FL-USAHar-Tru Clay
DecFrankfurt OpenMaintal, GermanyCarpet
Dec10th Bangkok Pride Tournament (Masters)Bangkok, ThailandHard Court
Gay & Lesbian Tennis Alliance (GLTA) Tournaments 2019

Sunday/ South Lake Union construction update

Some of the construction projects in South Lake Union are nearing their completion: the Nexus condominium tower, the Denny Substation and the Google office buildings. I took these pictures today.

Here is the 41-story Nexus condominium tower at 1200 Howell St, viewed from the south. The ‘cubes’ with their 8° offsets add a little interest to the building.
This is the fancy main gate and its door, of Seattle City Light’s Denny Substation (see the ‘LIGHT’ in big letters?). The walkways on the outer perimeter alongside the building are still closed to the public, though. The $210 million substation will be fully operational by year-end.
Hmm .. and check out the artwork that has now been installed: the 110 ft (33.5 m) tall ‘Frankenstein’ transmission tower (my name for it).  Its official name is Transforest, and it was designed by Lead Pencil Studio.
There are no cranes on the Google building anymore – just scaffolding to complete the outside cladding. I’m looking west, and that’s Mercer Street on the left, onto which the construction crane had crashed on April 28. The cloud logo stands for Google Cloud Platform, a suite of cloud computing services. Google employees will start to move in later this summer.

Friday/ summer solstice in the North

It’s the official start of summer here in the North today.
We have had mild temperatures (68°F/ 20°C) and not much rain in June, tracking at about 50% of the month’s average.
Sunset tonight was at its latest for the year, at 9.11 pm here in Seattle.

I walk by these neon pink flowers on their silvery gray stems almost every day, and finally looked it up: they are rose campions (Lychnis coronaria). They bloom in late spring and early summer, and like full sun and drained soil.

Wednesday/ beer night

Only two of the five amigos could make it to the Elysian for beer night tonight.
Our beer of choice was an Elysian Space Dust, a hoppy Imperial Pale Ale with a whopping 8.2% alcohol by volume.

A sticker display on one of the doors inside the Elysian Brewing Company’s Capitol Hill pub. Look for Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch) from the Pacific Northwest, sneaking by the Church of Saint Andrew in Aying, Germany. Aying is near Munich in the southeast corner of Germany, and is famous for its Ayinger Brewery.

Thursday/ gold made early Seattle prosper

Johannesburg in South Africa is sometimes said to be the real ‘El Dorado’: the city that was built on the discovery of gold*. Seattle, for its part, was a pioneer outpost in the late 1800s, and was lifted out of an economic slump and prospered by 1900, due to the discovery of gold.

Here is a brief timeline of Seattle at the end of the 1800s:
1889 Seattle’s Great Fire reduces 50 blocks of downtown to rubble.
1893 The financial Panic of 1893 causes a national recession.
1897 On July 17, the Portland Steamer docks in Seattle, carrying half a ton of gold from the Klondike region in Canada.
Some 10,000 men and boys leave for the Alaskan and Canadian goldfields.
1898 Canada creates the Yukon territory.
1900 By the time the decade and the century ended, Seattle’s population had doubled to 81,000.

*The Witwatersrand Gold Rush was a gold rush in 1886 that led to the establishment of Johannesburg, South Africa. There was once a massive inland lake, and its silt and gold deposits from alluvial gold that had settled there, formed the gold-rich deposits that South Africa is famous for.

A retrospective (printed in 1996) of Seattle Times articles from the late 1800s, that I found in the Seattle Public Library.

Tuesday/ new rainbow paint

It’s nice to see that the City of Seattle has applied new paint on some of the rainbow pedestrian crossings here on Capitol Hill.
I guess it’s too bad we cannot stop pedestrians and traffic from dirtying them up all over again, right?

Here’s the corner of 11th Avenue and Pine Street on Capitol Hill with its freshly painted pedestrian crossing. The real rainbow has seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. On rainbow flags and gay symbols the indigo is left out. The green in this paintwork looks like teal to me, but hey, it’s all fine. I love the colors.

Friday/ rent control: yes or no

Should a city such as Seattle with really expensive housing costs, adopt rent control* measures? Maybe, but probably not.

It usually turns out that rent control creates a whole new set of problems. Renowned economist Paul Krugman writes that rent control inhibits construction of new housing, creates bitter tenant–landlord relations, and in markets with not all apartments under rent control, causes an increase in rents for uncontrolled units.
A better approach for city councils could be to provide housing subsidies or tax credits to renters.

*Rent control or rent regulation is a system of laws, administered by a court or a public authority, which aim to ensure the affordability of housing and tenancies on the rental market for dwellings. [Source: Wikipedia]

Could I sign her petition for rent control? asked the lady at the grocery store entrance today. ‘Hmm- I don’t know enough about it’, was my honest reply. So she gave me this brochure, but all it said was ‘We need rent control’. Well, in a free market and in order to be fair to everyone, even rich people – those that own entire apartment buildings – it’s just not that straightforward.

Monday/ the rainbow flags are up

I stopped for a moment on the way to the dentist this morning, to take a picture of the colorful rainbow flag at the entrance of the new Hyatt Regency. (June is Gay Pride month).

The Hyatt Regency has been open for business since November. I’m not sure if they are already able to fill their enormous hotel to its full capacity, with guests. They may have to be patient and wait for the extensions to the nearby Washington State Convention Center, to be completed. That date is still more than 18 months away though, some time in early 2021.

Saturday/ a rabbit invasion?

I found this wabbit* right here on 17th Avenue on Capitol Hill tonight. He was not too skittish. In fact, he rolled around for a bit in the flower bed dirt after he had spotted me.
*It’s an eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus).

I see on the message boards that long-time residents think there is a bit of a rabbit invasion going on – an influx into Capitol Hill from other large green spaces such as the one around Husky Stadium.

Says one commenter: ‘Rabbits are a pest and an invasive species’. I think that is correct; they are prolific breeders.
‘People are an invasive species’ retorted another. I think that is a true statement as well.

Friday/ a rose is a rose is a rose

A rose is a rose is a rose
– Gertrude Stein, from the 1913 poem ‘Sacred Emily’

[From Wikipedia] Among Stein’s most famous quotations, this line is often interpreted as meaning ‘things are what they are’, a statement of the law of identity, ‘A is A’. In Stein’s view, the sentence expresses the fact that simply using the name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it.

I know I have posted pictures of roses from my front yard in the past! .. but here is one from right now (smile). The rose smells every bit as intoxicating as it looks.

Wednesday/ ferry collides with a whale

A whale was struck on Tuesday night by the same ferry we had been on earlier in the day. Eyewitnesses said that the whale had breached right in front of the ferry, barely 3 minutes after the ferry had left Colman Dock in Seattle. There really was nothing that could be done to avoid the collision.

Adult humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) range in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weigh around 25–30 metric tons. [Source: Wikipedia]
It was a juvenile humpback whale that was struck, and the blow to the animal was likely fatal.  The ferry is so large and heavy that the impact was barely felt on the vessel. The US Coast Guard is now on the lookout for the wounded or dead whale. As of Wednesday night, no sighting of the whale had been reported.

From While the collision may have been a first in the records of Washington State Ferries, humpback whales are becoming more common in Puget Sound and the risk of future collisions with all manners of marine vessels is increasing. Since the late 1980s, humpback whale numbers have shown ‘a remarkable and strong recovery’, says research biologist and whale expert John Calambokidis at Olympia-based Cascadia Research. Their numbers increased more than four fold to approximately 3,000 along California, Oregon and Washington. Commercial whaling was outlawed in 1966.

I took this picture yesterday from the front of the ferry called Wenatchee (looking back at Bainbridge Island), shortly after we had left the ferry terminal there. This same ferry would later on Tuesday strike a whale, on the way back to Bainbridge Island from Seattle.

Saturday/ the Kingston Fast Ferry

We took the Kingston Fast Ferry out to Kitsap county today to go to Paul’s for a day or two.
It’s a new ferry service, in place since November 2018.

The smaller ‘fast ferries’ go under the umbrella term King County Water Taxi but there are different names for the ferries servicing the different routes. There are ferries from/ to  Kingston, West Seattle and to Vashon Island. The Kingston Fast Ferry takes 40 minutes, and goes at about 30 knots.
We are about to board the 7.55 pm departure from Seattle. This dock is a temporary location close to the main ferry dock called Colman Dock (also called Pier 52). Colman Dock is undergoing a major renovation.
Inside the ferry, with orange life jackets in the upper rack. Washington State had bought the ferry from New York State last year, and then refurbished the inside. The ferry used to provide service between Manhattan and New Jersey, starting in 1996. The name of the ferry is Marine Vessel Finest, a reference to the police men and women of New York City.
Looking back after we had arrived at the dock in Kingston, and disembarked.