Sunday walkabout

It was very pleasant this weekend in Seattle (69°F/  21°C). We had none of the turbulent, stormy weather that swept through the Midwest and elsewhere.
Here are two pictures from my downtown walkabout this afternoon.

Construction on these newest Amazon buildings, on the corner of Blanchard and 7th Avenue, have both topped out. There are 24 stories on the left tower, and 8 stories on the right. I trust that those crane bases and moorings have been double & triple-checked after the bad accident at the Google construction site. (The little red car is a Tesla Model 3).
And nearby on 5th Avenue, as always, was the monorail train doing its short run from the Space Needle to Westlake Center downtown. I think it’s pulling off quite a feat: it manages to look both retro AND futuristic at the same time!

Tuesday/ rain, for the rhododendrons

It finally rained a little here in Seattle today – not much, but it was welcome.
It is May, and so the rhododendrons are out in full bloom: in whites and pinks and even yellows, oranges and reds.

Rhododendrons (from Ancient Greek ῥόδον rhódon ‘rose’ and δένδρον déndron ‘tree’) is a genus of 1,024 species of woody plants and found mainly in Asia. It is found widespread in the highlands of the Appalachian Mountains of North America. We also have plenty of them here in the city of Seattle – probably because it is the state flower of Washington State! [Some of the information obtained from Wikipedia].

Monday/ Rainier Square Tower taking shape

Here are two pictures that I took today, of the Rainier Square Tower. Construction workers have started to install the glass panels on the swooping side of the tower. Boy, I hope it will not be too tricky for window cleaners to scale down that side of the building to clean those slanted surfaces!

The construction of the Rainier Square Tower is at about 35 floors by my count. It will eventually be an 850-ft tall skyscraper (260 m), with 58 stories.
The new Rainier Square Tower is located at Union Street between 4th and 5th Avenues, adjacent to the existing Rainier Tower (the 41-story building on the pedestal, on the left).

Saturday/ the gnomon sundial at the UW

What you seek is but a shadow.
– the motto on the University of Washington sundial.

With all the sunshine we had this week, I thought it was high time for me to understand how the sundial on the Physics building at the University of Washington works!

In the picture below, the shadow of the gnomon (ball) moves from left to right as the day progresses. The sun crosses lower in the sky in winter time, and then the path on the wall is higher. The sun crosses higher in summer time, and then the path on the wall is lower. The equinox was in March, so we have already crossed to below the line marked EQUINOX on the sundial.

The only other thing that seemed out of whack, was that the dial seemed a little off: it showed 12.30 pm PDT on the nose, when it was already 12.39 pm when I took the picture. Should the gnomon ball shadow not have moved at least a little bit off the 12.30 pm line, towards the 1.00 pm line?

We in Seattle, and all others in the Pacific Standard Time zone, keep a clock time based on the solar time at the arbitrary longitude of 120° W (which happens to pass through the town of Chelan). However, in Seattle we are located some 2° 19′ to the west of this longitude, and the sundial in Seattle indicates a time 9.2 minutes earlier than the sun would in Chelan. Here is the full explanation from the UW Dept. of Physics.

P.S.  Look for the slender figure-eight-shaped curve in the sundial’s center by the 12, called the analemma. It is a plot of the location on each day at noon, throughout the year, of the gnomon ball’s shadow.

The UW sundial at 12.39 pm PDT on Thu May 9, 2019. (I marked up the shadow of the arm and the gnomon ball in black, so that it shows clearly). The dial is on the side of the University of Washington’s Physics/Astronomy Auditorium at 3800 15th Ave NE. It was installed in 1994 under the supervision of Prof. Woody Sullivan, then-Professor of Astronomy.

Monday/ walking up Pike street

When I go downtown with the No 10 bus, I usually take the same No 10 bus back, from its stop a the Washington State Convention Center on Pike. Today at 5 pm, though, that spot was flooded with Microsoft nerds just leaving the first day of the 2019 Microsoft Build conference. And another 15 minutes for the next bus, said my app, and I thought: well, it’s such a nice day, let’s just walk walk walk, which is what I did, all the way home (took about 20 minutes).

I love this dinosaur sign at Saint John’s Bar & Eatery on Pike. It might be a Sinclair Gas Station dinosaur; these were used in Sinclair’s marketing as far back as 1930. And I thought the flag behind it was the national flag for Jordan or Lebanon, but no: it’s an arboreal flag that is popular in Portland, Oregon – sometimes called the ‘Doug flag’ for the Douglas fir tree that is depicted on it.

Sunday/ blue skies, and pleasant

It got up to 68°F (20°C) here in the city — very pleasant but not really warm. The weather people say we will hit 80°F (27°C) by next weekend, and that there is no rain the forecast.

The view from the lawn at Madison ‘Beach’ at 5pm today (not a real beach! there’s no sand, and that’s Lake Washington). The water is still too chilly to go dipping into, and there were only a few boats around, even though Saturday was ‘Opening Day’, meaning the official opening of the 2019 boating season.

Saturday/ Yay! the Elysian is open again!

Our favorite Capitol Hill brewpub – the Elysian Brewery – will reopen on Monday after renovations that had taken more than four months. We were able to get in and get treated to a special pre-opening beer tasting event on Saturday. There is a lot to like about the changes they had made to the inside, and we had a lot of fun tasting the new beers on offer. Cheers!

Elysian Capitol Hill Brewery is on Pike and 13th Avenue.
New tiling at the entrance.
The main counter has giant black vintage lamp sconces said to have been found in Poland, with the rest of the interior in black and cozy wooden ceilings and beams.
What it’s all about: the beer! We tasted beers called Space Fuzz, Snail Bone, Baby Bone and Glitter. This is a Snail Bone, brewed as an American IPA. The stuff is potent: 8.5% alc/ volume! The food menu did get a makeover as well, and we were told everything on the menu will be made from scratch.
The area at the back features a few new fermentation vessels, allowing more types of beers to be brewed. Each new batch takes about two weeks in a vessel. The shuffleboard table is new, too.

Friday/ the last of the camellia’s flowers

Here’s a camellia flower from the bush in my front yard. They are so beautiful, these flowers .. but so messy when they turn brown and plop to the ground!

It’s been dry here for the Pacific Northwest, with the snowpack in the Olympic Mountains reported to be only about half of what it should be.

Wednesday/ sunny May Day

It was a gorgeous, sunny May Day today. A helicopter hovered overhead downtown all afternoon. It kept an eye on the Seattle May Day parade for workers’ rights and immigrants’ rights.

I walked by this young ginkgo tree here on 17th Ave today, and checked its new leaves coming out. Ginkgo tree remains have been found in fossils of 270 million years ago. Its leaves were eaten by dinosaurs such as the Supersaurus and the Lambeosaurus! Whoah! The tree has been cultivated since the earliest times by humans, and can live for a thousand years.

Sunday/ no, no! no nut for you!

It was sunny today, but it’s still not very warm (58°F/ 14°C). The grass is green, the leaves are out, and the blossoms are fading away, though.

This little squirrel came towards me as I stopped to take a picture of its white belly. Then as it approached me, I had to tell it no! no! go away! before it got the message and turned around. I wonder if people have been giving the little guy food (they shouldn’t).

Saturday/ crane collapse disaster

The large crane on the almost-completed Google office building in South Lake Union collapsed today, and fell onto cars in the street below.

Four people were killed: two were ironworkers working on the crane, and the other two were inside cars on the street below.  Three more injured people were taken to the hospital and they will be OK.


Wednesday beers

We were at a pub called Stout on 11th Avenue, for our beers tonight. I like the artwork behind the main counter. (It seems to me to have some communist propaganda poster undertones. Maybe if it had a slogan or a message, it would have said ‘Work hard, drink beer!’).

Tuesday/ on the No 48 bus today

Stock photo of the No 48 bus, southbound. [Picture from].
I was on the No 48 bus today, southbound and returning home from the University District. We were about to depart from a bus stop, when a blind man walked up at that moment, tapping with his white cane to find his way. (The bus stop serves several bus lines).

Oh man! I thought – is this your bus? How would you know this is your bus? .. and we’re going to leave you behind, if it is!

Just then, he produced a big rolodex out of his jacket that showed the digits 0 4 8 — a sign to arriving No 48 bus drivers, I’m sure. They would know to look for blind passengers, spot him, and assist him to get onto the bus. Luckily today, an alert bystander on the sidewalk saw what was happening, and knocked on the door to get the driver’s attention. Another person helped the him to get onto the bus. We were on our way, leaving no one behind. It made me very happy. It made my day.

Friday/ Easter

Easter is late this year, but here it is. (It is also Passover).
In Western Christianity, Easter Sunday must always follow the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Here in Seattle there has been a drizzle all day.
We call it motreën in Afrikaans: a ‘moth rain’.

Tuesday/ those unread books: ‘tsundoku’

I make full use of the Seattle public libraries at my disposal, but I don’t always get to all the books that I had taken out, before they are due back.

There is a Japanese word for buying or acquiring books that go unread: tsundoku (Japanese: 積ん読). The word is composed from tsunde (to stack things), oku (to leave it for a while), and doku (to read).

I went to the University branch of the Seattle Public Library today, on Roosevelt Avenue. It is actually one of the smaller branches, but one of the oldest. It opened its doors in 1910.
And I had to snap the Seattle Fire Department Station No 17 across the street as well, 1. since it is a Seattle City landmark building (same as the University branch library), and 2. thinking of yesterday’s terrible fire in Paris. The fire station was constructed in 1930 (hence the Art Deco touches), but renovated extensively in 1987.

Saturday/ removing the Viaduct piece by piece

It was blustery and rainy today, but I went down to Pike Place Market to check on the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
The railroad tracks below, and the steep slope complicate this area, and the crews use a slower method of removal: sawcutting and removal of the sections with a crane.

Here’s the crew preparing a surface section that was cut out of the Viaduct, for removal by a very tall crane. This is across from Victor Steinbrueck Park just north of Pike Place Market.

Tuesday/ the beer is here

Here’s a Rainier beer truck on 15th Ave, delivering supplies to the local restaurants and watering holes, no doubt.

Rainier-branded beer was launched 1878, 11 years before Washington became the 42nd state in the Union (on November 11, 1889). The ‘pale mountain ale’ shown on the truck was introduced in 2016, brewed with Yakima valley hops. I see on the website it was a limited-time offering, though – so it might not be available anymore.

Sunday/ Cougar Mountain Zoo

I ran out to Cougar Mountain Zoo today. It’s a smallish (11 acres) zoological park located on the north slope of Cougar Mountain about 15 miles east of Seattle. These are my pictures.

The grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum) is native to eastern and southern Africa, and is the national bird of Uganda.
Here’s the best I shot I could get of the sarus crane (Grus antigone), found in parts of the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia and Australia. They are the tallest of the flying birds, standing at a height of up to 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m).
The emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) from Australia is the second-largest living bird after the ostrich. They weigh about 80 lbs (36 kg).
Another Australian creature at the zoo, a marsupial called the wallaby. There are dozens of species and this one is a swamp wallaby, sometimes called a black wallaby (Wallabia bicolor).
This is a gray wolf or timber wolf (Canis lupis). They come in different color variations in their coats. Washington State’s wolf population has been doing OK in recent years, with the numbers slowly increasing. Most are found in the northeastern quarter of the state. At the end of 2017, there were at least 122 wolves counted in 22 packs, with 14 breeding pairs. (Man – that still does not sound like a very large number to me!).
It’s cold and there is no jungle here! .. so these ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) huddle together. They are an endangered species, native the to island of Madagascar of the east coast of Africa.
Oh dear! Here we have the regular old garden variety of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), a deer indigenous to western North America. It is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule. [Source: Wikipedia]
On to the exotic birds. Here is the hyacinthine macaw or blue macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus). It is a parrot native to central and eastern South America. It is the largest of the macaws, and can live up to 50 years of age.
This is a blue-and-gold macaw (Ara ararauna), also native in South America. This one’s name is Ejea. These macaws are considered to be one of the most trainable and intelligent birds of all the parrots. [Source: Wikipedia]
‘Hmm. I will just sit here and look spectacular in my red feather get-up’ .. is what this scarlet macaw (Ara macao) named Kiwi, seems to be thinking.
And here is Paco the African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), eating some food that got stuck on his foot. These parrots are native to equatorial Africa. These guys are great companion parrots, prized for their ability to mimic human speech, and may also live up to 50 years.
From Indonesia, the Moluccan cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis).
And here is a reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), one of a little herd at the zoo. These deer are native to arctic, sub-arctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North America. This zoo has the largest herd of Siberian Reindeer in the United States.
Tigers are still found in parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma – but are critically endangered in the wild, and almost certain to become extinct in the next decade. This is a Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), with the white color variation. This is not an albino, or a separate species from the orange and black Bengal tigers.
Here’s the classic orange-black-and-white coated Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). I’m keeping my distance and using my zoom lens through one of the two fences. Even so, I was not of much interest to the big feline. It was getting ready to ..
.. y-a-a-a-wn!
Finally, here is the famous mountain lion or cougar (Puma concolor). I love its heavy tail. Sadly, the Eastern cougar (Puma concolor couguar) is now officially extinct. On the western side of North America, cougars are doing OK for now, in the wild.

Wednesday/ there is an end to everything

‘There is an end to everything, to good things as well’.
Proverb that dates back to about 1374 (Geoffrey Chaucer, poet).

We learned yesterday that the reason the Rolling Stones had to postpone their upcoming concert in May in Seattle, was for Mick Jagger (75) to undergo heart surgery (a heart valve replacement). Yikes. Apparently surgeons can work new wonders these days with a much less invasive procedure, but even so.
Is this not a sign for Mick and the Stones to finally, just pack it up, and call it quits?

Posters on Pike Street here in Capitol Hill, for the Rolling Stones ‘No Filter’ concert that had been planned for May here in Seattle, but that is now postponed. (That red tongue logo debuted in 1971). I saw the Rolling Stones in St Louis in 1996 – their ‘Bridges to Babylon’ tour. With the internet brand new at the time, there was a projected computer screen on stage. Fans could e-mail in requests for songs – from their hard-wired desktop or notebook computers at home, I suppose. There was no Blackberry, no smartphone, no wifi, nothing mobile like that.

Monday/ here’s April

Well, March is behind us. We had only 36% of the normal month of March rainfall, here in the Seattle area: 1.37 in. vs the average of 3.72 in.

Cloud cover but still no rain. Here’s a late afternoon view looking into the sunset, from where I’m standing at 14th Ave and John. Those are the Olympic Mountains, on the Olympic Peninsula, behind the Space Needle.