Saturday/ pink ice cream truck

A cotton-candy colored hoodie from the RIPNDIP Spring ’19 collection.

 

We spotted this ‘RIPNDIP’ ice cream truck on Madison Ave & 14th on Saturday night.

The truck was next to a pop-up store space (in the black building next to it), used for selling clothing merchandise.

The RIPNDIP brand is originally from Los Angeles, where their flagship store is.

 

Friday/ breaking down the Viaduct

I made it down to Belltown and Pike Place Market on Thursday to check out some of the Alaskan Way Viaduct demolition, from up close.
It’s going to be another 6 months before all the demolition work is done.

Here’s what it looked like in Jul 2018, standing at 55 Bell St and looking south. The north end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct runs overhead. Keep the rounded curb and manhole cover on the left in mind as a reference.  [Picture: Google Street View].
Fast forward to Mar 2019/ today: all gone! It’s hard to believe the picture is taken from the same spot, but that’s the same manhole cover on the far left. I’m standing behind a fence and lifted up my phone to get a clear picture. Restoration and filling efforts are underway.
Here’s a look from Pike Place Market, looking south. Another section of the old southbound Viaduct is now gone. What a different picture this is going to be in 6 months’ time!

Wednesday/ getting warmer

We finally have some warmer weather on the way, and the weatherman says we should get to 65°F /18°C by Monday.

These little snow crocuses (Crocus chrysanthus) are seen around my neighborhood this time of year. Only 3 to 6 inches tall, they can pop up even when there is still snow on the ground, and are native to the Balkans and Turkey.

Sunday/ the Nexus tower tops out

I walked by the Nexus condominium tower today, to check on its progress from November.
The tower’s construction is about to be officially topped off,  with occupancy expected by late 2019.  Some 28 (of the 389) units are still available.

The Nexus condominium tower at 1200 Howell St now has its four stacked ‘cubes’ with their 8° offsets in place. The building has 41 storeys.
The view from the north side. The building’s appearance seems more mundane than the gleaming depictions of it on the Nexus website! .. but maybe I should reserve judgement until its construction has been completed.

Saturday/ shocking, but true: Earth is round

We watched ‘Behind the Curve’ tonight: a Netflix documentary about Flat Earthers. For these people, no ‘conspiracy’ is too big to discount. They say that NASA lies and has conspired for decades to portray Earth as round. They find each other on Facebook groups and Youtube videos, and at conferences, prominent Flat Earthers are treated as celebrities that advocate for ‘the truth’. (The conferences are more about commiserating with each other for being outcasts, than they are about explaining the logical basis for saying that Earth is flat).

One of the main protagonists in the movie is from Whidbey Island, a stone’s throw from Seattle. (Dude. We don’t know you, but stop embarrassing us!). The documentary makes the case that Flat Earthers should not be dismissed & shamed outright, since that will entrench their kooky views even further, and completely marginalize them. The problem is that one cannot use reason to argue with a cultist.

This conspiracy theory mindset bleeds into all kinds of other areas. We have people in the United States that believe that 9/11 and Sandy Hook were perpetrated by the US government, and that mass shootings are staged with ‘crisis actors’. People don’t vaccinate their children. We had a recent case here in Oregon with an unvaccinated boy that almost died from tetanus. It took 57 days in hospital and $800,000 to treat him.  His parents took him home and still refused to get him vaccinated.

Tuesday/ Rainier Square Tower rising .. sans Amazon

Here is what the Rainier Square Tower in downtown Seattle looks like now. (See this post from November).

Amazon was to lease all 722,000 square feet (30 floors) in the new building, but announced last week that it would not do so anymore.  It will look to sub-lease the space to other companies instead.  This announcement came 10 months after Amazon had threatened to pull out of the building if the city were to impose a new business tax (which the city then backed away from).

Looking north, from Fifth Avenue. The shape of the base floors of the new Rainier Square Tower, shows behind the white pedestal of the 1977 Rainier Tower.
Here’s the view from Fifth Ave, looking south. The Rainier Tower (41 floors) and the new Rainier Square Tower (58 floors) are right next to each other. The profile of the tall new tower will keep it from obscuring the older tower.

Monday/ blue skies .. and cold

We had completely blue skies here in Seattle on Sunday and Monday. A superdry air mass is just sitting over the area.
With no cloud blanket, it gets really cold at night. A record low of 16° F (−9°C) for Mar 4 was measured in Olympia this morning.

We had LOTS of snow on the ground in the city in February, but the snowpacks in the mountains are actually still lagging below their normal levels (100% would be where it usually is this time of year). [Graphic: Morgan Palmer and KIRO7 news].

Friday night/ home

It was a long day of traveling, but I made it home. I took the Sprinter train from Rotterdam Centraal station to Schiphol airport (24 mins), an Icelandair Boeing 757 from Schiphol to Keflavik (3 hrs), and another Icelandair Boeing 757 from Keflavik to Seattle airport (7 hrs). Oh, and then the Seattle Light Rail & No 10 bus to get home!

Boarding the airplane named the Dyngjufjöll, the Icelandair Boeing 757 that took off from Keflavik airport for Seattle.
Here’s a depiction of Dyngjufjöll by the aircraft door. The Askja caldera is a large volcanic crater, a popular tourist destination in Iceland.

 

 

Sunday/ Amsterdam bound

I made it to the airport, and it looks like my flight is on time.
I had to negotiate two blocks of bumpy, snowy sidewalk to the bus stop with my roller bags, but it was not too bad. It was easy from there: bus to the Capitol Hill train station, and train to the airport.

Now it’s 7½ hours to Reykjavik on Iceland Air, and another 3 to Amsterdam, where I will overnight on the way to Cape Town, South Africa.

I found this snowman in the little Spring Street park on Saturday afternoon.
Here’s the view at Othello station as my Link Light Rail train passed another on the way to the airport today.  I don’t think the Transit Authority had to take special measures to clear snow from the train tracks on Saturday. The Light Rail operated its normal Saturday schedule – unlike the metro buses, which had to switch to limited snow routes (routes that steer clear of the steeper inclines made slippery by snow and ice),

Saturday/ snowed in

15 cm = 6 inches.
Whoah .. lots of white when I opened my front door this morning! I can still make out the walkway to my front door, though .. so I know where to shovel the snow away.
Here’s an American robin (Turdus migratorius) with its striking orange breast. I found a whole bunch of them, feasting on the red berries on a bush by the sidewalk, here on 15th Ave. These robins are often among the first songbirds singing as dawn rises (or hours before), and last as evening sets in.

Well, we are at 6 inches here in the city, says my unofficial snow meter (the railing alongside the deck at the back of the house).

It is great to be in a warm and cosy house, and to be able to just watch the local TV station’s coverage of the conditions outside, and of the streets. I did venture out on foot mid-morning, to take the obligatory few pictures of the snowy street corners in my neighborhood.

 

Friday/ here comes a lot more snow

We had another round of snow this afternoon (almost 3 inches), with more expected overnight.
Then there will be a break on Sunday, before the snowfalls resume on Sunday night. That’s good news for my travel plans, since I have a flight to South Africa* scheduled for Sunday!  I hope I will get to the airport and get out OK.
*With a stop and an overnight stay in Amsterdam.

A fresh white blanket on the ground and on the trees and rooftops: about 3 inches of snow by nightfall. I know it’s not much by East Coast & Midwest standards, but 6 inches of snow in one go is a lot for Seattle. So let’s say there is 6 inches by Sunday. Weather models show there might very well be another 6 in. coming down on Mon & Tue, for a total of 12 inches in the city. Yikes. That’s why there were reports of stampedes for foodstuffs (milk & bread) at grocery stores, and for rock salt at hardware stores, on Friday morning.

Wednesday/ friends at Old Stove Brewing Company

This picture is from Saturday, taken at Old Stove Brewing Company in Pike Place market. It was at an event celebrating the new SR-99 tunnel and the up- and-coming new Seattle Waterfront Park.

From left to right: Bryan, Gary, Steve, Willem & Ken. The picture was taken by Hello There You. They arranged us in front of a green screen, and the background was added in digitally. The accoutrements (red goggles, crown, crab claws, salmon) were on a table, and we each grabbed one. I grabbed the cute sea otter plush toy.

Tuesday/ sunny and chilly

The sun was out, with clear blue skies on Tuesday. We got above freezing by a few degrees: enough to start melting the snow.
There is another system on the way that will bring more snow on Friday, though!

The view out my front door this morning. Yes, the walkway does not clear itself: I had to get in there and shovel the snow out of the way. (Not that I receive a parade of visitors every day, but hey, at least now the mailman can make it to the mailbox by the front door).

Monday/ snow day .. brrr!

The snow kept sifting down through Sunday night, and by noon today, there was 4 inches of snow on the ground at my house.
North of the city, some places recorded 12 or 13 inches of snow.
It was cold today! Even the day temperatures only got to 29 °F/ -2°C.

As usual, I felt compelled to run out early in this morning to take a few pictures of the snow.  This is 6 am, looking north, while standing on the corner of Roy and 16th Avenue.
Here’s the early morning scene on 15th Avenue, with the snowflakes showing in the halo of the street light.

Saturday/ the new SR-99 tunnel

Washington’s new State Route 99 tunnel was officially opened by Governor Jay Inslee today at 11 am. Shortly after that, the public was allowed to walk through it. (Earlier in the morning there was a fun run through the tunnel).

The public was also allowed to bid a final farewell to the Alaskan Way Viaduct. After this weekend, its demolition will start in earnest.

Drone video from WA Dept. of Transportation, shot at about 8 am this morning when the fun run started. The entrance to the southbound deck where the runners are assembling is on top, and to its left and lower down, is the northbound deck. (Inside the tunnel the decks are stacked on top of each other).
The north entrance to the southbound deck. A Space Needle glimpse is visible at the top left, and the building with the yellow chimneys house the tunnel ventilation equipment.
Just getting started, so two miles (3.2 km) to go! The top of the tunnel is still flat here (the top part of the picture) – so this ‘cut and cover’ section was done without the tunnel boring machine’s excavation. A little further in, the rounded ceiling shows the tunnel boring machine was at work.
Every 600 ft (200m) or so, there are emergency exit doors that lead into an escape tunnel, that will allow people trapped in the main tunnel, to escape from hazardous conditions.
Here is a peek of the emergency escape tunnel that runs along the main tunnel. (I stuck my phone camera into a ventilation grill opening). Those cement rings with the round and triangular recesses for bolts, were laid down as the boring machine chewed its way through the earth to create the tunnel.
There is a gentle slope down, and then a slope up again to get out of the tunnel. The tunnel had to be deep enough in places to clear existing sewage tunnels and the light rail train tunnel. Here at its lowest elevation, the tunnel crown is at 95 ft (29 m) below sea level. A little further north, it is 215 ft (65 m) deep at its greatest depth below ground.
Alright! Ahead is the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. We’re about to exit on the south end by the sport stadiums. Those giant tubular fans are for creating a draft along the main tunnel when traffic is stuck inside (in a traffic jam). The fans are not needed when traffic is flowing and thereby creating a draft in the tunnel.
Looking back at downtown Seattle after we had walked underneath it. This is the exit of the southbound part of the tunnel.
Today a final opportunity was offered for the public to walk around on the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Its demolition will start in the next week or so. This is the view looking south from Pike Place market.
Goodbye Viaduct! ‘Hello Waterfront’, said a similar banner on the other side.
Here’s a final view of the Alaskan Viaduct structure from the Seneca Street exit.

Friday/ a lot of fluff

It’s February of 2019, and the cold in the Midwest is easing.
We’re about to get a spell of cold weather on Sunday and into Monday here in Seattle. We might even see snow on the ground in the city. It’s a good time of year to be a creature with a floofy, fluffy coat!

I found this cute picture on Twitter but did not make a note of the original source. The pups are Samoyeds: is a breed of large herding dog, from the spitz group, with a thick, white, double-layer coat. It takes its name from the Samoyedic peoples of Siberia. [From Wikipedia]. P.S. Was the fluffy cat supposed to be in the picture, or is it photobombing the picture? 🙂 And I don’t know what breed of cat it is.

Thursday/ don’t do it, Howard

Howard Schultz (65) was CEO of Starbucks from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017.

Howard Schultz, billionaire ex-CEO of Starbucks Coffee Co. has been making the rounds on morning shows and talk shows, announcing that he is thinking of entering the 2020 presidential race as a ‘centrist independent candidate’.

He is not off to a good start. Democrats fear he will draw away critical support needed to defeat Trump, from the Democratic candidate in a three-way race. Schultz also criticized liberal Democratic policy positions right out of the gate (healthcare for all, free college, more taxes on the rich).
Others say that a being a billionaire in the 2020 race is a non-starter – given how spectacularly out of touch the billionaire-in-chief in the White House and his billionaire Wall Street cronies are, with the plight of most Americans trying to make a living*.

*Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ‘just did not understand’ last week why federal employees missing two paychecks would visit food banks, when they could ‘simply take out loans to pay their bills during this time of a liquidity crisis’.

I found this somewhat bizarre Starbucks-themed objets d’art at the Starbucks Roastery here on Capitol Hill. The Starbucks mermaid with the Simpsons’ googly eyes can be had for $4,500, and the other two smaller ones are $476 each. (I like the coffee-drinking rabbit with the pig snout). ‘Celebrating the new Milano roastery’ says the sign in the front. OK .. but seems it would also be ideal for a billionaire coffee-lover wanting to celebrate the New Gilded Age we are said to be living in.

Wednesday/ Dick’s Drive-in turns 65

Local burger chain Dick’s Drive-in was founded in 1954.
This Tuesday, they celebrated their 65th anniversary by offering burgers at the ‘original price’ of  19 c.
The regular price today for a 1/8 pound burger, is $1.60.
That means average annual burger price inflation was about 3.4%* for the 65 year span from 1954 to 2019.

*Very close to the average of the annual Consumer Price Indexes (CPIs) published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics over the same period (3.5%).

I walked by Dick’s Drive-in on Broadway at about 5.20 pm tonight. (Temp. 49°F/ 9°C, so not bad, at all). Across the street on the left, is the Capitol Hill train station. Three new apartment buildings are under construction right next to the train station.
Billionaire Bill Gates (63) spotted at the Northeast 45th Street Dick’s in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, around 7 p.m. on a recent Sunday. “He ordered a cheeseburger, fries and Coke,” said Paul Rich that took the photo. Rich has been going to the beloved fast-food franchise every week or so for about five years. [Photo: Paul Rich]

Monday/ here comes the SR-99 tunnel opening!

The ‘Future’ is almost here. Here’s a before and after picture of the Viaduct and Tunnel. The tunnel is about 2 miles long.

The excitement is building: the State Route 99 tunnel is still on track to open to traffic next Monday Feb 4. This Saturday & Sunday, some 100,000 people are expected to take part in a fun run, a bike ride and a walk (that would be me), through the tunnel.

It’s been a long arduous time since Oct. 2011. That is when part of the south end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct was demolished to establish the south portal of the tunnel, and install the ‘Bertha’ tunnel borer.  Then there was the breakdown of Bertha in Dec. 2013, after just 1,000 ft of boring.  After all the setbacks, though, the cost overrun on a $3 billion project was only in the hundreds of millions. (These infrastructure projects are notorious for huge cost overruns. The Boston Big Dig started out as a $3 billion project, and ended up costing some $15 billion).

A ‘sad’ Bertha Tunnel Boring Machine depicted in a Bloomberg Business magazine article in March 2015, called ‘The Aggravating Adventures of a Gigantic Tunnel Drill’.
Here’s the view towards the south, of the south portal (entrance & exit) of the tunnel, near the sport stadiums south of downtown. The tunnel opening is at the dipping road surface in the middle right of the picture. The big white geofoam blocks on the left were taken out of that hollow just these last two weeks. I hope the workers get to the striping of the street surfaces in time! There is one more dry day in the weather forecast before the weekend.
The tunnel has two lanes in each direction, stacked on top of each other. The tunnel is built to modern earthquake standards. In the event of an emergency, exits every 650 ft provide shelter and escape routes, while a state-of-the-art ventilation system will assist first responders and mitigate smoke and fumes from fires. [Source: WSDOT]
Again a view looking south, of the north portal near Seattle Center. The tunnel will be free for the first few months, and then around July, toll fees of that range from $1 to $2.25 at rush hour, will be charged to drivers of cars.

Saturday/ the Pioneer Building

I posted about the Pioneer Building before, but today I could get a nice picture of the front side – with all the leaves on the trees gone.

Several months after the Great Seattle Fire leveled 32 blocks of downtown in 1889, Henry Yesler proceeded with the construction of the Pioneer Building. The newly constructed building quickly became an important business location for downtown Seattle. During the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897, there were 48 different mining companies that had offices in it. [Source: Wikipedia]
The totem pole in front of the building is part of the property’s entry into the National Register of Historic Places. This totem pole is a replica of an original pole carved around 1790 by the Tlingit indigenous people. (The original one was seriously damaged by an arsonist in 1938).