Tuesday/ a little bike ride

My friends and I celebrated the nice spring weather (70 °F/ 21 °C) with a little bike ride today.
Some restrictions on outdoor activities here in Washington State have also been lifted, as of today. Golf courses are now open, and some State parks for day use.

My get-up for the ride: shades & old camouflage-hat. There’s a black skull & crossbones printed on the side of the hat, signaling ‘Stay Away From Me, 6 feet!’. (And no, that’s not a wheelbarrow, it’s my Jump electric-assisted bicycle from Uber).
Arrived at the Seattle Waterfront, at Ivar’s ‘Acres of Clams’ seafood restaurant. The restaurant is still closed, of course, but we had fish & chips take-out for lunch.

Friday/ here’s May, as the pandemic churns

Welp. Washington State stays home for now, until May 31. Some restrictions are expected to be lifted by mid-May, though (go to Phase 2 of 4 phases).

Phase 2 allows –
• All outdoor recreation involving fewer than 5 people outside one’s household (camping, beaches, hiking trails and so on);
• Gather with no more than 5 people outside one’s household per week;
• Limited non-essential travel within proximity of one’s home;
• Non-essential businesses can open, such as manufacturing, construction, domestic services, in-store purchases allowed with restrictions, professional services (but teleworking is encouraged), hair and nail salons, restaurants < 50% capacity & table sizes < 5.

What should happen as States open up, is to go back to Square One.
Do lots of testing, especially of symptomatic people, and do contact tracing for persons testing positive.
It looks like testing remains an insurmountable challenge in America, though. The Senate will resume business in Washington DC this coming week .. but the Capitol Hill physician says there are not enough kits to test each Senator. How in the living daylights, in the month of May, is this possible?

Wednesday/ Earth Day turns 50

Happy Earth Day!  

Denis Hayes, who coordinated the first Earth Day 50 years ago, April 22, 1970, was a graduate student at Harvard at the time. These days he is president and C.E.O. of the Bullitt Foundation, wdenbis hayes hich funds environmental causes in Seattle. He is chairman emeritus of Earth Day 2020.

Hayes wrote in an essay in the Seattle Times, saying that ‘Covid-19 robbed us of Earth Day this year. So let’s make Election Day Earth Day.’ He wants his readers to participate in the ‘The Most Important Election of Your Lifetime’. ‘This November 3,’ he wrote, ‘vote for the Earth.’

More robin pictures. I took these on Sunday, and the tree is the Douglas fir in my backyard.

Tuesday/ two rabbits

I spotted two little rabbits here on 17th Ave tonight. Below is a picture of one of them.
Can rabbit populations grow exponentially, as well? Yes, sure can. A female rabbit can give birth to several litters in one year, with up to 12 baby rabbits per litter. Yikes.

Saturday/ a little rain

There was a little rain this morning — just a sprinkle.
This afternoon Mr Robin came by (American robin, Turdus migratorius). He sat still on the fence for just long enough so that I could snap him.


Thursday/ sunny and seventy

We have had an unusual stretch of sunny days. The daytime high reached 70 °F (21 °C) today, a first for the year.
I don’t wear a mask when I go for a walk. Maybe I should, to get used to having the thing on my face!

Artwork on East Olive Way. I love the old-fashioned diving helmet, and the colors that the artist had used.

Saturday/ the lemurs get a treat

Here are the ring-tailed lemurs at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, enjoying their Easter treats (strawberries .. and ‘Was that all?’ they seem to ask).

Lemurs are classified as neither monkeys, nor apes: they belong to a group called prosimian primates. Prosimians have moist noses, and rely on their sense of smell to determine what is safe to eat — and to distinguish between individuals in their social groups.

Ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at Woodland Park Zoo. Lemurs are native to Madagascar. [Picture by Woodland Park Zoo @woodlandparkzoo on Twitter].

Sunday/ trying to peer into the future

‘Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.’—Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher

To help keep my sense of time and seasons intact, I drew up a little timeline of the 9 months that still stretch ahead of Seattle and the world in 2020.
Major sport events in the world have now been cancelled through July (including Wimbledon tennis at the famous ‘All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club’, and the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics).

After that – well, we just don’t know right now.

Sure looks like it’s going to be remote learning for Seattle schools through June, and NO proms, NO high school graduation ceremonies. Confirmed: NO 2020 Opening Day for Seattle Yacht Club. I don’t think there will be a 2020 Seattle Pride Parade (late June), nor 4th of July fireworks gatherings. Seafair Weekend is the end of July .. not yet cancelled. Will kids go back to school on Sep. 2? Don’t know yet. The 2020 NFL season is slated to start Sept. 10, and insiders are said to be ‘skeptical’ of that start date. And by then Thanksgiving and Christmas loom.

Saturday Night Out: Cancelled

The streets were very quiet, late afternoon around Capitol Hill’s so-called Pike & Pine corridor — where all the bars and restaurants are. None of these establishments are open, of course.

Doors are closed; none of the usual crowding outside the Comet Tavern at 922 East Pike, and no cars on the streets.
The Oddfellows Café + Bar on 10th Ave in Capitol Hill, not only closed, but all boarded up, as for a hurricane.  ‘Can’t Wait to See You Again!’ and ‘Stand Six Steps Back And Promise You Love Me’, says the artwork on the boards. The Oddfellows Hall building was completed in 1908.

Friday/ tulips and the Dutch Golden Age

Tulips were coveted in the late 1500s in Europe, for their saturated, intense petal color — that no other cultivated plant had at the time.

At the height of Tulip Mania in the Dutch Golden Age (February of 1637),  tulip bulbs sold for some 10,000 guilders: enough money to buy a mansion on the Amsterdam Grand Canal.
The market for tulip bulbs collapsed soon after that.

There is no Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley north of Seattle this year, but a few can be seen here & there in gardens in my neighborhood. I found this beauty a block down from my house.

Friday/ sheltering in place

It has been beautiful outside this week, so I went for a few walks around the block a few times — but definitely avoiding people on the sidewalk. Yes, I’m steering clear of you. Don’t care if you are offended .. it’s good for both of us.

I find going to the grocery store harrowing*, and maybe I will get supplies for a whole month with my next trip.
Of course: I can always order from Amazon or even online, from the grocery store, as well.

*The last time I went, there was a woman with a persistent, bad cough in the store. So you absolutely had to come into the store? I thought.

It’s early days, but the number of positive tests on this dashboard from the University of Washington, looks promising. (The number of positive cases is stable and not increasing rapidly).

It’s only Wednesday

• WHO declares COVID-19 disease a pandemic (at last)
• Seattle district schools closed for two weeks, as are gatherings of 250+ people, or smaller – if people are going to be ‘packed in like sardines’
• Italy closed for business (except drug stores & grocery stores)
• Stock market falls further; Boeing stock slumps a stunning 18% just today
• NBA league games cancelled, nationwide
• St Patrick Day’s parades cancelled in Boston & NYC
• Crowds at political rallies cancelled
• Stock market falls further; Boeing stock slumps a stunning 18% just today
• Late Wednesday, Trump read something from the teleprompter in the Oval Office that bans foreigners arriving from Europe for 30 days, excluding the UK

My friends and I debated if we should go out for our Wednesday night beers. In the end we said: let’s go eat, drink and be merry.
Who knows what tomorrow, next week and next month will bring?

Tuesday/ numbers that grow exponentially

‘If you do the math, it gets very disturbing’, said Inslee. ‘In 7 to 8 weeks, there could be 64,000 people infected in the State of Washington if we don’t somehow slow down this epidemic. And the next week, it’s 120,000 — and the next week, it’d be a quarter of a million’.
– Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, Tue. Mar 10, 2020.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee will announce tomorrow that all gatherings of more than 250 people, are banned in the Seattle metro area. The current coronavirus numbers may seem small: a total of 267 infections in Washington State (24 deaths).

The trouble is —
1. the real number might be a lot bigger, and
2. if left unchecked, infected persons can each infect between 2 and 3 others, making for exponential growth in the number of infections.

Check out the graph below: my own rough calculation starting with the 267, and repeatedly multiplying by 2.5 each week.  We know know that an infected person will typically start to show symptoms some 5-6 days after exposure.

For this graph I assumed a starting number of 267, and that the number grows by 2.5x every week. It shows that 267 becomes 670 after a week, then 1,700. It takes a shockingly short time to get to 10,000 from there, and then only 3 weeks to 100,000+.

Monday/ ‘No Bears Allowed’

I walked by the newly completed The Point apartments at 1320 University Street in the First Hill neighborhood today.

‘No Bears Allowed’, says the website of their pet policy. May we add: no bears allowed into the US stock market, as well. (Dow Jones down 3.6% today).

The architect had to squeeze the building into a triangular ‘flatiron’ shape. Those apartments on the narrow end have a great 270° view onto the streets below. Upper floor residents should be able to see a lot of the First Hill and Seattle downtown surroundings.
A poured concrete beam at the base of the apartments. The building has 11 one bed-one bath apartments, and 6 two bed-two bath apartments. These apartments are pricey: a one bedroom goes for $2,550/ month.  In late January, the parliament of the Berlin city-state in Germany, approved a five-year freeze on rents and a price cap of €9.80 per square meter — or about $1 per square foot. Seattle’s metro area is way, way (2x, 3x) beyond that kind of rate with these new apartments that come online.

Sunday/ billionaires under siege

The US still has by far the most billionaires in the world (585, compared to China: 373, Germany: 123, Denmark: 6, South Africa: 6, if Elon Musk is counted in that 6).

So are billionaires to blame for income inequality? Are they, indirectly so? How does one stop a country’s economy from producing billionaires? (Probably something like a marginal tax rate of 90% above $5 million of annual income).

Anand Giridharadas (political commentator, TIME Editor at large), says this 2020 Presidential election in the United States will be a referendum on wealth and capitalism, that has gotten a little out of control/ completely out of control, in the United States of America.

My first reaction to the street sign graffiti sticker of Jeff Bezos (sticker from here in Capitol Hill in Seattle), asking ‘How many homeless people does it take to make a billionaire?’ (ugly Old English font, BTW) was .. um, that sounds like an extreme stretch of logic; a gross oversimplification of the problem of homelessness. But then I saw this statement made about San Francisco: “There are 101 homeless people per billionaire. The idea that such a problem could persist in a city with 74 billionaires is astonishing.” – Andrew Yang & Anand Giridharadas in a discussion posted by @UBI Rising on Twitter. They may have a point there.

Friday/ signs of spring

These little crocus flowers are harbingers of spring, now around the corner here in the North.

Crocus is a genus of flowering plants in the iris family of some 90 species. They grow out in early spring from corms: short, vertical, swollen underground plant stems, somewhat similar to bulbs.

Wednesday/ the Volunteer Park Water Tower

It was another beautiful day here in Seattle.
I wanted to get a clear view of Mt Rainier, and the observation deck of the Water Tower here in Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill was a good place to go to get that. And hey, no entry fee: it’s free of charge.

The Water Tower in Volunteer Park was built in 1906 and is 75 ft (23 m) tall.
A Maurits Escher-esque illusion: does this staircase inside the Tower go up, or down? (It goes down).
The observation deck inside allows for 360 degree views. The sun was low on the horizon right by the Space Needle, though, and so I will have to go back in the morning some time, to take a nice Space Needle picture.


Ta-da! The Mountain* is completely out, a cloudless blue sky above it.
*Mt Rainier, a Strato-volcano mountain in the Cascade Range | Elevation 14,411 ft (4,392 m) | Last eruption: 1894.
This is the entrance/ exit facing Prospect St. MCMVI, says the Roman numerals: 1906. The brown signpost on the right says ‘Climbing Prohibited’. So that must mean that rock climbers have tried to scale the uneven outer brick wall with its toeholds and finger holds!

Tuesday/ lots of sunshine

There was sun and blue sky all day here in the Emerald City.
Even so, it was only 47 °F (8° C).

As I walked down to the Capitol Hill Library today, though, bright sunlight would bounce off windows from the buildings nearby and onto me, and I instantly felt the radiated heat on my face.

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope has produced the highest resolution image of the sun’s surface ever taken. In this picture, taken at 789 nanometers (nm) wavelength, we can see features as small as 30 km (18 mi) in size for the first time ever. The image shows a pattern of turbulent, “boiling” gas that covers the entire sun. The cell-like structures — each about the size of Texas — are the signature of violent motions that transport heat from the inside of the sun to its surface. Hot solar material (plasma) rises in the bright centers of “cells,” cools off and then sinks below the surface in dark lanes in a process known as convection. In these dark lanes we can also see the tiny, bright markers of magnetic fields. Never before seen to this clarity, these bright specks are thought to channel energy up into the outer layers of the solar atmosphere called the corona. These bright spots may be at the core of why the solar corona is more than a million degrees. [Photograph: Highest resolution photo of Sun (NSF) as of January 20, 2020 NSO/AURA/NSF]

Monday/ Bernie in Washington State

I followed some of Bernie Sanders’s stump speech that he gave in the Tacoma Dome tonight. A seasoned campaigner, he has it down pat, of course: denouncing income and wealth inequality, the corporate owners of the media, and advocating for free healthcare, college education, and so on. 

‘And by now, the Democratic establishment should be getting nervous as well’, he also said. (I think they are very nervous. I like most of what he says, but I’m kind of nervous as well). As he left the stage, Neil Young’s ‘Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World (1989)‘ played.

The Wikipedia entry for the song explains its background: ‘The lyrics negatively reference the George H. W. Bush administration, then in its first month, quoting Bush’s famous ‘thousand points of light’ remark from his 1989 inaugural address and his 1988 presidential campaign promise for America to become a ‘kinder, gentler nation.’ The song also refers to Ayatollah Khomeini’s proclamation that the United States was the ‘Great Satan’ and Jesse Jackson’s 1988 campaign slogan, ‘Keep hope alive’. The song was first performed live on February 21, 1989, in Seattle with The Restless, without the band having rehearsed it’.