Tuesday/ the Ballard locks

I went to dinner tonight with my friends Bill and Dave in Ballard northwest of the city.  Afterwards we went to the ‘Locks’, marked A on the map.  The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (also called the Ballard locks) are a complex of locks that sit at the west end of Salmon Bay, part of Seattle’s Lake Washington Ship Canal.

The locks and associated facilities serve three purposes –
* To maintain the water level of the fresh water Lake Washington and Lake Union at 20–22 feet above sea level (Puget Sound’s mean low tide).
* To prevent the mixing of sea water from Puget Sound with the fresh water of the lakes (saltwater intrusion).
* To move boats from the water level of the lakes to the water level of Puget Sound, and vice versa.

The first picture shows the canal with a sailboat lifted almost to the fresh water level (there is one set of locks for small vessels, and another for large ones), the second picture is the view out to the lakes.  The third picture from Wikipedia shows a ship going out from the freshwater lakes to Puget Sound.  The final picture shows some artwork right there.  I will have to go back on a sunny day and take better pictures but it’s a little late.  (Aw).  The salmon has made their run through the ladders at the Locks, the boat traffic is now winding down, and winter is slowly approaching.

Saturday in Seattle

I was on a sunset walk-about last night and this is at the top of Capitol Hill looking west from 14th Ave.   I was trying to take a peek-a-boo picture of the Space Needle (see it in the distance?), but I had a wide-angle instead of a zoom lens on my camera.    Then this vintage car pulled up next to me, and it just sat there.   What is going on? I wondered, then noticed that the driver had his little digital camera perched on the steering wheel, also taking a picture.   And so the 1957 Chevrolet Belair Nomad (I think that’s the model of the car) upstaged the Space Needle and became the topic of the picture instead : ).

The TV snap shot from this morning shows a much nicer view of the Needle .. and a temperature of 56° F (13° C).  So it looks like summer is on its way out.  (I promise not to make a habit of taking pictures of the TV.  I sometimes take pictures of billboards in Hong Kong and my colleagues with me would say ‘You’re taking a picture of a picture’.  And I would say ‘So?’).

Thursday/ you can still get your Starbucks

.. on Olive Way, that is.    The Starbucks coffee shop is being remodeled (it looked perfectly fine inside to me – it’s the wooden structure to the left of the van in the background), and now they are serving coffee from a Starbucks van.    It was getting dark and the van was closing down by the time I got there to take the picture so the van was closing up shop.   First time I have seen a Starbucks van, though.   And check out the makeshift deck in the foreground where you can sit and have your coffee while you watch the world go by!   : )

Tuesday night/ more of Capitol Hill

Pictures from tonight’s walkabout .. a black kitty kat that must have stepped in white paint : ),  an update on the artwork on John and 11th, want to join the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA? Sign up! and the neon sign on the Broadway Rite Aid pharmacy.

I have to get up early to go to the office for a long day of training.

Monday/ new Capitol Hill light rail station

Here are some pictures from the Capitol Hill light rail station that is under construction.  I took it on my Sunday afternoon stroll in my neighborhood. The artwork was commissionedby Sound Transit and the artist is Baso Fibonacci (is he also a mathematician?*).  There’s the Ethiopian Restaurant that I have never been to (time to go?), a picture of the red fence around the construction and a peek inside.   A loong way to go still.

*The famous Fibonacci numbers are 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233 .. see how it works? Start with 0 and 1, and add the two previous numbers to get the next one.   The higher up in the sequence, the closer two consecutive Fibonacci numbers of the sequence divided by each other will approach the golden ratio (approximately 1 : 1.618 or 0.618 : 1).

Saturday/ vote by mail

My ballot arrived in the mail today.  Yes, we love to have elections!  And so in the states the primaries for the 2010 Mid-term Elections (middle of the president’s term) have already started – essentially narrowing down the candidates for November.

In Washington State we can now vote for both Democrats and Republicans regardless of our registered party.  I see in the voters’ pamphlet the candidates now coyly say prefers Democratic Party or prefers Republican Party instead of stating their affiliation outright.  (I’d love to play with words and say I prefer to not to vote for Republicans, but that is not true.  I absolutely will not.)

The Seattle Weekly reports that two Propositions will make the ballot as well : related to whether the State should give up its control over selling liquor.  (Currently hard liquor can only be bought at state-owned stores.  Beer and wine one can buy at the grocery store).   Oh boy.  Leave well enough alone.  It’s the big grocery store Costco that’s trying to wrest the booze business away from the state.

Friday/ ladybug

We are lucky not to have to deal with many bugs in Seattle.  Here’s one I caught in my so-called garden yesterday, though.   I don’t have a close-up lens for my camera so it was hard to take a sharp picture of the tiny bug.   Ladybugs belong to Coccinellidae, a family of beetles.   In other parts of the world they are called ladybirds and in Afrikaans they go by liewenheersbesie which more or less translates back into English as ‘the dear lord’s little bug’.   There you have it.

Wednesday/ wow, the milk man

I looked out my window on the front of the house to see what was making a noise (it was a generator used across the street for painting or cleaning a house outside). Then I spotted this truck in the street.  Grabbed my camera just in time to snap the milk man jumping back into his white-and-black cow truck (and of course it would be a cow truck! we expect it to be a cow truck! – right? : ).    But I really did not know milk is still available for delivery this way.

Their web site is www.smithbrothersfarms.com

(Yes, the sidewalk lawn in front of my house is dried out, the way it usually is in summer.   I don’t have a sprinkler system like my neighbor on the right!  And I am not home every week to water it!)

Tuesday/ downtown Seattle

I made the second of my three trips to the passport office and took a few pictures of the buildings downtown.  The picture shows the region’s tallest building, the Columbia Center, in the middle ‘below’ the street lamp.  It has 76 stories and is almost 1,000 ft tall .. and is reportedly 40% empty.  Which is actually a lot better than some condo buildings downtown.

From The Stranger, a Seattle alternative weekly newspaper :

In March, the present owners of the Columbia Center tower, a Boston-based group called the Beacon Capital Partners, decided not to fork over its $1.6 million mortgage payment. This rattled not only downtown Seattle but the whole commercial real-estate market…  For the Columbia Center all the trouble began in 2007, the year the future refused to reveal anything to developers and financiers but a golden escalator to a brilliant cloud of profits. Beacon Capital bought the building for an astounding 621 million bucks—more than triple what it cost developer Martin Selig to build the tower two decades before. The purchase was a part of the group’s money-mad, frenzied, intoxicated spending spree of glamorous office properties in Seattle and Bellevue. The region had never seen anything like it. Millions upon millions were poured into amazed pockets.

Looking back, we now wonder how in the world anyone (and particularly those in the business of making loads of money) had such blind faith in an economy that was to crash only the following year. How could these professionals miss the signs? These same men and women bought the Columbia Center with the complete belief that today, in 2010, there would be even more money to be made than in 2007, the year the stock market passed the dizzying 14,000 mark. A year after the economy collapsed, the mighty Columbia Center has instead lost roughly 40 percent of its value, and the income from the building is now “less than needed to service its debt” (Puget Sound Business Journal, March 24).

Saturday/ the State Route 520 bridge

Here is a picture from late Saturday afternoon, driving due west across Lake Washington on the State Route 520 Floating Bridge  into the sun.   It was a beautiful day, with blue sky and 83 F (28 C) temperatures.    (Yes, yes – I shouldn’t take pictures while driving with my cell phone, and I really do NOT touch my phone as a rule while driving).

I’m on the far left in this panoramic picture from Wikipedia (search for Evergreen Point Floating Bridge).  In 1989, an electrical fault caused the draw span to open during rush hour, causing one death and five injuries. In 2000, a gravel barge struck the bridge, closing it for eleven days and causing $500,000 worth of damage.  The bridge is actually nearing the end of its useful life and is scheduled for replacement by 2014 after a lot of political wrangling over how to go about it, and Microsoft weighing in as well.   (The Microsoft campus is on the east side of the bridge in a town called Redmond).