Monday/ yes, log as a workout

I walked down to the Capitol Hill library just before sunset today. (At 4.30 pm, the gray sky promptly turned pitch black).

On the way back, my Apple Watch buzzed on my wrist with the ‘It looks like you’re working out’ message (offering to record it).
A few minutes later at home, I found this cartoon in The New Yorker magazine that I had taken out at the library. 🤗

Published in The New Yorker magazine of Oct. 10, 2022. The cartoonist is Emily Flake.

Friday/ a scenic train ride  🛤

The obligatory pre-departure photo, on the platform at Cairns Station.
These are the cheap seats (our seats) in what is called a ‘Heritage’ car. The ‘Gold’ cars have lounge-style seating. This car was built in 1944, said a plaque by the door.
On the way to the stop at Freshwater Station. It’s sugar cane country around Cairns.
There are 15 tunnels on the way to Kuranda. Construction of the track was completed in 1891. At one point some 1,500 men, of Irish and Italian descent, was at work on the track.
I was just lucky to get this shot of a creek running down on a steep cliff-side. The foliage is dense alongside a lot of the track on the hillside.
This is Kuranda Station. The village of Kuranda and the tourist attractions (markets, bird world, koala sanctuary) are reached by walking up a few sets of stairs.
We stopped at Barron Falls Station on the way in, and this is the picture from the way back. Barron Falls is on the Barron River, of course.
These platforms are for maintenance crews, and not for passengers.
The tight four chain (80.46 m radius) turn at Stony Creek Falls and Stony Creek Bridge allows a full view of the train. At the front are two Co-Co Diesel Electric 1720 Class locomotives, each putting out 1,000 hp (745 kw). There are 14 cars.

We took the scenic train ride from Cairns to Kuranda village today.


Sunday/ Queen Street Mall

I took the No 120 bus to the bus terminal under the Queen Street Mall in downtown Brisbane today.

The Queen Street bus terminal is reached by tunnels under the Queen Street Mall. It’s best to check with Google Maps to make sure you wait at the right place! (and Google’s Platform 1-E is the same as Platform 1e on the signs).
There was a flea market on Brisbane Square today. That’s the Treasury Casino and Hotel Brisbane in the distance.
The art deco façade of the 1929 York Hotel was preserved when the Myer Centre at the Queen Street Mall was constructed in 1982.
Another building, that of the Hotel Carlton (constructed 1891), was preserved, along with its beautiful wrought iron railings.
These kangaroos are at the corner of Queen Street and George Street.
Walking along George Street, and looking up at the W Hotel (front, opened in 2018) and The One condo tower (at the back, opened this year).
Looking out from the entrance at the Brisbane Magistrate offices off George Street.
The aluminum and concrete artwork was installed in 2009 and the artist is Daniel Templeman.
The McDonnell & East Ltd Building at 414 George Street is a former department store, and now a heritage-listed building. It was designed by Thomas Ramsay Hall and built from 1912 to 1928 by Andrew Gillespie.
Here’s the Albert Street Uniting Church, holding its own against its concrete and steel neighbors. It was designed by George Addison and built in  1888-89 by Thomas Pearson & Sons.
A pair of kangaroos on King George Square. Mama kangaroo has a joey in her pouch (a baby kangaroo is called a joey). 
Here’s Brisbane City Hall, inaugurated in 1930. The building design is based on a combination of the Roman Pantheon, and St Mark’s Campanile in Venice— and is considered one of Brisbane’s finest buildings.
I made my way back to the Queen Street Mall, standing under a large steel and glass canopy and contemplating if the two colors on the historic old building complement each other well enough.
Here’s a Tesla Model 3 slipping into a parking garage nearby.
I thought BUZINGA might be Australian for Yowza! or something like that. All that a Google search revealed is that Buzinga is a cutting-edge software company in Melbourne.
Here’s a classic Queen Victoria statue, this one keeping watch over the grounds of the Queens Gardens Park. Victoria’s reign of 63 yrs (1837 -1901) has been eclipsed only by the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Taking a closer look at the Queens Wharf Tower construction project nearby, at 1 William Street. It is scheduled to open in 2023. 

Friday/ bridging the gap

If you’re going to fly on long-haul international flights again after Covid (and I will, soon), you’re going to need noise-canceling headphones for your phone or tablet.

I ditched my last device that still had a headphone jack, last year —a very old iPad— which left my wired Bose headphones stranded, disconnected. Apple has fancy new wireless noise-canceling AirPods out, but why spend $275* if you still have perfectly fine headphones?

*That’s including sales tax. The over-the-ear noise-canceling wireless Apple AirPods Max come to $600. I will only buy a pair of those ‘when my ship has come in’, as they say.

Here is what I went with instead:

The USB-C to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter will have to do it for now ($8 on Amazon). Eventually I might upgrade my noise-canceling headphones to wireless ones. Headphones like these last a very, very long time if you take good care of them.

Monday/ what time is it? it is party time ⌚

Apple’s iOS 16 and watchOS 9 were released today, and I updated my iPhone and my watch.

I picked Apple’s Astronomy | Earth Detail dynamic lock screen that uses one’s location and the time of day to generate the image of Earth. I added widgets for temperature, calendar and Cape Town time (below the time).
The playful ‘marshmallow’ digit characters of the new ‘Playtime‘ watch face float around and float on and off the screen as the time changes (the time it shows is 8:20; presumably the wearer of the watch knows it is morning, afternoon, evening, or night time since there is no 24 hour display option).

Sunday/ a seaplane crash

It was a gray Sunday— no sun— and terrible news broke later in the day, of a seaplane crash in Puget Sound.

The plane was a De Havilland DHC-3 Otter with 10 people onboard, nine adults and one child. The US Coast Guard said the plane was traveling from Friday Harbor to Renton Municipal Airport when it crashed into the waters of Mutiny Bay.

The crash was reported at 3:11 p.m. One body had been recovered and nine people were still missing as of around 9 p.m. The cause of the crash is still unknown.

Update Mon 9/5:
The Coast Guard recovered several large pieces of aluminum and smaller pieces of debris smelling of fuel, but “very little” of the actual plane had been found as of midday Monday, said Scott Giard, search and rescue program director for the Coast Guard in the Pacific Northwest region.
Both the Coast Guard and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife sent divers to the island, and the Coast Guard will use an underwater drone to try to find the wreckage and come up with a plan to retrieve any remains from the fuselage.
Officials believe the wreckage is on the seafloor, which is between 150 and 200 feet deep in that area. – from the Seattle Times

Update Thu 9/29:
The wreckage of the floatplane was found on 9/12, on the seafloor. Today, some 80% of the wreckage was recovered off Whidbey Island, as well as an undisclosed number of bodies of the 10 victims. Crews began recovering pieces of the wreckage on Tuesday, and recovery is expected to last several more days.

The seaplane crashed in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, on the way to Renton Municipal Airport. Witnesses on the shore saw the plane descend rapidly, and hit the water.

The De Havilland Canada DHC-3 “Otter” is a single-engine, high-wing, short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft.
[Diagram from]
De Havilland Canada DHC-3 “Otter” (CF-ODU) on display (9/16/2003) at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada.
[Photo by John Shupek copyright © 2003 Skytamer Images]

Tuesday/ Jupiter’s auroras

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s a time to change, hey
Since the return of her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey
Hey, hey-yeah

But tell me, did you sail across the sun?
Did you make it to the Milky Way
To see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated?
And tell me, did you fall from a shooting star?
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were
Looking for yourself out there?

-Lyrics from ‘Drops of Jupiter'(2001) by Train

I am trying out the new James Webb telescope of Jupiter and its auroras as wallpaper for my phone.

Webb NIRCam composite image of Jupiter from two filters – F212N (orange) and F335M (cyan).
[Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, Jupiter ERS Team; image processing by Ricardo Hueso (UPV/EHU) and Judy Schmidt].

Sunday/ the Blue Angels

I ran outside a few times today to catch a glimpse of the Blue Angels performing for the 2022 Seafair Festival.
It was toasty today— 90 °F (32 °C)— but it will cool down by Tuesday.

Mount Rainier provides a fleeting backdrop for the six F/A-18F Super Hornets that fly in formation over Lake Washington.  The Blue Angels are based at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.
These aircraft are 25% larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet models.
[Still image from online video by King5 TV]

Tuesday/ red 🔴 and blue 🔵

There was a red Ford Mustang Mach-E on 15th Avenue at the No 10 bus stop, and then a blue one as I stepped off the bus in downtown.

These new electric vehicles are in their second model year, but Ford’s 2022 inventory has all been sold out.
The Mach-E is considered a crossover SUV.
Car and Driver (magazine) writes very highly of the Mach-E, but notes that it is ‘not as fun to drive as a real* Mustang’ and has uneven ride quality.

*An interesting use of the word real.

Saturday/ peering into deep space

Here’s a diagram that shows the radiation that the very cool, very cold mirrors and lenses of the James Webb Telescope collect.
The James Webb telescope collects mostly infrared radiation with some from the visible spectrum vs. visible spectrum only, for Hubble.

Sunday/ look, a Polestar

It rained a little bit today, enough to make the streets and sidewalks wet, but not much more.
I found this Polestar (plug-in electric car) here on 15th Avenue.

Polestar 2 is made by Volvo, and it competes with the Tesla Model 3. They are still a very rare sight on the streets here in Seattle, though. The styling is somewhat plain/ conventional, maybe, but hey: the car does not look like an angry lizard.
This is the Long Range Dual Motor AWD model with a range of 260 miles and 300 kW of power. Pricing starts at $48,000, one would probably end up at $53,000 or so. The white color is called Snow and the 19″ alloy wheels are standard.

Wednesday/ still going up⛽

Gas prices in Seattle still sit just below $5/ gallon, but around the rest of the country it has gone up steadily.
The national average is now $4.95.
Analysts say $6 gas by August is not out of the question.

A big constraint is refining capacity .. and now that hurricane season has started, it would be really bad if a hurricane disables the output of a large refinery for some time.

Refineries turn crude oil into a variety of petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, propane and butane. The largest refineries in the US sit on the Gulf of Mexico, smack bang in hurricane territory.
We have refineries in Washington State as well (two in Anacortes, and in Blaine, Ferndale and Tacoma) but they have 1/10 to 1/5 of the capacity of the largest ones on the Gulf Coast.
[Infographic from]

Monday/ a new chapter for Twitter

Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter sent shockwaves through the Twitterverse and beyond.

Co-founder Jack Dorsey professes to be very happy, though. From the tweets below: ‘It (Twitter) wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company’. It’s a statement that sounds stunningly naive to me⁠— given all the evil in the world that social media had been exploited for.

Prof. Scott Galloway is a clinical professor of marketing at the New York University Stern School of Business says on Twitter this is a lot of yogababble : nonsensical or esoteric thinking (unconventional; understood only by a chosen group). I agree.
And then there’s technobabble in here as well. What precisely does ‘protocol level’ mean? Application layer? Transport layer? Network layer? The internet protocol?
Twitter was founded 16 years ago, in March of 2006. As a social media company it has not enjoyed nearly the same success as Facebook (one tenth the valuation of FB, the value of which is down by 50% the last 6 months, to some $500 billion).
Bloomberg Businessweek noted in 2012 with this cover that the company had survived in spite of its efforts to ‘kill itself’. Nine years later, the board of directors finally killed off Twitter the public company by selling it to a billionaire.

Tuesday/ inside Denny substation

I forgot to post this picture on Sunday. It’s a peek at the inside of Seattle City Light’s Denny Substation (through a clear glass panel in the stainless steel perimeter wall that runs along Denny Way). It’s clean and tidy inside.

The former Greyhound bus garage that had been here is now long gone (demolished 2012-14). This substation was completed in 2018, the first new substation built by Seattle City Light in 30 years at a cost of $210m. It has lots of capacity for future expansion.

Friday/ adventures in video editing

I am using Adobe Premiere Elements*, to cut up and make .mp4 files of the enormous .VOB files of digitized film & analog video footage that I have, of old family trips. The recordings were shot on film and analog camcorder in the ’70s to early ’90s. My dad had done the digitization many years ago.
I keep the clip lengths to 2-3 minutes.

*Video editing software; the bare-bones basic version of Adobe Premiere Pro.

I have three layers of still picture/video and five layers of audio available to work with. That’s a lot.
I have a digital scalpel that I can use to look at, and slice in, between two video frames or a split-second of sound (down to 1/30 of a second).
I can add in titles, and fix the worst quality defects of the video (such as enlarging the projected image slightly, to erase its black border; or adjusting overall lighting & color hue).

The dreaded Adobe .PREL (for ‘preliminary’, I think) files take a long time to load and render, even with my brand-new PC with 16Gb of memory and unlimited hard disk space (6 Tb).
The automatic save every 10 mins stopped me dead in my tracks for 2 mins at a time. I changed it to 20 mins.  (Cancel it, and you risk losing a lot of work).
DO NOT mess around with moving files or renaming them. Adobe does not like that, and will give you a ‘Media Pending’ message or black screen, the next time you pull up your .PREL file.

Here are a few stills from a 3 minute clip of scenes at Victoria Falls, 1975 in then-Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

I created a title screen with a Google Earth still image of the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls, and then the text scrolls in from left to right, and scrolls off after 5 seconds.
I created just one more slide to set the stage. I combined a still photo with an Adobe Title Page (the white text). It stays in place for 8 seconds (lots of text to read) and then the video moves on to the real footage I had to work with, from 1975. (Oops .. 108 should be 108 m. Will fix it).
ALL RIGHT .. that’s the 1975 version of me, in the blue shirt. Brother Chris in front of me with the red and black shirt. We were boarding the sight-seeing boat that cruises the Zambezi river upstream of the falls. There is audio now, circa 1995: a discussion among my family (with me included; my voice sounds weird, the way it always does, of course) of our memories of the trip. This conversation was captured during the projection of the 8mm film on a white screen, in order to capture the footage with a VHS machine on magnetic tape, with the audio.
We are on the Zambezi river, and the voice-over conversation is speculating what would have happened if the engine of the boat had stopped at that time, with the falls just 1/2 a mile away downstream. Cool sightseeing airplane comes over. It flies a little too low, maybe?
We had stopped at an island in the Zambezi for tea and biscuits. These monkeys would sneak up to an unsuspecting homo sapiens holding a biscuit, grab it, and make off into the trees. I added the text caption as a scroll-in. I picked a large, clear, light font that is should be easily readable to the viewer, without obscuring anything in the picture too much.
On to the Falls itself. There is continued voice-over from the family discussion. It is all in Afrikaans, so I am trying to be helpful with an annotation here and there, that scrolls in, sticks around for a few seconds, and scrolls out of the frame.  Be careful not to overdo the add-ons, with the arsenal of editing tools at your disposal, I told myself.
Victoria Bridge. The gorges are the zig-zag cuts that the river’s flow had made in the bedrock over the ages.
Final scene, all of three minutes in. I ended it with the Adobe ‘Dip to Black’ scene transition, to black out the frame, indicating that it’s the end of this video clip.
I forgot to mention that I had added an ‘Adjustment Layer’ overlay to the entire clip to lighten up the footage a little bit; it was too dark. I might have overdone the lightening .. will take on more look before I render the clip and export it to .mp4 format from this .PREL format.

Friday/ another software update

Another software update for my car came through tonight.
I can drive my car, but just around the neighborhood.
No freeway driving or long distances until my arm & wrist is out of the cast.

Every time I see ‘Release Notes’ like here on my car’s display screen, I think of the Release Notes for the SAP enterprise software system that I had worked with for so long.
I can now change the color of the car icon on this screen to anything I want (a trivial update, and I guess I could pick black or white or gold .. but why would I?). Other updates are much more practical: regenerative braking will now activate at lower speeds, making for a more consistent driving experience.

Thursday/ a bridge too far?

The City of Rotterdam’s plans to dismantle the middle part of the historic railway bridge De Hef (‘The Lever’) later this year, to allow Jeff Bezos’s new superyacht* to pass under, is not sitting well with everyone (of course not).

The deck of the bridge can be lifted 130 ft, but that will not suffice for the tallest of the yacht’s three masts.

Bezos will reportedly pay for the dismantling and reassembly of the bridge deck. So what is the problem? 🙂

*A three-masted schooner made of aluminum and steel, the $ 500-million, 417-feet Oceanco Y721 yacht will be the largest sailing yacht in the world when completed.

My photo from the Euromast Tower in Rotterdam, taken in Feb. 2019 in the ‘Before Times’. I was paying much more attention to the Erasmus Bridge (‘The Swan’) and my namesake bridge Willemsbrug* (‘Willem’s Bridge’), but I see I did catch a far-away glimpse of the historic 1927 De Hef/ Koningshavenbrug (‘King’s Harbor Bridge’) in my photo.

Saturday/ snow galore in Boston

Wow .. two feet of snow in Boston.
Here’s a snowy picture for Caturday (not from Boston).

This picture is from Dec 31, from Aaron Taylor @Tippen22 on Twitter. As far as I can tell he lives in central Alberta, Canada.
Says he: ‘Starlink works great until the cats found out that the dish gives off a little heat on cold days .. they have a heated cat house, with water and food, but -25°C and they decide to sit on the Starlink dish. When the sun goes down, they head back to their house.’
(The Starlink dish still works with the all the fur on; it’s just a little slower). Someone else replied ‘Looks like the dish can handle CAT5 but not CAT6’. (CAT5 and CAT6 are standards for twisted pair cables for computer networks).