Hey! Oktoberfest is back.
The festivities kick off officially on the second to last Saturday in September at noon when the mayor of Munich taps the first barrel at the Schottenhamel Tent, crying O’zapft is!*
*Bavarian dialect for “Es ist angezapft” – literally meaning ‘It has been tapped’.
Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre historic and urban, cultural park in San Diego.
The park was originally called ‘City Park’, but was renamed after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, in honor of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, held in the park that year.
The architecture of the buildings in Balboa Park are a mix of Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial Revival style.
This morning’s surf report for Cardiff State Beach near Encinitas, at 8.35 am : gentle (1-2 feet) with onshore wind, 9 mph.
There are a few surfers in the water already (to the far left).
The little marine layer of cloud will soon be gone, but the highs were to get to oh, a pleasant 78 °F (26 °C).
The little low wall is to keep the high tide from reaching to bottom of the stairs to the lifeguard shack.
I was at Seattle-Tacoma airport today for the first time in almost three years— to fly out to visit my brother in San Diego.
It seemed to me that 1 in 10 travelers at the airport was wearing a mask. (I was one. Yes, I have had COVID, but I am trying hard not to get it again). My seat was all the way in front, and I could board in the first group, but I waited for almost everyone to board before I stepped on board.
We took off from the longest of the three parallel runways at Sea-Tac airport (16R/34L), in a northerly direction, and then our Boeing 737-900 bird made a sweeping turn over West Seattle to fly down south along the Pacific Coast.
The flight went without incident, but at our arrival at San Diego at 1.15 p.m. or so, we were held at the gate for 30 minutes before we could enter the terminal just as it was being cleared out completely. (Lots of people— thousands of people).
It was later reported that around 12:25 p.m. a traveler had taken a carry-on that had been identified for additional screening and walked away with it. When TSA officers couldn’t find him they decided to clear passengers out of Terminal 2 West & East.
Luckily, I could still get my checked bag from the carousel, and vamoose.
I am sure many hundreds of people missed their connections.
As I left the airport building, the line of people waiting to get back in, and of those that had just arrived to go somewhere, stretched as far as the eye could see, and then even further.
There is tennis in Miami this week: the annual Miami Open, a tournament that I attended in person in 1990, during my maiden visit to the United States.
Up-and-coming superstar from Spain, Carlos Alcaraz (18), ousted Stefanos Tsitsipas (23) in spectacular fashion on Tuesday. Alcaraz will face Miomir Kecmanović (22) from Serbia for a place in the semi-final.
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.
ON THE PLUS SIDE:
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).
IN THE MINUS COLUMN:
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).
The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/ national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.
– Inscription on page 2 of the US passport, below a depiction of The Great Seal of the United States (the bald eagle that clutches the Olive branch and the arrows that denote the power of peace & war which is exclusively vested in Congress).
My new passport arrived today.
The entire picture page is a sturdy plastic (polycarbonate), like a thin credit card (shown below).
There is an embedded data chip on the information page.
The alphanumeric passport number is laser cut as perforated holes, that get smaller all through the 26 pages of the passport book.
Other security features include a watermark, ‘tactile features’ and ‘optically variable’ inks.
[Note: I realize this is a first world problem: waiting a little ‘too long’ in a store to pay, or for a service that is rendered].
It is time to renew my passport, and I needed passport photos. (I had tried to snap & print them at home a previous time, but it’s not that easy.) So off to Walgreens two blocks from my house I went. A mom and her teenage son were being helped at the photo kiosk. The attendant had his back turned to me, and took so long at the ATM-style screen & photo printer that I pressed the button on the desk nonetheless, just to announce: ‘Hey, just so you know: you have another customer’.
Didn’t matter. By the time he had the teenager pose a fourth time in front of the white screen, a third person seeking passport photos had shown up. Two more people had been waiting a long while at the kiosk’s desk to pick up copies and photos. The copies had been made wrong, and the photographer says he will shred them and redo them ..
An aeon had passed and now it was my turn.
I march up to the white screen. Yank off my N95 mask. Give the camera a withering look. ‘Step forward’, is all the photographer offers —no ‘Thanks for your patience’ or ‘Relax a little’ or ‘Maybe fix your hair’. Snap. He looks at the photo on the printer’s screen, asks ‘Do you want to take a look and try another one?’. ‘NO!‘ I say. ‘Please print the picture and let me pay’.
Outside the store I kick at a piece of trash on the sidewalk. I knew I was scowling on the picture, and looking at it at home, proved me right. 🙂
If you’re going, go to Tacoma today, boyo, I told myself this morning. Tomorrow will see bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 5 for Thanksgiving (on Thursday).
And so off I went. I know of second-hand record stores on 6th Avenue, and mural artwork in the alleys there, and that’s where I stopped to spend a little time.
My car needed a wash, and off I went tonight, to Uncle Ike’s on 23rd Avenue. (Uncle Ike’s Car Wash, that is— not the Uncle Ike’s pot shop that is right next door).
I do a pre-rinse, put soap on, wash the car & wheel caps by hand with a big mitt, and then rinse everything off.
I dry it all by hand. There is a new blow-dryer gun right there for use in the wash bay, and I might try that next time. Hopefully it won’t fry the paint. Yikes. That will be bad.
Time in the wash bay is money, though. I spent $12 on the wash cycle tonight, a little more than usual. I also forgot to put the car in wash mode before I started washing (it gets the windshield wipers out of the way).
I have a pair of photos from May of 2000, taken when I had made the trip up from Houston to Seattle in my 1996 Toyota Camry.
I had long wondered at which rest area the one picture is taken, and now I know.
Here is how it went.
Today marked the opening of the 4.3-mile extension of the Seattle area’s Link light rail system towards the north, with three new stations: U District, Roosevelt and Northgate. These are the final stations in the system that was proposed to voters in 1996. So it took twenty-five years to get it all planned and built, a lot longer and much more expensive than planned, but it’s here at last. The price tag for this last phase was $1.9 billion.
Central Line is now called Line 1 with its 19 stations. Line 2 to Bellevue is under construction and will open in two years in 2023.
It was time for the Will-o-Watt Wagon (my car’s name on the Tesla app) to get out of the city and take the long road for a trip to Ellensburg today.
I used my car’s standard Autopilot functions extensively for the first time, on today’s drive. Standard Autopilot means letting the car steer, accelerate, and brake within its lane. It was a good learning experience —and definitely a little hair-raising at times, such as trusting the car to stay in the lane on a curve in the road, with vehicles in the lanes next to you, and oncoming traffic as well.
The primary skill to master with standard Autopilot is to allow the car to steer itself, while still having one’s hands on the wheel. If the driver holds the wheel too firmly, the car interprets it as an override, and cancels the Autopilot steering. If, on the other hand, the car cannot detect that the driver is holding the wheel, it issues a message— a series of messages, actually, ending with an alarm and a screen with red hands on the wheel that says ‘Autosteer Unavailable For The Rest Of This Drive’. I managed to avoid ending up in that dog box and state! Success!
P.S. News broke today that Tesla has officially launched its Full Self-Driving subscription package for $199 per month. Full Self-Driving is really ‘Almost Full Self-Driving’, since the driver really still needs to hold the wheel. However, it is a really big step up from standard Autopilot, in that the car will stop, start and navigate by itself. So it will stop at intersections and traffic lights, wait for traffic or the green light, and go by itself, and turn on the turn signal for turns and lane changes where needed.
Apple announced today that iOS 15 will enable the iPhone wallet to store ID cards and driver’s licenses (and maybe vaccination records?).
That’s good news for people like me and Willie Geist of NBC. (See below. He lost his wallet today).
Here’s a little Chevy Bolt from Oregon getting charged at an Electrify America charging station here on East Madison Street on Capitol Hill.
It’s early days for building out the charging network. There are 612 of these EA stations across the country with 125 more coming online soon. (There are 168,000 gas stations in the United States).
These charging stations are for out-of-town or out-of-state travelers. In general, it’s much, much more expensive (up to 3x, 4x more) to charge one’s car at these stations, instead of at home.
On top of that, we have the cheapest electricity in the country here in Washington State at 8.53¢/ kWh (source: electricitylocal.com). At this station, the charging cost is $0.43/ kWh, or $0.31/ kWh plus a $4 monthly fee.
Tesla cars can be charged here, but Tesla has its own charging station network (cost is about $0.28/ kWh).
P.S. I see that Associated Press reports there are roughly 42,000 public charging stations in the United States, but only about 5,000 are considered direct-current fast chargers. The Biden administration is looking at incentives to encourage companies and governments to build 500,000 charging stations nationwide by 2030.
If I don’t get a personalized license plate from my new car, a plate number will be drawn for me from the current series.
Washington State started issuing 7-character license plates in 2011.
At that time the 6-character series of 001-AAA to 999-ZZZ had been exhausted.
The current format is AAA0000 to ZZZ9999.
It takes 5 to 6 years for one letter in the first position to be exhausted. So at this point, all Washington State cars 10 years or younger, have plates starting with A or B. We’re nearing the end of the B numbers, though. As far as I can tell, the latest plate numbers issued are in the BYT7000 range.
So that makes it possible to play a guessing game, to see what plate number might be drawn for me (see the table below).
BYT (byte) is cool, but I will be too late for one of those. (My car will be delivered around mid-June).
I do not want BYU. People might think I am associated with Brigham Young University in Utah.
Maybe I will catch a BZA number. ZA is the old international country abbreviation for South Africa. Long ago, drivers touring southern Africa would add a separate oval plate or sticker, with ZA on, to their vehicle’s standard number plate. Some still do, to this day.