Monday/ O’zapft is! 🍻

‘O’ for Oktoberfest. The new Oktoberfest motif has a traditional Bavarian look.


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’.

Mayor Dirk Reiter needed three strikes with the mallet to open the barrel on Saturday, which is considered ‘normal’.
In 1950, then-mayor Thomas Wimmer needed 19 strikes, ‘a sad record to this day’, reports Stern magazine. 
Picture by Alexander Hassenstein / Getty Images]

Monday/ back to Seattle 🛬

My short stay in San Diego was over on Monday morning, and Alaska Airlines brought me back to Seattle.

There it is: the Alaska Airlines buy modafinil online from india Boeing 737-900 with its little winglets on the tips of the wings, at Gate 34 of Terminal 2 at San Diego airport.
Here’s beautiful blue buy accutane cheap Lake Tahoe, straddling the border of (northern) California and Nevada.
There would be snow on the ground in winter time. On the bottom left are the runways of Minden-Tahoe Airport, and on the bottom right is Carson City in Nevada.
Almost home now, over Tacoma, Washington State. That would be the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge linking Tacoma & the Kitsap Peninsula. The runways at top left are those of Tacoma Narrows Airport (not served by any commercial carriers).
Seattle-Tacoma Airport’s North Terminal has undergone a renovation for several years now, and the work is almost complete. The large art installation on the wall is called Boundary (2021) by artist John Grade. The wood that he used is Alaskan yellow cedar and the dimensions are 40’ x 85’ x 25’.

Saturday/ Balboa Park

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.

My brother and I have been to the San Diego Zoo (next to Balboa Park) many, many times, and we decided it was time to take a look inside the Natural History Museum instead. This is the main entrance.
The original ‘Jaws’ .. a megalodon model on display in the main exhibition hall. The model is very accurate, and shows the electroreceptors on the shark’s nose between the nostrils. These receptors are filled with a jelly-like substance which help the shark to pick up electrical fields in the surrounding water. They can detect even the slightest of electrical pulses from the muscle movement of potential prey. Megalodons lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago, and are relatives of today’s great white sharks.
Another view of the main exhibition hall, with a Steller’s sea cow (Hydrodamalis gigas) top left. These slow-moving sea creatures grew to 9 m (30 ft) and 8-10 tons and had relatively few predators, but were easy prey for humans. Within 27 years of its discovery by Europeans in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia, the slow-moving and easily-caught mammal was hunted into extinction for its meat, fat, and hide. The year was 1768.
The California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) is a New World vulture and the largest North American land bird. They became extinct in the wild in 1987, at which point only 22 birds in captivity remained. Breeding programs at San Diego Zoo and Los Angeles Zoo were launched, and as of December 2020 there were 504 California condors living wild or in captivity.
The Balboa Park Botanical Building. Built for the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition, along with the adjacent Lily Pond and Lagoon, the historic building is one of the largest lath structures in the world.
The beautiful façade at the entrance of the San Diego Museum of Art has detailed full-body sculptures of artists Velázquez, Murillo, and Zurbarán.
The nearly 200-foot-tall Tower and Dome of the California Building are covered with intricate carvings, colorful tile, and glass beads.

Friday/ gentle surf, onshore wind 🌊

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.

Thursday/ hello San Diego ✈️

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.

The view from inside the Alaska Airlines lounge near the main terminal. On the left are the C gates.
We’re approaching San Diego, and below is Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Miramar was the site of the real TOPGUN flight school made famous by the movie Top Gun (1986).
The Pacific Ocean below, of course, with Dana Point Harbor to the right of center on the coast (some distance south of greater Los Angeles).

Wednesday/ tennis in Miami

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.

This between-the-legs shot (also called a ‘tweener’) from Alcaraz came early in the match against Tsitsipas On Tuesday, at 1-1. Alcaraz had to run back to retrieve a lob from Tsitsipas, and there was no time to turn around. It won Alcaraz the point.
[Still image from streaming service Tennis TV]
March 1990. My brother Chris and I, before hitting a few balls on the green clay court of the Miami Intercontinental hotel on the third floor. We were there to see our brother Piet play in the Miami Open for real (he was a professional tennis player). At that time it was only the 6th year that the tournament was held. It was billed as the 1990 Lipton International Players Championships.

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.

Saturday/ the new USA passport

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.

The Next Generation Passport has been issued since March 2021.
[Image from]

Monday/ Belgium’s new passports

Belgium’s new passports (issued as of today) have pages in that feature images from the country’s comic book heritage.

The characters making an appearance are Lucky Luke, The Smurfs (yes, the Smurfs were created in Belgium in 1958), and Hergé’s Tintin.

A passport ready for space travel? Sophie Wilmes, Belgian Foreign Minister, shows the new Belgian international passport with its drawing of the rocket from the Tintin adventures Objectif Lune (‘Destination Moon’, first published 1953) and On a Marché Sur la Lune (‘Explorers on the Moon’, 1954).
[Photo: Benoit Doppagne/ DPA]
Visa pages in the new Belgian passport with a background drawing by Hergé, from Les Sept Boules de Cristal (‘The Seven Crystal Balls’, 1948). The figures walking towards the chateau are Captain Haddock, Tintin and Snowy.
[Photo: DPA]

Monday/ scowling at the camera

[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. 🙂

Tuesday/ Sixth Avenue, Tacoma

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.

Sixth Avenue is in central Tacoma. This is the corner of 6th Ave & State Street.
Bluebeard Coffee Roasters is right there, in this rehabbed building.
A FunHouse pinball machine from 1990, by Williams Electronics. It stars a talking ventriloquist dummy named Rudy. The game is themed after the concept of an amusement park funhouse.
This burrito/ taco eatery is not open, and is getting a make-over inside. 
This record shop is full of vinyl records, but they have a small selection of CDs as well. I bought CDs with Maria Callas and Ella Fitzgerald songs on. They are so cheap, it’s almost for free, I thought ($5 and $1).
It’s been 13 years since the Seattle Super Sonics basketball team were sold and moved to Oklahoma City. Best I can tell, this mural is in honor of a guy that passed away recently and was a big Sonics fan.
More art on the opposite wall. The wide-angle lens of my phone comes in handy for shots like these.
Here’s the Seattle Kraken sea monster, mascot of the ice hockey team, emerging from the depths of Puget Sound, at the Tacoma-Narrows Bridge.
Shakabrah is a casual breakfast spot around the corner with hearty egg dishes & pancakes, and burgers & sandwiches at lunch.
The Baptist Church on 6th Avenue was constructed in1924 in the Gothic style with sandstone.
Several utility poles have pink or green paint on to brighten them up.
O’Malley’s Irish pub.
Erin, Go Brah! says the artwork around the corner (Ireland Forever!).
The eyes on the electric utility box are checking out the sun, sitting low and already well on its way back to the horizon at 3.30 pm (sunset is just an hour later).

Sunday/ at the car wash

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).

Done with the wash & rinse.  I’m about to hop in the car to take it to the vacuum bay, to dry it all off by hand*, outside, as well as inside the doors, the door linings, the trunk lid and the frunk lid, where a little water inevitably gets in. The drying takes a lot longer than the washing & rinsing! 
*With a set of drying cloths called ‘Dry Me A River’, that I had bought on Amazon.

Friday/ decoding a road trip, from long ago

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.

It was the year 2000, and there was no Google, and no Google Maps. I used my trusty 1999 Rand McNally Road Atlas to put this route together (demonstrated on Google Maps). I remember driving through the south of Wyoming. The Matthew Shepard murder of 1998 in Laramie, Wyoming was still fresh in the memory, and (irrationally), I was not going to stop for anything in Wyoming. On to Salt Lake City, which I had been to before then, and through Idaho to get me to the border with Oregon.
Here is the picture of me at the rest stop. (Yes, a very plain photo. I had used my 1997 Olympus D-320L 2-megapixel digital camera on the grass, with its 12-second timer). Really not much to go by in the picture, right? .. but I knew from my route, that I had taken Interstate 84 through the northeast of Oregon ..
.. and NOW it is the year 2021, and I can google ‘Interstate 84 rest areas in Oregon’, and a list comes up right away. Just check them out one by one, with Google StreetView, and voila! there is the wooden utility pole, and the hills in the back that look the same. It is no other than the Weatherby Rest Stop, at Milepost 335.9, I-84, Weatherby, OR 97907. (That’s a nice truck & trailer combination that was caught by the Google camera).
So right here is where my car was parked, in one of these spots. If I have it right, that is Pedro Mountain and its peak in the left center of the picture.
One mystery remains: exactly where on Interstate 84 this photo was taken. The ‘Deer Crossing’ sign is not much help, but with a little patience, I should be able to use the surrounding landscape to find it. Stay tuned. 🙂

Saturday/ three more stations

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.

Bryan, Gary & I made a run to Northgate and back. (I will stop at the Roosevelt and U District stations some time later and take some pictures. These latter two are both underground).
Here’s the elevated platform of the Northgate station. There are escalators and stairs to street level, and a connection to a new, large pedestrian/ biking bridge across Interstate 5 to the Seattle North College campus.
Roosevelt and U-District are underground, and Northgate is above ground. Construction to the north continues, with the extension to Lynnwood slated to open in 2024.
The Kraken Community Iceplex (the training facility for the Seattle Kraken) is nearby Northgate station. The Northgate shopping mall is getting a make-over, and some 4,000 new apartment units are under construction as well.
Northgate station is elevated above street level. Changes to existing bus routes have been made to stop at the three new stations.
A new train with four cars entering Northgate station. Sound Transit has started to purchase these newer technology train cars from Siemens Mobility (they entered into service in May 2021). The model name is S700, and these cars cost around $4.5 million each.
The new John Lewis Memorial Bridge (pedestrian/ biking bridge) across Interstate 5 to the North Seattle College campus spans some 1,900 feet.
This weird rotary-dial phone was set up as a curiosity (I think), at the entrance of the bridge.

Friday/ a trip to Ellensburg

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.

Bryan, Gary and I are ready to go. I punched in the destination address (Bryan’s dad’s in Ellensburg) and up pops the navigation map with the superchargers highlighted in red. It’s only 110 miles to Ellensburg, so we did not need to stop to charge the car on the way there. The screen says there is 248 miles on the battery, and that there will still be 28% of charge left by the time we arrive at our destination.
Here’s the rest stop at Snoqualmie Pass (elev. 2,726 ft) off of I-90. The low clouds we had in the city are really low here! Those slopes in the background, on the left, are the ski slopes of The Summit at Snoqualmie ski resort, and would be covered in snow come winter time.
Stepping into The Tav in Ellensburg for lunch. A ‘down-home watering hole offering American pub grub, tap brews, simple cocktails, pool & pinball’, says the restaurant’s online description.
Frontier Tavern with its Wild West style lettering and red-white-and-blues is right next door to The Tav.
Downtown Ellensburg is full of charming old red brick buildings. This one on West 3rd Avenue is dated 1889 and down below is the Brix Wine Bar & Restaurant.
So now we’re on our way back, and we took State Route 10 into Cle Elum where a Tesla supercharger was located, to add miles to my car’s battery. The charging screen shows that the charger is working at 137 kW, and adding miles at a rate of 625 mi/hr. So it can add more than a 100 miles of range with just 10 minutes of charging (wow). We stayed for 15 minutes and that was more than enough to get us back to Seattle.
I had to pose for a classic Tesla charger picture at the Cle Elum supercharger, of course. There are 8 charging stations. That first charger (on the left in the picture) is positioned so that a car that is towing something, can just pull straight into the bay, instead of backing into the bay the way I had to.
Making our way back over the mountain pass. This is the animal crossing over I-90 that was completed in 2018.

Monday/ the lost wallet

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).

It’s great that Willie Geist got his wallet back. The worst ‘lost wallet’ event that had happened to me, occurred in Aug. 2011, when mine was stolen out of my backpack in The Landmark mall in Hong Kong. An accomplice distracted me on an escalator, while the thief stole my wallet. My wallet should not have been in my backpack, of course! They must have watched me withdraw cash from an ATM, and saw exactly where I had put the wallet away. So $400 of cash gone, driver’s license and credit cards. In the hour or so it took me to get back to the hotel and call American Express, the thieves had spent $2,600 at the Louis Vuitton store. (AmEx credited the money back onto my card, dollar for dollar, and apologized for my distress).

Sunday/ the ‘gas station’ of the future

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: 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.

The Electrify America charging station at 1300 East Madison St here on Capitol Hill. The station offers two charging protocols: CHAdeMO which is a DC fast-charging protocol for Japanese vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi iMiEV, and CCS (Combined Charging System) chargers which is also a DC fast-charging protocol, but for European and American cars. The “combined” term in the CCS name designates its capability to incorporate the Level 2 (J1772™ standard) plug and DC fast-charging connector into the same larger plug.

Friday/ playing with number plates (again)

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.

That third letter in the plate number changes roughly every three days (so that comes to 10,000 new car registrations in WA state: a series of say, BYW0000- BYW9999). Some time in June, BYZ9999 should be issued, and BZA0001 will be next. BZA3141 has the first four digits of π. Getting that exact plate would be like winning the lottery, of course!

Tuesday/ round trip to Kitsap peninsula

Here are a few pictures from the round trip that Bryan and I made out to Paul & Thomas’s place on Kitsap peninsula, today.

We drove south to Tacoma on Interstate 5, crossed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge to Kitsap peninsula, and then up, up north to Hansville. On the way back, we took the Kingston-to-Edmonds ferry, to get across Puget Sound and back to the city.
The Tacoma Narrows bridge on State Route 16 is a twin-suspension bridge; the 5th longest suspension bridge in the United States (5,400 ft /1,646 m). We are on the old 1950 bridge, westbound for Kitsap peninsula. On the left is the newer eastbound bridge that opened in July 2007.
Beautiful cotton-candy cumulus clouds on Kitsap peninsula. The yellow blooms on the side of the road is Scotch broom, a non-regulated Class B noxious weed. The evergreen shrubs grow 6-10 feet tall and form dense stands that crowd out other indigenous greenery.
A Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) in Hansville. These are pine squirrels found in the Pacific Northwest. I have never seen them anywhere in the city, though.
On the central part of the lower deck and crossing Puget Sound on the ferry called Spokane. Passengers are still advised to stay in their cars as much as possible, and not walk around on the ferry. Hopefully that will change in the next month or two. That is Edmonds in the distance.
Leaving the ferry, at the Edmonds ferry terminal.

Friday/ State Route 20 now open

SR 20 is the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State.


State Route 20, commonly referred to as the North Cascades Highway, opened for traffic on Wednesday.

Crews removing the last stretches of remaining snow on the road surface. [Pictures tweeted on Tuesday by WSDOT East @WSDOT_East on Twitter].