Saturday/ wearing many layers of clothes

I am under the weather. Sometimes today I had to put on several layers of clothes to keep me warm out of bed, and to keep the chills under control.

‘That reminds me of the Friends episode with Joey wearing all Chandler’s clothes’, I thought.

‘Look at me! I’m Chandler. Could I BE wearing any more clothes?’ asks Joey. From a FRIENDS episode aired 9/26/1996.  Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani, wears all Chandler’s clothes (Matthew Perry). Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

Friday/ feierabend

A little bit of Germany here in South Lake Union: ‘Feierabend’ opened in 2006.
Here’s the ‘trouble’: those big steins of beer. The restaurant website says while some menu items are traditional (pork shank on the right), others have been adjusted for the Northwestern palate. All 18 beers are imported from Germany, though.

I’m sure as soon as feierabend* had arrived on Friday in Washington DC, politicians & their staff rejoiced more than they usually do.

*Feierabend literally translates to ‘celebrate-the-evening’ (the end of the work day).

Meanwhile, the 185th Oktoberfest is in full swing in Munich, Germany.  I’d still like to make it out there one year – just not sure I could handle even just one of those one-liter steins filled with potent beer! It would be really embarrassing to keel over and fall off one’s chair while the umpa band plays.

Thursday/ spare us your indignation

Kavanaugh in his emotional 50 minute opening address: ‘.. the Democrats will reap the whirlwind for decades to come’. Stephen Colbert (on the Late Show) to Kavanaugh (pointing with his finger at the camera): ‘Spare us your indignation, sir. This IS the whirlwind – and President Trump & the Republicans are responsible for it’.

There were fireworks and high drama at the Kavanaugh hearings today.

From the NYT Editorial Board: What a study in contrasts: Where Christine Blasey Ford was calm and dignified, Brett Kavanaugh was volatile and belligerent; where she was eager to respond fully to every questioner, and kept worrying whether she was being “helpful” enough, he was openly contemptuous of several senators; most important, where she was credible and unshakable at every point in her testimony, he was at some points evasive, and some of his answers strained credulity.

What I believe: Judge Kavanagh drank beer like a fish in high school & college, to the point that he blacked out.  Who knows how many times. Of course: he denied it; refused today to say how many beers are ‘too many’. He possibly assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, and forgot about it, or he now chooses to have forgotten about it.  He refuses to agree that the FBI (it’s standard procedure) should look into Ford’s claims. Ford is only one of three women accusing him of misconduct, and all want the FBI to investigate.  It does not add up for Kavanaugh.

Update Fri 9/28: There is going to be an FBI investigation into Ford’s claims, after all. They would have to work quickly: they only have one week.

Wednesday/ America’s ‘Himpathy*’ reckoning

*Himpathy: the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy that powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, homicide and other misogynistic behavior. Kate Manne uses the word in an opinion piece in the NYT.

Thursday morning, all eyes will be on the hearing of Dr Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony and (Supreme Court nominee) Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony, before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington DC.

Tuesday/ no Aviation Gin for you (or me)

I see actor Ryan Reynolds’ gin has arrived in Seattle (Aviation Gin). It made me think of our gin of choice, for after-work cocktails, back when I worked in China: Bombay Sapphire. So I should give the Aviation Gin a try.

P.S. Alas, party-pooper researchers have published the results of a sweeping global study in the Lancet, that says that not even modest amounts of alcohol is good for one’s health. What is one to do?

Spotted here on 15th Ave, on Capitol Hill: a delivery truck with a poster of Reynolds, promoting his new gin. Described as an ‘American gin’, Aviation Gin is handcrafted in small 100-case batches by a small, dedicated team of master distillers in Portland, Oregon.

Monday/ a spider, to frighten miss Muffet

‘Little miss Muffet sat on her tuffet,
eating her curds and whey.

Along came a spider
who sat down beside her

and frightened miss Muffet away’.
— Nursery rhyme that first appeared in print in 1805, in a book titled Songs for the Nursery. Its origin is not known.

I found this European garden spider (Araneus diadematus) by my garage today. These spiders are orb-weavers and found throughout Europe and across North America.

Sunday/ a nice start to Fall

It was a beautiful first day of fall here in Seattle, with puffy white clouds in a blue sky and mild temperatures (65 °F/ 18 °C).  I went down to South Lake Union for just a bit, and took the streetcar and No 8 bus back up to Capitol Hill.

I used the convex traffic mirror on the corner of Roy St and Westlake Ave N to take this ‘selfie’ of the South Lake Union streetcar. ‘South Lake Union to downtown Vancouver BC in about an hour’, says the Kenmore Air seaplane advertising painted on the streetcar. That’s not bad – much quicker than flying commercial out of Sea-Tac!

Saturday/ cruise ships

Fall has started, and the cruise ship season is winding down. (The last sailing from Seattle is Oct 10). Friends of ours left on a cruise this afternoon from the Smith Cove cruise terminal. Bryan and I went there to wave them goodbye – but we could not get quite close enough to the pier!  We settled for views of the cruise ship departures from the Elliott Bay marina.

Our friends are on the Ruby Princess on the left (built 2008 for $400m; capacity 3,600 passengers). She was setting sail for San Diego. On the right is the MS Eurodam (built 2007; capacity 2,100 passengers). She was setting sail for Alaska.
Here is the Ruby Princess shortly after she had set sail at 4 pm. She is heading north towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to get into the Pacific Ocean.

Friday/ where the iPhones are

Checking out the newest iPhone Xs in the store. The phone is about as wide, and a half-inch longer, than my iPhone 6s, which is acceptable. The enormous Xs Max is too big for me.

I finally went down to University Village mall to go check out Apple’s new store (and new iPhones*). There used to be a perfectly fine Apple store inside the mall, but I guess it was just not cool enough, and so they built a new stand-alone store, just steps away from where the old one was.

*I should probably upgrade my 2015 iPhone 6s at some point soon! The new camera lenses on the iPhone Xs, and the bezel-to-bezel OLED screen would be very welcome.

The style of Apple’s new store in University Village is minimalist with large glass panels and 14-ft high ceilings inside. (I took the picture in panorama mode; the roof is flat with a straight edge).
Work tables and seating near the large screen form the center focus point of the store. The large screen is used for art, and for product displays (of course), but also for coding classes for kids. (Picture by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

Thursday/ flashbacks to 1991

I had not yet settled in the USA in 1991, but I knew about the testimony of Anita Hill in the hearings for then-nominee for Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas. Well, it’s happening again.  Christine Blasey Ford is accusing Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexually assaulting her as a teenager.

There is a difference, though: this time around the President of the United States is a known harasser (or worse) of women .. and since late 2017, the #MeToo movement has forced many powerful men to face up to the consequences of their abuse of women.

So we’ll see what happens. There may – or may not – be hearings next week. Like most Democrats I am an Absolutely Not-No Way-No HowNO‘ on Kavanaugh*- but I don’t get to vote on it.

*He’s been caught lying to the Senate, even before all of the latest allegations, and he’s a hard-line conservative. He also is of the opinion that a sitting President cannot be subpoenaed, nor indicted. No wonder Trump wants him to join the Supreme Court.

That’s Kavanaugh on the right. On the left is Ed Whelan, president of the think tank Ethics & Public Policy Center and former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who spent much of the week hinting that he could disprove Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations that Kavanaugh had drunkenly assaulted her at a party when the two were teenagers. By Friday Whelan had retracted his story and apologized. [From Yahoo News]

Wednesday/ Building Cure’s progress

Here’s what the completed building will look like. [Source: Aedas, Flad & Associates]
I walked by the construction site of the ‘Building Cure’ today.

It’s here in downtown Seattle near Denny Way. It is the new building for Seattle Children’s Research Institute to expand into. The Institute’s scientists develop cures and therapies for childhood diseases such as cancers, sickle cell anemia and type 1 diabetes.

The Institute has grown from just 40 employees in 2006 to more than 1,500 today.

The 13 floors are done, and now the glass and steel cladding (aluminum?) goes on.  Those round pillars stand at angles to each other to form the facets of the building’s sides. I hope the construction was not too much of a nightmare.
Colorful artwork on an electrical box on the pavement, by the existing Seattle Children’s Research Institute building.

Tuesday/ the 2 hour marathon: almost there

Kipchoge took off a whopping 1 min 18 s from compatriot Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 record. [Graph: NRC Handelsblad]
The Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge (33) set a new world record in the Berlin marathon on Sunday. Roger Robinson writes in Runner’s World that he is now, without question, the greatest marathoner of all time. He won every one of the last nine marathons that he had competed in.

‘How long will this time stand?’ asks the headline. Eliud Kipchoge shortly after winning the Berlin marathon in a world record time of 2:01:39. [Picture: NRC Handelsblad]

Monday/ Cape Town has water – for now

Cape Town’s dam levels hit the 70% mark on Monday for the first time since 2015. The severe water restrictions that had been in place, have been relaxed, albeit just by a little*.   The rainy season is coming to an end in September, and a long dry summer lies ahead.

*The City is asking residents to use no more than 70 liters (18.5 US gal) per person per day, up from a 50-liter (13 US gal) limit.

Cape Town metro area dam levels the last 5 years, in September. The picture is of the Theewaterskloof Dam, gloriously at full capacity in Sept. 2014. It is currently 52% full, up from barely 12% before the 2018 winter rains had come. [Picture credit: Twitter post from Cirrus@OrionnebulaAE].

Sunday/ Florence’s soaking continues

The areas south of New Bern and Wilmington have recorded 30 inches of rain, and the rain is still pouring down. Not surprisingly, many roads and streets are flooded, and there are widespread power outages as well.

Map and report from the Sunday edition of the Washington Post.

Saturday/ South Africa’s protein cereal

Ahh .. a shipment of ProNutro cereal from South Africa landed on my porch this week, sent by my friend Jose. I have fond memories of the stuff and still like it very much.

Back in high school, it was the only breakfast that would sustain me all the way through the long mornings in class. The cereal is also famous in South Africa for feeding baby animals and birds (that one might have rescued).

It’s been 55 years since ProNutro made its debut in South Africa (a somewhat odd anniversary to celebrate, but hey, they are free to do that). The product is made from maize (corn) and soy. It is an instant cereal, prepared with hot milk. It takes a little experience to know j-u-s-t how much milk to add! It soaks up the milk over 5 or 10 minutes. If you did not add enough, it gets really solid and feels ‘dry’ to the tongue. I prefer it porridge-style, so with lots of milk.

Friday/ Manafort the conspirator, to cooperate

It’s really too much to keep track of, all the crimes and guilty pleas of Trump’s associates, but this is a big one.

Today, Paul Manafort (Trump’s 2016 campaign manager), already found guilty of tax evasion and money laundering, plead guilty to additional charges of ‘conspiracy against the United States’ and ‘conspiracy to obstruct justice (witness tampering)’.
And: Manafort will cooperate with Special Counsel Mueller’s investigators.

Manafort was present at the June 2016 meeting with the Russians (with Donald Trump Jr and Son-in-law Jared Kushner also in attendance). He knows if Trump Senior knew about the meeting. 

What will Trump do, now that even more chickens have come home to roost*?
It really does not look like his nightmare of a presidency will make it to 2020.

*An expression that is 500 years old. The older fuller form was ‘curses are like young chickens; they always come home to roost’. Your offensive words or actions are likely at some point to rebound and hurt you.

Thursday/ pummeling the coast

Thu 11.00 pm EDT: Florence has not made landfall yet (50 miles from the coast) .. now a Category 2, so the storm’s wind speeds have come down, but there will still be a lot of water to deal with*.  Up to a third of the people in some communities have elected to stay put, in spite of the evacuation order. Time will tell if that was wise. (Some people had no place to go, or no means to evacuate, though).

*4.9 million people live in areas that will get more than 10 inches of rain over the next 5 days.

Fri 11.00 pm EDT:  Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 AM EDT on Friday.  By late afternoon, several hundred people had been rescued, and 5 deaths directly related to the storm, had been reported.  Many of the streams and rivers in the storm’s footprint are expected to crest at record levels downstream.

Here’s Gadi Schwartz from NBC enduring the rain and wind. Does it make a mockery of telling everyone to bail out, and then the storm-chasers and news crews go right into the storm? Well, Gadi explains in a ‘safety explanation for mom’ video on Twitter that they do a lot of preparation when picking locations to report from. The crew watches for flying objects, and in this case they have a concrete building with 5 floors, right behind them, to retreat into, for when push comes to shove. [Screenshot from MSNBC].

Wednesday/ here comes Florence

‘Let us withdraw, ’twill be a storm’. – William Shakespeare tweet this morning (from King Lear, Act 2, Scene 4)

We’re all on Florence watch here, even the West coasters. (Hurricanes do not hit the West Coast, due to the direction of global winds, and the Pacific Ocean’s water temperature).   Hurricane Florence is bearing down on North Carolina. The latest models show that it might rake the coastline after coming close to the mainland, resulting in a 9-13 ft storm surge from the ocean.  This, combined with upwards of 30 inches of rain in some areas will make for wide-spread flooding of low-lying areas.  Some of the long narrow barrier islands off the coast will be run over completely with seawater. About 1 million people along the coast are under mandatory evacuation orders.

The monster is approaching. At this point, there is very little chance that the storm will turn and not make landfall (late Thursday night or early Friday morning).
Florence was a Category 4, but has been downgraded to Category 3. 

Monday/ 10 years after 2008 (it is still the end of the world as we knew it)

The filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by financial services firm Lehman Brothers – ten years ago this week (Sept. 15, 2008) – remains the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history. Lehman held over US$600 billion in assets. The fall-out from the 2008 crisis reverberates to this day through global politics. It gave us Donald Trump, Brexit, extreme nationalism, the blaming of immigrants for economic misfortunes.

Here is Philip Stephens in a column in the Financial Times newspaper (headquartered in London):
‘Historians will look back on the crisis of 2008 as the moment the world’s most powerful nations surrendered international leadership, and globalisation went into reverse. The rest of the world has understandably concluded it has little to learn from the West. Many thought at the time that the collapse of communism would presage the hegemony of open, liberal democracies. Instead, what really will puzzle the historians is why the ancien régime was so lazily complacent – complicit, rather – in its own demise’.