Thursday/ more rain

It has been raining almost non-stop this week, but at least it was warm enough today to go for a walk with a raincoat & hoodie or an umbrella (50 °F/ 10 °C).

This street corner is closed with a big ‘Detour’ sign (workers  are fixing up the pavement). The ‘Republican St’ street sign is in the dirt. ‘Yes, an apt metaphor for the Republican Party’, I thought: in the dirt, taking a detour around democracy & decency.
Here’s a little dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis), a small grayish American sparrow. It’s hoping to find a little bit plant seed in the flower box, I’m sure.

Tuesday/ partial results are in

Get this: the company that created the mobile app responsible for the Iowa primary chaos is 1. called ‘Shadow’, and 2. is said to employ several former Hillary Clinton campaign staffers. Best Twitter response to this tweet: Delete your company. 

It’s 24 hrs later, and we have the results of 71% of the Iowa precincts.
The Buttigieg campaign holds a slight lead over the Sanders campaign.
It was not a good night for former VP Joe Biden: looks like he will end in a distant 4th place.

There was a bug in the app that precinct captains used to send in the numbers, and most of them had to call in the results by phone, with very long hold times (2+ hrs). Unbelievable. The Iowa Democratic Party has a lot of egg on its face.

It’s all but certain that this is the death knell of the caucus process in Iowa (selection by ballot, and 1-2-3 placement, instead). It is even possible that Iowa will lose its coveted first place in the primary election sequence as well.

Update Thu Feb 6: By Thu, the results of 100% of the precincts had been released, showing Buttigieg leading by a sliver (0.1%). No sooner had this happened though, when the intrepid reporters of the New York Times pointed out discrepancies between the three sets of numbers, so the vote counters may have to recanvass (recount) the votes in some precincts. Oh boy.

Wow, the young mayor Pete leads the whole pack at this point. Caucus precinct results from the Iowa Democratic Party’s primary on Monday night, with 71% reporting (1,250 of 1,765 precincts). Buttigieg has the most pledged delegates, but Sanders got more [Source: New York Times online].

Monday/ awaiting the results from Iowa

President Pete! President Pete! chanted the crowd, as ‘Mayor Pete’ was addressing them. He has a shot at it, to win the Iowa primary, but still faces formidable competition from former VP Joe Biden, and from Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the primaries of the other states.

The first of the 2020 United States presidential primary elections is taking place in Iowa tonight.

Iowa has (in my opinion) a super-complicated caucus process. On top of that, the Democratic Party has not been able to get the results out as quickly as expected by everyone. (They are planning to report out an expanded set of voter tallies, and that has evidently slowed the process down).

Anyway .. we will know eventually which of the Democratic candidates prevailed in Iowa, and may he or she go on to do well elsewhere as well. The orangutan in the White House needs to go.

Here’s a caucus scene, one of some 1,700 locations in the state of Iowa. I think this one is a high school gym. Caucus-goers show their support for a candidate by going to the candidate’s post on the floor (lots of support for Buttigieg, Sanders & Warren here; not so much for the other candidates). Candidates that do not get 15% of the total caucus-goers are considered non-viable, and their supporters have to make a second choice (or they can choose to go home). These ‘free agents’ can get lobbied by the other groups, or engage in horse-trading. ‘We will give you 5 people, in return for one state delegate’ (each location has an allotted number of state delegates). At the Iowa state level, all the delegates are then added up to determine the winner of the Iowa caucus, and the No 2, No 3 place and so on. We don’t have a person of color in there with a shot to be the Democratic candidate this year, but we have two women in contention, and wow .. what a ground-breaking campaign from first-ever gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Sunday/ Kansas City: not in Kansas

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers by 31-20 today, to win Super Bowl No 54.
Trump promptly tweeted out congratulations to ‘the Great State of Kansas’.
Some 11 mins later, he deleted the tweet and sent out a corrected one that congratulated the state of Missouri.

Here’s former US Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri, calling out Trump’s mistake. I have actually done the 4 hr drive from St Louis, MO to Kansas City, MO. Kansas City sits on Missouri’s western edge, straddling the border with Kansas, but it is considered to be in Missouri, and not in Kansas.  I suppose it’s an easy mistake to make (to think it is in Kansas), but it is still a sore point with the people of Missouri.

Saturday/ pink and blue street cars

The rain let up a little today, but some cold air moved in from the Pacific, pushing temperatures down again into the mid-40s (6° C).

Thank heavens for the rainbow crosswalks, and the blue and pink street cars, I thought, as I walked along Broadway today. They bring some color — to counter the gray skies and sidewalks.

Friday/ the U.K. leaves the E.U.

50 pence coin cupro-nickel coin issued by the Royal Mint to ‘observe’ the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, says the website. Yes. And now we will observe how Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make life better for Britons, now that the Brexiteers finally got their way.
P.S. Some grammar geeks point out that the so-called ‘Oxford comma’ should have been used before the ‘and’. That would clarify to the reader that all of the three things mentioned, are wished between the U.K. and other nations —not only friendship.

From the Royal Mint website: ‘Commonly known as ‘Brexit,’ the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union officially took place on 31 January 2020.

The withdrawal serves as culmination of a period in British history kicked off by a referendum on 23 June 2016 which was followed by the country triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on 29 March 2017′.


Thursday/ the river in the sky

A break in the rain in January here in Seattle, means you have to jump at it, and go for a walk. We had an even rainier-than-usual start to the year here, with 8.04 in so far at Seatac Airport. The average for Jan. is 5.2 in.

It’s not over yet, for January rain! Another inch or two will get added to the rain totals for some places with an ‘atmospheric river’ moving in. (A little dramatic, that description, no?).  I guess it will help to alert people in flood-prone places to be on the lookout. There is a lot of snow on higher elevations that can melt with the rain and make trouble. [Meteorologist Jordan Steele on King5 TV].

Tuesday/ ‘little strings’ for dinner

I made pasta tonight – out of a box, but I made the sauce from scratch. (The sauce is usually out of a bottle, but I always use authentic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese).

The sauce recipe called for shallot onions, garlic, tomato paste, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Almost done here .. the sauce is cooked separate from the spaghetti. Then the spaghetti, with some of its water, is added into the sauce and cooked until the sauce has thickened.

Monday/ ‘bring jelly, and blankets’

The train tracks leading to Auschwitz’s entrance, on the cover of a 2019 book by Robert Jan van Pelt, Miriam Greenbaum and Luis Ferreiro. We have not (yet) had a World War III after 1945 — and atrocities on the scale of the Holocaust — but man! there have been horrible genocides, in Indonesia (1966), in Cambodia (1975), and in Rwanda (1994), among others, and many, many wars.

The horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp came to an end 75 years ago. I confess that I did not know that it was the Russians that liberated the people trapped in the camp.

Here is a little bit of what Don Greenbaum (94), says of the U.S. Army Liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp (this was on April 29, 1945).  From German news weekly Die Spiegel :

We couldn’t communicate at first. The prisoners spoke all sorts of languages, German, Czech, just no English. Then we found out that one of our boys could speak Yiddish. He said: “We are American soldiers. We are here to free you. You can go wherever you want.” But where should the poor devils go? We couldn’t even feed the prisoners. People were so starved that they were unable to eat normal food. We said to the comrades behind us: “Bring something to the people here that they can keep with them! Soft food, something like jelly. Anything they can swallow. And bring blankets! “

Sunday/ raindrops keep falling on my head

I cut my walkabout in downtown Seattle short today when big raindrops started to come down again.
It was 52 °F/ 11 °C with blue skies when I started out, but grey rain clouds soon swept in from the Pacific.

It was still clear by the time I had walked down to the Capitol Hill train station, with its brand new apartment buildings ..
.. but by 4.20 pm the rain had arrived. This is the view looking towards West Seattle across Elliott Bay, from the top deck at Pike Place market. That’s the MV Kitsap ferry on the left (built in 1980), setting out for Bremerton. The one approaching in the distance is probably coming in from Bainbridge Island. (Ferry traffic was down for the first time in 7 years in 2019, by 3% from 2018. Officials note that the severe winter weather in Feb. 2018, as well as the construction of the new terminal at Colman dock, are probably the main reasons for the decline).

Saturday/ a bad start to the Year of the Rat

This picture is from the Barnes and Noble Bookstore closing in Seattle downtown, but it is also a fitting illustration of the worrisome start of the Lunar New Year.

It’s the first day of the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rat, and a new start to rotating through the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

The coronavirus outbreak, and the lockdowns in place in multiple cities in China, are dampening the celebrations in the country’s Mainland badly, though.

Infographic from Agence France-Presse, showing the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak: the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

Friday/ it’s not over — until it is over

Wow, just wow. What an ending that was — to the third-round match in the Australian Open, with Roger Federer (38) playing Australian John Millman (30).
They had played ferociously for 4 hours, and the match was now in its death throes: the fifth and final set’s super tiebreaker. (First to 10, lead by two).

Soon Federer found himself down 4-8, two points away from defeat. Right then, he must have thought ‘Never say die’. He shut out Millman from winning even one, of one-two-three-four-five-SIX points in a row, going to 10-8 for the win.

Final score: Federer beat Millman 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 [10-8]. Go Federer!

Here is match point. In this video still it looks as if Millman (far side) is about to win the point, smacking it down the line from the other side, but no. Federer got to it and hit a cross-court winner to clinch the match. P.S. Commentator Brad Gilbert called out unsportsmanlike conduct from Millman afterwards: when he was serving, Millman turned his back on the umpire and rolled/ rubbed the ball as long as he could, on his soaked shirt. What does that do? It makes the ball heavier and unbalanced, so that it bounces a little less true on the other side, making it a little harder to return. [Video still from Federer-Millman match highlights at]

Thursday/ another day of the Trump trial

I have not been watching the Trump impeachment trial that has been on TV since Tuesday. I have heard it all before: Trump and his co-conspirators used taxpayer money to the tune of $400 million, to pressure the Ukraine president to smear Joe Biden, so that Trump can win in November.

So Trump — now impeached — really should to be found guilty of the two articles of impeachment, and be removed from office. So say 51% of Americans. It still seems that is not going to happen, though.  The Constitution requires that two-thirds of all Senators (67 of 100), find Trump guilty and convict him on at least one article of impeachment.  The U.S. Senate has 53 Republicans.

The best one can hope for is that the Republicans pay a price for voting to keep Trump in office, in November 2020, and long after that.

Wednesday/ gangsters in downtown Seattle

A gangster-style shooting altercation in downtown Seattle, just at the close of the working day, left one dead and 7 people wounded — and the perpetrators are still on the loose. Terrible.

My friends and I did not let that deter us from venturing out for our Wednesday night beer and bite, though.

My friends and I were about to walk down to 12th Ave to our Wednesday night watering hole for a beer and a bite when news of the shooting broke. We watched the TV reporting for 15 minutes or so, and decided it was safe to go. The Irish pub ‘The Chieftain’ had beer for us, but no food! The kitchen’s cook had not made it in for some reason. So after a beer, we went to a wood-fired pizza parlor called Southpaw, nearby.

Tuesday/ the Twin Towers in 1999

Here is a digital scan of the 35mm film negative, of a picture of the Twin Towers, that I had taken in 1999 from the Hudson River.  I was on a Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan island.

The World Trade Center’s twin towers, seen from the Hudson River, in March 1999. The building in the distance — between the Towers — is the Woolworth Building, an early American skyscraper, located at 233 Broadway. Designed by architect Cass Gilbert, it was the tallest building in the world from 1913 to 1930, with 55 floors and a height of 792 ft (241 m).

Monday/ Martin Luther King Jr. Day

It was the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday here in the States today, and it felt like a Sunday to me.

Martin Luther King: (my paraphrasing) all people should have equal political rights and social freedoms, and we should speak up, and act, when we see someone’s civil rights violated.

Leaders of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom marching w. signs (R-L) Rabbi Joachim Prinz, unident., Eugene Carson Blake, Martin Luther King, Floyd McKissick, Matthew Ahmann & John Lewis. (Photo by Robert W. Kelley/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
I liked the Google ‘doodle’ artwork that was on the Google homepage for MLK Day.

Sunday/ more Convention Center space

Here’s a peek over the fence at the construction site for the Washington State Convention Center expansion, on the edge of Seattle downtown.

The steel columns and rafters that will create the cavernous spaces for the $1.8 billion Washington State Convention Center addition are starting to rise. The extension will be called ‘The Summit’ and open in 2022 for business. It is expected to bring in some $200 million a year from out of state, and is said to already have bookings for events as far out as 2026.
Here is what the completed city block on Olive Way will look like. The structure will be 6 stories tall, with retail on the ground floor, a ball room, and an exhibition hall of 150,000 sq ft. The structure was designed by LMN Architects. They did the design of the University of Washington light rail station, as well as the Museum of History and Industry in South Lake Union. [Image: Courtesy of LMN Architects].

Saturday/ the downtown Barnes & Noble bookstore closes

I went down to the Barnes & Noble bookstore in downtown Seattle today one more time, before it closed its doors for good today. This leaves downtown without a big bookstore*, a somewhat shocking state of affairs. People just don’t buy new books like they used to, or: they buy them on Amazon at a  discount, of course.

*There is still a Barnes & Noble at Northgate, the Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill, and the University Bookstore in U-District, as well as a smattering of second hand bookstores.

Paintwork inside the Barnes & Noble. Left to right: Mary Shelley, English novelist who wrote the Gothic novel Frankenstein; Walt Whitman, influential American poet; Herman Melville, novelist, short-story writer and poet perhaps most famous for writing Moby-Dick.
Aw. No more storytelling for the kids with Winnie-the-Pooh bear’s Hundred Acre Wood as a backdrop. The bear sits on a branch in the tree on the right. Says Winnie-the-Pooh: ‘The only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey, is so I can eat it’.
The Barnes and Noble was in the basement of the 4-storey Pacific Place mall, and there is no official word yet about the use of that space now. The entire mall is getting a makeover of sorts.