Tuesday/ at the carwash

I learned not to park my car under the trees when I go play tennis at the Woodland Park tennis courts. Little spots of pine gum end up all over the car. Luckily, there is Uncle Ike’s Car Wash to take care of that.

The car wash used to be the ‘Brown Bear’ Car Wash, but it was bought out and taken over by Uncle Ike’s, the local marijuana products franchise.
Business must be booming for Uncle Ike’s!

My car wash routine is very simple. STEP 1: Rinse the car with the high-pressure rinser. STEP 2: Use the soapy broom with the soft bristles to go over the whole car & all windows. GO FOR IT and be THOROUGH but QUICK! You pay for every minute that you use the equipment! STEP 3: Final rinse with the high-pressure rinser (shown in picture), to get the soap off. All of this takes 5 or 6 minutes, and costs $6. And voila! you have a clean car.

Monday/ the rainbow flags are up

I stopped for a moment on the way to the dentist this morning, to take a picture of the colorful rainbow flag at the entrance of the new Hyatt Regency. (June is Gay Pride month).

The Hyatt Regency has been open for business since November. I’m not sure if they are already able to fill their enormous hotel to its full capacity, with guests. They may have to be patient and wait for the extensions to the nearby Washington State Convention Center, to be completed. That date is still more than 18 months away though, some time in early 2021.

Saturday/ a rabbit invasion?

I found this wabbit* right here on 17th Avenue on Capitol Hill tonight. He was not too skittish. In fact, he rolled around for a bit in the flower bed dirt after he had spotted me.
*It’s an eastern cottontail rabbit (Sylvilagus floridanus).

I see on the message boards that long-time residents think there is a bit of a rabbit invasion going on – an influx into Capitol Hill from other large green spaces such as the one around Husky Stadium.

Says one commenter: ‘Rabbits are a pest and an invasive species’. I think that is correct; they are prolific breeders.
‘People are an invasive species’ retorted another. I think that is a true statement as well.

Friday/ a rose is a rose is a rose

A rose is a rose is a rose
– Gertrude Stein, from the 1913 poem ‘Sacred Emily’

[From Wikipedia] Among Stein’s most famous quotations, this line is often interpreted as meaning ‘things are what they are’, a statement of the law of identity, ‘A is A’. In Stein’s view, the sentence expresses the fact that simply using the name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it.

I know I have posted pictures of roses from my front yard in the past! .. but here is one from right now (smile). The rose smells every bit as intoxicating as it looks.

Thursday/ three bears, breakfasting in style

Here’s a cute picture (taken in the late 1950s) of three black bears ‘having breakfast’ at Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, Canada.
The black bear is the North American continent’s smallest and most widely distributed bear species.

Picture from National Geographic Society’s ‘Wild Animals of North America’, published in 1960. I picked up the book at a second-hand bookstore in Port Townsend.

Wednesday/ ferry collides with a whale

A whale was struck on Tuesday night by the same ferry we had been on earlier in the day. Eyewitnesses said that the whale had breached right in front of the ferry, barely 3 minutes after the ferry had left Colman Dock in Seattle. There really was nothing that could be done to avoid the collision.

Adult humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) range in length from 12–16 m (39–52 ft) and weigh around 25–30 metric tons. [Source: Wikipedia]
It was a juvenile humpback whale that was struck, and the blow to the animal was likely fatal.  The ferry is so large and heavy that the impact was barely felt on the vessel. The US Coast Guard is now on the lookout for the wounded or dead whale. As of Wednesday night, no sighting of the whale had been reported.

From KUOW.org: While the collision may have been a first in the records of Washington State Ferries, humpback whales are becoming more common in Puget Sound and the risk of future collisions with all manners of marine vessels is increasing. Since the late 1980s, humpback whale numbers have shown ‘a remarkable and strong recovery’, says research biologist and whale expert John Calambokidis at Olympia-based Cascadia Research. Their numbers increased more than four fold to approximately 3,000 along California, Oregon and Washington. Commercial whaling was outlawed in 1966.

I took this picture yesterday from the front of the ferry called Wenatchee (looking back at Bainbridge Island), shortly after we had left the ferry terminal there. This same ferry would later on Tuesday strike a whale, on the way back to Bainbridge Island from Seattle.

Tuesday/ birds, bugs and more

Here are my bird and bug pictures of the weekend, with pictures of Mr Squirrel as well.

This little fella was venturing out from under its rock on the beach, and it is all of an inch or so wide. It is a green shore crab (Hemigrapsus oregonensis), very common in Puget Sound.
Mr Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) is eating his pine cone, while keeping me appraised. The little squirrels collect and hoard large numbers of pine cones in single or in multiple locations. The squirrels we have in the city are the bigger Western Gray Squirrel (Sciurus griseus).
Done eating, the squirrel dropped the pine cone core to the ground, and is still keeping an eye on me. (Nice little black whiskers).
Paul’s hummingbird feeder was buzzing with activity. This is a female Anna’s humming-bird (Calypte anna), a medium-sized hummingbird with bronze-green feathers above and gray below.
Here is the male Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna), with a beautiful iridescent red on its head and throat.
Here’s the male rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) in its browns with white on the chest.
The female rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus).
This is an orange-rumped bumble bee (Bombus melanopygus), sometimes called the black-tailed bumble bee. It is native to western North America from British Columbia to California, and as far east as Idaho.
This is a large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae). It has two black spots on top of each of its forewings but I could not get a picture that shows the spots. This is on the same bush that the bumble bee visited, near Point Hudson in the Port Townsend area.
Ladybugs belong to the insect family of Coccinellidae, a widespread family of small beetles ranging in size from 0.8 to 18 mm.  We call them liewenheersbesies in Afrikaans, which has a literal translation of ‘little bugs of the dear lord’.
A two-tailed swallowtail butterfly (Papilio multicaudata) on a rhododendron. This one, we spotted in Hansville. This is a big butterfly: their wingspan can reach reach 6.5 in. (16.5 cm).

Monday/ Port Hudson & Port Townsend

That red spot on the route back to Hansville from the Olympic Peninsula, shows that there were lots of traffic crossing the Hood Canal Bridge.

We drove out to Port Townsend and Port Hudson on the Olympic Peninsula today.

It was Memorial Day, which means there were lots of weekend visitors making their way back to the ferries to Seattle.

We are staying over in Hansville and will go back to the city tomorrow morning.

This is Cupola House in Port Hudson, dedicated to all the men and women in Jefferson County who served in the Korean War (1950-53), and especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Here is the Jefferson Museum of Art & History, located in the old Port Townsend City Hall building, constructed in 1892.
This viewpoint is to the north of Port Townsend, and we are are looking at the pier and the beach by Fort Worden State Park.  There is a giant yellow rubber duck in the water, and the lighthouse in the distance is on Point Wilson.
Beautiful bearded irises at the same viewpoint.
The end of the Hood Canal Bridge as we crossed it just before sunset. It links the Olympic Peninsula with the Kitsap Peninsula.

Sunday/ a bed of sand dollars

There was a whole bed of black sand dollars on the beach late Sunday afternoon.

Sand dollars in the shallow water, using the incoming tide to catch food particles with their fuzzy spines. Tiny hairs (cilia) ferry the food particles along their bodies to a central mouth on their bottom side.
Sand dollars are flat sea urchins called echinoids.  Dead ones lose their spines and the skeleton becomes white, bleached by the sun.
This is the meadow by Shorewoods Beach. It is on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula. There was an osprey in the treetop on the left (too small to see in the picture, though).

Saturday/ the Kingston Fast Ferry

We took the Kingston Fast Ferry out to Kitsap county today to go to Paul’s for a day or two.
It’s a new ferry service, in place since November 2018.

The smaller ‘fast ferries’ go under the umbrella term King County Water Taxi but there are different names for the ferries servicing the different routes. There are ferries from/ to  Kingston, West Seattle and to Vashon Island. The Kingston Fast Ferry takes 40 minutes, and goes at about 30 knots.
We are about to board the 7.55 pm departure from Seattle. This dock is a temporary location close to the main ferry dock called Colman Dock (also called Pier 52). Colman Dock is undergoing a major renovation.
Inside the ferry, with orange life jackets in the upper rack. Washington State had bought the ferry from New York State last year, and then refurbished the inside. The ferry used to provide service between Manhattan and New Jersey, starting in 1996. The name of the ferry is Marine Vessel Finest, a reference to the police men and women of New York City.
Looking back after we had arrived at the dock in Kingston, and disembarked.

Friday/ photo album conversion

I have completed the conversion of the best photos from my (physical) albums from yesteryear, into digital albums for my iPhone and iPad. It was a lot of work, but I am pleased with the results.

I had to scan in photos, adjust their image quality, research and add metadata such as Date Taken and Geotag coordinates.   I also created an ‘infographic’ starter image for each album – not essential, but I liked doing it.

I found out that syncing from a Windows PC to an iPhone or iPad has its limits, especially if more pictures are added later to the album, or if the metadata is changed in Windows.
The sync program does not pick up all metadata changes, and then one has to rename the file (ugh!) to get it to sync everything again to the iPhone or iPad.

Below are some of the albums as they appear on my iPhone.

Thursday/ my new mattress

The iSeries® Hybrid 500 Cushion Firm mattress with one of Serta’s googly-eyed sheep, used in the marketing of their mattresses. I suppose one would do well to fall asleep by counting only to sheep No 29! .. but even though counting sheep to doze off is popular in cartoons and folklore, it is not really used in real life as an aid to fall asleep.

I bought a new mattress on Wednesday, and it was delivered today.
It was high time to get a new one, even factoring in all the nights I did not sleep in my own bed over the years (but in a hotel while traveling for work).

My new sleeping pad is a fancy Serta hybrid mattress: layers of memory foam on a base of coiled springs.  It is a little firmer than medium*, and I did try it out in the store before I bought it.

*My hotel room in Rotterdam during my recent stay there, had a soft mattress, and it felt as if I was trapped in quicksand.

Wednesday/ covering up the cover-up

Are we seeing the disintegration of the Trump Presidency in slow motion?
Is this Trump’s ‘I am not a crook‘ moment à la Nixon? Time will tell.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Trump abruptly blew up a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday, declaring that he could not work with them until they stopped investigating him and lashing out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi for accusing him of a cover-up.

He then marched out into the Rose Garden, where reporters had been gathered, and delivered a statement bristling with anger as he demanded that Democrats “get these phony investigations over with.” He said they could not legislate and investigate simultaneously. “We’re going to go down one track at a time,” he said.

Trump in the Rose Garden today, shamelessly lying, as he does pretty much every day. One could argue – and present tons of hard evidence – that most of what Trump has done his whole life, is to obfuscate and cover up (his unethical and illegal/ borderline-illegal activities in his public life and private life. The list is long. He covered up his payment to a sex worker (prostitute) right before the 2016 election. He covered up Don Jr’s June 2016 meeting with the Russians. Right now he tries to covers up his tax returns, his real estate deals he is probably making while he is President, and his shady dealings with Deutsche Bank. He covered up his conversations with Putin, with the Saudis. On and on and on.
Personal check from Trump to Michael Cohen, as reimbursement for the hush money Cohen paid to Stormy Daniels. Trump lied when asked about it by a reporter on Air Force One. ‘I know nothing about it, you’d have to ask Michael Cohen’. Lying is one of Trump’s instincts; it’s compulsive and part of who he is. 

Tuesday/ where the signal meets the muscle

I played a little social tennis tonight on the Woodland Park tennis courts. We rained out on both Tuesday and Thursday of last week, so it was great to finally get out and play.

And hey! the muscle memory from many years of playing tennis is still there, sending signals to the old muscles and creaky bones— to run down that incoming shot, and strike it, so it goes back over the net.

Muscles need electrolytes (salty water) to function. A neuromuscular junction (or myoneural junction) is a chemical synapse (connection that allows a signal to pass), formed by the contact between a motor neuron and a muscle fiber. It is at the neuromuscular junction that a motor neuron is able to transmit a signal to the muscle fiber, causing muscle contraction. Here is what happens, all of it in a millisecond or so! (1) The electric signal’s action potential reaches the axon terminal. (2) Voltage-dependent calcium gates open, allowing calcium to enter the axon terminal. (3) Neurotransmitter vesicles fuse with the presynaptic membrane and acetylcholine (ACh), a small neurotransmitter, is released into the synaptic cleft via exocytosis. (4) ACh binds to postsynaptic receptors on the sarcolemma (membrane on the muscle fiber). (5) This binding causes ion channels to open and allows sodium and other cations to flow across the membrane into the muscle cell. [Source: Wikipedia]

Monday/ the case to impeach: stronger than ever

Well, here is the first Republican congressman calling out Attorney General Barr’s foul play in misrepresenting the Mueller report, and calling for Trump’s impeachment. (See Justin Amash’s tweets below).

What Trump has done – documented in the Mueller report, with hard evidence – cannot stand in the United States of America’s democracy,  without consequences to him.

In addition, Trump and the White House staff is technically committing obstruction of justice every day now. They refuse to comply to subpoenas from Congress for Trump’s tax returns, and other records. They refuse to let former White House lawyer Don McGahn testify in Congress (Don McGahn’s testimony about Trump’s obstruction is written up in the Mueller report). Trump has even sued his own tax preparer and Deutsche Bank, to prevent them from supplying any financial records to Congress.

Time to start the impeachment proceedings.  It’s overdue.

Sunday walkabout

It was very pleasant this weekend in Seattle (69°F/  21°C). We had none of the turbulent, stormy weather that swept through the Midwest and elsewhere.
Here are two pictures from my downtown walkabout this afternoon.

Construction on these newest Amazon buildings, on the corner of Blanchard and 7th Avenue, have both topped out. There are 24 stories on the left tower, and 8 stories on the right. I trust that those crane bases and moorings have been double & triple-checked after the bad accident at the Google construction site. (The little red car is a Tesla Model 3).
And nearby on 5th Avenue, as always, was the monorail train doing its short run from the Space Needle to Westlake Center downtown. I think it’s pulling off quite a feat: it manages to look both retro AND futuristic at the same time!

Saturday/ we have to stop burning coal

The Keeling Curve from the website of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/. It sure looks as if the Industrial Revolution (1760 – 1830) has been – and still is – a global catastrophe.

When I was a kid, we would build a cozy wood fire in the living room fireplace in winter time. On top would go a layer of anthracite (hard black coal, with a metallic luster on its surface), to make the fire glow a long, long time.
But then I would go to school the next morning, and the neighborhood’s chilly winter air would be blanketed by a layer of thick smoke. Man! I thought .. this is not good.

Now here we are, 50 years later, and I read about the Australian elections, and the saga of the contentious Carmichael coal mine in Queensland. The mine will be ‘hugely beneficial’ to Australia and ‘global climate change’, says Adani CEO Jeyakumar Janakraj. Really? Yes, your $16.5 billion project will create a few thousand jobs, but pump up to 12 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River. It will gouge out 60 million tonnes of low-grade coal every year from the Galilee basin right across the Great Barrier Reef. The coal will get burned in India and push up the 415 parts per million CO2 concentration we already have in the atmosphere.

Adani Australia, throwing in an image of black-throated finches into their Twitter propaganda campaign .. but ultimately it is not about the finches or the endangered yakka skink in Queensland. Climate change is real and humans are accelerating it by burning fossil fuels.


Friday/ congratulations to Taiwan!

Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. Thousands of gay rights supporters had gathered in the rain outside the parliament building in the capital, Taipei, to await the landmark ruling.

The Pew Research Center wrote up a report of gay marriage around the world, that has this nice map to show what progress has been made so far.

Germany and Australia were some high-profile additions to the roster of countries that have joined the list, both in 2017.
The map shows that there is clearly a lot of work still to be done in Asia and in Africa, though.

About two-thirds of the countries (18 of 28) in the world that has marriage equality are in Europe, but even there, there are notable exceptions: Italy and Switzerland. And no country in Central Europe has legalized gay marriage. Let’s also just note, that in some countries gay people are still actively persecuted, and former Soviet republic Chechnya, might be at the top of this list.

Thursday/ Times Square, then and now

I had a picture from twenty years ago, of a New York City street corner somewhere in Times Square, and I stubbornly used Google Street View until I finally found the place that I had taken the 1999 picture from.  It looks very different today!

P.S. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he is running for President in 2020 today. The count of Democratic candidates is now at 23.

Here’s the April 1999 picture that I had taken. It turned out that the Subway neon sign (middle left) is still there today. And I could use the tall white building on the far right to verify this is the corner of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue. P.S. Disney’s Lion King animated movie was released in 1994. Lion King as a musical debuted on stage in October of 1997, and has since become a monstrous success. By 2017 it had grossed some $8.1 billion.
Here is as close as I could get to the spot that I had stood on, for that picture of April 1999, in the latest Google Street View (Oct. 2018) images.  The Subway sign is still there, and a sliver of the white building in the 1999 picture can be made out down the street.