Sunday/ warm and sunny

We got up to 89°F/ 32°C today.
So: toasty, and about as warm as we get here in the city.
(Ten years ago on July 29, 2009, though, Seattle saw a high of 103°F/ 39.5°C, but so far, we have been spared from a repeat of that).

Here’s the corner of Pine and 12th Ave, under blue sunny skies. The crow artwork has been there for some 4 years, but the blueberry snack bar ad is new.

Saturday/ Sandy Hook 2012, now already long gone

The massacres continue unabated here in the United States.
Saturday at an El Paso Walmart: 20 dead, dozens wounded. 
Early Sunday in Dayton, Ohio: 9 dead, 27 wounded.
Both are acts of domestic terrorism, committed by home-grown white nationalist Americans.

The Republicans and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell have repeatedly blocked laws passed by the House in the Senate.

The New York Times notes: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate,” Dan Hodges, a British journalist, wrote in a post on Twitter two years ago, referring to the 2012 attack that killed 20 young students at an elementary school in Connecticut. “Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

It should be noted, though, that in 2013, Connecticut State lawmakers did make sweeping changes to the state’s gun laws. It did not impact gun sales very much, but today Connecticut has one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation. (‘Lowest gun death rates’ is still a problem).

The United States of America with its lax gun laws: Awash in guns, awash in mass murderers. P.S. 2019 figures: 393 million guns in America, population 327 million.

Friday/ the Blue Angels are here

It is the peak of summer festivities here in the Pacific Northwest, and the start of Seafair Weekend. Highlights are the Blue Angels airshow, and the hydroplane race on Lake Washington.

Here is my quickie iPhone picture of the Blue Angels as they tore through the sky above Seattle today. They are very, very— ear-splittingly LOUD

The six Blue Angels flying in a delta formation today. The Angels are McDonnell Douglas-made F/A-18 Hornets: twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable, multirole combat jets. They were first used in combat (bombing raids) in Libya, in 1986.

Thursday/ more tennis

I have run out to the tennis at Seattle Tennis Club every day this week to watch the tennis there.
It’s a great way to enjoy the sunny weather.

Here is the little jetty on the shore of Lake Washington by the Seattle Tennis Club. Hobie Cats (like the one with the yellow, white and orange sail) were wildly popular in Plettenberg Bay in South Africa back in the day when my family went there in summer, and they probably still are. 
These are yellow and pink coneflowers (Rudbeckia), also called black-eyed Susans, basking in the sun by the tennis courts.

Wednesday/ the first Fed funds rate cut in 10 years

Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell fielded a lot of questions today after the announcement that the Federal funds rate will be cut by 25 basis points to a target rate of 2.00 – 2.25%. He characterized the cut as a mid-cycle ‘adjustment of policy’ — and that it is a way to brace against downside risks. (Um, another way to ‘brace against downside risks’ would be for the Trump Administration to stop the never-ending tariff wars with China and others).

That means savers will earn even less money on their savings. Borrowers for say home loans, may get a little relief from lower borrowing rates .. but 0.25% will barely make a difference on an 18% annual rate on a credit card!

Steve Liesman from CNBC talking about the rate cut. The US dollar is the strongest it has been in two years. The immediate reaction from the US stock market was negative, probably because the comments from Federal Reserve Board chairman Jay Powell were less dovish than expected.

Tuesday/ the Democratic debates, Round 2

CNN is hosting the second round of Democratic candidate debates this week. I played tennis and could not watch last night, but I saw the highlights.  The lowlights would be Trump’s Twitter responses that continued into Wednesday.

Here’s the dumbest man on television, commenting on the debates via his classic Twitter style: go for 4th grader insults that use ‘the worst’, ‘the dumbest’ .. and throw in distortions and lies. Side Note: New polls show that 51% of all Americans say that Trump is a racist. A shockingly high 46% say he is not.

Monday/ action at the Seattle Tennis Club

The Washington State Open tennis tournament started at the Seattle Tennis Club today⁠— for the week, and I went out today to go and take a look. The facility is not even 2 miles from my house, but I have never been there. All other times of the year it is members only and very exclusive.

It was $30,000 to join the Club in 2015 (a figure almost certainly higher by now), plus annual dues. The wait list time is said to be 8 years or so. Rumor has it that Bill Gates wanted to become a member, but now has to wait his turn, as well.

The Seattle Tennis Club on the shore of Lake Washington. That’s the city of Bellevue in the distance. There are 19 tennis courts on the roughly 8 acres of real estate. As it turned out, the guy in red is the No 5 seed in the Men’s Open section, and I watched him play a match just a little later.
A little bit of history, from a banner put up on one of the fences. The first tournament here, was held in 1890, only 13 years after London hosted its first Wimbledon tennis tournament in 1877.
The Washington State Open logo, done in flowers and greenery.
Here’s No 5 seed Riley Smith (22 yrs old, from Long Beach, California). He’s 6’7″ tall, and makes full use of it to smack his serves down into the opposite court. Bam!
His opponent was Jesse Schouten from Mill Creek WA (north of Seattle). Shouten is a good player, but lost in straight sets against Smith.

Sunday/ a few ‘very fine’ people, marching

I encountered a small group of ‘very fine’* Trump supporters on Broadway today, flanked by a large contingent of police officers (to protect them from a much larger group of protesters, I suppose).

From where I was standing, a much larger group of people followed along on the opposite sidewalk, all the time yelling loudly ‘FASCISTS, GO HOME! FASCISTS, GO HOME!

*Trump’s characterization of the Charlottesville white nationalist protesters, made when he talked to the press on Aug. 15, 2017.

The little group of ‘very fine’ Trump supporters were all of 7 or 8 people. That’s the yellow Gadsden flag with the rattlesnake on, and the words ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ (so are you all snakes?). Two Trumpsters carried Stars & Stripes flags, and two had Trump flags.

Saturday/ the new apartments at Cap.Hill train station

The construction crews are making good progress on the three new apartment buildings by the Capitol Hill train station.

The three new buildings called A, B and C, from a draft proposal that I found online. The buildings are 7 stories tall and will offer a total of some new 350 apartments. I believe the assumption is that these apartment dwellers will NOT own cars. They have trains and buses (and Uber drivers) on their doorstep to take them anywhere in the city, after all.
The view from Denny Way, looking northeast. This is as tall as the new apartment buildings will go. The open space between the A building (left edge of the picture) and the B buildings (right) will be a public plaza.
This is a late afternoon picture, looking north on 10th Avenue with the B buildings on the left.  The homeowners on the right are getting some shade from the warm sun in summer, but they have lost a lot of sunlight that they used to have in winter!

Friday/ here come the Wild Gears

I discovered a manufacturer of Spirograph-like gears online, and ordered a few sets of gears. It started out as a Kickstarter (publicly funded) project in 2013, based in Vancouver.  The gears are laser-cut from acrylic.

So! I’m just getting started, and I will have to pick a few of my favorite patterns and add colors in and embellish them.

Here is the ‘unboxing’ moment. The gears are still clad in brown paper sheets stuck onto them (to protect them from scratches and to make for easy shipping). I bought two large sets and two small sets.
Here is the set called Hoops. So this provides a large number of different sizes of rings for all kinds of patterns on their inside, or outside, or both.
This is called the Encyclopedic Set, because it has gears with 12, 13, 14 .. all the way up to 30 teeth. The smallest Spirograph wheel has 24 teeth. Just for fun, I ran the 12 gear in all the holes in the main sheet after I took the geared wheels out.
This is a special 120 tooth gear with odd geometric shapes to experiment with.
The tiny 12 tooth gear. I will have to find a needle point pen to use in the tiny holes.
A few doodles with the odd shapes gear.


Thursday/ Washington, we have a problem

The buzz on the cable news programs about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s un-spectacular testimony on Capitol Hill (about his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016  Presidential  Election, continued on Thursday.

No question: Trump is 100% guilty of welcoming the help of the Russians, of then obstructing the investigation into it, and of repeatedly lying about it. But his Attorney-General and the Republicans under Senate Leader McConnell do not care, and are completely supporting Trump.

What will the Democrats do next? I say start impeachment hearings. I’m with Charles Blow that writes in the New York Times:

People were told that opening an impeachment inquiry would be a mistake because that’s what Trump wants to energize his base — particularly a failure to convict in the Senate — and that it would virtually guarantee his re-election.

None of this washes with me. While Democrats worry about tearing the country apart, Trump is doing just that in real time. His base doesn’t need further energizing; they’re juiced up on sexism, xenophobia, racism and nationalism.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow to Adam Schiff, chairman of House Committee on Intelligence : ‘He (Mueller) persistently seemed – um – old’. Aw. (He’s 74). I have to agree, though. He looked worn out, and looked like a reluctant witness. Many of his answers were just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or ‘that is correct’. But he did say working with the Russians was ‘a crime’ .

Wednesday/ fear of an empty glass

Hmm.. is that a legitimate word: cenosillicaphobia? I wondered, as I looked at the letter board sign behind the bar counter in the Elysian Capitol Hill Brewery tonight.

Well, kind of. It looks like it was invented some 10 years ago. It is listed by Urban Dictionary, but not by Merriam-Webster (the gold standard for online dictionaries).

Ceno means empty, such as in cenotaph (a tomb or a monument erected in honor of a person, or group of persons, whose remains are elsewhere), sillica would be the glass and phobia (of course), the irrational fear.
No reason to suffer from cenosillicaphobia when the bartender is right there, though – unless you have had several too many, already.

Tuesday/ the United ‘Kingston’

There it is: Boris Johnson is the new Prime Minister of the United Kingston (per Ivanka Trump).

Can Johnson pull a rabbit out of the hat and deliver an orderly Brexit by Oct. 31?

Writes Roger Cohen in an opinion piece in the New York Times:
Johnson has played with his country, treating it like one of his many dalliances, with a sloppiness and fecklessness no wit or charm can excuse. He backed a British exit from the European Union on a whim — in the expectation it would be rejected — and has since become a pawn of the Brexit ultras, the crazed little-England monomaniacs who have now delivered him to 10 Downing Street.

Monday/ tree roots making trouble

The sidewalk on the left is the one that I always take to walk to the grocery store, and there is a really bad tree root bump in it.

One of the city’s transportation crews has dug into the soil today. An arborist will advise if the trees can survive, once the troublesome roots had been taken out. I hope the trees will be OK! I guess I will soon find out.

This is on Republican Street, between 16th & 17th Avenue.  

Sunday walkabout

The walkways around the Denny Substation opened yesterday, and I went to take a look today.

The view at the top of the walkway at Denny Substation. This is at a 2nd floor elevation, and close to the corner of Denny Way & Stewart St.
One can now stand under the ‘Transforest’ artwork and, um, learn to appreciate it a little more!
Here’s a view from Stewart Street towards the Space Needle. The site in the middle of the picture is under construction (1200 Stewart St), and this current view will change dramatically over the next 18 months or so. Two 45-story towers on a 3-story podium will be constructed with some 1,050 apartments and retail space. (Whoah). The new building partially fitted with its glass windows is 1120 Denny Way: a complex of two 41-story apartments buildings. Upon completion, it will be the largest apartment building in the city’s history with 1,179 apartments.
The construction of the new ‘Building Cure‘ for Seattle Children’s Research Hospital is about to be completed. I love the mirror finish on the lettering. This is on Terry Avenue.
Also by the Building Cure are these colorful sidewalk chairs that can swivel.
A giant astronaut in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, promoting an exhibit of the 1969 moon landing in Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

July 20, 1969 .. + 50

July 20, 1969: Buzz Aldrin walks on the surface of the Moon. Neil Armstrong was first to step out of Apollo 11’s Eagle landing module, though – leaving the first human footprints on the moon.

Friday/ no heat wave here

We are spared the heat wave that is gripping the Midwest and Northeast of the country.
The Seattle area may see 86°F/ 30°C by Sunday, but that is mild compared to the sizzling temperatures forecast for St. Louis, Washington DC and Boston.

The forecast for Saturday’s heat-indexed temperatures from Accuweather. Conversion: 95°F is 35°C | 100°F is 38°C | 105°F is 41°C | 110°F is 43°C.
The scene tonight at Volunteer Park at 8 pm or so. A smattering of people are listening to a violinist from South India, performing on the stage. Classical music barbarian that I am, I could not really appreciate the music, and so I left after a while.

Thursday/ ten years of light rail in Seattle

Today marks ten years since the opening of the Seattle light rail transit system. I was one of the 45,000 riders that boarded the light rail train for the first time, on July 18, 2009.

The initial line ran from downtown to Tukwila International Boulevard (close to Seattle-Tacoma airport). Four more stops have opened since then (Seattle-Tacoma airport & Angle Lake to the south, Capitol Hill and University of Washington to the north). The next extension of three more stops to the north, will open in 2021.

I made a run to the downtown station today, to buy this 10-year anniversary transit card. There’s the train in the background. There are currently 62 train cars in the system. They are made by a train car manufacturer called Kinkisharyo, in Osaka, Japan.

Wednesday/ ‘That means he has no bones’

Trump: ‘I don’t have a racist bone in my body’.
Joe Biden, asked about it by a reporter: ‘That means he has no bones’.

It’s Wednesday, and the furor over Trump’s tweets from the weekend, urging four female members of color of the House of Representatives to ‘go back to their countries’ (all four are American citizens, of course) has not died down.

Hmm. Let’s see. The C fits Completely. The P? .. Probably, I would say. Picture tweeted by Michael James Schneider (on Twitter: Michael James Schneider@BLCKSMTHdesign).

Tuesday/ hey, aster, aster

Ai, aster, aster, vat my hand en druk my vaster,
want my kop voel deurmekaar as ek na jou skoonheid staar*
*a rough translation: (young man to his girlfriend) ‘hey aster, aster, take my hand and hold me faster, for my head is humming, you are so stunning’.
– from the 1970’s Afrikaans folk song ‘Ai, meisie, meisie‘ by Jan de Wet

The aster in front of my house is flowering. Its genus is Kalimeris, from the sunflower family. It was first described in 1825 by the French botanist Alexandre Henri Gabriel de Cassini.