Tuesday/ no obscenity too depraved

On Monday evening, federal authorities used tear gas to clear Lafayette Square of peaceful protestors, so President Trump could pose for a photo while holding a Bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

It wasn’t the first time Trump has used the word of God as a political prop. But it was obscene, even for him.
– William J. Barber II and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, The Washington Post

Tuesday/ ‘escaping’ to space

How two Americans managed to escape the chaos of their country just in time …
‘We lucked out!’  ‘That was close!’
[Cartoonist Klaus Stuttmann in Der Tagespiegel newspaper].
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft bound for the International Space Station, lifted off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 3:22 p.m. EDT May 30, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

They will stay for an extended time at the Space Station for the Demo-2 mission. The specific duration of the mission is to be determined.

Monday/ stay home (some more) & eat ice cream

Washington State’s Stay Home order officially expired on Sunday night.
Some counties have moved to Phase 2, but not so for King County and Seattle. (Phase 1 is strictest, then Phase 2, 3 and 4. Phase 4 is the one which allows big sporting events and concerts, but still urges at-risk populations to practice social distancing and good hand hygiene).

It seems it will be really hard for King County to get its new Covid cases under 25 per 100,000 population soon (required for Phase 2). Even so, the County will immediately apply for a modified Phase 1 transition, to get some stores, businesses and restaurants to open a limited fashion.

These pictures are from the Molly Moon ice cream store on Pine St, today.

Saturday/ ugly scenes in downtown

You know it has to be bad when multiple emergency alert messages pop up on your phone.

In downtown Seattle today, a peaceful protest march was turned into a destructive riot, with evil-doers throwing Molotov cocktails and other objects at police, breaking storefront windows, looting them, and setting three or four vehicles on fire.

Seasoned reporters say this one was the worst since the 1999 World Trade Organization protests here in the city.

A curfew is now in place for tonight & tomorrow night, and the National Guard has been called in by the governor.


A police van burning in downtown Seattle today. It’s 4.12 pm, says the clock on the left. The peaceful march started at 3 pm. [Picture from King5.com]

Friday/ stay away from downtown

The streets were all quiet around Capitol Hill tonight as I walked down to Broadway at around 7.

Later on tonight, protesters squared off with police in downtown Seattle, though .. same as in many cities in the US tonight: Atlanta*, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St Paul (of course), New York City, Washington DC.

*Where CNN’s headquarters is being attacked by the very protesters (turned rioters) that they had supported as noble & just.

‘Hello Sir! Are you from the Seattle Times?’ inquired the young people on the rooftop of the Broadway Market building. I was taking pictures below with my journalist-grade camera. Oh, no, nooo, I said, shaking my head. Do you want me to take a picture of you? Yes, yes, they said. (I don’t have any of their names).
Artwork on the outside of the Urban Outfitters store in the Broadway Market building. I guess time will tell if this clothing store will survive the pandemic.
The side of the Broadway Market building. It was built in 1928 as a 25,000 sq ft complex of food markets. Condominiums were added at the back in the 1990s, and today there are several businesses housed in the building besides the QFC grocery store.


Thursday/ Minneapolis is burning

‘White people, by and large, do not know what it is like to be occupied by a police force. They don’t understand it because it is not the type of policing they experience. Because they are treated like individuals, they believe that if ‘I am not breaking the law, I will never be abused.’
– Khalil Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

There is a lot of trouble in Minneapolis over the police brutality that led to George Floyd’s death on Monday.

Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis on Thursday evening. [Credit:David Joles/Star Tribune, via Associated Press]

Wednesday/ more than 100,000 lives lost

So here it is, four months in: the United States reached the 100,000 mark for Covid-19 fatalities. We have a long way to go – but at this point the US has a far, far worse outcome compared to most other countries in the world.

Moreover, the actual number for the pandemic may already be as high as 125,000, if one adds in what is called ‘excess death*’ statistics.
*The observed number of deaths, minus the expected number of deaths under normal conditions, for a certain population.

There was not a word out of Trump about all this, who was at the SpaceX launch event in Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla. (scrubbed at the last minute due to bad weather).

Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for the 2020 Presidential Election, on Twitter today.

Tuesday/ King Neptune

Here is the artwork from the boarded-up Coastal Kitchen restaurant on 15th Avenue.

The art features King Neptune, the ancient Roman god of the sea. I think it’s King Neptune. There is also Poseidon*, the Greek god of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses.

*In the Oscar-winning movie The Poseidon Adventure (1972), the SS Poseidon was making her way to Athens, Greece.

Coastal Kitchen on an almost-deserted 15th Ave. ‘Essential Trips Only’, says the No 10 bus approaching in the distance. ‘Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise’, says the lettering on the main window of the restaurant.
Let’s see: a banjo-playing narwhal, a tambourine-playing mermaid, and a concertina-playing walrus. King Neptune (middle panel, a little squished) is reading from a scroll.
The walrus and the mermaid, with a harmonica-playing seagull.

Memorial Day

The last Monday in May is Memorial Day.
The Korean War (1950-1953) is called ‘The Forgotten War’, but let’s also remember those soldiers that had paid with their lives in the very recent wars in Afghanistan (2001-present) and in Iraq (2003-2011).

Sunday/ all the things trump did today

In 2014, Trump had criticized President Barack Obama for playing golf when there were two confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States.

Fast forward to May 2020, with the death toll for Covid-19 approaching 100,000. It’s Memorial Day weekend, honoring America’s war dead.

Picture and headline in today’s Washington Post. Yes. ‘President Trump’ .. but president in name only. Really: just an internet troll, a promoter of hydroxychloroquine, bleach & UV rays for Covid-19, as well as conspiracy theories – so: a charlatan*, a white collar criminal, a tax evader, a military draft evader. 
*person practising quackery or some similar confidence trick or deception in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception.

Friday/ Memorial Day weekend starts

Oh boy. I see there are pointers for a ‘pandemic’ Memorial Day barbecue with extended family or friends, in the New York Times. All good advice: keep it small, keep your distance, plan the seating, avoid finger foods, make it a potluck, or serve food straight from the grill, and so on. 

Hmm. As one reader commented, doing all that may just not be worth it. Another reader offered : ‘Stressing over social distancing, and keeping people out of your house, kind of defeats the purpose of having them over .. have people over who you trust to have hunkered down just like you, assume some minimal risk, and have a great time and enjoy each other’s company’.

Thursday/ people, mostly – not surfaces

Here in the USA, the CDC now advises that the virus ‘does not spread easily’ from contaminated surfaces or animals. Avoiding humans is the most important thing, and especially sharing enclosed spaces with them.

The pressure is mounting on everyone to wear masks ⁠— even outdoors⁠— it seems to me.

With all the States here now starting to reopen (tentatively, and with restrictions), I think it’s a legitimate concern that people will let their guard down, and that there will be a second wave in some States and cities later in the year.

Who knows, though: the miracle of an effective and widely available vaccine may appear by the end of the year.

Wednesday/ the blue hour

‘After a dinner party in 1892, the guests went from Krøyer’s home down to the beach to enjoy the summer’s evening, and Anna Ancher and Marie Krøyer went for a walk together along the beach. This is where he first got the idea for this motif. During the 1890’s in particular and until he died in 1909, Krøyer painted several works from Skagen, in which he depicted the twilight hour, the so-called ‘blue hour’, when the sky and the sea seem to merge into each other in the same shade of blue. Krøyer was far from the only artist to paint evocative, blue-tone paintings’. [From Google Arts & Culture]

Summer evening on Skagen Sønderstrand | Peder Severin Krøyer 1893 | Oil on canvas | Skagens Museum, Skagen, Denmark | Depicted Location: Skagen Sønderstrand, Skagen, Denmark | Depicted Person: Anna Ancher, Marie Krøyer

Tuesday/ the Doon Drive House, completed

Here’s the Doon Drive house, now replete with Chev truck by the front door, back yard, tennis court, swing set, swimming pool, trees and flower beds.

Did I go a little overboard? Well no – this is really not going overboard, given all the crazy things LEGO builders have come up with!
I will let it occupy my dining room table for a bit, and then decide what to do! Maybe I will put the bricks for just the house, in a shoebox, with pictures, so that it can be rebuilt again.

Here’s a bird’s eye view of the estate. The roof tile colors worked out great, and I replaced the original white wall bricks with a tan color for the house. I patched together several gray and green baseplates to create enough ‘real estate’ to work with.
This is the driveway paved with brick, with an early 80s Chevrolet K10 Custom truck parked by the front door.
The garage doors can swing open (but yes, the door openings are too tight to accommodate the truck).
The swimming pool was created with a white base plate, so that the translucent light blue & dark blue tiles could show their true colors. That’s a bore hole in the foreground, with a little froggie looking for some water. There’s a grey bird sitting in the thorn tree with the yellow blossoms.
The tennis court and swing set were challenging, but I am happy with the result. The ‘chains’ holding the tire for the swing are the only non-LEGO pieces in the entire set (wires covered with plastic).
The ladies are enjoying refreshments by the tennis court.
Check out the white bed sheets on the laundry line in the courtyard.
The roof can be removed to reveal the rooms and furnishings inside the house. Main bedroom on the far left with its en suite bathroom, and then a long hallway lined with bedrooms in the front, and additional bath rooms across from them. Front door and entrance hall on the far right.
Here’s the kitchen, on the left, the lounge on the right, and the dining room and little patio leading to the swimming pool.
Another view of the lounge, kitchen, dining room and patio.
Trees and flower beds in the back of the garden.

Monday/ Mount St Helens, 40 yrs later

‘Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!’ – Radio message from David Johnston (30), United States Geological Survey (USGS) volcanologist who was killed by the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington State, May 18, 1980 at 8:32 AM

It’s 40 years on, and Mount St Helens is still an active volcano and under constant surveillance. From the USGS website: The 1980 eruption jump-started interest in the study of explosive eruptions and monitoring efforts to improve warning systems that help mitigate hazards. The eruption underscored the importance of using as many monitoring tools as possible to track unrest and eruption activity.

We have five active volcanoes in Washington State, and one more just south of the state line in Oregon. For now, they are all at a ‘Normal’ alert level. [Map from www.usgs.gov].
Plinian column from May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. This is an aerial view from its southwest. [Graphic from @WAStatePks on Twitter.  Photo Credit: Robert Krimmel].


There was sun this afternoon, after a few days of on and off rain (64 °F/ 17 °C).
It was good to escape from the house for a bit, and take a few pictures of birds and bees and blooms.

Saturday/ President Obama

President Obama made welcome and rare appearance on national television tonight, delivering two virtual commencement addresses to the Class of 2020 high school graduates.

His main messages:
1. Don’t be afraid.
2. Do what’s right.
3. Build a community.

He commented on the pandemic as well, and criticized the handling of the outbreak that has now killed more than 87,000 Americans, and crippled much of the economy.
“More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge, know what they’re doing. A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.’

Photo and text from the New York Times.

Friday/ the ‘ghost dog’ of the forest

Today is the 15th annual Endangered Species Day.
Check out this picture of the ‘ghost dog’ of the Amazon rain forest.

A haunting still image of one of the Amazon rain forest’s most elusive and enigmatic mammals. It’s a short-eared dog .. or at least a type of dog. It is the only member of the canine genus Atelocynus, and also called the short-eared zorro (Atelocynus microtis). Researchers only learned of the species when it made cameo appearances on camera traps deep in the forest, that had been set up for other animals. At present, some 50 researchers are unraveling the creature’s habits and characteristics, hoping to be able to better protect it from extinction. [Video Still by Daniel Rocha. Information from the Science section in the New York Times, May 4, 2020].