Saturday/ Paradise visitor center update

Here is this morning’s picture of the Paradise visitor center on the slopes of Mt Rainier.  That’s a lot of snow, that had been cleared from the parking lot!

The center itself is still closed to visitors, so those vehicles must belong to sightseers or merrymakers looking to sled on the low slopes.
The elevation there is 5,400′ (1,646 m), and the Mt Rainier summit is at 14,411′ (4,392 m).

Friday/ Anton Goosen turns 75

South African folk singer Anton Goosen turned 75 today.

He sings mostly in Afrikaans, but also in English.
I love his song called Magalies, O Magaliesberg — a song that (somewhat) romanticises the hardships of the 1830s Great Trek of the Voortrekkers (pioneers).
Some of these pioneers ended up in what would become the Transvaal Colony, and is today called Gauteng Province.

The Magaliesberg is a modest but well-defined mountain range north of Pretoria, with ancient origins. It was formed some 2 billion years ago.
The area around the range has seen occupation by humans dating back at least 2 million years, to the earliest hominin species (such as Mrs Ples). The Sterkfontein Caves, which lie at the World Heritage Site called the Cradle of Humankind, are close by. [From Wikipedia].

Ox wagons during the Great Trek in South Africa (1835-1838).
[Picture from Wikimedia Commons, from p209 of the book ‘The Voortrekkers’ by J.S. Skelton, 1909].
Voor op die wa sit my hoepelbeenpa,
agter op die wa sit my vaalhaarma
Waai die wind, waai my jas,
knoop my Sannie haar sydoek vas
Veertien rooies voor aan die wa,
sewe van my en sewe van my pa
Die hotagter, die Afrikaan,
hy en sy maat moet die disselboom dra

(Front of the wa1 sits my hoop-legged pa,
back of the wa sits my drab-haired ma
Blows the wind, blow our coats,
ties my Tammy her silk cloth close
Fourteen red ones front of the wa,
seven of mine & seven of my pa’s
The left back, the Afrikaan2,
he and his mate, must bear the bar)

1Short for wagon, we say v-ahh in Afrikaans
2A breed of cattle indigenous to South Africa

Lyrics from ‘Magalies, O Magaliesberg‘ from the Anton Goosen album ‘Liedjieboer Innie Stad’ (1986), with my own rough translation into English.

Thursday/ maybe it will be May, for me

Washington State has published new dates and target groups that qualify for getting the vaccine. I’m not making the cut, yet.

President Biden has promised that there will be enough vaccine doses for all Americans by the end of May*.  It takes a lot of logistics to get that vaccine injected into people, of course.

*For example, Merck and Johnson & Johnson will collaborate to ramp up vaccine production, with the help of the federal government.

Descriptions of the groups that qualify next for the vaccine. I’m not sure how if or how it will be verified that a person has two or more comorbidities.
And here is Washington State’s timeline for Covid-19 cases. We’re down to about 1/3 of the highs in December, but still double where we were in September of last year. The state has now crossed the 5,000 mark as far as recorded Covid-19 fatalities. A little bit of good news: so far, this is the mildest flu season in the 25 years that records have been kept. Of course, it kind of should be: people are wearing masks and not congregating in large numbers.

Wednesday/ a touch of spring

We had 58°F (14°C) at the high here in the city, and sun all day.
The little crocuses with their flowers have popped out of the ground, just a little bit later than they were last year.

And how do they know when to flower? It’s very complicated. Flowering plants have a master gene called APETALA1 (AP1). A combination of sunlight, soil temperature and water, prompts the AP1 gene to generate proteins, which in turn, switch on more than 1,000 other genes that are involved in the flowering process.

Tuesday/ my new iPad: a few notes

I have had my new iPad Air 4 for a few weeks now, and I like it. (Of course I like it). It is not a replacement for my Lenovo notebook computer (Windows), and so I do not have a little keyboard for it.  The iPad holds my iTunes music collection, my photo albums, my Scrabble games and my newspapers & magazines from Pressreader. I did get the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil — to see what cool things I can do with it, more than anything else.

I’m still getting used to the harder edges that Apple has reintroduced to their iPhones and iPads of late. There is definitely no air in the Air (it feels heavy), and the edges hurt my fingers a little bit, after I have held it too long while I lie on my back in bed, watching Netflix. (I know. I should watch Netflix on the big TV screen downstairs, and not in bed).

I got the blue finish, which is really a bluish gray, and not really ‘Sky Blue’, as Apple calls it. The cover is Apple’s magnetic cover, the navy blue color. That thin light gray button on the corner has Touch ID integrated into it, and it is quick and reliable. (Psst. I want it for my iPhone, Apple! The face recognition function to unlock my iPhone Xs no longer works in public, now that we wear masks). The 2nd-gen. pencil now latches onto the iPad’s side, magnetically, to charge —a vast improvement from the 1st-gen. one that had to be stuck into the thunderbolt port at the bottom. (The Air 4 has a USB-C port and not a thunderbolt port).
I’m not Vincent van Gogh, nor Andy Warhol, but it was fun to add some color to this self-portrait. I took the picture with the iPad’s camera inside the Notes app, and then embellished it with the Pencil.
Here’s something else I’m trying with the pencil and its electronic ‘ink’: filling out the giant crossword puzzles from the Irish Daily Mail. It’s a very different experience than printing out the crossword on a large sheet of paper, and using a graphite pencil and eraser. Maybe I will get to like doing it on the iPad, and maybe not.

Monday/ R Place to lose its place

I saw only today (it had been announced in early February), that the gay bar called R Place will not be able to renew its lease at its 619 East Pine Street location, after 35 years there.  Apparently it’s not due to the pandemic. The owner of the Pine Street building had died and the estate did not renew R Place’s lease.

The managers of R Place vowed to find a new location, but the loss of the four floors at the Pine Street location is a very big one for the LGBTQ community.
It feels similar to the loss of the beloved CC Seattle complex’s entertainment venue and bars, at the corner of Madison & 15th Avenue. (This was in Sept. 2010, to make way for the office building called the Bullitt Center).

The R Place location at 619 East Pine St. I took this picture a year ago, in Feb. 2020.
The building dates back to Capitol Hill’s auto row and is believed to have been a Ford Model T showroom, complete with a car elevator, the remnants of which can still be seen inside the four-story structure. The building must date back to say, 1911, or a little later. At that time, 31 of the city’s 41 car dealers were located on either East Pike Street or Broadway, joined by dozens of businesses catering to an entirely new class of consumers:  motorists. [Information from ‘Pike/ Pine Auto Row’ by John Caldbick at]

Sunday/ an unknown Van Gogh

This painting of Van Gogh has been in the hands of a French family for more than 100 years. It will be auctioned in March and is expected to fetch from €5m to €8m ($6.1m to $9.8m).

Auction of an unknown Van Gogh.
Paris A painting of Vincent Van Gogh (1853- 1890) that has been in the possession of a French family for more than a 100 years, never exhibited in public, will be auctioned in Paris on March 25 by Sotheby’s and Mirabaud Mercier. Van Gogh painted this canvas in the spring of 1887 in Paris, called Scène de rue à Montmartre. (Van Gogh lived there at the time, at 54 Rue Lepic, with his brother Theo). It depicts a street scene with the Moulin de la Galette, a windmill, and businesses near the top of the district of Montmartre in Paris. It is believed to be one of the last paintings of Van Gogh’s Montmartre works in private ownership. The painting is oil on canvas, size 46 x 63 cm (18 x 25 in). The auctioneers hope the final bid will be between €5m and €8m ($6.1m and $9.8m).
[Image & text from Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad].

Saturday/ the J & J vaccine: one and done

Late today, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine.

The vaccine works a little different than the messenger-RNA vaccines of Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna. It uses a modified adenovirus as a wrapper for DNA material.

There are three approved vaccines in the US now. I added my notes to a slide that the Today Show from NBC showed on Friday.

Friday/ Paradise is snowed in

There is a lot of snow on the slopes of Washington State’s mountains this year, in some places already 10% above normal.

These pictures of the Paradise visitor center at Mt Rainier were posted on the Twitter account from the National Weather Service (Seattle) @NWSSeattle.

JULY This picture is dated Jul 17, 2017. It’s high summer, but late in the day with the long shadows, which is probably why there are not many cars in the parking lot.
FEBRUARY This snapshot was recorded this morning, Feb 26, 2021. The US Dept. of Agriculture snow telemetry report says there is 16 feet (4.9 m) of snow on the ground there as of today, and that the air temp. has averaged 25°F (-4°C) the last few days.

Thursday/ earthquake alerts

My phone got the test alert this morning. I expected it, but the sound still startled me.

On Sunday, it will be 20 years since the magnitude 6.8 Nisqually earthquake that occurred here in the Puget Sound basin, on Feb. 28, 2001.

We’re soon getting a smartphone ‘shake alert’ system that will produce as much as a 30-sec. heads-up, that earthquake tremors are on the way (see diagram below). Thirty seconds or less — so this is not the time to panic and freeze.  

My plan is to duck under my dining room table — or to run into the smallest room (the guest bathroom). The upstairs bathroom would be the plan for the second floor.

And if you’re driving?
US Geological Survey (USGS) recommends :
– Move your car as far out of traffic as possible.
– Do not stop on/ under a bridge or overpass or under trees, light posts, power lines, or signs.
– Stay inside your car until the shaking stops.
– When you resume driving, watch for breaks in the pavement, fallen rocks, and bumps in the road at bridge approaches.

Earthquake early warning systems like ShakeAlert® work because an alert can be transmitted almost instantaneously, whereas the shaking waves from the earthquake travel through the shallow layers of Earth at speeds of one to a few km/ sec (0.5 to 3 mi/ sec).  When an earthquake occurs, both compressional (P) waves and transverse (S) waves radiate outward from the epicenter. The P wave, which travels fastest, trips sensors placed in the landscape, transmitting data to a ShakeAlert® processing center where the location, size, and estimated shaking of the earthquake are determined. If the earthquake fits the right profile a ShakeAlert® message is issued by the USGS. The message is picked up by ShakeAlert® partners (cell phone service providers) which could be used to produce an alert to notify people to take a protective action such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On and/or trigger an automated action.
[Image created by Erin Burkett (USGS) and Jeff Goertzen (Orange County Register) and updated by Robert de Groot (USGS)].

Wednesday/ more animals

I’m still adding animals to my collection.
These came with the poodle that I posted about on Friday.

The giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), also known as the ant bear, is an insectivorous mammal native to Central and South America. It belongs to the same order as sloths, actually. [Schleich Anteater, Catalog No 14844, New for 2020]
The llama (Lama glama) is a domesticated South American camelid, widely used as a meat and pack animal by Andean cultures for more than five centuries. [Schleich Llama, Catalog No 13920, New for 2020]
The fennec fox (Vulpes zerda) is a small crepuscular (active primarily during the twilight period) fox, native to the Sahara Desert and the Sinai Peninsula. Its enormous ears serve to dissipate heat. [Schleich Desert Fox, Catalog No 14845, New for 2020]

Tuesday/ a Hermanus house, then and now

I knew the house in this picture from long ago was in Hermanus, South Africa .. but what would it look like today? I wondered.
I did not have the address, but that outline of the mountain in the background was all I needed to track it down. Here is what I found.

1964. That’s my brother and me (on the right), on the lawn of a rented beach house in Hermanus (a 90 min. drive from Cape Town, to the east).
And what magnificent machine would that be in the garage? It’s my dad’s 1959 Ford Fairlane (it had a V8 engine). The name is derived from Henry Ford’s estate, Fair Lane, near Dearborn, Michigan.

2021. So, some 57 years later. New roof & new paint on the house (of course), The brick chimney is still there. The hydrangea, ivy and big tree are all gone, but at least there is another tree or two. [Google Street View, Sept. 2010].
And here’s a Google Earth view of the area, looking northwest. I added some annotation. The house was just about three blocks from the beach. The ocean water is frigid, though. The shores here catch some of the cold Benguela Current from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. The main road that runs through Hermanus is Route 43 (R43). On the right of the picture is a vlei (a shallow, minor lake, mostly of a seasonal or intermittent nature) that is now part of a nature reserve. [Picture generated with Google Earth].

Monday/ ten-oh-five East Roy

Here’s the apartment building called 1005 East Roy, here on Capitol Hill.
It was designed by Fred Anhalt (1896-1996), officially a developer and never an ‘architect’. Anhalt moved to Seattle from the Midwest in the early 1920s.
This apartment building was completed in 1930 (one of about 40 by him), and the first one in Seattle to feature an underground parking garage.

One of the ground floor residents has two Sphynx cats (the hairless ones). They sit in the window and check you out as you walk by.

1005 East Roy has 25 unique apartments. lists an open one at $2,995 p.m. for 2 beds, 1 bath, 1,195 sq ft (yes, that’s expensive, on a par with similar-sized brand new apartments in the city).
A view of the building from 10th Avenue. Anhalt’s buildings have been referred to as ‘Castles in Seattle’. They incorporate Tudor and Norman elements, such as turrets, stained-glass windows, and spiral staircases.

Sunday/ a grim milestone

The number of daily Covid-19 infections in America — and hospitalizations — are going down (again), but losing 500,000 souls was unimaginable a short year ago. Six hundred thousand now seems inevitable.

An estimated 750,000 Americans lost their lives in the four years of the American Civil War (Apr. 1861- May 1865).

Sunday/ coming through! .. the whole house

There was a spectacle at 807 Franklin Street in San Francisco this morning: an entire house that was moved to its new location 6 blocks away. (The basement of the house was left behind).

The move cost a whopping $400k ($200k for multiple city agency fees to facilitate the move, and $200k for the move itself).  The house was built in 1882 in the Victorian style, reportedly with wooden beams from 800-year old trees. (Sounds like California redwood. Sadly, only 5% of the original California redwood forests remain today— protected, of course).

Anyway, I checked its Franklin Street valuation on Redfin: in the order of $5 million. One wonders how much the valuation will change with the slight change in the location of the house. Probably not much. Where the house was, an eight-story 48-unit apartment building will rise.

Workers pass a Victorian home as a truck pulls it through San Francisco on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. The house, built in 1882, was moved to a new location about six blocks away to make room for a condominium development. According to the consultant overseeing the project, the move cost approximately $200,000 and involved removing street lights, parking meters, and utility lines. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Friday/ a poodle called Snowflake

One of the latest animal figures I had ordered from Schleich happens to be a poodle. I am naming the white pooch ‘Snowflake’ .. and no,  not because of the recent snow here in Seattle.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz took his family to sunny Cancun in Mexico on Wednesday night (to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, no less), leaving behind millions of his constituents in freezing homes with no electricity and no water.
That was bad enough, and Cruz returned the very next morning after a media firestorm erupted. It got even worse. It turned out that their family poodle, named Snowflake, was left behind in the freezing house.

Here is ‘Snowflake’. (Schleich® Poodle, part of their Farm World collection, Catalog Number 13917, new for 2020).
Snowflake got left behind in Houston in the Cruz’s freezing house. A security guard at the house assured the photographer that he is taking care of Snowflake.
[Photo Credit: Michael Hardy @mkerrhardy on Twitter]

Thursday/ the Perseverence has landed

Congratulations to the hundreds of collaborators at NASA, for the successful landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars. The mission was eight years in the making.

[From CNN online] The path Perseverance will traverse on Mars is about 15 miles long, an ‘epic journey’ that will take years. What scientists could discover about Mars, though, is worth the journey. To accomplish its goals, Perseverance will drive a little less than 0.1 mile per hour, three times faster than previous rovers.

A rendering of the Perseverance rover on Mars, NASA’s fifth. The rover landed in Jezero* crater, thought to have once been flooded with water. The crater contains a fan-delta deposit rich in clays, and the rover will look for evidence of life that might have existed on Mars. The rover will collect information about Mars’ climate and geology, and collect soil and rock samples that will make it back to Earth by the 2030s.
*Jezero means ‘lake’ in many Slavic languages. [Source of picture: NASA]

Wednesday/ scenes from downtown

It was back to the dentist for me this morning, to have him replace a filling in one of my teeth (n.o.t. fun).
It’s still very quiet downtown, and I just parked on the street close the Amazon biospheres — only $1 for two hours.

The cute Hotel 5 on 5th Avenue used to be an office building.
The biospheres seen from 6th Avenue. I’m sure the greenery inside are flourishing in its controlled climate. On the very left edge of the picture is the Amazon Day 1 building, and on the left is the new Amazon re: Invent office tower. In the distance behind the spheres is the Cirrus apartment tower.
I like the giant artwork displayed in the public walkway inside the Day 1 building. I did not get the name of the artist.
Looking northwest along 6th Avenue, towards the Space Needle in the distance.
This is the corner of 7th Ave & Bell St. A little bit of the new Amazon Nitro North building is visible towards the top right. Good to have that LOOK left and right sign for the new bicycle lane. (Look everywhere, for that matter. That cyclist straight ahead was heading towards me).
The new 24-storey Amazon tower called Nitro North. The walkway at the bottom right goes to Nitro South (8 storeys). Hey, should have named them Nitro and Glycerin instead, joked someone on a discussion forum.

Tuesday/ Denny Way construction update

It was dry and warm enough (49 °F/ 9°C) this afternoon, for a nice walk down to Denny Way, to take my customary pictures from the Interstate 5 overpass.

Looking west along the Denny Way overpass. The 1200 Stewart St apartment tower in front, just left of Denny Way, still has some 30 floors to go (of the 45). Behind it, the 2014 Fairview Ave apartment tower seems to be complete (42 floors). The twin towers (on the right) of the 1120 Denny Way apartments have topped out, and are just about complete on the outside. (Will these apartment towers be filled with work-from-home renters, that never go to a corporate office?) The blue & white bus is the Community Transit bus from Snohomish county to the north, and the red & yellow one is a Rapid Ride bus from King County.
Now I’m walking up, east, along Denny Way. There’s the Space Needle between the two apartment towers of 1120 Denny Way. The No 8 bus is approaching, just barely visible in the distance. Normally I would hop on, but not today — and not for a while. No public transport for me, for now.
Approaching the Denny Way & Olive Way intersection. No 8 bus turning onto Denny Way. A little snow on the sidewalk, still. The blue sky is a welcome sight.
Here’s the Broadway & John St intersection with the new apartments at the Capitol Hill light rail station. Hey, I see ‘Oranje Blanje Blou’ I thought: Orange, white and blue, the colors of the old South African flag (in use from 1928 to 1994).
Here is the No 10 bus on Olive Way. Starbucks is open, but sadly quiet. It would normally be packed with people just camping out there for the day, until it closed at midnight. Behind Starbucks is the 1924 Biltmore apartments.